10 June 2013

Illegal Music Downloading: An Economist's View

One year ago, David Lowery (musician of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fame) wrote a blog post in which he decried the practice of illegally downloading music. The post proved a subject of great argument that summer, with other musicians and tech folks chiming in with surprising intensity.

I take an economist's view of the issue: if the Internet has brought the market value of recorded music to zero, this constitutes a market failure. In the event of a market failure, an economist would prescribe government intervention. I will briefly describe the problem with illegal downloading and then offer several solutions for government intervention. Finding them lacking, I conclude that only enlightened consumerism will do until governments can better address the problem.