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For Students & Educators

For Students

We know college students are some of the most avid music fans. The music habits and customs you develop now are likely to stay with you for life, so it’s important for you to be educated about enjoying music legally and responsibly. When music labels are deprived of critical revenue due to music theft, they are forced to layoff employees, drop artists from their rosters, and sign fewer bands. That’s bad news for the industry, but ultimately bad news for fans as well. We all benefit from a vibrant music industry committed to nurturing the next generation of talent.

The FAQs below provide background information so you can help encourage a thriving music community that continues to support exciting new bands for current and future generations.


For Educators

Educational institutions are uniquely positioned to shape student attitudes toward copyright. By adopting and consistently enforcing strong acceptable use policies for students as well as facilitating access to inexpensive and legal alternatives to music theft, colleges and universities can reduce operating costs overall—not to mention increase efficiency and reduce exposure to viruses by developing more secure networks. Visit for a list of authorized music services in the United States.



Commonly known as “piracy,” music theft affects an enormous cast of industry players working behind the scenes to bring music to you. Songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts, marketing specialists, producers, publishers and countless others are all affected by piracy. Piracy also undermines the future of music by depriving the industry of the resources it needs to find and develop new talent and drains millions of dollars in tax revenue from communities across the United States.

While downloading one song may not feel like a serious crime, the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally—and without any compensation to all the people who helped to create that song and bring it to fans—is devastating.

Authorized downloading is easy and doesn’t cost much. Music companies have licensed hundreds of digital partners offering download and subscription services. Discover the many authorized digital music models and services in today’s marketplace at

There are two categories to consider here: losses from street piracy—the manufacture and sale of counterfeit CDs—and losses from online piracy.

One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes. For copies of the report, please visit

As you can imagine, calculating losses for online piracy is a difficult task. We do know that the pirate marketplace currently far dwarfs the legal marketplace, and when that happens, that means investment in new music is compromised.

The music industry, while enormous in its economic, cultural and personal impact, is by business standards relatively small. So, theft on this scale has a noticeable and devastating impact: employment at the major U.S. music companies has declined by thousands of workers, and artist rosters have been significantly cut back. The successful partnership between a music label and a global superstar—and the revenue generated—finances the investment in discovering, developing and promoting the next new artist. Without that revolving door of investment and revenue, the ability to bring the next generation of artists to the marketplace is diminished—as is the incentive for the aspiring artist to make music a full time professional career.

We have always employed a multi-faceted approach to working with colleges and universities to educate students on ways to enjoy music legally. We have developed educational programs, participated in school speaker forums, worked directly with schools through our involvement in the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities and sent copyright infringement notices upon detection of illegal file-sharing activity on campus networks.

For years, colleges and universities have cooperated with the copyright notices we send by forwarding them to their students. Many institutions have also implemented their own form of a graduated response system, with escalating penalties for repeat offenders (such as required tutorials on copyright law or various forms of judicial sanctions).

Absolutely. We continue to monitor these and others and send notices to internet service providers upon detection of illegal file-sharing activity. Additionally, we continue to hold file-trafficking services responsible. We will continue to invest time and resources in pursuing the illegal services that facilitate and encourage theft.

We’re realistic. As an industry, we have lived with street piracy for years. Similarly, there will always be a degree of piracy on the Internet. We’re working to bring piracy to a level of manageable control so a legitimate marketplace can flourish.

We enforce our rights against people who steal music, but we also work hard to educate consumers about the law and about the many authorized l ways to get music online. Because we know the best way to deter piracy is to offer fans compelling legal alternatives, record companies are aggressively licensing their music to many great services – from download and subscription models to online radio to mobile apps and more. Giving these authorized digital services a chance to flourish is a driving factor in almost everything we do.

Music companies have never objected to someone making a copy of a CD for their own personal use. We want fans to enjoy the music they bought legally. However, downloading music illegally, stream ripping and copying CDs to give away all rob the community of people who create music and deserve compensation for their work.

Each authorized music service has its own licensing agreements with the individual record companies, which set many of those terms. Today there are some 43 million songs available across more than 70 authorized services in the United States, and growing. Visit for a list of authorized music services.

Devices and technology are not the problem. It’s when people use technology to break the law that we take issue.

Again and again, we have embraced the technological advances that have allowed millions upon millions of people around the world to enjoy the music we create. We want fans to enjoy the devices that make it easier for them to listen to music, as long as it is in a way that is responsible, respectful, and within the law.

We believe that leaders in higher education have a responsibility to acknowledge campus piracy, to take steps to prevent the theft from occurring, and to demonstrate leadership in teaching students that music has value and there are right and wrong ways to acquire it. When college administrators are more proactive in addressing a campus piracy problem, it usually means fewer incidences of illegal downloading on those school networks and less chance that students will get in trouble for breaking the law.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act enacted in 2010 requires all colleges and universities to develop a plan to address illegal file-sharing on campus networks. Higher ed organization Educause lays out the requirements for each school and showcases a few example schools which have taken proactive steps to reduce piracy on their campuses.

Many universities have successfully implemented anti-piracy technological tools and report receiving fewer copyright infringement notices. Several university officials have testified in Congress at the federal and state level about the efficacy and cost benefit of adopting an anti-piracy technology. While each university has its own policies and tools, technology has clearly been part of the answer.

There are several off-the-shelf applications that help campuses control network usage, define the scope of campus network bandwidth usage, and deter illegal file-sharing activity. These applications help maintain the integrity, security, and legal use of school computing systems without compromising student privacy.