What Is Music Piracy?

music-piracy Credit: Tim Robberts/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Music piracy is the illegal copying or downloading of music without the consent of the recording artist, composer or recording company releasing the piece of music. Paying for the music typically invokes the consent needed to make a copy legally.

Music piracy has a devastating effect on songwriters, composers, audio engineers and everyone else involved in recording music, according to the RIAA. The Institute for Policy Innovation estimates a $12.5 billion annual loss to the U.S. economy due to music piracy, with $2 billion in lost wages and 70,000 lost jobs. Music piracy most often takes the form of people using file-sharing networks on the Internet to upload or download copies of music for free.