GMA anti-piracy campaign has simple message: ‘It’s wrong’

by Michael Foust, posted Tuesday, May 11, 2004 (14 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--With a new survey suggesting that Christian teens have attitudes toward music piracy that are similar to those of non-Christian teens, the Gospel Music Association has launched a campaign with a simple message:

Music piracy is wrong.

The “Millions of Wrongs Don’t Make It Right” campaign is directed at Christian teens that see nothing wrong with copying CDs or downloading and uploading copyrighted music through the Internet.

The campaign comes with the endorsement of contemporary Christian music artists Steven Curtis Chapman, Stacie Orrico and Shaun Groves. A free brochure -- downloadable at -- has been created to get the message out.

“[Music piracy is] legally no different than walking into a music store, stuffing a CD into your pocket, and walking out without paying for it,” the brochure states.

The campaign accompanies the release of a study by the Barna Group showing that only 8 percent of all teens and 10 percent of born-again teens say that music piracy is illegal.

The study found that 64 percent of born-again teens are “pragmatists” -- that is, they either say that piracy is not a moral issue or they say that one form is acceptable while the other is wrong. In addition, 77 percent of born-again teens say they engage in music piracy. By contrast, 66 percent of non-Christians are categorized as “pragmatists,” while 81 percent engage in piracy.

Only 10 percent of born-again teens say that both copying CDs and downloading music is wrong.

Music piracy has been around for decades with the copying of tapes and CDs. However, with the development of the Internet and “file-sharing” software, it has become much more common. With the new software -- also known as “peer-to-peer” software -- music can be shared over the Internet and burned to a CD.

Although common, music piracy is illegal and punishable by as much as five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines, according to the GMA brochure. If a juvenile is involved, the parents can be sued.

The campaign asserts that music piracy is not only wrong but also deprives artists and their support staff from receiving money earned. CCM artist Shaun Groves says that teens he’s met have a “Robin Hood complex” -- believing they’re taking from the wealthy, thus making piracy OK.

“The reality is that my wife and two kids live in an apartment,” he says in the brochure. “We drive 10-year-old Camrys, not BMWs. ... But even if I was outrageously wealthy ..., would it then justify someone illegally downloading my music? Of course not.”

Richard Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said a “two-pronged” approach must be used in making the argument to teenagers. First, teens must be told that piracy deprives musicians from making a living. Second, they must be told that piracy is wrong. But Ross said that Christian teens should have the right motive in obeying the law.

“We don’t obey the law just because there are practical harms from disobedience,” he told Baptist Press. “As Christians and as citizens we obey the law primarily because of our respect for the rule of law. Otherwise, teenagers will make decisions about obedience only on the basis of whether the law makes sense to them. They may choose to obey only those laws that seem to aid them or perhaps better society in some vague sense. That is not acceptable.”

The Barna survey of 1,449 teens was conducted online Feb. 20-24. Harris Interactive gathered the data; Barna designed the survey and provided the analysis.

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