ACT reading practice test 48

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.

Social Science

This passage is adapted from "Music Piracy," which appeared on, February 2009.

In the future, the only way musicians will make money is by playing live. New federal legislation says universities must agree to provide not just deterrents but also "alternatives" to peer-to-peer piracy, such as

5 paying monthly subscription fees to the music industry for their students, on penalty of losing all financial aid.

When record companies appeared, the services they provided were necessary in order for people to listen to recorded music. Making and selling records

10 was a major undertaking. At that time, making recorded music available to the masses required significant capital and investments, which in turn required a legal structure that would provide stable profits and return on the required investment. The

15 music industry used to provide people with tools that were essential to listen to recorded music. The difference between that time and our day is that record companies now charge people for permission to use tools they already have that the record companies did not

20 provide-that in fact people paid someone else for- yet the legal structure that developed during the time when those services were useful remains. The legal structure says if you don't pay, you are breaking the law.

25 "In our day, there is no need of publishers, distributors, and in most cases manufacturers. Modern technology allows people to burn CDs at home or publish their own records using the internet, distributing the material across the web digitally.

30 "The problem of piracy has been rising for the past ten years, and the numbers of "pirates" is growing day by day. The reason is simple: user-friendly peer-to-peer software takes only a couple of minutes to set up and another minute to become familiar with all the

35 features. In another ten minutes it is possible to find your favorite artist and download your favorite album. It's so convenient that it is becoming only a question of conscience whether to become a pirate.

It is becoming more and more difficult for the

40 music industry to ignore the basic economics, technological progress, and the outdated legal structures of the industry such as unenforceable property rights (because it is impossible to sue everyone) and "zero" production costs (peer-to-peer and file sharing systems became way

45 too popular). Music companies are still trying to charge for their music, but it's becoming more and more clear that as long as there is a free alternative (peer-to peer and other file sharing systems), the price of music and other media will have to fall.

50 Some artists have already started to accept the situation, and instead of fighting the "problems" have started to look for opportunities. Marginal production costs are zero, and with software applications, it doesn't cost anything to produce another digital copy that would

55 be as good as the original; as soon as the first copy exists, anyone can create additional copies. Unless effective technical, legal or other artificial barriers to production can be created, simple economic theory dictates that zero marginal cost plus competition (the possibility

60 that the consumer will create and spread another copy) results in a zero price, unless government creates artificial barriers to a free market.

In October 2007, Radiohead announced that their new album In Rainbows would be available to download

65 free of charge. But the networks and file-sharing systems had grown even easier to use than what Radiohead was offering. Radiohead's only requirement was for downloaders to set up an account on their website, but according to the statistics, that turned out to be not

70 "cheap" enough.

A new era is coming-the era of free music. Recorded music will become one of the marketing tools to get people to pay for live concerts, which will put emphasis on performance quality, resulting in cultural

75 socialization and stronger musical communites. In countries like Brazil, people have already started to use the situation as an opportunity, doing huge amounts of remixes, resulting in new styles and music cultures like Techno Brega.

80 Record labels are going down, struggling to make profits from CD sales, and it appears that digital music selling is more reliable for revenue. Copyright and intellectual-property law have to be updated, and the CD-sales model has to be reinvented as the CD-promotional

85 model in order to regain the value of a physical product with the emphasis now on live performances.

1. The passage's author most strongly implies that over time, record companies:

A. reported increased profits as production costs increasingly approached zero.
B. have taken positive steps to build stronger musical communities.
C. have broken the law by trying to sue everybody.
D. began feeling as if they had the right to charge people for the services of others.

2. According to the passage, the "new era" mentioned in line 71 will partly be characterized by:

F. increased governmental regulation of the record industry.
G. recorded music being used mainly to promote concerts.
H. increased popularity in the United States of foreign musical styles such as Techno Brega.
J. reinvention of the CD-sales model so that CD sales will become more profitable than ever.

3. As portrayed in the passage, so-called music "piracy" has been:

A. increased by the public's mastery of difficult computer software.
B. decreased by successful updating of intellectual-property laws.
C. increased by the user-friendliness of downloading sites and programs.
D. decreased by the record industry's appeals to conscience.

4. In the statement in lines 56-62, the author most strongly stresses:

F. his opinion that more government intervention in the matter is necessary.
G. the economic realities of where the record business is headed.
H. the suspicion that most consumers are distributing free music to their friends.
J. his distrust of the free market as it applies to the music business of today.

5. According to the passage, the reaction of record companies to the realities of the digital age has been to:

A. stubbornly demand unchanged profits in exchange for fewer provided services.
B. put more advertising money into the promotion of live performances.
C. start depicting themselves as an arm of the federal government.
D. look for opportunities in the problems and reform their business model.

6. The passage most strongly suggests that the author sees the modern music-consuming public as behaving:

F. dishonorably.
G. aggressively.
H. logically.
J. unimaginatively.

7. In lines 2-6, the author depicts an example of what he feels is:

A. young music pirates beginning to see themselves as a unified group with common interests.
B. record companies using their connections to influence legislation in illegal ways.
C. a commonsense move that will become normal in the near future.
D. the government passing responsibility for music piracy onto an institution not directly related to it.

8. The passage's author characterizes peer-to-peer filesharing technology as:

F. something that should be approached with caution, as it is still in its infancy.
G. something that will ultimately lead to increased creativity on the part of musicians.
H. something that the record companies should have more direct control over.
J. the most significant artistic development of the twenty-first century so far.

9. For the author, lines 82-86 mainly serve to support his earlier point that:

A. the CD will soon be a thing of the past.
B. most CDs will soon have data on them other than music.
C. CDs will continue to exist, but serve a different purpose.
D. CDs will soon only be manufactured by the consumers themselves.

10. Another cultural analyst discussing the controversy over peer-to-peer filesharing has this to say:

We have to ask whether allowing or prohibiting filesharing would promote the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Thus, we have to examine how many people are affected by the prohibition or permission of filesharing.

How does this account compare to that of the passage's author?

F. Both agree that the record companies have been foolish to ignore the way things are headed.
G. Both agree that the actions taken by music consumers have been predictable, if not necessarily morally correct.
H. The second author feels that filesharing is a matter of individual conscience, whereas the author of the passage feels it should be up to the law to decide.
J. The second author attempts to apply universal moral truths to the issue, whereas the author of the passage is more of a pragmatic realist.