The Mindset Behind File SharingJanuary 12, 2020
If you were to have asked me, “Does downloading music online for free seem illegal to you?” back when I was eleven or twelve, I would have answered a firm ‘No’. Back then ‘Napster’ was popular with every single college student and you could find literally any song you would ever want online, for free. After the band ‘Metallica’ made a big fuss about file sharing being illegal, everyone switched to ‘KaZaa’ for their downloading needs. I do remember it like it was yesterday. Then, the MPAA cracked down and we, the illegal file sharers, were forced to use ‘KaZaa Lite K++’ for our dirty deeds.
Boy, have times changed. Even in the small amount of years since then, file sharing is easier than ever. If you were to ask me today, as an adult, if I thought file sharing was illegal, I’d give a firm ‘Yes’. That doesn’t mean, however, that I think it is wrong. Since I’ve grown up as a kid I’ve realized that just because something is illegal doesn’t make it wrong or evil.
All virtual data rooms have strict principles adhering to discipline which is natural as it involves sharing files containing sensitive information.
Take the act of stealing cable. Sometimes when flipping through channels you’ll see the occasional ad that demonizes stealing cable, saying ‘it’s stealing too’ and making it seem like such a dirty thing to do – what a load of crap. Who are you hurting by stealing cable, what are you harming; a profit quota of some conglomerate? I am not trying to promote illegal activities at all – that is most definitely not my intention. If you could get cable for free and save around thirty dollars a month – I don’t think I know anyone who wouldn’t. That’s all I’m simply saying.
Now this goes hand in hand with file sharing. If you didn’t have to pay ten to fifteen dollars for a CD or spend even more on DVDS and computer games -I don’t think I know anyone that would. And yes, it is stealing, but it doesn’t seem wrong. For me, going into a store and grabbing something off of the shelf is stealing, and it’s wrong. But with files and the internet, it’s not the same feeling at all. It’s easy, fast (depending on your connection speed), and most alluring of all, fun. Sometimes you’ll find something you can download online that you would never be able to purchase in person, or you’d have to make a valiant effort online to buy a copy of said material – be it CD or DVD.
I’d say the only thing one should feel bad about when illegally downloading files or music online – the true victim – is the content producer; whether it’s a musician or a game programmer. I truly do believe they are the only ones legitimately harmed in the process of online file sharing. And on a side note – ‘Metallica’ doesn’t count – they’re super rich and I could care less about them.
I’m talking about the real musicians, the real artists that deserve the money they earn when make that CD you just downloaded. Once when I was in high school, I did a research paper on music. I needed a personal interview with a professional musician. Desperately I went on to MySpace and messaged the front man of one of my favorite bands. To my joy he messaged me back and over the course of a few days answered all of my questions about music and his personal convictions about. And in the middle of one of the messages he sent me, he made a point along the lines of ‘a lot of people think all musicians are rich – and that isn’t true’. When I thought about what he said, it really affected what I thought about file sharing.
Not every musician makes as much money as ‘Metallica’ does, and not every musician sues file sharers so he can put another gold statue in the middle of his Olympic swimming pool. Most musicians and game and software developers are just like you and me – they’re not rich at all. And they’re the ones most affected by file sharing.
We think of file sharing as not illegal and not morally wrong because it’s so accessible and fun. Until the day when those giant corporations reformat the way the sell us media – hopefully delivering a larger portion of the profits to the one responsible for them, it is wrong; illegally and morally – because there are victims.
So the next time you find that CD you’ve been looking for, for so long, think about buying it first. There’s nothing wrong with spending a little money. Or just wait until you get that email in your inbox with the subject ‘Notice of Copyright Infringement’ and the warm feeling in the bottom of your pants that comes along with it.
And in no way am I saying that I’ve ever illegally downloaded any kind of copyrighted content, or that you should.