Illegal Downloading: Why I Do It

I’m a simple man. I’m not dirt poor but I’m not what you would call “well off”. So when I hear the word “FREE”, my head pops up and I take notice. I’m a musician and singer with a deep love and appreciation for music. I’m quite a movie buff and enjoy sitting down to a good movie. I’m also a computer geek that loves to play computer games, and get acquainted with the latest computer software. However, I don’t have the $599.00 US dollars to pay for a program like Adobe Photoshop or $60 US dollars to spend on the new Roxio Easy CD creator and I’d like to see the hot new movie releases in the comfort of my own home and not have to spend about $30 US dollars for my lady and I to go to the local cinema. My lady and I still go to the movies about twice a month. I still buy a CD occasionally but I don’t like buying a CD if I’m only going to like 2 songs out of the 12 that are on it. So I download all these things. Now the games I download usually don’t stay on my PC for long. After I beat the game in most cases, I delete the file. The music I keep and the computer software I usually keep as well. Do I feel a bit guilty? Not at all. Allow me to explain a bit.

Back in the 1990s (before I owned a computer) like most other people, I was paying $18 US dollars for a music CD. I was paying $20 US dollars for a new release VHS video cassette (that eventually wore out). Even in the year 2000, I was paying for software so the entire media industry has gotten a decent share of my hard earned money over the years.

Myself, I’m a musician, singer, and songwriter. I try to look at it from the artist’s point of view. As a struggling artist in a constant quest for getting heard and getting my stuff “out there”, I wholeheartedly support music downloading. I figure the more people that hear my stuff, the better. And If (God willing) I ever get to the point where I get signed to a major label, I KNOW that more of my Cd’s will be sold than downloaded. Bands and artists like Metallica and Madonna need to get a grip. They’re not hurting and either of them can make a CD that sounds good OR bad and it will sell.

The Arguments.

Many claim that the reason that it costs considerably more to attend a movie at a cinema and rent a new release these days is because of the many who are illegally downloading the movies. In the infamous words of “Co. Potter” from the classic TV series M*A*S*H, “HORSE HOCKEY!!!” They charge more money because they CAN. EVERYTHING else has gone way up in price. Why would media and computer games and software be any different?

I recall seeing a public service message on TV with a few big and popular actors and actresses saying that when you download movies, that you’re not just hurting the actors and actresses. The message goes on to show pictures of camera men, makeup artists, and all the tech people behind the scenes of these big movies and it tells you that you’re hurting THEM to? What does “Co. Potter” have to say to that? “BUFFALO BAGELS!!!” It would be a safe bet that the “Key Grip” personnel (what do those people DO anyway?) that worked on the movies like “Lord Of The Rings”, “Talladega Nights”, and “American Pie” are still working in the film industry and are NOT eating at the local soup kitchen. They are NEEDED in film production and they are STILL producing movies. I mean, who’s gonna GRIP THAT KEY???

The Culprits

We’ve all heard of Napster (a legit company now) and Kazaa but with every program that gets disabled or forced to go legit, there are several new programs coming out. The technology itself is changing as well. Programs like “Limewire” , “Bear Share” and “Shareaza” are the current and most popular “Peer To Peer” programs. The current technology is “Torrent” files and several programs are available to download “Torrent” files as well. It’s a bit complicated but not difficult to learn. Computer geeks and even some less than knowledgeable soccer moms and grandma’s are jumping on the Torrent wagon.. (Climb on board, we’ve got PLENTY of room). The current top Torrent program and technology is called “Bit Torrent”.

What Can Be Done About This?

VERY LITTLE. Downloading files illegally has become so easy and thus, VERY popular. Sure, the big companies can nab a few users, prosecute and make an example of them but it’s just a drop in the bucket. Laws are different all over the world and people are downloading from all over the world. Software and game companies have implemented technology to stop hackers from cracking their program. This amuses me. There are BIG teams all over the world that have thousands of members (I’m on one of them) talented in various areas of hacking that are always collaborating to get around these things and they consistently do. Some have talked about Internet Service Providers joining the fight against people who illegally download by limiting bandwidth that each user uses. BUT, this would make the LEGIT Internet users suffer too. People who BUY a LEGAL copy of a game for example like “Battlefield 2” and play it online (the only way you can play it) will use a LOT of bandwidth every month and aren’t doing ANYTHING illegal. So you won’t see a lot of that happening and if it does happen, they will suffer and ultimately lift the restriction.

An Example

A recording studio software company called “Steinberg” has a program called “Cubase SX”. When you purchase this program for $400 US dollars, included with the install discs is a “dongle key”. This is a small stick that plugs into the USB port on your computer. This stick, validates the program. You NEED this stick to operate it. Full proof right? WRONG. Within 2 DAYS of the program’s release, a “dongle key” file was created that fooled your computer into thinking that the actual “dongle key” was plugged into the USB port. Do I have it? YES. Did I PURCHASE a legal copy of it? I’ll never tell. (wink).

Now I DO have SOME morals. I download all these things for my own use. Sure I’ll burn a CD of Norton Anti Virus 2006 for a friend but you won’t see me offering to sell copies of a $2500 US dollar recording studio software program that I have for $500 or selling a DVD (very good quality) copy of “Pirates Of The Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest” for $10 US dollars. Doing THAT is pretty hefty crime wise in my opinion.

The issue with the illegal downloading of music, movies, software and games is GIGANTIC and too large to make any sort of real dent. When a new CD from an artist is no longer shipped multi platinum and no longer sells like mad, I’ll stop downloading music. When new movies stop breaking box office records on opening weekend, I’ll stop downloading movies, when the stock shares of software and game companies start plummeting, I’ll stop downloading games and apps. Until then, I will continue to upgrade my PC tower with larger and multiple hard drives to accommodate the files I download.

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