File sharing is the gateway to theft
Many people say that file sharing isn’t really stealing. They justify it by saying that they bought the music in the first place and should be allowed to use it as they wish.
However, sharing takes away potential buyers. These people would rather rip off the artist than pay for the content with their ‘hard-earned money’.
There really isn’t any difference between stealing somebody’s wallet and taking their music and making it available to others for free when you look at the loss suffered by the act of sharing.
Also, the digital nature of the product makes people feel as if they’re not really nicking something tangible, rather just making something virtual available to others.
So at first glance, it might seem fair to object to the word ‘stealing’ in a digital context. Rather, it mostly seems to be a way of avoiding the very real fact that the action of sharing has caused someone a financial loss by appropriating and distributing something you either haven’t paid for or just isn’t yours.
It’s not really loss of intellectual property – everyone acknowledges the artist and nobody else is claiming credit for the music itself. However, it’s the financial loss to the artist that amounts to the file-sharer enabling ‘stealing’.
In this sense, ‘stealing’ is a whole lot more descriptive than ‘copyright infringement’ or ‘illegal downloading’.
The fact that a product is in digital form rather than physical form doesn’t remove the fact that by making a copy of that file available to others who will get it without paying for it, you are depriving the owner of that digital property of the revenue that would have been earned from a sale.
Downloaders aside, the person making it available is the one to blame - they are creating the 'market'.
In the case of a musical recording, that’s an act that affects not just faceless producers – who cares about them fat cats anyway? – but all the little people involved in creating the music and the software that digitised the music itself.
Personally, I’d rather get something for mahala. It’s human nature. Money for nothin' and chicks for free. I'm all for making music available to the masses without having to pay an arm and a leg. But I know that supporting an artist will keep their industry alive. I mean, we evidently want the music, so why take away the income that keeps the music coming?
A lot of artists starting out want their music shared, and for good reason – to get their music out there. But eventually they have to stop living off Marie Biscuits and use their skills to earn a living.
And I’m not talking about the big bands here – U2 doesn’t really need more money. But someone starting up on their way to becoming the next big thing… I would buy their music to show my appreciation for their talent… and to get them to that level – like U2 – where ticket sales can go towards AIDS research rather than merely covering their petrol costs.
But that’s just me. I’m sure 98% of you out there are laughing at me and calling me a sucker, but for me, music is a necessity. It’s part of my genetic makeup without which I would probably go mad. For most other people, it’s a luxury, and I understand that it’s something for which people are not prepared to fork out. It’s expensive. But then again so is the iPhone you’re loading it on.
Hell, show some respect. Even if it’s by buying individual tracks that you like online and leaving the rest of the album.
We can’t know for sure whether the downloader would have paid for the music anyway had they not misappropriated the property, but we need to curb this to save quality artists who are being ripped off because of some selfish kid in the suburbs who has too much bandwidth on their hands.
File sharing and downloading is not only illegal for a reason – that is stealing from the artist – it’s disrespectful to them and all those involved in the process of creating the product.
After all, you wouldn't want anyone stealing from you - be it your shoes, your money or your ability to earn your full salary.
Note: I do not endorse piracy, but I do have sympathy for people sharing and downloading music that encourages violence, theft, all round horrible behaviour or Justin Bieber. That’s not piracy. That's called 'doing the world a favour'.