You’re a Criminal

Christopher Findley, Opinions Editor

Upon looking at people’s phones or laptops around school, there’s something there that often disturbs me. At times, I’ve tried to convince myself that this isn’t that big of a problem, and that I’ve simply been over exaggerating the harm of this, but the fact that I cringe whenever this happens has told me that this is in fact a problem. Illegally downloading music or media is wrong – no matter how you look at it.

People like to download music specifically online because it’s easy and cheap. Why pay for things when you can have them in a couple minutes at no cost? Well, my go to argument against this has always been that you should support something that you enjoy. People create professional music in order to make a profit, and if they aren’t making money they won’t continue to release any, which will result in the end of the thing that you like. Some say that for major artists, some people illegally downloading items won’t harm them, for they have too much money anyway. In my belief, this shouldn’t and doesn’t matter. When someone releases a product intended for commercial release, you should buy it if you want to partake. You wouldn’t walk into a dealership and steal a car, or claim to be a fan of a television show and never watch it would you?

But if the moral grounds against taking people’s property doesn’t concern you, then maybe the possible consequences will. Contrary to popular belief, you can, in fact, go to jail for illegally downloading music. You know that copyright infringement warning at the beginning of DVD’s? Five years of jail time and a fine of $250,000 are both possible punishments for offenders. Even if you aren’t criminalized, you can still be fined, with the minimum price being $750 per song.

All in all, stealing isn’t a great idea. It harms others, is morally wrong, against the law, and it isn’t something that you would want happening to you. Music isn’t that expensive, especially with services like Pandora or Spotify that allow you to stream music legally for a cheap, monthly charge. And if you argue that you don’t even have the money to acquire a membership, then tough. You aren’t entitled to listen to music consistently. That isn’t a fundamental right, but a right to property is.