Weird AL Yankovic is quite the funny guy. He makes fun of just about anything and anyone. In his usual comical fashion he wrote a song called Don’t Download this Song, and in a bit of an ironic fashion offered it as a free download on his website.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re downloading? How much you are downloading and from where? From what I understand it is perfectly legal to torrent in Canada, something that a lot of people do, downloading content via the internet or file sharing sites and not paying for that content. There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice but I often wonder about the morals of taking something for nothing like this. It’s not a gift that was given to you from those that created it.
I know I am probably in the minority but something just bugs me about downloading content and not paying for it unless it has legitimately been offered free by the ones who created that content. There is a lot of money and time that has gone into creating movies, TV shows, music and other forms of content. The artist behind these creations have spent countless hours and millions of dollars to create something for you to enjoy. It just does not feel right to take it and not pay for it. Surely that music, movie, TV show or book has some value to it.
Imagine for a moment that you were given a gift from someone. You just love that gift. It was something that you have wanted for a long time but you could never afford to buy it yourself. You have spent years looking for the right deal and the right price. One year for your birthday or Christmas a family member, friend, co-worker someone gives you this gift. Later you find out that this gift was actually stolen or purchase through illegal means. Would you still keep the gift? Would you still feel good about having the gift knowing that those who created the product or service did not get paid for it after all their hard work to produce that product or service? Would you just say hey it does not matter I did not have to pay for so it is not my problem.
I am not trying to suggest that there is something wrong with content sharing. I do believe, however that we should not be downloading content for free unless specifically offered through the producers of said content. For me the legality of the issue is not in question but the morality of the issue.
Imagine for a moment that you spent hours or years producing your art. You worked hard and dedicated your life to producing that content. You put your heart into it, it is your passion and the love of your life. Then you found out that millions of people around the world have been taking that content without paying you anything for your hard work to produce it. How would you feel? Would it bother you at all?
Perhaps another analogy would work better. You go to work everyday. You are passionate about your job. You work hard to make your employers business profitable and successful. You put in a couple of thousand hours a year. One day your boss comes up to you and says thanks for all you hard work but we are not going to pay you for it. We just don’t feel we need to because you can work for free. Sure some might pay you for your work but we don’t think we need to because so many people would rather you work for free. Why should we pay you if we don’t have to?
I would imagine you would be pretty upset. Angry even. This is not right you say. It’s not fair. You worked hard for your boss and deserve to be paid. How is this any different than authors, musicians, actors and other artist who produce content for your enjoyment. They have a job because of their fans. They get paid through sales of their art, Just as you get paid for your hard work and dedication in whatever you do for your vocation. This is only fair and just.
When God gave the commandment of “thou shalt not steal” I do not believe he was saying that its is OK to take for nothing when it is legal to do so. For me at least it is theft to take and download content that has not been offered for free legitimately by the artist, producers or publishers of the work. It simply does not sit right with me to take that which has been worked so hard to achieve without paying for it.
Would you go in to a record store and just steal a movie or CD? would you walk into a book store and steel a book? or sneak into a movie theater and watch a movie without paying for a ticket to the film?. I really can’t see how that is any different from torrents. We love to tell our selves that it is OK because it is legal in this country, but if you do not see sufficient value to pay anything for it then what value does it have to begin with?
When all is said and done, I feel that downloading movies, music and other content for free without it first being offered by the owner of said content is theft and it just does not sit well with me to think that so many people are taking something for nothing after all the hard work that went into producing that art. It’s dishonest and not in council and not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Don’t forget to check out my book reviews