Piracy: A Victimless Crime?

{Hey, Girlz! I recently wrote this essay about piracy for my writing class, and I thought I'd share it with y'all. Piracy really is a serious thing, and I do believe it goes against the Bible. I'd love to hear your two cents. Leave a comment! ☺}

CRASH! Shards of glass shoot across the floor as fast as bullets. An alarm lets out a piercing wail as a masked thief darts through the broken window and into the night with stolen items clutched in his hands. A police car soon follows, its flashing red and blue lights reflecting off of shop windows along the streets.

Although different people have different moral bases, many would agree that stealing is wrong. If someone took money or an item of value from you, it would only be natural for you to be upset and to call the police. Another crime that is also against the law but is taken very lightly and supported by many is what is known as piracy - the illegal downloading, copying, or distributing of a form of media that infringes on the item's copyright. This includes watching a movie online that you did not pay for, posting a copyrighted song for millions of people to download, or burning copies of CDs to give to your friends, to name a few examples. Although many people practice piracy regularly, I take an unpopular stance in saying that I believe it is wrong and is, in actuality, the same as stealing.

Piracy is seen in many eyes as a victimless crime that is easy and free. What many Americans don't realize is how much it really does cost - for our economy, and also for the people who make the media we download. Due to the piracy of sound recordings alone, our country's economy loses 12.5 billion dollars annually. On top of that staggering number, over seventy thousand jobs are lost, and 2.7 billion dollars are lost in U.S. worker earnings, to name a couple of examples. (Siwek)

Not only is our economy negatively affected when media is stolen through piracy; it also takes a drastic toll on the people who record, produce, and distribute music, games, and videos. All of the people involved in the creation of media put so much money, time, and effort into making things they hope will provide enjoyable entertainment for us. When a physical item or money is stolen from someone, it impacts the person and costs them something. The same is true with piracy. Even though it may seem “innocent” and “harmless,” it robs the people who created the media.

I asked some of my friends what their views on piracy were, and it was so interesting to see the differences and commonalities in their responses. One commonality between some of the responses was that the prices to buy movies and music are constantly being raised, and many people don't want to pay for something they can just get online for free. Even though I agree that media can be overpriced, there are far better alternatives to piracy that are legal and affordable. Movies and games can be rented for only a couple of dollars at Redbox. There are other stores where media can be rented or bought at a reasonable price. There are also programs for listening to music, such as Pandora and Spotify, that allow people to listen to music for free or for a small monthly price.

One surprising commonality between some of the responses I got was that my friends didn't agree with piracy, but they were convicted because they occasionally partake in piracy themselves. I am not pointing this out to judge or demean them, but simply to show that it is hard to understand why piracy is discouraged and illegal when there doesn't seem to be an immediate consequence. I think that when we look at the numbers of jobs lost and billions of dollars our economy has lost, however, it is evident that piracy really is more affective than we are aware of. Even if a person downloads just one song or movie and doesn't see it as a very big deal, every single thing downloaded contributes to the enormous amount of media pirated, which contributes to all of the lost money and jobs, among other things.

It is my hope that people would really take into consideration the damage that piracy can do and think twice before they illegally download something. There is a law against it for a reason, and even though people think that commercials and warnings against piracy are over-exaggerated, I believe it really is comparable to a thief stealing money or valuables. When we look at the big picture, it is evident that piracy truly is not a victimless crime.

Work Cited:
Siwek, Stephen E. “The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy.” The Institute for Policy Innovation. 2007. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

Carolynn Markey  – (May 6, 2015 at 1:02 PM)  

I think that digital piracy is so common because it is so easy and people feel safe behind their computer screens. It's sad, but true!

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