Twenty years ago, the sentence that comprises the title of this essay didn’t exist in the mainstream, instantly recognisable way that it is today. With an average of more than one computer or device per household around the world, the temptation and ease at which a person can download media illegally has never been higher. Once seen as something that only the bravest and most brazen of internet users engaged in, downloading television episodes, films, songs and eBooks illegally is now something that is practised by even the otherwise most law abiding citizens across the globe, and this arises from a generally held belief that a simple click of a button just isn’t the same as going in to a store and filling your shopping bag up without paying. In fact, it is so simple to attain whatever you desire online these days that some users may not even realise what they are doing is against the law
The intent of this essay is to explain and highlight all of the many ways in which download content online without paying does indeed violate copyright rules. Whenever there is a form of media that has been produced and marketed, the makers of the content receive payment from the subsequent sales of the content to customers. On completion of the production process, the responsible parties become the owners of the media and copyright it. Whenever a song, film, game or anything else is copyrighted, the law states that you must pay for the privilege of downloading and subsequently owning it. If you circumvent the payment process by downloading the content from a torrent site, you arecommitting a crime, no matter how simple and above board the experience might seem.
Something that people might not be aware of is the fact that it is also illegal to share any music, films, games etc. without getting express permission from the person or persons who copyrighted it in the first place. You might recall the quirky warnings at the beginnings of films about not sharing the content in a public space and such, and this is exactly what those warnings are talking about. With regards to specific terms, what is happening here is the act of copyright infringement. When the circumstances are boiled down to the simple act of downloading for free, what you are doing is interfering with the rights of the copyright holder to earn revenue from the product that they have created, just in the same way that you would be depriving a stall holder of money if you walked away from the market without paying for a handcrafted leather purse. If you then choose to share your copies with more consumers, you are preventing even further income from being generated as multiple people are benefitting from a product that was not paid for in the first place.
Ultimately, I think that the key issue in the ever-growing copyright infringement problem is the sheer fact that what you are doing simply does not feel like a crime. You are sitting at a computer that you paid for, using an internet connection that you pay for and the entire process happens so quickly and quietly that you don’t have the time to feel guilt about wanting to watch that new film in the comfort of your own home. Nevertheless, it is theft, and you are consuming content that was intended to be paid for, potentially depriving those who created it from receiving their deserved rewards. I can’t see the problem being solved any time soon, but there is no doubt that download sites do indeed violate copyright rules.