This is An Illegal Operation

No, I’m not talking about that stupid Windows error that never actually let me exit a window myself—I’m actually talking about stealing music, movies, TV shows, software, video games, and really anything digital. I imagine most everyone in today’s generation has been guilty of this crime in some way or another. We just don’t ascribe any meaning to something we can’t physically hold in our hands. Heck, we don’t even have to feel the guilt of holding a burnt CD in our hands. We just dump a few megs of info on someone’s iPod and forget all about it. So many of us are guilty of stealing and we don’t even care.

That is they don’t care until their TV show gets cancelled. Or the band gives up because they’re not making any money. Or game developers have to charge people extra for online services just to make a few bucks off of a legal selling of a pre-owned game.

See, I used to be like that. And then I got convicted. And then I became like that again. And then became convicted again. And now here I am, writing this post.

Let me just be frank with you for a second: we have absolutely no reasonable excuse whatsoever to steal anything—whether it’s digital or not. I’ve heard every explanation. In fact, I’ve made every explanation! But eventually I was convicted of my error and have done my best to turn away, though I realize now that there are plenty of places where I haven’t even realized I was probably doing wrong. For example, I might want to hear or preview a song really quick that I don’t want to buy, so I might go stream it on someone’s YouTube channel really quick.

Yes, I’m trying to go the extra mile with this situation. The story inspiring this post is that I finally decided to pay the ten bucks Spotify was asking for to enjoy all the music I could. No more annoyingly loud ads! And now I could even download the songs to my phone and take them on the go with me! All of the music in the world was at my finger tips. And then just a few minutes ago I learned a few things and immediately canned my subscription and have decided to wait for their service to look up.

Do I love the idea of Spotify? Yes. Does it benefit me immensely? Yes. Does it save me money? Definitely, yes.

Unfortunately, I’m just not willing to give so little money to the artist. Musician Derek Webb points this out in a blog post of his:

I am paid $0.00029 per stream of a song on Spotify, and even this amount depends on whether the song is being streamed by a paid user or someone using the service for free.  This means it will take upwards of 3,500 streams of a single song on Spotify to earn $1.00 versus that same revenue for one iTunes song purchase (not to mention the fact that Spotify refuses to pay the same amount to independent artists as they pay major labels, unlike iTunes).

Or to put it in another light, it’s rumored that 1 million streams of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face earned her a whopping $167. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it’s a fairly popular rumor.

Plenty of you will read this article and be ticked off at me. That’s fine. I’m really just trying to push your buttons, which, despite what you may think, is not always easy for me. I don’t care to get negative feedback anymore than the next person.

I’m calling you to at the very least live legally. The next step after that is to start thinking more deeply about some of the things that are legal, but sketchy. For example, perhaps you’ll feel as though you shouldn’t buy pre-owned video games.  Or perhaps like me you will want to wait until Spotify changes their ways a little bit before you really start using it. Take some kind of a stand for something.

I’m not trying to condemn you or look like some kind of holier-than-thou kind of person, but I am trying to convict you. For many, illegal downloading is an addiction. Break it.

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