Stealing is stealing
Published: Monday, September 10, 2007
Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 13:08
The constant exposure to computer technology that has marked our generation has had an impact more meaningful than any social movement or political event of the times. Our parents went to Woodstock and to rallies on the mall in D.C. while we've gone on Facebook.com and invited our friends to the kegger on Saturday night.
We are all used to getting what we want when we want it: Online commerce makes products from all over the world available to shoppers who don't want to leave the house; text messages and e-mails facilitate instant communications so that we can talk to our friends from home even when they're abroad.
No one welcomes the news that Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) threatened legal action against a total of 19 Tufts students since last May. The students whose Internet protocol (IP) addresses were targeted probably feel as if they've been singled out at random for an act generally accepted within the university's social scene.
Nonetheless, it is perfectly understandable that the trade group representing the U.S. recording industry would take such action. It would be cumbersome and logistically impracticable to track down all the students who have used illegal technology to download music, so slapping a sizeable fine on a few becomes a reasonable way to send a message.
Artists need to make a living as well, and it is impossible to justify stealing their product simply because we can, or because everyone else is doing it. Of course downloading "SexyBack" from LimeWire is not going to send JT to the poor house, but the music god's relative wealth doesn't make him fair game for your theft.
If illegally downloading music from Beyoncé and Kanye is fine, then where does one draw the line? Would it be okay to steal music that comes from a major label while it might not be quite so kosher to take the work of an artist under an independent one?
No one is in a position to make these decisions, so we should simply pay for the tunes and absorb the cost. We aren't entitled to free music simply because it is possible for us to acquire the files without laying out a dime.
The downloading issue is not one which will go away any time soon. It is likely that our standards will begin to change as the Internet continues shaping most aspects of our lives. In the meantime, however, all Tufts students should avoid putting themselves in the RIAA's line of fire - not only because the consequences of stealing music are serious, but also because the act itself is wrong.