The ethics of stealing.

March 3, 2012

In the past few weeks the topic of torrents has raised its head once more, its a subject that few people sit on the fence over, your either for or against them theres very little middle ground.

To many people the words torrent and piracy seem to equate to more or less the same thing, the fact that increasingly torrents are being used to distribute legitimate software, and used by new musicians who recognise the opportunity this medium gives them to actually get their music out into the public domain without having to sell their soul to a record label, not to mention the free advertising the music and film industry gain from torrents doesn’t seem to cut much ice with some people.

Undoubtedly the vast majority of torrents are not legit, not legit but not necessarily a bad thing or illegal in some cases in my opinion, take the music industry they complain of losing billions due to illegal downloads. For a start anyone who has ever downloaded a song via torrent knows that you never download a single song, most files are either poor quality, corrupt or have malware in them, if you download ten one may be worth listening to, and as many of these files never get burnt to disc they are all too easily wiped off a hard drive and need to be downloaded again.

The music industry know the true amount they lose from pirated music is nowhere near the figures they claim. Another reason why the music industry is reluctant to act against people downloading music is simple they don’t want to alienate their customers, they know all too well people who download music spend far more on music than those who don’t, downloading an album doesn’t stop you wanting to go out and buy the real thing. In the past buying an album has been a bit hit and miss, you hear one good song, buy the album and it turns out that one track is the only one worth listening to, record companies and bands can no longer get away with it, people still buy CDs but now they buy the CDs that are worth buying.

If the music industry really want to stop people pirating their music the easiest way it could be achieved lays in their hands, stop ripping people off, in the last few decades it was normally the case a cd in Britain would cost twice or more what it would in America, and they in turn were paying twice if not more than people in the far east, how can they charge ten times the price in England to what you would pay in other markets, simple we have tolerated them doing it for that long they think they have the right, the balls in their court, lower prices to a reasonable level or people will continue to download.

The film industry is pretty much a mirror image of the music industry, the only differences are they inflate their supposed losses even more than that of the music business, as even less of the movies that are downloaded are of watchable quality, and the prices of DVDs and Bluerays are nothing short of extortionate, again the balls in their court.

Software, or to be more precise Microsoftware (i’ve been saving this till last), buying a computer with a copy of windows is a bit like buying a television, and when you’ve paid them the money for it and try to walk out the store your surrounded by security trying to stop you leaving, the first question you should ask is why are people downloading copies of windows via p2p. Microsoft are perfectly happy to sell you a copy of windows and they are also happy to supply you with updates for that software, but if anything goes wrong with it they expect to to pay a technician an arm and a leg to fix it or buy a new copy. If Microsoft gave people a proper installation disc that by rights they should be entitled to, and in some countries are entitled to, people who need to reinstall their operating system wouldn’t need to download that software that they own a licence for, it would also stop them downloading torrents they don’t have a key for and don’t have a legitimate right to own.

Say if you need to replace your hard drive which has a copy of windows vista basic, and you have no option but to acquire a copy off the Internet, if you have to go to the trouble of downloading it why bother with basic when the same disc contains a copy of ultimate, and why bother with vista ultimate when the next torrent in the list is for an activated copy of windows7.

The truth is this problem is of Microsoft own making and it is within their powers to solve it, is it too much to ask that Microsoft respect the fact that if you buy something its yours, it belongs to you and you alone, it doesn’t somehow still belong to Microsoft, one of these days they will learn, or they will see the torrent turn into a deluge.