What’s Your Take on Downloading?

Mar 26, 2008
Updated • Nov 29, 2012

I was first introduced to the downloading phenomenon back in 2000 when a friend got me hooked on Napster. I thought it was cool that I could have songs on a CD which I only had on tape before. I didn’t really do much downloading since I had a dial-up connection and my phone bills would have gone through the roof.

Today, downloading has changed radically. There are innumerable peer-to-peer applications to transfer files. In addition, you can now download not only music but movies, TV shows, games, software, etc. On the downside, downloading has pretty much divided the online world into two camps: those who think it’s stealing and those who think it’s alright to download files.

I’m kind of on the fence with this subject. When you download something, you are not paying for it so technically, it is stealing. On the other hand, there are some situations where I don’t fault people for downloading. Let me list two of them. If I live in a country where the latest season of my favorite show is aired a year after it is aired in its home country. A second one is if a movie, music album or TV show I really want to watch is not being released where I live and will not be available even to purchase.

So my question is this. How do you feel about the downloading scenario? Do you think it is okay to download files under some conditions? What alternatives do you have to downloads?


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  1. doedjr said on July 15, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Just download anything, it doesnt actually matter on the grand scale of things. I wouldnt even conern myself with if i should do it or not, if i want it il take it. simple.

  2. Tombola said on May 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Cec said above,

    “Using things that you are supposed to pay for is not right.”

    I used my kettle today, I was supposed to pay for my kettle. I did pay for it… but I was supposed to. Is that wrong?

  3. Dante said on March 28, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I never claim I was not a thief. I just want people to be honest with themselves. Read my other posts and you’ll note that I use the newsgroups extensively. I do try to pay for things – after I’d determined I like it.

    None of what I said or did was contradictory. And you’re right, everybody has their own “opinion”. I’m sure you can tell god your “opinion” on stealing versus his too. Note, I’m also an atheist.

  4. Declan said on March 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Your quoting of the definition of stealing (incredibly irrelevant) was actually copyright infringement, so will you be burning for long?

    Since you probably don’t believe me about the copyright, I will let you find out for yourself where the copyright statement of that was.

    Opinions are one thing, everyone is entitled to one and is entitled to defend their point of view. Throwing out random illegal definitions that do not support your point of view is not a way to argue your point. I can deal, however, with people who are unable to argue their point, hypocrites like yourself I cannot. You denounce a lot of people for downloading music illegally, while you infringe the copyright of an online dictionary (I think it was Merriman Webster but I have forgotten since I checked). That makes you worse in my view than the students who could not afford to listen to their favourite songs any other way, because at least they have the courage to admit that what they do is illegal. It is fine to be on a moral high horse, but when you are a hypocrite into that bargain, you have no morals at all.

    And just another point I heard recently. People have been recording songs off the radio for decades, and nobody is denouncing them as criminals or stealing. It’s not a new phenomenon by a long shot, so why only care now?

  5. Dante said on March 27, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Well, to all you folks who may be Christians or Muslims, just remember this: When you go up for judgement, you think your gods are retarded gods or just plain stupid gods? You think your spiel on the right of stealing is going to convince them? Or you’ll be sent to another place, a hot correctional facility let’s say.

    I would dare say you can “debate” the “relative” morality of stealing with your gods all you like in that hot place. Afterall, what did this Retard meant when He stated: Thou Shall Not Steal?

  6. p5chin said on March 27, 2008 at 11:22 am


    I am also on ‘cat-on-the-wall’ mindset.

    I would like to refer to this insightful article on downloading music and stuff without paying:
    article name: ‘why I don’t download music’


    seems to make sense.


  7. Roman ShaRP said on March 27, 2008 at 12:17 am

    I think it’s alright to download files. Copying just can’t be stealing.

    And this is “holy war” question, and I don’t want to waste my time discussing it.

    I speak my thought. You can copy it ;)

  8. Cec said on March 27, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Using things that you are supposed to pay for is not right.

  9. Emmanuel Rio said on March 26, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I recently read an article by Kevin Kelly, “Better than free”, and found it really interesting. I could quote it, but you can rather find it via Slashdot. I found it interesting because it summarizes and completes some ideas I had before, but couldn’t really organize… Now, my two cents. You can think in terms of morality : stealing, protecting, and so on, but I think you cannot organize a society just hoping people will respect an ideal code of conduct. What I’ve learned in school about the french system (I don’t promote this system, I just don’t really now other schemes) is an organization of 3 powers : legislature, executive and justice. Regarding the downloading phenomenon, I think the problem is : you can write laws (they already exist), you can judge people because they downloaded something, but for the executive part, there is a huge lack. If you don’t accept to filter communications between people based on their content, since you would then infringe one of the first human rights (freedom of speech, communication, privacy, …), you have no mean to control the flow of information between citizens over a media (namely Internet) that has been designed to allow “superconductive” communication between people. If you have no actual mean to control copyrights, copyrights are pointless. So… bad or not, the question is not there. Bad downloading is, because, for the moment, artists (or developers) don’t benefit from their work, what is really really sad! But it’s up to us to make free downloading good as sooner as possible. We have to imagine, try and achieve new paradigms of art/software retribution. Some of them are already present, and a lot are to be discovered. Let’s be imaginative. Oooops, personally, I have no idea.

  10. Dante said on March 26, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Note the words:

    “unjust means”

    “without permission”

  11. Dante said on March 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    As to real freeware, that’s not stealing. And it’s not sharing either. It’s just someone gave it away for free. Sharing implies retention of ownership rights.

    And the definition of STEALING is:

    Main Entry:
    1steal Listen to the pronunciation of 1steal
    Inflected Form(s):
    stole Listen to the pronunciation of stole ˈstōl; sto·len Listen to the pronunciation of stolen ˈstō-lən; steal·ing
    Middle English stelen, from Old English stelan; akin to Old High German stelan to steal
    before 12th century

    intransitive verb1: to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice2: to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly3: to steal or attempt to steal a basetransitive verb1 a: to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully b: to take away by force or unjust means c: to take surreptitiously or without permission d: to appropriate to oneself or beyond one’s proper share : make oneself the focus of 2 a: to move, convey, or introduce secretly : smuggle b: to accomplish in a concealed or unobserved manner 3 a: to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring bof a base runner : to reach (a base) safely solely by running and usually catching the opposing team off guard
    — steal·able Listen to the pronunciation of stealable ˈstē-lə-bəl adjective
    — steal·er noun
    — steal a march on
    : to gain an advantage on unobserved
    — steal one’s thunder
    : to grab attention from another especially by anticipating an idea, plan, or presentation; also : to claim credit for another’s idea
    synonyms steal, pilfer, filch, purloin mean to take from another without right or without detection. steal may apply to any surreptitious taking of something and differs from the other terms by commonly applying to intangibles as well as material things . pilfer implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts . filch adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously . purloin stresses removing or carrying off for one’s own use or purposes .
    Learn more about “steal” and related topics at Britannica.com

  12. Declan said on March 26, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    1) It is not stealing to download illegal music and software. It’s copyright infringement. That it totally different to stealing in any country. It is wrong to call it stealing as they are incomparable.
    2) Sharing is not illegal, and there is plenty of legal stuff on P2P networks, including many of the Linux isos.

  13. Dante said on March 26, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Downloading, sharing, stealing, robbery, it’s all the same. Just don’t hide behind retarded justifications. A physical thief at least has the integrity to know he’s a thief. If not getting paid to do something is acceptable to you folks, than why don’t you tell your boss that it’s ok, they don’t need to pay you. It’s all share and download alike. Hypocrites.

  14. Bob Shacklock said on March 26, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Downloading has to be considered on a case by case basis. It’s illegal to download something and not pay for it.

    I don’t see a problem downloading a television show that has aired already if you missed the episode. Make an effort to watch the show when it airs. The more people watch a show the more likely it is to stay.

    Music and movies that are copyrighted are illegal to download without paying for. I do think it is ok to for consumers to get to listen to an album before they pay for music. CDs are too expensive and overpriced to find out after you get them home that they suck.

    Software is illegal to download. You simply need to pay for it. If it is overpriced, find a cheaper solution. There are many free alternatives to most software on the market today. An example is GIMP vs Photoshop.

    There are people who download music, movies, software and anything else they can just to download it. That is just plain wrong.

  15. Asterophysical said on March 26, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I personally don’t download illegal stuff because:
    a)I’m a minimal user and don’t require much stuff
    b)I’m scared to death of malware from such downloads (I’m still stuck to a Windows PC).

    But of course, the MPAA or whatever’s guarding artistes’ and studios’ interests, isn’t really doing so. Such agencies get some kick out of it, and are doing it. We’ve heard plenty of stories of those agencies recovering money from pirates and not paying the artists. That proves how much of an interest they actually care to guard.

    Artists are more worried about declining sales shares than piracy. Not to mention that those huge loss estimates of such agencies are wrong.
    Pirates would mostly download content only because they could, not just because they wanted to. So if something is unavailable through BT, they just forget it. That cannot be counted as a loss of sales revenue.

    So, in purely moral/ethical terms, downloading isn’t such a big problem.

  16. anonymous coward said on March 26, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    My take is … it is shameful that in this day and age I have to pay so many bucks for a CD (as well as go to a store etc.) esp. when my only use is going to be through the MP3 player.

    Most of the time that I do download is because the other route is just too painful. (and I don’t like to use the crappy itunes software btw).

    the main thing that will hopefully happen is media companies will realise the paradigm shift happening in content distribution and come up with new business models. Will any old companies die out in the grind ? yeah sure. Will they go out without a fight ? ofcourse not, they will come up with stupid things like the RIAA.

  17. Rajat said on March 26, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I think it’s perfectly OK to download. If it’s out there for you to grab, only an idiot wouldn’t do so. Downloading is not secretive. It’s all out there in the open. Downloading is not a sin.

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