OK, this is a departure from the typical posts revolving around nursing school, but it came as something of a personal epiphany, so I wanted to get it down before it slipped away into the ether which is consuming my brain.

Just Say No

In the past I’ve always been unable to address people’s arguments about downloading music, copying DVDs, or (insert digital drug of choice here) without paying for it. My position could be summed up by the title of this post, which is unacceptable to many people.

It’s difficult to nail down, because digital stuff is so easy to dismiss. One lost sale of a song, one additional person listening that hasn’t paid, nothing is “lost” in the process…. All of these contribute to the illusion that copying the information doesn’t hurt anyone.

I finally thought of a good analogy, which I’ve been lacking in describing the situation: Suppose you’re writing a paper for school, or submitting a proposal for your job, and someone copies it when you’re done but haven’t handed it off yet. This unscrupulous person then hands over the copied item as their own property. You still have it, don’t you? You could also turn in a copy of the same thing, right? Nothing has been “stolen” in the sense that you now lack the property. Yet the opportunity has been taken from you as surely as a physical object. Your grade or your job is now in jeopardy because of this action which leaves you lacking nothing.

The exact same thing happens when you burn a copy of a CD for your friend. The opportunity for the artist or recording company to recoup some investment is now gone. Multiply that by the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people copying and trading software, and you have a good reason why it is hurting someone.

So if the reasoning behind the title isn’t enough, just think about the analogy next time you want to copy something without paying for it.