Response to Free Culture discussion

Last week’s discussion consisted of Lawrence Lessig’s book, Free Culture. What interested me the most was the discussion of piracy because everyone is guilty of downloading music or movies without paying for it. I mean, look at Napster back in the early 2000’s! Millions of songs were downloaded for free until it was eventually shut down. There is a website called, where you can convert MP4 files from YouTube into MP3 files to put on your iTunes or any other MP3 player. From what I learned from the class presentation and Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture,  many different forms of piracy were discussed:

1) Users who download instead of purchase content.

2) Sample music before purchasing content.

3) To get access to copyright that’s no longer sold.

4) Using sharing networks to get access to content that is not copyrighted.


But what really struck me was a particular question that was asked: If you download something and you don’t sell it or publicly screen it, is it still illegal? In other words, if you download a movie, or music for your personal entertainment and don’t sell it on eBay or have people pay to view the movie or listen to the song(s), is it still considered “illegal?”

Some people may feel that downloading a song or a movie without selling it or having a public screening of it is completely harmless. They may think because they’re not making any profit out of it, it’s harmless. They think watching downloaded content on a lap top is the equivalent of watching something on on TV or YouTube. But the thing is, we pay for what we watch on TV with Optimum, or Cablevision, or Verizon. We watch things on YouTube by buying the laptop and paying for the internet service we use. So in essence, we aren’t exactly stealing because we’re paying to use the services that allow us to download said content. But on the contrary, downloading anything without paying for it is wrong because the creators and the producers aren’t getting their well deserved money for creating said movie or music, etc.

As a musician myself, I would feel hurt if my creation was illegally downloaded and then sold for their personal gain. So honestly, if a song was downloaded so they can listen to it on their iPod, or iPhone, or whatever music player they own, I wouldn’t mind so much. But if an entire album was illegally downloaded and then sold, then I would press some serious charges.

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