The Price of Art

If you’ve illegally downloaded movies, or music, or books (or audiobooks), this is for you.**

Now, I’m not generally referring to people under the age of twenty who don’t have disposable income, especially if they might be downloading things that their family/town wouldn’t approve. Should those young people illegally download things? No, they shouldn’t. But I was that age once, and there were things I wanted and couldn’t access and I downloaded things (music, as this was before such things as Spotify). It’s not right, but it’s maybe understandable.

But if you are an adult, and you’re illegally downloading music, books (audiobooks), movies, and television shows…SHAME ON YOU.

“But, Alex,” you say, “I am also lacking in disposable income. I cannot afford these pretty things!”
To which I reply: bullshit.

1. Yes, I realize some things will not be accessible to some people because of financial reasons. And it’s sad, but also: tough shit. My car is a bare-bones vehicle because I couldn’t afford something nicer. THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S OKAY FOR ME TO GO OUT AND STEAL ONE. We shouldn’t treat a concrete object as any less worthwhile than a digital one.

2. There are various outlets that let you enjoy media for free! Spotify for music, Crunchyroll for anime, libraries for books (and audiobooks) and movies. Yes, sometimes that means sitting through ads. That’s the price you pay. (I’m not as familiar with sources for television.)

“But, Alex,” you whine again, “my library doesn’t carry those books.”

 a. Maybe it doesn’t (I’m in a small town, so my library also only carries so many titles) but most libraries are connected through the county and so you can get books from all over the county! Check it out.

b. If you voice that you want these types of books at your library, there’s a chance the librarians will try to get them for you.

3. And if libraries aren’t a possible outlet, then ask for money for holidays from your loved ones, or ask for the books directly. This, of course, applies to other media as well. Heck, if you have a big social media following, maybe ask them to help you out sometimes!

4. There’s a lot of LEGALLY FREE stuff out there. Search for it. Enjoy that media! Authors put out tons of free shorts you can enjoy. Musicians make things available on Spotify (or listen to the radio…really).

My overall point here is illegally downloading digital media is stealing, and stealing is wrong–not because I say so, but because you’re stealing money from the artists who make these things. You can tell me “but it’s only five dollars” (to which I will not point out that I could say the same to you). I will reply: Yes, but five dollars stolen by a hundred people is five hundred dollars. That’s groceries and rent and gas for that low-end car I bought because I didn’t have the money for the fancy one.
Entertainment media is not a necessity for life. There are accessible options that are free. Stop stealing from artists.

**Most of this doesn’t discuss movies and mass market American television because I don’t watch a lot of it. Mostly because I don’t have the funds to pay for all of it (or else to pay for the internet fast enough to handle streaming). I rely on friends, holidays, and house-sitting opportunities to watch various things on Netflix, etc. Just to prove that I’m not all talk.

Also, in case you were wondering: no one thing brought this post on. I’d just seen one too many people, who supposedly love artists, who were advocating for stealing from them.

3 thoughts on “The Price of Art

  1. All too often the same thing I say about “time” applies to this. People say they don't have the time for X, when in reality, they aren't making X a priority.Its somewhat the same. Excluding absolute poverty, “I don't have money for books/music/movies” usually means “I spend my money on other things” and don't want to pay for this because I can get it free. I'm not judging what they spend their money or time on. I'm just saying it usually shows the truth more than their statements.Saying “I love/support artists” and then stealing from them while spending your money on other entertainment is probably one of the more morally wrong things I can think of.And you can take issue with our copyright system and how it works and what it protects for how long, but that is the system we have and the one we use to compensate artists.

  2. I had a very similar thought when I was writing this, but didn't want to stray too far from the idea of “there are alternative ways” message–especially if I might be telling people they'd have to give up their daily Starbucks ($4-$5 a cup) in order to buy books ($4-$5 if not a new release). But I'm glad you brought that up. Because yes, we all make decisions on what to put our money toward, and choosing one thing doesn't mean it's OK to steal the other.

  3. Yep. I don't care if you want to buy your $5 coffee. Heck, buy cocaine with it if that is what you do for fun. Fine by me. Your $, spend it on non-essential items how you see fit. But you can't both spend it on those items AND then say you don't have $ for similar items.You may not have ENOUGH money for everything you want to do, but that is different than saying you don't have money for those types of items.

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