If you’re downloading music or films without paying for them, you’re probably breaking the law.
People don’t care they are breaking the law. But if they worked in the music industry and witnessed redundancies all around them because of illegal downloading, they probably would!
Today I stumbled across a recent live Christian worship album uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. This was not done by the producer, record label or artist. It was done by someone who didn’t own the copyright. I politely pointed this out to him, and he kindly promised to remove it. His excuse? He didn’t know it was illegal.
You may think I’m being picky and being a kill joy. Many of you seemed to have this impression when I relayed some of the above on Twitter. I was shocked at the number of Christians defending this person’s actions!
So let’s deconstruct some of the arguments for illegally streaming or downloading music and see if they stand up…
I believe we as Christians should be leading the way in acting within the law and acting morally and in accordance with our own scriptures (Rom13:1-2)
1) It’s not stealing because it’s not physical!
According to this argument, when it comes to downloading, there isn’t a physical object to take so it can’t be called stealing.
I don’t know of many people who would steal a CD for the artwork! They steal it for the information (songs) on it. When people download – they are taking that same information. So the same product is being taken. It may not be being taken in the same manner, but the outcome is the same.
2) The artists earn too much money anyway. They won’t notice a few quid lost because I didn’t buy their CD.
Christians, let’s get a few facts straight: Probably the best selling Christian CD of the last 18 months was Spirit Break Out. It reached number 9 in the iTunes chart, and according to the people involved, it hasn’t even broken even yet! Worship leaders are clearly not rolling in it. You have to sell millions, not thousands to make a big profit.
But that point is actually an aside.
By the above logic, I could steal Rihanna’s car because she’s already rich and can afford another one.
But I don’t refrain from stealing music or cars because it will or won’t damage people. I refrain from stealing because it’s morally wrong.
3) I just illegally stream or download so I can decide if I like it. If I like it then I’ll buy it.
This is a really common argument. The ’try before you buy’ attitude sounds great to begin with, but what is it based on?
It’s based on the idea that stealing is only stealing if you hang on to something for a certain period of time.
So you could argue the first 45 minutes of listening to an album is not stealing, it’s just sampling/trying. The argument implies that if I continued to enjoy the product and held onto it for X hours or days then it would be considered stealing and wrong. But where’s the limit?
The limit is hour 0. In other words, unless you’ve already paid the money, it’s wrong and it’s stealing.
4) All music should be free, anyway!
These people want there to be a world where everyone benefits from the joys of music, but no one has to pay for it.
Can you imagine walking up to someone who already struggles to sell tickets to their gigs or get money from album sales and telling them to “just do it all for free!”? These people have mortgages to pay and children to feed.
To those illegally downloading music saying “it should be free”, can I just point out there’s already a legal and free way of listening to music? Spotify.
You have NO excuse to illegally stream music on YouTube now that Spotify is here. Thanks to Spotify – the person who wants music to be free, gets what they want. But they get it without damaging the artist.
It is shocking to me that we need to have a discussion on what constitutes stealing and what doesn’t. But all the statistics suggest that’s exactly what needs to happen. (Seeing as Ed Sheeran’s album is the most illegally downloaded, perhaps we also need to have a discussion on what constitutes good music? But we’ll save that for another time)
While I believe it’s wrong to steal regardless of your religious beliefs, I’m primarily aiming this post at my fellow Christians. Check Rom13:1-2 again. Too many are setting a bad example, damaging the very industry (Christian music/film) they claim to love and deliberately ignoring God’s commandments.
Sorry for the preach, but this isn’t an issue that’s going to go away. I welcome your comments and am more than happy to debate this if need be…
I’m in the habit of writing tweets that never get read.
That’s not because I have 0 followers, but because I’ll write a tweet, stare at it and think “do I really want to say this?”. Quite a lot of the time the answer is “no way” and the “tweet” button will never be pressed.
I don’t mean to make out that I’m wonderfully controlled and am always really careful what I say on Twitter. Sadly that’s not true. I’m a work in progress in all areas of my life, including this one.
Nevertheless, three recent stories in the media have really made me think.
1. The first was the case of Liam Stacey who has been sentenced to 56 days in prison after he made racist comments on Twitter.
The tweet in question? “LOL. F*** Muamba. He’s dead!!! #haha”, presumably without the stars.
2. The second story broke about this time last night. Mrs Speaker tweeted she was tempted to try the drug Mexxi before it’s made illegal.
“Am I the only one now slightly tempted to try mexxy before it becomes illegal? I won’t, obvs”. Her comments came just days after the drug has been linked to the death of at least two people, leading to her being labelled “insensitive”. I found both the Daily Mail‘s Headline “Will She Ever Learn?” and Mrs Speaker terming the paper the “Daily Fail” pretty amusing.
3. Finally, according to Reuters, Kuwaiti authorities arrested a man on Tuesday for insulting Mohammed over Twitter.
That’s three stories about Twitter in one week. Oh wait, I’m wrong. The biggest story about Twitter this week is that the company has admitted there’s a bug going around that will make your account unfollow people randomly, without your permission (thus providing all of us with a wonderful excuse the next time someone asks why you’re not following them).
Presumably the legislature that allowed Liam and the Kuwaiti man to be arrested applies to Facebook too, and, come to think of it…this blog. I’m hardly the most controversial of bloggers, but it’s still a scary thought that what I write here could get me arrested.
I would not defend any of the above tweets. But I would question if arresting people for what they say on Twitter is fair. It’s a grey area.
Some would argue that just as someone walking up to me in the street and hurling racist language warrants arrest, the same rules should apply in the online world.
On the other hand, millions of views are expressed on Twitter every minute. Fanatic and offensive views aren’t normally read by thousands. And if they are, a large percentage of those thousands will write back and give the tweeter plenty of grief!
This happens all the time with celebrities. Let’s say I tweet that Dom Joly is the least funny person on the planet. He’ll retweet my message, sending it to his 133,000 followers. 10,000 of those followers will then hurl abuse at me in turn. It’s basically Karma. And it’s beautiful.
So which of these two philosophies on Twitter and free speech is best? I err on the side of the latter, but I’m open to persuasion either way. I look forward to reading your comments and watching the wider debate grow. I think this is an issue that will run and run as time goes on…
That’s what anyone who owns a product made by Apple (myself included) will think after reading this…
When famous people pass away the world knows about it almost instantly. Both my Twitter “Timeline” and Facebook “News Feed” have been dominated by tributes to Steve Jobs. So it may surprise you to learn that in the last 24 hours I’ve overheard more than one person ask the question:
“Who is Steve Jobs?”
Many who ask this question own a product invented by the man himself. Although Jobs’ popularity has soared in recent years, he was only known to technology geeks for most of his life. The wider public hadn’t really heard of him until the iPod and iPhone started taking off.
I spent most of last night hanging out with some hippies. It was all about love and peace…oh and Jesus too. Christian hippies. Great people. Radicals, I guess you could say. One of them brought up one of my favourite quotes.
“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice—or will we be extremists for the cause of justice” Martin Luther King
Another one of them talked to me about climate change, the need to get resources to the world’s poorest and…the arms trade. Confession time: I hadn’t really given much thought to the arms trade before. Being the intelligent person that I am, I just assumed weapons magically appeared out of various countries without much trade happening. How wrong was I?
Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny the X Factor is a massive part of Britain’s culture.
The papers can’t stop talking about it, millions watch it religiously and you probably like it too…even if you won’t admit it.
Last night, the time had come. X Factor 2011. So here we go… Audition one.
Who will the producers pick to open one of the UK’s biggest shows?
When Louis Walsh asked Frankie why he auditioned for the X Factor, Frankie replied replied “to get lots of girls”. In a separate interview he also said he’d like to sleep with as many women as possible.
It gets better… He doesn’t have a job and recently went to Malia and got the names of seven different girls tattooed on his bum…which he then proceeds to show everyone.
At this, Kelly Roland (ex Destiny’s Child) remarks “I freaking love the UK!”
Yes, because this man sums up young people like me. We don’t have jobs, we consider ourselves “a liability”, we want to spread as many STDs as possible and get famous for the sake of being famous. Oh and we love to get tattoos on our bums. Yep, that’s us! Welcome to the UK, Kelly. This is our culture.