Pirates and Pirating
It's somewhat philosophy-related as it involves ethics. I didn't discuss the ethics of it there too much, but maybe we can here!
So, here's a condensed version of what I wrote, which focuses on the parts regarding the ethics of it all.
The music industry, software industry, film industry, etc. are all quite concerned about so-called Internet pirating (acquiring products digitally via the Internet without paying for them). Allow me to give you a rundown of how this goes. You want the latest Fitty-cent album, right? Why go and pay for it, like a sucker, when you can just download it for free? (Note: you could also download it and pay for it, but again, sucker.) As the story goes, the really crooked used to just go into the store and steal it, but now that it's so much easier and discrete online, many more people are getting into it. Software companies are especially worried now because their products sell for hundreds of dollars new and their market is probably a bit smaller compared to the average $15 to $20 for the latest Fitty-cent album, which, sadly, has apparently the market of the entire world (possibly to infinity and beyond).
I know pirating is characterized as flat-out stealing and, thus, is said to be just wrong. However, I just think that there are situations in which consumers may justifiably do it. I know it's a form of stealing and that it's illegal. But, we all seem to think that some forms of stealing are ethical (e.g., Robin Hood style stealing... you know, if it's for a greater good, etc.). And, frankly, I don't much abide by the law if I disagree with it... that is, unless I think there's a good chance I might get caught. Besides, who doesn't do a California stop every once in awhile?
See, us consumers don't have very many ways to tell companies that they are charging more than we're willing to pay. We can refuse to buy the product. But some of us are too weak-willed to not pay for the over-priced product, because we want it so badly. Why can we not communicate our disapproval by pirating the product? That way, not only do we not buy the product, but we cause a scene by pirating it. Clearly, pirating has gathered their attention. Some people think that pirating is just childish stealing. But I say it is consumers taking advantage of what little resources they have to fight back companies who are trying to screw them. So, these industries can continue to ignore their bread and butter (the consumer) or they can listen to us and pull their act together.
Basically, large companies have way too much control over consumers in the U.S. for this to be a true capitalistic market. So, we are being over-charged for products that we really want, because we can't make them lower prices or increase the quality of the product. Why can't we exercise the very little power that we have to try and balance the market? I think most pirates don't want everything for free, they just aren't willing to pay that much for that kind of product. But I can only speak for myself. These are my motives and thoughts. I'm sure there are those out there who will pirate no matter what, just for the fun of it. However, I think the majority of people will support companies they respect. And if you don't, I suggest you do.
So I don't think pirating is inherently good or justified. I just think that in certain circumstances one may be justified in doing it. I'm just tired of corporations having so much control and leeway in this country. And when consumers get a little bit of an advantage to try and even the playing field, we are struck down as immoral. Well, that may be true, but many of us are merely responding to similar treatment. In short, they rip us off, so why can't we do the same?
I'm interested in people's responses. I don't want to necessarily get into whether this is a Kantian or Utilitarian type of view, etc. I'm more interested in seeing how this fits with the hodgepodge of ethical views that we all actually practice. I know it has quite the eye-for-an-eye ring to it, which seems to have problems as a complete world-view. And perhaps this isn't so much about ethics in general, but about justice/fairness. I dunno. I don't claim to specialize in ethics!