Opinion: Verdicts against music thieves prove point

Originally published Saturday, Aug. 21, 2004.

Word is that music companies are winning their lawsuits against individuals whom they accuse of illegally downloading music from the Internet, and that should tell something about what should be free over the Internet and what shouldn’t.

Because the Internet makes so much information available for free, a lot of us have come to regard anything on the Internet we can access as ours by right, but that isn’t so.

In fact, it’s more usual now to have access to information restricted unless a fee is paid than it is to find open access.

And limited open access often is a come-on for paying a fee.

The people who write, perform, produce and distribute music see no reason why their products should be free for use by anyone.

Even if you hear a piece of music on the radio, it isn’t free. The radio station pays a royalty to broadcast it.

Freeloaders say the artists and producers already make enough money and they can afford to let the public steal what they provide.

But that makes no sense, as the courts are ruling when they decide in favor of the music companies in these lawsuits.

The software which made is possible to download and share music didn’t come with a morality release.

Theft is theft, plain and simple.

And human nature is such that a lot of people will steal if they think they can get away with it, even though they know it is wrong.

The commandment is, “Thou shalt not steal,” Not “Thou shalt not steal unless you can get away with it.”

The judgments against music thieves are proving that the law agrees.