What are the ethical issues involved with downloading pirated music or films?

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Pirating music or films has some definite ethical implications and issues, and the ease of downloading these files makes it easy to miss them.

The most extreme ethical drawback of pirating these creations is that it is theft. The people who create these works put time and energy into their creations, and often spend years learning their craft. They make it available for sale, so when you pirate it, you steal that work.

Now, if we stop there, piracy seems purely wrong. There are other ethical issues that complicate this question. Most of the cost of an album does not go to the musicians, but instead to the record companies. Piracy is a way of striking back against corporate greed. Some people pirate works as a way of sampling it, the way they might read the first few pages of a book at a bookstore. They then buy later works or tickets to a concert. One study actually showed that albums that were pirated and shared sold (a few) more copies than those that weren't. That might seem practical, but funneling more money to creators is an ethical good.

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