Before entering in the main theme, I’d like to state it clear – it happened sometimes I downloaded some AVIs or MP3s via eMule for personal use, though I am far from being addicted to this practice. Usually I prefer to spend money on these stuff either by rent or by purchasing the real thing, or to label it as too expensive for me (the same label I tagged with, over the time, a great deal of stuff). Despite of what the supporters of the free-download-for-all say, I am not convinced that it has to be a right the downloading of a recent movie for watching.Movies, musics, games, programs cost money to produce, a great effort that needs to be paid back. I don’t see any viable way of sustaining these industries but buying their goods (Scott Adams explains why much better than I could ever aspire to… at least in English).
The outcome of the recent Radiohead’s experiment about spontaneous payment for music stresses this point – many of those downloaders wouldn’t buy either at a much lower price.
There are good alternatives, even for item with the “too expensive for me” label – consider renting, borrowing from a friend or from the public library, wait for the item to reach the budget price range.
What I see is that in the name of freedom to spread other people IPs the Internet is more and more constrained, inspected and our freedoms of speech, opinion and thought are more and more restricted. Take for example the recent news from France or the recently adopted DMCA-like ruling in Switzerland and Canada. That means that some sort of filter thoroughly analyzes everything goes to and from your Internet pipe.
It is true that wouldn’t be illegal downloads, the same kind of deep inspection could have been ascribed to terrorist threats or any other form of crime prevention. The problem is that the former contributes to the idea that privacy for sure (and maybe some other rights) have to be sacrificed in the name of any kind of crime prevention – how trivial or grave doesn’t matter.