Digital theft is wrong, especially for millennials

Posted on Nov 10 2016 - 8:01am by Ethan Davis

Piracy has taken many forms throughout history. It began on the high seas when small, swift boats would attack larger ships quickly, take some loot and leave before help could arrive. Since then, the term and practice have moved to the digital world.

The Recording Industry Association of America reported in 2007 that digital theft costs the United States more than $12 billion and 70,000 jobs annually in addition to more than $400 million in lost tax revenue. Many believe these statistics are inflated and unreliable, but, if they are even fractionally true, piracy is a multibillion-dollar problem.

Millennials are the most technology-driven generation and consequently participate in the largest amount of digital theft. That’s us: digital pirates.

I do not know about you, but I as a millennial, would prefer not to have thief added to the stereotypes that follow me. Fortunately, this problem is one of the easiest to fix, and there are many excellent reasons we should.

Digital theft is stealing. It does not matter if no physical property is taken or if no one gets hurt. It does not matter if the industry can afford to take a hit or if everyone does it anyway. Stealing is taking what does not belong to you. To put it another way, why should you have any right to your property if you take someone else’s?

Furthermore, our generation has more technology than ever before; we depend on it in ways our ancestors never did. How many of us are banking our futures on digital content? In 2014, digitally deliverable services comprised approximately one-sixth of exports in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and that figure does not include domestic sales.

Simply think of all the industries that rely on digital products – technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google; trading companies such as Ebay, Etsy and Craigslist; social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr; the list goes on and on.

These are the companies that are growing and the ones that we will most likely attempt to work for or with in some capacity.

However, digital theft undermines all of those industries. People are not only stealing but also are sabotaging the future on which they plan to capitalize. Pure genius!

Aside from the ethics and self-defeating aspects, an enormously practical side exists. Downloading pirated content from the internet significantly increases your risk of infecting your computer with a virus.

Even if you do not get something that shuts down your machine, you will most likely have an assortment of add-ons that will slow down your internet browsing and automatically change several settings on your computer.

If you have never had to go through the painstaking process of uninstalling these hidden programs, I urge you not to tempt fate.

No matter which way you slice it, digital theft is wrong. Morally, economically and any other way you can think of, piracy makes no sense, especially for millennials.

Ethan Davis is a junior philosophy and English double major from Laurel.