If you pirate content online, be it music, movies or audiobooks you are scaring the crap out of a lot of people. As I’m sure you know, laws like SOPA and PIPA are being proposed because companies are worried about loosing a ton of money in the wild west that is the Internet.

Apparently the ratio of legally downloaded songs to pirated ones is 1 : 20. So here’s the question we should really ask, why? Why are so many people choosing to pirate content?

Is it really because we all just want to get our content for free? Maybe a more reasonable explanation is that acquiring content legally is often just too difficult, time-consuming and unreasonably expensive. If you are just joining us in the 21st century now, let me explain.

Torrenting is just about the easiest way to get any and all digital goodies you can possibly want. Simply search for your item of choice, click the download link, and the torrent starts automatically. You can pause the download at any time and restart it without damaging the file and download problems are very rare.

When you purchase content legally you can expect to deal with slower and glitchier downloads that will require many more time-consuming steps to complete than simply snatching up that torrent. You may first need to create an account on the site, type in all your credit card and personal information and verify by email before you can order the item. If you are dissatisfied with your purchase or have a download issue, tech support will likely be slower and more frustrating than you’d like. And because these companies are terrified you will redistributing this content, the legally downloaded versions of songs and videos are usually encoded with restrictions that get in your way if you ever try to move files between devices or burn them to disk.

Beyond the technical issues, many companies don’t seem to realize digital content should be priced differently than the physical versions. From my experience DVDs cost money to have printed, packaged, stored, handled, and shipped,  whereas it costs virtually nothing to have a program automatically email customers with a download link. Because I’m not the only one that realizes this, the perceived value of digital content is much lower, as it should be. Bull-poop “convenience” charges are not fooling anyone guys.

I really believe that as legally purchasing songs, videos and everything else becomes easier and more reasonably priced, we will see less online piracy and fewer resentful legal downloaders like myself. I also imagine if illegal downlading was less threatening to large companies they wouldn’t be wasting so much of their resources on creating restrictions and laws that could break the Internet.

In the end we can’t really know how much torrenting is responsible for the lost revenue companies claim, and illegal downloads are certainly not tantamount to stealing a kid’s bike or someone’s purse like those ridiculous commercials suggest. There will always be people who torrent and share content illegally and see it as a victimless non-crime.

I personally avoid pirating content because I respect the person who created it would rather I didn’t and that’s enough for me.

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