Why Do People Feel Differently About Online Piracy / Streaming / Downloading Compared To Stealing In Real Life?

Why Do People Feel Differently About Online Piracy / Streaming / Downloading Compared To Stealing In Real Life?

An interesting topic that has been widely discussed, but little seems to come out of the engagements. Most of us would confess having committed this “crime” once in a while and still feel comfortable about it. The question however remains, “why do people feel differently about online piracy as compared to real life theft?”

The truth is that many people would never dare steal from a movie store or library but would illegally download the same movies or books without a second thought. While many have come up with justifications or excuses as to why they are comfortable about stealing intangible goods, the fact remains, it is still illegal.

According to a study led by Robert Eres, a Monash University PhD student, many people find it hard to contemplate intangible goods and for that reason feel less guilty of online piracy, streaming and downloading. In the study, Eres and team wanted to know how guilty people felt when stealing tangible and intangible items. The results from the functional MRI scans indicated that the lateral orbital frontal cortex (part of the brain associated with guilt) was less activated when stealing intangible goods meaning they felt less guilty of the offence.

In their recommendation, Eres indicated that people need to be made really emotional and cognitively aware of what they are doing so that they can feel guilty of the offences.

It is illegal no matter how good it sounds- period!

Yet the solution to the problem doesn’t seem to come soon. Well, it may be because streaming, pirating and downloading are easy and the chance of being caught is low. After all, who doesn’t want to save a few coins here and there especially in these hard economic times? Many reasons and justifications have been made regarding this online offence that many people seem to enjoy. Some of the reasons include but not limited to;

· We are stealing from big entities-You ask many people and they will not feel sorry to realize a big business is making losses. After all they have a lot of money. What doesn’t cross the people’s minds is the fact that it is not the company that hurts in real sense of the owner but rather trickles down to its employees who are doing the editing and marketing.

· Authors already have enough money so they won’t feel guilty stealing a few coins from their pockets.

· Poor distribution channel- some would argue that it is better to download or stream that latest movie than wait for two months before you can access it in your local stores. People are never patient with distribution challenges so they would go to any extent to get the content they want irrespective of the means they use.

· Digital content is too expensive- though it can be agreed that some ebook- prices are absurd, it is totally wrong to get it without the owner’s consent. Think of that beautiful suit you wanted to buy from your local vendor but could not afford it, do you go ahead and steal it? No!

· Everyone else is doing it- simply because there are many people involved in an illegality, it doesn’t make it right. This is another common justification given by people who do online piracy, streaming and downloading all the time.

There are many other justifications given as to why many people involved in online piracy don’t feel guilty of the offence. The movie industry is a multi-billion dollar industry today, thanks for their ability to sell dreams; they have however completely failed to sell the narrative that piracy is more less the same as real life theft and that consumers ought to feel guilty of the offence.

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