Content Creator Rights Doomed?

Although I go out of my way to respect the rights of the creators of the stuff we use in virtual worlds – or would like to use… I do wonder if a few years from now, most people will be laughing at me for doing so.

Just like they used to laugh at me for refusing to download music files for free because I was honoring the creator of the music and the holder of the copyright. Eventually I became the only one not downloading music files for free. What a fool! So I got with the program and started doing it like everybody else. I still buy most of my music – and other people still laugh at me for doing so – but if I can’t find it on iTunes or  CDBaby, etc. I rip it off YouTube like everybody else. And while I’m ‘stealing’ that one song off of YouTube, if I see another one I like – since I’m already in download and convert to MP3 – mode…I steal that one too. And six more if I feel like it.

Couple days go by and I get around to moving those songs to my iPod. I’m using iTunes to do that. While I’m on iTunes, I buy a few more songs.

I go back and forth between buying and stealing songs, whatever is convenient for me at the moment. Mostly I buy, dumbass or not. I have 5000-plus songs on my iPod. I’d be surprised if more than one-percent of them was not purchased.

But I’m not justifying taking songs for free. I still think it’s stealing – even though the rest of the world doesn’t anymore – but I’m doing it anyway because that’s how it’s done.

Now, since the whole world thinks it’s not stealing to download a song for free…and we now have many, many users of virtual worlds who have learned in Open Sim rather than in Second Life and we will only have more as time goes on…and they are used to free content and being able to import and export it…how long will it be until the whole world thinks that stealing a house or a skin or clothing or a RAW file or an entire OAR is not stealing?

I am not promoting this idea, not justifying this action. I’m just asking the question. I still think it’s stealing. But I still think downloading songs for free is stealing. And everybody says I’m wrong.

Maybe somebody will say: but the artists and record companies don’t care anymore…or, the laws have been changed regarding personal use of song files. I’m not sure any of that is true but okay, I’ll concede it for now… I think that goes even more to the point of my question about virtual worlds.

Today some of us think it is stealing to take other’s creations and use them in our worlds unless permission is explicitly granted. Will we think that tomorrow? And, even if we do, will anybody else think that tomorrow? Am I depriving myself by not using these things today when tomorrow no one else will care? Should I have downloaded all those free songs ten years ago and been able to listen to them all that time that I went without?…because now no one cares if I did that then.

I’m going to continue respecting the rights of content creators in virtual worlds because that’s the way I am. But am I a dinosaur? And if I’m not today, will I be one tomorrow?

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About Danko Whitfield

writer, explorer of virtual worlds. semi-retired time traveler.
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