Students Laugh in the Face of the Law Online

College students have never had much of a reputation for upholding the law. However, it seems that in the age of technology, students are breaking the law more often online than anywhere else. In my own personal experience, I have never seen a set of laws more widely disregarded, flippantly thrown aside, or even laughed at by my peers than online anti-piracy laws. After talking to many of my friends about their personal downloading habits, roughly three-fourths of them have illegally downloaded something, whether it’s a song, album, movie, TV show, or even a computer program, online. This is in spite of the fact that they are all fully aware of the illegality of their actions and that there is a chance of getting caught and punished for breaking the law.
So why, then, do so many people our age download illegally? I personally have observed two main reasons. One: it doesn’t feel like stealing, and two: it’s very unlikely that you will get caught. It’s no secret that illegally downloading media isn’t as bad for the rightful owner as outright stealing something of physical value out of their hands. But it does still deprive them of their rightful compensation for the material, and this can be very harmful if enough people do it. Despite this damage, clicking a few links after installing a program just doesn’t feel like stealing and I think this leads people to believe that it is not. The other reason it’s so common is that people just don’t seem to get caught all that often. I’ve only ever come across one person who has been punished for this in my experience and he claimed that if he had not made a certain easily avoidable mistake, he would not have been caught. It appears that a law as difficult to enforce as this is going to have a tough time not being broken.

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