The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that makes it an actual criminal offense for producing and spreading technology, devices, or services that are used to get around safeguard against copyright infringements. The main thing it is concerned with is the liability (or not) of internet sites in which copyright infringements take place by its users. It recognizes that piracy is very real and is unacceptable, and requires for routes to report infringements on these sites. There are certain “safe-harbors” for these internet service providers that protect them from the consequences of their user’s actions that lead to violations of copyright infringements. A lot of people have major problems with the law written the way it is, and it’s being challenged quite often.
I would say it is technically unethical for users to download or share copyrighted material because it’s against the law. The law was set up for a reason and therefore should be followed. If someone owns a version in another format, then they technically should just use that format. Realistically if they already bought a CD with a song, I think it is pretty reasonable to upload it to your computer as long as you’re not sharing it with others. If they just wanted to do some “sampling” or “testing” of the material but not keep it or spread it, then it really should matter. The problem is that it is basically impossible to know whether someone really deletes it afterward or not.
So really my justification was that “I didn’t know if it’s illegal so I just won’t ask”
Personally, now that I think about it, I have participated in the sharing of copyrighted material. Mainly through websites that take youtube videos and make mp3s out of them. That’s how I got all my first saved music. It was quite the arduous process to do each song that way, and sometimes it would have some weird ad at the end of the video so the songs would not end well. I’m not sure if I knew it was technically illegal, but I kind of decided to not think or ask about it. So really my justification was that “I didn’t know if it’s illegal so I just won’t ask”. I think this is what most people do. But it’s also pretty easy to just not care about downloading music or even movies illegally. People are pretty entitled to being able to listen to and watch whatever they want, so I think they really don’t consider it to have a negative effect on anything. There have been many times when someone just finds a movie on a site that I guess was illegal. The attitude toward it is very nonchalant and dismissive of any threat of getting caught.
I also think the artists whose music is being pirated really aren’t suffering too much as a result.
Honestly, with the rise of these new streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, I think it cuts down greatly on illegal music sharing. It’s just so much easier to pay for the service and have really good quality stuff. The technology has become worth the cost. The cost outweighs the hassle you’d have to go through to get things illegally. Even longtime pirates have switched over. While I think it’s made piracy decrease a lot, people still find it very easy to keep pirating music and movies for the sake of not paying a subscription. I really don’t think there is going to ever be an end to piracy altogether. The best thing to do is to keep trying to shut down websites whose sole purpose is to pirate movies or music. Many of them are just an easy google search away. I also think the artists whose music is being pirated really aren’t suffering too much as a result. It could potentially be costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars, but when you’re as rich as they already are, I’m not losing sleep over it at night.