Let me apologize to all of you who may not be interested in this sort of thing, I know it isn’t what you normally expect from me, but it is something I am interested in and I felt it was a good thing to share.
For as long as I can remember, certainly since I was middle school, copying and sharing was just part of what everyone seemed to do. Back in those days it was copying music from vinyl records to cassette tapes or recording off the radio and sharing with my friends. When I became aware of computers, it was much the same. The difference was, with software it was an accepted practice, in fact there magazines dedicated to providing the code for different uses especially games. The music side was different, with songs being copyrighted, but as long as we weren’t selling anything we thought we were fine. Of course we know now this isn’t the case and getting music without paying for it is theft. Which brings me to the point of writing this. Unlike those early days, much of mainstream software is intended to be paid for, thus the whole End User Licensing Agreement or EULA. If you have ever had to reinstall Windows on your computer then you are at least aware of this. Commercially available games are the same and if you use a computer for work, then odds are all the programs are licensed.
The problem comes in when someone decides, for whatever reason, to make otherwise paid for goods available for free without the permission of the people who created it. This is know today as Piracy, though to be honest, the name doesn’t quite fit. Still it is the point behind it which matters… getting something which would otherwise cost you money for free when it isn’t your right to do so. This has been an ongoing issue for both the music industry and software companies. Despite all of the rhetoric, it really is a serious problem especially for small developers and independent artists who simply cannot afford the lost sales. It may not be as expensive as providing physical media, but making a product available online still cost something and the money has to come from somewhere.
On the other side of this is us. The consumers. Some can afford to pay for all the things they want or need, some of cannot. In fact, with the global economy the way it is, many cannot afford even the smallest of budgets for anything that isn’t a necessity to live; food on the table, a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, and a way to and from work…
It is true, there is more to life than just surviving. Anyone can do it but it isn’t much of an existence. We need something more, an occasional distraction, a way to lift our spirits, something to make life enjoyable. That is the purpose of entertainment. Add into this the tools someone may need to compete for a job, or to try and better themselves, or to learn something new and you have a market for for “Pirated” goods.
Most people aren’t out to make a statement, or to cause harm, though those people do exist; they just wish to share in something they otherwise could never afford. I’m not making excuses, just being realistic, unlike the majority of corporations and their lawyers but that is a different argument for a different time.
The question then is, can people find the things they want, and/or, need or at least a product which will provide it to them at a reasonable cost or free and do so easily?
The answer is “yes” though maybe not as easily as clicking a “Buy Now” button.
Truthfully, it takes a little motivation and perseverance, not to mention time, to scour the web to find things which are worth the effort, but it can be done and in the end you have something your not ashamed to have sitting on your hard drive.
Now before I go any further, I want everyone to have a safe experience which means taking some precautions. First, look for reputable sites such as NoiseTrade for music, SourceForge for software, or YouTube for video. Also be sure you have a Firewall and antivirus software. If your careful and use common sense precautions you can find what you need safely. There are many, many places out there in cyberspace where you find dishonest people who will do some very nasty things, so taking the time to do research and due diligence is key.
A Free Ride
Technically, nothing is free. You had to pay for equipment, an MP3 Player, a computer, a DVD/Blue Ray player, television, etc., etc. You also have to pay for an internet connection or phone line. Yet it is possible to reduce your costs to as near to free as possible.
Everyone’s first stop should be Google. Say what you want, but odds are, if your looking for something, you’ll find a link to it with a Google search. Use search terms such as “Free (what your looking for)”, “Copyright Free”, “Free Download”, “Royalty Free”, or even “No Cost”. There are also any number of reviews and opinion pieces out there where people have taken the time to do the hard work for you and tracked down some very good sites, artists, and software available for free or little cost. For those use, “Review Free (your operating system)software”, or “Freeware Reviews”, or anything similar.
Oh, there is another cost associated with going this route… your time and effort learning something new. So far I have found it to be well worth the investment…
So, need a jumping off point? I’ll share some of the sites I use the most.
A note about YouTube. Clicking the link will take you to the main page, if your interested in movies, Google “youtube movies” and it should take you to their movie page. You will find there a lot of pay per view titles, but if you scroll down, there is a listing for “Free Movies”. Most of this is old, cheesy flicks, but there are some fun and interesting things to be found.
Another note… about software. More often than not you can find direct links to developers sites, the harder part is finding the type of software you want and then finding something free of cost which will do the job you need. I recommend doing a review search first for the type of software you want then doing another “free alternative” search.