A while back there was some discussion about illegal sharing and entitlements and a fellow group member shared her views. Take a few minutes to read what she has to say.
I won’t deny that there are those who knowingly and deliberately steal others’ work to benefit themselves. They are just mean, heartless people who don’t care who they hurt.
On the other hand, there are millions of us who also steal other peoples’ work or take advantage of others and don’t even realize we are doing anything wrong. These aren’t bad people, they are just ignorant of the consequences, ignorant of the laws, or just didn’t think about what they were doing.
WARNING: If you continue reading, you may find out that you are one of these people. The goal isn’t to make you feel bad, it is to make you think. You probably can’t do much about the past but by not continuing these actions, you can help the future.
1. At a fast-food restaurant, have you helped yourself to soda without paying for it or taken more napkins, straws, utensils, or condiments than you needed for that visit? Did you share a glass of soda between more than one person?
When it comes to physical things, someone paid to make those items. I know of one restaurant where the store pays 7-cents for each of those tiny packets of ketchup.
“But it is only a little bit, how can that hurt?” – Well, you take a few, I take a few, the guy down the street takes a few, etc. and it adds up to hundreds of dollars or more!
“I’m going to use them later…” – And you are still costing the company money and they have to raise their prices to cover those costs so you are hurting everyone who shops there. Yes, you paid for your meal, but should your single burger really need 30 napkins? What if you saw that on the menu? “Cheeseburger and 30 napkins” You would be furious!
2. Has someone admired something you made and asked for the pattern and you shared it? Have you been the one to ask for the pattern and accepted a free copy? This could be a pattern, a recipe, a song…
“I was just trying to be helpful…” – I understand, but by helping your friend, you hurt the designer.
“But the pattern is free, what’s the big deal?” – Many designers offer free patterns to entice you to visit their site. That free pattern you just shared took traffic away from that designer’s site. Basically, you just eliminated some of their advertising. Some people offer free patterns and ask that you make a donation of some kind. This is one way they help these organizations.
“The pattern is going to be used for charity…” – You still took that pattern and took the traffic from the site. Ask the designer if you can print and share the pattern for those who can’t print their own copies and who making the items for charity. Some designers may say no (respect their wishes), but there are many who are thrilled at the thought that their design is being used to help others.
“I borrowed the book from the library…” – And while the book is in your possession, you have the right to use the patterns. If you copy the book or part of the book to use later, you are taking the purchase away from the author. You like the book to keep using it, so you need to just buy the book. That is what you would have to do if books became copy-proof.
“But I bought the pattern…” – Well, you bought the right to use the pattern. That single copy of the pattern is yours, but the pattern still belongs to the designer. It takes a lot of time to design and write a pattern. If it took the designer 10 hours (and that would be a quick and simple pattern) to do and you paid $3.00 for it, that designer is only getting 30-cents an hour from that pattern. How would you feel if your boss told you that you were only going to be paid 30-cents an hour from now on? Because the designer (hopefully) sells multiple copies of the pattern, that pattern will earn more than the 30-cents.
“I just made a copy of the technique to share. It is a technique that has been around for ages and everyone knows it.” – If your friend knew how to do it, you wouldn’t have needed to make a copy to share. The technique may have been around for ages but someone took the time to write out the instructions. Once again, you have taken away the traffic from the person’s site or the money the person would have made if the instructions are being sold.
“So I looked at the picture and figured out how to make the pattern myself.” – And someone did the original work and designing. If you like the design that well, just buy the pattern. If you are in a store and you take something for free that you know you should pay for, it is shoplifting. If you take the picture and recreate the item without buying the pattern, it is still shoplifting.
3. Have you ever taken a handicap parking place without needing it, used the handicap stall in the restroom when others were available just because you like the extra room, or let your children use a motorized cart at a store because it is fun?
All of these may have hurt someone who required that extra bit of help. You may have prevented someone from doing what they needed because the facilities they needed were unavailable. It may have been just for a minute, but you don’t know if someone else came along just after you did. After all, you weren’t there a few minutes earlier…
“Who does it hurt if I tell the store that my animal is a service animal when he isn’t? They don’t know the difference and it doesn’t hurt anyone.” – It is this little white lie that has made it so much riskier for me to go out. Because of the number of people doing this, the US Government made a law that only dogs and miniature ponies (in some circumstances) can be service animals. My cat was trained to detect my seizures and let me know about them. He is no longer a service animal and can no longer go out with me in public because of this law. Because I no longer have the warning system to get to a quiet place, if I have a seizure, I am subject to theft and abuse not to mention the great embarrassment of everyone standing around you looking at you like you are a freak. And then there are the after effects of people treating you like you are Typhoid Mary. All the money invested in my cat’s training doesn’t count for much anymore either.
I hope this has helped you become more aware of your actions. You probably didn’t think you were really doing anything wrong or harming anyone by doing some of these. What seems like such an innocent action can have such far-reaching effects. I’m sorry for those I have offended.
Have I ever done any of the above? Yes. Will I do any of the above again? Probably. I am not perfect. I can only do my best and watch my actions.
The people on this group tend to be really friendly and caring people. We wouldn’t mug someone for even as little as $50 because we would see the person we were hurting and they would see us. It is so much harder to realize you are hurting someone else when you don’t see the person being hurt.
We also make excuses for ourselves like, “it’s just this once.” Is is really? Even if you have never done it before and you never do it again, like the packets of ketchup, it can still add up.
Like someone else said, “free isn’t always free.” It may not cost you anything but it does cost someone something. In the long run, it will likely cost you as well.