Most local store owners take a dim view of people who walk in, pocket merchandise, then walk out. They're called shoplifters, and they are arrested when caught.
Why, then, do so many people - especially the young - seem to see nothing wrong with stealing music, movies and computer software through the Internet? There is no difference. It is theft.
Entertainment and computer software companies have begun to crack down on such "pirates." Last week a jury in Massachusetts agreed that a Boston University graduate student should pay $675,000 to four music companies, for illegally downloading and sharing their products.
According to The Associated Press, the case was only the second one in the nation in which a defendant had gone to trial for downloading music illegally.
We hope companies victimized by such "pirates" take more cases to court.
Stealing music, movies and software by using the Internet is not a "victimless crime." Those of us who pay full price to buy software, watch movies and listen to our favorite songs pay more for the privilege because of the "pirates." They are harming us, not just big entertainment and computer corporations.
Pleading that "it didn't seem wrong" won't work anymore. Internet thievery is the same as shoplifting and other forms of property crime, and it ought to be punished as such.