Stealin's Stealin...'

 I never downloaded a single one. Criminal is criminal no matter how many people agree that it is OK, "everybody does it" and so on. It doesn't become criminal when the value goes over fifty dollars or a thousand. It as much criminal to steal a pencil as it is to steal an automobile. Only the value of that which is stolen is different.

I had a fellow fly to Sacramento from France two years ago to talk business. We were going to introduce some American e-commerce solutions to the European market. Early in his visit, he boasted that he used pirated software. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. He could have afforded to buy it, he just thought it was clever to steal it. I told him that was not OK and that I did not want to do business with a thief, because if he would steal from others, he would steal from me, too, whenever it was profitable enough for him and he thought he could get away with it. He was infuriated. He told me I was living in a dream world, that nobody was as honest as I pretended to be, and that everybody did it, and who did I think I was to lecture him on morality.

That reply told me everything I needed to know about him, so I killed the deal. We took him to Muir Woods to see the Redwoods, so his trip wouldn't be entirely wasted, and that night, saw him onto his plane to return to Paris.

You are right that a lot of people are thieves and crooks. Looking at the daily diet of ethical degradation reported in the media, it is easy to get the idea that maybe the majority are crooked. Even if so, which I doubt, that doesn't make it OK. Maybe I could steal and never get caught. Maybe nobody else would ever know. But *I* would know. That's the main thing. I would know.

The reason outfits like Napster and Google can get away with copyright violation isn't because they can afford expensive lawyers. It is because they are supported by a vast army of weak principled people.