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Study: many illegal downloaders don't see it as 'stealing'

A movie or music lover today has so many options to get a hold of their favorite artists or binge their favorite TV shows in an instant. Thanks to Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and the like, anyone can find a new favorite immediately for free or a low monthly fee. But according to research, attitudes about illegally downloading music, movies and TV haven't changed much since the Napster days.

A recent paper published in Social Neuroscience found that the majority of people don't feel like they're actually stealing when they're intangible items like digital copies or music or movies. But they do admit they know it's stealing if they would walk into a store and take a physical copy of a CD or DVD.

A digital copy is still stealing

In the paper, the researchers found less activity in the parts of the brain that have to do with moral questions when they were asked about stealing illegally downloading stolen music or movies than when they were asked about stealing actual physical copies of the material or another object.

Piracy wasn't a large problem for the entertainment industry until the mid-1990s when file-sharing services like Napster offered (illegal) downloads of nearly any song you could ask for. Although Napster was shut down in 2001, other downloading services popped up, and the recording industry hasn't been the same since. Streaming TV and movie services like Netflix have taken over the mainstream, and Spotify leads the pack for free or paid music streaming.

However, studies have shown that even those who pay for streaming are 11.4 percent more likely to still pirate movies or music. In addition, young students who said they believe there's little risk to downloading media illegally are a third more likely to engage in stealing illegally online. And those people who don't think that piracy hurts the artists who make the media they're taking are 44.8 percent more likely to illegally download music.

Protect your art

As a musician, writer, artist, filmmaker, architect or another person who creates artistic pieces, you'll want to learn how to protect your work from being stolen by others. Because of the ease of illegal downloads for nearly everyone with an internet connection, it's affected the way an artist sells their music and the entire industry as a whole.

If you're concerned about your work being stolen, contact a knowledgeable attorney who can help you navigate the process of legally protecting your work from duplication or illegal downloads. If you're an owner of intellectual property, it's important to defend your work - learn how today.

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