software piracy

When You Steal Someone’s Work, Who Gets Hurt?

In today’s economic climate, stealing might seem like the best approach to a bad situation. Except you don’t realize who you’re hurting. The way a lot of fields are shifting to gig work offers a lot of potential, but also liability. If you’re getting for free things that you should pay for, there’s someone on the other end who isn’t getting paid. And if you’re looking to break into an industry with people working primarily as consultants or contract workers, the person who isn’t getting paid might be you.

Everyone knows the process of getting an education is expensive. You rack up maybe $30K just to get a degree at the entry level. Instead of grad school, you can target your skillset by taking advantage of all the options you can find online. It’s hard to pay $100 or more for a short class or tutorial when there’s a download site that allows you to get it for free. But before you click, it’s important to think about who benefits and who takes the hit.

If you still believe that big businesses protect all their employees and provide well-paying, secure jobs that aren’t based on profits, you might be Ronald Reagan. But you’d also be incredibly naïve about the way corporations protect their bottom lines. If you screw over your Uber driver, it’s not Uber that suffers.

When you opt to take the free download, it’s generally the content creator who loses out. You saved $100 or $150, but the person who did the work misses that payment and maybe dozens of others. You provide economic viability for a shadow industry that undermines your own future.

You might think, so what? If you’re not going into content creation, maybe you don’t have to protect the livelihood of content creators. But you have to keep in mind that IT is a ruthless field that is only as good as its lowest common denominator. When theft from contractors is the basis of the education you use to get a contract job, you legitimize the practice of taking money out of your own pocket. Perhaps you have enough scruples to avoid damaging the market for your own services. But others won’t.