According to Apple's built-in dictionary, the word integrity means: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moraluprightness.” I also like this definition: “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.” Over the past four and a half years, I've given this word a lot of thought. Exactly how does one live a life of integrity? As with everything else, you try as hard as you can. Then try even harder.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet recently: “Finally legit on Windows Vista Home Premium. Nothing pirated now: music, video, software… 100% clean. Booyah!” This was a major milestone for me. I've been working toward this for a while and decided to push through and finish the job. As the tweet says, I have no pirated media or software on my computers.
I made the decision a couple of years ago to forego having all of the latest and greatest media as a part of living a more honest and respectable life. It was an easy way for me to demonstrate that I place a high value on doing the right thing. It started with the erasing 60GB+ of music, and 20GB of movies and video. I set aside the few releases that had been purchased through the iTunes Store, but everything else had to go. I rebuilt my collection by ripping music from CDs I own, and combining that with music purchased digitally. Then came software. Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and a lot more, all gone. Replaced with free/cheap alternatives such as iWork, GiMP, and iLife.
Downloading movies and music, or even software isn't viewed the same way as stealing a physical CD. Why is that? You wouldn't walk out of a Virgin Megastore with a hand full of DVDs under your jacket “for the plane ride” would you? The fact that no one notices when you torrent them doesn't make it OK (see the definition of integrity above).
It is getting easier to play by the rules when it comes to digital media. And if you play, it will get even easier. Check out iTunes Plus, Amazon's MP3 store, the Zune Store, and eMusic for legal DRM free downloadable music. None of them are free (as in beer), no. See Hulu, Netflix, TV.com, and each of the TV network's web sites for streaming TV shows and movies. Try Last.fm and Pandora for free streaming radio stations built just for you.
Why not consider something free instead? There are lots of office suites, and several free or inexpensive image editing apps too. If you're making money using pirated software, then go buy it now, or “may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.”
If price is the reason you pirate media, stay tuned, we'll get to your financial issues soon enough.