It's always said the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Well, I'm Mollie, and I am a compulsive music downloader.
I haven't bought a CD that isn't blank since seventh grade, yet I have a library of over 6?? songs on my iPod. I've probably downloaded close to 2,000 songs in the past six years.
Unfortunately, because of avid downloading habits (or addictions) like my own, college students are becoming some of the Recording Industry Association of America's top targets. Last month, in the fifth "wave" of pre-lawsuit letters, they sent out 391 pre-litigation settlement letters to 19 colleges around the country.
However I, along with most other college students, don't have a penny to spare, much less a sum like $3,000 to settle out of court with the RIAA.
I feel as if I'm speaking the unspeakable. To confess that I can sympathize with the accused illegal downloaders seems downright blasphemous. I'm not trying to defend those who have been caught, but I still can't help but feel like I can relate to them. Perhaps it's because my view is just one of a teenager who has basically grown up with illegal downloading as the norm. I was only in middle school when Napster came out, and I remember the excitement of being able to find whatever song I wanted at the push of a button. It's easy to feel a little guilty when illegally downloading an album of some poor, little-known band. But when downloading a song from an old Backstreet Boys' album that has already sold 14 million copies, it's hard to see who's losing money there. No one stopped us and our curiosity turned into millions of bad habits.
Rather than going straight for the user, the RIAA should also try to stamp out the source. If programs like Bearshare and LimeWire are still out there for the using, illegal downloading is inevitable. It's like a plate of grandma's chocolate chip cookies: they're hard to resist when sitting right there in front of you.
After years of addiction, I'm proud to say I'm starting the road to recovery. I decided I didn't want to taint my precious new MacBook with something like Bearshare or BitTorrent, but I think my own paranoia of getting one of those letters had something to do with it too. Luckily for me Mizzou doesn't even allow illegal downloading software to be used in their network, so it won't even be a temptation.
From now on, I will only be tempted by grandma's cookies. I promise.