Data pirates may be criminal, not terrorists

Review's View

Almost more than pizza, beer or sleepless nights doing research papers, students have become familiar with the process of “pirating” data. For those who don’t know, this is illegally downloading movies, music and software that is copyrighted but has been put on the Internet for free downloading. While this action was designated as a criminal activity with the Napster case, apparently the United States Attorney General thinks this type of crime is not only worthy of a hefty fine, it helps fund terrorism.

While the use of pirated software to hack security systems does present a threat to national security, kids downloading the new Microsoft Word probably aren’t using it to take down the Pentagon security systems. More than likely they are using it to complete a paper for the teacher who demands the new .docx format, and they don’t want to spring the $149.99 for the “basic” version of Microsoft Office.

In the article where this was discussed on Yahoo! News, it also said that the attorney general, Michael Mukasey, met with representatives from Apple Inc., Adobe Inc. and entertainment industry representatives before he made the statement.

We are not entirely sure how illegally downloading Adobe Photoshop or the newest version of iWork is aiding terrorism. Is Mukasey afraid that pirates of such software will assault the Department of Homeland Security with a flurry of poorly photoshopped cats with bad grammar? While this is highly amusing, it is also highly unlikely.

We cannot and do not want to advocate criminal activity. There is no reason for people to steal others’ creative property and copyrighted works. Sure, the new Microsoft Office is expensive, but that does not justify stealing, which is, in essence, what piracy is. However, this isn’t a new problem and it will not go away. As long as software companies continue to charge large amounts of money for their software and tuition continues to go up there will continue to be software and music pirating.

There are probably more significant actions that fund terrorism, like, some groups could argue, the United States government with its aid to certain countries. Terrorism is hard to pin down to a certain group. Blaming data pirates might be going a little far.