We often hear excuses justifying piracy. The fact is that there’s no reason that someone should steal the creative work of another person – whether it is online or in the real world. Here are just a few of the justifications that have crept into conventional wisdom:

“It is okay for me to pirate because I am stealing from big corporations – they make a ton of money and are charging too much for their content.”

The truth is that all companies – regardless of size or industry – provide jobs for many people. The more that companies that publish creative content are impacted by piracy, the fewer jobs they can provide.

Piracy hurts aspiring and emerging creatives most of all. This means fewer opportunities for young people in creative fields – and fewer jobs in the creative communities available to the next generation.

“Piracy is a victimless crime and my one download or torrent will hardly matter.”

It is hard to see how our individual actions can have a large-scale effect, but the combination of millions of individuals making choices to watch pirate websites undermines the entire creative economy.

When you buy a book, movie ticket, concert ticket, album, or TV show, you are supporting all of the people who created it. You are helping to ensure that those artists can go on to create other works for your enjoyment.

On a low-budget film, the lost revenue caused by piracy can be the difference between breaking even and losing money. On these films, any profit generated directly benefits the people who made them. For many crew members, a significant portion of their income and benefits are tied to residuals, which come from what are called “downstream revenues” – such as sales to cable TV networks, video on demand, and streaming services like Netflix.

Musicians often rely on compensation from streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and others. Without audiences listening or watching content legitimately, these revenues disappear.

The vast majority of creative people are middle class workers. While celebrities receive most of the spotlight, 96% of the people working in the film and TV industry are middle-income earners. Residuals often account for a significant percentage of yearly earnings – and serve as a buffer from the project-based nature of creative work.

We want to encourage the next Lee Daniels, J.K. Rowling, or Questlove to dream and innovate without the fear of living in poverty.

“Piracy actually helps drive sales by getting the word out.”

Piracy only helps spread the word that the film, TV show, song, or book is available for free. What is word of mouth worth if audiences are not contributing to the people who created the work?

Even if a filmmaker or singer were able to leverage a highly popular pirated movie or song to get funding for their next project that doesn’t do anything for all of the people who worked behind the scenes for little or no compensation on the original.

The bottom line is: We need to make choices in the ways we consume entertainment that support creative people. That means patronizing legitimate platforms that compensate rights holders. For individual rights holders, this has an immediate and direct impact. And for companies who own the copyright to a film or song, proper compensation allows them to market and promote the artistic work, fairly compensate everyone who created it, and continue to compensate individual creatives.

“People pirate because the content is not available legally.”

The film and television industry has made tremendous strides in providing audiences with content where, when, and how they want it – on any device. Currently, there are 480 legitimate sources for film and TV content globally, with 120 in the United States alone

You may not know that the largest increase in pirate activity occurs when a movie, TV show, or book is first made available for legal digital rental or purchase. And while millions and millions of songs are available on services like Spotify and Pandora and Apple Music, music piracy persists.

Most importantly, just because something isn’t available to purchase does not mean it’s okay to steal it! We should follow the same rules online as we would in the real world.

If there is a justification that you’re hearing not listed here, please email us at youth@creativefuture.org so we can address those arguments.