@John C. Calhoun@twitter As far as ethical claims go, I'm with you entirely, since the "pity the poor artists" argument is too sentimental to hold sway. What I am saying, however, is that free downloading is not a free lunch; someone IS getting money--and a lot of it--but it's the people doing the packaging: hardware, access fees, subscription fees, etc. I would rather give that money to people, like you, who make the music. That's why I believe the "it's there, it's free" claim is just too easy to volley around. This may sound sentimental too, perhaps, but to me, this is a clear "tragedy of the commons" case (which you're probably familiar with already http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons) What irks me to no end is the belief--and I don't believe you really subscribe to it--that one might say "oh well, downloads are free, good for me," and then proceed to pay and pay once again computer manufactures whose products become obsolete in 2 years, pay, every month, internet subscription plans (1000+ dollars a year in many cases). (AND then there's willingness to pay dearly for frivolous things like cable TV all the while uttering pieties about the death of print.) That's why I don't ultimately believe that spending money on Apple products vs. spending money on music/local art scene whatever, is a "false choice." Since 2000 I've gone through five laptops (2 of them Apple) and 2 iPods, 1 apple adapter, 3 Apple batteries. That 10.000 dollars (yes, $10.000, since European sales tax is 25%), could have done a lot of good to other companies than Apple, Dell, IBM. Some people change their hardware far more often than I do. Do I think that people who buy new hardware 2-3 times a year pay for their music/news? No, I do not.
@MuffyStJohn You pay for the Macbook, for the internet connection, etc. Ethics really has nothing to do with it. You make a decision to spend on the things that make rich people richer. Let's play with some time-honored metaphors here: you're driving an expensive car, on a toll road, playing $$ for gas. But the radio is on--for free!
@John C. Calhoun@twitter Another way of asking the question, "Am I being ethical?" is simply "Is it OK to be a jerk?" If you believe the answer to the latter is "yes," well good on you. But the real point is rather more simple: Laptops wear out, storage media turn obsolete, internet connections are expensive--people pay all this money for crap all the time (cable TV, texting plan), but not for music. You're giving your money to Apple, to Starbucks, to Verizon, etc., all the while holding that people who produce the actual product should "deal with it." Did someone say false consciousness?