5 minutes – ethical?

Hopping online this afternoon, an article caught my eye. It was about the new Disney movie coming out, The Princess and the Frog. Turns out someone got a rough copy of the first five minutes of the film, which is set to be released Dec.11, 2009 (which incidentally, is the day after my birthday).

It took me about two and a half seconds to decide to watch the video, and another minute to find a copy that hadn’t been taken off YouTube due to “copyright infringement” by Disney. Before thinking about it, I was enjoying my little clip of the highly anticipated movie . And the fact is – it was without thinking. The clip clearly wasn’t legal and whoever posted it had no right to do so.

But this instantaneous gratification is just what our generation is used to. The question is – Is it right? If the video is available, am I doing anything wrong by watching it? I didn’t obtain it illegally and I didn’t spread the word about the clip. And yet, I still watched it. Just because something is available, is it right to take it?

We all know free TV and movies are out there. It seems like everything is going online. With sites like YouTube and Hulu, it’s pretty easy to find just about anything. But then there is Project Free TV, which links to seemingly untraceable Chinese servers which host full length movies the day after they premier in the theaters. It’s not my fault these are available. If I watch them though – am I in the wrong?

I’m really torn on this. I know there are all of the arguments for “it’s the little guy that gets hurt,” but the deal is that I like movies. My friends are usually busy, and while I like going to movies by myself every once in a while, it’s awkward and I feel judged (PS – the key is to go during the day and walk in at the last second).

I haven’t downloaded music illegally in years. It was a tough thing to give up. I avoid the free TV and movies when it isn’t legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tough when I don’t order Showtime and Weeds is a really great show. I just do the best I can.

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