As SOPA, PIPA and a bunch of other acronyms battle to track you down for that schnidey rip of Dido’s first album you made back in 1999, we debate whether a few cheeky downloads will condemn you to eternal damnation or merely leave you bopping along to some beats you didn’t pay for.

(Please note, we're not saying we fully adopt either stance, it's just a lot more fun for the purpose of arguing. Let us know what you think on Twitter, isn't it.)

ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING IS FINE
By Grant Howitt, @gshowitt

When we were at Uni, we illegally downloaded Mission: Impossible III. Did Tom Cruise's career crash and burn? Was he queuing up at the job centre doing the night shift at Tesco, chewing on a dry Pot Noodle because he flogged his kettle for bus fare? Was he fuck.

We're moving past the idea that data can be individually packaged and sold to one distinct buyer like sausages, or jam – more of us than ever before have access to whatever entertainment we want for nothing because we know our way around the internet.

Piracy is a dirty word. What we're doing is “intellectual larceny", which sounds much better. Rather than the industry banging on about how much money they're losing because everyone is outpacing their distribution model, they need to focus on delivering affordable, convenient content through legal channels. And letting us play our music in public.

ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING IN NUMBERS

Illegal downloading

ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING IS WRONG
By Rob McGarr, @robmcgarr

You’re a plumber. You’ve spent the last five hours with your arm up a skanky U-bend, and you’ve finally fixed the problem. “What? Pay you?” your client asks incredulously. “Don’t be silly mate. I found you on the internet. That means it’s free.

You’d wedge a spanner up his internet portal. You don’t get things for free. Life doesn’t work that way. And nor does music. Making music costs time and money. You have to pay musicians, producers, recording engineers, studio time, lawyers, studio costs, promotional costs, printing and manufacturing, distribution, management, label employees, songwriters, legal fees, and eventually tour support.

“Fuck ‘em, they’re all millionaires anyway.” Right?

Wrong.

Recording labels are losing incomprehensible amounts to piracy. Their only option is to sign fewer acts and take fewer risks. So, every time you make an illegal download, you’re castrating an exciting new artist and giving birth to another Justin Bieber. You think on that.