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Guest Author: Thomas Alva Edison

There is a socially acceptable trend going on that I have just been made aware of and it has gotten my blood to its boiling point.  I am referring to the nefarious act of downloading movies and music for free and file sharing via the internet.

Anyone with an internet connection has the ability to download the latest movie, television show, song or music album at no cost and without repercussions to their felonious acts of piracy.  And this is not a swashbuckling romantic idea of piracy on the open seas, this is a darker, more sinister form of piracy where the pirates hide behind fake names and internet provider (IP) addresses.

As the premier inventor of my generation, as well as a savvy businessman, I must protest the fact that too many people are engaging in this unethical activity simply because they want it all, but do not feel the need to pay for it.  We are a nation of laws, and right now those laws are failing the businesses who provide entertainment for millions of people worldwide.  No company will ever be successful if they just allow people to take their product from them without compensation and no consumer should engage in what becomes tantamount to the act of looting.  Stealing products that don’t belong to you just because everyone else seems to be doing it, whether it be from a shattered glass storefront window, the back of a truck or from on online dark alley, is morally wrong and should be condemned.

When it comes to morals or business ethics some historians may claim that I used similar tactics with my patents (1,093 in the United States alone) and inventions.  To these misinformed miscreants I say this: I simply took other people’s inventions and I made them better, not just for profit (which I made plenty of), but also for the greater good of mankind.

An example of this is the now infamous “War of Currents” which pitted myself and my belief in Direct Current (DC) versus Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse and their Alternating Current (AC) for power distribution.  Here I was trying desperately to bring power to the masses, and although it was impractical, inefficient and expensive, it would have been affordable (for a small percentage of the population) once I had a monopoly on the market.  Instead I had to engage in misinformation, stretching the truth and flat out lying about the faults found in AC power to the general public.  I didn’t do it to hurt my opposition, quite the contrary, I did it so that the people would have my version of power and depend on my power stations to bring them that illuminating, life giving electricity.

In defense of some of my questionable business tactics, let me admit that I knew my limitations as an inventor, I’m not a patient person, I’m not strong at mathematics, but I was willing to make 1000 mistakes in order to get one experiment to work the correct way (which I found out was not a very cost effective way to run a business).  Instead I created a combination think tank/sweatshop/assembly line for people who were smarter than me in science, but not too smart in business practices.  Fortunately I was always able to find people to work for next to nothing and they never needed credit for their ideas (well, if they did I tried not to grant it).  At my Menlo Park facility, which I opened as an industrial research laboratory, my staff became very adept at “borrowing” my opposition’s inventions, fine tuning them ever so slightly and then filing a patent in my name to secure our “new” invention.

Do you really think I was the first person to invent the light bulb?  Don’t be so naive.  I simply improved upon what other great minds before me had built.

As Gordon Gekko once said, “…greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  I must amend that statement and add that greed is good, provided it does not interfere with any of my profit margins.

This downloading, or pirating, of modern media has to be stopped.  We need to protect the corporations from having their bottom line’s hurt.  I know that buying a particular album in all its upgraded forms (vinyl record, 8-track, cassette, compact disc, mp3 or beta, vhs, laserdisc, dvd, blu-ray) may have hurt your bottom line, but you don’t have overhead like the businesses do.  Have mercy on the big companies…