The entertainment industry constantly tells us that downloading pirated movies and TV shows is a form of theft, but viewers often seem to operate with a parallel attitude: that theft is a reasonable reason for piracy.
I was reminded of this on a recent bus trip where I overheard two teenage girls discussing Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. It was no surprise to learn that both had downloaded episodes to watch them: Channel Ten's original late-night broadcasts of the show (which has since shifted to ABC2) displayed the usual cavalier attitude to regular timeslots. But one girl gave an interesting justification for why she had downloaded the entire series:
I had season 1 and season 2 on DVD, and it got stolen. I didn't even buy it on special! So I just downloaded it.
Leaving aside the welcome infusion of female fans into sci-fi, this kind of attitude is pretty typical. The logic goes something like this: I purchased a legal copy of this item and I didn't deliberately dispose of it, so why should I be forced to pay for it again?
Of course, this approach doesn't fly if your car or your couch gets stolen, where you're expected to have insurance. The crucial difference is that it isn't possible to download a replacement car online for no cost and with little chance of getting caught. Conversely, it's also much easier to make a backup copy of any DVDs you have purchased.
What do Lifehacker readers think? Is it fair enough to download a replacement if you've lost a purchased item through no fault of your own, or should you put more effort into getting an insurance policy or making backup copies? Tell us in the comments.