06/09/2010 12:11 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Has Stealing Music Stolen Your Mind?

In the course of a lifetime of fighting music piracy, I have repeatedly marveled at the capacity of intelligent people to convince themselves of the most absurd things to justify the illegal act of taking someone else's music.

When we do or say something that might not square with our image of ourselves as 'good people,' we quickly adopt some form of the belief that our victim "had it coming." The operant concept behind this phenomenon is "cognitive dissonance," which is defined as, "an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously."

I have witnessed cognitive dissonance corrupt the thinking of everyone from skate boarding teenagers to Stanford law professors.

Once people adjust their thinking to justify their behavior, it is practically impossible to change that behavior. It is just too painful to admit when you have knowingly been doing something
inexcusable. It is much easier to continue making excuses.

So in the interest of preventing the onset of 'cognitive dissonance', if you are an illegal downloader, here are the top ten rationalizations to avoid. If you find yourself using any one or
more of these excuses, beware! You are only fooling yourself.

1. Artists aren't getting paid anyway.
2. Artists and songwriters are all rich, and don't need the money.
3. Record labels need a new business model.
4. Stolen music promotes live shows.
5. Stolen songs don't displace a sale, (the perp wouldn't buy it anyway.)
6. I want it all my way, and I want it now (convenience).
7. Destroy the 'gatekeepers' and the little guy wins.
8. Information wants to be free!
9. Illegal downloading is 'sticking it to the man!'
10. The copyright term of protection is too long.

The insidious problem with all of these excuses is that they don't justify theft, they just make people FEEL better about stealing. Illegal downloading is a Federal crime. Can you imagine
using any one of these excuses in front of a Federal Judge?

If you said yes, your mind has probably already been hijacked by cognitive dissonance.

Your only hope of escape from this crippling mental affliction is to change your behavior. Unite your behavior with your image of yourself as one of the 'good guys.' Pay a mere 99 cents
for a legal download today and reclaim your brain! Where else can you find a deal like that?