Did I get your attention with that headline? I thought so. Everyone likes getting things for free. Today there is so much available for free on the internet – songs, movies, games, books, learning materials – why would anyone pay for anything? Especially now, when so many of us are losing money?

Does that mean it’s okay to steal? When you illegally download or stream from the internet that’s exactly what you’re doing, although you’re not likely to get caught.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a price to pay. If you’re lucky, you’ll just have to find you way through the ads to the content you’re looking for or watch a low quality film. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll end up with spyware on your computer.

Do you know who is really losing money during this crisis? Freelancers and small business owners, artists, musicians, writers, the same people who create a lot of the content you expect to get for free.

Our shows have been cancelled, group programs are forbidden, and many stores are closed. We’re a creative bunch and are finding ways online to help you relax, take up a new hobby or make your job easier. Please excuse us if we want to get paid for doing it. Believe it or not, even freelancers have to eat, and some of us also have families.

Some materials are legal and free. Most artists upload some of their material to promote themselves. Many programs and sites have trial or scaled down versions. You can also find game sites that are free and don’t infringe on anyone’s rights but you get what you pay for, and don’t expect any tech support or special requests. It’s also suprising how cheap it can be to get things legally. It won’t cost you much, but it adds up for the person who invested time and talent producing the quality materials that you want.

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