Paying for Media You Can Get For Free

Paying for Media You Can Get For Free


We should all pay for things to support those who made them so they continue to make them. And yes downloading media you didn’t pay for and don’t already own is illegal. Even if this doesn’t morally bother you, it may be a waste of your time regardless. Sometimes sifting through tons of free files just isn’t worth it when you could have spent $10 (or $10/mo) and found exactly what you wanted. I’ve previously written about how free is rarely worth it. Here are just some more examples.


It’s been a long time since you could just download single songs from Napster. Now, you generally pay a dollar or so for a song from Amazon or iTunes.

Music can still be obtained from torrent sites of course, but it’s usually found there as entire discographies. That can be useful sometimes. But sometimes you just want to hear one song. And sometimes things are mislabeled. You can also use various online storage sites and search engines to find random music files. But this can be tedious and difficult to find more obscure things. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

While I have never bought individual tracks or albums digitally, I am currently paying monthly for Spotify. I love that it’s easy. When I want to hear a new band, I can instantly find their entire album history and pick & choose the songs I want to hear. I can see which of their songs are most popular. Find out more information by them. See related artists. And since I pay for it, I can also listen to Spotify music offline. This is perfect for my iPod Touch when I’m not on a wifi connection. And means I don’t have to use the horrendous piece of bloated software that is iTunes.

This isn’t a shill for Spotify, but for any music service. It took me a bit to be open to paying for digital music, when I could acquire it for free. I’ve found it to be more than worth it as far as selection and time-management goes.


It’s the Internet! Of course there’s free porn! There’s tons of pictures and videos available online all over.

Unfortunately, many of the free videos on websites are edited. While there are sites that have a whole library of free videos, most are usually bad. Bad quality in terms of video and actors. Although, if you prefer amateur stuff, this probably works for you. Many of these free videos don’t cover specific niches. And most are edited down to 10 minutes, or have commercial interruptions, enticing you to subscribe to see more.

The other free alternative is, again, torrenting. While you will get the full version here, mislabeling is a big issue. Or even if isn’t mislabeled, you just don’t know if you will like it. Downloading takes some time/energy, so if you don’t like any of them, it can be a waste.

For a year, I split a subscription with a friend, costing us $50 each total to a well-known site. (I was going through a serious Asa Akira phase.) For the price of Netflix, there was a huge selection of top quality full-length videos available. You could also download videos to keep forever. New videos were added all the time. It didn’t have commercial interruptions or the best parts edited out. I could even be notified when new videos featuring my favorite actors were added to the site. I didn’t have to sift through tons of files. Or be emotionally disturbed when a video turned out to be something completely different.

After that one year, my friend and I let the subscription run out. Although it was much better than dealing with free sources, it’s still a difficult cost (albeit low) to justify.

(I know there are other free sources and invite-only places but I’m not familiar enough with them).


Once upon a time, I had a jailbroken iPhone (2008). It was very useful as at the time it was the only way to disable all notifications. But jailbroken devices also allow you the opportunity to install paid apps for free. Sure, you’ll save a few bucks here and there. But unless you really know what you’re doing, jailbreaking can be a bit scary. Even with as simple as it is today, when going through it at one point I was certain I bricked my phone. Scary moment!

After one of the upgrades, I reformatted everything and just kept the native installation on there. Then I sucked it up and started paying for my apps. At least it made me think twice before just downloading something willy nilly.


Like the other media, you can download movies online for free. Sometimes while they’re still in theaters. Screeners (when someone videotapes a movie in the theater) are notoriously bad quality and definitely not worth it. Sometimes there are Award releases that are high quality. Either way, it’s generally a crapshoot until the dvd is released.

Even on the best torrent site, some obscure movies are impossible to find. Sometimes it is worth ponying up the ten bucks to just buy it in good quality.

Plus, with options like Netflix and Hulu Plus, it’s become less necessary to use other means to watch movies.

Time is a huge factor when thinking about getting certain things for free. Aside from media, most free giveaways, especially for food, end up costing you more in time than what you’re getting. I understand the allure of the word free (as does marketing departments everywhere). But most of the time, it’s worth spending ten bucks to get yourself a decent meal.


2 Replies to “Paying for Media You Can Get For Free”

  1. So while I’m not saying I agree or disagree with torrent sites, you can opt to download a single file within a batch of them, if you did just want one song (assuming you could figure out what that file is, since some people label things like morons, but other people are kind and label things logically). The same with seasons of TV shows.

    1. That’s true! But depending on which program you’re using, sometimes it takes a while to load or isn’t offered. Unfortunately that isn’t an option if you’re just grabbing a straight zip file.

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