My hard drive is now 10 gigabytes lighter. I took a big step and deleted all of the pirated magic stuff that I've accumulated over nearly a year.
There were several hundred books, lecture notes, essays, and trick instructions. I also had a dozen full-length videos, not including all the ones that were burnt to CD. Those will be thrown out. Basically, if you can name a magician, I had a pirated copy of his material.
Why the sudden change in heart? The law enforcement community was not involved. Sudden onset of conscience was more like it. It's interesting the way things played out.
I downloaded a pirated copy of Michael Close's "Workers" series. As I read through the e-book, I came to realize the incredible amount of time, thought, and energy that went into it. I felt bad about taking advantage of it at absolutely no cost to me. (For some reason, this never occured to me with all of the other crap I downloaded.) There was also an essay on ethics in "Workers" that helped change my way of looking at things.
I spent the next few hours removing the offending contraband from my hard-drive, which took me a ridiculously long time. I could have done it in five minutes, since everything was meticulously organized by author, type of magic, and genre of electronic media. I could have deleted everything in a few keystrokes.
Instead I spent the better part of three-and-a-half-hours, meticulously reading every PDF and watching every movie before I deleted it. It was weird how difficult it was to say 'goodbye' to everything I had accumulated. But I'm glad I did it, because I think all the magi-piracy made me a poorer magician.
Having thousands of magic tricks available without any investment on my part cheapened their value. I learned dozens of tricks without getting good at any of them. Piracy blurred the line between knowing secrets and being a good magician.
It also cheapened the value of all the books I obtained legally. After all, who cares about learning Ammar's cups and balls when you have forty other variations instantly accessible on your computer?
But all that is now behind me. My hard drive is unclogged and I can now breathe freely. In the immortal words of who the hell knows, "Hoo-Rah!."