I do not believe that illegal downloading is a victim-less crime. For instance, illegal music downloads affect both the artist and their record company. Using my favorite music artist as an example, Eminem came out with an album exactly one week ago. The album was illegally “leaked” on the internet six days prior to its release date. I admit that I downloaded the album before the actual release date. However, I still went out and bought the album on the day it was released. When people just download the music for free and do not end up buying the album or buying an individual song off of Itunes, they are taking money out of the the pocket of Eminem and his record company, Interscope records.
When someone as popular as Eminem releases an album, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be stripped from him because of illegal downloading. Although I have illegally downloaded music, I do not see it as being different from stealing. In my eyes, its the same as walking into a store and stealing a music album. However, the one who initially posts the illegal material online should be the one who faces the most serious punishment.