Totally Misunderstanding Movie Downloading In France

from the so-many-mistakes,-so-little-time dept

A bunch of folks have sent in this report from Variety about a study talking about what a big deal unauthorized movie downloading is in France. Specifically, it points out that movie downloads are "reaching box office levels." Except... that means they're basically counting every download as a lost sale, which we (as well as those putting the study together) all know isn't true. Even worse, the folks behind the study (who go by the already biased name: Association Against Audiovisual Piracy) seem to totally miss the most obvious point from their own report: that movie piracy doesn't seem to have a major impact on movie ticket buying. After all, their own report points out that the most popular movies at the box office in France are also the most downloaded. If it were really true that movie downloads were harming the box office, then wouldn't that mean that the most downloaded movies ended up with fewer tickets sold? The fact that the two correlate suggest that (as we've seen over and over again) lots of movie downloading just shows tremendous demand for a movie, and it's likely to do quite well at the box office.


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  1.  
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    Dan, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:33am

    Hasn't this already been proven...

    with The Dark Knight. I've already seen it twice. Once in the theater, once at home. I'm going to see it again in the theater next week.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    See? Each download isn't a lost sale. It's many lost sales! If Dan could have downloaded The Dark Knight and watched it at home, there would be TWO tickets not sold! This is madness!

     

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    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:50am

    Comments that an illegal download does not equal a lost sale is intuitively obvious, but what seems lacking is any economic methodology for studying and quatifying the relationship in a more accurate manner.

     

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    Eddie, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    Seen it 3 times with different people and will see it this afternoon with my little brother who hasn't seen it.

    Is like Mike always says, going to the movies is a social experience, and that will never change no matter how good your downloaded copy is, or how nice your home theater system might be.

     

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    Tabs, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    Yup, agreed,

    went to the cinema and watched it,loved it.

    Told more friends about it and sat down one evening to watch an online version in me lounge.... quality was crap and i couldn't let them see it like that for their first viewing. so we bundled out the door and paid £7.50 each for tickets for something we had started watching at home for free.

    can't wait till the good copies get online though. i've paid £15 so far for this and i'm not likely to bunk that up to £35 as soon as DVD comes out, i'll wait till its not the crappy basic first release for £20. when they release the updated special edition bonanza dvd for less than a tenner in a year or twos time i'll happilly pay up.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:08am

    Rational solution......

    What DO you think studios should do Mike?

    Let us see the options:
    1. Encourage sharing movies on internet by providing decent quality DRM free files? (Some of the theater-worthy action-filled movies might benefit. But for most other movies, drama and comedy, are going to lose)
    2. Crackdown aggressively on piracy (which they are doing now and you oppose)
    3. Turn a blind eye. In public oppose piracy, but don't enforce anti-piracy measures.

    I know most of you would be comfortable with option 3 (knowing that option 1 is impossible to get). But please realize that it is NOT a solution.

    It is very similar to immigration actually. Most people don't want to stop "illegal" immigration (most because of the cheap labor and some because of humanity). Yet they don't want clear laws to be passed which would provide fair and legal routes for immigration.

    I guess Americans don't have guts to legislate what is fair and live with it! They always like to live in the convenience of legal and moral ambiguity!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    You're right, we are missing a method, but it appears there's strong evidence that downloads lead to more sales than there would be otherwise, because of exposure. People see a movie and like it, and so they're willing to pay to see it in theatres because they're confident that the experience will be worth it.

     

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    PassinThru, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:26am

    What about DVD sales?

    I realize that the evidence suggests that movie downloads don't affect ticket sales. Has there been any research on the impact of downloads on DVD sales? How about movie rentals?

     

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    Hulser, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:30am

    Re:

    Comments that an illegal download does not equal a lost sale is intuitively obvious

    The fact that an illegal download does not equal a lost sale may be obvious, but not so much that organizations can't get away with publishisng studies that all but ignore this. If this was so obvious, when these studies were published, they'd be universally ridiculed instead of just ridiculed on tech blogs and other venues outside the mainstream media.

    but what seems lacking is any economic methodology for studying and quatifying the relationship in a more accurate manner.

    Agreed. But the very people who have the kind of money to fund a study like this don't want to hear the answers they'd provide. They don't want to hear that unpaid downloads could act in a complementary fashion to actually promote the scarce good of sitting in a movie theatre. Perhaps there are already studies out there that delve into this relationship, but my guess is that they aren't nearly as well funded as the "one download = one lost sale" studies.

     

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    x, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    I think been allowed to torrent movies should be a service that isp's provide there customers.. Charge a little extra on your subscription cost to cover home movie watching. People will still go to the cinema, I know this because I download movies online all the time and just got back from the cinema today.

     

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    Jake, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    if a movie is worth watching at all, nothing beats the theater experience. go look at the statistics. box office sales have not been affected. people still go to the popcorn stadium to watch a great movie because watching a dark, crappy, pixelated version at home just isn't as good.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    Sorry, I was trying to be absurd. Dan DID watch it at home, you'll note. I should have left off with "think of the children!"...

     

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    techno-savage, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: Hasn't this already been proven...

    So they will start cracking down on Libraries loaning books and videos next.

    If a movie comes out and is not rated well, I will wait until it comes out on DVD at my local library, and check it out for free. Therefore, they should start cracking down on libraries, being the evil cooperatives of media that they are. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge; know what I mean?)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: What about DVD sales?

    DVDs can offer a lot more than what a download provides. Rentals may be in trouble, but so what?

     

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    RabC, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    OTOH

    If d/loading wasn't affecting Movies sales/DVD sales, why would the studios care about it? They wouldn't waste precious coke money on these campaigns. Quite often the campaigns simply point out to people (who wouldn't otherwise know) that it is possible to download movies from the Internet. I personally haven't been to the cinema for a decade, that's simply because the experience provided is rubbish. Clean toilets, cheap snacks, any length pause break, and own volume control make home viewing far more pleasant, and cheaper. Rent first and maybe buy. Roll on Apocalypto II.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    Re: Rational solution......

    Why do you think a drama would suffer more than an action movie? Because you like seeing big explosions, but you aren't moved by on-screen sentimentality? A good movie is a good movie, and the content is only tangential to the experience. Most stage plays are comedies or dramas (very, very few explosions on Broadway) but people flock to see them.

    #1 is not impossible. Why do you think it is? Yes, it would break a lot of the current business modle, but the cutrrent way of doing things isn't the ONLY way of doing things.

    Leave the politics at home, though, please.

     

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  17.  
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    Vincent Clement, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Re:

    It's not the methodology that is lacking, it's the lack of agreement on the assumptions.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Re: OTOH

    If d/loading wasn't affecting Movies sales/DVD sales, why would the studios care about it?

    I personally haven't been to the cinema for a decade, that's simply because the experience provided is rubbish.


    The piece your missing, which connects your two pints here, is that the Industry doesn't know what it's doing. That is, they don't understand that they're selling an experience, and they don't understand that they're experience needs major improvements (mostly this lack of understanding is because they think they're selling something else). They care about downloading because they THINK they're selling content, and if you already HAVE the content, you aren't going to buy it again.

     

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  19.  
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    Cygnus, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:07am

    Except... that means they're basically counting every download as a lost sale, which we (as well as those putting the study together) all know isn't true.
    This is one of the great red herring responses in support of movie/music piracy. Who cares if each download does not represent a lost sale? It represents a theft. The person stealing has been unlawfully benefited at the expense of the owner.
    ...movie piracy doesn't seem to have a major impact on movie ticket buying.
    What about DVD sales down the road?

     

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  20.  
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    Hulser, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    If d/loading wasn't affecting Movies sales/DVD sales, why would the studios care about it?

    I don't think anybody -- especially not Mike -- is saying that downloading movies doesn't affect movie sales. The point is that the effect is not as simple as "one download = one lost sale". Also, that there can even be both positive and negative effects. But to answer your question of why the studies care about movie downloads; personally, I think that it's a simple matter of fear of the unknown and risk aversion. The movie industry exists in a very different technological environment than it did years ago, but the business models are lagging behind. It's far easier to just stay with the same model and let someone else experimenting with a new business model. This and the fact that people just naturally stay with what they know. I think it will eventually change, but it will take a while and it will be a bumpy ride.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Rational solution......

    Drama vs Action: Most fans of action movies watch them multiple time. Take a look: http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross. Only Forrest Gump and The Sixth Sense are true dramas in top 50. I wouldnt watch a drama in theater that I have already seen on computer. Using Dark Knight as an example that "good movies win irrelevant of piracy" is wrong.

    Forget this for a moment. Suggest at least one model where giving away DRM free movie would work financially?

     

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  22.  
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    Ulle, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:22am

    # 19 "This is one of the great red herring responses in support of movie/music piracy. Who cares if each download does not represent a lost sale? It represents a theft. The person stealing has been unlawfully benefited at the expense of the owner."

    and this is one of the more ignorant responses, downloading a digital file is not stealing, nor is it theft, if you feel otherwise please show me an actual law on the books somewhere.

     

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  23.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    "It represents a theft. "

    ...now *that's* a red herring. For various reasons that have been repeated here ad nauseum, illegal downloading does not and cannot equal theft. That worst it can mean is a lost sales opportunity. What is ridiculous, again for many repeated reasons is to assume that *every* download equals a lost sale. It simply is not true.

    "The person stealing has been unlawfully benefited at the expense of the owner."

    No they haven't. For example, many people downloading The Dark Knight now are doing so because they don't want to watch it at the cinema. Depending on transport, childcare and other costs, it can cost $30-40 for some people to watch a movie at the cinema. They may not be able to afford that, so watch the downloaded version instead. They'll buy the DVD when it comes out, but the studio is forcing them to wait 6 months before they have the opportunity. Remove the ability to download, and an extra ticket sale would not be forthcoming.

    "What about DVD sales down the road?"

    What about them? there are many factors that may affect the purchase of a DVD, including double/triple-dipping (many people wait 6 months before buying the DVD, as the studios have a habit of releasing a special edition once demand for the first version dies down), availability (not every movie is available at Wal Mart), price (the cost of a DVD goes down after a few months, always), as well as the quality of the film. there are only 2 reasons why a download will guarantee a lost sale. First is if the DVD offers no benefits over the download (e.g. a bare bones edition). Second, if the movie is terrible and the customer has no desire to see it a second time - that's why Spiderman 3 sales were so poor. Both of these factors are within the studios' control.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Rational solution......

    A modle where the movie is paid for and profit is made before release.

    If you want more detail, raise the money before production, probably through petitioning fans online. Give them a goal, some amount of money that, if you raise it, will see the movie produced. Give them some incentive, like their name in the credits as a sponsor. Maybe offer them some kind of tiered sponsorship structure. Offer screenings for the biggest sponsors, or pre-sell DVDs at some level.Then you release it and it's OK if people see it for free because you've already made your profit. Tie in some other bits (like special-edition DVDs and behind the scenes content, informative booklets, etc) for later downstream revenue. People will love you because you're working WITH them, rather than fighting them.

    If you need more detail, ask an economist; I'm just the janitor.

     

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    Ditto, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    Ditto, you an econ or stats major?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re:

    In your second point you're mistaking his intent. He doesn't care if you later buy a ticket/DVD/whatever, you were wrong to 'steal.' He's taking a moral stance that downloading is wrong because we say it's wrong. If you've seen his content, he expects you to pay him for it. The trouble is he neglects the fact that he's making it very difficult and, as you note, sometimes financially inviable to pay him.

    His point is that, fine, if he can't make a financial appeal he'll make a moral one. You're a bad person because you didn't ask permission to watch his show.

     

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  27.  
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    Cygnus, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    and this is one of the more ignorant responses, downloading a digital file is not stealing, nor is it theft, if you feel otherwise please show me an actual law on the books somewhere.
    Yours falls under the wow-just-wow category of ignorance. If you need to parse words so absolutely, you're in trouble. No, not theft but an infringement of the rights of another that may be suitably categorized as theft since it unlawfully benefits the infringing party and typically results in a loss for the infringed party. Fool. See 17 USC Section 106.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    Theft requires that the origuinal owner be denied his just ownership. You can steal a car, you can steal a sandwich, you can probably steal a house if you try. You can't properly steal an idea, or a song, or a digital copy, because the owner retains his ownership.

    Saying the digital copies are theft is like saying that I stole your car by building an exact replica myself. You still have your car.

     

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  29.  
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    Cygnus, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re:

    No they haven't. For example, many people downloading The Dark Knight now are doing so because they don't want to watch it at the cinema. Depending on transport, childcare and other costs, it can cost $30-40 for some people to watch a movie at the cinema. They may not be able to afford that, so watch the downloaded version instead. They'll buy the DVD when it comes out, but the studio is forcing them to wait 6 months before they have the opportunity. Remove the ability to download, and an extra ticket sale would not be forthcoming.
    Please tell me you're kidding. Pretty please. If a person cannot afford the price, then they have no right to use the material. How different would it be to go to Avis, pick up a car, return it a few days later and say, "I'll pay you at some indefinite time in the future."

    The owners and creators of movies/music have the right to decide how much it costs. If the price is too steep, demand will decline. And, apparently, theft will increase.

    Justify it anyway you like, the owners of intellectual property rights have the right to decide the terms of a sale. If you choose to circumvent those rules, you are a thief.

     

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  30.  
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    mjt, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:47am

    "It represents a theft."

    No it doesn't.

    If I steal your lunch money, you're not eating lunch. If I copy a disc, you still have the original, no theft occurred and you can still enjoy your movie.

     

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  31.  
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    Cygnus, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Theft requires ... blah, blah, blah."

    No, it doesn't. In your prejudicial and one-sided thinking, it might. But it doesn't. Theft is a legal term subject to legal definitions.

    Consider a New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8b. It makes illegal the theft of services. Things specifically include are phone and internet or, say, sneaking into a movie. In all of those, the harmed party is arguably not "out" anything. Yet, still theft. Go figure.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In all those cases, you're using up resources that wouldn't be used without you and haven't been paid for. This even covers sneaking into a theatre, though that's a rather weak example. There is no service being taken when someone downloads a digital copy.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Theft of service" is not theft; just like "intellectual property" is not property. Different concepts, unfortunately lumped together semantically for lack of proper terms.

    I won't deny your emotional distress over the fact that some people choose to enjoy content you created without compensating you the way you feel you're entitled to - it might feel wrong to you, but that doesn't make it theft.

     

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  34.  
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    Cygnus, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    LOL. Okay.

     

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  35.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Re: Rational solution......

    What DO you think studios should do Mike?

    Let us see the options:
    1. Encourage sharing movies on internet by providing decent quality DRM free files? (Some of the theater-worthy action-filled movies might benefit. But for most other movies, drama and comedy, are going to lose)
    2. Crackdown aggressively on piracy (which they are doing now and you oppose)
    3. Turn a blind eye. In public oppose piracy, but don't enforce anti-piracy measures.


    How about option 4:

    Give people more reasons to *want* to pay. Learn how to use free file sharing to your advantage as a promotion, but focus on making the overall experience better, offering additional benefits for actually paying.

    We've covered most of this in detail for years.

     

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  36.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, the point is that it's *not* stealing.

    Stealing is wrong not because you are profiting without paying, but rather because you are depriving somebody else of that object. if I steal your car, I am depriving you of that car, the use of it, you insurance costs, etc. If I steal a DVD from a shop, I am depriving them of the opportunity to sell that object, the cost of stocking it, etc. If I download a movie, the studio have lost absolutely nothing other than an opportunity to sell it to me. Which assumes that I was going to buy the DVD but then decided to download it instead, *and* will never buy a copy afterwards.

    There *are* valid arguments against IP infringement, but equating it to stealing a physical object is not one of them. The same moral arguments simply do not apply.

     

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  37.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, for example, you've never borrowed a DVD or CD from a friend and used it without paying? Or a book? If you've ever done these, you're technically violated copyright.

    Stop with the false analogies about downloaded content and cars - it's just ridiculous. The studios only lose something if a person download a movie *instead* of buying a movie ticket. In my example, the people downloading would not have gone to the theater, so no money lost. In the stupid, stupid Avis analogy you used, Avis would be without use of the car for several days so would have lost revenue from other paying customers. Oranges vs apples, it's an invalid comparison.

    If a person downloads a movie, it does not stop anyone else from seeing the movie. Period. Again, all that is lost is the potential to make a sale to that person at that time, which may not have existed in the first place. Also, as mentioned many times above, the theaters are *not* selling the content, they're selling the experience of seeing the movie, which cannot be downloaded. If they concentrate on that, piracy won't lose them a penny.

     

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  38.  
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    Kyle, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    "that may be suitably categorized as theft"

    the point is it can't You may categorize it that way, but that is not what the law says.

    it's not parsing words, it is defined by law.

    and again, to say that it even, "typically" results in a loss, is simply beyond your knowledge. You believe it does, I believe it doesn't - but neither of us no for sure.

    It is a non-argument. Fool.

     

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  39.  
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    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Theft

    There seems to be a lot of "wordsmithing" being presented here, with those who say "not theft" drawing a distinction between tangible and intangible goods, i.e., "You can still use your copy so I have not stolen anything from you."

    I suggest those who subscribe to the above notion refrain from attempting to use it as a defense should your local state prosecutor file charges against you for "theft". See, for example, "theft" as defined and treated under Chapter 812 of the Florida Statutes (which closely parallels the laws in virtually all other states, D.C., commonwealths and territories).

    "Theft" is whatever the law says it is, and is not based upon a "scarce/infinite" distinction.

     

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  40.  
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    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    Re: Theft

    Perhaps "tangible/intangible" is a better term...

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Rational solution......

    Why should the public pay for something which might never be made? (many movies are shelved during initial stages and by that time some money is already spent).

    Also, at the end if I get to see it for free, why should I even have to pay?

    Special edition/pre-release DVDs are going to sell if the movie is already famous. There will be a very few people who are going to pay for that kind of stuff even before the movie is created.

    BTW: I find janitor to be the smartest character in scrubs:)

     

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  42.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    Re: Theft

    So, you don't think there's a difference between physical theft of an item and copyright infringement? Makes sense given your usual comments here.

    There is a massive difference between physical theft and copying of digital data, whether or not you choose to accept it. Lawyers like you who fail to see the difference are the reason why the entertainment industry is having problems adjusting to the digital world. Thankfully, there are those who understand this and are leveraging it to increase their profits rather than sue their own customers.

     

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  43.  
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    snowburn14, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    What?

    "If it were really true that movie downloads were harming the box office, then wouldn't that mean that the most downloaded movies ended up with fewer tickets sold?"

    Um, no? You're right in that both of those things are a result of a high demand for the movie, but this question is just silly. Fewer tickets sold than what? The hypothetical number of tickets sold if nothing had been downloaded, which is impossible to determine? Or the completely unrelated and otherwise irrelevent number of tickets sold for another movie?
    Stop trying to pretend there's any way to provide evidence that downloads DON'T affect sales. You can't. Well, not without a time machine anyway. That doesn't mean they DO affect sales, though... I'm also of the belief that the industry is huffing and puffing a little harder than necessary over this. And I agree it should be intuitively obvious that 1 dl != 1 ticket. The ones downloaded most are going to make their killer profit anyway. It's sort of like socialism, with those who can afford it the most, giving the most, to those who...well, ok, so the "pirates" aren't the most in need, but they are either in the cheapest or most crafty category, so that's close enough.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Re: What?

    "And I agree it should be intuitively obvious that 1 dl != 1 ticket."

    Except, that's not true. That's the point here. There are many examples where a person downloading a movie *would not* have paid to see the movie if the download were not available. There are also many examples of times when a downloaded movie leads to greater sales due to the preview element or promotion. Yes, downloads affect movie sales, but it's far from the "1 dl = 1 lost sale" bull that's being spouted by the industry.

    "It's sort of like socialism, with those who can afford it the most, giving the most, to those who...well, ok, so the "pirates" aren't the most in need, but they are either in the cheapest or most crafty category, so that's close enough."

    What?

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Innocent, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Empty multiplex situation....

    Can I just go and sit inside a movie if I knew it is empty without paying ticket?

    I am not stealing anything. If they don't allow me to watch it that way then I am not going to watch it anyways. So there is no loss-of-business for anybody. And if I like the movie I am going to watch it again by buying tickets. Looks like a win-win situation to me!

    I am so naive :-0

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Theft

    Of course there is a "difference", but my point was merely to note that what comprises "theft" as a matter of criminal law is not limited to just depriving a person of "possession". It is much broader. Hence, my tongue in cheek comment that pleading "not guilty" on the basis that nothing tangible was taken is not likely to get much traction before a judge.

     

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  47.  
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    Kevin, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Rational solution......

    Nearly every song ever recorded is available somewhere for 'free' and yet Apple has no trouble getting millions to buy songs at $.99 a pop. Why? Convenience, ease of use, assurance of quality, positive buying experience, participative community, free content, etc. People aren't paying for the song so much as the entire service which adds value to the content.

    Make your distribution mechanism a beneficial and positive experience and people will flock to you with open wallets.

     

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  48.  
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    RD, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    Theft vs Infringement

    Good lord some people just dont get it (esp. those with names beginning with "C"). So when Han van Meegeren painted several forgeries of Ter Borch, and Vermeer, he was STEALING from them, right? By your own definition, COPYING is THEFT, therefore he stole from them, he deprived them of something, correct? How about a xerox copy of something? Same thing, right, its THEFT! Your own words damn you from your keyboard.

    Now, you will (and should) likely (and rightly) point out that forgery is not the same thing, and falls under a different classification in law. And that is the entire point that you seem to ignore when it comes to your fervent definition of copying=theft. Theft always requires deprivation of something from the injured party. And no, "lost potential sales" do not qualify, that would fall under a different statute than copyright infringement.

    Whatever you BELIEVE the law to be, infringement is not, and never has been, enforced as criminal theft (yet). Sorry, fail.

    The poor cognitive skills of people these days never ceases to amaze me. You should really know the topics you talk about before opening your yammering cakehole and prove how little you truly know.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Rational solution......

    What!!

    An album (CD) usually consists of 10-12 songs and costs $15 and buying one at a time is convenient. Agreed!

    Why don't you convince apple, with your superior convincing skills, to allow copying shared directory of others in the network? (they can also put a "quality degrader" as they do while ripping songs from CD). See how that is going to plummet their sales.

    All I am saying is due to current anti-piracy actions it is "a bit" difficult to get high-quality media easily (for free). And that small obstacle makes people buy.

     

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  50.  
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    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Theft vs Infringement

    "Whatever you BELIEVE the law to be, infringement is not, and never has been, enforced as criminal theft (yet). Sorry, fail."

    Since its inception by enactment of the Copyright Act of 1790, and continuing to this day, some form of criminal penalties have been associated with copyright infringement. Moreover, since in criminal matters involving copyright law the federal scheme has not been declared to preempt the field, state laws are also applicable.

    As noted above, most states have enacted laws denominated "theft" that embrace acts such as unauthorized copying.

     

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  51.  
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    Hulser, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    As noted above, most states have enacted laws denominated "theft" that embrace acts such as unauthorized copying.

    MLS, can you provide a link to a state law which equates copyright infringement with "theft"? I'd be honestly interested to read up a bit on this, but it would help to get a point in the right direction.

    Anyone who's read TD for longer than a couple of days knows that the use of the word "theft" is a hot topic. I can see where, from an emotional standpoint, someone would naturally equate illegal downloading with theft, but based on what I've read on TD (and what's been linked from TD), my thought is that, from a purely legal standpoint, there is a distinction between theft and illegal copying. It seems like you have some knowledge of this topic, so can you provide a source for your statement that state law treats them the same?

     

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  52.  
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    David (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Empty multiplex situation....

    > Can I just go and sit inside a movie if I knew it is empty without paying ticket?

    ...

    > I am so naive :-0

    Of course, you realise it costs the multiplex money to screen a film and provide air conditioning etc. Anyway, presumably (I don't know for sure) if no one buys a ticket for a particular screening, they just don't bother showing the movie?

    So feel free to sneak in and stare at a blank screen for a couple of hours if you want to ...

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    Using Florida as an example, see:

    Chapter 812 of the Florida Statutes

     

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  54.  
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    Hulser, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    I did a search and...I think you're going to have to be more specific. If you're going to contradict the assertions made on TD that theft is legally different from copyright infringement, I think you're going to have to give some more details than just "Chapter 812 of the Florida Statutes".

    I did a search and found the details of Chapter 812 on www.leg.state.fl.us. IANAL, but this seemed to me to refer to "property" which as I understanding it is different than the rights associated with copyright.

    Again, if you're going to contradict something that is commonly understood by most of the people who read and post to the comments section of TD, I think you'll need more than a vague reference to some Florida statute if you truly want to convince people.

     

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  55.  
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    MLS, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    From the Florida Statutes pertaining to crimes:

    THEFT, ROBBERY, AND RELATED CRIMES

    812.012 Definitions. (Read, inter alia, the definitions of "property" and "property of another")

    812.014 Theft. (Read the prima facie elements pertaining to "theft" under Florida law)

    812.0145 Theft from persons 65 years of age or older; reclassification of offenses. (Gets a bit more dicey here as commission may be deemed one of three classes of felonies)

    Remember, most here use the word "theft" in a sense that embraces the taking away of the tangible personal property of another, whereas under the law the word "theft" is applied much more broadly, embracing both tangible and intangible property.

     

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  56.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 9th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    ...that is, copying of physical items.

    The big problem with the law as it stands is that it assumes that anyone making a copy is doing so for profit. This is true with a physical item - nobody's going to make 1,000 copies of a CD without charging something as they need to make a monetary investment to create those copies to begin with. In addition, because a person buying the CD has already paid money for a copy, they're not likely to go to a store and buy a "real" copy , hence it's likely that there's a lost sale.

    However, the argument falls apart when talking about digital files. It's quite possible for a person to be sharing content without realising it (approx 80% of people, in my experience, do not know what they've just done when installing a program if you ask them 2 mins later). It's also very likely, especially with camcorder movie footage, that a person will go out and buy a movie at a later date. this is because there was no initial monetary outlay and the official product is of better quality.

    You can parrot the law as much as you want, but we're not strictly discussing the law here. Current IP and theft law is inadequate to deal with the realities of the digital world. People with sense recognise this and try to change those laws (which will benefit producer and consumer alike). People with little sense, such as yourself, try to enforce the letter rather than the spirit of the law, and end up hurting everyone.

     

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  57.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 9th, 2008 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    OK, the sites I find regarding this are confusing, and IANAL, but the excerpts you just posted seem to confirm what Hulser was saying - "stealing property" is not the same as "copyright infringement".

    Maybe you can explain to the layman:

    - Why does copying an item in a way that causes no tangible loss to the "victim" get called "theft"? Why can this definition be used when the "victim" has not lost anything?

    - What is there in the statutes that specifies this?

    - Why is this theft definition used instead of copyright infringement?

    I'll keep it easy and let you concentrate your arguments on the Florida system, since that's the one you seem to know. But, there's another 49 states and the article is talking about a totally different country, so maybe they're not totally relevant. I'll let you have your say, though.

     

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  58.  
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    Hulser, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    OK, the sites I find regarding this are confusing, and IANAL, but the excerpts you just posted seem to confirm what Hulser was saying - "stealing property" is not the same as "copyright infringement".

    Exactly. Based on my reading Florida statute on theft, the emphasis is not on whether the property being deprived is tangible or intangle, but whether it's property. It makes sense to me that the law would consider an intangible service as a property. If I fix your computer with the agreement that you'll pay me and then you don't, I can see where the law would say that you've "stolen" that service from me. I expended a finite resource (my time) to perform a service for you and was not paid. I think most people would call that theft.

    Once again, IANAL, but it's my understanding that strictly speaking, under the law, a studio doesn't own a movie. In other words, the movie is not literally the property of the studio. Instead, the studio has a very specific right granted to it by the government. If you illegally download that movie, by definition it's impossible to steal it because it's not property.

    For example, in the US, citizens have the right to free speech. If the government prevents a citizen from exercizing that right, the government hasn't "stolen" the person's free speech. Yes, in the broad sense of the word, the concept of theft could apply, but in the discussions on TD, the focus is on a much narrower, legal definition.

    Of course this says nothing about the morality of copyright infringement. I think people who believe that copyright infringement is the same as theft misinterpret the situation when others point out why it's not. In most cases -- and, I certainly believe, in Mike's case -- the "theft != copyright infringement" crowd are not saying that copyright infringment is morally right. What we're -- I include myself in this group -- saying is that the distinction between theft and copyright infringement is at the heart of what much of what is wrong in this space. So, it's not just pedantic splitting of hairs. And it's not saying that it's OK to illegally download music, movies, etc. What it is about is a fine point that has a host of ramifications in the area of "intellectual property"*.

    * http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080306/003240458.shtml

     

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  59.  
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    MLS, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    Mr. Masnick expresses the view he shares with others that "intangibles" (at least with respect to copyrights) should not be classified as "property", and then draws on his view to make the point that one cannot "steal" something that is not "property".

    My sole point is to note that such views notwithstanding, there are laws in place (Florida being one) that do declare intangibles as property, and then go on to declare that certain actions respecting such intangibles are deemed to fall under the law as constituting criminal acts.

    Importantly, I express no opinion on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of such laws.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Worse, he claims to be a lawyer. ;-)

    ttfn

    John

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Rational solution......

    The really rational solution is your #1.

    I also disagree with your notion that action movies would be the only beneficiaries. Sure, some do get replayed over and over again. But to argue that the Dark Knight is simply another action movie would simply be wrong. It's more than that.

    I can speak personally that I have watched some drama's repeatedly as they've grown on me over time. Unless, of course, you consider the original "Ladykillers" to be an action film, or Brangh's version of "Henry V" to be an action movie and I could go on.

    Some comedies are so well done and so unpredictable that they also stand up to repeated viewings. Most are formula done very poorly but still there are some that stand up. "Life of Brian"? anyone?

    Number 2 doesn't and will not work as there's far too much resistance to it and, to repeat, suing your customers isn't exactly the best way to stay in business no matter what laws you buy.

    Number 3 isn't about to happen either.

    So the only rational response is #1 or some variation thereof.

    Your immigration argument doesn't work here as it's comparing two entirely different things with differing impacts.

    As for legislation there is that. It's the DCMA. It isn't working even for those like the movie and recording industries that demanded it.

    Just what part of "this isn't working" getting through to you?

    ttfn

    John

     

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  62.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 9th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Rational solution......

    You have it all wrong, as many people here do. To answer your points:

    1. Piracy is already encouraged by the studios' own actions. Forcing a 6 month wait until the official DVD is released encourages people to download while waiting. If the movie is not a worldwide theatrical release (few are), people may download while waiting. Shady sales tactics when the DVDs are eventually released (region coding, double dipping) encourage people to download also.

    The studios should be looking at their brethren in the music industry. Losing DRM has generally led to increases in music sales in that industry. I see no reason why DRM-free movies would mean anything different. Put it this way - despite their attacks, every movie currently on release is available through torrents. Why not leverage that market, many of whom are willing to pay but are unable to for the above reasons?

    "most other movies, drama and comedy, are going to lose"

    Bull. The (currently) highest-grossing movie of all time is arguably a drama (Titanic) as is the biggest based on adjusted figures (Gone With The Wind). How many people have bought the Monty Python movies over the years? it's true that action and special effects laden movies are the most reliable box-office toppers, but then they cost the most to make. A $30m budgeted comedy that makes $200m is more successful than a $100m action movie that makes $300m.

    2. Depends on what you call "piracy". There's several definitions, not all of which cost money. Yeah, you want to get rid of the bloke selling dodgy DVDs at a market somewhere, but the 8 year old kid who decides to download a torrent and shares it? that's not going to happen. Put it this way, I remember passing a tape around school of Robocop 2 and Total Recall - both workprints as it turns out. Has that piracy not been possible, not only would I not have been able to watch the movies at the cinema instead (I was under 18 so couldn't get into a UK cinema for those movies), but I wouldn't have had the fond memories that led to me buying the VHS and DVDs later in life.

    3. Bingo. Tell people that they should go to see the movies at the cinemas and/or buy the DVDs and then leave up to them. there's many examples of why this works. Once you start enforcing "anti-piracy" measures, you catch an unacceptable number of innocent people. No anti-piracy measure is perfect, and once a pirated copy of the movie is available, the only people they affect are legitimate customers. I can't legally watch a legitimate US DVD on my UK Linux laptop, and I have to put up with unskippable anti-piracy messages, yet the pirates have no such problems.

    "I guess Americans don't have guts to legislate what is fair and live with it! "

    Well, as you might noticed, it's not about Americans. The problem with the entertainment industry is that it's titles-based. That is, if I want a stereo then I can buy from any brand. If I don't like one brand, I buy another. If I want to buy a copy of Batman Begins, I have no choice, I can only buy from one company (Warner). Now, because we get entertainment through so many free sources (radio, TV, loans from family & friends), the line between paying and not paying is blurred. According to copyright law, loaning a copy of your DVD shouldn't be allowed (he didn't pay to see it!), but it's allowed. there's not way to enforce the rules without penalising paying customers. Not the way to go.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Theft vs Infringement

    My sole point is to note that such views notwithstanding, there are laws in place (Florida being one) that do declare intangibles as property, and then go on to declare that certain actions respecting such intangibles are deemed to fall under the law as constituting criminal acts.

    But just because a particular statute declares some intangibles as property, it doesn't mean that all intangibles are property. As you pointed out yourself, the intangibles that are being discussed here on TD are in respect to copyrights. So, since Florida law categorizes the intangibles of a service as property, it can then be stolen. But just because "intellectual property" is an intangible, it doesn't necessarily follow that it's property.

    So, as a corollary to "All mothers are women, but not all women are mothers", you could say "All intellectual property is intangible, but not all that is intangible is an intelletual property.

    So, once again, the Florida statute to which you refer (because it refers to the wrong kind of intangible) doesn't seem to refute the idea that since IP it not really property, it can't be "stolen".

     

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  64.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 10th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: Rational solution......

    ... But I notice despite the title of your comment, you propose no rational solution, nor in fact any solution. All you do is rant against the current moral ambiguity.

    Which is fine, but you seem to prefer the solution of passing laws and enforcing them. Nice and easy, but it doesn't actually solve any problems, does it? It just puts the government in charge of protecting the IP holders' revenue streams and current business practices while inconveniencing their customers and alienating potential customers. Not to mention throwing more people in jail.

    What's that? Fines? No, that's for civil offenses. The gummint prefers to throw you in a cage for criminal offenses, and that's what this becomes if you get them to start passing laws. Obviously stealing music and movies is criminal.

    Not to mention that this starts costing tax dollars for prosecuting and jailing all those people.


    Hah hah. See what you've done? By not actually proposing a solution of your own, or even a suggestion, you've got me a) making straw-man arguments and b) doing exactly what you did, ranting against one position without proposing an alternate solution.

    Of course, being a typical American I blame you rather than taking personal responsibility. Just like the RIAA and MPAA which would rather blame the customers for their failing business model rather than take responsibility and change with the times. Tee hee! Snuck that one in there with an analogy!

    My proposal? I don't know, really. It seems to me that there has to be a way to leverage the networking system. And in fact there's plenty of evidence to show that sharing free content actually increases sales. (Read Prime Palaver at http://www.baen.com/library, for example.) So instead of forbidding all copying and trying to either sue, prosecute or both everybody who dares to make an unauthorized copy of something copyrighted.

    Guess what? Yes, I'm proposing (as many wiser heads have done before me) that they actually embrace file sharing and use it as a tool.

    For one thing, they're not going to stop it. They just AREN'T. The genie is out of the bottle. The only way to re-can a can of worms is to use a bigger can. When people want to do something, they'll do it; the prohibition proved that, the war on drugs is proving that, and we're too stupid to learn from the past or we wouldn't still be proving it.

    OK, I'm finished ranting. Let's hear your rational solution. I'm all ears.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2008 @ 12:28am

    http://gregtvhomeentertainment.blogspot.com/ - Another good one! *thumbs* ha

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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