Mitch Wagner Asks About Ethics Of Downloading Media You Already Paid For

from the discuss dept

A few weeks back, we linked to the NY Times' Ethicist, Randy Cohen, explaining why it's not unethical to download a digital copy of a book, if you'd bought a hard copy of the book -- even though it probably violates copyright law. That created quite a lot of anger from folks who felt that it was clearly an ethical violation as well. Mitch Wagner, apparently missed that kerfuffle, as he's written up a short blog post for Computerworld asking people their thoughts on the ethics of downloading media that you purchased legally:
I recently got a hankering to re-read some of my favorite books. I already own them, in hardcover and paperback. But I'd like to re-read them as e-books. Do I need to buy the e-book versions, or can I download a pirated copy of the e-book for free?

The argument that says it's wrong is pretty simple, and clear-cut: When I bought the books, I bought individual copies of the books. All I own is that one copy. If I lost the copy, I wouldn't be entitled to a free replacement. It wouldn't be right for me to shoplift the book from the local Barnes & Noble. I'd have an obligation to buy a new copy, or borrow one legitimately, before re-reading the book.

On the other hand: I already paid for these books legitimately. They're my books. The shoplifting analogy is specious, because in that case, I'm depriving the rightful owner -- the owner of the bookstore -- of their copy of the book. If I download a copy of the e-book, nobody else is deprived of their copy.
However, he goes on to make another point that also deserves some scrutiny:
Every couple of years, TiVo hiccups and fails to record a favorite TV show. In that case, I have to decide whether to wait for the show to come out on DVD, or just download the episode from the BitTorrents.
Now there will be people who will claim that, due to the fact that it likely infringes on copyright to do so, it's automatically unethical. But morality isn't determined by the law. In general, I've always argued that if the economics increase the overall market and opportunity, then there's no moral issue to speak of -- and it's hard to see how someone downloading an episode their TiVo missed would harm the overall economy in any way. But, I'm guessing that some folks here will disagree...


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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:11am

    The best part, in my opinion, is when he mentions "The shoplifting analogy is specious, because in that case, I'm depriving the rightful owner -- the owner of the bookstore -- of their copy of the book. If I download a copy of the e-book, nobody else is deprived of their copy." This has been what so many people on "our side" have been trying to explain that the media companies refuse to acknowledge and that the politicians somehow do not (or will not) understand. Hopefully more third party analysts understand this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:23am

    I already paid for these books legitimately. They're my books. The shoplifting analogy is specious, because in that case, I'm depriving the rightful owner -- the owner of the bookstore -- of their copy of the book. If I download a copy of the e-book, nobody else is deprived of their copy.

    So it's unethical to shoplift the book from Barnes and Noble. Fine. The reasoning here seems to be that owning one copy of the book grants you some rights on other copies of the book, at least in electronic format. But since you own some aspect of the book already, that almost necessarily has implications on physical copies as well.

    If I buy two copies of the same book at Barnes and Noble, why should I pay full price for the second one? If I buy 200 copies, why should I pay the same price for the last 199 of them? Is it ethical, then, to give Barnes and Noble somewhat less than their full asking price for those other 199? How much less? If the book is listed at $10, can I leave $7 on the counter and walk out without a stain on my conscience? (Yes, I understand the Loss Prevention guys might follow me out and tackle me, but that has nothing to do with ethics).

    If I resell those $7 books to people who don't already own a copy, am I then ethically obligated to collect extra and give it back to Barnes and Noble? After all, they don't already own a copy of the book.

    In general, I've always argued that if the economics increase the overall market and opportunity, then there's no moral issue to speak of

    Interesting. So let's say a celebrity - maybe Winona Ryder - is walking through a store and drops an expensive dress in her bag and walks out without paying. But Winona is going to wear that dress to the Oscars later that week, and that will undoubtedly increase the market and opportunities related to that dress. Was Winona's peccadillo therefore moral/ethical?

     

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    tim, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:39am

    Re:

    I dont like the way you are considering duplicate copies of physical books. The way you describe, someone is still operating at a measurable loss, it makes sense for you to be punished. How about saying, if you have already bought a book, but you dont like the font size, is it immoral for you to photocopy that book at 200% yourself? or should you have to go find another print of it with larger text? Or should you be able to photocopy, but still have to pay barnes and noble the list price of one of their books, even though you havent actually recieved anything from them?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    But you would be depriving the bookstore of scarce physical merchandise if you were to steal the book. Those are goods that cost a fixed amount to produce *per copy*. The store would be losing the ability to sell the merchandise they paid for already to other customers. In the case of downloading a digital backup/format shift, the bookstore still has exactly as many copies to sell to other customers and nobody is deprived of anything. There's just one more copy in the world, which cost nobody anything. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4&feature=player_embedded

     

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    Analmouse etc, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re:

    That's a new thought to the argumment, nice analogy.

    Good point sire

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:49am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, stealing the book would clearly not be OK by this logic. But I'm not proposing to steal it. I'm proposing that you pay for it, you just pay less. The argument seems to be that if I buy a physical copy of the book, I get two things: the physical copy itself (the paper, the ink) and some essence of the book itself.

    Owning the essence of the book itself entitles me to get ebooks for free, ethically speaking. If I did not own the essence of the book, it would not be OK, ethically, to download it without paying.

    But how much of the price I paid for the original book goes toward the physical copy, and how much toward the essence? And why, then, can't I just subtract the price of the essence from the price of the physical copy, and pay that? If the book costs $10 - $7 for the physical copy and $3 for the essence, why do I have to pay $10 for a second copy of the book? Why can't I pay $10 for the first and $7 for the second, since I own the "essence" already?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re:

    I dont like the way you are considering duplicate copies of physical books. The way you describe, someone is still operating at a measurable loss, it makes sense for you to be punished. How about saying, if you have already bought a book, but you dont like the font size, is it immoral for you to photocopy that book at 200% yourself?

    I don't know. But actually your consideration isn't that much different from my proposal. I am sure we both agree that it doesn't matter if I photocopy it for personal reasons at 100% or 200% magnification. So let's say 100% - an exact copy.

    Now, let's say I don't have the equipment to make that exact copy at my home, so I contract someone to make me that copy. Same result, right?

    That copy costs less than just buying a second copy of the book. Let's say half as much - buying a second copy from B&N would be $10, but making a second copy for my personal use would cost me only $5.

    However, I realize that it's sort of foolish to pay a completely separate company to print me a second copy of the book, when there's already a company churning out plenty of copies of that book. In fact, it's the original publisher. So rather than go through all the needless hassle of paying some OTHER company to make me a copy of my book, I just go get another copy of the original publisher's run from Barnes and Noble. Making a copy of my book would have cost $5, so I leave $5 instead of the $10 asking price. Yes, I have "deprived them of a copy," but then again I did pay for it, just like I did when I "deprived them" of the first copy I bought.

     

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    SocialRobot (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem with paying the book store less for a second copy, is that they could have sold that copy to someone else for more profit.

    Technically if (using your example), the essence of the book is $3, and the physical book costs $7, then it would make sense that you should pay less for the second copy. However in reality, no book store (or publisher) would let you do that as they could sell the book to someone else for more money.

    However, with e-books, the essence remains at $3, whilst e-book itself essentially costs a negligible amount ($0). If you already own the book, you have paid your $3 for the essence, and should therefore be able to buy the e-book for '$0'.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:09am

    Ridiculous

    What ridiculous arguments, the notion of owning two physical copies of the same book. Not even close to being relevant in the argument of owning a physical copy and then wondering if pirating an electronic version would be unethical?

    He owns a copy. He could very well scan his own electronic version of the book. That is by no means unethical or even illegal. So skipping the personal labour and downloading that electronic version amounts to the same thing.

    I own 800 CDs. I'm too lazy to rip them all to MP3. I simply downloaded all the albums I own. I feel there is nothing at all wrong with doing that. I would not fret doing the same with an eBook if I owned the hardcopy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The problem with paying the book store less for a second copy, is that they could have sold that copy to someone else for more profit.

    They should order more books, then. Then they'd have copies for both of us. There's lots of paper and ink. If a store runs out of copies of a book, it's a failure of inventory management - not a representation of actual scarcity.

    Let's say I go into Barnes and Noble today and there is only one copy of a book I want there. Suddenly, some other guy grabs it before I get to it and heads for the counter. I follow him and protest that I want the book, too. Does Barnes and Noble 1) sell him the book at the list price or 2) hold an impromptu auction between the two of us?

    Of course it does (1). Does that pose an ethical problem because they COULD have sold it at a higher price through an auction?

     

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    Sal, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    When you buy a printed book, do you buy the copyright license, the physical good or both?

    When you buy a book from a bookstore, you obviously buy the physical good, but the license is what is in question. If you already bought one paper copy at the bookstore price, it wouldn't make sense to buy the second at a lower price because the store already purchased the book from the publisher at an agreed price. You could ask the publisher to sell you a discounted book, but good luck.

    Copying or downloading is a different issue. I would argue that when you pay for the content in any form equal to what the creator thinks it's worth, you have the freedom to do what you want with the content(except resell it as your own).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:17am

    But, I'm guessing that some folks here will disagree...

    Who cares, Im downloading anything I've already paid for at least once and won't feel bad about it in anyway.

    Screw the folks who will disagree!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:18am

    Re: Ridiculous

    What ridiculous arguments, the notion of owning two physical copies of the same book. Not even close to being relevant in the argument of owning a physical copy and then wondering if pirating an electronic version would be unethical?

    Because...you say so? It's extremely close.

    He owns a copy. He could very well scan his own electronic version of the book. That is by no means unethical or even illegal. So skipping the personal labour and downloading that electronic version amounts to the same thing.

    And he could make a photocopy of his own book also. Or he could contract someone to make that photocopy. Since the publisher is doing exactly that, he could "skip the personal labour" and just go out and get a second copy of the original book, as long as he paid the publisher the costs of the copy (just as he would pay a photocopying house).

    I own 800 CDs. I'm too lazy to rip them all to MP3. I simply downloaded all the albums I own. I feel there is nothing at all wrong with doing that.

    What would you do with your MP3 copies if you were to sell or lose one of those 800 CDs? Do you ever loan any to a friend? If so, what do you do with the MP3s while the corresponding CD is on loan?

     

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    SocialRobot (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:26am

    What would you do with your MP3 copies if you were to sell or lose one of those 800 CDs? Do you ever loan any to a friend? If so, what do you do with the MP3s while the corresponding CD is on loan?
    Probably exactly the same as if he had ripped them all to MP3 himself. The point here is that 'pirating' CDs he already owns to save time and effort converting them himself. I do exactly the same, takes seconds to download an MP3 version of a CD, rather then minutes to rip the CD myself. Same end result.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    When you buy a book from a bookstore, you obviously buy the physical good, but the license is what is in question.

    We're talking about ethics here, not laws. Copyright and licenses are legal constructs.

    If you already bought one paper copy at the bookstore price, it wouldn't make sense to buy the second at a lower price because the store already purchased the book from the publisher at an agreed price.

    Isn't that their problem, though? In fact, I'm betting the bookstore bought many copies of the book. Let's say 1000. Why would it buy the "essence" of the book 1000 times and not just once?

    You could ask the publisher to sell you a discounted book, but good luck.

    Oh, so if I eliminate the middleman, then it's ethical to pay a reduced rate for my 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th) copy. Isn't it unethical for them to NOT sell me those second/third/fourth copies for less than the market rate? After all, aren't they double-dipping by selling me the "essence" twice?

    I would argue that when you pay for the content in any form equal to what the creator thinks it's worth, you have the freedom to do what you want with the content

    Are you really "paying for the content," though? You're paying for something - some essence, but does that essence give me ethical free reign to do anything I want with the full content for all uses? When the creator puts the content in a physical form like a book, he has amortized the cost of the content across many physical objects. So you're paying not for the content, but a small fraction of the amortized cost of the content.

    A version of Windows costs many tens of millions of dollars to make, but you can buy it for like $199 thanks to the miracle of amortization. If I'm a company that owns 1000 computers, is it ethical to buy one copy of Windows and install it on all 1000 of my computers? After all, by your logic I paid what the creator thought the content was worth, and I am not reselling it as my own...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:29am

    Like most, I purchase a number of books based on others reccomendations. Usually, the way it works is this:

    -> Someone tells me about a book I should read.

    -> Admittedly, I will look online to see if I can read past the first 10 pages on Amazon to see if they have any substance.

    --> If it's cool, I'll try to find more information online, I will scan through it and if it's neat enough when I've had a few beers, I'll leave a Post-It® note on my keyboard for me to buy it when I awake.

    ----> (else) I can't find anything online, I look for something else and open another beer.

    If, when I wake up and am out of beers, and I realize I didn't find anything good that night, I may write a letter to Mitch Wagner telling him how bad his book is and how I didn't find interesting.

    I may even provide him a link to something interesting and ask him to be more funny.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    I do exactly the same, takes seconds to download an MP3 version of a CD, rather then minutes to rip the CD myself. Same end result.

    What if the MP3s you downloaded were not simply CD rips automatically encoded by software, but painstakingly re-engineered by the record company for maximum sound fidelity in the MP3 format?

    This is analogous to one of the arguments for why it might not be ethical to download the e-Book: the e-Book is generally NOT simply a scanned copy of the paper book; it is reformatted for electronic consumption. Someone was paid to do this work.

    What about downloading an audiobook of a book for which you already own the paper copy? Conversely, if you own an audiobook, is it ethical to download an e-Book version?

     

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    Tim Footman, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:46am

    Old skool

    I thought this one had been hammered into the ground a quarter century ago. If I bought a vinyl LP*, but wanted to listen to it on my Walkman*, did I have to buy a cassette* version? Technically, copying it onto a C90 was illegal, but I don't think any copyright holder had the chutzpah to prosecute.

    *Younger readers may wish to Google some of these.

     

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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 2:48am

    MP3s

    When AllOfMP3.com was still trading, I took the opportunity to download the whole of my vinyl collection as MP3s for 10p a track. This seemed fair, as I had already paid for the right to listen to the music, and a small percentage of that 10p was going back to the record companies. In effect, I was paying someone else to digitise "my" music for me, using better hardware than I could afford.

    If I'd had to buy it from iTunes and the like it would have been cheaper to replace my broken turntable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:02am

    Yeah, your right. I couldn't fire Dennis either.

     

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    Josef, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:02am

    Re: Ridiculous

    This is actually a good argument. I don't agree with pirating at all. An artist should be paid for his/ her work, but I don't think that artist should keep receiving payment for the same thing from the same person over and over.

    The recording industry believed differently until recently. Every time a format change occurred, the industry was quite ok with charging us to move from vinyl to 8-track to cassette to CD, and a lot of us did. This latests format change has just screwed their business model and they are in a panic because their most dedicated customers are no longer happy with paying for music they may have already purchased 2 or 3 or 4 times already.

    Is it ethical to download a digital copy of something you have paid for ? YES. Is it ethical to download a digital copy of something you haven't paid for? No.

    How do you control or legislate that? I have no idea.

     

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    DS, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:42am

    I myself have always wondered how it could be illegal to download something (TV show or music) that was made publicly available for free (or a service that you already pay for), but if you recorded it live, that's a-ok.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Textbooks (medical/legal etc) have been coming with a CD/DVD of the contents and/or access to a support website for a couple of years now at least. The same thing could and should apply to fiction. You buy the book and receive a token to download the electronic version. Thus you have the "physical" object that you`ve paid for (I`m told this still matters to some folks ;) ) and can use your e-reader. Problem solved (unless of course you choose to sell the print copy on at some point)

     

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    Joseph (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 4:09am

    Downloading Media

    It is a good question to ask, are we entitled to download a product that we already own in hard copy. The moral question is would it considered stealing. On the against side, someone has to take the time to upload it to a website and manage it at a cost. How are they compensated for their time. But as a matter of morality, I agree that is is not immoral or unethical to download it. You already own it and transforming it into a digital copy. You can go through the trouble of scanning it yourself but if it is readily available there is no reason you should not be allowed to do so. Consider it a backup of what you already have. You are allowed to make copies of almost anything as long as it is for your own use and not sold or transferred.

    In my opinion, it is perfectly ethical to do so.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 4:20am

    "What if the MP3s you downloaded were not simply CD rips automatically encoded by software, but painstakingly re-engineered by the record company for maximum sound fidelity in the MP3 format?"

    If you ever find an example of this, let us know, would you?

     

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    Niall (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re:

    Most audiobooks, however, have added cost (and added value) through having a human (often vaguely famous or relevant) speaking the words in an understandable way, compared to the awfulness that is machine-reading. To me, that is Reason to Buy - and an added cost that one should feel ok for paying for. It's a transformed work, and although there ought to be fair use exceptions, isn't really the same as having 'digital' pages that you read compared to 'analogue' pages that you read.

     

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    Spaceboy, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 4:40am

    It's okay to download books/music/TV/Movies you already own. The RIAA and MPAA have been drilling it into our skulls that the artist needs to be paid or the Universe will collapse. Well, by that logic I can download the music that is on my old CD's, Cassettes, LP's and 8-tracks because I already own a license for that music. The format is irrelevant. The artist has already been paid. I am not going to pay twice for the same music.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    i use to have a really cool car when i was young. i really enjoyed driving it, i wish i still had it to drive again. someone down the street has one, maybe i will just take it and enjoy driving that type of car again. yeah. the masnick says it is fine.

     

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    Whisk33, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    Your logic is faulted. You are comparing things that are unequal. You are comparing free item (the copy)(electronic files) to a not free item (published book). Whoever is making the copy available is making it available at no cost. However the published book is not available at no cost. In your example you are arbitrarily lowering the cost of a good. In order for your example to be comparative, you will have to assume someone is making the item (copies/published book) available for free. However, even still, you will be comparing intangible goods with tangible goods.

    Since they are not identical. It would be logical to assume that the properties that govern their use are not identical as well. You/we will need to decided if, how and to what degree they differ.

     

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    Comboman, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But how much of the price I paid for the original book goes toward the physical copy, and how much toward the essence? And why, then, can't I just subtract the price of the essence from the price of the physical copy, and pay that?

    There are a couple of problems with your argument. The "essence" and physical book are not available separately (at least at Barnes & Noble). There is no mechanism in place for you to pay for them separately. Even if you could (say shoplift the book and leave your "donation" on the counter), B&N pay the distributor for both the essence and physical book so if you pay only for the physical second copy, B&N loses the money they paid to the distributor for the "essence". The distributor pays the publisher for both as well. "Essence" and physical book are only separate when you get all the way back to the author and the printer. The author has already been paid for the "essence" from the first book purchase, so if you break into the printing factory and take a second copy and leave a fair amount for the physical book (costs + profit + compensation for any damage/disruption caused by your break-in), THEN you MIGHT have a morally supportable argument since you aren't effecting any downstream businesses who deal only with the "bundled" book (though still highly illegal of course).

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:23am

    Re:

    Well, if you think about it. The MPAA/RIAA have been drilling into our heads the idea that you don't buy a physical copy of the music but a license to listen to that music. If the purchase is, in their own words, limited to a license then the physical version means nothing and I can listen to my licensed music in whatever way I want.

     

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    Josh, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:24am

    Bulk Rates

    While buying a book from a publisher at a discount rate is laughable for an individual, I believe the larger book stores such as B&N probably get some sort of discount for buying copies of a book in bulk.

    If so then you could say the book stores do only pay for the essence of the book once and receive a discount for the rest.

     

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    abc gum, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    On a related subject

    "I'd have an obligation to buy a new copy, or borrow one legitimately, before re-reading the book. "

    There are some who would claim that the act of loaning/borrowing copyrighted material is a violation of the copyright owners rights.

     

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    Mark Twain, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

     

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    JZahorsky (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    Re:

    You make some very good counter points.

    Interesting. So let's say a celebrity - maybe Winona Ryder - is walking through a store and drops an expensive dress in her bag and walks out without paying. But Winona is going to wear that dress to the Oscars later that week, and that will undoubtedly increase the market and opportunities related to that dress. Was Winona's peccadillo therefore moral/ethical?

    I agree with your argument about overall market. In your scenario someone does get hurt economically. Just because it is worn at the Oscars, and sales on that dress improve it doesn't mean that the shopkeeper that was stolen from isn't at a loss from the theft.

    But another way to look at the whole picture is if I buy a book, and chose to scan it into digital form, or type in to a ebook form, I am free to do so (so long as I do not sell it). So by downloading the version I am just cutting out the time and labor of scanning or typing it myself. My downloading would be akin to fair use. The person offering it for download though is questionable unless they have a way to make you prove you already own the book.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    i went to a really cool concert. it was expensive more than $100 a ticket. when i got home, i wanted to hear the music again. since i already paid to here the music, there is no problem for me just down download it and keep it forever. i already paid for it in one format (live) so why shouldnt i have it in other formats (recorded)? it is the same music after all.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    If you can duplicate that car while leaving the original car there - be my guest.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Sam I Am, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Purchase another.

    When you buy a tangible car you don't purchase the intangible design and when the car dies, you can purchase another identical car if you liked it. When a book wears out and falls apart? Purchase another one. The consumer doesn't purchase publishing content either, they license it; they purchase only the format. When the format dies? Purchase another. You want it in another format? Purchase another format. This was never complicated. The self-deluding moralistic gymnastics attempting to justify taking free copies (that were intended for sale) is a sad but telling commentary on the mentality here.

     

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  39.  
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    Big_Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Over and over people are comparing a second tangible book to an electronic version. I buy a book and have the capabilities to copy it myself through a scanner. Instead of doing the work myself someone has done it for me for free. Who gets hurt?

    The laws on this are old and need to be rewritten. The problem with that is the system for that process is broken. Seems if you have the money to pay the lobbyist you can have laws that prop up your business model.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Mark Twain, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 6:41am

    Re:

    Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    RD, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    oh REALLY??

    "The consumer doesn't purchase publishing content either, they license it; they purchase only the format. "

    Oh, really? REALLY? We area purchasing a LICENSE? Since when? And by that I mean, show us ALL in the copyright code where its codified that purchasing copies (legal, real) of copyrighted material is a LICENSE AGREEMENT. Please. Show us. Because AFAIK, this DOES NOT EXIST anywhere in the copyright statute, which establishes ONLY issues relating to, you know, COPYING (illegally, infringing).

    You people (and by that I mean, industry shills/apologists) come along and just proclaim out of the blue that suddenly, all your media is licensed, without EVER informing the buying public of such an agreement. It is an agreement that Joe Consumer NEVER agreed to, is NOT represented in copyright law, OR consumer law (unless CLEARLY specified UP FRONT prior to purchase) and ONLY serves one side of the license (the rights holder) at the expense of the other (the consumer, who get ZERO rights that a license would provide).

    If you REALLY believe that this is a LICENSE issue, then Joe Consumer has EVERY RIGHT to obtain alternate format versions of media he ALREADY HAS A LICENSE TO.

    You dont get to have it both ways, EITHER he is purchasing a one-off copy and can do whatever he wants with it within copyright (and that includes making HIS OWN PERSONAL GOD DAMN COPIES IN ANY FORMAT HE WISHES),

    OR

    He has a LICENSE and he he ALREADY has the right to the underlying material, is entitled to REPLACEMENT of the media he purchased, and is not required to REPURCHASE said media in light of new technological formats that may come out in the future. None of this is enforceable of course, because A) its not legal and B) Joe Consumer never signed a license agreement (with attendant terms) to begin with.

    And NO, shrink-wrap EULA-style license "Agreements" that are not clearly stated on the package or at time of purchase, and that you can only view the terms of AFTER purchase and cracking the wrap (and subsequently cannot return once opened) does NOT constitute a legally binding license agreement. You dont get to just PROCLAIM a license agreement exists when there is ZERO knowledge on the part of Joe Consumer that he is agreeing to such a license.

     

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  42.  
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    Overcast (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    How is it even remotely an 'ethical' issue?

    You've already purchased the 'content'. What difference does the format make?

    Would it be ok to scan the book into a PDF personally? Of course, you own the book. So what would be the difference?

    The ETHICAL issue here is how a company can sell an item and then proceed to try and tell the purchaser what they can and cannot do with it.

     

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  43.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    i have a friend who does this with his CDs. if you buy the download or a physical CD, he will sell you additional CDs for less because you already bought the content.

    if you can find a bookstore that will work with you in this manner, then go for it.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re:

    Ah TAM, your reading comprehension really is suffering lately.

     

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  45.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Re: who cares?

    agreed. i get ebooks and i don't pay, ethical or not, legal or not, and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop me.

     

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  46.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    I don't think I have ever been to a concert where the live music was the same as what was released on CD. You must go to some boring ass concerts.

    Oh, and half the concerts I go to, the artists themselves on stage say its okay to download their music.
    Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails actually actively encourages it. Asks us to hit the torrents.

     

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  47.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Purchase another.

    Your outright greed and sense of entitlement for getting paid tons of times for something you did long ago is telling of your mentality there.

     

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  48.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    So he shopped around for someone "selling" the ebook of a book he owns, he found someone that did it as a hobby and has decided that everyone should benefit, and is selling it for $0. The publisher is now trying to compete with someone that did it for the enjoyment of making the scan, and not for the payout.

    So if I bought a CD, made a copy (to preserve the original) and then lost the copy at a park, must I assume that it was found and destroy my original? Why is that a mix tape in the 80's was OK to give to a friend, but when it's MP3s is an issue? Just because they are digital shouldn't make them less ethical than any other copy. Actully it should make them more ethical, as the cost of copying is far far less. Actually, you would think most bands would love some good old fashioned grass roots advertising.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Of course it does (1). Does that pose an ethical problem because they COULD have sold it at a higher price through an auction?
    Obviously not, because in that case the book store is a willing party to the transaction to sell it at a fixed price. Which is the problem with taking a book from the store and paying cost for it: The bookstore isn't a willing party to the transaction. And which is why making a personal copy isn't a problem, because the bookstore isn't a party at all.

     

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  50.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    just ship the e-book on sd card in the book? All publishing is digital now anyways, I can't imagine its all that hard to just make the current tools export to indexed/annotated PDF/e-pub/doc/etc. That would completely destroy the need for "pirating" the book in the first place. So give it away free with a hard copy purchase, or sell it for 1/3 the cost by it's self, but then i get to back it up, and it better be DRM free.

     

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  51.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    most of the publicly available is due to the commercials. Why most stations just don't allow streaming of their programs with commercials in place i have no idea. Let google foot the bandwidth. You would still have no idea if i muted them, or left the room to take a dump or whatever. Now if i lived in the UK i'd feel 0 problem with downloading anything from the BBC, and likewise anyone from the UK that decides to share it, seems like it would be fine as well, as they helped pay for that content.

     

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  52.  
    icon
    Cynyr (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re:

    Hell if i could do that, i'd just drive past the Porsche dealer and come home in a nice new one.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    BillB, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    So, did it increase your point to denigrate Winona Ryder?

    The original point is not about buying additional copies of the book at the self determined discount and reselling them. It's about reasonable personal use of a work you already bought the rights to.

    Why is it that the assumption is that if I make a copy of something, I'm going to resell it for a profit. Nobody mentioned that in the original article, but, you added it as well.

    So, if I go into Barnes and Noble and buy a copy of a book, read it and give it to someone else, am I guilty of copyright violations? What if I sell it at a consignment shop? Should the FBI arrest all of the librarians?

    Ok, how about if I buy a copy of the book, and scan it into a book reader that converts the test to speech for me to hear. Is that a violation. Should the blind start waiting for the FBI to kick down their door?

    Whats the difference if I buy a CD, and rip it to mu iTunes, or if I own the vinyl, and record it to my computer, or if I download the tracks from the internet instead of recording them from the vinyl, or ripping them from the CD? Or are the media producers concerned I might have a method to circumvent the planned obsolescence of the media I purchase. I bought a record, but records are obsolete, so I should buy the CD, but, CD's are obsolete, so I should buy the MP3...

    If I bought a single copy of some media, and use it for my personal use, why should I need to buy a copy for every format. I like the way it was, personal use is fine as long as you aren't making multiple copies for profit.

    Bill

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Purchase another.

    Onwership of materials purchased? How quaint.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re:

    other artists get upset about it. it all depends. paying for a concert ticket does not automatically mean i also own the right to all of their catalog. the ticket gave me access to their music and performance in on e situation and under one circumstance, not any lifetime license. conversely buying a cd or downloading a song doesnt give me lifetime rights for live shows either. they are the same product (music) and the same music (songs), presented in different formats. i pay for each one. amazing how that works.

     

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  56.  
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    SteelWolf (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That'd be pretty awesome, but of course everybody would start doing that. If everybody has a Porsche how will you demonstrate your elite status? Perhaps you would commission Porsche to make an entirely new design - being the first in the world with a unique Porsche design might be worth the money to you. The people driving by and copying it will all be second to you.

    It's not the copies that are valuable, but the work.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Brandon, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 10:16am

    Re: enhanced versions

    My experience with ebooks is that its unlikely the publisher even looked at the resulting book in any detail.

    I've seen a much higher incidence of errors in ebooks, and many cases where markers denoting end of chapter or some sort of change of context are completely absent, making for some pretty confusing changes of context that you don't get until halfway through the paragraph.

    But yes, real effort to format a work for a new medium is something I would pay for... but many ebooks are more expensive than the paperback I already own. I doubt the effort put in to the new format is more than the original.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Just ask Porsche to design a car with DRM, making it illegal to break the DRM and having a copy for your own personal use. Problem solved.

     

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

  59.  
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    mike allen (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    ok lets

    take the discussion a few steps further. A friend recommends a book, the book id out of print the publisher has no plans to reprint is it then ethical to download from P"P I say yes and the same foe music.

     

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  60.  
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    Sam I Am, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    Reznor, your hero.

    Not only did Reznor build his hypocritical "business model " on the backs of the industry that promoted, funded and made him a star in the first place, but he's led us back to the past, selling physical product as if this were the 1970's complete with gas burning trucks to deliver it all. Reznor isn't the future. Reznor hides from the future of eco-friendly paid digital distribution, while cashing in on the work the industry did on his behalf. Some hero.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    To cut through all the bullshit, it's your problem. They get to decide at what price to sell the book. You don't get to haggle, you only get to buy it or not. Period. Your analogies are all over the place and do not equate to digital copy.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re:

    Now you're just nitpicking. Making an argument to argue.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Reznor, your hero.

    That same industry was built on the backs of artists. What's new is old is new is old again. It's all cyclical.

     

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

  64.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It seems that you partially agreed with me there. I was pointing out that the concert and music sold on albums are not the same. Thank you for helping prove my point in that respect.
    I agree, they are the same product of music. However, I strongly disagree that they are the same music (songs). Depending on how wild and group is feeling, the music can range from similar to what is on album to wildly different.

    You are welcome to pay for each different set of songs.
    Where I fail to see any possible point you guys make is when you say we should pay multiple times for the exact same tune. Format shouldn't matter. Paid once and then all digital is ours. Just how everybody in my generation feels.

     

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  65.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    meh. ethics are for the weak.
    just steal the damn thing.

     

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  66.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Reznor, your hero.

    There is a very distinct difference here.
    Knowing Reznor's history I would say he has built his business models in Spite of the industry. He has wanted to do many promotional things throughout his career and they wanted it shot down time and again.
    I say he is flourishing despite the labels. They held him back. He would be even bigger right now if it wasn't for them.
    One small instance that happened not so long ago was the alternate reality game he was playing with Year Zero. He purposely leaked songs on thumb drives. What did the industry do? They issued DMCAs to get them removed. He had to fight them to allow them out there for free as were his own wishes. He has always hated the labels and I can definitely see why.

    You can say that he has led us back, but that merely demonstrates that you have no idea what he is selling. He gives his fans a reason to buy. I still buy his CDs. I don't really buy anyone elses anymore though. His have so many extras inside. Lyrics. Art. Heck, one of them was even a disc that would change colors when it was heated (like when you played the whole disc). They are great reasons to buy. You know what I see in other discs that are sold by the recording industry? Nothing but a tiny slip that lists the songs. Worthless reason to buy a disc.

    And he does anything but hide from digital distribution. He gives away his music for free online. I guess that only further demonstrates that you don't really know him well.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    byteme, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re:

    Sorry, "maximum sound fidelity" and "MP3" do not belong in the same sentence.

    Fail.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    "The consumer doesn't purchase publishing content either, they license it; they purchase only the format."

    Everytime TAM says something stupid like that I take a break and download something copyrighted I have not paid for. Fuck ethics, fuck the RIAA and fuck the US while you're at it.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:41pm

    "What if the MP3s you downloaded were not simply CD rips automatically encoded by software, but painstakingly re-engineered by the record company for maximum sound fidelity in the MP3 format?"

    LOL! TAM, is that you?

    "Lift off the skin of a technologically-challenged and you'll find a copyright fascist" - Vladimir Ilich Lenin

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Ben Doom (profile), Apr 29th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Think of the children!

    Downloading episodes of shows because your TiVO missed them is evil.

    Think of all the TiVO support technicians who won't be able to feed their children tonight, because you found a useful and convenient solution!

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Costs

    Your first copy should be the full cost which is value of the content PLUS creation/distribution/etc costs.

    After your first copy, you should then only need to pay a slight premium over distribution/creation/etc costs.

    Electronic books are damn near free to distribute but do have some up-front costs to scanning/etc the physical into electronic format.

    When you buy a book, you pay for the content, not the object itself eg pdf/paper/etc. The cost of the object *should* be assumed by the person who wants the contents.

    If a large 1000 page book costs ~$30 to create, distribute, etc and they charge $60 for the book, I guess they figure the content is worth $30. That $30 should be a one time payment.

    After you buy the physical book, you should be able to re-purchase another physical copy MINUS the value of the content. If you get an ebook, I guess you should be held liable for the ~$0.000001 cost to distribute/etc. MA'b they'll give you a bulk rate and buy 1,000,000 copies of the electronic version so you can just pay a penny.

    Overall, I think a person should be able to create an account with someone like Amazon and once you purchase a book, they keep track of that and let "re-purchase" additional electronic versions at HUGE discounts. Obviously they need to cover the costs of investing into different electron formats. Ma'b something like $0.50. I would think some form of DRM would be needed, but whois gonna care about DRM if it's only $0.50 to replace it.

    I could see issues with setting physical copies with heavy discounts for fraud reasons. They might need rules like you can only get a replacement copy once every 8 years OR anytime to return the old ruined copy.

    And like different electronic formats, replacing different versions, eg paper cover vs leather bound would carry a premium.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2010 @ 11:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's just not your generation that feels this way either.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 3:00am

    If all this 'horrible piracy' of TV shows had been going on back in the early days of TV, the BBC's archive of old shows wouldn't look like Swiss cheese today...

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    Re:

    Ah, the quarterly reboot of TAM Wormtongue. Every few months his brain simply atrophies due to the unstoppable march of progress away fom the 1980's, causing him to forget everything he knows until it is RE-explained to him all over again. And again. And again.

    The Wormtongue knows he is paying for the performance and not the music at a live event.

    Thusly, I bestow upon you a new moniker: Arise, Wormtongue Groundhog, long may your discs be shiny and your sales be meagre!

     

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  75.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 30th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That is good to know. Sometimes it feels that way though. Thank you for the nod.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    gridsleep, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:52pm

    Re: shoplifting v. file sharing

    Assuming that file sharing costs nothing, in that creating and selling a hard copy book costs something, is incorrect. The electronic copy takes up storage space on the server, which costs something, and the bandwidth costs something, and the electricity to run all that hardware costs something, so even a shared file has an intrinsic cost for which the sharer is not paying, beyond the cost of their internet service connection. It is, in a sense, shoplifting. It is also vouchsafing a culture that copies books and records and movies and games when they clearly have no express permission to do so, regardless of whether anyone retrieves a copy of that copy. Infinite copies break copyright. The question is, is copyright law correct in its current form with respect to new methods of distribution that have come into existence, that are far beyond what the originators of copyright law could have imagined? Does copyright law need to be changed? Does law have to respect the will of society or is society subject to the law without any approval or consideration? If enough people think that copyright law is wrong, does that make it wrong? How many is enough? People who would never think to steal, share files for which they do not have the copyright. If I am not going to ever buy a particular product, am I committing a crime against the creator by obtaining a copy for free? Must the individual accept being denied access to something unless it is on the express approval and wishes of the creator? There's the key issue. The wishes of the creator. Copyright exists to protect the wishes of the creator. (And if that's the case, Mickey Mouse should have gone into the public domain years ago.) Yet, if the creator is not going to see any revenue whether I see a copy or not, what difference does it make? Because it is a matter beyond revenue. It is a matter of ownership. Yet, as Frank Herbert put it, ownership is the ability to destroy. Since no one can destroy the internet, nor completely and utterly erase anything that has ever been put on it, the question is moot. The cat is out of the bag. I guess only hope remains in the box. The hacks say information yearns to be free. I guess they're right. The only way to completely protect copyright is never to publish. Learn to live with it. If it costs more to protect a copyright than the revenue that is saved, it's a lost cause. But, it is still up to the wishes of the creator. That should be the only criterium. It's a question of personal honesty. If one enjoys a product, even if it is available for so-called free, one should feel indebted to the creator and reward him. Publishers of any medium who think only to wring as much profit out the public by charging for every single type of copy of a particular work, had better not hold their breath. If I own an album, I'm not going to pay for it twice just to listen to it on my computer as opposed to my turntable. I imagine somewhere someone is scheming a way to make us pay for every listen or view. Good luck.

    And using Winona Ryder as an example is low. Ni culturi.

     

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


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