Would UK Politicians Support The Digital Economy Bill If It Applied To Offline Activities As Well?

from the equivalencies? dept

The entertainment industry always likes to take the digital world and compare it to the physical world as if the two were the same — often making claims like unauthorized downloading is “just like stealing a CD from a store.” However, they don’t seem to like it when you do that back to them to prove all the inconsistencies in their arguments. Lee Griffin wrote up a good blog post about the Digital Economy Bill in the UK, wondering how people would feel if the same rules were applied offline:

Would you appreciate being put under house arrest not because of any court determined guilt, but because of someone making accusations of copyright infringement against you for something that may or may not have occurred in your property at the time? Is it even remotely justified to put you under house arrest, to stop you from going to the library, to work, or to socialise with your friends because of those accusations alone?

Or how about point 4…how would you feel if the police were stopping you from accessing your local community centre because a single individual or organisation had threatened the local council in such a way that it is too much for the council to risk the financial cost of allowng it to continue functioning for the community? Imagine arriving at your local pub only to find it inaccessible to you, even though anyone that is visiting from another town can use it freely; not for anything that you or your town have necessarily done, but because of the implications made by an individual in a completely unscrutinised manner?

Finally, point 5 would be very interesting. Could you imagine the police coming and turfing you out of a building you’ve legitimately bought, and putting it back on the market without paying you a penny, simply because you knew it was in a good location and could make some money off of the future sale? Somehow I don’t think that’s all too likely!

Of course, supporters of the DEB will claim that “this is different!” but they seem to be the same people who will still insist that infringement is no different than theft. Funny how that works.

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Comments on “Would UK Politicians Support The Digital Economy Bill If It Applied To Offline Activities As Well?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: individual liberties: the only scarce good that matters...

As we all know, when you “pirate” a song the original “owner” of that file hasn’t actually lost anything. Every time our liberties are systematically whittled away, we all *actually* lose something. That *is* theft.

So it’s theft when YOUR rights are infringed but not when you infringe another person’s rights?

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: individual liberties: the only scarce good that matters...

infringement =/= removal.

removal is theft, at least in an analogical manner. once the thing, in this case a right, is removed, the origional possesor there of no longer posseses it (in the case of a right, one could make the case that it’s not theft, but willful destruction of property, because not only does the origional owner no longer have it, it no longer exists… but that’s another logical tangle we don’t need for the moment.)

infringement is not. even if you’re talking about the right, if you infringe upon it, the right itself is still there. (though due to different logic than that which leaves the copied file in the possession of the original owner)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: individual liberties: the only scarce good that matters...

even if you’re talking about the right, if you infringe upon it, the right itself is still there.

So if YOUR rights are infringed then those rights are completely annihilated, but if a copyright is infringed it remains as it was, completely unaffected?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 individual liberties: the only scarce good that matters...

My rights are self-evident. A copyright is not self-evident otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, would we?

I wasn’t aware that the constitution outlined a self-evident right to be a copyright-infringing freeloader…

Can anyone cite the appropriate passage from their United States of Unicorns constitution?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: individual liberties: the only scarce good that matters...

1. Bear in mind that these liberties are removed by *accusations* of infringement. It’s quite possible (and likely) that the liberties of innocent people will be removed. So, yes, the rights of an innocent party are more important.

2. These are 2 different types of infringement with 2 different kinds of consequences. In the first instance, the “owner” of the infringed music loses nothing. They still have the original music, which they can still sell to anybody who wants it. The only thing they’ve lost is the *potential* to sell at that instance to that person, and even that makes the massive assumptions that said person would have bought had the opportunity to infringe not existed, and will never buy in the future.

On the other hand, a person who has their internet removed may suffer actual losses, including but not limited to: their business and livelihood (if they run a home business), the ability to contact certain family & friends, financial, educational, employment & low-cost retail opportunities, their telephone & entertainment options (if they use Skype/Hulu/Netflix instead of a cable & traditional phone) and many, many other things that the internet can provide.

All on the accusation of wrongdoing. This is clearly unbalanced.

Brian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah some bullcrap about protecting citizens and whatnot, its all just a bunch of garbage. I mean I have vast amounts of money and the police should be doing everything in their power to prop up my failing business and ensure that I continue to make lots of money even at the expense of progress and freedom. 😀

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

if someone sees you stealing a cd from their store, they call the police and they deal with it. when you call the police for online theft, they do nothing. the online world cant work like the real world, so online rules dont match back to real world experiences

Right. Which is why the argument that downloading a song is anything like stealing a CD is misleading.

I’m glad you finally agree.

Of course, you also got your facts wrong (you do this a lot). Because if you actually were robbed, the police would pay attention. The problem — as has been explained to you countless times, so it’s odd that you would repeat it — is that what is happening is not theft, but civil infringement. And the cops know that, even if you seem to have trouble grasping it.

Baldrick says:

When you download a file, you only get a copy. The original file is still intact – so you haven’t “stolen” it in the same sense as stealing a CD from a store (i.e that deprives the vendor from selling it to anyone, and he loses what he paid for it). What you have done is *potentially* deprive the vendor of one sale (only to you, not to anyone else). I say potentially, because you may not actually have been willing to pay the purchase price to buy it – but because you could download it for “free”, you did. In other words you say to yourself “ah it’s not a bad song, I’ll have it if it’s free, but it’s not so good that I would pay $x for it.”
The equivalent actions in the physical “old” world (i.e pre-internet), would actually be more akin to tape recording songs off the radio, or photocopying books – for personal use (not to sell them).
Recording songs off the radio was common when I was a kid. It’s interesting that nobody ever mentioned it as a problem. The record companies allow these songs to be “broadcast” into the airwaves, and anyone can “catch them” with a radio receiver and keep a copy, if they have a recording device. The internet is really just another way to “broadcast” them – but over a different medium, copper wires and glass fibre, instead of airwaves. I guess the difference is that the radio broadcasters pay the record companies each time they broadcast the song – whereas internet folks don’t.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Radio only pays songwriters, since it is a free promotion for artists. Recording radio via cassettes is still copyright infringement, and is illegal, just like using your vcr to record tv shows.”

Not quite.

If you record off the airwaves/cable for your own personal use that may fall under fair use or fair dealing as you are not depriving the creator of a single penny in reality or potentially. Anyway, who’s to know if you just watch/listen at home or in the car?

OTOH if you record then sell your tapes then that is copyright infringement and the creator may or may not choose to recover real and potential earnings. Of course not all do. See Grateful Dead and/or bootleg concerts.

Which reminds me that what we now call piracy was once called bootlegging.

Notice that while copyright holders have insisted that copyright violation is theft for a long time when it’s actually a civil issue the names given to violators, often by those wanting to paint them as criminal, seem to follow a pattern of while being criminal are also covered in a romantic aura. Pirate and Bootlegger. Both, in fiction, often battling against unreasonable or oppressive authority.

Seems like the **AA’s just can’t get out of the fictional world of scripts that they live in or songs describing such things where pirates, bootleggers, smugglers and even highwaymen often are the heros and liberators.

These people prefer the fictional world of the Errol Flynns and Johnny Depps to the real one. Is it any wonder they can’t figure out how to operate when the real world and the on line world are stopping being separate things and becoming one and the same.

This is roughly the same as the fictional world the **AAs inhabit where artists are actually paid by them instead of being constantly ripped off and not paid by virtue of creative “accounting”.

Baldrick says:

Another difference is that when a song is broadcast over radio, it is transient. It can only be copied while it is being played by the broadcaster. On the Internet it is “hosted” so it is there to be copied anytime (“on demand”).

Another reason that downloading only “potentially” deprives the vendor from selling it to you – is that you could still buy it at a later time, if you choose to.

Mr Big Content says:

Quantum Copying

What people don’t realize is that even digital bits cannot be perfectly copied without degradation. What happens is that the original and the copy become quantumly entangled in a quantumical “superposition of states”. This means that, if a bit in one copy flips one way, a bit in another copy will flip another way. But of course quantumism doesn’t distinguish between the “original” and the “copy”, so the owner of the original can end up with the wrong copy—the one who made the copy has, in effect, quantumishly stolen the correct value of that bit from the owner.

The more copies there are floating around, the worse this effect gets. Eventually all the data degenerates into a totally quantumized haze of quantumational noise.

So you see, piracy is worse than just ripping off some content creator or other; it actually destroys the quantumic order of the Universe.

Andy (profile) says:

Point 5

“Finally, point 5 would be very interesting. Could you imagine the police coming and turfing you out of a building you’ve legitimately bought, and putting it back on the market without paying you a penny, simply because you knew it was in a good location and could make some money off of the future sale? Somehow I don’t think that’s all too likely!”

This point starts to sound similar to the worrying trend over “Eminent Domain” in numerous US cities. OK, perhaps it is not a case of not “paying you a penny”, but the rest definitely applies.

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