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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the piracy-returns-to-the-spotlight dept

It’s a rare thing these past few months, but this week’s most outrage-inducing piece of government behaviour came not at the hands of surveillance and the NSA but rather those of copyright and our old friend ICE. When federal agents helped the MPAA interrogate a moviegoer for wearing Google Glass (switched off) in the theatre, sophisticatedjanedoe won most insightful comment of the week by summing up how utterly ridiculous this kind of public-private synergy is:

So, a private business solves ITS problems using MY taxpayer money. Who is the thief, MPAA?

When ICE attempted to defend its efforts on Twitter, it sparked up a lengthy discussion in the comments not just about the current laws, but about the very moral underpinnings of copyright and whether its existence is justified. One commenter criticized many Techdirt readers for being “anti-copyright”, and Rikuo won second most insightful with a simple response to that observation:

Might I also ask what is wrong with being anti-copyright in the first place? It’s simply a position on a law. I live in a country where abortion is illegal for example, but my position is it should be legal. Am I not allowed say it should be, am I not allowed talk about it or campaign to change the law?

Much pro-copyright rhetoric is based around the unsupported assumption that giving creators more control is not only beneficial but morally and ethically right. But that position doesn’t bear much scrutiny, as Karl illustrates by responding to one such assertion in our first editor’s choice for insightful:

Umm, this is going to be unpopular, but piracy is in part a moral issue. Generally speaking, when you can’t afford something, the moral thing to do is to go without it, not seek out illicit means of obtaining it.

This is absolutely not true with cultural works. Generally speaking, when the public can’t afford works, the moral thing to do is to create free access to those works.

It is why public libraries are an ethical good. It is why copyright exceptions for public schools are an ethical good. It is why it is an ethical good to create public performance exceptions for churches and non-profits.

It is such an ethical good, in fact, that early copyright laws explicitly stated that publishers had to produce editions that would be affordable by the general public. If they didn’t do this, they lost their copyrights.

The question you should ask yourself is not whether it is unethical for the pubic to “take” cultural works. The question you should ask is why it is in any way ethical to stop them.

And it is not ethical. It may be a necessary evil, but it is an evil nonetheless.

And while I usually try not to give both editor’s choices to the same commenter, this week Karl has another comment that needs to be highlighted. It’s not the first time, and unfortunately probably not the last, that he found himself demonstrating in great detail that, according to the constitution, the statute and the courts, copyright is about benefitting the public:

I ?disagree ?with ?your ?interpretation ?of ?the ?case ?law.

You ?may, ?but ?judges ?and ?copyright ?lawyers ?do ?not.

Copyright’s ?function/effect ?today ?is ?to ?provide ?a ?limited ?monopoly ?of ?use ?by ?the ?copyright ?holder.

That ?is ?copyright’s ? effect. ?It ?is ?by ?no ?means ?copyrights ? purpose. ?Providing ?a ?limited ?monopoly ?to ?copyright ?holders ?has ?never ?been ?more ?than ?a ?means ?to ?achieve ?an ?end, ?and ?that ?end ?has ?always ?been ?to ?provide ?the ?general ?public ?with ?access ?to, ?and ?ultimately ?control ?over, ?works ?of ?authorship.

The ?full ?passage ?is ?necessary ?to ?provide ?context:

Except ?that ?you ?are ?emphasizing ?the ?parts ?of ?the ?passage ?that ?are ?incidental. ?Nobody ?(except ?OOTB) ?is ?arguing ?that ?copyright ?is ?not ?a ?statutory ?monopoly. ?Nobody ?is ?arguing ?that ?the ? method ?of ?copyright ?is ?to ?reward ?and ?encourage ?crreative ?work. ?Nobody ?is ?arguing ?that ?copyright ?is ?not ?”a ?balance ?of ?competing ?claims ? upon ?the ?public ?interest.”

And ?absolutely ?none ?of ?this ?supports ?your ?claim ?that ?copyright’s ?purpose ?is ?”to ?maximize ?the ?commercial ?exploitation ?of ?the ?work ?by ?the ?right ?holder.”

But, ?if ?you’re ?still ?doubtful, ?here ?are ?a ?few ?more ?quotes.

It ?will ?be ?seen, ?therefore, ?that ?the ?spirit ?of ?any ?act ?which ?Congress ?is ?authorized ?to ?pass ? must ?be ?one ?which ?will ?promote ?the ?progress ?of ?science ?and ?the ?useful ?arts, ?and ?unless ?it ?is ?designed ?to ?accomplish ?this ?result ?and ?is ?believed, ?in ?fact, ?to ?accomplish ?this ?result, ?it ?would ?be ?beyond ?the ?power ?of ?Congress.

The ?enactment ?of ?copyright ?legislation ?by ?Congress ?under ?the ?terms ?of ?the ?Constitution ? is ?not ?based ?upon ?any ?natural ?right ?that ?the ?author ?has ?in ?his ?writings, ?for ?the ?Supreme ?Court ?has ?held ?that ?such ?rights ?as ?he ?has ?are ?purely ?statutory ?rights, ?but ?upon ?the ?ground ?that ? the ?welfare ?of ?the ?public ?will ?be ?served ?and ?progress ?of ?science ?and ?useful ?arts ?will ?[be] ?promoted ?by ?securing ?to ?authors ?for ?limited ?periods ?the ?exclusive ?rights ?to ?their ?writings. ?The ?Constitution ?does ?not ?establish ?copyrights, ?but ?provides ?that ?Congress ?shall ?have ?the ?power ?to ?grant ?such ?rights ?if ?it ?thinks ?best. ? Not ?primarily ?for ?the ?benefit ?of ?the ?author, ?but ?primarily ?for ?the ?benefit ?of ?the ?public, ?such ?rights ?are ?given. ?Not ?that ?any ?particular ?class ?of ?citizens, ?however ?worthy, ?may ?benefit, ?but ?because ?the ?policy ? is ?believed ?to ?be ?for ?the ?benefit ?of ?the ?great ?body ?of ?people, ?in ?that ?it ?will ?stimulate ?writing ?and ?invention, ?to ?give ?some ?bonus ?to ?authors ?and ?inventors.

In ?enacting ?a ?copyright ?law ?Congress ?must ?consider, ?as ?has ?been ?already ?stated, ?two ?questions: ?First, ?how ?much ?will ?the ?legislation ?stimulate ?the ?producer ? and ?so ?benefit ?the ?public; ?and, ?second, ?how ?much ?will ?the ?monopoly ?granted ?be ? detrimental ?to ?the ?public. ?The ?granting ?of ?such ?exclusive ?rights, ?under ?the ?proper ?terms ?and ?conditions, ? confers ?a ?benefit ?upon ?the ?public ?that ?outweighs ?the ?evils ?of ?the ?temporary ?monopoly.

– ?House ?Report ?on ?the ?Copyright ?Act ?of ?1909

The ?economic ?philosophy ?behind ?the ?clause ?empowering ?Congress ?to ?grant ?patents ?and ?copyrights ?is ?the ?conviction ?that ?encouragement ?of ?individual ?effort ?by ?personal ?gain ? is ?the ?best ?way ?to ?advance ?public ?welfare ?through ?the ?talents ?of ?authors ?and ?inventors ?in ?”Science ?and ?useful ?Arts.”

– ?Mazer ?v. ?Stein

The ?sole ?interest ?of ?the ?United ?States ?and ?the ?primary ?object ?in ?conferring ?the ?monopoly ?lie ?in ? the ?general ?benefits ?derived ?by ?the ?public ?from ?the ?labors ?of ?authors.

– ?Fox ?Film ?Corp. ?v. ?Doyal

The ?copyright ?law, ?like ?the ?patent ?statutes, ? makes ?reward ?to ?the ?owner ?a ?secondary ?consideration.

– ?U.S. ?v. ?Paramount

The ?monopoly ?privileges ?that ?Congress ?may ?authorize ?are ?neither ?unlimited ? nor ?primarily ?designed ?to ?provide ?a ?special ?private ?benefit. ?Rather, ?the ?limited ?grant ? is ?a ?means ?by ?which ?an ?important ?public ?purpose ?may ?be ?achieved. ?It ?is ?intended ?to ?motivate ?the ?creative ?activity ?of ?authors ?and ?inventors ?by ?the ?provision ?of ?a ?special ?reward, ? and ?to ?allow ?the ?public ?access ?to ?the ?products ?of ?their ?genius ?after ?the ?limited ?period ?of ?exclusive ?control ?has ?expired. ?[…]

As ?the ?text ?of ?the ?Constitution ?makes ?plain, ?it ?is ?Congress ?that ?has ?been ?assigned ?the ?task ?of ?defining ?the ?scope ?of ?the ?limited ?monopoly ?that ?should ?be ?granted ?to ?authors ?or ?to ?inventors ?in ?order ?to ?give ?the ?public ?appropriate ?access ?to ?their ?work ?product.

– ?Sony ?Corp. ?v. ?Universal ?City ?Studios

Not ?a ?one ?of ?these ?quotes ?is ?from ?the ?1700’s, ?or ?even ?from ?the ?1800’s. ?They ?are ?all ?contemporary ?descriptions ?of ?the ?purpose ?of ?copyright ?law. ?And ?every ?single ?one ?of ?them ?disagrees ?with ?you.

Over on the funny side, we’re sticking to the story about ICE for one more comment. First place goes to Baron von Robber for a response to that weird thing that lives in the comments:

When you sit at the computer, your mind becomes more active.

When your mind is more active, your OCP becomes worse.

When your OCP becomes worse, you wear out the light switches in your house.

When you wear out the light switches in your house, your OCP makes your mind even more irrational.

When your mind becomes more irrational, you start to become obsessed with people named Mike.

When you become obessed with people named Mike, you post under the name Out_of_the_Blue.

Don’t post under the name Out_of_the_Blue.

For second place on the funny side, we return to the ongoing tales of the NSA where, among other developments, the monospace font of a redacted document allowed us to deduce the name “AT&T” where we saw only a black bar. An anonymous commenter made a suitable observation:

And they say metadata doesn’t tell you much.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we visit this week’s Candy Crush Saga Trademark Saga, which inspired another anonymous commenter to begin designing his own game:

I am now working on a new game, it’s called “Memory of the Edge Candy Apple Scrolls Saga”.

It’s about a world where Candy, Apples, Scrolls, Edges, Memory, and Saga’s have all disappeared, thanks to the six evil trolls who dress like a patent lawyer, and sleep on big piles of money under bridges.

Oh and thanks to the evil troll of memory, no one can remember anything, because otherwise they’d have to pay the evil troll of memory royalties they can’t afford. And the only food available is Candy and Apple’s, but hardly anyone can afford to eat them, because they’d owe the evil trolls of Candy and Apple’s big royalties if they did eat.

In order to get to the evil trolls dressed like patent lawyers you need to somehow make lots of money to pay the the many tolls set up by the evil trolls.

Eventually you’ll come to one of the evil trolls. But no matter how hard you try to kill one of the evil troll’s dressed like a patent lawyer, the troll will summon the evil judge! The evil judge will rule that you have to pay the evil troll all of your money for infringing on the troll’s monopolies, and will steal all of your weapons and armor and give them to the evil troll to help pay your debts.

And, finally, we’ve got the revelation that the FISA court waited until after the Snowden leaks to investigate the legality of bulk phone record collection, which put ChurchHatesTucker in mind of a famous thought experiment that effectively describes their approach:

Schrödinger’s Constitutionality
It’s neither legal nor illegal until it is examined. Clearly.

That’s all for this week, folks!


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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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59 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

Pirate Fanboy Kids! The game from Moral Software House.

In this text-based adventure, you play mild-mannered ordinary person against hordes of Piratey Fanboy Kids, trying to talk them out of stealing the game’s MacGuffin: copyrighted content. Your only weapons are appeal to common law and common sense; you can’t use the vile, crude, and childish tactics of Piratey Fanboy Kids that they toss at you non-stop! It’s a nearly impossible and totally thankless task, but no less than civilization is at stake!

Your task is made much worse because Big Content is the real evil in the game and poisons its products with CRAP so that after Piratey Fanboy Kids do succeed in stealing content, they turn into addicted Mindless Crap Zombies! Your only hope is that after absorbing a little of Big Content’s CRAP the Mindless Crap Zombies turn into harmless Yapping Ankle-biter Stoopies! Easily distracted by tossing out Gwizzes so that they then only whiz on you. — It’s slow-paced tedium yet filled with so many HOOTS that you’ll ROFL-copter!

When at long last you’ve built an arsenal of taglines against those many minor dangers, you’ll be ready for the most minor danger in upcoming sequel: MIKE Is Klepto-Economist. That game is a chase in which you first try to find the true position of ultra-slippery MIKE and then pin him down long enough to look at, because once MIKE is seen in good light, he discredits himself.


Keep perspective, kids: Megaupload is not the leading edge of new content delivery modes, it’s just trailing edge of theft from the old producers who are well justified in stomping out piracy. (181 of 191)

08:04:43[j-17-7]

[Can any of you even think cogently enough to put Piratey position into a few words? You should by now have pithy self-evident assertions that you stick by to promote your cause. — But I suspect you never will because actually thinking how to justify piracy inevitably creates conflicts.]

MrWilson says:

Re: Pirate Fanboy Kids! The game from Moral Software House.

The devious secret of the game is that you can’t win because you can’t stop people from stealing something that can’t be stolen. It’s like War Games. The only way to win is not to play.

But this does reveal more about your lone hero complex. You seem to actually believe that you’re fighting some kind of horde of immoral people and, by extension, you seem to think that you can actually have an effect on their behavior by ranting incoherently and insulting everyone you interact with. The fact that you have this falsely dichotomous perspective on issues of copyright in which copyright maximalism is always right and anything else is evil is a self-reinforcing perspective. If you can’t see shades of gray, no one will ever take you seriously.

This is shown even further in your request for a succinct “Piratey” position statement. First of all, no one who you oppose will have the exact same opinions on copyright that any other people have. It’s like how there are anti-abortion democrats and pro-choice republicans and anti-corporate republicans and homophobic democrats. Secondly, if you think any position could be able to be reduced down to a pithy phrase and still convey the wide range of thoughts on the topic at hand, you really need to get a college education, or go back if you ever attended.

Of course understanding the nuances of anyone else’s opinions would require a lot of reading and listening rather than ignorance and ranting. I could see why you just want the tl;dr version.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pirate Fanboy Kids! The game from Moral Software House.

Can you even think cogently enough to put your copyright maximalist position into a few words? You should by now have pithy self-evident assertions that you stick by to promote your cause, but I suspect you never will because actually thinking how to justify forever-minus-one-day copyright inevitably creates conflicts.

Fixed that for ya.

Also, do you even read any of the rebuttals? Or does it get in the way of being Commander Contrarian?

Anonymous Coward says:

‘The question you should ask yourself is not whether it is unethical for the pubic to “take” cultural works. The question you should ask is why it is in any way ethical to stop them.’

or perhaps it should be ‘why is it that only a few can afford to get the works anyway, considering that early copyright laws explicitly stated that publishers had to produce editions that would be affordable by the general public. If they didn’t do this, they lost their copyrights.’

the last bit is a definite as far as i am concerned! it has only changed because more companies became involved and they all demanded to make a good enough profit to make it worth their while taking on looking after the work in the first place!

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s simple.

The copyright maximalist lobby used the same tactics the anti-gun lobby is using today: take tiny steps that don’t seem to advance your cause much, but in total get you to your goal so slowly no one notices.

And it works. Just look at the copyright MAFIAA, who have managed to completely reverse the purpose of copyright law, to the extent their own victims will defend them!

Anonymous Coward says:

considering all of what is written above about the purpose of copyright etc etc etc, what reasons did Congress use to get away with making copyright the most ridiculous lengths they are now and how in hell did Congress actually get away with doing it?
please tell me how any copyright is of benefit to the public when it is almost 2 lifetimes before it gets into the hands of the public? making it completely outside of the scope of some people who will have been dead for at least one lifetime before the work becomes publicly available, benefits them exactly how?

Congress, in doing whatever it can for certain rich and powerful friends has shit totally on the public and removed the very purpose of copyright completely. they should be ashamed and made to rectify the wrong that they have caused!!

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And corporations have no natural expiration like people do, so now you see the reason why corporate lobbyists fight for continued copyright extensions and revoking copyright termination rights of the actual creators. If corporations can continue to game the system and change the rules to keep everyone else below them on the pile, they can live forever and at least nominally own large chunks of culture.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

Corrected to make your analogy actually apply to the situation being discussed:

“Yes, how dare a bank call the anti-customer banking association who in turn calls government agents whose department should have nothing to do with banking matters and have them interrupt a legitimate customer’s banking experience (as well as the experience of other customers in the bank) and detain him for four hours (while wasting taxpayer money), all because a nosy bank teller thought the customer was carrying a new-fangled bag which might be used to store cash in the event the customer wanted to try to rob the bank, even though it would be completely useless to do so since the bank only deals in virtual currency can can’t actually be stolen.”

Not to mention that gun-toting bank robbers pose a threat to the safety of people in the community and also to taxpayer money in the form of FDIC payouts, so its fine to put taxpayer money towards that.

How many people have died from copyright infringement?

I’ll just go ahead and say none, unless you can provide an example.

How much taxpayer money has been wasted trying to enforce unenforceable and anti-consumer (i.e. anti-citizen) laws which were purchased by corporate lobbyists and passed against the interests of the people for whom the government supposedly works?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I was referring to the “victims” of copyright infringement, i.e. the poor, beleaguered multi-billion dollar corporations, as well as members of the public who are not a party to a specific act of copyright infringement by the so-called “pirates” that the copyright maximalists want to vilify.

Innocent bystanders and bank personnel have died in the course of bank robberies. Nothing like that happens to members of the public or employees of the copyright-holding corporations when someone violates a copyright.

Although it’s important to note that Aaron Schwartz’s predicament was the direct result of malicious persecution by the DOJ and I don’t think he was actually charged with copyright infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Amazing how much argument spawned from the simple disagreement as to whether copyright infringement had a moral component or not. Since I stop following the replies because I was busy and most of them were strawmen arguments, I guess I’ll reply here.

Might I also ask what is wrong with being anti-copyright in the first place? It’s simply a position on a law. I live in a country where abortion is illegal for example, but my position is it should be legal. Am I not allowed say it should be, am I not allowed talk about it or campaign to change the law?

You’re attacking a strawman. At no point did I say there was anything wrong with being anti-copyright, or that you or others should not be allowed to campaign against it. All I did was preface my comment with the expectation that it would be unpopular here. You and others took offense to that expectation, so I elaborated on my reasoning as to why I expected it to be unpopular. Part of that reasoning being that many people here were anti-copyright or copyright minimalists, so I could expect them to disagree with my position for a variety of possible reasons. To use an analogy since you seem to have missed the point before, this is the same sort of expectation that one would receive an unfavorable response from publicly agreeing with part of a Republican talking point on a Democratic website.

Given the massive negative response both my expectation, and my position itself received, with even Leigh characterizing my simple statement of fact as “criticism”, I would say that my expectation that I was stating an unpopular opinion has proven fully justified.

Your argument is a very nice one, but it’s directed entirely at an argument no one made in the first place.

This is absolutely not true with cultural works. Generally speaking, when the public can’t afford works, the moral thing to do is to create free access to those works.

It is why public libraries are an ethical good. It is why copyright exceptions for public schools are an ethical good. It is why it is an ethical good to create public performance exceptions for churches and non-profits.

It is such an ethical good, in fact, that early copyright laws explicitly stated that publishers had to produce editions that would be affordable by the general public. If they didn’t do this, they lost their copyrights.

The question you should ask yourself is not whether it is unethical for the pubic to “take” cultural works. The question you should ask is why it is in any way ethical to stop them.

And it is not ethical. It may be a necessary evil, but it is an evil nonetheless.

The problem with your line of logic at the end is that it then not only becomes immoral to stop people from walking into a movie theater without paying, or walking into a book store and taking whatever they want, but it becomes immoral to even be charging for those things in the first place.

By saying ‘It’s unethical to stop people from taking cultural works’ you’re essentially saying that it’s immoral for people who make art, movies, books, and videogames to charge for their work, or profit in any other way than voluntary donations. Well, donations and merchandising that doesn’t consist of the work itself. I would assume that isn’t your intent.

Beyond that, the thing about libraries is that they illustration part of the reason why it’s immoral to obtain cultural works illicitly. For those that can’t afford a cultural work, there’s general a cheap or free means of obtaining it if they’re simply patient. It being morally right to create avenues of free access does not make it moral to use illicit avenues simply because someone is impatient. If free avenues are inadequate, that doesn’t mean that illicit avenues are suddenly moral, it just means that you have a different problem that needs addressing.

To use the Oatmeal Game of Thrones example, the problem is that digital options for watching Game of Thrones is insufficient, and piracy much easier. That doesn’t change the fact that the guy is listening to his shoulder devil, and is simply too impatient to wait for legal options.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Way to miss the point. There have been several examples of how “works for sale” were denied from customers that wanted to obtain it legally.

As an example, Rune Factory 4 was denied an EU release. The only way for European players is to import a US Nintendo 3DS since the console is region-locked in addition to the legitimate game.

You can argue this doesn’t make the piracy “moral”, but what you’re arguing for is making fucking over the customer not only moral, but a defensible practice that should be the norm.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He made no point to miss. A random comment about telling people fuck you makes no coherent argument on the subject. Rather than guess extensively as to what point and argument he was attempting to make, I responded the way I did.

As to your actual arguments, I do not think the creators of works have a moral obligation to release it as widely as possible. They can choose what markets to enter, and what not to enter. That’s kind of part of capitalism.

Needing to import as US 3DS to play Rune Factory 4 is just an example of the legal option being more expensive and inconvenient. The only objectionable thing is the region locking.

More generally speaking, this goes back to the problem with claiming people have a moral right to cultural works. The more I think about it, the more dubious it sounds. It’s basically saying people have a right to view/read/own all “cultural works”, for free, the instant they’re created, and the creator themself has no rights to the work simply because it’s a “cultural work”. This is a rather communist leaning idea, and the sort of reasoning that can be used to justify confiscating painting from an artist for “the people” just as easily as it can be used to justify piracy.

It’s also pretty close to putting free instant access to “cultural works” on the same level of moral right as things like: clean water, adequate food, adequate medical treatment, shelter, clothing, and education. Which is a rather dubious equation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s basically saying people have a right to view/read/own all “cultural works”, for free

Keep moving the goalposts. The point being made is that if people can’t pay you for your works, subsequently whining about why you’re not getting paid as a result is stupidity. You refuse to sell things to others, then use the lack of getting paid for it to demand laws and statutes that further limit what people can do – why should this be considered moral behavior? Are you advocating gouging people with exorbitant prices, with the only reason being you live in a different country? That’s a “fuck you, that’s why” right there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Short of genuine censorship, there’s almost always a legal option. It may not be cost effective, or convenient, or in the format you desire, but it’ll likely be there.

Even if there isn’t a legal option for reasons unrelated to censorship, or the legal option isn’t cost effective, convenient, or is the desired format, that does not suddenly make make piracy moral. All it does is make the piracy easily understandable.

In such circumstances, the moral thing to do is still to go without.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What happens when people do without? Content owners don’t get paid. Distributors and publishers reinforce their preconceived notions that due to a lack of sales, so-and-so product isn’t popular and therefore must be discontinued or never introduced in certain markets.

So the consumers going legal, without a product, effectively indicate that their markets are a dead end. They don’t have the product and they can’t talk positively about it, sealing their own fates; no content owner will ever consider marketing their product where people can’t buy the damn thing. And this is supposed to be your desired outcome?

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s actually a really good point. A complete lack of feedback will just cause someone to abandon something. Piracy is at least feedback, indicating that there’s an interest in something that’s waiting to be harnessed in other ways.

That doesn’t address the morality argument though, but that’s honestly a really bad argument to try to press no matter which side you’re on. The question of morality and copyright infringement is a thoroughly grey area, and to declare one side of it to be wholly right or wrong does nothing but expose your bigotry. Some of the more noteworthy thoughts I’ve seen about it are…

“Peer-to-peer file sharing and Terror? Terror? Do they not have dictionaries there? There’s another T word you cocks might like, too. ? give it a try: it’s called ‘Tenuous.’ The only people terrorized by peer-to-peer file sharing are vastly potent multinational businesses, gripped by the realization that they sell carriages in a world of bullet trains.”
“It is not a mischaracterization to say that conversations with the hardcore PC community about software theft follow these tenets:
– There is no piracy.
– To the extent that piracy exists, which it doesn’t, it’s your fault.
– If you try to protect your game, we’ll steal it as a matter of principle.
It’s like, who wouldn’t want to bend over backward in their service?”
– Jerry Holkins

“Piracy is not raiding and plundering Best Buys and FYEs, smashing the windows and running out with the loot. It?s like being placed in a store full of every DVD in existence. There are no employees, no security guards, and when you take a copy of movie, another one materializes in its place, so you?re not actually taking anything. If you were in such a store, you?d only have your base moral convictions to keep you from cloning every movie in sight. And anyone who knows how to get to this store isn?t going to let their conscience stop them, especially when there is no tangible ‘loss’ to even feel bad about.”
– Paul Tassi

“No matter how you cut it, The Pirate Bay is ultimately just a collection of thieves. However, its chief rival is the RIAA: An even larger and more vicious collection of thieves. Which makes TPB the lesser of two evils – kind of like Robin Hood. Except instead of money, they’re giving pornography and pirated episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice to the poor.”
– Cracked.com

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Note that Paul Tassi acknowledges that piracy requires ignoring your conscience, and whatever author at Cracked wrote that also acknowledge piracy as evil, they just consider the RIAA like to be more evil, and therefore two wrongs make a right. Both of which agree with my base point, namely that piracy is immoral. Though what people have largely ignored in their furor, is that I’ve suggested it’s really far down on the list of immoral things.

Anyways, here, I’ll add another noteworthy thought:

“I?m happy that my work is read by fans in abroad, but I feel bad that most people read manga and watch anime by illegal route. Of course there are fans who buy and read manga and I appreciate them. The problem is many people do not think that reading and watching them by unauthorized way is illegal and wrong thing.”

– a recent tweet from Hiro Mashima, as translated by one of his Japanese fans on Tumblr

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

That’s another good quote. It’s pretty obvious where you stand, given the parts of my quotes you choose to emphasize the most, and I suppose it’s pretty obvious where I stand too.

It’s a good thing piracy is really far down on your list of immoral things though, since my point is that we aren’t going to get anywhere by arguing the morality of it all. By the time you’ve started arguing on that level, you’ve just descended into petty fanwank and strayed away from the philosophy of what makes a good business model or not, which is the sort of thing we should be discussing instead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What happens when people do without? Content owners don’t get paid.

There is another effect – people do not acquire the habit or lose the habit of consumption.

I used to buy Music CDs. Even developed a taste for 1 artist until the day I bought the latest CD that had 1 new song and the rest were “remixes”. After that my CD buying dropped off and in 2 years I stopped buying CDs. My habit became listening to what I had and now even they are skipped – I listen to podcasts.

TV consumption by an associate. Paying $100+ a month for cable TV. “Had to have” to watch The Daily Show. Saw that Hulu had TDS, dropped cable. Later determined the Hulu interface “sucked” and now that “had to have” show is never watched.

As I run FreeBSD I never acquired the habit of watching YouTube so when I see a YouTube video of someone reading a web site link the extra effort to obtain that “valuable” “information” stands out in my mind along with the comment section of YouTube and I note how little value YouTube seems to have and ask why I would want that content method in my life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When people pirate, content owners don’t get paid either. Which can reinforce the preconceived notion of distributors and publishers that no one in the market is willing to pay for their product, and therefore discontinue it, or never introduce it into certain markets.

Consumers going legal, without a product, is non-data. It could be an untapped market, or a dead end, and it’s up to the owner to investigate that. Piracy can reveal an untapped market, it can also easily take over a market discouraging legal options from attempting the market themselves.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

When people pirate, content owners don’t get paid either.

Not so much actually, in fact pretty much every study that isn’t funded by the legacy industries tends to find that those who pirate also tend to buy more, not less as you might otherwise expect.

Look at is this way, the difference between piracy and ‘doing without’, as far as money going to the owner is basically ‘Not buying the product now‘, and ‘Not buying the product ever‘.

Pirating something doesn’t always mean there won’t be a sale, the person might not have enough money to buy it normally, in which case a sale was never going to happen, or they might be trying it out to see if they find it good enough, in which case if it meets expectations they could very well buy it down the line, but ‘doing without’ is always going to be a lost sale, as it completely removes even the possibility that a person might buy the product in question at some point.

Consumers going legal, without a product, is non-data. It could be an untapped market, or a dead end, and it’s up to the owner to investigate that.

And how is the owner supposed to tell the difference without risking money to introduce the product to test it out? If a product is not available in an area, how do they tell the difference between ‘no one is buying it because it’s not currently available’ vs. ‘no one is buying it because the product is crap’?

Piracy can reveal an untapped market, it can also easily take over a market discouraging legal options from attempting the market themselves.

Evidence suggests otherwise, showing that if legal, useable, and not bogged down with a ton of strings-services are available, people will almost always choose that option over piracy.

Probably the best example of this is Netflix. Films and shows are available via piracy both before and after Netflix enters an area, and yet once Netflix is made available, piracy rates plummet, showing that people are willing to pay, if the service is made available.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“You’re attacking a strawman. At no point did I say there was anything wrong with being anti-copyright”

You really believe that I was attacking a strawman? If you go back to that article, and look for the 12:36pm comment, you’ll find this
“As such one can expect that suggesting to such people that yes it is wrong, they are listening to their shoulder devil when they do so,”
That is you implying very strongly that those of us who are anti-copyright are only doing so because of a selfish reason. Hence that any views held by anyone that trend towards anti-copyright are wrong in and of themselves, because such views can only ever be held by someone who is greedy and selfish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In other words you invent an argument in your head. You thought I was “implying” something and you argued against that assumed implication instead of against what I actually said.

And nice cherry picking. Here’s the full statement you’re quoting.

“Because a large number of people here do indeed seem to see nothing wrong with piracy. Case in point, Rikuo above declares in his response that he sees nothing wrong with downloading a movie. As such one can expect that suggesting to such people that yes it is wrong, they are listening to their shoulder devil when they do so, will not be favorably received.”

Note that “such people” refers not to anti-copyright people in general, or copy-right minimalists in general, but to ‘people who see nothing wrong with piracy’.

You were the first one to connect that pro-piracy opinion to people who where “anti-copyright” in your response.

More generally, here, in summary, is what I argued: ‘Piracy is immoral, an opinion I expect to be unpopular on this site as it’s heavily populated by people who are anti-copyright, or copyright minimalists, who can be expected to disagree for a variety of reasons’.

Here is what you argued against: “Being anti-copyright is immoral, and such people should not be allowed to have that opinion.”

The two arguments do not overlap.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

AC, I just wanted to commend you for making rational, well-thought out arguments and presenting them in a noninflammatory way. That’s the way actual debate is done, and I have learned from your comments.

I wish that more of the people who take the “opposing” view did it like this. Thank you.

In Rikuo’s defense, he’s actually arguing against the usual tripe we hear from “opponents”: that we’re all pirates and the only reason anyone would be critical of copyright law is because we just want to steal stuff. That’s not the argument you were making, but when someone gets punched often enough, he starts to flinch at any sudden movement whether a punch was coming or not. It’s wrong, but understandable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Piracy is immoral

Immoral?

An artificial construct by the state, when violated, is immoral?

From the old, root idea of taking things on the open seas by force….sometimes sponsored by Governments and supported such that the best Pirates got awards by the head of State.

Funny kind of morality. Care to show the Holy Books and religion that backs up that morality idea?

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ll just reply to my part of the post.

The problem with your line of logic at the end is that it then not only becomes immoral to stop people from walking into a movie theater without paying, or walking into a book store and taking whatever they want

That is a false equivalence. There is nothing immoral about selling a ticket to a specific seat in a theater, or with selling a specific copy of a book. Nor do you need copyright to do either of those things.

Instead, you are claiming that it is immoral to read a different copy of a book, or to watch the same movie in a different theater. You are saying that the “original” bookstore has the moral right to prevent other bookstores from giving away that book, that the “original” theater has the moral right to prevent other theaters from having free screenings of the same movie. And you are saying that everyone who partronizes the other bookstores or theaters is morally no better than a thief.

In my opinion, that is an untenable moral position.

By saying ‘It’s unethical to stop people from taking cultural works’ you’re essentially saying that it’s immoral for people who make art, movies, books, and videogames to charge for their work, or profit in any other way than voluntary donations.

Far from it. Selling copies of artworks is not immoral. Just as there is nothing immoral about selling public domain works either.

What is not moral is preventing others from providing the public with those same artworks. This is, literally, the only thing that copyright does.

Nor is there anything wrong with the people who make art (&etc.) to charge for their work. And you certainly do not need copyright for this; it’s the way most workers make a living. Most workers, however, do not hold any kind of right in what they produce after their labor is sold (e.g. assembly-line workers don’t get royalties on every car sold). So you are arguing that the people who make art have moral rights that nobody else has.

Beyond that, the thing about libraries is that they illustration part of the reason why it’s immoral to obtain cultural works illicitly. For those that can’t afford a cultural work, there’s general a cheap or free means of obtaining it if they’re simply patient. It being morally right to create avenues of free access does not make it moral to use illicit avenues simply because someone is impatient.

First: Public libraries can (and do) get books at exactly the moment that they are available to the general public. “Patience” has nothing to do with it. I have no idea where you’re getting that idea.

Second: If an act is moral, it doesn’t suddenly become immoral because it’s illegal, nor does it become an immoral act because people do it for the “wrong” reasons. If libraries became illegal tomorrow, it would not become immoral to run a public library. Public libraries would not be immoral, even if people only checked out books because they were too impatient to wait for those books to show up in second-hand stores.

To use the Oatmeal Game of Thrones example, the problem is that digital options for watching Game of Thrones is insufficient, and piracy much easier.

Not “insufficient,” but “nonexistent.” The choice was between watching a pirated copy of Game of Thrones, or not watching it at all.

And here is the thing: both options affect HBO exactly the same. From the point of view of HBO, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever between someone watching a pirated copy, and that same person simply not watching at all. Since the outcome to the copyright holder is exactly the same, the only difference between the one and the other is that without piracy, that member of the public is deprived of the work.

By arguing that people should do without, rather than pirate, you are arguing only that it is a moral good to deprive the public of works of art. That is literally your only moral argument.

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