Who's More Ethical: TorrentSpy Or The MPAA?

from the just-a-simple-question dept

Wired has an interview with Robert Anderson, the guy who hacked into TorrentSpy's servers and handed over a bunch of internal TorrentSpy info to the MPAA. From the interview, it's quite clear that the MPAA knew that it was getting access to content that had not been legally obtained, but it still pushed Anderson for more such info (including asking him if he could obtain similar info about The Pirate Bay). Yet, because they know how to cover themselves legally, they made Anderson sign a contract saying that all of the info he gave them had been obtained legally. But, still, it's quite clear that the MPAA has no qualms spying on people using questionable means. At the same time, however, we've noted that TorrentSpy is so aghast at the idea of spying on its own users, that it shut off US access to its site to protect its users from court-ordered spying. So, which organization comes across as more ethical here? The MPAA, who's actively trying to get confidential information from various torrent tracker sites? Or TorrentSpy, who's actively trying to protect the privacy of its users? Yet, why is it that people act as if the MPAA has the moral high ground here?

Filed Under: bittorrent, hacking, spying
Companies: mpaa, torrentspy


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: ethics

    If someone repairs your A/C at your house and you refuse to pay them, have you stolen something?

    No, you have not stolen something. You've breached a contract. That's different. Learn the difference. It may seem subtle, but it's important.

    Just because you are not taking a tangible object does not mean it isn't theft.

    No, it isn't theft -- and the difference is important.

    The argument for it being stealing is that, as a consumer, there is a likelihood (no matter how small) that you might purchase the film (or a viewing thereof). If you obtain a viewing for free, you have effectively cost the industry potential money.

    If that's the argument, then you just flunked econ. Based on your definition "likelihood (no matter how small) that you might purchase" being somehow prevented then you just made almost every business in the world thieves. I've made this point before, but based on this definition, the pizza shop that opens next to the deli is guilty of theft. After all, when it's time for lunch, and I choose the pizza shop over the deli, that pizza shop (again, based on your definition) has "effectively cost the deli some money."

    You see why that's not theft? It's a marketing decision. No company has a right to money. They have a right to try to convince people to pay them for goods or services.

    If you want to take the analogy even further, let's say I open up a beverage shop, and a pizza shop opens up next door and offers free sodas with every pizza. Again, by your definition, this is theft. After all, who's going to buy a soda at the beverage shop when you can get a free one next door? But we don't condemn that, because that's reasonable competition.

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