The service provider should not be blocking any traffic, IMO. If one is paying for the service, then - in theory - one should be able to use what they have paid for, how ever they want to use it.
That being said, the question remains: what authority does the service provider have that enables them to alter said services once an illegal activity has been detected, such as the electric company discovering one is using electricity to grow marijuana in a rented house?
I don't have the answer, but it is an interesting problem.
If the service provider makes subjective decisions outside the rule of law, then there's problem.
I don't think you can make an argument for or against this particular behavior regarding what is or is not 'public internet'. In either case, the infrastructure is owned by private companies. And in either case, they can do what they want, until a government agency steps in.
So, when I'm out of country and I out source my tax prep to an accountant who happens to be with me, and he/she use a BitLocker encrypted Windows system using various tools and methods, then one (or both) of us should be expecting a law suit?
One puts their photos on flickr so that people will see them, not so that someone may resell them and make some cash.
If you want to make money using something I've created, then I'm due a cut, unless I give you explicit permission other wise; and the type of copyright I assign to my work is indicative of whether or not I expect remuneration.
If I recall correctly, this law (and others similar to it) has its roots in who can legally investigate the contents of a computer and testify in a court of law. Licensed investigators were getting bypassed and losing money because lawyers were hiring other expert witnesses, a lot cheaper and possibly more experienced in the field. The argument was made that expert witnesses for investigative work should be licensed to perform investigative work.
While I agree in principle that using an open wi-fi connection does little if no harm to the the party responsible for paying for the service, your justification for your position is completely faulty.
Just because I leave the door to my home unlocked doesn't give you the authority to use my couch, stove, contents of my pantry and my tv. Nor does me leaving my car keys in the ignition of my car and its doors unlocked give you the authority to get into my car and drive it where ever you'd like to go, even if you did happen to return it.
I'm certian that in any court of law you'd be guilty of some crime in either case.
This is simply a "making available" issue. Just because you believe that something appears to have been made available, does not give you the right use that thing without permission. The concept of "making available" does not infer or imply that you have the right to use said item without permission. There is a significant and distinct difference between the concept of "free: please take one", and "I found a wallet with money in it, so I guess the owner wants me to have the money."
None of your examples hold water in an argument of why file sharing music is not theft.
* I go to the pizza shop and they offer me a free soda with two slices. The soda has value, but I just got it for free, and did so without Coca-Cola granting permission. I don't think anyone would claim this is stealing or even wrong or immoral.
1) The Soda is already paid for. If the payee wishes to take a loss on a product they bought, then they have the right to make that choice. I don't know about you, but I've received free (to me) music in the past. That in and of itself doesn't mean it was free to the provider.
2) Once the Soda is consumed, it can't be redistributed. Unless, Mike, you'd like for me to regurgitate it so you can drink it. This example fails to prove your point.
* My friend lets me borrow a book, which I read. The book has value. I got it for free, without the permission of the book author or publisher.
1) This is the best, and probably the only example you have that comes close to supporting your arguments of why consuming a product of another without remuneration and/or permission, is permissible. However in this example, you don't get to keep the books you borrow and re-use them, neither are you allowed to make copies and distribute or keep them for your self. If you give permission to someone else to copy the book while it is under your control, then you are liable for their crime. For those reasons alone, the example fails to prove your point.
* I get on a train and pick up the newspaper that a passenger left behind. The newspaper has value. I got it for free, without the newspaper company granting permission. I don't think anyone would claim that's stealing.
1) The newspaper contains advertising which helps pay for such usage, or for the event that one no longer finds it useful and gives it way. This same scenario occurs when I buy an album, listen to it a number of times, and then give the album to a friend as a present. As such a point, I give up my discretionary rights to use the contents of the album or newspaper. This example does not prove your point.
* I go to the beach. The people sitting next to me are playing music on their stereo, that I can hear. The music has value, but I just got it for free, without the permission of the record label.
1) In this scenario, you don't get to keep the music you heard it and use it again. And if you do manage to use a recording device, you would be benefiting from discretionary usage of a product that you did not pay for, and hence, stealing. Furthermore, the nature of music is that it must be heard, and for any one to assume that I must pay for music that just happens to be playing is absurd. To also assume that I can record such information and use it at my discretion just because it's available, is also absurd. Dish Network content falling on my property does not give me the right to receive and use it without permission or payment. Again, the example fails.
* I go see "Shakespeare in the Park." I get to see something of great value for free, without permission of William Shakespeare.
1) William Shakespeare's work is in the public domain.
2) The manuscript printer was paid for his services of providing a copy of the play, regardless of where the content came from. Again, you fail to prove your point.
* Verizon sees that Sprint is going to announce an "all you can eat plan" and decides to introduce its own similar plan. Verizon got that idea for a bundle from Sprint for "free" and certainly without Sprint's permission. Yet, we call that competition, not stealing.
1) Please correct me if I'm wrong, but ideas are neither patentable nor copyrightable.
2) Songs are not ideas, they are sometimes the product of hours of tireless effort by highly skilled individuals, who deserve to be paid for their efforts.
The point is this: who gets to determine when morals should be abandoned? If I'm in charge, then I suppose I get to chose when morals are to be discarded. Using my fictitious examples and assuming I'm in charge, it's perfectly reasonable for me to decide that everyone is better off after those other needless folks are out of the way. They're not that important after all right? They should have just chosen to live on less, or believe in other things. They have a mind of their own, they can make the choice to change their behaviors to meet with the current expectations and desires of every body else.
So yes, you're exactly right: everyone was not defined in its literal sense my examples. And why is that? Because its much easier to redefine the term when you're the one in charge (or at least when you think you're right) and when the desires and wishes of someone else do not meet with your expectations or desires.
Stealing music, whether it be via the internet or a coat pocket at Wal-Mart is still stealing. Will the music industry have to change? Yep, they will. Do I agree with the tactics of RIAA? Hardly. Do they appear to be abusing ignorance of the Law in their favor? Absolutely.
But to suggest that morals should be discarded simply because the alternative appears to be better for everyone else (who themselves have discarded morals), is simply wrong and misguided.
Mike has made a articulately wonderful, supporting view of assisted suicide: "if the economics works out with everyone being better off, the moral question should fall by the wayside."
The only catch is the point in time when one choses to define everyone.
Assume for a moment that food becomes scarce. To solve the problem, the Leader of your country determines that a India and China are just too much of a drain on the Economics of Food available in the world today. Therefore, said Leader drops a number of nuclear bombs on them, in order to help even things out.
Or assume for a moment that your belief system is paramount. Your problem is that those who don't believe as you do are just plain wrong, and should therefore die. No problem (you determine), you'll just fly some jets into some tall buildings and make your statement loud and clear.
Less people, less food consumption, everyone benefits.
Less heretics, less corruption, everyone benefits.
Except of course those who are now dead, but wait: they're not in a position to care anymore, so what's the difference?
There is none, because according to Mike, morals should move aside when everyone benefits.
Morality is not found in a vacuum. It is not something to use when convenient and then discard when inconvenient. Nor does it extrude itself out of years of cross-breeding. Unfortunately, many will learn this lesson too late.
Piracy is not "something that happens when you go to China and buy an entire operating system or an entire movie for a dollar." Piracy is when you take something for nothing, it is stealing, it is taking that which what does not belong to you.
Having my iPOD stolen, or my whole collection of CD's stolen is not piracy. Making copies of my music or data CD's and giving them away (for profit or not), or leaving them where they can be found and taken is wrong because it aids and abets robbery, aka, piracy.
Just because you want your music for free, or just because you don't think it's stealing, doesn't mean you're justified in your actions. If you obtain a product with out paying for (unless it's purposely given way for free), then you're a thief.
Oh, please! Stop with the party bashing. Did you forget that there are Democrats/Socialist that voted for this too? Are you actually naive enough to believe that they didn't support this throughout the entire process? If not, then why did they vote for it in the end? Pull your head out of the sand and realize that the bafoons in the Washington are more worried about their free paycheck than actually doing something useful.
Techdirt has not posted any stories submitted by dmeans.