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anubis26

The ethics of downloading

47 posts in this topic

Note: I do not condone any type of illegal activity. This thread is purely theoretical.

With entertainment companies using every type of money juicing tactic possible, I find myself wondering if downloading from P2P is really as bad as they say. I know that downloading a new release, or anything that you could legally buy without considerable effort is stealing from the artists and their companies. However, what if P2P is the only way to get it. It could be really old, something you remember from the '90s be it a movie, or game, or anything else. What if the only way to get it is to go cross country looking through discount bins in computer stores. The RIAA will come after you if they catch you, just because there's money to be made. But if there is no other way to get it. Is it better to let it go away, a piece of history never to return, just because the market demand is not high enough? Does that justify breaking the law? Is it ethically still considered stealing?

Those are some thoughts to consider because we tend to be stuck in the present in today's world. We don't look back much, we feel that some things are not right, and we should stop and think a bit. With corporations so blind, almost none (exception: Rockstar with GTA 1 & 2) actually care about the classics, the oldies but goodies. If this planet is going to have a mentality of good=new only, then art museums and such will cease to exist. We have to remember, we have to think, we have to question.

</rant>

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Sounds like a bit of what you're considering gets into the abandonware category. For instance, no one sells Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.5 anymore, but you may still want a copy. There's no other way to get it, aside from piracy. No one is losing money, because no one could be making money on the sale -- there /are/ no more sales of it. But technically, it's still a violation. This is more often seen with games than anywhere else, since old games are popular at least for nostalgic reasons; I know I've downloaded several old games I remember from my childhood and early computer days, that just can't be found anywhere else.

Personally, I don't see /that/ as wrong. Legally, though, it's violation of copyright still.

I say preserve for the sake of cool old stuff. It's getting damned hard to find a copy of Windows 1.01 anymore!

Edited by systems_glitch
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In as far as ethics are concerned I think any apps that haven't been changed to "Sharewares" or "Freewares" it would be unethical to download off a P2P site. There is legal and illegal, there is a hole in this though. I think Windows 95 or 98 failed to renew the copy right, and an app called Lindows barrowed heavily off the scripts and just changed the platform to Linux. I do believe that it has been done before and will continue to happen. That would be my view on the ethical side, in as far as how do I feel about pirates?

Well I once heard a really good argument that went like this. It should be ok to burn a DVD "rented" from Blockbuster. When you rent a DVD your making an agreement with all parties that your going to use the DVD for your own personal viewing. It doesn't state (to my knowledge) specifically how many times your allowed to view the DVD. So that's my two sense.

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It will never be as bad as they say, because you have to keep in mind why they say it: to affect you and politicians. As such, they will use figures that will impress their audience to that end, which might lead to misunderstandings as to the reality of the situation.

Nevertheless, just because it isn't as bad as they say, doesn't mean everything is alright either. It's a complex issue, and it won't be solved by saying "P2P is good because of abandonware, exposure to new anime that will never reach our shores, etc." Because what you're doing then is justifying a whole series of activities upon the merits of the few. I personally think that those are very valid reasons to infringe current copyright laws (if they even do so, which, isn't always the case.) That said, I can't use that as a basis to validify all of copyright infringement.

What is clear, however, is that those ethical reasons behind your downloading are precisely the reason why these laws have to be revisited, and defined within the context of this digital age. The notion of copying now is very different than what it was back twenty years ago, and the laws have to reflect this. Unfortunately, the commission in charge of defining this critical element of society is led by a man bribed by the entertainment industry (in the US.) Where balance between commercial interests and the public good is absolutely vital, we have a puppet. This means that such discussions will perpetuate for years to come, and what we do, though ethical but illegal, will remain legally infringing.

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alot of the copyright laws dont make sense. heres the way i look at it, lets say i borrow a dvd from my friend and i watch it 100 times and thats legal, however if i borrow that movie, burn it, and only watch it once then thats illegal. also i could have a dvd movie that i bought and paid for and invite a few friends to come over and watch it and thats fine, i could also let each person borrow that movie and watch it as many times as they want and thats fine, but if i give them a pirated copy of that movie then thats illegal, it just dosnt make sense to me why i cant share a movie with one of my friends and and vice-versa. also if i rent a movie and burn it then thats illegal, but i paid to view it, so why should that be illegal to do, whats the difference if i buy a used dvd for 3 dollars or if i rent it and burn that movie, i mean if you think about it when i buy a used dvd or cd the artist of actor dosnt get paid off of that sale so why should it matter if i download a copy of that dvd or movie.

The difference there is that when you borrow something, there's only one copy circulating around. When you copy, the limitations disappear. Those limitations serve as incentive for others to buy the original product. If everyone is allowed to make copies, then what motive is there to support the originating artist? Good will perhaps, but good will only goes so far. People are cheap, and alot cheaper when they're volunteering to pay (ie. donating) rather than forced to settle for a set amount. That's the difference.

Now small scale copying is evidently quite different than copying for commercial piracy operations, but you wanted to know the difference - and there it is.

and then theres music. i can record a song i hear on the radio for free and listen to it 1 million times, but if i download that song online via p2p then thats in violation of the law.
Radio makes money for the artists. Downloading from P2P doesn't, other than advertising. Nevertheless, it isn't a tangible net gain like radio is.
it just dosnt make sense to me. pirating music and movies is at an all time high as is p2p file sharing, it also seems strange to me that the movie studios and actors continually make more and more money than they did before. noone is losing money.

Not true. While the figures from the MPAA/RIAA and such agencies are inflated, there is definitively a hit from downloading. Sure, some movies are successful - but then again think about what % of the population actually downloads crap, esp. movies. It's not alot. The problem comes from what happens when that behaviour becomes acceptable; when most people decide to download w/o compensation instead of buying. That won't ever be allowed to happen, but that's the mindset one must have.

they just might not be making as much profit as they would be, but the difference is minimal very minimal. basically im not gonna buy the movie anyways and im not gonna pay for the cd so that artist or actor or movie studio will never get that money anyways, so the loss of profit is only theoretical. noone is losing money.

It is a theoretical loss, yes. Nevertheless, the fact remains that you were entertained for a set period of time; whether it be seconds, minutes, or hours by someone else's work. If their livelihood is based upon that very entertainment of individuals, and the dissemination of their materials based on the idea that they will make money, than they deserve some form of compensation. The issue becomes how they will be compensated.

If you tried a CD and didn't like it, then it's not fair for you to compensate anyone. But those circumstances have to be set. A new business model has to come out to reflect the reality of a post-P2P world: people want a lot more media, and want to pay a lot less. But as it stands, it's not fair that artists are not compensated at all.

Some business models factor in P2P as part of their plan. But it's not up to us to dictate to artists/labels that don't follow that how they should operate. So if that isn't how they want to do things, we have to respect that. It's not very realistic these days given the ease in which their wishes can be violated, but that's how it is.

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Well the way I look at things, is that yes downloading music hurts the artists...HOWEVER its not as bad as the RIAA makes it out to be. In fact Artists make most of their money from concerts, and I know for a fact that if I didn't listen to streaming radio, or find files to download that are new and intriguing, that I would not go to their concerts. Furthermore its legal in most other countries besides the US, so the way I see it, is that your "liberating" it and using it for personal use.

Diablo

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It is a theoretical loss, yes. Nevertheless, the fact remains that you were entertained for a set period of time; whether it be seconds, minutes, or hours by someone else's work. If their livelihood is based upon that very entertainment of individuals, and the dissemination of their materials based on the idea that they will make money, than they deserve some form of compensation. The issue becomes how they will be compensated.

Theoretical loss is no loss at all.

What you describe I see as selfishness only. The artist only diserves to get compensated when he would effectively be compensated if it wheren't possible to get the work for free. When I download a piece of software, a movie or a music that I will not buy if I couldn't get it for free I'm not hurting anyone. It's only when I stop paying for it because I can get it for free instead that they get hurt by my actions. Or, much worse, if I make money at their expense selling copies of their work to others.

I don't buy less stuff because I can get them for free. I buy what I would buy anyway and I get everything else that I want for free, stuff that I wouldn't buy anyway. No one's loosing money with me that way, no matter what they say. They are only being selfish because I'm using their work without any compensation. Well, they only diserve it if I would pay it anyway in case I couldn't get it for free.

Well, it can't be monitored, controlled or imposed upon the masses. I'm sorry but it's the way of the future.

Information creators just have to deal with it and adapt to the new ways.

Information really wants to be free

Edited by B0rg
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Well the way I look at things, is that yes downloading music hurts the artists...HOWEVER its not as bad as the RIAA makes it out to be.
The only reason the RIAA makes it look bad (they put the big financial hit on the artists, who make nearly nothing from albums) is because they are affected by what they see as losses. If concert attendance drops, they don't care as much, because a majority of their money doesn't come from that.
I know that downloading a new release, or anything that you could legally buy without considerable effort is stealing from the artists and their companies.

No it isn't, theft (stealing) requires the deprivation of property from one person by another. Copyright infringement is something completely different, and that is what is pursued here (although the RIAA refuses to put the law to any legal test by not taking people to criminal court, it just wants settlement money).

I believe that file-sharing is necessary for small bands to make it anywhere now, I (and plenty of others) would have never heard of certain genres or artists (The Hanatarash, Lightning Bolt, BBQ Chickens?!) without p2p networks. Subsequently, we would've never spent hundreds of dollars on their releases, merchandise (official or not), etc. and they would have never seen any money. P2P is a boon for these artists and even smaller ones (like me), my primary method of disseminating my work is by Bit-Torrent distribution, hoping to get releases to be judged by a group of people. If they like it, I trust they will buy the next release, donate money, go to a show, and/or spread the word to friends, getting more and more people interested. If I went the traditional way (especially with what I do, which, at best, walks the line between music and, well, not music), I would've never had any exposure. After months of file-sharing and self-promotion (sending other artists and friends free CDs, CDs in trade, or high-quality mp3s), I finally got my first show. It is a free show, but it is the best place for promotion.

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If memory serves, record companies employ companies to go on to P2P sites, and figure out how many people are downloading a particular artist so they can "guess" the popularity of that particular artist. I believe it was on Tech Tv back in the day.

Diablo

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What if you weren't going to buy the music anyway? If it wasn't free, you wouldn't pay for it. Is there still a loss? No. There isn't.

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I have yet to see a company that received more damage from piracy than just from people not buying their products/any other thing a normal company should have calculated into the businessplan.

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So you all seem to be saying that copyright infringement is okay; okay because they wouldn't get the money anyways, okay because no company has yet to be bankrupt, okay because it helps small bands.

P2P as it stands is not a business model, because it doesn't generate money to those that made the work. It can be incorporate into business models (bands giving music for free), but it is not a complete business model in itself. So if you take away a company's right to choose actual business models, the cash generator, where then does the money flow come from?

People are cheap. If they can pay less, they will. And that doesn't bode well for those that need the extra cash to make more elaborate products.

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So if you take away a company's right to choose actual business models, the cash generator, where then does the money flow come from?

No rights have been taken away. It has been shown over and over again, even with the outrageous prices that the RIAA sets for online services, people are more willing to buy mp3s than download illegally. They are just thrashing because they don't want to adapt, businesses never do, because that means doing more work, more research, and more innovation. This is how capitalism works, this is true capitalism in action. Again, they are certainly free to choose a different business model, but record labels as a middleman between the artist and fan are losing prominence as home-based and independent studios and producers spring up (along with better-educated musicians who are equally talented in production) along with online and DIY distribution becoming more prevalent (they are cheaper for both the producer (the artists) and the consumer, and more efficient; again, capitalism in action).

They are no longer necessary and realizing that, so they want to legislate to their advantage and hinder advancement. The free p2p is just a transitionary period, there will always be the hardcore pirates, but fans always want to support their artists and would rather spend their money on them if at all possible, artists are seeing that they can distribute online or by themselves and often get quality production from people they can contract for it or do themselves, and finding record labels unnecessary for the most part (and in terms of what they want out of the artist). These are just (hopefully, if the system is allowed to work itself out) the death throes of the RIAA cartel.

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The fact of the matter is that no matter what anyone says or who the record companies sue, its not going to stop piracy. There are A LOT of people illegally downloading music/movies/software and its impossible to sue all of them, or even a large percentage of them. Be it ethical or not, the companies are going to have to adapt, because the strategy they are pursuing now will never work.

I always thought it would be interesting if a record company created its own p2p client or had a website that you could download that company's music from for free, payed for entirely by ads. I'm not sure how feasible that would be to earn money from but its an idea.

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Edit button ftw.

Piracy takes away the right of a business to determine the conditions in which their work will be distributed. It may be useful for artists to come up with better business models, but again this does not change the basic truism that piracy takes away the creators right to distribute his or her work how they see fit.

No it does not, at least not in this case. It simply makes one distribution method (ie the current one) less viable than others, they are still free to use it, but it would be stupid and akin to trying to stop a tsunami with just your hand. Capitalism is all based on what the consumers are responsive to, and they aren't as responsive anymore to the old business model, it is basic microeconomics: if a business does not adapt to demand it will fail.

Secondly, the record labels take away the creator's right to distribute their work how they see fit, the labels take care of that.

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Edit button ftw.
Piracy takes away the right of a business to determine the conditions in which their work will be distributed. It may be useful for artists to come up with better business models, but again this does not change the basic truism that piracy takes away the creators right to distribute his or her work how they see fit.

No it does not, at least not in this case. It simply makes one distribution method (ie the current one) less viable than others, they are still free to use it, but it would be stupid and akin to trying to stop a tsunami with just your hand. Capitalism is all based on what the consumers are responsive to, and they aren't as responsive anymore to the old business model, it is basic microeconomics: if a business does not adapt to demand it will fail.

Secondly, the record labels take away the creator's right to distribute their work how they see fit, the labels take care of that.

Capitalism is based upon the exchange of goods. People make their livelihoods by making products, and exchanging them for something else - most likely cash. That cash inflow (revenue) helps sustain the continued manufacturing of that product (cost). Here you're essentially throwing that out the window, by forcing people to make products for no cash inflow; by removing from them the means through which they chose to make that revenue.

The issue is not that consumers are unresponsive to old business models because new ones have come along, they are unresponsive because some of them have found a way to be rid of it altogether. By getting goods for free, without having to give up their end of the deal - the cash. I realize that media companies today have a really bad business model, but that doesn't make it alright to then just take the stuff anyways. The solution there is a better business model. Not getting rid of all business.

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Downloading mp3s,movie,and software...well without p2p, some of us would never found good music.

I think download music is not that bad. Anyone can make their own CD today.(without the RIAA)

Plus I end up buying the CD because I love listen to music and help ONLY the artist or band.

Anyway the RIAA dug their own hole. If you don't supply the people want they will find a way

to meet their want for music. It's what the free trade system is base off. (supply and demand)

They have to change or bye bye. Fuck DRM,overprice shit,ADs,pop music,and ripping real band off.

when it comes to movie...I don't think it's ok to download. Older films are ok,(5 years or more)

Software..Ok theres more free software to do basic things on a pc. You don't have to uses P2P

to get software. windows is overprice. but thats the only software I pay for.(not counting games)

Yes you should be able to copy and backup your shit.

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The damage is the loss of freedom to control the destiny of their works

It's impossible to controll an idea and it's impossible to controll information. The right to controll it just because you where the first to produce it or to register it is contrary to the nature of that same work. When I get some piece of information in same way I hade the right to do whatever I want with it. Specially because no one looses that same piece of information as a consequence of whatever I choose to do.

Saying that the creator of a piece of information has the right to controll where it goes, who gets to benefict from it is the same as saying that the creator of a new car has the right of deciding in what roads that car can be driven or that the creator of a computer has the right of deciding what software can be runned on that computer and for what purposes. It doesn't make sense.

Edited by B0rg
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The damage is the loss of freedom to control the destiny of their works

Saying that the creator of a piece of information has the right to controll where it goes, who gets to benefict from it is the same as saying that the creator of a new car has the right of deciding in what roads that car can be driven or that the creator of a computer has the right of deciding what software can be runned on that computer and for what purposes. It doesn't make sense.

You're confusing initial distribution with consumer rights associated with the product. I'm with you for consumer rights: if I buy it, I should be able to use it how I see fit. That's not what tiocsti is talking about: he's talking about how to get the product out there to begin with. So a more correct analogy would be:

1. Car manufacturer A spends $$$ on research to create a car. You have a device to clone that car for free. You do so, against the wishes of car manufacturer A. Car manufacturer A gets no $$$. Everyone else does so. Car manufacturer A is now screwed for cash.

The whole issue of where you get to drive afterwards is something else entirely.

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So you all seem to be saying that copyright infringement is okay; okay because they wouldn't get the money anyways, okay because no company has yet to be bankrupt, okay because it helps small bands.

*Straw man alert*

I'm not saying that is okay. I'm saying I don't care, because I haven't seen any REAL loss (I'm talking about the scale) from piracy. If I don't buy the product, the company WON'T get the money - that's right. Piracy is not the same as stealing, because I'm not taking the ability to buy the product from other potential customers. If I stole an apple, the other person wouldn't be able to buy it. If I copied it, the person would be able to buy it.

P2P as it stands is not a business model, because it doesn't generate money to those that made the work.
Show me WHERE I said that it's a business model.
So if you take away a company's right to choose actual business models, the cash generator, where then does the money flow come from?

I'm not taking away anyone's freedom. Every company can choose any business model they wish. There are many factors that have the influence on their income. People wouldn't buy the product if they thought it wasn't worth it anyway, so the loss (meaning the money that the company spent on releasing that one single copy the person in example wouldn't buy) is the same as if the person downloaded the music/whatever from the internet.

People are cheap. If they can pay less, they will. And that doesn't bode well for those that need the extra cash to make more elaborate products.

It's their problem how they decide to make that extra money. P2P exists for quite a long time (so do bootlegs etc.) and the companies are well. The problem is - noone knows if they would spend the extra money on making better products.
Capitalism is based upon the exchange of goods. People make their livelihoods by making products, and exchanging them for something else - most likely cash. That cash inflow (revenue) helps sustain the continued manufacturing of that product (cost). Here you're essentially throwing that out the window, by forcing people to make products for no cash inflow; by removing from them the means through which they chose to make that revenue.

Show me example where 100% of income was lost due to piracy.

The solution there is a better business model. Not getting rid of all business.
I have yet to see that business model.
1. Car manufacturer A spends $$$ on research to create a car. You have a device to clone that car for free. You do so, against the wishes of car manufacturer A. Car manufacturer A gets no $$$. Everyone else does so. Car manufacturer A is now screwed for cash.

I'm against people selling pirated copies. Not only because of law, but also because of them being leeches - both ethically and practically.

I'm not against people downloading music, etc. from the internet. The $$$ the "manufacturer looses" is hardly a per cent, or few per cent of his original income.

The car comparsion doesn't work on software. The cost of making another copy of a program is very different then the cost of making another copy of a car.

Edited by WhatChout
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i'd feel alot better buying music if the people that created the music got a bigger pice of the pie. as it stands now, the artist will get maybe a 1$ of every cd sold. that means the record company gets 60%, 10% goes to the artist the other 30% is used for shiping, promotion, and creations costs. plus on my IT wages i don't feel bad taking music from someone that makes millions a year. sorry i just don't. on the other hand if someone writes some really good software and ask for donations, i have no problem sending them some money.. but take MS on the other hand... i have no problem TAKING there products and using them with no intent on ever paying them, or upgarding them.

sorry but i feel i should bust out the old gnu qoute

"Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer"

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That cash inflow (revenue) helps sustain the continued manufacturing of that product (cost). Here you're essentially throwing that out the window, by forcing people to make products for no cash inflow; by removing from them the means through which they chose to make that revenue.
That's one part of capitalism, again capitalism is focused on efficiency. They aren't forced to do anything. If somehow Hell freezes over, the dinosaurs return, etc. and magically all music stops appearing because of 'piracy' (which will never happen), the demand will remain for new music, and the 'industry' will start again, more efficient because the old machinery was shed. This will not happen, because music will continue to be made regardless of how much people pay for it. Incomes may be reduced, profits may be reduced, but the typical trend for any product in a capitalist nation is to get cheaper and cheaper, made with less and less human labor (especially manufactured products, but it works for everything). It has been demonstrated that people prefer, for the most part, the pay services (even ones like AllOfMP3, whose legality is in question), because they want their favorite artists to be compensated. So many people now, though, thanks to the RIAA's increased visibility, know that music sales rarely directly benefit the artist (yes, we all know that sales keep the artists on the label, but that isn't seen as commonly by people), and are less likely than they were before this whole controversy to buy music. Stunningly enough, though, people still prefer paying for their music, they just see CDs as not worth what MP3s are.
The issue is not that consumers are unresponsive to old business models because new ones have come along, they are unresponsive because some of them have found a way to be rid of it altogether. By getting goods for free, without having to give up their end of the deal - the cash.

Again, this is true mostly for a relatively small number of pirates, most people would much rather pay for their music, as has been demonstrated by the success of iTunes, AllOfMP3, and others. If you missed my other post, I noted that this is simply a transitional period, a period between the old ways (distributor to brick-and-mortar merchants, high product overhead for shipping, etc.) and the coming way that will phase out the RIAA and record labels unless they adapt well to it, which they are failing to do (the coming way being paid mp3s with freer licenses, more emphasis on live performances because of the increased money to be made there, decreased cost of mp3s because of the much lower overhead (no shipping or packaging costs, for instance), artists more willing to allow their music to be disseminated through the Internet for exposure, etc.).

A newer, more efficient model would reduce record labels to little more than promoters and producers (without their virtual monopoly on distribution and marketing, as they are now) and reduce profits (meaning a redistribution of human resources to other places that need it) for them, or still eliminating them all together, with artists using their own merits and word-of-mouth (as many have done very successfully already), concerts, etc. to further music sales (which would benefit the artists more directly), while the artists get greater overall profit (even though prices will be lower) because the middlemen (record labels and distributors) will be cut out and the get more of the proceeds from sales, merchandising, concerts, etc. What is happening now is the death of the middlemen, and they're kicking and screaming all the way to the grave. Good riddance to them.

I realize that media companies today have a really bad business model, but that doesn't make it alright to then just take the stuff anyways.

Technically, you aren't 'taking' anything, but no one ever used this as a justification. It is simply an analysis of what is happening and why it is.

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