Is illegal downloading such a bad thing?

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AuthorTopic: Is illegal downloading such a bad thing?
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #25
Maybe in the post-copyright era we need to see a return to the concept of patronage, where the fabulously wealthy pay artists to create art for themselves and let everyone else have access to it. There are certainly enough fabulously wealthy people and enough aspiring artists to make the system viable.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #26
Except we've already discovered the wonderful system of micropatronage. With a little more work and some legal trickery I can see it supporting plenty of entertainers of various kinds. Not stably, perhaps, but acceptably.

—Alorael, who doesn't like calling software or music piracy theft. You're not taking someone's money, after all. On the other hand, calling it a crime without a victim is disingenuous. Someone is not getting the money you owe. It's not Evil, but it's wrong. Justifications don't change that, and you have no right to happiness you can't afford.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Warrior
Member # 8131
Profile Homepage #27
quote:
Originally written by This is not a moniker.:

Except we've already discovered the wonderful system of micropatronage. With a little more work and some legal trickery I can see it supporting plenty of entertainers of various kinds. Not stably, perhaps, but acceptably.

—Alorael, who doesn't like calling software or music piracy theft. You're not taking someone's money, after all. On the other hand, calling it a crime without a victim is disingenuous. Someone is not getting the money you owe. It's not Evil, but it's wrong. Justifications don't change that, and you have no right to happiness you can't afford.

Agree'd, I get annoyed when people call it theft. It's not theft, it's a violation of copyright law, an infringement if you will. That doesn't make it any more "right" but it most defiantly is not theft.
Posts: 145 | Registered: Sunday, February 18 2007 08:00
Shaper
Member # 73
Profile #28
quote:
Originally written by This is not a moniker.:

you have no right to happiness you can't afford.
I'm sure millions of starving African children would disagree with that statement.

It's a hard line to draw, really.

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Posts: 2957 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 3040
Profile #29
But what exactly is someone taking when they copy a program? There is a fundamental difference between using a copy of a program and stealing a painting: One can copy a program endlessly, but one can't duplicate a painting (at least not in the same way).

When a shareware developer sells a program, what exactly is s/he selling? Certainly not the physical bits of the program itself, because those reside on the developer's computer, and stay there. Is the developer selling the right to use a program? If so, why is it that the developer has the exclusive right to control who uses the program? After all, anyone can discover a sequence of bits, that, when fed to a computer's processor and the result experienced by a human, causes pleasure, so why not discover such a sequence that someone has already discovered?

Note that I'm not criticizing the concept of shareware. Developers can write whatever programs they want, and if they want to charge money for them and make a living that way, and if they succeed at doing so, then more power to them. And if they include locks on the program (e.g. registration codes) then that's fine too. I'm merely questioning why someone shouldn't be able to use their specific sequence of bits to create another sequence of bits that behaves a little bit differently (for instance to not have those locks).

I'm just questioning, not advocating, necessarily...

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Posts: 508 | Registered: Thursday, May 29 2003 07:00
Agent
Member # 27
Profile #30
The developer is selling his time, effort, and expertise.

I really don't know how to answer that question other than, it is implied that the developer is selling his program for use only, not distribution. I believe you have to agree to legal terms every time you install a program.

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Posts: 1233 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #31
quote:
Originally written by wz. As:

I'm merely questioning why someone shouldn't be able to use their specific sequence of bits to create another sequence of bits that behaves a little bit differently (for instance to not have those locks).

I'm just questioning, not advocating, necessarily...

Justifying copyright law in terms of some notion of natural intellectual property rights is dicey at best, for reasons including but not limited to the ones you point out. Therefore, the justification normally used is basically a utilitarian one, similar to that given for patents: if the first person to come up with an idea isn't given the exclusive right to profit from it, people will be less inclined to come up with new ideas.

On the other hand, people still produced great works of art before copyright existed, so the utilitarian justification is dicey too.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #32
quote:
Originally written by The Almighty Do-er of Stuff:

quote:
Originally written by This is not a moniker.:

you have no right to happiness you can't afford.
I'm sure millions of starving African children would disagree with that statement.

It's a hard line to draw, really.

And Thuryl left this one alone? I'm disappointed.

I have two responses to this, though. You have a right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, as you pointed out. There's really nothing inalienable about these rights except that we refuse to allow them to be alienated, but let's work with that. Food for starving children is life. That's a right. Fancy food for starving children? Forget it. Being needy doesn't give you a right to anything but getting your basic needs met.

And that leads into point two: this "right" is also questionable. Why is there a human right not to starve? I think it's because we don't think it's right in the sense of correct. We don't like to let children starve. Most rights are like that. While there's an order of magnitude difference between starvation and taking programs without paying for them, I think some of the same reasoning applies. It's wrong to take the program because we have decided societally that it's wrong. Pirates who think it's not wrong are only wrong in our eyes, not by any absolute moral truth. It used to be okay to let the serfs starve to death, and maybe one day it will be okay to let the programmers' kids go hungry.

—Alorael, who thinks the reasoning behind programming can be applied to books, and he thinks there's a reason why great books have always been written but many more books, ranging from schlock to great, are written now. If you're independently wealthy and/or have a day job you can afford a Great Work. If you're strapped for cash, it's really nice to get paid for that Great Work. Patronage works, but perhaps not as well as getting money from the masses.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4074
Profile #33
My opinion, as I kinda said in my OP, is that minors should not be held responsible to obey copyright laws.

I think this leniency might also be extended to anyone still in college since typically that is the poorest years of a persons life and when you NEED software the most.

Once a person turns 18 or graduates college they then become a contributing member to society and thus should follow it's laws.

But since our society doesn't recognize minors as having any rights (can't sign contracts, own property, that sort of thing), I don't think they should be forced to obey the same copyright laws.

This will make our children smarter, happier, and not hurt the developers in the least since they don't have any money to begin with. And by allowing this you would foster good will toward the minors and they would be more inclined to support you later in life.
Posts: 47 | Registered: Sunday, March 7 2004 08:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #34
While the DoI doesn't have legal weight per se, it does serve a function of providing the framework upon which the Cnstitution was built and the metric by which it is measured. The Constitution really does not specify what values it upholds, other than a brief blurb in the Preamble. For the most part, the Constitution is a document of means; paragraph 2 of the Declaration in many ways identifies the ends: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." I.e., natural rights.

What's articulated from paragraph 2 of the DoI is important, because it's basically the standard by which we judge all of our laws. If you think about it, a law isn't really valid in our society unless we determine that it is also just, or in other words, passes a societal "smell test."
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 59
Profile #35
I get a warm, fuzzy feeling from consensual use of the fruits of other people's labour. Hence, I don't engage in piracy.

This doesn't mean I'm some kind of legal positivist. The rules made up by the politicians are less important than my own ethics, of course - the laws only have the fear of retribution on their side.

If copyright infringement is theft (I don't think it is quite the same), isn't taxation also theft (of more tangible property, too)? :P It depends on your personal view of private property rights.

EDIT: The (positive) right to happiness implies an obligation for someone else to work for providing you with happiness, doesn't it?

quote:
Originally written by Koranuso:

But since our society doesn't recognize minors as having any rights (can't sign contracts, own property, that sort of thing), I don't think they should be forced to obey the same copyright laws.
Good point. I think the US is draconian when it comes to prosecuting children (alternatively, their parents), and I despise the RIAA thugs.

[ Tuesday, July 24, 2007 08:21: Message edited by: Alex ]
Posts: 950 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #36
quote:
Originally written by Koranuso:

But since our society doesn't recognize minors as having any rights (can't sign contracts, own property, that sort of thing), I don't think they should be forced to obey the same copyright laws.
This is absolutely untrue. Minors certainly enjoy all constitutional rights that adults do. Further, minors can and do own property. They are also free to enter contracts with adults, though in most jurisdictions such contracts are voidable per se, so any vendor worth his salt will have parents co-sign. That doesn't give minors carte blanche to enter into a contract, gain the property, and then reneg on the agreement; generally, if the minor still possesses the property, he has to return it.

This isn't a question of rights, however; it's a question of criminal laws, which apply to everyone, whether minor or at the age of majority, citizen or foreigner within the territory of the U.S. Sure, in some cases punishment may be mitigated based on a convict's age, but no one gets off for free, nor should they. To argue that a minor should be allowed to steal a candy bar because he doesn't have a right to hold property holds no water; neither does the same argument for violation of a copyright.

As for having access to software that minors "NEED," most minors can access this through their schools and universities. Most schools and universities these days have more than adequate computer facilities available for web surfing, research, and word processing, and students get unprecedented access to databases of academic journals, as well as freedom to print these articles and share them with other students through Academic Fair Use laws. The rest of the professional world, on the other hand, has to pay a premium, sometimes on a per article basis, for access to the same resources, and they aren't cheap.

The reality here is that you think you "NEED" games, which are probably the only software you care about, and ironically the software minors probably need least.

EDIT: Taxation isn't theft any more than a utility charging you for water or power is theft; in both cases, you're paying for goods and services, and in the case of taxes, frequently you're paying for benefits that well exceed the value of the amount you're paying, especially if you're poor. It amazes me how myopic people can be on this point.

[ Tuesday, July 24, 2007 08:54: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #37
The RIAA, like all enforcement agencies, is despisable because they are destroyers, not creators. If a person could directly support an artist without enriching 15 middlemen in the process it would be a step in the right direction. [insert obligatory link to that type of thing here]

Re: inalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I believe that the rights in question are those of personal acquisition, not right to receive. I have no right to be given food, but my right to seek food is not infringed. Similarly, we don't have a right to be happy, merely a right to act in a manner which will create happiness.

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Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 59
Profile #38
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

EDIT: Taxation isn't theft any more than a utility charging you for water or power is theft; in both cases, you're paying for goods and services, and in the case of taxes, frequently you're paying for benefits that well exceed the value of the amount you're paying, especially if you're poor. It amazes me how myopic people can be on this point.
OK, so assume I put up a protection racket. I provide a valuable service - security. It's not consensual, though.
Of course, one might accept that democracy has precedence over capitalism on some occasions, such as the fair use of copyrighted material. Great value for a poor kid - small to no damage to a rich captialist. Why hunt people for victimless crimes, for the mere prestige of the rich? :P
Posts: 950 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 7331
Profile Homepage #39
Koran, apologies for my late arrival. I noticed that you stated that you would want any child of yours to be able to install a cracked/stolen piece of software. Therefore, since you would need the software to begin with, you would be teaching your children how to steal. If you are in college, and hungry, would you steal food? YOu are stealing someone's work, time, and energy every time you download a crack.

Secondly, what extra software do you "need" for college? I plotted out my expenses and will be fine with a copy of either Appleworks 6 or Word '05. AW is free, and Word is dirt cheap.

Thirdly, what thoughts would float through your head if the RCMP/FBI showed up at your doorstep, accusing someone in your household of computer piracy?

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Posts: 794 | Registered: Thursday, July 27 2006 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #40
quote:
Originally written by Alex:

OK, so assume I put up a protection racket. I provide a valuable service - security. It's not consensual, though.
Citizenship is consensual. The U.S. does not require that you remain here - you can always renounce it and go elsewhere. The catch is that you'll probably need to find someone else to take you, and will probably have to pay taxes no matter where you go. Taxes also cover more than security. Do you really feel you are being "robbed"? How much in taxes have you had to pay in your life? Yet presumably you benefit from using the roads paid for by public moneys, the water and sewage systems that service your residence, the fire departments, public education, etc.

Sorry, but it makes me very irate when people moan about taxes "robbing them blind," yet expect the government to magically address all wrongs that may befall them.

[ Tuesday, July 24, 2007 10:40: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
BANNED
Member # 4074
Profile #41
quote:
Thirdly, what thoughts would float through your head if the RCMP/FBI showed up at your doorstep, accusing someone in your household of computer piracy?
I should have been more specific. I would be disappointed if my kid was not capable of installing cracked software without getting caught.

And true nowadays there are a ton more options of freeware that are actually useful. But when I was in college that was more the exception than the rule.

And also getting cracked software or movies before it's released was fun when I was younger. Though that even applies to today considering I had Harry Potter read 3 days before release. But didn't keep me from buying it of course cause I gotta have the set.
Posts: 47 | Registered: Sunday, March 7 2004 08:00
Shake Before Using
Member # 75
Profile #42
Of course, downloading full versions of commercial software is, at least in America, highly illegal. As a matter of ethics and morals, I'd like to think that you probably shouldn't do it, though.

I've heard many people say they prefer to try games before they buy them. Many games have legal demo versions which you can download, and (as a bonus) they're usually smaller and easier to find than a pirated copy of the full version, but some still are released without one. I find it hard to say it is morally wrong to commit piracy in this instance, as you are ostensibly doing it as a precaution against purchasing something useless.

Another issue is old games, especially games which are no longer sold by anyone outside of occasional eBay auctions and such sales of used goods. While I would classify this as immoral - as, in most cases, you are doing it for personal gain at the cost of the person who would have otherwise sold it to you - the simple convenience of the matter, regardless of the amount of money you have, may drive people to piracy.

A third is software that uses an intrusive protection scheme. For some of these, such as Bethesda'a for-pay downloadable content for Oblivion, and games that use the StarForce copy protection system in general, it is sometimes possible to achieve better results through piracy than you would by actually going to the store and putting down money to buy the game. Of course, boycotting companies which use protection schemes of that nature probably sends a stronger message, and definitely sits well with your conscience.

And finally, there's the issue of who illegal downloading hurts. It honestly only hurts software producers if it funnels away profits that they would have otherwise earned. And that's generally my view - if there's no pressing reason not to buy the game and you have the money to spend, buy the game instead of pirating it. If you don't, you're hurting a software developer you like, and that sucks. If you can't afford it, the biggest moral risk in my view would be falling into a habit of piracy - the developer gets the same amount of money regardless of whether or not you end up with his game.

(Random disclosure, since it's related: Despite having paid for a copy of Blades of Avernum, I've illegally downloaded it twice, both times that I've lost my copy due to a hard drive failure. Jeff's customer service with regard to replacing copies of games is great - both times, I've gotten another copy of Blades of Exile within a business day - but it's hard to beat the 5 minute turnaround time on the illegal methods there. I've had to do similar things for a few old games that I own which the CDs have since gone bad for, like Baldur's Gate 1 - and for those, you can't count on the company providing you a quick and free fix.)
Posts: 3234 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6489
Profile Homepage #43
quote:
Originally written by Drythentor:

Word '05
You might find it hard to find a copy of that, since it doesn't exist. :P

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Posts: 1556 | Registered: Sunday, November 20 2005 08:00
Shaper
Member # 73
Profile #44
OpenOffice.org exists, plus it's available for several different operating systems, compatible with several major proprietary softwares' file formats (like Word's DOC files), and free.

Just FYI.

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Posts: 2957 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
Board Administrator
Member # 1
Profile Homepage #45
My God. Why is this thread still going?

This issue is not, for me, some theoretical discussion. I am only able to feed my family and put clothes on my childrens' backs because of copyright law and the good people who pay for the effort and time spent to entertain them.

The original poster is a twit. He can pat himself on the back all he wants for his supposed free thinking and generate infinite justifications for his theft. Fine. But he won't do it in my house. Banned forever.

I don't think about or deal with hackers. They are not my customers.

- Jeff Vogel

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