Torrents - Copyright Circumvention

Well since the choice is between buying the movies and stealing them obviously buying them is the right thing to do.

For anyone who thinks stealing is okay, please send me $1000 as if stealing is okay by you then I wish to steal that amount from you (since if you believe in stealing that seems reasonable).

Nobody’s stealing anything. Digital piracy and stealing are not the same thing. Downloading a movie isn’t theft, as nobody’s property has been taken, nor even copyright infringement (you’re the recipient of an infringing copy but you didn’t make it).

If you were to walk into an office building, photograph some documents and walk out, you would not be charged with theft of those documents. You might have broken other laws, but you didn’t steal anything by making copies.

It’s not the data that you’re stealing - its the contents.

By getting entertainment out of someone’s work without paying for it, it’s no better than walking into a music shop and shoving some CDs into a rucksack, then walking out without paying.

The ONLY difference is that it isn’t physical property, it’s…erm…unphysical(?)

However, the moral is the same. Downloading music without paying for it - that is, music which should be paid for - is stealing.

It’s also illegal, so no matter which way you look at it, you’re in the wrong if you do it.

Has anyone ever been sued for downloading music? What would the crime be? Receipt of counterfeit goods?

The ethical issues are separate from the legal ones. Nobody has money taken out of their pocket when files are downloaded. My software is pirated on a daily basis, and I am sure my bank account balance is not going down when it happens.

Yeah, they have. Famous cases, typically to deter others from downloading music - and the fines were MASSIVE.

That’s true.

How about I go into your house and take away your sofa? Sure, you won’t see your bank balance go down…

The difference here is a matter of loss/gain. If I stole a CD, the record label would LOSE it and I would GAIN it. If I downloaded music, I would GAIN it but no one would LOSE it.

The argument there would be that by having it in the first place, I should have paid for it - so for me to GAIN it for free, they LOSE money which is rightfully theirs - the price of the music.

So, more than anything, it’s about loss of potential. That, in the eye of the law, is a loss.

So let’s everyone download all the music we want without paying for it. Sure the music companies don’t lose money by our doing it but now they are receiving no money at all and are out of business so that there is no more music being made that will ever be available to be downloaded in the future.

Anyone who downloads anything free (music, software or whatever) should also tell their boss that they don’t need to be paid any more as they like the idea of people working for no pay. (If they don’t like the idea of working for no pay then why are they making other people do it?)

Again, confusing the legal and ethical issue. Nobody has money taken from their pocket, downloading and stealing are not the same, but that doesn’t mean there are no effects.

If everyone downloads it and no one pays for it then while no one has had money taken from their pocket, no one has been paid for the work they did on it either.

Those were all for sharing music, not downloading music. Both may be infringements (of distribution versus reproduction rights) but the RIAA has only ever sued those that distributed. Most of their campaign specifically targeted people with files in their “shared folder” on Kazaa. No person that merely downloaded music on Kazaa was sued.

In Canada specifically, downloading has been ruled legal. See 2004 case BMG Canada Inc. v. John Doe where the judge ruled that downloading for private use did not constitute infringement. But Canadian copyright law has some unique differences to other countries when it comes to music.

  1. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the act of reproducing all or any substantial part of

(a) a musical work embodied in a sound recording,

(b) a performer’s performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or

(c) a sound recording in which a musical work, or a performer’s performance of a musical work, is embodied

onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the musical work, the performer’s performance or the sound recording.

Let’s just respect intellectual rights, if you downloaded a torrent and you like it go buy the cd/dvd/software whatever. If you don’t like it then don’t buy it.

For your research read the legal threats from PB

Things are not black and white. There has been some advantages too. When napster was sued it was proved that the losses to the Music Companies were not that big and there were positive side effects like higher selling of T-Shirts and, very especially, higher sales of concert tickets and so on.

Many musicians would like to leave their music free to the public but it is the record company whose not allowing it.

In Spain, where file downloading and sharing is really big, it has been proved that the sales have dropped because people have no cash, but the downloading rate has not increased.

The SGAE (The Spanish RIAA, so to say) wants to forbid this market because the ones that are losing money are them, not the the authors or singers (they only recieved a 0.5% of the cash collected by the copyright… all the rest is kept by the SGAE, even for international musicians).

To compensate for whatever I may download, I have to pay a tax on every single technology I buy (HDD, Ipods, Mobile Phones, etc) so prices are higher here.

This is like when the video tape recorder came out to the market. It may look like nobody would buy the movie because they had a recorded at home, or even two, and copy the movie but reality proved them wrong.

What my own main concern is, is that people are actually defaulting any torrent as being ‘bad’ or ‘copyright infringement’.
Wrong. At work here we use torrents on a daily basis to spread files efficiently across several offices. All files of which we are the copyright holders. In some countries running a torrent tracker is illegal…

I don’t consider piracy (via torrenting or any other means) to be stealing as such. However I still consider it unethical, or more to the point, illegal.

I don’t consider it stealing, as the owner of the content doesn’t actually lose anything by my copying it if I was never going to purchase it in the first place. I haven’t actually taken anything from them, I just haven’t given them something. It’s not like stealing something off a shelf in a shop despite what the videos you see before the DVD starts may say. Stealing a DVD off the shelf costs the original owner money for you to take it. Downloading something off the web only costs you and the person you are copying it from (via bandwidth/hosting costs).

None of this removes the fact that it is illegal and therefore unethical and so none of us should do it though.

IMO a good question for those of you who consider torrenting copyrighted content to be unethical is “if torrenting copyrighted content became legal would you still feel it unethical to do so?”.

Ethics and legality are often too different things. But I suspect in this case the values most people hold would change radically if the law changed, in which case their opinion is based more on the law than on ethics.

As long as I don’t see any conclusive evidence which links illegal file sharing to reduced sales, I find it very difficult to hold a negative, ethical stance against illegal file sharing.

Yeah, they have. Famous cases, typically to deter others from downloading music - and the fines were MASSIVE.

I don’t believe anyone actually got sued for downloading music.

You always see this huge cases where some guy is charged millions dollars for downloading a dozen of songs but the guy is almost always leaving the court with a smile on his face. Most of these cases are manufactured imho.

So I want a big house, but I can’t afford it, do I just steal one?

Bad analogy. Imagine you are a kid born in Africa. You have no perspective, no education, no money and no job. You are going to die from hunger very soon.

If you steal a piece of bread and a bottle of water in this situation, did you do the wrong thing?

If someone steals something from you and you then steal it back from him, is it still unethical?

Morality and ethics are relative. For every example of why stealing is unethical I can give you a counter example.

Of course it has to be illegal. If it were legal then sales would be reduced as there would be no incentive to purchase.

You also need to think about it from the viewpoint of the person who spent hours or even years of their time creating the file that someone has downloaded without provifing any sort of payment for it.

Also think about if from the viewpoint of those who do the right thing and purchase the files. They are paying extra for their purchase in order to cover the amount that may potentially lost through the file being available to be obtained free by people who may have otherwise paid for it. Whether or not there actually are sales lost due to the file being downloaded free by some people doesn’t stop the price being higher in order to allow for if such sales are lost.

There’s plenty of evidence that contradicts your assumptions here, but little that supports it coming from anyone but the RIAA and MPAA. Many bands, even some of the most well known, have offered their music for free (legally) or allowed fans to purchase it at their own price (including free if they choose). They made more money than they ever did through a record label selling the music “legally”, and the good will and exposure increased their more profitable concert sales.

See: Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band, Nine Inch Nails, Rancid, Coldplay…

Music files have zero marginal cost to produce and, unlike software, there are no associated costs like support and patches - the price people are willing to pay is going to tend towards zero for that no matter how hard you fight it. These famous bands and many others realize that already and are legally giving away those files. They make good money on direct sales of value-added products (limited edition discs and vinyls, memorabilia) and on concerts and licensing their music for commercial use. The fact that the digital files are free doesn’t cause them to increase their prices or to go broke.

I think that it definitely violates copyright for the respected mediums being distributed but it also helps promote the product being distributed. In effect it is both beneficial, especially to movies, music, software etc. that is not able to advertise itself as much, and also harms the industry with loss in revenue.

One specific torrent site has a “Content Distribution” system where content creators can have their content freely hosted and featured on the site’s main page, getting promoted to its millions of viewers.

It’s a slightly confused question here. What do you mean by circumventing copyright legislation? Downloading files via bittorrent does not circumvent anything. The same laws still apply to the person downloading/sharing. In reality, by using bittorrent, users are uploading whilst they download files, which is actually then distributing copyrighted files which can deliver higher penalties.

If you mean circumventing copy protection, as outlined in the WIPO treaties, then bittorrent does not do any technological circumvention - it avoids the copy protection completely as the file they download would have already had any copy protection removed before being shared.

(Sorry for being a bit pedantic there but I wrote a paper on the legislation and surrounding issues last year.)

As for my feelings on the subject - I’m slightly divided.
It annoys me that downloading an album or film is often likened to stealing as that is not the same, and the number of illegal downloads really does not have much correlation with lost sales. But at the same time artists, actors, directors and the like do need to be compensated for their work.

Somehow money needs to filter back to the people who produce the art or software, but as long as that does happen I am not morally opposed to downloading. If you buy the value added products, go to the cinema showings of films you like, go to live shows of bands you support, or even support them in other ways then I have no problem with you downloading. If, however, you are just ripping of artists, film makers and software developers and not expecting to pay anything for it then I see a problem.

To be honest, the entertainment industry has become bloated over the past couple of decades with far too many people involved in the “business” of it for my tastes, rather than in it for the love of it and feeling very lucky that they can make a living out of what they love. The problem, is that those bloated middlemen will be the last to go after the artists are the ones squeezed by rapidly reducing funds. The shake up will hopefully be good in the long term, but in the short term it is always the smaller independent labels and artists who suffer first and that is difficult.