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Old 2012-02-19, 18:45   #1
jasong
 
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Default Is "piracy" stealing?

Obviously, people tend to get hot-headed about this topic, which is the reason I'm putting it in the Soapbox.

On it's face, some people would very much consider it stealing, but there's a problem. The normal definition of stealing means someone has taken something from you and you don't have it anymore. But with torrenting nothing is being taken, it's just being copied. So is 99% of torrenting immoral, do we need to re-define what constitutes stealing?

In addition to the problem with definitions, there's the more subtle stuff. Let's say I want to go to the movies, but I want to make sure the movie isn't going to be a stinker. So I download a cam(a copy of the movie filmed in the theater by someone with a handheld video camera) and watch 20-30 minutes of the invariably shaky and bad quality footage to gauge whether or not I want to see the movie. Since I'm also uploading, I'm distributing the copies further along the chain. The RIAA wants me to think I'm doing something bad. But since I fully intend to watch a movie at the theater and am just deciding which one, am I really doing something bad by trying to make a better decision? And aren't the vast majority of the people I'm uploading to doing precisely the same thing?

Another example is playthroughs, which are recorded gaming sessions, many times with the player commentating over the game. Toby Turner has a gaming channel, which has a very loyal fan-base, myself included. Technically, Mr. Turner is breaking the law every time he uploads a playthrough. Should the gaming industry sue him for supposedly lost revenue, since people can watch his Youtube videos instead of buying the actual game?

Opinions?
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Old 2012-02-20, 03:43   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Should the gaming industry sue him for supposedly lost revenue, since people can watch his Youtube videos instead of buying the actual game?
There's a major difference between videos of a movie and videos of a game: a movie is nothing but a video, while a game is interactive. The game equivalent of a video of a movie would be something you can play that is identical to the real game. This could range from an imitation, to a remade engine that utilizes original models/textures, to a torrent of the game. Just like how movie piracy can be anything from a low-quality "cam" to an HD torrent, they're all illegal (I'm assuming the imitation/etc are such that they don't fall under fair use or simply a similar game).

Last fiddled with by Mini-Geek on 2012-02-20 at 03:45
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Old 2012-02-20, 15:49   #3
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Quote:
Opinions?
WWJD?

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Old 2012-02-21, 04:30   #4
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Here's the question, and I recently had someone convince me it was absolutely fundamental:

Worthwhile work is created at great cost (a good movie, P95, etc). How do we, as a society, ensure the creators get paid for something that costs nearly nothing to make a copy of, so they have an incentive to make more worthwhile things?
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Old 2012-02-21, 04:36   #5
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Could you please post the argument that convinced you it was fundamental? I suspect that it may change my answer.
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Old 2012-02-21, 07:20   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
WWJD?

Consideration of the question "What Would Jesus Do?" is one of the reasons I'm so damn angry at the content industry. On the one hand, we're not even allowed to make backup copies anymore because we MIGHT use it to steal videos, and on the other if we download the content because we just want to make sure we don't spend our money on crap the content industry thinks they have the right to sue us for an insane amount per actual copy.

That doesn't even begin to touch on the possibility that we might download something and then proceed to forget we had intended to watch it, which means we can be sued for having an illegal copy of something we didn't even manage to enjoy.
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Old 2012-02-22, 05:39   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
Could you please post the argument that convinced you it was fundamental? I suspect that it may change my answer.
I also think RIAA is in league with the devil and only out for themselves, and ought to be put in jail for pushing DRM. If they are losing money, it isn't pirates that are doing it...it's clinging to the old ways in the face of change. As an artist, do you really want to deal with companies that have admitted in court that they never gave an artist a straight accounting? That is, the RIAA is in the business of lying....

And it is fighting the democratisation of filmmaking, and fighting to keep the hollywood monopoly over the american movie screen, and the model where money trumps creativity due to the very high level of graphical polish. None of these goals is worthwhile -- the Roger Corman model is much smarter (make lots of movies for as little as possible, let the director try various experiments, the majority of which will fail...in return for a few smashing successes)

OK, here goes:

1) The cost of reproducing "stuff" is approaching zero, it's at the point where it's more expensive to decide what to reproduce than it is to actually reproduce it. I have lots of books in my house, and I've even read some of them, but all of them can be replaced for next to nothing. This is true for almost all recorded works, whether books, music, movies, patents, art (remember that picture-like painting guy?).

2) Copyright was a fairly reasonable way to keep things under control when the capital cost of copying equipment was reasonably high. If copying a movie meant having a photographic studio, those weren't found in every basement or study, so it could be controlled....but these days, there are no controls over the copying equipment...everybody has it.

3) The company I work for once upon a time sold AC variable frequency motor controls. To set one of these up, you need to have studied well in control theory, a third-year course at a good electrical (or mechanical, or chemical) engineering course. We would sell the first drive to a customer, and not be able to recover the cost of engineering that setup (well beyond the customers "engineers") because our customer would see the nameplate on the drive, look at the markup we had in there for engineering, and go directly to the drive manufacturer to buy copies #2 through 99 and simply clone the setup.

4) Yes, some art can be given away for free...but this is only because the artists have other means of support. That is, it's great that P95 gives away Prime95, but he is able to do it (on an investment of a round million dollars or so to make it work) because he has some other means of financial support.

5) I know plenty of struggling musicians...and actors... they are all very good, and work hard, but have a very tough time making any money off their music...even when it's great music.

***************
So the question is:
How do we properly compensate those that make the complicated stuff that we use and enjoy, when reproducing it costs less than it does to decide it is worth reproducing? If we don't, then there will be little incentive to produce the nice stuff we all enjoy...and we can't expect all those capable of doing these things to do them for the sheer joy of it, especially given the resources sometimes required.

**************
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Old 2012-02-24, 19:02   #8
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Think on this, if you have a DVR and record the Superbowl and then use that recording to post a spectacular play online, it's legally an infringement, but what if you were AT the game and recorded that same play on your phone, would the same rules apply?
One of the problems with piracy on the internet, is how do you determine guilt? Is it the person who performs the piracy and initially posts it? Is it the web host that the aforementioned person uses to post it? Is it the people who view(youtube)/download(torrent) it? Do all of the people listed above share the same level of responsibility?
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Old 2012-02-25, 02:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcp19 View Post
Think on this, if you have a DVR and record the Superbowl and then use that recording to post a spectacular play online, it's legally an infringement, but what if you were AT the game and recorded that same play on your phone, would the same rules apply?
One of the problems with piracy on the internet, is how do you determine guilt? Is it the person who performs the piracy and initially posts it? Is it the web host that the aforementioned person uses to post it? Is it the people who view(youtube)/download(torrent) it? Do all of the people listed above share the same level of responsibility?
Here again...the game cost a cool several millions to put on...and those that spent the $$ to put it on have some right to determine the rules on what is done with the material produced using those millions of $$. That is, they have to be able to make some money at doing this, so they will make another superbowl, assuming making superbowls with spectacular plays is worthwhile. (RDS might not agree that the superbowl is worthwhile, and I might agree with RDS...but this is a creative work, and it takes resources, so, somehow, the creators need to be compensated)

Now, it costs next to nothing to make that "copy" of the play....the video, by whatever means, whether or not someone paid for your seat at the game. A short video from your live cellphone, or from ESPN, it seems to me, should count as "fair use"...until millions of people started watching it on the internet...or it becomes the whole game instead of the single great play....or until you charge a bar full of people to watch it...or just fill up the bar with paying customers because it is on the telly...

The Grateful Dead band took an interesting approach to this...they started making available all their live recordings, unmixed, for anyone who wanted to hear what their concerts sounded like, for purchase at a reasonable price.

What happens when money starts changing hands, or a lot of resources, that *should* be up to the copyright owners....subject to the limitation that the purpose of copyright is to allow the creators to make a profit, not to prevent material which is otherwise broadcast from being distributed.

The trouble with that idealistic model is, you will find yourself with the viral video being played millions of times, and no way for to collect the small fee from each viewer as the creator's agent. Even if you felt guilty, where would you send the money? This is true even for that cruddy little youtube video of your stupid little brother you made last year....for which you ought to get paid if everyone else's little brother recognises him.

*************
Not that broadcast TV and radio haven't conditioned us, by having advertisers pay, that we shouldn't have to shell out for content. To some degree, chasing the biggest audience has poisoned the content...seen anything worthwhile on "free" broadcast TV lately?
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Old 2012-02-27, 04:34   #10
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Well, the content creaters continue to piss on themselves by continuing to try to make money from artificial scarcity. If I can't find a legal copy of The Walking Dead's latest episode hours after it's shown on tv because I overslept, guess where I'm going to go.
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Old 2012-02-27, 13:05   #11
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I think the problem with this topic is that there is a grey area the size of a large herd of elephants.

If I was asked is piracy stealing I would have to say yes. Taking something without permission or right is stealing. Whether we like it or not the movie companies have not specified a "try before you buy" policy and unless they do downloading a copy is therefore wrong.

On a personal note though, the prices of these products is always on the rise and very often the production companies are making millions from average joes who don't have a lot of money to spend and they very often don't care that the movie they produce if it is substandard is still being sold at a premium rate. I believe there should be a "try before you buy" option.

I have a few friends who do download copies of the movies although they walk that fine line of morality. One friend in particular will watch a movie at the cinema and if he likes it and is going to buy the DVD will download a copy to tide him over until the release date. It could be argued that he is stealing but for every downloaded movie he has already purchased a cinema ticket and is guaranteed to buy a DVD. He would make a great argument for the argument that piracy is not wrong, but for every one of him there are probably a significant number who will never contribute. And if no-one makes a stand and the problem becomes commonplace then there is a risk to those who produce these things.

For me, with my third kid busy munching through the paltry remains of my salary I have opted to just simply be a bit more patient. I used to download copies but found the process slow, annoying and a higher risk of some annoying virus popping onto my pc and requiring me to waste time clearing it out. And to be honest I did feel a little bit guilty.

So I simply wait for it to get shown on my movie channels. I have Sky in the UK and for the most part they end up showing the movies pretty quickly. I have found that once you get into the cycle of being 6 months behind the release dates you barely notice! Plus I get the quiet satisfaction of knowing that the movie companies get a fraction of the money out of me that they could have.
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