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Culture of Indifference Fuels Software Piracy Market


Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course
Posted: July 6, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

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Last week Robert Holleyman, the CEO of the Business Software Alliance, published on op-ed article in the Mercury News. This article started by asking what the negative impact for the automotive industry would be on the incentive to innovate if 4 out of 10 automobiles were stolen right off the dealer’s lots rather than purchased. Holleyman went on to explain that this is exactly what is happening in the software industry today, with 43 percent of software being pirated in 2009, which is up 2 percentage points from 2008.

About three weeks ago Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE: RST), a leading provider of technology-based language-learning solutions, announced that the company had reached settlements in cases against ten individuals for copyright and trademark infringement. These individuals pirated software, including the unauthorized copying, downloading, sharing and selling of counterfeit Rosetta Stone® language learning software.  These Rosetta Stone® settlements are important because they demonstrate that software piracy is not just a problem in developing nations, but is also a problem in the United States as well.

Rosetta Stone reached settlements against:

  • Alex Ryken, Gayville, SD
  • Almando Boochoon, Jamaica, NY
  • Farid Feizian, Lutherville, MD
  • Jeremy Tate, Dunlap, TN
  • Joseph Biggerstaff, Louisville, KY
  • Lawrence Jeanette Ota, Fairborn, OH
  • Mark Dashiak, Bellmawr, NJ
  • Mark Parker, Lithonia, GA
  • Scott Easom, Lindale, TX
  • Undisclosed Company, Madison, AL and Czech Republic

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Holleyman’s article:

Nearly eight in 10 programs installed on PCs in China are unlicensed. In India, it’s nearly two-thirds. In Mexico, it’s six in 10. In Brazil, it’s more than half. The commercial value of unlicensed PC software in those four countries — all prominent members of the G-20 — came to nearly $13 billion last year. Globally, the figure was more than $51 billion.

Rosetta Stone CEO, Tom Adams, and eleven other CEOs, including Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, and Enrique Salem of Symantec, recently met with members of the Obama administration and member of Congress in Washington DC to discuss bolstering intellectual property protection both domestically and overseas. These high level meetings as well as robust industry enforcement of intellectual property rights demonstrate a continued commitment to fighting software piracy and strengthening intellectual property laws.  But is the Business Software Alliance and its membership fighting a losing battle?  Sadly it seems so, but why?

The Business Software Alliance explains software piracy in this way:

Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software. When you purchase software, you are actually purchasing a license to use it, not the actual software. The license is what tells you how many times you can install the software. If you make more copies of the software than the license permits, you are breaking the law. Whether you are copying, downloading, sharing, selling, or installing multiple copies of software onto personal or work computers, you are committing software piracy.

It is hard to imagine today that consumers don’t understand what constitutes piracy, particularly after more than a decade of aggressive enforcement, and in some cases over-enforcement, of copyrights in music by the Recording Industry Association of America.  But the reality is that pirated software is cheap, or even free, which is hard for many individuals and companies to pass up.

The reality is that individuals and companies fuel the piracy market.  Simply stated, if there were no demand there would be no supply, so it is quite disingenuous for us to only point the finger at the supplier, but rather we ought to acknowledge that there is plenty of blame to go around, which may be a hard pill to swallow.  And while there may an intellectual distinction between sharing software or music with a friend or family member, there exists a cultural indifference that borders on contempt for the rights of creators.  That is why if you are a creator and you rely only on the weak protection provided by copyrights you are going to be enormously dissatisfied in most cases with your protection, but that is a different story for a different day.

Those who fuel the piracy market foolishly look to only the initial cost when they make decisions, failing to appropriately take long term costs into consideration or simply ignoring them altogether.  Famously right now we are witnessing a textbook case of the perils of a myopic view in the Gulf of Mexico.  In a desperate attempt to get the oil rig online and pumping British Petroleum ignored safety concerns and damaged equipment, apparently with full knowledge that if a worst case scenario occurred they would not be able to stop oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.  So in order to reap revenue faster safety and equipment concerns were ignored, which in the long run will cost BP many billions of dollars that they will have to pay out to those injured, and still the well is not producing revenue.  Talk about penny wise and pound foolish! For more see BP’s Safety Problems Began Long Before the Oil Spill and BP’s internal investigation of oil spill: Several ‘warning signs’ were ignored.

But this myopic view is not something limited to large companies that are only concerned with profits.  It is a problem that to some extent many if not most suffer from, and where the rubber meets the road for many is with respect to ignoring copyrights, whether it be in music or software.

According to Michael Wu, general counsel of Rosetta Stone. “Pirated software is likely to contain spyware, which can steal personal and confidential information, and may cause operational failures from viruses or malware.”  Rosetta Stone, therefore, urges individuals to verify that a seller is authorized to sell the program and to report piracy of Rosetta Stone products or inquire about the legitimacy of Rosetta Stone products before they purchase.  Consumers are urged to call the Business Software Alliance Anti-Piracy Hotline at 1-888-667-4722 with questions or to report piracy.

In addition to the billions of dollars in lost revenue each and every year to those that create software, we all should be worried about the viruses, malware and use of pirated software to collect confidential information.  Is the risk losing your identity really worth getting software for little or no cost?  Is the risk of succumbing to viruses and malware really worth getting software for little or no cost?  Getting a virus or losing confidential information will in the long run cost you tremendously through loss of productivity and out-of-pocket costs associated with fixing the problem, but yet many are penny wise and pound foolish, failing to take into consideration the long run costs associated with their actions.

Perhaps it is naive to think that in the absence of piracy these large companies would reinvest the monies they are losing into increased research and development, resulting in better software and more innovation.  What is, however, true is that small companies suffer from piracy and a lack of respect for their copyrights just the same as companies like Rosetta Stone and Microsoft.  The difference is small companies and individuals who are creating cannot sustain in the face of widespread piracy, so a culture of piracy does quite clearly negatively impact innovation and resulting better products, and that is enormously problematic.

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Posted in: Computers, Copyright, Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Software, Trademark, US Economy

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

61 comments
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  1. There are three things I would like to mention in regards to this.

    First, it turns out that people who pirate don’t do so for the money. I watched a 60 minutes special once where they offered some huge sum of money to homeless people with “will work for food signs” to mow a lawn, and only 1 in 12 showed up. It would appear, and they claimed, that their problem was that they couldn’t find work, but when it was time to put their money where there mouth was, they didn’t walk the walk. The same thing is happening with software piracy. People assume, and it appears that they pirate because it is cheaper, but that is not the only reason, and probably not the main reason.

    A software company that made computer games decided to do a big charity fund raiser, and offered all their games, along with games from other companies that wanted to volunteer for as much as you wanted to pay, and as little as $0.01. Within hours, people were busy zapping it around bit torrent sites and other P2P sites. Not only was it for charity, but it was as close to free as you can get. You might expect some people to pirate those games because they didn’t want to, or couldn’t use a credit card, even for $0.01, but the download rates for the pirated games was close to 40% of the paid rate. They decided to allow people to download the games for free to stop the pirating, but it didn’t slow down the pirated rate.

    Why were they pirating when they could get the games initially for one cent, and later for free, when all the money even when to charity? Clearly, money was not a factor there. Sure, some big name products like MS Office, Adobe suites, and Rosetta Stone that cost hundreds of dollars may be being pirated because of the cost, especially by college students who need the programs if they want to work from home, but don’t have the cash to pay for the license because they are on loans or using money from their parents, but the majority of software, and certainly cheaper software, is probably pirated for other reasons.

    Some of those reasons include hacking, which is how viruses and other malware get into the pirated software, but usually it will be a “beneficial” hack that will allow players to cheat at online games, access hidden or locked features, or otherwise use the software in a way that it wasn’t intended. The reasons are many, but blaming the price tag is missing the bigger picture.

    Secondly, for those people who do have issues with the price tag, there are usually open source programs available for free that are legal and can do many if not all of the same functions that people require. Sometimes these programs are even better than the paid ones, but most people still don’t use them. The kinds of open source programs that have received wide adoption are the ones that replace the really high price programs like Open Office, Gimp, and Audacity. If price where the only concern, people would be using a lot more open source programs.

    Finally, figures on the total amount of revenue lost by pirating is misleading and doesn’t mean anything. Those numbers only represent the amount of money that would have been paid if those people who pirated the software had actually paid, but since most of the ones who pirate for money do so because they are unwilling or unable to pay, it makes sense that they never would have bought the program anyways whether or not they could pirate it. That money wasn’t “lost” because the pirates had no intention of paying in the first place.That isn’t reason to pirate, but don’t buy into the sob stories of the money that lost, because it wasn’t. They made exactly the same amount of money they would have made even if there were no pirating. A few people may have paid, but then again, they wouldn’t have had to waste money securing their software and paying legal fees, so I would say it is a wash.

    -Andrew

  2. Two things:

    1) Gene, thank you for using the proper terms when talking about this issue, instead of the incorrect terms of theft and stealing used by the BSA president. Words are important, and even though “piracy” is a silly term, it’s clear you’re not talking about taking over ships, but no distinction exists when the words “theft” and “stealing” are used. It would be better if you didn’t include the “stealing cars off of the lot” analogy, since the problem isn’t stealing CDs and DVDs from stores, but I appreciate your careful use of words.

    2) Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the BSA overstates the power of software licenses. A software license doesn’t have the power to make you do whatever the software manufacturer wants. For example, you almost certainly have the right to make a personal backup copy of any software you buy, and no software license can take that right away from you.

  3. I would say one issue is that the pricing is fairly universal. Software to be distributed worldwide is generally priced for the American market. In the European market it usually has VAT and other taxes added and brought up to the next psychological price point, often leading the price in USD to be roughly the same in GBP and Euros (i.e. $200 software costs €200). For these markets, it often works well, but it isn’t always reasonable in markets like China. Giving cultural based prices could cause some difficulties, especially with the relative ease of international travel and the internet. The only other option left is pricing for the least common denominator. However, this may result in lower profits overall. Assuming the same number of users exists in both scenarios and distribution costs are negligible, $20 a copy with 0% piracy is worse than $200 with 80% piracy. Aggressive policing of these countries would do very little to improve sales because the prices aren’t reasonable for them, and the end result would be setting these countries back, which is contrary to copyright”s purpose of advancing society. I suppose, however, that this could also result in these countries tending towards gratis alternatives, often open source, which many members of the BSA would probably consider worse than 100% piracy in these markets. The interesting thing is that open source software would allow them to build a competitive software infrastructure, which WOULD advance these countries considerably by allow them to have home grown software and a more mature software industry.

  4. Context – I support creators’ rights, and the need for significant reform. If we are to argue successfully for change, however, we must do so with clarity.

    Quoting the BSA, ” If you make more copies of the software than the license permits, you are breaking the law.”
    What law specifically? Are you sure it’s not more accurate to say “… you are breaking the implied contract between the software publisher and you.”?

    Let’s be careful not to cast this as an hysterical law-and-order issue, or no one will take the argument seriously. “Poor software publishers are being beaten and raped!” doesn’t cut it. Collectively, the software, music and movie industries are extremely wealthy (some would say obscenely wealthy). Why can’t they protect their own contractual interests?

    I do not want my tax dollars spent proposing, enacting and enforcing ineffecitive laws (e.g. DMCA) to bolster one side in contract law disputes between suppliers and consumers. That’s for contract law and the civil courts, not the criminal justice system.

    Quoting your blog, “Famously right now we are witnessing a textbook case of the perils of a myopic view in the Gulf of Mexico.”

    Colorful, but specious. Next you’ll be telling us that software and music piracy are killing polar bears? Let’s stick to the point.

    Malware risks are not limited to unauthorized copies of software. Web page drive-by downloads are rampant. We should also be asking software publishers, Microsoft most of all, why they have sold us products that permit this level of attack.

    Let’s keep it rational.
    Anon.

  5. Anony-

    You ask: “What law specifically? Are you sure it’s not more accurate to say “… you are breaking the implied contract between the software publisher and you.”?”

    Copyright law. The creators of software have copyrights and the license they provide describes the rights the individual is obtaining. So those rights that are not obtained in the bargain remain with the owner of the copyright. So when they give you a license to use on up to 3 computers you would violate their copyrights if you use on 4 or more computers. You would also be engaging in breach of contract.

    So it is not accurate to say there is an “implied contract.” There is an explicit contract and definable rights granted.

    You say: “Next you’ll be telling us that software and music piracy are killing polar bears? Let’s stick to the point.”

    Allow me to ask you to add 2 and 2. What is 2 + 2? Would you say 2 + 2 = elephant? That largely seems the type of irrational thinking you are engaging in. Please try and keep your comments and analysis real and honest.

    -Gene

  6. Gene,

    I say:

    Let’s get rid of “software” (whatever that means) patents altogether.

    Let’s get rid of copyrights as they pertain to “software” (again, whatever that means).

    With these reforms enacted we would then to finally be able to create a utopian world where innovation would flourish and all manner of new separate, distinct, and utilitarian products would issue forth.

    MLS

    PS – I neglected to mention that all of these new, innovative companies that will arise must necessarily be managed solely by academic experts. After all, it is they who have the wisdom to achieve this utopian world. If you do not believe me, then simply ask them.

  7. Prior to the time of the Ipod, the recording industry was plagued by pirated CD’s and cassette tapes, which could be purchased at urban flea markets all over the country. Unfortunately, in the computer age, piracy has gotten a lot more anonymous and a lot easier.

  8. Why do people “pirate/steal?” To get something for free that would otherwise cost money. Why does transferable media (software, music, video, videogames, written and drawn arts, etc) cost money? Because they cost money to create, distribute, and produce. The difference between stealing transferable media, and physical media is non existent, and only a strawman perception put forth to achieve deniability on the part of the thieves that engage in intellectual property theft.

    Here’s the crux – when an intellectual creation (music, film, book, poem, software program, etc) comes to fruition, there’s only one way it can be shared, and profited from: in recorded copy. Whether it’s on paper (poem, book, architectural schematic, etc) on tape or record album (spoken, sang, or instrumentally, etc), any creator of intellectual or mind originated property by necessity needs a media type upon which these ideas can be transferred in order to exist. Key on those last four words: In Order To Exist, intellectual property HAS to be on some sort of transferable media, otherwise it would only persist in the mind, and be non transferable. Whether or not the original creator/owner wants to share this creation beyond it’s initial copy (from the brain, to the recorded media) is up to them, but generally we like to share our creations for personal fulfillment and a sense of achievement, and pride.

    So now to the media phase. We’ve had paper (or it’s like) for centuries, and more recently record albums, tapes, photographs, compact discs, all the way up to modern flash drives and downloadable digital content. But it should be emphasized again: without these transferable media, the creations simply could not exist in a shareable form. This is where intellectual property subjects itself to the whims of thieves.

    Now for some real world perspective on the differences between the transferable media, and the original creation itself. Pirates think that if they buy a DVD movie, download some iTunes, or purchase a music CD that they have taken ownership, and can whimsically share it, undaunted by copyright and intellectual property laws. And where they fail in their defense is that when making a purchase (with the intent to illegally share copies) they think that they own a copy, and the reality is: they don’t even own that. What do they “own?” Lol – whatever piece of plastic or silicone the digital code resides on, an agreed upon license to keep it to themselves, and nothing more.

    That might come as a shock to some, but it’s true. You don’t “own” a copy of anything – the persons sharing the media own it. I always get a kick out of people who use the term “collect” when referring to their videogames, music CD’s etc, because the idea that you are collecting music or games is ludicrous. In fact, you’re only collecting the media it’s transferred upon. Shocking, right? That you don’t even own a COPY of these products? It’s the truth.

    Logic Bomb: It takes money, sometimes millions of dollars to create, and share an original idea or ideas, and the only way it can be done is on media that can be copied, otherwise, it doesn’t exist.

    So how would a pirate argue this logic? Well, they can’t really. They’re thieves. And the sheer arrogance of thinking they “own” these ideas and can share them at will is breathtakingly ignorant. The idea/creation couldn’t exist upon anything other than transferable media, and sure as hell, they didn’t spend the time and effort to create anything. If they did, they’d be making the profits from it. After all, it wasn’t the pirate who created the movie Avatar, was it? How else could Avatar exist, except on transferable media? What if the creators just kept it in their minds? How much did Avatar cost to create, and to share? Should the creators not exclusively reap the rewards for their toil? Of course they should – and the same goes for publishing companies that finance these intellectual projects. They’re the ones that make it a reality, to be imbibed by our eyes and ears – strange that intellectual media can only be enjoyed by those two senses, isn’t it (except in the case of written word braille)? Neither of those senses requires the physical touch – just the necessary transferable media it’s imprinted upon.

    Our eyes and ears are the direct gateway to our minds – whilst the created works themselves come directly from ones hands and motor abilities as well. Their work, their toil, and when you reproduce something that could only ever have been reproduceable in order to exist, you’re a common criminal, period.

  9. Software Piracy is a lack of respect, with availability making it desirable. Free-of-charge is not the only desirable reason as already mentioned, it is the act of getting away with something as well. “Culture of Indifference” …may work both ways. Piracy doesn’t happen to just proprietary software as the number of settlements over open source GPL code over the past years, make that clear.

    Claims and a lack of respect are two different things, both though potentially with the implication of piracy. While any implication is just an assertion; it is the lack of any balance between claim and respect that piracy seems to be defined today. Earlier in United States history, we had the gold rush, claims were made as fast as printing presses could run while a loss of respect , had many fighting long before any gold was removed from the claimed ground.

    Keeping this short, I welcome the opportunity to address the balance I see lacking today in the USPTO, between patent claims and the lack respect for the non-patenting developments, with an email about the USPTO’s Strategic Plan details, Available for Public Comment.

  10. @Doug
    ” The difference between stealing transferable media, and physical media is non existent, and only a strawman perception put forth to achieve deniability on the part of the thieves that engage in intellectual property theft.”
    No, copyright infringement and theft have huge technical, legal, and ethical differences. Copyright infringement makes a copy while leaving the original intact. In addition to being covered under completely different laws, copyright infringement is generally a civil matter while theft is a criminal matter. The damage caused by, and those how ethically ‘wrong’ copyright infringement is by the most inflated estimates the retail price save the distribution costs, and by some estimates, causes no harm or even causes benefits.

    “Here’s the crux – when an intellectual creation (music, film, book, poem, software program, etc) comes to fruition, there’s only one way it can be shared, and profited from: in recorded copy.”
    Are you insane? Music and theater can be performed live, and narratives can be passed on by the oral tradition, and money can be made from all of these, although these performances are generally not protected by copyright.

    You also greatly misrepresent the copyright system, at least from the American and English versions. Copyright works by TEMPORARILY removing SOME rights from the public and giving them to authors on the assumption that this leads to more works produced for the public to use and enjoy. Authors don’t have a natural right to anything disclosed to the public, and if you want to apply property metaphors, the best one is that authors are merely renting the works they’ve created. What authors have is a legal grant of exclusive rights, a subsidy, or a government handout if you want to be particularly cynical.

  11. @Bobby And you’re putting forth the exact strawman argument I stated, that you justify it with “..copy while leaving the original intact.” and semantic like civil vs criminal penalties. You purosely avoided my point that the “copy” you mention is NOT OF YOUR CREATION. You didn’t create the copy any more than you created the original work, and the only right you have to your “copy” is to utilize it for yourself – not share something you in fact do not own.

    “Are you insane? Music and theater can be performed live, and narratives can be passed on by the oral tradition, and money can be made from all of these” – your maniacal quote.

    So am I to glean from this juxtaposition you are now in fact saying “Don’t record if you don’t want it stolen, and don’t record if you don’t want to profit from sharing en’ masse?” What a jerk.

    Listen: the act of bringing a marketable creation to life involves some sort of trade-set, skill or ability that you don’t possess. Answer this question directly, please: describe for us how someone is supposed to realize an intellectual creation without recording it onto a stealable, transferable media in order to market to consumers or publishing groups. After you answer that, explain what the difference is between stealing a copy of something intangible (like music, or a movie) that you didn’t pay money to create, produce, or distribute, vs stealing a copy of a car that you didn’t pay any money to create, produce, distribute.

    And your wrong about Authors – some contractually maintain exclusive rights to their intellectual works, having full control of publishing and distribution rights.

    Now stop dancing around the reality of it with inane citations of copyright law, and criminal vs civil law, please. Saying “Authors don’t have a natural right to anything disclosed to the public” is flat out false, and the epitome of the cliche’ flim-flam you guys tell yourselves to sleep better at night. They often own exclusive rights to their creations – it came out of their brains, onto your hard drive/CD/DVD/flash card, etc and relinquishing yourself of the obligation to buy a license to peruse for personal use is flat out theft, no matter how you want to spin it. Are gonna honestly tell me George Lucas doesn’t own exclusive rights to Star Wars properties?? And in cases where a publisher owns the rights – THEY PAID FORM THEM. Any work by artists done on their behalf is strictly contractual.

    But here’s the REAL kicker: Pirates often espouse “sharing” (of something they don’t own, lol) stolen media as being their goal, out of the good of their hearts they make millions of people who don’t want to pay for what they don’t own very happy. But guess what? You guys like sharing? Then try this: What if record companies offered a temporary licensing fee for people who want to “share” their copy with everyone else, let’s say… $1,000 to distribute up to 500 copies of the new music they just bought/downloaded – how many “sharing, caring pirates/thieves” do you think would jump on that? Because here’s the deal: when a musical group spends hundreds of thousands on studio recordings, gear, gas for their trucks, guitar strings, replacement amp tubes, roadie salaries, replacement parts and instruments, etc and on and on, not to mention the rehearsals, the creative process etc, they also get to share their music – for a fee.

    It takes millions to operate a pro band, or a movie project. Just because the media it’s imprinted on is reproducible gives you no rights whatsoever regarding cutting in on it’s distribution rights. Explain to us where you think you or anyone else has a right to cut into those profits by illegally “sharing” (oh, it’s so heartwarming…) when you did precisely JACK to contribute to it’s original creation?

  12. “You purosely avoided my point that the “copy” you mention is NOT OF YOUR CREATION. ”
    I’m saying it isn’t stealing. I’m not saying it isn’t illegal. There are thousands of things that aren’t legal besides stealing. Why don’t you compare it to trespassing, rape, murder, or jaywalking?

    “So am I to glean from this juxtaposition you are now in fact saying “Don’t record if you don’t want it stolen, and don’t record if you don’t want to profit from sharing en’ masse?” What a jerk. ”
    No, I’m saying that recorded copies aren’t the only way creative works are made profitable. Most bands don’t even make money from their records, they make their money from live shows, and records are effectively a promotional tool.

    “Are gonna honestly tell me George Lucas doesn’t own exclusive rights to Star Wars properties??”
    He has the rights now, but Star Wars is going to be in the public domain for a much longer time than it will be in control of the Lucas estate. Having something that will eventually be returned to someone else is what renting is. I can do whatever I want with the works of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Goethe, and most of the other works created throughout human history. In another decade, assuming that Disney doesn’t screw the public out of what they deserve yet again, Steamboat Willie will be in the public domain as well.

    And to be clear, I’m not saying that copyright infringement is good or justified, and I’m certainly not claiming that it’s legal (although some filesharing might fall under fair use), what I’m saying is that US copyright explicitly exists for the benefit of the public, not the artists. Protecting authors is a means to an end, and If the public isn’t getting a good deal for the rights they temporarily give up (which many people would argue is this case), then the laws regarding copyright need to be changed.

  13. @Bobby Your quote: “I’m saying it isn’t stealing. I’m not saying it isn’t illegal. There are thousands of things that aren’t legal besides stealing. Why don’t you compare it to trespassing, rape, murder, or jaywalking?”

    And so the Onus is on you to explain how multiplying and giving away someone else’s property isn’t stealing, since YOU DON’T OWN THE IP.

    Your quote: “No, I’m saying that recorded copies aren’t the only way creative works are made profitable. Most bands don’t even make money from their records, they make their money from live shows, and records are effectively a promotional tool.”

    Exasperating… sigh, okay, jackass – It didn’t used to be that way, the CD sales used to be divided more equitably between the publishing co (record company) and the artist, so… I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the most drastic change to how music is imbibed has been in the last 25 years. I’ve read dozens of interviews (including Maynard James Keenan, Pete Loeffler, and Shaun Morgan) where they espouse their disgust for Piracy. Bands these days have to play over 300 shows per year just to turn a profit, about twice the average of tour dates from bands in the 80’s, and it’s largely because 100’s of thousands of users are illegally depriving their publishers of the profits necessary to recoup the multimillion dollar musician touring industry – that’s right: the record companies finance those tours, Jackass.

    And George Lucas own an estate…Jackass… which means it may NEVER fall into public domain, except if and when the company becomes unprofitable for it’s inheritors, and at their behest, is relinquished into public domain. I’m starting to think you’re not sensible enough to carry on this discussion, as you still haven’t addressed any of my cogent, factual points.

  14. @Bobby Your quote: “I’m saying it isn’t stealing. I’m not saying it isn’t illegal. There are thousands of things that aren’t legal besides stealing. Why don’t you compare it to trespassing, rape, murder, or jaywalking?”

    And so the Onus is on you to explain how multiplying and giving away someone else’s property isn’t stealing, since YOU DON’T OWN THE IP.

    Your quote: “No, I’m saying that recorded copies aren’t the only way creative works are made profitable. Most bands don’t even make money from their records, they make their money from live shows, and records are effectively a promotional tool.”

    Exasperating… sigh, okay, jackass – It didn’t used to be that way. First: bands tour to promote record sales, not vice versa – are you friggin’ serious here?!? The CD sales used to be divided more equitably between the publishing co (record company) and the artist, so… I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the most drastic change to how music is imbibed has been in the last 25 years. I’ve read dozens of interviews (including Maynard James Keenan, Pete Loeffler, and Shaun Morgan) where they espouse their disgust for Piracy. Bands these days have to play over 300 shows per year just to turn a profit, about twice the average of tour dates from bands in the 80’s, and it’s largely because 100’s of thousands of users are illegally depriving their publishers of the profits necessary to recoup the multimillion dollar musician touring industry – that’s right: the record companies finance those tours, Jackass.

    And George Lucas own an estate…Jackass… which means it may NEVER fall into public domain, except if and when the company becomes unprofitable for it’s inheritors, and at their behest, is relinquished into public domain. I’m starting to think you’re not sensible enough to carry on this discussion, as you still haven’t addressed any of my cogent, factual points.

  15. @And so the Onus is on you to explain how multiplying and giving away someone else’s property isn’t stealing, since YOU DON’T OWN THE IP.
    The two things are quite easy to differentiate, but I’ll go into more detail for you
    Technically: You aren’t directly depriving the owner of anything. There is a difference between taking and acquiring.
    Legally: if copyright infringement were theft, the RIAA wouldn’t send nasty letter, it’s send warrants
    Ethically: the maximum damages caused is the price less distribution and production costs. Let’s say a CD costs $10, and $1 is what it takes to make the CD, and for simplicity’s sake let’s say the CDs are available directly from the artist. If someone steals a CD, the artist loses $10. If someone illegally downloads the CD, the artist loses $9. Losing $9 is less bad than losing $10, and this hypothetical is extremely generous to the artist.

    “Exasperating… sigh, okay, jackass – It didn’t used to be that way. First: bands tour to promote record sales, not vice versa – are you friggin’ serious here?!? The CD sales used to be divided more equitably between the publishing co (record company) and the artist, so… I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the most drastic change to how music is imbibed has been in the last 25 years”
    For starters, I want to say that CDs were not the leading format until about 1990, and more importantly, I’m pretty sure that even when there was more equitable shares of record sales (that in itself is a bit questionable), records themselves were not the biggest source of income for anyone but the top of the top sellers. Also, a recent GAO report suggested there is no solid evidence that piracy has hurt the music industry, and it’s possible that it may have helped many artists and the industry as a whole.

    “And George Lucas own an estate…Jackass… which means it may NEVER fall into public domain, except if and when the company becomes unprofitable for it’s inheritors, and at their behest, is relinquished into public domain. I’m starting to think you’re not sensible enough to carry on this discussion, as you still haven’t addressed any of my cogent, factual points.”
    I’m starting to think you don’t have a basic understanding of how copyright works. If the copyright for Star Wars is in Lucas’s name and copyright law doesn’t change, it will be in the public domain 70 years after his death, regardless of how much money his estate is making off of it. If it’s considered a corporate work, it’s 95 years after publication, I believe. You see, the constitution states that Congress can give authors and inventors exclusive rights to their works for a LIMITED time.

  16. @Bobby Your quote: “The two things are quite easy to differentiate, but I’ll go into more detail for you
    Technically: You aren’t directly depriving the owner of anything. There is a difference between taking and acquiring.”

    You’re not getting away with that crap here, Bobby – please, for once in your life, answer directly: many products in this world are duplicated, and mass produced from a singular template, which originates as a design concept that is marketable to millions of people with no differences in design.

    Cars: if you purchased a specific product run (such as the first line of ’09 Honda Accord) you bought the SAME EXACT CAR (let’s say, the LX Sedan) as millions of others. The original design concept for the Accord was conceived by a group of people working in concert to make an idea a real, physical product, that could be duplicated and sold by Honda Corporation, for whom the original designers were contracted, or otherwise paid to do so at Honda Corporations cost to to mass produce. This makes the owner of the Honda Accord product Honda Corporation, because they funded/contracted the designers/creators to make the Accord exist. The original creative team behind the Accord wouldn’t have the capital to mass produce the car themselves, after all. It would cost them billions to build the factories necessary to recreate the car, so it makes more sense for them to work for Honda as a creative team, and reap the benefits thereof.

    A group of people, usually in a group contracted or otherwise also paid by Honda Corporation in a department designated usually as “The Marketing” team. Their job is to decide how best to present the product to the public for consumption, and typically involves duplicates of the automobile, and sometimes the creators themselves for press purposes and meet-and-greets, being transported to various locations for promotional purposes, such as Automotive or Car Shows, and often to “test sites” where automotive magazines (who are in turn paid by THEIR owners/publishers) to offer insight into the product for the public to peruse, and consider purchasing.

    Thousands of people are then employed at factories to build specific product lines, or varying versions of the original design, and when completed, are inspected, then transported to a variety of dealerships to be sold to the public at large. These Dealers then sell the car, usually earning for the product owner (in this case Honda Corporation) the MSRP, while the dealers capitalize on a higher sticker price to profit from the actual sale, including a commission for the specific salesperson, and to cover their own costs (employees, floor space, the display of promotional materials, etc) . The Accord line was the biggest selling automobile in 2009.

    Music: if you purchase a specific music product (such as Kings Of Leon’s new compilation, titled Only By the Night), you purchased THE SAME EXACT PRODUCT as millions of others. The original design concept for Only By the Night was conceived by a group of people to make a real, physical product (that can be consumed by our ears, and eyes) that could be duplicated and sold by RCA, for whom the original creators/designers were contracted, or otherwise paid to do so at RCA Corporation’s cost to produce for mass consumption. This makes RCA Corporation the owner, because they funded/contracted the original designers/creators to make Only By The Night exist. The original creative team behind Only By The Night wouldn’t have the capital to mass produce CDs, and it would cost them millions to recreate their music for live audiences, including trucks, instruments, live sound gear, roadies, lightshows, special effects necessary for the compilation to be promoted. It makes more sense for the original creators to work for RCA and reap the benefits thereof.

    A marketing team, paid by RCA Corporation then decides how best to present the product (Only By The Night) to the public for mass consumption, which typically involves duplicates of the compilation, and often times the original creators themselves to be auditioned to the press, to greet spectators, and to be transported to various locations for promotional purposes, such as a “showcase” where music magazines (who are in turn paid by their publishers) to offer insight into the product for the public to peruse, and consider for purchase.

    Thousands of people are then employed at factories to make specific product lines, sometimes alternate versions of a CD, including bonus tracks, different covers, and differently rated versions. The completed product is then shipped to various dealers to be sold to the public at large, including completely uncompressed digital, or “gold” versions that are sent to various digital media providers to sell on their web sites. These dealers then sell the product, earning for the product owner (in this case, RCA) a “wholesale” profit, while the dealers themselves benefit from a retail markup to cover their own costs (employees, shelf space, the display of promotional materials, etc). Only By The Night is one of the biggest selling music compilations in 2010.

    Note that for each of these products, I totally left out several other costs to the manufacturer/publisher and retail markets, including the utility bills, shipping/handling, facility construction, etc. Didn’t want to leave an opening for you though.

    Now, there are other ways these products can be “acquired”, both of which represent a direct financial loss to the owner of the property, the dealers that sell them, and yes, including employees (in the form of lay offs, mergers, bankruptcy, outsourcing – look it up for yourself) responsible for the production, and mass production of these products. I know you’re about to ignorantly espouse that piracy has nothing to do with these, but logic dictates: if you’re “acquiring for free” (LAFF. OUT. LOUD.) something that was paid for by someone to produce, especially en’ masse as displayed on the # of leechers (downloaders) on any Pirate Bay link, then you are in fact, costing the owner money and profit. Sorry, it’s just reality.

    Let’s look at two ways, one for each product:

    1.) A duplicate of a car can (and has been, read up) be stolen directly from the factory, and directly from dealer lots. If not recovered, this represents a direct financial loss to both the dealer, and the manufacturer – true, or false?

    2.) A duplicate of a music compilation can be stolen directly from a factory (happens a lot – someone at the CD factory takes a copy home before it’s release date, and it winds up for free on the net – like DVD screeners, btw) or directly from a retail dealer, representing a financial loss to both dealer, and publisher, since it wasn’t sold – true, or false? And don’t bother with semantics like “they have insurance to cover those losses” because guess what, pal? THEY PAY FOR THAT, TOO.

    The problem with pirates (like yourself) is that you actually have the arrogance (and completely logic defying ignorance) to assume there’s a difference between these two products because one can be broken down into code that is transferable, and one can’t. I just outlined factually how the the processes to create each from inception, to concept, to creation are exactly the same. Both require REAL WORK, and REAL TOIL by creators, and a myriad of employed people to make a real product, yet the nexus between the two disparate products is completely lost on yourself in order to ethically justify illegal theft.

    Then you disgustingly blurb about potential BENEFITS of piracy/theft??? What is wrong with your brain? There’s no benefit to the production parties whatsoever, as logic dictates: taking for free what costs money to produce represents financial loss for all concerned parties. That’s it, period, thee end.

    Unless you were referring to benefits for thieves?

    And as far as your flim-flam about public domain and copyright expiration: that only applies if for instance, George Lucas’s son or other estate inheritors cease creating any further Star Wars products – do you REALLY see that happening?? If they keep creating, they keep ownership, period. I will cede you the point that public domain laws are viable as an IP grows ancient and has no profitable longevity because the IP was abandoned by it’s creator, but that’s a whole different ball game. And even then, the original creators have the option to buy back rights to their IP’s (Such was the case with Paul McCartney, who failed to outbid Michael Jackson for Associated Television’s control of old Beatles songs, read up)

    I do believe I just ate your lunch – so don’t bother with inane platitudes. If it were feasible for a thief to easily break down a cars components to duplicate and “share” (lol) it, they’d do so – but that’s not as easy, or cost-free as ripping off a CD and sharing it, is it buddy? Didn’t think so.

  17. Your long winded example didn’t really address my point. You slightly touched on the ethical point, but the money lost by the artist is less per copy than actual theft, ignoring the supply chain, insurance and such (which you seem fine with). The instances where someone took a physical copy are theft. Nobody is going to deny that. But I presented you a generous and simple example of the actual damages, and you are still denying that 10>9

    ‘Then you disgustingly blurb about potential BENEFITS of piracy/theft??? What is wrong with your brain? There’s no benefit to the production parties whatsoever, as logic dictates: taking for free what costs money to produce represents financial loss for all concerned parties. That’s it, period, thee end.”
    Radiohead’s success has been largely attributed to piracy. College kids were sharing their stuff on college networks. Some bought the actual CDs. Some went to shows. The effect of it was free marketing for Radiohead.

    Also, I find it offensive that you assume I am a pirate just because I defend them, although I suppose it is a fairly safe bet given that virtually everyone engages in some form of copyright infringement, probably even you and Gene.

    “And as far as your flim-flam about public domain and copyright expiration: that only applies if for instance, George Lucas’s son or other estate inheritors cease creating any further Star Wars products ”
    No, the works by Lucas will expire at the same time. Some stuff may be partially protected by trademarks, though, but if George Lucas dies today, everything currently Star Wars is under his copyright and his copyright alone, and copyright isn’t extended, then the current Star Wars universe will be in the public domain in the US in 2080, and in some other countries in 2060. This holds true whether no new Star Wars media is made, or there is a new installment each year, with episode 7 through 76. This is precisely why Disney was so concerned about the copyright expiring on Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse’s debut. They aren’t commercializing Steamboat Willie anymore, but they are commercializing Mickey Mouse. You clearly don’t have any idea of how our copyright system works.

  18. Lets get a few things straight here. First, any work becomes copyrighted the instant it is transfered to a physical medium. The flip side of that is that it must be transfered to a physical medium in order to be copyrighted. Even though that protection is there from the very beginning, if you think you may wind up in court over it, you should register it just to be safe. Unlike patents, copyright registration is cheap and easy, but usually not necessary.

    Second. Doug put forth some absolutely ridiculous arguments in his first comment. He accused others of using a strawman argument, and then preceded to use one of the grossest strawman arguments I’ve ever seen to represent the average person who pirates. As I, and others have pointed out, money is not the only, or most significant reason why people pirate. If you don’t believe me, then stop talking for a second and look around. Also, your mockery of people who have collections and who don’t realize they don’t own things is absurd. They own the physical medium the copy is on, which is required for the copyright to exist, and they have a license allowing them to use it. They could be referring to a collection of licenses, which would be correct, except nobody ever phrases it that way. They don’t share because they think they own a copy. If you weren’t so fixated on this idea that people pirate because of cost you would realize that.

    Finally, just because something can be duplicated at practically zero cost, doesn’t mean that it is harmless to do so. Copyright may have its flaws, but is the best system we have to ensure that those individuals who are creative and innovative can benefit from their labor and support themselves and raise capital to continue to create. Some people get rich beyond what most people think they deserve, and in my opinion, copyrights last for way to long. I would cut them back to 50 years maximum, but that is my opinion. Some people chose to contribute without taking advantage of their copyrights, and that is ok to, Others will always want to dodge the system, and we have to learn to live with that.

    Copyright protects more than just earning potential though, because it also protects against distortion and helps to protect the integrity of an author or a brand or a classic work. We shouldn’t have to regulate such human decency, but we do. Prosecuting and brow beating pirates isn’t going to work. You can’t force somebody to have respect for another human being.

  19. @ Andrew Cole My quote: “We’ve had paper (or it’s like) for centuries, and more recently record albums, tapes, photographs, compact discs, all the way up to modern flash drives and downloadable digital content. But it should be emphasized again: without these transferable media, the creations simply could not exist in a shareable form. This is where intellectual property subjects itself to the whims of thieves.

    Now for some real world perspective on the differences between the transferable media, and the original creation itself. Pirates think that if they buy a DVD movie, download some iTunes, or purchase a music CD that they have taken ownership, and can whimsically share it, undaunted by copyright and intellectual property laws. And where they fail in their defense is that when making a purchase (with the intent to illegally share copies) they think that they own a copy, and the reality is: they don’t even own that. What do they “own?” Lol – whatever piece of plastic or silicone the digital code resides on, an agreed upon license to keep it to themselves, and nothing more.

    Your quote: “They own the physical medium the copy is on, which is required for the copyright to exist, and they have a license allowing them to use it. They could be referring to a collection of licenses, which would be correct, except nobody ever phrases it that way.”

    Whew! That was a LONG way to go to simply repeat what I had said, and without a point, no less…

    Your quote: “As I, and others have pointed out, money is not the only, or most significant reason why people pirate. If you don’t believe me, then stop talking for a second and look around…” –

    …at… what? You mentioned I used a strawman stance (falsely, I couldn’t have been any more detailed and factual), fail to refute any comparisons I made to illustrate the only difference between my example of car manufacture and marketing vs music manufacture and marketing, and then leave me hanging with “look around…?”

    First, for anyone not familiar with how the torrent sharing site The Pirate Bay works, at any given minute are provided the numbers of seeders (people who have uploaded a torrent completely, and left it in their queue to continue sharing their upload speed and file with other illegal downloaders) and leechers (illegal downloaders who download the torrent, and remove it from their queue upon completion, NOT sharing the file and upload speed once they have the file).

    It’s important to remember: these are only snapshots of any given minute, and the numbers can fluctuate greatly from hour to hour. When a hot new illegal file (such as the blu ray release of Avatar) is pirated and uploaded for the first time, you’ll see the highest numbers in the first few hours/days.

    All right, let’s “look around”: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended Addition (retail $999.00) 6/15/2010, 1:15 A.M. snapshot, illegal downloaders (leechers) on The Pirate Bay snapshot: 8,596. Snapshot, seeders (illegal uploaders with complete file downloaded) 9,448. For reference, in current US dollars (not including tax!) the cost of the stolen software is worth $9,438,552.00 per number of completed torrents downloaded at provided minute.

    Eminem, Recovery, music (retail, itunes $11.99) 6/08/2010, 11:54 P.M. snapshot, leechers: 1,167. Seeders: 8,925. Stolen software worth $107, 010.00 per number of completed torrents downloaded at this minute.

    Avatar, movie (blu ray retail Walmart $19.96) 4/24/10, 2:36 P.M. snapshot, leechers 12, 698. Seeders 14, 243. Stolen software worth $284,290.00 per number of completed torrents downloaded at provided minute.

    Now, before I get back to Andy, I have to repeat: these numbers are just for the given times they were looked at, one can only imagine how many of these actual torrents were illegally downloaded in total.

    Andy, if your “worldly” enough to arrogantly posit that you have some actual data to distinguish which of these downloaders/thieves were downloading to save cash, and which weren’t, or which “wouldn’t have bought the software anyway” then surely you can share with us how you might react if YOU were the one spending millions to bring these IP titles to the open market? I don’t care to make a guess. Obviously many wouldn’t have been able to afford it, which brings me to my next topic…

    Here’s my favorite Gem of yours, however, because it rats you out as an ethically, and intellectually bankrupt individual: “Some people get rich beyond what most people think they deserve…”

    Okay: obviously an altruistic, utopian, and ultimately, hypocritical statement, since (assuming you’re gainfully employed) I’m willing to bet my home, and all my holdings you wouldn’t do that job for free, right? I mean, the human psyche (unless brainwashed to think otherwise) operates completely on a reward based system. It’s what compelled us to engage in trade as far back as neanderthals and early homo sapiens, which may have led homo sapiens to survive while neanderthals died out.

    When there IS no reward for our toil, we become lazy, and go on welfare. It’s what happens when your government collects too much of your income, your morale declines, and going to work becomes a slog. The strong of us keep doing it though, working, and paying for welfare people to eat and have iPods, because we understand that a society is only as good as it’s contributors! Watch an episode of Survivor to see it in microcosm – you don’t pull your weight, the group suffers.

    But here’s the super-neato thing, Andy – all those rewards that those fat-cats have can be yours, too, if your properly motivated! You see, they (or their ancestors) were like you and me once. The had to start at the bottom, and work their way up. Eventually, they founded a product, good, or service that people need to sustain themselves in modern civilization (house, food, transportation), or WANT to have as a luxury (swimming pool, iPod, Nintendo Wii,). If you really want to argue this point, my finger is just ITCHING to list some truly amazing rags-to-riches stories, for every fat-cat you can think of!

    And even cRaZiEr Andy? You don’t have to buy, nor are you entitled to ANY of the money these strident, motivated individuals have earned, not a cent! Because even though there are some truly nefarious people out there doing dastardly things to get rich, most are just making products that you yourself use in your everyday life!! Now, if you’re NOT a hypocrite as a described you, maybe you ought to just stop using some of those goods and services. I mean, they don’t “deserve” your money, right? After all, YOU contributed to their wealth by buying said goods and services, even when you weren’t forced to!

    Or are you gonna tell me all those employees at all those places should be doing it for free? Or better yet, YOU in all your omniscient glory are gonna DECIDE how much those people should make? You know, like Obama? Here’s some truth for you pal: our Constitution protects our INALIENABLE rights. Those rights we are born with. The right to have the same opportunities as everyone else based on our own merits. The constitution protects those rights by punishing anyone who infringes on them, including THEFT.

    Guess what you have when you count on a HUMAN to give you rights? Rights that can be taken away, or otherwise manipulated, otherwise known as ALIENABLE rights. That’s what you want, right? Obama, Bush, or some other politician to “make things more fair” blah, blah, blah and so on.

    Well, Andy, except for physical/mental disabilities, we all start off with a clean slate. No matter how poor, or how good our parents are, we all eventually have the same opportunities (my finger is still ITCHING to get on those rags-to-riches fat-cats!).

    So if you REALLY think some of those awful rich people (who employ millions) you buy from on a daily basis make “more than they deserve” then maybe it’s time you stop inflating their wallets with things like that PC/laptop/Mac you own, but if you wanna STEAL from them, well, that would be infringing on their constitutional rights. Capitalism: we control it with our dollars. Government: we have NO control, and can be imprisoned for not paying illegal taxes. When’s the last time you went to prison for not buying an iPod, Andy?

    The above poster mentioned my “long winded” post.

    This post: 18 minutes.

  20. @ Bobby Bob: until you can outline for me the differences in process, the differences in product, and the ethical/moral conundrum you find between stealing code, and stealing anything else that can be broken down into physical parts, I’m ignoring you.

    I outlined perfectly the factual similarities between the two, and left no stone of yours unturned. The same thesis applies to virtually ANY product. Now you wanna talk in circles. If you want to justify “theft in degrees” by comparing the loss of one dollar, or 9 dollars, I’m sorry, it’s still theft. And like my friend Andy, you’re a hypocrite. If it were you losing the money (which in fact, pirates DO cost IP holders money) you would want the full extent of the law to protect your earned holdings as well.

    The laws aren’t stringent enough to protect IP’s properly – that’s my position.

    This post: 3 minutes.

  21. “until you can outline for me the differences in process, the differences in product, and the ethical/moral conundrum you find between stealing code, and stealing anything else that can be broken down into physical parts, I’m ignoring you. ”
    I went into great detail. The fact that the original is not gone is a humongous difference. With my degrees of damages (not theft) example, I was being very generous. A less generous example would be 0 dollars versus 1 dollar lost. As for dollars lost, a recent Government Accountability Office report said there is no evidence that internet piracy is causing damage to the industry.

    “The laws aren’t stringent enough to protect IP’s properly – that’s my position. ”
    That’s ridiculous. The last several changes to US copyyright law (while the US was the biggest producer of copyrighted materials in the world, mind you) have taken more and more rights from the public with no demonstrated benefit, and there was certainly no benefit in retroactive extension.
    Also, your claim that ‘IP’ is an inalienable right is bunk. The constitution specifically says that the duration of these rights must be limited. Patents, for example, last only 20 years, short of congress giving them an extension, which basically only happens when the FDA takes too long for a pharmaceutical. If patents were an inalienable right, then we wouldn’t have them disappear at a statutory point in time. If you are claiming patents should last forever, I have to say you are probably just about all alone. Even the strongest patent advocates agree with the need for expiration.

  22. The fact that the original is not gone is a humongous difference

    Funny, the teacher didn’t buy that when I ‘borrowed’ someone’s answer on the test.

  23. -Doug

    You have made some huge leaps about what I believe without any basis for it, and while patronizing me to boot. The comment I made about some people thinking other people making more money than they deserve doesn’t apply to me, and I never said it did. I said some people, not some people including me. So your whole rant that filled up the last half of your comment was an utter waste of time and energy.

    I’m not a fan of pirating. I haven’t pirated anything in many years and I have no intention to in the future. I do use a torrent program, but not for illegal purposes. Many open source and free software programs are distributed using a torrent file because it substantially reduces the cost for the developers to make it available. People use torrent services legally all the time, including software companies that sell products.

    I gave you an example of a situation where people chose to pirate even when the software was available for free, so if you chose to ignore that (it was post #1) then that is your problem. You did present a strawman argument when you said that all people who pirate do so because of the cost. You then preceded to tear down that position, when in fact, it isn’t even correct. Maybe you need to refresh yourself on what a strawman argument is. I admitted that some people pirate for money, but that there are many other reasons as well, acknowledging the fact that it is a complex issue, unlike you, who simply points a finger at one cause and ordains it as the only cause.

    People download illegal copies of things off the pirates bay all the time, and most of it does have a price tag in the retail world. What is your point? College students who use Adobe products at school don’t have a thousand dollars to spend on a license, so they either pirate it or do without and use the school computers. In that case, it is because of the money, but if they couldn’t pirate it, they simply would have gone without because they don’t have the money. It isn’t lost revenue, because they could never afford it in the first place. Men pirate porn because it allows them to stay anonymous. Being free doesn’t hurt, but they don’t’ want their wives to see the credit card statements and demand to know why seventy dollars a month is being charged to MaleFunTime.com. Other people pirate because there has been some hack or modification to the program that they want that is unofficial. For example, there was a hack that used to allow people to play Blizzard games without the CD in the drive. I used to use it, many years ago. I had a legal copy of the game, but didn’t want to carry seven discs around with my laptop.

    Perhaps you will stop and think before you post another comment, instead of cherry picking and quote mining me, making assumptions, and going off on arrogant rants that aren’t based in reality. That is all I ask.

  24. @ethical screw loose
    Did your teacher accuse you of theft or plagiarism? Something can be wrong and not theft at the same time. In fact, the majority of unethical actions are NOT theft. Why is this concept so hard to grasp?

  25. @Bobby

    Did I say it was “theft”? Why is it so hard to read?

  26. @ethical screw loose
    The debate is on whether or not piracy/copyright infringement is theft, not whether or not these actions are ethical. I’m not saying that piracy is ethical or just, but rather that it is different than theft. If you are simply saying that plagiarism is unethical, it’s not relevant to the conversation at hand.

  27. @ Bobby … and I outlined factually how Piracy IS theft, unless you can find a difference between products that can be broken down into code, or a product that can be broken down into parts. Your argument is circular, and illogical. Physical products are copied/mass produced. Digital products are copied/mass produced. Your position is that because one is broken down into code (the makeup of the whole) and one is broken down into physical parts (the makeup of the whole) that the rules for stealing them should be different, when the rules for creating them are patently the same.

    There’s no gray area. It’s a product that can be stolen, and is, either way. That doesn’t mean I think there should be equanimity regarding the punishment, however. I would equate piracy to shoplifting, since a shop, digital or otherwise is licensed to sell the product, and profit from it.

  28. @Doug
    You haven’t proven anything. You’ve pointed out the similarities, and I’ve pointed out the differences. Theft is illegal taking away of property, and since there is no taking away, the two are not the same. Copyright infringement is still illegal, but it’s different, and saying they are the same is incorrect. There is absolutely no need for you to claim that piracy is theft for piracy to be wrong, so the argument you are making is wrong and pointless.

  29. @Bobby Then why don’t you do the deed, and mention finally what the difference between digital coded product that someone imagined, designed, created and mass produced, and physical product that someone imagined, designed, created, and mass produced are? Have you actually not noticed you haven’t posited a single, solitary answer for that yet? The copyright’s, patents, and trademarks are the same, and equally punishable by law, but you don’t have millions of people to arrest for stealing Toyotas, iPhones, and branded LCD TV’s, right?

    I mean, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to arrest/prosecute so many – just like illegal immigrants!

    I’ll help: Just say what’s in your brain – code is different because it’s EASY to copy, and requires no effort, while a physical object like an iPod is costly to disassemble, fabricate, and copy.

    You’ve been batting WAY out of your league, Robert. Time to hang it up, because the difference is only in your brain, not reality.

    tHE rEALITY: You’re another illegal downloader who wants to apply moral relativism to the matter so you don’t get sad about all those files you stole from people who spent millions to imagine, design, create, and mass produce them.

    I’m done with you.

    Next!

  30. -Doug

    I’ll explain the difference to you, since you can’t seem to read, or do research online. The difference, is that the copies are intellectual property. Copyright is a right, hence the name, that gives you exclusive power to make and authorize copies, along with a few other rights such as protection from distortion in some cases. You cannot steal those rights or those powers. They don’t physically exist for a person to steal. Even code transmitted on a network exists in a physical medium by being encoded in energy waves.

    I guess you could argue that by making a copy, you are taking that right away from the person it belongs to, but the law never sees it as belonging to anybody but the true owner. You can’t be in possession of somebody else’s copyright by making an unauthorized copy. It’s not like a stereo I can actually hold in my hands and say that I took it from the other person. Intellectual property isn’t real property, it’s imaginary property the government agrees to acknowledge.

  31. @Doug
    The difference is between copying and taking. Let’s say 10 copies of a CD exist, and that’s all that will be produced by the owner. Let’s say that 1000 copies are made via pirating. You can’t steal something 1000 times when only 10 copies exist. Piracy is illegal, but it’s very different than stealing.

    “I mean, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to arrest/prosecute so many – just like illegal immigrants! ”
    If it were theft, they would still bring criminal charges against those who do it. However, they don’t because it is an entirely different section of law.

    “You’ve been batting WAY out of your league, Robert. Time to hang it up, because the difference is only in your brain, not reality.”
    And in the mechanical way things are done, the way the laws treat it (which should alone be enough. The law says that they are two separate things), and the amount of damage done. As for being out of my league, you’ve shown that you don’t even know how the public domain works.

    “You’re another illegal downloader who wants to apply moral relativism to the matter so you don’t get sad about all those files you stole from people who spent millions to imagine, design, create, and mass produce them.”
    Again, accusing me of being a pirate is ad hominem and has no basis. I don’t have to be a pirate to say that pirates aren’t thieves.

  32. Wrong focus.

    Focus not on the object being taken, rather focus on the act of taking.

    If you take something that does not belong to you, you are a thief. There is no need to go beyond this logic, because to do so is merely semantics, and anyhow you call it, it is still wrong and unethical.

    A rose by any other name…

  33. @Ethical screw loose
    Yes, illegally taking a CD is the same kind of act as taking a stereo, and that act is known as theft, stealing, or shoplifting. However, taking and acquiring are two different things, though, and this difference is especially prominent when an object can be easily copied. Besides, trespassing is a much better comparison (although still flawed) for those who can’t grasp copyright as something other than a property right. Trespassing involves doing something you don’t have the right to do, but generally doesn’t involve taking. Vandalism isn’t as good a description of trespassing, but it is causing damage to property, and a copyright suit often involves damages.

  34. Mere semantics Bobby,

    If you “acquire” something that is not yours, the act is still wrong and unethical. In order to “acquire” it, you must take it. It matters not if the thing you take is still there (i.e. that you have taken a replica).

    You are trying too hard to make a distinction without a difference.

    Ask yourself one simple question – is the item that you are taking (to acquire) yours?

    If it is not, the action is wrong – and just as wrong as pure theft. Everything else is smoke and mirrors, and matters not in the end.

  35. @ Bobby

    This is where your argument falls apart. You’re “10 CD’s” “1000 copies” is completely irrational.

    We aren’t talking about CD’s – because CD’s aren’t what’s being pirated/stolen. It’s the data ON the CD’s we’re concerned with here.

    I already outlined how said data comes to fruition via the same process as any other product, ergo the product IS the data.

    Any product, physical, or digital can be mass produced. The only difference between the two is that digital is EASY to copy, because it’s transferable from one device to the next. I already established that.

    Your position is thus: it’s not theft because it’s a copy, which means you can’t steal it more than once.

    My position is that your stance is irrational, because if a car, iPod, LCD TV could be as easily copied (hypothetical: if nanotechnology reaches the point where micro-robots can instantly assemble a copy of a car, for example) then you would also say that anyone with the nano machines necessary to instantly replicate a car and “share it” aren’t engaging in theft.

    In fact, you’re so brainwashed on the matter it’s impossible NOT imagining you’re a serious pirate yourself, so fervently have you failed to defend it.

    You still haven’t addressed the issue – just because a product is easily transferable, how is it any different than stealing any other product? Your “10,000 copies” thesis is easily dismantled by virtue of it’s simplicity. It could be infinite copies, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a marketable product that wouldn’t exist except at the whim of the original designer.

  36. @Bobby

    I just had an epiphany about what the disconnect is between yourself, and stolen goods. The reason I think you and your ilk are able to irrationally rectify a difference between a product that exists as digital parts, and one that exists as physical parts is actually simpler than I imagined.

    The thing you can’t absorb, the thing has been brainwashed out of you is that you make no connection between the creator, and the creators product. That the product you’re stealing wouldn’t exist digitally or otherwise without the creative and laborious works of an original party is totally lost on you.

    When I pay for and download a movie, song, or otherwise I’m justified by the simple notion that my own efforts to contribute my labor to society are rewarded by having the simple freedom to enjoy some entertainment.

    That freedom comes from being gainfully employed. With this freedom I can buy, or not buy a given product.

    Your philosophy involves a feeling of being entitled to things without such contributions. You feel as though you shouldn’t have to work to enjoy the fruits of OTHER people’s labors. It’s little different than our bloated welfare system, which has created this perception in millions of people, that someone else OWES them. They shouldn’t HAVE to contribute. This is theft of a different sort altogether.

    So fine. Keep being part of a group who espouses “sharing”, and you’ll keep killing the group that provides you with the goods, the “creators” – I’m telling sure as anything: if I caught someone taking and duplicating an idea of mine, that I created to profit from and flourish into a business that allows me to reach more customers, they’d be taking a hard fall, REAL fast. Creators need better defenses from pirates – wait. You know what? I propose a new paradigm, and a new label for our lazy friends that wanna eat from the tree without helping to plant more. Piracy is WAY too romantic. We need to call them by their real characterization: Bottom Feeders.

    That works, because they live off from other peoples hard work, just like the average scavenger, all the while not understanding that by not contributing to a given economy they inherantly make it smaller, and shove evne more work on the backs of the real contributors.

    Ask the Jackass from Radiohead how much he has to tour just to turn a profit these days, and then ask how he enjoys those arena shows and other assorted gigs he gets that are funded by his record label and various sponsors.

    Without them, he’s got no place worthwhile to play, does he? That’s okay – he sucks, and should be lucky to get a frat house gig.

  37. @Doug
    “My position is that your stance is irrational, because if a car, iPod, LCD TV could be as easily copied (hypothetical: if nanotechnology reaches the point where micro-robots can instantly assemble a copy of a car, for example) then you would also say that anyone with the nano machines necessary to instantly replicate a car and “share it” aren’t engaging in theft. ”
    Yes, that would not be theft. In fact, that’s a utopia like the one portrayed in Star Trek, where the only want for material goods was when scarcity made for a plot device, and you are pointing to a utopia and calling it criminal. There may still be a benefit of copyright and patents during that era

    “Your position is thus: it’s not theft because it’s a copy, which means you can’t steal it more than once.”
    An object can be stolen more than once, as in stealing from a thief who stole from another thief or similar things. However, I am claiming that the amount that of something can be stolen from you is inherently less than or equal to the amount you have. If I have $100 on me, and you mug me, then the most amount of money you can steal from me is $100. This is how the universe works, and denying that is insanity.

    “It’s still a marketable product that wouldn’t exist except at the whim of the original designer.”
    Yes, it wouldn’t exist without the author, but that doesn’t make it property and it doesn’t make copyright infringement theft. The limited protections of copyright and patents act as a way to encourage works to be released to the public, so that the public benefits. Your argument hinges almost entirely on the idea that it takes effort, but US courts have rejected the “sweat of the brow” doctrine saying that mere collections of data without creative elements are not copyrightable regardless of how much effort it takes.

  38. @Doug
    “You feel as though you shouldn’t have to work to enjoy the fruits of OTHER people’s labors. It’s little different than our bloated welfare system, which has created this perception in millions of people, that someone else OWES them. They shouldn’t HAVE to contribute. This is theft of a different sort altogether. ”
    Actually, it’s the media conglomerates that have a sense of entitlement. Copyright is a subsidy, arguably a handout. Without the government giving them backup, people would copy and alter works as they please. The deal used to be fairly equitable, but the cost of production and distribution for the same kind of has only gone down, and yet the leeches of industry keep asking for more and more handouts, even for actions that have already been done. Steamboat Willie, which holds significance for being the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, has had several retroactive extensions of copyright. A deal was made, and Disney is renegotiating over and over again on compensation for an act they’ve already done.

    @ethical screw loose
    “If you “acquire” something that is not yours, the act is still wrong and unethical. In order to “acquire” it, you must take it. It matters not if the thing you take is still there (i.e. that you have taken a replica).”
    Yes, it does matter, and it’s not taking, it’s making. It’s why the law treats theft and copyright infringement as different acts. Don’t accuse me of semantics when the acts are technically, legally, and ethically distinct. I’m not saying that it’s ethical, but it’s not theft. If you think it is theft, try and convince a judge. Don’t play the it’s ‘impossible because of the scale’ argument either. That hasn’t stopped law enforcement from enforcing drug possession as a criminal act.

  39. @WBobby

    I like how you like to play it both ways with copyright laws, lol. On one hand you say how they don’t work, yet you’ve sited them 3 times in SUPPORT of you argument. Whatever.

    Like I said: you’re a moral relativist who thinks “stealing less” (your $100 argument) isnt…stealing??

    I’m AGAINST the government stance on IP material. Apparently, I’m not a shill for them like yourself. I don’t think IP should be any different than physical property. Refer to the above. Just out of curiosity, you voted for Obama I’m guessing? I’m a civil libertarian. I don’t lick on government bureaucrats to get hand outs, sorry.

    The media conglomerates… who payed to bring the product OUT IN THE FIRST place have a :sense of entitlement????”

    LAFF.

    OUT.

    LOUD.

    Answer one question: how entitled do you feel to the money YOU Make?

    You’ve got the Obama sickness, I’m afraid. You want to rely on the backs of working people to support your whims. Your arrogance is breathtaking. Literally, out of this world nonsense. You’re a hypocrite. I don’t believe for a second you’d do any creative or productive work for free. There’s nothing wrong with free market enterprise. Reward for effort is a part of the fabric of nature, pal. Your brand of government and economic policy has been tried and failed, again, and again. It doesn’t work, and you’re a lowly person for espousing that trash in lieu of your wordly possessions.

    You mention “sweat of your brow” with a measure of disdain, which is indicative of a self centered unethical worm. Myself, and anyone else who lives the principals of a thriving, free market philosophy are better than you and everything you stand for. We work so you can steal, collect welfare and generally leech of from society just as you do those files you steal.

    The whole thing collapses when we do. Then you won’t have your luxuries, because you’re just too damn lazy, and/or lacking in creativity to make anything yourself. That music, those movies, and software programming derive from an area of the brain that you sealed off access to. Those are their babies, their creations, and yes – they are in fact entitled to the benefits of the labors they endure to produce them, regardless of your schizophrenic affection for bad law and government ignorance, and regardless of the laws themselves.

    Are you now gonna cherry pick some more which copyright/patent/trademark laws you agree with? Don’t bother. Anyone perusing this forum can see blindingly what working people are up against these days. People like yourself. It’s already boiling over in Europe, Greece, and soon, the USA. The aftereffects of your entitlement philosophy are finally showing their cracks.

    So keep dreaming. Only slaves can contribute to a Utopian society – unless you also support anarchy? The two don’t mix, sorry. Either the government says “hey we’re all working for free now” or it collapses and you have mass chaos. Both are bad.

    Oh, and if you’re gonna deflect on the “scale” comment, try something better than drug possession, idiot. Drug possession is on the increase, not vice versa. Why? Because of it’s… wait for it… wait…

    SCALE.

    I’m actually starting to believe your intellectual dishonesty is devolving into lunacy at this point, especially with that quote. The war on drugs is and was a failure. Watch some news.

  40. and it’s not taking, it’s making.

    Bobby, you are engaging in empty semantics yet again.

    You are fooling no one, except perhaps, yourself.

  41. @ethical screw loose
    I seem to have also fooled every legal system in the world as they see piracy/copyright infringement and theft as separate things. That said, you can argue that piracy is unethical. But as I’ve said before, being unethical does not make something theft. The mechanics of the two actions are very different, making them different actions.

  42. Bobby,

    Differences without distinctions.

    Ask yourself:

    Be it “acquire” or “take”, does the item belong to you or to someone else?
    Is it wrong to “acquire” or “take” something that does not belong to you?

    Notice how the same answers apply whether or not “acquire” or “take” is the verb used.

    Your defense of the non-difference tells more about you than whether or not you are “right”. You might as well be answering “that depends on what the definition of “is” is.”

    That is why you have an ethical screw loose.

  43. @ethical screw loose
    You are saying theft is unethical. Piracy is unethical. Therefore, piracy is theft. That’s not how it works and it isn’t a logical proof.
    Theft is defined by taking from others, and no taking occurs in piracy. Therefore, regardless of the ethics of piracy, theft is not piracy.
    You may find them to be similar and that both are unethical, but they are not the same.
    Perhaps you should ask yourself why theft is ethically wrong. It isn’t because the person stealing is getting something, but because the person being stolen from is losing something. Nothing is lost in copyright infringement, but you can argue that damages occur. However, damages and lost property are not the same.

  44. @Ethical screw loose

    Forget it, man. He’s (Bobby) been going in circles ever since I engaged him on this. He hasn’t even addressed my initial position yet. He can’t articulate a difference between a physical copied product, and a digitally copied product. The reason is this:

    Both are the same. Both were mass produced from an original design. Somewhere, is the first iPod, the first Honda Accord LX, and the first Samsung 42″ LCD TV, just like there’s an original Kings Of Leon recording of the album Only By The Night, or the movie Avatar, etc. But he keeps positioning himself out of the boundaries of legitimate debate on the subject by positing that any product built/realized after the original is up for grabs, and should be free to anyone, because the owner only owns the “original.”

    He even went off the rails with his “stealing from a thief” idiocy, even though he knows that copyright, patent and trademark laws only protect the owner in either case (i.e. if it were stolen from a consumer, it’s the consumer’s property, if stolen from a store, the retailers loss, or directly from it’s producer, etc)

    He cites a Utopian philosophy like “Star Trek” (lol) and absurd copyright laws as justification for theft.

    Several times he has positioned himself behind these laws, yet hypocritically bemoans them as being unnecessary.

    He differentiates someone stealing $100 from himself as being “less like thievery” because it’s not “all of his money”.

    My favorite nascent position of Robert’s is that it’s the conglomerates (otherwise known as “the people who funded the product’s creation”) that have a “sense of entitlement.

    I dunno, Robert – how entitled do YOU feel to any recent purchases you’ve made? Are you gonna post a strawman about how that’s somehow “different?” I’m guessing if you ran a retail tool store you’d be completely fine with giving the tools away for free, because their just “copies?”

    Of course you would – you’re Captain Kirk! Hey, I wonder who built all those starships for free, so he could sail around the galaxy picking up green chicks?? Does the “future government” get to decide what those people who worked in those Starship Factories get to own, and what they’re worth?? I mean, who decides which ones get to have a nice holo-deck, and which ones are stuck with a simple viewscreen?? Do they use some kind of vouchers to delegate what you can and can’t own? Does the guy that builds the antimatter engine get a nicer flat than the guy who produces the antimatter, or vice versa?? Do people just walk into a store and take what they want?? Does everyone build there houses exactly the same, and they just pick one?? Why do some have bigger, nicer homes?? Lol.

    I’d LOVE to see those vouchers: You work doing (insert), so you are entitled to own blank, blank, blank, and blank for your living are, which is limited to blank x blank square feet.

    Sounds like slavery to me, pal. I’m betting you wouldn’t dig that much control over your life from ANY government. I notice Star Trek never seems to address this conundrum, and you never even see what Earth society lives like – except in the new movie (I bought the blu-ray!) where they depict a bar/club, Kirk with a “motor cycle” – who decided he could have that??

    Robert, you’re position has been shot full of so many holes I’m afraid there’s nothing left to debate with.

  45. @Doug
    for your initial point, the difference is that physical objects are naturally scarce, and that media is artificially scarce during the period of copyright protection. This scarcity is due to statute, not natural rights, and this has been confirmed by both the UK in Donaldson v. Beckett and the US in Wheaton v. Peters.

    “He even went off the rails with his “stealing from a thief” idiocy, even though he knows that copyright, patent and trademark laws only protect the owner in either case”
    That was an aside to explain a loophole in my only stealing once argument. A physical object can stolen more than once under very specific circumstances, such as stealing from someone who stole it. I was being thorough, but if you can’t compehend that, just ignore that part. The laws of the universe prevent you from stealing more of a physical object than what exists, and yet this limitation doesn’t apply to media.

    “Robert, you’re position has been shot full of so many holes I’m afraid there’s nothing left to debate with.”
    Says the guy who made claims that the Star Wars films would never go into the public domain unless the heirs of George Lucas felt tired of making lots of money.

  46. @ Bobby

    So… because something can be copied infinitely and stolen infinitely…it’s not stealing…? Theoretically, ANYTHING can be copied infinitely.

    And PLEASE – for the love of Pete – STOP. CITING . COPYRIGHT. LAWS.

    Do you REALLY want me to go into a long winded exploration of how many times you VALIDATE these laws, and in another sentence decry them UNNECESSARY or ILLEGITIMATE?!??

    Here’s the best one: “have taken more and more rights from the public with no demonstrated benefit, and there was certainly no benefit in retroactive extension…”

    Clue: once you say that, Bobby, you can’t in turn hide behind the same laws while debating their legitimacy. So step off. All those times you cited copyright law in defense of your argument are dissolved in that one simple quote. Yo forfeit any plausibility by continuing to do so.

    Go back and look at your own words, I’m tired of the circular debate and trying to move it to a conclusion.

    Yeah, Luca’s heirs could very well renew and continue to have jurisdiction of of the IP’s created by George. Look at how many companies are still in existence and own patents and copyrights from the 1800’s. Baldwin Piano’s, Jack Daniels, Luca Arts – starting to see a pattern here? Once you have merchandise, logos, and other consumables all bets are off as to how long a property can be owned.

    It’s like this: once you connect an IP to a physical product, like toys, clothes, logo design, etc, it’s DAMN hard to enforce public domain law and copyright limitations because they’re all connected to various other trademarks, and patents, all the way down to the physical models Lucas created to bring the movie to life.

    If you think otherwise – you shouldn’t be debating here. Anyone who wants to research it themselves just needs to Wiki public Domain Laws, it debunks Roberts position in every conceivable way.

  47. Bobby,

    Instead of dancing around my questions, answer the questions.

    Be it “acquire”, does the item belong to you or to someone else?
    Is it wrong to “acquire” something that does not belong to you?
    Be it “take”, does the item belong to you or to someone else?
    Is it wrong to “take” something that does not belong to you?

    Do you understand the phrase difference without a distinction?

  48. @Doug
    “So… because something can be copied infinitely and stolen infinitely…it’s not stealing…? Theoretically, ANYTHING can be copied infinitely. ”
    I’m saying copying is not stealing. If I copy your Kings of Leon CD, that’s copying and is copyright infringement. If I take your Kings of Leon CD away from you, that’s stealing. I’m sure that the difference between the results of two would be apparent to you when you feel like listening to Kings of Leon.

    “Do you REALLY want me to go into a long winded exploration of how many times you VALIDATE these laws, and in another sentence decry them UNNECESSARY or ILLEGITIMATE?!?? ”
    I’m not decrying copyright as illegitimate. I’m decrying excessive copyright terms and scope as illegitimate. Under the Statute of Anne, copyright was 14 years with a 14 year renewal available if the author is still alive. Today, copyright lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years or 95 years after publication for corporate works. My claims that copyright holders have a sense of entitlement is that they have lobbied to keep extending the period of copyright with copyright extension acts and erode fair use with laws like the DMCA. Also, if there was no copyright, then copying anything would be completely legal, so nothing I do regarding copies would be illegal. Making copies and derivative works wouldn’t be theft by any means, it wouldn’t be copyright infringement, it would at its worst be rude and disrespectful..

    “It’s like this: once you connect an IP to a physical product, like toys, clothes, logo design, etc, it’s DAMN hard to enforce public domain law and copyright limitations because they’re all connected to various other trademarks, and patents, all the way down to the physical models Lucas created to bring the movie to life. ”
    Patents last 20 years, any relevant patents would be expired by the time copyright has run out. Trademarks can be renewed indefinitely, and they will muddy the waters a bit, but they can be genericized by widespread use (such as kleenex o band-aid. Lightsaber is also in some degree of risk at becoming genericized as a term for weapons similar to lightsabers), but they certainly shouldn’t restrict distribution of the original work. The inevitable legal battles will be quite the spectacle, though. Here’s to hoping that yet another copyright extension act doesn’t pass and we at least get a chance to see that fight in 2023, when Steamboat Willie will finally enter the public domain.

  49. @ethical screw loose
    I believe the term is distinction without a difference. An example here would be the use of stealing versus theft. Difference without distinction would be two different meanings of the same word, as in using CD for a compact disc or a certificate of deposit.

    And yes, with abstraction from physical objects, there is an important difference between taking and acquiring. I can acquire the knowledge of how to weave baskets underwater without taking anything from anybody. It’s also worth noting that fair use provides a certain scope of exemptions from copyright for education and news, and facts themselves are generally not protected by any means, although the specific words used to describe these facts can be protected. (please don’t try and twist this additional fact into something I didn’t say, such as a claim students can infringe on copyrights, patents, trademarks, and even steal cars without consequences)

  50. @Bobby

    Why do you keep citing copyright law? You reneged your right to do so, I already pointed this out. I’m not letting that rest, so…stop. You don’t support ANY kind of copyright protection, so don’t hide behind those absurd laws to support your ignorance, Okay? Okay!

    You keep going back to how something can be “infinitely” distributed – all while leaving out the fact these IP’s don’t have infinite appeal. My Grandmother isn’t the least bit interest in downloading the latest Kings Of Leon, Lady Gaga, nor are millions of others. Unless that deep space exploration on your utopian starship has yielded a lot of alien interest in our IP’s? The only people that are stealing copies are people who WANT a copy Bobby, period, thee end.

    Your position that if someone copied my Kings Of Leon CD (in lieu of steeling the meaningless disc) assumes arrogantly that I shouldn’t be offended because it’s no loss to myself. But being that I PAID for the music in the first place, I’d most likely punch a person in the mouth if they had copied it.

    It’s like paying for a ticket to a great outdoor concert, only to see bums sneaking over the fence. It’s appalling behavior, that while it causes no financial loss to myself, is much like welfare moochers that like to suck off the system for free without contributing anything.

    It’s just trade. For my efforts to contribute, I get paid, and I spend on products, goods, and services that others contribute.

    So by your own admission, copying music, movies, software is the equivalent of being a welfare dirtbag that could work if he wanted to, but prefers to live off the backs of others.

    Whew! It took forever, but you finally let it all come to a close – thanks, Robert! I knew eventually you’d step in it, but I do believe the analogy is rock solid, and irrevocably expands on your “utopian” philosophy – it’s the same philosophy many lazy people espouse when not wanting to contribute.

    Just let other people buy it while you copy it for free, right? Problem is: I consider welfare to be theft, since ultimately I’m forced to contribute to the fund. I know a kid (welfare bum) right across the street that shares your philosophy. He’s got an iPod, a cell phone, a video game console, and a decent bicycle to get around on, flat panel TV, and he’s a prolific illegal file downloader, too!

    I wouldn’t have thought you’d wanna purposely throw in with the dregs of society, but hey, to each his own.

  51. @Doug
    “Why do you keep citing copyright law? You reneged your right to do so, I already pointed this out. I’m not letting that rest, so…stop. You don’t support ANY kind of copyright protection, so don’t hide behind those absurd laws to support your ignorance, Okay? Okay!”
    I have not said I oppose copyright. I oppose excessive, draconian copyright that fails to benefit the public.

    The rest of your post is just going on and on about how piracy is unethical and similar to welfare leeches, not how piracy is theft. I have never said piracy is ethical, and I have clarified that several times. The closest I’ve come to that was saying the Government Accountability Office has has said that there’s no good evidence of damage caused and that it may have benefits for some. I followed that by citing Radiohead as a specific example.

  52. Bobby,

    I am not accusing you of anything, nor am I twisting your words.

    Why will you not answer my questions?

  53. @ethical screw loose
    I explained difference without distinction and distinction without difference. As for acquiring things that don’t belong to you, the ethics are conditional, and it may or may not be stealing. With physical goods, it is in most cases unethical and stealing (there may be some exceptions), but abstractions can be acquired without theft, and are unless a physical object was stolen. Sometimes acquiring abstractions can be illegal and unethical, but it is meaningfully separate from theft.
    The information in a news report does not belong to me, but I can acquire it from watching/reading it and that is legal. My friend can acquire this news as well from my explanation, and this is legal as well. In some cases, it may even be unethical to NOT tell my friend this news, such as there being a recall on a food that he frequently eats. I am not by any means stealing in this case, nor am I stealing if I hum a song I heard on the radio to myself. I could also post the news in my own words in a blog or even in the comments of someone else’s blog.

  54. More semantics.

    The information in a news report does not belong to me” – yes, but it was meant for you to acquire. For you to rely so heavily on this type of example illustrates the loose screw.

    Plainly, the gist of the questions is that “things” that don’t belong to you should not be either taken or acquired, and that the semantics of labeling based on the physicality of the object is just that: semantics.

    If it isn’t yours – no matter what “it” is, you shouldn’t have it. This concept applies equally to hard goods (which you label as theft) as to intangibles that may be easily reproduced (which you label as piracy). Quite contrary to your supposition that ethics are conditional. Ethics are not conditional.

  55. @ethical screw loose
    “yes, but it was meant for you to acquire. ”
    Are you suggesting that anything copyrighted was NOT meant to be acquired? If that was the author’s choice, then keeping it private would be a better choice.

    And my argument is that the label of ‘theft’ applies only to physical goods because the limitations are naturally occurring and the ownership of said resources is a natural right. Abstract goods covered by copyright are not natural, but statutory. Having various media to enjoy is a great thing, as is the right to freely distribute, modify, and make derivative works. In theory, we can get more authors to author more works to enjoy if we give them some limited scope and time of protection, which is where copyright comes in. When you infringe copyright, you aren’t depriving someone of their natural rights as in theft, but rather breaking a legal/social agreement between the public and authors. The degree of validity and the benefits to the public of the current agreement depends on who you ask, but the nature of copyright infringement, particularly personal, non-commercial infringement is very different from wrongfully removing physical property, regardless of whether or not copyright infringement is ethical or not.

  56. Still evading the point – “regardless of whether or not copyright infringement is ethical or not.” There is no not in copyright infringement. There is no relativistic scale.

    Now you are treading on new and uncertain grounds – “ownership of said resources is a natural right.” – No such thing – as all ownership is a function of law. Any deprivation of possession is an act against law. The natural rights are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Possessions are simply not a natural right.

    Now you are letting your personal philosophy overpower actual law: “The degree of validity and the benefits to the public of the current agreement depends on who you ask” – validity is a question of law and is not up for popular agreement, thus not dependent on any one person’s particular personal philosophy (as much as you evade owning up to the unethicalness of copyright infringement – you cannot hold a counter position and maintain ethics).

  57. “There is no not in copyright infringement. There is no relativistic scale.”
    One can hold that copyright infingement is ethical, unethical, or neutral, or that it depends on the circumstances. I am not concerned with that particular question here and haven’t been this whole time.

    “Now you are treading on new and uncertain grounds – “ownership of said resources is a natural right.” – No such thing – as all ownership is a function of law. Any deprivation of possession is an act against law. The natural rights are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Possessions are simply not a natural right.”
    There is some degree of debate on property being a natural right, but Locke held estate as an inalienable right and the 14th amendment protects the everyone from being deprived of life, liberty and property without due process. The copyright clause gives congress the power to (but no inherent obligation to) enact copyright and patent law with the stipulations that they must be for limited times and states that this action must be for “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” This is a pretty big contrast, with property being something that can’t be taken away without due process, while copyright is just a means to an end, not an end to itself.

    “validity is a question of law and is not up for popular agreement, thus not dependent on any one person’s particular personal philosophy”
    Laws can and have been unjust in the past. Being the law does not make something just. It’s true that the opinion of the majority doesn’t isn’t infallible on the matter, either, but a large degree of civil unrest is often a good clue.

  58. Bobby,

    None of what you wrote can be construed as an answer. The closest you come is “I am not concerned with that particular question here and haven’t been this whole time.

    Your lack of concern is where the loose screw dropped.

  59. “Your lack of concern is where the loose screw dropped.”
    I wasn’t discussing the ethics of piracy outside of whether or not it was equivalent to theft. Theft and murder are both unethical, but they are not equivalent, so claiming that piracy is unethical does not make it equivalent to theft.

    Regarding the ethics of piracy, that can be discussed, and I have opinions on that, but that isn’t the conversation at hand. Many people have different viewpoints on the ethics of piracy, and the data regarding the effects of copyright and copyright infringement isn’t particularly good data.

  60. I really don’t see how anyone can deny that piracy is a bad thing, but on the other hand I really don’t understand how anyone could be so dense as to not see the vast difference between stealing cars off a lot (Or CDs/DVDs from a store) and stealing a piece of software. The numbers are VASTLY inflated, and guesstimates at best. The reason for this is that there is no way to know for sure how many copies of something have been pirated, so it will always just be an estimate. Some companies even take the difference between what they expected their sales to be and what their sales actually are and assume that the difference is because of piracy.

    Piracy *IS* dirty and immoral but it’s only a profit loss IF the perpetrator would have purchased the software somewhere down the road. As pointed out by an earlier comment people pirate for a variety of reasons. Some are too poor to buy software (Or think they are) and to some it’s just more convenient. If a car dealership gets 10 cars, and 3 are stolen … The car dealership can only sell 7 cars. Physical product is GONE. No matter what that’s money lost. If the greedy software pirates download 10,000 copies of a program … There are still just as many physical and digital copies (Obviously) left in the world … If the pirates were never ever under any circumstances going to buy those items it’s not a loss for the company. It’s individuals taking something that they have no right to take, it’s wrong, it’s immoral, and in a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but it’s not nearly as damaging as the industry would like you to believe.

    Numbers are vastly inflated by the industry, and they’re high guesses to start with, plus they’re not nearly as damaging as is claimed. Pirates shouldn’t exist, but the industry shouldn’t try to deceive us either. Nor should it embrace the current trend of “Our software didn’t sell as much as we hoped it would, so rather than looking at what the target audience didn’t like about our product … Let’s blame piracy!” Honestly both pirates and the software/gaming/movie industry are really starting to annoy me.

  61. It used to be, “Developers! Developers! Developers!”

    Now it’s, “Lawyers! Lawyers! Lawyers!”

    The innovation by Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec, among others, is truly inspiring.