Saturday Waffling (September 14th, 2013)

(56 comments)

It's finally dawned on me that since I cannot actually finish the book before November, hurrying through the last few Hartnell essays instead of getting Chapter 3 of Last War in Albion together is really dumb. So I've been working on that, and it's coming along well. So well that I'm going to keep this brief and get back to writing about Maxwell the Magic Cat, because I am a sick and depraved person and actually think that's a fun way to spend a Friday evening.

I've also just had a fascinating conversation on the charming moral grey areas of piracy. Which brings us to our discussion topic for the weekend - where are your moral lines on when it is or isn't ethical to pirate media? When there's no legal and in-print edition? When you're researching something and just need to check a reference? Whenever you want to? Never? Tell me, dear readers.

Comments

T. Hartwell 3 years, 5 months ago

I actually just commented on this elsewhere, but my personal stance is only to pirate something is it's not readily commercially available, or will be soon. So an out-of-print CD or book or whatever is fine, but a new Blu-Ray or book whatever absolutely is not.

Of course, the really fascinating part of this for me is when it comes to theatre bootlegs. With theatre being as ever-changing as it is the members of the community regularly trade stuff like audio and video recordings, and even printed scores...none of which are, of course, commercially available, but none of which I would term strictly "legal", either. But I can't say I'm excempt from this, as I have something like 30-40 recordings of the musical Chess, 20 or so of Les Mis, and a boatload of various Sondheim shows.

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T. Hartwell 3 years, 5 months ago

Edit, that should be "won't be soon". If it's gonna be available soon I'm going to wait to purchase it legally.

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Chris 3 years, 5 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Chris 3 years, 5 months ago

I know people who make their entire living through music sales, and I know they are hurt by illegal downloads. At the same time, I want to have a complete collection that includes long out-of-print items. While I've not illegally downloaded any of their releases, I have gotten burned copies from someone else (which amounts to the same thing). Those copies I only listened to twice (once when I received them, and again about five years later) because I did feel guilty. When those recently became available as legit MP3 downloads, I threw my wallet at my computer screen and am now happy to say I legally own a complete collection (well, one European-only limited edition is missing, but it's a live recording of one show in a tour that had several other releases, so I can let it go... for now).

My college years saw a lot of eBay scouring for rare items, and a lot of my money went toward those. But the nature of used media is that the money doesn't go to the artist; yes, some particular vinyl record may be worth $50 or even $100, but that money went to another music collector, not the band. That's a realization that's only hit me recently, and I don't know if I'd be more willing to download copies of items that can only be gained through collectors' markets if I still needed to fill in my personal collection. I think I'd probably get in contact with the band and say "hey, I'll give you $10 if you can pass me MP3s of that album, $10 you wouldn't have if I bought it for $50 on eBay." That's obviously not an option for every artist out there. Fortunately my musical tastes fall toward small independents so it's plausible that I can connect directly with the band if I tried.

I do feel that there's a perception difference that comes with digital media. I'm among the last generation to experience a time in which physical media was the only option for music, and I've met younger people who say they have NEVER had a physical album. I'm only correlating here, but I do find a higher rate of illegal downloading among those who don't have experience with physical media. My hypothesis is that their perception of music is that of an ethereal thing (which I agree with), and not as a product that is created and sold by real people (which is where I differ). I think the presence, the texture, of a physical object reminds us that somebody put it together, that somebody took the time, that somebody needs to buy food and depends on sales to do that.

I am all for digital media (I'm trying to rid myself of physical objects wherever possible), but I would not want to lose touch with the human element, lest I stop actually supporting the music I enjoy, and the music I enjoy ceases to be created.

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Daibhid C 3 years, 5 months ago

When you're researching something and just need to check a reference?

This. It's okay, in my mind, to find a pirated online version of a book if I just want to get a quote correct and am not actually going to read it all the way through. (I'd prefer finding a legal quotations site, but I'm not picky.)

If I actually *own* the book it becomes more okay because I'm not stealing *anything* (and at the same time less okay because now I'm just being lazy).

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Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

My general rule of thumb with downloading is generally along T. Hartwell's line -- if it's not readily commercially available and doesn't look like be in the near future, then it's okay. I'm also willing to supplement a download with a future purchase if it is / does become available (for example, a TV episode that won't air over here or come out on DVD/Blu-Ray/the iTunes store for a while).

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C. 3 years, 5 months ago

As i said in that discussion (while a bit drunk) I think it's v. morally unobjectionable to DL something whose owner chooses to not make it available for purchase or legit viewing/listening: that includes UK TV programs unavailable in the US and vice versa. The academic research angle is another logical reason. And even in the days when copyright ruled supreme, I never saw why bootleg concert recordings were cracked down on: the only people who had any interest in 'em were fans, who likely bought other things by the artist.

But it was far more justifiable to pirate, from an economic standpoint, when the only alternative was expensive CDs or DVD sets; pirating also could let people sample media they might have otherwise never heard of.

now, when you can hear pretty much 80% of all popular music on streaming sites or YouTube, and you can get used books for 50 cents on Amazon or as cheap e-books, pirating (of available media) just seems like an act of willful laziness.

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BZArcher 3 years, 5 months ago

I think I'm on the same beam - if the item isn't available commercially or through a resource like the public library, I'm likely to look for it. I'd also say if, for example, it's an out of print book that's only available at exorbitant prices through used book dealers, I'll also go for it.

I'm also willing to consider acquiring copies of media I already own, because at that point I'm just letting someone else make me a backup.

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Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

I run into piracy most often as a retro gamer. I tend to take a hard-line stance against video game piracy via emulation - but not for any ethical reason. The main problem I have is that the emulation experience is inauthentic and decadent, and devalues the games to the extent that there's no joy in playing them that way.

Because I'm a tragic Nintendo obsessive, I have used emulation in the past to play games that were never available in my region (specifically Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, and Rhythm Tengoku). But I never played more than an hour into them because the experience was .... lacking. Luckily the first two have become available on Nintendo's Virtual Console, and for the third I just caved in and ordered a Japanese copy of the game.


I guess the bottom line for me is that if it's not worth your money, then it's not worth your time.

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Alex Antonijevic 3 years, 5 months ago

I tend to download a lot of US/UK TV as it's released because sometimes waiting for Australia to air it is just unbearable. Even when they really do try and fast track Doctor Who, it's still six day behind and that's long enough to get spoiled. I mainly do it so I don't have to continually avoid discussion. I suppose it's because the Internet is a world without regions, mostly, and TV networks just can't keep up.

The stuff I download I generally delete after watching and if I want to watch it again, I end up buying the DVD/Blu Ray. I have a pretty huge collection. It really is true that the people who pirate stuff also tend to have much bigger legit collections than most others.

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Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

Oh, I should add that I know Nintendo's Virtual Console is technically emulation. But psychologically it's not, and that's what's important.

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Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

Even when they really do try and fast track Doctor Who, it's still six day behind and that's long enough to get spoiled.

For Season 7 the ABC was airing Doctor Who just 15 hours after its U.K. premiere - and I still found the wait agonising. Which is odd, because for the vast majority of Doctor Who I was watching it forty years behind.

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elvwood 3 years, 5 months ago

This matches my feelings. With OOP books I like to get a second-hand copy just because I prefer reading physical books, but if I can't I'll read a download (if it's for sale in eBook format, then I'll pay for it). Though the library sometimes saves me from that choice - I've recently read The Tomorrow Windows because it's one of the ones they have available, and half of my NSA reading has been borrowed rather than bought..

The one where I have a problem is if I sell or give away a CD. I've ripped all of them, and sometimes I forget which I've got rid of. But I'm trying to get better at that, because I do regard it as wrong to listen to it once I no longer own the original. That's why I've actually bought.Creed of the Kromon twice, even though it's my least favourite BF audio.

It took me a while to adjust my morality to match the digital age, so there are probably also downloads lurking on my hard drives or backup disks that I consider wrong. But not ones I've got recently.

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matt bracher 3 years, 5 months ago

I can only think of the words "The Star Wars Holiday Special". If it were commercially / legitimately available then I would purchase a copy. Until then it's something that can't be experienced any other way than the handful of different bootleg transfers (of which I have collected several, since each one has its own strengths).

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Kit 3 years, 5 months ago

And for the first half of S7 it was on iView ten minutes after UK TX concluded. If Alex could torrent it faster than that, he was using a TARDIS.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

One dimension that doesn't get discussed much is that, from the perspective of "the creator getting paid", buying used isn't markedly different from piracy (There's one industry at least that is actually trying to rub out used sales for just this reason. And, of course, DRM design has a heavy component of "Now at last we can cockblock the right of first sale"). There are, of course, lots of other dimensions to the issue, but I know that a lot of people base their decisions about the morality of piracy primarily on the idea of taking food out of the mouths of authors.

Additionally, as I always do, I'll point out that copyright law is a series of massive and generally ill-advised legal hacks designed to do a thing which never ever works: use the force of law to compel things which don't have certain natural limitations to behave as if they do, in order that we can treat them the same was as we treat some analogous thing which has those limitations -- it's like legislating that cars can go no faster than horses, so that we can use existing laws about horse-safety to cover cars. The legal understanding of theft is so wrapped up in the fundamental exclusivity of physical property that "intellectual property" as a concept is flawed in a way similar to how "corporations are people" is. It's just that no one has managed to come up with a better model yet -- and no one has an incentive to since the current understanding favors people with lots of money.

Finally, this may be a decreasingly relevant point, but there was a time when a lot of the more piratable business areas had business models that were heavily based around tricking people into paying for things they would not waste their money on if they knew what they'd be getting. The internet has made it progressively harder to get away with that, but back in, say, the late 90s, there was a certain wisdom to the idea of "Pirate it first, and if you like it, then buy it," since the alternative was "Throw the dice and if they don't come up 7 or 11, you just flushed $50 down the crapper.

(All this said, despite having a considerable background in intellectual property policy, I have to be very careful talking about it because a family friend (through a long and protracted story) more-or-less died due to a trademark dispute, so I find the whole concept painful)

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Dan 3 years, 5 months ago

Mainly if I've bought and owned the item at any point in the past - though I usually prefer a hard copy of anything anyway.

When there is no legal and in print edition yes.

For other reasons only when there's a stronger ethical reason to pirate it. To just check something small - a grey area, but I would delete it at least.

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C. 3 years, 5 months ago

"One dimension that doesn't get discussed much is that, from the perspective of "the creator getting paid", buying used isn't markedly different from piracy"

while i agree this is true, isn't it also a matter of scale? you buy a CD, resell it, one other person buys that CD. You rip the CD, put it up on Limewire, and conceivably hundreds of people download it.

agree copyright extensions are currently insane: there is no reason why, say, the Hot Five recordings of Louis Armstrong, Ulysses and the Great Gatsby shouldn't be in the public domain by now.

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Marionette 3 years, 5 months ago

Okay, here's a bunch of non-hypotheticals for you (since I've actually had them happen): You buy an album on tape or record, or a movie on VHS. Twenty years later you still own the record/tape but you no longer have anything to play it on. Is it morally okay to obtain a pirate copy to enable you to listen to/watch something you have legally bought but can no longer play? What about if you buy a CD and you lose it, or someone steps on it and breaks it?

These days the publishers are all about the intellectual property, rather than the medium it is recorded on to: shouldn't that cut both ways? If you have bought something legally once, doesn't that give you the moral right to be able to listen to/watch it, even if the medium you bought it on was destroyed? (Not including different editions with extras that weren't included on the edition you bought, for the sake of argument.)

Of course, under this system you are morally a pirate if you borrow a book from the library, watch a DVD belonging to someone else at their house, or buy anything second hand, since you are not compensating the legal publisher for your use of their product.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

THis is where licensing comes in. To their mind, you are buying the physical medium. The fact that the medium has a copy of some content on it is in a sense tangential. Out of the goodness of their hearts, they will grant you an extremely limited and non-transferrable license to consume the content that as luck would have it just happened to be on that otherwise-blank tape (that is, you *bought* the medium, they *granted* you the license. Sometimes). The flipside of this is that in the event that something on that media hurts you, their liability is only for the physical medium itself, since that's the only thing they sold you.

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Chris 3 years, 5 months ago

If the Holiday Special had been available for purchase, I too would have purchased it. And then regretted that decision for the rest of my life.

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Chris 3 years, 5 months ago

The way I've interpreted that licensing model (and it's not "these days" only - I've seen that message on VHS tapes 20+ years ago) is this: you have purchased a license to view the content, and the physical medium also acts as your proof of purchase. If you sell that proof of purchase, you are no longer entitled to view the content.

That non-transferable part of the license would then of course make the entire second-hand market illegal, so my interpretation must be wrong, or the powers that be have decided to selectively enforce their rules. Though I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the first stores that specialized in used CDs were slapped with lawsuits, and perhaps there's now an exception for that business model thanks to a court ruling.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, there's ample reason to think that EULAs are utterly unenforceable and, like attempting to demand permissions for use of content that is self-evidently covered under fair use, amounts to little more than intimidation tactics to try to claim a larger degree of copyright protection than actually exists.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 5 months ago

This is really interesting to me, as it suggests that the corporate imprimatur is what makes the emulation authentic. Or is it the act of having paid for it? I mean, you've already lost the things that are, to me, the real imprimaturs of authenticity: the controller and the technical idiosyncrasies of the original console (for instance, I had the top-loading NES for years - the games look wrong without vertical striping).

If I recall, Virtual Console releases even add a second copyright year to the title screens, and often change small things. Not all of the authorized Super Mario Bros rereleases have Minus World, and the GBA release of Link to the Past alters the Chris Houlihan room. Surely this is inauthentic in a more significant way than playing a ROM dump of an original NES cartridge.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

Yeah. The crux of the matter is this: EULAs are not binding. But nothing else gives you permission to copy the content. So in principle, if you do not accept being bound by the EULA, you are violating copyright when you order your playing device to translate the pits and lands on the CD into audio coming out of your speakers. This is, of course, nonsense, but the result of that is that whether or not any particular copying is legal falls under the nebulously defined notion of "fair use", and therefore relies entirely on what the media company's lawyer can persuade a judge of -- it boils down to "How much of a EULA is binding is a function of what you can convince a court is not ridiculous in it"). For the most part, that's been interpreted as "Basically whatever the media company says you can't do, you can't do. Except first sale." But things like the DMCA sweeten the pot even more, because they include things like "If the people who make the media include some kind of technological means to render first sale impossible, it's illegal for anyone to circumvent them. It's illegal for anyone to TRY to circumvent them. It's illegal for anyone to DISCUSS HOW you might circumvent them. It's illegal to possess tools that could be USED to circumvent them." (Precursors to the DMCA tried to go even farther; one of them had a clause along the lines of "It is illegal to use any electronic device to perform a function other than its advertised use") It would still be legal to sell the original physical media, but doing so would be pointless since the protective technology would render the content unusable.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 5 months ago

I think copyright is simultaneously censorship, protectionism, and slavery, as well as being far less effective at securing remuneration to artists (as opposed to massive publishing companies) than other models that are, happily, beginning to emerge. Copying is not theft.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

Also, it's like bombing Syria: a bad idea, ineffective, and being pushed by people who steadfastly refuse to consider that there might be something we could do instead that isn't "Just ignore the problem"

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Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

I had to look up the word 'imprimatur', but yeah that's pretty much it. I'm playing a Nintendo game with a Nintendo controller on a Nintendo console. I consider that pretty authentic.

Of course I don't mean to suggest they have the same authenticity as the original game - they're more like an authentic replica. Preferable to a pirated version, but still not the real thing.

But they come closer to the original than any other emulation I've ever seen. The framerate is consistent, the speed accurate, the controls smooth, and most importantly of all the NES games flicker accurately. The output resolution is a little higher...but you can't have everything.

As for the changes you cite, I own very few Virtual Console games, being fortunate enough to have most of the games I want in their original form. None of them have extra copyright dates - to my knowledge the only time this has happened is on The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition GameCube disc (which also fiddled with the OSDs and changed the original Zelda's story text). None have had glitches removed (you can still beat Ocarina of Time on the VC in under 25 mins).

In fact, the only notable change in any of my VC games was in Wrecking Crew - which restored the level save feature that was only available on the original Famicom version.

Sorry for the infodump, but as you mentioned the Chris Houlihan room I figured you'd be up for this level of detail :).

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Ununnilium 3 years, 5 months ago

I think copyright's a quite good and useful thing that's been used for some rather unpleasant things lately. Sort of like genetic engineering.

As for me - when I was younger and had basically no economic freedom, I downloaded anything and everything. Nowadays, I mostly just get illegal copies if it's something specific and it'd be prohibitively difficult to get legally, but I do occasionally get recent episodes of TV shows that are out there on DVD, but not streaming.

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Triturus 3 years, 5 months ago

I've never downloaded and kept any TV or films, but I have watched quite a lot of unofficial online streams of TV series. For example, Breaking Bad, which was messed around with so much in the UK until the recent series 5.2. I watched all of seasons 1-4 online but have since bought them on DVD.

I don't feel that there is anything particularly morally wrong about watching something via online stream that has aired free-to-view in the UK, although I'm sure that this makes no difference in legal terms.

I find myself quite conflicted about music downloads. On the one hand, I get quite annoyed about the fact that already stupidly rich old musicians or their estate get paid every time someone plays their song on the radio, so you think "Well who loses out if I download something like Axis: Bold as Love; it's not like Chippendale's descendants expected to get paid every time someone sat on one of his chairs for 75 years after he made it."

But on the other hand, I do see the argument that money from sales of the umpteenth reissue of Pink Floyd's back catalogue is potentially used by record companies to subsidise releases by artists that don't sell many records. I just wish I was more confident that that actually happened.


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EclecticDave 3 years, 5 months ago

I'd add that a robust second-hand market can also increase sales of new copies as knowing you can get some of your money back later can factor into your decision to purchase an item.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

Which is why I think the videogame industry has a rude awakening coming when they suddenly discover the percentage of people who won't pay them $60 for a new release when they can't get some of it back by selling it later.

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Alex 3 years, 5 months ago

I imagine NZ has a pretty high rate of illegal pirating (if I go by conversations I have had with friends and family about their habits) for a few reasons:

1) most TV is shown 6-12 months behind its original broadcast in its country of origin (ie. the new US season that starts this month won't start in NZ till about January at the earliest, but more likely March/April) - although this is very slowly getting better.

2) TV shows are not available to buy on iTunes (and there are no NZ equivalent of Netflix or Hulu) and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

3) our legal suppliers (like iTunes and those selling physical copies) don't have the range that other countries do - there is a lot of stuff I'd like to get that isn't on iTunes (but is on the US iTunes store) and hard copies can't be obtained as they are OOP.

4) probably the biggest driving factor is that DVD/Blu-ray titles are priced astronomically. Our releases are just the Australian releases with a NZ censor sticker put on the cover (no other difference!) and yet we can be expected to pay $20-30 more (at least) for the privilege. We also pay more to buy stuff off iTunes!

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm a retro gamer too and am not especially fond of either PC emulation *or* the Virtual Console. I use emulators to try out games I may have missed back in the day before I buy them (which is actually a tack I use for most things I pirate), but I almost always do end up tracking down the original cartridge. It helps I have most of the old hardware anyway, and if I don't there's Hyperkin's products, which are enough to give me an authentic experience without the corporate imprimatur. Anyway, as long as there are still serious ownership rights issues associated with digital goods, that will put me off any kind online service that distributes games over the Internet (Steam is the one exception).

I'm also getting more into the ROM hacking and repro cart communities: I like the idea of a bottom-up way of tweaking older games or making new games in the style of old ones. It reminds me of what playing and collecting video games felt like twenty years ago and to me fits with that theme of "nostalgia for imagined futures that never arrived" that Phil mentioned in regards to Marvelman and that has become sort of a guiding philosophy for my life.

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Nick Smale 3 years, 5 months ago

As a teenager in the 80s, I don't think I ever purchased a physical album either. My generation's equivalent of the pirate download was home taping; recording songs from the radio or from borrowed (vinyl) albums. I didn't start paying for music until I had an income; is there any reason to think that today's young people will behave any differently?

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timber-munki 3 years, 5 months ago

I prefer a fluid approach to piracy, for example we shouldn't look too harshly on people who illegally audio recording a program off-air that the copyrightholders subsequently wipe...

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Marionette 3 years, 5 months ago

I do suspect a Doctor Who forum is possibly not the ideal place to espouse a hard line anti-piracy stance.

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Alex Antonijevic 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, iView quality was a bit rubbish. I'm a sucker for HD these days.

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Scurra 3 years, 5 months ago

Well exactly. I tend to summarise it as: "time, money, interest - choose any two."

There is some conflicting evidence that those who download a lot also spend the most - I suspect that this may be related to a similar claim that heavy library users also often own more books than the average person as well. It's all about context.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

Don't you know that home taping is killing music? Thanks to home taping, we might never hear another album out of such greats as Madonna, Bon Jovi or Rick Astley! What will you do when Rick Rolls out of town?

(Hopping up a bit. I buy an album if I like three songs on it. This hardly ever steers me wrong (Basically once in the past 20 years). Movies and music I don't mind not having physical copies of, though I am not keen on streaming -- my copy needn't be physical, but it does need to be mine. Books, otoh, I just like the physicality of too much. I really wish there was some system where they bundled the ebook with the hardback.)

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breyerii 3 years, 5 months ago

Writing from Italy, I have to say: what would I have to do if I were to wait what our broadcasters planned for? To give you tjhe ida, Asylum aired in Britain on 1 Sep 2012, here it first aired on 6 Jun 2013.

And I don't factually remember, but I can exactly sayt what I did: in the evening of 1/9/2012 I downloaded the episode and watched it, the following day our topping amateur subtitlers provideed their constantly excellent subs, so I got them and watched it again. And on 6/6/2013, there I was, watching Asylum (along with Dinosaurs) for the third time...

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Chris 3 years, 5 months ago

Amazon is introducing a bundled program next month, wherein the Kindle copy is dramatically reduced in cost physical books you buy. For select books (whatever that means), and new book purchases (not used), but it will extend back in time. Any book you've bought from Amazon since 1995 might very well be eligible and you could get the Kindle copy for just a dollar or two. I'm excited about it.

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Bennett 3 years, 5 months ago

It doesn't help that the industry seems to have set up a system of churning out annual updates (like Call of Madden 2K13 II: Championship Edition), which relies on customers who see a purchase as a month-long rental that costs the difference between the game's price and trade-in value.

If they want to sell games for full-price and limit them to one owner, then they'd better start making games that that person will still want to play in one, five, ten year's time.

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KMT75 3 years, 5 months ago

What's the greater act of theft? Downloading the recovered episode of Galaxy 4 from Pirate Bay that the copyright holder held in such high regard that it junked, or adding it as a special feature on a DVD of a story that a lot of fans have bought three times already? How much of that money goes into William Russell or Carole Ann Ford's pockets in terms of royalties?

I bought Live at Leeds twice. Each time the liner notes told me it was the definitive edition and there was no possibility any more of the performance could be recovered.

I can't tell you how many DVDs I bought at $25 the Tuesday they were released that are sitting in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.

So, I have no problem whatsoever with 99% of piracy. It's only stealing when I do it because I'm not rich enough to buy enough Congressmen to make it legal.

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Scaedura 3 years, 5 months ago

Writing from Belgium, Asylum of the Daleks still hasn't aired here yet.

Although I'm cheating a bit, because we can actually get BBC1 and BBC2 legally here anyway (for which I consider myself very lucky). But still it takes such a long time here for other stuff to actually get here, if it even does. Plus the fact that we still don't have Netflix, all the video rental stores are closing down (I now have to drive 30 minutes for the nearest one) and the things you can rent through digital services are so limited and severely overpriced. The end result is that for a movie and tv-series geek like me my hobby would be ridiculously expensive without the occasional piracy.

But if it not were for piracy I would not have discovered Doctor Who two years ago and own the DVD's, posters, sonic screwdriver and a ridiculous amount of other stuff. That along with countless of other DVD's I've bought of stuff after illegally watching things.

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Darren K. 3 years, 5 months ago

It's never stealing - literally. It's only copyright violation. The Man just wants you to think it is theft. They also want you to think buying the entire Who discography three times is a perfectly acceptable ask.

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matt bracher 3 years, 5 months ago

My wonderful wife thinks I'm mad. But I counter that it's FAR better than Episode I, and it's kind of fun to watch the train wreck. As it is people have produced commentary tracks (four at last count), homages, mockeries (as if that were possible), and one frightening devotee even collected all the online material he could find and created a bonus disc of sorts.

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jonathan inge 3 years, 5 months ago

Sharing media is preserving culture.

Think of the prose, music, and other knowledge which has been passed down.

Copyright is a fairly new idea. One propped up during the era of mechanical reproduction and exploitation of science for for-profit business. It's original intent was to encourage innovation. But now it's being used as a means against free speech and free thought. Notice how it has been twisted and extended to fit for-profit businesses who have ties to government. Disney and pharmaceutical companies are the biggest perpetrators. (Yes, medicine is big business and many companies want to relax laws on 'ownership' of genetic material.)

The fact lost episodes of Doctor Who have been recovered and hopefully will continue to be is because someone made the decision to preserve it in some form. Think of those folks who made audio recordings of nearly every episode. I'm sure their actions would be considered piracy from 1960s to today. In the United States, there was much legal hubbub about VCRs. But with VCRs and now websites such as Youtube, we now have access to television and film which would have disappeared (possibly forever).

Fortunately, some companies see file sharing as free marketing. "Game of Thrones" probably remains on the air because it is the #1 most downloaded TV show. A little known Canadian series called "Lost Girl" gained attention as the #10 most downloaded TV show some years ago.

What about movies such "It's a Wonderful Life"? Instead of sharing, some NBC bigwig decided to buy the music in the film and thereby 'own' it. Not cool.

I fully support paying for art and entertainment through 'official' channels. But I'm often wary of those channels when I learn how artists weren't paid their worth or were basically enslaved by contracts.

This is why the Internet has been the big game changer. Artists can have direct access to audiences and their buying power. No need for bloated corporations.

Sadly, some folks out there do decide to sell copies of hard-to-find stuff. Sure, some say the cost covers postage and raw materials, but others are making tidy profits. Just make stuff available for download, torrent, stream, or whatever. It would clear out this idea that people are stealing stuff.

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Froborr 3 years, 5 months ago

My rules are:

For broadcast media, if I can watch it in an online streaming, ad-supported way I will. Otherwise I will download. It's really just a faster version of recording something off the TV I no longer bother to have.

For non-broadcast media, if there is (or shortly will be) a way to pay for it legitimately I will; otherwise I accept their lack of interest in selling to me and download.

For computer software I just don't care, I'll buy if it's affordable or download.

I actually don't regard "piracy" itself as a moral issue, since anything you can download is by definition non-rival and therefore either a club good or public good--downloading copyrighted material is less like stealing and more like using someone else's pool pass or crashing a party. The moral crisis is not the existence of people willing to do this, but rather the capitalist structures that force creative endeavors to function on the same model as grocery stores and factories.

A side note: I have a very large library of books. Almost all of them were purchased at library sales or used book stores, and thus the authors and publishers didn't get a dime on the sale. Is that a moral issue?

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Froborr 3 years, 5 months ago

Oh, one more thing--if I already own a copy of something, I will download pirated versions freely. This is significant when, say, my laptop doesn't have a DVD drive and I need an image or clip for an article or panel.

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Froborr 3 years, 5 months ago

Also worth noting: Tor, one of the largest science fiction publishers in the U.S., experimented with putting some of their books up on the Tor website. They found making a book available for free significantly increased sales.

Similarly, the anime localizer/distributor Funimation teamed with Hulu to create a streaming video service where you can watch their new releases for free (with ads) or pay to watch past releases (I *think* without ads, not sure). They also more recently started a thing where they put shows up on YouTube, and slowly cycle which ones are free vs. pay-per-view. This has resulted in a precipitous drop in anime piracy in the last two years, though I honestly have no idea if that's translated into higher sales for them.

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Froborr 3 years, 5 months ago

Oh, and on the Funimation thing: I've been told by insiders that Funimation keeps a close eye on the fansub (that is, people who take pirated copies of the Japanese airing, translate them, and redistribute with subtitles added) community, and actively pursues licenses for the shows that have the most popular fansubs, since that's actually a better gauge of what the English-language audience is interested in than Japanese viewership figures.

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Travis Butler 3 years, 5 months ago

I admit, I find this line of argument to be pretty much self-justifying bullsh*t.

The key for me is that even when buying used (or getting a copy from the library, to use the other common example), the author did get paid for that particular copy. In the era of physical media, when copying was difficult/expensive, you could say that effectively all copies in circulation were paid for, and the circulation was limited; if you wanted a copy and couldn't find it used, you had to buy one. If you wanted to rent/check one out from the library, and someone else had it checked out? You had to wait, or buy your own copy. (Or push the library/rental store into buying enough copies to satisfy demand.)

As long as the supply is limited to paid-for copies, increasing popularity rewards the author; even if some people buy used, there's a limited number of copies in circulation and some people will have to buy new. And for practical purposes, every copy in circulation has benefited the author.

Whereas if you just make a copy, the author gets nothing from the new copy in circulation, and there's no incentive to buy new copies because of limited supply. So a lose-lose situation.

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Ross 3 years, 5 months ago

I'll agree that copyright has historically been useful, but not that it was ever a "good" or correct solution to protecting the rights of authorship, only that it was a solution that approximated the right results under the constraints of the seventeenth century printing industry. The authorship equivalent of classical mechanics in a world that's increasingly relativistic.

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KMT75 3 years, 5 months ago

I like to think of the 800 or so episodes of Doctor Who that I downloaded as mine, on a standard finders-keepers basis of course.

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Jessie Bryant 3 years, 2 months ago

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