Is downloading illegal torrents stealing?

Here’s an interesting article which debates this topic.

Downloading is “stealing”

So… you know that incredibly annoying anti-piracy trailer that they keep putting on DVDs? The one you can’t fast-forward or skip past? The one that seems to be on ever-more DVDs these days?

It’s got a lot of flaws… the fact that copyright infringement isn’t theft by any legal definition known to man; the fact that they’re comparing civil and criminal offences (apples and oranges, anyone?); but more than anything else, it’s got the flaw that pirated movies don’t include the stupid bloody thing so the only people who are forced to sit through the fecking “It’s a crime” crap are the ones who bought the damn DVD in the first place.

You have to wonder who came up with the idea of targeted advertising that specifically doesn’t reach the parts of the population you want…

So. My generic view of pirating - movies, music, or software - is that I’m against it. For a lot of reasons. Primarily, it’s because I believe in supporting creators: If you like something enough to acquire your own copy, then you should give something back.

But I have done it a few times. I’ve downloaded a few bits of software. Why? Because I didn’t want it, I just needed it temporarily. e.g. If some annoying company makes it impossible to access a file’s contents without using their software, I have no problem with grabbing said software to get around the problem.

Mostly, tho, I’ve done it because it was the only way. Take an old favourite TV show of mine: The Greatest American Hero. Loved it when I was a kid. But it wasn’t available on video or DVD, at least not in the UK. So I had no problem with finding it online to watch it. Now that it is available on DVD, I have the complete set. I have no problem with a company demanding that you pay for its product, but I do struggle to see how they lose money when you obtain for free a product that they won’t sell you…

So even though I don’t make much use of it, I do like knowing that the option of piracy is available. “Power to the people” and all that. I don’t think it should be used to just leech off creators for free; but I do think it can be used legitimately to bridge the gap between “What I think is acceptable” and “What a multi-million profit-making corporation thinks is acceptable”

But as a general rule, if I want a movie, I’ll buy the DVD. So I find it annoying that DVD players insist on making you sit through the adverts and the anti-piracy crap and flash you that snide “Illegal operation” message when you’re trying to just get to to point where you can watch the damn movie you paid for. On the machine you paid for.

Despite the MPAA’s et al’s greatest efforts, it’s not illegal. It’s just annoying. That’s why FOSS DVD-watching software is so great. It’s designed by people who want to watch DVDs, FOR people who want to watch DVDs. Neither of whom has any interest in what Big Media wants anyone to watch. So they skip the cruft at the beginning and if you want to fast-forward or skip to the menu at any point, you damn well can.

So if you get annoyed by your DVD player telling you what you can and can’t do, consider getting hold of any cheap, clapped-out old PC; shove a nice simple Linux distro like Ubuntu on it; get VLC up and running, and for next to nothing you can have a dedicated DVD-player that will do whatever you tell it to, not what the movie-maker tells it to.

Not only will your DVD collection be massively less annoying, but you’ll get a nice satisfied glow at the thought that you’re annoying the people who created that godawful anti-piracy campaign.[/quote]

Damn straight. And ESPECIALLY if I knew it belonged to you, you greedy corporate piece of money-grubbing shit!

I completely agree with the notion that artists and creators deserve to reap the rewards of their creations and as such gladly buy content I could easily have downloaded for free when I know I’m buying it from the people who created it for example Radiohead who record, produce and distribute their own music themselves. When it’s some bloated corporate middleman crying foul from their diamond encrusted mega mansion, I’m far less inclined to care. Especially in the light of the fact that they harp on about the artists being shortchanged by the “theft” of downloads and yet when they recover millions from suing the downloading public, artists get zip, zero, not a thing. Copyright infringement ≠ theft anyway.

I think the iCloud is going to change things. For the better.

Thing is this, if you make buying DVDs, CDs ultra cheap, there’d be no stealing. Make a classy movie, sell it for 2US Dollars. Everyone will buy it. No thieving. Sell it for 20 and everyone will be downloading it everywhere. Sony, Paramount, Universal should all smarten up and make their profits by numbers instead of price. And forget thieving, I have store bought CDs, my aunt likes the music. I rip them on her MP3 player…is that thieving??? Or is that sharing???Have you seen the Picasso prints everywhere??

Nobody downloads iPod apps because they are just a couple of bucks. So you are right.

there are apps for iPods? Shit, I better get on over to pirate bay quicksmart.

Jesse Brown’s podcast “Search Engine” often deals with this sort of thing.

One show… … log_id=485
… deals with the (Canadian) levy on CDs, with how the extra tax (which they also want to charge on MP3 players) goes to the artistic creators.

Part of the episode: artists suing the music companies for those “Best Hits Of 2005” compilations, for which the bands and singers got nothing for years. The labels breaking copyright on their artists. Bastards.

And on the CD tax in Canada, about 25 cents each CD: 25 million dollars go to the operation that organizes it all. Highest possible average payment per artist: $160. That’s for the whole “artist entity”, i.e. band + managers + agents + producers and so on.

I wonder what the cost/benefit analysis is of those “You wouldn’t steal a handbag” ads. I can’t believe how bitter they make me feel about the companies: “Oh yeah?! Well I’d planned to buy the next season, but now you’ve pissed me off so much I’m going to download. AND steal a car!”

iTunes music store has had me copyright infringing on music less than I once did; I wish their movie offers were more reasonably priced and, crucially, more flexible. I’m bewildered by how hard TV and movie companies seem to be working at driving their customers to the dark side.

[quote=“Dr. McCoy”]Nobody downloads iPod apps because they are just a couple of bucks. So you are right.[/quote]Hmmm. :ponder: Really? I mean…really? I wouldn’t know about that because I pay for everything. :liar:

[quote=“urodacus”]Is it unethical to DL music that you simply cannot find anywhere else, when the artists are dead and buried, when the only enfity who stands to lose anything (and then not even because they don’t offer their back catalogue anyway, trying to force people to buy their new manufactured crap) is a big fat multinational music monopolist like Sony or Time? No, it is most certainly not unethical. In fact, those suckers deserve to be treated that way.

and it’s not theft. as Mick points out, copyright infringement is not theft.[/quote]
I have around 400 gb of music. A lot of it is discontinued music. It is not available to buy in any store in any capacity or online.
Some of it is not even available on ebay unless you are lucky.
But thankfully there are people who have ripped their copies (vinyl in many cases of course) and shared it.

The record companies have no interest in EVER re-released most of that.
Even the band Talking Heads have tapes and tapes of unreleased music that their record company isn’t interested in releasing.
So what is the option?
Find it online and share it yourself.

I never once considered taping an LP as stealing and I don’t consider downloading stealing.

And about 10 years in Wired magazine I remember reading a report on the mp3 rip off.
They concluded that a price for an mp3 should be 19cents. At that price EVERYONE gets a cut and makes a profit.
They are ripping us off.

I believe the copying-is-not-stealing argument to be dubious at best. The simple reason why is that by the act of taking the time and effort to find and pirate something, one has signaled that they have some non-zero utility for that good, and some portion of that utility would have been transferred to the creator of that good had the pirate not copied it. When one takes the benefit of a good without remuneration, that is stealing. The mechanics of whether that good can be easily replicated are irrelevant. The creator of that good expected to get something in return for another’s use of that particular good, and was denied that.

That said, whatever one’s views are on piracy, whether it is right or wrong, whether it is theft or not, it will continue to happen. Businesses who don’t account for this in either their overall business model or tactical execution are in for a world of hurt.

As Wired magazine editor, Chris Anderson, put it: “Information wants to be free.” This is not to say there isn’t a boatload of money to be made in a “free” world. Radiohead’s experiment (see below) with “pay what you want” for their album download was a huge risk for them… it turned out be a huge financial success. Much of the software we all use to today is “free to use” and many of the games “free to play”. Among the most profitable companies in the world today are ones that give away free software, then sell something to enhance, make convenience, or to create status in or with that software. Google, Dropbox… Zynga (Farmville, etc.), are all successes due to this philosophy.

This is the world we live in. “Freemium” and its derivative, “3-Party Free”, has and will continue to dominate business models for digital goods. The dynamics of the economy in a zero-marginal-cost world aren’t very fundamentally different from any other good, it’s just there are more business models possible when it really is near-zero-marginal-cost to serve just one basic-version of that good versus a lot of a souped-up version of that good. The gist of it is that if something costs so little to serve up to more people for “free”, each single paying freemium customer covers a whole boat load of non-paying customers. And then some. The other corollary to this is basically that if you have a whole bunch of people using your stuff for free, that’s a whole lot of eyeballs looking at whatever it is you put there. Which is not a new model at all - Radio and TV were built on this premise.

I work on software for a living and as a passion. Have since I was a teenager. For a good part of that time, I was with a company that relies a great amount on software licenses for its bread: Microsoft. It wasn’t until Google came along and started pushing to make everything run in the browser (any OS is fine) and for free that the world of paid software really started to get shaken up. Now we live in a world where free, or at least extremely cheap, is the norm. As a reference, long before I worked at Microsoft, I stood in line at CompUSA to pay $209 1995 dollars for a CD copy of the Windows 95 OS on its release day. In July, I will sit in my home or office, fire up the App Store on my Mac and pay just $30 2011 dollars for a download of the Lion OS.

I will pay $0.00 for every version of iOS and Android that I get in the future, but I will buy many phones and tablets and other computers that have very sweet margins built in for their manufacturers. This is another form of freemium. “Give away the bits, sell the atoms.” In other words, differentiate in software, give it away, and make margins on the hardware that runs that software or is something affiliated with it. An example of the first is the iPhone and example of the second is free Angry Birds Seasons download, complete with a nicely integrated in-game ad for Angry Birds stuffed animals, just in time for Christmas. Another form of “give away bits, sell atoms” is to give away the plans to make something while also selling a pre-built kit.

This is the world we live in. Declining paid software prices are something Google pushed for from the start and iDevices helped usher in when their ecosystem equilibrated to 99c for-an-app, if not free. In this world, we can’t expect people to pay much if at all for software or any digital good for that matter, so authors, artists, programmers and business people must find models that work in that world. The most astute music artists have been doing this, and movie studios have learned to work with the movie houses to make movies in the theaters still have benefit over a pirated version. Other industries will follow suit, including periodicals and publishers.

Note the name of that 2003 album. Irony? :slight_smile:

Every time I hear this it sounds suspiciously like ‘I want your information to be free, but I want mine to be private’. This seems typically to be the case.

no, that is not stealing as ruled by the Supreme Court in the US, it is copyright infringement. See Dowling v. United States (1985) as reference.

Of course the big media companies call this stealing, it is not, it is infringing on their copyright rights. Much better to use words like stealing and theft which have deep religious and moral implications than calling it what it is, copyright infringement.

Because then people might ask about where did these rights for copyright come from. Previous posters have said, they have no problem paying for something that they want, but have a look at the case above, about the only time the Supreme Court has ever said anything on this, he was a Elvis freak collecting unavailable tracks and printed them on vinyl and they tried to prosecute him as a thief. All he did was violate copyright infringement and the courts agree. Copying does not equate to stealing, the same applies for IP.

For a lot of the pap passing itself off as an indispensable good out there, if i had to pay for it, I would simply do without. Then who gains? neither me or you.

at least i gain from a copy, and you gain by increased brand dissemination.

But most of the time, i can always find a free software option. Now, if it’s worth actually getting, i do pay for it. Photoshop springs to mind here.

Not Office, though. and Certainly nothing by Justin Bieber (and if my right arm downloaded it, my left arm would delete it AND cut off my right arm).

If the Powers That Be don’t want me to torrent my favorite TV shows, they should air them in Taiwan at set times on fixed days of the week, without the spectre of sudden day changes, pre-emptions or cancellations.

If the Powers That Be don’t want me to torrent movies, they should lower cinema admission prices to something reasonable: something under US$5.

If the Powers That Be don’t want me to torrent hard-to-find songs, they should make them available on CD collections at a reasonable price.

They started it. What should they expect??

If the Powers that Be wanted me to pay taxes, they wouldn’t have offshore tax shelters.

If the Powers that Be wanted a clean environment, they would have made it harder to bribe my congressman.

If the Powers that Be didn’t want me to eat human flesh, they wouldn’t have made it taste like chicken.

mabagel address you… I accuse you of keeping me from watching my legally purchased DVDs. I have family from three regions of the world. Because I can, I remove the region code. But it’s getting increasingly harder to do so…

You who are against copying must give me an alternative. Buying on version for Israel, America and Taiwan is not an option. I have artsy fartsy friends who buy me French DVD’s. I still back them up and watch them. When that loop hole is closed, we will come with pitchforks and torches.

Seriously… You can’t defend yourself if you can’t provide a fair worldwide distribution system for us global people.
Are you that person who forced the DVD player makers into enforcing Region codes…

FlashBack TAIWAN VHS then DVD. You could openly buy fixed region one DVD players in SOGO. There were even add-on card readers that let Chinese people play user created subtitles.
Then… suddenly Region coding became enforced. No, matter the store would tell you how to enter the code or you could just call the manufacturer.
Finally, I tried to call and the guy was sh*ing in his pants. He wanted to help me but said there is no way he would tell me the codes due to litigation. What respect I had is gone… I really want to know who wasted his time and spoiled a good thing. I never copied and I never downloaded until the your friends forced my hand.
I’ll tell you how BOBHONEST I was. My old boss was afraid to tell me when our written off computer equipment was going to be salvaged from the dumpster just before they were to be destroyed. He was afraid would alert authorities or something. The lack of common sense has turned me into a monster. Actually, I now happily pay for my music…

Lets say I want to download a recording of love me tender by Elvis, here in Taiwan, its not illegal. Copyright for recorded material lasts 50 years. In the US however, it is illegal, as they keep increasing the length of time, which is now at something like 95 years.

Originally the length of copyright in the US was 14 years, extended each time it was about to expire. One might argue the morality of such extended lengths in copyright protection. You could even site the US constitution that specifically stated a limited time should apply.

I think everyone would like to see fair play, I go out to watch the movies often enough. But many of our laws, especially in the US are in the interests of corporations, not so much a Democracy but a Corporatocracy.

Chill out.

First, I, nor my friends never did anything of the sort you mentioned. Secondly, read my post before going all crazy. While I stated my position based purely on the mechanics of the matter, I stated that piracy should be expected and that businesses that don’t adapt to this are going to be in trouble. Thirdly, you are copying for personal use and not mass re-distribution, and that’s something completely different since you have already purchased a copy of your good, and thus given the the creator of the good the profit he expected to get from your use.

As for your specific issue, firstly, region codes are a legacy feature that was created to allow phased regional releases of movies. They were mostly ineffective a decade ago, and they are totally irrelevant now given the coming-of-age of pure digital distribution. With a little effort, any standard computer, and some Googling, we all know region codes on DVDs are not a problem to defeat, nor is CSS. Anyway, physical media (DVDs, Blue Rays, etc.) is soon to die and studios have embraced both worldwide simultaneous movie/music launch and things like 3D as differentiating factors to draw box-office, so this notion of region-coded players is going away.

Yeah… I better take a chill pill… Every three years, I have to come up with new way of watching my movies from home. But I disagree with you about region codes. Region codes have been replaced by IP Region Blocking. I still can’t watch BBC on my i player here in Taiwan. I have to buy and ip and go outside the law.

Copying and pirates actually convinced the BBC AMERICA to simultaneously release Doctor Who on TV with Britain. Great going Pirates. But still, not for us small fish in Taiwan.
Am I going to do with out Doctor Who… I think not. Some back home will record it or I will watch it from China.
Why are they doing this? To protect the potential local distributors? There is no interest. Only a few Geeky foreigners.