Illegal File Sharing Isn't Stealing

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Here we go again with the whole "illegal file sharing is / isn't stealing debate." Hit the comments link below to see why it is / isn't stealing.

The entertainment industry has spend countless millions attempting to convince the public that illegally downloading music or videos from the Internet is tantamount to sticking a gun in a person’s face and demanding his wallet. “Content theft,” they say, is just as bad as any other type of “stealing.” But according to Stuart P. Green, a Rutgers Law School professor and expert on theft law, copyright infringement isn’t really “stealing” at all.
 

Lord Nassirbannipal

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Well, I thought that this had already been established by the Supreme Court back in 1983.

It's not piracy, either. Piracy is defined by US Code as murder and pillage on the high seas. The industry wants it to be thought of as theft and piracy because those words have worse connotations than copyright infringement. Of course, they're doing more to harm their sales by demonizing their core fan base as "thieves" and "pirates" than unauthorized downloading ever could.
 

demingo

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Well, I thought that this had already been established by the Supreme Court back in 1983.

It's not piracy, either. Piracy is defined by US Code as murder and pillage on the high seas. The industry wants it to be thought of as theft and piracy because those words have worse connotations than copyright infringement. Of course, they're doing more to harm their sales by demonizing their core fan base as "thieves" and "pirates" than unauthorized downloading ever could.

Yes it was decided in Dowling v United States... however people will continue to try to agrue otherwise.
 

kilik64

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My favorite thing to point out whenever this is brought up is that copyright infringement does NOT NECESSARILY equal a lost sale.

No real figures to back it up, but do you really think that every time a person downloads a song or movie that they would have paid to listen or watch that content otherwise? If its worth the money people will pay for it. If its not, they wont and wouldnt have regardless. They just would have never consumed the content.
 

Sovereign

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This always makes me laugh. The "businessmen" of the RIAA/MPAA/et.al. refuse to admit their existing model does not fit the market as it stands. Instead of embracing the new trend (iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Steam) they try to litigate their profits, legislate subsidies and in general be a complete pain in the butt.

People download without paying because they see something as having less value than the advertised price. Instead of adjusting prices (returning to existing successful digital content distributors), Big Content tries to adjust the market.
 

pelo

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That sort of model was adapted by Indy game developers and it's worked out pretty well for them.

I do think that there should be some sort of "try it first" feature, particularly where music, movies and games are involved. I can't tell you how many times I paid for an incredibly shitty game that I didn't even bother finishing once. The same list when movies are concerned is far worse. Obviously this couldn't be implemented for movies at the theater but those available for download would allow such a workaround.

The industry would rather fuck you by having earned their money regardless of whether the movie/song/game was any good by getting the cash in hand first than by allowing you to try it and pay what you believe it's worth later. As a consumer I'd prefer the latter model
 

Tudz

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My favorite thing to point out whenever this is brought up is that copyright infringement does NOT NECESSARILY equal a lost sale.

I think it's a lot of peoples' favourite thing to point out coz we've all heard it like 50 million times in the past 3 million threads on the topic. :p
 

scojer

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They play songs on the radio, trailers for movies, and occasionally demos for games. I buy music that I really like, and don't really listen to anything else, and if a trailer for a movie gets me intrigued, then I look up reviews and stuff, then decide if I want to watch it. If a demo for a game is fun, then eventually I get the game.

I don't illegally download music.
I don't illegally download movies, I buy the ones I want, and rent or Netflix them if I wasn't originally interested in them.
I don't illegally download games. If a game doesn't have a demo, I youtube it, or borrow it from a friend to see if I like it. If I do, I buy it.

I am an AVERAGE consumer. IF companies would realize that a lot of people are like me, then they'll stop all this nonsense about policing the internet, and crying wolf when there really isn't that much going on.
 

xxEIEIOxx

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Not saying that it is right, but it isn't stealing. Stealing leaves the victim without the object that was stolen from them. Calling it "piracy" makes people think they are cool "pirates". If I could clone your wife would it be adultery? I'm glad nobody is getting raped or murdered anymore and we can all use the time and resources to properly punish someone that watched a movie or listened to a song without paying a media company executive. If they really want to recover these "lost sales" they are doing it wrong.
 

nutzo

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Let’s put this in perspective.

You’re an artist and have a large oil painting in your gallery (that you painted) with a price of $5000.
What’s worse?

1. I walk into the gallery and physically remove the painting and take it home to hang on my wall.
2. I pull out my camera, take a high-res picture, print it out and hang the print out/copy on my wall.

#1 is obviously stealing, and you no longer have the painting to sell, so you are out a $5000 painting.

#2 is a copyright violation (unless you gave me permission to take the picture). Your actual losses are $0.
To claim a loss, you would have to assume I would buy the painting if I couldn’t take the photo.
If 100 people took a photo of your painting, it doesn’t mean you are out $500,000

The huge losses claimed by the music/movie/software industries are no different. They assume that everyone who downloads a file would have instead bought the song/movie/software at full retail. If they somehow managed to eliminate all “piracy”, the increase in sales would barely be measurable. Most of the people who download wouldn’t have the money to buy the vast majority of what the download.
 

xxEIEIOxx

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...I do think that there should be some sort of "try it first" feature, particularly where music, movies and games are involved. I can't tell you how many times I paid for an incredibly shitty game that I didn't even bother finishing once. The same list when movies are concerned is far worse. Obviously this couldn't be implemented for movies at the theater but those available for download would allow such a workaround...

Well said. I would buy A LOT more music if I could listen to it first and they only buy and keep what I actually like. I got tired of buying crap music and then throwing it away because it sucked and I couldn't return it. Many years later and I still won't buy anything I haven't already heard and liked. I won't download it because I don't want to get sued. Is this a win for the recording companies? I would think not, because there are a lot of things out there I would have bought but don't want to gamble my money on.
 

dasaint

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Based upon the Industries thoughts wouldnt Renting Games/Videos Streaming netflix/hulu count as a violation, if someone just pays 4 bucks or 2 bucks to rent games then thats stealing from a Sale they could have Potentially Made... i know most people that buy games when they finish playing they usually dont buy the real copy...

i dunno..... The System is Messed up... FIX IT!!
 

wtiger

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If they'd adapt to the current market it wouldn't be much of an issue. I would gladly pay someone like netflix 20-30 bucks a month if their service had good selection. As it is now their selection sucks and isn't worth even the 8 dollars. People want to stream. Let them. Storing a large database of "pirated" movies and such costs a good chunk of money, but it still much more convenient; because it's there when you want it and it has no DRM BS getting in your way and annoying you. Dish and to a lesser extent cable, I say a lesser extent; because they offer much more than just cable TV, are done for. The internet is where a large percentage of people are getting their entertainment and it's market share will continue to increase until the standard broadcast model is dead. The entertainment industry needs to do what every other business has done and will continue to have to do. Adapt or die. Not try and bully the market with favorable legislation that punishes and alienates their customers.
 

Ur_Mom

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They raise prices because of "piracy" and lost sales. But, the reason they lost my sale is because of the high prices. I would have gone and watched a hell of a lot more movies in theaters, but I chose not to because the cost of admission, I could buy several blu-rays and enjoy them. I can wait for the blu-ray release. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than going to the theater, and it's usually a much better experience (I've found one theater that is really nice, clean and great quality visuals and audio). Having a good home theater makes a big difference, too. Sure, I could afford to go to the movies, it's just hard to justify the cost. Especially after watching one too many shitty movies for $50 for the family.

There are some movies that I rented that I would have been PISSED if I had paid to watch it in theater. I'd be pissed if I paid more that $5 for the blu, too, it was that bad. A few have been like that.

Another thing: shitty content. I won't buy crappy music or movies. Lady Gaga? Hells no. Lost sale? Nope, never would have bought it in the first place.

After this, they start bitching about used media (games, movies, music). Then, once they piss off people they'll move back to piracy (ARRRGGGG!).
 

Raffin

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My take on this:

I don't pirate anything because the potential hassles involved with the **IAs aren't worth it.

I listen to the radio for music and rarely buy music in any form.

I'm currently subscribed to a Comcast package that gives me all the premium pay channels for free (for two years). I rarely find anything on these pay channels that I actually want to watch and will cancel the pay channels when I have to start paying for them. I'll probably just go back to using Red Box for movies. I do occasionally buy movies on BR if they are something I really like.

The point? If I was pirating anything it would result in an extremely small amount of lost revenue. I suspect that this is true for a large percent of the population. Why go to such lengths to piss all of us off for such a small gain? If anything all this **IA f@cking about is convincing me to start "pirating" just to deprive them of even the small amount of revenue they do derive from me. Please **IA, just go away now....
 

Cyraxx

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If they'd adapt to the current market it wouldn't be much of an issue. I would gladly pay someone like netflix 20-30 bucks a month if their service had good selection. As it is now their selection sucks and isn't worth even the 8 dollars. People want to stream. Let them. Storing a large database of "pirated" movies and such costs a good chunk of money, but it still much more convenient; because it's there when you want it and it has no DRM BS

Let's not forget mandatory previews that you can't fast foward to. A menu button that has been disabled. Multiple mandatory notices before the feature. Oh! And a bunch of bullshit such as "Bonus Features" that NO ONE watches except for certain movies that people get extremely interested (Harry Potter, Avatar, etc...).

Give the people what they want, and they will pay for it. There is a LONG history that shows that I think :rolleyes:
 

entropy13

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Let’s put this in perspective.

You’re an artist and have a large oil painting in your gallery (that you painted) with a price of $5000.

Right off the bat there's an implied assumption here, that art MUST be commercialized. That art is something that MUST be sold, and thus bought, at a certain price. Smacks right on the face of the concept of "art for the sake of art."
 

MavericK

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I think it's a lot of peoples' favourite thing to point out coz we've all heard it like 50 million times in the past 3 million threads on the topic. :p

Probably because a lot of people are completely retarded and don't understand the concept. :p
 

Greg-O

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What is more disturbing is this plan that is being put into action no mater you are participating in file sharing or not.

this link was in the OP article.
 

jinjuku

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Stealing, not stealing. Helping yourself to something that isn't yours can land you in some hot water. We had a business using our product at two locations w/o ever paying us a dime.

It doesn't matter what you call it but it did cost them $62K
 

Ur_Mom

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What is more disturbing is this plan that is being put into action no mater you are participating in file sharing or not.

this link was in the OP article.

I've been wrongly accused in the past. Sure, way back when I would do some downloading that wasn't exactly legit. But, this time I had a receipt from Steam and the game downloading on my PC. Not sure how it got flagged as P2P traffic for the same game that I just bought. Seems like they were viewing traffic (not sure how or why) and saw their game going by, and just decided to assume it was a pirated copy.
 

Maplehamwich

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Not stealing. Copying.

According to dictionaries:

Merriam-Webster said:
Definition of STEAL

intransitive verb
1
: to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice

Merriam-Webster said:
Definition of THEFT

1
a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

Merriam-Webster said:
Definition of COPY

1
: an imitation, transcript, or reproduction of an original work (as a letter, a painting, a table, or a dress)
2
: one of a series of especially mechanical reproductions of an original impression; also : an individual example of such a reproduction

I'm inclined to agree with the law professor, as laws are based on clear word definitions.

Also, I'm not up to date with American Copywright law, but I find this interesting.

Current copyright law gives owners the exclusive right to distribute copies of their works to the public “by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.”8 As in the past, however, the copyright owner’s control over subsequent distribution is limited. Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act provides, “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3) [granting the exclusive right of distribution], the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.”9 As a result, one who owns a lawful copy of a copy[*PG581]righted work may resell that copy or may rent it (in most cases),10 lend it, or give it away. Used bookstores, used compact disc (CD) stores, public libraries, and video rental stores all flourish in the shelter of the first sale doctrine.
-Source
 

vortican

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My favorite thing to point out whenever this is brought up is that copyright infringement does NOT NECESSARILY equal a lost sale.

No real figures to back it up, but do you really think that every time a person downloads a song or movie that they would have paid to listen or watch that content otherwise? If its worth the money people will pay for it. If its not, they wont and wouldnt have regardless. They just would have never consumed the content.

I agree but I don't think that's relevant.

This problem isn't a matter of degrees; how much is lost or gained by the process of copying a work of art. That's really what we're talking about here, no matter what the art is: musical composition, game development, drawing, whatever.

Those who create content of any type have the right to control if and how they distribute their works. It's their property and this is not a new issue. Molds, impressions, etching plates, etc. have all been destroyed in order to limit production and prevent fakery for centuries.

There is a big difference between copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and patent infringement. We're discussing here primarily copyright infringement, which doesn't prevent anyone from reproducing the work themselves and distributing it themselves (they would have created a replica of a pre-existing work using their own labor, which they then have control over) but it protects an artists right to their original work (can't copy a work and then distribute it as your own).

It's about who owns the labor of an artist. Unless they've signed a contract giving that ownership to someone else (and many do), the artist owns what they create and have the right to control how their works are handled. Your labor is your property, which is why we despise forcing people to work for others without compensation in slavery.
Copyright infringement then, is a form of appropriating a person's labor for your own purposes without paying appropriate compensation to the artist for their work.

From a principled perspective, it's wonderful to see how many amazingly generous people labor and then share their creations with the world (some even doing it for free). Those who cheapen their efforts by creating copies and then distributing them without permission undermine this incredible gift and discourage people from doing the same.

That's one of the wonderful things about profit. Everybody wins.
 

DarkStar_WNY

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The problem with issues like this is that we only ever hear from the extremes at each end of the spectrum.

One one side we have the greedy bastards who think you shouldn't even be able to back up the games and movies you bought, and on the other we have the greedy bastards who feel that other people works should be free to them if they don't feel like paying and that justify it anyway they can to avoid facing the reality that their actions are wrong.

As with most issues the truth is somewhere in the middle, where those buying the media are free to use it in any way they see fit, for their own personal use, but they also shouldn't be offering copies of it to the world at large.
 

InternationalHat

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Artificial scarcity is stupid and exposes major flaws in market-based systems and their way of valuing goods. The work itself has intrinsic societal value as a concept but approaches zero individual value when reproduced and sold because it can be freely duplicated. The same issues will arise with physical goods as 3d printers and rapid prototyping become cheaper and more capable.
 

aronesz

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Let’s put this in perspective.

You’re an artist and have a large oil painting in your gallery (that you painted) with a price of $5000.
What’s worse?

1. I walk into the gallery and physically remove the painting and take it home to hang on my wall.
2. I pull out my camera, take a high-res picture, print it out and hang the print out/copy on my wall.

#1 is obviously stealing, and you no longer have the painting to sell, so you are out a $5000 painting.

#2 is a copyright violation (unless you gave me permission to take the picture). Your actual losses are $0.
To claim a loss, you would have to assume I would buy the painting if I couldn’t take the photo.
If 100 people took a photo of your painting, it doesn’t mean you are out $500,000

The huge losses claimed by the music/movie/software industries are no different. They assume that everyone who downloads a file would have instead bought the song/movie/software at full retail. If they somehow managed to eliminate all “piracy”, the increase in sales would barely be measurable. Most of the people who download wouldn’t have the money to buy the vast majority of what the download.
I like this analogy. First time to see it this way. +1
 

MavericK

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I agree but I don't think that's relevant.

[...]

From a principled perspective, it's wonderful to see how many amazingly generous people labor and then share their creations with the world (some even doing it for free). Those who cheapen their efforts by creating copies and then distributing them without permission undermine this incredible gift and discourage people from doing the same.

It certainly seems relevant to the copyright holders, since that seems to be all they can ever say about the issue (how much money they've "lost"). But I agree with the original quoted post as well, in that there is no way to determine if, let alone how much, a copy is worth anything monetarily.

As for the second part (and this is getting into a very much "IMO" area), true art is created because the people who create it want to do it, not because they want to cash in on it. I agree that people who copy art can cheapen it, but personally I would much rather pay for or view art by someone who is not obsessed with profit margins rather than someone like the RIAA or MPAA who simply exploits and monetizes artists.
 

jober1

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I think Maple has summed it up nicely. I don't think it's fair to just call it "stealing" as the "owner" has not been deprived of the property, or the ability to sell the property. The copy literally costs nothing to produce, these electronic items are a strange deal because of that.

On the other hand, it's hard to argue you aren't ripping someone off as people put their time/effort into a product with the intent to sell it, and everyone understands that they didn't do it for free.

Ebooks make me angry though because publishers want to treat them like regular books when it comes to purchasing them, and say it's the same as stealing a regular book if one gets pirated. Then, once you own it, they say it's a totally different product, you cannot sell it, lend it, or give it away once you are done like you can with a regular book. Let's face it, it certainly isn't stealing to sell/give away your paperback once you are finished with it.

I went through a piracy stage a while ago, and it is very rare now that I download something copyrighted illegally, I think it's wrong whether it's stealing or not. None of this content is something that I need, and there is no reason to rip someone off for some little trifle. I am glad that there is piracy though, as this IP stuff is getting out of control, and I want some balance going both ways.
 

Starcrossed

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I think it is stealing because you are exactly duplicating something that someone else created without their permission. That being said, I don't really care that much about protecting digital media.
 

LeninGHOLA

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I think it is stealing because you are exactly duplicating something that someone else created without their permission. That being said, I don't really care that much about protecting digital media.

I just stole your post. You can't have it back.
 

beowulf7

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I've been making the same argument as this prof. for years. I roll my eyes x100 whenever the MPAA/RIAA/etc. call illegal up/downloading "stealing". :rolleyes:
 

beowulf7

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In related news, the MPAA and RIAA hire a hitman to take out this Rutgers prof. :eek:
 
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