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Downloading Media: Right or Wrong?

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Monk2400
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Posted 11/30/07 - 2:01 PM:
Subject: Downloading Media: Right or Wrong?
"Illegal" downloading: Right or Wrong? Searching for a moral consensus.

This applies to music, movies, games, whatevr.

Any comments on the topic? Let's discuss. Here's my take:

---

Im continually amazd at the garbage thrown at us from the industry. Its all propagranda--grand gestures of exhortations to making 'morally correct' choices. Nonsense!

Now, do I download music etc? No, I havent, but thats only because of laziness. I have sometimes enlistd othrs to do it for me, who have access to easy file-sharing apps etc. Personally, I have absolutely no problem with the concept, and in fact find it to be the ultimate liberation of art from the fettrs of commercialism.

Is it stealing to download some band's music, or, to take a step back a few years, to make a memorex dub of some band's album? No, not in the slightest. Once its out there, its out there baby, and you cant expect to control it. Much less so in the age of advance inter-media conversion and transmutation. The music, once it entrs my ears, is as much mine as anyones, as it is permamently a part of my being. In fact, if we were only so attund to control our brains at such a fine level, it would be possible to merely 'bring up' music that we have actually experiencd.

This is something familiar to those who poke and prod around brains with electrodes. But it happnd to me one fine day. The day aftr a Sloan concert, I was driving home from work and suddenly a Sloan song in my head rose up and became crystal clear, as if it were on the radio. No interference, no garble--CD quality as it were. Our mind has the powr to re-present these experiences. Now, suppose I could do that at will. I hear a song on the radio and play it in my mind at will. Am I 'stealing'? Balderdash!!!!

Its one thing to try and ensure that othr people arnt making money off your work, but unrealistic and selfish to try and limit people's ability to distribute and share the things that they like. When I buy a CD I own that piece of plastic, and the data therein, and can do what I bloody please with it, whethr give it to my friend, make her a copy, or use it as a coastr. I find it outrageous that people are creating laws that tell me that once I possess it, I can only do this or that with it. This isnt like buying a gun and getting upset that the law doesnt allow me to shoot whom I see fit. Its about sharing art, sharing experiences that make us happy and joyful or contemplative or whatevr. People sharing files, data, art are not making money, but they ARE sharing a piece of their soul.

How can we put a price tag on a piece of soul?

If an artist is whining because they are 'loosing' money because of downloading, boohoo. Go get a real job like the rest of us breaking our backs. They have an unreal expectation of making it rich because of the absolutely outrageous culture we have build around rewarding people for entertaining us. Entertainmnt is great, but shall we not be entertainrs like we are philosophrs? To shed light on the human condition? No, that is not what these people are doing at all. They are strictly there to make money, othrwise they would be totally excitd to see that people are downloading THEIR music in the farthest reaches of the world--that it actually touches people in a real way. Then, when you go on tour, you can make your cash by filling clubs and stadiums--a working man's artist.

I sometimes think about entring this world, but only to make money. I want the fat check. But if it were about art, I might considr ways of making it free and accessible to as many as possible. Considr the personalities that are making $$ off our purchases. We feed selfishness, greed, avarice, and excessive indulgence. Didnt the 80s learn anyone anything??

So I say, download till your hearts content my friends.

If I take a picture of a painting, is that stealing? No.
If I record a song off the radio, is that stealing? No.

Industry, get ovr thyself.

8)
libertygrl
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Posted 11/30/07 - 7:33 PM:

i use limewire to download music. they have an optional filter on there which will prevent you from downloading someone's music if the artist objects to filesharing. there are some music artists who don't object to it, and the filter makes it easier for artists to take a stand (or not take a stand) on the issue. it's a somewhat more conscientious choice as far as filesharing goes.

my position on it is that i download music for personal use, i'm not making money off of it and if i really like a person's music, i'll buy the album and/or ideally, see them in concert. i don't have a problem with artists getting money for their art, but really the main idea of making art is so people can enjoy it. in all walks of life, you have people who get lost in the money-making aspects of it and greed is never a pretty picture. hmm

lib

Paul
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Posted 11/30/07 - 8:17 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:
If an artist is whining because they are 'loosing' money because of downloading, boohoo. Go get a real job like the rest of us breaking our backs.


If copyright were still as it was supposed to be, and as the amercian constitution for example envisioned it, you are clearly in the wrong. Copyright and patent law were supposed to be calculated to increase innovation, with the only purpose of it being to bring the consumer a better result. By refusing to pay you break the societal contract and leach off of your fellow citizens who you hope will pay enough to keep the media coming.

Of course in modern day reality "intellectual property" serves as the right to hinder innovation and avoid competition. The length of copyright terms are obviously absurd -- to let descendants inherit material posessions of their ancestors is one thing (really not ideal since it concentrates wealth in an aristocracy, but better than trusting the government not to kill you when it needs revenue like in ancient athens), but now we have children and grandchrildren inheriting income. If Disney had been behind Shakespeare's original productions, we'd still be paying his descendants annual salaries in royalties to sit around doing nothing. This aspect of copyright I can see no possible moral defense for. Lifetime terms are very suspect too, since they encourage the creator to sit back and milk an ancient creation instead of innovating more, but at least theoretically defensible.

I do think there also needs to be a distinction between entertainment and what the constitution calls "science and the useful arts" -- the former should still perhaps have some form of copyright, but with much lesser penalty for violation (perhaps none for non-commercial violation) since it isn't as important to society as the latter.

As someone struggling to get by selling copies of my intellectual property, depending on the strength of copyright law to let me continue doing what I want to do but not having the time inclination or money to get a lawyer, it's very frustrating to me that people are so polarized on copyright. The polarization is largely a result of the way the megacorps (Disney being perhaps the most famously disgusting example) have worked to pervert the concept of copyright into a permanent absolute entitlement -- simply a way for business to bypass antitrust laws and enjoy the benefits of monopoly. It's supposed to be a short term (20 years perhaps) loan of a limited set of rights designed for the benefit of the public. The further we get from that original concept, the more people will simply ignore copyright entirely and put me out of business.

In short I agree with
Article 1, Section 8 wrote:
The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries
but not with current reality.

As for what I download, I tend to stick to gray areas. Wanted the Star Wars radio dramas transfered from my legal tapes to MP3, so I downloaded them... downloaded some MST3K episodes which are unavailable for sale... a lot of 50-70 year old radio drama with unclear rights status... that sort of thing. Also some clearly illegal stuff though, like CBS Radio Mystery Theater episodes.

Edited by Paul on 11/30/07 - 8:29 PM
Monk2400
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Posted 12/03/07 - 1:19 PM:

My problem is the way mainstream media is pumping out the message that this is the new mortal sin. I find it ridiculous, absurd, and contrary to the freedom and liberty our latest technology promises.

Paul wrote:


If copyright were still as it was supposed to be, and as the amercian constitution for example envisioned it, you are clearly in the wrong. Copyright and patent law were supposed to be calculated to increase innovation, with the only purpose of it being to bring the consumer a better result. By refusing to pay you break the societal contract and leach off of your fellow citizens who you hope will pay enough to keep the media coming.


Of course in modern day reality "intellectual property" serves as the right to hinder innovation and avoid competition. The length of copyright terms are obviously absurd -- to let descendants inherit material posessions of their ancestors is one thing (really not ideal since it concentrates wealth in an aristocracy, but better than trusting the government not to kill you when it needs revenue like in ancient athens), but now we have children and grandchrildren inheriting income. If Disney had been behind Shakespeare's original productions, we'd still be paying his descendants annual salaries in royalties to sit around doing nothing. This aspect of copyright I can see no possible moral defense for. Lifetime terms are very suspect too, since they encourage the creator to sit back and milk an ancient creation instead of innovating more, but at least theoretically defensible.




Yeah, totally. I dont see Disney having tight control ovr the ability of people to view 'Snow White' etc as 'increasing innovation', or in fact, that this could have anything to do with music, movies, and visual art. In technology it makes sense, because tools are specializd, they drive production, and the consumr economy. But again, its hard not to see it as a form of control, control that goes right back to the path of money. OT1H, it makes sense for the 'little guy' so hesh can make a buck off hesh invention; OTOH it doesnt make sense for the multinational conglomerate, who can all the more easily set up a monopoly.

I dont see downloading music as 'breaking a societal contract'. Its more like 'diminishing the value of a market that should nevr have been given such a high value in the first place', more about taking the powr away from the big money makrs at the top and redistributing the artistic wealth.


Paul wrote:


I do think there also needs to be a distinction between entertainment and what the constitution calls "science and the useful arts" -- the former should still perhaps have some form of copyright, but with much lesser penalty for violation (perhaps none for non-commercial violation) since it isn't as important to society as the latter.


IMO, this should just work like it does in academic circles--reference the resources you draw from, give props to the inspirations that help you create your work.


Paul wrote:


As someone struggling to get by selling copies of my intellectual property, depending on the strength of copyright law to let me continue doing what I want to do but not having the time inclination or money to get a lawyer, it's very frustrating to me that people are so polarized on copyright. The polarization is largely a result of the way the megacorps (Disney being perhaps the most famously disgusting example) have worked to pervert the concept of copyright into a permanent absolute entitlement -- simply a way for business to bypass antitrust laws and enjoy the benefits of monopoly. It's supposed to be a short term (20 years perhaps) loan of a limited set of rights designed for the benefit of the public. The further we get from that original concept, the more people will simply ignore copyright entirely and put me out of business.

In short I agree with
Article 1, Section 8 wrote:
The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries
but not with current reality.


Id love to get paid to be an artist. But then again, Id also love to feel secure that I can put anything out there and not worry that someone will come along and jack the idea, turn it into a mega-movie (because they have the means to do so and I dont), deny its source, and get rich while I say, 'hey that looks like my idea!' Will this pop art culture evr burst? Then again, has there evr been a time when artists werent paid for their services?

I start thinking that theres something wrong with the economic system thats creating this imbalance, working within a reality (of technology) that allows personal liberty, expression, and distribution, then stamping ovr it with punative measures for using that technology to BE free and expressive. If I put Pepsi and McDonalds in my movie, will they sue me? If so, how can I enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of being able to critique and evn speak about the institutions of my society?

8)
Morgena
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Posted 12/03/07 - 3:58 PM:

Well, well M.M. I did borrow a hell of a lot from the www , didn’t want to use the word pinched it cos borrowing sounds so much better.
The thing is, I keep it only for the time it’s used for and later delete it again.

I think it is okay as long as you don’t make business out of it, even though there are some people doing it but I use all those programs just for my self.

By the way, there are some very good programs coming from America, thanks a lot guys. wink
ScottHughes
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Posted 12/30/07 - 8:34 PM:

I don't usually mind downloading media "illegally" because the artist gets paid the least. Commercialism and art never work good together anyway.
Vlaming
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Posted 01/01/08 - 6:00 PM:

You know, MidnightMonk, my view used to be pretty similar to yours and I guess in many ways it still is. But for me I have to admit that this is/was largely simply because I download so much myself. Humans always have the tendency to justify/rationalize their actions, and that will always be one of the driving forces behind one's opinion on illegal downloads.

But then I thought about it, principally, and with as little personal bias as possible, and I've come to the conclusion that downloading copyrighted material is at the very least illegal (in most countries) and in some ways morally objectionable.

This does not mean I stopped downloading. I don't even have any moral guidelines; I will download songs from obscure crust bands and huge stars alike, and I rarely go out to buy their album afterwards, which is also an often heard rationale.
In short, I download because I'm selfish. It is so incredibly easy and convenient to download whatever you need that you would almost have to be computer illiterate, retarded, uninterested in contemporary culture or have incredible willpower not to. And none of this applies to me.
Monk2400
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Posted 01/02/08 - 12:46 PM:

Vlaming, I guess the root of the mattr for me comes back to this terribly romantic notion I have about the powr of our communications technology to open and transform our culture, specifically, away from the consumrist model. And especially in areas so far removd from the necessities of living and dying like art and recreation. But also in the loftier pursuits of knowledge. I would considr myself an advocate for open education--that is open 'source', free, driven by a community of learning. Maybe this harkens back to the Socratic model as opposd to the model of the Rhetoriticians, whose decendents, we might say, run our universities today.

Theres the concept of ownrship too. Im all for making a buck on the products of artistic endeavors, but once the money changes hands, that product is mine to do what I will with it. If its a piece of music, I can play it or play with it howevr I see fit. But then we might recognize the ambiguity of purchasing a 'recording' or 'copy', with ownrship pertaining only to said copy and not to the content. What it begins to look like is that by buying a CD Im purchasing the plastic disk, but with this money only renting the music encoded therein. I liken this to a farmr selling me a piece of fruit, but demanding that I do not keep and plant the seeds, because those are still 'his' proprietary products, representative of his farm. This sort of thinking, which takes owrnship to a ludicrous level, is what I feel we should look at eliminating.

The idea of file sharing is just that--sharing. Its connecting a community of like-minded and tastd persons through common intrsts. In its purest form (if we can speak of such a thing), I believe it is not about ripping off big business, sticking it to the man, or robbing artists of their meals. I nevr once had such a notion in my head when dubbing a record to Memorex 90mn tapes. I did so because I heard something that movd me and wantd to continue playing it, in a way, being connectd to my friends that had it, and adding it to myself as the music of my life. The enjoymnt I got out of that (sometimes) was beyond measure. Now, isnt that the gift art ought give to us? And shouldnt that gift be given freely? Wouldnt the true artist give such a thing freely?

Should we withhold knowledge or beauty from othrs for want of a crust of bread or a new BMW?

8)
Monk2400
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Posted 01/02/08 - 12:51 PM:

Also, we ought reflect that musicians of days gone by would be lucky to get a meal for their playing, and the ridiculously inflatd moneys attachd to 'art' these days are such because some savy business folk found out how to milk art to make themselves filthy rich. Now evry kid who looks to 'rock and roll' as a career choice thinks of $$ ca-ching bling, much the same as professional sports. Maybe if things were evend out more people would make music instead of making people rich off making it. Sharing, in this sense, brings the market value down, which is a good thing, in the long run, for our culture, immho.
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Posted 01/02/08 - 3:22 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:
Theres the concept of ownrship too. Im all for making a buck on the products of artistic endeavors, but once the money changes hands, that product is mine to do what I will with it. If its a piece of music, I can play it or play with it howevr I see fit. But then we might recognize the ambiguity of purchasing a 'recording' or 'copy', with ownrship pertaining only to said copy and not to the content. What it begins to look like is that by buying a CD Im purchasing the plastic disk, but with this money only renting the music encoded therein. I liken this to a farmr selling me a piece of fruit, but demanding that I do not keep and plant the seeds, because those are still 'his' proprietary products, representative of his farm.


That is an interesting take on the matter and I feel it has some merit - after all, the idea of copyrighting a certain sequence of certain sounds (music) is a bit ludicrous when you think about it.

But imagine if if only one person actually bought CDs, and 'shared' the songs with everyone else through the Internet. The artists, for all their hard work and investments of money and time, would be left with only a few € as a result. Especially the artists making less accessible music or music less fit for live rendition or who live in geographically isolated areas etc. would be hard hit.

I also don't agree that this evolution would reduce commercialism in music. Think about it. What happens when entertainment becomes 'public' and free? You see a distinct rise in commercialism: artists/organizers need different sources of income and corporations would be more than happy to jump in and sponsor the artists - expecting something in return, of course. Tours would bear the name of a certain company, the band members would be forced to promote their product one way or another. I know this is happening already, but it would become more widespread and even a necessity.
Monk2400
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Posted 01/02/08 - 4:29 PM:

True. But then again, grinding out a living playing club to club seems a more honest way of making a day's pay. And that is, in fact, how most working bands make their money--by playing shows. But, if theres going to be a drop in commercialism, I think it will involve a push from artists to adopt this sort of attitude--putting on free shows or putting out free works, encouraging sharing and sampling, as long as the chain of references remains intact. Ie, dont sample a song without recognizing its creators. But royalties? No, it should be enough to respect the source, especially if no furthr money is made off the transmutation. A relatd, though not identical, issue.
libertygrl
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Posted 01/03/08 - 12:09 PM:

ScottHughes wrote:
I don't usually mind downloading media "illegally" because the artist gets paid the least. Commercialism and art never work good together anyway.

hi scott, welcome smiling face
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Posted 01/03/08 - 10:21 PM:

I think that if any song becomes commercialized, how good can it be anyway? Although Ray Manzarek certainly tries to make a buck off Doors gems...

It's too bad that it's become canned and commercialized, and even though I think that some people deserve money and rights to songs, it should be THEIR OWN songs (unless they choose otherwise), and not simply the highest bidder.
Monk2400
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Posted 01/07/08 - 4:40 PM:

A relatd issue: forthcoming changes to the Canadian copyright laws. Good for business but bad for consumrs? Also, choices made away from public scrutiny?

Copyright Quamire

Copyright changes
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