Illegal downloading

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Mickstafa
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Post by Mickstafa » Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:15 pm

I didn't read all the long posts before this one, so my reply isn't related to whatever discussion that was. :D

Anyways, I actually found out about Glass Hammer on Progarchives.com, which features free (although not illegal) downloads of full songs from prog bands at great quality. While back in school I used to download stuff, I never, ever do it anymore.

Mainly its because I've become obsessed with collecting CDs. When you pay for a CD, or listen to the album the way the artist intended, you get SO much more out of it.

So while online downloading is a great way to listen to new music, I always will shell out the measly $4-12 bucks for a copy of the album. A friend of mine years ago gave me King Crimson's Red album, ripped from his CD. I honestly didn't enjoy it until I bought it myself, now it is one of my favs from that band!
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:09 pm


For me, the downloading debate has always hinged on whether or not it was legal to do so. Whether or not people feel they ought to be paying for something is totally irrelevant if the law mandates that they should.

There are others who completely ignore the legal element and go straight to the moral aspect: is there an inherent right to ownership of music as intellectual property?

Then there are people who simply make the debate around the issue: do I judge that this band is worth my money?

It's interesting, but allofmp3 and sites like that have (until this new law or whatever) allowed someone with the legal aspect in mind to download all they want. If there's no law, it's fine to download, even if the artists don't get paid.

But for once, the Rule Three people (if they're moral enough to really actually pay for music that IS worth their time, and aren't just trying to avoid paying) would have to follow a stricter policy than the rule 1 people. They couldn't from downloading anything from allofmp3 if it was good music. (or they'd have to pay later).

The second people just get screwed, I suppose.

I know I adhere to the first position of legality, according the beautiful logic of our dear old Aquinas. I don't know about the second. Is there an inherent right to music? We've made it a social custom, by now, so maybe I should accept it as so, but is there apart from our society? I don't even know how you'd go about answering that. Any ideas? As for rule 3, I think it's really the most compelling, because I would love to not have to pay for the duds I get and really regret. But I think there probably is absolutely no moral ground. Unless both 1 and 2 have no grounds - the law doesn't matter unless you get caught and there's no inherent right ot music. Then I could just be nice and support the artist to keep them alive, but I don't *have* to.
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Post by FredProgGH » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:31 pm

So if you live in the US but download from a country with no discernible laws on the subject (China, say) which set of laws do you go by? :D
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Post by Rumpska » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:14 pm

The ones that allow the download of course!

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Sam Gamgee
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:58 pm

Fred, you know - that is exactly the question. I don't know. How would we go about proving it either way? Is it a natural law thing? I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think that our ideas and our art intrinsically belong to us as our property. (I don't think it's an evil that we should be paying wonderful artists like you for your time, creativity and beautiful works ... but I don't know whether it's an inherent right.)

But property in general isn't an inherent right either.... I'm not a socialist by any means, but I'm not Locke's lackey (Locke thought that man had a natural right to "life, liberty, and property" - the U.S. gov't changed that to "pursuit of happiness", of course). It's a societally-given right. (is societally even a word? I have no idea) Maybe music is like that.

Thoughts? Other angles to look at it?
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Post by Rumpska » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:47 pm

"I like it." "It's just one song." "The FBI isn't gonna put me in prison for it." "Download complete."

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Post by Sam Gamgee » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:03 am

Yeah, that's more of the "I can do whatever makes me happy" kind of LACK of consistent thought. If those people cared enough to make an official rule out of it, it would be "I decide what is right and wrong by what is most convenient for me". That's just silly.
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Post by Rumpska » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:51 am

Actually I never listen to the radio, really.... so the only songs I hear and want to have are the ones my older siblings buy on iTunes and are too lazy to authorize them on all the computers, so I just download them. They did buy them so...

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Post by mflorio » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:54 am

Sam Gamgee wrote:I don't think that our ideas and our art intrinsically belong to us as our property.
Well, I sure do. And I'm glad the US government does too. That's why it rewards those ideas by granting the copyright holders the rights to make copies and control distribution - in order to promote more ideas from more people. Otherwise, what's the point ?

How many thousands of "ideas" went into designing the latest cutting edge sports car ? What if you told the guy who designed and built it that he could never profit from those ideas in the marketplace ? That if he made cars, he would have to allow people to take them off his lot for free ? How many more cars would he design before he decided to become a mailman or plumber ? Who would want to dedicate their life learning about how to engineer cars if there was no money to be made ? (Of course, if you're advocating Communism and the government mandate that you make cars for the people, that's a different story - but we don't have that here in the US ! :) )

Why should artists not be allowed to pursue the same ideal ? Isn't this what they call the "American Dream" ? Maybe my lifetime's worth of "ideas" went into the production of a CD. Is being a recording artist not as honorable and market-worthy as being an auto engineer ? I want the same rights and financial opportunities that guy has !

Sam Gamgee wrote:
(I don't think it's an evil that we should be paying wonderful artists like you for your time, creativity and beautiful works ... but I don't know whether it's an inherent right.)
There's no *should* about it. You don't have to buy the new GH album or the latest sports car - no matter how much time went into creating them. Another great thing about this country !
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:23 am

You keep saying *this country*. That's not what I'm after. In this culture, yes, I think we have given property sufficient legal status such that music copyrights are socially binding, even where there are loopholes in the law. Socially, you're right - it would be some sort of weird contradiction to not credit the artist for his work in that way. I don't know why. Why do you think that is? And do you think it's a crime more akin to shoplifting or refusing to tip a waiter who has given us excellent service?

But my real question is: does this hold true for all cultures at all times? Why or why not?

Maybe it would be easier to think about with other kinds of art. Visual art involves a material component, so that can belong to a person as property, which clouds things. But what about something like literature? Do we own the stories that we make? They came out of our heads, but now that they're out there, what is our relation to them?
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:55 am

Er... sorry if I'm being hyperanalytical. (This is my procrastination from writing a paper right now, which probably explains why)

I'm just trying to find out the "why" from some kind of ordered principle above "it doesn't seem right". As well as trying to isolate where it comes from - society, inherent right, law, mixture? what? I don't know. I wonder.
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Post by mflorio » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:59 am

Sam Gamgee wrote:I'm just trying to find out the "why" from some kind of ordered principle above "it doesn't seem right". As well as trying to isolate where it comes from - society, inherent right, law, mixture? what? I don't know. I wonder.
The only answer I can give you comes from the personal experience of having my own work illegally copied and downloaded: It hurts. Try it sometime : putting years of blood, sweat and tears into something you fully intend to sell, then having people take it without permission. That, my friend is called stealing in my book, and at least our culture points to a moral absolute to say strealing is wrong.

It beats me why so many people think artists just wake up one day and these cds just fall out of our asses.
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Post by Alatar » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:04 am

I don't like placing moral judgements on the law alone. The movie "Double Jepordy" was based on the idea that a woman was imprisoned for killing her husband. When it turned out that he was alive she went off to kill him, knowing that she couldn't be tried for the same crime twice. In practice I am not sure that this theory would hold up, but for the purposes of argument that is irrelevant. The point is that what the law says here is irrelevant, and that killing her husband is still immoral, even though the law allows it.

There are also many practical cases where the law has put away moral men for being moral. Nelson Mandela and Gandhi both worked outside the law of their country. The USA itself based many of its founding principles on defying unjust laws. My understanding of "The right to bare arms" is that it is there to ensure that people can rise in armed rebellion if the authorities overstepped their bounds of, um, authority.

So in short, "because it is the law" is not a sufficient argument in and of itself. Legal sanction is neither necessary nor sufficient for an act to be moral by any reasonable measure.

That is not to say that I would disregard the law altogether. The law is what helps society to function without destroying itself. If you wish to stick to the legal argument, I would suggest: "If an activity may be deemed by reasonable people to be either morally wrong or right (as is the case with downloading) then the laws of the land should be adhered to". That line could possibly be strengthened.

Is that the sort of argument you were thinking of Sam?
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Post by MayorOfLongview » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:15 am

mflorio wrote:
Sam Gamgee wrote:I'm just trying to find out the "why" from some kind of ordered principle above "it doesn't seem right". As well as trying to isolate where it comes from - society, inherent right, law, mixture? what? I don't know. I wonder.
The only answer I can give you comes from the personal experience of having my own work illegally copied and downloaded: It hurts. Try it sometime : putting years of blood, sweat and tears into something you fully intend to sell, then having people take it without permission. That, my friend is called stealing in my book, and at least our culture points to a moral absolute to say strealing is wrong.

It beats me why so many people think artists just wake up one day and these cds just fall out of our asses.
It costs Fred and I dearly in terms of time and money to pull of a GH album. Same for Shreddy and Matt and Carl. We could do music for car commercials in 1/100th of the time and make 100 times the cash back for our efforts. So, we do this for the love of doing it.
Don't steal Glass Hammer's music please. We pay to make it, please pay to listen. Fair enough?
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I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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Post by Alatar » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:23 am

mflorio wrote:
The only answer I can give you comes from the personal experience of having my own work illegally copied and downloaded: It hurts. Try it sometime : putting years of blood, sweat and tears into something you fully intend to sell, then having people take it without permission. That, my friend is called stealing in my book, and at least our culture points to a moral absolute to say strealing is wrong.
First, let me say I agree with you in principle. The only reason I am arguing is because we have a pedantic college student here. :D

The tricky part of this argument, the grey area if you will, is the definition of stealing. Many people would argue that stealing implies that you deprive another person of it. Stealing your wallet is seen as a crime because you are deprived of it. Stealing your dance moves may break a social code, but is seen as stealing only in a metaphorical way.

If I download your music I am not necessarily depriving you of anything. It is impossible to prove that I would ever have bought the album had I not downloaded it.

I think perhaps your case could be made stronger by considering the downloader rather than the artist. Unless your latest album is going to save somebody's life (I am not ruling that out, but I would posit that in most cases it won't) that person has acquired something that is not essential to them by violating the conditions that it was made available by the person who created it. I think that actually crosses a moral line, and I don't believe that the reasoning can be faulted in the same way as the "stealing" argument.

So, enough from me. What does the philosophy student think? What would Neitzsche say? (He'd probably call musicians sheep, looking to the shephard of the law to protect them, but the wolf can get through top easily, downloading mutton until he is satiated)
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