Fighting for the Right to Download: Discussion
Having voiced my opinion on this topic several times in the past, I left the thread alone for a time until there were comments I could just not ignore. I was rewarded of course after only 119 posts with this:
The major and minor thing some people here want are “free” downloads of intellectual property, such as movies, games, software, music, and other copyrighted material. You want stuff for free. It’s not about property rights, it’s about the intention to possess and use something you do not want to pay the asked price for. If it were not for the possibility to get your hands on such material via file sharing, there would not be any discussion.
I responded with this:
The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or not. Every piece of music you can think of is available free right now a click away. This is a fact – it sucks as the musician BUT THAT’S THE WAY IT IS (for now). So… have the public get what they want FROM YOU instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process
And the poster I responded to responded to me with this:
Copyrighted material, including music is not free, was never free, and will never be free. Such false statements are the core of the problem. Some kids might even believe the nonsense.
There will never be a technological means to prevent file sharing on the scale that it exists today. It may be reduced somewhat, and others may be discouraged with new laws, but everything that exists in an uncontrollable format today will always exist, as is, in one way or another, accessible by the general public for free.
Perhaps new technologies will prevent future releases from being piratable, but I very much doubt that. BluRay is supposedly “un-piratable” but it is regularly pirated. Look at BluRay adoption versus DVD sales. BluRay is slowly and steadily gaining market share, but it is nowhere near surpassing that of DVD. This is in part due to the fact that people don’t care about the great features of BluRay (I personally love hi-def), but it would also be because people do not want to buy into such a restrictive format.
The more control the labels have over the end-users use of a product or service, the less that informed people will want to make use of said service. DRM is a failure, so now the labels have changed tacts and laws are being changed. Will it work? I personally don’t think so.
I will continue to buy CDs and transcode them to my preferred digital format irrespective of the legality of such an action (I actually believe this was made legal in Australia in the last few years). I will also continue to download high-quality rips of CDs for the purposes of evaluation before I decide to buy them. This is illegal in Australia. Do I end up buying CDs that I download? Yes. What do I do with albums I don’t buy? Honestly, I just keep them. I never listen to them, so I could delete them. I’m just too lazy to do so. Anyway, I don’t really see a problem with this. I don’t share my music collection with others.
According to you, and the law, I am stealing. According to me, I am stealing, but there is no victim. I don’t listen to music that I don’t like, and the artist isn’t missing any money that I “stole” by not paying. Maybe I should purge my collection of artists I don’t listen to; that’d probably make you happy, but I personally am not bothered. I have no concern for labels because I believe they are dishonest anyway.
Of course there is a victim. The copyright owner who is supposed to get a fee. We have covered this, even if you believe that the labels are dishonest, our law system does not allow you take from them. Also: This has only partially to do with “labels”, illegal downlands are not only referring to music. What about the thousands of companies and their staff who produce games and software that is illegally distributed by file sharing? How about the production companies that produce movies that are illegally distributed by file sharing, or direct downloads?
“Our law system does not allow you to take from them” – well, actually it does. I could at any time decide to download literally several terabytes of pirated music which is freely available on the internet. The practicality of the matter is what you seem to be ignoring. Or, in another way, the impracticality of preventing the spread of such material is what you seem to be ignoring. This kind of spreading cannot be stopped, and instead of embracing this method of distribution, the labels are sticking their head in the sand. As Trent Reznor says, it’s better that fans download direct from the source rather than from an unknown website.
An interesting note is that those who are wanting to abolish or change copyright law really are doing themselves and the artists they love a disservice by spreading this kind of sentiment. The Creative Commons relies on copyright law to support it. The original owner should maintain copyright on their material (reading between the lines: the artists should maintain copyright, not the labels). This gives them the freedom to licence their material under a Creative Commons style licence. In other words, it gives the true owner the power to disseminate their works as they see fit. This is a fundamental right and this copyright law should not be changed, save for some small wording amendments which may be made to reduce the ambiguity surrounding “free downloads” versus “illegal downloads”.
I’ll say this straight: I believe that pirating any material is wrong, but what I am saying is that I believe my use of this material should not be considered piracy. I do not download movies (they are poor quality and without special features, the main selling points of the original material). I only download games that are no longer available for purchase (be it from a bricks and mortar store or online at sites like www.gog.com). It’s kind of funny really how woefully inadequate most companies are at keeping an up-to-date back catalogue of their material, be it music, games or movies, but I digress.
What I do with music, as I outlined previously, is not stealing. I download an evaluation copy and then if I like it I buy it and if I don’t, I don’t listen to it anymore. I am no longer using this material, thus it is no different than if I visited a record store every day and listened to the album in-store and decided not to buy it after a week. The difference is that I don’t have to waste my time in a record store by using technology to overcome the problem. Record labels should embrace this: they will sell more. It’s pretty straightforward.
This is an ongoing discussion and I will update this post in the future, but what are your thoughts so far?