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Old 08-30-2013, 12:28 PM   #46
Katsunami
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I'm afraid your logic eludes me. Can you explain how taking a copyrighted work for free can possibly be considered "fair use"? In what way is it fair for you to take my software without paying?
In The Netherlands, it's the same with regard to downloading media. We pay taxes / fees (heffingen) on empty CD's, tapes, hard drives, and so on. Therefore we're allowed to make copies of any media (CD's, DVD's, tapes, e-books, etc...) for our own use; so it's fully legal to buy a CD, and then make a copy for your bedroom, kitchen, rip it for your MP3-player and mediacenter, and make a copy for each of your 87 cars.

The law makers have decided that you can obtain that copy in any way you want, even by downloading the material. Because of that, downloading is (still) legal. It is assumed that you do own at least one original, in some way or another. I think it's actually legal to buy a CD, copy it, and then sell the original, keeping the copy yourself. But, IANAL. I don't know this for sure.

However, software is explicitly excluded from all of this. It is illegal to upload or download software for which you do not have the rights to do that. You are allowed to copy it as a backup and/or for your own use, but you're not allowed to obtain the copy through downloading. (Except of course if we're talking about software that's explicitly free; freeware, open source stuff from SourceForge, and so on.)

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Old 08-30-2013, 01:42 PM   #47
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While I may seem to be casting stones on occasion I do not care what anyone downloads very much. Legal or not, ethical or not, that is how the world turns.

A couple of years ago I stood at a bus stop beside an off duty RCMP officer and watched a guy on his cell phone taking orders from people as to what they wanted him to shoplift for them. I looked at the RCMP officer and he shrugged. Probably I should have forced him to do something but I didn't. So I am not much of a crusader in real life Lots of things I do that I shouldn't and even more I don't do that I should.

What I object to are the constant attempts to justify these things publicly. I've heard myself do it on occasion and realized that if I did not think it was wrong I would not attempt to justify it even to myself.

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Old 08-30-2013, 05:19 PM   #48
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The addiction analogy bears some thinking on. I've known many an addict in my time who will do anything for a fix, or a drink or even sex. Downloadin is less socially harmful than breaking and entering, stealing pension checks, or robbing convenience stores etc.

And yes there are people who cannot afford to pay for food, or shelter. When I was saying that nobody needs a bank loan, I was guilty of being too general. I was obliquely referring to most of the people who could actually afford to download.

I am an avid reader, and have been very down and out to the point of living on unflavoured pasta noodles for a considerable time. Luckily for me I could usually go to the library and find a book to read as I was not limited to one genre or type of book. I have also lived in several towns without libraries of any sort or stores that carried books and depended for the most part on the kindness of strangers for my reading material. I came through it in one piece for the most part.

I still think that most people who can afford the equipment to download can afford to buy a book or two if their need is that great. My parents were dirt poor and went into debt every Christmas which took them practically to next Christmas to buy presents which were more likely necessities such as underwear. But we still had books.

And how did the reading addicts survive before the widespread use of the internet? Did they break into libraries and bookstores hauling of all the books they could carry?

I sympathize with anyone who is an addict to the point of shaking and staying up all night throwing up, nightmares, Dts etc, even if they did it to themselves. And if this applies to anyone who cannot read books in a specific genre, then I sympathise with them. If it is a case of not having just what you want when you want it, I can sympathize with them too. I am eligible for retirement myself but continue to work to afford the toys that I want. Not all are within my means of course do I foolishly buy an occasional lottery ticket . I have many friends who are retired and are unable to work. I cannot think of any who think that their reduced circumstances are justification for pirating but maybe there are a few. For the most part those that must, live on their means, watch public TV, not cable, go to the library or used book stores, most do not go to the food bank even because they feel that they will be taking away from the truly needy. Different culture I guess.

Helen
This is a little confusing. You said that "you don't need a bank loan to buy a book or two a week" but isn't that what your parents did? And book prices have increased since that time.

And how is your depending "for the most part on the kindness of strangers for my reading material" different from downloading from the point of view of the content creator?

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Well, there is admittedly a difference between low taxes (companies still pay some money) and content providers getting nothing at all for their products. It's not really a sound analogy, I feel.
In the Netherlands, like Katsunami said, there are taxes being paid for this purpose. I don't know if these money get to the content creator somehow (if not directly, then maybe indirectly through lower taxes) but the consumers are paying something.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:47 PM   #49
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For a long time it was legal to download music in Canada because there was a levy on recording media such as blank CDs. The money was then disbursed among copyright holders.

It wasn't perfect, it was limited to music, but at least it was a different approach that tried to balance the rights of copyright holders against what has become very common practice.

As for getting ebooks for free, that's easy: Subscribe to some free ebook blogs or mailing lists and you'll be inundated in free books faster than you can blink. Certainly faster than any normal person can be expected to read.

If you're looking for fiction, it's really not hard to find 2 or 3 free novels a day in a matter of minutes.
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:56 AM   #50
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In Australia a similar tax was levied on recording media and on secondhand books.The money was shared among the publishers of content.I don't know if any of it reached the authors.
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:15 AM   #51
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Nobody is suggesting that copyright infringement should be punished by "several decades in jail" - please don't put words into peoples' mouths.

The issue is not the scale of punishments for copyright infringement, but the fact that the entire legal process is beyond the reach of all but the largest companies, and so unwieldy that it's effectively unenforcible. I don't know the details of what this BREIN group is proposing, but something really does need to be done to allow small content producers to take advantage of the protection that the law claims to offer them, but in reality doesn't.
Your reasoning would allow a small group of concerned citizens to grab potential witnesses, force them to testify under penalty of some immediate punishment and then to "lynch" a supposed wrong doer on their own.

Matter of fact, who would need witnesses. The concerned citizens might not have the time, resources, or the inclination to wait around for such niceties.

I can see the slogan now: "Hang them first and let God sort them out!"
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:22 AM   #52
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Would you be kind enough to point out where I suggested anything of the kind? I simply said that the law as it currently stands claims to protect content creators, but in reality does not do so, except for the super rich. That's an undeniable fact.

I don't know what the solution to the problem is. I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone should be convicted without due process.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:52 AM   #53
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Would you be kind enough to point out where I suggested anything of the kind? I simply said that the law as it currently stands claims to protect content creators, but in reality does not do so, except for the super rich. That's an undeniable fact.

I don't know what the solution to the problem is. I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone should be convicted without due process.
I think that what frahse was saying is that if you follow what you said to a conclusion, this is what it leads to.
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:31 PM   #54
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The real problem I see is that there just aren't very many good options right now.

The legal system is set up in such a way that it's prohibitively expensive for the little guy, and most of the alternatives either make a mockery of due process (at best) or turn into something that to an outside lay observer seems almost indistinguishable from extortion.

That's a huge problem with IP enforcement right now: the combination of patent trolls and entertainment industry lawsuits demanding massive damages for what many people see as relatively minor infringements have given IP protection and enforcement a bad name.

It's a mess, and I don't see any way to clean it up any time soon.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:50 PM   #55
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The real problem I see is that there just aren't very many good options right now.

The legal system is set up in such a way that it's prohibitively expensive for the little guy, and most of the alternatives either make a mockery of due process (at best) or turn into something that to an outside lay observer seems almost indistinguishable from extortion.

That's a huge problem with IP enforcement right now: the combination of patent trolls and entertainment industry lawsuits demanding massive damages for what many people see as relatively minor infringements have given IP protection and enforcement a bad name.

It's a mess, and I don't see any way to clean it up any time soon.
You have to ask yourself this: is the IP enforcement something done for economics or a principle of morality?

The anti-piracy propaganda is focused on morality, but enforcing the law costs money. The little guy can make as little as 2-3% of an e-book, and he's the little guy because he doesn't make that many sales. So if he has a $10 book that was pirated 10 times, how much would he get back if these 10 people were caught? If they would have bought his book, he would have made $2-$3. How much is he willing to spend chasing 10 people who cheated him out of $2-$3?
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:54 PM   #56
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Well, there is admittedly a difference between low taxes (companies still pay some money) and content providers getting nothing at all for their products. It's not really a sound analogy, I feel.
Actually, you can (ab)use Swiss laws to pay zero taxes as a multinational company. In fact, you could even claim a "deficit" to save taxes you'd otherwise have to pay in other countries. All legal of course. Would you call this moral? I'd say no.

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Old 08-31-2013, 02:27 PM   #57
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All legal of course. Would you call this moral? I'd say no.
On the other hand, there are some taxes that are immoral, at least in my view.

If my father dies, I inherit a house. Let's say, I want to move into it, after I inherit it, leaving my current rental house. Could I do that? Probably not, because of the law.

Assume that this house has a worth of €150.000 at the moment I inherit it.

The inheritance tax for parents to children is 10%, to be paid within one year. Therefore, after my father dies, I have to find 15K somewhere, to pay as taxes. If I can't, the house needs to be sold and the taxes must be paid from that money.

Most people in the Netherlands don't have 15K lying around. €150K is a cheap house in a somewhat rural area. A "normal" house in a bigger city can cost up to €300K or more. I have okay savings, above average even, but not enough to just give away 15K and not be bothered by it, let alone 30K or more. I don't know too many people (especially singles) who can just pull that amount of money off the bank and think: "Oh well. Bummer."

What gives the government the right to grab 10% of the worth of a house, on the grounds of the fact that the owner of it is dead, and someone else now gets to be the owner by the wish of the deceased?

I say none. In my view, inheritance tax is immoral and just a money-grabbing law.

If there are no children, and the owner decides to leave his house to a brother, sister, or even other people, I don't even want to *think* about inheritance tax. It can become as high as 40%. And that's AFTER the reduction, around 10 years ago. (Other taxes were increased to compensate, however.)

Basically, it comes down to it that the house has to be sold. There are A LOT of people who can't inherit it because without selling it, the tax would be unaffordable.

So... sometimes, I'm not too shocked or upset to read that governments are swindled out of some money by big corporations. If the government would get that money, would they lower taxes such as the inheritance tax? Probably not.

(I do not know this for sure, but if you don't put the remaining money into another house, I wouldn't be surprised if it's seen as income, and you'd pay income tax (at least 32%) in addition to the inheritance tax.)

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Old 08-31-2013, 02:37 PM   #58
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Katsunami, it wasn't my intention to turn this into a discussion of whether taxes are just or not (besides, for that, we'd probably better of using our politics & religions section ). I was merely commenting on Soldim's analogy between Swiss users downloading copyrighted content (legally) and certain companies paying little to none taxes (legally). I think that analogy is quite good... what seems morally right or wrong doesn't necessarily overlap with what's legal or illegal.
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:57 PM   #59
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The punishment should fit the crime. Publishers always charge users with the potential lost revenues from potential lost sales of shared books, so I think the remedy should be award each victim with the value of their personal information multiplied by the potential buyers of that information PLUS the cost of any identify theft that might have been related to the sharing of the information PLUS the potential cost of damage to the victims' good name as a result of any potential identity theft PLUS punitive damages.
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Remember the news that a number of Dutch-speaking e-book vendors had agreed to share information of customers, ehm, suspected pirates, with the anti-piracy watchdog BREIN? Well, it caused quite the backlash. The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is now faced with a handful of unpleasant questions regarding the legality of this agreement. As MobileReader Katsunami reports, one of the questions is (translated):



There is no denying that e-book piracy on the Internet is rampant; yet the question remains: Should private organizations such as BREIN, who have no legal or investigative authority, be allowed to access private customer information in their attempt to identify the people alleged to be offering pirated content?

[image: Ruben Holthuijsen /Flickr]
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:13 PM   #60
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This is a little confusing. You said that "you don't need a bank loan to buy a book or two a week" but isn't that what your parents did? And book prices have increased since that time.

And how is your depending "for the most part on the kindness of strangers for my reading material" different from downloading from the point of view of the content creator?


In the Netherlands, like Katsunami said, there are taxes being paid for this purpose. I don't know if these money get to the content creator somehow (if not directly, then maybe indirectly through lower taxes) but the consumers are paying something.
I didn't say they took out a bank loan to buy books, I know actually that they had a coffee can to save coins for things like that. I said they went into debt, ie. charging Christmas presents which were generally practical items such as socks and underwear, with maybe a nice t-shirt thrown in. We got one toy each at Christmas. I am pretty sure my parents could not have taken out a bank loan if they tried. We lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but we were kept clean and our cloths were always mended and we ate regularly and actually pretty well. I did not know were dirt poor until I got a job.

I understand what Katsunami said, in Canada we have much the same laws. When these laws were initially enacted it was for photocopy purposes, IIRC photocopies were about 50 cents a page and the tax was levied on commercial photocopy places and the paper. It wasn't geared to people wanting to copy whole books, but to those copying a few pages for school or research. To copy a 300 page book at that time would cost $150 well over the price of the book in most cases. From taxes the rights holder would maybe get $5.00 and come close to breaking even. Then it was for cassettes with the initial purpose of copying music from the radio. Consumer cassette recorders were very low quality and had no direct input, and most radios had no direct output so recordings did not come close to a purchased product.
My father made $40 a week until I was $14. A typical hard cover book, which is what they bought was $3-$5 IIRC. But some were more, and possibly some were less.

Today I can buy a 4 terabyte hard drive for under $200. I can store several million ebooks or songs on that one device or around 6, 000 - 12,000 hours of video. More with MKV. The tax levied on hard drives would have to be pretty high to compensate all the creators of the content I could download. What would your guess be? Can you see a situation where I downloaded only one book a day for 20 years and enough tax would have been collected on that hard drive to compensate the creators by as much as 5 cents each?
It may be legal, but claiming the compensation is fair might be stretching things a bit.

Katsunami does not as far as I know attain ebooks illegally, and in this thread and others seems to feel it is not quite right and stupid in many cases to boot. but justifying others doing it based on the fact that taxes levied on CD's which retail for around 15 to 30 cents and can store approximately 1000 ebook, well anyone with a lick of sense should know that the money to be distributed at say 10 cents a DVD would cost a whole lot more to distribute than the amount itself. Probably by a factor of 100 at least. And same goes for hard drives. Of course in Canada AFAIK the tax is only levied on CDs and not many use them anymore Perhaps it is different in Europe.

As to depending on the kindness of strangers, you are totally right. The authors do not benefit. It was and still is such a common practice that I had not even thought about the ramifications at the time, and I still borrow library books. I won't argue right or wrong on the selling and lending of used books, or movie rentals etc. because it is pretty well entrenched in the culture and there have been efforts by many to stop it.

We have the fair use laws, the physical container stuff as evidence of that. The fact is that most physical containers can only be used as in played or read x times.

I often donate used clothing and appliances to thrift stores and buy things second hand. The original manufacturer gets nothing in this case either. Is your point that we should we stop reusing and the selling or passing down of things no longer used by the original owner and throw them all in the landfill?

I am sure it isn't but I doubt that it is dissimilar to downloading books in that you have to go somewhere to buy them, generally they are not the same as new, they may require storage space to keep, and while not benefitting authors, generally some money changes hands.

Helen
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