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Old 04-14-2010, 07:42 AM   #76
jonsbjons
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You say it's not ethical, but don't tell us why you think so. That makes a discussion kind of difficult.

But with regard to it being good publicity for the book, how? Remember, we're talking about a situation where the person already owns the book on dead trees. If they're going to tell all their friends to read it (which probably sells more books than the fanciest marketing campaign), wouldn't they have already told them to read the paper version? Who says "I wasn't going to tell you how great this thing called 'Harry Potter' is when I first bought it, but now that I have it as a badly-scanned electronic copy, I can't wait to talk about it"?
OK.

It is unethical because the work on the book, as we are with you well know, takes time and effort. Often, even more than work in any other place. But it's not the point.
We do not think that we'll get a free meal at a restaurant just because we are hungry? So what's the difference?

Turning to the second part of your message - yes, this question is not an easy one. It is hard to deny your right about good marketing, but I am talking about this: piracy is not ethical in some circumstances and very unethical in others.
But this raises another question. Not about the ethics, but about profit. And it seems to me to be solved, rather, consistent with the specific situation. Someone is using to advertise my blog. Someone is trying to take the maximum number of trading sites. And so on.
By the way, and you are sure that we are talking about ethics?
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:47 AM   #77
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OK.

It is unethical because the work on the book, as we are with you well know, takes time and effort. Often, even more than work in any other place. But it's not the point.
We do not think that we'll get a free meal at a restaurant just because we are hungry? So what's the difference?
The difference is that you do not have an unlimited supply of the food. The suplly of electronic copies of a books is in practice unlimited.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:48 PM   #78
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Sturgeon's Law has gone and squared itself, or maybe cubed itself. We don't have ten Twains or Dickenses or Kiplings writing today. We don't even have one.
Sure we do. Many of them.
You just can't *find* them for all the schlock being published. (And I'm not anti-schlock; I enjoy Harlequin romances and urban fantasy, no matter how formulaic they are.)

When thousands of books were published every year, a discerning person could read a few reviews (okay, a lot of reviews), and with a bit of effort, track down one or two very good books, and over the course of a decade, pick one that stood out as truly enduring and likely to become part the foundations of literature as we know it.

Those books are still being published; they're just swamped. Writing quality hasn't dropped any (although publishing editorial review has, in many places), but the difference between finding one or two books among thousands, and ten or twenty (or 100-200) good books among millions is beyond human capacity. A single person no longer has the time to find the really good books; he can happen across some by luck, but has no way of systematically searching for them.

Add in the self-publishing nightmares--since the 1980s, everyone with a printer thought he could write a book. And some of those people are excellent authors who couldn't possibly have reached mainstream publishers (because they write about subjects too weird, or because they're socially maladapted, or because they excel at blog posts not novels, or whatever) but most are just talentless amateurs who've been fooled by spellcheck programs into thinking they can write. Sturgeon's law applies to mainstream published works; I think it's closer to 99% for amateur work.

There are *gems* out there... but we've moved from "find the needle in the haystack" to "find the grains of diamond sand on the beach."

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There's no more great literature being written today than there was fifty or a hundred years ago.
Sure there is. Including in genres and styles that couldn't be published a hundred years ago. There's just so much more of everything else that it's much, much harder to find.

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I've seen novels written as fan fiction, by amateurs, that are better than a disturbing percentage of the published novels out there. ... Some of them write abominably, most of them write simply poorly, a few write well, and a rare handful write on a professional level. Without royalties. Without reading fees. Without any money at all.
I suspect that the reason no publisher or author has actually sued a fanfic writer for copyright infringement, is that the court failure would crack open the marketplace in a way that *terrifies* the big trademark-fandom companies. There've been C&D orders, but AFAIK no actual lawsuits for copyright infringements.

Because while a lot of fanfic, like a lot of any other kind of literature, is badly-written tripe, some of it is breathtakingly excellent--and some of the best writing is the stuff that the original authors would be most deeply offended about.

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Therefore, there is no social benefit to extending copyright beyond a writer's lifetime, and even less to authors getting paid any time someone reads their work.
The social benefit to extending copyright beyond an author's death is to encourage late-in-life publications that he knows will benefit his family. It's also to encourage his family to publish posthumously; otherwise, why should they bother? Why not just put their own names on the work and get the benefit of copyright? Books "by the son of Stephen King" (if he were hit by a bus tomorrow) wouldn't be quite as popular as books by Stephen King, but if the other choice is releasing it to the public domain, the family might take the loss in sales.

It also prevents weird murders; if copyright ended on death, I'm sure it'd have occurred to *several* companies & weird individuals that Rowling doesn't normally wear a kevlar vest. Harry Potter books, movies and merchandise are worth millions; that's more than enough motive for murder.
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Old 04-15-2010, 01:49 AM   #79
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@riemann42: Authors don't deserve to get paid when I read their work any more than woodworkers deserve to get paid when I sit at their tables, or sewing machine operators deserve to get paid when I wear their clothes.
Fascinating rant, all the way through. It got a little weird when you starting rating about the lack of good modern literature, but I will refer to Elfwreck's response to that

So I offered two base ethical arguments concerning copyright that, while not mutually exclusive, at least came from different perspectives.

1) A system of ethics which assumes it is immoral to violate a contract entered into in good faith. Therefore, violating copyright in any way is immoral. The problem with this argument is that it comes down to a legalistic argument fairly quickly, and enters into complicated territory which varies from country to country, etc.

and

2) A system of ethics that argues that an author deserves to get paid when I read his book. While I think your woodworking example is ridiculous in the extreme, the sentiment is understood. This position is very difficult to apply, and as I have mentioned before, has some bizarre implications. Do I deserve to get paid for this post? I think not!


So is there any basis for an ethical argument one way or the other on the issue raised by the article???

EDIT: I will answer my own question. Yes, the 1st case I made above. In the end when it comes to copyright, the ethics are, in general, in line with the law, as copyright is a legal construction. Any attempt to remove it from this context and move to some sort of larger ethical issue about compensation causes long rants by Worldwalker.

Last edited by riemann42; 04-15-2010 at 01:57 AM. Reason: Added thought.
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:24 AM   #80
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1) A system of ethics which assumes it is immoral to violate a contract entered into in good faith. Therefore, violating copyright in any way is immoral. The problem with this argument is that it comes down to a legalistic argument fairly quickly, and enters into complicated territory which varies from country to country, etc.
Without getting into an argument over technicalities Would you agree that if the copyright holder broke the contract infringement would no longer be immoral at least for people using example number one?
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:35 AM   #81
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I'm glad we can all agree on this. Please remember to seed generously.
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:08 AM   #82
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The difference is that you do not have an unlimited supply of the food. The suplly of electronic copies of a books is in practice unlimited.
Yes, this is the reason we are talking about ethics. And earnings, right?
Here I would add that I am personally not interested in the question but in the answer: what to do?
Addressing at the legislative level, yet does not help, as we can see.
However, this only thought, but would like something specific.
Do not be rude of me to ask: you are personally faced with the problem of piracy in their activities?
(Maybe open a separate topic?)
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:51 PM   #83
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I imagine that all of us believe that it is unethical to take what doesn't belong to you, or to use something without the owner's permission.

In the case of library books, we have that permission. But I don't think we have anyone's permission to use the dark net. That's why it's called the dark net!
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:30 PM   #84
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I'm glad we can all agree on this. Please remember to seed generously.
Cute...
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:03 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
The social benefit to extending copyright beyond an author's death is to encourage late-in-life publications that he knows will benefit his family. It's also to encourage his family to publish posthumously; otherwise, why should they bother? Why not just put their own names on the work and get the benefit of copyright? Books "by the son of Stephen King" (if he were hit by a bus tomorrow) wouldn't be quite as popular as books by Stephen King, but if the other choice is releasing it to the public domain, the family might take the loss in sales.

It also prevents weird murders; if copyright ended on death, I'm sure it'd have occurred to *several* companies & weird individuals that Rowling doesn't normally wear a kevlar vest. Harry Potter books, movies and merchandise are worth millions; that's more than enough motive for murder.
That's why copyright should be for a fixed length (like it was originally) and have nothing to do with the life/death of the author. It would solve all those issues.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:09 PM   #86
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In the case of library books, we have that permission. But I don't think we have anyone's permission to use the dark net. That's why it's called the dark net!
The receiver of copyrighted content does not require anyone's permission. You don't need the author's/publisher's permission to check a book out from the library, or to download an eBook.

The distributor of copyrighted content certainly does. It's an often misunderstood, but very important, difference.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:42 PM   #87
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I'll agree that there is lots of dreck out there; however, I doubt any here will agree on what is dreck and what is not dreck.

As an example: I will some years buy and read a book called 'The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy' of a particular year.

Some of those stories are very good. Some years I read it say to myself 'If that is the best, the rest is worthless'. I have found some excellent stories that 'series' never printed. So, my opinion is it isn't the best, but more what the editor wanted to print.

Some folks may not like Harlan Ellison's 'Dangerous Visions' stories, 3 volumes, but they got you to think. Even if I find the story offensive, I like stories that get me to think.

I have read books and short stories that were extremely popular, and I wondered on some of them Why ? I felt they were not worth the paper printed on.

Other books I have read, barely on the public reader's radar, I found very excellent swriting.

I have found several stories and books online due to free ereader sites I would highly likely never found otherwise. Some of them were very well written. Some not.

Have I been tempted to write and upload ?

Yes, but it wont happen yet.

At least it wont cost me money to hire a vanity press publisher, I can do it myself.

Which is what I might do with some of my poems, and anthology of previous poems, with 50-100 new ones added on to that.

Dreck and good stories, like gold, is where you find them.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:39 PM   #88
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I imagine that all of us believe that it is unethical to take what doesn't belong to you,
If it does not belong to anybody then it is no problem taking it. And a copy does not belong to anybody.
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:25 PM   #89
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Without getting into an argument over technicalities Would you agree that if the copyright holder broke the contract infringement would no longer be immoral at least for people using example number one?
That would be consistent with the ethical system I mentioned.

HOWEVER, entering into a contract, either implicitly or explicitly, where you know the other party is not going to meet their end AND you intend to break it because of this seems to be very duplicitous and unethical.

NOTE: I am not sure I agree with the position that contract infringement is the ethical issue at stake, but it seems to be the case with many folks around here. I still think the moral issues really only apply when you use a fair compensation for services rendered model, but I have been called a Marxist for making that argument in the past, and it has been beaten to death.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:06 PM   #90
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riemann42 well I would have eventually made the point that retroactive copyright extension is breach of contract.
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