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Old 12-27-2007, 02:28 PM   #31
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Originally Posted by Liviu_5 View Post
What about the "Rip, mix, burn" slogan of one of the most admired figures in modern tech. Was that an invitation to "stealing"? If not, why not per arguments above. If yes, well, why blame YouTube??

These discussions quickly become like political arguments with everyone convinced the other side is reaally baad, so I will steer clear of them since they are pointless. In politics elections decide the issues, in these arguments popular opinion will decide...
I singled out YouTube simply for expediency, referring to a website that encourages people to share things that are not originally theirs, possibly without regard to the wishes of the creator.

I actually don't know who used "Rip, mix, burn" as a slogan, though I have heard the phrase (somewhere... probably here). You notice, though, that the word "steal" is not included among them!

You're right, it can be politically charged... that's why I asked for some clarification on a few points above. After all, I've been "shocked" by that particular wire once already, and it still smarts...
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Old 12-27-2007, 02:37 PM   #32
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In English law I believe there has to be an intention to permanently deprive that someone else of that particular property to qualify as theft. (Any attempts to ignore this point will, often rightly, be considered as a form of subterfuge, or disrespect for the law. No, make that 'The Law.' If it is ignored, carrying off someone else's umbrella by mistake will be theft.)
Okay, then, here's the question:

Is an electronic version of a property considered to be a coherent thing that can be stolen? Would the supposition that an electronic document is created "from nothing" be considered a "subterfuge" in such a case? (Okay, 2 questions...)
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:00 PM   #33
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If age really is a factor, why is that? Is it a cultural thing? I don't think so. Do young people not understand the concept of fairness? I don't think so. I think it might have more to do with young peoples' having less personal experience with "working for a living," and so do not hold the same value of another person's work as a wage-earner... they cannot (or do not) imagine themselves in the position of being the creator whose work is pirated.
Yes, I think this is a big factor. I also think at least part of the reason is likely to be that most young people have less money than older people with jobs. I don't mean that this justifies taking work without paying for it, but I think it partially explains it. Finally, adolescents have been shown to be lacking in the ability to predict consequences-- it's a brain development issue. The whole point that if creators don't get paid, they'll stop distributing their creations is lost on many of them-- they can't follow the chain of reasoning. (And that's what parents are here for-- to try to protect adolescents from their lack of ability to predict consequences. )

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There is the concept that electronic files are "just a bunch of electrons, which are practically insubstantial, so they're essentially nothing," and therefore essentially worthless. Most arguments for the "rightness" of taking electronic content seem to reflect the idea that since it is "only electrons," they are taking "nothing," you can't make "something" out of "nothing," etc.
I accept that there are people somewhere making this argument, but I think far more people make the argument that they should only have to pay once to license the content, i.e. if they've paid for a paper copy, they don't see why they should have to pay again for a digital copy. Try taking the format out of the picture-- if I've paid for an ebook, and my file gets lost in a hard drive crash or whatever, should I have to pay for it again? Hopefully I have backups. But many vendors will also let me download another copy. I've paid for the license to read the book.

I look at it as a matter of paying for work. Buying a paper copy compensates the author for writing, and the publisher for all the other tasks, e.g. editing, printing, distribution, marketing, etc. If a paper book is then typeset especially for electronic readers, that's work that should also be paid for, if someone wants the nicely typeset version. But if a person pays for a paper version and then obtains a scanned version with no invested effort by the publisher (i.e. scanned and proofed by volunteers), the person has still paid author, publisher, etc. for their work.

Note that this doesn't mean if one has the hardcover one is entitled to the paperback, or some such nonsense. Both hardcovers and paperbacks cost money to print and distribute each copy. I could imagine a world in which one would bring in one's tatty water-damaged copy of a book and be able to buy a new copy at a discount, considering that one has already paid for the content, but so much of the cost is bound up in the physicality of the book at that point that it probably wouldn't be worth the effort to manage such a system.

Now, cracking a commercial ebook (or taking a non-DRM'd commercial ebook) and distributing that does cross a different line, IMHO. As much as I'm opposed to DRM, the only way I could see it being acceptable to receive a copy of a cracked commercial book would be if one had paid for the DRM'd book and wanted an uncracked version as a backup or to read on an otherwise unsupported device. One needs to pay for the effort the publisher spent to get the book into commercial ebook form.

I don't expect others to agree with this point of view, but I would like to see people who object to the idea of downloading a scanned copy of a book one has paid for at least acknowledge the actual details of the POV, rather than over-simplifying to "some people think it's ok to steal an ebook or a paperback if they own the hardcover."
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:24 PM   #34
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People, you are making this issue more complicated than it needs to be.

People pirate because they don't feel a personal connection with the artist who produced the content.

You need to create incentives for consumers to reward artistic expression that gave them pleasure. Right now, it's practically impossible for consumers to feel this connection. With music that is especially true; the companies are humongous.

Have you ever noticed that piracy occurs on mass-marketed works and not on smaller labels or publishers? As an individual I worry less about piracy for financial reasons than the possibility that others might make defective copies or claim credit for writing it. Attribution for me is the most important thing.

Consumers will gladly pay if 1)they know the creator is receiving a substantial percentage of the profits and 2)their works made them happier in some way and 3)if consumers know that a payment/donation would increase the probability that more works will be produced.


When you buy a CD or some Itunes, you are paying for a virtual product. That is an exercise in capitalism. When you give money to the musician after downloading a song, you are expressing what moves you. You are letting the artist know that you as an individual have found the song to be valuable. That is an exercise in appreciation (and that is why this kind of tipping might be more viable

(read more: http://www.idiotprogrammer.com/share...day/#casestudy )

The good thing about ebooks is you no longer have to factor in material costs and location and postage and stuff like that.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:29 PM   #35
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I personally think most young people have very little money, especially college students, and well if they want music or books they aren't going to get them any other way except by downloading. But I like to think that once people have jobs they'd pay for their music/movies/books and etc.

I think that's possibly why the audience the guy was lecturing too didn't raise their hands often.

It's either that or our new generation of people see absolutely nothing wrong with downloading. If that's the case then there needs to be more incentive or extras added to items in stores that you can't get online.

In the case of DVDs, it's really hard to find audio commentaries, or special features for movies/tv series so if you want those you have to buy the DVDs. for ebooks I'd totally pay 5 bucks for a perfect ebook copy that I can add to my Sony ebook reader (non-drm format). I don't complain about the OCR errors I get in my darknet books because well it was free but I can't find Katharine Kerr's books anywhere else except IRC or Jane Fancher for that matter so options are limited. The Jane Fancher books I've found are only in TXT which isn't all that great.

basically ebook sellers have an advantage over darknet they can sell a good copy of the books, where with darknet you're at the mercy of whoever scanned the book and went through it looking for OCR errors and fixing them.

the main problem is lack of selection at reasonable prices at many of the online ebook stores.

I consider myself part of the generation that started downloading as soon as I had a computer and a modem. and I can't help it I don't think it's wrong to make copies, and download copies of stuff I already own in paperback. But now that I do have a job and some spending money I am willing to spend money on good qualilty work but even the Sony Connect bookstore kind of blows because I had to download a darknet copy of a book I'd bought from there because the font was too small and the RTF I found online let me adjust the font so I could read it. That's kind of jacked up.

I also don't buy DVDs because half of them won't play in my computer DVD player which is the only one I own. So I end up having to download movies anyways, which is highly annoying I might add. So at this point I'm highly discouraged from buying DVDs because there is no guarentee that I'll be able to watch it. DRM is not helping the consumers and it's not helping to sell DVDs or music.

Just saying they need to make things easier to buy than it is to download for free. At this point in time it's easier and quicker for me to download my tv shows via torrents than it is to get them from itunes. Plus I can watch my avi downloads from any computer in my house where I've had one issue after another with my purchased tv episode from itunes.

Trust me people are buying stuff and then realizing what a hassle it is and going somewhere else where it's not a pain in the neck to get your content.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:44 PM   #36
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flawed assumption/upside down thinking...

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On the contrary, look at the kind of model you'd have with digital distribution, its more of a distribution on demand. If people steel the book, that's one more you will not sell.
With digital distro, if someone steals a book, there is another to replace it and near zero (fractions of a penny) cost.

It is also a huge leap to assume that someone who has (sigh) "stolen" an eBook was going to pay for it anyway.

These people are NOT your customers and it is an utter waste of resources to concentrate on them at all.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:47 PM   #37
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I'm afraid you've entirely lost me, Tommy. Someone who uploads commercial books to usenet newsgroups is a criminal. That is a true statement, so yes, it is a "blanket statement" because it's true. I don't give a damn whether the law chooses to call it "theft" or "copyright infringement". To my mind, it's all theft - taking someone else's property without their permission.
Holy Crap! Harry said "damn"! But I agree with what you are saying. But I do want to add something even scarier. As a father to a 17 year-old, I don't think it's "kids" who are stealing books.

Music yes, books no. Trust me, if the big concern was kids and teens stealing books, then I would feel a lot better about our future. At least they would be reading books! No, I think it's 25-35 yr olds who are stealing books. I mean seriously, how many kids do you think are sitting at their computers, cruising the darknet looking for the latest suspense thriller?!

Maybe Harry Potter here and there, but most of the thieves right now are in our midst. They are nerdy guys, above average pay, e-book reading men. Obviously I am generalizing, since there will be exceptions, but my suspicion is that the people who are stealing books right now are the people who can more than afford to pay for them. They are us. Sad.

I speak as a former darknet troller myself. I admit it, I used to do it--a lot. I didn't even think about if it was wrong or right. It was there, it was easy. But then I really started to enjoy the written word, really took notice of what goes into it. Wanting to write stuff myself made me realize, that this is someone's heart and soul and I was stealing. Funny, I never stole music, or movies or anything else, but I viewed text as something different. I didn't view it as work, there was no pretty cover, no weight. But it was an idea. I was stealing someone's ideas.

So I stopped, I deleted everything. Guilt is a wonderful thing. And it spurred me to talk about copyrights and stuff with my son. He never downloaded stolen music or anything (thank goodness), but I made sure he knew WHY it was wrong and not just that it was wrong.

But plenty of his friends still download stolen music. Books?! Ha! They read a lot, but it ain't books darlin. It's blogs or gaming mags or text messages, but not books.

Again, I am generalizing, I am sure there are some teens out there uploading and downloading stolen texts. But I don't think they are the majority by any means.

But back to the point that that's the generation that will be growing up and they may not have the moral compass to know it's wrong is a valid point. I have no solutions, only observations. I do know that some people on the fence (morally speaking) may jump to the darkside because say, Harry Potter, isn't avaliable as a legal download and they don't want to wait.

I was surprised to find out that there is no Kindle edition of Lord of the Rings!! WTH!? So I do think that a lot of illegal downloading could be stopped if publishers got a clue and started giving more choices. Just like what Apple did.

There will be some who steal no matter what. No matter how cheap the book is, they will get the free illegal download. Sad fact but true.

Ok, now that I have rambled on, I realize that I have no point. But I have to agree with Harry on this issue. Just because you don't feel that it should be legal to download/upload darknet materials, doesn't mean you can break the rules and say that you are doing the right thing.

Sure you can protest all you want. Steal all you want. But that won't make it legal, and that won't make the majority of publishers agree with you. Stealing my car may seem ok to you because you think you deserve my car. Well I don't think you deserve it, and the law is on my side.

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Old 12-27-2007, 05:47 PM   #38
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Neko, I follow what you're saying. What I'm not sure about is what this says about the e-book... whether it is intrinsically worth something, or not.

You seem to suggest that, if the e-book is created after the work has been done (and paid for) to create the printed books, then the comparatively miniscule cost and effort involved in e-book production renders the e-books to be a zero-cost item, and essentially should be free. It's similar to the issue with CDs, being that they only cost about 3 cents each to make, the markup to $15 or more seems outrageous to the consumer. But that's an oversimplification of the production process... if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Whatever the cost of producing books, whether they are on paper or electrons, they are still a product. The creator/publisher is within their prerogative to charge for anything they produce, in order to make a net profit from their efforts. The consumer shouldn't be concerned with any of that... merely whether the cost they are asked to pay seems fair for what they are getting. And the publisher needs to allocate a price that will be considered fair to the consumer, so they will buy the product and make them their profit.

In other words, I couldn't care less how much money Michael Crichton makes, how much his editor makes, or how expensive it is to run the printing presses that print his books. I just care whether or not I want to spend $8.00 on his new book, based solely on whether or not I will enjoy reading it. It's the publisher's job to make sure I think $8.00 is worth it for MC's book, so I'll buy it with everyone else and they'll make the profit they want. Everything beyond that should be immaterial.

Maybe an e-book shouldn't cost the same as a print book, since paper-based costs are out of the picture. However, it's reasonable to expect it to cost something. After all, they are a business, and businesses have costs. Our sweating about their costs does little good, since we really don't know what their costs are, anyway, and therefore we tend to oversimplify.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:48 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by rjnagle View Post
People pirate because they don't feel a personal connection with the artist who produced the content.

You need to create incentives for consumers to reward artistic expression that gave them pleasure. Right now, it's practically impossible for consumers to feel this connection. With music that is especially true; the companies are humongous.

Have you ever noticed that piracy occurs on mass-marketed works and not on smaller labels or publishers?
Another excellent point on the morality of the issue.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:54 PM   #40
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Essentially, no.

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Okay, then, here's the question:

Is an electronic version of a property considered to be a coherent thing that can be stolen? Would the supposition that an electronic document is created "from nothing" be considered a "subterfuge" in such a case? (Okay, 2 questions...)
It isn't theft because you aren't depriving anyone of property. No one ca steal a copy of an electronic anything from anyone, because they still have it.

"Potential revenue' isn't YOUR property. "Potential revenue" isn't...anything

You are infringing on their exclusive distribution rights. So no, an electronic version of a property by definition, and law, cannot be stolen.
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Old 12-27-2007, 06:03 PM   #41
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It isn't theft because you aren't depriving anyone of property. No one ca steal a copy of an electronic anything from anyone, because they still have it.

"Potential revenue' isn't YOUR property. "Potential revenue" isn't...anything

You are infringing on their exclusive distribution rights. So no, an electronic version of a property by definition, and law, cannot be stolen.
But you can "steal" someone's ideas at our job and say it was your idea. I don't think the legal definition of "stealing and/or theft" is limited to something you can actually "touch." If I spend all day blogging at work and not working, but am getting paid (because they believe me to be working), that is "stealing" their time. Time is just as intangible as electrons, but we can still visualize it as something that can be "stolen."

If I "stole" your identity by seeing your Social Security number (here in US anyway), used it to create lots of credit for myself, and it cost you "potential revenue" because you wouldn't be able to buy a house because the lenders would look at your background and think that you were an undisciplined spender, that would be considered "stealing" wouldn't it. I mean, I didn't take any of your property or your cash from the bank, but my actions kept you from making an investment.

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Old 12-27-2007, 06:07 PM   #42
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You're really stretching to make that comparison. It's fraud, not stealing. It's not stealing until they try to empty my bank account.
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Old 12-27-2007, 06:13 PM   #43
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You're really stretching to make that comparison. It's fraud, not stealing. It's not stealing until they try to empty my bank account.
But isn't fraud just a variation of stealing or at least a version of stealing?

Medicare and/or welfare fraud, is sometimes committed by getting money for claiming something you weren't actually allowed to claim.

So you stole the money, the govt wants it back. If you get convicted of welfare fraud, they usually force you to pay the money (that you received fraudently) back.

So I don't think it's a stretch to say "fraud" and "theft" and "stealing" can be viewed as the same thing/idea.
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Old 12-27-2007, 06:18 PM   #44
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It is a very big stretch to say that fraud is stealing. If someone has "stolen" my identity, they have only lied. They have not deprived me of it. I am still me, so I still have my identity.
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Old 12-27-2007, 06:39 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
It is a very big stretch to say that fraud is stealing. If someone has "stolen" my identity, they have only lied. They have not deprived me of it. I am still me, so I still have my identity.
True, but "stolen your identity" and "identity theft" are the names of what is happening. The names that our government gives those situations. Maybe on a technical level this is a poor name, but that's what it's commonly called.

But my point was regarding the intangible aspects of stealing electrons i.e. e-books.

I guess I have this view: If the author of a work wants me to have it for free, he/she will give it to me for free. If he/she doesn't offer it to me for free and I take it without paying, I consider it stealing because he/she doesn't want to give it to me without paying.

There are plenty of arguments about it's the "publisher" and not the author who wants to make people pay in many cases.

Well if that were true, the those authors could make a website and start offering up works for free downloads--I don't see a lot of that happening. If the author (or someone that they authorize to speak on their behalf i.e. publisher, agent ect.) aren't offering the work for free, and I take it without paying, the I am stealing. Doesn't matter if it's electrons, or if it's cheap to produce, or whatever.

Of course, this is just my opinion and the moral argument I make for myself. Your experience may vary.

Last edited by tsgreer; 12-27-2007 at 06:42 PM.
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