Filesharing - Movies etc

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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:21 pm

uan wrote:You are correct that file sharing isn't "theft" in the legal definition of the term and it falls under the umbrella of infringement of copyright. While they may not be exactly the same, it's not completely incoherent to consider them to be equivalent.


It is. Legally and from the point of view of buddhist ethics. Using the term "theft" is an attempt to hoodwink the reader by false equivalence.

uan wrote:The disturbing part of your argument "there may be all kinds of legal and economic reasons to respect copyright law" is that you don't import any ethical or moral reasons to respect the law. Infringement of copyright may not technically be considered theft, but it is as egregious, if not more so, and is tantamount to stealing. In effect, a person who uses file sharing to come in possession of something that was not intended to be freely distributed by anyone, is benefitting in a tangible way from the fruits of someone else's labor and their property.


It's not a question of technicality. It's not theft at all. To produce more of something is not to deprive someone of a scarce resource, hence it is not theft. QED.

I don't personally believe that there is any moral or ethical reason to respect the law, but that's entirely beside the point. I view it is a contractual matter between businesses solely (and by the way, I have made my living off of IP for the last 10 years). Let's take the music business as it's probably the one we are all most familiar with: production costs now in the days of desktop DAWs are an order of magnitude less, distribution costs are pennies on the dollar compared to even five years ago, yet the cost of buying an album has stayed pretty much constant even for download only distribution. The problem is, the mechanism that has enabled the costs to shrink so much also enables easy digital reproduction and file sharing. Some are simply going to copy their friends CD because of the cost. To counter this, record companies have started to put more content in the liner notes, released single tracks at a cheap price, etc. Some artists have instituted pay-what-you-can, some have encouraged copying as a way to gain broader exposure... you name it. This is a business problem, not a moral one. The technology will inevitably lead to new business models. Who'd have thunk that MySQL, a company that makes free database software would be acquired for $7.4B?!



uan wrote:It's easy to parse anything into an infinite number of combinations to show how any given action doesn't constitute theft (as a relevant example).


The fact is, there is no way that you can parse this where it DOES constitute theft.

uan wrote:Let's say I steal a computer and later the police come and see me using the computer (in a coffee shop). They want to arrest me for stealing the computer. But I say I didn't. They might say, you broke into the owner's house and took the computer. But I'd say, I only borrowed the computer and intended to give it back. Also I did not break into his house, because the door was open and the computer was sitting right there inside the door. And since I only reached into and grabbed the computer I didn't even trespass. They might ask, if I was borrowing the computer, why didn't I ask the owner? He wasn't there I'd say. How do you know the owner would have said yes? They would ask, what expectation did you have the owner would allow you to borrow their computer. I'd say, because he's into file sharing and unrestricted access to modern culture. :tongue:


Notice the first thing you said you did in this example was *steal* the computer. No need to parse this, it's one of your starting premises. You deprived an individual of a scarce resource that was in their possession which is the very definition of theft. Now if you went into the house and took a glass of water from the tap and drank it, you could not be charged with theft-- only trespass. Why? Because though it was on the someone else's property, it is not a scarce resource.

uan wrote:You ask at what point does the act metamorphose into "taking what is not given"? It's almost like you are essentially saying, since it's too confusing to really know, it's better to just say it never does metamorphoses.


No, it's not confusing at all. It is clearly NOT theft.

uan wrote:With regards to copyright, when you purchase a book or dvd, you know what you are allowed to do with it. You asked about libraries. I don't know book publishing, but libraries have customarily bought their films (vhs, dvds) through special distribution channels where they pay a whole lot more ($600-1000 for a film title, not $20). This is also similar to how sales work with schools. It's not that the dvd costs more, but because it is expected that 10, 20, 100 or more people will watch that film.


Here in Canada we pay a "private copying" levy on all blank media that the Canadian Private Copying Collective distributes as royalties to the music industry.

uan wrote:The most important thing to understand, when you buy a dvd, you are actually only buying the physical dvd, the disc. You are not buying the material on the disc. That material comes with very specific limitations. You buy a DVD of the Life of Pi, rip a copy and give it to your friend, you have just "taken what was not given".


No, you have broken a contract and depending on the country, a law. There is no theft involved, as we have discussed ad nauseum.

uan wrote:The only reason this seems confusing morally or ethically is that so many people don't understand or care about copyright or, more fundamentally, intellectual property. They think that since you can't touch it or hold it, it's not real. But since we're on a Buddhist forum, how many lamas or masters (of other schools) have effectively tapped on a table and asked "is this table real? is there a table?" You could argue, that's only true in an ultimate sense, that the table doesn't inherently exist. But conventionally, there is a table. Except that there are some enlightened masters (and I have only heard anecdotal stories), that have demonstrated that, indeed, even conditionally, the table doesn't exist.


The reason it is unclear to some is that the whole idea of owning an idea was a stupid one from the very beginning. Thankfully, we are in a stage now where new models enabled by technology are emerging. Artists are able to get their music directly to their audience without the vampire squid of the recording industry pushing up costs for everyone.

uan wrote:I know many people who have had their work used without permission or misused. While some of these instances don't rise to the level of criminal, or even civil, violations, they were ethically questionable to say the least.


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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby uan » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:46 pm

Huseng wrote:Karma is volitional action. To knowingly take something that belongs to someone else without their consent is an unwholesome act, the result of which is suffering. To borrow an item while knowing the owner would be fine with it is not an unwholesome act. It would be neutral.


How about borrowing an item while knowing the owner would not be fine with it? Is that an unwholesome act?
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:56 pm

uan wrote:
Huseng wrote:Karma is volitional action. To knowingly take something that belongs to someone else without their consent is an unwholesome act, the result of which is suffering. To borrow an item while knowing the owner would be fine with it is not an unwholesome act. It would be neutral.


How about borrowing an item while knowing the owner would not be fine with it? Is that an unwholesome act?


Yes.

The quality of an act is determined by the state of mind it is conducted in.

If you know the owner will not consent and do it anyways, it is unwholesome.

However, there are varying levels to all this. There is a difference between stealing someone's essential medication hoping they'll die and borrowing someone's umbrella for a minute without their consent.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby uan » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:19 pm

Huseng wrote:
uan wrote:
Huseng wrote:Karma is volitional action. To knowingly take something that belongs to someone else without their consent is an unwholesome act, the result of which is suffering. To borrow an item while knowing the owner would be fine with it is not an unwholesome act. It would be neutral.


How about borrowing an item while knowing the owner would not be fine with it? Is that an unwholesome act?


Yes.

The quality of an act is determined by the state of mind it is conducted in.

If you know the owner will not consent and do it anyways, it is unwholesome.

However, there are varying levels to all this. There is a difference between stealing someone's essential medication hoping they'll die and borrowing someone's umbrella for a minute without their consent.


This is essentially what we are talking about with File Sharing. Is it okay morally or ethically from a Buddhist perspective. File sharing is making copies of someone's work and sharing to many others, knowing that the owner is not okay with it. It seems the argument is that the owner should be okay with it and the owner is in the wrong for not being okay with it. I guess the next level of argument is that making a copy of something is not the same as borrowing something. So is it unwholesome to make a copy of someone's stuff if you know they are aren't fine with it?
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby uan » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:48 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Here in Canada we pay a "private copying" levy on all blank media that the Canadian Private Copying Collective distributes as royalties to the music industry.


My understanding is that in Canada, it's not illegal to download files, but it is to upload them. But I could be wrong.


Karma Dorje wrote:
The reason it is unclear to some is that the whole idea of owning an idea was a stupid one from the very beginning.




Ideas are a dime a dozen. And copyright isn't about the idea. It's about the expression of that idea. Big difference. After all, we're not talking about you telling a friend, "hey, I heard this great song by so and so that spoke of love and heartache, in a real interesting and new way". Nah, you are giving away the specific expression of that idea. If it was just the idea, your talking about it or you doing your version of it would be good enough, and desirable enough, for others to want to have on their iPods.


Karma Dorje wrote:
Quel dommage.


Very compassionate. :bow:
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:43 pm

I feel like the point that copyright law is silly, and that "you can't own ideas" is just a convenient way to justify behaviors that please oneself, it is a technical point that while maybe true in some conventional sense, just allows one to avoid a moral dilemma by pretending it does not really matter, rather than apply the precepts to the dilemma.

The fact is that for the sort of filesharing we are talking about, it requires a definite volitional act to obtain and use a torrent client, and searching for material which you know is not freely given, then download it, and possibly seeding it for other people to do the same. Again I admit there are times where I will download something which is unavailable but still under copyright, or download music that I know the artist does not mind me downloading, and there are definitely grey areas where it can be argued that it's not an inappropriate action at all.

I think though it needs to be said, engaging in the occasional download of a longer available piece of software, downloading some music with the artists blessing (but not the RIAA's), and certainly copying for one's own use.. this is NOT the same kind of volitional action as constant collection and dissemination of material that one knows is not supposed to be shared in this manner. In short, it's what goes on inside you prior to triggering the action that is the determinant of whether or not it's an appropriate action...not some abstract point of law, or whether you agree with some abstract point of law - it seems to me that is secondary to the issue from a perspective of Buddhism.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Sara H » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:13 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:The fact is that for the sort of filesharing we are talking about, it requires a definite volitional act to obtain and use a torrent client, and searching for material which you know is not freely given, then download it, and possibly seeding it for other people to do the same. Again I admit there are times where I will download something which is unavailable but still under copyright, or download music that I know the artist does not mind me downloading, and there are definitely grey areas where it can be argued that it's not an inappropriate action at all.


Uhhm. That's not true Johnny. It is being given freely. What do you think sharing is?

And if you own that which you are sharing, then it isn't stealing or theft (because you own it), and neither are the people you are sharing it with.

You are giving it freely.

In Gassho,

Sara H.

It would be different if you hacked into their severs and stole the data. Or shoplifted a DVD and then uploaded it.
Then you would be stealing.
And even if you did upload it, the downloaders still wouldn't be stealing, because they weren't the ones who did the theft. it was you. (in the case of shoplifting, etc.)

But you can't steal something you already own.
Last edited by Sara H on Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:13 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Quel dommage.
uan wrote:Very compassionate. :bow:


It's business, not charity. One either adapts to changes in technology or goes out of business. Open source software is a response to the changes in technology. Pay-what-you-can audio distribution direct from artist to audience is another adaptation. iTunes is an incredibly astute adaptation.

Companies copy from one another all the time. There are constant patent and copyright disputes-- look at Huawei and Cisco for example, or Samsung and Apple, George Harrison and Ronnie Mack. And these are not merely copying for their own use, they are copying to compete directly for business. Is it immoral? No. If patents or copyrights are broken, it ends up in litigation and money changes hands. Nobody whines about immorality.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:22 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I feel like the point that copyright law is silly, and that "you can't own ideas" is just a convenient way to justify behaviors that please oneself, it is a technical point that while maybe true in some conventional sense, just allows one to avoid a moral dilemma by pretending it does not really matter, rather than apply the precepts to the dilemma.


Your assumption is wrong. To draw this topic back to Buddhism, this being a buddhist board after all, I have no moral dilemma about copying a dharma book I own for a friend who can't afford it. None whatsoever. In fact I spent many days copying texts for my guru at his request at the library. We aren't talking about justification, we are talking about whether this whole issue of copyright makes any sense in the first place. It doesn't. This thread has been nothing short of a full scale retreat from initial complaints that this is theft, when it became clear that there is no argument to be made to support it. Now you are positing some sort of a priori moral dilemma.

If you have a problem with doing it, then don't do it. I don't face even a whisper of a dilemma.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Sara H » Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:54 am

I think what Johnny may be feeling is that there is a moral obligation to support artists and content creators.

I feel that this is actually the case, though it is a sepperate issue from whether or not filesharing is theft.

Filesharing isn't theft, however there is still a moral obligation to support artists and content creators.

There are increasingly ways to do that whether, it be making a donation to the artist, or paying for the paid version or "pro" version of an app, there are more ways to do that.

I want an artist to be able to pay their morgatge, save some money, raise their kids, and invest a little liike the next person, and if I am able, send a little their way.

I don't however, feel obligated to support them to the point of making them multi-millionaires or billionaires -when there are many Dharma practitioners who don't do as well.
I have no compunction about stopping support at that point. -There are many other causes that are in much more need of support and my money than making someone and somebody millionaires and billionaires.

I have no compuction of stopping support way short of that point.

And as always, I have to support myself first. That comes before supporting others.

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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:20 am

uan wrote:This is essentially what we are talking about with File Sharing. Is it okay morally or ethically from a Buddhist perspective. File sharing is making copies of someone's work and sharing to many others, knowing that the owner is not okay with it. It seems the argument is that the owner should be okay with it and the owner is in the wrong for not being okay with it. I guess the next level of argument is that making a copy of something is not the same as borrowing something. So is it unwholesome to make a copy of someone's stuff if you know they are aren't fine with it?


This assumes they own the digital data on my hard drive.

They don't.

Intellectual property is a bizarre reification where abstract ideas are considered just as real and solid (and "ownable") as a book or violin.

If someone wants to get all neurotic over pixels on a screen or complex arrangements of binary code on a hard drive which is reproduced on another system without any profit being made by either party, then I guess that's their right, but it isn't really an issue for me.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Karma Dorje » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:12 am

Huseng wrote:If someone wants to get all neurotic over pixels on a screen or complex arrangements of binary code on a hard drive which is reproduced on another system without any profit being made by either party, then I guess that's their right, but it isn't really an issue for me.


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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby uan » Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:34 am

Huseng wrote:
as real and solid (and "ownable") as a book or violin.



this is a pretty humorous statement on a Buddhist forum. :lol:
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:02 am

Karma Dorje wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I feel like the point that copyright law is silly, and that "you can't own ideas" is just a convenient way to justify behaviors that please oneself, it is a technical point that while maybe true in some conventional sense, just allows one to avoid a moral dilemma by pretending it does not really matter, rather than apply the precepts to the dilemma.


Your assumption is wrong. To draw this topic back to Buddhism, this being a buddhist board after all, I have no moral dilemma about copying a dharma book I own for a friend who can't afford it. None whatsoever. In fact I spent many days copying texts for my guru at his request at the library. We aren't talking about justification, we are talking about whether this whole issue of copyright makes any sense in the first place. It doesn't. This thread has been nothing short of a full scale retreat from initial complaints that this is theft, when it became clear that there is no argument to be made to support it. Now you are positing some sort of a priori moral dilemma.

If you have a problem with doing it, then don't do it. I don't face even a whisper of a dilemma.


I never called it theft, nor did I retreat from anything I previously said. What is up with you? Have fun with the the thread, i'm certainly done.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby SamSmart » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:27 am

I asked myself this when considering watching a full length movie that was uploaded to YouTube. If the movie being uploaded is infringed, it can be understood that the owner does not intend it to be freely distributed in this instance. Hence, it is implicit that one breaking the 2nd precept by watching infringed material on YouTube. I doubt that one will avoid having hindrances arise from watching infringed material on YouTube.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:27 am

If they wanted to make money for each showing of their movies they should be doing their shows on broadway.
If they wanted money for each time their song is heard they should only do concerts.
If they wanted to be paid for each time their writing was read they should be lecturing.


I think that's kind of common sense. You don't build a business on a service that can be replicated and expect the government to secure your profits.

Anyone want to coin a catch phrase and expect the government to police people who say it without a license? That is where we are getting with media laws.


As for the argument that things like software designing and movie making would stop if everyone pirated because there would be no money in it. That's not true at all, people are making better software and movies right now for free and donation based.

And technical universities I assume have nothing better to do than to prove their faculty are better than other universities' by inventing new tech.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:30 am

Oh, I should say that downloading movies doesn't count as breaking the precept of stealing because it does not satisfy the necessary requirement of depriving another of that copy.

Some monasteries have been sending out info packets telling monks that while copying books is not a breach of the precepts it can still get them in trouble.
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Re: Filesharing - Movies etc

Postby Alex123 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:50 pm

I ask for forgiveness if this was asked before, but:
Is "copyright" part of Buddhist precept "not to steal"?

It is one thing to break into someone's house and take their tangible object. Then the person no longer has tangible object. When one copies, no original is being taken away. The owner still has the product.

SamSmart wrote:I asked myself this when considering watching a full length movie that was uploaded to YouTube. If the movie being uploaded is infringed, it can be understood that the owner does not intend it to be freely distributed in this instance. Hence, it is implicit that one breaking the 2nd precept by watching infringed material on YouTube. I doubt that one will avoid having hindrances arise from watching infringed material on YouTube.



What about watching full length movies on TV? Wouldn't that constitute a theft, then? Some say that seeing commercials, makes watching the movie - legal. What if I take a bathroom break during commercials, then I am considered to be stealing the show? And if I see commercials on YouTube prior to watching full length movies, does it then make it legal to watch them?
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