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Thread: File Sharing

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    File Sharing

    Okay, so everyone's at least heard of Napster. Now there are NUMEROUS others (I use BearShare)...

    The question I have, though, is one of ethics... Is it really theft to download a file from someone else who wants to 'share' it?

    On the one side, you don't know for sure where they got it, so one could argue ignorance of the source clearing up moral issues. The law, however, does not consider ignorance an excuse.

    On the other side, music is *very* expensive, and there are so many cases where I'd like single songs, rather than entire albums.

    I like to argue that if there were a pay service that was, say, forty or fifty dollars a month for a set number of downloads, I'd use it, but the reality is that they could never hope to have the sheer volume of these sharing services, or 'cutesy' things (like the "Meaning of Christmas" speech Linus gives in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special)...

    Do you use such services? Do you think that there should be laws to protect people from them? Is there truly a technological way to stop this from happening, or will there always be someone who can 'crack the code' and get people back in?

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    Re: File Sharing

    I'm totally with you Sax girl - it's an argument I've had on several occasions, which is why I was interested to see some other opinions.

    Droman, I see your point! Ultimately, where I disagree with the 'theft' argument is that these people are already making a tremendous amount of money - when is it enough? The fact that people are sharing particular files does not preclude CD purchases, IMHO. If someone could show a correlation, then I might re-evaluate, but I have to agree with sax girl - I've purchased CDs based on some songs as well.

    The other thing I'd bring up is songs that it's tough to find recordings of anymore. I have downloaded things I couldn't find *anywhere* on CD (such as some of the Christmas songs I mentioned in another thread). Because they are no longer available, no one should listen?

    I know neither of you disagreed, per se, but like saxgirl said, it's the type of thing that 'gets me going'. LOL

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    Annemarie Martin
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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by QAGirl:
    The question I have, though, is one of ethics... Is it really theft to download a file from someone else who wants to 'share' it?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I worked for a company called FullAudio so this issue came up all the time.

    The simple fact is: if the music has not been placed on the shared server by the artist or producer, it is theft. Pure and simple. It would equivalent to buying a book in the store, scanning it, and putting it online. It is theft because anyone who downloaded the book (or music) from that point on avoids the royalty system.

    You may not like the royalty system and think that it needs to be changed. But that does not change the fact of whether or not something is theft. The same applies to the music. Again, this only applies if the artist or producer did not agree to distribute the music on-line. (Most do not.) You can make all the arguments for how much money they make or how big the studios are. It is all specious, however. The fact of the matter: it is theft.

    As Droman points out: "Can someone claim ownership to a sound?" Yes. If the sound is taken as a certain configuration of notes, melodies and harmony - what we call a song. Lyrics can also be copyrighted. Think of it this way? Can anyone claim ownership to words like "the", "and", "horror", "she", "subway", "this"? Of course not. But when you put then in certain word orders that become what we call "stories" then, yes, you can. You do not copyright the essence - you copyright the particular format that the essence is in. (And, yes, I know you were using the argument sort of tongue-in-cheek.)

    That said, the music industry is loath to adopt any standards among themselves and thus cause some of their own problems. That was the biggest problem we had at FullAudio. As we all know, MP3 is going away and MP3Pro is not going to last much longer. WMA or something like it is the way of the future. But nobody wants to get in bed with Microsoft right now. So they need an alternative to WMA or they have to simply use it until someone develops something better.

    The other problem is that the big production houses like BMG, EMI, etc. were very unwilling to allow for a lot of "usage scenarios." In other words, they would be happy if listeners had to pay once each time they listened to a song. In fact, Zamba Recordings is on record as saying just that - although they have since backtracked. But, in general, all the big recording or label houses, would love just that concept. They greatly fear the Internet-based medium for music because they lose a great deal of the control they had when they were simply dealing with over-the-counter cassettes and CD's.

    Also: people do not realize the complex interplay that exists for making money in this field. The artists, producers, and labels all get their share of the money and it is complicated as to how it is divvied up. It is even more complicated if you are considering re-makes (like Madonna's American Pie) and even more complicated if the remakes are from a different producer or different label.

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Is there truly a technological way to stop this from happening, or will there always be someone who can 'crack the code' and get people back in?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    There are ways that manufacturers of the CDs can now build "Smart CD's" that coupled with a secure music format (like WMA, not MP3) can make it so that music will not play on CD's or will not play in certain locations or will not play after a certain amount of time (your "subscription period," for example). There are also "proximity location" devices that can not only help you transport your music, but also determine where you can and cannot play it, and also determine when the music has expired. Again, however, most of this requires some acceptance of a standard like WMA - or a similar music format that allows security.

    And, most likely, there will always be someone who can work around the technology. This happens in every other computer-related field of endeavor, so there is no reason to think it would not happen in this instance. In fact, part of my job at FullAudio, as QA, was security testing and "hack attack" testing. I had to try to see if I could get around the license schemes or "fake them out" so that I could play music I either illegally obtained or that I am playing past my subscription date.

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    [This message has been edited by JeffNyman (edited 12-05-2001).]

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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by QAGirl:
    The other thing I'd bring up is songs that it's tough to find recordings of anymore. I have downloaded things I couldn't find *anywhere* on CD (such as some of the Christmas songs I mentioned in another thread). Because they are no longer available, no one should listen?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I agree with you here. I came across a duet between Elton John and Axl Rose from Guns N Roses. What an unusual combination.
    Also, I've used Napster and other applications like it to download funny sound files and/or radio bits. Have you ever heard the sound file of Casey Casem curing uncontrollably? I also downloaded an Ol' Dirty ******* (Wu-Tang Clan) press conference that was really funny as well.



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    droman26
    LEGALIZE UPDOC!!!

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    Re: File Sharing

    Okay, Jeff, I see your point, but as someone who has admittedly done it, how do you justify having that viewpoint if you're willing to do it yourself?

    (I ask because at the height of the Napster issues, I was absolutely against it, and then changed my opinion - I'm curious as to why you feel the way you do)

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    Re: File Sharing

    Sorry if the following sounds a bit harsh, but it's a pet peeve of mine, I guess:

    &lt;rant&gt;
    I find it interesting how many people will rationalize stealing copyrighted material via the internet, yet most of those same people would never give serious thought to stealing a book or CD from a store. Both are illegal (and I am purposely using the word "stealing" here as opposed the the euphemistic "sharing"). Both allow the thief to acquire goods for free while depriving someone of the money they are due. Stealing via the internet is simply easier than shoplifting, and you're less likely to be caught and prosecuted (or at least that is the perception right now).

    Suppose part of your salary were based on a percentage of each unit sold of whatever software product you're working on. Suppose people started "sharing" that product across the internet instead of buying it because they felt that, "The programmers and testers only get a few cents off each unit sold, while most of it goes to the fat cats who run the big software compannies," then how would you feel?
    &lt;/rant&gt;

    All that being said, I don't see sharing/stealing stopping any time soon. I think the smart recording companies will find a way to make music available by subscription over the web at reasonable enough prices that they can continue to make profits, and maybe increase them. Certainly it would save on packaging and distribution costs.


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    Charles Reace

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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Charles Reace:

    Suppose part of your salary were based on a percentage of each unit sold of whatever software product you're working on. Suppose people started "sharing" that product across the internet instead of buying it because they felt that, "The programmers and testers only get a few cents off each unit sold, while most of it goes to the fat cats who run the big software compannies," then how would you feel?
    </rant>
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The problem isn't, for me, the cash made by the fat cat companies, but by the artists themselves. I recently paid a hundred bucks to see Elton John, nearly as much to see Bon Jovi, and I regularly purchase CDs from each of them. If it's theft to then want to download a live accoustic version of Bon Jovi down at the shore from like the 80s, then I'm guilty. I don't think that downloading that song is cutting into anyone's profits.

    I agree with the premise of copywright laws, and everything associated with them, but by the same token, if I've paid to 'own' that song, shouldn't I be able to do with it what I want?

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    Annemarie Martin
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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Charles Reace:
    All that being said, I don't see sharing/stealing stopping any time soon. I think the smart recording companies will find a way to make music available by subscription over the web at reasonable enough prices that they can continue to make profits, and maybe increase them. Certainly it would save on packaging and distribution costs.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    How's this, I'm replying to myself...

    Something all this could lead to is an eventual downfall of the big recording empires (artisticly speaking, probably a good thing). I can foresee a time when artists could go into the studio, produce a master tape, load it onto their own web site with a pay-to-download feature, and cut out the middle men entirely.

    My only problem with this is MP3's don't compare well sonically with true CD's, and the new, improved formats (HDCD, SACD, DVD-A) take up even more bytes (especially if multi-channel SACD or DVD-A); so even better download speeds and/or compression algorithms will be needed for us audiophiles to want to take the time to download and listen to such music.


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    Charles Reace

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    [i]...Sound trumpets! Every trumpet in the host! / Sixty thousand, on these words, sound, so high the mountains sound, and the valleys resound.&lt;/i] (The Song of Roland)

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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by QAGirl:
    The problem isn't, for me, the cash made by the fat cat companies, but by the artists themselves. I recently paid a hundred bucks to see Elton John, nearly as much to see Bon Jovi, and I regularly purchase CDs from each of them.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    From what I've read, most concert tours hope to merely break even, and use the publicity to increase CD sales. Supposedly U2 have lost money on some of their tours, though they've tried to make it a point of keeping ticket prices as low as possible. Someone must be making money off of $100 tickets, though, I would think, I'm just not sure who.

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>If it's theft to then want to download a live accoustic version of Bon Jovi down at the shore from like the 80s, then I'm guilty. I don't think that downloading that song is cutting into anyone's profits.

    I agree with the premise of copywright laws, and everything associated with them, but by the same token, if I've paid to 'own' that song, shouldn't I be able to do with it what I want?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I understand where you're coming from here. Just to play Devil's Advocate, does that mean that if I already own Genesis' "Foxtrot" album, it's OK to download a "shared" copy of "Supper's Ready" from their "Seconds Out" live album?

    Personally, I'm not going to think less of you if you download pirate recordings and such. As has been pointed out, such things might actually lead to increased sales, especially if they can come up with a reasonable way to market music over the net. But the fact remains that it is illegal, and you have to make the choice as to whether to risk the penalty if you should ever be caught doing so along with whatever feelings of guilt you might feel, in contrast to the desire to have convenient, free access to the music that interests you.

    As an aside, I used to use some pirated software, now I don't. I suspect this is more a factor of me being better able to afford it now, but it is also partly an ethical or moral decision on my part. I haven't been tempted into the music sharing world at all, I guess because I get plenty of music to choose from off my satellite dish already, and as stated earlier I prefer listening to CDs on a good stereo rather than MP3s on my 'puter.

    Good discussion, hope I didn't ruffle any feathers too badly.

    ------------------
    Charles Reace

    charles{DOT}reace{AT}verizon{DOT}net
    web site | [url=http://www.ebookworm.us/[/url]

    [i]...Sound trumpets! Every trumpet in the host! / Sixty thousand, on these words, sound, so high the mountains sound, and the valleys resound.&lt;/i] (The Song of Roland)

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    Re: File Sharing

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by QAGirl:
    Okay, Jeff, I see your point, but as someone who has admittedly done it, how do you justify having that viewpoint if you're willing to do it yourself?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What do you mean "admittedly done it?" I have gigabytes of music which I think I mentioned to you - but all of that is my own, from my own CD's. I have a massive collection of CDs and what I do is mix-and-match music that I have paid for by burning my CD's to my laptop as WMA and then creating new CD's. (Technically, there is no violation of the law in that - just as there is no violation of the law in making backups of your software. I would, however, violate the law if I then put my music on-line in some format where people could download the file.)

    I have never downloaded from Naptser or any of the other services nor have I claimed to do so. I do not even let people copy CD's that I own. The only music I have downloaded is that music which the artists, producers, or labels, have said is available for download, usually via their Web sites.

    With all that, however, I am certainly not "high and mighty" on the issue. To be honest, I am glad Napster came around. It finally got the recording labels to wake up and start thinking about how they are going to deal with Web-based distribution. So I am not some "holier than thou" when it comes to this issue. I simply responded to one of the questions: is it theft? Yes, it is.

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