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Why Web Pirates Can't Be Touched 402

Posted by Zonk
from the except-by-elliot-ness dept.
gwoodrow writes "Forbes has a brief article about, essentially, the ultimate futility of fighting online pirates. From the article: 'As the world's largest repository of BitTorrent files, ThePirateBay.org helps millions of users around the world share copyrighted movies, music and other files — without paying for them ... That's illegal, of course — at least it is in the U.S. But when Time Warner's (nyse: TWX — news — people ) Warner Bros. studio accused them of breaking U.S. copyright law in 2005, the pirates gleefully reminded the movie company that they didn't live in America, but rather in the land of vikings, reindeer, Aurora Borealis and cute blond girls.' The article also touches on the many YouTube clones and AllofMP3.com."
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Why Web Pirates Can't Be Touched

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  • Article is flawed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hobbs0 (1055434) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:47PM (#19166593)
    It assumes that copyright law around the world will not eventually be in line with U.S. copyright law as per the wishes of the *AA
  • $1.65 tillion? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:55PM (#19166753)
    "the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion [against allofmp3.com]"

    How on earth can these people justify that figure? It's just insane, I hope the shit goes hard in the bastards
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:57PM (#19166829)
    Just admit you're stealing. I would have so much less a problem with it if you didn't go down the "digital copy is not theft since I didn't deprive anyone of anything physical". You did deprive them - of money.

    Suppose I decide not to buy a CD, but a DVD instead. My decision has deprived the CD manufacturer of money. Have I stolen anything? No.

    Suppose I decide to produce a CD of my own. Many people choose to buy my CD instead of somebody else's. I have deprived that other CD manufacturer of money. Have I stolen anything? Again, no.

    There are many ways to deprive people of money. Not all of them are stealing. Not all of them are even illegal.

  • by SpiritusGladius1517 (929800) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:00PM (#19166881) Homepage Journal
    FTA:
    From June to October 2006 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America says that 11 million songs were downloaded from the site. AllofMP3 claims those sales adhered strictly to Russian law, but that doesn't satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion.

    I'm sorry, did they say $1.65 trillion? The RIAA is off their rocker for sure. That much money is going to have to involve a war.
  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:01PM (#19166907)
    At least grow some spine, and log in when you post such drivel.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:02PM (#19166927) Journal
    But could you please justify and explain the statement you made: "You did deprive them - of money."

    Please cite your references and explain any statistics quoted in your explanation. Please also quantify how much money the **AA have been deprived of by TPB. Please do this so that we can forevermore trust that the **AA member companies declining revenues and train-wreck-about-to-happen business model is doomed because of TPB and others like them.

    If you can prove that this is driving the **AA member companies out of business beyond any doubt, I will start downloading music and movies illegally to help ensure a quick end to the **AAs of the world.

    Thank you
  • by John Jamieson (890438) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:02PM (#19166933)
    What irony if they had just said... "we live in the Land of the Free, not the U.S."

    (note to those who refer to the USA as America. America is not a country)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:05PM (#19166985)
    ""Forbes has a brief article about, essentially, the ultimate futility of fighting online pirates."

    So basically pirates will never suffer the "effects" (as in cause and...) of their actions. How about the "effects" as it relates to the innocents caught in the cross-fire?
  • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:07PM (#19167035)
    If I didn't have any intent to buy it if I couldn't aquire it otherwise (no good torrents, perhapse), then I didn't deprive them of anything at all. Now, there are legal (and moral?) issues with copywrite infringement - I'm not defending it - but in all honesty the copyright holders are not losing anything in a good majority of the cases. My only real defense to things like the Pirate Bay - in countries like the US - is that I am not willing to give up my legal abilities to share non-copyrighted information just to defend some pricks who have plenty of other options to defend their dying business model. Sorry, I get kind of infuriated when people post nonsense backed by stupid logic.
  • by njchick (611256) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:08PM (#19167059) Journal
    Just admit you're murdering. I would have so much less a problem with it if you didn't go down the "being an jerk is not murder since I didn't deprive anyone of life". You did deprive them - of years of happy life. If at least you'd admit it, I wouldn't care so much. It's just the stupid logic you guys use that is so infuriating.
  • by allscan (1030606) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:10PM (#19167101)
    Surely two countries have gone to war for less than $1.65 trillion. On a side note, let's not forget that Russia has oil. [and don't call me Shirley]
  • by cliffski (65094) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:31PM (#19167521) Homepage
    WTF? What idiots modded this insightful? what do you not understand. Nobody cares if you buy a DVD instead, or if you make your own CD, its when you take the CD AND USE it and do NOT pay for it, that we have a problem. It's really not complex. If something is priced at X dollars by the person who made it, and you want that thing, you PAY for it or you don't have it. Anything else is just a load of pseudo-intellectual waffle to justify taking other peoples hard work for free.
    Why is this concept so beyond otherwise intelligent people? because they will rationalise any bullshit if it lets them take stuff for free.
    Be honest. Your taking stuff and not paying for it, because you think you wont get caught. Any other debate on the issue is just window dressing.
  • @#$% stock symbols (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xm s n e t.nl> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:40PM (#19167729)
    WTF is a bloody stock symbol doing in a /. summary?

    But when Time Warner's (nyse: TWX -- news -- people ) Warner Bros. studio accused them...

    It's annoying enough to trip over them when reading mainstream US news sites. Can we please keep them away from Slashdot? If I need the stock symbol for a company I either already know it because I'm an investor and it's my job to be elbow-deep in such arcana, or I can Google for it. If you really want to add it, use a bloody hyperlink instead of making the text unreadable with parenthesised shit.
  • Go RMS on them. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:43PM (#19167795) Journal
    RMS is a bit rabid for my tastes, but he does make a point to be precise about language, and refuses to talk to people who won't be similarly precise.

    So: It is NOT theft, or stealing. It is copyright infringement.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:45PM (#19167831) Journal
    Not true, individual pirates often do suffer the effects. Its just that there are too many of them. Imagine us saying we want to wipe out jaywalking but with only enough enforcement to catch 1 out of every million or so...
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:52PM (#19168001) Homepage Journal
    Forget that, what about the *editor*!?

    Also, they left in the unlinked link data. I don't mind that it shows the stock symbol, but then it says "news -- people". These must have been links in the copied text.

    Seriously, guys. Seriously.
  • typo? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teh_chrizzle (963897) <kill-9@noSpAm.hobbiton.org> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:56PM (#19168067) Homepage

    you typed this:

    It assumes that copyright law around the world will not eventually be in line with U.S. copyright law as per the wishes of the *AA

    you probably meant to type this:

    It assumes that copyright law around the world will not eventually be in line with U.S. copyright law thanks to all the money paid to american lawmakers by the *AA

    it's a pretty common mistake, those keys are so close together. i accidentally type that all the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:57PM (#19168111)
    IF you think about it, most of the people who download stuff will not going to buy it anyways.. so are they really loosing money?

    I know lots of people who go to movies all the time so in a sense supporting it then if its one they like they download it for future use.
    I understand loss in business, but most of the people who use torrents are younger and students who couldn't afford or wouldn't buy it anyways.

    On the other hand i think most IT students use software to learn it and better them selfs in the industry, If no-one could get it for free and learn on their own, how think how useless they would be going into a job and using it on a professional level! So you could argue that it should be acceptable as long as they arnt using it for profits.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:59PM (#19168149)

    It assumes that copyright law around the world will not eventually be in line with U.S. copyright law as per the wishes of the *AA
    No, the article is correct - it's your understanding of international law and macroeconomics that is flawed.

    Firstly, the US's version of copyright is more the exception than the rule.

    Secondly, The *IAA is an American organisation but not all its members are in fact American Corporations. Fair use in Germany (where Sony BMG is based) is much more genuinely fair than in the US, BMG has never managed to change that.

    Thirdly, if you want to examine legal parallels for international Internet law then you should look at the development of international Maritime Law. After millennia of shipping technology being available, and the finest legal minds in history having examined the problems, there is no international standard Maritime Legal system.

    Yes, there is broad agreements and treaties between many countries, but there are just as many disagreements and disputes. There are rogue nations, and there is still real piracy.

    The *IAA needs to understand that while the preposterous US copyright laws protect them in that country, they have already lost the War pretty much most other places. And those of you who are American here, need to wake up and realise that your laws are designed to protect you and your interests, not just your country's business interests. You need to take your country back from the Corporations. Your Founding Fathers were wise people with a pretty good understanding of human nature. 14 years is enough copyright for anyone.

    The DMCA, is a law that steals from most American citizens, and penalizes no-one outside your borders. The DMCA hinders your economy, because without it your *IAA industries would need to adapt to survive - and they do have the means and technology to successfully adapt and survive in a manner that allows you value and fair choice.

  • by Cadallin (863437) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:03PM (#19168209)
    The Straw Man is that the Artists would actually be paid when people bought the CDs. They aren't. Especially not the ones who aren't already millionaires. The Millionaire artists are the only ones who can negotiate a contract to actually be paid.

    Artists are really caught in the middle at this point. The organizations that claim to represent their interests have violated the public trust and the public interest, by extending copyright into perpetuity. They have thus destroyed the basis on which copyright is granted in the first place. The social contract is broken, and thus, natural rights take over. The natural right of free speech. This is not a case of not liking their distribution license, they have cast off the right to even bargain such points. Artists must (and many are) divorce themselves from the organization that have created this situation if they wish to regain legitimate right to copyrights. For it is now broken.

  • by Kozz (7764) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:04PM (#19168233)

    And just in case you were confused, the common usage of "Americans" refers to citizens of the United States of America, not the entire population of North and South America.

    As much as I want to believe this to be true, I've been told that if you're in Central America or South America and say to a native (who speaks Spanish), "Soy americano", the reply might be, "Sí? Yo también!" Or at least said a Spanish teacher I had who was a native of Colombia.

    I'd be pleased to hear if this was perhaps a bit of truth stretched thin.

  • by Knara (9377) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:08PM (#19168305)

    It's not pseudo intellectual. Theft requires you to actually take something from someone, and deprive them of the use of that thing. "Piracy", as it is today online (and perhaps incorrectly termed), is making an exact copy (or, frequently, an inferior copy; if it was superior I think that's called "competition") of something.

    Now, let's use the slashdot car analogy. If you made a car, and then I came along with a technology that can exactly (or almost exactly) produce a copy of that car by pointing a little device at it, result would be that you have a car and I have a car that looks almost, if not exactly, like your car. I haven't deprived you of anything, so it isn't theft.

    This is of course why the legal fiction of "intellectual property" has become such a hot topic in the last 10 years or so. The feeling is that if I made something, under the "old" commercial system, in order for someone else to get that thing (during the tenure of my patent or copyright), someone must pay me for it since I am the only one who knows how to do it, has the equipment to do it, employ the people who have the knowledge to make it, etc. But now with digital things, anyone with the proper tools can make a copy and not have to pay me for it. Now, while that must suck, I've yet to understand why people feel entitled to make money from "stuff" they have. Enter DRM, which attempts to make people unable to make their own from "my" original. The result of this is the folks that put images on public webpages and then get mad when people copy them straight from the webpage (now, the cases where someone takes a piece and represents it as their own original work fall under copyright, which I tend to be more sympathic to, but wish the Sonny Bono Act never happened; plus that's just lame), leading to all those silly Javascript tricks on images to try and prevent right-clicking.

    Sure, in an ideal world we'd all make little things and buy them from each other, and all would be well. However, that's not how it works in the world of digital stuffs. The artificial scarcity that makes physical goods producers able to (to an extent) manipulate their asking prices is, by the nature of the medium severely limited. Yet, online content producers find ways to make respectable livings without silly DRM schemes. The key is, of course, to offer something people want at a price they are comfortable paying. There's lots of ways to do this. However, pricing Photoshop at $700 for a single license (and wondering why everyone and their brother copies it instead of buying it) probably isn't the best way to do it (for one example).

    In short, no, it isn't theft unless you change the meaning of the word. Like the pony express, if a company can't adapt their business practices in the face of new technology, they're gonna go out of business. No one is entitled to a profit.

  • by cliffski (65094) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:12PM (#19168391) Homepage
    oh please... you are missing out the description of your brave new world business model. Where nobody gets paid for creating ANYTHING that can be easily copied. Do you have ANY idea how much work is involved in making something like Photoshop, or The lord Of The rings? or Halo? Why the fuck is anyone going to spend any money on making entertainmnt if it can be freely copied without compensation?
    let me guess, you dont care, because like most copyright infringers, you dont make creative content for a living, and are just loving the excuse to take other peoples work for free arent you?
  • by ASBands (1087159) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:24PM (#19168623) Homepage

    The problem is that there is absolutely no proof that file-sharing decreases revenue at all. Rolling Stone published an article that showed those who file share are more likely to spend the most money on music (not CDs in particular, but concerts, band t-shirts, etc.). I, for one, would not be such a huge Dream Theater fan if my friend hadn't of burned me a copy of Train of Thought to introduce me to the band. I downloaded a few songs off their CDs and now I am a proud owner of every single album and anxiously awaiting Systematic Chaos. There are tons of bands that people have introduced to me this way and I have spent tons of money on music and I'm sure I will continue to do so. And yes, I encourage people to buy music or attend concerts if they like the band.

  • by AndrewM1 (648443) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:31PM (#19168733)

    Quit being a dumbass. Unless you're also wanting to say that China, Sweden, Germany, Zimbabwe, and Brazil aren't countries either.

    America = United States of America
    China = People's Republic of China
    Sweden = Kingdom of Sweden
    Germany = Federal Republic of Germany
    Zimbabwe = Republic of Zimbabwe
    Brazil = Federative Republic of Brazil

    Do we need to start using every country's official title so your dumb ass can understand us? Get a clue. And just in case you were confused, the common usage of "Americans" refers to citizens of the United States of America, not the entire population of North and South America.


    Last I checked, Brazil referred to a country ONLY, and there was no continent named Zimbabwe. However, we have not one but three continents named "America" (North, Central, South)

    The poster's point was simply to avoid ambiguity. When there are three continents and a country, all of which go by the same name (not to mention all the Other things named America [wikipedia.org]) it's simply sensible to specify that you're talking about the United States of America. Remember that not all of Slashdot is from the USA, so not everybody is likely to immediately think of Mom, Apple Pie and the Statue of Liberty when they hear "America".
  • by glwtta (532858) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:56PM (#19169237) Homepage
    However, we have not one but three continents named "America" (North, Central, South)

    That's the point - the continents are "North America" and "South America", or "The Americas"; nothing but the country is every referred to simply as "America".

    Also, "Central America" is not a fucking continent!
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:06PM (#19169453) Journal
    This is of course why the legal fiction of "intellectual property" has become such a hot topic in the last 10 years or so. The feeling is that if I made something, under the "old" commercial system, in order for someone else to get that thing (during the tenure of my patent or copyright), someone must pay me for it since I am the only one who knows how to do it, has the equipment to do it, employ the people who have the knowledge to make it, etc. But now with digital things, anyone with the proper tools can make a copy and not have to pay me for it. Now, while that must suck, I've yet to understand why people feel entitled to make money from "stuff" they have.

    It takes time and money to create the "stuff" in question.

    While some people do it purely for the fun/love of doing it, even many of these also have to invest significantly to produce a quality, desirable result.

    There are very, very VERY few "free" movies worth anything. There are a few Star Trek fan mini-movies that are almost watchable, usually about on par with the original (cheesy, campy) original ST series. Otherwise, that's it.

    But, introduce money into the equation, and suddenly you get watchable, interesting content. So if we don't provide some mechanism to fund the creation of these valuable works, what do you suggest we do to encourage their creation?

    Oh, that's right - you figure it all should be free, and you should have an unlimited right to take it, under the misguided notion that whether or not copyright infringement is stealing involves the other consumer?

    Idiot. "Copyright infringement" is theft (directly or indirectly) from the producer of the copyrighted work! Even the beloved "super free" GPL only works in the presence of strong copyright law! I say that we let the producer decide how he/she/they want(s) to get compensated, and let the marketplace decide the best formula.

  • by ccherlin (190007) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:14PM (#19169637)
    Let's be absolutely, one hundred percent, crystal clear about one thing: Unauthorized copying is not piracy.

    What is piracy? Piracy is when someone takes goods, that are legally protected by property rights, and that are being transported from one place to another, without authorization from the owner of the goods, depriving the owner of those goods from their use and economic value.

    What is unauthorized copying? Unauthorized copying is taking a pattern of information that is legally protected by copyright and is fixed on a physical substrate, and creating a similar or identical pattern of information on another physical substrate, without permission of the copyright holder, in a manner that does not have a statutory exemption from copyright protection. (Whew!)

    As you can see, these things are quite distinct from one another. I don't believe that they are even comparable. The use of the term "Piracy" to describe "Copying a protected work without permission of the copyright owner" is misleading, pejorative and dishonest.

    Whether or not you support actual physical piracy (yarrrr, matey) and whether or not you support unauthorized copying, if you want to have an honest debate you should use correct terminology.
  • by SpecBear (769433) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:46PM (#19170299)

    Even better: Pirates should just confess to attempted murder. They're trying to kill off the entire commercial music industry.

    Oh, wait, that would be really fucking stupid.

    Theft and copyright infringement are different offenses and should be handled differently just as property rights and copyrights are handled differently.

    Calling copyright infringement stealing is simply a means for copyright holders to frame the debate in such a way that they can more easily claim more power for themselves. If you assume the two are equivalent, then many of the arguments against increased intellectual property protections start to sound absurd. Should my neighbors have fair use rights to my bicycle? Should my car enter the public domain and be free for anyone to use after a certain amount of time? Of course not.

    But if we call it stealing, then we the people are put in a position where we have to justify what we do with the copyright holders' "property", when instead it's the copyright holders who should have to explain why the government should send people with guns and badges to arrest people for copying a computer file.

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:52PM (#19170411)
    Unless of course, you don't mind if I stop at your house while your out and grab all the stuff you weren't using anyway?

    I'd rather you didn't take it. That would be stealing.

    However, if you come by and wave a magic wand and create yourself exact duplicates, it wouldn't bother me.

  • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:53PM (#19170433)
    You are completely correct in that information is the new currency. But the United States is wrong in how it deals with that currency.

    Manufacturing has always been plagued by scarcity. For instance, in the US and Canada and Europe, there's a scarcity of cheap labour. So stuff that can be sent overseas is sent overseas. But overseas, there's a scarcity of knowledge in areas of research, development, automation, and quality control. So anything that is heavy on those things either have a heavy knowledge and personnel export, or they are kept at home.

    My background is manufacturing in Canada, and I can tell you this: typical tool and die, mould-makers and other rather simple (comparatively) stuff is going to China and India, and complicated, highly technical, highly automated products like aerospace are staying here. In fact, traditional trades are slowing right down, but aerospace is absolutely booming in Ontario.

    The problem is that information has no such scarcity and flows easily away. Whether this information is media or trade knowledge. While we may have the cultural upper hand right now, and while we may have the automation and quality control upper hand right now, information like that won't take long to get to China and other low-wage regions.

    So in all their wisdom, our lawmakers have collectively decided to stop that flow as best they can. Whether they can stop it is yet to be seen, but from what I can see, it's doomed to fail. Or, put another way, artificial scarcity is just that: artificial and easily overcome.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:23PM (#19170969) Homepage Journal
    They are 'online enablers' at the most. We can debate all day long if its right to 'copy', but all these people are doing are offering LINKS... nothing more, nothing less.

    Thats like holding Ford liable beacuse they sell cars, that could be used in a hold up, or to run someone over.
  • by visualight (468005) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:01PM (#19173605) Homepage

    It assumes that copyright law around the world will not eventually be in line with U.S. copyright law as per the wishes of the *AA



    I disagree. The author (Andy Greenberg) is assuming, or hoping for anyway, the exact opposite. In fact, that is the point of this article, to raise public awareness of how much money is being lost due to other nations not getting their copyright laws "in line". The hoped for result is more pressure on foreign governments to do something. Think of the article as "lobbying" rather than "journalism".
  • As the world's largest repository of BitTorrent files
    I'll admit I'm 79% clueless on BitTorrent, but aren't "the files" distributed among the peers (seeders and leachers)? Are they talking about the torrent metadata files or the torrents?

    [TBP] helps millions of users around the world share copyrighted movies, music and other files--without paying for them ... TPB serves as a massive worldwide hub for copyright infringement ... sites like [TPB] show that the Web will always offer safe harbors for clever copyright violators ... the growing guerrilla army of YouTube clones ... a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply
    Wow. Tough crowd. Andy Greenburg, the author, seems pretty hard-nosed about indicting file sharers, and standing up for the media companies who guard their abysmal content like dung beatles defending their turd balls. Understandable, since Forbes itself is a media company [cnn.com]. No danger of slanted opinions, conflict of interest, or journalistic integrity issues here folks; move along, move along.
  • Re:typo? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Friday May 18, 2007 @02:07AM (#19175597) Journal
    Oh. Do you think these laws were passed on their merits? Is there any evidence of that? What is the possible merit of extending copyright to 75 years after the creator is dead? Or DMCA? Do some research and prove him wrong if that's what you believe. There are some things that are fairly obvious in their own right. You're asking him to prove that the sky is blue or water is wet. And the mods get pretty defensive if anyone dares point out how ugly the truth really is when spelled out in an easy to understand fashion. So the bar is still fairly high.
  • by svendsen (1029716) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:50AM (#19178881)
    "However, what if I toiled away hours on end trying to sell something that had no value based on its level of scarcity? Would you say I was foolish?"

    And with that the entire market for people trying to sell their work goes down the drain. The value of software is not defined by its scarcity (as it has none). Its value is determined by a) how much it will help you and b) and cost of development, support, infrastructure, salaries, etc.

    If you want his product then it has value to you. If something has value to you then you are willing to barter for it or will take it. Your morals will dictate which path you choose.

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