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Editorial Your Rights Online

The Crime of Sharing 328

John Perry Barlow has an editorial piece on recent developments in law and file-sharing networks. Most slashdot readers have read this sort of thing before, but sometimes it's nice to see how different people approach the same sort of persuasive argument, to bolster your own persuasive ability.
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The Crime of Sharing

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  • by kaden ( 535652 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @08:33AM (#3006258)
    Napster existed for a long time with illegal sharring effectively stopped. Hey, isn't this what the whole Slashdot crowd claimed to want? It's a fileshare and there's no illegal swapping, so shouldn't you guys have loved it? Nope, you all moved on to Kazaa and Bearshare. I've yet to see anyone provide an actual reason for filesharing other than to pirate copyrighted material. Everything legitimate is already available on the web and ftp. It makes no sense to get all mad at the RCAA simply for trying to protect it's profits. If someone was cutting out 33% of your salary (if you have a salary, hah) would you be like "Well I can't infringe on his rights..." or would you do something about it? The record industry isn't trying to stop you from trading Linux binaries or whatever you claim to be using File Sharing for. They're just guys trying to watch their backs. Yes, I agree that most of them are overpaid whores, but that really doesn't matter. Ok label this as a troll. It's a different viewpoint! Ahh!!! I bet he even runs Windows!
  • Mute argument (Score:2, Informative)

    by JohnBE ( 411964 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @09:08AM (#3006379) Homepage Journal
    This whole thing is a mute argument, the cat is out of the bag. Not least because of Freenet. There is nothing aside from severely restricting usage at ISP's to stop this.

    Freenet [] is a distributed network with anonymity built in. In a nutshell here are the features:

    It can't be monitored effectively

    It can carry any kind of media

    It is anonymous []

    It is written in Java

    Napster style [] clients exist (also written in Java)

    All OSS

    It is crawling with all kinds of undesirables because of the above.

    If the users of existing filesharing networks were to move to something like this the record industry would be screwed.

  • by Dante_H ( 537218 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @09:17AM (#3006420)
    Serious question though: How is "theft" defined in U.S. law? Im my country, it only applies if you take something away [] (sorry, link to German site), which is different from copying something.

    IANAL (or an American) so can't answer that specifically. However, I do remember hearing that historically Anglo-Saxon law classifies theft (or stealing) as permanently denying the owner of a physical item.

    This is why, in the UK, if you are arrested for joy-riding you are charged with "Taking and Driving Away" rather than simply Car Theft, because a possible defence exists that you were intending to return the car. A "temporary" theft is not realy theft (in these terms). Hence the need for a new law to be made (TADA)

    It seems to me that under the same criteria copyright infringement cannot be classified theft. You might argue that it's depriving the artist (or studio, or shop) of revenue, but certainly not the physical item (the CD) Whether it is right or not is another matter.

  • by jurros ( 110198 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @09:47AM (#3006537)
    Actually, that's an easy question (at least in the spirit of the law). :)

    'Copyright infringing' starts with the line:
    "Actually I have it here on my compuyter, I could ..."

    The reason here is up to that point, the first person is willing to relate the story in his/her own words (more or less). Once you start distributing exact copies of the origional is where you get into trouble.

    Not that any of it makes the law right. But since you asked...
  • by freality ( 324306 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @11:18AM (#3007373) Homepage Journal
    The buck stops with the artists.

    An artist has the choice to sell out or be free.

    Selling out means imposing a copyright on their work and then transferring the copyright to a large, monolithic, investment-driven organization that will surprise nobody in its mercilless drive to squeeze a buck out of the work.

    Being free means playing music, writing prose, etc., without attaching any strings. Period.

    If you're the Backstreet Boys, you sell out, because it'll take a huge branding campaign and monopolistic distribution to saturate tween minds to the point of addiction before anyone would listen to, much less pay for your music.

    If you're actually a true force of creativity, you stay free, as selling out would hurt the health of your work. This used to (rightly) be called "Alternative" or "Underground". You give your work to the public domain and don't charge, except maybe for shows and equipment, and then only to cover costs and go out for a movie.

    Us users, on the other end, should reward the artists and ignore the rest.

    Vote with your Voice. Vote with your Feet. And Vote with your Wallet.
  • Yes there is (Score:3, Informative)

    by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <> on Thursday February 14, 2002 @12:11PM (#3007843)
    Yes there is, its called Fairtunes []
  • by theCoder ( 23772 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @02:05PM (#3008574) Homepage Journal
    According to the 1997 Indiana Criminal Code (that's the only copy I have handy and I doubt theft's definition has changed that much in 5 years), theft is defined as:
    A person who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over property of another person,
    with intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use, commits theft, a class D felony.

    IANAL, but the intent part is very crucial here. When most people download a song or movie, their intent is probably not to screw the copyright owner but to get the media for the least possible price (though I'm sure some do it just to screw the RIAA/MPAA).

    Of course, this isn't that useful since copyright infringement is also a crime, and would probably be the charge and not some form of theft.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake