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  1. #1

    Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    I'm currently writing a paper on the ethical question "Is illegal downloading the same as stealing?" in which I compare the rights of the downloaders to those of the artists and record labels (among others). So now what has this to do with you? You get the exciting chance to look through my (extremely summarized) notes and see if I missed anything you'd deem obvious.

    The downloaders
    • People have the right to download materials which they already have a legal format of, for example downloading songs you also have the CD of.

    • All people have a right to privacy in their own home, which extends to your personal computer and according to most people also their internet activities.
    • File sharing has been a "right" for years, from lending books to copying songs on a tape recorder, copying DVDs and finally sharing files over the internet.
    • And a side-note here, people who download illegally are also the ones spending the most on legal media. Source


    The artists
    • Everyone deserves a fair wage/reward for their work. If the current situation persists, many labels will stop to exist and artists won't gain much profit from making CD's/selling singles on the internet.
    • Under the current copyright laws in most countries, copying of any sort is in fact illegal. (This is true for basically all materials that are under discussion, copyright lasts for at least 50 years (different for each country) and I doubt many people will complain about you downloading a TV series from the 60's.)
    • On the other hand artists are hurting their own fans and customers when assaulting illegal downloads, why else would you download something from them? [/lil]

    So like I said, a short overview of both groups' rights. You can of course discuss your opinions on downloads (whether they be legal or illegal) here as well.

  2. #2
    High Overlord Zehlkatur's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Well, in the bottom, it's stealing in my opinion.

    Those who download (including me) are taking advantage of a service without paying for it.

    It's have been said for ages but lets put it in a sequence:
    "You see a table of apples that's someon handing away for free. You ask him how he got the apples. He says that he got them from his neighbours tree and the neighbour doesn't know that he took them.
    You don't think anymore about it and takes an apple.
    Next day you see the same guy standing there with apples, this time he have an old man beside him. The guy points at you, the old man walks up to you and say: "You ate one of my apples I want money for it."

    What do you do? Did you do something bad that took stolen fruit yes. Did the man had the rights to claim money for this? Maybe not."

    You can go about it for a long time. But in the bottom piracy is stealing! There are people that makes money from the sales of theese objects. Therefore you are taking their money away from them.
    Happy troll since 2005

  3. #3

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    I find it stealing, because Artist work hard on these songs, movies and so on, just to have a good percent of people going and downloading it legally, or illegally.

  4. #4

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Daginni
    I find it stealing, because Artist work hard on these songs, movies and so on, just to have a good percent of people going and downloading it legally, or illegally.
    The problem with your comment is that there is a huge difference between the artists who make the albums and the labels who sell them and get most of the profits. Artists mainly make their profit from concerts and live performances in general. Which you could consider their job.

  5. #5

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Panoramixe
    The problem with your comment is that there is a huge difference between the artists who make the albums and the labels who sell them and get most of the profits. Artists mainly make their profit from concerts and live performances in general. Which you could consider their job.
    Perhaps, but ether way, your still stealing, even if you try to justify it by saying they were stealing too.

  6. #6
    The Hedgehog Elementium's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    I think if it is too a point where Artists are feeling it in their paychecks then yeah crack down. If people don't shut down pirate sites then artists don't make money and if artists don't make money they don't make music.


  7. #7

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    As bad of a label you could stick on file sharing, I'd probably in most cases go there and override it with "medicine". True is, that there are companies (and by that also people) that suffer a loss from someone not having paid for their entertainment. At first glance I might add, since it is not really a secret (as the OP's linked study supports) that "downloaders" still spend just as much money on stuff like any other one - probably even a tad more, and you can actually understand this as a form of free (yet involuntary) advertising.

    And that is where my "medicine" label comes in! Since the companies have no other control over this "advertising" than the artistic quality of the piece itself, "downloaders" are becoming more and more receptive to good quality stuff, as opposed to what intended advertising suggests to be good stuff. In the current market, if you just pump enough millions into hyping and advertising, you can sell just EVERY shit and make a profit - but those poor souls falling for that trap are the ones that pay the millions that were mostly spent on making them buy in the first place, and they've been betrayed by getting shit labeled "awesome". You can do that with people. Easily. Is that morally fine too?
    There is another level to this, which already has been mentioned briefly before: Those parts of a movie or a musical piece that makes it expensive, are usually just few, consuming huge chunks of cash. For music that would be the labels, that constantly grew, became arrogant and full of themselves while actually doing a very small service. They are simply out of date, pretty much all of them were so proud to completely miss what was happening on the market by coming onto the internet train rather late, and now cry like babies. They eventually have to realize that they are actually no longer needed at all, and that, by human nature, won't just get into some rich asses heads. They lost control, and in a free market you pay that with vanishing sooner or later. I won't shed a tear.
    If the occasional artists disappears from the radio, it wouldn't be too very bad too actually. Considering that a lot of the popular music isn't even performed by real artists, but puppets put in place by the aforementioned companies, this might even be inevitable. On top of that, good artists worth listening to WILL continue to be able to make a living from this, since there it's actually their work that keeps them alive, not the imaginary castle of fame soley bought with cash by their labels. They just have to get used to different channels of selling their products, where even they themselves could take over what the label did before.

    With movies, a huge part goes to the stars. Especially if you have some really big names there, they can easily account for 1/5 to 1/4 of an entire movie's budget. Isn't that sick!? I mean, yeah! If you do a good job, you deserve to be paid well. And yes, if you trade some (or most) of your private life for your job, some compensation is probably okay too, although they actively chose to. But the relations are COMPLETELY off. A Brad Pitt would almost certainly not suffer any change in lifestyle if you simply cut his payments by 2/3. Studios here take the place of labels too, and there is a similar problem with them. But here the actors probably make an at least equal part of the problem, or to be more precise: Anyone with a name that could lead to better salary.
    Another problem with movies is, that with ever improving special effects, they suffer from the very same illness as video games: The story component is increasingly falling short, and is replaced by dull shiny eye candy. Yeah, sometimes it IS cool stuff, but if I expect a movie, I don't want a fricking demo reel for the CGI company! Less money thus could lead to less effect clutter, and then all of a sudden you again have to tell a compelling story to make your movie worth watching - not too bad of a ring to my ears. (Yes, there is the occasional good movie with loads of effects, but you probably can count these on one hand.)

    TL;DR: Both, movie and music industry became WAY too bloated over time, to the point where quality went down the drain. This needs fixing, and if simply not buying seems unfeasible, downloading instead is the means of society to express this. The solution can, either way, only be drying out some of the popping ripe fruits in the big chairs. Sadly, the situation still seems to be not "bad" enough (from the companies' POV bad).


    Personally, I handle things this way: If I'm not sure whether I want to spend my money on this or that, I do download and watch/listen to. If I didn't like it, great! No harm done to my purse, and the piece hadn't deserved my bucks spent on it anyways. If I liked it, in a good 80% of cases or more, I go watch at the cinema's or buy the DVD, for the quality in material and viewing, and as a token of my approval. Additionally, stuff made by the same people have a significantly better chance to be recognized by me, and thus potentially my money being spent on. The same is true for music too, especially with "smaller" and not widely known artists, who are often the actual real deal. I actually do the same for video games. If there's no demo, or the demo is cut down to a state which makes evaluation impossible, I happily make use of cracks without regrets. Is it a cool game (and not published by EA or Ubisoft :P), I'm happy to throw my 60-90 bucks at them, and thank them for making my leisure time fun for some time. Here the real problem only is, that I didn't find any game in the past 3-4 years that satisfied me in the slightest. The only small exception is Portal for it's great concept and humor, but it was rather short in playing time, so that it sadly didn't last for long. There, the process of effects replacing depth seems to have reached a hurtingly high level already

  8. #8

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Downloading illegally is stealing, there is no way to justify it. It should only be acceptable if you have proof that you own it or did own it at some time. I believe that if you bought...say...a blu-ray and somehow it got lost or broken. You should legally be able to download it and watch it so long as you use it for your own use. If you download it and make a dozen copies to give out to your friends...thats a no no. If you download it, make one copy...and let people borrow...that should be the same as if you lent your copy out. Again, only if you have proof that you owned it at one time though.

  9. #9
    Fluffy Kitten Annoying's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by WillfulHarbinger
    Downloading illegally is stealing, there is no way to justify it. It should only be acceptable if you have proof that you own it or did own it at some time. I believe that if you bought...say...a blu-ray and somehow it got lost or broken. You should legally be able to download it and watch it so long as you use it for your own use. If you download it and make a dozen copies to give out to your friends...thats a no no. If you download it, make one copy...and let people borrow...that should be the same as if you lent your copy out. Again, only if you have proof that you owned it at one time though.
    Problem is: You don't own it. Even after "buying" a movie, it's not your property. It belongs to whoever made it, and you have a license to use the single copy you "own". If that copy is destroyed or damaged, you don't have the rights to reproduce it.

    Also:
    Stealing vs File Sharing vs Piracy
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  10. #10

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Thanks for the image Annoying, it gave me a great idea for some depth and a little entertainment in my report.

    As for Medium, I did read all of that and must say on most points I agree. Something that I didn't find yet, however, is a solution.

    In my mind changes in the entertainment industry are well overdue. There are some very good signs of evolution though. For example TV series are being streamed online (legally) by the CW among others (US only for the moment).
    My solution is to go a step further and put legal downloads of your product (in this case TV episodes) in which you incorporate advertisements. It's been proven to work for broadcasting, so why shouldn't it work for the entire entertainment industry? When movies are out on DVD for (let's say) 2 weeks, allow legal downloads. When your CD has been out for two weeks, put all of the tracks for free download and streaming on your official website. (The smaller artists already do this and I'd figure they are the ones who actually need to earn money.)

    This solution does 2 things:
    1) You can earn a lot through advertisements. Not only the ones in the product, but also the ones on your website.
    (A side-note here. You can combine this with a very simple log-in feature so you have a database of consumers, with their interests, you could e-mail special offers to. For example when their favorite band comes to their country/state or when a sequel of a movie they downloaded comes out in the cinema. )
    2) You get people on your website, where they'll see others of your products, your live shows, other movies coming to a cinema near you, etc ...

  11. #11

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Short answer, yes stealing intellectual and creative property is stealing.
    By very definition stealing is bad ethics.


  12. #12
    The Patient Fuze's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Panoramixe
    Thanks for the image Annoying, it gave me a great idea for some depth and a little entertainment in my report.

    As for Medium, I did read all of that and must say on most points I agree. Something that I didn't find yet, however, is a solution.

    In my mind changes in the entertainment industry are well overdue. There are some very good signs of evolution though. For example TV series are being streamed online (legally) by the CW among others (US only for the moment).
    My solution is to go a step further and put legal downloads of your product (in this case TV episodes) in which you incorporate advertisements. It's been proven to work for broadcasting, so why shouldn't it work for the entire entertainment industry? When movies are out on DVD for (let's say) 2 weeks, allow legal downloads. When your CD has been out for two weeks, put all of the tracks for free download and streaming on your official website. (The smaller artists already do this and I'd figure they are the ones who actually need to earn money.)

    This solution does 2 things:
    1) You can earn a lot through advertisements. Not only the ones in the product, but also the ones on your website.
    (A side-note here. You can combine this with a very simple log-in feature so you have a database of consumers, with their interests, you could e-mail special offers to. For example when their favorite band comes to their country/state or when a sequel of a movie they downloaded comes out in the cinema. )
    2) You get people on your website, where they'll see others of your products, your live shows, other movies coming to a cinema near you, etc ...
    i totally agree with but i'd say after a certain let's say Dvds Sold they put them online for free downloads 2 weeks seems like a short period especially after a while ppl will stop buying and wait 2 weeks to download it
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  13. #13

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Panoramixe
    People have the right to download materials which they already have a legal format of, for example downloading songs you also have the CD of.
    I'm fairly sure this is a very marginal practice. Most people who claim this are most likely lying. Why download something you already own?

    All people have a right to privacy in their own home, which extends to your personal computer and according to most people also their internet activities.
    People have a right to privacy in their own home, but that right is revoked when you do something illegal in your home. You're not allowed to kill anyone in your home and get away with it claiming you have privacy. Same applies to any other law. What people are concerned of, on the other hand, is that they will have their internet usage tracked even if they don't do anything illegal. Finding out someone broke to law by downloading illegally is hard without tracking their internet usage. But just because proving you broke the law is hard doesn't mean you're allowed to do it.

    File sharing has been a "right" for years, from lending books to copying songs on a tape recorder, copying DVDs and finally sharing files over the internet.
    copying songs on a tape recorder and copying DVDs was never a right. It is just as illegal as file sharing over the internet. It just never became such a big business due to the manual nature of the crime.

  14. #14
    The Hedgehog Elementium's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Annoying
    Problem is: You don't own it. Even after "buying" a movie, it's not your property. It belongs to whoever made it, and you have a license to use the single copy you "own". If that copy is destroyed or damaged, you don't have the rights to reproduce it.

    Also:
    Stealing vs File Sharing vs Piracy
    Bingo.

    If you buy a book and that book gets destroyed you can't just walk into a book store grab another copy and walk out saying "it's ok I bought this before".


  15. #15

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Obviously I'm a bit biased on the topic.

    I study Marketing so all I see the big companies do is miss huge chances to use these file sharing networks to promote their product and misuse their own customers. So from a marketing perspective they're being dumb asses.

    But for the big labels (and to a lesser extent movie studios) to survive, they have to be able to keep a big grasp on their artists. So you have to consider their profit, employees and contribution to society as well. (taxes and sponsorship)

  16. #16

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    For me, If I download it, it means I wasn't planning on buying it in the first place so they aren't really missing out on anything. I only really download recorded TV series though.

  17. #17

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by RouVix
    copying songs on a tape recorder and copying DVDs was never a right. It is just as illegal as file sharing over the internet. It just never became such a big business due to the manual nature of the crime.
    Actually in Belgium there's a tax called Auvibel which makes copying for home use legal, as long as you don't sell them.

    Quote Originally Posted by RouVix
    I'm fairly sure this is a very marginal practice. Most people who claim this are most likely lying. Why download something you already own?
    For example we have a few dozen videotapes at home and some hardware to transfer them to a computer, but let's say it's easier to just download them again then go through the mess that is that system.

  18. #18

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by Elementium
    If you buy a book and that book gets destroyed you can't just walk into a book store grab another copy and walk out saying "it's ok I bought this before".
    Funnily, that is something that is actually common practice with software. Buy a program, have the data storage it came on destroyed, and most if not all companies will provide a replacement after being shown the bill or some other proof that you legally bought it - sometimes they charge a small fee for processing and material costs. But since you only have a broken "carrier", that does not mean you also are suddenly void of the contents you payed for. The problem with books probably is, that the material costs are comparably high, and that this somehow didn't become common practice.

    Even Blizzard offers a similar service, since the game clients are publicly available via download. There the proof is, that you are only able to use it properly with a payed account - you didn't really pay for the disc you got in the store. (Yes, I know... private servers blah, but that is pretty much unrelated.)

  19. #19

    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    As far as I feel about this, I think the corporations need to let go a bit. But look at things like iTunes, Spotify, Hulu and Steam, excellent new ways of selling or showing media in a very accessible and modern way.

    I think this stuff is the way things should be, but it could ofcourse get better. Lower prices and higher availability would lower the piracy considerably, in my opinion. How to go about doing that though, is out of my league. Though if the companies that create the games are also the ones publishing them, we'd get rid of one "problem". Publishers such as EA, Vivendi and Activision. And we all know and probably share what most others feel about publishers like EA.


    The industry needs to renew itself.

  20. #20
    Mechagnome lzsg's Avatar
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    Re: Downloading and you, the exciting world of corporate ethics

    I can't really convince myself that file sharing is justifiable in any way, since you're indirectly stealing from the makers of the product. It's leeching them of money and if more and more people start doing it, at some point (far) into the future no one's going to have the money to produce music on a large scale.
    As many others have said, however, record companies etc partly have themselves to blame for this. If they had kept up with technology and made their music/films/whatever as accessible as the pirated stuff is, by streaming, paid downloading etc, that would probably have prevented a lot of the file sharing in the first place. I know a lot of the downloading I've done has had more to do with the easy access than everything being free (I like to tell myself that, anyway).

    That said, it's never justifiable in my eyes, no matter how stupid the record companies are.
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