Thu 20 Nov 2014 5:51PM

Attitude towards infringments of local copyright law via the Internet

CM Craig Magee Public Seen by 69

University pirate speaks out
>KT said he would never pay for content, arguing that Australia's "distance" from the US didn't make him feel guilty about infringing on the copyright of overseas rights holders.
>Noting the Netflix Australia announcement on Wednesday, he said he also wouldn't pay for that service.
>"Maybe it's a generational thing?"

I'm curious to know, how many pirates will never pay for legitimate channels distributing commercial content even when they are competitively available?
What are the opinions of the current board members (which still includes David Peterson, at least until the next board meeting) on what justifies piracy?


Hubat McJuhes Sat 22 Nov 2014 3:00AM

I am happily paying for
* buying music of artists whose work I regard highly;
* renting or buying movies or series that Are worth their money (but cinema is still the real thing)
* software that pays off by it's usefulness,
* news providers who do a good job in actually researching what they present as facts.

It is very important to me that the creator(s) of the works do actually profit from my contributions.
Hence I wouldn't pay for a streaming service as I am pretty sure that music labels will get their share, but I am also pretty certain that they don't share with the creators in a far manner.
I also disagree with the Kindergarden of my children having to pay fees to Warner Bros. for singing Happy Birthday (regarded as public performance!).
My payment being a contribution to the good people behind the product that I like is important to me.

That's why I also donate via flatter for the many cost-free podcasts that I happily consume.

I happily participate in crown funding good ideas, even if I cannot be certain that it will be a success if I am convinced it's good people, trying seriously.

I also donate for organisations that do good things in many different areas.

All this has nothing to do with avoiding feeling guilty or something. I wouldn't feel guilty as everything I do is 'fair use' in terms of my own, personal standards.

I very much dislike the stance expressed in the above citation as it appears ignorant to the legitimate interests of the creators. (I don't care about the right owners, though.) Much more do I dislike the use of the word 'piracy' for for something that is actually not about threatening people to be murdered. The name of our party is a parody about this greatest example of FUD and we should abstain from using the term in the sense the lobby of the copy restriction right owners want to lure us into.


Hubat McJuhes Sat 22 Nov 2014 3:00AM

@craigmagee BTW: what is your stance?


Craig Magee Sun 23 Nov 2014 10:34PM

Are you asserting the kindergarten your children attend actually pays a licencing fee so they can sing 'Happy Birthday' under threat of being sued by Warner if they don't?
If that is really true, why don't you think the kindergarten should instead simply use and endorse a song in the public domain or under a less restrictive license? Is someone having a birthday justification for piracy?


Ben Vidulich Mon 24 Nov 2014 6:35AM

For me it's all about convenience. Streaming services have made it easier to get access to a broad range of music on virtually whatever device I want without any kind of delay.

The argument that streaming services pay less than digital download stores (e.g. iTunes) is not as strong as you might think. Estimates made by Rolling Stone show that although Spotify pays songwriters around 10% and iTunes pays around 12-20%, consider unit prices and qualities sold. An individual stream is going to pay a lot less than an individual track purchase, but I suspect the number of streams far outweighs the number of track purchases. Artists, such as Taylor Swift, that claim that streaming services don't compensate them are generally targeting ad-supported streaming services such as Spotify's free tier. If you consider paid streaming services where users generally only stream their favourite artist, then that particular artist is likely to benefit more than someone who purchases the artist's album once and listens to it repeatedly without purchasing another album.

As for TV and movies, I don't think there's a platform available in New Zealand yet that meets my demands (this might change next year with Netflix though). If we get TV shows in NZ then it's probably months/years later and in some format that doesn't let me watch it in whatever way I want.

Software? Choose open source. Video games? Steam sales.

Income is something I consider a fair justification of piracy. In high school / early university I didn't have a lot of spare cash to spend on music/TV/movies/software/games and this became a strong justification for piracy. However, as my income as increased so has my willingness to purchase such things. This kind of follows the same logic as how tax rates are assigned to those of low and high incomes, respectively.

Another justification is the lack of intent to purchase the object in question: if it's available for free (via pirated methods) then why not? - Otherwise I'll go without (or seek a free alternative).


Hubat McJuhes Mon 24 Nov 2014 7:04AM

Is the use of the term 'piracy' in his context important to you, and if so: why?
Or could we possibly agree that it use here is frivolous beyond reason and an important strategic aspect in the right holders FUD campaign that we should not just simply accept to use ourselves in the same way?


Hubat McJuhes Mon 24 Nov 2014 7:45AM

@craigmagee I don't think that someone having birthday is a justification for reckless mass murder! Why do you ask such a silly question?

I would think, that someone having birthday is a good justification for sing a birthday song, though.

I have some doubts that Warner has a good justification to still claim fees > US$2,000,000/yr for a song that has been published 121 years ago. And I am not alone: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1111624

What really surprises me is that you start a discussion with such a broad scope without even pointing out your position and focus of interest; and then, when one responds with a broad perspective, you refer only to one tiny detail - but still without expressing your thoughts. This is irritating. Do you even have a serious interest in the topic you bring up?


Hubat McJuhes Mon 24 Nov 2014 7:50AM

I have taken the liberty to change the title of this discussion to a term that is actually reflecting on what we talk about. I don't think that this is about murderous robbery on the seven sees, is it.


Ben Vidulich Mon 24 Nov 2014 8:43AM

What really surprises me is that you start a discussion with such a broad scope without even pointing out your position and focus of interest; and then, when one responds with a broad perspective, you refer only to one tiny detail - but still without expressing your thoughts. This is irritating. Do you even have a serious interest in the topic you bring up?

Before @craigmagee or anyone else responds to this comment, can we please redirect focus back onto the discussion itself rather than resorting to personal attacks?

Is the use of the term ‘piracy’ in his context important to you, and if so: why?

The word 'piracy' is not important to me. If I were to interpret the word 'piracy' another way it would be with the words 'file sharing' because that's what this discussion's description suggests - e.g. "what are the reasons to continue illegal file sharing when reasonable commercial services exist?"


Hubat McJuhes Mon 24 Nov 2014 11:04AM

I agree, 'file sharing' is the best, i.e. most descriptive term one has been coming up with so far.
The term doesn't cover singing a song in a group, but other than that it's spot on. It covers
* commercial file sharing, e.g. iTunes or netflix,
* non-commercial, completely legal file sharing of stuff with free licenses, e.g. distributing linux via bittorrent,
* illegal file sharing via P2P networks of copy-restricted stuff,
* legal file sharing of restricted stuff where covered by the 'fair use' policy, e.g. sharing a set of music files on an USB stick amongst close friends on the school yard.

It is a small enough scope to focus and brought enough to possibly destill some abstractions that can guide us.

Talking about file sharing can help us understand that the issue of possible copyright infringement applies only to a fraction of the the stuff that we can and do share without any concerns.

This helps to realise that the copyright infringement issue is actually not so much of a big issue as the rights owner lobby wants everyone to believe.

It also helps to see that we are used to share files legitimately. So there are well established techniques that we use and are familiar with. It is convenient for us to use them.
If a commercial service wants to be successful, it would need to be even more convenient to feel attractive.
For a very long time, the content lobby has been busy inventing more and more ways to make their paid products particularly hard to use.
Services which aimed at a positive user experience have been very, VERY successful, though. iTunes was the ice breaker (breaking up the cartel of the content mafia), but many other shops and stores are very, very successful with ever growing margins; netflix is just one out of many other examples.
Clearly people are willing to pay, and to pay lots, if, and only if, the experience is an uncompromised good one.
As a matter of fact
- is the annual revenue of the content owners rising and rising every year since there are actually a number of reasonably comfortable services around,
- is the amount of material distributed in an illegal fashion slightly falling over the last couple of years,
- is there still a very strong correlation between the number of illegal transactions and paid transactions for one title, clearly showing that the more a title gets circulated on dubious channels, the more it will be bought also. the message that the lobby always yells, that each illegal download is a loss for the owners is exactly wrong; the contrary is right: the more attention something gets from the ever exchanging content-junkie, the more attraction this provokes amongst the more modest and paying customers.

Looking at those facts, the way the content owners act appears completely insane and self-destructive. Using words like 'piracy' for something that in effect is swarm-advertising in their own favour, is just one another facet of their insanity. If anything one should feel pity for those poor buggers.

But as I have mentioned earlier: I actually don't care at all about restriction-right owners. I just think it is only a small issue and we should care more for the big issues in society, e.g. participation, equality, education,... to mention a few.

And here we have another point where we come together, @zl4bv . You mention low income as a reason why some people may prefer illegal but cost-free distribution channels over official and expensive ones. And you accept this as a justification. I read this as an implicit acknowledgement that access to these 'goods' has something to do with participation. The 'products' are not just goods like others, they actually are essentially cultural expressions of the society we live in. It is not just to exclude people completely out of this realm of culture that is part of the glue that forms a society only due to their income situation. I fully agree with this assessment.

But does the idea that some degree of access to common media content should be available to everyone automatically mean that all contents must be free of charge and all creators must starve, as the content mafia suggests?

I hope not. As I have pointed out earlier, this is my actual concern: how to bring the audience and the creators together again after they have been separated by the greedy middle-man-content-mafia that only has exploitation in mind: exploitation of the creators by forcing them into contracts that imply giving up their rights; and by exploiting the consumers by threatening them with prison if they don't pay enough for whatever shit they want to push into our ears.

Modern distribution channels would technically allow creators to directly distribute their art towards the hands of their fans without loosing control of their work to a record company, earning a living much easier than in the current system that only provides recognisable income to some very few artists.

We should work on policies that are protecting the interests of the creators as well as those of the common people that are their audience.
One step forward to allowing people to relieve artists from the pressure of needing to earn so much money that they cannot do their their artist's work and express themselves, could be the UBI that we promote. Another important step could be in developing new licensing agencies that cope better the the modern demand.

We should not worry about those loonies that run the middle-man businesses. They shall get lost in translation. We will not miss them. Let them rest in peace.


Craig Magee Mon 24 Nov 2014 11:22PM

I changed the title to from '...commercial file sharing' to '...illegal file sharing' as that better represents the topic.
Attempting to subvert the discussion with obfuscation is not appreciated.


Andrew Reitemeyer Mon 24 Nov 2014 11:36PM

We should never condone breaking the law. However we should be active in repealing unjust laws, such as the three strikes law and work to replace draconian IP laws that are unjust and drafted to suit the needs of the IP industry. Also working to encourage the use of creative commons licenses and open source software.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 25 Nov 2014 11:05AM

@craig: may I site the question that you have brought up to start this discussion:

I’m curious to know, how many pirates will never pay for legitimate channels distributing commercial content even when they are competitively available?

You are asking who is willing to pay for commercial offerings and who prefers to abstain from those offerings. Are you now saying that this question is about who is happy with infringing copy restriction rights? Does that mean you are implying that who doesn't buy something will therefore steel it? Do we have an obligation to buy all things that are offered? Can we not choose to live without them?

Attempting to subvert the discussion with obfuscation is not appreciated.

I agree wholeheartedly. Good night.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 25 Nov 2014 11:23AM

@andrewreitemeyer Exactly. We are a political party. It is the core of our job to criticise existing laws where necessary and suggest better laws where possible. This is what parties are about. It certainly implies to rate the value of laws highly.

On another note: Because I am not a native speaker I would like to ask how the term 'illegal' is properly to be used. Is every violation of a legal norm an illegal act? Or does a violation need to to be a criminal act to be called illegal?
With other words: Is an infringement enough to call something illegal? Would you say it is 'illegal' to park for 4 hours in a parking slot where the maximum allowed is 2 hours? Or would that word be reserved for criminal acts?

If the latter, then it would be good to note that, according to the article that @craigmagee is referring to:

Downloading copyright infringing material is not a crime in Australia and won't put you in prison but you can be sued thousands of dollars by rights holders.


Ben Vidulich Thu 27 Nov 2014 8:40AM

I would like to ask how the term ‘illegal’ is properly to be used.

'Legal' means relating to or permitted by the law. 'Illegal' means the opposite - anything prohibited by law.

Is an infringement enough to call something illegal?

'Infringement' does imply illegality, because, by definition infringement means 'the act of breaking the terms of law' - according to whatever dictionary OS X uses.


Hubat McJuhes Thu 27 Nov 2014 11:19AM

Sorry, @zl4bv , my OS X dictionary seems to be different from yours:

the action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement, etc.; violation: copyright infringement | [ count noun ] : an infringement of the rules.

So it might only be an agreement, etc. that is broken; such as a licensing agreement, maybe? Certainly breaking a licensing agreement is not illegal, even though that that the licensee may be able to legally impose fees for breaking the agreement. So laws are involved in requesting legit fees, even though no laws may have been broken. Hence, a copyright infringement might not be illegal, but may trigger the legal right to ask for high contract violation fees? (In the same way a warden can request fees for parking too long in a parking lot, even though parking longer than allowed is not breaking a law, only violates an agreement.)


Craig Magee Thu 27 Nov 2014 8:41PM

The heading has already been changed to hopefully suit even the most anal-retentive of people not satisfied with the 'modern' use of the word piracy (which has been used in that context since at least 1603).



[deactivated account] Fri 28 Nov 2014 6:22AM

I started off with software and music piracy as a young boy 30 years ago, I do not think that it is reasonable to commit 2 months pocket money to a single game that typically isn't anywhere remotely like the depictions in the stores.
Now that I sometimes have spare money, my flat subscribes to sky sports and movies, soho and rialto via vodafone tv. This takes care of those flatmates with older PC laptops with small HDDs, I frequently find that I download movies ahead of their "debut" on sky movies and most music I get is free mashups of songs by highly overrated artists such as Lorde, the main difference is that I get something good to listen to, not what's on the radio.

Software I might pay for if it is quality programs for a reasonable price, I do not pay for overpriced useless software I might use once a month if that.
I typically only buy software via iTunes cards on discount, or steam sales maybe twice a year.

I think the onus is on the companies creating the software and music to find better business models than restricting the price points artificially to meet a physical copy price point. If the product is entirely digital, then there is no real cost of distribution, no need for charging different prices according to national boundaries, or software platform.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 28 Nov 2014 9:42AM


use of the word piracy (which has been used in that context since at least 1603)

Can you please provide a source? I am very interested.


Ben Vidulich Fri 28 Nov 2014 11:14PM

‘the act of breaking the terms of law’

the action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement, etc.; violation: copyright infringement | [ count noun ] : an infringement of the rules.

'the act[ion] of breaking the terms of [a] law...'

They are the same definition of the word infringement - I just paraphrased mine for relevance.

I don't see the value of this word definition game. Rather than arguing the definitions of words, could we discuss the application of these words in context of copyright law?