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Author Topic: Discussion: How severely should illegal downloading of any kind, be punished?  (Read 22425 times)

1420r2d

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I think that illegal downloading isn't such a wrong thing to do. Most authors complain about losing profits from such activities, but they can't do anything. Also when downloading games, they look complete but they aren't. Nowadays games are played via other connection programs, which are stable(i think), but when downloading a game illegally gamers must use programs like Garena or Hamachi. Both programs are completely unstable and provide limited connectivity(even more limited with Hamachi). So my point is that, even that illegal downloading is wrong, the data you get just isn't the real thing. My opinion is that, if someone gets cough the punishment should be, to pay 3 times the prise of what he/she(/it :D) has downloaded. Not too easy not oo hard. I expect other suggestions or opinions.

I believe that this is a very current problem, and i hope everyone joins the discussion.
P.S. Trerro i hope i have followed the rules about making such threads so if there is something wrong please tell me to fix it.   

oddblob :)

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talking bout the music downloads, most artists dont actully care bout illegal downloads, as they mainly get the money from gigs, and besides, yes there will be people downloading stuff illegally, but imo its not the same as actully going out and spending your money on something worthwhile (if there good) and im sure im not alone so there always be people that buy the albums and singles and what nots..so dowloading music illegally isnt such a big deal, its when you start using it on a big time scale without the artist permission and not paying royalties that it becomes a problem.

were as the illegal game downloading im afraid youve lost me :P
well know...this is an act called mating, but there are a few differences between human beings and animals that you should know about....

         

iggy

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You can't punish people for downloading random music/games/movies/books unless you routinely begin to supervize the internet activity of every individual, which is just very wrong. So I think this is really where the discussion should end. As for movies constantly being leaked while not being out on dvd even... try putting a tiny unique signature (just a few pixels so it's unnocitable) on every movie that gets played in a particular movie theatre and you will find where it gets leaked pretty easily.

For music I don't see it being a problem because if people like your crap enough they'll pay money to come hear you play it and for games it's all about playing online, and very few cracked versions have thousands of people playing on cracked servers.

So the punishment for downloading should be none at all, distributing (meaning you work in a movie theatre and for instance) is a whole different thing though, those are actual criminal offenses.

GPH

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I'm going to disagree with everyone else so far. Illegally downloading something is theft. Any attempt to try and say that its anything less than theft is just trying to salve you conscience. Saying 'it's fine because there'll always be people who will pay' or 'it's fine unless you're doing it commercially' doesn't really work. Do you let shoplifters off just because you've already had 20 paying customers that day or they're only stealing one item instead of 50? Oddblobs point of saying the artists don't care so its fine doesn't hold water either. If they didn't care then they wouldn't be charging anyone would they? :P (those of you who feel interested in discussion of the various strengths and weaknesses of different pricing strategies may want to look up the recent indie game World of Goo promotion, normally $20, which was put on sale on a 'pay however much you like' system).

IGW mentioned games = online play and 142 said that it was fine to get games because if you want to play them online you often have to rely on dodgy servers or whatnot. I'd like to point out I currently have 20 games installed on my computer, of which only 3 are online/require online registration. This leaves 17 games that I just as easily could have downloaded illegally instead of buying.

Having said all that, let me now explain why when I download stuff illegally, I'm morally in the clear ;) The difference between illegal downloading and say...shoplifting the item in question, is that there is no obvious injured party. In the case of shoplifting, the game store has one less copy of the game to sell and they paid for that game so they are clearly out of pocket. When you download something illegally you haven't actually cost anyone anything.

However, this logic is faulty when you take into account that what the person has lost is in fact the profit they would have received from the sale to you.

So there is an injured party but its only a theoretical injured party, which is why I assume so many people make the claim that it isn't really stealing at all. So in order to be morally in the clear (ish) when you download something illegally you need to only ever download something which you never would have otherwise bought. This is why I allow myself to watch so many movies online. I would never buy the DVD of a movie that I haven't already seen. Of course the important point here is that if I decide I like the movie enough that I'm going to keep a copy on my hard drive permanently I have now slid back into the thieving area as I am now using the download as a replacement for buying the DVD instead of just as a way of killing time/seeing if I think the DVD is worth buying.

So having explained why I think my downloading of stuff illegally is fine (though I freely admit that I'm probably just rationalising to myself so that I can continue to download all that sweet illegal goodness that the internet offers) and why I think that it is morally wrong (ie. it is stealing), what should be done about it?

My gut would say that a fair punishment would be one equal to what you would get for stealing/shoplifting said item, obviously scaled up if you were distributing them for profit. By the same theory you don't stop every customer leaving a shop and strip search them just in case they were shoplifting, don't monitor everyones internet traffic unless there's already reasonable suspicion that something is up (which basically means only people doing this on a larger scale will get caught because they're the only ones who will be under prior suspicion). IGWs point that you can't punish anyone until there's the possibility to punish everyone is nonsensical. Do we fail to prosecute a mugger caught on CCTV because around the corner someone got mugged and there's no CCTV there so the person got away? (Yay analogies that don't really work but make the other person look wrong! :P)

So basically I don't think its worth investing the time and effort to catch individuals (yay I'm safe :P) but that doesn't mean that I think individuals should be immune to prosecution (oh noes!).

=||=

oarsof6

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I have to agree with GPH on this one... the programmers and companies invested a lot of time and money into developing those games, and by downloading them without permission, you are taking advantage of their hard work and risk. Same goes with music. If you don't have the money to put down on a game/mp3... go out and mow someone's lawn or something! You're not entitled to ANYTHING that anyone else has just because someone presented it to you for the taking!

As for punishments, having to pay 3x the amount of what you stole if you get caught isn't much of a deterrent. I would treat online crime as if it happened in a store: steal a game, you go to jail my friend. Offer a stolen game to someone else: you also go to jail, except longer. Now execution of this punishment may be unrealistic because of the many jurisdictions dealt with, but that's besides the point ;)

oddblob :)

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i wasnt defending downloading music illigaly when i said many artists didnt care, i was just saying

out of all the poeple in the world there bound to be more people that will buy the disks than downloading them illigaly (checks facts)

ok so i was wrong..if 95% if the music downloaded in 2008 was illegal (god dam it)

so back on to the main point..if you think about that then if you try to stop and/or punish everyone that downloads something illegaly, your gonna be spending way to much time and resources on it that should be dealing with more pressing issues, such as terrisium, war, economic proplmes (dam england still being in ressesion)

however I do agree that downloading stuff illegally should be punished as much as normal stealing, although I don't see how its possibly on that scale, when someone steals something from a shop 9 times out of 10 they'll get caught, or they'll be caught on camera or some how easily identified, while someone downloading something illegally is harder to track, as IP can be changed, computer destroyed, hard drives swapped and what not. and t the police aren't going to ask everyone to produce the receipt that shows they bought the item. are they?

its a difficult subject.
well know...this is an act called mating, but there are a few differences between human beings and animals that you should know about....

         

oarsof6

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question for you: Have you ever gone fishing? If so, have you ever caught ALL of the fish? Just because it would be almost impossible to catch everyone who downloads illegally does not mean that the authorities should not go after those they do catch, and when people see others put in jail for the same activities they are doing, most will stop because a free song or two isn't worth potential jail time. The risk suddenly outweighs the benifit, and most will stop. Then the people who continue will be even easier to track/prosecute.

Trerro

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It's actually more nuanced than simply "always fine" or "always theft."

Let's start with games, as out of music and games, I think they're the simpler of the two to discuss. I agree that you shouldn't illegally acquire new games. They're expensive to make, and if you want that company to keep making them, they need to sell their work. There's also no gaming equivalent to the RIAA, so generally speaking, you're paying the devs who built the game, the publisher that did all the physical production of discs and crap, and the store that sold you the game, all of which you should want to support.

What about very old games, however? Suppose you read about some ancient SNES game on a site, and decide you want to try it. Those games aren't sold anymore, anywhere, so if you were to buy the cartridge, you're buying it secondhand. The original company will not get a penny, no matter how you acquire the game. In this case, I see nothing wrong with grabbing an emulator and a rom, because you're not denying anyone profits - there aren't anymore to make on that game. I would apply this to any system from 2 or more generations ago, any PC game at least a decade old, or any game for either where the company went out of business. (You can usually still buy stuff from the previous generation of consoles, and computer games usually get a second run in a collection package, but a dead company is well... dead.)

With music, it's harder, because there's an added moral dilemma. The RIAA gouges bands to the point that it's rare for a full dollar of that $15 CD to actually make it to the band, and it's usually a lot less. Worse, there's a good chance that a larger portion of the sale is going to RIAA lawyers to sue grandmothers that don't own computers and lobby to get ridiculous laws passed to kick people off of the internet. (Google ACTA, it's scary.) So on one hand, you're buying an album to support a band, but on the other, you're also supporting an evil, exploitative system that harms musicians and listeners alike, and society itself as copyright strays further and further from its intended original purpose.

Additionally, there's the fact that seeing a band in concert gives the band a very significant chunk of the ticket price, with the rest supporting the place running the concert, both of which are worth supporting... and it does this WITHOUT also funding the RIAA. Ditto on buying band merchandise (T shirts, etc.).

The solution would seem simple, except of course that you almost certainly listen to a good number of bands, but will only ever see a fraction of them live, so "just go to a live show of everyone you like" simply isn't practical.

I'm honestly not sure what the best answer is here. For bands that aren't on RIAA labels, yeah, definitely buy the album. For ones that are though, there's simply no way to buy their music without doing more harm than good.

As for penalties, what you're stealing is an infinite good, so any penalties should be civil, not criminal - you've only denied profits, you haven't done any other damage. Penalties should be based on the sale value of what you took with a 2-3x multiplier. So stealing $100 of music should get you a $200-$300 fine, not your house and life savings like the RIAA wants. There should be no penalty at all for old games (see above), and of course, in any case that a band directly encourages downloading and spreading their music, there should be no penalty for doing so, as they've given you permission.

I really hope the RIAA will hurry up and collapse though, as then it'll be possible to simply pay bands.

Edit: Just to clarify, when I'm talking about penalties, I'm saying IF there's going to be penalties, they need to be sane as opposed to the ludicrous $10k+/song people have been sued for. I do ultimately think that eventually, downloading will indeed become the norm. Physical media is obsolete tech, bands have always made most of their money through live performances, and once the tech fully catches up to allow large-scale promotion efforts with the downloads, that's going to become the standard, with the RIAA going bankrupt and being missed by... no one. That isn't going to happen overnight, however.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2009, 01:25:36 am by Trerro »
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1420r2d

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So we reach again on my opinion of 2-3x multiplier for a download penalty. I don't know about the standard in the USA, but here for example: I downloaded Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2, because i am huge fan of the series,I got the game 2 days after its release and I completed the campaign after another 2 days, the game as far as I know is not yet in our stores, and when it gets here the price will be 100lv. or about 50-60$. I don't know if this is a normal price for the USA but here such a price is too much for a game. Besides I saving my money for StarCraft 2 when it gets out (hopefully in my country as well) and a drivers license(moving away from the topic... :-\). Like GPH, I too have/had i don't know exactly 20-30 games, and everysingle one of them was downloaded illegally. The main reason was that 90% of them do not exist in the shops and aren't produced anymore like Trerro said  the other part is just too expensive or my pocket.(BTW Trerro StarCraft 1 is still in the stores although it is a 10-11 year old game :D). And do you guys think that downloading, books that won't appear in you country for another 5 years, because they can't translate it into your language, but you know the original language and you want the book? I have 4 of those, because if i order them, for example: I have friends in Canada and when they visited us i asked them to buy me 7-8 books and give them to me and i would pay them back- thats a 80$ expense for me. Fine i said i really want them. But they forgot a book at Canada and when they sent it to me on their expense the delivery costs was 30$! So do the math- 80$+240$ for each book makes 320$ instead of 80$, and if my friends would come again I would have bought the books but i just didn't want to spend 160$ instead of 40$. Finally what do you guys think of predownloading some TV series on your PC should it be considered as a theft or maybe some kind of violation if you want to see you show earlier?

oarsof6

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Trerro: With very old games (such as SMB3), you can actualy download the games on your Wii and play them there, they even have games from companies who no longer exist :) Most of the time, when a game company goes under, another company buys the rights to the games the original company produced, so they can do things like what Nintendo is doing. As for PC games, save up some $$ and buy the older PC game on Ebay or something! I can understand downloading a ROM for a game that you already own so you can play on your computer, but anything else is taking something that the owner did not give permission to take (otherwise known as theft).

As for music, so what if you don't like the RIAA? If you have a problem with the organization attached to a band's music, DON'T BUY MUSIC FROM THAT BAND! If enough people don't boycott music from the RIAA, bands will sign to different organizations. Remember, it was the band's choice in the first place to sign to the RIAA, so saying that you support the band, then downloading the band's music for free because you don't like the RIAA is just a cop out. Remember, you don't even have to buy the whole album, go to Amazon or iTunes and download only the songs you want... less money for the RIAA, and you can still go to the band's concerts to support the band.

The only response that I have to 1420r2d is that he needs to get a stinken job and stop feeling that he is entitled to anything, especially a game such as Modern Warfare 2. Just because he feels that the play time isn't worth the money does not mean that he has the right to steal the game. Does he have any idea how long it takes to develop a game like Modern Warfare 2, how much money is spent on such an investment? If he doesn't feel like the game is worth the money, HE SHOULDN'T BUY IT! Play the games that he already has instead, or better yet, use that time to GET A JOB!

oddblob :)

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Quote
and when people see others put in jail for the same activities they are doing, most will stop because a free song or two isn't worth potential jail time.

going slighty off topic here (sorry  out this) but as far as im awear, crime and punishment have been going on for a long time, and if everyone in the world decided that they didnt want to go to jail or what not so they dont do the crime (they all wouldnt have to decided at the same time) crime would seize to exist, therefore the punishment would eventually be removed and/or people will start doing crime again..and so on...

sorry bout going off topic, but i needed to say that
well know...this is an act called mating, but there are a few differences between human beings and animals that you should know about....

         

oarsof6

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Quote
and when people see others put in jail for the same activities they are doing, most will stop because a free song or two isn't worth potential jail time.

going slighty off topic here (sorry  out this) but as far as im awear, crime and punishment have been going on for a long time, and if everyone in the world decided that they didnt want to go to jail or what not so they dont do the crime (they all wouldnt have to decided at the same time) crime would seize to exist, therefore the punishment would eventually be removed and/or people will start doing crime again..and so on...

sorry bout going off topic, but i needed to say that

Look at what happened in Katrina: the authority was gone, so the population reverted to theft, murder, and general lawlessness. People were no longer worried about the consequences of their crimes, so they went out and did pretty much whatever they wanted. Yes, there is still crime when authority is in place, but the crime is at a much much lower rate than it would be if there were no consequences to their actions.

1420r2d

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@ oarsof6 well I would like to get a F***ing job, but I am still F***ing underaged! The only F***ing job I managed to get was a 12hour workday 7 days a week with a months pay of 320$. I don't think that downloading a game that i like and not having to spend a quarter of my rly hard earned money meant to help me at school, is that bad! So if I get a F***ING DECENT JOB I WILL BUY IT!!!! Don't go judging ppl without even knowing them.

This post is in violation of the rules, I wont be surprised if it is deleted! Nothing else to say here. 

oarsof6

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You're right,  I'm entitled to whatever I want, right? Isn't that the motto: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need? I shouldn't have spent all summer when I was 17 working at the supermarket, scraping together every dime I earned to buy a 10 year old car with 140,000 miles on it. When my boss came rolling in with a brand new Corvette, I should have just taken the keys from him and driven off... I had the need, he had the ability, right?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 04:04:20 am by oarsof6 »

1420r2d

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So you have experienced what I have experienced, and you say that you should have stolen your bosses car? I might be stealing the game, but i am sure that i wont go stealing cars if i don't have money. The "theft" i made was insignificant when compared to lets say a car theft. Do you think that when i wanna buy a car i want something brand new? Of course i do! BUT i am going to settle for like you said a 10 year old and who knows how many miles. The newest car my family owns is a nissan from 1998 with 140k miles. Perhaps i am going to buy a VW Golf 2 cause they are cheap and easy to maintain. And again i say my little "theft" was for entertaining for me and only me. If you hate illegal downloads so much go and find the ppl who hacked the game and released it to the internet.