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A few questions about copyright laws

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I'm still a little fuzzy on a few aspects of copyright laws. Perhaps someone could clear these up for me?

As an aside, I am more worried about morality in these actions, rather than what the law says

First, if Peer-to-peer and file sharing is theft and wrong, then where does tape and record copying stand? That went on for years and no one cared enough to sue over it. Are the actions inherently different or are they the same?

Another thing that confuses me is (and this may occur in other sports, but I don't follow them) when watching football, they always say something like "This transmission is the property of the NFL; any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited." Also, my family has season tickets and the back of the ticket states "the ticket holder will not transmit or aid in transmitting any picture, account or description (whether text, data or visual) in any media now or hereafter existing of all or any part of the football game or related events." Does this mean that I can't take pictures of the pre-game stuff outside of the stadium, or tell anyone about that great play that I saw?

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As an aside, I am more worried about morality in these actions, rather than what the law says

First, if Peer-to-peer and file sharing is theft and wrong, then where does tape and record copying stand? That went on for years and no one cared enough to sue over it. Are the actions inherently different or are they the same?

They amount to the same thing. Copying a tape for someone else would amount to stealing, because person 2 got a copy of a tape they didn't pay for, so the provider of the tape got no royalties. It wasn't pursued, because tracking it was impossible, but its still stealing.

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On the first question, I agree with Greebo. I think that the same moral principle applies to both technologies, old and new. I would add that in addition to the tracking possibilities Greebo mentioned, there is another technological difference between tape/record copying and file-sharing copying in terms of the ease and cost of making quality copies. The newer technology allows for easier and greater damage to the copyright owner’s market than tape/record copying. The differences are technological, not moral.

Regarding the first part of the second question, I do not know what you mean by "the pre-game stuff outside of the stadium," but some of that may be subject of copyright, in which case there could be an issue.

Regarding the second part of the second question, under U.S. copyright law: “Copies” are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. (There are some legal differences regarding the treatment of "phonorecords.") This means that a verbal recounting of a great play would not be considered a "copy."

Edited by Old Toad
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Thanks for the input!

The pre-game stuff is the tail-gating outside of the stadium which I thought would fall under "related-events."

Following part of Greebo's response, how does the government track torrent downloads and the like?

And how does the copying of a program which a person would not buy if they could not get it for free hurt the creator of the program?

Just a few more quick questions I thought of:

If the author of a work is dead, but the work is copyrighted by a company, the copyright can't be argued to be protecting the author, can it?

And finally, if a company offers a program as a trial, is it an infringement of copyright for another person to download the trial and offer it on a torrent site so that it is easier and faster to download the trial?

Edited by Shinokamen
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how does the government track torrent downloads and the like?

Download a violating torrent file. Connect to the tracker. Record IPs of seeders. Report IPs. At least that's one way.

And how does the copying of a program which a person would not buy if they could not get it for free hurt the creator of the program?

The product was created and released under certain conditions. One of those conditions being "Not making unauthorized duplicates." That condition has been violated. Without that condition, the creator may very well have not created or released that work in the first place. You're biting the hand that feeds you.

Please keep in mind that there are plenty of other Copyright threads on this forum.

Here are a few of those, but there are plenty of others to be found searching for "copyright":

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=3052

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=12258

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=10733

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=11237

If the author of a work is dead, but the work is copyrighted by a company, the copyright can't be argued to be protecting the author, can it?

It's protecting the author indirectly. Just as dying does not relinquish your physical goods to the public, neither does dying relinquish your intellectual goods to the public. If the author has chosen to leave the copyright to someone, the copyright remains, as the author's wishes.

And finally, if a company offers a program as a trial, is it an infringement of copyright for another person to download the trial and offer it on a torrent site so that it is easier and faster to download the trial?

It depends on the condition of the released trial. Some companies will explicitly state that they retain exclusive rights for distribution of the trial program. If that is the case, then distributing it is a violation. However, the vast majority of the time, companies WANT others to distribute trial software for the purposes of getting their software out there...indeed that is the whole nature of Shareware, and medium by which the games Doom and Wolfenstein 3D became huge.

Edited by Chops
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The pre-game stuff is the tail-gating outside of the stadium which I thought would fall under "related-events."

I should think not. Tail-gate parties are private affairs, even if held in someone else's property. By related events I suppose they mean pre-game shows, if any, official NFL activities outside the stadium, if any, the hafltime show, etc.

[And finally, if a company offers a program as a trial, is it an infringement of copyright for another person to download the trial and offer it on a torrent site so that it is easier and faster to download the trial?

It depends on the terms of the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) which no one ever bothers to read. Some developers may allow their trial software to be distributed freely, tohers may not. If you ever downlaod free game content from a website (the Sims is a popular one), the person who did it will usually include a read.me file stating how or whether his content can be distributed.

Shareware can usually be freely distributed, since it relies on other safeguards. Freeware usually can be distributed in any way, since the developer chooses not to charge for it

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So, downloading the adobe trial software through a torrent would not be copyright infringement?

And do copyright laws prevent you from downloading something that is copyrighted, or just making copies of it (Seeding)?

Edited by Shinokamen
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So, downloading the adobe trial software through a torrent would not be copyright infringement?

I should think not. i mean, I'd be more comfortable knowing adobe allows that kind of distribution, but trial sotware is free and easy to obtain. If you won't hack it, steal a license, etc, I don't see the harm.

And do copyright laws prevent you from downloading something that is copyrighted, or just making copies of it (Seeding)?

Both, unless the author allows his work to be downloaded.

For example, you can legally download music from sites like iTunes. But getting Britney's latest from P2P like Kazaa or Limewire is illegal. Record comanies tend to go after people who offer files for download more than tehy do after those who amke the downlaods, the former being easier to identify and to obtain evidence against.

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Thanks for clearing up my confusion!

Where do you guys stand on games (in the form of roms) or albums which are no longer in print? If the copyright owner does not wish to make any money on the games, would they seek reparations for the copying of the games?

It seems to me that programs should be patented not copyrighted, as they are tools; you wouldn't copyright a shovel or a drill bit or a computer, would you?

After a quick search on google, I found that you can download limewire pro with a torrent and steal the program that allows you to steal music. Ironic, huh?

Edited by Shinokamen
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Where do you guys stand on games (in the form of roms) or albums which are no longer in print? If the copyright owner does not wish to make any money on the games, would they seek reparations for the copying of the games?

It's unfortunate that some games are lost on things like this. Even still, unless the product has been released to the public domain, or other free license, it's not right to duplicate. Conveniently, some companies do offer their legacy games for free, ROMs and whatnot (the old "Cinemaware" does this), while others are lame about it (Amiga is lame about their old "Kick Start" disks which are required to boot an Amiga, despite the fact that those machines are 20 years old and no one uses them anymore).

It seems to me that programs should be patented not copyrighted, as they are tools; you wouldn't copyright a shovel or a drill bit or a computer, would you?

Software patents are much broader, and can be troublesome. In particular, they tend to mean that reverse engineering software becomes almost impossible. The most infamous software patent is, of course, Amazon's "One Click" patent, whereby they've managed to get patented the idea of having a single click perform the same actions as "Add to Cart, Enter Credit card Info, and Purchase." While many would argue that this is too obvious to be patented, but it has been, and furthermore, it has been upheld in court.

This is an unfortunate example of something being patented, that really should be limited to copyright. Copyright would protect the specific implementation (that is, the code), while the patent in it's form protects the idea itself. If I were to write my own "One Click" program from scratch (having never seen the code for "One Click" myself), I would still be in patent violation. That's a problem. It's protecting the outcome, and not the implementation.

To parallel with physical things. If you were to invent and patent a kind of oil drill, I could invent my own kind of oil drill with a completely separate mechanism. However, with the way "One Click" is patented, it would be illegal for me to design my own kind of oil drill from scratch, because they've patented "the process by which oil is extracted from the Earth by means of a drill."

The copyright protects the form of the work, the actual creation, and the code that powers it. This is why programs like "OpenOffice" are not violating copyright despite the fact that their interface is very much like (the non-2007) Microsoft Office. The OpenOffice team has built an office clone from scratch, and are in no way violating the implementation itself.

This is a good read on "The Case Against Software Patents"

After a quick search on google, I found that you can download limewire pro with a torrent and steal the program that allows you to steal music. Ironic, huh?

I wonder what the Limewire people think about that. At the same time, however, there are perfectly legitimate files available on P2P networks - music that artists are distributing free (such as video game music remixes) and independent music.

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Where do you guys stand on games (in the form of roms) or albums which are no longer in print? If the copyright owner does not wish to make any money on the games, would they seek reparations for the copying of the games?

The answer to the second question is "possibly". They might not want to make money on the games now, but maybe they will want to later, with some form of re-release (which has happened a lot with the Nintendo DS, for example).

You can usually find games on Ebay, so if you're asking about who's getting economically "hurt", well that would be the people who obtained their game honestly and now wish to sell it. But there's a bigger point.

The whole file sharing culture trains people for property collectivism, practicing the premise that if it's out there, everyone should have a piece for free. No need to worry about giving anything in return, asking permission, or being patient.

It's the same thing that separates spoiled people from normal people, growing up. Spoiled people expect their desires to be met immediately, without question, and without having to give anything in return. P2P sharing trains people for this mentality.

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Where do you guys stand on games (in the form of roms) or albums which are no longer in print? If the copyright owner does not wish to make any money on the games, would they seek reparations for the copying of the games?

Games are works as complex as movies, sometimes as complex as novels. Games have characters, settings, weapons, tools, abilities, skills, music, effects, etc etc. Any which are unique to a game, even the old DOS and Apple ][ games, remain potentially valuable regarldess of whether the game sells or not.

As there are fads and fashions in games, and as people do prefer new things to old rethreads, it's a bit rare to see old games recycled. Even so, now and then someone comes up with new versions of Pac-man, Space Invaders, Jumpman, Zork, etc. And believe it or not some merchandise related to the old games still sells a bit.

The bottom line is the copyright holders of "abandonware" do gold a potentially valuable commodity. Not a likely valuable one, I'll agree, but the potential si there. If they want to make their old games public domain, that's their choice. If not, that's their choice too.

As for albums, or for that matter books, no longer in print, you can always find second-hand copies. I do most of my book shopping at powells.com, which mostly sells second-hand books. Books tend to be re-released more often than albums, or movies, but the latter do get re-realeased from time to time.

The fact that no money is amde now does not mean no money is to be made ever. And songs do make money through ring-tone sales. Some make money when they're used in commercials, or in movies, or in TV shows.

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