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Downloading otherwise inaccessable material

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I understand why it is immoral to illegally download music, movies, and the like. But is it immoral to download something that you could never otherwise see, such as a television show from another country that's years old and is incredibly unlikely to ever be released in the U.S.?

If it is clear that it's not gonna be released in the US, nor is it available in any other way, then it's not immoral. You're not depriving anyone of anything.

Intellectual property rights are not a primary, they are the tool which allows people who created the TV shows to reap the fruits of their work. If such benefiting is (absolutely) not an issue, then talk of intellectual property rights is meaningless.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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The most prominent problem I see here is the evaluation of whether such benefiting is "absolutely not an issue". I have been searching for a certain CD for a decade, being annoyed that the manufacturer let it go out of print and wasn't actively distributing the goods. I was finally able to obtain a legal (used) copy, but it cost me three times what ordinary CDs cost. Well now it turns out that the company had in mind to re-release some of that material, for money.

I also have insist that "released in the US" is an inappropriate standard. My book was not "released" in India until 5 years after the initial publication, but it was obtainable -- at a (non-trivial) price -- by anyone anywhere. Theft of the book by someone in India is thus depriving me of the just benefits of what I produced. The excuse "but it would be very expensive" is obviously invalid. The fact that some work is old, or that it is foreign, does not mean that it is impossible for you to obtain it legally: it means that you may have to exert more effort to obtain that value. Added inconvenience to you does not negate the creator's property rights.

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Here's an interesting wrinkle I wonder about. Some artists actually encourage you to download older versions of their work or tracks that were never actually released on an album (Evanescence, I believe, has said as much regarding their pre-Fallen work). However, artists, especially major artists, frequently sign contracts with record labels such that their work is no longer wholly theirs. If an artist says publicly (for example in an interview, or on a blog) that you ought to download older/unreleased work, can you be certain that they really have the ability to authorize that and that the record company won't show up and say something along the lines of, "Hey, that's OUR work now, bitch?"

I think it's a little twisted when the original artists no longer have the right of disposal of their work, but I think that's what most record deals are like these days.

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I think it's a little twisted when the original artists no longer have the right of disposal of their work, but I think that's what most record deals are like these days.
I suspect that "these days" extends back a century.

So I'm curious, what about it do you find "twisted"? I find it to be completely normal: the company takes a risk in promoting hundreds of idiots whose music doesn't sell, and they get lucky with one group who they get rich off of (for the duration of the contract). From a business perspective, you want the right to snag anything good, just in case you've discovered The Beatles 2.0. If your band is clearly destined for greatness then you might insist that the contract be just for the one specific album, but usually, new bands are not in a very strong negotiating position.

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I suspect that "these days" extends back a century.

So I'm curious, what about it do you find "twisted"? I find it to be completely normal: the company takes a risk in promoting hundreds of idiots whose music doesn't sell, and they get lucky with one group who they get rich off of (for the duration of the contract). From a business perspective, you want the right to snag anything good, just in case you've discovered The Beatles 2.0. If your band is clearly destined for greatness then you might insist that the contract be just for the one specific album, but usually, new bands are not in a very strong negotiating position.

I find the record industry as a whole slimy and loathsome, and I hate to see control of work out of the hands of its original creators. It's true that a lot of times, new bands are not in a position to negotiate for, say, retaining copyright and such over their music, because you're right, they are kind of over a barrel.

I like the fact that music seems to be going in the direction of self-promotion, largely because of the internet. New artists can take their music directly to the fans and don't have to rely on corporate marketing to find a broader audience. Recently, a new band called We Are The Fallen did this, releasing a little bit of their music online at a time and letting people download it. They did get signed and put out a full album shortly thereafter, and they probably generated more buzz about themselves because they were able to self-promote first (although they also had an advantage because they have some former Evanescence band members and now there's the whole Evanescence/We Are The Fallen feud to generate additional press). I'm not necessarily saying We Are The Fallen is any good...I'm still trying to figure out if I like their music or not. But I think their example is a good one of how musicians can get their own ball rolling and cut the record companies out in the early stages so that when they DO get a deal, they have a proven following and are in a stronger position to negotiate.

I'm not sure that what record execs do is necessarily illegal (not since the 60s anyhow when they were definitely defrauding artists of their work), but in general I just think record label execs are abusive to real artists and push moronic crap on the public. If I hear one more song with "Random Hood Rat" featuring "Random Bling Ho" and the guy's singing with an autotuner it'll make ME wanna "pop a cap in dat azz".

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I find the record industry as a whole slimy and loathsome, and I hate to see control of work out of the hands of its original creators. It's true that a lot of times, new bands are not in a position to negotiate for, say, retaining copyright and such over their music, because you're right, they are kind of over a barrel.

Yes, the record industry is a bit scummy, but if you mean this to justify downloading music for free, then this is a rationalization - new bands are always in a position to retain copyright. They don't have to take the first deal they're offered.

That they act stupidly is not justification to steal from those to whom they grant the rights to their work.

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Yes, the record industry is a bit scummy, but if you mean this to justify downloading music for free, then this is a rationalization - new bands are always in a position to retain copyright. They don't have to take the first deal they're offered.

That they act stupidly is not justification to steal from those to whom they grant the rights to their work.

Sounds about right. The appropriate response to scummy record companies is just not to buy from them. It might still be difficult to distinguish whether an artist has retained control over their tracks (thus having the right to say "yes go ahead please download these old demos, etc."

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Intellectual property rights are not a primary, they are the tool which allows people who created the TV shows to reap the fruits of their work. If such benefiting is (absolutely) not an issue, then talk of intellectual property rights is meaningless.

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I find this argument interesting. The principle of property rights is formulated so that whatever a person produces is his, independent of anyone else's appraisal of its value or benefit. One's purposes, goals, tastes, and existential context contribute to the desirability, the valuation, the fact of and the degree of benefit of what one produces. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

When the violation of property rights is defended because someone has decided the creator cannot obtain any benefit from his product, principles are being broken in favor of someone's presumed omniscience as to what the inventor/creator might presently, or in any future scenario, find of use in his own product. Whatever the poster's purposes, this argument is an attack on principles per se.

Mindy

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I presumed knowledge, not omniscience. Your error lies in using the two interchangeably.

You are right, you didn't use the word. I used it because you claimed to possess it. You did that when you said you could know what another man's considerations could and could not extend to. You claimed, for your convenience, what another man's thought must be.

Mindy

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I presumed knowledge, not omniscience. Your error lies in using the two interchangeably.

Perhaps it would help if you specified what information you would take as sufficient to establish that some downloadable material clearly will not ever be released in a way that the creator could profit from its distribution.

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You are right, you didn't use the word. I used it because you claimed to possess it. You did that when you said you could know what another man's considerations could and could not extend to. You claimed, for your convenience, what another man's thought must be.
In his statement "If it is clear that it's not gonna be released in the US, nor is it available in any other way, then it's not immoral", the word "if" is a word of logic which serves to identify a relationship between propositions. Identifying logical relationships between propositions is what it means to be "doing philosophy", and it is not the same as "claiming the truth of an antecedent". Twice in one day: shame!
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