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Do as we say, not as we do...

The U.S. House is currently debating the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), better known as SOPA.  As mentioned in our previous analysis, SOPA has the potential to create devastating harm to internet businesses, as it allows sites to be taken down if any user posts links to infringing content.  

For example, if a site's user policy explicitly forbid posting links to copyrighted material and one rogue user posted such content, the entire business could be effectively killed for however many weeks or days it took to remove the offending links and pass a complaint through the gears of bureaucracy.  The solution appears to be sort of like chopping your leg off to fight an ingrown toenail.

I. All Onboard the Congressional Pirates Train

Now a particularly ironic fact has come to light -- it appears that IP addresses belonging to the offices of members of Congress have been downloading content illegally via BitTorrent.

TorrentFreak used Hurricane Electric's handy list of assigned IP blocks (found here) to track down which IP addresses belong to the offices of members of Congress.  And lo and behold, when those addresses were compared to results on YouHaveDownloaded, a torrent tracking site, they yielded over 800 hits.

Now to put this in context YouHaveDownloaded tracks only a tiny portion of torrent traffic, so it appears that Congress -- even as they look to punish lesser mortals for file sharing -- are themselves gleefully committing a "smash and grab" as Vice President Joe Biden (D) once put it.

Much of the pirated materials appeared to be adult self-help or education books such as "Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High" and "How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want".
 
Pirates life
Argh, Congress knows how to pirate, apparently! [Image Source: Reuters]

A fair amount of useful software -- like Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 7 Ultimate Edition -- was also pirated.

But other pirated works appeared to be purely stolen for pleasure.  For example one individual within the halls of Congress downloaded a season of Sons of Anarchy, a TV show on News Corp.'s (NWS) FX channel.  Another download appeared to be more "adult" in nature -- "Gangland Cream Pie 21" (we're guessing that's not an educational baking special).

Cream Pie
Some Members of Congress or staffers appear to like the cream pie.  No, not this kind of cream pie. [Image Source: Food Network]

II. Editorial/Analysis: Should we be Surprised that Politicians are Hypocrites?

Is it surprising that the office of Congress are pirating even as they plot to chop the legs off of online business, further crippling the struggling U.S. economy, and raise taxes to further punitive punishments for filesharing that are already grossly disproportionate with offline offenses? Is it surprising that federal politicians or bureaucrats are pirating even as they plan to imprison Americans for streaming sports events, injecting even more Americans into the crowded penal system at a time when America imprisons more of its citizens than any nation in the world?

If Americans wants unbiased political representation -- human beings who truly wish the best for their well being -- why would they allow special interests to pay federal politicians' way into office?  Clearly you're the boss of who pays you, and when it comes to politicians, their boss isn't the American people.

Shepard Fairey says obey
Why question are glorious industry installed leaders? [Image Source: Shepard Fairey]

TorrentFreak should be congratulated though, for their excellent armchair gumshoe work.  They've previously exposed busted torrent traffic coming from IPs at the Department of Homeland Security and the RIAAat Hollywood studios; and at the French President's Palace.  (Has nobody ever heard of Tor?)

Is intellectual property protection important?  Of course.  These government pirates are just as much in the wrong as the members of the public, as they're ultimately stealing work, denying hard working software engineers, actors, musicians, etc. funds.

But at the end of the day that SOPA and its propents aren't engaging in some lofty moral stand, they're just looking to smack down the little guy with punitive punishments, even as the nation's economy lurches and as they or their aids merrily pirate away.

Source: TorrentFreak



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RE: How you say it...
By frozentundra123456 on 12/29/2011 5:58:57 PM , Rating: 4
You may be technically correct regarding the definition of the word. But "file sharing" is not the innocent activity that you imply it to be. Downloading material that you did not pay for still deprives the producer (musician, music studio, game studio, etc.) of revenue that they would have had if one had purchased the material. To me, although it may not fulful the definition of "piracy", it still has the same effect. It is just that you did not resell the item.

And it hurts not only the big companies but legitimate users who pay for the material. Do you know how sick I am of studios saying how they do not want to make PC games anymore because many more copies are "file shared" than are sold.

I am not defending the SOPA act. I think it is a disaster. But defending "file sharing" simply because you do not resell the item you "shared" seems to be rationalization of something illegal.


RE: How you say it...
By Reclaimer77 on 12/29/2011 6:16:15 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Downloading material that you did not pay for still deprives the producer (musician, music studio, game studio, etc.) of revenue that they would have had if one had purchased the material.


No it doesn't. The person who first ripped the media and uploaded it is doing that.


RE: How you say it...
By frozentundra123456 on 12/29/2011 7:14:05 PM , Rating: 3
no, the first person is the one who makes it possible for the others to download it without paying for it. The distributor is deprived of revenue at every step.

To spell it out: "A" obtains a digital item and posts it on a torrent. "B" obtains the item from the torrent. "B"
did not pay the distributor for the item he obtained. Therefore "B" deprived the distributor of the money he would have recieved if "B" had purchsed the item.


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 12/29/2011 9:40:06 PM , Rating: 3
A is the pirate
quote:
PIRACY, torts. By piracy is understood the plagiarisms of a book, engraving or other work, for which a copyright has been taken out. 2. When a piracy has been made of such a work, an injunction will be granted. 5 Ves. 709; 4 Ves. 681; 12 Ves. 270. Vide copyright. PIRATE. A sea robber, who, to enrich himself by subtlety or open force, setteth upon merchants and others trading by sea, despoiling them of their loading, and sometimes bereaving them of life and, sinking their ships; Ridley's View of the Civ. and Ecc. Law, part 2, c. 1, s. 8; or more generally one guilty of the crime of piracy. Merl. Repert. h. t. See, for the etymology of this word, Bac. Ab. Piracy


A makes the copy and offers it as a torrent. B plagiarises the torrent and keeps the resulting copy.

Both are pirates by definition


RE: How you say it...
By foolsgambit11 on 12/31/2011 7:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
Under that definition neither A or B is a pirate - plagiarism requires the plagiarizer to attempt to pass the work off as their own. Since both A and B acknowledge that the work was created by Warner Bros. (or whoever), they wouldn't meet that definition -- unless plagiarism had a different definition a hundred and fifty years ago.

I'm not denying that piracy is the term commonly used for all copyright infringement, nor am I advocating for the OP's position that the receiver of copyrighted work isn't pirating. Just pointing out that your legal definition doesn't match the modern usage. I'm assuming that printing unauthorized copies of a work fell under a different law.


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 1/3/2012 6:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Check a legal dictionary. You will find that plagiarise is the legal term for copy. That is the action of duplicating something.

The various laws, regulations and rules against using another's work without attribution will have additional restrictions, extensions and definitions for the rule explaining why certain forms of plagiarism are not covered and other things that are not covered by the legal definition are included in the "anti-/pro- plagiarism" law/regulation/rule/standard.

Making an unauthorized copy by any means is piracy by definition. Certain forms of piracy are legal by statute or court decision. Mostly these are the Fair Use exceptions.

P2P file sharing does NOT delete the original when a copy is made. Until that original is transferred to the new owner or deleted, then, unless the owner of the original had permission to allow copying, the downloader was committing an act of piracy.

Legally the uploader is considered a pirate for putting the original on the scanner, turning it on and then inviting the world to come, punch the Start button, and take home their own personal copy.

P2P file sharing is not necessarily piracy. The act of copying copyrighted material without permission by any means (cassette duplicator, VHS duplicator, Xerox copier, Limewire, Napster, microTorrent, BitTorrent, Kodak Instamatic) is piracy. The tools used have legitimate legal uses. These legal uses however do not modify the definition of piracy.

If you really want P2P in general to avoid following Napster into the dustbin of history, you should be defending the legal usage of the method. This tactic is why VHS is still legal after the dust has settled. VCRs are capable of and are used for video piracy. The campaign to promote the right to use one in a legal manner won the piracy battles in the 1970s ...

The Digital Compact Cassette which allowed CD quality recordings and lossless copying briefly scared the recording industry in the mid 90s. Lawsuits were started to ban this technology on piracy grounds, but credit is given to lack of sales for the failure of this format.

CDs were another round. CD-R disks were fought by the recording industry. It was the computer industry and computer users demanding backup media that saved the CD-R from following the digital cassette. The recording indutstry did get some small concessions, such as the royalties collected by several governments for the material the media could be used to store--if the buyer chose to use it that way rather than for personal records, backups and other usages that no royalty payments would be owed to the music industry for...still they are collected because you MIGHT copy that floppy.

Don't defend piracy. Do that and the louder you shout, the stronger your opponent's arguments become. Do defend the right to store files in a distributed manner that guards against loss in the same manner that RAID does. Stress the benefit to legal users and the damage to legal users if the method is banned.


RE: How you say it...
By Taft12 on 12/30/2011 9:35:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The distributor is deprived of revenue at every step.


Of course they are not and you know this is true.

It's been well-documented that almost no illegal copies would be paid for by the downloaders if free versions were not available.

There is no revenue deprivation (media conglomerates sure like quoting losses as if they are though!)


RE: How you say it...
By Motoman on 12/30/2011 12:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
As always this argument is a catastrophic failure.

Essentially NONE of the copies of anything that are pirated would have been paid for if not available in an illicit form.

There is close to $0 actual impact on content producers from this "piracy."

Take Photoshop for example. How many college kids that have downloaded a pirated copy of PS would have shelled out the money to buy it otherwise? Essentially none. They'd do without, or use something else that was free or cheap to begin with.

Any and all claims of $X "lost" to piracy are categorically utter BS.


RE: How you say it...
By Reclaimer77 on 12/30/2011 1:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
It might sound trite or like a bad excuse, but you're pretty much dead on.

I probably have about a thousand pirated DVD's. According to the studios and their lawyers, I owe them for damages from those "stolen" DVD's. But I can tell you there is no way in HELL I would have purchased a thousand DVD's if they weren't otherwise available for download. No way.


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 12/29/2011 9:00:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I am not defending the SOPA act. I think it is a disaster. But defending "file sharing" simply because you do not resell the item you "shared" seems to be rationalization of something illegal.


Ohhh...you drank their kool-aid...

Sharing media is not illegal and the attempts to make it sound like it is are only corporate propaganda machines at work.

The people sharing media have an interest in it. I won't be sharing any bieber songs...or any other pop songs because I don't listen to that crap...but the people who do, will likely be sharing it. Why do people share? Because they enjoy it and want other like-minded people to be able to enjoy it as well.

Also, you cannot prove that you are being "deprived" of a sale. Lack of sales does not constitute stealing; it simply means you have FAILED to provide a value proposition for a POTENTIAL customer. That is not a legal matter; that is a business 101 issue. The company is failing to convert POTENTIAL customers because they fail to provide a value that would warrant a sale.

Thinking you are ENTITLED to a sale does not magically make any "lost" sales some form of theft.

If you wanted to say your content is being stolen, it would mean that another person or company is trying to pass your creative work off as his/her own. THAT would be stealing because you are then being deprived of content that you created.

That all aside, the government is already far more involved in a CIVIL matter than it should be, and attempting to criminalize MEDIA SHARING is simply greedy corporations clawing at what was once a really nice arrangement for them.

Bottom line is this:

Fair Use needs to be expanded to encompass media sharing and block any copyright holder from abusing the legal system to hinder that which comes naturally to social creatures such as humans.

Fair use should include sharing media so long as the one sharing said media is not attempting to profit from it (directly or indirectly; example of indirect profit would be making ad revenue from a website that has "free downloads" of copyrighted works) or pass it along as a work of their own.

People sharing music are not "criminals" and simply calling file sharing "piracy" and deeming it as being illegal doesn't make it so.

There are such things as unjust laws and a lot of the greed-fueled copyright legislature is quite unjust. This leads into a huge problem with America's legal and political systems - the representatives for the people are no longer doing their job. Instead they are representing the interests of their largest campaign contributors.

Any laws passed by people acting in SELF INTEREST are laws that DO NOT need to be and SHOULD NOT be obeyed.


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 12/29/2011 9:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
Sharing media is legal
Sharing media containing material you are licensed to distribute is legal
Sharing media containing illegal copies or copies you are not licensed to distribute is piracy by legal definition.

quote:
PIRACY, torts. By piracy is understood the plagiarisms of a book, engraving or other work, for which a copyright has been taken out. 2. When a piracy has been made of such a work, an injunction will be granted. 5 Ves. 709; 4 Ves. 681; 12 Ves. 270. Vide copyright. PIRATE. A sea robber, who, to enrich himself by subtlety or open force, setteth upon merchants and others trading by sea, despoiling them of their loading, and sometimes bereaving them of life and, sinking their ships; Ridley's View of the Civ. and Ecc. Law, part 2, c. 1, s. 8; or more generally one guilty of the crime of piracy. Merl. Repert. h. t. See, for the etymology of this word, Bac. Ab. Piracy


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 12/29/2011 10:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sharing media containing illegal copies or copies you are not licensed to distribute is piracy by legal definition.


Distribution needs to be clarified as meaning "intent to sell". If you get busted for being in possession of crack "with intent to distribute" it means you planned to sell it, not give it away or simply relay it to someone else.

I never said that there should be zero protections for copyright holders, however people sharing media with other people simply to "spread the love" while not profiting from it directly or indirectly is NOT ILLEGAL.

So no, sharing media is not illegal by any definition.


RE: How you say it...
By Etsp on 12/29/2011 11:58:13 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Distribution needs to be clarified as meaning "intent to sell".
No. No it doesn't. There's a reason that the intent to distribute charge sticks to drug dealers. They don't have a "I wasn't planning on selling it, I was helping addicts with their habit by giving it away for free." defense.
Sharing licensed media is illegal, as it should be. But the fines for getting caught doing it are outrageous compared to real media piracy.


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 12/30/2011 6:40:21 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
No. No it doesn't. There's a reason that the intent to distribute charge sticks to drug dealers. They don't have a "I wasn't planning on selling it, I was helping addicts with their habit by giving it away for free." defense.


Yes, yes it does...and as far as drugs are concerned, who is the government to say what substances people can choose to inject or ingest? It's really none of their business what people do to themselves.

Sharing media is not piracy AND it is not illegal. It is "frowned upon". The basis for claiming it is illegal is simply evidence of how badly you've been brainwashed by the as5holes who keep reiterating sharing as being equal to piracy.

Before you know it, fritzr will be binging and googling at the same time just to make it seem like he has a clue what he's saying.

quote:
You will note that in the legal definition there is nothing said about distribution.

Plagiarising (legal term for copying a work) is sufficient to be defined as a pirate.


Oh good, I was waiting for you to bust out the dictionary in your attempt to add some substance to your posts...

quote:
A definition of 'distribution' from the Merriam Webster dictionary. You will note that payment is not required. Only the disbursement of the portions being distributed. However distribution is not piracy. It is an added charge that can be used to increase the penalty. As a distinct legal term it seems to only show up in inheritance law where it describes how the estate is given to the inheritors.


Again, SHARING IS NOT PIRACY | PLAGIARISM | THEFT. You need to shut up since you haven't even been able to justify that single point, and it nullifies everything else you've said on this topic.

File sharers do not really distribute so much as they make available for the taking. It's not like someone has a bag of gold, runs around giving people coins, i.e. distributing. More like the coins are in a big pile, accessible to anyone who wants to take some.

That all being said, the dictionary is not the final word on what the 'legal' definition of a word is. Convincing a jury that distributing something means selling something - it's quite doable if the context requires it.


RE: How you say it...
By Etsp on 12/30/2011 10:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
Sharing is not copying. P2P creates a copy of the media to share. Yes, you're allowed to lend your friends a music CD that you paid for. No, you're not allowed to burn a copy of it and give it to them.

I don't really understand why you think that just because it's easy to do, and you don't see the people it hurts, that that makes it moral. I don't understand why anyone who disagrees with you is "brainwashed".


RE: How you say it...
By Reclaimer77 on 12/30/2011 1:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sharing is not copying. P2P creates a copy of the media to share. Yes, you're allowed to lend your friends a music CD that you paid for. No, you're not allowed to burn a copy of it and give it to them.


Umm yeah that might have cut it 30 years ago. But there's this thing called the "digital age" that happened. You might want to look it up.

Back when I was a kid and tape recorders were all the rage, we would make recordings of our CD's and pass them around to our friends or whoever wanted to listen to one they didn't own. I guess we were all criminals even then? Come on. What's the difference between that and file sharing fundamentally? None.


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 12/31/2011 8:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sharing is not copying. P2P creates a copy of the media to share. Yes, you're allowed to lend your friends a music CD that you paid for. No, you're not allowed to burn a copy of it and give it to them.


Not allowed? Who's going to stop me from doing what people have been doing since there was media to share amongst themselves? It's like I said before, just because a song is shared online and is technically available to anyone on the net; it does not mean that everyone is going to download that song. People who are interested in that genre of music will find it, and they may share it with their friends who may or may not like it as well.

At no point in time is anyone illegally selling the song or other media...and in fact, if the people who were introduced to the music liked it they may purchase a CD from the musician or even attend a concert.

quote:
I don't really understand why you think that just because it's easy to do, and you don't see the people it hurts, that that makes it moral. I don't understand why anyone who disagrees with you is "brainwashed".


Sharing has always been easy to do. The only thing that the internet did was allow people to share with each other globally...it's not a bad thing. You are brainwashed because you have bought into corporate propaganda and "pseudo legal" claims that have no real substance.

File sharing is not theft, is not piracy and IS NOT illegal. Period.

Please, oh please, show me a link to some concrete evidence of people being "hurt" by FILE SHARING. I would love to see this...because even the FBI could not substantiate any claims relating to the claimed "damages". Maybe you'll 1UP the FBI and prove us all wrong...and while you're at it, why don't you go and explore how many companies went from zero to hero thanks to the massive market share they gained by having people share their software. You may have heard of this little old OS called Windows...


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 1/3/2012 7:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Please, oh please, show me a link to some concrete evidence of people being "hurt" by FILE SHARING. I would love to see this...because even the FBI could not substantiate any claims relating to the claimed "damages". Maybe you'll 1UP the FBI and prove us all wrong...and while you're at it, why don't you go and explore how many companies went from zero to hero thanks to the massive market share they gained by having people share their software. You may have heard of this little old OS called Windows...

You asked ... I oblige
http://www.mailsend-online.com/blog/?p=93

quote:
(Jim Lawless)Did piracy ever visibly affect your sales?

(Don French) Of course. Whenever it is possible to get free copies of software, people do. I found very little regard for the rights of software companies or programmers among the computer using public. I knew people who were leaders in their community, deans in the church and the like, and who were among the most honest upright citizens you could find anywhere. Yet they had no compunctions about making illegal copies of software. It is extremely rare to find someone who won't copy software if they can. Remember when shareware was really that? You could keep and use the program and were asked to pay for it if you like it, all on the honor system? I have spoken with a number of shareware authors who tried this and never got a dime from the thousands of downloads of their program. In fact, I tried this with Problematic. Thousands of downloads, not a dime of revenue. People won't pay if they don't have to. Almost no exceptions. Some Commodore journalist once told me that French Silk (the assembler) had a huge cult following on the East Coast. I was very surprised to hear that because by that time I had sold very few.

(Jim Lawless)Did you make transitions into computer markets other than the 8-bit Commodore line? ( Apple? Amiga? )

(Don French) No. As I said above, I got tired of the rat race and all the rats I had to deal with and just jumped ship in 1986.

File sharing cost this programmer thousands of dollars in lost sales & lost the user community the programs he might have written if the piracy had not been so widespread.

I suggest you look into the Microsoft attitude towards piracy...I get the impression they don't really appreciate the 'free' advertising that goes with eliminating the need for the enduser to pay the developer. I have heard of Windows...have you heard of WGA
http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/892130

By the way. The system that Don French wrote the assembler for is the best selling computer system in history. The company went under in the early 90s. New software is being written and released in 2011. By your reasoning that means Don shouldn't complain...right?


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 1/4/2012 2:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
.and while you're at it, why don't you go and explore how many companies went from zero to hero thanks to the massive market share they gained by having people share their software. You may have heard of this little old OS called Windows...

I think Microsoft may have heard of Windows also. I think you should contact them and let them know they are completely in the wrong for enforcing their rights as a copyright owner.
http://www.dailytech.com/Microsoft+Claims+Top+UK+R...


RE: How you say it...
By Fritzr on 12/30/2011 12:01:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
PIRACY, torts. By piracy is understood the plagiarisms of a book, engraving or other work, for which a copyright has been taken out.

You will note that in the legal definition there is nothing said about distribution.

Plagiarising (legal term for copying a work) is sufficient to be defined as a pirate.

A definition of 'distribution' from the Merriam Webster dictionary. You will note that payment is not required. Only the disbursement of the portions being distributed. However distribution is not piracy. It is an added charge that can be used to increase the penalty. As a distinct legal term it seems to only show up in inheritance law where it describes how the estate is given to the inheritors.
quote:
dis·tri·bu·tion (dstr-byshn)
n.
1. The act of distributing or the condition of being distributed; apportionment.
2. Something distributed; an allotment.
3. The act of dispersing or the condition of being dispersed; diffusion.
4.
a. The geographic occurrence or range of an organism.
b. The geographic occurrence or range of a custom, usage, or other feature.
5. Division into categories; classification.
6. The process of marketing and supplying goods, especially to retailers.
7. A spatial or temporal array of objects or events: the distribution of theaters on Broadway.
8. Law The division of an estate or property among rightful heirs.
9. Statistics A set of numbers and their frequency of occurrence collected from measurements over a statistical population.
10. Mathematics A generalized function used in the study of partial differential equations.


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