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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 EricMartello on 12/29/2011 9:54:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't see why people care about the semantics. When you read internet piracy, the implication is understood. The term originally referred to only sea pillaging. You may as well complain that these people aren't on boats swigging rum.


You just showed exactly why semantics matter. You've only heard about it being called piracy when in fact it is not, so you've subliminally accepted that "file sharing = piracy" even if you didn't notice it. Re-read what you wrote from an objective point of view and tell me you don't see the bias in your statements.

quote:
While I agree that each share isn't necessarily a lost sale, how exactly do you expect people to "prove" that shares would've been sales? Mind reading?


This is an idiotic statistic they invented so they could overstate a problem and make false claims about its "damaging" effects. There is no such thing as a lost sale; best case scenario they lost a potential customer.

Losing a potential customer means that potential customer did not see a value in the product/service being offered that justifies the asking price, or warrants a price at all.

What if I were to put price tags on rocks and try to sell them? I doubt anyone is going to buy them...how about I then turn around and start claiming PIRACY because people line their gardens with rocks and stones they found in the woods instead of paying me for mine?

quote:
The best they could ever hope for is a correlation, which still wouldn't be proof. On the other hand there are people actively distributing and using these files. You claim these corporations evil for focusing on money, yet your only argument for the sharing and downloading is that it doesn't appear hurt their bottom line. Is it really a moral high ground to freely use software/enjoy media that was intended to be purchased?


If it can't be proven one way or the other it has no place being brought in front of a legal system for any type of consideration, but I have already stated a reasonable solution in my other post.

Oh and about your last question - it is entirely beneficial to the publisher of software, music, video or whatever to have as many users using the work as possible. This gives them an established base of captive users which can then be marketed to. It also means that your product gains market share and that is a form of power in itself.


RE: How you say it...
By someguy123 on 12/30/2011 6:54:12 PM , Rating: 2
where? I completely agreed that the only means of data would be correlative, which is never proof. i don't see how this equates into "internet piracy is stealing". the only thing I asked was how you would prove such a thing as intangible as intent to purchase.

Also, it may be beneficial, but the developer/producer clearly did not wish for their product to be advertised in such a manner. Isn't it their right to charge and distribute their product the way they intend? The public is only entitled to as much as the producer, which is nothing. If you aren't interested in purchasing, and they aren't interested in giving freely, it's perfectly within both of your rights to watch the product crumble. Like I said, there's no moral superiority here. Nobody should have the power to be big brother, regardless of wealth or status.


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 12/31/2011 8:39:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
where? I completely agreed that the only means of data would be correlative, which is never proof. i don't see how this equates into "internet piracy is stealing". the only thing I asked was how you would prove such a thing as intangible as intent to purchase.


It is IMPOSSIBLE to prove an intent to purchase and I'm not even sure why you're bringing that up. The corporate interests often throw around inflated, unsubstantiated numbers claiming that every download is a lost sale. There is no correlation - it is entirely conjecture and delusion.

quote:
Also, it may be beneficial, but the developer/producer clearly did not wish for their product to be advertised in such a manner. Isn't it their right to charge and distribute their product the way they intend?


Let's say you buy a car, but the manufacturer of the car requires that you pay an additional "convenience fee" to drive it above 40 MPH because that is their wish. Do you think that a manufacturer should have such a "right" and do you think that people would simply abide by it?

This is more of a social issue than anything else. If you make a creative work and put it out in front of the public, you are inevitably going to get people who share it. THAT IS A GOOD THING. If you do not like this, then you should not be in the business of producing creative works.

You are not going to change fundamental human behavior with laws and attempting to do so is a MISUSE of our legal system. The internet was a game-changer for "old media" and these obsolete institutions have been raking in a lot more money than they should have.

Because of the internet they have lost their stranglehold on the media market, and are now forced to either adjust their prices or be phased out. It's not the actual artists who are up-in-arms here, it is the labels...the middlemen.

quote:
The public is only entitled to as much as the producer, which is nothing. If you aren't interested in purchasing, and they aren't interested in giving freely, it's perfectly within both of your rights to watch the product crumble. Like I said, there's no moral superiority here. Nobody should have the power to be big brother, regardless of wealth or status.


A true artist, by virtue or nature, will want their works to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. That is pretty much a common thread. Morality is not even on the table; it's simple human nature. If people like something they're going to share it with other people who may also like it.

This is why I said before that FAIR USE laws need to be improved and expanded to limit copyright claims to provable infringements, such as someone attempting to republish a work under another name FOR PROFIT.


RE: How you say it...
By someguy123 on 1/2/2012 3:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is ZERO EVIDENCE to support any claims of financial OR property losses, so the word piracy - which implies THEFT - is wholly inappropriate.


Because you asked for it. How else do you prove losses in such a manner other than proving intent to buy? If a form of media sells 0 units, gets pirated 1000 times, it is still not proof of loss. You're essentially asking for something impossible. When creating media the costs are almost entirely in development rather than in disc. If you were to steal a disc they would also lose relatively little. It doesn't justify the practice.

And as I said, you're stepping on individual rights and playing big brother. "Artists should" "it's the right thing". These are decisions that exist for the creator, not rights to be dictated by sharers. There's really no way to spin this into a positive light. Explicit file sharing can only be justified as being impossible to regulate fairly. They can't regulate, therefore you believe you're entitled. You're essentially being as cutthroat as these money hungry business you seem to despise.


RE: How you say it...
By EricMartello on 1/2/2012 10:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because you asked for it. How else do you prove losses in such a manner other than proving intent to buy? If a form of media sells 0 units, gets pirated 1000 times, it is still not proof of loss. You're essentially asking for something impossible.


What you just stated above pretty much sums up the fact that no, the media companies are not losing anything when people choose to share media and therefore cannot claim that shared media is piracy or theft.

quote:
When creating media the costs are almost entirely in development rather than in disc. If you were to steal a disc they would also lose relatively little. It doesn't justify the practice.


Nobody who is SHARING is stealing anything, bro. Please stop talking like they're both the same thing.

a) I bought a disc and made copies for my friends to share it. Not stealing.

b) I went to the store and took the disc without paying for it. Stealing.

c) A friend of mine shared some MP3s online and I downloaded them. Not stealing.

You're failing to understand that simply creating something doesn't entitle you to be able to sell it. I can spend 10 years carving a block of wood into something I think is incredible, but it doesn't ENTITLE me to be able to sell it and profit. Sure, I can try...but there is no valid legal basis that says yes, someone MUST pay me for my carving because I spent so much time on it and I DESERVE something for it.

quote:
And as I said, you're stepping on individual rights and playing big brother. "Artists should" "it's the right thing". These are decisions that exist for the creator, not rights to be dictated by sharers. There's really no way to spin this into a positive light. Explicit file sharing can only be justified as being impossible to regulate fairly. They can't regulate, therefore you believe you're entitled. You're essentially being as cutthroat as these money hungry business you seem to despise.


No, I'm not. You're playing the same failed angle that fritzr did with baseless pseudo-legal claims. You, as the artist, can choose the medium for your art. If you choose digital then you can and should expect people to share it IF THEY LIKE IT. If you want to create something that cannot easily be shared then sculpt a statue or something. Nobody is FORCING the artists or creators to make their works publicly available or even to distribute them. They make that choice themselves.

You haven't spun this negatively; you're just reiterating my original point about news articles such as this one that erroneously referring to "file sharing" as as "piracy" or "theft", and thus brainwashing simple-minded people such as yourself.


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