Logic’s Last Stand

February 24, 2008

Piracy – Morality and Rationale – Part 1

Filed under: Computers, Philosophy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Zurahn @ 8:08 am

Piracy is a big issue with the advent of the much clichéd Web 2.0. While there was for the longest time piracy related to computers, it seemed limited at first to computer software itself. Then it spread to music and videogames, then onto pretty much anything that could be digital.

Is it simply a matter of something being free? Is it convenience? A statement? More importantly, is it patently right or wrong? If I may be a little less than humble, I’d say in a description, you can summarize me into logical and ethical. Combine that with a serious dedication to computers, and I feel as though I’m in a good position to evaluate the ethical complications of piracy.

I’ll start with DVDs, that being, movie and television content sold as DVDs. Most are easily accessible off of bitTorrent. Let’s address the issues that lead to one choosing to download versus buy:
-It’s free
-There are no advertisements
-Can be done from home
-Easily transferrable

Saying it’s free is more complex than the notion of not paying. No price means no risk — is there something you want to see, but aren’t sure if it’s worth a purchase? Suddenly, you can see it without purchasing it. There’s also no risk of damaging the disc, or receiving a faulty disc. While this option theoretically exists on television, timing is frustrating unless you have one of those expensive and controversial TiVO recorders, and leads into the next section,

Similarly, we’ve been dragged through this idiotic HD format wars endlessly, and for what will cost the consumer approximately twice the cost of a normal DVD for slightly improved quality, the option is to those who download, immediately available the upgrade should the viewer wish.

There are no advertisements. Even in DVD movies, where you have paid to own the content, you still must endure several previews that the DVD really doesn’t want you skipping, along with the nice extended 3D animation of the producer’s logo, and obnoxious, spoiler-filled video footage that leads into and plays in the background of the main menu. DVDs have become obnoxious as a delivery system.

Nothing more than a computer, Internet connection and time is required to watch. No movie stores, no rental returns or late fees. Download-watch-delete. You could even stream in some cases, with no delay.

And related to computers, there’s little difficulty in transferring the contents of the DVD. What do I mean? Backups, alternative viewing means, portable players, making clips, whatever. You have full access to do as you wish.

There are means to get some of these things, such as NetFlix, but that may be limited by bandwidth, area, and simply what is offered. And still, does not provide full versatility.

If you’re under the age of 18 (varies by location), there is little to argue on the matter. In Ontario, at least, you cannot rent without a credit card. You cannot rent or buy movies in which you do not meet the age restriction. If you are, for example, 17, you would by the law that in the US so scorns upon downloading copywritten movies, you would not be allowed to buy or rent a movie rated R.

What is ultimately striking about the concept of downloads of DVDs is that there is a genuine advantage in all areas for the method that does not cost the consumer. Yes, the creator should retain rights to his content and be compensated; however, the means of distribution is clearly flawed and is hurting the ones who actually pay.

So far this will have come off as rather slanted. There are more methods for viewing what is available on DVD that simply the DVDs themselves, but evaluate those means, and there are complications. Telvision does not provide many methods for being selective in channels. You need to get a giant load of channels, which in the case of modern television, is a giant load of crap. It’s the equivalent of the obnoxious console bundles that require you to buy all the games the retailers know nobody wants, just to get the system. Nobody should support that kind of methodology. Remove that and suddenly you’re into PC options, which I will address in another part.

When one desires change, it must be shown in purchasing habits — however, there is little choice for the consumer in this regard. There are DVDs, and in that, DVDs are the same. DRM’s that prevent back-ups, and barring that, user-agreements that forebode viewing for anyone other than yourself, and certainly not on anything other than a DVD player, advertisements that cannot be skipped, and so forth. For most, it’s DVDs or torrents, and it seems as though torrents are making a serious claim.

Judgment: Low objectionability until the movie industry (and western governments) get their act together.



  1. Thanks for removing whatever small amount of guilt I had left :P.

    At most, I would be willing to pay an annual fee of about $20 to download ANYTHING I wanted. And I mean ANYTHING… any obscure book, song, or movie, which no provider is going to be able to do. I’d never pay a monthly fee, and certainly not $1 per song or anything like that.

    The massive amount of crap and item markup come from the industry entirely. One way to reduce prices would be for artists to sell their work online with no middle-man, or at least a free one. They’re already getting a ridiculously small portion from each sale anyway. For every $30 DVD you buy, the original maker probably gets $1-$2 I would imagine, similarly to how bad authors are ripped off in the publishing industry. They could easily sell their work online for $5 independantly. Of course this means that crap would never get bought…. which would be a good thing… crappy generic movies would no longer go into production as much.

    Make the movie and music form of Cafepress.com and I guarantee you can make millions.

    People will argue that it will make movies easier to steal… but let’s face it, if someone wants to pirate something they are going to do it.

    Comment by Yarcofin — February 24, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

  2. […] download, dvd, dvds, ethics, logic, morals, movies, mpaa, piracy, pirates, riaa, torrent) Piracy – Morality and Logic – Part 1 Piracy – Morality and Logic – Part […]

    Pingback by Piracy - Morality and Logic - Part 3 « Logic’s Last Stand — March 7, 2008 @ 8:58 am

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