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Morality and downloading
Morality and downloading
I'm curious about the moral arguments for and against downloading-- specifically for downloading games, images/data and applications for free when the creating company intended for all users to make a purchase.  I don't care so much whether it's right or wrong-- but on what basis the moral arguments are to be made.

For example, how does the concept of social contract apply here?  How are "right" and "wrong" defined in terms of data?

It seems to me that very many people do download things, and with a clean conscience, because they don't believe that any social contract exists, and that downloading is therefore a-moral rather than immoral.  Ideas?

(And please don't just shout "Downloading is stealing!"  I'm looking for a moral framework in which decisions can sensibly be made)
RE: Morality and downloading
The infrastructure for streaming video in this country here is so wilfully bad that all people in charge deserve a kick in the face. I'd gladly pay a few bucks for renting movies online (and I regularly do), but the video services that are available not only have a pitiful selection, they also take movies in and out of it seemingly randomly, probably whenever they think they'd like to sell more BlueRays. Whenever I try to obtain a film legally and after half an hour still fail to do so unless I'd be willing to start up my car and go halfway across the city, I usually say fuck you and download it.

I buy all music I deem worth listening to.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

RE: Morality and downloading
It depends, of course.

I buy all of the software I use (everything that isn't freeware, that is).  I don't download music.

Any video that I download is limited to productions that I'm entitled to watch (i.e. I don't see a moral issue with downloading episodes of "Game of Thrones", because I pay for a subscription to HBO).  It's legal to use a VCR / DVD or other recording device to time/place/format shift a video recording for personal use.  If it's legal for me to do so, and it's legal for me to possess and use a recording, then I see no problem with downloading something I'm already legally entitled to view (and record, should I feel like it).

The media producers may disagree, but they can fuck themselves.
RE: Morality and downloading
I look at it this way: if I were to create something, even if that something ends up as a bunch of 1's and 0's, with the intent of selling it, and you take it without paying for it, that's stealing.

I think it's wrong, but I still occasionally do it. I sample music before I buy, for sure. I still like to have a physical copy of all my music, thanks to the 90's. Tv shows occasionally. I have gotten some pay android apps and themes this way, as well.

I do agree, however, that there needs to be some compromise on both sides. People are going to pirate content. Sorry. It's just going to happen. I would venture to say that most people 30 and younger know how and/or have done it. Content is so ubiquitous that the old price structure is ridiculous, and drives the pirating movement. There is no dearth of content, and yet we are paying for it like it isn't available literally everywhere. One thing's for certain---major labels, the MPAA, and the RIAA need to be gone, and quick. Artists need to go direct to consumer, and cut out the middle man.
"There remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking." ~Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great

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RE: Morality and downloading
I used to download, but no longer do for music and movies. I might download an episode of a show I am watching if the DVR messes up, but that's it.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
RE: Morality and downloading
(April 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm)Cthulhu Dreaming Wrote: The media producers may disagree, but they can fuck themselves.

Not picking on you, CD. I happen to understand and agree with the sentiment. But, I think the media producers have a valid argument with someone downloading content using non-standard channels even if they have the right to it. Most of the non-standard channels require some form of sharing. If you're downloading, even if you remove the media from the system immediately upon completion, you've been sharing it as well. I have little sympathy for the MPAA, RIAA or any of the labels or studios involved in propping up a broken business model, but sharing willy-nilly on the internet is not a good solution.

The media producers need to come to grips with the fact that their business model is broken. Provide a better product (or at least one as good) as the pirate sites and most people will gladly pay for the service. The music industry is starting to come around (Pandora, Spotify, etc...) but the TV/movie industry is seriously lagging, dragging their feet and bitching about lost sales as if every single download represents a lost sale (it doesn't).

I think the biggest problem is the way shit is so fragmented. If I want to watch some recent movies, I can hit Netflix. If I want to watch "The Walking Dead" I can hit a variety of different sites, but only the first four seasons. If I want to watch the fifth season, currently I'll have to buy it on DVD/Bluray. If I want to watch "Orphan Black" I can only watch it through the authorized cable/satellite company web-sites, etc...

Give us one place where we can watch whatever the fuck we want and people will pay for that, just like they pay for Pandora and Spotify.

Then you get content that's bound to a particular type of player in a very misguided attempt to force customers to remain with a particular vendor. Nook (Barnes and Noble) and Kindle (amazon) are the two biggest remaining content providers that do this. Fuck 'em both. If I buy a Nook (I did) and I find out it's shit (it is) why the fuck should I be required to buy another to read the books I fucking purchased? And, why the fuck can't I pass along a book I don't like to someone who might. It's not breaking any laws to do so with print media and there are several ways to securely do it with digital media, but because it's digital, it's illegal. Fuck that noise!
Thief and assassin for hire. Member in good standing of the Rogues Guild.
RE: Morality and downloading
(April 13, 2015 at 5:34 pm)bennyboy Wrote: It seems to me that very many people do download things, and with a clean conscience, because they don't believe that any social contract exists, and that downloading is therefore a-moral rather than immoral.  Ideas?

A-moral, perhaps not. Just not so immoral that people give a shit. Let's face it. The vast majority of companies and people that are being "stolen" from when people pirate are so far above the average person in terms of wealth that people just don't give a fuck, and considering so many people do it anyway it lessens the overall feeling of guilt associated with breaking the law or stealing. 

I'm of the opinion that calling it stealing is questionable at best anyway. For me, it's not the same as walking into a store and and taking a disc off a shelf, then walking out with it. It's not the same as stealing a car for instance. You aren't able to make multiple copies of the same car instantaneously. I think the comparison many people draw with traditional "stealing" and piracy online is not a fair one in the slightest. They're two completely different things IMHO. 

Then there's the issue of whether it even affects sales, or even improves sales in certain cases. Minecraft and Game of Thrones are good examples of how piracy can actually benefit companies. Ofcourse there's examples where it's the opposite, but frankly, it all just adds to the murky waters of whether people are actually doing much wrong anyway. Because even in instances where it can be bad for companies, there's instances where piracy doesn't do shit to companies sales. When someone pirates a song, or a movie, there's not a lost transaction. Despite what people think you can't say "this guy would of otherwise bought said song or movie". It's impossible to really adequately assess the level of damage, if any, that piracy has on these mega corporations.

With all that in mind, I think for many people piracy is such a minor thing that they just don't really care that much. It may well be immoral, it's obviously breaking the law. But it's kind of like jaywalking in terms of the level of offence many people consider it. While people know it's against the law, they know the chances of them actually being caught and 'told off' for doing it are incredibly small, and it's also similar in the sense that many people don't think it's that much of an offence in the first place.

My 2 cents.
RE: Morality and downloading
Benny, the moral framework is stealing.  So, why is stealing wrong?  As with most things we view as immoral as opposed to amoral, the framework is 'Do as ye would be done by':  I don't steal because I don't like being stolen from.

If someone creates a data construct (digital music, video, whatever) with the express, explicit intent of selling it for money, they are engaging in the social contract upon which we've all agreed (people who decline to believe in the social contract have every right to find a deserted island somewhere and set up shop on their own).  There simply isn't a moral justification for taking it without paying.  There is no moral difference between hiding a game disc under your coat and scurrying out of the shop and downloading it without paying (although, I am prepared to listen to arguments that there is an economic difference).

Simply because a creation is not a physical object doesn't make it fair game for theft - property is property.  We punish car thieves and shoplifters because they have committed the moral transgression of theft.  Lifting intellectual property is no less immoral.

‘Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson
RE: Morality and downloading
Download that free shit. I do not care, and I do not view it as stealing.
“The man who can't visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.”
~ André Breton
RE: Morality and downloading
(April 13, 2015 at 7:10 pm)Sionnach Wrote: Download that free shit.   I do not care, and I do not view it as stealing.

If you download something that's intended to be free (open source software, for example), then it obviously isn't stealing.  If you download something which the owner intended to sell, you're stealing, because you're taking something that doesn't belong to you.

‘Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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