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December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS" 
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Gaffer

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:53 am
Posts: 26
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Personally, I actually lie somewhere between Berardinelli and JamesKunz. I agree that copyright laws are horribly outdated and absolutely need to be changed, but, in the meantime, they are what they are, and not liking them is no excuse for trying to have your cake and eat it too.

I have very little sympathy for arguments like those made by Ragnarok. A movie rental costs less than a cheap lunch, even less if you have a Netflix subscription that you use regularly; in 90% of cases, there is nothing that could reasonably justify avoiding the legal option other than laziness or an inflated sense of entitlement.

I am under no delusion that Hollywood executives are anything other than money-grabbing, blood-sucking leeches, but JamesKunz is absolutely right. It's their prerogative to make movies; it's ours to choose whether or not to pay to see them. The "chicken or the egg" argument is a total smokescreen. This isn't the Soviet Union, folks. The state doesn't force you to watch these movies at gunpoint. There was no singular date on which the studio executives sat in an underground bunker and activated their mind-control ray, instantly changing the tastes of the modern consumer. If the quality of movies has changed, it's either because the spending habits of the moviegoer changed first or, alternatively, because they refused to change afterwards. Either way, the moviegoer had and still has a choice. I can't stand Twilight in any of its forms, but I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the starry-eyed hordes of teenager girl clones. If they're willing to spend truly ludicrous amounts of money on the books and movies (and t-shirts and bumper stickers and perfumes and dildos and DEAR GOD I WISH I WAS JOKING), then why wouldn't the executives take advantage of that?

On the other hand, Berardinelli has hit on something I've been talking about in my own private discourse for a long time: that the copyright system as it's conceived is based on a definition of property that simply doesn't reflect the nature of the technological world we live in. There's no marginal cost in duplicating a piece of information, and capitalism simply is unequipped in its present form to handle that. Though I personally couldn't tell you what it is, the real solution will probably require a far more flexible understanding of property and rights and be far more drastic than what Berardinelli suggests. However, I think his thinking is a step in the right direction.


Last edited by Hinotori on Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:14 pm
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Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
JamesKunz wrote:
Except, you know, for the fact that 95% of the DVDs released of films in the public domain are complete shit?
Illogical argument. What makes you think the shittiness of public domain works is caused by a lack of incentive as represented by copyright? Be sure your ducks aren't just in a row, but in the right order as well.

One popularly cited example of the effects of copyright on creativity is the composer Giuseppe Verdi. His earlier work was composed without the aegis of copyright protection. His later work, made under the auspices of brand-spanking-new copyright law, is almost universally acknowledged to be inferior, not to mention far less prolific.

By contrast, Beethoven--while very well compensated for his work--was not covered by copyright law.

There is reason to believe that, both in terms of culture and economy, copyright law is an impediment rather than a benefit. I have yet to see a really strong argument for copyright law that doesn't boil down to the same tendency to hoard scarce resources that leads big businesses into a state of oligopoly.

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Also, that's not the point of copyrights. Copyright law exists to protect intellectual property and the rights of authors.
Copyright law doesn't protect any rights that it doesn't also give. You're making it sound as if these rights are self-evident, and they're not. What you have to remember is that copyright doesn't only cover who has the right to buy and sell copies of whatever. It covers who has the right to determine how those copies get used, and that is the troublesome part.

One of the most relevant manifestations of James's argument about the outdatedness of copyright today is Internet mash-ups. These are, in themselves, a form of creativity and (arguably) art and entertainment. They are, under copyright law, illegal, while the harm they cause by existing is very unclear. In this context, copyright law represents the protection of monopolies over original material, held by the original owners.


Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:50 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:53 am
Posts: 26
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Ken wrote:
Illogical argument. What makes you think the shittiness of public domain works is caused by a lack of incentive as represented by copyright? Be sure your ducks aren't just in a row, but in the right order as well.


How is that in any way illogical? Why wouldn't a lack of ownership and legal protection of your own works be a significant disincentive? You may argue differently, but it's a reasonable theory and the simplest one.

Quote:
... By contrast, Beethoven--while very well compensated for his work--was not covered by copyright law.


While I'd hesitate to take any single historical example as convincing evidence either way, I find this one particularly irrelevant. Not only were they not contemporaries, they were very different types of composers. Beethoven only ever wrote one opera while Verdi's reputation rests almost entirely on his. It would be like comparing Steven Sondheim to Phil Spector. More importantly, the way that musicians were compensated in their time differs widely from today. Beethoven, for example, made much of his income through commissions and patronage, something that is not nearly as common today. I'm extremely skeptical as to what insight about copyrights one can gain by comparing apples and oranges over a century ago.

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There is reason to believe that, both in terms of culture and economy, copyright law is an impediment rather than a benefit. I have yet to see a really strong argument for copyright law that doesn't boil down to the same tendency to hoard scarce resources that leads big businesses into a state of oligopoly.


You're making an assertion that flies in the face of what is commonly held to be true by virtue of common sense. There's nothing wrong with that; I'm very interested in your position, and I might even sympathize with your arguments, but I don't think you can convincingly state that without actually providing your "reasons to believe."

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What you have to remember is that copyright doesn't only cover who has the right to buy and sell copies of whatever. It covers who has the right to determine how those copies get used, and that is the troublesome part.


Personally, I don't find this troublesome. If I was the author of a work, I would want say over how that material is used. As an admittedly extreme example, if I wrote a song and someone else made a publicly available mash-up with another song from Prussian Blue or any of a number of racist artists with hateful lyrics, you can bet I'd not only be offended, but I'd want the legal right to sue those works out of existence.

This goes back to that sense of entitlement that thoroughly gets under my skin. Work does not equal rights or ownership. If I come onto your property and make a garden out of your backyard, I'm still trespassing, no matter how nice the garden is or how much you benefit from it. I don't have any business to be there unless I'm allowed. Period.

P.S. ... Ah hell. It's already a massive wall of text, so I might as well throw something else out there. "And one more thing," as Columbo would say. I actually have to give the point to Ken regarding the legislative purpose of copyrights. The key phrase that JamesKunz missed in his quote of the law was, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." That is the stated purpose of the law, and that is what the Supreme Court has actually deliberated on in their court cases: whether or not copyrights contribute to artistic progress.

However, I don't agree with this priority. I feel, as JamesKunz does, I believe, that copyrights should protect the rights of authors, completely independent of whether or not this promotes artistic progress. I believe that this is just. It's worth noting, however, that I also believe that copyrights do encourage artistic progress by giving authors financial incentive to produce works. As I said earlier, we'd like to believe all artists are driven by a passion for their craft, but let's not underestimate the lure of the almighty dollar.


Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:58 pm
Profile
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
I must admit I use torrents...

I'm from Venezuela, a country where, even though we do have copyrights laws, nobody does anything to enforce them and piracy has taken over the business. You can find in any town here a street vendor selling you the "New Moon" bootleg, but try finding, say... an original copy of "Up".. good luck. The problem is that bootleggers often will sell ANYTHING no mather what quality the copy of the video is...and people will buy it.

Then, there's our local movie theathers... You can see most blockbusters here, But most movies take six months, a year and even more to arrive at movie theathers if they arrive at all. Usually when a movie premiers here, a bootleg copy has been floating around for quite awhile. Video Clubs? Blockbuster, wich was the last videostore chain surviving here, bailed out last year. and in the last store they closed they started to sell bootlegs too.

Needless to say I realizaed that if you can't beat the you can as well join them, and instead of purchasing a pirate copy or seeing a year old movie in a movie theather I use torrents... Whe a movie I really want to see is showing, I go, but most of the time I stick to the torrents

PD: My english is kinda rusty, so pardon any gaffs


Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:23 pm
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Hinotori wrote:
<Snipped for the sake of clarity>


First off, your analogy of trespassing on someone's lawn to do beautiful work isn't an apt one for this debate. We're not talking about trespassing on someone's lawn, we're talking about people not making as much money on a product that they are selling to the public.

That's all it comes down to: should the makers/distributors of a film be able to make total profits on it through the stringent enforcement of copyright laws? Should that always apply, even if the products are inferior most of the time? I just don't believe so- if product that appears on the market (like a film) is of poor quality, it should not be supported by people paying money for it, IMO.

I agree with Ken in that enforcement of copyright laws would create an environment in that people feel secure enough in their source of income that they wouldn't feel compelled to turn out a quality product. It happens all the time in other fields, such as the professional athlete who goes into a slump as soon as he gets a contract with a guaranteed salary.

Oh, and about your remark concerning "sense of entitlement": if by that you mean a customer's sense of entitlement to geting value for his/her money, then I would fall into that category happily. It's much better than being a sucker who throws money at any movie, no matter how much of a piece of shit it is. Unfortunately, I feel that many moviegoers fall into the latter category, which is why Hollywood continues to churn out mostly crap films.


Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:47 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:53 am
Posts: 26
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Ragnarok73 wrote:
First off, your analogy of trespassing on someone's lawn to do beautiful work isn't an apt one for this debate. We're not talking about trespassing on someone's lawn, we're talking about people not making as much money on a product that they are selling to the public.


The point was one of property. I believe art of any kind (even the dubious variety) belongs to its makers. If you don't agree with this, then we will simply have to agree to disagree because there will be no common ground.

Quote:
Oh, and about your remark concerning "sense of entitlement": if by that you mean a customer's sense of entitlement to geting value for his/her money, then I would fall into that category happily. It's much better than being a sucker who throws money at any movie, no matter how much of a piece of shit it is. Unfortunately, I feel that many moviegoers fall into the latter category, which is why Hollywood continues to churn out mostly crap films.


I thought I was pretty clear that the point here is not that you are obligated to watch "shit," but that if you choose to watch it, you should pay your dues. I don't watch movies that I feel have no merit. That's precisely why I read reviews like those of Berardinelli: so that I can make a responsible, informed decision with both my own money and my support. You seem to believe that you're entitled to watch inferior cinema for free. I'm sorry, but there is no argument for this that doesn't seem like a rationalization.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:00 am
Profile
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Hinotori wrote:
I have very little sympathy for arguments like those made by Ragnarok. A movie rental costs less than a cheap lunch, even less if you have a Netflix subscription that you use regularly; in 90% of cases, there is nothing that could reasonably justify avoiding the legal option other than laziness or an inflated sense of entitlement.


Please remember that this is true only for a few select countries. The latter post by Leonardo_Ordaz is a perfect counter example to your point.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:32 pm
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
If yours was a wall of text, mine is the Great Wall of China.
Hinotori wrote:
Ken wrote:
Illogical argument. What makes you think the shittiness of public domain works is caused by a lack of incentive as represented by copyright? Be sure your ducks aren't just in a row, but in the right order as well.


How is that in any way illogical? Why wouldn't a lack of ownership and legal protection of your own works be a significant disincentive? You may argue differently, but it's a reasonable theory and the simplest one.
Where's the proof? It's not illogical because it doesn't make hypothetical sense. It's illogical because it's based on assumptions that, as far as I've seen, have not been substantiated, and it appears to take for granted that artists could not thrive without copyright law.

Quote:
Beethoven, for example, made much of his income through commissions and patronage, something that is not nearly as common today.
If copyright law were not the most common business model--and, let's face it, that's essentially what it is--then perhaps commissions and patronage would not be so uncommon. And there is a certain level of analogy between the patronage of old and the corporate distribution contracts of today. Or yesterday, as is increasingly the case.

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There is reason to believe that, both in terms of culture and economy, copyright law is an impediment rather than a benefit. I have yet to see a really strong argument for copyright law that doesn't boil down to the same tendency to hoard scarce resources that leads big businesses into a state of oligopoly.
You're making an assertion that flies in the face of what is commonly held to be true by virtue of common sense.

There's nothing wrong with that; I'm very interested in your position, and I might even sympathize with your arguments, but I don't think you can convincingly state that without actually providing your "reasons to believe."
I will start by stating that it is not necessary to prove that copyright is an impediment rather than advantage, but that it is at the very least neutral, in order to make a case against it. An unnecessary law, particularly one that has dubious benefits to society and by which people are criminalized to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, is a bad law.

With that said, here are a few quibbles that I believe deserve consideration.

1. Culture is largely based on what came before. You can't build a house if there is no foundation first. The development of culture depends on the widespread availability of ideas and the freedom to use, update, change, and remix those ideas. Today, one manifestation of this is the mash-up, but it goes all the way back to... whenever it was that humans found the time to do stuff that didn't involve eating, screwing, or running for their lives.

In theory, the intellectual monopolies offered by copyright are antithetical to this sort of thing. In practice, it's even more troublesome. Copyright is becoming a sort of total ownership that typically extends beyond the lifespan of both the original authors and the original audiences of the works. Even accepting the argument that copyright gives the author an economic incentive, the sheer amount of power and longevity that copyright protection has at this point does not make sense. What cultural benefit is there in creative ownership by either corporations or the estate of the deceased? What economic incentive is there? Such an intellectual monopoly leaves little for future artists to build on.

2. Derivative works--"mash-ups"--are, themselves, a form of content generation and, by extension, culture. This form of art, which is of highly questionable harm, is criminalized by copyright law.

3. As movie lovers, we find that there is one fact of life that is inescapable today: corporate entities with large amounts of copyright ownership will crush smaller entities that do not. We could quite easily draw an uncomfortable correlation between the freedom allowed to the independent artist to express his ideas in a pure, inventive way, and the freedom of the blockbuster giant to muscle the independent artist out of the marketplace and the mind of the audience.

It's dead simple. When the law decides it will bestow a monetary incentive for producing works, you're going to get the kind of works that a monetary incentive would produce. And the producers of this schlock are going to use the power granted by this wealth to dominate the marketplace. You don't want to know how irritated I am that there are roughly a bajillion screens in my area showing Avatar, while A Serious Man has yet to be released here.

4. The first ever manifestation of copyright in history, as far as I can tell, was in England in 1557. An organization--not of original authors, but a market guild--was granted the exclusive right to print and publish books. Conveniently, this organization was sympathetic to the Queen's wishes, and thus, used its monopoly on the practice of book production to stifle whatever works the Queen didn't like. Yeah, that was way back when, but even in today's free society, control over many of the creative fields is becoming nearly as centralized. Just pick your favorite mass media conglomerate, which--I guarantee--produces nothing of value in and of itself, in spite of the many rights it holds.

5. Whenever a documentarian wishes to (for example) criticize a public figure, his ability to do so depends on how much he can pay for consent to use the footage of that figure. While fair use clauses technically enable a very limited use of materials for such purposes, insurance companies usually balk at the thought of legal reprisal from the criticized parties. Freedom depends on the exchange of ideas, and history is determined by who controls that exchange. Something to think about.

6. Government-given intellectual monopolies and economic incentives would appear to ensure the well-being of all artists and other content producers. However, perhaps predictably, the financial situation of these people has come to mirror the financial picture of the American population as whole. In other words, a small minority of producers (typically by association with the mass media conglomerates previously mentioned) receive an overwhelming majority of the incentive, while the majority see little or no advantage as the result of copyright law.

If the goal of copyright is to ensure fairness and equality in the income of artists, it has done a poor job. If the goal is to inspire artists to create, improve, and produce, it has done a laughable job. Consider the rather cynical point of view that working as a musician is only for those who have gotten lucky, who have made it, who have achieved the dream, et cetera.

7. A popular perceived culprit of copyright violation today is the practice of online filesharing. If copyright is the incentive for artists to create, then the violation of copyright would represent a removal of that incentive. While this is admittedly a simplified example, how many of the high-profile anti-piracy advocates have either stopped turning profits from their material or hung up their businesses outright? And while many are quick to condemn filesharing as an unauthorized use of copyrighted material, they are curiously hesitant to discuss the benefits of filesharing to an artistic endeavor. There is an increasingly common business model in which (for example) musicians allow free distribution of their music online, as promotion for their concert tours.

8. There is the simple fact that copyright protection is protection against the natural pressures of a free market place--in this case, the marketplace of ideas. It's a sort of protection that the government wouldn't dare give to any other sort of free enterprise. Anybody who received a passing score in grade school economics can probably see the problem in artificially granting advantages to a product that might otherwise have to attract patrons on its own merits. Again, I raise the example, very relevant to us here, of big blockbusters crowding smaller passion projects out of the theaters.

I hate to use the word "utopia," but the current copyright laws could be demolished and replaced by a more reasonable way of compensating the artist--one based on the most viable time in the artistic product's existence, and no longer. Think of it: more freedom in the market place, adequate compensation for artists, more freedom for all subsequent artists, no more criminalizing common people, no more grappling between estates and corporations over the right to a dead man's work, and so on.

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What you have to remember is that copyright doesn't only cover who has the right to buy and sell copies of whatever. It covers who has the right to determine how those copies get used, and that is the troublesome part.


Personally, I don't find this troublesome. If I was the author of a work, I would want say over how that material is used. As an admittedly extreme example, if I wrote a song and someone else made a publicly available mash-up with another song from Prussian Blue or any of a number of racist artists with hateful lyrics, you can bet I'd not only be offended, but I'd want the legal right to sue those works out of existence.
Why? Have you been harmed in some way? Perhaps you have been offended, but that's not the same thing. What are the rational grounds for pursuing litigation in this situation, based purely on their use of something you originally came up with?


Last edited by Ken on Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:16 pm
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Hmm... I seem to have exceeded the maximum allowed post length. Touche, Reelviews Forums... touche.
Quote:
This goes back to that sense of entitlement that thoroughly gets under my skin. Work does not equal rights or ownership. If I come onto your property and make a garden out of your backyard, I'm still trespassing, no matter how nice the garden is or how much you benefit from it. I don't have any business to be there unless I'm allowed. Period.
This is the central flaw in many arguments of this nature: no matter how hard people try to analogize the two, physical property and (so-called) intellectual property are not the same thing. Scarcity gives the idea of property a real meaning that is purposeful, useful, and easily understood. The idea of a scarce resource is that the property will lose its value or utility if it passes through the hands of many people, and for intangible things like information, ideas, or inventions, this is simply untrue.

Attempting to contextualize a non-scarce resource in terms designed for dealing with scarce resources is, at best, short-sighted, if not dishonest. At worst, it devalues the concept of ownership. It reduces it to the knee-jerk childhood response of "But it's MINE!" (A nebulous "sense of entitlement," if you will.)

In your specific proposed situation, there is a finite amount of my yard to go around. When somebody uses a portion of my yard, I no longer have that portion. It is quite obvious why I might want to keep you out of my yard, or, at the very least, put a stop to your gardening attempts until we've had some time to chat about your plans.

By contrast, if I make a painting of my backyard and make an image of it publicly available online, I can't see getting too bent out of shape if you Photoshop it into a picture of a garden on your blog--even if it's a garden adorned with Swastikas, flaming crosses, and other racist bric-a-brac. Sure, it might offend my sensibilities, but my painting's still right there in my house, untouched by your bizarre idea of a garden.

Quote:
However, I don't agree with this priority. I feel, as JamesKunz does, I believe, that copyrights should protect the rights of authors, completely independent of whether or not this promotes artistic progress. I believe that this is just. It's worth noting, however, that I also believe that copyrights do encourage artistic progress by giving authors financial incentive to produce works. As I said earlier, we'd like to believe all artists are driven by a passion for their craft, but let's not underestimate the lure of the almighty dollar.
I have to answer both of those assertions with "Why?" I don't care what you believe is just. I care what the thinking is that led you to that belief. And if you have evidence to suggest that copyright has improved the incentive for artists to produce more and higher quality work, I care about that, too.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:17 pm
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
ed_metal_head wrote:
Hinotori wrote:
I have very little sympathy for arguments like those made by Ragnarok. A movie rental costs less than a cheap lunch, even less if you have a Netflix subscription that you use regularly; in 90% of cases, there is nothing that could reasonably justify avoiding the legal option other than laziness or an inflated sense of entitlement.


Please remember that this is true only for a few select countries. The latter post by Leonardo_Ordaz is a perfect counter example to your point.
Yeah, the fact is that not every country has a legal means to watch movies. Like James said in his Reelthoughts about movie pirates, if you look at someone's DVD collection from a country like the Phillipines, you most likely won't find one single film that isn't illegally bootlegged or obtained, and legal DVDs just aren't all that common in certain countries. And most bootlegs are of extremely poor quality, so for some people, using torrents is the only way to see a film in good quality, so it's not a case of laziness, it's a case of being the only option availible.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:33 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:53 am
Posts: 26
Post Re: December 13, 2009: "Torrents and the TARDIS"
Whew. Quite a mouthful. I appreciate the amount of thought you've obviously given the issue and the effort you've put into communicating your side. I find your view very intriguing, even if I see us divided by an ideological chasm (or five).

A point by point response would just be tedious for both of us (and probably anyone else who hasn't been scared off), so I'll try to summarize what I see to be the main points of contention. Before I begin, I'll say right now that I'm arguing mostly from a US perspective (and possibly first world nations in general), not out of any sense of ethnocentrism, but only because that's the society I'm most familiar with. In response to Vexer and ed_metal_head, I certainly sympathize with cases where one has no other recourse, and I agree that what I said about laziness or entitlement would not apply in those areas of the world (nor were they so intended).

That said, back to Ken. First of all, I strongly disagree with your starting assumption that copyright law would be unnecessary even if it were neutral in its effect on art. As I'll address later, the key difference between you and I seems to be that you seem to believe that property rights proceed only from scarcity, whereas I believe they proceed from a concept of justice. In other words, I believe copyright isn't simply a business model, but an appropriate protection of a person's inspiration and toil. While I am sympathetic to the argument that some independent artists may find it difficult to produce derivative works, I am of the belief that there are too many derivative works as it is. Copyrights disincentivize treading old ground; to me, that is a social good. I would trade a thousand mash-ups for one new song.

Why then is the market so inundated with crap? That's a fair question, but I think it has nothing to do with copyrights. You place the blame correctly at the feet of a capitalistic system, but I feel you go too far in asserting that copyrights are the cause. Remember that copyrights don't automatically award money to artists; consumers are the ones who pay for their work. Huge corporations will still force independent projects out of theaters to make way for another Twilight or the next Transformers because those movies sell. Removing or relaxing copyrights won't change a thing. It'll just make it even easier for creatively bankrupt people to milk the ideas of the past. It may allow independent artists to compete with those same used, worn-out ideas, but that's just the same thing in another color. Even then, the monopoly over film-making capital will remain. Celebrities, explosions, and CGI sell tickets, and those aren't cheap. As long as people pay for those things and only a select group of producers can afford them, nothing will change.

What then is the solution? Call me fatalistic, but when it comes to artistic integrity, I don't think there really is one. That's the double-edged sword of capitalism. On one hand, it leads to mass-marketable domination. However, the oft forgotten advantage is living in a society wealthy and technologically advanced enough that almost anyone can produce art without having to give up the pleasure of eating. It is a testament to how fortunate our society is that we even have the concepts of "independent" and "mainstream." Capitalism means that we see more money concentrated in certain areas, but it also means we have a wealth of choice that we wouldn't otherwise have. Would it be better any other way? I don't think so. A part of my soul dies when I read some of the box office totals of the worst movies imaginable, but I have to remind myself that people paid to see those movies, and that's their right. We can wring our hands and denigrate their choices all we want, but we can't take that choice away from them. C'est la vie.

As far as evidence is concerned, I think both of us are on tenuous ground, if there's even any ground to stand on. The fact is that copyrights have been a part of society long enough that examples from before their existence are outdated, and I can't think of any comparisons in recent history that are applicable or provide insight.

We're left with a conflict of ideas. You asked me why I believe that authors should have rights over their works and how they're used. Justice is a concept that's often innately felt (which is why I stated to Ragnarok earlier that we might have to agree to disagree, and that might also be the case here). I'd be almost as hard-pressed to explain why something as simple as harming people is wrong, but I'll take a stab at it. When you reduce the notion of "property" to "scarcity," I feel you do a great disservice to the owner, artists especially. What you are saying, essentially, is that their work doesn't belong to them; it is the "need" for that work that determines who owns it. In other words, if I "need" your idea badly enough, it should be mine regardless of how much work you put into producing it or how brilliant you were for coming up with it. It ignores the just principle of effort and reward. If someone profits off my idea without my consent, that means a significant portion of what they "earned" were the fruits of my labor. Does it not seem reasonable that I be compensated for my role in allowing that idea flourish? And is there a better way to determine the real value of that role than through the free market? I maintain that it does, and there isn't.

When you call an artist's indignant response to the appropriation of their work childish and impulsive, I think you fundamentally misrepresent the central issue. In the case where someone defends their "right" to have something they paid nothing for, the sense of entitlement is unearned. The two situations are not analogous.

In any case, I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussion so far, Ken, but I can't promise I'll be able to respond in detail again. I just spent more hours than I have time for on this already. :lol: Regardless, I will, of course, be very interested in anything you still have to say.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:57 pm
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