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Ethics of Downloading Music; need some opinions on this

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melsmusic

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bdb said:
Allofmp3 doesn't stream any more than iTunes. They used to stream full songs at terribly low bitrate, but not anymore. Now you can download full songs for free, but you can only play it on PCs that run their software and can connect to the internet - it imposes restrictions similar to streaming, actually. I think its a great model, and I already have a considerable amount of music lined up to purchase because of it (though I'll be purchasing from legitimate stores, not allofmp3). It takes away the temptation to just keep the downloads and not buy, since they're of limited usefulness.
Oh, I didn't know it changed. Shows how long it's been since I've been on there. I never used it that much that I'd want to download all their software, well I don't think. Next time I'm considering an album maybe I'll have to now. :D
 

The_Extremist

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I believe the issue of music downloading is lame and passe, don't u think?
No, but multiple students that choose the prototypical "stem cell research" or "death penalty" report is lame. It's still a big enough topic as of this moment. Maybe not bigger than any current political things going on, but it's easier to write about something you can relate to better.

I appreciate everyone's responses and in-depth discussion of this topic. Please, keep the thread going.
 

Aceon6

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For those of you old enough to remember, we cracked the "is it acceptable" door open back in the days of the copy protected Lotus 1-2-3. You couldn't even make a backup unless you used a 3rd party product such as Copy2PC. So many people hated Lotus that it not only became socially acceptable but almost cool to crack 1-2-3. Then Borland came out with Quattro and piloted the simple EULA - please use this software like you would a book - one copy in use at a time. Hardly anyone copied Quattro because 1) it wasn't considered cool given the reasonable EULA and 2) the pricing of Quattro was considered reasonable.

It seems that folks hate the major music distributors almost as much as my tech management peers hated Lotus. Many don't have a problem with violations against a big company. By contrast, a lot of folks consider the iTMS EULA to be fair and they think the 99 cent price is reasonable. That may explain Apple's success as much as anything else.
 

bdb

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The world of software is guided by EULAs, the world of music is not. Most software is installed with an explicit agreement, and/or there is an implicit (but still written) agreement when the packaging is opened. Music exists in the fuzzy world of copyright law, and what we might consider implicitly fair-use (e.g. ripping and copying a CD you own) is not necessarily considered implicity fair use by the content owners (the RIAA has stated that they don't consider these implicitly fair use).

And while iTMS may be successful compared to other legal download services, its not even slightly successful compared to illegal downloads. It might also be argued that their success has more to do with iPod support than their terms of service (there is no EULA for the store).
 

Aceon6

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bdb, I agree with you. What I was trying to point out is that disdain for the big company that wants to control how you use its products isn't new. Some folks take that disdain and use it to justify certain behavior.
 
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Well, here's an interesting read over from Arstechnica on how the MPAA has now released a copyright propaganda merit badge for Los Angeles Boy Scouts.... :shake:

While I can respect the concept of proper education on these issues, allowing the MPAA to do this is a little bit like having anti-racism badges sponsored by a white supremacist group.... :shake:

(And lest anybody think I'm exaggerating with that analogy, the President of the MPAA once compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler).
 

Eric Lewis

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my friend has downloaded in the past! but after the itunes store got really good music and huge selection.i never actually downloaded myself..i use itunes..and the downloaded music quality is really bad..and its a pain to find album art, import, and change the tags ie.artisit, album, year, comments etc. 99 cents a song is really good, 10 bucks an album..its cheaper then a cd..and you can prin the cd songs and cut them out and its perfect 10 bucks a cd!
 

warnold3

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give me a list of some of the best sites to download from so I can feel immoral.
 

VipFREAK

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I only do single songs and most of the stuff I'm looking for is hard to find. I can sit here and justify my actions til I'm blue in the face but someone will look at it as wrong. Either way my actions don't bother me considering people get ALBUMS. BTW, I did the whole buying single cds. I'm tired of waiting and getting ripped off.
 

goldcoaster

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jhollington said:
Well, here's an interesting read over from Arstechnica on how the MPAA has now released a copyright propaganda merit badge for Los Angeles Boy Scouts.... :shake:

While I can respect the concept of proper education on these issues, allowing the MPAA to do this is a little bit like having anti-racism badges sponsored by a white supremacist group.... :shake:

(And lest anybody think I'm exaggerating with that analogy, the President of the MPAA once compared the VCR to the Boston Stranger).
Oh No! Really? And one thing they want the kids to install and run MPAAs Parent Scan software that lists all media files then asks if it can delete them - it doesn't know if they are illegal or not! http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050128-4563.html

Next thing will be the healthy eating badge from MacDonalds. Bloody hell.


- goldcoaster
 

VipFREAK

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bdb said:
I'm watching a related video (here).
Great vid dood, while I agree with his argument even if creativity is limited by laws I still think creativity will find a way if it means going through a different/harder path.
 

Jackonicko

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I'm sick of the self justifying sophistry going on.

The point about the loaf of bread is that if you steal it, you are stealing INCOME from the baker. You are taking something to which you have no entitlement, without the permission of the owner and without compensating him. The physical loaf of bread itself is unimportant except as a vehicle for the baker to earn from.

If you steal Intellectual Property you are stealing income from the artist. You are taking something to which you have no entitlement, without the permission of the owner and without compensating him. The fact that the artist still owns the music, and you've taken only a copy is irrelevant. The baker is likely to have dozens more loaves, many of which he might throw away at the end of the day.
 

mnhnhyouh

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If you take a loaf of bread from a baker, you are not only stealing his income but some of his CAPITAL.

If you take a song from an artist, you are stealing some of their income, but none of their CAPITAL.

Equate them how you will, but most of us can tell the difference.

h
 

neb

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No.

The loaf of bread is not capital. Capital is part of the four factors of production, the others being land, labour and enterprise. To create the loaf of bread you will need some of each of those factors. In this instance the Baker's capital will be the ovens, ingredients, the oven gloves, the baking tins, the...... You get the picture.

The loaf of bread is the good; the end product. The baker then sells this good on the market and receives income. Considering this, the loaf of bread is neither capital or income. It is a good instead, albeit one which leads to income once the baker has sold it.

I think the important linking statement is this: The loaf of bread is a good, in much the same way as the artist's song is a good. They are both a product of the factors of production. The artist's capital will be instruments, recording studio etc.

I do not see why some people are taking it upon themselves to try and distinguish a loaf of bread and a song; in an economics environment they are both the same. This means that theft occurs in exactly the same way.
 

bdb

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Jackonicko said:
I'm sick of the self justifying sophistry going on.
I seriously doubt Jeff Tweedy is justifying anything his band is doing. He is the artist, not your so-called "thief".

If you steal Intellectual Property you are stealing income from the artist.
I downloaded an album a few days ago, and listened to it but wasn't impressed, so I deleted it. Exactly how much income did I "steal" from the artist? On numerous occasions I've downloaded music that I'd never heard (and really had no other way of hearing), and subsequently bought several songs from that artist. Had I not downloaded that music, I'd have bought none. Exactly how much income did I "steal" from the artist? There have been several cases where I posted in the Music->Recommendations about music I'd downloaded (most of which I bought), and others bought it as well.

As I stated earlier in this thread, I've gone from spending nearly nothing on music to spending hundreds of dollars on music purely because of downloads. The bread analogy would purely label me as a thief, because it is a myopic view that ignores all the ways that digital music can be used.
 
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Jackonicko

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1) If you can honestly say that you retain no music that you have not paid for (not a single song) except temporarily for sampling, I personally would see nothing wrong in what you do, though strictly speaking, it's still stealing, just as it would be if you stole one biscuit before buying a whole packet - if you liked it. (It's an imperfect analogy, because if you really do either buy or delete, I can't really see that you're doing much damage - though some would buy a couple of tracks or a CDS before buying an album, or would listen to the 30 second snatch on iTunes, or would stream it to sample it).

And you are still failing to pay for the download - whatever you use it for. The effect is not the ethical point at issue - it's merely a justification. It's a justification with which I have sympathy, personally, but it's not up to me, it's up to the copyright owners.

2) Even if you can honestly say that you retain no music that you have not paid for (not a single song) except temporarily for sampling, then I'd say that you are totally unrepresentative of most downloaders, and are such a statistical anomaly that your individual behaviour is barely relevant.

3) Regardless of whether your downloading has increased your spending on music (and if that spending is on Allofmp3 it's irrelevant and almost as harmful), it is not for you to determine the price that you should or should not pay for a piece of music, regardless of whether you are going to sample it, ignore it, or whatever. Copyright owners have a right to charge too much for music, and to damage their own business in the process.

A copy of a song has value and is someone else's property. You have two ethical choices. Either pay their price, or boycott the item.
 
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Realistically, I doubt that if pressed even the RIAA would have any issues with downloading for the purposes of purely sampling music, provided it was purchased later. Realistically, however, the moment they even hint that this behaviour is somehow acceptable, they have slid down an extremely slippery slope from which there is no return.

I'll be the first to admit that I can understand some of the RIAA/MPAA's strong-arm tactics, along the lines of avoiding permissiveness by taking the draconian approach instead. (I don't agree with this approach, but I can perhaps understand why they may be motivated to take it).

There are many ways of sampling music, as radio channels abound, many CD stores have samples available of some CDs, and of course iTunes offers their 30-second previews. Downloading a track is an extension of this, IMHO, and while it may technically be a violation, we are talking about the spirit/principle of the law, rather than the letter thereof.

This applies in the case of just about every other form of intellectual property in some fashion. If I'm interested in a book, I can get it from the library and then later decide to purchase it. Or I can go into the book store and read portions of it right on the shelf. For movies, I can attend a theatrical presentation of the movie, and then decide to purchase the DVD.

Interestingly, the difference with both movies and most books is that they tend to be re-consumed relatively seldom compared to music... Downloading a whole movie to "sample" it and decide whether you were going to buy it would be ludicrous, as most people wouldn't bother. Downloading a song or entire album to decide if you want to buy it makes sense, as you'll probably want to listen to it again.

I have no problems ethically with sampling music either, although I generally haven't bothered unless it's something that's specifically sent to me by a friend. In that case, since there's a personal recommendation there, I will listen to it, and then either buy or delete.

Back in the very early days of digital music (circa 1998-99), a friend gave me a CD full of downloaded MP3s. This was more or less how my digital music library started (since in those days there was little point in ripping my CDs, as I had nothing to play them on). At that point, I kept those tracks, used then and played them. I have since either re-purchased or deleted almost every single one of those original MP3s. If they were worth keeping, they're worth paying for.

Ultimately, I think the problem is the fuzziness with which any of this is defined. As bdb already pointed out, no analogy to any physical property truly works when describing intellectual property. Going into a bakery and sampling a muffin before deciding to buy a box isn't a valid comparison, as you have consumed a physical item that cannot be replaced without at least some additional expense incurring. From the point of view that you have consumed something without proper right to do so, you're correct. From the point of view that you have done harm, or deprived anybody of income, the analogy breaks down.

A big part of the problem is radio.... We have become accustomed to music in it's purely audible form being freely available to us. We may not be able to decide when we want to listen to it, but the concept of listening to a song does not have any intrinsic "value".... Therefore, downloading a song and listening to it feels little different than listening to a song on the radio. Music is not pay-per-use.... Once you've bought it, you can listen to it as many times as you like, and it does not depreciate in value by doing so. The only real "value" that purchasing music has is our ability to listen to it when we please and as often as we please.

If the only way to listen to music was by purchasing it, then perhaps the lines would be much clearer in people's minds.
 

neb

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Need we forget that Napster offers a full sample of songs? Providing they have the song, why not use that service instead?
 
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