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The Pirate Bay's statement on PIPA/SOPA (thepiratebay.org)
305 points by llambda 2192 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments

Just a note regarding most of the piracy discussion I have seen take place on HN in the last day or so: everyone who refers to internet piracy as theft is doing a disservice to the argument. They can call it immoral, dangerous, or harmful, but it to equate it with theft is just not accurate.

The people who most frequently refer to internet piracy as theft/stealing are the ones who want to censor the internet and pay off congress. I hope that, regardless of where they stand on the piracy issue, HN users can be a little more articulate about why piracy is or is not permissible and stop referring to it inaccurately.

Oh please, I actually find it rather convenient. I know I don't have to take anybody who equates copyright violation with theft seriously. Anyone who uses deceitful propaganda and newspeak to hide the truth is obviously not interested in a serious discussion about piracy and copyright law, but is only looking to demonize their opponents to further their own cause. It's like religious fundamentalists that equate homosexuality with child abuse.

It's far more than just being semantically "inaccurate". Anyone who equates piracy with theft is being deliberately and fundamentally dishonest, and is only interested in waving their propaganda about instead of having an open debate.

"It's far more than just being semantically "inaccurate". Anyone who equates piracy with theft is being deliberately and fundamentally dishonest, and is only interested in waving their propaganda about instead of having an open debate."

That's just not true. If you asked a random person "what do you call the act of taking something without paying for it", they'd answer "theft". The fact that there is a distinction, because in one case you're "physically" taking something and in another you're not, is a much more nuanced argument.

Most people will use the term theft because that's the term which fits the best in our language. You might not like that, you might want to change that in order to help people understand the difference. But that doesn't mean that anyone who uses the word "theft" is someone to ignore.

> That's just not true. If you asked a random person "what do you call the act of taking something without paying for it", they'd answer "theft".

By saying "taking" you've already given them the wrong question.

If you ask a random person "what do you call the act of imitating something without paying for it", they'd answer "huh?", or "art".

You're absolutely right. But I made that mistake without even thinking. This is how most people work - we don't think long and hard about each word that we use, and we use (often leaky) abstractions and analogies.

This just reinforces my point - choosing to ignore people only because they use the word "stealing" is not a good idea.


Actually, internally it was 'copied' across a network from one computer to another. This is indisputable. Computers do this well so you're correct that it's not just a 'nice' imitation, it's a 'perfect' imitation.

Now we've corrected your choice of words from 'took' to 'copied', can you please make your argument again but this time using the correct word?

I just wished to point out that you were deluding yourself with semantics.

I'm not for or against piracy.

On a personal level, I am for being able to pirate other people's work, but against my own work being pirated. That's not hypocritical: I value increasing my capital.

But on a non-personal level, my belief is that a file is the medium of ideas and that when this is copied it (a) strengthens the ideas by increasing their cheap supply in a culture, and that (b) due to the increased supply the demand at high price points has the potential to shift down, while the demand at low price points has the potential to shift up because of increased cultural interest.

> you're deluding yourself with semantics.

Please elaborate. Where does my statement conflict with reality?

> It's the real thing

It's already a copy of a copy of an edit of an edit of a copy a magnetic tape in someone's camera.

> and I took it.

You copied it. If you insist on calling it "take" or "steal" you must accept that you took or stole games from steam after purchasing then.

> but if you think the pirate bay is about 'imitation'

I didn't even mention Pirate Bay.

> When I download my series of the pirate bay

You don't. You download them directly off hundreds of other people across the world. TPB just gives you the list of people.

When you go to a restaurant, do you say that you sit at the waiter and eat forks?

Clean semantics, and not confusing the medium with the object, are crucial for discussion.

Really? I'm starting to feel the opposite: that these arguments by definition are getting tedious and deliberately miss the point. In much the same vein as the "marriage is only between a man and woman" variety.

The English verb "to steal" is certainly capable of meaning "to take without the right" regardless of whether physical property is involved. Not to mention the myriad of common idioms, like "So-and-so stole my idea." What else are people trying to express by its use in this case?

It's clear that the issue here is their legal right to exclusive distribution and transmission (or "state granted monopoly", if you prefer) of their work, not whether or not they "still have a copy". It can be disagreed with, but they have it and others distributing their work without permission diminishes it.

Not saying I disagree with you that it's the wrong way to go about things, but, I think if one is being honest, the argument over the use of word is telling on both sides and that some people are clearly trying to demonize those who use the word, in the same way that they feel they are being demonized by its use against them.

Yes, both sides are playing with semantics and what's more important is that, like a lot of questions of law breaking this boils down to question of rights and doing something which you clearly have no right to. Im not supporting the recording industry in any way but nobody has the rights to intrude upon someone else's, be it a recording company, and if you dont like the way they do things you have the right to refrain from doing business with them, not pirate their stuff.

'Theft' and 'non-theft' are bad words to use.

Of course piracy is like theft in one way (you get something for free without compensating the author), however its not in another (unlike smashing a window and taking a diamond ring, nobody loses a diamond ring - or a window).

Theft - you take something from someone. Result: You have something, someone else does not have that same thing which you just took from them. That is called theft.

Piracy/Copyright-infrigiment - you copy something from someone. Result: You both have that same thing, in digital world, it is exactly to the bit the same. In analog world the someone has the original while your copy will probably be a bit different and unique. Nobody is left without having stuff.

We could use a little chart:

  before | after
  X   .  | .   X    Theft
  X   .  | .   .    Vandalism
  X   .  | X   X    Copyright infringement
These are clearly different things. It becomes outright quaint when you look at it using the third basic law of human stupidity[1]. According to this law (and assuming a naïve interpretation of the chart above), theft is criminal, vandalism is stupid, but copyright infringement is smart.

[1]: http://wwwcsif.cs.ucdavis.edu/~leeey/stupidity/basic.htm

The whole debate about stealing is irrelevant, and not very interesting.

1) The way that the internet is configured means that distribution is now nearly free for everyone.

2) People will (and are!) using this to distribute things that other people don't want them to distribute, and may even bankrupt them.

3) Changing this, if even possible, will require fundamentally changing the nature of the internet in it's current form, which will have massive implications for freedom of speech and may bankrupt other industries.

#3 is the only part which is truly interesting. Are we going to break what we have now based on the (possibly incorrect) assumption that it will do anything to help the recording industry?

Copying under the current system is guaranteed... that's what it does. Whether it's "stealing" or "moral" is something else. Whether people go to heaven or hell when they download Season 4 of Sex in the City, or whether their government locks up children from copying a ringtone... These are less interesting points. Societies can take care of themselves on these points, I presume they won't tolerate it.

> The whole debate about stealing is irrelevant, and not very interesting.

Uninteresting, yes. Irrelevant, sadly no. We give words meaning, which tend to linger even when used differently. A careless (or careful!) choice of word can significantly steer the debate. Think for instance of "viral" licences (as if the GPL were a disease), or "mentally ill", which reminds us that mad people aren't mad by choice.

I don't get one thing with internet culture not refering to intelectual property as a real property and its theft as not a real theft.

If copyright theft was not theft, the whole GNU and Free Software movement wouldn't exist. As author of software licenced under GNU GPL, you say "this is free, but because I am the author and I have copyright, if you want to use it in your software, you must also release the code under GNU."

If you say copyright theft is not theft, any software company can go and use GNU code, include it in their proprietary code and re-sell it. And because you also imply that we should give up on copyright enforcement, they would get away with it.

I'm not saying copyright violation is not illegal. I'm just saying it's not theft. It's a different crime, with different characteristics, defined in a different section of the US code.

Because you can't really own an idea 100%. That's why "intellectual property" is a misnomer, and it's not actual property. And that's why there are time limits for patents and there "used to be" time limits for copyright, too, which now are pretty much gone, thanks to Disney and others.

Same goes for the intellectual "property" rights. Mixing together three completely different areas of law (copyright, patents and trademarks) is bad enough; implying they are related to physical property rights is unforgivable: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html

If I build a factory at great personal cost, but the materials and electricity to produce the goods cost next to nothing, is it theft if people take these goods without my permission? I don't see the difference between this and intellectual property.

You say it is not accurate but don't provide anything substantial to back up your claim. Instead you use a logical fallacy: because these persons are bad, thus the argument of using term "theft" is bad.

When someone takes your factory and materials and electricity, you don't have them any more.

You missed his argument. What is it when someone steals his (extremely cheap to produce) goods?

It's theft but extremely cheap is not the same as free.

When someone takes his goods, he doesn't have them any more.

It's not like he was trying to collect them, he was trying to sell them. This person took them without paying.

What if someone figures out how to make a similar factory very cheaply, and drives you out of business by only charging their marginal production costs for their widgets? The important difference, I think, is that they're using their own materials and electricity to make their goods, but people who engage in copyright infringement are too.

EDIT: And I'd note that many would would say that this second person is "Stealing the customers" of the first factory owner, but that doesn't mean what he does is actually morally equivalent to stealing.

If they make their own factory then that is ok. Simple capitalism. That is not my point, however. If they use the original factory without paying that is not ok.

So then, by your logic, walking up to a record store, and sneaking out with a cd that you did not pay for, is not theft then.

That's clearly theft. The record store had a CD, and then you took it.

But what's that got to do with copyright infringement?


That's still stealing. If I break into your house, take your computer, and leave behind $1000 dollars, I have still completely stolen your computer regardless of how much it is worth.

It would be more like replicating the computer from outside the house using telephone lines. Leaving the original in your house, but having an identical one for their own.

Its more like you tell me Joke and I tell same joke to everyone without asking you first or paying anything.

Why are people suddenly embracing this argument that piracy isn't theft?

People work to create music just like people work to mine the earth to produce coal. Should one not get paid just because what they're producing can't be physically held?

Because it isn't theft. There is no argument-- it simply isn't. When a user downloads a file, that file then exists in one more place. It is copied.

That may be immoral, but it is not theft.

There are even more angles to it. Sometimes piracy works as advertisement, and sometimes it works like shareware: pirate it, like it, pay for it.

You know, there used to be a SHAME associated with shoplifting. One had to have the friggin balls, and take considerable risk to go through such an endeavor. No, BUT NOW, as long as we can hide behind our frikken computers, with absolutely no risk, we start grabbing whatever we want now, don't we? And no, that's not theft, oh no no no. I now have a fond new found respect for shoplifters. At least they have true grit, and don't delude themselves by calling it anything other than stealing.

We're talking about a simple legal definition here - copyright infringement is using some kind of intellectual property without the proper license to do so, while theft is depriving somebody of their property.

This isn't an argument about what's morally right - all that is being argued is that no legal system in the world classes copyright infringement as stealing.

Well then I guess the question boils down to 'Do we support morality or do we support loopholes?'

If someone sincerely believes that piracy is theft, then they should simply demand that piracy be equated to theft at all level. This would then imply that piracy would be dealt as any other theft is dealt.

This would involve the owner making a police report about this theft, and state machinery getting search warrant to find the "stolen" article. Once the stolen article is found, it will be "replaced" back to the owner.

This would then be also beneficial to defendant, because now he would have the right to lawyer, and if he is unable to get one, the state will provide one. He would also have presumption of innocence, and if found guilty, his punishment would be jail time. If there is fine, it would have to be proportional to the "theft", and not some $250,000 for immeasurable damage.

Very likely, three strike laws and such would also apply, which ensures that anyone committing "theft" repeatedly will most probably see long sentences.

Why have different laws on book, if piracy is theft and can be dealt as such? And what about all the expiration of ownership? My great-grandfather's ring is still with me, and its ownership did not expire 70 years after his death. Perhaps all literature should still be owned by the estate of the dead, after all, it is property that is being stolen in plain sight everyday.

Why is it a loophole? At no point does using correct verbiage affect the argument at all. The same action is still occurring. The debate should not be "is copyright infringement stealing?", the debate should be "is copyright infringement wrong?"

And there are people using the term "steal" to carry that moral weigth into the true debate of "is copyright infringement wrong?".

So what? That doesn't make it theft, any more than it makes it murder or rape.

As a father of two girls, I love this comment:

"...what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they're fat."


I try to minimize the exposure of my kids to the plastic reality of disney - but it is nearly impossible. The system for indoctrinating girls into the consumption servitude archetype is insidiously powerful.

It is threaded in our society and very very hard to avoid.

I like the bit where TPB didn't mention what they really do .... line their pockets with the revenue from billions of ad impressions a month.

The argument of efficiency is stupid. Of course I can do a better job distributing hot dogs than the hot dog guy if I just put out a massive table of hot dogs I got for free and let people run up and grab one without paying for it. But that model doesn't work if I have to pay for my hot dogs.

If you invest millions of dollars in movies or a music album, you have to charge money to make it back. As we can see from Spotify and others, ad supported models do not pay enough to cover the high costs of creating expensive products. But of course alternative revenue is enough to pay for the costs of selling something that doesn't belong to you and costs nothing for you to distribute. And once you have to charge, of course people will prefer to get it where they don't have to pay. It has little to do with convenience. The number one thing that will impact the conversion rate on a shopping cart funnel (besides SSN) is asking for a credit card, regardless of how few seconds it takes to fill it out. People are wary of putting their card in online, they're lazy, and they're cheap. You're not more efficient, you're just catering to the lowest common denominator of people.

There is virtually no reason why companies could not distribute products the way TPB does, except that they'd still have to charge money for those products. The minute you do that, someone who gives away hot dogs they didn't pay for wins. To pretend like it's some noble effort is a joke. You earn your livings off the backs of people who make things people want. Try charging your users for the things you offer and see how long your "more efficient" platform does well.

Sure, people will go on and on about how they get higher quality files, whole discographies in one click, and blah blah blah. Most people do not do that and they still pirate things. Taking things you didn't pay for and selling them cheaper than someone who did is not more efficient. Just start calling a spade a spade so we can move on and talk like adults.

  > It has little to do with convenience.
This is discounting how much it has to do with convenience. People love Netflix's streaming service, but it's plagued by the fact that the studios are reluctant to give them access to a wider catalog (as I understand it, not a Netflix subscriber).

There are tons of examples where the MPAA/RIAA members could have switched distribution methods, but chose not to for a very long time because they are too conservative. Once they shuttered Napster, they could have paid a team to develop something similar to the iTunes music store, and organized a set of standards to govern music players with electronics companies. They could have owned the new distribution medium by ushering it in themselves. Instead they spent time on legal teams playing wack-a-mole with the pirates and lobbying various legislative bodies across the globe to try and prevent the Internet from happening. The only investment that they want to make in the future is attempting to extend the ecosystem of the past into the future as far as possible.

As I understand it (and happy to be educated otherwise), the major record labels can not build an iTunes competitor together, as it would require discussions that lead to price fixing, etc. There is a good interview with the head of digital for Warner Bros Music on This Week in Music that talks about how they can only hope the other labels negotiate with people like Spotify because they have to make forward progress, but they can't know for sure and coordinate efforts to move the industry forward, because it's actually illegal to have most of those discussions with each other. Again, I don't know if that's true, but it could be.

I can't speak to the legal issues, but I do know the TV guys tried it with Hulu and got scared of it competing with their core business when it started to become successful. So I kind of doubt it's concern over antitrust suits at work here.

But somehow the fact that all major labels ended up with CDs at $13.99 retail for several years was mere coincidence.

Despite the massive variance in initial investment in the different albums. Just to think of some examples: Pearl Jam: Bunch of guys with guitars; include mic. and camera, and you're done. Rihanna: Advanced sound engineering, post-productiony stuff, dancers, choreography, professional songwriters, etc., etc. Yet the CDs cost the same.

Oh yeah, there can be no other way that that happens. Must've been greedy old guys in a room rubbing their hands together, plotting.

Most cars in the same class and relative features cost the same. Most comparable computers cost similar amounts. Costume jewelry from store to store is similarly priced.

Not everything is a conspiracy. You price things at what people will pay for them, and for many years people gladly paid, and still pay, $13.99 for CDs. You don't have to conspire to come to a similar price point.

Of course, but...

I worked in a music store for a number of years, and got gossipy stories from area and regional managers about stuff from label reps and contacts. There were a few more majors back then, but it always felt very much like collusion more than competition - coordinating of release dates, for one. We couldn't adjust our prices to match competition without clearing it first with HQ. Some of these were, to some extent, normal retail chain corporate policies, but why were they so worried about some issues? Well, if we violated things, we might lose some deals we had with label X or label Y. (Almost felt like if mfg X preloaded linux on model ABC, they wouldn't get preferential MS Windows licensing prices compared to their competitors.)

This was early 90s, for some perspective.

Then - lo and behold - http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2000/08/38103?current... - a mere 9 years later.

Then 11 years after that - http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/11/major-labels-law...

Your argument would make a lot of sense if all the movie stars, directors, producers, composers, etc were as poor as the rest of America.

Do you know how many actors, directors producers and composers there are that are as poor or poorer than most Americans? The people you watch on TMZ are an anomaly. Most creatives struggle as much as the next guy.

Yes, and I don't see many of them supporting destructive legislation.

I wasn't talking about the legislation. I simply said TPB's only greater efficiency is that they don't have to charge for their product, because they come about it dishonestly. And I know plenty of creatives who support this opinion.

As correct as earbitscom is in his response to this comment, there is another issue.

Some of these people are being compensated so well because they are able to play a part in the making of a movie, which millions of people want to watch and will pay money to do so. They are being paid for their abilities and the more specifically, rarity of those abilities.

Yes! Thank you for laying out your opinion so intelligently and with such a perfect metaphor. It is really time for everyone to just grow up and as you so eloquently put it, "just start calling a spade a spade".

Let's take this metaphor a little further, then.

Digital content isn't exactly like a hot dog, so let's assume that you could design a magical hot dog which, once created, you can copy many times with no other costs. You have an unlimited supply of hot dogs, and each one of these hot dogs, being an exact copy of the original, can also be used to magically make more hot dogs.

Now I'm not saying that this hot dog is free - it cost a LOT in R&D to produce this hot dog, and you invested a lot in it. The other thing is that hot dogs go with buns, and there's sadly no magical buns in this universe. Each and every bun has to be created, and costs money.

So you set up your hot dog stand, selling magical hot dogs with non-magical buns. You charge a premium rate because you're the only guy in town who managed to make a magical hot dog of this quality, and with it's unique flavour. Besides, the buns are still costing you money, and they have to come from somewhere.

Now you notice some guy has found out that the magical hot dog you sold him can make new hot dogs at no cost, but they don't have the buns attached. As a response, you start baking the hot dogs into the bread - it makes it harder to get the hot dog out, and you think that that's the end of it. But the guy realises that with a bit of effort, he can get the hot dog out of the bread too, because what's the point of a hot dog if you can't get at it? Baking the hot dog into the bread is costing you even more, and making it harder for people to get to the hot dog.

Soon you have some people coming up to you and asking if they can have seeded bread, or maybe gluten free, or maybe they just hate bread and want it on it's own. Some of them want to buy just your hot dog and put it on their own bread. But if you start selling them hot dogs by themselves, won't they just start handing out free hot dogs to all their friends? That would be a disaster! So your answer is no! Hot dogs come baked into bread, and by now you've convinced the mayor to make it illegal to take your hot dogs out of the bread. People should just learn to love your bread!

So how's the guy who took your hot dog out of it's bread going? He's still giving away hot dogs for free, and what's worse is that he's telling everyone he gives one to to give them away, too. It's costing him nothing to do because he doesn't have to pay for bread. Sure, some people are still coming to you because they actually like the bread, but mostly the people coming to you are asking about bread-free options, and are still willing to pay. Most of the people going to the guy who's giving out hot dogs for free never bought anything from you, and some of them don't even eat the hot dogs. Sure, you see a few of your old customers going to him instead, but mostly the people going to him either never came to you, or (after tasting the free hot dog) later come to you to buy a genuine one in bread.

The point isn't that the guy giving away free hot dogs isn't a jerk. He is. The point is that you're stubbornly refusing to let people pay for a hot dog how they want it, in a way that costs you less (because you don't have to adjust the price for the bread - you just have to cover your costs, rather than incurring new ones).

You're doing this in an attempt to stop people doing what they're already doing. People don't want to rip you off - they just want to be able to pick their own bread.

To break from the analogy now, I was happily a pirate because it was difficult for me to get what I wanted how I wanted and there was no technical reason why it wasn't available. Sure, if I wanted all my movies as flip-books, then there's a technical reason why that doesn't make sense, but there's no technical reason stopping me from getting them as digital media files.

If I'm looking for music from a band, I will always try to find a legal channel to obtain it first. If I can't find one (and these days, it's getting pretty rare), then I'll probably pirate it. Sure, some people will pirate it anyway because they feel entitled to it, but the point is that many, many people have no problems paying for content so long as they can get it how and when they want it. This type of availability of content is pretty much what TPB seems to be about for many people. It's not about screwing content producers - it's about freedom of choice.

Anyway, that's my take on it. I know that there are people who will always choose to steal rather than pay, but most of society would happily pay if only we were allowed to.

You're wrong.

> The point is that you're stubbornly refusing to let people pay for a hot dog how they want it

If you are the guy spending money to create the original magic hot dogs, you have to charge a certain amount to recoup your money. If you do not, you cannot afford to make those hot dogs anymore. You must also take into consideration the many investments you make in magic hamburgers and fries that don't pan out.

Once you create that hot dog, even if you give people exactly what they want - bread, no bread, wrap it in a fucking croissant - if you require a credit card and the dipshit down the street does not, no amount of convenient packages and toppings is going to make up for it. Does it make the guy down the street a genius with a better product, as TPB's "statement" tries to paint of them? No, it makes them a parasite leeching from people who have the talent and skill to make magic hot dogs.

As I said, let's just call a spade a spade. The greater efficiency they bring to the table is removing the paywall, which they can only afford to do because they create nothing. Maybe you think there is nothing wrong with that. But if everyone is going to so adamantly insist that we not call piracy theft, let's also not call TPB innovative. Their only innovation is finding a way to profit off the backs of people who make things we enjoy, while giving nothing back. Bravo.

The pay wall is indeed a major hindrance. However, this is not because you have to give money. This is because giving money takes time. Paying with my credit card takes me a full minute when I have to type its number, and I don't really want to trust big companies with it (not to mention my buying records).

I don't know how we could do this, but here is the ideal case: paying requires only 2 clicks, it is secure, and it is anonymous (no one besides the receiver and yourself know of the transaction). Imagine computer games that feature a "click to donate $1" menu option. Media players could do the same, provided there is the relevant information in the music file. If I ever have the urge to donate, I just click, and it's done.

Right now, I have a pirated copy of Skyrim on my computer. I like this game, and I think it deserves at the very least a tip. Actually, I am seriously considering purchasing it. But it is a hassle. I need either to set up a steam account, or to buy a copy at a local store (in France, and I want English dialogues). But if my copy featured a "donate" button I can trust, I definitely would have given at least 10€, probably 25€.

Amazon already allows this. I make music purchases that go straight to the cloud in one click, plus a single confirmation click. They are immediately available both on the web and on my phone.

Yes, and this is great. Unfortunately, there are still some problems left: I don't really trust them with my credit card, and I don't like the fact that they know (and remember) everything I buy from them.

If this were possible, I would like to "pay cash" over the network.

If this is true, shouldn't TPB take down all items on their website which is already available digitally? Everything available currently on Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Spotify, Rhapsody, Netflix, et al should be removed then correct? It is availably digitally. I think your statement of 'how and when they want it' actually means they want it immediately and want it for $0 or as close to $0 as possible.

A lot of that isn't available internationally, due to market segmentation by the movie/music cartels. I have no idea how much of the world TPB serves as compared to US only markets, but I suspect it's pretty ubiquitous anywhere there's broadband - whereas legit access to that media is not.

> "which is already available digitally"

The sad thing is "already available digitally" is a thing that comes and go. Take e.g the iTunes Store or Zune, which I use routinely, have items disappear and then reappear a week, or a month later, or never. It's absolutely ridiculous.

(I notice it because I add things to my wishlist and they sit there, and when I want to rent or buy it it's not there anymore, and then, a month down, maybe it's back, maybe not).

If he ran it, maybe he would do that. TPB might have a different take on the issue.

As for pragmatic concerns, maybe they're considered less liable for the content they host, since they don't monitor the content to remove "accessible" content?

Also - something might be digitally available in the US, but not in other countries.

"""Anyway, that's my take on it. I know that there are people who will always choose to steal rather than pay, but most of society would happily pay if only we were allowed to."""

I don't buy that. There is and will always be ( as far as I can tell ) the simple fact that I can get an album that costs x dollars for 0. Itunes and Amazon make the purchase of music about as easy as possible, but they still can't beat free.

Your mileage may vary of course, but Spotify definitely beats TPB when it comes to easy. Relatively cheap and extremely accessible. I entered my credit card details a couple of years ago and simply forgot about the negligible sum withdrawn each month. Such a shame it took the industry so long...

And yet pay tv, netflix, itunes, amazon and countless others manage to survive in the face of free-to-air tv, radio, and pirates.

Stop thinking that the USA is the world, and what works there will work everywhere. Outside the US, availability of digital content is a wasteland.

"Of course I can do a better job distributing hot dogs than the hot dog guy if I just put out a massive table of hot dogs I got for free and let people run up and grab one without paying for it. But that model doesn't work if I have to pay for my hot dogs."

I'm not arguing for the Pirate Bay, but there is an error in your logic - to make that analogy fit into an online distribution situation, you would have to postulate that you only have to pay for one hotdog, and the rest can be duplicated and distributed for close to zero cost.

Really interesting article, and I particularly like the opening paragraph. Impressed how the pirate bay stand out as having such a well reasoned stance with regard to SOPA. Much better than simply attacking the bill in my opinion.

"Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear". He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture."

> Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent.

I don't understand -- aren't patents federally enforced?

Yes they apply federally. However, back in the day the sheer distance from Hollywood to Edison on the east cost made it infeasible for him to bring court action needed to enforce the patents.

Yes, but the Ninth Circuit Court, which has federal jurisdiction over California, was not too bullish on patent enforcement at the time.

I found it confusing too. Edison built the Kinetograph in 1891, back when traveling across the country was quite difficult, and I'm going to assume that it was slightly easier to get ignored in California than in New York, and that is probably what they mean.

> I don't understand -- aren't patents federally enforced?

I can only assume they were not federal back then.

'Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can't access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We're sorry for that.'

To me this was the best part of the entire message.

I found it laughable, because of how Wikipedia's blackout is easily circumventable, and because I didn't see a single year or date.

That's how wrong they were. ;)

Wrong morally, or wrong factually?

If factually, then which parts are wrong?

Joking that the dates/years were so wrong that they weren't even there.

Ah thanks, I missed that!

The text of the linked article, for those that do not have access to TPB (oh, the irony....):


Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear". He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture.

Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them - like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever.

So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: "stole") other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they're all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the richest companies in the world. Congratulations - it's all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create. If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules.

The reason they are always complainting about "pirates" today is simple. We've done what they did. We circumvented the rules they created and created our own. We crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man, that in some cases take over 107% of the profits (yes, you pay to work for them). It's all based on the fact that we're competition. We've proven that their existance in their current form is no longer needed. We're just better than they are.

And the funny part is that our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA. We fight for freedom of speech. We see all people as equal. We believe that the public, not the elite, should rule the nation. We believe that laws should be created to serve the public, not the rich corporations.

The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe - but we've stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this: The word SOPA means "trash" in Swedish. The word PIPA means "a pipe" in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers. The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you'll learn that noone wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.

SOPA can't do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we'll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really. To fix the "problem of piracy" one should go to the source of the problem. The entertainment industry say they're creating "culture" but what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they're fat.

In the great Sid Meiers computer game Civilization you can build Wonders of the world. One of the most powerful ones is Hollywood. With that you control all culture and media in the world. Rupert Murdoch was happy with MySpace and had no problems with their own piracy until it failed. Now he's complainting that Google is the biggest source of piracy in the world - because he's jealous. He wants to retain his mind control over people and clearly you'd get a more honest view of things on Wikipedia and Google than on Fox News.

Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can't access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We're sorry for that.


Hmmm...seems like the internet is the new California then.

I don't really understand how they can have such a radical view... If the pirate bay were to be the only media distribution system left after all of the traditional "Hollywood" corporations went out of business (b/c of the pirate bay), there would be no more movies which the pirate bay could distribute. I don't know about you guys, but I do like my movies. EDIT: Please note this was just I thought an interesting topic to think about - I by no means think this is going to happen. TPB's statement gave me the feeling that they didn't want the traditional Hollywood to exist any longer, which is why I brought this up.

Call it what you want, but what a ton of people are doing in downloading movies off the pirate bay is taking something that they haven't paid for. Maybe one can say that isn't stealing, but I find it hard to call it anything else.

Maybe I'm missing something in their stance?

EDIT: I know we're talking about the middleman and not the producing companies, but the pirate bay is still facilitating the act of taking revenues away from producers, right?

I'll sidestep the tired but true arguments about why copyright infringement isn't stealing, and take a more pragmatic approach:

First off, even if your assumption is true, it would only mean there would be no more movies created in the way Hollywood creates movies today. There would still be movies created by passionate filmmakers. Secondly, I think your assumption is wrong anyway. Hollywood could make movies that would get people in theaters. It would require better movies and probably better theaters. Pirates will have a hard time competing with a good theater experience.

Remember, home video was not an original part of Hollywood's business model. Cinemas were. In fact, they have fought every new form of home media, heralding it as the end of their business, and then eventually adapting and making tons of money from that new media. It takes time, and they haven't quite managed to pull it off yet with today's new home media: high speed Internet access.

Could you please explain exactly why copyright infringement isn't stealing? I really don't understand any of the past arguments. Someone places a price on something that they paid money to create. Instead of paying that price (fair or not), you choose to obtain that something for free. That is, by definition, stealing. You are taking something that belongs to the creator of that something without the right to do so. -- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/steal

I am not saying that Hollywood is going to be completely killed - I was just speculating as to a possible (albeit unlikely) future scenario. The reason for my doing this is that TPB's statement gave me the feeling that they didn't want the traditional Hollywood to exist anymore.

Sorry - what exactly are you getting at with the comment about them being so hypocritical about everything?

I reject that notion that you can own an idea. The arguments for physical property simply don't apply to ideas, and I've never heard a sound and compelling argument for why ideas should be ownable. This is especially true for software and digital media, since they are literally integers. Owning a piece of software is equivalent to owning an integer, something that I claim is ludicrous.

When you talk about "obtaining something" for free, what you're really doing is creating a copy of something. Everyone on both ends of the copying gives their consent: e.g. for Bittorrent, uploaders and downloaders are both freely offering the bandwidth they have paid for. Unless the original uploader

Basing an entire industry on the faulty analogy of creative works as property is, in my opinion, foolish and unworthy of legal support.

Let's go with a movie as an example. I agree with you - you cannot own an idea, but a movie that took a hell of a lot of time and money to make is not an idea. And if you want to have further justification for this, a movie is a physical thing. It actually exists, albeit in the form of ones and zeroes on a hard drive, but it does actually exist. If you are obtaining these ones and zeroes that someone invested a lot of capital to make without paying for them, you are stealing! Those ones and zeroes belong to the company and you have to pay the company to get a copy of the ones and zeroes. This isn't my definition of stealing; it's in the dictionary.

It doesn't make a difference at all whether or not you are copying something or actually removing it from its original place. If you are going with your argument, any company that makes software should only be able to sell that software once and after that, anyone should be able to copy it. Every person that uses the software is getting the value of the software that the original person put capital into creating and you should have to pay for that, not get it for free.

> Those ones and zeroes belong to the company and you have to pay the company to get a copy of the ones and zeroes.

They certainly own the ones and zeroes on their own hard drives, but they don't suddenly own the bits on my hard drive if they happen to fall into the same arrangement.

What I always resort to arguing is that ideas and creative works are not property and it doesn't make sense to apply property rights to them. Think back to why physical theft is immoral: it's not because the owner put time and effort into making or earning the property, it's because you can't take the property without depriving the owner of it. That isn't the case for an arrangement of bits on a hard drive, and that's why I don't think copying is immoral.

> If you are going with your argument, any company that makes software should only be able to sell that software once and after that, anyone should be able to copy it.

Any company that relies on selling something that can be effortlessly copied and obtained for free on the Internet, and then lobbies the government to create and enforce increasingly strict rules specifically designed to prop up your business model that is not profitable on its own, does not have any "right" to profit. Note that this is not a dismissal of software-for-profit: there are plenty of profitable software companies that either avoid piracy by providing non-copyable value or by thriving despite piracy.

"[H]e who lights his [candle] at mine, receives light without darkening me."


The key word here is not "stealing" but "right" as in "the right to do so".

See also: "makes a copy" vs "removes original"

Creators need to be paid, and I see lots of passionate creators being paid despite, or even with the help of this "stealing" (SEO guys and gals call it "free PR".)

What do you mean by your first sentence? Didn't really understand.

Regardless of whether you make a copy or remove the original, you are taking the property of another party without its permission to do so. That, by definition, is stealing. (see first entry in dictionary.com link)

Free PR makes up for lost sales, but would you choose 100 sales or 100 people that got your product for free, but might go tell other people about it?

> you are taking the property of another party

Making a copy is not "taking".

icebraining: You copy something. You have taken it. It still exists where it originally did, but you still took it because you now have it in your possession. You can't keep justifying taking something without paying for it (stealing) with semantics.

Here's another argument for you. When a producer sells a piece of content, it is selling you a copy. You are paying for a copy. If you choose to not pay for a copy, you are effectively stealing a copy from the producer.

I dont understand this. if the hollywood corporations are unable to make something that anyone wants to pay for, why should they be in business?

if they die out, its because their business model is broken. if their business model is broken, they deserve to die out. why should the government protect them?

separately, if movies stop getting made that will because nobody is willing to fund them. surely that means that they should die out? if enough of us who like our movies (I am one) continue to fund movies, then they will not die out.

again, why should the government have an opinion on any of this?

You imply that everyone that pirates doesn't buy. And you imply that people who pirate would instead buy if they couldn't pirate. I never seen proof to any of those two assertions.

I am talking about one movie. If a pirate pirates a movie, it is incredibly unlikely that he/she is going to then go buy the movie.

And yes, I do imply (and even say outright) that people who pirate would buy if they couldn't pirate, but not all of them. Probably only a very small proportion of them would buy a movie if they couldn't pirate it. However, if only one person would buy the movie out of the hundreds that pirate it, it would net the producing and distributing companies a loss, which is all that would need to happen for my argument to have sound backing.

  > there would be no more movies which the pirate
  > bay could distribute
That's not the case. I remember someone once mentioning the Nigerian film industry as an example. Everything there is pirated, but they make their movies with the expectation that they have ~2 weeks to make their money before piracy becomes rampant.

I'm sure that large $100-million movies won't be made in such a world, but I've never really heard anyone respond to whether or not that is a good or bad thing. Do we really need huge blockbusters like that to truly tell a compelling story?

Why should piracy just be expected and accepted to the detriment of an industry?

You don't need a huge budget to make great films, but why encourage an environment in which there is no choice but to make low budget ones?

1. I'm presenting a counter-point to the idea that 'no movies will be made.'

2. The idea that 'if piracy becomes rampant, then there will be no $100-million movies' usually comes up in piracy discussions. I'm asking whether or not we really need $100-million movies. Would the world be that much worse off without them? This is not a side of the issue that I've seen come up in these discussions, so I'm posing the question.

There are some movies and TV shows being funded now without the 'majors', but the funding model hasn't really figured itself out yet.

See Pioneer One for a self/crowd funded 'TV' show which was released under the Creative Commons licence (and distributed legally via pirate bay, etc.). Sure the quality isn't 100% top notch, but the point is that it's starting. It's slow, but the ball is rolling now.

There's not a single thing I've downloaded over a torrent I'd have ever paid for without first getting it via the torrent.

Why would you do that to yourself? You're illegally downloading content. It's really cool and good and all that you're making up for your illegally downloaded content by actually purchasing the movie afterwards because that is what matters, but you could still have to pay huge fines for doing that if anyone wanted to make you.

The other thing is that I think good natured people like you who want to pay for movies after watching them are very rare. The majority of pirates don't follow by your way of thinking, I would guess.

You know why? Because there's so much shitty content out there. Bad TV shows that have one good episode. Bad albums with one good song. I'm sick of buying stuff and then later discovering I was simply a victim of a marketing campaign. That's not fair.

So I will see if it's any good, THEN I pay you. That's how it should work, just like it does in a restaurant: you consume their content, if you're unhappy with the product, it's acceptable behaviour to complain and not pay. Why should I pay them to waste my time?

Stop buying their stuff and you will force them to change.

Most physical object businesses has a multi-tier process that, greatly simplified, can be described as:

(1) design -> (2) produce -> (3) distribute

This simplified traditional model can be directly applied to movies, games, books, etc.

For example:

(1) guy writes book -> (2) publisher runs the printing press -> (3) dude runs book store

Each of these steps can be greatly sub-divided. For example, someone needs to drive the truck full of books to the book store!

Furthermore, the line between each of these steps can be very blurry. An author could, for example, print his own book at home, if he were so inclined.

The big monkey wrench comes into things when you consider the most important missing element: MONEY! Where does it come from?

In the days of yore, if you wanted to produce a film, you'd have to go find backers, like you would for a startup business. Those backers could be friends, family, fools, professional investors, pre-order sales, etc.

More interestingly, one type of backer could be the production/distribution suppliers. They often have greater diversification, so they are more stable in the long term. As they grow more and more stable, they grow more and more rich. With their riches, they can go re-invest more and more of the supply and distribution chain. Once they own more and more of the supply and distribution chain, they can invest more and more in the design end of the process.

Now here's where things get rotton:

It is extremely difficult to profit from a movie these days which are not funded by the major studios. They simply won't run it in the theaters that they have exclusivity deals with! ie. most of them!

You're fucked.

This is true of a scary number of media empires! In addition to movies, think about TV, music, Broadway, books (especially text books). I'm sure I'm missing many.

It even is true of software! It may no longer true for boxed software at your local Compu R' Us store, but it still is for video games. You're simply not gonna make as much money if your game doesn't show up on the shelves at Walmart.

So while capitalism works pretty well in general, it's got a fatal flaw: it tends to generate monopolies. And monopolies are dangerous. If not presently malevolent, monopolies are like time bombs waiting to go off when new leadership steps in. I doubt the movie studios set out with the goal of controlling all media and public opinion. It just so happens that being good at making money makes you good at accumulating power. And power corrupts.

So now back to the question you asked: What is The Pirate Bay's stance?

Well.... I'd imagine that they view themselves as liberators from the tyranny of the production companies. If those companies went poof and disappeared tomorrow, films wouldn't disappear. I mean, just look at youtube.com/freddiew -- there are talented people out there who are figuring out how to fund things like they're doing with their VGHS film.

Surely, destroying the production companies would cause people to loose jobs and lots of great films to die on the planning desk. But people will overcome. The industry will find new ways of funding itself and the middleman will become less powerful. Sure, YouTube is huge, but that won't stop you from clicking a Vimeo link. The internet simply makes it too hard to get disgustingly rich from being a publishing or distribution platform. And if you do get disgustingly rich, you simply can't lock every movie theater into an exclusivity deal: anyone could run his own movie theater! And many other movie theaters are just a few keystrokes away! There are new ones every day.

Capitalism doesn't create permanent monopolies, government does. Capitalism tends to destroy monopolies. Just ask Kodak or AT&T or any other monopoly disrupted by innovative technology.

Anyway, Notch is making tens of millions of dollars on Minecraft, a video game sold directly to consumers.

Yeah, that's a great point about Notch. I think it goes along well with my point that theater-type production and distribution systems are reserved for the big guys. The smaller guys like Notch have their own channels and it has worked out very well for the most successful of them.

It is great that Mincraft is as successful as it is. But trying to say that gaming would exist as is without the backing of big companies as is is a joke. Minecraft caters to a niche market.

I'm pretty sure Notch couldn't have cranked out Skyrim on his own, and WoW wouldn't have been developed by a small group of people as a hobby project on their own time. Large and complex games and systems and the like take lots of money to produce a product people will want to play, and without big backing these type of games wouldn't exist.

Notch, among others, is the exception that proves the rule.

Thanks so much for the lengthy response - really cleared a lot of things up, but I had a few things to ask about:

1) So the main issue that we all have with these big production companies is that they make it difficult for small guys to get in on the movie game? But isn't that what things like Youtube and Vimeo are for? Distribution systems for the little guy?

I don't really think it's practical to want to put a significant amount independent developers into theaters. The reason the production companies are really oligopolists (few in number, but relatively great in power) in the industry is that is the best way to actually make the industry work. For example, it's not a very good idea to have 100 different power companies where you live because it is much more efficient and therefore better for society to have only one company. Similarly, it really isn't a great idea to have hundreds if not thousands of movies playing across the country at the same time - it brings up huge issues with coordination, advertising, movie quality, etc. These big production firms don't have the problems that you would have with having hundreds of smaller independent firms.

The smaller guys should be going for the distribution channels made for the smaller guys because that's how those channels were designed. The whole construction of the network of theaters around the world wasn't designed to have thousands of movies playing at the same time - it was designed to have a few big movies playing at the same time. And the only way you're going to get a few big movies is if you have only a few firms that are able to make these big movies.

2) Just as a quick point on economics, capitalism doesn't create monopolies. It's the part of our economy that isn't capitalistic that creates monopolies. We obviously don't live in a purely capitalistic society as a whole - it's more monopolistically competitive and in some parts, oligopolistic. It is oligopolistic in those parts where it is most efficient to do so (like in the big name movie production and distribution industry).

> The whole construction of the network of theaters around the world wasn't designed to have thousands of movies playing at the same time

You're presupposing that the traditional movie theater is an enterprise that has an inalienable right to exist.

It doesn't :-)

Disruptive technology is called "disruptive" for this very reason.

Thanks to cheap big screen TVs and digital distribution, the movie business is being disrupted.

Near me, lots of theaters have gone out of business recently. Other new ones have popped up that are now selling beer and food during the film. Still others are showing fewer blockbusters, but more classics and inviting directors, actors, and other crew to hold QnA sessions after the screenings.

In the short term, damage is done, jobs are lost, businesses fail. In the long term, scar tissue forms and society rebuilds, better than it was before. It's all a bunch of grand experiments. Who knows what will stick?

> capitalism doesn't create monopolies

It most certainly does create monopolies AND oligarchies. Just look at history. Some other reply to me suggested it was government's fault. Yeah that too. Also see history :-)

> For example, it's not a very good idea to have 100 different power companies where you live because it is much more efficient and therefore better for society to have only one company

This is a pretty different discussion.

In terms of ideology, I'd consider myself a social libertarian. I believe that the government should do only really two categories of things:

1) Act as a check/balance on businesses (ie. make sure my food is safe to eat & that no one organization goes around destroying the greater good for personal gains)

2) Provide municipal services where there is either (A) conflict of interest (eg. health insurance) or (B) unsatisfiable constraints to sustain business (eg. no one will deliver mail to a 10 person town; or road construction)

However, the problem is that when technology changes, government needs to be able to rapidly evolve it's involvement in both areas. Sadly, it seems incapable of rethinking any idea without a full reboot (cough bloody revolution) or a fist full of lobbying dollars.

For example: Today, I support the government's control of road construction. If teleporters are invented tomorrow, I would demand that the government immediately develop a plan for reducing and ultimately eliminating their involvement in transportation.

If it's more efficient, how come they are complaining so much about how they're struggling to make money? P2p is way more efficient than what they want (build+power+staff theatres, rental stores, retail stores, manage supply chains, etc.)

The Internet wins and will always win.

It isn't about efficiency. It's about giving stuff away for free versus charging for it.

As one guy above put it, if you lay out a bunch of hotdogs on a table and let people take them for free, you'll give out a whole lot more than the guy next to you who is charging for them and handing them out one by one.

Youtube and vimeo probably weren't originally designed as "distribution systems for the little guy", so much as "I want to share this cat video/student film". The point being that they weren't meant to be a distribution system any more than a DVD in and of itself is a distribution system. They're a type of media which makes the work of distribution systems easier. Blogs were, at the time, the distribution system, and youtube/vimeo were a new, easy to use media that made distributing to a wide audience easier (no more 'codec' issues, etc.)

The fact that they have become distribution systems in their own right is a testament to the fact that content creators will always create, and will try to distribute their creations in any way that they can. People will often use something counter to it's original design, and it's smart companies that can recognise that use and restructure their operation around it.

The problem isn't that only the big guys get into the cinemas - in a free market, that might still be the case. The problem is that the little guys can't get into the cinemas, no matter how high the quality of their product. The only way that they can is by bowing down and paying fealty to the big studios who didn't actually contribute anything to the production.

The problem that the big companies are encountering now is that new media has been showing up which works without their tightly controlled distribution methods. Want to make a TV series? You no longer have to sell it to a studio or be stuck on some form of local station. You can distribute it yourself, to more people than the traditional methods would ever allow, and you can do it easier. The problem that the studios have is that you no longer need to be on a TV show or in a cinema to get seen. They're not entirely irrelevant yet, but they're no longer the only way to view content.

The problem with piracy is that people are taking the job of distribution out of the hands of the people who either created or paid for the rights to distribute it. It's a big blow for companies that add no real value other than distribution, which is why they're claiming massive losses and jobs lost. They can't reconcile the idea that you can make as much money (if not more) by selling the same product at a lower cost to a wider audience. The pirates saw an opportunity and stepped in. Once the big companies can figure out how to adapt their business models to meet what consumers actually want, they'll start to make a profit, and everyone will be all the better for it.

The last thing that this opening of the market (and that's what this internet revolution is) means is that quality will increase. Once distribution isn't a case of "You get what you're given, and you'll thank us for it", then the producers of content will have to start competing not in price but in quality for the consumer's dollar. People can pick what they want to watch when, now. They don't have to catch it at the cinema or have to go without until it makes it to DVD. To make them want to watch something at the cinema, then the product actually has to be worth watching at a cinema. If you want someone to pay money for your DVD box set, you have to make it worth spending money on. If there's something getting produced which you can get for cheaper, in a way that's more convenient to you, then the content would have to be amazing to get you to pay for the more expensive option.

Anyway, this has been a long, rambly rant. I'm hoping that I didn't cloud issues too much, or tangent too often, or outright contradict myself. Every word I wrote, I meant at the time I was writing it.

This answers deserves a good article on its own.

That's why you need new models to promote and monetize movies. Piracy without compensation is of course not viable, but so is not the current "overcharge for zero-cost-digital copy so we can pay exorbitant promotions for mediocre movies" (e.g. avatar's 1/3 of the cost was promotion)

You can't think that you are paying for a no-cost digital copy. You are paying for a copy of a production that took over a year and millions of dollars to create! You wouldn't argue that you should only have to pay half-price for milk because half of the milk company revenues were spent on advertising, right?

if you're a consequentialist then you only care about outcomes. Every economic analysis I've seen indicates piracy rate does not affect the returns to creators.

I'm sure the economic analyses are well thought out, but isn't it just common sense that some proportion of those people who download content for free would have purchased that content had they not been able to download it for free? That would obviously mean decreased revenues for the content creators...

The main reason I brought up the end game stuff was because the article gave me the feeling the TPB doesn't want Hollywood to exist any longer. They are talking about the people that allow Hollywood to make money as if those people are criminal scum that are just selling plush toys and anorexia. Just thought it was an interesting scenario to consider given the apparently largely negative feelings toward Hollywood's existence.

> but isn't it just common sense that some proportion of those people who download content for free would have purchased that content had they not been able to download it for free?

Probably some portion very close to 0%. It's a hard problem to define without having unfiltered access to everyone's mind. Regardless of what measurement you use, I suspect things like DRM, slow download speeds, slow shipping, bad cinema experiences, etc. have caused more loss in revenue than piracy. I also suspect that for many forms of media (particularly music and software), piracy has been a significant contributor to many producers' success.

That's a really interesting take on it - thanks so much for responding. I never thought about how all of the issues with trying to stop piracy could have decreased revenues as well.

Really wish we could get some numbers on this to see if your arguent has backing.

It's true that some pirates would have paid if they hadn't been able to pirate. But that's not the whole story: sometimes getting media for free makes people more inclined to buy it or related media later. I've heard on Hacker News that free music distributions can create an audience for live concerts. Another example is "freemium" software and services. At least one study (that I'm too lazy to look up) found that some people will pirate music to try it and then buy it if they like it. So you can't determine from theory whether piracy leads to less or more revenue; you need real data.

I really like that argument and actually hope it would prove to be true - would completely change a significant part of the industry.

However, it is by definition of US law illegal to pirate copyrighted content, so regardless of whether or not we think it is a benefit to content production and distribution companies for us to pirate their content, it is always going to be illegal.

> it is always going to be illegal.

No, it will be illegal only as long as the majority is of the opinion that it should be illegal.

Honestly, this argument is REALLY weak. Hollywood spends millions of dollars to create these movies. To pirate it and not compensate the companies involved is irresponsible, selfish and ignorant -- it is stealing. There is is great amount of financial investment that goes into creating these movies. Today with the internet, the distribution avenue exists for people to produce and self publish, independent of Hollywood, but there is so much more to creating a successful movie: expensive sets, actors' salaries, special effects, post processing, marketing, the list goes on... In order to be successful these movies require great financial outlay and to expect the final product to be free is ridiculous. If these people really believe in free movies and music, they'd boycott Hollywood productions (they very stuff they call 'trash') and instead trade independent creations where the artist or writer chooses to give it away.

This argument is not about freedom of exchanging original ideas or even sharing bits of "copyrighted" information, it's about the wholesale stealing of movies which took a great deal of time money and effort to create, even if they are considered 'trash'. In the end, TPB and it's users only pander to the "culture" that they supposedly so despise by consuming such media, they just don't like paying for it.

The "great game" referenced (Civilization, at least the most recent version: 5), is ironically available to download on The Pirate Bay. I suppose this is not worth paying Sid Meier and the development studios he worked with to create this game either.

Pretty much the only thing I don't disagree with are the buried statements about Fox News and the media's control over the public opinion and the inhumane conditions in foreign factories.

FWIW, I OPPOSE SOPA and PIPA, I called my congressmen and voiced my concern today, the proposed law is useless to curb this behavior, but will instead hurt those who DO want to freely exchange ideas and information.

No it's just copying. Copying is not "theft" or "piracy" unless you prove that there is a loss. Arguing that investment return should be a guarantee is kind of creepy. Honestly, story telling has never been so expensive.

There's always a rogue fringe in the population. No matter how many laws you introduce, these law are only going to inconvenience the majority of the population. America has this great trend of over-criminalizing everything and for what ? The content industry represents what, 1% of the GDP ?

I'm not saying that if everybody would use TPB is wouldn't be bad for the content industry but last time I saw their numbers, they never have made as much profit. If it weren't for TPB&friends, we would probably not have Spotify or Netflix because the pressure wouldn't be there. The rogue people have always been useful in history to challenge status quo and we should cut them some slack. This is where the freedom kicks in.

Also, by repeating these terms of "piracy" and "theft", you are playing right in the hands of the hollywood PR. It's not aligned with reality and oversimplifies the complexity of what is going on. That's why I'm reacting. I'm sick of seeing the same biased ideas repeated by intelligent people that sound exactly as coming from hollywood.

Please, can't we just have more tolerance for each-other ?

You are asking for more tolerance, but blindly ignoring the fact that artists are asking you to pay them for their content. Don't believe that? Or think downloading the music is acceptable as long as you go see them in concert?

Here is Anthony Hamilton who is a Grammy winner signed to RCA Records tweeting an hour ago asking to please not bootleg his music: https://twitter.com/#!/HamiltonAnthony/status/15984085001528...

Also asking for an investment on a return is creepy? Isn't that kind of what you do for work? I'm investing in the fact I'm going to get paid at the end of the month in return for time I put in at the office every week.

Don't generalize artists. Of all the artists I know in person (a couple dozen; many of them published and touring) none of them support this legislation, and some are radical opponents of intellectual property.

I'm not saying at all they support SOPA, I am saying that I'm sure most of them would like you to pay for their music instead of downloading it for free, just like you or I would like to be paid at the end of the day for our work.

Also I'm not sure why I'm being down voted, but why is it that everyone believes artists/musicians etc, just in the last 10 years or so don't deserve to be paid now that their works are easily duplicatable via the internet? Just because we don't like the big music companies and how they do business doesn't seem to justify not paying for music. We all seem to hate Comcast and AT+Ts service, yet we still pay them because there isn't an easy way to get free cellphone service, or free internet to our houses. So using piracy as a way to 'stick it to the man' sounds like a cop out and a reason to get free music, otherwise you would be boycotting Comcast and your cellphone company too.

> I'm not saying at all they support SOPA, I am saying that I'm sure most of them would like you to pay for their music instead of downloading it for free

No, then you really seem to have never met artists. 90% of these bands have albums that are downloadable through SoundCloud or other mediums. They share they stuff very openly, and are huge pirates themselves, and support the Remix culture in multiples ways.

CDs for them are merch. Their money come from playing in venues and holding day jobs. And there's nothing too terrible about that.

No one here even discussed the thought that musicians don't deserve to be paid. Wide-scale piracy is not a way to "stick it to the man." This is not a teen angst movement. Pirating is so massively done because it's convenient. There aren't millions of people out there who hate Sony or Virgin and download music/videos just to cause them to lose potential profits.

Juxtaposing a communication service (ATT/Comcast) to a "product" (music) is not even a valid comparison. You can't pirate ATT/Comcast; maybe you can pirate software they have developed, but that's about the extent that you can compare them.

I apologize if this is double post, my connetion cut out.

This is true. Which is why I wish all of these long winded essays from The Pirate Bay and others along the lines of 'information wants to be free', really would just be replaced by 'I want what I want when I want it, and as cheap as I want it'.

Piracy by people in the US is still huge even though a lot of major content is easily available via Netflix, iTunes, Amazon et al. But that is always going to lose out when it is being given away for free somewhere else.

Yet, some artists and developers are happy to release downloads straight after the release. Some are happy for you to pay what you want, rather than some standard retail price.

To your Anthony Hamilton anecdote, I throw in an anecdote about artists just asking to leave your recorder on the stage for better effect (Phish if I remember correctly), or you know... just selling the bootleg after some time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lillywhite_Sessions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootleg_recording

Yup, it is great Phish lets you record their livesets, it is their choice. It is also the choice of Anthony Hamilton to ask you not to copy his new CD without paying for it. Artist choice, not consumer.

As soon as you refer to copying as "theft" you lose me. Society can function just fine with unlimited PirateBay activity. It already does! Society cannot function with unlimited real-life thievery. QED

> * Society can function just fine with unlimited PirateBay activity. It already does! Society cannot function with unlimited real-life thievery.*

What does "unlimited" mean here? Does it mean "if everybody torrented" and "if everybody stole"?

If so, you're basically stating that there should be no IP. How would a writer or filmaker make money then? After they wrote a book, would they just publish it online and hope to stay ramen profitable by running ads in the background? But wait! That wouldn't even work... because if everybody torrented, nobody would even see the advertisements on the creator's website!

If LouisCK released his video "Live at the Beacon Theater" and nobody bought it, and everybody torrented it, would Louis be likely to release another one without DRM?

Would society truly "function just fine" if the creation of intellectual property netted the creator nothing? (I'm assuming that torrenting doesn't net the creator anything -- a valid assumption given the torrents I've seen)

Ah, of course, I'm misunderstanding your usage of the word "unlimited". Perhaps you meant that currently ThePirateBay is relatively "unrestricted"?

In that case, you're stating that at least some people will be willing to pay for intellectual property (and these people manage to keep the creators afloat), while there will not be enough people who will pay for physical property if stealing of physical objects were condoned. Why's that?

The convenience argument states that people are willing to pay for music if it's A) at a reasonable price and B) easy to obtain. If that applies to IP, why doesn't that apply to physical objects as well? It seems like you believe in the convenience argument, so I'll attack that right now. The convenience argument doesn't work with your proof at all. You're stating that the fundamental difference between IP and physical objects that causes a society that condones a stealing of the latter to "not function" is because stealing a bottle of Coke from CVS is easier than paying for it. Bullshit. Do you really think it's easier to steal?

Ah, maybe you don't believe in the convenience argument anymore. Tell me why people nowadays are still willing to pay for IP (even though they can get it off of ThePirateBay) but wouldn't be willing to pay for a physical item.

- Earth is flat

- If we free the slaves nobody will do the unpleasent work.

- Writer and filmaker will not make money without IP

- 64 Kbyte of ram should be enougth for anybody

The third one doesn't fit.

How would a writer or filmmaker make money if everybody torrented their works?

The first one doesn't fit, either. If the Earth were round wouldn't the people on the other side fall off?

(earth.shape != flat) != (earth.shape == round)

For the record, I don't believe copyright infringement equals theft.

The OP that I replied is correct with that claim. His proof, however, is wrong.

Here's a genuine question:

How would an artist make money if everybody pirated just as everybody stole? (I'm going off what the OP said.)

That question is mute. If you really need to hear a answer, they want. In this extream case there want be any people who make money with creating "art". This is probebly not how its going to turn out if there is no IP.

People will have to innovate. You have to get paid for the creation of your work not for the distribution. Kickstarter is an idea. People are already starting to blog or podcast for free and then make more and more money with it. You can earn money with selling t-shirts and stuff (this is what many bands allready do).

Its all about innovation, I think we would live in a better but diffrent world overall. That said we cant not just talk away patents and copyright in one instance. We have to start with reducing the copyright and reworking the patent system, plus we have to treat copyright infringement justly (ie not with 5 years of prison).

> That question is mute. If you really need to hear a answer, they want. In this extream case there want be any people who make money with creating "art". This is probebly not how its going to turn out if there is no IP.

I don't have a problem with the OP's position. I have a problem with his argument: it's fallacious. Enticing at first, but upon scrutiny, it doesn't hold water.

Society can function with unlimited theft from bike shops, so theft from bike shops isn't really theft.

You've merely proven that copyright infringement is not bicycle theft. I think we all agree on that.

I think his point was that only bike shops would collapse. Society would be just fine. That doesn't mean we shouldn't protect bike retailers from theft.

> Hollywood spends millions of dollars to create these movies. To pirate it and not compensate the companies involved is irresponsible, selfish and ignorant -- it is stealing

I think the point being made (albeit badly - through one poor analogy) is that society gains more through the distribution of 'creativity' than it does through ensuring that artists are fairly compensated.

I'm not entirely in either camp, however I would say to you that 'compensation' is never well applied. There are millions of artists who have changed the world and have made little to no money off their inventions. On the other hand there are many who have also made little contribution to the world, but profit hugely from incredibly meagre creations (often off the back of other, real inventions).

Why stop at stealing? Why isn't pirating a movie also rape, murder, armed robbery and polygamy, and any other crime it doesn't fit the definition of?

How many times am I allowed to watch a movie after I buy it?

Imagine now that I _buy_ the movie. Can I watch it with my friends? Or do they have to pay the movie too? If they pay _me_ then I'm a pirate. If they don't, are they pirates?

If nobody payed for the movie than me and my friends who watch it are all pirates. Except that I didn't buy it because someone in the "extended circle of my friends that I've never met" gave it to me. At least that's how I'm pretending it to be.

Now it's not entirely like this but this is the problem with the Internet Hollywood doesn't like. You can interact with people you've never met very easily and pretend that they're your friends.

I completely agree. It's time for all of the pirates to stop justifying their stealing by putting up the facade of protecting online freedoms in front of the obvious primary motive, not paying for content.

Steal if you want to, but stop trying to call it something else.

  > It's time for all of the pirates to stop justifying
  > their stealing by putting up the facade of protecting
  > online freedoms
Does this mean you feel it's ok to take away our freedoms just so long as it's in order to fight piracy?

  > Steal if you want to, but stop trying to call
  > it something else
So anyone that insists that copyright infringement be called copyright infringement is "just a pirate trying to justify their theft?" That's a false dichotomy if I've ever seen one.

I don't take TPB's "press releases" too seriously, and I don't think they do either. It's interesting to hear how Hollywood came about but not significant or relevant to what TBP does. As far as arguments for piracy go, there was a much better submission here earlier today:


I'm actually shocked TPB hasn't participated in the blackout themselves. They made it clear they're international, but SOPA/PIPA are international too.

Edit: I wasn't very clear, what I really meant to say was that I'm shocked TPB hasn't acknowledged blackout day somehow, especially considering how often they change their image.

I suspect TPB did not black out because they will not shut themselves down in response to pressure from the US Gov't.

Even though they might make a living, I don't think they see TPB as a business. Instead, I think they see it as a mission, or a calling. I glean from the tone of their writing that they are convinced they are doing good in the world.

The pirate bay being blocked is the intended result of SOPA/PIPA. Reddit, Wikipedia, and Google getting blocked by SOPA/PIPA are the unintended consequences.

Possibly because they are one of the few sites that are effectively immune to SOPA. And TPB being blacked out would just play the SOPA people into their hands and prove their point.

The claim that Hollywood was created to evade Edison's patents is dubious.

According to "A history of narrative film" by David A. Cook "The reason why a full-scale Eastern-based industry moved its entire operation to southern California during these years has never been completely clear, but the general contours of the phenomenon are obvious enough". He then lists these reasons:

- the type of temperate climate required for year-round production (most shooting was done outdoors at the time)

- a wide range of topography within a 50 mile radius

- the status of Los Angeles as a professional theatrical center

- a low tax base

- cheap and plentiful labor and land

Not sure I understand the point beyond the initial foundation of Hollywood. If this was say Linux vs. Windows they would have a point, but to say "...we crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man..." when they're talking about content created by these profitable companies it makes no sense and it seems like they're trying to make it into some sort of moral crusade for freedom. Strange.

The profitable companies are not really the creators of the content, are they? Did DC create The Watchmen, or was it Alan Moore?

A consumer-pays-in-advance subscription model would provide better price signals to the real creators, wouldn't it?

Film studios specifically try to organize things so that the company that creates the content never turns a profit.

Supplying a Wikipedia link today seems silly, but you could Google "Hollywood Accounting".

(oh what the hey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting)

Funded by isn't the same as created by. Granted, without these companies there to throw massive amounts of money at writers/directors/actors, then we probably wouldn't have much of the content that we do today (at least not how it is). That doesn't mean that culture can't exist without them.

Anyway, these companies (on the music side in particular) love to talk about the "poor starving artists", but fail to change their own habits to give those artists a better deal.

They aren't content creators. They're content funders and distributors, but the content would still be created in some form without them. In this sense, the pirate community does actually perform one of the actions (distribution), and seems to perform it much more efficiently than the big companies. They just haven't got the 'funding' part figured out yet, but when they do, that will truly signal the death of the majors.

(P.S. No, it won't - nothing will truly kill them, but it will at least give them genuine competition)

The Pirate Bay is held up as the ultimate example of what SOPA aims to kill. However, isn't it hosted out of Swedish Parliament (http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-to-run-tpb-from-parliam...)? Aren't we in essence attacking a friendly government, and consequently afraid of pissing them off politically?

There's nothing about the US's past behavior which suggests that we're afraid of pissing off friendly countries. :) We're a bunch of international bullies, basically.

Actually, no, TPB is not hosted from the Swedish parliament. The Pirate Party did not manage to scramble the votes needed to get into parliament, and thus are unable to host any servers there.

"The word SOPA means "trash" in Swedish. The word PIPA means "a pipe" in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence."

An interesting statement overall, but sentences like the one above have to make you wonder how seriously TPB is thinking about the issue.

Not very it would seem given that "pipa" does not mean "pipe" in the sense TPB are using it but rather only in the sense of a "pipe for smoking". A pipe in the sense TPB use it would be "rör". But relating the combination "trash" and "pipe for smoking" to their line of reasoning seems at least a little harder/more far fetched.

Well, "pipa" also means muzzle, which is perhaps a bit closer to their analogy.

Could someone copy/paste the text of the blog entry here? I am in a country (Denmark) that already has DNS-blocking and I can't access The Pirate Bay (without changing my DNS settings... and I am too lazy to do that right now).


Perhaps it is not banal to say "INTERNETS" if you are indeed writing about the problem of network fragmentation?

The kind of people who are so worried about "internet piracy" also want to sterilize poor people

"our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA."

Well, John Calhoun's, anyway. If you don't like the rules everyone has agreed to play by, go make your own.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Read this -- http://goo.gl/643Wv -- for a real understanding of "freedom" and "equality" and "law".

Or just look it up on Wikipedia when they come back up.

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