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Why this Silence About The Pirate Bay as a Distributor of Culture? (torrentfreak.com)
75 points by Pr0 1785 days ago | hide | past | web | 101 comments | favorite

It's entertainment, and who says entertainment has to be free? My local strip club doesn't let people watch for free (even though each additional person costs them nothing). Where is the big outcry over that?

Some of the rationalizations around Pirate Bay are just awful. I don't watch movies, play games, or buy albums anymore, largely because I don't have that kind of time. I don't feel "disconnected from society" because I can't "share in that culture."

No one is saying entertainment has to be for free. You made up.

Who said its just entertainment? Again, you made that up.

Culture is not the same as entertainment at all.

I find it depressing that you think every one, including say culturally oppressed Saudis and isolated women, have to think like you do with your presumably culturally and politically free society. Culture is available to you and what ever you try to say, you are part of it and absorb it. Maybe you have had your fill of conscious absorption, but I notice you have had the luxury of it in past years. Not so for many, many other people.

I'm glad you have those freedoms. Im glad I too have those freedoms. Shame neither of us don't represent the situations of every one else on this planet. Perhaps one day we will. But not now by any stretch. But right now, for millions, sites like TPB allow our cultures to infiltrate the rest of the planet. Given that it seems the primary purpose of the US is to promote US or Western style freedom and democracy across the world, what better propaganda machine is there than BitTorrent and sites like TPB?

And get this, people choose, hear that, choose to absorb Western culture. No guns, none of your 18% spending on a war machine. No bombing back to the stone age, no drones or wire taps. No James Bond, Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne, although they love them too. Just ordinary people sucking up Western culture and there for, values. Every time an Arab or Chinese watches a copy of Fringe, or what ever, they are one micro step closer to us. And they get to survive it!!!

Its the spread of ideas, not stupid entertainment. I find that reduction quite ignorant.

Well said sir. This is also why these countries have firewalls and rules against watching foreign movies/music. My Iranian friend told me that music is illegal in Iran. As well as movies. He told me he watched Friends in Iran and it made him want to come study in Canada. Of course after that he was disappointed to see that things are not exactly like Friends over here.

Terrible, terrible analogy. The strip club has limited space in which to fit patrons. If you sneak in for free, you're taking up a spot that an otherwise paying customer would fill. When you copy the bits that comprise a movie or a song, you are not denying anybody else that copy of the movie or song. Taken to an extreme, if I hear a song on the radio and I later recall that song, perhaps even performing it in my shower, I have not stolen anything, although by anti-piracy advocates's standards I basically have. Hogwash.

So as long as the strip club is not (expected to be) packed, it's ok to sneak in? I'd love to move in your area.

"When you copy the bits that comprise a movie or a song, you are not denying anybody else that copy of the movie or song." Terrible, terrible argument. Taken to an extreme, there should never be more than one paying customer for every piece of digital (or convertible to digital) content ever created. Hogwash.

Taken to an extreme, there should never be more than one paying customer for every piece of digital (or convertible to digital) content ever created

It's easy to forget, but patronage was the primary form of funding for the arts for the vast majority of human history. Commercialized media outside of books and newspapers is probably only a hundred years old. There are many benefits to consumerization of art, but a single paying customer is clearly sufficient.

"It's easy to forget, but patronage was the primary form of funding for the arts for the vast majority of human history."

You must mean "civilization's history" (~6,000 years), not "human history" (~200,000 years).

Throughout the history of civilization, peasantry, serfdom, and outright slavery were the primary source of labor, and provided the wealth that the very small patron class spent on art for themselves. Artists under patronage didn't create what they wanted. They created what their patrons wanted. Some was great, to be sure, but the comparatively narrow range of human expression from this period stands in sharp contrast to the cultural explosion that took place when modern economies allowed artists to follow their muses well beyond the suffocating folds of the aristocracy, which was chiefly interested in creating markers of its own power and domination.

This is not to say that industrialization set creative genius entirely free. As a practical matter, publishers and producers became the patrons by financing the development and production of work in hopes of selling access on a larger market. The critical difference is that the personal tastes and interests of the publishers gave way to those of the far more diverse general public. Thus, the astonishing creative explosion which began in the 19th century, and characterizes the 20th century. By killing off these middlemen, you destroy a vital link in this infrastructure in that you loose the people with concentrated piles of cash who are willing to underwrite the very risky and unpredictable process of artistic creation, and who do so not for their own enjoyment and social elevation, but for the much wider (paid) enjoyment of the general public.

Since this modern system of commercial patronage appeared, it utterly eclipsed everything that came before, in terms of output. Royal patronage is hardly an option in a country like America. Patronage by the Church isn't what it used to be. Corporate patronage is better known as "advertising", and patronage by the 0.01% is also out of the question unless you're exceedingly well-connected socially. Kickstarter is a great idea, and a welcome contribution, but comparing the projects there with the range of completed work on Amazon, and I'll think you'll start to appreciate the limits.

People are justifiably disenchanted with publishers in light of their abusive practices. But it's worth remembering that the scale of the abuse was a direct reflection of the deeper value they provided. And duplication and distribution, as it turns out, was the least of it. Yes, that's where they recovered their money. But the real cultural value was in their power to commission, and their willingness to put more freedom and control in the hands of artists than anyone had ever granted in the past. When you talk about "going back" to old systems it sounds a lot like telling suburbanites that they need to "go back" to sharecropping. In many ways, this reflects the broader economic trend that's actually playing out, in which a few enormously wealthy people tower over increasingly impoverished masses while the middle class flat-lines before going into reverse.

To my mind, this isn't something to celebrate.

To my mind, this isn't something to celebrate.

I said "sufficient", hardly a celebration.

it utterly eclipsed everything that came before, in terms of output

Making 1000 times as much art isn't 1000 times as valuable. There is limited time for it to be enjoyed, and limited cultural source for it to be based on, so greatly increased output results in a lot of work that no one cares about. It also finds some "diamonds in the rough", but it's mostly smoke and no fire.

it sounds a lot like telling suburbanites that they need to "go back" to sharecropping

I'm not sure what makes this topic so prone to analogy, but their use rarely helps the conversation. Here's the root of the problem: copyright is no longer enforceable. You can throw a tantrum, tell us all how unhappy we will be, sue six year olds for hundreds of thousands of dollars, make complicated software that pretends to manage your digital rights, but ultimately it will be of no use. The only thing that will be of use is finding a new business model that doesn't rely on copyright enforcement.

Here's the root of the problem: copyright is no longer enforceable. You can throw a tantrum, tell us all how unhappy we will be, sue six year olds for hundreds of thousands of dollars, make complicated software that pretends to manage your digital rights, but ultimately it will be of no use.

IOW, the answer to "why do we pirate" is "because we can with little risk of being caught". I would respect more piracy proponents if they just said so instead of trying to come up with moral rationalizations like "it's ok because you are not denying anybody else the copy".

I think that people say denying anybody else the copy when copying is equated to property theft. I'm pretty sure that "no one can honestly stop us" has been the basis of piracy since Bill Gates first called copiers "pirates".

[ http://www.digibarn.com/collections/newsletters/homebrew/V2_... ]

It's not property theft, it's akin to labor and resource theft; content creation does not come for free.

The point is not sheer volume. It's that the market for which this volume was produced has tastes and interests vastly more diverse than the narrow spectrum of interest to the aristocracy. Also, within this arrangement, the artist himself has vastly more liberty, since the patron (i.e. the publisher) is far less interested in controlling the work itself, and far more interested in what sells. Audiences, in turn, trust the taste and inspiration of the artist, which puts the creative ball squarely in his court.

Put these factors together and you'll find that creation itself encompasses a far greater range, and with that, the sum of human culture and knowledge grows exponentially.

Here's the problem with telling creators and publishers that they - and they alone - need to be the ones to "find another business model".

There is only one business model to find, which is this: Offer something people want. If they decide to take it without paying for it, fuck them up. And that's it. Everything else is charity.

Obviously, a well-run state divides this labor. A person stealing from a grocer doesn't usually get damaged by the grocer personally. The grocer just call the cops, who take care of all the nasty work involving guns and jails and heavy fines, etc. On a higher level, contracts get disputed in court, and people who default suffer a different range of penalties. But make no mistake. They suffer palpable harm. That's the whole point.

In the real world, among actual humans, the decision to buy is based on TWO factors: Do I want this? And must I pay? If the answers are yes and yes and the person has money, you've got business. But if they can simply take what they want for free, then a sizable percentage will. Not all, but enough to drive you out of business when word gets out. The whole reason we have laws courts and cops is to counter this. But somehow, only artists are expected to do business without being able to take their protection for granted.

Now you may be right in saying the copyright - as it stands - is no longer a viable means for inflicting the pain which backstops commerce of every kind. But what "finding a new business model" really means is finding a new vector for punishing those who'd destroy a business by taking instead of paying. And obviously, in a civilized country, punishment is the domain of the state, and they take a justifiably dim view of "private enforcement" (e.g. the Mafia).

That's why "finding a new business model" really isn't up to creators and creators alone. Under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, It's up to the people to take some responsibility as well. And that means deciding what enforcement mechanisms that can live with, making sure they're funded properly, and accommodating them to the extent necessary to be suitably effective. What they don't do is say "Fuck you, you're on your own - figure it out or die," unless they're insanely short-sighted or they truly want the target of their rage to die.

If they decide to take it without paying for it, fuck them up.

That's a pretty base understanding of business. You are correct, but it assumes that anyone who knows this is okay with the way you operate. In general, people are okay with prosecuting those who have taken physical property of value, but when the girl scouts get sued for singing songs at the campfire, people aren't so sure.

And really, the last half century of copyright enforcement has looked a lot more like the mafia than the government. VHS had an angry looking FBI warning, while people were trading mix tapes with their friends. It has been "private" enforcement in an attempt to prop up the business model, with only tolerance from the rest of society.

What they don't do is say "Fuck you, you're on your own - figure it out or die," unless they're insanely short-sighted or they truly want the target of their rage to die.

I'm not sure that I care whether "Hollywood" lives or dies. They make some nice stories, but there are a lot of bigger issues in life. It is not a "target of [my] rage", so much as it is the good looking, arrogant bully that's popular but sometimes hurts people. I don't even care that they want too much compensation for their goods, which I pay though cinemas, iTunes music and video, and NetFlix.

What I care is that now that the natural means of enforcing copyright (limited means of production) is gone, they are arguing to turn our society into a surveillance state to ensure that they get their due. This is absolutely, positively, undeniably, not okay. Even if they succeed in doing this to the United States, other countries will go to war with us to prevent this from happening to them.

Find a business plan that works without copyright or admit defeat.

I'm afraid you missed the point entirely. On Earth, there's only one business plan to find, and the humans found it ages ago. You are correct in stating that it is, at heart, a base proposition. No debate there. But as with sex, the facts remain stubbornly the same.

"You are correct, but it assumes that anyone who knows this is okay with the way you operate."

Bad news, Buttercup. We all operate like this - you included. I mean if you work for a company that's bigger than a breadbox, they're going to have a legal department, and this means that you, and everyone around you, enjoys livelihoods that are ultimately backstopped by the force of law. Not the "idea" of law. The force of law. The fact that your own hands aren't getting dirty doesn't mean that somewhere done the line from which your paycheck springs, people aren't paying for carrots because the option is a stick.

Now you can try and distort the issue of you like, limiting copyright to Hollywood, but the reality of the situation is much bigger. It covers every form of media - music, movies, television, books, games, plays, poems, textbooks, scores, photographs, illustrations, even architectural plans.

Perhaps you're some ignorant philistine who cares nothing for any form of culture, and has no interest in those who do. But for the vast majority of your fellow citizens, a world without these things would be a travesty. And people like you - who clearly haven't thought about this very carefully - are paving the way.

You say, for instance, that physical production was the natural means of enforcing copyright. This is wrong. Physical production allowed publishers to control supply, which is different. Copyright - which is entierly artificial - has always had one and only one mechanism for enforcement: the courts.

Granted, in the absence of physical media, it has been much harder to locate programs in places where the rule of law protects them. But these weren't barriers to enforcement so much as barriers to theft. When they drop, theft skyrockets, placing an unmanageable burden on everyone.

So I agree that we need reform. Where I disagree - sharply - is in the idea that producers need to "figure out a new business model" on their own since, there is only one business model to figure out, and in a state ruled by law, businesses and people are flatly prohibited from taking enforcement into their own hands.

No business can survive without the protection of the law, unless it handles enforcement in a criminal fashion. And since no society can tolerate this on an appreciable scale, it is incumbent upon people to ensure that the rule of law prevails where it's needed. If that means taking the additional effort to ensure that policing is handled in ways that are fair and non-abusive, so be it. That's the hard work of developing and maintaining civilization. These are problems we need to figure out.

But saying "Find a business plan that works without copyright or admit defeat." is the kind of thing only an asshole would say. Why? Because it removes you from the equation. It implies that this isn't your problem, that you, while living in a culture that enjoys the benefits of free and vibrant creativity, have no responsibility for any of it. And it implies that "defeat" is what gets suffered by some external, alien force, not the crown jewels of your own liberal, democratic, civilization. You don't like movies, fine. But of all this things covered by copyright (conveniently listed above) can you honestly say that you don't appreciate ANY of them?

I'm sorry to burst so many bubbles in one post, but in a government of the people, by the people, for the people, in which you are one of the people, it is very much your problem. You simply cannot be a passive spectator. Not here. If something dies because is wasn't suitably protected by law, then you - and everyone around you - share some responsibility. That's the burden of self-government.

Now you've said you're not willing to accept copyright. And you haven't disputed the basic facts of business. And I presume you're not willing to wash your hands of nearly every form of culture developed in the last two centuries which is what happen if every enterprise was reduced to the status of buskers.

So what are your ideas for inflicting the pain that is a necessary part of doing business among humans? What's the source? What's the vector? Taxes on ISPs that are enforced by the IRS? Taxes on property that are collected by the states? You've said what you won't do. But what WILL you do in terms of supporting the enforcement that no producer can legally provide for themselves? Anything? Do you have ANY ideas at all? Or are those of us on the production side trying to work with people who have abdicated their responsibilities for the defining the legal portion of any equation?

We're artists, for god's sake, not legislators. There are absolute legal limits on what we can and cannot do on our own. Telling me I need to figure out a business model that doesn't demand legal protection is the same as telling anyone they need to figure out a business model that doesn't demand legal protection. It's stupid, it's oblivious to the facts of life, and it needs to end.

Ultimately, this is your culture, from the trashy bits to the brilliant. If you want it to see another generation, you need to be part of the conversation surrounding its survival and development. Specifically, you need to be clear about what kind of protection you're going to offer the people who pour their lives into this. That's the deal. People who make the stuff are doing their part. Now kindly step up and do yours.

I mean if you work for a company that's bigger than a breadbox, they're going to have a legal department, and this means that you, and everyone around you, enjoys livelihoods that are ultimately backstopped by the force of law.

Your problem is that you don't realize the profound effect of free, perfect duplication of media. And you think that I haven't thought about this at all, probably because I don't share your professional experiences.

limiting copyright to Hollywood

Nope, never said that. If you were paying attention, I said "Find a business plan that works without copyright or admit defeat". People who sell software by the copy? Yep, they're screwed. People who sell books about comparative literature? Screwed. Budding photographer? I think you see where this is going. As you say, this covers all media. Pretty sure I was articulate in saying "media".

This becomes an argument about Hollywood because I haven't seen any professional photographers lobbying congress to record everything that happens on the Internet in case someone doesn't pay to use their photographs.

You say, for instance, that physical production was the natural means of enforcing copyright. This is wrong.

I'm sorry, but you've gone off the rails here. Where is the legal protection of food recipes (not the copyright of their text, but the performance of them)? Or combinations of clothing? It takes effort and skill to come up with good combinations, that investment should be protected. These things are not legally protected because anyone can do it, and so there is no means of enforcement. Copyright worked because printing presses were big and expensive, and the owners colluded to reduce market competition. It was essentially an opt-in system that was beneficial to participants. Modern copying is so trivial that nearly 100% of the time you don't even realize you're doing it. Even when you play by the DRM rules, there is plenty of intermediary copying being done on your behalf. How do you expect to enforce any of this?

that means accepting a framework that will MAKE you pay in the event you refuse to

I don't accept that. Laws are not so arbitrary, and indeed there are consumer protection laws to shield people from undue "enforcement". But you can't force people to pay for the smell of food, or their unauthorized performance of the latest pop hit in the shower, or copying data. To create a society in which enforcement of these is possible requires a distortion that does more damage to society than the property it protects.

eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Indeed, and it appears that you are on the wrong side of it.

EDIT: Wow, your comment is like twice as long now.

Now you've said you're not willing to accept copyright.

Actually, no. I have said that I pay for my copyrighten material. My argument not so shortsighted. My argument is that copyright is, essentially, doomed. If you are still able to enforce it now, you will not be able to enforce it real soon. I also said that you should come up with a new business plan, which you have violently rejected. Ultimately, that's cool... you'll just find your business to be increasingly less profitable until you have to make money some other way. It isn't a threat, it's a warning.

So what are your ideas for inflicting the pain that is a necessary part of doing business among humans?

Yes, let's start here. I get the impression that you're highly passionate about what you do, which is probably why I'm still replying. You want to continue to do so for the rest of your life, and possibly pass something on to your children. And to that end, you think that convincing me that I am wrong will help you. It won't. I'm the lighthouse telling the aircraft carrer to divert its course: honestly, it's your call.

But looking for a means of forcing people to obey your will is too brutish, simplistic, and obvious. It won't work. You need something that makes people feel good about how they rewarded someone who deserved it. There is both the stick and the carrot.

Do you have ANY ideas at all?

Well, not really. If I did, I would be the first person in line to start a business around it. Maybe it looks like advertising or product placement. Maybe films that are only shown in cinemas. Edward Bernays made money selling pianos by influencing contemporary homebuilding culture to include "music" rooms that people usually filled with pianos.

Telling me I need to figure out a business model that doesn't demand legal protection is the same as telling anyone they need to figure out a business model that doesn't demand legal protection. It's stupid, it's oblivious to the facts of life, and it needs to end.

You are really in the wrong forum to say things like that.

You need to be clear about what kind of protection you're going to offer the people who pour their lives into this. That's the deal. People who make the stuff are doing their part. Now kindly step up and do yours.

How is that my part? I understand most of what you're saying, but cut the dramatics and face the reality. We all pur our lives into what we do. Everyone, all over the globe. Just because what you do has been profitable for a small number of people over the last 50 years doesn't mean it will continue to be. To say you aren't responsible for your position of affluence reflects pretty negatively on you.

I really don't know how to spell this out in words of one syllable, but I'll try to keep this clear: no business survives in a legal vacuum. And every business model represents a symbiosis between itself and the law. The law provides protection, and the business produces wealth to sustain the state. In short, it takes two to tango. And the people - via their legislators - state what level of legal protection they're willing and able to provide. Given this basis, commercial interests operating work out the most optimal arrangements they can beneath this umbrella.

The point, which I've clearly clearly failed to communicate, is that this is how EVERY business works. Literally every single one. It's not just law they rely on either, of course. Business also depends on roads, bridges, air traffic control, stable currency, clean air and water, well regulated banks, I mean, the list goes on and on and on. And if the infrastructure goes to hell, so does the commercial layer on top. But within this matrix, the protection of the law is, perhaps the most critical, since its the one thing that absolutely cannot come from any source except the State and its (fully justified) monopoly on force.

What bothers me to no end is this constant refrain from people saying "figure out a business model" to which I say "no business model is possible in the absence of a legal model." Seriously, where are all the great policy ideas? When SOPA/PIPA blew over, did anyone think "Holy smoke, these guys can tell a good story but they REALLY don't know how to write good legislation. We simply cannot leave the development of effective legal models to the media industries themselves. Instead, we need to do our part for the culture by defining and implementing an acceptable governing framework so that the people who produce the stuff we all enjoy can continue to do so effectively."

You know, government of the people, by the people, for the people? I mean, what? You're going to ask the entertainment industry to write your legislation for you? Are you crazy? Our creaky analog-era law isn't great, but it's all we've got and it's better than nothing. And given the raging sense of entitlement that surrounds us, it looks like it's all we're going to get, so it's what we'll have to make do with until sanity prevails or we die waiting.

Modernization of the law that protects the interests of creators isn't special protection, by the way. This is really about getting something commensurate with the basic rule of law that every other business enjoys, and without which, no business survives (black market trades backstopped by criminal enforcers excepted). And I think a lot of the more ridiculous terms (century + copyrights, for instance) would be given up in a heartbeat if there was protection that allowed people to recoup investments in stuff that lives online.

Seriously, two decades after the internet appeared, and there's been no serious policy response that protects creators that has come from anyplace other than the lobbyists we've hired ourselves. It's almost like no one else gives a shit whether we live or die. Free content has been an enormous driver for the tech industry, but there's been zero social responsibility. You'll happily bleed the thing you love to death then complain when it finally collapses and dies.

A friend of mine who has got an Oscar and several Grammys compared it to an ignorant mob storming into an ancient vineyard, chopping down everything they could get their hands on, building a big bonfire, getting rip roaring drunk around the ensuing blaze then looking up from the ashes and ruin in shocked amazement and surprise when they're told there isn't going to be any more.

The cultural machine is like a rain forest or a coral reef. It's taken centuries to develop. When it's gone, it doesn't simply spring back because everyone suddenly sobered up and realized that they made a a tremendous mistake (wait, clear cutting Yosemite was a bad idea? Whoops!)

This isn't creative destruction. It's just destruction. It's madness. It's wrong. And it needs to end.

You seem to think that any law is enforceable and with that basis, your arguments make more sense. But if I successfully lobbied and passed a law saying that anyone who swore, in public or in private, owed me a nickel, that law wouldn't last long. People wouldn't obey it, and sufficient application of force and surveillance to successfully enforce would only result in riots in the streets. There is more to lawmaking than desire.

The problem is that technology has changed our reality. Making the artifact of media used to be difficult, hence profitable, centralized, and regulatable. In that context, protection is easy and acceptable. If a rogue publisher bucked the system, you could march in, trash his equipment and send the other publishers a signal. Now the equipment is in the pocket of hundreds of millions of people, for completely different reasons that are more important than movies.

This TPB article is about one form of online sharing that is actually pretty easy to track. What you need to consider is offline sharing, which is next to impossible to track. Today's desktop hard drive can store roughly 2,000 movies, which with proper curation is basically every movie that matters. In five years, hard drives should be able to store 16 times that - certainly every movie and song that matters. Families will keep an encrypted heirloom drive of every piece of media they value, and share it when no one is looking. If searched, they would present a different file listing.

What will you do then? How can you regulate something that you cannot see? You can try to burn a couple of offenders at the stake, but that's only going to make you look like a monster. I wish that I had an answer for you, but I don't yet, and neither is it my responsibility to have one. I can only tell you that times are changing. This constant refrain of finding a new business model is not to throw you out of the castle, but to warn you of the coming storm.

The truth is that as much as we would like to help, as profitable as it would be to help, we can't figure out how to prevent copying. As far as we can tell, no one can prevent copying without outlawing computers entirely. So no, we are not an ignorant mob storming the vineyard. We are an intelligent mob trying to save those old vines from the coming eternal frost, and hoping that someone figures out how to grow them somewhere else. The destruction is out of our control. Apple and Amazon are doing the best jobs with the iTunes and Kindle stores, but even those look like passing fads when you could have a local copy of every movie, song, and book that has ever been notable.

I hope that you realize that I would love to help you, WE would love to help you, if we had any idea how. Every VC would fund someone who could make this happen. All that we know right now is that legislation will not work, and will have vicious unintended consequences.

Anti-copying legislation won't work - I grant you that - but this is hardly the extent of all legislative possibility.

What the media industries need is a box office. A point where people pay up front, then get the show delivered. And if everything is available everywhere all the time, then there needs to be a tax on life that covers the costs of what they do.

Essentially , it's about creating a giant pool of money and a giant pool of media. People can stream, copy, play, or have, whatever they like for free. Corporations, on the other hand, must pay. If you're a store, and advertiser, a movie theater, a school, a business, a church - any entity that exists by virtue of a corporate charter must risk loosing that charter if they don't stream everything they touch through an auditable system that is used to distribute the pool of money according to the levels of interest that different things within it attract.

Corporate entities, unlike humans, don't (or shouldn't) have 1st or 4th Amendment rights. We should be able to treat them the same way we treat robots: artificial things designed specifically to serve. And corporate entities also operate in the tangible world, and are in a position to collect money to fill the pool through the course of their activities. Essentially, this is a special tax. If a company wants the benefits of operating in a thriving culture (of which there are many) they can do their part to support it by serving as de-facto box offices.

This is a rough idea, I know, and one that raises more questions than it answers. And it's not post-copyright in the sense that copyright would still function at the corporate level. What it shows is a way to think about paying for work in a Constitutionally permissible fashion while avoiding the nightmare scenario of total surveillance at the individual level.

This doesn't seem like a good deal for any involved. As sort of an NEA for movies with a popularity based disbursement instead of money up front. Not only will people complain about additional taxes or special interests (regardless of the long history of public art funding), but the customer (entity responsible for allocating funds) ends up being corporations and institutions. I doubt they will nurture the kind of art that you're looking to protect.

What about a voluntary optional pricing system, a la Reznor's Ghosts[1]? Lucas also made a substantial amount of money from merchandising, which is far easier to regulate[2].

Also, box office revenues are still high[3]. That only helps about a hundred films a year, but it still generates healthy revenue for major studios.

[1 http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/turn_it_up/2008/03/re... ]

[2 http://www.statisticbrain.com/star-wars-total-franchise-reve...]

[3 http://torrentfreak.com/pirates-hollywood-sets-10-billion-bo...]

What you're describing is a world with major leagues only. The farm leagues are what drops away, and over time, the whole thing weakens.

People at the top right now got their starts in the 1990's Indy boom. What you're seeing now is like the light from a distant galaxy. My point is that the commensurate runway for the here and now is caving in on itself.

"But Merchandising" is the worst argument ever, since the range of material that can work in this paradigm is astonishingly narrow.

Also, you're not getting reliable information from TorrentFreak. I'm sorry, but these people just aren't going to give you straight story. If they had any integrity, they'd account for inflation (adjusting for that, and the peak Box Office year was actually 2002). Also, they wouldn't cherry-pick by limiting their analysis to box office revenues while ignoring the declines from every other sales channel.

Here's a much more realistic look at what life is really like: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/business/la-fi-ct-fi.... Again, this is the future you're looking at. The starvation that's setting in at this level is what people who care about the future of these mediums should be focused on.

What's really awful about this is that vector for piracy isn't people swapping stuff among themselves. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. That's like playing music at parties. It's part of human life. The issue is sites that aggregate pirated content to make money selling advertising. Those are the people I want to see thrown in jail. And I want to fine the living shit out of the advertisers who appear there. Not that they chose the outlets - that's the work of their ad buyers who are invariably third parties. The point is to drive those fuckers out of business too by making sure advertisers suffer enough pain to ensure that their ads aren't being served on illegitimate sites. Once they start having to pay serious fines, they'll stop doing business with people who can't guarantee that their ads won't show up in shitty places.

Again, this isn't some guy sharing a DVD with his father-in-law. This is people building building layers of commercial enterprise around the amazing "free" resource that is pirated IP.

I'm sorry, but no fucking way. And this doesn't require an Orwellian police state to deal with. People making money in this scenario all have corporate offices and return addresses (e.g. Grooveshark). All that's needed is an arrest warrant and a hearing.

The problem isn't "some guy sharing a DVD with his father-in-law". Cheap hard drives capable of storing every movie worth watching already exist. Flash media capable of storing a year's worth of new interesting movies are about the same expense. Replace "a DVD" in your scenario with "every movie more than a year old" and it complicates your position. If lots of guys share "every movie more than a year old" with their fathers-in-law, who cares about sharing online? Sharing online is dangerous, and slow. Maybe you get the absolute latest media, but most of the latest media won't survive the test of time anyway.

You think that shutting down the ad supported streaming services will solve the problem, but they're small fry compared to what's coming. By the time I send my kids to college, they will take with them a phone capable of storing 2,000 TB: enough capacity for everything that has established classic value in human history, in their pocket. Everyone will. Recognizing that online sharing is slow and risky and mostly important for the last year's worth of unevaluated new media, they could basically forego the public Internet altogether during their studies.

They wouldn't be sharing media with their new friends because their friends would also already have everything that matters. They'll pay to watch the latest movies, but outside of box office sales no one will have any idea how popular movies actually are because there will be no external record of performances and the number of "copies" of a movie that exist will approach the number of personal computing devices.

Grooveshark generating revenue off of unlicensed media might sting, but in less than a decade the ability to know who has a copy of a piece of media and how many times it has been watched is going to disappear completely. It will certainly take an Orwellian state to enforce copyright then.

Copyright is totally enforceable, and it's enforced just fine right now.

Your big blind spot here is that you're thinking of copyright infringement as just downloading. Both when looking at whether it's right or wrong ("what's the harm if someone in Saudi downloads Pirates of the Caribbean?") and now from the enforcement standpoint. The real value of copyright, to content creators, is to keep a Google or Apple from coming along, digitizing every movie and song, and selling them for a nominal price to drive Android/iOS device sales.

Copyright is totally enforceable, and it's enforced just fine right now.

Seriously? If you believe this, there isn't much more I can say.

Dude, you have absolutely NO idea what you're talking about. I actually work in production. I know all about the role that copyright plays in keeping media companies honest (more or less) in their dealings with each other because I deal with that system every day. I promise you, this is not a "blind spot".

I wasn't replying to you... I quite agree with the points you made in this thread.

> Taken to an extreme, there should never be more than one paying customer for every piece of digital (or convertible to digital) content ever created.

Sounds bizarre, but used to be quite common, wealthy individuals commissioning a piece of art (music, a play, etc).

And of course kickstarter is paving the way for a mass pay before production business model for all sorts of different cultural endeavors (music, video games, films, etc).

I think copyright has been a net benefit to society over the last 100 years, but it has now become too unwieldy. Copyright was never "natural".

I don't know what strip clubs you go to, but most of them are only full friday/saturday nights. The venue is sized to handle those big crowds, but during the work week there is just a slow stream of regulars. Someone sneaking in for free on a Wednesday isn't taking a spot away from anyone. Heck, he might even buy a beer!

You're discounting the liability of letting people in to a physical establishment for free (bar fights, medial emergencies, guests not actually there to watch, etc). These are absent from media. There is also the difficulty of variable pricing at the door, where you still want to charge the previously paying customers but let in others for free. This is directly analogous, and while destructive to the content business, is not usually weighed against the public good of greater distribution.

The point is that the "there is no scarcity with digital distribution" argument isn't the slam-dunk people think it is. Even with physical services, things usually aren't at capacity. If you have a private lake and charge people to take out boats, someone sneaking in is probably not taking a spot from a paying customer. As a practical matter, digital distribution is not the only scenario in which scarcity is artificial. Yet, we generally believe that people are entitled to charge others for the privilege of utilizing a service they provide, even when the service is not at capacity and the marginal cost is negligible.

You can extend the analogy even to physical products. What you're saying when you argue that you should be able to copy music because it doesn't take anything away from someone else is that you should be able to get the music at its marginal cost of production, which is zero. By this analogy, why don't I have the moral right to get any other product s it's marginal cost of production, even if that is non-zero?

the marginal cost is negligible

The marginal cost to the creator is not negligible, it is absent. That's an important fundamental change that invalidates most arguments that parallel non-digital interactions. The only cost to the creator is the erosion of the paying market.

You're trying to create a categorical distinction between "negligible" and "absent" marginal costs that doesn't have any practical significance.

What if I went into a Prada store, took a handbag, and left an amount of money equal precisely to the marginal production cost of the handbag plus the cost of restocking the item. Is that morally justifiable? After all, the creator is no worse off than he was before. I haven't taken away an item from someone else--the money I left precisely compensates for manufacturing and restocking a new one for another customer. He has lost a potential sale to me, but who says I was going to buy it in the first place?

Most people would say the Coach example is not morally justifiable, but in purely economic terms the circumstances are identical. As long as the "taker" compensates the creator by an amount equal to the marginal cost (in the case of a digital music distributor, zero), the creator is no worse off than he was before. There is nothing magical about the transition from small marginal costs to zero marginal costs in economic terms.

You're trying to create a categorical distinction between "negligible" and "absent" marginal costs that doesn't have any practical significance.

There is a huge difference between ten million negligible and ten million absent, which is highly relevant to this discussion. If the benefit is negligible per person, and the cost is negligible, the social good is difficult to evaluate. If the benefit is negligible and the cost is nothing, then the social good is clear. If you can't see this, you can't be effective in this argument.

and left an amount of money equal precisely to the marginal production cost

Paying for something at cost is actually a net benefit to the creator. It reduces risk, increases market visibility, and lowers production costs by increasing volumes. Now, a business that doesn't make any profit is a difficult business to operate, but I'm not sure that it's morally wrong to pay for the marginal cost of production. Products are often sold at deep discount (probably not below cost) or are given away for the benefit of the creator.

> There is a huge difference between ten million negligible and ten million absent, which is highly relevant to this discussion. If the benefit is negligible per person, and the cost is negligible, the social good is difficult to evaluate. If the benefit is negligible and the cost is nothing, then the social good is clear.

This makes no sense. If you're just weighing the cost/benefit with respect to one particular incident, it's quite clear that the benefit one person gets from sneaking into a concert far outweighs the very marginal cost to the owner of any potential liability, trampling on grass, whatever. The latter can probably be measured in cents.

> Now, a business that doesn't make any profit is a difficult business to operate, but I'm not sure that it's morally wrong to pay for the marginal cost of production.

So you're saying that there is nothing morally questionable about taking a Coach bag and leaving an amount of money equal to the marginal production cost + restocking cost of that bag? Basically, you disagree with how the law protects the producer's right to profit from the transaction. Because that's exactly what happens when you illegally download media.

"The only cost to the creator is the erosion of the paying market."

Development and production was financed based on the existence of that market. When it erodes, the entire proposition collapses. To creators, the existence of a paying market is like the hull of a ship to a sailor. In both cases, erosion is very very bad.

Does this apply if the strip club is not full? What if you only sneak in during slow times?

Recently I've had the opportunity to hang out with kids of various big companies' CEO's, CFO's children. Multi-millionaire families by all accounts and all that.

Something that jumped out at me while talking to them was that they'd watched a lot of cinema classics that I, or my little siblings, had not -- I'm talking about Scorsese movies, Orson Welles movies, classics, Sergi Leoni films, spaghetti westerns, etc. etc.

It dawned on me that films, very much like books, really are very profound mediums of culture. Indeed you would be most remiss if you were to deny that film cinema, music, etc. is one of the defining things of the Western culture. And it's a rather effective medium -- you get to hear how words /sound/. Watch Jeeves & Wooster (of Fry and Laurie) with subtitles on and you're going to increase your vocabulary with SAT-level words by about 10 words with each episode.

Knowing about these movies, it keeps you well-connected into the Western culture, and more in tune to what's going on out there. You'll be able to communicate with people better.

Sure libraries exist. And they're free. But TPB is giving you a chance to talk about culture -- to discover content in a free manner, you're checking out stuff at the comfort of your own home -- when you're in a quiet library the chance to talk about things is forgone. It's an overly formal and stigmatized process, as it potentially very well could be in inner city areas (I grew up in one -- I vividly remember being mocked in 6th grade by my peers when they'd find out I was heading to the library).

My philosophy is: while you're under 18, poor... go ahead, download it all (preferably in a 'safe' way) -- try to see the classics, broaden your musical interests by trying out Mahler, Beethoven, Beatles, Jethro Tull, Lata Mangeshkar, Vladimir Vysotsky, etc. Download some books, get some '100 must read books' list and go by that -- download pdf files, ePub files if you decide to invest in a Kindle or something, read 1984, Huckleberry Finn, Dubliners, Lolita. Download engineering, computer sciences ebooks for your college courses, that will otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars and financially burden you when you're already in a shaky position.

TPB is one of the great equalizers in our society.

Once you're old and you've got it made, and can comfortably afford to spend some money -- go out and spend the money to watch a movie, go watch a musical, go to the local theater, spend to your heart's content.

Excellent comment. People in tech seem to believe that access to Hollywood productions is a right of humanity. On the contrary, it should be paid, and it should be quite expensive, because it is not culture, it is just entertainment.

Culture is significantly defined by the people's entertainment, so I don't think you can split the two up. However, that doesn't mean entertainment has to be free. You still had to pay your two pence to see Hamlet at the Globe.

I think it's very much the demographics of people in tech, and I mean that in a cynical way. 10-15 years ago, if you were in tech, you wrote software to sell to people. Back then I don't remember much righteous indignation about the morality of copyrights. Today, working in tech often means working at a "middle man" place like Google or Netlfix or Amazon, which profit by being gateways to other people's content. It's unsurprising that these folks may have different views on copyright.

"10-15 years ago, if you were in tech, you wrote software to sell to people. Back then I don't remember much righteous indignation about the morality of copyrights."

People didn't have nearly as much access to the Internet then, and the implications of copyright enforcement were much less pronounced (and more endurable). It was a time when 90% of Windows installations were unlicensed. It was also an economic boom (and Microsoft in particular was on fire). Now the Internet touches much more, and enforcing copyright laws among other things (increasing surveillance, etc), feels suffocating. Most countries are in a recession, for one reason or another...

Its also expensive to produce a cheap TV show runs 1/2 M per 45 minute show - I rember on slashdot where some commentators where incensed about how the lead actors on a show are over paid (and the scale rate for a featured player is about 1/2 the starting salary for the average programmer in SV)

And for actors getting a lead on a show is maybe the top 1% or 2% of there profession.

Groceries are vital. That doesn't mean I get them for free. I need access to the roads as well, which is why I pay taxes. Producing this stuff costs money, and those costs are expected to be carried by the people benefiting.

Cultural works are exactly that - works. They represent tremendous concentrations of time, energy, talent, pain, risk, and resources. The fact that the up-front costs are high while the marginal costs of duplication and distribution are negligible in no way changes this basic proposition: this stuff costs money. Lots and lots of money. And that means it needs to be paid for.

If people don't like paying for copies, then what? By what precise mechanism are they going to transfer non-trivial sums of money from themselves to the people who produce the work?

Also, where's the enforcement to handle those who don't? Grocers, after all, only have to worry about attracting honest customers. If they catch someone stealing, they don't take it upon themselves to neutralize this threat to their business. They just call the cops. Throwing the idiots in jail isn't their problem. So what do you do about people who steal from artists? Are these folks expected to operate without the legal protections that the rest of society takes for granted?

Note, I'm not talking about stealing media, which is hard to steal in the strict sense due to its infinite reproducibility. I'm talking about stealing money, which is what people do when they make a copy they don't pay for, since the act of copying - by law - simultaneously creates an legal obligation to pay the author. But if people just decide to keep the money in their pockets, then they're holding onto something that is no longer theirs. And that's stealing.

It's like writing a check. The money to pay it may sit in their accounts for a few days until the check clears, but if they spend it on something else and cause the check to bounce, they've done something criminal. Likewise, if they make a copy, but spend the money they now owe on a cup of coffee instead, they've just screwed the artist out of cash to which he he's legally entitled. And if everybody does this, then the artist is really in trouble. After all, media may be endlessly reproducible, but money isn't. People can copy artist's work freely, but artist's can't "copy" the money in their audiences accounts, even when they're legally entitled to a portion of it.

Obviously, the creation of a legal debt to the artist is not triggered by every act of of copying. But assuming we're not talking about something covered by fair use, in the public domain, etc. then making copies absolutely means creating obligations to pay for them - which people widely and habitually disregard. At present, we're functioning on the honor system. And as any established commercial concern will tell you, this turns out to be a really shitty business model.

I don't treat piracy of entertainment as a moral question, because it's just copying. If I can download it, I own it, period.

However, I'll gladly pay money for convenience of access. I tried out netflix and I could not justify paying 8 bucks a month because I can't get what I want, when I want.

You could call this entitlement or you could call me a thief or try to drive me from not pirating movies or reading manga. I don't really care much. There's so much entertainment in the world that I can never consume in my lifetime. The only question is which work to try to enjoy and how to access it.

> or reading manga

I turned over to Japanese media from Hollywood. I rarely see American movies any more, maybe 5 or 10 per year, and TV series - I haven't watched any in the last 12 months. I couldn't care less about US losing cultural influence over me. In fact I enjoy this phase. Maybe in the future, if the Japanese become obnoxious with copyright, I might switch over to Indian or African productions. They have amazing output and most importantly, for a jaded viewer, they are fresh.

Instead of bitching about copying, countries should make all efforts to attract international viewers. It converts to cultural exchanges, travel and business opportunities. A few years ago people were talking about the export of American culture, how it is a bloodless conquest of the world. Now, I don't think Hollywood can remain as powerful. They are too lacking in imagination and risk averse, while shitting on our heads with IP rights lobbying.

> I don't treat piracy of entertainment as a moral question, because it's just copying. If I can download it, I own it, period.

Do you apply this to software? E.g., if I download some GPL software, do I own it, period, and so it is morally OK for me to ignore the GPL?

Well, a strip club will have prices based on what the local economy can bear. So a strip club in LA will be more expensive per tit than a strip club in rural Bulgaria.

Stuff that can be expressed as bytes does not always have the same sort of price discrimination, so in some geographies people will pirate things that they could have no realistic possibility of ever affording.

Plus it's not all entertainment, a lot of the stuff mentioned is educational resources. Not to mention that watching foreign entertainment shows can give you a good education about culture.

Presumably they make movies, music, etc, in rural Bulgaria, priced commensurately with the local market? To turn the analogy a bit--rural Bulgarians can't afford to import American call girls, why should they be able to afford American movies?

Because American movie as a stream of bits is not a product. It is information. Information should be free regardless of it's contents. There should be no such thing as "copyright infringing pattern of bits" for example. Yet it exists, if I haven't paid for a right to "consume" the "content". How do you enforce this? At what cost?

You can not fight technology, you can not stop it. It is inevitable that information will become free.

Luckily, it is now easier than ever to enjoy cross-cultural content in digital form.

I am not advocating for a society where one doesn't get paid for the content they provide, but rather for a society where information is free. Where information is not scarce. Where anyone can benefit from the works of others. Sharing is caring! Stop competing, start co-operating.

I don't think culture is such an elastic good. Other examples might be commercial software.

Maybe you stopped reading after the first half of the article? The rest is about access to culture and teaching material.

Also, "free" is not the only aspect of the question. Please don't ignore e.g. Saudi people being grateful for access to material otherwise not available in their country.

"[...] who says entertainment has to be free?"

I would: just think about busking. You get the service first, and you leave a gratuity afterwards in an amount you believe is appropriate, but you decide if, and what, to pay.

At a strip club you might pay a cover charge, and the dancer gratuities.

The cover charge, in this case, is basically your own ISP and equipment costs, as well as any costs of physical media you are copying. If you copy and transmit bits based on that media, at your expense, to a friend, that friend is now in the position to give a gratuity that they weren't before. Copying isn't theft, it's the best advertisement possible: word-of-mouth.

As much as we want to, we can't prevent side-viewing: listening to other people's TVs, seeing their lap-dances, or copies of DVDs that were on the Internet, etc, or saving anything on the Internet for later... (Trying costs rights.) The one-time fees (cover charges) have already been paid in all those cases (the opportunity for side-viewing wouldn't exist otherwise), and the ephemeral copies on the Internet are now strictly opportunities for gratuity income: 7 billion of them... Great!

This is about more than entertainment. Copyright just keeps people's heads in the mud, in the same way patents are used as an excuse to withhold life-saving medicine, and worst of all: it keeps creator income at it's lowest possible level, albeit it's least risky... But a guaranteed $1/month is still worst than (7 billion * Probability of gratuity)/month.

The moral arguments aside, IMHO, we are moving from a pay-first reality for intangibles to a gratuity reality. I don't think copyright is even needed for the latter, and I think it's a win, so IMHO, any moral arguments about getting entertainment for free are moot.

Nothing has to be free, everything is free -- the only thing that you ever pay for is the convenience of things being distributed to you. Beef is free, if you can get a cow, kill it and prepare it; those who can't pay those who can for the convenience. Oil is free too - if you can extract and process it yourself. Heck -- even air is free, yet we still pay for the convenience of providing it when we go somewhere where it isn't in such abundance, such as scuba diving.

Whenever changes in distribution patterns occur, there are those who have vested interest in the old distribution channels and want to restrict access to the new ones, at least unless they go out of business or turn to the new channels themselves.

Where would you draw the line between culture and entertainment. And why?

Do you believe in the notion of culturally significant works?

Yes, but 99% of music, games, and movies are not culturally significant works.

I do believe we should go back to a shorter copyright duration. Going back to the original 14+14 year copyright duration would put e.g. much of the Beatles' work in the public domain.

I notice a lot of hostility towards "entitlement of culture" on Hacker News. While it sucks that artists aren't always being fairly compensated, I think there are some other factors to consider, starting with one major question: Would the people pirating these works have bought them in the first place?

This article focuses on the sheer "access" aspect, because that's the most noble. If you can't legally buy a work, you aren't going to pay for it. If ever the word "entitlement" should be used in these debates, I'd say it's here. For people who aren't able to legally access these culturally significant works, I'd say yes they are entitled to be able to access these in an illegal manner and experience our culture. Note culturally significant. I'm not talking about the artistic merit of Hollywood blockbusters and the top 40 here.

Similar to the "access" argument, there's the "exposure" argument. How many works have been pirated simply because they were free, but not something you'd be willing to risk ~$10+ on? Piracy enables people to get a taste of genres and styles they never would otherwise experience. I grew up in the age of Napster, and I was in middle school going to high school when Limewire was getting big. I listened to a much wider range of music and watched movies I never would have otherwise because they took almost 0 effort to acquire. I am a rather different person than I would have been without piracy. I look at my music library and my taste in movies, and realize almost all of that is because I was able to pirate them. I think the fact that older people tend to be more hostile to piracy isn't only because of ingrained habits, but partly because they weren't shaped by its effects.

> Would the people pirating these works have bought them in the first place?

A given person pirating a given work might not have bought that specific work if piracy was not available, but he probably would have bought something. E.g., imagine someone who pirates all the new movie releases. If piracy became unavailable, do you think he'd simply stop watching movies? I doubt it. He'd start going to the theater. He probably would no longer see all the new releases, but he'd surely go see some.

Edit: This got a down vote? Seriously? Someone actually thinks the typical pirate would give up movies completely if he could not pirate them?

   >> Someone actually thinks the typical pirate
   >> would give up movies completely if he could
   >> not pirate them?
Why not? If people couldn’t watch movies, they would just read books. Lots of these in public domain.

I, for instance, don’t watch movies and I don’t think I miss much. (I’ve been watching some [pirated] Hong Kong movies this year to improve my Cantonese though.)

My biggest issue with "entitlement culture" is the phrase itself: it's loaded language, thinly veiled propaganda to make opponents look bad. The creationists and NeoCons use the same tactic all the time (and freely admit to it being a tactic they use on purpose; look up their policy documents sometime). "Death tax" instead of inheritance tax, "taxpayer money" instead of public funds, etc, etc. "Framing" is another good topic to look up along these lines.

What I want to know is why creators of content feel "entitled" to get paid? Sure, it'd be nice to get paid every time you do work, but that's not how the world works. Getting paid every time someone makes a copy (where virtually no work is done, these days) was a fluke of history that people shouldn't rely on either. Note that I'm not justifying copyright infringement (not "piracy", another loaded term), but "intellectual property" has no basis in reality, and a very thin one in what we jokingly call law these days. If a creative work is so important, then it's important enough to preserve, and that just about requires unfettered access, especially since there is no requirement to submit a non-DRM'ed copy to the copyright office anymore.

>>...it's loaded language, thinly veiled propaganda to make opponents look bad. The creationists and NeoCons use the same tactic all the time...

...along with pretty much anybody with an agenda. "Pro choice" and "pro life" are both terms designed to sound good, for example. Who wants to be anti-choice OR anti-life?

Of course, a less cynical viewpoint is that both terms are designed to express what that side believes is the most relevant issue.

It is not a fluke of history. It is a long standing principle, which had everyone independently and had survived longer than many other law and principles. Why Complain about misleading wording and then talking about copyright like that?

> "taxpayer money" instead of public funds

Exactly how is "taxpayer money" inaccurate there?

There is something similar to the "straight up or down vote" mentality many people take towards media

I think while in lawmaking, it's crazy to think you can do that, I think it's crazy to expect people to accept a copyright regime that supports bundling and timeshifting.

I always mistrust discussions of the legal content on the pirate bay as a defence. Doing something legal does not defend illegal activities in general, and the pirate bay is, by any measure, predominantly copyrighted material whose owners do not want their material on TPB.

The other argument, that TPB helps distributes culture so is a public good, it's a much better argument. It is however hard to know if it is overall better for society.

> It is however hard to know if it is overall better for society.

Really? Have tried to stop and think about the pros vs cons? I would be surprised if someone did, and didn't conclude it's heavily in the pirate bay's favor. The pros are it makes it easier for people to access art. The primary con would be one weaker revenue channel for some artists. But there are so many means to fund arts. Specially in the kick stater era. Arts are still being funded, not only that. Are finding new brilliant ways to get funded. And on the other side, accessing art is easier than ever.

It's just an obvious smashing win for the pirate bay. I mean, just look at how easy it is to access art today. Versus I don't think anyone would argue it's any harder to create arts today. Quite the opposite.

I disagree. There are lots of legal channels available for artists that want to publish their art for free. But by and large people on TPB don't want that. They want Hollywood movies, etc. Those Hollywood movies would not be created if it was legal to distribute them for free. They are purely commercial entertainment products.

"Those Hollywood movies would not be created if it was legal to distribute them for free."

I find this to be one of the most hilarious stances of IP advocates. Yes, $50+ million classics like Blade 2 might not be created without the monopoly system of copyright protection. IP apologists act like we would be in a movieless, art-free world if we got rid of copyright.

I didn't say we wouldn't have movies. I said we wouldn't have big budget Hollywood films. Which would be fine with me, but those are the subject of the major traffic on TPB.

That's the part I find tremendously disingenuous. All this tall about art--there is a ton of great free or cheap art. Indie movies, music, etc. But people don't want that. They want the high budget entertainment products. Well, it's the copyright system that makes those products viable. Without copyright, you'd have lots of art, but not the kind the torrenters are interested in.

Do note that mostly what people go after is what they are being marketed with. If you give multi-million marketing budget to an indie film, do you honestly believe it would fare pale in comparison in popularity against a Hollywood product?

You don't need lots of money to make good art. You need lots of money to make people aware of the said art. As you have noted, commercial art is made for the sake of making money, not for the sake of making art for people interested. This of course conflicts and clashes hard with the way TPB operates, the way indie works operate and the way the whole industry and business operates.

Yes, I do. Because Hollywood isn't stupid. If they could make just as much money from a one million dollar film, with the same sized advertising budget, they would. On average film takings are surprisingly closely related to cost.

I doubt you'd get much funding for marketing if the movie itself is "cheap". Though it depends alot on the content. You simply don't produce something like the next blockbuster Bond-movie with a million. However, that doesn't man you need more than a million for an enjoyable decent movie. The same applies to games and other forms of entertainment too. Consider for example Minecraft or Terraria or Gangnam Style as examples. There's so much great stuff out there which nobody knows about, which is produced with a fraction of the cost it takes to produce "AAA" content. If only it were more accessible to people!

Of course having more resources at your disposal means more opportunities to make good content(or inversely, decreases the risk to produce utter shit). However, markets in which supply is higher than demand(as in, more content is being produced than the consumer has time to consume) marketing grows into a greater role. This is exactly the case with entertainment - even more so in modern days. Never before has there been so much entertainment available for a consumer than today, as such it's not only movies fighting for consumer attention, but different forms of entertainment. Because the landscape has changed, big AAA producers have to change along too, or then forcefully try to keep their business models intact with attacking the change in forms of illogical and unfair legal means, see MPAA and RIAA as great examples of this. While the industries make more money than ever, these guys cry out loud for lost profit, how can this be true? You tell me.

But luckily, if the progress continues as it has thus far, year by year we have more digital culture available to more people! More entertainment availale for sharing and consuming and filesharing and as such information sharing becomes more and more a cultural thing.

> I said we wouldn't have big budget Hollywood films.[...]Well, it's the copyright system that makes those products viable.

You'd have a tough time coming up with empirical data to support that hypothesis.

I'm not sure that blockbuster-type movies could get funded using kickstarter-type funding. Even if they could receive the needed funding, I don't entirely like the idea of moving to that model. Currently, producers front the initial money (and thus carry the risks and rewards) of the movie. After it's made, I can then decide based on trailers and reviews whether I want to spend money on it. Instead, with the Kickstarter approach, I need to front the money based on some short trailer and description for a movie that may or may not be finished and which I have very little information on whether I'll like the end product. I've mentioned movies here, but it extends to music, TV shows etc. I like the idea of Kickstarter and crowd funding, but I'm a bit too risk averse to fund many things.

>I'm not sure that blockbuster-type movies could get funded using kickstarter-type funding.

I agree (for now), but i'm not sure this would be a bad thing. You might not be able to make Transformers 3, but you could make most (all?) of Hitchcock's movies.

Extravagance is a fairly recent trend in movies, and-- whilst i love some of the high budget movies-- i'm not at all certain it provides a great deal of benefit as a whole; the story trumps the effects.

> I agree (for now), but i'm not sure this would be a bad thing. You might not be able to make Transformers 3, but you could make most (all?) of Hitchcock's movies.

In addition to "Transformers 3", we also might not have:

WALL-E: $180 million

Toy Story 3: $200 million

Up: $175 million

How to Train Your Dragon: $165 million

Could these same stories be told more cheaply? Sure...but I think they would have just been good stories then, not masterpieces.


Again, you'd have a hard time coming up with empirical data to support the hypothesis that Hollywood movies wouldn't exist without copyright enforcement. That's speculation with zero evidence.

Lets do a quick back of the envelope guesstimate. Around 450 people worked on WALL-E. These movies take years to make, but I'd guess that many of those people are only in on part of it, so I'll guess that at any given time, only 1/4 of those people are working on it. Figure that an employee costs $100k per year in pay, benefits, and overhead (I expect that is a low estimate on average). That gives $11 million per year, just for having the necessary employees. I believe these movies take about 4 years, so that brings WALL-E to an estimated $44 million, just for employees.

I suspect I underestimated pay, but I may have overestimated the fraction of that 450 working at any given time. Anyone in the industry reading this who can give better data?

Now throw in equipment, facilities, promotion, and so on, and it is not hard to believe pretty big legitimate budgets.

I would suggest those who want to completely require the rules of copyright are the ones who should come up with data that the creation of art would not be fundamentally damaged.

I lost count how many times I wasted my precious money on an expensive movie ticket, on the fanciest theater around, for a heavily hiped movie. Just to walk out pissed off at how could they make it so bad. I'm sure so have you! So there is already the risk of losing your investment on crap today. I honestly don't see the difference :-P

It's happened on occasion, but for the most part by looking at reviews I get a decent opinion of whether I would like the movie. I can think of only 3 movies in the last couple years that I regretted seeing, 2 of which I went to mostly because other people were looking for something to do. With an unmade movie, reviews of the finished movie don't exist. In addition, the movie may not even be finished.

This seems like it might be a classic case of the tragedy of the commons. It is very hard to know what the world would be like if we (greatly simplifying) gave up on copyright. It is certainly easier to create at than ever before, but will removing copyright kill that?

I can't imagine how games, and films and TV series with the 20+ million pound budgets would ever get funded again. Maybe I don't have enough imagination.

The budget is so big exactly because of copyright. If there were no copyright, people could re-use the best of the previous work — so creating works will be cheaper.

> TPB helps distributes culture so is a public good

What does it matter if it is right or not? It is a paradigm change and there's nothing moral or immoral about it. Was it moral that humans started using fire and weapons against animals? Is it moral that we control the vegetation of this planet to our interests? Was it moral for the copyists to be replaced by printing press? The cart and buggy businesses to go under after the apparition of the car?

It's just change. It is what it is, a transformation beyond the control of a few. This transition phase will be over sooner or later and the new settled order will emerge. Until then, we are in flux. And it's not for any one group or person to decide if they find it convenient and block it - they can't. If they tried, they'd blown to pieces by history.

When the mob does it, it's called a front.

For moral justification of The Pirate Bay, there's only the Jefferson quote, "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so". It's a damn good one, but the "legal content" defense is just silly posturing.

To my knowledge Thomas Jefferson never wrote any such thing. Spurious quotation at worst, specious at best. If you can provide a source I would appreciate it. Jefferson loved the law and rational debate and would never have elevated the opinion of one person above the law except in matters of religion or spiritual freedom.

Jefferson by the way sold his library of 6000 volumes to the library of Congress for US ~$20k after the British burned Washington DC in the war of 1812. He was not a wealthy man and in fact was nearly bankrupt many times in his life. If I recall his remaining books were sold at auction after his death to pay off his debts. He was also an inventor that sought protection by the state of his ideas from theft. On the other hand he was also a staunch advocate of free education.

"The problem with quotes from the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity" -- Abraham Lincoln

In this particular case, it doesn't really matter as the inclusion of Jefferson is just for spice, it's not an appeal to authority (as quoting people like that often is). History is littered with heroes who agreed with the assertion.

That said, it's a moral assertion, not a legal one. I'm no scholar on the subject, but the way I read it, I don't see any expectation of immunity from disobeying the law, but rather a paraphrasing of "be ready to die for what you know to be true". It's unlikely that anybody is going to die for the Pirate Bay, but the founders and several users have certainly felt the heavy hand of the law, but they and their supporters still consider themselves to be morally right.

Would your view change greatly if it was you being (mis)quoted? I am a little sensitive I suppose due to my belief system being based on truth and accuracy and not rhetoric.

Also historians tend to get wrankled about accuracy, mostly because we paid the price of inhaling all that dust in an effort to be historically precise.

No, because Jefferson is not part of the argument. I accept that I got suckered into believing it was a Jefferson and didn't check the sources, but if no one else said it, I just did, and my argument still stands.

"Better for society," as it is typically invoked, is an invalid standard for determining what's good. It's a vague concept, and it's easy to shred intellectually. For example, we're often told that eminent domain is in "the public interest," but what about the homeowner facing eviction and demolition so that a new stadium, highway or shopping mall can be built? Isn't he part of the public? What about his interests?

In reality, society is nothing more than a group individuals. A society has no special attributes apart from those of its individual members. If the "good of society" has any meaning, it must refer to the good of each of its individual members, as individuals.

So how do we know what's good for an individual and what isn't? The correct standard for determining the good is the life of the person being discussed. The good is that which furthers that particular individual's life (with this standard, it is obvious that the evil is that which destroys that person's life).

Finally, regarding the counter-argument about conflicts of interest that some might raise: I don't believe that there are any, in reality. What is in the true, rational self-interest of one person is never in conflict with the interests (defined in the same way) of any other person. [I don't have time to sketch this argument further, and I have to stop somewhere, so I'll leave it at that. If you're interested in more on this point, Google for "conflicts of interest among rational men."]

> distributes culture so is a public good

only if you consider Disney moves as well as other Hollywood productions to contribute to the public good. I, for myself, think that enabling the distribution of this kind of content is a disservice to humanity. I much prefer that people would have to pay for access.

For a lot of people who don't live in the profitable western parts of the world, paying for access is often not an option, because the company that owns the rights doesn't bother releasing their content in such places. A lot of companies even frown upon manual importing of physical media across the world, regional-locking the content.

In the perfect world where piracy is stopped, they simply don't have access to this culture.

I think this is a an easily believable lie.

People in developing countries almost exclusively do not have a personal computer and internet connection at home or work they can use to download stuff. They have basically three options:

- buy movies and console games on the street 1000x faster and cheaper than downloading and 100% reliably

- pay by the hour in an internet cafe to download to their usb stick or dumb phone / mp3 player, very heavily restricted by time, price and storage capacity

- offline sharing amongst friends/family

TPB is just a playground for rich kids in rich countries to download everything they want in exchange for viewing a smorgasbord of advertisements and affiliate links and dodgy spyware offers.

That's my point, why technology should be used to freely export Hollywood's version of culture? There are many ways in which technology can improve people's lives, but this is not one of them. On the contrary, it is making even harder for foreign countries to create their own entertainment industry, because it is very hard to compete with free.

I understand what you're saying - that most of it is crap - just like in any particular ecosystem or class of content. Most of it will always be crap.

However think about the impact some productions could have in some cultures - like say the V for Vendetta movie in China.

In a way this seems like the discussion about whether to eliminate patents for cancer drugs or other drugs for lethal diseases (like it happened in India), and therefore decrease the price of such drugs by 10-1000x, and help maybe tens of millions of people, or allow companies (foreign companies even) to keep charging whatever they want, and also have a monopoly on that type of drug.

One of the interesting factoids I came across a while ago was the assertion that 85-90% of pharmaceutical companies' expenses were marketing. Perhaps if they didn't spend so much on marketing, they wouldn't need to have patents for so long or charge so much?

There is a huge difference though : there are no lives on the line. Nobody will die because they couldn't pirate the latest Harry Potter.

The themes in this post relate to the Internet as a whole and are not specific to TPB. If TPB went offline for good, everyone using it would simply shift to preferring a different default site for their searches. You could rewrite this exchanging Napster for TPB and roll the date back 10 years and it would still seem valid.

I'm sure I know what the answer would be if the MPAA/RIAA were asked if they are ok with distributing works for free only to those in countries where it would otherwise be unavailable commercially. The phrase "shut up and pay me" comes to mind.

In related news, you always hear about drug-related violence but never about all the drug-related kisses and hugs.

TPB is a distributor of culture just like graffiti tagged freight trains are a distributor of art.

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