Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Piracy - better than sliced bread, or worse than murder?
June 19, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Has a MeFi copyright thread ever "gone well"? Relatedly, has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?
posted by Sebmojo to MetaFilter-Related at 6:37 PM (213 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

The people who hold the non-mainstream (non-corporate mainstream, anyway) opinion presumably had their mind changed at some point. I know I did.
posted by DU at 6:39 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't recall one. People tend to post them because either they're grinding their same old axe or because they've fallen into the trap of linking to someone else grinding the same old axe. It's too bad because the article that's linked to is really interesting and people are just doing the same old hollering at each other routine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've "evolved" a bit over the years regarding copyright issues. I'm likely in a spot that would be yelled at by both sides But whatever evolving I have done hasn't been because of people yelling or being jerks... that rarely actually convinces people they should reevaluate their position.
posted by edgeways at 6:50 PM on June 19, 2012


I don't think anyone is going to change their mind at this point.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 PM on June 19, 2012


posted by Sebmojo has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?

No, because the people who insist "copyright infringement is theft" either have not read the law, do not understand the law, or refuse to accept what the law actually says. So around and around we go.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


Living with a content producer, being in my late 30's/early 40's? Having a real job that paid real dinero? That's what changed my mind.
posted by kalessin at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest

I've gone from being someone who wanted a return to something like the Founders' Copyright to someone who thinks any copyright is a horrible abridgment of free speech.

So, yes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone is going to change their mind at this point.

Piffle. Furthermore, arguments do change minds, albeit not during the argument. For instance:

User A: blah blah blah
User B: sha, as though! yadda yadda yadda!
*GRAR enues*

Later, IRL:

Friend of User A: blah blah blah
User A: inorite, although there are some people online that say yadda yadda yadda
FoUA: That's stupid!
User A: Well, I can kind of see the point of THIS part, but they've taken it too far
etc

The position is internalized and strengthened. It begins to emerge elsewhere. The boundaries of discourse are widened, with stronger "position statements" making the boundary firmness clear. The user, even if they believe their position has not changed, re-evaluates their position wrt the new boundaries and adjusts.
posted by DU at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2012 [23 favorites]


No, because the people who insist "copyright infringement is theft" either have not read the law, do not understand the law, or refuse to accept what the law actually says. So around and around we go.
posted by mattdidthat


I'm betting that 99% of the people who make statements like this don't actually create anything for a living.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


posted by blaneyphoto I'm betting that 99% of the people who make statements like this don't actually create anything for a living.

You're 100% wrong.
posted by mattdidthat at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2012 [27 favorites]


Yeah this is one of those topics where every post has more or less the exact same debate.

Obviously people do change their minds about it all the time, but I doubt any particular new thread is going to do so for anyone who has participated in past threads.

There are a million different positions you can have on copyright, which makes it more complicated since its not a Pro-Copyright vs Anti-Copyright debate, it's a "everyone has their own view of whats OK, whats wrong with the current state of things, what is should be, etc".
posted by wildcrdj at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was a useful thread. My opinion is definitely evolving. I don't know why it had to be moderated.
posted by unSane at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2012


No, because the people who insist "copyright infringement is theft" either have not read the law, do not understand the law, or refuse to accept what the law actually says. So around and around we go.

As we are so often told in the pot threads, the law isn't always correct.

It might not be the hyper-technical common-law theft, but it is certainly a kind of theft/stealing/deprivation.
posted by gjc at 7:03 PM on June 19, 2012


but I doubt any particular new thread is going to do so for anyone who has participated in past threads.

I don't think that's really true. When a thread like this happens it's an opportunity to try to argue your current position, which may well have changed from the last time. Sometimes you end up realizing, you know, it's not that great a position.
posted by unSane at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've gone from being someone who wanted a return to something like the Founders' Copyright to someone who thinks any copyright is a horrible abridgment of free speech.

How can copyright be an abridgement of free speech??!
posted by gjc at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2012


I don't know why it had to be moderated.

We just decided to step in to make sure it didn't turn into the same 2-4 people hollering at each other, not discussing the article and having the same fights that they always do. We opted to do that over deleting comments [none of them were really deleteworthy I didn't think] but to maybe try to rerail things.

And let me just say right now that if people decide that they're going to rehash the argument in THIS thread or call each other morons [did I just see that? wtf is wrong with people] they are mistaken.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2012


you know we don't actually have to have the argument here as well?
posted by edgeways at 7:05 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm done arguing about it, sorry that I got carried away on it again. It's one of my pet issues that I get worked up about.
posted by empath at 7:07 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


wtf is wrong with people

They are people, that is what is wrong with them.

Of course, that is what is right with them as well, so.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:07 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm betting that 99% of the people who make statements like this don't actually create anything for a living.
Does a sandwich artist at subway 'create' for a living?

More realistically, how would you even measure that? First you need a solid definition of 'create for a living' (does programming count? What about people in advertizing who create all the time, but never for resale? What about people who create open source software? What about people who make maps for the government? What about "social media" people who blog and tweet for a living?)

Secondly, you need some kind of survey.

Anyway, look at birthers or 9/11 truthers. Look at the number of people who believe in ghosts. There is no way 99% of anyone is ever going to agree on anything.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on June 19, 2012


The "piracy is theft! no it's not!" thing has always seemed a huge derail. And is often the place where threads start their ineluctable descent.

The world is just packed with bad things that are not theft.

Can't we all agree that illicit copying can definitely be bad (depending on the circumstances), even if it isn't theft?
posted by Sebmojo at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


So you're saying you started this thread just to restart debate here? After asking if it ever actually goes well?
posted by inigo2 at 7:13 PM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I make my living indirectly from copyright and pretty much all my hobbies revolve around copyright issues. I decided it would be hypocritical of me to violate this on the entertainment side of things while getting pissed when people steal my shit.

So I don't violate copyright anymore (for the most part).

I'll still torrent things I have absolutely no legal way to access. I figure if you don't want to make it possible for me to pay to view your content, then fuck ya.

I'll even wait until it hits PBS or whatever (Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Luther).

I still get ahold of a few UK and Canadian shows, but they aren't available on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. I've been thinking of subscribing to a VPN service so I could fool Canada into believing I should be able to watch Lost Girl online, but mentally I don't see how that's better than just tormenting.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:15 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Copyright Infringement is stealing" is kind of irritating when just thrown out there as fact towards the start of a thread. Folks who have been around discussions like this long enough know damn well there is moral and legal nuance there even if in the end they still feel it is stealing. So it's annoying when that same nuance is explained and ignored in every thread, but there isn't any way to avoid it aside from asking one side or the other just not to debate it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taking others things is stealing. Period. All those who feel free to grab work from creatives - I certainly hope someone comes and helps themselves to your belongings, drives your car whenever the mood strikes them and defaces and misuses your property while you're busy pushing papers in cubicle.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:18 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


So you're saying you started this thread just to restart debate here? After asking if it ever actually goes well?
posted by inigo2 at 4:13 PM on June 19 [+] [!]


A fair question. No, I didn't. But if we could take that out of the argument chain it might make discussions less GRRAAARR.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:18 PM on June 19, 2012


I think the framing of the post can help. The last time the Camper Van Beethoven guy got linked I thought it generated a pretty interesting discussion, though to be sure it was centered more around "what value does the record industry add" than purely "is piracy okay or not".

But with this one, it seemed to me that the description of the first writer "21 year old NPR Music intern" was just waving a red cape at a herd of bulls. People read that, went to her article prepared to be pissed off, read what she wrote on high alert for hipocrisy and found a number of things to set off the alarm. So then the thread inevitably became a matter if who had the loudest klaxon. There's an inherent "callow whippersnapper vs. wise greybeard" to the set-up there, and metafilter certainly seems tilted toward the dad-rock side.
posted by Diablevert at 7:19 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just because people don't have public road-to-Ephesus epiphanies during threads like this, swooning at the power of the opposite factions rhetorical mojo, doesn't mean that opinions aren't changed by the process of argument. Sure, MOST people probably just continue to plow their habitual furrows, but as I said above, the process of arguing a flawed position and not doing so well can contribute to the arc of an opinion change.

You might as well say that political debate is pointless because people are either rightwingers or leftwingers and that's that. I'm sure some of you believe that but I don't. I think people are subtler.
posted by unSane at 7:19 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


posted by blaneyphoto Taking others things is stealing. Period. All those who feel free to grab work from creatives - I certainly hope someone comes and helps themselves to your belongings, drives your car whenever the mood strikes them and defaces and misuses your property while you're busy pushing papers in cubicle.

See? Here we go again. Copyright infringement is neither theft, burglary, nor vandalism.
posted by mattdidthat at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


All those who feel free to grab work from creatives - I certainly hope someone comes and helps themselves to your belongings, drives your car whenever the mood strikes them and defaces and misuses your property while you're busy pushing papers in cubicle.

Let's not have the same argument here please.
posted by empath at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've changed my mind so many times I can't remember which side I'm on.
posted by TedW at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seriously, do not have this argument here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 PM on June 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is how the sausage gets made, I think. People have outdated ideas about "fundamental truths" like property and the such. Technology comes along and flushes those truths down the toilet. Gradually, very slowly, the majority of people come to accept this change. I'm sure someday somebody will find these historical arguments over sharing to be of some value, if only to point and laugh. In the mean time it's always to see how people have internalized obvious falsehoods and how this leads to obvious falsehoods. All the concern over "starving artists" and "artists going broke" due to copying in that thread is kinda hilarious. I actually googled around to see if some sort of fund had been set up for all these victims of file sharing but, alas, couldn't find much.
posted by nixerman at 7:23 PM on June 19, 2012


has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?

I suspect a lot of people on both sides of these arguments have had their respect for fellow Mefites who argue on the other side lowered. I didn't even post in that thread and I got some new names added to my "ignore this person's opinion forever" mental killfile.
posted by immlass at 7:24 PM on June 19, 2012


I don't know why it had to be moderated.

Me neither. Also I don't really appreciate being called out when I had written only 12 of the 472 comments in the thread, which puts me in something like 10th place for busiest poster, with only 8 of those comments being made today, and not particularly fighty ones at that.

Also what is it with people's inability to spell my damn username. I'm going to start some sort of 2-member club with humanfont.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:26 PM on June 19, 2012


More importantly, there's a question I've been meaning to ask for quite a while now: who owns the copyright on content MetaFilter (and related subsites), and why isn't MetaFilter's copyright policy clearly enunciated in the FAQ?
posted by anigbrowl at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've gradually stopped torrenting over the long term, partially through conversations along these lines.

I wasn't directly convinced by anyone, but the debate inspired thoughts about the nature of all this, which inspired a degree of rationalizing on my part, which in turn inspired a set of pretty firm rules about what I will and won't torrent. At this point I'll pretty much only "pirate" back catalogue work from legacy artists, ideally people who are either already wealthy beyond measure or dead.

And even there, the work of organizing and storing thousands of files often outweighs the benefits of getting it for "free". It's almost like I'm a music archivist in exchange for unlimited access to certain artists' back catalogues. Which is not always a great tradeoff -- more and more I'll torrent a greatest hits compilation and then go buy the relevant full albums.
posted by Sara C. at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

More importantly, there's a question I've been meaning to ask for quite a while now: who owns the copyright on content MetaFilter (and related subsites), and why isn't MetaFilter's copyright policy clearly enunciated in the FAQ?
It's on the bottom of the page:
© 1999-2012 MetaFilter Network Inc.
All posts are © their original authors.
posted by delmoi at 7:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


And in a less snide way, my behavior has changed over the years, less because of argument but rather technology. When Napster first came out I loved it, even though I knew I was taking something I shouldn't; at the time, living in a smallish town, it was simply too difficult to find a lot of the music I wanted legally. There was no online alternative. Once iTunes came on the scene, though, I had a legal alternative as well as a relatively easy way to rip my existing CDs. I have purchased many of my vinyl albums again on iTunes as a matter of convenience, and also listen to a lot of music on Spotify. The only time I would ever consider pirating something now is if it is not available legally; the more of their back catalogues the record labels digitize the less likely that is to happen. I've never pirated movies, and now streaming is so ubiquitous with Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and so on built in to seemingly every electronic device I own, that I have no desire to pirate movies. I might feel differently if I didn't have a decent broadband connection and am still concerned about retaining rights to play media I've actually purchased being infringed by DRM, and at the same time think that artists are getting screwed by both distributors and pirates. So yeah, I'm still not sure which side I'm on.
posted by TedW at 7:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


why isn't MetaFilter's copyright policy clearly enunciated in the FAQ?

We should outline it, it's one of those things we've talked about when it comes up in MeTa but I'll add it to the . Basically all content is copyright the original owners meaning that if someone wanted to make a book of MeFi content they'd need to talk to all the original owners. However it's been published here which means we have the right to display it, it's been "fixed" here, etc. We get pretty huffy if people are republishing content from the website wholesale but we usually presume people are employing fair use if they're just copying quotes or whatever but we try to ask for attribution if we see Big Name sites ganking content. Other than that, it becomes a "talk to Matt" situation depending on why you want to know, all I can tell you is sort of what's come up when we've discussed it before.

I was surprised, personally, that finding the book I wrote available through file sharing sites did not actually change my opinion of the whole copyright landscape very much. I thought it would.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to identify exactly when your own views change, but they've certainly changed over the years, and the discussions at Metafilter probably play some role in it. If nothing else, I learned in the thread what not to say in order to avoid personalized attacks.

[chortly alltalk now retires to his parents' basement settee...]
posted by chortly at 7:36 PM on June 19, 2012


I don't know why it had to be moderated.

I got called an asshole and wasn’t even sure what they were so upset about.

has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?

I've changed my mind over the years. In the late 90’s, early 2000’s I thought that file sharing, while not technically legal, really wouldn’t hurt anything and might even have positive effects (I didn’t do it because I just couldn’t be bothered, too much work). I used to argue the points you often hear. Well, none of that turned out to be true; the music business has fallen apart, thousands of people have lost work, and historic landmark studios and infrastructure are gone forever.

I stole software when I was younger (early mid 90’s), then slowly realized it was wrong and quit.
posted by bongo_x at 7:39 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, because the people who insist "copyright infringement is theft" either have not read the law, do not understand the law, or refuse to accept what the law actually says. So around and around we go.

I'm betting that 99% of the people who make statements like this don't actually create anything for a living.


Either it's a bad bet, or I'm the 1%. Which may be the case, but it probably isn't.

Which raises the question (the question of this thread actually) -- what would it take for you to NOT take such a hyperbolic position here? Because bluntly, my first impulse on reading your comment was to toss some hyperbole right back at you.
posted by philip-random at 7:40 PM on June 19, 2012


"Basically all content is copyright the original owners meaning that if someone wanted to make a book of MeFi content they'd need to talk to all the original owners. "

But one would not need permission from Matt or anyone ekse if they made a book of their comments, correct?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on June 19, 2012


© 1999-2012 MetaFilter Network Inc.
All posts are © their original authors.


I know about that, but it leaves a big grey area. Jessamyn's explanation is what I'm getting at.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:42 PM on June 19, 2012


Taking others things is stealing. Period.

The "Period" is the problem with this attitude. It's obviously a hotly debated topic here, very intelligent people make good cases for both points of view. So, no period. We bring it up, we are getting lots and lots of words out of it.

They can be better more interesting words if folks skip over attitudes like, "Everybody who disagrees with me are just immoral thieves who are making excuses because they want things for free". Some folks hold this opinion, unshaken after hundreds of threads....what the fuck are they doing in the threads anymore? Preaching? What's the point? It's a disrespectful mode of conversation that questions the good faith of the people involved in the conversation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:44 PM on June 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I really want to remind people that before you go pirate music from labels, there's a lot of really awesome music that artists choose to distribute for free. I'm a fan of electronic music and I've been really satisfied with some netlabel releases.
posted by fuq at 7:44 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think individuals change their behavior over time, and maybe internalize the debates along the way. The starving student torrents, but when disposable income increases later in life...
posted by Brocktoon at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2012


Sebmojo, is this a rhetorical question? Are you making some kind of argument that that this topic shouldn't come up again or something?

I don't know where people get this "No one's going to change their mind" thing. People change their minds all the time, for all kinds of reasons-- including, in my own experience, internet discussions.
posted by BibiRose at 7:57 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sebmojo, is this a rhetorical question? Are you making some kind of argument that that this topic shouldn't come up again or something?

Nope. Just curious.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:06 PM on June 19, 2012

The "Period" is the problem with this attitude. It's obviously a hotly debated topic here, very intelligent people make good cases for both points of view. So, no period. We bring it up, we are getting lots and lots of words out of it.
I do find it annoying, obviously. But the whole thread was basically about that argument. There were two links: a column from someone who'd never paid for music, and a long rant based on the "copyright infringement = theft" thing. So obviously that's what the thread was going to be about.

But it does crop up in threads about more nuanced issues, and whenever it does someone usually takes the bait, and you end up with the same pointless semantic argument as in every other thread.

What I don't really understand is why these people don't seem to understand that different people can have different sets of underlying moral assumptions.

(And my view is that copyright is not a moral issue, but a practical one. The reason it was created in the US was to promote the creation of science and the "useful" arts. I think a free and unrestricted internet is more useful for that then copyright is, and clearly science and art are still being created despite rampant piracy. So from a practical, society-wide view it's not a problem.)

Anyway, I think what actually happens is not that people change their mind because of other people's arguments, but refine their own views by talking about it. But if people always make the same arguments without even acknowledging or trying to understand the people who disagree with them, then it does become kind of pointless.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really want to remind people that before you go pirate music from labels, there's a lot of really awesome music that artists choose to distribute for free. I'm a fan of electronic music and I've been really satisfied with some netlabel releases.

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if an FPP exists suggesting places one can hear or download free music?
posted by zarq at 8:09 PM on June 19, 2012


Also I don't really appreciate being called out when I had written only 12 of the 472 comments in the thread, which puts me in something like 10th place for busiest poster, with only 8 of those comments being made today, and not particularly fighty ones at that.
posted by anigbrowl


I'll bite, anigbrowl. You were definitely getting under my skin over there. Not specifically because you were being fighty but because, bluntly, I felt there were some very incise, thoughtful comments being made as to the deep complexities of the issue, but you seemed to just keep returning to your initial point of view (ie: not taking the time to really think through what folks were saying).

And I'm talking about today here. Yesterday was a different situation. It all felt very reflex. Battle lines were quickly drawn (familiar indeed), open warfare followed. But overnight, it felt to me that things were settling down a bit, some fresh perspectives were evolving. People were listening to each other ...

And then all of a sudden we were back at it. People were trying to WIN. And yeah, it seemed your username was very much a volatile part of that mix. I guess I noticed it more than others because your POV on filesharing/downloading tends to run counter to mine.
posted by philip-random at 8:10 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the crux of the problem is that this always devolves into the amorality of stealing vs. amorality of charging money for art. One side is on the defense for being called thieves. The other unhappy at being portrayed as worthless.

I'm an artist whose had first hand experience with my work involuntarily put out on filesharing sites and I was none too pleased. I'm sure there are others who get set off with the "fuck you, that's the way of the future, get used to it or get a job" type of comments. It also doesn't help with the holier than thou "Stealing is stealing, period" nonsense.

It all becomes a lot of rhetorical parrying over some really silly subset issues (legal definitions, libraries and radio, digital vs analog and on and on). The points raised in the original article disappeared under a wave of snipe and nitpickery.

Despite all that, I have gotten some good insights from folks on both sides and I'm hopeful that this new technological era can provide artists a good living.
posted by jabo at 8:11 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are two permissible positions on this issue on MetaFilter:

a) Copying anything is exactly the same thing as stealing physical objects from people. Releasing you own work under any kind of some rights reserved license is exactly the same as stealing from other people, and anybody who disputes this is a thief.

b) We are already have more art, music a books than we'll ever need. We don't need more of them. Artists, musicians and writers are idiots who'll make stuff anyway whether they get paid or not. They don't deserve to get paid because they're fucking stupid, and nobody needs "aht" anyway.

Anyone whose thinking does not completely align with one of those positions is run off of any thread about the subject, so there's no possibility of any actual discussion. I still try to participate in discussions about other contentious issues like religion and feminism, but I've completely given up on this one.
posted by nangar at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sebmojo, is this a rhetorical question? Are you making some kind of argument that that this topic shouldn't come up again or something?

I don't know where people get this "No one's going to change their mind" thing. People change their minds all the time, for all kinds of reasons-- including, in my own experience, internet discussions.
posted by BibiRose at 4:57 PM on June 19 [+] [!]


Less fliply, I think that taking a step back and asking if there's a better way to have this kind of discussion is worthwhile.

I've got some food for thought out of the discussion, so for me at least it hasn't been a waste of time.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2012


Some folks hold this opinion, unshaken after hundreds of threads....what the fuck are they doing in the threads anymore?

Same thing as the people who are saying they deserve to have stuff for free because corporations are bad. I'm a strong believer in the idea of copyright but I think the current legal regime is a terrible failure and have little sympathy for the RIAA and other aggressive 'defenders' of intellectual property who are trying to sue individuals for absurd amounts. On the other hand quite a few of the people defending piracy have the moral sensibility of a spoiled 3-year old and make a lot of irrational arguments in support of their position.

The thing is, it's all very well to say that bands can make money by touring, but a lot of solo musicians aren't in a band or in a good position to go on tour - and there are parallel challenges facing indie filmmakers and similar. The internet does reward creativity and one can get famous quickly and make money in the process, but there's a real dearth of legal certainty. This (among other factors) has made the internet age a very difficult time for a lot of people who work in the arts, as Roger Corman explains. If you don't make it big, then you may not make it at all. This is a temporary state of affairs, to be sure, but a brighter future doesn't pay the bills. I make music for pleasure but worked int he indie film scene for a decade. I've given up on the idea of a long-term career in that field, because it's not practical unless I'm willing to up and move the family to LA or NY. The bottom has fallen out of the low-budget film market, because if you can't afford to spend 50% of the budget on marketing then it's going to be very, very difficult to break even. You can't get a distribution deal if you don't have an audience, and it's hard to find an audience when there's so much material available for free on teh interwebz. That has a pretty devastating effect on production budgets and thus pay for crew and cast members. It's not insurmountable, but it's very challenging.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:16 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can't we all agree that illicit copying can definitely be bad (depending on the circumstances), even if it isn't theft?

Absolutely. But nuancing the distinction between bad things is much more important than some give credit to. Either downplay copyright on one hand, or make it equivalent to theft on the other, and you do not have a discussion that is adequately parsed to be helpful. This is why I think these kinds of discussions are actually helpful, although they always tend to go around in circles. It's an educational process, albeit frustrating at times.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:19 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Same thing as the people who are saying they deserve to have stuff for free because corporations are bad.

That opinion doesn't come along with calling other Mefites in the conversation liars and thieves. I'm not talking about just saying copyright is stealing there. I'm talking about, "You people are just making excuses for your stealing" which implies bad faith arguing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2012


I was in a copyright thread once. Apart from me threatening to punch the infringer in the dick, I think it went pretty well.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2012


What I don't really understand is why these people don't seem to understand that different people can have different sets of underlying moral assumptions.

Yeah, but that's the old question of "why are people wrong, when I am right?" the four possible answers are because they are stupid, because they are ignorant, because they are crazy, or because they are malicious. Only answers two and three inspire any trace of compassion in the righteous, and often not much of that.
posted by Diablevert at 8:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


*And those who have the concrete-hardheadedness to claim their position is simple and obviously true, which does come from both sides and seems clearly not to be the case.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:23 PM on June 19, 2012


I think we should all just agree that Mark Twain was wrong and move on.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:26 PM on June 19, 2012


I guess I kind of changed my mind in the sense that I used to feel a slight sensation of guilt prior to torrenting. The repeated hectoring rage-filled threads have had the pleasant effect of making me not have a single fuck to give any longer. If that's the hill someone wants to die on, or more likely the hill someone wants to sacrifice me to the gods of copyright on, then so be it.
posted by elizardbits at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think minds are changing, but not necessarily because of discussions like this one, just going with the flow of the zeitgeist. It does seem over time that the "content creators have no right to be paid" crowd is growing, which depresses me.

For me it's pretty simple: I treat other people's created works as I like mine to be treated. I pay for them, if there is a way to do so and they're not, like, many decades old. (The effectively perpetual incremental lenghening of copyright terms is something I don't agree with, and would be content with a shorter term for my own works, so I'm not being hypocritical there.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:31 PM on June 19, 2012


Anyway, I think what actually happens is not that people change their mind because of other people's arguments, but refine their own views by talking about it. But if people always make the same arguments without even acknowledging or trying to understand the people who disagree with them, then it does become kind of pointless.

Ummm, yeah, this? I'm happy to slug this out with people, because I do learn from it. My opinion on this subject (like most) has become much more nuanced over the years.

I'm going to disagree pretty vehemently with delmoi and empath and others, but I don't think badly of them for it. Maybe if we all extend a little good faith, we can have enthusiastic, even passioned debate?
posted by malocchio at 8:31 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, because the people who insist "copyright infringement is theft" either have not read the law, do not understand the law, or refuse to accept what the law actually says. So around and around we go.
posted by mattdidthat


You're so sure of yourself. Are you a lawyer then?

I'm an anthropologist interested in cultural variation in how ideas are understood as property.

I teach graduate courses on intellectual property law, and do applied work in the field of Native American cultural heritage management which centers on questions of IP law and ethical use of cultural property. Your naive representation of the law depends on a very literal use of the term "theft" and a failure to acknowledge a long history of IP's relationship to "real" property (and a broader perspective on social and political power) being a subject of serious legal and scholarly debate. There are different kinds of "theft" recognized under all of the legal traditions that lead to modern civil and criminal law.

Plenty of copyright and cultural propert right infringement is ethically stealing, whether or not it is criminally defined as such. Call it anything you like, but many creative people know how it feels to ave the value of their work stolen by people who don't believe any law should apply to them.

Experience tells me most people who have knee jerk black and white answers that are supposedly settled by a simple matter of what a law says in print form rather than in practice and litigation are really the ones who either "don't understand the law" (which law of thousands affecting the US alone?) or who want to justify their 5 terabyte collection of torrented action movies.
posted by spitbull at 8:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I took a couple negotiation + conflict resolution courses a few years back. One suggestion I find I keep reflecting on is:

When you're in the midst of a conflict and you're convinced you're right, it's a good time to get curious about the other point of view. Stop making your points. Start asking questions.
posted by philip-random at 8:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest

Because of some comments I read on Metafilter, I rented a seedbox and joined a couple private trackers. It's a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Modern bittorent web frontends are pretty great.

(This is maybe not the response you're looking for, but it's what happened.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:37 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm standing with FunnyJunk
posted by KokuRyu at 8:38 PM on June 19, 2012

I think minds are changing, but not necessarily because of discussions like this one, just going with the flow of the zeitgeist. It does seem over time that the "content creators have no right to be paid" crowd is growing, which depresses me.
It depends on the context. If you were on Slashdot in the 90s early 2000s, it seemed like it was 100% in favor of file sharing. At least 90%.
posted by delmoi at 8:41 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


posted by spitbull You're so sure of yourself. Are you a lawyer then? I'm an anthropologist interested in cultural variation in how ideas are understood as property. I teach graduate courses on intellectual property law, and

posted by jessamyn (staff) Seriously, do not have this argument here.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:42 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It still amazes me to hear people publicly brag about having broken laws and stolen other people's work product as it were a heroic blow against a monolithic corporate foe, and every time I see it I secretly hope what comes around goes around and those people have their livelihood looted by the masses waving righteous banners.

Hell, while you're at it, why stop there? Lots of people leave their houses unlocked. The other day I saw a nice bike just leaned against a store window, clearly I was being invited to share it and pass it on!
posted by spitbull at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hard to not have an argument when comments like yours ate allowed to stand unchallenged at the top of the thread, but good job hiding behind the teacher's desk.
posted by spitbull at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Comments like his were made in the thread before we asked people to knock off rehashing the old arguments. Yours were not. Feel free to go to the MeFi thread already in progress. it's not okay to continue this argument here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:46 PM on June 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


The relentless use of hyperbole and 'you think this, therefore I will create an extreme, tenuous, and obviously different situation' argumentative tactics destroys discussion.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:49 PM on June 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, someone is wrong on the internet. jfc...
posted by the_artificer at 8:49 PM on June 19, 2012


It still amazes me to hear people publicly brag about having broken laws and stolen other people's work product as it were a heroic blow against a monolithic corporate foe

If this is what you think is going on in these discussion, it makes me feel that you aren't paying attention. It's not about bragging about stealing (for those who are trying hard), it's actually about fine-tuning our understanding of what's happening so that responses are just and just across the board. It's not about harboring criminals, but about preventing abuses of power, as well.

I'm amazed, to be honest, that people couch this discussion under such tired and limited distinctions. And to be frank, not seeing the broader and more nuanced discussion is what makes me think that this ongoing discussion is still necessary, despite how much it goes around in circles.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:50 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I kind of changed my mind in the sense that I used to feel a slight sensation of guilt prior to torrenting. The repeated hectoring rage-filled threads have had the pleasant effect of making me not have a single fuck to give any longer. If that's the hill someone wants to die on, or more likely the hill someone wants to sacrifice me to the gods of copyright on, then so be it.

The thing I find most sad about this is that it sounds like most of my colleagues in finance, and increasingly like myself.

OH WELL
posted by malocchio at 8:50 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I'm not relitigating the argument. I'm questioning an authoritative legal pronouncement that responds to the topic of this Meta by saying "anyone who doesnt see it my way is stupid because The Law.". And I'm asking mattdidthat for the basis of his asserted expertise so I know whether to change my mind about a subject I've worked on closely for a decade.

But ok, I too find this argument boing, and often abhorrent. Outta here. Still don't know if Matt is a lawyer or not.
posted by spitbull at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2012


Out of curiosity, does anyone know if an FPP exists suggesting places one can hear or download free music?

There was this post about psytrance not too long ago. I'm sure there have been others. I don't know if there's any kind of aggregator out there for listening to and downloading free quality music online, or if someone has a bunch of links to a variety of places, I would hope that whomever has that information would make an FPP about it.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, hippybear! I'll go through the music tag when I have a moment, and see if I can find anything.
posted by zarq at 8:57 PM on June 19, 2012


Spaceman, I am indeed paying close attention. I just disagree with you. And the actual question in this meta is "has anyone ever changed their minds in one of these arguments," to which I am suggesting (and I think agreeing with you) is that there is not a single morally or legally correct set of positions one can hold without considering a host of contextual factors and a complex and contradictory body of law, practice, and precedent. Any analogy is hyperbolic with respect to some of its entailments. But not others.
posted by spitbull at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2012


Spaceman, I am indeed paying close attention.

For the record, I shouldn't have said that, and I'm sorry I didn't give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I felt a bit frustrated (and not because I have an interest in torrents).

here is not a single morally or legally correct set of positions one can hold without considering a host of contextual factors and a complex and contradictory body of law, practice, and precedent.

I would agree with you here. I just worry a bit when those desiring a careful discussion on those necessary distinctions are interpreted as primarily desiring to commit crimes or something. But if I understand you correctly, you may have been worried about a similar thing, but from the other angle.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:05 PM on June 19, 2012


I'm betting that 99% of the people who make statements like this don't actually create anything for a living.

blaneyphoto: The person you're arguing with (mattdidthat) is a creative who works in design and other media or similar, and he's someone who has made a bunch of cool stuff for MetaFilter in his free time. There's a "favorite button" on my jacket that he made that's one of those little circular concert pins with just a [+] on it. He's also made some cool ID cards and posters and such that he's given away.

I'm also something of an creative producer. I do graphics and some technical writing who understands some of the actual nuts and bolts of copyright law, and I agree with his position.

I'm not here to actually debate the copyright issue, just your presumptions about people who hold this opinion. There are plenty of people who actually generate content and who don't like the current use and/or abuse of copyright law.

I also give a whole bunch of creative writing away on this site. It may have been more profitable to me if I'd started a blog over a decade ago with all the other cool kids, but writing and debating here on MetaFilter has made me a better writer than going it alone would have.

Just because someone argues that current copyright law is broken or that infringement is frequently misconstrued as legally defined theft (It's not - unless the infringer is actually engaging counterfeiting, which is covered by it's own set of laws here in the US) doesn't mean that A) they're not content producers themselves or B) that they engage in copyright infringement in, say, the form of downloading movies or that they're defending such practices.

It's a logical fallacy to use the argument "I bet you people don't even produce anything!" when the opposite is often equally true for people who are calling out Copyright law as frequently abused, misused or totally misunderstood and misconstrued by both the public at large and in particular many media companies over-zealously protecting their IP and copyright in spite of established, contrary laws.
posted by loquacious at 9:07 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's changed how I approach Metafilter and discussions about piracy, in that I tend to avoid them. I've hashed out the blunt truth that living overseas, there are very, very few things that I can actually legally enjoy in anything approaching a timely manner. Aside from the standard movie release scheduling bullshit, there is no legal way for me to watch something like The Wire on media purchased in Japan, and I doubt there ever will be. Without downloading or torrenting, sports are out, as is pretty much any TV show whose name isn't an acronym. A couple people have mentioned that, if they were in my shoes, they would do the same, then other people said that I should just accept the system as it is, and that I am a bad person for downloading. So, yeah, that changed for me.

On the other hand, I just found out about Dark Horse's online store, which sells pretty much every Hellboy and BPRD comic in existance, and wow, I need to save, cause that shit isn't cheap, and I need to find out what happened to Abe.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:08 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


xperience tells me most people who have knee jerk black and white answers that are supposedly settled by a simple matter of what a law says in print form rather than in practice and litigation are really the ones who either "don't understand the law" (which law of thousands affecting the US alone?) or who want to justify their 5 terabyte collection of torrented action movies.

Experience tells me that this is not the way you make your case. Do not presume what the other side is, or knows, or believes. Definitely do not choose to caricature them. Not if you actually want to engage with them. If you wish to hector them, however, and be ignored or screamed at by them, this is an awesome way to do it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why does every single MeTa thread on this issue simply refight the argument from the original post?
posted by tyllwin at 9:18 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because some people can't resist the "theft" attack and other people can't resist stomping on it because it's offensively stupid fucking bullshit.
posted by fleacircus at 9:31 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why aren't we doing this topic well?

Because it's a hot-button issue for a lot of people.

It's really not much more complicated than that.

Is there no possibility of finding common ground

In the heat of the thread? No. The best you can do is present your position in a calm and respectful way, in such a way that perhaps the reader will remember your words at a quieter time, and then walk away. The sooner everyone gets their blood cooled, the sooner they can actually think about the topic.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:32 PM on June 19, 2012


I feel very much caricatured in turn every time I take any position other than Copyright Sucks on metafilter. My experience is what it is.

Every year I reach an undergrad course in which I fist get all the students totally revved up about the bullshit way the corporate media use copyright to protect monopolies, screw artists and consumers, and harass the powerless to make examples out of them.

Then I get them in full agreement that sacred Native American rituals shouldn't be surreptitiously videotaped and released on for profit recordings, that there is something immoral about appropriating culturally specific knowledge without consent, respect, or compensation.

Then we spend the rest of the semester reading Lessig and Coombe and Brown and other major is scenting perspectives on these issues.

We have trouble agreeing because we argue past each other, invoking different ethical frameworks and analogies and hypothetical cases. And we have biases, I admit. I'm a former professional musician and songwriter, and an author. I've found my own work illegally duplicated and freely shared without permission many imes, but I also share a lot of it freely. So I apologize for snarking. I'm vey invested in open source and free culture ideologies too. I think the future needs to include a vast digital commons fom which little is excluded, but in which claims of ownership are acknowledged, respected, fairly adjudicated, and where appropriate, people get paid or get to chose to give their work away or not.

But I also think "the law" is frequently invoked hyperbolically by all sides (and there are way more than two). There isn't one "the law" governing IP, even in the US. There are literally hundreds of laws and international conventions, many of which are contradictory, corrupt, uneborced or selectively enforced, and generally biased toward corporate and first world power and interests. And even "the law," in any given case (let us say the federal copyright statutes) exists only in its messy interpretation, which is constantly changing and barely keeps up with technological innovation, if it does.

So I oncede (and know) people can have good faith differences on these issues, but not if either side claims it represents "the law" as it that were some clear, final, divine arbiter of all matters, any mre than "thou shalt not steal" meant the same thing to Mses as it means to me.
posted by spitbull at 9:33 PM on June 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


(Is scenting = dissenting)

Now I'm done, I promise.
posted by spitbull at 9:34 PM on June 19, 2012


I have several well oiled Pandora stations if you're interested. My Royksopp/Kid Loco/Fila Brazilia station is particularly choice at the moment. Memail me if you want it.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:08 PM on June 19, 2012


spitbull, I realize you're talking about your class here, but this is also ...

METAFILTER: We have trouble agreeing because we argue past each other, invoking different ethical frameworks and analogies and hypothetical cases. And we have biases,
posted by philip-random at 10:38 PM on June 19, 2012


These threads never directly change my mind, but I like reading them and seeing people's justifications for their beliefs. Some justifications are crazypants, but some of them are well-written and at least interesting to read.

That thread gave me an opportunity to really think about and articulate my own feelings, which I think was helpful.
posted by topoisomerase at 10:43 PM on June 19, 2012


Yeah I got involved in one copyright thread, once. That was enough, the hyperbole, simplistic arguments and viciousness - on both sides of the argument - by the same ten or so people really really put me off. They always tend to get very personal, very fast.
posted by smoke at 11:02 PM on June 19, 2012


These threads shit me up and no mistake, and yet I find them totally compelling, which is not good for me. There are interesting and nuanced things being said on both sides; there's also a lot of pretty horrific stuff too. Sometimes this seems to be in the recognizable and usual style of the posters involved; sometimes people really do seem to have an asshole switch that's flipped by the C word.

As for changing minds: I used to download *everything*, and now download very little. Part of this has come from being much more involved with people at the sharp end of the creator / consumer relationship, but part of it certainly came from reading these kind of discussions and slowly being persuaded that a lot of my own justifications for freeloading were pretty spurious.

That said, for some reason the shittier end of the pro-copyist arguements do rattle me more than the shittier end of the antis; I think there's something in the taunting tone some take that really jars with me. I should learn to leave well alone, but I'm not succeeding well so far.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:02 AM on June 20, 2012


the C word

GOB's yacht?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:13 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I admit that I'll often take a particularly belligerent attitude in those threads, on the "pro-copyright" side, even though I do not particularly admire the content industry nor the way in which it has lobbied on its own behalf to get ever-longer copyright terms, for instance.

However, what swings me towards the pro-copyright side in these arguments, is that I am even more offended by the egregious self-righteousness and sense of entitlement I see in some of the "other side" in MeFi. We are really talking about just a handful of individuals, most of whose handles I could readily list here. However, as I try to avoid ad hominems, I respond in ways that other, more honest critics of the copyright system may resent as tarring them with the same broad brush as the "got mine, fuck you" crowd, which further exacerbates the debate.

And of course, it doesn't help that some of those particularly intense individuals are less reluctant than me to use ad homs and personal attacks. Frankly, I don't appreciate being personally called a corporate poodle in response to a reasonably well-argued, if sarcastic comment, and would prefer it if those people would stop it, or at least if the mods would crack down on such behaviour.
posted by Skeptic at 2:28 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it's any consolation, Skeptic, they are considered one of the smartest dogs.
posted by smoke at 2:32 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The biggest irony is that I am just as sarcastic as a critic in some intellectual property blogs, which has also earned me a fair few insults there, and even being mistaken for a sockpuppet of a well-known EFF activist.
posted by Skeptic at 3:12 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a content producer and while I don't think copyright abuse = theft and there are some good arguments for why filesharing may be commercially beneficial, my experience is that a lot of the arguments aren't ever starting from the same place.

That is: because there is a lot of content about, in lots of cases its value is going down. But the cost of content creation generally isn't falling at anything like the same rate. So when people debate the "value" of the content they're coming from totally different sides. And as a content producer it is obviously frustrating to find someone telling you that while you thought you were like a shop and got to set the sales price your buyer thinks it's a stock market and their demand sets the price.

What I find interesting is the broader idea of who is right between refuseniks and copyright libertarians - i.e. not who has the moral or legal right but ultimately how should the business model change? This is really the copyright debate I'd like to see.

Because while I find it irritating for someone like Cory Doctorow to bang on about his creative commons licensed novels when he has the luxury of an ad-funded blog and some sweet paying gigs one can't escape the fact that the same sort of business model has appeared in music with the growth of live concerts and festivals and filesharing being an advert for that.

The technology is driving new business models ahead of legal changes to copyright (hence the moves over paywalls and things like free pron aggregators actually funding content) and also that respect for IP is to some degree a function of necessity and highly relative: The US was once a notorious IP thief - hence the simultaneous first performance of the Pirates of Penzance in Paignton, Devon and New York. China is a notorious IP thief, but as it rapidly scales up its scientific and creative output so its laws are beginning to follow.

In short: I suspect we'll all change our copyright/IP views whether we think we will or not because of how much is in play: the technology, the business models, the "value" of content, the emergence of two big IP users/creators/competitors in India and China and lastly the pendulum swinging between copyright/restricted access and quality - a pretty standard maturity>commoditisation>fragmentation cycle.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:20 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

sense of entitlement
I don't even really get why this is supposed to be a bad thing anyway. If people didn't feel entitled to things they didn't have: freedom, the vote, health care, civil rights, alchohol, the right to collective bargaining and so on there would never be any progress in the first place.

I'm an American. This is the land of self-entitlement. It's also the most prosperous country in the world. Deal with it.
posted by delmoi at 3:34 AM on June 20, 2012


Deal with it

Thank god we got through that single post where people weren't paying attention to you
posted by ominous_paws at 3:44 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


delmoi: I'm an American. This is the land of self-entitlement. It's also the most prosperous country in the world. Deal with it.

That's you making a joke playing on stereotypes, right?
posted by gman at 4:13 AM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


My opinion hasn't really changed but my habits have, inasmuch as I download much less now. But I also buy much less now. Surprisingly, it was Mike Masnick (an opponent of the current copyright system) that presented the strongest argument I've ever heard against downloading. His point is basically that you shouldn't download because it's illegal and if you get caught doing it and sued, you could potentially be on the hook for a great deal of money. That was essentially the argument that worked for me. It's the same reasoning that causes me to wait for the light to turn green even when there are no other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists around.
posted by Ritchie at 4:48 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "I'm an American. This is the land of self-entitlement."

me (Trying to resist the pull of the Dark Side. Failing miserably): "Feeling entitled is not the same as being entitled. Example: if you feel entitled to take my car, I may be entitled to smash your face. At least in some states. It's an important nuance."
posted by Skeptic at 4:49 AM on June 20, 2012


Well, why is having a sense of entitlement a bad thing? I don't get it. I do think having a sense of entitlement is part of American culture. The "persuit of happiness" is 1/3rd of the reason of having the country in the first place. Sometimes the things people feel entitled too are impractical, and other times they are not. Sometimes people feel entitled to conflicting things, in which case you have the political system work it out.

It seems like some people are completely unable to deal with the fact that some people don't care about the things they feel that they are entitled too (like being entitled to prevent people from sharing their creative output without their permission, which is as much an entitlement as everything else)

In a sense "rights" and "entitlements" are the same thing, but in the sense the constitution uses it the entitlements actually come from 'the creator' (god or some deistic first mover), the government can only take those rights away, and in the constitution congress is banned from messing with some of them (i.e, the right to free speech, assembly, and so on). They are natural rights baked into reality.

Anyway, I have no idea why having a sense of entitlement is a bad thing.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 AM on June 20, 2012


Also, delmoi, those other things you name that you feel entitled to? They had (sometimes still have) to be earned. You may (rightfully, in my opinion) feel entitled to healthcare, but someone still has to pay the doctors and nurses, who also have a rightful claim to a decent pay. You may feel entitled to alcohol, but again someone has to brew the beer. Even freedom, the vote and civil rights, which were earned through the hard effort of people much better than ourselves, and who generously left us that legacy, require some effort on our part in their defence (something which we arguably may not be doing adequately).
posted by Skeptic at 4:59 AM on June 20, 2012


Anyway, I have no idea why having a sense of entitlement is a bad thing.

You have no idea about a lot of other things either. But yack, yack, yack.
posted by Wolof at 5:17 AM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


It seems like some people are completely unable to deal with the fact that some people don't care about the things they feel that they are entitled too (like being entitled to prevent people from sharing their creative output without their permission, which is as much an entitlement as everything else)

Except that the latter is much more easily defendable, even in a practical sense: you don't want to compensate me for "sharing" my creative output? Alright, stuff creativity, I'll become an insurance salesman instead. You can't "share" my creative output if I don't have any.

The case for intellectual property is much more an utilitarian than a purely moral one. Of course, because of sheer fairness, we don't want great creators to die in abject poverty, like Cervantes, even as their work is shared across borders thanks to technology (in Cervantes' age, the printing press). But above all, great talent can also be mercenary, and, since you mention the US Constitution, its Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 very clearly acknowledged that by giving Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".
posted by Skeptic at 5:18 AM on June 20, 2012


Just because people don't have public road-to-Ephesus epiphanies

In my Bible, it's a road-to-Damascus epiphany, but I downloaded it from some Russian site and I can't vouch for the accuracy.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:19 AM on June 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


er, I meant I have no idea why having a sense of entitlement is supposed to be a bad thing. In fact, it seems like a good thing, since it motivates people to try to change things if they feel they feel they are being denied, and thus required for social progress.
those other things you name that you feel entitled to? ... require some effort on our part in their defence
Huh? That doesn't answer my question at all. I asked what the problem is with a sense of entitlement was. In other words, in the expression "A sense of entitlement is bad because ... X" What's X? You seem to be saying something about how having some requires work? or something?

The constitutions view is that some rights are intrinsic, and require the government to work to take them away. Now obviously the government can take them away, in which case it does require effort to restore what had been taken away. This is a pretty important point in the philosophical framework of the US constitution and one explanation for why Americans might feel a "sense of entitlement" (plus your basic complacency from being living the richest, most awesome country in the world for several decades of economic growth and technological advancements)

The whole problem is that you seem unable to process the idea that other people have different ideas about what they are and are not entitled to do. It's weird, and seems a little ridiculous.

As I said, different people have different views on what they feel entitled to do. When there is a conflict, you have a political process to work it out. In the case of internet copyright reform, the copyright side just suffered a pretty major political defeat.

Now, you might argue that file-sharing isn't technically legal, but it's not something that's widely enforced. In the US there are lots of undocumented immigrants who went to high-school, college, etc despite the fact that it is technically illegal for them to be here. The Obama administration just promised not to deport them and granted them work permits. Someone like you might say that they feel a "sense of entitlement" that they have where they feel they are entitled to stay in the country.

Well, politically, it just worked out for them, even though they are still technically not here legally.

The US has all kinds of weird nonsense where something is technically illegal but effectively allowed due to a lack of an enforcement mechanism. You're not legally allowed to get student loans if you have a drug conviction, but they removed the question from loan applications so in effect it's legal, because there is no enforcement mechanism.

SOPA would have been an enforcement mechanism to deal with internet copyright infringement, and it failed.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Except that the latter is much more easily defendable, even in a practical sense: you don't want to compensate me for "sharing" my creative output?
I have no interest in your creative output.
Alright, stuff creativity, I'll become an insurance salesman instead.
Go ahead.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 AM on June 20, 2012


Good morning. When most Americans refer to "The Law," they refer to article 17 USC, the federal copyright statutes. Therefore, to address an earlier statement that "The Law" unequivocally distinguishes between civil infringement (of ideas) and criminal theft (of Real property) let me cite the relevant portion, which is 17 USC ch. 5, S. 506, that criminalizes many forms of infringement for commercial gain. It doesn't use the word "theft," as it is still "infringement." but you can go to jail for pirating certain kinds of content either for personal gain or in a manner that directly causes sufficient economic loss ($1000, I believe) to the creator of unreleased content, or that involves a sufficient quantity of specific infringements. Intent to profit from infringement is required, and not always easy to prove. But you bet you can go to jail and the theory under which that might happen is that you are stealing from someone else with monetary consequences for them.

As I said above, my position is nuanced on all of this. I don't believe most of the cases of infringement RIAA Or MPAA (boo, hiss!) prosecute have merit as "theft.". But their position isn't spurious either or in all cases. I study this shit in a serious way. I try to help mediate solutions in situations where laws don't exist, come into conflict between sovereign entities (federal copyright law, unusually, explicitly does not override state or sovereign tribal law). And plenty of people on the pro-copyright side of the debate throw around " Because The Law" dismissals of any argument for fair use or open source or shared culture too. Maybe actually more so, producing that lovely circular argument where something is wrong because the law says so, which has sustained all religions and most states for all of modern human history.

My point, which is related to this Meta's question and not to litigating the underlying issue, is that people who invoke Becauze The Law explanations for why someone else is wrong and imply that if that someone else simply knew and respected The Law, we wouldn't have to have these disagreeable arguments are usually *themselves* ignorant of what the actual lawS actually do specify, or how variable and contextual their application must be. As I sometimes tell students, all ownership claims are open to further negotiation in practice.


Before citing The Law (for baseline purposes for most Americans, your state or tribe may vary and international agreement may apply) maybe some people would like to actually read it. So here it is.


A few years back I had a wonderful student (now finishing up a Tier 1 JD) law school, who wrote a paper in which she interviewed the greet corner sellers of pirated DVDs in the Bronx. (She was a fearless kid. I think she'll wind up a prosecutor.). They were all PISSED OFF at the Internet file sharing revolution because those pirates had killed their perfectly lucrative and long established personalized and local piracy business. Seriously.
posted by spitbull at 5:31 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, STREET corner, not greet corner. IPad spellcheck disaster number 23 for the day.
posted by spitbull at 5:34 AM on June 20, 2012


I've learned lots from copyright threads, but I personally find sexism threads less frustrating than copyright ones to be involved in.
posted by rtha at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: Well, why is having a sense of entitlement a bad thing? I don't get it. I do think having a sense of entitlement is part of American culture.

What about "entitlement" to other countries' resources while attempting to satiate an obviously unsustainable appetite? Isn't this sort of attitude what brings your country into wars?
posted by gman at 5:50 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Funny how sexual harassment and fair use are approached from opposite perspectives here by many, isn't it?

The underlying ethical principle is similar: get permission first, pay for it if it has a price, and don't be selfishly entitled with no respect for someone else's feelings or personal sovereignty. There are situations where it is prescriptively not OK to even ask, but most of the time you can take someone out on a date if you ask nicely, have no intention of profiting at the expense of your date, and don't put your hands where they are not welcome.
posted by spitbull at 5:50 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole problem is that you seem unable to process the idea that other people have different ideas about what they are and are not entitled to do.

I've "processed" that perfectly, otherwise I wouldn't be writing here. I am even ready to acknowledge that some people may have good reasons to feel entitled which I haven't recognised so far, otherwise I wouldn't be reading here. However, so far, I haven't been convinced by the reasons which have been proposed, and I'm certainly not going to be convinced by a simple "because I feel so", which is what you appear to offer.

As for my own creative output, don't worry, you are not missing much. However, please be aware that there may be other people whose creative output you may appreciate, who may indeed turn to other careers if people don't compensate them for that output.
posted by Skeptic at 5:51 AM on June 20, 2012


It would be awesome if people would avoid making analogies.
posted by Packed Lunch at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2012


You act like analogies are the shit sandwich of rhetoric.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:09 AM on June 20, 2012


Not surprising that Packed Lunch doesn't like shit sandwiches.
posted by gman at 6:13 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I'm an American. This is the land of self-entitlement. It's also the most prosperous country in the world.

Let me guess. You've never been outside the continental 48?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:15 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should've closed it when I said it...

But even though it was the same old same old masochist twostep, still more fun than what was actually supposed to be doing today. Which is probably, if everybody's being honest, the real appeal of threads like that: get a bit shouty, work off some moral indignation, then go back to exactly what you were doing beforehand.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:48 AM on June 20, 2012


Should've closed it when I said it...

You know that the only way to "close" threads on MetaFilter is to basically delete them, right? This is basically the problem. If there's nothing deleteworthy about a thread but the conversation has been slowly turning toxic or the people in them are engaged in some sort of hostile grudge match to the death, we have a very small set of options on how to deal with them. It's a really rare thread [once a year? less] that we close because it's just out of control.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2012


Yeah, sorry, it wasn't actually a serious suggestion; I'm not yet under the delusion i'm the emperor of mefi...

It's just that once the first post comes in with copyright = theft or copyright = obsolete and immoral the shape of the discussion was predictable.

And I do get the feeling that for quite a few people on both sides (not necessarily excluding myself) this is what they want, to stake out their morality in public and bask in the warm glow of righteous grarr.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:20 AM on June 20, 2012


Out of curiosity, does anyone know if an FPP exists suggesting places one can hear or download free music?

In case you're still reading (or anyone else is interested) this one is awesome and will wash the horrors of this thread right out of your mind.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2012


Funny how sexual harassment and fair use are approached from opposite perspectives here by many, isn't it?

Because they're not at all the same?

My position on copyright and all other IP has evolved to the point where I think the moral rights of creators should be absolute and only be held by an actual living person (somewhat like this), but copyright should be limited or non-existent: you can republish what I wrote without my permission, but you cannot pretend you wrote it or omit attributing my words to me.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really see how we could expect the discussion to go well when the second article in the FPP is basically a hate-rant that blatantly and viciously misrepresents the content of the first, on an issue that's already contentious anyway.

That rant is a good illustration why we can't have a coherent discussion about copyright, piracy and internet distribution. He's too blinded by hate and anger to even take in what other people are saying. It's kind of disturbing that this guy actually teaches classes on the economics of the music industry, but depressingly, it's not very surprising.

Piracy is a problem, but screaming "thieves!" at everybody who actually tries to discuss what to do about it is not getting us closer to figuring out ways to deal with it.
posted by nangar at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But one would not need permission from Matt or anyone ekse if they made a book of their comments, correct?

Late reply, but to confirm: correct, no one needs permission to make a book quoting their own comments on Metafilter, or in general to quote/republish their own comments in any context. You retain authorship over the things you write here, so if you want to publish a perfect-bound edition of The World According To Mefite Moi or adapt your comments to a stage play or whatever, that's between you and yourself.

Publishing a thread in which you participated, or comments of yours that include quotations of comments by others, gets into more complicated territory because your copyright over your own words does not extend to an implicit copyright over the promixal words of others, but that's a more specific case and not really what you were asking as far as I can tell. Basically once anyone else's words are involved and there's any question about whether they might object, it's time to have a conversation with 'em.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2012


Most internet discourse is not an exchange of ideas; it's an exchange of artillery fire.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:28 AM on June 20, 2012


I don't know that they can be done well, if even in the MeTa, jessamyn had to get involved three times to tell people to stop arguing about the substance of the copyright issue and talk about the idea, and even then, people continued to argue at every point after saying that.

My opinion as to why actually comes down to Metafilter having a high presence of "creatives," authors, painters, crafters, etc, and their friends, who feel it's destroying artists. For those people, this is very, very personal. Many of the most vehement and angry attacks I saw on the pro-copyright side were from artists of some sort, who are personally impacted by filesharing or fear that they might someday be.

At the same time, Metafilter /also/ has a high presence of "open software" folks, who think that copyright is stifling to development, and love Linux and any opensource projects they can get their hands on. They may or may not even be interested in the music aspect, but when people start talking about the morality of copyright, they jump right into the fray.
posted by corb at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple of things I'll say which isn't just refighting the same thing is that I really wish there was less questioning of other people's motives and truthfulness, and less incivility that doesn't even advance an argument. More time defining terms so that we don't talk past each other.

But what is anyone proposing be done? Are people asking for "more active moderation?" Or just pleading for more civility from their fellow users? Or are they asking that, like a Palin or I/P post, there be a high bar to avoid summary deletion, or what?
posted by tyllwin at 9:16 AM on June 20, 2012


Most internet discourse is not an exchange of ideas; it's an exchange of artillery fire.

Sometimes I shout INCOMING before hitting Post Comment.
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That specific thread caused me to revisit my thoughts on the matter and my behaviour has already changed as a result. So, yes?
posted by 256 at 9:23 AM on June 20, 2012


We have trouble agreeing because we argue past each other, invoking different ethical frameworks and analogies and hypothetical cases.

my experience is that a lot of the arguments aren't ever starting from the same place.

Echoing these. It's not so much that "copyright discussions" go badly, it's that people fundamentally disagree about what a "copyright discussion" is about -- and thus we have six or seven different and interrelated discussions all overlapping and interconnecting with each other. Some people talk about legality, some people about ethicality, some people about practicality (and some people about oher -alitiys that I haven't thought to name here). All of those frameworks inform each other (see: people who argue that legality = morality, or that practical outcomes decide the morality of downloading), so it's very easy for persons A & B commenting on different sides of, say, the legality debate to prompt a response from person C who really cares about ethicality -- and because language is imprecise, person C might not even know that he/she is approaching the issue from a different direction.

Part of what can make copyright discussions interesting is that they encompasses all these different ideas. I tend not to comment in them, but I do enjoy reading them and I think they probably have shifted my opinions in some respects. It's hard to say for sure, because changes of opinion can be gradual as well as sudden.
posted by cjelli at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


sense of entitlement

I don't even really get why this is supposed to be a bad thing anyway. If people didn't feel entitled to things they didn't have: freedom, the vote, health care, civil rights, alchohol, the right to collective bargaining and so on there would never be any progress in the first place.


All of the the things you mention had to be fought for on one level or another, often with blood shed, lives lost, permanent scars. Demanding your rightful share of something when someone has died/bled for that right, and being ignorant (often smugly) of that dying/bleeding -- I believe that's why folks get all wound up about entitlement.

I live in a town where there have never been enough good live music venues. I know this because I've heard the same f***ing complaint from musicians etc for over three decades now. And maybe there aren't as many now as they'd like, but trust me, there are far more than there used to be.

Because I remember when there truly weren't enough venues, certainly for my kind of music (punk, avant, alternative before it got a capital "A"), so pretty much every gig was illegal -- a squat, the back of an autobody shop, an abandoned youth club. And the cops seemed to enjoy busting in, bashing a few heads. Or sometimes it was a gang, pursuing some turf-related issue or just out to revel in some ultra-violence. Bottom line -- the current situation (imperfect as it is) had to be fought for (with blood shed) and those who are benefiting, generally don't get it.

Oh well, same thing will happen to them on some other issue when they're older. It is the right, the entitlement (the duty even) of the young to be ignorant of the past; just as it seems it's the right, the entitlement (the duty even) of the more mature to forget what asses they were when they were young.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 AM on June 20, 2012


corb, although I don't belong to either of those groups, I think you are right. Also, the "anti" sentiment among the IT crowd is not limited to FOSS advocates: many ISPs do profit from meeting the bandwidth demand raised by not-always-legal downloads, and some other major IT companies also have quite a lot at stake. Hence a diffuse hostility towards IP across much of this branch.

There's also a reflexive defensiveness on both sides of the argument which in both cases comes from having not-quite-clean consciences. On one hand the content industry tends to over-egg its case to cover up the fact that it is often the first to rob creators, and also that it is way too close to lawmakers, repeatedly pushing through and trying to push through a number of laws and treaties favouring them behind closed doors. On the other hand, among the "anti" forces, those who genuinely believe in copyright reform and have thought quite deeply about this (especially among the FOSS crowd), are often joined by people who, well, just want stuff for free, and who will offer the most outrageous rationalisations to cover up that fact.
posted by Skeptic at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2012


My opinion as to why actually comes down to Metafilter having a high presence of "creatives," authors, painters, crafters, etc, and their friends, who feel it's destroying artists.

[...]

At the same time, Metafilter /also/ has a high presence of "open software" folks, who think that copyright is stifling to development, and love Linux and any opensource projects they can get their hands on.


And this is precisely why Metafilter is the place to have this discussion/argument (whatever you want to call it), because the two worlds meet here. The key, of course, is that people actually shut up every now and then and listen to the what the other side is saying. Not just long enough to pull a quote that they can eviscerate ... but to actually reach a point where empathy is possible.

That's when meaningful change can begin to happen.
posted by philip-random at 9:38 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


My opinion as to why actually comes down to Metafilter having a high presence of "creatives," authors, painters, crafters, etc, and their friends, who feel it's destroying artists.

When was this mythical time when being an artist guaranteed a decent living?
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on June 20, 2012


When was this mythical time when being an artist guaranteed a decent living?

You keep saying things along the lines of "guaranteed". There’s a world of difference between "guaranteed" and "given a fair chance".

There have only been brief times when slavery wasn’t the norm and many other progressive ideas. I understand the argument that "things have always been that way" but I don’t think it’s an ideal to try and live up to.

We’re going backwards. We should stop.
posted by bongo_x at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2012


Personally speaking, it gave me food for thought on both sides of the issue and at least in the part I read, people were being civil.

Since when does a topic causing discussion lead to it being devalued as a topic for a post? Isn't the point of this website to engender discussion?
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> At the same time, Metafilter /also/ has a high presence of "open software" folks, who think that copyright is stifling to development, and love Linux and any opensource projects they can get their hands on.

Just to clear up a misconception (that fortunately seems less common than it used to be): Linux is copyrighted and distributed under the GPL, a fairly complicated some-rights-reserved license that protects users' right to modify the software (if you know how and need to do that) while at the same time protecting the copyright holders from commercial piracy. This right to modify but not pirate has been critical to Linux's success in spheres where it's widely used.

Most open source or free software is released under variants of this license or similar licenses, and companies have been sued for releasing knock-offs of GPLed software in violation of the license terms. It would be wrong to assume that Linux users and open source enthusiasts don't care about copyright or are pro-piracy.


This isn't directly relevant to music. This type of licensing is pretty specific to software and specific software projects. However, copyright, licensing, distribution and piracy are more complicated issues than the 'you're a thief' level of discourse here would suggest, especially when it comes to internet distribution.
posted by nangar at 11:12 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?

Regarding actual copyright issues? No.

But in that thread I read many posts that I agreed with from MeFites who I'm pretty sure I disagree with about lots of social/political/economic issues, and vice versa.

So, y'know, vive le difference, and hopefully in the future if I'm ever tempted to go Full Grar on one of those users, I can think back and remember, "Hey, I've seen evidence that they're not totally full of shit," and then take a deep breath and post my counter-arguments respectfully.

FWIW.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2012


publishing rights for this comment are available. memail me for particulars.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:22 AM on June 20, 2012


memail is protected by patents belonging to MetaFilter Networks Inc. Do you accept carrier pigeon?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2012


It would be wrong to assume that Linux users and open source enthusiasts don't care about copyright or are pro-piracy.

I don't think anyone can speak for all open source advocates, but the explicit purpose of the GPL was to use the copyright system to destroy itself, by creating a license that infects every piece of software it touches.

The whole point was to allow free copying and modification by anyone. That they used copyright to accomplish it is a brilliant legal hack, but Stallman, etc, would have been far happier with no software copyrights at all.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on June 20, 2012


Snail mail carried by actual snails only.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2012


Quonsar, I'll give you a 6 pack of Michelob and a pack of Lucky Strikes.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:07 PM on June 20, 2012


Ironmouth changed some opinions I was holding in his early contributions in the thread -- I tuned out when it got a bit fighty, and I'm sure there were some compelling conversations had since then, but he made some concise and cogent points that pretty much flipped me to being a non-pirate rather than a pirate-of-whatever-justification-I-can-muster-up.
posted by Shepherd at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2012


I just found out about Dark Horse's online store, which sells pretty much every Hellboy and BPRD comic in existance, and wow, I need to save, cause that shit isn't cheap, and I need to find out what happened to Abe.

Dude, the Library Editions are really, really nice -- oversized clothbound hardcovers. About $30 a pop, but, hey, if you have to pay not-cheap prices anyway... (There are BPRD omnibus hardcovers, too, but not ultra-deluxe like the Library Editions.)

I mostly stay out of the copyright discussions because I'm so friggin' sick and tired of opposition to DRM being equated with being in favor of piracy. No, I just don't want to be pay extra (the DRM licenses cost money, after all, and that cost is passed on to us) for something that by design will keep me from doing things with the content that I might like to. Like, say, continuing to have access to it indefinitely despite who might go out of business or what devices or OSes or applications cease to be supported.
posted by Zed at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2012


First off, I hate prescriptivist arguments. Really. One of the worst things on Metafilter. Racism=power+prejudice, copyright=theft, whatever. When we complain about what words mean, we don't actually debate the subject at hand. Some people consider copyright to be theft, some don't. In this case words don't mean things, insofar as words do not have a set meaning that you can hang a star on.

Second, the only comment I had was a link to this book. Reading it will show you nothing is new under the sun. For one thing, if we want to get descriptivist about stuff, people have been likening piracy to theft since the notion of copyright infringement existed. So in that perspective, well, it is. Granted people have also been making tortuous analogies about copyright infringement since the notion of it existed also. If cars existed in the 1700's people would have been likening copyright infringement to them.

They were all PISSED OFF at the Internet file sharing revolution because those pirates had killed their perfectly lucrative and long established personalized and local piracy business. Seriously.

That also happened repeatedly. Pirated book publishers in the 1700's angry at people copying their custom editions, or pirating the same book as they did in a geographic area (Shades of fansubbing turf wars). Same thing with pirated music publishers in the 1800's.

I think the book gave me some perspective about using any moral perspective to frame these debates, because people will bring totally different ones to the table. So instead I've come to ask myself what type of outcomes do I want, and what actions could make those outcomes happen. I have to use a moral framework to choose my outcomes, of course, but for example, getting angry at some NPR intern copying CDs isn't going to revive a failing music business.
posted by zabuni at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Good morning. When most Americans refer to "The Law," they refer to article 17 USC, the federal copyright statutes. Therefore, to address an earlier statement that "The Law" unequivocally distinguishes between civil infringement (of ideas) and criminal theft (of Real property) let me cite the relevant portion, which is 17 USC ch. 5, S. 506, that criminalizes many forms of infringement for commercial gain. It doesn't use the word "theft," as it is still "infringement." but you can go to jail for pirating certain kinds of content either for personal gain or in a manner that directly causes sufficient economic loss ($1000, I believe) to the creator of unreleased content, or that involves a sufficient quantity of specific infringements. Intent to profit from infringement is required, and not always easy to prove. But you bet you can go to jail and the theory under which that might happen is that you are stealing from someone else with monetary consequences for them.

Racketeering, money laundering, drug dealing, civil rights violations, leaking the name of a CIA agent: all of those things are federal crimes, but none of them are theft. The existence of criminal copyright infringement doesn't indicate that "copyright infringement is theft".

Secondly, most people would argue that filesharing doesn't rise to the level, as there is no intent to profit. I think some lawyers have argued that receiving the file itself counts as "profit". What companies like Megaupload were doing might qualify, but they apparently weren't under US jurisdiction.
Funny how sexual harassment and fair use are approached from opposite perspectives here by many, isn't it?
So now we've analogized copyright infringement to theft, punching people in the face, and now sexual harassment. And somehow file sharers are the shrill ones.
I don't really see how we could expect the discussion to go well when the second article in the FPP is basically a hate-rant that blatantly and viciously misrepresents the content of the first, on an issue that's already contentious anyway.

That rant is a good illustration why we can't have a coherent discussion about copyright, piracy and internet distribution. He's too blinded by hate and anger to even take in what other people are saying. It's kind of disturbing that this guy actually teaches classes on the economics of the music industry, but depressingly, it's not very surprising.
Yeah, the second article was just a really long version of "infringement = theft and also the worst thing ever". The FPP was just a rehash of the argument anyway
All of the the things you mention had to be fought for on one level or another, often with blood shed, lives lost, permanent scars. Demanding your rightful share of something when someone has died/bled for that right, and being ignorant (often smugly) of that dying/bleeding -- I believe that's why folks get all wound up about entitlement.
Again, part of the idea is that of natural rights The idea that some rights are intrinsic to nature, and while you have to protect them, you do not have to fight to earn them. Other rights (health care would be an obvious example, as well as copyright) are not natural rights since they require actions by other people.

Secondly, no one would have fought for those things if they did not have a sense of entitlement, an belief that they deserved those things. In order to fight for something, you have to believe that your lot can and should be better.

Now obviously that sense of entitlement can drive people to do things that harm society as well, invading other countries and taking their land is an obvious example: except Many European countries have, historically been way worse in that respect then the US.

When people's perceptions of their rights come into conflict, you have the political process to work it out. And, obviously the people arguing on behalf of copyright have just as much of a "sense of entitlement" to control their creative works, or creative works they've paid someone else to own, and to not have people enjoy them without paying them. That's obviously just as much of a "sense of entitlement" as anything else. I don't have a problem with people feeling that way, if they want too. I just have a problem with the idea that because they feel that way, they have a right to clamp down and censor the internet, which is what they have been trying (and largely failing) to do in congress for years.

What's important to me isn't free music, but rather the ability for people to freely communicate with each other on the internet without censorship or restrictions or monitoring. And internet that is capable of that isn't capable of stopping piracy.

So really when you say a sense of entitlement bothers you you're really saying that what you can't stand is that other people's 'entitlement' conflicts with your own (apparently unexamined) sense of entitlement.

Which is especially ridiculous given the fact that "entitlements" or even "rights" are not actual material things in the real world. They are all just things inside people's minds, and each mind is going to have a different view of them. Which gets into the other weird "entitlement" some people think they have: to tell other people what they (the other people) are entitled to feel entitled too. Where on earth does that come from?

Sure, I'm entitled to say you can't have my car, but how can I say you're not entitled to want my car? And why would I even care? In fact, maybe I bought this car just to make people jealous.

The other problem is that usually when I hear the "sense of entitlement" complaint it's often complaints about people wanting better deals for themselves in terms of social justice, it's something conservatives say about students complaining about higher tuition (why do these people feel entitled to cheap school!?) When this we are the 99% thing came out there was all this whining about people's "sense of entitlement" to healthcare, a decent middle class job and so on.
When we complain about what words mean, we don't actually debate the subject at hand.
Some people seem to think that if you can argue and win about the semantic meaning of various words such that your argument is correct when you use those contorted. One example I like to use is Newt Gingrich saying that Obama supports "infanticide" because you can kind of think of medically necessary late term abortion as infanticide. But really when you say "Obama supports infanticide" you're saying Obama believes it's OK for parents to kill new born infants, which he obviously does not.
posted by delmoi at 3:35 PM on June 20, 2012


memail is protected by patents belonging to MetaFilter Networks Inc. Do you accept carrier pigeon?

WASTE not, want not.
posted by longtime_lurker at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2012


elizardbits: "Sometimes I shout INCOMING before hitting Post Comment."

I think 'FIRE IN THE HOLE!' is more appropriate.
posted by dg at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi, you are either in the wrong thread or you have not read our many requests to not make this thread into a rehash of the other one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2012


And by the way, I am not trying to argue that people are "entitled" to engage in filesharing. But rather arguing that the whole idea that a "sense of entitlement" is a bad thing is wrong and also weird.

As I said, typically it's used against people who want something better for themselves, like higher wages, reasonable working conditions, health insurance, and so on.

A couple months ago there was a thread about people in Greece using, essentially a bartering system to share goods and services with each other. With the dire economic situation this meant that people might actually be able to get goods and services they needed in exchange for actually providing labor.

Skeptic called this tax evasion was basically cheering on the idea of clamping down on it. I guess he thought people in Greece "felt entitled" to trade goods and services with each-other even if they didn't have any cash with which they could pay taxes even if they wanted too.

That's the kind of thinking I hear most of the time when I hear people talk about a "sense of entitlement" being a bad thing. It's most often used to complain about citizens thinking they have some kind entitlement not to accept whatever crumbs corporations and elites are willing to leave them with.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 PM on June 20, 2012

delmoi, you are either in the wrong thread or you have not read our many requests to not make this thread into a rehash of the other one.
I was responding to comments in this thread, and only a small part of my comment delt with copyright directly (mostly responding to this comment) the rest was about a theoretical 'sense of entitlement' and whether or not that was bad or good.
posted by delmoi at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2012


I thought the thread was going to be about something completely different. I think I misread the first link, because I thought she was talking about how the demise of CDS means the demise of liner notes and all those other things you get in CDs. And more significantly, I thought this era of buying individual songs could change the entire process and meaning of an album. So I thought that's what the discussion would be about: the fact that this generation doesn't buy whole albums but separated songs, and what this would mean for music.

I didn't understand the response link because I'd misunderstood her article.

However, after understanding that she was talking about getting music without paying for it, I did learn some things from the discussion. One major thing I learned is that the lines in the sand are getting brighter. There is a comment that got a lot of blowback and disgust and it included the following things:
"I buy used books.
I listen to the radio and leave the room or mute it during ads.
I borrow books from friends.
I block ads on web pages.
I watch DVDs at friends' houses.
I skip, mute, or fast-forward the ads during recorded TV.
I vote for congressmen who strip artists of their copyrights after a certain number of years.
I listen to Spotify, which does not compensate musicians enough to sustain a career.
I sign up for internet deals using false data that prevents them from sending me the emailed advertisements that presumably allow those internet deals.
When I see ads in magazines and newspapers, I intentionally ignore them; when I hear them in the grocery store, I tune them out.
I have traded mix tapes and mix CDs with friends, and even copied whole CDs.
I have used my own binoculars at national parks instead of the 25-cent machines."
I do most of those things and I didn't even know that this bothers people. But knowing that it does now it makes me reconsider doing anything that could bring harm to someone else or that is illegal. So for example I allowed Metafilter into my adblock white list and I'm reconsidering buying the used books I get off Amazon (used is always cheaper but I'm willing to buy fewer but buy new in order to encourage people to keep writing books). So the reaction to that one comment certainly had an effect on me.
posted by Danila at 7:23 PM on June 20, 2012


If you're logged on you only see one small ad in the corner anyway.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 PM on June 20, 2012


Skeptic called this tax evasion was basically cheering on the idea of clamping down on it.

delmoi, if you have some personal grudge against me, I suggest you bring it outside this thread. Otherwise it seems damn fucking strange to mention a thread on bartering in Greece here.
posted by Skeptic at 3:25 AM on June 21, 2012


I would say these copyright threads have hardened my position. Every time somebody says copyright infringement is theft I dig in deeper.

Copyright infringement is not like stealing a car. It's like watching a baseball game through a hole in the outfield fence.
posted by Trochanter at 7:02 AM on June 21, 2012


This is metafilter. Sports analogies are lost on 80% of the people here.

Also, Packed Lunch asked people to stop using analogies!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:41 AM on June 21, 2012


Quonsar, I'll give you a 6 pack of Michelob and a pack of Lucky Strikes.

jackpot! (who says an artist can't make a living!)
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:55 AM on June 21, 2012


Otherwise it seems damn fucking strange to mention a thread on bartering in Greece here.

Why? delmoi is talking about a general phenomenon, and it's often good, when talking about general phenomena, to cite specific instances of those phenomena.

As far as the post-titular question goes, I have certainly had my opinion changed by such discussions, although not yet on MeFi. I Was A Teenage Music Pirate, but I'm not anymore.

Here are some ideas I have as a result of conversations like that in the linked thread: I have no love for anyone except those actually involved in creating the content and the medium on which it is distributed. I'm certainly never giving Apple or Amazon a fucking cent for anything, but I think musicians, sound engineers, actors, camerapeople, the bakers of Nigel Tufnel's tiny bread etc. should, somehow, get paid.

Unfortunately, these beliefs mean I don't listen to a lot of new music. Sometimes I buy something from the artist; sometimes I buy something from puretracks.com or something; sometimes I download music that is explicitly made freely available by the artist. I don't watch TV, and I'd like to not watch movies (and don't often), partly because of the fucked-up legal and economic environment in which they exist. I buy used books. I would like to have more options. I would like it to be unambiguously ok to *share* things one purchased, and I would like it if I didn't know people who seriously feel it is not ok for me to play music written by someone else, on my own personal guitar at a party in my own personal apartment for which no admission fee was charged. I would like it if people didn't get paid by skimming money off the top of industries, and instead only got paid for *producing* things, and I would like it if the legal system weren't set up to facilitate rent-seeking and greed. I want to pay for stuff I use, but I only want to pay the right people. Unlike for the radio-person in the above-mentioned FPP, for me this means that my media-consumption opportunities are limited. This is not such a big deal, really.

This only becomes an emotional issue, for me, in the face of things like SOPA, which smell like they could threaten to harsh my online mellow and fuck with my First Amendment groove by using the force of law to corral all sorts of fundamentally non-economic behaviour into the commercial category.

Some of my beliefs are *not* modified by such discussions, but instead are reinforced. Chief among these is incredulity at the fact that some people seem to be motivated by wealth alone. (I'm not looking at you, Frank Zappa, even though you made a lot of money with your excellent music, I'm looking at your wife, who did not to my knowledge make excellent music, who made it so that I couldn't link a YouTube video of a live performance of "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" in the appropriate place in a MeFi discussion about reproductive rights.)

So basically I applaud the existence of such threads. They tend to force me to at least try to be reasonable about things that are emotionally loaded enough to make that difficult.
posted by kengraham at 8:20 AM on June 21, 2012


Also, Packed Lunch asked people to stop using analogies!

Never said stop.

It's like when you're driving a car. Sometimes you can get around traffic jams by avoiding them.
posted by Packed Lunch at 8:38 AM on June 21, 2012


Skeptic called this tax evasion was basically cheering on the idea of clamping down on it. I guess he thought people in Greece "felt entitled" to trade goods and services with each-other even if they didn't have any cash with which they could pay taxes even if they wanted too.

I guess that you should stop trying to stop guessing what I think.
posted by Skeptic at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2012


Damn, I hate it when I fuck up a pithy one-liner: "I guess that you should stop trying to guess what I think."
posted by Skeptic at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2012


I have no idea what the hell is wrong with delmoi lately, but Jesus it's getting lame.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm having a hard time understanding how you can avoid changing your mind on this topic, if enough time goes by. Technology and what's possible and what's permitted go through so many changes. I was surprised when Grooveshark and Spotify came along, having assumed there were very good reasons why Pandora could not produce specific musical pieces on demand. Turning from music to ebooks, which are more recent at least on a large scale, everyone seems openly confused about what's possible, permissible and fair. Given all this, how can anyone avoid changing at least some details of what they believe and practice?
posted by BibiRose at 9:14 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do most of those things and I didn't even know that this bothers people. But knowing that it does now it makes me reconsider doing anything that could bring harm to someone else or that is illegal. So for example I allowed Metafilter into my adblock white list and I'm reconsidering buying the used books I get off Amazon (used is always cheaper but I'm willing to buy fewer but buy new in order to encourage people to keep writing books).

None of which is actually illegal of course. And I'd be wary of trying to fit into Club Literature or Club Music where you do things like buy books to "support" authors rather than because you want them; learned that lesson with Club Comix.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2012


Also opening the can of worms about being energy efficient.

Buying second hand saves a tree.
posted by Packed Lunch at 10:20 AM on June 21, 2012


Yeah, the idea that things like "I buy used books", "I fast-forward through ads", "I borrow books from friends", and "I watch DVDs at friends' houses" are or should be examples of immoral, illegal, or harmful behavior points to the way this issue has begun to define (some) people's morality, rather than morality defining behavior with regards to the issue. No matter your stance on copyright, no one is helped by drawing ever-brighter moral lines around everything that could possibly ever be construed as denying someone somewhere a penny... least of all authors and artists.
posted by vorfeed at 10:46 AM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


drawing ever-brighter moral lines around everything that could possibly ever be construed as denying someone somewhere a penny

It is exactly this phenomenon that transforms copyright from a simple personal-behaviour issue into an emotionally-charged issue, for me. I, and I suspect many other people, resent this phenomenon, because for me, economic participation is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. For some reason, I have a lot of trouble being tolerant of conflicting opinions on that general issue. I'm less certain that that intolerance is as bad as other types of intolerance I could display, but discussions like the one cited in this thread -- even just reading such discussions -- are a good way to test my own dogma.

Presumably, there is some phenomenon analogous to the one you mentioned that gets other people riled up and unable to countenance certain basic beliefs, and I sort of want to know what those phenomena and the accompanying viewpoints are.
posted by kengraham at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Isn't it time that Fuzzy took a break from that thread, too?
posted by empath at 2:45 PM on June 21, 2012


I'd vote for it in a democracy.
posted by philip-random at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2012


Relatedly, has anyone ever had their mind or behaviour changed in the slightest respect by it?

Yes. My thoughts and opinions about copyright have definitely been affected by discussions of IP/file-sharing on MetaFilter. *shrug*

People tend to post them because either they're grinding their same old axe or because they've fallen into the trap of linking to someone else grinding the same old axe. It's too bad because the article that's linked to is really interesting

You're contradicting yourself and/or making an unfair assumption. You say the article itself is interesting but also imply the poster is probably "grinding their same old axe" ... not fair.

I think copyright/IP/file-sharing posts are good when there is a new wrinkle or twist that had never been previously considered. Rants like Lowery's don't go well because the arguments become purely emotional. Neither the original intern blog nor Lowery's response were good discussion fodder for MF, I don't think.

A much better topic for this week would be the news on Tuesday of the crackdown Google is puttting on YouTube-MP3.org. (Torrenting is so Oughts; the Teens are all about YouTube Downloading.)

if people decide that they're going to rehash the argument in THIS thread or call each other morons [did I just see that? wtf is wrong with people] they are mistaken.

Good luck with that one, but yeah, people, this thread is for the METAcommentary. You wanna talk ethics, morals, and the finances of downloading music, head back to aisle 117065.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2012


Unfortunately, these beliefs mean I don't listen to a lot of new music. posted by kengraham at 5:20 AM on June 21 [+] [!]
Do you have Spotify where you live? Check it out, if not. It's pretty amazing.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:01 PM on June 21, 2012


Presumably, there is some phenomenon analogous to the one you mentioned that gets other people riled up and unable to countenance certain basic beliefs, and I sort of want to know what those phenomena and the accompanying viewpoints are.

For me, it's two things. First, when people deny or seem to be denying me my property rights. I didn't agree to borrow this property, I intended to buy it. I would never have paid so much to borrow it. That means I can mutilate it if I want to, or use its pages for lining birdcages. Or copy the pages and use it for wallpaper. If I buy a record, I should be able to play it in my home or at my wedding.

When people seem to be suggesting I give up my property rights for the good of others, it's hard to stay cool.

Secondly, when people talk about how it should be all of our jobs to support all artists. I don't believe this at all. When people talk about making sure musicians continue to get paychecks and "not starve," I am upset because it seems like protectionism. Also, because people argue that art and music will die out if no one subsidizes it - but in fact, many of the world's greatest artists or musicians were either broke, or had a day job.

I am moderate-copyright, and have a nuanced view. But when people poke those buttons, it tends to make me hate copyright all the more.
posted by corb at 11:36 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: " (Torrenting is so Oughts; the Teens are all about YouTube Downloading.)"

Blasphemy. Those youtube downloads are transcodes!
posted by mullingitover at 2:36 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you have Spotify where you live? Check it out, if not. It's pretty amazing.

For some reason in the US you need a Facebook account to register for Spotify. Which is a bit like a restaurant that won't let you in until you fellate a wino at the door. Only way more disgusting. I'd almost be willing to register a fake facebook account under an assumed name that when you say it out loud sounds like a slur on Mark Zuckerberg's mother and use it until they delete it, but it's sort of the principle of the thing. OpenID would be nice, or at least partnerships with more than one account provider so you'd have at least a bit of choice.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


posted by Sebmojo Do you have Spotify where you live? Check it out, if not.

How am I supposed to check it out if I don't have it where I live? Wait, what?
posted by mattdidthat at 4:00 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find Jonathan Coulton's take on the topic rather sobering and a good summary of what's going on right now, like it or not: The change is already happening to us, and it's a change that WE ARE CHOOSING. It's too late to stop it, because we actually kind of like a lot of the things that we're getting out of it. (originally posted by Bondcliff in this thread).
posted by elgilito at 3:25 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd be in favor of completely banning copyright threads.

Every time I read metafilter copyright threads, I just leave Metafilter for a few days. The mockery level from the anti-copyright people and the patronizing, superior attitude as if they have some deep insight that the rest of us are too stupid to understand just leaves me depressed and angry.

I believe that if someone makes original music and asks you not to copy it without paying, and you copy it anyway, then you're doing something wrong.

The response is that I'm told that it's equivalent to being against "buying used books or fast forwarding through ads," informed that, "I'm not required to support other people's business models," or simply told that "music has no value."

These debates have definitely clarified a lot for me, though. I used to believe that perhaps people had some moral justification for doing this that I hadn't thought of, or that they simply hadn't thought it through.

I no longer believe this; I now believe that people copy music because they can - moral issues simply don't enter into it at all. I believe people "like a lot of the things they're getting out of it" - specifically, they like getting music without paying for it - and they simply don't care at all that the creators of that music don't want them to copy it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2012


lupus_yonderboy: " The mockery level from the anti-copyright people and the patronizing, superior attitude as if they have some deep insight that the rest of us are too stupid to understand just leaves me depressed and angry. "

This problem is not restricted to threads about copyright.
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on June 26, 2012


The mockery level from the anti-copyright people and the patronizing, superior attitude as if they have some deep insight that the rest of us are too stupid to understand just leaves me depressed and angry.

Oh, the pro-DRM crowd does pretty well with the superiority, too.
posted by Zed at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2012


I believe that if someone makes original music and asks you not to copy it without paying, and you copy it anyway, then you're doing something wrong.

Oh shit, I was going to respond but I forgot to ask you if quoting was cool with you. My bad.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2012


I WOULD LOVE IT IF THIS THREAD DID NOT BECOME AN ARGUMENT BY PROXY FOR THE ARGUMENT IN THE ORIGINAL THREAD.

Seriously, knock it off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:19 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


*meep*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:23 AM on June 26, 2012


Although, opportunity for a My Little Pony request. Can we have some distinction in recent activity between the blue, gray, and green? It's easy to lose track.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:28 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


People definitely have their minds changed by threads, though I think it only happens afterwards. When you're making the argument, you make it hard, and that's as it should be. But afterwards, you look back, and see where everything is. Certainly in a recent thread about profiling, I became convinced that my arguments were wrong a few days after making them, thanks to other commenters.

Copyright threads do seem to bring out the worst in some people, not least because so many people insist that their opponents are saying things they just plain aren't saying (I am vociferously anti-downloading-without-permission, but never said it was "theft"). I think the above commenter has a point that it's partly the collision of creatives with software people, and their very different perspectives. I also think it has a lot to do with people dealing with a bad conscience by snarking it away, but then, I would say that, wouldn't I?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:40 PM on July 7, 2012


What's striking, too, is that it's only copyright threads that bring out comments like this and this. In a comment about an incident of sexual harassment, people may disagree (often fiercely) about whether a particular incident is actually harassment or not, but no one posts "Seeing how self-righteous you all are about this makes me more eager to distribute my swinger card!" Commenters will fight hard for their position on security profiling, but no one says "The tone that you people use makes me want to look a lot more suspiciously at bearded young men, because you sure won't." People get way angry about OWS, but no one says "Your stridency makes me more determined to smash windows/buy stocks from Lehman."

The only thing I can think to compare it to is the right-wing blogosphere's "Human Achievement Day", where righties angry about the "self-righteousness" of environmentalists pledge to leave as many appliances as possible on for Earth Day (I can't think of a similar lefty act of spite, but maybe there is one?) Now, I have my theory about why that's the case: Technology has made it easy to the point of inevitable to do something we deep down know is wrong, so guilty conscience makes everyone a little hysterical. But other theories are welcome.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:11 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sexual harassment and wasting energy are actually wrong though. This is more like gay people fucking with the 700 club on in the background.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2012


furiousxgeorge, that's grabbing the very ground that's being fought over. The whole question is whether downloading music without the artist's consent is wrong or not. And it's striking to me that even when people disagree about whether something is wrong, as in some of the "problematic art" threads, there isn't that frantic insistence that "I'm gonna do it double just because you say it's wrong!"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2012


It happens all the time, like in vegetarianism discussions you will have people announcing they are going to eat bacon. People don't like to be preached at, like when someone announces they are guilty and angry and spiteful and hysterical.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2012


Take it to email guys.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:39 PM on July 8, 2012


Sorry, jessamyn---I really am not trying to go over the original argument again. Just to explore how this topic in particular seems to raise a whole different kind of ire than other, equally heated discussions. Like I said, the spiteful insistence on doing something double because it bothers people seems to be a unique characteristic here; it's true that vegetarianism discussions sometimes provoke bacon recipes, but not so much on MeFi.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2012


I mean, to clarify my above comment: I'm genuinely curious to hear other people's theory about why this topic raises a higher level of ire. Obviously, my theory about why it's so is closely tied to my opinions on the topic; anyone's would be. So I'd be interested to hear actual theories from people on the other side about why this topic---and as far as I can tell, at least on MeFi, only this topic---produces these sorts of double-down responses. Lots of topics produce equal amounts of scolding and anger---Game of Thrones threads pretty much *always* do---but the double-down response doesn't happen so much, and I'm wondering why.

(I'll note that regarding vegetarianism producing the response that "I'm gonna eat me some rare steak" is, I think, a product of just the kind of bad conscience that I think is at work here---most people, including most meat eaters [including myself], know there's something ethically problematic about eating meat, even as we do it, and so our response when confronted is to get flipant)
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:28 PM on July 8, 2012


I mean, to clarify my above comment: I'm genuinely curious to hear other people's theory about why this topic raises a higher level of ire.

Very few other conversations result in Mefites calling each other deceptive thieves. You seriously don't understand why that annoys people?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:30 PM on July 8, 2012


The answer is that you acted like a complete asshole in the thread, with no interest in having an intellectually honest debate.
posted by empath at 7:47 PM on July 8, 2012


Lots of threads involve Mefites calling each other sexist, racist, insensitive, bad faith arguers, privileged, and "quite a variety of unpleasant names". Lots of threads involve Mefites "acting like assholes", whatever that might mean to you (an actual explanation of what you mean would be helpful, actually, but if it's just "I don't like it when you call downloading music 'theft'", then whatevs; that's just a demand for agreement, rather than an actual argument, and a silly one considering that I never did call downloading music "theft"). Those threads result in a whole lot of GRAR, and y'know, I think that's fine. Threads where everyone gingerly on-the-other-hands are boring. Threads where people state their case strongly are entertaining.

But again, such threads almost never involve this sort of double-down response, nor these sorts of contentless "you're being a meanie!" responses-that-aren't-responses. The Geeklist thread got super, super heated, with plenty of MeMailing and MeTatalking, yet no one said "I am going to be sure to include a half-naked woman in my next ad just because you people are being so shouty about this."

I am plenty interested in an intellectually honest debate. That's why I repeatedly, clearly stated my case, with various tones and approaches. Sometimes I use analogy; if you think the analogy is inaccurate, you can say why. Sometimes I say the arguments others are making seem bad-faith or hypocritical, and say why; you can say why they are not. Sometimes I offer a theory about why the arguments are what they are; if you have an alternate theory, I've repeatedly said I'd be interested in hearing it.

I do not approve of downloading an artist's work without their consent, and said why. You can say why you do think downloading an artist's work without their consent is okay, and we'll each make our points and that'll be interesting. That's what happens on lots of threads. But I'm interested in why this particular topic, or perhaps my particular rhetoric, provoked a response so different from other, equally heated topics, often of much more consequence.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:52 PM on July 8, 2012


There are a lot of topics MeFi doesn't "do well": circumcision, declawing, IP (either), etc.

Maybe the issue is what a particular mefite doesn't "do well?"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:39 PM on July 8, 2012


People double-down not "because people are being shouty", but "because there's no point in paying, since you are only going to continue to insist that people like me are morally-suspect enemies of art who don't/won't ever pay for music, even when we do."

I could probably swing an early retirement if I stopped paying for music -- no exaggeration -- and arguments like yours make me wonder why I'm not doing exactly that. When people attack the openness of the web in the name of musicians, I become much, much less likely to want to support their cause. Why should I support people who want to destroy something that matters so much to me? Why shouldn't I do what I can to oppose the agenda of people who see me and my morals as an "enemy"? Why shouldn't I send my money to the EFF, for instance, rather than letting it go to people who apparently see the way I listen to music as a poison to be destroyed?

Like I said before, this is the problem with harping solely on moralism: you're disincentivizing many people who might pay as a matter of convenience or quality, but absolutely will not pay in order to support morals they actually oppose.

As for "I never did call downloading music "theft":
If no one was allowed to call anyone a thief/pirate/criminal of any kind, this would probably be as productive as a discussion of the GOP in which one was not allowed to use the word "race"; it's guilty people who want to ban the words that identify them.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:26 PM on June 20 [+] [!]

posted by vorfeed at 10:10 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When did I attack the openness of the web? I very deliberately avoid the term "illegal downloading", because I'm no fan of the DMCA. I'm not calling for more tracking of IP addresses or anything like that. I think people should feel guilty, morally, for downloading music without the artist's consent, precisely because I think if people avoid doing it for moral reasons, the government won't intervene and destroy the openness of the web.

No one here has attacked the openness of the web. I am objecting to a specific behavior. Defend the behavior, if you want to defend something.
(can't help but notice the one example you came up with of me calling people a thief was a theoretical, too)

I apologize---this is starting to creep into rehashing the argument. But if what's making the discussion so heated is that you're responding to something I never said, well, that's of some significance.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:32 AM on July 9, 2012


Or because acknowledging that ripping off corporations is also ripping off artists is painful for you, and like so many thoughts you find difficult, you prefer to pretend they don't exist?

Ripping off means thieving, yeah?

I repeat: If you regard the actual music as a "promo" for the t-shirts, as you have stated you do, then you are an enemy of art, artists, and anything that makes the world better. It is, however, hilarious that you're suddenly bleating that the market determines all value, as you never do in other threads, but I guess it's hard to resist the thrill of exploiting people who can't fight back.


"You people are thrilled by exploiting the weak! HOW DARE YOU RESPOND BY SARCASTICALLY SAYING YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO?"

This "I would pay if I knew I could" is a smokescreen.

Accusing people of lying.

Thank you for directly making the completely accurate point that these "downloaders" are creepily gleeful in their reenactment of a factory boss contemplating a move to China

Creepy too!

You could just as well be walking through a Bangladeshi village grabbing peasant's handcrafts at the table and, when they reach out a hand asking for coin, you laugh and say, "What, I took this without paying you? Well then, I guess I get to take this for free, 'cause look, I can!"

Sounds like thievery!

If no one was allowed to call anyone a thief/pirate/criminal of any kind, this would probably be as productive as a discussion of the GOP in which one was not allowed to use the word "race"; it's guilty people who want to ban the words that identify them.

Not calling anybody a thief, but only the guilty wouldn't want me to!

The fact that piracy fans can say something like that with a straight face is rather definitive proof that I'm right about calling you "enemies of art." What a horrible way to view culture.


Enemies of art with horrible views...

Jebus I think you get the point, you acted like an asshole.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:36 AM on July 9, 2012


Folks, please stop. Stop calling people assholes. Stop doing the "But I don't understand" thing. Just walk away and/or take this to email and maybe you can all think about how there are various definitions of "double down" thread-prolonging/wrecking behavior that can make these threads on MeFi lousy.

if what's making the discussion so heated is that you're responding to something I never said, well, that's of some significance.

Not enough for this MeTa thread to become a place where everyone can have the pile-on that they feel that they were denied in the original thread. If this doesn't stop, we'll just close this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:39 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The answer is that you acted like a complete *$!*! in the thread, with no interest in having an intellectually honest debate.

FuzzyB, I gave up trying to connect with you a long time ago, but I notice this thing has suddenly re-engaged so let me just say, I agree with empath here, although I doubt I'd use the A-word.

More to the point -- in choosing to make your stand on this issue a moral one, you've pretty much killed any hope of anyone successfully conversing with you. Because you can't really argue morals. They come from within, a place that only you can see/feel. It's like arguing about who's got better dreams, who's in more pain, who has better orgasms.

I appreciate that you have morals and they no doubt serve as the foundation for much of what you say/think/do. I have them too and they serve me in just this way. But what I try not to do is use them to publicly justify my position on things. That is, I look for intellectual, scientific, ethical arguments (that don't contradict my morals) to do this heavy lifting.

Seriously, if I were your guru, I'd insist that you cease uttering the word MORAL (or any of its variants) in polite discussion. And every time you slipped up, I'd smack you with my staff.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would argue it's more than a moral argument, it's a religious argument.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:39 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Literally, in some cases.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:46 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


FuzzyB's 'arguments' were the equivalent of saying 'because I say so' over and over again.

FuzzyB, just as an exercise, try arguing the other side.
posted by unSane at 12:34 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone really thinks that morals are entirely subjective things, which cannot be argued or debated, well, then I suppose there is indeed no point in doing so. I would suggest that a great many arguments that happen on Metafilter, from the righteousness of the minimum wage to the need to reduce sexual harassment, are fundamentally moral arguments. I would further suggest that if you believe there is no way to impose morals on anyone else, then suggesting you were indulging in Randian logic, which caused such offense, was an entirely accurate descriptor.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:27 PM on July 9, 2012


I'm closing this thread. This is ridiculous.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:37 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


« Older Let's create two new special t...  |  Can we please have a rundown o... Newer »

This thread is closed to new comments.