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December 07, 2012


Easy behavior to combat if the system or uploaders put some wait time restrictions or speed limits on people with high download:upload ratios.

How about using either/both:

1.) Proxy server
2.) A VPN

Or is the idea of anonymity on the internet just an illusion these days, especially with Big Brother/Big Sis (Hello Janet!) establishing a police surveillance state (Bluffdale, Utah) that the Soviets and East Germans could only have dreamed of?

(I highly recommend the German film "The Lives of Others" for an insight into the police state)

[HS: BTGuard costs $89.95/year, so you have to balance the chance of being caught (close to zero) against the pain of being caught (possibly extremely severe financial penalties) and see if that adds up to $89.95/year.

It's probably a good insurance plan even though, if the FBI were really out to get you they could probably bypass it, but it would keep you off the radar and prevent you from being a low-hanging fruit.]

Yep, I follow the same strategy, seems to work well. Leave uploading to useless bastards in Europe.

You don't understand the difference between creating your own content and giving it away and giving someone else's content away without their permission?

I would never use a torrent site for the same reason I would never steal from a book store: stealing is wrong. Do you not agree? Or do you not think there is any objective morality, and all that matters is the chance of you getting caught?

Aren't torrents loaded with viruses?

What's a torrent?

"Although I suppose it’s not so dissimilar to my unpaid blogging."

The ladies pay your efforts with rays of heart waves, HS.

There are some other things to keep in mind if you want to get away with torrenting.

1) Only new releases are monitored.

2) Movies, TV shows, and music are the most highly monitored. Fortunately, movies and music are also the easiest to get for free through a direct download rather than through torrenting. Movies and shows can be downloaded at high speeds in fairly high quality from the mirrors sites link icefilms links to, and music can be downloaded in high quality from many many sites on the web.

3) Software is not as monitored, there still is a chance of getting caught.

4) I know many people who seed a lot of files 24/7 (I'm a college student) to be a good Samaritan/fight the man, and they get very few letters. And of course the letters they get are warnings - you almost never go to court the first time you get caught (your identity isn't even released to the prosecuting agency), and the warning comes from your ISP. So, the odds of getting caught are extremely low, and the first time almost never results in anything bad.

Did you see this article? A 25 year old researcher for the Republican Study Group wrote a very interesting paper about how the government abuses copyright and HE GOT FIRED!


HS mentioned that Republicans need to offer free shit that minorities actually want. Well, hell, why not offer free media content? Most of the people in the entertainment industry think actual, genuine stealing of real property is okay in the interest of fairness, so why not allow greater freedom of copying?

As I see it, that's a double bonus for Republicans -- stop subsidizing filthy rich hypocrites in the entertainment industry and give people something they really want.

Unlike HS, I don't think conservatives and libertarians can expect to boot Christian issues and still win election, BUT as I've said before, two issues that would be huge for expanding the tent and waging the cultural war without compromising conservative principles are:

1) end marijuana prohibition
2) reform copyright law to favor consumers and to foster more artistic innovation


This isn't an original thought, in fact I might have read it here, but copyright laws certainly need to be reformed:

Spend billions of dollars creating and testing a new drug that saves lives, and the patent office will protect your ownership rights to that drug for 17 years.

Write a song about it, and the copyright office will protect your (and your heirs)ownership rights to that song for possibly hundreds of years.

A free program that somewhat reduces your risk of being caught is called peerblock.

Realistically, if you don't leave utorrent on after downloading, and only share at low speeds during the download, and never share completed files, your chance of being caught is something like one in 50,000. The people who get caught are those who do not do this. I've seen the cases filed against torrenters. Even careless people probably only have a 1 in 1000 chance.

I'm happy to take the tiny risk of a 2 or 3 thousand settlement in return for not having to pay 1200 a year for cable TV, not have to watch commercials, and not have to buy a separate TV, cable box and DVR. I could get caught tomorrow and I'd still come out way way ahead. My 10,000 song MP3 collection would cost around 10,000 buying CDs or from iTunes. And you know what, not only did I pay nothing for it, but I own it free and clear. Nearly all of it I downloaded during college, meaning the statute of limitations has run out. I own it free and clear, just like someone who acquired good title to property via adverse possession.

Re viruses: video and mp3 files are not programs so cannot be viruses. Pirated software certainly can. If you want to pirate software, use thepiratebay.se and only download from trusted highly rated users, who have either pink or green skull and crossbones by their names. Most viruses these days are contracted via e-mail attachments or sleazy porn websites that include drive by downloads.

To protect yourself from this while browsing random porn sites, disable JavaScript with a scriptblock plugin, and also use adblocking. You should also be using Microsoft's free daily updated antivirus software called Microsoft security essentials.

Another user mentioned direct downloads. The sites that host and link to direct downloads are the exact type that push drive by virus downloads. I view torrents as much safer.

"The concept of intellectual property is just a near-arbitrary collection of laws which have been heavily influenced by lobbyists for big corporations and other value transference interests."

Is it stealing to memorize a poem and share it with other people via word of mouth or email? The author is not getting paid, but many people are enjoying the poem. Nobody worries about that because there are no corporations behind it and there is not a lot of money to be made.

Here's an article on classical music and copyright.

Copyright And Classical Music: The Exact Opposite Of The Intended Purpose


Half sigma you sound like a nineteen-year-old in this post.

"The concept of intellectual property is just a near-arbitrary collection of laws which have been heavily influenced by lobbyists for big corporations and other value transference interests."

That is pretty much exactly wrong.

Intellectual property protection is almost the only part of the government that is written into the United States Constitution (article I, section 8). And the intellectually property clause (covering both copyrights patents) was approved unanimously by the founding fathers.

Intellectual property is much of what our modern economy produces, at enormous expense. Everything from movies to pharmaceuticals to the design of literally every product under the sun (and the design of the product is often the costliest part) is based on intellectual property.

If a multitude of US pharma PhDs work for 10 years and at unimaginable expense to develop and bring a new drug to market, running though a hellish maze of safety testing, should some Indian company be able to sell it for 9 cents a pill?

If a movie is made on a 50 million budget, should it immediately be free to the world? The Chinese are certainly not going to return the favor.

There is some scope for shortening the duration of copyright from the current 900 million years after the last descendant of the author or artist dies, but the concept of IP is not the brainchild of some K street lobbyists.

Hey did you stop linking to Coyote Blog?


"I would never steal from a book store: stealing is wrong. Do you not agree?"

You don't seem to understand the definition of theft. Despite heroic efforts on the part of the entertainment industry lobby, illegal copying is not legally considered theft. IC is not a crime of moral turpitude; it doesn't violate the 10 commandments; it's not fundamentally the same as theft of real property either in law or in any traditional system of morality.

No one has ever been convicted of theft for violating a copyright.

Since the crowd repeating the idiotic "copying is theft" slogan seems to be influenced by the inane "you wouldn't steal a car" ads, here's a cartoon refutation:


Now I talk about illegal copying, but at the founding of this country, it was not even a crime to copy a book under copyright, but rather a civil matter. The criminalization of some forms of copying is a modern invention of media companies eager for the government to help them transfer value to themselves without regard to public benefit, the reason copyrights were established in the first place.


Usually when you download a torrent you are also uploading it even before it has finished. The files are chunked up so you can send people the pieces of the file that you already have.

I think most people who just seed forever are behind some proxy in russia or somewhere. Also some sites will allow you to download more quickly if you upload more content.


How can you know which files are monitored and which are not?

Even if you use a blocklist etc you are never completely safe.

I agree that copyright terms should be dramatically shortened but how can you say that the concept of intellectual property is "near arbitrary"? Why would people invest large amounts of time and money into creating books, movies, music, television shows, etc. when it can just be copied and sold by someone else who doesn't have to recoup the costs of creating it?

[HS: I invest a lot of time into this blog for no compensation. And I know a guy who writes novels that no one buys. And I know several people who play music who make practically no money from doing it.]

HS, your age is showing. Private torrent trackers have ratio requirements. If you don't seed enough they'll ban you. To get into the good private trackers, and there are a litany with its own intricate hierarchy, you have to have a good ratio from other private trackers in the lower tiers.

There's a whole economy of seeding and leeching that includes upload emulators for people with slow upload speed and have to use programs that fake uploads - this is the equivalent of counterfeit money. Of course to stop this private trackers have responded in kind, banning anyone who is suspected of using such programs.

Torrenting is a form of price discrimination and leads to more consumer surplus. Matt Yglesias supports it.

Torrents are used all the time for Linux and BSD distributions. I've downloaded Ubuntu and FreeBSD a number of times using them, quite convenient.

I personally cannot understand why anyone would pirate commercial software when there's so much high quality free stuff. LibreOffice blows away MS Office, GnuCash is better than Quickbooks (save custom reporting which is a pain but GnuCash does splits and Quickbooks does not). And there are tons of free, hiqh quality, open source fonts.

I suspect, a lot of guys who download torrents just use MAC address spoofing, and wifi sites that are open or poorly protected, out of camera range. As much as the connections work for the government, it goes both ways. Its easier to copy, download, and evade network, automated surveillance, than it is to break into a film vault, and physically walk off with a film, then duplicate it.

"I could ask back, you mean you don't understand the difference between property that physically exists and can’t easily be reproduced (like a barrel of crude oil or a plot of land), and something that exists only virtually and can be copied infinitely for free (such as a digital music file)?"

I understand the difference, but I also understand the similarity: both can be expensive to produce (or acquire, in the case of land). A movie can be copied "infinitely for free" (or close to it), but it might have cost $200 million to make. And the people who made it have a right to try to make money selling it without you undermining that by giving unauthorized copies of it away for less.

"The concept of intellectual property is just a near-arbitrary collection of laws which have been heavily influenced by lobbyists for big corporations and other value transference interests."

That's rationalization almost devoid of meaning. Corporations aren't "value transference interests"; they are simply legal structures for businesses. Businesses create valuable products and provide valuable services and sell them. That's not "value transfer" but value creation. When Caterpillar takes a bunch of steel and other raw materials and turns it into tractors, it has created value by doing so, and is entitled to capture some of that value as profit. That's not "value transference".

The top tier private trackers have great seeded torrents for every single type of content you can imagine: the most obscure of films and albums, quality HD broadcast rips that aren't even commercially available yet, etc. The two distinguishing features of private trackers is that it offers them in good quality (minimum mp3 is v2 for many sites) and at high speed (in the good trackers most torrents are well seeded and you can max out your dl speed even if you have a T1 line).

Being a hipster with an enormous recollection/film collection has never been cheaper.


"Back when people still had to pay for music, money served to limit and define consumption. You could only afford so many records, so you bought what you could, listened to the radio or watched MTV, and ignored everything else. Those select few who did manage to hear everything—record store clerks, DJs, nerds with personal warehouses—could use this rare knowledge to terrorize their social or sexual betters, as in the pre-internet-era film High Fidelity. Napster made all of that obsolete. Today, almost every person I know has more music on his computer than he could ever know what to do with. You don’t need to care about music to end up like this—the accumulation occurs naturally and unconsciously. My iTunes library, for example, contains forty-seven days of music. According to the column that counts the number of times I’ve played each song, roughly a sixth of that music has never been listened to at all. In the 21st century, we are all record store clerks. "

I don't see the point in torrents these days. I can listen to any music on Youtube (and download it if needed) and watch movies and tv shows that are remotely hosted. I download books, but the best sites for that use file hosting services.

I have been around the "scene" and privy to how it operates for many years. Usually, torrents are the last place pirated data reaches. People don't seed releases directly to public torrents available to the masses, although they may release them to private trackers as well as other limited access avenues like IRC, usenet or FTPs. The scene is a small and tight-knit community. Data piraters probably don't spend their time thinking about how their activities will impact the masses, but rather, their own release group or local internet community. There is also the intrinsic appeal of playing the game. Cracking the system and getting away with it. For movie pirating, it could be setting up a cam in the theatre and plugging into the handicap audio feed, or swiping the films to make telecine rips. For software, it would be the pure process of hacking. There is definitely some creativity involved.

Careful HS, you're coming dangerously close to sounding like a libertarian now...

*Excellent* topic for a blog post, btw. For as long as I've been torrenting, which is quite some time, I have been making these same observations. As a rational player who is interested in risk aversion, I've always "hit-and-run" torrents whenever I could. Seeding as much as I download? Not a chance, too much risk with no personal reward...

There are many curious quirks of human nature to be found in the behavior of individuals online. How humans respond to and interact with technology is a field of psychology in-and-of-itself. While we're on the subject of torrents, I'd like to know why some torrent distributors still insist on throwing their files into Winrar archives, which serve absolutely no purpose other than to increase the time and effort necessary to access the downloaded files and decrease the likelihood of post-completion seeding (due to the fact that the user must retain two copies of the downloaded files on his hard-drive: the archived version for the purpose of seeding and the extracted files for the purpose of access).

"DaveinHackensack writes"

He is wrong. "Stealing" necessarily entails depriving one of their property. No such deprivation occurs with file sharing, therefore the activity cannot be considered theft by the most elementary definition of the term. It's closer to plagiarism, if anything.

Of course, the entire notion of "intellectual property rights" is patently absurd, if you'll pardon the pun...

"This isn't an original thought, in fact I might have read it here, but copyright laws certainly need to be reformed:"

You can forget about that. Nothing important is ever going to be reformed until the entire system collapses.

"I know that the theory behind intellectual copy is that it encourages creative works and R&D."

The theory is ass-backwards. IP laws accomplish precisely the opposite.

"Would a drug company invest $1 billion in a developing a drug they couldn't make a profit from it? Not likely."

Drug companies exist because of a business model that is founded on IP rights. If IP rights were to vanish, so would the business model. But since the demand for pharmaceuticals wouldn't go away, the market would adapt and find a new, viable business model, most likely involving centralization and what mainstream economists would call the creation of "monopolies", along with a subscription-based payment model (e.g. think of insurance. Many people buy into it but never collect it, and the business model is designed with this in mind).

The free market is infinitely flexible and a viable, profitable solution WOULD be found.

Allerious is clearly high on something.

"Drug companies exist because of a business model that is founded on IP rights. If IP rights were to vanish, so would the business model. But since the demand for pharmaceuticals wouldn't go away, the market would adapt and find a new, viable business model"

Why should there exist a viable business model? Because the universe is good? There is no law of conservation of business models that if a business model goes away another will replace it.

Take newspapers for instance. The Internet (think Craigslist) is slowly killing the traditional ad model and now most newspapers have no backup business model at all. Paywalls were a total bust. Many are simply closing. Game over.

If people can freely take what costs billions to develop, why on Earth would anyone develop it? Because good things flow forth freely from the ether? ***Countries with no IP protection develop almost nothing.***

Watch the show 'shark tank'. Every time someone has a patent, those shark folks are falling over themselves to throw millions at the inventor. When the guy shows up without a patent they are lucky if one person offers to buy them out for a few thousand dollars.

The constitutional justification for intellectual property (read as: government sanctioned, temporary monopolies) is essentially utilitarian: "to promote the progress of science and useful art."

We can definitely shorten the life-span of one's property to something closer to what the founders imagined: 14 years plus one 14 year extension. Right now heirs can profit off a book 70 years after the author's death!

Intellectual property is an excellent example of rent-seeking/value transference.

The reason why people seed torrents is to gain access to exclusive leaks through private and highly guarded invite only trackers. These sites receive leaked material from employees or hackers, hence the companies should share some blame for lacking adequate controls and security systems.

Just like Kazaa and Napster, the enforcement will eventually figure out a way to prevent access via legislation like SOPA or firewall.

Interesting observation. I've made the same long ago.

Continuing to seed completed torrents is indeed absurd, and is the very definition of altruism: you contribute to the community at no reward.

Egoistic and atheistic people probably have trouble understanding the idea. Does that include Halfsigma? xD

Aren't torrents loaded with viruses?

There's an easy way to tell the difference between a youngster from the generation Y and an old fart; the latter thinks that P2P is inherently dangerous, that viruses can activate themselves without you personally double-clicking on an executable file, or that a non-executable file (i.e., a TV series .mkv or .avi) can contain a virus.

Seriously, man, get a grip. Once you know how computers work, you'll never worry about getting a virus via P2P.

In the rare cases I download executable files, I run a Virustotal scan and voila.

[HS: Actually, I have no idea what files types can contain executable code. Yes, you can definitely pick up viruses just by surfing the web without actually downloading any torrents. I recommend surfing in a browser with all plug-ins disabled and using anti-virus software. I've been doing this since my notebook computer was completely hosed by a virus and I had to resinstall the OS from scratch.]

"Although the profit motive means that we have zillions of drugs for treating erectile dysfunction, and not so many for treating life-threatening conditions that only affect a small number of people."

The profits from erectile dysfunction drugs and the like subsidize research into the "orphan drugs" you mention. Merck famously gave away Mectizan, the cure for African River Blindness, even though it couldn't find anyone to pay for it: http://thehackensack.blogspot.com/2009/05/built-to-last.html

"He is wrong. "Stealing" necessarily entails depriving one of their property."

It's depriving someone of their livelihood.

"The free market is infinitely flexible and a viable, profitable solution WOULD be found."

The free market requires a foundation of rule of law, including intellectual property rights. The natural economic state absent rule of law isn't a free market. It's feudalism.

Are artists really not making a living because of torrenting? I doubt it. When I used napster as a kid it introduced me to lots of bands I never would have heard of because they weren't big studio creations. I ended up throwing some of them money one way or another over time.

Speaking of napster, I mainly used it because it was the only way to get music off the internet. There was a time before itunes and instant easy to use $1 downloads. Once itunes became available I started paying for music.

TV is a medium I basically never watch when it airs. I either watch it on demand or on the internet. South Park had trouble with people stealing their stuff online. Did they start suing waitresses and teenagers? No, they just put their episodes on their own website and made you watch a couple of 30 second commercials during the feed. I find this easier then pirating. If this wasn't available I'd have stopped watching long ago.

You think it can't work for high quality TV. I pay my HBO subscription fee for access to on demand and HBO Go.

People will pay for things. You just need to start providing your product the right way. People under 40 want to watch things when it fits in with their schedule. Also, stop trying to rip people off. Nobody wants to buy a fucking album for like 3 good songs. They also don't want to trek to the mall and go through the hassle of ripping stuff to their mp3 player.

The problem isn't "stealing is killing content producers". The problem is content producers (or, more accurately, corporate content owners) are fucking retarded, greedy, or both.

[HS: I invest a lot of time into this blog for no compensation. And I know a guy who writes novels that no one buys. And I know several people who play music who make practically no money from doing it.]

And the people that do that can release things under a creative commons license. The products released under a traditional copyright are working on a different model.

You're not doing this, but people always make an abstract argument that media made without a profit motive is somehow superior and then use that to justify stealing and consuming for-profit media. Obviously there is something to be said for the for-profit model if it creates so much stuff that you want to steal.

I think copyright terms should be dramatically reduced (to ~20 years) but that it should be strictly enforced even if that requires totally reworking the internet to make anonymity impossible.

@ HS
“my notebook computer was completely hosed by a virus and I had to resinstall the OS from scratch”

Before I started using better anti-virus protection, I would regularly have viruses, but that made me very good at removing them. That makes it hard for me to believe that such radical measures are necessary. At first, I would Google specific fixes or go into HiJack This to disable what I couldn’t recognize. Then, I noticed that Malwarebytes and AdAware in safe mode were sufficient. I haven’t studied the issue, but my impression is that viruses are annoying but not so disastrous.

@ Derrida

“Private torrent trackers have ratio requirements. If you don't seed enough they'll ban you.”

I confess to committing grand theft intellectual--libraries of books, more music than anyone else has ever downloaded ever, expensive software, test prep, television, movies obscure and popular, some games. I have always done the “hit and run” out of paranoia, and I have no idea what you’re talking about.

To avoid the Man, I recommend checking TorrentFreak and the news feed on Slyck regularly to find out which content produces are pursuing legal action and avoid their content. Currently, six-strikes is in the works, but certain ISPs are not taking part. That could change.

As far as the morality of sharing is concerned, I noticed that people are selective in their relativism, but everyone is a relativist. Ask almost anyone why alcohol shouldn’t be banned. You invariably hear, “we tried that.” That is relativist to the core. Copyright protection is clearly backed up by the Constitution, just like alcohol prohibition was. Considering the practical consequences of sharing, I wonder if we would still be messing around with portable CD players if it weren’t for Napster. Would we really have iPads without sharing?

The good-music industry died for reasons other than sharing, in my opinion. The driving forces of good music were technological progress that made new styles possible and the suppression of good or “alternative” music prior to alternative music. Music technology reached diminishing returns in the late 90s. The decline of novelty led to a decline in inspiration, but most people have missed out on the best music because they never heard of it. Instead of worrying about artists, we should mine the creative capital now open to us.

[HS: There existed a killer virus that at the time that was unremovable by any of the methods you mentioned.]

"I would never steal from a book store: stealing is wrong. Do you not agree?"

How do you feel about reading entire books while standing in the store? =)

Something I have done many, many times...

[HS: How about reading entire non-circulating books at a library. I did that before the internet.]

" Yes, you can definitely pick up viruses just by surfing the web without actually downloading any torrents."

It happened to me several months ago.

America's intellectual property system surely is broken but never paying won't fix it. Those who torrent paid content are just as greedy as the corporate distributors they criticize. What it comes down to is you want free entertainment and are willing to deprive the content creator of compensation to get it. People who happily torrent the latest game, TV show, album, or movie don't give a shit about corporate greed *or* content creators. They just don't want to pay. What makes it egregious is the assholes pretend their fundamentally selfish behavior is actually saintly. Rubbish.

What happened with the Humble Indie Bundle exemplifies this mentality very well. A package of 8 popular games from indie developers, digitally distributed with no DRM type restrictions, part of the proceeds went to charity, one could determine the cut that developers received, and most importantly one could set the price. Literally, you could obtain the bundle for a single cent if you wanted. What's mind boggling is that even under these conditions it was estimated 25% of total downloads came from piracy.

There are less dubious reasons to torrent, such as wanting to try before you buy, but the "corporations are evil so I'm going to fill my hard disk with stolen* shit" excuse is absolute rubbish.

* Yes, I know legally it's copyright infringement and not theft. However, a person who takes what is not given meets the colloquial and moral definition of a thief.

[HS: How about reading entire non-circulating books at a library.]

No moral dilemma there. You're not expected to "buy anything" at a library - the books are there to be read.

What I really don't get is the policy that eBooks in the library can only be checked out by one patron at a time. That is stupid. The library only buys one copy of a hard cover book, but (in principle) infinitely many patrons can borrow it and read it. So why can't infinitely many patrons borrow an eBook at the same time? All they would be doing is borrowing in parallel rather than sequentially as with the paper book. Yeah I am sure the publishers impose some sort of licensing agreement on the libraries, but it is asinine. Also asinine: that you have to be eligible to borrow paper books from the library in order to borrow eBooks. For example, you must be a resident of NY to borrow eBooks from the NYPL. WTF? Do they think I am not going to give their electrons back?

Might there be a way to take advantage of the very low costs and high convenience of digital copying and distribution (do away with the artificially imposed scarcity model) while still rewarding content producers in a somewhat meritocratic fashion? Is it possible for content creators to still make their money while the number of beneficiaries could be limited only by the number of people who want to consume the product? This might involve some free riders at both the production and consumption end of the system, but wouldn't that be an acceptable downside to a system that would massively increase the actual "value consumed," which is the justification most often given for market approaches in the first place?

This would probably involve some sort of government subsidy/involvement, but so does the massive apparatus of copyright enforcement. Do we spend resources limiting content consumption, or enabling it?

Possible concerns:

Media consumption is already fairly cheap, and already near saturation point for most people. Are people really capable of consuming much more content? Don't people already consume too much entertainment? In theory, the system isn't limited to trivial entertainments but these would still probably dominate for obvious reasons.

Free speech? Would this open up an avenue for direct/indirect censoring of unpopular views? Could it be any worse than the current media landscape? Or would it diminish the influence of the current politically correct Hollywood establishment?

How does this affect the current advertising, political campaigning, and media influence peddling apparatus? Here, I see a lot more advantages than disadvantages.

Doesn't this system already exist in a legally illegitimate but mostly unpunished form already? This system is subsidized by people who do pay for their media consumption, and may not continue indefinitely.

Main problem; The current media establishment would be the biggest losers in such a system, so it probably isn't going to happen.

On the subject of malware: Use Sandboxie. It's free and practically foolproof. I haven't run an antivirus program in over a year, and have yet to have a single problem. If you see symptoms of malware, close the sandbox and it's gone: no need to spend hours cleaning a system, and still not knowing if it's clean and stable at the end of that process.


People have been stealing games forever, yet people still develop games. I pay for them on Steam all the time.

The funny thing is that these indie developers would have revenues of $0 if it wasn't so damn easy to steal their stuff. The same tech that allows people to steal is the same tech that allows people like me to easily buy their shit off steam. I've spent a lot on indie games over the years, enough to make up for people torrenting. I doubt that torrentors would have been paying customers. And in a world where people had to go to Gamestop and buy a box with a cd in it indie developers would be fucked.

It's kind of like having an all you can eat buffet. You know a few fat people out there are really going to take advantage of it. However, its a cost of doing business.

My take on torrenting free music and gimping the entertainment industry complex: It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

If the numbers of horny men still trying to learn guitar and break out as indie rock stars is any indication, the reduced income stream from stealing their music isn't nearly enough of a disincentive to try another line of work. Or: they do it all for the nookie. And the nookie they get, because hot babes don't really care about a guy's money if he's bringing fame and social status to the table.

"I think copyright terms should be dramatically reduced (to ~20 years) but that it should be strictly enforced even if that requires totally reworking the internet to make anonymity impossible." -- Anonymous


"I've spent a lot on indie games over the years, enough to make up for people torrenting. "


If you pirate a game instead of buy it, developers don't get their cut. Fewer sales means less available capital for future game development. Even "small budget" indie games cost oodles of money and effort to create.

Sure the games industry will chug along regardless of piracy because most people *actually* pay, but if you value the games you play, why be a free rider at all? And if you don't value them, why pirate? This behavior suggests that you and others feel entitled to people's work, and to be entertained by it.

Some people have a weird attitude towards entertainment media and commercial creativity in general. Just because end product is "entertaining" for the consumer, doesn't mean the actual development is for the creators. It's a job. The end product is usually the result of many talented people working their asses off for profit. If this stuff was being created to satisfy some artist's personal aesthetic needs it would be free or in a gallery somewhere.

Copying a music file is not depriving anyone of their property. Everyone involved still has their music. It is not "theft" by any means.

Music also does not require R&D, and is not expensive to produce.

And as an occupation, musicians add nothing to the real economy. Who cares if some of them are or aren't able to do it "for a living"? Poor mediocre musicians, we all pity you, you might have to get a real job doing something besides manipulating soundwaves!

"With respect to entertainment media, one has to imagine if the world would be a better or worse place if there were no copyright protection for digital files, or if the copyright protection were a lot shorter (say only for a few months after the release of a movie)"

That's really how society has to approach the issue. Not by some "objective morality" according to which making a digital copy of a music recording is EEEVUL one day and perfectly fine on whatever arbitrary day the copyright expires.


What I mean is the same technology that allows people to download off steam also allows torrents. If you want one your going to get the other. Indie developers are better off in an environment where its easy to both purchase and steal their product vs one where it is hard to both purchase and steal. Having their product stolen sometimes is a cost of doing business.

The music and film industries employ lots of people who do low and mid level work, and so stealing/sharing hurts them as well as the fat cats and stars at the top of the pyramid.

I switched from pirating to legal streaming after attending a few indie concerts and realizing the low budget they are living on. But then I've switched again from streaming to plain old CDs for amoral reasons: you get something of transferable value, cool visual art, and it facilitates listening to an album as a whole. Not to mention the retro appeal.

[HS: I am sure that people who grew up with vinyl LPs think it's ironic that you call CDs "retro."]

@ asdf

Digital piracy and digital distribution are two sides of the same coin technology-wise; you have no disagreement with me there. But my posts were about the psychology and morality of torrenting, not the technology.

As I explained, rampant piracy ultimately hurts the "value creators" in entertainment industries. Supporting it is hypocritical if you hate looting and entitlements. The gimmedat mentality behind those and torrenting are identical.

@HS: Have you missed the article titled "I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With" by NPR intern Emily White? This caused some uproar last summer.

Here is an interesting excerpt:

"But I didn't illegally download (most) of my songs. A few are, admittedly, from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa. Some are from my family. I've swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo (I owe him one)."

The bulk of file sharing takes place in meat space by swapping hard drives. This method is fast, untraceable and low-tech but it requires a large social circle.

Socially inept nerds have to resort to online filesharing. It is only this form of file sharing that is condemned. Notice how Emily White seems to only consider downloading to be illegal.

The crackdown on online file sharing is yet another form of discrimination against low status nerd activity.


btw. Emily White's name, her writing, her music preferences are so cliché, it could be an onion piece.

I recommend this blog post on the topic of IP, and this blog in generl. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/12/considering-copyright.html

It's another contrarian blog but with different political views than Half Sigma.

What is the value to media creators (value producers? lol) of not having to pay for media vs not being paid for their own media?

It depends on the media creator -

For those media creators who are like novelists and young musicians and things, with low production costs and who spend a lot on consuming media, and who are interested mainly in self expression and kudos, there is probably a lot of value in not having to buy books vs not being paid as often for them... The same is true for value creators who primarily rely on advertising and live performances. For the Hollywood system, it's rather different lot.

What Hollywood and the music industry wants out of the internet is basically the same situation as before, same prices, same monopolies on production, same level of competition, except now they don't even have to pay basic distribution and production costs - I see no good reason to give it to them, and they're not going to get that either way.

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