Is piracy considered an act of theft?

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I wouldn't say they are refining it to remove grey, as that implies there is grey in the law, but rather they are refining it to remove chance of misinterpretation. I'm majorly simplifying this comparison for example sake, but think of the law like the C standard. We had a discussion a few months back about how C99 added the part to the standard about "main must return an int" which was missing from previous standards. That missing from pre-C99 standards led many programmers to interpret it as void main() being fine. So C99 added it to remove that misinterpretation.

If you think about it, that is what a lawyer does, they learn the law and then from case to case they find the areas that can sway a person's interpretation in order to either prove guilt or innocence (or at least get a hung jury) using the facts as tools to prove their side.
I was on vacation so I'm late to this party. Here's my 2 cents:

MultiMedia wrote:
is piracy good for the music industry?


Absolutely not. But in my mind that is not a bad thing.

The music industry (and the entertainment industry in general) is over bloated, over paid, and in general a prime example of an industry we don't need.

If it wouldn't put tons of people out of work, I would be happy to shut down the entire music/television/movie industries. They're completely worthless.

(EDIT: And in fact... internet piracy is probably the best way to gently put these worthless industries out of business. Rather than a sudden collapse which would be devastating... as piracy becomes more and more common, the industries will gradually become less and less relevant and will go out of business on their own /EDIT)

Good music is art. Good film is art.

Art is about interpersonal contact (or intrapersonal contact). It is the antithesis of a business. Businesses are about making money -- and art should not be about making money -- it should be about expressing yourself and/or helping other people express themselves.

Art makes people happier, it makes people more creative, and it generally makes society and life better as a whole. It should be available to everyone, not just those who can pay for it. Limiting access to it to only those who can pay is unfair.

Artists should be government funded (this is working well in some European countries like Germany). We should encourage them to create for creation's sake, rather than have them create to try and make a profit.


So while internet music piracy may not be great for the entertainment industry -- it is great for everyone else. Which, to me, is another clear sign that we simply do not need the entertainment industry. At all.

is it good for the economy?


Not directly, no. But again... art should not be part of the economy. At least not in the way this question suggests.

or is it just bad in general,


I think it's great.

i mean if it's really bad then why do they allow people to share movie files and songs and games on the internet?


It's extremely hard to stop.

Remember when Metallica (*makes hand jerk-off motion in a mocking way*) tried to shut down Napster because it was the big file sharing program at the time? Well, Napster eventually got shut down (and replaced with an iTunes-style online music store) -- but 3+ other programs popped up to replace it. I remember iMesh, Mopheus, and KaZaA in particular, but there were others.

And when those collapsed, others replaced them.

Now the current means to pirate is through torrents. And those are even harder to stop because they're decentralized. And even if torrents are successfully stopped, you can bet money something else will pop up to fill the gaps.


The public (or at least the internet community) has spoken. They want internet piracy. It's widely believed to be a worthwhile thing.
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black and white: in absolute terms, unequivocally, without shades of grey, categorically, uncompromisingly, unconditionally, unambiguously, clearly, positively, straightforwardly, definitely, definitively; simplistically, shallowly, patly, glibly, jejunely, naively. ANTONYMS equivocally.


If it is black and white there is no room for misinterpretation.

---==#==---
Law is a term which does not have a universally accepted definition,but one definition is that law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour.

Having guidelines means that law is not black and white.

but even if US law is black and white, it is not universal and other systems of law are not black and white.
I'm majorly simplifying this comparison for example sake, but think of the law like the C standard. We had a discussion a few months back about how C99 added the part to the standard about "main must return an int" which was missing from previous standards. That missing from pre-C99 standards led many programmers to interpret it as void main() being fine.
How can you misinterpret something that's not there? Something that's not allowed de facto but allowed de jure is an excellent example of a gray area.

If you think about it, that is what a lawyer does, they learn the law and then from case to case they find the areas that can sway a person's interpretation in order to either prove guilt or innocence
Like, fittingly, Grey Wolf has pointed out, if there are no grays then there is no room for reinterpretation. If laws were perfectly black and white, we could just feed them to a computer to spit out correct judgements with certainty, and we could look for inconsistencies and incompatibilities automatically, a la automated theorem proving. We need humans to do this work because that's not the case.
"Law is black and white, but police work is thickly grey." -- Detective Earley, Anderson Police Department

Stumbled upon that quote and figured I'd throw it out there, but I'm done arguing my point after reading something. I disagree with both of you, but we know this would never end because I would just keep finding rebuttals for your points so I will give up and post a paraphrase of what I read that made me give up.

...

I concede, you are right.

Grey areas would explain this travesty:

Two mothers doing almost identical crimes got severely different punishments. Think it was June of 2012, two women days apart, left their kids in the car on a hot day. One was going in for a job interview and the other one was just going into a place to do drugs. The one that went in for the interview lost her kids and got a prison sentence while the other one kept her kids, probation, and mandatory rehab.

How does a mother trying to get a job and contribute to society get a harsher punishment than someone who has chosen to do drugs and escape from society?
I disagree with both of you, but we know this would never end because I would just keep finding rebuttals for your points so I will give up
Because, why bother playing when you can just take the ball and go home, right?

Grey areas would explain this travesty:
They could, but they probably don't. A misjudgement due to a misinterpretation of an poorly specified law would be subtle and difficult to spot for a layman, or it wouldn't have happened in the first place. I'd be more inclined to think that there's something I'm not being told.
helios wrote:
Because, why bother playing when you can just take the ball and go home, right?

You and Grey Wolf made it clear you think the law has grey areas. I've made it clear I think it is black and white and that it is human interpretation that makes it grey. I'm not going to change my point of view, but I'm also not going to spend multiple pages arguing my view when it is obvious none of us are going to change our views. My view was formed by the teacher I knew and has been solidified by the police officers I have known.
BHX,

I'm not intending to try and change your point of view.

While I understand the sentiment of "The law is black and white, human interpretation makes it grey", I find it to be an oxymoron.

"I've made it clear I think it is black and white and that it is human interpretation that makes it grey.", this is the bit I'm trying to get my head around. I can not see how something can be Black and White but still be open to interpretation.

It would help me if you could explain your understanding of 'Black and White' in this context.


The law is black and white ...
In a parallel universe maybe.
For the most part I find myself agreeing with BHX here and I'm not just playing devils advocate. Laws are written with a well defined intent. But they get applied, in some cases generically, to wildly different scenarios. A large part of determining what crime, if any, that a person might be guilty of is Mens Rae; did that person intentionally destroy public property or is he just a spastic jack ass? A persons intentions are rarely known definitively from the start and if you ask them most people are going to give you whatever answer mitigates the most trouble for them. It is up to what ever Judicial body is relevant to interpret the evidence and testimony in a trial and to determine, in their opinion, what the most likely scenario was.

Grey Wolf said:
... this is the bit I'm trying to get my head around. I can not see how something can be Black and White but still be open to interpretation.

I would say the standard for JavaScript is pretty well defined, some would say "black and white", yet I challenge you to exclusively use Internet Explorer for a week. Joking aside though conditions that are undefined need to be "filled in" somehow, and what they get filled in with is determined by the observer. For example, if you're a pessimist and you think that everyone around you is a jerk then you would tend to assume the worst of people.

@ BHX: Where is the confusion in that case with the two mothers? Drug addiction in the US is seen as a disease, this may have been a really poor implementation but the mind set for the courtroom is that she was not responsible for her actions due to her mental state. As a side note, follow up inspections of the home are mandatory in any criminal case where CPS gets involved. So she didn't "get to keep her kids", they are at most postponing judgement pending her response to the court ordered treatment. The women who was going in for the job interview however was in a functional state of mind and she still consciously made a dangerous decision for her own personal gain. This suggests a flaw in character and it seriously brings her ability to decide what is best for those children into question. She didn't lose them for good by the way, I hear it's a royal PITA but it is still possible for her to be granted custody again. This moral contrast is an absolutely perfect example of how the intent of the individual is used in establishing the defendants level of guilt and responsibility.

EDIT: Singular and plural form mix up.
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Computergeek01,

I'm talking about The Law not how the law is prosecuted. An example would be along the lines of the legalisation of medical marijuana in certain states would be in direct conflict with Federal law. So grey areas are the areas the have contradictions, insufficient cover or overlapping cover.

In this I'm not trying to suggest that Law systems are riddled with such grey areas. My main point is that you can't (or shouldn't) answer 'legal' questions as if there is single perfect system of law that covers everyone in the world.
Grey Wolf wrote:
I'm talking about The Law not how the law is prosecuted.


Is that a distinction worth making?

The former is the law in theory.
The latter is the law in practice.


I don't have a lot of first hand knowledge of actual legal text. But from what I understand, a lot of it relies on intentions, and intentions are anything but black and white.

The law is so gray-scale that it defines multiple different crimes for what are effectively the same thing -- ranked in "tiers" or "degrees" so that the level of gray can be determined by lawyers and juries.

What is the difference between First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, etc? It's all the same crime: killing someone. The only difference is the grayscale surrounding the circumstances of the crime.

It most definitely is not black and white.
Is that a distinction worth making?
Yes. The distinction is between the rules and determining if you broke them.

The former is the law in theory.
The latter is the law in practice.
The theory or philosophy of law (jurisprudence [Normative/analytic]) is something entirely different. :0)

It's called piracy because it's stealing... you're taking somthing somone worked to make, that would otherwise be sold at a price, and giving it away for free: you're stealing it from them, and aiding others in using the product without compensation to the author.
"The law is black and white, ..."
black and white -- a very clear choice that causes no confusion

The law says very clearly what is required to be breaking it and gives the range for fines and punishments.
Disch wrote:
What is the difference between First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, etc? It's all the same crime: killing someone. The only difference is the grayscale surrounding the circumstances of the crime.

First degree murder means the criminal methodically plans and intentionally kills a person.
Second degree murder means the criminal intentionally kills a person, but there was no plan. Basically you get a gun and just drive around shooting whoever.
Voluntary Manslaughter means you basically have an emotional break or mental breakdown and kill someone. "Crime of Passion" falls under this usually.
Involuntary Manslaughter means a person death is unintentional or do to negligent acts. Hitting someone while you are drinking and driving would usually fall under this.

"... human interpretation makes it grey."
This site is actually a great example of human interpretation as I've lost track of how many times I've seen people make a comment just to go back and state they misunderstood (misinterpreted) what was originally said. A lot of terms have dual meanings, which can also go to misinterpretations. Just because something is black and white, doesn't mean a person understands it.

Now, you are right, intent is a grey area, but the law doesn't have to prove intent. The prosecutor has to prove intent while the defense lawyer has to create a shadow of doubt.

One argument earlier was that if it was black and white, like I claimed, computers would be able to just deal out the sentences. That isn't true even in theory, but lets look at a movie (based off a comic) before I get to my point. Stallone's Judge Dredd, beginning of the movie, a character hijacks a electronic food dispenser, upon which Dredd catches him and sentences him to the maximum punishment. The reason I referenced that movie is because that movie shows one reason computers would never work and one reason our legal system is great and flawed at the same time. Compassion.

There is your "grey area", compassion. The law says what is required to be breaking it and then dictates the minimum and maximum fines and sentence lengths. It is a judge's and jury's compassion for the circumstances of the case that usually trumps the law. It is impossible to truly separate your opinions and personal views from a case and they will dictate how the judge and jury react to the case and ultimately rule on it.

In the end, it is better to simply agree to disagree. I see it as black and white and you don't. Nothing wrong with either view as everyone views things differently.

Unfortunately, this is going to be my last post for a while. Due to money trouble I will have to cancel my internet service for a few months. Hope to be back soon or find alternatives.
If my software was being pirated I would simply change the way money was made out of it, you cannot go against the flow of things, especialy in an anarchic environment like the internets, it never works;

people power can only be curbed it has never really been controlled with the exception of north korea (which may experience a revolution at any moment of instability)

And the flow is naturally dealing with piracy all by itself look at free to play games with stupid my stuff to advance money making schemes or games being online.

If my stuff was being pirated I would simply be selling it wrong the same goes for leaks in sensitive data.
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people power can only be curbed it has never really been controlled with the exception of north korea (which may experience a revolution at any moment of instability)


People can be and are controlled/enslaved in various places around the world and have been throughout all of recorded history. North Korea is nothing special, and in fact is mild compared to other areas (particularly in regions in Africa and the Middle East)
Grey Wolf: The issue here in the states with Marijuana is that we have it incorrectly classified as a Schedule I substance (EDIT: I should point out that this classification indicates that the substance either has zero medical use or that the side effects of using it are worse then the condition it treats). What you're seeing in the news is our wonderful governments half-assed method for error correction. In order for Marijuana to be reclassified for medical use the Feds want to see a thoroughly documented study done. But these studies are expensive and no one wants to pay for them. Instead the guys running these states think they can just write exceptions for this plant into their own laws as a work around. The trouble with that logic is that classifying substances for medical use is not, and has never been, a states right; it has always been the federal governments responsibility. So in reality this isn't creating any grey area since the laws these states are creating aren't legal. The people who are running these businesses are still breaking the law since the crime of possessing a Schedule I substance is clearly defined and what qualifies as a Schedule I substance is also written out in a concise manner; they are simply not being prosecuted for it. This was probably a bad example since it directly contradicts your first sentence.

Having reread the past messages posted here I am starting to feel like I'm misinterpreting your use of the term "Grey Area". You guys are saying that laws are not well defined but then the examples you give are of individual laws granulation. Am I alone in thinking that these are not the same thing?
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Computergeek01,

That example was one that I remember from a US law website that was talking about the "grey areas" of US law, I just can't be bothered to try to find a link for it.

Also, I have talked about not being black and white and lead into grey areas I don't necessarily see them as the same thing.

Grey areas are the areas that have contradictions, insufficient cover or overlapping cover. Being black and white is to do with clarity and specificity.

Here is an example from the Data Protection Act in the UK, there are a few reasons why I think this is not black and white.
20 Duty to notify changes.

(1)For the purpose specified in subsection (2), notification regulations shall include provision imposing on every person in respect of whom an entry as a data controller is for the time being included in the register maintained under section 19 a duty to notify to the Commissioner, in such circumstances and at such time or times and in such form as may be prescribed, such matters relating to the registrable particulars and measures taken as mentioned in section 18(2)(b) as may be prescribed.

(2)The purpose referred to in subsection (1) is that of ensuring, so far as practicable, that at any time—
(a)the entries in the register maintained under section 19 contain current names and addresses and describe the current practice or intentions of the data controller with respect to the processing of personal data, and
(b)the Commissioner is provided with a general description of measures currently being taken as mentioned in section 18(2)(b).

(3)Subsection (3) of section 18 has effect in relation to notification regulations made by virtue of subsection (1) as it has effect in relation to notification regulations made by virtue of subsection (2) of that section.

(4)On receiving any notification under notification regulations made by virtue of subsection (1), the Commissioner shall make such amendments of the relevant entry in the register maintained under section 19 as are necessary to take account of the notification
.
I have underlined a couple of parts with the hope that you can see why I don't see this as black and white.

_______________
edit: I admit it's a crap example...I was misreading it...but then that makes my point that it is not black and white. Anyway, I give in, there must be some sort of cultural difference in the meaning of black and white or something.
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That first underlined part is a clear move to keep this law open ended so that the data included in this registry can be modified later. I can't disagree with you there. It's like they aren't even trying to hide that fact. Are the second and third underlines an extension of the first? It looks to me like they want a record of what the people are doing or what then intend to do with the data they are gathering. I may be falling for the ruse here but I read that as:

Govt: "What are you doing with that data?"

You: "Making a phone book"

End of conversation. I'm not seeing how they cloud up the understanding of the first point or how they are a problem on their own. I've learned that each government has their own brand of double talk and you're undoubtedly more qualified to see any if it exists in this case.
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