Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Ethical issues surrounding Gnutella

Author:Jeremy Bowers
Posted:4/12/2000; 10:03:59 AM
Topic:Ethical issues surrounding Gnutella
Msg #:16120 (In response to 16118)
Prev/Next:16119 / 16121

Copyright cares a lot about distribution. Once you've bought something, like a book, for your home, you would actually have to do something pretty astonishing to end up on the wrong side of copyright law. As long as you don't involve large numbers of other people, you can't really violate copyright. It also cares a lot about damages to the revenue derivable from the product; whistling a song in the elevator is unlikely to damage the sales of the album that song is on.

Contrariwise, whether or not you agree with the argument, the idea that an MP3 downloaded in Napster that somebody is distributing to the world might represent the loss of a sale (and, by extension of the fact that it is being distributed to anyone willing to download it means loss of a lot of sales) is in a very different league. You can't smudge whistling something in an elevator together with distributing 1,000 copies of a top-ten MP3 with Napster; the differences are real.

The core of the problem/opportunity: Distribution costs are approaching zero for the first time in history, and that's rocking the boat pretty hard.

As for any other "well what if" questions you might come up with, that's why laws are written in English and interpreted by humans, not written in mathematics and interpreted by computers. Just ask yourself if a judge would buy it. I think the classic example of this is "I'm not charging for the performance/copies, I'm recieving donations unrelated to the performance/copies." Do judges buy this argument? (Hint: No. I know some people who have learned that the hard way.)

BTW, you can't un-lame-ify your arguments by simply accusing somebody else's of being lame. Go study copyright law, for goodness sake. You're not really making any sense, you're just wildly flailing about the issue without really saying anything and annoying people in the process.

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