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back to article What freetard are you: Justified, transgressor or just honest?

New research commissioned by UK uber-regulator Ofcom confirms that a tiny number of Brits are responsible for most of the copyright piracy in Blighty - and they're predominantly male and wealthy. But you knew that already. However, the ambitious study has tried something new. It attempted for the first time to create a field …

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They missed "Impatient Bastard"

I'll usually order a CD online and then fire up bitTorrent and download it. I know I could probably use a service like iTunes for more instant gratification, but I do prefer having a physical backup of my property.

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Re: They missed "Impatient Bastard"

I could understand that if you'd said you wanted the bundled artwork or the higher quality uncompressed audio on the CD but the hardware and software required to produce your own more permanent media is all but ubiquitous.

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Re: They missed "Impatient Bastard"

"but the hardware and software required to produce your own more permanent media is all but ubiquitous"

But what about the time I will have to spend on doing it? When somebody else has already pressed the CD, put it in the box and is willing to mail it directly to me?

As you said, that's apart from pressed CD's being of better quality/longevity and the cost of equipment amortisation and consumables...

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Re: They missed "Impatient Bastard"

Same here, not so much for music but TV and Movies, typically high quality rips of films are available well before retail release here. Same goes foreign (read US mainly with the odd Canadian show for good measure) TV shows.

So I will usually watch once a high quality version is online but then buy once the boxset is available here. Spend more than 168 quid in six months on content as well I can tell you. Would have spent far less without piracy as I would not have discovered most of the stuff I buy without it.

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Re: They missed "Impatient Bastard"

"I'll usually order a CD online and then fire up bitTorrent and download it. I know I could probably use a service like iTunes for more instant gratification, but I do prefer having a physical backup of my property."

The "honesty-box" market model you describe, i.e. individuals voluntarily deciding to pay for things, is not a market model at all. Markets require individuals to have to pay if they want their desire to be fulfilled.

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Anonymous Coward

How on earth is the average person supposed to be able to determine what is infringement and what isn't?Obviously downloading a newly released film is breaking the law, and there are other obvious no-no's, but there are a huge number of series online, for example, which could fall into any one of 20 categories. Is watching a BBC series outside of iPlayer infringement if I pay a TV license. Is watching a series online that I previous purchased and owned on DVD infringement, given that I've already purchased the right to watch it. Is watching an HBO series online which isn't commercially available on any format in my country infringement? What about a series that is 25 years old?

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@ac 10:18

Yes they are ALL infringement in almost all cases (basically everything you list unless the rights owners have granted the rights explicitly). I'm also assuming that by watching "online" you mean torrenting or other unlicensed services rather than paying Netflix/Lovefilm who have negotiated (in most cases limited and restricted) licenses to distribute the content. Stuff on Youtube and similar sites may be a mixed bag with some content licensed legally or uploaded by the rights holders, some stuff has a deliberate blind eye turned and other content is straight infringing content. I don't think that by watching streamed stuff you could be deemed to be infringing provided you were not copying, distributing or publicly performing the work but I am not a lawyer.

I believe (only checked with a quick Google and the top items are all about government intention to change the law not that it has actually been done) that it is still copyright infringement to rip your CDs onto your computer and another infringing act to copy them to your phone/media player.

Now whether you or I agree that the moral situation is not as binary or clearcut and that not all acts of infringement are equal is a separate question.

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@Joseph Lord

I think the AC's point is that copyright law is too complex to be understood by the common person. Those of us who lived through the VCR era are used to having our time-shifting rights protected; the idea of taping a show to watch later, or months/years later is a given. So downloading a series that was on air 1 or 2 days ago, or weeks ago, whatever, will usually be classified as an equivalent action. Even if the MAFIAA says it isn't.d

Mind you, the problem isn't that people have misconceptions; the actual copyright laws and rights are broken. There's a good chance that if you "buy" the boxed series edition, you'll end up with a series that has its entire soundtrack swapped for something crappier because of rights stupidity. Hell, if you look for the earlier Beavis & Butthead episodes, chances are that you'll see 'em with the whole video segments cut out for the same stupid reason.

And then there's the stuff that just doesn't make it into official distribution. MST3K was, for years, unavailable. Invader Zim, being hated by Nickelodeon so much they cancelled it while still being a big hit, suffered also a long time of being unavailable. Older series that pre-date VCRs have been completely lost as their producers just don't release 'em. Why should they have the rights to exploit something that you *aren't* exploiting???

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Joke

Clearly you didn't read the article

You just look at the ads! Penis pills and crack-whores, bad.

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@AC 10:18

I've paid my BBC licence fee for 24 years (yes I'm an old git) which at current prices is £3,480.

That's a nice tidy sum the media industry has extracted from my pockets over the years for having the pleasure of having their films and records constantly plugged at my expense.

Radio 1 and Top of the Pops are nothing but big advertising channels for the music industry subsided by me the licence fee payer.

As far as BBC produced stuff goes, I consider as a UK citizen the content belongs to me as I bloody well pay their wages.

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Wrong: it is still copyright infringement to rip your CDs onto your computer

That's covered under personal use, which is allowed in the US if it isn't in the UK. The exception is if there is a DCMA electronic means enabled to prevent copying, which is of itself a dubious exception.

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Re: Wrong: it is still copyright infringement to rip your CDs onto your computer

There is no personal use exemption in the UK. There if Fair Dealing aspect that is similar but not so strong as the US Fair Use. On the plus side we don't have a DMCA or other legal restictions on reverse engineering access to copyright material (although pay TV access controls have some protections I believe.

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Re: @Joseph Lord

Agree that current law is too complex and also divorced from current practice and reasonable expectations.

Did you know that TV recording is specifically exempted for temporary short term private copies? If you are recording stuff to keep more than a week or two you are infringing copyright. In a way this makes the iPlayer's limited window logical although it probably puts most homes with a PVR or VCR outside the law.

I think if the current law was understood and enforced it would have less support than it currently does. Most people think their actions are reasonable and many don't realise they are infringing.

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I "Pirate" what I have already paid for - I bet most "Pirates" are like me

MY torrent downloads are nearly all of Series that I already get on Sky. For example, I download Game of Thrones even though I have a Sky subscription and it's on every Monday and I can download it to y box.

Why? So that I can watch it MY way. I download it, stick it on the NAS, then I can watch it in bed, using a remote control, with XBMC. It also means I can organise the media I want to watch the way I want to and have it segmented in folders. I think I am the majority case.

The other thing I do is download MP3/FLAC of my favourite music. The reason? Again, so I can upload it to Google Music and listen to what I have already bought on CD, but in a more convenient way. I don't want iTunes/Spotify and twenty different ways of listening to my music - I want it in one place, with one interface.

I am pretty sure that I am the Majority type of "Pirate". It frustrates the hell out of me, and I want to slap people who say it, when you get self righteous fools saying I should be extradited to the US and put behind bars / fined £100k etc via our outrageous extradition laws.

Movie and Music companies have only themselves to blame for this mess. If they just made stuff available in one place, like Steam does (even if you buy it elsewhere you can still integrate it into Steam) then most of this "piracy" would not happen. But they are lazy ad stupid and so prefer legal nonsense to defend their failures.

I don't download game torrents and that is purely because Steam has got it right and I can keep my games all in one place with easy access everywhere, even in my bedroom with the Steam Big Picture.

I loathe and despise the "Media Mafia" and they deserve every bit of abuse they get.

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Re: I "Pirate" what I have already paid for - I bet most "Pirates" are like me

I must say I'm the same. I pay for a cable subscription and download stuff I get there(tv shows that can take a while to show up here). As for music I'll buy a CD when I find a place that has it or I'll get the legaly free stuff(ocremix, jamendo) or even buy from some places that I know won't force anything down my throat(bandcamp, humble bundle, music bundle, similar).

Games I buy(PS3, 3DS, Linux stuff(almost all the humble bundles so far, FTL, KSP, GameDevTycoon)).

Anime as well but the lack of having some dedicated anime chans on my cable subscription is annoying. And no don't really plan on buying BOX sets much of anything simply because once I watch it I delete it.

One day they'll figure out a system where I can declare what I watch and pay a subscription but will be able to download wherever I want how I want it(i.e. grabbing the latest fansub of the latest anime but at the same declaring I got this and you get a bit of my money for it). And no Hulu and similar(region locked) ideas don't count.

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Re: I "Pirate" what I have already paid for - I bet most "Pirates" are like me

Ahoy there, thumbs up just for your title.

Agree entirely, & you dont see those silly warnings at the start of a film, me hearty.

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Re: I "Pirate" what I have already paid for - I bet most "Pirates" are like me

Just what I wanted to say, plus I can skip the adverts, I do hate paying for premium content and then being forced to pay again via advertisements.

One more gripe, when you buy media, cd, cassette, vinyl records, we own the right to listen to that content, ok hands up how many people have bought the same album 4 or 5 times as media changed, move forward pay for download of new content but really give me grandfather rights on Fleetwood Mac Rumors!

I am one of the 'justifies' to bl*&^y right, month of dial up speed? use one of my 50 quid a week purchases for an additional internet connection and alternate?

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Re: I "Pirate" what I have already paid for - I bet most "Pirates" are like me

>I pay for a cable subscription and download stuff I get there(tv shows that can take a while to show up here)

That's another area in which pressure from 'pirates' has benefited everybody: In early series of both Mad Men and Battlestar Gallactica, episodes were aired in the US weeks ahead of the UK... a few series later, and the gap in the air date had reduced dramatically. This benefited legitimate viewers, as they were less likely to stumble across spoilers on the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

What sort am I ?

Why I freetard ?

1.

Because by just going through 3 primary sources (TheBox, TPB, and Usenet) I can easily find whatever I want. If some enterprising entrepreneur could deliver that level of service for - say £20/month - then I'd freetard no more.

2.

Because I like to get my favourite shows US asap. Not wait for Sky or whoever to decide to show them in the UK.

3.

Because anything downloaded doesn't have adverts.

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Re: What sort am I ?

So essentially what you're saying is that you have a right to these items and therefore you'll obtain them by whatever means are available. When did luxury entertainment media turn from a luxury into a basic human right? Most telling is how your point 3 craps on your excuse in point 1 though. You'd be willing to pay for a service providing this level of this choice but you're happy that the primary alternative means of paying for media isn't available to you.

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Re: What sort am I ?

I think I am mostly in number 3... I watched something on ITV player this weekend and about half way through the 3rd ad break I started thinking that I should download the next episode illegally to avoid the pointless adverts for things I will never buy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What sort am I ?

When i watch the Aquabats Super Show on ITV player I let the advert at the end run just to bump up the revenue for that show. I think this is a great way to allow them to make a little money for itv without me having to dig in my own pocket! But then I'd like them to be able to afford to make some more episodes, something that a lot of free downloaders don't seem to consider....

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Re: What sort am I ?

> So essentially what you're saying is that you have a right to these items and therefore you'll obtain them by whatever means are available.

That's called the "market" and it is driven by "market forces". Trouble is, copyright is a direct contradiction to the way everything else that is bought and sold works. That's why it is having such a hard time at the moment.

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So if great infringement is done by a tiny number infringers...

Piracy isn't widespread and doesn't translate to much lost income, unless those infringers are fabulously wealthy.

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Re: So if great infringement is done by a tiny number infringers...

It's not quite that straightforward:

"3.2 per cent of the over-12 internet-connected population, who are responsible for 88 per cent of infringements."

this tells us nothing about what proportion of copies of a given title are pirated, or what % of the population do actually buy stuff. that 3.2% might be half the users of content or it might be a tiny proportion.

Still, it does suggest that it might not be worth chasing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So if great infringement is done by a tiny number infringers...

"3.2 per cent of the over-12 internet-connected population, who are responsible for 88 per cent of infringements."

Hang on a minute....

3.2 of the population do 88% of the piracy. OK.

That still leaves 96.8% who pay up or don't buy the product. So what's the problem?

But wait, who does the other 12% of the piracy? The under 12's? Probably just 1Direction songs...

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Concert spending

I think it is relevant to include it, as being a freetard can make it possible to be exposed to music you might not have otherwise listened to and then on becoming a fan gone to concerts etc.

I know many freetards who download stuff and buy legit copies of stuff they really like. I think for a lot of people it's less about paying for something and more about searching for value.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Concert spending

You're not really following the arguments or the evidence. There are many studies of this, discovery is an element but the overall effect is negative.

Which is what we'd expect. Why pay for something when the alternative is substitutable and there's no risk? That's a rational economic decision.

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Re: Concert spending

Which is what we'd expect. Why pay for something when the alternative is substitutable and there's no risk? That's a rational economic decision.

Does that mean "freetard" will be replaced by "rationaltard"?

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Re: Concert spending

There is a missing category: people like me who download what they can't buy. I'm here in Spain and where can I even pay for the shows I like to watch? Most video streaming services lock me out for being in Spain. anything on TV will be badly dubbed into Spanish (Spanish voice actors are terrible).

And here is the best part. I believe authors should be compensated. I have an extensive DVD/Blue-Ray/CD collection and I try to grab whatever series I like that come out on DVD but more than half the time there is no one willing to even take my money.

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Re: Concert spending

"but the overall effect is negative."

Oh, says who?

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Re: Concert spending

I think it is relevant to include it, as being a freetard can make it possible to be exposed to music you might not have otherwise listened to and then on becoming a fan gone to concerts etc.

Also relevant because performance was one of the ways that musicians made money in the world before copyright. (Yes, believe it or not, music actually existed before copyright!)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Concert spending

About a dozen studies. I know of one that says otherwise, the effect is neutral.

But I wonder which you'll choose to believe? With "copyfighters" it's all about choosing the evidence to back up your prejudice. You must reject all evidence that doesn't.

"Copyfighting" is really creationism's twin brother.

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Re: Concert spending

The overall effect can only be negative if one assumes that every download would have been a sale. That also assumes that everything downloaded is, in some form, available to purchase by everybody doing said downloading.

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Re: Concert spending

Wait a second, Andrew!

""Copyfighting" is really creationism's twin brother."

In that case copyright must be the equivalent of Darwinism, right? Darwinism relies on natural selection and competition. Copyright is by definition anti-competitive. Problem? ;-)

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Re: Concert spending

"But I wonder which you'll choose to believe?"

Yes, yes, yes. Just like with the multiple reports that show that heavy downloaders actually support the entertainment industries financially more overall, with actual purchases, and you keep ignoring those.

Because, don'tcha know, 500 quid in sales from honest customers helps the industry more than 600 quid from dishonest customers.

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Re: Concert spending

Well tell that to the musicians I have spoken to such as Toby Jepson of the Little Angels. Had a great conversation with him at a gig and he seemed to have the most forward thinking viewpoint I have heard. He basically said that gigs are the money spinner, to the point where you will now pay more for a gig or concert and an album is merely a way of getting people through the door - an advert for services rendered in a music hall. True fans will buy physical media in most cases, but the bonus of a t-shirt and beanie hat means they will have spent 4 or 5 times the amount over one copy of an album in terms of merchandise and tickets.

There is an elusive drug like quality to the merchandise stall at a concert and I have spent more money there, more easily than when sitting in front of my monitor thinking "Do I really need another Weezer t-shirt?".

This argument will not fit all musicians, and the likes of Billy Bragg have a belief that is distinctly different from Toby, but there is no denying that this school of thought poo-pooed by the article has weight.

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Alert

Re: Concert spending

But I wonder which you'll choose to believe? With "copyfighters" it's all about choosing the evidence to back up your prejudice. You must reject all evidence that doesn't.

That's true of the "strong IP" crowd as well.

The proper way to evaluate a copyright system is to ask "Is it the best possible deal for the public good?" Since it's about trading away the public's natural right to make copies against the long-term gain to the public domain, it's inherently rather subjective. But if works never enter the public domain because of Mickey Mouse laws, the system is a failure for the public.

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Re: Concert spending

"You're not really following the arguments or the evidence. There are many studies of this, discovery is an element but the overall effect is negative."

I'd be interested in seeing such studies. I'd be willing to bet that they are funded by an 'interested party' and are heavily biased. I'd also be willing to bet that if they didn't come to the conclusion that the 'interested party' wanted, they would not be published.

Remember, the plural of anecdote is not data.

You have to weigh up the benefits of discovery along with the negatives; if someone stumbles across something they would otherwise not have heard of, they might buy it. If someone downloads something they otherwise might have bought, they may still buy it (this is not an outrageous supposition, I have done this, and I know many others who have too).

On the other hand, if someone downloads something they might have bought, only to find out it is crap, they then will not buy it (again, I can think of at least one film I was going to get on DVD before downloading it and finding out it was utter tripe - see if you can guess which Nicolas Cage film it was).

Then again, the thesis that a download is a lost sale is also a massive fallacy - people don't have infinite disposable income, and if something is obtainable for free it does not mean that that person would have paid for it if it wasn't.

I'd suggest that the OP may well be following the arguments and the evidence, just not your arguments, or your 'evidence'.

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Re: @Gerhard Mack

I'm with you mate. I'm also based in Spain, I'd happily pay the Beeb a license fee just to get (legit) access to iPlayer, instead of paying for a proxy service. The license fee would cost me more, but I believe that the fee is worth it for the great content they produce. If only they'd take my money!

For the rest, I download a lot of US shows so that I can watch the English versions. There's nobody here I can pay for them, or I would.

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Stop

Re: Concert spending

How about:

sickofgettingmyassshaftedbycartelstard

When the entertainment industry pulls little stunts like DVD regionalisation then they deserve all they get.

Three companies control over 70% of the world music market !

Get real Andrew and stop thinking all Megacorp CEOs are Guardian reading, flip-flop wearing gentile hippies. They are ruthless business men who will sell their own grandmother for $1 and quite happily shaft "artistes" just for the fun of it.

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Re: Concert spending

"With "copyfighters" it's all about choosing the evidence to back up your prejudice. You must reject all evidence that doesn't."

While 'copyrighters' don't have any evidence to back up their claims, and thus just make it up. They just reject all evidence.

Come on Andrew, this isn't a new issue. If every 'chicken little' prophecy of the damage of 'piracy' was true, and evidentially based, they'd have gone bankrupt a dozen times over by now. Kinda reminds me of the meetings/conferences I had to go to when I was a copyright infringement investigator for a UK record label in the late 90s.

And who can forget the lovely slapping down the IPO gave to industry claims with a request that claims be made WITH EVIDENCE (http://www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-2011-copyright-evidence.pdf), thanks to the Hargreaves review's call that policy be evidentially made, not lobbyist made.

You know, like that 'democratically mandated' law you mentioned, which got a major boost (and mired in 'wash up') after the head of UMG has a private meeting with Darth Mandy and feeds him a load of lies ('revenue down by half this year' - actually was up slightly)

By the way, I didn't notice any source for the 'under 10k/15k earnings figures on page 2. However, I *DO* recall a similar figure and claim being used by Fergal Sharkey a few years back (also unsubstantiated) to push for the 20 year EU extension of copyright terms for recorded music. Is that where you got it from, or has there been some 'evidence' behind it too?

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Re: Concert spending

"overall effect is negative"

Or positive depending on your position being screwing more money out of people for some stuff is a plus or more people getting to consume that stuff for the same amount of money is a plus.

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Re: Concert spending

No! No! Never! Since is a "rational decision", "freetard" will be, henceforth, known as "freesmart"!

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Re: Why pay for something when the alternative is substitutable

Because the person who pays for it isn't an amoral bastage.

I know both types. One guy who downloads a bunch of stuff to find what he likes then looks for the best deal online (he's never be caught dead buying DVD/Blueray in a brick and mortar store). The other guy downloads gobs of torrents because he can. Interestingly, the first is doing so because the fan subbers release stuff more quickly than it is officially released where as the second guy who started for the same reasons, now routinely downloads stuff that originates in the US.

As for me, the things I'm most likely to go looking for in the future are things that I've already paid for at least twice, once on vinyl and once on CD. Frankly, I'm getting tired of getting ripped off for replacement copies.

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Re: Concert spending

You're right about The Mouse being at the root of the problem with US copyright laws.

Although you've at least misconstructed the private vs public tradeoff for IP rights. Yes, at some point IP needs to pass into the public domain. But if individuals can't make money from creating IP, there will be less of it created. So to generate those ideas we give an exclusive but limited time license to the person who created the IP. If the goal posts hadn't moved so frequently for The Mouse, I think we'd probably be where we ought to be on copyright. I'm doubtful software ought to fall under copyright and think it more properly belongs in the sorts of time frames we associate with patents. I would make exceptions for software that is book like in its creativity (such as Civ or a digital encylopedia) as opposed to software that is machine like (such as word processors and spreadsheets).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Concert spending

Just like you've chosen the 'evidence' of the poor sub-10k musicians. There's a reason they don't earn much and it's not piracy. They're just crap that isn't worth the effort to buy or to even download for free. I think you'll find that the most pirated artists still manage to earn enough to keep their drug suppliers in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

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Re: Concert spending @Gerhard Mack

If you're in Spain, I can feel your pain. The only thing worse than Mexican Spanish-dubbed movies are Spaniard-dubbed movies. Not only do they sound awful, they start calling computers "sorting machines", files turn into "index cards" and they change most swearing to something to do about gilled chickens. Gah!

Also, to those who aren't aware of how stuff goes down in Spain: *everything* is dubbed. EVERYTHING. EVERYWHERE. I know people who were there in student exchange programs who would save up for a short UK trip just to watch the current movies instead of suffering the "gallego dub edition"!

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ST7

Often Stated

'But if individuals can't make money from creating IP, there will be less of it created. So to generate those ideas we give an exclusive but limited time license to the person who created the IP'

Once again during a discussion about copyright someone makes this statement, can anybody offer evidence in favour ?

This paper offers evidence against.

http://www.vanderbiltlawreview.org/articles/2009/11/Ku-et-al.-Does-Copyright-Law-Promote-Creativity-62-Vand.-L.-Rev.-1669-2009.pdf

( overview of paper here http://www.case.edu/magazine/fallwinter2010/copyright.html )

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Alert

Which musicians are the victims of piracy?

Contrast this with the lot of the creator, who makes the stuff that Justified Bloke downloads for free. 80 per cent of musicians in the UK earn less than £10,000 a year, while 95 per cent of songwriters and composers earn less than £15,000 in royalty income.

But what proportion of pirated stuff comes from those poor musicians, and what proportion comes from highly paid ones? It makes a difference to that particular argument.

Also, what about the income of marketeers and so forth?

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