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pax et agape

Ethical question

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So there is an ethical question I have been wondering about for a while now. Like many, I get a lot of my anime from the Internet but at the same time I feel morally opposed to piracy. As a result I gave myself the self-imposed limitation of only downloading things that are not available in the United States.

This came to mind today when I read a review for [U]Summer Wars[/U] [URL="http://japancinema.net/2010/01/08/summer-wars-review/"]here[/URL] and I really wanted to watch it. So I downloaded it. Sooner or later I'm guessing this film will come to the states but who knows when that will be.

What I'm wondering is this: is it morally acceptable to just follow my previous rule or would it be better to wait until things are released in the United States and limit myself to that?

What are your thoughts?

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[font=franklin gothic medium]Since I don't download TV or movies off the Internet, I can only really compare it to music downloading.

In the past, I used to download tracks from file sharing software and this was obviously illegal. However, if I liked a songs I'd put together a list and then go and buy the actual CDs. Usually I'd actually replace the original MP3s with ones I'd made myself, due to the better quality.

These days I use iTunes and Beatport almost exclusively, so I haven't downloaded a "free" song in several years. Yes, it costs money, but it's relatively cheap compared to CDs and it's possible to find 99% of the content I want.

In terms of anime, I obviously can't tell you to go and download stuff illegally. I would just say that if you do download shows that aren't yet available in the U.S., I personally think you have an obligation to purchase them once they're available.

m00g, you say that anime is overpriced - how so? How much does it cost in America?

Here in Australia, I've found that most anime DVDs are comparable in price to live action movies or other western animated series. I guess you could argue that DVDs themselves are overpriced, but I'm not really sure how credible that is.[/font]

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[SIZE=1]I have no problem with downloading anime, if you prefer the original Japanese with subtitles it's practically impossible to get them outside of funsubs and there are shows which never make it over from Japan to the US/Europe/Aus.

Regarding music I have to admit I do download an album every once in a while if I can't find it in stores, or if the price is something ridiculous like (and this is a quote) ?26 for a 12 track, five year old album. Yes, I should probably use iTunes, but I don't like the fact the encoding isn't the universal MP3 and the fact the bit rate was until quite recently only 128 and my standard is 256.

For movies and tv-series, only if they're not available to you elsewhere (like anime), but most stuff unless it's the current season being aired is available so there's no real excuse.

In the end it's down to the individual themselves, saying it's wrong isn't going to stop them.
[/SIZE]

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[font=lucida fax]No idea about anime, but as for music I'm a picky costumor. I first download an album for free if I don't know the artist at all, or if I still doubt about quality. Then if it's an amazing album, I'll get around to buying a hardcopy for my shelf, but if it's absolutely rubbish, I'll keep the album for free as a punishment for the artist for making an album that isn't worth buying. Ha! Oh, and if it's average or just good enough, I'll probably pick it up once I see it in a discount bin.

And rarer stuff of artists that I love, like singles that you cannot just find in your average music store, I'll buy at those mp3 websites that only charge 5 - 30 cents per song. I'm anti-digital downloads where you still pay at least half the money you would've paid for the hard copy, except you don't get the physical album, which is what it's all about really.

As for films, I download them only every now and then, and in such cases I delete them after watching them once. If the film's great, I'll pick it up anyway. If it was rubbish, there's no sense in supporting the creator by giving them money to make the same trash again.
[/font]

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[SIZE="1"]I don't really download... but I do stream certain series, as well the occasional movie and some dramas. Usually, I just watch it for the first time streaming off of Youtube, Veoh, or something else... if I like the series and think it is worth watching, I'll buy it if it's available. Otherwise, I forget about it and move on. I figure if I didn't like it on Youtube, I wouldn't like it in higher quality images ^^' If it's something that isn't available in America... usually I'm still too squeamish about downloading things and just wait patiently for it to be released. If it never is... ^^;;; I guess that's my fault then haha ;;

Regarding m00g's comment, the price of anime has gone down a lot since it first came out. I remember when all box sets were around $150~200 and single DVDs were no less than $25... Now, you can find boxsets of complete series for around $40~$60 at Best Buy and sometimes even cheaper used. There are still certain series that are quite expensive, but I think the price has fallen~[/SIZE]

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[font=trebuchet ms] I think one of the reason the anime market is suffering so much in the U.S. is because most anime fandoms operate online and there's so much bittorrenting or downloading or whatever that there's minimal financial gain. Anime fans were a small group to begin with, and now most of them are happy to stay with their free, underground cultures. Sorta sad to me.[/font]

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[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]While I'm not above bittorrenting and the like to watch anime, I always make it a point to purchase anything I absolutely love if it ever becomes commercially available. Case in point, I own the first 1/3rd of Gurren Lagann on DVD (don't have enough dough for the rest) even though I watched it first online.

In this case, I would probably download it, then buy it when it came out. I can't speak for your morals, though.

Currently, I've kind of got a reverse thing going on. Thanks to Disney's absolute refusal to make it commercially available, I'm watching Digimon Tamers fansubs.[/FONT]

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[quote name='Boo'][font=lucida fax]If it was rubbish, there's no sense in supporting the creator by giving them money to make the same trash again.
[/font][/QUOTE]Yeah, God forbid someone make a living doing their job. :rolleyes:

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[quote name='Sara']Yeah, God forbid someone make a living doing their job. :rolleyes:[/QUOTE][font=lucida fax]I forbid someone making a living producing crap.[/font]

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[quote name='pax et agape']It's kind of hard to make a viable business model based on one persons subjective opinion.[/QUOTE][font=lucida fax]My business as a consumer has nothing to do with viable business models. The whole art and entertainment business is based upon separate persons' their subjective opinions. If someone thinks your product sucks, they shouldn't have to buy your rubbish either.[/font]

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I think that the biggest problem is that the entertainment industry decided to base their ad campaigns around the word "piracy" to describe the act of stealing copyrighted material as opposed to using the word "theft". Lets face it, piracy is a glamorous word. It can harken images of swashbuckling the net, liberating booty (all that free, glorious data) from the evil King's Navy (those greedy entertainment executive bastards) while stealing their wenches (mmm wenches).

If the entertainment industry used a word like "theft" then I think a lot more people wouldn't attempt to justify their behavior as beneficial or neccassary. Sure, they would still do it, they just wouldn't ask if it was right or not.

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[quote name='Boo'][font=lucida fax]I forbid someone making a living producing crap.[/font][/QUOTE]

[font=franklin gothic medium]I think the point still remains, though, that even if a product is "crap" it doesn't really give anybody the right to steal it.

Believe me, I understand the arguments that support downloading of music in some circumstances and I sympathize with some of them too.

But sometimes I think people just make excuses for doing the wrong thing. [/font]

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[quote name='James'][font=franklin gothic medium]I think the point still remains, though, that even if a product is "crap" it doesn't really give anybody the right to steal it.[/font][/QUOTE][font=lucida fax]That's right. Stealing is bad. Especially if the product is ridiculous and stupid. However, by downloading something, I'm not actually stealing it. I'm making use of the web as an information bank at it's best.

This has nothing to do with making excuses. It's just an other sense of judgement, leading back to the "ethical question" part. You think it's unfair to download something you should buy in store. I think it's unfair to pay for something that may turn out really bad.

When you steal something, it has a direct impact on more than just you. Now it's the general belief that by downloading, you're destroying the market, but at least with my belief, I and many others get to see films and listen to music that we would have otherwise never bought. And often we will buy the product as well, as a result.

Just not always. Like when it's rubbish.

Besides, it's not like I'm handing down HIV in the process.[/font]

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[quote name='Boo']That's right. Stealing is bad. Especially if the product is ridiculous and stupid. However, by downloading something, I'm not actually stealing it. I'm making use of the web as an information bank at it's best.[/quote]

[font=franklin gothic medium]If I go and download a Hollywood movie from the 'net, I'm committing piracy. I mean, you can sort of spin that in any direction you want, but I'm pretty sure that is the legal definition of the act.

As I said earlier though, I understand - and sympathise with - several of the arguments in favour of free downloads. My only issue with free downloads is if people use them exclusively and never purchase the actual product.

That objection is a moral one though and not a legal one. If I were speaking from a legal perspective, I'd be saying just what I've said above - that piracy is piracy, no matter the intent.[/font]

[quote name='Boo']You think it's unfair to download something you should buy in store. I think it's unfair to pay for something that may turn out really bad.[/quote]

[font=franklin gothic medium]I don't think that really reflects what I was actually saying. See my response to the previous quote.

Having said that, you can judge something as "fair" or "unfair", but that doesn't change its legal definition. For instance, I might think it's unfair to pay $16AUD to go and see Avatar at the movies - and it probably [i]is[/i] unfair - but that doesn't mean I have the right to sneak in without paying.

After all, nobody is going to fall over and die in the street if they don't get to see a movie or listen to music. So it's not like there's really any truly legitimate excuse for piracy, as there might be if you were stealing food or something vitally important.

But as I said, I [i]do[/i] sympathise with a couple of the arguments that people make about it from an ethical standpoint. But I'm sure if I were ever prosecuted for downloading content, my ethical view would be totally irrelevant in a court. :P[/font]

[quote name='Boo']Now it's the general belief that by downloading, you're destroying the market, but at least with my belief, I and many others get to see films and listen to music that we would have otherwise never bought. And often we will buy the product as well, as a result.[/quote]

[font=franklin gothic medium]And I think, ethically, that's fine. I do personally feel that sampling music or other content - with the intention to purchase - is worthwhile.

But again, that doesn't change the objective legal definition. And that is also a separate issue from the people who are happy to have entire libraries of downloaded stuff without ever intending to purchase the actual item.[/font]

[quote name='Boo']Besides, it's not like I'm handing down HIV in the process.[/quote]

[font=franklin gothic medium]No, but I don't think it's even worth comparing the two. Pointing to something unrelated doesn't change the nature of what we're discussing here. :catgirl:[/font]

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I feel bad about downloading things that are out in the USA. I don't do it very often, but I am very picky with my money. I download what I am curious about. I watch it and if I really like it, I will buy it. I only own the boxsets for Outlaw Star, Azumanga Daioh and Gravitation and Gravitation OVA. I am very poor so I only buy something I really like. I suppose that it is similar to listening to songs on the radio. You don't pay for the music but you hear it anyways.

When I have enough money to spend, I intend to buy Gurren Lagann, Clannad and Doctor Who but until then I will enjoy what I downloaded. (I first watched Gravitation when I was in 10th grade of high school in 2002 and I finally bought it a year or two ago.)

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[FONT=Book Antiqua][FONT=Verdana]I can't really say anything, not having downloaded anything myself, but I do get some joy in having a physical copy of something and thinking 'I bought it so now I have it la la la'. And if you can not buy it anywhere then I guess it is ok to download, you can always buy it later if it becomes available[/FONT].[/FONT]

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[quote name='James'][font=franklin gothic medium]If I go and download a Hollywood movie from the 'net, I'm committing piracy. I mean, you can sort of spin that in any direction you want, but I'm pretty sure that is the legal definition of the act.[/font][/QUOTE][font=lucida fax]I know, but like you said, that's just the legal definition, formed by chaps in higher places. The definition would be a bunch different if for example the Swedish Piratpartiet would've decided about it. So on a topic about ethics, it doesn't really apply to my opinion.

But you're perfectly right, naturally. It's silly though. Up until a bit more than a year ago, downloading was perfectly legal here in the Netherlands. It still would be, if the government had enough say in it, but the high court put a ban on it because it wasn't in line with the general European opinion on the matter.[/font]

[quote name='James'][font=franklin gothic medium][font=franklin gothic medium]No, but I don't think it's even worth comparing the two. Pointing to something unrelated doesn't change the nature of what we're discussing here. :catgirl:[/font][/QUOTE][URL=http://www.otakuboards.com/showthread.php?t=60783][U]LINK[/U][/URL] [/font]

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[quote name='Boo'][font=lucida fax]I know, but like you said, that's just the legal definition, formed by chaps in higher places. The definition would be a bunch different if for example the Swedish Piratpartiet would've decided about it. So on a topic about ethics, it doesn't really apply to my opinion.

But you're perfectly right, naturally. It's silly though. Up until a bit more than a year ago, downloading was perfectly legal here in the Netherlands. It still would be, if the government had enough say in it, but the high court put a ban on it because it wasn't in line with the general European opinion on the matter.[/font]
[/QUOTE]

[font=franklin gothic medium]Well, the legality does still apply because you then have to ask if it's ethical to break the law - especially over something that, as I said, isn't exactly a basic element that we all need to survive. But I do take your point.

In terms of the second paragraph though, I do differ a bit further. I don't think that downloading copyrighted material should be legal, because it can and does damage artists and businesses (and I'm not just talking about music, but also video games and film). There are very tangible links between piracy and lost revenue, which negative impacts all stakeholders.

Having said that, I really do support ideas that bridge the gap, like free streaming (Hulu is a good example). Those sorts of services can strike a middle-ground between rampant piracy and exclusive publisher control.[/font]

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[font=trebuchet ms]
I truly, truly cannot understand peoples' defense of downloading films/tv shows/music for free. You're stealing the product of peoples' work, work that makes them a living. It's essentially the same thing as making an employee work for 50 hours and then not paying him for it. Laws are laws, people, stop trying to make yourself feel better about stealing.

I'm also SO tired of the argument that "artists make most of their money from tours anyway, and music recording labels are just evil corporations so who cares lol?" In case everyone has forgotten, corporations and industry are part of the reason why capitalism works. So unless everyone who argues this is a socialist (highly doubtful), there's no point in using this argument. It's so easy for people who steal creative products to just blame the business companies behind them. God it's like another surge of ambiguously anti-corporation hippies. Oh, film studios are just unfairly charging too much for tickets! What evil, money-grubbing bastards-- bbviously this justifies stealing the film online and not paying anything for it! If tickets were cheaper, I'd totally go see it in theaters (lol NO you wouldn't. Let's be honest.)

Same goes for TV. Ever wonder why the TV industry SUCKS right now? Partly because so many people are downloading, driving rates lower, less ad money, less spaces for writers, less spaces for crew workers, less risk taking, less quality shows.

Seriously, you think pirated films on the web are part of a free INFORMATION BANK? You COULD just suck it up, pay money and watch the film in theaters, ffs. Or deal with the fact that if you don't have enough money you can't watch the film. [/font]

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well after reading the whole topic i have a bit to agree and disagree with...

first, I'm one of those types that will watch a series online and if i like it enough ill follow through on my responsibility to purchase it afterwords (or when it comes out in the states)

second, im one of those people that attempt to draw/write and even if i made it big i wouldnt really mind if anything of mine was pirated...just from my point of view I'd rather have a few people appreciating it for free than a million or so buying it and not really enjoying it, but that's just me...

also, the whole legal thing...its against the law most anywhere you go so really if you download the stuff, no matter what you're still committing piracy. So I guess its up to the people themselves whether its ethical or not. :animestun

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