Sonny, jumping off topic to encourage you to take a look at "The Offer," the series about the making of "The Godfather." As far as my wife & I are concerned, critics of the series are waay off base. The series itself is gorgeous, great music, good cast, and beyond that the joy of seeing the work behind the scenes brought to life was pretty intense. I can't recommend the series enough. Give it a chance on Paramount +

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What Jochanan said.

I don't pirate. I can afford not to.

But I understand the temptation when rights holders develop byzantine methods you have to navigate in order to consume their content.

One area in particular is the Twitch streamer, or the like, who would be happy to buy a license to play music on their stream. I looked into this once and it is impossible. The rights holders, which is usually not the creative artist, has made it impossible for someone who wants to do the right thing to do it.

I look at piracy as the market signaling that the current system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Can we also stop comparing the theft of digital goods to physical goods? When a physical good is stolen there is less for the seller to sell. This isn't true for digital goods.

One other pet peeve is video game anti-cheat software whose only function seems to be to make the video game experience worse for people who purchased the game legally.

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"Can we also stop comparing the theft of digital goods to physical goods? When a physical good is stolen there is less for the seller to sell. This isn't true for digital goods."

Actually it is true, to an even greater degree than physical goods. Once you have the digital good, potentially EVERYBODY has the digital good... so there is NOTHING left to sell. NOTHING.

As an artist, I am firmly against piracy. I do not do it, period. If it is too hard to get properly or too expensive to get properly or too inconvenient to get properly, I simply do not get it. Other than for work which actually required it (commercial graphic design), I did not move to digital media because of that very issue. I learned how to work digitally (because I taught it and it has a lot of possibilities) but I do not do any paid work in digital format.

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That's an interesting take, my understanding is that it is indeed very difficult to sell a visual project (i.e. a drawing or painting) digitally thus the short lived NFT boom. Would you consider the copy and pasting of an image online piracy though? If someone isn't profiting from your work it is there any actual loss? Producing commissions seems like the only way to profit from art online just by the nature of the medium.

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If I own the work, including the rights, if you copy and paste it anywhere without my permission, then you are committing a form of piracy (if it does not fall under consideration of fair use). If I have sold you the work AND the rights (or particular rights), then no.

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.


Art copyright can be complex as you may or may not possess particular rights to the work. This is also true of physical art. I can actually sell you a piece of art but retain the rights, myself... which means that the only thing that you can actually do with the work is privately display it (and not charge for it to be viewed).

Just because someone else is not profiting from my work, doesn't mean that I did not lose anything. At the least, I lost the opportunity to profit from that use myself.

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This strikes me as the place where reality and the law collide. The law has fairly robust protections for the work of artists but the reality of the internet functionally makes the law unenforceable. Per the podcast there may come a time when the technology of enforcement catches up to distribution but alas not yet. Maybe some sort of open source copy right checker that can be used by anyone for free to report violations? That of course would necessitate some sort of government bureaucracy to monitor and enforce copy right strikes but that may be the price we pay.

"Just because someone else is not profiting from my work, doesn't mean that I did not lose anything. At the least, I lost the opportunity to profit from that use myself."

My quibble with the idea that you lost the opportunity to profit from that use, that sounds like a complete unknowable especially in cases where the person using your work doesn't profit. There was no profit to be made, no more than if I take a picture of the Mona Lisa and take it home. Whether I am allowed to take a picture of the Mona Lisa or not, there is still no chance of me purchasing the original picture. I could theoretically buy a copy but in that case there would be an actual cost associated with producing the copy in the first place that I am paying for. The cost of reproduction on the internet is essentially zero so I'm not sure it would make sense to charge people for that unless they want to use it in a commercial settings (i.e. for profit). Now it makes sense to go after websites that make money off of redistribution since there is some obvious profit (from advertisements usually), although usually these sites are not the ones procuring and uploading the pirated product. The people who do upload the pirated product usually make no money, it's simply a way to share a product that they may have acquired legally.

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A lot of copyright is hard to enforce. It always has been, even before the digital age.

What I am talking about here, for the most part, are matters of theory or principle rather than actuality. Because the actuality is a gob-smacking mess for enforcement for anybody beyond major corps like Disney (for example) it is just too expensive and time consuming.

The major danger in letting people use things (even without profit) is that there is a level of usage that passes a legal threshold that then makes your work public domain... because you did not attempt to enforce your rights.

Ask Xerox or Kleenex about that.

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Very true, thank you for the wonderful discussion!

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Thank you, we really do need stop thinking of digital piracy as the same as physical theft. It made some sense when it was bootleg DVDs vs legitimate DVDs but not in the era of digital copies. The reality is that even 5% is probably a high percentage for the number of people who would have spent money on a film if they couldn’t pirate it (especially in the United States).

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Jun 9, 2022·edited Jun 9, 2022

I never pirate because I am unwilling to buy. I often will own something and then it won't play on this device, or from this location, or there are commercials even with the commercial free plan (wtf hulu??) or there are previews, or the audio won't play right, or the login server is down to check my password.

Call me a boomer or whatever, but I just want the file so I can play it how I need to and want to.

If tv & movies had been done like iTunes was for music everyone would be happy, but you guys blew it and it's even worse than 300 cable channels now. It's 300 apps I have to log in separately practically every time I want to watch something. And even if someone does it right (Apple isn't bad) it's still 299 shit apps you have to deal with.

Live game? Sorry! Log in and then force a minute of commercials, even if I lost a connection and am not logging in on a new device.

If you want people to pay for things, make it easy.

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