Piracy and the Consumer Principle

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Hey everyone,

I've been thinking about morality, and I've come across an interesting idea that I thought I'd share. It's probably been brought up elsewhere before, but having no idea how to keyword it I haven't found any other articles that discuss it. If you know more about this, please post a link with your reply!

It goes like this:

Many of us have been raised with the idea that we are--or are supposed to be--citizens first and foremost. Among other things, this means having a developed sense of morality independent of the needs or desires of the day. One part of that morality is usually the rejection of acquiring something of another person (or organization) without their consent; i.e. theft or--in the case of software--piracy. Respecting private property is an important part to being seen as an upstanding citizen in the public eye. Let's treat this as a given for now.

But what if we're not operating under the sense of morality of a citizen, and instead act as consumer? What I'm calling the Consumer Principle is the idea that your function in society is working to amass wealth and subsequently spend that wealth on consumer goods and services while allowing others to do the same. I think that's the most general conception of a consumer there is.

Well then, let's now say that I'm a person acting not as a citizen, but as a consumer primarily. This brings us to piracy. Well, as a consumer, as long as I am spending all the wealth I have amassed, piracy--it seems to me--becomes acceptable. Piracy is copying data, no goods are being taken away for other to consume, so it's in that sense a victim-less crime. As a consumer, I am not able to spend móre money than I have, so as long as I am fulfilling my obligation to spend everything I earn; I am doing nothing morally wrong. Nobody is losing anything, I have been a good consumer, and I get an additional bonus.

Keep in mind that this would only work for goods that you can take without depriving others of them; so it doesn't include theft. Your first reply would probably be: 'well then you should spend your money on games fěrst and not consume what you can't afford'. But I'd have to ask; acting under the Consumer Principle, what moral basis do I have to compel me to do so?

I don't support this principle because I don't agree with the notion that we should be consumers in this manner, but it has made me think about the roles we fulfill in our respectives societies. What do you think?

"Have" is not a static state.

It you wanted those things, you would've worked harder for the money to buy them, or at least be motivated to work harder to obtain them some day in the future. If you just copy them without paying for them, then the incentive for working towards them is gone.

You're not just "consumer", you're "worker" as well. There is sometimes little discernible harm in pirating stuff, but it's ultimately a somewhat anti-social act... at least if it'd actually be possible to ever buy the product. This is why copyright protection should depend on there being a present/future market position for the product: A large part of the "fair use" exception. If the use have potentially interfered with revenue, then it's probably not a fair use.

Imperator_DK:
"Have" is not a static state.

It you wanted those things, you would've worked harder for the money to buy them, or at least be motivated to work harder to obtain them some day in the future. If you just copy them without paying for them, then the incentive for working towards them is gone.

You're not just "consumer", you're "worker" as well. There is sometimes little discernible harm in pirating stuff, but it's ultimately a somewhat anti-social act... at least if it'd actually be possible to ever buy the product. This is why copyright protection should depend on there being a present/future market position for the product: A large part of the "fair use" exception. If the use have potentially interfered with revenue, then it's probably not a fair use.

Whenever this topic comes up, I like to compare it to a boss deciding not to pay his workers after the work is already done. Maybe he is broke and cannot afford to pay them. Maybe he spent all his money on hookers and drugs. Maybe he intends to give the money to charity instead. He did not take anything away from the workers that they already had so he can argue that it is not theft. Most people would not consider this action to be a "victim-less crime".

Nielas:
...
Whenever this topic comes up, I like to compare it to a boss deciding not to pay his workers after the work is already done. Maybe he is broke and cannot afford to pay them. Maybe he spent all his money on hookers and drugs. Maybe he intends to give the money to charity instead. He did not take anything away from the workers that they already had so he can argue that it is not theft. Most people would not consider this action to be a "victim-less crime".

Well yes, at least so long as the workers had a reasonable expectation of being paid by that boss.

If North Korea produce a propaganda video, there's no intended commercial market for the video, and it isn't possible to buy it. If somebody copies it and distributes it across the internet without the government's permission, copyright protection thus shouldn't be afforded to it. Same with products which are permanently out-of-print ("abandonware"), or otherwise lack any sort of current/future market position. One can't interfere with a payment that didn't even potentially exist.

Imperator_DK:
If North Korea produce a propaganda video, there's no intended commercial market for the video, and it isn't possible to buy it. If somebody copies it and distributes it across the internet without the government's permission, copyright protection thus shouldn't be afforded to it. Same with products which are permanently out-of-print ("abandonware"), or otherwise lack any sort of current/future market position. One can't interfere with a payment that didn't even potentially exist.

Well, yes, if the owners don't care about their copyright and let others have them. Abandonware isn't just stuff which is old, it's old stuff the copyright owner doesn't care about anymore and lets people download, there's a difference.

thaluikhain:
...
Well, yes, if the owners don't care about their copyright and let others have them. Abandonware isn't just stuff which is old, it's old stuff the copyright owner doesn't care about anymore and lets people download, there's a difference.

Which isn't a satisfactory position. People can't know in advance whether or not a publisher cares about an ancient product, and if the publisher suddenly see the possibility of profitable lawsuits, he might suddenly begin to care about a product that'd otherwise been left to rot.

Hence I suggest the more objective criteria of "market position", i.e. if it could actually be sold to anyone at a price which make it worth distributing it. The idea of copyright law is to protect commercial profit; Not to generate it where no profit existed.

Imperator_DK:
Hence I suggest the more objective criteria of "market position", i.e. if it could actually be sold to anyone at a price which make it worth distributing it. The idea of copyright law is to protect commercial profit; Not to generate it where no profit existed.

Surely anything "might be" profitable again at some point in the future for some reason, though? I don't personally see any other way except the owners declaring that they don't care.

You can potentially be stealing bandwidth from the original creator (which probably won't cost them much, but will cost money nonetheless).

Anyway, piracy is a tricky one. It can't be equated to stealing as the original copy is still there, but if everyone makes the rational choice (not to be confused with moral) then the creator gets no money & can't produce further content. I think the best model is to not prosecute piracy but continue to discourage it through education & competitively priced products.

If customers feel entitled to pirate goods, I think companies should feel entitled to prevent it. Then the act of piracy causes legitimate consumers harm due to restrictive or invasive software tools to monitor piracy. No it isnt a victimless crime- its actively harming legitimate consumers of the product.

Like insurance fraud, the company doesn't actually pay- its people who pay increased premiums every year because of it.

That's at least how I would argue against piracy as a "victimless crime." Unless you think companies should just allow people to take IP for free, there will always be a disproportionate action against legitimate consumers because of the selfish actions of pirates.

The concept of digital piracy is implicitly Capitalist. Anything digital whether it be tv programmes, games, movies, music, etc could all be delivered to everyone in the world at almost no cost.

The reason it isn't is because everyone involved in the production needs to accumulate a profit. It doesn't matter that the benefit to society is massively increased if piracy takes place, it only matters that money isn't being made. A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

thaluikhain:

Imperator_DK:
Hence I suggest the more objective criteria of "market position", i.e. if it could actually be sold to anyone at a price which make it worth distributing it. The idea of copyright law is to protect commercial profit; Not to generate it where no profit existed.

Surely anything "might be" profitable again at some point in the future for some reason, though? I don't personally see any other way except the owners declaring that they don't care.

Then you can reinstate protection in the few situations where a market position arises once again. So long as there isn't a market position - and the information/artwork thus isn't available to anyone, as it can't be bought - it's both beyond the intended purpose of the law, and de facto a severe legal limitation on Freedom of Information.

Overhead:
A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

Guess we should give Mao Zedong a call to set it in motion, then. The results should be about the same.

Comocat:
If customers feel entitled to pirate goods, I think companies should feel entitled to prevent it. Then the act of piracy causes legitimate consumers harm due to restrictive or invasive software tools to monitor piracy. No it isnt a victimless crime- its actively harming legitimate consumers of the product.

Like insurance fraud, the company doesn't actually pay- its people who pay increased premiums every year because of it.

That's at least how I would argue against piracy as a "victimless crime." Unless you think companies should just allow people to take IP for free, there will always be a disproportionate action against legitimate consumers because of the selfish actions of pirates.

Having to pay more makes sense as something you can blame on piracy, but not "restrictive or invasive software tools to monitor piracy" aka DRM since I can count on one hand how many games DRM protects. So it comes down to either companies know this and are including the DRM for other less than honorable reasons or they're just plain stupid and keep implementing the same ineffective software expecting different results.

Imperator_DK:

Overhead:
A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

Guess we should give Mao Zedong a call to set it in motion, then. The results should be about the same.

I'm sorry, but you'll have to elaborate on what GLF has to do with piracy and motive for creating art and entertainment, because I don't buy this entire "I'm going to drop an appeal-to-emotion link and pretend I've defeated my opponent's point" shtick.

I mean this seems eerily similar to "Hitler Ate Sugar" right here.

Vegosiux:

Imperator_DK:

[quote="Overhead" post="528.406428.16916519"]A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

Guess we should give Mao Zedong a call to set it in motion, then. The results should be about the same.

I'm sorry, but you'll have to elaborate on what GLF has to do with piracy and motive for creating art and entertainment, because I don't buy this entire "I'm going to drop an appeal-to-emotion link and pretend I've defeated my opponent's point" shtick.

I mean this seems eerily similar to "Hitler Ate Sugar" right here.[/quote

It's easier to make an offhand remark where you strain to form some kind of guilt by association than actually address the point that social benefit is being restrained by capitalism to a massive degree.

The flaw with your argument is that as an individual we do not pay the full price for the creation of software. The sale price is broken up to make it affordable and recoup the costs and make a profit.

So really your argument boils down to you only have to spend what you earn and then are free to take anything else as you have already done your duty as a consumer. And the physical vs digital doesn't work either. If you renage on paying for a service you have not taking anything physical aside from someone's time, and the same can be said for a digital medium.

Overhead:
The concept of digital piracy is implicitly Capitalist. Anything digital whether it be tv programmes, games, movies, music, etc could all be delivered to everyone in the world at almost no cost.

The reason it isn't is because everyone involved in the production needs to accumulate a profit. It doesn't matter that the benefit to society is massively increased if piracy takes place, it only matters that money isn't being made. A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

It sounds doomed to failure. Having one socio-economic set up for some jobs and our old one for others is just going to screw over the ones with the new set-up. The things they may want, the things needed for survival, and other luxury goods will require money.

TheMatsjo:

Well then, let's now say that I'm a person acting not as a citizen, but as a consumer primarily. This brings us to piracy. Well, as a consumer, as long as I am spending all the wealth I have amassed, piracy--it seems to me--becomes acceptable. Piracy is copying data, no goods are being taken away for other to consume, so it's in that sense a victim-less crime. As a consumer, I am not able to spend móre money than I have, so as long as I am fulfilling my obligation to spend everything I earn; I am doing nothing morally wrong. Nobody is losing anything, I have been a good consumer, and I get an additional bonus.

Keep in mind that this would only work for goods that you can take without depriving others of them; so it doesn't include theft. Your first reply would probably be: 'well then you should spend your money on games fěrst and not consume what you can't afford'. But I'd have to ask; acting under the Consumer Principle, what moral basis do I have to compel me to do so?

I don't support this principle because I don't agree with the notion that we should be consumers in this manner, but it has made me think about the roles we fulfill in our respectives societies. What do you think?

As a consumer, it is in your best interest to encourage the continued production of products you like. The way you do this is by buying them. You could possibly argue that not only is it in your best interest, it is a moral obligation. Under this assumption, then, it becomes immoral to not buy something you have pirated and enjoyed. Conversely, if you pirated a game and decided it was shit, you'd be justified in feeling no guilt about it.

evilneko:

TheMatsjo:

Well then, let's now say that I'm a person acting not as a citizen, but as a consumer primarily. This brings us to piracy. Well, as a consumer, as long as I am spending all the wealth I have amassed, piracy--it seems to me--becomes acceptable. Piracy is copying data, no goods are being taken away for other to consume, so it's in that sense a victim-less crime. As a consumer, I am not able to spend móre money than I have, so as long as I am fulfilling my obligation to spend everything I earn; I am doing nothing morally wrong. Nobody is losing anything, I have been a good consumer, and I get an additional bonus.

Keep in mind that this would only work for goods that you can take without depriving others of them; so it doesn't include theft. Your first reply would probably be: 'well then you should spend your money on games fěrst and not consume what you can't afford'. But I'd have to ask; acting under the Consumer Principle, what moral basis do I have to compel me to do so?

I don't support this principle because I don't agree with the notion that we should be consumers in this manner, but it has made me think about the roles we fulfill in our respectives societies. What do you think?

As a consumer, it is in your best interest to encourage the continued production of products you like. The way you do this is by buying them. You could possibly argue that not only is it in your best interest, it is a moral obligation. Under this assumption, then, it becomes immoral to not buy something you have pirated and enjoyed. Conversely, if you pirated a game and decided it was shit, you'd be justified in feeling no guilt about it.

I don't think that reasoning really works well.

What we need for continued production is a lot of people buying it.
Whether I buy or not is unlikely to effect the habits of others.
Whether I buy or not on its own will have no real effect on the continued production of the product.
So in conclusion in my interests are best served by not buying.

If everyone applies it things break down, but you can reasonably know that you alone won't make a trend. So you can want to make people feel like they each individually matter to avoid a large trend of this logic, but ultimately they actually don't matter as individuals for things like this. Whether it be voting, joining the military, or not pirating.

I don't see the point in trying to argue that pirating is bad/illegal/amoral. I would rather admit that pirating is bad/immoral but only to the same extent that jaywalking is. It's a crime, but the severity of the crime is so low that it isn't even worth prosecuting.

I guarantee you that anyone who pirates video games has a library of legally purchased games. That fact proves they are willing to buy games that are worth buying.

Also, the level of immorality involved in piracy depends on your income. Having no job, and therefore no money, piracy wouldn't be too immoral on my part. Also, I would be unafraid of the RIAA or any other organization trying to prosecute me for my "crimes". If they want to charge me with some massive fine, they are free to try. I wont even contest it in court, I'll just tell them they are free to all the money I have.

Vegosiux:

Imperator_DK:

Overhead:
A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

Guess we should give Mao Zedong a call to set it in motion, then. The results should be about the same.

I'm sorry, but you'll have to elaborate on what GLF has to do with piracy and motive for creating art and entertainment, because I don't buy this entire "I'm going to drop an appeal-to-emotion link and pretend I've defeated my opponent's point" shtick.

I mean this seems eerily similar to "Hitler Ate Sugar" right here.

Communism as economic theory has never worked, and all attempts to implement it have been failures (and accompanied by no end of oppression). With the empirical evidence at hand, burden of proof is not really on me to disprove communism as a viable economic system. It's consistent inefficiency speaks for itself.

A failure which would carry over to the entertainment industry. It wouldn't be possible to raise capital for something like Bioshock: Infinite or The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Any major projects would be run by the state, and subject to the communist idea of art. In the communist worldview, art does not belong to the individual artist, any more than property belong to the individual human: Everything exist for the collective.

TheMatsjo:

Many of us have been raised with the idea that we are--or are supposed to be--citizens first and foremost. Among other things, this means having a developed sense of morality independent of the needs or desires of the day. One part of that morality is usually the rejection of acquiring something of another person (or organization) without their consent; i.e. theft or--in the case of software--piracy. Respecting private property is an important part to being seen as an upstanding citizen in the public eye. Let's treat this as a given for now.

No, let's not.

I do not refrain from stealing due to citizenship. As far as I'm concerned, I have no direct moral obligations to the state just because it's a state. I refrain from stealing because I think it's (usually) the wrong thing to do- whether the law agrees and so entitles me a "citizen" is neither here nor there.

Moreover, there are few crimes that result in you losing your citizenship. Theft is not among them. So legality appears mostly ignorable whilst retaining citizenship. We don't deport people for stealing.

But what if we're not operating under the sense of morality of a citizen, and instead act as consumer? What I'm calling the Consumer Principle is the idea that your function in society is working to amass wealth and subsequently spend that wealth on consumer goods and services while allowing others to do the same. I think that's the most general conception of a consumer there is.

OK, a kind of economic principal, like an observational law...

Well then, let's now say that I'm a person acting not as a citizen, but as a consumer primarily. This brings us to piracy. Well, as a consumer, as long as I am spending all the wealth I have amassed, piracy--it seems to me--becomes acceptable. Piracy is copying data, no goods are being taken away for other to consume, so it's in that sense a victim-less crime. As a consumer, I am not able to spend more money than I have, so as long as I am fulfilling my obligation to spend everything I earn; I am doing nothing morally wrong. Nobody is losing anything, I have been a good consumer, and I get an additional bonus.

Woah woah hang on, the pattern noted above: "Your function in society..." Is suddenly a moral imperative in and of itself? It's hardly justified! You just made a rather hasty functionalist definition of a consumer- why should anyone have to live up to that definition? Why should we do our best to fulfil our function economically before our, say, social function or political function? What about crack dealers? Are they being moral in their dealing of drugs because they're fulfilling an economic function? What about mercenaries, thugs, or assassins?

I have no duty to the state- what makes you think I have a duty to "The Economy"? "The Economy" isn't even a thing!

If the "Function" is merely structural rather than deontological, then it provides no reason to adopt it as an ethical principal. It's like saying the apple morally must fall to the ground rather than the more accurate, "In all prior cases it has fallen so it can reasonably be expected to fall again," sense. It's a model, not a moral.

You cannot have both a "duty" to the economy and the autonomous, rational free-will that defines economic agents in almost all models.

So your theory appears contradictory.

Dijkstra:

Overhead:
The concept of digital piracy is implicitly Capitalist. Anything digital whether it be tv programmes, games, movies, music, etc could all be delivered to everyone in the world at almost no cost.

The reason it isn't is because everyone involved in the production needs to accumulate a profit. It doesn't matter that the benefit to society is massively increased if piracy takes place, it only matters that money isn't being made. A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

It sounds doomed to failure. Having one socio-economic set up for some jobs and our old one for others is just going to screw over the ones with the new set-up. The things they may want, the things needed for survival, and other luxury goods will require money.

I didn't say anything about them not being paid for it, although ideally this would be occurring while socialism was implemented everywhere. It would after all be hard to imagine a situation where just the movie business was socialised and everything else carries on as normal.

Comocat:
If customers feel entitled to pirate goods, I think companies should feel entitled to prevent it. Then the act of piracy causes legitimate consumers harm due to restrictive or invasive software tools to monitor piracy. No it isnt a victimless crime- its actively harming legitimate consumers of the product.

Like insurance fraud, the company doesn't actually pay- its people who pay increased premiums every year because of it.

That's at least how I would argue against piracy as a "victimless crime." Unless you think companies should just allow people to take IP for free, there will always be a disproportionate action against legitimate consumers because of the selfish actions of pirates.

I understand the sentiment; but the comparison is inadequate. The difference is that the service is/has been already provided. Getting healthcare means somebody else has less time to get theirs; that's not a "victimless" crime.

I could argue the same way about a non-digital good, such as sneaking into a cinema and watching the movie for free that is already being screened; or listening in on whatever a tour guide is telling a group. This definitely depends on what others are doing as well, but the personal decision being made is not based upon the good of a larger community, it is about consumption. You are not prohibiting others from consumption, you are spending all your wealth for consumption and getting a bit more without damage to another (seeing as you wouldn't be able to buy anything else). If you're a smart consumer; you probably wouldn't tell others you're doing these things, because that might eventually come back around to harm you in future consumption.

Companies dó feel entitled to prevent this kind of 'free-loading', and understandably so, but as a consumer I would see no need to care about their agenda unless there's direct threat if I don't comply. Cynical yes, but not that much of a stretch I think.

Vegosiux:

Imperator_DK:

Overhead:
A different socio-economic set-up where amassing personal profit isn't the motive for creating art and entertainment would be a giant leap forward.

Guess we should give Mao Zedong a call to set it in motion, then. The results should be about the same.

I'm sorry, but you'll have to elaborate on what GLF has to do with piracy and motive for creating art and entertainment, because I don't buy this entire "I'm going to drop an appeal-to-emotion link and pretend I've defeated my opponent's point" shtick.

I mean this seems eerily similar to "Hitler Ate Sugar" right here.

While Imperator_DK should have elaborated on his comparison, it does have a lot of validity. The Great Leap Forward was about collectivizing the food production in China and leveraging it for the greater good of making China an industrial and intellectual powerhouse. The old system where farmers produced food for profit was deemed inefficient and instead the state had the farmers produce the food for free to support the urban population and international trade. The state was then supposed to support the farmers and improve their standard of living. However, the new system quickly proved itself to be inefficient, wasteful and corrupt. Farmers were told to use inefficient but 'ideologically correct' farming methods which caused crop yields to plummet. When the farmers tried to leave and look for a different form of employment, they were forbidden from traveling and became little more than slave labour. When food shortages caused famine, it was the farmers who were starving because too much of the food was allocated to other areas.

If you want to collectivize the production of IP then you are going to face the same issues. The production of IP is not free and you will have to incentivize the creators properly or they are going to turn to other endevours.

Esotera:

Anyway, piracy is a tricky one. It can't be equated to stealing as the original copy is still there, but if everyone makes the rational choice (not to be confused with moral) then the creator gets no money & can't produce further content. I think the best model is to not prosecute piracy but continue to discourage it through education & competitively priced products.

The best comparison I've heard for digital piracy is tabletop miniatures. Take the Warhammer Fantasy/40K models produced by Games Workshop; all models are simply copies made from a mould, if I give you a copy of it you could then make your own models for next to nothing. GW haven't had their mould stolen, they can still make and sell models same as before, however GW models are expensive so if people can make their own for a fraction of the cost GW will lose out.

Without model sales (which is basically their only income source) then shops (and the gaming communities built around them) disappear and eventually they stop being able to hire sculptors to make new models. Same with digital products - the original master copy might still be there but the products price is not built on it's scarcity but on what is needed by the company to stay afloat.

Karma168:

Without model sales (which is basically their only income source) then shops (and the gaming communities built around them) disappear and eventually they stop being able to hire sculptors to make new models. Same with digital products - the original master copy might still be there but the products price is not built on it's scarcity but on what is needed by the company to stay afloat.

True, digital goods are post-scarcity. But it gets complicated with the "what's needed to stay afloat", because, contrary to popular belief, a source of income is not the only thing needed to stay afloat. Not making retarded business decisions is another.

And however we turn it, the decision whether to purchase a product and the decision whether to pirate a product are two separate decisions. Not completely unrelated of course, but separate, and convincing people to buy guarantees you they will buy, while convincing them to not pirate only guarantees you they will not pirate.

More carrot, less stick. Nobody can enjoy the carrot if they can't even sit down for lunch and all, so chances are, with too much stick, people will go "screw the carrot".

Nielas:

If you want to collectivize the production of IP then you are going to face the same issues. The production of IP is not free and you will have to incentivize the creators properly or they are going to turn to other endevours.

Oh I'm aware of that. I just got cranky because basically "Godwin Lite" got invoked and that was it, no elaboration, no actual point.

Vegosiux:

Nielas:

If you want to collectivize the production of IP then you are going to face the same issues. The production of IP is not free and you will have to incentivize the creators properly or they are going to turn to other endevours.

Oh I'm aware of that. I just got cranky because basically "Godwin Lite" got invoked and that was it, no elaboration, no actual point.

-Chuckles- We're calling it Godwin Light now? Which argument are you referring to exactly?

Danny Ocean:
I do not refrain from stealing due to citizenship. As far as I'm concerned, I have no direct moral obligations to the state just because it's a state. I refrain from stealing because I think it's (usually) the wrong thing to do- whether the law agrees and so entitles me a "citizen" is neither here nor there.

Moreover, there are few crimes that result in you losing your citizenship. Theft is not among them. So legality appears mostly ignorable whilst retaining citizenship. We don't deport people for stealing.

I'm referring to the concept of being a citizen in a broad social and cultural sense, not the legal one. As in 'you're quite the upstanding citizen' which refers not so much to your legal status as your position within that society.

Woah woah hang on, the pattern noted above: "Your function in society..." Is suddenly a moral imperative in and of itself? It's hardly justified! You just made a rather hasty functionalist definition of a consumer- why should anyone have to live up to that definition? Why should we do our best to fulfil our function economically before our, say, social function or political function? What about crack dealers? Are they being moral in their dealing of drugs because they're fulfilling an economic function? What about mercenaries, thugs, or assassins?

Nobody should 'have to' live up to it; it's a cultural matter that develops out of the physical circumstances of society. Spending money is regularly treated as a good thing, seeing as it is supposedly 'good for the economy', or, because it increases your social standing etc. There's a social pressure to act as a consumer because of this. Whether or not you conform with that is a whole other matter; for the purposes of a thought experiment I find it useful to set up the scenario briefly and assume I'm following these moral imperatives to showcase the point.

I think you make a good point about drug dealers; speaking as a consumer I'd probably say that yes, they're fulfilling their roles as consumers, only doing it in a non-legal context. As a citizen this would be problematic, as I'm acting against the law; but if dealing in illegal drugs provides me with currency that I can then spend on consumption, hooray for me! It's about different moral imperatives; the more traditional notion of morality prohibits this kind of behavior, it interferes with my abilities to earn and spend; so they are at least in part conflicting ideologies.

I have no duty to the state- what makes you think I have a duty to "The Economy"? "The Economy" isn't even a thing!

I don't think you do? What I'm illustrating is that many of the things we do and desire are culturally and thus socially bound; we're not 'forced' to obey the laws, we do it because we think we should, for whatever reason. We're not bound by duty, we're usually compelled by carrots or sticks.

Realitycrash:
-Chuckles- We're calling it Godwin Light now? Which argument are you referring to exactly?

Godwin's Law states that if a discussion continues on long enough somebody is going to bring up the nazis, or make some comparison to nazi Germany or Hitler. Godwin Light would be doing the same thing, but instead bringing up 'communist' China or Mao Zedong, seeing as he's usually less viscerally reviled.

Oh no, it is an opportunity to get myself in trouble with the mods by espousing my moral beliefs on a subject.

Imperator_DK:
It you wanted those things, you would've worked harder for the money to buy them, or at least be motivated to work harder to obtain them some day in the future. If you just copy them without paying for them, then the incentive for working towards them is gone.

I don't agree. I don't think that piracy significantly reduces the motivation to buy.

Studies show that pirates tend to spend more money on media overall. Anti-piracy is kind of a religion that ignores the facts of purchasing habits and incentive.

The truth is that incentive to purchase seem to correlate upwards with piracy, not down. Most of the time, when something is not pirated, nobody wants it. Most of the time, when something is pirated, it is popular and purchased. Statistically, people who pirate more, tend to buy more. And people who pirate less, tend to buy less. If anything, non-pirates are the weaker part of the media market who spend less money and give less money to art. And a lot of pieces of art, owe their success to piracy.


Now, I do not pirate game of thrones. Why? Well, because I don't watch Game of Thrones and I am not interested in it, among many other reason(like the fact I don't pirate). From what I can tell it is like a gangster show in medieval settings and I don't like the morally negative and depressing backstabbing commonality.

But pirates do not buy less. They buy more. In fact pirates are more likely to be the type of people to buy three copies of the same thing. Having something does not mean that one does not spend money on it. And just the same people will spend money on something with no guarantee of return. The people who spend $2,000 on Kickstarter campaigns, despite the fact they do not get $2,000 worth of return. Why? They want to support. And a lot of them are pirates. In fact I would be more willing to bet those throwing down thousands of dollars in support for Kickstarter campaigns are more likely to be pirates than not.

People who fund ridiculous amounts to Kickstater campaigns? People who buy five copies of the same game? Pirates, pirates, and more pirates. Not all of them pirates, but many. Sale is not black and white like that. A pirated "copy" is not a lost sale. In fact many people pirate games, movies, and music, they have already bought several times over. Piracy is a piece of the market that isn't anywhere close to a lost sale. It is part of a spectrum of consumption habits. A piece of the consumption habits of the average media consumer that spends more money on media than the average person. To put it mildly, pirates are objectively the best customers.

I'm sorry but it is true. I fear getting warned for this. But every time the subject of piracy comes up, I feel the need to speak the truth. Even if it is an unpopular truth on the Escapist.

TheMatsjo:

Realitycrash:
-Chuckles- We're calling it Godwin Light now? Which argument are you referring to exactly?

Godwin's Law states that if a discussion continues on long enough somebody is going to bring up the nazis, or make some comparison to nazi Germany or Hitler. Godwin Light would be doing the same thing, but instead bringing up 'communist' China or Mao Zedong, seeing as he's usually less viscerally reviled.

Pretty much what I meant, yeah.

As for on topic, I personally also think that the economic system will have to change for this entire post-scarcity shtick. I do not see capitalism in its current form as something that could work. That does not mean it has to be "socialism" or anything. I'll use a placeholder expression here, "information age economy".

Information age economy will need to adapt to the fact that scarcity simply will not work as a price/value setter, as more things become freely available at near-zero price. Basically, information age economy will likely have to focus on selling us tap water (which we all can get for near free) as bottled water (which can pretty much be tap water with a 2000% price markup). Of course some people will still opt to drink tap water instead. Maybe I should call it "advertising based economy" now that I think of it...

EstrogenicMuscle:
...
Studies show that pirates tend to spend more money on media overall. Anti-piracy is kind of a religion that ignores the facts of purchasing habits and incentive.

The truth is that incentive to purchase seem to correlate upwards with piracy, not down. Most of the time, when something is not pirated, nobody wants it. Most of the time, when something is pirated, it is popular and purchased. Statistically, people who pirate more, tend to buy more. And people who pirate less, tend to buy less. If anything, non-pirates are the weaker part of the media market who spend less money and give less money to art. And a lot of pieces of art, owe their success to piracy.


Now, I do not pirate game of thrones. Why? Well, because I don't watch Game of Thrones and I am not interested in it, among many others. From what I can tell it is like a gangster show in medieval settings and I don't like the morally negative and depressing backstabbing commonality.

But pirates do not buy less. They buy more. In fact pirates are more likely to be the type of people to buy three copies of the same thing. Having something does not mean that one does not spend money on it. And just the same people will spend money on something with no guarantee of return. The people who spend $2,000 on Kickstarter campaigns, despite the fact they do not get $2,000 worth of return. Why? They want to support. And a lot of them are pirates. In fact I would be more willing to bet those throwing down thousands of dollars in support for Kickstarter campaigns are more likely to be pirates than not.

People who fund ridiculous amounts to Kickstater campaigns? People who buy five copies of the same game? Pirates, pirates, and more pirates. Not all of them pirates, but many. Sale is not black and white like that. A pirated "copy" is not a lost sale. In fact many people pirate games, movies, and music, they have already bought several times over. Piracy is a piece of the market that isn't anywhere close to a lost sale. It is part of a spectrum of consumption habits. A piece of the consumption habits of the average media consumer that spends more money on media than the average person. To put it mildly, pirates are objectively the best customers.

I'm sorry but it is true. I fear getting warned for this. But every time the subject of piracy comes up, I feel the need to speak the truth. Even if it is an unpopular truth on the Escapist.

This accounts for the behavior of some pirates, and beneficial marketing side effects for some products.

Others will never buy what they pirate. And even if they do, the money spent won't necessarily go to the people they originally pirated from. If somebody pirates a show from a TV network release, then later buying the DVD release ain't going to compensate that TV network.

Not all products benefit from being seen by everyone through piracy either. Some products with low exposure might thrive on cultural buzz. Other stuff such as porn movies don't, as people aren't going to subsequently collect the DVD's of it to proudly display them on the TV shelf.

So there's absolutely no guarantee that the individual copyright holder will ultimately be fully compensated though such hypothetical positive effects. It's certainly not impossible that some products/businesses will, but other products/businesses will undoubtedly suffer. And hence need their rights protected.

...assuming there's actually a right to protect. Game of Thrones isn't being sold in North Korea, nor will it be. And as there's guaranteed to be no lost sales without a market position, there's no purpose in extending a copyright treaty to cover piracy by North Koreans in such situation. It'd be less moral for me to go pirate it though, as I could buy access to the HBO streaming site, which is being marketed to/available in my home market.

Vegosiux:

As for on topic, I personally also think that the economic system will have to change for this entire post-scarcity shtick. I do not see capitalism in its current form as something that could work. That does not mean it has to be "socialism" or anything. I'll use a placeholder expression here, "information age economy".

Information age economy will need to adapt to the fact that scarcity simply will not work as a price/value setter, as more things become freely available at near-zero price. Basically, information age economy will likely have to focus on selling us tap water (which we all can get for near free) as bottled water (which can pretty much be tap water with a 2000% price markup). Of course some people will still opt to drink tap water instead. Maybe I should call it "advertising based economy" now that I think of it...

The problem with this analogy is that while you might convince people that your "bottled water" is better, the customer will still get it from a tap (even if it is labeled as a "Bottled water tap") and thus will not have any incentive to pay you. The issue is the easy of obtaining the product rather than the perceived quality of the product. Similar analogy: you might succeed in convincing me that Inception is a better movie than Twilight but if I can obtain a copy of Inception as easily as a copy of Twilight, there is no additional incentive for me to pay the creators of Inception any money.

Ultimately I really do not see how you can convince people to pay for mass-market products that are legally available for free. At best you can convince them to donate money to "worthy" artists but honor systems can be extremely unreliable sources of income.

Nielas:

Ultimately I really do not see how you can convince people to pay for mass-market products that are legally available for free. At best you can convince them to donate money to "worthy" artists but honor systems can be extremely unreliable sources of income.

That's something that we, as a society, will need to figure out. Because scarcity will not apply, so the balance of supply and demand cannot be what sets the price since the supply will be virtually unlimited. Such changes do not come overnight, and many attempts fail - and some have, attempts called SOPA and ACTA for example.

Yes, the internet will have to be regulated. Yes, there will still be unregulated pockets. But there's a reason the Wild West didn't stay wild. Sure, you still have cowboys and outlaws today, but the society wanted order, and when a social consensus was reached, such order was implemented.

Piracy is becoming an increasingly social issue, not just an economic one. A new social consensus in the infromation age is a must, but one'd be a fool to expect we can reach it overnight. And if anyone had a perfect solution, it would have been heard by now and recognized as at least "optimal" by a large enough part of the society to be implemented. That has not yet happened. We're still fumbling around, trying to conjure up something that will work. And it's hard to expect we'll come up with a "good" solution, but we have to at least come up with a "good enough" solution.

But as I said, this is something that will require a paradigm shift in the society, not only legislation and regulation.

Piracy, as it stands, with the anti-piracy crap running around, is sustainable. I for one find most of the individuals doing it rather despicable, but the industry can live with them as things are.

If on the other hand, were we to remove the bias against piracy, legitimate sales WILL plummet. Most people who get something for free are not inclined to pay for it, especially if no one is telling them they need to. This hurts the businesses making these products, which in turn hurts everyone involved. Most likely, they will be forced to turn to alternative methods of making money, such as placing advertisements within the game itself. Imagine just for a moment hacking down your virtual enemies with the Viagra brand greatsword of stiffness while running around with a giant BP gas logo on your back.

As a result, you can take your pseudo morality and shove it. I wish to continue to have access to quality media for the foreseeable future thank you very much.

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