In the past I have been known to tell people who “share” music online that they are thieves. Not as if they are doing anything worth throwing them in jail for – don’t get me wrong there. But the fact that people who share files that happen to be copyrighted music to me smells like stealing. In other words, the product is being taken and used, and no royalty paid.

But now I am doing it, kind of. I just watched the UFC 82 pay per view fights from last Saturday night for nothing. And then I watched UFC 81, and then part of UFC 80. The fights are hosted on a site that you go to, and simply push “play” and the complete show is aired for you, free of charge. I did not download the fights for later use, only watched them. For those who don’t know, UFC is the Ultimate Fighting Championships, one of the top levels of mixed martial arts fighting.

So am I now a hypocrite? Or am I simply taking advantage of the internet and the good graces of a generous soul who has decided for whatever reason to take the bandwidth hit so freeloaders such as myself and others can watch fights for free that we are supposed to pay for?

Cross posted at LITGM.

22 thoughts on “Hypocrite?”

  1. If the site you watched the videos on pirated them, then I agree with Mrs. Davis. However, there are degrees of hypocrisy and criminality, and I don’t think you rank very high. Plus, having seen the pirate tapes you might now be more willing to buy the legit versions, right?

    So you broke the rules but the damage was either small, nonexistent, or your behavior will ultimately benefit the rights owners.

  2. The site I watched them on is certainly doing it illegally – they do have google ads and are probably profiting illegally from hosting these videos.

    Having seen the fights, I have no reason to purchase them or see them again. OTOH, if I didn’t see this product on the free site, I would simply just not see them. The fights are worth free to me, but not worth money. Eventually, these fights make their way onto free TV, it just takes a few months.

    So in one sense the UFC may be making a coin down the road as if I remain interested in it I may purchase a ticket to a live event one day, or something from their legit website (the former is a possibility, the latter is doubtful).

    Yes, my level of criminality is low here, just as it is low for music sharers.

  3. Jonathan,

    Can’t I use your argument when I download music? I am just doing it to familiarize myself with the band’s music, and then I will pop for the $17.99 for the CD.

    Stealing is stealing.

  4. I’m not arguing for it, merely that the damage was small or nonexistent and should be viewed in perspective. I know people who sample the grapes at the grocery store before buying. If stealing is stealing, should I call the cops on them?

  5. I think that in general you patronize these guys and they need to price their product relative to demand. In the old days there were few options other than very expensive pay per view but now there is a lot of different ways to get this show. They should reduce the price because if a business owner like you is tired of paying it they are going to lose a million smaller players

  6. Of course it’s stealing, unless the company that owns the rights to these videos is making them available for free. Granted, it’s a very low level type of sin, but technically it is wrong.

  7. The human brain is an incomparable tool for circumnavigating the shoals of morality without spilling cargo.

    I generally defer that I am backing up said music/movies/software for an unidentified partner who will then be able to retreive the goods from my hard drive, should the need arise. I’m merely doing the world a favor and it isn’t my responsibility to make sure the recipient of my helping hand deserves it.

    I will surely burn in hell for it, but for today, I will enjoy free goods.

  8. Carl, the business owner might be able to make a bigger profit if he lowers his prices, but that doesn’t give you the right to download it illegally. Andrewdb, do you mail the appropriate fine to the government whenever you exceed the speed limit or are you a hardened criminal? Overall I have to go with CD.

  9. Andrew – I am not a software stealer. I think more appropriately I would be called a content stealer. As I said in the main post there is a site (actually quite a few) that are showing these pay per views in their entirety for free. You just go to the site, and push play.

    Also, as I said, eventually the UFC shows these fights for free on Spike TV, which I have on cable. I am just jumping the gun by a few months to see them for free before the official versions come out on cable. That is how I justify myself anyway. And the fact still remains that UFC wasn’t going to get a cent from me anyway for the pay per view – I simply don’t do anything pay per view, much less something I will get for free in a few months.

  10. But the fact that people who share files that happen to be copyrighted music to me smells like stealing. In other words, the product is being taken and used, and no royalty paid.

    Well, it’s being used, certainly; but how is it being taken? When I download data — any data — from a server on the Internet, what I now have is a copy of the file; I haven’t and can’t remove the original from the server. I do not, by copying data, prevent anyone else from reading that data, even for a moment. And the wrong of theft lies in preventing the lawful use of the thing stolen, not in the use the thief makes of it. Violating copyright is illegal, but it’s not the same crime as theft.

  11. Sure it’s theft. It’s a theft of services. It may be a very small theft of a copy of something that you wouldn’t ever pay for, and it may be that the rights owner should change his business model rather than try to get you punished. However, it is still a misappropriation of services, a taking, because you are using something in violation of the terms set by the owner, who has the right to set those terms.

  12. I do not comprehend the difference between checking a CD out at the public library and down loading a particular tune from the internet. In both cases you don’t pay for it; in both cases you can listen to it until you’re sick of it. So why is listening to a library CD legal and an internet CD illegal?

    I believe that copyright law and patent law are the two legs upon which modern civilization stands and absent these laws none of the technology we currently enjoy would ever have been invented and our lives would all have been shortened by pestulence and famine.

    I do not subscribe to the notion that sharing copyrighted material via the internet is any more harmful than sharing that same material via well-stocked public libraries. And therefore I assert that sharing this material actually benefits both society and the artist (whose work it is) regardless of the channel of distribution selected.

  13. Watching a stolen steam is like taking a joy ride in the car your friend jacked. Yea, you didn’t steal the car but your getting benefit (the ride) of the theft.

  14. Sol makes some interesting points. The fact that I, an otherwise law-abiding person who fully supports intellectual property rights, nonetheless download music is largely due to the business model in place in the music industry, which seems primarily designed to frustrate attempts to make an informed decision on a purchase, if one happens to like music you can’t find in the charts or helping to flog soft drinks.

    I’m not going to find new music I like on the radio or on any of the MTV channels; I’m not likely to find bands I’m interested in checking out available in my local library either. You wouldn’t buy anything the appreciation of which is subjective without trying it out first, be it clothes, cars, musical instruments or anything else. I don’t consider a listening booth in a record store an satisfactory means of so doing, either.

    The internet is thus an invaluable tool in the promotion of a genuinely informed consumerism, the very spirit of caveat emptor, which a cynic might easily conclude the music industry does its best to frustrate. There is no doubt in my mind that the ability to download and investigate music that in all likelihood I would never otherwise hear has led me to make any number of purchases which I wouldn’t have otherwise made, so I emphatically support Sol’s last statement.

  15. Jonathan,

    I am not suggesting a punishment, merely pointing out that what Dan is doing is dishonest. Your example is interesting, because the difference then between a clear crime and one that is hazy is simply the number of grapes.

  16. I think that in the real world the grocer knows that some customers will sample grapes, drop grapes on the floor, etc., and takes account of such shrinkage when he sets his prices (or ignores it if the net loss is tiny). It’s not the number of grapes, it’s the proportion. If you’re eating two grapes and then buying a pound of grapes nobody will care. But if you take a pound of grapes for each pound that you pay for, the grocer will probably want you to stop. OTOH, if you were buying 100 pounds of grapes and took a bunch to sample, the grocer would probably not care. With the video, the content owner would probably prefer that a lot of people didn’t download his product without paying, but he may or may not care if Dan does this, and if there’s any harm it’s analogous to the taking of a few grapes. Maybe Dan shouldn’t do it, or maybe the content owner should make it easier for Dan to buy his products at competitive prices, or both.

  17. Shouldn’t it be just illegal to listen, or watch?
    Further, if you copy a copy of a copy times a thousand, well, how about the whole chain of copy’s of digital on/offs? I mean if the private party doesn’t enforce his own property rights, like, I should? Can I leave my Rolex on the street? If I let people cross my yard for twenty years, don’t they make public way? How did that Xeroxing of printed sheet music enforcement do?

    It’s over. Done. The South lost and Dixie isn’t coming back and there is no way to put out digital data and not have them copyied when the cost are zero.

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