Author Topic: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?  (Read 8282 times)

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Offline Oriet

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2012, 10:45:18 pm »
It really is more like going to a museum and taking a high quality of a painting and distributing copies of that than stealing the painting, scanning it onto a computer, and distributing it. There is also no real monetary difference between distributing one copy or a million copies of something digitally, unlike with actual physical medium.

No, because you paid for your admission to the museum and since the painting is not up for sale, you have not deprived the museum of significant revenue (aside from a 30 cent postcard from the gift shop, maybe). That's why no museum I've ever been to prohibits (non-flash) photography. It's more like going to a bookstore and scanning a new release hardcover with a hand scanner, then slapping that bitch into a PDF and emailing to all your friends. You obviously want the book, but you don't want to pay for it.
Okay, I do see your point there, and I also mostly agree with it. Problem is when things are broadcast, such as on the radio, television, and now streamed content online, where when there is an actual cost to the consumer it comes from obtaining the broadcast service instead of each individual item (with some exceptions). I fully grant and approve of it being illegal to redistribute recordings/copies of such broadcasts, however a large amount of anti-piracy arguments I have seen are also railing against the legal personal use of such recordings (and with the case of digitally distributed media you have no degradation in quality with recording it).

This by itself might be considered a stand alone problem, except it brings in conundrums that show it is very much entwined with other piracy problems and arguments. Say, for example, that Megatron (just choosing a name I don't think anyone involved has for the sake of argumentation) records his favourite show when it's aired, and then edits it to remove the commercials. So far perfectly legal (even if many anti-piracy folks would disagree). Later the show comes out on DVD, which of course lacks the commercials in the middle of episodes. Is he now require to purchase the DVDs in order to legally watch it? If not then how is it any different than someone ripping the show from the DVDs (aside from possible special features)? There is no real difference between the recordings at such point, as they have the same frame rate, resolution, sound quality, and no differences in the content. I am really curious on this point because I've never been given an argument or answer that actually addresses it.

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The book (or game/song/movie) is an item for sale, an item that took considerable time, effort, and resources to produce. An item the producer has every right to expect compensation for. If you take a copy of it without paying for it, you are stealing. You are depriving the producer of income. At no point in the legal process does "theft" necessitate the removal of a physical object. Data counts, too. The argument that "I would never have bought copy anyway so I am not depriving them of a sale" is nothing but a cowardly, shameless excuse. If I discovered that a book I had written was being copied and shared without my permission and with no compensation, I would at first be flattered, then livid. I would love to be able to support myself solely as a writer. If you think it's good enough to read....then it's good enough to pay for. If I want to give it away for free, that's my decision, not the consumer's.
I fully agree that the authors, producers, and other people involved in making such works deserve compensation for what they make. I also agree that it is a violation of copyright to distribute copies (whether for monetary gain or not) of something without permission of the copyright holder. As for it being theft, well, that's where I run into a little disagreement, especially with your assertion of what it means.

Looking at Wikipedia for it I get:
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent.[1][2] The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud.[1][2] In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny;[2] in others, theft has replaced larceny.
Looking up larceny, specifically as it applies to law, gives this:
Under the common law, larceny is the trespassory taking (caption) and carrying away (asportation, removal) of the tangible personal property of another with the intent to deprive him or her of its possession permanently.
Being that I know Wikipedia can have problems with some things I decided to check Dictionary.com for the definition of theft, and find this:
the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.
Even looking up on Wordnet from princeton.edu gives this:
the act of taking something from someone unlawfully
Everything I can find either directly states or heavily implies that there must be deprivation of something tangible in order to actually classify as theft. Now, if you can find something that contradicts/expands on this to include instances where the original owner is not deprived of said object I would greatly appreciate being corrected.

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I have very little sympathy for the piracy-excusers. "I would buy it if I could afford to." Well, tough shit. There's no Constitutional right to have everything you want. "I'm not hurting anyone." Yes, you are. You are hurting the producers of what you just pirated. And the fans, because you are actively discouraging them from making any more. "I'm not depriving them of a sale." Yes, you are. Obviously you want the item, otherwise you wouldn't pirate it.
I agree with your argument, though I feel as though it's directed at me. I've not been trying to defend piracy, merely to point out the complexities of digital media and how pre-electronic laws are simply unable to handle and account for said complexities, and try to understand the situation better. This, of course, requires looking from and attacking multiple sides of the issue to really see where contention lies, definitions are vague or inadequate, and complexities being ignored by some or all sides. The different sides being those pirating the content, either as consumer and/or producer, the actual creators of the media, the legal distributors of the media, and the legal consumers of the media.

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Now I have no problems whatsoever with copying something for your own, personal use. I buy a new CD I will absolutely burn two extra copies so I can have one in the downstairs in the den and one in both cars. (Although now that I think of it, all the music in the den is on the computer anyway, and the cars both have MP3 jacks....so I guess I don't burn copies anymore, but I absolutely rip that disc onto my computer......however, I don't give copies of it to others.)

I think that those who excuse or justify piracy are doing it for the simplest of reasons: they want something but they don't want to pay for it. I can understand that. But that's not how the world works.
Many anti-piracy folk would deride you for doing it that way though, as you can listen to it in one car while a family member listens to it in the other car while another family member listens to it at home when they have guests over. While it is generally easy to get them to agree that it is okay with music they won't agree for films, even though essentially everything is the same (though likely not in vehicles, as that would just be dangerous and illegal if it's for the driver). Some would even use your argument here against you; obviously you want multiple copies of the music but you don't want to pay for all of them. This is a reason piracy laws need actual, in-depth, thorough argumentation before anything is enacted, so that the actuality of the situation and possible ramifications of legislation can be taken into account, though I know our politicians do not want to even pretend to put that much effort in anything.
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Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2012, 11:08:48 pm »
Actually, I think the problem with film piracy is that, generally, it's less a case of "I think it's immoral" but more of a case of "They track those things like fucking hawks, so good luck doing it without getting caught".
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Offline sandman

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2012, 11:24:58 pm »
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Is he now require to purchase the DVDs in order to legally watch it?

Not to view his own, prior recordings, no. Of course not. They were legally obtained. (Although the television industries are still attempting to find some way to prevent recording of live tv shows to a permanent medium...) If he were to download copies of those produced DVDs, then that would be piracy. If he were to share copies of his prior recordings with his friends, he is well withing his rights as long as he derived no compensation for them. it's not about making sense; it's about making legal sense.

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Everything I can find either directly states or heavily implies that there must be deprivation of something tangible in order to actually classify as theft.

The legal system in the USA (and damn near every other country with reliable electricity), has established that intellectual property IS, legally, "property." If copying it deprives the copyright holder of potential financial gain, it is theft in the eyes of the law. Although it is important to note that it is a form of theft that law enforcement is utterly ineffective at dealing with, and thus extremely reluctant to involve themselves with, forcing most individuals who believe themselves to be damaged by it to seek recompense and/or justice in the civil courts. This means such instances are almost always referred to as "copyright infringement" rather than "theft" because an individual citizen can not prosecute another citizen for a criminal offense, only for a civil one.

Probably the biggest problem with the whole issue is that no one, not the police, not the government, not the industries involved, the public, the consumers, the justice system, the lawyers, no one can agree on what, exactly, it is, how to deal with it, or even how you COULD deal with it.

Which makes me think of a related conundrum. Do items that exist only as data have real world, legal "value?"

For instance, when legendary EVE Online super-villain "Bad Bobby" successfully defrauded an in-game corporation (their version of a guild) out of more than 850,000,000,000 ISK (their version of gold), was that "theft?" EVE is interesting in that ISK can be bought with real money without violating the TOS. You can buy PLEX (essentially 30-day game time cards) with real money and with in-game ISK, establishing a real-world exchange rate for ISK. At the time the scam went down, the .85 trillion ISK Bad Bobby made off with had a real-world cash value of $45,000 US. The ISK could (and likely was, there is little reason to suspect that Bobby, now the most infamous player in the entire game, would use that PLEX to keep his account going for more than 200 years...) be converted to PLEX, and that PLEX (remember it is acceptable in the EVE TOS to sell PLEX) then sold for real-world cash. Essentially Bad Bobby stole 45 grand worth of in-game money which he then certainly converted to cold, hard cash.

Was that theft? Did he take something of value? According to the law....nope, ISK had no legal status as a valued commodity. Does a World of Warcraft item that requires thousands of gold worth of materials and hundreds of hours to create have any intrinsic value? It's an interesting question. People pay money (wisely or not, I make no judgments) every day for downloaded items for games, many of them purely cosmetic. From the infamous horse armor in "Elder Scrolls Oblivion" to the vanity Batman skins for "Arkham City." (Which I will admit I bought myself in the Steam half price sale. Don't judge me, I had to have me some Old Batman violence.) Do these items, which have no actual existence, have value? Can you create value-tagged commodities without any actual resources?

 A house has bricks and mortar and wood and wiring. There is a measurable expense in it's creation, a measurable collection of physical components with known, market-based values. Does a house in a game, which has no physical existence at all, also have "value?" There is certainly a market to base it on if it does. If that in-game house has value.....then would it be a crime to burn it down? Hell, for that matter time-investment has legal precedence as a value-adding factor.....if I spend weeks leveling a game character only to have my account hacked and the character deleted....can that be prosecuted as theft? Or is it just vandalism? Would the deletion of a two-hours-invested level 1 character be a lesser crime than the deletion of two-years-invested level 85? Would it be an 8760 times greater crime?

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I feel as though it's directed at me.

Of course not, lass. The "you" I was using was a generic one. Rest assured the sandman knows how to have a conversation with a pretty young lady. ;)

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even though essentially everything is the same

It IS interesting that we draw distinctions between different TYPES of data. Music, movies, games, it's all just ones and zeros. If it's wrong to pirate one arrangement of binary, shouldn't it be wrong to pirate any arrangement?

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obviously you want multiple copies of the music but you don't want to pay for all of them.

LOL no, I just want the one copy. I'm just too lazy to cart that one copy around with me. Although now that I got the new smartphone, that's not really an issue anymore, and since I buy most of my music in digital download format now, anyway, it's not really an issue. Now that I have it all in one easily portable format, I no longer see a need for copies in different locations.

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I know our politicians do not want to even pretend to put that much effort in anything.

That's the problem. It's not a simple situation you can just throw a half-asses piece of legislation at. We're talking about an organization that put a guy who thought the internet was a "series of tubes" in charge of the committee on science and technology. They are utterly unwilling (or perhaps unable) to put in the effort necessary to really deal with this thorny problem.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 11:31:53 pm by sandman »
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Offline Neith

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2012, 11:56:03 pm »
Like Sandman, I agree that creators need protection against piracy, but SOPA will only hurt innocent people and companies without getting to the source of the problem. As a senior staff member of a social networking service, SOPA gives me great cause for concern. We always do our best to remove any copyright-infringing content when we find it on our system, and ban those who commit the offenses. We can't catch every offense, though, and I worry about what would happen if a copyright owner decided to go straight to the authorities instead of asking us first to remove the content.

Our social networking service is very small compared with sites like YouTube and Google, though. YouTube has some kind of automation in place to catch a lot of things, but YouTube can't possibly have algorithms in place to catch every song, movie, etc., that's uploaded to their system, and there are ways to get around those algorithms when they do exist. Likewise, Google's indexing process is animated, and there's no possible way for them to police every single page that gets spidered.

Offline Jodie

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2012, 11:57:20 pm »
What in the world will I do with myself with no internet for a week? The internet is my life man! D:
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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2012, 01:10:11 am »
Here's the problem I have with copyright law. First off, torrenting things is only the most obvious problem. This is a list of everything technically illegal under current copyright law (which are almost never investigated because internet piracy is easier to track by virtue of having a trail):
  • getting friends together and watching a movie
  • singing a song out loud where people can hear you
  • leaving a CD in the open where people could steal it
  • letting a friend borrow a book
  • having a school talent show (unless the school buys a blanket copyright protection waiver)
  • listening to a song in the background of a Youtube video
  • letting a friend share one of your earbuds

Secondly, piracy doesn't steal money from the actual workers, it steals money from the companies. Bands make most of their money touring and selling merchandise. Movie stars get paid money up front, and their salaries are not determined by how well their movies do (if so, Will Ferrell wouldn't be as well paid as he is). True, if a studio loses money then the don't pay as much up front, but that's a cost that is shaered by the company, not the actual actors.

Thirdly, companies make it incredibly difficult to obtain media legally, due to country licenses and other things. For example, there's a several month lag between BBC and PBS airing the same show. To watch it on their website online is a three week lag. Some shows, like the Big Bang Theory or the Mentalist, cannot be put online due to licensing issues. This means that they will never be legally distributed on things like Hulu or Netflix. This makes it incredibly difficult for people to watch shows that are not in their country of origin or (like me) don't have television. There is often a lag between airing music on the radio and putting out the album. This lag frustrates customers and provides an incentive for them to acquire media illegally. If companies removed those incentives, they'd be more willing to buy things.

Offline Thejebusfire

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2012, 01:19:45 am »
What in the world will I do with myself with no internet for a week? The internet is my life man! D:

Is it sad that this was my first thought too?

I think I should re-evaluate my life.

Offline StallChaser

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2012, 06:26:13 am »
Things that were once physical objects are now data, and it's silly to treat them the same, when data is almost limitless.  You can buy a 1TB external hard drive for $100.  On that, you can store 200,000 mp3s, assuming their average size is 5MB.  At $1 each, that's $200,000.  Is a 1TB hard drive really worth more than a small house in most places?  Laws that may have worked in the past are insane when applied to new technology.  SOPA is analogous to instituting a 5mph speed limit on our highways to accommodate horse and buggy.

Second, copyrights are supposed to be temporary, but the terms keep getting extended.  What started as a 14-year term with the possibility of a 14-year extension, is now life plus 70 years because of bribery lobbying by the movie/music industry.  A scientific study showed that the ideal copyright length, taking into account the value of the public domain, is... wait for it...  14 years!

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2012, 07:07:55 am »
Sandman, this forum isn't a legal court of law.  The definition of theft depends on the removal and denial of the pre-existing object.

When you steal someone's TV, they no longer have the TV to watch anymore.  Piracy would be bursting into someone's house (an illegal act in and of itself), magically making a copy of their TV, and walking out.  They'll be perplexed, and disturbed at the sudden entrance (rightly so) and should press charges for breaking and entering, but the TV is still there.  They paid money for the TV, yes, but they don't have to go out and buy another TV.

Digital media is an entirely different box of rocks compared to real life.  In digital media, I can take a song and copy it to a different folder.  Now I have two different copies of that song.  I can make it three copies.  Four copies.  Five copies.

In real life, you can't do that with, say, a loaf of bread.  You can cut it up, but the mass will always remain the same.

Conversely, you can completely erase your songs entirely, leaving nothing behind.  You can't do that with bread.  You incinerate it, it leaves ashes.  You eat it, it... comes out.  You throw it in the trash, it ends up decaying in a garbage dump, presuming it doesn't get eaten by wild animals.

Applying physical media rules to digital media "objects" would be like trying to make a piece of paper into a map... of outer space.  It doesn't work.  Space is 3D, maps are 2D.  Inherently incompatible.
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Offline sandman

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2012, 10:24:33 am »
Quote from: Smurfette
Secondly, piracy doesn't steal money from the actual workers, it steals money from the companies.

Just curious....are you asserting that it is acceptable to steal money from the companies? A company is made up of people, people who make their livings working for that company. You steal enough from it and they all lose their jobs. It seems like you are implying that it's OK to steal from the production company, but not from the artist? I don't get the doublethink.

Quote from: Smurfette
Thirdly, companies make it incredibly difficult to obtain media legally, due to country licenses and other things. For example, there's a several month lag between BBC and PBS airing the same show. To watch it on their website online is a three week lag. Some shows, like the Big Bang Theory or the Mentalist, cannot be put online due to licensing issues. This means that they will never be legally distributed on things like Hulu or Netflix. This makes it incredibly difficult for people to watch shows that are not in their country of origin or (like me) don't have television. There is often a lag between airing music on the radio and putting out the album. This lag frustrates customers and provides an incentive for them to acquire media illegally. If companies removed those incentives, they'd be more willing to buy things.

I totally understand your frustration here. I was a huge fan of the show Red Dwarf back when it was nearly impossible to watch in the USA. However....no one has a "right" to view specific entertainment. Just because something is not readily available through legal channels does not mean you are now free to acquire it through illegal ones. This is a distribution problem caused by the production/distribution company, and concerns should be voiced to them. But even if they don't respond, the inability to acquire copyrighted material easily in a legal manner does not mean one is free to acquire it illegally.

Quote from: StallChaser
You can buy a 1TB external hard drive for $100.  On that, you can store 200,000 mp3s, assuming their average size is 5MB.  At $1 each, that's $200,000.  Is a 1TB hard drive really worth more than a small house in most places?

Very interesting thought, there. A 1TB HD filled with 200,000 songs technically would be worth the aggregate value of the songs contained. But that just seems really wrong, somehow doesn't it? Something about that just seems....off. Perhaps if we looked at it like they were physical CDs? 200K songs would be somewhere in the vicinity of 16,000 physical CDs. At $15 a pop (erring on the conservative side), that 340 foot tall stack of CDs would have a retail value of aound $240,000 (plus tax). Would a stack of CDs the height of a 30 story building (as long as an American football field including the end zones) be worth as much as a house? According to the market, yes. Yes they would.

Which raises the question.....where is the value in a music CD? The physical object, or the music contained on it? We all know a physical CD costs less than a dollar to make, including shipping, so the value must rest in the music....in the data encoded on the CD. If the value is in the data, then surely that data retains it's inherent value even if it is stored in a different format. Logically, that 1 TB HD would be worth 200 grand.

But that STILL seems wrong somehow, doesn't it?

Quote from: Zachski
The definition of theft depends on the removal and denial of the pre-existing object.

The conundrum the courts are dealing with now is the loss of material benefit to the producer. Pirated material, while it does not deny the producer of a physical object, does legally have the potential to deny them financial benefit from a sale. Piracy denies revenue. The denial of revenue causes collapse of the business, which legally is clear material harm.

I think the problem is that this word "theft" keeps being used. I think perhaps that word has such solid connotations of physical property built into it that it must be abandoned for this situation. "Causing material harm," or "denial of material benefit" would probably be better. The issue is that when a company spends resources to produce a data product, and pirates take that product without compensating the producers, those produces are materially damaged.

But I think you are right that "theft" is the wrong legal term to be using here.


« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 10:27:03 am by sandman »
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Offline TheL

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2012, 02:15:34 pm »
Actually, I think the problem with film piracy is that, generally, it's less a case of "I think it's immoral" but more of a case of "They track those things like fucking hawks, so good luck doing it without getting caught".

I've been tempted to rip all my DVDs to my computer, solely so I can make an hour-long video that consists solely of the "Copying this movie is a felony" warnings, and post it on YouTube.
Quote from: ladyrenae
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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2012, 02:20:24 pm »
Actually, I think the problem with film piracy is that, generally, it's less a case of "I think it's immoral" but more of a case of "They track those things like fucking hawks, so good luck doing it without getting caught".

I've been tempted to rip all my DVDs to my computer, solely so I can make an hour-long video that consists solely of the "Copying this movie is a felony" warnings, and post it on YouTube.

Pirating anti-piracy ads. Perfect.
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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2012, 02:38:26 pm »
Actually, I think the problem with film piracy is that, generally, it's less a case of "I think it's immoral" but more of a case of "They track those things like fucking hawks, so good luck doing it without getting caught".

I've been tempted to rip all my DVDs to my computer, solely so I can make an hour-long video that consists solely of the "Copying this movie is a felony" warnings, and post it on YouTube.

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Offline TheL

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2012, 02:55:34 pm »
Quote
Is he now require to purchase the DVDs in order to legally watch it?

Not to view his own, prior recordings, no. Of course not. They were legally obtained. (Although the television industries are still attempting to find some way to prevent recording of live tv shows to a permanent medium...) If he were to download copies of those produced DVDs, then that would be piracy. If he were to share copies of his prior recordings with his friends, he is well withing his rights as long as he derived no compensation for them. it's not about making sense; it's about making legal sense.

This is where I have a problem.  See, I feel that, in order for a law to be considered even remotely just, it has to make sense.  If a five-year-old can look at something and say "that makes no sense," then the law needs to be changed.

As you and Oriet have both pointed out, it is perfectly legal to record a show off your TV and rewatch it whenever you want, but it is NOT legal to download a copy of someone else's DVD of that show to rewatch it whenever you want.  That makes no sense whatsoever.  The same act is taking place in both cases: a Decepticon is obtaining a free copy of a TV show to enjoy as he pleases.  Why is it legal to get a free digital copy one way, but illegal to get the exact same sequence of ones and zeroes for free in another way?
Quote from: ladyrenae
You there. The creepy person who decided I was supporting their position. Stop it.

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Re: Internet shutdown to protest SOPA?
« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2012, 03:24:02 pm »
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(You know, because going after the consumer of an illegal product is always the most effective way to end the traffic, right? That's worked out really well in the "war on drugs," hasn't it?)

That, right there, is why this bill is a fail.  It's just getting more people in jail for victimless crimes.  I too understand why pirating is an issue, but they need to go after the right people. 

And I'm not even going to go into what this allows companies and law enforcement to do to the web.