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[personal profile] stephiny
I'm somewhat prone to obsessing over what is right when it comes to moral issues. I end up thinking way more than is healthy, like the time that it was suggested to me that using wikipedia in any way for coursework was cheating. I'm still of the opinion that it's not, because proper research papers include bibliographies too, and the main thing I use wikipedia for is to find relevant sources of information on a subject. She wouldn't explain why or how it was cheating though, so I still find myself occasionally tearing the subject apart in my head trying to figure out how it is wrong.

The same goes for my thoughts on piracy. B thinks I'm a thief, and today on facebook this status was posted, "Ebook piracy is theft. If you upload or download an in-copyright ebook without paying for it you are a thief. No ifs, ands, or buts. You are a thief. It's no different to walking out of a shop with a book under your coat."

When two people that I respect disagree with me, that's a fairly strong sign that there is some kind of flaw in my logic. I can't for the life of me figure out what it is though, and it's not like I haven't carefully examined every issue that I can think of relating to it. I'm obviously missing something and it's really frustrating.

I understand perfectly that in terms of what the law states, I am a thief. Ethically though, I don't want to steal. I just have a different definition of theft to most people and if it's actually wrong then I have a lot of fixing that I need to do.

When I've watched a film online more than once I try to buy a copy. This is why I have a pile of DVDs that are still in their wrappers. I buy them because it seems wrong not to, because I've watched it enough that I can't justify not owning a copy. When it comes to books I read whatever is freely availible online first. Google books or amazon often have long excerpts that I can read to decide if I want to buy something or not. If I can't find anything like that, I'll hunt down a copy to download and read and I have a hard time stopping reading something partway through. I almost always read those to the end, even if the books are shit and not worth buying at all, which is wrong but still not resulting in the loss of a sale. At least there aren't many books that I download and don't go on to buy. I have a nice little pile of unread paperbacks because of this, though most books I like to read multiple times and I get enticed by the new book smell so they tend not to go unread for long.

But then again, everyone already knows I do that. I'm still missing something and it's going to drive me nuts until I figure it out.

Date: 2010-08-16 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Step 1: Ask what the difference is between downloading the book/movie/album and borrowing it from a friend, or a library. Particularly since you're not downloading it to keep, but just to check out prior to purchase.

Step 2: ????

Step 3: Profit.

Even according to most law, you're not a thief, really. You're a copyright infringer. A lot of companies are trying to equate this to "thief", but it's not an accurate comparison, for reasons discussed ad nauseum elsewhere. If downloading media leads you to buy one dead tree edition/ebook/album/movie you never would have, it's a net gain for the industry. The problem is that the publishing, music, and film industries know that, for the most part, they are trying to sell you crap. They want you to commit to paying for it before finding out you don't like it, because it makes their gamble on promoting and publishing the content producer more secure. Yet, if the main result of piracy is that we stop buying crap and buy more good material, I'd say that's a benefit to the good artists out there.

One of my friends is opening up a small publishing imprint, which is, of necessity, starting with eBooks. We've recently discussed the one thing she should do, the thing most eBooks don't do - put a page in at the front or the back, linking to the company's page and the author's page: "If you downloaded this via a peer-to-peer site, you can find more like it and support the author here; if you can't afford to buy it, you can donate to the tip jar on the page in question." Suddenly, pirates and hoarders are at least getting you some traffic and maybe some small donations. Go figure.

Date: 2010-08-16 10:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't agree with the idea that using Wikipedia is cheating. Most of the time, I use it as a sounding board, and a possible direction to go. Sometimes it offers a area which you can expand, and offers very useful peer accredited sources which you can then list. It is rather ironic that the information found there is perfectly fine, and yet as soon as you mention it's from Wikipedia, it immediately loses any credulity. I'm looking forward to them time when they get people in the field to verify certain pages, and then lock them to the public. Surely then it could be linked, and would be as good as any other site you read as help to a project?
Why is just Wikipedia cheating?

We aren't encouraged to include bibliographies at all, just reference pages of information we actually include ( though they want a figure contents page, which is a nightmare!), and if you include Wiki in your references you can pretty much say goodbye to any sort of impressive grade, and most likely receive a rather scathing comment about being careful what sites you chose. Whilst some of the information may be false or not accurate enough, I still consider Wikipedia an incredible resource.
But we all have to pretend that we don't use it, and read it. Which is a lie I think for almost every single student I have ever met.

Yes, out of all the points in your entry I decide to expand on that one.

While you can respect them, perhaps they don't understand your point of view, and perhaps it is them that has missed something.

With Google books and such, I read their excerpts, particularly if they are text books. My reasoning behind this ( and when does it become an excuse rather than a valid justification?) is that it was put on internet by Google, which got permission from the publisher, often using it as advertising. I tend to only use it to read textbook excerpts, usually because they are ridiculously expensive, and they aren't in the library. I'm not sharing it, and I'm using for academic reasons, and if it truly was useful I would buy it.
Amazon excerpts are kind of giving you the ability to flick through it as you would in a book shop, and I like that.

It is such a wide and complicated subject. But I agree with [ profile] smarriveurr, and they raise a very interesting point about copyright infringer. We have all done it, say if you have recorded something off the radio, because strictly? That's illegal.
There really isn't a source which investigates it fully I don't think, in wariness perhaps at encouraging or justifying what copyright infringer's do. It's an idea that is being stolen, and officially that does belong to someone.
Perhaps if no profit is being made by people that don't own copyright, that changes it yet again?

Long reply, but you have got me considering it now.

Date: 2010-08-17 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suppose the question is what you do with it. Barnes & Noble, for example, puts comfy chairs in between their bookshelves, so you can plop down, read part of a book, and decide whether or not you want it. I suppose you could probably read an entire book, then put it back, and treat it like your own personal library, but they'd probably get upset if you did that often.

That said, I've sat down and read a chapter or so, to see if I like a new author. In part, for money's sake, but also because I don't have the time these days to spend my reading time on crappy books. ::shrugs:: So I want to make sure that I'm going after the quality stuff.

Same thing with music. I've downloaded some songs (or listened to online versions) to see if I like a band. Hearing one song on the radio and liking it is one thing, but if the rest of their music sucks, I'll just pick up the track on iTunes instead of buying the whole album.

(And, as an aside, I don't see how using Wikipedia on coursework would be cheating. Maybe on a test, if it's not open book, but for normal papers or stuff like that, it makes perfect sense to me. It's just another reference source, really, just one with variable quality.)


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July 2011


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