Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Question

What is the difference between file sharing sites like bearshare and limewire and the public library system?


dawnmarie said...

The public library owns the books and lends them to people. bearshare and limewire give copies to people who don't own them. Limewire and bearshare would be legal if you downloaded a song (and the person you downloaded it from never had it), listened to it, and then returned it. The library isn't duplicating things and giving them away.

it's a matter of the item returning to the owner who purchased it.

dawnmarie said...

not never had it, "didn't have it while you were 'borrowing' it." is what I meant.

Brian in Mpls said...

I would counter that someone has originally purchased the album that is on a file sharing site. So it has been paid for once even though many people might use it for free similar to a library. I would also say that I can remove sections of a book and place them in a research paper and it is not plagiarizing if I give the writer why can I not remove a song from an album and create a mix tape as long as I give the artist credit? From my standpoint as a writer the library is a catch 22 people are viewing my work for free but it is creating an awareness for my name brand recognition. In the argument above it would be ok to have a file sharing site as long as the song is deleted after say 15 days.

EC said...

I pick door number 1!

Yours Truly said...

I agree with Brian. But don't even get me started on the copyright laws regarding DVD's. IMHO, if I'm not selling it to make money and it's not a DVD I would buy anyways, making a copy is perfectly legal. Especially when you don't have cable TV.

Rocketstar said...

It's all about technology and the ease of copying/sharing.

dawnmarie said...

But Brian, when you download a song, you're making a copy. When you borrow a book, you're not creating another copy.

What I can't figure out is why used bookstores are legal. The publisher doesn't make any money off the re-sale of the book, right?

Nick said...

Brian, I think your question could be interpreted in two different ways. One is the legal difference; the other is the practical/moral difference.

The legal difference is as Dawn stated in her first comment. Simply put, copyright law deals with copies. Sharing a file on something like Limewire creates unauthorized copies. Thus, this is a copyright infringement. The Supreme Court has rejected a fair use defense to such systems.

Libraries don't give you a duplicate; they give you an original copy of the book/CD/whatever. If a person unauthorizedly makes a copy, of course, she commits copyright infringement.

Brian, regarding your comment about someone purchasing the CD and placing it on Limewire, the problem is that purchasing a copy does not give a person the right to make copies, other than fair use, which does not exist in that context.

To answer Dawn's question regarding used book stores, the answer is that they are perfectly legal because they aren't selling copies; they're selling originals. Copyright law does give authors a right of distribution, but once a person legally owns, say, a book, he can do what he pleases with that book, other than make copies or otherwise violate copyright law. That includes selling the book. There's a name for this doctrine, but I can't remember everything from my Copyright class. :-)

the108 said...

Here's the difference:

I will not go to the library

But I will steal music and movies and other programs online. Shamelessly. In fact, I'm stealing a new recording program right now at the same time as I am watching The Transformers that I stole a few weeks ago.