Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stealing or Not

The New York Times's ethicist, Randy Cohen, published a column last year in which he stated it was O.K. to illegally download a copy of a Stephen King book if you had already purchased a hard copy edition. Read his argument here. Why do you think the ethicist believes this? What are the implications for other media? You might want to read this article regarding iTunes consideration of making unlimited downloads of purchased music available to customers. Do you believe once you buy a media object online you should have unlimited rights to it in different versions? What are some of the problems that could be encountered with this belief. How could it actually harm the industry?

19 comments:

Elle B. said...

I think he believes this because, as he stated, once someone has purchased intellectual property, why should it be bought again? I know that authors, artists, etc., want to continue to make money, but the fact of the matter is we don't have the money to waste in re-buying something that we've already purchased. If the author is paid, ultimately there should be no problem.

I 100% agree with iTunes implementing unlimited downloads. I have lost so much music because of something happening to my hard drive. Yes, we should be responsible and back up songs onto an external hard drive, but does everyone think about doing that all the time? You can argue and say that before there was internet, if you bought a record and lost it, you would not be able to go to the record store expecting to pick up the same record and leave without paying, That's the beauty of technology.... we can do that now, in a way. Right now I can't foresee how this would harm the industry. A consumer having unlimited rights to music that they have ALREADY purchased is really no different from them having the songs without the ability to repurchase. The only main difference is that the industry would not make a profit on consumers having to repurchase music that was lost, stolen, etc. I know it's all about the money, but is that really fair?

candrews_4 said...

I feel that he believes this because once you have paid for the product, why should you have to keep paying for it over and over. Most of these companies are multi-million dollar companies and sometimes it’s about the principle to them instead of the money. It’s just a rip off to charging someone for the same thing over and over and that’s how you lose customers. It’s not good to take advantage. It the owner is paid and we bought it, everything should be copasetic.
As far as iTunes go, I feel that it is okay to allow customers to unlimited downloads. If you have already purchased the song or download, then why should you have to pay for it over? It’s yours, you own it. Apple is always coming up with great ideas to do things smarter, a little expensive, but worth it. Downloading from the internet is so much more convenient. The music industry will probably eventually raise the prices and try to make a profit from downloading, but a lot of people still like to purchase the c.d.’s. Some of the artist work hard to put out entertainment, but in the end it’s all about the money. Yes it may be their passion, but they are trying to make some kind of profit off of it.
There is always someone smarter to beat the system, it just happens. People will still download illegally and burn and rip material. That’s just the way it is. Unfortunately, whoever said life was fair? Those are just some things you have to deal with. Like retail, there is a lot of theft in retail stores, music and downloading movies, shows, etc. is the same. Hopefully companies will be able to buckle down tighter and prevent this from happening because the software to do this is sold through companies. Wow, technology is something else.

CLiddell said...

I understand Randy Cohen's frame of thinking, that it is ok to illegally download a copy of a Stephen King book. It's makes sense, but I belive illegal means ( a criminal act). It's not that serious. I believe that it is ok to recharge for music downloads everytime it is downloaded, and I don't believe you should have unlimited rights to the different versions. Everybody is trying to eat(live),so, of course it is going to cost something. Unlimited access to these downloads would cause a big drop in revenue for the music industries. Sales of the hard copies would plummet. Unfornately for the music industry, illegal music sites are everywhere. So, I can understand charging for the same music download each time. Nothing in life is free.

eld_school said...

I think the publisher and author should consider themselves lucky that the reader purchased the book and paid the higher price. He could have waited and purchased it for $9.99. If this becomes an issue I'm sure readers will decide to wait a little longer to read the works of their favorite author. In fact many readers are already doing that. I think the reader had the right to download the book for his own use. Now if he had copied his book and given it to someone else then he would have broken the copyright laws and should feel guilty.
In a way I see this different because of all the people who are abusing the system. I think it will hurt the industy to have unlimited downloads. I know people buy new types of equipment and want to move all their songs over. The transfer to new equipment would be one thing but the keep downloading the song unlimited times just doesn't seem fair.

ABilly said...

I believe what he did was considered stealing because he bought a pirated version but he makes a good arguement about not having to pay for the same book. I can understand that but in the same token, he didn't buy it from the same company or place which makes it stealing. It is like if a person went to a book store and bought a book but because he wants the audio version and he can't wait for the same book store to get it in and goes somewhere else and get it without paying for it, it would be considered stealing. He should have waited.

As for Itunes, the unlimited downloads is ok because the customer has already bought the music and should be able to download as much as he wants because he is coming back to the same company.

sswog said...

Ethics is about right and wrong. The best description of ethics is the water balloon theory. If you feel a balloon up with water, depending on how you hold the balloon will determine the shape. The question that is being asked is whether or not you have unlimited rights to the product you purchased, no matter what shape it comes in. A purchase is a purchase. In the world of commerce, each form of outlet is considered a profit. So whether you bought the hard back book, it would be considered theft to illegally download the same book for your e-reader. From a humanistic point of view, you bought the book once. Why would you pay for it again?

The Internet gives us the ability to access information and entertainment with a click of a button. Each day, programs are created to enhance our ability to get what we want when we want it. All media objects are a form of commodity. The harm to the industry comes from the unlimited sources of the same product. The purchase of a hard back book is considered a profit. The purchase of the e-reader version is also considered a profit. In my opinion, the industry must find a way to bundle the different versions together.

I believe that ethically, if you bought it once, it is yours no matter the form. Technically the hard back book is different from the e-reader. I do not think anyone should be discriminated or punished for downloading what is available on the Internet. In order to solve the problem, I think it is time for the media industry must find a standard in which the customer is satisfied with both with a physical and digital product.

SarahLear said...

ITunes has already harmed the industry somewhat. When I was younger, it was a big deal to go get a cd when it first came out. While some people still do that on itunes, most of the puchases (including mine personally) are song by song. So where before iTunes most of the time if you just wanted one song you had to spend about $16-$18 for the whole album (unless that song happened to be a single). But most songs didn't use to be sold individually. We as consumers love how iTunes allows us to buy song by song, but it does hurt the industry to some extent.
When it comes to losing songs, which is a fear of everyone who only buys them electronically, I think iTunes should somehow keep a record of what you've bought so that should you lose it somehow, it can be recovered.
My concern with Randy Cohen saying it was O.K. to illegally download the book when the downloader already had the hard copy is that who knows if someone has the hard copy? How can that be proved? And also, why would you need the illegal copy if you have the hard copy? I know that these days there are all kinds of electronic readers coming out and repurchasing some books may be an issue but I just don't see an ultimate fix to it. I think there would be many loopholes in that system.
Most people I know don't read many books multiple times.
To have unlimited rights to media you buy online, I think the costs would definitely have to go up. I am not sure if this means vidoes or different versions of the song, but iTunes would probably need to up their prices some from $1.29.

lisahenry said...

It's very ironic that we are blogging about technology because I just lost everything that I had typed so...I will try my best to remember it. Basically, I do not agree with Mr. Cohen. He feels that once you have purchased the book that you have purchased all rights to it. I just don't agree. To me, this would be the same as walking into a book store and taking a paper back book after you lost your purchased hard back copy. It's an "illegal" copy and that should speak for itself. I personally feel that this is a good example of cognitive dissonance where we tend to look for someway to justify our actions so that we don't feel so uncomfortable with our choices.
On the other hand, I believe that the Itunes unlimited downloads are very good business. Apparently, a lot of people lose their music due to errors in their equipment or maybe just an upgrade. I think it would be great if they didn't have to purchase it again. The difference with these two is simply one thing, authorization.

Shelly said...

I agree with his mentality to an extent. Once you buy an object, it is considered yours, but I also understand the point of view that taking something without paying for it is stealing. For example, if I bought a item like a shirt or a necklace at a store and something happened to it or I lost it, I couldn't just go to the store and expect them to give me another replacement just because I said I had already bought it. Each item that is made costs money in staff, production cost, and advertisement (in some cases). If everyone was allowed a replacement item on everything that was bought, companies would be going out of business all the time because they would be loosing money.
In the case of music or things that are downloaded by the user after they are purchased, the company has already paid all the cost to have the song, video, etc. accessible to the public. It doesn't cost them much if anything at all to keep the song available. I think that in these cases, the customer should be allowed to download the same song--the same version without having to pay for it again. For songs remixed in a different version, the customer should still pay a fee for it because the company still had to pay the singer, musicians, and producers to go back to the recording studio and they had to pay for production costs. If everyone did not have to pay for the new version of the song, singers would stop making new versions because it would cost them money to make it.

MattDemp said...

I would have to say, that even though the person bought the book that he would turn around and re-buying something that he already had, I think it is just a waste of time and money.

DSEELEY said...

I belive that once you purchase a hard cover book that if a digital version comes out such as for E Readers who should have all the rights to donwload that version onto you device. The issue i have with the author is that it was apirated version and not a legitimate version, this I feel still is a crime. It has to a legitimate copy from the publisher. I still purchase CD's and then download them to my Zune of I Pod. I feel this is perfectly leagal since I have basically purchased the Lisence for the music.
The story on ITunes i belive is a good one. If you purchase a song from ITunes or naywhere else you should be able to download that song for ever you have bought the rights just like a CD. The song writers and musicians still receive royalities no matter how many time the song is downloaded.

abuckhalter said...

This is a very interesting situation where there are two reasonings that can be justified. One good thing is that the customer was very eager to read this story that he was willing to pay full price for the hard copy of the book instead of waiting on the 9.99 copy.

However I feel illegal downloading is wrong whether you purchased the hard copy or not. If you are not granted the right to download a version at the time of purchasing your hard copy, then you are commiting the same crime as a person that has not purchase the hard copy and downloading it illegal. I strongly feel that the company should invest in a smaller fee to include in the cost of a hard copy to allow the buyers the right to download the book. Many customer will probably wait until the ebook version is accesible and pay the smaller fee for the electronic version.

JLafond said...

I have to admit that I am torn between both sides of the argument here. Randy Cohen makes a valid point as to why we shouldn’t have to pay for the same book. We have already purchased the item, why should we have to pay for the same thing again. How is the online version any different from the real version? Well, it’s not because the content is the same. I doubt the author makes much off each purchase and the majority of the profits go the corporations. On the other hand, I feel that downloading something is stealing, which is obviously a crime. So Cohen has a valid argument but it is hard to justify.

Also, I think iTunes should allow you to download a song that you already bought. The company should keep track of your account and if you already bought something, then you should go be able to download it again. I don’t feel that we should be held responsible if our computers fail and be forced to re-purchase everything. Unfortunately, technology isn’t perfect, even though we wish it was.

JG Hanks said...

This issue is being addressed somewhat with the DVD/Blu-Ray industry. Many new releases now come with a copy on Blu-ray, DVD and a digital copy about the same price as just the DVD used to be. As with anything, technology takes time to implement.

I think instead of justifying the illegal download, the author of the article should have campaigned to make the book industry do something similar to what I mentioned above. If a consumer purchases a physical copy of a book, they should get a code to download the book when it comes out. What is done after that is the consumer's problem. The better the consumers who actually purchase items are treated, the more likely they are to purchase something again.

It's not up to the industry to replace all of our missing items. As many other people said, you wouldn't expect that with other industries, so why this one? Sales figures would be forever altered if unlimited downloads of paid items was implemented. The only way I believe it would work is to offer two choices when the initial purchase is made: the cheaper one time only download, and the substantially more expensive lifetime unlimited. That's the only way it makes sense fiscally.

LMRowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LMRowe said...

I feel that illegally downloading any material is wrong to do. I do believe that you are committing a crime if you do so. We are all in a business to make money. If you want a hard copy, you should pay for it. If you want the online version, you should pay for it.

I think that Itunes unlimited downloads is a good business to a certain extent. If you have purchased a song, you should be allowed to download the same song. How many times should you be allowed to download that particular song?

Sasha said...

I am kind of half-way on tis discussion. In some ways it seems to be ok, but on the other hand, its not. I am one who have downloaded music and so on, so I'm guilty too. I think in this guy case, he really didn't have a legitimate reason to purchase the book on-line. I think he just wanted to use his new easy reader. He already had the book, so my question is, why couldn't he take it with him on his trip?
Downloading things like an electronic file or music is no different from letting someone borrow it and getting a copy of it. Now i think it does hurt the sale of the people involve with putting those things in play, but i think they sale these products high enough just for reason like illegal downloading.
I like Itunes idea of making unlimited downloads of purchase available as long as they hot an agreement with the record companies. At least they are not doing without their permission.
Now as far as having access to media object once you purchase it is ok. if you are the buyer and its the same source. A different version, is a different thing, if you want a different version, you should pay for it because, it is not the version you paid for. You chose the version you paid for. Now it would not hurt to maybe give a discount is you want different version. Take heave to "nothing in life it free." giving free download to different version could hurt the industry by losing sales on that product.

Sasha said...

I am kind of half-way on tis discussion. In some ways it seems to be ok, but on the other hand, its not. I am one who have downloaded music and so on, so I'm guilty too. I think in this guy case, he really didn't have a legitimate reason to purchase the book on-line. I think he just wanted to use his new easy reader. He already had the book, so my question is, why couldn't he take it with him on his trip?
Downloading things like an electronic file or music is no different from letting someone borrow it and getting a copy of it. Now i think it does hurt the sale of the people involve with putting those things into play, but i think they sale these products high enough just for reason like illegal downloading.
Also,I like Itunes idea of making unlimited downloads of purchase available as long as they have an agreement with the record companies. At least they are not doing without their permission.
Now as far as having access to media objects once you purchase it is okay, f you are the buyer and its the same source. A different version, is a different thing. if you want a different version, you should pay for it because it is not the version you paid fo in the first place. You chose the version you paid for! Now it would not hurt to maybe give a discount if you want different version. Take heave to "nothing in life it free." Giving free downloads to different version could hurt the industry by losing sales on that product.

Brandon L. Atkison said...

In todays world most citizens want things that are cheap or free. Most people would think since they bought the hard copy of a book that they should be entitled to other versions for free. I do not think this should be the case. I think people should be charged for every purchase they make, no matter what type of form it comes in. The same goes for ITunes, if you decide to let people continuously download purchase music, what is going to stop people from being able to give it to their friends and their friends. It will be like the crazy free P2P free music downloading party all over again. Ultimately, if these course of events are allowed to happen it will hurt these industries. The demand for these products would go down and hurt the industries. If this were to happen you would see a reduction in the services we customers have come to expect and enjoy. Don’t be cheap, pay for your stuff.