The Instigator
Rob1Billion
Pro (for)
Winning
56 Points
The Contender
Harboggles
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

It is not inherently unethical to download music illegally

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2008 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,161 times Debate No: 3444
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (21)

 

Rob1Billion

Pro

Besides the obvious fact that you are breaking the law, there is no inherently unethical aspect to downloading mp3's off of Limewire or its competitors. Socrates taught us that we should not break the law, no matter how unjust it is, but I will argue here that the illegality of the act is the ONLY thing wrong with it; hence the act should be legitimized and legalized.

First off, I will compare music with physical art. Physical art can be sold as a product, which seperates it from musical art. Musical art is not sold as a physical piece like physical art, it is performed. If you steal a painting, it is truly stealing. You can't steal music, however. You shouldn't be able to, that is. The only reason we can steal musical art is because within the last century, technology created a very unusual niche for musical artists; the ability to record sound onto a disk and sell an unlimited amount of previously non-reproducible copies to the public, and rake in the profits. This highly unusual event produced highly unusual results. Performers became extremely rich because of this niche, and in a lot of cases a band that simply made some music became multimillionaire celebrities without having to perform very much at all. This trend came to an end, as we all know, when technology progressed again and gave the consumers the ability to copy and download the music for free, without paying the artist to do so.

Musical art has taken its rightful place again, next to physical art. Physical artists make items to be sold, and musical artists make art that must be performed live to be profitable. The physical artist has little utility for performance, as the musical artist has little utility for physical items.

This is how it SHOULD be. Technology created this niche, and took it away RIGHTFULLY SO. Musicians like Metallica, who whine endlessly about illegal music downloads, should not have been that rich to start with. They should be out performing, doing shows, like musicians do. Even famous musicians from the past, like Bach and Mozart, were not well-off financially. It wasn't until Beethoven came around that musicians made ANY money whatsoever, and he was only notable because he actually made enough money to not have to work a day job as he composed/performed - he was not super-rich like Metallica is.

Musicians can make a decent living, like the rest of us, if they perform. There will always be a demand for live musical performance and composure, so they need not whine about not selling CD's. Local artists can sell CD's with little to no worry about dubbing, because you simply cannot YOUTUBE or LIMEWIRE their music. Musical artists can perform for money, and they will only have a problem with downloading if they make it SO big that people actually start recognizing them nationally. At that point, they can hardly complain about the system not working for them. Metallica can still go out and make hundreds of thousands of dollars for a show whenever they want; they just can't sit home and do NOTHING and make millions. How sorry I feel for them.
Harboggles

Con

It is wrong to steal.

That is indisputable.

Now when it comes down to it, the artists should define the price of their music. They should have the discretion of allowing people to pay 1 cent. nothing. or 10.00$ for an album.

But that's not our system. Our system is rigid, and we pay to the RIAA not the artists, hell, the artists get very little of the profits as is!

Even though the RIAA is unethical as hell, stupid, and greedy.

Stealing is stealing. (I do it too, so don't be quick to dismiss it)

Stealing is unethical.
Debate Round No. 1
Rob1Billion

Pro

"It is wrong to steal. That is indisputable"... "Stealing is unethical."

This seems to be the meat of your argument, so I will address it.

Stealing is not always wrong, not always unethical. It usually is. During times of war, stealing from the enemy is not unethical. We see stealing in nature, and I don't think that biologists use ethics to address the situation when a snake steals eggs out of a nest. If there was a tyranny in power in our country, and we wished to overthrow it, we could hardly call ourselves unethical for stealing from the tyrannical government to overthrow it. Stealing is USUALLY unethical, but you can't say it always is, even if it is the vast majority of the time. Like I pointed out, this niche that technology created was unnatural. it created an unusual situation that lasted only about 100 years, in which large manufacturers had the ability to record music but normal consumers did not. Before this, no one could, and after this, everyone could. But during this small amount of time we created a market based on this difference, and now this difference does not exist, so the market is collapsing. Those who oppose this transition would be just as stupid as to oppose a tornado headed for them, because it is coming and no one can stop it. So you see, although stealing is USUALLY unethical, in certain rather specific, rather unusual circumstances it is certainly not. Technology created a very unusual situation indeed, which indirectly caused a loophole in the ethics of stealing.

You say you "do it too", harboggles. Are you saying you are being unethical? Are you a good person, Harboggles? Isn't one of the tests of good laws, as well as good ethics, is whether or not good people can follow the law/ethic? Because if good people cannot follow the principle, than it is concievable that it is the principle itself that is at fault, not the good people who are breaking it. Now you do the numbers with me. How many people download music?

So to disagree with you, your argument is not indisputable. I suggest you start addressing the mountain of points I have made and leave the philosophical absolutes alone for awhile.
Harboggles

Con

Okay. But this is still stealing. Even if we don't like the prices. The only reason that we're not in jail is because there is no realistic way to crack down on it. If we had stolen a car stereo then we would be in jail.

They are the legal owners of the intellectual property. They license us to use their music for a fee. They have the legal high ground. I don't like it either. But you can't obey laws you do or don't like based on your politics.
Debate Round No. 2
Rob1Billion

Pro

The legal high ground isn't necessarily the moral high ground. This debate is about morality. You can use legal means to create immorality as well. Many laws are found to be unethical all the time, and must be changed. It wasn't too long ago that blacks were not legally allowed to drink from the same water fountain as whites, or keep their seats on a bus when a white person wanted them. Morality exists deeper than the law and you cannot just hope that the current laws are perfectly moral. You cannot just hide behind "stealing is wrong" and expect to find truth in the situation.

Legality does not equal morality, and illegality does not equal immorality.

Laws are not perfect. I have described the flaws in the laws in this case. The laws have been slow to adapt to the technology and are creating drag. This is likely to occur again, as technology continues to progress and surprise us, and if legislators do not find ways to keep up with technology then we will find ourselves in this situation yet again. Maybe next time it will be a more serious matter... perhaps we should learn from this experience and make sure it doesn't happen again. I would imagine it will be the internet that is involved next time, possibly involved with our freedom to use it and be allowed access to unadulterated and unbiased information. I am truly concerned that this situation is a harbinger.

In order to get to the root of this issue you must hash out the details. This you are COMPLETELY unwilling to do with me, and I guess I don't blame you. People that take your stance usually don't have anything more intelligent to say than "it's stealing" (then compare it to shoplifting or something similar), and I venture to guess that they haven't really spent the time to wonder if the laws are really right or wrong, they are just used to following them and find it convenient to have pre-packaged sets of rules that prevent them from having to think. They are also so used to buying tapes and CD's that they forget that musical art wasn't originally meant to be recorded and sold; it was meant to be performed. It may take another 20 years, but things will eventually go back to their true form, and musicians will go back to performing to make money. We won't have as many super-millionaire musicians around, but that is a sacrifice we are just going to have to make, unfortunately :D
Harboggles

Con

Downloading free music that is usually paid for. IS UNETHICAL.

It's stealing. And stealing is unethical. Yes there are cases where you can say, "but". This is not one of them. Again, I am not condoning the actions of the RIAA. F*ck the RIAA they are a criminal organization as far as I am concerned. But as of now, the downloading of music illegally hurts the artists (only a tiny bit), but still. The income earned by the RIAA is rightfully theirs. If people were not willing to spend money on music, the RIAA would not exist. Just because a large percentage of people believe something to be unethical does not excuse another unethical action.

If you want the RIAA to go away and allow cheap/free music downloads. Let the market speak. Boycott the RIAA. Don't steal, because it just gives them more ammo.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"Ragnar, you say that as if you are thinking of someone right now...
"

SomeONE? i think we need a new word... SomeMANY. :D

"absolute argument, rests his entire case on it, and claims it is absolutely indisputable, you better believe I am going to poke some holes in it in any way I can!"

That only makes a hole if you equivocate on "stealing."
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
As to your point, ragnar - yes, you are certainly right. I won't quarrel with your logic, but I will say that when my opponent makes an absolute argument, rests his entire case on it, and claims it is absolutely indisputable, you better believe I am going to poke some holes in it in any way I can!
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
Ragnar, you say that as if you are thinking of someone right now...
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
Stealing is not always wrong, not always unethical. It usually is. During times of war, stealing from the enemy is not unethical."

There is a world of difference between a musical artist you like to listen to and someone you want dead, especially if you have good reason to want them dead.
Posted by shom126 8 years ago
shom126
Pro won this debate because he provided a coherent set of points which the con did not attack at all.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
I do indeed... that might have something to do with why I voted Pro, besides the fact that Con's argument was based on the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law OR the natural rules the law must follow.

"I venture to guess that they haven't really spent the time to wonder if the laws are really right or wrong, they are just used to following them and find it convenient to have pre-packaged sets of rules that prevent them from having to think."

Excellent.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
It sounds like you agree with me Kenny.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
My view on the entire subject is that it is bound by the laws of supply and demand. When supply goes up, price goes down. A digital file = infinite supply, therefore, price = infinitely close to zero.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
yeah man sorry, I will get to that right now!
Posted by Yraelz 8 years ago
Yraelz
Planning on challenging me Rob? =)
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Vote Placed by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
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