The Instigator
Kinger
Pro (for)
Losing
26 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

The act of pirating copyrighted materials online should be legal

Do you like this debate?NoYes+6
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2011 Category: Technology
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,455 times Debate No: 16554
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (11)

 

Kinger

Pro

For this debate, I would like to take the argument that pirating copyrighted materials (music, movies, software, etc.) online should be legal in the U.S., and that the act of pirating materials should not lead to any form of legal punishment.

For reference let us define the following:
Pirating - to reproduce without authorization especially in infringement of copyright [1]
Copyright - the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work) [2].

When a person purchases a product, such as a car, or a computer, that person has the right to do what they want with that product - it is theirs to own. If the owner wishes, they may paint their car, or upgrade their computer. And if they are generous, the owner may also share their car with a friend, or share their computer with others. The owner that purchased the object may share it with those who did not purchase it.

The same idea should apply to pirating copyrighted software. If, for example, a person purchases a CD, they have the right to share it with friends; they can lend it to their parents, or even give it as a gift to a spouse. They purchased the CD, and have the right to do what they want with it, it is theirs. Therefore, because it is their property, it should be legal for the owner of the CD to share it online with others by whatever means they choose (i.e.. torrenting). This is called pirating because they are reproducing the CD. This act is currently illegal, and can lead to jail time, and or fines from organizations such as the RIAA. However, because the CD was purchased by the owner, they should have the right to share it with peers online, just like they share it with peers in real-life. The owner can take that same CD, put it on iTunes, and burn another copy, with no legal repercussions.

In conclusion, the act of pirating copyrighted materials online should be legal because the product belongs to the owner, and the owner may share the product freely with those in real life, and therefore should be able to do the same online, so long as that the owner does not make a profit off of the sharing of the product.

I look forward to this debate. Thank you.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
KeytarHero

Con

I would like to take a moment to thank Kinger for issuing this challenge, which I gladly accept.


I, too, have been struck by these hard financial times. It can be very expensive to buy music, especially if you, like me, prefer to have a hard copy of the album rather than buying digitally from sites such as iTunes. If you pay full price for a CD, you can pay upwards of $17, or more for boxed sets or other special packaging. It can be expensive. However, just like with any other medium, you must ask yourself: Which is the proper way to go about it in these hard times, abstaining from purchasing as much music as you’d like or outright stealing it? As it is wrong to steal food or clothes when you’re hit financially, it is just as wrong to steal music.


I will take Pro’s own definition of copyright: “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)” (emphases mine). The answer is found within the definition itself. The two words I would like to bring to your attention are reproduce and distribute. While it is perfectly legal for you to rip music to your computer’s hard drive or burn CD’s to archive in case the original is damaged or destroyed, it is not legal for you to reproduce it or distribute it. This includes giving it to your friends for free or using them on file sharing sites.


Additionally, it is also legal to give a CD you own to another friend, provided you don’t retain any other copies of that music (such as a burnt CD or ripped to your hard drive). Just like in the analogy of the car, that CD is yours to do with as you please. However, you cannot copy any of the music from that CD if you intend to get rid of it.


Internet piracy also reduces album sales [1]. This is why Napster was taken to court in 2003. By sharing files that were meant to be purchased, you are essentially stealing product.


Again, I thank Pro for the debate opportunity and look forward to his response.


[1] http://www.serci.org...

Debate Round No. 1
Kinger

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for taking on this debate, and wish them the best of luck!

I would first like to point out that in the digital age, music artists are making more money than ever [1], thus music artists should have little to complain about. Revenue from digital sales have been on the decline and incline for a while, but overall total revenue has been rising.

I would also like to point out that piracy has the ability to raise sales. One example is when comic book writer Steve Lieber's comic was put into PDF form and bootlegged on 4chan. Shortly after the bootlegging, his comic sales dramatically increased [2].

It is true, I can not legally copy a CD and give it to friends (I do believe I messed up in my original statement, and for that I apologize). However, just because something is illegal doesn't make it wrong. The founding fathers of the United States meeting secretly to discuss a revolution was illegal. It was illegal for African Americans to vote.

Pirating is also not equivalent to theft. When I steal something, it can not be returned to the owner, and value is lost. However, if I copy something, then no value is lost. For example, if I steal a car from you, then your car is gone, you have lost it. But if I use some sort of copy-machine on your car, and you keep your original car, then you lose nothing.

It is because Internet piracy does little actual financial harm, and because it is in fact not theft, rather just copying, that this action should be legal, not illegal.

I thank my opponent again for taking this debate, and await their response!

[1]http://torrentfreak.com...
[2]http://www.teleread.com...
KeytarHero

Con

Thank you, again, to my opponent and best of luck, as well.


It is true that revenue has increased since the invention of digital media, but this can be accounted for by at least two things: First, with the invention of a new way to purchase things, that’s going to naturally increase revenue rather than just having one method of purchasing product. Second, buying on-line is easier and cheaper (usually $1 per song, and $10 per album, as opposed to buying from the store which, unless it’s on sale, can run you about $18). However, this does not excuse breaking the law to get product for free. You might as well say bank robbery should be legal because banks pull in much more revenue than a gas station.


I would now like to respond to Pro’s second argument. He said, “I would also like to point out that piracy has the ability to raise sales. One example is when comic book writer Steve Lieber's comic was put into PDF form and bootlegged on 4chan. Shortly after the bootlegging, his comic sales dramatically increased.” Piracy may have the ability to raise sales, but it also has the ability to lower sales. Comic books are much cheaper than CD’s (comic books, as far as I know, typically run anywhere from $1 to $5, as opposed to digital albums ($10) and physical albums ($18)). Apart from that, if someone pirates music, they may realize they don’t like the album and decide not to purchase it. Or, since music has the propensity to be pretty costly, they may have to be very impressed by the music before they purchase it, whereas it may be good enough that they would purchase it if it were offered cheaper.


Regarding Pro’s third argument, I don’t believe the American Revolution and slavery are applicable analogies. It is true that what is legal is not always right and vice versa, however, the American Revolution and the end of slavery were about human rights. It was wrong to make Africans (and the other nationalities) slaves, and the American Revolution was begun to escape the tyranny of the British monarchy. It is not a basic human right to steal. Especially living in the United States (forgive me if you live outside the country), we live in a capitalist country. Many bands give away their music for free, but if a band tries to make a living with it and sells their music for product, they are perfectly within their right to do so, and you are not within your right to take it without paying for it.


Pirating is equivalent to theft. If you steal something from a store, provided you get away with it, you receive product for free and neither the store, nor the artists/producer responsible for creating the product, get paid. If you pirate music, you are taking music for free and neither a potential store where you would have purchased the music from nor the artist/producer responsible for creating the product, will get paid. Additionally, if you steal something from me, I can still get it back if you have a change of heart. It can still be returned to me, so the analogy fails in that respect, as well.


Not only is internet piracy against the law because it violates copyright (you cannot reproduce or distribute the music without permission or paying royalties), but it is the equivalent to stealing. Therefore, internet piracy should remain illegal and no one should be surprised if music companies or artists demand legal recompense for someone who commits the act.

Debate Round No. 2
Kinger

Pro

I would like to first point out that I would not say pirating music is like saying I should rob a bank; when you rob a bank you are putting people in danger, and usually more often than not, making people fear for their lives, while in pirating you are doing no such thing.

On the argument of pirating on raising and lowering sales, I would like to share one quote: There's no such thing as bad publicity. If I pirate the music of an artist, and I like them, the chances rise of me seeing them in concert or purchasing apparel (two things that can NOT be pirated). Now If I pirate the music of an artist and I do not like them, then I will surely feel satisfied that I did not waste my money, and can spend it elsewhere, perhaps on another artist. So pirating the music is like a preview of what I get. If the preview goes well, I get the actual thing. If it doesn't go well, I move on.

While my specif anologies of the American Revolution and slavery may have not been acceptable in the eyes of my opponent, the idea still stands; just because it's illegal does not make it wrong. Laws are meant to be challanged to be changed. Now as my opponent stated, some bands give away their music free, and usually this can cause a generous amount of good publicity for them, and lead to an increase in profit in non-piratable materials and services (shirts, concerts, posters, etc.). These non-pirateable materials will always be a source of revenue for bands as they can not be pirated. Now, if the band does not give away their music, they will still make money in the sales of the previous things mentioned.

I would like to make the argument once more that piracy is not equivalent to theft. If I steal something, again, the value is lost, and the producer has to make another copy as the product can not be returned; however when you make a copy of something no direct value is lost. The producer doesn't have to make more of the product to replace what is stolen. Prices of general goods are inflated because of shoplifting for example, because the producer has to reproduce what was taken so it can be resold. However, you do not see song prices on the inter (such as on iTunes) rising because there is no real physical product being stolen; only something being copied.

I thank my opponent for a good argument. Vote pro.
KeytarHero

Con

Seeing as though this is our last round, I will not present any new evidence since the Instigator will not be able to respond. I will simply rebut a few of his points here.

"...I would not say pirating music is like saying I should rob a bank..."

I didn't say it's as if you should, I was comparing the two. Saying pirating music is acceptable because now artists and everyone involved makes more money due to an additional medium to purchase music is like saying it should be acceptable to rob banks because they make more money than gas stations.

"So pirating the music is like a preview of what I get."

An illegal preview. If an artist previews their music on MySpace or another site, that's fine. Preview it. However, pirating music is illegal and if the artist doesn't want you to preview the music before you buy it, you have no right to. After all, that's what singles on the radio are for, to give you a taste of what's actually on the album.

"While my specif [sic] analogies of the American Revolution and slavery may not have been acceptable in the eyes of my opponent, the idea still stands..."

It's not just unacceptable in my eyes, it's unacceptable, period. Stealing (pirating) is not a human right. Living free is. That's what the end of slavery and the American Revolution were about.

"These non-pirateable materials will always be a source of revenue for bands as they can not be pirated."

Oh no? People sneak into concerts. That has the same effect as pirating music. T-shirts and other memorabilia can be stolen. That has the same effect as pirating music.

"I would like to make the argument once more that piracy is not equivalent to theft."

I have already shown that it is.

"Prices of general goods are inflated because of shoplifting for example, because the producer has to reproduce what was taken so it can be resold."

Yet the Instigator did not provide a link to back this up. I don't think this is true. Prices rise due to inflation because of supply and demand. I've never known any prices to inflate due to theft.

Again, I thank the Instigator for this argument, and you, the reader, for carefully considering the evidence and logic supplied here. I don't have to tell you how to vote.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 1 year ago
KeytarHero
Kronecker, "piracy is theft, therefore it's wrong" is not a circular argument.
Posted by ML 1 year ago
ML
The fact that "Copyrighted Material" is used in the question means that the software/music/video/etc has to be paid for by definition. Pirating is so by definition stealing, therefore being illegal. I believe the question is phrased wrongly: Should any material accessible online TO START WITH (meaning that it has not been extracted from anything such as a CD-ROM, DVD, and so on) be considered as 'Freeware'.
I just thought this would somehow raise another question, also reducing the 1st one to ashes. Sorry.
Posted by poorenglishspeaker 2 years ago
poorenglishspeaker
I can listen to my favorite musics by YouTube.That's why I don't have to buy them.
Posted by poorenglishspeaker 2 years ago
poorenglishspeaker
I can listen to my favorite musics by YouTube.That's why I don't have to buy them.
Posted by Irish92 2 years ago
Irish92
fact**
Posted by Irish92 2 years ago
Irish92
Just the face you used the term "pirating" says it all :)
Posted by Raisor 3 years ago
Raisor
"I don't believe theft was ever officially defined in this debate"

That is entirely true, which is part of why the debate doesnt have too much traction. You both kind of provide general examples of what is/isnt theft without giving a sound argument for what constitutes theft and why. However, out of your examples two different, blurry conception of theft arise. I took your interpretation of theft primarily from this:

"If you steal something from a store, provided you get away with it, you receive product for free and neither the store, nor the artists/producer responsible for creating the product, get paid."

This is the argument you keep returning to, and it locates the theft of music in lost revenue.

You cant just point to the definition of copyright as evidence that piracy is stealing. The debate is about whether copyright law should be changed, so essentially you are saying "look the law says piracy is theft" when the very debate resolution is "the law should not say that piracy is theft."
Posted by KeytarHero 3 years ago
KeytarHero
Actually, I don't believe theft was ever officially defined in this debate, but I would not define theft as taking something that doesn't belong to you, whether it's stealing it from a store (which would deprive the store and the musicians/producers of revenue) or stealing something from an individual which doesn't necessarily deprive them of revenue, but the did pay good money for the object stolen.

This is why I took time to use Pro's definition of copyright against him because the relevance was that according to copyright law, you don't have the right to reproduce or distribute song(s) or album(s) that belong to someone else, even if doing it for free. Perhaps this could have been made more clear.
Posted by Raisor 3 years ago
Raisor
Maybe its more that people ignore what is being said in round.

JoshBrahm said:

"I realize Con could have provided more research to show how much harm piracy does, but the degree of harm should not matter. If any harm is done, and the music owner's rights are being violated, than piracy shouldn't be allowed."

This ignores the arguments at play in round. Con's definition of theft is an act that deprives an owner of potential revenue. That means that the effects of piracy on revenue is relevant and Con has to show that piracy deprives revenue. In other words if Con needs to provide more research to show how much harm piracy does, Con hasnt shown that piracy meets the criteria of theft.

Or you have:

"con pointed out that piracy was theft"

where the reason for decision literally ignores the entire debate.
Posted by KeytarHero 3 years ago
KeytarHero
Raisor, which issues were people voting on that weren't brought up in-round?
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by KroneckerDelta 1 year ago
KroneckerDelta
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: First, I do not think this debate was over whether or not a) pirating is illegal or b) whether or not theft is always right/wrong. Because of the 2nd point, I think Con loses by making circular arguments, i.e. piracy is theft therefore it's wrong. The real question is in proving harm. Pro overwhelmingly showed that piracy does not cause much (if any) harm and, in fact, made arguments that it is actually good for the industry. Con was not able to present evidence that piracy actually is harmful.
Vote Placed by kohai 3 years ago
kohai
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Counterbombing to create a tie
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 3 years ago
quarterexchange
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: counterbombing deathbeforedishonor
Vote Placed by Deathbeforedishonour 3 years ago
Deathbeforedishonour
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Both sides were good, but pro did better job
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Your vote-bomb-fu is strong... but mine is... um... exactly as strong.
Vote Placed by JoshBrahm 3 years ago
JoshBrahm
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro compared the right to steal music to the right to live free. I realize Con could have provided more research to show how much harm piracy does, but the degree of harm should not matter. If any harm is done, and the music owner's rights are being violated, than piracy shouldn't be allowed. There are plenty of ways for musicians to offer previews of their music without losing money. In my opinion, this debate wasn't even close.
Vote Placed by detachment345 3 years ago
detachment345
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: con pointed out that piracy was theft and as a result, the company producing the materials being pirated was being robbed.
Vote Placed by baggins 3 years ago
baggins
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's case was that piracy is theft because it is illegal. Con should have shown that piracy hurts industry with help of data or an example. As such - the concept of loss to industry was just an assertion backed by outdated data - which was matched by Pro's assertion that it can benefit them as well.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: "Piracy may have the ability to raise sales, but it also has the ability to lower sales." - that is not much of a rebuttal Con. 3:2 Pro
Vote Placed by Raisor 3 years ago
Raisor
KingerKeytarHeroTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: There is a lack of clash on the competing claims of what constitutes stealing. Each side advocates a position but doesnt say why their position is better or what is wrong with the opposing position. It is then totally up to me to pick which one I prefer, and I prefer pro's standard for stealing in this round (more details why in comments).