August 29, 2008

Digital Sharing

This, as I see it, is the fundamental problem facing the current power structure (explained using adorable piggies).

(via eatliver)


Unknown said...

I think this diagram ignores what's really at issue—consent. Whether you want to make a distinction between theft or piracy because of the form of the transaction, it's still a transaction without consent. The owner/creator of whatever it is that is valued is given no compensation for that thing of value. And if the thing wasn't ascribed some value by the remover/copier, then they wouldn't bother removing/copying it in the first place.

Mauss said that reciprocity is the glue that holds society together. I think the real problem is that people only feel an obligation to reciprocate when they know they will have to deal with an Individual(s) again in the future. If you have no real sense of connection to other people (or a belief that they are also failing to reciprocate on some level, by say, ascribing too great a value to the thing you want), then ignoring your obligation to reciprocate becomes easy.

Kelsey Atherton said...

@Vanessa: good point, and the diagram does ignore that facet of the debate

What the diagram does do, and does really, really well, is showcase the different nature of the crime. Theft takes from one and gives to another; Piracy copies from one and gives to another. Both give without consent to another party. But one, superficially at least, hurts the target of the crime less: piracy doesn't deprive the owner of the original of their copy.

The laws problem has been treating making illegal copies as equally harmful as taking limited copies from rightful owners. It's still causes harm, but I think the difference is key, and without the distinction made it allows both those who pirate and those who are pirated from to act as though their responses are sane and legitimate, because the other side must obviously be crazy.

the unbeatable kid said...

i think that the idea of consent must be reexamined in the digital world. in the material world, when someone else is using one of my possessions, i lose the potential to use it myself. thus, others need to have my consent to use something that i own. that consent would also make me somewhat responsible for how you used that thing i gave you. I have first priority over my object called “rights”.

but, on the internet, we aren't living in a material world (and i'm not a material girl). i can use something that you own without compromising your ability to use it yourself. priorty for the purposes of use becomes irrelevant. Of course, priority for the purpose of creating meaning is something else. nevertheless, there are good reasons to reexamine the idea of consent and responsibility in the digital world.

reciprocity is another useful social concept that applies to digital interaction. first, i would say that most internet users are far from anonymous. many take great pains to establish and maintain a digital identity. second, the lone wolf data pirate is rare: most work in large networks with a mutual obligations to even the most anonymous users within their network. look at download upload ratios for example. third, i would make the argument that the content producers receive compensation in the form of prestige, respect, and other nonmaterial rewards. the internet is like a giant potlatch. those who create more, share more and gain more respect and a stronger identity than the others.

Unknown said...

Kelsey—Yes, the form of the transaction is important. You definitely make a good point.

Unbeatable—Prestige doesn't buy you a house. If you're producing content that people want that took you time, effort, and money to produce, then you should be compensated. Using music as an example, bands who want to record albums that actually sound good have to book studio time. And they have to pay for it. Even artists who are self-releasing their stuff.

I'm not entirely understanding what you mean by "priority for the purpose of use" v. "for creating meaning". If you created something, then it's yours because you created it. Not because you're using it. Are you saying you don't believe in intellectual property?

As a scientist, I expect to be cited if someone references my work or ideas. Also, as someone who publishes for no money or material compensation, I still recognize the importance of the journal that published my work getting compensated by charging for access (physical or digital) to my work. Because if they don't then they can't stay in business and my work wouldn't get published. And self-publication is not an appropriate option. Scientific work should be vetted in the peer-review process, as well as graded as to its significance within the body of scientific knowledge. Journals are a key part of that process.

I'm not arguing that how the music, publishing, or other industries, function today is successful or sustainable, and I have no problem with people downloading digital content. But I take issue with the idea that those who produce that content don't need to be materially compensated for the work that went into that production. It doesn't have to be money per say. If, say, I could exchange garden-grown vegetables for music, then that sounds good to me. Because music IS a material thing in that it's made by people who use instruments and have to live and breathe and eat. And computers and other electronics have to be manufactured, purchased, etc. We all still live in a material world, whether we like to think so or not.

Diggs said...

You are all dorks. And as Nelson from The Simpsons would say: Ha - Ha.