Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Debate: Part 3 - Affirmative 2

Affirmative 2
From Carolyn Dougherty

There is nothing simple and clear cut when it comes to regulating and policing internet piracy. Both sides of this argument agree that the current methods being used to hunt down and prosecute individuals who are downloading music illegally are flawed and ineffective. The difference in philosophies in this debate lies in why and for what purpose do the laws need to be changed, who will benefit from these changes, and how will these changes be monitored and enforced.

Daniel admits that the RIAA's current methods are "failing and backward", but he also argues that to take the RIAA out of the process because they represent "almost the entirety of the music industry", would be detrimental. But, as Alex stated, the money the RIAA is receiving from fines impugned on those who are caught downloading illegally is going into the RIAA's coffers, not to the artists as repayment for copyright royalties. The issue at hand here is not about artists not being paid for their intellectual property, the issue is about the legalities of copying and sharing such IP.

Daniel claims that the populace should be provided with better alternate choices for downloading IP, in and effort to stop them from downloading things at no charge. According to The Boston Globes Staff Writer Alex Beam, on November 18th 2008, the RIAA has sent out over 30,000 letters to individuals and families demanding payment for illegal downloading. These numbers indicate that there are a great number of people who are totally fine with the quality and avenues for downloading now. The problem does not lie in product availability or quality. The problem is two fold and as Alex pointed out, the issue lies in the definitional confines of internet piracy and the unlawful means used for tracking and prosecuting illegal downloader's.

Daniel asserts that changing the definitions of piracy is a poor idea; claiming that the name assigned to a person or act can have a powerful impact on a persons perceptions. Using the examples of "freedom fighter" and "terrorist" when speaking of a gun-toting individual and how the average citizen would react quite differently to that person depending on the label assigned is and ineffective extreme example. Illegal downloader's or "internet pirates" are not a physical threat, and the public in for the most part, does not reel from the stigma of being labeled as "pirates." In an article published July 28th 2007 by Fred Reed of the Washington Post, Reed claims that the labels are not working to deter illegal downloading largely because the public doesn't care, much like illegal drinking during prohibition. Today, countless people smoke marijuana, and it seems that on that front it is only law enforcement who cares, so too internet piracy. Re-defining piracy is not going to change the amount of downloading that is taking place, but it will serve to eliminate the unlawful witch hunts that are currently in place.

In the redefinition of the word "piracy", addressing the issue of "for what purpose" are people downloading is an important factor. In large part, the majority of the populace who are utilizing p2p file sharing is doing it for personal use, not for resale or monetary gain. As Alex pointed out earlier, copying music or intellectual property for personal use is not illegal. Therefore, how a person gains access to that property, in addition to their original purchase, should not be considered illegal. The availability to download on the computer, then burn to a CD or personal listening device is a perk that our current technology affords us as consumers. Staff writer Mark Fisher of the Washington Post, in an article printed on December 30, 2007, sites a case against Jeffery Howell of Scottsdale Arizona, in which Howell is being sued for loading more than 2,000 songs from his personal music collection to his PC. Lawyers are arguing and citing a series of court cases over the last few decades that that" found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to time-shift TV programs; that is, to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording".

Implementing these definitional changes will have minimal financial demands and the as we are living in a global universe these days, the World Trade Organization is the ideal agent for implementing these changes in the laws. Daniel argues that the ISP's and the record companies are specifically engineered to change and adapt quickly, but as implementers of the change they are too close to the issue at hand. The advantages/disadvantages of the change give record companies a bias that cannot be overlooked, and a third party organization such at the WTO is ideal to monitor and oversee these changes worldwide. The RIAA has proven time and again that they are too close the issue to provide clear insight, as shown in their lawsuit against a disabled single mom, Tammy Anderson, who purportedly downloaded gangster rap songs to her home computer. Iain Thompson of the San Francisco Times reported ruling in an article on August 18, 2008, where Andersen's lawyers were awarded costs and interest by a US Federal Court, totally more than $100,000.

This argument that where our music comes from does matter, as Daniel asserts, is relative. There are many people who truly do not care, as long as they get the songs that they are looking for. Providing a means to download music and other IP's legally and without threat of prosecution is the basis of this argument, and in doing so also establishing a method for compensating the artists for their art.

Faris' response - Negation 2

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