Laws and Knowledge

google ebook torrent, sort by size…

I’m looking at numbers in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. 1100+ computer science books, entire medical libraries, biology, physics, math… You really have to read the titles to get an idea of the sheer magnitude of this. Most libraries come nowhere near this sheer concentration of specialized information, and it’s all here, less than a few clicks away.

Be aware though, if you actually go through and download any of these libraries, you are likely breaking some laws, many of which were recently created.

We live in a democracy, we have a say in the laws. Every law created, changed and amended can have far-reaching repercussions, many of which are difficult to comprehend the magnitude of. But through discussion and debate, we can find what is the best course of action.

And so, I would like to ask the CD community, as citizens of a democracy… Are these laws just? In what ways do they benefit us? Harm us? What are their pros and cons? Essentially, what are your opinions on all this?


Note to Moderators: I understand if this thread gets closed, this is quite a flammable issue. But I would ask that it remain open as I highly respect the opinions voiced here and I do not know of many place where mature people can discuss this openly.

Disclosure: I am quite biased on this issue. But, I recognize that seeing things through many views and perspectives increases understanding on the complexities of an issue, and so I would encourage people to keep an open mind and voice their opinions freely.

Ok, Chris, start with a primer. I did a Google search and checked a wiki page or two and I still don’t have a clue. What is a torrent? Are these starting points of online databases? What is its value to you or me? What laws impede their use?

A torrent is a pointer file of sorts that you use to download larger files, such as ebooks, music or movies. They are largely used in the distribution of copyrighted music and other things, which breaks recent laws such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998.

As far as I’m concerned the goal of civilization is to… well, help civilization advance. The restriction of information and helpful knowledge impedes this goal, which is a moral crime in and of itself. However, its an endless cycle. A scientist has to pay to get a starting point (whether it be ridiculously overpriced tuition, or reference books, whatever) so he believes it to be correct to charge other people for his findings.

Check this page out, its aimed towards computers but can be applied to other things: The Hacker Ethic

Mike - your comments were very helpful, thank you for the intro.

Chris - I think it is important to have more specifics on the laws an regulations you are referring to. Mike mentioned the copyright act of 1998, which certainly cannot be considered recent.

Are you basically asking us if PIRACY is acceptable if you can somehow meet the test that the information is for the betterment of society?

Are you limiting your ethical debate to torrents or extending it to unauthorized file downloads of any nature?

And most importantly, with the internet making so much information available to the public masses, and no longer just available to academia, how can we ever consider being asked to follow copyright rules, either on paper or electronic, a restriction of information?

Need a resource? Go to the library! Most college libraries and many public libraries are linked to one another with the ability to provide you with almost any source within a few days or hours. Legally.

So my two cents is this…pay the $10 to see Pirates of the Caribbean tonight, or wait the 6 months until it is out on DVD and check it out from your library for free then. In the middle of making the greatest discovery of medical history and your need Dr. Soandso’s research anthology? Check with your local college to see if they will get it for you, or call him (or her) up and ask, or order the e-book online and pay for it. And when you publish your ground-breaking discovery you can give credit where credit is due, and the world will be a better place! (Climbs off soap box…)

It is a law for a reason, if you don’t like it go find a lobbyist group.

But your asking for people’s opinions, So ok here is my opinion. Just an FYI usually when I give my opinion I am usually a little harsh, don’t take it personally.
Yea the law is deffinately just. If you go spend your time making music or writing a book are you gonna just give it away for free? No!!! That is why they sell it. Sure they may be “greedy” but if you don’t wanna spend the money then don’t.

Your paying for a person’s hard work. For many people’s hard work. People have to make the plastic, make the ink, make the graphics, for the CD casing. But if if you want just the free audio, then people have to make the recording equipment, and people have to do the marketing, people have to make the materials for the equipment, make the software, make the electrical components, design it, and put it all together. And people have to make the machines that put it all together, and make those parts, and design those, and people have to pay for those skills and colleges have to pay the profs and profs have to pay for their college, and pay for their textbooks, which pays for people to write them make the ink, and print them and make that equipment.

So by everyone getting free music to world will go into dissarray.

Not really but how would you like it if a neighbor came over and jsut took your computer because they didn’t feel like buying one. You wouldn’t.


PS - if you still don’t understand you can send me your computer for free then see how it feels. :stuck_out_tongue:

Google Books

I’ve used this several times. Any public domain book is free and you can read the entire thing, but a book that isn’t public domain allows you to search the entire book and read selected materials. There’s not really a need to buy books from that. Just search them first, then select the ones that fit your criteria, and finally find them at a library.

But then I wouldn’t have a computer anymore… when I download someones book they still have their writings.

Now if you asked for the exact specs of my computer and then re-created it using your own resources (eg: bandwith) I’d be all for it.

2 cents:

Laws are made for a reason. A good majority of them have good reason, and are therefor just. Others make people wonder “what were they thinkin’?” and therefor not just at all.

As far as what is being debated here, which I could probably assume is on copyrighted material with valuable information, art, music, etc. I am pretty split on the issue. There is some material, which is spread through mass media enough to not need the free marketing potential of piracy, that doesn’t need to be freely downloaded. Save up some change and buy it. Other material is made by people with such low budgets or lack of popularity that the best way to make it even possibly profitable is through the net.

In either case, I believe the best possible scenario is to serve up the best of both worlds: do some free marketing and sacrifice some material for spreading through the net, and profit off of even better material by selling it. I think the music industry learned from its major error when sales plummeted after they got the RIAA to crack down on so many people: they cracked down on what could have been free marketing, and thus paid in sales losses. (check me if I am wrong, but I do remember a story like this a long while back)

The benefits of these laws don’t seem apparent until one steps back and looks at the big picture. We could offer everything for free, but then that would only mean the money would stop flowing, and just like bodies die when blood stops flowing, so will the economy, and thus a depression. It is really that simple. Yes, we should have free stuff, but not so much where the economy just halts due to the lack of money flow.


If I understand the discussion correctly, I would say that these laws are just because they protect the work of the author. On the other hand, why is it availible to us if it is illegal? How can you obtain that information without breaking the law? Many laws are made without citizens like us CD users being made aware of them. Very interesting topic, thanks for bringing it up!:]

Thanks for taking the time to respond people!

I’m grateful that people have taken time out of their days to discuss this, and I’d like to elaborate a little more on what I’m saying…

Most of the existing copyright related laws we have are based on the idea of a triad model between author, publisher, and public. The author would spend a great deal of effort and energy in creating a work. The author would then be reimbursed for their efforts by the publisher, who would then go out and sell that work and be (hopefully) reimbursed by the public.

The author would always need the publisher because they did not have the ability or the resources to distribute their work (they spent all their time creating it), and the public would always need the publisher because otherwise there was no way for them to access the author’s work.

However, with the advent of computers and the internet, we have run into a problem. To a great extent, the publisher is no longer needed. With this new technology, authors have direct access to the public. They can have their work distributed en mass to millions overnight if there is an interest.

Distribution costs? 0$

Publishers and distributors are going nuts about this. On one hand, this means that their operating costs drop through the floor, but now that anyone can be a distributer with almost no effort on their part, they have a lot more competition, which means that their days are numbered…

Easiest solution? Make it illegal to compete.

And really, I don’t blame these organizations for doing so, it’s their livelihood at stake after all. But I question whether or not this is the best thing for everyone, not just the publishers and distributors (who are so immanently featured in the copyright law debate.)

What’s frustrating to see is when these organizations muddy the waters of the debate by equating an economic issue of concern on the basis of moral issue, which it is not. And then to criminalize competition on the basis of a legal monopoly on something as vague in nature as an idea, and every inspiration that can come from that idea…

It just worries me.


Our constitution says that congress has the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

What that seems to me as saying is that when those “exclusive right(s)”, (read: copyrights), are only valid insofar as they promote progress… I would challenge that the current laws created under the authority of this part of the constitution are antiquated to a dying business model, hindering progress and should be reevaluated.

Your thoughts?