Killing vs. Copying

Posted 24 May 2002 at 16:45 UTC by vicious Share This

Which is worse, killing a person, or copying the newest Metallica CD? Given where we seem to be heading in US legislation, it seems the latter must be much worse a crime.

Imagine how you do both. To kill a person, you can say, take a knife and stab him (or her). You could also take a gun, you could run the person over with a car, put some drain cleaner in his drink, or perhaps drown him in a bathtub. Now one thing to note that all the things you need to kill a person are readily available. A knife, a gun, a car, drain cleaner, bath tub are all easy to get. Well perhaps guns are harder then the rest, but possible.

Now imagine you'd like to copy the CD. Well, you might need some software to rip and burn the CD. Aaahhh! Now we are getting into what is to become illegal territory. Obviously, copying CDs must be a far worse crime then killing a person, since we want to make it harder even to get the tools to do it. Even though there are legal ways to use software for copying CDs, the crime of copying a copyrighted CD illegally must be so bad that we must sacrifice our rights for the legal use and ban such software entirely.

Guns have a similar problem, there are a lot of legal uses, and then a lot of illegal uses, such as killing someone. But it seems that here the illegal use isn't so bad that we'd want to ban guns. It seems very cynical to say this is because dead people don't have enough lobby money in Washington. I mean this is a democracy right? We pass laws on behalf of all the people. We do not give more power to certain people or institutions. We did away with all this long time ago when we overthrew the kings and monarchs right? We got rid of all the nobility, and people with inherited by god. Well I do argue here as both a Czech and someone living in USA, since both are republics and democracies. Or at least they pretend to be.

Now I'm not advocating making guns illegal. I own several guns. I like to go target shooting. That's a completely legal use of guns. I don't carry them around loaded, I don't go rob stores with them, nor do I go and kill random people with them. I use them solely for target shooting. Why should the fact that some idiot uses a tool to do something stupid impede my rights?

Same thing with copying music. Why should the fact that some people violate the fair-use policy impede on my rights to copy music. And same thing with anything that is usable for both legal and illegal uses. A cooking knife can be used for both cooking or robbing people on a bus. Does that make it bad to own a cooking knife?

OK, I know. Let's take away all the dangerous things away from people. Let's stick everyone in a nice room, let's put a big screen TV in there which would be pay-per-view only. Let's also put a camera in each home, to make sure nobody dares to copy any of this on some other media. Now let's rename the government/media conglomeration to "Big Sister." Oh, wait ... I'm getting ahead of myself, it's not yet 2084 ...

Metallica CDs, posted 24 May 2002 at 16:47 UTC by vicious » (Master)

Just to pre-empt any such comments: Yes, I believe listening to, copying or selling recent Metallica CDs should be a crime. But that's somewhat beside the point.

down that path..., posted 28 May 2002 at 22:21 UTC by splork » (Master)

wait for megacorp to pay congress classify tools potentially usable for piracy as a munition then try and get them legalized in the US under the right to bear arms. (it wouldn't work, they'd be classified as automatic weapons of mass destruction ;)

Apparent not just with tools, either, posted 30 May 2002 at 17:07 UTC by Nygard » (Journeyer)

In the U.S., you can also look at penalties to see which crime is considered worse. Under current law, you can do more time for writing a piece of software than you can for 2nd degree homicide.

That's not just CD or DVD copying software, either. Writing a virus, which kills exactly no one brings harsher penalties than vehicular manslaughter, which kills thousands of people every year.

Computer virus kills no-one?, posted 5 Jun 2002 at 07:06 UTC by gus3 » (Observer)

Having just had a family member in the hospital, I have no difficulty imagining a reasonable scenario in which a Windows virus kills someone. A virus on a central server, a reboot, a cross-linked file, and my mother's records get confused with someone else's. Instead of vicodin for the pain in her leg, she's sent to the O/R to have her gall bladder removed.

Unlikely? I hope so. Unreasonable? Well.......

I believe virus writers should be punished, as they incur monstrous costs in lost data and recovery/reconstruction time. This lost data and system downtime *can* result in loss of life. But ripping a CD to offload to a Rio MP3 player? Come on, guys.

As the MPAA and the RIAA (and let's not forget the BSA) try to create a public hysteria over a perfectly legal activity (the duplication of purchased, copyrighted works for personal use), they are finding that the availability of fact stymies them at every turn. The right of first purchase, the calls for reform in the US PTO, fighting IP/patent expansions in Europe, are all more real now in the public consciousness than any other time for the past 100 years. If anything, we have Metallica v. Napster and Disney v. Johansen to thank. In the meantime, I'm more than happy not to give my business to Disney, Metallica, Lucas, et al.

unfamiliarity breeds contempt, posted 12 Jun 2002 at 23:43 UTC by binaryfoo » (Master)

it comes down to how scared the public can get over one crime versus another. we are so desensitized (via our choices of media (movies, tv, news, etc)) that we immediately grab the hottest potatoe on our collective conscious (hackers, and the unspeakable damage they can do). truth be told, most people don't know what hackers can and can't do, so it's "hang em all!" it's classic witch-burning, fear-of-the- unknown.

while it's true that computer failures could cause catastrophic damage, who is really responsible for these systems? when all it would take is some simple preventative measure to combat the issue. why do we leave our networks open for script-kiddies and cry foul when we notice that the system has been compromised? because it comes down to laziness, and it's easier to make a law and punish people than it is to think about these systems critically and protect them.

The wrong way, once again, posted 8 Nov 2002 at 09:45 UTC by realblades » (Journeyer)

Having just had a family member in the hospital, I have no difficulty imagining a reasonable scenario in which a Windows virus kills someone. A virus on a central server, a reboot, a cross-linked file, and my mother's records get confused with someone else's. Instead of vicodin for the pain in her leg, she's sent to the O/R to have her gall bladder removed.

That is clearly a problem in that system and fault primarily of the idiots putting in such a system more than of the virus writer. Yes, writing of viruses (damnit) should be made illegal but not because of completely brain-dead systems being used.

Once there's a system in place in which it is impossible to get active code inside from any outer source other than administrators' software upgrades, then you can start seeing if there are outside threats to the system (techical, and especially human).

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