Thoughts on legal file sharing

When you own a book, a tape or a disc, you may give it away to anyone.

In fact, back in the school days we had like one cassette of the current movie circulating among the children. In a matter of weeks everyone has seen the moving, while only one VHS tape was purchased. Sharing was an important part of the relationships, also making the kids have the same common knowledge, in this case a book or a tape, so they had more to communicate about.
Then video game cartridges and music CDs came along, which are the type of things you usually enjoy for a prolonged period of time, and not just one evening, the person who gave you the media had to play or listen to something while you are busy with his or her stuff. Here came an even bigger concept of exchanging cartridges and CDs, forcing one class to mingle with another one for a wider change base. So the common interest – in this case music or video games, was the initial spark for future socializing.
Now, that we are grown ups, this exchange is not gome. Many colleagues still borrow movies from each other, and those who are still into gaming or have kid, change game discs at specialized forums.
This has a very practical common sense. Except collectors, no one really wants to watch the same movie, read the same book or listen each and every song they own. Most works are one timers. Even the collectors don’t have time to watch every movie they own, they get theirs kicks from the mere fact of owning. The media industry makes many of the products fast moving and basically, disposable, as 90% of movies are not worth watching
and you normally realize that after the first 20 minutes and sit through the rest of the movie only because you paid for it, and most of video games are just clones of each other – only count the endless 3rd person fantasy beat-em-ups of the next gen consoles. So many people exchange discs they are done with, and even more would do that if not the trouble of actually finding and meeting the perfect exchange match.
This difficulty could be overcome with current advances of digital distribution, while simultaneously keeping the sharing legal. What differs giving a paper book to a friend compared to making a copy of the file containing it?
Yes, you don’t have the access to the paper book anymore. So the difference between true sharing and piracy is that true sharing doesn’t create extra copies, the same media is passed to another owner.
So, to make sharing of digital files you own legal, you must not have the copy of the file after the exchange is complete. So, a legit file sharing service should be file exchanging service. You send your file to another person and delete it, and the other person sends you his file and deletes it.
No additional copies are made in the process. To avoid illegal distribution charges, all files must be exchanged at 1:1 ratio, despite their market price.
With the advances of the cloud storage, this process could be made convenient and seamless. Say you have a collection of legally purchased mp3s at your cloud music storage. Obviously, you can listen only to one of them at a time, and you hardly listen to the music 24/7. If you have 1000 songs, you can simultaneously listen to only one. If someone else spots a song in the other 999 songs of you collection that he wants to listen, he just exchanges it for any of the songs he owns, enjoys it, and then the exchange is reversed.
Or the change may be made permanent, if both parties are satisfied with the results.
This is especially true with bands like Metallica, which release crappier and crappier albums for the last 25 years, with only one track on the whole list you would actually listen to, let along enjoy. That means that you could use the rest of the tracks to exchange to other songs you really like.
This is like living in a big dorm where all the tenants decided to join their CD collections to form a single rack. With recent advances in remote storages, all portable, car and stationary players could be connected to such a virtual global songs library, where exchanges are made seamlessly and at an instant. This is not fantasy – that is exactly the mechanism stock, commodities and other electronic exchanges have been successfully using for years. Traders get and dispose of stock they don’t need
several times a day, and modern high frequency trading mechanisms allow to make several exchanges in a fraction of a second!
Of course there may be higher demand for a particular song or movie at times, but this will make some people buy more legal copies and pour them to the system. Like if you have a large family, you may used to get several copies of the same album, like a tape for the car and a CD for the home stereo.
The concept is the same. Some may stupidly call this communism, showing their illiteracy. If sharing is communism, then borrowing books for free from a library is communism.
If exchange is communism, than the very essence of capitalism – the stock exchange – is communism.
Of course, the record companies are the ones who support this communism theory. Mostly because they are so corrupt by this profit, profit, and even more profit idea, that we have what we have: shitty copycat games, pointless movies, stupid books and commercial music. 95% of modern media is
disposable and not worth buying.
And you know what? You don’t actually buy you music and books and movies from iTunes or Amazon or any other store that offers digital downloads.
Yes, you make a purchase and own nothing. According to their TOS, EULAs and other such documents, you can’t give or sell your digitally downloaded content. That means, they practically lend you a copy. The licence is for you only, no one else can use it. It is not clear what will happen to all you legal downloads after your death, so if you have plans of passing all that terabytes of porn to your grandchildren, you’d better mention hard copies in your will.
That is exactly why all online interactions require a pass code. Apart from selling more copies, as each player must have his own one to play online, even if you own a disc, the companies lure you to connect to their network by offering some multiplayer goodies. That it because the physical game disc is a product,
regulated by state property laws, like everything else. But connecting to a network is a service, thus allowing the companies to impose any conditions they want, without any feedback from you. It’s basically an ultimatum: either agree to our terms, or don’t play online. There’s no alternative.
Sony is one notorious example of such actions.
This is the area where change is required. As all customers are treated as pirates by the record companies, book and film industry claiming that making copies is basically stealing a physical object, then legislation must be made to really give the digital downloads all the properties of real goods. When this is done, legal file exchange will be possible.
However, keeping in mind all the corruption, which for some reason is called lobbying, as if the new politically correct term gives any decency to the act, it’s probably not when the laws are made”, but if.

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