Downloading TV shows illegal? (in the US)

By thewoosterisroot ยท 32 replies
Jun 7, 2007
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  1. So does anyone have any clear law that actually states whether or not downloading poor quality, recorded off tv, tv shows is illegal? I've been reading around (even checked the MPAA site-ewwww) and couldn't find anything clear. Everyone has a different opinion. Anyone got some facts?

    Thanks guys!
  2. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    downloading any copyrighted material without payment in general, is illegal, unless you already own and have purchased a copy.
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Or, unless the copyright holder is actually giving away the thing for free.. (Otherwise, downloading virtually anything would be illegal)
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    If it is shown on broadcast OTA tv, ie - not cable, there is a good chance that the content is avaiable legally from the source (abc, cbs, nbc, fox) on their website.
  6. thewoosterisroot

    thewoosterisroot Topic Starter

    Not exactly the answer I was hoping for ;) But truth is truth. Hehe, alright, thanks guys! A little clarification never hurts.
  7. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,485   +45

    If you havnt bought a copy of the show yourself any type of copying is illegal. I think you're tryin to get around the truth.
  8. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    In the Centre Of The World you mean.. In many countries, it is legal to make private copies of works of art. (It is illegal to share that stuff to a wider audience of course)
  9. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

  10. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    The only confusing thing is that there are no clear leaders of the internet. This can cause many, many problems due to the laws of different countries :confused: . There should be one set of laws for the internet throughout the world, I think.
  11. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    And how would you enforce those laws? You would have to punish people in the real world, not the internet. And in the real world it is the countries' laws that apply .

    Say, I have sex with a 16-year-old in a country where this is legal. And then chat on the subject with the same 16-year-old on the internet (where the age limit may be 18 because the US is the Centre Of The World and all). I would be punished for the latter and not the former?
  12. IBN

    IBN TS Guru Posts: 487

    I second Nodsu
  13. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 228

    IP is really not that tricky, at least from a moral standpoint. Whether it is software, a book, a photo, a video, music, sculpture, a website, etc., the creator/owner of the IP should be compensated properly for the use of his/her work. It is also a no-brainer from a practical standpoint since it is unlikely that we would have so many cool products and/or choices were it not for properly compensating the creators of IP. Of course, the phrase 'the law is an ***' immediately comes to mind when anyone tries to parse the legality of using IP.
  14. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I can see this has evolved into a huge discussion. There's a whole realm of law on intellectual and property rights. Of course you need to be a lawyer, and I won't debase myself by becoming one. ;)
  15. nickslick74

    nickslick74 TS Booster Posts: 575

    Good way to put it!:D

    Nathan's original question doesn't seem to have a clear answer. I mean, you have VCR's, HTPC's, TiVO's, DVR's, Win MCE, etc... that all record tv for viewing later and are sold to the general public (yes I know that you pay for TiVO). So that would lead me to believe that you can record tv as long as you do not share it with anyone with out permission.

    But then with US copyright laws who knows?
  16. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    It seems as if everything contradicts itself, but somehow, they don't :suspiciou .
  17. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Who says what is "proper" compensation? Also, copyright does not mean authorship. A company may be making millions, while the original author may have just gotten his wee monthly salary and nothing more.

    So, say, there was a TV episode that was broadcast all over the nation and got 100 million "paid" views. How am I hurting the author or the copyright holder if I add 5 "unpaid" views to that? And how is it different from, say, watching cable at my friend's? Sure, he paid for his cable, but I and the other guests didn't. So we are stealing the TV episode, aren't we?!
  18. IBN

    IBN TS Guru Posts: 487

    I think this is an interesting topic. I am not a fan of copyright laws. Though the question does arise how would they make revenues if people are simply going to "steal"? Anyone got a take on this point?

    Obviously if there are a million paid users I don't see how companies would be hurt by copyright "infringement", as the profit margins of such companies are as wide as the distance between the earth and the sky.

    If people are selling copyright material as if its their own and making money out of it then I would say thats wrong though.
  19. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Look at it this way.. What would happen if all the entertainment companies went bankrupt?
    Do you think there would be no more music, movies, art, books, games?

    Nothing bad would happen. There would be new companies using different principles to operate. There would be thousands of independent artists with fresh ideas getting a chance now that the barrier of uptight corporate producers is gone. There would be artists who actually have control over their work instead of contracts that give everything to the mother company and a tiny percentage to the creative genius.
  20. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 228

    The marketplace, of course. The original author always has the recourse of making more money by going off on his own. Not likely, of course, because there is much, much more to making money than simply being creative. That is why entire industries have sprung up around creativity to help with boring things like marketing/promotion, accounting, distribution, etc.

    Using that logic, I think that we should rob a bank. After all, with all of their trillions of dollars in assets, how will a few hundred thousand taken from them hurt anyone? The cable TV analogy doesn't work, either. Cable providers charge based upon an average viewing household in their market and anticipate (and allow) such viewership.

    Stealing is still stealing...
  21. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    I don' think he was really saying that is the way he feels about it. I think he was just throwing out another "what if" variable.
  22. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    There is no such thing as "marketplace". It's a fantasy of some loony economics professors. In real world we have legislation, monopolies, psychological pressure, NDAs, imprisoning contracts, misinformation, FUD and ignorance.

    That money I did not rob is indeed an asset. A TV show I did not download is not an asset. A book that I did not buy can still be sold. A DVD I did not rent was rented by someone else.

    OK. And how much do my 5 "unpaid" views skew that average that was anticipated for tousands of households? Actually, if I just choose not to go to my friend's house tonight and download+watch the episode later on.. The total viewership is exactly the same, is it not?

    As I mentioned above, this thing is legal in many countries. Actually, in this case "stealing" is what some collection of corrupt officials decided to write in some law somewhere.
  23. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 228

    Well, I suspect that this thread is going nowhere and will shortly be closed, but I will reply one more time:

    As someone who has spent his entire career developing new markets for new technology, let me state unequivocally that the marketplace does exist. Of course, it exists in conjunction with all of the other social and political forces peculiar to the human condition, but it does exist and has a significant influence on how business is transacted.

    Try telling that to the TV producers, actors, screenwriters, etc., with a straight face...

    Just because the mathematics are complicated and need to be computed over a large demographic, it does not mean that they cannot be quantified. If your friend made a point of inviting one hundred of his nearest and dearest friends to his house every night and those one hundred friends never felt the need to pay for cable TV, themselves, it would have an effect on the cable provider and the rates would go up slightly for everyone else. If your friend built an ampitheater in his backyard and had ten thousand people show up every night, the effect would be even stronger. And what if your friend decided to charge admission to his viewings? Would that be okay since there is no change in viewership?

    But, since just about all officials are corrupt (we certainly agree on that point), this argument can be made about any law, including bank robbery.

    I have enjoyed this exchange, by the way. Good to think about something else for a change during the workday.
  24. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    OK. And now I tell you. Drop everything you are doing and make your fortunes in something completely different. You are not allowed to use any ideas or methods you have developed this far, because these belong to me.

    Okay.. I just did not download the lates Britney Spears album. How much money did that save her?

    But that is not the case, is it? And even if it was, so what? It is a flaw in the cable company's business model. (Besides, I am paying to the same cable company for my internet connection, so no money lost :) )

    No. There are written laws and unwritten laws. Real theft and murder are disallowed in every culture. It is the very essence of civilisation. No one would think to make muder legal (although some countries do have death penalty, which is nothing but licensed murder).

    There would be no civilisation if copyright was inherent to humankind. If every song or scientific work or an idea was "copyrighted" and people obeyed that, we would still be somewhere in the dark ages burning the bard from the next village because he dared to sing a verse made up by our village singer.
  25. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    Wonderfully put !

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