Jerry February 1, 2008 3:38 PM

Apparently “Illegal Downloding” is free… but that cracked version of Office 2007 that kid is running is missing spell-check.

Bystander February 1, 2008 4:07 PM


Yes, file sharers run the risk of prosecution but does anybody know of any cases in which a downloader has been prosecuted?

defcon February 1, 2008 4:15 PM

As far as I know years ago you could run a ftp server and have an elaborate disclaimer to avoid prosecution. Is this still possible?

How does someone legally share files that may be “illegal” as the media/copyright companies call it?

gopi February 1, 2008 4:27 PM

@defcon: I’ve seen the disclaimers you refer to. I’ve never heard of them being tested in court, but I’ve seen good explanations of why they won’t work.

I don’t think an NDA and sworn statement you aren’t a police officer will protect drug dealing. Remember that the courts are the ones that enforce contracts, and can choose not to enforce for reasons including public policy considerations. Being guilty of a crime can make it hard to enforce agreements related to it. ‘Unclean hands’ is the term for that I believe.

Nostromo February 1, 2008 4:48 PM

You know what worries me? The upcoming “War on illegal downloading”.

In the last 20 years, as we all know, the politicians (of both parties) have pretty much fed the Bill of Rights through the shredder. Lately they’ve used the “War on terrorism” as an excuse, but they got momentum from the “War on Drugs”. We don’t know whether the “War on terrorism” has had any effect on terrorism because terrorist events are low-probability anyway. We do know what effect the “War on Drugs” has had on drug availability and consumption: zilch, none, nada.

It’s not difficult, then, to predict that the upcoming “War on illegal downloading” will have zero lasting effect on illegal downloading. But I also predict that we’re about to lose a bunch more civil liberties when it gets going.

Matt from CT February 1, 2008 4:55 PM

Of course illegal downloading needs to stop.

Only videos from known, good corporate citizens streamed from their servers should be allowed.

Otherwise, even the NSA’s resources to the tap the internet will be choked trying to find infomation steganographicaly concealed in millions of multigigabyte high definition videos.


Anonymous February 1, 2008 6:13 PM

@Kurt McKee: Flickr only requires (well, asks for) links to the photo page if you EMBED the image file that’s hosted on Flickr.

Of course, it’s still nice to do so, anyway.

Jack C Lipton February 1, 2008 8:02 PM

The punishment for illegally downloading Microsoft software is that you may be forced to use/keep it.

Jerry February 2, 2008 1:56 AM

@HAHAHA, YEA! Remember hotline? Classic.

You make me want to dig up my old trusty 33k6… Remember Caracho?

hdh February 2, 2008 5:14 AM

I first thought the TPB poster was posted before the other ones. But reading the comments here made me understand, and feel way better towards Schneier.

FWIW, that photo is “© All rights reserved”, not cc-by-*, so no attribution is needed. And woe to people who downloaded that image.

mace February 2, 2008 6:01 AM

Chairman and chief executive of IFPI John Kennedy in the BBC story linked in comment #2: “The operators of The Pirate Bay have always been interested in making money, not music.”

Is he raving mad? Surely either that, or he’s just plain lying; he must know better than that. Now which is worse? Do we prefer to run our politics based on mad people or lying people?

Arturo Quirantes February 2, 2008 6:39 AM

That depends on what “illegal downloading is” In several European countries, law allows for the so-called “private copy”, which is the one you make for yourself on a non-for-profit basis. As a compensation, authors receive money from several sources (like a levy on all kinds of digital storage media, which is highly unpopular but there it is).

Several judges in Spain have thus concluded that people who download material for their own use can do so legally, as long as they don´t profit from it.

Nevertheless, our RIAA wants to have the pie and eat it, too: they get lots of money from the digital levy, yet claims that the “private copy” is the one you make from the original you already bought (which is NOT what the law says).

In other countries, like the UK, law does not allow private copy, so downloading is considered an unlawful action. Still, it´s the judges who must state so.

Ronald van den Heetkamp February 2, 2008 8:42 AM

For what it’s worth, I guess they better stated:

“Think uploading is free?”

because downloading is legal, whereas uploading isn’t. anyway just buy your favorite music you tossers! 😉

oneonezero February 2, 2008 10:09 AM

The two ads against illegal downloading are for real ?
I do not live in the US, but those ads make me feel like if i buy music from those people i am bending to some sort of “legal” racket.

unary February 2, 2008 10:11 AM

$600 per quarter for my broadband link
$300 per quarter for increasing storage requirements
~$40 per quarter in electricity directly attributable to the puters…..
who said anything about free?

HAL February 2, 2008 11:00 AM

Being poor should not mean that you don’t deserve to communicate. I’m not poor, but there is a lot of software I just can’t afford. Companies like Google are giving away software, while Microsoft wants hundreds of dollars for a program. Software can be helpful, so high prices limit the person that can’t afford the tools. That is why Google will continue to grow. Entertainment will follow the ad growth model.

MikeA February 2, 2008 12:08 PM

The War on Drugs may not have had any effect on consumption, but by limiting availability to those who play the game with the authorities, it has kept the trade very profitable. Cynics may conclude that this was the actual purpose.

Me Us February 2, 2008 1:33 PM

Considering the people who run TPB are Swedish, their spellcheck probably doesn’t do English very well.

Esurnir February 2, 2008 2:11 PM

@Bystander: Nowadays almost every downloader is also a sharer. The most popular protocole is bittorrent and for it’s efficiency the downloaders also upload their part even during download, to make other downloader download part you don’t already have, hence augmenting the download speed.

Sedgequill February 2, 2008 2:40 PM

I’m all for protecting intellectual property, be it in digital form or not, as long as the protective measures are legal, fair, and ethical. If protective measures are less successful than hoped for, as is currently the case for many owners, the solution is not to adopt or support measures that encroach upon constitutional or statutory rights of consumers, or that attempt to discourage, preempt, or punish fair use.

Miguel Sanchez February 3, 2008 6:20 AM

I do not think the term “illegal download” (or downlod if you prefer) is appropriated.

I do agree that sometimes it can be claimed that certain user did download certain contents he did not have the legal right to do so.

But as someone already pointed out, even in that case, the download is not the illegal action but the fact that somebody else is “serving” this contents without authorization.

That is why the terms like “pirate” and “illegal downloads” are more of language war that RIAA and the like are pushing on the public. The more they succeed on us using these terms the more valid their claims will look to the public. I for one, refuse to accept those terms (piracy use to involve ships on the high seas, didn’t it?).

Frank Ch. Eigler February 4, 2008 6:51 AM

Bruce, perhaps you should come out of the one-word joke closet and say outright your opinion on illegal downloading.

cdmiller February 4, 2008 3:10 PM

Hah, better disable the browser cache, otherwise you might commit an expensive “illegal downlod”.

wm February 5, 2008 4:23 AM

@Miguel Sanchez: “piracy use to involve ships on the high seas, didn’t it?”

That is indeed the original meaning, but the copyright-related meaning seems to be very well established as well. Since 1701, according to this site: . (And I’ve seen other web sites that give similar timescales, though I’ve never looked it up in an actual book.)

Required disclaimer:
The views expressed above are entirely those of the writer and do not represent the views, policy or understanding of any other person or official body.

Phil February 5, 2008 3:39 PM

In this modern day and age, the quantity of media you consume should not be limited by your revenue. I spend 15$ a month every single month on buying drm-free music though I download way more than that. Do I feel guilty ? NO.. But someone who always download and pays nothing should do his math.. Artists need to get paid at some point. I’m doing my part and I’m consuming just as much as I want.

not_the_riaa February 15, 2008 11:36 AM

The Flickr photo is of the dorm wall of a freshman at DePaul University. The RIAA posters presumably came from his work study in the university computer lab: “Work consists of sitting at a desk for 8 hours making sure no one comes in here and tries to jack a computer or looks at porn basically. But it pays well. That’s all I care.”

More importantly, did he create the TPB poster himself? If so then DePaul may need to look at its grading scale, as this student got an A in English 103.

Actually, it’s kinda nice to see this guy blogging about having meaningful conversations with friends, being excited about his classes and feeling relieved to be doing better than in high school. (And using TPB “BECAUSE ITUNES SUCKS”.)

And the RIAA wants people like him heavily fined or incarcerated? Seems a tad disproportionate to me.

Kai November 17, 2008 1:38 PM

@Nick Cocchiarella

I’m sure the UK government is trying it’s damndnest to pull that one down ASAP so they can rape our private data.

Btw, has anyone actually heard of a prosecution recently to do with “illegal downloding”? I hear of the providers getting taken to court, but I’d be surprised to hear of a guy who just downloaded a lot getting ake to court – seems like beating around the bush to me.

Bekbob April 6, 2010 3:09 PM

I pay hundreds a month for my broadband, file access and storage media. Not including the thousands spent each year for computer hardware and software.

This all adds up to far more than I ever spent per month on CDs 20 years ago.

I’m not trying to rip anyone off. The music I play and movies I watch are far from free. I just get the media in the best and most convenient way for me. It’s not my fault that the money is going to the “wrong” people. From what I have been reading for the last decade, artists historically have never seen the profits from their works anyway. There are detailed articles from dozens of artists explaining how the modern music industry is setup to keep artists from profits.

Anyway, I do pay. And I would pay the “right” people if it were the same level of service, at the same price I’m paying now.

ab October 13, 2010 8:01 AM

I wonder what the case is (as regards “illegal uploading / downloading”) with this “Martview” application I stumbled upon today.

Martview touts itself as a reader for .pdf and the proprietary .mart formats, with additional features such as very cool looking (I have not tested the software so I do not know how quick it is, etc) reading experience.

The Martview website also provides access to what looks like hundreds of books and magazines uploaded by users…and many of these are such that I would think they are actually copyrighted.

If anyone knows what the business model of martview is supposed to be (if both reader and content is to be free) and how they can stay in business (while making copyrighted material available for free) I would like to hear your thoughts…

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