Download legality question

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jassen M. West, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. Jassen M. West

    Jassen M. West Supporting Actor

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    Is it legal to download t.v shows? I hope asking this isn't breaking any rules. I ask because everyone has the capability to record the show to V HS and some of us are able to record straight to P.C.
    Also, I don't mean shows that are out on D V D I mean new shows.
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Well, the HTF doesn't promote the discussion of the actual mechanics of downloading bootleg material, so from that perspective, this topic will be closed should it go that way. Whether you do it or not, that's your decision, but not something we support here.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    The short answer is "No, it isn't legal." Distributing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal. While the courts have upheld the use of VCRs and similar recorders for time-shifting, technically you aren't supposed to permanently archive TV shows or movies to tape, DVD or PC, either. As a practical matter nobody is going to break down your door and bust you for your complete collection of He and She on VHS, and they probably aren't going to throw you in the slam for giving your dad a copy of an old movie you taped. But giving away digital copies of stuff you don't own via file-sharing systems is a very different kettle of fish.

    Without getting into a debate on the pros and cons of this situation or wandering into forbidden territory regarding sources of such files, that's pretty much the state of the law as this layman understands it. (And I do check these things from time to time with a acquaintance who works for the intellectual property department of a law firm.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  4. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    Depends on who you ask. As with anything in this vein, the letter of the law doesn't matter as much as who has the better lawyers and the deeper pockets.

    Your logic is definitely sound. Why would it be perfectly legal for me to timeshift a show using my DVR, but illegal for me to timeshift the same show by downloading a version that someone else recorded? I'm still paying for my cable, which means that I've paid for the right to view all of the programs that are broadcast on the channels that I receive, correct? How I choose to do so however should be up to me.
     
  5. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I tend to agree with Chris' logic, though I doubt our resident HTF lawyers would. Whatever you opt to do, I think we can all agree on one thing: Don't post details on the forum [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I capture tons of Conan O'Brien segments and make them available for download to fans on certain sites but if someone requests a capture from a show that's out on DVD or VHS I give them a link where they can purchase it. It's ultimately supporting the show, something I'm glad to do.

    Basically if the show isn't available for purchase it's fair game for me. I'd rather have a crystal clean copy of it, even if it meant *gasp* paying money, but until then we'll have to stick to downloading stuff we've already paid the cable/satellite companies to deliver to our homes. Who wants to wait around for reruns? [​IMG]

    Just fyi there have been others that set up websites dedicated to Conan downloads but whenever one gets really big, NBC sends them a legally threatening "cease and desist" letter. Obviously because if the site stays up any longer NBC will go bankrupt because people now have postcard-sized 50-second clips of the show. Honestly, they help to support the show if nothing else, but the world isn't based on common sense, just legalities.
     
  7. Jassen M. West

    Jassen M. West Supporting Actor

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    I think some of that helps.[​IMG] I just wanted to rewatch some episodes of Lost. I'm still not sure if i want to put myself in a dangerous situation though.
    thanks
     
  8. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    As you said before, the only thing that I can see as being wrong, is if you or your friend recieved a show from a station you're not paying for. Example, if I own HBO and record the Sopranos, then send it to you and you don't pay for HBO, then I can see a problem with you watching the 'recieved' Soprano episode, but if we both get bsaic cable and I record the Simpsons (off of Fox), I can't see why that would be illegal.
     
  9. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I can't see why the rules here would be any different from downloading music. I can legally record off of the air any songs I want to, with no problems - but if I do that over the Internet, I'm wading in it!

    Glenn
     
  10. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    The artist/record company gets paid every time their song is played on the radio. Radio stations pay huge fees for the permission to distribute songs via the airwaves. This is why you can record off the radio for your own use. What you cannot do is distribute this recording (or any original recording). This distributing is what people are doing when they upload/download and yes, it is illegal.

    The law is very logical and is based on an age old document that says something about "Thou shalt not steal". [​IMG]
     
  11. MikeSerrano

    MikeSerrano Second Unit

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    Except in this case it should read: "Thou shalt not infringe on the copyrights of corporations".

    -Mike
     
  12. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    And the law is far from logical...

    If the corporations can modify existing copyright law by having it extended beyond what the founding fathers intended, then citizens can modify existing copyright law as well. The only way you can change the law is by challenging it. Inevitably, some would argue that this involves breaking the law. The price of innovation...

    If you download a TV show, including the commercials, then I say it is fair use. Forget all of this BS about territory rights and geographic zones. Fair use trumps maximizing profits.
     
  13. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    One difference would be whether that someone is "broadcasting" or "distributing" that show to anyone and everyone, or is someone you actually know that is letting you "personally" copy it.

    Now, whether that difference does -- or should -- make a difference in the law is another matter.
     
  14. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Unfortunately, this logic does not stand up in court. As has been mentioned, it is all about the distribution rights. TV stations pay to distribute shows. If someone is recording and redistributing without a license, they are breaking the law. If you are the one downloading from an illegal source, you too are breaking the law.

    Under fair use, you have the right to record something yourself for personal use. Recording it for someone else could cost you thousands of dollars in damages.
     
  15. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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  16. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    Supreme Court rulings and Congressional reports that they quote make it clear that US copyright is not based on the premise that there are natural property rights in works. It is a carrot that the public can offer -- or not -- to elicit useful behavior.

    The goal of copyright is supposed to be to maximize net benefit to the public. If citizens think that a certain type of copying should be legal, that is an argument for making it legal.
     

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