UK Prime Minister's special advisor wants prison for people who watch TV programmes the wrong way




I do not understand the argument that piracy is NOT “theft.”

It’s taking something of value - something that required time, effort, and money to create - taking that item without permission and without providing compensation.

You can argue about whether harm is actually done or not. I’ve downloaded MP3s and later bought albums from those artists I liked; they’ve made more money on me than they might have otherwise. You might be encouraging Iron Maiden to play in your homeland and make money selling concert tickets. You might argue that without a physical product, there is not a direct cost. You can certainly argue about the punishments, if any, that ought to be imposed.

None of that changes the simple truth that it’s taking something without permission. It’s not “watching TV the wrong way,” it’s theft.


How do we define “watching TV” ?


It’s copyright infringement, not theft. Nothing is taken.


While I agree that jail time for piracy is ridiculous, I don’t like the phrasing in the article that the pirates are just getting in trouble for watching tv the wrong way. It’s not like they bought the content fair and square and it’s laden with DRM that’s making it so using what they paid for is impossible without doing something illegal and someone wants them jailed for breaking the law. It’s about them accessing the content without paying for it. It’s as much about “watching tv programmes the wrong way” as if someone snuck into a movie in the theater or snuck into a concert without a ticket and was in trouble for “watching the movie the wrong way” or “listening to music the wrong way”. It doesn’t matter where we stand on piracy or sharing or supporting creators or supporting sharing, that kind of wording isn’t helpful in finding a good solution for the situation.


They are not “taking” anything. They are creating a duplicate copy without permission and/or without the requisite recompense. At no point is the original creator/owner deprived of their intellectual property and is freely able to continue to distribute it as they see fit.

As a content creator myself I’m not sticking up for piracy here, merely pointing out why copyright infringement is not in any way theft – hence why they are considered two separate offences.


Exactly the example I was going to give. Yes, it’s different than theft, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. In a way, the headline is completely accurate. Pirating content is the Wrong Way. (now you can of course argue what the punishments are etc, that’s a different matter)


Do they still license televisions in the UK? I recall that in the past they had a van that would drive around looking for the tell-tale signature of a receiver to find those evading the licensing fee.


That video is really great.


The UK requires a license to watch TV. If a specific player allows someone to avoid paying that fee that would be watching TV the wrong way. And yes, the crime is prosecuted, and they have roving TV detector vans to find perpetrators. Prison is a mite harsh for a punishment, though.


[quote=“doctorow, post:1, topic:20450”]
no wonder they’re called the Nasty Party.
[/quote]I would suggest that ‘party’ is not the word most commonly used after ‘nasty’ when describing the tories.


I’m not sure that the use of the inflammatory term - theft - is any worse than the inflammatory headline of this article. Reasonable minds can differ on this issue and it doesn’t help the dialogue to ignore the real issues with the weak argument that because I can watch something on Netflix it shouldn’t be wrong to download it on bittorrent.

It comes down to policy choices that are not always easy. How much should the government be required to do to protect content owners from copyright infringement? Should the government limit its efforts to punishing/preventing illegal distribution or should it also punish viewers? Should copyright holders be protected at all? Does the amount of protection available depend on the content?

I think those are all good questions on which reasonable minds can differ. However, rather than deal with the real issues, journalists and politicians way too often take the easy route of inflammatory rhetoric.


You’re thinking about the cat detector van. Apparently they can pinpoint a purr from 400 yards.


When violence and punishment are the only tools in legislators’ toolboxes, our Congresses and Parliaments become nothing more than huge boxes seating hundreds of useless tools.


Copyright infringement is clearly a civil matter not a criminal matter. Prison is not suitable for dealing with copyright infringement - if you’re in jail you can’t earn money and you’ll find it harder to get work when you leave with a criminal record - you’d be disbarred from a lot of work automatically. If the court imposes a civil penalty and you don’t pay that penalty, ultimately you could end up in jail for contempt of court - but not for piracy.


Copyright infringement is not theft. Theft has lighter penalties.


Holy God, how is that even tolerated in this age? Do you have to take a test to get a license? Do you pay a fee? Is this whole world GOING INSANE!?!?!???


Because money and power (aka The Golden Rule).

[quote=“mataband, post:17, topic:20450, full:true”]
Do you have to take a test to get a license?[/quote]
Probably not.

[quote=“mataband, post:17, topic:20450, full:true”]
Do you pay a fee?[/quote]

[quote=“mataband, post:17, topic:20450, full:true”]
Is this whole world GOING INSANE!?!?!???[/quote]


The licencr fee is the best thing ever. Its why the BBC is ad free and (at least partially) free from commercial concerns.

And it is fabulous value for money. Multiple TV channels, rolling news, a huge network of local and national radio stations, all for less than a single NPR station asks for.


Yeah, the rhetoric is unhelpful to the cause here. Using this mock-exaggeration, Drunk-driving is just “driving the wrong way”, shoplifting is “shopping the wrong way” and rape is only “having sex the wrong way”.
Using that sort of argument to imply that x is not a crime is disingenuous.