Refuting Common Arguments against File Swapping

The Domino Effect
Violating the Law against File Swapping will Cause Anarchy
Sharing Files is like Disobeying Traffic Laws
“Stealing from the Rich and Giving to the Poor” is still Stealing
The Golden Rule Argument

This section aims to refute some common arguments against file swapping.

The Domino Effect

Some people are using “the Domino Effect” as an argument that file swapping should be stopped. What they say is that if the profitability of the Music industry would be harmed, then it will cause an economical chain-reaction that may devastate the rest of the economy, because other dependent industries may be harmed.

There are two problems with this argument. The first is that there is no evidence that the profitability of the music industry is harmed due to file swapping, so there is little risk of this happening. The other is that assuming that would happen, it won’t be a bad thing. That’s because we essentially reduce the money that is transferred to a heavy taxer, and make the public, as a whole, richer. The public in turn, can spend this money on other merchandise, and make other industries as a whole more prosperous. This is similar to reducing income tax, while laying off some government workers.

Violating the Law against File Swapping will Cause Anarchy

Some people say that if the law of a country prohibits sharing files, then this law must be obeyed, because otherwise there will be anarchy. However, one must understand that if certain laws are irrational, they cannot be practically expected to be obeyed.

I also personally don’t see how assuming everyone share files online, the integrity of a country will be harmed. Sharing files does not involve killing people, stealing from them, nor does it involve force, threat of force or fraud.

20% of Americans enjoy file swapping, and yet the United States is functioning perfectly fine, and no anarchy is in sight.

Sharing Files is like Disobeying Traffic Laws

The comparison of sharing and downloading files to disobeying traffic laws seems to be quite prevalent. But naturally, copying files does not endanger lives, nor is it actually a crime. The worst thing that can happen if one shares works of art, is loss of profit. If you disobey traffic laws, you risk the lives of yourself and of other people. This makes it a difference of Heaven and Earth in this analogy.

“Stealing from the Rich and Giving to the Poor” is still Stealing

Some people claim that because the main entities that will supposedly be harmed from making file swapping legal are media conglomerates, and to a lesser extent best-selling artists who are very rich, and those who would benefit are the poor everyday people, then this is a case of “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.”, which is still stealing.

One thing that has to be understood about the Robin Hood myth is that Robin Hood supposedly stole from the exploiters and gave to the exploited. Secondly, it’s not really true in this case.

Copying a copyrighted work is not stealing, because the money that the author can charge for its commercial copying is due to copyright law - a civil (not criminal) contract between the State and the artists, in order to encourage original creation. However, breaking this contract is not stealing.

It should be understood that record labels and other distributors of entertainment and non-technical media should either adapt to the new situation where Internet users can download such files for free and enjoy them, and to a greater extent contribute such media on their own, without much help from them, or simply perish as a no longer necessary establishment, that just gets in the way.

This is not about stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. This is about cutting down the middle man.

The Golden Rule Argument

A few people who criticised the article, claimed that by proposing that media will be free to be non-commercially copied, I’ve been violating the Golden Rule (“Treat others as you wish them to treat you”) as I don’t want copyright to be undermined for my own works.

However, this results from two confusions. The first is the belief that I too will mind people re-distributing my work. However, I don’t have problems with that: all my work is freely re-distributable and a most of it is also Free Content. The second confusion is that I completely reject copyrights. However that’s not the case as I still accept that some copyright principles are valid.

So I did not violate the Golden Rule in voicing this opinion.