Is it unethical/illegal to burn Blockbuster dvds?

I think it’s pretty clearly unethical, and I don’t see how you can argue that it is ethical. Putting aside that it’s a violation of the law (and unlike Musicat, I do think that all other things being equal, it’s ethical to follow the law and unethical to violate it), and putting aside that it’s likely a violation of your rental agreement, when you’re renting the movie, it’s understood that you have the right to watch the movie for a limited period of time and then you have to give it back. To then turn around and copy it so that you get all the benefits that someone who bought the movie gets it, isn’t fair to the movie rental place, because you’re copying their property and taking away their profit, isn’t fair to the movie makers, because by copying the film, you’ve guaranteed that you’re not going to buy it, thereby taking money from them, and it isn’t fair to the people who bought the movie, because your payment of $3 now gives you the same rights as the honest person who shelled out $20 for the movie.

IMO, I’d say overall, no. People copy them because they don’t HAVE to buy them then. Why pay 20 bucks for that DVD when you can copy it for free? Same thing with downloading music off Limewire or whatever. Why pay for the CD when I can get the songs for free? If you don’t really want the DVD, why would you even have it in your possession?

I’ve noticed there is a little commercial thing before a lot of movies I’ve been renting lately that says, “Would you steal that shirt?” “Would you take etc?” to show people that copying DVDs is the same as stealing. People forget that it is the same, or at least very close to the same. People that would never even think about stealing something from a store download music or copy DVDs without even thinking about it. It would be nice to get DVDs for free, but I have a job and I can afford to buy them sometimes. Before I got my new job, I was without one for awhile so I didn’t buy DVDs, or copy them. Just no new movies for me. Tough luck, but oh well.

So illegal yes, unethical - depends on your ethics I suppose because I don’t know if there are some formal guidelines everyone could agree on to determine it.

Well, it is illegal now, but court challenges may change that. Either way, the law and ethics are not one and the same. Was it ever ethical to own slaves? Was it ever unethical for two consenting adults to have oral sex? Clearly, there are many times where ethics and the law are different.

I don’t believe it is.

The understanding is that you have access to the physical disc for an agreed upon period of time. You only have to give it back because they want to rent it to someone else.

Someone who purchases the movie gets the packaging, the guarantee of the seller that the movie will work, etc. Having a copy of something is not the same as getting the commercially packaged product.

How? They already made all the money they would have when you rent the movie.

Not true. Either way, there was never a guarantee you would have bought it anyway. The movie makers, in most cases, lose nothing.

No it doesn’t. See above. Either way, fairness and ethics are not the same. It’s not fair Bill Gates is as rich as he is while others starve, but it doesn’t mean what he does is unethical.

It’s unethical in a business transaction to not inform the other party of all pertinent information. The fact that you intend to copy the DVD is certainly pertinent. The only ethical course of action is to inform the owner of your intention up front and then let him decide whether he still wants to rent to you or not.

dude “I’m copy this I think”
teenbopper cashier “erm okay sir, enjoy”

No, it’s not pertinent because it doesn’t affect them in any way. If they cared, they would put it in their user agreement.

The clerk is not the owner and does not have the authority to grant such a request.

If it’s not pertinent, then there’s no reason NOT to tell them. The fact that you want to hide what you’re doing from the owner of the DVD is a clue that there’s something unethical about it.

I don’t tell them who I’m watching it with, or when I’m going to return it either. Nobody is hiding anything, and even if I were, it doesn’t mean it’s unethical.

It was immoral to own slaves (and the law can’t make an immoral thing moral.) And believing that slavery is immoral, it’s difficult for me to make a judgement on the ethics of slaveholding. (and there are times when morals and the law are different, but it’s much rarer for ethics and the law to significantly differ, although there can be actions that are unethical but not illegal.)

I’m pretty sure that it is in violation of your rental agreement, but not having a copy in front of me, I couldn’t say. I know it is in violation of Netflix’s rental agreement, which says in part:

Well, yeah, they want to rent it to somebody else. But it’s their property, and part of that is that you agree to use the material as per your agreement with them.

They also get the right to unlimited playing of the movie. People don’t buy the movie for the packaging…they buy it for the information on the disc.

Because now you’re able to watch the movie a month later without renting it from them again. They lose the money from the other times you would otherwise rent the movie.

They do lose something, because now there’s an extra copy of the movie floating around that nobody paid them royalties on. Here’s a hypothetical. Lets say there’s some movie that there are only 5 copies of in the world. Each of these copies were made and sold by the movie company, and the company got paid for each copy sold. So now you make a sixth copy. The movie company gets no payment or no royalties on that 6th disc, so they’re harmed, because now 6 people can watch the movie at once instead of 5, and that 6th person never paid them for the right to watch the movie.

Ethics is about fairness, among other things. It’s not unfair that Bill Gates is as rich as he is so long as he got that wealth honestly.

Not so. The whole point of copying the movie is so you can see it again at a later date. If you hadn’t copied it, you’d have to go back to the rental place and pay them another fee (or buy the DVD outright) in order to do that.

I just one thing to add to the discussion. Blockbuster cannot give to you any rights to the movie that they do not have, regardless of what your rental agreement. Blockbuster, and a vast majority of other rental chains, do not have the right to copy the movies they obtain; and therefore, they cannot transfer to you the right to copy the movie.

It’s not just Blockbuster whose rights you are infringing upon, but also the copyright holder of the movie.

If you send a letter to the Blockbuster legal department saying “In the future I will watch all my videos with my buddy Steve. Do you have any problem with that?” they will ignore you.

If you send a letter to the Blockbuster legal department saying “In the future I will make copies of every video I rent and keep them for my own use. Do you have a problem with that?” I suspect there’s a good chance that they will write back.

Ethical business practices require that you be open and aboveboard in all transactions. It’s not ethical to copy Blockbuster’s DVDs unless Blockbuster knows about what you’re doing and doesn’t object.

Employees act on behalf of the company. Cashiers in particular handle trading or renting merchandise usually for well cash. Informing the cashier is informing the company.

It’s definitely illegal, but it is up to you whether it is ethical or not.

Intellectual property is a bit of a silly concept…property rights are mandatory when dealing with scarce resources, but since you creating a copy of a work does not deprive the artist of the work he created, it’s not stealing in the same way as shoplifting…media, in a sense, is more a condition of general welfare as opposed to a scarce resource. OTOH, if you purchased/rented the product with an understanding that you would not copy it, or you signed a contract to that effect, I’d certainly find that unethical. And you probably did sign a contract with blockbuster to that effect at one time.

Personally, I don’t mind paying for different forms of media. If an artist put out some good work, I’d like to see him compensated. But I don’t feel that downloading music or movies or whatever is unethical.

You are vacillating quite a bit here. Laws, in general, have nothing to do with ethics. I can name dozens of laws that are not ethical and vice versa.

To be honest, I am not sure it isn’t in the agreement now, but I signed up for Blockbuster a long time ago. Do you have a link to the netflix agreement?

They do it for both reasons. That’s one reason why people buy CDs after they’ve downloaded the songs.

Assuming you would rent it again.

Six people could always watch the movie. As soon as a copy is out there, that person can show it to anyone they’d like (within reason). Is there really a practical difference if the fifth guy loaned his friend the DVD whenever he wanted to watch it and that guy burning his friend a copy?

I disagree. Ethics is not about fairness, and it never was.

No, it’s not definately illegal. See above links.

None of the links I saw dealt with copying of movies that you had rented, not bought. Coping a movie that you own for personal use, could very well be legal; copying a movie that you rented from Blockbuster, is a violation of the copyright.

It might be illegal but whether it’s “ethical” is completely a matter of opinion. My opinion is that there is no victim so it’s not unethical.

The illegal duplicating of copyrighted materials violates the rights of the copyright holder. How is the violation of someone’s rights victimless?