"The thread was closed because file-sharing is illegal."

In reference to post:


a moderator closed the post and said, “The thread was closed because file-sharing is illegal.”

I just want to make it clear that file-sharing is NOT illegal. Sharing files to which the recipient does not actually own MAY be illegal, however there are many, Many, MANY types of files out there for which file-sharing is perfectly legal.

Thanks, just wanted to rant… and it wasn’t even my OP! :slight_smile:

It’s been a long standing policy of these boards to disallow discussions about file-sharing programs to protect from getting sued by pissed-off artists. Or whatever.

As we wish our copyrights to be respected, we must also respect the rights of others.

Which is something none of those file-steal–I mean file-sharing programs do.

Which is why we don’t allow them here.

What about “it’s not nice to rip off other people” do you have trouble with?

your humble TubaDiva

I had the same reaction as the OP when I read that thread, as nothing was said that indicated anyone was trying to download illegal files. However, most people use file-sharing program to steal music and programs, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. So, disallowing discussion of file-sharing is probably a good idea, if you’re worried about being sued or something.

The programs themselves are not illegal, any more than web pages (which could also distribute copyrighted information) are illegal. To imply that anyone discussing them is a thief is equivalent to implying that anyone who discusses twin-engine Cessnas is a drug smuggler. It’s a little off-putting (even though you’re 99% likely to be correct).

Actually there are some legal file-sharing programs such as Furthur. This is file-sharing software designed to allow people to share full live recordings of bands such as the Grateful Dead and Phish who allow taping. I don’t think these bands see this as ripping them off (otherwise they wouldn’t allow people to tape them), and alot of people who listen to the bands available on Furthur buy the released material.

I used Napster to download music files of music I owned on LP (yes, I started collecting music early) but don’t have on CD. There’s nothing illegal about downloading music that you already own. I am not obligated to buy an LP and a CD of the same thing, after all.

This is a juvenile policy.

Peer to peer software has far more uses than just copying mp3’s. Hell, companies like ExxonMobil, BP and TFE are using p2p to build collaborative networks for data exchange between project partners - these aren’t the sort of companies who would endanger their reputations by association with “illegal activity”.

Hell, p2p’s implications in terms of freedom of communication at a time of excessive surveillance and control by government is worthy of a dozen discussions at least.

Countless opensource projects are moving at far greater speed than they ever would normally, just because these tools allow for easy searching and sharing of information - need a driver, do a search, download it, bang. Looking for a pattern recognition algorythm, you’ve got easy access to a dozen.

If GQ topics should be closed down because there’s a potential someone could misuse the knowledge illegally, you’d better close down this discussion about what constitutes rape, this question on how to burn your own CD’s, this discussion on whether bullet proof armour is illegal or not, and this discussion on when could a US citizen be tried for activities that occured overseas.

And those are just from the last two days.

Now, while I recognize why discussion about file-sharing - and especially how to do it and what programs to use - is discouraged… file-sharing has been used, often, to steal music. As such, there is a credible potential for such discussions to lead to illegal activities.

However, to disallow ALL discussion about peer-to-peer on these grounds, simply because a percentage of it is illegal? What’s next… are we not allowed to talk about guns, because guns are sometimes used illegally?

Blanket prohibitions don’t make much sense, Tuba… there are some cases where peer-to-peer can be discussed without it referring to illegal activities.

I’m glad you used this analogy - I’d considered it, but was worried people would think I’d launched some attack on gun users.

I was going to say “rolling papers”, but guns will work nicely.

What about adopting the policy of a head shop I know of, which says, “These products are for tobacco use only - any discussion of illegal drug use will cause expulsion”?

Something like, These products are for legal filesharing only - any discussion of copyright violation will cause threadclosing?

I think perhaps the phrase “The thread was closed because file-sharing is illegal” needs to be refined. “The thread was closed because it potentially covers the illegal trading of files” might be closer to the mark? “File sharing” covers too much ground, and makes the statement misleading. I am able to access www.straightdope.com/index.html because of file sharing - it is a file, and it is publically shared. File sharing is making any file (including HTML files) open to other people.

In many cases Board regulation is to protect against litigation. However, in this case, I think that the reason is more philosophical/ideological… as the property of a corporation that makes its living through intellectual property*, the Board is not in favor of illegal file-sharing. Most people I know who produce intellectual property–cartoonists, writers, musicians–aren’t, actually.

*Ok, from what I hear the Reader makes most of its profit margin off ads for transvestite escort services or something. But intellectual property factors in somewhere, I’m sure.

With all due respect, Gary, that’s a juvenile position. Them that own the house make the rules. If you can’t live within those rules, move out.

I haven’t seen Tuba or anyone else close threads which merely discussed file sharing. The threads tend to get closed when they start naming particular programmes, which can be used for illegal file sharing.

It’s consistent with the line the admins take in respect of discussion of drug use, porn sites, hate sites etc.

No, it’s not juvenile to to point out juvenile policies. It would be juvenile to demand they change it, perhaps, but simply commenting on the policy is in no way juvenile.

Ah, copyright laws. Also know as “price supports for the recording industry.”


I call copyright laws those laws which help me and my partner make a living. Without copyright laws, it would be open slather on our intellectual property. It’s obvious to blind freddie that copyright is changing but we do need to consider the right of the artist and writer to generate income from their own ideas.

Can I talk about my portable tape player? That can be used to infringe copyrights, as can my VCR and CD-Burner. Should all threads including those subjects be banned as well? I can’t see the distinction. I’ve never understood that argument that we should ban something because some people can use it illegally.

I’m constantly having to track down “hotlinkers”, who steal the copyrighted photographs on my web site. So we’d better not discuss or use the web, then. People use it to violate copyright.


I’ve had threads about suppressors (with links proving their legality in the US) and about alternative medicine (again, all legal and available OTC in the US) both closed because anything the moderators don’t understand is assumed to be evil. :rolleyes: