Quick quiz: Which of the following is immoral:
- You're about to buy a book. But then you realize that you can just read it at the library, so you do that instead.
- You're about to buy a book. But then you realize that you can just photocopy it at the library and have it bound at Kinkos, so you do that instead.
- You're about to rent a movie. But then you remember that your friend owns the DVD, so you borrow it instead.
- You're about to rent a movie. But then you remember that your friend owns the DVD, so you make a copy of it instead.
- You're about to buy Photoshop, just to edit one picture. But then you remember that your roommate owns Photoshop, so you just use his computer instead.
- You're about to buy Photoshop, just to edit one picture. But then you remember that your roommate owns Photoshop, so you just install a copy on your computer instead.
Seems to me that most of us draw the line as follows: It's okay to borrow IP from someone, as long as only one copy is in use at a given time.
So i've got a huge stack of CDs collecting dust. If i shipped them off to friends, and my friends sent me their CDs, and we all listened to each others music, i don't think any reasonable person would consider this wrong.
But let's say we optimized things, so that instead of shipping CDs, we all ripped the CDs and traded MP3s instead. Why is this wrong?
Because lots of people could conceivably be listening to the same MP3 at the same time.
If there was a system like Napster, where you could listen to other peoples' music and they could listen to yours, except only one person could be listening to a particular copy at a particular time, would this be wrong? I say no.
This would give the consumers what they want -- they don't have to shell out $18 bucks for a CD full of songs they've never heard and probably don't like, and most reasonable people would say the system is fair and ethical.
How about just a resale system? I'd like to sell off all those CDs i don't listen to, even for 10 cents apiece. I could use the money to buy a new CD and listen to it for a while. If i didn't like it, i could resell it for a bit less than i paid for it, and repeat the process. I'd get to hear a lot more music that way. And i'd never again be stuck with a CD i didn't like.