Philosophical Musings

December 24, 2007

Morals, Law and Belief

Filed under: Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom,religion — Elad Kehat @ 11:36 am

Two seemingly unrelated posts I read this morning combined in a beautiful way.

Seth Godin is insightful as always, saying:
* Most people want to believe.
* And we’re most comfortable believing what everyone else believes.

Add to that the fact that “everyone else” isn’t really everyone else, it’s just your peer group. That’s why we mostly hold the same religious views as the community we grew up in.

The related post is from TorrentFreak: Piracy, Morals and The Need for Change
Ernesto discusses a NY Times article that tells of the generational divide in the moral perception of copyrights – today’s college students just don’t see anything wrong with copying digital files.
This is only surprising if like most people you (wrongly) assume that morals should be based on the law, and not the other way around. Morals aren’t a constant, they’re just the sum of what we believe to be right and wrong. They exist because we want to believe that there are such things as right or wrong, but their content is usually whatever our peers happen to believe in in that time and place.

So, asks Ernesto, should sharing copyrighted material be leglized?
Wrong question. The right question is “should there be such a thing as copyright?”. Well, the future generation has voted, and their answer is “definitely not”!



  1. I think there is still a need for copyright laws in that we cannot allow one person to profit from another persons work just like patents – and perhaps let them expire after 15-20 years.

    For many people, it is more convienent to spend money at a store to purchase an item, be it CD or DVD than to locate a torrent, wait for it to download and pray that the final product was worth the effort.

    Certainly, the casual or weekend renter will find it a better use of time to make the Friday night trip to Blockbuster and be done with it.

    Without copyright protection, you could walk into a video store and you know they’re going to be selling screeners, telesyncs, or whatever they can get their hands on first – after all, it would be perfectly legal.

    Comment by FatalOE — December 24, 2007 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  2. Hey FatalOE,

    I agree that on many occasions it’s more convenient to pay for a packaged item than to download it. That doesn’t mean you need copyright – it just means that businesses like Blockbuster still have a future. It also doesn’t mean that Blockbuster will start selling you content of inferior quality – it might be legal, but if they do so you won’t shop there again, after all, we’ve just established that the only reason they’ll be able to charge money for their product will be that they save you time and provide a guarantee of quality.


    Comment by Elad — December 24, 2007 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

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