February 16th, 2006

delirium happy

A question of morals

I don't tend to download (non-freeware, without paying) music/videos/software/etc. very much these days. I used to download music a fair bit, but don't really any more. One of the main reasons for this is the morality involved. I've no problems with other people doing so -- that's between them, their consciences and their lawyers -- but to me, it just doesn't feel right.

There are exceptions, of course. I have no qualms about downloading stuff that I already own in a differnet medium (for instance, music that I own on cassette). I'm also content to download a few songs by an artist for evaluation purposes. And I'll also download stuff which is not actually available for purchase, such as abandonware games, or old TV shows that never got a DVD release.

This last one is something I've been pondering on though: is it morally sound for me to download something which has a US region 1 DVD release, even if it isn't available in the UK?

On the one hand, it is actually possible for me to purchase such an item legitamely. Yes, it would be something of a pain to do, and yes it would end up being expensive due to shipping costs and customs duties (though somewhat negated by the relative weakness of the dollar compare dot the pound at the moment), but it's still possible. And I do own a region-free DVD player, so I would be able to play them.

On the other hand, though, if they wanted people from outside North America to be able to buy the DVD, it would be released as region 0, not region 1. And the ultimate purpose of copyright law is to allow the creators of a piece of intellectual property to pursue legitimate business ventures, thus ensuring that they retain an incentive to carry on creating. If they choose not to pursue a market, is it not then legitimate to take matters into one's own hands?

I'm honestly not sure what conclusion to reach on this one. What do you people think?