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funeral of a great myth?

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby rusmeister » 04 Mar 2010, 03:02

ladysherlockian wrote:I used to think just like you: that it is better to download a book illegally than not download it and probably never read it. But recently I have understood that in this way I just try to justify the wrong that I am doing. I can still find many justifications for downloading books illegally, but I have understood that no justifications can make good out of something which is evil. I used to believe that the people who considered piracy a sin wanted only to cut me from culture. But downloading illegally really is theft, and so a sin.
Firstly, we are acting against the author's wishes, because if he wanted to make his books available for free, he would have done so. He wants to sell the book for a certain price, so when we obtain it for free, we do it against his wishes. Some say that books are expensive. Yes, they are, but it does not make us readers entitled to steal them. Would you(I mean here impersonal you) consider stealing a book from the bookshop because you wanted so much to read it, but you could not afford it? Of course you would not steal the book. Maybe because you would be easily caught, which is easy to avoid while downloading the same book from the Internet. But from ethical point of view, it is just the same. Books are expensive, but it is the right of authors to decide on prices. If an author wanted a million dollars for one book, well, this is his property and if you would like to read this book, you must pay a million dollars.
Secondly, and this is the reason why downloading illegally is the same as theft, when we do it, we deprive the author of his income, which rightly belongs to him. Let's say the book costs 30 dollars. For each person who downloads the book the author loses 30 dollars. If a hundred people downloads it, the author loses 300 dollars. And so the losses may go to millions. It is easy to steal the books from the internet when you do not know how it feels when you are a victim of theft. Imagine you are a writer, author of a brilliant book, and you want to make a living from selling the book. But well, you cannot, because people are downloading it from the internet. This is what I used to do when downloading from the internet - stealing.

As to CS Lewis - well, these are his books, not ours, and he can do with them what he pleases - because they are his. We should be grateful that he published them and they are available for purchase, because nobody who wrote a book has a duty to publish it, he can even burn it or hide and forbid anyone to read it. Because it is his property, he can do everything with it. We readers may wish that it was in public domain, but I believe it is very unfair to dictate somebody what he should do with his own property. Even more with intellectual property, to which the author is also attached emotionally. Have you ever written e.g. a poem? How would you feel if someone else was telling you what you should do with your poem?


As I said, in a great many cases it is unarguably wrong. On those cases we agree. But when you take something from a local examination of conscience form, and interpret that as a Church dogma on what is categorically a sin, rather than asking whether, in so doing, you have sinned, you are applying a personal concept of sin to everyone. It may be the personal concept of the Church member who printed your EoC form. Maybe the Pope has made an ex cathedra pronouncement about it, or an ecumenical (Catholic) Council has declared it universally to be a sin. If not, then even Catholics can't go around telling others it is categorically a sin. Even if so, only Catholics would be bound to accept it as authoritative.

Smoking is another good example. The idea that smoking is wrong is based on what a majority actually do with it: abuse it. Ditto for beer/wine/hard liquor. My mother (yes, thank God, I still have a living mother!) is of such a mindset. But as Chesterton would say (one of the greatest Catholics ever), it is a Puritan mindset, one based on categorical forbiddings.

On author's wishes: I think you are simply imagining what authors would wish. I read authors who are by and large Christian. A christian, especially a dead one (who is therefore alive in God), to my mind would NOT want to prevent people from reading the things that they wrote in life, merely to enrich a corporation, and would certainly not want to be paid for anything. The selfishness is supposed to be left behind. Did you even read my previous post? You say
For each person who downloads the book the author loses 30 dollars.
. I have already demonstrated that there really are cases where the author loses nothing, and where he could not possibly make any profit, even if he were alive. Once you admit those cases, then your argument of stealing no longer applies.
A whole point is that CS Lewis no longer has any property whatsoever, and he cannot "do as he likes with it". The rights legally belong to a corporation. This part of your argument does not seem to be terribly logical.

As to myself, I hope someday to publish a book on public education. I would like to make some money when I am alive, and a dream would be for enough money to raise my children to adulthood should I not be able to - but that's all. If someone in China reads my book and can't pay for it, God bless him! Let him copy it, and even pass it around to friends in a similar situation. If anything that I can do can enlighten people, and in some way glorify God and bring people closer to Him, then, let money not be a hindrance - especially if I'm dead! I believe the people I read, like Lewis, Chesterton,, Williams, etc, would be of a similar mind.

At any rate, I am not sure that you used to think like I do. You believe that you had not thought it out and now you have. I believe that I HAVE thought it out, and while I see the abuse, I also see good use. Above all, I do not believe that human laws should be the thing that determine what sin is for us. It may be that you really DID deprive authors of money and so stole from them. I don't know (and don't want to know) - but I'm a little skeptical that all of it really was stealing.

Or, put another way, "It is allowed unless it is forbidden", which is much better than the Puritan/totalitarian "It is forbidden unless it is allowed."
In this Lenten season, I believe we share something in common - we should be focused first on our own sins, rather than on what is sin for others. It's hard enough to see our own sins, and incredibly easy to misjudge others - and what is sin for them.
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."
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Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby ladysherlockian » 04 Mar 2010, 11:41

I am sorry if I sounded too self-righteous. English is not my native language, and even after studying it I may still use a wrong tone etc. What I wanted was only to save people from repeating my mistakes, as downloading copyrighted things is very addictive and it's so hard to break free of this habit. I used to treat the internet as one big library and download everything I liked to whenever I needed any book(or music, or my favourite series). Now it is so hard for me to stop this. So it would be better for everyone not to start doing this, than struggling to get rid of this habit later on.
What logical mistakes have you spotted? Please point them out, I am still learning. What exactly do you consider good and bad about downloading? I might have misunderstood you.
I know CS Lewis is not alive now, but the "Corporation" as you called it, now has the copyrights and acts in his stead. So what the corporation does is as if Lewis were doing it himself.
I was talking about downloading books illegally from websites such as rapidshare, scribd, p2p systems, where the files are posted without the knowledge of the authors and copyright holders. I believe that this is the crux of the matter - we sin when we download something that has been posted without the knowledge of the author. I do not want to say that all downloading from the internet is wicked - I am sorry if it sounded like this. It is perfectly OK when we download something, be it a book or a song, from the author's official website - this is when the author himself made it available for internet users to download. But the majority of things that can be found on the internet are illegally copied - an ordinary person who bought a book or borrowed it from a library, scans it and uploads on the internet for other people to download. But this person has no right to copy the book and upload on-line even if he bought it. This is why it is bad to download such files.
I hope that it is more clear now.
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Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby rusmeister » 05 Mar 2010, 05:02

ladysherlockian wrote:I am sorry if I sounded too self-righteous. English is not my native language, and even after studying it I may still use a wrong tone etc. What I wanted was only to save people from repeating my mistakes, as downloading copyrighted things is very addictive and it's so hard to break free of this habit. I used to treat the internet as one big library and download everything I liked to whenever I needed any book(or music, or my favourite series). Now it is so hard for me to stop this. So it would be better for everyone not to start doing this, than struggling to get rid of this habit later on.
What logical mistakes have you spotted? Please point them out, I am still learning. What exactly do you consider good and bad about downloading? I might have misunderstood you.
I know CS Lewis is not alive now, but the "Corporation" as you called it, now has the copyrights and acts in his stead. So what the corporation does is as if Lewis were doing it himself.
I was talking about downloading books illegally from websites such as rapidshare, scribd, p2p systems, where the files are posted without the knowledge of the authors and copyright holders. I believe that this is the crux of the matter - we sin when we download something that has been posted without the knowledge of the author. I do not want to say that all downloading from the internet is wicked - I am sorry if it sounded like this. It is perfectly OK when we download something, be it a book or a song, from the author's official website - this is when the author himself made it available for internet users to download. But the majority of things that can be found on the internet are illegally copied - an ordinary person who bought a book or borrowed it from a library, scans it and uploads on the internet for other people to download. But this person has no right to copy the book and upload on-line even if he bought it. This is why it is bad to download such files.
I hope that it is more clear now.


First of all, you don't need to worry much about your English. I'm an ESL teacher, and you look like someone who has finished advanced courses. There are no mistakes which are not commonly made by native speakers of average education today.

Next, it is good to make clear exactly what you believe to be sin. Otherwise we are speaking at cross-purposes. I was speaking of general use of information on the internet, including of that which may be under copyright, and defending that some of those uses are valid and not sin. I already said that there is no question that some uses are abuses, and sin - which really needs to be understood not as breaking laws, but as destructive behavior. The main thing we may disagree on is whether activity which is illegal is necessarily also immoral. I disagree that it is. Insisting that the law is a source or definition of morality, and that ANY behavior that does not comply with law is necessarily sin is something that I sharply disagree with. Law is used by evil for its own ends, and there certainly are cases where a person breaking a law does greater good and one who obeys the law does evil. (WW2 Holland: (SS soldiers:) "Are there any Jews in your house?" One person will tell a falsehood to save the hiding Jews - another, firmly believing that any lie is evil, may tell the truth. Appealing to law on its own cannot be a measure of what is sin. I doubt that even the people who put the words they did in your EoC form intended that. I think that in some cases, you would still need to talk to a priest - but the point is, to talk about YOUR situation, YOUR soul, and what YOU need to confess.

Again, there is no argument that a good deal of such internet transactions are probably sin. But I'd say that you have to stick to what your Church (the RCC) universally and dogmatically declares to be sin if you want to tell others not to sin. The great danger there is in judging your brother (are you familiar with the Lenten prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian?) and applying a personal (and not universal) conception of sin to others.
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."
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Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby ladysherlockian » 05 Mar 2010, 11:13

Maybe it would be a good idea if you stated clearly which things on the Internet you consider good or at least not immoral, and which are bad according to you, as now it seems unclear to me, you have only stated that you consider some things good, and others bad, without specifying which.
As it has been explained in one of my earlier posts on this subject(look at the first page of the topic) I do not equal law with morality and ethics.
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Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby archenland_knight » 05 Mar 2010, 20:24

Russ wrote:Law is used by evil for its own ends, and there certainly are cases where a person breaking a law does greater good and one who obeys the law does evil. (WW2 Holland: (SS soldiers:) "Are there any Jews in your house?" One person will tell a falsehood to save the hiding Jews - another, firmly believing that any lie is evil, may tell the truth.


So ... you've read The Hiding Place, right?

In case you haven't, it's the book wherein Corrie Ten Boom relates her family's true story as they hid Jews from the Nazis during WWII in Holland.

One of their early, and terribly feeble, attempts at creating a safe place to hide Jews in their home used a trap door in their kitchen floor. When SS soldiers came around, the Jews would go down the trap door, and the family would quickly cover it with a rug, the kitchen table, and a table cloth.

It seems Corrie had a sister who simply refused, under any circumstances, to tell a lie, even when the possible results were disastrous. So, one day the SS came to the house and the Jewish people inside scampered down the hatch and the rug and table, complete with table cloth were quickly placed over the trap door.

The SS burst in and demanded to know where they were hiding the Jews. (The SS already suspected them.) Corrie's truth-telling sister replied, "They're under the table."

With great flourish the SS officer whipped the table-cloth off of the table to reveal ... NOTHING!! His drama, combined with the laughable results, set the soldiers to laughing at their commander, whereon he stormed out of the house in a huff, his men following him.

Corrie's sister had told the absolute truth, and had not only protected the Jews under her care but managed to seriously weaken an SS officer's authority in the process.

I'm not saying it always happens this way. And in fact, I am of the opinion that feeding false information to a regime as evil as the Nazis is perfectly justifiable. However, Corrie's sister stuck by what she truly believed, and was rewarded for it.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
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Re: funeral of a great myth?

Postby ladysherlockian » 08 Mar 2010, 10:43

Maybe I sounded too judgemental, but that is because I am not convinced in my heart that "piracy" is so bad. Nevertheless I try to obey the prohibition of it intellectually and in my deeds - I don't do it even though I am not fully convinced it is evil.
It seems to me that what the sister did was quite risky. The Jews survived I think mainly because of the Nazi officer's stupidity; had he been more inquisitive, he might have searched deeper and found the Jews. Anyway, the truthful sister did not tell the whole truth, did not give the complete directions how to find the Jews. What she said was only the part of truth. But I think we have to remember about the hierarchy of values: telling truth is of course something very good, but saving human lives is much better, more important, and if lying is the surest way of saving lives in a given situation, then you should lie. Being always truthful is not an absolute value.
About the decision of let's say the Corporation which decided to prolong the copyright of CS Lewis's books - well, it is completely right from the business point of view. If they had released the books into the public domain, they would have to make them available for free. I don't know how much the books cost in Lewis's home country or other English-speaking ones, but in Poland they are rather costly - especially the English language editions. And the fans buy the books, even though they are expensive, so the Corporation can earn a lot of money. Do you kill the goose that lays the golden egg? No, unless you are too idealistically-minded.
I would like to know something more about this decision. So it means that the books of Lewis would soon go into public domain had the Corporation not renewed the copyright? They prolonged the copyright for another 70 years? How many times can one prolong a copyright? Is it possible for them to prolong it after these seventy years for another seventy years, and so on forever? Maybe you would give me a link to some articles when I can learn more about it.
There are certain worrying things about the new copyright laws, which restrain the freedom of the recipients. The DRM systems limit the things you can do with the things you have legally bought: they control how you use the ebook e.g. what pages you can print, how many times can you copy it. Soon it will be illegal to lend a book to a friend. Is borrowing a book to your friend stealing? Yes, of course it is, because the author etc. loses money, the amount the friend had to pay if he had to buy the book to read it. The same with libraries - the pirates' dens, when thousands of people can read books without paying. Not at the same time, but still. Do you buy books which you read from borrowed library copies? I sometimes bought the ones I especially enjoyed, but this is a small minority of all library books I have ever read. What about you? Do you buy books even though you can have them from library for free? Look how many authors lost the revenue because you borrowed their books from the library and read them for free instead of paying.
I thought the entire thing with copyright is about money. After all, show business is business - and business has to make money. The so-called artists do not want to share their thoughts and feelings with us(though it is what real artists want to do), they just want to earn more money, and "sharing" it with us is only a side effect of the money drive. But now I am increasingly worried that something more than money is the root of it. It is power and control. Control over what we are reading, listening to, watching, when, how often, and finally who is reading etc. what. Internet may be Big Brother's dream come true. It is already happening. What about DRM-protected songs which just won't play after you have reinstalled Windows - the songs you have bought.
If the Church says it is theft, I will be obedient, though I am not convinced. However, how far can the copyright go? If someone invents a law saying that it is illegal to lend a book to a friend, will lending a book to your friend be a sin?
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