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Decisions, decisions - Lethargic Man (anag.) — LiveJournal

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2005-05-31 20:21
Subject: Decisions, decisions
Security: Public
This Sunday, I have the choice of:

At the New North London shul, Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg speaking at the launch of the former's book Judaism and Theology: Essays on the Jewish Religion.

Or, alternatively, the Marom Shmooze on "Halachah - Jewish law, Masorti, What I'm Obliged to Do and Liverpool Football Club": "[...] If the law does not seem to reflect the values of its adherents, at what point does one say 'screw the rules'?"*

Aagh, decisions, decisions. Both sound interesting... but I've already passed by the opportunity to hear Louis Jacobs speak once, and I don't want to repeat what happened when I missed (though no fault of my own) the opportunities to hear both Jim Watson and Francis Crick speak within weeks of each other in 1995, and knew that would be the last chance I'd get - and indeed Francis Crick has since died. (Louis Jacobs is 84.)

OTOH Louis Jacobs is speaking again in a few weeks on the relevance of the Rambam.

I expect I'll probably go to the Jacobs talk...

* Case in point: the translation of various tractates of Talmud I referred to on my blog earlier this week. Copyright law has become grossly extended by the multinational corporations; why on earth should an author's descendants seventy-five years after their death (in the States) still be receiving royalties on their work? (Speaking as a writer myself, I'd revert the cut-off back to death plus twenty-five.) And why should it be illegal to make compilation CDs of the tracks I like off the CDs I bought legally? (Previously legal here but outlawed by the EU Copyright Directive the other year.) But what about a corporate work produced forty-five years ago. Where does the ethical cut-off lie?
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Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al: ewe
User: livredor
Date: 2005-06-06 11:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I never said I supported the ethical position of that website.
No, but you strongly implied it by giving it as an example of ethical dissent against laws that don't reflect one's values.

Indeed, when I first linked to it I wasn't really aware of it
But when you mentioned it again, you were. And you linked to its page on why the people on that site think copyright doesn't apply to them, which boiled down to, well, someone else copied this material and Soncino never sued so that makes it ok. Even if you didn't notice the oh-so-subtle antisemitism.

having done less investigation than you and pseudomonas
So investigate! The nasty stuff was only a couple oflinks deep. And if you see someone doing something that is obviously legally and morally dodgy, you should start with a sceptical approach. Assuming everybody is nice like you is all very well, but there were plenty of things about that site that should have been huge red flags. Particularly if you care enough to make a post about the site; realizing who was behind it wouldn't have been any more effort than that.

But that only applies to such works as I produce, which is going to be a tiny fraction of copyrighted work affected by the principle.
That's taking my comment entirely out of context. I also said you should encourage other people to take the same approach, and maybe get involved in some official movement to change the nature of copyright. If I'd only said that you should apply your principles to your own work, this would be a reasonable argument. But that's quite the opposite of what I believe, I do think that if you want political change you have to do something beyond modifying your own individual behaviour.

And the subject of the discussion was not unilaterally deciding you're above the law but if the law does not seem to reflect the values of its adherents, when should the law be disregarded?
But I am arguing that your proposed method is so unilateral that the effects are going to be that, even if your intention was otherwise. You're part of a society which, collectively, has influence on the development of laws. There are cases when breaking the law is ethical, but you'd have to do a lot of convincing to persuade me that simply helping yourself to unlicensed copies of copyright works is an example of that.

Particularly if, as in the case of the copyright system in the US, the law is in the hands of the multinationals?
You don't seem to be making any argument beyond the one I already dismissed, here. It's easy enough to appeal to emotion by talking about how you're only harming "multinationals" which are big enough to dismiss your actions as collateral loss and are evil anyway. But this is hopelessly naive; in reality stealing from corporations harms individuals, including artists, including poor people, including people to whom you do have an ethical obligation.

Regarding a law as wrong is not the same as deciding you're above the law
Regarding it as wrong isn't, gratuitously breaking it very likely is. Not absolutely necessarily, but you have provided no convincing reasons so far why what you're proposing counts as an exception here.
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