The Headline Chasers
Magic on Radio - Thursday 89.9FM

From the mouth of a pirate

I was alerted to the fact that someone had posted one of our DVDs on a file sharing site and lots of people were downloading copies and offering their thanks to this, shall I say, copyright infringer.

I wrote to him explaining that I was unhappy that he had so little respect for me (and the 217 other magicians whose DVDs he's uploaded) and he kindly took the time to state his side of the argument.

John seems very confident he is doing nothing wrong and, by me writing to him, I am "attacking" him. John, if you are 100% in the right, please email me your name and address and we'll let the FBI decide if uploading DVDs to file-sharing sites is illegal or not.

So, I give you, "Self Justification" by Johnscate.

Dear Mr. Ellis,

First of all, you are directing your dis-appreciation and ire to the wrong entity. Why not just contact [file-sharing site] and have the ‘offending’ material deleted by their moderators. Did you just join [file-sharing site] today so that you can attack me and write this unfair criticism?

Did you also write to the 57 Million other P2P file-sharers out there as your Ellis In Wonderland DVD has been all over the Internet at both public sites and newsgroups long before I shared it on Demonoid. Were you aware of that? Why didn’t you write to and attack the companies who make recordable blank DVD’s and DVD burners or the PC manufacturers who put these items in their computers or even the TiVo companies for that matter.

As far as your comment and example about ‘stealing’ is concerned, you’ve apparently bought into and believe the media myth and over-hype about all of this. Stealing requires asportation. In other words, it requires that the ‘thief’ take something with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. That’s not what happens with file-sharing. Nobody is denied the use of anything. You, the owner, still have your product as your digital version does not disappear. On the other hand, if someone goes to WalMart and takes a DVD off the rack without paying for it, WalMart no longer has that particular DVD; that is stealing! If one downloads or uploads material to a website, nobody else is deprived of it. Please don’t equate me with the thug who comes into a QuickyMart or magic store and rips off the store at gunpoint or something. IT IS NOT THE SAME THING!!

Regarding your potential losses, that is a bogus argument also. This is mere conjecture, innuendo, speculation and opinion. You do not really know that the downloaders of your material didn’t buy your DVD after ‘trying’ it out first or not. The truth is that many file-sharers use the mechanism as a 'try before you buy' and many of those that don't buy wouldn't have bought it anyway. While there is no doubt there may be some minimal lost revenue, the amount is unknown and almost certainly grossly overstated. If the industries or artists affected would price their products sensibly and improve the quality of the content fewer people would even bother to file share. See the comment by ‘aaron85282’ to your comment on the [file-sharing] website.

Furthermore, downloads DO NOT EQUATE to lost sales! At least, it has never been absolutely proven. The reality is that no one has ever been able to demonstrate any actual loss of revenue as a result of file-sharing. And if there was, the amount is unknown and almost certainy grossly overstated. In general, this is usually a cry from poorly performing content producers whose over-priced product oftentimes fails to generate revenue simply because of poor quality content and/or too high a price! Besides, the DVD in question is basically an abbreviated version anyway as it’s not the full and complete DVD.

As far as copyright infringement is concerned, Copyright laws are protection from unauthorized commercial use, not non-profit file-sharing. Copyrights are not a natural right. Nobody has a natural right to an idea or a concept. Thomas Jefferson even stated this in his opposition to the patent clause of the Constitution. Copyrights are deemed a pseudo-‘right’ solely because our U.S. Congress says they are. Congress could turn around tomorrow and repeal all copyright laws if it so desired (as unlikely as that is).

Are you aware of several major companies recent negotiations with the BitTorrent file-sharing networks to share their products similar to Apple’s I-Tunes with a modest fee or subscription? File-sharing isn't theft or stealing as it’s providing musicians, magicians, and other artists an opportunity to distribute their talent to an enormous audience of potential customers for free. I know a professional magician, who is to remain anonymous, who needs and depends on file-sharing. Laws against file-sharing are anti-small business and seek only to foster giant corporate monopoly, in my opinion. I think you need to accept the fact that the next burgeoning revolution in computer technology is P2P file-sharing and it’s not going to go away. Companies and individuals that cling to the past need to learn to move on. Lawsuits are not going to shut down the Internet. The Internet is vast and encompasses the globe and file sharing will just move to other countries if necessary. File-shari ng programs and websites are here to stay. Take advantage of the technology! Change is inevitable. Accept it!

If it’s any consolation for you, I do own your ’24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis’ DVD, although I have seen it available recently on a newsgroup website, but I don’t remember which one. I think, for the most part, if consumers like you and your material, then they will BUY your product. As a final ‘whatever it’s worth" and closing statement, I believe it was Jonathan Pendragon who said the following: "Secrets themselves are not really all that special…the real secrets of magic are showmanship, misdirection, and artistry stuff that cannot really be taught, but has to be learned through experience!" Enough said!