Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What I'm Downloading

So what am I downloading with Azureus? Funny you should ask. I won't get into a long diatribe about copyrights and illegal copying, but will say that no, I'm not downloading warez, movies or MP3s (except legally from the afore-mentioned magnatune.com). No, I'm pulling down TV shows.

Now, the first thing my co-worker Rob would say is that there's no difference between pulling down movies and TV shows. IANAL, but I recall hearing that the Supreme Court ruled that time-shifting TV shows was legal and fair-use. This was in reference to the use of VCRs to tape and later watch shows. And no, it was not in reference to people putting TV shows on P2P networks. So is what I'm doing on shaky ground? Well, one of the shows I'm grabbing is Samurai Jack. Another was 24, although I only watched S1-Ep1.

But the biggest use of my bandwidth is a show that has explicitly given permission to share copies. It's Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The first half of the episodes had the text "Keep Circulating the Tapes" in the credits, and the website I linked to above has a page of folks willing to share copies (or even sell them).

Unfortunately, even with their permission, there's a shaky side to that as well. Seems Rhino Home Video sells copies of some episodes as well, including eps that have the "Keep Circulating" message in the credits. Best Brains, of course, would like to encourage sales of those episodes, so they have their trader list only include folks who aren't sharing the for-sale eps.

As far as issues, I can see both sides. It was on TV, meaning I could have (and did) tape episodes and legally give them to my friends. It's not even being shown as repeats any more, so you can't watch it that way. OTOH, somebody owns the copyright, and is allowed to say what can and can't be done with it. Gray area, but until the hopefully-fictional TVAA starts suing viewers, I'm assuming it's legal, and grabbing what I'm interested in.

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