Confession? Get it? Catholic joke.
I was recently screamed at about my selective ethics. About intellectual property no less! For years I have been a subscriber to NetFlix. Love it. Sometimes, I can’t watch the videos when they send ’em to me—I’m out of town or whatever. So I rip ’em. Yep I do. And then, perhaps a month later, I watch ’em. But then I toss ’em. This is bad, if for no other reason that I’m contributing to the toxic waste problem. But more to the point, it’s also a violation of federal law that states that no copying at all is allowed. Tough, I say. It passes the JCHVSEST because at no time do I pass the content on and never do I watch more than once before giving the disc the boot.
And while I’m confessin’ the blues, I’ll tell ya another way I’m a total scofflaw. I got over 800 DVDs at last count. I purchased pretty much every last one of ’em used for $6 or less so don’t think I’m made of money. The first one I bought was for my then, eight year old step-son. He ruined that DVD
But wait a doggoned minute you say! You’re violating your own tenet. The seller did not tell you you could do that! It’s not in your licence, so you’re a total hypocrite. Well, yes and no. With a book or a CD or, in fact, every other type of intellectual property known to man, the courts have ruled that the purchaser has a right to Fair Use. And that means I get to make a copy for personal use only. It is only with the advent of the DVD that U.S. lawmakers have broken with accepted international law and decided that DVDs are somehow intrinsically different and not entitled to the same Fair Use standard. What? In my view, one should be entitled to the same consistent rights of fair use for all intellectual property; not just the types that got more lobbying money.
So am I a scofflaw? I suppose. I suppose that by absolutist standards I’m not following my own rule about contracts. But what if the contract itself is inconsistent with pre-existing case law and general practice?
The thing I’ve learned is that people will usually do what they do and rationalise it as ‘ethical’. So maybe I’m kidding myself with my unique combination of ‘rules’ and all too convenient ‘loopholes’ that just seem to fit my practice. But I don’t think so.
Of course; I would say that.