Since many people had asked me this before and some did just recently – I do believe in copyright law. I believe that the person who created a piece of something, be that music, movie, software, or anything else, has the right to dictate how this piece can be used, distributed, and copied.
I try to obide by the copyright law, but I am not always successful. There is no hypocrisy in this. In the same way, I believe in the traffic laws but don’t always follow them. I try to though.
For all the copyrighted material, there are three areas huge areas where I can make the difference – music, movies, and software (I’m not counting books as most of the people follow the copyrights in this area and I won’t make any difference anyway). Out of these three I follow the law in movies and software. This is to say that I am allowed by the licenses to use all the software that I am using and I have bought all the originals (or I am looking for those) of all movies that I have in my home collection.
Now, with software this is very easy. For the last five or so years I’ve been running mostly GPL software. All programs that I was executing on any one of my computers were either licensed by GPL, BSD or some similar license or have been paid in full. There aren’t many examples of commercial software, but there are some. Full Quake suite with all three games and patches and the Platinum Half Life Suite, which included Half Life, Counter Strike, Team Fortress Classic and something else. I don’t remember since I don’t use it much.
With movies it is a little more difficult, but I tried my best. There aren’t that many movies that I want to have in my home collection, and I bought the original video or DVD (or both) versions of all of them. Except a couple of films which are not that easy to find on either media, or those which copyrights are not that clear. Example: “The General” with Buster Keaton from 1927.
Music is a total other story for me. I have a huge collection of mp3s. In my whole life I have bought maybe two or three CDs and I have been given another five or so as presents. Obviously, I am breaking the law here. It’s been hard for me to reason myself into buying original CDs anyway. I have a huge collection but I am not using it. The last time I was listening to an mp3 was way before the times when I started thinking about copyright laws. I can easily live without all these files. My wife and my friends are using this collection more than I do. In this perspective, I am just a local mirror. I am saving them some time on searching and downloading. But on the other hand, few of them are such sound freaks that they are not satisfied with the low quality mp3s from my collection and have to buy the originals on CDs or some other media.
Anyway, with all of these laws in place, I will be teaching my son to appreciate the law and hopefully he will sort out my mp3 collection and pay for all of it. Or at least those parts which are covered by copyright law. Oh, wait! Half of it actually covered by my collection of vynil back in Russia. Loving classics pays off you know.