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VM76 - Motion on Punishment of Copyright Infringement

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  • View Poll Results: Do you agree with this motion?
    As many are of the opinion, Aye
    70.73%
    On the contrary, No
    7.32%
    Abstain
    21.95%

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    M76 - Motion on Punishment of Copyright Infringement, TSR GovernmentThis House believes that no man shall be imprisoned or otherwise held captive for copying and anyhow benefiting from copyrighted digital content, which is intended to be sold and that he does not hold legal rights to, if the original content remains undamaged.
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    I still don't understand why this is a motion. The government has the power to change the legal penalty for breach of copyright; you could have made this a bill. Making it a motion seems incredibly lazy. I mean, I'm an Aye, I think it should only be punishable by heavy fine, but this is just... really, really lazy.
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    I still don't understand why this is a motion. The government has the power to change the legal penalty for breach of copyright; you could have made this a bill. Making it a motion seems incredibly lazy. I mean, I'm an Aye, I think it should only be punishable by heavy fine, but this is just... really, really lazy.
    Not at all. This allows the Government to gauge the opinion of the House on this issue before deciding whether to launch into a full Bill with all the necessary research.

    Aye to the motion.
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    (Original post by toronto353)
    Not at all. This allows the Government to gauge the opinion of the House on this issue before deciding whether to launch into a full Bill with all the necessary research.

    Aye to the motion.
    But all you'd have to do is repeal (b) of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, Chapter 48, Section 102, subsections 4. and 5.

    (4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) (a), (b), (d) (iv) or (e) is liable-

    (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both;

    (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or both.

    (4A) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (2A) is liable -

    (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both;

    (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

    (5) A person guilty of any other offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.
    That would be it. Not doing that just seems so lazy.
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    But all you'd have to do is repeal (b) of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, Chapter 48, Section 102, subsections 4. and 5.



    That would be it. Not doing that just seems so lazy.
    You would have to repeal bits and then amend other bits. I'm a bit confused by the criticism because when the Government takes decisive action, you condemn us, when we try to consult the House before writing Bills, you complain. We just can't win.
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    (Original post by toronto353)
    You would have to repeal bits and then amend other bits. I'm a bit confused by the criticism because when the Government takes decisive action, you condemn us, when we try to consult the House before writing Bills, you complain. We just can't win.
    In the Qatada case, you took decisive action which we couldn't vote on. We can vote on a Bill, just as we could a motion. You can win, although I guess you're too busy trying to destabilise the Labour party to actually govern.
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    In the Qatada case, you took decisive action which we couldn't vote on. We can vote on a Bill, just as we could a motion. You can win, although I guess you're too busy trying to destabilise the Labour party to actually govern.
    Hmm getting the EU Bloc set up, writing reports and position papers, setting up a Q&A thread and working on a Commonwealth bloc as well as replying to issues in the MUN yeah it sounds like I'm not doing my job at all. :rolleyes:

    Labour don't need my help to destabilise themselves, but I don't want to drag that up again.

    You complain if we act decisively and you complain if we don't, what do you want from the Government? We just can not win.
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    Aye
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    I really don't think this bill is right, it would just allow people to get away with seroius piracy. It isn't always just people downloading free music on a small scale this would basically allow people to set up pirating industries if all they are going to get is a fine + lots of criminal gangs etc are involved in this sort of thing.
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    (Original post by gmseahorse)
    I really don't think this bill is right, it would just allow people to get away with seroius piracy. It isn't always just people downloading free music on a small scale this would basically allow people to set up pirating industries if all they are going to get is a fine + lots of criminal gangs etc are involved in this sort of thing.
    If the fine is particularly severe rational actors won't risk it. Say you stand to make £1,000,000 from your piracy, but have a 20% chance of getting caught. If the fine was £10,000,000, a rational actor would see that they will gain, on average £(1,000,000*0.8 - 10,000,000*0.2), which is -£1,200,000.
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    If the fine is particularly severe rational actors won't risk it. Say you stand to make £1,000,000 from your piracy, but have a 20% chance of getting caught. If the fine was £10,000,000, a rational actor would see that they will gain, on average £(1,000,000*0.8 - 10,000,000*0.2), which is -£1,200,000.
    Perhaps, but is this how people make decisions in the real world? We see a few things:

    a) It is extremely hard to ascertain the probability of getting caught - it's entirely subjective.
    b) People tend to treat small probabilities as zero.
    c) People often act in a contradictory way when making decisions under uncertainty (even with known probailities - see the Allais paradox).
    d) A better way of analysing the problem is expected utility, rather than expected payoff (St. Petersburg paradox).

    So really it depends on the risk profile of the person - and those involved in criminal activity in the first place are likely to be those that are most willing to take risks.

    With all that in mind, I still support the Bill and I take on board that there are certainly incentive effects of the size of the fine (a £10M fine will deter more than a £10 fine for sure), but I just thought the analysis was a bit simplistic.
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    (Original post by jesusandtequila)
    Perhaps, but is this how people make decisions in the real world? We see a few things:

    a) It is extremely hard to ascertain the probability of getting caught - it's entirely subjective.
    b) People tend to treat small probabilities as zero.
    c) People often act in a contradictory way when making decisions under uncertainty (even with known probailities - see the Allais paradox).
    d) A better way of analysing the problem is expected utility, rather than expected payoff (St. Petersburg paradox).

    So really it depends on the risk profile of the person - and those involved in criminal activity in the first place are likely to be those that are most willing to take risks.

    With all that in mind, I still support the Bill and I take on board that there are certainly incentive effects of the size of the fine (a £10M fine will deter more than a £10 fine for sure), but I just thought the analysis was a bit simplistic.
    A Libertarian criticising a model for making the assumption people are perfectly rational utility-maximization functions? I... I need to lie down!

    In serious terms I entirely agree with you. However, I'm not sure that prison really does much in that respect. I'd rather have 1 year in prison than pay a £1,000,000 fine, for example. There would probably be a scale (although it'd vary by person) of utility loss per year in prison to utility loss per year in fine, which would allow you to say what x amount of years in prison was worth in money. From that respect, the only useful aspect of prison as compared to fines is that while in prison, it is very difficult to commit a crime again.

    I wonder what the recidivism rates for copyright infringement are...
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    A Libertarian criticising a model for making the assumption people are perfectly rational utility-maximization functions? I... I need to lie down!

    In serious terms I entirely agree with you. However, I'm not sure that prison really does much in that respect. I'd rather have 1 year in prison than pay a £1,000,000 fine, for example. There would probably be a scale (although it'd vary by person) of utility loss per year in prison to utility loss per year in fine, which would allow you to say what x amount of years in prison was worth in money. From that respect, the only useful aspect of prison as compared to fines is that while in prison, it is very difficult to commit a crime again.

    I wonder what the recidivism rates for copyright infringement are...
    Heh, I don't often assume people are rational - I just think that the irrationality in people is far more dangerous when you have a few (similarly irrational - not to mention with their own set of incentives) people making decisions for everyone, rather than each making their own decisions. Indeed, I don't consider rationality a necessary condition of supporting free markets nor do I consider irrationality a problem for supporting decentralised decision making (down, where possible - most cases, to the individual).

    Aye, prison versus a fine in terms of utility loss depends largely on initial wealth. The other advantage, as it were, of prison (although not really applicable to here so much) is that it allows us to provide people who have turned to a path of crime with the necessary skills that many do not posses (numeracy, literacy to name the clichéd two), but more importantly to provide them with an exit plan into employment and society to take them away from what is otherwise (for the individual) a necessary path of crime.
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    (Original post by jesusandtequila)
    Heh, I don't often assume people are rational - I just think that the irrationality in people is far more dangerous when you have a few (similarly irrational - not to mention with their own set of incentives) people making decisions for everyone, rather than each making their own decisions. Indeed, I don't consider rationality a necessary condition of supporting free markets nor do I consider irrationality a problem for supporting decentralised decision making (down, where possible - most cases, to the individual).
    What about Concordet's theorem on decision making? I'm sure you know that if you assume on decision X, someone can either be right or wrong, if the average person has a 0.49% chance of getting it right and a million people are sampled, binomial distribution ensures that the chance of the right decision having a majority of the answers is a fraction above 0%. Meanwhile, if one person has 0.8% chance of getting it right, they have a 0.8% chance. If people are better at choosing people who can make good decisions than they are at making good decisions themselves, then a small select group of people actually produces better decisions.

    Aye, prison versus a fine in terms of utility loss depends largely on initial wealth. The other advantage, as it were, of prison (although not really applicable to here so much) is that it allows us to provide people who have turned to a path of crime with the necessary skills that many do not posses (numeracy, literacy to name the clichéd two), but more importantly to provide them with an exit plan into employment and society to take them away from what is otherwise (for the individual) a necessary path of crime.
    I have a feeling that copyright infringement is primarily committed by those who have all the necessary skills to be a contributing member of society but chose not to.
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    (Original post by TopHat)
    What about Concordet's theorem on decision making? I'm sure you know that if you assume on decision X, someone can either be right or wrong, if the average person has a 0.49% chance of getting it right and a million people are sampled, binomial distribution ensures that the chance of the right decision having a majority of the answers is a fraction above 0%. Meanwhile, if one person has 0.8% chance of getting it right, they have a 0.8% chance. If people are better at choosing people who can make good decisions than they are at making good decisions themselves, then a small select group of people actually produces better decisions.
    Of course, but that's not the way politics works is it? People vote for those who will make decisions closest to the ones they would want. So if the majority will make the wrong decision - they'll vote for the one who will pick the wrong decision.

    I think, though, this misses the point somewhat - which is that to get a decision 'right', a major part of the problem is ascertaining the information to make a decision. For sure I'm more likely to make good decisions for myself than if I try to make decisions on another person's behalf - since I know my set of preferences, whilst I do not know the other person's preference set. It's a bit analogous to this:




    The mistake here is to assume there is a 'right' and a 'wrong', whilst my point is that what is right and wrong is different for many different individuals with different preferences, values and situations.

    I have a feeling that copyright infringement is primarily committed by those who have all the necessary skills to be a contributing member of society but chose not to.
    I agree, hence the "although not really applicable to here so much"; merely digressing into more general terms.
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    The aye's have it! The aye's have it!
Updated: April 27, 2012
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