Yesterday, I provided a short analogy where I hoped to provide some similarities between telling secrets and downloading copyright protected music. The crux of my argument was if I tell you a secret on the terms that you are not to disclose it to anyone else, you are bound to those terms. However, if someone else overhears me telling you the secret, that person is not bound by any non-disclosure agreement.
I don’t think that follows — considering Gordon is refering to the practice of downloading music from p2p systems the third party is more like someone who actively seeks the rumour, for example by eavesdropping. True, the person relaying the rumour (putting the content on the p2p network) is eagerly breaking the agreement not to pass it on, but the third party has to actively go to their metaphorical house specifically to get the rumour. They’re not really that innocent.
We both can agree that the person putting the content on the p2p network has likely violated their agreement with the recording company who sold them a CD, video, or similar licensed material. We differ on the eavesdropping portion, though.
Society does not consider something wrong with actively seeking rumors, so long as no rights are violated in the process. To be sure, journalists and bloggers do this all the time. As long as one does not trespass on someone’s real property in order to eavesdrop, no moral violation occurs. In my example, I actually yelled the secret across a bar, so no eavesdropping was even involved in that case.
Likewise, the major p2p companies do their yelling in the form of advertising, inviting people into their “metaphorical house” in order to download music. Again, there is no trespass. The person who downloads the music may be guilty in a court of law, but totally innocent in moral reality.