Letters to the editor



Is it realy the editorial policy of the Concordian to approve of or encourage media piracy and copy right infringement?

What else is one to think when Martin Stoch devotes and entire article to a detailed explanation of how to benefit from content downloaded from peer to peer networks?

“The Concordian shall not publish letters that contain racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic references…” But tacit approval of the theft of copyrighted material is o.k.?

Richard Carruthers
BA’98 (Communication Studies)

Martin Responds:

First of all, last week’s Tech Talk wasn’t “a detailed explanation of how to benefit from content downloaded from peer to peer networks.” You’re probably thinking of my column from March 23, 2005, which was just that. Last week’s column was actually an explanation of the different abbreviations you might come across while downloading movies. This week I talk about television shows and anime, and next week I deal with applications, games and music.

I think that file-sharing is a major social trend that deserves to be reported on and thoroughly documented. I’m not quite sure on what grounds you are arguing against my column, but you touch on the illegality of file-sharing. While certain forms of file-sharing are illegal, others are not. This isn’t really important, since we’re talking about writing about file-sharing, and not file-sharing itself.

Also, what you quoted as our “editorial policy” is actually our publishing policy for letters. Tech Talk is a column, not a letter. This means that I’m allowed and even expected to include my opinion in my writing. It goes without saying that this opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinions of my peers or of the paper as a whole.

Even so, I feel confident that every member of the editorial board wholeheartedly supports my right to make my opinions known. Hypothetically speaking, if I decided to write that I believe everyone should file-share, I could do so. Legally speaking, the Charter of Rights (and to a lesser extend the Bill of Rights) would protect me. And even if my opinion wasn’t protected by Canadian law, even if it was deemed illegal, if I thought something had to be said, I would say it.

I think you might want to take a closer look at the Canadian Criminal Code. File-sharing clearly falls outside of its definition of theft. Also, I find it quite disturbing that you equate file-sharing with racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. These elements of your argument reflect an attitude I hope my column can help change.

What I write does familiarize people with how file-sharing works. However, this information is already publicly available. File-sharing has been extensively documented, not only online but in the mainstream press as well. You can even buy a copy of “BitTorrent for Dummies” at your local Chapters bookstore.

If nothing else your letter has demonstrated that what I write encourages debate on what is traditionally a one-sided subject. Few things could make me more proud of my work.

As a journalist, I believe that morality rather than legality should be the ultimate criteria when deciding what to print. Personally, I have mixed views on the subject of file-sharing, and don’t see it as a black-and-white issue. I hope to inform people about the often-underreported side of this important debate. I think that what I write can help people to make an informed decision for themselves, without making the decision for them.

I put a lot of time, effort and thought into my columns because I respect my readers. Perhaps next time you might extend the same courtesy to me. If you would like to inform yourself more thoroughly about file-sharing, I recommend visiting the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at cippic.ca.

Martin Stoch
Online Editor & Technology Columnist
The Concordian


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