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Can Piracy ever be Justified?

Discussion in 'Serious' started by Darkwisdom, 8 Nov 2015.

  1. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    I would disagree with that, to me taking something which isn't yours would mean the person who you took it from no longer has that something, it's (for me) more like counterfeiting as you're not depriving the original owner of their belonging, with both piracy an counterfeiting you're making a copy that devalues the original.
     
  2. Stanley Tweedle

    Stanley Tweedle NO VR NO PLAY

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    When Microsoft pulled the plug on gfwl they didn't care that customers wouldn't be able to play games they'd purchased. Some of those games were made available through steam by the developer/publisher but some remain broken. Piracy is justified in that case.
     
  3. LennyRhys

    LennyRhys Oink!

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    Actually that's not what the whole thread is about. OP asked can piracy ever be justified, not can you provide your personal justification for piracy. They aren't the same thing. Have you read the OP yet?

    What a ridiculous question. If somebody creates or produces something, it's rightfully theirs. Or, as I assume your stance would be, it's rightfully theirs until you say it's not. Right? :lol:

    Re. the Adele scenario, it's actually legitimate (*by law) to make personal copies of music you already own, as long as you don't redistribute them. So there's no impact to Adele unless you get the album from P2P in which case you are making it available to others for free. So even though (technically) you are pirating, at the same time you aren't really pirating because you already paid for the merchandise.

    I've read and re-read your argument in favour of piracy and all I'm getting from it is that you don't like the way the system works so you're choosing to ignore it rather than play along with it. Nothing illogical there, but logical doesn't necessarily equal justifiable. There are already provisions in place for people who don't like 75% of album content (they are called "singles", neat idea really).

    I've already said that you're choosing to eschew the law simply because it inconveniences you, and you're not demonstrating otherwise. That's certainly a justification for piracy, but it's also probably the weakest one out there.
     
  4. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Trying to be helpful if feel it necessary to point out that just because somebody creates or produces something, does not mean it's rightfully theirs. One exception would be if the work was created by an employe during work then the employer would own it.

    Then there's the question over who owns something when no creation or production takes place, such as copyrighting a name, round corners, or (i kid you not) a plant.

    It's also not legal to make personal copies of music you already own.
     
  5. LennyRhys

    LennyRhys Oink!

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    When I worked as a photographer I had to deal with this from time to time, because occasionally I'd work within the confines of a contract that made the employer the owner of the rights to the image (called "assigning the rights" in legalese). 99% of the time, however, the creator of the material is automatically the copyright holder, which is why I still "own" almost all the photos that I took as a freelancer.

    With music it's far more complicated because there are different rights at play and also many teams of people/corporations involved in the production and distribution of music. Still, it goes without saying that the rightful owner of the music is not little Jimmy in his bedroom browsing TPB. :nono: If there's any disagreement on that point, perhaps somebody could enlighten us as to why pirates should be considered rightful owners of the merchandise that they pirate...
     
  6. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Yea the employer/employe when contracts/freelancing are involved are (afaik) very much based on the type of contact that gets signed, the legal system can be a minefield at times.

    Re: Little Jimmy in his bedroom browsing TPB i wasn't trying to imply he was the owner of the original work, it was more an example of how (i think) the owner/copyright laws aren't as black & white as they seems, if little Jimmy bought the latest Adele CD and then ripped it to MP3 technically, and from the copyright holders perspective, he's still pirating, if there were a way he could download those same songs without also distributing them to others, he's still thief.

    Geo-blocking is a similar grey area, as far as members of the entertainment industry are concerned circumventing Geo-blocking is a violation of copyright laws, laws that seem to label any and all offenders as thieves.

    It seems the legal system and members of the entertainment industry want to treat anyone breaking copyright laws the same, while a no tolerance approach probably sends a strong message IMHO it sends the wrong message, if stealing a mars bar gets treated the same as (for instants) a bank robbery then why not just rob a bank?
     
  7. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Don't you ever think outside the box? I mean, I can accurately say you're arguing that a species of ape should declare ownership over, not air particles, but the way they oscillate...and if particles oscillate like that near another ape then they owe the first ape a thing called money, which is a proxy for labour and even weirder than copyright.

    I remember once watching an interview with Lars Ulrich where he was complaining that Metallica were being pirated. He asked why his maid can download a copy of his work for free, but he can't make her do her work for free. The interviewer nodded, but I thought the answer was obvious - I'm sure the maid would be happy for Lars to watch recordings of her doing her work that one time.

    While you grew up with business practices like these have you ever truly wondered why we think musicians are worth millions but doctors/nurses/ farmers are not? At no point in history has a society decided that musicians deserve such a large chunk of the collective output; We only started doing that alongside an industry of physically tethered recording/playback devices that allowed information to be transported but had an inherent manufacturing/distribution cost.

    Today all information can be shared at nominal cost on a medium that "interprets censorship as damage and routes around it". The time has come to end copyright and freely share ideas, even if that means facing our own decadent value systems, and putting creatives back in their historical economic places...And if you still disagree, well, good luck pitting your anachronistic ideals against an inevitable broadband-speed tide of change.
     
  8. LennyRhys

    LennyRhys Oink!

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    Believe it or not, there are many musicians who have relatively "normal" jobs and make a pretty average income (I was a musician for 7 years, my first vocation). I don't think that high profile musicians are "worth" millions, but it's not up to me is it?

    So writing a song or creating an image are the same as an ape breathing? Yeah, that sounds exactly like my argument... :wallbash:

    The thing is, copyright law is the primary mechanism by which some people earn a living. The industry I'll be going into (entertainment) depends entirely on copyright law for it to function as a commercially viable entity. That doesn't make it perfect, but hey... if you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, that's fine by me. I'd choose common sense ("anachronism)" over folly any day of the week. :thumb:
     
  9. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    That's the difference between a musician and a recording artist. A musician gets paid for playing music. Doing something. On the other hand the very title "recording artist" speaks to it's dependency on technology, or at least where technology was when the term was created; Technology has moved on and while you could force the old paradigm to work you really will be forcing ideals upon reality and end up doing things like criminalizing half of the internet connected global population and suing 8 year olds. It's just what happens when you apply laws of scarcity to an age of abundance.

    I didn't say anything close to that. I was merely pointing out that things can look very different if you take a step back.


    Then let me repost this article technological unemployment (spoiler alert: it's been happening since the wheel)
     
  10. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    I'm not arguing that Piracy is equal to Rape. I'm pointing out the logical flaw in Porkins' argument.

    Porkins is claiming that his justification for piracy is logically superior to our arguments against it. By using his own own words and logic, but replacing "piracy" with something we all find morally reprehensible, I'm showing a flaw in his logic, not equating piracy to rape.

    I have made my own arguments for when I think piracy is okay, but they are all about things that have been abandoned or would otherwise be lost, or for doing what you want with something you have paid for already.

    Porkins' argument is essentially "I do it because I can and you can't stop me." His retorts to our counter arguments are all "semantics, semantics, repeat myself." He has no real understanding of what "free market" means. His response to my word edit asking if his logic applied to anything else was, " . . . and does it?" No. Of course his logic doesn't work on anything else. It doesn't work for piracy either. That's the whole point. He doesn't have an argument.
     
  11. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    Your analogy and rationale are both terrible. Not because rape is a terrible crime. Outside of high level concepts like dont do harm to others, you can't simply apply the logic and arguments for and against one law and expect them to hold up against others. There is a reason why law is large and complex.

    Even the comparison of stealing and piracy is a folly. They are separate crimes, with different criteria for committing them and they affect victims in different ways. There is a reason they have different names.

    Analogy really is the lowest form of rhetoric. Analogues by their nature are incorrect and imprecise. Their use invariably reduces a discussion to finding holes in the analogy rather than dealing with the points of the topic at hand.
     
  12. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    Analogies are used a lot in the study of ethics and logic. Take the Trolley Problem for instance. It's an analogy, but it's extremely useful in understanding the gap between the logic we use to justify an action and our feelings about ethics (especially when it comes to the transplant variant).

    Again, I'm not making an analogy to rape. I'm not saying that piracy is at all analogous to rape. I'm saying that Porkins' logic for his moral defense of piracy is inconsistent because he wouldn't use that logic to defend another action. So he doesn't have the logical high ground in his argument.

    And again, what I'm saying there is only critical of his logic, not of piracy itself. I understand why piracy is different than theft and that it's more complex than simple theft. But Porkins' defense doesn't hold water.

    On your comment on not using logic consistently, I'd say that most philosophers would say that it's extremely important that our laws (and our defense of them) are logically consistent. Our logic for why stealing one apple is wrong is the same as our logic for why stealing 1000 apple iPads is wrong. It doesn't make the crimes equal and it doesn't mean their punishments should be equal, but the logic for why each is wrong is equal.

    When you start looking for exceptions to your logic it usually means that your logic is wrong, or you are choosing favorites. If you say, "Oh yeah, Porkins' logic is air tight for piracy," but see an issue when that logic is applied to something else, then odds are you happen to favor piracy and are looking for reasons to post-rationalize your position.
     
  13. Shirty

    Shirty W*nker! Super Moderator

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    But would the same logic apply if there were infinite apples? If the person the apple was stolen from still had an apple that they could devour at their leisure?
     
  14. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    This is probably going to upset some people but (imo) piracy is not theft, that's the narrative the copyright industry have been successfully pushing into peoples conciseness for many years, copyrights are the rights granted to make a copy, when you make a copy of something you're not stealing the original you're simply copying it, and in the case of piracy doing that without the owners permission, illegally.

    It's like going to some Sunday market and buying a versace handbag (do they make handbags?) you're not buying stolen goods you're buying a counterfeit, a copy, and in the case of digital media that copy can be replicate 100% accurately.

    I (personally) feel by trying to portray piracy as theft the copyright industry are doing themselves a disservice as most people are intelligent enough to know it's not theft and when people know their being lied to their less likely to listen, less likely to believe the rest of the narrative.

    I'm not to saying copying someones work without permission doesn't cause harm, it does, it devalues the original work, it's just that when people know their being lied to even on a subconscious level their less likely to trust the person whose lying to them.
     
  15. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't devalue the work. Gone with the Wind remains a good story no matter how many people have seen it before. All it devalues is the economic paradigm through which the art was created.
     
  16. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Apologies, I wasn't referring to the cultural value, simply the monetary value.
     
  17. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, but I was compelled to comment because that post got to the very crux of the issue, which goes way deeper than piracy. The piracy debate is just a manifestation of competing underlying assumptions.

    Information/Media can be valued on very different, and not necessarily complimentary, terms. Information has an innate value. Stories have cultural value, Blueprints have practical value, etc...However any economic value is merely superimposed from the prevailing economic system and is not innate. The economic value can be whatever we choose it to be, we just need to choose the correct value.

    Now, we live in a representative democracy which requires an informed citizenry to remain healthy. We also live in a society where it's totally normative that different types of information have different costs of entry - Some people can't afford movies, but likewise some people can't afford text books and that is an obvious and immediate threat to the health of our democracy. The fact that some people can't afford movies negatively impacts our democracy too: By limiting an individual's access to our contemporary culture we also limit potential cultural, and therefore, political discourse.

    Information is power, and now that we no longer need to ship atoms to ship bits we need to make copyleft, rather than copyright, ubiquitous for the sake of our society. Otherwise, things are going to get very economically and politically volatile in the information age due to the speed at which all those socio-economic feedback loops can travel through the system.
     
  18. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    If Mr.X pirates a film, but never watches it, and just deletes it from his hdd 12 months later cos he's forgotten why he ever had any interest in the film in the first place, is it right that he should have paid for it regardless? Has the copyright holder been impacted unfairly? In my mind Mr.X has benefited zilch, and the copyright holder has only lost out on a potential sale to someone who obviously didn't particularly want the film in the first place and hasn't even watched it. It's not significantly different to taking something back to the shop unused and getting a refund.

    What if Mr.Y has a 7 year old daughter who asks to watch a film he's heard mixed things about, so he pirates the film to check its content, before deciding it is ok for his daughter and so proper payment is made for his daughter to watch the film (be it cinema/dvd/streamed)? If you think that's unjustifiable, do you think the copyright holder would have preferred Mr.Y just to play it safe and flat-out refuse the film for his daughter because he wasn't satisfied it was appropriate. Me thinks the copyright holder prefers the outcome where some money is paid and a customer is satisfied. I.e. the outcome aided by piracy.

    If Mr.Z goes to a restaurant and orders the house special, but finds that the meal was very disappointing and refuses to pay for it, where does he sit on the scale of justification? It's not something I've ever done (though I've had grounds to), but it goes on, and many people would say justifiably.

    Why do Amazon offer refunds on Kindle books within 14 days of purchase? Cinemas and other sources of film/music don't tend to offer refunds once the film has started/CD has been opened etc., but Amazon gives you 14 days to decide if your ebook purchase was one you wanted to make. Amazon clearly believes in the idea of a fair and transparent kindle book purchase. Because Amazon trusts it's customers to support the content they like. Amazon somehow seems to have justified the idea of giving customers a transparent choice in their kindle book purchases.


    Yes, it is outside a mutually agreed transaction, but re. Amazon kindle books above, we can see that the theory of full access to a product for a customer while retaining the right to a full refund, is workable. It is therefore justified, in practice, by one of the leading retailers in the world.

    I have used piracy simply to apply that same theory even when the seller doesn't offer it. I use piracy to say to the seller, "Look, I can either forego your product completely, or you can let me try it on for size". Films and music are not sold in consumer-friendly ways. How is non-consumer-friendly selling justifiable? Piracy is a form of consumer negotiation. The fact is we can try these products on for size, we can watch a film before committing to the DVD, so why not improve the relationship by letting us do it in an open manner.


    So, does logic have to apply the same way to everything? Does the logic for legalising cannabis have to be the same logic as that used for legalising euthanasia? And just what is this 'sexy market' you're on about?


    So ****ing what?. At the point of purchase the costs of production are irrelevant. I bought Transistor on Steam recently. It was so cheap I almost may as well have pirated it, but I didn't. It has 'overwhelmingly positive' reviews. I tried for a couple of hours and and decided it wasn't for me, so requested a Steam refund. At no point did Valve contact me saying, "Hang on a minute, don't you know how long it took the developer to make this game? Do you know how much it cost? They've got bills to pay as well you know, you greedy, arrogant, selfish *******!" No, instead, they just processed the refund. Ultimately, what difference did it make to the copyright holder whether I bought it on Steam or pirated it? If I'd pirated it, tried it for the same length of time, then never played it again, how is the copyright holder somehow a poor victim of theft/piracy, when the outcome was exactly the same. And how the **** do the costs of production come in to it? Staggered that you think they're relevant to the debate.

    If I know what I'm buying, I will buy, but if I don't know what I'm getting I won't buy. Piracy helps me in this. Just because other people may use piracy for different reasons, doesn't impact the justification I'm making.


    You're either twisting my words to suit your own bias, or you're just not comprehending, and it's not because what I've written is incomprehensible... Try instead "I'm interested, I'll try it out and buy it if I like it. And you can't stop me :hehe: :p "


    Ok, so can we clarify when a justification does and doesn't make something justified? Are you expecting us to come up with some universal justification that applies in all cases?

    Saving life and protecting property is used as a justification for many exemptions from the law (e.g. emergency vehicles speeding to attend an incident). This means that speeding is justified... in some cases. Are we not open to justify piracy in some cases?


    So have you read the two real-life examples I've given in this thread (re. Nintendo products and Star Wars) where I've clearly outlined how piracy has enabled me to participate and develop my interest in the respective industries, to the extent where, in the example of Nintendo, I've ended up buying 3 consoles and a boat load of their games (I would not be participating in the console sub-industry if pirating hadn't expanded my horizons on my Gamecube).

    Have you not considered how the difference between buying and returning a game on Steam or pirating and deleting the same game is negligible?

    My justification for piracy is along the lines of "I'm fairly interested in what you're selling, but the current terms are no good for me, so I'm either going to walk away and stay away or I'm going to pirate it to try it out until you can provide a different way for me to do so".

    One of the reasons I reckon content makers aren't offering the terms I'd like, is because deep down they know piracy, in the cases of people like me (who are tight with their money but ultimately understand that good products need supporting), does help them, so better leave piracy in place for such people without opening up to the rest of the market to the world of refunds etc.


    Wrong. I do it because I can and it helps the copyright holders if it turns out I like the product, and if I don't like the product I see no justification in paying for it when you're not losing anything other than the profit from an unsatisfied customer.

    You've deduced this how?

    ...because your word edit was non-sensical. I deliberately did that to highlight that the analogy wasn't entirely sound or clear, and because I knew others would likely chime in about the weakness in it. Your word edit, while mildly amusing, did not strengthen your argument and I saw no reason take the time to pick it apart when I knew others others would see it for what it was. If I'd had the time I might have done so anyway, but I was busy over the weekend, and now.. well, we've seen what others make of it...

    Do you not notice how the trolley problem ultimately comes down to the individual's own values - there is no right answer. Different people will have different answers.


    Logic for making laws to control large populations is not the same as plain logic though. There's a logic for giving people the choice over things like cannabis, but there's a different logic for making cannabis illegal to maintain better control over a population. We can say that cannabis is logically illegal, but at the same time it can be logical for an individual to use it.

    I'm not saying legalise piracy. I'm saying there are logical justifications for consumers/the market to ensure a fuller understanding of the products they're buying as ultimately it will make for a better marketplace.

    Let's imagine an experiment. Instead of paying for things upfront, customers were given full access to the product for free and left to decide afterwards whether to pay, and the outcome would determine whether any more were made:

    - Half-Life 2 - lots of people like it, so they pay to support the idea of another Half-Life. Yay.

    - FIFA/Call of Duty - lots of people realise they're not really getting any significant changes from the last iteration, and that they had previously been buying into the franchise due to being swayed by a cinematic advert on TV (CoD) or the promise of 'innovative true-to-life ball physics' (FIFA). Suddenly the market for these iterative releases drops, the amount of money put into marketing these iterative releases drops, and we get more actual innovation in the market. Oh nooos!
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2016
  19. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Not sure that's in any way true, assuming I'm understanding your argument here. What you're saying - and feel free to correct me if I've misunderstood, here - is that people wouldn't buy Battlefield of Duty 27 if they had a chance to play it and realise that it was just Battlefield of Duty 26 with a new multiplayer map. Which, I'll grant you, makes sense - but only for the second sequel in any given iterative release cycle.

    I buy BoD 1, and like it. So,
    I buy BoD 2, and realise it's just BoD 1 all over again, However,
    I buy BoD 3, and it's still just BoD 1. So, I stop buying the franchise.

    Any purchases of BoD 4 or more are entirely on me: I should have spotted the pattern by now, and access to a demo (or the full version of) BoD 4 should not sway me in any way. However, the fact that people are still buying all the Battlefield of Duties and Pro Evolution FIFAs tells me that either they have terrible pattern recognition or they don't mind that it's just the same game again with an even less coherent plot and a couple of new maps. In fact, that seems to be what they want.

    They buy BoD 1, and like it. So,
    They buy BoD 2, and realise it's just BoD 1 all over again - which is fine by them. So,
    They buy BoD 3, and 4, and 5, and 6, [...] and 27. Acti Arts bathes in money while working on reskinning the game ready for BoD 28's blockbuster release.

    If someone owns a string of annual-release games, why would you think that giving them access to next year's iteration would suddenly make them realise that they're wasting their lives?
     
  20. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    T'was only a casual hypothesis, playing on the juxtaposition that supposedly everyone loves Half-Life yet Valve aren't giving us any more, while everyone hates FIFA and CoD and yet they sell like hot-cakes. Sure, with each release of CoD/FIFA etc. there are (a) new customers and (b) staunch fans of the series, because ultimately, generally speaking, they are not 'bad' games (I love FIFA, but I only need one iteration per generation to satisfy my need), but I suspect there's a significant proportion who are swayed by the marketing/hype for the latest version and if they had full access before paying they would conclude they weren't going to get much out of the latest version. Those franchises aren't going to die because people have suddenly had the fog of marketing lifted from the minds, but it would help focus developers of genuine innovation and perhaps put less money in to marketing.

    I'm all for 'needing' that next FIFA, but I want to need it because I've tried it and loved it, not because I hope I'm going to love it. Hope is easier to exploit than reality.

    I guess it comes down to, do we want satisfied customers or unsatisfied customers, and if we want satisfied customers, do we want to tell them what they want and give it to them, or do we want to give them what they tell us they want? How does that saying go: is it the customer who's always right, or the seller?


    Well, I wouldn't say 'wasting their lives' (what better way to spend a life than gaming yourself silly?) but I think there's a lot of people who buy things, particularly trivial stuff like games/CDs/DVDs, that catch their eye and then justify the purchase afterwards (once they've got no choice but to accept it), sometimes feeling underwhelmed by their decision (other times feeling ripped off). Don't you want to be properly happy about every purchase you make? Don't sellers want their customers to be properly happy about every sale they make?

    What we currently have is people going through their lives, being easily sold on something in their youth, and over time they just become more and more cautious because they've felt hard done by too many times. Which could be part of the reason we live in a culture where the trends of 13-25 year olds have such a disproportionate influence. They don't have more money than the Over 25s, they've just got less experience of being ripped off. Let's grow a society where we don't have to be as cautious because we can have more confidence in what we're buying.

    If piracy didn't exist, do we think Valve would be offering refunds at this stage in time, given what we know about the creative industries in the past? I doubt it. Do we think Steam's policy on game refunds, and Amazon's policy on Kindle book refunds, is an improvement on the past? I do. And I (we) have piracy to thank for that improvement. That's why piracy can be justified. It's brought about change. Who (apart from the rich media moguls) doesn't think Napster brought about an improvement in the music industry? Has the music industry/society in general, suffered since the changes Napster initiated?

    Everyone loves buying stuff. Western Capitalism got that right. But everyone prefers buying good stuff - let's try and work on that.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2016

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