Can You Name An Example Where Suing For Copyright Infringement Made Business Sense?

from the thinking...-thinking... dept

Responding, in part, to our analysis of how Hasbro's handling of the Scrabulous situation was about as poor a business decision as it could make, Information Week's Mitch Wagner asks a very good question: Can you name a company that has aggressively fought so-called "piracy" of its products and found that to be a successful business strategy? As he notes, there are plenty of examples of the opposite -- companies that have learned to embrace such "piracy" and build business models around dealing with it. In fact, Matt Mason has a whole book of examples of that.

But is there a single company that aggressively sued for copyright infringement, and found that strategy to make good business sense?

It hasn't worked with the recording industry -- which is seeing more and more unauthorized file sharing every day, as its own sales decrease (and, it would seem, its legal bills increase). So, let's help Mitch out. Can anyone think of a company where this strategy was actually net positive for the business?


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  1.  
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    Eeqmcsq, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:35pm

    Definitely not today in the Information Age where information and ideas get copied, derived, distributed so easily, that by the time the copyright holder tries to sue and win, people either have moved on to the next big thing, or people have already developed a negative attitude and perception towards the copyright holder, and that's even more damaging.

     

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    orlin, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:52pm

    may be an example?

    I am not sure if this is a good example, but Adidas got a few millions a while ago for 3 stripes. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/05/07/adidas-v-payless-100-million-for-every-stripe-payless-could-pay- more/

    Copyright helped quite a lot IBM during the 60s and 70s. After all everything in/out/around the computer was IBM, not a change for a competitor to come in.

    Apple suing a company, that sold PCs with Mac OS preinstalled.

    Basicly an example might come only from a competition between two companies. In the case of RIAA - it is suing it's customers, a bad example of a business model!

     

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    Frankie Crisp, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:43pm

    Apple Corp vs Apple Computer/Inc

    Trademark infringement cases, not copyright, but Apple Corp has done all right before, during and after all the legal squabbles with keeping Steve Jobs in check. The Beatles Empire rocketh forward mightily with or without iTunes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:56pm

    I heard there were a few companies out in Silicon Valley's branded communities that made excellent business decisions in doing so.

     

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    Doug Robb, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:14pm

    Here is an example.

    Nothwithstanding the Scrabulous situation which was probably a bad move given the relatively easy work arounds and easy access to a market in many industrial situations it makes perfect sense to sue for copyright infringement.

    I recall a case where industrial machinery was being manufactured in China and imported back to Australia and sold to mining company's undercutting the local manufacturer. The Australian company was able to prove the design was theirs (various design features that required significant research to perfect) and conversely the importer was not able to demonstrate any design processes.
    (so the design appeared to be just be a copy of the original with minor variations).

    Anyway the importer was stopped on the basis of copyright infringement in that they had been built to the same specifications or plan. Architects designs are similarly copywright protected as well and they usually are keen to pursue people who copy them - albeit its a grey area to prove at times.

     

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    John, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 11:02pm

    The prisoner dilemma

    To me, suing for copyright infringement is akin to the prisoner dilemma. Company A and Company B are in a copyright battle. They would most likely both benefit from not suing each other, but Company A assumes B will sue and vice versa.

    Also, assuming companies operate in a closed economic system, lawsuits take money out of the system through legal fees.

    The answer to the copyright problem is idyllic, but not as out of reach as most people believe it to be. Like prisoners in the prisoner dilemma or the townspeople in the tragedy of the commons, companies profit most when they exist on a level playing field - i.e. a free market. They profit most when they spur each other on to produce newer products and cheaper goods. Competition breeds better and newer products and also expands the economy.

    People need to have more faith in humanity. Just believing that people are good and responsible would help eliminate a lot of the world's problems.

     

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    Michael Long, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 1:06am

    Probabilities

    Actually, you probably have this one backwards, as it's the THREAT of being sued that actually protects most of the content out there.

    If it didn't, if there was no chance of being sued for infringement, then companies would build web sites that hosted every song in existence, youTube would have no qualms about streaming every TV show, radio stations would play anything and everything with no royalties, rogue businesses would copy and press the latest CDs and DVDs and immediately reprint bestsellers, pirate theater chains would show movies copied from legitimate chains for a buck, and so on.

    Without copyright and the deterence effect of lawsuits, and the legal penalities that ensue, the entire existing content creation chain would fall apart.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 2:40am

    It's all about control - if all your analyses omit trying to calculate the value of control (they do) then they are all inadequate.

     

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    Kiba, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 3:42am

    Re: Probabilities

    I seriously doubt people would stop producing musics, arts, and games if the copyright regime fall apart....

     

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    PRMan, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 3:56am

    But

    Every movie would be low-budget shot on a camcorder with home PC special effects, every album would be an indie album.

    I think the poster that said company A suing company B that is trying to compete unfairly is what it's for. MAFIAA suing consumers is just dumb.

    60 Minutes had a story a while back where Callaway golf clubs started doing brisk business in Asia after eliminating all the copycats through lawsuits, even though it had been expensive and difficult.

    Basically, until it's like Star Trek and we all have matter rearrangers that make us a steaming cup of Earl Grey, it will be like this.

     

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    Sean, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 4:48am

    Re: But

    Better got on with that patent for a matter rearranging device then... and the business process... and the software too. BTW I've just trademarked the term "Matter Rearranging" so please take this post down or I'll set phaser to "kill"...

     

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    James, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 5:48am

    So plenty of examples already and a flawed initial premise by comparing companies suing each other to the RIAA suing consumers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:09am

    Danger, Danger....FALLACY Alert
    What are you 12? Seriously, mike.
    Have you ever heard of anyone who was happy because they had to sue someone in small claims court?
    This is just another attack on music industry, because you could fix everything, because obviously you are a genius. I thought you had "bigger fish to fry."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Compliance

    Suing for use of copyright outside scope of license (i.e., they kept using the software, photos, etc. beyond the term of the license) or for non-licensing (bars that don't get the appropriate licenses) is usually pretty successful, since there's no question there's been an infringement.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:17am

    Every Single Case of Copyright Makes Business Sense

    Every Single case involving copyright makes business sense to the lawyers on both sides.

     

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    Willton, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Probabilities

    I seriously doubt people would stop producing musics, arts, and games if the copyright regime fall apart.

    Perhaps, but it's highly probable that the population of music, arts and games creators would decline. Sure, you'd get some of those things, but not nearly as much as you do now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:35am

    You're skirting right past the real issue of property ownership and rights to that ownership. Most often it doesn't pay for both parties in a lawsuit, due to the amounts of money required to wage a legal battle. Embrace piracy? Why stop there? Embrace auto theft. Embrace shoplifting. I can just hear your excuse for that: Well, since there are so many shoplifters stealing from your store, why not come up with a way to just emabrace all those shoplifters and work with them to build a new business model.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    Again, it makes perfect sense to the lawyers on both sides. What is the single expense you mention as the 'wage' ?

     

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    Adam, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:00am

    Re: But

    Actually basic economics suggests the opposite:

    When content was scarce and audience attention abundant, there was little incentive to compete on quality since people would be forced to watch, read, or listen to whatever you gave them.

    Now that content is abundant, and audience attention scarce, the incentive to compete by increasing quality is finally present since people can reject low-quality content and still have a plethora of content to choose from.

     

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  20.  
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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    You're outta your head. If you think that the benefit of having a monopoly on an item injected to the mainstream (the internet, TV and radio), is more advantageous than the public domain. If we could all use each others work, do you really believe their would be LESS content? Negative. You'd have to be smoking crack. If I could just derive any content I wished to use (mind you, Disney, Viacom, Warner, and any one else) could do the the same, there would be FAR more works of content on the order of magnitude. Everything you see in science and technology, dare I say, advancement as a society, builds on what precedes it. Copyright is a horrible idea, and it hobbles the idea of self expression.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    Intellect is not Property Damn It.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:06am

    GOD Damn It !!!

    Who owns the Bible ?? What 'intellectual property right' is placed upon the Bible ? Think about it people. This is not right. Copyright is a horrible crippling effect on humans. 'Intellectual Property' is not to be OWNED.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:16am

    Mike

    Thank you for bringing those expressions out of me.

     

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    ehrichweiss, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Re:

    According to the Supreme Court, Piracy != theft. So shoplifting and auto theft do not apply here. Try again.

     

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    hegemon13, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Re: GOD Damn It !!!

    The group who did the translation, unfortunately. The group who translated the NIV, which is one of the most popular translations around, has thoroughly locked it down and is the least cooperative with third-parties. There has never been, to my knowledge, a third-party software version because they refuse to license it out. It boggles the mind.

     

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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Translations

    Seek others

     

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  27.  
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    Dave, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:49am

    Re: Probabilities

    Without copyright and the deterence effect of lawsuits, and the legal penalities that ensue, the entire existing content creation chain would fall apart.

    The key phrase here? The entire existing content creation chain. If that falls apart, who's to say a bigger, better, more creator-friendly content creation chain wouldn't take its place? Nature does abhor a vacuum, after all.

     

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    IPesq, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:49am

    Re: may be an example?

    That case dealt with trademark infringement, not copyright. I think copyright infringement makes business sense in very limited situations. Any situation where the defendant is the customer is difficult, however, in the software context, while the customer is still involved, larger companies are included.

     

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  29.  
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    eleete, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Who

    Who should own words?

     

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  30.  
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    Andrew Krainin, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 8:17am

    You're right, intellectual property law is silly (huh?)

    Mike, I'm sorry to say that you've missed an important distinction on this one.

    Your argument makes reasonable sense in the context of CUSTOMERS 'stealing' copyrighted material, like music. It's tough to sue your customers, it's tough to change behavior, and there can be even more compelling business models based on the economics of viral distribution.

    But when COMPETITORS misappropriate copyrighted (or patented, trademarked) material, the story is entirely different. It makes compelling economic sense to block those activities, maintain overall market share and a 'monopolistic' position with respect to your own content, and generally block competitors who decide not to bear the cost of developing content, technology, or brands. The legions of well-payed IP attorneys and the value that any venture capitalist places on original IP are testimony to the economic sense of IP protection.

    Scrabulous is a competitor of Hasbro, not a customer. The value of the Scrabble brand lies in Hasbro's exclusive use of the Scrabble brand and its exclusive right to sell the Scrabble game. While they may have not managed the exercise of those rights as effectively as possible in the context of online social networking, it is absolutely in Hasbro's best interests to vigorously protect those rights that form the basis of the brand's value.

     

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  31.  
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    Patrick L, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: GOD Damn It !!!

    Yeah, I followed that too. Was it International Bible Society or Zondervan? Who knows.

    I enjoy reading the New Living Translation (NLT), and what's interesting is that NLT's work is owned by a trust.

    Not sure why, but their copyright is far more flexible than NIV. This I didn't know until I started researching it!

    Copyright
    The text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio) up to and inclusive of two hundred and fifty (250) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided that the verses quoted do not account for more than 20 percent of the work in which they are quoted, and provided that a complete book of the Bible is not quoted.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Apple's business model has kept it afloat, not maximized its profits.

    Apple suing clones isn't a good business model. Apple was superior to early PC's in every way except one -- it's business model. Apple thought it was selling hardware. But it's real product was the Mac OS. Unfortunately Apple made software under the control of their hardware people. The hardware people saw every clone as one less piece of hardware they could sell.

    Contrast this to the PC. The hardware had open specs and no one had a lock on royalties. IBM probably adopted this model for all the wrong reasons. (Basically, they wanted to have a PC for business to keep keep companies like NEC from creeping into pure blue IBM customer's shops, but they didn't want to be bothered with the details of the useless little buggers that were starting to litter some people's desktops.) The point is that open specs made the PC a success, not the superiority of the equipment.

    IBM even left the OS open. You could run PC-DOS from IBM, but you could run some CPM-86 or some chopped down versions of Unix. (I remember recommending CPM-86, but I don't admit that in public anymore.) Microsoft had the cheapest OS out there at the time, and it was super easy to pirate. In the pre-Windows 95 era the main thing that kept more people from pirating MS-DOS and Windows was that they were so cheap to begin with. MS was able to leverage its wide popularity into its monopolistic market position

    The bottom line is that keeping the market locked up is not a good business model. Give me a competitive product and a good business model any day over an premium product with a poor business model. The latter has been Apple's choice since the Mac, and it why they still have a tiny market share.

     

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  33.  
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    Steve, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 9:14am

    How about Tivo?

    Tivo successfully sued, and in the same East Texas courts, Echostar. Granted Tivo still hasn't climbed out of the cloud, but hey won that case and succeeded to keep Echostar from cloning their technology and using their presence in homes to win out.

     

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    Dale Mitchell, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    DITO!!!!!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: But

    Right, just look at all the quality contect on youtube, myspace, etc.

     

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  36.  
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    Shill Man, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 10:50am

    A clear example....

    There's a clear example, and one of the most famous.

    Back in the early 1980s, a company called Franklin Computer sold computers that were compatible with the Apple II personal computer. Franklin did this by copying the Apple II's firmware and operating system. The Franklin computer was aggressively marketed to the same market as the Apple II, including the education market.

    Apple sued for copyright infringement, and in 1983, obtained a ruling that Franklin infringed Apple's copyrights through its copying of Apple's firmware and operating system. Franklin was forced to take its Apple II compatibles off the market until it could write its own code (without copying Apple's). By the time Franklin finished doing that, the Apple II was old news and there was no market for its s product. Franklin was then relegated to making ultra-lame handheld computers (which they continue to do today.)

    This is a clear example of how copyright law made perfect business sense for Apple. It removed a fierce competitor from the market for a critical period and prevented Franklin from undercutting Apple's profit margins. The Apple v. Franklin case itself became one of the first decisions to recognize that computer programs were protectable under copyright laws.

     

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    Freedom, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Re: Apple's business model has kept it afloat, not maximized its profits.

    Sorry this is a little off topic, but your comment about Microsoft having an easy to pirate OS and it was cheaper than the alternatives is interesting.

    One of the reasons Apple has grown is that Microsoft has increased its OS pricing and started to make pirating it a PITA. Instead of Microsoft spending millions on its new advertising campaign, it could just remove Activation and set up friendly home user pricing (Vista Upgrades for up to 5 home PCs for $99, etc.).

    Microsoft pushed pass their customer's cost/pain point for their OS and now folks are looking at alternatives. So in many ways, Microsoft is now an example of how locking down your product is having a negative affect on them.

    I actually think Microsoft is starting to wake up to this. Their latest activation scheme in Vista won't shut it down if it isn't activated. It will nag you to death, but it won't shut it down.

    As an aside (on top of the already aside - smile), what happens when Microsoft doesn't want to run it's activation servers for XP or older versions of Office? Seriously, think 20 years in the future, there will be someone out there that still needs it running for whatever reason, hardware crashes or they swap over to a virtual machine and no activation server will be available. If companies are going to implement DRM and/or Activation Servers, there needs to be a laws in place that require them to run them for 50, 100 or more years or have expiring DRM/Activation schemes in place so that after 5 years you don't need it or it turns into non-protected software.

    I personally would push really hard to be part of any class action lawsuit where a company shuts down activation or DRM servers to help these companies understand the full cost of their decision. To make them understand that they've just signed up for an indefinite contract to provide DRM/Activation servers for their product that was made 25 years ago.

    Freedom

     

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  38.  
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    nonuser, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Probabilities

    I read somewhere that J.K. Rowling is now a billionaire. Good for her.

    Suppose there were no copyright laws. Chances are, at least one other person would have released Harry Potter books copied verbatim or near-verbatim, possibly giving themselves authorship credit, before the first novel had even become a best-seller. And after the series became popular, of course, many more "publishers" would've rushed out to provide this "important service to the world's reading public."

    So how many Harry Potter books would Rowling have written under that scenario? I'm guessing not much more than one or two.

     

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    Kiba, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    History has indicates that this is not a likely scenario. Also, the marketplace has shown preferences for original works.(HINT: Authentic artworks sell far more than copycats)
    Techdirt itself also work as an illusory example of originator' prevalence over copycats.


    In the days when there were no copyright protection for foreign authors, American publishers "pirates" British authors' work on a massive scale. This has proven a huge boon to the American public as they get lot of cheap books and literacy spread.

    However, it also proves a huge boon for British authors as well because American publishers jockey for the first to publish the manuscript and is willing to pay for that privileges. As a result, British authors were compensated, sometime even more than the royalty they received in their own country.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Also, the marketplace has shown preferences for original works.
    Maybe, but one of the main premises of this blog seems to be that many consumers don't see a big difference in value between the work sanctioned by the original author and publisher, versus a copy (even with loss of fidelity) from an unsanctioned source.

    However, it also proves a huge boon for British authors as well because American publishers jockey for the first to publish the manuscript and is willing to pay for that privileges.
    That's interesting, but how is that relevant to modern times? Today's pirate distributor pays either nothing, or for one inexpensive copy at a retail store.

     

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    Adam, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: But

    I am not sure how the quality (or lack thereof) of free content on Youtube is supposed to confirm or deny my assertion.

    My assertion is of course that when competing commercially, the more choices the audience has, there more incentive there is to invest in quality. It is very important to add: quality as defined by your audience, since they are the ones consuming the content.

     

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    Norris Carden, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 2:30pm

    photographers, artists and content creators

    I know plenty of instances where photographers work was used or duplicated without authorization. In every instance where attempts to receive fair compensation failed, a copyright lawsuit made excellent business sense.

     

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    Peter Towers, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 2:59pm

    Copyright is not always about business

    In most cases I'm against copyright, but I can see how it makes sense for the little guys, such as for my dad who is a photographer -- similar to what comment 42 pointed out.

    But I also want to point to that is not always about the $$$. There are religious artists who have had their work infringed upon, where the work itself has often been donated but where the the artists want to remain the religious integrity (in this case depiction of Hindu deities).

    A monk or nun that expresses their devotion to the divine, obviously don't want to see their work used to sell alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, or to market what they consider incorrect interpretations of their faith (western variations of their religion). From their point of view the piece of art they meditated on, and worked on for a long time, put their heart and effort into, would of course be devastated if it was used irresponsibly, which makes their entire effort counter productive.

    To use a western example, sort of like a newly created original piece of art showing Mother Mary, that is used by a third party without permissions to sell sex. I'm sure that the a devout catholic monk artist would do what they can using copyright to rectify the situation from their point of view.

     

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    Shill Blaster, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 4:51pm

    Another example?

    Ferrari sued all of those companies that were converting old Pontiac Fieros into Ferrari knockoffs. The knockoffs were quite convincing in some cases. But a few lawsuits put that practice to and end such that those companies can now have to introduce some differences in their designs to distinguish them from original Ferraris (which, because those losers utterly lack any creativity, means those cars be butt-ugly!)

     

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    mdrs, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 6:08pm

    Re: The prisoner dilemma

    assuming people are fundamentally good is a pretty stupid way to live. if people were honest with themselves and each other about how we're fundamentally interested in survival NOT being good, it would eliminate a lot of humanity's problems.

     

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    Vince, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 7:40pm

    The Schammwow will clean up that shill delimma

    Hi it's Vince with Schammwow! You'll be sayin wow every time you use this towel It's like a chamois it's like a towel it's like a sponge A regular towel doesn't work wet - this works wet or dry This is for the house the car the boat the RV Schammwow holds twenty times its weight in liquid Look at this It just does the work Why do you want to work twice as hard? Doesn't drip doesn't make a mess you wring it out wash it in the washing machine You can cut it in half use one as a bath mat drain ya dishes with the other one use one as a towel Olympic divers they use it as a towel Look at that Completely dry Put a wet sweater roll it up it dries your sweaters Here's some cola... wine.. coffee... cola... pet stains Not only is the damage gonna be on top - there's your mildew That is gonna smell See that The most absorb Were gonna do this in real time Look at this Put it on the spill turn it over Without even putting any pressure fifty percent of the cola right there You follow me camera guy? The other fifty percent the color starts to come up No other towel's gonna do that It acts like a vacuum And look at this - virtually dry on the bottom See what I'm tellin' ya? Schammwow, You'll be sayin' wow every time!

     

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    Paul, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

     

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    Paul, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    See this link for starters!

    http://www.geocities.com/versetrue/rowling.htm

    Copyright didn't keep Rowling from "borrowing" - ideas, at least, and probably much more.

    Paul

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 8:10am

    only one business makes money

    It's rather easy to find the successful corporations that profit from this...... The Law Firms hired to sue they get
    paid and get paid well..... win or lose.

     

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  50.  
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    Willton, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    You're outta your head. If you think that the benefit of having a monopoly on an item injected to the mainstream (the internet, TV and radio), is more advantageous than the public domain. If we could all use each others work, do you really believe their would be LESS content? Negative. You'd have to be smoking crack. If I could just derive any content I wished to use (mind you, Disney, Viacom, Warner, and any one else) could do the the same, there would be FAR more works of content on the order of magnitude. Everything you see in science and technology, dare I say, advancement as a society, builds on what precedes it. Copyright is a horrible idea, and it hobbles the idea of self expression.

    Really? Smoking crack, is it? Please, then, tell us how there would be so much more content out there if everyone could copy everything freely. Because it seems to me that a creator would not be as inclined to create new original works if he knew that anyone could misappropriate his works without regard for the author.

    Mr. Eleete, I've seen your website, and it appears to me that you are a computer programmer, not an artist or an author. So I find it a bit disingenuous of you to make these bald assertions as if you would know what drives an author or an artist.

     

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    Willton, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Re: only one business makes money

    It's rather easy to find the successful corporations that profit from this...... The Law Firms hired to sue they get
    paid and get paid well..... win or lose.


    Except that law firms are not corporations.

     

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    Sergio, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Re: Here is an example.

    I agree that the Chineese company should have been sued for just copying the Australian machinery piece for piece, but this exposes a fundamental issue. This Chineese company was able to make the exact same machinery and sell it at a much lower price. Although this would put workers at that machinery company out of a job, it would create many more by allowing more industrial companies to open because they could now afford the machinery, thus boosting the local ecconomy and possibly creating more competition.

     

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    Adam, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Copyright protection came into being in the late 1700s. Which coincidentally - or not - is when the renaissance ended.

    The renaissance is considered by many to be the period of mankind's greatest advances in the arts, as well as philosophy, politics, science, and religion.

    When Mozart composed his music, when Da Vinci composed his many masterpieces in many media, there was no copyright, and the conditions of the time (lack of global communications, lack of documentary mechanism such as photography and time stamping) made it easier and more likely then today that "anyone could misappropriate his works without regard for the author".

    Yet strangely, great works of art were not misappropriated, great artists were celebrated, and although many starved - on the whole, they starved a lot less than most of their compatriots - remember the times.

    Most of all, artists were prolific and the volume of great art was arguably more than today.

    How did this happen without copyright?

     

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    DanC, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: A clear example....

    This is a clear example of how copyright law made perfect business sense for Apple.

    Except that the lack of compatible products was one of the main reasons for Apple's decline in the marketplace during the 90s.

     

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  55.  
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    Deos, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: GOD Damn It !!!

    "The text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio) up to and inclusive of two hundred and fifty (250) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided that the verses quoted do not account for more than 20 percent of the work in which they are quoted, and provided that a complete book of the Bible is not quoted."

    Read Revelations. I'll see you in Hell.

     

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    MLS, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    I would love to jump on this bandwagon. Let other people make the investment in creating a new, original work, and then I can come along, scarf up a carbon copy, and sell copies to my heart's content. Of course, I would add more content so that the public domain is replenished...i.e., a link to my PayPal account.

     

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    Adam, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    I see that you have no substantive answer to my question, so you are making an emotional appeal.

    Ok, I will make an emotional appeal too: why is it that a surgeon who creates a life saving surgical technique is expected to share it with the world, and continue doing operations for a living? Why can't this surgeon stop performing operations, sit back and live off of the royalties (look up the origin of that word) from other people performing the surgical technique he has invented.

    Why is a fashion designer expected to continue producing new fashion designs when the are not "incented" by perpetual royalties from their designs? It would only be fair that they get a royalty every time one of their designs appears on television, after all the composer of the music that is playing in the background does.

     

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    eleete, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Guess you didn't see my photography, or videography sites, and programs are covered by copyright as well as trademark, thanks for showing up though.

    And you're a fool if you think creativity would not flourish without the fear of lawsuits and a flourishing public domain. Then I gather you're the one not an artist, and guess that you are counsel.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Because it seems to me that a creator would not be as inclined to create new original works if he knew that anyone could misappropriate his works without regard for the author.
    Personal beliefs aren't really much of an argument without evidence. Members of the Flat Earth Society believe that the earth is flat, after all, but that doesn't make it true.

    Mr. Eleete, I've seen your website, and it appears to me that you are a computer programmer, not an artist or an author.
    A programmer can't also be an artist or author? How snobbish.

    So I find it a bit disingenuous of you to make these bald assertions as if you would know what drives an author or an artist.
    And just where is your website, Willton?

     

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    eleete, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Well said.

     

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    NeoTechni, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Here is an example.

    But they could afford it cause they didn't spend any money on R&D, unlike the inventors who deserve to be paid back for it

     

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    Willton, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Guess you didn't see my photography, or videography sites, and programs are covered by copyright as well as trademark, thanks for showing up though.

    Are you trying to profit off of your videography or photography? My guess is you are not, considering I could not find said photography or videography, let alone a method of profiting from it. But feel free to show me otherwise.

    And your programs are not covered by trademark because (1) you're not using them as a mark, and (2) they would be descriptive of whatever it is you're selling.

    And you're a fool if you think creativity would not flourish without the fear of lawsuits and a flourishing public domain. Then I gather you're the one not an artist, and guess that you are counsel.

    Maybe from the folks who are not trying to profit from their works, perhaps like yourself. However, I find it hard to believe that an artist would continue trying to make a living being an artist if he could not exert some control over his works. So, unless you think art only comes from altruists, you'll have to show me how the ability to control one's works is of no moment to artists.

    Yes, I am a budding lawyer (law student, to be exact) who has had some intimate experiences in the music industry and currently has family members who write for a living. So believe me, I know what drives artists who wish to make their art their profession.

     

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    Willton, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Who

    Who should own words?

    Is anyone asserting that words can be copyrighted?

     

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    Jessica H, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    A problem is that only one/s who can exert the rights afforded by copyright are generally the well-to-do and legal entities, not necessarily Joe Author. For example, Winston Groom, the man who wrote Forrest Gump, was paid peanuts because the movie had trouble netting a profit? Meanwhile, it's rumored that Hanks made $40M.

    Creative accounting is another service a resourceful, modern legal entity can afford... That Joe Author doesn't have access to.

     

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    nonuser, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    In earlier times, top musicians such as Mozart and artists such as Leonardo were sponsored by royalty or aristocratic patrons. There weren't enough of those positions to go around, so if you couldn't get a sponsor you were out of luck. And I don't see counterparts to the de Medici family or the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire sponsoring scads of artists today.

    As for comparing the volume of great art, then and now, that is highly debatable. One can argue that there were more landmark works of Western symphonic music composed during Mozart's time, but the attention of musicians and the public has since shifted to other kinds of music. The novel only became a serious art form starting with the 18th century (aside from isolated works like Don Quixote), and of course film began in the 20th century.

     

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    John Doe, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    You would be singing a different tune..

    Those of you saying that suing for copyright infringement would be singing a different tune if you actually had anything worth protecting. There is as much or more money in intellectual property as real property these days and you can bet people will do what they have to do to protect it.

     

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    John Doe, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Who

    It isn't words that are copyrighted, but the arrangement of those words. It is also pictures, movies, music, art, etc.

     

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    eleete, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    And your opinion? That mostly it is due to having a monopoly on the content they create ? Is it only for the money Wilton ? Is that the only incentive to create ?

     

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    Adam, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 7:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Good answer, correct. Mostly. You neglect the troubadours. Many musicians survived quite well without patronage.

    As well, I would suggest that there is in fact the seeds of the re-emergence of patronage: Mike has blogged about a few examples here.

    As for novels being post renaissance, the oral equivalent was alive and well in the troubadour tradition, and all the eighteenth century brought was the printing press which is perhaps the most relevant issue to discuss when discussing copyright because it was likely the printing press and its cost which brought about copyright legislation.

    Copyright was instituted to incite printing press owners to invest in distributing ideas, not to create a sinecure for musicians and other artists.

     

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    Adam, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    see my post above, copyright legislation has been from the start a boon to publishers, not authors and other creators.

     

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    Eldakka, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    And I don't see counterparts to the de Medici family or the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire sponsoring scads of artists today.

    So your government doesn't provide money (tax payers money, the same source as royalty got their money from) to the arts?

    Here in Australia the government spends hundreds of millions (if not billions)on the arts . The ABC is governemnt funded, film studios receive some funding not to mention tax breaks. The various orchestra's (Sydney Philharmonic (sp?), Melbourne etc etc) all receive grants from the state and/or federal government.

    The government owned art galleries/museums buy works of art from artists to hang in their galleries, that is government patronage.

    Why does the argument about getting paid/royalties etc always come up?

    Why does an artist have a RIGHT to make a living by their art?

    No-one has the RIGHT to make a living doing a specific job they love doing. I have no right to make a living working in IT. If IT doesn't pay the bills, I need to change careers, or work a 2nd job.

    Why is it not the same for artist's? If you aren't good enough to get a patron, find another job and work at art part-time or as a hobby, like anyone else has to do who is not good enough at what they love doing.

    And if there aren't enough patron's to go around for all the 'good' artists, so what? The best will get patronage (or maybe the best at politics), and the good but not good enough will have to find a job that will pay their bills.

    When I was at university, I knew several guys who loved astronomy and astrophysics. They were all brilliant, all top 0.5%.

    However, they worked out how many jobs there were (at least in Australia) for astrophysicsts, and determined that there were only 5 jobs in the country for the studies they were undertaking. All occupied, mostly if not all tenured. And, based on the age of the people in those jobs, you'd get one job position opening up about every 5 years. So if all 3 pursued their love, only 1 of them within 5 years of graduation would be able to get the job (assuming there was no-one from any competing university!).

    So they had some hard choices to make not just about if they were good enough, but practical consideratoins as well. They might be good enough, but that doesn't help if there are no job openings at all.

    Same situation with being an artist, just because you are good, brilliant even, doesn't mean you will be able to support yourself, or that you deserve or have a right to support yourself as an artist.

    There aren't many professional racing yachtsmen in the world, yet an aweful lot of people punt around harbours on the weekend in small sailing boats...I bet they'd love to be able to live off of sailing.

     

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    MLS, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    "Copyright was instituted to incite printing press owners to invest in distributing ideas, not to create a sinecure for musicians and other artists."

    Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I have always understood that the precursor of what we know as copyright was contained in the Statute of Anne in the early 1700's, with its purpose being to blunt what up until that time had been special prerogatives granted by the Crown to a select few.

     

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  73.  
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    MLS, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Everyone, including artists, has the right to try and make a living. Copyright affords those who create original works that opportunity.

    No one (other than perhaps a competitor) gives a darn about yet another useless memo prepared by an employee sitting in a cubicle. The same is not necessarily true for one who creates original works that may be favorably received by the public. A typical employee is compensated for his/her time spent on the job, and our laws and courts exist in part to ensure that the "work for pay contract" is paid heed. The equivalent "contract" for authors are the provisions of copyright law, with the difference being that an employee is entitiled to be paid, whereas the author hopes this proves to be the case.

     

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  74.  
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    Ray Beckerman (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:23pm

    Business vs. Litigation

    As a veteran commercial litigator, my experience is that litigation increases when business decreases. When companies are making money, they are not interested in litigation. Their interest turns to litigation when their business is hurting.

    Companies that have successful business models, who find their copyrights infringed, are more interested in getting cease and desist agreements than they are in tying up time and resources in court cases that do not need to be brought.

     

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    MLS, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    A final comment re the Statute of Anne. Much gnashing of teeth takes place because of possible criminal penalties associated with copyright infringement. Should you choose to read the statute, or even the original US Copyright Act of 1790, you will note each includes provisions for the forfeiture of monies by an infringer to the sovereign.

     

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  76.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Perhaps, but it's highly probable that the population of music, arts and games creators would decline. Sure, you'd get some of those things, but not nearly as much as you do now.

    Actually, there's very little evidence to suggest this is true. If there's demand for such content, there are business models that can be used to create them that don't rely on copyright.

    In fact, the vast majority of content being produced today is not done for copyright purposes (even though thanks to a quirk of the law it's still covered by copyright).

    As the tools of production have made it easier for anyone to produce, an increasingly small percentage of content is being produced *because* of the copyright. So it's quite difficult to believe Willton's unsubstantiated claims that content would decrease.

     

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  77.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    Re: You're right, intellectual property law is silly (huh?)


    Your argument makes reasonable sense in the context of CUSTOMERS 'stealing' copyrighted material, like music. It's tough to sue your customers, it's tough to change behavior, and there can be even more compelling business models based on the economics of viral distribution.


    Yes. But I'd argue that it doesn't make sense against competitors either.

    But when COMPETITORS misappropriate copyrighted (or patented, trademarked) material, the story is entirely different. It makes compelling economic sense to block those activities, maintain overall market share and a 'monopolistic' position with respect to your own content, and generally block competitors who decide not to bear the cost of developing content, technology, or brands. The legions of well-payed IP attorneys and the value that any venture capitalist places on original IP are testimony to the economic sense of IP protection.

    That's like saying the legions of well-paid glaziers and the value that construction crews put on windows are a testimony to the economic sense of broken windows.

    I'd argue not.

    Scrabulous is a competitor of Hasbro, not a customer. The value of the Scrabble brand lies in Hasbro's exclusive use of the Scrabble brand and its exclusive right to sell the Scrabble game. While they may have not managed the exercise of those rights as effectively as possible in the context of online social networking, it is absolutely in Hasbro's best interests to vigorously protect those rights that form the basis of the brand's value.

    Other than, as I pointed out, Hasbro's actions have kicked off a rather loud and vehement boycott of Hasbro products, and only drawn more attention to their "competitors" in the space.

    Also, I'd argue that you're wrong in claiming that Scrabulous "didn't bear the cost of developing...". I could just as easily point out that Hasbro did not bear the cost of developing the Facebook app and finding the community.

    The two sides used some of what the other had done in the past, and that's what good competition is all about.

     

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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:52pm

    Re: How about Tivo?

    Tivo successfully sued, and in the same East Texas courts, Echostar. Granted Tivo still hasn't climbed out of the cloud, but hey won that case and succeeded to keep Echostar from cloning their technology and using their presence in homes to win out.

    That's patents, not copyright, and I'd argue it was a mistake for TiVo again in that situation, because it's now pissed off a lot of EchoStar users who aren't necessarily interested in moving to TiVo, but are pissed off at TiVo for hurting their experience.

     

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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Another example?

    Ferrari sued all of those companies that were converting old Pontiac Fieros into Ferrari knockoffs. The knockoffs were quite convincing in some cases. But a few lawsuits put that practice to and end such that those companies can now have to introduce some differences in their designs to distinguish them from original Ferraris (which, because those losers utterly lack any creativity, means those cars be butt-ugly!)

    Well, that was a trademark suit, and you left out some of the details. In that case, NO ONE was being hurt. The buyers of the "fake" Ferraris knew they were fake and weren't tricked at all. There were no "losses" to Ferrari, because the buyers of the fake ones couldn't afford the real ones in the first place.

    So I don't see how that made good business sense really. It's not like it somehow increased business to Ferrari.

     

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    Another Mike, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Business vs. Litigation

    I agree with your insight.

    From a business perspective, I've seen that the litigation route is usually recommended by hired outside sources (Read: Consultants) who often cite "successful" cases. However, many of these recommendations fail to take into account ROI and costs involved of said litigation route.

    Just because it's in the paper doesn't necessarily mean it creates a net positive profit to the company. The best solution, in most cases, is to license IP, rather than litigate.

     

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  81.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 10:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    However, I find it hard to believe that an artist would continue trying to make a living being an artist if he could not exert some control over his works. So, unless you think art only comes from altruists, you'll have to show me how the ability to control one's works is of no moment to artists.

    Ah, Willton's fallacy. You keep repeating this, and we keep pointing out to you how untrue it is... and you keep repeating it again.

    You seem to think that the ONLY incentive to create is copyright. It's not. There are other business models.

    So, no, it's not just "altruists" and you don't have to "control" your work to make money from it.

    We've pointed this out to you over and over again, and I don't see why you deny it.

     

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    Mike (profile), Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Everyone, including artists, has the right to try and make a living. Copyright affords those who create original works that opportunity.

    No, MLS, let's be clear here: copyright affords AN opportunity. You imply with your sentence that copyright affords the ONLY opportunity, and that's simply untrue.

    This is the big fallacy that many copyright supporters make over and over again -- that copyright is the only way by which a content creator makes money.

     

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    Crackers for Echostar, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 10:31pm

    Re: Re: How about Tivo?

    From first hand experience, EchoStar is a cost-conscientious company. Probably too much. They've had satellites fail to reach orbit, first to enforce non-ownership of boxes (Possibly to enable them to account for boxes as "assets" on the balance sheets?), were among the first to enforce a 72-hour contract period. It wasn't surprising when I read of their attempt to copy TiVo as a defensive move. When I tried it, I wasn't impressed. Then their packages were just atrocious, had to upgrade to the $58.00/mo plan to get two channels I really wanted, $15 more than with the previous provider.

    It took three hours with a script monkey to cancel the service, and they wanted me to mail the box and dishes (Plural) back, but the box they sent me barely fit the box.

    That was a year ago, but it left me feeling that the company has problems that ran deep.

     

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  84.  
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    Ken H, Aug 3rd, 2008 @ 11:56pm

    Copyright gives you _____?

    What is this "right" you speak of? Section 7 of the Constitution states that the original intent was To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

    Is it the right to profit from works and discoveries? What does that mean? What is successful profit? Number of people sued for infringement?

    Seriously, how is this measured?

     

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  85.  
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    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: Who

    They can be trademarked Wilton. I see you dropped the comment on copyrights though. You're all over the place.

     

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    N/A, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 1:19am

    WUZZUP TECHDIRT?!?!

    Seems a lot of things can be had here! Got a web guy, a few who are good with law, and some customer-friendly folks who want to see people DO IT! Why dont yall start a business pressing cds and doing this? I mean I have put out a few good albums in my day. I aint no business person, just want to make it, you know? y'all seem genuine.

    Sorry if I messed up your conversaton.

    peace

     

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  87.  
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    Willton, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 4:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Who

    They can be trademarked Wilton.

    Really? Show me how. Are you using your programs as a mark? Are you plastering the code on a sign to hawk your wares?

    Do you even know what a trademark is?

    I see you dropped the comment on copyrights though. You're all over the place.

    Why should I bother? You were right: computer programs can be copyrighted. Why dispute that when it's correct?

     

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    Willton, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 4:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Actually, there's very little evidence to suggest this is true. If there's demand for such content, there are business models that can be used to create them that don't rely on copyright.

    Really? Then why do the folks using said business models still get copyrights on their works?

    Without copyright, these business models (whatever they are) do not appear to give the creator control over his creations, which is something desireable to the creator.

    In fact, the vast majority of content being produced today is not done for copyright purposes (even though thanks to a quirk of the law it's still covered by copyright).

    Of course not; it's done for profit purposes. But misappropriation would likely cut into their ability to do so. Copyright just gives these creators a legal avenue to protect their works from misappropriation.

    As the tools of production have made it easier for anyone to produce, an increasingly small percentage of content is being produced *because* of the copyright. So it's quite difficult to believe Willton's unsubstantiated claims that content would decrease.

    And yet, people still get copyrights on their works. Gee, I wonder why...

     

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  89.  
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    SomeGuy, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Here is an example.

    Except that the 'inventors' were paid back for it -- they probably worked on salary which means they were paid for their research as it was being done, not afterward. And the cost of R&D for the company is one-time, not on-going; it's a single cost that will be recouped over time.

    Alternatively, the Chinese parts had to take the cost of export/import into consideration -- the original company should have been able to lower their price and still stay competitive. If not, either the Chinese had developed a better (cheaper) way of manufacturing the same parts, or the Chinese were making inferior (cheaper) parts. In the latter case, either the Chinese parts would prove to be unsuitable (needing to be replasced more often, etc) or the Australian parts were unnecessarily robust.

    In short, once again copyright is used to muscle out copetition rather than having to actually perform better.

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who

    "You were right: computer programs can be copyrighted. Why dispute that when it's correct?"

    I'm not sure, you were the one who disputed it. Now you seem to support my argument. Your original post read "Mr. Eleete, I've seen your website, and it appears to me that you are a computer programmer, not an artist or an author"

    YOU said I was not an author or an artist. Photography is clearly art, and I author software in the form of code. So just what is the point you make? I think we all heard you loud and clear. Without Intellectual Property laws, all art and creativity would end. We got it, Thanks.

    Seems to me, your argument is for the right to continue to sue based on those laws, so it's no surprise you would spread that rumor that creativity would die without it, but I believe your fear is that if it dies, you can't sue anymore.

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re: The prisoner dilemma

    John's too idealistic and you're too cynical. There's a middle ground.

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who

    Show me where I ever said my programs were a 'mark' of any kind. You said words could not be owned. I said they can be trademarked. Never said I was 'marking' my software/code. Nice try though.

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    SomeGuy, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Really? Then why do the folks using said business models still get copyrights on their works?

    Because it's a crutch. If you can get $50 without doing any work, wouldn't you go for that too? It's safe, but that doesn't mean it's the best system for the creator or the consumer.

    And yet, people still get copyrights on their works.

    Copyright is automatic in the US (and I imagine most other places). If there were forms to fill out and fees to be paid, I submit there would be far fewer people 'getting' copyrights on their works.

     

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  94.  
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    SomeGuy, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Either Rowling would always have the next book out first (and so be the obvious originator, and the implications in terms of reputation and first-to-market apply here) or this new 'rogue' author would have to make up their own stories. If they made their own stories, they would either be better or worse than Rowling's. If they were worse, can you really argue that Rowling would have been harmed? If they were better, though, can you argue that Rowling's inferior product should be protected from having to compete with the works of a superior author?

     

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  95.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward #42, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Common-sense suing rules

    I don't have time to read all the comments, so some of this may be repeat, but oh well. Here's some rules that I think if followed would make the world a better place for all (keep in mind "better" does not necessarily mean "more profitable").

    1. The concept of first-sale should be followed without fail. If you sell something to an individual, it is theirs to do with as they please. They have the right to resell it for however much they want and in any way they want without the original seller receiving anything from it.

    2. Under no circumstances should you treat your entire customer base as if they are all criminals, guilty until proven innocent. Product activation and DRM are perfect examples of this. Such actions only serve to make loyal customers angry and frustrated, and they may soon not be your customers anymore. Don't think you have absolute power over any corner of the market, because there are ALWAYS alternatives, whether you think there are or not.

    3. If somebody is using your exact name or a similar name with the intention of fooling customers into thinking it's your name in order to sell inferior products for a profit (i.e. counterfeiting), then you have every right to sue, and should. However, if somebody is using your name in such a way that they are not profiting from it in any way or using it to promote something bad, it should be viewed as a compliment and/or free advertising. If litigation is brought against such an action, the consequences will probably the same as in rule #2.

    4. On the same note as #3, if somebody is reselling your products and/or using your name to promote your own wares, without damaging your own sales numbers or ruining your corporate image in any way, they should be left alone, even if they are making a little profit for their trouble (i.e. PsyStar with their Mac clones). Or better yet, strike up a partnership with them, because everybody wins in that situation. Such a partnership will give you good "street credit" in the corporate world, making you look like a good guy who wants to expand your horizons and offer more things to more people. If you simply litigate, it will only serve to make you look like a bad guy who can't innovate and can only hope to get ahead by suing anybody that threatens your poor excuse for a business model.

    5. You should never try to lock down an entire market with proprietary technologies. It may seem like a good idea, but somebody somewhere will eventually take you down, for whatever reason, and it will not be pretty. You are just hurting yourself, the consumer, and the market itself in the long run.

    I know these rules probably aren't ultimately thought out very well, but I'm sure I've raised several points of discussion with them. Businesses should be all about giving consumers what they want, when, where, and how they want it. They should not be allowed to sue everybody in sight just because their business model doesn't work. As long as somebody is not directly hurting your business by using your products or names, you shouldn't be wasting time, money, and other resources on them.

     

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  96.  
    identicon
    Sean Gilley, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 7:35am

    Re: You would be singing a different tune..

    Hmm.

    Well, I used to write and sell software for Palm OS organizers. I made a fair amount of money for a couple of years, not gigantic sums, but enough to keep me in new toys.

    I decided early on that my "copy protection" was going to be very minimal. To put it simply, I decided that I would used the least amount of copy protection I could, just enough to keep the honest users honest. Anyone who really wanted to steal my product was going to do it anyway, so why worry about them?

    My copy protection limited a user to some number of transactions in the demo version, but once the user had the full version, it used to keys, no nothing. It could be transfered to another device, backed up, handed to another person, whatever. The only caveat was that if you were on my user list, you didn't get support or new versions as they were made available.

    $8000 in one year isn't a gigantic sum of money, no, but I think it's enough that I can have an opinion on this issue.

    Sean.

     

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  97.  
    identicon
    DanC, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Most of the "facts" on that page are simply superficial similarities between the Harry Potter books and other works. And Neil Gaiman himself has discredited Nancy Stouffer's statement that he yelled plagiarism.

    I'm not a fan of Rowling's (and Warner's) overly litigious nature, but using that site as any type of reference to prove "idea theft" is absurd.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Willton, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who

    Show me where I ever said my programs were a 'mark' of any kind. You said words could not be owned. I said they can be trademarked. Never said I was 'marking' my software/code. Nice try though.

    You said that "programs are covered by copyright as well as trademark." That statement asserts that one can get trademark protection on a computer program. That statement is entirely wrong, unless someone were to actually use his program as a mark of some kind. So I decided to challenge you on whether you were using your programs as a mark. You appear to not be, so you clearly can't get trademark protection on your programs.

    Yes, words can be trademarked, but only if they are being used as a mark, and if so, only in the realm that the words are being used as a mark. Words cannot be outright owned, however; those are in the public domain.

    By the way, it helps if you quote the language you're responding to so that I don't get confused as to what you're replying to.

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    SomeGuy, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: How about Tivo?

    All valid complaints about EchoStar, but still hardly on-topic. Even if it could be argued that patent litigation kept a bad player out of the space, your complaints underscore the fact that poor business practices would kill them, anyways.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Everyone, including artists, has the right to try and make a living.
    But not by doing what ever they want to. Artists are one kind of person, lazy people are also a kind of person. If artists have a "right" to make a living by being an artist, then shouldn't lazy people have a similar "right" to make a living by being lazy? Where's the law for them? I submit that no such "right" exists and that the ways in which one can make a living should be determined by a free market.

     

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  101.  
    identicon
    BullJustin, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Probabilities

    The THREAT of being sued only protects inferior content. Good content, whether music, books, movies, etc, protects itself by being the first to market.

    Besides, what would be so bad about having every song ever in existence available for users to peruse (which are essentially commercials for the band/performer), or YouTube hosting entire television programs (which are essentially commercials for the series), radio stations having the right and ability to play what their market wants to hear instead of what the Industry tells them to play, pirated CDs & DVDs if widespread would drive the cost of CDs & DVDs down to a reasonable amount (production cost for a physical CD is substantially less than $1/unit), or having the choice of seeing a movie in good quality for $10/person or in bad quality for $1? Like it or not, digital piracy exists. The only way to reduce it's impact is to either increase the percieved value of an item to its MSRP or lower the MSRP to the percieved value.

     

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  102.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Yes, I am a budding lawyer (law student, to be exact)...
    Ah well, that explains a lot. So you are planning on making a living in an occupation that depends on restriction of competition and government protection to keep wages high. No wonder you like that sort of thing.

     

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  103.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Re: WUZZUP TECHDIRT?!?!

    Why dont yall start a business pressing cds and doing this?
    Because selling those little bits of plastic called CD's is a bad business model.

     

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  104.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: You would be singing a different tune..

    Anyone who really wanted to steal my product was going to do it anyway, so why worry about them?
    So what made you decide that you wanted to annoy your legitimate customers?

     

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  105.  
    identicon
    Lets call it what it is, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Copywellfare for all

    I'm all for protecting one's business model, but lets be serious about this issue for a minute. Who (other than the ones who want 'welfare' for lack of a better term) actually believes that they should be paid for the next 70 years for the work they do today? I mean we would all love it, but who actually thinks that's a 'fair' business model?

    Forget about how 'high' or 'lofty' the classic 'arts' are, the people who were doing these things over the years were doing them because it's what they loved and what they wanted to do... NOT because they wanted to get paid for 70 years for working once. If anyone had suggested that a persons children should be compensated 50 years down the road for work that the artist did once, they would have been laughed out of the room... but that is what the 'artists' expect today, because we as a society have allowed it.

    I'm an accountant/programmer/IT consultant, so when I come into a new business and design/setup a business process guide that includes the basic steps that will be performed during each step of the financial transactions, why shouldn't I continue to be paid for the next 70 years, or as long as the business plan is in use, I mean I wrote it, right, so I should be entitled to compensation if someone else uses my work for their profit, right? If I design a program that integrates a couple of systems, why shouldn't I continue to be paid as long as that program is in use?

    For those who will claim that 'art' is different, let me ask, "WHY?".... Is what we consider art today the same as it was 50 years ago? How about 100? How long before modern 'art' has no resemblance to traditional art forms at all? Who is to say that crafting a sculpture of someone's face (copy and paste?) is more 'art' than crafting a program that can integrate complex data sets, process the results, and provide a reliable performance indicator? And why should I listen to them when they obviously have no clue what true 'art' is (give em another 50 years and they might come around, or we'll still be paying their kids for that one little thing they did).

     

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  106.  
    identicon
    Willton, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Ah well, that explains a lot. So you are planning on making a living in an occupation that depends on restriction of competition and government protection to keep wages high. No wonder you like that sort of thing.

    On the contrary: I have no desire to practice copyright law. Patent law, yes, but copyright, no.

    However, last I checked there was plenty of competition in the music-writing and fiction-writing businesses. So I'm not sure where you get your information on how copyrights are restricting competition in the field of the arts.

     

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  107.  
    identicon
    Adam, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    Re: Statute of Anne:

    So it is. Thank you for being the first contributor to this thread to add something worth looking up. I was waiting for someone to bring up Letters Patent, but this was much more interesting.

    It is telling (and supportive of my assertion) that the Statute of Anne replaced the monopoly enjoyed by the Stationer's Company. They way this worked is that the Stationer's Company would buy the work from the author outright (no royalties for them) and would then *publish* the work by *printing* copies and *distributing* them.

    As I said: copyright law benefits publishers, not creators.

     

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  108.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    The Statue of Anne did remove certain prerogatives that had been granted to the Crown but it also made it clear that it was also intended to blunt the influence of publishers other than the Crown.

    In fact, in it's original form it forbade copyright assignment from creator to publisher and several methods of ensuring the creator would get paid.

    The purpose was the continuing of a vibrant culture and encouraging education.

    Publishers got the assignment of copyright back in the 1740s or there abouts though they didn't get to keep ripping off creators. Well, until the DCMA showed up and they basically took over and claimed credit for all artistic creation rather than the reality is that they are distributors of certain kinds of content created by someone else.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  109.  
    identicon
    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who

    Quite frankly you are confused, as you are the one who stated I was not an author nor an artist, when clearly I engage as being both. This conversations is going nowhere. I will leave you to your own thoughts, as yours are useless to me.

     

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  110.  
    identicon
    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Copywellfare for all

    "should be paid for the next 70 years for the work they do today? "

    Let's be accurate, It is the life of the author PLUS 70 years, Welfare indeed.

     

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  111.  
    identicon
    eleete, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    You shoulda said so, Patent law is twice as F'd up as copyright law. We coulda had a fun conversation had I known that.

     

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  112.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 9:20pm

    Re: You're right, intellectual property law is silly (huh?)

    Scrabulous is a competitor of Hasbro, not a customer.

    But see, the problem I have is that they WERE NOT a competitor when Scrabulous was created and as it grew in popularity. In fact, Scrabulous likely helped Hasbro sell many copies of the game.

    Hasbro was completely blind to a market demand. Scrabulous saw it and went after it. I strongly doubt that having Scrabulous around made any negative effect on the sales of Hasbro's products.

    However, Hasbro decided that it needed an (exclusive) chunk of the online presence. In so doing, they interfered with a popular offering thus upsetting potential customers, brought out a lame knock-off of that offering thus upsetting potential customers, and brought about a ton of negativity of those potential customers against Hasbro.

     

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  113.  
    identicon
    MLS, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 9:40pm

    Re: Re: You're right, intellectual property law is silly (huh?)

    "In fact, Scrabulous likely helped Hasbro sell many copies of the game."

    Maybe it did. Then again, maybe it did not. There is no way to tell on the basis of information posted on blogs.

     

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  114.  
    identicon
    ManagementHasNoStay, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 9:43pm

    Textbook Publishers vs. The Sudents

    The RIAA could learn a thing or two from the textbook publishing industry. However, I find it particularly very strange that none of these cases or stories have ever made it mainstream or public knowledge…

    Check out

    www.nysun.com/new-york/this-detectives-mysteries-involve-real-life-books/49753/

    And

    www.au ctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m04/i25/s02

    They successfully sued a college student at Georgia Tech for copyright infringement with a judgment about $210,000 and $100,000 in attorney fees. This was only after he telephoned the plaintiff’s attorneys to discuss a amicable settlement and, according to court documents, disclose his personal bank statements, etc. All this was over sending out portable document format (PDF) files. …

    Check out Pearson Education, Inc., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Thomson Learning Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; v. Nadir Knyane

    The defendant is being sued for allegedly distributing two (that’s 2) instructor solution manuals as stated in the complaint. Only Pearson and John Wiley are itemized with the 2 allegedly distributed files. So why is Thomson and McGraw-Hill listed in the lawsuit?

    Check out

    Pearson Education, Inc., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Thomson Learning Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Defendant v. Yi Shi

    The defendant, a college student in Missouri, is being sued for allegedly distributing homework assignments and foreign edition textbooks of 19 texts. Wow, so lesson learned, you can’t distribute your homework without the expressed written permission of the publishers I guess. Actually, that could be reasoning for not turning in your homework on time.

    All of these lawsuits are from last year (September 2007). There’s many, many more but going over all of them would take too long. Plus to read them you need access to LexusNexus and other legal website access.

    It seems to me that these are filed quite systematic. I find it very strange and unusual that a large majority of these lawsuits are filed by one attorney. Furthermore, I find it equally strange that they are all filed in the Southern District of New York. Unlike the Recording Industry, who sends it to the defendant’s state of residence with counsel in that state, this is not the case.

    Since the publishers are concerned about people photocopying ‘their’ stuff and distributing it electronically why are they making their materials exclusively electronic? Why are they filing lawsuits on the basis of this?

    Also, popular McGraw-Hill text (named in a previous lawsuit against students) resource says this right next to the copyright “The contents of, or parts thereof, may be reproduced for use with [textbook name] provided such reproductions bear copyright notice and may be reproduced in any form for any other purpose without permission of the publisher.”

    Isn’t it funny how none of these stories truly make it mainstream or to public knowledge? A kid with a judgement larger than the RIAA lawsuit doesn’t even make a bleep. With about 50 lawsuits filed in the last year, and settlements (according to court documents and an enforcement agent) of up to “five figures”, or specified in one court case that settlements are between $700 - $70,000.

    Paul Newman put it best in Cool Hand Luke, “Wish you’d stop bein’ so good to me, Captain.”

     

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  115.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Probabilities

    On the contrary: I have no desire to practice copyright law. Patent law, yes, but copyright, no.
    Lawyers in general depend on on restriction of competition and government protection to keep their income high. Some guy in my own area was arrested by the government just the other day for practicing law without a government license.

    So I'm not sure where you get your information on how copyrights are restricting competition in the field of the arts.
    I didn't mention copyrights at all and don't know where you got the idea that I did. You almost sound delusional.

     

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  116.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: You're right, intellectual property law is silly (huh?)

    Agreed, thus the word "likely". However I would submit that the idea of someone playing a game online and then deciding that having an offline version would be useful is not a hard stretch, is it? There certainly have been a few such stories picked up in the media and in the blog-o-thingies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  117.  
    identicon
    Trevor, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 11:37am

    Rambus vs Dramurai

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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