US's Global IP Cops Bemoan Anti-IP Activists For Making Their Lives More Difficult

from the just-as-bad-as-pirates,-apparently dept

One of our readers, Virginia, alerted us to a report concerning a gathering of US IP Attaches (basically, the US gov't's international copyright cops that we send around the world to try to enforce draconian IP policy), in which they spend most of the time complaining about how countries around the world don't agree with the US's view on intellectual property and are quick to ignore it when possible. In fact, those countries often don't even want to invite their US counterparts to meetings because they're "too aggressively pro-IP."

Of course, rather than take this as a sign that maybe their views are too aggressively pro-IP, they instead want to blame anyone who is pointing out the dangers of being so aggressively pro-IP. The article quotes US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, saying that US IP cops can't just focus on pirates and counterfeiters, but need to start worrying about those of us crazy enough to point out the dangers and downsides of aggressively pro-IP policies:
"[There is a] second threat [from] a growing movement of anti-IP activists drawn from universities, foundations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), ideologically driven interest groups, and even governments."
You see, we're not a part of the debate and the conversation -- perhaps showing how their strong belief in stronger IP is dangerous -- but we're a "threat" that needs to be dealt with. Nice to know that the US's worldwide IP enforcers have such open minds.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Evil Mike, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    IP Freely

    "Nice to know that the US's worldwide IP enforcers have such open minds."

    They're not allowed to have open minds, as somebody already owns the IP on that concept and won't license it out. :P

     

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  2.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Not Their Job

    You see, we're not a part of the debate and the conversation -- perhaps showing how their strong belief in stronger IP is dangerous -- but we're a "threat" that needs to be dealt with. Nice to know that the US's worldwide IP enforcers have such open minds.

    Of course you are a part of the debate. But the job of an IP Attache is not to engage in debate about whether intellectual property laws are a good idea or not, their job is to enforce intellectual property laws and relevant international treaties regarding intellectual property. Their pointing out that anti-IP advocates make their job more difficult by undermining the enforcement of valid legal protection is simply a statement of fact.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with having or not having an open mind. Their views on the subject are irrelevant. It's their job to be aggressively pro-IP. If they aren't aggressive in their advocacy for enforcement of the law, they should be fired.

     

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  3.  
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    kirillian (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re: IP Freely

    dang...I was intending to file for that one...

     

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  4.  
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    kirillian (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Not Their Job

    Frankly, I think you missed his point there. Mike is responding to Tom Donohue, US Chamber of Commerce President, not to the IP police themselves. Tom Donohue made the claim that consumers/tech dirt/people-who-are-not-part-of-the-pro-ip-camp are the threat. The fact that HE was the one making that statement is the point that Mike addresses...and Mike concludes logically that we are not a part of the argument according to a pro-IP big-wig. Your statement concerning the IP Attache actually seems to be a misunderstanding/misinterpretation on your part...

     

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  5.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Relativistic Laws

    Laws that aggrandize so-called intellectual property rights by stealing from the public domain are good? Isn't the pro-IP crowd an"ideologically driven interest groups"?

    But if you push for a law that would protect the public's right fairly use so-called intellectual property or to roll-back the law to a prior more reasonable version, you are a criminal?

    Since when it is it considered criminal to advocate your position in a democracy? Orwell's 1984 has come true.

     

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  6.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Not Their Job

    No, I don't think I missed the point. The article to which Mike linked was about a meeting of IP Attaches who were "lamenting" that other countries and international organizations don't do enough to meet their obligations to enforce laws regarding IP protection, and that they think their not "welcome" at some conferences because they are too "aggressively pro-IP"

    Yes, Mike also quoted Donohue, who is U.S. Chamber of Commerce president, not part of the Department of Commerce, but Mike also said "Nice to know that the US's worldwide IP enforcers have such open minds." The IP "enforcers" (are they going around knee-capping pirates?) are the IP Attaches, not Donohue. And it's not their job to have an open mind about enforcing the law.

    Would you support a cop having an open mind about doing his job enforcing the law based on what he thinks about the law?

    I don't believe I misunderstood or misinterpreted. I can only go by what Mike wrote. If it's wrong, I'm sure he'll correct me.

    (And on a further note, the IP Attache program was created by the Bush administration, so things may change under the new president.)

     

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  7.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Relativistic Laws

    Whoever said that advocating for changes in IP law is criminal? It's not. Please, advocate all you want.

    But if pirating intellectual property can't be called "stealing" here (and any time I've used the word to describe music piracy a small army of commenters will be here to point out that it can't be "stealing", it's only "infringement"), how can a content creator or publisher who seek to protect their intellectual property rights be "stealing" from the "public domain"?

     

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  8.  
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    knifight, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    I um, agree with Mr. Donahue

    Apparently none of you actually go through the sweat, blood, and tears of creating IP from scratch... Entertainment other than entertaining yourself, isn't free. Software shouldn't be free unless the developer/producer wants it to be. In the global market IP isn't usually something that facilitates the basic standard of living, and so does not need to be provided to people as a right or at no cost. I'm not sure there actually is a valid other side to this "debate." And yes it is a "threat" to legal enforcement of IP laws to have domestic idiots saying that things they didn't produce... should be unprotected. The "stealing from the public domain" to make IP issue is a red herring. Ok? Stop being silly. That's not what's being discussed here. Not everybody on the planet can afford to hear/watch/use everthing merely because it exists - and in many cases can be easily transported in cyberspace. Open source collectives are not the same as "Knowledge wants to be free." advocates. And you are naive or ignorant of the concept (and actual costs) of investment in competitive advantages by nation-states, corporations and other entitites to think that geo-political forces are not motivating a lot of the lax-IP attitudes around the world. "Too aggressive?" How aggressive are you all about protecting your bank accounts? Do you think there's a too aggressive amount of protection your bank can have for your hard earned cash?

     

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  9.  
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    kirillian (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    LostSailor...seriously...address what is actually said. Once again, you missed (or ignored) the whole point of what is being said and you are throwing out a straw man argument instead.

    The quoting of Donohue was not an "also" or a side-comment on Mike's part...the side comments were those on the IP enforcers...he brought them up ONLY to introduce the backstory to Tom Donohue's comment - which is the REAL point and purpose of this article.

    Mike addresses Tom Donohue's statement directly...you are only arguing about the IRRELEVANT point that cops shouldn't have open minds...the point is irrelevant because Mike isn't even talking about IP cops...since when is Donohue an IP cop?!?!? He's involved in IP, but he is most definitely NOT an IP cop...from the sense that he doesn't go out and police IP...he only makes IP POLICY. That is a HUGE distinction. He ISN'T the IP attache...if you read the article, he is only referred to from the context that he spoke on the issue.

     

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  10.  
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    kirillian (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    dang...someone tell me...am I completely misinterpreting LostSailor completely?!?! Is this not the THIRD post where he has completely taken a line or two out of an entire post completely out of context and flamed it?!?

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    I think you've been here long enough to know that the objections are not regarding those who "steal" IP. Rather, it's against those who use the overriding IP "protections" to kill competition and stifle innovation.

    It's a massive difference, and I have no idea why people such as yourself have such a hard time grasping it.

     

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  12.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Re: I um, agree with Mr. Donahue

    If you're one of those people who have created IP from scratch, please inform us of who you are and which IP you have personally created.

    That way, I can make sure that the money I spend on entertainment each week doesn't make it into the pockets of such a short-sighted, closed-minded fool, when there's so many more innovative talents to support.

     

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  13.  
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    mike42 (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Re: I um, agree with Mr. Donahue

    I'd love to know what kind of IP you create from "scratch." I think that point can easily be debunked. If you look around this site, you will find many IP producers (myself included) who take Mike's side. The fact that you fear dissent and discussion shows that you don't believe in the basic precepts of a free society. If your point is so strong, make it through dialog, not by stifling those with opposing views. Its all about that "freedom of speech" thingy.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Mark, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    "But if pirating intellectual property can't be called "stealing" here (and any time I've used the word to describe music piracy a small army of commenters will be here to point out that it can't be "stealing", it's only "infringement"), how can a content creator or publisher who seek to protect their intellectual property rights be "stealing" from the "public domain"?"


    The reason why it is stealing from teh public domain, is because they are actively removing an item from the public domain. If I go into a music store and take a CD, it is stealing because I am actively removing a tangible good. Piracy is infringement because it is getting something for free, but in the form of a copy of the original. The owner of the original item is still in possession of said item.

     

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  15.  
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    Moderation, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    LostSailor, you're wrong.

    I don't think a copy should have an opinion when it comes to upholding the law and arresting drug users... but if the chief of police was quoted as saying he felt people supporting laws relaxing medical weed laws were a "threat"... then yes, I have a problem with that!

     

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  16.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    Kirillian:

    I'm honestly not trying to misinterpret anyone. Please re-read Mike's post. He's making several points: one is about IP Attaches' being "too aggressively pro-IP" and instead of reconsidering their position, blaming anti-IP advocates. He then uses Donohue's quote to reinforce that argument an concludes with the comment about IP enforcers (IP Attaches) and open minds.

    Donohue may or may need to have an open mind, but it's not the job of the IP attaches to do so; they're hired to enforce the law. Donohue is not part of the government, essentially he's a lobbyist: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents business interests in D.C. He doesn't even really "make IP policy", though I'm sure he lobbies for it.

     

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  17.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    Kirillian:

    If I'm "flaming" then the threshhold for flames has been greatly lowered.

    I was merely making the minor point that Steve R. said that IP laws (or "aggrandizing" IP laws) is "stealing" from the public domain. Since most posters around here are vocal that on one side, copyright infringement can't be "stealing" (and please, I perfectly well understand the argument, I simply disagree that it is a correct argument and it's not worth it to rehash yet again), then it's not right to call IP laws "stealing" from the public.

    I fail to see how this is a flame. I'm not talking about Steve R., I'm addressing the language he's using it his argument. How is this "out of context"?

     

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  18.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    LostSailor Wrote:

    "Would you support a cop having an open mind about doing his job enforcing the law based on what he thinks about the law?"


    Absolutely! This is their duty in a truly just society. What if a law was passed which stated that all guys named LostSailor should be castrated? I would hope that any sensible person would disobey that law.

    If the Nazis had used their humanity to make decisions rather than blindly follow in lockstep every order given them...imagine how different history would have turned out.

    If you believe that orders are to be followed without question...maybe you *should* be castrated.

    ...don't get excited; I'm just kidding...

    ...although you *are* a poo-poo head.

    Take that!

     

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  19.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    PaulT:

    I fully grasp the concept. But I think you're talking about two different things:

    One is the idea of whether intellectual property protected by copyright can be "stolen" (most here think not because it's not tangible; I disagree for reasons I've explained before)

    The other is whether it is wise in the digital era to enforce copyright and other IP laws (or whether they are necessary at all).

    I know that most here don't object to copyright infringement because the object to "overriding IP protections" in general (though I know that Mike has been consistent in not necessarily supporting, encouraging, or approving of unauthorized copying). But they are really two different (though related) things.

     

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  20.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    The reason why it is stealing from teh public domain, is because they are actively removing an item from the public domain.

    That presupposes that the right of "ownership" of created content lies with the public all along, which is not necessarily true. IP laws are protection of the content creator's rights in the content he/she creates, balanced against the general public good in the use of that content. That the pubic welfare has an interest in created content is different than saying they have a right in that content.

    You can certainly argue that the balance has been tilted too far toward the content creator and against the public good, and I'd likely agree with you. But if it's incorrect to call copying "stealing" then it's equally wrong to call IP laws "stealing".

     

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  21.  
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    LostSailor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    Well, I would personally be against such a law.

    But your Nazi analogy fails on many levels. It would work if you said that the U.S. Department of Commerce decided that IP Attaches should shoot anti-IP advocates on sight. That would be an immoral law that no one in good conscience should follow.

    "poo-poo head"? Now that's advanced thread degeneration!

    Gotta run.

     

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  22.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    Mark Wrote:

    "Piracy is infringement because it is getting something for free, but in the form of a copy of the original. The owner of the original item is still in possession of said item."


    Could we get this straight please? I don't care what the IP owners *want* to call it, obtaining IP without license is NOT PIRACY. It may be illegal, it may be unethical, it may be infringement...

    But to call it piracy is to attempt to use phraseology which is emotionally loaded in order to gain some form of advantage over one's enemies.

    A pirate *attacks* his victim, *destroying their home or vessel*, in an attempt to *rob* the victim by way of *violence* to obtain the victims *personal possessions*, with the *intent to later sell those spoils* for some profit.

    To call some zit-faced teen in his mom's basement, downloading a shitty, lowrez screen-cap of The Dark Night a pirate, is to basically sully the name of pirates.

    The kid is a two-bit skimmer if anything.

    Pirates have a long history. Their deeds and M.O. are well known. Please stop using the term "pirate" to describe what amounts to petty theft. Pirates commandeer oil tankers on the high seas and kill the crew, then ransom the $100 million in oil back to the original owners. They don't download movies illegally.

    On their off time, they may watch illegally obtained movies, but it's their zit-faced teen nephew who obtains them. AND HE'S NOT A PIRATE!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Software Developer, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    Re: I um, agree with Mr. Donahue

    I happen to make a living by getting people to pay me for creating things from scratch. I'm doing quite well, I don't need IP laws to support me and I don't think it is unreasonable to expect the same from anyone else.

    When you add in the way that IP laws are abused to the detriment of the smaller companies and entrepreneurs I am all for the destruction of most, if not all, IP based laws, especially those relating to software.

     

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  24.  
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    Keill Randor, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Hmm...

    The problem here, is easily described by one word:

    Tyranny.

    We have a small group of people deciding the rules for everyone else, (and enforcing them), whilst hiding behind an illusion that the rules are beneficial for more people than they actually are.

    (Note: I'm a musician and composer, so I have some investment in this).

    For thousands/millions of years, humanity existed without such things as 'intellectual property' - even civilization precedes it by a long time. So the first thing to understand is that civilization will NOT end if such an invention should disappear - for an invention it is, and a very recent one...

    As we all should know - copyright was originally invented to protect the profits of book making factories, to stop people from copying their books so they could recoup the investment of making the factory etc..

    It was only later - (with the bearne convention) - that the whole 'compensate the artist as an incentive to create future works' comes into play.

    What is happening is that the latter view is basically being corrupted to become a modern day equivalent of the original version of copyright - it now exists to protect the profits of the large corporations that try and control most of the media.

    However, it must be understood that all this is actually working AGAINST humanities inherent behaviour, (which we obeyed without problem thousands of years). Because of this, in order for any of the 'intellectual property' law to actually be 'moral', it must compensate humanity for the loss of it's previous 'rights' and behaviour, which is something the original bearne convention tried to do.

    These days however, it's become so corrupted again, that it cannot be called 'right' or 'moral' on a grand scale. Yes, on a small scale - dealing with composers/musicians personally/directly - it can be, but that doesn't give these corporations any money...

    Neither does copying/distributing the material without their permission, even if it is normal human behaviour...

    The fact is, if you want to change human behaviour fully - you need two things, and carrot and a stick.

    The problem with most media corporations is that they're so afraid, they've forgotten about the carrot, and are getting the governments to enforce the biggest stick they can.

    And they'll LOSE, since HUMANITY always wins, even if it takes a thousand years...

    Of course, if they USE humanity and human nature, rather than fighting it, they MIGHT actually WIN - but they don't understand how...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    JJ, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    how can a content creator or publisher who seek to protect their intellectual property rights be "stealing" from the "public domain"?

    Perhaps because when that happens the public domain DOES NOT HAVE the good. So, yes, it does seem like stealing because there is a real loss.

     

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  26.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    Here is a nifty article on Wikipedia on the Copyright Term Extension Act. This article also has a nifty graph showing how copyright has become more onerous.

    Here is what the Wikipedia article states "This law, also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or pejoratively as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, effectively 'froze' the advancement date of the public domain in the United States for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules. Under this Act, additional works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still copyrighted in 1998 will not enter the public domain until 2019 or afterwards (depending on the date of the product) unless the owner of the copyright releases them into the public domain prior to that or if the copyright gets extended again.". By using a legislative "trick" that delays the content from entering the public domain, the content industry has effectively "stolen" the content from the public.

    Let's reverse the situation. If the copyright law was changed so that material would enter the public domain after only five years, you would hear the content producers howl about how their so-called property was being stolen!!

     

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  27.  
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    mike42 (profile), Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    No, the Nazi comment is dead on. The Nazi's did not "shoot people on sight", they blindly followed their leaders orders without moral judgement. This is exactly the behavior you are recomending. I guess, in your eyes, the minute you become a law enforcement agent you sign away your right to have your own ethics and morals.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 7:08pm

    IP

    Intellectual Property

    Ha ha ha
    There is no such thing.
    Now go piss up a rope.

     

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  29.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: I um, agree with Mr. Donahue

    I happen to make a living by getting people to pay me for creating things from scratch.
    I am also a programmer at the moment.

    When you add in the way that IP laws are abused to the detriment of the smaller companies and entrepreneurs I am all for the destruction of most, if not all, IP based laws, especially those relating to software.
    Perfectly said. I agree 100%

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Relativistic Laws

    > One is the idea of whether intellectual
    > property protected by copyright can be
    > "stolen" (most here think not because it's
    > not tangible; I disagree for reasons I've
    > explained before)

    Actually, the reason most here think not is because court after court has ruled that it's not stealing; that theft and infringement are two wholly different things under the law.

     

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  31.  
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    bshock, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 7:43am

    I'm not really a threat to IP...

    But if there were a way I could eliminate the IP delusion without actually resorting to violence, I would.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    Mike:

    Not quite. Enforcing IP laws is a bit different than genocide. Comparisons to Nazis is way off. I know people can get emotional about this issue, but let's have some perspective.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    knifight, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 10:05am

    To Mike42:
    First off, I *am* engaging in dialog by posting. I'm not stiffling anyone by disagreeing with Mike. I am allowed to disagree with any given prevailing attitude as much as you are. If merely posting a dissenting entry here is "stiffling" to you, then it is you who don't understand that whole "freedom of speech" thingy. Please read some world news or travel a little bit to understand what it means to suppress dissent.

    To kirilian and Moderation and several others:
    Second. Ok, if the point of this article is that the policy makers are not open to a debate (as opposed to those at the lower levels who are charged with executing that policy) then Mike, may have a point. However, if you've ever led a large organization you know that it is poisinous for morale if the leader's vision and position is not clear. Personally I think the debates you all are having about IP should take place a bit higher than Mr. Donahue. It's his job to figure out a strategy (if not necessarily to execute it himself) that will further our *commercial* interest abroad and once those interests are defined (in the debate above his level), he is correct in assessing threats to pursuing those interests.

    To ChimpBush McHitlerBurton & Keill Randor:
    Lastly, I have learned something in this debate (stiffled as it may be). As someone who has a part time job dealing with REAL pirates (yo,ho,ho and here's my human cargo)... Alright: I must concede that there is a whole mess of grey area where we have infringement vs. stealing, denying the creator the origninal vs. skimming profits by copying an original, and the invention of the concept of IP as well as the idea of a "public domain" and people's rights to whatever is in it. etc. So using the word "pirate" for IP issues like this is now struck from my vocabulary. You are correct in saying it is unnecesarily inflamatory. I reserve the right to invoke something as strong as "stealing" in future posts, but I will be more judicious with it.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Hmm...

    Keill:

    One teensy correction. Intellectual property is a very old concept, dating back at least two millenia.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Nelson Cruz, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    I wonder how long it will take until some Joseph McCarthy wannabe calls out these "Anti-IP activists" as Anti-American, Anti-Capitalism and Communists.

    What's next, political assassinations of the leading "Anti-IP activists" around the world?

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Their Job

    Lost Sailor, I think you need to learn the difference between comparing two things and equating them.

    I was not equating what the Nazis did to what an IP enforcement officer does, I was comparing the two, and answering your question with that comparison.

    Think about what I said.

    It is too easy to dismiss a conceptual argument by resorting to straw-man equivalents. I didn't equate, and your insistence that I did is disingenuous.

    Tet d'merde!

     

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


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