UK Gov't's Response To Petition Against Disconnections: We've Redefined Disconnection

from the it's-still-a-disconnection dept

Just as David Cameron has announced plans to review UK copyright laws (yet again) and the UK High Court announced the (somewhat surprising) news that it will do a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act, the UK government also responded to a petition that was filed by opponents of the Digital Economy Act. The petition asked for the repeal of the Digital Economy Act, claiming that it was not fair to have users disconnected from their internet connections. The government's response is a bit frustrating in its use of unsupported claims and what appears to be a willful misunderstanding of the complaint:
It is clear that online copyright infringement inflicts considerable damage on the UK's creative economy including music, TV and film, games, sports and software. Industry estimates place this harm at £400m pa.

The Digital Economy Act includes a number of measures to tackle the problem and we expect these to be successful in significantly reducing online copyright infringement. However this is an area of rapid technological change and developing consumer behaviour. The Act therefore includes a reserve power to introduce further "technical" measures if the initial measures do not succeed. These technical measures would limit or restrict an infringers' access to the internet. They do not include disconnection.
First off, that first sentence is silly. The government should never cite an industry's own stats when that industry is asking for protectionism -- especially when tons of independent studies have shown that such industry estimates are completely inaccurate. Second, pretending that "limiting or restricting infringers' access to the internet" does "not include disconnection" is playing a rather obnoxious game of semantics. If you're blocked from accessing the internet, you've lost your connection, and thus have been disconnected. This isn't the first time it's done so. During the run up to the vote on the bill, we noted that the politicians supporting it had decided to make sure not to call account suspensions disconnections. Effectively, they're trying to redefine "disconnection" to only mean a permanent disconnection. A "temporary suspension," is not a disconnection in their book of misleading propaganda.

Of course, to anyone who loses their internet connection, no matter what the length of time, it certainly is a disconnection. Calling it something different doesn't change that. It's pretty sad when the UK government officials can't even be intellectually honest on such a straightforward issue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Call me Al, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:01am

    It is sad but not surprising. Government officials and ministers seem to have an almost pathological need to spin every issue so that, at first glance, it does not appear as bad as it really is.

     

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  2.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:04am

    No surprise...

    Having signed the petition I recieved the response and as said I wasn't surprised by it... I also wasn't surprised when Ed Vaizey (Minister responsible for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries) failed to respond to an email I sent pulling him on continually repeating statistics and figures that came from the industries asking for more government protection.

    Hopefully the judicial review will clarify things further... although if it doesn't... I won't be surprised.

     

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  3.  
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    abc gum, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:09am

    It seems that some politicians have been disconnected from reality.

     

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  4.  
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    md1500 (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:38am

    How about we start calling filesharing "temporary suspension of payment."?

     

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  5.  
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    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:42am

    Will these people act on my industry letter?

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    It has been estimated that three strikes will end up covering at least 30% of the UK population over the next year. The failure of these people to connect from their homes will result in them not getting access to my freely available music. The consequences of that will be a loss of sales for my online business of 30% of the UK population. Estimated per customer profits per year are currently at 12 USD and expected to go higher as I plan on raising all my prices in the UK very soon. This figures to upwards of some 216 million USD losses for the current year.

    I know I don't just represent myself and these figures are likely representative of thousands others.

    It is imperative to our share-alike industry, to the tune of trillions of dollars, that the UK cease disconnecting our customers from the Internet.

    Reeling from the losses,
    Truly Yours

     

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  6.  
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    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Re: No surprise...

    I posted a letter in a different comment below. If you think it might apply to you and would like to send it in, feel free. Feel free even to use it to mock other industries.

    Same applies to anyone else that lives in the UK or anywhere else.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:06am

    It's pretty sad when the UK government officials can't even be intellectually honest on such a straightforward issue.
    A nice line, but I'm pretty sure you're not naive enough to have actually expected anything different.
    More relevant "Yes Minister" quotes:
    "Knowledge brings complicity and guilt – ignorance has a certain dignity" (Sir Humphrey)

    "The law of inverse relevance – the less you intend doing about something, the more you have to keep talking about it" (Sir Arnold)
    There are many who consider that "Yes Minister" was not actually a sitcom but was in fact documentary. It's also amusing in a horrible sort of way to see how the same arguments lampooned in it all that time ago keep coming round again. Have a look at I thini it was "The Writing on the Wall" for some eerily familiar rhetoric about ID cards for example.

     

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  8.  
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    M68H (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    My reply from Ed Vaizey

    Like Planespotter I received an reply from Ed Vaizey on the same subject and also recieved a reply to the petition: Collectively, the creative industries are a significant source of employment and national wealth creation, as well as almost uniquely delivering cultural and social benefits. They contribute 6.2% of GVA and have grown faster than the economy as a whole. These sectors have indicated that they suffer considerable losses from unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing. The BPI claim P2P file-sharing costs the UK music industry £180m pa (2008) and IPSOS estimates a loss in the UK for TV and films of £152m (2007). Figures are not available for the losses from unlawful file-sharing in other content industries such as publishing, business software or computer games, but it is clear that they are all suffering significant losses. The scale of unlawful activity is a major concern for those contemplating investment in innovative content models that rely upon any form of payment. These figures dont seem to add up? or is it just me?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    "tons of independent studies have shown that such industry estimates are completely inaccurate."

    That's quite a bold assertion, given that the UK's creative industries do actually have proper research to back up their loss estimates. Where are these "tons of independent studies" showing that the industry loss figures are "completely inaccurate?" Can you point us to any?

     

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  10.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    ...doublethink at work

    -disconnection
    -suspension
    = measures

     

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  11.  
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    mike allen (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:22am

    Re:

    they will expect you to pay your ISP even if they disconnect sorry suspend your internet. who do they think they are kidding?

     

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  12.  
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    latin angel (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    It seems that some politicians have been suspended from reality U got a misspell...

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Don't go there. As long as a country restricts freedom it is on my no-fly list. I don't buy products (try to avoid China) from them, I don't travel there. Britain is in big trouble. No one buys BP here now unless you don't know it. No one flys there anymore, they have nothing to export. Pretty soon they will be only an island in the storm with lots of terrorists. Britain owes the people of the world a lot from all of the resources they've plundered and countries they've enslaved. In other words who cares what Britain thinks?

     

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  14.  
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    atishnis (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:05am

    re

    They contribute 6.2% of GVA and have grown faster than the economy as a whole. These sectors have indicated that they suffer considerable losses from unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing. The BPI claim P2P file-sharing costs the UK music industry £180m pa (2008) and IPSOS estimates a loss in the UK for TV and films of £152m (2007). Figures are not available for the losses from unlawful file-sharing in other content industries such as publishing, business software or computer games, but it is clear that they are all suffering significant losses. The scale of unlawful activity is a major concern for those contemplating investment in innovative content models that rely upon any form of payment.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Re:

    Please, at least do some fact checking before making sweeping statements, BP hasn't been a "British" company for a long time the US own only 1% less in terms of ownership than Britain does (40% UK, 39% US)so really boycotting BP is kinda shooting yourself in the foot.

    Not buying products from countries that restrict freedom of its citizens and you only "try to avoid" China?

    OK the UK's history is fairly sordid in terms of what we did when building the empire, but hey at least we were up front about it... we wanted what you had and we had the superior army/navy so we took it. At least we weren't caught out saying we are going in to look for some big bad WMD's, couldn't find any so said it was about Democracy...

    Kind of glad you don't feel like traveling to Britain, to paraphrase you who cares what you think?

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    That's quite a bold assertion, given that the UK's creative industries do actually have proper research to back up their loss estimates.

    Where? Seriously. Where? Point me to the "proper research". I'll wait.. You're not talking about the Forrester report that was extrapolated upon extrapolated with totally bogus assumptions, right?

    Where are these "tons of independent studies" showing that the industry loss figures are "completely inaccurate?" Can you point us to any?

    See the search box above? Try it.

     

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  17.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:14am

    Re:

    How can they have proper research? Did they go and ask every single person who obtained their "item" from file sharing whether they would have paid for it or not? If the answer to that is NO then they are basing their losses on something akin to "1 download = 1 lost sale" and their research is therefore worthless.

     

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  18.  
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    Hiram, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:15am

    People could also just not download music that they dont own and none of this would matter. You get what you deserve.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Re:

    Where are these "tons of independent studies" showing that the industry loss figures are "completely inaccurate?"
    Frankly this is one area where pure reason is as or more effective than any study.
    1. No matter what you think of file sharing it is innacurate (deliberately so most often) to suggest the industry is "losing money" to it. Nothing is "lost". That's like me claiming to have "lost" my face because someone took a picture of me - nope, my face and whatever potential it has for revenue generation (probably not much!) is still there. What is really being discussed is a potential that the companies in question might have made more money if people had not copied things for free. Such a claim has no firm factual basis - there is no way on earth to count the absense of something.

    2. The numbers given most often assume a 1-to-1 correlation or something close relating "number of copied files" to "'lost' sales". Reason and indeed personal experience suggests that must be spurious. Would you really have bought everything you ever got given for free in your life if it hadn't been given to you? I've certainly been "comped" for theatre tickets before where there is no earthly way you could have induced me to pay to go and see that particular show.

    3. In these claims I've never seen any numbers cited except statistics from the industry itself. Whether or not you believe independant studies showing different figures exist or the validity of such figures that should give you pause. I don't know about you, but any time someone points to a single source for data it immediately becomes suspect. That is always increased when the source of the data has a direct link to someone with a vested financial interest in the answer. So unless several seperate sources are quoted it is reasonable to assume the figures are spurious - I'd assume the same thing about a single source on the other side.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Hong Kong Phoey?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    Seriously? Suggest you move out of the US then. It is at least as guilty of all those things as the UK. I think you might want to think carefully about any claims of any kind of "moral superiority".

    By the way, bp is a significantly american-based company, the last time I was in the US a couple of months ago their "gas stations" still seemed to have customers despite the big "bp" logos on the door, and if you think bp going down in the US would be a good thing I suggest you learn some economics. You'd hit approximately 100,000 jobs directly in the US, not to mention the large ripple effects through the service industries that support the oil industries. I think you'll also find that a lot of US as well as a lot of UK pension and investment funds have been hurt by the rabid rhetoric against bp and it's drop in value. I also find it interesting that their worst problems have all been in the US and all since they bought Amoco, which was an American operation.

    I assume you have the money to buy your own island where you can be happy in your own little world?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Intellectually?

    As I understand the terms "intellectual honesty/dishonesty" has to do with whether or not you willfully kid yourself with bad logic.

    I can't see this "disconnect" as anything but plain old dishonesty.

     

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  23.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    lmao... Because I've downloaded I now own CDs from artists that I would never have even heard off in my country because they never get any exposure.

    Stop living in the 19th century.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    PRS accounts:
    http://www.prsformusic.com/creators/news/research/Documents/Will%20Page%20and%20Chris%20C arey%20(2009)%20Adding%20Up%20The%20Music%20Industry%20for%202008.pdf

    PRS:'The Big Number
    £3.6 Billion for 2008
    Revenues up 4.7% on 2007'

    BPI: “It’s encouraging to see industry revenues stabilize and even show modest growth in 2009,” says Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, in a press release. Such is the case in the UK where the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has just announced that last year’s recorded music sales rose some 1.4% to £928.8m ($1.4m USD).
    http://www.zeropaid.com/news/88877/3-strikes-recall-uk-music-sales-up-1-4-in-2009/

     

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  25.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    "technical measures would limit or restrict ... do not include disconnection"

    Does that mean still forced to pay the ISP? It's a point I've been wondering about for a while, as disconnecting large numbers of people surely won't fly with ISPs *unless* the money keeps rolling in; then it's gravy. Any UKer with knowledge? Or has anyone yet to be "limited or restricted" and so that is yet to be seen? (The surprise when the axe falls?)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Re: "technical measures would limit or restrict ... do not include disconnection"

    One I've wondered about too.... you have after all entered into a legally binding contract with the ISP - they supply you with a service in return for money. I would not suprise me to find that in the rabid quest for the blood of "pirates" the industry and their government enforcement arm had overlooked the wider legal ramifications - it's not like they haven't done it before.

     

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  27.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Re:

    A nice line, but I'm pretty sure you're not naive enough to have actually expected anything different.

    He said "sad", not "surprising".

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re:

    Some of us have been around for a while, and have seen those studies. Seems like we're getting more new traffic, or more people trying to nitpick everyday.

    So for the love of god, can we add a "relevant studies" part of the article? Just a list of studies that you can choose when writing an article, and have them show up under the article, above the comments. It's not that difficult to do (a list containing the links, with relevant tags associated to them) though on whatever infrastructure you're using it may be cumbersome to implement.

    Sorry, it might help with the [citation needed] requests, and I haven't had my coffee yet, so I feel perfectly justified in being crabby.

     

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  29.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Re: re

    And you're quoting made-up industry figures for what reason?

     

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  30.  
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    mike allen (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: "technical measures would limit or restrict ... do not include disconnection"

    simple answear they are contracted to provide a service you to payfor it. if they disconnect you then 2 things you can do.
    1 stop paying
    2 sue them for breach of contract.

     

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  31.  
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    MrWilson, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re:

    No, by the politicians' definition of disconnected meaning "permanently disconnected," disconnected would be the correct term here.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re:

    He said "sad", not "surprising".
    Yeah, badly worded I'll give you that one. I'm going to blame it on it being Friday before home time when I wrote it. What I meant was it is such an inevitable occurence it's barely worth a resigned sigh never mind actual sadness.

     

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  33.  
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    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I (and surely many others) would really find it valuable to have easy access to all of this past material. I hope Mike can help start some sort of indexing, but, since these blog posting are public, perhaps volunteers will start such an indexing which can then be contributed and placed on its own page.

    Maybe someone wants to start a wikipage. Look at what is being done to help tie together arguments against software patents: http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Software_patents_wiki:_home_page . That site is loaded with information that slowly is being organized.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:24pm

    Re: Will these people act on my industry letter?

    The key point is that the industry associates a download with a lost sale. We can argue that instead a download represents a captured sale. These two 1:1 ratios are direct opposites and extreme.

    The actual solution to generating income is to care about the work and keep it alive and fresh and sell scarce items (ie, the mantra repeated here frequently). You can sell CDs, t-shirts, access to the author or a new performance, etc. You can even use the works to enhance distinct businesses (eg, through a commercial, promotion, or by providing an interesting atmosphere at the store.. and whatever else people will come up with).

    The copyright monopolies are useful to those that want to rely on the past largely with very little added further work and to serve as gatekeepers to deny others free access to add their own spins on these past cultural works. They want to treat the cultural works like a limited gold mine which they own entirely and which can yield a steady supply of gold forever. This despite an intellectual work naturally having infinite scarcity and being a part of society's culture. This despite the tremendous opportunity costs of this model in today's Information Age. Why copyright monopolies for so many decades? Is that just to society and to new creators?

    Anyway, for those without blockbuster budgets, giving away the digital copy is the path to increased sales. This is the opposite effect argued by the giant companies saturated with sales, trying to keep all access under tight control, and completely misunderstanding the Internet.

     

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  35.  
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    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm writing an amicus curiae brief where I could use a list of such references. The brief is against patents as it currently is practiced, but it leverages copyright law. Part of the strategy is to shake the legs of copyright law before then showing how patent laws are much worse when applied to largely intellectual content trivially or simply tied to physical material (and I address other patent scope issues).

    I will try to engage people in the near future to help fund efforts to introduce the brief to the SCOTUS as well as to all Congressional representatives and other relevant parties. [I have many ideas and details laid out but am not yet ready to start.] The work will be share-alike allowing others to quote liberally and even submit the full work or with modifications or otherwise use it in a business. [There are better writers and many things that could be improved.] Part of my goal is to increase awareness and accessibility by those without tons of money to paths where they can let decision makers know their views (ie, neutralize big money lobbying over-influence). Another goal is to help grow and promote open businesses. Yet another goal is to increase awareness for free and friendly licensed open source software that is being threatened by software patents.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Eg, I could use links to cases where "derivative work" was interpreted broadly, eg, to cover perhaps general ideas, but also to cover cases where a small fraction of specific details of existing works were used or modified only a little (clearly leading to significant new creativity and a totally new expression). Perhaps the Catcher in the Rye sequel would be an example though I haven't looked at the details.

    A broad reading of "derivative" (even with some exceptions such as for parody) robs from the public and impedes progress. It hampers free speech since copying and deriving to some extent from others is expected in speech.

    I won't tackle in any significant detail the full argument to abolish copyright, but I want to make it clear that the ground upon which copyright sits is not stable.

    Anything on fair use abuse and surprises would be useful as well (for copyright).

    A page with a long list of links to success stories where people give away a product to increase overall sales or make back their investments quickly .. where they exceed expectations.. would be very useful.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Nov 13th, 2010 @ 12:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Part of my goal is to increase awareness and accessibility by those without tons of money to paths where they can let decision makers know their views

    There is much ground to cover and many views to be expressed.

    There is much writing to be done by many different people and submitted to government representatives. All of this requires funding.

     

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  38.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Nov 13th, 2010 @ 2:52am

    Re:

    Please, are you really that naive to believe they wouldn't still run to the government if filesharing stopped?

     

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  39.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Nov 13th, 2010 @ 9:45am

    Copyright again

    Excellent article.
    It would be good if someone took it on themselves to forward such thinking to the appropriate people. It won't help until we have campaign finance reform, but it is a step in the right direction.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Nov 13th, 2010 @ 10:38pm

    Re: re

    I think they might be growing faster because of p2p and other sharing.

    At least this has been the case for many artists who have decided to embrace sharing.

     

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


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