How Long Until A Lawsuit Is Filed Against eBook Trading Service?

from the hours?-days? dept

We've already talked about how people are starting to freak out about "lending clubs" forming on Facebook to share Kindle ebooks, now that Amazon has launched a ridiculously limited "lending" feature. Not surprisingly, such efforts are quickly moving beyond Facebook as well, such as with the launch of a service called eBookFling, which is basically a marketplace for matching up folks for "lending" such limited ebooks. I have no clue how well this particular service will work -- and I'm curious to see how both publishers and the Amazons and Barnes & Nobles of the world react to the fact that they're charging $1.99 for folks who don't have any "book credits" to get a book. I doubt many people will actually pay, but sooner or later I imagine someone's going to sue, and it'll make for quite the interesting lawsuit...


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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 7:14pm

    Copy'right' infringement.
    defamation
    trademark infringement

    "such as with the launch of a service called eBookFling"

    You stole my idea. PATENT INFRINGEMENT!!!

     

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    AR (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 7:39pm

    Freely giving books to other to read. Hmm...

    After that I guess the only thing left would be to sue the public libraries... Sue the people who actually donate books to the libraries.
    Having those kinds of infringers around will only corrupt society and take money out of the pockets of the creators.

    "Creators", jeez it almost sounds like Im referring to God or something. I think Im starting to get a complex myself. No offense.

     

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      bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:48am

      Re: Freely giving books to other to read. Hmm...

      The library model worked when books are physical objects that wore out and could only be in one place. Digital objects don't have that limitation. I would love to let everyone borrow digital copies but it's not going to pay the content providers.

      In any case, Google and the WWW has already replaced most of the reasons for libraries to exist.

       

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        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: Freely giving books to other to read. Hmm...

        Digital objects don't have that limitation.

        DRM.

        DRM is an attempt to make digital files act like physical objects.

        Publishers can't have it both ways. If they want to go digital, but lock their content up with DRM to create artificial scarcity, then they need to accept everything that goes along with it.

        I think it would be a much better idea if the content providers focused on selling real scarcities instead of trying to artificially create them.

         

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          bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Freely giving books to other to read. Hmm...

          Publishers can't have it both ways.


          Nor can consumers. They can't absorb all of the advantages of digital proliferation and expect that the publishers will just sail on unaffected by the change. With unimpeded sharing, the logical end is that the publishers sell one copy that is promptly shared with everyone else in the world. It's not fair or practical.



          The meme about "artificial scarcity" is generally bogus. The time that goes into the creation of a work is not an artificial scarcity. The hard work by the editors is not imaginary. If it's not paid for, we'll lose a very powerful mechanism for funding independent research and creation.



          Stop thinking it's about creating an artificial scarcity-- that's just what the astroturfers from Google want you to believe so they can sail on without sharing their ad revenue with the folks that make it all possible.


          What DRM makes possible is sharing the costs relatively fairly and relatively equally among all who consume the content. When the publishers do this, they allow everyone to consume content that cost a fortune to make for a small amount of money. It's a truly powerful mechanism that helps everyone.

           

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            Any Mouse (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 2:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Freely giving books to other to read. Hmm...

            I see what you did there.

            No one is saying that the time and creativity going into a work is 'artificially scarce.' That is real scarcity. However, slapping DRM on a digital file to try and make it act like a physical object IS artificial scarcity. That file can be copied over and over again with little or no change at all the the bits that make it up, at a marginal cost approaching zero, if not actually zero. Guess what? That's an infinite good!

            You say DRM helps everyone. I call bullshit on that.

             

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    bigpallooka (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 8:19pm

    As usual...

    ... the technology is way ahead of both the business models and the legislation. I live in Australia and cannot buy many ebooks from my favourite authors because no one will sell them to me. I understand that publishing rights are localised. I understand it is out of the authors hands. What I don't understand is why it is so much easier for me to break the law than follow it. The same books the publishers and their agents (Amazon et al.) refuse to sell to me because of my location are available for instant download through peer sharing.

    I will happily pay full price for an ebook if:
    a) It is available in non-proprietary format (i.e. Not mobi or the non-ebook standard pdf)like epub.
    b) The ebook is transferable like a hardcover/paperback so that I am not a criminal when I treat an ebook like any other book.
    c) Publishers get off their backsides and work out a deal that compensates local publishers when ebooks are downloaded from non-local websites.

    I know, I know. I live in la la land.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:07am

      Re: As usual...

      maybe not. as a 'creator' (is that a bad word now?) this is how i plan to distribute my stuff.

      then again, i am no (insert your favorate NYT bestselling author here) so it isn't like i plan to do this for a living.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:59am

      Re: As usual...

      >> What I don't understand is why it is so much easier for me to break the law than follow it.

      I wanted to quote this to underscore it. People will always take the easy route. Laws will play little to no part in that decision.

       

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        Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: As usual...

        People will always take the easy route. Laws will play little to no part in that decision.
        And here you have double jeopardy because not only is the "illegal" route easier but for an individual it's counter-intuitive to stop doing what they've always done with books.
        No matter how much 1 individual shares or "loans", their actions are unlikey to cause anything even noticeable it's the cumulative that has an effect and what do the other 500,000,000 people doing the same thing have to do with them?

         

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      bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:53am

      Re: As usual...

      What I don't understand is why it is so much easier for me to break the law than follow it.
      Welcome to the real world. It's much easier to just walk out of a store than to wait in line at the cashier. It's much easier to smash a store window than come back the next day when the store is open. It's much easier to rape a girl than to take her to dinner and buy her drinks. This is true about every other part of the world. Why are you so surprised that it's true on line?

      Remember that your list of rules raises the prices of books and makes them more unaffordable. If we create a viable used book market for digital copies, it's entirely possible that 10-20 books will be enough for the entire population. That means the price needs to be astronomical or the book won't get written.

      We can't treat digital books like physical ones because that prevents publishers from spreading the development costs out evenly. DRM helps the poor by keeping prices low.

      In an ideal world, I would like to have my cake and eat it too. But the digital world is too ideal. I would rather treat my creators well and help them get rich than have a world where all we have are YouTube videos of cats riding on Roombas.

       

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        Any Mouse (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 2:10am

        Re: Re: As usual...

        And again with that argument. He is complaining about a lack of legal alternative, and you come up with that sort of comparison? Sure, if there was no legal way to stand in line, then he would just walk out.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 9:00pm

    it'll make for quite the interesting lawsuit

    Not really, this one is pretty much a slam dunk. They are helping redistribution and charging for it. Not really hard.

    Want to bet one of the wingnuts from the EFF is running it behind the scenes?

     

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      Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

      Re:

      ... On a good of infinite supply. Thank you so much for the very astute observation and the very useless attack on EFF, who does a LOT to assist people in copyright issues that make no sense.

       

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        bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:42am

        The EFF are astroturfers for Google

        They aren't interested in finding the best solution for society, they just want to prop up their big contributor.

         

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          coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

          Re: The EFF are astroturfers for Google NOT

          I'm in the construction business and I have no dog in this fight. How about you? Are you a publisher?

           

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            bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

            Re: Re: The EFF are astroturfers for Google NOT

            Nope. But remember you do have a dog in the fight if you read books, watch movies or listen to music. The only reason that someone can create a cool movie like "Avatar" or "Inception" is because the studios-- those evil money grubbers-- could make back the money they paid to the actors, writers, key grips and computer graphics guys etc. If the so-called alternative "tip jar" world comes to pass, we'll have only one choice. While I've liked many things that I've seen on PBS and YouTube, I really like a big blockbuster. When someone crowdfunds one of those, I'll get on board.

            But for now, remember we're all in this together. We've all got dogs in the fight. If you're a consumer, it matters whether you pay or not pay because it determines what will be created. I like blockbusters and so I'm getting out the word to preserve that funding model.

             

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              Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 3:34am

              Re: Re: Re: The EFF are an organisation with an agenda like every other.

              The only reason that someone can create a cool movie like "Avatar" or "Inception" is because the studios
              That's your argument? That we should support studios because blockbuster movies are cool? That's like me claiming my company should pay me enough to buy a ferrari because it's cooler than my current car. It doesn't work that way, you get what other people are willing to pay you for the job.

              Let's look at that for a moment. Avatar budget $300+ million. Reservior Dogs budget $1.2 million. Personally I think many high budget blockbusters are faintly entertaining trash, often it seems because of the high budge. I might enjoy a blockbuster but I'd rather watch another Reservoir Dogs but that's just me. Are you going to try and tell me that Avatar is the better film of the two because it costs more?

              You get to make the movies that are economically viable as you have pointed out. I think that $300 million might well be a big ask in the type of world I envisage, though I suspect it could be possible for certain things, but let's say you're right.

              How is that bad? You still get to make the movies that are viable. Production costs for "normal" films are likely to drop as technology improves, distribution costs vanish and there are many ways you can monetise around the core content that make it still an attractive prospect for an investor whether the film itself makes a profit, and if it really becomes that cheap to make an enthusiast. If you don't think you can fund and make a profit on a film that costs a million to make, well that seems to me a serious lack of imagination.

              So "oh dear we can't change the model because then we couldn't make another Avatar"? That's a bit like a film maker in the late 80's complaining they can't make Avatar because only a Cray supercomputer is capable of it and no-one is willing to budget for one. Or a current film maker complaining they can't make a film on location on the moon because NASA want too much to get the kit up there.

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 9:40pm

      Re:

      Lending ebook to person = legal.
      Helping someone lend ebook to person = illegal.

      The screwed up world that TAM lives in.

       

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        AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:19am

        Re: Re:

        Nice to know that you think all libraries should be illegal now since assisting in lending books is illegal. I'll have to update all the local librarians that their core job function is now defined as an advocate of illegal activity.

        Maybe you make a habit of going to the library and telling htem that already?

         

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      coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:08am

      Re:

      Your efforts to retain the status quo and retard human progress by angrily trolling the comments of TD is so noble, it is easy to find your criticism of the EFF valid...

       

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      The eejit (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:00am

      Re:

      No it's not. The books have been legitimately purchased. Lending a book has never been a criminal OR CIVIL offence, otherwise libraries couldn't exist legally.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:33am

        Re: Re:

        The intent of "lending a book" (outside of a library) is to lend it to people you know. A service that ups the scale on this sort of lending crosses well past any intention of fair use. Further, with E-books, it is very, very difficult to know if the original owner has actually given up control of the book for that period. One of the things of lending something is the risk implied on not getting it back, and in not having access to it for the lending period.

        It is important. If they are unable to ascertain if the "lender" has actually not retained a copy for their own use or has not entirely lost all control of the product, then they are not lending, they are replicating. That replication would be a pirated copy, and the service would be distributing pirated copied.

        If the service retains the copies and doesn't return them each time to the user (stores the data) they would be retaining pirated copies. It would also not be clear if they were actually completing a lending transaction if the file isn't returned to the original lender in the end.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          SLAM DUNK!!!

           

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          Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The intent of "lending a book" (outside of a library) is to lend it to people you know.
          Hmm and what about if you donate it to charity, who then resell it? Are they "helping redistribution and charging for it"?
          At what point does "lending" turn to piracy? "Lending" to a collegue you know in work? A guy in the corner shop? A guy you chat to on the internet and it turns out he likes conspiracy theory fiction too? How "strange" a stranger do you have to be before it becomes naughty?

          And even if it's copied (ie. "lent" but still retained), has the publisher lost anything? The "lost sale" argument is even weaker for books than other media - especialy in fiction - as most people only read a book once anyway so if you've borrowed someone elses it's probably a fair indicator you aren't going to buy it. On the other hand you might be encouraged to support the author by buying something else they wrote.

          Of course all that's entirely beside the point. As has been apparant every time it's been tried, changing the collectively accepted behaviour of a society (I.e. it's OK to loan a book) won't happen no matter how much a "slam dunk" a lawsuit might be. No matter how much people's actions collectively affect publishers and how many lawsuits make the news an individual won't see themselves as doing anything wrong because the counter argument makes no logical sense in terms of an individual's actions.

          The paradigm shift of global "free" communication is here for publishing and a King Canute act won't help for long. A better route for publishers than sue-sue-sue would be to work out a way to work with the new reality and be ahead of the curve so you can still make money.

          After all, (oh god he 2nd time in 2 days I really need to find another analogy)when cars were invented the manufacturers of horse products and breeders of horses didn't vanish, their industries just down-sized and became more specialist (and if they were smart more "premium"), and Taxi drivers ported over to the new system just fine :-)

           

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          ChrisB (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          > The intent of "lending a book" (outside of a library) is
          > to lend it to people you know. A service that ups the
          > scale on this sort of lending crosses well past any
          > intention of fair use.

          Wrong. Loaning a book has nothing to do with fair use, it has to do with first sale. I bought the book, I can do what I want with it, including lending it to other people.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It comes down to the same thing: The only way you can use your "first sale" rights is to (a) prove that you purchased and did not rent it long term (debatable) and (b) to prove that once you transferred those rights to someone else, you have released yourself from all rights and claims, including keeping a copy.

            There is no certain way (at this point) in the digital world to assure that you have gotten rid of all copies. Therefore, lending is a very difficult thing.

            It is more like the question of a library buying a single copy of a book, and then photocopying it for each new person who wants to borrow it. Those copies would not be legal. Since you cannot come up with any simple way to assure that you have not retained a copy of the book for yourself, there is no simple way to lend it within the law.

             

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          AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Is it important to ascertain the owner of already purchased materials? Do I come over to your house to check reciepts of all purchased materials to ensure you are not stealing? When was the last time someone asked for an inventory of all the books at your local library?

          If there is no inventory taken, someone might be photocopying hard copied books and placing them into the shelves- oh no very scary situation....(as you can see- much like this your arguement about digital goods is just as silly).

          There is no requirement for an ower to retain 100% control of materials that are already purchased. If the owner chooses to freely let their possessions be unmanaged or lended to others known or unknown- that is at the discretion of the owner and not at the discresion of the original seller. Sorry the current owner has rights to the goods and not the publisher.

          The publisher only has the right to demand that the owner does not make copies of their product and benefit from theose copies financially. If they believe that copies are being made- by all means request the practice to stop or seek action to stop it. However, publishers do not have rights to monitor use or lending of their products. An owner can do whatever they please with an already purchased good. Sorry but what you suggest is the opportunity for a Hollywood police state and far exceeds the intentions of any current laws.

           

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          RomeoSidVicious (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You seem to be completely unaware of how the lending on the Kindle works. The service never even sees a copy of the e-book to begin with. They match up people and those people share between themselves. During the time the book is shared it is unavailable on the original owner's Kindle. Once the time limited lending period is over it is removed from the device the original purchaser regains control. All the service does is match up people who want to read stuff other people already have and doesn't participate in transferring the actual media at all. Most of the comments below also ignore the way the lending actually works and what the service actually does. For once the pro-copyright folks really should RTFA because there is nothing akin to piracy happening here at all. Just a matchmaking service for a completely legal feature of the Amazon Kindle.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Except as a middleman service, they are charging for the "connection", which is essentially a fee for share system.

            Since the books do not have DRM on them (because DRM is so bad) there is no way to assure that books are no being copied. Clearly there is distribution, and there is nothing stopping the original buyer from keeping a copy and keeping it active.

            Remember too: Kindle is not the only game in town. Ebook can be read on your Ipad or other similar tablet devices, laptops, desktops, and even many smart phones. To assume that Kindle is the start and the end of the marketplace is to ignore reality.

             

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    Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:12am

    Dammit man we need to fix this reality thing!

    The whole e-book sale thing makes no sense to me. For a start, people have always:
    Lent books to each other
    Given books away to others
    bought cheap books from jumble sales, charity shops or second hand
    borrowed books from a library.

    Expecting people to change these behaviours just because a new and ubiquitous technology makes the scale of what individuals do a problem for your business is folly. The more obstacles you put in the way the more you will only annoy people because you're blocking what they see as natural behaviour.

    Next, the e-book, like other digital formats has the potential to add value to the consumer in so many ways. So if you really think as a company that you need to limit the possibilities why on earth would you limit it to a/ Give it *less* functionality than a paper copy of a book and b/ Make it more expensive than a paper copy of the book?
    That strikes me as asking for 1 of 2 things to happen: a/ no-one buys e-books becuase they suck and so you've just wasted whatever investment you put into it. Or b/ People just look for an alternative that gives them the experience they expect and if that source isn't sanctioned... well guess what?
    I know which I think will happen.

    As an example of how daft the thinking around e-books are at the moment, our local library allows the lending of e-books. Now they are DRM'd so you can only "keep" them for 2 weeks which in the digital world is a bit daft in itself, but fair enough that's at the heart of the libraries' method of operation. The bit that made me laugh though is, they have a limited number of copies of the books - you have to wait for someone to "return" a book before you can borrow it. Uh... what?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:36am

      Re: Dammit man we need to fix this reality thing!

      When you lend a book, you give up all rigths and all access to it. You give up control. If someone doesn't give it back, it is gone forever. There is no simple way with an ebook to assure that you actually gave up all rights and all access to the product.

      When a library lends a book, they lose physical control of the book. They cannot re-lend it, they cannot have someone else read it, they cannot make a copy of it. The book is "out".

      Ebooks? Without DRM, you could lend a copy, while still retaining all the rights and controls over the original copy, and still enjoying the original copy without concern. That copy you made is considered a pirated copy as a result. Not first sale anything here no fair use, you are just illegally duplicating the work and giving it out.

      There is no simple way to assure that non-drm works are being lent rather than duplicated.

       

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        AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

        Re: Re: Dammit man we need to fix this reality thing!

        Why does that matter? Do we check to make sure the library is not photocopying print books? When was the last inventory requested on your local library? The police state monitoring and DRM seem a bit beyond what is sensible and adds additional cost and burden beyond reasonable control. It is not reasonable, practical, nor legal to expect the publisher to have any control over an individual good sold after it is in the hands of a new owner. If I sell you a shirt I have no right to come into your house to make sure that you don't have an knockoff just like the shirt I just sold you. There are limits to the controls we should expect.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Dammit man we need to fix this reality thing!

          If the library handed you a stack of photocopies pages instead of the actual book and said "you don't have to bring this back, you know", what would you think?

          What would you think if every book in your local library was a spiral bound photocopy of the original?

          Should book stores be allowed to sell spiral bound photocopies too?

           

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    Ben (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:14am

    Hard lending

    What if two kindle buddies meet in a public place and physically exchange kindles so they may read each other's books? Police should gun them down on the spot. Dirty pirates.

     

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    Welcome to the real matrix, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:42am

    This hackers library and sneakernet.

    know has over 100,000 novels
    5000 manuals(science howto's and programming/design books)
    1000 rpg ebooks
    50000 hacker files and cracker files ( tutorials galore that work etc)
    YOU DONT SEE ME DO YOU..........

    AND i'll add all on a single dvdr compressed.
    as well when i travel i take a flash stick or external hard drive and share freely.

    This is the new Canadian way.YOU can stuff caps up your butt for all we care.

    I will not even tell you the tb's of movies and tv.
    I long ago said to hell with all this DRM, lawsuits and other shit.

    The funny part i want you to all understand is this.
    When i polled on an ISP thread, with what you IP trolls would think i am the bad guy? I was dead last for 5 months as this ran and ran and ran. ended 4th form the bottom of 2000 ACTUAL honest people posted what they grab down.

    YOU speak here where there is some hope for copyright trolls? THERE IS NOT. THERE IS THE END OF COPYRIGHT AND THAT IS ALL.
    We already won, the lawsuits prove the industry will die its only dragging its feet buy bribing off a bunch a has been old men politicians. THE LONGER we LIVE THE SHORTER COPYRIGHTS LIFE WILL BECOME.
    150years in the usa is unsustainable.
    In fact 50 years is.
    History shall prove me right.

     

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    Welcome to the real matrix, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    OH and it would be hilarious to start finding a copy of that DVDR all over..... subways ,coffee shops( in summer on park benches and all over the place ) for people to keep and have now wouldn't it......

    to hell with your rules and your laws , to hell with all of it.damn lawyers....

     

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    Jardinero1, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:52am

    Does the first sale doctrine apply to e-books? That is the legal principle that applies to libraries and physical books.

     

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    bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:29am

    The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

    If we don't find a fair way to spread the cost of developing the content, it won't be created. It's that simple. This system undermines it and forces up the price of books. Imagine that m people want to read a book and it costs $n to create. If we use onerous DRM and force all m people to pay their fair share, the price is only $n/m.

    But imagine we have a super-friendly book loaning service so each digital copy is read by k people. Suddenly the price is $nk/m or k times as much. That's right. Just restricting each person to share with only one other person DOUBLES the effective breakeven price of the book. If you have a super-friendly DRM-free service that lets k=10, that forces the price paid by the sucker who buys the book to be TEN TIMES higher.

    So you can pretend that book lending is good for the consumer, but it really sucks to be the sucker who actually buys the book and plops down k times as much money so k-1 friends can read it for free.

    What will undoubtably happen is that many of the books just won't get written or published. People already balk at paying $100+ for a textbook and try to recoup the cost by reselling it 10 times. That forces the first person to plump down $100, the second one $90, etc. Each person is losing access to capital just so we can live without DRM.

    Now imagine a DRM system that prevents all ten from sharing the book. Oooh. It's mean and ornery. Yes, but it effectively allows each person to pay only $10 to read the book. They don't lock up capital. They don't pay a middleman to resell the book. It's all much more efficient and fair. Is it super-friendly? No. But sometimes good fences make good neighbors.

     

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      Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:57am

      Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

      If we don't find a fair way to spread the cost of developing the content, it won't be created.
      Doom! Doom, I say! The Skies Shall Fall and the Earth shall Split Asunder, frogs shall rain from the heavens and small children will develop pimples on the nose!

      Melodramatic much?

      So what exactly are the "development costs" for a purely electronic book? Time to actually produce the content would seem to be the main one. Production costs? A computer you almost certainly have anyway, some software, perhaps. Distribution? A hired service or your own web server and a paypal or credit card fulfillment subscription. Meh. Marketing? Again hired service, or increasingly putting some time and effort into connecting with people who might be interested online.

      Will you make a fortune out of that? *shrug* possibly not, but reason suggests a living wage ought to be possible with a decent amount of effort if you're worth reading - probably worth a try if most of what it costs you are time and effort for something you want to do anyway (I haven't heard of many authors who write books just because it's a job). Might discourage some hoping to make their fortune, but on the other end some writers, like musicians, would still write if you put a gun to their head and told them not to.

      Well either way it's going to happen sooner or later so we might be able to tell which of us was right just by waiting.

       

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        bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

        Melodramatic much?

        Asinine much? The costs of writing and editing books have always been a huge part of the price and they'll get larger as electronic distribution reduces some of the costs. But don't fool yourself. It costs only a few dollars to put a print copy in a bookstore. While it may only cost less than a cent to actually deliver the digital copy, it costs millions for the programmers to build the network and maintain the server farm. It's surprising how expensive it can be.

        But at most we're only talking about saving a few dollars by going to digital distribution. The market has already compensated by charging $10 for a book instead of $15-$20.

        There's also a real danger in waiting. Sure there are blowhards that won't stop talking even if you put a gun to your head, but I'm not worried about them. One publisher once told me that she only wanted authors who didn't have enough time to write a book. That is doctors, lawyers, engineers and others with valuable information locked in their heads. They don't need more prestige because they already have too much work. But money can be an incentive to get them to write down some of what they know. If society destroys this ecosystem, these writers will stop writing. Information transfer stops.

        So go ahead. Dismiss me as melodramatic. But you'll be the one stuck watching dumb cat videos on YouTube because all of the professional movie makers have gone out of business.

         

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          The eejit (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:26am

          Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

          Then what about cultural transfer? By your logic, that will stop too, and all societies will homogenise into a placid mass. You could innovate within the process.

          But no, The Sky Is Falling on Society! Bring out your Dead (trees)!

           

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            bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

            I'm not sure what you mean by "cultural transfer", but I see a big difference between the free cat videos on YouTube and the professionally done culture on HBO. One is supported by people who willingly pay as subscribers and the others is run by amateurs.

            There's no doubt that there are very skilled amateurs. There's no doubt that YouTube opens up doors to people who were ignored by Hollywood before. But by and large, I'm happier with professionally made culture sold at a premium and I bet that if you look at the choices you've made over the last few weekends, you're in agreement.

            But prove me wrong. Call up a girl and ask her to come over to your place and watch YouTube. Then call up a different girl and tell her you've got good seats to a Tony-award winning production on Broadway. Which is going to have better luck? I rest my case.

             

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          coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:31am

          Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

          If society destroys this ecosystem, these writers will stop writing. Information transfer stops.

          The internet has allowed for more efficient communication and transfer of information, but now you are claiming that it will ultimately result in information being even more scarce? Seriously?

          It's an interesting theory, but the data I see supports the opposite. Services like Quora are allowing people with domain specific knowledge in the startup/ tech world to share it with the world. StackExchange/ StackOverflow are doing the same across programming/ many other verticals.

          I know of of several successful people over 60 that plan on publishing books with their domain specific knowledge in other areas before they die as way of leaving their legacy to live on forever.

          I find your theory highly questionable and rather illogical. Making knowledge more scarce will not insure it is published.

           

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            bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

            Well, you can't know what you don't know. But I'm less and less excited by the freely available information on the Internet because it looks more and more like noise. The good newspapers are going out of business and being replaced by the content farms filled with quick notes tossed off in seconds by people with no expertise and no time to do any research. YouTube is filled with cat videos. So yeah, there's a proliferation of information but I see less and less useful information.

            So go on believing the old "artificial scarcity" meme circulated by the astroturfers for Google. There's more to economics than simple supply and demand. Heck, there's no artificial scarcity of water. It falls from the sky in many parts of the world. It pours from the tap at low prices. But still there's a market for bottled water because people want something that's less polluted and better for them.

            Sharing digital manuscripts can destroy publication and leave us stuck with free. If the legal system allows widespread "sharing" of digital manuscripts, then publishers will have to price accordingly. More and more manuscripts will become unsellable and we'll be stuck with the free stuff on the Internet. Occasionally some rich guy will summarize his life work out of the goodness of his heart, but everyone else will be priced out of the writing game. You're essentially saying that only rich, retired folks can afford to be writers.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

              Bob, congrats, you hit the main issue right on the head, the economic one. It is the point most often ignored by the people who think that everything that is "free" is in fact free.

              Our entertainment (movies, music, books, TV) and non-fiction information sources (non fiction books, manuals, etc) are created in a manner that they are accessible to almost anyone, for a reasonable low price. That price may be your attention (TV commercials) or that price may be the cover price of a book or the cost of a movie ticket. The mass distribution of cost for these sorts of things has allowed us to be able to produce incredibly expensive (but entertaining) movies like Avatar, or to have an author spend a year of their life writing an incredible murder mystery book. None of us can afford to buy any of this outright, the distribution of costs over a wide body of users is what makes it possible.

              It's why piracy, which most here says "doesn't cost anything" has significant costs to the system, because it removes potential buyers from the system and lowers the potential revenues as a result. That leads to the potential of increased unit costs, which is turn lead to move people turning into pirates. At the end, we have few people buying the products at very high prices, and a significant number of people sponging off of them.

              It is extremely hard to quantify in actual dollars lost, which many here will say proves that nothing is lost. But they are in denial to support their desired end result, because for the moment, they are enjoying all this free stuff. It's hard to convince someone of future problems when they are standing in front of the proverbial open buffet.

              Your logic is correct and right, don't let anyone sway you from it. There is no alternative presented here to replace the current methods. All they are doing is justifying their own desires for lots of stuff for free.

               

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                bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                Thanks Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Let's keep up the good fight. Maybe we can inject a bit of reality into this dreamy echo chamber.

                 

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                  coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:18am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                  It's like talking to a brick wall with you people. I don't know how the TD community can do it so frequently. Technology doesn't wait for anyone, and there is no such thing as DRM I can't break. It does NOT exist, nor will it EVER exist. Why is this so difficult to understand?

                  You are not "fighting the good fight," you are holding back progress and all humanity in your quest to hold onto previously established revenue mechanisms from a bygone era. There will be other revenue streams that become more transparent as we move forward. Just because they don't make sense to you, doesn't mean they are not viable.

                  You all make wild assumptions about who we are and why we hold these beliefs that are different from yours. Lots of very smart and professional people will contribute their knowledge for more than just money. I would argue ego is the big driver here.

                  Go look at Wall Street to see how they are valuing these various related companies for an idea of reality.

                  0s and 1s are infinite. Period.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                    Here is my standard answer: Almost every American owns something that can kill, that can move drugs, that can drive over the speed limit and can be used to smuggle illegal aliens: It's call a car.

                    The technology exists for all of this to happen. You can use your car to mow down pedestrians at will. You can drive 100mph in a school zone. You can fill the trunk up with drugs, and you can smuggle illegal aliens over the border in it, it is all technically possible.

                    But technical possiblity doesn't negate societal norms. That you car can drive 100mph doesn't grant you the right to do it. Just because it is effecient at hitting people doesn't allow you to kill randomly. You also cannot transport drugs. Those technical possiblities are all negated by the basic facts of law: they are all illegal.

                    The big issue that you (and many others here) are facing is that you don't understand the basics of the law. You don't get to pick and choose. The laws apply to everyone equally (except perhaps black people, as they alone can be arrest for DWB (driving while black)). Otherwise, we all work from the same set of rules. You might not consider piracy as bad as, say, breaking and entering, but the principals are the same: you end up with something you don't have the rights to.

                    Once you understand that technical ability isn't relevant to right or wrong, you might wake up from the TD induced coma you are in and start to understand where things really stand.

                    You can do it. It doesn't make it right.

                     

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                      bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      Yes, thank you. So what if you can break all of the DRM? All locks can be broken. If you want to be cynical, you can say they just exist to help honest people stay honest. But that doesn't make it right.

                      Remember-- we're not saying that you can't have your little digital commune. We're just asking you to respect our property rights and that's something that Google and many others online try to find every excuse to avoid doing. They clutch at notions of fair use.

                       

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                      coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:40pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      I'm not in any coma (esp. not the entrenched industry kind), and I didn't know we were changing the discussion from "reality" that you brought up earlier to morality.

                      So, just to close out the discussion of reality, I hope you will see that the reality is the majority of the 6 BILLION people on the planet aren't concerned about protecting the business of content production. I don't know anyone that talks about this crap, and I live in an affluent and well-educated area.

                      Moving on to morality, I don't think the content industry as a whole is very moral. Hollywood Accounting did not become a term for no reason. Big business isn't interested in morality at all; I know this first-hand: Profits are all that matter. Now you understand why you make me suspicious when you are overly concerned with profits.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                        I read a whole bunch of self justification for breaking the law.

                        Does "hollywood accounting" change the value of a movie for you? Does the label an artist is on suddenly make their music unenjoyable? Would the fact that a writers hardcover book is slightly more expensive than the softcover book make you think of them as a crook?

                        See, you posted a list of the reasons to pirate: mob mentality, and blaming the provider for some form or wrong that really doesn't matter to you. In the end, all you are doing it trying to say you will pirate and take for free because you feel like it.

                        Trying to justify your breaking of the law is classic denial at it's finest.

                         

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                          coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:50pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                          Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

                          Morality was brought up (not by me), and while I'm not here to discuss morals, I thought it would be interesting to point out the hypocrisy of using morality as an attempt to guilt me about my opinion on the reality of the situation.

                          You don't know me. You don't know my media consumption habits. I simply don't consume much, and I listen to NPR and another community radio station (which I've been supporting for over a decade). Simply put, I have nothing to justify.

                           

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                      Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:21pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      But technical possiblity doesn't negate societal norms. That you car can drive 100mph doesn't grant you the right to do it. Just because it is effecient at hitting people doesn't allow you to kill randomly. You also cannot transport drugs. Those technical possiblities are all negated by the basic facts of law: they are all illegal.
                      Oh my .....! You really ARE delusional.... not just stubborn or short sighted but actually lost it. People don't drive at 100mph because it's against the LAW???? Since 1997 when speed cameras were introduced there have been over 15 million speeding tickets handed out in england - 1.5 million in 2007 alone. Assuming generously 1% of all these vile fiends are actually seen and ticketed thats 1.5 BILLION lawbreakers in 13 years. So clearly that law working well as a deterrent.

                      And how would you say the "war on drugs" is going? Would you say there were likely to be more drug dealers or less if drugs were legal and you could by them in any corner shop. I notice that the amount of vicious crime surrounding tobacco sales is on the increase.. oh but wait, no it isn't. And the number of black market alchohol sales and gangsters involved in trading it has risen since the end of prohibition.. except nope, gone the other way.

                      So to take YOUR examples and extrapolate, if you stopped treating music (/book/film) lovers as criminals and actually looked at prices and features the market wanted...... not sustainable over the long term of course, but over the short-medium term those simple measures would help the bottom line a bit.

                       

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                      Any Mouse (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 2:26am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      Well, let me see... There are about 189 million legally owned vehicles in the US... There are over 300 million people... I would say that less than half of Americans actually own a car. There's your first mistake.

                      Your second is to continue to try and equate physical with nonphysical goods.

                       

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                    bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                    There will be other revenue streams that become more transparent as we move forward. Just because they don't make sense to you, doesn't mean they are not viable.
                    While I realize that selling t-shirts can work out occasionally, it's not very green. For the most part, these alternatives aren't very remunerative. Most of the examples that this blog cites involve three or four figure sums. The old model could make artists rich for life-- and I don't see anything wrong with making artists rich.
                    And please don't assume that neat websites like Quora are going to replace real books with hundreds of pages. Yeah, some smart dude might leave a three sentence answer on Quora because it's hip and it strokes their ego, but that's not the same as creating a book with hundreds of pages or even an article with hundreds of words.
                    Sure Twitter can provide interesting information that's invaluable, but I dare you to try to understand what's happening in Egypt by reading the Twitter feed. Now go read a professionally prepared news story by a journalist. Is the journalism flawed and limited? You betcha but it's much easier to understand than a Twitter feed. The same is true about learning from Quora. Let's say you want to understand the industrial revolution. Go ahead. Post that question on Quora. Maybe someone will have a big enough ego to write you a long story with primary sources but you'll be lucky to get someone who can point you toward Wikipedia, a perfectly nice organization that bans original research.
                    Get a clue. People need money because the landlord, the grocer, the car dealer etc won't take a chunk of ego.

                     

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                      coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      I said nothing of T-shirts. I am not associated with this blog in anyway. I was talking about theater revenue, which is where the studios made their money before the Boston Strangler, er, VCR made its way into the marketplace.

                      Yeah, some smart dude might leave a three sentence answer on Quora because it's hip and it strokes their ego, but that's not the same as creating a book with hundreds of pages or even an article with hundreds of words.

                      If you haven't been to Quora, that's fine, but don't make ignorant statements about it. This is only the beginning, and by ignoring the evolving nature of content production you risk becoming irrelevant.

                      People need money because the landlord, the grocer, the car dealer etc won't take a chunk of ego.

                      You sound like a broken record answering the same straw man everyday that people need to make money. NOBODY IS SAYING PEOPLE SHOULDN"T MAKE MONEY.

                       

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                        bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                         

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                        bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                        Sure I've been to Quora and I've answered questions on Quora and had a good time there, but it doesn't mean that I'm drinking the Koolaid. It's cool now because it's small and it's just the beginning. As soon as it gains any momentum, it will be filled with spambots flogging their wares. The sophisticates who are answering questions now, on the other hand, will move on because they'll get so many questions they won't have time to answer them all. If only they could write a book and sell it-- oh wait that's not cool.



                        And yes, I realize that you're not against people making money, but you've got to realize that you're putting so many restrictions on the act that it will be impossible to make much at all. If there's widespread sharing of content, then there's no incentive to create. Oh, maybe you'll get some ego maniacs, but I don't see that as a big advantage.

                         

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                          coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                          Wanting to leave behind a lasting legacy that some might find helpful does not make one an egomaniac. Ego and money aren't the only reasons people create content. It's usually a bit of both, plus a few other things. When businesses focus too much on revenue instead of making their customers happy, they loose money and fail. Look at Yahoo vs. Google as an example.

                           

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          Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:35am

          Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

          it costs millions for the programmers to build the network and maintain the server farm. It's surprising how expensive it can be.
          It's really not that suprising at all, but you seem to assume that in order to "sell" a book you need all that infrastucture. How much does soemone who sells something on E-Bay pay for infrastructure? Or are you sticking to the traditional centralised, do everything publisher model? You can build a pretty damn big data centre for "millions". I could come up with an infrastructure that would support the storage and retrieval of every book ever written for 1/2 a million or less and that seems a bit overkill for a single author don't you think?
          Besides, the whole point of embracing the internet as a method of distribution is that you get to leverage other people's hardware. If I bittorrent your book for example the hardware and networking costs are mine not yours.
          . If society destroys this ecosystem, these writers will stop writing. Information transfer stops.
          Why is it that every passionate supporter of a method of working assumes that theirs is the only possible way things can be done? Books are only a part of how information is transferred and an old fashioned concept in some respects at that - there are other and perhaps more efficient communication and storage methods and these will only increase and if you think that the human race won't adapt round the "hole" then you just don't have enough faith in people. I have practically none and even I have enough for that. Besides, sure money is an incentive, sure some people are already "prestigeous" enough, but it's a rare author that I've encountered or heard of that is purely in it for the profit no matter how busy they might be. They are mostly passionate about their subject matter and want to talk about it. Technology allows that to easily become a marketable quality. As far as I can see under the current system, making money out of a book as a publisher is chancy enough as it is never mind the author who gets significantly less so exactly how much does that "ecosystem" encourage authors.
          But you'll be the one stuck watching dumb cat videos on YouTube because all of the professional movie makers have gone out of business.
          That's a bit of a non-sequitur. We were talking about books not film. But since you mention it, yes films are trickier because there are genuinely production costs that can't be completely removed (making them totally different to the case of books). On the other hand they can be reduced as time goes on. Again, you can't think of any alternative way that films could be financed, made or distributed leveraging the global reach of the internet and the cost reductions it offers? I can think of a few ideas that might be worth trying and I'm not an expert in the industry - I'd hope there are much more skilled people than me who could come up with more. Granted huge budget "blockbusters" might be tricky and rare, but I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. And on the wild offchance that you might be right, maybe I'll just go watch a play instead. You know? With real live people?

          Bottom line, no single creator is indespensible and there will always be other people and methods to take the place of failed ones. It's called evolution.

           

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            bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 9:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

            Why is it that every passionate supporter of a method of working assumes that theirs is the only possible way things can be done?


            That's not the issue. Rampant piracy destroys professional content. But rampant professionalism does not destroy the wikipedia and other more socialized content creation mechanisms. So it's not an either-or dilemma. If we choose one path with rampant "sharing", we lose professional creators and keep the amateurs/unpaid. If we allow the professionals to try to design working business models including the ones that ask everyone to pay their fair share, well we get BOTH.


            And I might point out that the prevailing wisdom on this blog is that the wikipedia is soooo wonderful and these alternative content creation mechanisms are so superior. You're essentially arguing that your way is the only way. I'm just asking to give DRM a chance.


            Television is an analog. You seem to be saying, "Don't worry, PBS will be enough." I'm pointing out that cable tv and locked-down Pay-Per-View is beating the pants off the kumbaya-singers over at PBS. Just look at the ratings.


            Allowing people to share their cable subscription would destroy the cable business by preventing them from spreading the costs fairly over all consumers.

             

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              AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 10:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

              1) How does someone get "deemed" a professional? It seems to me that the only way in your thinking that someone "becomes" professional is to be approved by some Hollywood body or approved publisher. What exactly is "professional"?

              -My guess is that this term derives from an archaic mindset and is considerably proven false since there are many professionals that produce open source code and written work that makes "professionally" produced content look silly and unprofessional in judgement comparison to the final product produced.

              2) Television never makes a good analog and joking aside should always be viewed in high definition. PBS is more like a donantion and government sponsored group. PBS is more similar to the American Red Cross than to Sundance, Online video and true independant creators. That is a horrible example. Also PBS's mission is not to get ratings. You are comparing an educational service (their mission) to entertainment. I'm sure that Seasame Street appeals to the same crowd that watches Despirate Housewives and 24. It is a dumb comparison which makes me doubt the sincerity of the post itself.

              3) Cable should be distroyed and re-invented from the current system. It is irreparably broken. They are a government backed monopoly that needs to change into a capitalistic marketplace to offer a fair service and continue to be granted only some limited monopolies to extend services to poor and rural areas. Right now there is no incentive to expand services so they will sit and not improve their networks. Only a monoply can reduce service, add additional costs, treat their consumers poorly, and expect swelling profits year after year. Something is wrong with the system in place.

               

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                bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                1) No I don't mean that you need to be validated by Hollywood to be considered a professional. I just mean that you get paid for your work. In the context of this discussion, I'm focusing on professionals who would lose their income if free "sharing" undermined the marketplace and made it easier for everyone to wait until one sucker paid for the content and "shared" it.

                And while you're right about open source, you need to be careful about understanding what allows people to be paid to write open source code. In many cases it's because some hardware manufacturer is paying it to sell more hardware. Much of the money that flows into the open source professional coders comes from hardware companies. Another big chunk comes from companies that use the "community version" as crippleware to advertise a full-featured version. It's driven by scarcity in one way or another.

                2) The PBS model is the dream of the TD crowd. They crow about "tip jars" and voluntary payment. Well we've been trying this experiment for years and we can see how it works out.

                3) You're right that cable is a monopoly but people have a free option. I'm more interested in the competition between cable and free because, well, there's usually no competition between cable companies. This marketplace teaches us that people will pay for premium content and this premium content is usually the stuff that wins awards. HBO is sweeping them up.

                The prevailing wisdom on this blog is that DRM-like systems must be destroyed because they're anti-consumer, but my point is that the consumer has repeatedly chosen DRM-like systems in the television world and these systems have produced an incredibly rich panalopy of content with channels for every taste. The "tip jar" model of PBS yields only earnest stuff that requires government subsidy.

                 

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                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                  The tip jar model is always the most amusing. The point to the successes of people who have done well with it in short applications.

                  What they don't get is the old "donor fatigue" and apathy that settles in over time, combined with the slippery slope effect of more and more people not tipping anything. Tipping is a social thing, based on social norms. Once those norms are broken, there is little left to encourage people to tip at all. We are social creatures, after all, and we tend to work within acceptable norms of that society.

                  In the short run, the "pay what you want" model type works, often very well. But as the word spreads that 50% of the people didn't pay anything (hello Radiohead), the other 50% will start to wonder if they are normal or if they have missed something. The next test, you might see 60% not paying, then 70% and then payment becomes very rare indeed. PBS is the great example, they really have to beg for every cent, and it is still only a pittance compared to what something like HBO gets.

                   

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                  •  
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                    AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

                    The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                    So is Red Hat or Google a tip jar model? They give their product away for free and then sell the service around it. There are alternate models than pan-handling in your over-simplification. These companies have contributed greatly toward the progress of knowledge and technology. They became increadibly wealthy through their pan-handling ways....

                    Also the original vision of TV was not cable with advertising. Cable was supposed to feature TV without advertsing, but greed took over and now we still only have 4 airwave free channels and are otherwise expected to be excluded from our own cultural knowledge if we do not fork over the high cable fees.

                    Free TV is a wasteland due to greed. There are no free options for things like- 1) Music channels, 2)Weather Channels, 24 Hour News Channels, etc... after 60 years of development shouldn't we have at least a few additional free advertising supported channels by now? I guess that the current cable model is doing a great job toward innovation and providing new resources to the young, poor, and the general cultural progress. This is a fantastic example of how the old business models hinder true progress. PBS started contributing in the 1970s. Where is the progress? I'd say progress is hindered behind greed and a paywall. If it wasn't for the internet, we would be completely stagnant for the past 60 years on aired communications. Something is certainly not working correctly in the industry....

                     

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                      bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

                      Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                      Google doesn't have a tip jar. They sell ads.

                      Technically Red Hat only sells a product. The free stuff is called "Fedora".

                      And let me ask you a question? If free tv is a wasteland, how do you think the Internet will end up? Oh, there are some bright spots, but I think that most of it will follow the same path to the dumps. Google is already being corroded by the content farms with crap. It's the same ad-supported business model. Why should it be different this time?

                       

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              identicon
              Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

              Well since no DRM has ever worked then if your elitist doom-saying view of the future is correct I guess we'll be giving the cockroaches a chance soon.

              Good luck guys. My advice; avoid inventing IP law. Hell avoid lawyers altogether you'll do fine.

               

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                bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                Well since no DRM has ever worked


                Horsemanure. Apple iTunes has a number of DRM-like features for blocking people from sharing music. Yet they've also included a backdoor that lets people burn CDs. It's enough of an impediment that it keeps the pirates from destroying the marketplace. Apple sells plenty of music and it's been a big success.

                So face it: DRM works but not in the way that you think. It doesn't matter if the DRM leaks a copy as long as it's enough of a pain that piracy doesn't become simple and acceptable. Locks keep honest people honest. I wish the world wasn't that way but it is.

                 

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                  AnonX, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                  Apple removed their DRM because it wasn't working. Amazon was starting to beat them due to inability to play music purchased on alternate devices. The feature/ability to play on non-Apple devices was a feature enticing enough for Apple to remove the DRM. Also Apple did that to placate the entertainment industry. Now that Apple is almost bigger than the entertainment industry we will see how much new DRM develops. I haven't seen too much new recently after the removal of one DRM....

                   

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                    bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

                    Wrong. Apple only removed one layer of DRM and only for a few files. They still make it difficult to swap files. And they only removed it after they succeeded. So my point is still valid.

                     

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    •  
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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

      Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

      If we don't find a fair way to spread the cost of developing the content, it won't be created.

      Who's "we"? Because the market seems to be doing a damn good job of it on its own.

      This system undermines it and forces up the price of books. Imagine that m people want to read a book and it costs $n to create. If we use onerous DRM and force all m people to pay their fair share, the price is only $n/m.

      I would suggest, if you want to be seen as credible in this discussion that you do not confuse the economic forces on average cost with the economic forces of marginal cost.

      Otherwise you're arguing from a position of "in my dream world" rather than "in the real world."

      Fact is, economics DOES NOT CARE about average cost. It only cares about marginal cost. If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be in business.

      So you can pretend that book lending is good for the consumer, but it really sucks to be the sucker who actually buys the book and plops down k times as much money so k-1 friends can read it for free.

      Yeah, libraries really killed the book business, didn't they?

      Amazing.

      What will undoubtably happen is that many of the books just won't get written or published.

      Ha! And yet more books are being published today than ever before. I'm afraid the fallacies of your broken logic are showing.


      Now imagine a DRM system that prevents all ten from sharing the book. Oooh. It's mean and ornery. Yes, but it effectively allows each person to pay only $10 to read the book. They don't lock up capital. They don't pay a middleman to resell the book. It's all much more efficient and fair. Is it super-friendly? No. But sometimes good fences make good neighbors.


      Protectionism is never efficient and fair.

      If you can't build a business model that's not "super-friendly" and someone else can? Guess what, you fail because of your own mistakes, not because of piracy.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

        Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

        Yeah, libraries really killed the book business, didn't they?

        It's always the same lame argument, isn't it? Libraries do hurt the book sales, but they don't do it at a scale that hurts the industry. Even if a library book goes out 30 times in a year, it is still a small issue in the overall scheme of things. That is 30 sequential lends, over a year.

        However, the internet (and "sharing" sites) allow that one copy to be shared with, well, the whole world in pretty much the same day. The scale isn't the same at all. You know it, but you play dumb on this very significant point.

        It matches the old "taping killed the music business" argument. You know, crappy, low fidelity copies made in real time, that degrades significantly on every copy, and is meaningless on the second or third copy in. That you would even consider for a second that home taping in any way matches the effects of widespread piracy is beyond understanding.

        I understand. These are the usual foxholes that you hide in. They are amusing, but barely relevant.

        If you can't build a business model that's not "super-friendly" and someone else can? Guess what, you fail because of your own mistakes, not because of piracy.

        Giving it all away isn't a business model. Once you get off that basic error, you might be able to grow past your love affair with piracy.

         

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          coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 4:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

          Giving it all away isn't a business model. Once you get off that basic error, you might be able to grow past your love affair with piracy.

          I have never seen an example of a successful business given here that involves simply giving it away for free. I know you want that to be the claim, but that doesn't make it so. There are lots of moving parts, and people wearing several hats.

          Here's a story from NPR today where they are talking about an artist using a different approach than a label:
          http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/01/27/133274068/fractured-industry-companies-that-se rve-musicians-without-deals

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 5:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

            I didn't say "successful business", just business. I think it is a very unsuccessful business model, as is most of the whole "profit from piracy" mentality. There may be some short term gains in popularity or exposure, but the incredible cost of getting there (making your product have no market price and have little real value in people's minds) is way too much to pay for the honor.

            Piracy is doubly worse because as the artist, you don't get to choose how to market your own product, someone else does it for you. You may want to limit free release to a demo song or a medley of a few songs, and instead someone releases your whole album online for free, and the game is over. Fans can choose your marketing version, or just take the whole thing for free. You didn't make that choice, some "fan" did it for you.

            The whole "super friendly" thing actually made me thing of the mid-90s fad of "knock your socks off service". In the end, companies realizes that this "knock your socks off" deal was just a way to empower their staff to more easily credit customers who complain, and once the customers catch on, they just keep complaining for free stuff. Pavlovian response at it's best.

            Put more and more music out there for free, and everyone learns the reflex over time. The last sucker left paying on itunes will probably be Time's person of the year in less than a decade, the "last paying customer for music online".

             

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              Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2011 @ 5:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The real issue is searching for a fair way to spread development costs

              "However, the internet (and "sharing" sites) allow that one copy to be shared with, well, the whole world in pretty much the same day. The scale isn't the same at all. You know it, but you play dumb on this very significant point."

              Yep, and the world has yet to collapse. Imagine that...

              "It matches the old "taping killed the music business" argument. You know, crappy, low fidelity copies made in real time, that degrades significantly on every copy, and is meaningless on the second or third copy in. That you would even consider for a second that home taping in any way matches the effects of widespread piracy is beyond understanding. "

              Times have changed. MP3s are legal. Storing away in a cyber locker is also legal. Artists and authors are still making money. Bravo on the fail in logic.

              "There may be some short term gains in popularity or exposure, but the incredible cost of getting there (making your product have no market price and have little real value in people's minds) is way too much to pay for the honor."

              Yep, the incredible cost of being popular is the cost of a laptop, a webcam, a guitar, a few friends and the time it takes to upload to Ustream. Cool story, bro.

              "Fans can choose your marketing version, or just take the whole thing for free. You didn't make that choice, some "fan" did it for you"

              Britney Spears CD isn't worth buying because it's one good song and the rest were horrible.
              So being able to choose the songs I'll pay for is bad because...?

              "In the end, companies realizes that this "knock your socks off" deal was just a way to empower their staff to more easily credit customers who complain, and once the customers catch on, they just keep complaining for free stuff. Pavlovian response at it's best."

              [citation needed]

              "Put more and more music out there for free, and everyone learns the reflex over time. The last sucker left paying on itunes will probably be Time's person of the year in less than a decade, the "last paying customer for music online"."

              Yep, because everyone's going to be at his concert.

              Wow, only 8 fallacies so far. You're getting better there, Anonymous.

               

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    If Amazon is like any other corporation, their Kindle gadget is not owned by the purchaser but merely licensed. They can revoke the license and ask for return of the Kindle. Thus, you cannot trade your kindle because it's still Amazon's property.

     

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    •  
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      RikuoAmero (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Really? You do know what a license entails don't you? If I go into a store, pick up a Kindle, walk to the cashier desk and hand over cash, that is called a sale. The store has lost all control and rights over that particular Kindle, transferred them to me, and I have compensated them for it by giving them money.
      Here is how a license works. I pick a product or service, then I get a CONTRACT. That I and Amazon then Sign.
      Now in case you mention TOS and EULA, they are only ever shown once you boot up the device, AFTER PARTING WITH YOUR CASH.
      Imagine I sold you a book. You gave me ten bucks for it, went home, opened the cover and saw "By opening this book and reading this page, you hereby agree to forfeit ownership of your house to RikuoAmero". That is what you are actually arguing for.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

        Re: Re:

        You're right that it would be silly if the EULA for something forced you to give up your house. But by the same token, I think the world is a better place if the EULA spells out exactly what the business thinks is going on in a transaction. I wish more would use easier to read language but I think a EULA is better than none.

        And I think the courts can often do a respectable job figuring out a fair solution to extreme cases.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Eric, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    DRM if you please...

    But make sure that the price is proportional to it's use. I'm not going to pay more for an e-book than an actual book (occurs all the time on Amazon). I'm not going to pay more for an e-book than I can get the book for in a used book store. I'm not going to pay even the same as the used book in the book store because I can't lend it out or sell it back. So please, DRM away.. but make it about $2 or $3... otherwise there is no economical point in me buying it. Also don't get fancy and try to publish the e-books after the print book.

    For the argument of what you CAN do w/ a car but it's against the law.. most people DON'T WANT TO run people over and other such things you can do w/ a car. That is the core to this argument. Alcohol was illegal for awhile, that didn't stop people from trying to drink it. Certain drugs are illegal, that doesn't stop people for making / harvesting and buying it. You may not like a Tornado or a Tsunami, but you're not going to stop it. You better move somewhere else, or learn how to live w/ that threat.

    That is what TechDirt has always said.. "you may not like it, but it's going to happen anyway and you better learn how to deal with it." There is no stopping this, society and social mores are ok with and WANT this. If you're in the business and think it really sucks, and don't want to innovate and figure out how to go w/ the flow.. I suggest you find another line of work.

     

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      identicon
      bob, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

      Re: DRM if you please...

      That is what TechDirt has always said.. "you may not like it, but it's going to happen anyway and you better learn how to deal with it." There is no stopping this, society and social mores are ok with and WANT this. If you're in the business and think it really sucks, and don't want to innovate and figure out how to go w/ the flow.. I suggest you find another line of work.



      This is the most bogus argument I've ever heard. Murder, rape and car jackings are going to happen anyway. They happen every day. Yet society still passes laws and enforces them because it believes that the world is a better place if it doesn't happen. If society wants blockbuster movies, journalism and other professional content, it will need to enforce laws that protect some kind of business model that sustains them. Every other business model in this country is supported by laws. Somehow digital content creators are supposed to fight off the wolves by themselves. So bogus.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        coldbrew, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

        Re: Re: DRM if you please...

        So bogus.

        I knew it! You ARE Bill S. Preston, Esquire.

        Excellent!

        Whether it's bogus or not, it's reality. You keep fighting it all you want. The only complaint I have is how far you are willing to go to enforce your utopia. When you start pushing the government to trample on Constitutional rights, the people I know who know nothing of IP law will be there with me protesting the government.

        Btw, CentOS is the open source Red Hat Enterprise, and Red Hat sells services for the most part.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    kindle books free, Mar 26th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    kindle

    It would also not be clear if they were actually completing a lending transaction if the file isn't returned to the original lender in the end.

     

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