Can Senator Patrick Leahy Actually Provide The Proof That The COICA Censorship Law Is Needed?

from the ah,-law-making-in-action dept

This is hardly a surprise, but despite folks like Senator Ron Wyden pointing out the massive problems with Senator Patrick Leahy's COICA bill, Leahy intends to push forward with it. What's amazing is that he even seems to admit that there's no real evidence that it's needed. In his remarks pushing COICA, Senator Leahy noted:
"Copyright piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods are reported to cost the American economy billions of dollars annually and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. That is why inaction is not an option, and we must pass online infringement legislation in this Congress before rogue websites harm more businesses, and result in more lost jobs."
"Are reported?" By whom? Not the US government, who a year ago noted that all of the studies making those sorts of claims were bogus, and the various studies discussing these claims of "losses" to both jobs and the American economy have been thoroughly debunked. The only people still claiming that such things are factual are lobbyists and legacy industry insiders, who clearly stand to benefit from such laws that can be used to stifle innovation.

If Leahy is going to insist that these numbers are factual, shouldn't he at least have to say where he got those numbers from -- and also avoid relying on numbers from the very industries this law is designed to help?

So, what are the chances that Senator Leahy will put forth the details that prove why he needs to censor the internet to protect a few companies who don't want to adapt to a changing market? Anyone a constituent of Leahy's and willing to ask for specific references to such evidence?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    I say we let them have this law ...

    The wonderful thing about this law is, it gives the legacy content types a false sense of security. It gives them a tool that they will wield with ever greater frequency, in an attempt to stop infringement. With how inaccurate they have been so far, there is sure to be a backlash when then ramp this up.

    One thing that will come from this is a greater understanding of copyright issues by the general public. If the content types thought this through they would realize, this is something they really do not want. A couple hundred million americans talking about, 95 year copyright length, the words "promote the progress", fair use, monopoly rents, collection agencies, criminalization of infringement, 1st, 4th, 14th amendments.

    This law will be used to set examples and will not do anything to slow down the competition or infringement that is happening online. It will be struck down in the courts in two years or so. Until then it will expose the general public to what copyright was, what the intent actually is, and what it has become. An educated populace, not a good thing for the legacy content types.

     

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  2.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:55am

    Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    The only problem I see with your strategy (a good idea btw) is it relies on judges to rule COICA unconstitutional, whereas they have been a relatively mixed bag when it comes to copyright issues. It also relies on someone getting screwed over and having the means to take this law through the court system. I'm kind of torn as the ends might actually justify the means in this case.

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:04am

    "Can Senator Patrick Leahy Actually Provide The Proof That The COICA Censorship Law Is Needed?"

    He can probably prove why he needs the law through his campaign financial statements.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:22am

    Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    The problem with this approach is that the way "most" people get their information on current events is via the same major media pushing for the law. Do you honestly believe that the reporting on the issue to the masses will even be remotely balanced as to the underlying issues?

    I see claims of "pirates fighting to kill your jobs", "anti-copyright activists fighting a just law" and "attempts to undermine American intellectual property". Length of copyright - not discussed. Progress - glossed over using specious logic. Fair use - not discussed. Infringement - again, specious logic at best.

    While I love the thought, I think your plan has a fatal flaw.

     

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  5.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    If you believe: "Are reported?" By whom? Not the US government, who a year ago noted that all of the studies making those sorts of claims were bogus, and the various studies discussing these claims of "losses" to both jobs and the American economy have been thoroughly debunked. The only people still claiming that such things are factual are lobbyists and legacy industry insiders, who clearly stand to benefit from such laws that can be used to stifle innovation."

    Then why do you also believe piracy is not OK?

     

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  6.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Ok, do you have any examples of reports making these claims that we should believe?

    And why would you assume that not finding evidence of something causing significant harm automatically makes something ok? Farting in line at the supermarket does not cause significant harm but it is not socially acceptable - do we need to create laws to prevent it?

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Hi joe!

    Please feel free to explain the difference between 'moral' and 'legal' for the rest of the class.

     

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  8.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    "While I love the thought, I think your plan has a fatal flaw."

    Not so much, with the rise of social media. As discussed here at techdirt, more people are getting their news from RSS feeds and from friends suggestions. These are the same people that are going to be targeted by this new law. So you have a law targeted at the same demographic that is becoming both more socially active, and more communicative. I also think mentioning they are beginning to vote more and more might help change your mind.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    ^Troll

     

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  10.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    "whereas they have been a relatively mixed bag when it comes to copyright issues. It also relies on someone getting screwed over and having the means to take this law through the court system."

    I am pretty certain PK, the EFF, and the ACLU are going to get involved in this. When it goes to court. So even with a bad judge, the frieds of the court briefs that will be filed will be clear concise and to the point on the constitutional side. On the content side it will all be obfuscated nonsense like we have seen over an over recently.

    Also, Could someone tell me if prior restraint is a constitutional issue or a legal judgement or both? With a short explaination.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    But in the case of illegal commercial speech, the 1st amendment does not apply. You only have free speech rights for legal speech, not for illegal speech. So 1st amendment issues would go out the window.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:55am

    I watched the hearing

    It was disturbing to hear every senator repeat stats that the US is losing bzillions of dollars and multiple oodles of jobs. Most of the stats were un-cited, though one quoted the unbiased US Chamber of Commerce.

    The service providers (Go-daddy, Verizon, Visa) were all insistent on the bill providing immunity for 'TRYING to do the right thing'. I think that should be a red flag indicating that everyone knows that the wrong things are going to happen sometimes. And the ICE's recent missteps should make it clear that it won't just be once in a blue moon.

    Mr. Turow from the Author's Guild was downright scary in demanding that we do away with the DMCA safe harbors.
    Mr. Adams (from Rosetta Stone) was asking that Google be required to review all advertisers for infringements before doing business with them. He claims they do this with every video on you-tube (huh?), so it should be no problem to do this with web sites. He didn't mention whether he would want Google to re-review every change that happened on advertisers' sites.

    Nobody seemed to think that a court should be required to decide what's infringing. Everyone seemed to unanimously agree that a phone call from a supposed content creator should be all it takes to bring down the hammer.

    It was very disheartening to watch.

     

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  13.  
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    CarlWeathersForPres, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:58am

    Since when do you need proof or evidence to get a law passed?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    That is the silliest tautology yet.

     

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  15.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re:

    Nope. I never claimed to have any such reports. I don't need a report to tell me that people have rights to the fruits of their labor and that other people shouldn't violate those rights.

     

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  16.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    I asked a poignant and honest question. You're the one that's trolling.

     

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  17.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    Why bother? What's the point of that?

     

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  18.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:39am

    Re: Why are apples NOT Oranges?

    Hey average_joe! If dogs can be pets, then why is organized dog fighting not ok?

    That makes about as much sense as your question. Just because the claims of economic and job losses are completely bogus, doesn't mean that piracy is ok. It means the claims of economic loss are bogus.

    Online piracy (copyright infringement) is currently illegal, just like alcohol was illegal during prohibition. Online copyright infringement is FUELED by the attempts of legacy industries to abusively clamp down on content and disrupt human nature.

     

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  19.  
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    anon, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Is average_joe darryl? Are both actually Mike saying ridiculous things to keep the comment section interesting for /b/tards?

     

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  20.  
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    Greevar (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you can't find another way to get paid for the "fruits of your labor" because people figured out that the current design is flawed and actually unnatural, then you must have a severe lack of imagination. Seriously, would you put your goods out on the street front unmonitored if you knew full-well that they would be taken?

    Here, let's take the rights holders' favorite analogy and apply the reality of digital goods to it. You have your stuff in your house. You locked the door, but you also hid the key (DRM) in the goods you hand out to everybody you sell your stuff to. Now, people use that key to enter your house and take your stuff, but you still have it because they're not actually taking anything away, they're copying it and walking out the door leaving what you have perfectly intact. So what do you do? Sue? Change the locks and deprive your loyal customer access to what they legally paid for?

     

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  21.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I say we let them have this law ...

    Your comment, made no sense at all. "But in the case of illegal commercial speech, the 1st amendment does not apply. You only have free speech rights for legal speech, not for illegal speech. So 1st amendment issues would go out the window."

    To quote myself ..."On the content side it will all be obfuscated nonsense like we have seen over an over recently." were you trying to be funny??

     

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  22.  
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    Matt P (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    "If Leahy is going to insist that these numbers are factual, shouldn't he at least have to say where he got those numbers from -- and also avoid relying on numbers from the very industries this law is designed to help?

    So, what are the chances that Senator Leahy will put forth the details that prove why he needs to censor the internet to protect a few companies who don't want to adapt to a changing market?"

    Yeah evidently democracy doesn't work that way anymore. Our local lobbyist fanboy slash justice minister pulled the same number when they were ramming through the three-strikes nonsense down here. I did ask him, twice, to verify those numbers from objective sources.

    To his credit he did actually respond to me in detail both times, but neither response had any more content besides the standard REPEAT ORIGINAL CLAIMS tactic.

    In short, no, they don't have evidence and evidence isn't the point. They've got lobbyist money telling them what to do.

     

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  23.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nobody has to figure out another way to get paid since the law already provides a way that works. Look, I know all you guys think IP is dumb and you hate it, etc. etc. etc. etc. I don't care. I disagree. Big woop.

    All I asked in this thread was why Mike thinks piracy is not OK if he believe that piracy does no harm.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, one harm is that it could mistakenly get you labeled a child molester by the government.,

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Why are apples NOT Oranges?

    Human nature is unnatural and that's why we need to enforce the shit out of copyright laws.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I made a poignant and honest assessment of your comments. You are either a troll or a jackass who loves to argue stupid points.

     

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  27.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Says you. I don't think my question to Mike is at all stupid, and I'm hoping he takes the time to answer it. What are you adding to this thread? Nothing.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What does a garbage man add to your street on garbage day? Nothing. He just takes away the trash.

    I am a garbage man. Your comments are trash.

    /ad hominem attacks

     

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  29.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    From my point of view, you're just stirring up shit and making completely useless posts. Good for you.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    (irony)

     

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  31.  
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    Greevar (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I wasn't responding to that question. I was responding to your claim that you have the right to the fruits of your labor. I was pointing out that clinging to those beliefs are pointless and doomed to failure by the very nature of digital goods. It works? According to whom? All the rampant file sharing of copyrighted works would say otherwise. If I were to pass a law that says you can't breath the same atmosphere as I do despite the fact that you do, does that mean the law is working? If I punish you with a lawsuit in which the court asserts my legal rights, as granted by that law, will you stop breathing what, by law, has become my air? Oh, and don't give me the excuse that you can't stop breathing, that's immaterial. What's material is that you can, and will, do so easily with or without my permission.

     

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  32.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    Once upon a time AJ's comments were interesting. Used to cite case law and have long thought out arguments. These days it is mostly just Mike bashing. I guess everybody has their own forms of mental masturbation, and bashing Mike just does it for AJ. That and attacking anyone and everyone while never actually answering serious questions. He only responds if the question contains no rational logical thought requirement.
    A shadow of his former self.

    I doubt Mike would be Darryl or AJ though. Too many people dislike those kinds of people, and they hardly make conversations interesting when their only argument is "YOU ARE WRONG BECAUSE OF X" when X has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    The most prominent example of why AJ has fallen from respect is in the post Karl did yesterday. Just scroll through the comments there for multiple people talking about how AJ used to be, and as to why he is now useless.

     

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  33.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This string of posts is like watching double rainbow.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    Say what you will about AJ, but at least his posts are written in human.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    I have seen this happen to a lot of people after they start progressing through law school. They get a year or two in and decide that they understand the law better than non-lawyers (forgetting that they too are non-lawyers). Then when an actual lawyer points out the flaws in their reasoning, they become embarrassed, hostile, or both. You see a similar thing with undergrad psychology students, med students, etc. I don't know why the effect is so pronounced in law students.

    I'm not sure if that's what happened with AJ, but I agree that he has undergone a significant change and not for the better.

     

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  36.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Give me a break. I don't think I understand the law better than non-lawyers. In fact, I frequently tell people not to listen to me. I like people to point out flaws in my arguments, and I thank people when they do me that honor. I've done this already a few times this week. I welcome anyone pointing out my errors because it means I've learned something new. I'm obsessed with getting things right, not it in always being right. Keep your dime store psychology to yourself. It's way off base.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    This doesn't happen with art students because no one listens to art students.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not to point out the obvious, but you constantly claim that people are misinterpreting or not understanding laws, unfamiliar with supreme court cases, etc.

    "I welcome anyone pointing out my errors because it means I've learned something new. I'm obsessed with getting things right, not in always being right." This may be how you see yourself, but it is totally inconsistent with the way you have been acting on this site.

    This is not "dime store psychology," it's experience from dealing with thousands upon thousands of young people who want more than anything in the world for people to recognize how smart they are.

     

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  39.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's right, I point out other people's errors. And other people point out mine. When I am proved to be wrong, I thank the person who so proved it. Such pleasantries are not usually reciprocated.

    I am just about the only named poster on techdirt I can think of who gladly admits when he's wrong. You disagree. That's fine. We're obviously not going to have a meeting of the minds on this.

    I can point to a few posts from the past week alone where I thanked someone for pointing out my error. Can you do the same?

    I'm not going to debate you on this any further, because honestly, I'm fed up with all this bullshit. Think whatever the fuck you want, genius, I don't fucking care.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I don't fucking care"

    Clearly.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    robin, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Re: gimme the money

    He can probably prove why he needs the law through his campaign financial statements.


    exactly! per opensecrets.org my beloved senior senator gets paid north of $350,000 per election cycle by the entertainment industry (yes i'm typing from vermont, home of great skiing and an embarrassed electorate).

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    TDR, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    DISCLAIMER
    Average Joe: "I am a shark-wannabe who dreams of fleecing my customers like any bad lawyer, and I cannot understand the concept of fighting against bad laws rather than simply letting them stand. I worship the law and bow down before it, and to me it can do no wrong. If there was a law that said I had to go streaking in my neighborhood every day, I would do it without question, because it would be the law."


    Your problem is, you're wrong more than you think you are. So you only acknowledge you're wrong when you think you are, not when you actually are regardless of whether you think you are or not. There's a reason nobody likes lawyers anymore. And by the way, as you use a copyrighted image for your avatar, did you license it? Doubtful, which means you do the very thing you rail against. Unless you can provide proof as to what specific harm such usage does to the originator - since you seem to believe that any use without permission automatically causes harm. By that logic, that includes your own use as well.

     

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  43.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well said but I think his attitude of not caring extends way beyond just what a couple of us think.
    At the current rate of decline of AJ's argument style I suspect that within a few months he will be at angry dude level and only show up to throw massive amounts of insults and not even try to argue anything. With the level of posts he started at compared to where he is at now, I do not see this as outside the realm of possibilities.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Mike, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Piracy is not innovation

    As much as you'd like to believe it, The Pirate Bay is not an innovator.

    And if innovators can't find ways to innovate that don't depend on piracy, they have no business model and need to go back to the drawing board.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    TDR, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Piracy is not innovation

    No, "piracy" is inevitable. When something is digital it WILL be shared whether you want it to or not. There's nothing you can do about it. Smart companies and creators realize this and use this to their advantage. After all, if your digitized work is going to be made available for free anyway one way or the other, you might as well be the one to do it.

    Of course, people can be terrified of change and the unknown. It took centuries, I think, for people to even understand the concept of the number zero. The concept of free seems to have the same poleaxing effect on minds that aren't open to it.

     

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


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