How The Monkeys & Copyright Debate Explains Why Congress Shouldn't Rush To Approve PROTECT IP

from the it's-not-that-simple dept

This week's episode of WNYC's On the Media might interest a bunch of you (though, hopefully most of you already listen to the show). First off, it has two of my favorite tech/legal commentators on other segments -- Joe Mullin on Righthaven's self destruction and Tim Lee on the "six strikes" agreement (which I still argue is more properly labeled "five strikes," but no one else agrees). And then (blatant self promotion) it has a short segment with me talking about why PROTECT IP is bad news... in which host Bob Garfield does a nice job bringing the story back around to the monkeys and their copyright woes.

The key point that we discuss is that, contrary to what some supporters of PROTECT IP would have you believe, determining what is, definitively, infringing is not as easy as they believe. They keep saying not to worry about PROTECT IP because it "only" applies to "rogue sites," or "sites dedicated to infringing activities." But all of that presumes it's easy to define what is a rogue site. But it's not. And that's proved by the fact that the list of "sites dedicated to infringing activities" put together by WPP/GroupM, with help from Universal Music, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., includes tons of perfectly legitimate sites, including the Internet Archive, Vimeo, Vibe Magazine and a bunch of hip hop blogs. It also includes 50 Cent's personal website... even though he's a Universal Music artist!

It's further highlighted by a stroll through history, and a look at the list of things the industry has previously declared as infringing, including the player piano, radio, the photocopier, cable TV, the VCR, cassette tapes, the DVR, the mp3 player and YouTube, among many other things. Frankly, the industry has a dismally poor track record in figuring out what's really dedicated to infringing activities and separating that from what's the next major platform for growth.

And where do the monkeys fit into all of this? Well, as Bob Garfield pointed out, it's this kind of confusion over copyright law, where some people insist that it's simple to understand this stuff, that leads to bad, overly-generalized legislation like PROTECT IP. Either that, or he was making a comment about the simian nature of our elected officials. Or maybe both. Either way, if you want to take a listen, get the podcast here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    You're forgetting one very important fact, Mike.

    We cannot possibly comprehend the sheer number of innocent laser printers that will be disconnected from the internet after only their third or fourth strike, because they unfortunately will not be capable of completing the required course/presentation on copyright that kicks in around that point in order to get back onto the internet.

    This will be far more punishing to the laser printers than it will be for us.

    Won't somebody think of the laser printers?

     

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

  2.  
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    Jon Alessi, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Nice Interview

    I actually heared this on my local NPR station yesterday and I got very excited when I heard Mike Masnick introduced to discuss the Pro IP act. Your website is the first one I read in the morning and offers great insite into tech issues. I have to say the interview was very good at explaining the situation and why ProIP is a bad idea while mixing in some humor over the monkeys. I hope to hear more of you in the future. I just wish the segment was longer as this issue should be getting more attention than it has so far.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    RD, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 12:53pm

    no podcast

    Download link doesnt work. Or rather, it only downloads a file about 6 minutes long, not the whole segment/show.

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

    My droid Dot Matrix says screw you and your laser printers.

    But she's in a bad mood....

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    by making all much more draconian. -- Wasn't that your objection to it?

    Again, I'm only pointing out the obvious and inevitable trend.

    As to the monkeys, all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it. Didn't just pop out of thin air into the public domain. Says nothing who does "own" the image: my point is that Mike grabs onto it to for his own interests, and that's objectionable in itself. -- Maybe you guys would understand the principle if you'd ever actually produced anything that others wanted to steal.

     

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  6.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    What/whose "intellectual property" is being protected?
    The monkeys?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    You forgot your tags.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    "by making all much more draconian. -- Wasn't that your objection to it?"

    Actually, no. That'd be a far easier problem to deal with, actually, if ProtectIP just blatantly ramped up the draconian measures on copyright and counterfeits. What it does instead, and this is the sneaky part, is ramp up the punishments specifically, while leaving the suspected parties ambiguous and open to interpretation. The reason for all this is clear: get the bill passed then overuse it in ways you told everyone it wouldn't be. It isn't a bug, it's a feature....

    "As to the monkeys, all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it."

    No, but that statement alone DOES make one thing certain, and that's that you don't understand what Fair Use is or how it works. Fair Use is codified law providing for the use of things that one does not make or even own the copyright on. And that's how it should be, for purposes of commentary, parody etc.

    Look, I know we've gone back and forth on each other here, but I'd be happier if you were a productive member of the site. To do that, you've got to have at least a basic understanding of this stuff, and making blanket statements like the one above are just REALLY wrong....

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    * sarcasm tags. woops

     

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

  10.  
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    rubberpants, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    Maybe you guys would understand the principle if you'd ever actually produced anything that others wanted to steal.

    Who is "you guys"?

    This is a nonsense statement. You claim to know the identity of every person reading your comment, everything they've every produced, and that no one would want to steal any of the products that you don't know what they are made by the people that you don't know who they are.

    Congratulations, you're winner!

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    >>Didn't just pop out of thin air into the public domain.

    Yes. It did. That's how non-human creation of works takes place. The fact that you can't fathom it is, frankly, troubling.

     

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  12.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    As to the monkeys, all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it. Didn't just pop out of thin air into the public domain.


    By your definition, You're using words...Did you create them? No. Why are you using them without permission then?


    /sarcasm

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Nice Interview

    I actually heared this on my local NPR station yesterday and I got very excited when I heard Mike Masnick introduced to discuss the Pro IP act.

    Thanks!

    One small clarification, btw, PRO IP was the last act, approved a few years ago. This one is PROTECT IP.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: no podcast

    ive had problems with official WYNC podcasts links before. The site may be clogged from requests, or the link may just be screwed up. You can usually find alternative links for WYNC stuff by goggling around, here is the itunes link:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/on-the-media/id73330715

    if you hatez teh apples im sure you can find others with a little poking

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Rogue sites are easy to define. It's called the "Entertainment" industry for a reason. A rogue site is any site not belonging to the AAs or their friends that puts up entertaining content.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re:

    You forgot sites of potential competitors, disruptive new technologies, and industry critics.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    I don't think so. It wasn't me this time. I'm the one that forgot my tags last week.

     

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

  18.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    Not quite sure why I am bothering, but anyways:

    As to the monkeys, all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it.

    It's becoming obvious that there is no such thing as fair use on your planet. I am beginning to wonder if there is oxygen.

    Didn't just pop out of thin air into the public domain.

    Um, based on all the logical arguments I have read on this, yes, that is basically what did happen.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re:

    ROFL that was so funny! He was talking about laser printers and then you decided to go old school and talked about dot matrix. Where do you come up with this stuff?

     

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  20.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Eh, screw you all with your new-fangled KEYBOARDS! I'm typing this from a typewriter!

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    No, those are rouge sites. Rogue sites are Captain Jack Sparrow fansites.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Er, I blatantly stole that joke (STOLE!) from Mel Brooks.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    Didn't just pop out of thin air into the public domain.

    Sorry - that's pretty much exactly what it did.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    "As to the monkeys, all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it."

    No, but that statement alone DOES make one thing certain, and that's that you don't understand what Fair Use is or how it works.


    Two things actually - he doen't understand the rules about which types of work are eligible for copyright and which go straight to the public domain either...

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    "Maybe you guys would understand the principle if you'd ever actually produced anything that others wanted to steal."

    Well if that isn't arrogant presumption, I don't know what is. Apparently you're saying that anybody who disagrees with you cannot possibly be in a position to know.

    I write software for a living. Nothing you'd be interested in, but it is a creative endeavor and I get paid for it and it is protected under Copyright law. My boss would be very unhappy if our competitors were to start selling products based on my code without paying for it.

    It's been a while, but used to be I'd write as a hobby, too. Most of the stuff I explicitly gave away as Public Domain. Note: If I give something away as Public Domain, you are allowed to use it, without limitation, for profit or not as you choose, without permission and without owning the copyright.

    There's some code up on my blog that people are allowed to copy and use. (You wouldn't be interested in that either, probably.) It took me a lot of time and effort to get it working. I think I kept the copyright on that but all I ask is that I get credit for my work. Even if it's just in the source code. I figured, hey, if I put that much work into it, somebody should get some use out of it. Next time somebody wants a bitwise divide function in assembly for a PIC16 micro, a web search should turn it up.

    I'd rather give it away than throw it away.

    "Mike grabs onto it to for his own interests, and that's objectionable in itself."

    Since the photos are in the Public Domain, it's not. Even if they are under copyright, Mike's use of them is covered under Fair Use. So far I haven't seen a cogent argument for them being under copyright.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    The laser printer IP thing has turned into the punch line for every bad pirate supporter's stance. Most of them know that it is likely that someone inside the company was using the IP for their P2P software. But we won't let something like reality get in the way of a good slam.

    Each of the cases cited in the article here come with a reasonable explanation. Obviously, piling them all together and acting like the represent a large majority of the copyright field (rather than a very small number of cases on the very edge of the law, contract law, etc) is probably good for getting the choir to yell "hell yeah", but makes the rest of us guffaw.

    I personally hope the monkey kicks your legal ass.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Zot-Sindi, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    "all that remains certain is that Mike didn't make it, therefore has no right to use it."

    you know that computer you're one?you didn't make it so you have no right be using it right now, get off it and stop trolling this blog you didn't make either nor have rights to and wasting the bandwidth you also didn't make and no rights to

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    zot-sindi, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    oh yeah and PUH-LEEZE stop using english as your language, you didn't make it so you don't have the rights to use it, go make your own damn language ya freetard

     

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  29.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 5:37pm

    Re:

    "I personally hope the monkey kicks your legal ass."

    Well, you sure can make a monkey of this site with such a great grasp on reality and technology with your assertions!

    A banana for you.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    thedigitari, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 7:18pm

    nothing worth stealing

    They stole my bike, really, they did.
    True I didn't make it, but I did work for the money that I spent to pay for it. I keep it nice and clean and ( I presume) Attractive. I even locked it up. they cut the lock off and stole it. even the lock. (I rode it to work daily, ya know to keep in shape and not molest the environment)My Boss was pissed when he found it it was stolen. I (again presumed) "they" needed it more then I did, I walked to work the next day. My Boss replaced the bike and upgraded it. My 60$ bike is now a 100$ bike, I lock it in the back now. I did not scream at other bike riders, I did not demand all other bike riders pay me to ride their bikes. I didn't even get upset. Funny how when "things" and Money" are not the main focus of life how nice it really can be, I still and have always smiled all day at work. I take care of sick people all day, some die, some get better and go home. Funny how nice life can be when you are not "out to get" the most.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    known coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    since you mentioned it first, how much do you owe mel for all your years here?

     

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

  32.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 10:00pm

    Re:

    "The rest of us" being you and Ms. Rosie Palms?

     

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

  33.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 11:22pm

    Re:

    "Most of them know that it is likely that someone inside the company was using the IP for their P2P software."

    But that can't happen now, right?

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:50am

    Re: Well, logically, PROTECT IP should resolve these ambiguities,

    Maybe you guys would understand the principle if you'd ever actually produced anything that others wanted to steal.


    sorry, you don't have a profile, could you link to your site? i'd like to see if anything you've produced is worth stealing...err, pirating... uh, infringing? copying without consent.

    whatever it is called these days.

    oh and steal my stuff and pass it around, please. i didn't write it so it would be lost in a drawer and never seen again.

     

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

  35.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "since you mentioned it first, how much do you owe mel for all your years here?"

    I'm not sure. I'd think it'd have to be at least a hundred million spacebucks, but with all the inflation due to oxygen being scarce, who can tell?

     

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

  36.  
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    rxrightsadvocate (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    PROTECT IP will cut off access to affordable meds

    There is another potential impact of PROTECT IP that isn't receiving the attention that it should. Because of this billís overarching language, trusted and legitimate online pharmacies could be blacklisted. The bill doesn't distinguish between the legitimate pharmacies that always require valid prescriptions and the rogue online pharmacies that don't.

    Over a million Americans depend on safe, online international pharmacies to access their needed medications at affordable prices. PROTECT IP could cut off this virtual lifeline. For this reason, the RxRights Coalition is encouraging consumers to send letters to President Obama and Congress urging them to state their opposition to the PROTECT IP Act. For more information or to voice your concern, visit www.RxRights.org.

    Lee Graczyk

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    This week's episode of WNYC's On the Media might interest a bunch of you (though, hopefully most of you already listen to the show).


    Where exactly do you think "most of us" live that would put "most of us" inside the reception footprint of WNYC?

    I, for one, can't ever recall running across that station on my car's dial.

     

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


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