Do The Differences Between Software Piracy And Media Piracy Matter?

from the important-distinctions dept

Danah Boyd (or danah boyd as she prefers to be called) is widely recognized as an authority on privacy, identity and social networks. A couple of weeks ago, in the context of the fight against SOPA, she wrote a blog post where she made an interesting distinction between different kinds of piracy:

There are many different aspects of piracy, but for simplicity sake, I want to focus on two aspects that feed into bills like SOPA and PROTECT IP: piracy as a competitive issue vs. piracy as a cultural issue. This can often be split as software piracy vs. media piracy, but not always.
She then gives a concrete example:
Imagine that you are an appliance manufacturer in the United States. You make things like toasters. You are required to abide by American laws. You must pay your employees at least a minimum wage; you must follow American safety regulations. All of this raises the overhead of your production process. In addition, you must also do things like purchase your software legally. Your designers use some CAD software, which they pay for. Your accountants use accounting software, which they pay for. Sure, you’ve cut some costs by using “free” software but, by and large, you pay a decent amount of money to software companies to use the systems that they built.

You really want to get your toasters into Wal-Mart, but time and time again, you find yourself undercut by competitors in foreign countries where the safety laws are more lax, the minimum wage laws are nonexistent, and where companies aren’t punished for stealing software. Are you grouchy? Of course you are. Needless to say, you see this as an unfair competition issue. There aren’t legal ways of bending the market to create fair competition. You can’t innovate your way out of this dilemma and so you want Congress to step in and make sure that you can compete fairly.
Well, AutoCAD, the leading CAD software, costs a few thousand dollars; the price of accounting programs for businesses varies greatly, depending on the size of the company. But the overall cost of specialized software for the toaster company needn't be more than a few tens of thousands of dollars (using open source operating systems and office suites helps minimize generic software costs.) Since you're hoping to get your toasters into Wal-Mart, out of necessity you have high-volume production runs (if you don't, then you're a boutique toaster company, and you can charge premium prices.) That means the extra cost due to software licensing per toaster will be a few cents.

Moreover, as that first paragraph quoted above makes clear, the key factor of the "unfair" competition is the radically different cost of manufacturing in countries where wages are lower, and health and environmental standards are less rigorous and hence less costly to implement. These will make far more difference to the costs than the possible use of pirated software, especially at Wal-Mart scales.

As a result, the logic behind the opening claim of this paragraph in the post seems dubious:

Combating software piracy in the supply chain is a reasonable request and part of what makes bills like PROTECT IP messy is that there’s a kernel of this issue in these bills. Bills like this are also meant to go after counterfeit products. Most folks really want to know what’s in baby formula or what’s in the medicines they purchase. Unfortunately, though, these aspects of piracy quickly gets muddled with cultural facets of piracy, particularly once the media industries have gotten involved.
The second part is absolutely spot-on, though: people rightly want to know that the medicines and foodstuffs they buy are safe. That means there is a genuine case for legislation that helps protect consumers against such health and safety dangers. But that's about combating counterfeits, not fighting digital piracy, much less software piracy. And that's the crucial distinction: not between software piracy and media piracy, but between digital piracy and analog counterfeits.

It's important not to blur that difference, as the last sentence of the above paragraph seems to do. After all, that's precisely the trick the ACTA negotiators used to bring in disproportionate punishments for digital piracy -- by confounding it with counterfeiting that endangered the public's health.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:04am

    Everything needs to be free. Everyone should work for free for what I want to consume. And they need to do it right now. I demand that. Also, go make me a sandwich. I'm hungry.

     

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  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:19am

    Re:

    Go move to China, I hear that the pay rate is so low over there that it might as well be free.

     

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  3.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:28am

    Media corps just want people to assume that copyright infringement is the same as making medicine out of road paint. They want that panic to go off in peoples heads. The battlecry of won't someone think of the children has lost its luster, like the little boy who cried wolf they used it was to much.

    Now it needs to be nestled into the safe arms of this law will keep bad drugs from getting imported and killing your loved ones.

    How long until they just fall back to everytime you copy a file god kills a kitten?

     

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  4.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:30am

    Job done.

    I think A LOT of American companies already got the point of her article. Instead of worrying about software piracy, they bought software legally then they just outsourced their labor force to manage the large expense of wages and health and safety regulation.

     

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  5.  
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    frosty840, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:38am

    Re:

    You make me sad, dude. You paid shills used to make such interesting points and really added to the discussion.

    Now it's all "Pirate Mike" this and "I didn't read the article, here's some complete gibberish" that.

    Did the old guy leave? Is he sick?

    Come on shill-employers, fork out something extra to get someone better than this guy. It's like you don't think we're worth the cost anymore :(

     

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  6.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:10am

    Re: Re:

    I dunno give it a little time, I am sure paywall bob will be right along to point out how Google funds this entire blog and its just like a paywall.
    Its fun watching him yell, marching up and down the virtual street carrying his sign... THE PAYWALL IS NEAR!

     

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  7.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:13am

    confused approach

    Instead of raising software costs on the third world, another approach would be to get rid of copyright here. That would also level the playing field. The same is true of every other regulation mentioned, such as minimum wage and safety etc. Let the market handle it. The state only destroys. It's never here to help us.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:23am

    Easy solution for the toaster problem:

    Don't target the cheapo market. Make high quality products and target the higher end of the market spectrum.

    Let's face it: China (and others) have the cheap side of the market wrapped up pretty tightly (for reasons that are obvious). The only way to compete is to deliver something that can't be made on a sweatshop.

    Apple figured that out and look at them: they are the most valued company on the planet.


    PS: I hate Apple with the fury of a thousand Suns, but I can't argue about their success.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Re:

    "Also, go make me a sandwich."

    Permissions denied: You need root privileges to issue the command "make me a sandwich".

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re:

    Kinda like this?

    https://www.xkcd.com/149/

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Re:

    Everything DOES NOT need to be free. As far as software goes though, there are plenty of legitimate competitors offering their products as freeware or shareware.

    But what people want is for the majority of products to be priced REASONABLY. There are few if any other jobs where work is compensated and paid in a manner that actors and musicians (the big ones) seem to be. Most people have to literally work on a regular and every day basis to make any money. I.e. You DO NOT get paid indefinitely for that one report you prepared and presented for your boss. That Ford Mustang you helped design, you don't get a lifetime paycheck for that. That computer I repaired yesterday, I do not get to keep collecting royalty checks on it.

    This is the real world. You want money, you actually have to work for it. Regularly. The majority of people live like this. These are the people who are YOUR customers. You keep dismissing their wants and calling them thieves or trying to twist their reasonable requests around.

    They don't think everyone should work for free, they just think they should work and be paid in a manner that is appropriate for the work they do. I.e. not get paid for the rest of their lives for that one bit of work they did 20 years ago.

    You shills just can't seem to figure things out at all. Reasonable. Some of us do want what you have. Now present it to us in a reasonably priced manner and in a form that we prefer to consume it is, or go f*ck yourself. It's literally that simple. You keep dictating terms or pushing things to the extreme and of course people are going to find alternate illegal means of acquiring a product. You're not going to make them feel even remotely bad about doing so, not with your sense of entitlement and treatment of them.

     

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  12.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:00am

    I would just like to point out that the toaster is likely injection molded plastic outside casing. That is not something that lends itself to autocad (2D). That is a job for a 3D package with some additional software. Think more like $4000-$10000 a seat on a $4000 computer.

    Anyways, just my seat of "autocad LT" (lightweight autocad version), is around $1200.

    So up your software costs for CAD packages a bit and add something in for the desktop workstation video cards.

     

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  13.  
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    Killercool (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:06am

    Re: confused approach

    Except, the 19th & 20th century proved, already, that not all forces should be left au naturale. Monopolies, even the natural ones, are generally bad. They were left unregulated until the public outcry forced politicians to get the industries in check.

    Safety was (pretty much) unregulated until the occurrence of disasters/illnesses terrible enough to cause a public outcry, and the politicians once again to get the industries in check. Unbelievably, it took until the mid 1960s for that to happen.

    You could say, in those cases, the market did speak, and it said regulation was necessary.

    As for copyright, regulation has gone unregulated to the point of causing a public outcry. It remains to be seen whether it will be large enough to force the politicians to get the industries in check.

     

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  14.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:13am

    Re:

    But all of Apple's goods come from Chinese sweatshops.

     

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  15.  
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    Dan (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Open source for business

    Using open source for a business (or not) I believe is a support/training issue. If you're running a business, and you hit a bug or it not running as expected, posting to a forum and waiting for an answer is not a good business practice for most. Kudos to those open source companies
    that offer support contracts, but I think the lack of them is the main reason adaptation to open source is as slow as it is.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    Re:

    Add in the yearly "maintenance" costs they tend to force on you (i.e. now you "rent" it instead of own it, like it or not), the fact that "one package" does not generally do it all so you can add another 2X because of other required packages etc, etc.

    Where I work, the typical cost of keeping things in compliance is at least 50% of the paycheck of the user in many cases. Yes, the packages are getting cheaper (kind of) but Autodesk and others make up for it with special feature plugins you almost surely need, yearly fee's, ridiculous transfer fee's from one computer to another such that the prices are actually higher than they used to be in aggregate.

    That is a pretty significant competition issue compared to someone paying "just" the worker and pirating all the software.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re:

    Hey, kind of off topic but I was wondering if I could ask you a question. I just started at an Engineering firm, I am going to run the IT department and just yesterday someone asked me to give them a copy of Autodesk. Now I know we don't have any spare copies/licenses. I kinda knew you could transfer a license, but had no clue how to do so. I can figure that out myself. But it'd be great if before I go in today, if you could answer the following: How much does it cost to do a license transfer?

    Or would it be cheaper (relatively) to just get an entirely new copy/license?

     

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  18.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    Everything needs to be free.

    No one ever said that here - what has been said is that "everything needs to be made available at a cost close to the marginal cost of production"

    Where that marginal cost is effectively zero (as in digital copies) the - yes - those items need to be free.

    Is that really so hard for you to understand?

     

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  19.  
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    Joe Karaganis (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:42am

    Sigh. Yes, the difference does matter.

    But if the concern is fair practice and economic harms, Boyd has it reversed.

    Because business software piracy, unlike other kinds, is implicitly and sometimes explicitly part of the software business model and largely under the control of the vendors. With apologies for narcissistic linking practices:

    http://piracy.ssrc.org/adobe-logic/
    http://piracy.ssrc.org/the-software-enforcement-d ance/
    http://piracy.ssrc.org/overinstaller-awareness-day/

    Without even getting to powerful network effects that make piracy useful to monopolists--especially in developing countries where few people can afford their products. Hello Microsoft.

    http://piracy.ssrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/MPEE-PDF-1-Rethinking-Piracy.pdf

    Also, talk about protecting the software "supply chain" is overdetermined by Microsoft's very controversial efforts (through the Washington State legislature) to make businesses liable for software piracy occurring anywhere within their supply chains. Liability for everyone! I am guessing that that's not her intent, but the language--given her employer--is loaded.

    http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleFriendlyLTN.jsp?id=1202486273303&slreturn =1

    On the other hand, I think she's defending the various appropriation and remix versions of infringement, which is fine. But I think she's also conflating this with 'media piracy' more generally which, regardless of whether you think it's sharing or inevitable or inseparable from core Internet freedoms at this point (which I do), can be notionally viewed as harming incumbent film and record companies (vs. some high water mark of recorded media sales. I'd dispute this as a basis for IP policy, but that's different.) So I'm left confused by this piece.

     

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  20.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: confused approach

    No, you are wrong: "Except, the 19th & 20th century proved, already, that not all forces should be left au naturale. " -- facts do not imply any shoulds at all. Check out Hume's explanation of the is-ought gap. To come up with a should, you have to rest it on some other value that is being introduced into the discussion. And you are simply wrong. The state is always the problem.

     

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  21.  
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    artp (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    That means there is a genuine case for legislation that helps protect consumers against such health and safety dangers.


    I believe that is covered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unfortunately, they seem to have a hard time enforcing the law consistently at the level demanded by the law.

    Another law to address a bad situation is almost always a bad idea. We don't enforce 80% (SWAG) of the laws that we have now. Why pile up more laws to not enforce.

    I'd like to see a rule that Congress needs to allocate funding for enforcement of any new law that they pass. I'd like that for my state legislature, too. It might cut down on the number of useless laws that we have on the books, which only create opportunities for enterprising lawyers.

     

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  22.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re:

    Add in the yearly "maintenance" costs they tend to force on you (i.e. now you "rent" it instead of own it, like it or not), the fact that "one package" does not generally do it all so you can add another 2X because of other required packages etc, etc.

    May be (sort of) true - but really just shows how much the industry has fallen for autodesk's FUD.

    It certainly should be possible to make a competitive CAD system without having to charge autodesk prices - and you don't need a specialised workstation these days. A moderate desktop PC with a top end graphics card will do - and shouldn't set you back more than $1000.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    "The second part is absolutely spot-on, though: people rightly want to know that the medicines and foodstuffs they buy are safe. That means there is a genuine case for legislation that helps protect consumers against such health and safety dangers."

    So you might think, but trademark laws only regulate who makes the product, not what goes in it.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120202/15510717640/shattering-pyrex-to-show-massive-weakne ss-trademark-law.shtml

     

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  24.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    Re: Open source for business

    Using open source for a business (or not) I believe is a support/training issue. If you're running a business, and you hit a bug or it not running as expected, posting to a forum and waiting for an answer is not a good business practice for most. Kudos to those open source companies
    that offer support contracts, but I think the lack of them is the main reason adaptation to open source is as slow as it is.


    True - but of course a business using pirate s/w will have all of these issues too - which sorta blows the gaff on the original article IMO.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Damnit, I read the post you replied to and thought of responding the EXACT same thing.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:57am

    Re:

     

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  27.  
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    Killercool (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    The people rejected anarchy and created the state. Get over it.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 6:11am

    Re: Open source for business

    I do IT for a medium-sized software development company, and for non-critical systems, we run things without support contracts all the time. It's just a matter of having staff smart enough to figure out what's wrong when things break and/or yes, just posting to a forum or 3 and hoping for the best.

    If you have an IT staff who says they cannot do their jobs without a support contract in place for every piece of software out there, then you don't have an IT staff. You have someone to call support for you and I hope you're not paying that person/those people very much, because there's 0 skills required for that.

     

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  29.  
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    Wiggs (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    Re: Re:

    > sudo make me a sandwich

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 6:42am

    Re: confused approach

    Yes, because we can see that has done wonders for the standard of living in China.

     

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  31.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:12am

    Re: Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    "Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have". No, we should not. MOst state laws are artificial and unjust. It is better that they not be enforced, e.g. tax law, IP, drug law, minimum wage, and so on.

    " That means there is a genuine case for legislation that helps protect consumers against such health and safety dangers."

    No legislation protects consumers; it is all statist and socialist and immoral. Legislation is not the way to make law.

     

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  32.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    I didn't reject it, yet you and your statist ilk tax and regulate me. So you can kindly go to hell. I'll "get over it" when you leave me the eff alone. In the meantime, as long as you and your ilk allow me to bitch about it, I'll bitch about it, while funding your effing cruise missiles, son.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:15am

    Seems like, once again, you are trying to come up with a way to justify piracy.

    Do you ever get bored of trying to excuse your own bad behaviors?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Great minds think alike. :)

     

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  35.  
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    Killercool (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    You have no idea what you're asking for, though. If a government is not formed artificially, it will form organically: around individuals and groups charismatic and/or powerful enough to get support. Then you are left with oligarchies, monarchies, and the like.
    Even from purely an anarchic economy standpoint, once transportation and communication evolved enough to allow easy connection between distant areas, things devolved into trusts. As transportation and communication improved, things got even worse.
    You still have the choice of removing yourself from the system you so disapprove of. As for the rest of us, we see it (for the most part) as protection from the unruly and unsavory elements. The laws and regulations we have established give us a way to deter, and, if we have to, punish those who hurt and deprive the masses. At the same time, those laws limit our methods of punishment to those that are not cruel or unusual.

    So as much as I would like to smack you upside the head for being so shortsighted and selfish, I'm not allowed to under the laws that our system has established. Under an anarchic system, the only reprisals I would fear would be those that you could come up with.

    Frankly, I don't trust you to respect my property lines, let alone not kill me for disagreeing with you. So I'll take the laws, thank you.

     

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  36.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Real piracy is bad, but file sharing and copying is not

    There is nothing wrong with copying information.

     

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  37.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    You are the one oppressing me, and getting your way. You and your kind steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from me every year. You are my biggest enemy. At least a robber or mafia does not pretend not to be my enemy. they have more honor. As Lysander Spooner observed.

    "Then you are left with oligarchies, monarchies, and the like."

    We have oligarchies now due to IP law and your beloved criminal state, and the modern democratic state is worse than monarchy was.

     

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  38.  
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    crade (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    China competes against the other countries fairly. They choose their laws and use those to compete, and the other countries choose theirs and use those.. Whats so unfair about that? Expecting everyone else to use your contries laws isn't "fair", it's unrealistic.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: confused approach

    I think there is an opportunity in this whole offshoring debate that can be tied to executive pay and the lack of minimum wages in the offshore market. Legislate that the maximum total pay (base pay, bonus, deferred income, etc.) of any employee, including the officers, top sales people, etc. to be no more than say 200 times the lowest paid employee, including contractors, here or overseas. Also, make at least 50% of that top pay be based upon company performance, including deferments of either costs or sales.

    I believe that several things will happen. First, the company will find ways to improve the pay of their lowest paid employees. They will also take particular notice of the pay their offshore contractors receive. Over time (and a short period indeed) we will see offshore and lowest paid wages rise.

    If minimum wage is $10 an hour, a regular 40 hour 52 week employee will make $20,800 per annum which will give the top paid persons able to make $4,160,000 per annum. Not too bad, and far from the egregious compensation we see today at the top levels, often unearned as they get their pay whether the company performs well, or not.

    The numbers could be tweaked. By focusing on the maximum pay rather than the minimum wage, I do believe the market will make adjustments rather quicker.

    Of course, there may be unintended consequences of such a plan. I know you will let me know.

     

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  40.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:06am

    Re:

    Seems like, once again, you are trying to come up with a way to justify your crappy attacks.

    Do you ever get bored of trying to excuse your own bad behaviors?

    FTFY

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    "Legislation is not the way to make law."

    ?????

     

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  42.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Bad news for you guys, my mind went to the exact same place and it ain't so great.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    I understand that there are still some locations within the US where you can disappear completely off the grid. Perhaps this is an option for your concerns and desires.

     

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  44.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    Everyone should work for free for what I want to consume.

    I don't agree with that, but, there certainly have been plenty of times after watching some movie I have thought to myself: "Well, that piece crap did nothing more than insult my intelligence and I really should invoice the producer for wasting my time".

     

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  45.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It certainly should be possible to make a competitive CAD system without having to charge autodesk prices...

    It is. FreeCAD already has a pretty good start. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, (user GUI lacks quite a bit), but it's still a work in progress. It just needs a few more programmers who are sick of AutoDesk's crap. I was a CAD programmer/analyst in the 90's (R12 through 2000) who wrote extensive AutoLisp routines for years and FreeCAD seems to me to be a very good start.

     

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  46.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Open source for business

    You have someone to call support for you and I hope you're not paying that person/those people very much, because there's 0 skills required for that.

    I worked under someone like for a couple of years. Annoying as hell. We had a network shared b&w DeskJet printer that an entire department printed their emails and such to. It wasn't keeping up with demand, so he called our support company and told them we needed a larger diameter printer cable because not enough bits were getting through to the printer. They tried to explain things to him, but ended up finding a cable with a thicker plastic casing and installed it. A buddy of mine went to work for the support company a few years later and they were still laughing about that printer cable.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Shmerl, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    Are you a paid troll, or just have nothing useful to do?

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    Wow, that was some difficult. Can you please not fuck with my posts? I didn't say any of that.

    Glyn has posted a series of entries here, all of them are pretty much trying to downplay piracy, making it sound like a casual thing, nothing important, all trying to create the illusion that nothing is going on.

    It's really amusing... He apparently learned from Mike's posts in the last few years... soften them up, build them up, and then BOOM, you burst out a whole bunch of "we have already shown" and "previously we proved that" which is pretty much all bullshit opinion on opinion.

    WTG Glyn, you are truly kissing the bosses ass now!

     

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  49.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It certainly should be possible to make a competitive CAD system without having to charge autodesk prices

    It certainly would be without the insane level of patents and copyrights. The big name CAD software companies are playing the same game that Microsoft does with file formats for Office - and they'll try to sue into oblivion any free or low cost CAD software that's a threat. And much of the manufacturing equipment will only accept formats from the bag name companies. So there is a tremendous amount of legacy inertia to overcome.

     

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  50.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    Generations have been so brainwashed by the state. You are so used to thinking of law as legislation. See http://mises.org/daily/4147

    Or: http://blog.mises.org/10838/another-problem-with-legislation-james-carter-v-the-field-codes/

    "The re is a fascinating paper published in 1884 by James C. Carter, The Proposed Codification of Our Common Law: A Paper Prepared at the Request of The Committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York, Appointed to Oppose the Measure. This paper was an attack on David Dudley Field’s attempt to (legislatively) codify New York’s common law. Carter opposed replacing case law with centralized legislation. Carter notes that caselaw precedents are flexible and allow the judge to do justice (see also John Hasnas’s classic The Myth of the Rule of Law), while statutes are applied literally, even where injustice is done or the legislator did not contemplate this result. Thus, Carter argues, one of the worst effects of legislatively codifying law–replacing organically developed law with artificial statutes–is that it changes the role of courts and judges from one in which the judge searches for justice into mere squabbles over definitions of words found in statutes. As he said at pp. 86-86:

    " At present, when any doubt arises in any particular case as to what the true rule of the unwritten [i.e., judge-found, common-law developed] law is, it is at once assumed that the rule most in accordance with justice and sound policy is the one which must be declared to be the law. The search is for that rule. The appeal is squarely made to the highest considerations of morality and justice. These are the rallying points of the struggle. The contention is ennobling and beneficial to the advocates, to the judges, to the parties, to the auditors, and so indirectly to the whole community. The decision then made records another step in the advance of human reason towards that perfection after which it forever aspires. But when the law is conceded to be written down in a statute, and the only question is what the statute means, a contention unspeakably inferior is substituted. The dispute is about words. The question of what is right or wrong, just or unjust, is irrelevant and out of place. The only question is what has been written. What a wretched exchange for the manly encounter upon the elevated plane of principle!

     

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  51.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Glyn has posted a series of entries here, all of them are pretty much trying to downplay piracy, making it sound like a casual thing, nothing important, all trying to create the illusion that nothing is going on.

    Interesting view of things.

    Anyways, let's see all of your proof that piracy is actually causing economic harm to anyone and actually IS something important. Please. I would love to read it. Make it complete with facts, numbers and links. Throw in some cool graphs and charts too. Come'on, here's your chance to enlighten us with your side of this debate. We are waiting.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    I made you a digital sandwich, for free! Where should I send it? Do you want to pick it up? It has all the fixings on it!

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    AutoCAD and China

    The kind of software which is bootlegged is, broadly speaking, the kind of software which is useful to an individual or a small firm. Big companies tend to need software which is tailored to them, which, to a degree, reflects their internal organization.

    The big American manufacturers such as GM, Ford, Boeing, etc. do not use AutoCAD much-- they use other products, such as Dassault CATIA. There are a few products, automobiles and airplanes, which have a very high degree of mechanical complexity, and which support a special ecosystem of semi-custom software addressing their peculiar needs. Note that a high proportion of these manufacturers are in defense industries, not consumer goods industries. Dassault is of course best known for the Mirage fighter jet. I suppose people could pirate CATIA, but in practice, this has not become an issue. There is a far more limited pool of designers who know how to use CATIA, and CATIA designers will command higher wages than those who merely know AutoCAD. For that matter, knowing CATIA is probably more or less synonymous with having a general background familiarity with the customary design practices of either the automobile or aircraft industry. If you need to pay extra for specially skilled employees, you probably need special attention from the software vendor as well, which you can't get if you pirate the software. AutoDesk has never managed to break into this kind of market.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CATIA

    The thing about a toaster is that it is an object which is neither exceptionally complicated nor custom-designed, nor very subject to fashion cycles. Very few of its parts are performance-critical A toaster simply doesn't require a lot of design services. It is the sort of simple device which could reasonably be done by an Industrial Design student as a "capstone project" (thesis) for a bachelor's degree. If you pro-rate a single copy of AutoCAD out over, say, ten million toasters, that might work out to a twentieth of a cent per toaster or so. If you assume a hundred million toasters, the pro-rata share falls to a two-hundredth of a cent. The same principle applies more broadly-- if something is especially amenable to being made in China, there is a good chance that it will be a suitable Capstone project. Of course, this includes most common articles of use, most of the things you can buy at Wal-Mart.

    I recently got an alumni magazine from the University of Oregon's architecture and design school. Since I'm ex-anthropology, I don't know just how I got on that particular mailing list, but at any rate, there was a picture of a design class, together with the various different "flat-pack" chairs they had designed and built. They had been assigned to design chairs which could be made as kits, by cutting up sheets of plywood or particle board, and putting the parts in a box for the customer to assemble. Industrial apprenticeship has generally become much more precarious over the last thirty or forty years, and schools of engineering, architecture, and design have become rather more concerned with training students in the full range of skills necessary to actually make things to a commercial standard. Across the country, at various schools, perhaps a thousand students might have taken a similar course, and undertaken a similar project. Of course, Wal-Mart does not consider it remotely necessary for there to be a thousand different kinds of inexpensive chairs in mass-production at the same time.

    Buildings are custom-designed, designed to fit into available spaces. Quite a lot of construction work involves the modification of existing buildings. Buildings tend to differ fairly fundamentally from manufactured goods in that respect. AutoCAD is primarily for architects and civil engineers. The leading legal case involving AutoCAD, Vernor vs. AutoDesk, involved copies which had been originally sold to a firm of architects, a firm of architects, which, as I discovered on inquiry, is primarily known for renovations of beautiful old buildings. Architecture and civil engineering involves so much on-site work, that it is difficult to do it offshore. If a Chinese were to bootleg AutoCAD, it would probably be for the purpose of building a school, or a hospital, or a town hall in some sleepy provincial town somewhere in China.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    Hence, my "?????", for the only thing that made sense, but which was unstated, from the perspective of social norms would be a common law system controlled by some form of judicial decision-making. Even this, however, does have its drawbacks, not the least of which is the articulation of precedents governing future contested matters.

     

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  55.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    "And you are simply wrong. The state is always the problem."

    Argumentation by assertion is a common fallacy. You can't make or prove something is true simply by declaring it so.

    Also, nothing is always anything. The state is not always the problem. Sometimes it's the solution. It all depends.

     

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  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Open source for business

    Wow, how did he not get fired for being unqualified?

     

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

  57.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe we should enforce the laws we already have

    "Generations have been so brainwashed by the state. You are so used to thinking of law as legislation."

    Yes, because if I don't agree with you, I must have been brainwashed by the state. There's no possible way I could have thought about these issues deeply and clearly and come up with any conclusion other than your own.

    "See http://mises.org/daily/4147"

    Oh! You're a mises guy!

    Never mind.

     

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  58.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Open source for business

    Wow, how did he not get fired for being unqualified?

    Ahh. Well, I'll just say that he had won some sort of discrimination lawsuit against the company some years before and was "protected".

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re:

     

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

  60.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I didn't say any of that."

    I think that was TAC's point. His version of what you said is at least as accurate as what you actually said.

    "Glyn has posted a series of entries here, all of them are pretty much trying to downplay piracy, making it sound like a casual thing, nothing important, all trying to create the illusion that nothing is going on."

    Says you. I haven't interpreted his posts in that way at all.

     

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

  61.  
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    Greevar (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    How about this: Digital goods are free, but you have to pay for the labor it took to make it. That makes more sense to me than "I make this today and get paid for it for the rest of my life".

    It's simple really. If it takes X dollars to make a game, movie, or what have you, then that's how much you should ask for up front. If people really want it, they'll contribute to meeting that goal. They certainly can't make you do the work. If they don't pay, you don't do the work. Simple.

    Only when people meet your price are you obligated create anything. If you fail to complete it, don't expect to ever get funding ever again. People will keep paying you so long as you prove to them that you'll provide a valuable, satisfactory, and consistent service. Betray them and you'll never work in this town again, bub.

     

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  62.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re:

    There are plenty of programs available for individuals that are priced "reasonably." Or that's even free.

    Unfortunately, people then turn around and demand professional-grade applications like Photoshop or InDesign or AutoCad to be priced "reasonably." Or, at least, at a price that THEY consider to be reasonable.

    They then turn around and pirate Photoshop, rationalizing that it's justified due to its "unreasonable" price.

    Of course, since they pirated Photoshop just to tweak a few photos they never bought any of the other aforementioned reasonably priced software, which means that the people making it often give up and disappear... leading to a lack of reasonably priced software...

    Sigh.

     

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  63.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    A million copies at a buck a pop of a two hundred million dollar movie is 0.5% of the total production cost.

    The "marginal cost of production" has little to no bearing on the total cost of product creation. Keeping a couple of thousand developers and testers and managers working on a product like Adobe Creative Suite is NOT cheap. And that's not even counting the required infrastructure.

    If those costs are not met, then there is no product.

    Is that really so hard for you to understand?

     

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  64.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re:

    With many, many, many sources for reviews and opinions. With ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and Amazon and NetFlix. With today's social networks...

    With all of that, and you STILL spend time and money watching a piece of crap...

    You need to invoice yourself for being an idiot.

     

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  65.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re:

    How about this? A group of people invest their own time and money and make a product, and offer it for sale..

    You examine the product AFTER it's been completed, read the reviews and comments, and as such make an informed decision to buy it at the price asked. Price too high? You don't buy it. If too many people don't buy it, they go out of business and lose their investment. You lose nothing.

    Buy it, get it home and find out it's a stinker, you never buy from them again.

    Buy it and you're happy, and maybe you'll buy then next one they make.

     

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  66.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: confused approach

    Killercool: Don't bother.

    With him, there will always be someone else responsible for his problems. Always someone else keeping him down. Always someone else "stealing" "his" money. Always someone else....

     

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  67.  
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    LazDude2012 (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Sandwich

    Now, now... you didn't say "sudo"!

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, it is not hard to understand. Of course, if their costs are "high", and that in turn is a significant price driver, they they need to start using cheaper equipment, cheaper labor, cheaper facilities, cut back on their utility bills, etc.

    In the meantime, my needs/wants are more important than anything else, and I need/want a free copy of Photoshop CS5 with a full complement of third-party plugins. If I can't get it from them, then I will just pilfer a copy somewhere else. After all, it is not as if I would have bought it in the first place.

     

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

  69.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You need to invoice yourself for being an idiot.

    Lol. Fair enough and point taken.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    RIAA shills hold the patent on kissing the boss' ass. As far as I know they have not allowed others to make illegitimate copies of this act. So, no - Glyn is not participating in the application of lips to Mike's posterior, for that would be infringement.

     

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  71.  
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    Greevar (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because that's the old way and that won't work anymore? Video games are not a product. We're not talking about toasters and socks here. We're talking about data, infinitely copyable data. You can't treat it like a "product" because it isn't a product nor is it bound by the rules of physical goods. It's a service business. It requires a service business model. A movie or song is no more a "product" than the words I'm typing on this text box. It's too easy to copy a game, so you have to treat it like a service and monetize the development to the customer instead of the result.

     

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  72.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 9:51pm

    solution:

    the correct solution to the problem outlined is not, in fact, ridiculous laws stifling speech and destroying the Internet.

    it's import tariffs.

    there, your problem is solved.

    good night.

     

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  73.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 11th, 2012 @ 1:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because you can't work the Googles without a helper...

    FTFY - An Acronym taking the place of the phrase "Fixed That For You" Often used by people correcting trollish posts lacking anything of value and highlighting that simple fact.

    You posted random attack, with NOTHING to support it. It collapsed into a pile of sad on the floor, so I mopped it up into a new shape to ask you can actually justify anything you were saying. I did not "fuck" with your post, I improved it. Had I fucked with your post, it more likely would have read
    I AM A PAID INDUSTRY SHILL AND I AM MAKING A RANDOM ATTACK WITH NOTHING TO BACK IT UP! I SAID YOUR WRONG SO ITS TRUE. DON'T I LOOK HOT IN MY UNDERROOS?!
    Because I am a sarcastic bastard, this was mentioned in the talking points memo, management asks that you not just skim them any longer.

    Had you bothered to post your response to me as the original post, there could have been viable debate. You still would have ended up with your ass handed to you but you could have attempted to portray yourself as someone making a valid point. As it stands you began with an attack that was ill conceived and executed poorly. When called upon it you attempted to frame a well deserved sarcastic observation as me "fucking with your posts".

    Pull up the big boy pants if your going to run with us, if a simple FTFY post causes you to melt down I can only imagine the tears in your eyes reading this.

    0/10 - I gave you the favor of a lesson, learn to adapt or leave.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2012 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Have a look at DraftSight from Dassault Systemes as well. Cross platform (Win, Mac & Linux) as well.

     

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  75.  
    icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Feb 11th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Piracy

    Yes and no. Yes, we want to protect our foods and medicines; no, legislating alone doesn't do that; it is too prone to industrial lobbying.
    What is needed is a strong FDA (something too many politicians DON'T want, probably to appease their big business donors?); and to extend that analogy, clean up the absolutely insane IP laws we already have. Passing yet more laws only muddies the issue.

     

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  76.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 11th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Piracy

    We don't need an FDA (federal death administrtation) at all. The reason we have patents is the people are so confused about the nature of the federal governemtn and legislation. Get rid of the FDA AND patents.

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 12:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I could list a lot of free software that do everything Photoshop does, but I don't see the point in doing so, instead I am pointing to a new open source way of doing photorealistic illumination of skin in real time.

    http://www.iryoku.com/separable-sss-released

    All the textures can be done in Gimp.

    Also I want to see where is that scarcity there are many freeware and open source alternatives.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_raster_graphics_editors

     

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

  78.  
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    Niall (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    It's the American Way! (tm)

     

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

  79.  
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    Niall (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Piracy

    Then I presume you'll stop using the government-subsidised Internets and the government-subsidised roads and government-subsidised power and go and live in a log cabin somewhere, living off the sweat of your brow with home-built technology? No?

    We don't normally have mad libertarians in the UK, but you really are coming off as a caricature of one.

    The only half-way decent/sensible thing you've said is about not subsidising someone else's war (machine).

     

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  80.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Piracy

    I have no obligation to add to the injury your statist system does to me, by refraining from using roads etc. If anything you statists ought to refrain from using them, as it's your fault they exist. It's sad that you are so upset by someone like me just b/c I am unwilling to commit or condone aggression against you and your family. Sad.

    And Sean Gabb, a friend of mine in England is head of the Libertarian Alliance, and is quite as mad as I am, I assure you.

     

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  81.  
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    Niall (profile), Feb 15th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy

    So it's ok to benefit from it but you can still rail against it?

    Erm, what does aggression and condoning it have to do with anything? I don't see 'statism' as 'aggression' - I prefer to live in a society where I don't have to be armed, where I can walk into any hospital and be healed for free, and where I can (mostly) trust companies to actually be giving me products and services as advertised, without poisoning me and the environment.

    What you are advocating is anarchy - seen too many examples of that in the last few hundred years of European history - it becomes the tyranny of the majority, or just tyranny. This is why we evolved the rule of law, and continue to evolve it along with social mores.

    It's a shame, because I can admire some libertarian ideals, but this level of extremity is alongside "Britain for the British" or "All men are rapists!" which you can get at the opposite ends of the political scale.

     

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  82.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Feb 16th, 2012 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "... they need to start using cheaper equipment, cheaper labor, cheaper facilities..."

    Yep, let's take a good product and build it using fewer designers and by hiring cheaper, less experienced engineers. Let's cut back on R&D, do less testing, and reduce costs by doing less sales and marketing...

    And then let's wonder why no one buys our product any more.

    TAASTAAFL

     

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

  83.  
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    tracker1 (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Work around

    No, they'll simply spin off the lowest end of the company, then pay that company a flat "service fee" where they pay their employees less.

     

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


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