Even The Copyright Office Won't Obey Rules That Don't Make Sense In Reality

from the just-saying... dept

Law professor Rebecca Tushnet recently somewhat jokingly posted the following bit of irony that she found when going to the US Copyright Office for their hearings on DMCA exemptions:
law v. norms, or why anticircumvention law doesn't work

At the Copyright Office, waiting for the hearings to begin. I did not interact with this setup in any way:
Now, this might just be a silly picture, showing how someone at the Copyright Office chose not to obey the "rule" that the door shouldn't be propped open, but Tushnet's "joke" about this showing why anticircumvention law doesn't work, because societal norms trump the law every time, is an important and valuable point. The reason that there is so much infringement isn't because the laws aren't strong enough. It's not because there needs to be more education or greater enforcement. It's that people fundamentally don't believe the laws make sense. Trying to block circumvention doesn't work when the tools make it quite easy to circumvent, and the end result -- propping open the door or being able to do what you want with the content you legally purchased -- just makes too much sense. If only the folks at the Copyright Office recognized that this applies to a lot more than propping open a door, but to the area of the law that they constantly seek to expand.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 12:11am

    Someone reading way too much into a very basic situation. Sort of shows how desperate people are to play the nasty political game of caught you, right?

    Lawyer needs to stick to the law.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 12:18am

    Re:

    Or, um, a joke.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    JMT, May 18th, 2012 @ 12:34am

    "...societal norms trump the law every time..."

    Can all copyright maximalists be forced to write this on the board 100 times please!

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 12:41am

    Re:

    Reality: a lawyer notices something that neatly illustrates why the current legal battles are not working and will never really work, and makes a joky blog post about it.

    AC fantasy interpretation: lawyer is desperate and wants to drag people into nasty political games in order to further some unknown agenda.

    Your world is a scary, strange place, fella. Join us in reality, it's much nicer.

    "Lawyer needs to stick to the law."

    ...and I presume she is. Nobody else is sticking to it though, for the reasons she mentioned, which is kind of the point...

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 18th, 2012 @ 12:59am

    You Realize ...

    ... those are fire-safety doors?

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:03am

    Re:

    It's a joke, but you'd be surprised how often organisations are keen to repeat the lesson of, "If you can't be trusted with the smaller procedures and rules how are people supposed to trust you with the larger ones?". I don't know why you think copyright should be exempt from all conventions of basic accountability and protocol.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:12am

    nothing to do with copyright, lawyers should learn to stick to law, couple reasons come to mind, yeha, fire doors, or more likely air conditioning, different zones etc...

    way to pick out something that has absolutely no bearing on your point of view, but in your pirate mindset, this makes perfect sense

    lets also repeal speed limit laws, murder laws, well, hell, any law we dont like, cause "tools make it quite easy to circumvent"

    Your pirate mindset is interferring with my right to do whatever I want with property you legally bought

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 1:26am

    "lawyers should learn to stick to law"

    How dare a person have an opinion that's outside of their job, especially one made in jest!

    "Your pirate mindset is interferring with my right to do whatever I want with property you legally bought"

    Not sure if troll or seriously considers this a right...

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:32am

    Re:

    >nothing to do with copyright, lawyers should learn to stick to law, couple reasons come to mind, yeha, fire doors, or more likely air conditioning, different zones etc...
    way to pick out something that has absolutely no bearing on your point of view, but in your pirate mindset, this makes perfect sense

    Learn to use quotation marks next time, hurricane head.

    >lets also repeal speed limit laws, murder laws, well, hell, any law we dont like, cause "tools make it quite easy to circumvent"

    Where in the article was the repealing of laws mentioned?

    >Your pirate mindset is interferring with my right to do whatever I want with property you legally bought

    If I legally buy something you don't have a right to do whatever you want to it. First sale doctrine and all that. "Pirate mindset" has nothing to do with it.

    I'm not sure if you're the real hurricane head or trying to mimic him, but if you're the latter, you're doing a great job.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    MP, May 18th, 2012 @ 2:12am

    Analogy

    Genuine question:
    If we take this analogy further:
    Should we abolish speed limits since nobody respects them anyway because they don't believe they make sense? (= abolish copyright)

    Or should we make it impossible to exceed speed limits with automatic speed limitation in all cars? (= limit technology that allows copyright infringement)

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 2:25am

    Re: Analogy

    That's something of a false dichotomy, don't you think? There's a lot of possibilities between the two extremes you posit.

    It's interesting that you pick speeding as an example, though. Most people will obey speed limits within reason (though few have problems going slightly over the speed limit, especially in quiet traffic and clear weather). As long as the limit is reasonable, people don't mind following it.

    You will notice, however, that people tend to get rather angry when it's over-enforced, the fines are too high or they feel it's being used as a revenue stream rather than to punish/deter offenders. They will indulge in civil disobedience, ranging from flaunting the speed limit, ignoring and fighting tickets, to even vandalising speed cameras. This is for a law that is put into place to save lives and increase road safety.

    Now try to imagine why people don't care for following rules that only translate to the profits of a corporation, especially where no legal options are presented. There's definitely a lot of options they can try to stop this, but they have picked only one tactic so far - and it is failing miserably.

     

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

  12.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re:

    Because it's like quantum physics: either you don't know where you're going or you don't know how fast things are moving.

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    drew (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 3:59am

    Re: Re: Analogy

    Or, to extend this further, should we damage the road surface of all roads to ensure that people are unable to speed on some roads?

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 4:22am

    Re:

    In that sense you are doing it spectacularly right.

    Troll needs to stick to the trolling.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 4:38am

    Re: Analogy

    using the speed limit thing is actually a good idea. In my life time, it was a Federal Speed limit of 55MPH. 55 stay alive! That was the *max* speed limit in the US. Now its 65, and now there is talk to bump it up to 75-80. As times change, cars can handle higher speeds and still meet the safety requirements needed. So as these change, so does the law.
    Carry that over to IP laws and the like, these laws have not changed with the times, its trying to change contrary to the times. its trying to bring people BACKWARDS.

    Lets do the murder one. Murder used to be illegal. Period, doesn't matter what the reason was. Now it has exceptions such as self defense, accidental death. it works at trying to look at the not so black and white of it all.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 4:48am

    Re: Analogy

    "Should we abolish speed limits since nobody respects them anyway because they don't believe they make sense? (= abolish copyright)"

    Actually...

    It's been proven that not having speed limits doesn't (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)

    So, if we use your comparison...

    Abolishing copyright would make for some awesome innovations, no?

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Analogy

    "It's been proven that not having speed limits doesn't (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)"

    GUH! That's what I get for posting so early in the morning!

    It's been proven that not having speed limits (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)

    There, that's more accurate!

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 4:56am

    Re: You Realize ...

    relevance?

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 5:02am

    Re: Analogy

    no but maybe the consequences should be more reasoanble.

    if i get caught doing 80 in a 50, ill be looking at a hefty, several hundred dollar fine and maybe some points on my license

    on the other hand, if get caught sharing a few songs.... well you know how that ends

    theres your stupid car analogy. still think it works?


    and why are you comparing copyright infringement to murder?

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    hfbs (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: You Realize ...

    If there was a fire, the door would be closed, shutting off oxygen supply to the fire and reducing its spread.

    That said, it's conceivable that the door has to be propped open sometimes - say, for example, you're carrying several heavy/cumbersome items through it and it's nonsensical to close and open it every time. Or, perhaps there's people either side of the door and need to communicate effectively and the closed door prevents that.

    In short, yeah, it's probably safer to keep it closed. But sometimes, it's just inconvenient.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    MP, May 18th, 2012 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Analogy

    Chill out
    I'm not comparing copyright infringement to murder, somebody else did.

    And yes my "stupid" speed limit analogy works well you've just used it to demonstrate that penalties for copyright infringement are exorbitant.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 6:13am

    Re:

    They'd refuse on account that copying(rewriting) is illegal.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    IronM@sk, May 18th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: You Realize ...

    In short, yeah, it's probably safer to keep it closed. But sometimes, it's just inconvenient.

    Like anti-circumvention technology?

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Analogy

    Speed bumps?

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 6:28am

    Re: Analogy

    But, you know, most cops will ignore you even if you're 5 mph over the speed limit. So even the enforcement shows some buffer and flexibility. (=drm circumvention for personal use)

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re:

    I'm sure Mike wouldn't mind. I'm sure these posts are covered by a Creative Commons license or are released to the public domain.

    If they didn't want to write it on the board, by hand please and not inside a "while" or "if then, else loop", we could invite them to the next meeting of Freetards Revolutionary Front.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    They should get fined thousands of dollars for breaking that policy just like those who infringe get fined ridiculous sums of money for doing something that's not wrong.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You Realize ...

    Like anti-circumvention technology?
    Well, except that a closed fire door has a large chance of fulfilling its stated function of slowing the spread of fire thus preserving life and anti-circumvention technology has a mathematically-indistinguisable-from-zero chance of fulfilling its stated function of preventing unauthorised use or copying... yes I guess so.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re: Analogy

    Should we abolish speed limits
    Way to go with the false dichotomy. Yes absolutely the same... except completely differnt. But just to ruin an already crap anlogy even further, research tends to show that driving a little over the posted speed limit can in fact be statistically safer since posted limits often do not meet the 85th percentile speed for the road.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Analogy

    ...Becoming illegal in some areas because of the damage and risk to vehicles. Ironic, isn't it?

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    An unscientific poll of 22 14-year-olds indicates they have little idea what copyright is and think suing people for sharing with friends is against everything they were taught in kindergarten. 15 used the word "stupid" at some point in the conversation.

    These things called social norms, we teach them to our kids and then legislate against them.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You Realize ...

    Closed fire door policies are intended to serve a public interest, to maintain public safety. IP laws are intended to serve a plutocratic interest, to exploit the public. See the difference.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Analogy

    I don't think 65 is the max. I've seen 70 and 75 in many places.

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2012 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: Analogy

    OOO can we buy some 'stand your ground' equivalent law for copying?

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This