Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the commentary-on-commenting dept

Last week, I noted that the winner's roster was dominated by replies to one of our resident dissenters. Not to be outdone, one of the other more disruptive presences here ignited a firestorm of nearly 500 comments, largely by asking the same question over and over again and rejecting all answers that didn't satisfy his mysterious and ever-shifting requirements. The end result? This week's post is pretty meta, because both of the Most Insightful winners are comments responding to a troll responding to a post about winning comments in response to trolls. Got that? Let's get started with Chrono S. Trigger, who refuted both the moral argument and the assertion that it's wrong to call these commenters trolls:

Economically speaking, it doesn't matter if it's moral or amoral. Morally speaking, it doesn't matter if it's legal or not. Legally speaking, it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong. Realistically speaking, it doesn't matter if it's moral, legal, or right. You see how nothing actually relates in this situation? The fact that you won't acknowledge the fact that reality does not line up with the law any more speaks volumes about you.

Here's where you may be getting confused. Copyright isn't actually a right, it's a privilege granted to you for a limited time by the people who copyright is suppose to benefit, us, the public. So when you start talking morality, you're already off track when talking about copyright. If you want to talk morality, then it's moral to ignore copyright because copyright itself has become amoral (wasn't when it was created, now it is).

As for trolls, while you may bring an argument or two to the table, the people you chose to defend demonize and dehumanize themselves. They chose to come here, insult everyone indiscriminately, ignore any logic, and then leave without providing responses, logic, or evidence of their own. We don't do that to them, we just follow the path they laid out for themselves.

Then, an anonymous commenter took second place with a reply to Chrono, expanding on his point to note that the deeper moral right is on the side of the public:

Personally, I would take this a step further back and point out that copyright is a suspension of everyone else's right to do as they please with elements of culture, that there is no inherent exclusive natural right to exclude others from copying your book or song or whatever. It is, instead, an artificial marketplace convenience founded on suspending everyone else's natural rights.

If you want to get moral about it, copyright is a slight immorality that we all tolerate so long as copyright results in a net benefit to society.

For Editor's Choice on the insightful side, first up we've got dennis deems on our post about Disney's misrepresentation of the secret of its success. Dennis laid out some specifics about how Disney's current copyright philosophy clashes with the original roots of its creativity:

The seventh edition of Grimms' fairy tales, source of Snow White, was published in 1857. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865. Collodi's Pinocchio was published in 1883. Kipling's The Jungle Book was published in 1894. If these works had been subject to Disney's hypocritical 100 year copyright prison, Disney would have had to pay for the privilege of making its feature films based on them, to say nothing of the corresponding merchandising. One wonders whether Snow White or Pinocchio would have been made at all. These are the works on which Disney built its empire, and it was able to use them because they were not subject to preposterous copyright claims. Under the terms that were in effect when Disney's version of Snow White was made, the film, its score, and all the characters and visuals associated with it, ought to have entered public domain DECADES ago. This is the point. Disney drinks deep from the well of public domain but contrives to prevent that well ever from being replenished.

Up next we've got an anonymous comment (which also holds a close third place in the voting) that puts HBO's refusal to go direct in some comparative context:

Blockbuster didn't want to cannibalize their video sales with streaming options

Kodak didn't want to cannibalize their film products with digital

HBO didn't want to cannibalize their cable products with standalone internet offerings

On the Funny side, the winner is MrWilson on our post about EU Commission VP Neelie Kroes explaining how copyright was built for a world of gatekeepers. MrWilson parodied the fundamental argument of many copyright maximalists:

In my day, young people respected gates. They knew who kept the gates and they knew that they had to pay the toll if they wanted in. They didn't just jump over the gates like kids these days. They didn't have the technology to get over the gates. They had to go through them! They never questioned why we put the gates up either. I tell you, we need to do away with this new technology that allows gate-jumping or else things won't remain exactly the same as when I was making all that money off of charging a toll for use of the gate. I even put up a gate around my yard, but the kids just jump that gate too. Now I have to go outside and yell at them, "hey kids, stay off my lawn!" No respect, I tell you.

/dinosaur rant

I am inadvertently and indirectly responsible for the second-place comment, by way of something I mentioned (about carrots not actually being good for your eyesight) in the Insider Chat, which made its way into our post about first-person shooters actually being good for your eyesight, which in turn inspired Beech to parody the typical troll response:

Leave it to Mike "pants on fire" masnick to once again post his opinions as irrefutable fact! I happen to know, for a fact, from first hand experience, that carrots are yucky! I think it is time for both Mike and my mommy to come out and admit that they're in the pockets of Big Vegetable.

For the first Editor's Choice, we've got an anonymous comment on our post about the MPAA's propagan-tastic facts for politicians. This AC noted that they may be selling themselves short:

$42.1 billion in wages from direct industry jobs and distributing $37.4 billion in payments to nearly 278,000 businesses around the country in 2010.

These numbers are most likely low. They don't even mention how much they spend buying politicians.

Finally, because it's a pet peeve of all the editors, we've got a response to a commenter (who obviously hasn't spent much time here) complaining that the subject of dead authors' estates does not belong on a blog called Techdirt. An anonymous commenter wholeheartedly agreed:

Yeah, precisely. What does this have to do with Dirt?

Indeed. That's all for this week—join us tomorrow when we get back to our roots with an exposé on keyboard gunk and a feature about VCR head-cleaning tapes, the Boston Strangler's washcloth of the film industry.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    A good week

    Definitely a good week from the funny side of the street Mike. Your recap had me howling! :-)

    To paraphrase a great old song (sorry Maybelle):

    Keep on the funny side
    Always on the funny side
    Keep on the funny side of life.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    To be fair, my remark about nothing to do with Dirt is not the first such turnabout remark, but I'm somewhat pleased to have made into the list.

    I still think my remark about neither bob nor average_joe believing in sharing should've made it though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    "Copyright isn't actually a right, it's a privilege granted to you for a limited time by the people who copyright is suppose to benefit, us, the public. "

    I think this is possibly the most ignorant comment of the week as well. While you may feel copyright is a privilege, I would say that access to huge amounts of art, books, movies, music, and the like is an incredible privilege, and that the public benefits endlessly from it. I haven't seen a single person on here come up with a compelling argument as to why the public isn't benefiting. Those who try generally fall into quoting some copyrighted work, which explains that not only have they seen or hear it, but they know enough people have benefited from it to understand what they are saying.

    When you start out with an ignorant point of view, the rest falls in place. It's funny as hell to watch all the sheeple pushing the "insightful" button, thinking they agree with something smart, when they are in fact agreeing with something stupid.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 6:42pm

    See how quiet things are when I'm not around? Zzzzzzz. ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    We're talking about people creating derivative works. Not just consumers.

     

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    CK20XX, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:06pm

    Re:

    Except that even if that's true, the public has not abused their privileges. The copyright holders have. They are bent on destroying everything in the name of infringement. Video game playthroughs, negative business feedback, the songs of birds, footage of scientific missions to Mars, award ceremonies, national conventions; nothing is sacred to them. What's worse, whenever you try to appease those bullies, they just say you aren't trying hard enough and demand more and more.

    Even if the internet wasn't already making copyright an obsolete invention, it would still be too good for copyright holders.

     

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    Beech, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:13pm

    Re:

    " I would say that access to huge amounts of art, books, movies, music, and the like is an incredible privilege, and that the public benefits endlessly from it."

    Oh, and it is! But what does that have to do with copyright? Art, books, music, and the like were being created well before copyright existed (not movies, but that was because they werent invented yet...had plenty of plays though).

    " I haven't seen a single person on here come up with a compelling argument as to why the public isn't benefiting."

    Again, the public benefits from culture. As it would regardless of copyright's existence.

    " Those who try generally fall into quoting some copyrighted work, which explains that not only have they seen or hear it, but they know enough people have benefited from it to understand what they are saying."

    Maybe you should have quoted a copyrighted work here, because i have no damn clue what you're trying to say.


    The fun part of your comment is that even if someone agreed with every point you have made, that you still haven't disproven copyright is a privilege, or that it is supposed to benefit the public. So I have no idea why your quoted comment should be considered "ignorant"

     

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    charliebrown (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

    I look forward to the article on VCR head cleaning tapes :)

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    Yeah, the world needs people like you who make bullshit comments and pretend that your questions went unanswered when they were answered or we would be deprived of the LOLfest that is politics.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Re:

    "Oh, and it is! But what does that have to do with copyright? Art, books, music, and the like were being created well before copyright existed (not movies, but that was because they werent invented yet...had plenty of plays though)."

    Yet, we have created more in the last 50 years than the 500 years before that. I call that a success, don't you?

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yet, we have created more in the last 50 years than the 500 years before that. I call that a success, don't you?

    I would call it a success if all those works were in the public domain, or at least the things created more than 20 years ago.

    Tell me when that happens and I'll say that copyright is benefiting the public.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    "that didn't satisfy his mysterious and ever-shifting requirements."

    Are you aspiring to be a prick like Mike?

    The requirements aren't shifting, it's just hard as hell to pin anyone here down to any real answers, all you even seem to give back is smug or smarmy answers that don't add up to much.

    Combined with a total ignorance of the opposing viewpoints (Mike filters those out for your feeble minds) makes it hard to have a full on discussion.

    My hats off this week to Average_Joe for holding you guys feet to the fire, and not stopping until we could all smell smoke. As soon as you guys realized you were up against someone with a little persistence, the barbs, the insults, and the ridicule came out big time. That didn't stop him from making most of you look like immoral thieves.

    A great week - just not for the home team!

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re:

    Huh? My question to Mike was simple: I asked whether he thinks someone downloading movies via bittorrent because they don't want to pay for them is immoral. He refused to ever give a direct answer. What do you think his answer is to that question?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

    Re:

    Many thanks. Watching Mike run away when asked direct questions about his beliefs is just priceless. Man, he can squirm.

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

    Re:

    It is not a question of whether the public is benefiting. It is a question of how much the copyright holder should benefit. Note that the copyright holder is not the creator in all cases.

    Why should a 'creator' make more than a mason? Why should a 'creator' make more than an electrician? Why should a 'creator' make more than a baker? etc.?

    The entitlement expressed by the pro-IP maximalists smacks of greed, not of compensation. Is there a sensible reason that 'creators' should make more than "non" creators?

    With patents and copyright 'creators' get a leg up due to the supposedly limited monopoly. Where does the administrative assistant that creatively makes their boss look good get on that bandwagon? Where does the baker that creatively expresses the desires of the cutomer get on that bandwagon? Where does the nurse who creatively gets a patient into a positive frame of mind to better their recovery get on that bandwagon? etc.?

    Just how long do you think the public should put up with the 'entitlements' expressed by the IP maximalists?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:26pm

    Re:

    It is a privilege. It is not a right. A human right doesn't automatically end after an arbitrary number of years. I have the right to free speech: to free assembly: to live and work where I see fit etc. I have never heard of a human right that I lose after fourteen years (the original length of copyright) or whatever arbitrary number you pick.
    Copyright is the only so-called "right" that DOES have an ending (at least it would have if the Mickey Mouse Coalition didn't have its way every couple of decades).

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Here's something for you to do. Find me a work and its author and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that copyright is the main reason that work exists and that the author created it. As in any other market, the author has to take a risk when selling his product, so he'd still have to convince people to buy, regardless if he lived in a world with or without copyright. And then, find me a purchaser of a work who says the main reason he bought is because the author holds a copyright.

    I'll be waiting.

     

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  18.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Huh...I see you've changed your avatar. Care to explain where you got the previous one from, if it wasn't from Dodgeball?
    Mike has answered you. He has explained that his answer CANNOT be simple. You are asking him to give an OBJECTIVE MORALITY answer to a question that asks about SUBJECTIVE MORALITY.
    Now fuck off. We don't want you around here if all you're going to do is scream for Mike to answer you. In fact, why doesn't Mike get a restraining order on you? If this was real life, you'd be following him everywhere, constantly hounding him.
    Since you'll never be happy with any answer Mike gives, there is no point in you constantly asking.

     

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  19.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

    Re:

    The requirements DID shift. At first, Joe was talking about the legality of copyright infringement, and then later on switched to the morality argument. Legality and morality are not the same thing! Go back to the other Funniest/Insightful comments article and look for comment 462.

     

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  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re:

    You were the one who, on Thursday 13th September, kept asking for him to reply and saying he obsesses over your comments. That article you were commenting on? It was from the SUNDAY before! The way things work on Techdirt is that an article gets 99.99% of its comments and views on the day its written and the day after. Mike is one of those sane people who wouldn't continue to stalk the comments of a four day old article, so constantly saying four days later "I'm waiting" is completely pointless.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 9:00pm

    Re:

    So in other words, you're happy because you got someone to insist that we were all thieves - more persistently than you might usually do - and that counts as a victory.

    Fantastic. The way you maximalists broadbrush everyone almost justifies piracy, the same way that the MPAA has done. If you're going to be treated as a pirate instead of a legitimate customer why the hell would you not be one?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 9:34pm

    Re: Re:

    Personally I don't give two shits about his beliefs, or your's. I don't live in a world of make-believe where 'belief' trumps 'fact.' Once you can start showing facts (not quoting laws to me like a bot), I might pay more attention to you. Until then, you're just another whiny troll.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 9:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, what a bunch of bullshit standards you try to apply.

    Let's start with your first piece of bullshit:

    "Find me a work and its author and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that copyright is the main reason that work exists and that the author created it."

    Beyond a reasonable doubt? Are we in a court of law here? Come off it.

    However, you can look at any author who makes a career of it as an example. Let say Stephen King. Without being able to do this full time, do you honestly think he would have written as many books? Remember, copyright isn't just an ownership, but all the mechanisms that exist to market, license, and eventually sell copies commercially.

    "find me a purchaser of a work who says the main reason he bought is because the author holds a copyright."

    I don't think anyone goes "wow, it's copyright, gotta buy it", but see the previous point. Copyright allowed Stephen King to write the books and to license them for sale, to which someone purchases them. Without copyright, it's doubt ful the sale would have happened (in part because it's doubtful the book would have been written).

    Out of curiosity, what name do you use when you seed your Japanese porn on torrents?

     

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  24.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Having actually read some of Stephen King's works...I know how he writes. He's the kind of author who would just continuously write his books, regardless of his income levels. So...bad example to use there.
    Also...why are you interested in what, if any, types of pornography I view, and how I obtain them?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:15pm

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

    "He's the kind of author who would just continuously write his books, regardless of his income levels."

    FAIL! You didn't even read what I said. Without income, Mr King would probably still be working odd jobs to pay the bills, time away from writing. Without copyright in place, he wouldn't have had a system by which he could have sold his first short stories, nor made the income to continue to write stories after that point.

    He might have written some stories in his life, he is a good writer. But clearly, without the time to do writing, he would have instead been a wage slave.

    So, thanks for proving my point. I don't think you have any intention of accepting sane and reasonable answers. Being a zealot doesn't make your points reasonable, you know?

    "why are you interested in what, if any, types of pornography I view, and how I obtain them?"

    It's only because you strike me as someone who goes to the local video store, rents Japanese porn,and then rips it and seeds it on the internet. You have the right attitude for the "job".

     

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    techflaws (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    He refused to ever give a direct answer.

    You mean, like you when I asked you concerning this statement of yours?

    But there is in fact copyright, and people cannot copy as they please.

    Which they do anyway despite your constant whining about how it's wrong. Now what?

     

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  27.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:23pm

    Re:

    Mike filters those out for your feeble minds

    Always funny to read this from AC jackasses who keep shooting ad homs. Keep up the whining.

     

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  28.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Man, he can squirm.

    Says the guy who keep going on about morality which the majority of downloaders obviously don't care. Enjoy being right!

    BTW, have you checked your kids' cell phones/laptops for infringing stuff in the meantime?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:33pm

    Re: Re:

    "Why should a 'creator' make more than a mason? Why should a 'creator' make more than an electrician? Why should a 'creator' make more than a baker? etc.?

    The entitlement expressed by the pro-IP maximalists smacks of greed, not of compensation. Is there a sensible reason that 'creators' should make more than "non" creators? "

    There is no entitlement, except the right to control how your work is sold or distributed. If people feel that paying X or Y for those rights is worth it, then you have a business.

    Why compare art to someone who makes something on demand for a single person? Electricians sell their time, masons sell their time. Writers sell a product. Are you suggesting Apple should sell their Ipads based on the hourly wage it takes to make them?

    I would say that your arguments are not very strong here, you are trying to do apples and oranges and coming up with nothing more than a messy, tasteless pulp.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:35pm

    Re: Re:

    "Why should a 'creator' make more than a mason? Why should a 'creator' make more than an electrician? Why should a 'creator' make more than a baker? etc.?"

    Where is it shown that they do make more?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What facts are you talking about? Please tell me it is not the litany of economic studies that are regularly bandied about here as proof-positive supporting Techdirt's economic opinions.

     

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  32.  
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    Greevar (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    How do we create far more works today than we did 50-500 years ago? TECHNOLOGY.

    It was technology that enabled people to create more works more often, not copyright. Correlation doesn't not equate to causation.

     

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  33.  
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    Greevar (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 10:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's pure grade-A bullshit. Copyright didn't enable Stephen King to write books, his skill at writing and publisher marketing power enabled Stephen King to write books.

    Copyright is meaningless to an author that nobody wants to read. An author that writes books people want to read is what makes it happen. You're delusional if you think copyright made it happen.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Writers do not sell a product. Products are physical things that can be transferred from one person to another; they are a thing that can be held exclusively. The publishers sell a product. They print the books on paper and glue them into hard or paperback binding. They make the good known as a "product". The writer performs a service to create the words they print in that book.

    What's not very strong is your assertion of reality.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 11:12pm

    Re: Re:

    That would be the law of expectant behavior. Sociology 101.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 16th, 2012 @ 11:31pm

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

    The failure is yours. You assume that copyright makes it possible for Stephen King to make his fortune from writing, but that ignores reality. Like I said in my other comment, Stephen King did well as a writer because he's a good writer and had access to a publisher with great marketing talent. Any and every artist needs two main things to be a success above all else: Great content people want and the ability to tell as many people as possible about it. Nobody will pay you squat if your writing sucks and nobody will pay you if they don't know you exist. Copyright achieves neither of those things.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:11am

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

    "Stephen King did well as a writer because he's a good writer and had access to a publisher with great marketing talent."

    Yes, and without a structure under which he could sell that book, he is left with nothing except a nice feeling and probably a day job.

    See, you have it reversed. Copyright doesn't make it possible to write. Copyright makes it possible for him to sell what he writes, and therefore be able to write more (and work other jobs less).

    A non-copyright model would mean that his book, once written and even a single copy released could be picked up by any other printer, copies knocked off, and sold to whoever would pay. THe money wouldn't come back to King, who in turn would have to earn his money in some other way.

    " Nobody will pay you squat if your writing sucks and nobody will pay you if they don't know you exist. Copyright achieves neither of those things."

    Nobody expects to be paid if their writing is shitty. Can you get away from the idea of this concept that people feel entitled to some sort of magic income because of copyright? Nobody I know thinks like that, this is just another wonderful strawman set up by Mike and his buddies to try to define the copyright holders as evil.

    A crappy writer is a crappy writer, and no matter the system, they won't make money. Copyright doesn't enter into it.

    Why do you insist on using horrible stereotypes and crappy strawmen as the basis of your arguments? Can't you see quite simply how stupid an argument you are using?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:11am

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

    "Stephen King did well as a writer because he's a good writer and had access to a publisher with great marketing talent."

    Yes, and without a structure under which he could sell that book, he is left with nothing except a nice feeling and probably a day job.

    See, you have it reversed. Copyright doesn't make it possible to write. Copyright makes it possible for him to sell what he writes, and therefore be able to write more (and work other jobs less).

    A non-copyright model would mean that his book, once written and even a single copy released could be picked up by any other printer, copies knocked off, and sold to whoever would pay. THe money wouldn't come back to King, who in turn would have to earn his money in some other way.

    " Nobody will pay you squat if your writing sucks and nobody will pay you if they don't know you exist. Copyright achieves neither of those things."

    Nobody expects to be paid if their writing is shitty. Can you get away from the idea of this concept that people feel entitled to some sort of magic income because of copyright? Nobody I know thinks like that, this is just another wonderful strawman set up by Mike and his buddies to try to define the copyright holders as evil.

    A crappy writer is a crappy writer, and no matter the system, they won't make money. Copyright doesn't enter into it.

    Why do you insist on using horrible stereotypes and crappy strawmen as the basis of your arguments? Can't you see quite simply how stupid an argument you are using?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:12am

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

    "Stephen King did well as a writer because he's a good writer and had access to a publisher with great marketing talent."

    Yes, and without a structure under which he could sell that book, he is left with nothing except a nice feeling and probably a day job.

    See, you have it reversed. Copyright doesn't make it possible to write. Copyright makes it possible for him to sell what he writes, and therefore be able to write more (and work other jobs less).

    A non-copyright model would mean that his book, once written and even a single copy released could be picked up by any other printer, copies knocked off, and sold to whoever would pay. THe money wouldn't come back to King, who in turn would have to earn his money in some other way.

    " Nobody will pay you squat if your writing sucks and nobody will pay you if they don't know you exist. Copyright achieves neither of those things."

    Nobody expects to be paid if their writing is shitty. Can you get away from the idea of this concept that people feel entitled to some sort of magic income because of copyright? Nobody I know thinks like that, this is just another wonderful strawman set up by Mike and his buddies to try to define the copyright holders as evil.

    A crappy writer is a crappy writer, and no matter the system, they won't make money. Copyright doesn't enter into it.

    Why do you insist on using horrible stereotypes and crappy strawmen as the basis of your arguments? Can't you see quite simply how stupid an argument you are using?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow.

    "Writers do not sell a product."

    Sure they do. They sell copies of their writings.

    "The writer performs a service to create the words they print in that book."

    Hahahahaha. God, you are trying so hard to redefine things, that you screw yourself up. Nobody buys blank books (except as a novelty). The book is a carrier for the product, the written word.

    Stop trying to turn things around, you are failing horribly.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:24am

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

    "That's pure grade-A bullshit. Copyright didn't enable Stephen King to write books, his skill at writing and publisher marketing power enabled Stephen King to write books. "

    I have a feeling english isn't your first language. You seem to have some real problems with the basics here.

    No, copyright didn't teach Stephen King to write, nor does it suddenly give him a gift to write. It does, however, allow him to sell his writing in a manner which allows him to have the time to write more and work other jobs less.

    Stop trying to turn things around, your poor grasp of the English language means that you fail at every turn.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Says the guy who keep going on about morality which the majority of downloaders obviously don't care"

    Thieves and criminals are rarely moral. It's probably why it's hard to have a discussion about it here. Is that one of your flaws?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Saything things forcefully doesn't mean anything. The ability to distribute does not equate with the ability to write.

    Use your same (twisted logic) If copyright doesn't help Stephen King to write, why do you think the internet does? It's only a carrier, only a blank book.

    Sorry, but you just argued yourself into a corner, your own logic defeats your silly notions.

     

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    explicit coward (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:58am

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

    "Yes, and without a structure under which he could sell that book, he is left with nothing except a nice feeling and probably a day job."


    He is not selling "the book", he is selling the service of writing the book. He could sell that service with or without copyright in existence. People like Stephen King will always be in high demand, because they have something scarce that other people want: They have the ability to express interesting thoughts and bring them into a form compelling to others.

    Copyright has nothing to do with the scarce part. It only seemed as if, because the distribution channels were scarce too: Printing was (and still is) a costly business. Only a few people had the means to do it and therefore copyright was a useful and enforceable tool to convey the initial creator's scarcity into a sellable scarce product.

    Nowadays the distribution channels aren't scarce anymore. Anyone with a decent cellphone holds the capability to endlessly replicate a written piece in his or her hands. Where there once were a manageable number of publishers you now have countless legions of potential publishers. In such a scenario copyright is neither useful nor enforceable.

    Deal with it.

     

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  45.  
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    Beech, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "However, you can look at any author who makes a career of it as an example."

    William Shakespeare. Christopher Marlowe. Edmund Spencer. John Milton. Full time authors all, and all before copyright was invented. Want examples of pre-copyright musicians and artists too?

     

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  46.  
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    Beech, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Yet, we have created more in the last 50 years than the 500 years before that. I call that a success, don't you?"

    citation needed.

    And who says that has anything to do with copyright? By your logic we should have started producing a HUGE amount of stuff as soon as the statute of anne dropped, and absolutely nothing before it. maybe it has something to do with....

    -technology advancing to make it cheaper and easier to produce things
    -the fact that there are more people on the planet, so the overall percentage of people who create may well be the same
    -the fact that we now have public education, so there are more people who can read, write, play instruments, etc.
    -the labor movement standardizing a 40 hour work week so people have time to create stuff instead of laboring in the field all day

     

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  47.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:17am

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

    Nope, I've never rented from a local video store. Even if I had, the ones near me don't stock pornography.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, there's been major technological invention allowing for easier creation and more widespread distribution. Like the internet. That does NOT prove copyright is to be credited for it. At all.

     

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  49.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thieves and criminals are rarely moral.
    So? What does it have to do with filesharers?

    It's probably why it's hard to have a discussion about it here.
    Right, cause there's no other reason whatsoever for being concerned with IP maximalists' underhanded tactics. Still, even for all your feeling superior to other commenters in this thread, you still haven't managed to explain what's the benefit on focusing on the moral issue when it won't earn rightsholders any more money (let alone sympathies).


    Is that one of your flaws?
    You must be new hear when you actuall consider a quip about my nick being some kind of witty argument. Fits with your general debating style though.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's technology that is the huge enabler of creation and distribution: printing, computers, internet... Copyright is just a set of laws which can be harmful or useful, possibly both, as it's all a matter of balance.

    Pretending and implying Copyright is the mother of invention is a rather obscene talking point if you ask me.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 2:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Josh, copyright has been around since, what, 1776... I think a few works have trickled into the public domain ;)

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:01am

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

    Techology is a huge enabler - but so is an actual marketplace to do business in. Copyright isn't just some magic thing to lock things up content - it's also the basis for an entire marketplace. It's why much of the "new business" models tend to suck, because they can't cover it.

    In the end, a business model is as useful as a printing press, because you can't run one without the other (at least not for long).

    (ps: copyright isn't the mother of invention. Careful, you might get cut from all that straw you are using on your strawman).

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:08am

    Re: Re:

    The truth hurts. Mike presents one side of the story, and asks like it's everything. It's a filter for non-thinkers.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:14am

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

    "He could sell that service with or without copyright in existence. "

    This is a fail in so many ways. See, service is a "here and now" thing. It's direct and one on one. Writing is none of that. It's writing and book and then SELLING THE BOOK. If he was selling a service (like tech support) people couldn't take it and give it away or resell it after.

    A factor doesn't sell the service of assembly, it sells a finished product.

    Attempts to redefine reality are still failing. Deal with it.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Cowherd, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:38am

    Re: Re:

    Which is why you should never try to appease bullies.

     

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    explicit coward (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:42am

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

    "This is a fail in so many ways."

    True, because I failed to make you understand it. Maybe I should have given you a few historical examples how "creative work" or "entertainment service" was financed pre-copyright - but you ain't worth the effort.

    See, service is a "here and now" thing. It's direct and one on one.

    Ugh, so what exactly is "one on one" when the police patrols our streets? Here? Can't see any policemen around... And now? Don't know, as I've said, they ain't around but... it's still a service right? To "serve" and protect us, right?

    "Writing is none of that."

    Of course it is. Writing is a process - not a finished product.

    "It's writing and book and then SELLING THE BOOK."

    Only because you forcefully link two different and independent stages:

    1. Writing
    2. (Printing and) Selling the book.

    The first stage is where the (marketable) scarcity comes from. The second stage is the one that has become obsolete because there is no regulable scarcity in it. That you can't see that is not me redefining reality, it's you being BLIND to reality.

     

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  57.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But your argument is on the works created in the last 50 years.

    How much of that is in the public domain?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "However, you can look at any author who makes a career of it as an example. Let say Stephen King. Without being able to do this full time, do you honestly think he would have written as many books?"

    Yes, because we all now quantity is quality. /s

    If you actually go back and read the majority of Stephen King's works you'll find that in general his best works were written when he wasn't able to write full time, and was instead working various jobs from being a cashier at a convenient store to being a teacher.

    In fact, reviews praising his works seem to have noted a decline in the quality of his work over the years. With a random exception here and there.

    "Without copyright, it's doubt ful the sale would have happened (in part because it's doubtful the book would have been written)."

    What?! So you're saying that no one would create were it not for copyright? HAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, it's cute because we can tell you actually believe that. History would beg to differ. Creative people create regardless of copyright or anything else. Stephen King had stories to tell and put to paper, copyright is very much irrelevant to his need to express himself creatively.

    "Out of curiosity, what name do you use when you seed your Japanese porn on torrents?"

    And of course the inevitable insult/remark about someone you know nothing about being a pirate, despite no evidence to backup said assertion.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:54am

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

    Right, I'm sure all that fanfiction exists because of a business model.

    My point is, the grand majority of writing right now is amateur (unpaid) work, much of which is illegal under copyright.

     

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  60.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Try telling that to the Fundemantalists everywhere.

     

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  61.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thieves and criminals are rarely moral. It's probably why it's hard to have a discussion about it here.

    Yeah, morality is a hard sell on Techdirt. And it's for the reasons you mention. They want absolution, not guilt, for their wrongs.

     

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  62.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Criminals like the fraudsters and charlatans who tend to run the collection societies?

    Criminals like Chris Brown, who is profiting from beating someone up?

    Criminals like Charlie Sheen, who was constantly on cocaine for the last three years?

    You want to teach morality, you have to be willing to understand that not all people are moral in all things. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the last purely moral creature was a T-Rex.

     

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  63.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Fox news is a filter for non-thinkers. CNN ius a filter for non-thinkers. I am a filter for non-thinkers.

    Your point?

     

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  64.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Average_Joe, why aren't you answering my questions? I just want a direct answer from you, is that so hard? Where did you get your previous avatar from, and why wasn't it copyright infringement when you used it without permission? You're running and hiding from me, just like you do every time I ask a simple question!

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:51am

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

    Works created in the last 50 years are still under copyright. Some have been "given" to the public domain, but most are still under copyright.

    The public domain is not a good measurement of good or bad for the public interest, otherwise all the current memes would be about movies made 100 years ago, right? Clearly the public is getting "culture" without copyright obstructing them.

     

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  66.  
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    JMT (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    Keep up the great comments! If there's anything that'll get people to stop pirating and part with their hard-earned cash, it's being called an immoral thief! When you describe potential customers using words like disgusting and despicable, I just want to run out and start buying CD's again!

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Yeah, morality is a hard sell on Techdirt. And it's for the reasons you mention. They want absolution, not guilt, for their wrongs."

    No, average_joe, morality is a hard sell because as has been pointed out repeatedly to you and others it is purely subjective.

    Everyone has their own moral code and mine aren't yours and yours aren't Mike's and Mike's aren't Rikuo's and so on and so forth.

    For the majority of people, making a copy is NOT immoral.

    And way to go aj, conflating morality with laws on the books. Laws DO NOT equal morality one way or another.

     

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  68.  
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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am a writer. I write stories. Not once have I sold a copy of my writing. Sure I write fan-fictions, but that isn't stopping me from working on original material, and maybe even selling it at a loss of profit (for the fan-fiction).

    Now do I want to make money off of my writings? Maybe. Do I have to? No!

     

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  69.  
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    explicit coward (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:25am

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

    "Clearly the public is getting "culture" without copyright obstructing them."

    Of course! The only problem is: The public is doing it illegaly...

     

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  70.  
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    MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Re: "given" to the public domain

    Works cannot be "given" to the public domain. To the degree that members of a society are influenced by, love, or hate a "work" it is part of that societies culture, it IS public domain.

    As has been said repeatedly copyright was conceived as an incentive to give creators the opportunity to benefit economically from the works they create, to give them the opportunity to create even more works. It is this incentive that is granted by the society as a privilege TO the creator.

    Society wants the creators to create more, society does NOT want to create a welfare system to support a "creator" who does not create. That is not a creator, that is a parrasite on society.

     

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  71.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Of course, that's because Cancer Joe here is immoral and he admitted it when he used that avatar without paying anything to the makers of Dodgeball, being such a freeloading Lord High Cancer Apologist.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Which would explain why he changed his avatar, because despite his claims to the contrary, he knew he was in the wrong. It's hard to wag your finger at others when you're doing something similar yourself.

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If the copies of writings are the product, then by making my own copy I have inflicted no harm on the author. You try to equate physical property with intellectual property. But there is no law against copying physical property, so by your own logic copying should be legal.

    (By the way, most copyright warriors argue that the ideas are the product being bought and sold. You might need to adjust how you misunderstand things if you want to appear even marginally legitimate).

     

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  74.  
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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:53am

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

    "Copyright makes it possible for him to sell what he writes, and therefore be able to write more (and work other jobs less)."

    Yes, because that is what helping me sell my original work. ... Does copyright really help in quality if I'm producing quantity? Quantity =/= quality.

    "THe money wouldn't come back to King, who in turn would have to earn his money in some other way."

    Unless he sells his books himself, and that way people can send their money directly to him.

    "Nobody expects to be paid if their writing is shitty."

    Come on, it makes great riffing material! Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey? Both are known for their crappy material, but yet people are buying them and eating them up, and others do enjoy how bad those books are, because they can make fun of them!

    "A crappy writer is a crappy writer, and no matter the system, they won't make money."

    Really? There are seriously bad writers out there and they are making money off of their products, copyrighted or not. Want me to get a few to prove my point?

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:54am

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

    His new avatar is a derivative work of the Super Star from Super Mario Brothers 3 (it's the same star, only winking).

    Nintendo should sue him.

     

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  76.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:03am

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

    Culture is not just the dribs and drabs of pre-approved consumption of content that the major content industries allow. Culture is the sharing and the combination of ideas and expressions.

    How is it in the public interest when any non-approved use of content is fought every step by multi-billion dollar corporations hiring out armies of lawyers and lobbyists? How is it in the public interest when millions of dollars are spent by our governments propping up legacy industries that cannot adapt?

     

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  77.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:10am

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

    For the majority of people, making a copy is NOT immoral.

    It's more than just "making a copy." It's taking without paying content that someone spent time, energy, and skill creating. People make a living selling that copy. When you take it without paying, you are violating their rights and not giving them the money they deserve. If you truly valued that copy, which clearly you do if you're downloading it so you can consume it, then you should pay the price they are asking for it. That money you should have paid is rightfully theirs. So no, it's not just making a copy. It's ripping people off because you're selfish and immoral. I know this message is lost on Techdirt. But the reality is, almost every nation on earth recognizes that it's more than just "making a copy." It's people's livelihoods. And it's the notion that without the marketable right, people won't invest as much in the creation of new and better works. And before you spout nonsense about alternative business models, let me point out that most of the good stuff--the stuff that people download--uses the copyright business model. You pirates, by "stealing" what isn't yours, are only shooting yourselves, and our culture, in the foot. Morality doesn't sell on Techdirt because most of Mike's hardcore fans have none.

     

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  78.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    r u insane ? ? ?
    1. you are confusing the artifice of 'copyright' with the reality of 'creative works', they are NOT the same...

    2. human beans create, PERIOD, full stop. copyright has NOTHING to do with 'inspiring' or 'enabling' or 'promoting' creativity (in fact, quite the opposite); it has EVERYTHING to do with rapacious korporations using individual human bean's creativity in order to extort monies...

    (could someone run the numbers of korporations' receipts from copyright extortion, vs receipts from the ACTUAL creators, individual artists ? ? ? "korporations" don't create ANYTHING...)

    3. *besides* the obvious factors -increased population, korporations cranking out copyrighted-crap like sausages, *everything* automatically being copyrighted, etc- you ignore that people CREATE TONS OF 'STUFF' that is not intended to be a 'commercial' product, formally copyrighted, or otherwise locked up by greedy asswipes...

    the quilt my mother and aunt made for me is 10 times more creative than ANYTHING a CEO from Big Media EVER MADE IN THEIR LIVES...
    the robe my sister made for me is cooler than any article of clothing EVER made by any MAFIAA exec (if they are capable of ACTUAL creation at all)...
    the cards, doodads, deskset, clothes, etc my wife makes for me is 100 times more precious than ANY piece of disney-fied plastic crap which sells zillions...
    the wooden bowls, pens, platters, dishes, spoons, ladles, bottle stoppers, etc i make on my lathe are approximately one billion times more creative than ANYONE who 'produces' mainstream movies...
    the folk music made by millions of people around the planet, which will NEVER be 'monetized', is more valuable than ALL the CD's on the planet from Big Music...

    NONE of these TRUE creations and their creators will EVER be 'monetized' or 'commercialized', but they are just as -if not MORE SO- 'creative' than any million 'creations' of Big Media crap that is copyrighted/trademarked up the bung hole...
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  79.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How about the fact that one group expects to be paid once for their work, no matter how many people end up using and/or benefiting from it, while the other group expects to be paid every time anyone does anything with something they've made?

    On a per-product/item basis, the second group may or may not make more(depending on whether or not people actually want what they are selling), but they certainly seem to think that they should for some reason.

     

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  80.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:30am

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

    Umm, no they aren't. Last time I looked there are plenty of ways to "get culture", all of them legal.

     

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  81.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:37am

    "While you may feel copyright is a privilege, I would say that access to huge amounts of art, books, movies, music, and the like is an incredible privilege, and that the public benefits endlessly from it."
    Then we're at a disagreement. Copyright has actually prevented access to the majority of works of the last 50 years, not promote it.

    What you're basing your statement on are the popular works, those which demand inflationary prices despite being out within those 50 years. It's why people are (being fooled) paying 99 cents for a song written before they were born.

    But what about the rest of the works created? Access? Hardly. We can't find them because the labels, movie makers, or publishers have decided to keep it locked up under copyright than give it to the public.

    There are far more works locked away because of copyright than it grants, and this is a problem for everyone.

    Imagine if you're the artist of those works. You get nothing, because copyright was stripped away in exchange for a business model which favors only those who did nothing.

    People get nothing because the works are rotting away, somewhere, never to be seen again. Those who try are quickly sued into oblivion.

    Your grandkids will see more content locked up in their lifetime, with copyright laws passed which will make ideas, not the works, what is covered. We're seeing these laws passed today, all for the sake of locking up content.

    Copyright is a detriment to anything we call "common sense". Some artists feel it's an entitlement, because they can't separate their works from their business.

    But they're not the problem, because once they sign the contract which strips them of their common sense as well as copyright ownership, those who truly own the works stop at nothing to propagate a model to which they earn billions while their clients earn scraps.

    Look around. The only true way an artist really makes their money is by promoting themselves.

    You know... working the business after they've created the work.

    Funny how that works out. It's just too bad too many artists think these current systems are the only way they can make a buck.

    I will never understand why anyone would waive their copyrights while defending these idiotic laws.

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:42am

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

    Now before I say my interpretation on the nonsense you're trying to get across, the line "[m]orality doesn't sell on Techdirt because most of Mike's hardcore fans have none," makes me wonder if that's based on facts or on opinions. But knowing you... it's all opinions. (And by the way, I do have morals and I'm not a hardcore Mike fan.)

    And now... here are my questions: 1) who's rights am I violating for "stealing" their "property" and 2) who really deserves that money? You keep talking about how we as citizens are making copies and not paying for them, even selling these copies, and hurting the content creators, but who's getting hurt and/or violated? Who should I be worry about and give me a (different) reason why I should worry and care for them! If this is really about money... then if it's the corporations, then screw that! If it's a creator that makes horrible and crappy material, then forget them! If it's a creator that makes good material but behaves like a jerk to their fans, then forget him! They don't deserve my money nor my time if they treat us like criminals and thieves. And maybe I don't want to try their product simply for the matter it doesn't match my tastes.

    And every nation on Earth recognizing it's more than "making copies?" Ha! The governments may recognize it, but not the citizens, the public, the consumers! Then again, not every country in this world shares that same belief and thought here in the US.

    But overall... why should I care?

     

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  83.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:44am

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

    It's more than just "making a copy."

    And yet it's not.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:52am

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

    1) who's rights am I violating for "stealing" their "property"

    You are violating the personal property rights of the person who owns the copyright in the work you are "stealing." Do you seriously not understand this?

    2) who really deserves that money?

    Whoever owns the rights deserves to capitalize on the value of those rights. This isn't hard.

    But overall... why should I care?

    Are you asking me to explain to you why you shouldn't violate other people's rights? Yeah, people on Techdirt have such strong moral codes. Because they invest the time, energy, and money into creating the content that you value. If you want that product, you should pay their asking price. It's their property, not yours. This stuff is easy. I don't understand why you keep asking other people to explain to you why you should care. Figure that out for yourself. I suspect you will never care, and you will always just take what you want. You don't have a problem with "stealing" content that someone invested their own resources into creating. I prefer to pay people for the content I value because I know it's right and I want the people who create content I like to make money. They are in the business of creating and selling content that I want. I'm happy to pay them the price they're asking. And if I don't like the price, or if it's not available in a format I want, or whatever, then I don't do business with them. Simple.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:57am

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

    Umm, no they aren't.

    So um, problem solved then? No more whining about piracy?

     

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    techflaws (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:57am

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

    You are violating the personal property rights of the person who owns the copyright in the work you are "stealing."

    As you were with your old avatar?

     

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  87.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The truth hurts.

    And yet, you still go on with that bullshit. So much for feeble mings, huh?

     

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  88.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:01am

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

    Joe you are so wishy-washy. One minute you want this to be about personal morals -- then when someone gives you their personal moral explanation of their position, you fire back with written laws.

    Laws != Morals

    They are both valid ways to consider the question, but you are just playing troll-games and you know it. Cory gave you a detailed explanation of his moral position, and even specifically noted that he considers this to be something separate from just "what laws are on the books" -- and the best response you can come up with is "but there are laws on the books"

    Impressive! Go away now, maybe?

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:08am

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

    Define "person," because if I remember correctly, anyone can own the copyright on something, including corporations and corporations are people. So, am I violating the rights of the creator or the corporations?

    Simple? Uh, yeah... no. It's not simple. Perhaps I should be saying "why should I care about investing my time in this sort of thing?" If there is something for free legally, I will try it out and see if I like it. If I like it, I will see if there is an option to buy it. If not, then maybe I'll keep the free item, or get rid of it if I dislike it. But... if I come to find that there is a price and it's something I can't afford, then I might consider some options. Pirating... that won't be an option for me. I will save up my money if I want to buy it, otherwise if the content's bad, then no sell.

    Then again, I don't care what you have to say. I don't care about your morals, you views, or your thoughts. If I want to say my thoughts, then let me. I could care less about your life and what you do in the real world. I don't ask about it nor do I want to know.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:09am

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

    And yet it's not.

    It's funny how you're such a pirate apologist that you can't even admit the incontestable facts that piracy means violating someone's personal rights and it means depriving someone of their asking price for content that costs real money, time, and energy to create. It's intellectually dishonest to pretend otherwise.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:11am

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

    Laws != Morals

    They are not equal, but most of the time the law tracks morals. How else could it work.

    They are both valid ways to consider the question, but you are just playing troll-games and you know it. Cory gave you a detailed explanation of his moral position, and even specifically noted that he considers this to be something separate from just "what laws are on the books" -- and the best response you can come up with is "but there are laws on the books"

    My response to Cory was that he should want to pay the people who spend the time, energy, and money to create the content that he values.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:13am

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

    Are you asking me to explain to you why you shouldn't violate other people's rights? Yeah, people on Techdirt have such strong moral codes. Because they invest the time, energy, and money into creating the content that you value. If you want that product, you should pay their asking price. It's their property, not yours. This stuff is easy.

    Ok, AJ: here's the deal. Techdirt is my site. And from now on, you need to pay us $1,000 per month to comment on it. Just you. For everyone else, it's free. But for you, you need to pay $1,00. It's my property, not yours.

    That's our asking price.

    This stuff is easy, so I expect you'll pay, right?

    I'm happy to pay them the price they're asking.

    I look forward to your check.

    And if I don't like the price, or if it's not available in a format I want, or whatever, then I don't do business with them.

    If $1,000 is too much, you'll go away, right?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:14am

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

    Wait. First you ask my opinion, then you say you don't care what it is? OK. Please don't bother posting to me again. OK. The feeling's mutual. Don't bother posting at me again, 'cause I won't be reading anything you post from now on. TD needs an ignore button.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:18am

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

    It's funny how you're such a pirate apologist that you can't even admit the incontestable facts that piracy means violating someone's personal rights and it means depriving someone of their asking price for content that costs real money, time, and energy to create. It's intellectually dishonest to pretend otherwise.

    For the umpteenth time, copyright is itself a violation of the rights of the public. Some of us value the exclusive right to make copies far less than the public right to make copies, and the constant shift of balance in favour of the former has eliminated all but the tiniest shred of respect for copyright law. Thus copying is morally wrong only in the most simplistic, semantic sense -- "a right has been violated, this it is immoral" -- but, when examined more closely and in societal context, it also serves a much larger good. The entire perspective of what's moral and where the wrong is in this situation can shift -- and one can question whether the greater wrong may be to deny the public its right to copy.

    Whether or not you agree is not the point -- your "oh I'm so baffled by you children and your bizarre denial" act is getting really, really old. Either you CAN see how there are multiple sides to this moral question (as there always are, because morality is subjective) and are simply refusing to tackle it (possibly because you find it distasteful to give up your sense of absolute superiority) or you are just extremely stupid.

    Either way, that four-year-old's moral compass that you are so proud of is insufficient for this discussion.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:19am

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

    My response to Cory was that he should want to pay the people who spend the time, energy, and money to create the content that he values.

    Yeah, here's the thing: "wanting to pay" is not the same as "believing the creator has an exclusive right to distribute copies, and believing every copy must be paid for"

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:24am

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

    You don't have a good argument, do you? Hilarious.

    At the end of the day, pirates take without paying content that other people spend time, money, and energy creating. Pirates deny their victims the money that they have every right to expect in return for their valuable content. Pirates violate other people's rights in their insatiable need to have the content they value so much. Pirates are selfish people who only care about themselves and who can't see past the end of their nose.

    And you, Mike, will always be there to tell them it's OK. Delicious. [And no, Mike, I'm not going to play your game. If you have a point, make it.]

     

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  97.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:28am

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

    The point is that the mere technical fact that someone has violated someone else's wishes is only ONE facet of a situation, and that the true question of whether or not an action is moral is far, far more complex than that.

    And you know it.

    Following Mike's request, by your very own moral argument, every comment you make is on par with downloading a song or a movie.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:42am

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

    or the umpteenth time, copyright is itself a violation of the rights of the public.

    Spoken like a true apologist. Mike has taught you well. The Constitution grants Congress the power to create copyright laws. Congress has exercised that power and created copyright laws. Your right to copy has not been "violated." It has been legitimately limited by a duly enacted statute. To say your right to copy is "violated" by copyright laws is like saying your right to drive 120 MPH is "violated" by speed limits. Give me a break. So where your rights haven't in fact been violated, you whine that they have. But then when pirates actually violate someone's rights, you pretend like that doesn't even matter. Instead it's just "copying." Classic. Why don't you just be honest and admit that your right to copy hasn't been "violated," and that pirates are in fact violating their victims' rights? I know, such honesty is not your style. Deny, deny, deny.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:51am

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

    Yes, congress has the power to create those laws. Many of us believe congress has, at this point, violated its mandate for creating such laws by failing to ensure they "promote the progress". Many of us believe that large-scale violation of rights is far more egregious than the individual technical violations of many acts of casual copying. Many of us are also not American, and are not just talking about specific constitutional language or one country's laws, but about the broader concept of copyright and how it in many ways conflicts with the reality of human culture if not handled very carefully.

    This is really sad, Joe. You were begging for a moral discussion. In fact, specifically, a PERSONAL moral discussion, asking individuals whether they feel things are moral or immoral. Then when people start giving you one, you can't handle it... the best you can do is cite laws, and then say "laws track morality" for society -- which is exactly NOT what you were asking in the first place. Bit off more than you could chew, I guess.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:07am

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

    I understand that you may not feel that copyright laws promote the progress. First of all, you're Canadian, right? It's funny that you obsess over foreign laws so much. Second of all, we don't all get to decide for ourselves whether the progress is adequately promoted. Moreover, having decided personally that it's not, we can't use that opinion as a reason to justify the violation of someone else's rights. We don't get to decide for ourselves which rights of others are to be respected and which aren't, just like others don't get to decide for themselves which of your rights are to respected and which aren't. I get that you don't like copyright (and you, like so many on Techdirt, can't even admit that it does great things for society--heck, you guys can't even admit that it does *anything* good for society), but that in no way, shape, or form justifies piracy. By that same logic, I could decide to violate any of your personal property rights based on my own self-serving justification that your rights aren't worth respecting. Have a good one, Leigh. Go ahead and get the last word.

     

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  101.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:13am

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

    Go ahead and get the last word.

    Resorting to childish attempts to invalidate any response, hmm? I'll take that as a sign that you are frightened of the counterarguments, and use my "last word" to say: grow up.

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:16am

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

    "'Culture is not just the dribs and drabs of pre-approved consumption of content that the major content industries allow. Culture is the sharing and the combination of ideas and expressions."

    Culture is all sorts of things. We live in an era with both tons of culture, and significant copyright laws. We have always managed before to handle both. Why the sudden rush to toss one out? It's not like massive remixes of stuff is adding anything to culture. If anything, it shows that the culture is stuck in neutral, to busy chewing the same shit and crapping it out the other side.

    Do you come from a generation that can't seem to do anything original?

     

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  103.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: "given" to the public domain

    "That is not a creator, that is a parrasite on society."

    Your parasite on society won't make a penny if you don't want their work. Understand that the system that rewards them is YOUR demand, not their offer. Offer without demand is a null.

    The true parasites here are those who want to take the work of others, add an occasional "oh yeah" over the top, and call it a "remix". That is the true parasite behavior.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:18am

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

    LOL! No it just means that I have work to do, and I don't feel the need to keep repeating myself. Go ahead and get the last word means simply what it says. I'm just letting you know that I won't be here all day rehashing the same arguments we went through last weekend. If you have something to add, I'll read it and take it into consideration. Thanks.

     

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  105.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:20am

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

    The importance of art that reacts to and appropriates other art has been understood and respected for a long time. Your attempt to label all remixes as worthless is just silly.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:21am

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

    If you have something to add, I'll read it and take it into consideration. Thanks.

    Nope. Glad you're finally satisfied with an answer for once.

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:23am

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

    "Unless he sells his books himself, and that way people can send their money directly to him."

    You miss the point - without copyright, everyone could re-print his book, and sell it just above their marginal costs, and blow him out of the water. He will never be in the position to sell his work at a competitive price and make money, because he is the only one with actual up front costs to be in business. Everyone else is just typesetting.

    Worse, make it all digital, and everyone can give it away with no income potential.

    "There are seriously bad writers out there and they are making money off of their products, copyrighted or not. Want me to get a few to prove my point?"

    Ahh, there is the rub. What you consider crappy, enough people consider good enough to pay for. The measurement isn't good as in "I like it", it's good as in "people will pay for it". It's why Hollywood movies are considered by most here as crappy, but are also the most pirated things on earth.

    "Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey? Both are known for their crappy material, but yet people are buying them and eating them up"

    Case in point. You think they suck. People are tripping over themselves to buy it. Good in a business sense isn't your taste, it's what sells.

    Put it another way: McDonalds isn't what most people consider good food, but they outsell everyone else. Should McDonalds close down because their food isn't as good as a Michelin star eatery? Nope. Taste doesn't enter into business.

     

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  108.  
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    dennis deems, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yet, we have created more in the last 50 years than the 500 years before that. I call that a success, don't you?
    Not necessarily. I think if we are to assess the vitality of a culture, we need to look at the degree to which the average educated person is engaged with it. That means more than just passively soaking it in, it means sharing, preserving, confronting, holding up to scrutiny, interpreting, re-imagining, spawning variations. What's important to a culture is works that endure -- particularly works that prompt a response -- rather than a massive number of disposable works. In that sense, a single Hamlet is worth more consideration than a million generic and interchangeable blockbuster films.

    In any case, [citation needed].

     

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  109.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re: "given" to the public domain

    Old-ass argument dismissive of the remix culture, since, well, the late 1970's at least. Helloooo! It's 2012!

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:33am

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

    At the end of the day, pirates take without paying content that other people spend time, money, and energy creating.

    And you are vandalizing the content that we spend time, money and energy creating. I have made it clear to you that you shall not comment here without paying us $1,000 per month. Thus, you are violating our wishes, and you are taking away our property rights, based on your own (ridiculous argument).

    Pirates deny their victims the money that they have every right to expect in return for their valuable content.

    I am expecting $1,000 a month from you in return for our valuable content. Why are you not paying?

    Why are you violating my rights.

    Answer me!

    Pirates violate other people's rights in their insatiable need to have the content they value so much.

    You are violating the property rights we have in this site. Now pay up. This is easy.

    I'm not going to play your game.

    No game.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:36am

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

    No it just means that I have work to do, and I don't feel the need to keep repeating myself.

    And yet, whenever I say this to you... your response is to claim I've "run away."

    Anyway, please send us the $1,000 you owe for continuing to comment on our site. Otherwise, you have violated our rights.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:44am

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

    My English is perfectly fine, it's your reading comprehension that is severely lacking.

    Let me rephrase my prior comment for clarity: Copyright didn't enable Stephen King to write books as a career, his skill at writing compelling books and the publishers' marketing power to make him better known did.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:51am

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

    Second of all, we don't all get to decide for ourselves whether the progress is adequately promoted.

    Yes we do. Not sure about anyone else, but I come to my own conclusions by myself. Not sure exactly what you are saying here, but it sounds like you think that someone else should tell me what to think.



    Moreover, having decided personally that it's not, we can't use that opinion as a reason to justify the violation of someone else's rights.

    Actually, it's a perfect reason. Ever heard of civil disobedience? If it wasn't for piracy, these discussions concerning copyright wouldn't even be taking place. Copyright would still be ratcheting up in one direction without any resistance from the public at all. Look at Prohibition, it took the majority of the public ignoring laws to get the discussion back on the table for repeal.



    We don't get to decide for ourselves which rights of others are to be respected and which aren't, just like others don't get to decide for themselves which of your rights are to respected and which aren't.

    Sure we do. That's always a personal decision. Like whether I feel like obeying speed limit laws today or not. There may be repercussions for such actions, but it's still a personal decision in the first place.



    I get that you don't like copyright (and you, like so many on Techdirt, can't even admit that it does great things for society--heck, you guys can't even admit that it does *anything* good for society), but that in no way, shape, or form justifies piracy.

    Show me some proof of this and I will make my own decision on it. I have seen plenty of proof that copyright can be detrimental to society and very little of the opposite that can't be attributed to other factors besides copyright.



    By that same logic, I could decide to violate any of your personal property rights based on my own self-serving justification that your rights aren't worth respecting.

    The thing is AJ, property rights are completely and totally backed by huge majority of the public itself. Intellectual property rights seem to be lacking in this department since we obviously have a huge chunk of society ignoring intellectual property rights on a daily basis.

     

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  114.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:52am

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

    In the end, a business model is as useful as a printing press, because you can't run one without the other (at least not for long).

    You do believe you are on the side of business, no doubt. It's likely the current "copyright is the alpha and omega of making money" mantra may actually be hurting the business in general and even the established corporations engaged in a hopeless legal headlong rush instead of finding themselves a renewed relevance in a world where they can't control the market via gatekeeping distribution anymore.

    (ps: copyright isn't the mother of invention. Careful, you might get cut from all that straw you are using on your strawman).

    The "copyright creates" self-justifying and unproven IP-maximalist talking point has been so much on repeat lately, it's good to remind the basics.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:53am

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

    There are three things that drive people to create despite monetary incentives: Autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The freedom to be self-driven, attaining greater proficiency in a skill, and having a beneficial impact on society are what drives people to take the time to be creative. In fact, monetary incentives have been found to cause poorer performance in tasks that require even rudimentary cognitive effort and that performance gets worse as monetary incentives go up. They did this study at some rinky-dink school you may have heard of. Are you familiar with MIT?

    There was art before copyright, there will be art long after copyright goes the way of the dodo.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:56am

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

    Wow. You've really got nothing to argue, do you? Sad. Can you not actually address the merits of my arguments?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:57am

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

    And yet, whenever I say this to you... your response is to claim I've "run away."

    Has he asked me a question that I'm purposefully avoiding? I don't think so. I'm not running from anything. If Leigh has a direct question for me, I will put down what I'm working on and I will give him the best answer I can. You wouldn't understand. And really, Mike, is this the best you got? Can you just not have a normal conversation with someone?

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 9:59am

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

    Yes we do. Not sure about anyone else, but I come to my own conclusions by myself. Not sure exactly what you are saying here, but it sounds like you think that someone else should tell me what to think.

    Here's what I find really hilarious about this. The whole conversation started last week, when AJ demanded to know whether Mike and/or other commenters felt piracy was immoral.

    Mike responded by saying he doesn't commit wholesale piracy because he doesn't think it's right to violate the wishes of creators.

    AJ rejected this, saying he wanted a personal, moral answer about whether piracy was "immoral". In fact he specifically stated that just basing your answer on the fact that someone else's wishes are being violated is insufficient because he doesn't want a technical, qualified answer but a personal moral assessment.

    Now, people are offering AJ personal, moral explanations of why they feel that many forms of piracy are not, in fact, immoral -- based on personal moral assessments of what they feel to be right and wrong.

    And what does AJ do? He rejects this, saying "but you're violating the wishes of creators so it's technically immoral!"

    Having demanded, and received, personal moral opinions, he has now decided that you are not allowed to have a personal moral opinion.

    Expert troll? Imbecile? We may never know...

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:02am

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

    Expert troll? Imbecile? We may never know...

    There's no need to be condescending because we don't see eye to eye. And you call me childish?

     

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    dennis deems, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:03am

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

    My response to Cory was that he should want to pay the people who spend the time, energy, and money to create the content that he values.
    What if those people are dead? I can't give money to William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:07am

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

    There's no need to be condescending because we don't see eye to eye.

    Oh Joe, this thread alone is full of examples of your constant condescension. Need I quote them?

    I do honestly think you are one of two things, or possibly a blend of both: a person who simply wants to be disruptive and carefully structures his argument around that goal, or a person who is really really stupid.

    Sorry if you don't like that assessment.

     

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  122.  
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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A story, a song, a movie is not a product. Only a warped or ignorant mind would believe such a thing. The product is the container, not the content. Assimilate that information.

    "Sure they do. They sell copies of their writings."

    This is so incredibly backwards, it's almost maddening. Writing is speech. Music is speech, so on and so forth. In what inside-out world is speech a product? You fail to realize that art is not a product because you fail to realize what it really is. All art is speech; when people create art, they are trying to deliver an idea to other people. Ergo, speech. The physical representations of art are the containers of speech. A sculpture is a container for speech, a DVD is a container for speech, and a book is a container for speech.

    I'm not the one trying to "redefine" anything. I'm trying to dispel the ignorance about what it really is. You're the one trying to redefine things as something they are not.

    "Nobody buys blank books (except for writers)."

    FTFY.

    Every person that keeps a personal journal would disagree with your sentiment.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:16am

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

    And yet, whenever I say this to you... your response is to claim I've "run away."

    Mike,

    Let's just be clear about this. I have no trouble waiting for days for you to answer a question. I know you're busy too. So I don't know why you're pretending like it's otherwise.

    And in point of fact, you still haven't answered the question I posed to you several days ago. You have give many excuses, but you haven't answered the question. Just this morning you had more excuses: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120908/13441520319/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c6772

    But you, of course, had no answer. I've waited several days for an answer there. I know you just don't want to answer the question. That much is perfectly clear. The last thing on earth you want to talk about is your personal beliefs.

    You came into the comments to pretend like *I* ran away from ONE question you claimed I was dodging: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120908/13441520319/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c6009

    But the fact remains that I am in that thread, days later, still waiting for you to point out which question you think I'm dodging and to answer the question you are in fact dodging: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120908/13441520319/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c6772

    The fact that you have to lie about who dodges questions and who can't wait for the other to answer is just sad. Are you really that desperate and insecure that you can't just have a normal conversation with a detractor?

    Can't you just man up and have a regular conversation? Or is being arrogant and derisive the only thing you know?

     

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    RadialSkid (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:18am

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

    So memetic images or videos based around movies aren't copyright infringement?

     

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  125.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:26am

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

    If you actually go back and read the majority of Stephen King's works you'll find that in general his best works were written when he wasn't able to write full time, and was instead working various jobs from being a cashier at a convenient store to being a teacher.

    An interesting point...I think generally, the best art is produced by someone with fresh life experiences. Not someone holed up in an ivory tower collecting checks.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:27am

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

    I'm just a person with a different point of view. Calling me "really stupid" just makes you look bad.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:27am

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

    There's no need to be condescending because we don't see eye to eye.

    Do you really want to go down that path, considering how often you are exceptionally condescending any time anyone doesn't agree with your distorted view of the world?

    By the way, why do you keep violating my rights?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:32am

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

    I'm just a person with a different point of view. Calling me "really stupid" just makes you look bad.


    Should we start listing out your regular list of insults. "Really stupid" is a pretty tame opinion compared to your usual portfolio. You regularly call me "despicable" "a fucking idiot" "the most dishonest person" you've ever dealt with, "slimy" and many other things.

    And someone explains a reason why it appears you are really stupid (and even notes that, in the alternative, you might just be a troll), and suddenly you take offense?

    Wow.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:34am

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

    Joe,

    I've tried to have a regular conversation with you many times in the past. We all know how it ends.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week -techdirt.shtml#c1210

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:34am

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

    Do you really want to go down that path, considering how often you are exceptionally condescending any time anyone doesn't agree with your distorted view of the world?

    And you are extremely condescending to anyone who dares express a view contrary to your own. You've been EXTREMELY rude to me dozens of times. I admit at times I am also condescending at times, and it's wrong to be that way. I shouldn't let my emotions get the best of me like that. I have no trouble admitting my flaws. Have you ever admitted any of yours? And when are you going to respond in that other thread? No more excuses, Mike. Just have a normal conversation for once. Or is this the best you can do? All you can do is talk about talking about stuff, but you never actually just talk about stuff. I don't get it. Is it insecurity or shame? Seems like it. Not being condescending. I'm being serious. I've never seen anyone so scared of just having a normal conversation with a detractor.

     

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    RadialSkid (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:36am

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

    You filthy immoral content thief. Why don't you respect Mike's personal property rights?

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:38am

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

    a "normal conversation" is one in which both sides are accountable -- not one in which one side will simply log out and run away and post anonymously for a while every time he is backed into a corner (and yes, you have done that on several occasions)

    if you are THIS DESPERATE to have a normal debate, maybe you should identify yourself and arrange some sort of structured conversation where neither side can "run away" without it being immediately obvious to everyone that they have done so -- then all these back and forth accusations of evasiveness can stop.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:40am

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

    And you are extremely condescending to anyone who dares express a view contrary to your own.

    No sir. Only to those who are rude and obnoxious first ad have proven that they have no desire to hold an adult conversation.

    No more excuses, Mike. Just have a normal conversation for once.

    I tried. Last time, I tried. And you went back to your usual mode. I learned.

    You are incapable of acting like an adult. I answered your questions multiple times and you threw a temper tantrum because I actually called you out on your logical fallacies.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments -week-techdirt.shtml#c1210

    I've never seen anyone so scared of just having a normal conversation with a detractor.

    Bullshit. I've had normal conversations with tons of detractors over and over again. I've tried to talk to you multiple times, and every time I do, I regret it, because you lie, you take my words out of context, you claim things I never said and then you spam the fuck out of my comments, violating my rights (according to your insane theory of rights).

    So why do you keep violating my rights? You haven't answered that question.

    Just like you never answered the questions about where I said any of the bullshit things you pretended I said. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120908/13441520319/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c5762

    Because you can't.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:48am

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

    Should we start listing out your regular list of insults.

    Go ahead, make a huge list. I couldn't care less. I'm not "really stupid" and you know it.

    I do think you're despicable and slimy and lots of other things. The way you're acting all childish in this thread only reinforces that view. I don't think you're stupid, though. I think you're smart. That actually makes the things you do even more despicable.

    So yeah, make that list. Spend hours on it. I don't care.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:52am

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

    I've tried to have a regular conversation with you many times in the past. We all know how it ends.

    And yet you refuse to answer the simple, direct question about your personal beliefs about simple piracy. You have excuse after excuse for why you won't answer, but never just an answer. Why aren't you answering me in that thread? You popped in this morning with more excuses, but never an answer. The reason I have such little respect for you is because I think you're being dishonest and deceitful, and I think you purposefully run from conversations about your beliefs because you're ashamed and scared.

    Let's try and have a productive conversation for once. If you directly a detractor for once, I might gain a bit of respect for you. But continuing with all the childishness, like you're doing here, is not making me think any better of you. The "you're violating my rights!" thing is really sad, Mike. Give me a break. When you're ready to have an adult conversation, I'll be here.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 10:55am

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

    There's several questions there. Instead of a link to something, just ask me right here, right now in this thread the question you want me to answer. I will give you a direct answer to the absolute best of my ability. I won't run away, I won't hide, I won't be condescending. I won't do any of that. Type out a direct question to me right here, and you will have your answer within minutes.

    And then after that, please answer my question from last week. You know the one.

     

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  137.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:00am

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

    Wow Marcus, you are a jackass, aren't you? You can't read either. Did I say that the legal means to obtain suddenly eliminated piracy as an issue? Nope.

    See, mindless, whining children like yourself can't wait the short time it takes something to get released legally, so you have to pirate it.

    Don't blame the victim, blame the idiots like yourself.

     

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  138.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    Only someone as narrow minded as you would think that the laws are not set from a moral standpoint.

     

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  139.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Only someone as narrow minded as you would think that the laws are not set from a moral standpoint.

    Only someone as disingenuous as you would pretend that laws are purely moral in nature and not also effected by money, business protectionism, political game-playing and even luck.

     

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  140.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    " Copyright has actually prevented access to the majority of works of the last 50 years, not promote it."

    B U L L S H I T ! ! ! !
    = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Sorry, but I have to call it here. You start from bullshit.

    Look, copyright has made it possible for works to be created, to be distributed far and wide, and for artists to continue to make the new material you all crave.

    John, Paul, George and Ringo didn't end up driving milf floats or playing skiffle music at the fun fair to make a living. They were able to sell their music and grow an empire, and produced some of the most enjoyable music of our times as a group and as individuals. I don't see their stuff blocked, I see it widely available and played on pretty much every radio station every day. I can buy their stuff almost anywhere in the world.

    Copyright means I can sit in Hong Kong and watch American TV, and by doing so, I directly help to pay to have more of it made. I am not just a consumer, I am part of a bigger process.

    You act as if the work was made and then locked away so that you can't get to it, that you cannot hear it, cannot see it, cannot read it. That is just pure bullshit, end to end.

    It's funny how copyright abolitionism like yourself paint a picture as if the world is barren and without any new music, culture, or art since more than 70 years ago. How sad it is that you have deluded yourself into thinking along those lines.

    Remember that the next time you listen to a song that isn't 70 years old, and remember just how completely full of shit you are.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:09am

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

    You point to the status of culture today as evidence that copyright is not broken.

    But -- piracy has been an integral and growing part of the dissemination of culture for a few decades, since long before digital media.

    You have stated that you believe the status of culture today is indicative ONLY of the efficacy of copyright, ergo you believe piracy (which has been present for a long time) has had no impact and is thus not a problem.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:11am

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

    And yet you refuse to answer the simple, direct question about your personal beliefs about simple piracy.

    No. I've answered it a bunch of times, only to see you lie, claim I haven't answered it, and twist it into whatever bullshit strawman you want to prove.

    You have excuse after excuse for why you won't answer, but never just an answer.

    No. Listen closely: I ANSWERED your silly questions. And what I did I get? This bullshit: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c1210

    And now you demand I go through that again? Sorry, AJ. You blew your chance. I engaged, you blew it. Live with it.

    Why aren't you answering me in that thread?

    I answered you. You just don't like it.

    You popped in this morning with more excuses, but never an answer.

    I popped up to point out how ridiculous you were being. Which continues here.

    The reason I have such little respect for you is because I think you're being dishonest and deceitful, and I think you purposefully run from conversations about your beliefs because you're ashamed and scared.

    Ha! I've responded to this bit of defamatory smear many times. I answered your stupid question, and explained why it was stupid. And you can't deal with it, so you pretend I didn't answer. Why? Only you know.

    Let's try and have a productive conversation for once.

    I tried. Multiple times. You blew it. I'm not playing your game again.

    If you directly a detractor for once, I might gain a bit of respect for you.

    I've engaged detractors many times. Including you. Most of the time it's fine. I regularly talk to a number of detractors. Rob Levine and I have regular email exchanges, for example.

    I engaged with you and I got this bullshit:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments- week-techdirt.shtml#c1210

    But continuing with all the childishness, like you're doing here, is not making me think any better of you.

    AJ, there is one person being childish here. I'm the adult here. You don't give in to temper tantrums. I made that mistake last time, and it did exactly what all the books on raising 2 year olds say it will: it encouraged you to throw another temper tantrum.

    So, sorry. I engaged. You fucked it up.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-t echdirt.shtml#c1210

    The "you're violating my rights!" thing is really sad, Mike. Give me a break

    All I'm doing is showing everyone how your logic doesn't make sense. I note that you refuse to respond to it, because you can't. You keep saying the only reason it's a violation of rights is because it goes against their wishes and that they spent time, money and energy on creation.

    All of those factors apply to my request to you.

    So why aren't you violating my rights? By your own definition, you clearly are.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:19am

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

    Sigh. Just more childishness. If you have a question you want answered, type it out right here in this thread and you will have a direct answer.

    It's clear that you don't want to answer the question about your personal beliefs about the morality of simple piracy. I'm not at all surprised.

    As to your silly new game about how I'm violating your rights, I will gladly answer since you're making such a big deal about it. I honestly don't understand what right of yours you think I'm violating. Please explain EXACTLY which right of yours I'm violating. I will answer you within minutes, but first I need to understand your argument (I seriously don't even get what you're saying with this). So spell it out for me how it is you think I'm violating your rights, and you will have a direct answer.

    You keep saying the only reason it's a violation of rights is because it goes against their wishes and that they spent time, money and energy on creation.

    I didn't say that. I'm saying that it's a violation of their rights because under the law they have exclusive rights that the pirates are violating. I never said it violates their rights because it goes against their wishes. So I don't get your point there. I pointed out that they put time, energy, and money into creating the product that people value, which is true. That's the reason why I'm happy to pay for it, and that's the reason why I think it's reasonable for them to have the right to demand payment for their works in the first place. But I never said that their wishes = their rights. Wishes don't create rights.

     

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  144.  
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    Milton Freewater, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "My question to Mike was simple: I asked whether he thinks someone downloading movies via bittorrent because they don't want to pay for them is immoral. He refused to ever give a direct answer. What do you think his answer is to that question?"

    Here is Mike's answer to your question, published on this blog on Sept. 6, 2012:

    "I've pointed out before that, contrary to the smug insistence of many people who dislike this site, I don't download any unauthorized content. At all. In 1999 I had Napster on my computer, but I was stuck on a dialup connection, so I never had a chance to test it out before it got shut down (and, at the time I had no real desire to listen to music via my computer). Since that time, I've always legally obtained the various content I consume, preferably directly from artists themselves, but otherwise through buying the CD or via Amazon or CD Baby (and now I use Spotify a lot too, though I still like to directly support artists when I can). Despite people insisting that I must be 'pirate Mike,' as I've said repeatedly, I'm simply not comfortable with going against the wishes of copyright holders."

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120905/02010520277/content-industry-keeps-penalizing -people-who-actually-pay.shtml

    So yes, he thinks it's immoral and wrote a whole blog post about it this month.

    I think he's messing with you. He likes that people beating up on you drives eyeballs to the site.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think he's messing with you.

    It's clear that he has no intention of ever having an actual discussion about his personal beliefs. And he is clearly being disingenuous with the claims that I'm violating his rights. He's set up a strawman, pretending like I said someone's wishes are their rights. When called out, he vanishes. Same old, same old. This type of behavior is exactly why I don't respect him. He's too insecure and dishonest to have an honest discussion, unfortunately.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Look, copyright has made it possible for works to be created, to be distributed far and wide, and for artists to continue to make the new material you all crave.

    Please back this assertion up with some facts. I don't believe copyright is responsible for any of that. Works would still be produced without copyright. Copyright actually limits distribution. As for the artists I like, I will happily contribute to them so they can provide more art I like, but this needs to be my decision and not some sort of mandate from the government. And I prefer to contribute directly, not through some middleman, so I know that my money is actually going to the artist and not to some trade group who sues college kids and grandmas.


    John, Paul, George and Ringo didn't end up driving milf floats or playing skiffle music at the fun fair to make a living. They were able to sell their music and grow an empire, and produced some of the most enjoyable music of our times as a group and as individuals. I don't see their stuff blocked, I see it widely available and played on pretty much every radio station every day. I can buy their stuff almost anywhere in the world.

    So your shining example is the 1% of the 1% that the labels deemed worthy of stardom? What about the other 99% of musicians who couldn't get their foot in the door at the labels back then?


    Copyright means I can sit in Hong Kong and watch American TV, and by doing so, I directly help to pay to have more of it made. I am not just a consumer, I am part of a bigger process.

    Actually, technology made it possible to reach additional eyeballs on ads in wider areas, not copyright. You really think that the television ecosystem wouldn't have developed without copyright? The soap companies would still have funded programming to sell their products. Copyright isn't this magic elixir you think it is.


    You act as if the work was made and then locked away so that you can't get to it, that you cannot hear it, cannot see it, cannot read it. That is just pure bullshit, end to end.

    I don't act that way. But I do know that I can't build on an existing work or share it with my friends very easily without violating copyright law.


    It's funny how copyright abolitionism like yourself paint a picture as if the world is barren and without any new music, culture, or art since more than 70 years ago. How sad it is that you have deluded yourself into thinking along those lines.

    I know your comment wasn't directed at me, but I am not a abolitionist, I am a reformist. Copyright needs to be brought back into line with the original deal struck with the public.


    Remember that the next time you listen to a song that isn't 70 years old, and remember just how completely full of shit you are.

    Once again, please explain why you think copyright is the reason art is created. Most artists I know don't create for money, they create because it's something they are compelled to do with or without compensation.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Side bar:

    John, Paul, George and Ringo didn't end up driving milf floats...


    What the hell is a "milf float"? Floats are decorated trailers seen in parades. MILF stands for "mothers I'd like to f**k".

    Geez, I guess I need to get to a parade pretty soon, sounds like they have gotten a lot more interesting than I remember.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Laws are formed on a logistical basis that best serves the entire population equally, not on the basis of morality. Morals are relative and laws need to be based on facts and needs, with an emphasis on equality.

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

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

    So re-printing will allow people to keep the money to themselves while King gets nothing? And putting his books online will automatically make his work free and everyone can grab it? Uh-huh, yeah sure, that's going to work out perfectly.

    I know you're going to retort on this, but not every Hollywood movie is crappy. Then again, part of why I said about tastes is that everyone is going to react differently to what is before them. People need to judge things, try them out, preview it, before they should buy it. Just because someone buys something doesn't make it good or bad. Just because it's popular and people are buying it, again, doesn't make it good or bad. It just means it's popular and the content creator want to sap as much money as they can, even if they make a turd of a product so popular to get everyone invested in it. As said before "quality =/= quantity." I want to have something good and I do want to get it legally, but I don't want to own something terrible after purchasing it (unless I intentionally purchase it to rip it a new one).

    ... You know what. Every time that I read these kinds of comments, I notice something in common: money. There seems to be a lot of talks about money between you ACs. Are you really this concern about money? I'm curious...

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re:

    "You act as if the work was made and then locked away so that you can't get to it, that you cannot hear it, cannot see it, cannot read it. That is just pure bullshit, end to end."

    No, that is pure bullshit. They are being locked away. You have no clue what you're talking about. There are literally hundreds of works that are languishing in film vaults and decaying into oblivion because of copyright. The movie corporations hold on to these films because they don't want people to have them for free, but they also don't think they can make any money making them available either. Nobody is preserving these works because there's no money in it.

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

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

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

    Oh, they have a "ignore" button. It's call a report button. ... Oh wait, that's considered censorship, isn't it? And come on, can I have a little fun? I'm not that bright of a human being compared to you, and I'm fickle. I can make all the comments I want.

    To be fair, after reading your comments from previous articles, why do I have to bother with you? You're a broken record that repeats the same message. But what I like is reading the responses to your comments, enjoying their insight and witty banters compare to what you have to say. Plus, are you saying that I can't flip-flop on my own issues when you do that in your comments?

    So I said that I don't care about your comments. So what? You are willing to comment back (nearly all the time), and that's not a bad thing, is it? (To some...) Though I am curious about what you define as a person, because I don't see how a corporation is a person and how they could hold copyright on something they didn't create. I will allow you to answer that. From there, it's up to others, even me, to answer.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

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

    I know this is late, but hey, you might reply

    "See, mindless, whining children like yourself can't wait the short time it takes something to get released legally, so you have to pirate it."

    Short time? According to US copyright law, if someone today writes the Greatest Thing EVAR, and they're twenty years old (to pick a random age), the earliest that I could get it legally in the public domain would be (if he dies at seventy) in 2162 (life plus 70 years). Imagine that...one hundred and fifty years from now.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

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

    Crickets.

    Why'd you run away again, Mike? Why won't you point out how I'm violating your rights? Where did I say that wishes = rights? Why all the excuses instead of just a simple answer to a direct question?

    There really isn't even one honest cell in your entire body, is there? Nothing makes you freak out faster than a simple question about your beliefs. Instead of lies and excuses, prove me wrong by engaging me.

    Stop with all the nonsense, Mike. Grow up, relax, and have a straight conversation me just once. I dare you. I know you won't.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So perhaps you could explain the laws in, say, Saudi Arabia or Iran.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Flash Gordon will defeat those Mings, no matter how strong or feeble they may be.
    Flash! Ah-ah!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, you take a MILF, put her in a glass filled with root beer and ice cream...

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:02pm

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

    It's clear that you don't want to answer the question about your personal beliefs about the morality of simple piracy

    Bullshit. I answered you. And you acted like a drunk idiot and vandalized my comments.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments- week-techdirt.shtml#c1210

    As to your silly new game about how I'm violating your rights, I will gladly answer since you're making such a big deal about it. I honestly don't understand what right of yours you think I'm violating. Please explain EXACTLY which right of yours I'm violating. I will answer you within minutes, but first I need to understand your argument (I seriously don't even get what you're saying with this).

    Dear AJ: you have just proved yourself wrong. All I did was repeated back to you your own ridiculous logic, and now you're admitting that it doesn't make sense to you.

    Have you noticed that NO ONE agrees with you here. Want to know why that is? Perhaps it's because you make ridiculous arguments.

    So spell it out for me how it is you think I'm violating your rights, and you will have a direct answer.

    I don't think you're violating my rights. I was just demonstrating the logical fallacies of your own argument. That you can't see that... well...

    I didn't say that. I'm saying that it's a violation of their rights because under the law they have exclusive rights that the pirates are violating. I never said it violates their rights because it goes against their wishes.

    Actually, you did. We had a discussion about copyright violating people's rights, and I asked how if you believed it was a violation even if they were better off, and you said yes, because it went against their wishes. Thus, the only reason it was wrong was because it went against their wishes.

    I'm proving that you don't really believe that because you consistently go against my wishes by still posting on this site, despite my desire that you either start acting like an adult or go away.

    Wishes don't create rights.

    I'll remember that the next time you say the opposite.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

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

    Always with the games. I really don't get it.

    I answered you.

    No, you have not.

    The question is: Do you think that when someone downloads a movie because they simply want to watch it for free without paying for it, that person has acted immorally?

    Instead of linking to a post that doesn't actually answer the question, just man up and give me a direct answer.

    What is your answer?

    All I did was repeated back to you your own ridiculous logic

    You are lying. I never said wishes = rights. I would never say that because I don't believe it to be true. Please cite the exact source of your claim that I said it, or just admit that you are lying.

    I was just demonstrating the logical fallacies of your own argument.

    Please show me the exact text that I posted that says wishes = rights. I never said that. You are lying. Please show me the text, or admit that you are lying.

    Actually, you did. We had a discussion about copyright violating people's rights, and I asked how if you believed it was a violation even if they were better off, and you said yes, because it went against their wishes. Thus, the only reason it was wrong was because it went against their wishes.

    Please provide a link so I can see precisely the words said. Otherwise, I don't believe you.

    Yes, you are violating their rights even if you are making them better off (in your opinion). That is not the same thing as saying their wishes = their rights. Whether it goes against their wishes and whether you think it makes them better off is irrelevant to the issue of whether it violates their rights.

    I'm proving that you don't really believe that because you consistently go against my wishes by still posting on this site, despite my desire that you either start acting like an adult or go away.

    Whether you wish me to post or not is irrelevant to whether or not I have violated your rights.

    I'll remember that the next time you say the opposite.

    I have never said wishes = rights. Remember that next time you pretend I did.

    Now please answer the simple question above. Do you think it's immoral when someone downloads a movie rather than just pay for it.

    No squirming. No bullshit. Just answer the question.

    Are you really so scared to just say what you think?

    Seriously, Mike. Stop being so evasive and so ridiculous. Just man up and have a straightforward and honest discussion for a change. I am an open book. I will answer any question you have (within reason). Are you not capable of the same? I really don't get it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

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

    Like most people I work for a living (for my own business, but still). Money is always a concern, because with enough money, you can choose to do wahtever you like without caring about things like bills, rent, mortgage, condo fees, your car payments, your insurance, and all those other pesky parts of life that need money.

    Money is sort of a requirement to live. With life experience, you may come to understand the old line from the 60s:

    Life is like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you eat.

    Money is really just a measurement of the freedom to do what you want to do without concern about those awful daily things.

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:02pm

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

    Of course you're not "really stupid." You're just really hard-headed and stubborn.

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    . . .

    Shut up and take my money!

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 5:42pm

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

    But you're still eating crap.

    ... Then, where does this money go to? Does it go to the creators, or does it go somewhere else? If I have to bet any money, it's the latter.

    Also, does it bring happiness? Not exactly. Of course I do need some in order to move on, but for the main necessities like groceries, house and utilities. If I had that kind of money then maybe I would live that lifestyle, but I'm not living it like you are (are you?).

    And by awful daily things, you mean like eating, drinking, bathroom breaks, cleaning, and sleeping?

     

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    KelvinZevallos (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 6:38pm

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

    "Copyright isn't just some magic thing to lock things up content - it's also the basis for an entire marketplace."

    If a law is required to create a marketplace... Wouldn't this marketplace be like a new-born that needs to be plugged to a machine his/her entire life to survive? Wouldn't the less cruel solution be to let it die naturally instead of prolonging his/her life and suffering?

    Leaving the analogy aside, I believe society as a whole has already answered this, as we see the "Art and culture" shifting from the marketplace Copyright created to another one.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, I didn't say all nations do the right thing. I'm only saying that morality is not a proper measure by which to form just laws. Dictatorships are going to form corrupt laws. Even in the US, we don't always form our laws logistically. If you start forming laws based on morality, they will inevitably be ethnocentric and biased towards a particular group.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 17th, 2012 @ 8:55pm

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

    That is a very good point. Copyright does form an artificial marketplace for a particular business model that isn't the least bit viable without it. That being the case, it's vastly absurd to prop it up in light of the other perfectly viable methods of forming a business for the creation of art.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2012 @ 5:34am

    Re:

    The world is not going around your scarry obsession attacking Mike. Get yourself a life and an own blog where you can say whatever you like.

    But that would take some guts to confront the forseable lack of audience...

     

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  167.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re:

    You so much describe the old world golden age when major record companies had a purpose.
    1) Things were far from rosy for the actual creators who were forced into contracts abandoning a large chunk of their rights to said companies controlling duplication and distribution channels
    2) Physical Manufacturing and distribution is no longer as relevant, it's about milking the rights once extorded from artists now.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 18th, 2012 @ 6:30pm

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

    Do you think that when someone downloads a movie because they simply want to watch it for free without paying for it, that person has acted immorally?

    Just the other day, I downloaded Night of the Living Dead, simply because I wanted to watch it for free without paying for it.

    Did I act immorally?

    Before you answer, remember this: Night of the Living Dead is in the public domain.

    But that shouldn't make a difference. After all, morality is not dependent on legality - so, morally, it makes no difference at all whether the movie is in the public domain or not. Either the act itself is immoral, or it is not.

    Which is it?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 18th, 2012 @ 6:49pm

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

    I think it's obvious that I'm only asking about the situation where the downloading is in fact infringement. Give me a break. Funny how Mike still won't answer the question. Nor will he ever. The last thing he ever wants is to be pinned down on his own beliefs. Nothing fundamentally dishonest about that.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 6:16am

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

    I think it's obvious that I'm only asking about the situation where the downloading is in fact infringement.

    And that would make a difference if I asked whether it was legal. I am not. I am asking if it is ethical, something that has absolutely nothing to do with whether it was infringement or not.

    Ethically, there are really only two valid answers to that question:

    1. What I did was not ethical. "Night of the Living Dead" only entered the public domain because of a loophole in the law - one that has since been closed. The law was unjust, and George Romero was robbed of his rights. I should want to pay the people who spend the time, energy, and money to create the content that I value, so I had an ethical imperative to buy the movie from him. If Romero demands that I pay him, even though it's not legally required, he is only standing up for his own rights.

    2. What I did was ethical. "Night of the Living Dead" is a cultural landmark, so I was doing nothing worse than experiencing my own cultural heritage. The spread of culture is a moral good, and I have no ethical imperative to pay for it. If Romero thinks this is unjust, he is only expressing his own sense of entitlement and greed.

    And there are even more questions I can ask that muddy the waters. What if I had no idea that "Night of the Living Dead" was public domain? What if I was some sixteen-year-old kid, browsing the Pirate Bay, and I downloaded the movie from that site? Would I be unethical for doing so?

    That last question is exactly like the question you asked Mike:
    (1) Person A uses bittorrent to download "Night of the Living Dead." He could pay for it on iTunes, but it's easy to file-share, so he just takes it without paying.

    (2) Person B uses bittorrent to download "Night of the Living Dead." It's not available where he lives, but he really wants to see the movie because he likes the protagonist.

    (3) Person C uses bittorrent to download a "Night of the Living Dead." It's available on DVD, but he doesn't have a player. Instead he wants to stream it on his laptop.

    Do you see now why this is a bullshit question? If downloading "Night of the Living Dead" isn't unethical, it makes no difference at all why someone does it.

    Why won't you give me a straight answer? Should I search out every post you made on this site, and reply to all of them, saying how you're a slimy totalitarian apologist liar?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 7:10am

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

    Karl,

    I'm asking Mike about the situation where the downloading is in fact infringement and where the downloader knows that it's infringement. I'm not asking about other scenarios where there's fair use, or innocent infringement, or anything like that. I'm asking him about plain vanilla infringement.

    If you have a serious question for me, just state it plainly and I will give you a plain answer.

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 11:06am

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

    So, how does one know if it is infringing? Can you explain that?

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

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

    If you have a serious question for me

    It is a serious question.

    Either an act is ethical, or it is not ethical, regardless of whether it is within the law or not.

    Saying you're asking about "infringement" doesn't matter. Ethically, it doesn't matter if it's infringement or not.

    So, which is it? Did I act ethically or not?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

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

    Did you act ethically when you downloaded a movie in the public domain and where your downloading did not violate anyone's rights? Yes, that was ethical in my opinion.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:09pm

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

    Did you act ethically when you downloaded a movie in the public domain and where your downloading did not violate anyone's rights? Yes, that was ethical in my opinion.

    Good, that's a start.

    Now, answer me this: what rights do other filmmakers have, that Romero does not?

    And remember, we're talking ethics, not laws - so "copyright" isn't a valid answer. For if a filmmaker has an ethical right, then he has it regardless of whether it's recognized by copyright law or not.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:26pm

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

    You're asking me to identify an ethical right, but I don't think there is such a thing. A right is a right, and ethics are ethics. I don't think I can answer your question because the question presupposes that there is such a thing as an ethical right.

    I think if someone owns the copyright to a movie and if it's infringing for me to download that movie, then I am violating that owner's rights and I'm acting unethically. It's unethical because I'm violating the owner's rights, and it's unethical because that owner is selling downloads of that movie--I'm not paying the money that is rightfully being asked for.

    Now, if someone is holding a gun to my head and telling me they will kill me and my family if I don't download the movie, then I haven't acted unethically. Nor have I probably acted unlawfully since duress is a defense.

    I'd like to answer your question, but the honest answer is that I don't think the question makes sense. There is no such thing as an ethical right. Not to the best of my knowledge.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 6:39pm

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

    You're asking me to identify an ethical right, but I don't think there is such a thing.

    That's an interesting viewpoint, and I think you're the only one on the planet who actually believes it.

    It does, of course, make you absolutely amoral - since without ethical rights, there could never be anything unethical about violating any rights at all, since you can't violate something that doesn't exist.

    I think if someone owns the copyright to a movie and if it's infringing for me to download that movie, then I am violating that owner's rights and I'm acting unethically.

    If your answer above is true, then you can't believe this. The person who holds the copyright on a movie has no ethical claim to any of those rights. You just said so.

    So, if I infringe on those rights, I have done something unlawful, but I could not possibly do anything unethical.

    It amazes me that you have the unmitigated gall to repeatedly insulting Mike for not believing piracy is immoral enough for you, when you can't give one reason why piracy is immoral in the first place. Or, as it turns out, why anything else is morally wrong, either.

    So, if you think it's ethical for me to download "Night of the Living Dead," but not, say, "Transformers 3," then you have to explain the ethical reasons - not the legal reasons - that one has copyright protection, and the other doesn't.

    Either that, or just admit that copyright has nothing to do with ethics. And realize you're a complete tool for criticizing Mike on this issue.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

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    I think we're just using the word "rights" differently. Let's start with that. I'm using right to mean that which is proper under the law. I have never thought of ethics as involving rights. I apologize if my understanding of the word differs from yours. I honestly don't understand what you're saying. Can you explain to me what an ethical right is? Thanks.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 7:14am

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    I'm using right to mean that which is proper under the law.

    And, again, legal does not equal moral. If that is your definition of a "right," and if something is wrong only because it violates that "right," then you are forced to conclude that anyone who violates an unjust legal right is immoral.

    This is exactly why the slavery example was brought up. Under your current definition of morality, anyone who helped a slave escape to the North was not just violating the slave owner's statutory property right under the law, but he was acting immorally.

    So, as I (and many others) said above, two things cannot be used as premises for moral arguments:
    1. That an act is immoral because it violates the law.
    2. That an act is immoral because it violates a statutory property right.

    I have never thought of ethics as involving rights.

    The notion that people have ethical rights is the basis for all ethical judgements. An act is morally wrong if it violates one of these rights; it is morally good (or at least morally neutral) if it does not.

    But legal rights and ethical rights are not synonymous; otherwise, the legal property rights of a slaveholder would be ethical rights, and violating them would be morally wrong.

    Can you explain to me what an ethical right is?

    An ethical right is one that is ethically good for people to have, regardless of whether it is recognized by law or not. Various moral theorists have called these "human rights," or "natural rights," or "civil liberties." If the law infringes upon these rights, the law itself is unethical.

    For purposes of this discussion, I am not going to demand that an ethical right be something as strong as a human right. Only that the right is granted for ethical reasons that exist independent of the law. If there are no such reasons, then it is not unethical to break that law - only unlawful. On the other hand, if there are such reasons, then violating that right is unethical - even if it is not unlawful.

    And, here, you are being inconsistent. If there really were ethical reasons for granting rights under copyright law, those rights would be an "ethical rights" existing independent of the law, and I would be violating those rights when I downloaded "Night of the Living Dead." Furthermore, by allowing me to violate those ethical rights, copyright law itself would be unethical (at least as it stood at the time).

    By saying I did nothing ethically wrong, you are now left with only one conclusion. The rights granted by copyright are not ethical rights. Whatever the reasons copyright laws exist, they are not ethical reasons. It may be necessary to prevent infringement, for non-ethical reasons; but preventing infringement is not a moral imperative.

    And thus, by your own answers, violating copyright is not unethical. It is unlawful, certainly; and preventing it may be necessary for e.g. practical or utilitarian purposes. But it should never be considered immoral.

     

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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re:

    "Sorry, but I have to call it here. You start from bullshit."
    >You're entitled to your opinion. However...

    "Look, copyright has made it possible for works to be created, to be distributed far and wide, and for artists to continue to make the new material you all crave."
    >Copyright is not responsible for any of this. People will create regardless if copyright existed or not. Proof: please travel back in time and watch as early humans found pigment and started painting animals on cave walls. Or, if you don't have a time traveling machine, Google them (provided copyright hasn't taken the images down).

    "John, Paul, George and Ringo didn't end up driving milf floats or playing skiffle music at the fun fair to make a living. They were able to sell their music and grow an empire, and produced some of the most enjoyable music of our times as a group and as individuals."
    >You don't know your history, do you. The Beetles were an opening act which started their road to popularity. Moreso, the Beetles were formed by an entertainment industry which told them to dress alike, and appeal to the girls. There was no focus on their music, which wasn't appreciated until they broke from their label and set off on a path of their own choosing.

    You're also unaware how long it took the Beetles music to get into an online distribution to begin with, and ended up being an iStore exclusive.

    In all those years, to this point, the artists were making nothing.

    "I don't see their stuff blocked, I see it widely available and played on pretty much every radio station every day. I can buy their stuff almost anywhere in the world."
    >Now. 10 years ago, this line would have been bullshit in a digital format.

    "Copyright means I can sit in Hong Kong and watch American TV, and by doing so, I directly help to pay to have more of it made. I am not just a consumer, I am part of a bigger process."
    >No. Copyright means distributors in Hong Kong have to pay extortion rates in order to play on television. Never mind the show was already paid for by advertising locally. Advertising, by the way, means WE THE CONSUMER ARE PAYING FOR THE SHOW, not the company buying the ad. It never ceases to amaze me how people constantly forget consumers are buying the ads.

    "You act as if the work was made and then locked away so that you can't get to it, that you cannot hear it, cannot see it, cannot read it. That is just pure bullshit, end to end."
    >I smell a challenge! Okay, here's one: I'd like you to go out and buy Disney's Jungle Book on bluray. I'll wait (forever). Let us know how things work out for you.

    "It's funny how copyright abolitionism like yourself paint a picture as if the world is barren and without any new music, culture, or art since more than 70 years ago. How sad it is that you have deluded yourself into thinking along those lines."
    >No, what's sad is you conflating separate issues into a singular point of view. I never said this. But what you fail to recognize is the fact anyone who uses, borrows, or creates content, whether it's new, mashup, or borrowed, comes with an instant lawsuit the second it garners any popularity. Now, playing "5 seconds" of a song no one's heard of means copyright has the potential of forcing a $250,000 fine per infringement.

    All because the original work wasn't copied, but a part of it.

    Today, after talking with many who work in creative industries, many are terrified of success, because it's just too goddamn easy to find "similarities" which are defined as "infringement" thanks to these laws.

    Men at Work has a horrible backstory to one of its most popular songs. Why don't you read it. If you can walk away and think copyright is a good think after this story, well, bullshit gets a new definition.

    "Remember that the next time you listen to a song that isn't 70 years old, and remember just how completely full of shit you are."
    >I would, but those works are long gone, genius. That's why you have the Beetles. You don't even know what the hell you've lost in those past 70 years.

    Now that's bullshit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 10:35am

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    Hi Karl,

    Good discussion. It seems to me that ethical and legal rights are very much intertwined. I would posit that copyright and ethical rights can and do co-exist: we as a society (through our legislative process) have determined that authors have an ethical and legal right to control their works for a limited period of time. This is the message embodied in our Constitution and realized by our Congress. We can recognize infringement of those rights as both an ethical and legal violation of the author's rights with no inconsistency. When those works fall into the public domain, there is no longer any infringement from a legal perspective. The subjective understanding of the infringer is of no import under the law (except perhaps for purposes of mitigating defenses), however, it is, I suppose, relevant to whether the individual infringer believes he or she was acting ethically "right." The only way this subjective ethical "right" embodies itself in the law, however, is through the legislative process. In turn, if enough people hold a certain ethical right to be true it can (and usually does) become a legal right as well.

    In any event, I imagine your constructs were intended to address a very specific dichotomy setup by another author somewhere in these 180+ comments. I just wanted to bring up the issue that the relationship between ethical and legal rights are very much intertwined and are not mutually exclusive. Thanks!

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

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    we as a society (through our legislative process) have determined that authors have an ethical and legal right to control their works for a limited period of time. This is the message embodied in our Constitution and realized by our Congress.

    It's a good hypothesis. It is also not true.

    Authors do not have the Constitutional right to copyright. The right to make copyright laws is granted to Congress, not to artists.

    And it is granted for one purpose: to "promote the progress of Science" (in the case of copyright). Both Congress and the Supreme Court have made it very clear that the beneficiaries of copyright law are the public.

    In other words: in theory, the "ethical good" that comes from copyright is increased public access to artistic works. It is the only ethical value that copyright promotes.

    The ethical motivations for copyright have absolutely nothing to do with the "property rights" of authors. In fact, such "property rights" are theoretically viewed as a social evil, only tolerable if they result in a benefit to the public that outweighs this evil.

    It is very hard to see how "piracy," at least of the non-commercial variety, conflicts with this ethical goal. After all, non-commercial piracy is nothing other than increased public access to artworks. You know how I downloaded "Night of the Living Dead" for free? That, and that alone, is the "social good" that copyright exists to promote.

    This is why copyright is granted to Congress, and not to authors directly, under the Constitution. As representatives of the general public, Congress is supposed to make sure that the monopoly rights that the public grants to copyright holders, work first and foremost to the public's benefit.

    At least in theory. In practice, multinational commercial rights holders have completely taken over copyright. The idea that copyright benefits the public first and foremost has been buried under a mountain of lobbying money and propaganda.

    There is no question in my mind that copyright laws, as they currently stand, impede the widespread distribution of artworks to the public, and impede the growth of the public domain. This makes our current laws unethical.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 4:00pm

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

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Karl. It is always so interesting to me that two people can look at the same copyright issues and come to such different conclusions.

    I disagree with your premise that rewarding authors is secondary or even irrelevant to unrestrained public access to works. The Supreme Court rejected your very proposition and confirmed that the reward to authors is "complimentary" to public ends in Eldred:

    Justice STEVENS' characterization of reward to the author as “a secondary consideration” of copyright law, post, at 793, n. 4 (internal quotation marks omitted), understates the relationship between such rewards and the “Progress of Science.” As we have explained, “[t]he economic philosophy behind the [Copyright] [C]lause ... is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors.” Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954). Accordingly, “copyright law celebrates the profit motive, recognizing that the incentive to profit from the exploitation of copyrights will redound to the public benefit by resulting in the proliferation of knowledge.... The profit motive is the engine that ensures the progress of science.” American Geophysical Union v. Texaco Inc., 802 F.Supp. 1, 27 (S.D.N.Y.1992), aff'd, 60 F.3d 913 (C.A.2 1994). Rewarding authors for their creative labor and “promot[ing] ... Progress” are thus complementary; as James Madison observed, in copyright “[t]he public good fully coincides ... with the claims of individuals.” The Federalist No. 43, p. 272 (C. Rossiter ed.1961). Justice BREYER's assertion that “copyright statutes must serve public, not private, ends,” post, at 803, similarly misses the mark. The two ends are not mutually exclusive; copyright law serves public ends by providing individuals with an incentive to pursue private ones.

    Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 212, n.18 (2003).

    In Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters., 471 U.S. 539 (1985), Justice O'Connor emphasized this point: "it should not be forgotten that the Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of expression. By establishing a marketable right to use one's expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas."

    I can't help but note that if the original goal of (and the only "ethical good" intended by) our Founders in establishing copyright was *solely* to foster the "widespread distribution of artworks to the public" and "growth of the public domain" they would never have granted the Congress the power to lock up works for any duration at all. The lack of such a power in the Constitution would certainly facilitate "widespread distribution" and the "growth of the public domain." Quite to the contrary, however, there is ample evidence to support the proposition that our Founders and the generations of legislators who followed them understood the ethical "good" in providing authors with an economic incentive to create works that ultimately benefit the public. You may disagree with the wisdom of that conclusion, but that is besides the point entirely.

    Our laws are rife with ethical determinations that represent our best vision of what our country should be. Copyright law, which has existed since our country's founding, is no different. Therefore, to argue that our copyright laws are categorically "unethical" or completely disconnected from their original intent is extreme, to say the least. The fact that copyright laws have not been repealed (or even seriously considered for repeal) in the sam way as prohibition or slavery should be telling of whether our country agrees with your belief that such laws are so clearly "unethical."

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 4:54pm

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    Authors do not have the Constitutional right to copyright. The right to make copyright laws is granted to Congress, not to artists.

    He didn't say authors have the constitutional right to copyright. He said that society, through the legislative process, have given authors the legal right to copyright. He said that that is the message embodied in the Constitution, which is true. I don't understand why you're trying to correct him when he said nothing untrue.

    And it is granted for one purpose: to "promote the progress of Science" (in the case of copyright). Both Congress and the Supreme Court have made it very clear that the beneficiaries of copyright law are the public.

    And what means does the Constitution say to use realize that purpose? It says to give authors exclusive rights. Yes, the beneficiaries are ultimately the public, but during the limited times copyrights are in force, the authors are the beneficiaries. You have to look at the bigger picture, the means and the ends. You're so focused on the ends--the public benefit--that you're ignoring the means, which aren't necessarily beneficial to the public.

    In other words: in theory, the "ethical good" that comes from copyright is increased public access to artistic works. It is the only ethical value that copyright promotes.

    The classical theory is that a balance is struck between benefiting the authors via economic rewards and benefiting the public with access. You're leaving off half by focusing only on access. Benefiting authors via the exclusive, economic rights is part of it too.

    The ethical motivations for copyright have absolutely nothing to do with the "property rights" of authors. In fact, such "property rights" are theoretically viewed as a social evil, only tolerable if they result in a benefit to the public that outweighs this evil.

    That's just fundamentally wrong, as the AC has demonstrated via majority Supreme Court language. Benefiting authors is part of the bargain. You can't separate it out. It's part and parcel of the utilitarian model of copyright.
    The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather, the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired.
    Sony v. Universal, 464 U.S. 417, 429 (1984).

    Authors benefit first, and then when the work falls into the public domain, the public gets its end of the bargain. The ultimate aim of copyright is to benefit the public, but it reaches this aim by benefiting authors first.

    It is very hard to see how "piracy," at least of the non-commercial variety, conflicts with this ethical goal. After all, non-commercial piracy is nothing other than increased public access to artworks. You know how I downloaded "Night of the Living Dead" for free? That, and that alone, is the "social good" that copyright exists to promote.

    Piracy upsets the balance by not honoring the exclusive rights that are given to authors. That's not the bargain that copyright promises. The public gets it benefit later, but at first it's about the benefit to the author. Pirates take that benefit away. The balance is about more than access, it's about access balanced with the protection of authors' rights.

    This is why copyright is granted to Congress, and not to authors directly, under the Constitution. As representatives of the general public, Congress is supposed to make sure that the monopoly rights that the public grants to copyright holders, work first and foremost to the public's benefit.

    Authors benefit first, which is why the marketable right to exclude is given to authors. The public benefits later, after the copyright has expired. This is the basic, utilitarian theory of copyright. You're focused on the ends, but neglecting the means. It makes no sense to say that the public is supposed to benefit first. The system wouldn't give the right to exclude to authors if it was meant to first benefit the public.

    At least in theory. In practice, multinational commercial rights holders have completely taken over copyright. The idea that copyright benefits the public first and foremost has been buried under a mountain of lobbying money and propaganda.

    Copyright has never been about benefiting the public first. Again, if the public were meant to benefit first, you wouldn't set out to accomplish that by giving authors the right to exclude the public. That makes zero sense, and it's just not the theory.

    There is no question in my mind that copyright laws, as they currently stand, impede the widespread distribution of artworks to the public, and impede the growth of the public domain. This makes our current laws unethical.

    The right to exclude includes the right to prevent access. This is by design. The public benefit is realized later, after the copyright has expired. Read the Sony quote again.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

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    Authors benefit first, which is why the marketable right to exclude is given to authors. The public benefits later, after the copyright has expired.

    Let's not forget that the public is immensely benefited before the work falls into the public domain as well by having access to the work once it is released by the author. The economic incentive motivates authors to release their work to the public quickly so that they might profit from it.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:26pm

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    Let's not forget that the public is immensely benefited before the work falls into the public domain as well by having access to the work once it is released by the author. The economic incentive motivates authors to release their work to the public quickly so that they might profit from it.

    Absolutely. The author gets the marketable right with the hope that they'll actually use it, i.e., that they'll give the public access to the work by placing it on the market. But as you pointed out (and as I think Karl and Mike are missing), if the purpose of copyright was only to give the greatest number of people access to the work, then giving authors the right to exclude the public would not be the means for accomplishing that end. Instead, the theory is that there's a balance between the amount of protection given and the amount of access the public gets. You don't want to give too much protection, or else there's not enough access, and you don't want to give too much access, because then there's not enough protection. The balance lies somewhere in the middle. That's the classical theory anyway.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:49pm

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    I disagree with your premise that rewarding authors is secondary or even irrelevant to unrestrained public access to works.

    Well, that's not what I said. I said that public access to works is the purpose of copyright. Rewarding authors is not "secondary" or "irrelevant," it's simply not why copyright exists.

    To the degree that rewarding authors actually does result in the widespread distribution of works to the public, then those rewards are justified. But they are not justified as an end in themselves, but as a means to an end.

    And you'll notice that at no point was rewarding authors justified on moral grounds. It provides "the incentive to profit," "a marketable right," "the economic incentive." These are not moral terms, but economic terms. It shows that infringement is an economic, not moral, issue.

    In contrast, the only time anything even remotely resembling moral language is used, is when we are talking about the public. We "advance public welfare," "create and disseminate ideas," or serve "the public benefit by resulting in the proliferation of knowledge." This is the purpose of copyright; providing an economic incentive is the method by which that purpose is accomplished. "Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts" (Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken). "The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors" (Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal).

    And make no mistake about it, that method was not considered an ethical imperative. "The granting of such exclusive rights under the proper terms and conditions, cofers a benefit upon the public that outweighs the evils of the temporary monopoly" (H.R. Rep. No. 60-2222). "But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good" (James Madison).

    I can't help but note that if the original goal of (and the only "ethical good" intended by) our Founders in establishing copyright was *solely* to foster the "widespread distribution of artworks to the public" and "growth of the public domain" they would never have granted the Congress the power to lock up works for any duration at all.

    That is the great contradiction in copyright law: we grant a temporary monopoly on expression, in order to accomplish more widespread dissemination of that expression.

    Keep in mind that throughout most of U.S. history, "widespread dissemenation to the public" meant "publication by commercial publishers." The theory is that without this monopoly on the economic exploitation of expression, publishers would go out of business, and authors wouldn't be able to get money from them to keep writing. Thus, even though expression would be unhindered, there would be less of it overall.

    And I say "economic exploitation" for a reason. Until very recently, "infringement" was synonymous with "commercial infringement." Non-profit use by the public was usually encouraged. Exemptions from the copyright monopoly for libraries, research, news reporting, and so forth have been codified in the statutes pretty much since copyright existed. Even before Congress included it in the 1976 Copyright Act, fair use existed in a long-standing body of case law. I have looked for historical cases where non-commercial copying was considered infringement, but the earliest one I could find was from the 1970's. And prior to 1997, you could not be charged with criminal infringement unless you were doing it for pecuniary gain.

    Simply put, the impact on public use was minimal. Since commercial publishers were both the only ones who could accomplish widespread distribution, and also the only ones who had to worry about copyright, the whole arrangement was a good bargain for the public.

    And if copyright was still limited to "economic exploitation," it would still be morally justified, in my opinion. But, unfortunately, it is not. Copyright's impact on the public, at this particular point in history, is far more damaging than beneficial.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 7:04pm

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    Wow. This has become one of the most interesting, informative threads I've seen in a long time (and admittedly, one of most eloquently phrased pro-copyright arguments I've seen). It's these types of discussions that attracted me to Techdirt in the first place.

    So anyways, I can see merits to both sides of this and I have to ask, since this thread seems to be full intelligent thought and cordial manners, where do we go from here?

    Public disdain for copyright continues to grow and increasing enforcement doesn't seem to help. The pubic domain isn't being replenished. The sharing of culture, including copyrighted content, will increase in ever-changing ways as technology marches forward. Any thoughts?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 5:54am

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    In contrast, the only time anything even remotely resembling moral language is used, is when we are talking about the public. We "advance public welfare," "create and disseminate ideas," or serve "the public benefit by resulting in the proliferation of knowledge." This is the purpose of copyright; providing an economic incentive is the method by which that purpose is accomplished. "Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts" (Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken). "The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors" (Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal).

    Copyright rewards authors, which in turn, rewards the public. The two cannot be separated since the theory is that one leads to the other. Reward to the author is an integral part of the bargain. The Court here takes a more Lockean view:
    The economic philosophy behind the clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors in ‘Science and useful Arts.’ Sacrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered.
    Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954) (emphasis added).

    "Deserve rewards." You seem so set on denying that copyright is at all about rewarding authors, but the fact is it's about rewarding authors which in turns rewards the public. The two are complementary, as the Court made clear in the Eldred footnote quoted by the AC:
    Rewarding authors for their creative labor and “promot[ing] ... Progress” are thus complementary; as James Madison observed, in copyright “[t]he public good fully coincides ... with the claims of individuals.” The Federalist No. 43, p. 272 (C. Rossiter ed.1961). Justice BREYER's assertion that “copyright statutes must serve public, not private, ends,” post, at 803, similarly misses the mark. The two ends are not mutually exclusive; copyright law serves public ends by providing individuals with an incentive to pursue private ones.
    Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 212, n.18 (2003).

    Copyright serves both public and private good, as the two are intertwined. Take away the private benefit, and the public benefit disappears. Take away that "evil," and the public suffers. It's not simply the means, it's an integral part of the larger system.
    The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an ‘author's' creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.
    Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156 (1975).

    To "secure a fair return" for the author's labor is very Lockean concept.

    And make no mistake about it, that method was not considered an ethical imperative. "The granting of such exclusive rights under the proper terms and conditions, cofers a benefit upon the public that outweighs the evils of the temporary monopoly" (H.R. Rep. No. 60-2222). "But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good" (James Madison).

    Just because it's an "evil" doesn't mean it's moral to violate the right once granted. "It's evil" is not a defense to copyright infringement, legally or morally. And that "evil" is what ultimately benefits everyone.

    That is the great contradiction in copyright law: we grant a temporary monopoly on expression, in order to accomplish more widespread dissemination of that expression.

    We grant the temporary rights because it fosters the creation of more and better works. Access and dissemination are not the only issues in play. A person can get a copyright and then decide to lock up the work, never disseminating it to anyone. If it was only about access, then giving people the right to deny access is a silly way to accomplish that end.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 7:19am

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

    I forgot to add this to the mix: the Visual Artists Rights Act, which recognizes moral rights for artists. Very European. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Artists_Rights_Act That's proof that copyright is about more than just the public good. It's also about rewarding and protecting artists. It always has been.

    I think you're putting too much emphasis on one interpretation of the "to promote the progress" preamble. First of all, there's several interpretations of what that even means (I'm aware of four meanings, and I'm sure there are more). Second of all, the Copyright Clause isn't the only possible source for Congressional power. I think many copyright-related laws, like VARA, could be justified as an exercise of the Commerce Clause power. In that case, there is no need to consider the promotion of the progress, whatever that even means. Third, I think you need to realize that "to promote the progress" refers to the net effect. You can't do what Mike does and look at one small sliver and then proclaim that the progress isn't being promoted. Mike plays that game all the time, and it just makes no sense. And lastly, I don't even begin to understand how you think copyright "is far more damaging then beneficial." Copyright is doing its job, which is to incentivize the creation of new works. The ones doing the damage are the pirates, since they are making the creation of new works less profitable. They're only shooting themselves in the foot and making things worse for everyone. Their greedy need to have everything they want whenever they want it is at the expense of the public good. They're screwing up the balance. You want more and better works? Enforce copyright better.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:58am

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    The public benefit is realized later, after the copyright has expired.

    Nice in theory, not so much in practice in this day and age.

    Copyright pretty much doesn't expire anymore and when Micky get close again I have no doubt that Disney will attempt to extend it further.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:06am

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    The fact that copyright laws have not been repealed (or even seriously considered for repeal) in the sam way as prohibition or slavery should be telling of whether our country agrees with your belief that such laws are so clearly "unethical."

    The discussion of copyright is becoming more mainstream and I believe that serious consideration of copyright reform isn't too far away. As more and more of the public comes up against the restrictions of copyright in their daily lives this will eventually be rethought on a national level.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:11am

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    The economic incentive motivates authors to release their work to the public quickly so that they might profit from it.

    How important is this incentive nowadays? It made more sense when there was a higher barrier in relation to distribution costs. Today an artist can release a work to millions at virtually no cost in a matter of seconds.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:17am

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    They're screwing up the balance. You want more and better works? Enforce copyright better.

    If I take this argument at face value, my question is this: How to increase enforcement?

    Increasing enforcement only seems to create greater public disdain for copyright and causes even more people to ignore it. How do you suggest increasing enforcement in a way that doesn't actually do the reverse?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    In contrast, the only time anything even remotely resembling moral language is used, is when we are talking about the public. We "advance public welfare," "create and disseminate ideas," or serve "the public benefit by resulting in the proliferation of knowledge." This is the purpose of copyright; providing an economic incentive is the method by which that purpose is accomplished. "Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts" (Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken). "The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors" (Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal).

    Karl's position only considers one-half of the equation. The historical copyright record in the U.S. absolutely does consider the plight of the author from a moral perspective. In addition to AJ's examples, I add the following:

    "When we come to weigh the rights of the several sorts of property which can be held by man, and in this judgment take into consideration only the absolute question of justice, leaving out the limitations of expediency and prejudice, it will be clearly seen that intellectual property is, after all, the only absolute possession in the world... The man who brings out of the nothingness some child of his thought has rights therein which cannot belong to any other sort of property... The inventor of a book or other contrivance of thought holds his property, as a god holds it, by right of creation.... Whatever tends to lower the protection given to intellectual property is so much taken from the forces which have been active in securing the advances of society during the last centuries..."

    -Professor Nathanial Shaler of Harvard, presented to Congress in 1936.

    I disagree, Karl, with your position that widespread distribution to the public is the sole ethical consideration in a proper moral copyright analysis. The benefit to the author, rooted in Lockean and utilitarian principles of fairness and justice, was equally important to our Founders when they drafted the Constitution. "The framers of the Constitution were men to whom the right to hold property was enormously important. They were not far removed from Locke. His ideas pervaded their debates and decisions. Property was seen not as opposed to liberty, but indispensable to it; for men with property would be independent of the power of the State, in that rough-and-tumble rolling of opinion and power which marks freedom." (David Ladd, The Harm of the Concept of Harm in Copyright, 30 Journal of the Copyright Society 421 (1983)). To our Founders, men had a just and equitable right to their property; intellectual property was no different. Copyright ultimately serves public ends by protecting private ones. To say that the "private" ends are unethical or immoral as a matter of fact is to completely ignore the careful balance set forth in the Constitution, as well as the historical record which preceded it.

    Simply put, were the "evil" of securing private rights truly as immoral and evil as you suggest, the Founders and the generations of legislators that followed, could have easily stomped out such evil by removing Congress's power to grant such rights in the first instance or refused to implement the power granted by the Constitution once adopted. Indeed, the Constitution could very well have said, "The Congress shall have power...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, to ensure that the Writings and Discoveries of Authors and Inventors are widely distributed to the public." This would have allowed Congress to fulfill the public ends using any means they found "ethical" at the time. Recognizing the righteous benefit to authors, however, the Founders expressly consciously and purposefully gave authors their just reward for their labors. To ignore this portion of the Constitution, or write it off as "unethical" or perhaps without ethical consideration altogether, is misguided and untrue.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 2:19pm

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    Copyright rewards authors, which in turn, rewards the public.

    You are, once again, missing the point - the point that you keep bringing up, incessantly, in nearly every single thread on this site.

    The point is that the ethical good that is being done, is not because the rights themselves are moral, but because the rights may promote an ethical end.

    Think of it this way. The government grants tax breaks to corporations who donate money to charity. But they do not do it because "granting tax breaks to corporations is ethical." It's not even because donating money to charities is, itself, ethical. It's because the charities do ethical acts. And this would be true, even if Congress decided that the best way to promote charity donations is to institute those tax breaks as "property rights."

    It is exactly the same with copyright law. The rights granted to authors are not, in and of themselves, ethical in nature. Their ethical value must be evaluated against the good that the rights are designed to promote: the public benefit (however you choose to interpret "benefit").

    But if you disagree, and claim it is the rights themselves that are a priori ethical, then again, they are ethical regardless of whether they are recognized by law. You then have no option but to claim I acted unethically when I downloaded "Night of the Living Dead."

    You did not - which means that you do not believe those "rights" are an ethical imperative, either.

    The two cannot be separated since the theory is that one leads to the other.

    Of course the two can be separated, if the theory is wrong. If rewarding authors does not lead to greater public benefit, then they should be separated.

    And this is not an ethical determination, but a factual one. Do the rights granted to authors in fact lead to a wider dissemination of works? Do they in fact incentivize artists to create more works? Do they in fact function as "the engine of free expression?"

    Most importantly for you, does infringement of these rights in fact lead to a reduction in any of these goals? Would working with infringement achieve these goals better than working against infringement?

    These are the sorts of questions that Techdirt deals with. It deals with them by examining evidence, not through faith-based acceptance of the theory. And according to the evidence, the theory is in fact wrong.

    "Deserve rewards." Mazer v. Stein.

    Put in the context of the rest of the text, Mazer v. Stein does not seem to be saying what you claim it is: that one purpose of copyright is to reward the "sweat of the brow" of authors. That argument is explicitly denied in Feist v. Rural, among many other cases. In fact, see the very first U.S. copyright case, Wheaton v. Peters: "The argument that a literary man is as much entitled to the product of his labor as any other member of society cannot be controverted. And the answer is that he realizes this product in the sale of his works when first published."

    Regardless: even if you believe that artists "deserve rewards," that is not the same as saying infringement is unethical. You would be saying it was unethical if it does not reward artists.

    In other words: if an artist's "rights" are violated, but that "violation" leads to greater rewards, then that "violation" is not unethical.

    That's if you accept the "sweat of the brow" argument for copyright, of course. And if you do accept this argument, it once again leads to the conclusion that downloading "Night of the Living Dead" is unethical, unless I "reward" Romero.

    Just because it's an "evil" doesn't mean it's moral to violate the right once granted. "It's evil" is not a defense to copyright infringement, legally or morally.

    Not only is it a defense morally, it is an ethical obligation. If that evil is tolerated in order to promote a good, but it does not in fact promote that good, then all we are left with is an evil. In order to be ethical, we are obligated to remove that evil.

    At the very least, it is in no way unethical to act against that evil. The only possible way it would be unethical is if it acted against the good that is supposed to be promoted by that evil. Otherwise, you don't have a righteous leg to stand on, and you'll fall off your soapbox.

    And if the law does not recognize this, then the law is unethical. Ethically, it doesn't matter if artists' statutory rights are violated. It doesn't matter if downloading a movie for free is infringement or not. It only matters if it acts against the public benefit.

    You have already stated that the act of downloading a movie for free, in and of itself, is ethical. So until you actually show evidence that preventing this ethical act provides a greater public benefit, you have no right to get on your high horse.

    Access and dissemination are not the only issues in play. A person can get a copyright and then decide to lock up the work, never disseminating it to anyone.

    This is a gross misstatement. "It is said that reward to the author or artist serves to induce release to the public of the products of his creative genius" (United States v. Paramount Pictures). "By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas" (Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises). "Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts" (Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken). "The Constitution of the U. S. has limited [monopolies] to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions, in both which they are considered as a compensation for a benefit actually gained to the community as a purchase of property which the owner might otherwise withold from public use" (James Madison). Congress thought the CTEA would "provide copyright owners generally with the incentive to restore older works and further disseminate them to the public." And so forth.

    Yes, copyright is fixed at the moment of creation, not publication. But it was fixed at the moment of publication until the Copyright Act of 1976. This is mainly so artists have the "right of first publication." Historically, this has always been seen as distinct from copyright. See, again, Mazer v. Stein: "Congress may, after publication, protect by copyright any writing of an author. Its statute creates the copyright. It did not exist at common law even though he had a property right in his unpublished work." Or, see Wheaton v. Peters: "That an author at common law has a property in his manuscript, and may obtain redress against anyone who deprives him of it or by obtaining a copy endeavors to realize a profit by its publication cannot be doubted, but this is a very different right from that which asserts a perpetual and exclusive property in the future publication of the work after the author shall have published it to the world."

    The language of the statutes certainly implies that publication is the goal. The very definition of "fixed" is "sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration." The (very recently enacted) criminal laws against "leaking" works, specifically cover "the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution."

    And if copyright really was about anything other than "access and dissemination," we would not have such things as statutory royalty rates.

    Yes, an artist may never disseminate his work to the public. But he certainly doesn't need copyright to do that, and one of copyright's purposes is to discourage this.

    If it was only about access, then giving people the right to deny access is a silly way to accomplish that end.

    Then you're arguing against the theory of copyright. I happen to agree, it is silly, and that's why copyright doesn't work. At least not anymore.

    I forgot to add this to the mix: the Visual Artists Rights Act, which recognizes moral rights for artists.

    That was enacted as a result of the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, which (as you might guess) happened so that the U.S. could legally sign the Berne Convention.

    And notice what those "moral rights" entail. They are the right to "claim authorship," and to "prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification of that work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation." Furthermore, they "shall not apply to any reproduction, depiction, portrayal, or other use of a work" - only to the original artwork.

    This generally tracks what "moral rights" are in the other (primarily European) countries that have them. They are completely distinct from the "economic rights" in those countries. They cannot be waived, nor transferred to any other party (except by inheritance). In about half of the countries that adopt them, even the term lengths are different. And they only cover things like the "right to attribution" and the "right to integrity" - rights that, here in the U.S., are generally covered by libel and slander laws.

    They are, in other words, the equivalent of CC-BY. (Intentionally: it's actually how CC wrote its BY legal code, and the reason that CC-BY is the least restrictive CC license that is globally enforcable).

    And they have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with piracy.

    You seem so set on denying that copyright is at all about rewarding authors, but the fact is it's about rewarding authors which in turns rewards the public.

    And you are so set on denying that copyright is all about benefitting the public, that you deny that copyright even can be about anything other than "violating artists' rights." You deny that any other viewpoint even could be ethical.

    You are so single-mindedly focused on this that you viciously insult anyone who dares to even ask whether those "rights" do, in fact, result in any benefit to the public whatsoever. You are so in denial that enforcing those rights even could be unethical, that you ignore every violation of due process, free speech, or free enterprise. You chortle with glee at cruel and unusual punishments for even minor offenses, as long as the victims of those punishments are "pirates." You are so focused on artists enforcing their rights, that you don't even care when enforcing those rights actually harms artists. And you call everyone who is not as narrow-minded as you a "lying slimeball."

    And to justify all this, the only real argument you have put forth is a tautology. "Unlawful infringement is evil because it is unlawful infringement." This is quite literally the only thing you have said in the entire thread.

    Make no mistake about it. You have not behaved ethically here. You have not shown that you even have an understanding of what "ethical" actually means.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 3:34pm

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    The point is that the ethical good that is being done, is not because the rights themselves are moral, but because the rights may promote an ethical end.

    I disagree. I think copyrights are moral because people should have the right to the fruit of their labor (Lockean view) and because society is better off for it (utilitarian view). I don't think it has to be an either-or. I don't read the Copyright Clause as taking strictly the utilitarian view since it does call for authors to have a right to the fruits of their labor. As the AC pointed out, the Founders recognized the Lockean view as well. The fact is though you can't say there is only one view that is correct. Individual Founders had their own views--there is no one correct view. The fact is that copyright gives authors a property right to the fruit of their labor.

    Put in the context of the rest of the text, Mazer v. Stein does not seem to be saying what you claim it is: that one purpose of copyright is to reward the "sweat of the brow" of authors. That argument is explicitly denied in Feist v. Rural, among many other cases. In fact, see the very first U.S. copyright case, Wheaton v. Peters: "The argument that a literary man is as much entitled to the product of his labor as any other member of society cannot be controverted. And the answer is that he realizes this product in the sale of his works when first published."

    Feist merely says that the sine qua non of copyright is originality. It doesn't matter how much one toils away creating a new work. If there's no originality, it doesn't get copyright. This is not a refutation of the Lockean notion. It's just an additional requirement for copyrightability.

    Wheaton was merely distinguishing common law copyright in an unpublished work from statutory copyright in a published work. That's not a refutation of the Lockean notion. Authors still get the exclusive right to their works.

    This is a gross misstatement. "It is said that reward to the author or artist serves to induce release to the public of the products of his creative genius" (United States v. Paramount Pictures). "By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas" (Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises). "Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts" (Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken). "The Constitution of the U. S. has limited [monopolies] to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions, in both which they are considered as a compensation for a benefit actually gained to the community as a purchase of property which the owner might otherwise withold from public use" (James Madison). Congress thought the CTEA would "provide copyright owners generally with the incentive to restore older works and further disseminate them to the public." And so forth.

    Yes, public access is to be balanced with private protection. That's the theory. Everything you've quoted there confirms what I said. The hope is that the author will publish and sell the work at a price that rewards the author appropriately and that is affordable to the public. But the fact remains that the author can charge so much that few can afford it, or they can choose to not sell it at all. Access is part of the equation, but it's only one part.

    The language of the statutes certainly implies that publication is the goal. The very definition of "fixed" is "sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration." The (very recently enacted) criminal laws against "leaking" works, specifically cover "the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution."

    Yes, greater public access is one part of the equation, but it's not the only part. Protecting the work and giving the authors the right to exclude, i.e., the right to prevent access, is part of it too. The classical theory is that public access is to be balanced with private protection, as I said.

    And if copyright really was about anything other than "access and dissemination," we would not have such things as statutory royalty rates.

    Statutory rates are an example of where Congress sought to promote access. That doesn't mean that copyright is only about access.

    And you are so set on denying that copyright is all about benefitting the public, that you deny that copyright even can be about anything other than "violating artists' rights." You deny that any other viewpoint even could be ethical.

    It's just a fact that copyright is about rewarding authors and rewarding the public. It's about both. It's about balance. The two are complementary, as the Supreme Court said in Eldred. I don't deny that copyright is in part about benefiting the public. But it benefits the public by giving authors the right to exclude the public for a limited time. You have to look at the whole picture. Pirates skip over the part where authors have the exclusive rights. That's not the bargain envisaged by the Constitution.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 3:43pm

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    I know my post was already way too long-winded, but since we've got a huge discussion on ethics going on here, I felt I also needed to point something out.

    We've all been talking about the "right to exclude." But really, this is just a legal euphemism. In fact, what is granted to authors is the "right to punish."

    Copyright doesn't actually prevent others from doing anything. It only allows artists the right to punish others who do not obey the copyright holder's rules of exclusion.

    It grants them the right to sue me for hundreds of thousands of dollars, put me into bankruptcy, ruin my business, and destroy my life and the lives of my dependents, all for creating or distributing my own copy of a work that he authored. Even if I don't actually do any of this myself, the copyright holder is allowed to do these things if I just "contribute to" others doing it. They can do these things to me even if I never intended to make a profit.

    If those acts are (rather arbitrarily) deemed criminal offenses, it additionally grants the right to the government to kidnap me at gunpoint, take all my property, throw me in a cell, and keep me locked up with murderers and rapists for years on end, all in the author's name.

    This is what we are defending when we defend copyright law. It's important that we never forget that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    The historical copyright record in the U.S. absolutely does consider the plight of the author from a moral perspective.


    So, you quote a guy from Harvard who was not an elected official or a judge, who merely said something in front of Congress?

    Hell, the RIAA has "presented to Congress" too, but that doesn't mean their view of copyright is correct.

    The benefit to the author, rooted in Lockean and utilitarian principles of fairness and justice, was equally important to our Founders when they drafted the Constitution.

    You are correct when you say that the Founders held a Lockean view of property in general. You are absolutely wrong when you say they held this view about copyright.

    Let me just let them tell you themselves:
    Monoplies tho' in certain cases useful ought to be granted with caution, and guarded with strictness agst abuse. The Constitution of the U. S. has limited them to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions, in both which they are considered as a compensation for a benefit actually gained to the community as a purchase of property which the owner might otherwise withold from public use. There can be no just objection to a temporary monopoly in these cases: but it ought to be temporary, because under that limitation a sufficient recompence and encouragement may be given. The limitation is particularly proper in the case of inventions, because they grow so much out of preceding ones that there is the less merit in the authors: and because for the same reason, the discovery might be expected in a short time from other hands.

    Monopolies have been granted in other Countries, and by some of the States in this, on another principle, that of supporting some useful undertaking until1 experience and success should render the monopoly unnecessary, & lead to a salutary competition. . . . But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good.

    In all cases of monopoly, not excepting those specified in favor of authors & inventors, it would be well to reserve to the State, a right to terminate the monopoly by paying a specified and reasonable sum [to the holder.] This would guard against the public discontents resulting from the exorbitant gains of individuals, and from the inconvenient restrictions combined with them.

    - James Madison's "Detached Memorandum"

    So, Madison viewed it not as some Lockean view of the "sweat of the brow," but as a compensation for providing a benefit to the public. And if the "evil effect" on the public outweighed the "benefit actually gained to the community," the monopoly should be terminated.

    Now, let's look at Jefferson:
    It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it, but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

    - Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson

    Not only did Jefferson reject the "sweat of the brow" argument, he didn't think inventions could possibly be considered property at all.

    To say that the "private" ends are unethical or immoral as a matter of fact is to completely ignore the careful balance set forth in the Constitution

    There was no "balance" set forth in the Constitution. The Constitution grants to Congress - charged with acting as the voice of the public - to "promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts." The fact that it does this "by" creating a copyright monopoly does not change it's purpose. It just means that "securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" is the method by which this means is accomplished. There is no "balance," only a goal, and a method of attaining that goal.

    This is not to say there is not such a balance. But that balance is not between the "rights of authors" and the "rights of the public." It's between two competing public interests:
    The enactment of copyright legislation by Congress under the terms of the Constitution is not based on any natural right that the author has in his writings, for the Supreme Court has held that such rights as he has are purely statutory rights, but upon the ground that the welfare of the public will be served and progress of science and useful arts will be promoted by securing to authors for limited periods the exclusive right to their writings. The Constitution does not establish copyrights, but provides that Congress shall have the power to grant such rights if it thinks best. Not primarily for the benefit of the author, but primarily for the benefit of the public such rights are given. Not that any particular class of citizens, however worthy, may benefit, but because the policty is believed to be for the benefit of the great body of people, in that it will stimulate writing and invention, to give some bonus to authors and inventors.

    In enacting a copyright law, Congress must consider two questions: First, how much will the legislation stimulate the producer and so benefit the public; and second, how much will the monopoly granted be detrimental to the public? The granting of such exclusive rights under the proper terms and conditions, cofers a benefit upon the public that outweighs the evils of the temporary monopoly.
    - H.R. Rep. No. 60-2222

    The Supreme Court phrased it the same way in Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken:
    The limited scope of the copyright holder's statutory monopoly, like the limited copyright duration required by the Constitution, reflects a balance of competing claims upon the public interest: Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts. The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an "author's" creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.

    Similarly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the "sweat of the brow" argument. The first time it did so was in the very first copyright case:
    The argument that a literary man is as much entitled to the product of his labor as any other member of society cannot be controverted. And the answer is that he realizes this product in the sale of his works when first published. [...]

    The word "secure," as used in the Constitution, could not mean the protection of an acknowledged legal right. It refers to inventors as well as authors, and it has never been pretended by anyone either in this country or in England that an inventor has a perpetual right at common law to sell the thing invented. [...]

    Congress, by the act of 1790, instead of sanctioning an existing perpetual right in an author in his works, created the right, secured for a limited time, by the provisions of that law.

    So, artists do not have an inalienable property right in their own writings; and copyright is not designed to protect the "sweat of the brow." Lest there is any confusion on the issue, here is the specific idea that the majority opinion explicitly rejected, from Justice Thompson's dissent:
    The great principle on which the author's right rests is that it is the fruit or production of his own labor, and which may, by the labor of the faculties of the mind, establish a right of property as well as by the faculties of the body [...]

    No proposition seems more conformable to that criterion than that everyone should enjoy the reward of his labor, the harvest where he has sown, or the fruit of the tree which he has planted. Whether literary property is sui generis or under whatever denomination of rights it may be classed, it seems founded upon the same principle of general utility to society, which is the basis of all other moral rights and obligations. Thus considered, an author's copyright ought to be esteemed an invaluable right, established in sound reason and abstract morality.

    Had this been true, authors would have a "common law" property right in their works after publication. But according to the majority opinion, they do not.

    Of course, the most famous case rejecting the "sweat of the brow" argument, was Feist v. Rural:
    It may seem unfair that much of the fruit of the compiler's labor may be used by others without compensation. As Justice Brennan has correctly observed, however, this is not "some unforeseen byproduct of a statutory scheme." It is, rather, "the essence of copyright," and a constitutional requirement. The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts."

    This is not even an issue. Nobody who studies copyright law believes that "rewarding the labor of authors" is copyright's purpose. Not the Nimmers, not Patry, not Volokh, not Lessig - nobody.

    Simply put, were the "evil" of securing private rights truly as immoral and evil as you suggest, the Founders and the generations of legislators that followed, could have easily stomped out such evil by removing Congress's power to grant such rights in the first instance or refused to implement the power granted by the Constitution once adopted.

    Simply put, the "evil" that copyright does has only outweighed the benefits to the public within our lifetimes, most especially within the past twenty years.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Re:

    In case it wasn't obvious, that was me. Don't know how I got signed out.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re:

    You are correct when you say that the Founders held a Lockean view of property in general. You are absolutely wrong when you say they held this view about copyright.

    That's patently false and easily disproved. There's plenty of evidence that the framers held Lockean views specifically about copyright.

    For example, a committee under the Articles of Confederation in 1783 concluded that "nothing is more properly a man’s own than the fruit of his study, and that the protection and security of literary property would greatly tend to encourage genius." 24 Journal of the Continental Congress 211.

    And the Massachusetts copyright law in 1783 provided "Whereas the Improvement of Knowledge, the Progress of Civilization, the public Weal of the Community, and the Advancement of Human Happiness, greatly depend on the Efforts of learned and ingenious Persons in the various Arts and Sciences: As the principal Encouragement such Persons can have to make great and beneficial Exertions of this Nature must exist in the legal Security of the Fruits of their Study and Industry to themselves; and as such Security is one of the natural Rights of all Men, there being no Property more peculiarly a Man's own than that which is produced by the Labour of his Mind." Bruce W. Bugbee, Genesis of American Patent and Copyright Law (1967), p. 114.

    Many other state copyright laws at the time were couched in similar terms.

    Here's a letter from Joel Barrow to Congress in 1783: "There is certainly no kind of property, in the nature of things, so much his own, as the works which a person originates from his own creative imagination: And when he has spent great part of his life in study, wasted his time, his fortune & perhaps his health in improving his knowledge & correcting his taste, it is a principle of natural justice that he should be entitled to the profits arising from the sale of his works as a compensation for his labor in producing them, & his risque of reputation in offering them to the Public. From these considerations it is, that most of the civilized nati- ons have removed the natural obstructions which lie in the way of literary emulation, & given the consequent encouragement to every species of laudable ambition." http://copy.law.cam.ac.uk/cam/tools/request/showRepresentation.php?id=representation_us_1783b&pa genumber=1_2&imagesize=small#TranscriptionDisplay

    There's plenty more where that came from.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:48pm

    So, you quote a guy from Harvard who was not an elected official or a judge, who merely said something in front of Congress?

    This is not merely a "guy" from Harvard. He is a preeminent copyright scholar who testified before Congress and who is now regularly quoted in copyright textbooks and treatises. You also completely ignored AJ's Supreme Court quotes, as well as those I cited above. It should be clear to any objective reader that there is a strong current of authors' moral rights that carries through the judicial, congressional, and historical record. To pretend otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest.

    It is dismaying to me that you won't give an inch in this debate, Karl. While AJ and I both recognize that the public benefit embodied in copyright law, you, despite all of the evidence presented in this forum, refuse to recognize the simple fact that the ethical rights of authors was and is an important consideration in copyright policy and constitutional understanding.

    I leave it to readers to make up their own minds based on this discussion and the evidence presented herein, since Karl's is unfortunately already made up.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re:

    Nobody who studies copyright law believes that "rewarding the labor of authors" is copyright's purpose. Not the Nimmers, not Patry, not Volokh, not Lessig - nobody.

    Here's Nimmer:
    Yet, one may well inquire as to whether the monopoly inherent in copyright requires any greater justification in terms of public welfare than does the monopoly that is an essential concomitant of any form of private property. This, of course, poses the philosophical issue as to whether copyright should be regarded as properly based upon the “natural right” concept fundamental (at least in origin) to the theory of private property. The fruits of an author’s labor seem to be no less deserving of the privileges and status of “property” than are the more tangible creative efforts of other laborers. True, the concept of property as related to copyright may not lay claim to the immemorial usage applicable to realty and tangible personality so that in the well worn legal phrase, the memory of man does “runneth to the contrary.” Nevertheless there is nothing to indicate that the Framers in recognizing copyright intended any higher standard of creation in terms of serving the public interest than that required for other forms of personal property. We may assume that the men who wrote the Constitution regarded the system of private property per se as in the public interest. In according a property status to copyright, they merely extended a recognition of this public interest into a new sector.

    Therefore, the phrase “To promote the progress. of science. and useful arts …” must be read as largely in the nature of a preamble, indicating the purpose of the power but not in limitation. of its exercise.
    1-1 Nimmer on Copyright § 1.03 (emphasis added).

    So he's saying that all private property serves the public good. And since copyright is private property, it serves the public good as well. But there's nothing special about it. Notice too that he thinks the preambular "to promote the progress" is not a limitation on the Copyright Clause power. This comports with what Lessig conceded in oral arguments during Eldred. In other words, your argument that unless the right serves the public good (and Mike's argument that it must maximize the public good) doesn't hold up. Nor does the argument that each work, taken individually, must "promote the progress." Nimmer explains further:
    Under the currently prevailing view, set forth in Mitchell Bros. Film Group v. Cinema Adult Theater the introductory phrase of the Copyright Clause does not require that each of the “writings” protected by copyright in fact promote science or useful arts, but only Congress shall be promoting these ends by its copyright legislation. Thus,

    although Congress could require that each copyrighted work be shown to protect the useful arts (as it has with patents), it need not do so … Congress could reasonably conclude that the best way to promote creativity is not to impose any governmental restrictions on the subject matter of copyrightable works. By making this choice Congress removes the chilling effect of governmental judgments on potential authors and avoids the strong possibility that governmental officials (including judges) will err in separating the useful from the non-useful … . We conclude that the protection of all writings, without regard to their content, is a constitutionally permissible means of promoting science and the useful arts.
    Id.

    I like how that quote brings in the concept of chilling effects, an oft-trumpeted phrase on Techdirt. If Congress actually required each work to promote the progress, that would cause a chilling effect on authors who would worry about passing governmental scrutiny as a hurdle for copyrightability.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 5:55am

    Re:

    It is dismaying to me that you won't give an inch in this debate, Karl. While AJ and I both recognize that the public benefit embodied in copyright law, you, despite all of the evidence presented in this forum, refuse to recognize the simple fact that the ethical rights of authors was and is an important consideration in copyright policy and constitutional understanding.

    All of my discussions with Karl suffer from this same problem. It's like debating a brick wall. If you prove his point wrong, rather than concede it he'll go off on a bunch of tangents. The threads turn into these crazy long posts where there's dozens of points being made with none of them being conceded or settled. As you point out his errors, the responses get longer and more tangential. It's frustrating, but I've learned to not let it get to me.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 9:37am

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

    Nice in theory, not so much in practice in this day and age.

    Copyright pretty much doesn't expire anymore and when Micky get close again I have no doubt that Disney will attempt to extend it further.


    The public gets benefits too while the work is under copyright, at least to the extent the owner chooses to market it.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 9:40am

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

    How important is this incentive nowadays? It made more sense when there was a higher barrier in relation to distribution costs. Today an artist can release a work to millions at virtually no cost in a matter of seconds.

    That an artist can easily distribute the work isn't the issue. The issue is whether they are making any money while doing so. Since it's so cheap to distribute now, it's that much easier for pirates to distribute the artists' works without giving the artist any of the profits (like from advertising). You haven't identified a reason for less copyright. You've identified the problem of piracy.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 9:42am

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

    If I take this argument at face value, my question is this: How to increase enforcement?

    Increasing enforcement only seems to create greater public disdain for copyright and causes even more people to ignore it. How do you suggest increasing enforcement in a way that doesn't actually do the reverse?


    That's the question many are trying to answer. I think the six strikes thing is a good idea, and I like Lemley's idea of a "speeding ticket" for infringement. People ignore it because it's easy to get away with it and websites like Techdirt tell them it's OK. I think the tide will turn as people start to realize that they will get caught and it does cause harm.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    All of my discussions with Karl suffer from this same problem. It's like debating a brick wall. If you prove his point wrong, rather than concede it he'll go off on a bunch of tangents.

    If I go off on a bunch of tangents, it's only because I'm replying to points that were raised by other people in the debate. But you're right. This has gotten off track. We were not talking about Colonial history, nor about the legislative history of copyright.

    We were talking about ethics. So let's get back to that.

    For the sake of argument, let's say you're right about the monopoly right in expression being an innate "property" right, and that if I infringe on this right by creating or distributing my own copies without authorization, then I am "stealing" this property. And let's say that this property right is a priori ethical (though you've never said why it should be ethical).

    So, once again, I ask you: How could it possibly be ethical for me to download a copy of "Night of the Living Dead?" After all, I am "stealing" Romero's property. The fact that I am doing it without breaking the law tells us nothing about the ethics of the act - only that the law is unjust.

    How is it that you can believe it's evil to infringe on the author's property rights in one instance, but absolutely ethical to to infringe on the author's property rights in another?

    You have never given me an answer to this. And, frankly, I don't think you even can.

    I, personally, have never been conflicted this issue. I don't believe that copyright is a form of "property," in the Lockean sense. "Stealing" this form of "property" is not a priori unethical. It is, in fact, accomplishing the only ethical thing that copyright itself even could accomplish: the widespread distribution of works to the public.

    That does not mean I believe it is legal. It does not even mean I believe it should be legal; we often tolerate restrictions on ethical acts, if it achieves a greater good overall. It means that I believe it is a necessary evil. And that, therefore, it should be as limited as possible to achieve its ethical goals.

    But you, obviously, do not believe that. You believe it is so unethical, that people should have their property taken away, be sued into bankruptcy, have their businesses destroyed, and possibly taken at gunpoint and thrown in jail. You believe that it is so unethical, that prosecuting it deserves more exemptions from due process and prior restraint than other forms of unlawful speech. You believe it is so unethical, that it should be punished even if authors benefit from it.

    And you believe that piracy is so unethical, it entitles you to act like an asshole to everyone who disagrees with you. You have - consistently - mucked up numerous threads on this site with personal insults, called the Techdirt authors "slimebags" and "liars" and "cowards," because their personal ethical views don't view piracy as unethical enough for you.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 10:50am

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

    Ah, the carrot or the stick. You lean towards the stick. I'm more of a carrot kinda of person.

    I think scaling copyright back towards the original agreement would develop more respect for copyright and stop the problem at the core.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If I go off on a bunch of tangents, it's only because I'm replying to points that were raised by other people in the debate. But you're right. This has gotten off track. We were not talking about Colonial history, nor about the legislative history of copyright.

    We were talking about ethics. So let's get back to that.


    Not so fast. I'll gladly address the rest of your points, but I want to see if we can reach a consensus on the issue of whether the framers held Lockean views about copyright. You claimed categorically that they did not. I provided some evidence that they did, including laws and writings from the time of the founding as well as subsequent Supreme Court language acknowledging the Lockean aspects of copyright law. I pointed out that the Constitution itself takes the view that authors should the exclusive rights to the fruits of their labors, and I cited Nimmer to say the opposite of what you claimed he said. I can cite tons and tons more of evidence proving that many held Lockean views of copyright at the founding. I've got law review articles, books, case law, you name it.

    I want to know, do you still stand by this unequivocal statement: "You are correct when you say that the Founders held a Lockean view of property in general. You are absolutely wrong when you say they held this view about copyright." You typically make these broad statements as absolute fact, even as to things like this that are so easy to disprove. I'm curious how you can sweep aside all of the evidence to the contrary. I'm curious if you can concede the point.

    Answer me that, then I'll tackle your questions.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 11:04am

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

    I think scaling copyright back towards the original agreement would develop more respect for copyright and stop the problem at the core.

    I think copyright could be scaled back to the original 14 years plus the formalities, and the pirates would continue to just take whatever they want. The "copyright is so screwed up so I don't obey it" excuse is empty, IMO. Greedy is as greedy does.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'll gladly address the rest of your points, but I want to see if we can reach a consensus on the issue of whether the framers held Lockean views about copyright.

    Well, keep in mind that this was the idea I was rebutting: "To our Founders, men had a just and equitable right to their property; intellectual property was no different."

    It is absolutely true that many Colonial governments held a "natural rights" view of copyright. But it would be an overstatment to say they considered it a Lockean form of property; generally they used wording like "the Sole privilege." Nor would it be accurate to say that this is the reason copyright laws were enacted. For example, nearly all had various registration requirements, and about half had an explicit legal requirement that the author release "a sufficient number of copies" to the public "at reasonable prices." Nearly all of the bills creating the statutes had titles like "A Bill to Advance Learning and the Sciences."

    It's interesting to keep in mind that prior to 1783, general copyright statutes did not exist. Individual authors had to petition the colonial governments to pass bills granting them private monopolies on specific works. But this is another one of my tangents.

    In any case, talking about Colonial law is not the same as talking about the Founding Fathers.

    To do that, we have to look to the Founders that were involved in the Copyright Clause. Most simply didn't give a rat's ass; the original draft didn't even contain one at all. The only ones that I know about were Charles Pinckney, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. We only know Pickney cared because he introduced an earlier draft; as far as I know, he never wrote about his reasoning.

    Madison and Jefferson we've already heard from once, but this exchange may clear things up:

    The saying there shall be no monopolies lessens the incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of 14 years; but the benefit even of limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppression.
    - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, July 31, 1788

    With regard to monopolies they are justly classified among the greatest nuisances in Government. But is it clear that as encouragements to literary works and ingenious discoveries, they are not too valuable to be wholly renounced? Would it not suffice to reserve in all cases a right to the Public to abolish the privilege at a price to be specified in the grant of it? Is there not also infinitely less danger of this abuse in our Governments, than in most others? Monopolies are sacrifices of the many to the few. Where the power is in the few it is natural for them to sacrifice the many to their own partialities and corruptions. Where the power, as with us, is in the many and not in the few, the danger can not be very great that the few will be thus favored. It is much more to be dreaded that the few will be unnecessarily sacrificed to the many.
    - James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788

    Madison himself wrote two proposed versions of the Copyright Clause: "to secure to literary authors their copyrights for a limited time," and "to encourage, by proper premiums & Provisions, the advancement of useful knowledge and discoveries."

    These are not the words of people talking about some Lockean view of private property. They are not creating the Copyright Clause due to some utilitarian notion of a "just and equitable right."

    However, while researching this post, I ran across a quote from Thomas Paine: "It may, with propriety, be remarked, that in all countries where literature is protected (and it cannot flourish where it is not), the works of an author are his legal property; and to treat letters in any other light than this, is to banish them from the country, or strangle them at birth."

    So, that's one founding father who did think of copyright fundamentally in terms of Lockean property. However, he had nothing to do with the Copyright Clause.

    It's also of note that a few of the Founders (e.g. Ben Franklin) were themselves "pirates" of English books. It would be hard to believe that they held some sort of "natural rights" view of copyright, where authors had "a just and equitable right to their property."

    Let's just say this. For the most part, the Founders did not consider copyright to be exactly the same as Locke's notion of private property.

    Some of them did. Some of them believed copyright was an author's "property," but of a different sort. Some of them did not think of copyright as any form of property at all. Some believed copyright should exist to guarantee a "just reward" for the fruits of their labors. Some believed that copyright should exist solely to serve the public interest.

    The only thing that is categorically true, is that they all believed knowledge and learning would be advanced by providing authors with a special reward for their labors.

    And absolutely none of this has anything to do with whether current copyright law is ethical.

    Is that a good enough answer?

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 3:55pm

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

    I think copyright could be scaled back to the original 14 years plus the formalities, and the pirates would continue to just take whatever they want.

    Perhaps. But I thought the real goal was to have copyright respected by the so called "average customer". You know, the ones that they are really trying to get back to following copyright laws by increasing enforcement and blocking search links. Obviously, infringement will never be completely eradicated, but I thought the object was to push it to the fringes.

    The "copyright is so screwed up so I don't obey it" excuse is empty, IMO.

    I really don't think it's an excuse either. For the average person I wouldn't think it's even a really a conscious moral decision at all. They just know that copyright laws tend to get in the way of what feels like basic human nature to them without any perceivable benefit forthcoming. Some level of respect needs to be restored or you will continue to spin your wheels trying to stop piracy, IMO.

    Greedy is as greedy does.

    You see a glass half empty, I see one half full when it comes to human nature.

    And with such wonderful allies like the **AA's on the copyright maximalism side, the "you pirates are greedy!" argument kind of falls a bit flat.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, keep in mind that this was the idea I was rebutting: "To our Founders, men had a just and equitable right to their property; intellectual property was no different."

    Yes, to which you replied:

    You are correct when you say that the Founders held a Lockean view of property in general. You are absolutely wrong when you say they held this view about copyright.

    So your claim is explicitly that the Founders did not hold a Lockean, natural rights view of copyright.

    It is absolutely true that many Colonial governments held a "natural rights" view of copyright.

    I don't think that's actually true. I don't think the natural rights view took hold until the period of the Founding, i.e. after the colonial period and the Declaration of Independence. States didn't pass individual copyright laws until then.

    In any case, talking about Colonial law is not the same as talking about the Founding Fathers.

    True. That's irrelevant.

    To do that, we have to look to the Founders that were involved in the Copyright Clause.

    The claim isn't that only the Founders who were involved in the drafting of the Copyright Clause. The claim is the Founders, which includes more than your cherry-picked set of three.

    And the evidence that the Founders held a Lockean, natural rights view of copyright is overwhelming and undeniable. Pulling out the letters as you do from TJ and JM after fact is obvious cherry-picking, but you're missing all of the other evidence that leaves no doubt that Founders held a Lockean, natural rights view of copyright. Let's look at the bigger picture.

    Here's a good source (well-researched and with citations): http://copy.law.cam.ac.uk/cam/commentary/us_1783a/us_1783a_com_672007191141.html

    Here's some sampled text:
    The first general copyright statute to be enacted in the American states. Copyright Statutes that created general copyright regimes on the state level were passed in twelve out of thirteen of the states between 1783 and 1786. The states' copyright enactments were the result of local lobbying by various authors and their political allies, and of a resolution by the Continental Congress recommending such state legislation. They mark a rising interest in the United States in copyright protection and an ideological reorientation toward authors' rights and interests. The commentary describes the lobbying process on the state and national level, the emergence of an articulated ideology of authors' copyright based on natural rights and utilitarian justifications, and the main institutional features of copyright under the state statutes.

    The state statutes were a result of a growing awareness of the need to "encourage" local authors and learning, intense lobbying on the state and national level, and the existence of an established institutional model in the form of the British Statute of Anne. The statutes were promoted and justified on the basis of three characteristic arguments: the natural rights of authors, the social benefit of promoting learning, and the national interest of the young republic in establishing its literary and cultural status among the leading civilized nations. As opposed to the sporadic colonial "encouragements" of printing projects, authors rather than printers or publishers now became the figures dominating copyright thought.

    The letter remained ambiguous, however, in regard to whether Smith was recommending a general copyright regime or simply individual grants: "Every attempt of this nature undoubtedly merits the encouragement of the public; because it is by such attempts that systems of education are gradually perfected in every country, and the elements of knowledge rendered more easy to be acquired. Men of industry or of talents in any way, have a right to the property of their production; and it encourages invention and improvement to secure it to them by certain laws, as has been practiced in European countries with advantage and success. And it is my opinion tat it does no damage to the state, and may be of benefit to it, to vest, by a law, the sole right of publishing and vending such works in the authors of them."

    Barlow elaborated three main grounds for the need of copyright protection to authors. First, he appealed to a natural rights argument that presented the author's creative labor as the basis of a property right. "There is certainly no kind of property, in the nature of things," Barlow wrote, "so much his own as the works which a person originates from his own creative imagination," and concluded that "it is a principle of natural justice that he should be entitled to the profits arising from the sale of his works." Second, Barlow offered a utilitarian argument, explaining that "we are not to expect to see any works of considerable magnitude... offered to the Public till such security is given" and referring to two authors who already suppressed their works due to fear of piracy.

    Congress presented with the petitions by Barlow and others and with a copy of the recently passed Connecticut statute[ referred the matter to a three-person committee. On April 28, 1783 the committee submitted a favorable report that included a strong endorsement of both the natural-rights and the utilitarian justification of authors' copyright. The committee found that: "nothing is more properly a man's own than the fruit of his study, and that the protection and security of literary property would greatly tend to encourage genius, to promote useful discoveries and to the general extension of the arts and commerce"

    The preambles contained various mixes of two justifications for copyright: the natural right of the author in the fruits of his labor, and the encouragement of learning for the benefit of the community. The Massachusetts preamble, though one of the more elaborate ones, is representative: "Whereas the improvement of knowledge, the progress of civilization, the public weal of community, and the advancement of human happiness, greatly depend on the efforts of learned and ingenious persons in the various arts and sciences: as the principle encouragement such persons can have to make great and beneficial exertions of their nature must exist in the legal security of the fruits of their study and industry to themselves; and as such security is one of the natural rights of all men there being no property more peculiarly a man's own than that which is produced by the labor of his mind."

    First, the states' statutes and the deliberative process surrounding them on both the state and the federal level stimulated the articulation and consolidation of new author-based copyright ideology in the United States. Together with the individual legislative privileges the statutes were the main social site where the new concept of authors' copyright and its two main rationales - natural rights and public utility - appeared for the first time in the United States. This prepared the ground and defined the ideological terms for the federal developments that would soon follow.
    So during the Founding, you have the committee of the Continental Congress recommending to the states that they pass copyright statutes for both utilitarian and natural rights reasons. 12 out of 13 states enact copyright laws, 10 of which explicitly state the natural rights purpose of copyright in the statute. So 10 out of 13 states during the Founding had explicit, Lockean, natural rights-based copyright laws on the books.

    That to me is undeniable evidence that a majority of the Founders held Lockean, natural rights views of copyright.

    These are not the words of people talking about some Lockean view of private property. They are not creating the Copyright Clause due to some utilitarian notion of a "just and equitable right."

    Who gets the exclusive rights to their creations? Authors. That's a Lockean, natural rights view. 10 out of 13 states had laws during the Founding that explicitly state the natural rights view. They get together and create a Constitution that includes a natural rights view. The Copyright Clause doesn't contain all the fancy natural rights language that the state statutes did, but it in facts gives the exclusive rights to the authors who create the works. The idea of "securing" exclusive rights to authors in their works is a Lockean, natural rights view.

    It's also of note that a few of the Founders (e.g. Ben Franklin) were themselves "pirates" of English books. It would be hard to believe that they held some sort of "natural rights" view of copyright, where authors had "a just and equitable right to their property."

    BF could have just hated the British. That doesn't prove that he didn't hold a natural rights view.

    Let's just say this. For the most part, the Founders did not consider copyright to be exactly the same as Locke's notion of private property.

    Now you're moving the goalposts with the word "exactly." The claim is that they held a Lockean, i.e., natural rights view. In other words, that there is something inherently fair in giving property rights to the author who creates the work. 12/13 states had laws that gave rights to authors. 10/13 states explicitly stated that it was for natural rights reasons. And the Copyright Clause gives authors, nay it "secures" to authors, the exclusive rights to their works. It doesn't give the rights to anyone else. It gives the rights to the same party (the author) in the same way as all the states who had explicit natural rights reasons for enacting copyright laws. It's not tenable to say that everyone just changed their minds about the reason for securing to authors the rights in their creations.

    Some of them did. Some of them believed copyright was an author's "property," but of a different sort. Some of them did not think of copyright as any form of property at all. Some believed copyright should exist to guarantee a "just reward" for the fruits of their labors. Some believed that copyright should exist solely to serve the public interest.

    Is that a good enough answer?


    It's better. Before you claimed categorically that no Founder held a Lockean view of copyright. Now you admit that some did. If we can get you to "almost all did" we'll be there.

    I think the part you're missing is that the Copyright Clause reflects both the natural rights view and the utilitarian view. It gives authors exclusive rights (natural rights view) and it promotes the progress (utilitarian view). The two are inextricably intertwined and complementary.

    And absolutely none of this has anything to do with whether current copyright law is ethical.

    Sure it does. If you recognize that copyright is in part about authors' natural rights, then that makes piracy all the more immoral. Throw in the moral, personality theory as well as the economic, utilitarian theory of copyright and you've got piracy violating people rights on several different levels.

    I'll note too that I think you're misreading Feist. While it's true that the Court rejected the "sweat of the brow" doctrine, which signifies physical labor, they explicitly state in that very opinion that copyright is about protecting intellectual labor: "The writings which are to be protected are the fruits of intellectual labor, embodied in the form of books, prints, engravings, and the like." Feist, 499 U.S. at 346, quoting In re Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82, 94 (1879).

    And note too that the originality prerequisite to copyrightability is a really low bar: "To be sure, the requisite level of creativity is extremely low; even a slight amount will suffice. The vast majority of works make the grade quite easily, as they possess some creative spark, no matter how crude, humble or obvious” it might be." Id. at 345.

    The Court does not at all reject the Lockean, natural rights view of copyright. Instead, they explicitly cite it as the source of copyright. Several subsequent opinions make the explicit point, as was cited above.

    The bottom line is that the Founders held BOTH natural rights notions and utilitarian notions of copyright. The Copyright Clause reflects Both views.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    We were talking about ethics. So let's get back to that.

    I think you're using ethics and morals interchangeably. That's fine with me. I know there is a difference, but I don't think it matters (and I'm too lazy/don't care enough to pull out my old philosophy text).

    So, once again, I ask you: How could it possibly be ethical for me to download a copy of "Night of the Living Dead?" After all, I am "stealing" Romero's property. The fact that I am doing it without breaking the law tells us nothing about the ethics of the act - only that the law is unjust. How is it that you can believe it's evil to infringe on the author's property rights in one instance, but absolutely ethical to to infringe on the author's property rights in another? You have never given me an answer to this. And, frankly, I don't think you even can.

    My views are fairly simple. I don't take a consequentialist view, e.g., I don't look at whether a particular action, like infringement, will advance or impede the progress. I'm not sure how anyone could ever even test that empirically, or even what exactly promoting the progress means. There's several theories, and I don't think one is more correct than any others. I don't believe in broad fair/personal use rights, and I don't favor narrow fair/personal use rights. I'm somewhere in the middle. I think the theory of balancing access and incentives is nice, but I don't think that's how it works in the real world nor do I think it ever really could. Just as it's hard to prove damages from infringement, it's hard to prove that any rule optimizes private incentives and public benefits. I think all sides of the debate make good points, and I think all sides can poke holes in the other sides' arguments. I think the rhetoric and the practice rarely coincide, no matter which side of the debate you look at.

    So what do I believe?

    At bottom I'm a Lockean. I think it makes sense to give people a property right in their creations, both physical and intellectual. This isn't the only view I subscribe to, but it's the one I most identify with. This view is called the natural rights view, but I don't subscribe to the view that this is how God intended it to be or anything like that. I just think it's fair. Someone expends labor, they own the results of that labor. It's a very nonconsequentialist view. It doesn't turn on whether society is made better or whether the public domain is enriched or anything like that. You build it, you own it. I don't expect anyone to justify their ownership of tangible property just like I don't expect them to justify their ownership of intangible property.

    But that's not the only view I hold. I also recognize that free speech is a fundamental value, and copyright in some ways inhibits free speech. I don't think the inhibition is great--I believe the idea/expression dichotomy and fair use are wonderful safety valves--but I do recognize the tension between the two. This view is consequentialist in that recognizes the public good that comes from free speech, and it's nonconsequentialist because it recognizes the right to speak free from government restraint. There is a freedom to use the works of others, but that freedom must be reconciled with Lockean principles of private property rights. Whether or not the definitional balancing that exists between copyright and free speech adequately balances the two is an interesting question. I don't think there's a right answer per se, but I think the balancing that does exist is pretty good at doing it's job. As long as ideas don't get locked up and as long as you can copy verbatim within reason, I don't see a lot of tension here. I think the consequentialist whine too much on that score, and they try and mask their disagreement about policy choices with constitutionally-based arguments.

    There's a personality argument for copyright that I think is interesting. I haven't read much about it or thought much about it. It's the idea that the work is a part of the author. It's an extension of their personality. That may be true, but I'm not sure what that means in practical terms.

    I do like the utilitarian argument, which is a more consequentialist view. It's hard not to like the idea that copyright promotes the public good. I don't think there's any need to maximize the public good, nor do I think that's even possible. There's not one meaning of public good. To the extent the theory calls for a balancing of private and public rights, I think the goal is laudable on its face. But I don't really know what that means or how you'd prove it empirically. The premise seems to be that there's a balancing point that maximizes the two, but I think in practice it's probably more of a continuum. It's hard to make black-and-white rules to govern a continuous situation.

    As to the morality of infringement, I have the very simple view that the property right and the morality of infringing that right are coextensive. It's moral for the owner of the right to "Night of the Living Dead" to have copyright rights in his work, for all the reasons I think copyright makes sense. But once he loses that right, the right is gone and it's not immoral for you to download the movie. I don't know why they lost the copyright in the work, but I don't think it really matters. Do they have the right or not? If no, then download away. If yes, then don't. The morality and the right go hand-in-hand. As strongly as I believe in the existence of property rights, I believe equally as strongly in their absence. If you own a lake and disallow me to swim in it, then that ends the matter. It's wrong for me to trespass. But if you sell that lake to another who opens it up to the public, swim away. And if the government takes that lake citing eminent domain (and paying just compensation) to open it up to the public, then I'll swim away there as well.

    When it comes to property rights, which is all that copyright is, the morality turns on the existence of the right. If you have the right, I shouldn't violate it. If you don't, there's no moral issue. This is no accident. The rights that do exist got there because of the inherent morality that subsists. I can't imagine how a property rights system could evolve over millenia unless it tracked society's view of what's right and wrong. There are examples of where it's OK to violate someone's property rights, like I can break into your cabin to seek shelter from a bear that's chasing me, but the common law developed rules to deal with such circumstances--for example, the defense of necessity. But in the run of the mill scenario, it's just wrong to violate someone's property rights. It doesn't matter whether the violation causes damage necessarily. A technical trespass is still a trespass.

    But you, obviously, do not believe that. You believe it is so unethical, that people should have their property taken away, be sued into bankruptcy, have their businesses destroyed, and possibly taken at gunpoint and thrown in jail. You believe that it is so unethical, that prosecuting it deserves more exemptions from due process and prior restraint than other forms of unlawful speech. You believe it is so unethical, that it should be punished even if authors benefit from it.

    I believe that if someone violates the property rights of others, then they should be held accountable. This idea is thousands of years old. The extent of the harmed caused goes to the issue of damages, but the infringement per se should give rise to liability.

    And you believe that piracy is so unethical, it entitles you to act like an asshole to everyone who disagrees with you. You have - consistently - mucked up numerous threads on this site with personal insults, called the Techdirt authors "slimebags" and "liars" and "cowards," because their personal ethical views don't view piracy as unethical enough for you.

    I think Mike Masnick is a morally-bankrupt coward who couldn't be honest about copyright if his life depended on it. The fact that he refuses to ever engage any detractor on the merits without resorting to name-calling and condescension says it all. I think he's fundamentally a bad person. Not because he holds different values than me, but because of the intellectual dishonesty that he displays day after day. All he cares about is shitting on IP law. He does not seek the truth--and I think the truth is all that actually matters.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 11:18am

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

    Before you claimed categorically that no Founder held a Lockean view of copyright. Now you admit that some did. If we can get you to "almost all did" we'll be there.

    I was not claiming categorically that no Founder held a Lockean view of copyright. The statement I was refuting was that all Founders did have a Lockean view of copyright. The A.C. seemed to be saying that the Lockean view of copyright as private property, and the "fruits of labor" view that Locke held, were universally accpted among the Founders. Perhaps I misunderstood his intent, but if that is what he meant, it is something I will still categorically reject.

    I'll concede the point that most of the states' copyright laws were justified, partially or mainly, by a Lockean "natural rights" standpoint, due mainly to the arguments of Joel Barlow. I will also concede that the Continental Congress report, being directly influenced by Barlow, espoused this view as well.

    I will also concede this point. In general, Revolutionary law did not see any conflict between the "natural rights" view of copyright, and the "public good" view of copyright. Most statutes at the time espoused both views.

    But I won't concede that about the majority of Founders unless you can actually show me passages written by those Founders themselves. Madison, for example, was actually in the committee that wrote the Continental Congress report - but saying he held a Lockean "natural rights" view of copyright would be, at best, an oversimplification.

    And when it comes to the Continental Convention in Philadelphia, the viewpoint of everyone involved was that copyright was a monopoly, not any sort of property right. Examples:
    I like it as far as it goes; but I should have been for going further. For instance, the following alterations and additions would have pleased me. [...] Art. 9. Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature and their own inventions in the arts for a term not exceeding __ years but for no longer term and for no other purpose. [...] These restrictions I think are so guarded as to hinder evil only. However if we do not have them now, I have so much confidence in our countrymen as to be satisfied that we shall have them as soon as the degeneracy of our government shall render them necessary.
    - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison

    As to those monopolies, which, by way of premiums, are granted for certain years to ingenious discoveries in medicine, machines and useful arts; they are common in all countries, and more necessary in this, as the government has no resources to reward extraordinary merit.
    - Rev. Nicholas Cottin, Remarks on the Amendments to the Federal Constitution

    I have just been reading Smith on the Wealth of Nations & he has taught me to look with an unfavorable eye on monopolies - But a monopoly of the mental kind I take to be laudable & an exception to the Rule.
    - James Kent to Nathaniel Lawrence

    [M]onopolies in trade or arts, other than to authors of books or inventors of useful arts, for a reasonable time, ought not to be suffered.
    - "Centinel," from Pennsylvania, quoted in "The Documentary History Of The Constitution Of The United States Of America"

    So, while the "natural rights" argument was certainly espoused in the state statutes, as well as in the report of the Continental Congress, it does not appear to have played any role whatsoever in the debate surrounding the Copyright Clause itself.

    Additionally, the first Federal Copyright Act was entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning," and did not mention authors' "natural rights" at all.

    And in any case, the "natural rights" view (also called the "common law copyright" view) was laid to rest in Wheaton v. Peters. But this is probably another tangent.

    And, again, none of this has anything to do with ethics. Even if I did concede that all the Founders held the view that copyright was based on Lockean views of "natural rights," or "equitable justice," or whatever, that does not mean that the Founders were correct, or that their viewpoints were moral. We are currently arguing about history, not ethics.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 2:58pm

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

    And, again, none of this has anything to do with ethics.

    Speaking of ethics, I should also let you know that I do, in fact, hold kind of a "fruits of my labor" moral viewpoint. I believe it is unethical for anyone else to make money directly off of my works, without compensation, unless I grant permission.

    But the ethical problem isn't my "loss" of potential income; it's someone else gaining income directly from my work.

    So, for example, someone who sells my album without compensating me, has acted unethically. Someone who buys that album has not. Neither is it unethical to "pirate" my album, provided that it's not done for profit.

    And, since it's not unethical for others to "pirate" my work for non-profit reasons, it's not unethical for someone to facilitate that "piracy" - even for profit. For example, let's say someone decided to run a non-profit library that is open to the public. It would not be unethical for a landlord to rent space to this library, even though the landlord is making money. It would be unethical to claim the landlord is "pirating" books.

    In fact, the end goal of writing music - like the end goal of all artistic creation - is widespread public enjoyment of my music. Anything that achieves this goal must of necessity serve an ethical end. And here, I mean that it serves my own private ethical interests in creating art; not (just) the interests of the public. So my "sweat of the brow" moral interests must be balanced against my private "widespread distribution" moral interests.

    But obviously, both interests are trumped by the public good. Gaining the fruits of my labor simply cannot result in public harm, or else it is unethical. It would be nothing but outright greed.

    Until very recently, copyright law satisfied my ethical viewpoint, so I have no problem with the way it was. It is only now that "piracy" is shorthand for "non-commercial sharing between members of the general public" that I believe it is unethical. Not just slightly unethical, either; but outright dangerous.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 5:30pm

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

    Let me ask you this: Do you think Mike thinks that simple piracy is immoral? The most he'll say is that piracy is not OK because it goes against the wishes of creators. But that doesn't equate to thinking it's immoral. What do you think his position is?

     

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  219.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 9:39pm

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

    Do you think Mike thinks that simple piracy is immoral? The most he'll say is that piracy is not OK because it goes against the wishes of creators. But that doesn't equate to thinking it's immoral.

    That's total bullshit. If he thinks going against the wishes of creators is "not OK," then he thinks that going against the wishes of creators is immoral. This means that, in general, piracy is immoral - because if it was not against the wishes of the artist, then it would not be piracy in the first place.

    There are definitely situations where the artist is not the copyright holder - but if the copyright holder is going against the wishes of the artist, they're not being ethical either. There are not a lot of people who would disagree with him on this point.

    And, of course, he has always said that piracy is unlawful.

    That, right there, is enough to know that he does not endorse or excuse piracy, and does not believe it is ethical.

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this viewpoint. Certainly it does not make him unethical.

    Additionally, he asked you a question - which as far as I know, you refused to answer. It was: if the copyright holder is better off because of piracy, can they really be considered a "victim" of piracy?

    I won't speak for Mike, but this seems to mirror the common-sense view that someone must be harmed for an act to be considered immoral. And I don't mean "harmed" in some theoretical or ideological way - I mean harmed in a way that can be objectively determined by evidence.

    Of course, he's made it clear that he considers piracy to be an economic issue, and that his personal moral opinion is unimportant. Since copyright really is an economic issue, this is a completely valid viewpoint.

    Your viewpoint, on the other hand, is not even remotely ethical. Mike's views are more ethical than yours by pretty much any moral standard. At the very least, his views are much more mainstream than yours among the general populace.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:11am

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

    That's total bullshit. If he thinks going against the wishes of creators is "not OK," then he thinks that going against the wishes of creators is immoral. This means that, in general, piracy is immoral - because if it was not against the wishes of the artist, then it would not be piracy in the first place.

    I think that's what he wants people to deduce, but I think he's directly avoiding answering because he doesn't think it's immoral at all.

    Case in point: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091014/0147596522.shtml

    Mike says:
    Since copyright is intended as an economic right (as detailed and cited in Patry's post), the arguments over copyright need to focus on the economic issues. And a properly calibrated system is one where there's the greatest overall economic good and everyone has the greatest opportunity to benefit. At that point, where's the morality question at all? The answer is that there isn't one. Claiming morality in an economics discussion on copyright is a crutch used by those who can't support their position. There is no moral issue at all.
    Of course, he never explains why it's moral to violate someone's economic right, and I suspect nothing scares him more than having that discussion. As far as I can tell, Mike is trying to spin this into being ONLY about economics. It's easier to pimp the pro-piracy agenda when you take the morality issue out of the picture. It took me TWO YEARS to even get him to identify why he thinks "piracy is not OK." I wonder how many years it's going to take to get him to address directly the morality issue. He's got you fooled if you think that he thinks it's immoral. "There is no moral issue at all." That says it all.

    And, of course, he has always said that piracy is unlawful. That, right there, is enough to know that he does not endorse or excuse piracy, and does not believe it is ethical.

    Admitting the fact that is illegal does not mean that he thinks it to be immoral. I can admit that laws against discrimination on the basis of race exist, yet I could be the biggest racist on the planet. (I'm not; I hate racism. It's just an example.)

    It's too bad he won't discuss these issues. Wonder what he's so scared of?

     

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  221.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    --I was not claiming categorically that no Founder held a Lockean view of copyright. (Post 216)

    --You are correct when you say that the Founders held a Lockean view of property in general. You are absolutely wrong when you say they held this view about copyright. (Post 199)

    That seems like a very categorical statement to me. This only reinforces my belief that you seem unwilling or unable to accurately portray your positions or to acknowledge your misstatements.

    --And, again, none of this has anything to do with ethics.

    Of course it does. We pass laws in this country that we believe are just or moral in their foundation. As has been demonstrated by factual citation in this thread, authors' moral rights are no different in the context of copyright. You now concede that state copyright laws were based on moral notions of authors' natural rights in their works, and that at least some of our Founders expressed this same sentiment in their public writings. The Supreme Court has confirmed authors' natural right to their works, and has underscored the importance of the economic incentive that drives the public good. Your categorical statements to the contrary are just plain false:

    --The point is that the ethical good that is being done, is not because the rights themselves are moral, but because the rights may promote an ethical end.

    --
    Rewarding authors is not "secondary" or "irrelevant," it's simply not why copyright exists.

    You may not agree that authors' rights are moral or are "why copyright exists," but that doesn't allow you to rewrite history to pretend that such ethical considerations were categorically not considered by our founders, legislators and courts. That is inaccurate and misleading. In fact, authors' rights were considered as the historical record makes clear. The natural rights of authors to their works, together with the public's benefit in access to a rich and diverse marketplace of ideas, is precisely why copyright exists.

    And that is why we can say it is "immoral" to violate copyright law, because when you do you are violating the natural rights of an author, and upsetting the balance struck by copyright. Once that work lapses into the public domain, however, it is no longer immoral because the author accepts the benefits of copyright knowing of the balance established by copyright, and knowing that his right to exclusivity is limited. Of course, the author need not rely on copyright to protect his works, and can choose to lock up his works in perpetuity if he so chooses. However, if the author chooses to release his work under a system in which limited exclusivity is provided in return for public domain access, it is certainly not "immoral" for the public to enjoy their end of the bargain. This is true because of the fact that copyright in the United States protects BOTH the authors' and public's rights.

    -- if the copyright holder is better off because of piracy, can they really be considered a "victim" of piracy?

    Yes. We don't (and shouldn't) allow alleged infringers to unilaterally determine that a rights holder is "better off" because of their unlawful act. For one, your idea of "better off" is likely to be different than the author's, and could involve any number of non-monetary considerations (or even long-term strategic financial decisions which the author believes are better than your short-term strategy). The author is in the best position to make that decision for his own work. At at a broader level, however, this is not how our society or legal system should work. A valid defense to criminal proceedings or civil actions is not "the victim is actually better off, in my mind, because of what I did." As AJ has stated numerous time before, that goes to the amount of damages and not to culpability.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:20am

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

    I think he's directly avoiding answering

    He has answered. Many times. You've even acknowledged his answer: he, personally, believes it's unethical because it goes against the wishes of artists.

    Just because you don't like the answer, doesn't mean he hasn't given you one. And just because you don't agree with his answer, does not mean that his answer is unethical.

    And FYI, he stated his position before you even asked him. And you know this, because I quoted them to you.

    Aside from his personal ethics, he claims that copyright is fundamentally not an ethical issue. This is not dodging the question, it's saying it's the wrong question to ask. And he is correct. It is fundamentally an economic issue.

    he never explains why it's moral to violate someone's economic right

    This is a totally idiotic statement.

    1. There is no such thing as an "economic right." Prices are set because of supply and demand, not because there's a "right" to that price. The number of products produced is determined by marginal analysis, not because there is a "right" to produce that number of products. Nobody has a "right" to make a profit. And so on.

    2. Even if you believe there are "economic rights," there's no way in Hell that a government-enforced monopoly is one of them.

    3. Even if you believe it is, the statement is irrelevant, because Mike never claimed it was "moral" to "violate" that right.

    4. Even if you believe that's what he's talking about, he gave you a reason right in the quote to believe it is ethically moral: "there's the greatest overall economic good and everyone has the greatest opportunity to benefit." Only an idiot would claim this stance is immoral.

    Admitting the fact that is illegal does not mean that he thinks it to be immoral.

    I meant both the fact that he thought it was illegal, and the fact that he believes it goes against the wishes of artists. Obviously.

    It's too bad he won't discuss these issues. Wonder what he's so scared of?

    He does discuss these issues. Just not with you, because you've done nothing but an asshole.

    And it's incredibly hypocritical to say he "won't discuss these issues," when you won't discuss them, either.

    In this entire thread, you haven't discussed ethics. You sidestep the issue by going off on tangents about legal statutes or colonial history. In fact, you are sidestepping the issue right now. You are attacking Mike's viewpoints, in order to avoid talking about your own.

    I've indulged you thus far, but no longer. No more talking about Mike. No more talking about the law. No more talking about history. From here on out, we are talking only about ethics, and about your ethics in particular.

    In this entire thread, the only justification for your ethical viewpoint is that something is bad because the government says so. That is not an ethical answer; it is a defense of totalitarianism.

    So, are you finally going to say why your viewpoint is ethical, or not?

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:59am

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

    He has answered. Many times. You've even acknowledged his answer: he, personally, believes it's unethical because it goes against the wishes of artists.

    He said "piracy is not OK" because it goes against artists' wishes. He refuses to directly answer the question of whether he thinks it's immoral. I've explained before all of the qualifications he places on that statement (such as the fact that he doesn't think artists should worry about it)--so many that I don't see how he could think it's immoral. He admits that some people don't like it, which is just the admission of a fact. That's a separate issue from whether he thinks it's immoral.

    And you haven't explained how even though he has explicitly said, "There is no moral issue at all," you still think that he thinks it's immoral. I don't buy it. Those two statements are irreconcilable, and I think the most obvious answer is that he in fact does not think piracy is immoral. He doesn't want to have to admit this explicitly, so he's avoiding the question like the plague. He avoids any and all direct discussion about his personal beliefs, from what I can tell.

    So, are you finally going to say why your viewpoint is ethical, or not?

    Really? I gave a lengthy (several paragraphs) explanation of the basis of my personal beliefs and why I think the moral issue tracks the legal issue. I think for the most part the two are coextensive, as I explained above.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:04pm

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

    I gave a lengthy (several paragraphs) explanation of the basis of my personal beliefs and why I think the moral issue tracks the legal issue.

    Link to the comment where you did this, because I don't see it anywhere in this (very long) thread.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:06pm

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

    Apologies - I see it now.

    I'll get back to you on it.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Getting back to you:

    I think you're using ethics and morals interchangeably. That's fine with me.

    Well, you're right. I'll try to use the correct terms (as I understand them).

    At bottom I'm a Lockean. I think it makes sense to give people a property right in their creations, both physical and intellectual.

    First, it's not a property right in "their creations." It's a property right in other peoples' creations. It is claiming ownership over the fruits of the labor of others. It's important that we be clear about this.

    Second, whatever your take on these "property rights," they are certainly not Lockean. Under the Lockean view, property is:

    - Innate. It arises from the state of nature. It does not have its origins in the State, and exists independently of it. It cannot be "lost" by laws.

    - Absolute. There can be no "fair use" of property, whether "broad" or "narrow." All unauthorized use is theft or tresspassing (depending upon what kind of use we're talking about).

    - Perpetual. The property right in my car never expires. Even after my death, I can will it to others. There would be no term limits on copyright.

    - Created by applying labor to unowned resources. If I take a collection of facts, and apply labor to it, then by definition that collection of facts becomes my property.

    Given all of the above, it is undeniable that treating copyright as a Lockean property right is completely unethical.

    ...At least it would, if we stopped here. But Locke himself placed restrictions on property rights, which most copyright maximalists conveniently ignore:

    - Property ownership cannot result in a monopoly. One can only take from the common store (and thus create property) if "there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his inclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all."

    - Only the resources that are utilized by the property owner are his property. Claiming an ownership right over something you don't utilize is unethical, because it prevents others from utilizing it: "If either the grass of his enclosure rotted on the ground, or the fruit of his planting perished without gathering, and laying up, this part of the earth, notwithstanding his enclosure, was still to be looked on as waste, and might be the possession of any other. [...] He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of."

    In light of these two restrictions, it's really hard to see how Locke's theory of property should apply to copyright at all. Combine this with the unquestionable ethical wrongs that result in a Lockean "property view" of copyright, and I can say with confidence that holding this view is immoral.

    You may not hold this view of property (though other copyright maximalists, like Noah Webster, certainly did). But it does show that if you're going to justify treating copyright as a "property right," it has to be for reasons that are not Locke's. You have to find some other way of showing how they are "fair."

    I also recognize that free speech is a fundamental value, and copyright in some ways inhibits free speech.

    You do more than this. You say that copyright is entirely unlike other restrictions on speech. For example, you directly claimed that infringing speech is no more "speech" than prostitution. You claimed this specifically to justify protected speech being blocked. You have advocated this even before fair use or idea/expression determinations could be made. You have advocated this even when links to infringing speech result in the blocking of actual non-infringing speech.

    Yet if you think anyone is even suggesting that protecting free speech justifies infringing on the "property right" of copyright holders, you claim they're "piracy apologists" who "just want stuff for free." You have never even considered that they might be defending free speech rights. You have never even considered that the right to free speech might justify allowing infringement, even temporarily. I'm betting that even reading these sentences makes you angry.

    You clearly think that copyright is vastly more important than free speech. This makes your opinion on whether "the inhibition is great" highly questionable, to say the least.

    And let's not forget that free speech rights are not the only rights that are in conflict with copyright. Holding a copyright means nothing other than that you have an ownership interest in the property of others. For the sake of argument, let's take the Lockean view of property. Copyright says that if I apply my own labor, using resources that I paid for, I do not own the fruits of that labor. At least, not if my fruits taste too much like yours.

    Being a monopoly, it's also a restraint on free trade. I don't know if you consider free trade any kind of "right," but at the very least, monopolies are not ethical.

    As to the morality of infringement, I have the very simple view that the property right and the morality of infringing that right are coextensive.

    There is nothing a priori moral about owning property. If there was, there would be no word for "greed."

    Theft is not immoral because it "infringes on a property right." It is immoral because it deprives the owner of the use of that property. If someone steals my sandwich, it's not immoral because he gets a free lunch; it's immoral because I don't get to eat.

    Besides, if you hold this vew, then we're right back to the slavery counterexample. Owning a slave was a property right. Helping a slave escape infringed on that property right. If infringing on a property right was a priori unethical, then helping a slave escape his master would be unethical.

    This is why deontological ethics is often a failure. It doesn't lead to moral behavior, just to obedience.

    It's moral for the owner of the right to "Night of the Living Dead" to have copyright rights in his work, for all the reasons I think copyright makes sense. But once he loses that right, the right is gone and it's not immoral for you to download the movie.

    If you hold a Lockean view of copyright (even vaguely), then it is not possible for Romero to "lose" that right. The film was the fruit of his labor, and the government doesn't have the right to deny him of that, any more than The Pirate Bay does.

    Since the "fruit of his labor" view is invalid, there must be some other reason that it's ethical for others to hold that "property right," while Romero doesn't. The only other reason you've given me is "the law says so," which is not an ethical reason.

    FYI: When "Night of the Living Dead" was released, all works under copyright had to have a copyright notice on them. The film was accidentally distributed without one. It didn't comply with the statutory requirements, so into the public domain it went.

    I think Mike Masnick is a morally-bankrupt coward

    I think your opinion of Mike Masnick says nothing about Mike Masnick.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First, it's not a property right in "their creations." It's a property right in other peoples' creations. It is claiming ownership over the fruits of the labor of others. It's important that we be clear about this.

    Obviously everyone's creations build upon the blocks that came before (Newton's comment about standing on the shoulders of giants comes to mind), but nonetheless copyrighted works are original to their author. As Feist makes clear, without originality, there is no copyright.

    Second, whatever your take on these "property rights," they are certainly not Lockean.

    My views are Lockean in that I think it's proper for an author to get a property right in the fruits of their intellectual labor, as I said. I also said I subscribe to other schools of thought as well. I'm not a staunch Lockean such that I think copyright is innate, must be perpetual, and there must not be fair use. I don't know what innate means, but I do think the idea of giving the author (and no one else) the property right is fair. Perhaps that's innate in some sense. I wouldn't mind if copyright were perpetual, but I accept that there's more going on than the author and I think the balance permitted by fair use and limited terms is also fair and serves countervailing interests.

    In light of these two restrictions, it's really hard to see how Locke's theory of property should apply to copyright at all. Combine this with the unquestionable ethical wrongs that result in a Lockean "property view" of copyright, and I can say with confidence that holding this view is immoral.

    I don't hold all of those views. I hold several views that overlap. As to how to apply Locke to copyright, I recommend Mossoff's paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1983614

    But it does show that if you're going to justify treating copyright as a "property right," it has to be for reasons that are not Locke's. You have to find some other way of showing how they are "fair."

    I told you my view is simple. I think it's fair that authors should get a property right in their writings. That's exactly what it says in the Copyright Clause, so that makes me happy.

    You do more than this. You say that copyright is entirely unlike other restrictions on speech. For example, you directly claimed that infringing speech is no more "speech" than prostitution. You claimed this specifically to justify protected speech being blocked. You have advocated this even before fair use or idea/expression determinations could be made. You have advocated this even when links to infringing speech result in the blocking of actual non-infringing speech.

    I think we'd have to run through those arguments again. Sounds like you're referring to Arcara, where the Court rejected an argument that prostitution is imbued with enough protective speech/conduct to warrant heightened First Amendment scrutiny. I can't remember exactly what our disagreement was there, but I do remember thinking that you were making a circular argument.

    Regardless, the case law and commentary has many references to how copyright is not a restriction on speech, as "copyright laws, of course, protect only the form of expression and not the ideas expressed." New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 726, n.* (1971) (Brennan, J., concurring). The reason is because copyright doesn't lock up ideas, which is the evil that the First Amendment addresses.

    Yet if you think anyone is even suggesting that protecting free speech justifies infringing on the "property right" of copyright holders, you claim they're "piracy apologists" who "just want stuff for free." You have never even considered that they might be defending free speech rights. You have never even considered that the right to free speech might justify allowing infringement, even temporarily. I'm betting that even reading these sentences makes you angry.

    Not at all. I think I'd need a concrete example though, as it's hard for me to see it in the abstract.

    You clearly think that copyright is vastly more important than free speech. This makes your opinion on whether "the inhibition is great" highly questionable, to say the least.

    The First Amendment is more important, which is why copyright laws get First Amendment scrutiny. I have no problem with that, and I think the tests created by the Court are great.

    And let's not forget that free speech rights are not the only rights that are in conflict with copyright. Holding a copyright means nothing other than that you have an ownership interest in the property of others. For the sake of argument, let's take the Lockean view of property. Copyright says that if I apply my own labor, using resources that I paid for, I do not own the fruits of that labor. At least, not if my fruits taste too much like yours.

    I disagree with the premise that copyright means having an ownership interest in the property of others. And I don't really understand you. Copyright says you get a property right in the fruits of your labor, so long as you create something original (not novel, but original; I think you're mixing the two).

    Being a monopoly, it's also a restraint on free trade. I don't know if you consider free trade any kind of "right," but at the very least, monopolies are not ethical.

    If I write a book, I don't corner the entire book market. I have a monopoly over my book. That's not really a monopoly in the sense that I learned the word in macroeconomics. If my rights in my book are a monopoly, then all private property is a monopoly of sorts.

    Theft is not immoral because it "infringes on a property right." It is immoral because it deprives the owner of the use of that property. If someone steals my sandwich, it's not immoral because he gets a free lunch; it's immoral because I don't get to eat.

    But infringement is not like theft. It's more like trespass. If you trespass on my property, you have violated my rights. Even if there's no actual damages, I can collect nominal damages because you have wronged me.

    Besides, if you hold this vew, then we're right back to the slavery counterexample. Owning a slave was a property right. Helping a slave escape infringed on that property right. If infringing on a property right was a priori unethical, then helping a slave escape his master would be unethical.

    It's kind of a silly example since there is no slavery anymore in this country. As I said, slavery was wrong, even though it was legal. Not all property rights are good and moral. That's a great example of where we really got things wrong. I don't think that has anything to do with copyright. The property right itself was immoral in that situation. But you have to find an extreme example--where the property was a human being--to find an example where the property right was unjust. Copyright is just and right. Slavery was not.

    If you hold a Lockean view of copyright (even vaguely), then it is not possible for Romero to "lose" that right. The film was the fruit of his labor, and the government doesn't have the right to deny him of that, any more than The Pirate Bay does.

    I hold a Lockean view, even vaguely, and I think it's possible for him to lose that right. He knew going in that the right he was receiving was limited. There's nothing unfair about him losing the right. Once a work is in the public domain, no one owns it and everyone can use it. I'm not a strict Lockean, as I've said several times.

    Since the "fruit of his labor" view is invalid, there must be some other reason that it's ethical for others to hold that "property right," while Romero doesn't. The only other reason you've given me is "the law says so," which is not an ethical reason.

    He got a property right in the fruits of his labor. He knew that right was limited and was going to end. It ended. This seems eminently fair to me. There's more going on than his interests. There's the public interest as well, and I told you I like the utilitarian theory as well.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

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

    As Feist makes clear, without originality, there is no copyright. [...] My views are Lockean in that I think it's proper for an author to get a property right in the fruits of their intellectual labor, as I said.

    Then you believe the Feist ruling was improper. Feist and Locke contradict each other.

    Lockean property just is the result of performing labor on natural resources. A Lockean view of copyright would hold that it is property because it originates from labor, and for no other reason. Whenever something is produced by the sweat of your brow, it automatically becomes your property. "Originality" is not even remotely relevant. Just because your labor produces something that is not original, does not mean that it is not labor.

    To hold a Lockean "sweat of the brow" argument for copyright, you have no choice but to accept that the ruling took away property from Feist Publications. You may believe it was justified to take away their property, but you would have no choice but to admit that it was their property in the first place.

    I also said I subscribe to other schools of thought as well.

    So, you arbitrarily choose which school of thought justifies your opinion?

    If not, what is your moral reason for choosing one school of thought over another?

    I don't know what innate means, but I do think the idea of giving the author (and no one else) the property right is fair.

    "Giving?" So, you believe that the property right is created by the State? If so, it means that humans do not have a property right in the fruits of their labor, unless it is created by the State. This is pretty much the polar opposite of a Lockean position. Either that, or you believe copyright is different from other "property rights."

    As to how to apply Locke to copyright

    I've already read several treatises. They are not convincing.

    I told you my view is simple. I think it's fair that authors should get a property right in their writings.

    Except it is not "simple." It's actually dodging the question. You say it's fair that authors should get a property right in their writings. Not just that they deserve to be paid for their efforts, but that they deserve a property right that other laborers don't have.

    You have never said why it's fair. You said it's because you hold Lockean views, but it appears that you use the Lockean view as an excuse to justify your opinion that it's fair.

    That's exactly what it says in the Copyright Clause

    That's not even remotely what it says in the Copyright Clause, and you know it. But it doesn't matter for our ethical discussion, so I'll let it slide.

    I think we'd have to run through those arguments again. Sounds like you're referring to Arcara

    I was, but let's not. I am talking about the fact that you believe your interpretation of the case law was ethical. Arcara was a ruling about prostitution. No court has ever suggested that it might apply to copyright. That you believe it should apply to copyright is an ethical position.

    Not at all. I think I'd need a concrete example though

    "The right to free speech requires that we should not block access to an entire website because of the infringing speech on it, even if the amount of infringing speech is significant."

    Every time anyone has made this argument, you said they had a "pro-piracy agenda," or some such.

    I disagree with the premise that copyright means having an ownership interest in the property of others.

    It's not a "premise," it's a statement of fact. Let's say a carpenter manufactures a table. Under the Lockean view, that table is his property because it is the result of the carpenter applying labor to raw materials. But as soon as he (voluntarily) parts with that table, it is no longer his property in any fashion whatsoever. The property rights lie entirely in the private posession of that property.

    That is not true of a book. If a copyright holder voluntarily parts with his book, by selling it for instance, he retains a property interest in that book. Even though the book is someone else's private posession, it is still the copyright holder's property, to some degree.

    If I write a book, I don't corner the entire book market. I have a monopoly over my book. That's not really a monopoly in the sense that I learned the word in macroeconomics.

    Then your macroeconomics class wasn't very good. Here's an excerpt from my own economics textbook. It's about patents, but you should get the idea:
    A patent is issued to an inventor to provide protection from having the invention copied or stolen for a period of 20 years. Suppose that engineers working for Ford Motor Company discover a way to build an engine that requires half the parts of a regular engine and weighs only half as much. If Ford is successful in obtaining a patent on this discovery, it can (in principle) prevent others from copying it. The patent holder has a monopoly.

    - "Economics Today," Roger LeRoy Miller; from Ch. 24, "Monopolies"

    He [Romero] got a property right in the fruits of his labor. He knew that right was limited and was going to end.

    Romero never had a "property right" in "Night of the Living Dead." It did not "end." He (or actually his distributor) accidentally did not comply with the statutes, so he was never granted that "property right."

    Either you believe he was denied his property rights, or you don't. If you don't, then you need to come up with a reason he shouldn't have had it.

    It certainly has nothing to do with labor. The sweat on his brow was as shiny as any other filmmaker's; yet they got copyright, and Romero didn't.

    But infringement is not like theft. It's more like trespass. If you trespass on my property, you have violated my rights. Even if there's no actual damages, I can collect nominal damages because you have wronged me.

    The laws against tresspassing are justified because tresspassing usually indicates the intent to do something immoral (invasion of privacy, damaging the property, theft, a physical attack, etc). They are also justified because without laws against tresspassing, we would not be able to enforce the right of private property. The ownership of private property creates a tremendous social benefit, so laws that are required to protect that social benefit are justified.

    But that "violation of rights" is not immoral in and of itself. If it is immoral, it is not because it violates property rights, but because of some other reason. Merely taking a shortcut across someone's parking lot is a "violation of property rights," but nobody sane believes it is immoral.

    Not all property rights are good and moral.

    Exactly. Yet the only justification you have given that infringement is wrong, is because it infringes on a property right, and only because it infringes on a property right.

    You have not provided one ethically consistent reason why copyright as a property right should be good and moral. The fact that it's produced from labor can't be the reason. If it were, you must conclude that the Feist ruling was an intrusion on authors' property rights; you must conclude that Romero was robbed of his property rights.

    The only consistent reason you have given that copyright is ethically a property right, is that you think it's fair. That's not an ethical argument, it's a mere opinion.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 10:46pm

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

    ...You know something? This is pointless.

    I personally think your view of copyright is both unethical and contradictory.

    But you presented it. I don't agree with it, but neither of us is going to change each others' minds.

    So, I'm going to drop this conversation.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 8:13am

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

    ...You know something? This is pointless.

    No, not completely pointless. This actually is an awesome debate, I've learned quite a bit myself here.

    Anyways, I have a couple of questions to clarify some things in my mind. (and if you have already covered this somewhere already I apologize, this is one long ass thread)

    I believe you have stated (I thought it was in thread somewhere, but I can't' find it) that there is a difference to you between infringement for personal use and commercial infringement. How does this fit into your view of copyright and where is your personal "line in the sand" between the two?

     

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  231.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:00am

    ...You know something? This is pointless.

    Couldn't agree more. These discussion are some of the best I've seen on TechDirt.

     

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  232.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    Oops... I meant to quote:

    No, not completely pointless. This actually is an awesome debate, I've learned quite a bit myself here.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:18am

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

    Then you believe the Feist ruling was improper. Feist and Locke contradict each other.

    Lockean property just is the result of performing labor on natural resources. A Lockean view of copyright would hold that it is property because it originates from labor, and for no other reason. Whenever something is produced by the sweat of your brow, it automatically becomes your property. "Originality" is not even remotely relevant. Just because your labor produces something that is not original, does not mean that it is not labor.

    To hold a Lockean "sweat of the brow" argument for copyright, you have no choice but to accept that the ruling took away property from Feist Publications. You may believe it was justified to take away their property, but you would have no choice but to admit that it was their property in the first place.


    I don't think of it that way. Feist just points out that the Constitution has an originality requirement. Authors get a property right in the fruits of their labors, but only if that fruit is original (which is an extremely low threshold). So it's just a condition that must also be satisfied. Feist merely says, "You get a property right to the fruit of your labor, but only if that fruit is minimally original." I don't read it as being a complete refutation of the natural rights theory. An author still gets a property right to the fruits of their labor, so long as those fruits are original. You're right though that even if someone creates something that isn't original then they won't get a property right to the fruits of their labor. I don't have a problem with that, even though it's non-Lockean.

    So, you arbitrarily choose which school of thought justifies your opinion?

    If not, what is your moral reason for choosing one school of thought over another?


    I have a pluralistic view. If some part of copyright is different than how I want it to be, I don't then think that that part is unethical. I disagree with lots of laws. But I accept that the laws are legitimate, even if I disagree with them. It's not that I choose arbitrarily, it's that I accept that my views aren't always the ones that win.

    For example, I think that formalities like registration are very non-Lockean. If the law were changed back to the system we used to have where registration is needed for copyrighting something, I wouldn't think that it was wrong or immoral. While I prefer the system we have now, where copyright subsists by operation of law when the work is fixed, I understand that there are other ways to do it.

    "Giving?" So, you believe that the property right is created by the State? If so, it means that humans do not have a property right in the fruits of their labor, unless it is created by the State. This is pretty much the polar opposite of a Lockean position. Either that, or you believe copyright is different from other "property rights."

    Copyrights are creatures of statute. I think the Copyright Act merely codified the Lockean notion that an author gets a property right to the fruits of their labor.

    That's not even remotely what it says in the Copyright Clause, and you know it. But it doesn't matter for our ethical discussion, so I'll let it slide.

    The Copyright Clause says that Congress can secure to authors a property right (exclusive rights) to the fruits of the labor (writings). I don't understand how you can disagree with that.

    I was, but let's not. I am talking about the fact that you believe your interpretation of the case law was ethical. Arcara was a ruling about prostitution. No court has ever suggested that it might apply to copyright. That you believe it should apply to copyright is an ethical position.

    Arcara applies to conduct that isn't protected expression. Piracy is not protected expression.

    "The right to free speech requires that we should not block access to an entire website because of the infringing speech on it, even if the amount of infringing speech is significant."

    Every time anyone has made this argument, you said they had a "pro-piracy agenda," or some such.


    If a website is dedicated to infringement, then I have no problem with that website being blocked and/or shut down. Just like if a house is used to cook meth, but it's also used for Sunday school classes, it gets shut down too. No one is being told they can't speak freely. They're just being prevented from using certain property that is tainted by wrongful acts. Just like the bookstore in Arcara.

    It's not a "premise," it's a statement of fact. Let's say a carpenter manufactures a table. Under the Lockean view, that table is his property because it is the result of the carpenter applying labor to raw materials. But as soon as he (voluntarily) parts with that table, it is no longer his property in any fashion whatsoever. The property rights lie entirely in the private posession of that property.

    That is not true of a book. If a copyright holder voluntarily parts with his book, by selling it for instance, he retains a property interest in that book. Even though the book is someone else's private posession, it is still the copyright holder's property, to some degree.


    I thought you were arguing that since an author builds upon the works of others, then the work created isn't totally his own. You're talking about downstream, whereas I thought you meant upstream. Sorry.

    Then your macroeconomics class wasn't very good.

    But it's not like a regular monopoly, like the electric company, the water company, or the state bar association. I can only get electricity from one supplier, who holds a monopoly on the electricity market. An author merely has a monopoly over a single book. Any other author can enter the book market. All private property is a monopoly if you define the market to be the market for a single piece of property. I have a rock in my backyard. You could say I have a monopoly over that rock. I think it's silly to call that a monopoly, since anyone can get into the rock business.

    Romero never had a "property right" in "Night of the Living Dead." It did not "end." He (or actually his distributor) accidentally did not comply with the statutes, so he was never granted that "property right."

    Either you believe he was denied his property rights, or you don't. If you don't, then you need to come up with a reason he shouldn't have had it.

    It certainly has nothing to do with labor. The sweat on his brow was as shiny as any other filmmaker's; yet they got copyright, and Romero didn't.


    He failed to comply with formalities. That was his mistake. It was a harsh system back then. I know lots of judges stretched out the meaning of "publication" just to avoid that situation. That's why the word "distribution" is used in the 1976 Act. Congress didn't want the case law about publication infecting the notion of distribution. It's very non-Lockean, so I'm glad we don't do it that way anymore. While the system was non-Lockean, I still believe that it was fair since it was the product of a legitimate exercise of Congress's lawmaking power. I don't think that everything that isn't as I would like it to be is unethical because I recognize the legitimacy of the democratic process.

    The laws against tresspassing are justified because tresspassing usually indicates the intent to do something immoral (invasion of privacy, damaging the property, theft, a physical attack, etc). They are also justified because without laws against tresspassing, we would not be able to enforce the right of private property. The ownership of private property creates a tremendous social benefit, so laws that are required to protect that social benefit are justified.

    I don't believe that intent is an element of trespass to land, so I don't think that's true. I'm glad you agree that enforcement of private property advances the public good. Copyright is private property too, and it advances the public good as well.

    But that "violation of rights" is not immoral in and of itself. If it is immoral, it is not because it violates property rights, but because of some other reason. Merely taking a shortcut across someone's parking lot is a "violation of property rights," but nobody sane believes it is immoral.

    I think enforcement of private property rights is moral. You seem to be arguing that enforcing property rights is moral because of the social benefit, but then you don't think that violation of those rights is immoral. I don't see how you can have it both ways.

    Exactly. Yet the only justification you have given that infringement is wrong, is because it infringes on a property right, and only because it infringes on a property right.

    Not all property rights are moral, but almost all of them are. They only example I can think of where it's not is something extreme like slavery.

    You have not provided one ethically consistent reason why copyright as a property right should be good and moral. The fact that it's produced from labor can't be the reason. If it were, you must conclude that the Feist ruling was an intrusion on authors' property rights; you must conclude that Romero was robbed of his property rights.

    It's good and moral because it's fair that authors should get a property right to the fruits of their labors, because the public benefits when authors do, and because it makes sense to recognize that works are a part of their creators. Feist is an intrusion in one sense, but all it says is that there must be the teeniest bit of originality. Considering that the vast majority of authors aren't denied a property right to the fruits of their labors, I don't see Feist as a refutation of the Lockean notion. Romero was robbed in one sense, but that robbery was fair as it was pursuant to a lawfully-enacted statutory scheme that is legitimized by the democratic process.

    The only consistent reason you have given that copyright is ethically a property right, is that you think it's fair. That's not an ethical argument, it's a mere opinion.

    It's fair, it's useful, it benefits authors, it benefits the public, and it's the best system there is.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:19am

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

    I personally think your view of copyright is both unethical and contradictory.

    But you presented it. I don't agree with it, but neither of us is going to change each others' minds.

    So, I'm going to drop this conversation.


    I enjoyed the chat. I always learn more about myself when I explain my beliefs to others. Thanks for your time and thanks for the challenge.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

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

    Well, okay, maybe just one more... (famous last words.)

    Anyways, I have a couple of questions to clarify some things in my mind. (and if you have already covered this somewhere already I apologize, this is one long ass thread)

    I believe you have stated (I thought it was in thread somewhere, but I can't' find it) that there is a difference to you between infringement for personal use and commercial infringement. How does this fit into your view of copyright and where is your personal "line in the sand" between the two?


    I did state this. Here's a link to the comment. I realize my views could be misconstrued, so I'll explain them better here.

    I do believe it is immoral for someone else to make money directly off my art, without compensation, unless I grant permission. But the ethical problem isn't my "loss" of potential income; it's someone else gaining income directly from my work. This is because it is immoral to exploit other people for profit. It is the same reason that slavery or child labor is wrong, and that minimum wage laws are necessary. It is also the reason that major labels act immorally to artists.

    But it is absolutely not because I hold some sort of Lockean "property right" in copies of my work. I do not have any such right, and never did. In fact, thinking of copyright as the same kind of "property" as a car or a table is a priori immoral. Most especially the Lockean view of property as "the products of your labor" - that because I put labor into producing artwork, reproductions of that artwork are my property.

    This is absurd on its face, but it also leads to a huge number of ethical wrongs: the loss of first sale rights, the obliteration of fair use, the inhibition of educational uses, control of use by libraries, the ability to block free expression, the ability to enforce shortages of my work, perpetual copyright, etc. And these are just the evils done by granting Lockean copyright; far more result from their enforcement. All of this so that I could theoretically gain a financial return for my labor.

    In other words, it would allow me to exploit others for profit. This is exactly why commercial infringement is immoral in the first place. Furthermore, commercial piracy exploits artists like me, but the wrongs I listed exploit everyone. Anyone who holds a Lockean property view of copyright is defending behavior that is more immoral than commercial piracy.

    The Lockean position also assumes that a property right is the "return for my labor" that best serves my self-interest. This is absolutely not the case. Artwork is unlike other goods, in that an increase in supply actually increases demand. The wider the distribution to the public, the more valuable the artwork becomes to the public. I can more easily turn this value into financial gain. If I am an artist, it is in my own self-interest to see that the works get distributed to the public as widely as possible. Treating copyright as property acts against this self-interest. Adopting a Lockean position on copyright works against gaining a "fair and just return for my labor."

    All this, quite obviously, could not apply to non-commercial copying and distribution. Someone who gets a copy of my art for free is not exploiting me for profit. It's doubtful that they're "exploiting" me at all, even if they do it for selfish reasons. (If I thought they were exploiting me, it should certainly be my burden to prove it.) Furthermore, many of the ethical goods I listed above (library use, educational use, etc) are non-commercial in nature. Treating non-commercial infringement as "exploitation" would allow me to erode or destroy these ethical goods for the sake of profit, and I would be little better than a Lockean.

    Of course, non-commercial copying and distribution also serves my self-interest by helping to create value in my work. So it is not only ethical from a social standpoint, but from an author's standpoint as well.

    Also note that "secondary infringement" is generally not immoral. If a record label sells my album without paying me, the record label is exploiting me. But the bank that handles the label's money is not exploiting me. The magazine that accepts an ad from the label is not exploiting me. Even the pressing plant that pressed the album is not exploiting me. None of these people are acting immorally.

    Also note that none of this is relevant to U.S. copyright law. Copyright law is not there to defend some Lockean "sweat of the brow" property right of authors. Likewise, it is not there to prevent artists from being exploited for profit (obviously). These are generally recognized as noble and worthy, but none of this is the purpose of copyright. Copyright is there to incentivize the creation of artwork, by means of a temporary monopoly; thus serving the interests of the public by promoting science and learning.

    So, the law matches the ethical goals of neither myself nor AJ.

    Hope that clears things up.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:32pm

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

    Thanks Karl. It certainly has made clearer your views on the ethics/morals of personal vs. commercial infringement for me.

    With the second part of my question I guess I was asking more or less how this view fits into our current state of affairs.

    Understandably, if a website is selling "Karl's Album" for $x.xx then you would consider that commercial infringement and someone torrenting it off of the swarm for their own listening pleasure would be personal use.

    It's the fuzzier, greyer areas in between I am curious about. Where would a torrent link site fit into this?

    Personally, I feel that a torrent index barely making enough money from ads and donations to cover operating costs doesn't really equate to "commercial" in my mind. An operation on the scale of Megaupload, I'm not so sure about.

    I'm just not quite sure how to quantify this and was wondering if you had any insights.

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 3:06pm

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

    It's the fuzzier, greyer areas in between I am curious about. Where would a torrent link site fit into this?

    First, the people who are actually offering my album - the users in the swarm - are not doing so for financial gain. (In fact, this is not possible using torrent sites.)

    So, their behavior is not exploiting me, and is not immoral. The "torrent link site" would not be encouraging or facilitating anything that exploits me, so they would not be exploiting me either, even if they monetized it. If there is an ethical issue, it's that the site possibly exploits its users - but I've never heard any user complain about e.g. The Pirate Bay.

    Think about what would happen if the law actually did match my ethics. Say that non-commercial infringement was utterly legal. Would someone like The Pirate Bay be liable under the law? I think it's clear that they would not be.

    On the other hand, I am not cool with Megaupload's practice of paying users who offer downloads (including my music.) Those users are directly gaining from my music, financially, and Megaupload is facilitating that (and themselves benefiting in the process).

    Obviously, there are other issues that could be considered in this case - actual knowledge, lack of action, etc. These are the situations where DMCA "safe harbors" would come in to play, and justifiably so.

    On the other hand, would the user have done such a magnitude of harm that I would sue him? Probably not. It wouldn't be worth my time, frankly. Would I approve of other artists doing this? It would be foolish, but I wouldn't condemn it beyond that. (I would condemn the law, though, if the settlement from that action was completely out of proportion to the user's profits.)

     

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    Modplan (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 4:14pm

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

    A wild Modplan appeared!
    This is because it is immoral to exploit other people for profit.

    I take issue with this definition. The reason is that I feel it fails to distinguish between the output of the labour and the individual. Under your definition of exploitation, selling a copy of a book or song you had written to friend is exploitation as I am making money off of your work without your permission.

    Perhaps exploitation was a poor word choice. The point is, when you talk of commercial gain as immoral, it fails to distinguish between the character of that use. I doubt you'd truly agree that commercial gain in all circumstances is wrong, but what exactly makes a particular commercial use a form of exploitation in comparison to the above example? Exploitation implies you being taken for granted. Labels exploit artists by relying on naivety and positive public image of being a signed musician for example. If I had printed copies of your song on CD's, provided full attribution to you, linked to your website and made no claim to copyright, would you maintain that this was exploitation? The only difference between the first example and the last is the scale of the operation. I may have received your song from a friend for free who didn't want it any more, sold it on and made a profit - yet this is protected by first sale, and I'd imagine you wouldn't argue this in itself was wrong. Exploitation implies a difference in the nature of what I was doing, but here the only difference is the scale.

    Is Nina Paley being exploited by theatres that show her film? Now you 'll say that she gave permission, so no, but remove the permission question. If nothing else but permission makes it exploitation, then we are back at square one - it is immoral for me to sell a single copy of your song to a friend without your permission. To me at least, your use of exploitation implied a sort of trading on name or reputation, or a form of fraud, and conflated this with any selling of works.

    Your example comparing Megaupload and the Pirate Bay doesn't make much sense to me either. Both are indiscriminate. The Pirate Bay makes money from advertising without regard to the content. Megaupload paid users without regard to the content. Both are indiscriminate services.

    You could argue that an individual who benefited from that service and did so knowing what they uploaded was illegal to do so was being exploitative, but it's hard to extend that to Megaupload without running into a problem with Pirate Bay. Neither Pirate Bay nor Megaupload know the contents of everything uploaded without using something akin to contentID, and we know that isn't 100% trustworthy, nor can they ever hope to provide an environment of perfect enforcement. The only difference is the arrangement of the business model. Both benefited from having large amounts of copyrighted work available for download, both make money from having more users. Megaupload just paid people to upload (which also gave a way for artists to make money by making their work available on Megaupload).

     

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    Karl (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:27pm

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

    A wild Modplan appeared!

    It's super effective!

    Under your definition of exploitation, selling a copy of a book or song you had written to friend is exploitation as I am making money off of your work without your permission.

    The moment I get paid for a copy of my book, my claim to that particular copy ends completely. I already got compensated. In fact, if I get fair compensation for that copy of my book, it wouldn't be immoral to sell it without even asking me. I should have said "without compensation, unless you get my permission."

    Perhaps exploitation was a poor word choice. [...] Exploitation implies you being taken for granted.

    Perhaps it was the wrong word, but I couldn't find anything better. "Unjust enrichment" is not bad if you read it colloquially, but it has way too much legal baggage. "Being taken for granted" seems about right. If you create copies of an album I wrote, and sell them without compensating me, I am being taken for granted.

    The point is, when you talk of commercial gain as immoral, it fails to distinguish between the character of that use.

    This is a good point. Obviously, commercial gain is not immoral in and of itself. Everyone needs to make a living.

    The issue is not commercial gain, but that you exploited me in order to gain it. But whether something is actually "exploitation" is not exactly a hard-and-fast rule. It's like asking if it's immoral to pay a Ph.D. minimum wage.

    Usually, questions like this would be answered by normative theories in free-market economics. And, of course, the normative free market view is "all monopolies are inefficient, thus they are always bad." But free-market economics is not the ultimate moral authority; minimum wage laws and laws against child labor also introduce market inefficiencies, but very few would think they're immoral.

    Whether a particular use is "economic exploitation" is a hard nut to crack. Nonetheless, I think it is the right line of questioning. I also think the answer depends on the situation.

    For what it's worth, this viewpoint is surprisingly universal. Nobody really gives a shit about non-commercial file sharing; in some places, the majority believe it's morally acceptable, and their numbers will only increase with time. But even among those people, almost nobody believes it is moral to sell copies of others' works. And even those who think file sharing is totally wrong, think selling copies is worse.

    To me at least, your use of exploitation implied a sort of trading on name or reputation, or a form of fraud, and conflated this with any selling of works.

    No, that was not what I meant. I was talking about copyright as an economic monopoly on copies of works that I authored. I was not talking about fraud, plagiarism, libel, or what have you. These issues are entirely separate from copyright, though they are often conflated.

    Copyright, first and foremost, is about money. That's why it makes sense to only consider infringement for monetary gain.

    If nothing else but permission makes it exploitation, then we are back at square one - it is immoral for me to sell a single copy of your song to a friend without your permission.

    Did you create that copy, and hold on to the original? If so, then yes, that is immoral. If it's just a single copy, then it's only trivially immoral - like leaving dirty dishes in the sink for your roommate to wash.

    Your example comparing Megaupload and the Pirate Bay doesn't make much sense to me either. Both are indiscriminate.

    You're right, they are both indiscriminate; "content-neutral" as it were. But that's not the issue. The issue is that, despite being lumped in together as "pirate sites," they provide very different services. It's like the difference between Amazon, and a lending library with a vending machine in the lobby. Both let you read books, and both take in money, but that's where the similarities end.

    By the way, the issue with Megaupload was not that they had a service that paid people, but that (some) users who they paid were using it to profit off of infringement. Thus the "safe harbors" stuff. If Megaupload stopped paying those users when they were properly notified that the users were infringing, then they're in the clear, as far as I'm concerned. Even if they didn't, it would have served everyone (including artists) better if they would have just paid civil damages, and not been shut down.

    ...and I really do have to leave the thread now. I've spent way too much time talking about this, I have a lot of studying to do.

     

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    Modplan (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

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

    Cheers for the informative reply (and the laugh).

     

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