Techdirt Interview With Derek Khanna, Author Of The RSC 'Fix Copyright' Policy Briefing

from the now-that-he-can-talk... dept

By now you're probably familiar with the name Derek Khanna. The young Congressional staffer who, as a part of the Republican Study Committee, authored one of the most forward-looking policy briefs on how the copyright system is broken, and suggesting some ways to fix it. While it took less than 24-hours for outrage from certain corners to lead the report to be pulled, it has generated a ton of discussion. Khanna himself has only been able to participate on the periphery of the discussion given his job -- but thanks to some of the legacy entertainment industry's favorite politicians, Khanna was not retained. Of course, there's been significant interest in what he's had to say, and since he's officially out of a job as of late last week, he's now free to speak out.

What made you write the now-pulled policy brief on copyright?

I have always believed that being a public servant means that I have an obligation to the citizens to be an agent of change within the system by reforming it on a daily basis. Simply being part of a dysfunctional system without advocating for new, innovative, common-sense solutions makes you part of the problem. And as a professional staff member with the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), I was told to push the envelope developing new conservative policy solutions. Specifically we were told to look to ideas that may have been discussed or written about by conservative organizations – copyright reform was one such idea.

I've always been interested in technology issues, having built my own computers and dabbled in web programming. So I was particularly interested in how the internet and technology in general has changed the way that we view copyright law. Technology has enabled a large amount of piracy, but also a large amount of new technologies that have forced us to revise how we interpret copyright. Buffering or temporary copies of works could technically be copyright violations but courts have interpreted them not to be. A good example of this is with Google's image search function where it provides small version of images across the web – some of which are copyrighted – precedent has had to adjust to largely allow that as fair use (Perfect 10 v. Google). As conservatives, we are generally disposed against court intervention which is commonly critiqued as judicial activism, but to avoid that sometimes the best solution is for the law to keep up with the technology.

So being familiar with technology I found this a fascinating area of law where our current regulatory structure was ineffective and counter-productive. I've always been interested in fighting for disruptive innovation which I believe is critical for economic growth, and I think in copyright in particular we have codified a system that makes a lot of innovative market models impossible or prohibitively difficult. To me this was a clear example of favoring free markets over a government imposed regulatory structure designed to support one particular industry.

I believe that we need creative destruction of failed ideas and a thriving competition of promising new ideas. So I believe that copyright is a perfect place to start this creative destructive by reforming a defunct and counter-productive legal structure with a sensible policy that fosters innovation.

For many who are outside the government, it's rare to see any indication that those within the government recognize that these are big issues that impact so many of us. Do you believe these ideas are finally reaching decision makers in Congress after so many years of being on the outside?

Yes I think SOPA was a watershed moment. Now, whether reaching them will manifest itself in substantive action is a different question. Also I worry that some may think that SOPA meant merely that that law was bad, rather than this law is really bad and there are technology issues/regulatory schemes such as copyright law or patent law that should be fixed.

Copyright has often struck me as a "non-partisan" issue -- though that's often meant that it's really been bi-partisan in favor of strengthening the system, rather than fixing its problems. Do you think there's a partisan angle to copyright reform?

The brief was written for a conservative audience. I'm familiar with other arguments on the left, but that wasn't the focus of the memo, and I think the arguments are stronger on the right.

Conservatives are big believers in Constitutional fidelity, support a limited federal government in size and scope, and are generally skeptical of regulatory structures, particularly when they are written by a particular industry or interest group.

So I think the issue is well suited for conservatives to take on – and many conservative organizations and conservative legal scholars have come out in favor of copyright reform as a result. The support that the brief on copyright reform generated within the conservative movement indicates that copyright reform is an issue waiting to be brought to the surface.

There is a conservative consensus that our copyright law is ineffective. We can quibble on how to fix it, and that's important, but some of the parameters of the problem are very apparent to almost all conservatives with familiarity on the subject.

How important do you think copyright issues are for the economy?

I think you can argue that other technology issues are even more important, such as patent reform. But copyright issues have a significant impact upon our economy. We may never know the innovation that our current system is stifling, but in the example given on the DJ/Remix industry, that presents one, albeit relatively small, industry where significant commerce opportunities exists as well as export opportunities.

Copyright law is a very blunt instrument, it's effectively granting a government-imposed and subsidized monopoly over creation of content and most derivative works for over 100 years, so we have to be very careful in how these laws are crafted. Because it is currently crafted so poorly, it can create large negative consequences to the economy and for free speech.

What do you think needs to happen for real copyright reform to become reality?

From President Obama to the Tea Party, we have seen that an energized and engaged citizenry can elect candidates in grassroots movements. And we have seen that they can stop legislation in its tracks. As the one year anniversary of the SOPA legislation approaches, I have optimism that there is potential for major change on copyright. Members' sudden, vocal opposition of legislation that they were co-sponsoring was nothing short of a watershed moment.

That show of force during SOPA was impressive. But actually getting legislation on the table for consideration requires another level of activism.

A similar coalition can develop and mobilize in favor of a sound copyright structure that provides large incentives to content producers while allowing new and innovative industries to thrive and allowing all content to eventually enter the public domain (upon the expiration of the copyright term) – thereby allowing anyone to learn from great works of literature or build upon scientific inquiry while still preserving large incentives to content producers.

A digital generation is ready to change politics and policies, and they will succeed. It may take some time, but they will do this by rallying behind new ideas, coalescing around legislation, and leading a campaign for passage. Alternatively, there are several battles where this coalition can stop bad intellectual property bills already in the pipeline.

It is up to us, the public, to be engaged. If we are not satisfied with our policy makers and the policies that they enact . . . we can actually change the policies by challenging our policy-makers.

In talking to many elected officials, it's always seemed that many of them really do want to "do the right thing" on these kinds of issues, but the old story is so pervasive that it's hard to get past that, or to convince them that things aren't quite as they seem. How do we get past the myths?

Good question. SOPA is a perfect example of an answer. A concerted movement by a large number of people can have a significant effect. But also the conventional processes of Washington should have more players in the room and at the table arguing in favor of sensible policies on technology issues.

Personally, what can you say about the reaction both inside and outside Congress to your paper?

I was surprised to see how many conservative organization supported copyright reform, and I was gladdened to see a substantive discussion on some of the issues. The memo was not meant to be the final answer, but rather to put a series of ideas on the table.

At the RSC we weren't allowed to peer review our work, so I was hoping to receive substantive feedback from outside groups after the report went out before we could try to get it into legislation. And then once written in legislative text, we would then work with a Member of Congress to introduce it – which may involve further refinement to the text. Then there is the committee and hearing process. So it was really intended to be the opening legislative salvo on this topic for internal discussion within Congress rather than a final professional report for the general public. But that being said, I'm very happy that average people have been able to read, debate and discuss these issues nonetheless.

Inside Congress, I received comments from a number of staffers whose bosses were interested in this idea, and a few who even reached out asking for ideas on patent reform.

Do you think the RSC pulling the paper actually helped gain it more traction and publicity? Both inside and outside of Congress?

No comment.

One of the critiques of the paper focused on the claim that your suggestion to shorten copyright term length with a series of (increasing) renewal fees might violate the Berne Convention. This is an issue that comes up quite a lot in talk about copyright reform. What are your thoughts on that? Should reform efforts look at dumping Berne, or look at ways to do it within the Berne limits?

I was obviously very aware of the Berne Convention aspects. This doesn't bother me one bit. The paper was supposed to be short, simple and accessible (no footnotes). There were many technical details and sourcing that were purposefully not put in because the point was to discuss the issues within Congress – and of course in conversations after the report (as to discussing actual legislation) we would discuss the Berne Convention aspect. I fully planned upon a long term process involving Berne including an entire hearing dedicated to the Berne Convention elements.

The Constitution says that Congress can establish copyright terms for a limited period of time. Codifying the definition of "limited" within an international treaty was extremely controversial at the time. If we agree that the best system for incentivizing content creation is different than the Berne Convention, then we have three choices: 1) we can reform the Berne Convention, 2) stay within the minimal requirements of the Berne Convention, or 3) leave the Berne Convention. Under the Constitution, copyright law is a domestic policy that should be decided in this manner.

Another issue that has been debated back and forth (for years, but renewed after your paper) is the question of whether or not "copyright" is "property" in the traditional sense. Your paper took a strong position that this was a myth. Have you followed any of the ensuing debates? Has that impacted your opinion? Do you think this is just a "religious" issue, or that people can come around to realizing that copyright is very different than property?

The paper specifically said that intellectual property's purpose, under the Constitution, is different from that of other property rights. I've closely followed the debate on this issue, but the evidence is quite convincing that copyright is different from traditional property, and that's the dominant conservative position – but even if it's not – the Constitution provides one specific purpose for this right.

There are different types of property and property rights. They are not all the same. Tom W. Bell, Professor at Chapman University School of Law, would remove the entire word "intellectual property" and use the term "intellectual privilege." It's an interesting idea, not that I am fully endorsing it, and you can read about it in Jerry Brito's compilation Copyright Unbalanced.

But traditional understandings of property were very different from that of including copyright. Copyright may have some or even many of the same features of conventional property – but that doesn't mean that the purpose is the same.

Copyright is different from property in the traditional sense. John Locke is sometimes sourced and used to justify copyright being property. But in his Second Treatise Locke declines to give anything of that nature among his illustrations. And he described the copyright of his time (the Licensing Act maintained by the Stationers' Company) as a "manifest . . . invasion of the trade, liberty, and property of the subject."

As Tom W. Bell explains, "Copyright has property-like features, granted; copyrighted works can be registered, bought and sold, licensed, donated, mortgaged or abandoned." But unlike other property it exists through statute which can change with lawmakers' decisions, and unlike other forms of property it must expire after a specified time.

Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also takes a crack at this:
“In contrast to traditional property, copyright was created by the Constitution; it did not exist in the common law. Without the Constitution's copyright clause, there would be no preexisting right in creative works. What's more, the copyright clause does not recognize an inalienable right to copyright, but instead merely grants to Congress the power to establish copyrights. Copyright therefore stands in contrast to traditional property in that the legislature has complete discretion whether to grant the right or not. . . [Further the] copyright clause allows Congress to establish copyrights for 'limited times' only. This means that unlike traditional property, copyrights must cease to belong to their owners at a certain point.”
This is a position that Congress has even weighed in on previously:
“The enactment of copyright legislation by Congress under the terms of the Constitution is not based upon any natural right that the author has in his writings . . . but upon the ground that the welfare of the public will be served. . . . Not primarily for the benefit of the author, but primarily for the benefit of the public, such rights are given. . . .” (H.R. Rep. No. 60- 2222, at 7 (1909))
There are a lot of weeds to get through on this, but the important point under the paper is that copyright is constitutionally limited and constitutionally for a specific purpose.

What other tech policy issues do you think are important these days?

Patent law is absolutely critical. Today's patent law is an invasive regulatory scheme that appears almost designed to stop many forms of innovation. American growth has been fueled by innovation, and until we get this right, we are going to be at a major disadvantage. To be clear, I completely support patents and they are absolutely critical to many industries, but we have a large number of patents on non-novel ideas such as a patent on rounded rectangle devices. Patent law may need to be adjusted differently for different industries. The point is to create sufficient incentive to create new content, rather than to patent non-innovative discoveries to limit your potential market rivals. The recent New York Times article The Patent. Used as a Sword, though it has its critics, provides an interesting perspective of some of the vast problems.

As I wrote in my piece in the National Review, I think we can do a much better job in allocating visas to high-skilled workers – and I think there is an actual way to accomplish that goal as outlined in the article or other ideas along a similar thought process (perhaps by providing greater help for small businesses acquiring H-1Bs).

Spectrum is discussed and obviously important. We are witnessing an explosion in use of our mobile devices which will be a major market opportunity for app developers but also a major challenge to fulfill the spectrum needs.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a massive issue taking up a lot of political oxygen on technology issues. Since I've been on Capitol Hill there has been an attempt at solid cybersecurity legislation and last year the House passed Chairman Roger's CISPA legislation (which I provided a lengthy analysis on for the RSC -- it is mainly information sharing) and also a few other cyber-related bills, but the Senate didn't pass that legislation and had its own approaches. So that will be one of the first issues up for discussion in the 113th Congress – particularly with the expected Executive Order from the administration. I have done a lot of work in the cyber arena, and have a paper on how cyber-war affects the War Powers Resolution, which I'm trying to publish now, so this is an area that I'm closely following.

I think there are many privacy issues as well. A large portion of people's lives are shifting to the cloud, yet our laws don't seem to reflect that yet – Sen. Paul's amendment to FISA was one such attempt to try to deal with the problem of third party records.

In the recent US v. Jones case, where a warrantless GPS device was used for a number of weeks, it presented a stunning example of the privacy implications of current technology (as was discussed primarily in the concurring opinion). Luckily, the prospect of the FBI tracking all of our cars by GPS devices under our car is highly improbable – if nothing else from a resources perspective – but it's not difficult to imagine a near future world where traffic cameras, aerial vehicles, or even satellites with sophisticated software could analyze and database where our cars have been every single day at every minute – all without a warrant. This may or may not be a Fourth Amendment search/seizure, but it certainly can be addressed through legislative action as was done with ECPA in an earlier time.

Another case, Florida v. Jardines, presents a situation where an officer used a sniffing dog outside their door without a warrant and whether or not that is a search. The court has previously held that you have no privacy expectation to contraband, and held that the dog sniff is not a search for this reason (as it only reveals contraband, even though the evidence is more murky). If a dog sniff is not a search when performed at the house because it only reveals contraband, why would not a device that takes air samples and only reveals the existence of contraband (eg., drugs)? Kyllo deals with some of the issues of new technology, but doesn't seem to come to a good explanation of why one would be prohibited and in that case part of the holding appeared to hinge on the fact that other non-contraband information was revealed that we have a privacy interest in. Under the government's argument in Jardines, police could use dogs to sniff each and every person's house to look for contraband, and by implication they may be able to use a technological device to do the same thing, assuming it doesn't run afoul of Kyllo.

So new technology will create a large number of new privacy issues and it's incumbent upon Congress to stay on top of these trends and ensure that our laws are up to date and protect our privacy interests while not creating onerous requirements upon the private sector.

But there are many other technology issues that people don't normally think of as technology issues. I'm interested in government transparency because the internet should make government information accessible to everyone. As a simple example, all FOIA'd documents should be available online. Eventually all government documents (with perhaps a few narrow exceptions) should automatically go online without requiring the FOIA process. Cato did an analysis on government transparency and the federal government basically failed across the board – Congress in particular. Congressional Committees generally do a poor job of providing accessible information on their hearings, navigating the world of law-making is often difficult for people outside of Capitol Hill because it's still not fully accessible online. Jim Harper of Cato has done good work on trying to make legislation "machine-readable" so that it can be searched and cross-referenced – these are positive developments. But most government websites can do a better job as well.

In addition, technology has created new market models and disruptive innovation that sometimes rubs against current regulatory structures designed to protect current market players. Uber is a particularly stunning example of this situation, and I think it's critically important that new market models like theirs are allowed to thrive. James Allworth wrote an interesting article on some of these types of issues for the Harvard Business Review. So I think that even these examples are "technology issues" in some sense.

What's next for Derek Khanna?

I am doing a lot of writing for January. My piece for Cato Unbound should be out by now on copyright issues that will have a number of interesting voices on the topic. I have a chapter in an upcoming book, and will be a regular online contributor in several major outlets such as the National Review, Forbes and Bloomberg View.

I have also formed a 501c4 organization to continue to work on many issues of reform, particularly in the technology arena, that I'm interested in.

And I hope to help with Fixcopyright.com and some of the activism on the #fixcopyright movement. I hope others will join us and continue to debate and discuss these major issues.

My goal is to work within the system and outside the system to help reform the system – and I have every intention of working even harder towards accomplishing this goal.

If people want to get involved or have other ideas feel free to reach out to me at @Dkhanna11.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Thank you Derek Khanna for fighting for what you believe in. Best of luck to you in the future.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Please keep up the good fight Mr. Khanna!

     

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    Colin, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:13am

    I will vote for you. Right now.

     

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      PT (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      I believe Mr Khanna needs to be returned to Congress for the public good. Is there perhaps a safe Republican seat where he might mount a primary challenge for 2014? Texas 21st District would be good. I have my check book out.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Is there perhaps a safe Republican seat where he might mount a primary challenge for 2014?

        Ah, but would the Republican Party want to give it to him as opposed to other Republican candidates?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 3:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You have hit a major problem of party politics on the head, the party leaders can have too much influence over candidates for elections. This makes it difficult to change the politics of a party.

           

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    Michael, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:13am

    I am doing a lot of writing for January. My piece for Cato Unbound should be out by now on copyright issues that will have a number of interesting voices on the topic. I have a chapter in an upcoming book, and will be a regular online contributor in several major outlets such as the National Review, Forbes and Bloomberg View

    Let's hope you and your heirs are subsidized by licensing these works for the next 100 years or so...

    Just kidding - thanks for the interview. It was refreshing to read.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    It's hilarious how you people continue to try and foist this "copyright is bad" trope on unsuspecting numbskulls.

    Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived and tech decided to abuse it with parasitic business models.

    Now we get you bozos trying to distract from the real issues with "oh the horror! copyright is too long!", when everyone knows that no one gives a flying fuck about something copyrighted 70 years ago; It's all recent stuff that you want to exploit.

    Your conversations belong in the Onion.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      "Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived..."

      Richard Stallman (for example) gave a "flying fuck" about copyright long before the Internet. Heck, the guy even came up with the GPL.

      So, yeah, people did give a fuck about it. It just wasn't as widely discussed because there was no medium to do so. All the avenues of discussion were (and still are) under the control of large corporations and governments that would rather that people wouldn't discuss such things.

       

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      Now we get you bozos trying to distract from the real issues with "oh the horror! copyright is too long!", when everyone knows that no one gives a flying fuck about something copyrighted 70 years ago; It's all recent stuff that you want to exploit.

      I agree that the average person/voter really doesn't care about copyright. It's not a problem for them. Therefore, I can't see them rising up to demand changes.

      I suppose that's good in that perhaps Congress can slip the changes in with little protest, but we'll have to see how that plays out. Would it actually be possible for both liberals and conservatives to work together to reform copyright? Seems unlikely, though maybe if enough lobbying money is thrown their way, they might.

      Copyright certainly isn't a passion of mine. I don't really care what is done one way or the other. I'm much more interested in sustainability and global warming issues. I don't think I am all that atypical in that copyright is down pretty far on my list of priorities.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:50am

        Re: Re:

        Thinking Congress will pass anything may be wishing thinking.

        112th Congress Was Least Effective, Most Disliked Ever - Business Insider: "The U.S. Congress passed 219 bills that were signed into law in the 112th session, a dizzying low compared to the 111th Congress (383 bills) and the 110th (460 bills), according to MSNBC.

        For a remarkable comparison, Harry Truman's 'Do-nothing' Congress passed 906 bills from 1947-1948.

        U.S. history professor Daniel Feller told NPR that 'I think you'd have to go back to the 1850s to find a period of congressional dysfunction like the one we're in today.'"

         

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re:

        I just tried to post a link and got another one of those "will be held in moderation" notices. So I'll try again without the link.

        What I said was that hoping the Congress will pass anything might be wishful thinking.

        I'll drop the link and just give you the article info and the quote without the active link.

        "The 112th Congress Was The Least Effective And Most Disliked In History" in Business Insider by Walter Hickey, Dec. 31, 2012:

        "The U.S. Congress passed 219 bills that were signed into law in the 112th session, a dizzying low compared to the 111th Congress (383 bills) and the 110th (460 bills), according to MSNBC.

        "For a remarkable comparison, Harry Truman's 'Do-nothing' Congress passed 906 bills from 1947-1948.

        "U.S. history professor Daniel Feller told NPR that 'I think you'd have to go back to the 1850s to find a period of congressional dysfunction like the one we're in today.'"

         

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          nasch (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 8:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I just tried to post a link and got another one of those "will be held in moderation" notices. So I'll try again without the link.

          Next time just wait for moderation, it will get posted.

           

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        ChrisB (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

        Re: Re:

        > much more interested in sustainability and global warming issues

        You don't have to worry about global warming. It is impossible that anything can be done to stop it. 15 years of hand-wringing has not changed the rise of CO2 concentration in the slightest. The only hope would be the wholesale adoption of nuclear power over coal-fired power plants, and that won't happen.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You don't have to worry about global warming. It is impossible that anything can be done to stop it. 15 years of hand-wringing has not changed the rise of CO2 concentration in the slightest. The only hope would be the wholesale adoption of nuclear power over coal-fired power plants, and that won't happen.

          We still need to deal with the economic impacts of it. For example, more extreme weather means more costs unless we redesign lifestyles to prepare for it.

           

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        Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re:

        I agree that the average person/voter really doesn't care about copyright. It's not a problem for them. Therefore, I can't see them rising up to demand changes.

        I suppose that's good in that perhaps Congress can slip the changes in with little protest, but we'll have to see how that plays out.


        Apparently you slept through the whole SOPA and ACTA fights.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Apparently you slept through the whole SOPA and ACTA fights.

          Refusing to support bills is different than getting a new one passed. Congress is better at saying no than it is in implementing change.

           

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        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re:

        They cared when they heard what it might do to them.
        People stopped falling for the lie that it would only hurt "Bad People (tm)".

         

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        Mason Wheeler (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re:

        I agree that the average person/voter really doesn't care about copyright. It's not a problem for them. Therefore, I can't see them rising up to demand changes.


        Are you kidding? Think back about a year. There was one issue that voters--tens of millions of them in the US alone, and plenty more throughout the world--did rise up to demand changes about, and it was copyright abuse!

        Not taxes, not corruption, not medical care or any of the issues that either party tried to push as important part of their platforms during the elections. The one thing that people actually did show that they really cared about was copyright!

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not taxes, not corruption, not medical care or any of the issues that either party tried to push as important part of their platforms during the elections. The one thing that people actually did show that they really cared about was copyright!

          What laws were passed? I know some potential laws were stopped. We know Congress is good at NOT passing laws. Basically people okayed the status quo. They didn't roll back anything, did they?

           

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      Michael, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      Nobody cared about Germany until they started invading neighboring countries.

      Perhaps we should have ignored that one too.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 10:05pm

        Re: Re:

        The USA never cared about Germany invading other countries at all until they (the USA) got bombed by Japan and declared war upon Japan, and since Germany was an ally of Japan at the time Germany became an enemy of the USA as well.

        Things have not changed much since

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Apart from the US leading invasions of several countries.

           

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          Travis Miller (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 2:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Good lord this is ignorant. So we just sat back and watched it all happened until then? Hell, not only were we supplying England to help hold back Germany, but we were even helping China to hold back Japan, and then we cut off Japan's oil supplies and started firing on German U-boats - all before Pearl Harbor.

          But yeah, we didn't care about what was going on, right?
          Ignorant.

           

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      Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived and tech decided to abuse it with parasitic business models.

      Sorry, but publishers had mastered parasitic business models long before the modern internet even existed. Taking the lions share of the profits while paying little to nothing to the talent, then going back and taking costs out of talents' payments, is the definition of a "parasitic business model"--and the foundation of big publishers.


      ...everyone knows that no one gives a flying fuck about something copyrighted 70 years ago; It's all recent stuff that you want to exploit.

      Glad to see that you find overly long copyrights to be pointless as well.

       

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      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived

      That's an argument for the anti-copyright side, thanks.

      The reason the average person didn't care about copyright length or draconian terms was two-part. Many of the worst features of current copyright law were still relatively new (automatic copyright as of the 1976 act for example) or hadn't come around yet (third party liability). But the big reason was that copyright did not impact the ordinary life of average people in the slightest.

      Guess what? We no longer live in that world. Laws that were designed when it was prohibitively expensive to create and distribute content no longer function when anyone with an internet connection and a couple hundred dollars worth of hardware can write, compose, photograph, record, and then distribute that content to the entire world.

      And worse than no longer functioning well, those laws are now preventing new innovations and new culture from being created. Is it any wonder that people now care about these obsolete laws?

       

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      tanj, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      No one cares about Casablanca, Oklahoma!, Pistol Packin' Mama, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Duffy's Tavern, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Burns and Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, The Shadow, H. P. Lovecraft, C.S. Lewis, Ayn Rand, H. G. Wells, Reptiles (M. C. Escher), Der Fuehrer's Face, Saludos Amigos.

       

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        Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Less than 3% of the copyrighted works that benefited from the last retroactive extention were still being published.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Dead tree printing is expensive, and cannot be justified for small runs, unless for an expensive special issue. However digital copies cost little to store, and little to copy. People are realising this, and wonder why old works are not available.
          long copyrights are preventing many works being made available for those that are interested. If it wasn't for copyright many more old works would be available on sites like project Gutenberg. Note producing the digital copies would not cost the publishers as plenty of people will volunteer to make a favourite book available in digital form.
          With few exceptions, which have more that repaid the efforts of the original author and publishers, all long copyright are doing is locking up culture and the works that shaped it. A lot of pre-digital films and music has been and will be lost by being left to rot in some companies vaults.
          A lot of culture is being lost because it is not profitable for the publishers to make it available, while they claim long copyrights are required to benefit the authors and artists. All long copyright is achieving is locking up the basis for further works, and destroying the history of culture. For this reason if no other copyright needs to be reformed.

           

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            Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 9:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Agreed. The other 97% of works are still buried under copyright for no reason other than greed. The publishers say those works are not profitable, but still don't want anyone else to touch them either, not even for free, just so they can "protect" the tiny minority that still returns some coin. Much of the early music and films that were published are literally rotting away. Only a few collectors who have the money are willing to buy surviving copies and properly preserve them. The publishers themselves generally care very little about the state of the works they own, even the profitable ones. For instance, the company that was hired to do the digital transfer of Rear Window actually showed the state of the film they were given, it was horrible! I've heard that some of Disney's classics didn't fair much better. Apparently, to the studios, the forms for the registered copyright is the property, not the reels rotting away in some basement.

             

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      Jeff (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      Blah... blah... blah... get off my lawn you dumb ass kids!!! Blargaharaharaaa

       

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      Keroberos (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law...
      You're right...but for the wrong reasons. Nobody cared about copyright law because it did not effect them, so they ignored it. The second that any technology came around that allowed them to copy and share something (illegally or not), they used it for that purpose.

       

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      silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

      Re:

      "Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived and tech decided to abuse it with parasitic business models."

      I can disprove that right here, right now, you uneducated fool.

      Thomas Macaulay, in 1841, went to the House of Commons, since you're uneducated, I'll inform you that it's the British version of the House of Representatives, and said this.

      Remember, this was back in 1841, and at the time, Britain was debating if copyright should be extended to lifetime+50 years.

      " I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one-tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim's Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living."

       

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        silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

        Re: Re:

         

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim's Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.

        But it sounds like public didn't exert much influence on this issue. The politician speaking said that they would care, but we've had copyright laws since then anyway.

        I"m not speaking for or against the laws. I'm just saying that when the public riots or throws politicians out of office, it isn't about copyright laws.

        Let's say you offer to get rid of copyright laws but don't enable people to have enough food to feed their families. Guess which issue they will care about most?

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How do you connect Copyright laws and having enough food for people together?

          Seriously.

          That's so out of left field that it doesn't make sense.

          And the guy even stated, in the speech, that the public seldom makes nice distinctions, and that if the thought of having literary (or in our case, movie) works locked up with just a few rich people or in the homes of everyone, which one are they going to take?

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            How do you connect Copyright laws and having enough food for people together?

            We're talking politics and what citizens care about. Copyright isn't an issue that citizens riot about. Food can be.

             

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              silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, now that I think about it...

              Citizens care about food...

              Which requires money...

              Which requires jobs...

              Many new jobs are in the tech industry...

              Copyright is holding it back.

              Therefore, I submit that copyright is keeping food off of the table for people.

               

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                Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

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

                Many new jobs are in the tech industry...

                Copyright is holding it back.


                I haven't seen evidence of that.

                But, on the other hand, I am all for a total global remodeling of wealth/power, so I say let's disrupt the entire system, including the big tech companies. Let's push the envelope so there is no reason for us to have any company as big as Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. Small is beautiful, as they say.

                I often mention this website as a good place to go for ideas.

                P2P Foundation

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:18pm

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

                  Many new jobs are in the tech industry...

                  Copyright is holding it back.


                  Not every one can afford a college or higher education, or even the price of books required to learn about a subject. Starving people of knowledge is a an easy way of preventing them developing skills and a love of a science or technology.

                   

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                    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

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

                    Not every one can afford a college or higher education, or even the price of books required to learn about a subject. Starving people of knowledge is a an easy way of preventing them developing skills and a love of a science or technology.

                    Oh, I think we should find a way to educate everyone in the world for free. Copyright certainly plays a role in that, but it is just part of a bigger issue. And once we educate everyone, we need jobs for them all.

                    Let's give everyone in the world the resources they need to succeed.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:31am

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

                      One of the reasons people don't have the technical and cultural resources they could use is copyright, because it leads to middlemen making profit on every transfer of knowledge or culture, and if they can't make a profit they prohibit the transfer.
                      While various free (libre) projects exist to make knowledge available at very low cost, thay are at risk of nuisance law suites from the middlemen that rely on copyright for their profits. The cost of defending nuisance claims can kill s free project even when they are in the right, as can the arbitrary power to block payment to projects on accusation of copyright violations.
                      As has been seen in misuse of DMCA notices etc. the middlemen are using copyright as a means of killing competition and criticism as well as its intended use to deal with copyright violations.

                       

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              nasch (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 9:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Copyright isn't an issue that citizens riot about. Food can be.

              Kind of an arbitrary standard isn't it? Just because nobody is rioting about it doesn't mean it's not important.

               

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                Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 11:45am

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

                Kind of an arbitrary standard isn't it? Just because nobody is rioting about it doesn't mean it's not important.

                I read a lot of political and economic news. Copyright comes up primarily in forums focusing on maintaining it or eliminating it.

                It virtually never comes up in other political or economic forums other than those on like the P2P Foundation which is trying to remake the entire world economy. And I am very interested in all of that (e.g., expanding commons, sharing, sustainability). One reason I keep point people here to that website is because I think the modification/elimination of IP, as done as part of a larger picture, CAN be revolutionary. But I don't want to see it merely as a way to strengthen big tech companies like Google.

                 

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                  Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

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

                  I want to see some massive rethinking of economics. So the idea of disrupting Hollywood for the benefit of tech just strikes me as replacing one big industry for another big industry.

                  Therefore, demonizing Hollywood and supporting tech doesn't persuade me much.

                  However, if we expand the concept to how to reduce every institution (both public and private) into smaller and smaller operating units so that ownership is either shared or spread out among more people (while at the same time, using the benefits of on and offline networking), that is something I'm interested in looking into. Yes, there are problems with the idea, but places like the P2P Foundation do examine all of those too.

                  I'm definitely not an Ayn Rand libertarian because I think the emphasis on property rights is being used to protect the property among those who already have it rather than finding ways to bring into the system those who have nothing and don't have the resources to get anything. A true disruptive economic model would shake up a lot of current wealth in the world.

                   

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                    Andrew D. Todd, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 10:58pm

                    Suzanne Lainson-- Replies to Various Issues.

                    Suzanne:

                    I am going to reply in one place to a series of comments which you have made through this thread. In the first place, legislation. What has happened historically, going all the way back to the Alien and Sedition acts, is that the Supreme Court has overturned bad legislation which does not affect most of the population, and Congress has not found the will to re-enact it. Justices do not run for election-- they do not, as a rule, take campaign contributions, ie. bribes. I grant you that Justice Clarence Thomas is a bit fringey about, um, outside interests, but he is only one out of nine. The Court will finish grinding through passive resistance to patent reform, and, in the process, will reach the state of mind to reform copyright. What they can do fairly simply is to find that the founding fathers had no intention of extending copyright beyond 14/28 years, and this will have few economic consequences. A used/remainder market in DVD's seems to be developing reasonably well. Edward R. Hamilton is selling increasing numbers of ten-movies-on-a-disk collections at a rate of about fifty cents a movie.

                    In the current case of Wiley vs. Kirtsang (concerning "first sale" instead of duration), Wiley can easily adapt to an adverse decision by using existing word processing technology to spin out various different regional editions. In fact the wonder is that they have not used translation software to produce editions in national languages. Some years ago, the economist Paul Samuelson observed about a Swedish-language edition of his noted economics textbook: "... the truth is that no one likes to study for exams in a foreign language. Now they don't have to." This is presumably as applicable to Thais and Burmese as it is to Swedes.

                    Second point, historically, large-scale redistributions of property under a constitutional regime, such as the nationalization of British heavy industry under the Labor government after the Second World War, and its subsequent privatization under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's, have required substantial payoffs to affected interests. The government paid more for the industries than they were worth, to buy off opposition, and then it sold them for less than they were worth, in order to be able to sell the shares to politically deserving lower-middle-class types, rather than to American capitalists. Similarly, Council Houses were sold in such a way that they could be bought by the people who lived in them, rather than by real-state tycoons. An act reducing copyright _and_ granting compensation might well be politically feasible, even under American checks-and-balances.

                    Third, an insurgent primary candidate naturally tailors his platform for the area. There are only about five or so congressmen who have actual copyright backing in their district, being the congressmen representing places like Hollywood. For the vast majority of congressmen who support copyright, it is just that copyright industry contributions are easy money. In practice, such congressmen are generically corrupt, taking any money they can get. So an insurgent primary candidate agrees with the incumbent on big economic issues, disagrees about copyright, and hammers away at the incumbent's general corruption.

                    My paper libraries have traditionally been university libraries. University libraries are larger than all but a few public libraries. There are about ten great public libraries which are in the same class as a university library: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, a few others. Denver isn't in that league, to the best of my knowledge. Again, I understand that Denver does not have a big state university, and you would therefore have to go to either Boulder or Fort Collins. By my standards, the internet still has a fair amount of historical amnesia. The internet has many virtues, but I cannot simply assume that everything is available on the internet. Twice in the last day or so, I have found myself baulked by this limitation. I was reading an English book on law (R. M. Jackson, Enforcing the Law, 1967), and it referred to a case growing out of a fatal traffic accident, involving a military vehicle (tank, personnel carrier, or armored car, I don't know which), in which the driver could not see where he was going, but had to proceed on orders from the vehicle commander, sitting up on the roof or the turret, as the case might be. So, in a sense, the driver was not the driver, and that posed interesting legal questions. This is obviously relevant to things like self-driving cars. I Google-searched for the case name, wanting to find out more about the particular circumstances, and found that everything was locked up behind paywalls. So I don't know whether the accident happened on a military reservation or a public road, or whether the other party was another soldier or a civilian, etc., The author of the book was an elderly semi-retired judge and law professor, born circa 1900, and Englishmen of that precise generation had the capacity to ask "why automobiles," instead of taking them for granted. Cutting the copyright down to fourteen years would practically solve the problem. Again, I don't think it would have any practical economic effects on the content industries.

                    In my own area, the closest and largest "night out" type place is not a movie theater-- it is a bowling alley. People don't go to the movies, they go bowling. The nearest movie theater that I know of is about four or five miles away. Furthermore, upon information and belief, as the lawyers say, I understand that a challenge to the local taxicab monopoly was organized in the "sports bar" attached to the bowling alley. Obviously the real competition to the movies is a bowling ball in this case.

                     

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                      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 11:35pm

                      Re: Suzanne Lainson-- Replies to Various Issues.

                      As for the court, this is what I already posted in one of my comments here.

                      I think there is room for reform, too. But actually having that happen given the way politics works seems unlikely. I anticipate that we're more likely to see the business models and the court decisions adjust before the laws change.

                      As for research, I am within walking distance of the University of Colorado Boulder and have used the library there extensively (I got my master's degree there and used the library as a student and then after I got my degree).

                      I've done some heavily researched papers for my blog and did all of my research for those online. What I found was that in some cases people actually photocopied articles from academic journals, uploaded them, and I was able to find them via Google search. Was it legal for those people to do that? No, but I was able to do keyword searches on Google and find everything I needed. It was better than working from traditional databases because those didn't have the extensive keyword searches. It's amazing what you can find online.

                      I've also been able to read pages out of books using both Google and Amazon. While in the past I had to trek to the library and find the book, now I can do remote searches.

                      If it still isn't apparent to people, I am not fighting whatever campaigns you are all organizing for copyright reform. I'm just pointing out how little the topic comes up in the daily reading I do about politics and economics. People are concerned about guns, taxes, food and its safety, health care, fossil fuels, wars, community and urban design, and so on. Only in places like Techdirt are people saying that the copyright reform is the answer to many problems.

                      Copyright DOES comes up in my reading about transforming world economics because there are people pushing to create a knowledge base that is available to everyone for free. But that knowledge base isn't supposed to be there to enrich companies like Google. It's there to advance humanity, not to sell advertising and monitor users.

                      It's what might be considered a fairly left-wing, anti-capitalistic perspective and I bring it up quite a bit to suggest that IP reform in its various modes can also be done for something other than libertarian goals.

                      While Techdirt suggests copyright reform is good for business, I know other people who are suggesting it is good as a way ELIMINATE much of business as we know it, with the goal of giving as much control back to individuals, communities, and small groups as possible.

                      I just saw this today and it might be good for the discussion here.

                      P2P Democratisation of the State vs. anarcho-capitalist libertarianism

                       

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                        Andrew D. Todd, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 2:45am

                        Re: Re: Suzanne Lainson-- Replies to Various Issues.

                        Well, I'm in Morgantown, WV, which is West Virginia University. Additionally, at one time or another, I have attended the University of Michigan (as a freshman in a dormitory, with two noisy room-mates in a very small room, small enough to require bunk beds), the University of Cincinnati, the University of Oregon, and Temple University. Apart from undergraduate liberal arts and engineering degrees, I've studied Anthropology, Military History, and History of Technology at the graduate level. I have a masters in Anthropology, and am a lapsed ABD in History, and it would probably be fair to call me by that somewhat derogatory term, "perpetual graduate student." As I see it, in Issiah Berlin's classification, I am a fox rather than a hedgehog ("A fox knows many things, a hedgehog knows one big thing.").

                        Scholars are normally as poor as church mice, that's simply the nature of the game. Academics who make money tend to make it as administrators, not as scholars. What I found myself doing repeatedly, at various different schools, was moving out beyond conventionally defined walking distance, so as not to have to compete for space with undergraduates who wanted to be close enough to campus to walk home from bars and clubs. Now, of course, to the extent that I started walking five and ten miles a day, spending a couple of hours a day walking, I was able to walk to school, and I could plan my route to swing by the library on a daily basis. However, that is not the same thing as being able to look something up on the spur of the moment, with no idea of whether it will turn out to be important or not. As for availability on the internet, what matters to me is often the material which people do _not_ think is very important. I've done things like content analysis of advertisements in specialist magazines, collections of jokes, stuff like that. Collections which are useful to me tend to involve someone being paid minimum wage ("work-study") to scan everything, without stopping to see what it is. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. That does have to be done on a legal basis.

                         

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              PT (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 10:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              We're talking politics and what citizens care about. Copyright isn't an issue that citizens riot about. Food can be.

              I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. True, copyright in and of itself isn't an issue that citizens riot about. It doesn't affect them; they consider it irrelevant and ignore it. On the other hand, attempts to enforce copyright through DMCA takedowns, ludicrous statutory damages and the criminalization of civil tort does affect citizens.

              I'm sure nobody in North Africa gave a damn about illegal fruit trading until Mohamed Bouazizi made it an issue.

               

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                Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 11:53am

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

                I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

                That given the political thinking in DC anything is going to get done any time soon to pass copyright reform. There are other issues that can't get passed, so I am skeptical that this one will sail through Congress.

                Because Congress decided NOT to pass certain laws doesn't mean they will therefore pass laws reforming copyright. Congress has shown itself much better at saying NO than actually shaping and passing bills.

                If you want to hail as a victory the fact that you've gotten Congress to maintain the status quo, then fine.

                 

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          Ruben, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think the jist of what he's saying is 'infringers gonna infringe'. Which is a point that gets raised here pretty often. If the law is out of parity with what the populace views as just, then many will act in a way that they view as just. If you've read Schneier's Liars and Outliers, you'll probably recognize copyright infringers as a sect of defectors. You'll also recall that not all defectors are out to harm society; quite the opposite. They serve to demonstrate that the law does not reflect fair circumstance and that action needs to be taken to correct it.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I think the jist of what he's saying is 'infringers gonna infringe'. Which is a point that gets raised here pretty often. If the law is out of parity with what the populace views as just, then many will act in a way that they view as just.

            I accept this as the current reality. That's why I think fighting it is a waste of resources. It is happening, so you've got to deal with it.

            But, on the other hand, I think riling people up about fighting copyright also seems to be a waste of resources. I think the problem will take care of itself before it gets settled as a law. Sooner or later the big copyright holders or their organizations will disappear.

            I think Google's approach to YouTube (making it attractive for rights holders to allow copyright content to be used) is more pragmatic than hoping the laws change soon.

             

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              Jay (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              How are the monopolists going to disappear?

              The main ones that support copyright monopolies get a lit of money in tax subsidies to maintain their position. Further, they have the money to buy governments. There is no discussion of alternatives in their world and their monopoly is inherently unstable.

              Every time you have to fix copyright, it will be from the ground up. As I see it, copyright is a reflection of the inherent flaws of our capitalist system. A monopolist will work to monopolize a market and force a government to do itsbidding. This worked for 30 years to consolidate the entertainment market. You now can't make a fan-based remake of Star Wars without George Lucas taking his cut. Yet, you can find his movie for free along with the other six. Lucasfilms may own the copyright, but out doesn't control the millions of fans that work to make their own culture no matter what the law or a monopolist says.

               

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          JMT (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Let's say you offer to get rid of copyright laws but don't enable people to have enough food to feed their families."

          Your suggestion is moot and irrelevant. Copyright laws are simply not required to put food on peoples' tables. Firstly, there are countless examples out there today of people making good money from their content without relying on the protection of copyright laws, and secondly, the music and movie industries are doing better and better despite widespread copyright infringement.

          Also note that "getting rid of copyright laws" is not really even a serious suggestion. It's always been about copyright reform, both to wind copyright back to its original intent and scope, and also to better reflect the realities of our digital present and future.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Copyright laws are simply not required to put food on peoples' tables. Firstly, there are countless examples out there today of people making good money from their content without relying on the protection of copyright laws, and secondly, the music and movie industries are doing better and better despite widespread copyright infringement.

            But that is PRECISELY my point. The world is functioning right now. Copyright isn't a revolutionary issue because it isn't getting in the way of people. People are already working around it.

            It will get reformed or done away with eventually anyway. It just isn't going to happen from Congress any time soon.

             

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Copyright, and patents, can adversely affect people putting food on the table by denying them the knowledge or the ability to make use of knowledge, that is required to improve their growing of food, or treatment of disease.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:29am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Copyright, and patents, can adversely affect people putting food on the table by denying them the knowledge or the ability to make use of knowledge, that is required to improve their growing of food, or treatment of disease.

              I think info people need in order to put food on the table is available to them in some form. I do a lot of research online and I can find more info now than I could in the pre-Internet days when I only had access to what was available in libraries. I have yet to run into any situation where I couldn't get what I needed because it was copyrighted.

              Now patents are another matter. There may be some products not available to people because of patents.

              But overall, I'm totally fine with making everything available to everyone in the world. As I have said many times, I go to this site all the time for ideas about how to share everything with everyone when possible: P2P Foundation

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:48am

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

                There may be some products not available to people because of patents.


                Medicines being the most important, with the big pharmaceutical companies throwing hissy fits ever time some country decides to make them at cost price for internal use. These companies would rather let the poor die than take a slight risk that cheap medicines could reach their main markets,

                 

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      JMT (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

      Re:

      "Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived and tech decided to abuse it with parasitic business models."

      Nobody gave a flying fuck about copyright law until the internet arrived and tech
      allowed people to perform one of the most basic human traits, sharing of culture, on a much wider scale, which was previously only possible on a very small scale due to technological limitations and high cost. They started to give a flying fuck when they discovered how copyright had been grossly expanded and twisted from it's origins, and saw that the laws had been effectively written by the content industries to benefit them massively at the expense of both artists and the public. They also gave a flying fuck when efforts to enforce copyright resulted in huge collateral damage to other far more important natural rights.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:33pm

      Re:

      everyone knows that no one gives a flying fuck about something copyrighted 70 years ago
      So - you're advocating reducing copyright to a fixed 69-year term?

      Or - if someone else advocated that, you'd happily support them?

      Somehow, I doubt your sincerity.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Data collection by private companies

    In the recent US v. Jones case, where a warrantless GPS device was used for a number of weeks, it presented a stunning example of the privacy implications of current technology (as was discussed primarily in the concurring opinion). Luckily, the prospect of the FBI tracking all of our cars by GPS devices under our car is highly improbable if nothing else from a resources perspective but it's not difficult to imagine a near future world where traffic cameras, aerial vehicles, or even satellites with sophisticated software could analyze and database where our cars have been every single day at every minute all without a warrant. This may or may not be a Fourth Amendment search/seizure, but it certainly can be addressed through legislative action as was done with ECPA in an earlier time.

    People who only focus on what government does with data are ignoring what private companies are doing to collect, sell, and target consumers with that data.

    I think the split thinking is often intentional because many people working for private companies still want to be able to do this. There is big money in big data. I see focusing on government only as a diversionary tactic to keep them out of data collection, therefore giving private companies more opportunities to profit from it.

     

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    JWW (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    Thank you

    Thank you for championing this issue.

    When your paper came out and the copyright industry induced a hissy fit about it, I immediately contacted my (republican) representative and told them that the actions taken against you were unfair and uncalled for.

    I indicated that many of your suggestions should be made law and that anyone opposing them would not get my vote (and yes my Rep. has previously gotten my vote, twice).

    The Republican party could make great headway on this issue if they remembered that they should be the party advocating for limited involvement of the government in people's lives.

     

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    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Conservatives are big believers in Constitutional fidelity, support a limited federal government in size and scope, and are generally skeptical of regulatory structures, particularly when they are written by a particular industry or interest group.

    This gave me a good laugh. If this had ever been part of the GOP platform, it had been repeatedly shot and then buried at some undisclosed location decades ago.


    Members' sudden, vocal opposition of legislation [SOPA] that they were co-sponsoring was nothing short of a watershed moment.

    Watershed moment? This kind of knee-jerk reactionism happens all of the time and gives many the false impression that politicians have a spine, or anything resembling intelligence--just like jolting a dead frog leg with an electrode gives the false impression of life.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

    If your business revolves around copyrighted items, it matters to you. Either you are trying to hang on to copyright or you're trying to get rid of it.

    But for the rest of the world, there are far more pressing issues (e.g., health, safety, jobs, distribution of natural resources).

    Now, as part of a larger economic revolution that attempts to democratize ownership and eliminates both big government and big corporations, yes, it plays a role. And as part of a global revolutionary movement, it is important. But that means the goal is not only to get rid of copyright, but also to get rid of the big corporations (e.g., Google) that might benefit from its elimination.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

      Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

      IF your business revolves solely around copyrighted items, you're doing it wrong.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

        IF your business revolves solely around copyrighted items, you're doing it wrong.

        I won't disagree with you on that.

        But as an aside, I'd also say that about online companies based solely on ad revenue. Too many start-ups fall back on this.

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

          But all businesses live and die by ad revenue.

          Ever look at a newspaper and see advertisements there?

          Sure, they paid the newspaper to get in there, but, they're still ads telling people what they got for sale.

          Ever watch sports on local channels? See local businesses with commercials?

          ALL businesses live or die by ad revenue, that is, the revenue that advertising brings in.

          It's just, now-a-days, you don't have to pay as much as before.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

            ALL businesses live or die by ad revenue, that is, the revenue that advertising brings in.

            The problem when making your money via ad revenue is that sooner or later you are likely to be replaced by a different company going after your audience.

            Attracting eyeballs in order to sell ads is a constantly churning business. It was more secure when only a few publications owned the presses or the airwaves. But when the Internet allows for unlimited places to place ads, you don't really have many barriers of entry to protect your business. The minute you amass an audience big enough to generate substantial ad revenue, someone else will come along and go after that same audience. That audience isn't likely to be loyal to anyone delivering ads.

             

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              silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

              That's quite true.

              That's the challenge in business.

              You gotta keep customers loyal and wanting your product.

              Which means, making it easier to get your product makes it easier to make money from people.

               

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              Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.


              The problem when making your money via ad revenue is that sooner or later you are likely to be replaced by a different company going after your audience.


              Hold on a second...

              Not every "market" lives and dies by ad revenue.

              Some people create art on Deviantart but that's not a "market" that people live and die by.

              Somehow, it just doesn't seem to be an accurate statement that you have to believe in monetizing everything for the sake of money.

               

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                Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

                Not every "market" lives and dies by ad revenue.

                No, not every business does. And it's good when companies don't solely depend on ad money to keep them afloat. I think the ad model has limitations.

                 

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            nasch (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 9:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright matters to those who make their money from copyrighted items; others not so much.

            ALL businesses live or die by ad revenue, that is, the revenue that advertising brings in.

            Uh... ALL businesses? Like General Motors, and mining companies, and Halliburton? They rely on ad revenue?

             

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    •  
      identicon
      Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

      Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

      There is a growing third party, those who do use copyright but see the current system as problematic or even irrevocably broken. Modern copyright has primarily been crafted by big publishers, for big publishers. Anything that benefits the actual creators or the public is being increasingly marginalized.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

        Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

        There is a growing third party, those who do use copyright but see the current system as problematic or even irrevocably broken. Modern copyright has primarily been crafted by big publishers, for big publishers. Anything that benefits the actual creators or the public is being increasingly marginalized.

        I think there is room for reform, too. But actually having that happen given the way politics works seems unlikely. I anticipate that we're more likely to see the business models and the court decisions adjust before the laws change.

        To get laws passed in Congress you need a consensus or a time when one party dominates both the Senate and the House. Right now no one anticipates either in the near future.

         

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          identicon
          Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

          In other words, no time soon. The companies pushing for favorable copyright laws are doing so in every major market, even China, and the money and kickbacks they make from these bad laws are being used to bankroll more bad laws. You could argue that their ROI on these laws will eventually evaporate, but considering how they specifically target avenues for marketing and publishing creative works that compete with their gatekeeper business model, I don't see their profits drying up anytime soon.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

            The companies pushing for favorable copyright laws are doing so in every major market, even China, and the money and kickbacks they make from these bad laws are being used to bankroll more bad laws. You could argue that their ROI on these laws will eventually evaporate, but considering how they specifically target avenues for marketing and publishing creative works that compete with their gatekeeper business model, I don't see their profits drying up anytime soon.

            What I see happening already is that as the tech companies amass more money, they start influencing politicians to their own benefit. Then the old companies are gone, but we have a new set of big powerful companies getting the world to go in their favor.

            What I want to see is a time when no company/industry can amass enough money to influence anyone. While big tech may have aspired to that once, I think now they look a lot like big companies/industries of the past. Once any company/industry amasses enough power/influence, I think it works hard to maintain the world that benefits it the most.

             

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              Ed C., Jan 7th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

              Tech companies? You mean like Apple and Microsoft, or even Amazon? They are FAR more concerned with patents right now. I'm sure we could see some copyright reform if they pushed hard enough, but I doubt that it would be particularly favorable for creators or the public. Like you said, they would simply push copyright to be more amiable to their interest. All else be damned.

              I'm not totally against big companies. There is a scale of development and production that small companies simply cannot reach. What I do agree with is that moneyed interest has way too much sway in elections and government. Unfortunately, I don't see an easy way out of the corporate-political plutocracy we're falling into.

               

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

                While big companies have the advantage in the scale of production, it is usually the small companies that have the advantage in developing ideas. The large companies can and do buy out the smaller companies to gain their ideas.

                 

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                  Jay (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: [B&W copyright arguement]

                  Small correction...

                  In a capitalist society, it's the large companies that tend to break smaller ones to maintain fragile monopolies.

                   

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:28pm

    "I have always believed that being a public servant means that I have an obligation to the citizens to be an agent of change within the system by reforming it on a daily basis. Simply being part of a dysfunctional system without advocating for new, innovative, common-sense solutions makes you part of the problem."

    If only more public servants actually tried to serve the public. Ah well.
    Bravo, Mr. Khanna. May your past inspire others, and may your future be bright.

     

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    mudlock (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:56pm

    Conservative?

    "There is a conservative consensus that our copyright law is ineffective. We can quibble on how to fix it, and that's important, but some of the parameters of the problem are very apparent to almost all conservatives with familiarity on the subject."


    And I would say the exact same words, only with s/conservative/liberal/. Or better yet, s/conservative//. The only people opposed are the ones who continue to make gobs of money by having twisted the system to their own benefit, and those who lack familiarity with the subject.

    Democrat Al Franken? Great guy, super-liberal dude, I love him. But all his former (pre-congress) coworkers and employers in the entertainment business (as well as his own royalty checks) have him decidedly on the wrong side of this.

    Republican Daryl Issa? Total 180 from Franken, on every issue (well, except a carbon tax) so copyright is basically the only think I agree with Issa on.

    Meanwhile? Democrat Ron Wyden has been the #1 guy on the right side of this. But outside this issue, him and Franken are almost a perfect match.

    This is completely outside of conservative/liberal (or at least of Republican/Democrat, which is what matters.) Which makes me very pessimistic for the future.

     

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    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:30am

    Interesting tidbit in there

    Under the Constitution, copyright law is a domestic policy that should be decided in this manner

    This really clashes with Hollywood trying their hardest to get treaties signed with stricter copyright controls. Maybe someone should attack those treaties from the constitutionality standpoint and put an end to this attempt by Hollywood? But then again, the Supreme Court seems to be punting on the real issues these days so even this line of defense may not work.

     

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


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