The Copyright Lobotomy: How Intellectual Property Makes Us Pretend To Be Stupid

from the or:-how-to-build-an-intellectual-cage dept

Here are two words that have no business hanging out together: "used MP3s." If you know anything about how computers work, that concept is intellectually offensive. Same goes for "ebook lending", "digital rental" and a host of other terms that have emerged from the content industries' desperate scramble to do the impossible: adapt without changing.

These concepts are all completely imaginary, and yet we treat them as if they are real, and have serious discussions about every last detail of how they function — like a debate about the best mutant superpower, but with multimillion dollar lawsuits. Copyright necessitates that we all pretend we don't know any better. It makes us act stupid.

Take "used MP3s" for example. The idea is instantly nonsensical, and proposing it seems on par with asking how all those people fit inside the television. A "used MP3" is indistinguishable from a "new" one, and on the internet there's no such thing as an individual, discrete copy of an MP3 that gets "moved" from one person to another anyway. Speaking even more broadly, a "file" is not a "thing" at all — it's a concept that we use to help organize and visualize the even more abstract concept of "information" in many different places and states, whether magnetically inscribed on a hard disk platter or being transmitted via radio waves (not to mention the internal operation of a computer, where pieces of the information are shunted around between multiple different components and caches).

A "file" is an analogy, and like all analogies, it's incomplete. It breaks down when taken too far, and then it must be discarded, because analogies only exist for our convenience. "Moving" a file is also an analogy — in reality, we are copying it and then deleting the original. Even deleting a file is usually an analogy — the data is still recoverable, the computer has just been instructed to pretend it's not there anymore.

The purpose of these analogies is not to impose limitations on reality. We don't give up the ability to copy a file because we simulated the ability to move it. We don't have to pretend information degrades like physical objects just because we chose to conceptualize it that way. If we want to describe something as "the size of 10 football fields", we don't demand there be gridiron lines painted on it. There's a reason that stubbornly sticking with analogies is referred to as torture, and every discussion about "used files" or the difference between moving and copying is another turn of the screw.

Because of copyright, we are constantly asked to pretend that these analogies are binding. When we "lend" a Kindle ebook, we must pretend that we gave a thing away and don't have it for a while, when in fact our device is just refusing to let us access it. When a library wants to lend out ebooks, they must pretend they have a "limited number of copies available." When we buy software with an activation code, we must pretend that we "only bought one" and thus can only have it in one place at a time. When we rent a digital movie, we must pretend that we "have to give it back". We have to pretend we're stupid and that our devices have limitations which don't actually exist.

But here's the real kicker: the moment there might be any benefit to the consumer, the content companies toss the analogy out the window, and suddenly want to talk about reality. Thus you get things like ReDigi, the would-be used MP3 market that recently lost in court. ReDigi attempted to make MP3s simulate discrete items by enforcing the analogy of "moving a file" using a monitoring system, such that when you sold an MP3 to someone, it would make sure you deleted your own copy. Though we always suspected it was doomed, it was at least rather fascinating from a legal and policy perspective, potentially creating a clash between copyright and first sale rights. After all, if we are expected to treat digital files like physical property, we should at least be getting the rights that come with that.

But this time the record labels wanted to focus on the fact that there's no such thing as moving a file, and pointed out that ReDigi involved making copies whether or not it also involved deleting other copies — and the judge agreed. This is actually correct, technically and realistically — just don't tell them that next time, when it doesn't benefit them and they're back to calling infringement theft. As if to underline their masterful doublethink when it comes to the nature of property, the labels are all about having their cake and eating it too.

ReDigi is hardly the only example. We've written before about the insane situation with TV and movie streaming, where companies do things like set up a warehouse full of separate DVD players that stream from individual discs, or install a separate TV antenna on the same rooftop for every customer who wants an online stream. They are forced to willfully ignore technological capabilities, engineering principles and simple common sense just to conform to all these broken analogies — and they still face massive opposition from content owners and broadcasters every step of the way.

The real issue, when you get down to it, is that copyright itself is imaginary. A "song" or a "novel" is just as analogical as a "file". Originally, copyright law was very concerned with separating the expression of an idea from the idea itself, and in theory that's still the case, but in practice the line has proven almost impossible to draw. So first we conceptualize an abstract thing like "content" as discrete pieces, then we conceptualize all the abstract rights associated with those pieces, and then we conceptualize the discrete units of distribution and ownership within those rights.

These are all imaginary concepts, built on top of other imaginary concepts, built on top of still more imaginary concepts. It's turtles all the way down.

This does not necessarily mean that there's no place for copyright in the world. But in order for it to function, we have to remember that it's an analogy — it's something chosen and used to achieve a purpose, not something that binds and shapes reality, or that we must conform to at the expense of our better judgement. Originally, copyright was just that: a choice by society to employ the analogies of ownership and property in limited, specially-tailored ways in order to achieve a desired result — a flourishing intellectual and artistic economy. Today, copyright is worlds away from what it was then, and it does more to hinder that goal than help it... but many people seem to have forgotten that it's a just a tool, and we can always put it down.

In all the discussion about the various reasons people give for violating copyright, I think there's one that goes unmentioned: a lot of people just refuse to pretend to be stupid.



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  1.  
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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:53am

    "Intellectual Property" is the biggest offense out there, and I find it incredulous this term is used as though it has meaning.

    I can't sell a person's transformation from an idea to a canvas, word processor, song, or film. I can only do so once the transformation is turned into actual property, which I can hold, sell, trade, lend, etc.

    If you want to talk about intellectually offensive uses of the digital era, start with "intellectual property" and how it's the very reason why there's a copyright law to begin with.

    People always assume their ideas are protected, simply because they are transferred into tangible property, which is then wrapped in a multitude of draconian laws.

    Sorry, Leigh, but you dropped the ball on this one by using the most offensive term out there.

    Other than that, I concur with the position. It's rather telling people will placate these issues as though there's some reason behind why it should cost them $5 for a "24 hour rental" of a digital file which can be infinitely reproduced.

    At least Blockbuster had a reason to charge that much. Not only did the industry blackmail their profits, but they only had a limited number of copies on hand, per store, so it was a perfect setup for bilking customers who didn't want to spend $20 (or more!) for the movie.

    Look where they are now.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:25am

    +1

    I wholeheartedly agree. I made a decision a long time ago to use my mind to its fullest whenever I could. I'm not going to cover my eyes and pretend we don't live in a world where nearly everyone could have access to nearly every bit of culture and every idea for very little cost. We do live in that world now, and thinking anything less is exactly that: stupid.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:38am

    What we need right now is to stop focusing on how to sell IP and start thinking about how to monetize over it. It cannot be sold, transferred or anything that can be done with a tangible and scarce physical good. So how do you monetize your stuff? Copyright could help here by setting clear guidelines of how cinemas and other activities with commercial intent that absolutely need existing IP as it is to survive and how much will be owed to the original artists. A pub playing background music is no place to be charging such thing. That's where the artists can advertise their stuff so they can sell real scarcities that don't need copyright to be protected: themselves. Build a fanbase and stuff like that and have money flow naturally their way.

    Copyright will still find its space but in a very different, narrow and sane way. But not as it is today.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    I don't think the term itself is a problem much like the concept of copyright isn't a problem. You see, it's how both of them were twisted by 'special' interests as time passed that made them the monsters they are today.

    If you think intellectual property in terms of attribution and not ownership then things get clearer and copyright can be built upon sane concepts. I'm fairly sure Leigh would agree with that much.

     

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re:

    Great in theory, poor in application. Attribution is the entire reason why copyright exists.

    No one puts value into a works other than me, for it is I who deem them valuable.

    This concept is lost, especially on many artists out there, who feel it's their responsibility to place this attribution on their works.

    Hence why they seem to try and control it.

    Some artists are figuring out this internet thing can build this attribution for them, but it's still bogus to call it "intellectual property", as though it's a tangible product requiring a say to distribute as the artist sees fit.

    It's why I hate CC licenses, which is being used as some ridiculous tool to pretend the artist has control over their works.

    Attribution once had another value, back when slaves were used in early America. That didn't turn out well, either.

    Fans will support what they like, whether it be sharing works with others to build an audience, or financially.

    I'm getting pretty sick and tired of artists telling me what I can, and can't do, with their "property".

    I've said it once before: if they don't want people sharing it and dislike it when we break their "rules", keep their works to themselves.

    This solves every problem.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:39am

    People would rather ban the reselling, swapping or lending of preowned goods than admit that there is something wrong with the premise of copyright.

    And what is to stop copyright advocators banning these things? They think it IS justified when it comes to electricity, so why not paper and ink?

    Copyright only pretends to solve the free-rider problem, but in reality it does not. People can still "steal" from artists and follow every copyright law in the book by borrowing second-hand DVDs, or buying them from ebay only to resell them for the same price after watching.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    I hate it when I think I can get away with posting without checking... first sentence of the last paragraph should be "Copyright only pretends to solve the free-rider problem" and full stop.

     

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    Pixelation, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:44am

    Perhaps we should rename it to what it is, "Thought Property".

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    As a matter of FACT, someone creates and pays for intellectual property. Whoever put analog and/or digital data onto media OWNS the content, NOT the media. If that someone isn't you, then you've no inherent right to the content: you can PAY whatever is asked for the licensing to access it, or go without. That's the societal contract for legal sharing which is well based in common law: I made it from scratch, it's MINE. Everyone else keep their paws off. The legal way may seem harsh to you "gimme, gimme" kids who think you should be paid just for enjoying content, but the deal works for adults.

    So if ReDigi wants to profit from content without the difficulty of creating and paying for its production then they're required to jump through whatever hoops those who did create and pay for it want to put on them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Surely the solution is simple, to protect the imaginary rights to imaginary property which itself is the result of the imagination we should have purely imaginary protections supported by only imaginary laws and enforced by the imagination.

    We could at least save the taxpayers, globally, many hundreds of millions of actual money, although it would be important to bear in mind that money itself is an imaginary analogous construct.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I meant attribution as in disclosing who created a determined thing. Attribution is important to get your work known so you can monetize on it. Maybe a better word would be authorship or something. I also don't see neither attribution nor any copyright as a tool that should enable authors to dictate what the average Joe does with their copies but rather to protect them from very specific commercial exploitation.

    Ie: if we remove copyright today I would not be surprised to see the labels trying to sell what they have without giving a shit to the artists. The complexity may be in how to define what's commecial exploitation and what's not.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Re:

    While I totally agree with your broader points, if I'm being honest, I think you're putting just a little too much emphasis on my choice to use the term 'intellectual property' (once!) in a post dedicated to criticizing it... Still, you're not wrong! :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    Twisted? No, no. It's been corrupt every since its inception. The first copyright laws were created in opposition to the prospect of people being able to publish content faster and more easily. The monarchy of England didn't want any materials written and printed that spoke against them, so they created a law that gave an exclusive group the power to print. That group was required to submit all works to the monarchy for review and possible censorship.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    Twisted? No, no. It's been corrupt every since its inception. The first copyright laws were created in opposition to the prospect of people being able to publish content faster and more easily. The monarchy of England didn't want any materials written and printed that spoke against them, so they created a law that gave an exclusive group the power to print. That group was required to submit all works to the monarchy for review and possible censorship.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Crap, double post. Forgot to log in.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Re:

    Judging by the comments made by the people who regularly try to defend it here, there's certainly nothing intellectual going on.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Here is someone who likes to pretend to be stupid.

    Although, I suspect it isn't pretending.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    You made your content above from scratch and it's yours. Until you clicked submit it was solely yours, but you, for reasons of your own wanted that content to be available to as many people as possible and having published it you will get responses to it, you will get people quoting it when talking to others and you have given up your right to sole ownership and most control.
    People could quote you in books or on radio or tv, without seeking your permission or paying you anything for all the time, effort and froth you put into it, most likely books or programmes on psychology and psychiatry.
    It stopped being solely yours the second you made it public, you never had a 'right' to make money from it, you perhaps could make money out of it if you put at an ootb book of nonsense but it's not a right and is not guaranteed and it is not anyone else's responsibility to ensure that anyone who reads what you wrote and laughs pays for the pleasure nor does anyone who reads what you write and laughs have any obligation of any sort to give you money for it.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Cool. Call Ebay a pirate website on that basis, then?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    i dont think it's that the people refuse to pretend to be stupid, it's the entertainment industries that make out that people are stupid and treat them as such. they do the same thing to politicians who, i am sorry to say, deserve the title due to the stupidity the show in the way the bend over backwards and take a good shafting from the industries so as to keep allowing changes to existing law and the addition of new laws to protect the industries and the content. if those politicians were to see sense and do what they should, most of the problems associated with digital content over copyright wouldn't exist. unfortunately, you cannot put sense where there isn't room!!

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:03am

    Copyright, like patents, should be used to protect a person's implementation of an idea, not the idea itself.

    I have said it many times but it is still true. The problem comes from seeing movies or songs as a commodity to be bought and sold rather than culture to be enjoyed and shared. Somewhere down the line perception of content has become warped and the original purpose of culture has been forgotten. I am not saying content should be 'free as in free beer' but it should be 'free as in freedom'.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:03am

    In all the discussion about the various reasons people give for violating copyright, I think there's one that goes unmentioned: a lot of people just refuse to pretend to be stupid.

    You're not even pretending.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Re:

    Pot meet kettle

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re:

    "This does not necessarily mean that there's no place for copyright in the world"

    Phew! I was beginning to think you might have missed out on your lobotomy, and had enough of a brain left to qualify as a copyright abolitionist.

    Or is that just the Techdirt "We support copyright, but it has issues" line you have to toe?

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    The politicians aren't stupid. They know where their money comes from, and I doubt anyone ever lost an election because of copyright. Even Lamar Smith got reelected after sponsoring SOPA.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    What we need right now is to stop focusing on how to sell IP and start thinking about how to monetize over it.

    Absolutely. And beyond that, I think there's an even more important discussion to be had: how could IP law be reformed to provide a commercial advantage to creators without relying on a strict system of permission & control? I believe it's possible.

    One big component could be a shift to a more trademark-like view of copyright -- e.g. the focus is on ensuring that creators & rightsholders have the ability to present themselves as the "official" source and stop others from pretending the same. That combined with a cultural shift that places emphasis on supporting artists (that's not even really a 'shift' -- just the refinement and focusing of an attitude most people already have) would serve a lot of the commercial purposes of copyright while putting control mostly in the hands of creators rather than companies.

    Another thing worth considering could be the realm of unfair competition laws. Now, that's a pretty dangerous area, and should be handled with extreme care in a free market economy -- but it could still potentially be a lot better than the near-absolute control of copyright. It would be good to find a way to prevent the sort of ongoing, wholesale copying that could block someone from a market -- e.g. in a hypothetical copyright-free world, how do we stop a publisher with resources from snapping up every indie ebook they see, changing the author's name, and selling them? On the one hand, I think a lot of that could be dealt with via market and cultural forces -- but is there a way to give the creator some sort of legal/economic "first mover" advantage without going as far as saying "you control all usage of your work"?

    I don't have answers to all these questions of course -- but it's an area rich for progressive and valuable discussion, and unfortunately it's one we don't get too often enough because the other side of the copyright debate, which is 20+ years behind reality at this point, is holding us back...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:13am

    i donated enough money to these people when i bought cds - forced to pay for 20 songs, 18 of which are crappy filler to make the price of the cd go to 20$ instead of the 2-3 bucks it was worth. im just gettin my due.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I would choose abolition over the absolute disaster that is copyright today. And generally speaking, I believe copyright's impact on the market and on culture should be minimized and carefully targeted. But if the discussion is about what a hypothetical perfect system would look like, I'm not going to rule out the possibility that copyright or something copyright-like could play a meaningful role in it.

    I know some people think we are equivocating by criticizing so many aspects of copyright then saying we still support it in theory -- but it's not equivocation, it's a genuine expression of our opinion on what is, ultimately, a rather odd topic to discuss. "Copyright" has been around so long, and undergone so many changes, that it's a rather imprecise term -- there's copyright meaning the basic principle (something I feel to be potentially problematic, but not necessarily useless if employed correctly) and copyright meaning any number of specific copyright schemes that exist around the world today and throughout history (most of which I think are completely, irrecoverably broken)

     

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    AC Unknown, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Tell that to your heroes at Prenda Law. Oh wait, Prenda's pretty much had the book thrown at them.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Copyright should not exist.

    "This does not necessarily mean that there's no place for copyright in the world."

    I have to disagree. Copyright exists to create scarcities and as Ninja said, "they can sell real scarcities that don't need copyright to be protected: themselves." Copyright does one thing and one thing only, it forces the market to adapt to a business model rather than the business model adapting to the market. For that reason, copyright should not exist, because it's forcing reality to bend to the will of content owners. Copyright forces us to accept the idea that speech can be property and without this concept of property, copyright would be meaningless. There is nothing copyright can provide that can't be solved with smart business models and that's another reason copyright shouldn't exist. To say there might be a place for copyright is really nothing less than an apologist stance and in light of everything else you said, it smells like an attempt to calm the copyright supporters after reading everything prior to that. You can't really say all that and not come to the conclusion that copyright shouldn't exist given that there are perfectly successful alternatives to copyright.

    Copyright should not exist. Sell yourself, not your work. Nobody can take from you what you don't create. Nobody can make you work for free, but if you rely on copyright to protect you, you're allowing that to happen.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:29am

    Re: Copyright should not exist.

    Copyright forces us to accept the idea that speech can be property

    I think this is just a question of terminology. When I say there is still a potential place for "copyright" in the world, I mean copyright (or some system by another name) wherein we do not "accept the idea" that speech is property, but are choosing to offer certain highly-limited competitive advantages to creators.

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Nice article, and nice to read an original opinion piece.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Leigh, the rabbit hole goes very deep - it's corruption all the way down. https://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/abridy/copyrights-fundamental-rights-and-the-constitution/

    The re is no principle apart from the church and state wanting to control the dissemination of information, and those who enjoy the consequent licenses or monopolies wanting to keep them.

    It may be difficult to imagine that copyright wasn't created by a bunch of kind-hearted philanthropists for the good of mankind, but that's the red/blue pill decision you're going to have to take one day.

     

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    John Doe, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:40am

    I vote this whole post as insightful

    Too bad we can only vote for comments, because I would vote for this whole post as insightful.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not sure what your link is supposed to mean... It is re-iterating my exact point: copyright is an option, something we may choose to define and use in a way that benefits society if we wish.

    You can insist that this is a "red/blue pill decision" but I disagree. I think it is more nuanced than that.

     

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    Edward Teach, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    Belay that, mate! "Thought Censorship", is what we rightly ought to name it! Arrrr!

     

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    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Patent Lobotomy

    I think the same failure of analogies applies to patents. The very first US patent was on a process of making potash. A running program is called a process, and information is processed. Therefore, software can be patented. Huh?

    Working backward from that model, we can see that very few patents should be valid. Recipes cannot be patented, and a recipe is just a collection of ingredients which are processed together in a specific way. There are also chemical and biological changes that occur during the processing, so this should in no way validate a patent. Thus, all chemical, pharmacutical and process-related patents should be invalidated, with software patents following the process-related patents.

    The most obvious takeaway from this is that the patent system is inconsistent and capricious, and is in no way deserving of the respect it has been given.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    I think this is just a question of terminology


    I agree, but it's an important question of terminology. When I start to see the term "intellectual property" in common use, my first thought was that whoever started using the term was kindof brilliant in an evil way. By getting everyone to refer to it as "property," the day would inevitably come when people begin to think of it as just a different form of property, and so property laws should apply -- even though the centuries of debate on this very issue makes it clear that this is not a given. Our original copyright law was, in fact, trying to thread this needle. To give some property-like rights without incurring the nastiness and deceit involved in actually considering it to be property.

    And here we are today. Language is important.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Oh great. Now we all own the stupidity.

     

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    Dave Nelson, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Copyright

    Since the introduction of the printing press, in England in 1476, the whole idea of "copyright" has been about protecting the publishing and printing houses, usually from each other. Said houses had formed into guilds with exclusive rights over production of certain literary works. Nothing was said about the authors and artists.

    The "Statute of Anne", passed in 1710, attempted to shift that toward the creators, but pretty much failed, with the guilds and printing houses still being in control.

    Copyright, today, is STILL about protecting the publishers and very little about the creators. That was fine as long as a "copy" was a physical thing one could see, touch, hold, and smell, and was limited by it's very nature as a manufactured thing - only so many could be made.

    Digital files, on the other hand, are not so limited. They can be (and many times are) reproduced endlessly. Indeed, publishers get the original manuscripts in that form, and reproduce them, edit them, and finally generate printing masters from them to make the physical objects they sell. Meantime hundreds of copies, in various states, exist in the publisher's computer systems. This whole thing is a farce to preserve the profits of the publishers.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:00am

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

    The red/blue pill decision is your decision as to whether you will believe:

    1) Copyright's original purpose was to benefit society. Any issues it has that may be argued depart from this purpose can be resolved, such that it continues to benefit society.

    2) Copyright's original purpose was to benefit the state, through effective control of a beholden press. Now that the people are the press, it is no longer providing effective control, however much it is enhanced or draconian its enforcement. Totalitarianism is the state's recourse.

    One of these pills is rather bitter.

     

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  42.  
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    Dave Nelson, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:04am

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

    Sorry, copyright's ORIGINAL purpose was to protect the printers and give the State an effective means of censoring publications it didn't like.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Studies have shown that it's everywhere, provides no illumination and makes up something like 84.5% of the total of what's the matter in the universe, or is that dark matter,
    or is there a difference.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    But copyright is a form of property. It grants people exclusive power to control access to works they create. So long as copyright stands for the ability to prevent others from copying, copyright imposes the concept of property on speech. Unless you can form a copyright law that doesn't prohibit copying of any kind, I can't see how it doesn't force us to accept the idea that speech can be property. Either you impose on us the idea that some uses of speech are exclusive to their originator or nobody has any exclusive right to any speech. If you choose the former, you're saying that speech can be property.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:07am

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

    3) It's not black and white (or red and blue as the case may be). Copyright has always been corrupt, and special interests were its primary authors and have been the biggest beneficiaries, but studying the long history of legislative and judicial discussions about copyright shows that there has been lots of sincere concern for its superior purpose of encouraging creation and benefitting society. Sadly that concern has rarely won out over the greedier interests with the bigger lobbyist guns, and it has never ever been primary over them -- but it is not completely falsified, and I think it would be premature and stubborn to refuse to consider that it might have potential.

     

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    Dave Nelson, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:13am

    "Intellectual Property"

    Note article I section 8 of our Constitution says "to Authors and Inventors". Nowhere does it say "to Authors and Inventors and anyone who pays them."

    This privilege is to be granted to the ORIGINAL creator ONLY, not some third-party. The whole concept that a patent or copyright is property that can be bought and sold like a used lawnmower is insane, and the basis of 99% of our problems with them.

    Yes, patents and copyrights should be able to be assigned or licensed, but the original creator retains control. If disputes arise between the creator and his assignees or licensees, or a third party, that is a matter of contract or Tort law. In any event, the patent or copyright is not property, and should only be granted for a short period of time.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    I guess I feel there's a difference between saying "this speech is your property" and saying "we choose to give you certain highly limited exclusive rights to this speech because we value what you create, and feel that is an effective way of helping you continue to create and prosper for doing so"

    Functionally there may not be a difference at the core, but it has a big impact. The fact that we grew to believe in speech as property is what allowed copyright to spiral so insanely out of control. All I'm really saying is that I'm not prepared to rule out the idea that granting exclusive rights to creators might be useful if done very carefully and correctly.

    As a comparison: the war on drugs in America is an utter disaster that is causing innumerable social problems. As things stand, everyone would probably be better off if all drug laws were abolished. However, I cannot say unequivocally that all societies should abandon all substance control laws of any kind -- perhaps that's true, but I don't think we can make a clear determination on that yet.

     

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    Dave Nelson, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Copyright

    For an excellent write-up see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:46am

    Leigh, Leigh, Leigh!

    Hitting the nail on the head.

    That's an analogy for this article.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:50am

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

    Oh and trolls? Blue, bob, Average_Joe? THIS IS HOW YOU DEBATE. I nearly broke down in tears after seeing so many calm responses debating copyright in a sane and polite manner.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:52am

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

    I'll stick with 3. Although I'd be inclined to add parts of 2. Still it's some gray area. Or purplish. But I'll go with green as the most probable ;)

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    " Whoever put analog and/or digital data onto media OWNS the content, NOT the media."

    So when I copy files onto my media, whether optical disk, hard disk or SSD...according to you I now own the content? Thanks a lot!

    Talk about undermining your own arguments. You've always argued the exact opposite and now a complete 180?

     

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    David Stein (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:02am

    OP is an idiot

    I suppose that the author also has major difficulty with a "deed" identifying the transfer of land, since the land isn't actually going anywhere.

    "Used" MP3s don't refer at all to the data - they refer to *the right to use the data*, the license to the recording. What is being transferred is the right to own and listen to it. It's the same basis on which libraries lend audio CDs, which are easily rippable: the point is not the physical access to the data, but whether or not the individual has the right to use it.

    There's a ton of value in the "used" MP3 market. Imagine that you have an entire licensed collection of music from an artist - say, The Beatles' entire discography - and you either need some cash or you don't like them any more. Rather than someone buying the MP3s from iTunes (which actually isn't "buying" the music - most of the cost is in buying *a license* to the music), you could "sell your used MP3s" by transferring your ownership (and, incidentally, the data) to someone else.

    As for enforcement: While it's impossible (and terrible policy) to enforce MP3 licenses against individual consumers, lots of other places *need* licenses for music, and the ability to demonstrate valid ownership and rights - like DJs and dance halls. The license itself has significant value, apart from the data.

    In summary, a "used" MP3 market would create an actual free market for music licenses, rather than the controlled, price-inflated, supply-constrained oligopoly that we have now - which is the main reason that the MPAA opposes it. It's also why we should all encourage its development.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re:

    I like the "trademark" idea but Trademark itself has a lot of problems so it'd need to be sorted out before applying anything. In fact this is what I find most important for any creator (to be rightfully associated with a determined creation). I usually think of it as some attribution but it seems from earlier reactions the term is not quite right.

    As for the 'unfair competition' part I think that mixing it with the Teademark-ish style could help solve a lot of problems. Actually this is what I call commercial exploitation. Although I do think that making money on some creation without reserving a share to the creator seems bad too even if you correctly attribute the authorship to the right person. One way would be to greatly restrict how much control the author can have over derivative works (another problematic but workable part) and non-commercial uses (ie: file-sharing, beneficent, news/research and others (which may fall under the derivative work issue). But then it should be much more reasonable to treat copyright as the exception and not the rule?

    I wholeheartedly agree with your last paragraph.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:19am

    Re: OP is an idiot

    There's a difference between audio CDs and mp3s. When I borrow a CD from a library, I'm borrowing a PHYSICAL item, and it is possible for it to degrade, hence the age old market of "used", where older, used items have a lower price point than their new first hand counterparts.
    MP3's are a collection of 1's and 0's on a hard drive. There is literally no difference between the Track 1.mp3 on my hard drive and the Track 1.mp3 on your hard drive. If you "borrow" mp3s from a library, the library files still remain on their computers.
    Bringing in land is again a false analogy. You're trying to equate the usage of something physical with something that is not physical. Only a finite number of people are physically able to make use of land or (Insert Object Here) and so, over time, society determined that property rights had to be created and enforced. However, the same cannot be said of mp3s or any type of digital data. When I listen to Track 1.mp3 using my own equipment, there is literally no effect on you. If I was using your land, I'd be taking up space, possibly damaging it. Not so with digital data.
    Also, think about the "licence" part. You're literally paying for permission to use your own equipment. The MP3 is, at its most basic, a set of instructions to the machine on which sounds to make, at what beat etc. You are already able to do this with or without the licence. The artist is not able to perceive in any way if someone plays his mp3. Yet, for some reason, a licence is necessary.

    I ask you to please elaborate on the potential market of used mp3's. I simply cannot disagree with you more. The main problem is that the sale of used mp3s would massively depend on DRM to ensure that the seller deletes his tracks, which goes against my belief that I and I alone should control every operation of my computer. What if you have the Beatles discography spread out on many devices: a tablet, your phone, an MP3 player? As far as a potential DRM scheme would see, it can only verify that the tracks on your main desktop/laptop are deleted. I have no problem with people paying to access servers in order to get at files: I've done it myself with cyberlockers, but to then mandate that files must be deleted, so as to pretend that an object has been physically moved from one point to another?

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:22am

    An old song comes to mind

    ♫ IĀfd rather have a bottle in front of me, than have to have a copyright lobotomy ĀŰ

     

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    S. T. Stone, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    I should know better than to feed the bridge-trolls, so feel free to call me a billy goat. (Or do you fear infringing upon someone elseís intellectual property if you make the reference?)

    Whoever put analog and/or digital data onto media OWNS the content, NOT the media.

    Who really Ďownsí anything? You can say ĎI own my commentí, but what does that mean ó that you own the idea behind it, or the exact expression of that idea and everything that builds upon your comment (including my comment)?

    How can you really own something as intangible as Ďcontentí, anyway? You can buy a book, and you can buy a DVD, but you canít buy Ďcontentí because Ďcontentí doesnít technically exist in the same sort of tangible, hold-it-in-your-hand way that sheets of paper or plastic discs do. At best, you own the media which expresses content, not the content itself, because you canít actually Ďowní content.

    Öwell, enough of that philosophical bullshit.

    you can PAY whatever is asked for the licensing to access it, or go without

    And what of the people who pay for it? Why canít they buy a DVD, then rip the DVD to transfer the movie to another media player?

    Because The DMCA makes it an illegal act to crack DRM (or distribute the tools to do so), and 99.999999999% of all DVDs and Blu-rays have some form of DRM attached to them.

    Yes, people do it anyway, but that doesnít make the actual law on the books calling everyone who does it a criminal any less nonsensical in the face of technology.

    (Never mind the fact that the movie companies really want you to pay for movies twice over if you want to legally purchase a DVD, then legally download a digital version of the film.)

    I made it from scratch, it's MINE. Everyone else keep their paws off.

    Öwell, shit, I just set myself up for a lawsuit by quoting your comment in mine. Do you want to hire Charles Carreon or Prenda? Iíll take whichever one you donít want, because either way, thingsíll end up entertaining.

    The legal way may seem harsh to you "gimme, gimme" kids who think you should be paid just for enjoying content, but the deal works for adults.

    Most of us adults here (Iím over thirty by the by) agree that creators should receive recompense for their work, and that people trying to unfairly screw over creators (including ReDigi and its ridiculous attempts to create a Ďused computer fileí market) deserve nothing less than criticism and shame.

    We just donít think the law has to protect creators by making it impossible for consumers to make full use of the technology available to the world to enjoy their legally-purchased content however they wish.

    We also donít think that the major media conglomerates have the best interests of the people ó creators and consumers alike ó when they shape copyright law. What would you say to an author if he wants to offer an audiobook version of their eBook, but the law prevents him from offering it on any of the major eBook platforms? What would ask a filmmaker to do if she wants people to distribute her film around the world in any way possible, but the only way to pull off such distribution would make the people who do so criminals? (And what if that group of people included the filmmaker herself?)

    When you jump all over Mike and the Techcanics for saying Ďcopyright is evil and should be abolishedí, you take a hardline extremist stance without considering all the shades of gray in the arguments both for and against copyright. For you, copyright means protecting copyright holders at the expense of everyone elseís rights, and you believe Mike and his posse want to abolish copyright completely and make culture a free-for-all (no joke intended) where anyone can lay claim to any work and no one can make money.

    Have you ever, even once, considered that copyright doesnít always protect creators and can turn even you into a criminal under the right circumstances?

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: OP is an idiot

    "Used" MP3s don't refer at all to the data - they refer to *the right to use the data*, the license to the recording.

    Rikuo says it all, but this one part irks me to no end. Copyright doesn't protect the right to use something, but the right to copy something.

    In a traditional sense, with books, music, etc., copyright wasn't used to prevent someone from accessing a work, but to prevent them from copying that work. Sure, with music, copyright prevented someone from taking the music and reproducing it with an instrument, but it didn't prevent them from reading the music, or listening to the music.

    It is only recently that copyright maximalists have increased the copyright law to include usage of a work, but that is their ultimate goal, isn't it, to become a tax agent, collecting money for existing without providing any sort of benefit to society.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    Great response. To bad Blue never responds back to these types of posts. I would like to hear his counter point.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re:

    They're not stupid, but get paid handsomely to pretend to be. And they want us to do it for free! What a ripoff.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Copyright has been at War with us for Centuries now.Every time it rears its ugly head we as people lose more and the Corporations gain more.Over and over they whittle away at our Rights.

    I am a Proud Dinosaur !
    I am a dinosaur as far as the Digital File Buying goes.Everything I own is physical and I do own my possessions.My Library of Rarities alone is Appraised at $16500 USD.I also own a lot of music and various DVD's.
    I bought a ton of Used things off 2ND Hand Stores and Online Sources.

    I can read my books anywhere.I can put my film collection and music on any device.I own my things.I can Resell them or throw them in the trash or keep them.

    NOTE:
    I became a punk rocker in 1976 because of my genuine hate of the Big Content Industries.
    I created my old 70's band to be Anti-Music Music.

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    I don't think content creators understand the level of hatred they've built up over the years. We didn't have the power to fight back before, so we just took it and overpaid for everything. Now, they are scared sh!tless and hiding behinds dad's pant leg.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Re: +1

    Anything less than making knowledge and culture available at minimal cost is the west holding back the development of the third world. Current IP laws are imperialism at its worst.

     

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    Jay (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:01pm

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

    Hmmm... It's odd... I've been studying alternative economics to Keynesian and I believe that looking at copyright in a different perspective might help. The problem is how copyright merges a number of issues into this concept of holding back a market in order to attain more profit.

    If you literally run through what copyright does, it's obvious that creating a monopoly doesn't cause more work to be produced. When we look at monopolies, we are seeing an inefficient market at play. So why tolerate inefficiency when we know it makes the public worse off?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    Look, it's the guy who's been stuck in a cave since 1998.

     

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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your discussion with Akiri re 'attribution' brings to mind a concept perhaps closer to what you may be thinking about - provenance - wherein
    "[t]he primary purpose of tracing the provenance of an object or entity is normally to provide contextual and circumstantial evidence for its original production or discovery..."
    which if you think for a moment sounds like the idealized version of metadata. Technology has caused the current churn in how copyright is viewed; perhaps someday descendants of current search/match algorithms will provide an automated provenance for any work appearing online: "This is the work of so-and-so; the style is in the school of such-and-such; the classical themes of thus-and thus are mirrored in the work." and so on.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    It's not a hard concept.

    MMO's have been keeping this stuff straight for at least a decade or so. You can't copy your sword. You can't steal someone else's sword. You can't sell illegal versions of your sword. But it's your sword. You can use it, break it, sell it, and lend it all you want.

    It's still imaginary, but it's also still property. And yes, there are novels in Skyrim you can exchange with others. If there isn't music or videos you can sell or exchange or give out in a legal fashion on online games, the companies are working on it.

    I'm on linkedin a lot and I see stupidity about copyright EVERYWHERE (only one thread about selling e-books isn't moderated by someone who doesn't think like Scott Turrow). Isn't it ironic that communities where you bash something's skull in and take it's insides are better about copyright than where copyright should be straightened out in the first place?

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    There is a bit of a key difference there. WIth property in an MMO, the player derives a great deal of the value from the fact that nobody else has it, even though it could technically be replicated infinitely -- the value to the consumer is increased by artificial scarcity

    In the case of music, books, movies, etc., most people want to share them with friends because that makes the experience more enjoyable. They want to expose people they know to things they love. With those things, the value to the consumer is decreased by artificial scarcity.

    It is the same reason that most news struggles behind a paywall, but financial news can do quite well. In most cases, people want to discuss the news with their friends and colleagues, and send links around (so artificial scarcity decreases value). With financial news, the people who want it generally don't want to share it, and find it even more beneficial if fewer people have access to it (so artificial scarcity increases value)

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    That and the fact that MMO doesn't have "analogies", they're simulations of real-world mechanics (items, ownership). It's a game, it's supposed to mimic those things.

    Also, some MMO's allow you to steal someone else's sword. It's not any different than Bilbo stealing Gollum's ring: neither exists (could Tolkien have copied the ring? Yes). It's all make-believe.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:19pm

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    Right. Basically, in all cases, we choose to take a simulation as far as we need for a given purpose.

    In a game, that means including all the fun bits, which includes ownership of fantasy items, while excluding the not-fun bits (the game doesn't stab you when your character gets stabbed)

    In a flight training simulator, it means including as many realistic details as possible while excluding actual danger.

    In a "file system" conceptualizing digital information in a way similar to physical files, it means including all the useful bits (such as grouping items together in named folders) while excluding all the limiting bits (such as there being a harsh physical limit to how many folders you can nest in one another, or it not being easy to instantly duplicate a physical file)

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    The whole idea of giving any exclusivity to speech is wrong on its face because it ignores reality. First off, you can't stop people from violating that exclusivity. Secondly, there are plenty of other viable methods to make money creating content. Lastly, it doesn't help artists prosper. They succeed only when they produce compelling content. No amount of monopoly is going to make it happen. Copyright only blocks competitors. Blocking competition isn't the way to a healthy market.

    Your analogy is flawed. The war on drugs is nothing like war on infringement. Drugs do clear measurable harm and need at least some control to prevent it from doing more. Infringement, on the other hand, does not cause anyone harm and there are ways around the issue. In the absence of copyright, companies will just change their business model to leverage something scarce, rather than forcing artificial scarcity. The idea that copyright will proliferate the creation of new content is also flawed. Content begets more content. It's greater access to content that is going to proliferate more new content. You can't be creative in a vacuum; a culturally diverse mind is a highly creative mind.

     

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    JP Jones (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 2:51pm

    My real issue is that the entire crux of the matter...economic incentives for creators to create is based on a fallacy. The fallacy is that creating media is expensive. We see movies all the time that cost millions to make.

    Why?

    What's so expensive in those movies? Is it the sets? The costumes? The actors? The cameras?

    With computer technology many of these costs can be drastically reduced. Here's the thing; why are sets expensive? Partially because you need to buy rights to the stuff you use on the set. The costumes? Same thing; the material and manufacturing are very cheap. Actors? A large portion of their cost comes from contractual obligations. And camera technology is cheap. Even computer graphics, widely considered to be a huge cost on "big budget" films, are primarily expensive because you need to buy software that's slightly better than freeware for literally thousands of dollars per artist, then pay more for each prefab object you use in that software, then licensing costs for everything you used.

    If you cut out the copyright costs of making a movie you'd find that they take a fraction of the current budget to make. Distribution costs are practically nothing with digital distribution if you remove the licensing costs.

    It's a self-perpetuating cycle that's mostly smoke and mirrors. Intellectual property must be expensive to sell since it's expensive to make and it's expensive to make because of intellectual property costs. And round and round it goes. The scam is in all the people getting paid without actually adding any value to the final product. What function do the lawyers have in a film other than to protect the creator from copyright? What function do the movie studios have other than to distribute the movies based on restrictions created from copyright?

    How can you be surprised they are making up imaginary reasons for their purpose when their purpose itself is imaginary?

     

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    special-interesting (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    The term ďCopyright LobotomyĒ has a realistically vivid depiction of current law. Its intellectually prophetic in that if current trends in copyright law continue our nation will be lobotomized in many ways not to mention technology and innovation.

    A used MP3 is a laughable statement. Its just another new format for culture to develop by sharing it by resale or gift. Due to the nature of copying it can be re-gifted in unlimited ways. Its new every time.

    Copyright was written/developed hundreds of years ago to use the newer printing and distributing methods of the day. Most of the commercial opportunities were based on the fact that nobody could afford a printing press. This is no longer true.

    Everyone that owns a computer with Internet and a printer has the same capacity of a small scale printer of the 1900s. Copying a file such as an MP3 would have been unimaginable magic.

    For culture to develop in the same way we immediately forgot the ice cooled food storage box for the refrigerator we need to allow the same for the new ways we can communicate through innovative formats like MP3's. (or mkv, avi, Ogg, Vorbis, or other)

    The legally preposterous claim of theft when a file is copied can not be sustained if we need our culture of technological advancement to take off and succeed in a world of competitiveness.

    The Record companies, RIAA and other sound based organizations have basically argued that black is white and up is down in an incredibly asinine attempt to continue selling vinyl ice to everyone who has already purchased a refrigerator (computer). Trying to enforce this anti cultural attitude by lobbying (however successfully) for laws must eventually backfire.

    What we need is to tailor copywrong law around our individual technological abilities so that at the very least our kids don't end up in jail or fined lifetime amounts.

    Its our turn to reform black copywrong into a new culturally beneficial system based on copyright that forces authors to produce more works by having workable/reasonable term limits less than the lifetime of the listeners. Who cares about the author when talking about culture, innovation and developing new works based on old (crap) is concerned.

    Reactionary,

    Somewhat in agreement with Akari Mizunashi that the phrase Intellectual Property is wrong on so many levels. The word property is to possessive and suggests ownership over ideas and knowledge which is way so bad. If accepted for normal use it lends to much in favor of entitlement at the cost of culture and society.

    Its probably best to challenge even the usage of it immediately when some copyright maximalist tries to use it in some silly argument in favor of new law. (or whatever is being attempted there seems so much weirdness and incongruence in Hollywood law these days.

    In this article the term was used only in the title ďThe Copyright Lobotomy: How Intellectual Property Makes Us Pretend To Be StupidĒ accompanied with two derogatory words which seems the proper treatment of the term 'intellectual property'.

    In the text it was followed up with two different uses of property both based on the physical sense building an argument that articulated the concept of the phrase 'intellectual property' being used as an analogy itself and how limited and useless it is as an analogy. A good read.

    Sounds like both the challenge (nice to see it put to task just to have the lousy phrase mentioned) and the article are OK. No complaints.

    Now if we could only have such a quick challenge during the promotion of some stupid misguided legislation/law/bill/act that would be real progress.


    Leigh Brandon. ďI would choose abolition over the absolute disaster that is copyright today.Ē

    I so totally agree with this statement. Copymight is so totally corrupted by Hollywood ways of thinking. It may be that we can transform todays copywrong into copyright again but thats a real challenge and would require a lot of rational minds working together. Very hard to do that.

    Things are so bad that copyright monopoly base industries have had a taste of making monopolistic law. That is a very dictatorially (power hype) addictive thing likely to end in a bad way for both consumer and complicit firms. Culture will suffer.

    Its pointless to ague about the right to own and listen to an MP3. One might argue whether the same MP3 is broadcast and heard from a radio is a public performance which is equally ridiculous. (But law says otherwise if certain conditions are met) What was once considered Fair Use Rights is now illegal.

    Things are so bad today that possibly the only way to get the attention of copyright holders it to toss them into the same gutter they are now throwing (us?) their very own fans/customers/users/supporters/etc into. All together now... Heave ho!

    The pay-wall comment for financial news was great insight on the nature of sharing culture.

     

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    tqk (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    Surely the solution is simple, to protect the imaginary rights to imaginary property ...

    I've an easier way for them:

    "Imagine me wanting to buy anything from you under terms like this, because that's as close as you're going to get to a sale. I prefer to do without (boycott) instead.

    Some of my favourite music is forty-one years old, can be found on YouTube, and is still subject to regular DMCA takedowns, regardless. I've legally owned the LP and cassette tape versions (and still use the latter), and the takedowns are just annoying me and hurting you. Have a nice life."

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    The CD is just a token of ownership that's easy for most people to wrap their heads around. The law has evolved that certain standard rights and limitations are placed on that token of ownership. There's no good reason that such rights can't exist without the physical token.

    The physical token is simpler but not really much more finite.

    Physical copies can cost pennies depending on how much effort a publisher wants to put into pressing a particular CD or DVD.

    Although the problem of ownership still exists even in the absence of any sort of exchange mechanism. You still have the problem of verifying your ownership of licenses to works that aren't associated with some physical token.

     

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    Adam Witt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:47pm

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

    Leigh,

    I think we mostly agree, but I don't think copyright can serve a useful purpose that can't be served by different methods with less harm to society.

    Copyright is an option that relies on taking a portion of everyone's rights in their tangible property and giving them to a select few as priviledge's.

    It doesn't benefit society as a whole, but only that small section of society that is gifted with the monopoly because people will create with or without copyright, they always have and will. it is part of human nature.

    Aside from self funding and loans we have options like Kickstarter for funding projects if there is enough interest in them.

    I am sure other variations on the threshold pledge system could be used too, and patronage is still viable as well.

    In reality patronage is still the most used model to date in my opinion, it is just that the sponsors are normally multi-national corporations rather than wealthy and influential people in this day and age.

    so I believe there is no need for copyright to fill and thus no benefit to the public from it.

    From what i can tell wherever copyright has been granted it has always been relentlessly expanded through lobbying by the people who benefit from it using the monopoly rents they obtain from it.

    So no matter how benign it begins I can't see it not ending up where it is today in the longterm.

    Where in my opinion it is probably stifling more art than it is responsible for incentivizing, as well as being used as a tool for censorship and to gain control over more and more of people's tangible property amongst other things

    Just my 2 cents,

    Adam

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:53pm

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

    Sure, I agree with most of that. My point is just that "copyright" can mean a lot of things and I don't think it's time to rule it out entirely.

    In a theoretical setting, sure. If I were to try to design a society from the ground up, copyright would not be a part of it. But if we're talking practically, about real -- if drastic -- reform in the real world, then I think some form of copyright (one that may bear almost no similarities to the current regime) may still have some life in it as a useful tool, though it has to be massively reduced from where it's at now. It may still be the best way to protect creators from genuine unfair harm, at least during the transition to something better.

    If the world can actually figure out a way to get rid of copyright altogether, that would be amazing -- but even though this post is somewhat philosophical, I wanted to keep a dose of practicality in there, and the practical fact is that copyright is not going to disappear. And I think it's possible to employ its underlying principle much more responsibly than we are doing today, in a way that has a net benefit or at least a less dismal net loss — and maybe that's not the endgame, but it would still be a good thing.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    Copyright could help here by setting clear guidelines of how cinemas and other activities with commercial intent that absolutely need existing IP as it is to survive and how much will be owed to the original artists.

    Why do movie theaters need copyright to survive? Are you assuming that if it were legal to download movies for free on release day (and not just possible as it is now) that people would stop going to theaters?

     

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    Adam Witt (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    Those highly limited advantages won't remain so for long, whoever benefits from them will want to strengthen and extend them. They will have the resources to do so because of the benefits they are given

     

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    Adam Witt (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:54pm

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

    Sorry for my response down further, i didn't think this post actually made it through. i agree with you on the practicality, i don't see copyright going anywhere anytime soon and it would definately better to see it reformed than continue in its current state.

     

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    Aita, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:20pm

    Minor correction?

    Moving isn't always copying and then deleting, some OSes merely change the pointers or location flags. I know what was meant, but still...

    Amazingly well written, and a fantastic piece I'll be using in future arguments.

     

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    JP Jones (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:28pm

    Re:

    Copyright could help here by setting clear guidelines of how cinemas and other activities with commercial intent that absolutely need existing IP as it is to survive and how much will be owed to the original artists.

    The inherent flaw with this is that business that requires legislation to exist probably shouldn't exist. If there is a demand for a business it will exist. If there isn't a demand, then what do we actually lose by letting it die? We've already established the consumers don't want it!

    Cinemas would be fine without IP. In fact I'd say they'd be better off. Why? Because they could charge less than $5 a movie since all they'd have to do is buy the movie once and not have to pay the original creator for each viewing. Now you're giving people a real *choice*...do I pay a couple of bucks to watch the movie on a huge screen with the latest sound, or watch a movie out of my house with my girlfriend so my parents aren't around to interrupt, or do I watch it at home? This is a harder decision when it's $10+ a movie. Or better yet; make a "subscription" theater where you pay $30 a month for a pass to the theater. Why not? If someone watches the film 50 times it doesn't cost you any more, and people are more likely to go if they are paying whether they go or not!

    I could go on but the point is that the limitations of what will and won't exist if IP laws died are entirely based on the way they currently work. We've built our own limitations into reality and then have been spending millions of dollars trying to force everyone to conform to that reality.

    And then we scratch our heads and wonder why the economy is bad. Doh.

     

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    Dave Xanatos, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    The CD is just a token of ownership that's easy for most people to wrap their heads around.

    Wow. You are exactly backwards. The CD is a physical object. You can claim ownership of it. You can pick it up. Lend it out. Break it. Someone tries to take it from you, you can defend it. You OWN it.

    An MP3 file is a token. It represents something. You can make thousands of identical files in seconds. These "copies" will be identical and consume virtually no matter or resources. You cannot lend it. You cannot own it. You cannot pick it up or defend it. The data it represents can be wiped from existence, utterly, with nothing left over to show for it.

    This is the difference between something real and something imaginary.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Minor correction?

    Moving isn't always copying and then deleting, some OSes merely change the pointers or location flags.

    That's true -- in which case it's a different kind of analogy. It crossed my mind but I felt like the point as clear without needing to get overly technical :)

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:35pm

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

    "It may still be the best way to protect creators from genuine unfair harm"

    There, that's the flaw in your reasoning, you think that creators must be protected from harm. What harm? The only harm I see is self inflicted by using business models that are incompatible with reality. That's the gross error of the content industry, they think they can sell content like a product. They try to get people to believe it's a discreet unit of property that is exclusive to the author, utterly unique and disconnected from other expressions. It's not. Content, of all kinds, is speech. Every image, text, sound recording, game, or moving picture is communication of an idea from the author's mind to the audience. But like every idea, it must be transmitted to another mind in order to continue to live and grow.

    The people that truly deserve to be rewarded are those that execute ideas into expressions that transmit those ideas to the rest of us. It's the action of building an expression that is what is valuable. An idea without execution is worthless, ideas are myriad. The labor people put into generating ideas into expressions that touch minds and change them is what we must value, what we must reward. The ideas belong to everyone, they are not a piece of property to be owned. They came from the multitudes of generations before us, they are our common heritage and they belong to no single person. Thus, it is beyond illogical to reward those that put in the work to create with the exclusive ownership, temporary or not, of that which is our common wealth. It is wrong to take what belongs to the many and grant it to the few all in the daft misconception that it will be of a net benefit to the culture they are robbing.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:11pm

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

    I think that all is true in theory, but I think you are ignoring practicalities of the world we live in.

    If copyright were to disappear tomorrow, a lot of artists would be taken advantage of.

    Say an author, one who gives all his work away for free and allows others to redistribute his work, has lots of his fans asking to buy collectors editions of his books as gifts -- so he calls up some printers, or plans to start a Kickstarter. What is stopping the printers from all simply refusing to work with him, taking his work, printing exactly what he wanted themselves, and selling it at a lower price than he could ever manage?

    What if a band that plans to release a new album freely to everyone under a PD license only wants to sell one thing: the true scarcity of first release. Some blog will get to be the first to post the album, after which anyone can repost it anywhere. That's a valuable thing. But how could they shop it out to blogs if any of those blogs could just say screw 'em and go ahead and post it?

    Obviously such a hypotheticals do not warrant the system of total control that we have today -- in fact, many of these situations could probably be handled using contracts and unfair competition laws. However, it is such hypotheticals that lead me to say there may be a role for some form of copyright in a functioning system -- not as a means of total control, but as a means of giving creators some marketplace footing in a world that is currently dominated by large, moneyed publishers.

    As I noted before, if we were talking about building a society from the ground up, I wouldn't necessarily make this same argument. But in the world as it is, I feel that not only is improving copyright more realistic than abolishing it, it's actually a necessary step along the way.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:23pm

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

    "Say an author, one who gives all his work away for free and allows others to redistribute his work, has lots of his fans asking to buy collectors editions of his books as gifts -- so he calls up some printers, or plans to start a Kickstarter. What is stopping the printers from all simply refusing to work with him, taking his work, printing exactly what he wanted themselves, and selling it at a lower price than he could ever manage?"

    There it is, you're going right back into thinking of art as a product. You have to let go of that if you're ever to find your way past the conflict between your business model and infringement.

    The answer to your hypothetical question is that you don't do that. The value has already been given away in the initial creation of the works by giving them out to the public domain. What the artist should have done is start a Kickstarter to fund that work and offer a hand-signed printed copy as a tier reward and release the work in a digital format. That would be the smarter avenue and I just came up with that off the top of my head.

    "What if a band that plans to release a new album freely to everyone under a PD license only wants to sell one thing: the true scarcity of first release. Some blog will get to be the first to post the album, after which anyone can repost it anywhere. That's a valuable thing. But how could they shop it out to blogs if any of those blogs could just say screw 'em and go ahead and post it?"

    That's not a true scarcity. The true scarcity is the time and labor it took to create it. This is another example of misapplication of business models.

    "Obviously such a hypotheticals do not warrant the system of total control that we have today -- in fact, many of these situations could probably be handled using contracts and unfair competition laws. However, it is such hypotheticals that lead me to say there may be a role for some form of copyright in a functioning system -- not as a means of total control, but as a means of giving creators some marketplace footing in a world that is currently dominated by large, moneyed publishers."

    If you plan your business model around providing the service of creating content instead of around the idea that you're providing a product, you'll have no need for such laws. Nobody can make you work without pay and no one can take from you the work that you haven't done. So it remains to be seen why copyright would enter into this in the slightest degree.

    "As I noted before, if we were talking about building a society from the ground up, I wouldn't necessarily make this same argument. But in the world as it is, I feel that not only is improving copyright more realistic than abolishing it, it's actually a necessary step along the way."

    If you have to build a society from the ground up to make your ideas work, then your ideas are either flawed or you haven't thoroughly examined the alternatives. The problem lies in that you haven't realized what business you are actually in. It's not a product industry, it's a service industry. You have to leverage your ability and willingness to create content, not the control of access to it. And that's the folly of the content industry, as I have said before. Controlling access to something that is easily accessible through current technical means is doomed to failure as it has been demonstrated many times. If you build a business model around a failed concept like that, you'll find yourself spending most of your time trying to plug leaks in a ship with more holes than Swiss cheese. I'd put better odds on the Titanic than I would copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:31pm

    Re:

    wha, wha, wha...

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:13pm

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

    Greevar, I feel you are being ridiculously absolutist about this.

    I agree with all your points about copyright and the adaptation of business models. But if you are utterly refusing to entertain any notion of copyright other than total abolition, then you are not holding this conversation in the real world.

    The only statement I have made here is that I am not prepared to completely rule out some form of creative control as a potentially useful mechanism, moving forward, in this world, while trying to curb the bigger problems created by copyright today. That should not be a controversial statement, and your insistence on making it so strikes me as overly stubborn.

    I agree with your position philosophically, but it's you who I'm accusing of requiring a theoretical society built from the ground up to make your ideas work. In today's world, the real world, even massive reform is still going to involve some form of copyright for a long time to come, even if one day we manage to do away with it altogether. Outright refusing to entertain any notion of copyright is not very productive.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 12:30am

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

    Greevar has opted for the Red Pill, rather than the chemical lobotomy of a Blue Pill.

    You obviously realise something doesn't quite add up with respect to copyright, but you still have a lot of indoctrination to divest yourself of.

    Fundamentally you have a choice of believing that people should not enjoy their cultural liberty, in order that publishing corporations can enjoy monopolies (and pay artists a pittance), or that both artists and their audiences should enjoy their cultural liberty to share and build upon each others' work, mankind's cultural commonwealth - as we have done from 500,000BC to 1709AD.

    If slavery was abolished, cotton pickers would be left in the gutter to starve. We need some form of slavery to avoid a human tragedy on a colossal scale.

    Copyright is just an anachronistic 18th century privilege, no longer effective in protecting a state granted reproduction monopoly. It's now just a sniper rifle used by psychopathic corporations to futilely persuade the plebs not to join the swelling ranks of their pirate fellows.

    You're on the edge, the fence, caught in a quandary between accepting your programming that copyright is good, and your intellect telling you it's a crock'o'shite. If you stay in this situation too long you learn to live with this doublethink and become a ghost trapped in the netherworld "I cannot accept that, contrary to my upbringing and the opinions of those I respect, copyright is not good and necessary to society, but I find this law bizarrely unviable"

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:02am

    Re: Key words minion didn't mention: "someone else's".

    You're too late to derail, pal :D

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you, this sounds on par with what I envision.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:41am

    Re: Re:

    No, I'm assuming that they need the creative output. What I'm proposing here is a way to avoid said cinemas from simply getting a copy of a movie, showing to the public without anything going to the creators. It's still problematic to make this operational because there are other services that may seem like they operate in the same manner (ie: Youtube). I don't have the exact answers.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:51am

    Re: Re:

    I mostly agree with you but let's focus on this:

    The inherent flaw with this is that business that requires legislation to exist probably shouldn't exist. If there is a demand for a business it will exist. If there isn't a demand, then what do we actually lose by letting it die? We've already established the consumers don't want it!

    Here you missed my actual point. I'm not talking about the cinemas but rather the creators. Culture is not a business. And it'll be produced regardless of copyright. However suppose you make a movie and release it. Then Company A gets a copy (which is fairly easy nowadays) and starts selling it without ever contacting you. Then Cinema B buys from company A and starts making money on your stuff without ever contacting you. I"m not saying you are entitled to money every single time they sell the movie or tickets. However there should be a way to ensure some money went to the creator. A one time fee could be a good solution. If cinemas could make some donation based model where people could add extra chips if they like the movie that would go exclusively to the movie crew or something.

    You see where I want to get to? I don't have the answers on how to avoid exploitation of creators without making copyright a stupidity. Baldur suggested an interesting term above: provenance. I think this is the main focus here. If the cinemas need to fully disclose provenance and provide at least some advert to the creators pages (for instance) where people could donate..

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    Ah, I've looked into this a while ago and it's confusing and I've forgotten a lot of it but I believe it actually dates way back to some original German laws. But it only found widespread use in the rest of world after a copyright debate in the 1920s(or thereabouts) in which the people pushing for expansion started using it. From there, as far as I can tell, it's seeped into legal language without actually being independently defined and then into public use. It is one of the most perfect acts of framing in history because it settles a fundamental question of the debate in the language which is now used to have it.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright should not exist.

    Did you also look into the switch in meaning of 'public domain' from 'known/circulated/accessible to the general public', to the once esoteric, legal meaning of 'not protected by copyright'?

    The former meaning is rapidly going the way of the dodo.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revisionism_(negationism)

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What I'm proposing here is a way to avoid said cinemas from simply getting a copy of a movie, showing to the public without anything going to the creators.

    I see, well copyright is only one such mechanism, and not necessarily the best, though it's obviously the one we're stuck with.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:22am

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

    Look, Crosbie, if you're going to tell me that you know me better than I know myself, I'm not going to have a conversation with you.

    I'm afraid it may be you two who are two indoctrinated into your own way of thinking to even listen to what I'm saying.

    Anyway, good luck getting anywhere with these arguments. If I understand you both correctly, there is nothing worth talking about with copyright other than total abolition. It's that, or nada.

    So if that's so, why are you even still here? What is there still to talk about? What could you possibly find interesting on this blog? We are all about approaching this realistically, and looking at the many facets of the copyright question. You're living in a fantasy land.

     

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    The Real Michael, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: OP is an idiot

    "It is only recently that copyright maximalists have increased the copyright law to include usage of a work, but that is their ultimate goal, isn't it, to become a tax agent, collecting money for existing without providing any sort of benefit to society."

    So very true!

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:14am

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

    The only statement I've made is that copyright is incapable of being a benefit and is completely unnecessary in light of other alternatives. Copyright is a method of censorship through property control of speech. No matter how much you limit it, it will still be an imposition on free speech and it won't provide any benefits that can't be had through adaptive business models. So, in light of that, why do you keep clinging to this notion that we shouldn't rule it out? Copyright has no redeeming value aside from a granting power to a privileged minority.

    You keep citing examples where copyright is still necessary and I keep pointing out how they can be solved without copyright, so whom is really being absolutist and stubborn? You're trying to defend an indefensible position.

    My ideas don't need a custom built society, it can happen right now, today, in spite of copyright. All that's needed are people to change their attitudes (and their business models) and realize what this industry really is. Adapting business models away from copyright reliance is what you need to make the abolition of copyright the logical next step. The solution to this all starts with a voluntary decision to change and organizations like Kickstarter are the mechanism for that change. They are an opportunity to succeed without reliance on copyright. It's your novelty to your audience that makes you a success. Monopolies won't help you whether you're great or completely unremarkable.

    I think we've already established that the problem is the business model (at least I have) and copyright only exists to enable that one particular faulty business model. So, it's pragmatic to say that the solution to the problem is to adapt the business model to reality. When you're no longer using a business model that requires copyright to function, you no longer need copyright.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:43am

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

    I have listened to what you've said and I pointed out the flaw in your reasoning, even offering alternative solutions to problems you thought to be wholly dependent on copyright.

    Now you're getting annoyed that we haven't agreed with you and you're playing the "expert" card, accusing us of being ignorant and dogmatic. You have the audacity to tell us we don't know as much as you in order to dismiss our arguments. Bad form.

    You're right, there's nothing to talk about in regards to reducing copyright terms when there are solutions that are workable in complete independence of copyright. We can, however, still talk about business models that would function without the existence of copyright. We can apply adaptive business models right now, independent of copyright.

    Why are we still here? Because not agreeing with your point of view doesn't negate the value in coming here and discussing these issues. Your viewpoint isn't sacrosanct. This site isn't about compromising on, or preserving, copyright. It's about finding a real solution, even if that means abolition. I personally think it's adaptive business models and abolition because I have good reason to think so. Others think differently. But I am willing to defend my viewpoint and if I find fault in yours, I will point it out, as you should mine. If you can't discuss alternative solutions, I think it's you that may be wasting your time here and it's rather petty of you that you imply that we don't belong here because our viewpoints don't align with yours.

     

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  103.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:45am

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

    Strike my second paragraph. I misread the first line of your comment.

     

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  104.  
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    beltorak (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    And copyright violations become "thought trespasses".

    And copyright enforcement becomes "thought control".

    I like where this is going; thanks :)

     

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  105.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "What I'm proposing here is a way to avoid said cinemas from simply getting a copy of a movie, showing to the public without anything going to the creators."

    Unfortunately, due to "Hollywood bookkeeping", little goes to the actual creators, almost all goes just to the studios.

     

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  106.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:00am

    Re: I vote this whole post as insightful

    We can vote insightful. E-mail the link to friends. Post it on your social network of choice. Talk to people, too.

     

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  107.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:27am

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

    You're right, there's nothing to talk about in regards to reducing copyright terms when there are solutions that are workable in complete independence of copyright.

    That really sums it all up there. I strongly disagree with that sentiment: there's plenty to talk about.

    Your only objection seems to be that I will talk about things other than just abolishing copyright. Well yeah, I do find that annoying.

    This site isn't about compromising on, or preserving, copyright. It's about finding a real solution, even if that means abolition.

    Again, disagree. Yes, part of it is about finding a real long-term solution -- another part of it is about compromising and working within the system that we're stuck with to reduce the damage being done every day. Again, if you disagree, fine -- but I still say that is refusing to live in reality.

    If you can't discuss alternative solutions, I think it's you that may be wasting your time here and it's rather petty of you that you imply that we don't belong here because our viewpoints don't align with yours.

    I am trying to discuss alternative solutions. You are only interested in discussing one alternative solution -- abolishing copyright. I'm not saying you don't belong -- I'm saying I'm genuinely baffled by your response. It's not as if this is the first, or the tenth, or even the hundredth time that Techdirt has opposed copyright abolition -- and very, very few of our posts pitch abolition as an immediate solution. And yet on this thread, you are acting like I'm a deluded idiot for considering anything other than abolition. Why? Doesn't make any sense to me.

     

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  108.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:33am

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

    You keep citing examples where copyright is still necessary

    No. I am not saying those are examples where copyright is necessary. I am saying those are examples of where copyright may be the best workable solution, at least in the short term.

    Copyright is huge and far-reaching. Abolition would cause chaos. Would that chaos eventually shake itself out into something better than we have now? Yes, probably. But in the mean time it would do all sorts of damage, some we might perceive as "deserved" and a lot we might not, and none of it ideal compared to a more thoughtful transition.

    I think it's arrogant to claim that, because there are some fundamental problems with the principles copyright, abolition is the only solution worth considering, regardless of what the immediate practical implications are, and regardless of the fact that abolition is not a realistic near-term goal.

    From your point of view, wouldn't the vast majority of people who participated in the SOPA protests be wrong, too? Many of them were not in favour of abolition -- merely opposed to expansion. Was successfully protesting SOPA a waste of time that should have been spent fruitlessly campaigning for abolition?

     

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  109.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:35am

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

    Yes, i most certainly did not intend it the way i'm guessing you read it first time around :)

     

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  110.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:38am

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

    (interesting sidenote: on another thread about this post elsewhere, I am being accused of the exact opposite -- wholesale opposing copyright without bothering to consider the details or practicalities. It seems you can't win.)

     

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  111.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:59am

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

    That's just a paraphrase of what he said...

     

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  112.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:59am

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

    "Your only objection seems to be that I will talk about things other than just abolishing copyright. Well yeah, I do find that annoying."

    You know what? I don't really care if copyright gets abolished so long as people realize it's not helping and just establish business models that are independent from copyright. That's what I'm really on about. Abolition would just be a kick in the pants for the content industry to get busy on finding a better model instead of relying on it as a crutch.

    "Again, disagree. Yes, part of it is about finding a real long-term solution -- another part of it is about compromising and working within the system that we're stuck with to reduce the damage being done every day. Again, if you disagree, fine -- but I still say that is refusing to live in reality."

    Again, I think we can flat out ignore copyright as a way to change things, if people just refuse to rely on it. Real solutions don't care if copyright exists or not.

    "I am trying to discuss alternative solutions. You are only interested in discussing one alternative solution -- abolishing copyright. I'm not saying you don't belong -- I'm saying I'm genuinely baffled by your response. It's not as if this is the first, or the tenth, or even the hundredth time that Techdirt has opposed copyright abolition -- and very, very few of our posts pitch abolition as an immediate solution. And yet on this thread, you are acting like I'm a deluded idiot for considering anything other than abolition. Why? Doesn't make any sense to me."

    You're trying to discuss alternatives, as long as they aren't about copyright abolition. I'm saying copyright isn't part of the solution, but only so long as people actually use it. If they don't use it, then it has no negative effect on culture, but it's application does. That's what I'm against. I'd like it if nobody could have a monopoly on speech for any amount of time. Abolition would be the fastest path to that, but voluntary refusal to use copyright would be just fine too.

    Alright, I have copyright reform for you to consider. "To promote the progress of the arts and sciences, congress shall make no law that shall abridge the people's right to share and distribute culture and knowledge freely." That's my copyright reform.

     

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  113.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:18am

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

    "No. I am not saying those are examples where copyright is necessary. I am saying those are examples of where copyright may be the best workable solution, at least in the short term."

    And I suggested a solution that has no reliance on copyright at all, demonstrating that copyright wasn't really a workable solution, only a marginal effort.

    "Copyright is huge and far-reaching. Abolition would cause chaos. Would that chaos eventually shake itself out into something better than we have now? Yes, probably. But in the mean time it would do all sorts of damage, some we might perceive as "deserved" and a lot we might not, and none of it ideal compared to a more thoughtful transition."

    Sometimes, when the kids can't stop fighting over a toy, it's best to just take the toy away. They might throw a tantrum over it, but they'll get over it eventually.

    "I think it's arrogant to claim that, because there are some fundamental problems with the principles copyright, abolition is the only solution worth considering, regardless of what the immediate practical implications are, and regardless of the fact that abolition is not a realistic near-term goal."

    ďYou don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you're making progress..."

    The same goes for copyright. It's not progress if copyright is still being used to censoring people.

    "From your point of view, wouldn't the vast majority of people who participated in the SOPA protests be wrong, too? Many of them were not in favour of abolition -- merely opposed to expansion. Was successfully protesting SOPA a waste of time that should have been spent fruitlessly campaigning for abolition?"

    No, opposing greater censorship is always a good strategy. I'm not saying that doing nothing other abolition is wrong, I'm saying it's wrong to pretend the mere reduction is not part of the solution. We should definitely oppose expansion, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking that there's any form of copyright that's a "solution." As long as copyright is allowing censorship through exclusive rights to speech, it's a problem.

    Think about it. All content it speech. So when you apply copyright to that, you're saying "I have the right to speak on this subject, but you don't." You silence people from expressing themselves in certain ways. That's a huge problem and it's the core function of copyright. I don't want to live in a society where some people can say things that I can't. On the other hand, if nobody utilizes that right, it's just as good, but the potential for censorship is still present.

     

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  114.  
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    JP Jones (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ninja, creators would get reimbursed the way they've always been reimbursed...patronage. Things like Kickstarter keep being called "revolutionary" and "new" but really aren't. They're just a new form of patronage which we've had for thousands of years. The Italians paid Michelangelo to paint and sculpt based on something that did not yet exist, but which they believed he could create. The Sistine Chapel's artwork was Kickstarted by Pope Julius II. Crowdfunding is simply the "democratic" version of it.

    If the creator gets paid by the people to make something, then releases it to the internet for free, they still get paid. If it's popular then their next product will get more funding. If Kickstarter is any indication, it will be way overfunded.

    Computer games are a great example...how many people are willing to preorder games? They don't know if it's going to be good. They can pirate it probably less than a week after it's released. Yet preorder sales for popular publishers and games are always high.

    By the entertainment industry logic, it's only the threat of copyright that causes people to pay...but this couldn't be further from the truth. People are scared of copyright litigation like they're scared of car crashes. Sure, it could happen. But fear of car crashes doesn't stop a whole lot of people from driving. The reason people pay for content is because they want more content. You pay for stuff you want. The main reason for "piracy" is that the law prevents people from paying for what they want, mainly, content they can use as they please. So they get it anyway. This is not rocket science or advanced economics.

    People don't need copyright to create. People don't need threat of copyright to pay others to create. We've never needed it. The only people who need it are those who have centered their business around abusing it.

    Why do we need these people again?

     

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  115.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 12:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    JP Jones, as another Red Pill taker, perhaps you have an insight as to why people, who clearly recognise copyright makes no sense, still cling to the belief that it remains somehow necessary?

    It's like a child who recognises that stabilisers can't be necessary for cycling, indeed, would interfere with it, still cannot believe they will remain upright if stabilisers are removed from their own bicycle.

    Perhaps it's more like a cigarette addict, who, on an intellectual level accepts the damage and impairment smoking causes, nevertheless on an emotional level insists that they cannot function properly without them (despite so many people clearly doing so).

    So, when people seem to be saying "OK guys, this crutch obviously makes no sense, but there has to be some way to improve it" you wonder whether they're asking for assistance in giving it up, or assistance in finding an excuse to continue with it.

    Understanding why copyright is unethical, unviable, unenforceable, unnecessary, unjust, uneconomic, etc. is a cinch compared to understanding why people find any extent of such understanding still doesn't warrant copyright's abolition - as if it would be some kind of apostasy.

     

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  116.  
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    nasch (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    JP Jones, as another Red Pill taker, perhaps you have an insight as to why people, who clearly recognise copyright makes no sense, still cling to the belief that it remains somehow necessary?

    I think most people recognize that abolishing copyright in the US is politically impossible in the short and medium term.

     

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  117.  
    identicon
    Paul E. Merrell, J.D., Apr 26th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Purpose of Copyright, etc.

    OP: Originally, copyright was just that: a choice by society to employ the analogies of ownership and property in limited, specially-tailored ways in order to achieve a desired result ó a flourishing intellectual and artistic economy.

    That is incorrect as a historical matter. The original purpose of the copyright under English law was to grant to a particular printer a monopoly on the copying and distribution of a given work. The royal favor was commonly granted to publish a foreign author's work without recompense to the author.

    On the right being a legal fiction and turtling all the way down, yes. Even Government and Law are pure mental constructs, having existence only in the human mind. I never kissed one, never changed one's diaper, never gave on a hug. They do not exist.

    Too often, I get a chortle when I see a representative of a corporation like Microsoft advocating free market principles for a copyrighted or patented work. That's because corporations, like copyrights and patents, are market artificialities created by government. None of them have any physical existence, not government, not law, not corporations, not patents, and not copyrights. All are legal fictions whose raison d'Ítre is to interfere with freedom and free market principles.

     

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  118.  
    identicon
    Uatu, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Your right it would be great for movie theaters, they get a copy of the movie and can show it as many times and on as many screens (pr even in the case of chain theaters in as many buildings) as they want with out having to pay the creator of the movie anything for it. I would love to be able to go to the movies with out having to pay a lot. If these money grubbing film makers want to make money they should get real jobs.

     

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  119.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 12:26am

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

    Greevar stated "If you plan your business model around providing the service of creating content instead of around the idea that you're providing a product, you'll have no need for such laws. Nobody can make you work without pay and no one can take from you the work that you haven't done.." Which is the best argument against creating I have heard in a long while.

    I can only assume that the business model you are proposing is one where someone creates something, for the joy of creating it, because they want it to exist or what ever reason they felt they should create this work; then returns to their day job hoping that a patron of some sort will see it and pay them to create an original work. While this might be a good way to get a job but it is hardly a business model.

    With no sort of protection what is to prevent me from taking a song written by someone and using it in a car commercial, I don't have to pay the creator for it because as you state "no one can take work that isn't done" and thus I CAN take work that is done and use it for my own ends. Now I could pay him to write something original or I could eliminate that overhead costmby just using what has been created, and hypothetically is continuing to be created. Lets take this hypothetical in a slightly different direction: let's say I use that song in a commercial advertisement for something heinous, and since I didn't have to pay for it I can afford to air it more frequently, and in different markets so much so that whenever someone hears the song they think of the heinous product that was advertised so much so to cause the assumption that the songs creator must be in favor of the product, and from there any chance the songs creator had at getting paid for work is utterly poisoned. With no sort of protection he can't tell me what I can or can't do with his song. Sure he has the freedom to state that he had nothing to do with the advertisement, but if my marketing and distribution team is better then his then his statements will fall on deaf ears.

    I'm not saying that there aren't gaping flaws in current copyright laws but the argument for its complete elimination is arguing against creator's right's and wrapping it all in "liberty" and "freedom of speech" is an oversimplification of the real world. I also think that services such as kick starter or other croudsourcing are fantastic, however, the truly successful ones are little more then preorders. hailing them as " the democratization of creation" is exceptionally over dramatic; and to base a business model on just this platform is naive.

    Many are calling for patrons to pay artists to create, which aside from giving excessive power to a patron class, ignores the simple fact that most patrons or clients or employers for that matter want a certain return on investment, and this is one of the places were intellectual property laws do have value. If I were to pay for something to be created, then I want to reap the benefits of its creation, not to pay for its creation only to have someone else utilize it. There is even a chance that I am counting on the benefits to pay for its creation (but then again, while you can't be made to work for no pay you certainly can be tricked into it).

    If business models are developed solely based on services the results of which go straight into the public domain then at a certain level what is being created is only being done only for the betterment of society and few business models can exist with that kind of altruism assumed. It would be wonderful if all art, design, music film or any media were created with the purpose of enriching society, but that isn't the world we live in.

     

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  120.  
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    Elwood Diverse (profile), May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Patent Lobotomy

    Copyright makes sense to me. Since nobody else is ever likely to make another work of art, music, prose, or program that is identical to mine, giving me an exclusive but limited right to monetize it does not severely restrict others' right to do the same with their expression of their ideas, even if extremely similar to mine own. I do think copyrights extend to too long a length of time, though.
    A patent is a different creature, because the owner believes he owns a concept, not it's expression, and I know from experience that ideas are seldom original, often occur simultaneously, are often poorly documented and definitely do inhibit others' creativity and ability to do the same with similar ideas.
    So copyrights don't seem to harm society or culture, while allowing the creator the ability to make some money, with no downside to quantity. Patents, when used a lot, inhibit new creations by freezing development until patents run out. I think progress is limited by the excessive numbers of patents, not enhanced. Perhaps they should be limited to the best 100 ideas each year or some such. But giving exclusive monopolies for many years on ideas of marginal value is not the way to go, I think.

     

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  121.  
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    Dan Meadows, May 7th, 2013 @ 5:29am

    infinite perfection

    One little quibble, MP3s are not infinitely perfect through copies. They do degrade and sound quality suffers. Many serious music fans use lossless files like flac to copy and store music data, which by its very name, verifies that there is a degradation of data and quality as MP3s are copied. The notion of infinitely perfect digital versions no matter how many times they're reproduced is a mythical idea itself not supported by reality.

     

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  122.  
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    nasch (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 6:30am

    Re: infinite perfection

    One little quibble, MP3s are not infinitely perfect through copies.

    That's incorrect. MP3 is a lossy compression algorithm, so the MP3 will not be a perfect copy of the original. However, you can copy that MP3 as many times as you want without losing anything further. Each subsequent copy will be identical to the first MP3.

    Many serious music fans use lossless files like flac to copy and store music data, which by its very name, verifies that there is a degradation of data and quality as MP3s are copied.

    Lossless means exactly what it says - no loss. The copy contains all the information in the original. Your sentence starts out using flac as an example and then suddenly switches to MP3 so I'm not entirely sure what you're saying.

    The notion of infinitely perfect digital versions no matter how many times they're reproduced is a mythical idea itself not supported by reality.

    No, it's quite real. Do you think if you copied a Word file, and then copied the copy, and so on, it would eventually "degrade" until it couldn't be opened any more? No, each copy is an exact and perfect copy of the original. The same is true of any type of file (unless the file gets corrupted, in which case it won't be slightly subtly different, it will be completely borked).

     

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  123.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 7:03am

    Re: infinite perfection

    Nasch beat me to it, but it's worth rephrasing.

    You seem confused about the difference between "lossless vs. lossy compression" (whether or not the compression causes a loss of the fidelity of the original) and degradation of quality through subsequently copied generations.

    The former is merely a consideration over which format to use for storage. MP3s are smaller and supported by more devices, but the size is partially achieved by reducing the frequency range of the sound. Most people either don't notice or don't care about this reduction. Those who do notice or care have the option of storing in FLAC, which is uncompressed, and thus far larger in size.

    But, this is only a consideration when you make the first copy. Every single copy following that is an identical copy of that file. This is one of the major bonuses that digital content has over analogue copies - tapes will degrade massively through each generation. Digital files don't. No matter how many generations down the line you listen, the file will always be identical (barring random corruption from software, network or disk errors).

     

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  124.  
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    nasch (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: infinite perfection

    Those who do notice or care have the option of storing in FLAC, which is uncompressed, and thus far larger in size.

    FLAC is compressed, just in a lossless fashion.

     

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  125.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: infinite perfection

    Sigh... I knew that of course... Replace "uncompressed" with "losslessly compressed"

    Anyway, to Dan - this doesn't change the overall point. Whether the file is compressed in a lossy codec or a lossless codec, the digital file that results does not degrade with further copies, no matter which codec was initially chosen. (Unless DRM/watermarking needs bypassing along the way, but that's a separate issue).

     

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  126.  
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    Ophelia Millais (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    This pretending-to-be-stupid applies just as well to the farces of streaming, DRM, and copy protection.

    We are expected, by the copyright industry and its enablers like Congress, Spotify, Google, etc.; to pretend that the data flowing through devices we own is not ours to do with as we please; to pretend that we can't decrypt, unwrap, demux, save to disk, or otherwise recontextualize the content. We are expected to pretend we are so stupid, we can only handle being told where to enter our credit card numbers and personal info, and where to click to access the music or movie or e-book. We are told to pretend that any technology the content industry doesn't want us to have, doesn't, shouldn't, and mustn't exist, and that sharing such technology amongst ourselves, just like sharing the content amongst ourselves, is a crime and is wrong. Oh, and we must pretend that only the government and industry-approved devices can break digital locks.

    It's madness, utter madness.

     

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  127.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    Making stupid laws and insisting that people pretend they're not stupid, and observe them as if they are sensible, is corruption. It is not mad to exploit popular respect for the law (and gullibility) to get stinking rich.

    What's mad is recognising how stupid copyright is and still insisting that copyright should continue to exist, that it can somehow be 'repaired' to enable artists to control what people do with their work without being exploited as a monopoly and means of censorship.

     

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