Has The Copyright War Been Won -- And If So, Are We About To Lose It Again?

from the no-time-for-celebration dept

Reading Techdirt, it's all-too-easy to get the impression that copyright is an utter disaster for the public -- with current laws abused by governments, companies and trolls alike, and international agreements like TPP aiming to make the situation worse. But as Andres Guadamuz points out on his Technollama blog, things aren't quite as bleak as they sometimes seem:

we have continued to win battle after battle where it really matters. In the last few years Internet activists looking for more openness and more rational copyright policies have had several important victories:

The defeat of SOPA and PIPA.
The demise of ACTA.
The Marrakesh Treaty.
A growing number of countries have recognised the need to make publicly-funded research available to the public.
Open access is fast becoming an acceptable method of scholarly publication.
A non-negligible number of governments are opening up data to public uses.
Creative Commons is becoming the de facto open content licensing scheme, and has now been adopted by international organisations such as the World Bank, OECD, WIPO and UNESCO.
The copyright industry has had to change business models and enforcement strategies, and it has become easier to obtain content through legitimate means.
But he warns against complacency:
Only a year ago Aaron Swartz was hounded to death by zealous prosecutors fulfilling a copyright maximalist agenda.
The content industry continues to pursue intermediaries by attempting to obtain blocking orders against file-sharing sites in a strategy that has not proven to be effective in the slightest.
Some academic publishers continue to wage a secret war against open access.
Apple continues to operate on a closed garden model where interoperability is a dream.
The TPP is shaping up as a maximalist treaty that could criminalise non-commercial infringement.
The domain name system has become vulnerable to seizures by content owners.
Business models still need to change
However, as he rightly points out, bad as some of these are, they aren't the biggest threats to efforts to introduce some balance to copyright and to opening things up generally. There's another possibility, arguably worse than those listed above, and one that we've only just discovered exists:
With privacy tools compromised, with security protocols riddled with backdoors, with the TOR network left vulnerable, and with reports that the very basic infrastructure of the Web might be subject to indiscriminate surveillance, it would be easy for US legislators to pass a law that would turn all of the security apparatus into a giant copyright enforcement machine.
That's a horribly plausible possibility; after all, time and again the copyright industry has shown itself adept at appropriating the state's legal and enforcement machinery for its own selfish purposes. Although we should rightly celebrate all that has been achieved recently in the field of copyright, as Guadamuz notes, we must also make the danger he warns against yet another reason for dismantling the NSA's total surveillance system.

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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 5:40am

    That's a horribly plausible possibility

    And the MAFIAA's wet dream. They'd also like to have the last word on any new site, technology or whatever that involves delivering content to the people.

    Hopefully they'll die a horrible death before they can do any further damage.

     

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    rw (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Re:

    I'm afraid that "Only the good die young."

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:15am

    Re:

    The mechanisms used in the name of "protecting the children," preventing piracy, and mass surveillance are each a gateway to the other two. Protecting the children is the most palatable to politicians, but once those filters are in place someone will want to add other features such as attempting to block terrorist sites, piracy, defamation of public figures, and political dissent. And the appliances that do the filtering provide a convenient intersection for surveillance.

    Similarly, surveillance implemented to fight terrorism will inevitably expand. First, legitimate political dissent becomes indistinguishable from terrorist threats, at least to the people charged with monitoring terrorists. It is also inevitable that information on non-terrorist crimes gets monitored and passed on to enforcement agencies. Apparently the MPAA is now considered a government enforcement agency, so they are going to get data, too.

     

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    Billy Joel, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re:

    Expect to hear from my lawyers soon.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re:

    If that's the case, then all us dirty, thieving pirates are going to live forever, if the good die young.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    As sheerly practical matter:

    ) You cannot fight entrenched moneyed interests that buy politicians. Neither producers nor politicians actually mind putting in place more DRM and other controls. Fits right with other plans.

    ) You're NOT fighting by stealing their content. For start, it's a pirate plank that "sharing" just increases their revenue, but far more importantly to me, by consuming their content, you are being molded into passive consumer of utter CRAP. Many of you appear quite literally addicted to sports, movies, video games, and every other mindless "entertainment".

    ) And you will NEVER get around "I made it therefore I own it" as common law and personal basis for people wanting copyright enforced, particularly not for the higher investments of either time or money.

    ) You thereby doom yourself to the "100 songs a day" type of world where all content is cheap, nothing excels even for 'splosions. Like Bollywood products, or films in early 20th century, senseless action with no discernible plot.

    Here's the latter point in HUMOROUS piece:

    Things cannot be dumbed down any further, warn experts

    "The result will be a world in which nobody understands anything. Even a film about The Rock driving a jeep into explosions will leave viewers confused and angry at its pretentiousness.

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/arts-entertainment/things-cannot-be-dumbed-down- any-further-warn-experts-2014011582599

    Where arrogance meets ignorance to conspire what they'll do with someone else's $100 million movie.

    03:46:02[d-117-2]

     

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    Mike Taylor (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:51am

    Open Access is winning

    In one ares at least, things are even better than Andres Guadamuz indicates. He writes "Open access is fast becoming an acceptable method of scholarly publication". It's been acceptable for a long time. What's happening now is that non-open access is fast becoming an unacceptable method of scholarly publication. Unacceptable to universities, unacceptable to funding bodies, unacceptable to governments.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 7:55am

    i would suggest that this little piece be read first.

    http://torrentfreak.com/uk-considers-throwing-persistent-internet-pirates-in-jail-140123/

    not only this guy but the likes of Rik Falkvinge too. he is always saying about EU law and how it is illegal to stop someones internet connection, let alone jail them for file sharing.
    why it is that the entertainment industries insist on not doing anything to help themselves as well as customers and compete with illegal sources, i dont know. i haven't read of a single incident where an individual let alone an industry, label or studio, has gone bankrupt because of file sharing, yet there are individuals, not criminals or criminal gangs, who have had everything taken from them for acts of sharing. it's typical bullying practice, i know, but governments are aiding this as much as possible instead of insisting the reverse happens, that the media producers actually compete first and sue afterwards. that would make a huge difference to everyone, but the need for absolute control and the availability of ruining peoples lives is greater! what a pathetic existence these overbearing people must have!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:08am

    out_of_the_blue just can't stand it when due process is enforced.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:10am

    meant to add that it seems as if everyone totally ignores what the EU says anyway and each country, member or not, carries on and does whatever it likes! when Cameron introduced the filtering recently, that left the UK ISPs open to a lawsuit. what should have happened is the EU taking steps to prevent the UK from breaking a law that every other country has to abide by. the same goes for other measures that have happened in Italy and Spain recently. those moves are all because of the entertainment industries on the quest for ruling the internet. i just wonder what sort of complete fuck up they will make of it should they get their way?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:35am

    Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    I made it I own it?
    I put a pirated film on a dvd, I made it I own it. Awesome.
    Not legal or even logical but sure Blue why not.

     

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    scotts13 (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:40am

    Get the government to do it for you!

    I remember some years ago discussing how organized religion, unable to get the general public to follow their rules, always tries to get government to do it for them. It was true with the Blue Laws of my youth, it's true with abortion and Intelligent Design today. As I read about the undue influence of the "content industry" now, one wonders... is Media now God?

     

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    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:43am

    Has The Copyright War Been Won -- And If So, Are We About To Lose It Again?


    I was a bit confused by the title, but then I realised we need to ask ourselves which side can be considered to have won.

    While history seems to be on the side of the maximalists for now, the tide is beginning to turn in our favour. This can only last for as long as we keep the pressure on our representatives, nationally and in the EU, to maintain the momentum. If we stop to rest or take our eyes off the ball, it's over and the maximalists will win.

    TAFTA is the next big fight. Let's get ready for it and don't forget to take part in that consultation to make your reservations known.

     

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    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re: Get the government to do it for you!

    No, ideology is.

    Can you question it? No.
    Do we sacrifice to it and for it? Yes.
    Are we so utterly convinced we are right that we take authoriarian positions over it? Yes.

    That ought to be sufficient to prove my case. Needless to say, I believe that the only way to have a healthy relationship with ideology is to use it more as a guideline than a rule. When it's the rule, it causes more problems than it solves.

     

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    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re: Get the government to do it for you!

    No, ideology is.

    Can you question it? No.
    Do we sacrifice to it and for it? Yes.
    Are we so utterly convinced we are right that we take authoriarian positions over it? Yes.

    That ought to be sufficient to prove my case. Needless to say, I believe that the only way to have a healthy relationship with ideology is to use it more as a guideline than a rule. When it's the rule, it causes more problems than it solves.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:17am

    TOR next to useless these days

    With privacy tools compromised, with security protocols riddled with backdoors, with the TOR network left vulnerable, and with reports that the very basic infrastructure of the Web might be subject to indiscriminate surveillance, it would be easy for US legislators to pass a law that would turn all of the security apparatus into a giant copyright enforcement machine.


    TOR is next to useless these days for another reason: a rapidly swelling movement among website admins to block access (even to just read, without posting anything) via TOR. TOR browsing ran into roadblocks extremely rarely as recently as a month ago, except at the rather ill-mannered monolith Google, but as of this last couple of weeks seemingly every other site throws up a CAPTCHA, block page, or other nasty obstruction if visited via TOR. For a while most of the sites jumping on the anti-TOR bandwagon copied the same generic "suspicious activity" page with a token CAPTCHA (unreadable, so really just a complete block) and a big yellow /!\ symbol, but lately some of them are boldly declaring explicitly that they're blocking you because of your TOR use.

    Given the revelations about the NSA's spying activities, you'd think that website operators would be more sympathetic to people using privacy tools, but I guess they've seen a big post-Snowden uptick in TOR use and are worried about their advertising dollars going down the tubes if they can't track and profile their visitors anymore. Greedy bastards. Of course they claim on all of these block pages that it's because of "abuse", but that doesn't explain blocking mere reading of their pages, which can never be abuse; you need to post something to spam. Or maybe they consider being untrackable by their advertising partners to be "abuse".

    IMO we need a TOR-like system that websites can't easily detect. I don't know how to build such a thing, but ideally you'd look like an ordinary user connecting from a random residential IP. Just not your own, and with cookie munching and other privacy safeguards in place.

    Fact is, it's none of most websites' beeswax where I'm located or what ISP I use. On those rare occasions when it is their business there'll be a form with an input box for shipping address. It's only an accident of how the internet works under the hood that sites can normally determine this information, and you are only providing the IP to the site nominally for the purpose of enabling their servers to route their replies to you, so it is a misuse for them to use it for other purposes, such as behavioral tracking for marketing, or for discriminating against users on the basis of nationality, choice of network provider, or obstruction of advertiser tracking via TOR.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:31am

    and China is condemned for the way it treats people? looks like the UK could easily become worse than there and basically, anywhere else as well! not bad for a democracy to be ordered by a head of government that actually didn't get enough votes to actually be the head of government!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:45am

    Swartz killed himself because of Copyright ?

    "Only a year ago Aaron Swartz was hounded to death by zealous prosecutors fulfilling a copyright maximalist agenda"

    So not it is claimed Swartz was 'HOUNDED TO DEATH' and he killed himself because of copyright?

    HOUNDED ??? and because of COPYRIGHT ?? what are you going to claim next ?

    Swartz was charged for 'breaking and entering', then later charged for "wire-fraud" (2 charges) and 11 counts of "Computer fraud and Abuse Act".

    no copyright charges there I note.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:49am

    Re: Get the government to do it for you!

    Don't get me started on religion... Ireland and Spain are pushing ridiculous anti-abortion legislation. EUs citizen initiative is swimming over with completely worthless pro-lifer attempts to make the commission ban all abortion without recourse. Of course the citizen initiative has become a question of raising about 100.000 to even have a chance of getting the million signatures. Online signatures do not count in it btw.

    I am ashame that these purely religious moral legislations still exist. It is bad enough to see the current form of copyrights, of patents and other ideologies, getting peddled over and over again.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 10:24am

    Re: Swartz killed himself because of Copyright ?

    I'm pretty sure the cause of death on the certificate wasn't "Hounded".

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:05am

    Re: Swartz killed himself because of Copyright ?

    Well, when you look at the details, it was all because he accessed too much data that certain people said he wasn't entitled to. Which is pretty much what copyright is all about.
    Yes, you're right, he wasn't charged with copyright infringement, but the concepts behind what he did and what the people who charged him (and the people secretly backing them) were doing, does have a lot of ties to copyright maximalism.

     

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    squall_seawave (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:20am

    ok in my opinion we are losing the war we must still fight but copyright maximalists are on a winning streak

    you know why i say we are losing the war well:

    as far i can see there is a lockout on culture than sparks from 1940 to today

    the punishments are really disproportionate to the crime

    copyright have ofuscated the terminology so much that piracy is thievery, fair use is a defense instead of a right and a product is a service

    also copyright has made that customers are now consumers and potential infringers

     

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  23.  
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    Ruben, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:31am

    Re: TOR next to useless these days

    Part of tor's goal is to be indistinguishable from normal internet traffic, that is, to not look like tor. I'd imagine that this carries over to the sites and services being used. I'm sure Jake, Roger, and the gang are- and have been- grappling with this issue.

    As for:
    a rapidly swelling movement among website admins to block access (even to just read, without posting anything) via TOR..... and are worried about their advertising dollars going down the tubes if they can't track and profile their visitors anymore.

    Ever heard of Ghostery? It pretty much achieves the same end result as far as the advertisers are concerned, and with a few quite avoidable(Hulu et al) exceptions, works quite well.

    If they're blocking people from their sites, it's their loss. Show me one irreplaceable site that's blocking tor and I'll eat my hat.

     

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:32am

    "we have continued to win battle after battle where it really matters"

    No we haven't. The only battles we've won so far were on the defensive. I suppose those "really matter" a little, but the only real victory is in pushing back.

    When I see new laws coming out reducing copyright duration, rolling back abusive patent laws, and criminalizing the use of DRM instead of protecting it, then I'll believe we're winning. When I see such laws even being introduced and getting out of committee in the first place, I'll believe we're winning. Until then, it's far too early to rest on our laurels.

     

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  25.  
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    Ruben, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Re: Swartz killed himself because of Copyright ?

    It's a good thing judges don't decide cases by looking solely at the docket.

    You'd do well to look a bit into the details of Swartz's case.

     

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    alternatives(), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:38am

    it would be easy for US legislators to pass a law that would turn all of the security apparatus into a giant copyright enforcement machine.

    Wonderful - so long as there is 3rd party oversight and the ability for we the people to get the same level of charges and legal process for the staff of Government along with the children and grandchildren of government paid employees.

    Didn't a Micheal Moore film have a segment of US Military people bragging about the MP3 collection of songs of the division? Them guys with tanks - same laws and rules apply to them...right?

     

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  27.  
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    Karl (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    Well, at least you're starting to actually make actual arguments, rather than just ad hominem attacks and rants against "the rich." I already debunked your previous arguments, so now you're making new ones. Your new arguments are still wrong (mostly), but are worth replying to.

    You cannot fight entrenched moneyed interests that buy politicians. Neither producers nor politicians actually mind putting in place more DRM and other controls. Fits right with other plans.

    If we "cannot fight entrenched moneyed interests that buy politicians," then we cannot fight through legal means, by changing the laws. If we cannot fight through legal means, then make no mistake about it, you are advocating for fighting copyright through illegal means. In your example, means like ignoring the law and breaking DRM.

    You are, in other words, arguing for illegal copyright infringement. If you want to do that, fine; but I'm not going to agree with you, and it makes you an utter and complete hypocrite.

    You're NOT fighting by stealing their content.

    I personally agree. As do groups like the Free Software Foundation, who advocate against software piracy, and advocate the use of open-source software instead. As do entities like Creative Commons, which advocates against piracy, and instead advocates the use of licenses that allow free copying and use.

    Yet I have never, ever, seen you defend organizations like these (or their solutions). Instead, you post your usual bullshit about how doing exactly what these organizations advocate "is NOT sharing, not fair use, nor fair to its creators."

    On the other hand, you are fighting if you consume the content for free (lawfully or not), then find some other way to reimburse the actual creators (and not the copyright holders). This is, in fact, what the vast majority of pirates do.

    by consuming their content, you are being molded into passive consumer of utter CRAP.

    This is, in all likelihood, why sharing can increase sales. If it's media content, it simply increases demand for that content, or content very much like it, and gets the public acclimated to consuming it in their daily lives. That is exactly how radio works.

    Pirated copies also help closed-source software, by preventing users from switching to open-source alternatives. As Bill Gates said: "as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

    Also, if it really is "utter CRAP," then there is no reason to grant it copyright protection. If it does not benefit the public, then it should not have copyright protection.

    I personally do not believe in such judgements - one man's crap is another man's treasure, and it should never be up to the government to decide which is which. But it does seem inconsistent to complain about the "utter CRAP" that is being produced, then to defend that "CRAP" against the very people who treasure it.

    And you will NEVER get around "I made it therefore I own it" as common law

    It is unbelievable that you are still harping on this. I'll spell it out for you in bold.

    Coyright is not, and was never, based on common law. It is, and always was, purely a creation of statute.

    "I made it therefore I own it" is not the reason copyright is granted. What you're describing is the "sweat of the brow" argument, which has been soundly and repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court. Copyright's purpose is to provide the public with works of art, nothing more.

    In fact, copyright does not say "I made it therefore I own it." It says "I made it, but I don't own it, because it's too much like something someone else made." It says "I bought it, but I don't own it, because someone else has rights over my personal property." It is not a property right in anything but a statutory sense; it is, instead, a right in someone else's property.

    particularly not for the higher investments of either time or money.

    As I said to you before, if you advocate rewarding "higher investments of either time or money," you are advocating for big businesses. Those are the only ones who can afford higher investments of time or money. It sure as hell isn't the original authors who do so, at least not with works that have been historically covered by copyright. And it certainly isn't the poor.

    You thereby doom yourself to the "100 songs a day" type of world where all content is cheap, nothing excels even for 'splosions.

    You are saying that no artworks can excel unless there is significant investment involved. That is an incredibly elitist stance to take. You are dismissing art made by the working class, and saying that only art funded by big businesses is valid.

    There is nothing hypocritical about this attitute, if you're an elitist. But it is incredibly hypocritical for someone whose politics seem to be defined solely by a disdain for "the Rich."

    You provide an incredible example even in this very post. First, you post this:

    Things cannot be dumbed down any further, warn experts

    ...Then, your "tagline," the revealing quote that shows where your sympathies lie:

    Where arrogance meets ignorance to conspire what they'll do with someone else's $100 million movie.

    Where, exactly, do you think this "dumbing down" is occurring? Where do you find artworks where "nothing excels even for 'splosions?"

    I can think of no form of art that exemplifies this better than the $100 million movie. In fact, the article that you quoted said as much: it was talking about media produced by the same people that produce those $100 million movies. For example: "Even a film about The Rock driving a jeep into explosions will leave viewers confused and angry at its pretentiousness."

    So, when you are defending those movies, you are defending the dumbing down of the public. And you are defending the dumbing down of the public by big businesses.

    At least if you buy the "dumbing down" argument. Personally, I think those claims are completely overblown (they have been leveled against whatever is currently popular for centuries). But you cannot defend the works produced by big businesses on the one hand, then decry their social effects on the other.

    As always, it shows you to be an utter hypocrite.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    You are, in other words, arguing for illegal copyright infringement.


    I don't think he is at all, actually. My understanding of Blue's position is that he's a fatalist who believes that any change or improvement is impossible, and therefore we should just roll over submit. Resistance is futile. I'm not being snarky at all -- this is a consistent, sometimes overt, sentiment of his.

    I believe he's not arguing in favor of copyright infringement. I believe he's arguing that everyone should accept their fate as serfs and just shut up and obey their masters.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Please... that's crazy.... though if they go after THE UPLOADERS.... then it's legitimate.... however, viewers of material OTHERS uploaded shouldn't face penalties...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or more likely, he just wants to be an asshole.

     

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    Karl (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    I believe he's not arguing in favor of copyright infringement. I believe he's arguing that everyone should accept their fate as serfs and just shut up and obey their masters.

    Actually, he's arguing is that everyone should recognize that they're serfs, scream incoherent rants about "the Rich" - and then accept their fate and obey their masters. It's exactly the same except for the shutting up part.

    It'll be the same serfdom, just noisier.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    Actually, I agree. I declare victory on copyright... and the producers deserve to get paid

     

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    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:01pm

    Saying that we've won the copyright battle is like saying that the caste won the siege because the main gate hasn't yet been breached by the battering ram that is still smashing against it.

     

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    Pragmatic, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 2:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Umm, sure. Declare victory and get out, kids!

    Does that mean we get to call her "Out of the Borg" from now on?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: TOR next to useless these days

    Google reverse image search, full-stop.

     

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    Clownius, Jan 26th, 2014 @ 1:30am

    Re: TOR next to useless these days

    Actually its more usually the same reason open proxies and popular VPN's get blocked.

    Get enough abuse from the TOR network or proxies and you see websites shut TOR access down. That or just use one of the many blocklists around that block all TOR and open proxies.

    I have made a point of not doing it for TOR (and VPNs) but i have had no choice with open proxies. I get so many hack attempts from them its not funny. Every time i remove some of the blocklist i get hammered again....

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Ruben, Jan 26th, 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: TOR next to useless these days

    Tineye.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TOR next to useless these days

    What?

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 9:50pm

    Re:

    Caste = Castle

     

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


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