Considering that there always seem to be arms dealers, no matter what horrors are inflicted, I figure Moxie is pretty much pissing in the wind. It's a damn shame, and I wish it weren't so.
But, if you are a security researcher, and you are selling exploits to governments, don't kid yourself. You are a modern arms dealer, and you are probably going to be getting people killed, very possibly people you would like.
Going off on a bit of a tangent: this is another reason why I get so frustrated with the Linux kernel devs for treating security with such a cavalier attitude, actively going out of their way to hide security problems in the kernel. In the modern world, people's lives depend on the security their systems claim to provide.
I can't help but wonder if someone's deliberately vague commit has ended up causing people to be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed, because the bad guys figured out the security implication, but the good guys didn't.
No, but you can tell it to run offline and never have the requirement to connect to Steam again
I don't think that's true -- I'm nearly sure that Steam requires a login about once a month.
There was a really long period where the Mac client could stay disconnected; I had my Mac laptop in offline mode for, man, six months or more. But from comments I've seen since, that was a bug, and it has been fixed. You have to go online about once a month.
I have not, however, actually seen this myself; this is from sources that I trust, but it is not observed fact. I almost never run Steam on my Mac.
Oh, and as a corollary... when good deals come along, like this one, you should buy them!
People who are trying to make genuinely good games, rather than aiming at extracting the maximum revenue from you they possibly can, are getting rarer and rarer. Buy their games. It's important. Just like avoiding the bad guys matters, so does buying stuff from the good developers.
Most people don't really pay attention to games, it seems, so if you're one that does, what you do matters more.
I don't mind a little bit of DRM; Steam is pretty acceptable. This is largely because I know Steam is easy to crack. It's DRM made of cobwebs, just enough so that you know what the limits are.
If Valve ever turns evil, or decides to change the terms of the deal in a way I find intolerable (which they can do, unilaterally, because it IS DRM), I know I'll be able to get pirate versions of what I've already bought, because Steam is so easily stripped out. And it is a nice, convenient service, so I go along with it. I have JC2 on Steam, for instance.
But the really draconian flavors, especially always-on, are just not acceptable to me. Ubisoft stopped me from buying at least seven titles in the first year they went to those insane DRM regimes, and probably nearly as many since. Each year, I buy fewer and fewer big-ticket titles, because the terms are unacceptable.
I really wish more people would pay attention to this stuff, and realize that the short-term gain of the fun game is not worth accepting the long-term loss of the lousy deal to get it. If we, as gamers, keep taking lousy deals, the deals will only get lousier, until we reject them. The big gaming companies see us as something to be exploited, and they will exploit us until we refuse to play along anymore, at which point they might back off just a little.
We should have been up in arms years ago, but naw, we just keep taking shittier and shittier deals, going along with systems to take more and more money from us for less product, and a good chunk of the gaming community heaps scorn on the people pointing out that this is a pile of crap.
It feels a lot like being told that I just don't understand, that payday loan places are the way forward, and that my insistence on using a bank is old-fashioned and stupid.
Does anyone really buy a greeting card based purely on the name of the company that produced it, as opposed to the design and/or written sentiments?
Well, people probably don't, but someone's making the decision about what cards are on the shelf to buy. Seeing a few cards from Inman could lose Oatmeal Studios all business controlled by that person for a long time, maybe permanently, since even professionals would be likely to mix the two up.
This is precisely what trademark law is for; Oatmeal Studios has been building up their brand equity for thirty-five years. They have registered Oatmeal Studios as their trademark in the greeting card space. They absolutely have the legal right to tell The Oatmeal to bug off.
Further, I'd say they have the moral right, too. As a store manager choosing what cards to carry, if I saw these new "Oatmeal" cards, I might very well think that Oatmeal Studios had lost their freaking minds, and refuse to buy anything more from them. The Oatmeal's humor is, um, let's call it specialized, lest I offend those of you who actually like that drivel^H^H^H^H^H^H controversial content.
For better or worse, his stuff is incredibly memorable, and I can't imagine Oatmeal Studios would be able to reasonably differentiate themselves from the newcomer, at least in the minds of people who aren't paying very close attention to the issue (ie, almost everyone, everywhere.) Since they're already in that market, it's up to Inman to make the differentiation, not them.
3 years from now, what incentive does anyone have to purchase one of his books when it's freely available just about everywhere?
It will be freely available just about everywhere anyway -- and he's $4 richer doing it this way. All it takes is one person breaking the DRM, and it's dirt-easy to do that, and everyone can have copies just as easily as they can get them from the library. There's no value in copies.
Without the content, you would be copying nothing.
Right, so we need to work out how to pay someone to create content, not how to pay them for copies. Making copies is worthless. It's not worth charging for that.
The only reason we think that's the right approach is because plastic disks could only be made in specialized factories, so the business model that emerged was the plastic disk makers bribing authors and musicians for content, so they could sell more plastic.
But we don't need plastic anymore. Every single person with a computer has a fully functional bit-duplication facility. Trying to bend the old models to suit the new reality doesn't work at all. There are no more plastic disks, and pretending that there are is fundamentally stupid. And not just stupid, but STUPID, in all-caps skywriting.
We need to pay for the act of creation, not for making copies. In the old world, the people with the duplication facilities, the record companies, defined the terms of the relationship. In the new world, the people with the duplication facilities still define the terms of the relationship, at least as far as the copies go -- except that's end-users. Everyone reading this comment has a fully operational factory that can make millions of copies of anything.
When every one of your customers can, for a cost so small it disappears into their monthly overhead, make thousands of copies of any digital product you produce, well, selling copies to these people is like selling ice to Eskimos. It can be done, but your ice had better be really good, and really, really cheap.
Or, we can move to the new economic reality of the digital age, which is that creating things is hard and expensive, so that's what we should pay for, by funding those we love directly. "Hey," we'll think, "I loved Imogen Heap's last album, so I'll kick in $5 or $10 so she'll make another." And then superfans can give more. See: Kickstarter.
Over the long haul, charging for copies is a deeply flawed, probably impossible business model. If someone can easily do something themselves for free, there's not a lot of money in doing it for them.
And deploying the guns of the government to enforce the idea that plastic disks exist, where none actually do, will cause economic harm far in excess of any harm caused by record companies going out of business. Even if every author and every musician and every record company stopped producing content tomorrow, that would still do us far less harm than trying to sabotage the Internet and everyone's computers.
And, of course, nothing that severe will ever happen. There will always be authors and musicians, because some folks need to do it like they need to breathe. They'd write and compose and perform even if there was no money in it at all. And, I would argue, we'd probably end up with better music and writing, because people doing it for the love of it are usually better than those who are in it for the lucre.
But even that won't happen, because we've seen just how much money can be raked in by people who give stuff away for free. It hasn't scaled yet to the tens and hundreds of millions, but it doesn't need to -- that was all going to the plastic disk and paper book industries, which are dying. The part that's going to the musicians and authors is all that really needs to be preserved, and that very clearly can happen without them selling even a single copy of anything.
What you ACs keep (deliberately?) misunderstanding is that the total amount of money being spent on music goes up every year. It's just going to different parts of the music business.
Making copies of things has almost no value. Everyone can do that, for free. So the idea of charging super-premium prices for making a copy is fundamentally broken. Charging $15 to do something that can be done hundreds of times for less than a cent is not a viable business model, when your customers have the exact same technology and cost structure available to them.
The people providing actual value, on the other hand, are doing quite nicely.
Maybe the record companies will realize that they're not record companies anymore, that they're audio engineering and promotion outfits instead, and that they work for the artists, rather than the other way around. But I don't think they'll go there quietly or gently.
I think maybe he's being a little _too_ generous, in this case. I think it would be fair to charge the library $3.99 per simultaneous title they want to check out. So if they want 20 people to be able to read the book at once, it should cost them the same as buying 20 copies. But the copies don't wear out, and they can freely convert them. Library wins (it's still a lot cheaper than paper books, both for purchase and handling/maintenance), author wins (gets paid per copy in use), everyone's happy.
I realize that thinking of copies as being an interesting or valuable thing is broken, in the digital age. But it seems to me that this would be a good transition method, to the eventual model I think we're going to arrive at, something more like Kickstarter. As the Kickstarter-type money increases, authors can start dropping the per-copy charges to libraries, and eventually go to a tiny, token fee to indicate legitimacy. But I think maybe this fellow is going there a little too soon for his own good.
Of course, jumping into the new model that's going to work very early can be a powerful market advantage -- he could think of the money "lost" as advertising, a form of investment in his own future. The risk is that the model is wrong, but I don't think it is. He's way early, but he's right.
Fundamentally, as an e-book author, you are 'selling' numbers. That's all an e-book is, a very large number. And every possible customer for your work has an incredibly sophisticated machine, one of the most complex ever created by mankind, which has the specific purpose of copying large numbers quickly. There are hundreds of millions of these machines on the market. You aren't just selling numbers, you're selling numbers into a market of number factories.
You are no longer in charge of this relationship. In capitalism, the people with the money and the factories generally control how the economy works, and for digital media, that's the end-user. They define the relationship, not you.
For many years, the relationship has been defined by the people publishing the books, because they had the money and the control over the factories that made them. Both the authors and the customers were inherently subservient to the people who had the printing plants. They functioned sort of like venture capitalists, funding authors to write books, generating content to create in their printing plants, and then returning a small fraction of the proceeds to the author. They were never as abusive as the RIAA, but the authors nonetheless did not get a very high cut of the take. I can see two ways to frame this. One the one hand, you could claim that the publishers were doing good in the world, by diverting money from successful authors to create many books that might never have existed otherwise. But on the other hand, you could simply observe that they were very bad venture capitalists, because they took such a huge percentage of the profits from a book, and are terribly threatened by the idea of lower prices.
The need for printing plants is rapidly disappearing, along with the power of publishers to dictate terms. They're used to getting paid for making copies, but in a digital world, that has almost no value -- pennies, not dollars. So publishers are trying to use the guns of the government to preserve their obsolete business model, rather than give up their dominant position. People don't like to give up power and money, and they are doing their damndest to stop it from happening, by painting all the people with number factories as 'thieves'.
As an author, the value you add to the world is in creating the number in the first place, not duplicating it. All of your customers can do that, themselves, for free. The inherent relationship has changed, and customers now dictate terms under which they'll give someone money. They will clearly do so; in fact, it's quite obvious that customers want to support authors they like.
I'm not sure what the new relationship needs to look like, but I suspect it will end up looking vaguely like Kickstarter. People will mostly swap books and music and movies freely, and will pay authors they like. This is what they already do; anyone who buys a book or an MP3 or a movie is doing so out of either kindness or ignorance, not necessity.
The alternative, trying to go down the path of defining the ways in which people are allowed to use their number factories, and then trying to police every use of them, will be immensely destructive on an economic basis. This would do far more damage than simply letting every publisher and all of Hollywood go out of business tomorrow. Even if every content company in America evaporated right this second, it would do far less economic damage to us than trying to invade the homes of every American, telling them that These Bits Are Special, and You May Not Copy Them.
A War on Piracy would be easily ten times as destructive as a War on Drugs, and just as successful. Trying to enforce these laws is like having the authors standing on the shore, spitting into the ocean, and then demanding that the ocean track every molecule of their spit, forever, and change itself so that their water molecules don't mix with the ocean.
In a sea of bits, no bits are special, and trying to make them that way will be immensely destructive to the fabric of the Internet.