Mike C's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the occasional-flashes-of-insight dept

Another week gone and another chance for everyone to see Techdirt through someone else’s eyes. While I may not be as prosaic and prolific of a commenter as some of the regulars, I hope you find some common threads in what I found poignant this week on Techdirt.

We start with the new research report from Floor64, The Sky Is Rising. While regular readers here were not surprised at the results, my first thought was how to get big content business to read and, more importantly, understand the salient points put forth. As usual, the comments ran back and forth over the standard arguments, but for me, the one from Janis stood out as an indicator of things to come where creators are no longer required to be massively successful in order to earn something from their efforts. As for the rest of the day, we had some of the all too typical indicators that the major content studios are going to continue acting like spoiled toddlers. Color me surprised… NOT!.

Tuesday morning had an article from Glyn Moody that hit close to home. Until my division was spun off and sold late last year, I was a programmer for LexisNexis (LN is a subsidiary of Reed-Elsevier). Despite my desire for the company to prosper so I could continue to receive a paycheck, the Elsevier publishing division was always one I delighted seeing in decline. I firmly believe that, as a whole, mankind is better served through open and shared research. I, for one, hope this latest boycott and alternative publishing effort succeed. Of course, following that, we had more examples of clueless content owners and their overblown sense of entitlement.

Wednesday brought some stark reminders of just how broken our current system of government really is – especially that last one. Think about it – a Senator who is doing what he can to FIX some of the very serious problems in this country is being attacked for doing his job? We really need to get out of this "R vs. D" mentality and focus on the individual issues. If only we could get people to realize that you can agree with someone on one thing and disagree with them on everything else. Madness, I tell you!

Unfortunately, work intruded most severely on Thursday, but there were two standouts. First, I took great joy in seeing that Redbox is once again standing up to Warner Bros. and their ridiculous attempts to treat consumers like cattle. I often wonder if Hollywood will ever realize that people want to be entertained, but in a manner that fits their budget and time frame. All these machinations to alter how people spend their entertainment dollars isn’t going to change that one bit. Of course, much like Chosen Reject, I find this fight fascinating and hope to see some updates down the road. On the flip side, it was distressing to see yet another politician ignoring his oath of office to defend the Constitution. Regardless of opinion or even how much of a potential jerk he could be, Josh Fox had a right to record the proceedings. This is another one that I will be trying to find some follow-up on.

Ahhh, Friday. End of the week for many and a day we spend looking forward to the weekend. First up is actually a comment from Suja where a minor replacement made for, in my opinion, a much more accurate set of statements. Next, we had Capitalist Lion Tamer warning reminding us just how close to a police state the US has become and that it’s not likely to get better until it’s too late. The portions noting the "War on Drugs" and the corresponding comments below reminded me of the first part of an anti-SOPA post on another blog I read:

The so-called war on drugs is a joke. A sick, sad, stupid joke. It didn’t get rid of drugs, it didn’t reduce drug use, or drug smuggling, or drug violence, or drug related deaths. It didn’t, in fact, do a damned thing. All it does is keep a lot of law enforcement types employed chasing their tails.

While his language can be a bit rough around the edges, he has a rather succint way of putting things and is usually writing from personal experience. Finally, of course, what kind of a consumer would I be if I didn’t at least mention the Super Bowl. It’s nice to see someone speaking up about the ridiculous overreach of the NFL. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice my 12oz curls and 5 yard dash (to the bathroom) for Sunday’s game when I watch it on a friend’s 60" flat screen.

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Comments on “Mike C's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week”

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Jay (profile) says:

Adding more fuel to the fire of change.

Wednesday brought some stark reminders of just how broken our current system of government really is – especially that last one. Think about it – a Senator who is doing what he can to FIX some of the very serious problems in this country is being attacked for doing his job? We really need to get out of this “R vs. D” mentality and focus on the individual issues. If only we could get people to realize that you can agree with someone on one thing and disagree with them on everything else. Madness, I tell you!

That’s not even the half of it. Next year, DHS will have a budget of $1,254,689,000 (p 21 in pdf). This is for ICE seizures that won’t work, immigration policies that infringe on civil rights, government contracts on failed security, and a number of initiatives used to destroy people’s civil liberties. We haven’t seen major advancements in biotechnology, nanotechnology, or any other particular field because of all of the money in the antiterrorism bubble, the failed war on drugs, and instilling fear into society through taking away their freedoms. And for what? Do we really need to take down Kim Dotcom for making a successful business? How about raid Gibson Guitars based on the wood they used? Where’s the evidence that Dajaz1’s seizure caused the music industry more money?

This is how the public benefits from the various archaic laws to fix the country?

Anonymous Coward says:

The war on drugs thing is hilarious, because it doesn’t begin to understand how that particular situation is way different from the content world.

First, drugs are illegal, period. There is no legal heroin, no over the counter cocaine, no “hash by the pound” stores. It’s illegal. There is an incredibly huge amount of money involved, it’s all tax free, and the business model is kept in line with firearms, cement shoes, and more recently, fast and furious guns.

Seeing as there are no legal alternatives, no way to “go legit”, there is a problem. Further, as many of these narcotics are incredibly addictive, the market demand for them at any price is there all the time.

Content? There are always legal alternatives, and even if people say it’s “addictive”, it truly isn’t in any meaningful way. People are generally not going to rob little old ladies or kill store clerks to get enough cash to buy a DVD.

When you understand the differences, you can understand why a “war on piracy” isn’t even comparable to a “war on drugs”, except perhaps in the use of the word “war”. If you fall for it (and apparently you did) then you really missed the boat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Since you didn’t specify which comment and it is not entirely clear to whoms comment you are referring to, I need to ask are you calling Jay a dumbass or the OP?

Aside from have you considered that brains can be located anywhere like Cephalopods have distinct brains in their appendages that they use to control them independently.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

if you legalise drugs most of the problems you mentioned go away…

perhaps not the ones relating to the addictive nature of some of the substances, but a lot of the ones regarding weapons, cement shoes and other methods od coersion.

and think of all those lovely new tax dollars that will come pouring in, as well as the ones that are saved through not having people chasing their own tails all day…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nope, even if you legalize drugs in the US, you still face the issue of people being so dependent on them, that they have to commit crime to obtain them.

The price of the drugs wouldn’t change, because the illegal markup that currently exists would be replaced by a similar, legal markup, taxes, and the like.

The issue wouldn’t change, it would actually get worse by giving it public acceptance.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nope, even if you legalize drugs in the US, you still face the issue of people being so dependent on them, that they have to commit crime to obtain them.

Wrong. California and Colorado are two states that have less enforcement on marijuana and even though the dispensaries can’t keep up with demand, there is no correlation to having to commit a crime to get the drug.

The price of the drugs wouldn’t change, because the illegal markup that currently exists would be replaced by a similar, legal markup, taxes, and the like.

How is that a bad thing? Regulate, not ban. That’s the issue here.

The issue wouldn’t change, it would actually get worse by giving it public acceptance.

Bullshit. More people are demanding for more drugs to be legalized and regulated than ever before. The only reason they’re banned is because of a very powerful coalition of interests in keeping them banned. The private prison industry, pharmaceutical industry, and even the beer industry want the drugs banned. That should truly tell you something about the drug issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

As was mentioned elsewhere (with a different link), I think Portugal makes an even better example.

Also note though, that it was only decriminalized for personal use, actual drug trafficking is still a criminal offense. Therefore a similar policy with regards to file sharing would likely still leave a website like The Pirate Bay actionable for “copyright trafficking”.

In theory I don’t think I have much of a problem with that. I’ve stated before I’d like to see the larger sites like The Pirate Bay try to deemphasize Big Content (the way Big Content tries to push out any content that isn’t theirs to control) and actively promote alternative content and alternative distribution channels.

The fastest way to make Big Content irrelevant is not to “pirate” their products, but to make viable alternative as easy to find and share as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

People are highly dependent on alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. Why aren’t those illegal? Why aren’t people going around committing crime to get their next fix of cigarettes or booze (well, they did, back in the time when alcohol was illegal. Remember how well that turned out)?

And about the prices. I highly doubt that the prices would stay high for too long. “Drugs” are relatively cheap to produce. The costs are high mainly because of their illegal status, which makes bringing them from producers to consumers extremely hard and expensive.

High demand + low supply = high price. Increase the supply and the price automatically drops. It’s simple economics. And, honestly, the cost of taxes is nothing compared with the cost of having two tons of your product confiscated by the police, or having a rival gang wasting your entire “crew” and torching your factories.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In the Netherlands drugs are not a problem, in fact less people die and less people are compelled socially to use it.

I find that societies in general that are more open are less susceptible to vices, natural social pressures guide people better than laws could ever do and without the ridiculous amount of spending trying to enforce something that some people will never accept and that is in basic terms somebody else choosing what is right or wrong from them, you are taking away the learning experience the choice and there is a lot of people that will never accept those things ever.

Not creating ineffective laws doesn’t mean there would be a sudden public acceptance, despite what you may think the collective is not that stupid they can see what is bad and what is good and they generally avoid bad things, just teach people how to test and use it safe so they don’t die like flies and make it easy to people to talk about their experiences and soon all the bad comes out and although shocking at first it is the prime coat that will start change.

People learn, they try and see if it is true or not and they learn.

Just because you believe others are stupid and you are the only one who wouldn’t chose to do something stupid it doesn’t make you better than the others you probably do other stupid things, now would you accept it if people criminalize every stupid thing someone could do?

That is not the path to change.

Drug usage has been falling everywhere, people with higher education or exposure to educated people are less likely to chose to use it and the reason is simple it is hard work to sustain an habit any habit.

The interest is supposed to be about the public health but in reality is more about personal views since people don’t care about drug addicts and most think they deserve everything bad that happens to them including the artificial bad things that we ourselves will do to them making it even more harder and dangerous, there is no quality control, there are no taxes on those things and it manages such huge amounts of money that the US government turns a blind eye to banks being used to launder that kind of money, if they were to attack that problem it would depress the economy and that speak louder than principles apparently so people just look the other way.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hmm. Let’s see.

First, drugs are illegal, period. There is no legal heroin, no over the counter cocaine, no “hash by the pound” stores. It’s illegal.

So, medical marijuana, prescription morphine, medical opiates, codeine, and a whole slough of other drugs don’t exist. Good to know. Especially seeing as how the largest growing area of substance abuse is prescription drugs. I’m glad that was just my imagination. Come to think of it, the (most recent) Prohibition? One of the most common sources for alcohol WASN’T the speakeasys, it wasn’t Toothless Joe (the local moonshiner), or any other source. It was going to the pharmacist, and getting “medical” alcohol.

There is an incredibly huge amount of money involved, it’s all tax free, and the business model is kept in line with firearms, cement shoes, and more recently, fast and furious guns.

You know what that sounds like? It sounds like (the most recent) Prohibition. Y’know, one of the other failed laws that tried to restrict what the public wanted, whether it was good for them or not. Just as with infringing content, I, personally, am a teetotaler. It doesn’t mean I’m blind to the reality staring me in the face, though.

When you understand the differences, you can understand why a “war on piracy” isn’t even comparable to a “war on drugs”, except perhaps in the use of the word “war”. If you fall for it (and apparently you did) then you really missed the boat.

The key here is NOT the differences, which aren’t even as many as you would like to think. The key is the similarities.

No matter how many scumbag dealers/infringers get caught, MANY more will spring up in their place, for the simple reason that the market for their illicit goods exists.

No matter how “terrible” the side effects of their actions (which in the case of drugs can include a horrible, horrible death), the “users” want the product.

No matter how many sources exist, enforcement will always be lagging behind.

No matter how many “users” are prosecuted, “abuse” will continue, because it is socially acceptable (no matter what the law says).

“Dealers” aren’t even that good at what they do, yet they can conceal themselves effectively by just not blatantly advertising their profession.

“Users” will always be able to find those dealers better than enforcement, because they had to learn how to find them for themselves. Well, that and ANY dealer will do. The enforcement has to hunt them down one at a time. In fact, any time more than one “dealer” is caught at a time, it is a newsworthy event (and probably reported as proof of some sort of society destroying conspiracy).

The sad part is, unlike drugs, the reason the (digital) users go to illicit dealers for their fix is because the product is too expensive, ridiculously restricted, and/or simply unavailable in their venue. The market for the “bad” stuff could be nearly completely extinguished by the studios themselves, just by adjusting their digital price points to even slightly reflect the realities of the digital marketplace.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“No matter how many scumbag dealers/infringers get caught, MANY more will spring up in their place, for the simple reason that the market for their illicit goods exists.”

It’s because of the old risk / reward calculation. The risks (death, prison, etc) are nothing compared to the stacks of cash for the dealers, and the high for the user. There are also absolutely no legal alternatives.

Piracy? There are almost always legal alternatives.

“the reason the (digital) users go to illicit dealers for their fix is because the product is too expensive, ridiculously restricted, and/or simply unavailable in their venue.”

The most popular files on torrent sites are all movies that are current available at retail, generally available through rentals, PPV, and many other outlets. The real reason to pirate is to get it for nothing. Why pay when you don’t have to?

Yes, some out of zone piracy exists, but really, it all comes down to “why pay when I can get it for free?”.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You have no valid rebuttal to it.

Technically correct perhaps if you consider “valid rebuttal” to only include empirical evidence of the success of an alternative. Since the content companies have gone out of their way at every point to stifle/sue/kill any possible lower priced legal alternative, saying there’s no hard evidence is like a banker shouting “You can’t prove the economy would be better if we hadn’t sold all those sub-prime mortgages and derivatives”.

On the other hand, every bit of extrapolated evidence (that hasn’t been paid for by the companies that benefit) and every bit of anecdotal evidence, as well as the application of logic suggest otherwise.

And while we’re on the subject of anecdotal evidence, I took my child (young enough to qualify for a “discount”) to the cinema for the first time in many years recently and for the 2 of us it cost the equivalent of $60 to see a so-so “hollywood blockbuster”. More than anything it reminded me why I don’t bother going to the cinema any more.

Given that at one time I used to go on average once every 2 weeks, that I have now far more spare money than I did then and no more access to copied fare than I did then (technically less – years ago I used to borrow videos from someone who had a habit of getting them before cinema release in the UK) do you think the drop in my cinema attendance is:
A/ Because I’ve suddenly started wanting everything for free despite more desposable income and I’ve turned into a nasty piraty pirate?
B/ Because the quality of the cinema offering has gone down while the price has gone through the roof and for the few films worth watching I’m now happy to wait the 6 months ’til they are ?3 in the DVD bargain bin?

So price/value isn’t a provable factor? yeah… right.

Oh, and I could be wrong but far as I know in the UK at least, a drug has to be specifically declared illegal so whatever the latest designer drug is tends to be legal for a while ’til the government decides it’s nasty and evil and not “nice” like say nicotine. For example, according to a quick google search mephedrone didn’t become illegal in the UK ’til 2010 and from memory ecstasy was also legal when it first became popular.

So yes, from 1 viewpoint, the government’s “whack-a-mole” approach to drugs could draw quite a reasonable parallel to the attempts to “combat” both piracy, and also “combat” any attempts to offer legal alternatives (e.g. suing for the length of the piece of cable between the DVD player and the TV when renting a DVD.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It was rebutted many times you can’t explain how giving a monopoly to anyone is good to society, you can’t explain how empowering someone with exclusionary tools can help people and you can’t show why others should accept a monopoly since it affects them and their own rights negatively.

In a one line:

Between freedom and democracy and a monopoly(copyright) people will always chose freedom and democracy.

The reason copyright existed is to transfer that knowledge and works to the public domains where they would be free to use, in every other country where you can see openness happening you see growth even in Africa, but people can see the contrary situation in any market surrounded by “exclusive”(as in exclusion) deals. America is full of those examples.

More people don’t can see that no other class of people need those things or deserve it so why should you or any other schmuck get it?

Restaurants have zero protections against being copied they have to compete with others making copies of their products and somehow multimillion dollar companies still spring from that market, fashion is the same thing, bus companies, until very recently Software, carpenters, plumbers, secretaries, candy manufacturers, toy manufacturers and so many others.

You can’t explain why people should protect you from competition can you?

Copyright is a monopoly power and powerful and easily abused exclusion tool that is why is was meant to be very short and limited but you don’t understand that do you?

You are happy with your monopoly and don’t care what it does to the rest of society and can’t even see it harms you in the long run.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


“why pay when I can get it for free?”

Lust, vanity, jealousy are the answers to that.

For the same reason people have been paying when they could get it for free from TV or radio for the best part of the last century.

There was this common sense among consumers that the original was always good or better, now apparently the industry is trying its best to show that there was never a difference and that will harm the idiots producing that crap more than piracy does in the long term.

Here is the thing, I had a snob friend that liked to show off his new stuff, that guy was great for local stores, not only did the idiot spend a lot of money buying stuff and learning about all that was to know about the little details of things he liked he prompted others to want to beat him and show they too could just as well do it.
Of course that was decades ago, today I don’t feel the need to buy anything original, what I find the need is to create originals and by original I mean something I did with my own hands is the fight to show others how much I am capable, just like to show that in the past people spend a lot of money, today for me is not the money I spend but others resources.

Does your business fit in that?
Nope you still want others to just watch you do something, when what people want today is to play the damn thing to show it to others they can too.

See there, copying what others did is important to economy, if people didn’t copy the attitudes of others, they wouldn’t have vanity or lust for something. Attack that and you are attacking your own sales because you are trying to eliminate the root cause of consumerism and that is vanity.

The lust for that crap should be viewed as the price of doing business, because if people realize that instead of flapping at what some douche did they can just as easily live without it, this will be the end of that douche who has nothing others want to emulate, he is not something others will want to be, he is not something others want to copy, he is not something that will sell, but he is something that stopping them from trying to do something he now is evil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


The most popular files on torrent sites are all movies that are current available at retail, generally available through rentals, PPV, and many other outlets. The real reason to pirate is to get it for nothing. Why pay when you don’t have to?

I think I speak for most people when they all can say with absolute certainty that not every new thing launched today is available to them in retail stores that is just BS, and I’m not traveling to the next city to check it there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What, do you honestly think I am going to check every market in the world to provide you some numbers? Are you daft?

The point I was trying to make is those who say “I had no choice but to pirate” are often saying more like “I didn’t like the price” or “I couldn’t wait 2 weeks for the release” or “I didn’t want to wait for netflix”.

They are often (example PaulT) living in areas where english is not the native language, but they want, nay demand that the product be available in English, regardless of local packaging laws, ratings review requirements, etc. They are unwilling to pay the price for what is a niche product in their area.

Movie theaters, rentals, and retail are common almost everywhere in the world, often adding in PPV, IPtv, and similar options. So the product is almost always available, subject to the limitations of law, and the limitations of “too small a market to sell in”.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“What, do you honestly think I am going to check every market in the world to provide you some numbers? “

You are trying to promote your point of view_agenda_cause.

It is not unreasonable to ask you to provide some evidence in the form of numbers to back up you claims. Claims that appear to be little more than hysterics by someone with a deep seated sense of entitlement and a willingness to infringe on the rights of others to make a buck.

“Are you daft?”

No he made a reasonable request, Why are you so unreasonable.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“First, drugs are illegal, period …..There are always legal alternatives, and even if people say it’s “addictive”,”

So you are talking about the pharma industry. hmmmm, do I want to support a bunch of narco terrorists, or an industry trying to use the law to destroy civil liberties.

I think I will choose the narco terrorists. Thank you very much for playing.

By the way I did read his comment I just decided to go as off topic as he did.

Bozobub (profile) says:

Re: Fail.

1) Many moral things are at times illegal, and vice versa. Slavery is an immediate example.
2) Cocaine, in fact, is kept in *every* hospital (in small amounts) as an emergency topical anesthetic. In fact, it’s one of the most effective, least allergy-producing topical anesthetics known.
3) There very often *is not* legal alternatives for a given person to acquire given content. Whether expense ($20-30 per movie at the theater, anyone?) or availability (many works are taken off the market completely, but rights are still reserved), this is quite common.

I think you’re way off base. Both “wars” you speak of are completely ineffective, and for very similar reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Fail.

1) Not getting it. Slavery wasn’t moral. Outlawing it is moral.

2) Few of the street level narcotics have true medical uses in their street forms. There are some uses for opiates and other drugs in medical situations, but there is plenty of evidence that they are often the root causes of post-intervention dependency. In the risk / reward calculations of medicine, they are often last resort instead of first.

3) “$20-30 per movie at the theater: is a bullshit excuse, because you have alternatives. Those alternatives do require that you wait, for a retail sale or rental, PPV or perhaps even in the long run a “free” over the air broadcast. The problem is those who cannot control themselves, and cannot wait – they feel no alternatives. They want to be like the “cool kids” talking about the movie at the office or school on Monday, but they don’t want to pay. That is just greed, not a lack of alternatives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fail.


Is being well read, somewhat informed, and able to search for information not something that the internet age brings? If I don’t know about a subject, I can use that magic thing called a search engine to find answers, articles, and information that can help me understand a subject and either draw an opinion or obtain enough knowledge to speak reasonably about a subject.

Since I have had members of my family fight cancer (and in the end lose the battle) I have some first hand experience dealing with doctors and drugs like morphine. What about you?

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re: Fail.

1) He was referring to the fact that slavery was, at one time, legal and circumvention of slavery was seen as a crime.

3) Not all of those works will necessarily reach these stages. Nor do all works make their way into all societies. The example given is meant to be easily understood by everyone as an example of over-bearing price.

A better example would be Anime shows that only have a market in the US because of pirating. Even then there is a substantial debate over the form of translation that is usually only handled through one of the two methods by whoever purchases the distribution rights.

Another example would be the delays and restrictions on game releases in Australia. Indeed, here a delay can be incredibly detrimental, especially as so many games tend towards establishing an online community. Note that in this case the only way to bypass the delays is to pirate the content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


There, phone Spielberg and George to takedown the filmumentary from Jamie Benning, which is the movie being played with a lot of annotations and comentaries overlayed, the guy a hardcore fan of Indiana Jones and Star Wars(which has its previous filmumentary taken down by George) spent 8 months collecting material and interviews to create that, but despite some original content that he dug out himself most of it is all copyrighted and he had his Channel on Youtube closed so he move to Vimeo.

I’m pretty sure if it has gone to court it would be seen as fair use since the movie played in its entirety is filled with large white boxes showing reunion meetings reports, medical reports for actors, storyboards describing the scene and original sound removed to play commentaries from everybody he could get a recording off of it.

But with the DMCA it doesn’t matter he can be censored anyway and since he is just a fan not a millionaire he has no resources(financial, human or otherwise) to pursue justice and clarification.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

Wow, really?

The war on drugs is fueled by economically flawed legislation. Whenever you target the supplier, the supply shrinks, but the demand remains the same, or sometimes increases (more on that later). Should the demand remain the same, the price point will increase to the point where the supplier is willing to take risks and can outfit themselves with extensive measures to protect their business. This is the source of the violence.

Further, the outlawing of drugs that are so addictive causes the user to become familiar with a disregard for the law. Here we hit the first similarity with Piracy. People are being conditioned to ignore the rule of law. In the case of drugs, however, it has a more dangerous effect. Because the user is willing to break the law, his ability to pay increases (through theft) and the demand curve increases, feeding back into all the negatives already in effect.

By contrast, legalizing drugs allows the supply to fill out as it should. This drops the price point to only a small gain for the supplier and removes the need for them to take protective measures for their business. It also decriminalizes the user, through lower costs and avoiding the desensitizing effects of an illegal product.

Other methods, targeting users instead of suppliers, would see demand drop without affecting supply. The users wouldn’t have the monetary gain to turn to violence, though desensitization to illegal activities would still occur. The problem here is that supply has to be legal. This is the solution proposed by medicinal marijuana.

In other words, the war on drugs has caused most of the detrimental effects associated with drug cartels through bad legislative practice. These effects are then used as an excuse to continue the same detrimental practices, as well as leading to abuse from empowered enforcement.

Here is the key similarity. Both wars are based on bad legislation that lead to empowered enforcement arms, which are then abused. The actual issues themselves are very dissimilar, but the approach used to address them is the same flawed method.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are some differences between the war on drugs and the war on piracy.



A lot more money is spent on the war on drugs than the war on piracy, yet the war on drugs is a failure.

They can’t even control the war on drugs in jail, much less out of jail. What makes you think they can control the war on piracy outside of jail.

Most people don’t do drugs not because they are illegal, but because they are bad for us and against our interests. Piracy does not suffer this dynamic and, if anything, piracy is in our best interests.

The people involved with buying, doing, and perhaps selling drugs tend to be incompetent, since they tend to be on drugs, so it’s much easier for cops to catch them. People involved with piracy are not.

As far as punishment is concerned, they tried harsh punishments during alcohol prohibition and that failed. Likewise, there is evidence that increasing penalties does not deter infringement and even the death penalty did little to deter infringement.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“When you understand the differences, you can understand why a “war on piracy” isn’t even comparable to a “war on drugs”, except perhaps in the use of the word “war”. If you fall for it (and apparently you did) then you really missed the boat.”

The point was not the differences, but the similarities. The obvious similarities are that both “Wars” have been spectacular failures, in that they’ve utterly failed to meet their stated aim while at the same time creating new problems that are worse the the ones supposed to be eliminated. If you can’t see that (and apparently you can’t) then you really missed the boat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Seeing as there are no legal alternatives, no way to “go legit”, there is a problem.

Given that there are places where decriminalization has occurred and there are legal alternative, there is empirical evidence to why the war on drugs is a total failure and your argument has no substance.

When you understand the differences, you can understand why a “war on piracy” isn’t even comparable to a “war on drugs”

Sure it is. Forget all the other drugs and just looking at pot (and quite frankly, the continued efforts of lumping pot in with, and trying to treat it in many cases as more dangerous than, the harder drugs is perhaps the single greatest reason the War on Drug has been the massive failure it is) the are indeed comparisons to be made. Even with no legal (by federal standards) options for pot consumption, despite sometimes heavy fines, despite 3 strike mandatory sentencing laws, despite burning large crops of pot when they are discovered, it all has been completely ineffective at slowing or altering, much less stopping, pot use.

Most people have tried it at least once or twice. Some are just occasional users, they have a smoke maybe a few times a year. Some are regular users. And whatever someone’s usage level, among the determining factors, the legal considerations rarely pay more than a passing nod in most instances.

File sharing is, and will continue to be, no different. No amount of fines, no amount of mandatory sentencing, no amount of attempts to limit the internet is going to affect people’s decisions to whether or not the choose to engage in it (or even try it out) and if they do whether it’s something they do on a rare occasion or on a regular basis.

Malcolm Kyle (profile) says:


It’s time for us all to stop being ignorant hypocrites and start being TRUE conservatives!

Pragmatic libertarians (minimal-statists) and “true” Conservatives agree that many, if not most, of society’s problems are caused by government usurping choices that could better be made by individuals themselves, and that government is just about the worst way of doing almost anything. Where libertarianism normally parts company with “fake” conservatism is over moral issues. But a true conservative would have no problem with agreeing that what people do with their own bodies, and especially in the privacy of their own home, should be supremely their business and that anything else would entail ignoring the basic tenet of limited government.

Fake-Conservatism on the other hand has much in common with socialism – Socialists (leftists) and Fake-Conservatives appear to harbor the belief that nature does not exist and that any human can be “re-educated” into being anything society wishes. Leftists therefore tend to believe that little boys can be conditioned into preferring dolls over toy soldiers, and similarly, Fake-conservatives believe that adults can be coerced into choosing alcohol over marijuana. A true conservative, just like a pragmatic libertarian, would immediately reject both ideas as nonsense.

If you support prohibition then you are NOT a conservative.
Conservative principles QUITE CLEARLY ARE:

1) Limited, locally controlled government.
2) Individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility.
3) Free enterprise.
4) A strong national defense.
5) Fiscal responsibility.

Prohibition is actually an authoritarian War On The Economy, Constitution and All Civic Institutions of our once great nation.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Enough!!!

I’m not sure I disagree with you or not, but, I don’t think your labels work.

Conservative: Fiscally conservative, socially conservative
Liberal: Fiscally liberal, socially liberal
Libertarian: Fiscally conservative, socially liberal
Populist: Fiscally liberal, socially conservative

The problems show up because people view these issues in different lights.

To me (a fiscal conservative), it is a fiscal problem, thus the cry of “Let the market take care of itself.”

To some, it is a social/moral “problem”. They see it as a loosening of morals, a slide into social depravity.

So frankly, people from all over the board, from all areas of the political spectrum (as we saw in the SOPA/PIPA protests), have different reactions to this issue, often at odds with their “party.”

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Enough!!! - To clarify:

If it is a fiscal issue:

Fiscal conservatives – It may be a threat, but the market will take care of itself.

Fiscal liberals – it is a threat that must be regulated.

If it is a social issue:

Social conservatives – it is a loosening of morals, and must be prevented.

Social liberals – it is a changing of morals, and unavoidable.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Enough!!!

Actually, what I think we should be saying “Enough!!!” to is labels like “Republican”, “Democrat”, “Liberal”, “Conservative”, etc. These labels carry with them a preconceived set of ideals and it’s assumed that if you identify with a particular label, you follow and agree with ALL of the attached ideals.

Consider this for a second: If there were no “Democrats” and “Republicans”, how quickly do you think Congress would be able to get EFFECTIVE legislation passed instead of wasting their time trying to make the “other” party look bad? Far too much of their time is spent fighting one another and far too little actually understanding the problems we need them to solve.

Enough labels. Focus on the issues at hand and get them resolved and maybe, just maybe, we can start to respect our legislators again. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt this will happen anytime soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Enough!!!

To do that you need a new process, one where people somehow look at the issues and for that you need to get people somewhere to discuss the laws meaning you need to bring law making to the masses and not let it happen in congress.

So people do the laws outside of the political environment that is corrupted and plant there only the politicians that will fallow those directives created by the people.

Until then there is not much one can do to change anything.

It will take decades to implement something like that, it is not easy(in the past was impossible), but is doable today.

The thing about society is that people just don’t give up things and try new things just for the heck of it, we learned that it is a sure way to get screwed every time, we only give up when we can see something better that works.

The Tea Party in the US although mostly hijacked by republican ideals and labeled that way didn’t start as a republican thing that is why there are so many democrats in there but I digress what I want to say is that the Tea Party did something and that was put people in congress to make their directives come true, the thing is they didn’t have those directives in writing and so the people elected was free to do what they thought it was others were calling it for, which obviously lead to nonsense, but the Tea Party was organized in cells, small groups of people who debated what they wanted and reached a consensus and acted upon those, they just didn’t did all that needed to be done and that is bring the law making process to those little cells, that network is the foundation of a different kind of democracy.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re: Enough!!!

Frankly, it doesn’t take decades to implement something like that. It just takes decades to work out all of the problems that purist democracies have. As annoying as it is to work with, there must exist some gate-keeper who will stand up for people’s rights, even when what they say is unpopular.

The problem right now is that our gate-keepers have slammed the gate closed and handed out keys to the highest bidders. However, simply tearing down the gates won’t work (at least, not under the current human psychological and philosophical paradigm). What is needed is a re-balancing, a massive reform movement like we saw towards the end of the industrial revolution.

That said, the recent push on reddit to draft an Internet Freedom Act (or treaty) is definitely worth exploring further. Should the general populace have a chance, not just to petition our governments, but to suggest laws, combating lobbyists would be much simpler.

A method to bring together anyone wishing to chip in and organize them away from flame wars and endless debate to the creation of functional laws is not a simple undertaking. To overcome that, the lessons learned from the years of forums could be drawn upon, and we could potentially have a feasible system starting to form by the end of the year.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Enough!!!

The gate-keeper doesn’t need to be human.

Ants can build complex structures just using simple rules, that is that is needed for a functioning system, simple rules that direct the efforts. They have no central governance and still function as a group in harmony.

Open source has demonstrated a working environment where everybody gets the code can edit it on their own and can release it to others to gain acceptance and the more others use it the more popular it becomes, for laws that would be starting the debate in small groups(cells) developing the rough ideas and releasing to other groups where it gets adopted by them too or not the more adopted ideas are the more visible they are.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Enough!!!

The problem with relying solely on simple rules lies in the alteration and interpretation of those rules. Ants can build complex structures because they ultimately value the hive over themselves. Some form of intelligent mediation is required in human society. This has to be someone who is isolated from the issue in question such that they can avoid the distortion of logic that comes from preferring one system over another.

How we find that gatekeeper is a sticky issue, to be sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Enough!!!

The kind of intelligent mediation comes through by the fact that a small group of people by themselves can’t enact change they have to build consensus and do so explaining what they want to do to convince others, the self interest of the individual cells most probably guarantees that there will be no more special interests above the group and that other laws will fall out and be reduced in scope, also I read somewhere that in Sweden they have laws that need the approval of two congresses to become law that means people have a second chance at changing things if the first one screws up.

It works like a charm for open source, everybody has access to the source code and those who want to make changes can do so, people who trust the individual who made the changes take a look and spread the information further if it is useful to a lot of people eventually it finds its way to the majority of people and it guarantees that governance stay focused or else people just abandon that group and start a new one, you can’t hijack that system if you try to do so it migrates to another place where trust is intact.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Enough!!!

I wish it was so simple. Special interests created the lobbyist structure because they didn’t have a direct means to influence the government. Through propaganda or simply by appealing to a large group’s potential gains, laws can be pushed through that are truly harmful (abusive/discriminatory) to other groups in a purely majority system.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the US has two parts to congress that must both address any given law as well. The DMCA made it through that system.

There are huge differences between open source and law. The most important being that the value of a law is in the fact that it binds everyone to the same standard. With open source, if you don’t like what went through you can always create an alternative. Law cannot function that way.

So long as a majority can be derived from people who are unwilling to do comprehensive research or who will frame their position solely off of what most benefits themselves, a purely democratic society is impossible.

As far as consensus, if a true consensus could be reached, the law would be unnecessary. A serial killer will never agree to outlaw murder, nor will spammers agree to outlaw spam. Any law is going to be opposed by some group or another, so you’ll never have full consensus.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Enough!!!

Re-balancing is not going to help. The current system just proved to be flawed it will end up in the same point over and over again, we need a new system that can be worked and balances itself without the need to go through a costly re-balancing every few hundred years.

The technicalities are easy to work out the rate of adoption of those things will take decades though, people want just give up something they know and think they understand for something that is new and they are not familiar with, they need to see it working first to them start migrating slowly to the new paradigm and it needs to be transparent and inclusive, anyone should be able to participate and have their chance to say anything they want and have that system work organically to adopt or not those ideas, the gatekeeper would not be one entity but a loose collection of smaller cells that represent the various groups which must be all in agreement about something.

It incentives debate and people actually learn about politics and they will learn that just thinking something is good doesn’t make it good if you can’t show others what is worth it, which leads to people doing social experiments everywhere.

That system also guarantees that it will be very hard to push one sided interests, there is no amount of money available today to bribe thousands of cells all over any one country so special interests will fall by the wayside.

And unpopular things will need to build consensus first to be adopted and accepted which is a long road but not impossible.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Enough!!!

Adoption is easiest if you use minor changes. With a real and direct voice into Washington we can focus on adapting the system until the corruptible measures are removed. However, attempting to make such a large jump will fail, as the tendency of humans to prefer the status quo will allow for most to fall under the propaganda of those who brought about the corrupt practices.

Restoring the current practice to its non-corrupted form mustn’t take more than a decade (the support will waver in that time, and the enemy is strong). Altering the practice so that it can no longer be corrupted will take a long time, and is by no means as simplistic a task as you make it out to be. Bear in mind that every government that has ever been created has eventually tended to corruption.

That is not to say that we can’t do better, but a much more substantive debate is required. Also, it is likely better to remove the corrupting elements before beginning on that debate, such that we can ensure we don’t create vulnerabilities by over-reacting to the problems in the current system.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Enough!!!

Crafting, passing, and upholding laws is a waste of time. Laws don’t solve problems. They are completely ineffective in solving the problems they are applied to. Yes, I said completely ineffective, because they don’t solve problems, they respond to them. Laws do one thing, they say what you can or cannot do and what consequences are assigned if you violate those laws. That doesn’t solve anything, it just tries to make people behave in a certain way out of fear of punishment. What good is a law after someone has already violated it? The damage is done, thus the law didn’t solve the problem. The law is only effective to the point that people fear to lose something as a consequence. When people feel they have nothing left to lose, that law is about as worthless as the paper it was written on.

So, the real solution is to find a way to make it so that people don’t feel the need to do things that would violate the laws we currently have. Traffic law is intended to prevent accidents. Solution: reform the transportation system so accident can’t happen. Laws against theft are intended to prevent people from taking things from others. Solution: provide people with that which they need so that they don’t feel forced to take what others have to get what they need. Laws tend to only apply to the symptoms of a problem rather than the cause. Solve the underlying cause and the symptoms go away. People won’t steal if they don’t have any reason to. There won’t be any accidents if there is no possibility of collision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Enough!!!

I disagree laws have still their place inside our society, we get angry at bad laws but there are good ones, do you not want murderers to go to jail? do you want mobs in the streets lynching people because of hearsay?

We need some rules and those are put in from society to society in the form of laws, what we don’t need is a small group of people making all the decisions for everybody else, we need to start building consensus on what we want and start the process of learning how to do that in a large scale, not by imposition of a minority.

Laws are not something that you can make it go away easily, do you have a proposal that would transform society and make it function that is better than what we got today?

Everybody trying to do their own thing doesn’t work, some people like to kill others, some people like to take things from others, how do you propose we deal with that do you have anything that can stop one person from killing another over and over and over again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Enough!!!

Greevar your post is interesting but I feel you underestimate human nature.

Some people steel because they have too.
Some people steel to impress their peers.

Some people are not happy having what they need, that want to have more their their neighbour so they can feel like they are better.

Solving bad behaviours is quite complex.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Enough!!!

Everything but impressing your peers could be solved with finding technology to provide everything they need so that they don’t feel like they have to “keep up” with the neighbors. The solutions are out there, we just don’t bother to seek out answers because we think laws are the solution.

The rest needs to be dealt with by teaching the next generation that materialism is a poor way to live. Explain how it has negatively impacted society and how it drives people to do some pretty terrible things. We need to learn to not seek the possession of things to define us, but do it through constantly improving ourselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Other methods, targeting users instead of suppliers”

Targeting users did not result in decreased demand either for drugs or piracy.

It forced users into hiding, making it difficult to quantify the extent of the “problem”(in quotes because the problem is defined by someone as such not if it is a real problem).

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

I have a feeling this was directed at one of my postings. I do not really support targeting users and targeting users whole-sale is not a valid solution. The solution of something like medicinal marijuana laws would make it harder to purchase from the demand side, leading to a lessening in demand.

This is far better than attempting to target suppliers, though by no means perfect. Later in that paragraph I pointed out that one of the key problems still remains if systems that target users.

In other words, the best solution is legalization with an emphasis on teaching (though the instruction must be truthful). This allows the person in question to make an informed decision about what they are willing to trade for the highs the drugs provide.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

War on drugs

The comment “The so-called war on drugs is a joke. A sick, sad, stupid joke. It didn’t get rid of drugs, it didn’t reduce drug use, or drug smuggling, or drug violence, or drug related deaths. It didn’t, in fact, do a damned thing. All it does is keep a lot of law enforcement types employed chasing their tails.” overlooks the fact that, like Prohibition, stupid, meaningless “wars” like this greatly reduce the prestige of government.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

We start with the new research report from Floor64, The Sky Is Rising. While regular readers here were not surprised at the results, my first thought was how to get big content business to read and, more importantly, understand the salient points put forth.

Big Content businesses already know all of this stuff. That’s what has them terrified, because there are no over-the-moon profits for gatekeepers in the new scheme of things.

No, the people who need to see it are the people Big Content keeps duping with their bogus claims that the sky is falling. Public servants and opinion-makers, mostly.

Cowardly Anonymous says:


His request was not formed as best as it could be, but was obviously a request for either clarification or substantiation of an ambiguous claim. You use the words “almost always” to allow you to evade counter examples and shift the burden of proof so that you need not substantiate your claim that there are legal alternatives available to pirates.

The fact remains that there are cases where legal alternatives are not available when there are distributors willing to make something available. Without these distributors, there could be no piracy. These distributors are blocked by copyright, and these cases provide direct empirical evidence of harm that would be caused by copyright law if piracy didn’t bypass it.

As such, the statement of “almost always” is intended to dismiss that harm. This is made obvious by your later post which takes a dismissive tone when asked to address the cases not covered by this statement.

What is asked of you is to substantiate the claim that the examples of piracy where there are not legal options is so rare that they can be dismissed. Here, the burden of proof is on you as it is your assertion that has been called into question.

Anonymous Coward says:


Care to name a few differences, because I can’t see it at the basic level they are one and the same, were it differs is the scope of it, in open source projects to have a majority you really need a majority to adopt something and it needs to be tested and validated by everyone in it or it won’t make it through the process, there are more eyeballs involved, there are more work and research done.

Your definition of Majority seems to be that 100% of people need to agree to something. My proposal is that a majority high enough to enforce their will upon the minority left is enough. We do today have the case of a minority dictating to the majority what they should do and that is not democracy, worse those people entrusted to look after the interests of whom they are supposed to represent don’t care or read about the issues apparently that is no way to do politics specially for things that are important and will affect everyone, I trust that a larger sample of the population being able to influence the outcome of laws will for the most part reach a moderate instance just because the things that we agree on are very basic, we all agree that murderers should be put in jail, we all agree that rapists should be punished, we all can agree that we need some rules that everybody can fallow and the political process should be a learning moment to understand why such things are necessary so everyone can see why things are done and why they should do it that way, the people who saw something that needs change also need to learn to communicate and not get powers to force others to change, they need to be able to show others how he reached such an idea and why and if people chose to test those concepts they should end up with the same results and conclusions that he did, to encourage that you need people to engage on those things, it is not ok to have dumb politicians, but it is also not ok to have people just delegate the power to others and complain after that things didn’t turn out ok.

The political process today results in a minority telling others what to do, they debate and keep the public in the dark and end up with paths that no others would take and those that govern even refuse to show how they arrived at the conclusions they reached that can’t be right, there is a better way and one thing open source showed is that you can have open governance and make it work, aside from being about software the political structure of it is just like any other political system in the world, it has people, and people decide on the directions they want to go, but you are not stuck with one guy for the duration of it, you can change course at any time and chose others to lead, you can reverse course more easily and you can’t hijack the system as easily anybody who tried to impose their will on a community was abandoned, every project that tried to control it was forked and forgotten so it is a more resilient system against corruption.

Also almost all the tools programmers use lawyers can use too, writing code is writing text and laws are text, you can get a historic of all the changes to a piece of text you can compare it to others and you can modify and show it to others if others agree they will put your changes in their copies of the text.

So again where is the bad differences? The ones that make you not think it can be done, because the way I see it, that process is superior to the current political process in place.

Anonymous Coward says:


Just out of curiosity do you believe someone who murders another person should be free to try again and murder somebody else?

I love the idea of a society without any laws, by I do recognized the need to have some today until the day we can find a way to live without them, that is what the political process and the creation of laws should be all about, the constant search for better ways to do things.

What are the rules to make it happen, what are the constants that make that kind of society happen and function?

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