Copyright Maximalists Try To Regroup And Figure Out How To 'Fight Back' Against The Public

from the that's-not-going-to-go-over-too-well dept

One of the more stunning things about the defeat of SOPA/PIPA and what appears to be the likely defeat of ACTA, is how the traditional copyright maximalists still haven’t figured out what has happened or what it means. It seems positively unfathomable to them that the public got fed up with their shenanigans and said “enough is enough.” That’s why their first reaction was to blame companies and lobbyists — because that’s the only way they function. Now they’re trying to figure out how to fight back.

Last week, at the Fordham IP conference, which is a yearly gathering of mostly IP-maximalists, it seems that this attitude was on display in full force. Rebecca Tushnet’s recap of some of the sessions is really quite stunning — including a comment from a Fordham professor who apparently claimed that democracy was a bad thing because the public went against strict IP rights. As Tushnet noted:

Hugh Hansen suggesting that democracy was a really bad thing because citizens think short term and elites give us rights, and that’s why IP can only be protected without democracy, or as he put it, with “filters.” (If by “us” you mean white men holding property. I do not believe I am exaggerating: he pointed to revolutionary Virginia as the great model for providing rights and the rest of American history as decline as things were turned over to the greedy proles. I obviously beg to differ, and this November the Commonwealth will indeed let me vote. I understand that Hansen likes to provoke, but the ugliness of his claims should not go unremarked.)

Of course, this kind of elitist attitude seemed to permeate the event. Jamie Love alerted us to the news that European IP professor Mihaly Fiscor compared ACTA protests to Nazi rallies — thus invoking Godwin’s Law and ensuring that any reasoned debate will not be allowed.

One thing became clear: there is not even the slightest concern that perhaps the public has a point. No, sir. It must be that they’re too clueless or uninformed to know what’s best for them. Back in Tushnet’s post above, she describes how Steve Metalitz — a maximalist lawyer whose fingerprints appear on lots of ridiculous proposals, including ACTA — said that the problem is that people don’t know enough to know that they have to respect copyright for our own economic well-being. Hugh Hansen, the same guy who is apparently anti-democracy, went with the old trope that should automatically disqualify you from being taken seriously in these debates, by saying that “consumers will only be moral if they’re taught that copying is wrong. Copying is just like shoplifting.” The thing is, that line has been “copied” so many times, I guess we can conclude that Hugh Hansen is one immoral bastard. Of course, reality tells us that copying is nothing like shoplifting. But, I guess, if you want to close off any real conversation, you toss out ridiculous statements that are so laughable that no one takes you seriously.

Even David Kappos, the head of the US Patent Office — and someone who should know better — made a condescending comment about how “the adults in the room know” that everyone has to pay up for patent, or they’re going to get sued. As Tushnet notes in response, things change once the people realize that the system is broken:

I couldn’t help but think in response to Kappos about what a lawyer might have said pre-NYT v. Sullivan etc.: “the adults in the room know that if you say negative things about public officials you’re going to get sued.” Sounds sort of like wisdom, but this conference isn’t just practice pointers, or at least I hope it isn’t; maybe it’s an adult thing to give up on a better world, but I don’t think so.

Of course, it doesn’t stop at just this one event. When I was in London last week, I learned of meeting to figure out how to respond to the “unprecedented attacks on IP rights.” In the article about it, they highlight all of the awful things that the darn public has done lately:

Already this year, we have seen the blackout of websitesincluding Wikipedia that led to the shelving of the SOPA and PIPA legislation in the United States, and an organised attack on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in Europe, which has led to a delay in ratification and its possible abandonment.

In India, organisations like UNITAID haveprotested efforts to strengthen patent protection through free trade agreements, arguing they threaten affordable access to medicines in developing nations.

The panelists will discuss why IP owners, governments and others involved in the IP system need to address the more active and organised voices in civil society with communication, case studies and events.

Once again, it’s not even considered possible that all of these actions were because of legitimate complaints. There isn’t even the suggestion that perhaps some of this push back was due to massive and sustained overreach from the maximalists. Nope. It’s all those stupid people in the public who need to be told by “the adults in the room” what’s best for them, and any of their voices need to be “countered.”

Either way, one thing seems clear: the usual maximalists aren’t about to stop pushing for maximalism and actually listen to the concerns of the public. Instead, they’re about to go on the offensive, looking to tar and feather those who bring actual facts and evidence to the table.

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Comments on “Copyright Maximalists Try To Regroup And Figure Out How To 'Fight Back' Against The Public”

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TasMot (profile) says:

Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

The constitution give Congress the power to pass such laws as “Promote the Progress” by granting limited monopolies to authors and inventors. Lets counter the maximalist arguments by proposing that since the system is broken, let’s take away the government granted monopolies and start over and find a better way to promote the progress that doesn’t make almost every citizen a criminal (including many IP rights holders and politicians).

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

You could make a good start by ceasing to rubber stamp the belief that The Constitution empowered Congress to grant monopolies such as copyright and patent. As much as Madison may have wanted it to, it didn’t. It only empowered Congress to secure the individual’s exclusive right to their writings and inventions.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Statute of Anne (copied as the US Copyright Act, 1790 – see ) granted a privilege. It did not secure the unalienable right of an individual. See Paine: Human rights originate in Nature, thus, rights cannot be granted via political charter, because that implies that rights are legally revocable, hence, would be privileges:

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect ? that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few… They… consequently are instruments of injustice.

The debate should be whether you abolish government, or just the anachronistic and unethical privileges granted in a less humane era (? 1709 by Queen Anne, and ? 1790 by Congress).

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

That’s great for an abstract conversation about the nature of rights vs. privileges or privileges that we call rights in common parlance or official documents or privileges that have become treated as rights in practice, but regardless of what you or I think on that matter, you won’t be effective in fighting IP maximalists simply by providing them that information or your arguments. IP maximalists will laugh at you and leave for their lobbyist’s luncheon with your senator.

We need leverage to fight back.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

Yes, IP Maximalists will laugh – they are incorrigible. However, we shouldn’t waste our breath fighting Maximalists. We should be educating each other, and letting the people see that copyright is an instrument of injustice.

Just as with slavery, people need to understand that such injustice is not necessary to produce cotton for their clothes, nor food for their tables, nor must people sacrifice their liberty that musicians may make music or that storytellers may write stories. The confiscation of our liberty is necessary only for the cartel’s monopolies. To persuade a man to collect cotton, or a musician to make music, it is sufficient to pay them an equitable amount of money. See Kickstarter for a glimpse of how a musician’s fans can exchange their money for the musician’s music (without having to exploit or enforce an anachronistic and unethical 18th century monopoly).

People need to see the injustice of copyright (Richard O’Dwyer et al) and that it is necessary only to publishing corporations – not artists.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

If we are going to ignore the topic of my post and mince the words, please explain in detail the difference between the word I used “monopoly” and your phrase “the individual’s exclusive right”. In the broad sense, they mean the same to me. I’m not a lawyer so there may be some legal wiggling that can be applied. But, to me, a monopoly is an exclusive right. Please educate me what the difference is that you are seeing. Thanks. Then we can continue the discussion.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

OK, a little further. You ignored my request and pointed me to an article that furthers my point, I quote:

So, what is copyright?
What we call ?copyright? is an 18th century privilege.

Copyright according to the definition you referred to is a privilege.

Your very first paragraph contains a mistake. Again according to the defintion you referred to the constitution recognizes our inalienable “rights” as follows:

We, the people, create law to recognise our rights, and create and empower a government to secure them.

What are our rights?
Rights are the vital powers of all human beings.
We have rights to life, privacy, truth, and liberty.

It does not recocognize the privilege of “copyright” as a right. It allows Congress to grant a monopoly to the authors and inventors to the fruits of their labors for a limited time. Your reference seems to prove my point.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

It allows Congress to grant a monopoly to the authors and inventors to the fruits of their labors for a limited time.

Yes, a lot of people have been brainwashed to believe this – that because Congress did grant copyright, that therefore it must have been empowered by the people in The Constitution to grant this privilege… empowered by the people to secure their liberty – and then immediately abridge it in the state’s interest.

It takes programming, bordering upon hypnosis, to read “secure the exclusive right” as “grant copyright” or “annul the right to copy in the majority to leave it in the hands of the few”.

Check out for some background reading with respect to monopolies and The Constitution. From that you should see why it is essential to understand the difference between a natural right to be secured and a privilege/monopoly granted by the state.

That Madison wanted to grant copyright is beside the point. The point is, he could only insert a clause that empowered Congress to secure a right. If he’d written the clause to empower Congress to grant the monopolies of copyright and patent it would have been struck out – or the Constitution would not have been ratified. Only after ratification did he /Congress legislate the Statute of Anne as a fait accompli.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

OK, so you aren’t going to answer any question or respond to the points I made, you are just going to go off on another diatribe full of snide remarks. And to top it off, you are going to ignore that the reference source you supplied disagrees with you 100%. But, I will try one more time to turn this into a discussion and away from a RANT.

The natural rights as enumerated in the The Declaration of Independence, as explained in your reference source, and in my quote above are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Please see here and read the full context of the second paragraph: You are going to need another reference that will conclusively prove that copyright is a natural right but was not important enough to include with “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” but you get to say that it is. Oh, by the way, since you referenced in your first post, you will also now need to disprove what they said in that reference because it disagrees with you wholeheartedly. Copyright is not a “natural right”, it is state granted. It says so right in the Constitution and it says so in your reference. Please go re-read it until you understand that.

Further, since it state granted by the Constitution in order to “Promote the Progress of the Arts”, it can certainly be abridged again. Just as it has been extended from the original 14+14 year to life of the author plus 50 years (and if you could also give a good explanation of how a dead author/inventor is incented to create anything more it would be extremely helpful to the rest of us). The whole purpose of copyright was not in the state’s or artist/inventor’s interest, it was in the interest of the public. The current form of copyright will prevent any new works from entering the public domain for another 60 years, that is not in the public’s interest at all. So, please stop ranting and start explaining.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

1. The D of I is not a part of our system of law. The truth be know, it is primarily a letter to the King informing he is a tyrant and should pound sand when it comes to the 13 colonies.

2. Property is not a natural right. It too is a grant by operation of law, a legal construct, and by no means is that right perpetual and inviolate.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history.” The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

So, if you want to understand the meaning of the Progress clause, this is a good place to start.

As to property, privacy is a natural right (the individual’s innate power to exclude others from the spaces they inhabit and the objects they possess) and it is from privacy that possessions and thence property derives. We are at liberty to exchange our possessions, and the truth of our exchanges establishes the transfer of title.

Of course there are some things decreed to be property that are not naturally so, e.g. radio frequencies. However, this does not invalidate the natural rights of the matter.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's really strive for IP Minimalism

There’s not a lot of wiggle room between “monopoly” and “the individual’s exclusive right”. As used by IP extremists they mean exactly the same thing.

Though in intent and practice copyright and patents conferred a privilege of exclusivity for a a short period of time, not a right. The word right entered into the discussion in the early part of the 19th Century on both sides of the Atlantic as an IP maximalist move by publishers to convince authors and inventors that the privilege of exclusivity was, in fact a right and there to ensure that authors and inventors could make money (actually the publishers could) in a very successful propaganda campaign.

The difference is that rights are inherent and present from birth till death. In short there’s no expiration date. As copyright and patents both have expiration dates they are then a grant of privilege. Never mind for a moment the insane length of copyright these days.

In the United States both are intended to expand the useful arts and sciences not limit either which is how maximalists view them both. As property and therefore with boundaries.

In the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth the meaning of copyright was to enhance and expand education, another way of saying “useful arts and sciences”. Patent law was intended to reduce or eliminate trade secrets which interfered with the rapid change brought on by the Industrial Revolution and needed by it. Again, another way of saying “useful arts and sciences”.

Until the last third of the 20th Century the notion of either copyright or patent was “intellectual property” would have been laughed at followed by a puzzled look and the question “what to you mean?” As the intent of neither copyright or patents were to award property rights as it’s understood with real property, possessions or your cat/dog the expression was meaningless. IP Maximalist’s have been slaving away for half a century to pretend that the grant of a temporary “privilege” is the same as a grant of property rights, absurd as it is.

Assuming that they are a grant of property rights cancels out their original purpose in England and as declared in the United States Constitution. It allows for the kind of silliness we see far too much of these days complete with claims that the grant of exclusivity is a natural right and ought to be put on the same ground and the right of free speech. Which, as I said, is absurd.

The legal system is trapped in narrow views of both as they applied, very well, 40 years ago. Let’s say pre-1881 when the IBM PC appeared and made desktop computing respectable, followed by the birth of the World Wide Web in 1992, followed by the rapid expansion of “broadband” home connections to the Internet and the Web in the late 1990 and continues to this day, though mostly in remote regions and the third world. The first world is now at saturation level.

The HTML and associated protocols made information available in quick and,. often(!) readable forms as documents linked up to each other as projects like search engines appeared so you had a chance to find things. HTML and the Web changed users from passive consumers of data an information to authors and researchers and creators in their own right. This scares the hell out of IP maximalists who, once they figured this out, have been champing at the bit ever since to tighten laws around so-called intellectual property, as they invented a thing called piracy and then plead poverty or potential poverty while still pulling in record profits as a result.

(Something only politicians with their hands out for donations would believe.)

Your term “monopoly” is the correct one even if there is no difference between monopoly and “the individual’s exclusive [privilege]” granted by copyright and/or patent in practice, or in law. But monopoly, copyright and patent are granted privileges they are not natural rights or rights in any form.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I have an idea that will fix everything

The Spork:
“Give me a shotgun and I will travel the world, killing the Lex Luthor’s of IP maximalism.”

Lobo Santo:
“You’ll need more than just one guy to do that…
You have my axe.”

Anonymous Coward:
“And my bow.”

And my boats

Ay….(all together now)….the king of the north! (cheers)

bob (profile) says:

Legitimate complaints?

All of the blackened websites proclaimed that SOPA would censor the Internet, an intellectually bankrupt idea that’s insulting. By that argument, ANY LAW censors people when it puts them in jail because they can’t exercise their first amendment right to peaceably assemble. So let’s get rid of all of these laws.

Or how about how the EFF refers to anyone wielding a copyright as a “troll”? That’s legit?

Or how about your way of calling someone a maximalist just for not agreeing with your Big Search enriching game of IP anarchy? I bet 100% of the folks at this conference are perfectly okay with grey area behavior like sharing newspapers or libraries, yet you start tarring them with slanted terms.

So what are these legitimate complaints? Why don’t you list them instead of shaking your fist again to do more astroturfing for those anti-democratic billionaires at Big Search.

The anti-boB says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

“an intellectually bankrupt idea” Well you are the resident expert on spewing intellectually bankrupt ideas, but are incorrect in your ASSumption.

“EFF refers to anyone wielding a copyright” boB, you are so full of shit.

“I bet 100% of the folks” And you would lose, AGAIN, and AGAIN, as you always do.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

On the other hand, at least it’s not some drivel like “you crazy and stupid Mike, shutup!” (or some such garbage).

I appreciate a shill who can take the time to have some pride in well crafted shifty arguments–and even moreso those who can convince you they do indeed believe such outright ludicrous notions.

Now then, let’s give the man some dephlogisticated air and let him spew forth his message across the aether!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

I don’t think it’s quite fair to call bob a shill (or a troll for that matter.) His arguments may be lame and poorly supported but at least the tries to make them (Trolls don’t make arguments. They just spout offensive crap.) however they are so poorly conceived and executed that I doubt very seriously that even the RIAA and MPAA would pay for him to put them out there. What’s left? He’s just a blind idiot who buys their BS and desperately tries to defend it.

If bob REALLY wants to be a shill and get paid, maybe he should brush up on the refresher course we gave in Mike’s weekly report on Sunday. Time to go study and practice, bob.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

On the other hand, at least it’s not some drivel like “you crazy and stupid Mike, shutup!” (or some such garbage).

I agree wholeheartedly with your entire comment. Bob, while usually daffy and skilled at misrepresenting the statements of others, at least has arguments, seems to actually believe them, usually presents them in an understandable manner, and offers more than just personal attacks. I don’t think he’s a troll at all, and I think he actually adds something to our conversations here.

The actual trolls, particularly the recent ones who don’t even bother making any points and just sling nonsensical insults, have a lot to learn from Bob.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

Bob, if copyright law permits imposition of liability for sharing IP among family and friends, it could hardly be more copyright maximalist.

Copyright law is in disrepute for a very good reason: It potentially forbids noncommercial sharing even when the transaction is private.

There are probably millions of copyright infringements taking place among family and friends.

The people has no moral incentive to obey a law making them criminals equal with pirates sharing over the internet.

xebikr (profile) says:

Re: Can you use a different name?

You give Bob’s everywhere a bad one.

The truth is that we’ve already taken back copyright because IP maximalists have abused it for decades(centuries?). We are just now getting around to making those changes a part of law.

It’s the old camel analogy. You know the one. Let a camel stick his nose in your tent and soon you’ll have the whole camel. In this case, it was our idiot elected servants who let the camel in and now the owner of the tent is using a stick to beat it back outside again.

Stop whining. It’s your own fault. Stay out of my tent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

Didn’t that happened sometime ago in… Belgium I think? When volunteers reading for groups of children were called copyright infringers and the local copyright group actually went after them requiring a license for public execution of work?

And as far as I remember, when the first public libraries showed up in England, the ones who benefited from the government monopoly on book publishing actually went after the government asking them to ban libraries.

Thankfully, politicians at the time were not idiot enough to be carried away by their faulty arguments.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

All of the blackened websites proclaimed that SOPA would censor the Internet, an intellectually bankrupt idea that’s insulting. By that argument, ANY LAW censors people when it puts them in jail because they can’t exercise their first amendment right to peaceably assemble. So let’s get rid of all of these laws.

Why is that an intellectually bankrupt idea? Instead of attempting to goad Mike into a fight, why don;t you actually put forth some evidence to your claims? I won’t expect a response, because all you want to do is coax Masnick into an online word brawl like a 13 year old kid, instead of actually debating things on level ground.

By the way, they were not saying that SOPA “would” censor the internet, they were saying it “could.” The law itself is broad enough to be abused to accomplish just that.

I think it’s also hilarious you call out Mike for not listing his complaints, when you can’t even put forth a valid argument to support your own point. I guess we shouldn’t expect that of you…you know to think and formulate instead of sit on the sidelines and call fouls.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

oh please. It’s an established fact that Google used lies and fear tactics to induce people into protesting SOPA.

Established in your mind, maybe, but not in anyone elses. Google arrived to the game late, as has been pointed out many times in the past, and had little if anything to do with the uproar. If you want someone to blame, it was Wikipedia and Reddit, and neither are owned by or have much to do with Google.

But again, you have your facts and the rest of the world has it’s own. Feel free to avoid letting reality enter into your fantasy.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

It’s an established fact that Google used lies and fear tactics to induce people into protesting SOPA.

Wait, what? I’ve heard people offering the opinion that Google used lies and fear tactics, but as of yet nobody has actually pointed out any of these “lies”. This seems far from being an established fact.

If it’s so established, then please offer the evidence for supporting the assertion. It should be easy to do.

Also, I have to address the insinuation that Google was some kind of instigator in the protest. They weren’t. Google was dragged, late and not entirely willing, into their position by the popular outcry.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Legitimate complaints?

The Google part of that particular falsehood stems from the fact that these morons seem to think that any widespread opinion on tech matters must come from Google to fit some kind of agenda they have. So, the mere fact that they were involved in any way somehow means they orchestrated it from the ground up, even though they clearly weren’t involved for a long time. By scapegoating Google, they can pretend that there weren’t genuine objections and so they can ignore them and stick to their preferred narratives.

The “lies and fear” part seems to stem from the fact that people were looking at how these laws could be used as written, rather than how the maximalists originally intended them to be used. The fact that there were widespread unintended consequences and highly dangerous attacks on free speech are ignored, since they are either too technically clueless to notice them or blind to how broad the law was as written. Add that to the fact that some protests were based on the original document drafted in secret, rather than the amended document offered as a half-assed peace offering at the time, and they pretend that these are “lies” rather than fact.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Legitimate complaints?

The Google part of that particular falsehood stems from the fact that these morons seem to think that any widespread opinion on tech matters must come from Google to fit some kind of agenda they have.

Thanks PaulT, I was thinking the same thing myself, but you did a pretty good job summing it up.

The “lies and fear” part seems to stem from the fact that people were looking at how these laws could be used as written, rather than how the maximalists originally intended them to be used.

This has always been what bothered me about the letter-of-the-law vs. spirit-of-the-law debate. The whole fact that we base our laws on what we think the people who made the law were thinking leaves a big gray area when it comes to morality laws like this. When it is a law about running a stoplight, anyone who looks at the law knows exactly what the person was thinking when they made that law. It is a safety issue…if someone runs a red light, other people who are travelling through the intersection on a green light are put in danger. However, in the case of SOPA, it is really difficult to know what it is that the author was thinking when they wrote the law, other than protecting the profits of publishers and the middlemen because they gave the author some dough in exchange. It isn’t that it is difficult to understand, but that it is difficult to believe that when a judge and jury gets ahold of this…that they may not go a different way. Too many variables.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Legitimate complaints?

only as far as it pushes their point of view and or agenda

EFF has nothing to do with copyleft, though they have been involved in lawsuits about violations of the GPL. Copyleft is pretty much a Richard Stallman thing. And as Stallman has said, if copyright didn’t exist for software, neither would copyleft. Fairusefriendly is right, the only time folks have been sued for violating copyleft, it is because they took GPL works and modified and distributed them without releasing the source (as required by GPL.) Thus, copyleft is using copyrights to keep the content freely accessible.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

So, bob, 912 failed arguments from you?

If “Big Search” (as your failed argument contends) is anti-democratic, what’s that say about the MPAA and RIAA, who BUY laws?

Corporations running the government is known as Fascism.

And as long as Astroturfing from big media continues, the United States will descend into Fascism.

Regardless of what you think about copyright, bob, that’s something that none of us want.

ToFit says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

You are using my oxygen. Please eliminate the use of my oxygen in your lungs becasue you are infringing on my property rights….

Some things just make sense to share in this world. A basic tenet should always be- if an idea makes sense to someone in kindergarden, then why shouldn’t the same principle of sharing make sense as an adult.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

Just out of interest, are you aware of the scandal of the Belgian IP collection agency, SABAM, trying to squeeze money out of library volunteers reading books to kids?

SABAM is spending time and resources to contact local libraries across the nation, warning them that they will start charging fees because the libraries engage volunteers to read books to kids.

Volunteers. Who ? again ? READ BOOKS TO KIDS.

That’s. The. Problem.

Oh, and don’t forget the attempted shakedown of Google and Yahoo for publishing news snippets:

Last year, the Belgian courts decided that Google was infringing on newspapers’ copyrights just by linking to stories. Google was ordered to remove those links, at which point the newspapers started whining about “harsh retaliation” — even though it was the court’s decision, not Google’s, and it was the newspapers’ legal action that brought this about.

Sadly, the German government doesn’t seem to have been paying attention to that rather ridiculous saga — or maybe simply doesn’t care — and has just announced that it will bring in a compulsory licensing scheme for the use of even “small parts” of journalistic articles on commercial sites (original German).

If that went through, you know your RSS feed? Assuming you have one on Netvibes or Google Reader, that is. Basically, you’d have to pay to use it. That’s the problem.

The system was meant to help with education, now it’s all about teaching us to accept being charged for the same thing over and over again. The only people who benefit from copyright are the people who own it, and that’s not always the authors.

I’m sick of being lied to, sick of being lectured by people who think I’m a criminal idiot, and sick of being told I have to accept this. I don’t want to.

No legislation without representation!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Legitimate complaints?

>Or how about how the EFF refers to anyone wielding a copyright as a “troll”? That’s legit?

See, bob, this is why you make it so easy for people to make fun of you.

You actually think the likes of John Steele, Evan Stone and Terik Hashmi as not trolls.

bob (profile) says:

Big Search is the anti-democratic evildoer here

BTW, Mike, what do you think of the way they’re diluting the shares to destroy corporate democracy? I’m waiting for your wonderful rationalization about how this too is really something unevil that’s being done for the people by the benevolent elite.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Big Search is the anti-democratic evildoer here

I’m not a shareholder of Google. I honestly couldn’t care less what Google does with their stock. Their shareholders might not like it. If so, they can all sell their stock and invest their money somewhere else.

I am a citizen of the United States and a member of the human race. I care deeply about laws that effect me as a citizen and mankind generally. When my government does something stupid, it is difficult to just up and leave my country, and it’s darn near impossible to leave the world.

The Google board can do what they want to eliminate democracy in their shareholder meetings. It causes a bit of a pain for the few who cared. Your corporate masters trying to eliminate democracy in my country, though, is an entirely different matter. No one will die because Page, Brin, and Schmidt get decide how to lead Google. Lots of people will die because we give monopolies to drug companies to extract high prices out of dying people. No one will be censored because it’s slightly more difficult for Goldman Sachs to get its way in Google shareholder votes. Lots of people are and will be censored if the MPAA and RIAA had their way in twisting the laws of every country around them.

If you have a problem with Google, by all means let the world know. But when you try to equate Google’s share dilution plans to the sickening reduction in rights of all mankind in exchange for slightly more obscene profits proposed by copyright maximalists, I will stand here and tell you simply and succinctly: go to hell.

The anti-boB says:

Re: Big Search is the anti-democratic evildoer here

Do you even read your own links:

“Perhaps it?s not surprising that Google?s shareholders aren?t up in arms, considering that when Google went public in 2004, the founders made it very clear that, through a dual-class share structure, they intended to maintain control of the company.”

“To its credit, Google has been upfront about its plan. ?We recognize that some people, particularly those who opposed this structure at the start, won?t support this change ? and we understand that other companies have been very successful with more traditional governance models,? Mr. Page and Mr. Brin wrote. ?But after careful consideration with our board of directors, we have decided that maintaining this founder-led approach is in the best interests of Google, our shareholders and our users.?”

Dont like it? Dont buy shares and dont use any of their services.

I bet you found that story through Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A copyright maximalist is a person who believes that copyright law should only be modified in one direction — more to the benefit of copyright interests.

Or, in another way, that the best “compromise” in copyright law is the one that extends the maximum benefit to copyright interests, even to the detriment of all other interests or positions.

In my own opinion, I see a copyright maximalist as a person who threatens to poison the town’s well if they won’t allow him to charge people for the water within.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

None of the comments here really answer the question I posed to the author of this article.

There is a broad spectrum of people who, for whatever their reasons, do support copyright law, including all of the academics who regularly rail whenever copyright legislation moves in a direction with which they happen to disagree.

Certainly not everyone who may support some form of copyright law are “copyright maximalists”. Thus, there must be a set of specific criteria by which “copyright maximalists” are distinguished from all others.

I happen to believe that copyright law can be quite beneficial. At the same time I believe that by joining Berne the US was required to change its laws to reflect the historic European model (long terms, no formalities, etc.), and that doing so was a mistake. Whatever its weaknesses, I believe that the 1909 act was much more aligned with the original Copyright Act of 1790. In stark contrast is patent law, which even as it exists today follows the general outline of the original Patent Act of 1790.

Certainly, I do not see my views as being those of a “copyright maximalist”. Hence my original question.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Except the law ALWAYS favors stronger copyright protections. When has the law ever lessened copyright restrictions, at least in the last 40 years?

And I don’t think the copyright maximalist is interested in more creative output (thanks to the internet, we’re all drowning in a sea of creative output). They are only interested in profiting financially from that creative output, or in controlling access to that creative output. They think stricter laws will give them more money and more control.


Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The term is pretty self explanatory really. That’s a nice benefit of the English language. You can invent new words that are very descriptive.

Copyright Maximalists are those that seek to expand (or maximize) the scope and reach of copyright law while trampling the rights of the individual.

It’s funny that you would get your panties in a bunch over a fairly neutral descriptive term. Given your reaction, you would think that we were using terms like Robber Baron or Troll.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Certainly not everyone who may support some form of copyright law are “copyright maximalists”. Thus, there must be a set of specific criteria by which “copyright maximalists” are distinguished from all others.

Simple. When they look at economic data showing that copyright has not caused increased output, they fight on the moral level.

When the fight moves away from the moral aspects of copyright, they push for ex post facto laws (what was once legal is now illegal) that criminalize the behaviors of the populace.

And when they are faced with public opposition for the first time in 3 decades, they blame one entity for all of their problems. (Google)

Those typify the maximalist position.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:41am

Hmm. Yet I don’t see you telling anyone or pointing out how the continuing use of “freetards”, “pirates”, or “thieves” is ALSO wearing thin.

I think it’s rather obvious what a copyright maximalist is. A person who seeks to enforce and protect their copyright and broaden the scope of copyright using any means necessary up to and including severely restricting the general rights of all human beings, in an effort to maximize profits while barely caring for “promoting the progress of science and the arts”.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Your continuing use of the term “copyright maximalists” is well beyond the point of wearing thin.”

Not half as bad as the use of “pirate” or the utterly false “thief” by the ACs here.

OK, so which term would you rather we use? The term is rather simple, and obvious. A copyright minimalist would be somebody who wishes to reduce copyright to the minimum acceptable length and reduce its scope as much as possible. A copyright maximalist seeks to expand the scope of copyright and enforce it to its maximum limit – as we have seen repeatedly done over the last few decades.

Explain, why is the latter term not applicable to those its used against? If it is applicable, why should it not be used as the descriptive term it is?

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Huh? You have to articulate somehow, and “copyright maximalist” is a completely acurate and not at all sensationalist way to describe those who have been pushing for more copyright… It’s not like he is going list off all the parties who are pushing for more copyright every time you need to reference one of their colaborative arguments… I really don’t see what your complaint is.

Ed C. says:


The panelists will discuss why IP owners, governments and others involved in the IP system need to address the more active and organised voices in civil society with communication, case studies and events.

What I think is quite telling about the copyright debates is that it’s entirely framed as “us” vs. “them”. The IP owners, governments and “others involved in the IP system” vs. the public. First, the “IP owners” in these debates are largely publishers and patent hoarders, not the actual creators and inventors. Those owners’ only real interest is protecting profits–not the creators and inventors, and certainly not the public. Second, the governments should NOT even be on one side or the other. No measure of rational debate is possible if the ones making the laws pick one side and exclude all others. Third, the “others” camp are members of the public too, though some have forgotten. These ridiculous laws effect them as citizens, and as IP participants. It should surprise no one that more of these “others” are joining the “organized voices” camp.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Earth is Flat

“That’s actually a myth: the only people who thought that were in the Revolution-era”

Not quite. Some people thought the world was on the back of turtle. It was theorized that world was round since the Greeks and through out history their are examples of writers and figure heads expressing this view. However a large part of the uneducated rabble believed all kinds of stupid things.

Some Christian nutbags claimed the earth was flat long after (6th century) every other educated man had moved on, of course because the bible told them so.

So yes Columbus “knew” it but at many times in history all kinds of people believed all kinds of things. Columbus and then Magellan were the first people to provide experiential proof that the world was indeed round.

But you are not wrong that peoples belief in a flat world has been blown out of proportion.


Re: Re: Re:2 The Earth is Flat

Columbus was part of the ruling elite.

What he believed and what his crew of unwashed illiterates believed are two entirely separate things.

I bet you get a lot more creationists among the ranks of the enlisted ranks even today. If this kind of divide exists today, there’s no good reason to expect that it wouldn’t have been worse in the 15th century.

terry says:

"unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

It is of utmost importance to note that the “unprecedented attacks on IP rights” have been entirely in response to “unprecedented attacks on civil rights” done by the whining entertainment industry aided by their lobbyists and “bought and paid for” political puppets.

I have had enough and am about an inch away from boycotting these producers. So far I have continued to purchase my entertainment though as of late I have been aware and favouring the products by companies not trying to control the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

“So far I have continued to purchase my entertainment though as of late I have been aware and favouring the products by companies not trying to control the world.”

I buy entertainment second-hand.
It’s cheaper, and doesn’t benefit the copyright holders (who don’t pay the content creators, anyway.)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

“I buy entertainment second-hand.
It’s cheaper, and doesn’t benefit the copyright holders (who don’t pay the content creators, anyway.)”

Sadly, these same morons are using that as an excuse to try and shut down the second hand market, rather than address the reasons why people want to buy used (and the positive effects resales have on new sales).

Digitari says:

Re: Re: Re: "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

Ummm Movie stars are not content creators, the writers of the Movies are, same for musicians, and singers, not all of them create the songs they sing or the music they play, so what the fuck does that have to do with content creators? silly

I use open source for My Computer, I play open source games, I use open source for word processing.


I’m also a 6’4 210 lbs marathon runner with a black belt in Muay thai, Say it to my Face Bob…..

“Come at me bro”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

To be fair, actors are contributors to the films and musicians that don’t write their own music are still creators as well as they create the recording. Movie studios and record labels that merely front money to have art created so that they can profit from owning it however are not.

And anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a thief. At least that’s what they tell us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

>Yes, that’s why all movie stars and musicians are on foodstamps…

Wait, you mean they’re not?

I thought the whole reason why the RIAA/MPAA have been campaigning for SOPA was precisely to feed the starving artists?

You mean it was all a lie and the industry is NOT dying?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "unprecedented attacks on IP rights."

This is true.

Copyright has been continually expanded since it’s inception to give “artists” more and more perks, while giving nothing back to the public.

They broke their side of the original deal, and now they are surprised and angry that the people are breaking theirs?

kenichi tanaka says:

There’s one thing I’ve discovered about all of this and “Copyright Enforcement” is nothing more than slavery. You have the “white masters” (the music, movies/television and software industry) and then you have the “slaves” (the consumers/customers who purchase their merchandise).

The “masters” spend every waking moment trying to write new laws and force Congress to pass them otherwise they withdraw their campaign contributions. Or they force ISP’s to impose severe restrictions on their own customers/subscribers.

The “masters” then assume every customer who purchases their merchandise is a potential pirate and blatantly accuse every customer or being a potential pirate.

Slavery at its finest. SEE? Slavery still exists.

flubaluba (profile) says:


I am a normal person and i disagree with SOPA and supported the protests that eventually caused it to crash and burn. If some idiot in a suit thinks he can just disregard the call for him and his friends to STFU then he will learn the hard way when he realizes the power he had has been ” shared” with everyone else in the world, every time i share something with a friend now i will think of how i am personally responsible for taking money from his personal bank account, well he thinks i am, and that is good enough for me to do it over and over and over again.

crade (profile) says:

If we don’t know enough, maybe you could help us out by pointing us to clear evidence to back up your claims that doesn’t turn out you just make up or had forged. If the electorate doesn’t understand, you have to show them, otherwise you can move to a dictatorship where you can skip that step and just force them to do it your way when they don’t want to.

Blenster says:

War on Piracy

It occurs to me that those who seek to retain their gatekeeper status in their industries by decrying “piracy” and suing their customers (while often failing them in terms of service) should look to the failing “War on Drugs” that has made our government look so foolish.

It’s pretty clear that the “War on Drugs” is not the best example of government policy but it looks like pure genius stacked against the actions of these desperate gatekeepers struggling to hold onto powers they simply can’t have in this digital age.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: War on Piracy

Every single time I hear a pol say “War on…” I cringe because every single time it’s a largely artificially created, unwinnable “war” the chief effects of which are to remove civil liberties and cost the public coffers hideous amounts of money that could be used for somethign better than giving politicians something to rant about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: War on Piracy

“But you must give up those rights! This is an emergency!! We’re at war here!!! Our whole way of life is at stake!!!! You don’t want the terrorists to win, do you?!!!!!! Or perhaps you’re one of them yourself?!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And so on, staggering from each manufactured crisis to the next…

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Lazy Bastards

Is the content industry really THAT lazy????

There are a number of industries that have been impacted by the free flow of information over the internet. They simply adapt and move forward. Why is it that the content industry is having such a hard time understanding this?

They can push for all the laws they want but they are fighting against their customers. Its a no win situation for them. They can try to fight the global internet and their customers to the death…OR they could adapt their business model to the current realities of technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s see…

They were calling me a thief because I (used to) download movies… so I stopped doing that out of paranoia. Result: I also stopped buying DVDs/BDs, because, as it turned out, I always bought movies that I liked after downloading them. No, I can’t watch them in a theater: I rarely leave my apartment due to health problems.

They were calling me a thief because I ripped my DVDs to my hard drive, so I stopped doing that as well. Result: I stopped buying everything else I could get on DVDs (TV series and such), because I tend to scratch the discs to death in a month or so (again, health problems). I’d rather spend money on something more useful that several copies of the same disc.

Now they’re also calling me uneducated for not supporting their point of view. Considering I’m a creator myself (two children’s books), I find it annoying. I do respect copyrights of other creators, which is why I used to buy all the stuff I could (and did) get for free… that they appear to not really want me to see in the first place? And who really gets the money I pay for it in the end?

Remind me – why do they expect me to give them money?

Ian Brown says:

Mihaly Fiscor

Re: the Nazi analogy from Mihaly Fiscor. He is a former Assistant Director General of WIPO, one of those responsible for the 1996 “Internet treaties” which led to the DMCA and EUCD restrictions on “circumvention” of content controls, whether or not such uses were allowed under copyright law. So, hardly a neutral academic voice.

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