Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the gear-reactions dept

This week, almost all of the top comments came in response to the various posts about our Copying Is Not Theft gear. First, it’s an anonymous commenter who won the top spot on the insightful side by examining the root of the rage that came in response to the shirt:

The problem is…

People assume the statement “Copying is not theft” is akin to saying: “Copying is not wrong”.

What they refuse to see or admit is that theft and copyright infringement are different things – the copyright-maximalist propaganda has done its job well.

It’s all rather sad, really… that people have come to assume that copying is somehow as bad (or worse?) than stealing. It’s almost incomprehensible that we’ve reached this point.

In second place, we’ve got Go5 with a creator’s perspective:

I’m a creator. And I collaborate closely with other creators. Our stuff gets copied all the time.

There’s even one guy who word-for-word, shot-for-shot, copies lots of our content, in Chinese, within hours of release. I appreciate his perseverance. Our stats prove we get more traffic with him than without.

Thanks to the internet, the whole English-speaking world is our market. Copying is what happens when you create in a public arena.

Sometimes it’s flattering, usually it’s just someone trying to cash in. Occasionally there’s a useful insight into our product or process.

Altogether, copying might account for a few bucks of revenue we’d otherwise receive. Is this “stealing?” Nope. First, the copy doesn’t stop anyone from seeing our original, in fact it often drives them to us so we get the revenue (plus SEO) anyway. Second, copies increase the appetite for our work and the venues to promote it, both vastly more valuable than a few extra views.

Creators’ jobs are to be unique and relevant. I’d be worried if we weren’t being copied.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, just for a change of pace and because it fits so well with the last comment, we’re going to grab a comment from our Facebook page, where Dariusz G. Jagielski shared another creator’s perspective:

I am a game developer. Working on my first indie game under nickname of “Darkhog”. I won’t tell you what it is as I don’t want to spam Techdirt. Use google if you want to get to it. It’s on TigForums.

Anyway, the thing is that even though I intend to sell this game, I don’t care about people copying it if they can’t afford it or their stupid government banned it (happened before to totally innocent games such as Pokemon). I don’t intend even to try to “protect” it (as in, putting expensive, invasive, broken already anyway and potentially damaging DRM, a.k.a. Denuvo or any other kind of DRM).

Because DRM is bullshit and copying is not theft. Filesharers who will like it, will buy it, jerks wouldn’t buy it anyway just to spite me and people who can’t buy it because of their financial situation and like it will spread the word about game which will lead to more legitimate sales. Let the games begin.

(If you want to check out his game, you can find it here here.)

Next, we pivot away from the Copying Is Not Theft gear briefly, for a response from Anon E. Mous to AT&T’s attacks on Google Fiber, supposed beneficiary of “government favoritism”:

Gotta love the irony here. We have a AT&T VP criticizing Google for it’s short comings when AT&T’s own failure have been going on for years with failure to deploy and even bring better broadband services to various states.

Meanwhile this AT&T VP is forgetting is they and other providers teamed up to deny Google access to their poles, and have gone to great lengths to get cities, and state governments to pass stautes that would thwart competitiors and limit what municipalities could do on their own to bring a company like Google into build out in their town/city.

So it’s more than a little rich that the AT&T VP is knocking Google when AT&T history isnt exactly a beacon of light. All it shows is how much of an irritant Google was to them in the cities and states where AT&T had to actual do something to compete with another provider.

Not to worry though I am sure AT&T will continue to pillage the consumers pockets while doing the least possible in the way of improvements and satisfying the customer

Over on the funny side, the first place winner is another anonymous commenter, this time with an excellent quip in response to James Comey’s request for an “adult conversation” about encryption:

So, Comey wants an adult conversation. What adult will he choose to represent him in this conversation?

For second place, we return one last time to the Copying Is Not Theft campaign, where aethercowboy zeroed in on the irony of the anger:

I wonder where all these people got the idea that copying was theft. Do you think they came up with that idea on their own?

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with an election debate where the assertion was made that Bush, Obama and both Clintons are “cancers”. Regardless of how you feel about any/all of those politicians, you’ve got to tip your hat to this anonymous response:

That is plainly not true.

Yes, Bush was a Cancer.

But Bill Clinton and Obama were both Leos, and Hillary is a Scorpio.

Finally, after always-on PDF DRM was found screwing over consumers, Underprepared Hiker composed a piece of short fiction:

There I was stranded in the Alaskan wilderness freezing, I managed to gather up some sticks to make a fire but I had no idea how to make a fire.

No big deal I thought and grabbed my smartphone and opened up my copy of “Wilderness Survival Guide” only to be presented with some stupid message about how I had to be on the Internet to read it! I mean WTF, the time I need this e-book the most and it will not open!?!?!?!K!@#

So I yelled as loud as I could “F$*# you DRM!” fortunately some mountain man heard me and guided me to safety.

Thank god my e-book had DRM, without it I’d still be sitting there next to my fire following the books directions of “when lost, stay put, help will come”

Thank you DRM, you saved my life!

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I tend to agree. I do think there are situations in which copying is wrong to varying degrees, though in none of them is it as wrong as theft. Of course, almost all of the situations in which it’s notably wrong are the opposite of the situations that the “copying is theft” rhetoric generally targets (consumers pirating the works of big media companies). Rather, the worst copying is when big media companies use their resources and market reach to copy and capitalize on the works of independent creators, or when they copy things from the public domain then attempt to establish copyright control over them, or when they avail themselves of fair use by copying a clip for commentary/criticism then turn around and issue takedowns not only over further fair use of their clips but even over the original clip they copied.

Of course, none of those forms of copying are theft either — but I do think they are wrong to varying degrees (and in many cases the analogy to theft, while still incorrect, is actually much much closer than with run-of-the-mill piracy).

Daydream says:

Re: Re: Sources?

Can you point to articles about independent creators being copied, public domain works being cloned and wrongfully copyrighted, making false DMCA claims over fair use material they use, et-cetera?

I’m just in a mood to read stories like those and then get all self-righteous about Big Copyright Being Thieves & Stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sources?

I’m just in a mood to read stories like those…

Warner Brothers reports own site as illegal”, BBC, 5 Sep 2016

Film studio Warner Brothers has asked Google to remove its own website from search results, saying it violates copyright laws.

 . . . The self-censorship was first spotted by news blog Torrent Freak . . .

(H/T Ryan Calo retweeting Rebecca Tushnet.)

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Re: Sources?

Sintel comes to mind. The monopolists DMCA’ed the original.

What Sintel is about:

The monopolists also say something is fair use, and then stab creators in the back to steal their money if they consider it “too good”. Axenar comes to mind. And that is even after they throws away the canon themselves.

The monopolists also attacks entire systems where creators can publish without the industries thumb screws. Kim Dotcom and his plan to give almost the entire profit directly to the creators comes to mind, and the monopolists and the US regime did harm.

And take down his album, on his own site

The present copyright system is harmful to creators. And to the populace. And to humanity.

Dingledore the Mildly Uncomfortable When Seated says:

Re: Re: Re:

there are situations in which copying is wrong….though in none of them is it as wrong as theft

I’m confused by that.

Exhibit A: 4 year old steals a lollipop.

Exhibit B: Starving parent steals some bread to feed family

Exhibit C: Multinational copies small developer’s designs, reinterprets old and unrelated patent to cover designs and prevent small developer from selling it.

So A and B are more wrong than C???

Theft is not always wrong. Copying is not always wrong. Doesn’t mean they line up well in a comparison because theft and copying are not the same.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Fair point. Bad phrasing on my part. Hypothetical morals are overly flexible anyway – I’m sure we could invent some sort of trolly problem in which copying ends up being worse than murder, too. Let’s say this: with all other situational ethical factors being the same or very similar, copying is almost never as wrong as theft.

Darkhog says:

Re: Re: I appreciate linking to my RPG Maker project that is on hiatus, but...

Could you please replace the link in the article as well? This is one of these games that need to fly under the radar, it may not look like that at the first glance, but if it would get to the wrong people who actually cared to look into it, I could be in quite bit of a trouble.

I know your stance on stuff like that (and normally would agree with you not doing such thing), but I just don’t want it DMCA’d or worse.

Darkhog says:

Re: I appreciate linking to my RPG Maker project that is on hiatus, but...

Just to be clear: Would never post that link if TD team would link to the proper one in the first place or not linked at all. I don’t like to spam other people’s websites as I’ve said in the comment, but since TD linked to the game that most likely won’t be developed any further for the foreseeable future since I’m set now on a commercial venture (let’s be honest, not many people would buy JRPG these days, especially one made in RPG Maker), I’ve felt like I should correct this mistake.

Yermom (profile) says:

Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

Big TD fan for years. Gotta disagree on this.

Nearly every example given is a tangible item- lollipops for example. But if the expression itself is the item that is copied then copying IS theft. If I write a song or choreograph a dance, by copying you have stolen without taking anything tangible. Wrong/right aside, it is theft. I’m aware of the arguments that ‘recording groups are bad’, ‘copyrights are wrong’, ‘promotion is good at the end’, but I don’t buy it here. If someone else sings my song or dances my dance, then how do you argue that is not theft?

TRN says:

Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

I design and make scale models. Everything from original sifi stuff to WWII replica style stuff in everything from 6mm to 1/58 scale. Tell me how you copying it has stolen anything from me at all? They exist as both tangible and digital items. Copies mean that there are more of them, the world itself has been enriched by the addition of one more item of value to someone. Theft deprives someone of something that was stolen. Simply put, the people who would copy something are not likely to buy it if copying wasn’t an option, might have already bought it and lost it, dislike the DRM packaged with something and bought it, donate to the creator(not the distributor), or any of a myriad of other reasons. A copy is not a lost sale.

What would be theft of an idea is to take it, claim it as your own, and prevent others from including the creator from using it. Which is something Makerbot, Disney, sony BMG, and so many others have done. The natural function of an idea is to be copied, and enrich everyone. That is the purpose of copyright, to delay the free copying so that the creator might extract value to promote the creation of further works.

As to your examples, where has a dance been copyrighted? And have you never heard of covers? Did you steal from the hill sisters(or sony, or whoever) when you sang happy birthday as a child? What harm was done? What was stolen?Is singing the national anthem theft? Is it theft to sing a jingle you heard on TV, and if so why?

An idea is different from an item, ideas have no form, a near infinite number of them can exist. They have no real form.

Theft requires you to prove that something was yours, and that you no longer have it. What has been stolen from you in me singing your song? Where did it go? It most certainly did not suddenly appear in my pocket(unless it’s lint(in which case I’d be happy to post you replacement lint)).

Yermom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

You make scale models… Did you buy a kit?

There are many examples of copyrighted dances. Google Martha Graham and what happened after her death.

“A copy is not a lost sale’ is not a fact. It is a nice statement.

“The natural function of an idea is to be copied”?! I have no words…

Playing the national anthem is also invalid.That song is not protected.

If you play my song in the privacy of your home, I have no issues. If you play it at a public venue and represent it as yours, I would say that is theft.

As previously stated -Theft and harm can be mutually exclusive.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

If you play my song in the privacy of your home, I have no issues. If you play it at a public venue and represent it as yours, I would say that is theft.

But doesn’t that right there demonstrate one of the many ways in which copying is so different from theft?

After all, you wouldn’t say “if you steal my car and drive it in your back yard, I have no issues. If you steal my car and drive it on the public streets, it’s theft” — no, you would be equally deprived of the car and equally stolen from in either circumstance.

Copying doesn’t necessarily harm or effect you in any way – in fact you can be copied and not even know about it. Only under very specific circumstances can it be said to cause any harm, and even then the harm is almost impossible to quantify. That’s a very, very different situation from theft of property.

TRN says:

Re: Re: Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

I design scale models. I don’t just build them. I do all the original design work on them. So I have no idea where kits came from, and I did in fact state that I design them in my previous post.

As to no words. Precisely.

National anthems can be protected under copyright.

I don’t think you and I are using the same definition of theft. “a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it” Merriam Websters web dictionary. That’s my definition. Would you mind defining yours so we can work out a comprimise?

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

“If you play it at a public venue and represent it as yours, I would say that is theft.”

Actually that would be plagiarism, which is a completely different thing that pretty much everyone here would be strongly against. But it’s a different topic altogether. Simply copying, even if infringing, is not plagiarism. Nobody is downloading a film or song and then claiming it’s theirs. Very few are brave/stupid enough to publicly perform someone else’s song and claim it’s their own.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Copying TANGIBLES may not be theft...

Wrong/right aside, it is theft

No, quite the opposite. Wrong/right aside, it is NOT theft.

That’s the point. You can certainly still say some forms of copying are wrong — but they are still entirely distinct from theft.

You ask “how do you argue that it’s not theft” but, well, we don’t really have to argue it – it’s pretty clear that it’s not the same thing. How do you argue that it IS theft? If someone sings your song or dances your dance, you still have the song or the dance – they haven’t taken it away from you. They copied it, they didn’t steal it.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

If someone else sings my song or dances my dance, then how do you argue that is not theft?

They have not been removed from you nor have you been denied their use or enjoyment. If someone else sings your song or dances your dance and announces that they are the creator thereof, and claims copyright over them, thereby denying you the credit (and possibly the revenues) for creating them and the right to use them for your own purposes, you have indeed been robbed.

Until such time as you are denied the use of a particular item, you have not been robbed.

Copyright terms are limited for precisely this reason: infringement occurs when someone else usurps your monopoly privilege to make money from distributing copies of your performance. If I sit in a restaurant singing a song you wrote, does infringement take place if I fail to get a licence from you? This kind of thing happens every day. Good luck with collecting the fees you think you’re due from the singing public.

Anonymous Coward says:

People assume the statement “Copying is not theft” is akin to saying: “Copying is not wrong”.

What they refuse to see or admit is that theft and copyright infringement are different things – the copyright-maximalist propaganda has done its job well.

It’s all rather sad, really… that people have come to assume that copying is somehow as bad (or worse?) than stealing. It’s almost incomprehensible that we’ve reached this point.

First you say people insist that copying is theft. Then you say it is somehow bad than stealing. Those two comments contradict each other. You can’t have it both ways, if people consider it theft, how can it be worse than theft?

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