Michael Robertson Continues To Tempt Copyright Fate With UberTalk: Recordable Radio Directory Online

from the what-technology-allows dept

Michael Robertson has a long history of pushing the boundaries of copyright law, by going where the technology allows, even if the law hasn't quite caught up yet. As such, he frequently finds himself on the wrong end of legal actions from legacy players who hate being disrupted. Last year, we wrote about his DAR.fm effort, which basically is an online DVR for broadcast radio. He's now taking that even further, with the launch of UberTalk, an online directory of what's on radio right now (and in the future). You know your basic online (or on screen) TV guides? Yeah, UberTalk is that, but for radio -- with the convenient ability to play... or to record and time shift anything you'd like.
Given the state of radio today, this seems really, really useful. But, is it legal? We've already seen legal threats pointed at DAR.fm, and I can't imagine that all the broadcast folks will like this either -- even though it only increases the value of their product by making it more easy to find and useful.

What we're seeing, yet again, is how the technology allows for something really useful that adds value to both the content and for the users. And yet... copyright law makes it very, very difficult to pull off. Why? Because copyright law is purposely built around keeping the status quo, not about encouraging innovation. So you have yet another clear case where it seems like copyright law is holding back "the progress" rather than helping to speed it along.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Patrick, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:07am

    I'm sure you're right but...

    I'm sure you're right about what you are saying, but the whole piece is just hot air.
    You talk about what will probably happen or might happen or could happen, while nothing has happened yet.
    And you use that as a "clear case" where copyright law is bad.

    This is not a clear case. In fact it's not a case at all.

     

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    Scott, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:07am

    I wonder if or when copyright laws will reform to allow more innovation?

     

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  3.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:08am

    Hang on, I'm confused

    Recordable radio has been around for decades, that's what I call playing a radio station the conventional way and recording it to cassette. So, what exactly is the problem here?

    Oh wait, it's on the Internet and so must be more evil that what everyone has been doing since the invention of recordable media.

     

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  4.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:20am

    Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    Remember, Zakida, that adding "on the Internet" automagically makes something legal criminal.

    The More You Know! (r)

    *The More You Know is a registered trademark of NBCUniversal.

     

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  5.  
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    Scott, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:21am

    Re: Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    LOL

     

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  6.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:22am

    Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    Exactly. Most of the sites being railed against simply allow people to do more quickly and easily what they're always been doing. That people attack these services rather than address the underlying consumer needs is the reason why these measures always fail.

     

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  7.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:52am

    Re: I'm sure you're right but...

    "Given the state of radio today, this seems really, really useful. But, is it legal? We've already seen legal threats pointed at DAR.fm,"

    Did you even read the article? Mike is reaching a conclusion based on past data - copyright maximilists have fought every technological advance related to content production and viewing. They fought the player piano, they fought the MP3 player, they fought DVRs etc.
    Each and every time the copyright maximilists have bellowed, they have been proven wrong. This is why Mike and I, along with the others here, don't trust copyright lovers. Time and time again, they have lied to us.

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:58am

    Translation:

    The internet has been the most recent example of using new tech to break age-old laws before logic and legislation caught up.

    Remove 'internet', replace with 'horseless carriage', and you have insight into why amnesty-seeking bank robbers crossing state lines with those newfangled automobiles objected to any new laws.


    Good luck with your life's work there, Masnick.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    Well duh, adding 'on the internet' lets me patent something again, so clearly adding 'on the internet' lets me renegotiate copyrights in my favour!

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:04am

    Re:

    Copyright doesn't stop anyone from truly innovating anything.

    How about innovating a unique argumentative tact for me, Scotty.

    We'll work from there.



    I won't hold my breath.

    But still, don't let that stop you from saying something silly and furthering the sinking of this stupid, worthless blog.

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    "Translation"

    I think everybody else was happy with the English version rather than the moronese translation, but thanks anyway. Do you have any translations that don't involve lies, personal attacks and attempts to change reality?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:20am

    Re:

    That's a really lousy translation.

    Ah, I see the problem. You are using a dictionary from the 19th century.

    Try updating your dictionary and see if that helps. Here, I'll point you to a free one: http://translate.google.com/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re:

    "Copyright doesn't stop anyone from truly innovating anything."

    Wasn't Spotify blocked in the US for years because they couldn't strike a deal with the labels?

    Maybe stop isn't the right word. Hinder on the other hand...

     

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  14.  
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    New Mexico Mark, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Re: Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    Don't forget "is"(r) (depending on what the definition of is(r) is(r)) is(r) a registered trademark of former president Clinton.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Re: Re:

    Well, well, well.

    Another angle is we must stop historical copyright-holders undermining copyright legitimacy and intent by pushing changes meant to benefit only themselves and building barriers to protect themselves from innovation and progress copyright is meant to promote.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    Re: Re:

    You are indeed putting a lot of effort into sabotaging this blog. How ethical... not.

     

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  17.  
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    abc gum, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:37am

    Re:

    Yes, because as we all know - copyright infringement is tantamount to armed robbery. Good luck with your bs analogy there.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re:

    "But still, don't let that stop you from saying something silly and furthering the sinking of this stupid, worthless blog."

    You mean like you just did? Idiot

     

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  19.  
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    abc gum, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    Is there really any demand for such a service?
    It's talk radio - who even listens to that?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re:

    shhttttt. that's unfair. you know he's going to freak out at any mention of "google" and go about Mike and almost anyone else with different views are just G's tools that can't think for themselves.

    We should be grateful to have Anonymous C. do the bright thinking and translating for us.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Hang on, I'm confused

    it all depends on what your definition of FUBAR is

     

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  22.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    BBC

    BBC radio has had someting very like this available for some considerable time.
    With some programmes you can go right back into the archives and listen online to any edition ever broadcast. Some others expire after a while (quite a long while - a year for the programme that I listened to yesterday).

    Most can also be downloaded and kept for ever.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:25am

    About 5+ decades too late for such an obviously useful thing, which of course means it's still too early for legacy players.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    What we're seeing, yet again, is how the technology allows for something really useful that adds value to both the content and for the users. And yet... copyright law makes it very, very difficult to pull off. Why? Because copyright law is purposely built around keeping the status quo, not about encouraging innovation. So you have yet another clear case where it seems like copyright law is holding back "the progress" rather than helping to speed it along.

    That argument is really silly, Mike.

    Copyright's purpose is to encourage the creation and dissemination of new and better works. The way it accomplishes this is by giving authors exclusive rights to their original works, i.e., authors have the right to exclude your tech buddies from using their works if they want to. Those authors get to choose how their works are published and disseminated. They can choose to let everyone in the world have a copy, or they can choose to keep it to themselves. The choice is theirs to make.

    Copyright is not about letting other people do as they please with an author's copyrighted work. Copyright is not about forcing authors to give up their exclusive rights in the name of "innovation." It's not about letting your tech friends maximize their profits using authors' copyrighted works. Copyright is about giving the incentive to an author to license the work, but it's not about forcing them to do so. Copyright has never been about helping your buddies "innovate" at the expense of authors' rights.

    Can you explain the basis for your claim that copyright's purpose is to help your tech buddies make money, er, I mean, "innovate"? I doubt it. Your position that promoting the progress means letting your tech friends do as they please with other people's property is untenable. [Don't worry, I know you have no intention of ever discussing your beliefs or backing up your claims. Such is Mike Masnick and Techdirt.]

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    Haha, so you expect logic to catch up to reality? That is funny! :)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    Copyright's purpose is to encourage the creation and dissemination of new and better works.

    ...or they can choose to keep it to themselves.


    Well, that sounds like it's working as intended.

     

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  27.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    Well, that sounds like it's working as intended.

    Dissemination on the author's own terms, not on the terms of Mike's tech buddies. Authors are incentivized to license their works, but they are not forced to do so. If Mike's buddies want to disseminate the works of others, they need to negotiate with the owners of the works. That's how copyright works.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re:

    Also the armed robbery laws always include specific get away methods.

     

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  29.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    While you people are squabbling over the details, audiences have been doing exactly what the site provides for decades. If this is suddenly a problem because Robertson makes it a little easier, they have far bigger problems to deal with than whether or not someone in the tech industry came begging on their knees for permission before making their services more useful to their own customers.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Yaaawn!

    Recording radio?
    Who does that anymore?

    I did for awhile but the same thing is on again,and again and again. Why record it?

    And why do the the rights holders object as to when and how people listen.These people are just plain greedy and about as smart as a rock.

    Seems like both side are involved in something no one cares about.

    Innovative? Not really.

     

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  31.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re:

    How about innovating a unique argumentative tact for me, Scotty.

    I'm pretty sure that even if we went and created a brand new, unique and innovative argumentative tact for you to use, you'd still resort to ad hominem attacks and never support your assertions with data.

     

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  32.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm merely pointing out that Mike's argument that copyright isn't serving its purpose when it stops his tech friends from doing whatever they like with other people's copyrighted works is indefensible. The fact that Mike won't ever back up his claims when called out them should tell you all you need to know.

     

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  33.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    Copyright's purpose is to encourage the creation and dissemination of new and better works.

    Glad you've finally caught on to the program.

    The argument is that current copyright laws do not accomplish this, and that they hinder the creation and dissemination of new works. Every time a new book is killed off, or a blog dedicated to exposing new musical works to the public is shut down is evidence of this. Every bogus DMCA notice is evidence for this. Every time some automated content bot shuts down a broadcast or censors the sounds of birds is evidence that current copyright law no longer functions.

    Copyright law was never supposed to be about a handful of massive corporate conglomerations having veto rights over new technology, yet that is what it has become. Copyright was never supposed to be about those corporations having the power to shut out competing distribution channels, yet that is what it has become. Copyright was never supposed to be about people or corporations have perpetual monopoly privileges over peices of culture, yet that is what it has become.

    Can you explain how it benefits the public that culture created during anyone's lifetime cannot be used until their grandchildren have grandchildren? Can you explain how it makes even the slightest bit of sense to prevent access to content which can by copied infinitely at little to no cost? Can you explain how locking up that information and culture to be exploited by a tiny few and passed on at outrageous markups is ethical?

    I doubt you can, but I'll give you the chance to try to form a coherent argument, AJ.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Yaaawn!

    I wouldn't say it's something no one cares about - considering how the usual trolls are ranting how the Internet is not innovating as opposed to facilitating lawbreaking (whatever the fuck that even means) they'll push to have the entire infrastructure shut down or rendered overly cumbersome for usage.

    That's not something no one would care about.

     

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  35.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re:

    The argument is that current copyright laws do not accomplish this, and that they hinder the creation and dissemination of new works.

    If a work is truly new, then copyright does not hinder its creation or dissemination.

    Every time a new book is killed off, or a blog dedicated to exposing new musical works to the public is shut down is evidence of this.

    I assume you're talking about a handful of books that unauthorized sequels and the like, and you're pretending like the 1% represents the whole.

    Every bogus DMCA notice is evidence for this.

    Yes, a very small percentage of DMCA takedown notices are bogus. This is a problem with the party sending the notice. Blame the party that is actually doing the wrong. All laws can be abused. Blame the abusers.

    Every bogus DMCA notice is evidence for this. Every time some automated content bot shuts down a broadcast or censors the sounds of birds is evidence that current copyright law no longer functions.

    If one takedown notice out of millions gets it wrong then the whole system is broken? Not a good argument. Again, blame the party that sends the erroneous takedown notice. And what of the millions and millions of takedown notices that aren't in error? What about the huge underlying problem? Why do you insist that the remedy be 100% perfect while ignoring the problem underneath?

    Copyright law was never supposed to be about a handful of massive corporate conglomerations having veto rights over new technology, yet that is what it has become.

    Copyright law has always been about prohibiting unauthorized copying, from the printing press to the iPhone 5.

    Copyright was never supposed to be about those corporations having the power to shut out competing distribution channels, yet that is what it has become.

    Copyright has always been about stopping unauthorized copiers from violating the copyright owners' exclusive rights.

    Copyright was never supposed to be about people or corporations have perpetual monopoly privileges over peices of culture, yet that is what it has become.

    Copyright is not perpetual. That argument made its way to the Supreme Court and lost.

    Can you explain how it benefits the public that culture created during anyone's lifetime cannot be used until their grandchildren have grandchildren?

    You get access to that culture if and when the owner of the rights decides to grant you access. It's never been the situation that you have the right to access without permission.

    Can you explain how it makes even the slightest bit of sense to prevent access to content which can by copied infinitely at little to no cost?

    The theory is that by giving authors these exclusive rights, they are incentivized to create and to disseminate their works. And when the limited times is up, the public gets the works.

    Can you explain how locking up that information and culture to be exploited by a tiny few and passed on at outrageous markups is ethical?

    The tradeoff is that by granting authors these exclusive rights, the authors are incentivized to create the works in the first place. It's about more than just the public getting access to the works. It's also about an author's rights and incentives to create new and better works, which in turn benefits the public. Copyright is about author's first and the public second. It always has been.

    I doubt you can, but I'll give you the chance to try to form a coherent argument, AJ.

    If your alternative universe where copyright does not play a part in incentivizing the creation of new and better works were better for authors, they would be flocking to your alternative business models in droves. As it is, your alternative views have not replaced copyright. If you want to show the world that your way is better, then demonstrate that on an even playing field.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You get access to that culture if and when the owner of the rights decides to grant you access. It's never been the situation that you have the right to access without permission.

    But reality tells me differently. So which should I listen to? Reality or . . . ?

     

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  37.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But reality tells me differently. So which should I listen to? Reality or . . . ?

    Reality tells you that you're just entitled to just take whatever you want whenever you want it? You've been reading the Gospel according to Mike too much.

     

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  38.  
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    LrdVapid (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The fact that average_joe will never admit when he has his points directly answered should tell you all you need to know.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not entitled. But, once again, reality much?

     

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  40.  
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    average_joe (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The fact that average_joe will never admit when he has his points directly answered should tell you all you need to know.

    That's the rumor. The truth is that Mike never wants to discuss his beliefs. He never wants to address criticisms of his baseless claims. He just wants to pretend like his slanted view is the only view, and all dissenters are ignored. He won't back up his claims when called out. He won't engage dissenters substantively.

    The last thing Mike seeks is the truth.

     

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  41.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If a work is truly new, then copyright does not hinder its creation or dissemination.

    No work is "truly new" - every work is influenced by something that came before. Every work uses concepts that came before it. Prove me wrong - give me one single example of anything created in the last 2000 years you consider art that is completely original.

    I assume you're talking about a handful of books that unauthorized sequels and the like, and you're pretending like the 1% represents the whole.

    Yep, exactly those, the Catcher in the Rye sequel among others. Copyright is preventing those works from being created or disseminated - this is not a point of contention. The blog comment was also referring to Dajaz1. We all know what happened there.

    It doesn't matter whether those works are 1% or 90% - copyright is preventing or discouraging them from benefitting the public.

    This is a problem with the party sending the notice. Blame the party that is actually doing the wrong. All laws can be abused. Blame the abusers.

    Aren't you normally the one arguing that laws and punishments are the reasons people don't break laws? They clearly are not working.

    And let's talk about cognitive dissosnace for just a second. You say to blame the abusers for copyright law and not the laws. Yet when it comes to the tools that people use to break copyright laws, you insist those tools or services need to be shut down. Which is it, blame the people abusing the laws or tools, or blame the laws or tools? I realize I may slip into using arguments in the same way on abolishing copyright - but I don't think adding penalties for abusing the DMCA would work or bring much sanity to copyright.

    If one takedown notice out of millions gets it wrong then the whole system is broken? Not a good argument. Again, blame the party that sends the erroneous takedown notice. And what of the millions and millions of takedown notices that aren't in error? What about the huge underlying problem? Why do you insist that the remedy be 100% perfect while ignoring the problem underneath?

    Do we really know that the millions of takedown notices are not erroneous? You know as well as I that the vast majority of them are never challenged - but you then assume they're fine - yet we don't know that.

    Let's talk about cognitive dissonance again. Why do you insist that a copyright holder should have 100% perfect control over the work?

    You want to talk about the huge underlying problem? How about that copyright is abso-fucking-lutely crazy, bat-shit insane, stark raving mad, truly bonkers to anyone who isn't a copyright lawyer or can pay for one.

    Copyright law has always been about prohibiting unauthorized copying, from the printing press to the iPhone 5. Copyright has always been about stopping unauthorized copiers from violating the copyright owners' exclusive rights.

    In your first post, you said this: "Copyright's purpose is to encourage the creation and dissemination of new and better works." Which is it?

    Copyright is not perpetual. That argument made its way to the Supreme Court and lost.

    You don't seem to have any problem with the constant extension of copyrights that keep pushing it out farther.

    Forever minus one day is perpetual. Here's some maths for you: infinity = infinity minus one. Don't trust me on that, ask any mathemetician.

    The theory is that by giving authors these exclusive rights, they are incentivized to create and to disseminate their works. And when the limited times is up, the public gets the works.

    That was the theory - and maybe when it was extremely difficult or expensive to copy things it made sense. It no longer does.

    As to limited times, see above. Or ask yourself when Mickey Mouse goes public domain. Or ask what works have entered the public domain (against the copyright holder's wishes) in recent memory.

    The tradeoff is that by granting authors these exclusive rights, the authors are incentivized to create the works in the first place. It's about more than just the public getting access to the works. It's also about an author's rights and incentives to create new and better works, which in turn benefits the public. Copyright is about author's first and the public second. It always has been.

    There is no point to copyright if the purpose isn't to get the works to the public. "To Promote the Progress" - the rights are the incentive, not the purpose. The purpose of a job isn't the paycheck - the paycheck is the incentive to do the job.

    If your alternative universe where copyright does not play a part in incentivizing the creation of new and better works were better for authors, they would be flocking to your alternative business models in droves.

    They are. How many more do we have to highlight? How many more sites have to spring up that people use to put content they created out for the world to see with no copyright incentive ever given?

    As it is, your alternative views have not replaced copyright. If you want to show the world that your way is better, then demonstrate that on an even playing field.

    You argue against a level playing field with nearly every comment you make here.

     

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  42.  
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    cosmicwonderful (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: I'm sure you're right but...

    "They fought the player piano, they fought the MP3 player, they fought DVRs etc."

    But did they fight TV Guide? Or the schedule of programs in the newspaper? I'm no defender of the maximalists, but assuming they would consider Ubertalk and Dar.fm to be equally infringing seems to be an unfair straw man until they do it. However much you might disagree with them generally, it's pretty clear they consider copying and unauthorized performance to be greater sins than creation of a directory of already-scheduled, authorized performances.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    This is TV Guide and a cassette recorder for internet radio. How is this stopping the creators from distributing their music as they please, again? Oh, right, because it's on the internet.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, a very small percentage of DMCA takedown notices are bogus. This is a problem with the party sending the notice. Blame the party that is actually doing the wrong. All laws can be abused. Blame the abusers.

    Still haven't proven this. Just because a take-down wasn't challenged doesn't mean it wasn't bogus. Not everyone has the resources to fight these things. Also, some sites (Youtube?) will close your account if you get too many notices, legitimate or not. So, yeah. Give us actual, factual, backed numbers.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's why automobiles are to be made illegal. They're only good for robbery and smuggling contraband. We have to do something.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's why automobiles are to be made illegal. They're only good for robbery and smuggling contraband. We have to do something.

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "stops his tech friends from doing whatever they like"

    Well, your argument fails on 2 points, like many who pointlessly try to attack the very concept of what's being discussed.

    The first is that copyright actually doesn't *stop* this. It makes it a little more difficult, more risky and provides a way for copyright holders to block innovation they don't like. But it really doesn't stop anything.

    The second, is that the "us vs. the evil tech guys" fallacy you've constructed is, well, a fallacy. Consumers are constantly using copyrighted material in ways that the copyright holder wouldn't approve of. That's the price you pay for releasing it to the public. One of the ways in which is is happening is that people timeshift and edit content. They record from radio to tape, then listen whenever, however and as many times as they like. Robertson's services do nothing more than make it easier for people to do what they already do.

    This is your problem. While you're wailing and moaning that copyright holders should have complete control over everything consumers do and that there's some tech conspiracy against them, the consumers themselves are simply doing what they've been doing for decades. Services like Robertson's could achieve a hell of a lot, from retaining listeners who perhaps miss the content they want on broadcast to making it easier for an international audience to discover and enjoy the content (and thus open up revenue streams).

    Instead, you'd rather nitpick and try to block something that consumers have been doing at least since the invention of the tape recorder just because it's online. Try to guess why you're failing?

     

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


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