Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the logic! dept

Getting (by far) the most votes for "insightful" this week was an Anonymous Coward commenter, responding to the story of Amazon wiping out a customer account, locking her out of her Kindle ebooks with no explanation. The AC said what many people were thinking:
So if I try to obey the law I run the risk of actually losing my money... but if pirate this stuff I retain 100% control of my devices....

So why should I even try and choose the legal routes again?
Coming in second was a comment from Aaeru on the post about copyright not being a human right. Aaeru posted some content from this page about why copyright isn't about granting any natural right to the holder:
"Copyright grants its holder certain rights."

What rights does copyright grant to the holder?

"The right to produce copies or reproductions?"

No, the holder already can do that. He does not need the government to tell him that he can.

"The right to make adaptations and derivative works."

No, again the holder already can do that.

"The right to perform or display the work publicly?"

Again, this isn't a right being granted to the holder, he is permitted to perform the work as he sees fit. None of these rights are granted to the holder by copyright law; they exist independently. What copyright law does is take away the rights of everyone else to do these things.
As for editor's choice, we've got cpt kangarooski (I'm sure that's his real name) responding to someone, yet again, asking the infamous "but how will I continue to make $100 million movies" question by highlighting (yet again) how that's the wrong question:
I absolutely agree. In fact, I am an sculptor, and my medium of choice is the Moon. I'd love to invest my time and money into sculpting the Moon into a more pleasing (and copyrightable) shape. But to do this will require a significant amount of copyright in order to sufficiently incentivize me and justify my investment. Specifically, I need everyone on Earth to owe me a sizable fee for looking at the moon, forever.

And if you think that this is ridiculous, and that the price I want people to pay me is too big and not worthwhile, well, perhaps $100 million movies are too expensive as well, in terms of how much the level of copyright it takes to make the viable penalizes the public.
For the second editor's choice, we've got another Anonymous Coward, responding to the story of veteran parodist Michael Gerber going to Kickstarter after his publisher got spooked about the possibility of someone associated with Downton Abbey going legal over Gerber's planned parody. This AC had an interesting analogy:
I just pledged, and I've never seen an episode of Downton Abbey.

I'm currently reading a book by Terry Pratchett called "Interesting Times" and the point is made that there's something worse than a whip to a slave, it's when a population so effortlessly enslaved that they've internalized the whip.

"What if [Downton Abbey creator] Julian Fellowes gets mad?" "What if they hire another company to publish the official Downton Abbey Calendar/Tea Cozy instead of us?" "What if I make the wrong decision and get fired?"

All of the above tells me that someone in the publishing industry has internalized the whip.
And, as a special bonus editor's choice, we've got Michael Gerber's own response to the comment above...

Moving on to funny, we get started with another Anonymous Coward extrapolating from the DOJ's argument that there could be no harm in shutting down Megaupload, because Kim Dotcom has said he can't reopen the site:
The World Trade Center has not "suffered massive harm" as the US doesn't intend to rebuild it.
Coming in second was a comment from Lord Binky, responding to the UN's worries that the internet was too open and (*gasp*!) terrorists might use it:
I read terrorists use food too. I'd start by controlling food so that a terrorist never uses it, then we don't have to worry about terrorists.
For editor's choice, I'm actually doing three comments this week, but two of them are based on the same post -- the one about Random House's definition of "ownership" of ebooks being entirely different than everyone else's definition. First up, we had nospacesorspecialcharacters:
Oh come on what's the big deal? It's just like physical ownership. An ebook is like a book, and a platform is like a bookshelf.

I can't be the only one who buys all my books again when I purchase a new bookshelf?!
And then we had Jordan chime in with a more... practical solution:
I'm not paying for the book. I'm licensing you rights to use my cash for a bit.
And, finally, we have an Anonymous Coward responding to the post we had about an economist arguing for perpetual copyright, by arguing that he's ignoring the economics and the fact that they go against him. To get the full effect of this comment, we have to start it off with the quote from economist Stan Liebowitz that this AC is responding to:
I don't deny that it's efficient to sort of weaken copyright to a certain balancing point. What I'm saying is that we can do that, we have the tools to do that, and no one finds it particularly morally objectionable to weaken copyright to get to what is the proper balance. The point of my paper is that if we were doing it the way we're saying we would like to, we would be removing rents from the creators of copyrighted works, because that's how you get the balance that's most efficient. But we don't go reducing rents elsewhere in the economy, say from basketball players.

So let me get this straight:
- It is economically efficient to weaken copyright.
- No one finds it morally objectionable to weaken copyright.
- It is desirable to weaken copyright.

Therefore:
- We should not weaken copyright.

What.
Logic!


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Greevar (profile), Oct 28th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    "...locking her out of her Kindle ebooks with no explanation."

    "So if I try to obey the law I run the risk of actually losing my money... but if pirate this stuff I retain 100% control of my devices....

    So why should I even try and choose the legal routes again?"

    "Oh come on what's the big deal? It's just like physical ownership. An ebook is like a book, and a platform is like a bookshelf."


    So Amazon has come to my house and put a big padlock on my bookshelf, denying me use of my property, and tells me to get a new bookshelf? Genius!

    When will it be admitted that the firmware on any platform, whether it's an e-reader or a gaming console, is inseparably tied together, thus cutting off the software portion permanently damages the normal function of people's physical property? That's like bricking a car's computer module because someone installed a high performance chip into it, rendering it unable to start. It should not be allowed for hardware makers to have this level of control over devices we have paid for and legitimately own. I guess the fictional person's rights are more important than a real person's rights.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 4:02pm

    Pirate apologist...blargha...paywalls...flargha...artists are starving..flugha...why you no debate me?...floopy floppy FFFFFFFFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

     

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      Lord of the Files, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:21am

      Re:

      Wow, that was a really good impression! For a moment there I thought I actually was reading a comment by average_joe, bob, or out_of_the_blue until I glanced up to see who wrote it! :p

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

    "But we don't go reducing rents elsewhere in the economy, say from basketball players."

    Well, no, when a rent comes from the government there is nothing wrong with removing it. No one is entitled to a government rent. IP is a government rent. When the government first created IP it reduced the public rent, why is that OK?

     

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    Aaeru, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 6:06pm

    actually that quote i stole it from this user on techdirt
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120908/13441520319/funniestmost-insightful-comments-wee k-techdirt.shtml#c632

    it was so good i copied it and saved it up right away.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

      Re:

      Actually, the quote misstates copyright law. The rights accorded an author pertain to exclusivity concerning the author's work for a "limited" (in quotes for obvious reasons) period of time. It is, whether one agrees or not, a part of the "bargain" associated with public dissemination.

       

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 28th, 2012 @ 8:30pm

    "But we don't go reducing rents elsewhere in the economy, say from basketball players."

    Yeah. I remember what my mom used to say when I asked for a toy and argued that Johnny had one:

    "So if Johnny jumped over a cliff, you would jump over a cliff?"

    Of course, this was the same mom who complained that I didn't get as good grades as Johnny.

     

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    peopleagainstheft (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    Most of these "insightful" comments miss the point entirely. In order to sculpt the moon, for example, you need to find people who want to pay you for that. Copyright doesn't give you money - the desires of people to pay you for your work give you money. All copyright does is let you license it to willing buyers. So, as to the $100 million movie, if no one wanted to go, copyright doesn't make them. And lots of movies fail. But if people do want to see, say James Bond, failure of copyright will keep that from happening.

    As to Leibowitz's comments - again you are disregarding all the important distinctions. Copyright is not all about "stronger" vs. "weaker" except in slogans. Leibowitz might say, for example, that fair use ought to be broader in some areas, or copyright term should be shorter. But he also believes, strongly, in enforcing the core right of creators to control copying and distribution of their works, because that is how the free market decides whether their works are valuable.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 9:19am

      Re:

      No, what copyright does is allow rightsholders to have something on which to leverage if the $100 million movie fails. Because the only reason why it would do poorly must be because of pirates, claim the rightsholders, so therefore we must have a new copyright extension/SOPA/whatever suits rightsholders' whims.

      How else do you explain Uwe Boll?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 9:44am

      Re:

      "But if people do want to see, say James Bond, failure of copyright will keep that from happening."

      And with that sentence you pretty much prove you have no clue what you're talking about.

      If copyright were to fail tomorrow, James Bond would still exist. If copyright were done away with tomorrow, anyone and everyone could use the character of James Bond. Some would even do so in manners that would surprise and shock you, and do so because of how professional and amazing they would be/do so, despite being "amateurs" or "nobodys".

      As for your bad understanding of the $100 million movie, if no one wanted to go, copyright DOES make them. In point of fact, a look at quite a few box office flops (most in the past decade) shows that quite a few were $100 million movies, that no one wanted to see. (As is evidenced by their failures at the box office.)

      "But he also believes, strongly, in enforcing the core right of creators to control copying and distribution of their works, because that is how the free market decides whether their works are valuable."

      Actually, that is not how a free market works. A free market would mean anyone/everyone can create, copy and distribute anything. The market will then purchase a specific item from anyone, even if not the original creator.

      For someone with the handle "peopleagainsttheft", it doesn't surprise me that you DO NOT understand how a free market works. If one were to look at the piracy situation they would understand that it is proof of the free market working as it SHOULD. Legal offerings are available (to some), yet people go for the illegal offerings (for a variety of reasons, not just because "free"). Why is that? Do they offer something of value over the legal versions? The answer is yes. Lack of DRM. Global availability. No release delays. Etc. In fact, people are often saying they would prefer legal offerings be sold the same way. They say they would pay for a legal equivalent, but because of artificially placed restrictions, that don't work in this day and age, they don't have a legal way to get said products in a manner that the market wants.

      It's okay though, because your other comments in another article were just as horrible and out of touch with reality, much less the facts. So you're forgiven.

      You should go hang out with ethicalfan. You guys would have a ball I bet. Seeing as how you both don't understand anything going on, and both resort to misrepresenting and misunderstanding things in order to wag a finger at people.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Look on the bright side - at least he's not running a website to which he frequently spams links to.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

        Re: Re:

        I do want to see James Bond. I just don't want to see Daniel Craig playing him. Seriously, who the #%@&* ever thought that was a good idea?!

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:47pm

        Re: Re:

        I do want to see James Bond. I just don't want to see Daniel Craig playing him. Seriously, who the #%@&* ever thought that was a good idea?!

         

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      cpt kangarooski, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 7:25pm

      Re:

      In order to sculpt the moon, for example, you need to find people who want to pay you for that. Copyright doesn't give you money - the desires of people to pay you for your work give you money. All copyright does is let you license it to willing buyers. So, as to the $100 million movie, if no one wanted to go, copyright doesn't make them. And lots of movies fail. But if people do want to see, say James Bond, failure of copyright will keep that from happening.

      Well, remember that copyright anticipates that authors will manage to obtain the funds necessary to create and publish a copyrightable work on their own, in practice by finding a publisher willing to front the money in exchange for a share (perhaps a large share) of the profits, if there are any. The audience doesn't pay until after the work is created and somehow made available to them, eg by buying copies or paying for tickets at a venue. If there were no copyright monopoly, then presumably the profits for the publisher and author from selling copies they authorized the creation of would be less due to competition. And yes, copyright doesn't guarantee success.

      So I may very well already have enough money on hand to sculpt the moon as I see fit. But at the current level of copyright protection, the profit I could expect to make is quite low. After all, I can't sell copies -- no mere block of terrestrial stone or metal or what have you is adequate; only the Moon will do. And I can't charge admission to go see it, since everyone can see it already. So I am not incentivized to actually do it, since I'd lose money.

      But if we increase the scope and duration of copyright so that everyone on the planet will have to pay me as much as I like anytime they look at it, and the copyright lasts forever, then I might very well make a tidy profit after all. The desire of the audience might matter under the current law, but I'd we revise the law to make the rent seeking more explicit, it need not pose an impediment.

      In any case, the point I was trying to make is that we should seek to have whatever the optimal level of copyright is, as measured by the benefit to the public. Specifically, we want the creation and publication of the greatest number of works which would not otherwise be created and published (a benefit), by granting copyright as an encouragement (a detriment), while granting the absolute minimum amount of copyright necessary to do so, in terms of both the duration of the right, and the scope of protection (to reduce the detriment). Using no copyright as a baseline, we want something that produces the greatest net benefit for the public which is better than no copyright at all. It is entirely likely that plenty of works will not be created and published under such an ideal copyright law, because the encouragement is too small. But this is okay, because the benefit those works would've provided would have been too little in light of the cost incurred. Much as we might like to have those works, we would literally be better off without them.

      And so, like the Moon sculpture, I have no problems with $100 million movies no longer being made because copyright reforms render them unprofitable -- provided that the copyright reforms are nevertheless more beneficial to the public than what we have now, and than having no law at all.

       

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    Edward Teach, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    The Fable of the Keys

    Stan Liebowitz is also co-author of "The Fable of The Keys" (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1069950), which is often cited as debunking the economic idea of "path dependence". The paper has to do with QWERTY vs Dvorak keyboard layouts, and attempts to debunk any and all experimental evidence that Dvorak keyboard layout is superior to the de facto standard QWERTY layout. "The Fable of the Keys" is somewhat impenetrable, but it basically comes down to Liebowitz and Margolis not doing any original research, just sniping at Dvorak's 1930s-1940s research. They both want QWERTY to be best because doctrinaire Free Market economics (status quo) says it should be.

     

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