Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the heroes,-villains-and-fools dept

You've heard it before — "copyright and the First Amendment have co-existed for 200 years!" — but as we explained this week, it just ain't true. Inspired by the subject, jameshogg delivered our most insightful comment of the week by hitting many of the key points in the free speech debate:

There is nobody good enough to police free expression without falling into corruption, or have future generations fall into corruption. That is why the expression of ideas and opinions must not be policed, even if they are as offensive as Holocaust denial or uncomfortable as whistle-blowing.

But yet, copyright believers seem to think that they, above all civilisations who have tried to regulate free speech and failed, do have the ability to decide when and where free speech is permissible? If I want to tell a story about Twilight, in order to portray the main characters as corporate leeches by using certain symbolism for example, and express ideas of my own that symbolically present Twilight in a new and enlightened way, why am I not allowed to do that? Why is it that "parody" is the only thing allowed to get away with this? What if the deviation is not humourous? It is not just speech that has to be free, it is expression, and every time you restrict me from telling a derived story in a way I see fit you are denying me the right to delivery a certain metaphorical message that may necessarily entail the use of characters and plot lines.

Fan fiction is illegal, because it is published creativity using someone else's work. Fan ART also falls into this category, making deviantArt the biggest copyright infringing website on the web - even bigger than storage lockers like MegaUpload. Are we really to say that everybody participating in this mass infringement is in the wrong? The MPAA never will have the balls to see this through, because the resulting backlash would absolutely DWARF that of the backlash against SOPA (then again, the rationality of the MPAA is not always up to standard, so I can't guarantee that websites like deviantArt will be left alone). Now my follow up question is this: why should fan artists and fanfiction writers be allowed to write deviations, but not those who wish to open up a commercial market on that basis? What makes fan artists more significant? If you believe in copyright, you have to in this case either question the fundamentals of copyright or demand that deviantArt be shut down.

"Sure, you can express yourself... but only in ways that we approve of. So no expressing other people's expressions" is basically what copyright believers are saying, and the only reason why fan art is permissible is that its too big a phenomenon to dare challenge, even although these fan artists get tons of publicity and therefore secondary profits from other things they may be allowed to sell. Fuck that. I'm not letting the philosophy of copyright try to say it is competent enough to "know" when certain speech should not be permissible when it cannot face up to these other challenges.

Counterbalancing the thoroughness of that comment, btrussel took second place with a short and sweet rebuke to one of the many stupid statements made by children's author Terry Deary in his anti-library screed:

"I'm not attacking libraries, I'm attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant."

And I'm not attacking copyright, I'm attacking the concept behind copyright, which is no longer relevant.

Brevity is the soul of wit, but it's also insufficient for the task of listing all the ways in which Deary was wrong. To aid in the task, our first Editor's Choice comes from Monica on the same post, providing an insider's insight:

I'm a public librarian. All I have to say about this man's ridiculous claims is something one of our patrons told me a few years ago: "I need to stop going to the library, it's costing me too much money!" She didn't say this because of fines, but instead because she had just purchased yet another book, DVD, or CD that her children couldn't live without. At Christmas or birthday times, It happens a lot -- someone falls in love with something they've borrowed from the library and needs to have it for their own collection, or perhaps the newest title in the series. A lot of people who wouldn't otherwise buy a book have done so for this very reason.

Of course, Terry Deary wasn't the only artist this week spouting what for propriety's sake I'll call horse hockey (after the fashion of Colonel Potter). We also had Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray tilting at tiny little miniaturized windmills, aka ad network revenues on pirate websites. One of our critics was extremely angry that we were focusing on how meaninglessly minuscule such payments are, rather than treating the fact that they exist at all as an unacceptable travesty. In response, and taking our second Editor's Choice, Togashi laid out some comparisons:

Yes, Greyhound makes some money off smuggling.

Yes, Smith and Wesson makes some money off murder.

Yes, trenchcoat manufacturers make some money off shoplifting.

Yes, casinos make some money off money laundering.

Yes, rope makers make some money off kidnapping.

Seeing a pattern here? You would be laughed out of town if you were to suggest that any of these manufacturers were dedicated to that purpose because of the pitiful amounts of money they make on it compared to the myriad of legitimate ones. Well, some people would argue about the guns, but the point stands.

While people were laughing at that raging troll, others were laughing with our own Dark Helmet, and voting him into the first place spot on the funny side. When Tim Cushing displayed some of DH's tweets as part of his follow-up on the OnPress situation, DH was amusingly not amused:

First, you used my tweet to Knopf in your article without contacting me!?!?!? Don't you know that ALL MY TWEETS ARE PROTECTED FROM PUBLICATION!?!?!?!?

Second, you did not, despite showing the image entirely, credit me within your article? Don't you know that this is copyrightmarkent infringement of the 34th degree and that there are no exceptions to the made up laws in my head?

Enough talk, Cushing. I'll be by to eat your face off later. Also, my made up attorney who is confused by his own first name and isn't quite sure what state he's from will be contacting you to verify your employment or something. I don't know, legal shit is confusing, you assclown! ROAR!!!

OnPress was amusing because their slapdash antics were too silly to be genuinely dangerous—in other words, they're amateurs. The pro trolls are the scary ones, and few are as scary as Monsanto. Upon hearing the news that the Supreme Court is taking on an important Monsanto patent case to do with the selling and re-planting of second generation seeds, Beech delivered our second funniest comment of the week by donning the hat of a sarcastic lawyer:

The ultimate defence here is to say (rightfully) that the farmer didn't violate the patent, the plants did. The plant's DNA was protected by patent(s) and yet, in spite of that fact the plants continued to make millions of copies of their own genes through (1) growing (cellular division) and (2) by reproducing. All the farmer did was put a bunch of seeds in some dirt, he should have been able to assume that the patented bunch of seeds would readily respect the "natural right" of a patent holder's monopoly and simply not grown. Greedy freetard/pirate plants!!!!

Before Monsanto existed, we assumed that supervillains who disastrously meddled with the natural order of things would have more style. For example, they might capture a giant ape on a remote island and bring it to Manhattan in shackles. If that story sounds familiar, it might be because it's been in the public domain for decades. At least, it is according to Universal. Er, at least, it is when they want it to be. But when Nintendo wanted to release their iconic Donkey Kong game, the studio changed its mind about King Kong's copyright status, and one anonymous commenter wins our first Editor's Choice spot for explaining why:

I never saw the movie, because I had played the game I didn't feel I needed to especially as over an hour of watching live action guy jumping over things and climbing ladders just seemed like such a dumb idea.

We've come a long way since then. Mostly in the wrong direction.

Last but not least (either in terms of the stupidity of the story or the quality of the comment) we turn to the news that some people are getting skittish about satellite photos. In response to the news that New Hampshire is considering a new law that would ban photography from structures "not supported by the ground", chosenreject takes our final Editor's Choice spot by pointing out a significant flaw in that wording:

I know they say satellites, but I think they can make an exception since satellites only stay in in orbit because of the earth's gravitational pull, therefore the satellites are supported by the ground.

Problem solved. Next please.

It's like I always say: at the end of the day, everything's physics.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    'copyright and the First Amendment have co-existed for 200 years!" but it just ain't true

    the worrying thing is that when idiots come out with the total bull shit and lies that this obviously is, why is it always believed? when there are plenty of statements released containing nothing other than verified facts, why are they ignored? are lies easier to swallow than truths?

     

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    Beech, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    Well, I am honored for my 2nd Place: Funny position, although I was really aiming for insightful. I was serious. That plant violated the patents all by itself. The farmer didn't manually copy the genes by hand with a microscope and pair of tweezers.

    The problem with this legal theory is if the farmer did anything to HELP the seed grow, like watering it. That may be something like aiding and abetting a felon.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Feb 24th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

    Re:

    fwiw, you got nearly as many insightful votes as funny ones -- just not quite enough to top the list

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    Nigger

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    What is so incredible about these insightful and funny comments, are that somehow it highlights the insanity and stupidity of these cases even more, which should not even be possible, because there are plenty of stupid and insane already.
    I'm having a hard time not blowing up here...
    Violence in videogames? forget it. Those people in these articles are really dangerous to read about.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

    Except it is true.

    Nothing coexists perfectly for 200 years. But copyright and the first amendment have done a rather excellent job, as evidenced by the paucity of conflicts when compared to the abundance of situations.

    Claiming they haven't is nothing but anti-copyright propaganda; sour grapes that doesn't change what reality has already proven.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re:

    And I'm sure that the fact that copyright has been aggressively expanded in the past 50 years and has even directly conflicted with the first amendment many times in the past 20 years alone means that it's all "anti-copyright propaganda", huh?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Re:

    This isn't 4chan.

     

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    Beech, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re:

    well then,

    yaaaaaaaaaay!!!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 4:42pm

    Re:

    This also isn't the mid-19th century.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re:

    A look at prices, the crime rate, the size and scope of government, copyright laws, etc., will tell you that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 5:35pm

    and after all of the problems with IP, instead of fixing them the govt is only seeking to make them worse. This is an outrage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except that it hasn't.

    You guys can't even come up with court cases that have ruled it has.

    It's just the usual FUD, the usual anti-copyright propaganda, the usual bullshit this blog is known for.

    Snore.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, because copyright terms have never been extended. Convincing argument right there.

     

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    Dave Xanatos, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Willfully blind, you are. It's simple to point to any case where a work was ruled infringing, even though it was political or cultural satire, or only contained 'elements' of the original. Even easier is to point to the thousands and thousands of works removed simply because they were alleged to infringe.

    *Any* original work that is suppressed by means of some form of legal action is a first amendment casualty of the copyright war of extermination. To suggest otherwise is to put yourself in the place of deciding what kind of speech is acceptable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 9:28pm

    Re:

    "'copyright and the First Amendment have co-existed for 200 years!" but it just ain't true"

    You are correct. The number should read "222".

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 9:35pm

    A citation to a listing of the thousands and thousands of works that have been removed?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 24th, 2013 @ 10:23pm

    Re: Re:

    You are correct. The number should read "222".


    You honestly think the copyright we have to day is no different than the one in 1790? The two things have not "co-existed" for that long, because copyright today means something wholly different than what it meant back then.

    And you know it.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 10:44pm

    Re:

    That one is easy: https://www.techdirt.com/ and then use the search field in the top right corner. Any more questions?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 10:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah right.

    Please point us to those thousands of examples LOL

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nice strawman. The statement is that they've coexisted for 222 years. And they have. It's a fact.

    No one gives a fuck that copyright lasts longer than it did in 1790, Masnick.

    Everyone figured out long ago that you just use that as a smokescreen for protecting the piracy you so dearly love.

    Your act is stale.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Nope.

    Show me court rulings, not Mike Masnick's made up stories.

     

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    AB, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:08pm

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

    I could, but seeing them would make you a criminal and then you would have to be executed. And now that you know, you must report to the nearest state-sponsored protection center to have your eyes removed. Do not resist, it is for your own safety.

     

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    AB, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I give a fuck. Your assumption that everyone else is your identical clone is erroneous.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No you don't. Copyright extensions don't harm you at all. You're as full of shit as Masnick is.

     

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  26.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'll take this one.

    So the only answer you'll possibly accept are ones where works were taken down through the courts? Talk about being willfully blind.

    Ya know, what about the fucking DMCA? What about the THOUSANDS of times Techdirt has had articles where websites have taken down works all on the say so of a DMCA allegation? What about Six Strikes, where someone's ability to make speech via the Internet is supposed to be affected (slowed) merely because they are accused (AND NOT CONVICTED IN A COURT OF LAW).

    Go on. Go to the search box at the top of the page, type in DMCA, and you will find plenty of articles. No, wait, those are just Mike's made up stories, according to you. You deem anything said by Techdirt to be false, simply...because. You are not interested in debate, you simply exist to call us criminals.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:47pm

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

    What, they don't harm you because they last longer than your lifetime? That's a horrible rationale for anything.

    What's going to happen is that your side is going to use this rationale to demonstrate to our grandchildren: "Oh, was copyright supposed to expire today? Guess what - copyright extensions don't hurt anybody; ask your grandpa's generation! So no public domain for you!"

    You're just mad that your side has been caught claiming that there's been no change in copyright law, when in fact you've been whining for more and more limitations and extensions every single year, and people are catching onto your bullshit.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 11:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not everyone can afford to go to court and fight off your army of lawyers so you can get your precious court rulings.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nice strawman. The statement is that they've coexisted for 222 years. And they have. It's a fact.


    For them to have "coexisted" we'd have to be talking about apples to apples comparison. But we're not.

    No one gives a fuck that copyright lasts longer than it did in 1790, Masnick.


    Actually, lots of people give a pretty large fuck, but that's not the part that has people most concerned. How about the fact that everything is automatically covered, rather than requiring registration? That seems like a big change.

    How about the fact that partial copying wasn't infringement?

    How about the fact that it was only limited to charts, maps and books?

    Seems like a pretty big change.

    But, nope, you insist that the two things have "coexisted" just fine. But that's ridiculous, because what we had in 1790 is nothing like what we have today.

     

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  30.  
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    Beech, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    yeah, pirate mike! Everyone knows that white people and black people and native americans have coexisted for over 200 years on this continent, and everything in that situation has been just peachy! no one can prove otherwise because i have fingers in my ears and im saying "lalalala" over and over again.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:00am

    Re:

    "That may be something like aiding and abetting a felon."

    Now we know what is happening to all the bees.

    They are being executed for their crimes.

     

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    Beech, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:03am

    Re: Re:

    IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!

    And our government isn't doing anything to stop global warming because if the grain belt is turned into a desert wasteland, then no pirate/freetard infringing plants will be able to grow there!

     

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  33.  
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    Beech, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:10am

    Re:

    The problem is no one feels like putting in the work to pour over court records to prove some random, anonymous asshole (you) on the internet wrong. especially since as soon as someone starts finding them you'll either disappear, or move the goalposts.

    Fow what its worth, I remember a case before the Supreme Court last year about Peter and the Wolf and how it was public domain, then got pulled out by some retroactive term extension...and it was a big deal because a lot of bands/orchestras/whatever weren't going to be able to play it because it cost too much. Why pay to play Peter and the Wolf when you can do Beethoven for free?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I also give a fuck.

    Don't see why anybody gives out a monopoly for life plus 75 years when the economic benefits are long gone but all the bad from that keeps going on.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 3:00am

    Re:

    Pre Internet, free speech was limited by the requirement to find a publisher to produce and distribute copies of a work. Without a publisher speak to, or send letters to. circulation of speech was limited to those a person could For derivative works, and mash-ups, this severely limited their circulation, although the publisher protested mightily about all copying technologies.
    Post Internet, it has become easier to circulate speech, but also easier for publishers to detect infringement on their works. Further by threat of lawsuits, publishers have effectively extended the definition of copyright, and especially derivative works.
    The publishers are pushing for laws that will allow for arbitrary removal of material from the internet, and for tech companies to allow them to control all uses of copyrighted works.
    Copyright has never been friendly to free speech, but the bigger problem was getting published. Now that they Internet has removed the publication problem, copyrights impact on free speech is becoming apparent, along with publishers, including the MAFIAA trying to obtain arbitrary control over what other people can publish.
    If the publishers have their way, people will have even fewer option for free speech that existed before the Internet. They will also have established the means necessary to enable a fascist takeover of society.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I was alluding to the political climate where racially based slavery was considered acceptable by many.

     

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  37.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The statement is that they've coexisted for 222 years. And they have. It's a fact.

    But not peacefully!

    No one gives a fuck that copyright lasts longer than it did in 1790, Masnick.
    Evidently they do - otherwise you wouldn't bother to show up here and claim that they don't!

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you can not see or hear what is going on around you then you are both blind and deaf. People like you keep calling us pirates, freetards and whatnot and you somehow are under the impression that there are only 2 sides in this: free or locked down. I say there are countless more sides, and the one I am wishing/fighting for is openness.
    I agree that not all digital entertainment should be gratis and that people should make money from their work.

    But the people you defend are using methods that are destroying peoples lives and frankly will end up destroying our freedom if it is allowed to continue, not just for Americans mind you, but the whole democratic world are affected by you as the leaders.
    In the end if we do not succeed in pulling these industries, kicking and screaming, into the new millinium; we will one day sadly wonder what happened to the good old days when freedom was to speak your mind.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course the Copyright Act of 1790 is not a carbon copy of the Copyright Act of 1976. However, the book "No Law..." spoke in terms, not of specific legislative acts, of copyright law in general. Hence, "222" is accurate. Copyright law, per se, has existed alongside the First Amendment ever since the Bill of Rights was ratified by the states in 1791, i.e., 222 years.

    As for "fair use", the stage for its later use was set with the 1802 amendment to the 1790 Act. The 1802 amendment changed the limited definition of what constituted an infringing act by amending the nature of acts that were deemed to constitute infringement. If it makes you feel better, then perhaps 210 years could serve as a substitute for 222 years.

    Or, perhaps, you may wish to begin the fair use "clock" starting at least as early as Judge Story's (later Justice Story) Mass. District Court Opinion in 1841 in the matter of Folsom v. Marsh.

    There, I hope that you now feel better.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:27am

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

    Actually, it is "thousands and thousands". This is a very large number, so perhaps a list of about 500 or so would be sufficient to at least provide some modicum of support for the statement.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was alluding to the political climate where racially based slavery was considered acceptable by many.
    Yes, 'cause only financial-based slavery is acceptable now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So why are you defending your silly claims about this here in this thread instead of in the other thread where we started this same conversation and you ran away? http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130220/16200522042/arguing-that-copyright-first-amendment-coexist ed-200-years-is-to-ignore-reality.shtml I've been waiting for you to respond.

     

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    Dave Xanatos, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 8:37am

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

    Well, I don't have time to post thousands of links (or even 500). However: Let me google it for you:

    Some general topics for your personal research:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+contentid+false+positives

    https://www.google.c om/search?q=dmca+suppress+speech

    https://www.google.com/search?q=copyright+chilling+effects&o q=copyright+chilling+effects

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=copyright+as+censorship

    But this is what I mean by willfully blind. You will immediately ignore and/or dismiss any examples that are presented. If you've actually read any articles from Techdirt you'd be able to think of quite a few cases very quickly.

     

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    Dave Xanatos, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 8:39am

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

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 8:57am

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

    Funny. Relevance to the thread never stopped you from spamming and whining about arguments.

     

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    AB, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, slavery and copyright have a surprising amount in common once you get past the glare of the differences... both a slave and a copyright are for life; a slave could not be used by anyone else without permission from the owner (IP); freed slaves were often snatched back into slavery (public domain); generally only the wealthy could afford slaves which allowed them to attain even greater wealth (producers); freed slaves generally were much more productive then those still enslaved(open patents); both repress basic freedoms and promote fear among the general population...

    Then again I suppose the same can be said of any form of control and repression whose primary purpose is to promote power and wealth for a select few.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It doesn't need to be a carbon copy for your argument to be a fallacy. It is stated that they have not PEACEFULLY coexisted for that long. If they had truly coexisted peacefully, there would have never been a single challenge to copyright, and yet there are challenges against it with revolting regularity. The fact that nothing is created in a vacuum means that anything that builds off a copyrighted work should still be recognized as new expressions, themselves. They are not. That is a violation of freedom of expression.

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There has been a peaceful coexistence in the sense that, to the consternation of some, copyright has never been held as unconstitutional in view of the First Amendment's freedom of speech and/or press. Some years ago one provision of the copyright law was removed in response to the case Florida Pre-paid, one involving patent law, because of the Supreme Court holding that federal waiver of state sovereign immunity ran afoul of the 11th Amendment.

     

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


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