Head Of Anti-Counterfeiting Lobbying Group Says He's Going To Make Counterfeit Techdirt T-Shirts

from the does-he-think-he's-making-a-point? dept

Every so often when people find out about the position we tend to take on copying, they hit back with what they think is a "gotcha" of something along the lines of "you wouldn't feel that way if someone copied your stuff." They really do. All the time. There are a number of scraper/spam blogs that copy and repost Techdirt's content, and it's really no big deal. As we've noted for a long time, all of the content that we publish directly we've declared to be in the public domain, so feel free to copy it with some caveats (which we'll discuss below). Last week, we launched our latest T-shirt, the "Copying is Not Theft" shirt:
So far there's been a great response to it, but some people seem really upset by the basic message. On Twitter and in our comments, we've had a few people pull out the "Oh, well how will you feel when I copy that shirt!" line of thinking that they'd found some sort of gotcha. The oddest, of all, however, was John Anderson, who apparently runs something called the "Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group" insisting that he's going to counterfeit our shirt.
Yes, yes, he's obviously just being snarky and thinking he's making a point, but it still seems odd for someone who insists he's against counterfeiting to basically say he's planning to counterfeit our shirt. At the very least, it actually gives us a platform to make our point: if he really wants to do so, he can absolutely go and make those cheap $5 shirts. But they won't sell. Why? This is the whole point we've been trying to make all this time. The reason people buy shirts from us is because (1) they like the shirts and (2) they want to support Techdirt. Somehow, I get the feeling that the community that John Anderson has built up around his Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group aren't exactly the kind of people who would jump at an offer to buy "Copying is Not Theft" T-shirts, even if they are 25% the price of our T-shirts.

This is the point that so many fail to get when they freak out about people copying. If you've built up a community of people who want to support you and people who like and are interested in what you do, there's nothing to fear from copying. It's only when you don't have that kind of support, or when you're trying to force something on people that they don't want that you suddenly have to worry about copying.

This is why we've always pointed to the same response when people say they're going to copy us and prove that we really are worried about copying or that copying really is theft. It's not. Here's what I wrote nearly a decade ago and it's still stands true today:
We have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It's funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you've found some "gotcha." You haven't. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don't. We don't go after any of them.

Here's why:

1. None of those sites get any traffic. By themselves, they offer nothing special.

2. If anything, it doesn't take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That's cool.

3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it's a big risk.

4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can't just replicate that.

5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site.

So, really, what's the purpose of copying our content in the manner you describe, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way?

So, if you really want to, I'd suggest it's pretty dumb, but go ahead.
This same thing holds true for counterfeiting goods as well. When we launched our first shirt, the Nerd Harder shirt, we saw a few copycats spring up on Teespring, complete with the language claiming that the shirts were from Techdirt, when they were not. We reached out to Teespring telling them we had no problem with them leaving up the T-shirts, but we would appreciate it if they didn't say that supporting them was supporting Techdirt. That's been consistent with our position all along, that in the realm of trademark, the one thing that does make sense is when it's used as a form of consumer protection. If buyers might be confused about who is really endorsing the product, that's a reasonable concern. But someone copying our shirt without pretending it's from us? That's totally cool. In fact, maybe they can make it better.

I mean, it's not like we even came up with the phrase "copying is not theft" either. It's the name of a truly wonderful song that Nina Paley wrote and illustrated:
Did we "steal" her song in taking the title and making it a shirt? Hell, no. We made a new thing. We took something that she did and we built on it to offer something new (cool T-shirts) to a different audience (ours), and so far, it seems to be working. If John Anderson thinks he can compete with his audience, he should go for it.

Hell, we'd be happy to compete with anyone doing so, because we know the message resonates with our audience. I'm not so sure it would resonate with the audience of some random person trying (and failing) to prove a point. So, bring it on.

And, yes, we've even made it extra easy for folks like John Anderson. If he likes, we've made the original image available as both a vector SVG file and a high-res PNG. So go ahead, John Anderson from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group. Go ahead and counterfeit our shirt. Knock yourself out. I imagine you'll sell somewhere close to zero of them. Though the members of your group may find it odd that the head of a Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group's first response to seeing a T-shirt he doesn't like is to talk about counterfeiting it. Right, John?

Anyway, if you'd like to make a point to John Anderson and the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group, here's your opportunity. Buy one of our lovely Copying is Not Theft T-shirts.

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 10:56am

    i wonder where he copied the IDEA of a 'Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group' from? did he check to see if there was another organisation of the same name, somewhere else?

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

  • icon
    radarmonkey (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 10:59am

    Why would people buy counterfeits?

    Possibly, if they offer something the originator doesn't ... like TALL sizes. *hint* *hint* #TallPeopleProblems

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

    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 2:00pm

      Re: Why would people buy counterfeits?

      Well, Mike already gave you the SVG and high-res PNG and told you you're free to copy it.

      So get that tall blank and go for it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:05am

    Not only does this clown fail to make his point, I think he actually reinforces how copying has been beneficial to the fashion industry for so long. In 1926 when Rene Lacoste wore his, very innovative at the time, loose knit pique cotton collared shirt to the U.S. Open I'm not sure he envisioned just how many people would copy and produce a "polo" shirt.

    And after 90 years, why do Lacoste polo shirts still sell for way way way more than for one you can pick up at Target or any department store? Because the Lacoste brand name has built a reputation and persona people who wear their logo wish to show off.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:12am

    To become the head

    "of a Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group" one must first become a tool.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:20am

    This just illustrates the issue with people who are obsessed with IP protection. They products they sell or their clients/partners sell are interchangeable to them. They don't care if they're selling atomic bombs or catchy tunes by artists who can't play any instruments. It's all just product. It's all just content. They don't care about art or artists. They care about making money. If there were a demand from consumers to buy literal garbage, they'd buy up the landfill and try to pass laws to keep others from interfering with their garbage business. They don't care what they sell.

    Ever wonder why Hollywood has no trouble making movies about pirates, criminals, thieves, and rebels who buck the system? Because it makes them money, regardless of whether it contradicts their greedy ideology.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      Intellectual Property in a nutshell, should be modded insightful if it was not so plainly the truth! But people around here need help!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:06pm

      Re:

      The garbage industry has already rebranded to "by-product"-management in EU after it became illegal to transfer garbage across borders.

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

  • identicon
    Andy, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:21am

    First time caller....

    I usually just read the articles and user feedback. I don't post... But I wanted to this time to show support. Got me an XL hoodie in heather gray.

    Keep up the great work, TD!

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

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:23am

    Units?

    £5 != $5

    (according to google it is $6.56 right now...)
    Rate lookup

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:26am

    G.A.G for short?

    So his group is called G.A.G?

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

  • identicon
    DCL, 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:46am

    Conspiracy Alert!

    Obviously Mike M is colluding with this G.A.G group to drum up business!


    Wake up you Sheeple! Think of the children!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:42pm

      Re: Conspiracy Alert!

      I'm waiting for someone from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group to place a large order for these shirts to prove a point... thus serving Mike with a GAG order.

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

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 11:53am

    I've been reading for years, I had absolutely no idea your content was more or less public domain.
    Apparently you don't mention it very often. :-)

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

    • icon
      Avatar28 (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      I also didn't realize it was public domain but Mike has mentioned on numerous occasions about how they really didn't care if some other site was scraping Techdirt and reposting it on their own site.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re:

        I also didn't realize it was public domain but Mike has mentioned on numerous occasions about how they really didn't care
        That knowledge is of limited use without a legal notice. Other people have said things like that, only to be bought out later by some company who does care.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      It generally only comes up in situations such as this where someone thinks they've got a 'Gotcha!' moment only to fall flat on their face when Mike or someone else at TD point out that no, they've got no problem with other people copying their stuff.

      On the one hand it would be nice if they had a disclaimer of some sort, perhaps at the bottom of the page noting that the articles on TD are public domain(or as close as you can legally get anyway), on the other hand that might decrease the faceplant moments such as described in the article, and losing out on the chance for such hilarity would be a sorry thing indeed.

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

  • identicon
    rich vernon, 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:05pm

    shirts

    if you make a 4x ill buy one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:26pm

    Completely off topic, but....

    The word 'THEFT' on the shirt is going to look baller when it is bedazzled!

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

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:54pm

    It is the wrong platform. You need to have "Copying is not Theft" engraved on a sledgehammer. I'll buy the first one as a gift for Mr. Anderson.

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

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 12:57pm

    And of course because you've now said it's okay they'll take that as proof that copyright works anyway because of "see, look, he's given permission and now his T-Shirts are selling!".

    Unfalsifiable arguments are usually the weakest.

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

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:18pm

    Techdirt

    When will people and organizations learn not to troll the site where the term Striesand Effect originated?

    Until then, my popcorn futures seem like a good investment.

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

  • icon
    Wargazm (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:21pm

    I agree with this entire post, but playing devil's advocate: With the t-shirt issue, Techdirt has leverage that many small-time graphic designers simply do not have. It's all well and good to say that copying is not theft (and its not). But that is small consolation if, for example, I create a design for a tshirt that proved popular, only to have Hot Topic take it, throw their manufacturing muscle behind it, and sell them without attributing me.

    Copying may not literally be theft, but it's still immoral. And in certain cases, it should be rightfully attacked as a crime (not "theft") in and of itself.

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

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      Copying may not literally be theft, but it's still immoral. And in certain cases, it should be rightfully attacked as a crime (not "theft") in and of itself.

      I strongly disagree with the idea that copying is in and of itself an immoral act - but yes, we are definitely not saying that all forms of copying are positive or that there should never be any remedy. However, even in those situations where copying is done in extreme bad faith such as your example, it remains true that it's not theft. While the small artist has my sympathy, and my support in turning the situation to their advantage if possible, and maybe even my support in seeking some sort of legal remedy (though this depends strongly on the details), they should not be saying "Hot Topic stole my artwork" any more than a record label should be saying "you stole our songs".

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        This is where the TD staff can start to seem a little nutty and I think it's a big reason why this place is perceived as so anti-artist.

        You're conflating the common word steal with the specific legal definition of theft; and likewise hinging your entire definition of steal on the false premise that it requires physical deprivation of property.

        But both Webster's and the OED have definitions for steal that make it clear that tangible property is not required for something to be stolen. People "steal a kiss," or a performer can "steal the show," or a baserunner in a baseball game can "steal a base." None of these are actually depriving anyone of anything. And the OED has two definitions specifically addressing the stealing of intangibles: d. To take or appropriate dishonestly (anything belonging to another, whether material or immaterial) and e. esp. To plagiarize; to pass off (another's work) as one's own; to ‘borrow’ improperly (words, expressions).

        So I think our hypothetical graphic designer would be fully within her rights to refer to Hot Topic ripping off her designs as them stealing from her. And every linguist, and most English speakers, would know what she meant and agree with that usage of the term.

        I don't understand why TD insists on burying its good message (i.e. illegal downloading isn't necessarily a problem worth fighting and can be a good thing) within this sophomoric game of switcheroo semantics.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 3:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't understand why TD insists on burying its good message (i.e. illegal downloading isn't necessarily a problem worth fighting and can be a good thing) within this sophomoric game of switcheroo semantics.

          Because often the ones using the word that way are not doing it just because, they do it because they feel it benefits them, but only to the extent that it benefits them, leaving it an ultimately empty emotional argument.

          (An idea I've kicked around a few times and have yet to get an answer on is that if someone believes that copyright infringement is theft do they also believe it should be treated as theft? For most that claim the two are interchangeable I'm guessing the answer would be 'No', given if copyright infringement was treated as actual theft it would drastically weaken how it was treated legally, making conflating the two dishonest on their part.)

          It would be like if someone went around saying that their arguments are perfectly sound, and if people were only smarter or more honest they'd agree with them. It's a poisoning of the discourse by using loaded, incorrect terminology when there are more accurate, less emotionally biased terms to use.

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

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 3:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK well yes, let me be fair: I'm not saying I freak out every time anyone colloquially uses the term "stealing" in such a way. To a certain degree I think it's fine (and I do love the quote about how "great artists steal" after all). But, a couple of important caveats:

          Firstly, I do think it's important to fight against the colloquial usage when it comes to lots of instances of copying. There has been a decades-long campaign to hammer the idea into people's heads that your rights in a creative work are no different from property, but that's by no means natural or the norm. For many people in human history, in fact, it would have been considered generally ridiculous to say someone "stole your idea" or "stole your song". And now in the internet era, I think it's more important than ever for our culture as a whole to start absorbing the idea that copying is its own unique thing, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but distinct and not just a form of stealing.

          Secondly, however, the primary thing we are rebutting when we say "copying is not theft" is not just casual usage of the term stealing (and so perhaps I was a bit unfair when summarizing above) but firm, clear and unambiguous assertions that they are the same thing. We see those all the time. "Copying an artist's work is exactly like breaking into their house and robbing them"; "copyright infringement is like snatching someone's purse"; "copying is exactly the same as stealing, the fact that it happens online makes no difference, it's theft plain and simple"; etc. etc. etc.

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

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 6:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            " There has been a decades-long campaign to hammer the idea into people's heads that your rights in a creative work are no different from property, but that's by no means natural or the norm. "

            See, this is where I think you lose the plot a bit.

            Ownership of anything (aside from the clothes on our back) is all un-natural. The rights to own land, buildings, and things beyond what you carry on your person are all constructs of our legal system. Your right to hold the name Techdirt (and the domain) exist not as some natural law, but rather as a legal construct within our structure of society.

            Copyright is something granted under our legal systems. The rights granted to consumers come out of that initial right - if you have the right to "own" your work product for a given period, then you need a legal mechanism by which you can grant others the rights to enjoy it without selling them the rights of complete ownership.

            With physical product it was simple: you buy an album, you sell it to someone else, and the rights transfer with physical control. No, you don't OWN that AC/DC song, but you do own the copy in your hand.

            With digital, it is easier for things to get fuzzy. It hasn't always been easy to transfer rights from one person to another. The concept however remains the same.

            Now, obtaining those works without a license does not steal the original, it does mean that the work was obtained without license and thus, is illegal. In reality, it's not any different from sneaking into a movie theater or making counterfeit tickets to get into a concert. You obtain something for nothing.

            It's also important to remember that copying is effectively the same as taking a CD from the store and not paying of it. The physical CD isn't what matters (blanks are pennies a piece), it's what is on it. You didn't steal a blank CD (unless you are an idiot), you stole the rights to the music. Stealing the rights to the music online really isn't any different.

            Once you get over the lack of physical form, digital material really isn't any different. Copying bits isn't any different from photocopying a book (or money, for that matter).

            "think it's more important than ever for our culture as a whole to start absorbing the idea that copying is its own unique thing, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but distinct and not just a form of stealing."

            This is the other place you fall into a hole. Copying when permitted by the artist is good. Things like CC licenses make this possible and it happens every day. But trying to mix that in with piracy and trying to excuse piracy by saying "look at all these good uses" is intellectual tiddly winks. It's the same sort of vapid arguments that the NRA uses to justify everyone walking around with an AK47 over their shoulders.

            At the end of the day, Techdirt as a whole plays a game of "since some copying is good, clearly all of it is good in some way". Leeches on wounds are good in some ways too, but not recommended for most things, we know better.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2016 @ 8:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Except that the artist doesn't suddenly became unable to sell what's on the disc now, does he?

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

              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 30 Aug 2016 @ 10:35am

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

                Actually, yes he does. When everyone has a copy, there is no longer a market to sell it. When everyone can get a copy for nothing, the market price is determined and it pretty much ends there.

                The only thing the artist would have left is some sort of moral high ground to try to guilt you into paying for it. Otherwise, if everyone had a copy (or could get one for nothing without any additional effort) then there is no reason to buy it - just go get it.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:05am

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

                  "When everyone has a copy, there is no longer a market to sell it"

                  Bullshit, but that's typical of course. Plenty of people will buy multiple copies of a specific film, for example, even where the film itself is public domain. There just has to be a reason for people to wish to do so. Ditto music, books, games, merchandise, etc.

                  "The only thing the artist would have left is some sort of moral high ground to try to guilt you into paying for it."

                  Only if the artist is utterly lacking in imagination and has no communication with their fans to work out what extra they'd like to have. So, a poor or lazy artist might struggle, but talented artists with an active interest in their fanbase won't.

                  Why should we support the former group at the expense of the latter?

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

                  • icon
                    Whatever (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:03am

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

                    "Bullshit, but that's typical of course."

                    If you think about WHY they buy it, you will understand that it's not about the content, but about the delivery method ("I always wanted a rare copy on VHS-C with the spanish subtitles"). They already have the content and no real reason to buy it again just for the content.

                    You know that, but you ignore it.

                    "Only if the artist is utterly lacking in imagination and has no communication with their fans to work out what extra they'd like to have. "

                    Of course - because they have to provide extra because the original product no longer has a market price... it's free. At that point, people are buying the extra, and not the content.

                    Thanks for proving my point. Like a blind rat, sometimes you stumble over the truth.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:47am

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

                      "If you think about WHY they buy it, you will understand that it's not about the content, but about the delivery method ("I always wanted a rare copy on VHS-C with the spanish subtitles"). They already have the content and no real reason to buy it again just for the content."

                      Funny. I was just at a film festival, where people were most certainly re-buying content for a wide variety of reasons, which ranged from extra features and upgraded sound/video to uncut footage to simply supporting the local video labels who are doing excellent work releasing obscure movies. Many of these are available for the first time legally, but people were happy to pay up for a legal copy. Just for the content.

                      Once again, reality disagrees with you. Why, it's almost as if you HAVE to lie to make your point!

                      "Of course - because they have to provide extra because the original product no longer has a market price... it's free. At that point, people are buying the extra, and not the content."

                      So, they're still buying, even after they've already bought the content once already? Thus, your claim that nobody would buy again is a lie.

                      This is one of your weakest responses yet. People buying something they already own doesn't count because they're really just buying the extra bits they didn't get before. But, this is bad, because they aren't just paying again for something they already own, even though they are indeed paying more money? Full of shit as ever.

                      In the real world, the point is that there's always ways to compete with free, whether the "free" is brought around by legal or illegal means. The problem is, you have to work for it, rather than lying about people on the internet so you can get more money for nothing.

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

            • identicon
              Thad, 30 Aug 2016 @ 9:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ownership of anything (aside from the clothes on our back) is all un-natural. The rights to own land, buildings, and things beyond what you carry on your person are all constructs of our legal system.


              Every time I see this argument, I think, "Ah, clearly this person is not a dog owner."

              If you approach my gate, my dog will bark at you. She doesn't seem to agree with your premise that ownership of territory is a legal abstraction.

              Our specific legal implementation of property ownership is an artificial construct; you're right about that much. But the instinct to assert ownership over territory most assuredly exists in nature.

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

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 6:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "This is where the TD staff can start to seem a little nutty and I think it's a big reason why this place is perceived as so anti-artist."

          I'd love to see evidence that TD is perceived as anti-artist from anyone that doesn't have a vested interest in making money off artists.

          "You're conflating the common word steal with the specific legal definition of theft..."

          Correct, because that's the whole point of accusing copiers of theft; to equate their actions with an act that is generally despised and universally illegal. They want the average person to think that copyright infringement, or even non-infringing copying, is just as bad as actual legal theft. Remember the "You wouldn't steal a car" anti-piracy campaign? Direct, explicit comparison to removal of a physical object.

          "I don't understand why TD insists on burying its good message (i.e. illegal downloading isn't necessarily a problem worth fighting and can be a good thing) within this sophomoric game of switcheroo semantics."

          It's ironic that you would accuse TD of exactly what the copyright industry has been doing for years, using language to paint a very misleading picture of what copyright is all about. Also note that I would argue the exact opposite, that TD spends far more time talking about the real-world effects of piracy compared to the horror story painted by the copyright industry than it does the definition of a word. I think your memory is selective.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 7:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            For the years that I've been reading Techdirt, every so often you'd see the recurring claim made by trolls that Techdirt is a website often disregarded, vilified, mocked, etc. by a/the larger community of artists, copyright holders, or whoever constitutes a grander group of significant people in tech, art or whatever.

            And yet, outside of sites like the Trichordist, you don't see any of this supposed major outrage against Techdirt. No sites, no articles, no discussions, just a lot of handwavium and anecdotal insistence. Who are these artists, lawmakers and individuals, that are so angry that they have to be brought up (but not named, because reasons?) every other time a point is made?

            I'm still waiting.

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

            • icon
              JMT (profile), 30 Aug 2016 @ 1:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I've asked numerous times for links to these Techdirt critics, who are apparently very common in the content industries, and yet I've never had a single response...

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2016 @ 1:52am

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

                Consider that the same, single troll who spams "hates copyright being enforced" every single time insists he is an artist/content creator, insists that Masnick hacks his IP address and as a result everyone on Techdirt knows who he is, continues to whine about his obscurity/lack of sales - still refuses to prove who he is and his credentials such that people might attempt to support his "starving artist" lifestyle.

                It's hard to not think that these supposed "critics" are nothing but the fanciful bogeymen of the usual trolls.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      With the t-shirt issue, Techdirt has leverage that many small-time graphic designers simply do not have. It's all well and good to say that copying is not theft (and its not). But that is small consolation if, for example, I create a design for a tshirt that proved popular, only to have Hot Topic take it, throw their manufacturing muscle behind it, and sell them without attributing me.

      Copying may not literally be theft, but it's still immoral. And in certain cases, it should be rightfully attacked as a crime (not "theft") in and of itself.


      I think in cases where we've seen that happen, the person whose image is copied and repackaged has EVERY right to speak out about it and harm the reputation of Hot Topic. That's what I discussed in the post above. If you do copy someone's work without attribution, it can come back to haunt you because the public at large will likely find the practice sketchy.

      And, yes, we at Techdirt may have a larger starting platform from which to make that argument, but you'd be amazed at the appetite for stories about "big company uses little designer's imagery..." I see stories like that all the time, and it's possible to shame the big companies pretty readily.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Copying is immoral, hmmm?

      Some time ago, one of the TechDirt articles was on a small Australian graphic designer complaining bitterly about some Chinese Art Museum "stealing" her work for one of its events.

      What was interesting was that she had no problems taking pictures/scans of book covers and then claiming copyright over said images.

      She couldn't see that she was doing exactly what she was complaining about. In point of fact, the Art Museum made use of her image in a larger work, whereas she made no changes what-so-ever to the images she scanned.

      She couldn't see, as many cannot see, that copying in and of itself, has no moral issue attached. It is ancillary matters that will give rise to any possible moral issues.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous, 31 Aug 2016 @ 6:00am

      Re: Copying is moral

      Like it or not, Copying is moral and it's not theft or piracy and will never be.

      According to Rick Falkvinge, “Using precise language is paramount for our own future liberties. When people are saying “I downloaded a copy of Avengers“, that use of language erodes their liberties just a little bit further. It is wrong, as in technically and factually wrong. Looking at the use of “downloading a copy” or “getting a copy” and how this is incorrect, we need to examine why it is important to use other words.

      For that’s not what happens. “Getting” or “downloading” doesn’t describe the process. No copy pops onto the wires, travels through the net, and sets itself on the hard drive on the person’s system. This is the copyright industry model of reality, their fake model, which they use to push for harsher laws and erosion of liberty. This is how they equate “stealing a copy of the Avengers” with “stealing a gallon of milk”. That the object is somehow stolen through the internet. That’s not what happens.

      What really happens is that you have instructed your system to listen to a complex series of protocol packets, and using them as instructions, you manufacture a copy at your end. You are making a copy using your own resources and property, by listening to instructions online. If nobody listened to these instructions at the time, no copy would get manufactured. The copy isn’t downloaded, it is manufactured. This technical distinction is crucial for three reasons of net liberty.
      What really happens is that you have instructed your system to listen to a complex series of protocol packets, and using them as instructions, you manufacture a copy at your end. You are making a copy using your own resources and property, by listening to instructions online. If nobody listened to these instructions at the time, no copy would get manufactured. The copy isn’t downloaded, it is manufactured.

      Selmer Bringsjord argues that all forms of copying are morally permissible (without commercial use), because some forms of copying are permissible and there is not a logical distinction between various forms of copying:
      http://kryten.mm.rpi.edu/bringsjord_copying.pdf


      Morality

      First, the argument must rest on the basic elements. So put aside the secondary consideration of economic effects assuming particular social or legal constructions, and look at copying in itself.

      To evaluate something morally, we can follow Kant, whose fundamental moral rule is: Act only if the maxim of your action can be willed as a universal law. That is, we ask: would we want an action to be a general law?

      If a digital object is good, then copying it duplicates and spreads that good. And the incidental cost of copying is practically nothing. We can certainly wish this were a general law: if everyone copied freely and widely, we would all benefit – we would all receive very much more good, and at negligable cost. Copying seems clearly moral, and any restriction such as copyright must therefore be partly immoral.

      Creative production can be addressed similarly, with a similar result: We ought to help cultural items be produced because we will all benefit. So helping production, and copying, are both moral. One is not intrinsically antagonistic or limiting on the other – in fact they are mutually supportive. You have a duty to do both.

      It is difficult to see how, under any rational ethical measure, copying could be anything but highly moral.
      http://www.hxa.name/articles/content/anti-copyright-summary_hxa7241_2009.html

      According to Professor David Koepsell, There is no way to exclusively possess an expression type (– the abstract ‘pattern’, as opposed to token – the concrete instance), nor does reproduction/copying of an expression type once expressed require force or violence. Nor does it impinge upon individual autonomy to do so. If someone comes up to you and rips a picture from your hand, that's a very different act from if someone copies the picture. Unlike land and moveables, IP laws are not ‘grounded’ in any brute facts of possession.

      IP law is solely pragmatic: it is to support a particular commercial arrangement proposed as practically beneficial overall.

      Just laws are grounded in brute facts. The positive law may be unjust if it conflicts with ‘grounded’ laws. For example, if laws were passed to make private property unlawful, those laws would be unjust. IP is not a ‘natural right’ nor is it ‘grounded’, so a critical inquiry is: are there parts of the world for which the granting of IP rights conflicts with other, grounded, rights? – and hence where it is unjust.

      There are two types of commons: ‘commons by choice’ and ‘commons by necessity’. Commons by choice involve parts of the world that could be possessed, but for which we make conscious decisions to keep them in the public domain (for example, national parks, international waters). Commons by necessity are parts of the world that cannot be possessed or enclosed in any meaningful sense. Examples include: all of the oxygen in the atmosphere, bands of the radio spectrum, laws of nature.

      The human genome, for example, is a constantly evolving object that involves every member of the species, and is a commons by necessity, like outer space, the atmosphere, sunlight, laws of nature, and radio spectra. We have rights in common to these objects. These common rights supersede conscious decisions about how to use them.

      And this isn't a pragmatic argument: it is distinct from the idea of ‘anti-commons’. It is an ontological argument: about the nature of the things themselves.

      ‘Who Owns You’; Koepsell; 2009.

      IP laws restrict expression and freedom

      IP rights are exclusionary rights that prevent the unauthorized expression of protected idea types.

      While an author or inventor ‘owns’ their IP, they can exclude others from making unauthorised reproductions of their expressions. They can receive royalties for any reproduction made. They can enjoin the expression of others of their protected idea types.

      The law allows some types of restrictions on expression, typically to prevent physical harms or incitement of physical harms – consistent with Mill's liberty principle. But IP laws are government restrictions on expression having nothing to do with physical harms or incitement.

      Expressed ideas belong to the category ‘commons by necessity’, but IP as a category of law presumes to enclose this. This is an ethical wrong. To ‘own’ such commons is to demand exclusion of people from these commons by necessity – to prevent the free use of these ideas. This is immoral because our shared rights to commons by necessity are grounded in the brute facts of their unenclosability. And to attempt such enclosure is to interfere with and curtail our mental and physical autonomy and our freedom of expression – in contradiction to the initial axioms above.

      Expressed ideas are non-exclusive and unenclosable. Attempts to enclose them are as morally wrong as attempts to enclose genes, sunlight, oxygen, or any other commons by necessity.

      Physical goods are rival: if two people sit on the same chair at the same time, it gets rather cosy, and clearly, the more people who want a slice of my cake, the less there is to go around. But intellectual property goods are nonrival: as many people as want can have a copy of a poem, or a computer program, and there is no difficulty in everyone singing the same song at the same time.

      This nonrivalrousness of intellectual property goods has important consequences for how we should view the justification of moral rights to own them. For when we think of the justification of private physical property, two features are usually foremost: first, the kinds of things that we want to own are potentially scarce (that is, it is possible that there will not be a sufficient supply of them to meet the desires of everyone who might want them), and second they are rival (and so they can only derive their full usefulness for their owner if the owner is able to exclude others from them). But each intellectual property good is nonrival, and so by its is nature abundant: there is no physical reason why each person should not make use of a particular idea. Insofar as there is a scarcity in the supply of a given song or computer program, this is due to us creating an artificial scarcity – turning what would otherwise not be a scarce good into one, by the establishment of enforcement mechanisms which make it possible to exclude people from access to the ideas in question.

      Creating an artificial scarcity in this way has seemed morally suspect to writers since at least Grotius: “If any person should prevent any other person from taking fire from his fire or a light from his torch, I would accuse him of violating the law of human society, because that is the essence of its very nature . . . Why then, when it can be done without any prejudice to his own interests, will not one person share with another things which are useful to the recipient and no loss to the giver?” (‘On the freedom of the seas’, p45; Grotius; 1609.)
      http://www.hxa.name/articles/content/copyright-ethics-against_hxa7241_2010.html

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:40pm

    Thanks - we'll make loads of cheap imitations and sell for five quid each.

    And with that tweet, there's stupid people everywhere rejoicing, shouting "there IS someone dumber than me!!!"

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

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 29 Aug 2016 @ 1:49pm

    You like copying stuff? Hah! I'm going to copy your stuff to show how wrong copying stuff is!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 2:43pm

    Techdouche.com

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2016 @ 6:11pm

    So what this guy - who believes that copying is theft, and is in charge of an organization that believes that copying is theft - is going to copy in an attempt to prove that copying is theft.

    Yeah, that'll go over well. But we all know what's going to actually happen: after all this hue and cry, this drummed up moral outrage, this chucklenut will piss off into the great beyond of "nobody gives a fuck" and never follow up on his waving cloth before the bull. Because copyright fanboys will always wither and run from anything that looks like it might put up a fight or just flat out not care.

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

  • icon
    Go5 (profile), 29 Aug 2016 @ 8:48pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2016 @ 8:22am

    Counterfeiting wins! Hurray! – head of anti-counterfeiting lobbying group.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2016 @ 9:20am

    Order placed

    Thank you Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group for letting me know about Techdirt's t-shirt sale. I place my order today. I might not have paid it any attention until you Streisand'ed it you ignorant fucks!

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

  • identicon
    Zonker, 30 Aug 2016 @ 1:50pm

    I can just imagine John Anderson, head of the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group, wearing one of his counterfeit "copying is not theft" t-shirts to one of their events.

    That would be such a great way to spread the message! I hope he goes for it.

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

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 30 Aug 2016 @ 10:23pm

    ... and I never had sex with that woman - Bill Clinton

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


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