Go back to 50 years ago, and tell people that someone wants to produce a new, genetically-engineered type of seeds that will:
1) be sterile and not yield new seeds for the next year's crop 2) contain dominant genes, such that they can be cross-pollinated into nearby fields and render that crop sterile as well 3) be the only seeds that are not adversely affected by a special poison sold by the same person
...they would never believe it. They'd think you were talking about the script to the next James Bond movie or something! The fact that we are discussing whether or not a contract makes this sort of Bond-villainy legitimate, rather than whether or not Monsanto execs should be rounded up and put on trial for crimes against humanity just underscores how far down the rabbit hole we've gone in the last few decades.
Re: startssl.com declares intention to commit corporate suicide
When the Morris Worm hit, about 25 years ago, we all put aside our differences and our squabbles to patch things up, but we didn't learn our lesson.
The Morris Worm used a buffer exploit to break into all those computers, an inherent security hole in the C language in which the language does not ensure that the space you're trying to put data into is large enough to accept the data you're putting in, and so if the programmer forgets to check this manually, the data can get written to other areas of memory and end up being used to hack the system.
This should have put the programming community on notice, but it didn't. A quarter-century later, people are still getting hacked by buffer overruns, including Heartbleed, for one very simple reason: people are still writing C code that's vulnerable to buffer overruns.
Make no mistake; this is inherently a problem in the C language. You don't hear about buffer overruns in Java or Pascal or Ruby or Python because the languages are designed in such a way that that's impossible. But Windows and *nix systems have to issue critical security patches on a regular basis because they're written in C, or in C++ or Objective-C, which are closely related and share C's flaws.
We know better than this. We have known better than this for longer than most people reading this post have been alive. I quote from Tony Hoare, one of the great pioneers in computer science, talking in 1980 about work he did in 1960:
A consequence of this principle [designing a language with checks against buffer overruns built in] is that every occurrence of every subscript of every subscripted variable was on every occasion checked at run time against both the upper and the lower declared bounds of the array. Many years later we asked our customers whether they wished us to provide an option to switch off these checks in the interest of efficiency on production runs. Unanimously, they urged us not to—they already knew how frequently subscript errors occur on production runs where failure to detect them could be disastrous. I note with fear and horror that even in 1980, language designers and users have not learned this lesson. In any respectable branch of engineering, failure to observe such elementary precautions would have long been against the law.
And he's right; it should be. The Morris Worm put us all on notice, and the Heartbleed bug serves as a stark reminder that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. 34 years after Hoare's warning, and nearly a quarter-century after the Morris Worm, it's still not considered an act of criminal negligence by the law--or even generally considered a shameful act by one's peers in the computer programming community--to build an operating system, browser, or other network-facing software, or other software that has an inherent security requirement, in C.
One mistake: please stop calling abusive publishers "content creators." These guys creating the content are very rarely the problem; the ones distributing it are, and they're generally completely distinct from the content creators.
That's the thing that far too many people don't understand about copyright, and it gives undeserved legitimacy to the current system: if people think it's sticking up for the rights of content creators, then it's a good thing, right? But when people understand that it's actually enabling publishers to exploit the content creators along with all the rest of us, their attitude changes fast.
I honestly don't know why they didn't respond "OK, let's settle this like businessmen," and initiate a hostile takeover of whatever studio tried to sue them first. Surely they've got enough money, and if a tech company owned a major movie studio and started distributing films in a way that actually makes sense, and making profits on it, it would completely undermine the MPAA.
People who think that scientists are in some sort of conspiracy to suppress the truth and enshrine the established consensus viewpoint don't know the first thing abut science.
Who's the most famous scientist of all time, the guy who was widely recognized as being so brilliant that, even almost a century later, his name is still synonymous with "genius" in the colloquial lexicon, even by people who don't know anything about science? Yeah, I'm talking about Albert Einstein. But do you know what he actually did to earn that?
He proved that something that everyone had believed was correct--Newton's laws of motion--were actually wrong. He took the solidly established consensus, found a hole it it, and became the most famous scientist in history. What scientist wouldn't want to be the next Einstein?
But here's the truly interesting thing about it: Newton really wasn't all that wrong. For essentially anything at all that you would want to do on Earth, Newton's laws still hold, and you'd use them rather than Einstein's equations in engineering calculations, because they're simpler. Einstein's Relativity only becomes relevant in extreme situations, such as space travel.
Applying this logic to the analogous situation, even if "the next Einstein" found an Einstein-sized hole in the science of global warming, this suggests that most of the scientific consensus would still be understood to be valid! So denial simply doesn't work at all to anyone with even a cursory understanding of science.
For the first time in eighteen years, there are many bills that seek to put the rights of users at the same level as those of the authors.
That's cool, but still missing the point. Authors are all too often at the same level already: getting screwed over along with the rest of us. This perception, that copyright is working as it should and protecting authors, is one of the biggest factors lending legitimacy to it in the eyes of the general public. If more people understood that the creators are being exploited as much as everyone else by the publishers, things would change real fast.
I wish I could find this now, but I once saw a really insightful article by Orson Scott Card, urging new authors not to sign over their copyrights to their publishers as a part of their contracts. He said, essentially, that their publishers are trying to gain the rights under "work made for hire" doctrine, but that unless the story was actually commissioned, signing a legal document stating that it was made for hire is not only acting against your own best interests, but also committing perjury.
Yeah, pretty much. I wonder how many of the sheep blindly jumping on the character assassination bandwagon actually know who Brendan Eich is and how much good he's done for them.
This is just basic human psychology. The brain remembers things based on associations, and when your first impression of something is full of negativity, you have negative associations with the concept.
In this world of rampant government spending and debt, regulatory monstrosities that create bubbles and then bail out the bad players, and huge unfunded entitlements that will destroy future generations like a tsunami, I think a little Objectivism might help.
If you really think that, I got two words for you: Alan Greenspan.
Gotta love the standard of proof here, considering I've never met you and know nothing of your history.
I think we need a new Internet Law for this scenario. You've heard of Internet debate rules such as Godwin's Law. In the same vein, allow me to offer up Wheeler's Law: in any long-running debate, the probability that one party will realize that they have no case and turn to mockery as an attempt to distract the readers approaches one.
update the laws so that when CEO's and other corporate executives that commit, allow or order crimes to be committed they can be prosecuted up to and including capital offenses.
Do you really want the owner of a flower shop to be personally liable if someone pricks their finger?
Since when is that a crime?
The economy would collapse if employees are personally financially responsible for the firms liabilities.
Maybe, maybe not. It probably wouldn't "collapse," but there's almost certainly some truth to the fear there. But no one was talking about holding employees financially liable for their firms' financial liabilities; the proposal was to hold executives and decision makers criminally responsible for their firms' crimes. If you honestly can't tell the difference... doesn't that kinda validate what I said about Objectivism above?
The problem, as you suggested, is the Objectivists. For decades they've been a very influential voice defining capitalism as the twisted monstrosity Ayn Rand had in mind, to the point where today, people espousing the actual theories and principles of Adam Smith get accused of being dirty commies. And if infinite goods is gonna destroy that capitalism, where do I sign up?
Objectivists are a blight on society, and while I hesitate to use terms like "guilty until proven innocent" even as hyperbole, they need to be regarded with the same "treat as suspicious by default" viewpoint as Scientologists, and for the same basic reason: a key defining characteristic of practitioners is their religious adherence to an ideology that is actively and maliciously harmful to those around them.
If the audience understands the rules and was given enough information to be capable of figuring out the solution before it happened, then it's OK. Otherwise, it feels like the author just pulled a solution out of his Deus Ex Magia. (Forgive the mixed metaphor.)