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giel's Journal: Copy(right) laws!? 2

Journal by giel

Today I found this (Skylarov like) story about some Dan Jackson who published a binary to decode the .lit format on Slashdot. It seems to me laws on copying software are a hot topic to most of the readers of Slashdot and the people in general.

Anyway since I assume most people do see copying as a legal act or feel that they should be able to copy software and electronic content, I do not really understand there exist laws that prohibit copying. Most of us live in democratic countries, don't we?

I cannot see anything wrong in copying or decoding your own content and there is nothing wrong with software which allows you to do so. Moreover I see it as natural behaviour of computers that they copy stuff. From internet to memory to harddisk to memory to printer to etc, etc. I hope that this idea and the fact that I own some computers does not make me a criminal.

Yes, yes, offcourse I know: authors and credit for their work and blahblah, but my guess is dumping some laws would mostly affect the media industry and not the authors of content. I mean if someone wants me to write a piece of code or a report, he will have to to pay me. If the code is good and used all around the world I'm only happy and more people will ask me.

Don't get me wrong, I would not appreciate anyone publishing work with parts of it which are copies of other work and not telling so. People should get the credits for their work.

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Copy(right) laws!?

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  • Today I found this (Skylarov like) story about some Dan Jackson who published a binary to decode the .lit format on Slashdot. It seems to me laws on copying software are a hot topic to most of the readers of Slashdot and the people in general.

    This has a lot to do with the fact that the technology that enables the copying has advanced to the point there it has started to cause concern to the creators and owners of the works being copied. They in turn have turned to increasing draconian methods to try and curb this new technology. Hence the heat.

    Anyway since I assume most people do see copying as a legal act or feel that they should be able to copy software and electronic content, I do not really understand there exist laws that prohibit copying. Most of us live in democratic countries, don't we?

    There are laws of 'fair use' that establish when, where and how works can be copied. But these laws are running into problems because they were devised at a time when copyrighted works were primarily physical objects, and the cost of copying was high, whereas now the works are being converted to digital formats, hence easier to copy.

    I cannot see anything wrong in copying or decoding your own content and there is nothing wrong with software which allows you to do so. Moreover I see it as natural behaviour of computers that they copy stuff. From internet to memory to harddisk to memory to printer to etc, etc. I hope that this idea and the fact that I own some computers does not make me a criminal.

    This is where the real trouble starts - most people share the view you express above, and this attitude is now firmly entrenched, because the copyright owners did not really start doing anything to try and change people's minds until very late in the day. Their cause has not been helped by the methods by which they've attempted to circumvent copying - either it has restricted access to certain OS platforms, or it has prevented access by the visually-impaired, or it has restricted the 'fair use' access that would be afford if the same work was in physical form.

    Yes, yes, offcourse I know: authors and credit for their work and blahblah, but my guess is dumping some laws would mostly affect the media industry and not the authors of content. I mean if someone wants me to write a piece of code or a report, he will have to to pay me. If the code is good and used all around the world I'm only happy and more people will ask me.

    But, to use your own example, you only get paid once for the work, irrespective of how many times the work is reproduced. Yes, it's nice to get credit for the work you've produced, but getting some kind of financial reward is a lot better!

    Don't get me wrong, I would not appreciate anyone publishing work with parts of it which are copies of other work and not telling so. People should get the credits for their work.

    In an ideal world, we would be able to obtain music, software, and other digital goods directly from the creators, and pay a reasonable price. At the moment we have a world where mass-copying of digital works, without recompense to the creators, is seen as acceptable, and where attempts (partly by the creators, but mainly by the middlemen) to circumvent such copying are obstructing 'fair use'.

    Unfortunately, attitudes will have to change on both sides of the divide before we reach that ideal world...
    • Yes, the main problems are in the area of third parties selling copies of works and bypassing middlemen and or authors in a world based on trading physical work, causing financial loss to owners and or creators of works.

      Media such as television raise interesting questions though. In the Netherlands the fee to watch television is included in tax (this excludes cable television). This means that I can and may watch or record something (for personal use, eg. to watch it a few days later) from dutch television. But is it legal to record a movie and and then give copies to friends? I guess - and hope not - but on the contrary they could have recorded the work themselves.

      Media industry has to pay to create copies in advance, which costs money. Some - I don't know any figures - of these copies will never be bought... Radio and television stations have to pay to broadcast songs and movies no matter whether or not I will listen or watch...

      People should respect the creators of work, whether they like the work or not, and so should the media industry, who have an oligopoly on the distribution of works and so the possibility of making a lot more money on artists - using very nasty and restrictive contracts - than they should. In my opinion there is need for a good and widely approved license or registration method like GPL - perhaps GPL or LGPL even does apply - to protect work from being used or distributed in ways the author does not allow by stating some kind of ownership.

      Anyway digital media and internet will demand - I hope - radical changes in attitude towards sharing, copying and or enjoying 'copyrighted' work.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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