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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment 128

Posted by timothy
from the I'll-take-the-environment-alex dept.
zumaya100k writes "In recent months, Slashdot has covered the rise of the Pirate Party and the battles in Europe over iPod interoperability. Canada's Hill Times has an insightful column from Michael Geist that links these developments as the growing importance of copyright as a political issue. He argues that copyright is now tracking the environment as a mainstream political issue." (Geist is talking about Canada here, but much the same can be said about the U.S. and other places.)
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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment

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  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:45PM (#16410153) Journal
    The average Canadian knows little about the intricacies of fair dealing or technological protection measures, yet the implications of copyright policies that hamper free speech, privacy, security, and consumer rights are far easier to appreciate.
    The simpler the cause, the easier it is to make it a mainstream issue.

    Complexity is anathema to politics in most countries.
    • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:59PM (#16410345) Homepage
      I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. She reads email, writes letters and does a little bit of surfing. She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble. So I posed gave her a quick run down of the UK RIP bill (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,651 2,334007,00.html) basically saying that the government can come along and watch everything she does on the net, can be put in jail for refusing to give her password out etc and her response was. " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

      To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late. Most /.'ers can see what is coming but the general populs, the ones who vote (though how effective that is I don't know) will happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?

        I agree with your basic premise (although I don't think we are anywhere near a police state as the phrase is normally used), but one thing we do need is a cleary stated and consice answer to the above question. There is an answer, but it *is* a fair question.

        happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door

        And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by swarsron (612788)
          "And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you say? It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough."

          That's a very real problem. But it's not necessarily the fault of the person raising the issue. I often discover that even if you give people quite concrete examples they disregard them because they think that it's too farfetched. And that's mainly beca
        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:42PM (#16411799) Journal
          It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough.
          They do not see laws designed to strip the rights of Bad Guys (copyright infringers, terrorists, anti-social asshats) as affecting them, because they do not percieve Bad Guys as part of their "community".

          Change "making the threat seem real enough"
          to "making the threat seem personal enough"

          The quickest and easiest way to do that is to ask [Whoever] personal questions you know they aren't going to answer.

          When [Whoever] refuses, ask them "As long as you didn't do anything wrong, why shouldn't you answer?"

          The answer they give you is the same answer to the question "As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?"

          Once you change the way those people look at the issue, you can change the way they feel about it. To do that, you have to go after their fundamental assumption that Bad Guys != Their Community.
        • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:56PM (#16411929) Homepage Journal
          How about the New York State Thruway analogy.

          Back in the old days, the speed limit on the NYST was 55mph, like other limited-access highways. But NOBODY went 55mph, and in fact it was quite common to drive past police cars at 70mph, assuming they weren't driving right beside you at that speed, or faster.

          In essence, EVERYONE was breaking the law. That also meant that had they wanted to, or if they had to fill a quota of some sort, they could stop ANYONE for at least a speeding ticket. Beyond that, they could probably add reckless endangerment, etc. But the reality is, since everyone was breaking the law, they could adopt alternate criteria for stopping you, say they don't like your looks, or your car's looks.

          To be honest, I don't know that the system was ever abused in this way. I never heard of any abuse, that that doesn't mean that there was or wasn't any.

          But the possiblity was there.

          Now to bring it home to your wife...

          Do you KNOW that you're not breaking any laws? When was the last time you sat down and read ALL the laws, to sort out which ones are applicable to you? How about Blue Laws? I've heard that some places have laws on the books that the Missionary Position is the only legal method for sexual intercourse. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I do remember some time in the past few years, a high court ruling that upheld a law against sex toys in your own bedroom. There was recently a rider forbidding mail-order purchase prescription drugs from Canada, and it was tacked onto a completely unrelated bill. It turns out that sometimes these riders are added late in the process, too late to be in the version of the bill given to legislators for review. Things can sail right under the radar, leaving room for "selective enforcement."

          In these days, I'd mostly fear not knowing enough about who I'm doing business with. In a completely innocent fashion, it's possible to "make material contributions to terrorist organizations," by simply buying something from the wrong people.
        • by Pseudonym (62607)

          The answer is very simple: If you have nothing to hide, why don't you send all your correspondence on postcards? The postage is cheaper, after all.

          It's because we all have something to hide, even if we've done nothing wrong. The issue isn't secrecy, it's privacy.

          You do nothing wrong when you have a quiet word with your boss about a co-worker, or your trade union representative about your boss, file your tax return, talk about your yeast infection with your doctor, go to the toilet, have sex, dance naked

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        At least in the US, the correct answer to "As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?" involves pointing out that the Constitution was written to protect you from the State's wrongdoing, not vice-versa.

        In the twentieth century alone, 100,000,000 people were murdered by their own governments. With a track record like that, the question should never be whether you're doing something wrong -- it should be whether they are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late.

        Not that this has anything to do with TFA, but most people misuse or do not understand the words "police state" [wikipedia.org]

        "Security state" or "militarized state" more accurately describes what people like to biatch about.

        [/offtopic]

        I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. .... She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble.

        Copyright isn't limited t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        you presented it wrong...

        Ask her if it's ok for the police to come into your home at any time and look through all your drawers and everything else at any time they like, and will jail you for telling them to go away or not letting them in.

        what is her response then?
        • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecransNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:35PM (#16410855) Homepage
          you presented it wrong...

          Ask her if it's ok for the police to come into your home at any time and look through all your drawers and everything else at any time they like, and will jail you for telling them to go away or not letting them in.

          what is her response then?


          You still overestimate the average person. They will say that the police would only do it to criminals, so they have no reason to fear the police having that authority. Seriously, I've tried to use this exact explanation. Somewhere along the line, people stopped believing that they themselves were the fundamental source of authority, and have come to believe that governments have inherent power. They believe that the government is always looking out for them, and beyond criticism. Somehow, they just don't get the fact the government is just a big group of people who are lazy, stupid, and power hungry as everybody else. Often, more so.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by element-o.p. (939033)
            Exactly!

            To some extent, the freedoms that most Western countries (at least the U.S.--I have limited experience in other Western countries) have enjoyed for so long have become our own worst enemy, in a sense.

            Because most of us in the U.S. have not had to fear our own government, we have adopted the mindset that our government *wouldn't* do the kinds of things that the Constitution was designed to prevent. Therefore, we don't care if Bush wiretaps in violation of the 4th amendment and FISA, if the Pat
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And what about all those who don't vote

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_voting [wikipedia.org]

        It's a reform needed in the UK and the USA. Help moderate politics, keep government for all the people, support, argue, fight for compulsory balloting.
        • If people don't want to vote, there is something wrong with the political/electoral system. Compulsory voting may make the problem less evident, but it doesn't deal with the problem.
      • her response was. " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

        And of course the answer to that we should all remember is: "Do you trust the govenment enough to not screw up. So you trust government enough to keep absolutely clean database records, and not have your name get attached to some violation or other."

        That's the problem with unfettered, growing data collection on citizens... it becomes impossible to keep records pristine. Crosslinks with similar names, previous residents of you

      • by AJWM (19027)
        " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

        Read "Atlas Shrugged", and memorize the speech (is it Dagny Taggart's?) about how the government has no hold over law-abiding citizens, which is why the government passes so many laws covering so many different aspects of everyday life -- and often laws that conflict with each other -- that it's virtually impossible to "not do anything wrong". It's just that most of those laws are only enforced when it is convenient (for the government) to do so.

        O
        • Read "Atlas Shrugged", and memorize the speech (is it Dagny Taggart's?) about how the government has no hold over law-abiding citizens...

          I believe you mean this:

          Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'

      • Most human beings are happier under the boot of some dictatorship or the other. As long as they're in a relatively snug groove of the boot, the stamping doesn't really bother them.

        Let's look at the history of humanity. For most of human civilisation, and even before that, humans lived in societies without rights, equality, freedoms or justice. The powerful ruled, and if you objected, you would either be brutally beaten or killed outright. Not only that, your extended family could also be expected to suffer as well.

        So with that in mind, lets consider the human "liberty loving" gene, the one that bristles when your rights are infringed upon. Do you think that is now a common gene? Do you think most human beings have retained a strong expression in genes like that one. Or do you think that rather, it is those humans who expressed more "quiet sheep" genes that proliferated throughout most of history.

        Most people are descended from a long, long line of quiet, contented serfs. Ergo, most people will naturally act and behave like quiet, contented serfs. You are surrounded by them daily, choked by their suffocating apathy. They are individual only in the individual ways that they acquiesce to other humans who exude the "master" pheromone. Ultimately, democracy collapses under the dead weight of their inborn complacency
        • by 2nd Post! (213333)
          You are surrounded by them daily, choked by their suffocating apathy. They are individual only in the individual ways that they acquiesce to other humans who exude the "master" pheromone. Ultimately, democracy collapses under the dead weight of their inborn complacency


          Which is why the US is a constitutional republic and a representative democracy. In other words, we elect our masters and then we don't worry about anything unless our masters do something stupid.
        • by zobier (585066)
          Except the 'crats spawned so many bastards and have such large extended families that there's a lot of their dominant, rebellious genes spread around.
        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          That was quite a powerful set of paragraphs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by testong129 (1012739)
        I have thought of that as an excuse for this behavior also, but then I think: who am to decide what is "right" and "wrong"? I am sure that your wife, as almost everyone else, does "wrong" things every day - speeding on the freeway, copying music CDs to her ipod, and now it is criticizing the government. In the past it was perfectly fine to go break Jewish-owned shops, intern Japanese-Americans, own slaves, [fill in something bad that your government did in the past]. We can always pretend that we are model
      • by mqduck (232646)
        You'd better hope your wife never becomes savvy enough, starts reading Slashdot and reads you putting her down. ;)

        Oh, I suppose I could add a "geeks don't have wives/girlfriends" joke... so, here goes: HAHAHA ya rite l0s4r u wish. who is she, ur dog?
      • by kabocox (199019)
        As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?

        To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late. Most /.'ers can see what is coming but the general populs, the ones who vote (though how effective that is I don't know) will happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door


        I take is as long as I don't do anything massively annoying or expensive to the government or companies; they'll mainly ignore me and leave me
      • by coats (1068)
        Ask her if she really trusts the government under all of the following:
        • Nixon
        • LBJ
        • Clinton
        • J. Edgar Hoover
        • Joe McCarthy
      • by alexo (9335)

        I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. She reads email, writes letters and does a little bit of surfing. She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble. So I posed gave her a quick run down of the UK RIP bill (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,651 2,334007,00.html) basically saying that the government can come along and watch everything she does on the net, can be put in jail for refusing to give her password out etc

        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          If all people that work in or for "the government" were made to undergo monthly polygraph tests

          No good. Polygraphy [antipolygraph.org] is a completely subjective pseudo-science, used by government and industry to extract confessions. Exactly the sort of abuses of power we should be preventing. Why do you think a polygraph is completely inadmissible as evidence in any court in the land? When the two possible conclusions from such a test are "possibly deceptive" and "inconclusive", it's pretty obvious it's all crap.

      • As another comment about the growing surveillance culture in another country put it:

        Biometric ID Cards ready for Trial in the UK -- Re:What's the problem? [slashdot.org]

        The problem as ever is not: "If you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear." but rather "if your government never does anything wrong you have nothing to fear".

        This is the angle you need to take with your wife and/or anyone else who spouts that sneaky ad hominem argument. (Yes, that's an ad hominem, or ad feminem as the case may be. It translate
    • by garcia (6573)
      Too bad the average American believes that if you are interested in free speech implications and privacy that you are a terrorist or a conspiracy theorist.
  • by balsy2001 (941953) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:46PM (#16410169)
    This has been a very big issue for corpoprations and politicians for years now (think of Disney getting copyright extensions for mickey mouse), but only recently due to the advances in technology has it become a household issue.
    • I can't believe this hasn't been modded up.

      I think you hit the nail on the head: copyright has been a political issue for a while, but it's only recently that it's started to affect normal people. Thus they care, where they didn't give a damn before.

      Most people don't care about things in the political realm, outside of the small sphere which they perceive as actually having a direct effect on their lives.

      E.g., one of the reasons the gun lobby is so big in the U.S., is that there are a lot of people who own guns, and realize that changes in gun laws could directly affect their lives, and thus take an interest in it, one way or the other.

      If you had as many bittorrent users as there are gun owners, and if those bittorrent users found their bittorrenting to be as important to them as gun owners find their gun ownership and its associated activities, then there's no reason why the "BitTorrent Lobby" wouldn't be equally powerful.

      It's all about making average people care.
      • by Znork (31774)
        "but it's only recently that it's started to affect normal people."

        Intellectual 'property' was a passable way to finance a miniscule part of the economy, but as the sector size grows its similarity to actual taxation of the economy and the debilitating inefficiency of state-protected monopolies becomes more obvious.

        And taxes, as we all know, makes the average man care. Especially when they're sucking up so much of his wages that he has no chance to compete with foreign labour that doesnt have to pay the pro
      • by DannyO152 (544940)

        I live in Hollywood, I'm a Democrat and I'm represented by Henry Waxman. The Honorable Mr. Waxman is not going to make any waves in the copyright realm because: a) his seat is safe and he's got other fish to fry, and b) his fundraisng relies on Hollywood liberals who have, what I would describe as, an unenlightened view about copyrights and the degree to which digital encumbrances have ventured into absurdities. And me voting for a Republican, even if his or her views on copyright are closer to my thinking?

  • by Suzumushi (907838) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:48PM (#16410191)
    A more appropriate comparison/parallel for the copyright issue would be civil rights, not the environment.

    And similarily, landmark court decisions and not legislation will probably determine the direction that copyright will take us...back to the slave owning days, or to a future of equal opportunity.

    • by perlchild (582235)
      And yet the environment laws, and copyright, are both individuals vs corporations, while civil rights were individual vs individual. It appears we are reaching an almost "cyberpunk-like" level of corporation vs individual conflict of rights and interests.
      • Copyright is as much individual vs. individual as the civil rights movement.

        It is much easier to justify copyright infringement by putting a corporate face on it, but you are untimately acting against an individual.
        • by perlchild (582235)
          I wasn't at the justify stage even though, just that this is where the focus of popular attention is. In "ideas-as-property" corporations hare the most to lose from most proposed changes that don't involve draconian DRM and practically a negation of what fair use rights have been in place since there have been fair use laws. In the environmental area, very few private individuals can affect the environment the way a corporation or large group of individuals can.

          Now, to clarify my earlier point, I wanted
    • by tbannist (230135)
      Actually, I think Geist is a little off on this one: the two issues are ultimate the same issue.

      Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world. Intellectual property is essentially the intellectual equivalent of pollution, a by-product of the creation of ideas that is frequently toxic to other ideas and inventions. Progress can't be made until the pollution has become less harmless.

      Ok, that idea is a little out there, but it's
      • by shmlco (594907)
        "Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world."

        Since "the rest of the world" includes the individual, group, or organization that created and produced the work in the first place, you'd think people would respect their rights and interests...
        • Unfortunately, copyright extends long after everyone who might have had a hand in the actual creation of a work is dead.
          • by shmlco (594907)
            Straw man, as that doesn't seem to stop people from downloading the latest song or movie release.

            Or to put it another way, how many 70-year-old songs and/or movies have get downloaded?

            Those 50 years old? 40? 30? 20?

            Go past a year or two, and the number of downloads per day drops dramatically, aka the "long tail" curve.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by s20451 (410424)
        Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world. Intellectual property is essentially the intellectual equivalent of pollution, a by-product of the creation of ideas that is frequently toxic to other ideas and inventions.

        And yet the vast majority of "idea creators" (inventors, musicians, artists, etc) are in favour of intellectual property in some form.

        And yet the United States, with some of the world's most restrictive intellectu
        • by CRCulver (715279)

          And yet without copyright, the GPL could not force downstream authors to release their source. Stallman's greatest contribution may have been to demonstrate the sheer power and flexibility of IP protection.

          The GPL is only around because of information isn't free due to things like NDAs. Were people able to take code home from work and give it away freely, there would be no need for the GPL.

        • by bfree (113420)
          Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced? I think you are mistaking money with innovation.
          Do you not see the irony in suggesting that as the tm/c/patent producers want them it's not like pollution (hint what do the oil/gas companies really think of pollution compared to the rest of us, they probably call it "untargetted by-products")?
          • Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced?

            Culture is the United States' biggest export. It's not necessarily through breakthrough innovation, but rather, through the embrace and extend model.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by s20451 (410424)
            Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced? I think you are mistaking money with innovation.

            I notice that you do not dispute my claims about science and technology. Briefly, Americans invented jazz and rock routinely win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (incl. 2 of the past 4 years); and produced or hosted some of the world's greatest visual artists and architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Sol Lewitt,
        • by AJWM (19027)
          IP or "intellectual property" is an oxymoron. If you mean "copyrights, trademarks and/or patents", say what you mean.

          Everybody is a producer of copyright material -- everything you write, everything you draw or build, everything you say is subject to copyright -- and hence a producer of "IP". It's just that most folks don't bother to try to sell any of it.

          This posting © 2006. Unless your Slashdot ID is s20451 you are hereby granted unlimited distribution rights. Slashdot user s20451 must pay the a
          • by s20451 (410424)
            If you insist on being pedantic, my original statement applies to economically useful intellectual property. Everyone is a producer of various bodily fluids, does that make everyone a "manufacturer"?

            Also, I neglected to mention in my original post that intellectual property does not prevent the free flow of ideas. I can read your post and write this reply in spite of whatever copyright restrictions you impose, and I am not even invoking my "fair use" rights to quote. Thank you for making my point for me.
            • by AJWM (19027)
              economically useful intellectual property

              No such thing.

              Certainly, there are inventions, works of art, and so on. These aren't "intellectual" property, these are tangible goods. The "intellectual" property is the temporary government-granted monopoly on making copies (possibly modified or as part of something larger) of those tangible goods.

              Now, while people can exchange money for temporary government-granted monopolies, those temporary monopolies themselves aren't particularly economically useful. From t
        • I rather like the analogy. During the industrial age, pollution was viewed as a necessary evil in order to sustain the production levels required by modern life, and by the project to alleviate human misery.

          Likewise IP is viewed by many (esp. the more prgoressive creators) as a necessary evil in order to sustain respectable funding levels for scientific research and artistic creation.

          Thing is: technology changes things. Just as there are more efficient, cleaner technologies that can manufacture a wide range
        • by tbannist (230135)
          My anecdotal observation is that the people most cheesed off about intellectual property are primarily or entirely consumers of IP, and not producers. Nobody enjoys paying for things, but that's how the economy works.

          Your anecdotal observation would likely be wrong. There is certainly a natural tendency for those who derive great riches from any system that creates pollution to dismiss the polution as a trivial byproduct. So you will almost always see the people who benefit from the systems that produce t
        • by Mr2001 (90979)

          And yet without copyright, the GPL could not force downstream authors to release their source.

          Without copyright, the GPL would hardly be necessary, because we could reverse engineer any closed-source software and freely share the resulting code. The GPL exists mainly as a means to turn copyright against itself.

          My anecdotal observation is that the people most cheesed off about intellectual property are primarily or entirely consumers of IP, and not producers.

          Likewise, the people most cheesed off about pollut

    • by netbuzz (955038)
      Absolutely, as Dr. King said: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all music formats are created equal and anyone should be able to share anything they want with anyone they want." ... Uh, maybe the civil rights analogy needs work.
  • by Otter (3800)
    A generation ago, if the environment was considered at all, it was viewed as a niche issue too complex to matter to the average voter.

    In the US: Earth Day began in 1970, the Clean Air Act was passed in 1963, what is now called the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. I know bloggers are routinely unaware that anything happened before the 2000 presidential election, but you'd think a professor might. "The average voter" was quite aware of the importance of clean air and water; today they're much less conscio

    • by fireduck (197000)
      In defence of the original author, a generation is typically taken to be 25 years (or perhaps 22 [wikipedia.org]). And if we use Earth day as the awakening of the environmetal movement in the US, that's 36 years ago, which is about a generation and a half. That's a perfectly excusable round-off in my book. Heck, if we go back to '62 with the publication of Silent Spring, that's still less than 2 generations.
    • The media focus (and thus the populist mindset) on the environment in the 1970's was "don't litter", "don't start forest fires", and "don't use up all the gas so I can have some when I get to college". If we were to analogize environmental issues to civil rights, the 1970's were still in the "don't lynch" phase when it came to environmental issues.
    • by dpilot (134227)
      I now think it just a little bizarre that I participated in a walk-a-thon on the first Earth Day.

      I also went to the first Science Fiction Movie Marathon at Case Western Reserve University, and was recently surprised to see that it's still running every year.
    • I know Americans are routinely unaware that anything happens outside of their own country, but you'd think someone on the internet would. Professor Geist is Canadian, and is writing about copyright laws in Canada, and it's unlikely that the USA's Clean Air/Water Acts were foremost in his mind.
      • by leoxx (992)
        Indeed, Canada is actually a lot slower implementing environmental protection laws than the USA is. Despite our countries reputation as environmentally conscious, we are primarily still a resource based economy, which means public policy still favours economic interests over environmental ones.
  • Usually when politics is about the environment, it's about trillions and trillions of dollars worth of government impositions on every last aspect of private individual lives. Anything from toilets, to showerheads, to cell phones, to jumping thru 100 hoops to use your car. In fact, it's not uncommon for companies to exploit environmental issues to their favor (eg regulate to drive used cars out of the market place, lobby to force companies to use a particular monitoring technology that only you have, kil
    • by spun (1352)
      Usually when private industry impacts the environment, it's about trillions and trillions of dollars worth of industrial imposition on every last aspect of individual lives. Anything from cancer, to global warming, to habitat destruction, to overfishing. In fact, it's not uncommon for companies to exploit the environment without paying the full cost of the externalities they impose on the rest of us. Are you sure that there isn't a more appropriate description: people everywhere fight to keep big money from
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:04PM (#16410445)
    Environmental issues went big in the late 70s and 80s, but I doubt we'll see a similar development today. You have to see that people were quite a bit different then. Many were looking for "alternatives", there was a general sentiment for less technology and more back-to-the-roots. The peace movement in the shadow of the atomic stalemate between the two superpowers was a huge driver as well, and people were generally more politically interested than they are today.

    To make matters worse, to be concerned over copyright, you first of all have to have access to copyrightable material. If you don't then, well, the stuff doesn't really matter to you. So you have to be one of those that actually either produce or consume content. Now, producers of copyrightable material will hardly argue that there is too little restriction for the user, and people who're the proverbial "lazy consumer" will hardly stand up and become political movers.

    Let's also not forget that the environment and peace movement was also driven by songwriters, poets and other "content creators", and only a handful of them were actually concerned with the issue, the rest saw a huge market to milk. Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?

    Generally, I'm a little pessimistic that copyright becomes the "green" movement of the 2010s. I'd love to see it, and I'll support it with everything I can, but my hopes are not too high.
    • There's a massive difference between the level of panic that drives resolutions to environmental issues and the level of panic that drives resolutions to copyright/trademark/patent issues.

      Environmental dangers cause loss of life. This induces a survival-instinct reaction, and can be violent. This is taken very seriously by the powers that be, since violence can topple them if it becomes widespread and targetted at them.

      Intellectual property dangers cause loss of entertainment. This induces a whiny, "I'm ent
    • by ricree (969643)

      Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?

      How about artists who think that the money would be better if the current media companies were dethroned. As things stand now, they aren't really all that great for artists in many respects. Very few people who are against current intellectual property laws are opposed to the idea off copyright altogether. For the most part, we just think that the balance needs to shift back towards society as a whole rather than the copyright owners. It's

      • Problem is, the artists that are heard by the general audience (read: have lots of marketing and PR behind them) are usually those that have SO tight ties with the content industry that they can't even make a sound without the OK from their superiors.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?''

      There are some. NOFX, for one; I also think System of a Down and The Offspring; I'm sure there are others.
    • Generally, I'm a little pessimistic that copyright becomes the "green" movement of the 2010s. I'd love to see it, and I'll support it with everything I can, but my hopes are not too high.

      I'd have to agree, if simply because in all the casual conversations I've had with people over so-called copyright issues, the overwhelming response seems to be that a writer (or movie maker, or whatever) should get iron-clad protection for their work.

      The general public simply likes the notion that somebody's "idea" (es

      • by alexgieg (948359)
        This can be used in favor as the basis for an "anti-copyright as it is today" movement, instead of an "anti-all-copyright". If the law was changed so that copyright wasn't transferable by contract in any way (not even by "exclusivity clauses", which would be legally void), that would bring about many of the benefits sought after by the "anti-all-copyright" people, while at the same time pleasing those who believe that "new ideas" must be protected. For instance, all artists would own their musics, not the l
  • US Economy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:13PM (#16410569) Homepage
    After the manufacturing sector imploded and now the services sector is hit by outsourcing, the only strongly exportable products produced by the American economy are linked to IP.
    The problem is that for this to work, the rest of the world has to adopt USA IP laws, and most countries know it goes against their best interest, so they are not very enthusiastic about it.

    • by westlake (615356)
      the only strongly exportable products produced by the American economy are linked to IP. The problem is that for this to work, the rest of the world has to adopt USA IP laws, and most countries know it goes against their best interest, so they are not very enthusiastic about it.

      How much do you think Harry Potter and the James Bond franchise are worth to the UK? How many countries (as politically diverse as Canada and China) worry about the cultural impact of cheap foreign imports?

      The Geek makes a mistake

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:15PM (#16410595) Homepage
    I wonder why the publisher still make me take atoms when all I really want are bits.

    I.e. getting rid of copyrights (or bringing them back to 14+14 years) would help the environment.

    • Can somebody explain why so many people think copyrights were originally 14+14 years? I hear this erroneous assertion frequently. From the copyright office [copyright.gov]: "Under the law in effect before 1978 ... the copyright lasted for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The copyright was eligible for renewal during the last (28th) year of the first term. If renewed, the copyright was extended for a second term of 28 years." In other words, 28+28.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You and the GP seem to use the word 'originally' quite creatively. As I see it, copyrights originally lasted for exactly 0 years, just as they still should.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        Can somebody explain why so many people think copyrights were originally 14+14 years? I hear this erroneous assertion frequently. From the copyright office: "Under the law in effect before 1978 ... the copyright lasted for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The copyright was eligible for renewal during the last (28th) year of the first term. If renewed, the copyright was extended for a second term of 28 years." In other words, 28+28.

        It's not an erroneous assertion. The Copyright Act of

        • Thanks for the correction. All of the stuff I had seen did indeed mention "the law in effect before 1978," which is rather unbounded. So, I humbly retract my criticism.
    • by s20451 (410424)
      They'll sell you all the bits you want -- all you have to do is accept DRM. Is DRM good for the environment?
  • I don't know why, but when I hear of the Pirate Party, I think of this little nugget of goodness from Blackadder the Third:

    ("H" is Mr. Hanna, the reporter, and "I" is Ivor, the candidate)

    H: Quite. Now; Ivor Biggun, no votes at all for the Standing-At-The-Back- Dressed-Stupidly-And-Looking-Stupid Party. Are you disappointed?

    I: Ah, no, not really, no... I always say, "If you can't laugh, what *can* you do?" Ha-ha-ha-ha (squirts Hanna with flower).

    H: ...take up politics, perhaps. Has your party got any p

  • by mcwop (31034) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:51PM (#16411093) Homepage
    In a world with no copyright protection, companies will simply create their own protection schemes. Absent law that states otherwise, companies will not be obligated to share their protection schemes with anyone that won't meet their terms. Of course, people could try and circumvent the protection schemes, and the schemes might prevent market success for their products (though this is not guaranteed). But, it is foolish to think that without copyright everything would be easily copy able by everyone except the technologically savvy.

    Without copyright, maybe even Microsoft might come up with a protection scheme that works.

    • by enjahova (812395)
      I don't think your arguement works. The reason copy protection schemes are coming up is because copyright law is not enough to stop copying. Don't you think the billions of dollars content creators are (claiming to be) losing is enough incentive already?

      While I don't have the balls to be in favor of eliminating copyright completely, I expect that if we did the market would come up with a better answer than protection. There is a fundamental problem with using cryptography to protect content, because you hav
      • by mcwop (31034)
        I agree with you, and your post is more clear to the point I was trying to make. I was just trying to say that laws are not necessary to protect works from copying. Companies only need to offer their products so that the marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost over any "free" version (there is no free lunch and free software, for example, has costs such as support etc...). I belive that this is the exact mechanic that has helped Miscrosoft achieve its wealth to a large degree - they used things like deve
    • by Peaker (72084)
      Disclaimer: This is only about software copyrights, not other types of content

      Without hardware support (Treacherous Computing and the likes), it is strictly impossible to make a working system.

      The subtle consequence is, that trying to limit distribution in order to gain a profit, where that usually or always fails, will not be profitable.

      If its not profitable, then large organizations like Microsoft and others will simply not exist.

      If large organizations like those do not exist, then suddenly opensource has
      • by mcwop (31034)
        There is already open source software with most Windows capabilities, then why has it not toppled Windows?
  • after all,
    it has long been known that piracy is directly linked to global warming.
    http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/ [venganza.org]
  • It's no wonder copyright has become a political issue -- copyrights have been extended (in the U.S. at least) everytime they're about to expire, effectively having infinite lifespans. How can you ignore something that's forever?

    Solution: limited copyrights, like it was originally intended. Current law "reduces" the rate of new work since authors can ride the gravy train of one work forever. Infinite copyright also makes copyrights assets to be acquired, hoarded, and protected via lawsuits. Limited copyright
    • by Peaker (72084)
      limited copyrights, like it was originally intended.

      Consider also that originally, copyright only applied to publishers, because copying was not practical for individuals.

      So you could replace that sentence with one closer to what the pirate party is saying:
      time-limited copyrights that only apply to for-profit organizations, like it was originally intended.
  • by mqduck (232646)
    Geist is talking about Canada

    Where?

    Support our troops! These colors don't run! I'm lovin' it! Born in the USA!
  • Copyright, in and of itself, is not evil or wrong. If I, say, write a book, then it should be my prerogative to decide if I sell that book, if I give it away, who can distribute it...copyright, remember, does not preclude people releasing things into the public domain. There's nothing wrong with the basic, fundamental concept of someone controlling the distribution of their work. If they wish to sign away those rights, that's their prerogative too (even if, as some will no doubt be thinking, that is a silly
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Peaker (72084)

      then it should be my prerogative to decide if I sell that book, if I give it away, who can distribute it...

      Why should it? I hope you realize that this is your personal opinion. A lot of us think that the individual freedom to share, copy, modify, or otherwise do anything I want with information in my posesion is more important than the distribution control of the author. This is obviously a tradeoff between certain factors:

      1. The author's control over the distribution (And thus, the profitability and incenti
    • If I, say, write a book, then it should be my prerogative to decide...who can distribute it.

      Why? What gives you the intrinsic right to control what other people do with the knowledge they have?

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