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Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 779 779

Exactly how does this knowledge preclude the very choice that was made to be viewed?

every decision, every event, has already been decided for you

Yes, this is entirely true... you made the choices, and this other being (God, or even the future you) has a knowledge of all decisions you've already made. I don't see how an entity knowing what you've already decided can in any way remove the entire decision-making process that went into the decisions that it witnessed you making...

Your argument is effectively saying that merely having a knowledge of a known future event will directly and instantly prevent that event from ever happening because, after all, all of the events that led up to that event meant nothing to begin with. It's like telling the director of a movie that he had no choice in the movie making process simply because he watched the finished product in the theater months after completing the project. By your argument, you're effectively saying that his future self (one who already knows what went into every decision he made) has effecteively negated every decision he's ever made simply by knowing what he decided and why.

This Being (who has already been pointed out exists outside of time by the mere act of knowing the future as if it has already happened) has already witnessed every decision you've ever made from the perspective of your past, present, and (most importantly to this discussion) your future. From that perspective, you have already put all of that decision-making effort into the outsome, and the simple knowledge of what you will have already decided negates your ability to make those decisions to produce the final outsome in the exact same way that director watching his finished movie negates his making the decisions that went into the movie on the screen: it doesn't.

Comment: Re:As a musician (Score 1) 160 160

That is mostly due to those agencies assuming that any performance of "their" song is their performance. If you don't use a copyrighted, recorded instance of a work, then they can't claim copyright. If you buy sheet music, you can't be hit for copyright infringement when you play that music, only if you copy the actual writing on the sheet music and distribute it. If you sing, and they can claim copyright infringement, then you can also claim the same thing every time they speak, since there's just so many words that can be strung together to convey certain meanings. Ask them how they plan to explain, to a jury, that their copyrighted, recorded version is in every way identical to your performance, and that you are copying and distributing their work. Unless they can prove that you didn't actually perform that piece (as in, you just stood on stage and played the copyrighted track instead of singing yourself), they have no claim.

Copyright law prevents the copying and distribution of an instance of a work, not every piece of work that is merely similar. As a musician/singer/songwriter/writer/artist every performance you do is also copyrighted, automatically, and without exception. Every sentence, page, chapter, and book that is written in the US is copyrighted by default, and automatically protected under copyright law. Anything presented to a public forum is assumed "published" and therefore is automatically subject to copyright law. Any time you just hum a random tune, your performance is protected under copyright law. If you're in the habit of giving impromptu speeches to random people on the street, each speech is automatically considered a performance and is, therefore, protected under copyright law.

So, to avoid certain songs while performing on stage is exactly what they want you to think is infringement, and just like "downloading is theft," that thought needs to die a quick and painful death.

Comment: Re:Fair use vs Copyright length (Score 1) 160 160

The "fair use" definitions should also be clarified, without becoming overly specific, while still providing a maximum protection for the members of the general public. My current opinion on "fair use" in a digital environment is thus: If I'm only making a personal copy for backup/performance use, I'm not making money off of what copies I may make, and I'm not posting raw versions of what copies I may have of it online, then it's "fair use". If I'm pulling it down through a method that has an upload component (BitTorrent), then so long as I have a legitimate copy of the original (say, on DVD/etc.) then it's also "fair use," even with the upload component. If a person posts content in an online-accessible forum, it is assumed that the person is an authorized agent of the copyright holder and is authorized to publish that content for distribution by that method. If it has been published in an online forum (HTTP/FTP/BitTorrent) and I can download it, then it is the responsibility of the copyright owner (or their agents) to go after the one(s) who illegally published it and have the offending content removed. It is not my responsibility to verify the copyright state/ownership/authorized-distributors of a work when I download/seed it.

DRM and other technical security measures would not even be mentioned as DRM doesn't fall under copyright law, since it is not the content itself. There are likely a few other logistical issues that could be ironed out, but it should cover the majority of cases.

One would only reason that with instant, world wide "content" distribution, it should be much less now. Say 1 or 2 years.

That 1-2 years is okay for an initial, automatic copyright (as of the date of first publication), anything beyond that should need to be registered by some form of central copyright authority, where anyone can look up the current copyright terms and what copyrights exist on a given work. At this point, copyright terms are in such an unknown state that it's prohibitively complicated to determine what is and isn't in the public domain, and when it might become public domain if it isn't already, and who "owns" the copyrighted content of interest to begin with.

This is how I'd like to see a "fix" for copyright terms and ownership rules:

  • Ownership of a copyright cannot be transferred or modified once registered,
  • A Copyright can only be owned and controlled by an actual person (as in an individual human being, not a company or "a person on paper only").
  • Multiple persons can share ownership of a single copyright.
  • Publication/Distribution rights on a copyrighted work can only be authorized and/or revoked by the registered copyright owner(s).
  • An initial automatic copyright term of 2 years is assumed on initial publication (where "publication" == "making available to the public at large" regardless of the form or medium) or on registering with the central copyright registry, whichever occurs first.
  • Initial publication date is either (a) the date recorded by an included copyright notice (the date must be static), or (b) if if the year is the only date component included in the copyright notice, the first day (January 1) of the calendar year in the copyright notice.
  • The copyright term may be extended by optional paid extensions for 6 years each.
  • Copyright extensions may only be requested within six months prior to the expiration of the current copyright's registered term.
  • Copyright terms may only be extended by the registered copyright owner(s).
  • The maximum total copyright term (initial and all extensions combined) is 20 years from first publication.
  • If the copyright owner does not extend the copyright, the copyrighted content automatically falls into the public domain at the end of the registered copyright term.
  • Extension fees must be strictly limited to the costs associated with creating, running, and maintaining the registry infrastructure to allow registration information to be readily available to any member of the general public at no charge. Extension fees are not to exceed $20 per instance.
  • No copyright extension request may be denied to the copyright owner(s) provided: all necessary information is present (you've proved you're the owner) and all fees are paid in full prior to the expiration of the currently registered copyright term.
  • Only copyright owner(s) and owner-authorized agent(s) are responsible for ensuring that only authorized publishers are publishing the copyrighted work.

Most of the idea behind the central registry is to allow anyone who wishes to use a given work to know (a) if the work is currently copyrighted, (b) who owns the copyright, and (c) who is authorized to reproduce/distribute it. The (c) part is entirely optional, but would help to find out who to talk to when trying to purchase a copy. The (a) and (b) parts are useful if donations or even just requesting authorization for possible commercial use.

This also allows works to fall into the public domain sooner when the copyright owner either decides not to pursue an extension or dies.

Comment: Re:What a Stupid and Wrong Title (Score 3, Insightful) 160 160

It's also interesting to note that these companies, at least the companies the MPAA represents, keep claiming to operate at an effective net loss. Hollywood Accounting is notorious for claiming negative net profits on films that cost tens of millions of dollars to make and distribute, and generate hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in gross income. This is why anyone wanting a percentage of a movie's income as payment go after gross profits instead of net profits, otherwise they wouldn't ever get paid. Why, then, do these same companies decry that they're losing money due to fair-use/piracy/etc.? They're already losing any money they may have generated by being in business and operating as they do in the first place. So, unless they're lying about their actual costs (which is pretty much a given when considering the money they're willing and able to throw around) then we have to assume that any "losses" they complain about are internal to their infrastructure and business models, and not from any external factor.

Comment: Re:Laptop pains too (Score 1) 952 952

I've had this gripe for years, and it's at least somewhat reassuring that I'm not the only one who seems to have it. And despite what I've read in other comments, this whole issue isn't so much about the visuals and what's "viewable" or "detectable" or even what "looks smooth" or is "easy to see." All this is really about is the actual hardware and why the resolution-for-size seems to be so absent from the desktop world, when the higher desktop CRT resolutions were what drove the demand for higher laptop screen resolutions to begin with. Suddenly there's this huge switch to flat-panel (LCD, TFT, etc.) displays in the desktop market and there's apparently no longer a demand for "higher resolution" or even "comparable resolution," instead there's this odd assumption that we need nothing more than a bigger viewing area to watch TV on, as if the average desktop computer is primarily used to watch TV and movies with, and little else. I don't need a TV on my desk, I need a computer monitor!

so that 30" could be 3840x2400

Personally, I couldn't care less about those huge "monitors" (that are really what used to be big-screen TVs... 24"-32" is now apparently the "standard" size range for a TV), I want a monitor that actually fits on my desk (maybe alongside a buddy or two) without hogging the whole of my desk space. I have laptop with a 15.4" display at a 1920x1200 native resolution, and I bought that around five years ago. Why can't I find that same resolution in a current "desktop" display under 23"? I'd even happily accept that res in a 17" desktop form-factor, if I could find one.

What's so special about these laptop displays and their interfaces that they can't just do as they already do with laptops and attach the display driver circuitry and power supply in a chassis, add in the standard connectors (and related electronics) and just sell the displays at their existing sizes? They're already doing so for all of the rest of the flat-panel desktop displays, so what's so difficult about altering the case and tweaking the existing firmware settings a bit to handle the resolutions? It can't be the controller hardware or the connectors, that's already in laptops and in the larger displays. It can't really be market forces, since they're already making and selling the laptop versions as bare units. I mean, I just saw Amazon offer a bare, 1920x1200 15.4" laptop display for under $110, so why can't I also buy that same display packaged up for desktop use for around $250?

Comment: Re:$100 ... PLUS $10-$15 Charger PER Title (Score 1) 271 271

In this case, it's more along the lines of "They're trying to charge me how much for a movie I can get at a lower cost if I were to go out and buy the thing off a retail shelf? how is this a good deal?" instead of "They should give away their stuff for free."

high quality movies still cost a truckload of money to make

The truck-load of money they spent on making the movie has (and this is the important part) already been spent on this gamble and their distribution rights guarantee that they are the only ones legally generating an income on the content, regardless of the medium or method of distribution. If they charged their customers $30 for a brand new blu-ray disc, they only get a fraction of that price as profit. If they charged $5 for unhindered/unencumbered (AKA: DRM-free) access to the digital content, they generate pure income and only have the bandwidth allocation costs for their file servers as overhead. Do that for every movie under their distributive control and they suddenly run on a pure-content system where they don't have to worry about the majority of the costs of physical media purchase/production/shipping/etc. and can concentrate on the thing they produce that actually makes them money, instead of the things that cost them more than the initial movie production combined.

Heck, if they set up a restricted-access BitTorrent tracker (possibly with a proprietary client) with user accounts, then they could also significantly decrease their digital distribution costs. This is just a quick idea that took all of twenty seconds thought, but has the potential to generate a mind-bogglingly huge amount of income if implemented correctly. Add some method for retail stores to special-order that content on a specified medium and you could potentially create a whole new industry (selling digital stuff on a physical medium and direct-shipping it to a customer). You want the latest and greatest blockbuster on a DVD (with applicable quality degradation)? Sure, no problem, that'll be $15 ($5 for the content, the rest for in-house costs) each plus shipping, with no additional shipping costs up to x units and an overall discount on orders of y units per run.

Movie (and music) prices have often been criticized as being too high, and I think the industry (and their economists) should really stop looking at the cost/supply/demand curves of "intellectual goods" in terms of straight lines (as was taught in my Economics courses in college) and looking at them in terms of the Laffer curve: set the prices too high and you generate less income (fewer customers will buy it), but set it too low and the income generated from the increased sales aren't really what they could be. We're now in a state where the value of digital/intellectual goods is only as strong as the value of money -- both have only subjective value and that value can fluctuate wildly based solely on the desires of those who create it.

Comment: Re:Schools vs. Killing brown people (Score 1) 419 419

Or, that they stopped caring because they were stuck in remedial math. It wasn't until my junior year in high school at a new school (in a different state) that I even knew that other kinds of math existed. All that happened in every year prior to that was that the course selections for students would just default to the most basic, re-reiterative courses: "This is how you add two single-digit numbers..." and "The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776." I only was given the ability to choose something else when the new school sent out sign-up sheets to students (like those I became accustomed to in college) and I was given the ability to sign up for anything that wasn't the same as what I had been doing in the previous ten years.

Looking back, I can see a lot of the problems that have only become worse over time, and I can also see where many of the failures in the current system of education reside. The biggest problem is that nobody competent is in a position to actually fix those problems. And anyone who is in such a position has a vested interest in keeping to the status quo (and is often a "shining example" of the intended result of the current system: blind obedience).

Comment: Re:When they're right, they're right (Score 1) 386 386

I'd think seven years would be a good number, with the option to continue an additional seven years at the end (for a total of fourteen years), then a final additional six-year extension option for a maximum copyright term of 20 years (a nice round number and easily within the average lifespan). Death is irrelevant as, once copyrighted, the copyright remains in place for the current term/extension and automatically expires unless the initial copyright holder explicitly extends it again, with no "automatic" extension option. So, if the original creator copyrights their work, and gets "hit by a bus" the next day, the copyright will expire at the end of the 7-year term and the work enters public domain.

For characters, locations, or "franchises," trademarks can be (and already are) used to protect a certain franchise from unauthorized use of titles, characters, and even specific imagery.

Comment: Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (Score 1) 260 260

So, to be clear, your arguments are thus:

(1) "Nobody but a "trusted," official representative of the government, or those authorized by that government, should be allowed to defend you or your fellow citizens in an effective manner."

(2) "You and your fellow citizens are all completely incapable of rational thought and behaving in a reasonable and responsible manner."

(3) "Official representatives of the government are always completely capable of rational thought and behaving in a reasonable and responsible manner."

(4) "You and your fellow citizens will never have a need to defend themselves from the actions of an official representative of the government."

(5) "You are incapable of divining, through research, rational thought, and a basic understanding of many of the common political and societal concepts in play at the time, the most likely intent of a basic, well-covered, and openly public right granted to all citizens of the country in which you are obviously a citizen."

(6) "Speed and scope are all that it takes to turn an abstract concept into a completely different abstract concept."

Now, I may have missed one or more of your key points, like "You should have really previewed your post before hitting the Submit button," but I think I got them all.

For (1) through (4), the response is fairly simple: The second amendment expilicitly allows the citizenry the tools most capable of providing the ability to defend themselves from any attacker, regardless of who the attacker represents. This implicitly includes agents of our own government in that list of "attackers," whether that inclusion scares the crap out of you or not. Whether you feel comfortable about it or not. That hypothetical guy having the bad day will just have to be extremely careful about how he goes about declaring just how bad his day was to his fellow passengers lest they feel the need to defend themselves and those around them. If you want to be the one to not defend yourself when the guy decides to start bludgeoning you the head with his laptop because his spreadsheet app decided to crash on him, then be my guest. But, to determine, on your own, based solely on the fear of a potential worst-case scenario, that nobody should be allowed to do the thing you obviously don't want to do? That doesn't sound much like being a responsible citizen to me.

As for (5), you have no idea what I know, how I know it, or where I got my information. You definitely don't know my overall thought processes or my ability to convert concrete ideas into abstract ones and use those abstracts in dealing with concrete situations. Add this to a willingness to actually look for the why of a thing instead of stopping as soon as I find the thing itself (or worse, someone giving me the what), and I often get told I have a pretty good grasp on the motivations behind things.

Now for (6). To reiterate, the only difference between Slashdot and a town hall meeting or a mailed letter or even a community bulletin board (the kind with pieces of paper) is the number of people that can be communicated with and the speed of the communication. There is nothing new to putting words (writing/typing) on a medium (paper/web form) and sending it to a destination (posting board/website) where other people can read it and/or respond to it in a similar manner. The difference between mailing a letter to someone and emailing the same letter is the term "electronic" (electronic + mail = e-mail). The only real difference in these cases being the number of people who can read/post, and the speed at which the messages reach their destination. In this way, saying that the the concepts of writing a letter and writing an email (or posing a message on Slashdot and sticking a note on a posting board) are completely different just show that you pay no attention to what you're doing, and more attention to what you're using while you do it.

Comment: Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (Score 1) 260 260

allowing untrained armed citizens

The key part of your argument is that the citizens are untrained. I would not expect any citizen to be armed with a weapon they have no training in handling, even if that training was "This is how you don't accidentally stab yourself or others with a knife" or "this is what will happen to whatever your bullet hits," I would expect there to be the part where "so you'd better make sure it only hits what you want it to" is also taught.

And, yes, I've heard of decompression... and that's what those little masks are supposed to pop out of the ceiling in the even of... yet there's still nothing preventing a passenger from trying to pull that big, red handle on the fuselage door in mid-flight. Before a flight, we tell the passengers about the emergency exits, and the little masks that will fall from the ceiling in the case of lost cabin pressure, but we can't tell people "those of you with firearms, please ensure that they pose no danger of accidental discharge during flight if you have not already done so?" Then again, those with firearms would automatically be assumed to be responsible enough to do just that without having to be told... that's what that whole "responsibility" thing is all about.

Similarly, your thought that the "original intent" should be carried to the end of time argument wears thin.

Dies that mean the "don't kill other people" argument also wears thin, or the "don't steal" one? There is no specific mention of an invading army, the intent was "defense of self and others, regardless of the source of the attack." At what point in time should that mentality come to an end? Perhaps tomorrow the "don't steal" one should be old enough to no longer be needed, followed by the "don't kill people" one the next week?

try to imagine what the founders would have thought of what we're doing right now on Slashdot

Of course, silly me... Writing letters and sending them to people was a completely foreign concept to them... oh, wait, it wasn't. Oh, maybe the "talking to multiple people at once" part? No, that was what parties, public gatherings, and town meetings easily allowed. The only real difference is, as I said before, the speed at which it happens. They had things called newspapers, books, town halls, and post offices. The only real difference here is that someone went and added "on the Internet" to a practice that was common long before the country was a country.

Comment: Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (Score 1) 260 260

A gun owner is seven times more likely to shoot himself than an intruder - study of Texas gunshot wounds.

Then the owner who shot himself didn't know how to properly handle his firearm, he knew how to properly handle it and still didn't handle it properly, he intended to shoot himself, or there was some form of struggle and the firearm went off while pointed at the owner. Other than a ricochet, there is no other possible way for a person to be shot with a firearm in his own hand.

Also, that statistic is either being badly misquoted, or the study included all instances where the owner's firearm was used against him by a perpetrator... though it may also be including gun-related suicides. In any event, your quoted statistic also seems to gloss over the rest of the statistics, one of which is: A gun is fired in fewer than 1 percent of all home intrusions where a gun is wielded by the homeowner. The rest of the time, it's merely shown to be in-hand and the intruder either leaves, or behaves himself while awaiting the arrival of the police. And that's just for home invasions.... Exactly how many home invasions do you figure would occur if it was assumed that everyone was armed in some manner? What about carjackings, rapes, muggings, assaults, or even kidnappings?

The whole purpose of having an armed society was (and still is) to allow the society to protect itself from those who would harm it and the people in it. That mentality was written into the Constitution to allow the people to protect themselves both from an oppressive government (both "theirs" and "ours") and to allow the people to defend themselves and others from direct attackers.

If a gun is your primary means of self defense, then you've already lost.

The "primary means" or "most effective means" doesn't always need to be "a gun." A knife, a baseball bat, a crowbar, a screwdriver, a book, a slightly dull pencil or ball-point pen, or even a rock can be used as a means of defense if need be, though they each require a degree of strength and/or skill that can easily be overcome by a moderately skilled assailant. The gun has been called "the great equalizer" for very good reason: It doesn't need to be used at close range, and it doesn't require much training or physical skill to use one correctly and effectively. The same cannot be said for any of the other potential weapons that are commonly available.

As for the "you've already lost" part, well, it's been well-proven that assuming defeat will tend to bring about the very defeat that is assumed. The whole point of "self defense" is to "prevent harm to self." Assuming that you may as well not try to defend yourself because you assume you will fail will guarantee your failure. The point is to make the attempt, even in the event that you ultimately fail in the end. To do otherwise, yes, that is effectively suicide.

You're more likely to commit suicide than ever use the weapon defensively

For that to be the case, the wielder must be consciously and seriously considering suicide when handling a gun. As I pointed out above, the only people accidentally killed by the firearm they are wielding are the ones who either have no respect for their weapon, or refuse to handle it properly.

Comment: Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (Score 5, Insightful) 260 260

And the Founding Fathers wouldn't have gone the "Let's trade our hard-won freedom for the empty promise of security!" route, either. They'd see those flying tin cans and say "How could a few men with small knives (or other blade-like instruments) take over an entire plane full of citizens when the citizens aboard should be more than capable of preventing such an attempt?" Then they would look at the way the general populace is being disarmed and say "This is exactly the opposite of what we intended!" when told that they could not carry their primary means of self-defense everywhere they went. They would look at how the people they did all of this for are giving everything they argued and fought so hard for away in order to feel safe, instead of actually being prepared and equipped to ensure that safety.

The "they couldn't have known" and "they didn't foresee" defenses are just a way of ignoring the original intent and then claiming that "now" is so much more different from "then" and that dealing with what affects us "now" was never the intent to begin with. They had boats, those not-so-mythical things called pirates, terrorists, and invading armies back then, and they dealt with them as they encountered them. The only real differences between "now" and "then" is that we can travel between locations faster, we can communicate faster with people farther away, and we have the ability to know what of (in)significance is currently happening in places we never heard of before to people we'll likely never meet in person. Admittedly, the "killing people" thing may have become easier with newer technologies, but so has the "saving people" thing, and sometimes we use the exact same tool(s) to do both. Exactly none of this didn't exist back then in one form or another, but we (as a people) seem so intent on treating "now" in such a different manner as "then" because we can, and not because we must.

Comment: Re:Bah....Bah (Score 1) 392 392

I'm wondering if the whole problem with such sites could be "solved" by simply putting a little check-box on the submission form that states "The material being submitted does not violate current copyright law in my area" and any submission that doesn't have that check-box checked just doesn't get added. Then the responsibility all rests on the submitter to verify that the content is legitimate, and not the site's.

After that, the DMCA (or whatever site-local equivalent) will be able to handle the cases where the submitter lied, and they go after the submitter, and not the site.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 2, Insightful) 836 836

A better solution would just be to not give them the information! If they find out about it later, then you can simply explain to them what their limits are as far as your personal freedoms are concerned. If they want to pursue the issue or somehow punish you for not giving them everything they want, then you start a legal action against them. Even if nothing happens at or after that point, there's still that bit of precedent that says "some of the applicants may actually have personal privacy rights and a desire to maintain them" and will likely tread more softly next time.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.