Many small manufacturers or innovators have a product based on a single "ah ha!" moment that took no effort in that moment to think of. They usually took a (potentially deep) background in the field and some luck in having the right thoughts in the right order or being exposed to the right stimulus that day. However, they THEN took tremendous risks in quitting the day job, getting a business loan, building out an office space, setting up tooling, hiring employees, and starting production. The real risk is in that leap of faith that you'll be able to capitalize on your idea and make something out of it. That's what people want some minimal level of protection for. In that sense, your theoretical piezo innovation as a product might qualify.
However, if you just took your idea and ran to the patent office for something to sell to a patent troll... no. There's value there, sure... but it needs to be value that is actively exploited in the economy. If you're just creating land mines to extract money from the marketplace, you're not helping anyone. The goal should be to protect people's investments in creating new things that everyone benefits from.
Very simiar to the patent troll case... I could see how if you're a serial inventor and just sit around coming up with great ideas you should be able to make money selling those ideas to people who will actually bring them to market. It's a tough distinction to make.
The core idea should be competition that is fair. If I spend a year to develop an improvement that takes a competitor one day to copy... that's not fair. If I spent three seconds coming up with a great idea that I know isn't going to be obvious to anyone, so I then spent a huge amount of money and effort to produce the product.... and a factory retools a line overnight to produce the same thing.... that's not fair. However, if someone working in isolation does in three days what some less talented/experienced people did in six months... that's fair. It's nearly impossible to NOT notice the results of your competitor's labors, too. Where do you draw these lines? How arbitrary can this crap get?
I think terms are too long. The current system is pretty crappy. It certainly seems weighted towards the big players. It's a hard problem, though. I don't know what the answers are.
Well, those are called royalties... and that's an extremely common way to handle things.
In fact, it's a potential outcome in this specific case. Many royalty agreements started as lawsuits. It's probably not likely here, though... since the per unit profit for the little guys is so drastically different than the bigger guy's margins. 3D Systems will just want this stopped.
It'd sure be nice if there was a uniform way to know what patents apply to your product idea and a fixed formula for what royalties should be. Then, people could know exactly what things would cost them and put that in the plan from day one.
I think STL predates FDM, actually.
I'm being a bit lazy by not looking this up, but what about FDM using support material? I'd bet that was somewhat later than FDM itself. I'd bet there are a lot of cumulative improvements in FDM that are still covered by patents.
So, everyone's free to make basic FDM machines as they were described by the earliest patents. There's a lot of ground Stratasys covered since then that is probably being copied and leaving even FDM producers exposed to potential legal problems.
I'm pretty conflicted on the whole thing. Give the hackers a basic tech like FDM, and they'd make most of the same improvements themselves... but they're going to be hitting ground covered and patented by commercial entities along the way. Many many times, however, someone's going to have looked at a commercial printer for inspiration... and that's essentially an unfair shortcut.
I think people should be free to produce what they can FOR THEMSELVES without worrying about patent infringements... which would cover most hardware hackers (sort of a fair use concept). However, once you get funding and try to commercialize something, you're subject to normal commercial rules.
You're essentially asking why bother with patents at all. The hobbyists have been copying patented innovations of these commercial 3D companies. It was only a matter of time before this happened. Before, it would have been swatting at mosquitos. Now, a rabbit's popped up with $3 million, and they're going to shoot it.
The hobbyists have created a lot of innovation, too. The basic hobbyist MO is copy and improve. That's fine when you're copying other open source/hardware stuff... but when you copy someone's proprietary crap, you're in a grey area.
Hobbyists will obviously argue against patents, because they don't benefit from them much at all. Commercial companies need to do something to prevent large scale ripping off of their work, or they can't survive. (Case in point: the recent MakerBot Industries change of heart... which depresses and dissapoints me but as a small manufacturer myself I understand why they might think they have to do that)
This absolutely affects these commercial companies' bottom line, and they have every legal right to protect the investments they've made in R & D. I have a commercial 3D printer myself and I just went out of maintenance partially because a brand new Replicator 2 is possibly better and costs the same as one year's maintenance. This is an absolutely clear textbook case of what patents are supposed to be for.
This is essentially a collusion of worlds. "Cool, I could make that" vs. someone's got to make a living. Believe me, it sucks when you know you could make something but you're just not allowed to. I have a good deal of sympathy for both sides. I've released open source software (including -very- minor contributions to the Linux kernel), I'm becoming active at my local hackerspace, AND I sell proprietary industrial products that I could not make a living doing if they were free to copy.
Let's just ignore the whole discrimination problem here and ask simply:
Doesn't this remove a lot of the incentive for the lower threshold students to catch up? Wouldn't it demoralize the students with the higher threshold?
This is simply rigging the statistics to hide the problem. It will create many more problems than the one it attempts to cover up.
My small city at 8:15am had no line. The only way my voting could have gone faster is if the lady had the signature book open on the correct page already (5 seconds to switch), and if the lady at the door hadn't asked me my last name (another 5 seconds) to decide which empty line I should stand in.
I have "The Black Hole", and watched as a kid too. To qualify as a blatant rip-off, I'd think the movies would have to be at least somewhat similar.
While technically the common items you mention are present in both... they are extremely different in presentation. There MAY be points where running away from stormtroopers in the death star could be similar to running away from Max in that huge ship... I don't really see much in common here.
Could "The Black Hole" be an attempt to capitalize on the interest in space Star Wars, etc created? Sure, it's possible. That doesn't make it a rip off. They're not remotely similar in feel at all.
The Black Hole gave me nightmares as a little kid (Max's spinning blades killing that guy). I've always seen it as really dark almost-horror film. It's a crazy mad scientist makes killer robots and turns people into freakish automatons. That's a little different than a rough group of rebels fighting a galactic empire.
Heck, Phantasm feels more like "The Black Hole" to me than Star Wars does. That may be the scarred little kid in me talking, though.
Yeah, but it's a toll road between AUSTIN and SAN ANTONIO.
Obviously it's another republican plot to reduce democratic turnout.
and no, I'm not serious. (sad that I actually have to say this)
Well, I did have a really good experience that was similar at one client where a communications scientist would fly over and spend a week in my cube every few months basically explaining algorithms he developed in matlab. We'd take his algorithms to date as a starting point. First, I'd just come up with a reasonable translation of his matlab code (altering the algorithms for better performance with guidance from him to make sure changes I made didn't break the concept). After that, we'd usually iterate for a few days on improving the algorithms beyond what he'd done. This system worked really well... although he had a lot of down time waiting sometimes a few hours at a time for me to code the next iteration (I'd refactor in place to avoid messing up the code too much, sometimes forcing him to wait a bit). I on the other hand was crazy busy. I always looked forward to those visits.
While he did write a lot of matlab code... he was really considered a scientist, not a developer. What I was doing (and you too, apparently) was translating the scientist's work into well architected and maintainable code. There are certainly roles like this for experts to play, but usually for software platform architecture problems I think my original statements stand. System architects should be coding... their work should already be well architected and maintainable by definition.
it's possible that there would be code architecture tasks that require deep thought and possbibly translation by another into a broader framework... but then they're not the high level design architect either... more of a subsection specialist. They should still code proof of concepts just to avoid wasting people's time even if they get thrown away.
I was a small part of one large platform that needed seriously major but quite obvious refactoring that never got done specifically because the "top level architect team" was mentally masturbating over the next system design that never happened because they just kept iterating... for over TEN YEARS. If the architects were required to produce at least some functional modules that met design requirements by a certain delivery date then they'd be accountable if they never got something out the door. As it was, they felt like they were producing a lot, but they never actually delivered any product. High level management would ask what the hell was up, and they'd end up in meetings getting huge tomes of past software architecture design iterations thrown at them. The architecture team would show them how much work was being done and try to convince them the task was really really hard. It wasn't.
Luckily, that architecture team was eventually sidelined by a major outsourcing outfit. The outsourcing team cost a lot more, produced really ugly code, and took at least twice as long.... but at least things were going out the door again.
I strongly disagree in the concept that rockstars only design and don't code. Sure, lots of senior people I meet seem to think they've earned the right to just think all day on problems and let more junior people slog through actually coding anything. Many times you end up with (as Joel put it wonderfully) architecture astronauts that do much more harm than good. Many of the ones that avoid that particular trap just cost you a lot of money to work at a way lower productivity level than what they're capable of producing.
Coders need to constantly code, or they start to drift off the reservation. They develop odd ideas of what software development should be (which can end up quite burdensome since they don't have to do a lot of it themselves), and chase down crazy edge cases as thought experiments.
While the junior people need to learn somewhere, I'd much rather just work with just 'senior' level people personally. (That's generally a watered down ranking anyway, and certainly not rockstar level) Sorry, you guys deal with the rest.
At the moment, at my largest client they've got one near-rockstar guy and myself. We get things done about 10 times faster than -competent- teams I've work with in the past. When the platform evolves to a point where it needs some refactoring, there's no whining and it gets done FAST. (it's R&D, the requirements change rapidly) It's awesome. I wish I could hire the guy.
One of the weakest points of having more junior developers is handling signficant design shifts. On past teams we ended up avoiding or delaying making changes we needed to make because we were afraid of dealinng with the confusion from the juniors. The code ended up accumulating cruft to a much greater extent as a consequence.
> The idea that children can't handle these abstractions is ridiculous.
Exactly. Algebra should be mandatory for everyone, period. Abstract and critical thinking skills are IMHO massively important tools to transform a person from a child to an adult.
I am highly skeptical of the idea that "some people just can't think abstractly", and I believe that's simply a failure to find ways to teach the least prepared students. Seriouse extra effort needs to be spent to reach these people... the effects on society of too many non-abstract, non-critical thinkers to just too horribly damaging.
My personal view is that someone without these skills is simply not a mentually adult human being, and they should be treated as such. IF it was possible to concretely define what adequate mastery is (which would probably be quite difficult to do absent singificant bias), I'd go as far as saying a person so handicapped should not be able to vote and would need competent but non-binding counseling on any major life decision (especially the financial ones).
RMS' concept of sharing here is about that of a spoiled brat 10 year old.
Anyway, your last paragraph is a PERFECT way to illustrate how dumb this is.
Let's replace ARTIST with his GNU organization. Let's replace the copyrighted MUSIC where the 'right' to distribute is controlled through a purchased license with GPL'd GNU SOFTWARE where the 'right' distribute it is controlled through the GPL license.
By your logic (and possibly his), a person that happens to find GNU software on a torrent someplace with all the licenses stripped out is perfectly entitled to 'share' and take that copy and use it however they see fit (perhaps in their closed-source products?). There's no reason they'd then be bound by the distribution terms on the GPL at that point, would there? After all, if you find some music on a server someplace, you're no longer bound to respect the distribution terms of THAT, so why so with software?
Record companies are (almost all) horrible, horrible things that scam (almost all) artists out of their hard work without paying them a dime... but this is just stupid.
RMS should stick to fighting to convince the creators of things to make them free to share. The terms that makers (and their agents) apply to their creations' use should be respected. The fight is to convince people to change the terms, not to selectively ignore the ones you don't like.
I have used free software, and I've shared code back out of a sense of reciprosity. That's a good thing. However, I totally reserve the right to decide on a case-by-case basis what products of my labor are free to share and what I might decide to charge money for.
"The cost to copy is nothing, so it must be free" is BULLSHIT. Products are not 100% production costs. There's the initial development cost, sometimes advertising costs, office space costs, etc. The decision a person or company makes to produce something is based on looking at all of these costs together and trying to see if the sales will be worth ALL the costs.
Just saying "obviously by copying this so easily your business model sucks, so free music for me and you totally deserve to go broke, fool" is not much different than "your front door was open, and it was TOTALLY easy to just walk in and take your stuff... your ownership of things model sucks... so you totally deserve to lose everything, fool". Both things very well could be foolish, given the environment... but that doesn't make actively taking advantage of that person and enriching yourself at their expense right.
What RMS should be arguing for is a boycott of old-school record companies and an embracing of music from artists who promote sharing of their music and aren't represented by bags of slime. Only, there's a lot of good music out there you can only get from record companies... and most people wouldn't know where to start to find the other kinds of artists... and all their friends are listening to the record company music... so that's hard.
Emily DID WRONG in going the easy route and just taking music that should have been bought. Not a lot of wrong, in the scheme of things (especially given the victims).... but wrong nonetheless.
It feels good to give... and it feels GREAT to give something that doesn't cost anything to give. That doesn't make it universally right. The world is more complex than "it feels good so it must be right". Grow up, RMS.
This is seriously, seriously wrong.
Why on earth would someone spend the effort to be a lawyer if they just get paid the same? How do you think exceptional employees would feel about carrying everyone else like that? Everyone's going to be HAPPY to be a carbon copy cog in the great machine? If everyone has the same disposable incomes... people would be fighting for the easy jobs. The unhappiness has only moved from feeling taken advantage of due to differences in wages to feeling taken advantage of due to the vast differences in job difficulty across the entire company's payroll for the same disposable income. Now, instead of occasionally remembering the injustice every paycheck or two... you're constantly reminded of the inequity of your workload vs. others. It'd be miserable.
This is literal communism... like, on a real commune. It 'works' on a commune because there's no real product besides the group survival (unless they're led by morally bankrupt a-holes who are taking advantage of the naive, which seems to happen a lot) and virtually all of the work is unskilled and interchangable. They usually regularly rotate positions and find ways to punish people who aren't pulling their weight.
You're valuing the COMPANY product according to market rates, but you're completely disregarding the individual skills and product of the employees. You can't combine those, they're not compatible.
A person, like a company, has a product or a set of products. How valuable the product is to others should be reflected somehow in how that person is paid. Personally, I'd rather have the assembly line guy who works twice as fast get paid twice as much. The sales guy who can sell twice as much should be paid twice as much. However, I recognize that this would put too much pressure on the average person... so a system much like we currently have where the compensation for performance is much more gradual is fine by me. The extreme performers can go their own way if they want to do better.
I do wish that pay for different jobs could be somehow magically rebalanced according to the actual worth of what the person does for society, though. Not 1:1, though... probably something like "1 + ln(relative_societal_value)".
Even Apple wouldn't make it in a world without copyright or patents. The only midsized or large tech companies that would make it longer than a year or two would be Foxconn and companies like it. They'd morph into copy houses, mass producing other people's designs at a massive scale.
Smaller companies would exist at the mercy of the large ones... as long as the products aren't TOO profitable or too similar to an existing design already being copied they'd survive.
I'm kind of assuming patents would be gone too here... it would not make much sense to drop copyright without dropping patents too.