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Comment Re:Maybe I'm missing something (Score 1) 663

A programming language is more than just syntax and semantics. The standard library and other community projects create a platform. Leveraging this platform is essential to productive development. Learning syntax/sematics takes an hour or two. Learning the rest is a long career.

Comment Re:Fundamentally different things, though (Score 2, Interesting) 224

They really are different things.

First off, people do modify software on a daily basis. Customization of software is ubiquitous. Open source is an extreme model of customization and it has been successful because it addresses in a very specific way needs that are peculiar to software.

Customization of movies is *not* prevalent. You watch the movie that James Cameron made. Or the movie that Michel Gondry made. There is an entire notion of authorship is important to music / movies / books, and is utterly out of place in software.

Remixing is a practice of quotation, not customization. It is a way of leveraging the audience of another artwork to bring authority to your own, and as such is and will always be a loaded and potentially manipulative practice. Take a close look at Shepard Fairey's legal practices of defending his acts of appropriation as Fair Use, while suing those who appropriate his own work.

Remixing is similar to open source development in the way that it leverages the source work, but the effects are totally different. The audience of remixes remains fragmented. Open source software behaves in a different manner -- forks tend to merge back together, defragmenting the audience and increasing the value of the centralized project.

Here's the real issue. To those who would discard copyright, the question is what is it's replacement?

Without a legal framework to control distribution, content creators have already turned towards pervasive DRM as privatized solution. Sacrificing copyright also means sacrificing fair use. Or re-use of any kind, for that matter.

Comment Authorship of software is different (Score 5, Interesting) 224

Thus far engineers are the only ones to directly profit from open source businesses.

The single biggest mistake open source advocates make when envisioning a future is the assumption that successful engineering practices will be successful artist practices. You don't sample a Britney Spears song to make a longer, better Britney Spears song; you sample it for reference. Whereas when you patch emacs, you aren't referencing emacs, you are adding functionality.

Even if an artist subscribes to the free->fame startup model, eventually the steps to monetization involve controlling the distribution of copies. For example, first Danger Mouse released the Grey Album to great acclaim, then formed Gnarls Barkley and released music in traditional commercial channels.

While copyright is bad for engineers, it is a 300 year old legal framework designed to compensate artists. Discarding it for nothing is short sighted at best, and at worst exploitive of artists.

Comment Re:Double Standards, or Above the Law? - (Score 1) 419

You can call me an idiot, but violations of copyright are indeed theft from the artist/author. Supporting copyright law is important -- the GPL is built on copyright, Creative Commons is built on copyright.

What would you call it when a company encloses GPL software within proprietary products without releasing the source?

Just because the rightsholder in this case is Viacom doesn't mean the law is automatically invalid.

Comment Re:Double Standards, or Above the Law? - (Score 1) 419

Actually it is. In addition to prompt response to takedown notices for infringing content, to qualify as a DMCA safe harbor the ISP must be unaware of infringing content and must not profit from the infringing content. Youtube's defense is sitting on a one legged stool.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion