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United States

How Corporate Lobbyists Colonized the Net 220

In the mid 90s corporate lobbyists, panicked by file-sharing on the Net, succesfully manipulated Congress into passing watershed laws -- the Digital Millenium Copyright Act prominent among them -- that radically changed copyright law. These laws tilted the system of distributing ideas, culture and intellectual property towards the needs and interests of corporations, and away from centuries-old principles protecting freedom and an open culture. In Digital Copyright, Jessica Litman, a Wayne State Univerity professor and widely-recognized expert on copyright law, calls these laws "horrific" and details just how easy it has become for informational networks to monitor and restrict what people can see, hear and read. Publishers, movie studios, record companies and other content owners -- especially rich ones -- successfully got laws enacted that use technology to ensure they get paid whenever their works are used or transmitted. These new laws, Litman argues, are not only invasive, they corrupt the purpose of copyright and damage the free flow of ideas. (Read more.)

You don't need to be a copyright lawyer to get the basic idea: U.S. Copyright laws begin with the premise that neither the creator of a new work nor the general public ought to be able to appropriate all the benefits that flow from the creation of a new work. If creators can't make some money off of their creations, they have no incentive to create. If distributors can't earn some money from the works they distribute, they may not bother to distribute.

But all creators -- authors, musicians, artists, individuals -- borrow raw material to build their works. Novelists, sculptors and programmers, Litman points out, incorporate ideas, language, code, building blocks and expressive details they first encountered elsewhere.

If creators were given control over every element and use of everything they made, there would be no raw material left for others. The threat of legal action and liability would enter the creative process at every level. The flow of ideas could decrease or even dry up, caught in legal struggles and bounded by economic and other costs. The idea of American copyright was to give authors enough protection so they would keep cranking out new ideas, but limit that protection so that the flow of ideas would be enhanced. In terms of the vigorous movement of ideas and opinions, the idea worked well for more than two centuries.

Thus, writes Litman in Digital Copyright, "both as a matter of fairness and as a matter of promoting learning by encouraging authors to create works and the public to consume them, copyright has always divided up the possible rights in and uses of a work, and given control over some of those rights to the creators and distributors and fix others to the general public."

It is precisely this principle that corporate lobbyists destroyed when they got Congress to pass new kinds of copyright laws specifically in response to the growth of the Net and the complex challenges to existing intellectual property conventions that it posed. Because of the pinpoint precision of software data tracking and collection, these new laws theoretically require everyone to pay for every bit of every creative work they access, use or transmit. As the Napster flap demonstrates, the end result is that corporations benefit -- not artists, whose access to ideas is severely limited, or the general public, which now has no legal right to freely control or distribute any part of the creative works they access.

Corporate lobbyists made it a federal crime to transmit any part of a copyrighted work. In addition, the DMCA held site operators liable for all the damages incurred if any part of copyrighted works were transmitted over their sites.

As a matter of policy, Litman writes, these shifts in copyright law have "horrific" implications.

Setting the basic "compensable" unit of copyright (which is also the basic infringing unit) at the level of the (ephemeral) copy in volatile memory of your desktop computer involves the fundamental operation of computers in copyright on what is essentially an "atomic" level. (Most of you reading this know this, but in case some don't -) And since a computer works by reproducing data in its volatile Random Access Memory -- RAM -- so anything that exists in volatile memory could theoretically be saved to disk -- the appearance of any portion of a work in any computer's RAM is a reproduction within the meaning of federal copyright law.)

"It means," Litman writes, "that all appearance of works in computers -- at home, on networks, at work, in the library -- needs to be effected in conformance with, and with attention to, copyright rules. That's new. Until now, copyright has regulated multiplication and distribution of works, but it hasn't regulated consumption."

It does now.

If you buy a book, or even borrow one, you can read it as many times as you like. You can lend it or rent it to a friend, sell it or give it away. You can't legally make copies of it, but you can use it as many times as you want. But if every time a work appears in RAM, you are making an "actionable copy," then for the first time copyright owners have been given almost total control over the consumption of their works. Each time you open Microsoft Word to edit a document, you could eventually need Microsoft's permission. Each time you use your computer's CD-ROM drive to listen to a CD you bought, you need a license from the record company. Every time you view a Web page with a picture of Mickey Mouse, you need permission from Disney.

That is the direction in which laws like the DMCA are taking us, Litman says, and it's not accidental. That's the agenda of corporate copyright lawyers, who are largely unopposed in Congress or Washington. Hackers and other digital enthusiasts have long viewed cyberspace as unpoliceable and governable -- too big, individualistic and complex. Corporate lobbyists disagree: They see the Net as a potentially lucrative colony, over which incalculable amounts of copyrighted information can eventually be distributed at enormous profit. And they've taken signficant steps to conquer it.

When Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, cyber-liberties organizations were in an uproar. But few groups online paid much attention to the intense lobbying underway -- mostly out of sight -- involving copyright. The public had no real sense that Congress was passing laws that would put copyright owners in a position to claim exclusive "reading", "listening," and "viewing" rights to copyrighted works.

When copyright laws were initially passed, government was trying to protect individual authors. But most copyrighted material is now distributed by giant media conglomerates. The whole context in which copyright was originally conceived has changed, yet there seems little consciousness of this new reality in Washington or among political parties and interests.

Litman's is one of the best, clearest, most cogently organized and accessible books yet written on the travesty that is the DMCA, which President Clinton blithely signed into law while the Tech Nation dozed. The DMCA is the price a culture pays for ignoring politics, and we'll be paying for this legislation for a long time to come.

Copyright owners' enforcement strategies have mostly been limited to threats, litigation and ham-handed public relations and media campaigns aimed at convincing Americans that they ought to disapprove of unauthorized use. While that strategy can work against a specific target like Napster, or intermediaries like a college or large company (since these large targets have assets to be threatened by litigation), it works far less well in deterring individuals. In fact, says Litman, a variety of new applications (Gnutella, for instance) have popped up to permit individuals to wantonly violate these new laws, and the wave of copyright lawsuits has only encouraged this trend. Napster recently topped 62 million registered users, few of whom believed they were thieves, suggesting the DMCA wasn't a law with much popular support.

Yet eventually, in order to fully enforce the rights that content owners now claim, it will be necessary to go after individual consumers. Noncompliance becoming endemic, even institutionalized, would become the single most important factor in determining the fate and future of copyright. Litman observes that people don't obey laws they don't believe in.

Litman also points out in Digital Copyright that the conflict over the scope of copyright on the Net is being fought in the usual way: "Representatives of private interests are simultaneously jockeying for advantage while offering to sit down at the bargaining table and negotiate a deal that they find satisfactory. Senators and representatives make general pronouncements about the importance of the issues raised and the need to find the right answer, while assuring the various interests that their doors are open and they would be delighted to broker a negotiated solution."

Litman used to believe that bad copyright law derived from lack of congressional expertise of the issues involved -- especially complete ignorance of the Net and the Web -- or a lack of interest in the details. But she came to a different, more ominous conclusion. "More and more," she writes, "it seems likely that at least many of the legislators who seek to promote inter-industry consensus are hoping to score a substantial portion of the money being poured into copyright lobbying."

Litman's book is bleak. The only ray of hope she sees is consumers' widespread noncompliance. She points out that the battle is lopsided, to say the least. Individuals and individual rights have few lobbyists in Washington.


Look for Michael's take on this book soon as well.

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How Corporate Lobbyists Colonized the Net

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    One poster used the analogy of cookies, saying that you wouldn't expect to be able to take the cookies he baked without compensation, so why should you expect to take his *intellectual* property without compensation. Unwittingly, he has stumbled into the heart of the matter. - What if I don't want his cookies, but I want to bake my own? *intellectual* property says, NO! I thought of the idea of baking first! - But I thought of baking cookies on my own! *IP* says, Too Bad! The idea is MINE! - But my mom used to bake me cookies! *IP* says, Did she file a patent application? I thought NOT! Pay up! - But my baking my own cookies has nothing to do with you baking your cookies, and takes nothing from you that you already have. *IP* says, NO! I control all baking of cookies! You must pay me! - Well, in that case, I'm going to bake a cake! *IP* says, your cake looks like a big, fluffy cookie to me! Pay up! - In that case, I'll eat raw dough. *IP* says, your creation of any dough-like substance is covered under claim 479 - Pay up! No wonder the general reaction toward IP laws is unfavorable. Unfortunately, the cookie maker contributes a lot more money to Congress on this issue . . .
  • This is an interesting point. I guess the Open Society idea is based on the notion that we as individuals might have the _capability_ to, say, inspect Bill Gates' tax records for cheating, or watch what Dubya or Clinton do in bed.

    There is an element of truth to this- but there's also an unstated assumption. In order to do such monitoring, you've got to have a level of competency- you've got to have education and information enough to provide a context for what you see, you've got to have time to do it in.

    I'm wondering if this is where it breaks down- if it is really not much more than a libertarian fantasy of darwinistic power. If you are brilliant and energetic and stubborn then perhaps you'd be able to be as influential as the government- all the while, being entirely unconcerned about the peasants. After all, it's not YOUR job to look after peasants. Isn't it a bit like "If they don't have the energy to do as I do 18 hours a day keeping track of these little issues, they deserve to be spied on, controlled, and then be poisoned by having toxic waste facilities built on their blocks, right? They would in theory have the _ability_ to learn chemistry, learn to identify toxic waste, save up for and buy chemical analysis tools to prove it, track down the corporate layers of obfuscation, learn public speaking and motivate their fellow peasants- what's stopping them? If they choose to work all day and drag themselves home and collapse, then they _deserve_ to die, right?"

    This isn't even overstating the case- the modern world is just _too_ complex for individuals to take on the role of watchdog over all possible threats. You'd spend weeks learning about toxins the local paper mill was dumping in your drinking water, get it together enough to raise the issue, and on the way to your big meeting you'd get mugged and left for dead- then, picked up off the street and sent to prison because you downloaded a movie off the net. There's too much for any single individual to deal with, you have to prioritize and this makes it impossible to be truly self sufficient in any sense of the word.

    The way this applies to Open Society is simple: who's paid to spy on you and benefit by that, and how much time and effort do you really have available to spy on them back? The very real danger is that this would stratify society into peasants and aristocracy- not only aristocracy of wealth and power, but a new and strange aristocracy of information. The people who've always been more or less scorned except you'd ask them how to fix your PC, would suddenly be the ones who know what you did last night, with who, and could correlate it with other times to establish a pattern. Yes, being on slashdot talking to slashdotters I can see how this might have an appeal- but it does NOT take the place of extending rights to citizens.

    I have a problem with anything that increases the tendency to make a lower class into peasantry. Open Society would make a huge percentage of people into peasantry- cutting across lines of income and background. Those Winston Smiths would be surrounded by screens and cameras. And in theory they could look out into the world instead of just being helpless... unfortunately, Winston's VCR is blinking 12:00... 12:00... 12:00... 12:00...

  • The story about how you helped your friend is good. That's absolutely the sort of thing you should be doing.

    While you were doing it, how much energy did you devote to monitoring toxic waste disposal, resisting encroaching copyright issues, fixing pork barrel appropriations in Congress, stopping 'soft money' corporate influences in government, and writing open source? o_O

    Do you see that the level of work that is needed is not just hard but _impossible_ to dump on private individuals in a libertarianesque freemarketish way? That you cannot coordinate individuals to counter or resist composite entities like corporations (or governments!) because there are just too many of the latter to be able to deal with? Alvin Toffler wasn't so far off the mark in 'Future Shock'- but the nasty part is, with the increasing pace of all things, the corporations increasingly get to run amok and their interests are pretty well understood by now. You'll come home from helping your friend and also working with neighbors to fight a nearby toxic waste burning facility, will collapse on your chair and the seat will _explode_ because some corporation felt like making special high-tech cushioning materials that were spontaneously combustible. Reading the fine print as you try and scrape your ass off the ceiling, you see that the warranty is void if you collapse on the chair in an immoderate manner.

    *g*

    Okay, so that _was_ funny, but do you see the point? I think we can't continue to have the culture you speak of for much longer. It affects our corporations and our government and leaves us ill-equipped to defend ourselves against these monsters we've created in our own image.

  • A transparent, Open Source society needn't be a bad place to live.

    Oh, so you think people would just let it all hang out and lead gleeful, uninhibited lives, fearing no closet skeletons.

    Privacy is a function of fear - the fear of others. If that privacy is removed, the fear is too.

    ... so long as you're in conformity with the majority. If you aren't, you'll have plenty to be afraid of.

  • I think that people are getting to worked up over privacy.
    Are you kidding? Do you think it would have been ok for Hitler to have an exhaustive list of all jews? Do you think everybody should be able to know who is gay, who has got AIDS and this kind of info?
    If yes, then let me tell you, you are a fascist in my book...

    Concerning your claims, I am all ready to think you have got the figures to proove what you say, because I remember seeing figures that showed that the lack of privacy had no positive impact on security...

    1) Crime would greatly decrease. We can see this already in Britain with CCTV systems.
    Well, we can't see it in France, but I guess that Brits are well known to be sheeps.

    2) Greater honesty in society. People would no longer be able to lie about their personal lives.
    In a perfect world maybe! Are we living in a perfect world? Let me check... I don't think so. Do you think corruption is going to stop because they are cameras everywhere? This strikes me as being very very naive.

    3)Less hypocrisy. Nobody would expect our politicians, wives etc to be perfect. There would be better understanding of human nature.
    I think this would actually increase the hypocrisy because people would pretend to be perfect when in fact they will just be cheating the system. Or do you think there will be no way to escape.

    If you have such trust in society and the people who will rule the camera systems, then please go back to your history books!!!

  • Why are thoughts and ideas like physical property?

    The cookies you've baked have a physical existence, and if someone takes them, you'll be bereft of chocolatey goodness. If someone, however, uses your cookie receipe without your permission, nothing is actually "taken" -- and there's *more* cookies in the world. And when it comes right down to it, isn't that what we all want?
  • Maybe. But what inherent *right* do you have to make money selling cookies?

    Particularly, if I come up with a similar recipe on my own -- perhaps even a better one -- and that becomes more popular, is that "effectively stealing"?

    What if I start making cakes, and people decide they prefer those to cookies? I'm getting some of the money you would have made otherwise.

    There's a lot of ifs and coulds and conditions involved -- pretty far removed from the simple "I took your cookies" situation in the real world.

    Intellectual property laws were invented for the benefit of society. Currently, they're being used *against* society. Something's wrong.
  • "Take"? Who said anything about "taking"? Taking implies that I have it, and you don't. That's exactly what's not happening.
  • by K-Man ( 4117 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @09:47AM (#286084)
    The Yahoo press release: Yahoo! to Appoint Terry S. Semel Chairman and CEO [yahoo.com]

    From the SDMI press release [trinetcom.com]

    At a press conference today, leaders of the worldwide recording industry announced the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), a framework to

    ...blah...blah...blah...

    In planning for nearly a year, the initiative was announced by leading worldwide music heads, including: ... Bob Daly, chairman and co-CEO, Warner Bros. and Warner Music Group; Terry Semel, chairman and co-CEO of Warner Bros. and Warner Music Group; Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America...

  • Hypocrisy has never been a deterrent to accusations (provable or not) that destroy a persons life, career, relationship, whatever.

    Scandal works by playing with "public opinion" -- the facts are often irrelevant, and a life can be destroyed regardless of the facts, just from the sensationalism. E.g., gay men in positions of authority in the Boy Scouts -- the guy (in the latest case) may not even be gay, but all the proof in the world isn't going to change the allegation, just as all the proof in the world that the Ryan kid got AIDS from a transfusion (and not homosexuality) didn't change the prejudice against him and his family.

    "Facts" still fall under a level of interpretation, and the first to interpret and go public with his interpretation can use that to control public opinion and most people's own interpretations; its already jaded by then -- they'll see what they're "shown", not what is there.

    As with the jerks out there who listen to radio shows they don't like (e.g., Howard Stern) just waiting for them to play/say something banned by the FCC to get them fired, there will be those looking at these public cameras just to find a reason to destroy someone's reputation by twisting the interpretation of what the camera showed. This is their only source of "power" because they lead such shitty lives -- they make "soap operas" out of others lives...it happens already -- an "open" society will just make it worse by making it easier for these people.
    --
    You gotta get up real early around here if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • Yeah. Being constantly watched makes life better and makes us more tolerant of differences. This argument was powerfully and effectively rebutted in George Orwell's 1984. Which means you're more than half a century too late.
  • Good. Now apply some critical thinking skills, and describe for me how the situation would be different.

    The "people" watching you would be no different than "Them" watching you when it comes to the fundamental problems of being watched indicated in the book.

    The point of the constant observation was that you couldn't give any outward indication of deviation from the accepted norm at any time, because someone might be watching. Would it have made any difference if Winston had been observed by the Thought Police, or by a patriot neighbor ready at the first warning sign to report him to the same?

    Which really the book covers just as well. Winston had to be just as careful among his countrymen, even if there was no camera around. They were effectively an extension of the Thought Police.

    And I believe that the Thought Police itself was a metaphor for a society in which deviation is punished. Just think of the McCarthy era, and you can see that this isn't so far-fetched. It was just as bad if your neighbors knew you were a communist as if the government did.

    I mean, really. This is what happens when people try to condense a work of literature like 1984 down to one single statement "Them watching Us" and declare that there can be no other point. Or maybe they just heard that there was only one point.
  • This has been posted several times in different forms, and is a bad interpretation of Orwell's book.

    Now, now. I believe that the only bad interpretations are ones that 1) can't be supported by the text or 2) don't give any useful insight ("Winston was left-handed" being an example).

    The relation of course, was that the government held total power over Smith's life. This is the theme, the argument if you will, of 1984

    Like most great works of literature, 1984 had more than one theme. And I believe the book has a great deal to do with privacy.

    Without privacy, there was no space in which you could outwardly deviate from "proper" behavior, because of the risk of being observed doing it.

    The one-way nature of the screens is indeed important for the theme of absolute government power, but not important for the theme of the need for privacy. Would it have made any difference if Winston could have watched his neighbors go about their Thought Crime-free lives? Watch the government watching him? Oh, now he knows he's being watched. Much better, then.

    You can see that the people were as much a danger as the Thought Police in the way Winston acted around others. Even when no monitor was present, it was necessary to prevent any semblence of deviation -- the person, unless a particularly unique individual, would report deviance. This was the right thing to do. The people were an extension of the Thought Police. Being watched by them was just as bad.

    The problem was not only that the Government had complete control, it was that the People had instilled in them a singular sense of how a person should act, and that any deviance was not just a crime, but a moral wrong. It didn't matter if the Thought Police were watching you, so long as you deviated from the majority's moral code, you were doomed.

    Consider: The Thought Police could just as easily be your Ultra-Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist boss.

    I repeat: I feel that 1984, among other things, argues for the need for privacy.
  • There are a lot of women who read and frequently post on /. It's just that most of the time we don't go out of our way to remind people we're women unless there's a good reason to.

    -Alison, who also thinks that this is a very well thought out argument regardless of the gender of the author.
  • 1) Crime would greatly decrease. We can see this already in Britain with CCTV systems.

    Utter oxdung. Whenever the limeys install pubic CCTV cameras in one neighboorhood, the problems move elsewhere where there is no CCTV. That's a typical anglo-saxon solution: drive the problem elsewhere instead of solving the root causes.

    Incidentally, why is the cost of living so high in the britshit isles? Could this be a reason for the skyrocketting crime?

    2) Greater honesty in society. People would no longer be able to lie about their personal lives.

    99.44% pure bullshit. People would find ways to conceal their lives, and politicos and big-shots, by being big-shots, would be able to suppress evidence. Power corrupts, and they will.


    --

  • ``The founders wanted to put your copyright into the public domain at your death, then it was 20 years, now 75. What use do you have for your IP when you are dead?''

    If I'm not mistaken, one of the biggest lobbyists for extending the copyright period was Disney. You see, Mickey Mouse was about to go into the public domain. Just how would Michael Eisner continue to receive $500M/year in salary/etc. if Disney Corp. didn't have the exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse? Of course Walt Disney didn't have much use for the MM copyright but the leaches that run Disney nowadays did and bought an extension to the copyright laws to make sure that the gravy train didn't dry up during their lifetime.


    --

  • If you re-type a printed document, you are making a perfect digital copy. The entire premise of copyright law is that duplicating works is easy. If it was impossible to reproduce a work, copyright law would be meaningless. Like a law forbidding the copying of the weather.

    The fair use laws make sense in the context of a general public that is willing and able to exercise good judgement and make decisions accordingly. If you want to buy a CD, then listen to it on your RIO, you should have the right to make the value judgement that this application is justified under the doctrines of fair use & first sale. You have paid the author. If someone asked you to buy a CD duplicator, and make them 1000 copies of a Metallica album so they can sell them on the black market, you should be the one making the value judgement that this is not fair use, because it interferes with the author's commercial exploitation of his work.

    The DMCA is designed on the assumption that the general public is just a pack of thieves who need to be locked away from digital works; an insulting justification of an unconstitutional law.
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:59AM (#286096)
    What the copyright industry is forgetting is that copyright has traditionally been a social contract.

    In general, publishers agree to publish works, making them available to the public. The public gains two important benefits from this half of the bargain.

    First, works are placed in the public domain in two ways. First off, the copyright is supposed to expire eventually, but there is another sense of the "public domain", which is "material available for public use." For instance, If you want to quote a paragraph from a copyrighted novel in your English paper, you are allowed to do so. This is fair use. It ensures that copyright serves the purpose of promoting learning and education.

    If you want to sell your used book, you are allowed to. This is first sale. It ensures that works survive by placing copies of those works in private hands, and preventing the authors or publishers from reclaiming them or interfering with the public's use of them.

    In exchange, citizens agree not to compete commercially with the publishers in exploiting their work.

    This theme runs up and down through copyright law, with the notable exception of the DMCA. The DMCA is really anti-copyright. It is everything that copyright is not supposed to be. The DMCA was designed to allow publishers to renege on their half of the social contract.

    Under the DMCA, the publisher is not obligated to place a work in the public domain in either sense of the word. Even after the copyright term expires, an encrypted work remains encrypted. There is no obligation, or provision, for an encrypted work to be unencrypted upon copyright expiration. And none of us will live long enough to see it happen. In the second sense of the "public domain", the DMCA allows publishers to use technological measures to prevent fair use. Want to quote a paragraph from an encrypted e-book by cutting and pasting? That's illegal if the publisher says so. Want to sell your copy of that e-book? That's also illegal if the publisher says so. not because it's illegal under copyright law, but because it's illegal under the DMCA, which is anti-copyright law.

    There are probably three ways that the copyright crisis can resolve -- either:

    1) The public learns to accept the fact that their rights to read, quote works, and own and trade copies of works has been permanently banished.

    2) The courts strike down the DMCA.

    3) Sensing that the publishing industry is no longer bound to the traditional obligations of the copyright social contract, the public abandons their half of the social contract. Copyright violation becomes like drinking during prohibition -- just another bad law waiting to be struck off the books.

    Make no mistake, copyright is in crisis. When Congress wrote the DMCA, they completely got the problem backwards. The problem isn't that a thieving public is waiting breathlessly for the opportunity to strip copyright holders of all their rights. The problem is that a thieving copyright industry has been waiting breathlessly for the opportunity -- the DMCA -- to strip the public of all their rights.

    The endgame is now in motion, and I predict that it will result in either the destruction of the DMCA, the destruction of consumer rights, or the destruction and abandonment of copyright itself.

    Never forget that copyright originally arose as an instrument of censorship. It was a stroke of genius to transform an instrument of censorship into an instrument to promote progress, and all it took was an ignorant Congress, and an opportunistic publishing industry, to change it back.

  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:40AM (#286097)
    I like that part. You say that copyright originally started as an instrument of censorship. You couldn't be more wrong. Copyright protects the author and helps them continue producing their goods.

    Copyright was originally invented to counter the threats of a new digital age -- the invention of movable type by Gutenberg. Before the invention of the printing press, there was no such thing as copyright. The powers-that-be at the time, specifically the British Crown, were worried that this new technology could be used against them, and they passed laws to ensure that it would be brought under royal control.

    The new laws were called the "stationers copyright." In exchange to submitting to censorship by the crown, book publishers were given the exclusive right to publish books, and to suppress unauthorized publishers by destroying their presses and burning their books. Copyright had no requirement of originality -- a publisher could, for instance, publish an edition of an ancient work -- by Socrates, for example, and claim exclusive copyright over it. The copyright laws were unpopular, and the crisis came to a head around 1710. The Crown stood ready to completely abolish copyright, but the publishers came to the table with a new strategy.

    The result was the Statute of Anne. In the new copyright regime, instead of the copyright benefit being assigned to publishers, the new copyright benefit would be assigned to authors. The term would also be time-limited; not a feature of the original censorship law.

    The authors of the U.S. Constitution debated whether or not the United States should even have copyright. In the end, they authorized -- but did not require -- the government to establish copyright laws, but phrased the copyright clause to follow the principles of the Statute of Anne:

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    Note that the purpose of the copyright clause is not to benefit authors. The purpose of the copyright clause -- and all legitimate copyright law -- is to promote progress. Benefiting authors is the means of the copyright clause, not the end.

    The DMCA is in essence an end-run around the entire body of copyright law. Under copyright law, you are allowed to make fair use of works, and you are allowed to resell legitimate copies of works without the permission of the publisher. What the DMCA does is forbids one from having the means to exercise one's rights without the permission of the publisher. That is unconstitutional, wrong, and a violation of everything that copyright stands for.

    But yes, copyright did originate as a system of pure censorship and government control. Good copyright law is a very delicate balance -- much like the other systems of checks and balances in the Constitution. All it takes is one bad law to wipe out 300 years of good copyright law, and revert to the original censorship law.

    My argument stands. Copyright law has been so debased, that copyright itself has reverted to its original purpose of censorship and suppression. Except that instead of government doing the censoring and suppressing, now it is the corporate state, arguably more powerful and more dangerous than the government.
  • by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:53AM (#286098) Homepage Journal
    Litman observes that people don't obey laws they don't believe in.

    Unfortunately, as the war on drugs shows, massive noncompliance does not necessarily have any significant impact on the law, even in the medium term. Laws against marijuana possession and consumption have been on the books for somewhere over 50 years, and while enforcement has waned and waxed over that time, it's still mostly illegal, and the political establishment generally considers "legalization" a third rail topic.

    It's all but certain that the same will very likely be true regarding all of this copyright flap as well. There will always be the underground where you can trade your MP3's and Ripped software, but the populace at large will not regain its rights in our lifetimes, and maybe not even our children's lifetimes.

  • If you give up the idea of rights and accept whatever society does, then society is free to create laws that punish mass murderers because the majority feels that it is ethical.
  • Either fight to change the system or move.
  • Damnit - in my eagerness to download it, my brain conveniently didn't notice that "not" in the middle there!

    Guess I'm just a no-good copyright-infringer at heart after all ;-)

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • Indeed.

    However, I have never said that information wants to be free. Personally, I don't think that it does.

    I'm all for open source software and the free exchange of information and ideas. What I'm not in favour of is the enforced exchange of information, except where it is clearly in the public interest. The publicising of people's personal information is not in the public interest.

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:09AM (#286104)
    The desire for privacy isn't born of fear. The desire to remove privacy from others is born of the fear of what they will do with it.

    I believe quite strongly that privacy is a natural right, that I should be afforded the dignity to live my life as I choose to without being subjected to public scrutiny.

    You seem to say that privacy is not a right; let me ask you a counter question: "What gives you the right to know anything about me other than that which I myself choose to tell you?"

    You make a number of claims, particularly the 3 consequences of removing privacy, yet I don't see any evidence for any of them. If you want to convince people like me, you're going to have to offer us some evidence. For example, I live in the UK, but have seen no hard evidence to support claim 1. Oh, and with no privacy, we would have no personal lives, as everything would be public.

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • by HamNRye ( 20218 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @01:32PM (#286106) Homepage
    Borrowing from works is not only common as dirt, but a way of making art reach a better audience.

    I am a musician, and much of music relies on the listener having a cultural reference in common with the performer. From the early days of Jazz, musical jokes were introduced by comping lines from well known songs. A modern example would be playing the melody of "Light my Fire" during a solo over "Burning down the House".

    As Bruce Thomas said: "You play the melody of one lick and the rhythm of another, that's where licks come from."

    In painting, you still use the techniques and styles of many generations of artists. Under the DCMA, an artists could copyright something as simple as a color, or a theme. So, when an artist copyrights "Nudes" or "Still Life" or "Photo-Realism" how much "new" will be left??

    All art must move in paitent steps from the known to the new. Art appeals to us only in the way it is different from what we already know. When the DCMA has rendered popular culture as a tool of the corporations, there will be little to build upon. No art, science, or prosperity is built in a vacuum, we build upon the resources of others.

    Your remarks on RZA?? Sampling simply copies the work of previous artists, (other artists that have used samples, not artists they are sampling, since you have already pointed out that they mostly(?) make their own loops) they are not doing something totally new, they are doing something new in an old medium. Are they using 4/4 time? And I'm sure I could much more easily deconstuct their tracks and find at least one or two snippets that could get them sued even if they had never heard the song the the snippet matched.

    (In the Van Halen vs. Tone Loc decision two notes were considered enough to prove copyright infringement. As long as they were deemed "recognizable or reminiscient" of the original.)

    So, throw out all of the things you have read about art, color, paint, and canvas. As you would say, clinging to this knowledge is just "riding the coattails of others".

    In addition, under the DCMA, art criticism is outlawed without the consent of the artist. Since you would be "discussing or describing the techniques used in the creation of a copyrighted work." Works well to help companies punish anyone who says anything negative about any of their products. (BTW, if the criticism did not fit the above description, it was not very good criticism.)

    Finally, before this degenerates into the usual "You're an idiot" /. nonsense, I assure you I am not alone in this. I'll put in the relevant quotes and you can attack these artists reputation if need be.

    Johhny Cash: "The Public Domain is the best place to steal songs from, no royalties!" -VH1 Storytellers

    Elvis Costello: "The best part of the song is when I mention Billy-Boy Arnold and Bruce played the lick..."

    ~Hammy
    "Happiness is a word for amateurs."
  • Neat thesis. Was it Larry Niven or David Brin who wrote the "Transparent Society" essay? Neat take on utopia. However, listen close:

    This.
    Will.
    Never.
    Happen.

    The politicians and demagogues will NEVER permit themselves to be subjected to the degree of scrutiny they are levying on The People. They have no reason to! They believe themselves to be Above The Law. They think that They Know What's Best. In the best case, they're idealistic and naive...in the worst, they're greedy and power-hungry.

    The transparent society idea is based on the flawed premise that The People have equal power with The Government. Not so. The only country that comes CLOSE to this ideal is the US, where the Constitution used to specifically limit the sorts of power that Government could use. (Good thing they got rid of all that mess, huh?)

    I wouldn't mind living in that world...but Orwell was a lot closer to the mark.
  • I can't speak for any other country (never having lived in one) but I for one am pretty disappointed in the efficacy of grassroots activism. I'm thinking specifically about social security. The only people who support the system as it's currently chartered are 1) the people who are currently drawing from it and 2) Congress. 2) is particularly pernicious because Congress members are not required to pay into social security, and they have a VERY VERY lucrative retirement package of their own. This is a PERFECT example of the government thinking itself above the law..."Do as I say not as I do". However, the average taxpayer is likely not even aware of this situation...and the ones that are have been totally unsuccessful at getting the system changed (because the people who benefit from the current system are the only ones that can change it...)

    I believe that pervasive surveillance would be exactly the same way. The wealthy and powerful would be able to secure privacy for themselves, and they would then be able to persecute the rest of us based on what we do in our bedrooms.
  • New Zealand may well have the luxury of a low enough population density to not suffer from the same political problems of other countries. It's also on my list of places I'd like to move. : )

    Your point about Italy is interesting. Do you really think the organized crime heads are going to allow themselves to be monitored all the time? I'm assuming for the sake of argument that they will want to "police" the people, whether for good or ill I don't know...

    Switzerland is a pretty small country too. Their politics are sufficiently contrarian that they may be the exception that proves every rule. : )

    In Japan, those ministers may grovel, but they exercise unified economic power like no other government on Earth. The public face and the private face of the Japanese government couldn't be more different, and I guarantee that private face will not suffer itself to be revealed.

    It IS a big world, but humans aren't THAT different. They hunger for power, as measured relative to other people. They want MORE power than their neighbor has. Until we break that little habit, organizations (frequently governments) will always try to enforce their will on The Masses.
  • I'd agree, especially with the last line of quoted material. Sounds like something I'd say myself.

    I still mean what I said when I said all comparisons are flawed, but I should clarify that as, all analogies that are used to show how our behaviour with one must follow the behaviour with the other merely because both end with 'property'.

    So yes, you were right to call me on it, my phrasing was incorrect.

    Please provide the URL of that full piece, your arguments are quite compelling and I'd like to be able to show them to others.
  • I don't mind limited patents (and IP protection in general). I do mind total "hands off!" statements like the original poster made.

    IMHO, that discovery may be only 10% you, 90% history, but that's not to say you don't deserve any protection on your work. I just don't believe that copyrights and patents should never expire, which would be a valid view if you accepted that they were 100% the work of the current person.

  • I don't see how you're comparing PP to IP, all I see is how you say that they're distinct because there's no unit cost for IP.

    I think all three ideas for distributing IP will work depending on the circumstance.

    #1 works with a patron, either just to spur creation like an art fan sponsoring a picture, or to donate it to the community as advertising like IBM contributing to Linux.

    #2 is basically the street performer idea. You pick up and leave if the tips aren't good, people know this and tip accordingly.

    #3 if like now, except that like now, it's hard to enforce.

    There's aother, which I saw proposed by RMS and imho, it's a good idea in many ways...

    #4 tax blank media - accept the customer's word about what they're going to copy onto it (which artist's music, or which computer game, etc). Based on that, the tax is distributed fairly. There's no incentive to lie because supposedly if someone likes something enough to copy it, they want to see more of it get made.

    Note that the assumption for #4 falls apart with hated companies like MS... But, then, if I got a copy of Win2k for the $.50 tax on a blank CDR, I'd probably consider it worth it and not bother lying, where I wouldn't pay $300 for it.
  • How about if someone picks something that a small minority does, like, anal sex, or golden showers, or nose picking, or (not) breastfeeding, depending on who you're targetting.

    You pick your target, note everything they do, and pick the thing that the least number of people do. Start a public opinion campaign to convince people that it's a nasty nasty thing.

    Yes, if you pick something nearly everyone does, like sex, you won't be able to stir up a witch hunt. But if you pick a fringe activity you could convince people it was really sick (or more people would be doing it.)

    And, even if someone did do something weird and 99% of people would agree that it was sick, is it relevant? If it doesn't come out in the course of their work, do we have the right to discriminate based on it?
  • To what extent do you create something?

    If you write music, you're borrowing a notational system, a musical scale, and knowledge of other pieces of music.

    If you write a play, you're using a language, an alphabet, idiom, plot device, and other things that you did not develop.

    If you invent a better mousetrap you're looking at designs of old ones to do so. If you invent a wonder-drug, you're looking at public-domain gene sequences, sequenced by others, with a history of medical knowledge that took thousands of years to accumulate.

    And you want total control of something? I think not. You'll get limited protection, and you'll like it. If everyone got unlimited protection over any IP they had a part in, we wouldn't be able to do anything without paying royalties to many people for something their ancestors did centuries ago, which was in turn based off something developed before that.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:07AM (#286115) Homepage
    Oh yawn! Go troll another one.

    Any 'intellectual property physical property' comparison is a troll. IP can be copied and still exists for the original creator, physical property can't be magically duplicated. Until you adress that issue you're just adding to the N side of the S/N ratio.

    Your IP is based on the collective history of the world. Where would be be if Shakespeare had the courts uphold a broad copyright on the idea of a tragedy, and his heirs sued people for creating derivative works? What if Calculus was patented and mathmeticians were sued for using it?

    That's the kind of bullshit you're arguing for. Your IP is not an island. It exists on the foundation of other works, you don't deserve a universal monopoly on your ideas anymore than everyone your derivative life (and everyone else's) is based on deserve royalties when you do something that's unoriginal.

    The *ONLY* viable alternative to limited and expiring IP protection is *NO* IP protection. If everyone's IP was treated as special just because they were the first to take it to court, there'd be nothing new done.

    Accept that your precious 'IP' is really 10% yours and 90% based on the previous work of others. You're lucky to get the protection you do.

  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:13AM (#286116) Homepage
    A lack of privacy won't make people tolerant of others, it'll simply enable them to persecute others for their differences.

    You think we'll stop demonizing politicians for cheating when we see our own spouses cheating? Or will we take a copy of that video to court in order to win a favorable divorce settlement?

    Will people be free to do what they want, or will their employers and neighbors discriminate based on what they do on their own time?

    Maybe your boss will fire you for checking out a porno site on your own time. Maybe the cops won't help you because they know you visited a counter-culture site that was critical of some Rodney King-esque brutality.

    Mass spying is bad enough, but automate it and let people have a computer tabulate certain events... That's a sure recipe for a totalitarian state where everyone follows the strictest people's morality for fear of being labelled a pervert or deviant and ostracized.

    When AI systems can recognize faces they'll follow people from camera to camera. And then you'll have AI designed to spot behaviour, sex, eating, nose picking, etc. Whatever someone wants to make the social evil of the week will be recorded and used against their enemies.

    There is *no* freedom is constant surveilance.
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:05AM (#286118)
    But most copyrighted material is now distributed by giant media conglomerates.

    And very little of it is worth wasting time on. It's just entertainment. A simple diversion. Once the "giant media conglomerates" make the medium too onerous or inconvenient, it will cease to be entertaining or diverting and people will move on to other things. I think that will be a good thing.

    At this point, fact are not copyrightable. As long as that remains true, our civilization is in no trouble. Who, other than his mother, really gives a shit if Ricky Martin disappears from the face of history in five years, as long as we have records of what laws have been passed?

    So what if people can't download the latest track from Britney Spears for free. Maybe they'll take the time to go down the street and listen to a local band. Maybe, after a while, we'll actually see some creativity being introduced back into the music business. Maybe the public will wake up, realize that we're all artist, and that the self-centered corporatist can buy their own pablum.

    The current model has been built by years of 'free' music over the radio. It was convenient and entertaining (to most). The populace has tried to continue that model through the Internet. The moguls are rebelling at this, because the music never was 'free' to begin with; the cost was simply re-distributed through higher cost on goods that were advertised. The model now requires that people pay directly instead of letting the cost be deferred.

    I don't see a problem with that. It's their 'content' let them do with it what they may. Let them lock it away in a vault and only allow people willing to pay their first born to see it. Maybe people will wake up and realize that the stuff they're asking money for is crap. Maybe people will discover that a local play is more interesting that another Jean Claude VanDam 'jump-n-kick' movie. Maybe people will find that there is 'free' music at a local bar (where they drink expensive drinks.)

    Maybe this whole 'copyright laws are lopsided' debate is bullshit. Disney owns Mickey Mouse. Let them own it forever. If you don't like that, ignore the mouse and all the movies that the company makes. The world will go on fine without either of them.

  • There's a big difference between things (like cookies, bullion, potato chips) and information (cookie recipies). I can copy your cookie recipe without you even knowing about it and bake all the cookies I want -- do you *really* want me to believe that's equivalent to coming into your kitchen and raiding the cookie jar? One leaves you hungry, the other just clueless.

    The crux of the matter is this:

    Intellectual Property takes time to create.
    Physical Property takes time to create.

    You can never get that time back.

    Therefore, you should be able to choose how you want to be compensated for the time you spend creating that thing - whether it be Intellectual or Physical.

    If your 'customers' decide that they don't want to agree to the terms of your bargain, then they're welcome to do so -- and not get that thing you have created. After all, why do they want it if it's not worth - in turn - something to them? And if it's worth something to them, and it took a portion of your life that you'll never get back to create it, then surely you should be compensated - as it's worth something to you as well.

    Now do you get it? Why do you want their cookie recipe? Why not come up with your own? Theirs tastes better? Well, they put the effort in to create it - so you owe them whatever the two of you agree to in return for the recipe.

    Taking the argument to the limit: If authors have no copyright (ie. intellectual property is not viewed as property at all), then they cannot be compensated for creating that work. Therefore they need to do *other* kinds of work to be able to create. At a certain point, you're working (say) 14 hours a day making ends meet. You're not going to have time to work on that book you want to work on. After all, the moment it's done, everyone can take it from you. So is it worth completing it just for your own satisfaction? Or do you go to bed instead and get a good night's sleep?

    Simon
  • Maybe. But what inherent *right* do you have to make money selling cookies?

    What inherent *right* do you have to take my recipe?
  • "Take"? Who said anything about "taking"? Taking implies that I have it, and you don't. That's exactly what's not happening.

    My apologies. I was using "Take" in the sense of "Copy". As in "take a copy".

    What right do you have to *copy* my recipe then?

    Simon
  • Okay... let me reprise the thread, as it appears you've not read the rest.

    "Why are thoughts and ideas like physical property?

    If someone, however, uses your cookie receipe without your permission, nothing is actually "taken" -- and there's *more* cookies in the world."

    ---

    But then *they* can make cookies and sell them to people who would have been your customers. Then *they* will make some of the money *you* would have gotten selling them yourself. So you are effectively stealing money from them.

    ---

    Maybe. But what inherent *right* do you have to make money selling cookies?

    ---

    My point being: What right do you have to just take the recipe in the first place? He has no more 'right' to make money selling cookies than you do to take his recipe.

    We're not talking about a situation where goods were exchanged here. It's not a 'fair trade'. We're talking about a situation where intellectual property is not regarded as 'property'.

    I say again: what right do you have to take the recipe in the first place?

    Simon
  • "What inherent *right* do you have to take my recipe?"

    Inherently, once you show me the recipe, there is no law of physical nature that prevents me from reproducing the recipe to the letter and using to create cookies, even in competition with you. To assume that a government-granted monopoly system is "inherent" is begging the question.


    ... and also inherently, there is no law of physical nature that forces him to allow you take his recipe and do whatever you want with it. Rights have nothing to do with physical laws -- they're all constructs. To assume that you have the right to do whatever you want with anything just because nothing physical happens to another party is begging the question in itself. Rights, and laws, are manmade constructs. They don't have anything to do with whether something has physical consequences or not.

    They could pass a law that outlaws cloning tomorrow. It's physically possible. It doesn't affect the original DNA owner in any physical way - it's a copy, after all. If they passed that law would you still have the 'right' to perform cloning? No you would not. Would there be any law of nature preventing it? No there would not.

    QED

  • Except the law that if you do, you will go down there. Four major religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) have a religious law against taking of life but no law against sharing of information. (Besides, OJ was never found guilty of any homicide.)

    Thou shalt not steal would appear to cover 'sharing' of information. (Funny how people who want the information - which must have value to them - and don't want to pay for it call it 'sharing', and the people who have the information, and want them to pay for what they own which *has* value, call it stealing isn't it?)

    Oh, and by the way - religious dogma is not a 'physical' or 'natural' law. Physics runs on blind faith, which you would appear to have bought in bulk.

    Simon
  • by IIH ( 33751 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:47AM (#286125)
    Any 'intellectual property physical property' comparison is a troll.

    That's a bit of an overgeneralisation in my opinion. I think there are lots of common points between physical property and intellectual property. Obviously not in all cases, scarcity being one aspect.

    Here's a short extract of something I wrote recently, which compares IP and phyiscal property. Please read it all before you call this a troll too:

    Many people don't like the term "intelluctal property", because how can you "own" an idea, a thought, especially where your idea are often based on other peoples input which was freely given to society. While I personally hate the term for that reason too, I think it's interesting to note the parrallels between property owners in the past, and IP owners today. Historically, if you were a landowner, you had huge power over your tenents, only landowners had a vote, and if a disagreement was between a landowner and a non-landowner, the scales tilted heavily to the landowners side.

    Are we entering a similar era with intelluctal "property" where only the IP owners have power, laws are passed to heavily benefit only IP owners, and battles between IP owners and normal people are totally one sided? Look at all many of the company battles today are over IP, the company attacked can often only defend if they have an IP defence, so companys are arming themselves with "patent portfolios" - not for research purposes, but purely for attack and defence

    Is creativity now simply a unit of currency, something to be bought and sold, a weapon to be used for attack and defence, and managed so it increases the bottom line and benefit to society is only "allowed" if it adds to the renenue?

    Is that really what the meaning behind copyright law should be?

    Society's laws should benefit society, and if a law benefits a group of people, it should be as a means to that end, and not an end in itself.

    In the past property was power, even if the property type is different, has anything else changed?
    --
  • At all. This has been covered many times before. Both in print(Schneier's or Lessig's books, among others) and here at slashdot.
  • >Crime would greatly decrease

    There will always be crime. Always.

    And I'm not sure that you even want to have not have some sort of privacy. Imagine everything you do being public record.

    Imagine not being intimate with your wife?

    Imagine not being able to conduct business meetings/planning sessions?

    Imagine not being able to go off and talk about how you feel about a situation with a close friend.

  • > Would you have any chance at a run for President under those conditions? I know I wouldn't.

    No. But neither would anyone else - including the newsies reporting on the candidates' transgressions.

    I would find this system ("everyone can watch anyone else") infinitely preferable to the current one, in which only Big Brother (be he in the form of the Gummint or the Corporates) has access to the details of my life.

  • I know it can sometimes be hazardous to bring facts into this kind of argument, but here goes. You clearly have not read what RMS wrote in this article. In fact, since you write:
    Richard Stallman is a moron who has no concept of economics and how what he propses would never work in a capitalist society.
    I'm guessing that you haven't read any of his writing. But that's just a guess. On to some facts.

    You write: Eliminating copyright forces a political view on EVERYONE. Further it forces an incorrectly assumed point of view on EVERYONE.

    RMS writes: United States copyright law considers copyright a bargain between the public and "authors" (although in practice, usually publishers take over the authors' part of the bargain). The public trades certain freedoms in exchange for more published works to enjoy. Until the White Paper, our government had never proposed that the public should trade *all* of its freedom to use published works. Copyright involves giving up specific freedoms and retaining others. This means that there are many alternative bargains that the public could offer to publishers. So which bargain is the best one for the public? Which freedoms are worth while for the public to trade, and for what length of time? The answers depend on two things: how much additional publication the public will get for trading a given freedom, and how much the public benefits from keeping that freedom.

    RMS also writes: Copyright 1996 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and distribution are permitted in any medium provided this notice is preserved.

    I hope this clearly demonstrates that RMS believes in copyright and does not advocate eliminating it. In this respect you are correct: if we eliminated copyright, we would eviscerate the GPL. Luckily, he does not believe this, nor does any reasonable proponent of copyright reform. The key is to shift the balance out of the hands of the publisher/distributors and back towards the public/individuals.

  • I'm beginning to repeat myself myself on this topic, but I feel compelled to post this link to one of RMS' best written pieces on copyright: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/reevaluating-copyrig ht.html [gnu.org].

    I especially recommend it to those who only know RMS by reputation, and not from his actual writings. This one is particularly cogent, concise and undesrtandable. I consider it mandatory reading for any layperson interested in modern copyrigyt issues.

  • Companies live to make money. They want to maximize the channels through which they can make money.

    Can we blame corporate America for pushing the DMCA? Hell no.

    Should we be afraid of corporate power and try to stop it? Hell yes.

    The term 'soft money' comes to mind. Get a hold of your people in Washington. I like big business, but I like 'government for the people' not 'for those with deep pockets'.

    Rant is now over. :-)
  • Katz:

    The CDA was passed but it was later ruled as being unconstitutional.
  • Excellent introduction to RMS' writing style - who else could write four paragraphs to explain that not paying for some person's work does not cause a loss to this person ? If syllogism was an olympic sport RMS would be the Carl Lewis of modern times.

    But the most important thing is that almost all of RMS' (rare) points are based on a rather peculiar aspect of the US legal system: in this country, copyright and intellectual property are not regarded as inalienable, fundamental rights. IP is merely a tool, a strictly utilitarian clause in the legal system, a "thing" that can be bought, sold and disposed of at will and in its entirety.

    With such a conception of intellectual property, the corporatization of IP issues is hardly surprising. You reap what you sow.

    Thomas Miconi
  • by RWS1st ( 85634 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:33AM (#286143)
    "Corporate lobbyists made it a federal crime..."

    While corporate lobbyists influences the process, they are not the ones to primarly blame. The Congress passed these laws and the President signed them. The corporate lobbyists exist only because the government has the power and willingness to use it. If you want to limit the influece of corporate, or any other kind, of lobbyists then you need to limit the power of government. So long as the government spends trillions of dollars a year and can pass laws creating a wiping out industries you will have people trying to influce them. While one can look upon those lobbyists as being in bad taste, it is in the structure and power of the Government that is spoiled.

    other quotes expressing the same misplaced venum:

    "corporate lobbyists, panicked by file-sharing on the Net, succesfully manipulated Congress"

    "It is precisely this principle that corporate lobbyists destroyed when they got Congress to pass new kinds of copyright laws "

  • As corporate culture successively inhibits creation of new works around original ideas under their control, the work of the open source communities becomes richer both in comparison and in its synergism. Restricting the flow of ideas never really restricts ideas, it just moves them around, and eventually the less restricted, more freely evolving ground will outcompete the more restrictive.

    I like Linus' comment on the Microsoft anti-trust trial -- that antitrust just tries to eliminate some of the harm that a monopoly can exert on a market now. Monopolies are inherently unstable and will be outcompeted eventually as they become mired in their own hubris.

    Whether government or the people step in to help with this specific copyright problem or not, I'm quite optimistic about the long term future.

  • Apparently, so we are told, copyright is restricting the flow of information.

    Since when?

    Since it was intigated two centuries ago. If only the author has the right to distribute his work, then the flow of information is restricted. How can you say it is not?

    People seem to think that once I have created something, you have the right to do what the hell you like with it.

    Bull!

    But I don't, even under the original implementation of copyright, which is quite liberal compared to the DMCA. I can read your work as many times as I like, I can sell it or give my copy away. I cannot make a copy of it and distribute that copy.

    The DMCA tries to permit you to force me to pay you every time I re-read your novel, or listen again to a recording of your song, whether I bought that copy, or heard it on the radio, or encoded it to a conveniently portable format for my digital listening device.

    Is this what you're defending?

    Once I've created something, surely I am the only person who gets to decide what happens to it?

    No, you are not.

    You wouldn't say you have the right to do what you want with cookies I had baked,...

    Once you sell those cookies to me, they are no longer yours. I can do with them as I please.

    ...so why do you think that with my *intellectual* property?

    Who says I do? If I buy a copy of your novel, I can, in fact, do whatever I want with it, short of distributing a new copy of it. You should have no right to extract payment from me for each time I read it. The DMCA, however, gives you that right, even though it is practically unenforceable, as Napster has shown.

    Is this really what you are defending?


  • Brave vision, to the extreme.

    But you'll excuse me (and probably 98 % of the rest of Western civilization) if it takes us a little bit longer to rid ourselves of our quaint outdated cultural expectations of having a right to privacy for actions such as defecation or procreation.

    As regards the clampdown on information flow by the powers that be: we are merely returning to the larger norm that prevails in most societies and cultures, where disseminating information inimical to the interests of the powerful is guaranteed to be a risky business.

    History is full of many more examples of authoritarian regimes with a strong handle on the flow of information than of freak governments that give away the right to free speech to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

    It is only the conceit of the last few centuries in Western civilization with the advent of such curious mechanisms such as the First Amendment that justify the above outrage about the very recent degradation of rights in the digital era by the DMCA, UCITA or other blights.

    What's really hilarious, though, is that all this talk of copyrighted works blurs the distinction between worthwhile ideas (that, interestingly, are usually not copyrighted) and the omnipresent drivel of mass market entertainment (video, music) that typically is dispensed to addicts that, in the long run, are paying for this fix not only with their present day dollars, but also by sacrificing their minds, which are constantly becoming ever more conditioned to substituting instinctual emotion for rational thought on any issue that you care to name.

    In the larger picture, I think vested interests work the levers of emotional hooks installed in most of the population to much greater effect for their gain than, say, lawsuits against Napster, etc.

  • I believe this idea sounds good in theory, but it will never happen. Orwell's "1984" scenario where citizens have no privacy from an omnipresent government seems much more likely. Do you think wealthy corporations and government officials would be in favor of allowing CCTV cameras to video all aspects of their daily lives? I don't think so. And considering they would almost certainly be the ones to control these cameras (or at least influence those that control them), they would be able to do something about it. Meanwhile, all the average citizen will be able to do about it is complain about it.

    More transparency in politics would be a good thing. If people had known about the DMCA while Congress was considering it, there probably would have been much more vocal opposition to it. Instead, the sponsors of the bill worked to say as little as possible about the DMCA's consequences until after it was signed, sealed, and delivered. Even those who do follow politics had a hard time figuring out what the bill was about until after the fact. Katz claims that the passage of the DMCA came about as a result of the American public's apathy and ignorance while the bill was being considered. I do not believe it is reasonable for people to be upset over something they don't know is coming, especially when the government is doing its best to hide it behind a smokescreen until it is too late.

    However, I believe it is the government's job to understand the desires of its constituents and act accordingly. The point of having a republic as opposed to a democracy in the U.S. was to allow most people to deal with other things in life other than politics; only a relatively small number of people acting on behalf of the entire population would need to make politics a full-time occupation. Granted, people need to let their representatives know about their opinions to ensure they are voiced in Congress, but subjecting every American adult to the inner workings of politics would be unreasonable.

    Some time ago (possibly even from the very beginning), some in government decided that they would not serve in the best interests of their constituents; instead they should serve in their own best interests. The only way these people can hope to remain in power is to keep as many unethical dealings as possible behind closed doors and cover up the rest using aggressive PR campaigns, often paid for by money obtained by lobbyists. These politicians tend to take a "Screw you" attitude to the public. For instance, in 1997, 11 counties in southwest PA voted on whether to increase the sales tax by 1% in order to pay for new stadiums for football's Steelers and baseball's Pirates. It was soundly defeated by about a 60-40 margin. So did those in charge accept the public's opinion and not proceed with building the stadiums? They did not, and instead came up with a devious "Plan B" that many informed citizens still don't understand, marched it through the county and state legislatures and now Pittsburgh has two new taxpayer-funded stadiums that the public had already said it did not want. This is a failure of the republic at a local level; the DMCA is a failure at the federal level.

    Katz and others have said that we (the American public) should try to do something about this state of affairs. Unfortunately, a course of action at this point is not clear at all. Voting people out of office has a limited effect; I feel that the problem is with the system itself and not with those holding or seeking office. Everyone has a price, and corporations have the money to influence every representative regardless of whether they have a D or an R after their name on the ballot. Writing to Congress should be a viable solution; however there is evidence of some in Congress ignoring e-mail from their constituents as mentioned in a recent Slashdot article. If they ignore electronic communication, who's to say they are reading dead-tree correspondence either? Trying to get some sort of campaign finance legislation would be a good goal, but do you think Congress would pass something that severely limits its ability to raise funds for re-election? I don't think so. Getting a constitutional amendment passed through states calling for a constituitional convention is an extremely difficult task; I don't know if it has even been done before.

    Many people feel that making government more transparent would be a good thing for society in order to make it more accountable to the its citizens. However, making this happen is going to be very difficult. Anyone have any ideas as to how we can do this?
  • Now I can understand why they did it, and for new theatre releases they might have a good argument as to why they should be allowed to do it

    The "theatre release" based argument is based on the film companies finding it cheaper to release the films in the USA then, when the run is over, shipping the reels abroad to show there. This being cheaper than making reels for the whole world then trashing them in a couple of weeks.

    Now, the question is, should the full legislative force of a government, particularly a "people's government" be brought into play to restrict citizens rights to save corporations a bit of cash?

    And Sen. Kennedy had the cheek to ask Ashcroft if he thought we had a tyrranical government.

    Rich

  • I found this book a while ago... it discusses alot of things that the slashdot community believes in. It goes one step further than just bitching about the problems, it actually talks about strategies to make a change. The entire book is online and free...

    Below is the introduction to the chapter Against intellectual property:

    This should be a line of dashes to divide what I wrote from the quote. Lamness filter won't allow it though. Isn't it lame that the lameness filter is making this post more difficult to read?

    Brian Martin presents the case against intellectual property, approaching the issue from a different background to most of us in the free software movement. (You'll note that Martin confuses "freeware", "free software", and "public domain", but that's my fault, since I should have picked this up in my proofreading.)

    This [danny.oz.au] is chapter three of Brian Martin's book Information Liberation, which is now online in its entirety. [uow.edu.au] (Other chapters cover defamation, privacy, whistleblowing, and more.)

    Against intellectual property

    There is a strong case for opposing intellectual property. Among other things, it often retards innovation and exploits Third World peoples. Most of the usual arguments for intellectual property do not hold up under scrutiny. In particular, the metaphor of the marketplace of ideas provides no justification for ownership of ideas. The alternative to intellectual property is that intellectual products not be owned, as in the case of everyday language. Strategies against intellectual property include civil disobedience, promotion of non-owned information, and fostering of a more cooperative society.

  • How do you propose to compensate companies that develop new drug formulas and such.

    By giving them a government-granted monopoly that lasts just long enough to compensate the company for the money spent on R&D. This works in the domain of drug patents, but it's falling apart in the domain of copyrights, which last 96 years (or life + 71) thanks to the Walt Disney Company, which every 20 years lobbies for another retroactive 20-year extension to copyright terms. It completely goes against the spirit of the "for limited times" language [pineight.com] that the Framers wrote into the Constitution.

  • What inherent *right* do you have to take my recipe?

    Inherently, once you show me the recipe, there is no law of physical nature that prevents me from reproducing the recipe to the letter and using to create cookies, even in competition with you. To assume that a government-granted monopoly system is "inherent" is begging the question.

  • Well, there is no law of physical nature that then prevents them from sneaking up behind you and OJ'ing your neck.

    Except the law that if you do, you will go down there [hell.com]. Four major religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) have a religious law against taking of life but no law against sharing of information. (Besides, OJ was never found guilty of any homicide.)

    It's called civilization, folks. You set up rules that people can agree on. Hopefully they are logical rules, which is to say, things similar to the Golden Rule and Your Rights End Where My Nose Begins.

    Except my village is several kilometers away from your nose. You aren't harmed in any way when I copy your cookie recipe unless you accept copyright. I'm not taking anything from you unless you accept copyright, as you still have the cookie recipe. Try reasoning your argument for perpetual copyright from a standpoint that doesn't assume copyright as one of its premises.

    Anti-IP whines are nothing more than bleats about not being allowed by Daddy to copy others' months or even years of hard work with no consequences.

    How much did you copy to create that very sentence? Every single word has appeared in another published work. It's a good thing the English language itself is largely unencumbered by government-granted monopolies; otherwise, the owner of the English language would have us all in debtors' prison.

    If you don't want me to copy your recipe, don't show it to me. Copyright was designed to be a bargain that promotes the progress of science and the useful arts by saying, in effect: "To compensate you for creating this, you get a monopoly for x years; after that, anybody can copy it." This article is about the fact that corporations managed to bribe Congress into laws that keep the "anybody can copy it" from happening within a natural person's lifetime. And we can do little or nothing about bribery without lots of money to out-lobby the lobbyists; everybody has a price.

  • The arguments that 7days makes come up frequently, so I will address them in general.
    What crap. People seem to think that once I have created something, you have the right to do what the hell you like with it.

    Be able to do "what the hell you like with it" is obviously overbroad. What is in dispute, however, is:
    1)the right to make copies for fair-use purposes including backup, transportation, and consumption, but not for the purposes of sale or exchange
    2)the right to fair quote passages in research and criticism
    3)the right to sell an originally purchased copy, provided it is sold in whole and no duplication of it has occured prior
    4)the right to act as a carrier for content which you do not regulate
    5)the to the use of ideas in research and science
    6)the right to possess tools which facilitate the exercising of these rights, in cases where such tools could also be used to do things that are not protected by fair use.

    Of these, in particular (1), (4), and (6) have come directly under attack, and as a consequence of this, technical means are being removed to exercise the others. I will adress the concerns regarding these three directly.

    Now, as far as what constitutes a "right", I am going to take the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights [un.org] as an authorative source. The most relevant passages are quoted below.

    Article 19.
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Article 27.
    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

    Article 28.
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

    Article 27(2) is the only thing in the U.N. Declaration which grants authors control over their work. Now, right #1 stated above is protected by Article 27(1). Right 6, established in the oft-quoted Betamax case, would seem to be protected by article 28, because without it other rights could not be realized. Right 4 is similar, and falls under the same protection.

    Once I've created something, surely I am the only person who gets to decide what happens to it? You wouldn't say you have the right to do what you want with cookies I had baked, so why do you think that with my *intellectual* property?

    There's a crucial difference. Your *intellectual* property is things that you have made public (since we are not talking about trade secrets here), so a better analogy would be, we have the right to do what we want with cookies *you have sold*, including figuring out the recipe (reverse-engineering), and reselling. Your other examples (locks and gaurds) are similarly flawed.
    ------------------
    A picture is worth 500 DWORDS.
  • by jedwards ( 135260 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:34AM (#286165) Homepage Journal
    Her book is not available for download on her homepage [wayne.edu]
    http://www.law.wayne.edu/litman/
  • The concept of what is a right and what is not would surely change, but I think that an Open Source society would be far more pleasant to live in that early 21st century America.
    Whether you think rights come from God, from nature, or whatever, a thing is either a right or it is not. Rights exist; they are not invented.

    Rights derive from a moral code. You having a right is equivalent to everyone else being morally obligated not to infringe on that right.

    There is either zero or one complete, correct moral codes. If you and I disagree about a moral question, then either one or both of us is wrong, or else there is no such thing as a correct moral position. If there is no such thing as a correct moral position, then every action is as good as any other.

    So take your choice. You can acknowledge the pre-existence of rights, and then argue about which things are rights and which things are not. Or you can give up the idea of rights altogether and just accept whatever society does, with no chance to challenge it on moral grounds. In that case, you also give up the chance to condemn a mass murderer on any other grounds than your own personal preferences, which without a moral code are no better than his.

  • My point is that there is exactly one (at most) correct moral code. If we change the moral code we accept, then we are hopefully correcting our past mistakes.

    We should never be so arrogant as to assume the moral code we accept is complete or correct. But if we do not assume the existence of an absolute moral code, the the whole word "moral" loses all real power. To beat a dead horse, if there is no absolute moral code, then our accepted moral code is purely a matter of personal preference!

    Some of your examples illustrate my point perfectly:

    The right not to be tortured by police existed before some podunk UN declaration recognized it.

    There never was a right to own slaves in the USA. Anyone who claimed there was such a right was morally incorrect. Full stop.

    Challenging accepted standards may lead us to better moral understanding and moral practice, but it never changes the underlying rightness or wrongness of actions.

  • Fine and good.

    But what happens when a society with no absolute moral compass "feels" it is ethical to create a law to punish you for being liberal, conservative, grouchy, giggly, whatever?

  • Actually, in a previous post, I admit that there might be zero absolute moral codes. And it is true that I find that prospect very ugly, even frightening.

    You are correct that I have not (in this thread at least) made any real argument that their is any such thing as a moral code. I only said that there is either zero or one of those beasts, and no other number. That is the claim on which I was trying to hang my conclusion.

    A poster from the far-flung past of this thread spoke of society changing its comcept of what is and what is not a right. My point is that if a society can redefine what is and is not a right, then it doesn't make sense to speak of rights at all. Rather, they are something else: societal conveniences or whatever you want to call them.

    I think I might bullet my argument more like this:

    • If rights can be redefined at will, then there is no absolute morality, or even any meaningful morality at all.
    • The word "right," in this context, only makes sense with respect to morality.
    • Hence: If society can redefine rights, then the word itself loses its meaning.

    I see another post from you now that shows I have perhaps carelessly assumed some word definitions. I'll answer further there.

  • This sentence is either false as a matter of fact or true by virtue of using words outside their dictionary meaning. There was such a right and this is a historical fact easily born by ample evidence. Some people, even then, thought that this right was wrong. But the right existed.
    Ah, there is the rub, I think. I have carelessly been unclear in my usage of the word "right." Here are the relevant entries from www.merriamwebster.com:
    right
    Function: noun
    2 : something to which one has a just claim
    3 : something that one may properly claim as due
    Yes, there was once a legal right to own slaves under US law, but that law was not just, proper, or moral. Your very phrase "thought that this right was wrong" illustrates my whole point better than I have in several posts! If the right was wrong, then it was never a right in the first place.

    You go on...

    That underlying rightness has no presence in the mind of mortals. It functions in your theory as metaphysical scaffold, but it doesn't do any good because you cannot appeal to it. It just makes us feel good about ourselves. Our eternal rights are just rights that we cannot imagine living in a world without them. It is somewhat hubristic to believe that the moral foundation of the universe is defined by the limits of our imagination.
    You are losing me a bit here. Why can I not appeal to an underlying rightness? Why can I not first argue that such a rightness exists, and then argue that certain things are right, and certain things wrong?

    By the way, I am not arrogant enough to think that our imaginations can encompass all of an absolute morality. But if such a morality exists, then I am obligated to follow it as best as I can discern it as a finite being. If it doesn't, then the universe does not have the moral foundation you speak of above.

  • Well, after we have circled each other a few times, I think we are at least understanding each other. Your last post clarified things for me quite a bit.

    Again, I do think there is an absolute morality, but acknowledge not having a knockdown convincing argument that would appeal to a wide audience. But here is how I would respond to some of your objections...

    However you seem ( to me ) to have argued that you can argue that an action is wrong in an absolute sense even while there is no justifiable argument available for a particular actor in a particular culture/period. In other words, you seemed ( to me) to accept that different cultures can have completely coherent views about right and wrong that differ from the true absolute morality. That is a position that I find impossible. I.e. absolute morality must always be potentially available to any rational/moral being.
    To reason logically about an absolute morality, one must make some assumptions about it. For example, even most theists and atheists agree to place some intrinsic value on human beings. I am not sure what all the base values the "absolute morality" are, but if it exists, then they do also. This is troubling, because if we make the wrong assumptions about morality, then we will make wrong moral judgments. But anyway, let's leave that problem for the moment, so I can make my point. ;-)

    My point is that cultures that have had views contrary to absolute morality either have had faulty reasoning, have had assumptions that disagreed with absolute morality, or maybe just didn't give a sh*t whether they were really being moral.

    Take slavery in the US. Several of the Founding Fathers were troubled by the practice, even while owning slaves. The wrongness of slavery was available to them. On the other hand, folks who sincerely argued the rightness of slavery mostly seemed to operate by denying the basic humanness of black people. I'm sorry, but I can't excuse that in any culture. Some people figured it out...they all could have.

    Otherwise, one may indeed suspect that there exist concepts of absolute right and wrong that we, in our current state, cannot in principle comprehend. If that is so, then, and only then, we are faced with absolute morality as a metaphysical concept that does not help us in making moral choice. And a morality that cannot help us make moral choices is an oxymoron. I think your reference to our finite being suggests the scope of our disagreement. Our finitude may explain why at a particular moment we lack moral clarity. But I think the concept of morality forbids that a whole culture should fail in the same way.
    We may not be able to comprehend all of an absolute morality, but that does not keep the parts of it we do understand from helping us make moral choices. Our personal moral codes (not to go all Platonic on you) should be the best reflection of the absolute moral code that we can manage. We will fail sometimes as finite beings, but the absolute moral code still is useful.

    I have no problem imagining a whole culture failing a moral test. If a single finite individual can lack moral clarity, then why can a bunch of finite individuals (a culture) not fail a moral test? The US did it. Slavery is wrong today, and slavery was wrong then.

    Realizing the vast difference of actual moral arguments across time and culture I am led to believe that absolute moral principles are either non existent or extremely thin and abstract. I am uncomfortable with complete moral relativism, but the problem stated above makes me insist that any non-relativist theory of ethics must be such that what it entails should be available to any human intellect at any moment in principle. That is a high standard which most theories that pertain to absoluteness fail.
    Oddly enough, I think the absolute moral code is relativistic, but not in the sense normally meant by the word in this context. The (complete) absolute moral code must provide moral guidance in every situation; that is, it must consider every detail of the situation an actor might find himself in. It is relative to the culture in the sense that it considers the culture as part of the situation of the actor, but not in the sense that it is defined in terms of the claims of the culture.

    This might mean that some acts might be right in one situation and wrong in others. I claim it is sometimes wrong to shoot a person, and sometimes right. I'll leave it to the interested reader to work out which is which. (Hint: Think defense of innocents.)

    Again, I claim that even if the absolute moral code is only partially available to human intellect, it is useful as a standard. What relativism allows a culture to do is choose its own moral assumptions arbitrarily, and hence set is moral code to anything whatsoever. Maybe that is correct; I know I haven't proven otherwise. But I hope it is not.

  • Definition 3 was out of line. But how about this one for "just," again from MR:
    2. Consistent with what is morally right; righteous: a just cause.
    I have been trying to make the distinction between a moral right and a legal right. Are you claiming that the the word "right" is improperly used in that context? If so, do you understand what I am (apparently) miscommunicating when I talk about this kind of right? If so, in your wisdom could you give me a better word or phrase to use?

    Thanks for your oh-so-appreciated instruction.

  • I am glad to provide you amusement.

    I am aware that my assertion rests on the assumption that there is an absolute right and wrong. I am aware that there is an opposing, relativistic view. I am aware that I have not proven my side. Maybe the relativistic view is true. So sue me.

    Of course, even if I am correct, and rights are absolute, one must still assert and defend them, if one expects to exercise them.

  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:45AM (#286176) Homepage
    Embrace, extend, destroy. Corporations have saturated most of the ways they can make money, especially the largest ones that have utterly saturated their audience. Sales are flatening, profits flat or decreasing. What is the next logical thing to do?

    Make people pay for EACH use of their product. The more dependant the person is upon the product, the better off this stratigy works. Instead of claiming 'fair use' which SHOULD be an exception to any copyright law, try explaining in terms of "you mean if a person in the hospital requires dialisys, not only do they have to pay for the use of the machine which must be maintained, the electricity, which is used each time, but also the SOFTWARE TO RUN IT, which is static and does not diminish with use. Plus, you are mandating that the software company can shut off the software at any time without prior warning, even if this is a life support machine. Is this fair?" and see how willing the legislator is to pass that particular law.

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • Yeah. Being constantly watched makes life better and makes us more tolerant of differences. This argument was powerfully and effectively rebutted in George Orwell's 1984. Which means you're more than half a century too late.

    This has been posted several times in different forms, and is a bad interpretation of Orwell's book. Perhaps if we all had a little less privacy, this concept of shame, that actions disapproved of by segments of society and must be hidden, would be changed for the better.

    Consider the omnipresent screens in 1984. One looked into Winston Smith's room, positioned so that almost nothing could escape its view. It was a reminder that Smith was being watched by a nameless, faceless entity. Smith could not use the screen to look out into the world, it was solely a spying device. Because the government was spying on Smith, but Smith could not look back at the gov't (indeed, he had no access to any true information at all about his government), it expressed a power relation between Smith and his government.

    The relation of course, was that the government held total power over Smith's life. This is the theme, the argument if you will, of 1984. It imagines a future in which the government has total control over its citizens, with unsettling results. It has little to do with privacy and everything to do with power.

    I don't agree with the "Open Society" people, but I do think that it is an interesting idea, and a starting point for considering our notions of privacy.


    --

  • If you buy a book, or even borrow one, you can read it as many times as you like. You can lend it or rent it to a friend, sell it or give it away. You can't legally make copies of it, but you can use it as many times as you want.

    Very true. But the difference between physical media (like books) and digital media (like MP3s) is that when people "share" their music, or whatever, they *are* making a copy.

    I do not support the DMCA, but this argument is still flawed. Katz seems to be saying that digital media should be as uncontrolled as physical media by his analogy. There is an inherent deterrant in making copies of books, and that is time and money. But copying digital files and sending those copies to your friends or anyone else is nearly effortless. We cannot oppose the DMCA only on the grounds that there is no fundamental difference between physical and digital media.

    -----
  • by issachar ( 170323 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @08:35AM (#286186) Homepage
    Once I've created something, surely I am the only person who gets to decide what happens to it?

    Yes you are, but for a limited amount of time. After that, material passes into the public domain. The problem with things like the DMCA and CSS is that they effectively extend the copyright on the material on a DVD indefinately.

    It doens't ever become okay to break the so called copy protection (i.e. access control) on a DVD and copy the work, so the work effectively never enters the public domain.

    Another problem with the control system on DVD's is the region coding. That system is in place to prevent the transfer of a material that has already been paid for. It would be akin to placing some kind of protection on a book published in the USA that made the ink go invisible when you took it overseas.

    Now I can understand why they did it, and for new theatre releases they might have a good argument as to why they should be allowed to do it, but they effectively destroyed their own legitimacy when they kept the region coding even for re-releases of old films.

    The problem is not that content producers tried to protect their copyrights, the problem is that they made a quick grab to extend them at the expense of the public.

  • Do we really want someone to fix all of our problems for us, or should we take a stand and work hard to improve our own life? The school violence, the gun control debate, the drugs everywhere, and all the other ills of society could greatly be reduced when we realize that most of those ills come about because everyone wants to be lazy and 'let others take care of it' instead of us taking our individual lives into our own hands and working hard to improve whatever situation we have been given.

    Dear Caveman,

    If you ever go out of your cave, ( with proper eyewear protection) you might notice that Americans are working harder and longer today than at any other moment in history. Americans work harder and longer than any other industrial nation. They are still less productive than many European workers because of the abysmal American "education" system, but they work harder and longer. In fact, a research pointing out that Americans suffer from extremely high levels ( for a population) of sleep deprivation has just been released. Say "An american refrigerator" in Europe and they understand you want a really big refrigerator. Say "American vacation" and they laugh.

    Americans don't need to work harder. They need a break. They need a good night sleep, an extra hour for a familly dinner. They need to stress a little less about whether they can afford to pay emergency medical bills. An extra two hours a day and a longer vacation will do wonders to such problems as school shooting, drugs, gun, etc.

    All these things have been achieved by other nations, which proves that they are not unacheivable.

    Exhorting Americans to work harder is a trully cheap shot at the expense of this overworked nation. It would be better to figure out who takes home the fruits of all this excessive labor.

  • As best I can remember Guttenberg's press went belly up and he died broke. His books where too upscale and expensive to produce, but unfortunatly, the renaissance upscale crowd still prefered lavished manuscripts. Guttenberg's succesful emulators chose the opposite business model. They focused on producing cheap bibles, which they pre-sold un bulk to monasteries and other religious institutions ( the renaissance's corporate Behemoths). And that is how the print revolution took off.

  • Your suspicion is wishful thinking and based on wrong numbers. I filled taxes last month and payed about 23% of my income in taxes. I am in the top 10% income bracket, and the government is happily using your taxes to subsidize my mortgage. Now, go eat cakes, while I wait for the tax cut that will make me slightly richer at everyone's expenses.

    German government is much heavier that the US government. Taxes are much higher in Germany, and German workers are also more productive that American workers. So your theory is already bunk.

  • There never was a right to own slaves in the USA. Anyone who claimed there was such a right was morally incorrect. Full stop.

    This sentence is either false as a matter of fact or true by virtue of using words outside their dictionary meaning. There was such a right and this is a historical fact easily born by ample evidence. Some people, even then, thought that this right was wrong. But the right existed.

    Challenging accepted standards may lead us to better moral understanding and moral practice, but it never changes the underlying rightness or wrongness of actions.

    That underlying rightness has no presence in the mind of mortals. It functions in your theory as metaphysical scaffold, but it doesn't do any good because you cannot appeal to it. It just makes us feel good about ourselves. Our eternal rights are just rights that we cannot imagine living in a world without them. It is somewhat hubristic to believe that the moral foundation of the universe is defined by the limits of our imagination.

  • ...if there is no absolute moral code, then our accepted moral code is purely a matter of personal preference!

    Let me beat the dead horse once more. Your argument is:

    • if ( ! exists( absolute_moral_code ) ) morality == prefernce
    • I_want_to_argue( morality != prefernce)
    • Hence: exists( absolute_moral_code)

    How about this: If there are no $1M in my account I cannot buy a condo in Florida. It is absolutely terrifying to think that I cannot buy a condo in Florida. Therefore, there are $1M in my account.

    How can your preference determine reality? Just because the non-existence of an absolute moral code frustrates your desire to be able to make a certain kind of argument cannot possibly be a proof of its existence. Your problem is the fear of equality between preference and morality, and your solution is to assume that your own preference about what kind of moral arguments are available is real. It seems to me (Ocham's razor) that to assume existence of something requires a higher burden of proof than to assume non-existence. So you still have a mile to go.

  • Sorry for typing too fast ;-)

    Of course you can argue in favor of absolute morality. I did not mean to suggest that you cannot. However you seem ( to me ) to have argued that you can argue that an action is wrong in an absolute sense even while there is no justifiable argument available for a particular actor in a particular culture/period. In other words, you seemed ( to me) to accept that different cultures can have completely coherent views about right and wrong that differ from the true absolute morality. That is a position that I find impossible. I.e. absolute morality must always be potentially available to any rational/moral being.

    Otherwise, one may indeed suspect that there exist concepts of absolute right and wrong that we, in our current state, cannot in principle comprehend. If that is so, then, and only then, we are faced with absolute morality as a metaphysical concept that does not help us in making moral choice. And a morality that cannot help us make moral choices is an oxymoron. I think your reference to our finite being suggests the scope of our disagreement. Our finitude may explain why at a particular moment we lack moral clarity. But I think the concept of morality forbids that a whole culture should fail in the same way.

    Realizing the vast difference of actual moral arguments across time and culture I am led to believe that absolute moral principles are either non existent or extremely thin and abstract. I am uncomfortable with complete moral relativism, but the problem stated above makes me insist that any non-relativist theory of ethics must be such that what it entails should be available to any human intellect at any moment in principle. That is a high standard which most theories that pertain to absoluteness fail.

    Hopes this clarify what I meant. And that it makes sense ;-)

  • by metis ( 181789 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:15AM (#286197) Homepage

    Let me check about some eternal rights

    • Right to jury trial -- magna carta
    • right to speak freely -- 18th century enligntetment
    • right to a day of rest -- Old Testament
    • right to marry your same sex partner -- 20 century, Denmark, Netherland
    • right not no be tortured by police -- U.N. declaration
    • right to have an abortion in the USA -- Row vs. Wade
    • right to own slaves in the USA -- 1776-1866
    • right to receive education - the constitution of South Africa and Cuba.

      You can always challenge a moral code from within because broadly accepted moral codes are almost always self-contradictory. Therefore you don't need an absolute moral code as an archimedean point. Almost all succesfull challenges start with an accepted premise and lead to a condemnantion of an accepted pactice. Other challenges work through changing the definition of a term, usually as a result of socio-economic change ( are blacks human, and therefore within the scope of human rights? Should basic human rights apply to pets, video-games? )

  • The following is adapted from a brief piece that appeared elsewhere on the web last year. Both the adaptation and its appearance here are by permission of the original author.

    -------
    Any attempt to sever the notions of "public interest" or "progress of science" from the public domain in expression is an obscene mutilation of the U.S. copyright tradition. According to the framers and the Supreme Court, the only reason the copyright monopoly is to be endured even for a limited time is because the public domain will be larger afterward than otherwise.

    In the context of patent law, the Supreme Court early identified the public interest with what is now called the public domain:

    There is much reason for [the requirement of novelty] thus imposed by the act. While one great object was, by holding out a reasonable reward to inventors and giving them an exclusive right to their inventions for a limited period, to stimulate the efforts of genius; the main object was "to promote the progress of science and useful arts;" and this could be done best, by giving the public at large a right to make, construct, use, and vend the thing invented, at as early a period as possible; having a due regard to the rights of the inventor. If an inventor should be permitted to hold back from the knowledge of the public the secrets of his invention; if he should for a long period of years retain the monopoly, and make, and sell his invention publicly, and thus gather the whole profits of it, relying on his superior skill and knowledge of the structure; and then, and then only, when the danger of competition should force him to secure the exclusive right, he should be allowed to take out a patent, and thus exclude the public from any farthur use than what should be derived under it during his fourteen years; it would materially retard the progress of science and the useful arts, and give a premium to those who should be least prompt to communitcate their discoveries.

    --Pennock and Sellers v. Dialogue, 27 U.S. 11 (1829), at 18, (Story, J.)

    Mr. Justice Story means, in this particular case, that (under the law at the time) an inventor who used his invention in commerce could not rely on the invention's trade-secret status to extend his monopoly, taking out a patent only when a competitor was close to reverse-engineering his discovery. An invention in public use must be either protected by patent or in the public domain. His underlying point, however, relies on the Constitution: that the public interest is in placing the monopolized item in the public domain "at as early a period as possible". "Due regard" for the rights of the inventor does not mean allowing him as long a monopoly as he can contrive to get.

    Some more recent Supreme Court cases have been equally explicit in equating the public interest with the public domain. Foremost among these is Sony v. Universal City Studios:

    The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired.

    --Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, at 429 (Stevens, J.)

    Note that the monopolies have two purposes: (1) "to motivate" authors and inventors; and (2) "to allow the public... access... after the limited period of exclusive control has expired." (Emphasis added). In other words, the purposes of the monopolies are: (1) to encourage authors to (2) enlarge the public domain. Furthermore, purpose (2) must always have precedence over purpose (1). If a monopoly is "primarily designed to provide a special private benefit", then Congress may not authorize it.

    The court elaborated on purpose (2) in the patent-law case of Scott Paper v. Marcalus:

    The
    aim of the patent laws is not only that members of the public shall be free to manufacture the product or employ the process disclosed by the expired patent, but also that the consuming public at large shall receive the benefits of the unrestricted exploitation, by others, of its disclosures....The public has invested in such free use by the grant of a monopoly to the patentee for a limited time.
    --Scott Paper Co. v. Marcalus Mfg. Co., Inc., 67 USPQ 193, at 196 (Stone, J.) (Emphasis added.)

    It is important to realize that the phrase "public domain" came fairly late into the Supreme Court's copyright-related language. But the continuity of thought from Pennock v. Dialogue to Sony shows that when the Court spoke of "public interest", "public benefit", and "public good" it meant implicitly to include what we now call the public domain. Supreme Court opinions must be read in the light of the teachings of such cases as Pennock v. Dialogue and Sony , even when the words "public domain" or "publici juris" do not occur.

    For example, the following statement makes no explicit reference to the public domain or to the expiration of copyright or patent:

    The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors. A copyright, like a patent, is "at once the equivalent given by the public for benefits bestowed by the genius and meditations and skill of individuals and the incentive to further efforts for the same important objects".

    --Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal 286 U.S. 123 (1931), at 127 (Hughes, C.J., citing Kendall v. Winsor, 62 U.S. 322, at 328, and Grant v. Raymond, 31 U.S. 218 (1832))

    That the "benefits derived by the public" mentioned in this statement are nevertheless inseparable from what is now called the public domain can be seen by examining the cited case of Grant v. Raymond:

    The settled purpose of the United States has ever been...to confer on the authors of useful inventions an exclusive right in their inventions for the time mentioned in their patent. It is the reward stipulated for the advantages derived by the public for the exertions of the individual, and is intended as a stimulus to those exertions...The laws which are passed to give effect to this purpose ought...to be construed in the spirit in which they have been made...[If this is done,] the public yields nothing which it has not agreed to yield; it recieves all which it has contracted to receive. The full benefit of the discovery, after its enjoyment by the discoverer for fourteen years, is preserved....The great object and intention of the act is to secure to the public the advanteges to be derived from the discoveries of individuals, and the means it employs are the compensation made to those individuals for the time and labour devoted to these discoveries.

    --Joseph Grant and others v. E. and H. Raymond, 31 U.S. 218 (1832), at 241. (Marshall, C.J.)

    Here the "full benefit of the discovery" is something which the public "recieves after its enjoyment by the discoverer for fourteen years." (Emphasis added.) In other words, the "full benefit" is the addition of the invention to the public domain.

    Consideration of this opinion leads to another observation: In characterising the patent as an agreement or transaction between the inventor and the public, Mr. Chief Justice Marshall's immediate concern in Grant v. Raymond was that the public should act in good faith, and not deprive the patentee of the patent prior to the expiration of the agreed term due to over-insistence on technicalities. But the argument cuts just as well the other way: the monopolist should act in good faith and yield "the full benefit of the discovery" after enjoying it for the agreed time.

    The "public benefits" from patents are also implicitly identified with the public domain in Mr. Justice Black's dissent in Williams v. Shoe Machine Corp.:

    As I view this patent its total impact is apalling. Out of its great bulk, the respondent is able to assert only three simple improvements embraced in five claims...Yet by its terms the patent as a whole purports to appropriate for exclusive use, not merely these improvements, but a major instrument of production in its entirety. Furthermore, this patent is one of a group which seems to have an interminable caacity for self-perpetuation. If judicial approval is to be given to patents of this kind, the
    public benefits which might reasonably be hoped for under the constitutional provisions and the federal statutes relating to patents can never be attained.
    --Williams Manufacturing Co. v. United Shoe Machinery Corp., 316 U.S. 364 (1941), at 393, (Black, J., dissenting.) (Emphasis added.)

    Abstracting Mr. Justice Black's underlying presuppositions from the immediate context, one finds that the mere availability, under license from the monopolist, of the monopolized item is not identified with the "public benefits which might reasonably be hoped for under the constitutional provisions." Only when the patent expires are these "public benefits" obtained.

    In fact, the equivalence of the public domain with the public purpose to be served by patents and copyrights is implicit even in statements which do not use such words as "public interest" or "public benefit". For example:

    The process of development in manufactures creates a constant demand for new applicances, which the skill of ordinary head-workment and engineers is generally adequate to devise, and which, indeed, are the natural and proper outgrowth of such development. Each step forward prepares the way for the next, and each is usually taken by spontaneous trials and attempts in a hundred different places. To grant a single party a monopoly of every slight advance made, except where the exercise of invention somewhat above ordinary mechanical or engineering skill is distinctly shown, is unjust in principle and injurious in its consequences.


    The design of the patent laws is to reward those who make some substantial discovery or invention, which adds to our knowledge and makes a step in advance in the useful arts. Such inventors are worthy of all favor. It was never the object of those laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures. Such an indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct than to stimulate invention.
    --Atlantic Works v. Brady, 2 Sup. Ct. Reporter 225 (1883), at 231 (Bradley, J.)

    Here the context is the standard of patentability, not the duration of the monopoly. But here as in other cases, the Court's underlying presuppositions have implications for the duration of patents and copyrights. The statement that "each step forward prepares the way for the next, and each is usually taken by spontaneous trials and attempts in a hundred different places" presupposes a rich public domain from which inventors draw. That patents are granted to "substantial" inventions which add to "our" knowledge (not just to the monopolist's knowledge) presupposes that all inventions must return to the public domain from which their inventors drew in inventing them, and that the purpose of the monopoly grants is to encourage inventors to make such "substantial" discoveries in order that the public domain will be enriched.


  • Apparently, so we are told, copyright is restricting the flow of information.

    Since when? Surely you wouldn't say locks prevent the free exchange of stuff from shops? Or that guards prevent the free exchange of gold bullion from banks?

    What crap. People seem to think that once I have created something, you have the right to do what the hell you like with it.

    Bull!

    Once I've created something, surely I am the only person who gets to decide what happens to it? You wouldn't say you have the right to do what you want with cookies I had baked, so why do you think that with my *intellectual* property?

    There is no difference at all. If you don't want to use the property *I* created on *my* terms, don't use it at all. Ok? This stuff about copyright law preventing free exchange of information is nonsense.
  • 3) Sensing that the publishing industry is no longer bound to the traditional obligations of the copyright social contract, the public abandons their half of the social contract. Copyright violation becomes like drinking during prohibition -- just another bad law waiting to be struck off the books.

    Well, I've already abandoned it. Who here hasn't?

  • Although Patents existed at the time of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the moveable type printing press (patents were assigned by local King, Duke or equivalent bigwig), and although his friends and associates urged him to patent his invention, Gutenberg consciously chose not to do so, since he wanted it to be used "for the good of all mankind" (and, since it was the middle ages "for the greater Glory of God(TM) ). Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
  • "There is no difference at all. If you don't want to use the property *I* created on *my* terms, don't use it at all. Ok? This stuff about copyright law preventing free exchange of information is nonsense. "

    Perhaps if you actually read the article carefully? Or perhaps you are trolling?

    The key point is fairly simple. Copyright was put in position to protect the rights of those who produce intellectual property. Like myself for instance.

    The problem is that most intellectual property is now held by a few enormous corporations, and changes in the copyright law support only these corporations. Something like the internet has the possibility of changing that of course. The music companies for instance hold onto their position because they control the means of distribution of music, which are CD's and previous records. The internet could reduce these distribution costs towards a marginal cost of zero. Bang goes the recording industry. Musicians could distribute their own work freely.

    Now of course these companies are aware of this possibility. They would not be the first industry to be destroyed by technology. The DCMA is one example of them fighting back against this.

    Where do the artists and IP producers come into this situation? Well at the moment we are screwed over anyway. I have no control over the IP I produce (or at least the IP I produce for a job). Indeed changes in the law in the last decade mean that I can not even work in my spare time and own the IP.

    In other words once I have created something I have no part in the decision about what happens to it. This is the situation that copyright, and other IP law has got us into.

    Now of course things like napster don't help out artists either. What napster does however is force us to re-evaluate the justification and end results of IP law. The DCMA is it actually pretty draconian, which is what you would expect to happen at first. The thing is with these draconian laws though is that sooner or later they get broken, when they piss enough people off. If artists help to embrace this change then its possible that they may be able to benefit from this change. If they condemn it, or ignore it, then they will probably remain as screwed over as they are now.

    Phil

  • "If authors have no copyright (ie. intellectual property is not viewed as property at all), then they cannot be compensated for creating that work"

    Yes they can. I have no copyright on the work that I do, and yet I am compenstated for it. Copyright is very little protection for authors and the creators of work. Mostly these days the IP laws are used as a stick to beat these people over the head with.

    "At a certain point, you're working (say) 14 hours a day making ends meet. "

    Then perhaps you should be asking questions about your society. In the last 100 years our production output has increased enourmously. We could easily produce enough to feed, cloth, and house ourselves. And yet we are working longer and longer hours, and many of us are, as you say working 14 hours a day to make ends meet. How has that come about I ask myself?

    Phil

  • by bitva ( 206067 )
    my attentions span wouldn't let me read the whole thing.

    i'm sure it was good though.

  • Brin.

    But what makes you think it has to be a 'permit' thing? Can't speak for the rest of the world, but even though politicians and the press tend to shape debates here in the US, public willpower is still an awesome force to contend with. If ever such a meme picked up enough steam in the general public (and how could it not? If it were so obvious that the politicians could see everything about Joe Average's life, what are the odds that Joe Average wouldn't want, and demand, the same sort of access to politician's lives?) you'd see it happening pretty quick. Not necessarily for the "right" reasons but just because the average American gets wicked pissed off when they see someone else who's allowed to do something they're not.
  • Well, 1) votes, and they vote for 2), in much greater numbers than the 3) Grassroots activists do. If 3) voted in numbers greater than 1) then you'd see 2) taking some notice, even though it might hurt their bottom line a little bit short term. Otherwise, they wouldn't have any long-term to take advantage of.

    Grass roots activism is a great catch-phrase that no one actually seems to understand. You can't simply equate it with the popular will on a given matter--there are grass roots movements fighting for and against abortion, for example. Just because a particular grass-roots campaign fails doesn't mean that the will of the people has somehow been quashed by the mighty. And the attitude that most people hold toward Social Security is pretty laid back; it's not that much of your check, and hey, someone should support those geezers so they don't clutter up the streets anyway, right? I think that people are concerned about it, but not so concerned that it is a huge priority for them in the voting booth. OTOH, if you started telling them that John Ashcroft was watching them do the wild thing on closed circuit TV, they'd get testy enough to do something about it.

  • I searched Google with the phrase "For more information", which appears promently on my copyrighted website. It returned over 4 million web sites that have blatently stolen from me. My lawyer is currently drafting a cease and desist order.

    We are looking into the unauthorized use of the word "the", also appearing on my site. Users of Slashdot will be advised to refrain from the use of this copyrighted word unless prior permision has been granted and payment accepted.

    Reading of this notification is taken as agreement on your part.

  • Another interesting article from Katz but I have a few things to say: Napster recently topped 62 million registered users, few of whom believed they were thieves, suggesting the DMCA wasn't a law with much popular support. DMCA and Napster? I don't get the logical connection here. The DMCA is horrible mostly because of DeCSS prohibition etc., not the prohibition of fair use of music.

    I wholeheartedly agree, though, with the notion that we are raising a generation of habitual law-breakers, especially intellectual-property lawbreakers. I have a lot of friends who don't hesitate to remove credit from GPL'ed programs, even. A lot of young people just don't care about IP, and I include myself among that group. "It's not worth the hassle and the entanglements" is the pervading sentiment, often. To hell with AOLTimeWarner, they're huge and meaningless anyhow. That is all I have to say.

    --

  • Don't be fooled by the kindly demeanor, bushy white beard, and unhealthy weight problem.

    He knows when you are sleeping
    He knows when you're awake
    He knows if you've been bad or good
    So be good for goodness' sake

    This meme is brainwashing our children into accepting 24/7/365 surveillance of their activities.

    It's clear that you've been enthralled by this technique.

  • by Zandromeda ( 265310 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:42AM (#286238)
    It never ceases to amaze me how hypocritical our society and our government are. We extoll the virtues of a democracy and of freedom of this, freedom to do that...unless there is money to be made from it. Then we have to control it, monitor it, get lawyers and congressmen involved, and tell people what they can and can't do with it until it's been suffocated to death and no one can remember what the hell it was in that everyone got so excited about in the first place.
  • Consider this: without fair use laws for artistic works, we would have more beautiful pieces and far less derivation in the fields of art, music and multimedia.

    Now, this is just speculation, and kind of hypocritical -- a trip to epmf.dasmegabyte.org [dasmegabyte.org] will show you that my "art" benefits so much from fair use that i'm pushing its legality. However, it's something to think about. How much would we *really* suffer if we couldn't use other peoples' works in reviews, collages or academic works? I mean, shit. Most of the motion video on the internet is derivative of offline media, and many pieces of art, music and motion video borrow heavily from popular entities. And these works are usually less enjoyable than the original and offer no real insight into anything. I mean, c'mon -- Park Wars was awful, not funny and not really a great parody of anything. The "all your base" craze was mildly amusing at first and tunnelled its way into cliche in less than the time it took to play all the way through zerowing. And I don't need to remind you of all the hideous flash videos out there that have taken advantage of the Budweiser "wossop" commercial, the mastercard "priceless" adverts or the plight of metallica and dr dre as seen through the eyes of us internet "subterraneans".

    It's not suprising that when I visit the monthly Saint Rose JCA Poetry Slam that all I hear is rehashes of hallmark cards and Korn lyrics. This beleif that art must be built on top of other art is totally antithetical to the concept of free expression. Poetry is about combining words in a fashion that's totally different from the way anybody else would combine them to create a window into your thoughts. Art should be about expressionism -- making images the way you see them or feel they should be seen. And motion video should be about telling a unique story from a unique point of view (or, shouts my jackoff film professor of three months, it should show the truth -- which means it should show nothing but pictures from the lives of boring people). Where's the originality in constructing the same ironic mismatch of media, the same syncronicity of images on image?

    Sure, copyrights are bad and I hate them (although I will kill the guy who stole my "akira" video and repackaged it with his name). But what are we really restricted from doing? Garner's Grendel was the Beowulf legend, but it was really nothing like Beowulf...it shared no words or storyflow. That was what made it a masterpiece without pulling from the respect granted to the 800 AD original. Animal Farm was made an allegory, not a scathing work of historical fiction, because allegory succeeded in illustrating the sadness far better than the original. And one could very easily argue that a hiphop track which creates a new loop rather than borrowing from a popular song can be just as good as one that borrows heavily...listen sometime to the work of the RZA, whose work on the Ghost Dog soundtrack included very few copyrighted samples.

    Copyright law is an invitation; nay, a challenge, to the artisans of the world: We've blocked off one channel to create art -- art that could easily become complacent and derivative. It's your job to make something new, rather than waste your time riding the coattails of others. An artist needs paint, sure, but she doesn't necessarily need blue paint...she might not create the Giocanda, but she could easily create Guernica.
  • by snoop_chili_dog ( 314897 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:50AM (#286278)

    It's nice to know that it just isn't male geeks who are interested copyright. Slashdot needs more women. (No, I'm not one :P) That's one of the things I really don't like about slashdot. You never get to hear a womens view on things. I personally like the different perspective. Women are a lot more balanced. Instead of saying who cares about the law like most slashees do, Ms./Mrs. Litman has struck a balance between the authors rights and the consumers rights.

    This is also one of the more enjoyable Katz articles. I don't see many of them.

  • by David St John ( 324998 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:43AM (#286279)
    I think that people are getting to worked up over privacy. The concept of privacy is really a modern invention, mostly considered a fundamental right in the Western countries. Primitive societies have no concept of privacy at all - they live among each other, and do not have any private space at all.

    I think that western societies are heading towards this again. Imagine it is the year 2100. Cameras are absolutely everywhere, and the internet allows everyone to find out everything about everbody else. It would be, if you like, an Open Source society.

    What would the consequences be? As follows:

    1) Crime would greatly decrease. We can see this already in Britain with CCTV systems.

    2) Greater honesty in society. People would no longer be able to lie about their personal lives.

    3)Less hypocrisy. Nobody would expect our politicians, wives etc to be perfect. There would be better understanding of human nature.

    A transparent, Open Source society needn't be a bad place to live. I think it would be better. The concept of what is a right and what is not would surely change, but I think that an Open Source society would be far more pleasant to live in that early 21st century America. The old must be wept away. Privacy is a function of fear - the fear of others. If that privacy is removed, the fear is too.

    Many Eyes Make All Crimes Shallow. In an Open Source society, all foibles, crimes and misdeameanours would be in the open. No more hypocrisy and a much more pleasant life for all would be the result.

  • by Hilary Rosen ( 415151 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @07:57AM (#286282) Homepage Journal
    You can, of course, impose any terms you want on your intellectual property. Simply ask anyone who you give it to to sign a contract. Not click-through, but sign.

    The "content industry" doesn't think people want to sign a contract every time they buy a CD or DVD or book. Instead, they are trying to extend copyright law to achieve the same ends.

    You would be upset if you bought cookies from me, only to be subsequently told that you could only eat them with a knife and fork, and that you could only get approved cutlery from me. DMCA makes this legal, in terms of IP.
    --

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