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The Media

Sharing Still Doesn't Hurt 278

Robotech_Master writes "Eric Flint has posted two new Prime Palaver rants. The first one is a continuation of the one that was mentioned here on Slashdot the other day, about the Free Library, the e-book, encryption, and you:'One thing you have to understand about this whole controversy is how much of it is sheer hot air. Many authors and most publishers, when they address this issue, give people the impression they're at risk of losing their shirt through electronic "piracy." That's pure hogwash[...]' The second is a response to the idea of boycotting Harlan Ellison for his anti-piracy stance (and I imagine some Slashdot faces will be red over some of what he has to say!)." We linked to Ellison's rant last year.
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Sharing Still Doesn't Hurt

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  • The fact of the matter is that people like books. Sure, I can read the entire PHP manual online, but there's just something comforting about having a big volume open in front of me. The same applies to fiction - while some may read, say, The Lord of the Rings online, many will not. The eyestrain alone would turn any reasonable person off of it. And can you imagine reading through several inches of printed pages? The cost of the ink and paper alone would be roughly the same as a cheap paperback version of the book.

    The way I see it, piracy is no different than buying the book for $0.50 at a used book store. The fact of the matter is that the type of person who would pirate a book would also pay half a dollar for it - it becomes a matter of cost. And of course, an author loses no money on used books.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Gotta play the devil's advocate here...

      The problem is not about the CURRENT situation, but about the precendent that CURRENT copyright law exerts over FUTURE copyright law.

      If we let people wantonly "share" books when there are no feasible ways of reading online, there's a precedent set. If the powers that be decide that the proliferation of unlicensed copyrighted books on the internet is bad (probably because it could lead to a lot of headache down the line, a la mp3z) then they have every reason to cork the bottle while the leak is small.

      The difference between the used book and the electronic copy is that there's only ONE used copy, and (apparently) one can make money if the maximum rate of transfer from person to person is one (i.e. I can give my copy of LOTR to ONE person). Obviously I can give my electronic copy of LOTR to a practically unlimited number of people.
    • Umm, Flint misses the whole point of boycotting someone, in my opinion. For me to boycott Wagner, or Dostoyevski, etc. can't change their behavior -- they're dead! Enough people boycotting Harlan Ellison could change his behavior, or act as an incentive to others who might be thinking of taking the same stance he does regarding copying.

      Of course, I can't boycott Ellison, since I don't buy his books anyway. I think he's a pompous bastard with nothing whatsoever interesting to say.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:23PM (#3418998)
    The RIAA wants taxpayers to pay for the cost of tracking down those who 'diminish the incentive to invest in creating music'

    First of all: Most of the money from sales of music goes to marketing of music. This is because the music listening public are too stupid and sheepish to be immune from being convinced to buy whatever crap BMG wants to sell. This marketing machine payed for by record companies does more to stifle the creation of music than CD pirates ever could. Since local bands could never spend so much to convince the public to buy their stuff, it takes a back seat to the stuff on MTV. Most of the value of the music IP that the RIIA is worried about is not in the music itself but in the marketing investment that the record company has made in pushing the music. For example: Britanny Spears mad diddly off her first album, but could command huge $$ for another one since the record company had already invested mega $$ in marketing her.

    Is this maketing a service? Should we thank the record companies for bringing us music we might not otherwise know about? I think not. I think that especially with the internet, bands can show the world what they've got easily, and people can find it on their own. In this wired age record companies who once were the only way to distribute music find that they no longer serve a useful purpose and are nothing more than leaches on society. They control what is on the radio, so that's what I hear, and that's all I know to buy. Without them the radio would play other stuff by artists who have placed their stuff on the internet for free, and who would be happy if I listened so I would want to go to one of their concerts. Music would continue to be created even if there were no such thing as record companies. Maybe artists would not get rich by leveraging the record company's marketing investment, but maybe lesser known artists would make a better living if they could get a little airplay.

    Second of all: Do we want an IP police to tell us what we are allowed to think without paying a fee?

    Do you think the cops can shut down p2p file trading of copyrighted material without snooping on everything that is traded on p2p? If the FBI can't stop illegal IP traffic on it's budget and using it's existing powers, then it still has use in stopping kidnappers and terrorists, in fact that 'failure' doesn't tarnish the public's image of the FBI because most people who want music and would rather wait for it to download than pay the money for it at the store download it guiltlessly, and don't want the FBI to stop them.

    But if there is a special agency who's only purpose is to stop illegal IP trading, they will called before congress if their agency is innefectual, and they will explain that the task is impossible, and that to enforce the law they need an SSSCA type law, and that Freenet should be banned, and that so should most p2p, and gpl software too.

    I would be willing to give up the notion of copyright and the patent systems altogether. What moral right does someone who creates an artifact that represents an idea to the very eternal notion itself? They should own only the artifact itself. Why should we subsidise the creation of such artifacts by granting copyright? I don't think the value of what is created in that way warrants the subsidy since the material created is mostly created with the express purpose of making $$ and not with enriching my life. Why is fostering technological growth good in and of itself? Is the car really a good thing? Has it actually benefitted mankind? If patents are granted to compete with other countries then maybe we should stop the war and sign a peace treaty outlawing patents.
    • The RIAA wants taxpayers to pay for the cost of tracking down those who 'diminish the incentive to invest in creating music'

      Why would they want to be eliminated ...
      O, that's just what they said, not what they meant. Really what they want is for everyone to pay them money without them having to do anything except "lobby" for more laws to restrict everyones else's freedom.

      Of cource, this is preaching to the converted...
      Good, but better would be to preach somewhere else, say to the electorate and the legislature. (Do you practice what I preach? I try to.)
    • .I would be willing to give up the notion of copyright and the patent systems altogether. What moral right does someone who creates an artifact that represents an idea to the very eternal notion itself?

      They don't have a right to the "eternal notion." They have it, at the maximum, for the entirety of their natural lifetime, plus a few years to cover at-the-grave publishing deals and care for their estate.

      In exchange for this limited monopoly, we gain a permantent and complete copy of the "eternal notion." We do not suffer a disaster if an inventor selfishly burns his entire laboratory in an instant, or keeps the real meaning in code to create their own value--we have records in the patent office of how the thing really works.

      (At least, this is how the system is SUPPOSED to work.)

      They should own only the artifact itself. Why should we subsidise the creation of such artifacts by granting copyright?

      First off, creation of artifacts / inventions are covered by patent law, not copyright. Patents last for, IIRC, 15 years max. Copyrights are intended for literary and artistic work, and thus last much longer.

      And, yes, I think software should be covered by patent law, not copyright law.

      I don't think the value of what is created in that way warrants the subsidy since the material created is mostly created with the express purpose of making $$ and not with enriching my life.

      That's just it. We're a capitalist-based economy. Thus, people who make more money have a better life. If not for the patent system, all those that create new things would be at the random and unfair mercy of whomever could copy the idea first. Less brilliant inventions would be more vauable, since fewer people would steal them. Really brilliant ideas wouldn't be worth the time to use, since everyone would take them immediately.

      I think such a system would be unfair, and giving everyone who invents something new--even if it's not that good--a flat time to have an exclusive monopoly on that is a fair and good way to do it. Since all timespans are the same, the value of an invention is directly proportional to how many people will want it, and thus better ideas are now really worth more.

      Why is fostering technological growth good in and of itself? Is the car really a good thing? Has it actually benefitted mankind?

      Technological growth has, by and large, improved the life of everyone on the planet. There's still a lot left to improve, but I for one *like* the idea of being able to easily move more than ten miles away from my birthplace (my wife and I were born several hundred miles apart), being able to communicate with relatives across great distances, and being able to not live in polluted and unkempt quarters just to be able to work.

      I have a hard time naming an invention that hasn't improved my life. Heck, even the patent granted on Magic:The Gathering has allowed my favorite hobby to have a competent and strong player in the lead of the industry. This is a good thing.
      • Actually patents were at 17 years for the longest time, and only _very_ recently got bumped up to 20.

        However copyrights started at 14 years and didn't get above IIRC 28 for around a hundred years at least. They are NOT intended to be longer because of the types of works covered. It's easier to get a copyright than a patent, and so there are more copyright holders clamoring to have the term lengthened.

        Frankly, the original idea for term lengths was intended to be roughly a generation, so that while you or I might have to buy books encumbered with copyright now, we could share them freely with our children, who could thus be inspired to create a whole new set of works.

        A copyright on computer software of more than five years is absurd in the extreme. In fact, that might even be too long itself.
  • what a goof. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@ya ... .com minus punct> on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:23PM (#3419002) Homepage Journal
    To draw a connection to boycotting a dead creater to boycotting a living creater is spurious, at best.

    You have 0 chanve of getting Wagner to change his views, or even take a closer look at them, because he's dead. You have nearly 0 chance of getting HE to re-think his position, but nearly 0 is not 0, and if enough people do it, maybe he'll actually try to put a story onto the baen library to see if it works.
    I won't buy anything new from Ellison. No I won't boycot him, but I sure as hell will see that no money I spend ends up into his pocket. His thinking is draconion, and feeds right into the corporate misconception. Fortunatly I have a library card and easy access to a used book store.
    • I seriously doubt a boycott is going to change anybody's views, unless their opinions are based on nothing more than who shouts the loudest. I imagine that if his views were based on that, they would be boring and nobody would care anyway. This is an author we're talking about here; not Bill Clinton. If his opinion ever changes, it'll be through thought, because that's what real intellectuals do--think.

      If you are still clinging to the idea that a mere boycott can change an author's opinion, I have only one more thing to say: Salman Rushdie.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:26PM (#3419018)
    Okay, let's clarify things. Yes, libraries give copyrighted works away free, so does radio, blah, blah, blah. And that's great. Libraries and radio don't cut into book or music sales and they're wonderful resources. But that's not how the Angry Young 3/_33+ see it. Their take is that the companies that distribute music and books are evil and should be taken out of the picture. So when they argue about sharing being okay, there's a stronger agenda behind it: that copyrights should be abolished. The attitude of "entertain me for free" is a a hard view to get people to agree with.
    • by HydroCarbon10 ( 40784 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @06:03PM (#3419161) Journal
      Of course, it could be argued that if there was no money to be made in the arts then only those who truly love them will produce them. This would create a situation in which only the highest quality works would be produced. So what if copyrights were abolished? Take the above statement and change the word arts to software and you'll see my point.
      • And define quality?

        Go ahead. You can even use Mozart and Britney Spears in your example. No matter what you say, it comes down to personal opinion. If I like superficial teenage pop better than complex heart-wrenching orchestrations, then pop is better. It's all relative.

        So what if copyrights were abolished?

        Well, how'd you like it if you recorded a CD and a big label copied it and mass-produced it with way nicer packaging then you offered, and stuck it in Wall-mart and Strawberries, sold a million copies, and didn't give you a dime? Or worse, if they represented it as being done by someone else, and that other person got all the fame and fortune and nobody belived you when you said you did it. This is why we need copyright law. Granted, it doesn't need to be longer than 20 years or so, and there's no reason people shouldn't be able to make derivative works (incl. sampling) without permission, but that's another story altogether.
      • You're very wrong there. While it is true only the most dedicated atrists would remain, without money to pay for editing and polishing a manuscript into a finished product the quality of books would drop drastically. We'd get the raw unfinished novels, or worse the authors would be so conserned ovet the quality they would spend decades trying to polish up a single novel, not knowing what needs to be done, and perhaps butchering it worse than any editor could.
        Editors can sometime make bad calls on edits, they're only human afterall, but by and far they tend to do good job, or else they find a new line of work.
        You do however have a good point in there. Open source software has proven that monetary compensation does not need to be a driving force behind developing quality software. And with digital technology artists could easily form self-serving communities that allow a polished finished product to be released without anyone getting paid. That being said, comercially produced books will always be in far greater supply than any community driven effort. Communities will form where the commercial opportunites are nil.
        Open source software is viable, not because it doesn't cost money to produce software, but because the commercial software comapnies have made an environment where open source software is preferable. If you treat your customers like sheep, then don't be surprised if you can't sell to shepards. Then again it isn't possible to satisfy everyone, so there probably isn't anything any software company could do and remain in buisness that would make an environment in which open source couldn't survive. And once that Djinn is out of the bottle there is no way to get it back in. For those not familiar Djinn are evil spirits that grant wishes, but the wishes they grant always turn out for the worst.
  • Why support a twit financially if you feel that he's acting contrary to your own interests? You can "consume" the works of anyone that has been elevated to the status of cultural icon without it profiting them. Flint alludes to these methods in his own commentary. Also, Flint's comparison is flawed since some of his examples are people that are no longer even around to gain benefit from patronage. You simply can't punish Wagner anymore, while you could try and punish Ellison.

    This is an important distinction between Wagner and Ellison.

    Although, I do agree that boycotting Ellison even at the public library would be a bit silly.

  • It's comical to see how various groups are attempting to use the DMCA,
    as well as traditional IP law, against each other, in a vain effort to control
    the ideas they call "their" "intellectual property." As Benjamin Franklin said,
    when someone else uses your idea, you are not diminished... you still "possess"
    it as much as you ever did.

    For example, see this humorous(?) dispute between a small web site and someone
    claiming to represent Wired Magazine, in which everything from the DMCA,
    to copyright and patent law, to the GPL(!), is invoked to assert one side
    or the other's IP claims:

    http://subintsoc.net/blowback_200203.php#wired2 [subintsoc.net]

    Just goes to show how asinine these sorts of things can get.

    • Asinine indeed. Copyright is not a natural right.. It is a necessary evil, necessary to encourage innovation and creativity. I think we can all agree having a (say) 60 year copyright is 3 times as evil as 20 years, and 2 times as evil as 30 years. But does the increasing amount of evil so drastically amount to an increasing amount of innovation and creativity? I think not.
  • 0 - 0 = 0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MadAhab ( 40080 ) <slasherNO@SPAMahab.com> on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:37PM (#3419066) Homepage Journal
    Holy shit that was the most clear-headed rant I've seen in a long time, and just about the only coherent one on the topic of publishing in the electronic age.

    Zero minus zero equals zero. Read the rant, learn the phrase. Seriously. RIAA types and the IP-martial-law crowd still won't get it (because they can't conceive of anything from which they can't get a percentage), but the average person understands that going to a public library and reading a book is not theft, and neither is 0 - 0 = 0.

    • Zero minus zero equals zero. Read the rant, learn the phrase. Seriously. RIAA types and the IP-martial-law crowd still won't get it (because they can't conceive of anything from which they can't get a percentage), but the average person understands that going to a public library and reading a book is not theft, and neither is 0 - 0 = 0.

      What intellectual property have you created in your lifetime?

      Just wondering.

      Simon
      • Re:0 - 0 = 0 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by acceleriter ( 231439 )
        What intellectual property have you created in your lifetime?

        He hasn't created any, because there is no such thing. Knowledge and information cannot be owned, and what little pretention to "ownership" of it exists in law is a legal fiction created to stimulate "science and the useful arts." Unfortunately, this limited fiction has been perverted into a "property" "right" by the RIAA/SPA/MPAA/BSA, &c.

        It's time for them to take a reality check, because without DMCA death squads, the degree of enforcement of their so-called "rights" they desire will never come to pass. And if it does, it will be at the cost of some of thier lives.

        • He hasn't created any, because there is no such thing. Knowledge and information cannot be owned, and what little pretention to "ownership" of it exists in law is a legal fiction created to stimulate "science and the useful arts

          Knowledge & Information != Arts

          A science fiction novel conveys some knowledge, and some information, but the format is where the value lies.

          For example:

          Black holes are collapsed stars which even light cannot escape IS NOT the same as the Disney movie The Black Hole.

          One is knowledge and information - the other is structured use of that knowledge.

          For example, music is an arrangement of musical notes. You can't copyright a musical note - but you CAN copyright the arrangement.

          Simon
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:39PM (#3419071)
    From the second Prime Palaver rant: Those of you who are conservatives will have to boycott Mercedes Lackey.

    I'm a conservative, but I don't boycott Mercedes Lackey because of her politics. I boycott her because of her contrived plots, shallow characters, stilted dialogue, and a preachy tone that annoys me whether it comes from her or Robert Heinlein. How this woman became a popular writer when she produces such crap is something I don't understand.

  • I haven't seen any actual new work of his in 20 years. I probably have a bunch of his old books stored somehow -- but I wasn't in any hurry to take them out and read them again anyhow.

    A long time ago, I decided that Harlan Ellison was clever, but he wasn't sufficiently hooked into _reality_ to write sci-fi that survived five seconds of critical thinking. Which is a pretty good reason not to take what he says about the economics of writing seriously...
  • Ha, I stop reading his book 1632 on my palm pilot and see this on /.

    Last year when this came up I read one of his free books but got distracted and didn't follow up. After seeing this again on /. and enjoying his article I read the first two in the Belasarius series and got thoroughly sucked in. I tried tracking down the rest at the library but they closed early on the weekend so I bought the next two from the Webscriptions. (looks like I could have saved $4 on Destiny's Shield but hey, overall I'm quite happy, $8 for 4 books worth of entertainment is a great deal).

    Now I'm wading my way through 1632 and I'm going to have to track down the rest of the books in this series. I might try the library or I might end up buying them, we'll see. And, as I mentioned, I'm reading it on a Palm Pilot. Not as good as paper, not even as good as the HTML versions, but definately readable and I can take it to the toilet with me...

  • From looking at the original story, somebody went and posted copies of his books on usenet, so HE went after them legally. How is this a problem? If I were an author and found somebody passing out copies of my book, I'd sic a lawyer on them too.

    • If I were an author and found somebody passing out copies of my book

      What if I bought a hundred copies of your book at a used book store and gave them away for free to anyone who asked?

      What if I posted a message to Usenet encouraging everyone to go to their local library and read your book instead of buying it?

      What if I setup a book borrowing program whereby I loaned my own personal collection of your books to anyone who asked on the Internet for the cost of postage? "Here, I've got a hundred used books. You pay me $10 for the book, read it, enjoy it, and when you send it back to me, I'll give you $9 back." Or, hell, what if I loaned them out for free? What if I ate the shipping costs myself and shipped these books to anyone who wanted to read them under the condition they send them back when they were done?

      Would you sue me, and if so, on what grounds?

      All of this would be perfectly legal and none of these situations would bring you a penny in immediate revenue. Chances are, however, that all would generate buzz about your books among people who otherwise never would have heard of you, and you'd likely make money as they went out and bought your other books.
      • What you do with your property (copies of my alleged book) is your own affair. However, you have no legal right to distribute copies of the book that you have not bought, nor have a contract for. Buzz or no buzz, this is a clear case of copyright violation and I find it ridiculous to boycott someone for demanding that people not copy their work illegaly.

    • Yeah, isn't this what netizens have been saying for ages? Don't blame the software/media/internet, blame the people. When someone does blame a person for ostensibly violating a copyright then what's the new position? The laughable "information wants to be free cause I'm cheap?"
  • Got paid to create their art, was it amateur, or "PROFESSIONAL-LEVEL ART" as Ellison put it? they got paid a lot, but they didn't get paid over and over again.

    Why should modern works be different?

    • Got paid to create their art, was it amateur, or "PROFESSIONAL-LEVEL ART" as Ellison put it? they got paid a lot, but they didn't get paid over and over again.

      Why should modern works be different?

      Well, despite the general stupidity of most "popular" art and literature, I still prefer our current system to one where only the rich, governments, and the church support artists.

      • This is a good angle.

        I'll argue that artists don't create such "large" are for individuals nowadays, either. When's the last time you bought a mural, or a family mausoleum?

        Art on the scale that we consume at affordable prices could easily be constructed for a few hundred bucks, and it would be easy to start a web service to help collect to prompt artists to create new goodies - like an ebay kind of deal. Raising the price of getting into the biz to the cost of buying/renting equipment would _lower_ the barrier to entry that exists now.

    • Got paid to create their art, was it amateur, or "PROFESSIONAL-LEVEL ART" as Ellison put it? they got paid a lot, but they didn't get paid over and over again.

      Why should modern works be different?


      Because instead of being paid 'a lot' once, artists today get paid 'an infinitesimal amount' lots of times.

      It equates to the same thing, but ultimately means that you can listen to a band's music on CD for $15.00 or so, instead of paying $200,000 a year for the band to be on-call 24/7 to come to your house and do a live concert for you.

      Simon
  • A consumer's rant... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DESADE ( 104626 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMbobwardrop.com> on Friday April 26, 2002 @05:50PM (#3419110)
    (Posted to the Pho list last year),

    Seeing as I don't work in the music industry, I've been a little hesitant to
    post this, but I'm feeling a little froggy today. If I'm being a little
    presumptuous feel free to hack me to shreds, but here goes:

    The Nature of Demand
    It seems to me one of the key problems facing the music industry in the
    digital age is the "commodity" approach to marketing music. Who was the
    genius that first determined that the real product is a piece of plastic?
    When I buy a CD, it's not because I simply want to be able to play the music
    at my leisure. At the core of every music purchase is a connection between
    the artist and the consumer. For some, it's an association of ideals. For
    others, it may be image, lust, identity, craft or a myriad of other
    possibilities. This is the real nature of demand in this business and it's
    being completely ignored under the current model.

    Pissing Off the Consumer
    This whole idea came to me as I was driving to work one day listening to
    "Celebrity Skin." I'm on my third copy now and it irks my hide a little each
    time I buy a CD that I have previously owned. Especially considering the
    fact that I know so little money is going to the artist.

    Why can't I just buy personal rights to the piece of work and pay a media
    fee for whatever form of media I choose as a playback device? If I lose the
    CD, why can't I just pay a reasonable media fee to replace it? Why can't I
    be a patron of the artist rather than a consumer of plastic? The value of a
    CD is in the beauty of the work, not in its physical manifestation.

    In a Perfect World
    I'd pay $25 bucks for a CD. It would come with a serial number. I'd go to a
    Web site managed by the artist or their representatives and register. Once
    registered, I'd be able to download the CD in MP3 format. Maybe I'd get
    access to a couple of bonus tracks as well. Maybe I'd like a second copy of
    the CD or a tape for my car. I'd be able to buy a second copy for 5-7 bucks.
    Call it a media fee.

    A Different Approach
    Now here's the real power of this model. Now that I've registered, the
    artist can send me an email telling me about what's going on in their
    creative life every now and then. Maybe I'd be able to get an early copy of
    the next album in MP3 format for pre-ordering. Maybe the artist could send
    me a link to some live tracks from concerts or some things they have been
    playing around with in the studio between major releases. Maybe they could
    point me to a couple of older albums I might be interested in. Maybe once I
    have purchased the rights to three albums I would achieve "distinguished
    patron" status that allows me special access to other material. That's
    value. Now I feel like I have a relationship with the artist. Now I feel
    like a patron who helps support the artist so they can spend their time
    working on their art. Now the artist has a direct way to build a
    relationship with me the fan. Foster that relationship and the artist is
    meeting the real demand of a music consumer.

    Maybe when the artist comes to town, they can put on a special show at a
    small venue for "distinguished patrons." I think a show like this would be
    good for the artist and the patron. The artist would know they are
    performing for a select group that appreciates their craft and has shown it
    by supporting them. The patron gets to see his or her favorite artist up
    close and personal. The patron would be willing to pay a higher price as
    well. The next day, maybe a special commerative t-shirt would be available
    at the web site when the patron logs in.

    Also, think about how valuable the database would be.

    Watch the Money Roll In
    So under this scenario, I'd probably spend at least a couple hundred bucks
    with an artist. Under the current model, I might have shelled out $100 for a
    CD and a couple of concert tickets. Why allow labels to take so much money
    for "managing" the artist, when what they really should be doing is managing
    the relationship with between the artist and the patron? The marketing
    potential under this model is a no brainer. Some might abuse it, some might
    manage it well. At the end of the day, it's the relationship that counts.
    Piss off your registered fan base with a load of spam and chances are the
    fan won't cough up any more dough. Provide a real value to registering and
    watch the money roll in. The better an artist manages the relationship, the
    more money they make. Make the management earn their keep for a change.

    This Kills the Napter Problem
    Piracy will never go away. Instead of trying to limit access to an artist's
    work, why not take a different approach... provide real value for paying for
    the work. Why would I spend hours trolling Napster for bad MP3's encoded at
    different bit rates and labeled with no common format when I can just buy
    the CD and have access to clean copies encoded at a high bit rate for my
    desktop machine and maybe another set encoded at a low bit rate for my car
    or portable player? Napster's cool, but face it, it's still a
    pain-in-the-ass. Today's average MP3 collection is a sloppy mess. Why would
    I pirate when buying the work and registering offers me real value? Sure
    some people will pirate. Face it folks, it's going to happen no matter what.
    The loss from piracy would be more than covered by the additional revenue.
    This would also go a long way to killing the demand for used CD's.

    Eviscerate The Damn Middlemen
    I'm offended that the record companies skim off such a disproportionate
    amount of income from the process compared to the value they inject into the
    transaction. They get away with it because they control the distribution
    channel. That control is dying and all the industry seems to want to do is
    come up with another way to protect it. Wake up! Fans are pissed off.
    Artists are pissed off. Everyone is sick and tired of paying twenty bucks
    for a CD and knowing that the artist only ends up with a buck or two. That's
    why everyone is sucking songs off of Napster. We're all tired of feeding
    your machine. Let go and start fresh. Didn't most people in the business get
    into management or promotion or whatever because they loved music? Wouldn't
    it be nice to get back to that rather than working in a system that is
    basically a leech feeding upon both artist and consumer?

    Someday Soon
    An new act is going to make it big direct. No label. No management. No
    distribution deal. Self-financed. Self-promoted. Self-Published. Another
    possibility is a major act going direct successfully. The day is coming soon
    and when it happens, a lot of people in this business are going to face a
    rude wake-up call. Why not make a deal now while you still have a chance?

    Apologia...
    I've had all this bouncing around in my head for some time now. I honestly
    planned on writing it up as a coherent article. If I waited till I had time
    to do it, I would never have gotten around to it. I'm truly sorry to have to
    present it in such a disjointed rant.

    I don't have a chip on my shoulder. I truly love music. I work for a living.
    I don't have the kind of talent musicians have. The mere fact that there are
    beautiful souls out there producing such wonderful works of art makes the
    drudgery of my day to day a little brighter. I'm willing to pay for that. As
    a matter of fact, I'd feel damn privileged to be part of a support base that
    allows an artist to focus on their art instead of schlepping food at a
    restaurant for a living. I just wish doing it under a the current model
    didn't leave such a bitter taste in my mouth. Fix it and I guarantee you'll
    make more money, see a more diverse range of work and happier artists and
    consumers.
    • by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:34PM (#3419637) Homepage
      Eviscerate The Damn Middlemen

      I was with you up to here. Labels serve a very important purpose: they let us know which artists are worth listening to. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to wade through piles of indie crap hoping to find something I like. Most of the good musicians out there, I (and most everybody else) am aware of because a major label spent money in putting them in the limelight. That said, I can't fathom why an artist would stay with a label after they've made it big (and their contract's out). But I'm sure they have their reasons.

      Someday Soon

      It's already happened. Ani DiFranco built up Righteous Babe records all on her own, after developing a huge and loyal fan base by touring her ass off. Aimee Mann started her own label after getting screwed by a major one. Incidentally, all you /.ers out there who don't buy CDs because they don't want to support the RIAA need to be aware that some labels are artist-owned and you should be going out of your way to support those. There are even some labels that are responsible and great to work with. Rory Block has recorded 10 or 15 albums with Rounder records, and the first few were done without even signing a contract. No, I couldn't believe it either when I heard it, but it's true. Some labels really exist to support the musicians.

      As an aside, anyone turned off by Ani should check out Revelling/Reckoning. Her politics still (and probably always will) annoy me, but the music is truly amazing. Just about everything about Aimee Mann is good, and Rory Block can play the old-time country blues like nobody's business.
      • Labels serve a very important purpose: they let us know which artists are worth listening to. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to wade through piles of indie crap hoping to find something I like. Most of the good musicians out there, I (and most everybody else) am aware of because a major label spent money in putting them in the limelight.


        This is utter rubbish. At eMusic and MP3.com ( prior to being absorbed by the Beast) I often sample music by finding a genre I like and seeing which artists were downloaded the most - the best artists typically bubbled to the top. I found many acts that were "worth listening to" without having my hand held by the RIAA.


        Unfortunately, some labels have a single agenda - that agenda is Make Money. So they will thrust into the limelight those bands they believe will make money. Witness the countless knock-off boy and girl bands from the last several years - fucking O-Town, a band manufactured during primetime for God's sake - is this an example of the bands they think are "worth listening to"??


        The fact is, you are spreading the same myth the RIAA uses to justify their existence at this point. MP3.com was an effective way to market music without signing your soul to the major labels. And guess what? The stupid, mindless, sheep fans were actually able to decide for themselves which music was good and which music was bad, all without Uncle Hilary Rosen having to say "Put down that silly O Brother, Where Art Thou? disc and look at this shiny, new N'Sync album!"


        People love music. Left to their own devices, they will find ways to talk about music, spread the word about the bands they love, and find as many new acts as they can afford. And in the process the good with be separated from the bad.


        I do agree with your latter point, however. Not all labels are bad and some do sincerely promote the artists they believe will produce good music and not only good royalties. But the labels are on borrowed time. There are alternatives.

        • I see your point, but the music industry isn't just about the music. Maybe I'm wrong (and I hope so), but I think most people want a superstar with a soundtrack, not just some good tunes to listen to. They want to scream in adoration at a concert, awestruck (even though it might be the same as listening to the CD with really big loud speakers). And you need a major label to accomplish these things.

          fucking O-Town, a band manufactured during primetime for God's sake - is this an example of the bands they think are "worth listening to"??

          Yes, apparently. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean that other people don't. (So what if none of them have pubes yet.) The thing is, no part of any of it is bad. The labels shove N'Sync down our throats at our request. If they didn't sell so many albums, they'd drop the band as quickly as they made them. I say great. Let them have their fun. People obviously like it, so where's the harm? I have absolutely no problem with the existence of any major label. They have just a right to business as anyone else. That said, I think I speak for everyone here when I say that when they start compromising our access to the music we like--which likely will have no part of them--or worse, when they attemp to compromise our basic freedoms, then they need to be cut down. They are a business, not a white house wing.
          • Yes but changing tack slightly - even books are pirated online these days. Just do a search for hhgttg.txt and you'll find the text for all 5 Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Books. Before anyone points out - yes the author is dead - but they're all still in copyright.
      • Labels serve a very important purpose: they let us know which artists are worth listening to.

        Isn't this, like, rubbish? Do you really need a big company to do this? A radio DJ does this. That's their job. So do you friends who are really into a particular genre. I don't need a company taking a big cut of the sale to tell me what is good to listen to.
      • The middlemen don't push music that's worth listening to, they push music they can make money off of. Big difference. Do you think they'd stop pushing their music if they knew they didn't have anyone worth promoting right then? Of course not. In fact they'd probably promote all the harder to keep from appearing as not having any good artists.

        An independent site however could promote only those artists they feel their customers (either paying, or via eyeballs) would actually want to hear.

        I once had a really snooty author tell me that I'd be screwed without publishers simply because those publishers have the terrible job of looking through slush piles for the gems.

        I've done similar jobs. I've reviewed Quake maps, Star-Trek fanfic, and other amateur works. It's not something I'd want to do all the time, as in, in order to find a book to read I have to go through nine bad ones to find one good one, but as a side project it was actually fun.

        And look at the sites that host these reviews. Tons of content, sorted by author, theme, and score, all available for download by anyone interested. All run by fans.

        Even if no businesses wanted to touch the music promotion business it'd be taken up by fans in a minute and would likely provide a better service. There's a lot to be said for not having a vested interest in either result.
    • You know, nobody forces people to sign up with the middlemen. The studios pay for studio time, production, marketing and an advance to live on during the process. And then they lose money for most of the people they do this for.

      Sure, they have control for too long, and some people sign up for contracts they probably shouldn't have done, but nobody has to sign up with the major labels.
      • ...nobody has to sign up with the major labels.

        Let's, for charities sake, say that artists want to make it big because they want to be heard by as many people possible. For that they need the distribution machinery of a big label.

        Guess what? All the big labels have the same standard contract for artists: sign over all your rights, take all the risks yourself, and we skim off the profits while you pay off the costs of producing your album.

        Now, where I come from, this is called a cartel, and it's illegal. And from what I gathered, you guys in the U.S. have something called the Sherman Act outlawing this as well.

        So tell me again, how is an artist that wants the widest possible distribution of his work, not forced to sign away his soul to a major label?

        Mart
        • by samael ( 12612 )
          Sign with a smaller label. Or hire people to push your music yourself.

          Sure, we should smash the payola system into little bits, so that other people _can_ get onto MTV and radio stations, but apart from that I'd be all in favour of people signing whatever contracts they like. If to get the one they want they have to go to a smaller label, then they'll have to depend on the rewards that brings. If they're good enough they'll still get heard.
      • Actually, in many ways an artist is forced to sign with one of the big music promoters. You can't get radio play without that, or concert venues, etc, etc.

        It's not an open market where everyone can compete equally. It's an ugly market completely controlled by a small number of nearly identical companies who certainly aren't going to tolerate any competition that they could destroy.
  • I fully support patents and copyrights as an incentive for the creation of new ideas. The last thing I want is a world where people think to themselves, "I could write a book, but I would make a lot more money for a lot less work if I just stole someone else's and sold it." I've heard some countries are like this. The thing is that banning technology because of it's capabilities is not only futile, but does more harm than good because of the brick wall it places in front of innovation.

    I think the corporations are scared of technology because they don't understand it. They really have no cause to be so paranoid however, because as any Gnutella user knows, free information is only worth as much as the people who are making it available get paid.

    So what if everything gets pirated on-line? No matter how good P2P gets, it will never be able to duplicate the quality of media that one receives from a legitimate centralized service (such as Amazon). In order for the quality of pirated materials to equal that of the legitimate version, the pirated version has to be subsidized somehow. As long as it is illegal to sell copyrighted material, no pirate distribution system will ever be able to provide the equivalent value.

    Of course, new technology could always prove me wrong, but it's a little tiresome to see a raging political debate fueled by people who make all sorts of outrageous claims about what 'technology is doing' without the slightest understanding of the reality.
    • What, are you kidding? Authors think about that all the time.

      Firstly, let's seperate authors who write for art's sake, and who therefore aren't particularly motivated by copyright, from those who are actually concerned about money.

      That latter group, like most people interested in money, wants to reap the largest profit with the least expenditures. So it therefore makes perfect sense to just take a work someone else has already written, and start selling it. Almost no effort is involved! It's all profit!

      Unfortunately, if all authors did this, life would suck for them. So copyright makes sense to authors.

      The problem is that if total originality were required, the costs of writing a book would far exceed any compensation for it. You couldn't use themes or stock characters. You couldn't parody. You couldn't have deliberate similarities or homages. You couldn't even have accidental similarities. Going to extremes, you couldn't even use the same _words_. (Someone invented "the," and by God, if that was a creative work why shouldn't they get paid for every use of it?)

      This would mean that each new work would be more incomprehensible than the last, and utterly worthless to the public. Furthermore, it would be too much effort, so virtually no one would ever want to do it.

      Thus it behooves authors to only have a certain degree of copyright, lest it become too hard to create. And it behooves the reading public (which includes all authors), to not permit that copyright to be one iota more expansive than strictly necessary, lest the public good that comes of authorship be any less than the possible maximum amount.

      (Incidentally, you're wrong re: quality of pirated materials. Pirated DVDs are made by the same people that manufacture the legitimate ones. They just run off extra copies. Likewise, copyright was not devised in the 18th century to prevent people from hand-copying books, but from printing them on the same types of presses that were used everywhere. It's only recently that the cost of copying technologies of any type that are above a certain ease of use threshold have fallen into the area where ordinary folks can buy 'em)
  • Here's my true story about how sharing is good.

    I'm a young guy (20 years old). When Prince (aka, "The Purple One," "The Artist Formally Known As Prince," etc) was just getting started up, I was very young and not too interested in music. I knew who Prince was, however, and I remembered that.

    However, I didn't know who Morris Day was -- an artist who, in my view having heard him, is superior to Prince.

    Now, about a year ago, I saw the movie "Purple Rain". In that movie, I saw the story of Prince and Morris Day competing at a local club. They showed several songs of each artist. As it turns out, in reality, Prince and Morris Day were actually in the same band and good friends, but the movie is a dramatization which sets them up as being enemies.

    Anyways, in this movie, they showed Morris Day performing the song called "The Bird". I thought that song was really fun and great, so I looked it up on Amazon, and looked for Morris Day on Google. So I found out this was a real guy, and he had a alot of songs before he unexplicably quit the music industry.

    I thought cool. But I'm not going to buy an album by a guy just because he had one good song. So I downloaded Day's album's off from Grokster and LimeWire. Turns out, almost all of the guys music is good -- some real great songs, like Jungle Love, Fishnet (Black Pantyhoes), Color of Success, Get It Up, The Walk, 777-9311, etc.

    That's how I found out about Morris Day. And that's how I found out his songs were good. And that's why I've bought a few of his albulms. In short, he made money because of file-sharing. Of course, if he had sucked, he wouldn't have made money; but he also wouldn't have lost any either.

    The general point that can be taken here is that almost all people who download tons of stuff from LimeWire/Kazaa wouldn't have bought it anyways. I have about 40Gigs of songs. Do you really think I would have actually gone out and bought 40Gigs worth of songs if it weren't for file-sharing? Of course not, that's absurd. So in short, the artists who's songs I've downloaded haven't lost anything because I wouldn't have paid them anyways. Some gain alot, because I like them enough to buy their albums.

    In fact, everyone gains. Before file-sharing I wasn't an avid fan of music. Now, I am. All kinds of music too. I even watch M-TV once in a while, something which I never did before.

    In fact, I'd venture to say that the interest in music today is higher than its EVER EVER BEEN. And that's accounting for the size of the population.

    So, how exactly is it that artists and the music industry loses from this?
    • Artists don't lose.

      The music industry on the other hand.. ahh.. now they lose big time.

      After all, now you like some guy that most of us haven't ever heard of. Think of what would happen if, as individuals, we each found different artists that we really liked? How the heck do you market that? You have a fixed budget for marketing, but if you split it up among fifty or a hundred or a thousand artists, you don't have enough for a video for any of them and your television ad airs once or twice instead of thirty times per day. Sure you can try, but people are going to like what they're going to like. If they don't like the crap you're shovelling, *and* they can easily find and get something else, that's what they're going to do.

      If control of access to music returns to the people, then control of the marketing and distribution of music becomes meaningless - unfortunately, marketing and distribution are the primary functions of the music industry (as opposed to the artists, whose primary function is to create music)

      So how does the music industry lose? Easy, it becomes meaningless, then valueless, then gone.

      Of course, music will still be around, probably more music that more people like more, but that doesn't feed anybody who used to work in the industry of music industry; and that's what they're really afraid of.
    • "I even watch M-TV once in a while, something which I never did before."

      I thought you said you were a fan of music.
    • When Radiohead's "Kid A" first came out, someone at work brought in a copy she had burned off of Napster. I liked it a lot, but I thought two things were kinda wierd: the robotic voice that said "this will not be on the final disc" and the Steve Vai-esque extended guitar solo in the middle. Then someone else at work brought in the real CD, and neither of these things were present! Somehow, the tracks from Napster had been pre-release or something, or maybe even (in the case of the guitar solo) done by another artist altogether. Marcel Duchamp would've shit his pants in excitement. Napster introduced an element of randomness that in effect created a different CD! So now I had burned copies of Kid A: the Napster mix, and the real Kid A (which I prefer), both of which I now listen to. Here I am with 2 CD-Rs. Guess what I did next.

      I went out and bought a real copy of Kid A. Not exactly sure why, I guess partly to show my support for the artist and partly to get the packaging. I consider packaging to be a very important part of an album. I would've been alright listening to the CD-Rs, but I just liked it so much I had to buy it. Go figure.
    • snipped the whole bit about how a 20 year old discovered Morris Day & The Time

      Damn, I feel old now. When we were trying to come up with a motto for my high school graduating class's banner, one suggestion was "Oh-ee-oh-ee-oh" (from Jungle Love, of course).

      That was in, erm, nineteen-eighty-mumble. Back when 64K was a lot of RAM, in other words.

      Just wait, all you youngsters, one day the "old fogies' music channel" (or webcast, or whatever is left after the RIAA gets done with us) will be playing the songs you remember from high school. Bwahahaha!!

      • Really, someone suggested you're graduating class' banner should've been"Oh-ee-oh-ee-oh"? That's cool.

        That song is really great. Makes ya wanna get up and dance. I like the part in Purple Rain where Day and crew are on stage and all hopping or whatever to the left then to the right...it really goes along with those drum beats or whatever they are in the song.

        Imo, M-Day got a bad reputation by the movie "Purple Rain". People my age who saw that movie thought M-Day was a freakin' jerk, because in the movie he was such a prick to Prince; but in real life, they were friends.
  • ...i have to empathize with Mr. Ellison.
    Maybe his problem is that he expresses his points so viscerally, or maybe he doesn't understand all that well how this internet thing works (he's over 70 years old, so cut him some slack here). But his point is important.
    I mean, a paperbak costs what, 7, 8 bucks? You spend that in a movie that lasts a couple of hourse but can't be bothered to pay that for a book that woll last you for years, that you can share with friends and family and reread as much as you want?
    Really, among the artists, writers are the worst paid. Except for a few (maybe less than 10), writers need to keep a day job. If you enjoy someone's work, I don't see why you can't spare 10 bucks to buy the book.
    • ...i have to empathize with Mr. Ellison.

      What you and Harlan both fail to understand is that without sharing, nobody will hear of you and (eventually) buy your books.

      I've been buying SF books for about thirty years, and I have yet to buy any book because the cover art caught my eye. I started reading Clarke when I borrowed some of his books from my friends, and I bought his later books because I liked the earlier ones which I did not pay to read. Same with all the other authors I make a point of collecting.

      The more exposure an artist gets, the more money he will make. Nobody's going to pay to find out whether or not you suck.

      The software industry went through exactly this debate a few years back, and it's perfectly clear that the more an app is copied, the more people eventually buy it.

      The asinine premise that Harlan's promulgating is the same one that Bill Gates once did: that every copy made costs the owner the full retail price of the product. That would only be true if the person copying the work would buy it otherwise, which simply isn't the case. The warez kiddiez with their bootlegs of Autocad aren't going to pop for the pretty box and the annual tech support contract if alt.binaries.warez gets shut down.

      Hell, there are some books I've bought four or five times, because I keep lending them out to my friends and forgetting who I've lent them to.

      You can be damned sure I'm not going to buy one of Harlan's books again. If he didn't get his panties in a bunch about this guy posting scans of his stories on a newsgroup, he probably would have picked up a few more buyers, but Noooo....! Harlan's got to get paid every time someone reads one of his books, or he'll have a major hissy-fit.

      Now, if the guy were SELLING copies of Harlan's books without having obtained the rights to do so, sure, Harlan would be justified in having a shit-fit, but this is just like somebody xeroxing a book. Does anyone actually do that if they have the money to just buy it?

      -jcr
  • There is an article [radiofreenation.net] at Radio Free Nation about creating and using collaborative spaces (wikis) to wrest control away from the media giants who want to destroy fair use, individual's copyright and access to unfettered media.

    This might be a way to do it and it uses the same "waste not want not" approach as Seti@home. Wikis set up to serve an artistic community using only excess capacity.

    Got a some disk space and some bandwidth to spare on a Linux box with a DSL link? You can be a benevelent media mogul helping the creative community in your area.
  • Why? Because almost everyone understands, on at least a subconscious level, that "time is money." For the great majority of people, "saving" $4 or $5 is simply not worth the time and trouble they would have to go through to find a pirated edition

    Thank you.

  • "WHY SHOULD ANY ARTIST, OF ANY KIND, CONTINUE CREATING NEW WORK, EKING OUT AN EXISTENCE IN PURSUIT OF A CAREER, FOLLOWING THE MUSE, WHEN LITTLE INTERNET THIEVES, RODENTS WITHOUT ETHIC OR UNDERSTANDING, STEAL AND STEAL AND STEAL, CONVENIENCING THEMSELVES AND "SCREW THE AUTHOR"? WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IS THE DEATH OF THE PROFESSIONAL WRITER!"


    Now, because of the DMCA do we go to the library and remove all the fictional works? My county has a wonderful library system which contains so many works I couldn't guess how many individual books, audio, microfilm, movies and other forms of media.

    My local system takes donations, buys media and even copies a few things. There are several texts which are printed and bound for them - so you can borrow them.

    Certainly non-fiction is information, but are works of fiction? We have library systems; reading is not only a way to gain knowledge - but a fruitful way to entertain yourself. I can "check out" Ellison's work almost indefinitely.

    Do we now have precedent to shut down the library system? If he wins does that mean that we don't have a right to read his work without paying a fee?

    I think I'm starting to see a future where we have to pay to see everything...
    • Certainly non-fiction is information, but are works of fiction? We have library systems; reading is not only a way to gain knowledge - but a fruitful way to entertain yourself. I can "check out" Ellison's work almost indefinitely.

      Do we now have precedent to shut down the library system? If he wins does that mean that we don't have a right to read his work without paying a fee?

      Libraries don't lend out information, they lend out physical copies of items that contain information. When your public library lends out a HE novel, it lends out a copy that it bought. When someone posts a HE book to usenet, they send out several copies of a book that they didn't buy and have bought no rights to.

      The main difference between physical books and usenet distribution of books is that each and every physical book (with a cover on it) can be traced back to a sale.

  • Why does Flynt criticize Ellison, and then criticize a reader who wants to boycott Ellison.

    Flynt criticizes Ellison because he thinks his actions are wrongheaded and counterproductive based on a misconception of supposed lost sales. However, he also points out that Ellison has the right to pursue the actions that he is.

    Flynt criticizes the reader because he is trying to punish Ellison for performing these actions when 1) Ellison is already punishing himself by doing it, 2) The reader is punishing himself if he likes Ellison's work but is forcing himself not to for political reasons, and 3) the idea that this would cause Ellison to change his mind is silly (particularly if you know anything about him).

    My girlfriend won't read David Brin because he was rude to her once. I don't agree with everything David Brin says or writes, but I read it because it is well written, thought provoking, and mostly because I like it. I think she is punishing herself by not reading it, but oh, well.

    If I find that Ellison collection I may buy it, because it will be a good addition to my library, and Ellison deserves to be compensated for writing his stuff (and the publisher for publishing it, considering how few publishers do). This won't mean that I agree with his actions (I really don't agree with anyone who invokes DMCA, it is such a flawed law), but that I find his work interesting to read.

    If you don't like an author, don't buy their work. If you do, be self serving, buy it. That way they can publish more of it.

    my $.02
    • Perhaps boycott is the wrong word here. For instance, I am not boycotting Metallica. Whenever I happen to hear a Metallica tune; I feel disgust at yet another carriage maker bemoaning the automobile. I suppose that if I were a better person I could get past the behaivor of that greedy pighead Lars Ulrich but in this regard I'm sorry to admit I'm small and petty. I don't meet the ideal in this regard; so sue me....oh wait...someone probably will.

      If an artist is loud and obnoxious enough in their public life then it WILL change the light in which their art is seen. Sometimes the art can survive the opproprium an artist brings on himself but sometimes not. Lars Ulrich could put out what could have been the best music I have ever heard in my life. He will never ever have to worry about me using PAN to download it from USENET but then he won't have to worry about my buying it either. I'm disgusted with the little prick. Why would I want to leech anything of his?

      • I don't agree with Lar's marketing decisions, but I read Lars' rant, and he makes some very good points. He owns rights to his stuff, and if he wants to control distribution, it's most certainly his right.

        How much do we complain when our stuff is used in ways we don't like - like GPL'd code. We all own it, because we're in a social contract with it.

        Lars complaining about free sharing of his stuff is equivelant to us complaining about GPL'd code being taken into closed software.

        hanzie
        • Actually, I agree with Lars Ulrich too. The only thing wrong is too few people realising that Lars is right because he is one of the lucky few artists that actually own the copyright on their own songs.

          Why do you think Radiohead made friendly statements about Napster? Check a Radiohead CD for a laugh: all songs on it are © Universal Music. Even funnier in a sick way: how much have we seen Radiohead promoted by its label since they came out in favour of Napster? Think on the chilling implications of that.

          Mart (RIAA: Not just all your copyrights, but all your opinions too are belong to us)
  • Hey, I have most of his work in my library...I've been a big fan of HE for many years...heck, most of my life. But I refuse to buy anything new of his, not that he has produced much recently...But let him know that he is wrong...nicely...and that you do not agree with him.

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • Of course sharing doesn't hurt. If somebody asks me for a copy of something, and I am willing to give it to them, nobody is hurt. OTOH, if somebody asks me for a copy of something, and I don't feel like they are entitled to it, or would like to have some compensation for my time, or I'm from a society where it's considered polite to compensate, and the requester refuses to abide by the terms, then I am hurt. Not just financially either--emotionally too. It hurts to think that I am surrounded by people who feel entitled to reap where they have not sewn. God is just such a master, but few men are godly, and I will have none of them as my master.

    Ask yourself--would you feel comfortable copying something if the person who created it was in the room with you and knew what you were doing? Would the exchange be a polite exchange? Today, as always, virtue is what you do and say when the other party is not in the room.

  • Why is it that people who argue for stealing ("sharing") are never the ones who create any works in the first place? Why do they always want to share what others have with themselves?

    I am constantly amazed at the selfishness of these people, wrapped up in noblelistic and academic language. "Music should be free, because no one owns an idea". "Books should be free, because otherwise writers are just slaves to corporations".

    Just level with us and say what you really mean. "Books, music, and software should be free because I'm a cheap bastard and don't feel like paying for them if I can find a way to steal them and rationalize about it". Use as much rationalization as you need so that you can sleep at night, denying that you are stealing a single penny from anyone.

    Illegal copying is theft. It is legally wrong, and is ethically wrong. This is exactly the "free riding" ethical dilema. You can argue that jumping a turnstyle isn't a crime because you don't cause the subway any more expenses by cheating your way on than if you didn't ride. You're hoping that someone else pays the cost so you get your service. It's still wrong.

    Ralph
    • Note that the articles this thread is supposedly discussing are about willing sharing, by a fellow who not only created content but is actually sharing a whole lot of it himself. And even he does not condone theft--he suggests that its effects may be a lot less negative and more exaggerated than others make out, but he firmly supports authors' rights to make that decision for themselves.
  • Here's a guy who reflects our collective instincts, yet defends his stance towards Ellison (one which I agree with, BTW).
    I'm a bit to the right, he's a bit to the left, but you know what? He's cool all the same.
    Incidentally..
    If I'm conservative, why do I like Christopher Hitchens? (sp?)
    Perhaps because he's BullShit Free. He believes what he says. And also has Reasons for believing those things.
    Maybe we all *can* get along.. If we try.
  • Books, music, software have common elements with respect to distribution. Who is hurt by free copying of these products? I don't think authors are hurt.

    What's the difference between me and Erik Flint and Robert Heinlein? EVERYBODY THE HECK KNOWS WHO HEINLEIN IS. (Other differences include having a book deal and writing talent. Look at the New York Times Bestseller lists and you'll see books written by professional wrestlers. So, I presume that writing talent isn't everyting.)

    Let's go back to KNOWING who Erik Flint is. The more his books are copied, the more people are reading him. The more people who read him, the more people who might send some sheckles his way. If everyone in the free world reads Erik Flint, he'll be a bigger deal than Heinlein, or Clancy, or friggin' Faulkner.

    For this reason, I don't think "illegal" copying hurts the artist, author, or programmer. Now, it can hurt the publisher, since the publisher's pricing strategy is based upon the artificial scarcity it creates.

    The artist, author, and programmer are in a schitzo position: On one hand, we want EVERYONE to see our deathless prose. On the other hand, we want MAXIMUM payment for our work.

    They needn't be contradictory if we can come up with a way to allow unlimited copies at very low cost. What I think we'll eventually have is a tiered pricing scheme. The kids (like me) who haunted public libraries and checked out all the Heinlein books will pay with mindshare only. The poor college students who haunt used books stores (like me) will pay a little more. When they graduate, they'll start buying paperbacks. The professionals with good paying jobs (like me) will pay full price for the hardbook books.

    Conversely, the buying public may look at what appears to be greedy money grubbers, and say screw you. That's why I haven't bought any CDs lately.
  • The main problem with copyright today is that the term is too long. U.S. patents are now 20 years (it used to be 17 years from issue; it's now 20 years from filing, which works out about the same), and so should be copyrights.

On a clear disk you can seek forever.

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