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Communications Networking

Richard Stallman Talks On Copyright Vs. the People 329

holden writes "Richard M. Stallman recently gave a talk entitled Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks to the University of Waterloo Computer Science Club. The talk looks at the origin of copyright, and how it has evolved over time from something that originally served the benefit of the people to a tool used against them. In keeping with his wishes to use open formats, the talk and QA are available in ogg theora only."
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Richard Stallman Talks On Copyright Vs. the People

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @04:01AM (#19924177)
    RMS gave the same speech [] two years ago in Bulgaria.
  • by bronney ( 638318 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @04:39AM (#19924323) Homepage
    If you allow people leeway they will repay you back at a later date by supporting you.

    That's exactly how I bought fraps. When it first came out I was a poor student and couldn't afford the proggy. But I've tried it and it just kicks ass.

    Years later, when I become a poor designer, I shelled out the $40, and send the author a mail giving props. If I had never tried fraps I bet I would just pirate it to "see" how good it is and ended up not paying. But to revisit the site after all these years and see this guy still at it, with a lifetime upgrade, that $40 was one of the best $40 I've spent on useful stuff. Even more useful now with youtube.

    The same can be said for Wii. I am in Hong Kong and I can pirate the Wii like no tomorrow, but I chose not to in order to thank nintendo. After all these years of being the underdog, the big N never gave up on us and made something truly new. I don't even play much on it, but it's a good feeling.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @05:00AM (#19924401)
    I think he did answer indirectly, if the question is: How do I make money writing Free software? Then the answer is: You don't.
    For the same reason people don't make money selling mathmatical equations. It's not the math that should be your income, it's what you do with the math that should matter. Help design some new device and sell it or offer support for people or companies that value your knowledge of the math they use, that's how you should make a living.
  • by micronicos ( 344307 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @05:18AM (#19924495) Homepage
    They must be on a tiny pipe - I got the page once but no connection to pages or downloads/torrents after that. Interestingly - one week ago:

    It's easy enough to find out how long copyrights last, but much harder to decide how long they should last--but that didn't stop Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock from using economics formulas to answer the question. In a newly-released paper, Pollock pegs the "optimal level for copyright" at only 14 years. arch-optimal-copyright-term-is-14-years.html []

    Stallman rocks .... now where did I put my GNUs not Linux T-shirt?
  • by Merusdraconis ( 730732 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @05:54AM (#19924663) Homepage
    We have a very similar setup at Caravel Games []. Our product, the DROD series, started as an open source remake of a closed-source game, but as we eventually gathered enough fans clamouring for a sequel we found that we couldn't sell what we'd worked on without breaking the license, as it was built on the top of the open source engine.

    What we ended up doing is something rather unique: we sell the content we create, levels, voice acting, so on and so forth, and the game engine (including the editor we used to make the game) is free. Because DROD is a niche game that doesn't appeal to everybody, this works out well: players can play and create user-made levels to their heart's content, and most will enjoy the game enough to want to see 'everything', and to support the creators, so they'll pay for the stuff we create. It also helps build a community around the game. (We also let people get full versions of the game for other operating systems for free for the same reason - they've paid for the content, not the code they play it on.)
  • Re:anime industry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @06:03AM (#19924695)
    I too have bought many an anime after having first sampled them for free via fansubs. I also hear plenty of anecdotal evidence that many other people do the same. It's basically impossible to get any hard numbers on how much good fansubbing ultimately does for the industry, but my general impression (as someone who frequents multiple anime forums, one of which belongs to an anime distributor, and sells anime and manga for a living) is that it is more good than harm, by a pretty decent margin.

    But fansubs being a hell of a lot better than proper DVD subs? No way. The way you're describing the DVD subtitles though, it sounds suspiciously like you've been buying Hong Kong bootlegged DVDs, in which case you gain absolutely zero karma points for having bought the show after watching it fansubbed.
  • Re:anime industry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lunarsight ( 1053230 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @06:44AM (#19924869) Homepage
    I actually find I'm that way with music. Bands that do offer their music for free online I am quick to support when they have a legit album for sale. On the other hand, bands on those major record labels that are notorious for suing everything with a pulse - I'm very reluctant to support acts like this. (It seems like when you do, you're just giving the RIAA and like groups more money to do their litigation thing with.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:18AM (#19926527)
    This scheme is the solution:

      1. Bring back copyright registration. A work is only protected, if it is in a government database.

      2. To register a work, you must pay a $1 fee. It gives you protection for one year.

      3. You can extend the copyright indefinitely. The second year costs $2, the third year costs $4, the fourth $8 and so on.

      4. When a the copyright is no longer extended, the work falls in the public domain.

    That way, even the poorest artist can afford to register their work: $15 buys you protection for four full years!

    Even ten years is not that much: $1023. And if you really find a money-maker, a million dollars buys you a 20-year monopoly to the income stream. And Disney should be happy: if they have something really worthwhile, a billion dollars shouldn't be too much for a 30-year exclusive arrangement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:59AM (#19927961)
    Most programmers never own the copyrights on what they make. Most of them work for corporations developing software to support business processes and for internal use. Only a fraction of software is developed for resale, and of that, only a fraction is shrink-wrapped.

    So the the bulk of companies selling software make their money by providing services after the fact. Think of like an SAP where the basic program by itself is useless without paying someone many $Millions to customize and install. Windows & Microsoft are the real anomalies out there. They sell software direct to consumers.

    Programmers probably do okay financially without owning copyrights. So the argument that without copyrights programmers will live in cardboard boxes isn't backed up by the reality today.
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @12:02PM (#19927995) Homepage
    It's stupid because he was mixing up Free (as in Freedom) with free (as in beer). It's a common misconception.

    Actually that is just a cop out from Stallman. If you read his texts he is often a proponent of "free beer" software and attacks people who sell software, but when you take him to task the cops out and says "you don't understand I was talking about Free as in Freedom". Bollocks! No he wasn't. In fact most of his fights with Linus are precisely about. Linux is free as in Freedom and this irks Stallman: he wants it to be free as in beer.
  • by Deskpoet ( 215561 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @01:17PM (#19929183) Homepage Journal
    And the best way to maximize profits is to give the consumer what they want. Companies that are successful are usually very good at delivering things people want and usually at a price people can afford.


    Companies MAY be successful as you say, but it's certainly not as categorical as you state.

    Indeed, your description of how things work may be valid only in your Platonic Form World; down here on Terra, companies are ruled by the spiritual grandchilden of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Hearst. In this instance of reality, these people employ a whole industry (advertising) who's sole purpose is to CREATE WANT in the "people". THAT is how profits are maximized; whether people really want or need those things comes in a very distant second to freeing up their purse strings.

  • Re:anime industry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beyondkaoru ( 1008447 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#19930565) Homepage

    But fansubs being a hell of a lot better than proper DVD subs? No way.
    yes way. it's better recently, but, say, back in the 90's, official translations were often abysmal. not bootlegs, real licensed stuff. they sometimes still are bad. many times, even now, the subtitles will just be whatever they say in the english dub. to make the english dub, they have to translate optimizing for lip movements, rather than accuracy.

    this is debated all the time, but i think the overall view is that there are plenty of times fansubs are a hell of a lot better than proper DVD subs, even if it is generally not the case.
  • by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @04:04PM (#19931781)
    Take a look at ID software's Quake and Doom series. Once the game stops being mainstream the engine is released under the GPL license but the game content (e.g. the game and the reason for purchasing it) is still proprietary and commercial.

    So you get several approaches from it, the engine continues to be maintained (see FuhQuake and QuakeForge) for people still playing the original game and it's mods, but commercial games can still be created using the engine as a pre-developed platform allowing developers to focus more on creating good content and playable games instead of splarting hundereds of thousands on commercial development (e.g. the equivilent of licensing the game engine from ID software directly, but it's open-source).

    When game engines become open-source, I've seen nothing but benifits in all cases, with the exception that cheating becomes much easier (which in tight knit gaming communities isn't a problem).

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982