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Comment Re:What's a good alternative? (Score 2) 764

Consider the BeBook Neo or Club readers. These will read many of the popular ebook formats.

Some libertarian-minded commenters here seem to think that Amazon is operating strictly within a "self-regulating" free market and ought to have the rights of private individuals and especially conservatives, who demand the freedom to ignore externalities. In fact Amazon actively engages in monopolistic practices and resists free markets. (I'll avoid the larger issue that Amazon depends deeply on government to ensure that markets it operates in function under controlled conditions, but resists acknowledging this and tries to avoid paying for the services it takes for granted, such as trademark, copyright, trade secret and patent protection--like many companies.)

I used to have an Amazon Kindle. They advertise low prices for electronic books. But those purchases are tied to an Amazon Kindle account, not to you. You cannot transfer a book you have read to someone else, as if it were a real book. The analogy between physical property and intellectual property breaks down. Amazon controls downstream copies of the electronic books you purchase from them. You pay $9.99 to Amazon for an ebook in the mistaken belief that you are saving money on the purchase of merchandise that purportedly behaves like physical property. In fact, that $9.99 helps Amazon stifle markets. If I sold you my Amazon Kindle with the books I purchased, and you re-registered the Kindle in your name, my books would vanish. It would be as if I sold you my bookshelf with books I purchased from Amazon, and Amazon removed the books once you claimed the bookshelf.

You could say that I agreed to whatever terms Amazon devised. Fine: not acknowledging that Amazon's monopolistic practices have nothing to do with free markets is ideology. And that is one reason why I am recommending the BeBook reader.

Submission + - US to extradite bank execs for lower interest (

An anonymous reader writes: The United States is currently involved in complex negotiations with foreign sovereign holders of United States debt to induce them to agree to lower principal and interest. The intricate multi-party negotiations have been described as the most ambitious attempt by the government so far to address the interest portion of the US Federal deficit. While the precise details of the complex deliberations are secret, the most intriguing aspect of the negotiations to have come out is the proposal to extradite, in exchange for reduced principal and interest, bank executives considered highly criminally liable for their role in the global financial crisis.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity and who had knowledge of the negotiations praised the effort to “outsource some of the regulatory burden” to countries “whose legal regimes differ from the US.” The official stated that the extradition agreements would lead to reduced transaction costs and improved trading relations with foreign investors.

Comment Re:Linking != publishing (Score 1) 369

If linking is publishing, then the RIAA and MPAA are plagiarists, because they claim that something you published (a citation) violates their intellectual property. Their attempted identity theft by passing off a citation you wrote as if it were protected by their copyright is reason enough to avoid business with the companies they represent.

If linking is publishing, then citation is publishing [citation needed], and we are all guilty by transitivity.

Comment The music industry is economically insignificant (Score 2) 369

There were around $15.8 billion in sales in "premium content" in 2010. No economist would consider this industry economically significant, but we have intellectual monopolists shrieking that piracy is shutting down the economy.

But stifling natural markets is destroying the economy: the intellectual monopolists demand control over all copies (of a piece of music, movie, article, etc). This limits your ability to sell or give away the copy you purchased. The downstream control of all copies of a copyrighted work is completely unlike physical property, so the analogy between intellectual property and physical property breaks down.

The phrase "linking is publishing" is misleading. Copyright protects specific forms of expression; unless the link occurs within the copyrighted page (and even in that case), it is a new form of expression. A link is a citation. The claim that citations violate the intellectual property of the owner of some cited work is worse than copyright violation: it is plagiarism. In this case, the intellectual monopolist is claiming that a work he did not produce, the citation, is his own. This is plagiarism, which involves identity theft--a social evil.

If "linking is publishing" then "citation is publishing" and we are all guilty by transitivity.

It is because intellectual monopolists like the music and movie industry want to make their plagiarism your copyright problem that I avoid listening to their music and watching their movies. Thanks to their efforts to limit competition, it's rubbish anyway.

Comment Why I will not donate to Wikipedia (Score 1) 608

My attempt join the Wikipedia community was prematurely cut short when an admin blocked a range of 8192 Verizon IP addresses. I found this out when attempting to edit my user page. My attempted appeal was summarily dismissed--there is no mechanism for distinguishing legitimate users from vandals. To add insult to injury, Wikipedia requires that the appeal remain on my talk page until the range block is lifted some time in 2011. Until then, I will not be donating to Wikipedia. There are plenty of other worthy causes.

Comment Some of us left PayPal (Score 1) 565

Some of us voted with our feet and closed our PayPal, eBay and Amazon accounts. This may have had an effect as well. I'm proud to have jettisoned PayPal in protest and urge others to do likewise. The news that PayPal is giving WikiLeaks its money hasn't made the Times, not surprisingly.

Comment Re:FedEx? (Score 0, Offtopic) 165

If you believe in limited government, then it follows that it's a matter of corporate policy whether to ship radioactive materials, which would be completely unregulated. The free market would decide where those rods would end up, and disclosing anything about them would be strictly determined be the effect on the bottom line.

Comment Re:Mine is: (Score 1) 297

I've completely opted out of flying commercially since 2001. That's a protest that allows me to vote with my wallet. It has transferred tens of thousands of dollars away from the airlines, and I expect that trend to continue.

Same here, only in my case it's more of a conscious effort than a behavioral trend that I happen to be monitoring.

Comment Re:Let the market decide is stupid (Score 1) 367

I was being ironic: the market cannot solve all problems. I'm in favor of trademarks--a big government sponsored social program for business. I'm also in favor of copyright reform. For a reference on intellectual monopoly, I suggest Against Intellectual Monopoly a free online text by economists Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. I also recommend their web site Against Monopoly. Intellectual monopoly is the exclusive "...right to control how purchasers make use of an idea or creation." This refers to all copies of an idea or creation. Boldrin and Levine assert that "not only should the property rights of innovators be protected but also the rights of those who have legitimately obtained a copy of the idea, directly or indirectly, from the original innovator." It is an empirical and not an ideological question whether and to what extent creators should "...have the right to control how purchasers make use of an idea or creation." The evidence I've seen is that copyrights and patents overwhelmingly favor moneyed interests at the expense of innovators and at significant social cost.

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Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.