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Comment Re:Better plots? (Score 1) 1029

Well, some effects are okay.

Unless you changed the setting to the current day (Gatsby as drug dealer?) you can't use real footage of New York unless you only have fairly tight shots outside in front of buildings that are from the 20s and can be 'dressed up' to their appearance from that time. (More neon, fewer translucent plastic panel signs, etc.). Some effects like matte paintings can be used for establishing shots and replacement backgrounds, or even entire shots minus the actors. Here's an example:

I agree that too much of this would cause the budget to balloon, and wouldn't add anything of quality to the movie, but used judiciously, I think effects can be worthwhile and not break the bank.

Comment Re:Why shouldn't they be free to decide their pric (Score 1) 383

According to wikipedia, this is Free Speech, Article 11:

The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.


You know, I like the French Revolution as much as anyone, and these days, with all the corruption, abuse, and incompetence in our politics, financial institutions, industry, and so on, maybe it would be a good idea to set up and use some guillotines in Washington, in our capitals, on Wall Street, etc., pour encourager les autres.

But what you quoted there is not a general definition of a natural right of free speech. Instead, you quoted from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man from August, 1789. It's deeply ironic that you would post that given that the French had just abolished copyright law early in the previous month and wouldn't get around to establishing a new general copyright law until 1793 IIRC. (There were a couple of laws regarding performing plays as early as 1791, but they mainly seem to have been concerned with breaking down monopolies)

So leaving fun-filled France behind, maybe instead of going to Wikipedia and just using the first thing you saw on the page that looked like you could quote it, let's at the very least look to see if there was a part of the very same damn Wikipedia page that you could have quoted instead, had you bothered to read even a tiny bit further. How about this:

In Areopagitica, published without a license,[John] Milton made an impassioned plea for freedom of expression and toleration of falsehood, stating:

"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties"

Based on John Milton's arguments, freedom of speech is understood as a multi-faceted right that includes not only the right to express, or disseminate, information and ideas, but three further distinct aspects:

the right to seek information and ideas;
the right to receive information and ideas;
the right to impart information and ideas

Here in the US, we took a fairly strong stance on this early on, at least on paper, with the First Amendment guaranteeing this (pre-existing, natural right):

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press

And while some prominent figures support the idea of an absolute guarantee of free speech (Hugo Black, William O Douglas), the problem is that most people and most governments formed by those people, are pussies about it. So instead of at least taking an absolutist starting position and then maybe (but hopefully not) nibbling away at it, often one sees things like the sort of language you approvingly quoted, in which people are guaranteed free speech as long as it isn't the slightest bit inconvenient for those in power.

Anyway, though, the presence of utterly hypocritical and utterly repulsive pro-censorship language in guarantees of free speech still doesn't support your position. After all, free speech is an inherent right. It isn't granted by the state. And if the state infringes on it in a way that it claims is legal, that doesn't make it any less of an infringement. Whether a state oppresses its people a little or a lot, it's always the same thing.

That is, free speech does not give you right to infringe on the rights of others, specifically, authors and publishers' right to profit from their literary works.

No. There is no natural right to a copyright. A copyright is inherently, inescapably, censorship. It's a power of censorship that the state grants to a copyright holder, rather than exercising for itself, and it's a power used for avaricious purposes, rather than the more common purpose of securing and maintaining political power; but at the end of the day, being told that you cannot engage in some speech because it is seditious is little different than being told that you cannot because it doesn't respect the greed of the copyright holder.

Copyright and free speech are opposed to one another. You can't have both be natural rights. Plunk people down in a state of nature, and you'll see them engage in free speech straight away. But what we call copyright didn't even appear on the planet until 1710, and then only in England, and didn't seriously catch on until the 19th century and then largely helped along by European colonialism, which was generally a shitty thing.

The reason, of course, is that copyright is wholly artificial. And it could never be justified -- among those who think it can be justified -- as simply being infringement of free speech in order to let copyright holders charge monopolistic prices for books and such. No, it has to be justified as being beneficial to the very same public who has to suffer the embarrassment of copyright's existence.

opyrighted works don't fall under freedom of speech because they are already widely available for a very low price -- so it's already virtually free

First, that is not even a little bit true; copyrighted works are typically less available than public domain works. And always less available if you control for varying levels of popularity, simply because all else being equal, public domain works can be published by anyone, anywhere, without needing permission, and without any charge.

Second, are you not a native English speaker? "Free" has two very different meanings here. I have been talking about free speech in the sense that there is a liberty to speak. Why you suddenly jumped into "virtually free" as in, it has a low but greater than zero monetary cost, is beyond me. It's totally a non sequitur.

Copying and distributing copyrighted works has very little to do with freedom of speech -- that copyrighted material is not yours to distribute

The only thing preventing it is copyright. And eventually, the copyright on a work vanishes, and then nothing prevents it.

And just for those people following along at home, the original point of all this was that someone claimed that Apple ought to have the right to collude with publishers because they should be free to have any business arrangements they want and that no one should be able to dictate to them what they can and cannot do.

And I had pointed out that if no one can dictate what people can and cannot do, there is no grounds for copyright, which is a copyright holder empowered by the state, itself empowered by the willingness of the people to be governed by it, telling people what they can and cannot do.

If copyright can legitimately exist, then so can antitrust law.

Comment Re:Yes, all works are derivative. (Score 1) 344

Although do remember that you are allowed to copy the original via the copy. The derivative copyright only applies to the portion of the derivative work which is new. Old material that reappears in the derivative work is fair game. So if you could carefully extract only the non-Disney parts from, say, Disney's Cinderella, you'd be fine even though you took that particular route.

Comment Re:Translation is a copyright owner's exclusive ri (Score 1) 344

In the US fair use is basically a tautology: a fair use is an otherwise infringing use which is fair under the circumstances. Any use might be fair, but not every use will be. There is no rule that all quotes or all educational uses or all time shifting is fair, you see. Each individual use must be analyzed anew and will depend on the circumstances in the case at hand.

So all fan translation and subtitling of movies isn't a fair use because it's too generic. A specific instance of a specific fan translating and subtitling a movie, under just the right circumstances, however, could be fair.

The previous poster was referencing some of those factors, so it seems that be knows more about fair use in the US than you do.

Comment Re:Translation is a copyright owner's exclusive ri (Score 1) 344

Makes sense to me. The purpose of copyright is twofold: first, to incentivize authors to create and publish works which they otherwise would not have created and published; and also to place those works into the public domain, so that they're the most useful to the public, as fully and quickly as possible.

Remember, what was said was:

You aren't allowed to muck with someone else's work without their permission.

Copyright exists to foster what you would describe as piracy.

Which is to say, copyright has as a goal placing as many works as possible, as quickly and fully as possible, in the public domain, so that they can be mucked about with, without anyone's permission.

Comment Re:Only in US-style banana republics. (Score 1) 344

(note that in teh abstract normalization of laws acros borders is a good thing)

Oh, I disagree. Sometimes it's good, but plenty of laws are neither better nor worse than alternatives (including not having the law), and should be chosen according to local preferences, rather than what everyone else is doing.

For copyright there's no need for harmonization at all; let each country do what's good for its own people, and merely coordinate informally to avoid situations where two countries have laws which are so incompatible that an author who wanted a copyright in both has to choose between one or the other.

Comment Re:Why shouldn't they be free to decide their pric (Score 1) 383

Those books are public domain because their copyright has expired. You're free to print em, change em, do anything you want.

So I guess I do have a free speech right to copy works made by other people. Since the expiration of copyright doesn't grant me any rights, but merely removes rights that had been granted to the author, and since it's rather odd to claim that free speech is a right which flows from the state to the people, I guess I must have the same right even as to copyrighted works. Copyright infringes on my right while it subsists, but there doesn't appear to be any other way of making sense of this.

Oh, and BTW, Oliver Twist was never copyrighted in the US; we didn't grant foreign authors copyrights until much later. I just chose those works because the authors hated people copying their work, legally or not.

Comment Re:one step in a series. (Score 3, Insightful) 383

Let me clarify: a publisher can whip up copies of a book as easily or more easily than a pirate can. Yes, the initial creation of the book is difficult and costly, but the marginal cost of each copy thereafter is not greater for the publisher than the pirate merely due to the state to which technology has advanced. I was never addressing the issue of paying for the labor needed to get the book ready to publish to begin with; those sunk costs are not going away and are not too closely linked to publishing technology. Hell, some authors still write books longhand.

For example, if the cheapest way to print a paper book is to use a huge offset press, publishers likely have an advantage over pirates who will either have to conceal their huge illegal printing operation or use inferior techniques, such as xeroxing books one at a time. OTOH, if xeroxing books one at a time somehow happened to become a cheaper means of printing than anything else, the legitimate publishers would have the offset press hauled away, install a bunch of xerox machines, and still not be behind the curve of the pirates.

Digital distribution has greatly reduced the risks, while digital copying has eliminated the investment and greatly increased the profit margin

That only brings pirates toward technological parity. Legitimate publishers are not prohibited from using the latest tools. It may be difficult for them to figure out how to make money whilst selling books over Bit Torrent or whatever the kids are using these days, but they needn't be shackled to the old ways.

Comment Re:Why shouldn't they be free to decide their pric (Score 1) 383

Stealing the property of others without payment is not free speech.

So if I print up a copy of Oliver Twist or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, without paying Dickens or Twain, you're saying that that would be stealing and that I could not assert a free speech right against the state if they tried to shut me down? News to me.

BTW, property law is also a matter of consensus. Get enough people together and you can change who owns property regardless of the consent of the previous owners or possessors. If you don't believe me, take a look at how the US came to control much of North America.

Copyright ensures payment to the creators of the creative work in exchange for payment from the consumer. The payment encourages and supports the creative class to create more work, and so on.

I'm sure you've badly misworded whatever you were trying to say; what you have there is classic 'heads, I win' (authors get paid), 'tails, you lose' (in exchange for readers getting to pay).

Copyright is utilitarian through and through, and can be thought of best as a means of exploiting authors for the benefit of the public. The authors get something out of it, but it's a bit like how dairy farmers deign to feed their cows, even though all the farmer really wants is the milk. If starving the cows worked better, he'd do it. We give authors a chance to get money (not even guaranteed money!) because it's convenient for us. Not because it is right or fair or other such crap. If we were concerned with authors having a comfortable life because it was fair, we would give everyone such a life; only giving it to authors would not be fair.

Comment Re:Why shouldn't they be free to decide their pric (Score 1) 383

I don't recall voluntarily agreeing to copyright laws. Why, then, should I be obligated to obey them? Especially given that it infringes on my right of free speech to be forbidden to copy a work, regardless of whether it originated with me or not.

The answer of course is that majorities tend to rule, and if a majority has a legitimate power to establish a copyright law, they likely have a legitimate power to establish an antitrust law.

Oh, and BTW, I think you may have misunderstood what an ad hominem argument is. When someone says that you're stupid, and that therefore because you are stupid, your argument is wrong, that is an ad hominem argument. It's fallacious because even stupid people can make valid arguments; out of the mouths of babes and all that. OTOH, when someone says that your argument is wrong, and also that you're stupid (not as a necessary consequence of having made a wrong argument, mind; everyone makes mistakes), that isn't an ad hominem, that's just an insult. Maybe it doesn't do much for the quality of the debate, but it can have a certain rhetorical usefulness, and it can be fun, you dipshit.

Comment Re:one step in a series. (Score 3, Interesting) 383

There is one fundamental difference from books vs ebooks: ebooks can be cloned perfectly in a split of a millisecond. Books cannot. This was a limitation of the analog world. Now, in the digital age, this limitation has vanished.

Meh. There's no technology that favors pirates more than it does legitimate publishers. At most there is parity; a publisher can whip up millions of ebooks with minimal effort and cost just as easily as a pirate can. At worst the publisher will have an advantage if only due to being able to work openly.

Before ebooks, pirates could operate printing presses. Before presses, pirates could employ scribes. Before literacy, pirates could memorize the epic poems that were passed down orally.

I fail to see how the landscape has changed so radically. All that's changed is that the up front costs to publish a book quickly and easily -- legitimately or as a pirate -- have dropped a lot.

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