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Comment Re:Fairly well known issue (Score 1) 567

To be honest, if the choice was between the current *AA or no new art, I think I would go with no new art.

That is one of the most profoundly stupid remarks I have seen on slashdot this year, and I browse at -1

I'm not the original poster, but let me try a rephrase of it:

Between the rights that are eroding due to *AA attempting to protect copyrighted mass distributed entertainment, and the production of new copyrighted mass distributed entertainment, I'd rather give up the production of new entertainment than the rights.

Does that make more sense to you?


Comment Re:The Supremely Stupid Court (Score 4, Informative) 420

The system is rigged to prevent any change by average people and you know it. Money buys you access, access buys you laws. Period.

It is rigged. How do you think it got that way?

By a problem in the design of the US election system combined with having a large country. The primary problem in the design is that there's a first-past-the-post election system combined with simple plurality voting. This leads to very heavy strategic voting ("Don't vote for a third party or your vote is wasted") locking in a bi-partisan situation (and, through "Attitudes follows behavior", mentality). A secondary problem is the use of campaign contributions for the main thrust of political campaigning; this leads to politicians being dependent on contributors to make the cut.

This means that for areas where people do not strongly care, the parties will not risk offending the contributors, as that may lead to the loss of the next election.

Having a large country strongly compounds that. If you have a country of three million people, an industry can spend 2 million in lobbying to do something that takes one dollar from each citizen, and make a million - 50% return on investment. In a country with 300 million, they can spend 200 million for the same law and get the same return on investment.

An individual citizen's relative voice scales the opposite way.

This makes a 100x difference in size into a 10,000x difference in relative influence. There's a couple of factors that bring these relative factors back a little bit - primarily, the time of politicians are limited, so you can't apply 100x more lobbying expense effectively in convincing people, and people get demotivated by being such a small cog, so the people that *do* have motivation have more access than they proportionally should. Also, much of the money goes to advertising, and that has some proportionality to the number of people reached; though there is a large fixed base.

But overall, these things taken together makes it hard to get influence. Things have to really enrage people to get them blocked if there's "bipartisan support".

Because people didn't care.

People didn't care because they feel like they have no chance of actually changing things - and unless there's work to fix the system, they're often right.

Is it beyond all hope? Depends. What are you going to do to change it?

Oh, right. Nothing.

I try to convince people that they need to hit the hydra at the base: Election reform. By informing people about it. (I can't vote in the US, and my care for the US internal politics is to a large degree compassion - I think the US people deserve a system of government that isn't unduly influenced by corporations.)

Comment Re:Just remember (Score 1) 403

They should care about your product because they take pride in their work, because they have personal integrity around the things they have taken on. This is a product of your selection of partners.

They should care about your product because you've communicated to them in a way that show that they're important and you care and your product is important - building loyalty to both you and the product. This is a product of your communication after you've hired them.

Comment Re:I understand, but... (Score 1) 716

I'd guess most of the western world, and possibly some of the non-western world. On the intentional homicides per capita list on Wikipedia, US is on the 26th place of 59 entries. Compared to population, there's 8.5x more homicides in the US than in Austria. However, the numbers are likely worse when it comes to billionaire risk: In Norway (where I'm originally from, 2nd spot on the list), almost all homicides are crimes of passion inside family; in the US, there's more criminally related homicides, a risk I'd expect to be increased for billionaires.

Comment Like wasting over 2000 lives at a penstroke (Score 1) 587

20 seconds per movie seen.

The rental market in the US is approximately $7.5 billion per year. If we assume $3 per rental average (Redbox is $1.25), and 1.5 people that watch the movie that's 75 billion seconds per year. Or 2376 years per year - but round down to 2000, we don't have more precision than that anyway.

The full, entire time of 2000 people. That's what ICE Director John Morton and his pals destroy to stroke their egos.


Comment Re:How can you quantify the loss? (Score 1) 663

You're confusing a factual observation about the world (A leads to people doing B) with a moral argument (A makes doing B OK). Placing diamond rings on a publicly accessible tray outside your jewelry shop leads to people stealing them; this don't make stealing them them OK. It also indicates that placing diamond rings on a public accessible tray outside your jewelry shop is unwise if you're optimizing for low amounts of theft.

Comment Re:Facts! Don't talk to me about facts! (Score 4, Insightful) 663

Let me start with saying that I don't pirate - but I disagree with your conclusions anyway.

Same thing applies to Slashdot. Threads of this exact nature pop up every 2 months or so for the last 10 years -- and the point they're trying to make is still incorrect.

The media owners have every right to choose their business model.

As long as they don't have a monopoly and don't collude to restrict consumer choice or set prices, that is.

Oh, they *do* have monopolies, granted by the government, and *do* collude? Then they've violated their end of the bargain.

The customer has every right to purchase, or not to purchase.

You don't want to spend 10 bucks on Avengers in a regular theater -- the MPAA cannot make you spend those 10 bucks. They can't make you spend 16 bucks to watch it in 3D either. They can't force you to buy the DVD or BluRay. They can't force you to rent it. You have every right to disagree with their terms, and not give them your business. But you don't have the right to obtain their media on terms they did not agree to.

You guys are simply discussing the wrong thing. The profitability of Avengers is 100% immaterial. The producer could choose to sell at 10x the price, or 1/100th (and take a loss). Their media, their choice. You choose to buy or not to buy (which is how you regulate their choice).

Let me rephrase: "You choose to participate or not participate in culture (which is how you regulate their choice.)"

This is a cost that's not reasonable for most people to take; it cuts off their references and ability to communicate.

As part of culture, the media is partially owned collectively by the culture, and partially owned by the people that produced it. This was recognized in the original constitutional basis for US copyright:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

(Emphasis mine).

Piracy is theft no matter how you dress it up.

DRM is theft no matter how you dress it up; theft from the commons.

Piracy is copyright infringement. It is a violation of rights granted by law, like battery is a violation of rights granted by law. But it isn't theft.

Also, I believe most piracy involve no loss to the original rightsholder - most piracy is performed by mass pirates, who would not have the financial capacity to buy more than a very small fraction of whatever they pirate in the first place, and most things they pirate they never get around to looking at, and would not have bought if it had any noticeable cost at all.

Comment Re:Well that's okay (Score 1) 650

I am saying that the unqualified term "democracy" technically refers to any system of government where the power comes from the people through voting. In popular usage, it generally refers to a representative democracy with limitations to who gets to vote. The term for what you're talking about is something like "direct democracy with unlimited participation", and it is sometimes called an "ideal democracy". Trying to redefine "democracy" to deflect criticism of the US system is (A) debating semantics, and (B) debating semantics incorrectly, and (C) choosing a definition that, in addition to being in violation of current and historical norms, is fairly much useless, and as a such is unlikely to be adopted more generally.

This misuse of the term seems to have become common over the last five years; I don't know where you all take it from, is there some kind of book or curriculum that has this misunderstanding in it, or is it some subculture that has the misunderstanding?

Where did *you* get your idea that "the US is a republic, not a democracy"?


Comment Re:Quote from article (Score 2) 650

According to a movie buff friend of mine, Hollywood have a historical cycle, and have gone through it a number of times (and I'm repeating this from memory): They start producing original stuff on low budgets. People are happy with this, and goes to the movies. Then, as time goes by, they increase the budgets, and try for more and more "safe" content, so lots more sequels. People get less happy, and overall goes to the movies less. Hollywood sees the market shrink, and starts trying to go even safer - more sequels, more "safe" formula, less broad investment, but more expensive sequels. People get really bored with movies, goes much less - and Hollywood gives up making money on the safe productions, and try a few experimental low budget movies. Some of these make money, so Hollywood plays a bit more - and the amount of people going to the movies go up again, and the cycle has started anew.

When I talked to my friend about this, we were hitting the tail end of that cycle (ie, lots of followups, few original movies, lower sales) when the movie studios were complaining most about piracy hurting them, a few years ago.

I don't know if this is true - I'm not that much of a movie buff, I can't really look at how things change from year to year and correlate that to profits - but it seems reasonable.

Comment Re:Well that's okay (Score 1) 650

With your definition of "democracy", nobody has democracy. You're beating up a straw man; to use the Wikipedia divisons, a republic is a legislative system, while democracy is a power source.

In this context, the quote is perfectly apt - it says that the power source in politics changed from the people (democracy) to money (acquired through capitalism, generally with perverted markets).

Comment Article & preprint (Score 2) 344

Their article is at PNAS (with an accessible preprint on Arxiv.org and has the following abstract:


Life arose on Earth sometime in the first few hundred million years after the young planet had cooled to the point that it could support water-based organisms on its surface. The early emergence of life on Earth has been taken as evidence that the probability of abiogenesis is high, if starting from young Earth-like conditions. We revisit this argument quantitatively in a Bayesian statistical framework. By constructing a simple model of the probability of abiogenesis, we calculate a Bayesian estimate of its posterior probability, given the data that life emerged fairly early in Earth’s history and that, billions of years later, curious creatures noted this fact and considered its implications. We find that, given only this very limited empirical information, the choice of Bayesian prior for the abiogenesis probability parameter has a dominant influence on the computed posterior probability. Although terrestrial life's early emergence provides evidence that life might be abundant in the universe if early-Earth-like conditions are common, the evidence is inconclusive and indeed is consistent with an arbitrarily low intrinsic probability of abiogenesis for plausible uninformative priors. Finding a single case of life arising independently of our lineage (on Earth, elsewhere in the solar system, or on an extrasolar planet) would provide much stronger evidence that abiogenesis is not extremely rare in the universe.

Comment Re:American Culture (Score 5, Informative) 274

It doesn't mean that the cow are fed cow meat at all. The prion that cause BSE can be created naturally through mutation, and then reproduce. This kind of mutation happens very occasionally, but it does happen often enough that we have seen it happen several times. This is believed to be such a case; to quote the Associated Press coverage:

Clifford said the California cow is what scientists call an atypical case of BSE, meaning that it didn't get the disease from eating infected cattle feed, which is important.

That means it's "just a random mutation that can happen every once in a great while in an animal," said Bruce Akey, director of the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University.


Comment Re:I Don't See the Parallelism Here ... (Score 1) 489

As far as I understand, by Title 17, Section 602 of the American copyright law:

602. Infringing importation of copies or phonorecords (a) Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106 [17 USC 106], actionable under section 501 [17 USC 501].

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.


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