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Comment Re:It's not confusing anything (Score 1) 634

You show clearly why it shouldn't be called theft - it leads to confusion in people like yourself.

Copying is not taking. If somebody looks carefully at your hours and builds an identical house to the one you had, you are not deprived of your house.

When my jobless friend copied 17,000 books last year, authors and publishers were not deprived of their books. Neither were they deprived of the income from selling 17,000 copies of books - he could never afford it. They may ultimately be deprived of some purchases of their books (he can afford to do some purchases); but this is through competition. If he use the collection as his only source of reading material, he's unlikely to run out for a long time - so both authors in the collection and out of the collection will be hit. The same as if he used the public library as his only source of reading material. And it is possible he'll get into series or authors and buy more of them from having copied; and possibly even buy more overall. I know that I bought much more music when I started using Napster than I did before, and bought much less music after Napster closed and I stopped having a ton of music at my fingertips.

The situation is complicated, and there is no "taking" - there is only copying, and its positive and negative effects. Collapsing that to "taking" and "theft" is unlikely to lead to a good resolution for anybody.

Comment Re:RMS thinks giving other people's shit away is g (Score 1) 634

Using "stealing" or "theft" to refer to copyright infringement brings over associations from physical theft. This leads to a less clear way of thinking, and my general impression is that *everybody* that misuse the words that way are fuzzy on the actual effects of copyright infringement.

Can you please list a few cases where copyright infringement is of benefit to the copyright holder, to jog in place and clean up your mind?

For your help, I'll start with listing the case where it is directly deterimental: When the infringer does not buy a copy of the original work, but would have bought a copy if (s)he did not have the infringing copy.

Comment Re:RMS thinks giving other people's shit away is g (Score 1) 634

RMS would agree with most of what you say. The musician Alice can take $2 for giving a copy to Bob - the question is if the musician ethically can ask society use violence[1] to enforce that Bob cannot give a copy to Carol.

RMS would, as far as I've understood him, say that it is never appropriate for society to use violence for this.

You seem to say that it is more or less generally appropriate.

I consider it to be appropriate if Alice is engaged in large scale copying for profit, but consider the collateral damage from using violence in cases of private copying to be too high. In economic-speak, the transaction cost for getting justice through the justice system is so high that having this be an offense leads to people that are accused paying a "settlement" even if they're innocent. I would also have to - the standard settlement is less costly than the risk of having the system fail.

I also consider private copying to be unlikely to be possible to regulate. It is fairly simple to do piracy securely; and over time, it will only get easier. In ten to thirty years, every teenager will have a digital copy of every song, book and movie ever made - if necessary, they'll just copy hard drive to hard drive (or SSD to SSD) when they meet up.

And the problem in regulating this is that it don't fit with people's feeling of justice. There is no harm in making a copy of something. The harm is in not buying something - but we don't try to regulate away "not buying", we try to punish copying.


[1] Including monetary confiscation, which is based in violence or the threat of violence; without the government's monopoly on the use of violence, this could not be done through the courts.

Comment Minor misevaluation in the filing (Score 1) 166

I think the filing is very well argued and makes a good case (that's a non-lawyer opinion.)

However, there is one minor point where it seems to miss the point: In talking about being in the same swarm at the same time not (always) leading to communication, it assumes the swarm is large. If the swarm is very small, being in it at the same time can force communication - the trivial example being if the only members of the swarm are the investigators and the downloader. In this case, there would seem to be a separate defense, albeit a weird one: The downloader only downloaded from the investigator (and only uploaded to the investigator), and has to be authorized to access and distribute the content in order to do the investigation, so the downloader cannot be in violation.

Comment Moving it elsewhere may not help (Score 1) 284

I would not immediately assume that moving it somewhere else will increase uptime; it puts uptime requirements on the Internet link(s) instead of on the server or software setup. Unless the present setup is quite unreliable or he has a surprisingly good link, I think that would likely be a worse problem.

Now, the idea that you can't afford multiple server nodes: Servers can be very, very cheap. For my home server I use an Acer Revo 3600 I paid 200 euro for; the closest available today seems to be (at about $220 including shipping.) Assuming you don't have a license cost problem, this allows you to create a cluster for a very low cost.

Apart from that, I'd analyse what your costs are for a failure, and what the odds of a failure are, and whether your tinkering increase or decrease the odds. I'd assume the odds were fairly small to start with; in that case, it may not make any sense to tinker with the setup to create something that is supposed to be more available. I've easily had several years of uptime on single systems; introducing complexity makes that harder, and if you lack the experience with how to deal with these systems, that's likely to increase the risk. (What happens if somebody start your failover by mistake? What happens if both instances are running? etc)

For your particular use case, it sounds like I'd rather have a good alternative system for handling it if your system fails (pen and paper sounds good), and try to beef up the single machine - place it somewhere it won't have dust, vibration and heat problems, use multiple network cards to avoid risk of cable failure, use reliable disks & RAID, have a good UPS with monitoring, etc.

Comment Re:in related news (Score 1) 126

"Each patent is a restriction on all humanity except the one who was granted exclusive ownership."

For each patent, the patentee PAID a significant amount of money to give YOU an accurate description (the patent) of exactly how the invention works

I have a couple of nice bridges for sale: One in Brooklyn (a neo-Gothic style bridge; it's a suspension/cable-stay hybrid bridge with granite pillars), and another one in San Francisco (a classical steel suspension bridge from 1933, painted a bright orange, and inspiration for many later bridges). The former has *no road tolls* applied, and the latter has low tolls (down to $3). These can be raised, and there's a nice income opportunity. The bridges are also designated as historical landmarks, so you have a separate income stream available by charging tourists for pictures and guided tours.

Of course, given the above descriptions you could easily copy them yourselves without having to invent anything, but I know that since you got the descriptions from me, you'd never do that.

What's your best offer?


Comment Re:Lets Stick to Software Patents (Score 1) 126

It's not entirely clear that they're good for whoever holds them. IBM is the largest patent holder in the world; a statistical sample all by itself. One of the high up guys in IBM[1] claimed patents where 10x more valuable to IBM as defense against other companies suing them compared to licensing revenues. Another way to look at this is that if 10% of patents transfer to non-practicing entities (patent trolls), then patents are a net negative for IBM.

And this ignore all indirect costs of patents on society that hit IBM indirectly.

[1] Lead patent attorney or CFO or similar; it was credited when I originally read about this, but I don't remember the name or exact source.

Comment Re:for artists? (Score 1) 713

The point is that the owner of copyright should be free to dictate the terms under which others can access that content. There's no ethical or moral argument that really holds water to contradict that.

I disagree with that. If the work has influence on a person, that person has a moral interest in it.

Let's start with a simple ethical hypothetical, just to demonstrate that there exists situations where your dictum fails completely:

Postulate a religion based on an obscure science fiction book; say, Roger MacBride Allen's Torch of Honor. (We've already got that kind of thing going on with Scientology.) Say they consider the book so important that they will kill those that can't answer questions about it - and their families. Say this religion gets significant in an area. Say Rober MacBride Allen choose to raise the price of a copy of the book from $8 to $200000 because he finds that's the price that's likely to make him the most money.

I postulate that it would ethical for a parent to get hold of a pirate copy of the book to protect their children.

"But that's completely made up!" I hear you say. Yes. That's not at issue. The issue is that we can construct situations where it is ethical to use a work in violation of the terms a copyright owners wants to dictate, because the copyright holder is behaving unreasonably.

So the question up for debate is "What are these situations, and does any of the common pirate copying fit with such a situation?"

Comment Re:$1200 is not a good price (Score 3, Insightful) 299

For what I need, I'm probably going to install Unix (FreeBSD or Linux) on it and be paying an extra $1000 or so primarily for a better trackpad and an easier to connect/disconnect power supply chord - and that is worth it to me.

I've just got to say, holy fuck!

I usually have a computer for 3 to 5 years; let's say four years on average. That's less than 70 cents a day. I use it for a fair bit of time every day, and I immediately appreciate a better trackpad (and regularly appreciate slot loading as opposed to tray loading DVD; forgot that annoyance point). I also am more likely to move to a better spot (more ergonomically wise) if there's no hassle with the power supply cord, and I'm less likely to get the machine damaged or trip from the power supply cord with the better connection.

All in all, it's worth 70 cents a day to me. If I was extremely money constrained in general, it might not be - but I have a comfortable income and having the computer I spend a lot of time on be comfortable to me is worth it.

Comment Re:$1200 is not a good price (Score 1, Interesting) 299

"They do sell millions to customers each quarter that fulfills their needs as some people want an Ultrabook"

Of course some people want them - the same way some people want a pair of Jimmy Choos when a $50 pair of shoes would do the same job. Its a fashion item for rich fashion victims. Most people who buy an ultrabook probably couldn't even spell ethernet port much less tell you what one is. But its sooo shiny and sleak and preeeetty .... *drool*

"I would venture to say that few of them judge you while you judge them."

Oh I feel so guilty judging people on a forum. Whatever next, subjective opinions?

I know a bunch of people that has these, all of which can deal with networks fairly well (including one who wrote one of the first major books on IPv6, almost a decade ago.)

They've got different priorities than you and me, but they clearly know what they are getting and do a conscious choice around it. My laptops are a MacBook Pro for work and a Lenovo for home use; I prefer the increased memory and screen size on the MacBook Pro compared to the easier-to-carry form factor of the ultralights. I'll probably switch from the Lenovo to a Mac Book Pro for my next home machine; the ergonomics of the hardware on the Lenovo is a bit clunky compared to the MacBook Pro. For what I need, I'm probably going to install Unix (FreeBSD or Linux) on it and be paying an extra $1000 or so primarily for a better trackpad and an easier to connect/disconnect power supply chord - and that is worth it to me. (I'm happy that it looks a less clunky as well, but that's not something I'd pay extra for, or I'd not have gotten the Lenovo in the first place.)

Comment Re:Code reinvestment and positive feedback loops. (Score 1) 178

Apple chose to invest in the BSD codebase because they could do this, and would likely otherwise have gone a completely different route (e.g, licensing vxWorks as a base.) So having Apple contribute all changes back was not in the cards.

Apart from that, I'm fairly sure FreeBSD was offered re-licensing on most Apple code for integration back into FreeBSD if we were interested (mail to a private mailing list); lack of takeup on this seemed to be that nobody on the FreeBSD side had the spare capacity to deal with all of this rather than Apple not being willing to give us code.

There was and is a ton of merge work that could be done for FreeBSD; NetBSD and OpenBSD had lots of worthwhile changes at the time, and nobody really bothered to merge most of those either. I did some effort on NetBSD/OpenBSD merging, and wrote some infrastructure, but never actually submitted much based on it. Darwin just showed up as one more source of changes to merge; one that had about as many worthwhile changes, but a bit more hassle license wise (need to send an email to get a license release to avoid contaminating.)

So, this is mostly boils down to infrastructure, code/project organization, and manpower - there's no grand licensing issue involved.

Comment Re:I wish them luck. (Score 2) 178

This is a good "Put up or shut up" moment for BSD. For all the whining I hear about "Viral" and "Anti Business" licenses the various *BSD projects sure do have a meager adoption (Buisness, home, free or otherwise) compared to their GPL counterparts (Linux). I think an aggressive, forward looking BSD project would be great to have.

Granted, not all the most popular open source projects have "Viral" licenses (Eg - Most Apache foundation projects), but maybe.. Just maybe Linux's success is in part due to the GPL.

Some people feel the GPL is stealing something that they're somehow entitled too. In reality, it's more of an exchange. You give up the ability to have a certain business model, and in return you get the collective work of everyone else who's made the same agreement. You give up exclusive control of your source in return for a world-class, flexible, free, operating system with widespread uses. For free. With a BSD style license you're able to opt out of that "collective work" provision. You can take, but you don't have to give. As a result, the project does not grow.

This is based on assumptions that don't hold water.

In particular, the primary assumption is that a significant fraction of contributions to GPLed projects come from companies that are forced to give these contributions, and that would not give these contributions if they could avoid it (as in BSD).

My impression (from having participated in BSD development and followed Linux development) is that contributions in this area is actually a larger fraction of development on the BSD side of the fence: Embedded systems companies take the BSD codebase and develop something proprietary with it, and give back the parts that aren't crucial. And logically, it would make sense: If a company feels they need to have proprietary parts, they don't touch the GPLed codebase at all; they just use either BSD or one of the proprietary microkernels.

What *does* affect contributions to BSDs is this myth of exploitation. The GPL has a very effective propaganda preface about "preserving freedom of users", incidentally ignoring that part of this preservation of users' freedom comes by denying some of those that could be users of the codebase the ability to become users. (Look at all the BSD users through Mac OS X.) This myth and propaganda clearly influence some developers.

It's probably in your long-term interest for the project to grow. I think the success of Linux proves this.


However, the success of Linux has other possible sources than the license:

  • The source code control system and project management led to "distributions", which allows rapid parallel experimentation.
  • Distributions lead to more source code flow back and forth than different operating systems with distinct version control systems
  • The Linux project structure made the project have a much more softly sloping "insider/outsider" distinction; the BSD structure with core team / committers / general public makes it harder to involve people, on a psychological level. (Everybody thinks things are the responsibility of the next inner circle, and then the core team think development is the responsibility of the community at large.) This led to easier recruiting on the Linux side.
  • There are inherent size limits for communities at particular engagement levels (email overload); having multiple communities, in the form of multiple distributions, alleviate this.
  • The initial bad support for low end hardware in the BSDs set a disparity in the numbers of users, and there are first mover advantages. People especially select relatively similar operating systems based on whether the operating systems run on the hardware they have, and with more people more drivers get written.
  • Linux started with a reliance on binary packages for upgrades, while the BSDs started with a reliance on the ports system and building from source for upgrades. While source is better for some types of power users on servers, it is arguably worse for most desktop users and non-power-users on servers.
  • BSD has a more complicated partitioning scheme, and a system that's a bit further from the DOS/Windows world. This may have made it harder to get users to transition there compared to to Linux.
  • Less cool name and story
  • BSD was in limbo for a crucial year during AT&T litigation
  • BSD users self-identify mostly as "Unix users" and have no problem trying some Linux distribution as one more Unix; Linux users self-identify mostly as Linux users, and are not afraid of trying "another Linux", but feel other Unixes as very different. In random movement of users, this probably leads to some extra flow from BSD to Linux compared to vice versa.

The license may or may not be a factor; but there are clearly so many other differences that may be factors that it is hard to identify how important each of them are. I think this is a question that will never be answered; it would need lots of research, and I think the time when that research could be done is now gone.

Comment Re:My country has gone mad (Score 1) 126

This is often said. But I think a citation is needed. The reason representatives vote on laws is because that is the only efficient way (or was when the system was invented) to represent the public. Representatives are elected by the majority. If they vote with the their electorate, then it's still mob rule. If they don't then they've betrayed them.

I have a different opinion on what's a betrayal.

When I vote for a politician, I'm electing somebody to represent me - to hopefully vote the way I would have voted if I'd been perfectly informed and perfectly ethical. I hope the representative will vote *better* than I would, and that they will follow their own conscience. I feel it more of a betrayal if they vote to please me than if they vote different with what I believe.

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