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Comment Re:Piracy rationalizations in 3... 2... 1... (Score 1) 348

> Sure you are [taking something physical], you're taking the money you didn't pay me ...

That's a convoluted way to argue that something has been taken from the creator, and is still wrong. The pirate starts with $5, takes it from himself so he has $0, then keeps it by not paying the creator and ends up with $5. The creator starts with $0 and ends with $0. The parent poster's argument still stands: Nothing is taken from the creator that he didn't have in the first place.

And the argument that there is something morally wrong in 'depriving a creator of income' is also appallingly bad. By this standard of 'theft' the following is true:

1. A person sells a second hand book. The author gets no money from this transaction even though the new owner benefits from the work. This is 'theft'
2. A person persuades a someone that a movie is rubbish. The movie studio get no money from the second person and is deprived of income. This is 'theft'

Comment Re:Yeah, it's those politicians who are corrupt (Score 1) 177

> Boring nitpicking. Stealing is just a shorthand way of saying you are taking something for free against the wishes of the rightful owner who has put a price on it.

Boring irrelevance. Calling it stealing or claiming that it is 'rightful', did nothing to address the parent poster's substantive point that there is scant legitmiate moral claim to be awarded the power to ration something that can exist in abundance. The public grants the legal conditions that pertain to copyright, and if the public's desire to encourage creative works through the restriction of non-commercial copying is no longer considered to be in their interests then sad day for copyright holders.

> The share of the profits that they get reflects the reality that it is not the quality of music that sells it but marketing that the label provides.

If the quality of music is truely as worthless as that implies then there is even less moral justification for charging for it, as it is all just some manipulative marketing exercise in turd polishing!

Comment Suggestion: How about Fucking Off? (Score 1) 200

We're often hearing from businesses that we should trust them and consumers to make the right choices when it comes to buying their products, irrespective of how unheathy, privacy invading or otherwise insidious, so now that some business is complaining that some images of a distaster appear alongside their business in a search, well they can fuck off. Suddenly consumers CAN'T make the right choices now? You bizniz types can stop opposing reasonable legislation that doesn't require everyone to be an expert in everything to avoid being ripped off then I'll have some sympathy.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 2) 105

There are no statutory damages in the UK so they would have to prove actual damages, which would be in the region of the cost of a DVD since their evidence is only of one infringement. But that assumes the IP address is accepted as satisfactory. Moreover the leaked ACS law emails included advice to Crossley to this effect so the plan was never to take this stuff to court

Iron Alloy Could Create Earthquake-Proof Buildings 107

separsons writes "Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University designed a new shape memory metal alloy. The super elastic iron alloy can endure serious stretching and still return to its original shape. The scientists say that once optimized, the material could be used in everything from braces to medical stents to earthquake-proof buildings!"

Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy 146

schliz writes "The Federal Court has ordered an Australian distributor to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling the R4 mod chip, which allows users to circumvent technology protection measures in Nintendo's DS consoles. The distributor, RSJ IT Solutions, has been ordered to cease selling the chip through its site and any other sites it controls, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages."

Minnesota Introduces World's First Carbon Tariff 303

hollywoodb writes "The first carbon tax to reduce the greenhouse gases from imports comes not between two nations, but between two states. Minnesota has passed a measure to stop carbon at its border with North Dakota. To encourage the switch to clean, renewable energy, Minnesota plans to add a carbon fee of between $4 and $34 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions to the cost of coal-fired electricity, to begin in 2012 ... Minnesota has been generally pushing for cleaner power within its borders, but the utility companies that operate in MN have, over the past decades, sited a lot of coal power plants on the relatively cheap and open land of North Dakota, which is preparing a legal battle against Minnesota over the tariff."

Comment Re:I'm confused (Score 1) 374

Copyright has never been designed such that rights holders could dictate each and every use of a copyrighted work. For instance, publishers have never been allowed to prevent libraries lending their books, never been allowed to demand payment for the lending of their books, never been allowed to demand payment for sales of second hand copies of their books, never been allowed to demand payment for people being reading a book that was bought by somebody else and lent to them ... and so on.

Only you can say whether those conditions amount to an evil government making choices that should be the publishers ... or whatever. There are laws in existence now that forces the holder to allow such exemptions. There already are varying levels of protections based on the intended use of the work. It is impossible to make any sense of your statements on this matter.

As for the purpose of copyrights: This is a matter of history, and the facts can be checked. In the US, copyright only exists for the public benefit that is accrued through the promotion of the sciences and useful arts. I forget the exact terminology, but it's there in the Constitution if you don't know already. The point is that according to that document, copyright should only be granted when it promotes the benefit to the public by giving incentive to artists and authors. The extent to which copyright law fails in this regard, then the purpose is defeated. One such obvious example is extending copyright terms on works in the past. No artist or author can be further encouraged to contribute to a work he has already contributed! It's absurd!

Technology has changed the debate. The public used to be unable to make copies of books and other works easily without cost. Copyright originally had no affect on what the public could do in practice - they did not have a printing press. This has all changed, now to the point of reproduction costing nearly nothing. The real question is now how to encourage new contributions without unnecessarily imposing resistrictions on the public. It's a balance of rights, and always has been.

Feel free to explain why non-commercial copying should not be allowed, in light of the apparent fact that the considered opinions of the authors of the French copyright regime were to allow such copying, without redress to untenable over-generalisations such as those addressed above.

Submission + - "Three strikes" to go ahead in Britain (

David Gerard writes: "Lord Peter Mandelson has carefully ignored the Gowers Report and the Carter Report, instead taking the advice of his good friend David Geffen and three strikes and you're out will become law in Britain. The Open Rights Group has, of course, hit the roof. Oh, and never mind MI5 and the police pointing out that widespread encryption will become normal, hampering their efforts to keep up with little things like impending terrorist atrocities. Still, worth it to stop a few Lily Allen tracks being shared, what?"

Comment Re:Artists deserve to get paid. (Score 2, Insightful) 315

RE: "The question is, is a Paul McCartney song worth a $1 to you. If so, then pony up. Otherwise, don't listen to it."

No, the question is: What is the value of the work overall? Markets don't provide an answer to that question any better than a Joe Random's subjective assessment.

If you still don't understand, let me put it in terms even the typical mercantile-minded drone can understand: Copyright is a monopoly, monopolies misprice everything, the price of copyrighted material cannot be determined by a market. Moreover, the market clearing price of something which has a zero marginal cost is zero. Information no longer has to be packaged up in physical blocks, so the true market price of information is zero, just as Adam telling Joe a joke has no cost.

Perhaps with no laws against non-commercial copying a large number of authors will stop writing. Perhaps so. But people will still want to share their ideas with one another and will write them down. And without publishers making a pointless cut on an artificially created scarcity (i.e. via DRM and copyright) there will be no gatekeepers determining what can be published or not. A conservative should be appaulding this! Or is liberty and the individual enterprise only a concern in limited situations?

Using the market as a means to determine the value of information is becoming more and more untenable, both technologically and ethically. Using the market requires that the natural inclination to share information (i.e. to communicate) is fatuously characterised as "piracy", and can only work by sabotaging free market mechanisms with government-backed monopoly selling of artificially created scarcities.

But no! Apparently conservatives are all in favour of monopolies, against free markets determining price and in favour of BIG government in the form of law enforcement of non-commercial copyright infringement!

Comment Re:Let me be the first one to say it ... (Score 1) 1870

Copyright law was invented as a law preventing businesses profiting from the investments of other businesses. i.e. stopping one book publisher printing a cheaper copy of a book from another publisher, when the first publisher had paid the author and wished to recover that cost. Note that is what happens in free markets: competitors who can reduce costs emerge in competition to existing players. Copyright is something that kinda goes against "fundamental thing[s] about capitalism"

Anyway, as the public did not own the technology to copy books (printing presses), this was a law solely against commercial copying, and did not restrict the public in any way. Copyright law has been transformed from a solely commercial law into a law that is also against non-commercial copying by the public. Also, now as the technology to copy is now owned by the public, this law has to be maintained by restricting the public in ever greater measures, viz. DRM and DMCA. So, first ethical point: It restricts the public now they own the technology to copy for themselves, whereas it never used to. Second ethical point: Copyright law against non-commercial copying is an ethic that says helping your neighbour (e.g. by giving a copy of a useful program), or sharing with your friends is morally wrong. Something of an poor ethic.

But I do think you have a point, nonetheless. Certain kinds of task cannot easily be divided up and solved by communities. Movie making is an example. On the other hand, software making can be spread amongst a community that shares knowledge easily. That kind of organisation have none of the ethical problems discussed above. And we no longer have to theorise about whether free-software authors can get paid. They do. Right now. By companies who sell services based on free software.

The question is how can artists and authors be encouraged (i.e. paid) for their efforts, and the recording industry monumentally fails to pay musicians money. Most musicians end up nominally OWING money to record companies. Only a small minority of musicians actually receive money in royalities. Those who were successful enough to negiotiate a contract that works in their favour. The record industry maybe completely redundant now that $3000 of equipment can get you recorded reasonably well.

If there is a solution that allows non-commercial copying, whilst commercial copying and publishing has to be paid for... if there is a business model that could work with that then that is what I'd like to see. Maybe we have to give up big budget movies? *shrugs* Small budget movies and music making will continue even with non-commercial copying, since that is what happens already in other countries, like Nigeria and Brazil. And I, for one, wont miss the majority of the musak that comes from the industry-pushed mediocre hacklike poseurs.

Comment Re:It is still theft (Score 1) 231

Pleasure to speak to someone who doesn't just rely on invective!

I would rather see non-commercial copying legal whenever possible, but this does not have to be done by changing the law. Some musicians already allow non-commercial copying as a form of publicity for where they make money in live performance. In Brazil, musicians record their music, give it to the market sellers of CDs, people buy and listen to the CDs with 1000s of mp3s on them and later attend travelling stage shows where the same musicians perform. In Nigeria, they have a (low-quality) movie industry which relies on making its money from being the first to show a particular film. They don't bother to prosecute people who copy the movies.

And I favour the free-software model for software development. Again, no change of the law is necessary here. One thing about free software is that where a lot of freelance programming jobs are done as one-offs for a particular company, then that software is free/libre software according to the ethical dictates of the free software foundation... as long as the software source is provided along with the binary in exchange for payment. The FSF has pages and pages of stuff about this if you are interested. They also say quite a lot about copyright and patents too.

Changing the law may become a practical matter, of course, especially if the ISP-as-policemen model gets thrown out of the courts. But as an ethical matter, I do not favour the criminalisation of sharing or helping your neighbor or friend.

There are all sorts of options for the funding of research and the like. In the case of medical patents, it is often suggested that a funding body could provide grants for research it deems worthwhile. The obvious problem is that this gives too much power to the funding body which may be incompetent. But such bodies already exist alongside the patent model, which has the (IMO) worse faults of inefficiencies in monopoly supply of drugs. Such drugs are more expensive than they would be if the research money was merely recovered. The drugs industry spends about $30bn in research and $40bn in marketing. The same industry will happily spend money on researching copy-cat drugs that solve the problems that nearly-identical drugs from other firms make profitably. And the same industry requires a $30bn government subsidy in basic research in medicine that it could never make money from so it would never spend the money on that research in the first place. Meanwhile, third world countries cannot afford the drugs they make and are required by international monopoly-cartel-supporting WIPO treaties to not make generic equivalents in their own country. Such are the consequences of making knowledge a form of property.

Comment Re:It is still theft (Score 1) 231

In the case of rewarding software engineers, we don't have to theorise anymore, since there are free-software developers that get paid. In the case of musicians - the record companies don't do much to enrich most of them, and as you might know already, almost all musicians end up with no money from the record companies or in royalities but get some free publicity for a while. And it would seem that increasingly the record companies are becoming redundant as musicians can record their own music and distribute it themselves. Whether they do this as well as the record companies is in dispute but I personally would not mourn the loss of record-company-led publicity of the kind of mediocre poseurs they tend to favour.

In the case of books - some copyright is going to remain necessary, but the bounds of the law may be better served in many ways. Shorter terms, an end of term if a book is out of print for a given number of years - or an automatic reverting to the author instead of the publisher holding on to it indefintely. This sort of thing. It may also make sense to make text books modifiable and copyable, whereas not so for fiction.

Speaking of modifiable and copyable, when knowledge is made secret in a program, that knowledge is then doomed to be rediscovered many times over when it could have been made public the first time round. This must be a crazy way to run an economy, surely? How about the problem of making a CD ISO image in Windows? *laughs*

Movies and games are more difficult to decide since the business model here is lots of initial investment that is not easily spread amongst many contributors. However, that's a long way from saying non-commercial copying should not be legal because of it.

Comment Re:It is still theft (Score 1) 231

"Ideally the market should decide"

Copyrights are government-backed monolopies, so this is hardly letting the market decide. Indeed, the real market cost of information would be equal to the lowest marginal cost of distributing that information, which is zero. It was this "fault" of the market that inspired copyright law - other printing companies were saving on the cost of paying authors and printing the same information at a lower marginal cost. Copyright put an end to this natural operation of the market. So in the digital age where distributing information is costless, only a distorted market allows information to be charged for. So the market is a pure ideological irrelevance in these cirumstances. It's funny that those who are in favour of market solutions and usually hate government interference are so often in favour of massive and expensive arms of government designed to uphold monopolies!

Anyway... none of this solves the problem of how artists should be rewarded for their efforts, but it is interesting that a large proportion of authors of books and musicians are actually in favour of a much smaller copyright regime. It is almost totally the whine of failing publishers and media distributors (the current owners of copyrights) that are making the case you appear to favour.

Another amusing part of their position is that they want even longer copyright terms. Presumably this is so they can go back in time (using their secret time machine technology) and tell people in the 1920's that copyright terms will be much longer in the future so that authors will be encouraged to produce more work that would otherwise remain unwritten!

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