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User Journal

Journal Journal: Banning software to prevent "contributory piracy" is like

... banning automobiles to prevent "contributory bank robbery"

This has been my slashdot .sig for a long while but has lately generated feedback. Who kens the zeitgeist? Anyway, on 2002 Aug 24, an Anonymous Coward said,

more like "banning newsprint to prevent contributory ransom demands." Better analogy. Trust me.

But actually, I've given a lot of thought to this piece of bumper-sticker wisdom. I still think mine is better, on the following counts:

The issue (which for me lies in the 2600 decision as well as the Napster rulings) is whether a tool should be banned based upon its usage by some to break the law.

Indeed, it's worse, in that the Content Cartel wants to preemptively ban techologies that might usable in copyright infringement, regardless of other uses of that technology.

The "newsprint" thing drags in the First Amendment, and while I believe the First Amendment to be perhaps the most important political writing ever, I don't believe it's really applicable here.

Along the lines of enabling technologies, the AC should at least have offered "printing presses". Hmmm... I could live with "Banning software to prevent 'contributory piracy' is like banning printing presses to prevent 'contributory counterfeiting'. But it still raises that whole First Amendment thing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Infringement != Stealing (1) 1

I've made this argument a lot on slashdot, so I figured I should just put it here and be done with it.

Blockquoth the poster:

anybody riping and collecting works they don't pay for are simply stealing

No. No. No. and a final time, No. They are "infringing" -- a well-defined crime, distinct from stealing. How do I know? Leaving aside the single-user issue, let's also consider: No court anywhere has ever set up guidelines for "reasonable theft" of physical property. But for intellectual "property", the courts have -- as much as the RIAA wishes to God they hadn't -- carved out an expanse called "Fair Use", wherein use of copyrighted material without compensation is considered legal. (I am not arguing that Napster was or was not Fair Use. I am just pointing out that Fair Use exists in well-codifed law.) Likewise, real property rights don't expire. If you own a car and never ever sell it to anyone, then guess what? It's yours, forever and ever, world without end, amen. But if you publish a copyrightable item, and never ever sell a copy to anyone else, do you know what happens? Eventually your "property" rights evaporate, again without compensation... it's not a government "taking", it's the (legal) nature of the beast.

So unless you're willing to draw the analogy both ways -- that is, to allow "Fair Use" of your physical property and to recognize that your ownership is time-limited -- then stop BSing and drop the "infringement is stealing" crap.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobody weeps for the buggy-whip makers 3

The title is a phrase I like to offer, as a shorter means of conveying what Heinlein wrote:

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit."

The idea is, as technology changes, business models change also. People must adapt or go out of business. There is no money-making model that is immune or sacrosanct -- there are no businesses "too big to be allowed to fail". At the dawn of the 21st century, we see much less innovation in business and much more turf protection. When that extends to bribing, er, lobbying the legislature, then democracy itself is fundamentally threatened.

After one of my tirades, the following exchange occured, which helped me flesh out more of my thinking.

Blockquoth the poster:

Nobody weeps for the buggy-whip makers!

Or the buggy makers, not all of whom turned to making "horseless buggies".

Fair enough. I like to use the whip manufacturers because their product is only incidental to the goal. That is, you use the buggy to travel. You just use the whip to motivate the horse. It's necessary for movement if your model is horse-and-buggy. But it's not fundamentally necessary for movement.

It's much the same for all these content providers, who are -- under the current model -- needed for the distribution of music, TV, whatever. Under a new model, they become overpriced unnecessary middlemen... just like the buggy-whip makers. (And I like the connotation that the content providers whip their artists to motivate them...)

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