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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment

timothy posted about 8 years ago | from the I'll-take-the-environment-alex dept.

128

zumaya100k writes "In recent months, Slashdot has covered the rise of the Pirate Party and the battles in Europe over iPod interoperability. Canada's Hill Times has an insightful column from Michael Geist that links these developments as the growing importance of copyright as a political issue. He argues that copyright is now tracking the environment as a mainstream political issue." (Geist is talking about Canada here, but much the same can be said about the U.S. and other places.)

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Am I still banned? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410117)

I guess not!

eat a dick, fascistdot.

GNAA suspected in death of Rob Levin (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410119)

GNAA suspected in death of Rob Levin
GNAA suspected in death of Rob Levin

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This about sums it up for me (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#16410153)

The average Canadian knows little about the intricacies of fair dealing or technological protection measures, yet the implications of copyright policies that hamper free speech, privacy, security, and consumer rights are far easier to appreciate.
The simpler the cause, the easier it is to make it a mainstream issue.

Complexity is anathema to politics in most countries.

Re:This about sums it up for me (4, Insightful)

rf0 (159958) | about 8 years ago | (#16410345)

I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. She reads email, writes letters and does a little bit of surfing. She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble. So I posed gave her a quick run down of the UK RIP bill (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,651 2,334007,00.html) basically saying that the government can come along and watch everything she does on the net, can be put in jail for refusing to give her password out etc and her response was. " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late. Most /.'ers can see what is coming but the general populs, the ones who vote (though how effective that is I don't know) will happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 8 years ago | (#16410545)

As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?

I agree with your basic premise (although I don't think we are anywhere near a police state as the phrase is normally used), but one thing we do need is a cleary stated and consice answer to the above question. There is an answer, but it *is* a fair question.

happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door

And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you say? It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough.

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Interesting)

swarsron (612788) | about 8 years ago | (#16411571)

"And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you say? It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough."

That's a very real problem. But it's not necessarily the fault of the person raising the issue. I often discover that even if you give people quite concrete examples they disregard them because they think that it's too farfetched. And that's mainly because they don't understand the technological changes that took place.

I live in germany and some of you will remember germany was parted into the BRD (nice USA loving part) and the DDR (bad evil communists). One of the main instruments to hold their power in the DDR was the Stasi ("Staatsicherheit", one could translate this to ministry of state (homeland ;) security). In the end there were 1 people out of 7 deployed by the stasi (not all full time, most of them only as snitches). So it was a really enourmous effort to get the information needed to control those with dissenting views.

What people don't get is the power of correlating databases. One datasource by itself might not seem so bad but if you start to combine several you get information out of them which is way more interesting than just the sum of those databases. The instruments used by the stasi are nothing against what someone could do if he got access to the different databases we're currently creating. And all of this almost instantly and with way less people.

If i tell people about this most of them just don't get it. Maybe it's because i can't make my point but i think that it is because they never worked with databases and really can't comprehend what's possible. I didn't realize it fully until i was at a congress of the CCC (http://www.ccc.de/) where someone demonstrated what you can do in 30 minutes with public databases. I'm convinced that people see us as paranoid because they just don't know whats possible and so it's very hard to give examples which seem relevant/plausible to them.

Re:This about sums it up for me (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#16411799)

It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough.
They do not see laws designed to strip the rights of Bad Guys (copyright infringers, terrorists, anti-social asshats) as affecting them, because they do not percieve Bad Guys as part of their "community".

Change "making the threat seem real enough"
to "making the threat seem personal enough"

The quickest and easiest way to do that is to ask [Whoever] personal questions you know they aren't going to answer.

When [Whoever] refuses, ask them "As long as you didn't do anything wrong, why shouldn't you answer?"

The answer they give you is the same answer to the question "As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?"

Once you change the way those people look at the issue, you can change the way they feel about it. To do that, you have to go after their fundamental assumption that Bad Guys != Their Community.

Re:This about sums it up for me (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | about 8 years ago | (#16411929)

How about the New York State Thruway analogy.

Back in the old days, the speed limit on the NYST was 55mph, like other limited-access highways. But NOBODY went 55mph, and in fact it was quite common to drive past police cars at 70mph, assuming they weren't driving right beside you at that speed, or faster.

In essence, EVERYONE was breaking the law. That also meant that had they wanted to, or if they had to fill a quota of some sort, they could stop ANYONE for at least a speeding ticket. Beyond that, they could probably add reckless endangerment, etc. But the reality is, since everyone was breaking the law, they could adopt alternate criteria for stopping you, say they don't like your looks, or your car's looks.

To be honest, I don't know that the system was ever abused in this way. I never heard of any abuse, that that doesn't mean that there was or wasn't any.

But the possiblity was there.

Now to bring it home to your wife...

Do you KNOW that you're not breaking any laws? When was the last time you sat down and read ALL the laws, to sort out which ones are applicable to you? How about Blue Laws? I've heard that some places have laws on the books that the Missionary Position is the only legal method for sexual intercourse. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I do remember some time in the past few years, a high court ruling that upheld a law against sex toys in your own bedroom. There was recently a rider forbidding mail-order purchase prescription drugs from Canada, and it was tacked onto a completely unrelated bill. It turns out that sometimes these riders are added late in the process, too late to be in the version of the bill given to legislators for review. Things can sail right under the radar, leaving room for "selective enforcement."

In these days, I'd mostly fear not knowing enough about who I'm doing business with. In a completely innocent fashion, it's possible to "make material contributions to terrorist organizations," by simply buying something from the wrong people.

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410601)

At least in the US, the correct answer to "As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?" involves pointing out that the Constitution was written to protect you from the State's wrongdoing, not vice-versa.

In the twentieth century alone, 100,000,000 people were murdered by their own governments. With a track record like that, the question should never be whether you're doing something wrong -- it should be whether they are.

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#16410617)

To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late.
Not that this has anything to do with TFA, but most people misuse or do not understand the words "police state" [wikipedia.org]

"Security state" or "militarized state" more accurately describes what people like to biatch about.

[/offtopic]

I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. .... She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble.
Copyright isn't limited to computers, which is why your wife has a much better chance of comprehending the issues surrounding it.

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 years ago | (#16410661)

you presented it wrong...

Ask her if it's ok for the police to come into your home at any time and look through all your drawers and everything else at any time they like, and will jail you for telling them to go away or not letting them in.

what is her response then?

Re:This about sums it up for me (3, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | about 8 years ago | (#16410855)

you presented it wrong...

Ask her if it's ok for the police to come into your home at any time and look through all your drawers and everything else at any time they like, and will jail you for telling them to go away or not letting them in.

what is her response then?


You still overestimate the average person. They will say that the police would only do it to criminals, so they have no reason to fear the police having that authority. Seriously, I've tried to use this exact explanation. Somewhere along the line, people stopped believing that they themselves were the fundamental source of authority, and have come to believe that governments have inherent power. They believe that the government is always looking out for them, and beyond criticism. Somehow, they just don't get the fact the government is just a big group of people who are lazy, stupid, and power hungry as everybody else. Often, more so.

Re:This about sums it up for me (2, Interesting)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 8 years ago | (#16411055)

Exactly!

To some extent, the freedoms that most Western countries (at least the U.S.--I have limited experience in other Western countries) have enjoyed for so long have become our own worst enemy, in a sense.

Because most of us in the U.S. have not had to fear our own government, we have adopted the mindset that our government *wouldn't* do the kinds of things that the Constitution was designed to prevent. Therefore, we don't care if Bush wiretaps in violation of the 4th amendment and FISA, if the Patriot Act eliminates many of the safeguards that prevent abuse of power, etc. After all, it's only going to be used to Protect Us Against the Terrorists (tm) or For The Children (tm), right?

Unfortunately, history proves otherwise...but most of us apparently slept through history class :/

Re:This about sums it up for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16411385)

Then you have just to explain to her why she, too, is a criminal.

Re:This about sums it up for me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410685)

And what about all those who don't vote

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_voting [wikipedia.org]

It's a reform needed in the UK and the USA. Help moderate politics, keep government for all the people, support, argue, fight for compulsory balloting.

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 8 years ago | (#16411521)

If people don't want to vote, there is something wrong with the political/electoral system. Compulsory voting may make the problem less evident, but it doesn't deal with the problem.

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | about 8 years ago | (#16411025)

her response was. " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

And of course the answer to that we should all remember is: "Do you trust the govenment enough to not screw up. So you trust government enough to keep absolutely clean database records, and not have your name get attached to some violation or other."

That's the problem with unfettered, growing data collection on citizens... it becomes impossible to keep records pristine. Crosslinks with similar names, previous residents of your apartment, coworkers and other errors begin to creep in and get worse over time.

And the end results of all that is that innocents begin to get fingered even though they "didn't do anything wrong."

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 8 years ago | (#16411187)

" As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

Read "Atlas Shrugged", and memorize the speech (is it Dagny Taggart's?) about how the government has no hold over law-abiding citizens, which is why the government passes so many laws covering so many different aspects of everyday life -- and often laws that conflict with each other -- that it's virtually impossible to "not do anything wrong". It's just that most of those laws are only enforced when it is convenient (for the government) to do so.

One may well go through life not doing anything morally wrong -- but that's not the same as never doing anything against the law.

Trivial examples: speeding, jaywalking, parking violations, code violations from minor house repairs, copyright violations -- and singing "Happy Birthday" except perhaps in the shower could be a public performance in violation of the owner's copyrights. (Which is why restaurant staff sing something else at birthday celebrations.)

The other answer to that question comes from the opening to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil": what if they get her confused with somebody else?
(Or consider the case of Richard Jewell [wikipedia.org] :
"Though he was never officially charged, the FBI aggressively investigated him in spite of a continuing lack of evidence. They publicly searched his home, questioned his associates, investigated his background, and maintained twenty-four hour surveillance of Jewell. The pressure only began to ease after Jewell's attorneys hired an ex-FBI agent to administer a polygraph, which Jewell reportedly passed. Despite this, in the searches of Jewell's residence, which he shared with his mother, the FBI confiscated his mother's tupperware collection and family photographs, and when returned the tupperware had many broken pieces, and the photographs were ripped apart."

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | about 8 years ago | (#16412865)

Read "Atlas Shrugged", and memorize the speech (is it Dagny Taggart's?) about how the government has no hold over law-abiding citizens...

I believe you mean this:

Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

If you prefer, Frank Zappa [slashdot.org] also poetically expressed a similar sentiment.

Most People Want A Police State (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#16411367)

Most human beings are happier under the boot of some dictatorship or the other. As long as they're in a relatively snug groove of the boot, the stamping doesn't really bother them.

Let's look at the history of humanity. For most of human civilisation, and even before that, humans lived in societies without rights, equality, freedoms or justice. The powerful ruled, and if you objected, you would either be brutally beaten or killed outright. Not only that, your extended family could also be expected to suffer as well.

So with that in mind, lets consider the human "liberty loving" gene, the one that bristles when your rights are infringed upon. Do you think that is now a common gene? Do you think most human beings have retained a strong expression in genes like that one. Or do you think that rather, it is those humans who expressed more "quiet sheep" genes that proliferated throughout most of history.

Most people are descended from a long, long line of quiet, contented serfs. Ergo, most people will naturally act and behave like quiet, contented serfs. You are surrounded by them daily, choked by their suffocating apathy. They are individual only in the individual ways that they acquiesce to other humans who exude the "master" pheromone. Ultimately, democracy collapses under the dead weight of their inborn complacency

Re:Most People Want A Police State (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | about 8 years ago | (#16411773)

You are surrounded by them daily, choked by their suffocating apathy. They are individual only in the individual ways that they acquiesce to other humans who exude the "master" pheromone. Ultimately, democracy collapses under the dead weight of their inborn complacency


Which is why the US is a constitutional republic and a representative democracy. In other words, we elect our masters and then we don't worry about anything unless our masters do something stupid.

Re:Most People Want A Police State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16413575)

In other words, we elect our masters and then we don't worry about anything unless our masters do something stupid.

Exactly. In other words, if our masters start a war based on fabricated/flawed intelligence that results in the deaths of over 40,000 foreign civilians, it's all good. Unless they reinstate the draft, which of course is stupid.

Re:This about sums it up for me (3, Insightful)

testong129 (1012739) | about 8 years ago | (#16411397)

I have thought of that as an excuse for this behavior also, but then I think: who am to decide what is "right" and "wrong"? I am sure that your wife, as almost everyone else, does "wrong" things every day - speeding on the freeway, copying music CDs to her ipod, and now it is criticizing the government. In the past it was perfectly fine to go break Jewish-owned shops, intern Japanese-Americans, own slaves, [fill in something bad that your government did in the past]. We can always pretend that we are model citizens, but in the end we are all criminals.

So it is the government and not her that gets to decide what is right and wrong. One day, they will decide that for whatever reason, they need to sniff her e-mails, or sniff her underwear drawer for drugs or bombs. And that day, there will be something "wrong" with her e-mail or whatever (e.g. thats not a picture of your 1 year old cousin taking a bath, that is kiddie porn). Then she is in prison mumbling, "first they came for my e-mail and I did nothing, then they came for my underwear and I did nothing, then they came for me..."

I wonder what she, and the rest of you, would say about that.

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

mqduck (232646) | about 8 years ago | (#16412395)

You'd better hope your wife never becomes savvy enough, starts reading Slashdot and reads you putting her down. ;)

Oh, I suppose I could add a "geeks don't have wives/girlfriends" joke... so, here goes: HAHAHA ya rite l0s4r u wish. who is she, ur dog?

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 8 years ago | (#16413279)

As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?

To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late. Most /.'ers can see what is coming but the general populs, the ones who vote (though how effective that is I don't know) will happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door


I take is as long as I don't do anything massively annoying or expensive to the government or companies; they'll mainly ignore me and leave me be. RIAA and MPAA are exceptions and not the rule. Of course if I was sharing thousands of files they'd be annoyed at me, but I'd not really be expensive to them. P2P is only expensive to the RIAA in the abstract if even that. I think of it more along as I have "freedom of speech" so long as I don't defame or libeal anyone or annoy someone that might SLAPP suit me. I was annoying vocal about politics through HS, but wasn't allowed to vote then and classmates where just as well. When I went to college, we observed our local politicans and college staff. They did a lot of stupid things and we didn't like most of it. The system is designed so that we couldn't change anything without massive organized effort. We didn't really care "that much" about any of it. We were only there for 4 years and then went home. By then we had lives. As long as I don't bad mouth my employeer or do something stupid, get arrested, or get in the news for something about my employeer, they'll generally care less what I do with my homelife. My local government doesn't care too much about me as long as I pay my taxes and the cops don't have to show up at my residence or neighborhood alot.

I'm very mixed about the idea of an IT police state where we actually have the private life data of anyone that we want. (Well, I guess it wouldn't be a police state if everyone had access to it.) If my home was wired up for full video/audio and any one out there could look into any room of my house at any time, the people that are most likely to watch would be my mom, my mother in law, and also a few of my wife's friends. No one else would generally care about looking into my house. My employeer would generally only check in if and only if I called in sick. Let's be really honest. Police states focus their attention on those groups that are likely able to change government policy. How politically successful has slashdot, the EFF, or the Pirate Party been? A police state could just ignore us as power less. What we'll find really frightening isn't the idea of God or Big Brother watching us and knowing everything about us. It's that God or Big Brother has scored us and we just aren't important enough to watch. I could see Big Brother occasionally looking at the slashdot editors, but never bothering with the average slashdotter.

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

coats (1068) | about 8 years ago | (#16413787)

Ask her if she really trusts the government under all of the following:
  • Nixon
  • LBJ
  • Clinton
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Joe McCarthy

Re:This about sums it up for me (1)

garcia (6573) | about 8 years ago | (#16410703)

Too bad the average American believes that if you are interested in free speech implications and privacy that you are a terrorist or a conspiracy theorist.

Main stream only now? (3, Interesting)

balsy2001 (941953) | about 8 years ago | (#16410169)

This has been a very big issue for corpoprations and politicians for years now (think of Disney getting copyright extensions for mickey mouse), but only recently due to the advances in technology has it become a household issue.

Average people giving a crap, finally. (3, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#16411071)

I can't believe this hasn't been modded up.

I think you hit the nail on the head: copyright has been a political issue for a while, but it's only recently that it's started to affect normal people. Thus they care, where they didn't give a damn before.

Most people don't care about things in the political realm, outside of the small sphere which they perceive as actually having a direct effect on their lives.

E.g., one of the reasons the gun lobby is so big in the U.S., is that there are a lot of people who own guns, and realize that changes in gun laws could directly affect their lives, and thus take an interest in it, one way or the other.

If you had as many bittorrent users as there are gun owners, and if those bittorrent users found their bittorrenting to be as important to them as gun owners find their gun ownership and its associated activities, then there's no reason why the "BitTorrent Lobby" wouldn't be equally powerful.

It's all about making average people care.

Re:Average people giving a crap, finally. (1)

Znork (31774) | about 8 years ago | (#16413711)

"but it's only recently that it's started to affect normal people."

Intellectual 'property' was a passable way to finance a miniscule part of the economy, but as the sector size grows its similarity to actual taxation of the economy and the debilitating inefficiency of state-protected monopolies becomes more obvious.

And taxes, as we all know, makes the average man care. Especially when they're sucking up so much of his wages that he has no chance to compete with foreign labour that doesnt have to pay the protection money to the IP sharks.

Civil rights...not environment... (4, Insightful)

Suzumushi (907838) | about 8 years ago | (#16410191)

A more appropriate comparison/parallel for the copyright issue would be civil rights, not the environment.

And similarily, landmark court decisions and not legislation will probably determine the direction that copyright will take us...back to the slave owning days, or to a future of equal opportunity.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

perlchild (582235) | about 8 years ago | (#16410341)

And yet the environment laws, and copyright, are both individuals vs corporations, while civil rights were individual vs individual. It appears we are reaching an almost "cyberpunk-like" level of corporation vs individual conflict of rights and interests.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 8 years ago | (#16411069)

Copyright is as much individual vs. individual as the civil rights movement.

It is much easier to justify copyright infringement by putting a corporate face on it, but you are untimately acting against an individual.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

perlchild (582235) | about 8 years ago | (#16414177)

I wasn't at the justify stage even though, just that this is where the focus of popular attention is. In "ideas-as-property" corporations hare the most to lose from most proposed changes that don't involve draconian DRM and practically a negation of what fair use rights have been in place since there have been fair use laws. In the environmental area, very few private individuals can affect the environment the way a corporation or large group of individuals can.

Now, to clarify my earlier point, I wanted to enhance that this new focus of popular attention might indicate, finally, that the population finally wants some pretty deep and broad reform of the laws attendant to corporations, through two areas where you can't hurt bystander individuals as much. When I harm one individual, it's not the same as when I harm, individually, 1000 shareholders of a corporation, or even the two owners of a local mom and pop store. In the eyes of the law, the last two cases, while I may be harming their personal bank accounts, I am still acting against a corporation. This is an important difference, and it should stay that way too.

Now keep in mind, some private individuals have more resources than some small corporations. But because you cannot choose to stop being part of a private invidual, like you can for a corporation, the repercussions are certainly different. I find it interesting you mention "justify" though, since that's been a sort of meme for the ideas-as-property fight. Tell Joe Public you're changing the copyright law and it only hurts Disney, and he might cheer. Tell him your changes affects the book royalties from the Dalai-Lama(I'm making an example up, trying to find a LIVING private individual who might have had writings 50 years ago, and who might be known to Joe Public), and you'll get quite a different reaction.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

tbannist (230135) | about 8 years ago | (#16410417)

Actually, I think Geist is a little off on this one: the two issues are ultimate the same issue.

Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world. Intellectual property is essentially the intellectual equivalent of pollution, a by-product of the creation of ideas that is frequently toxic to other ideas and inventions. Progress can't be made until the pollution has become less harmless.

Ok, that idea is a little out there, but it's an interesting thought experiment.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

shmlco (594907) | about 8 years ago | (#16410701)

"Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world."

Since "the rest of the world" includes the individual, group, or organization that created and produced the work in the first place, you'd think people would respect their rights and interests...

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | about 8 years ago | (#16414171)

Unfortunately, copyright extends long after everyone who might have had a hand in the actual creation of a work is dead.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (2, Interesting)

s20451 (410424) | about 8 years ago | (#16410741)

Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world. Intellectual property is essentially the intellectual equivalent of pollution, a by-product of the creation of ideas that is frequently toxic to other ideas and inventions.

And yet the vast majority of "idea creators" (inventors, musicians, artists, etc) are in favour of intellectual property in some form.

And yet the United States, with some of the world's most restrictive intellectual property legislation, is probably the most innovative society in science, technology, and the arts, that the world has ever produced.

And yet without copyright, the GPL could not force downstream authors to release their source. Stallman's greatest contribution may have been to demonstrate the sheer power and flexibility of IP protection.

My anecdotal observation is that the people most cheesed off about intellectual property are primarily or entirely consumers of IP, and not producers. Nobody enjoys paying for things, but that's how the economy works.

I agree that current IP law needs reform. But to say that it is "pollution" is horseshit.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#16411115)

And yet without copyright, the GPL could not force downstream authors to release their source. Stallman's greatest contribution may have been to demonstrate the sheer power and flexibility of IP protection.

The GPL is only around because of information isn't free due to things like NDAs. Were people able to take code home from work and give it away freely, there would be no need for the GPL.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

bfree (113420) | about 8 years ago | (#16411257)

Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced? I think you are mistaking money with innovation.
Do you not see the irony in suggesting that as the tm/c/patent producers want them it's not like pollution (hint what do the oil/gas companies really think of pollution compared to the rest of us, they probably call it "untargetted by-products")?

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

servognome (738846) | about 8 years ago | (#16411767)

Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced?

Culture is the United States' biggest export. It's not necessarily through breakthrough innovation, but rather, through the embrace and extend model.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (2, Informative)

s20451 (410424) | about 8 years ago | (#16411781)

Did you really just say the US is probably the most innovative society in the arts the world has ever produced? I think you are mistaking money with innovation.

I notice that you do not dispute my claims about science and technology. Briefly, Americans invented jazz and rock routinely win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (incl. 2 of the past 4 years); and produced or hosted some of the world's greatest visual artists and architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Sol Lewitt, Dan Flavin, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Richard Serra, and so on.

hint what do the oil/gas companies really think of pollution compared to the rest of us, they probably call it "untargetted by-products"

That analogy undermines your point. For one thing, the original poster claimed that pollution = IP, not that IP was an unwanted byproduct. If you think oil and gas are evil too, feel free to go a month without using them. (Hint: you will starve to death, because how do your groceries get to market?)

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (0)

bfree (113420) | about 8 years ago | (#16413013)

I also did not endorse your claims about science and technology, I just don't think they are as farcical. I'll counter your claims with Italian Renaissance [wikipedia.org] or Nobel Prize for Literature (if you want to be modern and awards based). In centuries time do you really think the US of the 20th/21st century will be looked back on as the pinnacle of the history of the Arts?

Products are to pollution as Arts is to tm/c/patents. Those who produce the latter while making money from the former obviously don't see latter as such significant downsides, however to the majority the latters are byproducts of the former that they have no direct demand for. If we came up with a pollution free product source that worked (e.g. the market will pay the poducers enough to produce) would the majority not want it? Replace pollution and product in the previous sentence and would the answer really change?

BTW I would not starve on locally produced products. I don't know how easy it would be to keep myself clothed though :-P

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 8 years ago | (#16411383)

IP or "intellectual property" is an oxymoron. If you mean "copyrights, trademarks and/or patents", say what you mean.

Everybody is a producer of copyright material -- everything you write, everything you draw or build, everything you say is subject to copyright -- and hence a producer of "IP". It's just that most folks don't bother to try to sell any of it.

This posting © 2006. Unless your Slashdot ID is s20451 you are hereby granted unlimited distribution rights. Slashdot user s20451 must pay the author $1000 for said rights. All other rights reserved.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 8 years ago | (#16411623)

If you insist on being pedantic, my original statement applies to economically useful intellectual property. Everyone is a producer of various bodily fluids, does that make everyone a "manufacturer"?

Also, I neglected to mention in my original post that intellectual property does not prevent the free flow of ideas. I can read your post and write this reply in spite of whatever copyright restrictions you impose, and I am not even invoking my "fair use" rights to quote. Thank you for making my point for me.

Reform just means reducing the pollution (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 8 years ago | (#16412857)

I rather like the analogy. During the industrial age, pollution was viewed as a necessary evil in order to sustain the production levels required by modern life, and by the project to alleviate human misery.

Likewise IP is viewed by many (esp. the more prgoressive creators) as a necessary evil in order to sustain respectable funding levels for scientific research and artistic creation.

Thing is: technology changes things. Just as there are more efficient, cleaner technologies that can manufacture a wide range of things without damaging the planet as much, there are more efficient distribution/monetization strategeies for the products of human creativity.

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410423)

Right, legislating from the bench by activist judges is always a more sure-fire way of getting what you want done. Who needs congress to right laws?

Re:Civil rights...not environment... (1)

netbuzz (955038) | about 8 years ago | (#16410777)

Absolutely, as Dr. King said: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all music formats are created equal and anyone should be able to share anything they want with anyone they want." ... Uh, maybe the civil rights analogy needs work.

Ummm... (1)

Otter (3800) | about 8 years ago | (#16410295)

A generation ago, if the environment was considered at all, it was viewed as a niche issue too complex to matter to the average voter.

In the US: Earth Day began in 1970, the Clean Air Act was passed in 1963, what is now called the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. I know bloggers are routinely unaware that anything happened before the 2000 presidential election, but you'd think a professor might. "The average voter" was quite aware of the importance of clean air and water; today they're much less conscious of the importance of not paying for music and movies.

Re:Ummm... (1)

fireduck (197000) | about 8 years ago | (#16410525)

In defence of the original author, a generation is typically taken to be 25 years (or perhaps 22 [wikipedia.org] ). And if we use Earth day as the awakening of the environmetal movement in the US, that's 36 years ago, which is about a generation and a half. That's a perfectly excusable round-off in my book. Heck, if we go back to '62 with the publication of Silent Spring, that's still less than 2 generations.

Maybe it's your memory that's a little fuzzy (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 8 years ago | (#16410529)

The media focus (and thus the populist mindset) on the environment in the 1970's was "don't litter", "don't start forest fires", and "don't use up all the gas so I can have some when I get to college". If we were to analogize environmental issues to civil rights, the 1970's were still in the "don't lynch" phase when it came to environmental issues.

Re:Ummm... (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 8 years ago | (#16410865)

I now think it just a little bizarre that I participated in a walk-a-thon on the first Earth Day.

I also went to the first Science Fiction Movie Marathon at Case Western Reserve University, and was recently surprised to see that it's still running every year.

Re:Ummm... (1)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | about 8 years ago | (#16411835)

I know Americans are routinely unaware that anything happens outside of their own country, but you'd think someone on the internet would. Professor Geist is Canadian, and is writing about copyright laws in Canada, and it's unlikely that the USA's Clean Air/Water Acts were foremost in his mind.

Re:Ummm... (1)

leoxx (992) | about 8 years ago | (#16412243)

Indeed, Canada is actually a lot slower implementing environmental protection laws than the USA is. Despite our countries reputation as environmentally conscious, we are primarily still a resource based economy, which means public policy still favours economic interests over environmental ones.

I hope not (1)

argoff (142580) | about 8 years ago | (#16410435)

Usually when politics is about the environment, it's about trillions and trillions of dollars worth of government impositions on every last aspect of private individual lives. Anything from toilets, to showerheads, to cell phones, to jumping thru 100 hoops to use your car. In fact, it's not uncommon for companies to exploit environmental issues to their favor (eg regulate to drive used cars out of the market place, lobby to force companies to use a particular monitoring technology that only you have, kill electricity competition like nuclear power) Are you sure a more appropiate description - pirate party hijacked by enviromental politics?

Re:I hope not (1)

spun (1352) | about 8 years ago | (#16410927)

Usually when private industry impacts the environment, it's about trillions and trillions of dollars worth of industrial imposition on every last aspect of individual lives. Anything from cancer, to global warming, to habitat destruction, to overfishing. In fact, it's not uncommon for companies to exploit the environment without paying the full cost of the externalities they impose on the rest of us. Are you sure that there isn't a more appropriate description: people everywhere fight to keep big money from raping them?

I doubt it becomes as much an issue (3, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16410445)

Environmental issues went big in the late 70s and 80s, but I doubt we'll see a similar development today. You have to see that people were quite a bit different then. Many were looking for "alternatives", there was a general sentiment for less technology and more back-to-the-roots. The peace movement in the shadow of the atomic stalemate between the two superpowers was a huge driver as well, and people were generally more politically interested than they are today.

To make matters worse, to be concerned over copyright, you first of all have to have access to copyrightable material. If you don't then, well, the stuff doesn't really matter to you. So you have to be one of those that actually either produce or consume content. Now, producers of copyrightable material will hardly argue that there is too little restriction for the user, and people who're the proverbial "lazy consumer" will hardly stand up and become political movers.

Let's also not forget that the environment and peace movement was also driven by songwriters, poets and other "content creators", and only a handful of them were actually concerned with the issue, the rest saw a huge market to milk. Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?

Generally, I'm a little pessimistic that copyright becomes the "green" movement of the 2010s. I'd love to see it, and I'll support it with everything I can, but my hopes are not too high.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | about 8 years ago | (#16410623)

There's a massive difference between the level of panic that drives resolutions to environmental issues and the level of panic that drives resolutions to copyright/trademark/patent issues.

Environmental dangers cause loss of life. This induces a survival-instinct reaction, and can be violent. This is taken very seriously by the powers that be, since violence can topple them if it becomes widespread and targetted at them.

Intellectual property dangers cause loss of entertainment. This induces a whiny, "I'm entitled" reaction that is taken much less seriously since whine only goes well with cheese, both of which are enjoyed by the ruling elite.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

ricree (969643) | about 8 years ago | (#16410625)

Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?
How about artists who think that the money would be better if the current media companies were dethroned. As things stand now, they aren't really all that great for artists in many respects. Very few people who are against current intellectual property laws are opposed to the idea off copyright altogether. For the most part, we just think that the balance needs to shift back towards society as a whole rather than the copyright owners. It's all about change, for the most part, not abolishing the system altogether.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16413115)

Problem is, the artists that are heard by the general audience (read: have lots of marketing and PR behind them) are usually those that have SO tight ties with the content industry that they can't even make a sound without the OK from their superiors.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 8 years ago | (#16410725)

``Now, which artist out for money would sing against copyright?''

There are some. NOFX, for one; I also think System of a Down and The Offspring; I'm sure there are others.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 8 years ago | (#16411333)

Public Enemy.

Many of us who create copyrightable works dislike the one sidedness of contracts and want to keep as much of the income our material generates in our own hands as possible. It is encumbent on us to do this by pursuing better contracts with traditional media companies or by seeking out our own methods of distribution. Where I think the Slashdot crowd is mistaken is when they assume that all artists everywhere want them to freely copy all material and make it available to the entire world free of charge.

Maybe not mistaken, just self serving and greedy.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

brunascle (994197) | about 8 years ago | (#16411921)

and probably most of the punk scene, including all of it's sub-scenes.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 8 years ago | (#16413083)

Weird Al [dontdownloadthissong.com] , too.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16413237)

I have the gut feeling this is going to be the first Weird Al CD that I will not buy.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | about 8 years ago | (#16411103)

Generally, I'm a little pessimistic that copyright becomes the "green" movement of the 2010s. I'd love to see it, and I'll support it with everything I can, but my hopes are not too high.

I'd have to agree, if simply because in all the casual conversations I've had with people over so-called copyright issues, the overwhelming response seems to be that a writer (or movie maker, or whatever) should get iron-clad protection for their work.

The general public simply likes the notion that somebody's "idea" (especially one of their own) can be heavily protected.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16414137)

This can be used in favor as the basis for an "anti-copyright as it is today" movement, instead of an "anti-all-copyright". If the law was changed so that copyright wasn't transferable by contract in any way (not even by "exclusivity clauses", which would be legally void), that would bring about many of the benefits sought after by the "anti-all-copyright" people, while at the same time pleasing those who believe that "new ideas" must be protected. For instance, all artists would own their musics, not the labels (much less the RIAA), all directors would own their movies, not the studios (much less the MPAA), all the programmers would own their code, not their employees (much less the BSA), all the scientists would own their own discoveries, not the multinational labs, and so on and so forth. The whole legal landscape would change for the better no matter what, because artists, directors, programmers and scientists have very different priorities in regards to the businessmen for whom they work.

Hmm... someone should develop this idea further. It might get a lot of popular support.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16411565)

Let's also not forget that the environment and peace movement was also driven by songwriters, poets and other "content creators", and only a handful of them were actually concerned with the issue, the rest saw a huge market to milk.

Well, the peace movement in the 60's was driven by the fact that just about every person in the USA in their early 20's was facing the prospect of forced to go get killed in a jungle halfway around the world for reasons that didn't make any sense.

The environmental movement was driven by the observation that the environment was getting paved over and polluted and that there wasn't much left to enjoy.

Maybe the artists were cynical and maybe they weren't but they were a side effect rather than the cause.

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about 8 years ago | (#16411903)

The environment can become a much larger issue now than it was in the 70's and 80's, for the simple reason that the consequences of global warming are potentially far worse than what was faced in the 70's and 80's. Smog is for the most part a local condition. Acid rain affects a wider region, but it is still somewhat localized. Global warming will affect the entire climate system. The risks are simply too huge to ignore.

Add to that the ever growing consensus in the scientific and intellectual communities that global warming is real, that it is strongly associated with human activity, and that it carries significant risks for the future, and you have a potentially huge swing in public opinion. Many of the so-called "climate skeptics" are increasingly seen as dishonest, smooth talking sophists similar to the main character in the movie "Thank you for Smoking".

When global warming enters the public consciousness in a significant way, the consequences will be felt far and wide. In America, it will be a political earthquake. There will be great anger for those politicians who closed their eyes to reality and did nothing. Global warming as a political issue will not go away. (I was going to say it will snowball, but given the predictions, I don't think that's the analogy I am looking for ;))

Re:I doubt it becomes as much an issue (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16413147)

Erh... the subject was that copyright issues won't become as importnat as the environment issues were in the 70s. Not that environment is now less important than it was in the 70s.

US Economy (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | about 8 years ago | (#16410569)

After the manufacturing sector imploded and now the services sector is hit by outsourcing, the only strongly exportable products produced by the American economy are linked to IP.
The problem is that for this to work, the rest of the world has to adopt USA IP laws, and most countries know it goes against their best interest, so they are not very enthusiastic about it.

Re:US Economy (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16412807)

the only strongly exportable products produced by the American economy are linked to IP. The problem is that for this to work, the rest of the world has to adopt USA IP laws, and most countries know it goes against their best interest, so they are not very enthusiastic about it.

How much do you think Harry Potter and the James Bond franchise are worth to the UK? How many countries (as politically diverse as Canada and China) worry about the cultural impact of cheap foreign imports?

The Geek makes a mistake when he assumes too carelessly that the American IP model has no appeal abroad.

Re:US Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16413825)

There's only four things we do better than everyone else:

music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

-Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

sponGe (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410577)

use the (Sling. [goat.cx]

And in another tie-in (3, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 8 years ago | (#16410595)

I wonder why the publisher still make me take atoms when all I really want are bits.

I.e. getting rid of copyrights (or bringing them back to 14+14 years) would help the environment.

Re:And in another tie-in (1)

Peter Mork (951443) | about 8 years ago | (#16410667)

Can somebody explain why so many people think copyrights were originally 14+14 years? I hear this erroneous assertion frequently. From the copyright office [copyright.gov] : "Under the law in effect before 1978 ... the copyright lasted for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The copyright was eligible for renewal during the last (28th) year of the first term. If renewed, the copyright was extended for a second term of 28 years." In other words, 28+28.

Re:And in another tie-in (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16410733)

You and the GP seem to use the word 'originally' quite creatively. As I see it, copyrights originally lasted for exactly 0 years, just as they still should.

Re:And in another tie-in (2, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 8 years ago | (#16410961)

Can somebody explain why so many people think copyrights were originally 14+14 years? I hear this erroneous assertion frequently. From the copyright office: "Under the law in effect before 1978 ... the copyright lasted for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The copyright was eligible for renewal during the last (28th) year of the first term. If renewed, the copyright was extended for a second term of 28 years." In other words, 28+28.
It's not an erroneous assertion. The Copyright Act of 1790 set copyright terms at 14 years, renewable for 14 more. The 28+28 terms were enacted by the Copyright Act of 1909. Current copyright law came into effect with the Copyright Act of 1976. See, when the copyright office says "the law in effect before 1978", they're talking about the Copyright Act of 1909. Note how they do not say that the "before 1978" law goes all the way back to the forming of the nation.

Re:And in another tie-in (1)

Peter Mork (951443) | about 8 years ago | (#16412497)

Thanks for the correction. All of the stuff I had seen did indeed mention "the law in effect before 1978," which is rather unbounded. So, I humbly retract my criticism.

Re:And in another tie-in (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 8 years ago | (#16411927)

They'll sell you all the bits you want -- all you have to do is accept DRM. Is DRM good for the environment?

Where are the PDFs? (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 8 years ago | (#16414457)

And Amazon will sell me PDFs of any book I want?

A little off-topic (1)

Descalzo (898339) | about 8 years ago | (#16410819)

I don't know why, but when I hear of the Pirate Party, I think of this little nugget of goodness from Blackadder the Third:

("H" is Mr. Hanna, the reporter, and "I" is Ivor, the candidate)

H: Quite. Now; Ivor Biggun, no votes at all for the Standing-At-The-Back- Dressed-Stupidly-And-Looking-Stupid Party. Are you disappointed?

I: Ah, no, not really, no... I always say, "If you can't laugh, what *can* you do?" Ha-ha-ha-ha (squirts Hanna with flower).

H: ...take up politics, perhaps. Has your party got any policies?

I: Oh yes, certainly! We're for the compulsory serving of asparagus at break- fast, free corsets for the under-fives, and the abolition of slavery.

H: Now, you see, many moderate people would respect your stand on asparagus, but what about this extremist nonsense about abolishing slavery?

I: Oh, we just put that in for a joke! See you next year!

- - - - -

I am not trying to insult the Pirate Party, nor am I trying to downplay the seriousness of the abuses of copyright by Disney and others. I just think that a party like the Pirate Party is hard to take seriously on so many other issues.

Re:A little off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16411319)

Yeah, and they also bribed the electorate, slandered their opponents, and threatened to torture the voters if they lost. What more could any reasonable politician do?

Wrong party (1)

Descalzo (898339) | about 8 years ago | (#16411975)

That was the Whigs.

I find some IP/Copyright Arguments Confusing (2, Insightful)

mcwop (31034) | about 8 years ago | (#16411093)

In a world with no copyright protection, companies will simply create their own protection schemes. Absent law that states otherwise, companies will not be obligated to share their protection schemes with anyone that won't meet their terms. Of course, people could try and circumvent the protection schemes, and the schemes might prevent market success for their products (though this is not guaranteed). But, it is foolish to think that without copyright everything would be easily copy able by everyone except the technologically savvy.

Without copyright, maybe even Microsoft might come up with a protection scheme that works.

Re:I find some IP/Copyright Arguments Confusing (1)

enjahova (812395) | about 8 years ago | (#16411917)

I don't think your arguement works. The reason copy protection schemes are coming up is because copyright law is not enough to stop copying. Don't you think the billions of dollars content creators are (claiming to be) losing is enough incentive already?

While I don't have the balls to be in favor of eliminating copyright completely, I expect that if we did the market would come up with a better answer than protection. There is a fundamental problem with using cryptography to protect content, because you have to give the person the code AND the key. No matter how obscure it won't work. Game companies (like blizzard) have had more sucess, because the content they provide is access to a service, not the content itself.

I think as copyright becomes less important, people will find more ways to make money off of producing IP than just squeezing it dry. I do believe we are on a trend that will have us moving away from IP, simply because of advancements in technology and their consequences on how we communicate. This is becoming a hot issue now because we are at a turning point where big content is fighting to stay alive and the masses are beginning to grasp the consequences of the internet. Its going to take a while, sure, but thats the way I see it going.

Re:I find some IP/Copyright Arguments Confusing (1)

mcwop (31034) | about 8 years ago | (#16412165)

I agree with you, and your post is more clear to the point I was trying to make. I was just trying to say that laws are not necessary to protect works from copying. Companies only need to offer their products so that the marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost over any "free" version (there is no free lunch and free software, for example, has costs such as support etc...). I belive that this is the exact mechanic that has helped Miscrosoft achieve its wealth to a large degree - they used things like development tools etc...

My point originated from an argument that someone made where they felt MSFT only rich and/or successful becuase of copyright. I disagreed for several reasons. My point in this case is that it is possible to be wildly successful even when you do not have copy protection, and that anyone can implement their own protection schemes through value add, or straight DRM.

Re:I find some IP/Copyright Arguments Confusing (1)

andcal (196136) | about 8 years ago | (#16413137)

In a world with no copyright protection, companies will simply create their own protection schemes. Absent law that states otherwise, companies will not be obligated to share their protection schemes with anyone that won't meet their terms. Of course, people could try and circumvent the protection schemes, and the schemes might prevent market success for their products (though this is not guaranteed). But, it is foolish to think that without copyright everything would be easily copy able by everyone except the technologically savvy.
Without copyright, maybe even Microsoft might come up with a protection scheme that works.


I disagree. Even before the advent of the intarweb, copy protection schemes were broken on a regular basis. Now that all the geeks are organized (or at least networked) out the wazoo, copyright protection schemes don't have a chance, outside of heavy-handed legal enforcement on the part of the gubmint.
Furthermore, I-Ack!

Re:I find some IP/Copyright Arguments Confusing (1)

Peaker (72084) | about 8 years ago | (#16413899)

Disclaimer: This is only about software copyrights, not other types of content

Without hardware support (Treacherous Computing and the likes), it is strictly impossible to make a working system.

The subtle consequence is, that trying to limit distribution in order to gain a profit, where that usually or always fails, will not be profitable.

If its not profitable, then large organizations like Microsoft and others will simply not exist.

If large organizations like those do not exist, then suddenly opensource has got a lot more resources going for them - and the under-funded closed-source organizations which will have far fewer sources of income (than today), will simply not be able to compete with opensource.

Without copyright, we won't see strengthening of copying prevention means, we will see the disappearance of closed software, and thus much more incentive to create opensource will exist (Because a convenient closed alternative will simply not exist).

If no money is in the distribution of software, then suddenly money will be redirected from the buying of software copies (i.e distribution) to money to the software development process directly (i.e hiring a programmer to improve that opensource thing we use). In other words, instead of every software creator in the world rewriting his works from scratch to recreate the state of the art, suddenly people can work on advancing the existing state of the art.

That will substantially increase efficiency and I predict that abolishing software copyrights will speed up software development and increase software freedom by an order of magnitude.

THiS FP FOR GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16411207)

tro place a paper

the gospel of the FSM says it is so (1)

giblfiz (125533) | about 8 years ago | (#16411251)

after all,
it has long been known that piracy is directly linked to global warming.
http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/ [venganza.org]

Can't tell the difference - they all look the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16411667)

(Geist is talking about Canada here, but much the same can be said about the U.S. and other places.)


Yes, all the "other places" are pretty much the same aren't they.
Laws, culture, government and environment are essentially generic worldwide.

WTF!!!

Continuous Copyright == Continuous Environment (2)

willow (19698) | about 8 years ago | (#16411817)

It's no wonder copyright has become a political issue -- copyrights have been extended (in the U.S. at least) everytime they're about to expire, effectively having infinite lifespans. How can you ignore something that's forever?

Solution: limited copyrights, like it was originally intended. Current law "reduces" the rate of new work since authors can ride the gravy train of one work forever. Infinite copyright also makes copyrights assets to be acquired, hoarded, and protected via lawsuits. Limited copyrights would make all that go away.

We'd certainly live in a different landscape with limited copyrights and I think I'd like to try it out for while. Wake me up when that happens (like never..).

Re:Continuous Copyright == Continuous Environment (1)

Peaker (72084) | about 8 years ago | (#16413935)

limited copyrights, like it was originally intended.

Consider also that originally, copyright only applied to publishers, because copying was not practical for individuals.

So you could replace that sentence with one closer to what the pirate party is saying:
time-limited copyrights that only apply to for-profit organizations, like it was originally intended.

Huh? (1)

mqduck (232646) | about 8 years ago | (#16412307)

Geist is talking about Canada

Where?

Support our troops! These colors don't run! I'm lovin' it! Born in the USA!

What precisely is wrong with copyright? (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | about 8 years ago | (#16412841)

Copyright, in and of itself, is not evil or wrong. If I, say, write a book, then it should be my prerogative to decide if I sell that book, if I give it away, who can distribute it...copyright, remember, does not preclude people releasing things into the public domain. There's nothing wrong with the basic, fundamental concept of someone controlling the distribution of their work. If they wish to sign away those rights, that's their prerogative too (even if, as some will no doubt be thinking, that is a silly decision to make). If someone violates the authors' wishes, then the author has legal recourse to receive compensation. This, in my view, is perfectly fair and indeed necessary, considering how profitable it can be to sell other peoples' work.

I will happily agree with those who say that the extensions to copyright lobbied for by the media companies are wrong; if the copyright on a work lasts beyond the original creators' lifetime then that is incredibly excessive, and I can see absolutely no reason for it to last that long, after all, works in the public domain are just as important, if not more so, as copyrighted works. But these extensions, for all their immorality, are not arguments against the basic tenet of copyright; that an author should receive legal protection when they create something. I personally think the way forward is for lobbying to reduce the copyright period to a set level, but sadly without massive popular backing this isn't likely to happen, much less succeed. It doesn't particularly help that an immature section of the public views copyright law as nothing more than an obstruction to getting free music and movies (ThePirateBay, I'm looking at you), rather than as the valuable protection that it is.

Copyright is the reason that a popular band cannot claim your work as their own. Copyright is the reason that if you write software you have the choice to license it under any license you choose. Without the copyright protections enshrined in law, people would have little to no legal recourse against other people using their works for profit. If it was entirely gone, you would almost certainly miss it. You might hurt the RIAA and the MPAA, true...but at what cost to the "culture" many so vocally champion?

Re:What precisely is wrong with copyright? (2, Interesting)

Peaker (72084) | about 8 years ago | (#16414117)

then it should be my prerogative to decide if I sell that book, if I give it away, who can distribute it...
Why should it? I hope you realize that this is your personal opinion. A lot of us think that the individual freedom to share, copy, modify, or otherwise do anything I want with information in my posesion is more important than the distribution control of the author. This is obviously a tradeoff between certain factors:
  1. The author's control over the distribution (And thus, the profitability and incentive to create works).
  2. The freedom of users to share, copy, or modify the works (And thus, the possibility to enhance the state of the art and a potential to increase efficiency).
  3. The amount of government involvement.

The position people have on copyright is not inherent, and I think you have been educated/conditioned to believe that one thing "should" be and the other shouldn't. I think we "should" decide whether copyright is right/moral based on the perceived value of that tradeoff.

I see where copyright supporters come from, because they simply have different ideas about how important each item in the above list is.

I personally find number 1 and 3 less important, and find number 2 (Both in the freedom and in the efficiency aspect) to be of much higher importance.

That is why I think copyright is wrong.

Copyright is the reason that a popular band cannot claim your work as their own.
Even if that were the case (not having all the facts, I think it is not), a limited law about the ability to make a civilian libel case against those who attribute your work to them would be a satisfactory solution, regardless of copyright.

A recent voice in the debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16412893)

The Swedish Pirate Party recently added the following document to their reading list:

http://www2.piratpartiet.se/wiki/Why_We_Are_Right [piratpartiet.se]

It's a sort of summary of many ideas, and picks open the problems of why copyrights and patents don't match reality. Nothing hugely novel there, but all well summarised.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16414001)

I did not RTFA, but I question his claim about this trend [google.com] .
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