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(Well Written) Essay Against Copyright

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the saturday-morning-coffee-and-reading dept.

Editorial 204

rts writes "A well written article about how copyrights and patents are anti-free market is running in the Canadian paper "The National Post"." The backdrop to the story is, perhaps inevitably, the Napster case - but it's much better written then most of the other bazillion Napster editorials. Update: 01/28 04:48 PM by S :The article refered to this paper by Stephan Kinsella.

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Article sucked? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#476998)

Hmmm...

I'm not sure, because all that philosophical doublespeak got me confused, but I have a feeling that that article might have sucked.

I'll take the final sentence as an illustration: "Since ideas should not be treated as property, laws that target those who have not violated person or property are wrong". I'm guessing this is the grand finale of the writer's argument. Now this comes after focussing on commercial music recordings.

But Brittany Spears songs are NOT an idea. They're an implementation. A product. It took a huge amount of money just to produce the music, let alone to market it. This is what I think the author has completely missed.

Surely when somebody invests time and money to create something, they should be given the right to determine who gets free copies and who should pay for it!?

The public's current attitude towards music pricing is the result of supply exceeding demand (hence reducing perceived value), as well as dissatisfaction with niche music being ignored in favour of factory-production hits. Music fans still don't object to paying reasonable prices for the music they genuinely like, as research on Napster users has shown.

Heh, I do wonder how that writer would feel if suddenly all her freelance writing became open fodder for free distribution because people suddenly decided that it was just an idea that deserved to float in the ether, rather than a product that took time and effort to produce. This philosophical stuff is all good and well, but last time I looked, freelance writers needed an income too.

So anyway, I know I've probably just missed some important points in the philosophical-jargon-laden-section, so please enlighten me, fellow Slashdotters!

That's all.

P.S. Oh, didn't Stephen King cut his online novel prematurely and go back to writing more lucrative commercial novels?

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#476999)

Nope.

The BT (British Telecom) patent on hyperlinks is a USA patent :-)

Re:Anti-free-market? How ironic.. (1)

eataTREE (7407) | more than 13 years ago | (#477004)

Did Mr. Black not sell the Post, as well as most of the rest of his Canadian newspaper holdings, a few months ago? Unfortunately, the rather extreme right-wing, anti-Chretien slant of the paper seems unchanged. It's a sad day, indeed, when the Globe and Mail is the most liberal-leaning daily in Canada.

A function of value/new business models (1)

seichert (8292) | more than 13 years ago | (#477005)

People will pay for something that has value to them if they have to. For example, I value the chicken in the supermarket and as the chicken is currently the store's property I must pay them to acquire it and consume it. You may not value chicken and thus do not have to acquire it. I also value the recorded music of the band Metallica. I don't particularly value the stamped CD or the jewel case. I can acquire the recorded music for relatively no marginal cost (note I made a fixed investment in a computer, audio card, speakers, ethernet card, DSL service, and electricity). My only true marginal cost is my time and effort to seek out and download this music. I would be willing to pay a business to make this process easier for me. Saving me time and effort has value.

But what about Metallica. Clearly they have invested countless hours and dollars in the creation of the prerecorded music that I value. Should I be forced at gunpoint (forced by law) to compensate them with my money? Should the business that helped me save time in the downloading process be forced by law to compensate them?

I think the answer is clearly NO. But then how can Metallica possibly make any money by creating prerecorded music?

Several ways. First they can use the pre-recorded music as a loss-leader (open up your marketing 101 books) to bring more and more people into their for-pay concerts. A live performance is still valued by most music fans and is a unique once in a lifetime service (either you were there or you were not, and no watching it on pay-perview is not just as good (unless the band stinks)). Besides performance the band can hold other special events and charge for admission. If they truly want to be compensated for their pre-recorded music then they can release their songs serially and demand a ransom to release the next one (or next set, whatever they want to). Basically this is the street performer protocol and would work well.

This is long-winded, but my point is that times are changing and the internet allows for the sharing of information between people for virtually no marginal cost. Business models based on government enforcement of IP monopolies will not last as people will find a way to get what they want.
Stuart Eichert

Re:Well-written? (1)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#477006)

There are many incentives for people to create, but I don't think most artists see money as the incentive for creation. It's probably more like a benefit or a bonus.

You could say the same about anything else -- building bridges, writing software, etc. The fact remains that he's ignored the question regarding economic incentives. Why should artists go unpaid for their work, especially if the public are willing to pay to hear it ?

Re:Great Debating Point (1)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#477007)

was discussing this very thing to colleagues yesterday: they had seen the PBS special by Ken Burns - Jazz - and remarked as to how music used to be literally free. A musician wrote a song and played it in a bar and got paid.

Music is never free -- someone has to put time and effort into it. Basically, whgat you're saying is that the musicians were screwed. This certainly explains why the bebopers had such short life spans Charlie parker was on his way out before he was thirty, Billy Holiday died fairly young, as did most of them (Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Bud Powell, ... ) ... it's easier to count the ones that *didn't* die young

A lot of these guys died because they were basically worn out -- they'd prematurely aged partly through drug abuse, but you can't sort of seperate the drug abuse from the fact that these guys were working ridiculous hours playing live.

You can do away with copyrights and still get great music, and that's just fine if you're happy to screw the artists (which most of the napseter mob are)

Do people really want to abandon copyrights? (1)

edw (10555) | more than 13 years ago | (#477015)

As a writer and programmer, it's going to take a lot of explaining to convince me that I should have no control over the distribution and use of the products of my work.

One of the justifications of real -- as in real estate -- property rights argues that when an individual puts work into a piece of land by by improving it (clearing, cultivating, etc.), he acquires the right of ownership. This concept still exists in U.S. law: if I occupy a piece of land and treat it as my own and pay taxes, after many years (ten or twenty) I become the legitimate owner of the property. If the prior owner cares so little about it that he is not aware of your squatting or does nothing about it, he does not "deserve" the land.

As an aside, notice the analogy to trademark law? If others use your trademark, and you do nothing to stop it, you lose the trademark.

Anyway, I believe that it's the work and not the physicality of the property that is important. In other words, this principle of ownership doesn't disappear simply because the thing being improved -- created, actually -- is not tangible.

But just as physical property rights are limited, so should intellectual property rights. The big problem we have today is the destruction of fair use through the passage of ill-conceived laws (DMCA) and shrink- and click-wrap licenses.

Remember that without copyright law, the GPL (which I personally think is evil) could not exist, and nothing would really change, because intelligent intellectual property holders will simply move completely from using copyrights to contracts and licenses to control the distrubution and use of their work.

What we really need is a law that roughly states that "Congress shall pass no law and no individual or corportation may enforce any contract that abridges the fair use of copyrighted material."

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 13 years ago | (#477019)

When trading purely services, you are in fact, using your own property, namely your own body, mind, intellect. These belong to you and any services you provide would be based on the use of your property.

If someone wants you to mow the lawn, you would be providing a service. You might use some property to do it more efficiently than otherwise. You might use a lawnmower you own. You use property all the time in the commission of providing a service.

But, the property is in no way a part of the actual trade for services. You aren't renting your body or mind to someone for an hour. You aren't lending the person your lawnmower, you're making an agreement to make sure that something is accomplishmeded. While property may be used to cary out your end of the contract and things you do may affect someone else's property, the property itself is not the subject of the monetary exchange.

I just felt the need to be nitpicky.

Re:Scientists decoding genomes (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 13 years ago | (#477021)

Do you not see? All of your arguments are about MONEY. Making an honest living would be SELLING software and not LICENSING it. How do you know that if the books were copied for free no one would want to be an author? ahem.. GNU/GPL/BSDed software. Point is made.

All your base are belong to us.


-=Gargoyle_sNake
-=-=-=-

The real issue (1)

jstepka (20825) | more than 13 years ago | (#477022)

You all must remember the real issue regarding the DeCSS code and the MIAA is the 'fair use' laws. Currently the MIAA is twisting the law to remove YOUR legally protected fair use rights. Part of your 'fair use' rights are to use the product you purchase as your see fit.

I encourage everyone to purchase this t-shirt [copyleft.net] from copyleft.net. These t-shirts contain some of the DeCSS. Printing the code on the t-shirt is exercising you rights to free speech. Part of the profits (4 dollars) go to help defend the people being sued by the MIAA.

Re:Flip side of copyrights (1)

Phill Hugo (22705) | more than 13 years ago | (#477023)

So BigExistingCoInc takes an idea that is unpatented and implements it themselves, in the process having to sell it at a lesser price or even give it away free. Fair play, that is called Freedom and it shouldn't stop just because a large number of people are acting in unison. (Microsoft or not).

The problem is that the BigExistings often find ways to remove that freedom from others - including the real SmallNewGuys who are just using their computers / instuments / whatever to entertain and help others.

Personally, I think the removal of the assumed income from 'pattern control' is a low price to pay in exchange for the open ability to improve on what is available without worring about stepping on other peoples patents and copyrights etc.

The only supplied counter argument to support those mechanisms ('that they encourage generation of new works of art and science' - rather than the real reason - 'that they can ensure enourmous profit') is quite weak when you remember that lots of works of art and science were created without such control systems in place and any scientist or musician would be happy working without such an offer of massive wealth (many do already and plenty of good scientific research is government funded). Further the ability for them to work according to their own abilities unrestricted by patent and copyright control will, I think, be a very good thing for the majority of people on this planet.

Re:Copyrights and patents are a necessary evil (1)

TheMenace (25892) | more than 13 years ago | (#477024)

no matter what kind of arguments Canadian (who do NOT live in a capitalistic economy, they have something called "democratic socialism" up there, and it doesn't work like our system does, no matter what they may claim)
This is absolutely absurd. Do you know anything about Canada? This type of post reminds me of the segments on This Hour has 22 Minutes (Canadian comedy program) where they go to the US and ask questions like "What do you think about the war in Saskatchewan?"
capitalism n. An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.
Are you saying that production and distribution in Canada is not privately owned? Or are you suggesting that there is no free market here?
Canada's economy is very much capitalist. Our goverment may provide "socialist" programs such as universal health care, but we are far from being a socialist county. Maybe you should do a little more research before posting such ludicrous claims.

Re:Scientists decoding genomes (1)

twoodfin (30618) | more than 13 years ago | (#477025)

Do you not see? All of your arguments are about MONEY. Making an honest living would be SELLING software and not LICENSING it.

Strangely enough, this is exactly what the author of the piece is proposing: replace the blanket protection of copyright with a hodgepodge of legally enforceable licensing contracts. All easily reproducible media would be licensed under contracts, much like most software is today. Facilitating anything like this for the millions of currently copyrighted works sold daily would certainly require new contract laws, laws many might find distasteful. Imagine entering into a binding contract with a record company every time you buy a CD -- one that wouldn't have to include fair use.

How do you know that if the books were copied for free no one would want to be an author? ahem.. GNU/GPL/BSDed software. Point is made.

Pointing to a few examples of software made non-commercially hardly demonstrates that the elimination of copyright would not have disastrous effects. I'll repeat the tired point that it is only copyright (and the dubious right of license interpreted to accompany the installation of software) that prevents GPL code from being used in non-GPL products, or BSD code from being used without credit as such. In addition, there are some creative works that simply could not be financed without the kind of IP copyright ensures. Each of the 25 top grossing films of all time, for instance.

Copyright law may be broken in several ways: DMCA restrictions on free expression and fair use, seemingly infinite extensions, etc. However, rewarding creators with exclusive rights to their creations is, I think, a noble principle.

Re:Incentive (1)

befletch (42204) | more than 13 years ago | (#477030)

Individuals and corporations need some sort of incentive to perform research and, for example, produce new drugs. A basc motivation for patent protection is to grant some tangible 'value' to these pursuits.

To which the author of the article replied that there are other forms of protection available, such as trade secret and (a libertarian's favorite) contract.

I wish I could agree with the article, but I don't think he addressed this point very well. The field of drug development is an excellent example; I don't want to start taking any drugs that have been developed under trade secret, do you? And it is rather unlikely that the researcher is going to get a contract with everyone in the world to only use the new drug information under royalty bearing license.

It seems to me that patents are necessary in this case. What is a patent but a contract with an entire nation? If anyone can suggest another alternative, I'm all ears.

Now, as to whether the patent system is currently well serving the needs of the general public, that is an entirely separate discussion.

Re:Scientists decoding genomes (1)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477031)

Since when did copyright enter within the boundaries of nerds (unless said nerds are "leet hax0rs" who want to steal music and movies).

Simple: copyright (so it is being argued) creates monopolies; I would argue that this has been particularly true in the software industry, where different products must interoperate with each other to be useful (so by having market power in one area, you can leverage it into another). Monopolies are less likely to pay attention to what you want than businesses in a competitive market. So consumers, particularly non-average ones like nerds, lose out.


Think about it. How often has it been the case that the Best software program has not been the one which won out? I think it's lots; you may disagree. But it's obviously a question dear to many of our hearts, and a question directly affected by copyright, so I think copyright matters to nerds.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (1)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477032)

The point of economics is so you, the human individual, can work and receive credit for your your work if others find it useful, and use that credit to trade for the works of others you find useful yourself.
Ok.
Intellectual property (patent and copyright) law is the only means of providing credit to the creators of new useful items so that they can obtain these neccessary to life items. The creators of these new and useful items must receive some credit for their efforts or they will not be able to continue to produce them.

I disagree. Creativity existed before copyright. Creativity would exist without copyright. Throughout history, people have profited from their creativity without using copyright. Today, various businesses profit from writing open-source software without making use of their legal ability to stop others using that software.

Copyright causes some incentives to innovate. It destroys other incentives to innovate (because it limits my desire to build on someone else's good idea). I don't think that removing copyright would have an overall negative effect on innovation. Sure, the marketplace would be different, but creators could still benefit from their ideas, just in different ways from before.

Re:Tangible versus Intellectual Goods (1)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477033)

your use of my Intellectual Property in selling it DOES exclude my use in selling it.

Sure, but you have to stop somewhere. Your free use of the air stops me (making use of my air by selling it to you). You are saying that my use of a program stops you (using your copy by selling it to me). If the difference is that you think you have a moral right to exclude me from using a pattern of bits, then that is a *moral* argument based upon beliefs you have. That's fine, but don't confuse it with an economic argument, based upon what maximises the success of the economy overall.

Re:Well written? (1)

_xen (79742) | more than 13 years ago | (#477035)

John Locke's political writings are pretty much the basis for the constitution of the USA. And it is an economic fact that scarcity preceeds property.

Well Locke's theory of property was that "the act of creation" (or more precisely the admixture of Labour and Nature) brings property into existence, not scarcity. The piece is so badly written, however, that the author seems to imply the opposite.

Here's what Locke wrote:

... every Man has a Property in his own
Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we must say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left in it, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men.

The propertarian argument in favour of IP is that such an argument can also be extended to the products of people's intelligence. On this view the limited duration of various species of IP amounts to nothing less than an illegitimate expropriation by the state.

I should note that this is not a view that I would personally endorse, (unless of course I was being paid to do so. :P)

Locke Quote (1)

_xen (79742) | more than 13 years ago | (#477036)

Sorry, I negleted to give a citation for that quote. It is from Book II of Locke's Two Treatises of Government, at sn. 27.

Re:The real problem with patents (1)

_xen (79742) | more than 13 years ago | (#477037)

And most importantly nowadays, TRIPS, which is annexed to the WTO treaty. This give internation IP real bite since you can effectively be excluded from world trade if you don't play ball.

Wellwritten and wrong (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 13 years ago | (#477038)

<I>
Say I write a novel and you decide to film a movie based on my novel's plot, using your own filming equipment. Were I only to proclaim I owned the ideas in my novel, I would merely be exercising my free speech. But when I want to prohibit you from using your filming equipment as you please, and can use the force of law to do so, I am violating your property right. Under the law as it now stands, my act of creation is all it takes for me to be able to exercise control over your filming equipment.</I> <p>
Interesting, in which country this should work? You may prevent him from DISTRIBUTING, PUBLISHING and PUBLIC PERFORMANCE of HIS film. <p>
However you have no controll over his filming equippment as long as he is not filming your person.<p>
Regards,<p>
angel'o'sphere

Tangible versus Intellectual Goods (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 13 years ago | (#477039)

Tangible goods, we all agree, are properly the objects of property rights. This is because they are economically scarce. But the notion that the mere act of creation confers ownership is problematic. and further: Economic scarcity results when my use of an item conflicts with your use of it. This is an interesting definition. However I think this is not the right definition to use as a base for the arguments against intellectual property. ... my use of this particular PC excludes your use of it Especialy: your use of my Intellectual Property in selling it DOES exclude my use in selling it. Anyway, if you argue again with technical issues then please lets directly got to the point: a) I like a c++ compiler which compiles to java byte code b) I like my private space craft with should be able to accelerate at least for 6 month with 1m/s^2 c) hm, I think one of you know how to mak ea warp drive, you OWE me that information No no, you have not invented it so far? This does not cournt I WANT you to invent it right NOW and to publish the information that I can combine c) with b) for my private space yacht Surely a) is easy to manage, so why CAN'T you morone who have it not simply GIVE it to me? Regards, angel'o'sphere P.S. my point is: I have the strong impression that intellectual property(non tangible goods) are even more scarce than tangible ones. At least a sailing yacht I can buy everywhere.

Not to flame, but... (1)

crucini (98210) | more than 13 years ago | (#477040)

Did you even read the cited article, Urban Existentialist? The article explains why 'intellectual property' is not property.
... not just abolish it because it has teething troubles.

"Teething troubles" would make sense if the patent system were new and we were working the bugs out of it. On the contrary, the system is quite old. It seemed to function OK prior to computers. Since the advent of computers, the patent system is increasingly ridiculous, unjust and disconnected from reality. It's more like an old dog that's lost control of its bladder.

Re:Actually... Yes (1)

slyfox (100931) | more than 13 years ago | (#477041)

What then? By producing drugs that alleviate the symptoms but which do not cure the disease, making the patients dependent on those drugs for the rest of their life.

Drug companies, like all companies, are looking to make money. If drug companies are only making drugs to alleviate symptoms, maybe the government should step in and provide incentives to encourage these companies to develop drugs that actual cure or prevent disease.

It is not difficult to think of drugs, such as antibiotics and vaccines, that are counter-examples to your claim that drug companies focus on producing drugs that only alleviate symptoms.

That said, my original point still stands. Drug companies are not going to produce drugs (even ones that only alleviate symptoms) without some intellectual property/patent protection.

Re:Copyleft depends on copyright (1)

SmokeSerpent (106200) | more than 13 years ago | (#477042)

Can't they do this very thing today? As long as they make sure no one talks and nothing fishy shows up when you run 'strings' on it, you would never have solid evidence if IE12 was really 99% Mozilla alpha release#200345613 code under the skin.

Besides, in a copyright-(and left-)less world, nothing would stop anyone with a CD burner from copying Windows2023 and Microsoft would have to switch to a service and support model, and they would have no real reason not to release their source code. So, in the end, we would have a lot of businesses switch to copyleft-like behavior. The only reason copyleft needs to exist as it does today is because copyright has such a stranglehold on us already.

article isn't leftist? (1)

zeppelin71 (114625) | more than 13 years ago | (#477045)

The point of view in this article doesn't strike you disctinctly leftist?

Re:Flip side of copyrights (1)

NullStream (121401) | more than 13 years ago | (#477048)

Welcome to the real world...

This happens everyday in almost every industry.

Re:Incentive (1)

Ex-Cyber (125514) | more than 13 years ago | (#477049)

What is a patent but a contract with an entire nation?

The problem is that it's not that simple. If a patent is a contract with the government, then the holder of the patent potentially has the power to sit at both sides of the table, so to speak. They get the benefits offered by the agreement, but they can also influence the government to remove or tone down undesirable elements, such as the requirement that the contract expires within X years.

Re:I'd hardly call this a good argument against IP (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 13 years ago | (#477052)

The second argument is that one should be entitled to the product of their own mind... My creating that product or idea and restricting its usage does NOT detract from your life, unless you take the fact that I generated that product or idea for granted.

The first argument is strong, but I'll take a moment to split the hair of this second argument. I believe it was Jefferson who said something about it being unnatural to restrict an idea once it has been uttered publicly.

A hypothetical example: Let's say someone writes a book which outlines a conspiracy on how to take over the government; it identifies phrasewords by which the elite conspirators will identify each other. Now, as the conspiracy based on this book progresses in real life, then clearly if I am prevented from reading or using this material, it detracts from my life. Ideas can be powerful, not merely entertainment.

I think this situation is broadly analagous to genetic ownership of plants which supersede and potentially replace "natural" crop strains. Or, the case of the Church of Scientology in the way they jealously guard their institutional writings. Or, generalized issues about access to information technology and the power differential across the "digital divide". A product/idea which causes older ideas to no longer be supported will harm me if I don't have access to it.

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477061)

What I was trying to mean was that when you publish something on the web, you give it to the people.

As long as that site's up I can link to it and anyone can enjoy the content for free. If it was in a book, though, I'd only be able to provide a bibliographical reference and directions to the library of congress.

I know that copying the article verbatim is verboten -- and literally, I said the opposite. I'm sorry, sometimes secondary meanings don't come across so well in print. I should be more clear.

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477062)

(Check my response above).

Yeah, sorry... didn't mean for that sentence to be read like that; I should have chosen other words. Oh well - can't win 'em all. :-/

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477065)

>WHICH I WROTE THIS MORNING ALL BY MYSELF

The author is talknig about abolishing copyright. This doesn't mean removing an author's name from a work. The author never even mentioned that.

But then again you are the idiot author who is defending himself by no mentioning what your entire stance is about, right?

If you are going to take an article and pretend to publish it without a name, ahem, try to make sure it defends you instead of simply leading you totally off topic.

Re:Flip side of copyrights (1)

barc0001 (173002) | more than 13 years ago | (#477070)

Was that tongue in cheek? You say that like that doesn't happen now. Anyone remember Stac Electronics? Makers of the only hard drive doubling software that *DIDN'T* corrupt your hard drive? What happened to them? M$ stole their source (didn't even bother reverse-engineering it), modified (broke) it, and gave the world DoubleSpace, early versions of which were prone to wreck hard drives. Anyway, Stac was pissed, they went to court, and M$ dragged it out for over a year and a half, eventually lost and had to cough up several million to them. However, that didn't matter to M$ since that was only a puny percentage of their profits, but to Stac, their market share was decimated since DoubleSpace was included in every MSDOS from 6 on up. The award ran the company for about a year, but they were a "bunch of Talented People (tm)" that were a one trick pony, and since nobody wanted to buy their trick anymore, they dried up and blew away. So don't tell me that copyright protection in its current form stops the Big Companies from taking things they really want. All it does is give them a little bee sting as they do it.

Re:Scientists decoding genomes (1)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#477071)

Okay, Fervent, I'll be a man. This is not meant as an insult, and it may even get modded down as 'ot', but I am tired of people blabbing on about how 'this topic is stupid' and 'I was a /.er when it was cool and we had topics in those days that Mattered' yadadyadayada... its getting worse than the flames. Why don't you go where Roblimo and Kiss the Blade went and we don't have to hear this crap anymore? If you think the rice genome and stem cell thing is topical, important, and worthy, fsckin submit it, okay?

Oh, and by the way, what people are thinking about IP, and copyrights, and DeCSS is Very Important right now, and definitely belongs in this forum. It is not about l337 4ax0r5 stealing; it is more about the future of ideas and whether corps can sew them up or if people can freely access them. Your opinion is not absolutely required here. In my opinion. :)

Sorry, guys... I kinda lost it there... okay mod me down now...

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477072)

His essay was published on the web. ...I think that pretty much means he has no IP rights to it.
I don't know what jurisdiction you're living in, but you're mistaken if you're talking about U.S. copyright law. Try doing some random websurfing on commercial web pages. They all have copyright notices somewhere on the page. You don't lose your copyright unless you intentionally sell it or proclaim that your work is dedicated to the public domain.


The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477073)

I think that pretty much means he has no IP rights to it.
I assume you're talking about U.S. law. You're wrong. You might want to check out some of the articles in the relevant Open Directory category to correct your misunderstanding.


The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

Re:Great Debating Point (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477074)

music used to be literally free. A musician wrote a song and played it in a bar and got paid.
When are you talking about? The 17th century? Musicians have to pay royalties when they perform music they didn't write. It's been that way since before jazz existed.


The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

Re:Technology and realistic politics (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477075)

Oh yeah, I'd like to add #3 to the list I made above:

(3) The author seems completely ignorant of the free information movement and the concept of copyleft. Stephen King's deal was nothing more than an unusual use of shareware sales techniques in the book industry. His book is copyrighted. An guess what? If copyright was abolished tomorrow, there would no longer be any way to enforce the GPL or any other copyleft license. The only reason you're bound by the GPL is that if you don't agree to it, you don't have permission to download the (copyrighted!) information.


The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

JamesOfTheDesert (188356) | more than 13 years ago | (#477077)

It sounds, though, as if one newspaper can sign a contract, publish the work, and be obligated to pay the author, but a second newspaper can, the next day, simply reprint the article, and (not having signed a contract) not owe anybody anything. The reason contracts and the like arise is *because* of the enforcement of IP laws. It sounds odd to suggest that removing any *requirement* to form a contract would *encourage* people to form contracts.

James

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (1)

bluesninja (192161) | more than 13 years ago | (#477079)

Your quibble is completely beside the point.

Remember, the author stressed that contracts would replace IP protectionism. The author of this essay can easily engage in a contract with the National Post for payment for permission to publish her essay. Once that contract has been made, and the essay is released on the web (or in print), any other copies can be legitimately made by third parties who have not signed a contract. No problem. The NP gains no "rights" to the duplication of the essay. Nor does the author. But the NP, like all newspapers, is in the business of providing content, and is forced to make contracts with writers to obtain its product. The writers win. The National Post wins. The readers of the story win. Everybody wins. Except the recording industry's business model. Too bad for them.

/bluesninja

How do we reckon artisitic value? (1)

Millard Fillmore (197731) | more than 13 years ago | (#477080)

The basic problem with this argument is that it does in fact discourage the creation of art. I will be the first to argue that art should be pursued out of passion, and for its own merit as an improvement to humanity. That's great, but the wonderful "free-market" system we have created, the same one that lets me buy things I like and live in a nice house, means that most of the time we assign value in financial terms. What is a successful artist? One whose work is appreciated for its own intrinsic value, or one who gets paid a lot for his work, or both? Sure, you might argue that if one other person looks at, listens to, or reads your artistic work, you have made a successful contribution. But without the old patronage system, an artist needs capital to keep producing, because art, like most other things in our culture, is seen as a commodity, whether it is scarce or not. Take away protection, and in principle, you take away the ability to earn income from art. Here I must apologize, because I do not have a counter-proposal. I don't know how to allow for the introduction of digital mass-ditribution and portect the free-market economic value of art in modern culture. I do know, however, that until that culture changes to include a reckoning of non-monetary value, we must continue to provide protection of authorship and artistic production.

another side is... (1)

Technodummy (204943) | more than 13 years ago | (#477083)

the artists themselves. And I'm not just talking the very famous ones. Your average Joe artist NEEDS copyright in an extreme way. Most of them don't have money for their own lawyer, if people do steal their stuff and copy it all over creation.

Artists who receive no payment for their hard work will simply keep it to themselves. Some artists love the limelight, but most just love to create.

Not many people like to have their hard work stolen.

I'm not on the side of the RIAA, I don't think they're much good to their artists at all.

But blanket copyright nullification is just not going to work.

It takes time to create, and it takes money to live. Even if art isn't gone completely as a goal, it'll be on reduced time.

The world would be a poorer place if some of the old Masters had had to work in a pub instead of creating one of their paintings.

shallow arguments (1)

odin53 (207172) | more than 13 years ago | (#477084)

Well-written, perhaps, but not well-argued. She puts forth only the arguments against copyright, not any of the well-established arguments for it. Intellectual property law, for many, many years, has tried to balance the problems she brings up -- essentially, the economic inefficiency of IP rights -- and the rights that inhere in an author's unique creation. IP law has *always* struggled with this. Don't think that lawyers or judges or even legislators have never thought about the "anti-free market" aspect of giving IP rights to creators. We all know that monopolies -- state-sanctioned or natural -- are economically inefficient. It's just that hundreds of years of authorship and trying to protect people's rights in creation have demonstrated a clear countervalue that needs to be addressed in the balance of trying to promote the social benefit of having IP in the public domain. In the same way, pointing out the "economic scarcity" and inapposition of IP and real property issue is pretty shallow, because IP law has recognized this for a long, long time. The upshot is that the focus of IP isn't promoting a free market: it's striking a balance between letting authors decide what can be done with their creations and letting the public enjoy these creations.

That said, there are still many problems in IP law and legislation. But the reason there are problems comes from the trying to strike an equitable balance between two important values.

Finally, it's funny that she puts so much importance on real property rights. No one has perfect control over the use of their real property, because perfect control would infringe on so many of other people's rights. Locke -- whom she so casually name-dropped -- gave a "fruit of the labor" justification for real property ownership: that someone who takes a piece of wood (say, from a publicly accessible forest) and spends a week of hard labor in fashioning it into a nice desk arguably owns the desk. (Or, for example, the fisherman who spends an arduous month on the open seas catching fish to sell. Or the farmer who spends a season cultivating crops from seeds...) Locke came up with this justification because of the strong counterargument that there's no reason why anyone should own anything, since everything comes from elements that "everyone" ostensibly owns (the world environment, mainly; the trees, the mountains, the oceans, etc). So Locke has a good justification for "owning" tangible property. But it can easily be used for IP -- the author who spends years writing a novel, the drug company that spends years and billions of dollars coming up with a drug.

My point is that we've been struggling with the concept of ownership in IP (and in real property) for many years, so shallow arguments like Mercer's aren't very helpful.

Re:Anti-free-market? How ironic.. (1)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#477085)

Does anyone else find it ironic that the quote at the bottom of a copyright/Napster article would be:

"You will gain money by an illegal action."

He sold 50% of National Post (1)

icejai (214906) | more than 13 years ago | (#477086)

I know... I work there. - Ben

Re:Demonstrably false. (1)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 13 years ago | (#477089)

I took the date from the article a couple days ago on copy protection and the CPRM standard, where John Gilmore made the claim

"For example, nothing that was created after 1910 has entered the public domain"
. I'm inclined to agree with him because that's the nature of copyright law such as it exists today. I'm not sure about It's a Wonderful Life, but I believe it's a special case. Somebody got generous or something, but I don't really know. I do know the extent of copyright because I had to deal with it recently in copyrighting website content.

Canada (1)

FigBugDeux (257259) | more than 13 years ago | (#477111)

Canada rules!

(Stereo)Typical male view (1)

jetgirl25 (261741) | more than 13 years ago | (#477112)

If I took his essay, put my name on it and sold it, he might sing a different tune.

Why did you automatically assume the author, Ilana Mercer, was a man?


Just moderate this (-1, offtopic)
Jetgirl

Re:Demonstrably false. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 13 years ago | (#477117)

The moving pictures, sound effects, and dialogue of It's a Wonderful Life are in the public domain (simple matter of lapsed copyright), but the music is not (it was licensed for the film rather than granted).

Someone figured that out 5-10 years ago, and started suing any television station that showed it with sound (istr one tried showing it without sound; ihniw they used subtitles). The number of instances of IAWL across the dial during the holiday season has dropped from several per day to a couple per year.

Of course, someone here could find a way to strip the music from the audio track and overlay some Phish and it'd be a wonderful capracorny phatty PD life again.

--Blair

Re:The real problem with patents (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 13 years ago | (#477118)

And can anyone clear up international patents? What stops a Japanese company from doing '1-click-shopping'?

Treaty. Berne Convention, etc.

No treaty? Fair game. It's a big problem in some countries. And a reason WIPO was created (www.wipo.org).

--Blair

and didn't King halt the publication of The Plant (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#477124)

... over a month ago? Because people stopped paying for it? The writer of this article ignores the need for creators of these "valueless intangibles" to be paid for their efforts, to receive the necessities of life in return for devoting their lives to creating art. I think "The Plant" really anti-proves her point.

Better Resources? (2)

volsung (378) | more than 13 years ago | (#477125)

I want to read a longer, more thorough treatment of intellectual property that argues for its reduction. Most essays on the topic spend so much time introducing the idea that they never get around to addressing all of the concerns/objections to the idea. Can anyone recommend some longer essays/books on the topic?

Copyrighted works ARE scarce (2)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#477132)

Well written ? It completely fails to address the sticky question regarding how to compensate artists.

One important point that he ignores is that copyrighted works are scarce. It's true that copies of a given work may not be scarce, but the work itself certainly is scarce, and it takes very tangible resources to produce (no money in == no copyrighted works out).

Re:Demonstrably false. (2)

Ian Pointer (11337) | more than 13 years ago | (#477134)

False. Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, that staple of holiday TV fare, is in the public domain.
Close. The film footage of It's a Wonderful Life is in the Public Domain, but the score isn't. And yes, the film company that owned the rights was quite happy when they discovered this fact 8-).

Re:Copyrights and patents are a necessary evil (2)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 13 years ago | (#477135)

Strangely enough, the article was making the point that copyrights and patents are actually not a part of the free-market system and are really a form of protectionism.

Of course, actually addressing those points would've prevented you from making this long hand-wringing rant complaining about what the end result of having a copyright and patent system are and wanting to go back to the 'good old days' so the cycle can start all over again.

I long ago decided that copyrights and patents are not strictly necessary. I had kinda felt that way, for awhile, but had many of the same qualms you did, and then I heard about Cygnus [redhat.com] (now owned by RedHat), and I never had another.

Performances (2)

MO! (13886) | more than 13 years ago | (#477141)

It is performances where musical artists make the bulk of their earnings. What another poster pointed out is that artists at one time only earned an income from performances. When recording devices made it possible to distribute copies of an artists performance to people who couldn't/didn't attend a live performance, the modern music business was born.

At issue, though, is that from one perspective, the providers of these recorded performances (records) are merely providing a service. This service is specifically that of providing a recording of a performance I couldn't/didn't attend live. The cost charged to me is for the service, and the costs incurred in providing it to me (the media, production, distribution, etc). If I am suddenly able to obtain a similar (MP3's do not equal CD or Anolog quality recordings) copy of an artist performance, for a lower cost or free, then I should be able to legally obtain that copy.

The artist still can earn an income from their live performances. The businesses who provide the service of producing, distributing, and selling CD or other physical copies of the artist's performance(s) can still earn an income for the service they provide. The method I use to obtain some/all of my copies in no way prevents either of these parties from earning an income for their respective products. Especially since I may still choose to obtain another copy, in CD format from the latter, and by attending a live performance by the first.

In this scenario the only purpose for a Copyright is to prove original authorship. This is necessary to prevent me from, for example, claiming I have written a song that in fact you wrote. By Copyrighting the song, you have a record of your claim which will no doubt predate my claim to have authored the same song. This is what you mean by "owning the ideas of these music makers/movie makers/software makers". I only steal an idea when I falsly claim to have thought of it first - not when I copy that idea without denying the original author due acknowledement. Take note though, acknowledgement does not automatically infer monetary compensation, merely the statement that "so-and-so" is the original creator of this idea.

Here, though, we are talking only of recognition of original authorship - not any type of control over the use of that song. This is exacly where the current scheme falls flat on it's face. By adding the layer of control on top, we pervert the original intent and create the legal and social mess we now have.

We need Copyrights as proof of authorship, we do not need them as control mechinisms used to derive additional income. A perfect example of the harm done to society by this perversion is the current limitations placed on consumer electronic devices. I, as a non-signed musician, cannot cost-effectively produce my own digital recordings because the components available to me at a price I can afford are hobbled so that I cannot output media in a digital format. This hobbling is done per "industry" pressure to prevent "pirating" of Copyrighted material. That it also prevents me from producing my own Copyrighted material doesn't matter one bit to them.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (2)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 13 years ago | (#477144)

copyrights and patents grant a temporary monopoly in an effort to promote the the well being and the advancement of humanity and the sciences. the idea of property is based in greed. do you really think the patent system works perfectly well in the UK and Europe? are you that naive? how does granting this monopoly ON AN IDEA further humanity? 'promotes others to develop new ideas'? im sorry, but that doesn't flow with me. people will have ideas and be creative whether or not you give them a 'right to be greedy' excuse. thats all it comes down too.

There is no such thing as intellectual property. Every idea and every thing is a derivative of that that came before it, only God's first thought could be intellectual property. (and I use the word God not in the divination-praise-the-chruch-send-them-money way, but in the unknown-reaches way, im not exactly a church goer).

If you think patents and copyright are wrong, do not accept them. Ignore them. Fight them. Please do not simply give in and go along with what some magic talking head says to you.

-=Gargoyle_sNake
-=-=-=-

Demonstrably false. (2)

rjh (40933) | more than 13 years ago | (#477147)

No movie produced since 1910 has entered public domain.

False. Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, that staple of holiday TV fare, is in the public domain.

Re:That seems a little over-zealous (2)

rjh (40933) | more than 13 years ago | (#477148)

Do you think Will Shakespeare would have produced plays if it wasn't lucrative[?]

... In a word, YES.

Keep in mind that Shakespeare was dead broke for a lot of his life. If his goal in life was to get rich, he sure picked a lousy profession. In Shakespeare's time, actors couldn't even be buried in the same cemeteries as "decent Christians".

Copyleft is a response to copyright (2)

rjh (40933) | more than 13 years ago | (#477149)

Let's say for sake of argument that you've got a piece of software which, for entirely personal reasons all your own, you place into the public domain. Not only is there no copyright on it, there can be no copyright on it because you've explicitly waived your rights to it.

Can Sun then use it in the next (non-free) version of Solaris? Yep.

Can RMS use it in the next (free) HURD? Yep.

Is it free software? Yep. Even more free than BSD-licensed code, because you aren't even asking for attribution.

RMS would like to see copyright on software done away with altogether, because that means the free software community could disassemble Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and every other UNIX out there. The free software community could investigate how other software works with impunity, not being restricted by those nebulous "anti-reverse-engineering" clauses in software licenses.

While free software would lose a marginal amount if copyright on software were done away with, the community would post a much larger gain.

Re:Technology and realistic politics (2)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477150)

None of the arguments relate to technology at all. Abolishing copyright was tried before the internet existed, during the French revolution. The result was a distaster -- all publishing ceased except for pornography and cheap scandal sheets. To convince me that the results would be different today, I'd have to see an argument that relates to changes in technology.

I think it does mention near-zero-cost reproduction in the article, which is maybe an important point (in those days, you had to be pretty big to run a printing press).
I don't think the differences between today and 1789 are just technological, though. There's stuff like universal literacy, and the fact that the economy is getting more information-based, which also matter (and like you say, aren't mentioned in the article).


Arxiv.org has already shown they're capable of replacing traditional scientific journals completely in some scientific subfields, e.g. string theory.

Cool, I never heard of them before - interesting!

Re:Well written? (2)

RyanMuldoon (69574) | more than 13 years ago | (#477152)

This article isn't necessarily promoting a libertarian viewpoint. In fact, it is working from the Western tradition. John Locke's political writings are pretty much the basis for the constitution of the USA. And it is an economic fact that scarcity preceeds property. Every economic theory that is worth taking seriously is based on that. If that weren't true, how can you even begin to explain concepts like supply and demand? Economics is a study of scarcity. We assign value to items that are hard to get. The more available they are, the less their value. The trouble with this notion of property is how we are to interpret it for IP, which is easily reproduced. Being that IP creators are now able to publish and distribute their works themselves, it is a valid excercise to explore the ramifications of removing the traditional "Middle Men" from the market. If you spend some time and review the history of copyright, you will quickly see that it was originally done to protect the IP creators, but has transitioned into a system that protects the middle men. Is this what we want to reward, or is it idea creation? Also, a large function of copyright is to increase the knowledgebase of the public after the author has had the opportunity to enjoy a limited monopoly. However, the Sonny Bono copyright extension act has extended copyrights an additional 25 years. How does this help the public? I don't see how any of these ideas are libertarian. They are just sane public policy.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (2)

pbryan (83482) | more than 13 years ago | (#477153)

Divec writes:

I disagree; you can have trade which is purely a swap of services. A lot of business-to-business trade is essentially of this form. You only need a concept of property to deal in physical goods which have scarcity (i.e. cannot be duplicated for nothing), like food or computer hardware.

When trading purely services, you are in fact, using your own property, namely your own body, mind, intellect. These belong to you and any services you provide would be based on the use of your property.

If someone wants you to mow the lawn, you would be providing a service. You might use some property to do it more efficiently than otherwise. You might use a lawnmower you own. You use property all the time in the commission of providing a service.

A patent allows you to stop me using an idea which you thought of.

You rightly point out that a patent can even stop me from using an idea I thought about. That fundamental flaw strongly shows why laws to protect intangible "intellectual" property have no place in the information age.

For example...

:-(®

The so-called "frowny" has been trademarked by Despair, inc. [despair.com] Admittedly, it appears that it was registered to make a mockery of the PTO. Though, my use of this trademark in conjunction with a negative comment would "dilute the value" of the frowny trademark, and would be cause for some lawsuit. :P (has the tongue sticking out emoticon been trademarked yet?)
http://www.despair.com/demotivators/frownonthis.ht ml [despair.com]

Someone patented the use of a laser to provide exercise for cats. I have, on a number of occasions inadvertently violated this patent in amusing cats, and if it could be proven, I would likely be required to pay royalties for the use of this idea that was independently arrived at.
http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05443036__ [delphion.com]

Some might argue that it's just a system that needs to be tweaked - fixed through some kind of reform to allow "legitimate" owners of "intellectual property" to be rewarded for their labor.

I propose that all "intellectual property" law does is prop-up old business models and keep new ones from emerging. If we lived in a world without copyright, patent and trademark, it would be different. The presence of such laws has slowed progress where progress would have naturally occurred. Who's to say that the progress such laws protects is more important than the progress that it discourages?

Some argue that without such protections, less innovation and creation would be performed. Kinsella and Mercer argue that there would be as much creation and innovation that the world requires - no more, no less.

In my view, the world would be transformed to the open-source model. That you give away the recipe and sell the chicken. That you can download music free but pay for the live performance. You'd pay to see movies on the big screen with great sound.

In the year 2080, when we get our first replicator at home, if we decide to replicate something, will someone claim ownership to that idea and only allow us to create an instance of it if we pay? Will someone own the concept of a chair and receive royalties everytime someone replicates one?

Laws should never be created to protect the way of doing business. The industrial age transformed the way things were made. If the Luddites had their way, chairs would still be made by hand, or at least those who use machines would subsidize those who make by hand. Laws should only protect our rights to hold real, tangible property.

Re:Ah, but who's to stop the rich? (2)

donutello (88309) | more than 13 years ago | (#477154)

It's funny how so many people equate rich with evil. So if a poor guy took something from a rich company it's ok but if a rich company takes something from a poor guy then it's automatically a problem.

Re:It's all about the poultry biz (2)

FuzzyOne (92285) | more than 13 years ago | (#477157)

For example, I value the chicken in the supermarket and as the chicken is currently the store's property I must pay them to acquire it and consume it. You may not value chicken and thus do not have to acquire it.

Weak, weak chicken analogy.

What if I value the chicken enough to want it, but decide that I don't want to have to pay for the packaging or the ambient Muzak in the grocery store? I have the means of going straight to the farm and stealing chickens directly. My only true marginal cost is my time and effort to seek out and steal^H^H^H^H^Hacquire chickens. I would be willing to pay a business to make this process of appropriation easier for me. Saving me time and effort has value.

But what about the chicken farmer? Clearly they have invested countless hours and dollars in the raising of the chickens that I value. Should I be forced at gunpoint (forced by law) to compensate them with my money? Should the business that helped me save time in the acquisition process be forced by law to compensate them?

I think the answer is clearly NO. But then how can the chicken farmer possibly make any money by creating chicken?

Several ways. First they can use the chickens as a loss-leader (open up your marketing 101 books) to bring more and more people to their farm for hoe-downs and square dancing festivals. A live performance is still valued by most chicken-eating fans and is a unique once in a lifetime service (either you were there or you were not, and no watching it on pay-perview is not just as good (unless the farm stinks--in which case pay-per-view can't capture that special essence)). Besides performance the farmer can hold other special events (e.g., cockfights) and charge for admission. If they truly want to be compensated for their chicken then they can release their chicks serially and demand a ransom to release the next one (e.g., buy this chicken or the eggs get smashed) (or next egg, whatever they want to). Basically this is the farm hand protocol and would work well.

This is long-winded, but my point is that times are changing and the internet allows for the traffic of chickens between people for virtually no marginal cost. Business models based on government enforcement of poultry monopolies will not last as people will find a way to get what they want.

Actually... Yes (2)

Dervak (94063) | more than 13 years ago | (#477158)

If we don't give the drug company financial incentives to produce new drugs through patent protection, they will slow their rate of researching new drugs. Is that in society's best interest?

Actually, Yes.

Ask yourself, what is the prime motivator of a pharmaceutical company, of any company for that matter? Money.

How does a pharmaceutical company get a steady, dependable stream of money? By producing drugs that heal people? No way, then those people would be healthy and would not buy any more meds.

What then? By producing drugs that alleviate the symptoms but which do not cure the disease, making the patients dependent on those drugs for the rest of their life. Thats the way to make big wads of $$$ for the shareholders and nice fat bonuses for the fat cats.

Not very different from the business of the makers of illicit drugs, when you think of it...

To keep people healthy, we should do like they did in ancient China instead. The physician only gets paid as long as the patient is healthy. Or something like that...

/Dervak

Incentive (2)

slyfox (100931) | more than 13 years ago | (#477159)

Individuals and corporations need some sort of incentive to perform research and, for example, produce new drugs. A basc motivation for patent protection is to grant some tangible 'value' to these pursuits.

Companies perform a cost/benefit analysis trying to decide if they should research, produce, seek FDA approval, and then mass produce a new medicine. With reasonable patent protection (not unreasonable like Amazon's 1-click) the drug company can spend more money on R&D with some hope to recover this investment before other companies can benefit from their hard work.

If we don't give the drug company financial incentives to produce new drugs through patent protection, they will slow their rate of researching new drugs. Is that in society's best interest?

We should reform patent laws, but I think we still want them.

The twisted irony (2)

catseye_95051 (102231) | more than 13 years ago | (#477160)

Is that Copyright and Partent were both created (and still exist) to CREATE free and open markets.

Anyone who buys this claptrap needs to read a bit of history

Government Intervention (2)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 13 years ago | (#477161)

The ideal of a free market is to have a system that operates without government intervention, is it not? Well, when you actually step back and look at things, copyrights, patents, and trademarks are all government interventions. Put aside the concept of ownership - none of the above terms have anything to do with that. Copyrights and patents are government-instituted monopolies on goods. In the case of copyrights, its a monopoly on artistic works. In the case of patents, its a monopoly on an invention. Trademarks I believe are necessary, or at least fraud laws that have the same effect.


-RickHunter

Well-written? (2)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 13 years ago | (#477162)

How can it be a well-written article if it doesn't even address the incentive for artists to create, which is the fundamental justification for the copyright system?

Well written? (2)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 13 years ago | (#477163)

If you are starting out as a libertarian, I suppose it would be. For someone who has not already swallowed the libertarian assumptions behind almost every sentance, its doesn't really have anything to say.

I, for instance, don't see any need to assume that scarity preceeds property. And the entire bit about a writer "unfairly" stopping a film maker from ripping off his story was pretty silly. It wasn't an argument against copyright, because you would have to already have rejected all intellectual property rights to see anything wrong with the situation.

In other words, the entire thing was a huge question begging, which doesn't strike me as particularly well written.

-Kahuna Burger

Re:Great Debating Point (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 13 years ago | (#477165)

Blockquoth the poster:
It's been that way since before jazz existed.
OK, but not much longer. The current intellectual property regime has been in place for only a little over a century. Prior to that, there (of course) weren't recordings; and people pretty much played whatever they'd heard.

Re:another side is... (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 13 years ago | (#477166)

Blockquoth the poster:
The world would be a poorer place if some of the old Masters had had to work in a pub instead of creating one of their paintings.
Um, a few things:
  1. A few of the "old Masters" did work in the pub, or something similar, to support their art.
  2. Even those that didn't, had patrons. The "Masters" didn't make money from their paintings, per se. And so copyright doesn't really help them.
In fact, free copying can help. Consider the art world: It doesn't matter how perfect a copy of the Mona Lisa is, the value resides in the original. People might once again pay for the bragging rights: He painted that for me; or she wrote and performed that music for me first.

Remember that the current scheme (yes, as in, "pyramid scheme") dates back only a hundred years or so.

A matter of terms, WAS another side is... (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 13 years ago | (#477167)

Blockquoth the poster:
Not many people like to have their hard work stolen.
It's only "stealing" if it's property. The point of the article was, it shouldn't be considered property.

Re:Anti-free market, perhaps: (2)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477168)

His essay was published on the web.

All can read it, save it, print it, give it away.

I think that pretty much means he has no IP rights to it. Except, perhaps, that the National Post has it copyrighted by default, like everything else.

I suggest you contact him -- I'm more than willing to bet that he would ask the National Post to release copyright on this one article. Otherwise perhaps he would be willing to release it himself in a show of good faith.

Re:Well written? (2)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477169)

Well, I am no member of the libertarian party, a party so small in Canada (the author's and my home country) that it didn't even appear on most all people's ballots (including mine). If you must know, I voted PC (I haven't the slightest clue what the American equivalent of that party is). Yet the article made perfect sense to me.

All essays should be written without pre-conceptions (except those you are arguing for/aganist). This author is arguing against copyright law/IP, therefore he is writing his essay from the stance of someone that would be involved in a world without it. Without it, you would not be stopped from filming a re-enactment of a book. With it you would be forced to stop. Black and white, Crystal clear, if you ask me.

I found this article not only answered a lot of questions, but made a fair argument aganist the use of copyright. I'll be sure to point this out to quite a few people with questions on copyright.

Re:Sure (2)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#477170)

Use the source luke...

After the story and before the copyright notice appears this:

<!----End Story Content---->

The author didn't put that notice there. He had no clue it was going to be stuck there.

>If I took his essay, put my name on it and sold it, he might sing a different tune.

Dude, this isn't what he is talking about. He never said abolish the right to keep your name on stuff. He just said that your IP stuff should be availiable to all. The difference? One could, in a non-copyright society, consider removing someone's name from an item a defaming of the person.

>How about if I mirrored slashdot post for post, sold banner adds cheaper and took business away from VA.

Now you hit the nail on the head. You are keeping the stories names on them, and are providing a "value added" service. I have a small feeling, though, that you would lose out to those others that provide slashdot minus extra banner heads.

And CmdrTaco has ALREADY stated he is OK with this -- he found someone who registered something similar to slashdot.org, and simply framed slashdot with ads. CmdrTaco told us he wasn't worried. Why should be be? What the heck is the point of going to the wrong site?

>When will these guys realize their quest for free music will cost others dearly.

Cost whom? The RIAA? The MPAA? These aren't people. How about individuals, the mettle most of the world was built on? Yes, it destroys a company and benefits people. Boo-hoo. I feel really sorry for destroying something that existed only on paper to begin with. Do trees feel pain when paper gets shredded?

>If you think it is to expensive don't buy it, that's the way it works.

[Devil's Advocate Here]: Heh, well, you see, I don't understand expense because I couldn't pay the price for the books the idea is printed on. I guess I don't deserve to understand the way money is used in the world because I don't have enough to read a book. Heck, I'm surprinsing myself right here, right now, that I've been able to learn English from the book I stole from the bookstore.

Re:Anti-free-market? How ironic.. (2)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 13 years ago | (#477171)

I know that he sold some of his Canadian newspaper holdings, but I don't think he sold the Post (IANAJ).

Why did he sell them? So that he could step into other media temporarily, and make enough money to buy his papers back.. then he will TRUELY dominate, and there will be no such as thing as a free media in Canada.


--

Do you know what a copyright is? (2)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 13 years ago | (#477172)

Your Netscape example is a piss-poor way to make your point, because it is very factually inaccurate.

1. You can't copyright an idea (duh).
2. NCSA invented "the browser", better know as "NCSA Mosaic".
3. Netscape (closely tied to NCSA) and Microsoft Internet Explorer both have Mosaic code inside them.



--

Re:Scientists decoding genomes (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#477176)

But we argued this before. We don't own the ideas of these music makers/movie makers/software makers. If I was a software producer trying to make an honest living (e.g. not Bill Gates), I would be pretty pissed if people thought they had a "right" to copy my shit. That thing about backups is bull. If we all needed backups, why in the hell would things like Napster prosper?

The point is, I'm not saying that corporations should be given any extra money. But somewhere along the line an artist must be getting paid somewhere, whether they are music artists or writers or whatever.

Fact: most authors get paid a small amount for creating the book initially, and get paid a small sum for each individual book they sold. If those books were copied for free, forget it. No one would want to be an author.

I think most hackers, myself included, have to figure out where that right line is between intellectual freedom and "getting free stuff" --- and learn not to cross it if we want our arguments to be taken seriously.

The real patent/copyright problem (2)

AstynaxX (217139) | more than 13 years ago | (#477178)

The biggest problem is the broadness issue. Most folks have no problem with someone wanting a reasonable amount of control over something they created, the issue is what defines reasonable. To use an old saying as an example: "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." Great idea, but these days companies don't claim the rights to their 'better' mousetrap, they claim the rights to the idea of using some device for the purpose or detaining and possibly exterminating rodents or other offending small lifeforms. The first idea, that they own the right to their specific and unique version of a mousetrap is relatively reasonable, the second, that they basically own the entire idea of 'mousetrap' is not. yet, these days, companies can and do obtain such ownership [one click shopping anyone?]. That is the biggest problem.

-={(Astynax)}=-

Re:I'd hardly call this a good argument against IP (2)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#477179)

Second, (back on point) the author attacks a few specific instances of IP and one or two of the minor (but poorly accepted) arguments for IP, but completely or mostly ignores the well accepted arguments for it.

Reading between the lines, I get the impression the author is an Ayn Rand-ie with the common Rand-ie trait of speaking as though her basic axioms are universally accepted by every other person in the world. Sure, IP law conflicts with the idea that the law should only protect physical instances of property. But the law is not written on that assumption, nor is that most people's idea of a "free market".

Instances of an idea may not be scarce but the ideas themselves certainly are. It's that scarcity that creates the value the law protects.

Incidentally, what I find irritating is that I don't for a second imagine that Hemos and CmdrTaco actually believe any of this crap they endorse. Over the last few years, this anti-IP bandwagon has gelled around them and they're unwilling to disavow it. Maybe someday they'll explain why copyrights are bad but the GPL is sacred. No, calling it a "copyleft" isn't a valid explanation.

Re:Demonstrably false. (2)

eclectro (227083) | more than 13 years ago | (#477180)

The comedy channel thought of doing this until Viacom [canoe.ca] snuffed it out.

Actually, the copyright that now exists was hijacked [upside.com] by Republic pictures.

It's still an oustanding idea though.

Re:Copyrights and patents are a necessary evil (2)

eclectro (227083) | more than 13 years ago | (#477181)

What's more, this is the first time in history of our country that works are not entering the public domain, due to the egregious nature of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA).

Not only has no movies been entering the public domain, but what recorded music has?? Maybe 78 records that didn't have the copyright notice stamped on them?? What abnout Winnie the Pooh?? Tolkien?? Robert Frost?? T.S Eliot??

It's really hard to listen to the MPAA and RIAA scream no fair! no fair! when they don't give the public their due. Of course they want copyrights to last forever, and they lobbied heavily [eagleforum.org] for the CTEA.

The cries of the MPAA and RIAA ring very false to me too.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (2)

glowfish (310099) | more than 13 years ago | (#477183)

There is a persistant pattern of people here who cannot see the forest through the trees.

You are all missing a very basic point.

The point of economics is so you, the human individual, can work and receive credit for your your work if others find it useful, and use that credit to trade for the works of others you find useful yourself.
How much your work is valued is determined somewhat subjectively (and neccessarily so) by how useful other human individuals find it, or perceive it to be (demand), and how difficult it is to create or obtain it (supply).

Since every individual has different needs, there will always be differnt opinions about what constitutes useful. Some people will find video games useful to relieve boredom, others will find diamond rings useful to bolster self esteem.
Since we live in a market based world, we must obtain credit to obtain basic neccessary to life items such as food, clothing, clean water and shelter. Everybody agrees these items are useful or they will die.

Intellectual property (patent and copyright) law is the only means of providing credit to the creators of new useful items so that they can obtain these neccessary to life items.
The creators of these new and useful items must receive some credit for their efforts or they will not be able to continue to produce them.

If Thomas Edison labours hundreds of hours, using thousand of materials, and works his brain (our most difficult to use tool) to create something as fundamentally useful as the light bulb, isn't it appropiate that we give him credit for his labours, so he can feed himself and his family? And isn't it appropiate that the ammount of credit he gets is connected to how useful the invention is?

If Amadeus Mozart works his brain and labours for a year to create a musical piece of incredible beauty that brings tears to the eyes of many who hear it, shouldn't he reap some reward from all the people who will make money distributing and playing his music? How will he get by and continue to produce if he doesn't?

How difficult it is to create or produce something isn't neccesarily tied to how useful others find it. I think that is what is driving you all crazy. But there is no general need for items that have been laboured over, there is only a need for items to be useful, and that is what our society is trying to reward with copyright law. The creation and production of useful items.

If I invent a new kind of water that tastes exactly like mud, that wouldn't be very useful, and I wouldn't expect to be rewarded for my efforts, even if I spent years perfecting the recipe. But if i invent a new drink made out of mud that cures cancer, I think it would be appropiate for me to become quite wealthy, even if it only took me fifteen minutes to make.

If the creators cannot be rewarded, they will still create, but less frequently, and more sporadically, with less ambition and effort, since their resources (time and money) will be tapped trying to obtain credit for their basic life needs.

The laws are imperfect and always will be, since laws are static and human interaction is dynamic. Perhaps someday somebody will invent a system of laws powered by fuzzy logic, that can dynamically and instantly adjust to changing market conditons as neccesary with an eye towards fairness and a level playing field, but for now we have to deal with the relative inefficienices of democracy which is the best working system we have so far to deal with these complexities.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (3)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 13 years ago | (#477185)

You didn't read the article, did you?

"Property is the basis of the free market....". Bzzzzt, Sorry. Please try again. Scarcity is the basis of the free market. There are some things in life (computers, cars, man hours), that are scarce. From scarcity comes property. There are only so many cars available. Who should I give them to? How about whomever will pay me the most? I want a computer. To get one, I'll need to convince someone else to give me their computer, so they'll no longer have one. I suppose I'll need to pay them for their computer. Part of this is that there is competition. I can purchase a computer, a car, or man hours from any number of sources. If I don't like your price, I'll look elsewhere. This is a free market.

Intellectual "property" is completely different. I can make a copy of Enya's new album, I have not taken away someone else's copy. Music, software, books, and the like are fundamentally abundent. I can easily make copies of any of them and increase the world's supply. Copyright, in part, takes an abundent product and makes it legally scarce.

A free market behaves very differently than modern copyright driven industries. Since you're apparently a bit light on economic theory, let be give you a summary. A product has a marginal price (the price to make "just one more"). The marginal price for a mass produced CD is less than a dollar. If you have a free market with competition, the price to consumers approaches the marginal price. If I'm charging, say $15 for a CD, a competitor will start producing it for $14. I'll undercut him $13, and we'll keep doing this until the price is just barely above the cost to actually make the CD.

But this doesn't happen. Why? Because of copyright. Copyright doesn't just make music scarce, it grants me a monopoly. There is no free market to keep costs down, if you want a CD of me singing, you have to purchase it from me, directly or indirectly (through a middle man or purchasing used). Either way, if you want it, you'll pay what I demand, or you won't get it. This is not how a free market behaves. This is a monopoly, the enemy of the free market.

Re:patents and copyright are pro-free market (3)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477187)

Property is the basis of the free market, of any market, in fact.

I disagree; you can have trade which is purely a swap of services. A lot of business-to-business trade is essentially of this form. You only need a concept of property to deal in physical goods which have scarcity (i.e. cannot be duplicated for nothing), like food or computer hardware.
the patent system [...] worksperfectly well in the UK and Europe

Here in the UK is the place where BT has its patent on hyperlinks, isn't it?
not just abolish it because it has teething troubles.

I don't think that's the point. A patent allows you to stop me using an idea which you thought of. Maybe I never knew about your idea and I thought of it completely independently. Still you get to stop me using the idea for 20 years. In IT, it's not often you can put your hand on your heart and say, "I believe nobody else would have thought of this idea for 20 years if I hadn't." That's not teething troubles, that's a broken system which is completely unsuited for the pace of modern technology.

Re:Flip side of copyrights (3)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#477188)

So the removal of the idea of copyright removes protection for the Little Guy.

If the "Little Guy" is actually a guy as big as Netscape was, then today's copyright system could help that guy sometimes. But for a much littler guy - say a company of 5 or 6 people - it is too expensive to fight the legal battles neccessary, so today's copyright is essentially no protection. Meanwhile, such VeryLittle guys get sued for infringing copyrights of big companies.


The way the economy seems to be going, VeryLittle companies may become more and more important as the primary innovative force in the market. For them, today's copyright system is no protection and in fact a significant burden. Until legal proceedings become cheap (sometime after hell freezes over), it will remain that way.


maybe copyrights by corporations could only be held for a shorter peroid of time than by an individual

The problem with this sort of thing is that big legal departments will find ways round things. E.g. let employees hold their own copyright over stuff they create at work, on the condition that they grant an exclusive license to the corporation. Or another such trick. Big firms are more agile than legislators and easily squeeze through loopholes like that.

That seems a little over-zealous (3)

not_cub (133206) | more than 13 years ago | (#477189)

The article is indeed well-written, but I think a more balanced approach might be better. Sure, patent abuse is harmful, but not having any form of patent system would be equally harmful. Drug companies would have no incentive to invent cures. Artists would have no incentive to create (Do you think Will Shakespeare would have produced plays if it wasn't lucrative).

Well, what's the best way to make the big companies that we all hate at slashdot so much to play fair? Obviously to withhold money from them when they get out of line. This goes not only for not buying CDs. We also need to stop investing in them. I'm sure lots of slashdot readers now have their pensions in ethical funds that do not invest in firearms, tobacco etc... Now what if you phone up the company that manages your pensions and ask if they invest in companies that abuse IP? What if everyone reading slashdot and interested in these issues did this? Pretty soon I'm sure somebody would cotton on and start a special ethical fund.

If you don't buy a few CDs, the no-one won't care. If an advert for a large pension fund denounces the RIAA for being unethical, that'd be better.

Any thoughts?

not_cub

Copyrights and patents are a necessary evil (3)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 13 years ago | (#477190)

I think most of us (I mean Americans; flame me if you like, but Napster is American, the copyright and patent stupidness of the present day is mostly American, and I'm American...all you foreigners who think that talking about American issues is evil can just let us wallow in the consequences of our lawmakers' stupidity, and that should satisfy you) recognize that patents and copyrights are necessary in a free-market, capitalistic system. Otherwise, incentive to introduce a new idea goes down drastically and takes the rate of innovation down with it. So I don't think that the total abolition of copyright and patents is called for, no matter what kind of arguments Canadian (who do NOT live in a capitalistic economy, they have something called "democratic socialism" up there, and it doesn't work like our system does, no matter what they may claim) newspapers put forth about how copyright infringes your right to use your video camera.

The problem is when copyrights and patents are taken to ridiculous levels, such as the present situation in the United States, and it is not a problem with the idea of copyrights and patents. Copyrights and patents are supposed to be temporary, fleeting things that grant you a benefit for coming up with something on the assurance that it'll become public domain.

But nothing becomes public domain anymore.

Anybody remember the article a couple days ago from the EFF? No movie produced since 1910 has entered public domain. Now, it used to be that copyrights and patents lasted a reasonable amount of time, say 14 or 20 years. This is enough time for you to make some money off your idea, but not so long that it never makes it into public domain. Today, however, I can slap a copyright symbol onto any website I design or any music I record, and it doesn't become public domain until at least fifty years after I die...given that I'm not gettingo n in my years yet, we're talking well into the next century before anybody could do anything worthwhile with my work without my permission. That's just plain stupid, and that's one of the things that's wrong with copyright law as it exists in the United States today.

Then of course there's the DMCA and anti-circumvention and all that bullsh*t, and attempts to undermine fair use. That's even worse, because fair use is one of the few ways of dealing with the sheer stupidity of current copyright limitations - cut into fair use and it'll be the year 4056 or so before we can use copyrighted works for even academic pursuits. That's idiotic.

Bottom line: copyrights and patents are a necessary evil of capitalism and free markets. Abolishing them would be sheer stupidity. What needs to be abolished are the obscene terms for which copyrights last and the numerous attempts at undermining fair use which are being written into our law.


Ah, but who's to stop the rich? (3)

Catharsis (246331) | more than 13 years ago | (#477191)

In a society without intellectual property, everyone is free to create whatever contracts or agreements to enforce the defense of their own material. But, in a society without intellectual property, what's to stop a record company's talent seeker from going to my concert, taping my show, taking the tape back to whichever band he wants and showing them the song? Their established, already popular group takes my song, and plays it as their own. I can claim I wrote the song, yell, scream, complain all I want. Certainly I have been screwed. But have my rights been violated? Intellectual property is flawed, and the concepts are outdated and often inappropriate, but can the total abolishment of IP be any better? Think about it...

Anti-free market, perhaps: (3)

TDScott (260197) | more than 13 years ago | (#477192)

- but, as an analogy, would the writer like to give away all the intellectual rights to his essay, and not get paid for it?

Copyleft depends on copyright (3)

regexp (302904) | more than 13 years ago | (#477193)

Don't we need copyright to defend copyleft? What is to prevent Evil Software Co., Inc. from picking up the code to a piece of GPL'ed software, improving on it, and then selling binaries based on the modified code, keeping the source code to itself? Also, think about this part of the GPL [gnu.org] :
Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

patents and copyright are pro-free market (3)

Urban Existentialist (307726) | more than 13 years ago | (#477194)

Copyright and patents grants a company the right to protect its intellectual property. It is the property of the company because it is the company that has invested money to develop them.

Property is the basis of the free market, of any market, in fact. Therefore to strike against copyright and patents is to strike against the notion of property, which is to strike against the idea of a market. We should revise and modify the patent system - it works perfectly well in the UK and Europe - not just abolish it because it has teething troubles. That is to take an extremist reaction.

You know exactly what to do-
Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh-

I'd hardly call this a good argument against IP (4)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#477195)

First, the author wastes a good part of his time on Napster. Napster is not intellectual property itself, it's secondary to intellectual property. What's more, he glances over the legal minutia, while ignoring the bigger picture. The legal minutia may be important in the lawsuit, but it's not to napster's morality and, especially, not to the relative cost and benefits of intellectual property. He ignores the fact that, while napster may not be able to discern users (though that is debatable itself), there is little doubt that the vast majority of its use is for copyright infringment. On the balance, I'd say the current design and actual use of napster has far greater costs for society than any benefit it presumably brings about.

Presumably, according to Napster, lesser known artists will use Napster to get an audience. Though I have serious doubts about this (in terms of numbers), the fact is that it could design a system in such a way that the artists ENUMERATES what songs they want to share and submits it via some checksum (or what have you)--rather than rely on some algorithm to divine the artist. Alternatively, they could solve this problem entirely and simply create a massive server where artists can upload their songs, complete with web pages and the like. In reality, this offers virtually all the benefits of their purported "use" [ sometimes even more (e.g., a web page, faster downloads, assured quality, etc) ] without the costs.

Second, (back on point) the author attacks a few specific instances of IP and one or two of the minor (but poorly accepted) arguments for IP, but completely or mostly ignores the well accepted arguments for it. The first argument is that innovation is risky and expensive; the only way you secure difficult innovation is by granting the innovator the exclusive right to the innovation. The second argument is that one should be entitled to the product of their own mind. When those "products" might be indepedently reinvented, then there might be cause for complaint. But when we're talking about a recording or a book in its entirity, it's simply not going to be indepedently reinvented. My creating that product or idea and restricting its usage does NOT detract from your life, unless you take the fact that I generated that product or idea for granted.

Anti-free-market? How ironic.. (4)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 13 years ago | (#477196)

...considering how The National Post is owned by Conrad Black.

If you don't know Mr. Black, he's trying to buy up 100% of the news media in Canada. The idea is so that you only get "News for Robots - Stuff that matters to Mr. Black."

--

Technology and realistic politics (4)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477197)

The article seemed silly to me for two reasons:

(1) None of the arguments relate to technology at all. Abolishing copyright was tried before the internet existed, during the French revolution. The result was a distaster -- all publishing ceased except for pornography and cheap scandal sheets. To convince me that the results would be different today, I'd have to see an argument that relates to changes in technology.

(2) The abolition of IP is just not going to happen, so why even discuss it? I'd consider it a great triumph if the U.S. government would just stop extending copyright terms the next time the 1923 batch came close to going PD. But even that is extremely unlikely to happen, since, e.g. Disney owns the 1923 Winnie the Pooh copyrights, and their lobbyists managed to get the latest extension passed without even having it debated.

I can think of some realistic political goals in the U.S., but they're a lot more modest. For instance, I'd like to see the federal government force all academic research they fund to be published electronically and copylefted. Arxiv.org has already shown they're capable of replacing traditional scientific journals completely in some scientific subfields, e.g. string theory.


The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

Flip side of copyrights (4)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#477198)

well, the article advocates removal of the copyright system. I can see a flip side to this.

Imagine your proverbial Incredibly Rich Software Company (tm). Imagine that it spots a neat and useful idea that has been created by a bunch of Talented People(tm). With no copyright, the Incredibly Rich Company can become and Incredibly Bad Company and simple copy the ideas, reverse engineer it, and with the forces of Superior Marketing(tm) can produce it and out produce it take over the market, wiping out the competition.

Netscape is an historic example, even with the protection they had, because there was no copyright on the idea of browser. (I doubt that one could be arranged)

So the removal of the idea of copyright removes protection for the Little Guy. Some Big Bad Company with lots of big bucks can come in and steal people blind.

So Copyright might need to be kept around, but in a form that protects the little guy more than corporations.

off the top of my head, maybe copyrights by corporations could only be held for a shorter peroid of time than by an individual, so that the actual artist could profit vs corporations.

I need to think on this more

The real problem with patents (4)

DaSyonic (238637) | more than 13 years ago | (#477199)

While I dont agree with patents, I can see some good uses for them. But a few things should be done to prevent people/corporations from patenting things that just should not be patented.

The ammount of time that a patent lasts is way too long in todays world. A patent lasting 1 or 2 years seems more fair to me, but any longer than that basically prevents anyone from using the thing patented for a very long time.
I would like to see the USPTO gotten rid of all together, but this will never happen, regardless of how much it makes sense to get rid of it. Corporations want control of products, and patents give them that right to that control.

I think the best sollution would be to have a seperate entity to decide on technology patents. Hopefully with something like that we could stop the future Amazons from patenting outragious things. Trademarks are a little differant, I think you should be able to protect your name, but again, things like :-( shouldnt be trademarked, as it should be considered free-use.

But can we honestly ever expect things to change? The average American doesnt see anything wrong with what we have now, what politician would ever try and change anything? Who cares?

And can anyone clear up international patents? What stops a Japanese company from doing '1-click-shopping'? Especially on the internet, a US only patent doesnt seem to do much good.

Great Debating Point (5)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#477200)

The author proposes a world in which protections for non-scarce items do not exist. In the same spirit as the Home Recording Act could not ban tape recorders, so Napster cannot be seen as intrinsically illegal. Well written, and a real challenge to the RIAA lawyers, et al.

I was discussing this very thing to colleagues yesterday: they had seen the PBS special by Ken Burns - Jazz - and remarked as to how music used to be literally free. A musician wrote a song and played it in a bar and got paid. Early recordings were produced in small shops, and profits were local. Then entrepreneurs moved in because they saw the profitability (nothing wrong with that) and reamed the artists (again legal, though possibly not moral).

Well, they have had their fun, and they have had their day. The One Thing that record producers had that the average guy did not was the Ways and Means of Production (i.e., record-making machines) and Distribution. Now, in the digital age, we All have the ways and means. We can all make recordings, try to sell them or give them away, and distribute them.

The RIAA has had their day. It is time to step down. May free art prosper. I think their proper attitude might well be 'screw them, Im not putting another thin dime into promoting one more artist.' Then they can take their wax cylinders and go home.

And you know what? Aside from the pretty CD jewel cases, I don't think I'd miss them a bit.

Bonus: no more 'NSync, Spice Girls, or Backstreet Boys! Yay!
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