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Million-Dollar Donation To Fight Abusive Copyrights

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the who-was-that-masked-man? dept.

United States 368

WeekendKruzr writes: "There is a story on C|Net detailing how Duke University's law school received an anonymous gift of $1 million for the express purpose of funding '...advocacy and research aimed at curtailing the recent expansion of copyright law.' It's good to know that we have some well-funded idealists on our side, even if they are 'Anonymous Cowards.' ;^) This, combined with the recent rash of even large corporations running afoul of intellectual property law, could precipitate some tangible results in the next couple of years."

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shoryuken! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202083)


yeah, i know

Kame-Hame-HA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202331)

Let's see your shoryuken stand up to that!!

Re:shoryuken! (0, Offtopic)

shinobiX (28155) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202402)

Matt Labash (Q4: #12 of 20)
Meee-Owww, Ian! So you've finally sunk to this: you're book's bigger than my (non-existent) book. I do, however, thank you for providing me the opening for a plug. I have, in the past, recoiled whenever anyone asked me about doing a book. As a professional dilettante, I've yet to meet the subject that will sustain my interest for the two or three years necessary to invest all of my energies into one. That is, till this roundtable. Thanks to John's inspiration, I'm now shopping around the idea to do an expose on closet bum-fisters in the highest echelons of government and polite society. I hope to call it "Sitting on Their Hands." Wish me luck.
Though I'd prefer you stop grading my papers, I'll also doff my cap to you, for all the left-handed compliments. Over the last several weeks, I've grown accustomed to our predictable ritual. Buttman says something asinine or indefensible. I smack him around for it. Then you smack me around for smacking him around, even if you largely agree with me or he smacked first. Then I smack you back. The only person that's not interested in participating in our little reindeer games, oddly enough, is Jerry -- since he'd rather talk about smack than talk smack. Still, when they finally break up our dysfunctional daisy chain, I'll be going through withdrawals worse than anything Jerry's ever experienced. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'll miss you buttheads.
I hesitate to answer any of John's questions, since he so noticeably ducked mine. I was, however, intrigued by one: "Specifically, I would like to a get a better understanding of the source of this guilt -- is it totally socially induced?" I hesitate to throw such a quaint archaic notion out there, knowing that Rufus is on deck with a corked bat, but maybe there is an elegantly simple explanation for it all. Maybe there's a God. I hate to shove any Bible down your throats, since in some of your throats, it's already fairly crowded down there, but maybe like our Old Testament friends said, God created us in His image. And maybe we don't always care too much about our image, but maybe God does care about us ruining His image. And maybe He's not too keen on His image being associated with bonking every warm opening in sight, especially not on camera. And maybe He encoded us with an innate sense of guilt, which some people are more successful at ignoring than others. Even hardcases like John obviously have it. For by his own admission, he took a masturbation sabbatical for two years, something I wouldn't recommend during my single days even in the frothiest fervor of puritanical fury. Keep in mind that social stigma is the cornerstone of most civilizations. Without it, we'd feel free to run wild in the streets, rape and pillage, maybe even burn Michael Bolton records. And really, what is social stigma, besides enforcing collectively the shame that we naturally feel as individuals? Maybe God has nothing to do with it. But if He does, it sure would answer a lot of John's questions fast.

Ian Gittler (Q4: #13 of 20)
I'll just go back to John's statement about personal details.
You, unquestionably, are the only one on this panel (possibly save Tricia) who is willing to bare whatever you can mentally access -- in seemingly unedited fashion -- about the mechanics, emotions and practices of your personal experiences regarding porn, sex and masturbation. That's you, and possibly your career. It doesn't seem unnatural for you at all.
My own reservations about doing that? I'd be lying if I said I fully understood them.
I know I'd have had a better sense of it all if this discussion happened a little further down the road in my life, and there's a much better chance that, having far less self-understanding in my past, I'd probably have been happy to reel off all kinds of personal experiences that most non-porn people would find "outrageous." Back then my honesty would also have attached to it an annoying sense of bravado or macho posturing. You know, I'd have talked about all this reckless shit, with semi-remorse, but also with an eye on making anyone listening jealous, or at least impressed with my sexual derring-do. In a way, talking about masturbation publicly could be the same as publicly masturbating.
You don't come off that way, John.
But at this point in my life, I just don't see how it's in my best interest for me divulge that kind of personal stuff, regardless of any good it might do to further popular thought about this topic.
In a way, it has to do with my fairly recent discovery that, in the name of presenting an identity for myself based on how easy all this sexuality stuff was for me -- for years I just knew I was Mr. Sex -- well, that in itself just degraded the value of that whole aspect of my life, just sucked the value right out of it. It's only pretty recently that I realized how much better I feel about my life when I treat these aspects of who I am as more valuable.
What's kind of weird is I go into personal stuff about my youth in my book that makes me feel vulnerable and exposed, and it will be around forever. In that context I deemed it necessary. It also felt safer. It also might be part of how I've been able to move forward from there.
Here, in real time, I'm not as convinced it's worth it for me to do that. I don't know for sure, but I know I could feel surer about it before proceeding.
You're right though, it would be great if we were all doing that. John, the thing I find most interesting about your personal revelations -- and once more I must say I disagree with you about so much, and see things very differently than you -- but the normal stuff you talk about, just the simple language about your feelings with regard to all the "basics." That's the stuff I would be most uncomfortable speaking openly about. It takes a lot more honesty than, you know, bragging about threesomes or orgies or whatever. That probably is about shame.
Shame. Shame, shame. I guess I do have shame. Lots of it. If I want to change the world I'm gonna have to figure out a pretty ingenious way of getting around that one, that's for sure.
I can't say I'll ever be divulging that kind of stuff about myself. If I do, I hope I'll be getting paid more for it.
But it definitely helps that one of us is.

John Stagliano (Q4: #14 of 20)
Ian, thanks for at least explaining yourself, but I'm baffled by your statement that Matt is bigger and tougher. By what standard?
Matt has made me wonder why I'm wasting my time with this discussion. None of you guys are really interested in ideas, and none of you really have any qualifications for this discussion. You are interested in mental masterbation [sic]. Personally, I'm not. I've got better things to do with my time.

Matt Labash (Q4: #15 of 20)
John, if you'd like us to call the school nurse so that she can drain the excess fluids in your pretension gland, we're happy to oblige. While I don't think anybody's going to mistake these for the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in between all the parrying and thrusting, we have managed to grind out a few low-watt riffs on God and guilt and "art" (if you can call Mr. Bolton's music art, and I think Ian decided you can). Meanwhile, you've managed to discuss your transsexual line of videos, the forbidden desire of straight men to have customers enter through the out door, and your valiant struggle with chronic onanism. I have bad news for you, Ideas Boy, nobody's going to confuse you for the Dean of Philosophy at Plato's Academy. But here's an idea for you: buy a dictionary. For somebody so obsessed with masturbation, it's high time you learned how to spell it.

Ian Gittler (Q4: #16 of 20)
I think bigger and tougher in the sense that someone who is comfortable with trash talking, name-calling and condescending will always beat an adversary who only resorts to that kind of thing because he sees no alternative. So, no, I wasn't implying that you couldn't kick Matt's ass, or that you have less important things to say; only that you don't seem driven by the same kind of mean-spiritedness, so why even get caught up in that?
However I don't like you broadsiding me, over and over, John. It just seems wrong. And also, I think it's unrealistic to have expected that this forum would be some kind of oasis in terms of how the world perceives your lifestyle. You have been misquoted and maligned in the press -- except in terms of your business model -- ever since I've known you, and I'm sure since well before.
Going on the offensive because I express extreme skepticism about the origins of your sexual diversions, your motivations, lifestyle, rationalizations, etc., just seems defensive. I can understand it -- you not liking it -- but can you educate me, or just accept that that's where I stand, rather than simply writing me off?
In terms of time wasted, I doubt any of us imagined the posting would be so extensive going into this thing, but there it is.

Matt Labash (Q4: #17 of 20)
See, John -- and you said Ian wasn't interested in ideas. Who can kick whose ass is an idea -- sort of. Maybe next, you guys can discuss whose dad can beat up whose dad. Gentlemen, is it me, or do you too suspect this conversation has run its course?

Tricia Devereaux (Q4: #7 of 20)
I've just sort of been sitting back for the past few days, listening. Thanks for letting me participate, and I really enjoyed being a pseudo-part of your roundtable.
I think we got a pretty good range of opinions. From John to me, Rufus, Ian and Matt; and I never did quite figure out where Jerry was. I think he was trying to say that he didn't really have a strong opinion: just let things be and people can make their own decisions.
Anyway, nice chatting with y'all.

Ian Gittler (Q4: #19 of 20)
Same. Cheers, all!

Rufus Griscom (Q4: #9 of 20)
Well, well, well, quite a love-in to return to. It's become clear that this discussion will not crescendo in a three-way of offline boy love between Matt, Ian and John as I'd hoped. (And you wondered why our contract asked for film rights.) It sounds like everyone is saying goodbyes, and you've surely earned them, but I can't resist adding a few valedictory thoughts:
I'm not sure that porn is best defended, if one chooses to defend it, on the grounds of artistry. Based on my limited sampling in the last couple decades, it would be difficult for a seven billion dollar annual budget to produce less beauty (this is roughly the military budget for coffee makers, which no doubt quicken the pulse of young men with more subtlety). It must be said that I haven't seen John's work, and if he runs with Matt's dolled up sow idea (done delicately, think Babe) I may stand erected, um, corrected.
I think there are two reasons for the low quality of the industry: 1) candlestick polishers don't give a damn about deft jump-cuts, and 2) the rank miasma of social opprobrium that surrounds the industry (which Matt and to a lesser extent Ian have been flatulating throughout this discussion) have been repelling most of the talent that can find compelling job offers in sandalwood-scented environs.
This will change: in the coming decades we will see far more interesting "X-rated" content (coming more from the indie-film side than the porn side -- check out The Lifestyle, for instance), though no doubt there is an inverse relationship between artistry and airbag inflation.
Matt, finally we come to the source of all the brotherly love you have been radiating. So we are all made in god's image, and though the hand of god touches all things, you don't see it in a fist up his rectum (it seems to me like god may be the only one who could pull of such a contortion). God has been improving sex by emboldening moral posturers to spread guilt for millennia, so we shouldn't be surprised to see Matt carrying out His will.
This brings us to shame: something I do thank god for. As we say in our mission statement, we don't want to get rid of taboos, we just want to gnaw on them like squeaky dog toys. I think most men feel quite a bit of guilt about their predatory sexual instincts and the poor reception those instincts often receive in a society in which women are empowered (by comparison with others). Porn is what they are left with. Of course, the shame recedes, and the predatory instincts become better received by women as they mature, and the process is exquisite.
Thank all of you for your contributions, quite a set of characters you are. Take care.

I like milk (-1, Offtopic)

jpsst34 (582349) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202089)

My comments are never modded. Please mod this to let me know you care. I should start at 1, 'coz I'm logged in, but I start at 0. /. is stupid. Does anyone want to see my wang?

second (-1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202090)

y'all suck ass

second (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202092)

post (c) 2002.

I really like copyrights.

I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202096)

OSDN was liquidated and they donated everything. That's why Slashdot was down for so long yesterday.

not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202118)

site was down due to hunk-o-shit linux webserver - linux is for bitches dot com

mystery donor? (1)

alexc (37361) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202097)

anybody have any guess who the donor is?

Re:mystery donor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202110)

it was me!

My Guess (1)

schepers (462428) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202133) (someone from) RedHat, given that both are based in Durham, NC.

Really, though, just a guess. Duke's got a lot of rich alumni, so it could be anybody.

Re:mystery donor? (2, Insightful)

nanojath (265940) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202172)

Honestly, a million bucks ain't all that much, in the world of major fundraising, so it could be very hard to say - there are a ton of people, even consdiering the most obvious candidates (i.e. more likely to be a Duke rather than a Stanford graduate).

A donor who really wants to stay anonymous can do so pretty effectively. Personally, I think we should respect their wish. It's rare someone will cough up this kind of a chunk of change for the more general and abstract public good, and if they would rather not be recognized (and end up having every ogg hacker or yahoo with some open licensing scheme they've hatched begging them for pocket change, we should let them be.

Re:mystery donor? (1)

Eusebo (24544) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202183)

Larry Ellison is crazy enough to do something like that just for giggles.

If my net worth was >$30B, it would be worth a $1M to be pain in the ass to the RIAA, MPAA, et al.

My second guess would be Steve Jobs, because he's crazy and has finiancial incentive (can you say iPod?)

Re:mystery donor? (1)

Skiboo (306467) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202262)

You mean i forgot to sign the cheque?

God dammit! ...knew i'd forgotten something.

Oh well, back to my plan to take over the world using small picthforks...

Re:mystery donor? (1)

machine of god (569301) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202351)

Who is Cowboy Neal and his sidekick Hemos?

(It's in the form of a question, alex)

Yes...and in related news... (4, Funny)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202356)

In a surprise announcement, the Republican National Committee has revealed it is bankrupt! A spokesman for the party said they had plenty of money in their accounts last week, but today they just don't know where the money has gone. But not everybody's going begging. Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the United Negro College Fund announced record earnings this week, due mostly to large, anonymous donations.

Imagine this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202108)

Some anonymous donor donates $1million to try and stop the proliferation of anti-violence law.

Do people not understand that the law is there to protect them ?

Re:Imagine this (5, Interesting)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202164)

Do people not understand that the law is there to protect them ?

I am an information consumer. Please explain how the DMCA protects me.

Re:Imagine this (5, Insightful)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202269)

"I am an information consumer. Please explain how the DMCA protects me."

It protects your wallet from getting heavy.

Re:Imagine this (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202166)

Law are not there to protect people, theey are there to protect society (so they are a good thing). When however a segment of society uses a majority population, or a majority of the money to write the law to protect them more than society as a whole the law is nolonger functioning correctly. This is tollerable to some degree (it will never be perfect) but in its current incarnation copyright law is totally disfunctional, and does not protect, rather it is a club to attack.

moron! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202354)

Some anonymous donor donates $1million to try and stop the proliferation of anti-violence law.

Your analogy is idiotic. What if this "anti-violence law" was becoming as ridiculous as copyright law? They would be putting people in prison for owning or selling potential weapons like screwdrivers.

Do people not understand that the law is there to protect them?

You are confusing what is supposed to be with what is. Creationists fail to make this distinction when they argue that belief in evolution means you have to support eugenics.

Where should I send money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202113)

If I would like to send some euros where should I send them? EFF?

Re:Where should I send money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202159)

To me, the AC.

Re:Where should I send money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202219)

Noone wants euros or pesos or lira or francs or canadian tire money. Send real dollars.

Re:Where should I send money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202391)

Last time I checked, the Dow, Nasdaq, and the s&p were down...

Good Start ... (1)

robstercraws (458221) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202114)

Now if only someone would make a similar donation to fight idiotic software patents.

Re:Good Start ... (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202186)

You fight the battles that can be fought, once these are won (and the (c) law is a much easier fight) you collect your new strength and go after the smallest remaining fish..

A good start, but??? (2) (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202115)

The question is how will this be applied?

To fund think-tanks to write papers? To to pay-off^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hlobby politicians for better laws? Or to fight court cases?

Why not just give this to the EFF?

There is too many unanswered questions to say if this will really help.

Re:A good start, but??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202185)

Unlike the EFF, Duke University will do something useful with it and not get laughed out of court, a la DeCSS.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202187)

Both only get involved in cases where they'll maximize their publicity, while ignoring lower-profile (and higher risk) cases.

Fuck 'em both.

Why can't people just accept we're o\/\/n3d and get over it?

Re:A good start, but??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202188)

Read the article, and you might find out.............FubAR!

I'm a cowboy BABY!

Re:A good start, but??? (3, Funny)

Stephen VanDahm (88206) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202198)

Dude, I bet you could purchase at least four Senators with $1,000,000. If not, then I'm sure there's a rent-to-own plan out there...

Value of research (5, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202388)

I think the purpose is being missed.
This isn't being used to fight of lobby bad laws.

It is to try and find out what is good and bad about the existing laws.
We don't know the cost benefit curve for copyright length, they are going to try and define it.
(yes, that is a simplification)

Many "content creators" want infinite copyrights, to milk out as much as possible.
Many "content consumers" want short copyrights to copy and create derivative works for little or no cost. (that isn't the only reason)

At some point the time is long enough to have benefit for "creators" and short enough for "consumers" that both sides can be "happy". They are trying to find out what that point is.

Don't hold your breath. (2, Insightful)

saikou (211301) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202116)

What a meager million bucks can do against multimillion dollar lobby? :)
I think it's very naive to expect any major changes and/or law corrections. A good commercial, asking people vote for candidates that support removal of opressive/excessive copyright restriction night be of more help.

Re:Don't hold your breath. (2, Insightful)

Soko (17987) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202203)

A million smackers can do a lot, when it's used to help marshall a community of volunteers.

A few men firing an artillery gun that has bad aim can be cut to peices very quickly by a devoted team with swords and knives - this is what should happen here.


Re:Don't hold your breath. (1)

Jobe_br (27348) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202238)

A good commercial is going to cost a good bit more than $1 million to reach any magnitude of people, never mind the cost of actually producing the commercial. Furthermore, never mind the media that the commercial will run on: television, owned by such folks as Time Warner and the like who are card carrying members of the MPAA, last I checked. Not to be pessimistic or anything, but just put it into perspective. I, also, am dubious about what $1 million will do in the hands of Duke University's law school.

Re:Don't hold your breath. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202251)

I, also, am dubious about what $1 million will do in the hands of Duke University's law school.

It'll buy a shitload of computers so the law students can run eDonkey.

Re:Don't hold your breath. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202335)

Yeah, it sucks to only have a meager million bucks. But a million here, a million there, and pretty soon you're talking real money!

Re:Don't hold your breath. (1)

machine of god (569301) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202379)

I'd say the PR is more important than the money for this one. Puts the issue into peoples minds, whereas before there was naught.

How far will a million go? (1)

miTTio (24893) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202127)

I think this is a great start to give a million dollars to a credible university, with a guy who seems to be on level about the subject, but just how far will a million dollars get them? How will it be spent? This is a cause that I know I would gladdly donate to, if it were managed fairly to just the wrongs of congress.

There will be no change (3, Insightful)

Smallest (26153) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202131)

While starry-eyed /. folk get uptight for a few minutes when they read about new technologies, the people who make the laws don't care about our complaints - we're not a big enough lobby or voting block.

Even more important, stricter copyright laws help the media corps sell more product, and GWB is in favor of anything that helps US corps sell more stuff.


Re:There will be no change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202271)

Both of your last points are flawed.

Stricter copyright laws can induce consumer backlash, which decreases their sales. There are plenty of people pissed off about the current state of affairs. If things got much worse, the general public might start to feel the pressure, and all hell would break loose.

One could argue that what is needed to bring us out of the recession is something that legislates consumer confidence. Is GWB in favor of forcing you to buy anything? No, but of course he is in favor of things that encourage growth. If he wasn't, you'd decry him for that.

So, is GWB a Republican: yes. Do Republicans tend to do things that support businesses: yes. Is that always a bad thing: no, only when it treads on consumer or civil rights, or causes other, greater ill-effects.

Remember, GWB isn't your enemy (last I checked, he hadn't made a public stance on the issue of copyright law), 2/3rds of your government is. The DMCA passed under Clinton, through a Republican congress/senate. The president doesn't make law, it takes two branches of government to do that.

Re:There will be no change (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202334)

stricter copyright laws help the media corps sell more product, and GWB is in favor of anything that helps US corps sell more stuff

Every policy endorsed by GWB is about helping corporate america. The last thing he cares about is americans, or the citizens of the world.

Here's a nice little tid-bit about GWB, he's spent 42% of his term on vacation [] , while americans are losing jobs, and the recession shows no signs of abating.

It was me! (1, Offtopic)

Caractacus Potts (74726) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202134)

I didn't mean to click the Donate Anonymously checkbox. I really wanted the karma! Oh well, I should have previewed it first.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202152)

Why not just but a Senator with $1M?

I admit it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202154)

It was me.


Re:I admit it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202207)

No, it was someone who didn't lose their shirt in the dot-bomb fallout.

Nice try, ESR.

bad news for Linux? (2, Funny)

tps12 (105590) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202158)

I've hated intellectual property for as long as anyone. When I started out my career as a young geeklet, I'd frequently pirate games for my Apple ][, and I would always tape music from my friends. I still enjoy copying mp3s and warezing games (though mostly I just don't want to shell out for something that may or may not run under Wine).

But like it or hate it, Linux's success pretty much hinges upon intellectual property laws. Without copyright and patent laws that make the GPL enforceable, Linux would be no better off than *BSD, and certainly wouldn't have made the inroads it has at IBM and HP.

Microsoft will always do fine, with or without intellectual property laws. They sell certification, training, and support in addition to IP. And Linux's only advantages--better stability and security--are only as safe as its code base. If intellectual property laws are repealed, then Linux as we know it is doomed.

Re:bad news for Linux? (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202212)

If intellectual property laws are repealed, then Linux as we know it is doomed.

This one went right over my head. If 10,000 people scattered all over the globe have copies of the Linux kernel source, what can a bunch of lawyers do about it?

Are they gonna outlaw compilers?

Please explain.

As who knows it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202225)

Linux was never, is not, and never will be about taking the world by force.

Linux will always survive, possibly to the end of time, provided mankind doesn't get around to killing itself off first.

If corporations are allowed to pillage Linux, what will happen? A lot of frothing zealots will dissapear. A lot of hard working developers will too, unfortunately.

But in the end, it'll be left with a group of developers and users who will still respect the GPL, even if it isn't enforceable by law.

Kind of like how it started out, when no one had a damned clue if the GPL could hold in court. (AFAIK, we still don't.)

Re:As who knows it? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202272)

Linux was never, is not, and never will be about taking the world by force.

Bullshit. I've followed open source since 96, and there's always..I mean ALWAYS been a fanatical "world domination" theme being tossed around...from Linux on down.

Stop your fucking lying, buttmunch.

Re:bad news for Linux? (2)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202254)

Troll? Probably, but I'll bite...

Can you prove that Linux is successful because of the GPL? Is there any way to show that, if Linux was under the BSD license, it would have failed? I would argue that Linux succeeded because it just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I mean, really, can you honestly say, with a straight face, that IBM and HP put money into Linux *because* it was GPLd?

The fact is, the BSDs are successful in their own right. And while they're not as successful as Linux in the commercial marketplace, I highly doubt that has anything to do with licensing. I know I'd still be using Linux if it was using a BSD license. Wouldn't you?

As for Linux's advantages you listed, "stability and security", you seem to forget that OpenBSD, a landmark of security and stability, is a BSD-derived operating system. So, clearly, these advantages have little or nothing to do with the GPL. Heck, I can't even understand why the GPL would promote these things. The popular "Linux" name exists because there is a group of developers who perform quality control on the kernel source. This is totally unrelated to licensing, since the same thing could be done if Linux wasn't GPLd. The only difference is that, theoretically, a company could create a distribute their own Linux-based kernel, and close it up. But where's the harm in that? If people wanted "stability and security", they'd just go for the official Linux kernel distribution.

So, please, try to explain to me why the GPL has *anything* to do with Linux's success. I'd love to hear it, because I sure don't believe it.

Re:bad news for Linux? (2)

drudd (43032) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202342)

I don't think you could prove it, but you can certainly make good arguments.

I doubt IBM would put a huge amount of effort into something which was under a BSD type license. Why should they invest large amounts of effort just to have their work stolen by their compeditors. The GPL at least allows IBM to benefit from the work of the others who use their software.


Re:bad news for Linux? (2)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202355)

>So, please, try to explain to me why the GPL has *anything* to do with Linux's success. I'd love to hear it, because I sure don't believe it.

The GPL attracts more programmers than BSD. Many of us don't appreciate the idea that we might spend our time writing a quality piece of software and turn it over to the community, only to have a company turn around and make a tiny change and start selling it.

The forced openness of the GPL is a big part of what makes Linux successful.

Re:bad news for Linux? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202267)

If intellectual property laws are repealed, then Linux as we know it is doomed.

Who said anything about repealing anything completely?

And Linux's only advantages-- better stability and security--are only as safe as its code base.

If IP laws were repealed, GNU/Linux could freely take whatever technology that was formerly covered by patent or copyright, the advantages of open source would be even more apparent, since companies that rely on IP only for income (otherwise known as leeches, or Rambus), will go out of business, leaving only the people who are really producing non-IP value to make the money.

Funny?? :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202270)

LOL! Modded as "Funny"... now THAT is funny. :)

Re:bad news for Linux? (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202276)

Microsoft will always do fine, with or without intellectual property laws. They sell certification, training, and support in addition to IP. And Linux's only advantages--better stability and security--are only as safe as its code base. If intellectual property laws are repealed, then Linux as we know it is doomed.

Ummmm... what?

Microsoft's advantages:

1) Selling closed copywrited software at very very high prices.
2) Dominance in a market where everyone thinks they have to buy their software, which is copywrited and you can't modify the source yourself.
3) A system of copywrites that force people to buy their software

Linux's advantages:
1) Its Free, whether or not its copywrited
2) Its expandable by everyone in the world, whether or not its copywrited.
3) Its revenue stream is based on consulting, not software.

Microsoft's revenue stream is based on SOFTWARE. Linux is based on CONSULTING!!! Consulting is not affected by copywrite nearly as much as Software sales are. Linux will be untouched by any changes to any copywrite laws. Isn't freedom from copywrite one of GPL's main tenants?

Re:bad news for Linux? (1)

ccady (569355) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202387)

Linux will be untouched by any changes to any copywrite (sic) laws. Isn't freedom from copywrite one of GPL's main tenants? (sic)

Freedom from copyright is not a tenet of the GPL. The GPL relies on the fact that the work is copyrighted by the original authors, and that they have the right to place certain restrictions on their work. If there were no copyright laws, others could take the code which the author had written and put under GPL, incorporate it into their own code, and resell the result without letting anyone else see their work.

Re:bad news for Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202278)

As the article says, no one is calling for abolition of copyright, only returning it to its original intent. The nice thing about the GPL is, while its strength depends on the strength of copyright law, so does the need to have a license like the GPL in the first place. I've always thought of the GPL as "the public domain with teeth." If the real public domain is strengthened again, we don't need the GPL as much.

Piracy hurts adoption of Linux and Ogg Vorbis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202333)

Nice troll, but somehow I don't think piracy of evil-eula software is helping the free software movement at all. If someone pirates a copy of Windows, why would they want to install Linux? Likewise, pirated music is not helping people switch to Ogg Vorbis at all. How do you re-encode music into Ogg format if you don't have the original CDs because you stole the music off the internet? You won't want to generate Oggs from MP3s for sure. That'd defeat the whole purpose of switching to Ogg in the first place: getting better sounding music with better compression ratios.

No, good news (2)

Baki (72515) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202340)

Linux didn't succeed commercially because of the GPL, but in spite of.

BSD could and would have done better, were it not for the License problems they were having with AT&T in the early 90's. This held them up a lot, and in the meantime Linux got the attention and popularity.

Re:bad news for Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202396)

This is true! someone might steal the linux codebase and then they'd stop making money.......

oh wait.....

Re:bad news for Linux? (1)

javahacker (469605) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202410)

...advocacy and research aimed at curtailing the recent expansion of copyright law.'

They just want to fight the DMCA, and the extension of the length of copyright, not remove all copyright law.

Without copyright and patent laws that make the GPL enforceable, Linux would be no better off than *BSD

Patent laws have nothing to do with the success of GPL, which is based in copyright law. Linus didn't patent Linux, because he doesn't believe in software patents, given his recent statements on LKML about patents.

Thos two things are very separate, even though people lump them together under "intellectual property". Copyright, which it appears you don't have much respect for, was traditionally used for printed or textual information. No one had a problem saying I can't sell someone elses book as my own work. If I want to copy it for my own use, that has been declared legal long ago. The DMCA goes way beyond the traditional copyright protection for an author, and that is the issue. The other issue is the extension of the length of time a copyright is good for. The original duration gave an author a chance to make some money from his work before it became public domain. It is now being extended to allow huge corporations to make money for decades after the original author is dead and gone (like Walt Disney). This was arguably not the original intent.

Now we need someone to help finance the efforts break the software and business process patents, which are probably much worse for society than the idiocy of the DMCA.

Copywrite Law (0)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202161)

will always be held up by the courts as being a legal method for corporations and individuals to protect their intellecual property. It is time for Duke and its coward to face up to the facts of this and be aware his $2m will be utterly wasted.

Well funded? (1)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202169)

I agree, this is somewhat encouraging. However, 1 milion is a paltry amount of money compared to what is at the disposal of the music/movie industry. A couple lawsuits could eat that up in no time.

Lawsuit v. Duke University School of Law? (2)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202206)

Remember, the $1M went to the Duke University School of Law. there are hundreds of students there, paying Duke for the privilege of researching this subject.

If somebody wants to sue Duke Law School and hopes to suck them dry with legal costs, they are barking up the wrong tree. You generally don't sue people who (a) know more about the law than you and (b) have hundreds more lawyers than you, especially since (c) they have those hundreds more lawyers for free.

Re:Lawsuit v. Duke University School of Law? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202277)

You generally don't sue people who (a) know more about the law than you and (b) have hundreds more lawyers than you, especially since (c) they have those hundreds more lawyers for free.

Duke's law students are only apprentice lawyers. Barely level 1 in AD&D terms. The kinds of lawyers the MPAA can afford to employ are level 15 not to mention they have hundreds of dark clerics on their side of the table.

Anonymous Coward? He's got sense, if you ask me (4, Interesting)

G0SP0DAR (552303) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202171)

Put yourself in the shoes of this "Anonymous Coward" who donated a million bucks to fight the expansion of copyright law. If you were to identify yourself of having the power to change the law (measured in millions of U.S. dollars) in favor of consumers, you can bet the rest of your assets that the MPAA, RIAA, SSSCA drafters, DMCA enforcers, and Jack Valenti's distant cousins will all be up in arms trying to silence you. They'd put a bounty on your head so as to involve otherwise apathetic people in stopping/robbing/killing you. The people who bribe congressmen to kill their competition are in that right very agressive people and will not rest until any significant threat to their continued exponential profit growth is eliminated. I'm not trying to discouraging people to help out, there's not a lot you can do to help out if you're dead. I just don't think that it would be wise to identify yourself as a threat to these dangerous people and organizations until after the dust settles and they no longer have their "power"

Re:Anonymous Coward? He's got sense, if you ask me (2, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202226)

Uh, I think you left your tinfoil hat over here [] .

Re:Anonymous Coward? He's got sense, if you ask me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202249)

Tinfoil hat fall off again?

Re:Anonymous Coward? Try Anonymous Hero (2)

renehollan (138013) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202328)

That remains to be seen, of course, but true heroes are not in if for personal glory.

mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers? (3, Interesting)

kisrael (134664) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202175)

Anyone know how the anonymous transfer of a million dollars happens?

Especially these days, when big secretive money moves are watched more carefully.

A bunch of 50s in some briefcases?

Some kind of anonymous bank check?

Or does the University probably know, but part of the deal is that they don't tell anyone?

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (3, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202193)

The university knows. There is probably a contract that states the benefactor shall remain anonymous.

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (1)

cetan (61150) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202235)

If the person that donated the money did so through legal cousel or other such representative they (the unversity) may not know. (I give money to x with the written instructions to distribute to y parties. Y parties receive money from x but not from me.)

You can bet your bottom dollar that the Feds know who it is though.

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (1)

Eusebo (24544) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202216)

No that hard... Use a lawyer as a middle man. Bound by client confidentiality, they would be unable to disclose who wired the money to them. All the Univesity knows is they recieved a $1M wire from some lawyer.

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202231)

If you were a presitigious university, and you got a million bucks from an less than reputable person [] , you'd say they "insisted" on donating anonymously also. ;)

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202242)

I'd say it's nigh impossible....

Re:mechanics of anonymous million dollar transfers (4, Informative)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202357)


Anyone know how the anonymous transfer of a million dollars happens?

Usually the benefactor pays a legal firm with a cashier's check and the legal firm pays the university. The university to be sure that all is legitimate can ask who the benefactor is, but will need to sign non-disclosure agreements before they can find out. These agreements give the law firm the ability to sue the school if they leak the information (usually for more than the initial investment).

Simple! (2)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202407)

I gave them a Tux stuffed with 100's.

Theory on the donor.... (2, Funny)

jsonmez (544764) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202191)

This is my theory on the donor... You know how serial killers eventually get caught, not because people outsmart them, but because they feel guilty and really want to be caught and punished so they leave clues... I think it's the guy that copyrighted the phone numbers as music pieces, or maybe the jpg company...

This is a good start... (1)

LaserBeams (412546) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202202)

Heck, anything better than what we have had is a good start. But I'm afraid the $1 million is too little, and the vast majority of the public really doesn't care, or see the need for anything to change. Do they really care if long-dead animator Walter Disney gets to keep the rights to poor Mickey Mouse? No.

Which means, at least for the short term, we're still screwed.

Advocacy can work wonders, but only if the public is willing to listen, and right now, I don't see that happening.

One million isn't much (3, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202339)

I disagree, a million dollars is a good amount for some research.
It isn't enough to fight anyone, but it is a good amount to pay a small staff to research the actual cost and benefits of copyrights.

We really don't have clear data on how much work is impeded by copyright patent length, and how much worse it would be if it was lengthened.
Nor do we know what effect shorter periods would have.

So little is really known that we can't intelligently argue all that fairly about the cost and benefit to society.

Re:This is a good start... (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202341)

Actually, alot of the public does care, once made to understand.

Personally, I'm furious that I can't legally make a copy of Steamboat Willie to show to my kids. It's a piece of culture. It's history. It's not a commodity anymore. I should be able to say "look kids, here's the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon". But I can't do so unless Disney both decides to sell it, and I can afford it.

Just this weekend I explained this to an untechnical friend of mine. As soon as I explained that Steamboat Willie (and countless other pieces of culture) should belong to EVERYONE, not do Disney, he was confused. He truly did not understand the concept of 'Public Domain'.

His response was 'they can profit off Mickey Mouse, so they should keep it'

To which I replied, "Mark Twain's ancestors could profit off of Huckleberry Finn, but it's public domain. Profit isn't an issue. Copyright is a favor we grant creators. We own it. They stole it. This was exactly the same situation the founders of this country set up the law to prevent: a handful of corporations owning and controlling what we see, read and hear."

I actually watched as the hamster turned the wheels in his head. In an instant he was as pissed about the situation as I was.

This is our culture. This is our history. Whether any one person thinks any one piece of film, text, or music is trivial is irrelevant.

Fact is, in 100 years, when some kid needs to write a book report on 20th century culture, he'll be paying royalties.

So, in the end, we just need to increase public awareness, be it one person at a time. Your average Johnny Lunchpail doesn't realise what Public Domain is. They think copyright is forever.

That said, 1 million dollars to pay a bunch of future lobbyists isn't, IMO, the answer. 1 million dollars for a TV or radio campaign would be much better spent.

People are pissed when they understand the problem. We've all been taken advantage of.

bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202204)

I copyrighted giving donations to universities and colleges for the express purpose of funding programs designed to eliminate bad copyrights.

I'm fucking suing.

Just a minute... (5, Funny)

Anixamander (448308) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202280)

It's good to know that we have some well-funded idealists on our side, even if they are 'Anonymous Cowards.' ;^)

Interesting article submission, yet it violates my patent on "a method for using ASCII test to simulate a pointy nosed person winking and smiling ." You will be hearing from my lawyers.

More details surfaced... (0, Troll)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202289)

...The AC offered to show photo ID to prove the check was valid, only to produce a pic of a man holding his bum open.

Re:More details surfaced... (Mod Parent UP!!) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4202313)

That is the FUNNIEST damned comment I've read on here in months...thanks for the belly laugh, dude(tte)!

A tough job (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202293)

I know it's an unpleasant, thankless, unpopular job, but I'll volunteer to give up my personal time and make the necessary commitments it takes to be the anonymous recepient of the million dollar grant. Just PayPal the funds to my hotmail account, You're quite welcome, and rest assured, this generous donation will go a long way to restoring sanity to the patent, copyright and IP situation in these turbulent times.

the patent problem is a bigger issue (5, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202321)

While abuse of copyright and dwindling fair use law is bad, fundamentally those things which are copyrighted are created by the authors, and they should have the ability to control them. If they control them in an anti-consumer way, consumers can always boycott them. This isn't going to change the world tomorrow or the day after, but what's at stake? Movies, music, TV, books -- mostly entertainment.

The patent problem is horrid. Unlike copyright, where at least people might claim some rights based on creation, patent law is clearly corrupted. People patent things that are not inventions -- they patent "business methods" of dubious originality, they patent software methods which have been in use long before the patent filing ("oh, no documentation that you used it? no prior art, then"), and moreover, patents screw the little guys, because patents cost a metric fuckton of money to get, especially en masse. If I write a book, copyright protects me automatically, and filing a copyright is cheap. If I didn't want to file a copyright, nowadays technology gives me other irrefutable options -- like publishing MD5 checksums in the paper -- that are even cheaper. If patents are truly for novel inventions, then why are developers in the software industry constantly afraid of stepping on patents? If all that many people are coming up with something independantly, doesn't that imply that the patent holder was just the first to file on something obvious that followed from existing technology, instead of the inventor of something novel?

Moreover, with patents, we affect all of technology, from CS to biotech, and we stop innovation. Having to pay $10 more than you should for a Britney Spears CD isn't going to hurt the economy -- but having to pay too much for inferior technology for 25 years that no one can legally improve upon, well, that's going to hurt the economy. Patents on obvious inventions slow innovation, hurt growth, damage industries, restrict R&D -- and this effect cuts across industries.

I'm sorry, but this is a lot more damaging that whether or not you can legally rip and/or trade mp3s.

Chineese anyone? (1)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202327)

I agree that copyright law has gotten rediculous The article on /. about the eBay and the guy that pattened online auctions, even though that isn't totally a copyright issue, proves this to be true.

If we're not careful, we won't be able to make a web pages because clear images and white space might get copyrighted, but at the same time ... look at China! The lack of copyright laws has their citizens copying and pirating software and other intillectual property faster than a dog can eat cheese! (I've witnessed this MANY times first hand by foreign grad students)

We need to be realistic enough to promote research through rewarding individuals that come up with slick new ideas, but at the same time, be careful not to get so rediculous that people can run around releasing Blue Cap Linux and Falling Star Office (produced by Moon Macrosystems)

I wish it was us... (1)

dwlaw (606531) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202337)

Geez, I wish the donor would have considered giving to UNC-Law. Those dang Dookies!! The IP program here is way behind what it should be, that's for sure. Although, if the money did come here, odds are they'd use it for environmental law or something. :/ Dave ----------- 2L, UNC-Law

Verizon? Is that you? (4, Interesting)

JohnDenver (246743) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202338)

The latest buzz seems to be that the Telcoms and tech manufacturers are getting peeved with the MPAA and RIAA push to legislate thier industry (Hollings Bill, DMCA liability). The 20 billion dollar entertainment industry is trying to push around a 600 billion dollar tech industry.

Simply put: Piracy is the killer app for Telcoms and consumer electronics industries, unless it's in the Telcoms and consumer electronics.

My theory: I think the Telcoms and friends want to devalue the entertainment industry. They want the same exclusive content that AOL/Time Warner enjoys, but rather aquiring the content via an expensive merger, our friends would much rather buy all that content at commidity prices, or sign exclusive deals to act as the conduit to deliver music and entertainment at competitive prices.

If you really want to figure out who's conspiring what. (1) You have to be realistic (2) You have to determine how it pays off

Re:Verizon? Is that you? (1)

AAAWalrus (586930) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202395)

I dunno about anyone else, but I don't understand what you just said. Telecommunications companies trying to "devalue the entertainment industry"? Why? What "exclusive content"? What does this have to do with copyright law?

You've made my brain hurt with your conspiracy mumbo jumbo.

My guess is... Bill Gates (1)

motek (179836) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202348)

That wouldn't be out of place, if you think about it.


Why this matters, and why it's mostly good (5, Interesting)

AAAWalrus (586930) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202352)

Basically, you have a donor who "anonymously" threw $1 million at Duke to fund "advocacy and research" of battling copyright law expansion. Why this is good is hopefully apparent. It's basic economics of the new millenium.

Basically, corporations believe that public knowledge of technology and processes is bad, because it's hard to make money off of something everyone can reproduce. This country is founded on democracy (good) but also has strong roots in free-market capitalism (mostly good). Making money is why we as a country are so well off, and people seek to maximize their money making. Public domain knowledge of technology and processes reduces the chance to make money because people will pay you more for something that only *you* can make, hence putting a premium on innovative AND proprietary information.

Lawmakers in a capitalist society are easily swayed by the corporations with their lobbying and donations, making it possible to influence law in their favor. In this case, copyright law, when expanded, better protects the information of corporations, making it harder for technology and processes to come into the public domain. In a society where money is so valued, any chance to make money by the corporations is often countered by ways to save money by the consumers.

We as consumers would love to see copyright law weakened rather than expanded because it increases the potential to save money. Also, there is a certain ideology in promoting the free sharing of thought, ideas, and technology for the betterment of society. So when someone donates money to the cause of actively opposing copyright law expansion, it serves to benefit us (the consumers).

But the real question is this: Why would someone do this? Certainly someone with a cool million lying around did something to make that money. What is to be gained by an individual donating that much money to a cause that has its roots in opposing the big corporation and "the man"? Likely, it isn't because it was just philosophically the "right thing to do".


my 2 cents (1)

AresTheImpaler (570208) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202360)

an anonymous gift of $1 million

I was going to say something important, but my 2 cents are now worthless...

the donation was in the name of.... (0, Redundant)

feldkamp (146657) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202373)

some nerdy guy named Gilliam Wates. Hmmm...

How very odd. (2, Interesting)

nukeade (583009) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202376)

Hmm, a well known law school gets a large anonymous donation to fight our awful IP laws so shortly after eBay gets into trouble with a very vague and questionable patent.

What strange timing. I wonder if one of those fresh out of school lawyers will be taking up eBay's case at a significant discount. I wonder how much cheaper one of these lawyers is than a more expens... I mean experienced lawyer.


Little late on this one slashdot. (1, Offtopic)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202377)

I submitted this story, as well as posted it on my slash site, around 10 AM

Article on EDUSlash []

Socialist crap (2)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 12 years ago | (#4202405)

What's wrong with choice. If you are you company wants to donate its work then that is your choice. But is someone or some company wants to retain ownership of their work that is their right. Monetary gain has been the mother of invention, always has and always will. Look at socialist countries even they reward their creative people with a higher standard of living than others. Sure there are some people who aren't out for financial gain who just want to help, but few. Just think about all the things in life you enjoy and most exist because at some time someone or company made money creating it. Even if they only made enough money to pay their bills to allow them to continue creating.

Don't try to legislate altruism, leave it to choice.
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