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Intellectual Property Laws bad for business

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the intellects-are-sometimes-bad-for-business dept.

Patents 293

mshiltonj writes "The NYTimes has a story called "Report Raises Questions About Fighting Online Piracy" that talks about how the stringent enforcement of current Intellectual Property laws (see: RIAA) may acutally be bad for business. It's the not EFF or FSF saying this, it's professors at Harvard Business School and Cardozo Law School. The professors say, "The ideas of copy-left, or of a more liberal regime of copyright, are receiving wider and wider support, It's no longer a wacky idea cloistered in the ivory tower; it's become a more mainstream idea that we need a different kind of copyright regime to support the wide range of activities in cyberspace." and "Bits are not the same as atoms. We need to reframe the legal discussion to treat the differences of bits and atoms in a more thoughtful way.""

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293 comments

This just in! (-1, Offtopic)

ImaNumber (754512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428564)

Hitting yourself in the head may leave a bruise.... Duh!

White pride (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428836)

the amateur soldiers roaming the streets are likely to capitulate when faced with professionals [bbc.co.uk] from an international force

Ain't it great to be a member of the great white tribe?

Academia .... (-1, Troll)

gus goose (306978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428571)

.. No personal attacks intended, but it has taken academia 10 years to discover what I already knew in '94. "Many hands make light work".

gus

Re:Academia .... (5, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428686)

Well since Stallman has been part of "academia" at MIT for longer you've known about the concept of free software, and probably for longer than you've been alive, you're kind of wrong.

Or did you think all free software has been developed by a bunch of teenage hackers?

Re:Academia .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428801)

So you respond with a personal attack. Good show. *rolls eyes*.

And yet Stallman is the *WORST* person to talk (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428876)

about this topic. Stallman lives off of grants and similar things: He's not running a business. If his livelyhood is based around donations instead of actual market-decided profits then his opinions don't hold much water regarding IP. He deals with philosophy, nothing more.

bad for economy too (2, Insightful)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428585)

Intellectual Property Laws bad for business
not just that, but they dad for economy too. All the major corporations are moving their operations to overseas, and the only leftover jobs will be for Lawyers and other PR personnel. Which cant be too good.

Re:bad for economy too (0, Offtopic)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428841)

All the major corporations are moving their operations to overseas, and the only leftover jobs will be for Lawyers and other PR personnel.

This is FUD. While it is true that a lot of jobs are moving to other countries, the US is still the world's largest EXPORTER. This would obviously be impossible if the US were not producing goods. Therefore, there are still many, many jobs in the US.

wired article (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428594)

There's an article like this in this month's Wired too.
It is pretty clear that an idea is not something that someone can "own", because it doesn't exist in space and time. Property laws were developed because there is only a limited amount of material objects in the universe, but everyone can "own" ideas without "taking" anything from anybody else. In fact, it is better to spread good ideas around, for the same reason that it is better to live in a good neighborhood than a bad one.

Re:wired article (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428851)

How do we actually *know* why property laws were invented.

I mean, yes we certainly see their utility in our lives.

But when you get right down to it, we inherited the ideas. And property laws originated so long ago that we probably can only *guess* at why their originators created them.

So what's my point? My point is that we just conject, not know, why property laws first came into effect.

(And for that matter, there may have been multiple societies that introduced them independently, so there could be multiple, different reasons for introducing them.)

Re:wired article (2, Funny)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8429023)

You young whippersnappers. I remember when the property laws were introduced. I remember!

It was to enable those powerful bastards to own more stuff than they need, in order to prevent the poor people from benefiting from it! Property laws are a tool of oppression, but everyone just accepts them as just nowadays.

Ah, things aren't as they used to be...

Re:wired article (4, Insightful)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428857)

I think a lot of this has to do with the continuious copyright extensions. If copyright were left alone and implemented as it was originally, it wouldn't seem like such an oppressive system.

Basically the copyright extension lobbyists are killing themselves slowly by stretching out copyright terms longer and longer. Each time they stretch it, the thinner it's importance becomes to the general population who see it as unfair to the common good.

Re:wired article (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428896)

Actually, Copyright law is designed so that artists, inventors, etc.. have some kind of incentive for creating. The idea is that if you take that protection away artists won't bother creating because they can't sell their product without someone stealing it and selling it. Or that you invent something and someone else copies your idea thus taking away some or all of your ability to make money. Since we (at least here in the US) live in a capitalist society the idea is that people work to gain, in our case they work or create to gain money. Copyright law has nothing to do with protecting matter. However this is not to say I do not agree that music and art should be copyrighted for a hundred years either. A reasonable amount of time to profit from your work is all that is needed to give artists a reason to create, not what is likely to be longer than their lifetime so that greedy leeches can continue to sell their creations indefinately.

Re:wired article (2, Informative)

Telluride (720291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428900)

This is exactly what the SlipHead Idea Board [sliphead.com] has been trying to say. Check it out, they really understand that the free exchange of ideas creates more than any one person or company could do on its own.

Yes, stringent enforcement is bad... (4, Insightful)

DragonMagic (170846) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428600)

Yes, stringent enforcement is bad, but so is blatant infringement. Companies should allow some latitude with infringing properties of their works, and some basic trading between friends. However, I also believe, both as a creator and a reseller of intellectual property, that placing your 300 CD Collection on Kazaa is going way too far as well.

Copyright should always be a balance. Promotion should be allowed, but only on an intimate level with people you know, not the entire world, unless the creator or publisher says it's all right. Region codes on DVDs, encryptions, copy prevention methods, etc., are all just profits and ineffective in what they're named to do.

I love libraries, borrow from friends and let them borrow from me, and will take DVDs over to parties so we can watch movies. Some publishers, studios and organizations will call me a pirate, but I would like to think that I'm a consumer and a citizen of the USA who prefers to share what he rightfully paid for with those who would also enjoy it.

Just my opinion and observations.

Re:Yes, stringent enforcement is bad... (5, Insightful)

radja (58949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428627)

>Companies should allow some latitude with infringing properties of their works, and some basic trading between friends. However, I also believe, both as a creator and a reseller of intellectual property, that placing your 300 CD Collection on Kazaa is going way too far as well.

what I really think is going way too far is companies deciding who can or cannot be my friend. I have no problem whatsoever with treating everybody as a friend (yes, there are different 'levels' of friend, like all other friends.), and I have no trouble sharing with all my friends.

Re:Yes, stringent enforcement is bad... (5, Interesting)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428883)

I have no problem whatsoever with treating everybody as a friend [for the purposes of sharing copyrighted materials via p2p] (yes, there are different 'levels' of friend, like all other friends.), and I have no trouble sharing with all my friends.

Great! Friends, I need to "borrow" $20.

Unfortunately, this time you'll have to share your own money, not an evil record company's money, and I don't actually plan to give it back to you.

I mean, as long as you can re-define "friends" to mean "people I've never met who share my musical tastes and my ethical blind spots", can't I be as intellectually (dis)honest and re-define "borrow" too?

(I am reminded of the Cowbirds in Walt Kelly's Pogo, socialist agitators whose motto was "To share! To share what others' have!")

Monopoly on commercial distribution (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428811)

I believe a fair compromise protecting both the rights of the consumers and provoding an initiative for the producers would be to make copyright a monopoly on commercial distributions, rather than a monopoly on all distribution.

then don't complain (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428603)


when [large corp] comes along and just takes your idea to market without giving you a bean, they make billions all the execs get to live in bliss and you can eat dirt out of the sidewalk

sounds fair to me, yeah "do away with copyright ! say already financially secure professors and stock trading buisness tutors"

of course you can just watch [large corp] spend billions on developing widget X then just steal it saving $$$$!
yeah sounds fair to me !!

A>S

Re:then don't complain (4, Informative)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428710)

"when [large corp] comes along and just takes your idea to market without giving you a bean"

That's what a lot of large corps do now if you work for them. If you work for a large auto manufacutrer and design something you'll be lucky if you get a thing for it. While the company and execs make a killing on it. This is not something new.

Re:then don't complain (5, Insightful)

neural cooker (720830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428813)

Remember that when you work for a company and make something for them they are paying you for your work and time. It is known that your work for them is owned by the company and not owned by you.

This is far from the same thing as a company taking work from you when you are not affiliated with them.

Re:then don't complain (1)

Joseff (756472) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428952)

You must do all the work on your own time. Including Patents and such under your own name. Best if you don't even tell your company that you are creating something.

Re:then don't complain (2, Insightful)

kalja (757856) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428729)

Sorry, but how are you supposed to be able to steal/sell something without acquire a copyright? The copyright is for being able to buy/re-ship stuff, if it wasnt for the copyright we would all own everything we did for an eternity and not being able to share anything at all.

Re:then don't complain (4, Informative)

olethrosdc (584207) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428731)

Ideas deployment is usually incremental - and the ideas that are newly deployed are pretty obvious.

Less obvious ideas are discussed in the public domain long before they are introduced as products. I like to give ADSL as an example - the original idea was that you have to split your band into many (ideally infinite) subbands to send information. The problem was that until the development of fast DSPs it was impossible to do it - and it was certainly impossible to do it when the idea was first mentioned.. since it was the days of analog filtering.

Nevertheless, there are numerous patents on ADSL, which are about very specific parts of the overall ITU-T standard rather than the idea of splitting the band in subbands to send information..

Furthermore, an individual has little or no protection against predatory companies that want to steal his ideas even with the patent system in place. The reason that a patent costs much more than an individual can possibly afford. What people do, is they give the idea to a patent attorney/firm, who agrees to pay for the upfront cost in return for a percentage on any profit made from the patent.

I'm not going to complain (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428872)

I certainly don't believe in the implication of the first example, that ideas should be "owned" rather than shared freely.

And ideas aren't copyrightable currently, so I don't see how copyright law would affect them. Patent law mayby, even though ideas in abstract forms wasn't patentable until recently.

The second example is even easier, if [large corp] spend billions developing a widget, they obviously do that in full knowledge of the law, and have an idea how to regain the money within the existing laws. They hardly have any right to complain afterwards.

Of course, any copyright and patent law reform need to take into consideration how widgets that costs billions of dollars to develop, and needs to be developed, will be financed after the reform.

Re:then don't complain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8429004)

The thing that most slashbots don't seems to understand is that patents and to a degree also copyright is most valuable to individuals so that large companies can't rip them off.

For large companies branding and other kinds of name-recognision is a lot more important. Not that patents and copyright is insignificant for them but it's not at all as important as it is for individuals.

ivory tower? (5, Insightful)

awb131 (159522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428608)

If it's now being said by the Harvard Business School and Cardozo Law School, you might say that it's no longer just being said by the long-haired hackers, but now it is also coming from the ivory tower.

Re:ivory tower? (3, Insightful)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428757)

"...being said by the Harvard Business School and Cardozo Law School...."

These two schools tend to be on the more liberal side of things and tend to be closer to "long-haired hackers" than a majority of the "ivory tower". What they say doesn't necessairly match what most business believes at all.

Re:ivory tower? (1)

espo812 (261758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428861)

These two schools tend to be on the more liberal side of things and tend to be closer to "long-haired hackers" than a majority of the "ivory tower".
Same goes for the NYT.

Re:ivory tower? (4, Insightful)

awb131 (159522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428880)

Maybe, but a lot more "regular" business people read the Harvard Business Review than read EFF publications or RMS' stuff.

The term IP itself is misleading (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428609)

The use of the word "property" in "intellectual property" is itself misleading. It is similar to the common lie of calling copyright infringement "theft". I prefer the term "copyrighted material".

It is just hard to apply the term "property" to something that is so easily duplicated and propagates so easily.

Re:The term IP itself is misleading (5, Informative)

nutznboltz (473437) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428721)

from http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html# IntellectualProperty [gnu.org]

``Intellectual property''
Publishers and lawyers like to describe copyright as ``intellectual property''---a term that also includes patents, trademarks, and other more obscure areas of law. These laws have so little in common, and differ so much, that it is ill-advised to generalize about them. It is best to talk specifically about ``copyright,'' or about ``patents,'' or about ``trademarks.''

The term ``intellectual property'' carries a hidden assumption---that the way to think about all these disparate issues is based on an analogy with physical objects, and our ideas of physical property.

When it comes to copying, this analogy disregards the crucial difference between material objects and information: information can be copied and shared almost effortlessly, while material objects can't be. Basing your thinking on this analogy is tantamount to ignoring that difference. (Even the US legal system does not entirely accept the analogy, since it does not treat copyrights or patents like physical object property rights.)

If you don't want to limit yourself to this way of thinking, it is best to avoid using the term ``intellectual property'' in your words and thoughts.

``Intellectual property'' is also an unwise generalization. The term is a catch-all that lumps together several disparate legal systems, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and others, which have very little in common. These systems of law originated separately, cover different activities, operate in different ways, and raise different public policy issues. If you learn a fact about copyright law, you would do well to assume it does not apply to patent law, since that is almost always so.

Since these laws are so different, the term ``intellectual property'' is an invitation to simplistic thinking. It leads people to focus on the meager common aspect of these disparate laws, which is that they establish monopolies that can be bought and sold, and ignore their substance--the different restrictions they place on the public and the different consequences that result. At that broad level, you can't even see the specific public policy issues raised by copyright law, or the different issues raised by patent law, or any of the others. Thus, any opinion about ``intellectual property'' is almost surely foolish.

If you want to think clearly about the issues raised by patents, copyrights and trademarks, or even learn what these laws require, the first step is to forget that you ever heard the term ``intellectual property'' and treat them as unrelated subjects. To give clear information and encourage clear thinking, never speak or write about ``intellectual property''; instead, present the topic as copyright, patents, or whichever specific law you are discussing.

According to Professor Mark Lemley of the University of Texas Law School, the widespread use of term "intellectual property" is a recent fad, arising from the 1967 founding of the World Intellectual Property Organization. (See footnote 123 in his March 1997 book review, in the Texas Law Review, of Romantic Authorship and the Rhetoric of Property by James Boyle.) WIPO represents the interests of the holders of copyrights, patents and trademarks, and lobbies governments to increase their power. One WIPO treaty follows the lines of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been used to censor useful free software packages in the US. See http://www.wipout.net/ [wipout.net] for a counter-WIPO campaign.

The hypocrisy of calling these powers "rights" is starting to make WIPO embarassed [gnu.org] .

Re:The term IP itself is misleading (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428862)

Excellent reference. I'll have to save that link.

...``Intellectual property'' is also an unwise generalization. The term is a catch-all that lumps together several disparate legal systems, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and others, which have very little in common.

As I see it, the only thing they have in common as "intellectual property" is that they are all things that aren't property, but are treated by some as if they are.

IP is property and downloading is theft. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428932)

This is not a troll. I really am interested in your logic.

How about these.

You bring your car to the garage. It gets fixed and the bill comes to some amount of money. You are expected to pay the mechanic this amount. Lets say it was all labor as well and no parts were replaced. You use your extra key and get your car back some night without paying the mechanic for the work he did. Did you just steal from him or did you just violate his right to collect the money you owe him. What is he no longer in possession of in this example? The car was always yours, you just took it back without paying the bill. If the answer is nothing then you did not steal from him although I think a court would disagree.

The following argument is a bit absurd but the point is made. Don't think about the details, think about the concept. Ignore that the charge uses $20 worth of electricity or the outlet is on the street.

Since many people claim that theft can only occur when a physical object is taken then how about electricity. Assume a city produces their own electricity via a solar grid. Say you are walking down the street. You see an outlet. You decide that you need to give your cell phone a quick charge and plug it in. You leave your cell phone there (because this is a perfect world and it won't get stolen) and it charges. When you get back there is a city employee there holding your cell phone (He unplugged it to plug his whatever in) telling you that you owe the City $20 for the electricity you used (your cell phone takes a lot of juice to charge). Did you just steal from the city or not? You didn't take anything "physical" from them.

DMCA aside.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428610)

Existing copyright laws are not the major problem. It's the 'over-enforcement' of copyrights, and the ridiculous nature of the patent system that are really the major problems with IP laws in the US.

Re:DMCA aside.. (5, Insightful)

Daniel Boisvert (143499) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428788)

Existing copyright laws are not the major problem. It's the 'over-enforcement' of copyrights

While I agree with the spirit of what I understand you to be saying here, I think it's important to note that a law which is only good when marginally enforced is a lousy law.

I certainly do not expect that framing a better law will be easy, but I think it's clear that settling for ones that are pretty-not-too-bad has largely contributed to the mess we're in right now. The blood, sweat, and tears should go into the framing of appropriate laws, not the decision of whether to enforce them.

Dan

too complex (4, Insightful)

Tirel (692085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428619)

The issues here are too complex for one to argue either for or against IP laws. The simple matter of fact is that it does benefit some businesses and it hurts others. I could find cases of both and this kind of arguing over if it is really fruitless and only serves to deepen the pockets of the media which distributes such articles.

in the end, the free market will decide.

Re:too complex (2, Interesting)

wesman83 (700326) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428701)

"in the end, the free market will decide." or we can decide we dont want our lives run unfairly by competition and greed, dictated by the free market... parecon [parecon.org]

Plz Mod Parent Down, Troll, Check His Posting Hist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428719)

*eom

morons muzzle corepirate nazi felons/murderers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428631)

by not giving them any more of yOUR money?

tougher daze ahead? lookout bullow.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators.... that should shed some light on yOUR subjects.

tell 'em robbIE? don't save everything for the interview?

radical rethinking of IP? (4, Insightful)

cagle_.25 (715952) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428634)

From the article,
"Bits are not the same as atoms. We need to reframe the legal discussion to treat the differences of bits and atoms in a more thoughtful way."
The current P2P swapping debacle that RIAA is facing was inevitable. Back in the day (i.e., when the printing press was invented), people funded their own printings of books on the theory that ideas were for disseminating. Nowadays, people ask readers to fund "printings" of various media on the theory that ideas are for making money. Nonsense! How can you "copyright" an algorithm? An idea? A mathematical theorem? Only by creating an unstable system of "intellectual property" which will inevitably collapse under its own weight. Consider: every theorem (including algorithms) in existence today was already contained implicitly in the fundamental axioms and definitions by which it was proved. So who gets the credit?

Jeff Cagle

Re:radical rethinking of IP? (5, Informative)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428778)

P2P swapping debacle that RIAA is facing was inevitable

And deliciously ironic. Most people don't realize that Hollywood was LITERALLY founded on piracy. Edison had very strict controls on the equipment that was used to produce and show movies. He formed an organization to enforce his rights. This organization was so onerous that scores of soon-to-be movie producers/directors/etc packed up their lives and moved to the "wild wild west" AKA California. California was so wild and remote that Edison's patents couldn't be enforced, and the movie industry grew and flourished. By the time the law got things settled down, the patents had expired (the patent limit was 17 or 18 years at that time).

Next time you have to sit through those annoying anti-piracy bits before the movie, just remember that it it were't for wholesale disregard for the "Intellectual Property" of others, Hollywood might have never came to be.

Re:radical rethinking of IP? (4, Informative)

puppet10 (84610) | more than 10 years ago | (#8429039)

California was so wild and remote that Edison's patents couldn't be enforced

It was also because it was close to another country so they could occasionally flee to Mexico [stanford.edu] to avoid the law.

Re:radical rethinking of IP? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428781)

And every English book is contained in the ASCII character set, but I still give credit to Shakespeare for writing Hamlet. The author gets the credit, with algorithms as much as books, and copyright is essential to protect this credit. If an author wishes to relax the rights they are given, they can do so - there are many "GPL-like" licenses for writing, or you can simply give your work to the public domain. The current system works fine, but just needs the term that copyright is granted for reduced to something more sensible.

Re:radical rethinking of IP? (5, Interesting)

bruce_the_moose (621423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428789)

While these acedemics may be doing the hero's task of rethinking IP, I'm also concerned about this comment by a copyright professor who read the report:

Jane C. Ginsburg, a law professor at Columbia University and a copyright expert, had a more mixed view of the report.....it "makes unsubstantiated, misleading, or misinformed statements about copyright law." In fact, she said, "A little less preaching to the technologist 'choir' might have made this a better 'sell' to copyright owners and, perhaps, to lawmakers."

Sloppy scholarship helps no one. Given how much bad research, lack of fact-checking, and fabricated hearsay (Jane Fonda and John Kerry photos anyone?) floats around on the net, the moment I encounter anything that I know is untrue or wrong in any piece, I stop reading and file the whole thing in the Intellectually Suspect folder.

The Committee for Economic Development has a spotty track record. Marshall Plan: Good. World Bank and IMF: iffy. Setting standards for public schools through testing: bad (and, yes, I am a parent).


Re:radical rethinking of IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428837)

Many others (business, professionals, average joe) will eventually discover the myriad burden (costs) these philosophies will place upon their existing, often huge, incumbent, and $$ valuable systems of their own monopolies. Never mind their future opportunities and activities.

Why is that it Business earns/gives the ultimate credibility and not the liberal ivory-tower who have considered such things for a long time? There seems to never be a penalty for being late to the game(philosophical understanding) in their world, at least that they would admit. Late is better than never, I guess.

Re:radical rethinking of IP? (1)

VIIseven7 (140968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428866)

Consider: every theorem (including algorithms) in existence today was already contained implicitly in the fundamental axioms and definitions by which it was proved. So who gets the credit?

The person who ties it all together and gives it a pretty name, of course. That's perfectly fine when it comes to theorems, since (AFAIK) there's nothing to prohibit anyone else from using the new information, as long as the original author gets credit. The problem arises when we start mixing the word "property" in with ideas.

Over and over (5, Insightful)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428645)

It's been said umpteen times but these folks at RIAA just don't seem to get it.

Its good that these reports are coming from schools that might have a louder voice in getting the point through.

When Joe Sixpack buys the CD, there is no ulterior motive behind that buy. He is not thinking about ripping the songs and sharing it for free. The DRM/copy protection/encryption/blah and all other technologies only make the experience of listening to music bittersweet when you put the CD into the player and it refuses to recognize it. And no digital protection is good enough for the Black Hats who would get around it, no matter what.

I will say it one more time. I have bought MORE music after I listen to it online before buying it. ARE YOU LISTENING RIAA?
BR 10 years down the line, I am sure we will all look back and laugh at RIAA tactics.

Re:Over and over (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428989)

10 years down the line, I am sure we will all look back and laugh at RIAA tactics.

Only if we can get the Congress to listen to us, and not to the rich and powerful media interests. Media influence is hard to ignore. "Never pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel."

It is Just Logical (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428650)

The virtual, computer, software world is just too malleable and flexible to be treated the same as real-world stuff (that is why computers get used in the first place), although with TCG/TCPA/Trusted Computing some people are having a really good go at trying to make this happen by building 'rules' into hardware.

Some people will need to learn this the hard way, and there is going to be a lot of kicking and screaming.

Fear for the future (5, Interesting)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428654)

The mainstream press and acedemics are now saying what /. has been ranting about for years. This is not necessarily a good thing. I believe IP should be reformed, but great care should be taken lest we shoot ourselves in the foot. There are a lot of programmers as well as artists here that could stand to lose their livlihood. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

Re:Fear for the future (0, Offtopic)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428753)

He was a scrawny calf who looked rather woozy, no-one suspected he was packin' an Uzi.

He mooed we must fight, escape or we'll die
Cows gathered around, cause the steaks were so high
Bad cow pun

We will fight for bovine freedom
We will run free with the Buffalo, or die
Cows with guns

Re:Fear for the future (0, Offtopic)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428766)

We will fight for bovine freedom And hold our large heads high We will run free with the Buffalo, or die Cows with guns

No kidding? People prefer free? (5, Insightful)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428657)

The ideas of copy-left, or of a more liberal regime of copyright, are receiving wider and wider support

Really? What a surprising finding. I would never have guessed that the vast majority of people, who happen to be the consumers of copyrighted material, would actually prefer the copy-left concept where that material was available to them free.

All sarcasm aside, people have always preferred free to paying for something but, the creators of the copyrighted material do deserve to make a living off of their work. The RIAA may be going to extremes with draconian practices but, the presently unspoken idea that "music wants to be free" is not justifiable. When I create a work, what ever it may be, I should have the right to determine how and by whom it may be used. The fact that someone else would rather have it for free is not an adequate reason for me to give it away if I choose not to.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (5, Insightful)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428708)

Yes, people prefer free. And the people are who the laws are here for.

the creators of the copyrighted material do deserve to make a living off of their work
Yes. The creators. The RIAA does not create music - it finds, harvests, markets , controls and charges for music, giving the slightest hint of what it makes (wastes) back to the original artist.

Courtney Love herself said that the average artist would do a lot better working for tips. That's what copylefting music does - it allows the artists to survive very well on tips, not on hoarding. This is the way artists have survived since the dawn of humanity.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428823)

So artists who choose to should copyleft their music, and those who choose to should copyright it. Just like we have at the moment.

Saying "the laws are for the people" is the "tyranny of the majority". I imagine most people would like to take stuff from shops without paying for it - should we let them, since the laws are for the people?

Courtney Love said it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428832)

wow, who would've thought one of the world's most knowledgable Economists/Musicians would come out and suggest that the system may be flawed. She's like, really smart, and stuff.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (3, Insightful)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428863)

Courtney Love herself said that the average artist would do a lot better working for tips. That's what copylefting music does - it allows the artists to survive very well on tips, not on hoarding.

The added bonus of course is that the good artists get paid and the crap artists have to find something else to do. It's more efficient (in an economic sense) than the current system which can drive sales for groups with no musical talent.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428955)

"Courtney Love herself said that the average artist would do a lot better working for tips."

Then perhaps they should. No company ever forced a musician into a record contract. There's enough information readily available for up-and-coming musicians to make responsible career decisions.

If they choose to sign a bad contract with an RIAA label, they can no longer claim deception. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (3, Insightful)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428807)

The RIAA may be going to extremes with draconian practices but, the presently unspoken idea that "music wants to be free" is not justifiable

Music wants to be free is not justifiable. It never was. Although, the tactics are being criticized because there is no alternative provided to the 'buy the whole cd or don't buy it'. I DO NOT want to spend 14/15/16/17 dollars on a CD if there is only a couple of songs that I would like to listen. iTunes is an example that Apple got this sentiment right and its a small step in right direction.

I am not defending people who want the music for free or who are sharing/downloading for free. All I am saying that beating up with a stick without giving an alternative is not right. This is only going to alienate customers and push them to do the wrong thing.

The distribution methods have changed with the P2P technologies and its time to build a business model around it.

ARE YOU READING THIS RIAA???

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (2, Interesting)

esme (17526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428897)

When I create a work, what ever it may be, I should have the right to determine how and by whom it may be used.

and that right should end when you perform that work in public.

that system worked very well for thousands of years, and would still work today if we totally abandoned copyright law. all but a handful of musicians already make all of their profits from live performances. patronage (government or private) can support artists who require more financing (opera and architecture come to mind) than they can get based on expectations of future performance revenues.

i do think there is a role for protecting artists from having their work plagiarized or bastardized (some european countries have laws like these). but copyright as it stands now hurts consumers, and doesn't help artists.

-esme

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428975)

the creators of the copyrighted material do deserve to make a living off of their work.

So pay them. Don't pay the RIAA. And make a note of this and hang it on the wall: If no one wants to pay them, they don't deserve getting paid.

Artists want to be free.

Actually they don't (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428999)

"need to make a living off their work". Proff: The vast majority of musicians do not make a living off their work. A significant fraction make some money from live performances. These will actually be helped from a more liberal copyright law, as they can more freely borrow from each other. A much smaller minority earn money from royalities. And a very small fraction of *those* are able to make a living of royalities.

The question is how much personal freedom we want to give up to serve the later very small group, and whether we maybe can find a more efficient and less problematic way than the current content distribution monopoly to serve them.

PS: The "surprise finding" is that more and more lawyers and economist supports amore liberal copyright regime. Among ordinary people, the idea of copyleft is not even known.

Re:No kidding? People prefer free? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#8429042)

All sarcasm aside, people have always preferred free to paying for something but, the creators of the copyrighted material do deserve to make a living off of their work.

That's not the reason that copyright was created. It was created to "promote useful arts and sciences". If changes in technology were to make it possible for the optimal amount of useful arts and sciences to be generated without the creators making a direct living off of controlling copies, then logic would dictate that copyright should be curtailed. Whether the creators "deserve" anything is irrelevant.

Copyright is a restriction on the freedom of the people. It was instituted as a tradeoff to generate more content. If it can be demonstrated that the content will be created anyway, then there is no need for it. So, if you wish to argue for copyrights, you need to somehow demonstrate that they increase the amount of content available to the public compared to any less intrusive system, and that the quantity and quality of the increased content outweighs the burdens and costs that the system imposes.

The fact that someone else would rather have it for free is not an adequate reason for me to give it away if I choose not to.

Conversely, the fact that you don't want to give something away for free is not in itself adequate reason to give broad and intrusive police powers to the government (and now private vigilante groups). If you don't want to give it away, you can always keep it secret. The government was given these powers so that more content would be created, the goal was not to create a personal enforcement squad for your wishes.

Not bad for business... (4, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428659)

...if you're Amazon and you're talking about one click ordering, or RAMBUS if you're talking about royalties on DDR RAM, etc. Obviously, if you're not the one holding the patents then you're not so lucky. But if you are that guy then you're laughing all the way to the bank.

This isn't a post about how good patents are. On the contrary, it's a post about how patents can be misused or abused to give one company an unfair advantage over its rivals.

I don't know where you draw the line between good patents and bad ones but it seems to me that a patent should at least illustrate a degree of innovation and invention beyond "Let's take this old idea and put it together with that old idea and have ourselves a licence to print money!", which is where we're at now with the USPTO handing out patents to overly-broad, far from unique ideas to anyone who ponies up the relevant filing fees.

Re:Not bad for business... (4, Insightful)

muonzoo (106581) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428894)

On the contrary, it's a post about how patents can be misused or abused to give one company an [unfair] advantage over its rivals.

That was the whole idea behind them. It might be just that a 20 year term of protection is too stringent for things like computer science innovations. However, withness the revolution in textiles when the original Gore patent rant our on Gore-Tex a few years back. Radical improvement in the quality of the 'competeing' fabrics, many of which were simply Teflon-laminate membranes made by someone other than Gore.

You could build an argument that Gore deserved to earn significant revenues for their pioneering work in the textiles field. That's what the patent process is supposed to look like. Since the innovation is clearly documented, at the end of the term, everyone benefits. It's definately a double edged sword.

Patents might have problems, especially when someone is granted a patent for non-novel techniques, or worse, something with demonstrable prior-art. This is when the system starts to break down. Combined with the Bog Business technique of cross licensing you can really lock out the little guys. Those practises are more a problem that the underlying concept.

RIAA (3, Insightful)

molafson (716807) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428661)

Copy-left software is conceptually different from the intellectual property that RIAA so stingily guards. I don't see what one has to do with the other. To associate the two categories weakens by association the legitimacy of copy-left (since "file trading" is legally actionable, if not altogether wrong).

IPR isnt a problem in itself... (5, Interesting)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428665)

Its a double edged sword this one...

A startup requires some kind of protection from companies that are bigger and more established from taking their idea and using their extra resources to get the product to market first. The IPR laws were orginally designed to protect the small guy and give him a fighting chance... in this case they add competition to the market.

The problem is that they are being used as bargining chips by huge global-hyper-mega corps as the corperate equivilant of a nuclear deterant (You sue me for this and i'll sue you for that!). This is absolutely NOT what they are designed for.

It would be great to come up with some hard and fast rule that prevents this abuse, but I cant think of one. Perhaps some kind of patent lifespan restriction based on company net worth (to prevent a company with ample resources to develop a patented technology from just sitting on the idea).

Any other suggestions?

Re:IPR isnt a problem in itself... (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428809)

It would be great to come up with some hard and fast rule that prevents this abuse, but I cant think of one. Perhaps some kind of patent lifespan restriction based on company net worth (to prevent a company with ample resources to develop a patented technology from just sitting on the idea).

Wouldn't work. Any big company with significant resources would have little trouble spinning off a subsidiary company with very little net worth whose entire purpose was to hold all the patents and license them and/or hammer competitors with lawsuits. And if you say "any company a big company has controlling interest in" as a caveat to get around this, you run into a catch-22 for small startups: their patents are gone if they get too much investment, but without investment their patents are useless....

A matter of simple economics (5, Insightful)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428668)

Once a person decides that a price of $15 is not a good price for a CD, or that $150 is not a good price for Windows XP, the economy as a whole is better off with that person downloading said program. Sure, the RIAA or Microsoft are happy with it, and would fight to the death over it, but that sale would never have been made in the first place.

The access to the infinitely duplicable material destroys the notion of scarcity of the product itself - whereupon the obvious price for such a product is no more than the cost of transport - usage of an Internet account.

We're seeing the destruction of an entire industry; its old guard will cry foul every step of the way, until the market eventually drags it into this new age. Observe the American car industry in the '70s, or of US Steel.

Re: the "worth" of bits. (3, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428889)

The access to the infinitely duplicable material destroys the notion of scarcity of the product itself

Currently when assessing the "damage" when a copyright violation has taken place, the retail cost of the item is used. However, this doesn't make sense - when a 14 year old kid pirates a movie industry standard $40,000 dollar 3D rendering package - is the damage really $40,000? Of course not, it is really $0. (I'm not saying the kid should go unpunished - that's a different argument).

But... (5, Insightful)

da_anarchist (548175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428687)

Intellectual property laws may be bad for business in general, but they are invaluable to big business. How else could they ensure that upstarts don't come in, undercut them, and take over the market? Yet, as anyone who's taken Economics 101 should know, monopolies are hopelessly inefficient - they restrict output leading to high prices for the consumer, whereas a competive market produces more and can only charge around their cost to produce the product. It's hard to be optimistic that big business interests and their lobbyists will ever allow the status quo to change.

Correct term is Intellectual Monopoly (5, Interesting)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428713)

The term Intellectual Property is a misnomer, a more correct term would be intellectual monopoly
Adam Smith and *Intellectual monopoly* (Score:5, Interesting)
by NZheretic (23872) on Fri 18 Oct 12:11AM (#4467943 [slashdot.org] )
From
The Relevance of Adam Smith [frb.org] by Robert L. Hetzel.
With added commentary by yours truly...
MONOPOLY AND GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES: The principal theme set forth in The Wealth of Nations is that a country most effectively promotes its own wealth by providing a framework of laws that leaves individuals free to pursue the interest they have in their own economic betterment. This self-interest motivates individuals? propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another and thereby leads them to meet the needs of others through voluntary cooperation in the market place:

...man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (p. 14)

Everyone realises and acknowledges that Microsoft is a business, there to make a profit to share with it's marjor stakeholders, from it's shareholders to it's employees. However ...
Smith also argues that the harmony between private goals and larger socially desirable goals promoted by voluntary cooperation between individuals in the market place is interfered with by monopoly and government subsidies. In contrast to competition, monopoly and government subsidies cause individuals to devote either too few or too many resources to particular markets:



....the private interests and passions of individuals naturally dispose them to turn their stock towards the employments which in ordinary cases are most advantageous to the society. But if from this natural preference they should turn too much of it towards those employments, the fall of profit in them and the rise of it in all others immediately dispose them to alter this faulty distribution. Without any intervention of law, therefore, the private interests and passions of men naturally lead to divide and distribute the stock of every society, among all the different employments carried on in it, as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the interest of the whole society.

All the different regulations of the mercantile system, necessarily derange more or less this natural and most advantageous distribution of stock.
(pp. 594-5)
Every derangement of the natural distribution of stock is necessarily hurtful to the society in which it takes place; whether it be by repelling from a particular trade the stock which would otherwise go to it, or by attracting towards a particular trade that which would not otherwise come to it. (p. 597)

.... sometimes, because of the overiding profit motive, the end consumer can be put at a disadvantage, and the natural model can become unbalanced. This often happens in tha case of several types of monopoly...
Smith describes the actions of monopolists as follows:


The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly under-stocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate. (p. 61)

The natural price is the lowest which the sellers can commonly afford to take, and at the same time continue their business. (p. 61) Today we would use the word competitive for natural. The effectual demand is the demand of those who are willing to pay the natural price of the commodity. (p. 56) Monopoly, as well as a governmentally subsidized activity, contrasts with a competitive market where a commodity is...sold precisely for what it is worth, or for what it really costs the person who brings it to market. (p. 55)
The Wealth of Nations contains three general kinds of criticism of monopolies. The first is that the higher prices in a monopolized market reduce the welfare of consumers:


If...capital is divided between two different grocers, their competition will tend to make both of them sell cheaper, than if it were in the hands of one only; and if it were divided among twenty, their competition would be just so much the greater, and the chance of their combining together, in order to raise the price, just so much the less. Their competition might perhaps ruin some of themselves; but to take care of this is the business of the parties concerned, and it may safely be trusted to their discretion. It can never hurt either the consumer, or the producer; on the contrary, it must tend to make the retailers both sell cheaper and buy dearer, than if the whole trade was monopolized by one or two persons.
(pp. 342-3)
In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest, that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question, had not the interest sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind. Their interest is, in this respect, directly opposite to that of the great body of the people. As it is the interest of the freemen of a corporation to hinder the rest of the inhabitants from employing any workmen but themselves, so it is the interest of the merchants and manufacturers of every country to secure to themselves the monopoly of the home market. (p. 461)

.... like deals made between vendors to set prices, which RAND "reasonable" licensing systems effectively does.
The second criticism of monopoly is that it engenders inefficient management:


Monopoly...is a great enemy to good management, which can never be universally established but in consequence of that free and universal competition which forces everybody to have recourse to it for the sake of self-defence. (p. 147)

For example, Microsoft's Internet Explorer containscurrently 20 unpatched vulnerabilities [safecenter.net] , a disproportionately high number in comparison to all the other browers on the market today. Also, because of a general disregard for security in the past, many of those same vulnerabilities are exploitable though other Microsoft applications.
The third criticism of monopoly is that it is inequitable because it increases arbitrarily the inequality in individuals? incomes:


...The policy of Europe occasions a very important inequality in the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, by restraining the competition in some employments to a smaller number than might otherwise be disposed to enter into them. (pp. 118-19)

And there is many a CIO discovering that the new Microsoft enterprise licensing agreement is far more expensive than before.

Monopoly has always been a contentious issue in debates on public policy in the United States. It is interesting to examine the way in which the ideas of Smith appear in current debates over monopoly. In general, proponents of government intervention in the market place argue that monopoly is endemic in capitalism and that its elimination requires significant intervention by the government in the market place. An opposing group argues that free markets effectively restrain monopoly power and that it is in fact government intervention in the market place that is chiefly responsible for monopoly. The first group assumes that large size, fewness of firms, and operation over an extensive geographic area automatically imply monopoly power and thus supports its position by citing the existence of industries dominated by a few large firms and the existence of multinational corporations. The opposing group supports its position by trying to show that where monopoly power exists it is made possible by particular governmental actions, e.g., in the United States by marketing orders that fix the price of milk above what it would be otherwise, or FCC regulations restricting the growth of cable TV, thereby preventing competition with the established networks.

The view of the world suggested in The Wealth of Nations is that monopoly power cannot persist without the assistance of government. The specific examples of monopoly that Adam Smith attacked required the police power of the state for their maintenance. These monopolies were of three kinds. One kind of monopoly depended upon the mercantilistic system of laws which England used to monopolize trade with its colonies: Monopoly of one kind or another, indeed, seems to be the sole engine of the mercantile system. (p. 595) Another kind arose from the monopoly power granted guilds (referred to by Smith as corporations), which allowed them exclusive rights to produce a given commodity:

The exclusive privilege of an incorporated trade necessarily restrains the competition, in the town where it is established, to those who are free of the trade. To have served an apprenticeship in the town, under a master properly qualified, is commonly the necessary requisite for obtaining this freedom. The bye-laws of the corporation regulate sometimes the number of apprentices which any master is allowed to have, and almost always the number of years which each apprentice is obliged to serve. The intention of both regulations is to restrain the competition to a much smaller number than might otherwise be disposed to enter into the trade. The limitation of the number of apprentices restrains it directly. A long term of apprenticeship restrains it more indirectly, but as effectually, by increasing the expence of education. (p. 119)
The government of towns corporate was altogether in the hands of traders and artificers; and it was the manifest interest of every particular class of them, to prevent the market from being overstocked, as they commonly express it, with their own particular species of industry; which is in reality to keep it always understocked. (p. 124)

A final kind of monopoly depended upon tariffs and quotas that prevented foreign producers from competing with domestic producers:

The superiority which the industry of the towns has every-where in Europe over that of the country, is not altogether owing to corporations and corporation laws. It is supported by many other regulations. The high duties upon foreign manufactures and upon all goods imported by alien merchants, all tend to the same purpose. Corporation laws enable the inhabitants of towns to raise their prices, without fearing to be under-sold by the free competition of their own countrymen. Those other regulations secure them equally against that of foreigners. (p. 127)

Competitive markets restrain monopoly because the above-average profits associated with the exercise of monopoly power attract new producers who increase output and thereby lower prices:

When by an increase in the effectual demand, the market price of some particular commodity happens to rise a good deal above the natural price, those who employ their stocks in supplying that market are generally careful to conceal this change. If it was commonly known, their great profit would tempt so many new rivals to employ their stocks in the same way, that, the effectual demand being fully supplied, the market price would soon be reduced to the natural price.... Secrets of this kind, however, it must be acknowledged, can seldom be long kept; and the extraordinary profit can last very little longer than they are kept. (p. 60)

The next section is very IMPORTANT.
Monopolists can preserve their favorable position only if the government prevents potential competitors from entering the monopolized activity:



The exclusive privileges of corporations, statutes of apprenticeship, and all those laws which restrain, in particular employments, the competition to a smaller number than might otherwise go into them, have the same tendency...They...may frequently, for ages together, and in whole classes of employments, keep up the market price of particular commodities above the natural price, and maintain both the wages of the labour and the profits of the stock employed about them somewhat above their natural rate.

Such enhancements of the market price may last as long as the regulations of police which give occasion to them.
(pp. 61-2)

In fact, the term "intellectual property" is a misnomer, a more correct term would be intellectual monopoly. Patents, Copyrights and even Trademarks are a government granted monopoly, they do not occur naturally. That does not mean that they are a bad thing per-say, but their use should be dictated by the benefit to socitety in general, with approprate limits so their use cannot be abused.
These statutes give the power that the ol' Mercantile laws gave to those monopolies. There is no true effective choice in the market. Compainies like Microsoft are sustaining it's dominate position in the markerplace by using a state-constructed and granted monopoly, which gives Microsoft the monopoly over it's protocols [microsoft.com] , effectively just as restrictive as the East India Trading Company trading zone monopoly of the Orient.

Free markets make the formation of monopoly difficult because monopoly requires the adherence of all actual and potential sellers in a market. Self-interest makes achievement of such adherence difficult because each seller has an incentive to undercut the monopoly price in order to increase his share of the market. Monopoly power is increased or made possible if enforced by the government. In the following passage Smith refers to the guilds, or corporations, of his day:



An incorporation...makes the act of the majority binding upon the whole. In a free trade an effectual combination cannot be established but by the unanimous consent of every single trader, and it cannot last longer than every single trader continues of the same mind. The majority of a corporation can enact a bye-law with proper penalties, which will limit the competition more effectually and more durably than any voluntary combination whatever.
(p. 129)


Smith?s ideas appear in current public debate over monopoly. Advocates of deregulating the transportation and communications industries by eliminating or reducing the power of Federal regulatory agencies argue that these agencies promote monopoly by limiting the entry of new firms and by fixing prices for all producers. Government regulations enforced upon all firms in an industry have the effect of allowing producers to eliminate competition and to raise prices. At the same time, lack of competition reduces incentives for efficient production.

If there were no copyright ... (5, Interesting)

mst76 (629405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428714)

I estimate that the iTunes music store holds around 500.000 songs, which requires about 2TB storage. At the moment, it costs only around $1300 in harddisks for consumers to store the entire iTunes collection. It is likely that in a few years, it will only costs about, say $300 bucks. Another few years and it will be affordable (in terms of storage) for consumers to have the entire library of songs ever published in their pocket. Does having copyright on music still make sense then?

The primary motivation for copyright is to stimulate more output by giving creators limited-time protection of their work. But do we really need stimulation for more musical output if you can a million songs with you at anytime? If copyright were to be abolished, the amount of new works will undoubtly fall, but it's unlikely to dissappear altogether. The benefits is that everybody can, for little costs, enjoy about the complete published musical output of the past with them. Is this a good tradeoff?

Re:If there were no copyright ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428803)

Thats great we can listen to the same music from the past over and over again. I am getting tired of Ace of Base I want something new.

Re:If there were no copyright ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428871)

> Thats great we can listen to the same music from the past over and over again. I am getting tired of Ace of Base I want something new.

Assuming 3 min per track, if you have 500.000 songs, you can listen for 8 hours per day for more than eight years without ever repeating a song.

Re:If there were no copyright ... (4, Interesting)

dthree (458263) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428845)

I'm sure not the first to say this, but that would lead to a situation I'm fully in favor of: musicians making a living by PLAYING live music for people.

Re:If there were no copyright ... (3, Insightful)

jockm (233372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428929)

But not all forms of music are cundusive to live performance. Dance music, for example, is really intended to be played in clubs, so pay-by-live-performance may not work for them.

Re:If there were no copyright ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428987)

> But not all forms of music are cundusive to live performance. Dance music, for example, is really intended to be played in clubs, so pay-by-live-performance may not work for them.

As I understand it, DJs are the superstars of dance music, and are payed accordingly.

A scene on campus... (4, Funny)

Spoing (152917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428717)

  1. The professors say, "The ideas of copy-left, or of a more liberal regime of copyright, are receiving wider and wider support, It's no longer a wacky idea cloistered in the ivory tower; it's become a more mainstream idea that we need a different kind of copyright regime to support the wide range of activities in cyberspace."

Man-on-the-street: "But, aren't you a member of that group of ivory tower theorists?"

Profs: [runs off] "AAHAHAHA! Man the battlements! Back, I say to thee, BACK!"

So you want MORE coercion through force... (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428738)

Copyrights and Intellectual Property are protected through the use of force by the only monopoly legally allowed to use force: our government.

Copyright makes sense in some ways, but if you look at copyright historically, much of the greatest art and music was produced with no protection for the author. Great literary works and poetry also had no protection under copyright until recently.

In the past 300 years, we decided in order to protect the "rights" of a creator, we need government to step in and threaten anyone who wanted to steal such creations and use them without compensating the artist. Fine.

Our Constitution gave very limited protection (7 years, extendable for another 7 years maximum). To many free thinkers, copyright was a great concern, as it now gave government a new power it didn't have before. As many of the free marketeers here know, every new government power is a slippery slope towards ultimate government power.

Copyright has been made into a monopolizing power for corporations, and now capitalism and the free market is blamed! Capitalism would never allow copyright -- if you create something, don't release it until you have the best way to market or distribute it. Should I have a better tactic, I should be able to move it too. Creating a product or art is only part of the profitability -- marketing, distribution, and other parts of selling the item are just as important.

Copyleft is no better. In the end, you still need some entity to enforce it. If its a free market entity, people will have no reason to support your copyleft as they aren't forced to. If you allow government the ability to enforce it, they will only use coecion through force to protect it, and that again creates a monopoly.

When it boils down to software, there might not be any reason to copyright or copyleft or protect the software through the monopoly of force. There are free market protections in place already!

If you were the author of Windows, and someone wanted to promote the product without your consent, you could submit to the buying public that they should buy your product as they'd get your support. They'd get your updates (as you have the source code) quicker than through your competitor. They'd get the support of knowing they can submit new ideas to you that might get into the code (your competitor wouldn't have that ability, no source code). Your customers would also have the knowledge that they'd be supporting you to continue to make better products.

Where does copyright fit into this? Is copyright preventing rampant piracy? Not a chance. If you want to protect your software from getting copied, force your software to register itself online at every use. Fixed. No pirating.

If you want to protect your software from getting copied, how about hardware locks like in the past? Sure, some have been worked around, but in the end, the pirates would have to work extra hard to do so. If you price it properly, business would have no incentive to pirate.

Copyright and copyleft are both automations created that can only work through force. Only government has the legal mandate to initiate force. And once we allow that power, we have no power to restrain it should it get out of hand.

Science Friday (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428765)

I was recently listening to the NPR archive of a recent Science Friday. The guests were some folks from Xerox PARC who were there are the beginnings of it all. Some happened to be working for Microsoft now and their viewpoints were in line with that. One person (don't remember his name, unfortunately) did mention that Open Source ideals, though it was not called that then, was what allowed all those emerging companies that sprang from the Xerox research to blossom. It was the freedom that created this little industry of the Internet.

So I'd definitely agree that this travesty of laws that have sprung up at the behest of media companies is indeed harming the economy.

Re:Science Friday (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428844)

The guests were some folks from Xerox PARC who were there are the beginnings of it all.

Well, the Stanford Research Institute was where it really got going, but who's counting?

Yes (4, Insightful)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428770)


If you look back, the entire motivation for IP laws was to promote the greater creation of those works.

There doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that the current system of IP laws produces the greatest benefit for the least cost to society.

If not optimized, the laws just preserve some artificial revenue stream protection scheme.

Having invented a patentable idea, I can say that the term of the patent had absolutely nothing to do with my creation of that idea. It might have something to do with how much money the patent is worth to a company that wanted to buy it, but it had nothing to do with the creation of the idea.

In a hypothetical world (0, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428773)

Imagine what would happen if all artists went on strike and stopped publishing music on recordable media, regardless of contracts with their labels.

The equivalent of saying "no more new music for you!"

It'd be funny if it happened, even as a marketing ploy.

Aside from sharing old songs, what would the filesharing masses do?

Unamerican! (5, Funny)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428777)


This is unamerican and illegal thought!!! Whether it be atoms or bits, everything needs to be owned and properly licensed for use! The idea that something can be free for all borders on communism and treason! Here in the U$A we must ensure that authors and inventors rule the use of their work with an iron fist! Write your senators and the FBI, these traitorous academics must be silenced and jailed, in order to preserve their freedom!

OT: Too many people get mod points! (-1, Offtopic)

caston (711568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428817)

Sorry I had to say something...
Everyone and their Dog is getting +5's. This is getting out of control and I can't figure out where to use mine...

Mod me appropiately.

Free, free, free (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428835)

95% of the justifications on Slashdot for looser copyright can be summarized as follows: "Information wants to be free, because I want free music/movies/games." And the veneer of pop-idealism underpinning this sentiment is so hollow and obvious.

The remaining 5% of posts concerned with open source software make a good point, however.

Cheap (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428920)

I don't know why the labels and studios cannot just realize the obvious:

1 - Sell each song on the internet for $1,
they will probably get more money than
trying to sell CDs with 12 songs for $15.
If for no other resason than because you
don't have to leave your house.

iTunes proves that a lot of people prefer
this to just swapping files.

2 - The same goes for movies -- if you could
"order" a high quality copy for $5,
you wouldn't have to go out to the
movie theater, but you will watch at least
4 times the number of movies.
When the networks get faster, to download a
high quality 4GB mpeg for $5 beats
downloading a crappy version for 0

CEOs and children under five... (3, Interesting)

hexatron (683320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428922)

CEOs and children under five prefer a whole cupcake to a piece of pie, regardless of the comparative amounts. But isn't it nice to know that corporations are not ruled solely by the desire to increase profits? It seems, at some level of affluence, the desire for more control exceeds the desire for mere gain. And some people claim idealism is dead!

My Take (4, Insightful)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#8428941)

My take on it is this.. We shouldn't make a blanket statement about all IP laws. They initially do what they're supposed to: Give the creator control over his property in order to recoup costs of creation. It's also good to let the creator make a profit as well. Pharmaceuticals have a high research and development cost, especially considering the time it takes for FDA approval in the US. Entirely removing IP protections from the area would likely make the industry not want to invest their time.

I feel that tuning the amount of IP protection for different types of industries is helpful for business. Long-term or indefinite-term copyright just doesn't make sense, especially when the original creator is long gone, or the current owner isn't the original creator. Fifty years should really be the maximum, or should be the maximum if the property has been sold by the original owner (thinking of printed materials here). There are some other issues that need to be addressed with the sale of specific types of rights. One example that comes to mind is that of the works of Philip K. Dick. Hollywood basically gave him the "we'll call you later" line while buying movie rights at bargain-basement prices. Now that he is deceased, we've got three big-budget screen adaptations of his work that raked in the dough. There's also the issue of studios which review a script, reject it, then make a movie based on that script (without proper credit) years later. Occasionally a couple of studios will do this, producing similar movies at about the same time. Weakening IP laws in this situation will only hurt the "little guy" even more.

The area that definitely needs the most tuning is IP with regard to technology. There should be some type of orphan clause, if the creator goes bankrupt (or the author dies), and no one had previously made claim to the IP. I'm thinking primarily about software source code lost in limbo. In specialty sofware areas where there isn't a high profit margin this is a major concern when picking the right package: Will this company still be in business 10 years from now? And, of course, (everyone's favorite) tech patents on methods really need an overhaul. Seven years seems to be a bit to long. We really need a new way of reviewing patents. It's not that all of them are overly broad, but a problem that exists because changing a few key words makes something patentable. The "pausing live broadcast" patent should be tossed. The concept has existed and has been implemented since probably the late 1950s for the purposes of "instant replay" during sporting events. Throwing in the words "digital" and "disc", or the amount of time that can be "shifted" shouldn't have a bearing on the validity of the patent. Likewise, the concept of recording in the background shouldn't be patentable either, even if it uses the buzzword "buffer".

SlipHead.com Idea Exchange (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428943)

In light of the exceptional (and continued) success of the Open-Source Software model [gnu.org] as well as the proliferation of peer-to-peer networks, I would like to get Slashdot readers' opinions on how a similar fledgling model is being applied to ideas, inventions, and patents. Particularly, I am interested in how advances in 3D and circuit board printers could lead to the 'Napsterization' of commercial products.

We have all had our own version of the Jump to Conclusions [eccentrix.com] mat which never saw the light of day due to our own time and resource commitments. What if implementing that idea were as easy as contributing to an open source project. Ok, what if it were almost that easy?

My reasoning is this: I have noticed a recent rise in "open idea" sites such as Half Bakery [halfbakery.com] , SlipHead [sliphead.com] , and Should Exist [shouldexist.org] . These sites all have one common theme: put your idea out in a public discussion forum for others to enjoy, contemplate, and critique. My thoughts are that this methodology, coupled with the growing ease of desktop manufacturing [zcorp.com] , has a potential to revolutionize the way new concepts are created and developed. It also has potentially profound effects on procuring patents, business practices, and intellectual property in general. The question then is: How can these open ideologies and development processes excel within a predominately capitalistic society?

What are your thoughts?

Pffft! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8428977)

GPL == Slavery
Free Software Developers == Niggers
But don't you fret; if history has taught us anything, it's that Free Software will soon have a civil war, in which the side that is against Slavery will win (but just barely). In fact, we are already starting to see this with all these licensing issues and incompatibilites with the GPL. Soon, you Niggers will be writing pure American-Capitalistic closed source commercial software that will make your country proud of you. Until then, don't let your master whip you too hard.
Love always,
Jerry Falwell
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