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Lessig On IP Protection, Conflict

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the it's-all-mine dept.

The Courts 217

cdlu writes "According to NewsForge [part of OSDN, like Slashdot], Stanford University law professor, author, and Creative Commons chairman Lawrence Lessig sharpened the definition of the ongoing legal struggle over intellectual property while talking at the Open Source Business Conference on Tuesday. According to Lessig: 'Contrary to what many people see as a cultural war between conservative business types and liberal independents, this is not a 'commerce versus anything' conflict. It's about powerful (business) interests and if they can stop new innovators'."

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A threat to "developed nations" (5, Interesting)

bizcoach (640439) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594517)

According to Lessig,
Growth in creative industries such as radio, television, movies, publishing, music -- and, yes, software -- is threatened when "a few powerful interests control how culture develops."

Hence, if we in the so-called "developed nations" don't fix our legal systems, third-world countries, where "intellectual property law" cannot be enforced for lack of a functional legal system, will become the leaders in creative industries, including IT, right?

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594558)

muxa stuk sell

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594955)

I am writing out of a sense of outrage and frustration at a great injustice that, I believe, threatens the very foundations of these United States of America.

The injustice is the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Its unintended consequence is the creation of a vast organization that monopolizes the distribution of cocaine. I have been made aware of the Seattle crack "Family" which was able to use its monopoly and the immense resources in manpower and money available to it to illegally surveil me, trespass against my property, physically intimidate and threaten me, try to restrict my freedom of speech, try to poison me, and generally harass me in many other ways. The decisions of the "Family" are not subject to oversight by any publically-elected body. They are able to get away with illegal activity, using their money and their monopoly on crack distribution to keep law enforcement officials at bay.

I invite you to come to Seattle and see for yourself the open dealing on the streets in Belltown, at the bus stop on 3rd and Pine, both inside and outside Deano's on 23rd and Madison, in the Jinsonia apartments at 8th and Seneca (recently the site of two fires). Check out the ownership of radio station KUBE 93.3 FM. Investigate a rumor I heard that Governor Gary Locke is involved. Consider Officer Slaughter of the East Precinct, who was recently convicted of taking drugs from dealers and giving it to his friends, letting them use drugs in his patrol car. Is it so hard to imagine other policemen taking bribes?

My motivation in writing this is outrage and disbelief at the impunity with which the crack "Family" violated my constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, privacy, freedom of speech, freedom from discrimination, freedom from harassment, etc. First, they hooked me on crack; then, they decide to shut me down, cut off my medicine. They have made me angry, and all I can do is try to expose as much of the crack game as I can, in the hope that if it becomes visible enough people will realize how the illegality of crack is causing far more problems for our society than the drug itself, were it legal.

Repeal the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Take back our country from hardened criminals whose power derives from crack prohibition.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594568)

Right.

Some of us have been trying to open people's eyes to that for decades.

China and Brazil have already had their eyes opened on this score. They are both large, resource rich countries.

They might even have an ax or two to grind.

KFG

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (3, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594582)

And, strangely enough, China turns out a lot of culture. How many of Holywood's best directors and actors over the past fifteen years have been from China or been influenced by the Chinese? A hell of a lot.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594619)

If you exclude Taiwan and Hong Kong, not many.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (2, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594692)

What part of 'Chinese' don't you understand?

Even if you were to limit it to just the People's Republic of China, then you'd still have to include Hong Kong. (The brits did give it back, after all.) And even then you'd get some saying that Taiwan is technically PRC territory anyway.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (3, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594761)

. . .Taiwan is technically PRC territory anyway.

Or vice versa. The only sticking point at all is that both involved parties recognize the other as part of China, and themselves as the only legitimate Chinese government.

KFG

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (4, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594696)

Why would I exclude Taiwan and Hong Kong? Hong Kong's had even less "IP" law enforcement than China. Ditto for Taiwan. And Hong Kong's had the benefit of a non-tyrannical government for much of the time and, even now, China's adopting a largely "hands off" policy. That just makes my point stronger, not weaker.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (3, Insightful)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594714)

How many of Holywood's best directors and actors over the past fifteen years have been from China
A tiny handful.
or been influenced by the Chinese?
Probably quite a lot, but then the best filmmakers allow themselves to be influenced by other great filmmakers, no matter where they come from. I don't think that whatever point you're trying to make holds any water.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594745)

No, of course you don't. I doubt you're even aware of any Chinese movies outside of kung fu flicks. Another stupid, ignorant American. I'll be glad when your morally bankrupt country's finally publically recognized for the third-world hellhole it is.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595091)

I enjoy being a stupid, ignorant american.

It pisses off stupid trolls such as yourself.

I think Im going to the store in my SUV (its only 2 buildings down), then off to McDonalds and Walmart (I imagine most of your nationality works there)

Man, I think I'm gonna have some more cheeseburgers.. Ahh thats good stuff. Where's my remote..

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (3, Insightful)

GAVollink (720403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594901)

The point is exactly right from the way I see it. When corporations try to change laws to keep new innovators out of there market, then everyone suffers. This is not a new idea either. It happened to Henry Ford back in 1906 when the other established car-makers tried to squash him.

The good news, Ford made it. The bad news, is it took a huge toll on him before he was able to sell his "horribly unsafe" car (usafe is the reasoning back then to quash his ability to sell cars.)

Already though Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brazil and yes... mainland China are starting to innovate by improving the technologies that they are "illegally" copying. Selling exact copies of a product to pay for the R&D dollars so that they can make their own improved product that they can uniquely call their own, and sell in the US.

What these companies do is extreme, and it's real innovation that's being squashed here - not the inflated innovation done by reverse engineering. Yet legal or not, these other countries will innovate on thier own.

What I'm saying here is ... just like movies the US is defininately way in the lead, but the rest of the world is catching up... slowly. There's no reason to allow large companies to save their short term profits by quashing US innovations forcing the the rest of the world to be catching up faster.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595210)

Selling exact copies of a product...

Didn't the Americans do something similar early in their history? Maybe the Chinese might show us how dumb IP is, or, when they acquire a bunch of homegrown IP, they'll enforce it stronger than the likes of anything we've ever seen.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (4, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594569)

...if we in the so-called "developed nations" don't fix our legal systems, third-world countries, where "intellectual property law" cannot be enforced for lack of a functional legal system, will become the leaders in creative industries, including IT, right?
Spot on. Further, we are outsourcing lots of jobs to these countries already (India, for example). Makes a helluva one-two punch doesn't it?

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (1)

GAVollink (720403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594924)

And on the technology and hardware side, we send the specs overseas to licensed manufacturing "partners", and they send the specs to their in-laws at the factory down the street, and the product gets copied for zero R&D and is sold for half the cost.

Sadly that's how it is.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (1)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595100)

For half the cost, and with none of the profit going to the original creator -- thus, future R&D is halted ... unless you expect the pirates to do R&D in the future. That may be how it is, but that isn't how it has to be.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (2, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594931)

PREcisely.
China
India
Pakistan
Brazil

When these guys get a decent legal system to enforce IP laws, they'll start getting stuff like workplace safety regulations, environmental regulations, etc. Then the megacorps will dump them like so many high-priced American white-collar workers.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594576)

It worked for America. We ripped stuff off from the continent in the old days... even now, typefaces aren't protected in the US (as opposed to Europe and the UK.) Look at India - they built up manufacturing and research expertise churning out generic versions of patented drugs. Taiwan and China started out making cheap knockoff copies of goods... now they're making the bulk of the world's laptops and cheap industrial equipment.

Intellectual property is an artificial concept, especially now that digital media allows us to make unlimited copies. A book reader is a physical device that takes time and money to manufacture on a per-unit basis. An e-book is an intangible bundle of electrons that can easily be pulled from Project Gutenberg, if no modern publisher is willing to release books in that format.

Of course, what actually happens is that there's demand for some modern book as eBooks, and if nobody provides it, then some fan will make one, and blam - free copies all over the place, and the publisher gets nothing more than a big headache.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594625)

Intellectual property is an artificial concept, especially now that digital media allows us to make unlimited copies.

It's always been an artificial concept. That doesn't make it necessarily a bad one.

free copies all over the place, and the publisher gets nothing more than a big headache

And the author also gets nothing but a big headache. What a great way to stimulate people into writing....

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594708)

And the author also gets nothing but a big headache. What a great way to stimulate people into writing....


And all because a publisher refused to supply a market with a product (just like the music industry refused to take advantage of Napster and MP3s...)

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (2, Insightful)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594723)

Is there a reason you substituted author for publisher? You do realize that it's the author who actually writes the books. Most authors want people to read their books first, profit hugely from them second. It's the publishers that are screwed when they make 10,000 books and no one buys them because of free copying online, not the author. It's the publishers who front the investment, and it's the publishers who are bitching so much about IP laws being violated because it ruins their monopoly.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595129)

You do realize that it's the author who actually writes the books. Most authors want people to read their books first, profit hugely from them second.

Most authors want their readers to value the work they're reading. It's a sad but true fact that people don't value what they get for free.

As an author I want as many people as possible to read my work. But I'd like to get something in return. Not to "profit hugely" but maybe a buck so I can buy a cup of coffee for having given someone a few hours worth of entertainment - which I don't think is unreasonable.

Without any kind of IP system (and I'm not saying the existing one works very well) then creative endeavours are relegated to being hobbies, and the quantity and quality of the output will be significantly reduced.

It's the publishers that are screwed when they make 10,000 books and no one buys them because of free copying online, not the author

It's the author who's screwed having spent a year of his/her life writing a well crafted piece of fiction only to find there are copies available for free over [insert p2p of choice here] without any recognition going to the author for writing the piece in the first place.

Principle vs. practice (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594833)

[Copyrights, trademarks, patents, and publicity rights have] always been an artificial concept. That doesn't make it necessarily a bad one.

I agree with the principle behind copyright, that giving an author an economic incentive to create can promote Progress, but I disagree with its implementation in the U.S. Code as of today, such as the effectively perpetual term of monopoly, the breadth of the monopoly on musical works given that there exist a provably finite number of melodies [slashdot.org] , and the breadth of the monopoly on derivative works that in the end prevents authors lacking deep pockets for a "fair use" legal defense from creating some satiric works.

I agree with the principle behind patents, that giving an inventor an economic incentive to invent can promote Progress, but I disagree with the poor job that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has done with respect to examining patents for obviousness given prior art.

Digital didn't change anything. (3, Insightful)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594638)

The digital revolution doesn't change the philosophy behind "intellectual property". Information can be independently discovered--thus it exists outside of time. That was true during the printing press and its true with the internet. And "intellectual property" law was wrong then and it's wrong now.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (2, Interesting)

nathanh (1214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595031)

Intellectual property is an artificial concept, especially now that digital media allows us to make unlimited copies.

Physical property is an artificial concept too, if you care to think about it.

I think what you want to say is that IP scarcity is an artificial concept.

This has happened before (5, Interesting)

ewn (538392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594639)

According to this wiki [wikipedia.org] Hollywood was built this way:

"Thus, filmmakers working in California could work independent of Edison's control, and if Edison ever sent agents to California, word would usually reach Los Angeles before the agents did, and the filmmakers could escape to nearby Mexico."

Lessig the Grey vs. Creative Commons (4, Interesting)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594664)

From something I sent [interesting-people.org] to Dave Farber's IP:

Given the recent Grey Tuesday brouhaha that followed the release of DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, it's worth pausing for a moment to take a look at the Creative Commons:

"We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them -- to declare 'some rights reserved.'"

Among the rights an artist may choose to reserve when configuring their Creative Commons license is "No Derivative Works," explained in cartoon here:

http://creativecommons.org/images/comics/10.gif [creativecommons.org]

Indeed, the Creative Commons' leading example musician is Roger McGuinn who: "chose the Creative Commons license that maximizes a combination of free distribution with artistic control and integrity." -- note that Roger McGuinn chose "No Derivative Works."

However, the Grey Tuesday movement seeks to take that right away. Notably, Larry Lessig (Creative Commons Chairman of the Board) commented in his blog:

http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001754.shtml [lessig.org]

"Should the law give DJ Danger Mouse the right to remix without permission? I think so, though I understand how others find the matter a bit more grey."

"Should the law give DJ Danger Mouse a compulsory right to remix? That is, the right, conditioned upon his paying a small fee per sale? Again, I think so, and again, you might find this a bit less grey."

So, what exactly does Creative Commons mean by "some rights reserved" -- would it perhaps be more accurate if they said: "some rights reserved until we can cook up a new compulsory license to take those rights away"?

Re:Lessig the Grey vs. Creative Commons (4, Informative)

MunchMunch (670504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595134)

It is indeed possible to create a Creative Commons license that bars someone from creating derivative works. However, this isn't entirely a contradiction. It may be a compromise meant to allow the maximum public benefit to be created under current copyright conditions (which limit derivative works). The idea that Lessig is amenable to compromise despite having stronger believes which he expresses in his blog doesn't prove that he's being hypocritical.

The fact is, if you look at this [creativecommons.org] , you see that the license includes a notice that fair use is still protected, and that the CC license with "no derivative" clause does so in order to facilitate copying and sharing. It is still closer to Lessig's position than current copyright law.

I do believe and agree that in this area, compromise like what Lessig may be endorsing with the CC license (and like copyright law itself has been doing for the last hundred years) might create confusion about what the 'principles' of copyright law are. This surely will make some of us uncomfortable -- especially those of us who believe that copyright is supposed to make some sort of moral/logical sense, and not merely be a pragmatic engine for creativity.

However, as we've already seen, copyright does not operate under any principles except to enable more creativity than it disables. Copyright is not a moral law. It does not have unimpeachable logic that directs its content. Thus, Lessig need not either be totally black or white, and does not contradict himself by agreeing to less than he wishes for in his blog--since copyright allows [sorry, I can't help it] "gray" principles.

Re:Lessig the Grey vs. Creative Commons (1)

Gonarat (177568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595203)

"Should the law give DJ Danger Mouse the right to remix without permission? I think so, though I understand how others find the matter a bit more grey."

"Should the law give DJ Danger Mouse a compulsory right to remix? That is, the right, conditioned upon his paying a small fee per sale? Again, I think so, and again, you might find this a bit less grey."


Personally, I think DJ Danger Mouse should have the right to remix without permission and distribute it as long as no profit is made. Now, If DJ Danger Mouse wants to make money with/off of the work, then permission needs to be given and royalities paid to The Beatles and Jay Z. Of course, if we still had the original 14 year (or even 28 year) maximum copyrights, then the Beatles would be public domain.

I think non-profit remixes (in the case of music) or fan fiction (in the case of Books, Movies, and TV) should always be legal and permitted. Once something is released, it becomes part of our common experience, and perhaps our culture.

Just my 2 cents.



Re:A threat to "developed nations" (4, Insightful)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594695)

HE's right on with this. Developed nations will be disintermediated and would not even notice. Previously you simply went to a new jurisdiction, like when the film industry came to California to avoid scrutiny by Edison's people and patents. Our current laws are really on a crash course with innovation. Innovators will simply route avoid them to countries where their IP laws allow them to innovate.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594987)

Innovators will simply route avoid them to countries where their IP laws allow them to innovate.

What such countries? Previously, innovators could move to other countries. But now, because the United Nations now recognizes a sovereign jurisdiction over all land masses on the planet, it's nearly impossible to get away from copyright and patent "harmonization" that the United States seems to require as a condition of sla^H^H^H"free" trade treaties.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (1)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595178)

And of course by "innovators" he means thieves/pirates/whatever. Come on, no one is innovating by making copies of another's work, even if what you consider innovation is making it available in another medium (p2p networks). True innovation occurs in countries where the creator's rights to his work are protected, not in countries where his work belongs to "society" the minute it is made.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594762)

I just get this ugly feeling that we in the US (and perhaps the West in general) are getting ready to diminish ourselves the way the Islamic empire diminished itself around the time of the Rennaissance. I know there's much more to it than IP laws, and that the Islamic empire was busy coping with barbarians, etc.

But there are some parallels: A civilization that grew to prosperity based on free thought, progress, and advancement of knowledge. Conservative elements that grew to dominance and stifled the very free thought that made them great. As for coping with barbarians, perhaps there is a modern parallel for that too, in terrorism.

Re:A threat to "developed nations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595068)

Growth in creative industries such as radio, television, movies, publishing, music -- and, yes, software -- is threatened when "a few powerful interests control how culture develops."

Obviously television belongs in that list, but there's another fundamental source of cultural homogenization in America: the public education system. We need more school choice.

LESSIG HAPPENS TO WEAR FRILLY PANTIES, THAT FAG. (-1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594518)

Lessig (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594520)

Stanford University law professor, author, and Creative Commons chairman Lawrence Lessig sharpened the definition of the ongoing legal struggle over intellectual property while talking at the Open Source Business Conference on Tuesday. According to Lessig: "Contrary to what many people see as a cultural war between conservative business types and liberal independents, this is not a 'commerce versus anything' conflict. It's about powerful (business) interests and if they can stop new innovators". Does it sound cool, you might ask?...do you wonder how long before someone cries about civil liberties? --- Does this seem like an idea that would suck? Is it good, or is it whack?

PRESS RELEASE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594527)

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Short term vision, short term interest (5, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594535)

long term implications. What is going on with the corporations will, in the long run, turn america into a third-world nation -- while the economic infrastructure will follow the IT industry to somewhere more freindly to innovation.

Can you say 'brain drain'?

Re:Short term vision, short term interest (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594659)

long term implications. What is going on with the corporations will, in the long run, turn america into a third-world nation -- while the economic infrastructure will follow the IT industry to somewhere more freindly to innovation.

<devilsadvocate>Just like it turned Britian into a third world nation?</devilsadvocate>

Re:Short term vision, short term interest (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594667)

Unfortunately the long term may not be so long. Over the past 10 years or so my U.S. city has increasingly resembled my third world city. The well off people are getting more well off, and increasingly afraid of the less well off people. Where up to the 80's the very rich, the middle class, and lower class lived relitively peacefully within walking distance of each other, we now have a situation where the very rich continue to live in thier castles, but the middle class have built gated bunkers on the rubble of lower class housing. These middle class persons emerge in thier assult vehicles to venture to work or the new trendy club. They complain about the ice houses, one of the few relics of the old neighborhood.

In first world countries we feel safe and classes live together with minimal bloodshed. In third world countries the rich are safe, the poor do what they can to eat, and the middle class, under attack from both directions, bunker down with whatever stuff they can acquire.

Illusion (3, Interesting)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594836)

Unfortunately, America will never LOOK like a third-world nation. Rich Americans are still making all the money, so America will still have a high GNP. It's just the other 99% of US citizens who ultimately suffer. And since most Americans are quite gullible, it'll never occur to them that their poverty is not of their own doing.

Re:Short term vision, short term interest (1)

Saeger (456549) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595061)

Long-term? Can you say 'self-sufficiency'?

In the long-term (< 30 years), there won't even be such a thing as a third-world nation because technology will have finally ushered in an economy of abundance. i.e. WalMart, Gilette, DeBeers, Agribiz, and host of other giant corps will be put out of business by cheap molecular manufacturing (a "3D printer" in every home/village), and not having a job won't mean starving, which is a good thing because very soon not everyone who WANTS a job will be able to have one since they're not necessary (so it will be the rabbles job to feel guilty as sin living a life of leisure, unless a Puritanical Global Police force has something to say about that :)

IMO, what's happening in America is only temporary, and things'll get worse before they get better.

--

Re:Short term vision, short term interest (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595135)

Yuo forgot to mention the flying cars and the sex-starved female cyborgs.

He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (1, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594540)

Creative people should mark all of their original content and allow it to be licensed according to their own will. To do this, they should register it with a qualified third party and allow it to be available for public review, so that the broad concepts of their creativity spur others on to additional creativity, he said. Every artist should share something in the public domain to some extent, Lessig said, while making sure that the work as a whole is protected as to its ownership.

Like licensing agreements and patents, Lawrence?

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (4, Informative)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594588)

Precisely, ObviousGuy. He's using license agreements registered with "a qualified third party" (creativecommons.org) so that the "broad concepts of [the artist's] creativity spur others on to additional creativity."

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (5, Insightful)

WryObservor (611242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594595)

Lessig's ideas are revolutionary. Before Stanford's Creative Commons project, nobody was seriously talking about bring the ability to create non-software media licenses to the masses. It was available only to those who could afford attorneys.

Revolutionary doesn't necessarily mean coming up with a different system -- it can be a revolutionary use of the existing system which is what Lessig has done.

In fact, he is even more of a genius for finding creative ways to use existing IP law to meet his ends (of course taking enormous inspiration from Stallman et co. in the software space).

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594604)

So the realistic principles of growth and maintenance are lost on the religion of the masses. It only enforces the paradigms shaped by millenia of western culture.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (4, Insightful)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594672)

I have never been under the impression that L.L. was against copyright or patents in principle (at least not as they were conceived of in the constitution), he was just against how they have been distorted and twisted into long-term monopolies that are used for no other reason than make money. When I saw him speak, he pointed out that copyright was set up to encourage writers (and at first it was ONLY writers) to continuously work and release stuff out into the creative commons, where in a limited period of time (conservatively, more list 7 years instead of the lifetime of the artist) it would be released out to open for everyone to use freely.

If copyright was instituted correctly and as the founding fathers intended it would encourage a continuous upgrade of ideas from everyone, including the original author. For instance, if a writer of a novel would have to keep on writing in one way or another. When corps cry about the importance of copyright, it's often forgotten that a fiction writer, for example, could just release a new edition of their work that might have a new introduction or new essays about the work or even slight revisions on the story and this would be a BRAND NEW copyright, giving them a new 7 years (or whatever) for the new work. A nonfiction writer could also add evidence or do other rewrites to their work and they would likewise get a BRAND NEW copyright, or a new author could then build on the previous ideas brought forward freely. As you can see, this "classic" copyright encourages continuous work while our version of copyright encourages you to sit back and collect the dough for the rest of your life.

So he's not really anti-copyright or anti-license. He's against using it in a way that goes against what its original intent. So in a you're right.. he's not revolutionary. He wants to go back to the original rules. I for one agree with him.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (4, Informative)

shark72 (702619) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594813)

"When I saw him speak, he pointed out that copyright was set up to encourage writers (and at first it was ONLY writers) to continuously work and release stuff out into the creative commons, where in a limited period of time (conservatively, more list 7 years instead of the lifetime of the artist) it would be released out to open for everyone to use freely."

To amplify the above, this happened in 1790, and books, maps and charts were the universe of items that could be copyrighted. The term was 14 years with the priveledge of renewing for another 14 years.

It wasn't until 1831 that musical works were added, to protect against unauthorized printing and selling of sheet music. The term was increased to 28 years at the same time.

Plays were added in 1856 and photos were added in 1865.

The complete history is here [copyright.gov] .

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (1)

MrNovember (310587) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595136)

Don't forget that, according to this online info [tesarta.com] the average human lifespan in 1790 was about 37 years. So a 14 year copyright with a right to renew for 14 years is 75% of the life span of a typical person at the time.

That means, to me at least, that a 58 year copyright is probably not unreasonable (in comparison) as thats 75% of the life span of a typical person today.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594966)

I, for one, wish he'd run for President.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (3, Informative)

howlatthemoon (718490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594791)

If you have ever bothered to read Lessig's work or hear him speak, you would know that he is all in favor of people making a living off their creative works. You should really read The Future of Ideas. He sees, as the founding fathers seemed to, that to have innovation, protection should be limited. It was never intended to protect authors, much less their heirs (or companies) for, what is in a cultural sense, forever. Let them get real jobs and do their own creating. That is how cultures advance. What the Creative Commons is doing is attempting to restore some semblance of the public domain as it was originally proscribed.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (1)

howlatthemoon (718490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594826)

Also, he is just trying to restore has slowly taken away by large corporations (like Disney, MPAA, RIAA - who do you think is buying off the politicians to take away fair use and the public domain?). No, it is not a revolution, but in these times, it sometimes seems like it.

Re:He sometimes doesn't sound so revolutionary (2, Informative)

qtp (461286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594938)

To erradicate all licensing agreements and patent law would remove all protections that a creator has over the work that he has created.

Lawrence Lessig is working to craft systems that increase the control that a creator has over his work, which today means working to reduce the opportunities that companies have to take that contropl away and giving creators the legal tools neccissary for them to colaborate and share without giving away all of their rights to their original work.

Eliminating licensing, copyright, and patents would benefit only those companies large enough to control large marketing and distribution systems and allow for companies and individuals to take your work out without contributing back in the way you have chosen.

The idea that those who are against centralized government or corporate control of creative works are against any form of copyright or patent law is disinformation that is spread by the companies that currently benefit most by the flawed systems that are now in effect. This "revolution" cannot be won by removing those laws, but only by working to change those laws to reflect the original intent of limited time exclusive rights being granted to creators, the right of creators to license their work however they see fit, and enforcement of those rights so that those who make use of creators works (including use by driving other works) are required to obey the licensing agreements.

In other words, he is working to make the law "more Free".

The SCO Business Model (0, Insightful)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594552)

Take SCO's (formerly known as Caldera) Business Model:

- If I can make money with Linux ==> Go big, make a "Linux IPO"

- If no one uses my puroducts ==> sue the company with products/services that are the biggest threats to my business

Information wants to be free! (-1, Redundant)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594596)

Contribute to the public domain all you can.

Re:Information wants to be free! (1)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594662)

But it's easier to tell others to give up their IP than contributing to public domain yourself.

The following is public domain. (2, Interesting)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594721)

Given that an idea, in all its forms, can be independently discovered, the idea itself is never created.

Re:The following is public domain. (1)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594797)

How about, why research when you can leech ideas off of others?

this is a difficult issue (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594602)

the problem is that people need to be able to protect their work and profit from it if they wish. with out this there is no real incentive for most people to do anything much. patents are a good thing when given out under very strict conditions, and should never be used to kill compeditors in an already developed market. eg. patenting gif files. licensing can also provide a steady and secure income for a company allowing further development of products which can benifit us all. the key is not so much that licensing and patents are bad, it's how they are misused. unfortunately this is a symptom of american corperate culture.

Re:this is a difficult issue (4, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594642)

with out this there is no real incentive for most people to do anything much.

Actually, history has shown this to be untrue. There has, historically, been more innovation in countries where the duration of "IP" protection, be it copyright or patent, is less than the average "apprentice to journeyman" cycle. This was the case in Germany and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they both lept ahead of Britain (which had much more stringent IP laws) technologically because of it. Likewise, much of our most innovative music has been given to us by people who didn't give a fuck about whether or not they got paid - they just wanted to make music.

Yes, there are practical issues... But any sane society should already handle taking care of those.

Re:this is a difficult issue (4, Insightful)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594742)

There is more incentive for people to do stuff if the amount of time they get a monopoly on their work is short. If there is only 7 years before something goes into public domain, a fiction writer has to either make a new edition of the book or write a new one. This encourages artists to create a lot more and put a lot more ideas out into the wild. Getting more and more ideas out into the open so they could evolve was the orginal intent of copyright in the U.S. It was not created so someone (usally a middleman) can horde ideas and make money off them almost ad infinitum... which is how it's being used today.

Re:this is a difficult issue (4, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595082)

Also true. But from a more technical point of view, a patent/copyright length shorter than the typical "apprentice to journeyman" cycle means that you can use cutting-edge stuff however you want when you're ready to do work on your own. In other words, software patents (heck, most patents these days) should last a decade, MAXIMUM. And six years is more than enough in most fields.

Copyrights are a little trickier, but seven years seems to be reasonable.

Re:this is a difficult issue (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595168)

Your spelling sucks ass. Why would anyone pay attention to what you have to say?

Slashbot paradise (-1, Troll)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594606)

Anyone who says "the internet has changed everything" should be shot.

Lessig lost all credibility when the bubble burst. The internet has changed nothing and theft is still theft.

--Shoeboy

Re:Slashbot paradise (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594648)

Stop trolling buddy, that was such a cheap shot.

I.P.? (1, Interesting)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594846)

"Intelectual Property" is such a crap term, which is why I always put it in quotes.

How can it be property if I still have it after I sell it to you?

How can it be theft if I still have it after you've taken it?

Maybe the language isn't there yet, but "property" and "theft" are not terms that make any sense in when it comes to copyright and patents. All the property talk does is confuse the and prejudice public opinion. The term "I.T." needs to be abandoned if there is ever to be any smart public debate about this.

Re:I.P.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595116)

Don't you get it? Intellectual Property is a misleading term. It sounds like a noble idea, but it simply states that mneumenal conceptualization (ideas) are owned. There is no physicality involved. It is the patenting of IDEAS, not products.

Also, copyright and patent are totally different. They have no commonalities.

Copyrights are created to allow an artist to be able to profit from a creative work. The copyright gives him/her the ability to regain lost profit when someone else physically copied it and distributed it without permission. To foster creative continuity, the copyrights were of limited term. Of course, these were written when the act of copying and publishing a creative work was work in itself, and not simply shuffling electrons.

Patents are for physical inventions. You design a widget, you patent it, so that someone else will not take your design, copy it and sell it. It does not give you the right to prevent someone else from reinventing or improving your widget. That is a seperately patented widget.

IP tries to take the two different legal entities and tie them into a prohibitive knot. It attempts to take an IDEA, even if not created yet, and make it a patentable commodity, as if it were physical. Beyond that, the nazgul who profit from these anti-competetive concepts attempt to make mimicry, enhancement or improvement licensable, which is clearly antithetical to the origins of both copyright and patent.

This is how copyright currently works (4, Informative)

stubear (130454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594620)

Creative people should mark all of their original content and allow it to be licensed according to their own will. To do this, they should register it with a qualified third party and allow it to be available for public review, so that the broad concepts of their creativity spur others on to additional creativity, he said. Every artist should share something in the public domain to some extent, Lessig said, while making sure that the work as a whole is protected as to its ownership.

Ummm, this is how Copyright currently works. I create my work (establish the expression of an idea in a fixed medium; original content), send a copy along with $20 to the Library of Congress (the qualified third party), then I show others the work in a gallery, on the radio, in a theatre, or wherever (shared to the public) and the public can come and view, listen to, or whatever as long as they don't infringe upon my five basic rights to distribution, derivatives, public performance, public display, and copying (work protected as a whole as to its ownership).

No it isn't... (4, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594680)

.. and hasn't been since the Berne Convention.

send a copy along with $20 to the Library of Congress (the qualified third party)

There is no need to send your copy to the Library of Congress to receive copyright protection. You only need to send your copy if you want to sue someone for infringement, and you want to collect monetary damages. Oh, and you don't need to send the whole thing, just part of it will be fine.

Welcome to 2004 - where have you been for the last 20 years?

Re:No it isn't... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594776)

I only put this in there to show the correlation to the authorized third party Lessig mentions. I realize that copyrigt is granted automatically at the time of creation but to gain further legal protection you must send a copy to the Library of COngress.

Re:No it isn't... (1)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595111)

Except, and this is really interesting, you might not be able to waive your rights to your own work. The GPL and BSDL are probably still leagal... But, according to Lessig, its somewhat unclear about whether an author can intentionally put a work into the public domain, or even use an "effectively public domain" license. As copying the work might still be a Federal offense in the USA.

Re:This is how copyright currently works (1)

djradon (105400) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594856)

Lessig's twin contributions:

- $20 not needed
- You can give people the right to distribute, derive, perform, display and/or copy your work if you want, on your own terms.

Lessig is saying that all creators should allow some of their work to be d,d,p,d and/or c'ed for free, to encourage the creative community.

Re:This is how copyright currently works (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595028)

"$20 not needed"

As has already been mentioned, the $20 fee is not necessary but it does grant you specific rights should legal issues arise. I could just as easily send a copy of the copyrighted works in a sealed envelope to myself and never open it until needed. While this won't give you the full rights registering with the Library ocCongress would, it does establish a date of creation that courts will recognize.

"You can give people the right to distribute, derive, perform, display and/or copy your work if you want, on your own terms."

You can do this now. If you want to recreate a painting of mine in poster form I can give you the rights to do so.

"Lessig is saying that all creators should allow some of their work to be d,d,p,d and/or c'ed for free, to encourage the creative community."

He can say this all he wants but it's still up to the individual creators to follow through. He offers nothing new to copyright that makes this any more or less possible.

Is it our right to restrict the use of our ideas? (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594628)

I can understand the argument for compensating the creator of an original work be it an invention or an artistic work, since otherwise there would be little incentive to innovate.

I do not understand why individuals and companies consider it a right to be able to control the use of their invention or demand extravagant or prohibitive compensation for its use. An idea or work of art, once formulated should be equally available to everyone to build upon. Determining what is or isn't prohibitive is trickier though I think we'd be able to do better than the current broken system.

Re:Is it our right to restrict the use of our idea (1)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594747)

If that's the case, you'll never be able to recoup your R&D costs because your competitors will be able to underprice you.

For example, you have an idea for invention. You borrow $100,000 for R&D to invent a widget. You sell them at $10 each to cover your expenses (which includes loan repayment). Your competitor copies your idea and produces widgets and since he/she does not have a loan to repay, your competitor sells the same widget for $5. You'll end up going bankrupt due to the poor sales.

Re:Is it our right to restrict the use of our idea (2, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594763)

"I do not understand why individuals and companies consider it a right to be able to control the use of their invention or demand extravagant or prohibitive compensation for its use."

This is the free market economy at work. If I create a work and charge too much for it, it won't sell. If I charge too little, I don't make enough to stay in business.

I ocasionally with a well-respected analyst firm that publishes an annual seven-year forecast report for a particular industry. This report is eight pages, and costs $4,500.00. Yet it is considered by many to be a fair price. I know that many people reading this will simply not comprehend why on earth an eight page report would be sold for $4,500.00, but trust me on this one.

If that analyst firm can write something that people want to buy for $562 per page, then they deserve that money. It is their right and prerogative to charge what the market will bear.

"An idea or work of art, once formulated should be equally available to everyone to build upon."

If tomorrow we enacted a price control law that said that a publisher could not charge more than $X per page, then there's a good chance that the analyst firm would simply no longer publish that particular report. This would be a loss for everybody.

"Determining what is or isn't prohibitive is trickier though I think we'd be able to do better than the current broken system."

I disagree here. The free market works incredibly well in this case. If nobody buys their report this year for $4,500.00, then they'll lower the price next year. And so on. By allowing the analyst firm to charge whatever they like for this forecast report, they are ultimately in control of their business. Putting price controls on copyrighted works is not the answer.

Re:Is it our right to restrict the use of our idea (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594807)

I'm not discounting your point that having incentive helps motivate people to innovate.

But the truth is, most of the good stuff out there was not created by people looking for an incentive - it was created by people who _loved_ doing what they did, and hacked it to their advantage.

All of the world's greatest works, and greatest genuises never worked for money or incentive - that helped, sure, but it was not the goal. The purpose was to innovate for the love of the subject, for the very sake of innovation itself.

Look at Nikolas Tesla, or any of the really great inventors. Or physicsts and mathematicians. Or even musicians. The real good ones do not really care about the money - they do it because they love playing music - its their life, and its in their blood. Sure, a little incentive helps them move on, but with or without it they will do what they do simply because it gives them happiness.

Now, thats whats wrong with today's culture. People are not willing to do anything without compensation. We expect something in return. Look at the trash quality of music today - its only because the morons who are making it are interested only in making money and fame, and not music in itself. Why do so many patents exist? People are not willing to innovate because they love what they do, they are willing to innovate if they can profit and get something in return.

I feel that this is a very bad trend, and a very bad notion. If you notice where true innovation comes from, even today it is only from people who do not care about what they get in return - take Linus Torvalds for example. What he did was simply for the love of what he did best - nothing more.

Unless this attitude changes, and people accept that knowledge belongs to humanity - you may profit from it, but thats not the reason you should be doing it - we are fucked.

Re:Is it our right to restrict the use of our idea (4, Insightful)

Kwil (53679) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594944)

Yes.. but you miss one key point.

Man does not live by gratification alone. If we don't ensure that the innovators, inventors, and creators get some monetary benefit out of the work they create, then they're simply going to wind up spending a lot of their time doing other crap so that they can put food on the table.

That's simply a waste of their talents. I'd rather be encouraging some crap inventors simply so that the truly talented ones could be spending the majority of their time doing what they're best at.

As Bill G himself put it. . . (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594684)

during the antitrust trial:

"Microsoft is just one good idea away from oblivion."

I may not have the quote exactly right, but the idea expressed is correct.

Therefore, to protect one's future, if one is a power player, one must protect innovation from outside the company. Excessive innovation from inside the company is, more often than not, antithetical to profits.

As an example from outside IT, a Trinity factory oval racer who used to practice at my track once told me the story of his first race for the team. He not only won, but he broke the track race record by two seconds.

When he got off the driver's stand, glowing with pride and accomplishment, the team manager stormed up to him and said, "Don't ever let me see you do anything like that again, or your fired. We came here with seconds in hand. You only needed to win by one second, not half a lap. Now every other team knows how fast we are, and they're all going to go home and figure out how to go just as fast before they come out to a major meet again. You just threw away a full season's advantage by showing off. And a full season's sales advantage that goes with it."

There is no advantage to an established company in offering too much "advancment" to the public. Especially if they can get the public to buy chrome as advancment.

Anybody from outside who offers advancement when the public is willing to buy chrome simply needs to be stopped.

A large and powerful corporation, again using Microsoft as the obvious example, by necessity becomes conservative. They have little to gain. They can live off of the the return of their outside investments, effectively, for eternity. They can only lose.

They don't like losing.

If they can create a conservative general atmosphere in society and at law that favors them, well, they don't have to because they can't have any real competition.

Other powerful corporations aren't real competition in innovation because they're all playing by the same rule sheet. Only try to win by one second, so you can sell the other seconds you've already got later, when people get tired of this year's chrome.

KFG

Even worse.. (1)

Kwil (53679) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594921)

..what's really scary about this is that it applies just as much to pharmaceutical companies.

Think about that next time some politician is talking about having to protect the industry.

Re:As Bill G himself put it. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595147)

Are you implying that:
  • Intel is holding back a 10GHz CPU?
  • AMD agreed not to race past Intel anymore?
  • Maxtor has a 1000GB drive ready for production?
  • Pharma companys have a cure for cancer but are holding back?
  • Biotech companys are killing the leading scientists for being wildcards?
Bullpucky. competition keeps things very even.

Re:As Bill G himself put it. . . (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595171)

competition keeps things very even.

Exactly.

KFG

Bush / Blair parody (3, Funny)

spood (256582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594720)

The link to the Bush/Blair Endless Love parody [about.com] in that article is hilarious! See, sometimes it's good to actually read the article.

A big step in the right direction... (3, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594729)

...would be to prevent the transfer of ownership or licensing rights.

Want to keep it, fine. Sell copies at a profit, fine. License it out for commercial use, fine. Sell ownership to the big immortal mulitnational that owns everything else? Sorry, not permitted.

This doesn't kill the distribution and marketing industries, just puts them in the service of the artists, instead of the other way around. Bang, no more monopoly is possible, yet artists get rewarded.

There would no longer be a motive to remove things from circulation the way the big media companies do... that only comes from the fact that song a and song b are competing for market share, but media company x owns both, so they kill b to focus on a. If ownership fell only to the creators, they'd be more inclined to give away the non-marketables as a way of promoting themselves.

I leave the excercise of how to deal with collaborative works for someone who isn't sleep deprived and fuzzy-eyes from too much coding :P

Re:A big step in the right direction... (0)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594812)

If the artist gets screwed because they sold their rights, then they have no one to blame but themselves. Besides those big media companies get shafted time to time. Remember Mariah Carry?

more on Lessig (1)

bgs4 (599215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594779)

Eldred v. Ashcroft was one of the more interesting stories I've followed on slashdot. Here is Lessig's take on losing the case, one year later.

How I Lost the Big One [slashdot.org]

Very interesting read.

crud (4, Informative)

bgs4 (599215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594853)

make that here [legalaffairs.org]

What it really comes down to... (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594805)

as it becomes easier and easier to invent and create, the intellectually property of such gets longer and longer term and more controlled.

Don't believe me?

I think SCO is a very good example, in many ways.... hell you don't even have to invent or create to anything to make your claim to fame and fortune....

What should be happening is that the term length should be getting shorter and control should be being removed....

How does an inventor or creator get a return?

Far better than they are now!!!

Just because you can invent or create, there is no proof that there is some magical power included or connected to such that says you will know best how to market or distribute it....

If such marketing and distribution is open to all to do, simply paying back to the inventor or creator, some reasonable percentage ..... then invention and creation will flourish, instead of marketing monopolies...playing constrained stradegy games over consumer choice.

*YOU* Can Change the Copyright Laws (4, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594825)

In Change the Law [goingware.com] , I point out that while the Constitution permits Congress to enact copyright laws, it doesn't actually require Congress to do so. Copyright is not a Constitutional right.

Congress could repeal the copyright laws tomorrow, if you could get enough votes to do so. That's more of a possibility than you might think, if you consider that more Americans use peer-to-peer networks than voted for George Bush.

My article suggests a number of steps you can take to bring about much needed copyright reform, ranging from speaking out [goingware.com] to practicing civil disobedience [goingware.com] .

I want every American peer-to-peer network user to read my article by the time of the elections. Presently it gets about 2000 readers a day, but needs to get read about a hundred times more frequently to achieve my goal. If you feel as I do that what I have to say is important, then you can help by linking to my article from your own website, weblog or from message boards.

You'll see from my sig that I've been asking readers to Googlebomb it with the phrase "free music downloads". This has been pretty successful so far, with my article now ranking #3 at Google for that query [google.com] . It's getting about 800 search engine referrals each day for "free music downloads".

My article has a Creative Commons license if you'd like to mirror it.

Election latency (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594950)

Congress could repeal the copyright laws tomorrow, if you could get enough votes to do so.

Actually, repealing huge chunks of Title 17, United States Code, would take two years and about 10 months, as that's how long it would take to cycle out a majority of representatives and senators in the Congress. Those who have held their offices since 1997 or before have showed by their unanimous consent to the Bono Act and the DMCA that many of them are so bought-and-paid-for that they won't listen to letters from those who care about the rights of users of works.

more Americans use peer-to-peer networks than voted for George Bush.

I'll vote based on my research of the issues from a broad spectrum of sources. However, too many people vote based mostly on what they see on news networks owned by the movie studios, who have an economic interest in stifling discussion about rolling back the scope and duration of copyright. In addition, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party seem bought and paid for; not enough people have considered a third party to be able to get even four-tenths of the vote in any given House district.

ranging from speaking out

Such as handing out leaflets in support of a boycott of The Walt Disney Company [losingnemo.com] ?

to practicing civil disobedience.

What about this civil disobedience [pineight.com] ?

Not Quite (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594832)

He missd the point about free enterprise that "rents" IP rights. ALmost any company can buy these rights for the "right" price, but yet we let these companies "use" rights as long as the contracts for both companies are not violated. Usually, both companies profit from such an arrangement.

Lwssig's has got it backwards (4, Insightful)

geekee (591277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594916)

In the 19th century a patent was for a very specific widget, and a detailed design was presented. So, the idea of photography could not be patented, but only a specific method of creating a photograph. Therefore, improvements in photography wpuld not be hampered by patents. Today, however, it appears possible to patent vaugue concepts that are explained by drawing a couple of boxes, such as streaming video, 1-click shopping, launching a helper application, etc. It seems that the new ideas about what a patent should allow, not the old ideas, are the ones that are flawed.

We need to work together (4, Insightful)

max born (739948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594991)

The essential building blocks of all technology come the pursuit of truth, not dollars.

I think the general public really believes that money is the sole incentive of technical creativity. I agree money can be a good incentive if you're selling televisions or computers, but the real underlying work that went into the ability to produce these things was done, not for profit, but more because people were compelled by the process of discovery.

The integrated circuit is a good example. Most of the fundamental research that went into the chip came from a lot of painstaking research in solid state physics and was carried out by researchers in university labs making less than they would working for a Fortune 500 OEM.

People really are capable of doing things just for fun, because they're interested in them, or just like knowing how things work.

However, people do need to get paid. But the question here should be, how do we bring people together to create technology? Wouldn't it be great to get all the top cancer researchers together and see if they could make some headway on understanding tumors? But how do we meet their needs, keep them happy, make sure they are adequately compensated, etc.? Though this may be difficult to accomplish under our current economic system, I think you'll agree it's something we need to work towards as it seems to me a much better approach than saying, "we have a pattent system, and if you can find the cure for cancer, you can make a lot of money." This seems so inefficient as comapanies tend to scramble over each other, reinventing the wheel, keeping their research secret and trying to make as much money as they can.

Thoughts?

The mainstream media should pick up on this (2, Informative)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595013)

Lessig is a well-known public figure...the least we can hope for is that the mainstream media picks up his lecture -- which sums up most of the concerns voiced on Slashdot pretty well.

Incase somebody's planning to publish it, I would like to (as I have done earlier) point to the RMS's essay: The Right to Read [gnu.org] cached on Google here [216.239.53.104] (incase gnu.org is down -- they're moving [slashdot.org] their machines to another location).

Some of you might have seen the essay earlier, but I think it deserves a much wider audience.

Expanding Creative Commons (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8595120)

There are indications that this struggle, which has mostly involved copyright, is about to move more heavily into patents. One well-placed patent, for instance, could do more harm to Linux or open source than a thousand alleged copyright infringements. You can't just rewrite the code to get around a patent dispute.

It might be a good idea for Creative Commons or a group like them to move into the patent arena in a big way. Two ideas would be particularly helpful.

1. A "prior art" registry. It would include ideas their posters think is new with bullet-proof date stamping and public access. This would keep those ideas from being patented. It would also allow people to post descriptions of prior art they are aware of dating back several decades, along with contact information where that prior art can be documented. That could be used to fight dangerous existing patents or patents-to-be. With a bit of pressure, patent office examiners could be forced to use the database before issuing a patent. It would save a lot of grief.

2. A open source patent portfolio with a GPL-type license. Corporations could acquire the right to use patents in the portfolio in exchange for licensing the use of their patents in open source. This would approximate how corporations like IBM avoid patent suits. Patents could be obtained by donation or by developing ideas into patents.

Acting now could save a lot of trouble later.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

http://www.InklingBooks.com/

Politically Accountable Decisions (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595130)

Here in South Dakota, we are blessed with ONE member of the house of representatives and TWO elections for that seat this year. (Long story) Elections are a great time to bring national issues into public discussion. But do the masses really care?

I've though about bringing up the whole problem with perpetually extended copyrights and other IP debacles at one of the many public Q&A forums the candidates have, but I'm afraid I'd be the only one there who knows or cares what I'm talking about.

The courts in Eldred v. Ashcroft directed IP complaints to Congress, and I suspect our congressmen will direct our complaints to /dev/nul.

Being informed: the dmca-discuss list (5, Informative)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 10 years ago | (#8595182)

I subscribed to this mailing list several years ago and have found that virtually no news slips through the list's fingers.

http://lists.anti-dmca.org/mailman/listinfo/dmca_d iscuss

To be informed of all patent, copyright and other related news, subscribe to this list. You can also throw your two cents in the ongoing discussion, or just enjoy the articles.

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