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Copyright Issues in the Mainstream

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the when-everyone's-a-crook dept.

The Courts 307

dmayle writes "Recently, the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled on a momentous topic, the Grokster case (as covered on Slashdot). It turns out, however, it's not just geeks who are taking notice, and we're not the only ones who think things are getting ridiculous. The Economist has a great story on the subject, noting among other things, that if the cost of publishing had come down with the internet, perhaps the amount of protection needed to encourage publishing is less as well." From the article: "Both the entertainment and technology industries have legitimate arguments. Media firms should be able to protect their copyrights. And without any copyright protection of digital content, they may be correct that new high quality content is likely to dry up (along with much of their business). Yet tech and electronics firms are also correct that holding back new technology, merely because it interferes with media firms' established business models, stifles innovation and is an unjustified restraint of commerce."

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But.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960432)

Copyright was meant to protect the consumers, right? Uhm..

um, no (1, Informative)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960553)

Copyright was meant to protect the consumers, right?

Copyright was not meant to protect consumers. It was meant to protect the rights of the guy who wrote the material. It is to protect the right of the supplier.

Re:um, no (2, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960699)

That guy has no natural rights to the material. It was meant to protect his incentive to continue creating. With the entertainment industry being the multi-billion-dollar-a-year behemoth that it is, we don't need to protect their incentive any more.

Copyright was also meant to protect the consumer, that is, from other less-inspired legislation that would turn it into some perpetual monopoly ala the crap that goes on in the country we broke away from. As copyright has been mutilated, it has protected the consumer even less. And don't let me get started on how badly it has fucked the historian....

Re:um, no (4, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960887)

That guy has no natural rights to the material.

No one has any natural right to any possession. Fundamentally, my property is defined by what I can either take and hide, or take and defend by any force I have available.

Government, via "social contract", creates and protects property rights and acts as the sanctioned force used to enforce those rights. The question then becomes, "what defines property, what defines fairness, and what limits and enpowers those rights?"

And that's why there's any argument at all. All the players in the intellectual property game have different and sometimes opposed ideas of roles, rights, and responsibilities. Fairness begins to boil down to "fair to who?", with the answer becoming "whoever can influence government to protect their interest best".

Explicitly, copyright was used to create and protect possession of the intellectual expression of a creator's ideas to allow those creators to profit for a short time by creating artificial scarcity and temporary monopoly. (Ideas and their expressed artifacts, uncaged, tend to flow around and multiply without regard to their creators' wishes to make a buck by them.) This was explicitly intended as incentive to publish, to share with culture the product of a creator's mind. The consumer's "right" to that creator's creation were deliberately circumscribed during the copyright time period. After that, the creation escapes into public domain.

Now, however, the rights of creators (or more specifically, the rights of those media corporate entities who co-opt the creators and wield their rights by proxy) have placed their profit rights well beyond the reasonable scope of incentive and, as you say, into the realm of perpetual monopoly, at the expense of the society which was intended as the primary beneficiary.

Sad, truly sad.

Re:But.. (2, Informative)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960671)

Copyright can protect the consumers by guaranteeing that after a certain amount of time copyright materials are released into the public domain.

Imagine for a minute that some company creates a drug that can cure cancer, AIDS, and a number of other diseases that we can't cure today. The company could choose not to patent this cure in the hopes that no one would be able to discover how it works. If no one could ever figure it out, they could continue to charge whatever they wanted for it, and people would have no choice but to pay or to likely die from their illness.

However, the company can patent it and protect their rights to it for a certain amount of time. If it were 14 years, they would have the sole right to create or allow other people to create the drug. After those 14 years, anyone could freely create the drug. So initially, prices would be high, but after 14 years they would probably hit rock bottom when other companies can undercut the price and get in on the action.

Now which would you rather have, knowledge controled and exploited by the few for as long as it takes someone else to learn that knowledge, or a set amount of time for whoever made the discovery to profit from it before it becomes available for free to everyone.

A patent system allows a winning situation for everyone. Without one, many people wouldn't want to spend time researching a discovery if everyone else will be able to steal it and profit from their hard work. Essentially, the patent system allows for capitalism to work well, provided the patent system isn't screwed up horribly.

Re:But.. (2, Insightful)

cranktheguy (731726) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960921)

I think you are confusing copyrights and patents. These are two different things. Patent terms have not changed much. Copyright terms have. You cannot say that mickey mouse is helping cure people. Therefore, you arguement is meaningless.

copyrights != patents

Re:But.. (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960769)

Cost has little to do with selling price- What does it cost to produce a duplicate cassete (music or movie) vs. what does it cost to reproduce a CD/DVD, yet dvds and CDs cost more than cassettes (when they were both easily available).
Didn't the recording induistry lose a class action about CD price fixing? Didn't they settle it by giving CDs to libraries? Weren't there a lot of stories about a single rural library getting 100+ duplicate copies of a CD that never sold so they would have had to shred them anyway? Did those of us who paid 20$ plus for cds (long before napster) ever get a penny? Sorry for my rant....
But look at mark ups in retail- on a new car it is about 6% give or take, on clothing it is at least 100%, usually around 300%....
( If a man speaks in the forest and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?

They've got to feed their families, too. (0, Redundant)

Theo de Raabt (893376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960436)

You wouldn't like it if someone broke into your workshop and took your day's work.

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960466)

Surely you mean they broke in and shared your day's work, no?

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960855)

You're still breaking in aren't you?
Don't justify your bad behavior by replacing it with "friendlier" terms.

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960522)

I wouldn't care quite so much if they only took a copy, though.

I support Freedom of Information:

1. If I produce an information pattern, it is my right whether to disclose it or not.
2. If I do disclose it, I should have NO right to stop its further dissemination.

So I'd still consider breaking in and taking the copy without permission wrong, but I find any further copyright over information absurd.

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (2, Insightful)

blue.strider (737082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960963)

That's fine, as long as you are ready to accept the consequences. There are plenty of creative people out there that make their lives because they can control the distribution of the product of their creativity and get a revenue stream back. Take that from them and you force them to flip burgers at MacDonalds. The final consequence is that nobody, except for the rich people, will be able to make creativity the center of their lives. That will stiffle both engineering and arts. Welcome to stagnation.

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (-1, Offtopic)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960556)

True. However on the other hand you wouldn't like it if you got sued for making hammers which could be used to break into workshops, among other uses.

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960859)

Who the hell moderated this flamebait?

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960610)

You wouldn't like it if someone broke into your workshop and took your day's work.

This is a false analogy -- here's a better one: say you make a horseshoe in your workshop. I then buy it from you. Is it now wrong for me to make my own horseshoes? These horseshoes I will make will not be taken from you -- they will be entirely my creation.

Now, society benefits from a supply of horseshoes, and you might not invent the horseshoe if, once you sold me one, I would never buy another from you. Therefore, society took an unusual step: by legal fiat, we will voluntarily give you a monopoly on your invention for a limited time, even though you can't force us to do it. Since it us doing it, we'll optimize the "limited time" to maximize the benefit to us -- long enough for you to make enough of a profit to justify spending time on creating new things, short enough so that we too can make a profit by making horseshoes. In fact, we realize that if we gave you a permanent monopoly you'll simply grow fat making horseshoes. On the other hand, but limiting the time of your current monopoly we hope you might decide to go back to the shop and invent something new (the crowbar?), so you can get a new monopoly.

Copyright law is based on the same principle, except now it's about ideas rather than physical invensions. Again, we need to strike a balance between allowing the authors to get a return on their investment of time and work, and between our desire to profit from their ideas by selling them as their are (reproduction) or reworking them in new ways (making derivative works).

And if the first horseshoe costs $100 million?.... (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960925)

This is a false analogy -- here's a better one: say you make a horseshoe in your workshop. I then buy it from you. Is it now wrong for me to make my own horseshoes? These horseshoes I will make will not be taken from you -- they will be entirely my creation.
And this is a false analogy (admittedly much better than the break-into-workshop grandparent post). The horseshoe analogy trivializes the effort required to make the first horseshoe. For some products (medications, movies, games, music), the cost of the first copy is extremely large relative what any individual would be willing to pay. As you well-written post suggests, it benefits society to create legal structures that allow the creator to amortize the high cost of development across a large base of customers. This legal structure is embodied by IP law, including copyright, patents, and trademarks.

Copyright law is based on the same principle, except now it's about ideas rather than physical invensions. Again, we need to strike a balance between allowing the authors to get a return on their investment of time and work, and between our desire to profit from their ideas by selling them as their are (reproduction) or reworking them in new ways (making derivative works).
Absolutely true! Yet I suspect that most of the ongoing illegal distribution of media on the internet would still violate any of proposed changes to rebalance copyright suggested in the Economist article. What percentage of P2P music and video is older than 14 years? Would those that illegally distribute first-run movies or games be willing to wait 14 years or any number of years to allow content creators to make enough money to pay for the cost of the first copy?

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (4, Insightful)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960766)

Restricting distribution of works created a century ago where the authors are long dead won't help the author any way, and won't encourage him to create other beautiful works either (well, unless they manage to ressurrect him).

Copyright at 14 years would allow for ample opportunities for all artists and authors to get paid for their work, as most of commercial use of the work happens within those 14 years anyway. AND, it allows for other, new authors to create new creative derivative works without huge legal problems; it solves abandonware; it solves orphanware (allowing to reproduce an obscure song cannot get the author's permission because he is dead, but resolving the legal issues of ownership would cost countless thousands).

Re:They've got to feed their families, too. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960865)

Wrong physics model.

With physical property, if I take it from you, you don't have it anymore.

With information, if I take it from you, now we both have it.

It's a completely different world now, and you need to adapt your conceptual metaphors to suit it.

Cost of publishing or cost of creation (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960448)

The cost of publishing is rapidly approaching zero. The cost of creation, at least for Hollywood and game companies, is rapidly approaching infinity.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (5, Insightful)

Zphbeeblbrox (816582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960530)

The cost of creation doesn't have to be approaching infinity. Only because they insist on a model of business that focuses on flash and hotbutton formula's (eg brad pitt, angelina jolie heat up on screen) big names, high software costs, and feeding everyone's ego is what drives the cost up. The same thing happens in sports too. The industry cost of doing business skyrockets as the top players insist on having their ego boosted. Personally I'm looking forward to a day when indie films are readily available and the big studios have been put in their place. I like a good blockbuster film as much as the next guy but I also like a little substance and it's becoming preciously difficult to find. And some of the tools to make those wow effects are coming available in the open source arena soon. Maybe the studios should be looking at ways to cut costs to save their industry?

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (5, Insightful)

Bimo_Dude (178966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960549)

I think the cost of creation/production for movies/games is increasing due to a lack of real creativity in these industries (as well as the music industry). They have to increasingly rely on special effects, while using the same storylines over and over again (or making the same games over and over again with better|different graphics and sound). I'm not saying that there aren't creative people, just that most of them have been marginalized because they know they produce a quality product and do not want to be ripped off by the big boys.

The more support that independent artists get, the better, including OSS.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960673)

"I think the cost of creation/production for movies/games is increasing due to a lack of real creativity in these industries (as well as the music industry). "


Not to mention that costs could be considerably lower if companies started joint ventures to develop open source engines for their games.

How many times are companies going to start from scratch creating FPS and RTS engines when they could just make the same engines evolve?

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (1)

Bimo_Dude (178966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960815)

How many times are companies going to start from scratch creating FPS and RTS engines when they could just make the same engines evolve?

Excellent question. I would probably guess that this will go on indefinitely, for these reasons: a) The executives of these companies have no real clue, b) These companies probably have quite a high attrition rate for developers, due to developer abuse (at lease EA), and c) Because of b, above, the developers working on new projects probably think it's easier to start from scratch rather than attempt to build upon millions of lines of somebody else's code - please note that this part (c) is pure speculation.

OT from your reply, but regarding movies, how often have you seen a movie in the last several years that was truly original, and not a remake of a previous movie, or based on an existing comic book|novel|classic literature?

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (4, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960715)

Actually, special effects (especially CGI) are cheaper to buy than acting talent. Movie success is becoming increasingly dependent on star power, allowing the cast to command incredible salaries.

I think this has little bearing on the copyright debate though. Today, many people want to see Tom Cruise, and are willing to pay for it. A studio is thus justified in paying him US$20M to act in their movie. This is an investment they make -- they hope his name will attract move people to see the movie, thus increasing their profits. Now, the time frame for the studio to profit from this is actually quite short -- let's be conservative and say that it is no more than 30 years. After that, most people will only watch the movie for historical reasons, since there will be many newer releases with more current stars (e.g. Sean Connery).

What is my point? That, assuming 30 years is enough to make a profit (or not) from a movie, the motivation of the studio to make it (independently of how astronomical is the cost of productions) only depends on the returns during that period. Therefore, there is no need to give the studio a 95-year monopoly on reproduction of the movie. A copyright term of 14 years, renewable once [if the movie turned out to be good enough to make it worth their while] would be sufficient and will not reduce their innovation.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (1)

cursion (257184) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960881)

Today, many people want to see Tom Cruise, and are willing to pay for it. A studio is thus justified in paying him US$20M to act in their movie. This is an investment they make -- they hope his name will attract move people to see the movie, thus increasing their profits.

I can't wait till some actor in Hollywood lets a studio lease their likeness and put a CGI version in a live action movie or three. Some of the CGI characters are getting better and better (think Spiderman, LOTR, etc.).

Get famous, lease your likeness, retire & profit...

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (2, Interesting)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#12961027)


...Today, many people want to see Tom Cruise...

That is obviously true, but what about the mass psychology behind it? Why do people flock to/glom on to entertainment that feature big names? It's certainly usually not for the quality of the performances.

All those "celebrity magazines" in the checkout lines of supermarkets must exist for a reason, the question is whether they actually get bought (I've never seen anyone buying one) or if they're really just loss leader advertising for the star-making factory.

I was going to go see War of the Worlds this weekend with my son (having seen the other versions and listened to the radio play) but now I think I'll wait until it comes out on video. I'll save forty bucks and encourage him to download the broadcast [greatnorthernaudio.com] and rent the older movies rather than supporting Mapother's looney, media-pandering behaviour.

Cost is in marketing (1)

Tune (17738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960813)

Making a movie isn't all that expensive by itself. The real cost is in marketing it. There are countless examples of movies that were produced relatively cheap, and still mass marketed (eg. Blair Witch Project).

But producing lots of movies on a small budget is very risky and laborious for large media companies. They'd rather spend 80% of their annual budget on one or two blockbusters. Sure it's a much bigger gamble, but at least the marketing costs (and revenues on merchandise) can be estimated with some accuracy.

The crackdown on copyright infringers, the lame titles and scenarios, the ever boring superstar casts... are all due to the ultra large studios and their unimaginative cowardly management. And since noone there seems to know a way out, they've been consolidating for years instead of diversifying.

OK. I'm ranting so I'll stop.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960576)

The cost of creation, at least for Hollywood and game companies, is rapidly approaching infinity.

That's somehow our fault and we should be punished for it? It is *not* the public's burden to have to support crazed, millionare actors; over-budget films with bad acting, no plot, and too many special effects; fad, cookie-cutter bands, that exhaust their appeal in two months, and expensive videos that may run for one week...

If the media companies want to waste their money on that, fine, but don't expect us to wait out 90+ years (when everyone who saw the movie when it was made) is dead.

Perhaps if movie companies had to make sure that they recouped all their lost money in less than 10 years they would stop paying artists the exorbidant salaries they do, would stop rushing out unfinished and questionable material, and would stop wasting their money on talentless people just because their boob job is top-notch.

Vote with you feet (1)

blue.strider (737082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960793)

Watch only these exceptionally creative movies made by fringe independent artists. Nobody is forcing you to spend 10$ to see any Hollywood movie. It's your own personal choice.

Since you are really sure you know what the faults of the movie industry are, why don't you start your own media company to make, distribute and promote movies made with normal, middle-class actors, good plots, sparring special effects, good bands & the works.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (3, Insightful)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960979)

Perhaps if movie companies had to make sure that they recouped all their lost money in less than 10 years they would stop paying artists the exorbidant salaries they do

But here's the fucked up part, a movie is considered a failure if it doesn't recoup its cost in the first few weeks. Add DVD sales and a movie is going to make 90% of the money they can hope to wring out of it in 2 years max. And I would suspect thats a long estimate.

So why the hell do they need 90 years to sit on these thing!!!

Cost of crap or cost of delayed crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960986)

"That's somehow our fault and we should be punished for it? It is *not* the public's burden to have to support crazed, millionare actors; over-budget films with bad acting, no plot, and too many special effects; fad, cookie-cutter bands, that exhaust their appeal in two months, and expensive videos that may run for one week...

If the media companies want to waste their money on that, fine, but don't expect us to wait out 90+ years (when everyone who saw the movie when it was made) is dead."

Well according to your "insightful" (Ha!) argument. If what's being produced is as bad as you say? Then waiting 90+ years is a moot thing. Crap is crap regardless of weither you get it NOW! or 90+ years from now.

Now the GOOD STUFF you may not want to wait, but that's not the basis for your argument.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (1)

MatD (895409) | more than 9 years ago | (#12961038)

If movies from hollywood suck so much (and I agree that most do), then why are you downloading them? I don't download movies, but obviously a lot of people do. Just look at how many copies of 'revenge of the sith' are floating around. If people didn't want to see these shitty movies, they wouldn't be pirating them.

Re:Cost of publishing or cost of creation (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960822)

Just more proof that the media company model is not working. Some of the best films I've seen have budgets under 5 million, many under 1 million. Watch the film Primer, that was made on a $7,000 budget by someone who previously had no experience in film making.

Talking about music. While an idie artist can put thier music out for free and make money off of touring and contract work, record labels on the other hand only own the recording. For them, giving away free music is giving away thier product.

It's not just movies and dollars, it's lives here (2, Interesting)

Rudi Cilibrasi (853775) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960879)

Good day. My name is Rudi Cilibrasi. You may email me at cilibrar@gmail.com

I am a lifelong computer programmer and open source author. I have contributed to the Linux kernel. I have also worked at Microsoft for a few months. You can see some of the software I am now writing at

http://complearn.org [complearn.org] which allows you to do advanced data-mining for free.

I am writing this now to address what I consider to be a very serious matter. It is relevant to the moral basis upon which Intellectual Property is founded. As a scientist and programmer, I am a very technical person and tend to get very involved in my own health decisions. It happens that I was born prematurely in 1974, and received a blood transfusion from my mother who was infected with Hepatitis C (HCV). For those that are not aware, this causes a lifelong degenerative liver disease. Both of my parents have already died young due to its effects, and I am HCV+ as well and have been slowly suffering liver degeneration my entire life as a result.

This concerns IP because some years ago I did some research online about my possible treatment options. In the year 2000 the possibilities were "old, normal" interferon or pegylated interferon, taken in both cases in combination with ribavirin. These are chemotherapeutic type drugs, with very harsh side effects, and you must take them for a year in order to have a decent chance of curing yourself of HCV+. The problem is, with my genotype, 1b, the chances of success using the old medicine were only about 30%. The new medicine had about a 60% chance. But the FDA did not approve the new medicine until years after Europe did, for reasons which are not entirely clear, given the solid research findings in its favor. So I flew to Europe, got the new pegylated medicines for about twenty-five thousand dollars of my own carefully saved money, and flew back to USA.

I spent about 3 months treating myself with this medicine that was not yet approved in USA and then checked my viral counts to find great news: I had lowered my viral count to undetectable levels, suggesting that if I just continued with the yearlong course of treatment, I would probably be permanently cured. What great news!

Imagine my dismay, then, when I received a note from the customs office saying they had blocked shipment of the second half of my pegylated interferon + ribavirin. The reason, apparently, was that there was a patent or IP law problem restricting the European branch of the pharmaceutical industry from selling these drugs to Americans, even if I bought them in Europe with my own money for personal use. I figured it would not be a big deal -- I would just explain to the customs officers that this was a life-threatening illness, and they would help me find some way to appeal the block before it was too late.

The big problem is that if you skip your medicine for more than a week or two before the full year, you may as well stop entirely because the virus will almost certainly come back in full force.

So, having explained this to the customs official over the phone, I was shocked to find that it seemed there were no provisions in place to handle the case where an IP restriction is in direct conflict with human life. My life. I am still HCV positive now.

Its now several years later. My parents have since died and my liver has gotten worse. I would enjoy being around to continue to contribute for free (because I love programming) and would enjoy talking more with all of you about many things. But this will not be possible unless we reframe the IP debate in terms of human-centric goals. It should not be the case that a creative scientist and programmer with a lifelong history of giving away his technological creations for free would be denied the resources he needs to satisfy one of the simplest and most basic human needs -- to have his illness treated in the most effective way possible -- because of a mere Intellectual Property dispute. It should not be the case that the FDA is allowed to prevent life-saving medicine that is not abusable from being used in the USA. This is a travesty and must be corrected. Because of a rule that contains no exceptions for the protection of life and health, I lost tens of thousands of dollars and have that much less useful time left to earn. Because of this travesty, I am still HCV+.

Want to help? Please see my website http://hcvaction.org/ [hcvaction.org]

This whole disaster also begs the question of how should we handle the more general issue of conflicts between intellectual property and basic human rights. More information will be posted on this subject soon. Sometimes it seems like the only people willing to help are those on the "fringe" like Noam Chomsky. Why is Chiron allowed to copyright all the lifesaving medical science relating to HCV? And to lock up development with patents restricting research to the privileged few? I need help publicizing it, and am wondering if Slashdot can help save my life here. Patrick V. seemed to have some good luck...

Re:It's not just movies and dollars, it's lives he (1)

Alphabet Pal (895900) | more than 9 years ago | (#12961033)

I gotta tell you - if the patent holder (Chiron?) was indicted for attempted murder, and I was on the jury, I'd vote him guilty.

Well... (4, Insightful)

moz25 (262020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960469)

And without any copyright protection of digital content, they may be correct that new high quality content is likely to dry up...
Actually, I find that high quality content and ideas are harder to "rip" and replicate. Maybe not the best example, but Slashdot's code and ideas are out in the open, yet there aren't many competing sites for the same audience. The problem, to some extent extent, thus perhaps lies with the quality of content.

Re:Well... (0, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960548)

The problem, to some extent extent, thus perhaps lies with the quality of content.

Unfortunately, I'd say it's the quality of the code too. Recently (past few months), Slashdot has been going down more than a cheap Las Vegas hooker (no offense intended to any cheap Las Vegas hookers who may read Slashdot).

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960734)

(no offense intended to any cheap Las Vegas hookers who may read Slashdot)

None taken.

Re:Well... (1)

PeteDotNu (689884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960626)

You're right, that's a complete non-example.

Fnar.

Re:Well... (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960637)

I think the point of the quote is that high quality content is likely to dry up because high quality content is often costly. If a return is doubtful, there is no impetus to create it in the first place.

interestingly enough, the reason television is beset with reality shows is because less of the desirable demographic is watching television. thus ad rates are lower, so cheaper programming is necessary to support the business model.

Slashdot is free (at least I've never paid for it); there is no reason to seek out an alternative. A movie costs X, so if someone can get me that same movie (same quality, same content) for free, that is an attractive alternative.

The old adage is true. You get what you pay for.

I freelance in the film industry. I can tell you that, for example, the LOTR franchise is bought to you by the good folks at New Line due in part to movies like the austin powers series, or the Blade series, or the Rush Hour series. Many would argue that these films suck, but New Line generated the cash for LOTR by using the formula (high concept/low to moderate budget) and by having good credit with banking institutions. That is the Hollywood film business model. That's how LOTR gets funded, because LOTR obliterates that model and would never get done otherwise. Interestingly enough, everyone laughed at New Line and predicted their end when they announced that they were giving a hack horror director 300 million to direct 3 fantasy movies at once.

Higher quality ideas are not harder to rip or replicate. They can burn to DVD just fine. And that definitely has an effect on the amount of material released which reduces total revenue. Less revenue means less to spend on quality projects.

Bad example (1)

blue.strider (737082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960858)

Slashdot remains popular because it costs relatively little to mantain and it does not make any worth mentioning profit, if any. Try to actually make some money out of slashdot, to pay bills & medical insurance for your kids, and see for your self how fast the audience will flock to the competition.

first week (1)

szobatudos (642289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960474)

Movie makers make business in the first week, gaining profit in that time. Why they bother that others who are not-so-keen on watching the film early download it instead of paying at a cinema?

Status Quo (2, Informative)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960489)

This is an excellent article, and one that anybody with a brain could agree with. But it looks like the history behind this (the last 30 years or so) and the high-priced legal firms will do everything they can to keep the status quo.
I'm afraid that we will eventually have to push for a constitutional ammendment to fix this copyright issue -- there is simply too much inertia for the law to catch up with reality. Who knows how long this will take? If you thought the "war on drugs" was fun, just wait until we do about 40 years of the "war on pirates"

See "SarBox And The World of Tommorrow" before it hits the theatres! [whattofix.com]

Re:Status Quo (2, Funny)

mattbee (17533) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960653)

This is an excellent article, and one that anybody with a brain could agree with. But it looks like the history behind this (the last 30 years or so) and the high-priced legal firms will do everything they can to keep the status quo.

Hmm, I don't know; they've been around for at least 30 years, but I always thought Status Quo's longevity was down to their catchy three chord tune structure and energetic live performance. While I'm in no way a fan, I'm not sure we need to push for laws against them.

Re:Status Quo (1)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960738)

That'd be so sad. I can see it now... eye patches, peg legs, gold teeth and broken rum bottles everywhere.

Re:Status Quo (2, Interesting)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960932)

I believe that within 10 years there will be so much bandwidth that there will be people trying to figure out how to use it. When this happens there will be video, music, software, and wideo games on demand. Most people will not bother with storing anything at their home and will leave that headache to their isp. Then the problem with pirates will largely disappear. This will happen for two reasons. First the demand for copying equipment will decrease and second the cost of the equipment will therefore increase to a point where it will be cheaper to use the content on demand system.

The Economist (4, Insightful)

HipToday (883113) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960507)

Is this meant to imply that people who read The Economist aren't geeks?

Re:The Economist (2, Insightful)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960540)

The important thing to consider when the Economist picks up issues like this, is that its readers include a great number of those in power around the world.

Insightful article (4, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960508)

A first, useful step would be a drastic reduction of copyright back to its original terms--14 years, renewable once. This should provide media firms plenty of chance to earn profits, and consumers plenty of opportunity to rip, mix, burn their back catalogues without breaking the law. The Supreme Court has somewhat reluctantly clipped the wings of copyright pirates; it is time for Congress to do the same to the copyright incumbents.

This is perfectly in line with what i've heard from copyright experts and people who _used_ to work for copyright protection groups/organizations.

Re:Insightful article (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960534)

yeah, i agree...I'd even go further to include corporate logos and other things (like any cartoon mouse) that have had their copyrights extended indefinitely.

Re:Insightful article (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960760)

Corporate logos have always been protected for as long as they were in use. That's why they're trademarked, not copyrighted.

Re:Insightful article (1)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960965)

yes, and so that particular corperate mouse would be protected by trademark even if it's copyrights were to expire.

meaning that you still wouldn't be able to make derivitive works that contained said mouse even if the copyright on steamboat willy were to expire.

New Era? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960516)

I said it before [slashdot.org] and I'll say it again:

Exchanging goods for money is an old and well trusted system. It has worked well for centuries because those doing the selling were generally the only ones who could comfortably produce the product.

However, we are now entering The Information Age. Many businesses no longer sell goods, or services, but rather sets of instructions, plans and ideas. As these are not tangible objects, they are easily reproduced.

Previously it was possible to bind these ideas to tangible objects, thus making them harder to reproduce. Recipes were printed in books. Music was pressed into vinyl. Because of this, businesses could stick to the age old business model, but now that the consumer can also easily reproduce products, cracks are forming in this model.

All well and good, but what's the solution? How can businesses make money on the ideas/information/programs they produced initially? At the moment there seems to be a knee-jerk legal response, but this doesn't seem to me to be a viable solution in the long term (but I am not an economist). One alternative could be to scrap the "sell multiple, low-cost copies" model and go with a "Sell one, high cost copy which will cover expenses and profit". For example, 20th Century Fox makes a new movie costing $100,000,000. They release it to the public for free (and Free) and keep track of how many copies are in circulation. Depending on how popular it is, they are then paid $5,00,000,000, or what ever, by a central organisation. The consumers have to pay this organisation a set amount each year to cover their costs, but are then free to do whatever they want with the movie/music/software.

Will people be happy being forced to fork out a few grand a year for products? They fork it out already voluntarily.

Do people get a say in what's produced? How do we insure the producer is producing a quality product? Through market research and strict auditing of the producers.

A crazy, poorly formed idea, but one which does eliminate the problem sellers we are now facing.

Re:New Era? (1)

chemistry (876982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960662)

Along the same lines I was wondering if perhaps communism (true communism) will once again try and take center stage as information becomes increasingly free? Perhaps in the grand scheme of things capitalism will be a short puff of smoke? Being a competitive person by nature I would guess that this will simply not be the case. Greed, feer and power will continue to affect man in the future even as it does today. But I think you are right. Some types of business models will simply have to go away. I have no clue what will replace them, but I am pretty sure that it will involve a system were a certain group of individuals make significant sums of money while others do not. Probably not much different than that it is today. Those with power and money now will continue to force change laws to fit THEIR needs. As developing nations begin to have more wealth the greed and power mentality will affect them more and more. In the end we have always been a survival of the fittest creature. Right now it would appear that those with the most money and power are the fittest. History says those individuals and there mentality will live on. While the less fit will die out. Sad really.

Re:New Era? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960668)

hmm. I don't like it. Too many moving parts. Too much scope for corruption (fixing, bribing pollsters) too much money going through one central agency. And then who decides which products are grouped together and so on....

Far better just to make all non-commercial distribution free and continue to bring the full force of the law against people or companies who seek to profit from illegally copying.

Thus fan made dvds copied amongst friends over the internet would be fine but a company providing such a service is breaking copyright law and gets shutdown.

This is considerably easier to police and people will always be willing to pay a premium for "official" versions of stuff.

Re:New Era? (2, Insightful)

Mithrandir86 (884190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960718)

You're exactly right. You're not an economist.

Re:New Era? (4, Insightful)

mjh (57755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960814)

They release it to the public for free (and Free) and keep track of how many copies are in circulation. Depending on how popular it is, they are then paid $5,00,000,000, or what ever, by a central organisation. The consumers have to pay this organisation a set amount each year to cover their costs, but are then free to do whatever they want with the movie/music/software.
Isn't this socialism? Hasn't the world demonstrated that socialism is an inherently failed distribution system?
Will people be happy being forced to fork out a few grand a year for products? They fork it out already voluntarily.
Yes, but that's a pretty significant distinction. When people voluntarily spend their money, you can discern what's important to them. When people are forced to spend their money, the enforcer of the spending is responsible for determining what's important to the public. But that enforcer doesn't have the data to determine what's important... that data only came from people voluntarily spending their money. As a result, overtime the enforcer will become incredibly inefficient at providing what the public wants. Which is what we see everytime some central authority tries to take control of production. [techcentralstation.com]

But that's not all. The consumer of {movies,music,software} will perceive it as free. As a consequence they'll consume more of it than they would if they had to pay for it. This will lead to escalating costs for everyone. [invisibleheart.com]

A crazy, poorly formed idea, but one which does eliminate the problem sellers we are now facing.
I think it will create many times more problems than the single problem it might solve.

Re:New Era? (1)

CleverNickedName (644160) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960903)

I see what you mean and I'm not entirely happy with this idea either, but I look at it more as the BBC model on a larger scale. This is only the entertainment industry we're talking about, not political reform.

But that's not all. The consumer of {movies,music,software} will perceive it as free. As a consequence they'll consume more of it than they would if they had to pay for it. This will lead to escalating costs for everyone.

No, not at all, since the consumers would also be the producers. That is, you burn your own DVDs.

Re:New Era? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12961016)

Pretty much, yea. Everyone hates capitalism (when they're not on the top of the food chain), but it is by far the most efficient way to allocate limited resources. Not saying efficient==good, because it often doesn't, which is why we have copyrights (etc) in the first place.

Anytime you add a central authority into a system with diverse individual authorities, you exponentiate its inefficiency. You also open the door for corruption, and give people the incentive to try and circumvent the process, both of which add yet more ineffeciency.

just a bad idea.

Re:New Era? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960875)

Depending on how popular it is, they are then paid $5,00,000,000, or what ever, by a central organisation

Are you even hearing yourself? A central organization (sorry, I'm not a Brit, so I spell it with a "z") with the authority to handle purse strings, and with the authority to collect that money from someplace (taxes? from whom? do all people consume all entertainment in equal measure?) is called The Government. The crazy notion that there is some fixed-size pie out of which all entertainment funds would be paid to creators misses the entire point of creating something new in the first place. Without the prospect of being the person that brings some huge, wildly popular new creation to the audience, all you're talking about is just creating an army of mediocre pie-slice-takers.

Will people be happy being forced to fork out a few grand a year for products? They fork it out already voluntarily

But they fork it out according to their tastes and willingness to spend. "People" do not all spend the same on their entertainment. Not even counting the people who cheat and pay nothing, there are people who will actually go to the theatre and see the same movie more than once, or that actually buy DVDs for their kids... but then there are people who never go to the cinema, and have no kids. The difference in media consumption could vary by thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Do people get a say in what's produced?

They do already. If something is truly terrible, people won't pay for it. If someone has a reputation for continually producing terrible work, no one will risk investment to pay them to produce more. Or, if they do, that's their business.

How do we insure the producer is producing a quality product?

Why do we care? And, "quality" by what standard? That's the whole point. Some parts of population have a completely different sense of what "quality" is. For example, I just don't get Bollywood films. They aren't compelling to me in any way. Likewise, there are people who consider Merchant Ivory films so glacial as to be anesthetic. So, why introduce some ridiculous bureaucracy to weigh in on it? The audiences, critics, reviewers, bloggers, and word-of-mouth friends are vastly more efficient at moderating the quality and helping you decide when to spend money on entertainment.

strict auditing of the producers

Auditing by... the governemt? Auditing by some elitist guild? How about just stick with auditing by the audience? Why make everything more complex, add a compulsary component (essentially, if you don't pay your entertainment taxes, you go to jail?) and an entire additional layer of non-creative people who do not have a personal vested interest in seeing a particular film, for example, make it to the audiences...

but one which does eliminate the problem sellers we are now facing

Problem sellers? The problem is the non-buyers. If the people that claim they respect the artists actually did respect them by doing business with them in the way the artists have asked, we'd have no problem at all. Artists that go through big studios/companies have one approach, artists who use oddball indy-methods have another approach... no, the only problem here is that some people simply don't want to pay for entertainment, and know that, for now, they have a fairly good chance of not getting caught with their ripped copy of some DVD.

Regardless, I'd rather have the dull roar of back-and-forth lawsuits over pirating than have the government collect money from me, on pain of jail time, and then decide by committee which artists should get paid out of that year's creative pie fund. No thank you. I think watching the Cultural Revolution in China handle it that way was enough of a lesson for everyone, don't you?

Re:New Era? (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960917)

Unfortunately, it is not only a crazy, poorly formed idea, it will also NOT eliminate the problem.

What you are proposing is governmental / beaurocratic oversight of a free market problem. This is also known as Communism or Socialism. History has shown us very well that solutions of that nature do not and cannot work. Case in point: The Soviet Union. All aspects of commerce were controlled in a manner similar to what you are proposing. What happened? A dead market where nothing was available cheaply and quality was horrible! Long lines for food, cars that didn't run or fell apart (see YUGO for more info on that) and ultimately a country and a people sent to economic ruin.

A system such as the one you are proposing would ensure that nothing good ever gets produced again in the entertainment industry. While I'm sure you meant well, please return to the drawing board and try again.

90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporation (5, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960520)

This makes no sense. Copyright was originally intended to encourage publication by granting publishers a temporary monopoly on works so they could earn a return on their investment. But the internet and new digital technologies have made the publication and distribution of works much easier and cheaper. Publishers should therefore need fewer, not more, property rights to protect their investment. Technology has tipped the balance in favour of the public domain.

Exactly! In this day and age, most media that is published is *long* forgotten after only a few months. The only reason the conglomorates want this 90+ year protection is so that they can gaurantee that every single person alive when the piece of material was produced will be dead before it can be used somewhere else.

That isn't protecting distribution to make back profit, that's protecting big business to control every facet of their holdings while fucking the public out of what should have been rightfully theirs.

It's really sad that the lawmakers and interpreters are either ignoring this important fact (or color blind -- green).

Eight years is too much, nevermind 28 or 90+!

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (0, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960589)

That isn't protecting distribution to make back profit, that's protecting big business to control every facet of their holdings while fucking the public out of what should have been rightfully theirs.

Oh really? "Rightfully theirs"? I dare you to say that to the face of a musician or an artist or an author. I dare you.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960661)

Oh really? "Rightfully theirs"? I dare you to say that to the face of a musician or an artist or an author. I dare you.

There are plenty of artists here... I did say it to their face now and I have said it many times before.

I dare you to tell the holiday cheerleaders that they can't sing Jingle Bells, go to see holiday plays and concerts, or enjoy any of the other various rights they enjoy because copyright law did not extend into infinity.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960811)

Let's get this straight... you have no rights to somebody else's work, any more than I have a right to break into your house and steal your stereo.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960915)

you have no rights to somebody else's work, any more than I have a right to break into your house and steal your stereo.

Obviously I was not clear or you don't understand the underlying issue... What I'm talking about are the rights that were taken away when copyright laws were extended to 90+ years.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960838)

Do you think that the relatives of Shakespeare should be allowed to control his works ?
We are speaking about classical works where the author is long dead. Works from 1920'ies, where people cannot create derivatives without fear of being sued. This is stifling innovation.
How about Mickey Mouse ? It should belong to the public now; Walt Disney and his inheritors has already reaped the benefits, but now this popular culture icon is not still available to the public. Walt Disney won't create any more, since he is dead, and other young talented artists, some of whom might have the passion to create new Mickey Mouse drawings - they are prohibited from doing so.
Should our history of culture belong to a few families ? Why shouldn't Disney's creations be treated the same as Shakespeare's ? The public should have the same rights.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960885)

Do you think that the relatives of Shakespeare should be allowed to control his works ?

Yes I do. Do you believe that all of your assets should be given away once you die, leaving nothing for your family?

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960992)

It's not an asset. It's not property.
His family gets the money earned from the works.
If the due time (14+14 years, as originally was) has not expired, the family continues to get that income.

I am saying that using 'artistic control', and 'creative control', 'artists moral right to define how derivative works should be created' as arguments for copyright is simply illogical if the author is not anymore.

I am saying that using 'artists need to eat, too, if we want to benefit from their creativity' is valid for the 14+14 year copyright, but that argument is void when even the author's children are dead of old age.

I am saying that using 'artists need incentive to create future works' is valid for the 14+14 year copyright, but that argument is completely baseless when speaking about copyright where the artist is already dead.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12961017)

OK, so if you die and leave a car to your family, then the public gets to use it after x amount of time, right? You saying that a creative work is not an asset is ridiculous, and again, insulting to people who create non-physical products.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (2, Insightful)

Iriel (810009) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960648)

I think the currenty copyright standards being practiced stifle innovation in two ways (please feel free to correct):

1. In an example of 'artists' who make a living on their creative assets, the old copyright standard allowed them to make on a temporary monopoly until that artist could create another piece of work to then copyright and derive income from.

Now, however, we have more people making a living off of infringment lawsuits than the money made from the copyrighted work in question. That's just sad on so many levels.

2. In the case of technology: 5 computers per license isn't that great when there are a growing number of people with a desktop computer, laptop and consistently upgrade. Do I have to spend another several thousand dollars to re(place | new) all my DRM'ed content after I get another 2 computers a few years down the road?

I think a lot of lawmakers are trying to enforce one standard that should work for all mediums of content, and there just seems to be too much difference between digital content and physical to blanket over everything conviently.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

junster2 (573899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960863)

Actually to comment on your second point, if you are talking about iTunes, you can have upto 5 machines at one time that are authorized to play your music. If however you upgrade or replace a machine, you can deauthorize that machine and then authorize your new machine. I think this is fair. Also if you really want you can burn to CD and then rip it to whatever format you would like.

If you were not talking about iTunes, then please disregard.

Re:90+ years? We're all dead, except the corporati (1)

kingmanor (112296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960868)

The only reason they keep it so long is because of DISNEY. God forbid mickey mouse becomes uncopyrighted and in the public domain.

Fight! Fight! Fight! (1, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960532)

Ah, corperate fights. Time to kick back and watch the corperate giants for innovation fight the corperate giants for media rights. If only it were mud wrestling or death match style.

congress .. ha! (3, Insightful)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960544)

With enourmous amount of industry lobbying and general public not knowing any better, I don't see any way for a legislative body to reduce copyright protection term. None.
This could happen if the public became suddenly sensitive to this issue, but since the same media companies are also controlling majority of information channels (i.e. TV, news media sites), such awareness will not appear any time soon.
So buckle up and get ready to be taken for a ride by the "content gods": they'll tell you what to watch and how much to pay for it.

Re:congress .. ha! (1)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960674)

What you say is reasonably true but more any more often people are not being fed their information major media. Memes like copyleft are spreading virally to larger segments of the population (whoa, buzzwords). And with a few influential, free thinking outlets like the economist it won't be long before this picks up steam.
there are, after all, almost 900,000 members to /., just look at my ID.

Re:congress .. ha! (1)

Zphbeeblbrox (816582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960695)

There is hope. The fact is that the genie is out of the bottle. No amount of court rulings can stop it now. Sure you can stop a company like grokster or napster, but how do you stop an open source protocol with multiple OSS projects using it for multiple purposes each of which can fork anytime anywhere. It's impossible. You'd have to get rid of the internet. And that really would get the publics attention. It may take fifty years but eventually a lot of people will be "tech" savvy. These issues will be like the social security issue today. Maybe you don't want to wait fifty years but in the meantime you can support some of those OSS projects with your time, talent, and money.

Re:congress .. ha! (0, Offtopic)

Zphbeeblbrox (816582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960725)

Gahhh I really should use that preview button. Sorry about the bold text there.

Wrong Venue (5, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960563)

The Supreme Court held that you cannot distribute technology with the deliberate intention that it be used to violate the copyrights of another. The decision was correctly made, in my opinion. I also agree that the falling cost of publishing may (see another top-level comment regarding the cost of creation) indicate decreased need for the protections of the copyright system. However, the Supreme Court is not where you should go to make policy, and since this is not a Constitutional ruling it is comparatively easy to change: go to Congress and get them to change the copyright laws on the books.

Yes, Congress is a cesspool of corruption; and yes, Congress gets more time in bed with the entertainment industry in a year than any of us will have with our wives in our entire lifetime. But Congress is the place to fix this, not only because it's the appropriate place but also because Congress is more attune to what people want and more able to make policy decisions. After all, the Supreme Court refers to Congress and the Executive as "the popular branches" for a reason.

Do some research, determine what changes need to be made, and push them through Congress. If it's a good enough idea, then enough people will subscribe to it to convince their legislators to fix the problem. But don't bitch at the Supreme Court for telling you not to break the law. And if you want to make a point about it by breaking the law as a form of civil disobedience, remember (unlike so many current-day protesters) that the hallmark of civil disobedience is being arrested and charged with a crime.

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960629)

And if you want to make a point about it by breaking the law as a form of civil disobedience, remember (unlike so many current-day protesters) that the hallmark of civil disobedience is being arrested and charged with a crime.

Sadly, it's not a criminal offense! These are civil court rulings and the "damages" are inflated beyond belief because the media conglomorates have the money, lawyers, and lawmakers on their side.

Civil disobedience cannot win in the traditional sense here (i.e. being arrested and charged) as we just don't have the money, power, or government on our side. Civil disobedience in the contemporary sense has already begun to win... We have made the media conglomorates clamor to get their wares out on the Internet in a downloadable format, their DVDs out on the shelves within a few months of release in the theatre for a reasonable price, and we have gotten the attention of the masses to continue to do what they have been doing to push for more.

Sadly, I doubt the masses understand that what they did is a good thing. They are always happy with the bare minimum. Ooooh, iTunes! I'm good. No! We need to continue to push them to stop slowly eroding our fair-use rights while giving us the glitz and glamour of this and that Media Store on the web...

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960696)

What I said applies equally well to the civil arena, except that "arrested and charged with a crime" takes the form of "served a Complaint in federal court." And not all lawyers and lawmakers are on the side of the media conglomerates, so don't lose hope. The point is simply that this should be fought and won in Congress.

As to iTunes Music Store and fair use, I really think that it's pretty darn good. I bought a song from there at long last to try it all out, and I can use that song on 5 computers, any number of iPods, and any number of burned CDs that I want. "Fair use" is not a license to do whatever you want with someone else's copyrighted material - it's a license to do what it says - make fair use of material that you've licensed from the copyright holder. I think Apple has accomplished that.

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960721)

And not all lawyers and lawmakers are on the side of the media conglomerates, so don't lose hope. The point is simply that this should be fought and won in Congress.

You will *not* be able to stand up against the finanacial backing of the conglomorates. You *will* lose to them because they have nothing but time on their side. You *cannot* outlast the longevitiy of an "individual" that cannot die in the traditional sense.

Their money is limitless and so is their lifespan.

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960790)

Haven't you seen Star Wars? :P

Re:Wrong Venue (0, Troll)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960763)

Yeah, but advertisements for Sony's beta recorder specifically claimed you could use it to record over the air programming! Thus, Sony showed an intent for users to violate copyrights.

What has changed? Why was it fair use when Sony did it but illegal when Grokster does it?

And the whole "intent" standard leads to fear. Did the engineer behind the copy machine have an intent? Did the creator of the printing press? Did engineer who created the first CD burner?

And here's the real problem: Who determines intent? A judge or jury at trial. Thus, you could have NO intent to have users infringe, but you still have to go through a trial, spend a lot of money, and risk losing to protect your new technology.

The only companies capable of doing such a thing would have deep pockets but would also have no desire of upsetting the status quo. Both Intel and Microsoft have been courting the content industries, not antagonizing them.

And besides, innovative technology rarely comes from the status quo, but from smaller companies.

Basically, the Grokster is going to kill more innovation than even software patents!

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960856)

Not all on-air television programming is copyrighted, and recording the copyrighted stuff to view another time is fair use. Grokster created software with the intention that it be used to widely distribute copyrighted material, well beyond what fair use allows. If Sony's advertisements had said "With Betamax, you can record movies and send copies to thousands of people for free!", that case would have gone down a little bit differently.

Re:Wrong Venue (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960913)

In the Sony case, Sony was promoting personal recording for
time-shifting. They argued (successfully) that recording for
time-shifting was covered under fair use. They did not promote taking
recordings and distributing them.

Grokster on the other hand was promoting sharing with others (unlicensed
redistribution), which is not covered under fair use.

What copyright holders don't realize (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960665)

People will eventually tire pre-processed, big production entertainment. Open source, independently produced media with alternate forms of distribution (if not made entirely illegal) and funding will arise to bring the big media conglomerates down. This isn't going to happen today, or next year, but the change is inevitable.

Actually, what's closer to the truth is that they do realize it and they are going to do everything in their power to milk the old structure and institutions for every dollar they can.

The aspect that really grates for me... (5, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960669)

Abandonware, and deliberately restricting access.

Sure, I quite like the idea of sharing mp3s and downloading TV shows, but I realise that the arguments against doing that do have at least some merit. What does annoy me is that it's impossible to get access to a lot of media.

The market for classic video games is small-to non-existant. Occasionally these are relicenced, but mostly people are not making money from these games. The TV Pilot "Global Frequency" would not have been seen by anyone except people downloaded it. This caused complaints from WB. Not for any good reason. They weren't losing any money from it because there was no way to buy a copy, but The WB want to hoard their IP.

Society does better from these when people are breaching copyright. It's better that a show is watched than a show is buried in a vault, but copyright hasn't caught up with this possibility.

This Whole Struggle... (2, Interesting)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960677)

...is a lot like trying to convince your wife to go to a swinger's party. The whole time you're trying, she will put up a fight and say that she's not interested in that sort of thing. Or that the guys are all going to be fat and balding and the women harsh. Or that she's not into chicks. Etc... But once you actually get her to go to one and she sees that the people are just normal everyday people like the ones you work with or are your neighbors, she revises her thinking and agrees to go again, but not necessarily participate. After a few more times, and maybe meeting a few guys she thinks are attractive, she might actually take the next step.

This is exactly like the music/movie industry's stance on electronic distribution. For the longest time, they've been opposed to the technology because they felt that it would be detrimental to them (ie. having to fuck the fat balding guy). Then they agreed to let it happen here and there as long as they didn't really have to participate in things that were beyond their control (ie. agreeing to go to the parties, but not really get involved. Retaining control.). The only step the MPAA and RIAA need to take now, is to find out that if they allow some of their music to be released using non DRMed MP3 and other format files on normal P2P networks (eDonkey, Gnutella, etc...) that their sales might go up when people want the rest of the album (ie. finding the one or two cute guys with big scholongs that your wife actually enjoys spending a little time with, but still eschewing the fat balding guys). It'll happen sooner or later or my name isn't secretly Trolling4Dollars! ;P

Re:This Whole Struggle... (1)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960900)

so what happens when your wife gets a little too enamored with Mr. Big Schlong and starts eschewing yours? "traditional" big media and Gnutella style P2P just don't mix. "The rest of the album" that you're talking about will be right there with the authorized files, ripe for the taking. That doesn't mean that P2P is bad for the industry though. I think it increases interest in and consumption of recorded music, digital or not. I think its likely that more people will buy CDs as a dividend. Or maybe the sale of CDs will be relegated to collectors (like me). You have to admit that there is something satisfying about having that disk, especially if its an artist you love. Get more creative with the packaging (for god sake ditch the flimsy jewel cases, try http://jewelboxing.com/ [jewelboxing.com] instead) and add some value and there will always be a market for recordings. I love walking into an indy record store, chatting up the scruffy pierced dude behind the counter and walking out with two cds that I can play for my friends. Downloading just isn't the same.

Thank Sonny Bono's Wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960682)

I think we can thank the music industry for this lengthy extension of time to the copyright law in the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Don't you imagine that this was really to cover and protect the recording works of the 60's such at the Beetles, Rolling Stones, etc? The original founders had intended that at some time copyright works would become part of the public domain for public good. Unfortunately, they didn't spell out a specific time so now we just get infinite extensions. This is only good for the corporations and bad for society as a whole.

http://www.techlawjournal.com/courts/eldritch/pl10 5-298.htm [techlawjournal.com]

backwards (4, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960688)

Uhm...you seem to be suggesting that if publishing is cheap, it doesn't need protection. That's backwards. When publishing costs are high, there is less need for protection, because most of the profit from publishing comes soon after publication. When costs are high, by the time a copier gets his copies out, there isn't enough profit left for them.

Justice Breyer, back before he was on the Supreme Court, wrote an interesting article [wikipedia.org] on this, arguing that publishing costs were high enough that we might not need copyright. This was before technology drove publishing costs way down.

There seem to be a lot of people who think "copyright was fine when it was a pain for me to copy stuff, but now that it's easy to copy stuff, we should get rid of copyright". They seem to think that the purpose of copyright law was to tell people they couldn't do what they weren't going to do anyway.

Who needs whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960697)

"Yet tech and electronics firms are also correct that holding back new technology, merely because it interferes with media firms' established business models, stifles innovation and is an unjustified restraint of commerce.""

And yet you'll note that these "tech innovations" depend on content produced by the content industry for their existance. Would the innovative Ipod exist without content from the content industry? Would it be as useful without it? How about the CD and DVD player? Now you and I can burn our own, but it was the content industry that originally drove demand for both products. How about "tech innovation" VHS? Weither it's your favourite movie taped off TV, or produced commercially. Content produced by the content industry (porn falls under this banner) drove demand. The people with their camcorders, and burners came after the "tech innovations" took off, not before.

MTV Cribs (1)

RasendeRutje (829555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960710)

I recently saw some unknown-to-me-big-shot rapper, and yes, this guy was nearly starving from hunger... all because of you guys pirating het music. We need to save those rappers! Do not copy their music!

Will this be the silver bullet? (1)

Rajian (895700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960740)

On a related note, right after the decision by the US Supreme Court the Economist.com (Global agenda) penend a very well written perspective on the decision. ( Click here [economist.com] to read it.) They conclude the article by stating that, "19% of downloads, involving about 7m individuals, now happen through someone else's iPod or MP3 player." and, "around 28% take place via email" and wonder if this decision will indeed be the "silver bullet" that the music industry has been seeking. I am not so sure but it will sure slow things down.

The trouble with copyright, and a possible solutio (4, Interesting)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960816)

There is a lot of crud in the air when it comes to copyrights. I think it's important to air these things:
1) Artists create in a vacuum. The act of creation is a mystical experience above ordinary humans.
2) Without long copyrights, there would be no incentives for creators to create, leaving us with a dull and lifeless society.

One is at the heart of a lot of publishing group propaganda. Of course, all of us create art. Most of it isn't very good, but we all create, from doodles, to humming, to solid prose and moving music. We are often spurred to create by other art. Art influences art. This doesn't mean just immitations, but also reactions, remixes, rebuttals.

Two is in the head of a lot of artists. At some level, I can't blame them. No one wants their hard work exploited. But I will point out that art was created before copyright legislation. The need to create and share went before the profit. Also, copyright and extensions to copyright have ever been pushed by the publishers, from the Statute of Anne onward. The idea is very mercantilist -- provide a monopoly to encourage production. It isn't terribly modern.

There are modern ways to approach the problem of compensating artists. I think the current roadblock is the publishing industry. They say they serve to both reward good creators and silence bad ones, so as to not choke up the public mide with poor ideas. People are perfectly capable of culling what they like from what they don't, and can use social networking to filter out content they don't want. The internet has made this a solvable problem. As for compensating artists, there are ideas like the Street Busker Protocol, where instead of a publisher, an escrow keeps things honest.

The link I used to have has died, so here's a brief run-down:

For the purpose of this, our artists is a writer, and she has just written a novel. She encrypts the novel and sends it to an escrow. She works out that she wants $200,000 dollars to release the key to the novel so that it can be read. The escrow will take a small cut and will solicit buyers for a set period of time, say 60 days. The writer sets about promoting her new work. She can release teaser chapters, related short stories, go on late night TV, whatever. Meanwhile, the public can offer up contributions online to get the key. The escrow holds all of the money. If, at the end of 60 days, the novel hasn't attracted 200k in contributions, the contributions are returned, and the writer must start again. If the goal is met, the writer is paid as soon as she releases the key.

Yeah, right... (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960819)

The Supreme Court has somewhat reluctantly clipped the wings of copyright pirates; it is time for Congress to do the same to the copyright incumbents.

Yeah, I'm sure Congress is going to get right on that. No doubt they'll reverse their current trend of supporting big business because of this article.

Copyright terms and vicious cycles (1)

cpeikert (9457) | more than 9 years ago | (#12960826)

I'm sure I'm not the first to have thought of this idea, but it seems to me that the length of copyright is an unstable equilibrium. Here's why:

For a given term length, a creator can anticipate how much revenue he is likely to earn before his copyright expires. This dictates the amount of investment he can afford to put into his work. If the term is long enough to allow him large profits, he gains wealth and influence to have the term extended. Longer terms lead to larger investments in future works, greater profits, more influence, and still longer terms. The effect is bigger and bigger budgets for works.

Conversely, if the length of the term is too low, investment in works will be low, and fewer works will be created, especially those that would require large budgets. Copyright terms stay low, or even decrease due to lack of lobbying powers.

Copyright law should aim to hit the "sweet-spot" where things stay stable. Of course, this is impossible: minor variations in the economics of production will push the pendulum to one extreme or another. Decreasing publication costs, for example, would increase profits and start the vicious cycle.

Of course, all of this assumes a very money-driven view of whether and how works are created, i.e. that works are created primarily to make money. If investment in a work is not tied to its potential monetary returns (that stem directly from a copyright monopoly), we'd still see works being created. I think Open Source is a good example of this phenomenon. Some people do it for the love; large companies do it to demonstrate expertise and cultivate service contracts.

In short, wherever the economic model allows decent profits in the absence of a government-enforced monopoly, copyright and similar monopolies should be heavily restricted. This seems to be the case for software and other intangibles. However, when the only method to recoup investments is through monopoly (and this claim should be heavily contested), copyright and patents, etc. are a bit more reasonable. Perhaps pharmaceuticals would fall into this category (at least today).

Reasonable article and then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12960916)

Publishers should therefore need fewer, not more, property rights to protect their investment.

Huh? Copyright has nothing to do with property rights, if people don't understand that they need to shut up. If I copyright my garden, it prevents people copying the design not squatting.

minus 3, TrolAl) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12961028)

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