Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Intellectual Property Discussion in the Classroom?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the examples-that-provoke-thought dept.

135

Nick M asks: "I'm a TA for a Computer Ethics course at Lehigh University. My professor is currently in China, and I'm charged with the task of teaching the chapter on Intellectual Property. I have read the book (Cyberethics, Spinello, 3rd Ed.), and can see that this could be the most boring 75 minutes of their lives. What topics, examples and questions do you think would stimulate a heated discussion on intellectual property rights which would display the complexities of both sides of the issue?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

the guy who invented intermittent windshield wiper (5, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595208)

This [forbes.com] could be a good starting point (an article listing some pioneers in inventions, and some of their fates).

Also, this article [theautochannel.com] is a synopsis of Robert Kearns' battle with Ford over his IP/patent rights for the invention of the intermittent windshield wiper.

Re:the guy who invented intermittent windshield wi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595472)

What topics, examples and questions do you think would stimulate a heated discussion on intellectual property rights

"Copyright violation is stealing". It leads to all kinds of false excuses why this is not case and it's all bad to make the students pay for their games and software and ensures long-lasting fun for the lecturer.

Re:the guy who invented intermittent windshield wi (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596322)

Well, I think it's better to stay clear of the established arguments and get students to work out their own positions. The shrill responses of both sides really isn't helpful. Build up from the bottom along the lines of:

1. What are the goals of an information economy? What do we want to achieve?
2. Why does copyright exist in the first place? - the incentive model of IP, the programmers must eat argument. Does this incentive actually work?
3. To what extent does IP protection devalue the information it protects?
4. Comparison of protected and unprotected copyright systems.
5. Alternative models of incentivising production.

If YOU created some IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16597332)

Would you want it taken from you?
That question leads to three possibilities:
Richard Stallman, who gives and takes
The average person who sells and buys
Microsoft, which steals and sells
How can you not argue about that?

Re:the guy who invented intermittent windshield wi (2, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597506)

And maybe also debunking some of the copyright myths :)

- For instance: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart indeed was dying poor, but not because of missing protection of his works: He just spent too much money. Michael Jackson is also broke, and he has the full protection of copyrights ;) W.A.Mozart's widow Konstanze later one was well off because of the money coming in from her late husbands work, also without current copyrights.

- Copyright in the U.S. at first protected only works of U.S. origin. British works like the novels from Charles Dickens were printed in the U.S. without permission from Charles Dickens or his editor, and only when the first U.S. writers like Mark Twain became famous all over the world (not that he was the first U.S. writer. Just one of the first becoming famous outside of the U.S.), and British printers started to print their works, the U.S. agreed to expand copyright protection also to non U.S. citizens.

- Most developing nations with a strong economic growth have to deal with accusations of mistreating intellectual property. It was so with the U.S. in the mid-19th century, with Japan after WWII, later with Taiwan and now China. The time when protections like patents, copyrights and trademarks get fully developed is often correlated with a new period of a more "normal" economic growth. But at that point the developing nations often have accumulated enough own IP they consider worth protecting. Knowledge that has not a single entity to be attributed to, like old folk myths, songs, traditions, medical treatments, never gets protected, and is considered free for plundering by everyone.

fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595210)

blahblahblah

First thing to remember (2, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595222)

Make sure none of the students is able to carry out any of the classroom handouts unless each page is clearly marked with a copyright warning on both sides.

Re:First thing to remember (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595444)

Don't forget signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The longest one I ever signed was 16 pages for IBM.

Re:First thing to remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596080)

"The longest one I ever signed was 16 pages for IBM."

Dude -- that is sooooo way fucked. I would have looked at it and told them that if they weren't willing to work with me on trust, they should never hire me in the first place because no piece of paper is going to make up for their loss of revenue nor your reputation.

And that's exactly what I tell clients.

So far, I have worked with both Microsoft and Apple on a few projects. Each time, I was contacted and asked for by name (and they paid my university for my time away, which helps directly fund my lab).

I have never signed a NDA, nor do I plan on it in the future. The only time I've ever seen it demanded was from companies that had nothing to begin with, but somehow wanted to take your ideas away from you just in case you can find something better. Unfortunately, that is my job, to find a better way of doing things. I can't sign away my future livelihood.

The big guys usually talk it over with their lawyers and then get back to me in a few days offering more money and asking me nicely to sign it, to which I ask them which part of I Do Not Sign NDAs Under Any Circumstance, and then about a week or two later asking when I can get there (and no mention of the NDA).

Your reputation is worth much more than this. Anyone that signs these things are either stupid or desperate. Personally, I'd rather be considered desperate.

Note: my work with the companies mentioned were publicly noted by the very same companies. I won't even mention those that have not.

Re:First thing to remember (3, Funny)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596660)

Don't forget signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The longest one I ever signed was 16 pages for IBM.

Dude, did you not read page 15, paragraph 5, sub-bullet A(1):
You shall not disclose the length of this Non-Disclosure Agreement to any third party.

You are SO gonna get sued!

Re:First thing to remember (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599150)

How do we know it was actually 16 pages? Perhaps we're just being deceived.

Re:First thing to remember (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596692)

Actually there are some great lessons there to be taught. If there are to be handouts that day post them to a website, and inform the students. On the day of class ask if anybody brought the notes for the class, invariably someone will have printed them out. Then you can start talking about copyright.

complexities on both sides? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595274)

Don't take people's IP without their permission. Class dismissed. You all can thank me for saving you 74 minutes of your lives.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595560)

The very idea of IP is immoral and inane. As such, you have a moral obligation to ignore it. Class dismissed.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1, Flamebait)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595782)

I see. so you werent planning on any drugs being discovered in future, any big budget movies being made, or any major pieces of commercial software ever being made ever again?
nice policy, pity it spells the total death of the worlds economy, and probably kicks 90% of slashdot readers out of work.
Class dismissed.

Go on, mod me down because you want to find a way to justify taking other peoples hard work. Its the slashdot way.

Re:complexities on both sides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595924)

That's nice, except he said "IP" [slashdot.org] was immoral and inane. He never made mention of the copyright, patents, trademarks or trade secrets you seem to think he did.

Re:complexities on both sides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596238)

That's nice, except those are all forms of "intellectual property."

Re:complexities on both sides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596376)

No they're loosely related tho totally seperate areas of law that have nothing to do with property. Follow the links and use a dictionary [reference.com] to look up any words you don't understand.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596662)

I see. so you werent planning on any drugs being discovered in future, any big budget movies being made, or any major pieces of commercial software ever being made ever again?

Proof by Assertion [wikipedia.org] is a logical fallacy.

Go on, mod me down because you want to find a way to justify taking other peoples hard work. Its the slashdot way.

You deserve to be modded down because your post is worthless.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598358)

More like proof by elaboration. Au Matar's post is half-way worthless because he states his stance/philosophy without any reasons why s/he said that.

Bunions post has the same problem.

Cliffski's post actually has reasons and examples for preserving IP. NOT a worthless post.

Your logic is worthless. Good link though.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598714)

More like proof by elaboration.

There is no elaboration. There is no evidence. There isn't even an argument. Merely a list of conclusions which are assumed to be true because the poster states they are true. A textbook example of Proof By Assertion.

Cliffski's post actually has reasons and examples for preserving IP. NOT a worthless post.

I am searching this post [slashdot.org] in vain for even the slightest shred of evidence to support:

so you werent planning on any drugs being discovered in future, any big budget movies being made, or any major pieces of commercial software ever being made ever again?
nice policy, pity it spells the total death of the worlds economy, and probably kicks 90% of slashdot readers out of work.

But there isn't any. Which is fairly standard from the "don't steal music" crowd, so it's to be expected, but I'm curious as to why you think there's something there apart from Chicken Little-esque alarmism.

Re:complexities on both sides? (2, Informative)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598920)

Because you are apparently incapable of seeing the dots that were connected to arrive at those conclusions? Those are the arguments.

I'll break it down for you in baby bites.

If IP isn't respected, it won't be profittable for corporations to spend multi-millions discovering new drugs, or making big budget movies, or writing hugely complicated commercial software.

Now there are obvious counter-arguments that governments and philanthropists could fund the drug research. The counter-counter argument is that's unlikely to happen with the same magnitude of university-corporate research.

The counter-argument to the software is using open-source. Except again, production is unlikely to match the output of businesses when profit is the motive instead of altruism.

For the movies, sure there is funding for the arts and filmmaking, but I don't see any government ever paying for the production of Terminator 4.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

brisey (1003269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599266)

well said. id hate to live in a country where we only had state-sponsored movies, software and music. some such countries exist, one which comes to mind is north korea. possibly proof that the concept will work, but im guessng that the anti-ip poster has a hard drive full of western music and TV shows, rather than the excellent output of the peoples republic. capitalism is the best system we have so far to decide what gets made. the anti-ip pro-piracy crowd want all the content that capitalism provides, without putting in any work to get it. such people would generally be called leeches or freeloaders.

Corporations discovering new drugs (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601312)

If IP isn't respected, it won't be profittable for corporations to spend multi-millions discovering new drugs

I'd like to quote a bit of page 99 of Naomi Klein's No Logo if I may (hopefully I may, otherwise I guess I'll be sued next):

Dr. Dong's study compared the effectiveness of Boots' thyroid drug, Synthroid, with a generic competitor... The two drugs were bio-equivalent, a fact that represented a potential saving of $365 million a year for the eight million Americans who were taking the brand-name drug... Boots successfully halted publication of the article.

And on the next page:

[In a similar case] researchers found that [a different] drug being tested might actually be harmful to patients... When Olivieri found evidence that, in some cases, the drug might have life-threatening side effects, she wanted to warn the patients participating in the trial and to alert other doctors in her field. Apotex pulled the plug on the study and threatened to sue Olivieri if she went public.

Maybe corporations don't have public interests at heart?

Re:complexities on both sides? (2, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599022)

hmmm, i didnt think it was neccesaru to spell out the obvious but apparently it is.

drugs companies will not invest ten million dollars in a new drug if that drug is trivially copied the next day by a rival who spends zero on development. To do so, would be to effectivly just cripple you own competitiveness, and drive yourself out of business by increased relative costs. This is not rocket science.

the concept of IP is absolutely necesary because it is the ONLY viable way of ensuring that research and development costs of a product can be recouped by those who front up the cash.
99% of people with even a basic grasp of economics understand this. I look forward to you explaining to me how drugs companies will invest money in a product in a situation where IP rights did not exist. I won't hold my breath though, seeing as though it appears that all the major drugs companies investing money in research are firm defenders of their IP. SOme might suggest that the need for IP is flipping obvious, others could point to the fact that those doing the investment defend their IP (and conclude quite logically that they would not invest without a gurantee that their ip is defended).
I'm sure you find this post 'worthless' and 'flamebait' because it doesnt justify you illegally copying music. I guess it doesnt matter if we dont get new pharmaceutical research, as long as your ipod hard disk is full huh?

Re:complexities on both sides? (2, Funny)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600612)

I was going to hold back and use some mod point in this thread until I read that dribble...

Drug companies have no incentive to create cures. Plain and simple. If they were to create drugs that eliminated disease, then they would be putting themselves out of business.

I'm sure you find this post 'worthless' and 'flamebait' because it doesnt justify you illegally copying music. I guess it doesnt matter if we dont get new pharmaceutical research, as long as your ipod hard disk is full huh?

Yes, I do consider it flaimbait; and I am taking it, hook, line and sinker. IP only encourages pharmaceutical research to create long term revenue streams... no cure for AIDS (or any other terminal disease) The only thing created is a pill that the victim of disease must continue to take for the rest of their life... hence... long term revenue stream. This is not humane, it is inhumane.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600728)

> IP only encourages pharmaceutical research to create long term revenue streams... no cure for AIDS (or any other terminal disease)

I can't even start to fathom what the mind that thinks this is like. Genentech came up with a goddamn cure for some kind of cancer a while back for fucks sake. Not to mention, oh, I don't know, all the other goddamn extinct diseases like smallpox, polio and lord knows what else.

Cures are hard. (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601092)

The other thing to consider is that in medicine, there are very few easy cures to disease. Too many people think that the world is like Star Trek or something where if you give Bones 15 minutes in MedLab, he can cure anything. But this is not really in sync with reality. One thing to consider is viral diseases. So far as I'm aware, there does not exist a cure to any viral disease known to Man. Things like smallpox? We got rid of those with vaccination, before the fact. Take other things besides disease - say, depression. That's a chemical imbalance in the brain. You can take some drugs to treat it - but what would you need to do a cure? Is there some magical surgery they could do to make your brain start producing more of the right neurotransmitters in a few million cells?

Just keep this sort of stuff in mind, and be realistic... and don't go off about the eeeeevil drug companies trying to enslave us to their treatments.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600990)

There's economics on both sides. In the worst cases, intellectual property turns into a form of what economists term rent seeking - people trying to get an uncompensated transfer of wealth from others in society to themselves, using the government. Around Slashdot, people will often refer to some of these as "patent trolls". The other thing to consider is this. There are positive externalities to the production of intellectual material (technical, knowledge, cultural, whatever)- and this is why we attempt to install a structure which will enable a company or other entity to profit from the creation of this material: copyrights, patents. However, while that structure remains in place, the positive externalities associated with this knowledge are largely unrealized.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16602894)

No, my post was a mockery of the OP, in an attempt to show him the ridiculousness of his post. While I do think that the current copyright/patent/etc law have gotten to the point that we'd be better off with no such system than with the current system, its not as open and shut as class dismissed. In my idea world, things would go like this:

trademarks: not needed, if you try to pretend you're some other products, you're commiting fraud. If you aren't, then there's no problem
trade secrets: not needed, should be handled by NDAs and contract law
patents: all patents should be forced RAND licensed. Only physical devices may be patented, and strict adherence to non-obviousness. If you file for an obvious patent, you're blocked from applying for any other patent for 5 years. Patent length proportional to R&D cost/profit per year, with licensing revenue as part of profits. Lieing on the R&D cost to extend its life gets you 20 years in prison for the people who applied for the patent, and every link up the chain including the corporations CEO and board.
copyright: applies only to commercial copies (personal use and sharing legal). Lasts 3 years. If you can't make a profit in that time, you're unlikely to ever make a profit- how many movies/books/albums really become popular more than 3 years after release?

So, anyone want to donate to my PAC?

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595844)

But what counts as "taking"? What falls under fair use and what doesn't? How many people do I have to invite to my showing of a movie such that it is no longer a private viewing? When can I make copies for educational purposes without paying fees?

Just because you're ignoring the complexities doesn't mean they're not there.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596412)

Did you get permission from the person who first said that before you parrotted it?

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599120)

wow what cutting debate. how dare he suggest that people be paid for their work. the fool! I guess because other people have said the same thing before, you feel the point cannot be valid.
As usual, anone attacking people who believe in the concept of IP owners being paid gets modded up like some insightfull genius. how tragic.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600334)

hey cliff, how ya doin'
I see you still think treating ideas as property is the *only way for people to get paid for their work.
you might also note I wasn't modded at all. oh well

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600636)

> you might also note I wasn't modded at all. oh well

Slashdot: We take votes on the truth.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596476)

Don't take people's IP without their permission. Class dismissed. You all can thank me for saving you 74 minutes of your lives.

I agree with you 100%, that this is a simple issue and we shouldn't take people's IP without their permission, now we just have the amazing semantic problem of what it means to take something that is (essentially) a thought.

Now I think we can all agree that listening to an artists music on the radio would not be immoral, but what about if we record that show (commercials and all)? How about if we lend that recording to a friend? How about if we sell the recording at the cost to produce it? How about if we sell it at a profit? How about if we create a computer program that eliminates the comercials so we don't have to listen to them? How about if we lend this commercial free version of the recording to our friend? How about if we sell it for the cost to produce this recording and eliminate the comercials? How about if we sell this recording at a profit?

I think most people will agree that many of the issues I presented were wrong, and many other issues were fine (with some being a grey area) and this was a very simple example; when you start mixing issues from different areas of IP you get an ugly jumble (consider that in music "sampling" another person's recording is acceptable, now would it be acceptable to "sample" another person's program or algorithm in software developmen? Why?).

IP is probably the most complicated product that a person can own in legal, ethical and moral terms because it is a product that doesn't physically exist. I expect that it will take our society decades (or centuries) to come to some sort of consensus on what it means to take IP.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596768)

would it be acceptable to "sample" another person's program or algorithm in software developmen?
That depends on whether or not the software is patented. OK, maybe not, but here's my thoughts. My biggest problem with software patents is that software gets the quadruple threat of IP protection.
  • First, there's copyright, which says you can't copy it (source or binary) without my permission.
  • Then there's Patents, which state that you can't copy the functionality of my program.
  • Then, there's Trade Secrets, which allows me to keep the source closed, and protect how my program actually works. Which is weird that it can be combined with a patent. I'm not aware of any software patents that provide full source code disclosure, even though a patent is supposed to disclose how the invention works. Please correct me if i'm wrong about this.
  • And Finally there's trademarks, which means that you can't call your program the same thing as mine, even if they have completely unrelated functionality.
All these protections on software set it apart from anything else in the world. As far as I know, no other form of intellectual property is privy to these 4 methods of legal protection.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597822)

Unfortunately, you are combining a bunch of stuff which has very little to do with each other.

Yes, copyright protection allows the limitation of distributing unathorized copies. Nothing much about copying, just about distribution.

Patent protection is about a concept, not a specific implementation. So the idea of "source disclosure" doesn't really apply - you aren't patenting a specific piece of software but patenting the idea that the software is making use of it.

Trade secret is the traditional means of protecting software and the concepts behind them. It has worked since the 1960's and has many less onerous issues when compared to patents and the like.

Trademarks... well, in general the courts have taken the attitude that conflicts that are designed to mislead are bad and conflicts that have little opportunity to mislead are not violations. Therefore it would be extremely difficult to have issues with calling a bicycle "Windows" but if you wanted to have a Linux distribution called Windows there would be little mistaking what the intent was.

I would prefer even more strenuous enforcement of trademarks. I think a registrar that accepts the registration for a domain name that clearly is intended to mislead should be fined out of existance. I think a Chinese company that imports a product with a name clearly designed to mislead people into believing it is made by someone else should be banned from exporting anything for 20 years. I'm sure you can come up with some more examples like this.

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596776)


Now I think we can all agree that listening to an artists music on the radio would not be immoral, but what about if we record that show (commercials and all)? How about if we lend that recording to a friend? How about if we sell the recording at the cost to produce it? How about if we sell it at a profit? How about if we create a computer program that eliminates the comercials so we don't have to listen to them? How about if we lend this commercial free version of the recording to our friend? How about if we sell it for the cost to produce this recording and eliminate the comercials? How about if we sell this recording at a profit?


I said "Don't take people's IP without their permission." So my answer to all of those is "if you have the authors permission to do so."

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597488)

saving you 74 minutes
74 minutes... the amount of music you can burn to a standard CD-R. I sense a conspiracy!

Re:complexities on both sides? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598228)

What about the other side? What about what I should allow people to do with MY ip? What about a service like Turnitin which takes the copyright of a student's paper? What about situations where musicians say, "Sure, do whatever you want with my music" but the record company says, "no, it is ours now?"

What about the situation where, I as an academic am at least partially paid by a university to publish papers? Most academic publishers will take the copyright of my work if they publish it (despite the fact that a lot of academic journals are ran by academic organizations which are created by the academics themselves) then the publishers sell access to my paper (along with all the other papers they have published) to a company like Ebsco which sells access to their database of articles to universities. So my university has paid me to write, but then has to pay a company in order to get access to the article which they paid me to write in the first place.
Then there is the fact that if I want to use that article as the basis for a book, I have to ask, "Can I please, please use my own article which you didn't even pay me for?" because I no longer own my own ip. While it is the common practice for journals to allow this, I'd rather not rely on the graciousness of a company to let me the work which I created.

(Of course one may argue that I shouldn't have given them my IP in the first place, but the whole tenure system in most academic institutions favors publishing. So if I want to keep my job, the institution of higher learning is indirectly insisting that I give away my IP to some other company which will then charge them to get access to it again.)

Materials © 2006 (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595280)

Just dose the class up with Rohypnol.

Afterwards, you can claim fact that the course you gave was, in facty, stunning, but that due to licensing constraints, the students weren't allowed to take a copy of the information away with them.

Re:Materials © 2006 (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595540)

but Rohypnol is roofies, and is used as a daterape drug. So all the students would just be near passed out, unless you were implying that this TA have fun with the passed out students who match his/her sexual preference. . . I Think it would be more fun, and slightly less letcherous if it was ecstasy or acid, though assuming that they are indeed university/college students they'd probably have built up a chemical tolerance...

Re:Materials © 2006 (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16602206)

They'd just assume they'd fallen asleep, and couldn't remember the lecture.

After all, it's not unlike students to sleep through lectures.

A favour to ask (4, Funny)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595288)

Sorry, I don't have any great ideas on what to put in an intellectual property lecture.

But would you be able to ask your professor to bring back bootleg copies of X-Men 3 and Microsoft Office for me? Thanks!

If these are computer students (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595408)

Just role play a common shareware marketing mistake.

Music (2, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595452)

Students love music, and it's a hotbed of IP issues, with sampling (play excerpts of a few rap tracks and the songs they sample from at the start of the lecture for dramatic effect), the split between copyright of the song and the recording of the song, moral objections to the RIAA's music copyright cartel, atrists rights, copyright extension, airplay fees vs payola, rights to make cover versions and parodies, the right not to have derogatory cover versions, the 'happy birthday' copyright fiasco, the way Tony Blair just accepted a free holiday on Cliff Richard's private tropical Island just before the music business is going to push for a Disney-style copyright extension over here to keep Cliff's early work in copyright... I could go on... for at least 75 minutes!

Re:Music (4, Interesting)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595726)

Replying to my own post with suggested examples...

Play the class a few bars of "Pretty fly for a white guy" by Offspring - specifically the part that includes the words "Gunter glieben glauchen globen".

Ask the class if you owe Offspring money because you used their work? Lead into 'fair use' exemptions.

Play Def Leppard's song "Rock of Ages" - specifically the part that offspring sampled the words "Gunter glieben glauchen globen" from. Ask the class if Offspring owe Def Leppard money? Lead into the way both artists signed their copyrights away.

Play "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi". Ask the class if he owes Offspring money, and if Offspring should have the right to say "no don't mess with our song".

Re:Music (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596612)

I certainly don't know this music (*sigh* getting old) but wikipedia seems to think the "gunter glieben glauchen globen" ownership [wikipedia.org] goes the other way:
The line "Gunter glieben glauchen globen" at the start of "Rock Of Ages" came about when Lange uttered the phrase after getting bored of saying "one, two, three, four" in the studio. The band thought it to be so amusing that it ended up on intro of the final recording. The phrase is not proper German and actually doesn't mean anything. The line was later used by punk band The Offspring as the intro on their 1998 single Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)

Re:Music (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596994)

Err... that's the way I suggested it went!

Re:Music (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600386)

yikes! you are right (again, even). Seemed backwards to me the first time I read it, after googling for the quoted phrase to see what it meant.

Re:Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596178)

> Students love music, and it's a hotbed of IP issues, with sampling (play excerpts of a few rap tracks and the songs they sample from at the start of the lecture for dramatic effect)

My favorite sample-based parody of all time: Dan Rather, as sampled by Evolution Control Committee, with backbeat from AC/DC -- Rocked by Rape [evolution-control.com] . MP3s freely available at that link, as provided by the artist.

On a par with Negativland's "U2" album, or "The Motorcade Sped On". Bonus points to ECC for their suggestion, as part of the track, that the purpose of the exercise wasn't just to do the sampling, nor to mock mainstream media's sensationalistic take on everything, but that the listener had a responsibility to create his or her own version using the raw samples on the other side of the record.

look at www.groklaw.net for issues of the day (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595536)

Take a look at www.groklaw.net for the current issues of the day. There is lots of discussion over the corporate slime-balls who are unethical, even if their actions are not provably illegal(yet). Take a good look at the page for Microsoft [groklaw.net] and discuss the methods employed for dealing with their competition.

Natural Right Versus Common Good (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595618)

The most common and fundamental disagreement I hear with regard to intellectual property ethics is a disagreement about why people have intellectual property rights and to what degree they should have them. Most educated individuals understand in abstract terms that intellectual property rights are artificial rights, granted in an effort to engineer a greater common good by restricting the rights of "consumers" for the profit of "creators." A fair number, however, do nto yet grasp this concept and most do not really understand how it applies in the real world.

I'd use books as an example. Bring in a really new book and a really old book. Ask the class if it is ethical for them to make copies of each for various purposes and why. By using a very old book (the bible, shakespeare, or the like) you can demonstrate the harm to society of restricting free access to copying works. By showing a new book you can demonstrate the value to society for legally restricting access to a work for a short time in order to motivate progress.

Then ask the class to create the ideal copyright system that maximizes the benefit to society while minimizing the harm to society. You can do this same exercise with patents, trade secrets, or trademarks too, but copyright is one of the easiest to understand. Aspects of copyright law discuss, how long the monopoly should last, what conditions should invalidate it, what exceptions should be made (fair use, noncommercial?), opt-in verus opt-out, and if reference copies should be kept.

If you want a good and interesting anecdote, look to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" which was a box office flop and would never have reached the public or had the copyright not expired and PBS subsequently aired it. It illustrates well the concept that works are often not recognized as valuable to society by copyright holders or the general public until long after they are initially offered to the people.

I hope you can take some ideas from what I've written here. Good luck.

Natural Right Versus Common Censorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595848)

"Most educated individuals understand in abstract terms that intellectual property rights are artificial rights, granted in an effort to engineer a greater common good by restricting the rights of "consumers" for the profit of "creators." A fair number, however, do nto yet grasp this concept and most do not really understand how it applies in the real world."

You do realize that the first copyright (queen anne) had nothing to do with commerce?

Re:Natural Right Versus Common Censorship. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596266)

You do realize that the first copyright (queen anne) had nothing to do with commerce?

Umm, copyright, under other names, long predates the Statute of Anne, which actually replaces a stationers' legal monopoly on printing of books. The statute to which you refer certainly had a lot to do with commercial interests.

It's a mad, mad, world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595642)

"What topics, examples and questions do you think would stimulate a heated discussion on intellectual property rights which would display the complexities of both sides of the issue?""

I'm sorry. Did you just ask SLASHDOT! about a balanced look at IP?

Ask them (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595648)

first, it would be good to see what they think about intellectual property. What do they think it is?
I would teach the class based on the current topics: file sharing, copyright extension (make sure that they understand the differences between copyright and trademark) public domain, gpl's philosphy. But also bring up issues such as Turnitin.com which has been discussed here (i'm too lazy to look it up) and the fact that this is a business founded on taking student's intellectual property. I wouldn't be afraid to introduce them to copyfighting, copyleft, or creative commons.
Ask them who benifits from ownership of intellectual property, who is supposed to benifit and who actually does benifit.
Show them one of those commercials that say downloading music is stealing and ask them if copyright infringement is the same as stealing.
If they are college students they are undoubtably familiar with downloading music films and programs. A discussion of the ethics of that would be an excellent place to start.

This is a good start: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16595662)

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/not-ipr.xhtml [fsf.org]

You can teach them that "intellectual property" is actually a vicious malapropism.

Tell them what they're allowed to do (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595834)

If you really want to get their attention, make sure you run down all of the stuff Fair Use and Copyright allows you to do. The chances are good that at least some of the kids will be hit with a Cease and Desist for doing something that is actually legal at some point in their lives. If they know the law they can be in much better shape than they would be otherwise. Sampling of music for instance is a good topic area to cover, as is parody, and educational use. Make sure you stress the importance of the public domain and why neverending (or exceedingly long) copyrights are such a bad idea. Remember that the work of the greats was built on the shoulders of everyone who came before them, overly restrictive copyright laws stifle innovation in the long run. The Public Domain is probably the most important resource the world has.

Discuss Section 8 (3, Insightful)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595934)

In the United States the, Congress has the authority to create patents and copyrights under Section 8 of the Constitution:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

(emphasis mine)


Allowing one to profit from his effort is certainly a method of promoting progress. But absurdly long copyright or patent terms promote coasting, not progress - a fact that our legislators seem to have ignored.

Re:Discuss Section 8 (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16602434)

Actually the US recently extended patent protection in order to match international patent laws. Another issue with patents, particularly drugs, is that by the time they go through FDA approval half of the life of the patent is already gone. There probably should be different lengths of patents for different types of technology. With IT, in a number of cases by the patent is approved the technology is no longer relevant. I will not try to say that the patent system is perfect, but having an international standard is very useful when trying to develop a product and much better than each country having its own laws (although many still vary widely).

Copyrights are an entirely differnt matter and I don't really know enough about them to hae an opinion. All that I know is that if I put a copyright symbol on a document and have a way to prove the date of publication I am supposedly protected under US law (if the it is eith written in the US, published in the US, or written by an American). I don't know the duration or anything else.

Teach them that IP is misleading as a term (1)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16595944)

Teach them about copyright, patents, trademarks, and service marks. Teach the intended purpose and the modern day usage. Intellectual property implies this silly notion that someone can own an idea like property, it is not property but an artificial monopoly enforced by laws.

Please... someone teach them. They are not the same thing and they are *NOT* about how to make sure you paid or that you have some right to get paid. It is about giving people protections by law to encourage innovation in a world where otherwise people would not vest money into items which offered no or little return, at least in theory (another topic all together).

please teach these .... (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596004)

Re:please teach these .... (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601376)

Don't flatter yourself...

Fair Use, Copyright Terms, and Sharing (2, Interesting)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596206)

Item 1: Fair Use - When is it OK to hack a DVD?
-------------------

If I wanted to do a report on the cultural influence of Star Wars, would it be OK to download from the Internet a screen capture of the Death Star to compare to the AT&T logo, also downloaded?

Would it be OK to break the encryption on a DVD to get a picture of the Death Star to compare to the AT&T logo?

What about the sounds that Jar Jar Binks makes versus an historical African American portrayal such as Gone with the Wind? Can I get those?

What about a video of his walk when compared to the same figures walking or dancing? Can I get those?

Does the law allow this? (DMCA - probably not)

Item 2: What about copyright terms in different countries?
--------------------

IIRC Australia has a 50 year limit on copyright. Is it OK for an Australian to post for free scans of 51 year old books on the Internet?

What about 51 year old movies? 51 year old songs?

Is it OK to listen to those songs in the USA or Canada?

Should the ISP block that access?

Who gets to decide what's on that block list?

Item 3: Sharing - Where do we draw the line?
---------------------

Is it OK to make a mix CD or mix tape for a friend?

Is it OK to rip a CD to make MP3s on my computer?

How many copies of those MP3s can I make for personal use?

Is it OK to keep the MP3s if my original CDs are destroyed in a fire?

Is it OK to make a mix CD with some of my friend's MP3 songs and some of mine?

Is it OK for both of us to back up that CD as MP3s?

Is it OK to mix my entire MP3 collection with my friend's entire MP3 collection?

Is it OK to do that with everyone I meet on the Internet?

Is it OK to do each of these things with movies?

Re:Fair Use, Copyright Terms, and Sharing (1)

crackedmobius (1011051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597442)

This is an excellent list of questions, and I think it would serve well after a 5 or 10 minute introduction to the topic. In fact, these questions would do well even in the early parts of a course in IP. Having taken pretty much every IP course that my law school offers, there are a few questions on here to which I could not give a definite answer (and I'm not sure that I should try), but I would enjoy discussing nonetheless in either an academic or practical scenario. In other words, the questions are appropriate and wide-ranging. I think this list of questions would make the lecture engaging and relevant, two pedagogical necessities, and I would encourage the use of such a list in any one-time lecture on IP, especially one given from an ethics perspective to a high school class.

The Problem of infinite profit of finite work... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596308)

The negative side effects of intellectual property for society would bring a lot of good debate.

And artificial scarcity of digital goods intellectual property owners attempt to combat. When really once a company achieves a safe profit threshold on a product any piracy does not really do "hurt" them economically at all for digital goods. I think artificial scarcity is one of the biggest issues that really needs to be discussed, and the whole supply/demand economic reasoning of capitalism goes out the window with infinitely reproductive works that cost nothing to reproduce, but only cost money to PRODUCE once.

1. Is profiting too much from intellectual property theft?
2. Is profit in certain context's of intellectual property a form of theft?
3. If one could potentially generate infinite revenue from a finite amount of work using intellectual property, why or why not would this be bad for society in terms of social control of ideas and works? i.e. see indefinite Copyright extensions, etc.

Lastly, lot's of good idea's and fan projects (remakes) get killed by copyright owners who have no intention of profiting off future works of the property, and this is in fact a tremendous disservice to customers and fans who PAYED for the product. A fantastic looking Chrono trigger remake on the NET that SQUARE killed, I'm looking at you.

I do believe that the biggest problem is that when customers pay for a product they shouild gain some measure of ownership of the work and freedom for the work, after all, the success of the product occurs because of those who supported it with their hard earned money, just as much as those who produced it, both producer and customer (fan,consumer) have a stake in product. I think the whole concept of property and ownership needs serious critique and rethinking.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596572)

"1. Is profiting too much from intellectual property theft? 2. Is profit in certain context's of intellectual property a form of theft?"

One dictionary and 30 seconds at the very beginning of the class will put this question to bed very quickly.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596678)

There has been quite a bit of discussion with anti-plagerism teaching aid sites and their effect on Intellectual Property.

Is it violating IP laws to post students papers without their permission on these sites in order to prevent plagerism? In academia, which is a larger problem plagerism or IP violation? Isn't plagerism just a term to depect violating IP? Are we allowed to break a law to protect that same law? (I.e. violating IP to protect IP)

There are plenty of great questions which should relate very well to students.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598192)

When really once a company achieves a safe profit threshold on a product any piracy does not really do "hurt" them economically at all for digital goods.

Sounds like someone drank the karl marx koolaid. The basis of IP rights is not whether you've profitted sufficiently (which is impossible to measure anyway), but the advancement of the arts. By setting a bar based on how commercially successful a product is, you punish the successful and deny them the funds to do their next big thing.

Lastly, lot's of good idea's and fan projects (remakes) get killed by copyright owners who have no intention of profiting off future works of the property, and this is in fact a tremendous disservice to customers and fans who PAYED for the product.

So what if you paid for the product? If you want to do derivative works, you should first negotiate with the copyright holder. Nobody owes you anything if you do a lot of work and infringe someone's copyright, thus rendering it useless.

I do believe that the biggest problem is that when customers pay for a product they shouild gain some measure of ownership of the work and freedom for the work

Based on what? This doesn't advance the state of the art or enrich the public domain, nor was it in the contract. Are you planning to erode one of the bases of this society in order to do something because it 'feels right'?

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598688)

"Based on what? This doesn't advance the state of the art or enrich the public domain, nor was it in the contract."

There is NO contract. When something is bought, people barely understand anything beyond knowing that money gets exchanged for a good. Not to mention we're talking about intellectual works here who's supply is infinite.

"So what if you paid for the product? If you want to do derivative works, you should first negotiate with the copyright holder. Nobody owes you anything if you do a lot of work and infringe someone's copyright, thus rendering it useless."

The success of any product or business depends on those other people existing in the first place, you act like these people operate or produce in a vacuum, they do not. Take for instance if all gamers died tomorrow the game industry would go out of business, you have to realize that our current thinking about property and ownership is out of date when we consider infinite supply and negligable reproduction costs.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601396)

There is NO contract. When something is bought, people barely understand anything beyond knowing that money gets exchanged for a good.

That's a contract - goods for money.

Not to mention we're talking about intellectual works here who's supply is infinite.

Irrelevant.

The success of any product or business depends on those other people existing in the first place, you act like these people operate or produce in a vacuum, they do not.

That's how it is for everything. You haven't said anything that hasn't been true for 10,000 years.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601976)

Still, though, the decision whether to be derivative-friendly or not is, and should be, in the hands of the person who created and controls that work. If you use the stepping-stool of someone else's claimed-copyrighted work to achieve, then you have an obligation to see if they're willing to give you that boost, or else you're under the threat that they might not permit it. Them's the rules, and there's always the path of making something totally original.

Re:The Problem of infinite profit of finite work.. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598860)

"Sounds like someone drank the karl marx koolaid. The basis of IP rights is not whether you've profitted sufficiently (which is impossible to measure anyway)."

This shows me your ignorance. No it is in fact a damn important question whether someone has profited sufficiently considering the economics, of both scarce and non-scarce goods whose supply is not limited and the social effects of of what happens in markets. I'm not saying that people who produce IP should be punished or we should live in communist fairy fairy land, I understand the value of markets, but I do believe new round of thinking needs to be done on economic doctrine, the concepts of ownership, contracts, compensation, etc. You need to not let your economic knee jerk reaction of your economic doctrine color your thinking. Optimum rate of profit is not impossible to measure, in fact many serious economists look into the optimimum rate of profit and how markets operate in such ways that I have described.

Professor currently in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596316)

What a coincidence, most computer TAs only speak Chinese!

Know any economics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16596346)

Know any economics? Can you talk about externalities? Consider a Positive Externality from the production and consumption of various things (computer programs, algorithms, movies and music, literature, Culture). Is there a deadweight loss from the underproduction of these things?

Non-distinction Between Invention At Work or Home (1)

cybermage (112274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596684)

If you want a heated discussion, get into the prevailing argument that if you invent something related to your employers line of business completely on your own time it still belongs to your employer. Combine that with many employers that have intellectual property clauses as part of the employement contract under which they expect you to assign to them all rights to inventions made on your personal time even if it is not related to your business. And, the topper for that is that sometimes you won't be asked to sign over IP rights until during your orientation (this happened to me personally -- I refused and kept the job anyway.)

Play devil's advocate and side with the employers. Their arguments typically revolve around you not having sufficient knowledge of the problem space if not for your employment, therefore the work belongs to them. It's your basic fruit-from-the-poison-tree argument: Even if your work is entirely on your time, you used our intellectual property as the basis for the work. Also, an employee is hard pressed to make the argument that they didn't spend part of their time at work thinking about the work they were doing at home.

Re:Non-distinction Between Invention At Work or Ho (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598066)

Their arguments typically revolve around you not having sufficient knowledge of the problem space if not for your employment, therefore the work belongs to them. It's your basic fruit-from-the-poison-tree argument

Of course, there's a presumption that knowledge of the field in general is not specific to a single employer, so it isn't really valid to say that. Put another way, if that argument was allowed, then the employer could prevent you from seeking employment based on experience with them, since you wouldn't have that either if you didn't work there.

Re:Non-distinction Between Invention At Work or Ho (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16602042)

This is something, though, which should be negotiated in employment contracts. This is talking out my ass here, but I don't believe that there're any states in the US (your nation may vary, void where prohibited, see law for details) that implicitly consider off-clock/off-site work as "work for hire". This is less a matter of copyright as an issue of you freely signing away your rights in an employment contract.

umm... anything? (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#16596930)

I'm in a college CS ethics class right now, and the day we talked about IP was one of the most interesting days we had. The teacher barely had to say anything, and the class took the discussion from there. I think that most CS students tend to care/know a lot about IP. If you have any slashdot readers in your class, then you're also in pretty good shape because they will probably bring up some good examples.

On the other hand, if you are just planning lecturing about the law and what defines IP for 75 minutes, then you are in for a rough ride. Give an outline of what is IP and what is not and let the class take it form there. I gave a presentation on the Professor who sold lectures [slashdot.org] which really started some good discussion regardless of what your school's policy is on the subject.

Re:umm... anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16598552)

Do this! Students have opinions, and classes where they can duke it out a little are almost always fun. However, if you don't feel comfortable with the intricacies of the law, find a Communications Law or a Business Law professor to come sit in on the class. Tell that prof that they won't have to teach per se, but that you'd like to have them as a reference for what the law is in these areas, should the class need it.

Make sure to point out that there are growing alternatives to possibly infringing activities: if you have what seems to be a complex problem and can't afford the complex software to solve it, sure you'll look for a free equivalent but maybe you can rework the problem as well. You want to listen to music but don't have money? Use Internet radio (or terrestrial _if you're into that_), check out mp3 blogs (grey area, yes, but the provider of the material is usually legally responsible for the material. Of course, this paves into the ethics part).

On that note, don't just talk about IP the whole time. Talk about business vs. quality. Is there any definition of whether, when coding, you should do the cheapest and fastest solution and when you should do the solution that best allows for future debugging/growth/feature addition/etc? Or when to go with a cheap & easy proprietary solution versus a potentially more difficult solution with an unfamiliar open standard?

Ask students to consider whether school districts should use all Microsoft products and what affect that can have, both positive (preparing them for specific systems they are most likely to use in the future, a uniform solution can be easier to implement at times) and negative (contributing to maintaining a mindshare monopoly, lack of exposure to options).

With that, show some examples of hardcore extremist MS haters, and note that a true professional is going to consider and weigh many options. It's valid for a negative opinion of MS's practices and past actions to contribute to decisions, but to be so blinded by hate will only hurt you and eliminate what might actually be the best solution to your problem.

Invite Lessig (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597040)

Invite Lessig to speak for the day. Or at least read up on some of the issues he commonly raises.

Spend fifteen minutes describing the cultural myths and legends and parables which existed in many cultures, and how Disney cherry-picked them to build its corporate empire. As soon as Disney made it big, they continually bought legislation to make it impossible for other people to build off this generation's cultural bedrock in the same way. (Not to sound too biased, heh.) Then open up the discussion there as to what ethical issues are involved.

Just an idea (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597058)

This is just an idea, but I think that it might really help students to get the idea of some of the problems with IP laws anyway.
First come up with a simple task, something that has one or two fairly obvious solutions- maybe use some of those logic questions that were really popular in IT interviews a while back, like how to tell which of three lightbulbs goes with which of three light switches from another room when you can only look once, etc.
Next, break the students up into teams. Give each team the project individually (don't tell them the other teams are working on the same one) and tell them they need to figure out how to do it. Tell them it's worth 100 points or something.
After all the groups have finished, tell everyone that nobody gets any points, because another group from a class earlier in the had already worked out how to do it. Of course, this group has an A right now and doesn't need the points, so they aren't actually going to do it for the credit, just stop anyone else from getting credit for it. If the students' don't want a 0, they can pay this group 70 points out of the 100 points for the assignment for the rights to be able to use it, or they can come up with an alternate and worse solution to the problem - wich will cause them to be docked points.
This should give them a pretty good understanding of how patents and copyright work- especially as it's related to software patents.

Re:Just an idea (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16602072)

I detect a slight agenda in your lesson plan.

Ways to Spice it Up (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16597222)

Hire Ben Stein to deliver the lecture. Bueller? Bueller?

How about Copyright Sock Puppet Theater? Really they should be teaching IP law fundamentals from an early age. If enough of those kids see something wrong with it, they might actually change it at some point in the future...

Downstream Impact of Patents (1)

wol (10606) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598738)

I haven't seen this discussed yet, but consider the downstream impact of patents: New development discovery A is begins where old development discovery B left off. Old discovery B is patented.

Does the patent holder on discovery B effectively have a license (monopoly profit) on any developments which use B as a stepping stone? Should they (Such rights arguably increase the economic incentive to research and generate patents the same way that an Amway distribution chain creates an economic incentive to be higher up the chain)? However, as soon as a patent is granted, it also arguably reduces the economic incentive for further research in the area because any further research results would end up paying "rent" to the B patentholders. Does it decrease the incentive to further research B areas more than it increases the incentive to research in non-B areas?

The Joke Behind Intellectual "Property" (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16598898)

Personally, I'd start off by making the students aware that this whole concept of intellectual "property", is a marketing gimmick that attempts to apply a fictitious "value" to something that doesn't physically exist. While people should be credited for their ideas, they shouldn't have the ability to claim "ownership" over them once they share them with others.

Just as the perception of reality is relative to the observer, so are ideas. Eventually a shared idea will be improved upon, time and time again each time it's passed on to others. At some point, the new version of the original idea will individualize itself and become original in and of itself.

By assigning these fake "values" and "ownerships" to people's ideas, we are doing humanity a great disservice. It places artificial boundaries around how new ideas can be formed and ultimately inhibits the progress of mankind as a whole. Eventually, we'll become so wrapped up in preserving these fake intellectual property "rights", that our race will stagnate and will ultimately drive itself into extinction.

Start with anecdotes (1)

cyrax256 (845338) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599102)

A bad example (IMHO) was that The Verve made the song "Bittersweet Symphony" which uses a sample from a Rolling Stones song, which allowed them to sue The Verve and take over their song rights. "Bittersweet Symphony" credits today are for Mick Jagger.

I don't recall a good example right one, but I'm sure there are some out there. Can anyone provide?

Re:Start with anecdotes (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601762)

Actually that's a good example - they got the rights to sample the recording, which wasn't by the Rolling Stones, and it was thought they had the permission they needed. But not getting the permission of the writers meant they lost the copyright to the entire song [and didn't Jagger/Richards win an award for it?]

So that example shows how complicated the subject can be, that it's not as obvious as may be thought.

my question: how do you stop it? (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599158)

There seems to be 2 choices to stop the 'copyright infringement '. We 'adapt to the new business model' (or something), or we find a way to stop it.
So is 'finding a way to stop it' a valid option? Does education work? Is there a way to enforce the law that does not require giving total control of the internet to some organization, to decide what information you can and cannot access at the moment the request is made?

Suggestions (1)

krakrjak (227602) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599296)

This very well could be the driest subject, but it can also be quite fascinating. A good approach might be to lead the class with a little background and cover a case or two about how programming IP has been litigated, then launch into the Socratic method.

Once they are attempting to decide for themselves what is acceptable and what isn't you should get a lively discussion. Link it back to music, paintings, books as well as the topic we discuss here the most, programs. If you only pose questions it will spark the debate and you will have to guide the discussion a little, but this could very well turn out to be the most entertaining 75 minutes all semester.

Music Piracy Sources (1)

nbassist (1018756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599316)

The speech/article Courtney Love Does the Math is an excellent look at music piracy from a musician's point of view and why most artists aren't anti-piracy. Beyond that, University of Colorado professor Lynn Schofield Clark did a study a couple years ago on how the music industry percieves piracy which included major labels, indie labels, musicians, retail workers and all walks of people in the music industry. I'm not sure if music piracy is what you're interested in disucssing, but both these resources are good ways to start a discussion in general.

Perhaps the Stephen King approach would work... (1)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599424)

I'm planning to teach writing at the college level once I've finished my career change, and I have no doubt I'll be facing a similar challenge as you are. So, let's see - how would I approach this?

Well, I recall Stephen King once saying that the key to creating terror is to take the ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. Perhaps this would work with teaching intellectual rights and their issues.

I guess if I was doing it, I'd start with a CD, a DVD, or a book - something that everybody knows and takes for granted. Then I'd separate the physical disc/book/whatever from the intellectual property on it, pointing out the difference between selling, say, a CD at a used CD store, and making copies of the CD and selling them, and stuff like that. Once I've done that, in theory the class should be hooked and thinking about it - that could lead to a discussion of the Berne Convention, and then applications of the principles of copyright, and then abuse of copyright (for example, the RIAA lawsuits, which should get them hooked right off the bat - it seems to me that a good way to approach it is to begin with the rights of the artist, and then question whether the RIAA's actions are actually related to them, or just using them as an excuse, and go from there).

The one thing I would suggest is to avoid taking a side - let the students do that. Before writing this I read a lot of replies that involved pushing one side in exclusion to the other, which would turn the class from something thoughtful into indocrination. As a teacher (and I've done some teaching here and there, and my mother is a teacher, so I am talking a bit from experience) you need to be able to make the students examine both sides, and determine where the ethical standpoint actually lies for themselves. Playing devil's advocate can really make them think, and keep the class lively. I guess for a class like this, the best result is to end with the students questioning the implications of what they've always taken for granted.

Intellectual Property and International Developmen (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599594)

One thing you might want to talk about is intellectual property and international relations/development. China has been able to do well for itself because it hasn't cracked down on piracy. That is important because without modern computer software, how could China have caught up with the world? Smaller countries don't have that option -- they will be dealt with much more harshly if they don't respect foreign intellectual property. Trade deals, etc, won't be as favorable.

It isn't just software, it is genetically modified grains, irrigation techniques, and other technologies. These technologies often allow much more efficient use of resources. Again, not having them is an impediment to development.

There are also cases of foreign companies coming into countries and doing one of two things: taking local "intellectual property," like indigenous medicines, etc, and patenting them, or funding local scientists and other professionals but with the condition that whatever they develop is the intellectual property of the foreign company. And if someone local wants to use it, they have to pay the foreign intellectual property premium.

So that's something interesting to think about.

turnitin.com (1)

wibald (725150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16599670)

Hit your students with this one:
The terms of use for the "anti-plagerism" site turnitin.com [turnitin.com] (used by many colleges and universities) allows the company to retain the use of any IP included in the papers submited to it. Since students are almost never giving the chance to opt-out of using the site they are, in fact, being forced to give away their IP rights over their work free of charge.
I'm a college librarian and I hate this but it is popular with those faculty too lazy to craft assignments that are less prone to plagerism.

ask Cory Doctorow... (1)

jrtom (821901) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600462)

...he's giving a lecture series at USC on this. Do a search on "cory usc" on http://boingboing.net/ [boingboing.net] and you'll get links to short posts on what he's been lecturing on.

Incompatability (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16600854)

One of the most interesting points might be how DRM is fundamentally incompatible with free software - if you, the user, are free to view your software's source code and modify it, you are inherently able to disable or otherwise modify the DRM. Then again, this may be a bit much for anyone who isn't already familiar with the concept of software that gives the user the freedoms that geeks always wanted to encourage.

I mean, on the one hand I can see how some people - and especially corporations - want to stop others copying their hard work freely, but on the other hand, is it worth giving up free software to protect the rights of authors, musicians and directors?

Boy Scouts and Hollywood DRM (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601094)

If it fits in with your discussion, you should talk about how Hollywood has just created an anti-piracy merit badge for the Boy Scouts, and the BSoA has gone along with it.

Start with history (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16601828)


Tell the class about the times when the hunters/gatherers would sit around the fire and swap stories songs and music for free.

Speaking of which, I believe many aboriginal societies still do so.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?