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You Can Oppose Copyright and Support Open Source

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the point-counterpoint dept.

Slashback 378

kfogel writes "I'm submitting 'Supporting Open Source While Opposing Copyright' as a response to Greg Bulmash's piece from yesterday. I think there were a number of flaws and mistaken assumptions in Bulmash's reasoning, and I've tried to address them in this rebuttal, which has undergone review from some colleagues in the copyright-reform community."

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Ein Tag im Leben von Michael Sims (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031601)

Queen Elizabeth II visits the WShite House (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032279)

what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031609)

You got your open source in my copyright!
You got your copyright in my open source!
No one can agree, not even to disagree.

Tastes Great! (-1, Offtopic)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031923)

(irrelevant text to prevent tripping lameness filter)

Less Filling! (-1, Offtopic)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031941)

#include

Offtopic, but please read (0, Offtopic)

bdjacobson (1094909) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032175)

Could someone post a story about what's going on with ABC [digg.com] ?

Deleting posts from their message boards and then deleting posts asking ABC to explain why they're deleting perfectly legitimate posts...

Heck, we don't need a government to pull off 1984, they media's doing quite well.

Re:Offtopic, but please read (1)

StrahdVZ (1027852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032281)

TBH this looks like a publicity attempt to reap what digg sowed... so I clicked "Bury" on the digg website. ;)

Food fight! (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031633)

Have fun, y'all.

Re:Food fight! (1)

bobo mahoney (1098593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032405)

Creditright - that a clever turn of phrase. I think that we should create a new symbol for it and stamp it all over all of our work. Bobo Mahoney (Creditrighted 2007)

Not all open-source is the same (5, Insightful)

kungfujesus (969971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031637)

You can support BSD without supporting copyright, as it doesn't take advantage of many copyright protections. You can't support GPL without supporting copyright, as it would be unenforceable without copyright.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031783)

You can't support GPL without supporting copyright, as it would be unenforceable without copyright.

Bullshit.

It's possible to think that copyright is wrong, but accept the GPL as way of enforcing sharing while copyright exists. That's not an opinion I hold, but at least some seem to.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (4, Insightful)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031965)

I think GP's point is valid: supporting both GPL-style sharing & copyright abolition is inconsistent, as they're mutually exclusive - if you're a genuine copyright abolitionist, you'd support BSD instead. I don't think it would be possible to enforce the particular flavour of sharing currently enabled by the GPL with no copyright. TFA appears to propose some sort of nebulous copyright replacement legislation which would enforce GPL sharing - I might be missing something obvious, but it seems likely that it would just be copyright by a different name.

I suspect the intention would be for the copyright-that's-not-actually-copyright to tip the scales in favour of consumers, not-for-profit distribution etc, but exactly the same thing could be accomplished via copyright reform, so I'm curious as to how this approach could be copyright abolitionism at anything more than a technical level.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032053)

so your claiming the BSD license isn't any kind of copyright? i bet there's a few lawyers over at berkly that disagree...

bottom line people. copyright is not bad. america's copyright LAWS are bad.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032087)

I consider it closer to 'no copyright' than the GPL is. Probably a bad example. I should have said "you'd put everything into the public domain" instead.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032521)

either something is copyrighted or it isn't. even public domain and BSD licensed stuff is protected - you can't go and claim your the copyright holder to a BSD'd work. like i said copyrights are good, its the terms that need work.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032119)

Actually on second thought, GPL advocates are just going to claim that the GPL is used to simulate a world with no copyright (I don't think it does), therefore there's no inconsistency. Under this scenario, TFA is definitely on the wrong track when it's going on about new GPL-enforcing laws to replace copyright.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (4, Insightful)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032127)

Many folks feel that, while copyright is altogether a bad thing, as long as it does exist we should make the best of it by forcing commercial entities -- who grouse about stronger copyright legislation being needed to protect business/"innovation" on the one hand, while shoveling BSD/MIT/Artistic/whatever-licensed code into their products as fast as they can on the other -- onto a level playing field.

Put another way, while you may want to get rid of copyright altogether when you can, if you are writing code now, you might choose the GPL because you don't want your code to put money into the pockets of the very people who will likely be fighting against you for copyright reform/abolition. Once copyright is gone, everybody has to "fight fair", insofar as anyone can be as "dirty" as they want with respect to using others' code without their sanction.

I'm not one who has strong opinions for or against the GPL or BSD -- I see the logic on both sides: so you can choose to live as if there were essentially no copyright, the BSD way, and help your "enemy", or turn the law against the people who use it as a cudgel with the GPL -- but most GPL advocates I have talked to seem to be more of the mind that "I'm not going to let my Open Source code contribute to the bottom line of the very people who have forced us into this proprietary hell in the first place", rather than "I want to 'protect my innovation' by taking advantage of copyright law." More simply, it seems to be a defensive choice more than an offensive one.

Either way, there are people both for and against copyright who choose both licenses regularly. I don't think, ultimately, what you feel about a world where there is no copyright has much to do with what license you choose for software right now. Most projects seem to choose their license with the practical considerations of the system we have in mind, rather than what they might like to see in the future.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (2, Insightful)

smartr (1035324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032313)

Neither BSD nor the GPL give a consistant vantage of what a copyright free world would be. The GPL portrays a more idealistic world free of copyright, this is to say people should provide source code for programs. If one was to apply this to the music industry, it would be consistant with forcing you to provide all the individual tracks used to make the music, and force those who wish to distribute new songs all the tracks they used to derive a new song. For the GPL, if you were to get rid of the open source clauses, eliminate any possibility of locking it down with any DMCA type theft, you would in essence have something closer to what it means to be free of copyright. The problem with BSD is that someone else can take your code and then not allow you to redistribute the portion of software they added. So if you're a copyright abolitionist, BSD is closer to putting the code in public domain rather than emulating a copyright free world. On the other hand, the GPL does open a door in terms of opening one's eyes to the needs of copyright reform.

To me, copyrights and patents are blatently contrary to the 1st amendment of the US Constitution. I suppose the better question is if this blatent contradiction of government power is a completely negative thing. In essence, it is a regulation on the free market. You can still sell ideas without copyright (as is with GPL software). What you can't do is have an exclusive right to what people do with your ideas. I think this might discourage the disclosure of some manufacturing processes - particularly when dealing with patents. Last I heard, hacker ideals and reverse engineering makes it rather impossible to distribute software and hide a manufacturing process so to speak. The only real use then for patents in software in a free(er) market is to share information that would be held in a server black box (perhaps the old ibm mainframe model). Idealy, patents should not apply to any software being distributed widely.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031885)

Sure I can -- having it both ways isn't inconsistent at all.

Copyright is intrinsically devoid of worth -- it should be abolished. Terminated. Rendered utterly void.

What? I can't have that? Fine, I guess I can salvage something from the current system. But I don't like it, and I'm still going to try to undercut the whole scam tomorrow, even if I can realize some minor benefit from it today.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (4, Interesting)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031971)

Stating its so doesn't make it so. Score:4, Insightful likewise doesn't make it so. You are exhibiting a point of view that goes like thus: "To a man who only has a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail." The question posed is whether replacing copyright laws with other laws would allow the spirit of the GPL to prevail. Probably the GPL would need to be rewritten to be in accord with a new set of laws.

Two things irritate me about this topic:

people who assume that copyright is an inherent right, when it is so obviously not;

people who think that without our current copyright structure, there could only be chaos.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

Poppler (822173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032017)

You can support BSD without supporting copyright, as it doesn't take advantage of many copyright protections.
Sure it does, you can't claim that you wrote it. You can repackage it and sell it, but somewhere in there, you have to acknowledge that you're using someone else's code.

You can't support GPL without supporting copyright, as it would be unenforceable without copyright.
The GPL would not be necessary if copyright didn't exist. The GPL relies on copyright only to propagate itself. Why would you need a viral license if everything was in the public domain?

Particularly relevant bit from TFA:

The basic argument of copyright abolitionists is that people should be free to share when sharing does not result in any diminution of supply. The GPL simply uses copyright law in a jiujitsu-like manner to enforce this principle, in a legal environment where sharing is prohibited by default and must be explicitly permitted to be legal.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032299)

The GPL would not be necessary if copyright didn't exist. The GPL relies on copyright only to propagate itself. Why would you need a viral license if everything was in the public domain?

Maybe because we wouldn't be guarranteed access to the source code.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032223)

You can't support GPL without supporting copyright, as it would be unenforceable without copyright.

While that's *not* my opinion, one *can* (logically) support the GPL without supporting copyright. That person would then consider that the GPL is a "stop-gap" measure that "prevents some people from taking advantage of copyright law" for a particular piece of software [until copyright law is abolished or something].

Re:Not all open-source is the same (3, Informative)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032339)

Nonsense. You've just made the exact point that the article is refuting. In fact, you've made it completely without evidence. This is 'Insightful' how?

If you oppose copyright, but can't do anything about the existence of copyright, you can at least put stuff into the public domain without allowing someone to wrap it up in copyright and resell it. That's basically all the GPL does, and I don't see any conflict there at all.

Maybe if copyright was written differently, or not at all, we wouldn't have _need_ of the GPL, but that's a different story.

Re:Not all open-source is the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032433)

You could use guns.

That's what we do round the world. We already have various lists of countries which we don't like for copyright reasons. Why don't we simply bomb them until they go back to doing the RIAA's work again?

Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031641)

Abolishing copyright abolishes the ability to enforce GPL. End of story. Even though the orignial article is flawed, the fact still remains. You can't control distribultion using the GPL without copyright law.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (5, Insightful)

Bronster (13157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031737)

No, but you could theoretically build a new GPL on top of something which wasn't copyright but provided the protections that the GPL needs. Copyright is not the _only_ set of base rules on which a GPL could exist, it's just the current one.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031887)

Copyright is not the _only_ set of base rules on which a GPL could exist, it's just the current one.

True. But for the GPL to work the alternative set of rules would have to be one of two things:

1) the GPL, enacted as legislation applying to all computer code (or as opt-in)
2) a set of laws regarding creative works that allows the creator to control what consumers of the work do with the work

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the second things is usually referred to as "copyright." It's true that copyright could be scaled back or changed, but it would still basically be copyright law. If it walks like a duck...

Simply put, the GPL can't exist unless I can force you to do certain things if you choose to use my work. All the hand-waving in the world won't change that fact.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032011)

And yet strangely enough, the GPL doesn't "force you to do certain things if you choose to use my work", although that is a common misconception. The GPL itself even states this fact explicitly:

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032141)

"use" has a lot of definitions. Maybe I'm missing it, but you see to be arguing that copying, distributing, modifying, and generating output from the Program that will constitute a work based on the Program are not forms of using it.

By that argument, copyright already works that way. Activities other than copying, distributing and modifying the work aren't covered by most copyright legislation (which seeks to limit almost essentially those three activities), you're able to read the book or watch the movie unrestricted (provided you don't copy it to your laptop or iPod or torrent it, or make use of a copy that has already been made in violation of the anti-copy provisions) and the output from the book or movie is only covered if some one else is going to make a work based on that book or movie independent of having been made by reading the book or watching the movie.

If your "use" involves copying, distributing, modifying or including the output in a work based on the program independent of having been made by using the program, then you are violating the GPL and could, theoretically, be punished by whatever punishments there really are for such crimes.

Not at all. (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031915)

The difference between BSDL and GPL is that GPL forces other (linked) code into the open. You need some sort of property rights (ie copyright) to stake a claim on your code and assert this bargaining power. With no copyright you would not have rights and thus not have the bargaining power and GPL would be dead.

Abolishing rules abolishes GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031917)

And in what way would these "base rules" NOT resemble copyright.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032115)

Also, I can't find it right now, but there used to be a blurb on the GNU page talking specifically about this. Basically, without copyright law, there would be no need for the gpl to exist. It wouldn't be possible for software released under the public domain to be made proprietary. I know the original article made some sort of reference to using drm, but I can't really see how this would work, unless it is tied to a piece of hardware.

Abolishing common sense abolishes GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031765)

Maybe the better question should have been, "why are some trying to seperate open source from copyright"?

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031773)

But even if the GPL (or more generally the idea of copyleft) could no longer exist, the fact that code would be reusable by anybody is a major benefit. Thus the only protection to corporation's code would be companies tightly controlling their code. If the company ever showed the code to anybody not under an NDA then anybody could use that code. That situation is a slight step down from copyleft as companies could exploit code created by others, but it would definitely be a major step in the right direction overall. As such (based on my understanding of his writings) RMS would support such an abolishment of copyright, despite the loss of copyleft along with it.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032035)

I suppose the real trick would be to make NDAs and DRM illegal at the same time that NSF grants are issued for reverse engineering closed code. That would be a hell of a world...

;-)

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (4, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031867)

There would be little point in enforcing the GPL if no copyright existed. You would have all the rights to use whatever code you wanted or could get hold of. Traditional "stealing" would be a perfectly legitimate way.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031921)

You can oppose copyright and even support GPL.

Haven't you heard of migration plans and "temporary workarounds" (and even politics[1] ;) )?

Go look at the real world sometime and learn how it works.

I think for a start copyright terms should be a lot shorter (just a few years), and fair use needs some fixing by wise and good people.

[1] Lots of companies support BOTH the two main US parties at the same time, who are allegedly against each other.

Straw man fallacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031955)

"Supporting the GPL" does not mean "Insisting that it remain entact and enforcible as-is even if copyright law is reformed."
"Opposing copyright law" does not mean "Wanting to get rid of copyright law without also getting rid of the GPL."
These are both logical straw-men.

The GPL makes good use of a bad law.

Inasmuch as there is copyright law, I support the GPL as a good way to make the best of a bad situation. However, I would happily give up the GPL if doing so would mean getting rid of copyright law (or at least reforming it to my satisfaction).

So I oppose copyright law and I support the GPL, and there is no contradiction here.

The ultimate goal of the GPL is to ensure that free software remains free. In order to do this, the GPL relies upon some copyright restrictions.

Yes, if there were no copyright law, those copyright restrictions could not be enforced, and therefore the GPL would not exist. However, if there were no copyright law, then free software would remain free anyway, so the GPL would not be necessary.

This is not a self-contradicting position, and it is not hard to understand.

GPL not Needed in a world without Copyright (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032013)

Bulmash had some interesting points, but what ties the counterarguement together is pointing out how the definition of copyright would be different if computer information was treated freely (as in speech). If Copyright were abolished, the GPL would be a moot point. One point buried in yesterday's /. discussion thread included points about having ownership over your code to "feed your family", the idea being that there is a need earn money, lest the entire Open Source community (and their kids) will end up starving itself. This, in my unpopular opinion, is a fallacy that keeps the rich on top, and the worker bees content with their lots in life. You work to be able to afford to put food on the table, true. But what if there was a national or global shift that removed the economic ideology from food distribution in a way that provided people the opportunity to go to the foodmarket and take what they need? This is an oversimplified example, but it drives at the overall point - remove corporate ownership rights universally and so long as the system keeps its pace, you can continue to feed your family without greedily hoarding your source code. The key (of course) isn't freedom for consumption, but rather the opposite. Make production free, and the rest begins to fall into place.

Re:GPL not Needed in a world without Copyright (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032155)

What you described is basically a communist utopia. It's an interesting idea in theory, but in practice greed ruins it every time. Greed isn't going away any time soon, so might as well take it into consideration.

Re:GPL not Needed in a world without Copyright (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032253)

You don't need to point out the definition of what I've described. I'm well aware, and equally aware of the issue of greed.

Thanks for not outright flaming, which many are prone to do when the mention of something so controversion is mentioned.

And like I said, the example was oversimplified. The less simplified explanation would discuss things like greed and the human nature of taking advantage of a free ride, when one is available... but that would take more time to write than a simple /. post.

Why are people opposed to copyright? (1)

Omega (1602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032227)

I really don't understand why people are opposed to copyright. I'm opposed to the Scalia definition of copyright length (i.e. anything less than infinite is copyright for a "limited" term as required by the Constitution), but I'm not opposed to the idea of copyright in general. I think if you write a story, or a song or even a software application you're entitled to control ownership rights of it. Why shouldn't you be? I'm generally curious why authors shouldn't be allowed to have ownership of their works.

Software patents are something else entirely. To me, software is like math or music -- you can own the representation but not the process. I can't claim ownership to Mickey Mouse, but I can still make a cartoon about a mouse. I can't make a web store look like Amazon, but I should be able to offer 1-click checkout. The claim for the need for patent law is to promote innovation. But I think the open-source movement has shown that software innovation doesn't need patent protection to flourish. Quite the contrary, innovation is often stifled by patent squatters.

I also agree with Bulmash's premise that the GPL cannot exist without copyright -- it can't. I'm no lawyer, but as far as I know there's no legal framework that can support GPL style software freedom absent copyright law. It's not just about being "free as in beer" and decompiling a program is certainly not the same thing. Compulsary redistribution of modified sources helps free software thrive. Without copyright law, there could be no GPL. And without the GPL where would the GNU tools be? Where would Linux be? Where would software innovation be?

Re:Why are people opposed to copyright? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032481)

I think if you write a story, or a song or even a software application you're entitled to control ownership rights of it. Why shouldn't you be? I'm generally curious why authors shouldn't be allowed to have ownership of their works.

Good questions...

Ownership vs. credit, were part of the focus of the article. Authors, I believe, care more about credit than ownership. I personally care mainly about credit. Ownership is a byproduct of the economy, but read on to see if my personal situation can shine some light on your curiosity...

===

Last summer I drove across country with a video camera and produced the trip into a series of chapters that were authored into a DVD that I gave to friends and family. I also posted this to Google Video [google.com] and explicitly slapped a by-sa/2.5 [creativecommons.org] Creative Commons into each of the credit reels. The production is better than typical family movies, though by no means professional. I did make it a point to add music to the soundtrack that was covered by similar licenses.

Do I expect anybody to care that my work was released the way it was? No. Do I expect to draw any financial benefit from the work I did? Also, no. It was a labor of love. And I still watch the movies from time to time, because they are awesome (for me). And twenty years from now, I'll still watch them. Additionally, I'm glad to have given 2,500 people the opportunity to see a full video depicting the eruption of Old Faithful (by far, my most popular movie... though in my opinion, not the best).

On the other hand, I also write. I've written a good 80% of a novel, and I admit that I am truly conflicted about selling it. I *want* to quit my day job so I can concentrate of writing fulltime. On the other hand, I don't want to turn over my rights to a publishing company (which is what one does, when they get published). I truly want my work to be available, though in order to mobilize myself to a position to lose the day job, giving it away isn't feasible.

That is why I favor free (as in speech) software, but also free (as in beer) tangible goods.

Re:Why are people opposed to copyright? (1)

PylonHead (61401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032497)

Haven't you figured this out yet?

They want us to do work for them. We should write them music. We should write them software. We should act in movies. We should spend weeks creating elaborate special effects.

For their entertainment. For their amusement. Tools for them to do business with. Games for them to play.

But they don't want to compensate us. They should have it all for free.

Because they want it. Because they decide what they should pay us for our labor. And they decide they don't want to pay at all.

Re:Why are people opposed to copyright? (1)

MorePower (581188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032543)

I think if you write a story, or a song or even a software application you're entitled to control ownership rights of it. Why shouldn't you be? I'm generally curious why authors shouldn't be allowed to have ownership of their works.

I have two major problems with copyright. The first is philosophical - nobody else gets to control their works after they've sold them. If build a chair and sell it to you, it is legally and morally yours, I gave up any claim to it when I sold it. Only in the realm of information can you sell me something and still exercise control over it.

The second problem I have is cultural. I want to encourage derivative creations. Why re-invent the wheel every time you want to tell a story (or whatever) when we have abundant cultural references and materials already? As an example, think of all the King Arthor books/movies/stories around. They would be much more cumbersome if each of these stories had to start from scratch with new characters and establish "this one is noble, that one is pure-hearted, this other guy is a mysterious wizard, oh and King Fred is wise and nobel but he made a tragic mistake and slept with his sister and is trying to atone for it, yada, yada, yada." Since there is no copyright on Arthian legends, you just have to name the character King Arthor and everyone knows what he's basically about. Could you even make Monty Python's "Holy Grail" if you didn't already know what Lancelot was supposed to be like and see it contrasted with the silly, overdamatic Lancelot in the spoof?

And as a coralary to my second point, how do you think stories like King Arthor were formed? I would submit that story tellers added, moddified, and embellished stories over generations. Different versions cropped up (for example did Aurthor get Excaliber from the Lady of the Lake, or did he pull it out of the stone?) and much like open source software, the more popular forks of the story got developed further while the crappy versions died out. I would like to see this sort of iterative creativity in our culture too - how about Star Wars Prequels without Jar-Jar ("The Phantom Edit") or with non-stupid dialog supplanting the George Lucas vesions?

I can accept that this is not a perfect world, and that a short-term limited copyright may be an acceptable compromise. But thats all it is, a compromise with harsh reality, not the ideal situation.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032135)

How about this thought? If it were illegal to sell binaries without also distributing source code along with them, and there was no copyright protection, would a GPL be necessary? The "you can't control distribution w/o copyright" really means, "control of distribution wouldn't be the same if it were done differently." Well, yeah. Thats the point.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

phidipides (59938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032225)

Abolishing copyright abolishes the ability to enforce GPL

Agreed. The linked article seems to me to be trying to defend theft of the hard work of others, and that's not cool. We live in a world that has decided it is beneficial to encourage people to create, and to do so creators are given the right to control their creations for a limited time. As a content creator, that is my right. If I create something and tell people they can use it under certain conditions, they have the choice to use my work or not to use it. That is their right. They don't have the right to take something that I've put days, weeks or years of effort into without the risk of legal consequences.

From the article:

Notice the rhetorical sleight-of-hand there: he presents copy control as a natural and uncontroversial "right" -- and then accuses his targets of simply not understanding (or refusing to admit) that copyright entails that right! But it is precisely this so-called "right" that copyright doubters are questioning in the first place. If he wants to argue that it should be a right, that's fine, but instead he just asserts the right as though it's a fact of nature, beyond reasonable dispute. And again, he conflates control of distribution with acknowledgement of authorship.


This misses the point entirely. In the world in which we live the law is that it is not your right to take something that I've created and made available to you, unless you agree to my terms of use. You either agree to my terms and use my work, you don't use my work, or you can choose to steal it and face possible consequences. That's what we've agreed on by living in society - we're all playing by the same rules. If you don't like the rules you can work to change them or find somewhere else to live. In the mean time I control work that I create. That's it. There isn't any misunderstanding here. If people want to change the laws they can do so, but until they do copyright is a right that is given to all content creators.

Re:Abolishing copyright abolishes GPL (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032473)

If people want to change the laws they can do so, but until they do copyright is a right that is given to all content creators.

The dispute is over whether copyright is a natural right, in the Enlightenment sense of Kant, Hobbes, Locke, and Rosseau.

In other news (-1, Redundant)

dctoastman (995251) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031699)

Walking and chewing gum. AT THE SAME TIME.

In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031703)

Nu-uh!

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031707)

Because the most appropriate response to blog meta-wankery is MORE blog meta-wankery.

Seriously, I agree that the piece yesterday was quite flawed, but sometimes the most effective response is none at all. Responding formally just generates buzz and makes it more likely that Slashdot will continue propagating that kind of crap.

fix the article title, then (2, Informative)

SEAL (88488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031711)

"I'm submitting 'Supporting Open Source While Opposing Copyright' as a response to Greg Bulmash's piece from yesterday.

Then why not make the title of this article: "Supporting Open Source While Opposing Copyright", instead of repeating the same title from the previous article?

People who just scan titles, esp on RSS, are going to think this is a dupe.

Re:fix the article title, then (5, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031811)

People who just scan titles, esp on RSS, are going to think this is a dupe.

I almost did. But then I remembered that Slashdot has editors to prevents such horrible things as dupes and that this must have been a legitimate follow-up to the previous article.

Re:fix the article title, then (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032059)

The title (currently) is "You Can Oppose Copyright and Support Open Source" with 13 comments posted. If they changed it (if it ever was different) they changed it *fast*!

do we really need to hear this again (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031723)

Richard Stallman puts it so much better. I disagree with a lot of what Stallman says, but the man has thought about his message and tries not to waste words. I respect that.

I tire of the "here are 10-15 different arguments on my side, if any of them sticks then I win" style of debate.

Re:do we really need to hear this again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032413)

...tries not to waste words.

I had no idea there was a shortage. Good thing I recycle...Now let's see. The clean ones go into the green bin. The dirty ones, into the brown...seems logical to me.

If you GIVE it to me all, who cares about "copyrig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031751)

If you GIVE it to me all, who cares about "copyright"? Muuuuuwwhhaahahhhh

Which means I agree 110 percent. (C) is for losers.

ATTENTION !! It's PATCH Tuesday !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032083)



ATTENTION !! It's PATCH Tuesday !!! Go get 'em, buys !!!!

Different brands of freedom? (2, Insightful)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031785)

Quoth TFA:

imagine if we had laws that did away with most prohibitions against sharing, but that enforced crediting and permitted authors to enforce GPL-like provisions requiring sharing.


So basically it seems like this guy doesn't want to do away with copyright, he just wants to change it so that any non-GPL-style license is prohibited.

The previous article suggested libertarian style freedom (free as in free to shoot your neighbor if he steps on your land), while this guy suggests communist style freedom (free as in "show your papers to get in line for free bread comrade").

Re:Different brands of freedom? (3, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031857)

"So basically it seems like this guy doesn't want to do away with copyright, he just wants to change it so that any non-GPL-style license is prohibited."

You can see the appeal here. All the free music and movies you want, but nobody gets to mess with your FOSS project in a way you don't want. Since most of us are coders, and not musicians or moviemakers (or, we're more likely to have friends who are the former, not the latter), it's an attractive idea to many Slashdotters.

Re:Different brands of freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032317)

I'm all for that part about shooting your neighbor. Maybe I can shoot my neighbor too. Never did like the SOB. Damn dogs barking all night. Chickens stinking up the place. Kill 'em all, I say. Then give them a free plot. That's as libertarian, and communist as you can get.

"News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031815)

No news here, nothing that matters.

What's this puerile crap doing on /.? Oh yeah, I forgot ...

I'm glad someone else reacted to this. (-1, Troll)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031827)

I wanted so badly to let Greg Bulmash have it on the first thread [slashdot.org] , but figured my mod points could do more good. :) I blogged a reaction to it also which seems to be getting a few views.

Its amazing what some people will concoct just to syndicate Google ads. Bulmash, your way off base and you knew it. Hope your happy with the reaction you're getting. Did you get plenty of ad clicks?

Bozo.

if only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031831)

If only there were a way to point out flaws and fallacies in a discussion about the original post. Maybe some way to comment on the validity of the argument or something. I'm sure the slashdot editors can come up with some method...

the real issues (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031835)

It's a little pointless arguing what copyleft would be like in a world without copyright, because we're never going to live in a world without copyright.

Let's focus on what we might really be able to achieve:

  1. Under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] , US copyrights will start expiring again in 2017. We need to make sure that when that day comes, there isn't yet another copyright extension.
  2. We need to work against software patents, business method patents, and abuse of the patent system. We need to work for institutional change in the US patent office so they'll start rejecting completely bogus patents.
  3. We need to repeal the DMCA.
  4. We need to work to keep fair use legally healthy, and prevent it from being more and more circumscribed and forgotten.
  5. We should work to change the law so that orphaned works can't remain copyrighted for a century, during which nobody is allowed to publish them.

Re:the real issues (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031995)

Under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, US copyrights will start expiring again in 2017. We need to make sure that when that day comes, there isn't yet another copyright extension.

Or, how about Copyright laws revert to something reasonable, like 15 years. The copyright length was originally 14 or 28 years, per United States copyright law [wikipedia.org] . If 28 years was enough time in the late 1700s, when printing was a slow process, and dissemination of information was slow, why on EARTH would we need authors life PLUS 70 years, when a work can be distributed across the world in seconds?

The point of copyright was that you would get a legal monopoly for a limited term, and then it would join the body of works that anyone could use without restriction, benefiting culutre as a whole, not that you would get an indefinite right to prevent anyone from using something from their grandparent's childhood!

Re:the real issues (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032285)

We can dance around the issue and pretend that it's about credit or whatever, but we're all adults here and can just say: The reason copyright exists is because property is still valuable. Had Lewis Caroll or someone else had a life+70 on their work, imagine the potential riches their estate would have.

The speed of getting information out has nothing to do with how valuable it is.

The crux of these sorts of arguments seems to be that after your suggested 15 years JK Rowling should just be told that anyone can publish as many copies of Harry Potter book 1 as they like so long as they put her name under it (no payment necessary, meaning no incentive to pay her) because it "benefits culture" as a whole.

This is roughly equivalent to saying "you have the exclusive right to whatever you buy for 15 years, but from then on anyone can use it." It's great for that DVD player that's going to break down every few years, or the car that you can squeeze a decade out of, but in 15 years when the public decides that your wife's diamond engagement ring is better off as part of a laser or a drill bit, or in 15 years when your house gets opened up "for the benefit of society."

Thanks to dynasty trusts, you can tie your property up as far as the rule of perpetuities will allow, and sometimes later still, some trusts tying property up for hundreds of years but you would never argue that in 15 years you should lose your legal monopoly on your real or personal property. Instead, you'd argue for at a minimum, life plus the right to pass it on to someone else (who can the do as they like)

I'm going to stop the argument here and get a drink, but the next step in this argument is either

(a) intellectual property isn't real or personal property - to which the counter is "are you saying that because I created my own property, I have less rights to my property than someone who buys it?"
(b) violating intellectual property isn't at all like theft - to which the counter is "it's depriving someone of something (the right to exclusively choose the method and means of distribution of property without their permission. How is that different than depriving you of the right to exclusively choose who enters your home?" - to which the counter is "I paid to maintain my home, while someone who creates IP just does it" - to which the argument is "someone who creates IP consumes resources in generating it. That book they wrote happened because they paid to maintain their writing environment.

Of course, there's more argument chains to go down, but I'm a little tired now.

the real issues:ignorance, greed, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032033)

"It's a little pointless arguing what copyleft would be like in a world without copyright, because we're never going to live in a world without copyright."

We're going to continue to have this discussion as long as either people don't understand copyright, or continue to believe that they would benefit from throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Re:the real issues:ignorance, greed, etc (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032515)

...they would benefit from throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

That's not a baby. Somebody threw a turd in there almost 300 years ago. It would be advisable to throw it out, instead of trying to wash and polish it. Underneath the veneer it's still a turd.

Re:the real issues (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032073)

Especially we need to repeal the DMCA!

Miss the obvious (3, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031847)

Both of you miss the obvious.

Bulmash misses the point that without copyright, I can find the appropriate place in your machine code to insert my functions and then distribute the modified versions to my friends. That's 90% of the GPL right there... And the right redistribute everything is probably more valuable than being able to see your sloppy undocumented source code anyway.

Kfogel misses the point that without copyright the computer industry would have grown an entirely different direction from way back in the '70s. Without specific protection for the software component, companies would have tied software to the hardware. Think: dedicated Pac Man machines in the arcades. You can copy the Microsoft Office ROMS all you want, but it uses the registers and I/O devices only present on the patented Microsoft Office machine. No *general purpose* computers... Copyright is what made the general purpose computer sociologically possible. That world, by the way, would suck.

Re:Miss the obvious (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032107)

"Bulmash misses the point that without copyright, I can find the appropriate place in your machine code to insert my functions and then distribute the modified versions to my friends. That's 90% of the GPL right there..."

Yes! Someone who gets it! It would make for a very different world.

I'm not sure about your second point, though, because I think that the efficiency of having universal computing devices would be enough to (eventually) bring about convergence. We certainly didn't have to let criminals become as rich as God Himself to establish de facto standards (that disregard de jure standards).

Re:Miss the obvious (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032315)

I think that the efficiency of having universal computing devices would be enough to (eventually) bring about convergence.

Maybe. But consider that even here it took 20 years for someone to write MAME, software for a general-purpose computer that could run the original Pac Man code instead of requiring a rewrite from scratch. That was with improvements in general-purpose computer hardware being driven primarily by the development of commercial copyright-protected software. Hobbyists contributed little to Moore's law.

The prospects for my ficticious non-copyright world are not good. It would probably make an interesting backdrop for a dystopian science fiction novel.

Sigh (5, Insightful)

DTemp (1086779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031877)

You can support copyright and NOT support ABUSE of copyright. Its the ABUSE of copyright that pisses people off.

As a professional photographer, if I take a good photograph, I don't want someone putting my picture up on their website and saying someone else took the photo. This is NOT me abusing my copyright.

If, however, a newspaper ran my photo on the front page, but I refused to allow anyone to cut out the photo and hang it on their refrigerator, and went from house to house inspecting refrigerators... THAT would be abusing my copyright. Sound vaguely similar to the MAFIAAs?

I hope you see the difference. Copyright is actually a good thing when not abused.

Re:Sigh (4, Insightful)

spud603 (832173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032025)

You may have misread the article:
kfogel argues the distinction between "the right to be credited for a work, and the right to control distribution of that work." So under his paradigm, in a world without copyright folks would still be breaking the law for posting your picture uncredited or miscredited, but they'd be allowed to post the picture on their site with your name under it. I'm not sure if this would still bug you, properly credited, but that's the gist of TFA.

And.. (1)

Twigmon (1095941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032351)

And..

They would be able to take your picture, chop it up, make it into something else and sell it... as long as they included your name in the 'credits'. The people who buy it would be able to give it away/sell it/etc - as long as they include your name, and your 'art copier's' name in the credits.. etc etc etc...

This world would not be nice.. I could walk into a museum, take photos of all the art, get it printed with (this painting was by....) and then sell/give away those photos. Why would anyone pay full price when I can sell them a (fully credited) version for far less?

Pfft.. Copyright is a good thing. People just get annoyed when intellectual property becomes valuable (sometimes because of restricting supply/demand).

If you are against copyright,you SHOULD oppose GPL (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031933)

Once you accept that restrictions on private business, weather having sex or exchanging information, between two people is unnatural, how can you require people to distribute source to their work if they don't want to? Only if we accept copyright it makes sense to require the owner to release the source after a while so that other people can create derivative works in exchange for accepting the restrictions for limited time. But if you give away the binary without any obligations, neither should you have any towards others. Even today people who just release a binary compiled from GPLed source into public domain shouldn't be subject to any requirements to release the source.

Re:If you are against copyright,you SHOULD oppose (1)

smitth1276 (832902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032151)

Only if we accept copyright it makes sense to require the owner to release the source after a while...

How... totalitarian of you. The government has no business forcing people to give away source code for something they spent their time and money developing. If someone wants to write a clone of it, that's a different situation.

nig6a (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031947)

was whaSt got Me poor dead last

My thoughts on this... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031957)

fuck you, fuck the anti-copyright bitches too. i'm sick of all this petty bickering about open source bullshit. you open source fags are so fucking dull and full of yourselves. most of the arguments that i see here pretty much say the same shit we've heard for years.
 
now stfu and get a life. stop sucking on them dicks too.

copyright abolitionists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031969)

copyright abolitionists
That is truly precious my friend. Hijacking a word every literate adult associates with anti-slavery to advance your IP pirating agenda. I truly have heard everything now. Good luck with that.

 

Just what do you mean by "oppose copyright" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031993)

Sorry, but am I the only one who gets a little stuck on the part, "You can oppose copyright...."?

Yes we've all seen Megacorp decide to use someone's code and then incorporate it into their program. Or just use something in a commercial sense when it's clearly limited for personal use only. We've seen companies take advantage of contracts where anything an employee creates becomes fair game.

But likewise, I have a problem with those who believe that nothing should be copyrighted and we should just all share and share alike. Well, I'm totally for giving back to the community, but I don't find anything inherently evil about wanting to get paid for your work either. I think that also it doesn't help the open source community--it makes it appear that open source = long-haired, pot smoking communists to anyone outside the loop. It also makes businesses jumpy as to what remains theirs vs. what becomes public domain should they tinker with the code.

I do think there should be copyright reform. Just like you can't copyright a particular group of words...such as a title, you shouldn't be able to take a code snippet and declare "it's mine and mine alone." However, if you write a full program--just like if you write a story or a book--you should be able to copyright it.

Frankly I'd rather see something on, "You can support open source and copyrights at the same time."

Reviewed... By People Who Already Agree (4, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032005)

"I'm submitting 'Girls Are The Ones' as a response to my sister's piece, 'Boys Have Cooties,' from yesterday. I think there were a number of flaws and mistaken assumptions in my sister's reasoning, and I've tried to address them in this rebuttal, which has undergone review from some colleagues in the 'Girls Have Cooties' community."

While easier to get reviewed by people who already broadly support your viewpoint, review tends to gain its power when those idealogically opposed to you review it and still can't find flaws in it.

Re:Reviewed... By People Who Already Agree (1)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032385)

Great idea! To get a wider review, I suggest putting it up on the internet, and then maybe submitting it to a news-gathering site so more people can debate it.

What do you think?

Seems to be a misunderstanding (4, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032029)

As with a lot of "there is no such thing as property" groups, QuestionCopyright.org* seems to not understand the purpose of copyright. Copyright is a legal construct created to encourage authors and other creative types to make their works public (e.g., published, performed, broadcast, etc.) by letting them retain legal control of the work. The import point is the person who creates the work gets to control its use.

People are motivated to create such works for any number of reasons. Some want the money that comes from charging for copies or viewing a performance, others just want credit. In any case, copyright is what lets the author determine who can access his or her works and under what terms. If we, as a society, don't give authors this control, there is a reasonable likelihood that a number of people who would otherwise create such a work will not because they don't want to see the fruits of their labor taken advantage of by others in ways they don't approve.

This brings us to open source software (OSS) and copyright. Some people license their work under a BSD license, some people put their work into the public domain, some license their work under the GPL and there are a number of other possible licenses. That there are a number of different OSS licenses and developers freely choose which license to release their project under means that the developers are making a conscious choice as to what kinds of restrictions they want on what they have created. This brings us to the GPL and similar licenses.

The GPL isn't just about attribution. People who just want attribution publish under a BSD license or something similar. The GPL is about creating a body of free software that stays free. As a number of court cases have demonstrated, there are all too many people out there who are more than willing to abscond with GPLed source for their proprietary products. Copyright law is what gives the GPL teeth to prevent this.

You can have free software without copyrights but it's going to be "free as in beer" software. Unfortunately, just like with beer, when the beer runs out, it doesn't matter if it's free. You still can't have any. If people aren't willing to develop without some level of control of the work after it's released, there won't be much free software. Copyright and the GPL means that at least some software will be "free as in speech" and, chances are, developers who continue to contribute to what they see is a greater good.

I guess I should rephrase what I said and say that you can have free software without copyrights but just not for very long. Lots of developers won't put up with having their work taken advantage of and will simply no longer create. Thus, the argument comes back to where I started, protection of an author's work is what incentivizes an author to create. Even if that incentive is just recognition by the developer community and knowledge that what they have created will stay free.

Cheers,
Dave

* I will give them a point for at least being philosophically consistent. Once you grant anyone the right to restrict the use of a creative work then it becomes difficult to draw a line as to when a restriction is benign or even beneficial (e.g., the GPL) and when it's not (please remit $0.25 (aka, two bits) to me for enjoying the above discourse).

Re:Seems to be a misunderstanding (3, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032179)

You left off the all important "for a limited time." Copyright wouldn't be such a problem if it lasted for 6 months to a few years, and source code had to be deposited at the time you applied for the copyright (to then be made public.)

Re:Seems to be a misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032265)

Come now. Do you seriously think that they don't understand this? Is it such a complicated concept that only the supporters of copyright can comprehend it? I think that these groups do understand it and are still against it.

Many people say: "copyright is OK, it's just the abuse of it that is wrong". But copyright is not some abstract concept disconnected from reality. It is what it is because it gets implemented. There isn't copyright the concept and copyright the implementation. It's one package! And we propose that this package be abolished. The same package that *always* favors big coorporations over individuals. The same package that the RIAA uses to sue 7-year-olds. How can anybody defend this?

Re:Seems to be a misunderstanding (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032477)

The same package that *always* favors big coorporations over individuals.
You are out of your mind. Copyright is far more beneficial to the individual than to the big corporations. Without copyright the only people who would be able to earn revenue on creative works would be corporations. They may earn less than they do now but it would be infinitely more than the individual would earn. With out copyright any artistic work could be sold by anyone who could reproduce it, and not a bit need go to the original artist. With copyright the original artist choses how their work is distributed and who can earn from it. With copyright you can say that something is free for all and that no one can profit from it if you like, there is nothing stopping you. Musicians get to decided how much the sell the rights to their music for, and it so happens that the acceptable rate of many musicians is far less than people are willing to pay for it so the major labels decided with there resources they could extract that extra amount from the consumer. Without copyright the going rate of written or recorded music that an artist could charge would be exactly nothing. Major corporations would reproduce and market the work and still make money, while the individual would make squat.

I'm all for limitations on copyright and copyright reform, or even the abolishment of copyright, I just don't fool myself into believing that removing copyright is some how going to benefit the individual more than a large collective such as a corporation.

Re:Seems to be a misunderstanding (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032291)

This statement is utter "pferd merde": "I guess I should rephrase what I said and say that you can have free software without copyrights but just not for very long." It is not only disproved by more than three decades' experience (yes, there was free software for the PDP-11), but false in concept. While some inventors (flight, rockets, cars, radio, software) and artists are motivated by money, or, at least, would like to be able to "make a living" doing what they enjoy, there are also more than sufficient examples of those who would do, and have done, creative work for the pleasure and/or prestige of doing so. Music existed long before copyright (or patronage). Research was conducted by hobbyists and university students/professors in the fields previously listed without recompense, other than "bragging rights" (and grades and tenure). Free software was distributed through users' groups, BBSs, and USENET long before the GPL. Linux, itself, was not created in order to make Linus rich, but to save a university student money that he would have had to pay to buy an incredibly overpriced copyrighted operating system.

Nothing falling under copyright (or patent) law done by, or released through, businesses required the law to enable their creation. IMO, both should be abolished. Whatever "A" doesn't want to create without being paid will be created by "B", given that there are so many of "B" available, or it wasn't that important, anyway.

Pretty soon everyone has a better hammer (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032471)

"fruits of their labor taken advantage of by others in ways they don't approve."
Lets see. How can you take advantage of a book? Other than ignoring it, burning it, restricting it or fraudlently stealing and selling the manuscripts. Sure it would be bad if neohitler loved your book, but theres really nothing you can do about that.

How is music or movies any different? who loses but me if I dont see a movie? The creator already has seen his creation come to life. That should give him emmense joy. Its not a trivial thing making a work of art for and that the world would enjoy. Restricting it is akin to a selfish god. One day we will have nanoforges. Please think ahead.

Why is this concept so hard to grasp? (1)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032037)

From the article:

"All these problems can be seen at once in a paragraph near the opening of his article:

        "The problem with a large part of the anti-copyright crowd is that they don't understand or won't admit what copyright entails as a concept. That is the right of the creator of a work to exert some control over how it's used, who can copy and distribute it, and a right to have their authorship acknowledged.

"Notice the rhetorical sleight-of-hand there: he presents copy control as a natural and uncontroversial "right" -- and then accuses his targets of simply not understanding (or refusing to admit) that copyright entails that right! But it is precisely this so-called "right" that copyright doubters are questioning in the first place. If he wants to argue that it should be a right, that's fine, but instead he just asserts the right as though it's a fact of nature, beyond reasonable dispute. And again, he conflates control of distribution with acknowledgement of authorship."

Except there is no rhetorical slight of hand - Bulmash was summarizing the Berne Convention, which is the basis for most of the copyright laws in the western world, and a similar model exists in the United States. No slight of hand at all - those are the rights granted by the letter of the law.

This reminds me of a scene in Erik the Viking where the island of Hybrasil is sinking, and all of inhabitants are standing on the last little bit of land, earnestly declaring that the island isn't really sinking as it sinks beneath the waves.

I honestly don't understand why the concept of a right is so hard for guys like this to understand. Seriously, if the law states that you have a right to X, you have a right to X. This is not an obtuse concept. There aren't even shades of gray in this concept.

Sometimes, particularly when reading an article like this, I really feel like I'm living in an episode of South Park.

Re:Why is this concept so hard to grasp? (1)

r6144 (544027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032161)

He disagrees with the law (including the Berne Convention), period. There is no inconsistency in this.

Re:Why is this concept so hard to grasp? (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032535)

I honestly don't understand why the concept of a right is so hard for guys like this to understand.

I think you misunderstand. The point is that copyright is not (or may not be) a natural, inalienable right in the sense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's a right by fiat, de jure, and that may change. Perhaps it should change.

If, however, copyright is a natural right, then it's a grave mistake to abolish that right, and freedom-loving people should revolt against any ruling body which denies that right.

What is a licence? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032231)

A licence is permission. Usually is is used when some activity could be dangerous if done poorly, such as driving or practicing medicine. It can also be permission to use something, like a fishing licence. I think that an EULA is like a fishing licence, permission to use enforced scarcity. The GPL is more like a licence to preach where one has to be reasonably free of heresy to be granted the licence, it is basically about competence.

It is the same word, but the sense can be quite different.
--
Solar power for what you pay your utility now: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Stealing time... (2, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032255)

First of all, I support the GPL. I think that the concept of community supported software is great. I also like how someone can make modifications to code and be obligated to give back to the community.

Having said that, I think people who preach that we should abolish copyright are basically lazy and cheap. Oh sure they will serve us some leftist bullshit to legitimize their position, and they will throw some "Well it's not stealing because even after giving a copy of some software to a friend, the original owner still has the use of said software - NO HARM, NO FOUL!"

Of course this is Slashdot and I will get some hostile replies, but face it people who preach that we should abolish copyright are proclaiming that GPL doesn't work. They are frustrated that they don't have the time or money to make a commercial quality software, so they just want to be able to legally steal it. Basically these people rather spend their time trying to accomplish something that will never happen, rather than putting effort in a legitimate movement like GPL.

It all boils down to this. If you believe software should be free, then nothing is preventing you from using GPL license software. Hell, if you really believe software should be free, then create a GPL program. If you can't code and you can't find the software that you need, then I guess you'll have to spend money. Sponsor someone to write your GPL program, or just break down and purchase a legitimate licensed copy.

But if you just plain pirate all your software, then your just a leech and offer nothing to support your cause.

What we should be concentrating on is abolishing software patents...

sure.. (3, Insightful)

danielk1982 (868580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032337)

The author is playing with words. At the end of the day a viral license like the GPL cannot exist without laws that acknowledge the "specialness" of intellectual property. You can't GPL a hammer.

>Imagine if we had laws that did away with most prohibitions against sharing, but that enforced crediting and permitted authors to enforce GPL-like provisions requiring sharing.

Considering that copyright law has no prohibition against sharing (after all, releasing your work as creative commons is as simple as cut-pasting a line of text) and thanks to GPL and similar licenses, copyright can have provisions to enforce sharing - I think I can imagine a world such as this - we live in it. What the author is arguing is that every work should be released with a mandatory GPL-like or maybe Creative Commons-type license.

>Thus, to say that the GPL depends on copyright is like saying that reading depends on scribes.

No.. the GPL is a license tested in court and found wholly within the realm of current copyright law.

>The basic argument of copyright abolitionists is that people should be free to share when sharing does not result in any diminution of supply.

I understand that argument even though I don't agree with it, but there's another point here. Is "free to share" the same as "forced to share"? After all, people are free to share MIT licensed code, but are forced to share GPL licensed code (provided that they made changes to it and distributed the binary .. yadda yadda..). The former doesn't need any copyright law, the latter certainly does. I think "copyright abolitionists" are trying to have it both ways here. The author certainly looks like a guy who is trying to reconcile something like the GPL (which I'm sure is perceived as a very good thing in the circles he hangs out) with his ideological beliefs about copyright. At the end of it all, it comes off as a clumsy argument.

Open Source != GPL (1)

definate (876684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032383)

Just because a project is open source, does not imply GPL. I for one abhor copyright and patents, and applaud open source software.

The problem people seem to have in saying that it's a contradiction, is implying that if a company took your work and sold it, then that would be wrong.

No regulation will be able to accurately compare one work to another, to find out whether it is a copy or not and as such will leave it open to abuse by anyone.

Now given that a company is profitable, wouldn't they have more power to use copyright laws to suppress the open solution than the open solution would have to suppress the business?

Protectionism such as this, is sold to people under some weird "moral" guise, and will only ever benefit the large companies that produce the works, and never the end user of the works, and as such should not be regulated.

Think of it this way... if someone else is able to sell a good or service for less price than you are able to, and sustain their business, then this implies that more end users (the people who count) are receiving benefit from it, and therefore shouldn't that be the moral high ground? That one company is benefiting people more than another.

Greg Bulmash is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19032389)

This guy has it wrong.
freedom 3 of the free software definition could simply not be enforced without copyright.
what he calls "creditright" has nothing to do with the issue.

Where copyright fails... (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032461)

You can't copyright something which is not yours to begin with.

As an example, if you create a static data structure constructed from information from a published standard, you can not copyright the static data structure. The copyright holder is, ta dah, the publisher of the standard. Adding curly braces, commas and quotes does not magically transfer ownership of the data contained in the static structure.

I can think of a few open source, gpl software projects that do this or something similar. Take something that is not theirs to begin with, slap some formatting around it, put it in a .h and slap a copyright notice on the top.

Now, imagine you are in court trying to enforce your copyright on some code. The defense lawyer is going to have a field day, picking apart every instance of anything borrowed. The average jury is not going to convict somebody because, ta dah, their confusion is reasonable.

This leaves only one avenue for y'all... public humiliation. If there is an example of anything else but PH working, feel free to flame me.
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