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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Capsaicin Re:machines made by humans, amoebas made by God (446 comments)

Yes, yes, i understand you - you don't understand me (and Greek, and Greek Orthodox theology!).

Well I'm glad I've articulated my position more successfully than you. ;) As regards Greek Orthodox theology, how would you know what I understand of it? I've not addressed it. Now it is true that I have rather more understanding of Western theology than Gk Orthodox, but for present purposes I'm assumed nothing more about your theology than that you do not believe God (except as incarnated in the person of Jesus) is corporeal.

[B]ut you choose that theoretical accusation because i am Greek?

No, not at all. I wouldn't especially associate paedophilia with Greeks (the etymology of the term notwithstanding). Nor with homosexuality for that matter. Rather the particular infamy of that charge was meant to dramatise the intolerable situation we should descend into, once we were to abandon the ancient precept pertaining to onus.

To call someone an atheist is an accusations of the most heinous crime.

Only where it is a crime to be so enlightened. I think you might find more people might object to being called a paedophile than an atheist (even among believers).

[I]n the Greek Orthodox theology it's not even posible to be without God since... its not posible!

That may be so in G.O theology, but since we have not yet been able to discover God anywhere outside your head, we are getting a little ahead of ourselves to deem it impossible for anyone else to be without him. More to the point it would be a mistake overly to fall back to the Greek etymology of the term when it has a clear meaning (relating to personal belief) in the language we are speaking. Thus the OED defines the 'atheist' in the first sense to mean "One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God." Nor need we even use the term. I'm not particularly wedded to the word 'atheist' and actually prefer, when challenged as to my religious affiliation, to call myself simply a 'non-believer.'

Goddsess? blasphemy!

Not to the goddess worshiper, it's not! God, Goddess, it's all the same to me. I just wanted to emphasise that we were speaking about some abstract human-like creator, not in particular that god that is in your head. In any case, being Greek orthodox you surely don't harbour the fervent anti-Marianism of the anglophone churches?

Agnostic: the blind and deaf theist! You - curable

Again the OED has 'agnostic' meaning: "A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of immaterial things, especially of the existence or nature of God." Yes agnostics are blind, but unlike all the other blind people possess at least the humility to admit they do not know that which they cannot know.

As far as a cure, from my perspective, it is not I who needs to be cured. It is you who has fallen from the light of truth into the darkness of fable. Not that I should wish to cure you, mind. If a belief is capable of providing succor to a fellow sufferer in the vale of tears, far be it from me to disabuse them thereof. And in any case, were your beliefs to lead you to behave according to the highest ethical standards demanded by Jesus of his followers, (and I must say, I find it difficult to reconcile an admitted racism with those moral imperatives), I should have no ground to complain.

But now to the crux of the matter ...

So, because of the "contra principia negantem non est disputandum" YOU must accept that YOU are a theist (having God in you) else we cannot have a discusion!

You are exactly correct. Just as you are to me the barbarian who will not recognise the need to provide proof for your assertion that "God exists," so I am the wild man who regards what is for you axiomatic as the very thing to be established. There is then, on both those sides, little prospect of meaningful dialogue.

I hope at least that you may have benefited from practising your English with me.

13 hours ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Capsaicin Re:Environmentalists is why we still pump carbon (628 comments)

... with the exception of the top link or two that shows a very minor environmental group or small numbers of environmentalists in favor of nuclear, most links demonstrate that the environmental movement is still very much anti-nuclear.

It will surprise no one that a majority of people identifying as 'environmentalists' remain opposed to nuclear energy. But that was not what the post I was replying to was claiming. Instead it was denying that those in favour of nuclear energy could be environmentalists, but were instead "conservationists." As the second (as it was when I searched) link [to the Wikipedia list] shows, that us palbably untrue. Indeed there are a number of very high profile environmentalist who are in favour of nuclear energy as among the most practicable means of reducing fossil fuel use.

2 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:does the university retain a magistrate? (98 comments)

Before I go, I'd hate to leave you with the impression (as the Wikipedia article might), that penalty clauses will always and in every case be unenforceable. A famous exception flowing from the decision in Peachy v Duke of Somerset (1720) 1 Strange 447 [93 ER 626] where the penalty doctrine will not protect you from a penalty clause should the loss to the other party not be quantifiable in money terms.

The point is that law is never simple. The best wishes of the layperson notwithstanding, the Law cannot easily be intuited, nor even unambiguously discerned from the observation of its apparent operation in everyday life. Even those with legal training are uncertain about its operation (actually we're more uncertain because of our greater knowledge of the uncertainties). The take home lesson here is simply, when you see what might be construed as a penalty clause in a contract, alarm bells should go off. That being the case it should have been obvious to me from the start there was only a vanishingly small possibility that university lawyers would chose any service agreement by which to institute the fines, a fortiori when an explicit statutory power to levy fines exists. My bad.

2 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:does the university retain a magistrate? (98 comments)

Oh, good, in that case nobody has to pay early termination penalties.

Are you always this impudent when presented with new information?

As I wrote "... in excess of the loss which could be recovered (here lost potential earnings) or a fair quantity of liquidated damages (via an agreed termination clause)." At common law a clause allowing you to recover, via termination penalties more money that you could have have possibly earned under the entire contract, would be judged to be a penalty clause and would thus be unenforceable. OK? Of course as regards employment law statutory considerations may impinge.

2 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Capsaicin Re:machines made by humans, amoebas made by God (446 comments)

brother in Christ

Since 'Christ' specifically addresses the putative divine nature of the person, perhaps "brother in Jesus" is more accurate. But even that would be to overstate it.

But your "affirmanti" and 'neganti" are "not in the right order" plus your "incumbit probatio" is "out of order"... i, the theist, don't have to prove nothing to you, the atheist, because YOU, the A-theist, is the one making the claim that I, the theist, am... A-theist!

I'm sorry but that is simply wrong, perhaps you don't understand my position. I am making no ontological assertion about God. I am not asserting either "God is" nor am I asserting "God is not." As I said, it makes me angry too when atheists claim "God does not exist," for that statement is an assertion (and thus demands proof).

You are asserting "God is," I'm simply denying it, which is to say, demanding proof. My point about paedophilia was not to insult you, but merely to point out that, should we abandon this fundamental principle of the Western canon (that the onus of proof rests with the one making an assertion rather than the one denying that assertion is true), we should all be subject to accusations of the most heinous crimes and should be constantly required to clear our good name. That will not do!

If you are unable to accept this basal principle of rational discourse, then another Latin dictum must come into play, namely, contra principia negantem non est disputandum.

so you are an "agnostic"... hmmm... o.k.! But you are NOT an A-theist

Atheist: one who denies the existence of gods (but not necessarily asserts their non-existence). Agnostic: one who claims all questions of gods and the supernatural are inherently unknowable. While it is possible to be an atheist without being an agnostic, it is not possible to be an agnostic without being an atheist, since in not accepting "God is" as a true statement (and an agnostic does not accept it as true) one satisfies the criterion of atheism.

Remember that my belief in God is not belief without knowledge of God but belief with knowledge of God - that is, i have pesonally met the guy

Of course you have, he is, as you say, "existant" in your head. I've no doubt of that (though I do not accept your belief in God is itself divine), but you still have not addressed where else he could possibly be.

... like some of our "strange" USA brothers that are more "Jewish" -i mean it in a spiritual way- than Christians!

Well I cannot disagree with you there. I once found someone on /. writing (re capital punishment) "I'm a Christian, so I believe in an eye for an eye," to which I responded, " ... just keeping reading! There's this character who comes in a little later, ... called Jesus, maybe you've heard of him ... who has a slightly different gloss on that." It seems that Bible for them is the OT, then they skip over all that embarrassing left-wing loving your neighbour stuff in the Gospels and directly on to Corinthians ...." But this is a different story (one that begins with Luther's principle "that faith and not works is the source of grace.")

Exploring God through science ...

Assuming for the sake of argument some self-reflective intelligence exists (let's call her Dea) who bears responsibility for the creation of the cosmos: Then science would be the study of the works of Dea Herself. Bible study is inevitably the study of human literature and would therefore add the filter of other self-reflective intelligences obscuring the original intelligence of the creatrix. Study science instead and hear to the voice of the Goddess itself.

And in any case, have you ever studied protein replication?! Our DNA is literally a programming language (containing only 4 symbols). Imagine being able to code a human using only 4 symbols!! Spooky stuff!

I mentioned Pärt only because the closest I come to meeting his god is when listening to his music. Sadly the music ends and ... alas ... the chimera clears and reason returns.

2 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Capsaicin Re:machines made by humans, amoebas made by God (446 comments)

I read your interesting and polite enough answer

I work to a simple rule, be polite to me and I'll be polite to you.

I see you are good in Latin ...

I'm not. I had to learn these legal dicta at Law School.

... "It should suffice to remember that affirmanti non neganti incumbit probatio" - when a theist states what he knows it's the atheist that must (only if he disagrees) prove him wrong

No, no, no. Quite the opposite! If I were to say (I'm not) "I know you to be paedophile," it is not the person who disagrees with my claim (the neganti) who must "prove me wrong." It is I (as the affirmanti) upon whom the onus of proof is incumbent (incumbit probatio). That principle (as spelled out in the affirmanti dictum) is essential to any rational intercourse. No positive assertion can lie be above it.

Thus the assertion "God exists" (putting to one side what that might mean for a moment) needs to be proven, not the denial, "I don't accept that God exists."

But even without meeting him the conclusion that "God does not exists because... science/proofs/evil/etc" is illogical, and i confess that i get a little angry when (religious) atheist use these claims pretending to be the logical ones in a conversation

It makes me angry too. Precisely because it is not for the non-believer ever to utter the sentence "God does not exist." It is completely foolish to assert the actual non-existence of something when one means simply to deny it's existence. That may seem like a fine point (which is no doubt why so many fall prey to this error), but it's for the believer to show that "God exists," and the not for non-believer even to make any positive ontological claims regarding the proposed diety. And, assuming for the sake of argument God does not exist, what evidence could one possibly have to establish the non-existence of a non-existing thing with the attributes predicated to this God?

In case this difference is not clear, take this example: Life on other planets. It is a completely different thing to state "I don't accept the existence of extra-terrestrial life" (perhaps because there is no evidence of it) from stating "there is no life on other planets" (and imagine the evidence you would need to prove that!!)

Any reasonable atheist must therefore, IMO, be an agnostic (in the orginal sense of the word, ie. the subject matter of gods and supernatural claims is literally unknowable ... being Greek you get that of course). That is the agnostic holds both statements, "God exists," and "God does not exist" as inherently unprovable. An agnostic, in not accepting the statement "God exists" as true, is therefore unavoidably also an atheist.

Best thing for you, a critical thinking person, is to explore God by reading the Bible (start with the New Testament - unfortunatly, even the best English translation is problematic...

With all due respect, as intellectual stimulating as I find the analysis of ancient texts, my reading the Bible, would not involve "exploring God," so much as exploring the cultural and material conditions which gave rise to the various conceptions of gods (as well as other matters of interest that might emerge from the text). Were it my wish to explore God, I should more likely either study quantum physics or protein replication, or listen to Arvo Pärt. ;)

Also despite the fact that ethically I'm extremely close to the position outlined by Jesus (sans the supernatural) and I'm not above quoting him, I find the NT no where near as interesting as the OT. I was, some time ago, an avid student of the earlier Hebrew scriptures. A complex multi-layered text and a fascinating window into the iron-age. I agree, translation is a problem with any primary source, for which reason I taught myself to read Biblical Hebrew, though my Hebrew is not as good as it was (sad to say). Were I to make the effort to learn Koine Greek it would be to read the Septuagint rather than the NT.

you will not be convinced by anyone like me telling you "God exist[s]"

I already believe God exists in your head. That (and his cultural existence in general) is the only sensible meaning I am able give to "exists" in that statement.

This was the point of my previous post: Before you could even begin to attempt to convince me that God exists in any other sense (I'm presuming your theology precludes, now that Jesus has passed, any corporeal existence), you would need to explain to me what it is you actually mean by "exists."

3 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Capsaicin Re:machines made by humans, amoebas made by God (446 comments)

[S]o yes, in this case "i treat 'believing' as a synonym for 'knowing,' "

But in the case of, "I believe you are mistaken," you don't? Yes?

In other words 'God' makes this a special privileged belief, not subject to the problematic difference between belief and knowledge which might occupy a rational epistemology. 'God' as the fullstop to inquiry again.

I do not know whether any god "exists" --in fact I don't even understand what kind of existence is being claimed for God --however I do believe you are mistaken to find yourself in possession of definitive knowledge of such putative form of existence, a fortiori the fact that a god, (known as God), enjoys it.

[A]nd no, i don't use 'God' "as a word by which to avoid inquiring into the more profound problems of our existence"... on the contrary

I understand that is how you feel, but you clearly do. Tell me this: Why is there something, rather than nothing.

[From your other post] ... AND for recognizing this "Slashdot mindthink"

Heaven forbid one should use one's mind actually to think! If perchance you meant groupthink, well that's a fine accusation to come from the believer of a folie en masse.

... plus the usual illogical claim "if something can't be proven scientifically does not exist"

You would never catch me making that claim, but perhaps you prefer to argue about imaginary beings with imaginary interlocutors?

It should suffice to remember that affirmanti non neganti incumbit probatio. That is to say the onus of proof any assertion lies with the party making the assertion. No one should ever be required to prove the non-existence of an object, the existence of which someone asserts but for which evidence of existence is lacking. Moreover, while it is correct to point out (as you have) that lack of evidence is not proof of non-existence, that does not mean it is not evidence of non-existence.

That is the basic logic pertaining to any member of the set of putative objects for which no evidence of their existence exists. In the case of the particular claim "God exists" however, there is an even greater difficulty.

For God, by definition, lacks any material existence (body). No one, neither believer or reasoner, I think, would dispute that God exists in a mental/cultural sense (mind): as a word (for instance as the translation of the 3rd word of the Hebrew scriptures); as a character in that most interesting of texts; as concept; and as a belief in some people's minds. But surely the existence claimed for God, by believers, must be greater than that?

Given we have access (knowledge) only the states of existence of body ('science' as you call it) and mind, what evidence could we even access about this other putative state of existence?! What does 'exist' even mean (to humans) in the statement "God exists"? Thus you face the difficulty in, as I wrote above, both of evidencing a novel state of existence beyond the realm of human apprehension and only then are you in a position even to show that God partakes of it.

Given these --for creatures of mind and body insurmountable --difficulties, God turns out to be an unworkable foundation for knowledge. But if you don't want to think to hard about these problems, 'God' is a good way to stop yourself from doing so.

4 days ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Capsaicin Re:machines made by humans, amoebas made by God (446 comments)

P.S. sorry for my English

The single most serious error in your English is to treat 'believing' as a synonym for 'knowing,' as in the statement "anyone with a belief in God knows already ..." Rather they believe more than "science" (which is, in this context, I guess you mean material factors), is required to become alive.

Before the usual slashdot crowd start shouting "blasphemy, blasphemy, a believer in God inside our atheistic /. temple" i must remind them that this is about a professor of philosophy writing about stuff that we religious people ardifficult ande experts in, so, here we are...

The mere fact that you imagine yourself an expert in what the good professor is writing about, is no shield from complaints about your lack of epistemological rigour. 'God' is being used here as a word by which to avoid inquiring into the more profound problems of our existence.

4 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not the holder's money (98 comments)

[T]hey are collecting a 'fine', or a 'fee'.

They are very clearly collecting a fine not a fee. It is not for goods or services rendered or to be rendered, but as punishment for breach of the university by-laws.

I don't know about NSW, but in other jurisdictions if you knowingly profit from the infringement (charging a fee to the infringer), and you facilitate the infringement (by providing the computer network), then you become liable for the infringement as well, or you may be a contributory infringer.

The fine is an additional punishment to disconnection from the network for the rest of the semester. This is not the kind of situation which an ISP in both collecting a fee, providing access while turning a blind eye might face. Here the university charges a fee for access (via the general fees), obviously does not turn a blind eye, but instead upon breach both removes access and additionally levies a fine.

The by-law enacted and the fines consequently levied are unambiguously for the purpose of augmenting the disincentive unlawfully to download protected materials. This is the very opposite of facilitating infringement.

It's no different from others ...

Let me guess, you're not a lawyer are you? It's always different ... ;)

4 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not even wrong (98 comments)

They are in effect profiting from piracy, while also being complicit in the offending.

It's true that they are taking money they would not otherwise do, however the charge of complicity might be more fair if they were not also removing network access from the offending students. Remember a fine is the usual way (as envisaged by the empowering legislation) for punishing a breach of university rules, disconnection (probably not foremost in the mind of parliament in 1989) is the exceptional punishment here.

Imagine if I parked in Prof. Blackacre's reserved car spot on campus. I would be issued with a fine. Would Prof Blackacre be on good grounds to argue that the university, in effectively profiting from my having taken his spot, were complicit in my taking his spot?

4 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not even wrong (98 comments)

Notice: If you post anonymously do not expect a reply.

Thanks for that promise. I'd like to take the opportunity to withdraw my statement to the effect that I believed "your system architecting is conducted with great mental discipline, expert knowledge and professionalism." You last post has left me doubting whether that is in fact possible.

4 days ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not even wrong (98 comments)

Downloading Copyrighted material without permission of the owner is also illegal.

If it is unlawful, is it criminal? By which I mean to ask, please point to the provision(s) of the Copyright Act 1968 which makes it an offence to download protected sound-recordings.

The University is not bothering to notify either the Copyright owner or Law enforcement that the student is breaking the law.

Under what obligation would the university be to report a student not committing a crime? Under what obligation is anyone to report an infringement of someone else's right?

You are trying to argue that based on the technicality of the verbiage for the "fine"

No I'm not, you simply do not understand the legal issues. And what is does "fine" mean as opposed to fine.

... the University is not obstructing justice ...

In what possible way is the university obstructing justice?

... and coercing students into paying them money ...

Presuming this by-law is valid law under the power granted to them pursuant to s27 of the UNSW Act 1989, the university is specifically permitted to coerce students into paying fines for breach of its by-laws

... which happens to result in no legal action against those students. ...

The fining of the students in no way results in no legal action being taken against those students. Potentially, quite the opposite.

No matter how you try and pretty it up, the students are being coerced into paying "hush" money

That is simply absurd. It cannot be understood, by anyone across the issue, what you could possibly mean by "hush money" (which usually implies money paid to silence people). You are quite obviously out of your depth here. Admit it, you are in fact not a lawyer of the SCNSW.

Oh come now, are you trying to claim that the University has been granted powers that can allow them to ignore the law of the land?

No I wrote, "Do you understand that the university has the legal right, bestowed by parliament, to formulate by-laws and issue fines for the breach thereof (ie. they have delegated legislative power)?" In what possible universe could that be interpreted as allowing the university to ignore the law of the land?!

If, and only if, the University was passing this information over to law enforcement agencies or copyright owners (so that they could contact law enforcement or take other action) would I agree with their methods. I have no issues with ...

You're opinion and what you might agree or have issues with is of no consequence whatsoever. Better it would be if you didn't feel the need even to have one than to spout the kind of nonsense you have done here.

it allows for illegal activities such as this University has been involved in

I cannot fathom how it is, even after having this explained to you by a NSW lawyer (albeit a non practising one, I code), that you persist in this ridiculous notion that the university has, in exercising its right to formulate by-laws and levy fines for the breach thereof, engaged in illegal activities. I trust you system architecting is conducted with great mental discipline, expert knowledge and professionalism, but here you are firmly in Dunning-Kruger territory.

Let me try to explain this to you one more time:

  • UNSW is empowered by parliament to make by-laws and collect fines (see here).
  • UNSW does not want to get their arses sued off (again) by copyright holders, consequently
  • UNSW has made a by-law and told students in effect, "if you use our system to download stuff for which you do not have the permission of the rights holder we will not only suspend your access to the service, we'll fine you as well you little fucks!"
  • To the best my knowledge (and I'm not an IP specialist, I'll ask a colleague if you like), it is not a criminal offence to download a protected sound-recording in Australia
  • To the best of my knowledge (this not being a criminal offence) no provision in the Copyright Act (or any other source of law) creates any obligation to report someone you know has made an infringing copy of a "protected work" or of "subject matter other than works." (Imagine how Orwellian it would be were you personally required to turn anyone you've ever known to download a song over the the cops ... Shit!)
  • Nothing in this in anyway removes from the copyright holder the rights to take action either against the students involved (or indeed against the university). This creates no double jeopardy situation (the copyright holders action not being criminal in any case). They are not being fined for infringing copyright subsequent to the Copyright Act 1986, they are begin fined for breaching the UNSW by-laws. In fact, in fining students the university has in effect created a list which may be discoverable by the rights holders, thereby actually increasing the likelihood of the students being pursued by APRA.

Got it?

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Not even wrong (98 comments)

If the University is "fining" the students and not turning them over the the proper authorities how are they not complicit in the theft exactly?

The university is fining (no scare quotes) the students for breaching the by-laws of the university.

What they are doing is exactly the definition of racketeering:

Racketeering refers to criminal activity that is performed to benefit an organization such as a crime syndicate. Examples of racketeering activity include extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The activity of the university is not criminal. What crime, if any, do you think has been committed by anyone in this scenario? The activity is not being performed for the benefit of any organisation, leas of all a crime syndicate. it is not extortion, nor money laundering, nor loan sharking, and involves no obstruction of justice nor bribery. So no, it's not in the least like the definition or racketeering you give. I'm beginning to suspect that you are not a lawyer of the Supreme Court of NSW, am I correct?

Please do not feel you are under any special obligation to form, let alone publish, opinions about which you know worse than nothing.

Do you understand that the university has the legal right, bestowed by parliament, to formulate by-laws and issue fines for the breach thereof (ie. they have delegated legislative power)? Whether this particular by-law exceeds the grant of power under s27 of the University of New South Wales Act1989, as you would probably want to argue were you a student resisting the fine, is a separate question.

Yeah, University officials should be in jail over this one.

Oh come on, surely nothing short of hanging suffices!

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not the holder's money (98 comments)

The problem with 'copyright holders', is that unless UNSW makes some sort of notification that indicates which owners' copyrights were infringed, they have no way of knowing that they need to take legal action and request discovery. Can I as a random shmoe ...

My understanding is that this usually handled by having the artists (or other original holders) assign their copyright to the collection agency APRA-AMCOS (with whom Music Rights Australia is "affiliated") who then collect licensing fees for the benefit of artists (or record labels) collectively and individually. Any random Schmoes who don't sign over their rights are out of the loop anyway.

I'm not discounting any possible issues relating to standing.

It may be possible for the police to go after UNSW generically under some sort of criminal prosecution ...

That would require the UNSW to have had to committed an offence. I'm not sure even the fined students have done that. So no.

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:does the university retain a magistrate? (98 comments)

In most countries anybody can add a "fine" to contract terms.

At common law (and certainly at Australian law) contractual terms imposing a penalty (in excess of the loss which could be recovered or a fair quantity of liquidated damages) is void and unenforceable. (look up 'penalty provision' or 'penalty clause') I ought never even have floated the possibility that this was contractual, my bad. As I wrote to you above "the rule regarding contractual penalty provisions ... [make it] unlikely that this is being done under contract."

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Punishment (98 comments)

Any contract can impose fines on either party as long as both parties agree to it.

No. Generally any clause imposing a fine for breach (as distinct from the recovery of losses) would be void at common law on the basis of it being a penalty provision (see for example here). Your video rental store might be within their rights to recover from you any amount up to what they would have made had they rented out that late returned VHS (but no more).

That's why I realised after I posted at the top that this would probably be done via by-laws. Silly me, duh!

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Not the holder's money (98 comments)

Just because they're aware of the problem and reacted strongly is no guarantee that they successfully avoided liability.

Of course. As I wrote, "[it] must surely be taken as a mitigating factor."

what right do they have to collect for their own benefit, based on content they don't have right to sell?

They have a right, as I mentioned above under s27 to levy fines (whether in this particular instance is, as always, arguable, but also not entirely relevant). They are not collecting money for copyright infringement (as it exists at C'th law). They are collecting money for infringement of the university by-laws.

... the University really "stepped in it" by accepting the money.

Again, I'd ask you to clarify why you think this is relevant to any potential liability they may have to the copyright holders? Forgive me for being so dull, but it is not at all clear to me (the relevant statutory provisions or even better some case law might help).

They won't have liability beyond what they collected

Really? Then why did they have liability in UNSW v Moorhouse beyond the charge they levied for the making of photo-copies? Again where does the idea come from that the fines levied have any impact upon their liability?!

but they have no rights to what they did collect if it was indeed contractual revenue based on sharing copyrighted works.

As I wrote above it is unlikely that this is being done under contract (where the rule regarding contractual penalty provisions would obviously cause some difficulty), and much more so that it being done under the express powers granted to them by the NSW Parliament to levy fines.

about a week ago
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UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

Capsaicin Re:Punishment (98 comments)

I thought only Goverments, via the courts, had the power to issue a fine.

The parliament of NSW has, via s27 of the New South Wales University Act 1989, bestowed upon the university the power to make subsidiary legislation, including by s27(n) "... by-laws ... with respect to ... the payment of such fees and charges, including fines." The university would argue that these fines and this particular by-law are empowered by this section. The student, should they wish to fight the fine, would argue it exceeds the power granted.

about a week ago

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