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The Future of Copy Control 363

Posted by michael
from the your-gate-is-down dept.
TechLawyer writes "For those of us interested in the use of the DMCA, and the tactics utilized by copyright enforcement specialists under the DMCA, Law.com ran an interesting article today on Dave Powell and Copyright Control Services. Read about how he plans to knock out Napster & how he shuts down warez d00dz from .com to .ru." There are some fascinating and ugly quotes in here about how this guy goes after targets - a combination of harassment and threats against their service providers, admitted illegal actions, etc. Meanwhile, this LA Times story describes even more insidious technologies apparently designed for use in transparent proxies - censorware for copyrighted materials.
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The Future of Copy Control

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @02:14PM (#413153)
    His company is, in fact, at some risk of going out of business. The parent corporation, Sunhawk.com, is poorly managed, bleeding dollars, and laying people off left and right. As far as I can see, they don't have a business model to speak of and CCS seems to generate the only real revenue they see. I doubt that it's enough to float the parent corp, especially considering the idiocy of the management team.

    True story: several months ago, Sunhawk had a staff of about fifty, approximately eight women and the rest men. The men's restroom had two toilets and a urinal--the women's had eight toilets; one apiece. Obviously, there was often a line outside the men's restroom. Much grumbling occurred, and the logical suggestion was made: let's switch restrooms. The CFO, a woman, nixes this, and starts getting quotes on how many thousand dollars it will cost to re-model the shower room as an additional men's restroom. This instead of a .2 cent sheet of paper to switch signage between the existing restrooms. I am no longer there, so I'm not sure how it turned out--but this whole discussion was after fifty employees had already been laid off. More have been let go since.

    They also continue to shell out for expensive tech toys, new servers and the like, although their website only has traffic maxes of about 40 concurrent users. Also, the place is a security nightmare--I imagine that anyone CCS has offended who has half a brain would want to attack the Sunhawk network instead and use the VPN link to hit CCS. CCS, obviously, has their end of the pipe locked down pretty well, but it matters little since getting in from Sunhawk would be a walk in the park.

    Posting anonymously for the obvious reasons (Taco, please don't give up my IP on a court order!)...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @02:48PM (#413154)
    You are all being psylogically manipulated by articles like this. Let's break down the article:

    Stealing, after all, is wrong and even though the Internet gives people a sense of anonymity, most people don't like to think of themselves as thieves.

    Step one. Shame the "pirate". Try to make him feel bad. Note that they shame anonymity too. More on this later. see [*] below.

    "A subpoena will look something like this," Powell says, lifting an inch-thick sheaf of papers off his desk. "A pirate gets this in the mail and it's like, 'holy s--t.'"

    Step two. Scare the "pirate". Bonus points for use of bleeped profanity.

    managing director of Copyright Control Services (CCS)

    Step three. Throw around big titles and acronyms to make the "pirate" hunter look like a massive organization replete with black helicopter, guns, huge offices next to the pentagon, etc. Full of important people... well full of something.

    Powell and his crack team of cybersleuths

    Step four. "Shock" words. Oooo. You left out "commando" and forgot the Mr. T speak.

    And Powell employs a formidable arsenal of remedies.
    and
    "no one on the Internet is as strong as CCS."

    Step five. Brag about the size of your dick. Translation of former: I 4m s00 l337 4nd my r00t ki7 4nd sniff3rz r s0 w3ll st0ck3d d00d! And of the latter: "My testicles are just sooo much bigger than yours!"

    He can have a suspect's Internet connection turned off
    and
    When the evidence seems irrefutable, Powell says: "Let's go get him."

    Step six. Make yourself into an unquestioned military dictator who need not go through due precess to 0wnz y0ur a55. "I can whack your ass on my authority any time I damn well fell like." Yah right.

    Powell represents a small list of software companies
    and
    "Gentlemen," he wrote, "please be aware that this is no longer a game. Software piracy is a crime. Infringement of our client's rights will not be tolerated.

    Step seven. Hide who you work for. A lack of names prevents bad publicity, stock value drops, and sales reductions that the "pirate" hunter KNOWS will result from pissed off consumers. The lack of names also gives the illusion of having more industry support than you really do, cuz you leave the reader to guess. [*] Wait, didn't they say anonymity was bad just a little earlier?

    "You can bet that 60 of these people were involved in piracy," he says. "If the police raid a whorehouse and you're standing in the hallways...."

    Step eight. Use guilt by association. Joseph McCarthy one said, "We'll go easier on you if you'll just provide us with the names of your fellow communists."

    One frustrated poster queried the group as to why his requests for software were going unanswered. "You should be aware that many regular posters are lying low right now," came the reply. "CCS is out. They got me more than a year ago. Otherwise I'd help you out."

    Step nine. Make up lots of fake "piracy" busts. Have conversations with yourself on USENET behind different secr3t h4ndl3z to make it look like you're having an impact. Act real scared of yourself when you're impersonating other people.

    You are imperiling the future of music production. This is a felony in the U.S.

    Step 10. Always advocate that US law is, of course, world law. Other nations are all backward and savage and need to be enlightened and tamed, eh? Surely everyone agrees that land/ideas/etc. can be owned, right? We are from the One True Culture! We pat ourselves on the back for trading necklace beads for Manhattan Island from those dumb barbarian indians. Aren't we clever!

    Step 11, prevalent throught is to elevate illegal copying into this thing, "PIRACY" . Demonize the crime to make it seem more evil. It's not. That's why I use the quotes. Piracy is where thugs board ships at sea, kill (or rape and then kill) the crew and passengers and loot the vessel for whatever they can get.

    This is on a par with copying a PSX CD? A rapist or 2nd degree murderer can be caught, tried, sentenced, serve his time and be out in 3 years and not one dollar in fines, while the unauthorised copier can get 10 years and $1,000,000 in fines? U, excuse me?

    So, is this organisation really doing anything? Why should they? Their goal is to warp the mind of the "pirate" into giving up his activity. This is psychological mind games. If you stop, they win. Fight the power. Fight the propaganda. If they had their way, You'd owe them money every time you power up your PC or click on an app. The threat of "piracy" keeps software vendors from raising prices beyond that "sweet spot" between too high of a price boosting piracy and too low of a price that doesn't turn as much a profit as they can otherwise get. It's all about THEIR money and how to extract YOUR MONEY from you to the maximum extent that they can. For you are the consumer. FUCK YOU.

    Remember, "It's not theft if nothing's missing."

  • It may be that the whole Napster phenomenon is our "Boston Tea Party".

    Unfortunately, the some of the partygoers were too stupid to bug out, and have been caught.
  • by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:25PM (#413157) Homepage Journal
    It is another to act as an international terrorist, acting as a hired gun to blackmail anyone who opposes a particular corporation's policy.

    A bit strong? Then let's look at the terms.

    • Terrorist - One who uses fear and intimidation as weapons to pursue a political agends.
    • Hired Gun - Mercenary. One who operates in a hostile manner towards "undesirables" for money.
    • Blackmail - Demands With Menaces (legal definition). To use threats - implied or actual - to compel another to meet some demand, usually monetary payment.

    This guy makes the Sheriff of Nottingham look like a saint. Further, his actions could constitute a violation of the UK's Data Protection Act and also a violation of anti-hacking laws.

    (Which, since UK law now defines crackers as terrorists, goes back to point #1.)

    Under UK law, this guy could be looking at life, with no chance of release, =IF= the UK police chose to act. He'd make a nice cell-mate for Ian Brady.

    We'll see how interested the UK Govt. is in acting in the interests of it's citizens, with how it reacts to his conduct.

    • If law enforcement wants technical knowledge that would help them do their job, they have to buy it from the same group of people that built the infrastructure that allows us to copy information.
    So what your saying, if I understand correctly, is that hackers/coders/geeks should close ranks like a jealous preisthood and cut off access to the knowledge that would allow the law enforcement community to understand or control technology.

    I hate to break it to you, but there's already something in place that will make witholding this kind of information impossible. It's called The Open Source Movement . Maybe you should look into it.

    • Sure, the information is available, but they can't get their hands on anyone that knows what to do with it.
    Right... because everyone in law enforcement all the way up to the FBI is a dumb, donut-eatin' mutherfucker who can't read "Linux for Dummies."

    The real flaw in this plan is that they're not that stupid.

  • Besides, when stream-monitoring for digital watermarks and stuff like that, how are they going to tell the difference between an "illegal download" and a legitmate listener listening to a legitimate internet-radio broadcast...unless they're going to restrict broadcast software (and again, its too damn late) to proprietary-only schemes and find some way to illegalize it.


    They keep forgetting that mp3, xmms, icecast -- its all out of the bag. Even if they kill shoutcast, winamp, mp3.com, and live365.com, its too late. I can still set up my own little private internet-radio station all i want. I already have the tools and they can't (legally) take them away (yet).

  • So somebody writes a P2P software package that's "anonymous". Yes, it means whoever wrote the damn thing will be an RIAA target (like the norwegian who wrote DeCSS is being targetted by the MPAA), but again -- the cat will be outta the bag...
  • Because (provided you're GPLing it) U.S. law still conflicts with the GPL. You can't give the sources away in a "generic" fashion once you have a copy within the u.s., because you couldn't allow your copy, or your modifications, to leave the country.
  • to get the scheme described in the L.A. Times article to work. All you have to do is take open-source gnutella (or future opensource efforts to produce P2P packages) and build in automatic 40-bit encryption. It remains fully distributable (since 40bit is exportable, so code can still be covered under GPL), but no attempt at digital watermarking and stream-monitoring will be able to detect through it.

    Basically, catching "napster pirates" is going to end up a lot like catching speeders. Every so often, to meet quotas, they'll pick on one or two here and there, and those will probably be given fines or penalties far out of proportion to their "crime"...and otherwise, they stick to going for the napster-pirate equiv of "aggressive drivers".

  • by Cardinal Biggles (6685) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:12PM (#413168)

    All this made sense until you started calling copying "stealing".

    Because no matter what you think of it, unauthorized copying is not stealing.

    If you want to seem neutral on these issues, try to avoid the copyright industry's terminology.

  • >Dave Powell is just using that system.

    The system being flawed is not a justification for the abuse of that flaw by individuals/entities (such as, in this case, David Powell/CCS). Just because the system allows something doesn't mean it's right.

    If a website has poor security, does this make it okay to rip off credit card numbers from the site?

    His abuse of the legal system to force huge legal bills on people who haven't been convicted of a single thing to me seems to be a simple case of the richer party bullying the poorer one. It's to the point where acual guilt or innocence isn't really the issue, it's "how much money can we get out of this guy?".

    And that's sad.
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:01PM (#413175) Homepage
    I can see it now, fast fwd 20 years hence, a current college student is running for President and is asked, "Have you ever pirated music?" - answer: "Well, I, uh, I did download a track once, heck everybody did it back then! But I didn't listen to it!"

  • And the CCS servers are frequent targets of attack; on Christmas Eve Powell opened Outlook Express to find he'd been mail-bombed with 15,000 messages
    Must have been 1 e-mail with a recursive virus in it...

    --

  • Powell relies on the fact that most law enforcement in the world doesn't really know very much about criminal activity related to the internet. A few years back I was actually questioned by the local police department about some internet related threats, and the officer in charge of the investigation admitted that she knew practically nothing about computers.
    Some years ago, a joint I used to work at sold some computers to what turned out to be a bunch of scammers (scamming U.S. pensioners out of Canada). Well, lo and behold, the RCMP, upon learning we sold them the computers they had seized, promptly came to our place and asked them to fix the computers they had fucked-up after seizing them. They did stupid thing like swapping the file server hard disk with a workstation's. The scary thing is that this tampered evidence was accepted by the court.

    During the long chats we had with some of the squad members responsible for that stunt while we were waiting for the drive-images to be done, we learned that they got the computer crime squad assignment because they were considered to be 133t k0p5 , since they were fresh from a stint in the antiterrorist squad...

    (Btw, they were the same dudes who pinned-down Mafiaboy, which, ironically, lived on the same street as my boss...)

    Shades like that typist we heard earlier here who was promoted to head of the IT department because she was the one who typed the fastest...

    --

  • Evidence of this type is rarely accepted into a court trial, because it becomes the prosecutions responsibility to not only present the evidence, but to prove that it wasn't faked. Evidence collected during a warranted search is generally accepted to be "valid" for the purposes of trial (though it too can be challenged), but evidence that is "handed in" by someone else must be immediately treated as suspect. The odds are that any decent defense attorney could have the evidence supressed in a pre-trial hearing so that the judge or jury would never be permitted to see it during trial.

    There is an easy way around this though: Let's say that I'm a cop and that you gave me a printout of illegally obtained info you'd pulled off a website. For all intents and purposes, that information is useless to me. But that doesn't mean that I can't use it. I could easily obtain a warrant and go get that information myself so that I WOULD have a valid copy. There are numerous legal yardsticks that have to be applied to this, and it tends to be a legal mess when it happens ("fruits of the poisoned tree" arguments), but 90% of the time evidence can be shoved through this way.
  • No, you're looking at it wrong. This is, for all intents and purposes, just an out of court settlement. It would be like you smashing my car up with a baseball bat, and me catching the whole thing on video. I could walk over to you the next day and hand you a bill with the stipulation "pay it now and I'll forget this happened, or fight it and I'll sue you and press charges". There's nothing wrong with that at all. You broke the law, and I'm giving you a way out that satisfies me and doesn't involve jailtime for you. You still have the option of your day in court if you want it, but you know that the evidence is irrefutable.

    Besides, you're also overlooking the fact that you can sue someone for maliciously suing you. You're arguing that this could catch innocent people, so I'll use myself as an example: I am not a music pirate. I can honestly sit here and say that I have never stolen one piece of music in my life. So what would I do if this company came at me with the allegation that I was running a music swapping service? I'd fight them, and it would be on THEIR shoulders to prove that I actually did it. And after I won? I'd turn around and slap THEM with a HUGE punitive lawsuit for harrasment, character defamation, and all the other things my lawyer could think of. Innocents, if they have half a brain in their heads, could end up PROFITING from false allegations. And who could disagree with that? :-)
  • A few rebuttals:

    Would you be willing or able to invest potentially tens of thousands of dollars in your legal defense should CCS somehow get the idea that you are violating copyrights?
    First off, it's a common misconception that defending yourself has to be expensive. Those sky-high lawyers fees you hear about are usually related to murder and other serious felony cases where lab work, expert witnesses, and other big $$ items are needed. But in these types of cases, that isn't needed (unless you want to hire a $500 an hour lawyer). Realistically, you can hire a GOOD defense attorney for anywhere from $1000 to $2500 (and crappy ones for less than that). Countersuits and harassment suits are often taken pro bono.

    Even if you are (in your mind) unquestionably innocent, think about the expected cost of your lawsuit. First, don't count on recouping your legal fees just because you're found innocent -- they only need to show that they weren't being reckless (IANAL, BTW)
    Actually, it wouldn't even be that hard to win. What they would have to prove is that they had convincing evidence to indicate that you were the perpetrator of the theft. If they lost the court case based on their evidence, winning a countersuit is fairly simple.

    Oh, and IANAL either (I'm a programmer), but my mother is a criminal defense attorney with nearly 30 years experience, who has been through scenarios very similar to this one several times since she started taking on computer fraud and theft cases (BTW, she has had several clients settle when guilt was obvious, but she's never had one found guilty). I just happened to grow up listening to legal discussions and reading law journals :-)

    But to continue...

    So figure legal fees + (probability of being wrongly found guilty) * (penalties if you're found guilty)...(ed)...I'm guessing that at around a 5% chance of being found wrongly guilty, you're going to win by just paying out.
    I guess that could be argued, since there's always a small chance of being found wrongly guilty (genuine statistics put it closer to 1-2% BTW). But even at 5%, look at the odds...that's a 95% chance of the truth prevailing. That's a 95% chance of you filing a countersuit and walking away with a few hundred thousand in your pocket. That's a 95% chance that you can give 'The Man' the high hard one. Perhaps I'm being a little cold, but I look at it this way; anybody who would bail and pay out on a 5% chance of failure deserves what he gets. To preserve your rights, you must be willing to stand up and fight for them. And with any fight, there's ALWAYS a small chance of failure. Besides, there's always appeals :-)

    Further, their behavior can easily prevent people from freely exercising rights that they may have to use copyrighted materials. Consider the questionable process of downloading an MP3 of a song you own on CD in order to space-shift that song for play on your Rio. Maybe you want to help your less technically-minded friends do this by providing them with MP3s for songs you know they own on CD. Is this fair use?
    Straw man argument. If you are sending your friends MP3's of CD's they already own by email, nobody is going to bother you. If, by chance, someone from the RIAA does come knocking, their argument dies the second you show them the jewel case from the CD's in question. They can try to slap you with any penalty they want, but no court in the land would convict you for something like that, and almost ANY court would award YOU money to punish them for being so stupid.

    the small guy can't help but be screwed in some situations. But being innocent is *not* necessarily enough in order not to have to worry about these guys.
    Sure, I got a speeding ticket when I was younger, when I was absolutely sure that I wasn't speeding. I'm sure that cops decision to pull me over had more to do with the fact that I was a purple haired teenager driving a beatup Camaro through the "nice" section of town than it had to do with my cars velocity. I ended up paying a $100 fine for something I didn't do, but I DON'T use that occasion to argue for the disbandment of our local police force. There will always be a small number of people who get unfairly burned, but that's a side effect of any society. If someone could figure out an efficient system that would eliminate this while still making sure that the guilty are punished, I would embrace it wholeheartedly. But as noone has invented such a system yet...
  • Move out of your parents' basement. Take a bath. Get a job. Pay for the stuff you want. I'm sure this will take you a bit longer than most with your new burger-flipper salary, but you'll feel better about yourself when you're no longer a bottom-feeder of society.


    Cheers,

  • It may be a bit gauche to reply to one's own post, but in the time I wrote my post, someone else posted my general idea, but even better: Hit them where it will hurt [slashdot.org].

    ---
  • So you restricted Fnord Software from using v4.0 of Frobnitz software, because of them being Evil Greedy Slime and such. But lo and behold, they mend their evil ways. What do you do? Release v4.0.1 (all you need change is the copyright notice and the license notice), with the restriction against them removed. Voila, problem solved.

    Heck, the release history of your program could serve as a list of who was Evil at the time.

    Your point about compromising principles is a valid one, but we don't all have to be Gandhi to get our principles across. Sometimes you have to play the Greedy Slime game in order to fight them. What you can't let it do is dull your purpose. Preventing companies or individuals from using your code purely on a capricious or arbitrary basis only serves as ego gratification; but trying to keep the gun that you yourself made out of your enemy's hands because he'll try to kill you with it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even the highest-minded open source advocates must admit that they get a sour feeling in their stomach if they stop to think how much use emacs and gcc is to, say, the programmers at Microsoft.

    That's just my view on it, anyways.

    ---
  • by bee (15753) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:24PM (#413195) Homepage Journal
    All the cooperation from backbone providers et al won't do them a damn bit of good if they can't tell what's being passed thru them.

    The moral to the story? Use strong encryption on *everything*. Hell, Napster could fsck over lots of its enemies simply by integrating strong encryption into its client.

    ---
  • by bee (15753) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:04PM (#413196) Homepage Journal
    Probably lots of you are wondering how to fight a company like this. Granted, there are countless legal, quasi-legal, and illegal methods, but here's one that's totally above board and reasonable.

    If you write open-source software, consider adding something like the following to your license of choice: "The following companies are forbidden from using this software in any manner: __________. Violation of this clause means said company agrees to give $1 million or 10 percent of their yearly gross combined domestic and international sales, whichever is greater, to the Free Software Foundation, per violation." I'm not a lawyer, so I'm sure someone could make that legally firm by rewriting it appropriately.

    Why let companies like this use our own tools against us?

    ---
  • A work around? Sure.

    % lynx "http://www.law.com/cgi-bin/gx.cgi/AppLogic+FTCont entServer?pagename=law/View&c=Article&cid=ZZZ5EVNA GJC&live=true&cst=1&pc=0&pa=0&s=News&ExpIgnore=tru e&showsummary=0"

    Enjoy :-)

    It renders messed up in my Nutscrape, also, by the way. But lynx shows it up a treat
  • by rw2 (17419) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @11:54AM (#413198) Homepage
    There are some fascinating and ugly quotes in here about how this guy goes after targets - a combination of harassment and threats against their service providers, admitted illegal actions, etc.

    Look, we all bitch an moan about how the RIAA shouldn't be trying to shut down Napster. Why? Because they are doing nothing wrong. They are like a publisher of bomb making books.

    The fact is, a crime is being committed. The RIAA should not be going after Napster, but you can bet your ass they should be going after the violaters. Like jammer in the story.

    They are the ones causing all the problems. If you don't agree with a law (or a business practice in the case of the leeches at RIAA passing almost no money on to the artists) you don't have a right to break it (Thoreau aside for the moment as even in the case of civil disobedience you don't have a right to expect not to be jailed).

    The reason this is our great hope is that the public won't stand for it. The RIAA attacked Napster because they knew that going after the fans was a loser. If this guy does it then one of two things is going to happen. Either Congress will pass laws at the request of the nation to fuck the RIAA, or the RIAA is going to realize that the nationwide boycott of their goods is costing more than sueing jammer can earn them and they'll come up with a better idea.

    --

  • > Besides, there's always appeals :-)

    There are also baseball bats. I have a feeling that if they weren't careful who they threatened they'd end up with a lot more than $10k in legal bills.

    And I can't really say I'd care. I mean, if you use death-by-lawyer as a threat and are willing to back it up with more money than your target, you shouldn't be suprised when they circumvent the system in responding to the charges.

    People have expressed suprise that this guy hasn't opened a mailbomb. I'll second that. He's basically threatening to ruin people, financially and with criminal charges. They're supposed to lay there and take it, or pay for a lawyer who only MIGHT get them off, and then has a smaller chance of winning anything as compensation... I don't think many people would take that path.

    Oh well, scum gets what scum deserves.
  • It's not a new idea, but I've been thinking a lot about that these days.

    Ignorance isn't an excuse in the eyes of the law, we all hear that. So nobody can plead that they didn't know murder was a crime.

    But honestly, nobody can know about the DMCA, UCITA, and all the other new (and crooked, but that's another topic) laws coming out. Even lawyers specializing in the area aren't sure exactly what is and isn't allowed.

    So how exactly is someone supposed to keep from breaking the law? Being psychic?

    The complete total text of all laws should be in a form easily readable by a high-school graduate in less than a day.

    And before anyone answers that a high-school graduate probably only has a grade-six reading level, that should change the form of the laws. If they're too complex for the citizens to understand, make them simpler. If something can only be expressed in ten-syllable latin words, it's probably not relevant to the people.

    I really think that ignorance should be an excuse, if the laws aren't announced to the people and not taught in schools.

    There are problems with it, but all in all, I think it's a good idea.

    It'd also get rid of lawyers, if everyone understood the law. You might hire a representative who is a good public speaker, but you wouldn't be dependant on them to tell you what the law is.
  • That's the problem now.

    Which is why I think we need to make the laws accessible to the common people and make that part of the curriculum in school.

    Then nobody would have the excuse that they didn't know, (because the whole text of the laws would be available everywhere and would be taught extensively) so the excuse wouldn't work.

    Nowadays, you don't know who knows the law and not because our system makes no effort to inform people of the law. Even when the law is available it's often in a form that few people can understand and even fewer people can grasp all the implications of.

    Now, it's basically impossible except for someone who specializes in an area of law, to know the law. Ignorance isn't an excuse, it's the standard condition.

    Imagine if speed limits weren't posted but were enforced with variable penalties. And if companies were allowed to set speed limits and enforce the law in some areas.

    Even if you did check the limits at the library before a trip, how would you know if it had changed? (Like the DMCA just being recently passed, and changing the whole legal landscape.)

  • Personally, I think I should be paid for the effort of creating the software, not for the number of coppies of it that get made.

    ISWYM, but there seems to be a problem with that argument.

    If I produce good IP, it's likely to spread and become popular. If I produce bad IP, it's not that likely that anyone will use it. Note I'm specifying IP rather than anything more specific - as a musician as well as a coder, it applies equally to both.

    Now, good IP clearly enriches the knowledgepool of my community - while bad IP doesn't. We can therefore clearly benefit from an incentive to produce better IP.

    Some would argue that recognition from and adoration by your community which you would recieve would be sufficient - and for some tasks and some people, it will be. I know I get a kick whenever people react well to my music, or if I see my code in the wild. But that won't always cover it. What about large projects where identifying individuals is impossible? What about the important but unglamorous tasks which people need done but don't tend to appreciate?

    To promote good IP, we need more than recognition as a reward. In our current society model, cash seems to be the best way right now. So, we pay people per copy to give them an incentive to produce work which is likely to be more widely copied.

    Just IMHO of course, but hopefully you follow the argument.

  • >>It's bad crime-fighting too, since in the U.S. evidence obtained illegally is automatically discarded.

    I was under the impression that evidence obtained illegally was only discarded if the source was a law enforcement agency. If evidence obtained illegally is presented to a law enforcement agency then they may use it (since THEY didn't act illegally to obtain the evidence). Now, wether charges can/should be brought against someone like that for breaking and entering is a totally different matter.
  • >> Amazing to hear that a lawyer will actually admit to doing something like that.

    Oh, and while we are on the topic, can a move be made for an ethical hearing to have him dis-barred? >:)

  • by deesvito (29835) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:05PM (#413209) Homepage
    "...In December 2000, CCS ran across one of the most brazen pirate sites Powell had seen on the Internet in months....[Powell] received a tip from an informant who knew the site's administrative password, allowing Powell to download the e-mail addresses of all the registered users."

    Isn't this crime under the legislation of most developed nations? If you access a person's computer without that person's authorization (even if you have all the passwords), you are guilty of hacking and can go to jail (unless you are law enforcement and have a warrant to search).. Amazing to hear that a lawyer will actually admit to doing something like that.

    It's bad crime-fighting too, since in the U.S. evidence obtained illegally is automatically discarded.

    I usually don't care about the whole piracy debate (it's easy not to worry about it that much when you use Linux), but it really irks me when I read about someone using illegal techniques to catch people doing illegal stuff.

  • Instead of thinking of IP as property think of it as labor
    Yes, intellectual pursuits that result in ideas and patterns do require labor.

    When you take someone's IP without their permission you are instituting a form of slavery.

    This is ludicrous. Nobody is forced to create patterns or ideas. Hence the comparison with slavery (forced work) doesn't hold. If somebody hires you to write some code to help solve one of their problems, they will pay you for your labor. If the code happens to fall into other hands and ends up helping others solve their problems too, that doesn't change the fact that you got paid to solve the first person's problem. Fact is, we don't need IP laws for intellectual workers to get paid. They will get paid any time somebody has a hard problem and needs a smart person to solve it. There is a never ending supply of these problems that people will pay to have solved, irregardless of how the code in your solution is later used.


    • Helping people solve their specific problems using your smarts => Good Business model
    • Extorting money through artificially imposed scarcity of patterns and ideas (via IP laws) => Bad Business Model & Unenlightened Businessman IMHO
  • I think that the implied "one to many" relationship is not valid. Only explicit contracts should be respected. The "implicit" social contract whereby people are supposed to sacrifice their freedoms for a (increasingly less) limited period of time so that new ideas can be brought to light - that contract is flawed. Society gets the short end of that stick. Plenty of great ideas and works were created and shared long before there was a social contract for IP. The intelletual process is not going to stop simply because the relatively recent invention of "intellectual property" is repealed.

    If one person came up with some ideas or patterns to solve a particular problem for which they were paid the going rate, it doesn't seem right to prevent other people from using those ideas or patterns as part of a solution to other problems. If every solution to a problem can become "intellectual property", then innovation is stifled by cumbersome patent searches, petty litigation, and taxing licensing fees - basically what we have now. All of this machinery may be a way for some people to extract more money out of others, but it is mainly just friction. Better to forget the headache of "intellectual property" and create ideas and patterns as "works for hire" or as a form of self expression or hobby. Smart people will still make plenty of money from those who need their services. And those smart people will be even more effective since they will be free to draw upon any ideas or patterns that have come before and not have to waste time researching patent databases, etc.

    It's all about adjusting your business models. Business models which hinge upon IP (artificial enforced scarcity & curbing freedom of people to do as they want with ideas and patterns) - those business models are not necessary in a modern society and they fly in the face of intellectual freedom. They are distastefull in their arrogance and disregard for liberty, and simply not necessary.

    We can do just fine without IP and eliminate all of this so and so suing such and such BS that is just a waste of our time and money. It's time for a more enlightened existence where intellectual freedoms and liberty take priority over corporate interests. But I realize I'm going to have to live in this "real world" instead.
  • Pharmaceuticals is the one area where I think a limited form of IP might still be useful, since the R&D and FDA approval process is so long. If we are to have IP, then I think it would only make sense to protect the IP for a period of time in proportion to the time it takes to develop and test a product of that genre. So software and lots of computer tech stuff would expire very quickly, where drugs would have a little more time to recoup the huge development costs.
  • The entire IP issue has gotten entirely out of hand. This is no longer even close to any form of justice, this is mob tactics. And this has no innocent until proven guilty anywhere in it.

    Mr Powell has apparently hired someone who can read newsgroup headers. Which can be forged. Which are _usually_ forged in these cases. Then he goes after the 'apparent' target and threatens them into paying him (wether or not they even know how to use a news reader...). This isnt even funny.

    The argument for Freenet and similar technologies becomes so much stronger. These lawyers must not have any sort of information to go on _at_ all. Sources and destination adresses, storage nodes and everything must be moved entirely outside anyones ability to obtain, because it has become blindingly obvious that the justice system cannot be trusted anymore, and that blackmail has become standard legal practice.

    Its not even about protecting freedom of speech, its about protecting the innocent bystanders from an IP industry run amok.
  • Jessica Litman, a professor of copyright law at Wayne State University in Chicago,

    Wayne State University is in Detroit, unless there is a) another one, and b) they also specialize in IP law.
  • I use Spamcop [spamcop.net] for this very reason. I want to shut down the people who spam me by getting their providers to harass them.

    Now, someone is mis-using the providers to do the same to people who may have done nothing wrong.

    What we really need is a formal (but government-independant) way of coordinating the complaints, arbirating them and deciding if a) the user should be removed b) the case merits being moved out of that forum and into the courts and c) which parties are actually involved. Something like Spamcop with more feedback (Spamcop's feedback process for ISPs is great, and there really is a lot of good you do for yourself by signing up if you send out ANY bulk email, even true opt-in). You track the complaints and allow ISPs to feed back the results of their research, closing a complaint if it's been resolved.

    This would slow down our Mr Powell, but it would also give the pirates a force to fear, which, quite honestly is needed. It's *not* legal or even a particularly nice thing to steal someone's copyrighted work. At the same time, services like Napster should not have to pay the price for their users' indiscressions.
  • Sweet racket, isn't it? RICO anyone? Either pay 'protection money', or they fuck you over, whether or not your guilty, and the best part is no trial necessary.

    Problem is would anyone one go after them. It appears that in practice law enforcement is more interested in criminal organisations setting up business, than organisations who decide to flout the law.
  • What an asshole that guy is. He's not doing this for the good of the economy or the artists that make that music. He's doing this to make a name for himself.

    --

  • When we turn 50, someone from our age group will become president. He/she will have to face any newsgroup posts!

    "Wasn't it true that in 2001, you made a joke about goats.ex?"

    Rader

  • by Rader (40041) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @01:16PM (#413226) Homepage
    That's what crossed my mind.

    In that perspective, he made many statements claiming his own company's future financial demise. However, I'm sure he figures he's sipping from an ocean, with a seemingly unlimited supply. He could move from audio utilities to professional graphics, plus the many references to the big-5's 40 BILLLION dollar industry.

    The tactics he's using to strongarm pirates in submission (Pay $5000 or I take you to court, and then and only then we find out if you're guilty) reminds me of the beginning of all the mob movies I've seen. Remember Good Fellas, where the school was mailing home absentee letters? Beat up the mail man! Problem solved. Sounds familiar. I think he could turn into the BIG BROTHER we've all thought the government would become. Pay us $200 or we tell your employer you downloaded alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.bestiality from home. Or, we parsed your email to your mom about how the boss sucked.

    Rader

  • by prizog (42097)
    This guy has a paralegal draft a subpoena, and he sends it on to the ISP? Where's the judge in this? You can't just send out subpoenas willy-nilly. IANAL, and I'll be asking one tonight - but this is wrong!
  • How long is it before a disenting site's content is viewed as an act of heresy against good thought patterns (well conditioned thought patterns that associate well and agree with the Ruling Authorities Views) and is shut down in a similar way?
  • This guy reminds me of Officer Hege(or whatever his name is), that hot-roddin' tough-as-nails LART-welding sheriff that even has his little cable show in the county jails of the little hick town he guards, except he's a lawyer and his hick town is the Internet.

    And there has been some accusations of officer Hege dragging innocent people out of their homes and beating them senseless.
  • He brags as if he were Jeff K of somethingawful.com, but all the words are spelled correctly.
  • It looks like one of the methods they plan to use is some kind of pattern matching or fingerprint identification done on the IP stream. If both endpoints use a session key, then all the snoopers would see would be encrypted data. Use public keys to protect the session key. Problem solved...

    Now the second issue - wouldn't this give "them" (whoever "they" are) a new tool for censorship? If this new system is to be effective, it will have to be largely automated. So now who is actually accountable if "they" start salting the copyright "database" with fingerprints of contents they want to censor?

    Hmmm...

  • That is why I find him repulsive.

    The real problem is a legal system that lets anyone with deep pockets force anyone they like to pay $100k, whether they're guilty of any crime or not.

    Dave Powell is just using that system.

    I also want to say that it's a bit premature to deem someone repulsive because of one article. He comes across as such an asshole because the writer wanted it that way.
  • Here's a quote from the article. You seem to claim that Litman is entirely wrong here?

    Even if Jammer could find a lawyer to represent him, he would probably be advised to pay the fine and move on.

    Jessica Litman, a professor of copyright law at Wayne State University in Chicago, says that in these cases a
    lawyer's best advice would be to pay the fine. "If you're a lawyer and someone comes to your client from Walt
    Disney, you are not going to tell your client to go ahead with the trial," she says. "You could be right, but it would
    take seven years and $100,000 to find out."
  • as noted by the article, this appeared in the standard linked here:
    http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151, 22315,00.html [thestandard.com].

    What I find most funny about this article is the following quote:

    And the CCS servers are frequent targets of attack; on Christmas Eve Powell opened Outlook Express to find he'd been mail-bombed with 15,000 messages

    Uhm. Outlook Express? What, are you kidding me?

    [/rant]
  • Those proxy's are pretty trivial to workaround.

    Here's what you do:

    Encrypt whatever you're sending with a random key. Do this for each seperate person whom you transmit a file to. (As Twofish can encrypt at 10mb/sec, it's unlikely that you have a continous connection faster than you can encrypt.)

    At the very end of the file, transmit the decryption key.

    The idea is that it makes it impossible for anyone to determine what the file is until the very end. That way, any widespread snooping will require storing a file until they get to the end. You won't be able to just look at the beginning of a transfer to decide whether or not to ignore it.

    For a P2P network, the overhead for servers or clients is pretty minor, and it makes it a lot harder to write snooping software, anyone trying to snoop (say) an aggregate of a thousand users transmitting 1-mb files is going to have to store a gigabyte, then decrypt and compare.

    A blocker could workaround this by saving only the first little bit of the file, then waiting until it gets to the end and not sending the decryption key on until it decrypts the prefix to see if it's on the censorship list.

    As a workaround, You can do the above process more than once, take a file, encrypt it, append the decryption key onto the end, encrypt THAT, append the decryption key on to the end, repeat this 10 times and save the final result on the HD. Every once in a while, you redo the above with different encryption keys. Then do one final encryption layer as you're sending it to a user.

    No, it isn't perfect, but it will make it a LOT more of a bitch for this type of snooping and blocking software. No fixed patterns, and it will force snooping software to both store each file sent, and decrypt the whole file if they want to see what's inside.

    They want to implement a censorship system, and use it to prevent unauthorized duplication. Well, I have every right to make it a bitch right back at 'em.

  • There's no trial, no evidence, no due process. An innocent person is forced to pay a fine.

    This is wrong. In a free country like here, innocent people are not forced to pay fines for something they have not proved to have done. (Do not claim that they are guilty. Only a trial can assign guilt and no trial has occured.)

    That is why this is despicable. This is only the beginning, I bet. Just the first use of the ability to 'takedown' any infringing site. Look at Scientology over the last 10 years, and what they've managed to do in the pre-DMCA era.

    I guess the ability to post negative reviews of games, movies, books, software, or music is dead.

    Someone doesn't like a critique done on them. Just use the DMCA to take them down. Forget fair use, most people cannot afford to take it to a trial.

  • How many people has this guy convicted of infringement? Hell, how many people has he even formally accused of copyright infringement?

    On the other hand, how many people has he bullied?

    We have a saying: ``Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.'' This guy obviously has his own standards of guilt and innocence.

    That is why I find him repulsive.

  • It's almost amusing,

    Now, you can censor someone elses digital words cheaply and easily. Just use the DMCA and claim that it's a copyright infringement.

    What next? Using penis size to judge winnings in court cases? (They, whose lawyer has the lawyer with the smallest penis wins?)

  • To me, the author of the article seemed to be trying to be incredibly complimentary. Showing how someone with semi-unorthodox techniques was managing to beat the system.

    On the other hand, the author could know the psychology of people like me to come up with something that would seem incredibly complimentary to many people in law, and horribly repulsive to me.

    With the DMCA, guys like him can exist, do exist, and will continue to destroy people without trial or recourse.

  • For the public domain gains all patents in 18 years, and the public domain gains all copyrights in (about) 120 years. The government enslaves people for their artistic works, then gives them away after a century (was 30 years).

    And you, I might add that you are a thief, within your childhood, you STOLE the Santa Clause that rightfuly belonged to the descendants of Thomas Nast. You owe his estate all the happiness that you gained from Santa. And, when you have kids, you should make sure to not indebt them to Thomas Nast's descendents by keeping Santa Clause out of their life. Penalize their allowance to pay for it if you must, but you owe it to Nast's descendants. (BTW, Thomas Nast was a cartoonist for Harper's weekly. Created Santa Clause, Uncle Sam, and many other parts of american heritage. Died in 1908.)

    Reducto ad Absurbium.

    Next time, try to think about it more critically. Try to imagine a world without Santa. (And don't forget. Rudolph was created in the early 60's, and won't leave copyright till about 2050.)

  • by Convergence (64135) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:06PM (#413252) Homepage Journal
    I like this..

    They've managed to figure out how to fine and steal money from people without trial, without even convicting people of anything.

    They just send a takedown order and offer people a choice: Either pay $8000, or risk going into debt for the rest of your life just attempting to prove your innocence.

    Sweet racket, isn't it? RICO anyone? Either pay 'protection money', or they fuck you over, whether or not your guilty, and the best part is no trial necessary. They don't even need evidence!!

  • i wonder how good he would be at tracking a hit and run. where's this guy live anyway?
  • by dsplat (73054) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:00PM (#413256)
    Add language to open source licenses specifically prohibiting the use of any software, hardware or legal tactics to hinder redistribution. Specifically state that that particular clause applies not just to people who use the software, but to anyone who stores or transmits it. The value of open source is in the free distribution that allows collaborative communities to form. Any action that hinders that harms every user of open source. Use those licenses vigorously on any code or writing you produce. Make the web a minefield of intellectual property for them.

    Copyright (c) 2001 by dsplat.
    This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, v1.0 or later (the latest version is presently available at http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/ [opencontent.org]).
  • chmod 500 .netscape/cookies.txt
  • I make a living writing software, and I like the idea of authors, artists, etc. being able to make money from their creations. Someone out there give me a solid ethical justification for intellectual property restrictions, please.

    The original intent of the law is to allow you monopolistic but time-limited rights over your expression. I think it is not truly appropriate to call copyright IP, since it is not protected against reverse engineering (unlike patents). Expression is a better word. If you wrote a play or a song, you have limited time rights to allow or disallow public performances.

    Suppose there were no copyright protection. You wrote a huge software package and delivered it to a client. He had just paid a trivial amount for a pirated copy of that work, and now tells you to go away. Now, depending on how important you are to his business, he may or may not act this way. But, without copyright there is no legal recourse against it. After all, the pirates didn't remove anything from you.

    But they did affect your monopolistically controlled market. And that can hurt you commercially. I would argue strenuously that today's market is absurd, and that is why something like Free Software can exist. But very few people argue against copyright. In fact, copyrights are the basis of the strength of the GPL. If do work for clients under the GPL/BSD/Artistic license, you will make it much cheaper and easier for someone else to provide a similar service, and the quality of software can rise dramatically.
  • > I make a living writing software, and I like
    > the idea of authors, artists, etc. being able
    > to make money from their creations. Someone
    > out there give me a solid ethical justification
    > for intellectual property restrictions, please.

    "It makes money"

    As far as I can tell, thats the major ethical argument in favor of IP.

    I agree, I like the idea of Artists and Software programmers making their money (or our money, programming is afterall part of my job). However, I think thats possible without IP restrictions (maybe not as much money in some cases, but that doesn't justify the restrictions).

    The Only thing that I see as "protected" by these restrictions is the "Publishing Industry". They are useful in what they do but...they are not either authors or end consumers. If the market changes and they are no longer profitable, then they should buck up and get new jobs.

    The law, as written - and as advocated by the copyright profiteers, is that if you copy and distribute a copyrighted work without permission, then the government has the right to send armed soldiers (called "police") to your house and to drag you away kicking and screaming to a cage where you are treated like an animal. Is that what normally happens? No. However, if you don't bow to their demands, its an option available to them.

    At first they start with threats, then court, then fines, then it would escalate to these more drastic measures. However NO LAW is justified EVER unless these actions by the state that are used to enforce the laws are justified as a response to what has been done.

    Simple test. The law says you can't do X. Do you feel that a person who does X deserves to be dragged out of their home by armed soldiers and thrown in a cage?

    ANY law that does not fit that test, is an unjust and unethical law.

    -Steve
  • > The theft of music, regardless of whether the
    > artist still has their copy of the song, is
    > theft - pure and simple.

    It all boils down to this doesn't it?

    YOu obviously believe that information can be owned, and that the restrictions of copyright are "right".

    So yes, with those fundamental concepts, yes it is pure and simple.

    However, I disagree with them. I do not see copyright law as justified or right. I, in fact, think that stopping the free sharing of information (whether or not you are the "author" of that information) is morally wrong and unjustified by ANYTHING (the only exception being a persons personal, private information - like a log in a diary or your Bank account numbers).

    From that viewpoint, which is mine, it is not "theft - pure and simple".

    -Steve
  • I am not advocating taking away anyones "right to to decide whether I want to be compensated for my work."

    I am advocating getting rid of government imposed restrictions on copying. Now, if that makes it harder for you to be compensated for you work, you are free to find a new way to attain compensation - one that does NOT require an army of armed soldiers (called police) to change the behaviour of your fellow citizens.

    As I said previously (was it in this thread?) a law is a statment by the government that "If you do X, our soldiers are authorized to stop you". I do not believe that copping is wrong.

    As I have said, "Unauthorized Copying" is not stealing by MY definition of stealing. Information is not property, and I don't care how much jumping up and down and complaining about "wanting compensation" you do, it does not have the same features as real property, its not property.

    As for compensation, I have already said that I think it is wholly right that artisans be compensated for their creations. I am willing to compensate them to encourage good work.

    What I am not willing to do is to support copyright law. People share information and thats good. Information is not property, and copying information is not stealing. Not even the law, which I have stated I disagree with, calls it stealing.

    In fact, its quite clear, from looking at the law, that an illegally obtained copy is just that, illegally obtained. Not illegal to posess or use. Fair Use still applies! How would you correlate this with this concept of "Information as Property"? Of course, the entire concept of "fair use" seems to contradict the doctrine of "IP" now doesn't it?

    Would you advocate that personal ice making machines and freezers should have been outlawed because of what they did to the ice harvesting industry? (just think, a person can go out to a lake now, and cut ice from the frozen lake, and noone will compensate them for their work...a whole industry was wiped out!)

    -Steve
  • I hope that gets modded up. I'm always tempted to post that when this crappy 'IP' thread rears its head, but it's like shouting into the wind. In the version I heard, the poor man had rented a room over the cookshop and used to eat his bowl of porridge while inhaling the rich cooking odors coming through the cracks in the floor.
    In the end, the judge says, "for the smell of fish, the sound of coin."
  • I own *PLENTY* of steinberg software legally. However, I've made a resolution not to buy anymore until they deal with their copy protection issued.

    I purchased their vst instrument lm4 and 3 "kit connection" cds to go with it (about 400$ list, I think I paid 200$ worth total)... i take it home -- and the copy protection scheme can't authenticate its an original cd because of some incompatibility with win2k. Steinberg has been aware of this problem for atleast 6 mos (although I wasn't when I bought it ...) So I'm running the (buggy) pirate version of a program I *LEGALLY OWN* because their copy protection is preventing legitamate users from using the software.

    Plus, legitamate steinberg products often ask for their original cd to authenticate at random times ... (The pirate versions don't) ... Nothing like doing some fucked up cd check when you've got a deadline to make.

    These measure might be usefull if they were actually preventing piracy, but obviously, they're not.

    And this brings me to my last point, have you checked the prices of this software latley? It's outrageous ... Cubase VST32 ? 600 - 700$ .. then you gotta mess with dongles ... 600$ is far beyond the reach of most hobbyists -- which are the people who are pirating their software. My point being, their prices create demand for piracy ... if they charged 100$ for their product (like TTS does with Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 -- which is comperable in features) they would sell alot more copies, because for every professional theres easily 100 amatuers ... if there wasn't, audio warez groups wouldn't exist.

  • I think you missed the point of my post, I can afford it, did buy it, and STILL don't have it because of the paranoia these companies exhibit. Steinberg refuses to give its paying customers satisfaction -- and I can't return the software (what retailer allows ANY customer to return software?). If it weren't for the pirates I wouldn't have *ANY RECOURSE*. I'd be stuck having paid 200$ for software that I can't use ... So you can see from my perspective -- the pirates have done myself AND steinberg a service.

    I'm not saying wholesale piracy is right. But most audiophiles don't do wholesale piracy either -- Why? -- because music gear is EXTREMLY expensive, between all my synths / instruments I have about 15,000$ worth of equiptment, and if you can spend that much on hardware, software really isn't that great of an expense.

    As for dave powell, hes simply a profiteer, riding the backs of UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws to make money. The DMCA is clearly unconstitutional, and the fines of 100,000$ per pirated program (I don't know which law provides for this) are very clearly cruel and unusual punnishment. Jail sentences are longer for piracy then MURDER.

  • Why not use a legitimate site and support the music you love so much.

    Hmm, like which site? Anybody have a link? Anybody?
  • Does anyone else picture this Powell guy as Satan wearing a tin halo?
  • Actually, that's perfectly legal. I would also suggest burning him in effigy, but then you have to be careful about laws against open flames, etc. Another good idea would be to cut off his head, fill the mouth with holy wafers, and throw him in a swift-running river. I'm pretty sure that one would be illegal. Still, amazing how big the holes in most laws are, isn't it? ;-)

  • "He has single-handedly rendered entire news groups suitable only for spam and porn"

    I knew there was someone was behind this!


  • by jvmatthe (116058) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:05PM (#413318) Homepage
    What happens if someone turns the "honeypot" idea around on the aggressors? That is, imagine that I own 1000 CDs and I set up an automatic downloader from Napster or some other p2p network of *only* mp3s of the music that I already legitimately own that I from various places on that service. Have another program which kills the MP3s as more space is needed. Make a big deal of it, by using all of my available bandwidth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months. This would have to get attention from the pit bulls after a while.

    Then, when they send a subpeona, actually take them to task, countersue on whatever grounds you can (invasion of privacy, frivilous lawsuit, emotional distress, whatever) and go to the courts knowing that you didn't download anything that *wasn't* (as far as you knew) not allowed by "fair use". Besides, you were just using the network to download things that you didn't already have rights to.

    Then, once they're busted a few good times, and hopefully had the pants sued off of them and some bad media exposure, see what happens.

    Then again, I need another Mountain Dew...

  • by Black Sabbath (118110) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:02PM (#413319) Homepage
    ...its now.

    When someone actually boasts about exploiting the prohibitive cost of mounting a legal defence then its time to look at reforming the system. The law exists to protect the innocent as well as punish the guilty. This guy however has a "Kill 'em all. Let God sort 'em out." kind of attitude.

    He claims to act when the "evidence" is decisive. But whose standard of evidence are we talking about here? He is not a judge, or even a lawyer but a person who admittedly gets off on coming down on his targets. To allow such a person to brazenly threaten people (comply or we will send you broke fighting it) amounts to sanctioned blackmail.


  • The article seems to be one big ad for CCS. The reality is that alt.binaries.sounds.utilities is still loaded with warez and Jammer still posts there. The headway that CCS has made on the issue of software piracy is meager at best.

    maru
  • And how do you plan to bind someone to a contract they don't even know about? Can I send you an e-mail that legally compels you to send me money? As long as service providers can even claim not to know about every single piece of data that passes through them, this simply won't work. Moreover, assuming that it were binding, providers would simply choose not to host the software. Now who benefits from such an arrangement?
  • It's not the end users that we need to worry about. It's the service providers who never explicitly installed the software that need to stop snooping. If you're thinking in terms of bad-guy end users that would use the client to see who's sharing what, how hard do you think it would be to make a clean-room snooper with no such legal binds? I.e., read the code, write down a spec for the protocol, then get somebody else to write the snooper. The same techniques hackers hold near and dear can just as easily be used by (for lack of a better word) counter-hackers.
  • Problem here is that you still have to post your hypothetical CDs to make them available to your P2P client. If somebody else happens to download from you, then you really are guilty of copyright infringement. In any case, good luck convincing the judge (a) that you weren't pirating anything - you just like clogging up your own system resources for the appearance of infringing copyright, and (b) that the other party invaded your privacy (or whatever) after you took special pains to attract their attention.
  • The case would get thrown out in a heartbeat. And you'd be out the cost of postage.
  • Under UK law, this guy could be looking at life, with no chance of release
    Wow; poetic justice. Somebody will penetrate HIS system, through a backdoor, and upload some unwanted data, if you get my drift. Hopefully it will be a 'brute force' attack.
  • by dingman (126949) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @02:08PM (#413328)
    >>Intellectual-property owners don't have a
    >>fundamental natural-law right to restrict the
    >>copying of their intellectual property.
    >
    >and
    >
    >>There is no right to steal others' IP.
    >
    >Which is it?

    Actually, there isn't a contradiction here, though it certainly is confusing. The orriginal poster is referring to a concept in the philosophy of law in which it is believed that there is a set of freedoms so fundamental that all people should enjoy them. Not everything one has a right to under this so-called "natural law" is necessarily reflected in human legal systems, and there isn't any guarantee that natural law addresses all subjects. The orriginal post is simply asserting that "rights" in this sense do not apply.

    Another use often made of the word "rights" is to speak of freedoms fundamentally guaranteed by the constitution of a country, generally, at least in my experience, the US of A. ('course, that's where I live, and we *do* have a tendency to forget that the rest of the world exists.) In the US, there clearly *isn't* any right to intilectual property. The constitution simply permits congress to make such IP laws as it deems fit. Conversely, since the congress is allowed to make IP laws, there isn't any legal right, here, to use other peoples' IP.

    There is also an important distinction to be made between ethical and economic justification of intilectual property. It seems clear to me that there is no economic justification - the marginal cost of a copy of a piece of software is entirely in the overhead of maintaining a high-bendwidth network. Once the bandwidth is there, it costs the same whether it is active or idly sending null-padded frames because you don't have anything to transfer.

    The ethical argument is less clear to me. Certainly, people who contribute new ideas, tools, and art deserve to be compensated for their efforts, if for no other reason that we'd all rather have them spend their time benefiting society that way than just trying to keep bread on the table. On the other hand, derivative works are the essence of progress. If it weren't for derivative works bulding upon eachother over the centuries, we'd still be a race of hunter-getherers, and probably not even much good at that. It seems to me immoral to refuse others permission to create coppies of my contributions to society and to create their own derivative works. For that reason, I license any code I write under the GPL unless otherwise compelled by someone who is paying me to write the code. Even then, I try. Personally, I think I should be paid for the effort of creating the software, not for the number of coppies of it that get made.

    Despite the orriginal poster's claim that freedom of expression is entirely separate, I must disagree. Any technological solution to copy protection, were it to exist, would also have the effect of restricting the same data copying and transmission technologies that are essential for free speech to be effective.

    I don't pirate software. I don't have any music on my computer that I believe to be illegal. I do have mp3s of a large segment of my own CD collection, which I find useful despite the fact that sitting here at my computer I am not ten feet from a 160-watt stereo with a 3-cd changer, and I only use them in ways that I believe to be legal under fair use. I would nonetheless be quite upset if I were unable to make those coppies to my hard drive, which enable me, among other things, to put together my own playlists with more freedom than the 3-disc carosel allows and to listen to my music collection in a friend's room across campus without having to cary the crates full of disks over first.
  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @01:22PM (#413330) Homepage Journal
    The moral to the story? Use strong encryption on *everything*. Hell, Napster could fsck over lots of its enemies simply by integrating strong encryption into its client.

    Yeah, that's a great plan. Post encypted material to Napster and Usenet newsgroups, so everyone in the world can download it and not use it.

    Oh wait, even better, include the encryption algorithm in the client software, which is readily available to anyone. That'll "fsck over" CCS really well when they just use the same client software that everyone else is using.

    And even more clue-challenged:

    All the cooperation from backbone providers et al won't do them a damn bit of good if they can't tell what's being passed thru them.

    This is what's called a fundamental lack of understanding. Dave Powell and his cronies call the upstream provider when the local ISP doesn't cooperate. The upstream provider doesn't know what's being transfered, Dave/CCS tells them and present compelling evidence they've collected. According to the article, they build a relationship with top-tier providers after a while, and at that point they just make a phone call and get their requests "rubber stamped". The top-tier provider probably never looks at a single byte of the alleged infringing data. So it does not matter if the data is encrypted as it passes through the backbone and upstream providers.

    Again, refering to the article, what might be effective is writing to upstream providers and telling them you or people you know have been unfairly accused. Perhaps you'd accuse Dave Powell of fabricating evidence (if you're a pirate, you're probably not above lying, though it may not actually be untrue). You'd certainly point out that Dave's never brought a single case to trial; that's never, even once, actually proven that someone was guilty of copyright violation. You'd claim that Dave Powell has a monetary interest in removing people he targets, and has no committment to justice, fairnesss or ethical practice. You'd claim (probably correctly) that Dave gets his "bounty hunter" payment by shutting down a pirate, and if he nails a dozen unsuspecting innocent bystanders he still gets his money. You'd probably try to collect horror stories about Dave Powell, with contact names of people he's had kicked off DSL/cable, who would probably be happy to write "Dave screwed me" letters also.

    The idea is FUD. You'd want to instill Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt in the hearts and minds of your ISP and their upstream service providers as to the accuracy, accountability and legitimacy of Dave Powell's requests. If you're going to battle a guy like this, you want to convince ISPs (or at least make them suspect) that Dave Powell/CCS is a dishonest money-chasing bounty hunter and that they indiscriminately accuse people without much cause, because it turns a profit.

  • Actually, there isn't a contradiction here, though it certainly is confusing. The orriginal poster is referring to a concept in the philosophy of law in which it is believed that there is a set of freedoms so fundamental that all people should enjoy them. Not everything one has a right to under this so-called "natural law" is necessarily reflected in human legal systems, and there isn't any guarantee that natural law addresses all subjects. The orriginal post is simply asserting that "rights" in this sense do not apply.
    Yes, I understand the difference between natural and legal rights. However, I am not much interested in legal rights, except to make them match natural rights as closely as possible. What I am trying to get at is the ethical justification for IP laws. I am fiercely anti-utilitarian, so I couldn't care less about economic arguments for IP laws. They are either ethically justified on the basis of rights and obligations, or they are not.

    Any law that enforces a legal right that is not a natural right is an unethical law.

    Any law that actively abridges a natural right is an unethical law.

    The ethical argument is less clear to me. Certainly, people who contribute new ideas, tools, and art deserve to be compensated for their efforts, if for no other reason that we'd all rather have them spend their time benefiting society that way than just trying to keep bread on the table.
    To me, "how we'd rather have them spend their time" is not a compelling argument. Either those authors have a right to control the particular bit sequences they introduce to the world, or they don't. What result we want is irrelevant.

    I'm trying, in my own mind, to get to the heart of the rights, if any, involved here. It seems to me that the act of distributing bits may be an action that negates any right to restrict those bits. If a person builds a widget, places it in the middle of a busy street, and walks away, I would argue that he doesn't have much to complain about if someone else comes along, picks it up, and uses it as he sees fit. In the world of bits, this seems even more compelling, because a person can build a widget of information (program, song, movie, etc.) lay it down out in the street, and still keep it for himself.

  • by clary (141424) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:42PM (#413335)
    You say...
    Intellectual-property owners don't have a fundamental natural-law right to restrict the copying of their intellectual property.
    and
    There is no right to steal others' IP.
    Which is it? I'm not trolling, but honestly trying to work this out in my own mind. I am not sure I think anyone has an ethical (as opposed to legal) right to restrict what bits someone else copies around.

    I am leaning toward the position that "intellectual property" cannot be ethically justified, because the mere copying of bits has no direct effect on the original author of those bits. I am leaning toward the position that if I have a stream of bits I don't want copied around, then I need to keep them secret.

    In the software world, that could be accomplished by running an ASP rather than selling software copies. Or, software authors could use individual nondisclosure agreements with users (properly agreed to before opening the shrinkwrap, of course). But note that this last could only hold the discloser responsible for the software being revealed...receivers of the copy who did not agree to the NDA would be under no obligation not to use or copy the software.

    Notice that this would also undercut the GNU license, since if one doesn't have the right to restrict how bits he has authored are copied, then he can't enforce the GNU restrictions.

    I make a living writing software, and I like the idea of authors, artists, etc. being able to make money from their creations. Someone out there give me a solid ethical justification for intellectual property restrictions, please.

  • by gunner800 (142959) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:53PM (#413337) Homepage
    I get funny looks when I complain about the DMCA. People assume I'm just serving my own interests to get free goodies. But the Law.com article illustrates one of my big concerns quite nicely:

    Powell ... in a lucky turn received a tip from an informant who knew the site's administrative password, allowing Powell to download the e-mail addresses of all the registered users.

    In other words, he hacked/cracked the site. No court order, no permission for the site owner. We know exactly how illegal that is, don't we?

    I guess I can go crack some sites that I think are illegal and get away with it, too. Like microsoft.com, which advances an illegal monopoly/


    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • He is trying to tell us that this dicussion is not worth having. Generally when the public is not paying attention to an issue, the monied special interests have their way.

    I say this is a discussion worth having whichever side of the argument you support. You dont want to wake up in 20 years and find rights like fair use taken away.

  • this just in a man by the name Dave Powell was found dead in his home today, police do not know the couse of death but they think it could have some thing to do with the subpoena up his ass. The FBI is using it's top secrest database of 1337 skript kiddies to look for leads......


    ________

  • I work as an Abuse Specialist at a large broadband provider. We HAVE to quickly give up the information, if served with a subpoena, or we'll be in violation of a boatload of franchise agreements as well as who knows what else.
  • I work as an Abuse Specialist at a large broadband provider, so I have a unique insight into this whole process. First of all, if I'm given a subpoena, it has a deadline for turnaround on it. I have to match the IP on the subpoena to any and all information I can drudge up on the sub it belongs to within that timeframe, or we could face serious legal penalties. Franchise agreements would be violated, etc, etc. Once it gets to the subpoena level, there's not much more I can do besides hand over the info. Now, if I just receive a complaint of infringement, or something along those lines, I've got a lot of options in front of me. But once Powell has built a relationship with the ISP, they become amazingly compliant with CCS demands. Saunders says CCS is rarely questioned when it notifies an ISP about an infringing user. "We found ISPs remove things even though they could argue it," he says. "They are reclaiming large amounts of bandwidth. We are providing a service to them, essentially." This, at least in my case, is almost 100% B.S. I'm not just going to cut some subscriber loose because some jackass with a title claims something is amiss. "Reclaiming bandwidth" isn't THAT big of a deal. The value of "reclaimed bandwidth" compared to the value of a customer paying 40+ bucks a month indefinitely is pretty measly. When I receive a complaint about infringement, I investigate the matter, looking for anonymous FTP access, trying common passwords, etc. If I can identify copyright violations, I send the sub a warning letter and give them a phone call, notifying them that the offending material needs to be taken down IMMEDIATELY and permanently, or termination of the account will take place. (You don't want to know how many kids I've gotten grounded ;). If I can't find any evidence of infringement, I wait, and try again. If I NEVER see any evidence of infrigement, then, well, looks like the problem is solved. Point being, if you're innocent, this will never get to the subpoena stage, and you can (at least if I'm handling the case) fight against the accusations.
  • I'm not very familiar with US law, but I heard there was a law that the Scientologists (almost?) ran afoul of intended to be used against people who regularly use lawsuits for bullying.

    Since his method of attack is essentially "Pay me $5000 now, else guilty or not, I'll drag you through years of court battles which will cost you $100k", can something be made of how this seems to be simple extortion, or is this form of extortion simply the way the US legal system is normally used?
  • I love the irony of the Den/IFPI fiasco:

    The IFPI then demanded that Powell remove its name from his site, even though CCS had just finished a consulting contract with the organization in November.

    Powell was bewildered by the IFPI's request and has thus far refused to comply.

    So Powell makes his living getting material off the net, but refuses to do exactly that for a former client!

  • I'll tell you why we are still talking about this. Because once we shut-up they will seize and win the day. Keep practicing your Right to Free Speech, apparently it's the only thing the masses have going for them.

    Anyway, as I have said before (see what I mean?), there is Zero Moral Implications in using Napster, in copying someone's book, and in making a movie of someone's novel the day after it is finished. It's just an economic model that was created 'in the day', a time when printing presses were still of the Gutenburg type.

    It is my considered opinion (and many of you as well, as we practice our arguments, I notice they get more coherent and concise, good work all) that the advent of the Internet has brought about definite stresses in the way we do business. We are only just discovering that!

    I would personally study the phenomena for a while and try to anticipate the implications of a number of possible policies before deciding on a single one. But the RIAA doesn't want that for obvious reasons. Money.

    However, the dipwad lawyer cannot afford the luxury of not being a pit-bull for the landed, moneyed interests, so he has to be a jerk. He chose that profession and deserves all the enmity we can throw at him. He gets paid well.

    Me, being more interested in the free association of people and the protected interests of individuals, care less about one man's personal fortune than the crapifying of what could still be a boon to humankind in general and me in particular.

    But TV could have been a boon, too. But it's not for many of the same reasons; the greedy among us have sought to turn it solely into a revenue-generating box. For some reason that function excludes the possibility of all other functions. And don't talk to me about Public TV, it's gone the way of corporate interests.

    In like fashion, we will see all the useful functions of this, our Internet become marginalized as people get harrassed off the internet until there are only providers and consumers left.

    There may be a time when I am afraid to log on. Because of lawyer weenies like this joy-killer.

  • by clinko (232501) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @11:39AM (#413419) Homepage Journal
    "He can have almost any Web page removed from the Internet in hours. He can have a suspect's Internet connection turned off -- pedestrian dial-up or fancy broadband -- within days. "

    I've seen this happen. Within 2 days, A warrent to hotmail, then strait to @home, to the door of a friend-o-mine's. Pretty scary stuff. And hotmail and @home QUICKLY gave up the information...
  • by q000921 (235076) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:48PM (#413424)
    Tempting as it may be, I think the Free Software Foundation has always regarded such restrictions as undesirable, and I believe the open source definition also excludes it.

    The reasoning is that free software and open source software is about principles, and it's bad to compromise those principles for some possible short-term gain.

    From a purely practical point of view, I think it would just be a bad precedent for people to write such specific restrictions into licenses. Enforcement is difficult, and you can't easily revoke the restrictions when the company changes (many companies have come around to open source).

    In this particular case, I don't even see anything particularly serious to get upset about. The guy is going after people who post commercial software to newsgroups. That would be a worthwhile thing to do even from the point of view of keeping some junk off of USENET.

  • by q000921 (235076) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:03PM (#413425)
    From an ethical point of view, if someone posts an obviously copyrighted commercial software package to USENET, I think he deserved to lose access to the ISP. Folks, do something productive instead: learn programming and drive Steinberg and Powell's other clients out of existence by writing better open source software; don't blindly post their stuff.

    From a technical point of view, someone who wants to post potentially incriminating material and uses NNTP from their cable modem deserves what they get.

    As for the transparent proxies detecting content, unless there is legislation restricting users to a handfull of well-known formats, in the presence of even simple cryptography or compression, that's a pointless exercise. OTOH, I see no problem with companies trying to detect copyrighted works by participating in P2P networks; of course, since P2P is moving towards tit-for-tat schemes, these participants better be prepared to put up some interesting content themselves in order to particpate :-)

  • by Prophet of Doom (250947) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @11:55AM (#413444)
    People like this are prime examples of why the common refrain of "someone will crack whatever protection they come up with" must end. People like Mr. Powell are our enemies.

    The Roman Republic failed, in part, because they could not successfully answer the question, "Who Shall Guard the Guards?" The Founders of this Republic answered that question with both the First and Second Amendments. Like Stalin, our politicians couldn't care less what common folk say about them, but the concept of the informed citizenry as guarantors of their own liberties sets their teeth on edge and disturbs their statist sleep.

    Governments, some great men once avowed, derive their legitimacy from "the consent of the governed." In the country that these men founded, it should not be required to remind anyone that the people do not obtain their natural liberties by "the consent of the Government." Yet in this century, our once great constitutional republic has been so profaned in the pursuit of power and social engineering by corrupt leaders as to be unrecognizable to the Founders. And in large measure we have ourselves to blame because at each crucial step along the way the usurpers of our liberties have obtained the consent of a majority of the governed to do what they have done, often in the name of "democracy"-- a political system rejected by the Founders. A good friend of mine gave the best description of pure democracy I have ever heard. "Democracy," he concluded, "is three wolves and a sheep sitting down to vote on what to have for dinner." The rights of the sheep in this system are obviously in peril.

    Now it is true that our present wolf-like, would-be rulers do not as yet seek to eat that sheep and its peaceable wooly cousins. They are, however, most desirous that the sheep be shorn of rights, and if possible and when necessary, be reminded of his rightful place in society as "good citizen sheep" whose safety from the big bad wolves outside the barn doors is only guaranteed by the omni-presence in the barn of the "good wolves" of the government. Indeed, they do not present themselves as wolves at all, but rather these lupines parade around in sheep's clothing, bleating insistently in falsetto about the welfare of the flock and the necessity to surrender liberty and property "for the children" or for "the lambs." In order to ensure future generations of compliant sheep, they are careful to educate the lambs in the way of "political correctness," tutoring them in the totalitarian faiths that "it takes a barnyard to raise a lamb" and "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

    Every now and then, some tough old independent-minded ram refuses to be shorn and tries to remind the flock that they once decided affairs themselves according to the rule of law of their ancestors, and without the help of their "betters." When that happens, the fangs become apparent and the conspicuously unwilling are shunned, cowed, driven off or occasionally killed. But flashing teeth or not, the majority of the flock has learned over time not to resist the Lupine-Mandarin class which herds it. Their Founders, who were fiercely independent rams, would have long ago chased off such usurpers. Any present members of the flock who think like that are denounced as antediluvian or mentally deranged.

    The tyrant must be met at the door, at yours or mine, whenever he shows his bloody appetite. It matters not what flag he flies, what uniform he wears, nor what excuses he brings for pillaging your property, your liberty, or your life. "By their works ye shall know them." The time is late. Those who once had trouble reading their watches for the darkness will have none for the glare of the fires, we will have the advantage of that terrible illumination. The tyrant is outnumbered and we destroy all that he represents.

  • Dave Powell is not an officer of the law, but he
    prides himself on having a keen sense of where
    a man will bend and where he might break. The
    casual software pirate will usually respond to a
    sternly worded e-mail that appeals to some
    sort of universal sense of justice. Stealing,
    after all, is wrong and even though the Internet
    gives people a sense of anonymity, most
    people don't like to think of themselves as
    thieves. For the more savvy software pirate,
    Powell must appeal to an instinct more powerful
    than morality: self-preservation.

    "A subpoena will look something like this,"
    Powell says, lifting an inch-thick sheaf of
    papers off his desk. "A pirate gets this in the
    mail and it's like, 'holy s--t.'"


    Okay, people. These are obviously people with a great deal of power, law enforcement oprganizations who are only educated about tech to the degree that their governors or congressmen are informed by lobbyists for various causes.

    The law enforcement community is using heavy handed techniques against ISP operators and Napster, etc. users- two groups of people who share a common interest in protecting their current "freedom" to make copies of information. These people have the technical knowledge. If law enforcement wants technical knowledge that would help them do their job, they have to buy it from the same group of people that built the infrastructure that allows us to copy information.

    Law enforcement is able to get this information because people sell it for money.Why don't people stop selling their services as "ex hackers" to law enforcement?

    Of course, then the info-sharing community would have to p0lice itself. But signing contracts with individual contract providers is infinitely better than allowing law enforcement to supervise a process they do not understand.

    I do not use Napster, I do not pirate software, I use the Internet as a research tool for various writing that I do. I copy words and occasionally code, and it would suck if law enforcement put a damper on the technologies I use to do this. Musicians need the technology to sample other music for their tracks. To protect the vital usses of file sharing and copying, it is essential that people come to a compromise about stuff like copying Britney Spears music.

    Come to an understanding with content providers! Don't let RIAA lobbyists tell governors and congressment to tell their law enforcers to enforce it THEIR way. Find an agreeable solution, and protect the essential freedoms of the internet.
  • by Mercaptan (257186) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:45PM (#413451) Homepage

    It's an interesting solution, but the failings will be human. After all, I don't think Powell is packet-sniffing at all. He's logging in as a user and looking for content, he's using informants, he's pressuring ISPs.

    Clearly what he seeks to do is make it hard to trade audio software or music, to take it out of the realm of the armchair pirate. Powell is targetting the public sources that anybody can get to, like Napster and websites. Once he nails the public forums, he's done and won.

    He won't care that you've built a secure trading network because by definition that sort of network will be hard to get into and limited to a small group of people. Sure you can have distributed trust structures and so forth, but it'll be too technical for most people. And that's all he cares about, putting the fear into most people. And even if you made it easy to use a secure trading network, how would you make sure that the Powells stay out?

  • by localroger (258128) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @04:03PM (#413454) Homepage
    Let's say you're stopped by a traffic cop on, say, I-10 in, say, Ascension Parish, LA. Let's say you have a few hundred bucks with you (maybe you're driving to Mississippi to visit the gambling boats). Let's say the cop asks if you have any money, and being a Good Innocent Citizen who Knows Your Rights, you say sure.

    What might happen then, and has happened to lots and lots of people, is the cop takes your money because he suspects it is "drug money." You then have something like 5 days to file an appeal, for a hearing in which you will have to prove (to an almost impossible standard) that the money is not drug money. I know of one dude, a card counter, who lost $24K like this in North Carolina. Ever try to explain that you have $24K in cash because you're a professional gambler? Well, it was the truth, but it wasn't good enough.

    How do they get around the Constitution? Well, they don't arrest or charge YOU, they charge THE MONEY, and the case reads "State of Louisiana vs. $250 cash." Since property does not have civil rights (at least unless it's an "artificial person" called a corporation) then it can be guilty till proven innocent. Which it is.

    The Constitution is a dead letter. And none of the players in the current political scene is exactly moving to do CPR on it.

  • by typical geek (261980) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @11:46AM (#413457) Homepage
    Really, the log goes like:

    dave$ su
    *******
    # cd /
    I'm sorry Dave, you can't do that.
    # rm -rf *
    Dave, you're scaring me
    Dave, would you like to hear a song?
    Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do....
  • by Chuck Flynn (265247) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @11:46AM (#413463)
    This isn't about freedom and it isn't about personal autonomy. It's about money for both sides, plain and simple. And for this reason, I consider the whole debate to be intellectually dishonest.

    Intellectual-property owners don't have a fundamental natural-law right to restrict the copying of their intellectual property. That right exists merely because of government fiat, protecting moneyed interests. As such, IP-owners will go to any length to ensure maximized profit realization, regardless of which individuals get the shaft.

    Similarly, the individuals who are fighting the IP owners are acting out of their own selfish economic motives. They are too lazy or too narcissistic to pay for others' work, and therefore they try to cloak their economic motives in the florid language of freedom and liberty. It's a disgrace to proper civil liberties to lump socially sanctioned stealing in with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, the right to bear arms, and all the other fundamental rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. There is no right to steal others' IP.

    With that said, where do we go from here? Both sides will continue duking it out in court or in the realm of public criticism, and no amount of wishing will make them shut up. Both sides will continue to waive their banners of zealotry, and both will try to recruit innocent bystanders to their side, either through coercive acts of Congress or through media blitzes.

    I'm not suggesting we should regulate what sort of discourse we should allow on the airwaves so as to exclude these tired rehashings of pro/anti-IP and pro/anti-stealing, but it would go a long ways towards getting this debate off the front pages where it doesn't belong.

    At the end of the day, it still comes down to the difference between the haves and the havenots. I don't see much room for discussion, anymore.

    Why are we still talking about this?

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