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Interview With Lawrence Lessig On Future Rights 148

Posted by Zonk
from the weighty-issues dept.
tres3 writes "In an interview with the O'Reilly Network Mr. Lessig discusses many current issues that may have future legal implications. He starts with MGM's request for Certiorari in the Grokster case. His conclusion is that ReplayTV was forced out of business by a legal challenge, not a legal victory. Lessig continues on to discuss, among other things, The Creative Commons and their new Sampling License and how it may affect the way that some movies and music, that contain samples from other sources, are made in the future. From the article: 'So the same act of creativity in some sense, you know, taking, creating, mixing out of what other people do, is legal in the text world and illegal in the digital media world.'"
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Interview With Lawrence Lessig On Future Rights

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  • As it gets shared, relying on an infrastructure that keeps the cost of delivery low becomes essential. So if you're a filmmaker and you have a great new documentary film you want to make available on the internet, if you post it on your web site and it becomes successful, then you go bankrupt.

    Man, Mirrors and torrents are so counterrevolutionary! I'll /. your site!

    On a side note, he also express some interesting thoughts on the upcoming Grokster's decision.

  • by page275 (862917)
    Now we all concern about digital world rights ... but we also have to admit the very old fact that "Every lock has a fake key"..
  • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro@gmail.TOKYOcom minus city> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:03AM (#11792745) Journal
    "Lessig: This is not a constitutional question in the Grokster case at all. The Grokster case is just a question of whether the court should apply a secondary liability on the manufacturer because the product was used illegally by a customer."

    Out of intrest , are the makers of guns liable.
    if not then why not and then why should p2p companys, With a gun you can break far greater laws than with emule .
    • by mankey wanker (673345) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:14AM (#11792789)
      Oh, you're not paying attention...

      The violation of commercial property rights is the worst possible crime imaginable. Taking a human life merely decreases the surplus population.

      Corporations are eternal. People come and go.
      • by rthille (8526) <web-slashdot.rangat@org> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:48AM (#11792874) Homepage Journal
        No, you don't understand. Killing people^H^H^H^H^H^H consumers reduces corporate sales and profits. That's the reason murder is illegal.
      • Actually the human population in America has a negative growth rate. So you don't have as much of a surplus as you think. One day your laws may reflect that. Maybe.
        • Actually the human population in America has a negative growth rate. So you don't have as much of a surplus as you think. One day your laws may reflect that. Maybe.

          So... rape is going to be less of a crime?
          • So... rape is going to be less of a crime?

            Less than copyright infringement.

            Consider the two evils:
            1. Rape: potentially creates a new consumer who can pay to see/hear/read and have thoughts. (hence increase profits)
            2. Copyright infringement: someone is getting to see/hear a work without having to pay! (hence decrease profits)
            Which do you think is going to be considered the bigger crime? The one that decreases profits of course.
            • creates a new consumer who can pay to see/hear/read...

              That's right. You have to pay to receive sensory input. Not being sensorily deprived is a privilege given to the human minions by your corporate overlords.

              ...and have thoughts.

              No; in our Brave New World order, only companies can have thoughts. Individual thinking is a crime: you will be reported to your corporate overlord immediately for swift punishment.

              Remember: When free speech is outlawed, only criminals complain.

              (I was going to say som

    • With a gun you can break far greater laws than with emule.

      Yes, one would expect a view like that from reasonable people. But you know, in the US, if you walk around pointing guns at people: business as usual. But if somebody drops his pants in the middle of the street, or worse, shares a movie over P2P, then everybody goes crazy.

      Weird folks, those Americans.

    • I agree that P2P makers shouldn't be liable for illegal things happening on P2P networks. But your analogy is wrong. Simply giving out guns to everybody without cheking whether the person has a gun license is illegal. And a person should have proper reasons for a gun license (at least here. Don't know about USA). Also, guns are more important as they are necessary for (some) people to protect their or someone else' life (among other important reasons). P2P isn't *so* important.
  • Uh oh (Score:4, Funny)

    by fenodyree (802102) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:04AM (#11792752)
    This is resampling the digital text of the alphabet, am I infringing? I often ponder, Opps, there is someone at the door, hold on.....
    • Mod parent something other than flamebait.
      He is making a point in perhaps in a slightly silly way , but still a good point.
      Where does it end , if i quote people`s works in a work of my own ,am I liable.
      • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:43AM (#11792863) Homepage
        This is resampling the digital text of the alphabet, am I infringing? I often ponder, Opps, there is someone at the door, hold on

        Mod parent something other than flamebait.
        He is making a point in perhaps in a slightly silly way , but still a good point.
        Where does it end , if i quote people`s works in a work of my own, am I liable.


        It's Oscar (tm) night eve and the MPAA wonks are coked up and have mod points.
    • Could someone here (more computationally capable than me) please write a short program that does the following:

      1. takes the basic music notes (i.e. quaver, crotchet, etc.) and rests
      2. takes the basic tones (A, A#, B etc.)
      3. Randomly generates a series of short (3-5 notes, with or without rests in between)

      Note that only one octave is required. Other octaves, or keys, are just derivatives.

      Note also that the timing can be simplified - a lot of the melodies will be longer duplicates (e.g. 4 beats A followed
  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by AntiPasto (168263) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:04AM (#11792758) Journal
    ... how this article for me loaded with an audio-enabled ad for Vonage that created a derivative work in my headphones over top of Radiohead.... hrmm... Did they have a license to do that in my ears?
  • by page275 (862917) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:08AM (#11792768)
    It sounds just like: Every kitchen tools producers need to be sued because some of their customers use those tools in 55% of murder cases.
    • Sounds like we need to outlaw everything that can be used to commit a crime. I'll miss my opposeable thumbs (and other parts of my body), but I'm sure society will be better off.
    • All kitchen tools are used to violate the copyright of recipe authors! We must outlaw cooking utensils immediately! Kids are being taught to create infringing works every day with these things. Someone, please, think of the children!
  • Unconstiutional... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tidewaterblues (784797) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:08AM (#11792769) Homepage
    For quite some time now I have been of the opinion that the prohibition of the creation if derivative works that copyright imposes is outside of the understanding of the original concept, and in addition to being insainly dangerious to society, is also unconstituional. ... Actually, I should qualify what I just said, I am not just of the opinion that the prohibition is unconstitutional, I believe it is, in fact, a direct violation of the Natural Law. It is, in fact, morally evil on some level to prevent other's from re-interpreting pre-existing creative-thoughts into their own, substantially new ideas. I may be completely alone in my views, and I appreciate that they do not mess with the common-sense morality of our culture (cf. authors and Movie rights, for example). But I do think it is a place where discussion can begin.
    • by argoff (142580) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:40AM (#11792854)
      A Bitter Protest Against Copyrights

      If they said there was no incentive to do good things unless the government could choose your religion ... or they said there is no incentive to grow food, unless farmers could rip up your garden ... most people would see these as the awful values that they are. But if they say that there is no incentive to make beneficial or creative works without the power to restrict what people copy (copyrights), then all too many people just take it on faith. They don't even question it, as if incentive makes rights, as if society would fall apart without them. But just as much of the Renaissance happened without copyrights so should the information age.

      Calling copyrights "intellectual property" is intellectually dishonest. The moral and historical foundation of property derives from mutual respect and the fact that not everybody can posses something at the same time. The foundation of copyrights derives from kings who granted publishers monopolies in return for not publishing bad things about the monarchy. Copyrights are about control, censorship, and not a free market property. In fact, they cheapen property rights by treating things that have natural limits in supply such as food, shelter, and medicine like information that does not.

      Worse, is how people who copy are slandered with names such as "thief" and "pirate", as if copying was akin to boarding a ship and murdering people. They are even accused of stealing food out of the mouths of starving artists. Yet these verbal assaults hide a cold and calculated lie, the one that says "copyrights benefit creative people". The truth is that for every artist or writer that has made it "big", there are unmentioned thousands who copyrights haven't helped a bit, hindered, or even destroyed. Some are even bared or sued from sharing their own creations in public, others die with the world never truly knowing their artistic genius as the mass media drowns them out. Most creators are far better off sharing and distributing their creations freely to make a reputation for themselves. Copyrights not only cause them to be drowned out in a sea of hype, but do so deceptively.

      However, these aren't the only problems related to copyrights. They are just a sample of many that are constantly blown off, glossed over, or ignored. Like the failures of Hollywood culture, the failures of big media to offer quality material, the failures of the market to offer competitively priced books for college students while tabloids are dirt cheap, and massive anti-trust behavior in the software industry to name a few. Their hypocritical pleas like, "how will we make money without copyrights?" is like a mobster asking "how will I make money with out victims extort?"

      The burdens of imposing copyrights might have been bearable a quarter century ago when the biggest issue was copy machines. But today in the information age there is no technical distinction between copyright content and free speech content. Information is so easy to copy and manipulate, there can be no "middle ground".Our society must make a choice: Our communications will either half to be monitored or free, our privacy will either half to intruded or protected. Our speech, writing, and free expression will either half to be abridged or unabridged. Any institution that has the power to control one, must have the power to control all. Copyrights are like a vine that will never stop growing to choke off our freedoms until we cut it of at the root!

      Consider parallels to other periods of transition like the industrial revolution:

      History teaches that during the 1800's there were many people who believed that the entire meaning and purpose of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton gin to expand their plantations for unlimited growth and profit. Ironically just the opposite was true,the industrial revolution demanded a mobile and skilled workforce.

      First, they responded by making

      • by mrchaotica (681592) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @05:41AM (#11793079)
        Wow, what a great essay! Do you mind if I print it out and distribute it?

        By the way, it could use a little editing -- in the 5th paragraph, it should be "Our communications will either have to be monitored or free, our privacy will either have to intruded or protected," not "half." And in paragraph 11, I think you meant "Just because an institution calls something a property right doesn't mean that it is," not "intuition."
      • by Anonymous Coward
        or they said there is no incentive to grow food, unless farmers could rip up your garden ... most people would see these as the awful values that they are.

        Now you're being silly. Of course farmers can't rip up your garden; that's a right reserved for Monsanto.
      • by ramblin billy (856838) <defaultaddy@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:40AM (#11793450)
        Wow, I envy your certainty. I've come to find this whole question much more baffling. I used to take software and find ways to use it anyway I wanted. It's incredibly easy to find lots of resources on the net that will provide everything from serials to professional quality reverse engineering tutorials. One day I made myself take a hard look at what I was doing. The truth is that if you are aware of the author's wishes, if you understand that in return for the value you receive from using the program he is asking you to abide by those wishes, and that downloading and using the software is your agreement to the exchange, then violating those wishes is dishonorable. I got rid of my jacked, hacked, and cracked programs. Now I pay if I can't live without the code or it's just so elegant I can't help myself. Mostly I use freeware. You know what? In most cases it's really not as good as the commercial solution. How often have you seen the first few versions of an app as freeware and the perfected product gone commercial. Look I know I have just committed /. heresy, but romantic notions of 'freedom of information' and 'the right to copy, share, and distribute information is a right!" are not tautologies. You make many broad sweeping statements, but most of them are lacking in proof or pertinence.

        You overstate your opponent's position by suggesting that they claim that there is "no incentive" to produce creative content without copyright rewards. How about less incentive? Can you deny that some very creative works were undertaken explictly to reap those rewards? Many creative processes now require a vast amount of resources - too many resources for individuals to provide. Groups that provide those resources usually do so with the expectation of a return on their investment. It might be nice if they did it with the intention of giving the knowledge away to benefit society, but that's just not the case. Shouting from the rooftops that it should be this way does not make it so. You make your arguments seem devious and weak by not acknowledging the reality that profits from copyrights DO create incentives. Moreover, often the people who possess the necessary personalities to amass the resources are motivated primarily by profit - that's why they have all the resources. Certainly a great deal of creative work is done for other reasons, maybe even the best creative work, but to ignore the motivating power of good old greed is ridiculous.

        You also seem to believe that creative content springs spontaneously into being without underlying costs. You say that information does not have natural limits of supply. I say we've got all the creative content we're going to get from Albert Einstein, he reached the natural limit on his supply of time. The fact that the cost of creating must be borne up front, during the process, does not lessen the amount required. It's hard for a man to be creative when he has to spend half his time feeding his family and has to decide between materials for The Project and health care for his kids. On a more selfish note, if I can do something you can't by applying my time and effort, why should you receive the same benefits without sharing the costs? The copyright only gives me the right to set the value on the material, it's up to you to decide if it's worth the price of admission.

        Posts gettin' a little long so.....How can someone who possesses 'artistic genius' require the use of someone else's material to express that genius? Isn't it more likely that those that " copyrights haven't helped a bit, hindered, or even destroyed". have more to blame on the quality of their work than their access to someone else's? What in the hell does saying bad things about the king have to do with modern copyright issues? Is it valid to compare the Renaissance, when copies were made at great expense by hand exclusively for the ruling class, and the case of Dave from Topeka, who has 2000 ripped songs on his hard drive and takes great pleasure in giving them to anyone in
        • You make the assumption that in a world without copyright content-creators will not be able to gain any monetary benefit from their works.

          I say this is flat out wrong. Creative people of all walks of life, in all societies have always been able to make a living. Artists who create things that people like will be elevated in status and supported by those who want to see them continue to create art.

          Money spend previously on the sham that is the record industry will be freed up, the same in many other areas.
        • If I seem certain, it is only because I come from the side that used to love copyrights as a true freemarket "property" right that "helped" artists. It is only after receiving tons of BS, and personal attacks for asking simple questions like "are copyrights property?" That it slowly became obvious to me that they are such a fraud and a lie. Which is why I question your sincerity, why aren't you asking those simple questions?

          I imagine, if I made an agreement with some one, and then boke it - then that wo

        • The copyright exists no matter what the reason

          I was following you until that statement. For good or bad, copyrights are legal fictions. They were created by government.

          Without some damn persuasive arguments it's way too easy to look like you just like free stuff.

          That is an ad hominem argument. Just because someone may or may not like free stuff, it doesn't weaken his claim that the right to copy is an inalienable right.

          If you disagree, then say so. You attack a straw man by attacking some claims
      • And Lessig misses this point, as he is trying for compromise.

        Some related issues:

        If copyrights impose a burden on society (like real estate), why not tax them annually at some self-assessed buyout value (the cost the copyright holder would be content with to have the work in the public domain)?

        Oh, but copyright holders might protest they can not fairly evaluate the copyright as some copyrights make a lot of money, and most do not. But there we have it -- the notion of copyright as a lottery ticket which
        • you: If copyrights impose a burden on society (like real estate), why not tax them annually at some self-assessed buyout value (the cost the copyright holder would be content with to have the work in the public domain)?

          Oh, but copyright holders might protest they can not fairly evaluate the copyright as some copyrights make a lot of money, and most do not. But there we have it -- the notion of copyright as a lottery ticket which the essay touches on. Do we want creative works funded as lotteries?


          This is
          • I imagine this future-vision might be true, if so, for all intents and purposes, there will be no reason, unless one chooses, to work/create again. I think scenarios like this really urge us to deeply look inside ourselves (as creative, artistic beings) and ask: Why do I create? Why do I invent?

            Maybe for the answer to this question about the future, we need to look into our hunter/gatherer past.

            The Original Affluent Society -by Marshall Sahlins
            http://www.eco-action.org/dt/affluent.html [eco-action.org]
            "Hunter-gatherers
            • There was the work of child rearing -- something that takes a lot of time and attention. There was the work of singing and dancing and sharing joy and culture and storytelling -- something that will still be needed. There was art and expression.

              Right, this is exactly what I'm talking about. We, people, have been creating and being artistic for the whole of our known existence. It's for this reason that I am suspicious of all "necessities to incentivize creativity". If one is truly being himself he will ha
      • The worst problem with copyrights is not that they are by nature immoral, but that they are basically incompatible with multipurpose, user programable computers and free peer to peer communication. At the end of the day, in order to enforce copyrights, the state will have to eliminate one or both of the above. This is too high a price to pay for the principal of copyright. Copyright laws should exist as precatory laws to encourage people to pay for the intellectual property they consume and to punish fl
      • But they have failed not in that they have lost the "middle ground" but that they have not seen that contrary to copyright monopolies, the right to copy, share, and distribute information is a right!

        That sentence is ridiculous. In fact, the essay is very strong until your begin to draw the parallel from the Industrial Revolution, it then slides into a rant around the time of the above. If you can't spot why after a couple readings I will point it out: You are using a circular logic, "the right to copy [..

    • Want to extend on what you mean by "unconstitutional"? Which part of the (I'm assuming American) constitution does it break?
      • by BrynM (217883) *
        Want to extend on what you mean by "unconstitutional"? Which part of the (I'm assuming American) constitution does it break?
        That would be Atricle 1, Section 8 [findlaw.com] most likely. I'm not supporting his view, just pointing out what I think he's talking about.
        • Probably not I.8.8. That section, with its "exclusive right to their creations" should pretty easily restrict derived works in at least some sense of "derived". An argument about conflict of rights from First Amendment or Due Process grounds might be more likely.
    • Well, you and I seem to be of the same conviction. I am sure there are many more people around like that on Slashdot

      What you seem to be suggesting is that evolutionary pressure works against this kind of prohibition, and hence it is dangerous. You did not elaborate on why it is dangerous, and I would be interested in hearing your take on it.

      I would argue that the reason restrictions are dangerous is because they fight against things that would otherwise naturally evolve. If you fight against evolution, yo
    • by cbr2702 (750255)
      It is, in fact, morally evil on some level to prevent other's from re-interpreting pre-existing creative-thoughts into their own, substantially new ideas.

      But re-interpreting pre-existing creative-thoughts into one's own is allowed, as long as the result is substantially different from each component. And as long as it is just the thoughts one re-interprets. Once I start taking sound or video samples, the situation is pretty different.

      • Please clarify your stated difference between the sampling of text and the sampling of other media forms. The major differences I see are monetary value, and historical precedents (for text), rather than any qualitative difference.

        Also, is there an implied limit to "re-interpreting pre-existing creative-thoughts", which would in your opinion prevent direct quotes? If I can use direct quotes from the State of the Union in a report, why can't I use "quotes"/samples in a report comparing/contrasting, for
        • Please clarify your stated difference between the sampling of text and the sampling of other media forms. The major differences I see are monetary value, and historical precedents (for text), rather than any qualitative difference.

          There is nothing substantively different about text as opposed to other forms. I didn't mean to imply there was.

          Also, is there an implied limit to "re-interpreting pre-existing creative-thoughts", which would in your opinion prevent direct quotes?

          Quotes for the purpose of c

  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:12AM (#11792780) Homepage
    ...it's a shame it's necessary. Why is it that if I'm writing my blog, I can take any paragraph of text in the world, quote it, then tear it a part, but if I'm making a song and I sample 1 second's worth of The Beatles, my ass will be in court before the third chord progression?

    It's definitely a step in the right direction that Lessig has codified the Creative Commons license, allowing us to make things like Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and one or two music sites, but really the CCL doesn't give us any rights that we shouldn't already have under Fair Use anyway. I mean, Walt Disney has been dead for 30 years. Why the hell can't I draw Mickey Mouse smoking a joint if I want to? Why is Magnavox [wikipedia.org] still able to get license fees from people making video game consoles? Why does Nintendo still own the D-pad and A+B buttons? And what's up with Apple paying Amazon for one click shopping in iTunes? It's all just so ridiculous.

    I recognize the need for some limited monopoly to spur innovation, but it's clear that at this point IP has spun out of control. Thank goodness for people like Lessig, Groklaw, and the EFF!
    • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @04:00AM (#11792900) Journal
      Why the hell can't I draw Mickey Mouse smoking a joint if I want to?

      I believe you can. You just can't disseminate it. I on the other hand can draw Mickey Mouse smoking a joint AND disseminate it. God Bless Australia.
      • I on the other hand can draw Mickey Mouse smoking a joint AND disseminate it. God Bless Australia.

        Is this the same Australia where copying music from a CD for personal use is against the law, a right codified in the United States as "Fair Use"?

        I can see the propaganda now:
        Use an iPod, go to jail.


        Yes, I know it isn't currently being enforced but thw way the law is written, it could just be a matter of time.

        • I can see the propaganda now:
          Use an iPod, go to jail.


          Not as long as it only has paid-for songs on it.

          I can see the propaganda now:
          Call this Homeland Security 800 number to report terrorists who have pirated music on their iPod

          Why would this be different than the BSA's anti-piracy efforts in getting people to turn in their neighbor? You want people to work against each other, to the benefit of those in power. Like "please report and denounce any disloyal comrads", or "if anyone escapes the co
      • You cannot disseminate the drawing.

        The Image of Mickey Mouse is still copyrighted in the USA! And due to the Berne Convention, other countries that have signed the agreement (such as Australia) have to obey other country's copyright laws when it comes to products from that country. So, yes copyright length in Australia is death + 50 years (or 75) but the USA's copyright laws are death + 90 years. As a result due to the Berne Convention, Mickey Mouse is not public domain to your country even though you have
        • And due to the Berne Convention, other countries that have signed the agreement (such as Australia) have to obey other country's copyright laws when it comes to products from that country.

          Have you got a cite for that? Because no mention is made here [wikipedia.org], and this page [yale.edu] appears to say different to what you claim.
        • Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the restrictions on drawing and disseminating a picture of Mickey Mouse smoking a joint fall under trademarks rather than copyrights?

          ie copyright covers any specific instances of Mickey Mouse images created by Disney, but the likeness of Mickey Mouse is covered by trademarks.

          Trademarks don't expire if they are defended, whereas copyrights eventually expire (barring law changes) and don't need defending. Thats why you generally see trademarks defended more vigorously a
      • I believe you can. You just can't disseminate it. I on the other hand can draw Mickey Mouse smoking a joint AND disseminate it. God Bless Australia.

        Damn. So much for America the Free. Guess I'll just have to smoke a joint, and pretend I'm drawing Mickey Mouse.

        -kgj
    • by danila (69889) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:27AM (#11793290) Homepage
      All this is an inevitable outcome of capitalism. If it is already ridiculous to you, a citizen of the United States, imagine how insane and asinine it looks to people outside your country.

      In my country all works created before 1973 are in public domain. In my country filmmakers do not get permission to use a trademark in the movie. In my country people sharing files are not sued and only large scale commercial pirates need to worry (somewhat) about law enforcement. In my country there exists for 11 years a ligitimate online library with 5Gb of free books in unencumbered formats, including works of most modern authors.

      I am not saying that my country is perfect, I am just saying that for the majority of the people US-like copyright is abhorent and they have no respect to it.

      As for your sad complaint about the necessity of CCL, I fully agree. I curse the day I decided to become a Wikipedia (which, BTW, uses GNU FDL, not CCL) editor, because now I became conscious of what I copy and what is the legal status of it. Not that it prevents me from pirating music/movies/books/software, but I'd rather not think about it at all.
    • It's definitely a step in the right direction that Lessig has codified the Creative Commons license...

      Creative Commons is a giant step backwards, because it's taken all the people who might have been interested in creating free non-software works, and persuaded them to release their stuff under a non-free, GPL-incompatible license, such that all of us working on free software can't really make any use of it. All of the Creative Commons version 2 licenses are broken and should be avoided, just like the GNU
    • If enough material becomes CC licensed, then won't the inevitable outcome be that the {MP|RI}AA will have to try to erect a t(r)oll booth to CC licensed material? Similar to how the SCOundrals were trying to do with Linux?
  • by Mr Ambersand (862402) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:12AM (#11792781)
    At this point it is the "copyright holders" who have the gold, and it is they who are making the rules.

    This is a state of affairs which has no hope of changing (look at what is going on with the supreme court and with the EU and the patent fiasco); learn to live with it.

    There's no alternative.
  • Only in America (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kip Winger (547075) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @03:14AM (#11792787) Homepage
    The reason the American software industry is going to lose within the next 20 years has to do with the fact that lawyers, due to the American "justice" system, are bringing whole new levels of bureaucracy and stifling to the information and software industry as a whole by trying to apply outdated theories of legality to a dynamic industry. Companies shouldn't be forced out of business simply because of fears of legal action -- it's outright murder of creativity.

    Eventually, things will become so draconian that companies and independant (often open source) developers are afraid to develop software in America, from fears of breaking things like the DMCA or being charged with "Software Patent Infringency" that they'll have to create new silicon valleys elsewhere in places that don't care.

    Europe would be a nice setting, depending on how that turns out, but who knows? Bright young programmers could be fleeing persecution for their works in the USA to set up shop in Bangalore, where they'd probably be able to live like kings. Either way, the way things are going, only monolithic corporations will still be putting out software.

    If the US government decides to ban the sale of what everyone else in the world is using, then they'll only fall behind in technology overall...

    • Very true .. Let's look at the comparison: ONE SIDE: 1. China is the fastest growth country (in term of econ) in the world. And it also was the country that has the MOST SOFTWARE, MUSIC COPYRIGHT VIOLATION (95%) in the world. AND THE OTHER: 2. Look at how our (US) econ grew last year and how much work we put on the "Copyright Protection"?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @05:04AM (#11793027)

      "Eventually, things will become so draconian that companies and independant (often open source) developers are afraid to develop software in America, from fears of breaking things like the DMCA or being charged with "Software Patent Infringency" that they'll have to create new silicon valleys elsewhere in places that don't care."


      Excuse me? ... will become?
      My dear fellow, with all due respect, you are simply wrong on this matter. The future is here. I am an Open Source developer. And I have a great idea that I'd like to take to market.

      I already AM afraid of bringing this to market, due to bogus patent lawsuits, and the financial losses which will result to me personally.


      So what can I do? The ONLY way this can happen now in the U.S. is by Open Source. And I need to make certain that I transfer the copyright over to the FSF, as is recommended with the GPL.


      Furthermore, I also need to start up a company, incorporate it, and follow all the onerous rules about State filings, stock issuance, Tax ID number, payroll, and whatnot, just to insulate my personal finances. Yes, I could avoid this step, but I have enough personal assets that I really need to do this.


      All for a relatively simple and useful solution in a particular niche, which has received a lot of positive interest and some press.


      If you want a first-hand look at the negative effect of Software Patents and bogus lawsuits are inpacting creativity on the cutting edge, look no further.


      The other sadly amusing side effect is that there is absolutely no way that I could take this via a proprietary route. Back in the 80's and 90's, I could build up a company myself without being forced to go to a VC. Now I can't. I'm positive some two-bit thief of a lawyer would come along with a bogus patent and want some money. I can't afford this personally. And so, the closed-source route is no longer viable for innovation, except on the large-scale level.


      What further proof does anyone want at how innovation is being stifled?


      And yes, if the EU actually does reject Software Patents, I'm going over there as soon as I can. Not to go the closed source route; but just for the piece of mind.


      Yes, I'm worried. And if you aren't (and are in the U.S.), you're either not doing innovative work, or are sticking your head in the sand.

      • I have a new site (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I have a new website, we host in outside of the USA. Even the DNS we host outside the USA. We went to great lengths to ensure we didn't use a company with a USA parent, Rackspace was ruled out immediately.

        The reason is simple, it would take one bogus copyright claim from one hotmail account to bring the site down, or one spurious patent suit to bring the company down.

        It's pure defensiveness, I see things I did in the 80's being awarded as USA patents in the 2000's and I see those bogus patents being used
      • Anonymous Coward,

        you have a choice, but you may not like it, because it requires full out honesty about software, and that is something you may not be willing to do.

        To prove that software is not patentable means that it must be made easy enough to create that its common for anyone to do so, just as it is common for people to use a calculator, probably instead of doing the math manually.

        Can software be automated to such a point?

        Absolutely, in fact that the is the ultimate goal of the act of programming:
        • "To prove that software is not patentable means that it must be made easy enough to create that its common for anyone to do so"

          What like 1 click ordering? So easy to create that its common for anyone to do so, and that will make it not patentable?

          • Yeah, and that explains why swinging sideways on a swing also got a patent and I think everyone has heard about the patent on a wheel.

            But it is a very good example exposing how badly the USPTO has gotten about granting patents.

            software is not patentable anymore then natural law, physical phenomenon, abstract ideas, mathmatical algorythims, etc... the things we can either not claim ownership to or are otherwise unenforceable, due to common nature.... like the common nature of man to create abstractions so
            • "the things we can either not claim ownership to or are otherwise unenforceable, due to common nature...."

              Or the 3rd option, claim ownership but protect the idea in some other way, for example trade secrets as its done now.

              "further advance his knowledge...... and deception...."

              I'm not sure what exactly was your beef with grand parent AC's comment anyway. It seems quite plain, he can't take the risk on making closed source software in the USA because flimsy patent suits would bankrupt him (as opposed to o
        • Since when are crackpots moderated informative? I've never seen such a bunch of BS in my life. Normally I would write a comprehensive critic about the article, but in this case I do not even known where to start. Ok, some points: writing software is not easy, and it is not written to solve problems created by the same, nor does it have anything to do with interfaces per se. Then there is the flawed anagram about the numeral system, what does that have to do anything with it?

          It is a surprise you have the fu
          • "... writing software is not easy, and it is not written to solve problems created by the same, nor does it have anything to do with interfaces per se. Then there is the flawed anagram about the numeral system, what does that have to do anything with it?

            It is a surprise you have the fucking guts to not post as anonymous coward. Since when are persons attacked on posting anonymously anyway? It's hard enough to start off with 0 points in the first place.
            "

            Your arguement is a collection of non-sequiters (sp?)
            • My argument a series of non-sequiters? Well, that's better than no argument at all. What the hell does a HCI have to do with programming? Most of what I program does not even *have* a HCI. Does that mean the software is useless? I might not hope so. What the hell does .NET or any other technique has to do with the subject at hand?

              Hiding under anonymous can mean two things: you want to be a nuisance, or you are hiding from your employer. As the first option is probably out, the reason why the poster was hid
        • Point being, your vested interest in your career of being a programmer is perhaps keeping you from the honesty of the purpose and goal of programming enough to lie to the general public as you and many others in your situation, proprietary and open source have both lied so to protect your trade

          WOW. I almost have no words to respond to the arrogant assumptions evident in your post! You are certainly putting a lot of words in the original AC's mouth. Most of my surprise at reading your post involved

  • It would help if they would at least answer emails.

    Pretty tacky if you ask me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @04:31AM (#11792969)
    I can't decide where we need Lawrence Lessig more... in the White House or on the Supreme Court bench...
  • by blackest_k (761565) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:07AM (#11793144) Homepage Journal
    Artistic works and I think you can include software in that definition have a value which is determined by the user.

    As a content producer or copyright holder or patent holder your attitude to this ranges from I couldnt careless to sue the dead granny.

    The big problem in reality is corperate greed, any exchange of files that they originally produced they see as a lost sale that they should have made. This only makes sense if people have the morals of a corperation.

    What it means as a corperation is that your suppliers have no value to you. In physical trade thats seen as footwear manufacturers pay children 50p to produce footwear sold for £50 in supermarkets fixing a milk price below the cost of production, farmers being forced into contracts to supply one supermarket chain then being told the product isn't wanted and it gets left to rot in the fields, At least with our morning coffee we have an idea of how badly the producers are exploited. These are the morals of a corperate world- none what so ever and these are the standards by which we are being judged.

    We will never pay for anything which we can get for free only if punitive damages are made against individuals is there any hope for the copyright holders to scare individuals into paying for copyrighted products.

    Is this true are we just prepared to take and never pay for anything if we can get it for free or near free if we were corperations not people the answer is yes but we are not.

    lets take a look at a legal method of obtaining books software and music and films for free or near free the public libarary should the public libary be sued for damages for the millions of books it regularly distributes to millions if not billions, look at all the lost sales there, or TV perhaps millions of viewers watching films instead of buying them. Lets shut the TV Stations down lets shut the libarys down. These blatent leachers of corperate property.

    The reality is that TV Radio and libarys do in fact generate sales for the copyright holders and so does peer to peer file sharing.

    Artistic works have no value in themselves, what value has a sound or an image
    perhaps the sound of me breaking wind is mine copyrightable for all eternity it is mine I produced it you heard its exquisite tones its delicate textures. so pay me for it then! no perhaps it has no value for you.

    People pay for things they value and can afford simple as that the reality is that human beings have an appreciation of an artists labour and will pay for it without being sued if it has enough value for them.

    If your making a living using someone elses work and you do not pay them for it then punitive actions are reasonable, What is crazy is that the people who make money from selling fake products, selling 'pirated' copies of movies and cd's are operating freely the mpaa will not come after me for buying a copy of a movie from a guy in a market but will if i download it myself.

    Lets just look to the future where copyright is enforced vigourously everything i look at listen too I pay for. well whats going to happen then is i listen to and view a lot less.

    See p2p as a marketing tool that actually increases sales not a method of reducing sales.

    Does an author see a libary as a threat to sales or a method to gain a following a buying readership if the later what is p2p file sharing other than i big libary.
  • Music Copyright... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TruckerTom (862655) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:59AM (#11793245)
    My feeling is if you don't like the way things are copyrited and/or the way a particular industry works, stop using their products. The entertainment industry acts like a drug pusher protecting his turf, or a Mafia guy making businesses in a corrupted neghborhood pay "protection" fees. Take their power away by stopping drug use and/or moving to an uncorrupted neighborhood. The sad fact is that the entertainment industry is making billions of dollars off of mediocre product because they have millions of addicts. It's like fast food -- the fast food keeps getting worse as more and more people eat it.
    • However (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      the only marker the RIAA have for how much piracy is hurting them is the fall in sales or profit. A boycott will merely make you a probable pirate.

      I keep getting hassled by the TV licensing authority for not having a license for my TV. However, their only proof of my having a TV is that other people do.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:36AM (#11793439) Journal
    ...intellectual property granting, licensings is a legal oriented document of agreement. Though there are things in any legal document that might be non-binding due to priority of other legal issues, the point is, is that it is a document of agreement by those who use it.

    No document should be able to allow the signing away of natural human rights or such rights that fit needed freedoms in any given economic environment, such as a fair competition economic environment (i.e. probably quite a few of MS's created agreements with OEMs, etc.. contridicting fair competition as was presented in the DOJ vs. MS case..)

    But here is the key point:

    "..if we didn't build upon what those before us have done, we then would not advance at all, but rather be like any other mammal incapable of anything more than, at best, first level abstraction. But we are more, and as such have the natural human right and duty to advance in such a manner."

    from abstraction physics" [ffii.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:52AM (#11793614)
    No really, IP was always supposed to be a limited concession to encourage publishing of art and inventions.
    Things that would be in the public domain have had the length of their copyright extended, rewriting the 'contract' after the agreed exclusivity benefits have been enjoyed.
    Patents are in a similar position not because of extension but the fact that with more rapid progress after that after the 20 years of exclusiviry they can be irrelevant.
    There are a whole raft of inventions that cannot be made because it uneconomic to liscense all the technologies involved and art that cannot be made because either rights will not be granted or are too expensive. Documentaries and Modern music most obviously suffer a lot from this because they directly sample things. Clasical composers though have run afoul of such things as they sample melodies to compose their works and Bebop and Jazz with its standards probably would be unable to evolve in todays aggressive climate.
    Even worse than cripling the evolution of human culture Intellectual Property inhibits research into medicines that could save millions due to having to liscense many different patented genes - to do basic research into breast and other cancers. These Genes were not 'invented' just sequenced - imagine Newton patenting Gravity and you see how wrong this is. It is not a cost of recouping research costs, it is more akin to 'cyber-squatting' the human genome.
    Intellectual Property impedes progress, it inhibits the economy, it is not the free market it is the creation of monopolies with incredible penalties associated with those guilty of copyright infringement.
    Monopolies are a bad thing for consumers, Government enforced Monopolies are worse.
    P.S. I stole all these ideas from others, even the ones I believed were original are heavily derived from preexisting thought.
    But especial theft thanks goes to Freedom of Expression be Kembrew McCloud http://kembrew.com/books/ [kembrew.com] which is very readable has well documented examples of all the above and is available for money or for free.
  • by Octagon Most (522688) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:58AM (#11793631)
    Prof. Lessig has put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. He is offering his latest book, Free culture, as a free download [free-culture.cc]. You can get it as a 2.4MB PDF, a bittorrent, or a in a bunch of other formats. Enjoy.
    • Beyond an idea, this is the Creative Commons in action: http://www.ccmixter.org

      They recently held a contest where remixers could sample works from popular artists such as Beastie Boys, Chuck D, David Byrne and others. The winners are to be published on CD.

      A great idea is never worth as much until it is proven by empirical evidence. If you think the Creative Commons is a great idea then support it by making use of, and contributing to, the 'pool' of CC licensed content; just the way Lessig and these remixe
      • a few years ago, chuck-d announced a contest on napster to remix a PE song. the contest was the first of it's kind on napster, i believe. it was open, interestingly, only to US citizens.
        i wrote to chuck and stated my dismay, first about not being able to enter, since i like to create music and was a big PE fan, and secondly (to what i now give greater importance) about the inherent contradiction in what he was suggesting about the philosophy of freedom regarding sampling and remixing, but yet limiting t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "
    If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. ... The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.
    "
    This was quoted by Fred Warshofsky in "The Patent Wars" of 1994. The text is f
  • by Snaller (147050)
    Isn't that the guy from West Wing? ;)

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