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Lessig's "In Defense of Piracy" 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the landlubbers-just-don't-understand dept.
chromakey writes "The Wall Street Journal is running an essay from Lawrence Lessig about the fair use of copyrighted material on the Internet. He makes the case that companies who go to extreme lengths to squash minor videos, such as Universal, are stifling creativity in the modern era. Lessig makes specific reference to a YouTube video that was hit by a DMCA takedown notice, in which a 13-month-old child is dancing to a nearly inaudible soundtrack of Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy.' Lawrence Lessig is a board member for the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
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Lessig's "In Defense of Piracy"

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  • by Gerafix (1028986) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:04PM (#25340243)
    They should be happy they weren't charged for child pornography because of the dancing child. Somebody didn't think of the children?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:07PM (#25340259)

    Is that this was written by Thomas Jefferson, and Lessig just republished it under his name. Yes, Thomas Jefferson knew about YouTube 200 years before it was invented.

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:09PM (#25340269) Homepage
    Even though Lessig wants to change the length of copyright and ensure fair use, he still believes that the concept should be enshrined in law. That makes his status as a hero here on Slashdot odd, because many posters here have claimed that copyright is simply no longer a valid concept at all in the digital era.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:13PM (#25340311)

      The obvious point is that he is still championing change, while most of us just sit on our butts and complain. Regardless of our views on just how much more change should be ushered in, you have to respect his efforts.

      As a sidenote, my captcha is 'copying'.

      • by russotto (537200)

        The obvious point is that he is still championing change, while most of us just sit on our butts and complain. Regardless of our views on just how much more change should be ushered in, you have to respect his efforts.

        How much have we gotten done to knock copyright law down to size, sitting on our butts and complaining? Nothing, right. How much has Lessig gotten done to knock copyright law down to size, championing change as he has? Same nothing. So the only real difference is he's put out a lot more

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:17PM (#25340331)

      Why, it's almost as if there's a spectrum of opinions on /. from disparate individuals that are merely communicating in a shared forum!

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      I think pretty much noone thinks that making money of other peoples work is ok(main purpose of copyright is after all making sure the money(if any) goes to the right person). However many people argue that getting data for free is a right.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Making money off other people's work is fine. It happens all the time. If someone in a factory helps build a car, the salesman at your local car dealership is making money off that factory-worker's work. That's fine, as long as everyone along the line who makes money on that work is adding some value in some way (and likewise, everyone who is adding value to the product is making money). If Prince writes a song, sells it and makes money, that's great. If someone else takes part of that song, incorporates th
        • by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:41PM (#25340503) Journal

          In fact, I think you have something. If only the sound track in the example were posted to Youtube, would it have been infringement? Would anyone have listened to it? I posit that it would have been useless without the little dancing kid, and therefore is a 'new' work based loosely on impressions from Prince's work, and thus required some semblance of his work to create the second and 'new' work.

          How much profit should go to prince? None. He got free advertising and possibly should pay a royalty to the second artist. After all, if it weren't for the video there would only be 4 people thinking of Prince's music... 3 if you don't count him, or something like that.

          The "time limit of popularity" has passed. His music is not on the charts anymore so using it is not unfairly drawing off his work to garner profit or popularity. In fact, it can be argued that he garnered popularity because of this second work. Once that "time limit" passes, copyright is arguably invalid.

      • by russotto (537200)

        I think pretty much noone thinks that making money of other peoples work is ok(main purpose of copyright is after all making sure the money(if any) goes to the right person).

        Making money off of other people's work is fine, and pretty much every person in the so-called creative industries believes it. How many times has a large part of old Bill Shakespeare's work made it into something new (and he wasn't 100% original either). How much visual art references or incorporates older visual art, usually without

    • by mangu (126918) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:31PM (#25340443)

      The US Constitution says:

      The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

      Copyright is constitutional only if it promotes the progress of science and useful arts.

      Now the question is *ARE* science and useful arts being promoted by copyrights? Would you say that this work [imdb.com] is a progress over this one [imdb.com]? If a remake was made, is the copyright in the older film still valid? Why?

      The only thing that's being promoted by copyrights is the profit of some corporations.

      • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:56PM (#25340599) Homepage

        "Copyright is constitutional only if it promotes the progress of science and useful arts."

        Though I agree with you on this matter, SCOTUS does not -- and (*sigh) SCOTUS is the final arbiter of what is constitutional.

        In the holdings of Eldred versus Ashcroft, it was made clear that copyright is presumed consitutional if it is for a non-infinite amount of time and preserves the distinction between idea and expression.

        The idiotic copyright laws that now exist and will soon exist are subject to challenges, just not *constitutional ones.

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Though I agree with you on this matter, SCOTUS does not -- and (*sigh) SCOTUS is the final arbiter of what is constitutional.

          No offense, but you're both wrong and SCOTUS is right. The Constitution clearly gives Congress the right to create copyright laws, and the preliminary statement as to the purpose of copyright law does not create a Constitutional mandate that only "useful arts and sciences" be protected.

          The Second Amendment has a similar preface; does that mean restricting gun ownership is fine a
          • by mangu (126918)

            The Second Amendment has a similar preface; does that mean restricting gun ownership is fine as long as it doesn't interfere with a well-regulated militia?

            Considering the many laws restricting gun ownership, one would think so. Gun ownership is allowed, or perhaps one should say "tolerated" for other purposes, but subject to a long list of regulations. Having a gun is prohibited under any sort of circumstances where it could possibly cause danger. There are laws stating that guns must be securely stored, ma

          • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:55PM (#25340987)

            I agree with you that the preface clause doesn't limit Congress to only establishing copyright if the material counts as a useful art or science, nor does it limit terms to only those durations that result in a net gain to the art or science involved.
            I disagree that SCOTUS is right (not that they will listen to me). I think that the founders, when they wrote about a limited time, were treating copyright as derived from a natural right to copy, which everyone posessed by Nature, for the agnostic founders (or grant of Nature's God, for the deistic founders). That natural right was of course naturally limited, by death. No one could exercise their right to copy even a fraction of a second after they died. If that's true, then 'for a limited time' would have to mean less than a natural lifespan. Life+50, 70 and so on type limits violate this, AND they make copyright a created right, not a transferred one. By its very definition, a Life+70 type right has to be created at least in part by the government, by fiat, and not exist as a transfer.
                  The real downside of this is, if Congress ever shortens copyright, the remaining time now doesn't have to revert to the public. If Congress were to decide tomorrow that authors could only enjoy, say, a 14 year copyright, they could give the remainder to anybody, the public, the federal government, the organized publishing industry as a whole, or whatever, and it wouldn't be a taking without just compensation, anymore than the original extension was a taking from the public (again, as SCOTUS sees it). A lot of authors who think the government is on their side may get a rude shock.
                  One last point - while, as far as I can see, it doesn't hurt your argument or mine, there's a real shift in what English meant then and means now. That is, useful arts mostly meant technologies and practical applications, not arts like painting or playwriting, and a lot of things we'd call arts, i.e. literature, rhetoric and philosophy, were more firmly regarded as part of the Sciences in Madison's and Jefferson's days.

          • As a Constitutional matter I would be a lot more worried about the government deciding what constitutes "useful" when it comes to science and art.

            As a practical matter, the United States' various governments have been deciding that for a long, long time.

      • by kandresen (712861)

        Copyrights does indeed help promote science and arts, however only to a certain degree.
        Why should a company develop something new if everyone else can simply copy it and sell it as their own without the cost of the development process?
        The same is true for writing books - everyone could simply copy your work and sell it again without the writer getting anything.

        The question to what extent it is a promoting development of science and arts. I will argue it should be obvious that too long copyright is worse tha

        • it is better to simply make another work and wait for someone to use your idea and sue them for violation.

          That would be true if you could copyright ideas, but of course, you can't. One of the main ideas behind the first Harry Potter book is that of a boy finding out he can do magic (and that magic exists) when he's accepted as a student at a school for wizardry. Among other things, I'm a writer. If I wanted, I could write a book based on exactly that idea and Rowling couldn't do one thing about it as

      • The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have at least two clauses that are in the form of "$purpose therefore $power".

        The other famous case of this involves a well regulated militia. IANAConstitutional scholar, but it seems that it isn't necessary for $purpose to be served in order for $power to be upheld as Constitutional. This cuts both ways, you see. If we accept that $purpose must be served, then you must interpret the 2nd ammendment as providing no right to bear arms except in support of a well regu

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          ...except that all falls apart once you realize what "militia" was being referred to in 1783.

          That clause means that you, me and my next door neighbor should be well armed
          and should be able to hit what we aim at because "the militia" is the entire
          population of military age males.

          It's not the cops.
          It's not the national guard.
          It's not the army.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by serutan (259622)

        One problem is that the copyright industry has been very successful at equating copyright and property in the public mind. Many people now believe that the right to control the use of everything we create is an inherent human right that has existed since the dawn of time, and that copyright laws merely codified this right. In their view copyright infringement is the moral equivalent of snatching a little old lady's purse. It's hard to have a reasonable discussion of Fair Use when the copyright industry gets

      • Remakes often offer something new, varied, different, or at least modern context to an old idea. I don't see you complaining about, for example, plays? Many plays have been in many, many productions, each with the same words being spoken by different people. Surely, if the remake is not "science and useful arts", then plays too are not? Sometimes, we just want a modern crack at an old concept. Also, kids today are more likely to see a modern movie than hunt down older ones, so the feasible only opportunity

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B (891430)

      Well, it's only odd until you realise that 'Slashdot' isn't a single person or entity with a single will and single set of values, but is in fact comprosed of many individuals, with many individual and different value and points of view. Thus, the idea that 'Slashdot' could thing that copyright should both be enshrined in law, and also utterly erradicated, isn't contradictory at all, because those views, and many more alike and different to those views, are held by different people.

  • by mangu (126918) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:20PM (#25340357)

    Why do media companies think that any use of media should be paid for?

    Suppose farmers acted like that. They grow grain to sell, but their plants create oxygen from carbon dioxide gas as a side effect. Oxygen is a valuable commodity, it's sold in bottles for many uses: hospitals, aviators, steel-cutting, etc. But farmers are sensible enough to know that it would be totally impractical to try to charge for the oxygen their plants release into the atmosphere.

    Media companies should grow up and accept the same fact for their productions. Copyrights should be enforced in movie theatres, someone sneaking into a theatre to watch a movie without paying is somewhat like someone stealing grain from a farmer. But trying to charge for every little use of their media is like a farmer trying to charge for the oxygen their plants release into the atmosphere the same price industrial gas distributors charge for bottled oxygen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mi (197448)

      But farmers are sensible enough to know that it would be totally impractical to try to charge for the oxygen their plants release into the atmosphere.

      Only until it becomes practical to do that. When it does, expect the market of all sorts of airs ("Wisconsin Pasture", "Vermont Forest") — and expect people trying to sneak into the crops-covering air-collecting canopy for a sniff to get busted (deservingly).

      • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:22PM (#25341101)

        Only until it becomes practical to do that. When it does, expect the market of all sorts of airs ("Wisconsin Pasture", "Vermont Forest") -- and expect people trying to sneak into the crops-covering air-collecting canopy for a sniff to get busted (deservingly).

        Well, when that day comes, those farmers better make damn sure that none of the carbon dioxide those plants consume comes from my lungs.

        • by mi (197448)

          Well, when that day comes, those farmers better make damn sure that none of the carbon dioxide those plants consume comes from my lungs.

          Well, if it came out of your lungs into atmosphere — it is everybody's. But you are, of course, entitled to collect your own CO2, if you'd like and sell it on the free market.

      • Only until it becomes practical to do that. When it does, expect the market of all sorts of airs ("Wisconsin Pasture", "Vermont Forest") — and expect people trying to sneak into the crops-covering air-collecting canopy for a sniff to get busted (deservingly).

        Which is also a good example of why copyright law as it currently stands is not only bad, it's downright dangerous.

        As it stands, it is illegal for you to distribute an MP3 that you don't "own." But how hard is it to distribute it? It's now easier to "manufacture" and distribute a work to hundreds of thousands of people than it is to tie your shoes.

        Millions of children around the world can do this effortlessly with no real cost to themselves. When that is that case, and when an effortless act that hundreds o

      • In the digital age, is it really practical to charge for songs, TV shows, and movies?

        Is it really practical if we, as a society, have to continually waste an incredible amount of time, money, and resources on copyright enforcement?

    • O2 is a secondary by-product from farming. With media companies, the media is their primary product. Apples and oranges.

      Do media companies go overboard? Yes. Should they be able to charge for their product? Yes.

      • by mangu (126918) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:36PM (#25340467)

        With media companies, the media is their primary product. Apples and oranges

        Hmmm, I see. So, you're saying that when a company creates a film for theatre exhibition, they cannot charge for the by-products? Such as foreign translations? TV versions? DVDs? Sound tracks? Mpeg files?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ardle (523599)
          Actually, I think you've hit the nail on the head here: they shouldn't charge for any of these things! If a customer wants one of these things, they should be provided by a third party (publisher), with the publisher paying the producer their "cut" of the sale. If the producer is the publisher (as is often the case for "big" media), then let them bill themselves (it's SOX-friendly ;-)
          By separating production and publishing, we can get out of the situation whereby "back catalogues" can be made arbitrarily u
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by blahplusplus (757119) *

      "...their plants release into the atmosphere."

      Note on "their plants", farmers did not create plants, in fact nobody is creating value, all they are doing is reshaping pre-existing value. This myth of "added value" is a bit of idealogical misunderstanding, you can't get value if you don't have any value to begin with - all value was already their in nature.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by cliffski (65094)

        so who planted them, and created the best conditions for them to grow? and fed them in some cases with the right mixtures of fertilizer etc?
        you?
        This all takes effort. And that effort needs to be rewarded, else there is no incentive to plant anything, and hence, you get an empty plate.

        • Wrong as usual cliffski.

          Effort does not, by virtue of being effort, "need to be rewarded".

          It's *very *difficult for me to make life-size statues of John Grisham out of sour cream.

          In free societies, we don't decide what I *deserve based on the quantity of labor and pass laws to make sure I get that.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by cliffski (65094)

            wrong again as usual. I never said all effort should be rewarded, but you enjoy your strawman kid.
            If you want farmers to plant those crops, you need to pay them. else they have no incentive to do so, and you go hungry.
            do you grasp the concept yet?
            Or do you still delude yourself that other people will run around providing goods and services top you for free because you have an automatic entitlement to everything?

            • Weird. I coulda sworn I grew some vegetables this year. But no one paid me, therefore by your logic I had no incentive to do so.

              So I guess I remember it wrong; maybe it was all a dream.

              • "Weird. I coulda sworn I grew some vegetables this year. But no one paid me, therefore by your logic I had no incentive to do so."

                You paid yourself to satisfy your rumbly tumbly, poo-boy.

      • by spazdor (902907)

        Yeah. If the farm (or some other) wasn't there producing O2, then wild plants would instead.

      • by qw0ntum (831414) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:58PM (#25340605) Journal
        I don't believe "added value" is a myth.

        When I buy food in a restaurant, the chef adds value to the ingredients by preparing them in a knowledgable way. I find more value in, and am willing to pay more for, a fine dinner than I am for a fish and some vegetables. The end product has more value than its constituent parts because of the valuable skills the chef used to create it.

        Value is not inherent in anything. Human creativity and ingenuity versus our needs creates value. Iron is not valuable to a stone age society. It becomes highly valuable once they possess the skill to use it in a way that helps meet their needs.

        Another example. The hard drive in your computer is more valuable to you than other hard drives or the $30 (approx) it cost to manufacture because it holds data that is presumably important to you on it. So, it is more valuable than its constituent components. And it's not any more valuable to me than another hard drive, because I don't have any interest in the data on it.

        So, I humbly disagree that value can't be added to something already existing. I think that nothing has inherent value, and whatever value it does have (financially or otherwise) is placed upon it us. But that's just my philosophical point of view.
        • by nodwick (716348)

          And it's not any more valuable to me than another hard drive, because I don't have any interest in the data on it.

          That's only because you haven't seen the size of his porn collection.

      • by Risen888 (306092)

        Are you serious? Have you ever seen a farm? The farmer didn't just find that corn growing there. Yes, those are their plants.

    • Not to mention that if farmers tried that, the /. community would switch to breathing air from wild forests etc.
    • But farmers are sensible enough to know that it would be totally impractical to try to charge for the oxygen their plants release into the atmosphere.

      That, actually, is not the question. It wasn't practical (until very recently, historically speaking) for copyright holders to exert remote control over the distribution and use of their products either. Now it is, and they're trying to do just that (by both technological and legal measures.) The real question is whether farms would do it if they could. And the answer is, yes, they probably would.

    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:00PM (#25340615) Homepage

      "Why do media companies think that any use of media should be paid for?"

      Because the metaphor of property was allowed to run rampant, unquestioned.

      Not to flamebait or OT, but as in many things, rms was prophetic about this. He begged anyone who would listen not to use the term "intellectual property" as was widely ridiculed, as in many things.

      • He begged anyone who would listen not to use the term "intellectual property" as was widely ridiculed, as in many things.

        I, for one, agree with what RMS has to say about the blanket term "intellectual property" [fsf.org]. Use of the term reinforces misconceptions that benefit owners of some exclusive rights. Particularly, it invites drawing false parallels among copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, and between those legal traditions and real estate.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Because the metaphor of property was allowed to run rampant, unquestioned.

        Agreed, but there's actually a similar situation on the other side of copyrights, where copyrights are considered so far divorced from property, that breaking copyright isn't considered stealing, despite the good reasons to do so. (I will go into them if anyone wants to know)

    • But surely the barriers that stop any person from getting into the cinema without paying are artificial? Why not just allow anyone to come in? If they like the film, they will want to pay as much as they think it's worth. That seems to be compatible with the standard Slashdot user view on copyright.

      A good bit of reasoning by analogy is like a car, I always say.

      • by cliffski (65094)

        as a cinema owner, if you don't respect my barriers and buy a ticket. I wont buy the movie rights, and the moviemaker will not make the movie.

        You don't work for nothing, why expect anyone else to?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Bad example, since you cited a physical resource. If I use it, someone else can't. Not so with information.
    • by serutan (259622)

      But farmers are sensible enough to know that it would be totally impractical to try to charge for the oxygen their plants release into the atmosphere.

      Or maybe agribusiness lawyers just haven't come up with a way to pull that off yet.

      Farmers know it would be totally impractical to try to stop each other from selling plants that grow spontaneously from seeds that blow from field to field. But Canada's supreme court has upheld the rights of Canola grain patent holders to do exactly that.

  • People in Rebellion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:21PM (#25340363)

    It has come to the point in America that many people are in some form of rebellion. Copyright issues are but a small edge of the issues that surround us. But as things now stand in the social justice arena piracy of intellectual property is not something I'm willing to get all excited about.Perhaps when our lazy government gets off of its backside and does something about the exploitation of our citizens by outrageous fuel and power prices and mortgages designed by Satan then i'll worry about whether somebody hummed a tune he heard on the radio without permission of a record company.

    • Perhaps when our lazy government gets off of its backside and does something about the exploitation of our citizens by outrageous fuel and power prices [...] then i'll worry about [copyright misuse]

      The United States government can't just force firms in other countries to sell energy more cheaply. There are two ways to push the price of a good down: increase supply or decrease demand. A government can regulate demand for a particular form of energy down somewhat by subsidizing more energy-efficient products, and it can regulate supply up by subsidizing forms of energy that haven't yet been widely exploited, but these won't have as dramatic an effect on energy prices as some might hope.

  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:41PM (#25340511)
    Copyright was never intended to prevent private copying for noncommercial uses. Please don't try to argue that "copying = not buying = commercial loss = commercial use" because it's a horribly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest argument. Stealing is depriving someone else of their property. Even if copying is depriving someone of a potential sale, there is no vested property right in potential sales. If so capitalism would not work, as competition would be equivalent to stealing. The makers of cars would be stealing from the makers of horsedrawn carriages. The makers of refrigerators would be stealing from ice manufacturers. The makers of calculators would be stealing from the makers of abacuses (abaci?). You get the point. I should be able to copy and read/watch/listen to/play in my own home, for my own use, any media in existence. The notion that without monopolies, creative people would not create has long been disproved. No monopolies are necessary to foster creativity. The best, most creative people will create regardless. The hacks are the ones who need monopoly protection. For example, without copyright, Neil Young would still be making music, but Brittney Spears would not. Because copyright has been so greatly abused, because it's been proven to be based on flawed logic, and because it only serves to hinder creativity and make money for those who do not deserve it, copright should be abolished completely. There should still be protection for attribution to prevent plaigariasm, in some form.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)

      If you end all copyright, you won't have the GPL anymore, since it relies on it. There is such a thing as intellectual property, and this is value assigned to mind creations, like music, artwork, and more.

      You're essentially saying that, say, if I spent three years writing an epic novel, I have no right to be compensated for it because you can easily copy a text file of it. Sorry, but that's silly. Your rant really stems from a desire to pirate everything for free without having to pay for it.

      The notion t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      The notion that without monopolies, creative people would not create has long been disproved. No monopolies are necessary to foster creativity. The best, most creative people will create regardless. The hacks are the ones who need monopoly protection. For example, without copyright, Neil Young would still be making music, but Brittney Spears would not.

      That some guy will come up with some song and play a few lines on his guitar yes, but that's like proving an all out nuclear war isn't the end because the cockroaches would survive. Take a modern day TV production, and look at the credits. There's maybe five main actors, but a ton of people doing location, camera, sound, makeup, wardrobe, props, sound effects, music, editing, special effects and all the other bits of putting it all together. Neil Young's songs make him famous, so is Jerry Seinfeld but most

      • by ratboy666 (104074)

        Jerry Seinfeld - wow...

        All episodes were broadcast to my house "for free" -- and somehow the "TV dudes" made money on it.

        I will let you contemplate that for a while.

        Mr Seinfeld, and the other cast members will make more money if the program is re-aired. Think on that a while.

        Now, discuss why the support people will NOT make residuals. That would be the "ton of people doing location, camera, sound, makeup, wardrobe, props, sound effects, music, editing, special effects and all the other bits of putting it al

        • by Raenex (947668)

          All episodes were broadcast to my house "for free" -- and somehow the "TV dudes" made money on it.

          The "somehow" is right to distribution based on copyright. The "TV dudes" made money by selling advertising. If there is no copyright, then anybody can copy the program and show it without advertising and without compensating the original producers.

          Now, discuss why the support people will NOT make residuals. [...] Since I won't be harming any of those people

          Those people would have been paid in the first place if there wasn't an expectation of revenue, which was based on copyright.

    • by cliffski (65094)

      "For example, without copyright, Neil Young would still be making music"

      Yes. He would make the odd album now and then after he wasn't too tired from his day job in Wal Mart.
      Personally, I'm glad that talented creative people can make a living from it, and do it full time, but then I don't resent paying $15 for an album I might listen to for the rest of my life.

    • Copyright was never intended to prevent private copying for noncommercial uses. Please don't try to argue that "copying = not buying = commercial loss = commercial use" because it's a horribly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest argument.

      ARGH! STRAWMAN!! No-one makes that argument! The problem is that copying = no chance of you buying (whereas statistically you had some chance of buying before) = loss, in the sense that without gluttonous quantities free entertainment you, or at least other people in

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:01PM (#25340629) Homepage

    According to the submitter's blurb:

    Lawrence Lessig is a board member for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    According to TFA:

    She pressed that question through a number of channels until it found its way to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (on whose board I sat until the beginning of 2008)

  • by baggins2001 (697667) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:07PM (#25340651)
    This concept of creative common good is going to take awhile to be accepted.
    1) It has to be accepted by society.
    Many still do not understand the Open Source model. If you look at financial markets and talk to business people they don't understand how RedHat and Novell plan to make money selling free software.
    2) Those who appreciate open source, need to reward those who produce for the open market.
    Not many have gotten filthy rich from open source.
    3) Lessig is correct.
    Copyright and IP rights are probably going to be here for awhile and probably should stay. Those who publish and produced copyright and license information software are going to be here for awhile. They choose to participate in a different market. Until there is a detriment or significant benefit to participation in one type of market or another, there is always going to be a choice.
    4) Get over it
    As long as MS, Universal, .... whoever sees a benefit they are going to do what they have been doing.
    Personally, I believe this is going to bite them in the ass big time. They want an open global market and yet they want IP rights at the same time. Well guess what, you manufacture your product in Asia and you've pretty much open sourced your product. They don't like to talk about it very much, but it is a fact of what is happening.
    [ubiquitous car analogy] If you make a car and you want it made cheaply, you had better have figured out a way to make a steady income from that car. What is happening is companies are requesting certain manufacturing be done, and then all of a sudden somebody else is manufacturing the same product. They start screaming "They stole our product". Guess what get over it, by the time you finish the legal international law wrangling, there is nothing left.
    So as soon as a company accepts open source the quicker they will be able to adjust to the global market.
  • The real problem is that is is next to impossible to get a successful barratry conviction against the corporate lawyers that embark on their scorched earth lawsuit campaigns. If the courts would lower the bar for establishing abusive behavior the sharks would think twice about using lawsuits as a weapon against harmless people.

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:57PM (#25341003)

    You know, if these companies thought on a smaller scale, they could just work out a deal with individuals where if a copyrighted work is unintentionally embedded into that individual's content, that individual could pay a reasonably small fee to continue using it without harassment, so long as it remains used only that particular context.

    People like to be able to share their home movies, but with crap like this going on, anyone is potentially vulnerable to similar issues with recording industry, simply because some jackass drove by their house with the radio cranked to 11 as the video was being shot.

    Oh, and forget anything like weddings or birthdays being safe from such abuses, birthdays are guaranteed to be grab bags for whoever owns the rights to "the birthday song" (which really should be in the public domain by now, IMHO). I'll bet there may even be a crack team doing nothing but searching youtube for birthday clips for any infringing content including "the birthday song" to harass those who posted it unaware they did anything wrong...

    • You know, if these companies thought on a smaller scale, they could just work out a deal with individuals where if a copyrighted work is unintentionally embedded into that individual's content, that individual could pay a reasonably small fee to continue using it without harassment, so long as it remains used only that particular context.

      Sure, if we had some kind of micropayment system that could service such things (we don't), and if people should be harassed in such a manner (they shouldn't) and if the big rightsholders making all these threats would do anything but keep that money for themselves and continue ripping off the artists (and they will) ... why, then that's a great idea. Keep in mind, that when it comes to music and entertainment in general, the people who own the copyrights are generally not the people who did the creating. T

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      Such licensing would solve many problems, but the idea that the cost would be minimal is not supported by evidence. In fact we can look at commercial licensing and see that the cost is often prohibitive. In addition to the number of television shows that cannot be released on DVD, two other specific examples come to mind. First the german movie Lola Rennt, according to the audio commentary, was going to use an Elvis tune. The cost was extraordinary, so another song was used. Second, In Buffy Whedon used
  • by naily (672109)
    The trouble is that these media companies have paid lots of money for the 'rights' to these media, for which they expect a return. The other trouble is that for every 'true' artist, like Neil Young, there will always be 100 artists who want all the riches for their 20 mins of inspiration. To my mind, the simplest approach is that all rights should be legally bound (non-transferable) to the creator. So artists *cannot* sell their souls, even if they wanted to. In this modern age, where media is cheap and
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918)

      the simplest approach is that all rights should be legally bound (non-transferable) to the creator

      An interesting idea, but unenforceable. They would just turn the contract around. Instead of the artist selling the rights to the song, he would contract the services of the MAFIAA to distribute it. Instead of getting 0.05% of the sales in royalties, he would pay 99.95% of the sales in fees.

  • Larry is speaking at the Free Culture Conference [freeculture.org] in Berekely right now (streaming video available on that site). He mentioned the essay (an excerpt from his book) and stated that he hated the title, had no control over it, and that it speaks to the problem with a fundamental problem of the free culture movement: people perceive us as thieves.

    • fundamental problem of the free culture movement: people perceive us as thieve

      See, I think this a natural issue for Republicans to take up. I would rather say that it is not that you are thieves, it is that greedy hollywood wants to throw teenagers in jail for paying a tax on copying something that they can copy themselves.

      Big copyrights are big government, I'd say.

      Conservatives are reeling after three decades of getting torched by the liberals in the movies, songs and press, and are just itching for some

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Saturday October 11, 2008 @08:36PM (#25342983) Homepage Journal

    Alright, this election is a lost cause but a core item in the new Republican Party that must emerge is a more open stance on copyrights. Democrats and liberals are in bed with copyrights because, well, the copyright is the life blood of the liberal - books, movies, etc, all require copyrights to succeed, and Republicans should be more willing to go after this jugular by removing the artificial laws that ensnare the very masses the Democrats claim to love.

    If Democrats can do windfall profits taxes and penalty taxes on Republican economic interests ranging from petroleum to corn, then it only makes sense to shorten copyright to ten years and wave all civil penalties for infringement against anyone who, to borrow a page from Obama, makes under $250,000 a year.

    If, after all, America's middle class is so strapped, then, why should we be forcing them to pay for something that they are perfectly capable of copying for free? If Madonna wants to be a Democrat, she can die by their economics.

  • I love Cold Play, but I like V8 engines too, and sometimes, we just have to give it up for Mother Earth and progress.

    Since Obama is going to create 5 million new jobs making windmills, then, if we lose 350,000 jobs by getting rid of copyrights, then, clearly there's still 4,650,000 jobs left. Maybe Madonna can work in a carbon sequestration plant, dressing up mother earth with her love.

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