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Doctorow On Copyright Reform & Culture 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the part-and-parcel dept.
super-papa sends us to Locus Magazine for an article by Cory Doctorow discussing the conflicts between copyright law and modern culture, and arguing against the perception that copying media is still unusual. Quoting: "Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant. Clip a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity, it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement. There's a word for all the stuff we do with creative works — all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture."
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Doctorow On Copyright Reform & Culture

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  • by aussie_a (778472) on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:51PM (#25684699) Journal

    Seriously, this is just preaching to the choir at this stage. Although it'd be nice if this picked up some mainstream coverage.

  • BRAVO! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So when is the author going to spend $50 million of his money making a blockbuster movie and then give it away for free to everyone? I *eagerly* await that...

    • Re:BRAVO! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:23PM (#25684893) Journal

      With copyright out of the way, it might not take $50 million to make a "blockbuster" movie. And I don't know about you, but I'm not going to slit my wrists or shoot up a shopping mall if they suddenly stop making $50 million blockbuster movies.

      • Re:BRAVO! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:39PM (#25684983)

        Yeah, they clearly spent $100 million on copyright clearances alone for Transformers.

        The better argument is that if there is really a market for movies, someone will find a way to finance them, copyright or not (I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together).

        • Re:BRAVO! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by click2005 (921437) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:00AM (#25685123)

          I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together

          Thats how movies should be financed.

          Let the film companies raise the money for them by getting it from customers... giving money gives you the right to own that movie on whatever formats you choose.
          If the film does well, it shouldn't be hard to raise more for a sequel but if they make it a pile of crap they wont earn as much next time.
          It encourages studios to make good movies, not just churn out whatever remake/special effects shite they think will earn them the most.

          Fund Bourne Film 4.. 10 million shares @ $10 each... all the profit gets split between the shareholders (with a percentage being held to help raise money for Bourne 5?)

          • Let the film companies raise the money for them by getting it from customers... giving money gives you the right to own that movie on whatever formats you choose.

            That only has a chance of working if the people who don't give money are not allowed to own the movie on whatever format they choose. This disallowal can either be by legal means (but then it's basically copyright, so you are right back with what you are trying to get rid of with this approach), or technical (DRM).

            • by click2005 (921437)

              You make it sound like nobody would pay if it was available for free. You might be right for some people, but I would.
              I'm sure there are enough people out there who would do the same.

              There doesn't have to be a legal means or anything to prevent people from copying, just a moral one.

              • Re:BRAVO! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @03:22AM (#25685933) Journal

                Actually you wouldn't even need that,you give the people the best reason to pay: More of what they want. Kinda like how Joss Whedon suggested. Take a show like Firefly that the network didn't get,or an idea like Faith the Vampire Slayer or Ripper that a lot of the fans wrote in about. To get up the cash for the first one you can have several ways for the fans to give: donations(Give $50 and get a cool t-shirt that you will ONLY get here! For $100 it'll be signed by one of the stars!) auctions for walk on roles(who wouldn't want to wear the vamp makeup and get turned to dust by Eliza?),plus you can have product placements,etc.

                Then you tell the fans "Hey! You guys want another movie? Buy the DVD and tell all your friends! And don't forget the new limited t-shirt for the sequel! Just come and donate!" plus you can sell memorabilia from the set of the first movie,etc. Just think,if movies and shows were made like this we would have probably never had "The Dukes of Hazzard" or "Bewitched" stinkbombs. Personally I have my Joss Whedon collection sitting on the shelf in the nice pretty boxes but would be happy to buy more stuff for a new Firefly or FtVS or even a Spike and Dru TV movie. How about you?

                But no matter what we REALLY need copyright reform. I have said this before,but in case some missed it I'll say it again as it bears repeating. For those that don't think copyright is broken I have one sentence for you: Steamboat Willie is still under copyright. The man has been dead a half century,and his FIRST work,one made when most cars on the road had to be started with a freaking handcrank,is STILL under copyright. That is just totally fucked up,no ifs,ands or buts about it.

              • by mollymoo (202721)

                You make it sound like nobody would pay if it was available for free. You might be right for some people, but I would.
                I'm sure there are enough people out there who would do the same.

                There doesn't have to be a legal means or anything to prevent people from copying, just a moral one.

                We already have a moral imperative to pay for stuff, but just look at how many people download music and films off the net now. That's with legal and technical barriers in addition to the moral. There is abundant evidence that re

            • Missing the Point (Score:5, Insightful)

              by mdm42 (244204) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @03:08AM (#25685891) Homepage Journal

              Actually you've completey missed Doctorow's point. (Didn't RTFA, did we? :)

              The crappy little 450x300-pixel, lossy-compressed-format, lousy audio version would be free and on the 'net. But if you enjoyed the storyline, you might well be willing to pay something to watch it on a big-screen in 7-channel. Or to buy a high-def limited-edition DVD that comes with a bunch of (physical) other stuff. Or perhaps you'd pay serious money to attend a local premier where some of the stars and technical people attend, together with dinner afterwards and a DVD-signing.

              It's not about the content. It's about the differing values that people derive from these various format. The "premier, dinner, signing" thing is about being able to say to your friends, "I was there!" (Presumably they'd be impressed by that.)

              It's about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Hal_Porter (817932)

                Fair enough, but the HD version will end up being free when someone rips it and seeds it on PirateBay too. Hence the interest in DRM by the content industry - they want to sell the 'premium' version to one person without that person republishing it to everyone for free.

            • by foobsr (693224)
              That only has a chance of working if the people who don't give money are not allowed to own the movie on whatever format they choose.

              Well, if you at the same time ensure that one does not own (i.e. pays for) part of the shit that happens in the 'real life' show this could be negotiated.

              CC.
          • That is the awesomest idea ever. I'm just trying to think of where the catch will be.......
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Telvin_3d (855514)

            Of course you and ten million other people would risk a couple dollars on the next Bourne movie. After all, other people already shouldered the real risk by making the FIRST Bourne movie. And before that otehr people shouldered the risk of publishing the book it was based on. And before that someone took the first risk by publishing Robert Ludlum's first works with no guarantee that anyone other than his mother would ever buy it.

            Real crowd sourced funding like this will never work for any media with a decen

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dwillden (521345)
              I agree with you with one exception, this concept of crowd sourced funding is how this stuff is paid for in the first place. It's called the stock market, and investors buying the stocks of the media companies they feel are likely to make them a profit, are the crowd who are financing these movies.

              The Studios aren't printing the money it costs to make these movies, they are using invested funds and the profits from prior sucesses to fund new movies. The only hard thing to understand is how this system
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Thats how movies should be financed

            ... if possible. Sure, it is possible that a Borne or Bond movie could be financed this way. Sure, if people can overcome the inevitable apathy and resist the inevitable tragedy of the commons, I could even see this becoming a stable business practice. But what about people who's tastes don't fit in the mainstream? Who's going to finance their movies?

            As a matter of fact, I can just see movies becoming like the political system today:

            a) Art becomes a matter of popular opini

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TheRaven64 (641858)
              But unlike the political system, it's not a monopoly. It doesn't matter if it is dominated by corporate interests as long as other interests can still fund themselves. How much television do you watch a week? 1% of what's produced? 0.01%? If so, why would you care if corporate interests control 80% of it?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mr_matticus (928346)

            What you're describing is a nascent movie studio.

            Once people have an investment, it's only a matter of time before profit begins to drive things, and consolidation reduces the number of shareholders to a manageable few, or alternatively explodes shareholders to the point of no longer having a non-financial interest--simply the equivalent of an IPO of the next Columbia Pictures or whoever.

            You end up right back where you started. There's nothing wrong with community financing models, but it's not a viable so

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zoeblade (600058)

          If you want to pay some people money before they make a film, so that it can be released under a creative commons license, then go ahead [aswarmofangels.com]. Such a project already exists.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jlarocco (851450)

        With copyright out of the way, it might not take $50 million to make a "blockbuster" movie.

        How do you figure? Are actors going to start working for free? Will the camera and lighting equipment stop being so expensive? Are the racks and racks of servers they use to generate the CGI going to just appear out nowhere? Are the CGI guys going to start donating their time? Are they going to magically "duplicate" the props, instead of renting or buying them?

        Without copyright they might have an easier time

        • by Gr8Apes (679165)

          If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay because it would be impossible to make money from them.

          and that's why we have the hords and hords of CDs with that noise known as classical music on them, or DVDs based off of ancient fables and stories because no one could possibly make money off of public domain works... (hint - the DVD reference is directly aimed at Disney...)

          • Don't be silly (Score:3, Informative)

            by Nick Ives (317)

            Seriously. Those recordings of classical music are copyrighted in exactly the same way as recordings of pop music are! It's only the copyright on the composition that's run out.

            You wouldn't get a symphony orchestra putting out CDs if we didn't have copyright. The only way for them to make money would be live performances which would mean they would only put out recordings insofar as they drove people to turn up at live events, it'd just be advertisements.

          • and that's why we have the hords and hords of CDs with that noise known as classical music on them, or DVDs based off of ancient fables and stories because no one could possibly make money off of public domain works... (hint - the DVD reference is directly aimed at Disney...)

            You should probably actually watch a Disney DVD or two before using them in your examples.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mprx (82435)
          Lesser known actors will work for cheap/free, cameras are getting cheaper all the time, better cameras will work with natural lighting, CPU time for rendering is dropping in price even faster than the cameras, less time is needed on CGI modeling when you can freely reuse existing models, better 3d tools are improving productivity. Real props aren't getting any cheaper, but they're usually a minor portion of the budget, and rapid fabrication systems could cut costs here in the future.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aussie_a (778472)

            Lesser known actors will work for cheap/free

            In the hope they'll get noticed and make it big.

            • by zotz (3951)

              "Lesser known actors will work for cheap/free"

              "In the hope they'll get noticed and make it big."

              Some... Some because they love what they are doing. Some for other reasons. Do you maintain that none would work for less than the big name folks do now? Or even middling name folks do now?

              That and there are other possibilities for funding.

              I am sure no one writes Free Software unless they get paid to do so... ~;-)

              all the best,

              drew

          • by jlarocco (851450)

            That's not true for a number of reasons.

            Cameras are getting cheaper in part because better, more expensive cameras are coming out. CPU time required for a given scene is dropping, but they're churning out more complex scenes with every movie. Models can be reused, but those models still need to be customized and improved for specific "roles". 3D tools are improving productivity, but the artists are being asked to produce more than ever.

            CGI is one of those areas that will always expand to fill comput

          • Yes, and all of this happens without repealing copyright laws right now.

            Many of these techniques HAVE been used to make blockbusters on a budget, the most famous of all being Star Wars of course.

            Nobody has stopped anyone from making movies like this. The question remains will anyone even try if copyrights go away.

        • by zotz (3951)

          "If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay because it would be impossible to make money from them."

          This smells of:

          "Oh that place? Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded!"

          There are places where you can buy a baseball for about $500 and a basketball for over a thousand. Seems they sell. Go figure. I don't think baseballs have copyrights on them these days.

          You are correct that all costs to make a movie will not magically go away in the absence of copyright, but to think that all/most/

          • by jlarocco (851450)

            And to think that art will not be produced in the absence of copyright also seems odd.

            Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize the film studios started making art. But I didn't say they would stop producing movies. I said they'd stop selling them on DVDs.

            And to think that the market cannot find a way to meet market demand in the absence of a government granted monopoly also seems odd. At least in the Free Market America.

            Your understanding of supply and demand sucks. If it were legal to copy a DVD and sell th

      • by kesuki (321456)

        "I don't know about you, but I'm not going to slit my wrists or shoot up a shopping mall if they suddenly stop making $50 million blockbuster movies."

        well, as long as there is a single virgin somewhere wishing on their magic fairies or guardian angels, who would slit their wrists then it doesn't matter what you would or would not do. because as we all know the price of wanting to kill a single life is $8 million dollars. actually killing a single person, costs at least $50,000,000.00 US Dollars.

        btw where

    • Re:BRAVO! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sayfawa (1099071) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:28PM (#25684923)
      You must have missed the point in time in which we stopped needing $50 million dollar passively-watch-and-let-our-brains-erode blockbusters for entertainment. Remix-Reuse-Recycle licences like Creative Commons provides far more entertainment for those of us that still have an imagination. And yes, Cory Doctorow's life work is freely available under said license.
      • by aussie_a (778472)

        Remix-Reuse-Recycle licences like Creative Commons provides far more entertainment for those of us that still have an imagination.

        Link to some decent music under such licenses? I personally like:
        * Queen
        * Bee Gees
        * Cat Stevens

        along with a few others. I don't like:
        * Metallica
        * Britney Spears
        * AC/DC
        * Whatever other rubbish people are squeezing out these days.

        Surely there is "free" (as in speech) music to suit my tastes, right? Except I've never found it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Doctorow has mentioned many times that his main problem as a writer is obscurity. Giving away his books build a fan base. At the same time, he and his publishers still make money on hardcopies of his works. A similar model is at work when AdultSwim streams its shows for free and then sells fans DVD box sets (except they would likely sue you for remixing their content). True, Doctorow and AdultSwim don't capture the value at every possible point, but they definitely get by.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kohaku (797652)
      It's impossible to make a blockbuster movie without charging for it. Not because of the reason you think, but because the definition of "blockbuster" is that the film makes more than USD$100 million.
      HTH :P
      • by zotz (3951)

        "It's impossible to make a blockbuster movie without charging for it. Not because of the reason you think, but because the definition of "blockbuster" is that the film makes more than USD$100 million."

        Nah, just redefine blockbuster...

        Let's see... 100 million divided by 5 is 20 million. So now a blockbuster can be be a movie that is seen by more then 20 million people in X amount of days...

        Even so. Why wouldn't people pay to go to a theater to see a movie even if there was no copyright on it?

        all the best,

        dre

    • by 6 (22657)

      Which is more important to you; that our culture expand into the internet and continue to grow or that $50 billion dollar blockbuster movies get made?

  • by argoff (142580) * on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:56PM (#25684731)

    The problem is that copyrights are like the guilds. For example, you can call the right to make shoes a property right, buy and sell it, make profit off of it. But on no uncertain terms it is not a property at all and in fact it is an immoral restriction on peoples liberties.

    Well the same is true with copyright. Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services. Well, lawyers are good at controling things, while creators are good at creating things.

    In fact, even when they do all these lawsuits, it's gotten to the point where they are not even trying to get copyright infringers any more. They know darn well it's unenforcable. Their only goal now is to sue guilt and intimidate people into buying overpriced content. That is why we have a moral duty to promote copying no matter what and treat it like a moral duty, not an infringement on peoples property.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Copyright exists to promote sharing, not creation. A talented song writer is much more inclined to share his creations in a world where he is able to benefit more from the sharing than others. In a world without copyright, he is quite likely to benefit a lot less than a better funded entity (at least until he manages to establish himself).

      • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:49PM (#25685043) Journal

        To be honest, an actually talented songwriter would share his creations with the world even if he wasn't able to profit off of it. It turns out that human beings had a pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years we lived before the advent of recording and copyright.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maxume (22995)

          I'll see your "pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years" and raise you a "perfect cost free reproduction for about 10 years".

          • by duguk (589689) <dug@nOSPam.frag.co.uk> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:12AM (#25685207) Homepage Journal
            I'll see that, and I raise you a "up until a short time ago, artists used to make most, if not all of their money through concerts".
          • What's the point you're trying to make, exactly?

            • by aussie_a (778472)

              That the reason music survived for thousands of years without copyright is because it was commercially viable because it was impossible to recreate it perfectly.

              Try having perfect recreation without copyright and see how viable it is then.

              At least, that's maxune's point from what I understand. I believe concerts would make music viable.

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            I'll see your "pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years" and raise you a "perfect cost free reproduction for about 10 years".

            Reality disagrees with your implication people only make music when they're getting paid to.

        • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:07AM (#25685715)
          "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

          Written by Guthrie in the late 1930s on a songbook distributed to listeners of his L.A. radio show "Woody and Lefty Lou" who wanted the words to his recordings.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            That's a license though. Guthrie could choose to release his works under that license. Metallica can choose to release theirs under a much more restrictive one. Copyright laws give the content owners that choice. And you'll notice I didn't say artists, because the artists sold the rights to a record company.

            Now if you remove copyright, that all breaks down. The record companies can publish the artists work and not pay them a dime, the artists would have no legal comeback. Hell Chinese CD factories already m

        • Because before the advent of recording and copyright, the rich musical culture was a result of people investing their time and labor in becoming musicians, and in learning and performing pieces. Since not everyone had the time or resources to become a musician, there was value in it, because the musician had something you couldn't do for yourself.

          With recordings, anyone can enjoy the benefit of a musician at any time, with a minimal investment. The floor dropped out. If someone could wait at your job unt

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by kesuki (321456)

        "Copyright exists to promote sharing, not creation."

        copyright exists to prop up an unsustainable way of living, that is far from ideal. In a sustainable system, the tree of knowledge grows and teaches you simply by settling in for a nap underneath the tree. the tree of immortality, now that is a different question. immortality leads to a race of extremely bored and listless beings who even have given up on reproducing.

        while knowledge is meant to be shared, immortality is an atrocious bug.

        original sin was

    • by Gr8Apes (679165)

      you are definitely being unreasonable. While I don't agree at all with the *AA's stances on copyright, I don't agree with no copyright. I do believe the founders of the US Constitution had it right when they stated that copyright should be for a limited time. 50+ years is not limited for most adult life spans.

      • Do you have any basis for your position, or is it just a "gut feeling" based on a feeling that the right answer must be a compromise between the "two extremes"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services.

      The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?

      The kind of talking point you use is the same kind given by pro-P2P people. They repeat such statements often, despite the fact that copying & P2P in themselves are among the least cre

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drsmithy (35869)

        The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?

        Arguably, a modification of "someone else's work" _is_ "making your own", and can be just as creative as the original.

        Besides, it's not like most "original" works really are - only 7 different story plots, limited number of "nice" sound combinations, etc.

      • by zotz (3951)

        "The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?"

        OK, then let's run with that for a bit...

        From now on, and retroactively, no work is entitled to copyright if it builds in any way on previous works. That should go a long way to clearing up these problems we are discussing.

        all the best,

        drew

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well the same is true with copyright. Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services.

      Exactly what is your data to back up this claim?

      Moreover, why is "creation services" what we want to encourage? Do we really want to dismiss the value of creating new compositions - as currently encouraged by sales of copyrighted material - and instead encourage bands to play lots of shows with covers? It's already a lot eas

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aussie_a (778472)

      If we had a world without copyright, then you could say goodbye to mass media as we know it. All the book companies would dry up tomorrow. As would the music studios and the movie companies.

      Instead we'd live in a world where content is created and paid for:
      * by the creators who do it because they love it. E.g. Star Trek: New Voyages. [startreknewvoyages.com]
      * Those who refuse to create unless paid up front through donations. E.g. The Guild [watchtheguild.com]
      * People who use their creation as an advertisement for hard to reproduce goods such as t-shir

      • * by the creators who do it because they love it. E.g. Star Trek: New Voyages. [startreknewvoyages.com]

        You...do realize that that completely fucking sucks, right? If that's one of your examples, you are in serious trouble.

        • by aussie_a (778472)

          Yes I do realize the quality is pretty bad. I'm not saying its a good thing, I'm saying its what the world will be like if we abolish copyright.

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Instead we'd live in a world where content is created and paid for:

        * Different financing models, eg: product placement, ads inserted at the distribution point, etc.

        *Profits* might decrease (or, more accurately, be differently distributed). But the idea that no money whatsoever could be made in the absence of copyright, is just silly.

        • by aussie_a (778472)

          The only one of those two that would work is product placement. Without copyright anyone can be a distribution point and so the creator gets no money from them.

      • by Locklin (1074657) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @09:19AM (#25686949) Homepage

        In such a world only a very few would be able to afford to live off the fruits of their labour.

        That's how it is now. The vast majorities of artists in any discipline don't survive off their art. In your example, I would argue that more people would be able to earn money from their art (more live performers), there would simply be far fewer people made rich from their art.

        • by aussie_a (778472)

          more people would be able to earn money from their art (more live performers)

          Its possible. However only one art medium (theatre) would profit while for many (book authors, comic creators, movie producers, television creators) there would be even less who can live on the fruits of their labour.

          I don't know that the trade off is worth it.

      • by zotz (3951)

        "If we had a world without copyright, then you could say goodbye to mass media as we know it. All the book companies would dry up tomorrow. As would the music studios and the movie companies."

        Since you put in the "as we know it" you may be right, but many of us have serious problems with the "as we know it" bit and are trying to make a change in the business as usual part of things.

        That said, supposedly the reason publishers need copyright is to prevent the making of cheaper copies...

        all the best,

        drew

    • I see that laws need to rewritten when technology/society comes to a case where it very possible for people to accidentally violate the current laws. People who try to live and follow a lawful life shouldn't worry about having to keep up with a word for work knowledge in all the laws.

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:06PM (#25684777)

    Richard Stallman announces he would prefer that firms release all their code under the GPL or one of its variants.

    • by kesuki (321456)

      no no, he switched to the BSD license model, so that hackers would know how to hack into every computer on the earth all with one single program.

  • frustrating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:41PM (#25684991) Homepage Journal

    for me, the most frustrating part of the whole copyright law vs. culture thing is how the big guys calling the shots always say that they are doing this 'for the artists'.

    well, i am an artist, and copyright law isn't helping me, it's getting in my way.

    there have been many times when I've had to work around it. yes, i can usually do *almost* what i originally wanted to do, but a lot of my time is wasted researching laws, re-recording, writing new material, re-shooting things, covering up certain parts, etc.
    Not only does this water down what i originally wanted to say, but it also wastes valuable time that i should be using to make my next piece (or post on /.)

    copyright should not be abolished, there are legitimate uses for it, like stopping subway station vendors selling burnt CD's and DVD's for $2 a pop, but we need a sudden outbreak of common sense to be injected into this debate immediately.

    non-commercial infringement should never be a crime.
    re-appropriation should always be fair use. permission should not be required.

    i believe that if the 'creative commons attribution share-alike non-commercial' was the default license that creative works would be released under; and people had to register for 'copyright, all rights reserved', we would all be much better off.

    • The minute it's "non-commercial", you certainly can't re-use it in your work - at least not if you intend to make a living from it.

    • by zotz (3951)

      "i believe that if the 'creative commons attribution share-alike non-commercial' was the default license that creative works would be released under; and people had to register for 'copyright, all rights reserved', we would all be much better off."

      It would need to be 'creative commons attribution share-alike' or there would be very little change from what we have today. The NC you suggest would bring back the need for permission.

      But I think you are looking at interesting angles. See:

      http://zotzbro.blogspot. [blogspot.com]

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:42PM (#25685003) Journal

    To pretend that you do not copy is to adopt the twisted hypocrisy of the Victorians who swore that they never, ever masturbated.

    He's earned that cape.

  • Simple Cause (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:44PM (#25685013) Homepage Journal

    it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement.

    If voters had a chance to vote on such, the penalties would be much shallower. There are three reasons they are so high: Lobbyists Lobbyists Lobbyists. Biz has too much influence over our politics and I hope the new administration does something about it. We risk not being classified as a democracy.

  • indeed, copying used to be for only a few large corporate players, in any media. copyright laws are merely polite gentleman agreements between major players. but the internet has entirely upended this by making everyone with a broadband connection the legal equivalent of bertelsmann, fox news corp, and time warner circa 1988. with a greater global reach and pretty much equivalent publishing capacity. and what used to be decided in terms of publishing outlays and release dates at the golf club over a cigar a

  • Take a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity.
    .

    Your office door exposes the clip to a casual glance by perhaps twenty-five people. There are no limits to re-distribution through your web site.

    And let's be honest here. It isn't the photo of your office door t

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:31AM (#25685317)

      Other laws make all sorts of distinctions based on motives and other conditionals. Often, it's conditionals just like the distinction you are drawing that matter.
              The FBI for example, becomes involved in kidnappings of victims defined as 'of tender age' (usually 12 and under). Many people believe the Lindberg law requires a ransom be sought, or that the victim be transported across state lines. Instead, the law lets the FBI start gathering evidence without either condition, just in case there's a federal crime, and the agency is looking for motives such as ransom or interstate movement for immoral purposes. Some of these motives may make a given kidnapping a federal crime. But, if the FBI doesn't find evidence to support a federal crime, they are supposed to pass the case back to the state agencies, and just provide lab services, database help and such on request.
              Shouldn't copyright laws do something along these lines - make a distinction between organized crime and individual violators, violation for profit and violation for ego-boost? It's not only penalties that don't seem to reflect these distinctions, it's also a question of which agencies become involved. And there are other results that would be affected by making the right distinctions, such as limiting how much taxpayer money should support the forensic processes in trivial cases. That's all what doesn't seem to be happening anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      It is pure ego. Nothing more.

      yes it, is. But not in any way like you claim.

      It is about the ego boost someone gets by sharing something cool with other people, the sharer gets praised for finding and promoting something of value to others. That ego boost is human nature that every single person on the planet has and unlike almost every other real crime - like murder, theft, rape, etc.

      That commonality of sharing is Doctrow's point - not that sharing on the internet is massive scale versus sharing in one-to-one contacts. It isn't the s

    • And let's be honest here. It isn't the photo of your office door that gets posted to the web. It's a high-res scan of the strip itself.

      I'm surprised that the case of Dilbert in particular is being cited here. It's not as if you can't get every strip back to 1991 from the website [dilbert.com].

  • Live by the sword... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:30AM (#25685311) Homepage
    It's a laughable thing that movie studios spend their entire (large) advertising budget making people want to see their movie and then complain when some use any means necessary to see aforementioned movie.

    These people aren't criminals. These are people responding to marketing. Marketing that emphasises seeing the movie. Many times I have seen very successful marketing centering on supporting the artist and experiencing the art.

    I'm not saying that big movie studios can necessarily use that approach, what I am saying is that is that the blame should not be placed solely on the individuals engaged in bypassing copyright. People are essentially indulging themselves in something you made them desire.

    Think of it this way. If I embark on a campaign to have people drive by one specific road to a remote town outside their city, emphasizing excitement at the end of that journey, should I be surprised when the speed limit is broken by some, some take different, easier routes, some fly to the town and some stow away in cars that only legally hold a certain number of people. No. I shouldn't be surprised. Are any of these people really criminals? Doubtful.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      So when DeBeers advertises diamonds it's ok to go out and pull off a diamond heist? I never thought of it that way.

      • by Draek (916851)

        So when DeBeers advertises diamonds it's ok to go out and pull off a diamond heist?

        Probably not, but a closer analogy would be if you instead went to your basement, started pouring tequila into your imported mexican machine, then used the resulting diamonds to build a ring identical to the one advertised in the DeBeers ad. Do you think you should be sued for that?

    • by zotz (3951)

      The music industry also falls into this trap.

      They promote rebellion and the breaking of rules. But respect my copyright!

      all the best,

      drew

  • Totally agreed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ravenscroftj (1038040)
    This is brilliance! I hope this picks up alot of coverage too! I have lots of beliefs about this subject area but couldn't summarize them in a comment so there's my post: http://james-ravenscroft.com/2008/11/08/the-copyfight-response-to-cory-doctorow/ [james-ravenscroft.com]

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