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Czech Copyright Bill Undercuts Copyleft, Artists 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the czech-please dept.
Andorin writes "Earlier this month a copy of a draft of the Czech Republic's new Copyright Act [Czech PDF] was leaked to Pirate News. Included among several disturbing provisions are new regulations for 'public licenses' such as Creative Commons licenses and the GPL/BSD licenses. The amendment essentially requires that an artist wishing to use a public license must notify the administrator of a collecting agency, and must prove that they created the work in question. This goes against one of the strengths of Creative Commons and other licenses, namely the ease with which they can be applied. Additionally, collecting agencies will have increased jurisdiction over copylefted and orphaned works. ZeroPaid covers the story, noting that the amendment also reduces the royalties which artists receive from libraries by 40%, with that money instead going directly to publishers."
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Czech Copyright Bill Undercuts Copyleft, Artists

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  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:19AM (#33392266)
    Won't somebody please think of the artists?

    Isn't that the rallying cry of the copyright cartels?...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by idontgno (624372)

      Sure. The media pigopolists are thinking of the artists. Specifically, how to get more money out of their hands and into the publishing interest's own.

      This kind of legalized extortion isn't reflexive, you know. It takes a fair bit of thinking, plus the scruples of a stoat, to invoke the cause of your own victim in support of your victimization.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:16PM (#33393790)

        Translated more simply:

        If you have the money like the MafiAA does, you TOO can buy incredibly asstarded laws to protect your illegal monopoly price-gouging and put those uppity little "artists" back in their rightful slave-labor places in shitty little countries like the Czech... or UK... or USA...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't that the rallying cry of the copyright cartels?...

      Well of course. The rules of this game are simple and obvious: 1) Maximize profits 2) justify your means after the fact.

      Win the hearts by saying "we protect the little guy" while simultaneously taking for yourself all the value generated by the little guy, and keeping him indentured to you indefinitely. This is nothing new or secret. It happens in plain view of the public all the time.

      The public doesn't like to bother checking facts and buys the cor

  • Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rantomaniac (1876228) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:23AM (#33392302)

    I'm stunned. This has to be the most brutal attack on the idea of free culture to date. We're all accustomed to copyright being made more strict, but actively making it harder to release your works under permissive licensing is a new low.
    It's like the copyright lobbyists didn't care about keeping a low profile anymore and shouted "we own your government" from the rooftops.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It costs more money to hide what they're doing and achieve their goals in secret.
      They just realized theres no point in hiding it any more.

      Its not like the reality tv addicted people of generation-emo will do anything anyway.

    • Re:S peechless (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Standard issue in the dysfunctional state of Czechs (according to Wikipedia, of turkic origins, not slavs). Highest prices of every day items in the EU, highest prices of communication services in the EU, highest prices of energy & fuels in the EU. Country ruled by economic mafia for good 20 years, whose biggest thieft and a man with obvious blood on his hands, callous Kalousek, has been voted by Brussel's byrocrats as "the best finance minister in EU." That's not a spit in the eye, that's kung-fu kick

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eleuthero (812560)
        While the above is probably rightly marked flamebait, there is a truth hidden in the midst of it. Czech policies on some level have been causing massive migration of Romi to France and Italy, sparking off the recent debate over who's allowed to be in what country (despite fairly broad travel agreements under EU treaty).
        • by yumyum (168683)

          While the above is probably rightly marked flamebait, there is a truth hidden in the midst of it. Czech policies on some level have been causing massive migration of Romi to France and Italy, sparking off the recent debate over who's allowed to be in what country (despite fairly broad travel agreements under EU treaty).

          I believe the issue with the Romi is not the right to travel to France and Italy, but the right to stay there. Similar to the U.S. and people staying here beyond their visa limits.

    • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:41AM (#33392532) Homepage

      It would be interresting if the same laws were to be applied to all copyright licenses. Want to publishing something closed source? "notify the administrator of a collecting agency, and must prove that they created the work in question".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      I'm stunned. This has to be the most brutal attack on the idea of free culture to date.

      Er, more like the most brutal (and direct) attack in recent times, or most brutal attack from the copyright lobby sure... I mean, when it was Czechoslovakia and under the Soviets, I think free culture took a worse beating.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      I'm surprised that it took this long, actually. Charity was only legal in the first place because there was no way for charities to significantly compete with for-profit businesses as long as we were talking about goods and services. Data is any entirely different matter, thanks to the negligible cost of duplication and distribution.

      If you think large businesses are going to tolerate kindness and generosity when it cuts into their bottom lines, you are in for a long series of rude shocks. Abundance is bad f

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      I hopre some people are busy creating art generators with automatic filled out forms to apply to the agency and bury them in it.

    • The idea of verifying that the media under free licences is actually free is not such a bad idea. It does, as the summary says, cut into one of the strengths of copyleft licences, but on the other hand, it also strengthens the trust in such a licence. I think (IANAL) that at least part of the burden lies with the consumer to confirm that the work they're licensing is actually licensed that way, so the obvious benefit of this system is that we can look at the license, and say with a greater degree of confide

  • I admit I was furious on property/creative rights grounds at first, but then it struck me that enforcement of copyleft could become extremely difficult at some point for the government. The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a CC license on it and you had every right to do that. As people reuse it and modify it, if it goes to trial, the government has to hunt down the entire chain back to the original content in order to respect due process rights.

    Their sol

    • by rantomaniac (1876228) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:31AM (#33392406)

      I don't see how it's fair to demand registration of copyleft and not other copyrighted works. Enforcement of copyright is (and should remain) a private not criminal matter, the government doesn't have to hunt anyone down. I imagine the authors of the work will show up in court if they file infrigement charges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        Personally, I'm for everyone regardless of license being required to register. If the copyright office can't find the rights holder, then the work should be public domain. Not having a registration requirement makes the "orphaned works" problem much worse.

        • by jimrthy (893116) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:28AM (#33393154) Homepage Journal

          I think there are a lot of details you're probably missing. I'm going from the perspective of American copyright, so it doesn't directly apply. Still, the international laws tend to be fairly similar.

          I know I should have used a car analogy. I'm sorry.

          Let's say I'm some no-name wanna-be who wrote a song, had my no-name band record a demo, and submitted that demo to a record label (no, this isn't the way it generally works in real life). There are 3 different copyrights involved right there. Even if it's only $30 to register those copyrights to keep the labels from stealing the songs...for many "starving artists," that's a week's worth of food.

          The situation's probably even worse for an author trying to get a story published. He's almost definitely going to submit several different versions of several different stories before one gets accepted. If s/he has to register for copyrights on each version, s/he'll wind up shelling out more in copyright fees than comes back in royalties until/unless s/he manages to write enough hits to support him/herself and the family. Who's going to stick with it that long?

          The situation gets *really* bad when you get into situations like GPL. Do you have to register each "official" release? What happens when someone tries to register a fork? What if you decide to license the next version of your work as BSD?

          Come to think of it, this could have been aimed directly against free software, with Creative Commons just a nice little bit of collateral damage.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Even if it's only $30 to register those copyrights to keep the labels from stealing the songs...for many "starving artists," that's a week's worth of food.

            Why should registration have a fee? It could (and I think these days is, I haven't registered a copyright since 1984) be an online form that's automated. You would need no manpower to impliment it except when there was a fight over ownership of copyright.

            The situation gets *really* bad when you get into situations like GPL. Do you have to register each "o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2obvious4u (871996)
      Better solution, get rid of copyright entirely. Society is producing content at to fast a clip for it to be necessary any more. You produce a work and by the end of the week someone has already produced a derivative work. All this copyright stuff does is slow down progress.

      If you are worried about how content creators get paid then you haven't thought about it long enough. Content as a service, that is the new model. If you can't sell your content as a service to customers or businesses then the othe
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833)
        The problem with that naive view is that removing copyright really does remove the incentive to create and gives every incentive to copy. I don't see how it does not. If everyone can copy and sell, r give for free and sell advertising or profit in another way from distributing a book, software program or a movie, the we have a race in marketing instead of a race in creativity. The creator of the work becomes the most disadvantaged party because he is the only one who has to recoup the cost of creating the w
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Shoe Puppet (1557239)

          A few weeks ago, I read an article about the lack of copyright in Germany in the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Compared to England - where copyright had been introduced a long time ago - there were significantly more books available at cheaper prices. The authors were paid better, too.

          Here it is:
          Google Translation [googleusercontent.com] / Original German [spiegel.de]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          That assumes that 18th century psychology about the incredibly complex dynamics of motivation for creative activity was accurate, with a fair amount of evidence suggesting otherwise, such as the following article. http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,709761,00.html [spiegel.de] Also, if we reasonably suggest the abolition of copyright and actually get someone to listen, the legislators might pick a happy medium such as a reasonably short term and expansive fair use
        • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:34PM (#33394038) Homepage Journal

          Except that the actual truth is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum.

          Fashion industry [nytimes.com] shows how profitable it is [ssrn.com], especially compared to most other industries, and in Fashion industry there are no copyrights or patents. Sure there are trademarks, but no copyrights or patents at all, and they are highly creative and profitable, thus proving your position inconsistent with reality.

          • by bmcage (785177)
            If a fashion 'artist' creates a new type of cloth, he can patent that just fine. There only is no good protection for a type of shirt. They can protect it, but changing the color a couple of percent is already a new work. The clothing industry does take it's part on patents on products, knit types, ..... At least, the company I know takes European patents for new fibers they turn into finished product.
        • by devent (1627873)

          The best example of the lack of copyright is the fashion industry. There is no copyright. Everything you can see on the street or in the store you can copy free and sell it. But are we lacking of fashion? Hell no, the fashion industry is the most creative industry and there are no shortcomings of profits either. Don't believe me: http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html [ted.com]

          Only 5% of all book authors and musicians are actually making money off of copyright. At least 95%

          • Fashion would be a good comparison if you could put an Armani jacket in a computer and print out 1,000,000 exact copies of it for free. Since that is not true, the comparison of an industry where, even though you can copy the "style" of the clothes, you still need a damn factory and a lot of investment (and still cannot copy the all important label), to say a kid putting a movie which cost $100 million to make onto the internet and making it instantly available to the whole world for free is completely bogu
            • A rather large share of movies make their budget back while still in theaters (which could be handled under contract or possibly even funded by movie theaters. They make their actual income selling you popcorn and candy, after all), and there's a lot of fat to cut from the salary by paying A-list actors less. The models would have to change absent of copyright, but that doesn't mean we couldn't adjust or even that the new model wouldn't be better than the old one.
            • by Locke2005 (849178)
              What kind of live shows can Adobe do to recoup the millions it pays developers if the software itself becomes free? Right, because if GNU/Linux has proven anything, it is that nobody will write software unless you pay them millions of dollars! Viable business models change; the solution is not to rewrite the laws to prop up the old industries that refuse to change their business model. Copyright has only been around for about the last 200 years... are you insisting that nobody wrote any good books or music
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        So let's say you write a novel or a symphony. That's a lot of work. Without copyright at all, anybody can take what you wrote, do the equivalent of photocopying it, and make a big pile of cash off of your work without paying you a dime. The ways anything artistic gets created in a world without copyright are patronage systems (e.g. writers and poets in the service of a monarch), folk art (generally not written down until the 18th century or so), or hobbyists (often nobility) who have the spare time to write

        • Not in the internet age they can't. Do you not read aggregaters like digg? If you post something that isn't yours the internet community busts your ass for it quick and then points people to the original source. Notoriety from what you create should be enforced and people should feel morally compelled to support original artists, but copyright which places fines on user level infringer's isn't right either. Business level infringement is a different story and could possibly still be kept and enforced.
        • actually, copyright was originally created to protect the king and church from heretical or dissenting works, then to support a printer's monopoly established by the former purpose, then to promote the publishing of works for the sake of public education. Any benefits to authors in this chain of events is purely a side effect.
      • Copyright still serves a purpose in our society. Let's say I produce a great book, something along the lines of the next Harry Potter. Should a movie studio be able to just take my book and make it into a movie without my permission? Of course not. I should be able to sell the movie rights to whichever studio I wish (or no studio at all).

        Of course, the lengths that copyright lasts for these days are ridiculous also. It's very unlikely that my hypothetical "hot new book" will be making me anything but t

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        You may be moderated as a Flamebait for this comment [slashdot.org].

        What's funny is just how sane the position [slashdot.org] is and how it receives wide range of responses.

        Yes, copyrights and patents need to be abolished.

      • Better solution, get rid of copyright entirely. Society is producing content at to fast a clip for it to be necessary any more. You produce a work and by the end of the week someone has already produced a derivative work. All this copyright stuff does is slow down progress.

        To see why this is too good to be true, try actually restricting yourself freely distributed media, and derivative works thereon. The rapid influx of new works belies the creative stagnation behind them. By the time you've watched the 5th

    • copyleft is simple (Score:4, Insightful)

      by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:45AM (#33392574) Homepage Journal

      Or treat copyleft as a license, a form of contract. And settle disputes in a court, presenting evidence that the license was applied to an original creation. Which is how it manages to survive in the rest of Europe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Government exists to serve the interests of the people ... not vice versa.
      • by thijsh (910751)
        Technically they do, they always by definition serve the interests of *some* people. In theory this would be the >50% that elected them (note: also never 100%), but in reality it's mostly a small subset unrelated to the democratic process. This is for example why you have lobbyists giving equally large amounts of money to both candidates. This is not because they try to help the democratic process (election) take place, but to insure their demands are met easier than the demands of others *no matter who
    • Why is it complicated that you create content with a CC license but not complicated that you can basically create anything? How is it more difficult for a CC licensed work of art to trace than for any other newly created work? If complication is an issue, maybe people should not be able to create anything at all! Oh wait, that is exactly the direction we are going...
    • by Galestar (1473827)

      enforcement of copyleft could become extremely difficult at some point for the government. The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a CC license on it and you had every right to do that.

      How is that ANY different from proprietary copyright?? I will rewrite that for you:

      enforcement of copyright could become extremely difficult at some point for the government. The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a proprietary license on it and you had every right to do that.

      In fact, proprietary makes it HARDER to enforce since no-one can see the code and say "Hey! I wrote that! You stole it!"

      Also, since when does the government enforce copyleft? Enforcement is a civil matter that is left up to the rights-holders.
      Mods, please tell me again why this ignorant comment is modded up?

    • by eleuthero (812560)
      This would seem to sadly indicate that the Czech republic will no longer accept sealed posted mail as proof of creation prior to another (even with your solution). Though, to be honest, I don't know if the "poor man's copyright" ever actually has held up.
    • Their solution is wrong. The easiest way to solve it would be to pass a law which requires Copyleft to be stated, in writing in a copyright office application.

      Easiest for that government, perhaps, but quite frankly I don't give a rat's ass. The Berne Convention says that everything I write, including this post, is copyright to me - automatically. I can't imagine a single legitimate reason why I should have to specifically register my writings in order to distribute them with a Copyleft license, when I have to do no such thing to distribute them with a proprietary license.

      Your suggested handling of proprietary licences: "Hey, MikeRT! I wrote this. Want to read it?

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a CC license on it and you had every right to do that.

      And why not? Unless there is evidence to the contrary, I think there is no problem believing such claims. Putting the burden of proof on the creator stifles creativity. Do I have to take a photo of me in front of my PC to prove that I wrote this comment?

    • Reality Czech (Score:3, Insightful)

      by abulafia (7826)

      The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a CC license on it and you had every right to do that. As people reuse it and modify it, if it goes to trial, the government has to hunt down the entire chain back to the original content in order to respect due process rights.

      Try this:

      "The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a proprietary license on it and you had every right to do that. As people reuse it and modify it, if it goes to trial, the government has to hunt down the entire chain back to the original content in order to respect due process rights."

      In other words, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that intellectual property rights in general are not bought and sold and pass through tons of hands. Witness the e

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:30AM (#33392392)

    Currently the Czech law requires you to pay royalties to collecting agencies regardless of the fact that you are not a member of any such agency and therefore will never get any money of them back.
    It doesn't matter that you are only playing music composed by you, you are still obliged to pay.

    • Why the fuck was this modded funny?
    • by eleuthero (812560)
      How does one get to be a collection agency in the Czech republic? Would the registration fee for the government for such an agency be cheaper in the long run for a group of like-minded individuals committed to open work?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by next_ghost (1868792)
        The short answer: You don't. The long answer: The law states that there can by only one collecting agency registered for each area of culture at any given time. Since most of what can be registered already is registered, we're out of luck here.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      Currently the Czech law requires you to pay royalties to collecting agencies regardless of the fact that you are not a member of any such agency and therefore will never get any money of them back.
      It doesn't matter that you are only playing music composed by you, you are still obliged to pay.

      And how is this any different from, say, ASCAP, who demands that you pay a license fee because you potentially could [techdirt.com] sing songs to which they have grabbed the rights.

  • Still just a draft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep (913892) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:36AM (#33392476)
    Although I feel as many others do, that this has obscenely nefarious elements, my indignation is slightly lessened when I remember this is still only a draft. Who here knows about Czech law that can enlighten us on the likelihood of this becoming real/passed/enforced?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487)
      "Who here knows about Czech law that can enlighten us on the likelihood of this becoming real/passed/enforced?"

      Depends on who ponies up the cash to pay off the right people. The Czech Republic has some of the highest rates of corruption in the OECD according to wikipedia. Take it with a grain of salt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Czech minister of culture denied that the text is not actually authentic in recent interview (http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/210411058080819-hyde-park-ct24/) on CT24 (state-run news channel). He also promised that if there was such a law in the making, there would be a wide public discussion about it.

      My opinion is he's being dishonest at best. Consider this: when the Czech Pirate Party asked the Czech Ministry of Culture for the draft, the ministry flatly refused to given them any information. No

  • Waiting... (Score:5, Funny)

    by retech (1228598) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:41AM (#33392540)
    I'm waiting to form an opinion until Cory Doctorow posts some long winded treatise on Boing Boing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:45AM (#33392586)

    Isn't this a violation of the Berne Convention?

    According to Wikipedia:

    Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. Foreign authors are given the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that signed the Convention.

    • by erikdalen (99500)

      Exactly what I was wondering, is Czech Republic leaving WTO?

    • by jdgeorge (18767) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33392764)

      Appears that is correct; this draft is not compatible with the Berne Convention.

      Of course, it is only a leaked draft, not even a public document, so it has likely not been subjected to normal sanity checks, or by normal, sane Czechs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by next_ghost (1868792)
      No, it's not. The registration is required in order to prevent the collecting societies from collecting royalties on your behalf. Since collecting societies have a monopoly, they don't need any contract to collect royalties. This doesn't affect the existence of your copyright, only what you can do with it.
      • The registration is required in order to prevent the collecting societies from collecting royalties on your behalf.

        Thank you for the explanation; that's quite different from what the EDRI-gram and Slashdot articles make it look like, and actually similar to what we have in a few other countries (maybe someone can mod you informative). Then the points I made in my earlier comment below become irrelevant in this case.

        I'm opposed to the system of collecting societies too, but I'm also living with it, and I don't see that it makes much of a difference with respect to the creation and distribution of publicly licensed works.

    • Indeed it seems so, and the draft creates confusion with respect to the rights of foreign authors. From the EDRI-gram article:

      It imposes the obligation to notify collecting societies on authors each time they decide to publish their works outside the strict copyright framework.

      Leaving the issue of what "the strict copyright framework" actually covers aside, the draft appearantly imposes this obligation on "authors" rather than "distributors", meaning that a foreign author can technically be subject to Czec

    • According to Wikipedia, the Czech Republic is a party to the Berne Convention [wikipedia.org]. So it's possible the courts could stop this.

  • How do I prove that I created something? When I write something in Wikipedia, do I have to notify the Czech authorities of every update?

  • The article was written in Czech for Czech readers so it doesn't say some facts about Czech copyright law that may not be obvious to foreigners. First, Czech collecting societies have complete monopoly over their culture area once they register. The law also states that collecting societies don't need any contract for collecting royalties from TV, radio and their Internet equivalents. That means that if you start an Internet radio, you have to pay royalties even for most CC-licensed music. The registration
  • by lexidation (1825996) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:00PM (#33393574)
    Take it from someone inside the Czech Republic. The reason: this is still not a full democracy in the Western sense. Corruption is still rampant. And that extends all the way up to Parliament. If you think lobbyists in your country have power over legislators -- try living in this place. Translation: if anyone with an interest in destroying copyleft has enough money or interesting favours to pass to the politicians, the bill gets passed. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, like one of our recent ones, may well turn up standing on a beach in Italy somewhere with a boner. Will the Czech people do anything to protest? Even the ones who understand this issue will not. After fifty years of the old regime, no one feels any power to stop what the politicians do. This is precisely the dynamic they take advantage of to pass things like this. It is the perfect location to set this kind of precedent.
    • The reason: this is still not a full democracy in the Western sense. Corruption is still rampant.

      Come visit California. I'll bet our political filth creatures, blindfolded and hogtied, can out corrupt yours. I'll even spot your side $20 million in mysteriously missing funds.

      One of our state politicians tried to get government buildings designed by the "rules" of Fung Shui. You cannot top that!

  • Reading GNU's page on copyleft [gnu.org], it appears to me that copyleft isn't a copyright thing at all, it's a license thing. That is to say, copyleft is a procedure that is applied to a copyrighted work and implemented in the license:

    To copyleft a program, we first state that it is copyrighted; then we add distribution terms...In the GNU Project, the specific distribution terms that we use for most software are contained in the GNU General Public License...

    So my question would be, if the copyright is still in force

  • by Atrox666 (957601) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:12PM (#33395410)

    No rights are granted to the Czech republic or those within its borders.
    Sue the fuckers every time someone uses a piece of Linux software or some clip art.
    If you don't want to play nice then you don't get to play at all.

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