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White House Responds To SOPA, PIPA, and OPEN 517

Posted by Soulskill
from the clogging-a-series-of-tubes dept.
eefsee writes "The White House today responded to two petitions with a statement titled 'Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet.' They note that 'We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.' In particular, they cite manipulation of DNS as problematic. But overall the statement is clearly supportive of anti-piracy efforts and lays down this challenge: 'So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don't limit your opinion to what's the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what's right.' So, what's right?"
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White House Responds To SOPA, PIPA, and OPEN

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  • Protecting rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:46PM (#38699770)

    But overall the statement is clearly supportive of anti-piracy efforts...

    There's nothing wrong with being supportive of anti-piracy efforts. People deserve to get paid for their work. Those efforts, however, shouldn't undermine technological infrastructure. The White House's statement is overall a condemnation of the legislation, but it does allow leeway for Obama to sign an amended bill that addresses the most pressing concerns.

    Given past positions, it will be interesting to see how Slashdotters respond to the question in the submission. Allow me to quote from a recent comment in a GPL discussion:

    It annoys the minority of businesses who feel entitled to the free labor of strangers and don't want to give anything back. You see, some people are childish and the most visible mark of childishness is a sense of entitlement. This causes them to feel somehow cheated if you place a few conditions on code that is otherwise free, that no one is forcing them to use if the conditions don't suit them.

    The comment was modded up. When it's a case of a GPL violation, the violators who feel entitled to the free labor of strangers are childish and entitled. But in an article on the Pirate Bay, suddenly it's all about demonizing the evil RIAA and MPAA, and piracy is just a cultural revolution that sticks it to the evil corporations--the artists who aren't getting paid don't even enter into the discussion, probably because of the guilty feelings it would inspire to be reminded of the reality of the situation.

    The point being that there probably should be an attempt made to hinder online piracy in some way. We can't just let it spiral completely out of control, to the point where it's no longer lucrative to produce anything. Part of the reason the console platform became so appealing to game developers is the reduced amount of piracy compared to the PC platform. In other words, they can actually make money from their work, money that is used to make more games. You can't have a functioning long-term economy in which people never get compensated for anything; people are trying to make a living, and they use the income to produce more contributions to society. If your boss withheld your paycheck and told you that the code you wrote is now theirs free of charge because "information wants to be free," you'd sue for the wages and win. But if the code you wrote is included in a game, and the game appears on Pirate Bay, downloaders will happily pirate it and never even dream of spending a time, and they'll justify it until they're red in the face.

    The most common one they use is that it's "free advertising"--that pirating games leads them to purchase games. Correlation doesn't equal causation, however, and the fact they buy games as well as pirate them simply suggests that they like games so much that they acquire them by any means possible, and when they can't pirate, they buy. Either that, or they buy to resolve their feelings of guilt. When Louis CK offered his video for download [slashdot.org], he made an interesting comment in an NPR interview [npr.org]:

    "And a friend of mine who does torrent stuff a lot says that when torrent users do buy something, they act like they're doing the greatest thing ever. ... They're saying, 'I bought something today. I paid for it. And I didn't steal it. I'm the greatest person alive.' "

    I've noticed this attitude as well. It's very, very annoying.

    I'm probably risking a lot of downmods here--if there's anything Slashdot seems to dislike more than comments about Slashdot, it's comments that are anti-piracy. But I have karma to burn, and I felt like starting the conversation anyway.

  • Not enough. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pclinger (114364) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:49PM (#38699804) Homepage Journal

    This simply is not enough. From what it sounds like, they'll sign the bill as long as the DNS portion is removed. This will still kill many user-generated content websites on the Internet.

  • by Brain-Fu (1274756) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:53PM (#38699840) Homepage Journal

    If the economy depends on the imposition of artificial scarcity on an abundant good, then the terms have to be reasonable.

    20 year copyright term limits are very reasonable. The current term limits + options to extend are absolutely unreasonable, and they drive people to rebellion.

    Also, while it is true that a punishment should be a deterrent to crime, the punishment must also be within the order-of-magnitude of actual damages in order to be just. The current punishments are outright ridiculous, and they also drive people to rebellion.

    Make fair laws and enforce them fairly, and watch the people happily fall in line.

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:55PM (#38699856)

    When it's a case of a GPL violation, the violators who feel entitled to the free labor of strangers are childish and entitled.

    The reason for the existence of copyright owners is to increase the pool of work available to the public (see; e.g. the US constitution [wikipedia.org]). Copyright exists because it is believed that without it people would create fewer works and that would limit the benefit to the public. GPL authors are directly, though their license, putting out works which the public can use for free and with no usage restriction and copying and distribution restrictions limited only to a lack of restriction. You cannot make a direct comparison.

  • by darpified (698235) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:59PM (#38699884)

    Part of the reason the console platform became so appealing to game developers is the reduced amount of piracy compared to the PC platform. In other words, they can actually make money from their work, money that is used to make more games

    So EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc... Never made any money off of PC games so far? Not that I condone or give a shit either way as far as piracy is concerned, I do give a shit when half-cocked laws created by corporations and their pet politicians are enacted that are to the detriment of the nation. Sure online piracy is bad and could possibly hurt the profit margins of these companies, but this law is so far on the other side of sanity that it's obscene. The middle ground is where it needs to be, but that point was crossed long ago, back before Mickey Mouse (and the associated copyrights,trademarks, yada-yada) became effectively permanent.

  • Looking grim. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:03PM (#38699908)

    So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here?

    I really don't understand why further regulation is needed here to protect the rights of the content owners. Are there not copyright laws in effect? Don't they already have the ability to take down sites (with a certain amount of due process), sue for damages, etc?

    I often see the use and positive impact of regulation (not dumping raw sewage in the river, etc) - but I still don't follow what exactly the need really is to provide more control to the corporations over the net (I absolutely understand their desire for it, but not any valid reason why there should be any further corporate control allowed).

    The timbre of this administration remains the same. It gave away health care by inches to the corporations until they were able to declare "we win! [politico.com]" while trying to look like they were actually fighting. And now they're doing the same with the 'net, as far as I can tell: putting on a dog and pony show, but preparing to hand the show over to those paying the lobbyists.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:04PM (#38699918)

    -the artists who aren't getting paid don't even enter into the discussion

    You're right, they should be a part of the discussion, but not in the way you imply. Artists get paid next to nothing by those greedy bastards and piracy does next to nothing to hurt their non-existent paycheck.

    The real question here is not how to stop piracy, but how to make the payed-for product more desirable. The game has changed and so must the strategies involved.

  • Abolish IP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:05PM (#38699924) Homepage Journal

    Abolishing IP is what's right. Simple as that.

  • What is right: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:13PM (#38699990) Homepage
    Abolish copyright. We gave it a 200 year trial, and it has not served its purpose of making artists self-sufficient. Instead, it has only further entrenched the patron model by giving the patrons legal teeth, handing our culture over to corporations and the insanely rich. Further, we're seeing more and more that free speech and copyright are completely incompatible. It's time we decide which we care more about: a fictitious emotion-backed economic system, or basic human rights.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:17PM (#38700028)

    There's nothing wrong with being supportive of anti-piracy efforts. People deserve to get paid for their work.

    No they don't. Not without an agreement/contract.

  • by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:18PM (#38700038) Homepage
    "The comment was modded up. When it's a case of a GPL violation, the violators who feel entitled to the free labor of strangers are childish and entitled."

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If Apple (used as an example only) rips off some piece of Linux and then slaps DRM on it and sells it as part of their mono-culture protected by lawsuits and patent trolling, then they ARE "childish and entitled," even if you oppose copyright. They are childish and entitled by their own standards, if not by some higher concept of consistency. What you'll never see on slashdot is a story about GPL-using developers suing BSD developers for copying parts of code over in a way that is maybe not 100% kosher, which is a much more comparable situation to what the copyright industry engages in daily.
  • by shentino (1139071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:20PM (#38700058)

    I think expecting collateral damage to be minimized is reasonable.

    I hate DRM because of the inconvenience it causes people who aren't actually pirates.

    If you want to nuke a castle you don't lob a stink bomb at it.

  • Re:Not enough. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:21PM (#38700076)

    No, you're misunderstanding the statement. It's saying, we'll sign anything with the DNS portion removed BECAUSE NOW WE SEE CONGRESS IS ALREADY REMOVING IT. This statement would have been even blander had it been issued just a few days ago. Obama will sign anything he's handed. He does little, changes nothing. His people will try to put a good spin on whatever trash happens under this continuation of the Bush presidency. This document is another example of that.

    I'm not sure whether at heart he's a Republican who knows he can only get elected as a Democrat, or whether he read the constitution and decided to only what is expected of a president in that document, as opposed to a modern presidency. Either way, I really feel for his staffers and especially the people fighting to get him re-elected. They know he's crap. They can see, very clearly, that the man is the worst failure as a president we've had in modern times. But we've got to re-elect him, because a Republican might be even worse. Besides, the situation makes them look like fools. So they defend his actions with vigour, when his actions (or really, his inaction) has given us 4 more years of Bush policies domestically (with, bizarrely, LESS restraint from above) and just about everything the Republicans in congress want.

    Have you read the rest of the responses to the petitions on this site? One after another, they say (essentially) "Thanks for sending us your petition. We're ignoring it."

    Every single response. Without exception. Not one response hints at any willingness to change or reconsider based on the petition. Zero.

    They really should say, "Thanks for your petition. You're asking us to do something. We don't do that. We let congress do whatever it does, we let the agencies do whatever they do, we back down whenever there's pressure, we make promises, break then, then shift our language to pretend we delivered rather than admit we failed. We are a sorry excuse for a presidency."

    The one thing they seem to have effective at (at least according to Nader, who sometimes is on the money and sometimes seems completely off) is strong-arm the whole party into not challenging him in a primary. They do machine politics well. They just don't seem to know how to govern.

  • Re:Abolish IP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:22PM (#38700088)

    I can't tell if you're trying to be ironic or not, what with your sig....

  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:23PM (#38700092) Homepage

    The point being that there probably should be an attempt made to hinder online piracy in some way. We can't just let it spiral completely out of control, to the point where it's no longer lucrative to produce anything.

    You see, the problem with copyright supporters is that they believe this to be true. I don't think it will. I know plenty of people buying their music from Amazon or iTunes. And they are tecchies. It's just more convenient. It took them 10 years, but they made something easier that pirating.

    And this is the key point. Because nobody is going to stop piracy. It is crazy to think so. Because stopping piracy means stopping privacy. Because pirating is just communicating.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:24PM (#38700112)

    Youtube should only be liable if they obstruct copyright holders.

    Damages are on whoever uploads the damn thing.

    A happy middle ground might be to require Youtube to fork over any ad revenue they collect on the video.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:25PM (#38700116) Journal

    20 year copyright term limits won't stop a bit of piracy. Copyright itself is simply untenable in the digital era.

  • Solutions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:27PM (#38700132)

    This.

    A part of the solution is to be less draconian in punishment and more successful at catching people. Violating copyright is something that should basically be a traffic offense, and instead the law literally makes every American a felon.

    A part of the solution is to establish reasonable protections. Copyright terms have been extended periodically since the first copyright act was passed in 1790 or so. It is insane--nobody, and I mean nobody, is making a decision about whether to invest based on potential profits fifty years from now. While perhaps extended protection is fair for works that have never turned a profit or where the profit is not significant compared to the labor involved, it certainly is not justified once fifteen years have passed and a work has earned a 1000% return. We need something more just than the current blanket number of years.

    A part of the solution is international relations. If a foreign nation doesn't enforce a reasonable copyright law, we dredge up some sanctions or incentives if they are cost-justified. This makes it so that it will be in the other nation's interest to enforce copyright law. If we can't pay them enough from profits to make it a net gain for them to enforce copyright law, then economically speaking it shouldn't be enforced. (Obviously unless transaction costs of the incentive structure are too high, but that's a relatively narrow range of profits).

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:29PM (#38700168) Homepage

    'So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don't limit your opinion to what's the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what's right.'

    Easy -- repeal the DMCA and ACTA, don't pass SOPA, PIPA, or OPEN, roll copyright back to, say, 50 years, and give that a ten year test run while we do some serious data gathering and analysis.

    Most of our copyright law over the past 15 years has been "The sky is falling" stuff. Wild overstepping of the balance between copyright holders and the interests of the public. We are spending an enormous amount of money doing a lousy job of protecting something that might not need protecting, and might not work any longer. We have very little data on the cost/benefit of all this enforcement, no research on alternatives, what data we do have shows extremely poor correlation between enforcement and increased revenue, does not consider the cost of new business models foregone, and the data that we have that claims to show the cost of infringement is based on the wildly inaccurate theory that every infringement is a foregone sale.

    The right answer, if you are a copyright supporter like me, is to ease back to something that the public will be less likely to revolt against while we do some serious objective research on the problem. The right answer is to find out how we can fund the progress of science and the useful arts under this new reality. Copying does not cost any money any more. That is a fundamental change that we need to adapt to. Copyright was invented based on a premise that is no longer true. Failing to consider the new reality and research how to adapt to it is as stupid as Krushchev insisting on Communism. Nice theory, except it does not work.

    We need to think about that and come up with a solution, not just fire wildly into the dark. None of the legislation over the past 15 years has made a hint of a dent in infringement. Same thing we've been saying ever since the DMCA was just a twinkle in the RIAA's eye. These laws cannot work, mathematically speaking, because reality has changed. We need to stop the wishful madness and think of how to turn free copying into a win. Seeing as how it is a massive boon to society to be able to reproduce things for free, that shouldn't be too hard. We are making this harder than it needs to be.

  • by future assassin (639396) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:31PM (#38700184) Homepage

    wasted on paying off politicians instead of setting up a distribution channels/websites that makes all music, movies, written works available to customers world wide at digital media price.

    Gimme movies at 4$ with out DRM and I'll buy 20 per month instead of downloading them for free where at the end you don't get a penny from me

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:31PM (#38700188) Journal

    Also, while it is true that a punishment should be a deterrent to crime, the punishment must also be within the order-of-magnitude of actual damages in order to be just. The current punishments are outright ridiculous, and they also drive people to rebellion.

    Are the punishments that rediculous?
    When copyright is 120 years or life + 70 years, maybe $XY,000 per infringement is proportional.

    /That said, life+70 & 120 years roughly translates to "fuck you and your kids"

  • by Elbows (208758) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:33PM (#38700208)

    20 year copyright term limits are very reasonable. The current term limits + options to extend are absolutely unreasonable, and they drive people to rebellion.

    I mostly agree with you, and I definitely favor shorter copyright terms. But I doubt that 20+ year-old works make up a significant chunk of online piracy. People are largely downloading recent movies, games, and music, and limiting copyright to 20 years probably won't put much of a dent in it.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:34PM (#38700210)

    First, do no harm.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:34PM (#38700214)

    This isn't just law and order.

    It's a war against piracy.

    Let's call a spade a spade here and see it for what it really is.

    And after doing that, we can see DRM for what it is, as an ugly weapon that causes craploads of collateral damage.

  • by Trails (629752) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:36PM (#38700228)

    The problem with the RIAA and MPAA is that their terms aren't reasonable. These two organizations and their member orgs have been dragged kicking and screaming into the new millennium. Their failure to offer reasonably priced compelling legitimate options is what makes the piracy faction so large and so gleeful.

    You know what kills piracy? Netflix and Spotify, not SOPA.

  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:38PM (#38700246) Homepage Journal

    So, what's right?

    Laws that serve the people. Really, you need that spelled out?

    Put strict limits on lobbyism, campaign contributions and the rights of large corporations. Don't fix the symptoms of a bad system, fix the system.

    Oh, and fix the tax laws. The USA once revolted with the slogan "no taxation without representation". It's high time to reverse it: No representation without taxation. If a corporation wants to dodge taxes, fine. But make it very, very illegal for tax-evaders to influence politics.

    And finally, (and yes, you need all three) re-introduce the death penalty for corporations. Come up with a good way to take down a corporation so taking it down does minimal damage to society. Then do it on the appropriate crimes. Like endangering the economy - if Al Qaida had done 10% of the damage that greedy speculators have, you guys would have bombed Afghanistan and everything within a 1000 mile radius into near-earth-orbit.
     

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:39PM (#38700266)

    "20 year copyright term limits are very reasonable."

    Bullshit is that reasonable. People shouldn't be barred from sharing in the first place, that is reasonable. If an economy is built on making sure people can't freely share things originating sooner than 20 years ago then that economy is broken.

    Find another way. Authors might register to promote their works in systems that divide reasonable subscriptions for otherwise free access to all works, or concentrate on systems that encourage one time reasonable payment for good ideas that become free, or partially tax subsidize informational works by merit and by vote. But never proceed by limiting useful and dead simple actions like copying and sending information.

    Down that path invariably lies this same dark future we're facing now, because since it is so incredibly easy to share information, essential things like the Internet cannot exist in any semblance of a free form while still enforcing those laws.

  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:40PM (#38700268)

    Trying to fix this via piracy prevention seems just hopeless as well as ethically dubious. We now have the technology for everyone in the world with an internet connection to access basically the entire wealth of human culture. I don't think there is ethical case to be made that this should be artificially restricted. The question we need to solve is not how we can maintain outdated business models under these circumstances, but how we can make that happen and still enable content creators to make a living.

    One way might be to simply collect tips - people put money in the jar if they enjoyed the work. If that on it's own doesn't bring in sufficient funds, then the tip jar could be augmented with a culture flat rate. E.g. you pay a fixed amount every month for media consumption and the content producer additionally receives the tip jar multiplied by a certain factor. That would help to ensure that they get payed for stuff people actually want to see, not just for the pure amount of stuff produced. Also a nice side effect would be that it's not enough to trick people to see your content, they'd have to appreciate it, too. (Maybe that would put a stop to George Lucas? We can only hope.)

    I'd also be fine with replacing the flat rate with an internet traffic tax - a kind of sales tax on the downstream data and funding content creation this way.

    Anyway just some random thoughts on the topic, but certainly better thought out than SOPA.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:43PM (#38700296) Journal

    People deserve to get paid for their work

    No they don't. At least, not automatically. I've written a big chunk of open source software. Some of it I got paid for, because people found it valuable and paid me to write it. Some of it I did with no expectation of payment, and was not paid for. The work I was not paid for was often harder than the work that I did get paid for, but I don't intrinsically deserve to be paid for it just because it was work. If I dig a hole and then fill it in again, I don't deserve to be compensated, even though I've just done a big chunk of work, but if someone wants to burry something at the bottom of the hole then they would have an incentive to pay me to ensure that the hole is dug.

    People who create things that other people consider valuable should be fairly compensated. That is not quite the same thing.

  • Re:What's Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:51PM (#38700354) Journal

    And if those sites are located in China? Do you then start blocking them at the border?

    If you want to eliminate piracy, then structure the laws to encourage payment for creation, not copying, of works. The software industry has been 90% like this forever (90% of software developers are paid directly to write bespoke software, not paid in revenue selling copies of software) and open source is gradually encroaching on the remaining 10% (people get paid to add features to open source projects that extend it to meet a user's requirements). The entertainment industry, however, is showing no sign of making this transition, even though there is no long-term future for the pay-for-copies model: it simply will not work as the cost of producing copies drops to zero.

  • Re:What is right: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:52PM (#38700360) Homepage
    The GPL is a means, not an end. Please see http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2612412&cid=38648850 [slashdot.org] where I addressed the issue for the nth time already.
  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:53PM (#38700364) Journal

    This is a warning. We have to come up with competing systems to address the problem.

    So we're going to put the chains on ourselves, or they'll put them on us? Sorry, I refuse to fashion my own bonds, even if they'd be laxer than the ones they'll come up with.

    It's very important that the EFF amongst others come up with some alternative... Or we're boned.

    Here's an alternative: "Title 17 of the United States Code is hereby repealed in its entirety." No more copyright, no more piracy.

    What's actually going to happen, though, is either SOPA/PIPA will be tabled or they'll pass a slightly watered-down version. Then in the lame duck session they'll pass what remains.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:54PM (#38700374) Journal

    Indeed, when the anti-piracy measures leave the pirates in a more comfortable situation than the non-pirates, something is wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:58PM (#38700410)

    What's astonishing to me is that you are equating the rights of original GPL authors to the rights of middlemen corporate organizations who not only didn't create the material that is most being pirated, but who work their tails off to be sure that they get the profits rather than the original authors.

    Let's be very clear about one thing with regards to all legislation in the past 15 years regarding copyrights stuff: It's all about protecting corporate profits and not at all about protecting individuals, so don't go talking about them as if they're the same thing.

  • by teg (97890) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:58PM (#38700414) Homepage

    There is overwhelming evidence to show that piracy leads to an increase in sales. It doesn't make sense to dispute that anymore.

    Given that taking copies doesn't cost anyone anything nor deprive anything from anyone, yet can lead to further contributions to society, it only makes sense.

    Actually, if you look at the trends in music sales [cnn.com] since mp3/napster arrived I'd say that on a macro level you have a very good case that piracy decreases sales. Also, if you look at the sales of top albums now vs. 10-20 years ago they have decreased significantly.

    Sure, you could argue that this is because Britney and the gangsta rap-act of the week aren't as compelling as the high quality music made in earlier decades - but most of the content then was junk as well. We just happen to remember the good ones.

    This doesn't mean that the music industry has acted sanely - their legal tactics are dubious, some of the suggested cures (like SOPA, and others before it) are much worse than disease and their "damages" are insane. And it has taken them a decade to go kicking and screaming into the future, with streaming music like spotify. But none of this means that piracy is good, and that a lot of people have downloaded music they would have paid for otherwise - alongside at lot of music they wouldn't have given second look, much less their cash.

    It also doesn't mean that there aren't many artists who have used to their advantage - e.g. to get publicity - but overall it looks like a net loss. A big one.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:59PM (#38700426) Journal

    Bonch is, like me, a slashdot subscriber. You can tell this by the little * next to our UIDs. In return for paying (ridiculously cheap) membership fees to slashdot we get a few bonus features. Among these are the ability to read back any poster's entire comment history, to turn off advertisements, and to see articles a few minutes before they're posted without scanning the Firehose for them.

    For me to agree with something Bonch has to say is exceedingly rare. But in this specific case he's got plenty of time to prepare any comment he likes and get it posted first, as do I. I'm guilty of calling copypasta now and then too on AC and new accounts, though I'm trying to get away from that as it doesn't add to the discussion more than it takes away. But the * makes calling copypasta totally inappropriate.

    I've not been a fan of stealing content, but I'm coming around to that point of view. Copyright is a social contract where creators get something (a monopoly) in return for something (the improvement of the public domain when the monopoly expires). They're using the corruption of law to get their something without paying the something by preventing the expiration of the monopoly. Complying with this encourages corruption of law. So in the interest of good citizenship until they restore the balance of getting something in return for something, violating copyright isn't a sin: it's your civic duty.

    The President is a Constitutional scholar, and it doesn't surprise me that he would come out against these bills that violate our freedoms of speech and due process. I wish I wasn't so cynical that I thought the popular uprising had more to do with it than his skills and experience, his good citizenship.

  • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:12PM (#38700532) Homepage

    People deserve to get paid for their work.

    An anti-copyright activist will agree with this, while disagreeing with copyright itself, on the basis that, yes, people deserve do get paid for their work while they're working. Being paid for work they did, but aren't doing anymore, on the other hand, is by no means deserved, no. Hence, a programmer deserves to be paid while programming, not for previous programming; a singer while singing, not for previous singing; a painter while painting, not for previous paintings; a writer while writing, not for previous writings; and so on and so forth.

    The counter argument to this is that under such a social arrangement much creative work that depends on consumers paying for it after it's been done wouldn't be done at all. To which an anti-copyright activist would answer thus: "So what?" After all, where's the ethics in getting paid for non-work? Unless one's disabled or otherwise unfit for work, nowhere.

    Note that this reasoning can be extended to all kinds of payments for non-work: financial speculation; earning interest on loans; investing, unless you're there, actually doing something useful at the company you invested in; and so on and so forth. Which looks kinda socialistic, but isn't, as actual property, of the physical kind, remains fully private, and operating as expected.

  • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:19PM (#38700594) Homepage Journal

    The reason Shakespeare was able to make money is because people bought tickets to go see his plays performed!

    It was also because the majority of those people couldn't read anyway, AND there was no way to mass produce books. So copyright laws were completely unnecessary.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:32PM (#38700690)

    Without copyright, the only way to get paid in the digital age is through draconian DRM and black box playback devices.

    No, that doesn't stop piracy either. Perhaps the only way to get paid is by actually doing something worth getting paid for, like giving me a physical copy of a book, or a concert I can go to, etc. But throwing me in jail for downloading the movie that I missed last night when it was on my cable channel - well go to hell, you don't deserve to get paid, YOU are the one who deserves to get locked up.

  • by Sique (173459) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:42PM (#38700780) Homepage

    No. When Napster shut down, the decrease got only stronger. At the end of Napster in Jan 01, it was still about US$ 14 billions, then it sunk down pretty fast to $12 billions 2003, where it stayed for the next three years till 2006. Then the free exchange via KaZaA was shut down, and sales are going down very fast since then - 10.5 billions in 2007, 8.5 billions in 2008 and 6.3 in 2009.

    So whenever a big exchange network gets shut down, sales break down, and whenever an alternative exchange network grows large enough and stays relatively unharmed, the sales remain stable.

  • by The Immutable (2459842) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:10PM (#38701006)
    Yeah, wrap your head around that one.

    If you want to do what's RIGHT, take the example of red light cameras. Everyone hates them. They get massive opposition (at least in my area) whenever they're introduced. Now, why, exactly do you think this is? It's not because it's a waste of money, it's actually quite profitable. It's because they WORK. People run red lights all the time and they don't want to get caught.

    To continue the driving metaphor, you speed on the highway. I know you do, everyone does. It's an open secret that at some point in your life you've probably gone above 80 and NOT gotten caught. This would be so trivial to stop it's laughable. A couple lines of code in the onboard computer to limit your speed to 70 mph. Depending on your region you could just take it to a mechanic and have them adjust the limit in accordance with local laws. Now how would you feel if they did that? Pretty pissed I'm sure. I know why I would be, because they're taking away my freedom to break the law.

    Now I'm sure by now you think I'm going to say piracy serves some important moral purpose. It doesn't, it's wrong. But the RIGHT thing to do is to let it happen, because like the occasional speeder or the kid with a dime bag of pot, it is not something life threatening that MUST be stopped in its entirety. You have a choice to make between harming the tech sector or harming the entertainment sector. The right thing to do is to take the choice of lesser harm. SOPA and PIPA will hurt EVERYONE in a fantastic myriad of ways I'm sure you're all familiar with. Piracy only hurts those who are pirated against, and only in one way - by eroding their profit margin.

    This isn't to say we should give up the fight against piracy. That would be like abolishing all traffic laws, there would be chaos on the streets. Nobody wants that. But we have to take MEASURED steps against it. We can never eradicate piracy, so in taking steps to fight piracy, the government should first make sure nobody is going to get hit in the crossfire.

    Or you could just subsidize the entertainment industry and institute a piracy tax on high speed internet connections, that could work too. Didn't Switzerland already do that?
  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:20PM (#38701084) Journal

    Your solution of dispensing with copyrights entirely is about as practical as responding a debate by covering yourself in whip cream and then singing the thong song.

    I guess it makes sense to you... but to everyone else it just looks like you went crazy and started wigging out.

    Of course it's extreme. But so is what the other side is offering.

    It's also a strawman to say I have advocated we forge our own bonds. Rather we have to come up with some legislation that solves the piracy issue in a constructive way that also respects our rights.

    No such solution exists. We have devices which can create copies at the push of the button. We have a system which can transmit copies -- of any sort of information -- around the world almost as easily. Under such circumstances, "solving" the problem of preventing reproduction and distribution of certain material simply cannot be done, not without taking away those devices, breaking that system, and destroying our rights.

    There has to be some kind of compromise you're willing to offer.

    Perhaps. But if we're going to play the compromise game, we shouldn't start compromising between the status quo and their position. We should start compromising between what we want and what they want. Because if we "compromise" today and offer them something which takes only half as many rights, you know what happens? Piracy won't be stopped. Next year, they'll be screaming for even more extreme legislation, and get another compromise -- starting from the status quo.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:23PM (#38701104)

    Never made any money is sort of the wrong way to look at it. Sure, 10 years ago the market.. oh wait who gives a shit about 10 years ago? What matters isn't what happened 5 years ago, it's what is happening this year. That's a much murkier question. There's a shift back into PC games as the technology to make sure you get paid for the game has changed. Even a pirated copy you can still sell DLC packs these days.

    Sure, 3 or 4 years ago a few big studios surmised that there wasn't enough money in PC versions, and so didn't make any (think fable 2). But for a lot of reasons that market has shifted - and what matters is what the market will look like in 2012, which is that shift continuing. Steam, which is a giant DRM platform, makes the PC appealing, if you're a small indie outfit there's no 30k developer kit (see the Wii....), and no competition from first party or big studios (seriously, who wants to compete with Uncharted 3, or Skyrim?), and now with the way Steam works your game can get front page attention in between major releases at least. That's actually the new 'big thing' in our business is that piracy matters a lot less than when all these really good games are coming out, and trying to find when to squeeze yourself into their release cycles. We're competing on time, not money. Money is not completely solved, but mostly. We've cut retailers out of the process, and sure, digital takes 30%, but before it was more like 60, so you make more money per copy, your game has a longer tail, you're locking them to steam. Sure, steam *can* be cracked, but most people don't want to risk their steam account for one game they could buy for 5 dollars. They'll take that risk for portal2 for 60 bucks, but not for a game you're selling for 5 or 10.

    Because piracy wasn't ever really dealt with, the market changed. We now have 'free' games, where you basically buy anything worth having in the game online. We have online games, or DLC or a little bit of both, which means now the thing that can be pirated is not the real value, the real value is in 12 dollars in DLC you're going to sell someone, or the 15 dollars a month and that's all going into your coffers, not to Gamestop or Walmart. It's meant there's a lot less room for innovation in the market. Basically the innovation happens at the top (kinect), you get crazy lucky with a product like minecraft or magicka, or you live on government handouts and hope that works for you. Most small developers are fleeing consoles and PC, because the risk is too high, for all of the help steam provides. You make 20 facebook/android/ios games in the time it takes to make one decent game, and odds are, collecting a 50% government subsidy that you can crawl along breaking even, and you hope for your farmville.

    As a practical matter legislation isn't going to stop piracy. It's too easy. The market had to change. But the market is now split between people who make experiences like Skyrim, Mass effect etc... and basically gambling, and hoping enough suckers will spend 300 bucks on your game to keep you afloat (Star Trek Online). I'm not sure that's made it better for consumers. Steam made things better (as did their competitors, the Xbox market, PSN etc.) but the only way to survive making traditional games is if you can be big enough to absorb the losses due to piracy. That's not really a great model, and my nagging (but uninformed) suspicion is that the Xbox 3 and PS4 will be looking a lot more like a software as a service model, where everything important is done over the internet, and any disks you do get will only serve to limit the amount of downloading you need to do, but for it to work, you'll need to constantly authenticate with them.

  • by Tom (822) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:37PM (#38701214) Homepage Journal

    Correct.

    Copyright laws originated when the only copyrighted material that mattered was books. The lifetime of a good book is easily 20 years, but the lifetime of even a good computer game is maybe 5 years. And most blockbuster movies are forgotten before their first anniversary.

    Understanding your subject matter is the first step towards finding a good solution. I fear very few people really understand both copyright law and the subjects of it, i.e. copyrighted works in all their various forms and shapes.

    What I know is that the solution won't be simple. We need differentiation.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:42PM (#38701244)

    I do not think I do: Here, you cannot access product quality without using it. And for using it you already have to pay in full. So not I have it backwards, but the relationship actually is backwards. The entertainment industry however invests quite a lot of money to obscure that fact.

    As to someone still losing something, that is not true, things are more complicated. Although the industry would have you believe this in order to enforce the analogy with physical goods. Which is wrong. The reality is murky. Some people have observed actually gaining from compensationless copying, and at least for more obscure musicians it has been demonstrated it is a boon, as it gets people to their concerts and donate without huge advertisement budgets being necessary. No, no, it is not clear what the economics are and they are provable not that simple.

    Also remember that music, writing, poetry, sciences, etc. developed before copyright. The financing models there were donation, patronage and being wealthy. For example, in classical British theater, the troupe was financed by donations after the performance. So do not give me than nonsense.

  • What's right? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:06PM (#38701462)

    The following are both right and fair:

    1. Restore original copyright length of 20 years. Failing that, abolish copyright altogether. Tighten the language to make clear that *only* the specific work of art (writing, music, painting, sculpture, etc) is copyrighted - NOT any ideas, characters, setting/background etc, and that the public's fair-use right to re-use & remix existing works is unabridged.

    2. Revoke all Software, Design, Business Methods, Gene, and Pharmaceutical Usage patents and all other patents that aren't actually inventions.

    3. Restrict Trade Marks to just company names and brand names. No slogans, no words, no phrases. The only valid purpose of trademarks is to protect purchasers from fakes.

    4. For all three, explicitly acknowledge and acknowledge that they are not rights or property, they are artificial monopolies granted for specific civic purposes - and that where they conflict with those civic purposes, the monopoly power is revoked (e.g. if it can be proved that a patent stifles innovation rather than fostering it, it is to be revoked).

    5. Penalties for abusing the monopoly powers granted by copyrights, patents, and trademarks must be sufficient to discourage such abuse even by corporations with deep pockets.

    6. Penalties for infringing the monopoly powers should be restricted to commercial and large-scale infringements by businesses, companies, corporations, and other organisations.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:36PM (#38702132)

    Perhaps the only way to get paid is by actually doing something worth getting paid for, like giving me a physical copy of a book, or a concert I can go to, etc.

    Some industries have already made this transition. Wedding photographers used to shoot weddings for a minimal fee, the charged a large amount for prints and reprints. If you wanted extra copies of your wedding photos for your extended family, you had to pay for the extra prints.

    With the advent of scanners and dirt-cheap photo printers, they've transitioned to a model where they charge a lot for shooting the wedding, but charge little for the prints or even give them away for free. Technically they can charge for the prints as they did before, but realistically they know it's so easy to make copies there's no possible way they'd be able to enforce their copyright for every photo the take. So they've just restructured their payment system to reflect reality, rather than copyright laws.

    Forget for a moment everything about copyright, publishing, movie/music production, etc. Think of this purely in terms of work vs. compensation. I shoot photos of a wedding and process the photos. That's a lot of work. I print pictures of said wedding. That's very little work. Under the old model, the payment system did not reflect my costs - I charged very little for the part which required a lot of work on my part, but charged a lot for the part which required almost no effort. The new system fixes this. I now charge a lot for the part which requires a lot of work, and charge little for the part which requires little work.

    The same thing has got to happen to books, music, and movies. In the old days, musicians and actors were paid for live performances. That is the norm.

    In the 20th century there was a bit less than 100 years where technology was good enough to allow mass duplication, but not good enough to lower cost of duplication to the point where individuals could duplicate. This allowed a business model to flourish in which payment did not reflect costs. Musicians and actors were able to work once, then sit back and make money over and over based on that single performance. This is not normal. No other business is like that - you have to constantly work if you want to keep making money.

    Now in the 21st century, the cost of mass duplication has fallen far enough that it's now easily within grasp of the individual. No longer does it make sense for people to be charged large amounts of money for what is a nearly free service (duplication). People may be stuck on the morality of it because the 20th century way is all they've ever known. But strictly in terms of work invested vs. compensation, the 20th century way was clearly wrong since the most money was being made for the step which cost the least money.

    The transition to a model where content creators are not paid for duplication services is not some new journey into unexplored territory. It is a return to what was the norm for millenia. For most of history, duplication was impossible (performances) or nearly impossible (books), so the only way to get paid was for the actual content creation. During the 20th century, duplication became possible, and content creators leveraged it to get paid multiple times over for the same work. Now in the 21st century duplication has become so cheap that people are starting to question if it's really fair for content creators to be paid multiple times for the same job. That is the true crux of the matter, not who owns the work or whether copying is stealing.

    I do believe in copyright - the temporary monopoly does encourage creation. But the terms have to be reasonable. With duplication costs having dropped to almost zero, preventing society from making copies simply because of archaic laws does more harm than good. Something like 10-20 years for copyright seems about right to me. Copyright is fundamentally about encouraging creativity and creation of new content. A copyright term of life + 70 years discourages creativity, and instead encourages trying to figure out how to create something new once and live off it for the rest of your life.

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