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Interview With Suren Ter From 'You Have Downloaded' 366

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you're-all-criminals-but-i-like-you-anyway dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Suren Ter discusses privacy, piracy, and the future of filesharing. Suren produced the virally popular YouHaveDownloaded.com, which displays all downloads on the public BitTorrent network associated with an IP address." When asked about his views on piracy: "Just like I told a French journalist and to the lady at the Washington Post, pirates are thieves and they do steal. Yeah yeah, 'when I steal your DVD, you have no DVD, but when I copy a file, you still have a file' — I get that BS. We all know that it’s BS too. However, SOPAs and PIPAs create tyranny. If given the choice between thieves and tyranny, I’d rather stay with the thieves."
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Interview With Suren Ter From 'You Have Downloaded'

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @11:58AM (#39354341) Journal

    The idea that you can sell your product and retain control over what people do with it. That's BS.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:01PM (#39354381)
    Yea, its like someone telling me I have to release my software under the GPL just because I used their code which was released under the same license!

    If you dont like the license something is released under, just dont use it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:23PM (#39354703)

    You can argue semantics all you want, but the base argument is very simple and straight forward: Should you be allowed to take another person's efforts and do whatever you want with them?

    If you answer Yes, nothing else needs to be discussed, people "own" nothing.

    If you say No, then you need to start breaking down things to qualify what belongs to a person and what is effort. Since this simple question is overlooked to quibble about false analogies and traditional word meanings, very little useful dialogue tends to pop up in these conversations.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:24PM (#39354727)

    Not even the author of the work. It is a government-created *privilege* not a right, and it is revocable and limited in scope.

    Someone who copies your work has not stolen anything..... they've merely infringed upon your government-granted monopoly. That's life and part of the cost of doing business (like when 80s-era Microsoft, Commodore, and others copied Apple OS's look-and-feel).

  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:27PM (#39354773) Homepage

    That's not really an applicable comparison. GPL only applies when you distribute something, you can still use GPL-software as you like even if you don't agree to the license just as long as you don't distribute it. On the other hand Big Media tries to control how you use their media, including on your own, private time on your own, private devices, and flat-out denies distribution altogether.

  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:32PM (#39354841)

    Yeah yeah, 'when I steal your DVD, you have no DVD, but when I copy a file, you still have a file' — I get that BS. We all know that it’s BS too.

    Who says it's BS? You point out the primary function between theft and copyright infringement is completely different, and then say it's not?

    I live by this philosophy. Copyright infringement, and copying of protected works, is in no way theft. Nor is it equal to a lost sale. Nor is it lost revenue.

    I don't care WHAT website this guy made, his take on copyright is flat-out wrong. And going by how well it works for my IP and the amount of shit I download, I would say he's not very good at building web apps either.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:34PM (#39354875)
    "Should you be allowed to" is virtually never a valid question. We should be allowed to do everything except what we AREN'T allowed to do. Most reasonable rationales for why something should not be allowed are based off of harm caused or intended to be caused. If I stab you, that harms your body, so that is something we should not permit. There is no such harm with copying, so it shouldn't inherently be stopped like actual theft should.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:41PM (#39354973)

    I'm curious what will happen when our society invents the replicator, and starts cloning things like bread and corn.

    Will the bakers and farmers claim they have a copyright to food, and you "stole" their bread and corn? I'd have to say no; theft is only theft when the original owner loses his bread or corn. Making a duplicate is merely copying (and possible infringement on a government-granted monopoly) but not theft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:45PM (#39355043)

    You jumped ahead of the question. You are already defining bought, shared, ownership, content and implicitly effort. The point is the base definitions do not work any more, the technology and methods of distribution have moved beyond the scope of our general legal understanding. Copyright has been used to try and combat that, but it is flawed in many ways. Start from the beginning, define everything with your logic and see what you get.

    As it currently stand the purchase once and give away free to everyone is not sustainable. What do you propose those industries do then? I'm not saying it's gonna happen tomorrow, but outline to me how "sharing" would not eventually kill these intangibles based industries we all love so much?

  • by kiwimate (458274) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:58PM (#39355237) Journal

    Some people (like you) will argue until the day is done that copyright infringement is not theft. You will not be convinced otherwise.

    Some people (like me) will argue until the day is done that copyright infringement is theft. They (I) will not be convinced otherwise.

    Now that's out of the way, how about we accept this incompatibility and read the article and comment on some of the interesting points he raises? Like his view on BitCoin and predictions for the future of downloading. Agree or disagree? Discuss.

    I like this one:

    ...the majority is too dumb to learn anything. For example, we get the same question about dynamic IP at least ten times a day. The answer is right on the first page. Itâ(TM)s on every page, actually. Ignorance is bliss but most people abuse it. They never really learn, they just get used to something.

    Or this hypothetical. Is abusing the GPL wrong? If so, why is that wrong and piracy is okay? At a high level, it's the exact same issue - someone says "I've produced this intellectual property, I want other people to do this or not do that with it", and someone else says "too bad, I'm going to do what I want. Deal with it".

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:59PM (#39355257) Homepage

    Sharing and buying are not incompatible:

    As it currently stand the purchase once and give away free to everyone is not sustainable.

    You're falling for the mental trap they've set up. That situation simply won't happen. People who share also pay: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/21/study-finds-pirates-buy-more-music [guardian.co.uk]

    Hell, they buy it even before it's made: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure/ [kickstarter.com]

    The "copyright or bankruptcy" dichotomy is simply false. Maybe there will be less money to go around, but that's all.

    You know who will really suffer? People who sell shit and don't take refunds, because pirates try before they pay. But should we really give a crap about them?

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:08PM (#39355403) Homepage Journal

    "A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation."
    -- Howard Scott

  • civilisation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:25PM (#39355643)
    Civilization is based on the principle that you take somebody else's effort and use it, improve it and teach your children about it. If humans wouldn't copy each others behavior and products, we'd still be "sitting in trees eating bananas". Copyright was "invented" to protect the small man against big corporations getting off with the brink of the money of what their effort was. It took less than 100 years for corporations to find a way to bend that concept to their benefit and essentially screw the small man out of almost all of the money. For every millionaire music artist, there are thousands that ended up paying more to the record company than making their record cost in the first place. For every millionaire music artist, there are at least three millionaire music industry executives. Try finding funding for a movie that won't make the movie industries millions for certain. It's not about how much it will make the actors or the people making the movie, or if there might be a profit in it at all, or even the artistic value of the movie. It's about profit for big record companies, that will all go to people that won't need to work a day of their life anymore and still not be hungry, needy or poor.

    Maybe, just maybe, there is virtue in copyrighting medication, but that industry tends to be mostly focused on erection pills and symptom suppression, not on curing important diseases.
  • by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:45PM (#39355941)

    As it currently stand the purchase once and give away free to everyone is not sustainable. What do you propose those industries do then? I'm not saying it's gonna happen tomorrow, but

    Why should I give a damn thing about the industries? Do the industries care about me? Do they care about the workers they fire when they move manufacturing to overseas sweatshops? Do they care about how they make their own country poorer when they move their capitals into tax havens? Did we care when cars destroyed the economy of the horse? A failed business model must be failed for a reason, and therefore it's best to let it die.

    outline to me how "sharing" would not eventually kill these intangibles based industries we all love so much?

    If people love the industry so much, then those who do can pay for it by themselves. It's absurd that the Government must pass laws, spend money to uphold them, and limit the freedom of all its citizens, to create an imaginary property for those industries to sell.

    All property, tangible or not, exists only because the Government defines and protects it. Tangible property needs to be protected because it can't be duplicated. Intellectual property hasn't that problem.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:56PM (#39356111)

    No, the GPL takes rights away from everyone, just like copyright does, because GPL IS copyright. It's not a legal hack.

    Not copyrighted is public domain. No license. Free to do whatever you want with it. You have all the rights, the creator has none. The GPL restricts those rights. Yes, it restricts particular rights that RMS disagrees are a good thing, but it restricts them nevertheless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:58PM (#39356155)

    and those some people (like you) are factually incorrect. The frustrating thing for the correct people is that this isn't an argument and there is no room for interpretation or for having differentiable opinions on the matter, you are 100% completely wrong and either too dumb or too stubborn to admit.

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @02:12PM (#39356351)

    > Some people (like me) will argue until the day is done that copyright infringement is theft. They (I) will not be convinced otherwise.

    So copying a _number_ is theft ?? First, some natural plants are illegal, and now imaginary property, aka numbers, are illegal too. What's next? Thinking the same thoughts??

    You _do_ realize that the basis of all civilizations are built on the concept of sharing, right? Or would you like to pay a license for the privilege of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing ??

    I understand that there are two diametrically opposed paradigms:

    - customers want to pay as little as possible (even nothing) and share content with everyone
    - content creators want as much money as possible -- for each usage if possible

    Copyright, while it was created by _publishers_ to stop other _publishers_ is a middle ground between the 2 extremes of sharing and profit.

    But to confuse copyright infringement with theft shows a total lack of critical thinking.

  • by hellop2 (1271166) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:03PM (#39356999)
    Exactly. "We all know that it’s BS too." Fuck that guy.

    What's the difference between me downloading a movie or going over to a friend's house to watch his copy? Either way, I wasn't going to pay $14.95 for it. I've never bought a movie. And the few times I go to the movie theater it's the dollar theater, or $1.20 redbox. If I could watch any VCD quality movie I wanted for $1, I would pay it, because that's what it's worth to me. And I do, when possible. I pay for netflix.

    Point is, watching a movie is not a crime. Neither lending a book, nor humming a tune. Civil disobedience I say! You can pry my eyes and ears from my cold dead hands.
  • by Fned (43219) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:08PM (#39357059) Journal

    Some people (like you) will argue until the day is done that copyright infringement is not theft. You will not be convinced otherwise.

    Some people (like me) will argue until the day is done that copyright infringement is theft. They (I) will not be convinced otherwise.

    One of those people has logic, fact, legal precident, and thousands of years of history on their side. The other has appeal to emotion and stubborn denial.

    I'm just sayin'.

    At a high level, it's the exact same issue - someone says "I've produced this intellectual property..."

    See, there's the problem. At a high level, nonsense jargon like "intellectual property" has no place in the discussion.

    Copyright doesn't produce property; it grants exclusive right to profit from copies of a work. This runs into a giant fucking obstacle when suddenly any given copy isn't worth anything on its own anymore. Suddenly, you have the exclusive right to sell ice to Inuit, and no amount of twisting language around is going to change that.

    THAT is the "high level" problem that needs to be addressed first. You have to understand this basic mechanical fact before even beginning to discuss the topic of copyright.

    All copyright is supposed to do is to help prevent fraud (i.e. claiming someone else's work as your own), and to encourage people to create new works. We need to find a new way to do that second thing, because the "sell copies" model is irrevocably broken.

    "...I want other people to do this or not do that with it", and someone else says "too bad, I'm going to do what I want. Deal with it".

    Wanting to control what other people do with ideas you publish is a common desire but also goes entirely against the fundamental laws of memetics.
    It's also not what copyright was ever intended for, nor can ever succeed at without absolute totalitarianism.

    If you don't want people to replicate and mutate your ideas, DON'T EXPOSE THEM TO A GIGANTIC MUTATING REPLICATION ENGINE. Keep them private.

  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:15PM (#39357139) Journal

    The value of a good idea is directly related to how widely it is used.

    This system prevents the value of an idea from being maximized. The food, shelter, power and material goods that the creator of intellectual works receives is not created by restricting it's dissemination. Those materials exist, regardless of how far the idea spreads. The purpose of the system is to determine who gets support and who does not. Anyone with a brain could think of a half a dozen different ways to make that determination without requiring the good idea to be restricted in its use.

    This system is STUPID. It is WASTEFUL. It DESTROYS VALUE. And, with the onward march of technology, the percentage of the population with idle time to create goes up, and the amount of idle time goes up. So, the rarity of the producers of IP continuously decreases, and that rarity would decrease even faster if good ideas were spread wider and faster.

    This system is indefensible. Period. It has to go.

    I'm a creator of intellectual works. My creations have dramatically improved the quality of life for all mankind. And I've sat in many round table discussions where I was forced to come up with ways to artificially destroy the value of my own creations. It makes me FUCKING ANGRY that I'm forced to do that for such stupid and unnecessary reasons.

    So, take your BS about protecting the rights of creators and SHOVE IT UP YOUR FUCKING ASS. Find a way to determine that I deserve to be fed and clothed and sheltered and I'll weave magic that makes everyones life better till the day I die. Because THAT'S JUST WHAT I DO.

    Fucking scumbag.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:56PM (#39357645)

    Intellectual property has value

    Actually, much IP is worth nothing or less than nothing. For instance this post is IP, are you going to pay me for writing it?

    Therefore, we want people to produce it

    Not really. We want people to produce quality scientific advancements and entertainment. Most IP is neither and much only becomes valuable when a government granted monopoly restricts other people from using similar material or methods.

    Compared to the population at large, producers of IP are rare

    Nope. Pretty much anyone who can write, talk, or operate a camera is an IP producer.

    Also, IP can be expensive and/or time-consuming to produce

    Some IP can be expensive, most is created automatically via copyright and costs nothing. Creating the work the IP is derived from may be expensive or time-consuming but the work is not the IP.

    If the producers are not repaid in a manner that sufficiently encourages them they will be less inclined to produce

    And if the producers are paid too much they will also be less inclined to produce. Why continue working when your one hit can guarantee that your great-grandchildren never have to?

     

    So we should make sure that said production is rewarded, not shared without recompense

    Says who? Most media companies will give away free copies to garner interest in their product. It seems like they know the value of sharing when they want to.

    Hence, society rightfully sees "sharing" as criminal behavior

    Actually, society does not see "sharing" as criminal behaviour. Certain people with a commercial interest in preventing sharing have been running a propaganda campaign to convince the easily swayed that it is so. Most of the people who believe sharing should be criminal belong in one of two categories: fools or profiteers.

    Information may want to be free, but IP producers want to pay the mortgage.

    "I did it to pay my mortgage" is likely to be the 21st century's "I was only following orders". It's not a justification for sending people to prison for the crime of "sharing". The current copyright regime is unsustainable.

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