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Piracy Privacy Your Rights Online

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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:55PM (#39354281)

    Oh well I used to believe there was a difference between theft and copyright infringement; but now that someone's called the distinction BS I'm changing my views. Heh, my captcha is "proofs"

    • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:32PM (#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 cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          As a more realistic example, and one that currently exists, would be the object model files for 3D printers (see Thingiverse). Here, the creator of the object model file owns the copyright to that file and can license it under whatever license they choose. The object printer would own whatever object was actually printed as they own the printer and the plastic media that was used to perform the printing.

          In your example, I would guess that the replicator owner owns the corn that was replicated, but the cor

      • by kiwimate (458274) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:58PM (#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 Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @02:08PM (#39355401) Journal

          The GPL grants rights to everyone. Copyright takes rights away from everyone. That's the difference. The GPL currently relies on copyright as a legal hack to ensure those rights, but really those rights should be part of consumer protection laws, and copyright should be done away with entirely.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Words have meaning. These meanings include differences that are significant both in legal and moral terms. If you choose to ignore these differences then you are ignoring both the law and morality.

          You are in effect trying to create your own private law and your own private morals.

          You are trying to claim the moral high ground when in truth you are liar and completely lawless.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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 FrYGuY101 (770432)

          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".

          Illegally appropriating GPL code ISN'T THEFT EITHER.

          Theft is a very specific thing. Copyright infringement is another, but different, very specific thing.

          Whether or not you believe them morally identical isn't relevant. Your assumption that people complaining that copyright infringement isn't theft are thereby excusing copyright infringement is flawed. That discussion is completely orthogonal.

        • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:12PM (#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 dwpro (520418)

          I don't think it an incompatibility, it's a munging of definitions. You mention whether something wrong or ok, which has nothing to do with what you first asserted was the incompatibility, which is whether it is theft. There may be differences of opinion on whether copyright infringement is right morally, but whether or not it is theft really oughtn't be debated, it isn't theft.

        • by Fned (43219) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @04:08PM (#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 rtechie (244489) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @04:30PM (#39357303)

      I think the biggest thing people don't understand about copyright is that, for the most part, the corporations that hold the copyrights on most major works (film, books, music, etc.) STOLE those rights from the creators either through unfair business practices or straight theft. My experience is limited to the movie studios and record industry, but these companies claim copyrights they do not hold all the time. A lot of DMCA takedown notices are invalid on their face because the company making the infringement claim doesn't actually hold the rights.

      This beyond the fact that every single modern work is completely derivative of older, non-copyrighted works. Ex. Disney claims they own "Snow White", a story that is hundreds of years old. It is literally impossible to create a new song. There are only so many combinations of notes and they've all been used before, there hasn't been a "new" song for hundreds of years.

      One could also talk about the enormous damage copyright does to history and culture. Since nothing goes into the "public domain" anymore, that means that modern works (tv shows, etc.) will simply cease to exist after a few decades since nobody can legally archive them (except the corporate owners WHO NEVER ARCHIVE ANYTHING) and even illegal archiving is technically blocked (DRM, etc.). Most films from the 1930s through 1970s are completely gone for this reason, they only exist in a few private collections (if they exist at all) and they can't legally be shared or distributed to anyone.

  • RIAA Acquisition (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheSpoom (715771)

    I'm just surprised this service hasn't been acquired by the MAFIAA. It could easily lead to the largest John / Jane Doe lawsuit ever filed; just make a little script to generate a legal document for every IP address matching one that downloaded something they think they own.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Or rather, one with each IP address. Obviously they're not going to file multiple cases with multiple filing fees; they're not made of money! (Yet.)

      • by NemosomeN (670035)
        This is already the method the RIAA and MPAA are using.
        • What good is tracking IP addresses when every computer on the internet can become a proxy so that it's impossible to know who downloaded what?

          The proxy service could be built into file sharing apps themselves or created as a chrome plugin which uses onion routing to hide file sharers behind other file sharers and then download the file in bits and pieces and reconstruct it. This could even be done in a way so it looks like ordinary port 80 traffic.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @12:58PM (#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 @01:01PM (#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.
      • There's a difference between a user license and a distribution license. I'm no fan of the GPL, but it doesn't restrict how you use the software in any way. It also allows unlimited redistribution of unmodified copies. It only restricts redistribution of derived works. There's a big difference between that and something that says you can only play it on approved devices, or can't transcode it.
        • That would be relevant if the guy was saying that EULAs are fine and dandy, but the issue at hand is basic copyright ("copying is stealing"). GPL is most certainly a copyright-based license - you can't violate GPL per se, you can only infringe on someone's copyright when GPL doesn't give you permission to do something that copyright forbids you from doing.

          • I really don't understand the wish to conflate copyright infringement with theft. It's like everyone thinks that by not equating them that somehow copyright infringement is legal. Copyright infringement is illegal, and it is not theft. Even ICE and DOJ are saying that copyright = theft. Is this because there are stricter punishments for theft, and DOJ and ICE are the enforcement arms of the RIAA/MPAA?

        • by idontgno (624372)

          There's a difference between a user license and a distribution license.

          No, there isn't. Even the GPL itself acknowledges this:

          2. Basic Permissions.

          All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated conditions are met. This License explicitly affirms your unlimited permission to run the unmodified Program. The output from running a covered work is covered by this License only if the output, given its content, constitutes a c

      • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:27PM (#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 cpu6502 (1960974)

        I thought the reason GPL existed was because if it was not copyrighted, somebody like Microsoft or Google might copyright and claim the Linux Kernal and other OSS programs belonged to them? In other words a defensive measure.

    • by Njovich (553857)

      That's too simple. It is an agreement.

      They don't "sell you the movie", they offer you a DVD disc with very clear conditions (even if those are just the applicable copyright laws). You are 100% free to say no and not watch the movie. If you accept the offer you are not free to do whatever you want in terms of copyright.

      So what you are doing is agreeing to all that, to all the terms they state, take the disc, and then ignore the agreement.

      Same as hiring an employee, you 'buy the employee' for a certain number

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        You are 100% free to say no and not watch the movie.

        Except that you aren't. Ever try to return a DVD because you didn't agree to the copyright warning at the beginning of the disc?

      • You've summed up the industry argument. however fair use and the first sale doctrine do exist, though the media industry is somewhat successfully eliminating them. When I used to buy LPs, the first thing I would do would be to make a copy on tape which I would then listen to, keeping the LP safely stored away. When the tape wore out or got eaten in the car, I would simply make a new copy from the still like new LP. All of that was and is legal . . . I can and did do the same with CDs (now they are all i

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

      I would like for anyone on Slashdot to logically and mathematically answer this from a consequence based risk analysis perspective.

      Why is it wrong to download music if no one is hurt by your consumption of it? Is artificial scarcity worth it and why do we have to maintain artificial scarcity? Is it a religion or tradition to maintain artificial scarcity in certain industries?

      I don't see how it's unethical. I do the math and I don't see the fans of music/movies/art losing, I don't see the artists/actors/ los

  • by dragisha (788) <dragisha.m3w@org> on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:22PM (#39354683)

    a) NAT
    b) dynamic IP ranges

    But authors are so full of themselves it hurts :). Good luck for them and maybe-buyers, once they try to litigate with mostly false data.

  • For anyone who knows math, logic, or who is rational, can you please answer this question as to whether stealing becomes right if everything is owned?

    • Too broad a question to answer in a simple comment. Even just the plain concept of right and wrong depends so much on a person's background, their upbringing, what they've gone through in life, intelligence, gullibility and social and monetary status. Then you have to define what it actually means to own something, which in and of itself is enough to write a full thesis on. Just as defining stealing is terribly subjective, and then there's also the motive; are you "stealing" for your own uses, are you "stea

      • by elucido (870205)

        Too broad a question to answer in a simple comment. Even just the plain concept of right and wrong depends so much on a person's background, their upbringing, what they've gone through in life, intelligence, gullibility and social and monetary status. Then you have to define what it actually means to own something, which in and of itself is enough to write a full thesis on. Just as defining stealing is terribly subjective, and then there's also the motive; are you "stealing" for your own uses, are you "stealing" for someone else, are you "stealing" for a cause and so on.

        If everything is owned and you cannot afford something you need, at what point does it become right to steal?
        Or is it always wrong even if you can starve to death if you don't steal?

        The people who say information sharing is stealing aren't understanding that for a person who doesn't have the money to afford to buy something their options aren't the same as the person who has the money to buy something.

        • But why would you steal, when you can just download it? ;)

        • The people who say information sharing is stealing aren't understanding that for a person who doesn't have the money to afford to buy something their options aren't the same as the person who has the money to buy something.

          Indeed. They also fail to account for the fact that if a person does not have the means to obtain something legally it isn't a "lost sales" if that person obtains it illegally. But yes, it is an interesting philosophical question and worth discussing, something I personally very much enjoy, I just don't feel like Slashdot is the right place for philosophy; it'll just attract trolls to it like honey attracts flies.

        • Well, I think we can all agree that nobody has ever faced the choice of torrent transformers 2 or starve to death.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:24PM (#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).

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      it is a right. Copy -right-.

      I disagree with the premise that copying is stealing but it really is a, "It's not a tragedy of the commons, it's a tragedy of you're a dick. [slashdot.org]" situation.

      I think it's important to keep the distinction between piracy and theft clear, because theft is just an absurdly loaded word when in this context, but, let's not get crazy here. It's a goddamned dick move.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Thomas Jefferson argued very eloquently that so-called "copyright" is not in fact a natural right:

        "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the

        • Sure, but that's not law.

          Thomas Jefferson wasn't our only founding father. Thomas Jefferson was quite wrong about a few things. A wise, and able man, sure. A God? Not by a long shot.

  • by sam_paris (919837) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @01:59PM (#39355261)
    From the site:

    "Don't take it seriously The privacy policy, the contact us page — it’s all a joke. We came up with the idea of building a crawler like this and keeping the maintenance price under $300 a month. There was only one way to prove our theory worked — to implement it in practice. So we did. Now, we find ourselves with a big crawler. We knew what it did but we didn’t know how to use it. So we decided to make a joke out of it. That’s the beauty of jokes — you can make them out of anything."
  • by webheaded (997188)
    Read that as Saren at first. Too much Mass Effect for me. :3
  • by sanotto (1471085) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @02:58PM (#39356151)

    Yeah yeah, 'when I steal your DVD, you have no DVD, but when I copy a file, you still have a file'

    The real issue here is not that copying is stealing or otherwise a lost sale, the real deal is that the world has changed and the business model for media creation and distribution is DEAD. FULL STOP. No ammount of lobbying, no matter how many laws Hollywood can get of their payed puppets will change that. It's like the railroad owners of 19th century were sen't on destroying that new "invention" called automoviles and trucks that let anybody achieve transportation without giving them their share. Let's face it, I can go to the west coast without needing you, train company. Let's face it, I can get content without needing you, big media company. BUT!!!!! Big media produces the media I want, and the actors, directors producers etc. etc. needs their food too, so... What is needed is a new way to monetize content CREATION, note the word creation, not DISTRIBUTION. Nowadays distribution is FREE, as the roads are "FREE"... you owned the railroads, but you don't own the roads anymore, so for everybody's sake, stop trying to charge me for using the road and go invent some new way to get my money (Sell gas, sell insurance for my car, and so on). Because, like it or not, being fair or not, being legal or not, charging for distributing media is NO LONGER POSIBLE, and trying to "regulate" this is like trying to pass a law that abolishes gravity... it will not work.

  • by mjrauhal (144713) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @04:54PM (#39357621) Homepage

    Except, of course, it isn't, the implications are completely different, and even the law thinks they're completely separate issues. Just like with copyright infringement. The only difference is that people take "rape" already seriously as is, so it doesn't have to try to _co-opt_ the term for another, separate crime. 'cause that's what the whole business with conflating copyright infringement with theft is _all about_. Nobody gives a shit about copyright infringement, so they try to leech off the badwill for the word "theft". Hell, maybe they should just say that copyright infringement is raping the artist. It's just as true, and there's even more badwill to be gathered.

    Only reason they don't is that it'd take an even bigger moron to buy it.

    So fuck this douche with his support for the copyright newspeak.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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