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Copyright! 296

Posted by michael
from the send-lawyers-guns-and-money dept.
Slashdot's received a lot of submissions about RIAA actions recently, and the actions of colleges taken after the RIAA sent them nasty letters. One of the interesting things about this is that the RIAA is apparently not listing any specific offenders, just sending general warnings to any and all colleges with computer networks. Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, copyright holders acquired several new rights, with the promise they wouldn't abuse them. They're abusing them. (More...)

A good example is a demand letter to a Swiss university, ETH Zurich, which demands that the school immediately terminate all web pages with illegal MP3 files (illegal is of course a judicial decision; the letter presumes that all MP3s are illegal); that the school provide names and home addresses of all students with MP3 files hosted on the school's servers; that the school provide the date that those MP3 files were first hosted (for every MP3 on every server); and that the school provide the IP address for every machine anywhere on the internet which downloaded a MP3 file from the school's servers.

The letter closes with a carrot: we'll adjust our monetary demands based on how well you comply with this letter. Better hope your IP address doesn't appear too many times in those web server logs.

We can probably assume that the demands to U.S. schools are much the same - far-reaching, extortionate letters which are not specific about any particular infringement alleged to be occurring, but which are intended nonetheless to scare the universities into cracking down on their students. The terms of the compromise of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act were that the RIAA and related groups would do the policing of their copyrights - if they found a specific file that they alleged was unlawfully infringing, they have a procedure to follow, specific information to provide about the specific infringing file, and the ISP (college or whatever) is supposed to "do their part" by deleting/removing said file if the paperwork is correct. ISPs and colleges are not supposed to do the grunt work themselves - that results in the kind of overbroad crackdowns that we've seen. This was the subject of specific negotiations during the process of creating this law.

But the RIAA, of course, would prefer that schools and ISPs do their cracking down for them. So they send these general scare letters, hoping to trigger a reaction.

Scare tactics work. Universities scan through student computers, trying passwords on protected directories. The new Rio players will incorporate all of the RIAA's desired protections against copying of MP3 files - the price of settling the RIAA's lawsuit. The next target is Napster.

RIAA will now be filing suit against Napster, an application which effectively functions like a single purpose IRC server, connecting people who want to share MP3 files, whether legally or not. (There's a linux port of Napster; better download it quick.) Some schools, like Oregon State University, are so scared they're blocking all access to Napster servers from school systems. In the ideal world, Napster should probably win - the RIAA could monitor their servers and demand that infringing users be eliminated, but the service equally provides people with an avenue to share legal MP3 files, and this significant non-infringing use is all that is needed under copyright law. The article I just linked to and a nice Wired story both show Napster feebly trying to insist on their duties under the DMCA, saying that the RIAA needs to tell them in writing about specific instances of infringement - but the RIAA doesn't care about the law.

Napster, of course, has no money to fight a lawsuit. This is exactly what happened to the Rio: they won in court, but since the RIAA planned to appeal the suit and drain more money out of Diamond Multimedia, they settled by promising that future Rio's would include the RIAA's copyright protections. Like the Dentist's extortion tactics in Cryptonomicon[1], RIAA lawsuits are equally powerful whether they are on solid legal grounds or not - Napster will lose this suit, whether they win or lose, because the RIAA can afford the money to fight it and Napster cannot. So presumably Napster and RIAA will come to some agreement, settle the lawsuit, and Napster's next generation will incorporate the RIAA's demanded copyright protection system.

Just remember, RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen says she loves the idea of Napster to build communities, "but not on the backs of huge mega-corporations with billions of dollars of revenue quarterly."[2]

The RIAA is hardly the only abuser. The Business Software Alliance, essentially a front group for protecting Microsoft's copyrights, does similar things with regard to "pirated" software. (What a PR genius it was who thought of describing all copying of software as piracy! Probably the same person behind the "cyber-squatter" label for anyone who owns a domain that a company covets.) The BSA is now raiding homes of people accused of copying software.

The idea behind copyright is to expand the amount of information available to the public by creating a government-mandated monopoly on reproducing it - for a limited time (28 years maximum, at the beginning - today the maximum copyright term could be over 150 years). Copyright has always has the inherent give-back to society - the work would pass out of protection, and then anyone could copy it and use it as they saw fit. But copyright is now essentially unlimited - over the last twenty years, the length of the copyright period has increased by forty years, so that essentially no materials produced since World War I have entered the public domain. In about 15-18 years, copyright holders will again be petitioning Congress to extend the copyright term, so that entities like Mickey Mouse never enter the public domain. The extension is now being challenged as unconstitutional, but the challengers lost in District Court and it's far from certain that this suit can succeed.

In today's world, it's customary to speak of copyright as some sort of innate right. It isn't. It's there for the betterment of society, but its functioning, today, contributes nothing to society - all it is is a government-sanctioned monopoly transferring money from your pocket to others, with nothing ever given back - and no possibility of give-backs until 2019, under current law.

We need to rethink copyright. It's not a fundamental right of corporations to receive a 95-year government monopoly. Businesses plan on a five-year cycle - if something isn't forecast to make a return on investment in five years, it doesn't get done. A five-year grant of copyright to corporate authors would serve just as well in promoting the development of new material, and would bring a tremendous amount of material into the public domain, which is copyright's true intent. With a much smaller amount of material actually under copyright, enforcement of it would be far simpler and more straightforward.

But naturally this would cost certain companies a lot of money - they're used to wallowing in their government-granted monopoly. Disney has made back their costs for creating Mickey Mouse billions of times over, but they're used to the cash flow now and would be willing to buy an entire Congress to protect it. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act was passed with the aid of a great deal of subterfuge, but most importantly, a great deal of campaign contributions. Now you can be a criminal not just for actually copying anything, but for making a "device" (hardware or software) which facilitates copying - we're talking five years in Federal prison. Imagine doing five years in Federal prison so that Congress can protect their campaign donations, errr, I mean, Disney's cash flow.

We're extremely close to the day when debuggers are illegal. Through threats, strategic campaign donations, and outright extortion practiced on upstart companies, copyright-holders like the RIAA are building copyright protection into the very infrastructure of computing.

Making changes in this system requires a fundamental commitment from the U.S. populace that it be changed. The commitment doesn't exist yet, but as more and more people experience the power of copyright to affect what they can and cannot publish online, and the abuses of the companies dedicated to protecting copyright beyond the terms of the increasingly-protective law, perhaps it will in the future.

Some slashdot readers will no doubt say, "Open source, you idiot!" Open source is a reaction to these problems, not a solution to them. Despite the open source phenomenon, the trend is toward more and more works being locked up, and locked up permanently, behind laws and cryptographic protocols. It shouldn't have to be a war between words, pictures and code that is always free to use and words, pictures and code that is locked up for all eternity - we should demand that the social contract envisioned in the Constitution be fulfilled by forcing copyright holders to give back to society, whether they want to or not.

-- Michael Sims

[1] Gratuitous Cryptonomicon reference provided free of charge.

[2] Quote may not reflect Rosen's exact words, but does reflect her intent.

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Copyright!

Comments Filter:
  • Have any readers been affected by this? As a student at the Rochster Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, I've noticed more and more monitoring of potential warez and MP3z increase drastically over the past two years ...
  • by jsm2 (89962) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @05:12AM (#1529165)
    folks would be wanting to read this very fine text [berkeley.edu] on the econ. of copyright, which msakes the same points as the article on copyright-as-monopoly, in a slightly more rigourous fashion.

    jsm
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A look at history teaches us that these problems will reach a flashover point, and the lawmakers will be faced with amending the laws to limit the abuses or putting a large percentage of their constituencies in jail. At this point, they usually go for amending the laws.

    Unfortunately, history also teaches us that many innocent lives will be destroyed in the process, and many people whose only qualifications are a complete willingness to destroy those lives will make themselves very rich.

    To bad it's not realistically possible to hold lawmakers personally responsible for passing bad laws...

  • by Ravenfeather (21614) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @05:15AM (#1529168)
    At Emory, we get the following login message:


    NOTE: Any MP3, MP2 and GAME files not related to school and academic research will be deleted without advanced notice. If you need temporary disk space then type make_download and read the instructions.


    Whether or not anyone is actively checking through accounts for MP3 files, I can't say (I haven't had any in mine.) It is tempting, as a friend suggested, to rename all files to *.MP3, just to see what happens. After a thorough backup, of course.

  • by rde (17364)
    ...that the school provide names and home addresses of all students with MP3 files hosted on the school's servers
    So they're threatening that if the school doesn't furnish a list to which the RIAA isn't legally entitled, they'll have to pay money that they wouldn't otherwise have to fork over.
    IANAL and my knowledge of US Law is limited to watching reruns of Night Court, but this sounds suspiciously like extortion to me. Which is illegal.
  • These are extremly bad colors.
  • From my notebook of random thoughts:
    (Yes, really. These are the unedited musings of me last night.)

    Or perhaps consider the individual who has been granted a patent for a software engineering method in spite the existence of prior art. Most reports indicate that those being sued for patent infringement are likely to settle rather than litigate to have the patent invalidated because the accounting cost of a settlement is less. Regardless of the outcome, an injustice has been done because resources have been wasted. If litigation is pursued, some individuals will have assumed a financial burden that benefits their competitors...(absolutely and relatively)

    In fact, there is another reason for a powerful corporation to settle this suit. If no one challenges the patent, then those corporations which are best able to assume the cost of settlement will gain an advantage over any rival which is not so able. If one of those lesser competitors should pursue patent invalidation, the larger corporations still gain the same relative advantage and may even recoup the cost of settlement and perhaps damages as well.

    Perhaps a class action lawsuit should be brought to settle this case?

    It will also be an injustice if this individual is allowed to accumulate wealth through this 'legal fraud'.

    How should this have occurred? Simply put, the USPTO should not have granted the patent. But again they have every incentive to do so. Approving the patent incurs more fees. (?) The resulting litigation can only benefit them. (They will not be held accountable, there is really no penalty in this regard that does not get passed the the tax-payers.) It is in the interest of the largest corporations to permit this injustice in the USPTO because they can use similar tactics and the cost of settlement is always a relative benefit to them.
  • I'm both a student and a computer tech here at Drexel, and I'm seeing both sides of the issues. Everyone is having fun sharing their files, warez, etc on our campus network. Technically, we can bust them for the sharing of copyrighted software, as the usage policy we have everyone read before getting an account states that the sharing of copyrighted material is illegal. However, I don't think we've done anything against anyone in recent time, unless their server started taking obscene amounts of bandwidth, and just asked for the attention. Should the University be responsible for regularly scrubbing their network to see if any illegal activity is going on, or is this a case where it can wait until a complaint is raised by some other authority? It's always a mess, and frankly I'm not even sure if on a University level it's even feasable to constantly monitor the network for stuff like this. Any thoughts?
  • Why do people assume a company holding the rights to a particular creation is "wrong" or "unfair"?

    If you take that right away from corporations, you also take it away from individuals, individuals who may have spent years creating or inventing something.

    It's the Many ganging up on the Few to say, "We've decided you don't have the rights to your own creation anymore."
  • My school's had a couple run-ins with various agencies. One guy actually had the FBI looking at him last year. But, the admins aren't freaking out over this. They peruse the network, and see if anyone has any mp3's shared, yeah. But they don't go into any password protected folders. We just have one communal password that gets you into almost anybody's shared directories, and the admins leave us alone.

    Also, at least in my experience, the admins do not want to shut down ports, and kick people off the network. They would much rather ask a student who knows the network (such as myself) to leak the word that they are about to start searching for things, and to make sure that everything is passworded. There still has been some locking down of ports & such, but as far as I know, nobody has been kicked off the network since that guy last year.
  • The "baby diarrhea" yellow has got to go.
  • Either they will delete all mp3's, etc. or none at all. There is *no* way for someone to know if these files are related to school work if big brother doesn't know the context. I think they are trying to just scare people off.
  • its, not it's. sorry. i hate that.
  • Each of the Slashdot sections has its own color scheme -- since this was a "Your Rights Online" article, it gets the gold-and-brown thing.
    --G

    (or at least, so I think... or else moderate this as "just plain wrong" :) )
  • One of the worst things about provision of computer services is the dreadful privacy guarantees that they come with. If an ISP or University has no evidence of illegal activity by a user, then they ought not to examine that users files.


    Does anyone know of any organisations campaigning for better user rights. I saw an article at the ACLU complaining about much this same issue, but they don't seem to have made much of a fight out of it. Even a voluntary code as to what consitutes a reasonable conduct by service providers would be something.

  • It is not a problem since it's not from the government, right?
    And since this is a free market, you have a right to choose your harasser, eh.
    IOW: THERE ARE RIGHTS MORE IMPORTANT TO HUMANITY THAN THE PROPERTY OF BIG CORPORATIONS. Freedom, in particular.
  • This is bollocks.

    99.99 % of all copyrighted and traded content
    is NOT owned by individuals, but by large corporations. How many individuals do you know
    that 1. Spend years on creating content and 2. actually own their own creations.

    Your comment implicitly assumes that copyright
    is a natural human right. That is not so. RMS has plenty of writing that explains this.


  • The ironic thing is that the big companies make CDR discs and writers, which allows some people to collect massive amount of songs or illegal programs.

    Also, there is another company that has fought and won. Bleem! won against Sony, and they seem to have stabilized into allowing them to sell it. Napster is quite iffy, but why doesn't the RIAA sue AOL for its ICQ and AIM network file trafficing, which is probably ten times worse due to the huge amount of people. Or maybe freedrive?

    In a college network, ICQ is the way to transfer files between each other.

    I got a good laugh out of the nopiracy.com site. 109,000 jobs are lost per year to piracy. Let's see... you are just selling more copies instead of hiring more programmers, etc. So that just means more profits in reality.

    I think the inflection point is the growing hatred to corporations which is actually similiar to the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages. The church started going for pure profit through its "Buy your way to Heaven" plan and the Protestant movement started a major change in how people viewed the church. But this is just rambling.
  • Suppose a university was monitoring network traffic to try to weed out a potential mp3 ftp site and they found what they think to be an ftp site except all the files tranmittied are pgp encrypted. Can they legally demand that you hand over your pgp keys?
  • I would argue that the company or individual has no "right" to their creation, other than property rights to the physical instances that they create. Patents and copyrights are better viewed as privileges granted by the state for the purpose of improving the public welfare, not as natural rights.
  • Not to mention that the muscle behind the GPL is strictly tied to copyright. Without copyright the GPL wouldn't mean shit. Sure you might be able to "pirate" binaries, but anybody who got their hands on any piece of source could use it any way they wanted.

    -sw
  • At our place we've recieved little pressure from the RIAA (granted we're not a big U. by any means.) We've gotten one letter this year targeting a specific student which we shutdown because it was a blatant violation. We're pretty forgiving here, and we tend to look the other way on some stuff as long as it doesn't affect other users by taking up bandwidth, etc.

    I know for a fact that we have quite a few people using napter here because of nightly portscans and such. However at this point we have no plans to shut them down. We have no way to prove they are providing illegal mp3s without sniffing actual packets and getting some of the songs coming from their computers (or at least titles.)
    We do delete any and all "illegal looking" mp3s on the public areas of our servers, but we tend to not look at user's home directories.

    I guess our philosophy is that whatever they do, they are learning, and we don't want to interfere with that unless it is outright blatant copyright violations or it starts affecting other users on the system by hogging bandwidth.
  • There have already been instances of abuses under the Digitial Millenium act, for example Sue Mullaney's webpage, which was discussed in Salon [salon.com] and also on her own page [primenet.com].

  • Isn't this grossly illegal under the Privacy Act?

    IANAL, but my understanding is that it pretty much requires written permission of the student before the school is permitted to release anything to anybody. And since they are trying to coerce the university into breaking the law on that point, doesn't this open the door for student class-action RICO suits against the RIAA? (RICO, imnho, is an unconstitutionally strong law, itself, -- but is plenty strong to completely break up the RIAA, if if it loses!).

  • "...acquired several new rights, with the promise they wouldn't abuse them..."

    So what is the punishment? Who has the power to take away the rights? When (exactly)? What is the due process of prosecution for this violation?

  • ...at least, not in the last 50 years.

    As the article points out, the big corporates have been able, in practice, to make copyrights last as long as they want. They've been doing this for literally decades, and a system exists for perpetuating this process, and for silencing its critics (at least, the dangerous ones that seek legal action).

    When an American is jailed, s/he often loses the right to vote (IANAL, so if someone could clarify this, please do); hence, s/he is no longer a constituent. For a politician with a strong "installed" constituency in groups not affected by this phenomenon, this is an enormous benefit -- potential naysayers are eliminated from the democratic process.

    Given that political participation is higher among older age groups (most of which are ignorant of what software piracy is, let alone participate in it), it is safe to assume that a large percentage -- perhaps a majority -- of incumbents have more incentive to fill the jails with people who would either not vote, or vote against him. Hence the Drug war (which has similar demographics). Hence the defense of otherwise indefensible intellectual property laws. Hence a larger prison population per capita that many developing nations, and virtually all industrialized ones.

    Of course, if the young in America were genuinely politically active, there might be politicians with their careers at stake over this. But we've forsaken them, so they'll forsake us. If there is no other incentive to elect people -- preferrably someone you believe in, no matter what their party affiliation or chance of winning -- let this be it.

    phil

  • So let me get this straight: authors, artists, and other people with unique talents spend their lives sweating over typewriters or playing music in shitty bars, and you want to take the fruits of their labors without payment? After they sacrifice their lives to hone their skills and abilities, betting everything on the of chance that they could become successful in an unforgiving field? Bah. I guess you have never been in a situation where your next meal depends on the royalties from a novel... or a song... or a program.

    A society based on your give-back principle would be a very gray society... No one would bother producing anything new. You can't say "give me" without giving back- in this case, paying the people who produce for you the things you enjoy.

    Scudder

  • Once interesting place - in the middle ogf all this is myplay.com - they give you 250MB of disk space to upload mp3s. The main idea is that you can access your own stuff anywhere in the world with a network connection.

    But the interesting thing is their new 'Share' feature where you can make up a playlist of music you own... and let anyone hear it.....

    All very nice - make your own little radio stations - 2 years ago I had to write mp3serv if I wanted to do mp3 radio.

    Anyway..... you still have to follow the DMCA rules on programming. So myplay are another company who are staying within the limits they see in the legislation.

    I wonder how they see the legal action against napster?
  • I think you're preaching to the choir here.

    The problem, as I see it, is that elected officials can't afford to turn their backs on corporate campaign contributors.

    What legislator (or presidential candidate) is going to oppose copyright extension? Not only are the proponents of such legislation huge campaign donors, but they also provide the very advertising space the candidates want to buy!

    Such a system guarantees that the interests of the IP barons will be protected abover nearly all else. Barring a complete rework of the electoral process (including campaign finance), this will not change. (And perversely, those in power have the most to lose if the system were to change, hence they've no interest in pursuing this course.)

    At this point, with elected officials completely co-opted, the only hope for sanity rests in the appointed members of the judicial system, who are the only people who can afford to turn away from the Disneys of the world (without worry of retribution at the next election when Disney/GE/whomever will throw money at an opposition candidate to oust the incumbent).

    And, of course, there are limits to what the judicial system can accomplish - it is merely reactive in nature. Existing laws can be struck down, but new regulations can not be drafted in the courtroom, except where existing law authorizes this explicitly (i.e. sentencing, antitrust remedies, etc).

    IANAL, of course, but I'm not optimistic.

  • It strikes me that the RIAA behaves much the same way Microsoft does/did, and obviously those tactics lead to them being declared a monopoly. Is it possible for the DOJ to pursue the RIAA on anti-trust charges for the abuse of monopolistic powers?

    The RIAA certainly does not act in the interest of the consumer (or the artist for that matter), and they abuse contractual, monetary, and legal barriers to keep new technologies, new recording startups, and even new artists from entering the market. Sure sounds like another monpoly.

    I realize there is no single company here, but isn't there some kind of protection to stop an industrial group from abusing their powers?
  • by adimarco (30853) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @05:43AM (#1529205) Homepage
    Rant:

    I couldn't agree more that the copyright system is in need of serious modification, if not outright elimination. The rabid libertarians (and believe me, I consider myself one) will scream at me about the right of an individual to profit from their labor. Blah Blah fucking Blah. I agree in principle, but:

    We're moving into a new world here, ladies and gentlemen. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, it's time to evolve ideas. The reason our cherished institutions (religion, government, intellectual property, etc.) are crumbling around us is because They Are No Longer Relevant. It's as simple as that. The ideas just don't apply any more. They're outdated. The world has changed. It's time to move on.

    Unfortunately, "moving on" (at least as us idealist type geeks have envisioned it) involves radical concepts like giving things away for free. Ideas like this are dangerous. They scare the living shit out of the entrenched power structure (which tells us over and over again about how it nailed this guy to a tree about 2000 years ago for daring to suggest ideas like that) If we were to start thinking in that direction, we might do something really radical like abandon our current concept of money (just an example, don't go there ;).

    So, keep buying those $18 CDs guys. You're supporting the artist you know.

    Anthony

    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • I don't think organizations like the EFF actively pursue the issue of drasticly reducing copyright durations. ("Drasticly" may sound extreme, but that's only because they've already been drasticly increased, with no benefit to the consumer whatsoever.)

    Are there any organizations which specifically advocate copy-right term reduction?
    Maybe we should start one.
  • If the RIAA ever REALLY wanted to police the world themselves, all they would really need to do is raid one, single college campus. The same goes with other Pirated stuff....go to a college campus. The RIAA is just too incredibly lazy to do much of anything on their own and they, just like every bully on this plante, has to use scare tactics to accomplish their goals. If they were to happen to come up against a corporation larger than themselves they would surely lose, due to lack of funding and scare tactics. They, IMHO, ar ejust a bunch of overgrown sissies that can no longer function in today's society. They have proven over and over that they're nothing more than drugged-out, acid-tripping fools that can't find a better way to do things. If you want a monopoly look here. The RIAA has it. They've got control right now over the ENTIRE music industry....well...RIAA: FUCK YOU.
  • Do people with a photographic memory have to buy or pay for every book they see (or image they view)? Poor buggers...

    Anyone wondered about that?

    And who owns the light (or image contained in it) once it leaves the projector...

    We own all rights to this work and any elctromagnetic particles that are reflected or refracted through,by or from it :-)
  • As I understand it - the US government claims that you can only sue it if it decides to let itself be sued. (And yes, this is a Cooper pair of bogons.)

    I wasn't thinking of a class-action suit against the USPTO however. I was thinking that any smaller corporations or individuals faced with such spurious IP suits should cooperate in the invalidation of said claims of IP. This will minimize their costs and perhaps even entice the larger corporations to join in.
  • This is a period of major disinterest in American politics, because the general public feels it cannot affect the system. Links like these scare me, but they are not only online issues. People with no access to the internet feel the same disillusionment slashdot readers do, we are merely seeing a national trend reflected here [slashdot.org], in discussions I have seen in the past few days, in fact the whole time I have been reading this site. Slashdot readers have no monopoly on cynicism, look at the voter turnouts in America.

    Look at the comments on the Gore/Microsoft [slashdot.org] story. As long as politicians need money for campaigns, they will be, or be perceived to be, in the pockets of corporations whose pockets I can't match. They want to be reelected: they /can't/ change the laws because then they risk losing that source of money to get reelected. Each professional politician, in his hubris, believes that if only he can stay in office long enough, he can accomplish his idealistic goals. But he gets so caught up in staying in office that he never gets around to those goals.

    This recursion can only be broken by term limits, finance reform, and getting the corporations out of politics. But these three things are necessary to produce these three things, and I personally have no idea where to start. I write my congressman: I get a form letter back, my letter gets listed on a statistical analysis of letters that came in that day, the man never sees it. I vote: I get caught in a twisty maze of politicians who all sound alike. I'm 20 and in college, I really can't afford the time or money to run for office myself, if there are even any open to 20-year-olds. Even if I won, I would need to stay in office long enough to cause change; spot that damn recursion? What else can I do?

  • Simply being jailed doesn't remove your right to vote, you have to be convicted of a felony. There have been some interesting pieces on this phenomena with regard to a worsening situation where many demographics are becoming politically non-existant due to high felony rates, especially with low income, inner-city minorities where the charge is most often drug-related.

  • Over the past twenty years or so, most (if not all) of L. Frank Baum's "Oz" books have entered the public domain.

    There have been a variety of works based on the books; new books, graphic novels and comic books, even an animated movie. Those works have been unable to use certain characters from the books, until those characters' first appearances moved into the public domain.

    Few works from 75-100 years ago have the staying power to maintain the public interest today, and to do so in a fashion that allows the copyright holders to continue to make a profit.

    This (I believe) may not have been grandfathered into the "life plus 50" ruling, since all of the books would have entered the public domain at the same time.

    Note that there have also been derivative works based on the MGM movie; that is not in the public domain, and presumably those works (including a (IMHO) fairly bad Saturday morning cartoon) have had to pay royalties.
  • by adimarco (30853) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @05:52AM (#1529220) Homepage
    Giant impersonal corporation is trying to screw you.

    I would say that this is a very defendable proposition. Wouldn't you? Maybe not all the time as you suggest, but my experience in the corporate sector has shown me that (for the most part) they don't give any more of a shit about you or me than they have to in order to get our money. The corporate world revolves around the bottom line. Keep that in mind at all times.

    Nope, they never have a case or a legitmiate point, they are just trying to give you the bone.

    I'm sure in many cases they do have legitimate points. We're just as wack as they are sometimes ;) Either way, discussion forums like this are a great way for people to bring into the open and discuss/debate the relevant issues in the case.

    Would you rather we just shut the fuck up about it? I'm sure they would.

    Anthony

    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • Sure, delete.... ok. But the Spanish Inquisition? I think not.
  • According to this /. poll [slashdot.org], only 5% of /. readers are female. (The demographics may have altered since last February, of course.) But the advertisers are probably aware that the readership here is primarily male, and make some assumptions as to what will get their attention! ;-)

    Anyhow, as a chick, I ignore those ads. (ZDNet shows them all the time.) Certainly, they may be denigrating to women - but then again, how many women are going to buy from them? (I should mention I have bought from Copyleft and Thinkgeek, who have more tasteful banner ads on /., so companies like X10 are losing a chance to get my business.) I don't think I care if /. runs the cheesecake ads ... but I won't be clicking on those ad banners!!!

    YS
  • I am not talking about putting MP3's on university servers. It is illegal and they should be deleted if they are freely accessible.

    A campusnetwork is a different thing alltogether. At my university in Europe, we have the following arrangement. The University acts as a Telco provider (NOT as an ISP). They have handed all control of the network over to a student foundation. This foundation is only responsible for the network and support, not for what is on somebodies pc.

    Through this arrangement it is impossible for a RIAA like organisation to demand that the university take action (or the foundation) for they have no control over the pc's. Just like AT&T cannot demand that AOL takes something of their servers.

    This has worked perfectly for 4 years now. Whenever a student was identified to have done something illegal, the actions had to be directed against the student and the physical location of his PC. IANA(american)L. But maybe y'all could have your uni lawyers have a look at this setup and maybe it might just make life alot easier for you MP3 sharing peoples and uni sysadmins.

    Just my two cents. BTW I am not naming my uni because it is better to let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Do copyrights still need to be renewed? I know they used to require renewal, and that even Disney and Warner Brothers allowed some old cartoons (mostly WWII-related US propaganda material) to enter the public domain. I've got some of the tapes, which were inexpensive to purchase.

    The deal seemed to be that they could state that the tape contained a Daffy Duck or Donald Duck cartoon, but they had to be very careful not to look like an actual Disney/WB product.

    So, are renewals still needed under current law?
  • Copyright was invented to protect the commercial interests of authors/artists, but publishers/studios like those represented by RIAA are now the only ones being protected. We are all familiar with the difficulty that artists, musicians, performers, and authors have in getting published, maintaining legal and editorial control of their works, and getting adequately compensated.

    Further, the "art" we do end up with *must* have commercial value to be distributed to the masses -- which is why we are subjected to vapid "entertainment" instead of art. How much real art has been ignored, or never performed, because commercial interests would not be served? How much garbage has been disseminated because commercial interests are being served?

    Developers created the idea of Free Software because they wanted to perform good work, and were willing to forgo possible monetary gain to do so. RMS et al recognized that Bill Gates is a fluke, and that we shouldn't punish ourselves by allowing proprietary software to make us unproductive developers, in hopes that we would someday hit the lottery.

    Artists need to make the same leap. Do you all *really* want to be the next Stephen King, or Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Milli Vanilli? Or are you interested in doing something meaningful?

    For artists or developers, the lesson is the same: give up the dreams of mega-bucks, and do what makes you happy, and all the rest of us richer.

    Put your works on the net. Make it clear that anyone can distribute them. Also make it clear that your authorship must be recognized, and no others can claim copyright. Your work will be enjoyed, and will be experienced by many more people than any studio or publisher could ever offer. That's what you really want.


  • We'll miss you, man. Have a nice life.
  • I agree that articles about corportions screwing you are tiresome, if not misleading, but I have to admit that it is tough for a big company to look good with all the crap they do. Small companies tend to do a lot better at looking good without lots of PR hype.

    However, I would debate that this article, at least the way I see it, is not about that. It's about copyright and how, in this day and age where copying is so easy, that the law is in need of some major revision. Copying physical entities exactly is a difficult thing to do and copyright as of now is good for that. Copying books in physical form is not worth the effort and considering the benefit I get from them, I am willing to comply with copyright on that book in the form as we now have it.

    Software and the digital form of such entities, however, is much different. Copying can take place in a matter of seconds and takes little to no effort. Old laws here become pointless. Anything in digital form is not difficult to distribute. People can easily obtain copies from somewhere other than a store or a small set of distributors. Now, it is simple to get a copy from a friend. Limiting this not only annoys consumers, but it binds their hands, so to speak. People like to be able to do this. It makes things easier for them. Some artists/creators of items distributable in digital form realize this and cater to it. However, most companies cling to the notion of old rules in a new medium, thinking that it will actually work.

    There is far too much tension between these viewpoints. Obviously something has to be done. Trying to enforce these old laws will only result in more tension. Articles like this hopefully get people thinking about this and saying something about it. I think you were a bit hasty to judge this article as crap.

    Woz
    gzw@home.com
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is insightful??? please, the authors, etc. have the copyright their whole life and 50 years after they die. so 50 years after they die, is when the give-back happens. learn to think.
  • Last Friday we blocked all access to the napster domain; basically, NOC freaked out when they realized that >30GB of traffic in a single day were napster sends and recieves. This is a big problem for universities b/c people don't necessarily realize that they are sharing their files, and since the connection speed is very fast, the university network in effect becomes a target.

    Personally, I hate to see the 'net restricted like this, but bandwidth is $$$, and the traffic to napster had nowhere to go but up. University networks *are* supposed to be available for actual work to get done once and ahwile. ;)

    ~Tiroth
  • Of course "scare tactics" work. The act/treaties themselves specifically make an effort to protect ISP's and providers from the liability of illegal data they're indirectly providing by way of their customer's/users' web sites, so the RIAA doesn't have that much of a case against the universities. The RIAA would first have to provide the university with details such as the IP address doing the illegal redistribution. At that point, the university becomes legally obligated to do something about it (investigate if nothing else). If they fail to remove the offending resource after enough information is provided by the RIAA, the RIAA has grounds to sue. That's the extent of the issue here.

    Let's get real here: Universities know that their students are trading MP3's and warez illegally on their dorm ethernets. Some turn a blind eye to it, others devote some meager resources to fighting it. None consider it a top priority to investigate, because it would entail devoting a lot of resources.

    These letters from the RIAA are in no way a summons or a subpoena. It's just a "warning" from the RIAA that states they're going to attempt to hold the universities accountable for their student's actions unless the servers in question are put to a stop. As best as I can tell, that's all the university is obligated to try and do (if that) from these letters.

    Yes, all it is is a scare tactic. Since when is this worthy of a Slashdot article? These things happen all the time, and are perfectly legal. Paraphrased, their letter reads, "We will take you to court (ask a judge whether we are right or wrong and if you should be helping us) if you fail to help us remove MP3 redistributors from your network."

    that the school immediately terminate all web pages with illegal MP3 files (illegal is of course a judicial decision; the letter presumes that all MP3s are illegal);

    So in order to classify something as illegal, you have to have a judge order it so in your specific case? "Why yes, judge, I killed him, but it wasn't illegal!" Come on, every one of those kids knows what they're doing breaks copyright law. Every public web site/share that contains MP3 files of known artists/songs (at least) means that user is re-distributing MP3's illegally. You don't need a court case to see that. If I had a bunch of MP3's of my own private works or items not copyrighted by others, and the university came to me and told me to shut it down, all I should have to do is let the university know this fact and everything should be fine. And before you start going off about "guilty until proven innocent" remember this is a university we're talking about, not the government.

    Better hope your IP address doesn't appear too many times in those web server logs.

    Yah because I'm sure the RIAA is going to go to ever IP address that has ever downloaded an MP3 and track each and every person down via their ISP.

    "Umm yah, hi, this is the RIAA. We have a list of 132 IP's from your ISP over the course of 18 months. We'd like you to go into your dialup logs and give us the names and addresses of the users that had these IP's at that time."

    Let's be realistic here and avoid the biased slurs when reporting "news" to us.

    ISPs and colleges are not supposed to do the grunt work themselves - that results in the kind of overbroad crackdowns that we've seen. This was the subject of specific negotiations during the process of creating this law.

    Correct. But if the ISP's are *willing* to do so after a simple letter like this, then the RIAA has accomplished something. Granted, it's pretty evil of the RIAA, but it's all very legal.

    Most major universities have a legal staff of their own that can see these letters for what they're worth. (In other words, they're not as clueless as you seem to think every corporation/non-human legal entity is.) This legal staff will no doubt become familiar with the laws in question and be able to report *factually* to the university as to what is required on their part. (Note: Factually does not include Slashdot articles or comments by 99.5% of its users.) Reasons a university might be willing to take the initiative on their own:
    • PR. If a university steps up and proudly weeds out a bunch of evil MP3/warez-trading kids from their university network, they get a reputation for it. People start to see that university as one that doesn't tolerate these types of people and one that puts scholastic achievement ahead of a waste of university network resources. Universities that choose not to comply with the conditions might be viewed as a "warez kiddie university", a haven for kiddies that like to trade MP3's and warez.
    • To avoid legal hassles. Granted, their liability is limited without specific instances of copyright violation, many small universities may not have the funds/resources with which to object to the RIAA's pleas. A handful of students can probably be much more efficiently investigated than a larger university might be able to do.
    • Because they don't know any better. Some universities may just not have competant legal staff (or may not have legal folks at all), nor would they be willing to spend money on any (see previous).
    • Because they honestly weren't aware of the problem on their networks, and generally make a huge effort to keep their students honest and legal.
    The BSA is now raiding homes of people accused of copying software.

    They wouldn't be allowed to do so without a search warrant, and a search warrant would require convincing a judge that it's needed. They couldn't just do this on a whim, so I hardly see how this could be construed as an "abuse" of BSA's copyright "enforcement" abilities.

    all it is is a government-sanctioned monopoly transferring money from your pocket to others

    OH MY GOD! PEOPLE ARE MAKING MONEY OFF OF THEIR IDEAS AND/OR HARD WORK! LET'S KILL THEM!

    If you have concerns about current copyright terms, write your congressman. Don't post some foolish Slashdot note, and PLEASE try to collect your facts before you do so. I shudder to think how many letters my congressmen get that are from just plain uneducated people that have no clue about the things they are vehemently opposed to (or in favor of).

    copyright-holders like the RIAA are building copyright protection into the very infrastructure of computing.

    I fail to see how this is a bad thing. If you don't want there to be such a thing as copyright and/or trademarks, just come out and say it. At least then we can be sure what it is you're fighting against. I too feel that copyright terms are a bit lengthy, but I don't think we should abolish copyrights entirely.

    but as more and more people experience the power of copyright to affect what they can and cannot publish online

    I'm sorry, but I cannot subscribe to your interpretation of this whole MP3 fiasco. The kids were KNOWINGLY breaking the law by redistributing MP3's illegally. I mean come on, realistically, how many of these people think they're acting legally by ripping their CD's and putting them up for download?

    we should demand that the social contract envisioned in the Constitution be fulfilled by forcing copyright holders to give back to society, whether they want to or not.

    If they were trying to make a statement against excessive copyright, even then I fail to see how redistributing MP3's of modern works would help that cause. If anything, it seems as though you're against excessive copyright terms. I think the new Metallica CD will still fall under whatever "new" copyright laws that come about, so it seems unfair to say that this latest MP3 thing has anything to do with limiting copyright terms. The bottom line is that these people are breaking the law, and in most all cases, they knew it. If you are successful in changing copyright law more to your liking, I seriously doubt trading MP3's like this will ever be legal.
  • by root (1428) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @06:21AM (#1529247) Homepage

    We need Congress to enact a law spelling out a list of things consumers may do with copyrighted materials they purchase (CDs, software, video games, movies, etc) that are explicitly guranteed to be legal and to bar lawsuits filed directly against the consumer for exercising these rights. These rights would also preempt and override anything vendors try to write into the license.

    With this in mind, I hereby propose the following "Consumer Fair Use Bill of Rights" that among these rights shall include:

    (1) The RIGHT to convert copyrighted media [*] to a different format. e.g., copy CDs to to Cassette for the car or to copy a DVD to VHS for viewing in the bedroom (where a 2nd DVD player is not present).

    (2) The RIGHT to make compilations of copyrighted media [*] for their own use. e.g., combine tracks from several CDs onto one CD.

    (3) The RIGHT to make a backup copy of copyrighted media [*] for archival purposes. e.g., backup that PSX game, as kids are often burtal to delicate CDs and one scratch can too easily ruin a $70USD game.

    (4) The RIGHT to rent copyrighted materials [*] to others for a fee. This is allowed by well entrenched precedent for movies but needs to be explicitly allowed for all copyrighted media (video games, audio CDs, and software).

    (5) The RIGHT to record unowned copyrighted broadcast material (including Satellite and cable as well as over the air) for time-shift-viewing purposes. e.g., legally record a movie from your subscribed HBO channel while you're at work for viewing later that night or on the weekend.

    (6) The RIGHT to allow certain other 3rd parties to view copyrighted materials you acquired [*]. e.g., explicitly allow for all residents of the household to view the DVD Dad bought or use the software Dad bought, and explicit allowance for other relatives and friends to view/use the copyrighted material in a non-commercial manner. e.g., make it explicitly legal to invite a friend or SO over to watch your DVD.

    (7) The RIGHT of consumers to modify their own equipment and for the necessary parts and optional installation service to be legally available in order to carry out the above 6 rights. Additionally, the sale of already modified devices shall be explicitly allowed. e.g., I legally bought import PSX games and import DVDs and need my playstation/DVD player to play them and grant me access to what I paid for legitimately.

    Write your representative and senator and copy them this message! Raise this issue on any wide-reaching media (TV, radio) you have access to. Get people talking about it.

    [*] of course this refers to copyrighted material legally acquired by the consumer.

  • by Robert Link (42853) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @06:25AM (#1529252) Homepage

    Nope, they never have a case or a legitmiate point

    Enlighten us. What is their "case or legitimate point" for demanding that all MP3s be removed from campus networks without any proof that any of them infringe any copyrights? What is their case for demanding that products with legitimate, legal uses be pulled from the market or crippled because they "might" be used to illegally copy copyrighted material? What is their case for using the civil justice system as a club to get restrictions enforced that they could never get past a duly elected legislature (even one as heavily influenced by campaign contributions as ours is)? What is thier case for demanding that they be allowed to keep their copyrights for over 4 times the length of time originally envisioned by the writers of the Constitution? What is their case for continuing to own a copyright decades after the person who did the actual creative work is dead; for that matter, what is their case for being entitled to nearly a century of profits for work done by someone else? (Reality check: how many musicians sit on the board of recording companies? How many authors sit on the board of publishing companies?)


    In other words, your objection would be more credible if you actually addressed the (IMO quite serious) issues the article raised, instead of just slinging names.


    Corporations exist to maximize their bottom line profits. For the most part they will use every legal means at their disposal to achieve that goal. That means that we have to make sure the law really does do what we want it to, and only what we want it to. If any loophole exists, you can be sure businesses will exploit it. Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to people making an honest profit. I am not even opposed to people getting filthy rich by making honest profit by the bushell (although I do think that as a society we place far too much emphasis on this dubious goal). However, if a law has negative consequences that outweigh its benefits, then that law can and should be changed. That some corporation depends on that law to make staggering amounts of money concerns me not in the least. I am not out to put anyone out of business, but I do not think they have a God-given right to make their executives and stockholders rich at everyone else's expense.


    In this case, I think it is clear that there are some fairly negative consequences to the copyright laws as they stand; viz., they produce a chilling effect on legitimate uses of technology, and due to the long copyright terms, the copyrighted material is effectively never given back to the public domain, as was originally intended. We should be thinking about how we can fix copyrights so that these problems are mitigated or eliminated, while retaining the incentive to publish original music, manuscripts, programs and so on. We also need to end the abuse of the civil justice system and put the burden of proof back on the accuser. (Yes, I know, technically it is on the accuser, but having rights does you no good if you can't even afford to set foot in a courtroom to defend them.) If these reforms mean that record executives will wind up making only 5 times
    instead of 100 times the median household income, (and don't let them fool you into thinking that they will be sent to the poorhouse by reforms; it just won't happen--people will always be willing to pay a fair price for quality entertainment) well, those are the breaks. Nobody promised you a rose garden.


    -r

  • Giving things away for free is fine and dandy, but creating value means that when one person gives away something to another, the other ought to give him something of value in return. That's called justice...

    Uuh, no. That's called greed.

    Something GIVEN has no value. Value exists only in exchange, and even then only as a shadowy abstract concept.

    If you're expecting something in return, that's not giving something away at all, that's bartering. That's an exchange, not a gift. HUGE difference: In one case, you're acting selflessly (working for the good of others), in the other case, you're acting selfishly (working for the good of yourself).

    Do yourself a favor and read some R. Buckminster Fuller. I can't remember the exact quote or location, but he once said that he'd figured mathematically that in the long run, it's always in your own best interest to work for the common good (possibly because the "common good" includes, guess who, *you*).

    And yes, you are supporting the artist. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

    Out of a $16 CD sale, approximately $1 goes to the artist. Yeah, support that artist, defend the rights of corporations to profit from the labor of others who they've signed into indentured servitude, buy that VP another yacht.

    ...regardless of whether lazy bums or crybabies want something of value handed to them for free.

    Sound logic. Very mature. :-P

    Anthony

    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • Either way, discussion forums like this are a great way for people to bring into the open and discuss/debate the relevant issues in the case

    No offense, but I think 99.9% of the people posting to YRO articles are of a like bias. Nearly every post I read in the YRO is overwhelmingly in agreement with the author's take/bias on the issue at hand.

    True open discussion would require a more balanced number of participants. As it stands now, YRO pieces seem like they're more a place for privacy activists to get together and preach to each other than a place for true discussion.

    At least that's how I see it.

    I consider myself a reasonably educated, moderate-to-liberal guy, and while I tend to be right down the middle with a lot of relatively controversial articles, with every SINGLE YRO piece I am consistently on the opposite end of the spectrum from nearly every other poster I see here.

    Now I guess an explanation for this could be that I am usually pretty main stream except when it comes to topics such as what are brought up under YRO pieces, at which point I become violently skewed to one extreme, or that there is a serious lack of "the other head of the coin" in YRO posts.
  • Why do people assume a company holding the rights to a particular creation is "wrong" or "unfair"?

    If you take that right away from corporations, you also take it away from individuals, individuals who may have spent years creating or inventing something.

    It's the Many ganging up on the Few to say, "We've decided you don't have the rights to your own creation anymore


    It's not an objection to them owning it, it's an objection to them owning it for ETERNITY. Why does Mark Twain care what we do with his books? He's DEAD! We could all xerox (Uhoh, now they'll be suing me too) every book he's ever written and distribute them free of charge and he wouldn't bat an eye (Dead people aren't prone to sudden movement). So why is it STILL illegal to do so? Because some random publisher bought the rights to his work so that THEY could make money off of something they didn't create and shouldn't own!

    Kintanon
  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @06:39AM (#1529266)
    Limiting this not only annoys consumers, but it binds their hands, so to speak

    So what's to stop somebody then from making a digital copy of some company's latest work and redistributing it to a list of free subscribers, completely bypassing their need to pay for what you've created.

    I won't disagree that copyright laws need some changes, but I do disagree in the extent of those changes. A lot of people here seem to want them abolished in the case of digital works because of the "ease" of duplication. If unlimited digital reproduction were ever legalized, it would have disastrous consequences for producers of all digital works.

    Everyone would start (through free and public channels) redistributing everything everyone ever released in digital form (CD's, movies, books, etc.), and the authors would never receive a dime for their efforts. For that reason, authors would cease producing and the industry would shrivel up and disappear.
  • Well, here we go:

    Enlighten us. What is their "case or legitimate point" for demanding that all MP3s be removed from campus networks without any proof that any of them infringe any copyrights?

    Well, since unsigned bands aren't represented by the RIAA, I'm sure they don't care about those MP3s. Obviously they are going after pirated music, which is their right under the law. So some kids who are stupid enough to put their music warez or whatever they call them are going to get smacked. Good. Just becuase you disagree with the concept of IP doesn't mean you can ignore the law.

    What is their case for demanding that products with legitimate, legal uses be pulled from the market or crippled because they "might" be used to illegally copy copyrighted material?

    Silly me, I thought private companies had the right to make whatever agreements between each other they wanted to. If a company is making products that don't fail some legal test, why shouldn't they go to court to stop those items from being distributed?

    )? What is thier case for demanding that they be allowed to keep their copyrights for over 4 times the length of time originally envisioned by the writers of the Constitution?

    There is no time limit for copyrights mentioned int the US Consitution.

    ? What is their case for continuing to own a copyright decades after the person who did the actual creative work is dead; for that matter, what is their case for being entitled to nearly a century of profits for work done by someone else?

    Why shouldn't a person's estate be allowed to profit from the person's work?

    I'm going to skip your middle paragraph.

    In this case, I think it is clear that there are some fairly negative consequences to the copyright laws as they stand; viz., they produce a chilling effect on legitimate uses of technology, and due to the long copyright terms, the copyrighted material is effectively never given back to the public domain, as was originally intended

    That's funny I see a whole bunch of stuff at say, Project Gutenberg, that is PD.


    If these reforms mean that record executives will wind up making only 5 times
    instead of 100 times the median household income,


    Ah, I knew this would come down to this in the end. The "wah, they charge too much for music so I am going to steal it" argument. Look, you don't have the right to other peoples things, and its wrong to take things without permission. My mom taught me this when I was like, 3 years old. I guess such an idea is far to antiquated in today's soceity.



  • Since you're in a mood to give away things for free, can I have your computer?

    no, but I'll give you all the software on it, copies of every CD I own, VCD of all my movies, and everything else that I can give away to enrich your life and still have to enrich my own.

    Digital media changes the very nature of these products, our laws should change to compensate (except that the people who own the people that make the laws don't wanna, 'cause then their grandkids *might* have to get a fscking job)
  • If I'm a med student writing a thesis you are right in theory. However what if I'm a music student, and those are really mp3s, of my preformance. Of course they are on comptuer because I'm doing digital editing, and mp3 because no school provides me enough disk space for a lossless recording.

    By in theory above I mean that in theory you can deduce what a file is by the extention, but in practice that is neither true nor desirable. Many people I know have no idea what the extentions are for or what they mean. Further in non-dos enviroments using a dot may be a useful way of seperating things out. Thesis.mp3 might be version 3 of my malpractice thesis, while Thesis.oh7 would be version 7 of my open heart surgery thesis. Okay, so it is a stupid naming scheme, but I've seen math professors who name files 29dj6221 and other such meaningless things - invariably these people do not belive in subdirectories.

  • If no computer professional would work for companies like the RIAA, they would quickly find themselves going out of business in a digital world. How might we go about arranging that? Hmm...
  • Looks really good, but a couple of quibbles:

    (4) The RIGHT to rent copyrighted materials [*] to others for a fee. This is allowed by well entrenched precedent for movies but needs to be explicitly allowed for all copyrighted media (video games, audio CDs, and software). This will be pretty problematic. It is too much like what the software companies already do - and without specific subletting rights, this might not change anything.

    Also, software is a little different than other media, because it can only be used in a machine which automatically duplicates it. Do we want to see software which can only be run from the CD?

    (5) The RIGHT to record *unowned* copyrighted broadcast material (including Satellite and cable as well as over the air) for time-shift-viewing purposes. e.g., legally record a movie from your subscribed HBO channel while you're at work for viewing later that night or on the weekend.

    The concept of "unowned" is unclear here. Does "broadcast" cover what you're trying to do here, or are there other circumstances where this might apply?

    (6) The RIGHT to allow certain other 3rd parties to view copyrighted materials you acquired [*]. e.g., explicitly allow for all residents of the household to view the DVD Dad bought or use the software Dad bought, and explicit allowance for other relatives and friends to view/use the copyrighted material in a non-commercial manner. e.g., make it explicitly legal to invite a friend or SO over to watch your DVD.

    Limiting this to non-commercial use seems to cover this pretty well, except for software. If I let everyone in my dorm install my MSOffice 2000 CD on their computers, but don't charge them, am I infringing copyright under your proposal?

  • You are starting with the wrong assumption: we think that a company holding copyright is unfair.

    Now I'll grant that some people blieve that. However don't be over broad, I don't, and many others do not.

    What I'm arguing, and many others is that copyright lasts too long. That is we want someone to create, and make enough money in doing it that it is worth their while to create quality works. (Micky mouse isn't really quality IMHO, but I grant them rights in hopes that someone will create quality) Once those who have put for the effort have been rewarded for their time, I feel that we should put the work into public domain for the good of all. I cannot afford to have all the books I want on my bookshelves. Libaries help here, but are not the full answer. I paid $1.75 for a new copy of "Much ado About Nothing" not too long ago. If that work was copyright it would have cost far more money, and may not be one my bookshelf today.

  • Well, since unsigned bands aren't represented by the RIAA, I'm sure they don't care about those MP3s. Obviously they are going after pirated music, which is their right under the law

    They are going after ALL MP3s (and trying to equate MP3=Piracy), this is purposely misleading. I have tons (95%) of legal MP3s which would get flagged and I would get in trouble for. Is this what you want?

    There is no time limit for copyrights mentioned int the US Consitution

    from here [house.gov]

    Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To...

    Clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    Now maybe its just my interpretation, but I don't see "limited" as meaning "life + 95 years". Nor do I see how not letting the public look at it for a lifetime "promote(s) the Progress of Science and useful Arts." (which doesn't even cover useless(MHO) Arts like pop music, music videos, most motion pictures, etc) Congress was given a power and has abused it to the delight of their financial backers. That is a fact, if you don't think it's bad thats a different story, but that is a fact.

    Why shouldn't a person's estate be allowed to profit from the person's work?

    They should, but there are limits to a government granted monopoly. I can think of numerous examples where something taken to one degree is fine, but taken to another becomes unpleasant (temperature, for example)

    Look, you don't have the right to other peoples things, and its wrong to take things without permission.

    Is it wrong if I listen to something you own, without you knowing, without you noticing, and without ANY cost to you whatsoever? It is wrong for you to cry to the police when such a thing happens because (~whiny brat voice) That's MY music!!! (/~wbv).

    My mom taught me to share, and that was sharing things that I couldn't use if I shared them!
  • I started reading this article from the perspective of someone who has personally witnessed RIAA scare tactics and the damage they can do. By the time I was halfway through, I realized the article was written by one of the people who give the RIAA their excuses to abuse the powers they've been granted.
    The open source philosophy is a wonderful thing. If you're reading slashdot, you know all about how it can increase colaboration, speed up development time, and contribute to creating a more functional product. But this philosophy simply doesn't apply to art. The element that makes art such a beautiful thing is its unique expression of an individual's viewpoint. In art, collaboration is unnecessary (and potenetially harmful), devel time is irrelevant, and "a more functional product" equals the Backstreet Boys.
    Sure, it sucks that most recording artists only receive a few pennies for every CD they sell and that "big, evil corporations" seem to control the record industry; that's what makes online distribution such a revolutionary thing. The Artist (FKAP) can sell albums directly from his website (either as MP3, another format, or by mail) and receive all the profit in return. Is there something wrong with that? Is there some reason that you, me, or anyone else should have the right (after 5 years or any other amount of time) to take his art and modify and distribute it as we see fit? Let Disney keep Mickey as long as they want; it's by far the lesser of two evils.
    Don't give the RIAA an excuse to bully people who have done nothing wrong (see what happened to the Smashing Pumpkins Audio Archive for a case study), or to force out MP3's in favor of a format they can control. Respect the rights of artists - they don't owe you anything, but if you take pleasure in what they've created, you owe them a debt you'll probably never be able to repay.
  • . I have tons (95%) of legal MP3s which would get flagged and I would get in trouble for. Is this what you want?

    No, I have tons of legal MP3s myself. But I'm not dumb enough to put them on a web server.

    Now maybe its just my interpretation, but I don't see "limited" as meaning "life + 95 years".

    I would suggest that life + 95 years is a perfectly legitimate definition of limited. In fact, anything less than eternity would seem to fit the definition.

    Is it wrong if I listen to something you own, without you knowing, without you noticing, and without ANY cost to you whatsoever? It is wrong for you to cry to the police when such a thing happens because (~whiny brat voice) That's MY music!!! (/~wbv).


    Yes, if I do not give you permission to listen to something I own, reguardless of cost to me, it is still wrong. I don't see what is so hard to understand about this. If I don't care I will put something out under GPL / or some less restricitive license. Copywriting something is saying exactly "You have no rights to this other than what I give to you". Forcing someone to share the fruits of their labors is the first step down a very slippery slope.


  • by Rombuu (22914) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @08:19AM (#1529325)
    Man, crap like this gets marked insightful?

    If I put random words in BOLD will I get marked up too?

    But enough of my rants, lets look at yours:

    The reason our cherished institutions (religion, government, intellectual property, etc.) are crumbling around us is because They Are No Longer Relevant. It's as simple as that.

    Lets see here more people attend religious services now than at any point in the last 20 years, democracy is spreading around the world, and more patents and trademarks are applied for everyday. Do you have any evidence that religion, govt and IP are crumbling around us? Looks like they are doing fine to me.

    Unfortunately, "moving on" (at least as us idealist type geeks have envisioned it) involves radical concepts like giving things away for free.

    If you can make a living giving things away for free, more power to you. Why don't these Lunix companies give away support along with their software too? Here's a hint.. bankrupcy.

    Ideas like this are dangerous. They scare the living shit out of the entrenched power structure (which tells us over and over again about how it nailed this guy to a tree about 2000 years ago for daring to suggest ideas like that) If we were to start thinking in that direction, we might do something really radical like abandon our current concept of money (just an example, don't go there ;).

    Yawn. Ideas like this are stupid, that's why they are never acted on. Got any suggestions for how to replace a money based economy? Didn't think so. Smarter people that you have tried and not thought of one either. (Not that that is a bad thing, since the current system works fine.)




  • we'll drop the MP3 discussion, I was arguing under the assumption that they were on locally shared drives and not 'Net accessible servers (to convince you the second is o.k. would take too long)

    I would suggest that life + 95 years is a perfectly legitimate definition of limited.

    Very much in disagreement here. The only measuring stick in governmental mandates should be the human life, not the half life of hydrogen. I don't consider anything "limited" that will still limit the freedom of my grandchildren.

    Yes, if I do not give you permission to listen to something I own, reguardless of cost to me, it is still wrong.

    Your example would work if we were talking about a personal diary, for example. However, we're not.
    If you put something out in the public sector, where, if I want to spend my $18 dollars I can listen to it, and then try to say that it is *wrong* for me to listen to it without paying the $18, I'm going to call you a selfish bastard, especially since (again) there is no cost to you, no effect on you, or anything else done to you, nothing.

    Forcing someone to share the fruits of their labors is the first step down a very slippery slope.

    Agreed, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about limiting an infinite supply through the use of legislation to maintain artificially high prices. And to keep it in the real world, we're talking about Art, I don't know of many artists that don't want me to listen to their music. If they didn't they would never have created it or given it only to their closest friends with instructions to NEVER show it to anybody, which is how the RIAA wants you to act. I make these concession ONLY for my closest friends after they have shown the same discretion. Nameless profit driven corporations are not afforded the same courtesy, at least not until they show it to me.



  • Lets see here more people attend religious services now than at any point in the last 20 years, democracy is spreading around the world, and more patents and trademarks are applied for everyday. Do you have any evidence that religion, govt and IP are crumbling around us? Looks like they are doing fine to me.

    Religion is a faint glimmer of what it once was. The church in fact has already fallen, did so a couple hundred years ago as a result of this thing called the Age of Reason, you may have heard of it?

    Democracy is spreading around the world. I'm with you on that one :) This is (imho) at least superficially a good thing.

    Intellectual Property is obviously experiencing some rather serious upheaval, or we wouldn't be talking about it here, or using OSS software for that matter. I consider OSS to be a kind of backlash against the current IP model.

    f you can make a living giving things away for free, more power to you. Why don't these Lunix
    companies give away support along with their software too? Here's a hint.. bankrupcy.


    Here's a big hint. One a lot of people simply can't seem to grasp on any level (i'm going to use that bolding here that you love): Everything doesn't have to be about money. It seems that we've forgotten that. Sure, *some* things can be about money, that's fine by me. Ever since the OSS movement has made headlines, and linux has had some success, all the articles are asking the same question: "Wow, that's great. Now how is it going to make me rich?"

    Yawn. Ideas like this are stupid, that's why they are never acted on. Got any suggestions for
    how to replace a money based economy? Didn't think so.


    Maybe you just can't read. Which part of "just an example, don't go there ;)" was difficult to comprehend? I'm not seriously proposing we abandon money, fuck, it makes the world go round. As long as it keeps my bong packed and my car running you won't hear me complain too loudly :)

    Smarter people that you have tried and not thought of one either. (Not that that is a bad thing, since the current system works fine.)

    Smarter people than you don't have to resort to personal attacks to get their point across.

    Yeah, the current monetary system works great. I'll be sure to tell that to the next guy who bums change off me to avoid sobriety.

    Anthony


    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • Tell that to all the teachers that GIVE their time and knowledge to all the students they teach,
    then tell me that has no value to the students.


    Interesting point. An angle I hadn't considered. I think we're talking about different kinds of giving, but I agree with you :)

    Honestly, I only included that "Something given has no value" bit because the sound bite from Starship Troopers popped into my head when I was writing the reply. Decided it was too good a quote to pass up.

    I'd rather have quoted "They sucked his brains out." or "If you find a bug hole, nuke it." but those would have been even more off topic than my previous rant.

    Anthony


    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • I really don't understand why everyone is so caught up in the twenty-year extension. It's frustrating, it's creating an insidious and pervasive feeling that all words and images are owned by someone, yes, it's bad. However, the restrictions applied are pretty much the same as ever. The more compelling threat to civil rights, in my opinion, is the addition of restrictions against devices intended to copy.
    In the words of the Digital Millenium Copyright act summary [loc.gov] linked above,

    Section 1201 proscribes devices or services that fall within any of the three following categories:
    - They are primarily designed or produced to circumvent.
    - They have only limited commercially significant use other than to circumvent; or
    - They are marketed for use in circumventing.

    Am I the only one who notes the striking similarity to the British law that allowed this bullying incident [slashdot.org] so recently discussed on slashdot? Am I the only one that thought they couldn't do that to us in America?

    Please note the -or- clause, and consider that only one has to be shown. If you can show that far more people will use the device to break the law than will use it legitimately, the device (like, say, the DeCSS program) will become illegal.

    Libraries, non-profit organizations and educational institutions are protected from criminal, but not civil, liability in these cases, but individuals have no such protection. If I'm putting the pieces of the summary together correctly, a successful lawsuit means you could be put in prison for up to five years for contributing to the DeCSS project. Hopefully, the developers would win, but I don't think (though IANAL) that they could get the case dismissed out of hand; it would go to trial, and cost lots of money to someone.



    --Parity
  • Interesting response... A few points...
    Religion is a faint glimmer of what it once was. The church in fact has already fallen, did so a couple hundred years ago as a result of this thing called the Age of Reason, you may have heard of it?

    I dare say there are more people with religious conviction alive right now that at any other point in history in absolute numbers. Not bad for a dead institution (not that I am one of them)


    Intellectual Property is obviously experiencing some rather serious upheaval, or we wouldn't be talking about it here, or using OSS software for that matter. I consider OSS to be a kind of backlash against the current IP model.

    OK class todays essay question is: In a world without IP protection, how do you protect someone from using your code in a commercial product? You can't. OSS seems intimately tied to IP in my mind.

    Maybe you just can't read. Which part of "just an example, don't go there ;)" was difficult to comprehend? I'm not seriously proposing we abandon money, fuck, it makes the world go round. As long as it keeps my bong packed and my car running you won't hear me complain too loudly :)
    Sorry, my sarcasm-meter is out this week, I'll try to get a replacement from the shop in the meantime. :)


    Yeah, the current monetary system works great. I'll be sure to tell that to the next guy who bums change off me to avoid sobriety.

    Surely you aren't suggesting that IP is to blame for the fact that some people are unable to live responsibly?






  • I can't resist one last shot. (Deep breath..)

    First, intellectual "property" is not the same as physical property. Copying someone's intellectual property does not deprive them of the use of that property the way stealing physical property would. Any argument based on that supposed analogy is immediately suspect.

    I disagree totally. The one element in determining the value of something is scarcity. In this case IP is exactly like physical property. By distributing someone else's IP without their permission you are reducing the scarcity of that item and reducing its value.

    Second, as copying becomes easier with the advance of technology, it becomes harder and harder to enforce copyrights without trampling on noninfringing behaviors.

    OK lets replace a few words in this sentence... try: Second, as forgery becomes easier with the advance fo technology, it becomes harder and harder to enforce contracts without trampling on noninfringing behaviors.

    Sounds a little sillier, doesn't it? If murder becuase quick and easy (not that it isn't) would you no longer attempt to uphold those laws as well?

  • Here's a big hint. One a lot of people simply can't seem to grasp on any level (i'm going to use that bolding here that you love): Everything doesn't have to be about money.




    I took your post to heart and tried this at the supermarket checkout line.



    "$57.29," she said.



    "Everything doesn't have to be about money," I replied.



    And so I walked out of there with a weeks worth of groceries. You're right! It worked!



    Of course, the 12-gauge shotgun slung over my shoulder might have had some influence.





    k., just another greedy corporate scumfuck


  • As far as the length of copyrights, when the original 28 year term was chosen, the flow of information was much slower than it is now. I think a comparable term in today's society would be about 5 years.

    EXACTLY! By all conceivable logic, the term should be SHORTER now, no LONGER!

    There is much to be gained by putting things in the public domain. Derivative works can have a great deal of impact as well.
  • OK class todays essay question is: In a world without IP protection, how do you protect someone from using your code in a commercial product? You can't. OSS seems intimately tied to IP in my mind.

    I don't feel like taking the time to refute all the logical inconsistencies you've popped off in this thread, but I figure this one'll be quick, so, what the hell. The answer to this stumper, teach, is that in your world without IP protection, there wouldn't be closed-source products, by definition. As for "commercial" products, GPLed code *can* be used in those. Off the top of my head...lessee, I'm sure I can think of an example. Hmm. Ah yes: Red Hat Linux. I'm guessing there may even be one or two others.

    The fault in your syllogism, in case you're interested, lies here: adimarco said "I consider OSS to be a kind of backlash against the current IP model," which, to me at least, seems patently obvious. But instead you conclusively (and quite derisively I might add) shred this little theory of his with the damning evidence that "OSS seems intimately tied to IP."

    Well gee. So a backlash against something would be intimately related to that something that it's a backlash against. Imagine.

    Of course the GPL (which is what you're talking about here; BSD-style licenses actually aren't tied into the idea of intellectual property at all) is imtimately tied to IP. It was explicitly designed to subvert the closed-source world by taking advantage of the same poorly-thought out laws that up till then had only served to promote closed-source software at the expense of users. Not, of course, to say that the causes are morally equivalent, but this is reminiscent of many of the tactics of the civil rights movement: the NAACP (and others) fought Jim Crow by challenging it in court; they attacked an oppressive legal system by using...the legal system. And, of course, there are lots of other examples of this sort of thing.

    The point is, GPL advocates use the GPL as a means to a goal. The goal isn't "a world where no one can make any money in the software business", but rather "a world where programmers have access to all of each others' ideas and code, because that's what works the best." Not to speak for him, but I have a snaking suspicion that in your world without IP "rights", even RMS would release his code under a BSD-type license; there'd be no reason not to.

  • [What's with] the changing slashdot colors? First the FreeBSD article and now this. I hardly find it becoming.

    How hard is it to figure out? "Your Rights Online" is a relatively-newly-created "section" on Slashdot. Recently, some categories of stories have been pulled off the front page into separate sections, to cut down on the volume of the front page, and some of these sections are color-coded for clarity. For example, "Ask Slashdot" is in gray, "Slashdot radio" is in black, BSD is in red, and "Your Rights Online" is in this strange orange/brown. Our beloved "#006666" green is still Slashdot's standard color.

    Or is it that you understand about the color-coding and you're just disagreeing with the particular colors chosen? I commented on this before, when I first saw the new "Your Rights Online" colors. It might be partly my fault, since I had jokingly nominated orange as a possible color. Sorry. [slashdot.org]

    David Gould
  • Apparently Republic claims copyright on the music. See:

    Article 1 [earthlink.net]

    Article 2 [earthlink.net]
  • 8 MB GIFs might get your sysadmins a wee bit suspicious, anyway a competent evil admin would use file(1) or the equivalent to look at the header and determing the file type.
    --
  • The answer to this stumper, teach, is that in your world without IP protection, there wouldn't be closed-source products, by definition.

    Oh really? How are you going to do that? Forbid upon pain of death the release of binary files?


    As for "commercial" products, GPLed code *can* be used in those.

    I understand that. I probably should have said proprietary there.

    The point is, GPL advocates use the GPL as a means to a goal. The goal isn't "a world where no one can make any money in the software business"

    No, its just a side effect. Probably the full sentence should be "a world were no one can make money writing code, but can selling support" right? Damn I get tired of hearing that. (You know, if I wanted to support for a living, I'd work on a help desk.)







  • ...which is bull, regardless of how often that argument comes up.

    Things like identity theft and plagiarism are still, frankly, theft. Things like a reputation, or the ability to be the sole provider of a new service or product, have value despite being intangible.
  • I would have no argument with copyrights if they protected the people that you describe. The reality is very different. Since the first copyright law, copyrights have gone from 28 years (which was essentially the mean remaining lifespan for artists at the time) to the artist's death + 70 years. In the last 50 years copyrights have been continually and retroactively extended so that works like the original Mickey Mouse movies won't ever enter the public domain.

    Copyright is a compact. It balances my natural right to express myself however I please and to do anything I want with what is in my possession, including copying it, with the need to provide an incentive for art. Copyright is a good idea, but the lengths of time in use now, and the unnerving idea that copyrights may be extended indefinitely are completely beyond the original intent of what is in the Constitution.

    Furthermore, artists benefit very little from extending copyrights, since the vast majority of work is popular for only a short time, so the present value of royalties is hardly effected by changes beyond a few years. The only ones who benefit are the copyright holders of older material which still happens to be profitable. Clearly, protecting this older material has no bearing on promoting creativity, in fact it stifles it, since no one else can use that material as a basis of new art.

    I strongly hope that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (The Sonny Bono Copyright Act) will be declared unconstitutional and that some sense will be returned to copyright law.
    --
  • Ever here of things like the GPL? Copyright does not force an artist's hand; if a creator *wishes* to allow everybody to use that work without restrictions, they're free too.

    *Disallowing* copyrights, on the other hand, is making anybody creative an involuntary slave of society. That's not anybody's choice to make.
  • two words "time" and "stamp"

    That may or may not be a problem. All users on a shell account have the same IP address. The moral is, never use your shell account to download warez if you're the only one on at the time. That also pre-supposes that web server logs are kept forever. I know that I don't, they take up too much space. Logrotate ages 'em for a while then trashes them.

  • It's easy to be upset at copyright because the big corps are using it as a weapon, and overlook the consequences of getting rid of it.
    Basically, the last thing you want to do is obliterate the few protections artists and authors _do_ have: get rid of copyright and what happens? Your buddy records a great song, and in two weeks the Spice Girls are flooding the market with it, followed by Hanson, Ricky Martin and Etc., and there's no recourse and nothing to be done about it. Weakening copyright itself will _not_ help the already very weak position of the modernday artist. Varese said "The present day composer refuses to die!" but he can sure be forced to starve, with a bit of work.
    The problem here is not copyright: it is abuses by large corporations, in particular it is attempts by these industries to _establish_ a monopolistic 'trust' situation. They feel very strongly that no art, music, whatever _can_ occur outside of their control, so they see nothing wrong with cracking down on all the TECHNOLOGIES that could proliferate alternative distribution channels that would compete with them.
    This is worsened by the fact that they are already exploiting their artists so badly (taking a cut away from the artist for typical rates of broken SHELLAC on CDs? It was already absurd to do this to artists when records had become vinyl and not so subject to cracking, but with CDs it's beyond ludicrous, it's insulting, a slap in the face), that the artists do NOT have a financial incentive to stick with the industry. It is genuinely a better risk to try being a cottage indie CD producer and distribute your own stuff with _no_ industry support or music store presence or radio play- that's not a claim of how great indie-land is, it's a withering indictment of just how bad the industry has become.
    And yet that's the reality- so the problem is this: rather than attack copyright, you have to defend the ability of artists to get their works to their customers. I don't care how many people rip songs to mp3 (I don't), I want the ability to put MY music on it and distribute it. I want mp3 walkmen, a whole proliferation of technology that I as an independent can tap into. I don't even care if only one in a thousand of my listeners buys a CD from me- that's still better than I'd be doing with the mainstream industry, at least I'd have half a chance to _get_ that thousand listeners and sell a CD.
    As an artist I would _cheerfully_ put up with my stuff being widely copied. Hell, I wouldn't expect to be able to charge for mp3s in the first place. The money is just where it is in the mainstream industry- gigging, merchandising, merchandising and merchandising ;) I do studio projects and won't gig, so for me it'd be a question of making CDs to sell, maybe posters or shirts (I have a friend who runs a T-Shirt print shop), and of course if I got known enough I'd be able to sell recording time at my studio, and that would be a kick, helping other people do what I did and getting paid for it.
    I'm still doing the legwork on all this. It's slow when you don't have a budget or a team of people. However, it's still a worthy dream- and it _requires_ that people have access to the media I'd have to use. If the industries kill mp3s they kill me as an artist, because I could use that media, given the chance, and get a fair hearing with things produced the way I wanted them. On the other hand, if the world killed copyright- I'd be hosed. I have a _book_ online, I have songs that are to be online when I have the tech to master them really _well_, and if you take copyright it's an open invitation for the wealthy industry to go cherry-picking, take anything they like, and build synthetic artists with lots of distribution and promotion on the back of MY creative work, if it's good enough to steal. That's not acceptable- I can't afford to fight that, and it'd be horribly destructive.
    See the issue as access to tools! And fight to make sure the technologies remain available! It's OK if they want to make stupidly encrypted DVDs as long as we have the capacity to make NON encrypted DVDs that will play on consumer players. It's okay for the idiots to invent a new encrypted CD format as long as the consumer players still play the extant CD audio format that we have access to writing. It's okay if digital walkmen play some twisted encrypted MS format as long as they still play the mp3 format that indies can afford to use! This is the key point: access to tools. Don't even try to hit the industries directly, defend! Defend against the determined attempts to remove choice for the consumer, to make the consumer incapable of consuming the 'outlaw' media. That outlaw media is the last great hope of independent artists in a corporate-controlled world. There's not much money in it- this differs from record company exploitation how? It's access to tools, access to media- it must not be lost. Already there are blank tape taxes (as ktakki mentions), basically the music industry TAXING indies as if they were a government, on the grounds that no artists other than record company clients exist. How much more is in store if we don't defend against this? What would it have been like if blank tapes were simply outlawed? Throw the internet into the equation, and they might do the equivalent of outlawing blank tapes just because 'it's Internet', it's different. These crackdowns: imagine if the record industry insisted on doing spot checks, breaking into people's rooms and confiscating all their cassettes to see if any were taped off LPs. (That'd be real popular at the Berklee College of Music! ;P ) Why is this suddenly okay when it's being done in cyberspace? Is data not property?
  • If the middle class actually believed in investments and occasionally saving money instead of lottery tickets, frequently eating out, and having the latest clothing, perhaps they'd do better.

    It's not coincidental that excess consumption is not a common trait about the self-made wealthy; folks like the late Mr. Walton, for instance.

  • (5) The RIGHT to record *unowned* copyrighted broadcast material (including Satellite and cable as well as over the air) for time-shift-viewing purposes. e.g., legally record a movie from your subscribed HBO channel while you're at work for viewing later that night or on the weekend.

    The concept of "unowned" is unclear here. Does "broadcast" cover what you're trying to do here, or are there other circumstances where this might apply?


    I'm not sure if this is what the original poster meant, but the way I figure, nobody owns airwaves. Hence, if somebody broadcasts something, I have every right to view it, record it, or whatever. If it happens to be a copyrighted work, then I am not allowed to go around selling copies, but if they didn't want me to have a copy, they shouldn't have broadcast it. They've already "given" me a copy by broadcasting it in a format that I'm capable of interpreting, and they have no right to dictate what personal use I make of that copy (e.g., to say that I can only watch it once, synchronously with the broadcast).

    In similar contexts, I've argued along these lines (analyzing the process by which an activity is performed, e.g., "You can't ban cryptography because it's just arithmetic.") The counter-argument has been that the end result is what matters, namely the fact that I am acquiring an unauthorized copy of a work, and that the process by which it occurs is irrelevant to that end result. This is wrong. The process does matter. If each step of the process falls under my rights, then restricting it based on the "end result" would by necessity entail restricting my rights to perform those individual actions, and is therefore unacceptable. If they don't like the end result, that's their problem.

    Consider satellite TV broadcasts: if I look up in the sky, I see a satellite. If I could see into the appropriate part of the spectrum, I'd see that it's a very bright object. If my perception were fast enough, I'd see that its color and intensity are modulating very quickly in various patterns. If I knew the protocol, I'd be able to interpret those patterns as streams of bits. If I knew the encryption key, I'd be able to decipher those bits into an MPEG (?) stream. If I could decode the MPEG stream, I'd be able to see a TV broabcast.

    If I pointed a radio telescope (which is, after all, exactly what a satellite dish is) at the satellite, it could allow me to see the relevant part of the spectrum. If I fed the telescope's output into a computer, it could interpret the signal into a bit stream for me. If someone told me the encryption key, or I cracked it myself, I could instruct the computer to convert the bits to the MPEG stream. If the computer had an MPEG decoder, it could allow me to watch the TV broadcast.

    All this would be without my subscribing to the satellite TV service, and the broadcasters would like us to believe that I would be "stealing", but would I? If a copy of a newspaper falls off the back of a delivery truck, and I find it lying by the side of the road as I'm on my way to the newsstand to buy a copy, is it stealing for me to pick it up and read it instead? My contention is that these are all inalienable rights. They don't own the light that radiates from their satellite; anyone, anywhere has the right to look at it, which includes using such apparatus as a radio telescope and a computer to enhance their vision. The encryption key is (obviously) a trade secret, but it's still just a number -- they can't own it. Obtaining it via some sort of illegal activities (i.e., industrial espionage) is already illegal, but cracking it independently is just math. They have the right to try to make it hard, but not to prevent people from trying (or succeeding, except by making it too hard).

    The "end result" is that I would be in possession of an unauthorized copy of their broadcast. As I said above, it is still a copyrighted work, so I couldn't go around selling copies, but they cannot restrict my rights to do what I have just described. They're the ones bombarding my body and my property with radiation that happens to contain the copyrighted information. That radiation does not belong to anyone (or, better yet, when it enters my property, it becomes my property). The way I see it, it's a game between us -- they want to broadcast the information so that their subscribers can retrieve it but I can't. To that end, they are entitled to make as strong a copy-protection mechanism as they want, but once the radiation is in the air, it's fair game for anyone to try to decipher it. If deciphering it is more trouble than it's worth, then they win, but if I can figure out how to do it, then I win.


    David Gould
  • Desktop Pictures (jpg) [airwindows.com]
    Tiling Background Library (gif/jpg/xpm) [airwindows.com]
    Dithered Background Textures (gif/xpm) [airwindows.com]
    Oddly enough, just last night I was doing an analysis of airwindows.com traffic, and found that although no specific weblog showed it, a huge amount of activity at my site had to do with people who were searching for art. They found it at airwindows, they downloaded it, they looked around to see what else was there.
    I went and enhanced what I had. I made web gifs of the XPM tiles I'd originally meant for strictly Linux background purposes. Conversely, I went to the dithered GIFs I'd made, and I made XPM versions of all of them. I made all of it available, updated the links, tidied it up a bit, made sure it worked.
    All of these are free downloads. I request that nobody try to take credit: that's it, that's the only condition. Anything else is fair game.
    I can't do this with mp3s on my site- for the very simple reason that I have way too much music to store as mp3s on my site (by several orders of magnitude), some of which is very long format. However, I've been steadily building the needed mastering equipment to go into mp3 in a very big way, and when I do I anticipate loading really huge amounts of original music onto mp3.com or somewhere like that, somewhere that just yells, 'Bring it on! more megabytes please!' knowing that they get ad revenues for hosting good content.
    At that point, my making money from that content is _my_ problem. If my engineering isn't good enough to be worth spending money on an uncompressed CD version, that's my problem- if my music isn't so cool that everybody buys T-Shirts and posters from me, that's my problem. MP3 will be my radio- it's the loss leader, it's what I give out like I give out the silly little webgifs :) it's the sort of thing where I can vow to never restrict or limit it, because I'm not greedy- I can give some things and sell others, I don't need 'protection' in the form of mp3 encryption, I don't need to harass music listeners like a repo man- that sucks, it's stupid, it's bad business, and it's certainly not entertainment.
    Entertainment is optional. It seems the big entertainment industries are forgetting that....
  • Okay, so I went to download Napster to see what it's all about.

    Looks like a members-only IRC server that's seriously underpowered. Takes me a long time to connect, and that's only after several tries. Searches take as long as five minutes. And while I admit I only downloaded two things, neither went above 2.3kbps.

    I think, if you're gonna leech mp3s, mIRC will do a much better job for you.

    P.S. Is there anybody here who's been using Napster for a while, and can tell me if they've always been like this, or if it's due to media attention? I'd appreciate it.

  • Correction: the artistic equivalent of OSS might well be commission or retainer. I've been commissioned for fiction writing- the story Passages [airwindows.com] was a commission for money, for which the client was well satisfied. I even got to use my own artistic judgement on how it came out and the points it made- it was a lot of work balancing that, but I did it.
    However, with regard to music the money is in _merchandising_, not having people commission you to write songs for them. Yes, if you're amazing then maybe you might get commissioned- just as, if you're an amazing instrumentalist, you can be retained as a house musician somewhere. However, in the world of the net, where the art goes out there for free, the winning solution is to then sell posh versions, or shirts, or posters, that sort of thing. Hell, sell figurines ;)
    For example, I don't have stuff up at the moment, but my most recent mix was a long format rock instrumental with a 'live band feel' in which the low-end was absolutely phenomenal- we're talking low end authority to utterly show off any subwoofer no matter how expensive, or on the other hand to make any truck go 'boom' ;)
    Bearing that in mind, I have a definite outlet for 'audiophile' CDs (actually, I could omit the quotes- I mix _damn_ well and build my own equipment- but my point is that I'd have a big market in pure bass test stuff, which is not truly audiophile).
    I have albums of pop/rock songs which I think are good songs. If I can deliver them well enough, really rock 'em and make great albums, then I'd have an extra outlet- besides selling audiophile CDs of the original sources for the mp3s (or custom mixes, for instance for more dynamic range or 'in your face' radio mix CDs), I would definitely be well advised to try and come up with a T-shirt or poster. How many techno bands would be well advised to do a _mouse_ pad? I use a fancy 3M mousepad, but even so I could easily see using a 'u4ia' mousepad if he made them (classic Amiga techno MOD artist, now goes by F8 and no he doesn't make mousepads ;) )
    You've got to think merchandising, not trying to 'milk' the very music that you're trying to have _everybody_ listening to. Having it be free is a very good way to help 'everybody' be listening to it. If you can get that happening, if you're that good an artist, then other avenues begin to open up. And you won't make millions- but seriously, lots of 'industry' artists end up heavily in DEBT for their art. Bands that don't recoup royalties, artists signing away everything, pay-to-play just in order to get booked at gigs: it's an absolute snake pit, evil, if you want to make money you're better off giving away free mp3s and then trying to sell mousepads, CDs and figurines over your little website. Seriously...
  • Oh, man, I wish more people realised how wickedly sarcastic you are being with that remark ;)
    Of course, if you add "Except that the royalty they get on the CDs is diluted and taken away by every random charge up to and including charges for broken SHELLAC on CD pressings (I am not making this up), plus it only goes to pay back the advance which is only an advance on royalties but the artist does have to cover all promotion, recording costs etc. out of their own pocket, meaning that for most platinum sellers they are _paying_ a lot of money to be a rock and roll star, not making it, and if they're riding around in Caddys they're all the worse in debt to the record company, which will be expecting to be repaid, either in royalties recouped directly from the artist's cut, or just plain money from getting a day job..."
    ...well, then you wouldn't be as _subtle_ ;)
  • Sorry, you're _way_ out of the ballpark with that one, not that this conflicts with your opinions or anything ;)
    Virtually no artists get even that $1. You're totally overlooking the costs of recording, pay to play, and getting to the point of having the 16$ CD on sale. Being signed may well mean being given money by the record company to do these things- all that comes out of the royalty. The artist has to come up with their own money to promote, and is contractually bound to the record company.
    On top of this, that 1$ is reduced to *estimate* I'd guess about 50 or 60 cents due to extensive commissions and cuts and charges every step of the way: exemplified by the 'shellac breakage' charge that artists are _still_ paying. It's a racket: this _is_ the industry busted for payola, after all. In the modern day, if there is payola, the artist has to come up with _that_ out of his remaining 50-60 cents, which also goes to paying off recording costs.
    I would say if you want to average it out, and calculating only for the major labels, out of a $16 CD sale, your average artist also pays another 30 cents or so to the record company for the _privilege_ of being a rock and roll star. That's average: some will be further in debt, and some will manage to earn between ten to thirty cents on each $16 CD the record company sells. You might have the occasional superstar making $1 or more, but platinum != superstar, and some of the real chart toppers have ended up in the worst debt- it is the businessmen musicians who manage to actually earn anything, and most of them still do not recoup their recording costs and never see a royalty.
    Again (with the dreaded boldface! ;) ), it's more reasonable to include the actual costs of playing the game and say, "The average artist PAYS ten cents to the record company for each CD sold, due to having to cover promotion and pay their way the whole time, plus having to recoup recording expenses from advance royalties."
    Read Steve Albini's rants if you want more relentless detail on all this. Yes, it's that bad. Another good resource is a man whom I took a music business course in the 80s, Peter Knickles, who is really gifted at getting this reality through musician's heads and then helping them learn how to turn enough of a profit that they can afford to survive doing music as a job (!), which involves a tremendous amount of work and the total abandonment of silly trust in record companies.
  • by copito (1846)
    The original idea behind 28 years as a copyright was that was a reasonable estimate of the remaining life expectancy of an artist. It was not intended to be extended beyond the artist's death and certainly not in perpetuity.
    --
  • I take it your ISP doesn't accept identd requests.
    --
  • D'oh! I meant to put in the fact that sheer numbers mean nothing. Windows users dwarfs the amounts of Linux users, for example.

    Uhhhhh, you realize of course that this statement contradicts the rest of your post?

    In any event, I think that your thesis depends to a large extent on the definition of "religion". Unfortunately, this definition depends upon the person doing the defining. Which means the argument you're involved in is not going to end in the forseeable future. ;-)

    Daniel
  • That's funny I see a whole bunch of stuff at say, Project Gutenberg, that is PD.

    Yes, and it's all pre-WWI. It will be that way for many years to come. That's because those things DID have their copyright expire. Since that time, copyright has been expanded every time a certain copyrighted mouse would move into the public domain. At the rate we're going, the copyright won't run out until the language is so archaic and the culture so distant in the past that only 5 people or so will even get the jokes. That is not what copyright was EVER supposed to be.

    Note also, that several corperations are working hard to secure exclusive rights to digital representations of great works of art. Apparently, if you're a copyright, you can rise from the dead.

    There comes a point where the written work becomes part of a culture. No corperation can be allowed to OWN culture.

  • If a copy of a newspaper falls off the back of a delivery truck, and I find it lying by the side of the road as I'm on my way to the newsstand to buy a copy, is it stealing for me to pick it up and read it instead?

    This is fascinating, because I've essentially grown up on this nonsense and I actually *would* think twice about this. And I consider myself to be a fairly independent thinker. I wonder how brainwashed the rest of my generation is.. ;-)

    Maybe the solution to the copyright problem will not be the elimination of copyright but the readjustment of human values to exclude anything that might possibly endanger it such as sharing (I'm also more careful about sharing stuff than a lot of people, hmmm) and accidentally finding things you don't "have permission" to access. */me shudders*...

    Daniel
  • I've been trying to read this in a fairly evenhanded way, but this was just too much:

    I disagree totally. The one element in determining the value of something is scarcity. In this case IP is exactly like physical property. By distributing someone else's IP without their permission you are reducing the scarcity of that item and reducing its value.

    If I'm in the business of building cars, should it be illegal for anyone else to build cars because they might reduce the scarcity of cars and thus reduce their value?

    Now, this is of course covered by patents. However:

    1) I think that this example points out the fundamental difference between
    'IP' and something I can hold;
    2) Do you want patents to last for 70 years past the death of the patent holder? Please think carefully before answering :-)

    Daniel
  • If a copy of a newspaper falls off the back of a delivery truck, and I find to the newsstand to buy a copy, is it stealing for me to pick it up and read it instead?
    This is fascinating, because I've essentially grown up on this nonsense and I actually *would* think twice about this. And I consider myself to be a fairly independent thinker. I wonder how brainwashed the rest of my generation is.. ;-)

    You seem to have gotten my point and agreed with it, even though now that I look back at what I wrote it may not seem quite as obvious as I had hoped, so I want to expand a bit. The newspaper example is a bit different because the object in question is a physical medium that is owned by the publisher until I buy it, so maybe there really is some sort of stealing going on. However, it's a copy that they had lost and that otherwise would not benefit anyone, so I think the situation is pretty similar to a broadcast. Medium aside, the question is over the "theft" of the information. Of course the information is still copyrighted, so selling copies or re-publishing it as my own work would still be just as wrong as ever -- the way I acquired it does not change that -- but I just can't make myself see the copyright as meaning that nobody is entitled to possess the information at all without having paid for it.

    Seeing the brainwashing for what it is is tricky. Some background: this argument about process vs. end result, and the specific example of the satellite TV decoder, was first presented to me by a guy on my floor in the dorm my first year at Berkeley ('94-5). He didn't present it all that convincingly, or maybe I just refused to listen, but either way, I didn't buy it. I thought he was just being glib and ignoring the "end result".

    However, in the past year or so, I've come to see that he was right. To me, the most compelling case is that of cryptography. How can it be illegal to make up a bunch of random numbers? To multiply some numbers together modulo some other number? To transmit the result to a friend? The fact that this may happen to conceal a secret message doesn't change my right to perform those actions. They could be used to hide illegal activity, but I don't think that's relevant. The activity in question is already illegal -- using cryptography to hide it doesn't make it any more or less wrong; it just makes it harder to catch people at it, but that's not my problem (There's nothing illegal in my secret messages -- honest!). The law enforcement agencies are just going to have to come up with some other way to catch the real criminals without being able to read all their messages.

    There's a common thread in these things, which I suspect is the reason they resonate so strongly on Slashdot: because knowledge is so precious to the geek/hacker mentality, the withholding of knowledge is deeply offensive (hence the Free Software movement), but, even worse, hardly anything is more offensive than being forbidden to apply knowledge that I already have, e.g., using a cryptosystem that I know how to implement, or figuring out how to decode a signal.

    Here's a point that I guess I didn't make explicit before: the comment to which I originally replied was about the right to record broadcasts. To me, when a signal is being processed by some piece of equipment of mine (e.g., a radio, TV, or satellite dish), I consider myself to be in possession of that information (not ownership -- it's still copyrighted, but I possess a copy). Therefore, I feel that I have every right to use any capabilities of any of my equipment to manipulate that information in any way that I choose, including recording it. I think of my equipment's memory as an extension of my own, and I was already given permission to view the signal; there is no provision that I have to forget what I saw immediately after seeing it, and recording it would simply be facilitating my ability to recall it later. That's why I consider it to fall under fair use, i.e., the rights that I was implicitly granted when I was given the copy in the first place.

    Compare and contrast the following actions. I guess they skirt the line between legal and illegal, and there are at least a few that "they" would like us to believe are wrong, but that I don't think really are:

    -reading a newspaper and hence learning the information it contains
    -saving clipping from the newspaper for future reference
    -making photocopies of the newspaper clippings for backup, as the higher-quality paper will last longer
    -reading a news article on a web site.
    -printing the article from the web site for future reference
    -watching a program on TV and remembering its contents
    -recording the program on a videocassette for future reference
    -copying the videocassette for backup
    -telling a friend about the newspaper article, relating the information in your own words
    -telling a friend the volume number so he can look up the newspaper article in a library archive
    -lending a friend the newspaper clipping or photocopy thereof
    -telling a friend about the article on the web site in your own words
    -telling a friend the URL of the article so he can look it up.
    -lending a friend the printout of the article
    -telling a friend about the TV program in your own words
    -telling a friend the time and channel when the program will be re-run, so he can watch it
    -lending a friend the videocassette of the program

    -----
    Maybe the solution to the copyright problem will not be the elimination of copyright but the readjustment of human values to exclude anything that might possibly endanger it such as sharing (I'm also more careful about sharing stuff than a lot of people, hmmm) and accidentally finding things you don't "have permission" to access. */me shudders*...

    Have you read Richard Stallman's piece The Right to Read [fsf.org]?

    David Gould
  • A society based on your give-back principle would be a very gray society... No one would bother producing anything new.

    Why, look! There it is, in its natural habitat! The elusive econodwarf [columbia.edu]!

    You can't say "give me" without giving back- in this case, paying the people who produce for you the things you enjoy.

    How much of the purchase price of a new CD do you think the artist gets? And how much goes to the record company and the various middle-men?

  • You know its illegal for your employer to tap your work phone

    Telephone networks are given a 'common carrier' status and thus subject to numerous regulations and consumer protections. The Internet is 100% private, and all networks that make up the Internet are themselves run as separate individual entities. You can't really compare the two for this reason, and that's why I don't think packet sniffing is the same as wiretapping.

    any rate, I had to sign multiple documents stating that I would not sniff the *data* in those packets and if I did, it would be grounds for expulsion from the university.

    This is quite likely necessary to ensure that you're complying with the university's privacy policies.

    While the laws themselves do not prohibit the university from sniffing its own networks, the university has likely made various contracts (perhaps even with the students themselves) guaranteeing a certain level of privacy. If nothing else, they probably just don't want people sniffing data, and make everyone (like you) go to lengths to see that it doesn't happen. That doesn't mean the university doesn't reserve the right to do it on their own.

    Just because the data is using your network does not mean that you suddenly own that data and can do with it as you please.

    The Internet is a cooperative effort. There are no regulations that require you to run a fully compliant IP stack in order to connect to it. There's no law that says your IP stack cannot do any logging, any recording or archiving of the data sent over it. If your Internet peers disagree with those policies, they can't take you to court (unless you're breaking a contract with them). The best they can do is stop doing business with you. This is how networks like this work (and, in fact, most private industries).

    that responsible professors, deans, and graduate students WORK there.

    Right -- for the University.

    it stands to reason that they don't have the resources to mount a legal battle.

    Surely there's a sufficient number of affected people to warrant something of the class-action variety. I'm really surprised I haven't heard any true legal points of view in these matters at all, what with the latest CMU thing making as much press as it did. I'm tempted to think that, as most of the press I've read about the incident has been written with an anti-CMU bias in mind, that they wouldn't *want* to report on something that affirms CMU's right to do what they did... *shrug*.

    My lawyer (or yours), BTW, has not much better chance at knowing the outcome of a legal battle regarding the internet than your or I.

    Computer networks have been around for quite a while. I don't think it would be very hard for someone to tell us with at least some degree of certainty whether or not an organization may legally sniff/record data sent to/from endpoints within their own network. Regarding the whole CMU bit, that could go either way, but I'm personally leaning towards CMU.

    that internet traffic is just harmless data that doesn't affect people's lives

    Umm.. it doesn't. The only thing marketers have done to affect my life in the *least* is how targeted those banner ads get. I've never received a postal ad from a source I couldn't backtrack. These YRO articles and their insistence that all governments and corporations are inherently evil, and how governments/corporations are breaking laws left and right, and how all of these laws we're seeing are all unconstitutional, etc., etc., are affecting my life a thousand times more than any Internet marketer could.

    I would be in big financial trouble if it were legal to intercept snail mail and examine its contents.

    This is illegal today and would never be legal no matter how you stretch the laws. It really bugs me when privacy activists make leaps like this. This would never happen. The law is not ambiguous in this respect and people trying to do this are prosecuted.

    I would be in big financial trouble if someone could wiretap my telephone conversations...

    Likewise.

    What you don't realize is that for things like this, laws were explicitely drawn up to protect them. Telephone networks are explicitely protected against unauthorized wiretaps. It's a felony to mess with the postal service, by explicit law. There are explicit laws on the books regulating Interstate "general commodities" transport carriers (UPS, Federal Express), but here's the kicker: These companies have the right to open and inspect any package they're transporting. There are no such privacy laws on the books for Internet networks, to my knowledge. If there are, it would likely only apply to individual networks spanning state lines, which would make it apply only to the backbones.

    These are privately owned data networks. How those networks are built, the hardware and software used to route it, etc., is not regulated and there are no laws that say what those networks can and cannot do and what hosts on that network can or cannot do. The only reason you can't put a sniffer on some random network is because that would be an *unauthorized* act, and if you were to commit such an act, it would be the organization that owns the network to prosecute you, not the government, and not any other party that happened to be sending data over that network that you intercepted.
  • Well, since unsigned bands aren't represented by the RIAA, I'm sure they don't care about those MP3s. Obviously they are going after pirated music, which is their right under the law. So some kids who are stupid enough to put their music warez or whatever they call them are going to get smacked. Good. Just becuase you disagree with the concept of IP doesn't mean you can ignore the law.

    I've noticed that you don't like to keep all the issues in mind when you reply to things. For instance, the RIAA did not go to court and charge a student with having illegal MP3s on the school network. The RIAA did not call the FBI and request an investigation. The RIAA did not get a search warrant to go through the school's networked computers and check for illegal material. These are all due process of the law. The RIAA instead threatened (implied) lawsuits and scared the schools into doing police work on the students. It wasn't ever shown that many of these persons had illegal MP3s; if they were .MP3, they got deleted. Read the news.

    Silly me, I thought private companies had the right to make whatever agreements between each other they wanted to. If a company is making products that don't fail some legal test, why shouldn't they go to court to stop those items from being distributed?

    Your comment is almost true -- but out of context again. The question was:

    What is their case for demanding that products with legitimate, legal uses be pulled from the market or crippled because they "might" be used to illegally copy copyrighted material?

    ... which you didn't answer. There is no implied agreement here between companies. The question is whether one company or association (the RIAA) can force another "free" company (as you pointed out) such as, for instance, Diamond multimedia, to change their software because it -MIGHT- be used to pirate music. Isn't it illegal for the user of the software to use it illegally? There isn't even a clause on my hammer at home telling me to not use it to smash peoples' car windows.

    It's illegal to copy commercial music and distribute it to those who have no right to that music. It doesn't matter if the tools are available; you're just not allowed to do it.

    - Michael T. Babcock <homepage [linuxsupportline.com]>

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