Future Tense: Copy Wrong

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J Thomas

"The technological ease of digital distribution has created a situation where users are at odds with owners of intellectual property.  

"Copyright law has not kept up with this situation."

Yes!

Copyright law is an obsolete approach that never worked very well. Maybe we could get something better.

Here's a first attempt. Say the Federal government puts aside some amount of money for writers. Say, $10 billion as a first stab at it. They collect that money in taxes. And then any citizen who reads something -- for free -- that they like, can vote money to the author. For each author, count up the fraction of votes from each citizen, divide by the number of citizens who voted, throw out the authors who made less than they would working full-time at minimum wage, and divide the pot among the others.

If everybody in the country finds something in your bibliography to vote for, and their votes are worth 50 cents each, that's an income of $150 million for you this year. You won't mind that your work is given away free, the important thing is that readers like it enough to vote you money. The more people who read it for free, the better. If some of them read it next year and vote for you then, that's fine too. That's residuals.

People could vote for novels or short stories or blog posts or whatever. Whatever they want you to keep writing. I like having a minimum income cutoff so people won't want to just vote for themselves to get a few dollars tax money back.

This gives no idea how to handle international copyright etc. It's only a first try. But I say, when copying is practically free and it's hard to catch the criminals who do it, find a better way to get money to authors than legal copyright which depends on people not copying. Pay writers for creating stuff that people like. Why should they have to buy a book before they find out whether it's good? Because copyright used to be the best we could do, and lots of people will not pay for a book they've already read.

But if they've already paid, through taxes, they can vote for the things they want to see more of. Far better than copyright. Except there could be bugs I haven't thought of. "The devil is in the details."

 

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RoryKeogh

The Pirate Boat graphic on the main page linking to this article appears to be from the Pirate Bay.  It must be someones IP.  Was it paid for or just downloaded?

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meat67

That graphic has no copyright so it is free for anyone to use.

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Jims45wow

 And there would be NO double irony, if it was protected.

Jim

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Sediket

It’s simple, someone’s job is to make copyright material, and they sell it, it’s their product, their profits are their own.  If they are good, they sell a lot and make a lot, we are not paying them because they are greedy but because they are talented and we are supporting the creator and their future products.

I refuse to believe that people honestly think it’s not wrong to acquire a product that obviously isn't free, someone or a company and its employee's work on a product that they intent to sell, it’s obviously not free.

It’s just easy to acquire these products, people like that and are defending it when under attack, and I haven’t seen any good argument that can justify why someone else's copyright material when up for sale should be distributed for free without the creators consent. 

For example:
"I wouldn't buy it anyways" so you still don't deserve a free copy.
"I'm poor" you still don't deserve a free anything.
"It’s easy" you still are not entitled to someone else’s product that has a price tag on it, for free.

"the creator is greedy and should just be happy to make their content for everyone for free" and make no money for their work?  Remember this is their job, and us as their audience don't decide how much they should get paid for it or when they should stop getting paid for it.
"it’s not stealing, its coping" who cares?
"it’s not pirating, its coping" who cares?
"it’s not theft, its coping" who cares?
"it’s not coping, its copyright infringement" .... this is what it is: It has a price you’re not paying it.

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fusobotic

"The intention of copyright law, and patent law as well, is to give the creator/inventor/producer of the work a time-specific opportunity to earn a fair profit from his labors."

 Well, I guess I understand why Gerrold is so defensive about this, all he wants is money, and he doesn't even understand the actual purpose of copyrights and patents.

As stated in the Constitution Article 1 section 8:

“The Congress shall have the power . . . 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."

Contrary to Gerrold's purposes, the true purpose of copyrights is actually to further  information, artwork and science, not to make creators money. How exactly are companies and corporations doing this if they sue people thousands for "accessing" (as gerrold calls it) information and content created by authors and artists. How are you contributing to the furthering of science and useful arts if you want money before you show people your content. Money is only an incentive to create content, not the purpose, Gerrold. The founding fathers knew that copyrights could turn into a monopoly, and a tool for censoring freedom of speech (made evident in the DMCA).

Here's an excellent article about this subject, it's by an experience professor of law. I would suggest you that you read it in its entirety first before you post anymore copyright/piracy related articles.

http://www.open-spaces.com/article-v2n1-loren.php

I don't think we should do away with copyrights, they're good to have, but I would like to see the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) repealed, and I would like to see the outrageous copyright suits stop. Pirates have different purposes for pirating content, sometimes it's just to preview before buying, sometimes it's because their budget won't allow for it, and sometimes it's because people are just plane lazy. The internet is a place where people should be able to share information freely, and saying that a bit of information is yours, well I understand that, but then suing someone for learning/enjoying/viewing information doesn't make sense. Pirates don't claim that that information is theirs, they just want to "access" it for whatever reason. You won't be able to stop piracy just as we'll never convince you that it's not wrong, it's just one of those things, I guess. I'll support an artist if he makes something good, so he can keep creating it, but what if I pay for a digital download and I don't like it, can I get a refund (probably not)?

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rowenacherry

Unfortunately, pirates *do* claim that novels are theirs. They do explicitly claim that they own the novels and that they have the right to share them. Often, pirates do make money off the sharing of novels (and they don't pay the copyright owners, and they pretend that they are generously "sharing"... but what they are doing is greedily raking in money from advertising, and also from commissions.

 

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fusobotic

I never said that I agreed with people selling content that they did not create, that's one of the only things I agree that the copyright laws should protect against. I just have a problem with people getting sued for only viewing and sometimes sharing content. Not many uploaders I know of are actually advertising, just the places they post links/torrents and upload to advertise, in fact, some uploaders actually have to pay to upload in the first place (premium accounts etc.). Because the service is sometimes free, the only way the server owners can get money is through advertising, which (at least to my knowledge) usually doesn't pay the people who are sharing content in the first place.

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Jims45wow

 When I was 4, I took a 5 cent 3 Muskateers bar. I had different reasons, too. If I had tried to "explain" those reasons, I might have faced more severe punishment than returning to the store, paying for it, and apologizing. (Humility is the hard part.)

Jim

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fusobotic

Who is the thief if the store owner only had to buy (or make) one candy bar, then could replicate them for literally less than a fraction of a cent (depending on how many are sold/created, electricity costs). After that he would sell you one for 5 cents, you would buy it, and then replicate it yourself and share it with friends. Afterwards he could sue you for $10,000.

Replication metaphor aside, would the store owner sue you $10,000 for stealing a candy bar, or even eating it first and then paying for it before leaving the store? first metaphor, torrenting, second metaphor downloading, or downloading before buying.

But I suppose all metaphors trying to relate piracy with actual larceny end up not making any sense because it has to do with trying to own a piece of information (intellectual property). And the reason it gets convoluted is because before the digital world, you actually owned the book, painting etc., but now you own an end user license to a digital copy.

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fociwm

    I just want to say this. The world is changing. New types of creation will emerge. You and all other current copyright holders will suffer. If you're old enough, you'll be safe before you die. But if you're young enough to face the transform, you'll be better to be prepared. Fortunately, I buy books if it is an important and valuable (or very entertaining) one. I think I might be an old generation (mid 30's), because I don't
feel comfortable with digital books YET. Anyway, many people still buy
physical books. So don't be panic. You'll have some time to prepare for
your retirement.

    Another thing is that a new (but already old) form of author-credit system already appeared. In this system, many writers on the net requires copiers to correctly notify that it is his job not copier's. In many cases, people copy the creatures and say that it is copied from blah blah. And when those creatures make many people happy, it is eventually printed in a from of physical book. What a wonderful system to save trees from being used for craps. This system reduces junks.

   Of course, there are two exceptions: novels and journalism. Because novels usually have relatively less value than serious non-fiction works, we will see some shrink of the industry, which is my concern. We should find a good way of preventing this from happening. Journalists will have tough time to make living. This is seious. We also need to find a good solution. (I don't worry of movie industry. They'll find their way with lots of
money.)

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michaelh

I'm glad Doughnut mentioned medical texts as I was thinking of them while reading through the thread of comments. Textbooks, in general, are (pardon the pun) textbook examples of copyright being used in favor of the producers to the detriment of the consumer. In a fair arrangement, one would purchase a copy of the textbook (already amazingly inflated in price, I might add) and be granted rights to any further revisions at cost, provided they contain no more than a certain percentage of changes from the original.  A very dear friend of mine is struggling to make ends meet while trying to keep their reference material (both physical and digital) up to date with their colleagues.

 In this age where we can make textbooks a digitally-deliverable object, it's ridiculous that it's seen as yet another source of income for the same works when all the creators are entitled to, in my opinion, is a fee to offset the cost of migrating the material provided one has already purchased that text.

 Another copyright abuser that comes to mind is Disney.  They've managed to use copyright to their advantage brilliantly, yet it's often at the expense of their customers. Releases, rereleases, copies of movies unavailable through retail channels until they're briefly obtainable during their temporary emergence from the great "Disney Vault". They've caught on to what consumers want by providing digital copies with some of their movies, but in a method so restrictive and convoluted that it's nearly useless. I attempted to download a legitimate digital copy for media center playback and found that I was restricted by iTunes to playback on my computer or via AppleTV (if I had the device). In half the time it took me to enter codes and jump through the hoops, I could've torrented a copy of twice the quality, converted it and have begun streaming it to my TV. 

If this is the sort of strict adherence to principles protecting the rights of the author, then it can't die off soon enough. It's this kind of thinking that introduces issues like the proposed newspaper tax.  I haven't touched a newspaper in years and have never been more quickly or thoroughly informed about issues I care about, along with the ability to compare and contrast several viewpoints.

 I do appreciate David Gerrold's response in the comments, however. It's a much more open-minded and fair response than I would've expected given some of the blatant trolling. Seeing this as an intellectual exercise and exchanging ideas between creators and consumers - that's what makes the internet such a unique and wonderful thing. Except for 4chan. Eff that noise.

 

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Spamalot

patents in the pharmaceutical industry last 7 years and then other companies are allowed to make generic versions of these same drugs.  i really think something along those lines with maybe a 3-5 year span of being able to charge what you and the original distributor agreed would be market value of your .  but i really do have one argument for this.  piracy existed when books fell off the truck and were sold at a much cheaper price.  secondly there are not better selections of books on legal paysites that give the copyright owner his due share.  a lot of it has to do with there being better content on the "free" sites than their is on the pay sites.  also some of the material is more up to date on free  sites or even may be better in some fashion.  i just think the corporations are bullying people into violating their copyright and suing for ridiculous amounts of money when most people are not looking to make money on said violation.  and i actually think that us copyright says that you are not allowed to make a copy of said work not a digital copy or something to that effso bect.  i just think that a lot of coporations are asking too high of a price of admission to these rights.  so  i guess what i am saying is that i dont think a lot of media is really selling at fair market price.  personally i dont see why book publishers even really need to be involved with ebooks making because of the fact that everyone can type their work on a computer and then it just needs to be converted into whatever format the author agrees to use for distribution.  so basically i think the times are changing and artists or creators of media as i will call them also need to change with the times.  unless a company owns the rights to a series or set of ideas there really is no reason most media creators need to be alongside a publisher other than the fact that they can advertise due to their larger mass of resources.  i mean i personally see a lot of music makers realizing they are making more money on their concert tours than selling cd's and you know what some have even been giving away their music on their sites to get people to come to their concerts to make money.  one last argument.  you say that we are given a liscense to use your copyrighted project.  with that you also say we are allowed fair use.  now what i really have to ask is if i am not making any money on the sale of your work, whats to say i as a liscensed user can't give the information to someone else.  because honestly all media in digital format is just a set of 1's and 0's that are read by the machine.  i am not profiting from such a thing but you also said that i should be allowed to give this information to my friends or family well whats to say i want to share this access with others.  i really think copyright was made to protect both the rights of the producers and the consumers.  i just think the laws need to be rewritten.  i do not think they are clear enough as you almost made an argument for me in that i am allowed "fair-use" .  i am assuming you lived during the time of cassettes.  have you ever taped something from the radiio or recorded something you had on a cassette for someone else maybe a friend or aquaintance but the point is someone you barely know.  how is that different from sharing digital media.  a lot of media on the internet needs to be scanned or made digital from their physical media.  they are putting work into preserving or making this different format do they not have a right for this work?  i am not suggesting that copyright holders should get nothing from their work because yes then they do not have anything to live on or to invest in creating the next piece of art.  i guess my main point is that we need to get rid of the many "middle men" that get their hands on media products.  i really believe you have a right to make money but for a limited period of time which i dont think should be more than 5 years unless the work is updated or changed in some significant way.  because then it is another edition and a whole different copy isnt it?  also i must state that i am totally for open source  software and think that computers originally had everything shared by anyone who had such a device.  big example. when i buy a piece of software from M$ i also pay for the rights to their consumer tech support.  perosnally i do not really want that tech support at all because i personally believe i know more than most tech support specialists and really hate being on the phone with them for hours when i have done all the same things they are suggesting for the last hour before i called them and spending another 3 or 4 going over the same things.  point being i am getting something i really do not want.  i just want to be able to create things on my pc that i can use for scholastic purposes or personal reasons  using reasonable software.  i also think the entry price on a lot of media is too expensive for most people outside the US.  ok here is a great example people in the great land of china are paid approximately a dollar a day.  now assuming they dont need to eat.  a M$ os would cost them at least 200 dollars which is what 200 days of work.  now i do not think that is totally fair at all.  i really do not think that is fair market price for such a product.  i think we need to realize each market has different resources to pay for such materials.  i should stop ranting but basically all this boils down to in my opinion is that big business hurts creativity in some ways and stifles our development as a human race on this planet earth.  i personally do not think violence is anyway to solve anything.  thats all i have to say about that.  also i do not think that after 3-5 years of my proposed theory should you not be able to reap any rewards for your work but rather should be made cheaper either physical or digital format. 

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michaelh

Spamalot, I don't mean any personal offense, but your comment "Reads" very much like a spambot-contrived keyword response. I use quotes there because without capitalization or use of paragraphs, it's too much text firehosed all over my screen.

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Spamalot

i guess thats just because im too lazy when im typing on message boards to use formal grammer.  but i hear you.  it's not too fun to have to sift through all of that.

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Jims45wow

 Thank you for spelling 2 correctly.

Jim

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Spamalot

patents in the pharmaceutical industry last 7 years and then other companies are allowed to make generic versions of these same drugs.  i really think something along those lines with maybe a 3-5 year span of being able to charge what you and the original distributor agreed would be market value of your .  but i really do have one argument for this.  piracy existed when books fell off the truck and were sold at a much cheaper price.  secondly there are not better selections of books on legal paysites that give the copyright owner his due share.  a lot of it has to do with there being better content on the "free" sites than their is on the pay sites.  also some of the material is more up to date on free  sites or even may be better in some fashion.  i just think the corporations are bullying people into violating their copyright and suing for ridiculous amounts of money when most people are not looking to make money on said violation.  and i actually think that us copyright says that you are not allowed to make a copy of said work not a digital copy or something to that effso bect.  i just think that a lot of coporations are asking too high of a price of admission to these rights.  so  i guess what i am saying is that i dont think a lot of media is really selling at fair market price.  personally i dont see why book publishers even really need to be involved with ebooks making because of the fact that everyone can type their work on a computer and then it just needs to be converted into whatever format the author agrees to use for distribution.  so basically i think the times are changing and artists or creators of media as i will call them also need to change with the times.  unless a company owns the rights to a series or set of ideas there really is no reason most media creators need to be alongside a publisher other than the fact that they can advertise due to their larger mass of resources.  i mean i personally see a lot of music makers realizing they are making more money on their concert tours than selling cd's and you know what some have even been giving away their music on their sites to get people to come to their concerts to make money.  one last argument.  you say that we are given a liscense to use your copyrighted project.  with that you also say we are allowed fair use.  now what i really have to ask is if i am not making any money on the sale of your work, whats to say i as a liscensed user can't give the information to someone else.  because honestly all media in digital format is just a set of 1's and 0's that are read by the machine.  i am not profiting from such a thing but you also said that i should be allowed to give this information to my friends or family well whats to say i want to share this access with others.  i really think copyright was made to protect both the rights of the producers and the consumers.  i just think the laws need to be rewritten.  i do not think they are clear enough as you almost made an argument for me in that i am allowed "fair-use" .  i am assuming you lived during the time of cassettes.  have you ever taped something from the radiio or recorded something you had on a cassette for someone else maybe a friend or aquaintance but the point is someone you barely know.  how is that different from sharing digital media.  a lot of media on the internet needs to be scanned or made digital from their physical media.  they are putting work into preserving or making this different format do they not have a right for this work?  i am not suggesting that copyright holders should get nothing from their work because yes then they do not have anything to live on or to invest in creating the next piece of art.  i guess my main point is that we need to get rid of the many "middle men" that get their hands on media products.  i really believe you have a right to make money but for a limited period of time which i dont think should be more than 5 years unless the work is updated or changed in some significant way.  because then it is another edition and a whole different copy isnt it?  also i must state that i am totally for open source  software and think that computers originally had everything shared by anyone who had such a device.  big example. when i buy a piece of software from M$ i also pay for the rights to their consumer tech support.  perosnally i do not really want that tech support at all because i personally believe i know more than most tech support specialists and really hate being on the phone with them for hours when i have done all the same things they are suggesting for the last hour before i called them and spending another 3 or 4 going over the same things.  point being i am getting something i really do not want.  i just want to be able to create things on my pc that i can use for scholastic purposes or personal reasons  using reasonable software.  i also think the entry price on a lot of media is too expensive for most people outside the US.  ok here is a great example people in the great land of china are paid approximately a dollar a day.  now assuming they dont need to eat.  a M$ os would cost them at least 200 dollars which is what 200 days of work.  now i do not think that is totally fair at all.  i really do not think that is fair market price for such a product.  i think we need to realize each market has different resources to pay for such materials.  i should stop ranting but basically all this boils down to in my opinion is that big business hurts creativity in some ways and stifles our development as a human race on this planet earth.  i personally do not think violence is anyway to solve anything.  thats all i have to say about that.  also i do not think that after 3-5 years of my proposed theory should you not be able to reap any rewards for your work but rather should be made cheaper either physical or digital format. 

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doughnut

Dear David,

My questions come from the perspective that I inherently respect your right as the author to earn an income from your work, and to have some control over the of distribution of your work. However, I'm not so convinced about some of the specifics:

1) Irrespective of your present legal rights, responsibilities and protections as an author (which I presume are within the US jurisdiction) I wonder whether there is a moral distinction between the 'intellectual property' which you refer to in reference to your published works, and IP when used in reference to inventions and patents.

What I mean is that I don't agree that you should have the complete moral right to control the distribution of your works- for instance if an author at a future date no longer wishes to be associated with comments or ideas they've previously published, your interpretation could be taken to mean that as an author you should be able to restrict future access and publication of that work. That could mean that a future presidential candidate might be free to restrict access to previously authored controversial publications (where the content is too expansive to be covered under 'fair-use'; in the extreme, this might have meant that a certain infamous dictator of the 20th century might have sought to restrict further publication of his struggle, using legitimate means. 

In essence, I believe that your moral right to control distribution is balanced by my moral right to access to your 'IP'. Furthermore, I don't think that your moral right to determine the distribution (cost of accessing) your IP is more important than my moral right to access it at a 'reasonable price'. (Don't get me wrong, in technical terms that must be a miserable task- setting a profitable price for a book (particularly a low-volume, high-labour publication like a text book) which is within the 'reasonable price range' for the targeted consumer.)

2) Licensed access AND right to physical ownership

Further to Mighty BOB!'s comments, I wonder whether there is a distinction which needs to be made in respect to your thoughts on licensing. I believe that morally (irrespective of whichever laws happen to apply) I have licensed the right to access an author's work when I purchase a physical copy. However, I believe that the physical copy which I purchased is wholly mine- you should not have the right to remove it, change it, or have any access to my physical copy.

After having purchased my physical copy, why should I then have to pay another licensing fee for the same work- I'm not convinced that I have any responsibility to do so (within the limits of personal use)? Well as you've said, the cost of production for many physical formats (books, tapes etc.) is substantial and so I don't think my comments necessarily apply to these. However, when it comes to digital copies, I don't think I have any moral responsibility to pay another licensing fee when purchasing additional copies, I should simply have to pay for cost of the additional format. I'll give you an example: 

Currently I own several 2+ volume specialty medical text books. Each of these sets cost in the order of USD400. These are lifelong purchases, which are increasingly sidelined for easier-to-access online alternatives, but are still relevant given the depth and breadth of their scholarship. When digital (usually pdf or chm) copies of these textbooks (the exact edition etc.) become available, do I have a moral responsibility to pay another USD400 for access to a work for which I already own a license to? If the author or publisher chooses not to offer me a discount for a digital version of a work for which I already own a physical copy, is it immoral for me to download a digital copy through file-sharing tools? Or is this covered by the concept of 'fair-use'?

This is the most common kind of piracy which I see practiced amongst friends and family- people who own the record, book, or VHS, but don't think they should have to pay full-price for an electronic copy of the same thing. I'm not trying to justify it, and maybe it's just a case of us wanting to have our cake and eat it too?

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rowenacherry

Your comments about distribution confuse me, Doughnut. "Distribution" does not mean that an author has the right to retroactively suppress or repossess copies that have already been sold.

It means that the author has the right to decide which rights to license to a publisher, and whether or not to renew a contract, and the free choice with which publisher (paying publisher) to sign a contract.

The problem with "piracy" is that ordinary people are taking that choice away from authors.

If an author for whatever reason does not wish to be e-published in 2010, (maybe they are negotiating an exclusive contract with Bidu, to suggest an unlikely example) "pirates" harm his ability to negotiate that exclusive contract if they take it upon themselves to scan a paper copy of the book and publish/distribute it on file sharing sites without paying the author. 

If an author wishes to keep the e-rights and sell the ebook himself through Smashwords, the "pirate" who "shares" a copy of the ebook (even if he paid the author for a copy) is "distributing".

If a politician were to write a juvenile "Mein Kampf" and change his political views in his mature years, he ought to be able to buy back his publication rights and not print any new copies of that embarrassing old book. Old copies may still be around, and would probably become more valuable owing to their scarcity value. If the politician had the time, energy and funds (his own, not taxpayers), I personally think he should have the right to buy up as many of his old books as he can, as long as he pays whatever is being asked by those who own the old books, and as long as they are willing to sell.

No compulsory purchases, though!

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kris79

Why did it take 4 paragraphs to get to the point? "It's mine"...I get it. "You want it...so buy it already." We all get the point without the endlessly convoluted reasoning that everyone's entitled to.

Here's the deal. You want David to keep writing because you like his stuff? Buy the stuff. You want freeware? Don't send in a contribution. No money, no honey. Maybe David will have to start perspiring for a living - and stop writing.

Parasites eventually sicken or kill the host.  nuff said...

 

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Jims45wow

 Who is the host, exactly? Who is the parasite? Are you suggesting that David's work, or Metalica's, has cost YOU some quality of life?

Jim

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David Gerrold

Some of the people who have commented have made it clear that they regard copyright holders as the enemy.  Okay.  Will you please clarify?  Are you people arguing that from the libertarian perspective or the communist perspective?

See, if you're communists, I could understand it.  Communists don't respect property rights.  They want everything to belong to the state, trusting that the state will be fair in its distribution of goods and services.  (Personally, I think we have plenty of evidence to demonstrate that communism just doesn't work.)

But if you're libertarians, then why are you arguing for the abrogation of other people's property rights?  Intellectual property is still property, isn't it?  So if my property rights are up for grabs, then ... how can you argue that yours are sacrosanct?  It's interesting to me, and more than a little confusing, that so many techno-libertarians are so quick to play fast and loose with other people's property rights.  Hmmm.  

BTW, as long as I'm responding, no I am not stuck in the past  That wasn't the point of this article at all.  

On the contrary, I'm excited about many of the possibilities that technology has opened up for us.  That I'm willing to recognize and discuss the difficulties of shifting to new technologies of distribution does not mean I'm advocating for the status quo.  I'm not.  ("The status quo is always the enemy." -- Solomon Short)  

In the past, an author's reach was limited by the number of books or magazines printed.  Today, an author's ability goes far beyond that.  A popular blog can reach millions in a matter of hours.  That's exciting.  It's exhilarating.  And it's going to be the subject of at least one or two future speculations in this space.    

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting.  A lot of food for thought here.

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Jims45wow

Hi David,

    I thought that ALL of the people arguing for more of your property KNEW they were socialist. All of the arguments are about "their right" or "society's right" to an individuals thoughts, art, works, or genius. They seem to have no distiction between their ease and a "societal good". (I submit that supporters of socialism truly don't have this distinction.)

    If they will accept a concession from me:  I do beleive that intellectual property IS different from other property. Therefore, I agree with the Constitutional provision of, "for a time".

    I recall your previous article encouraging publishing industries to shift their paradigm. Many of the thoughtful comments here could be addressed by such shifts.

    I also agree with your concern over world-wide instantly free availability of others property. I fear, however, that the "fix" will be directed at the consumer by federal powers over the internet. I would urge publishers to change their paradigm instead. (Governments will only support them when convenient, but will always stifle. Nerds will always find a way around things. More technology and ideas = more use, better implimentation & bigger markets.)

    This line of articles has been great. People get to discuss and refine their ideas, thanks to your presentations.

Jim

 p.s.  Does the public have a right to the NON-Mickey Mouse work of the era?

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aviaggio

Whether they are the enemy depends upon their actions. There needs to be a fair and balanced equilibrium between your rights to earn an income from your creations as well as the public's right to use and benefit from that material in new and different ways. And it doesn't need to be all or nothing -- giving up or losing copyright over a work doesn't suddenly mean that all profits from it are gone, provided you continue to promote the work. But right now copyright blatantly over-favors the creators and rights-holders and is patently unfair to the public.

Here is the part I don't understand: as an artist, once you've earned the bulk of your income from a particular piece, wouldn't you want to then share that art with the world, to allow others to use it in new, different, and exciting ways? Isn't that the whole point of being an artist (not to mention the original point of copyright)? But it sounds to me like you don't want that to happen. Ever. You want to create something and clutch it to your breast, mumbling "mine mine mine". While large, wealthy, and powerful media conglomerates have guaranteed your right to do so till your dying day (and then some), I find it to be disingenuous and downright selfish. The problem with the system as it stands now is that it fosters this kind of greed and selfishness, because it's all about the continued royalties. Forever and ever. You have been brainwashed by your corporate overlords into believing this is how it SHOULD be. But it's not. Please, make your money. No one is saying you shouldn't be able to earn a living or be fairly compensated for your work. But after you have, LET IT GO.

So let me ask you this. Do you want to be the stingy author that hoards his material long after they've stopped making any appreciable income (or worse, who keeps recycling his old work in a feeble attempt to wring more and more profit from it), or do you want to be the guy that makes his money and then shares his creations with the world and actively promotes the use and creation of new material based upon his work? Answer this honestly, and then you'll know whether or not you're the enemy.

One last thing to think about. Take a moment and try to imagine what our artistic culture would be like if the works of great creators like Shakespeare, Mozart, and Renoir (among many, many others) were all still under copyright. I can't even begin to envision such a travesty. Is this really where we want to go? Cause that's exactly where we're headed.

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David Gerrold


Of course, any author or artist would want maximum distribution of his work.  Consider it his product.  Just as a widget manufacturer wants to sell as many widgets as possible, so does an author want to sell as many copies as possible. Would you demand that the widget-maker give away widgets after he's earned more money than you think he's entitled to?  

Being an author or an artist is the ultimate free enterprise.  You're depending totally on the market-value of your work, you have no government subsidies, no employer to give you health benefits or pension funds, no real union protection--you're on your own.  

Are you proposing a cap on how much a person can earn or how long they're allowed to own something they created? 

How many years of ownership is an author entitled to before he or she is too greedy and selfish?  How much money is an author entitled to earn before it's too much?  

What if an author is creating a series, like Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes?  What if it's his lifelong passion? There's a whole body of work there.  It's his virtual universe.  Let it go?  Who decides how much is too much?  Copyright law is certainly not perfect, and I strongly disagree with the copyright extensions that Disney successfully lobbied for, but copyright law is an attempt to address these questions.  The point of the article is that copyright law has not kept up with the digital revolution and as long as the law remains rooted in the past--in the culture of scarcity--we're going to have these arguments about access and ownership and fairness.   The law is going to evolve, you can depend on that, but not until we figure out how best to serve both sides of the equation--artists and audiences.  

Look, there's not enough space in any one column to explore all the changes that our technological tsunami is doing to our cultural landscape.  This particular issue is just a small piece of a much larger transformation.  Whatever the ultimate answer turns out to be, we're not going to get there unless we understand the nature of the situation we're currently in, because whatever happens next is going to be built on (or in response to) the legal structures we have today.  

Junking the whole system to replace it with something new and better works great with computers--not necessarily so great with law.  Because whatever law you create today, the law of unintended consequences kicks in tomorrow. 

 

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aviaggio

Of course, any author or artist would want maximum distribution of his work.  Consider it his product.  Just as a widget manufacturer wants to sell as many widgets as possible, so does an author want to sell as many copies as possible. Would you demand that the widget-maker give away widgets after he's earned more money than you think he's entitled to?

No, but I would demand that the creator of said widget, after a period of time, be forced to allow other companies to manufacture their own widgets free from royalties or control. This serves many purposes. First, it forces the creator to not be lackadaisical about their work, because they don't have the luxury of control forever. It also fosters competition and further creativity. The original widget creator can still sell his wares and continue to turn a profit on them. But there needs to be some level of aggression in continued innovation if you expect continued profits. And although having a competitor makes it harder for the creator, who's to say that competitor won't develop an ingenious new widget that greatly benefits the public, something they could never have done while the widget was under copyright?

Being an author or an artist is the ultimate free enterprise.  You're depending totally on the market-value of your work, you have no government subsidies, no employer to give you health benefits or pension funds, no real union protection--you're on your own. 

They also have no storefront, no overhead, no employees (save perhaps a PA), no required insurance, etc. etc. etc., all the things that most "free enterprises" have. So in terms of having your own business you get away pretty well. But unlike other freelance contractor types that must continue to work to get paid you expect to work once and get paid ad infinitum. I'm sorry, but I don't think you're going to find much sympathy amongst us working folk on this.

Are you proposing a cap on how much a person can earn or how long they're allowed to own something they created?

While I generally think that some people earn far too much money for what they do I generally don't see a "salary cap" per se as being useful. BUT, I do think if you're earning a stupid amount of money for what amounts to an average amount of work (or less) you should a.) pay thru the nose in taxes and not complain about it, and b.) be even less concerned about copyright and piracy. How much money does one need to make before they've made enough? A million? 500 million? A billion? At what point does greed overshadow everything else including social and artistic responsibility? If you've made enough money to comfortably live the rest of your life in the upper echelons of our society why not share? Does it really hurt you so much? Of course if you're dealing with a corporation then the answer is "yes", and is why copyright is such a mess right now.

As for ownership, well hell, you'll always own the things you create. No one can ever take that away from you. What they can remove is the right to continue to deny others access to it or demand payment for its use in other works. Such is the price of the free enterprise artist. If you want to keep getting paid you need to keep creating, it's as simple as that. Expiration of copyright doesn't take your ownership, it just forces you to share. Again, why is this such a bad thing?

What if an author is creating a series, like Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes?  What if it's his lifelong passion? There's a whole body of work there.  It's his virtual universe.  Let it go?

So to allow Tarzan's copyright to dissolve would have prevented Burroughs from creating new Tarzan works? No. Would it prevent his descendants from cashing in on his works long after his death? Yes. Would it allow new works of art based upon Tarzan to be created without Burroughs or his family's approval and/or royalty payments? Yes. And this is a bad thing because...? I dare say this particular case is an even worse outcome because control over the character is now in the hands of people who only care about the money, not the work. Is that the kind of legacy you want to leave for your creations? Locked up for a hundred years unless the price is right?

The biggest problem we face with copyright law and new technologies are the giant corporations that want to retain control and profits in perpetuity without any concern for the rights and well-being of the original creators and the public-at-large. And since they are so immense and so powerful they have no trouble getting what they want. I wish I shared your optimism about the future of intellectual property and consumer rights. But I don't think things are going to get any better so long as Corporate America controls so much of our government. Disney is going to get their 120 year extension, new laws will be created that will criminalize and/or further erode consumers' right to fair use, and a new war on piracy is about to begin, where the casualties are going to be We the People.

Thanks for opening up the discussion. As usual it's been quite enjoyable. 

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Leo Scott

It seems ridiculous that copywirght should be longer than patent.  Patents usually provide tangable benifits to society  whereas most copyrights only provide entertainment or informational value.  Copyrights should expire in more like 5 years, what have you done for me lately.  It is the "unfair", "illogical" nature of copyright law that promotes the piracy problem we have today.  This is particularly true of commercial software that many times does not perform to the manufacturers specification or technical documentation; check out Microsofts extensive Knowledge Base articles for examples of software issues.  Many of those never get fixed.

 I pay for what I use or read or watch, but with software sometimes I test it throughly before I buy it.  When the laws become more reasonable and fair to the consumer piracy will decrease.  Does anybody really believe that the whole crew that made Avatar did over a Billion dollars worth of work?

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Mark17

You know, it's a bit ironic that you are well on your way to a paperless office. You do know that reducing the consumption of paper hurts the logging industry, right? Trees are the key ingredient in paper. If you consume less paper, then the need for loggers diminishes. Maybe loggers should be fighting the Internet and electronic files as those reduce the need for paper, which in turn reduces the need for their jobs. Instead of paying for paper and typing out something and printing it, you decide to use a computer instead. Screw the lumberjack, he's just trying to make a living so he can support his family. Maybe the loggers should be collecting royalties depending on the amount of "intellectual paper" you use. You are taking away their profit aren't you?

"As I said a few weeks ago, the internet destroys/transforms everything it touches. The internet represents a tectonic shift from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance."

And that's a bad thing? If all you care about is taking all of the money you can get your hands on, then I guess that would be a bad thing. Personally, I don't like that way of thinking.

"But this culture of abundance and easy access carries a hidden cost. Electronic distribution encourages us to disrespect the value of intellectual property. It's just too easy to copy and send a file."

Yes, it's just too easy, isn't it? Just like it's too easy to use all of this new-fangled farm machinery to harvest crops in hours when before it would take days and many people to accomplish that task by hand. But what about all of the people that made a living working on a farm and harvesting crops? They no longer have job because of this new technology. Should those workers demand royalties because their work is being reproduced much cheaper? Well, they may have been upset, but eventually they all had to move on and find new jobs.

I guess if the Internet reduces your ability to profit, then you should fight it. It seems like that's what you want to do, yet at the same time you want to use it for mass distribution of your content and have the consumer pay whatever you consider a "fair price".

It seems that you, David, are just upset because of the fact that you can't use extortion to reap huge profits from the content you create as you could in the past. Since, in the past, it was much more difficult to copy media and you could pretty much put whatever price on it that you wanted. But today, copying and distributing media is easy and media is abundant. The Internet has completely revolutionized the way we can distribute media and it's time to reevaluate what intellectual property is actually worth.

Why is it that I can go to iTunes, look up the cost of an album for download in MP3 format and then compare it to the cost of an album at a retail store where I then find that that cost at the retail store is usually the same or cheaper. I don't get it. How is that possible? Look at the cost of the CD, the case, the cover art, the cost of shipping it to the store, and of course the markup by the retailer and compare it to what it costs to electronically upload files (it can't much, people do it for free). And of course the CD is of superior quality to the MP3. That doesn't make sense. You would think the digital download would be significantly cheaper, but it isn't. That tells me that all they care about is profit and not the creator or the consumer.

"Denial of profits means a denial of assets for continued production."

That statement is simply not true. Let's say some kid in high school wants to start a band, but he can't produce music because he doesn't have any money? Since when does it cost money to be creative? So someone can't write a book, a painter can't paint a picture, a filmmaker can't make a film, an inventor can't invent, all because they don't have money? Why do you say you need money for continued production? If an artist, writer, inventor, musician, etc. truly enjoys what they do, they will continue doing it. I enjoy playing sports, but do I get paid to do it? No, but that doesn't stop me from playing and enjoying it. 

It's not 1973 anymore, it's 2010, time to wake up.  

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dc10ten

"you know, it's a bit ironic that you are well on your way to a paperless office. You do know that reducing the consumption of paper hurts the logging industry, right?"

what kind of argument is that? maybe we shouldn't be so dependent on trees. I think the loggers are capable of other work. Though, there is a problem with not enough jobs, that is a separate issue. 

 

As I said a few weeks ago, the internet destroys/transforms everything it touches. The internet represents a tectonic shift from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance." 

 "And that's a bad thing? If all you care about is taking all of the money you can get your hands on, then I guess that would be a bad thing. Personally, I don't like that way of thinking."

 You completely miss his point, and you probably overlooked the optimism he has for the internet destroying what distribution is today AND transforming it.

"I guess if the Internet reduces your ability to profit, then you should fight it. It seems like that's what you want to do, yet at the same time you want to use it for mass distribution of your content and have the consumer pay whatever you consider a "fair price"." 

His point is that people are ignoring his right to control means of distribution. I do want to throw the idea out there however, I believe distributors had been charging a steep price for content (music, movies, etc) just because they had the means of distribution. (just an opinion) I'm referring to times before the internet was big, and still now for some content. Now that the means of distribution has changed, so has the value of the big business's means of distribution. Oh, and about the "fair price", we live in a market economy and what's fair is an opinion. Now, where there is a real issue is when people start using the intelectual property by means beyond the original holder's distribution, when the holder is supposed to be in control of it. 

It seems that you, David, are just upset because of the fact that you can't use extortion to reap huge profits from the content you create as you could in the past."

 his concern is from what other people are doing when they shouldn't, not what he is capable of extorting.

"Denial of profits means a denial of assets for continued production." 

"That statement is simply not true. Let's say some kid in high school wants to start a band, but he can't produce music because he doesn't have any money? Since when does it cost money to be creative? So someone can't write a book, a painter can't paint a picture, a filmmaker can't make a film, an inventor can't invent, all because they don't have money? Why do you say you need money for continued production? If an artist, writer, inventor, musician, etc. truly enjoys what they do, they will continue doing it. I enjoy playing sports, but do I get paid to do it? No, but that doesn't stop me from playing and enjoying it. "

It would be a huge determent for that kid having a job from his creativity. To be completely focused on his creativity, and not as a side gig. That may not be such a bad thing though (IMO). I personally would prefer that more people would do this on the side. Content creators go through a time of "writers block". Look at the movies we are seeing released today. Batman, superman, ironman, marvel superheros, etc. a refresh of an old idea, and although unique, it is not original. I don't like how we have this "entertainment industry" a lot of those people don't even make it, and the ones that do get a ridiculous amount of money. Hence why i would prefer it being a side thing. Hope that makes sense to people.

 

Last but not least

"It's not 1973 anymore, it's 2010, time to wake up." 

Nobody is going to know what 2010 is right now, we look back at it and define it, we are here now to experience it and throw in our $.02......... 2010 is still in the works!! 

 

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Mark17

I've been thinking, and I think the problem is that I don't see "intellectual property" the same way you do. 

 I think the loggers are capable of other work. 

That's exactly the point I was trying to make. You understood it, but you didn't. This seems to common among people for and against copyright. I think it has to with both people for and against copyright law not seeing "intellectual property" in the same way. Why couldn't I just as easily say: I think artists are capable of other work.

 As I said a few weeks ago, the internet destroys/transforms everything it touches. The internet represents a tectonic shift from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance." 

 "And that's a bad thing? If all you care about is taking all of the money you can get your hands on, then I guess that would be a bad thing. Personally, I don't like that way of thinking."

 You completely miss his point, and you probably overlooked the optimism he has for the internet destroying what distribution is today AND transforming it.

Ok, I'll admit I may have missed his point there. I've been thinking, and I saw that completely differently. It seems he wants to change what the Internet has done with destroying/transforming content distribution by changing copyright law. To me, copyright law is in direct opposition to new technology and what it is capable of doing. I saw that as he was against the destroying/transforming of how distribution is done and to me, that is what copyright law is trying do, which is prevent the use of technology. Again, I think missing the point is a direct result of simply not seeing "intellectual property" as you or he sees it.  

His point is that people are ignoring his right to control means of distribution. 

Again, I think it this is a result of people not seeing "intellectual property" in the same way. To me, he has the right to distribute it or not distribute it. He could go ahead and write a book and never distribute it. That way, the book is his and no one else can have it. Now, with the Internet, if he distributes a book it can easily be copied. The means of distribution has changed and you can't really control it as anyone can just copy a file. In the past you would have had to buy the book in a store, as this was probably the cheapest way to acquire a copy of the book. I do agree with you that before the Internet, distributors were charging a steep price simply because they could, as there was really not a cheaper way to acquire the content. And about "fair price", I meant that I don't think that it should be up the person that created the content to set a price. It just doesn't make sense to me. I'm not saying that I think they shouldn't make money off of something that they take the time to create, but I think it should be up to the consumer to decide if they want reward the creator of the content or not. I think that is the way it should be. It's simple, there are no grey areas, and think it could work fairly well. 

Take open source software for example: Let's say I find some open source software and I find it to be very useful. Sometimes I will donate a few dollars to an open source project. Someone else may use that same software and think it's the worst software they've ever used. To them, it is worthless, but to others it could be worth a lot more. I would think that you would want as many people as possible to use your product or be entertained by whatever content you create even if they didn't want to pay or couldn't afford to pay you any money. If you set a price, some people won't even take a second look. Personally, I don't have a problem paying for something when I don't have to. Of course, I speak for myself when I say that. Another example would be Gerrold's work. Do I know any of his books aside from the one he mentioned in the article? No. If I see his book for sale I would simply just pass it by, because I wouldn't want to pay for a book if I had no idea what was in it. It's just that there is so much content out there online for free that I could entertain myself with. If he offered his books for free, who knows, I may stumble across one and actually like it. And I would definitely consider paying for it. Again, I speak for myself when I say that. 

It seems that you, David, are just upset because of the fact that you can't use extortion to reap huge profits from the content you create as you could in the past."

 his concern is from what other people are doing when they shouldn't, not what he is capable of extorting.

What I was trying to say there was that I disagree with these so called rights people have to set a price for their content to be whatever they want, then if you don't pay that price and get it somewhere else cheaper, or for free, then you are stealing from them. 

"It's not 1973 anymore, it's 2010, time to wake up." 

Nobody is going to know what 2010 is right now, we look back at it and define it, we are here now to experience it and throw in our $.02......... 2010 is still in the works!! 

I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to say there. Anyway, my statement was simply trying sum up what I was trying to say. I don't know if I made it exactly clear but the point I was trying to make throughout my entire comment was that copyright is a terrible and old concept and that new technology exposed the weakness of it. And that Gerrold wants to somehow bring this copyright law to present day and modify it to try to restrict the technology we have. I don't see how this could work. No good has come from copyright law. I say we should eliminate it completely.

I don't know if I was clear with what I was trying to say, but I tried my best to get my point across. Please ask me to clarify if you have any questions.

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dc10ten

"That's exactly the point I was trying to make....Why couldn't I just as easily say: I think artists are capable of other work"

Okay... you were a little vague there in your point. Now I understand. 

 Regardless of what you or I believe is intellectual property. It is under copyright law that defines the authors rights of controlling distribution. I know you don't agree with it, but you miss the fact that David knows that it is flawed, he is only pointing out where he is coming from, as things stand today. People are forgetting we live in a market economy and that is even changing. David DOES have the right to set the price on his work, it is up to the consumer to PURCHASE IT OR NOT, this does not include obtaining it through means beyond David's control. I understand you disagree, I agree to an extant, but I still acknowledge that is how it is today. David agrees as well that the way things are today are flawed. This is why I was making MY point (my opinion rather) Having entertainment as an industry is a problem, and for a number of reasons. I hope you can agree with that. I am curious as to how David feels of my opinion. Like I said before, I would prefer seeing entertainment done on the side more. This also hit's back to the People are capable of different types of work.

 

"it's 2010, time to wake up" my point is that David is well aware things are different, things are changing, but not you or I know what 2010 is and what it will bring. 

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Mark17

Ok, I understand what copyright law is and for the most part, how it works. Yes, I do disagree with it. I simply don't understand how you can set a price on a piece of intellectual property, no matter who created it, when it could just easily be made available to everyone. Personally, I just don't understand the concept of paying for copies of information. I've thought about it and have tried to see it from another point view but I just can't understand where this monetary value in intellectual property comes from. Anyway, that's just how I see it. David even goes on to say that information wants to be free and innovation wants to be shared. And he says this:

"...if artists and innovators have no opportunity to be fairly rewarded from their work then we all suffer."

After that he says that money has always been a good motivator, I won't argue with that, but I don't think that money is everything. I don't think that money is necessary for them to keep creating. I don't have a problem with wanting people to give you money for something you created, but I just don't think you should force people to give you money or go after them for stealing if they somehow acquire something you created by using some sort of distribution that isn't controlled by you. I don't see how "we all suffer" because a single individual doesn't get what they think they should get, as far as money goes. Copyright law also prevents people from taking someone else's ideas and using them to improve on and possibly make them better. Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to make money from an idea, but I think that we should embrace the technology we have and use it to share content and information. I think the sharing of ideas and information would ultimately do the opposite of making everyone suffer. I also think that people would be more willing to pay for something if they aren't being told, "you have to pay this much or you can't have it." I know I would, but that's just me.

David says that he has the right to control the distribution and the right to set prices. I understand those rights come from copyright law as it stands today.  What I don't understand is when he says this:

"Copyright law has not kept up with this situation.  Even worse, the big distributors of books and music and movies are becoming copyright extortionists."

Ok, he is saying that copyright law has not kept up with distribution technology, and to me it appears he is saying that the big distributors are becoming extortionists using copyright law. Then he goes on to use Disney as an example. I guess I just don't understand what he means by that. He calls them copyright extortionists, but but according to the copyright law, what these distributors are doing is perfectly fine. I don't quite understand how copyright law would "keep up" with the new technology and electronic distribution of content. What exactly would change about it and what exactly does he think is flawed about? Maybe I just completely missed where he thinks it is flawed, but I don't understand what he would specifically change about it. 

And in his article a few weeks ago he says

"...the producers of books and music, TV and movies, are wasting too much money chasing after file-sharers."

It appears that he is against these distributors going after file sharers and upholding copyright law, yet he is still for copyright law and using it to say he has the right to control distribution and that nobody can have a copy of the content without paying. Isn't that all the distributors are trying to do?

I understand how things stand today as well as where copyright law stands and I'm not denying it, but I'm more or less trying to express how I feel about copyright law and why I don't like it.  Maybe my thoughts and ideas are just wishful thinking, but that's just how I see things.

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Danthrax66

Can I get a list of all of your works so I can torrent them?

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gendoikari1

Series

The War Against the Chtorr
A Matter for Men (1983)
A Day for Damnation (1984)
A Rage for Revenge (1989)
A Season for Slaughter (1992)

Star Wolf
Yesterday's Children (aka Starhunt) (1972, rv.1980)
Voyage of the Star Wolf (1990)
The Middle of Nowhere (1995)
Blood and Fire (2004)

The Dingilliad
Jumping Off the Planet (2000)
Bouncing Off the Moon (2001)
Leaping to the Stars (2002)

Trackers
Under the Eye of God (1993)
A Covenant of Justice (1994)

Star Trek novels
The Galactic Whirlpool (1980)
The Trouble With Tribbles (photonovel) (1977)
Encounter at Farpoint (1987)

Other novels
The Flying Sorcerers (aka The Misspelled Magician) (1971) (with Larry Niven)
Space Skimmer (1972)
When HARLIE Was One (1972; rv. as When HARLIE Was One, Release 2.0, 1988)
Battle For the Planet of the Apes (1973)
The Man Who Folded Himself (1973)
Moonstar Odyssey (1977)
Deathbeast (1978)
Chess with a Dragon (1987)
The Martian Child (2002)
Child of Earth (2005)

Collections
With a Finger in My I (1972)
Alternate Gerrolds (2005)
The Involuntary Human (2007)

Anthologies (editor)
Protostars (1971) (with Stephen Goldin)
Generation (1972)
Science Fiction Emphasis 1 (1974)
Alternities (1974)
Ascents of Wonder (1977)

Nonfiction
The Trouble With Tribbles (1973)
The World of Star Trek (1973, rv.1984)
Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy (2001)
Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix (2003) (with Glenn Yeffeth)
Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek (2006) (with Robert J. Sawyer)

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aviaggio

Electronic distribution encourages us to disrespect the value of intellectual property.

No. It encourages us to redefine the value of intellectual property. The current model being used by mainstream media, from which you derive your living, is an old, outdated, and archaic scheme that has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and has no chance of survival. You are not part of the solution. You are part of the problem. Adapt or die.

The intention of copyright law, and patent law as well, is to give the creator/inventor/producer of the work a time-specific opportunity to earn a fair profit from his labors.  Yes, information wants to be free.  Yes, innovation needs to be shared.  I know all that, you don’t need to remind me again—but if artists and innovators have no opportunity to be fairly rewarded from their work then we all suffer.

Again, you trip on multiple issues in 4 sentences, and try to mush them all together, so apparently you DO need to again be reminded. This indeed was the original intention of copyright and patent law, but it has been hideously transformed by Corporate America into a sinister beast that seeks only endless royalties and never-ending control. And I highly doubt the creators of copyright intended for the RIAA and MPAA to use it as a means to extort consumers for an even more lucrative revenue stream than simple sales would generate. Do you think the music labels and movie studios care a rat's ass about the artists and filmmakers? Copyright originated as a system that protected the little guy from the large corporate entities, both as a means of income for their work and ensuring public dissemination of said work. Unfortunately it no longer does either.

And exactly how long should that "time-specific opportunity" be? Cause right now it's what, 70+ years? Seriously? Doesn't it seem a bit retarded that you can write a book in your 20s and expect to still be in control of that material and collecting royalties well into your 90s? Or that your offspring will continue to do so after you're long gone? Copyright was not intended to be a path to easy street for artists and multiple generations of their lineage. Paid fairly? Yes. Paid continually, decade after decade, and in control for all eternity? No. And how exactly is century-old intellectual property supposed to be beneficial to the public once it finally transfers to the public domain?

But I completely understand your point of view. You've been indoctrinated into a broken system that has, for the better part of a century, entitled creators of certain media to earn far more money than they deserve relative to the amount of work they put forth. Of course you're going to defend such a system as vigorously as possible, because y'know, having a real job sucks. But the writing is on the wall (no pun intended I assure you). The gravy train is about to derail, and the sooner you and others like you realize this the better off we'll all be.

Copy wrong indeed. 

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timmyw

All I can add is what was the framers intent in the Copyright Clause of the Constitution.

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.

Locking away intellectual property for a century will stiffle progress. Ensuring Authors and Inventors are rewarded for their work will promote progress but when copyright and patent law becomes a weapon to stife progress it perverts the very intent of the law.

The framers saw this needed to be time-limited so others could build on preceding works. The original term was 14 years with the ability to extend it for 14 more. Patent was similarly limited to not more than 14 years. In a world where technological advances are coming at an even more rapid rate we have seen corporations sucessfully lobby to extend copyright.

Copyright and patent laws have not changed to accomodate the changing landscape of progress. Frankly, we need to reinvent these laws for the 21st century. We have tried to fit old ideas of copyright and patent into a new world. Why should I only get a 20 year patent for inventing an electronic device, but the software I write to control it will be copyright protected for 70 years after my death (with any luck, well into the next century). Why the huge disparity between different kinds of IP?

Also, if we are truly trying to reward the author of a work, why do we need copyright to extend 70 years beyond their death? Having a legacy to pass to your children is one thing, but 70 years is to protect the corporations not author's children.

 

 

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gendoikari1

http://you-win-the-internet.com/?n=aviaggio

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Cooketh

Most intellgient Answer I've heard concerning this topic in months.

Well done.

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titan8813

After being this explicit about the process and how it affects those involved, it's a shame that there are still those who think it's still okay.  I thought it was pretty ironic the guy who said the power was in the hands of the consumers, while he didn't realize that if the consumers steal the producers out of being productive, then there won't be anything to consume.  Heh.

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Danthrax66

Well if the only thing the producers are producing is shit why should the consumer pay for it? If something is good it's going to make money Yavatar) if it isn't then it won't make money (hurt locker) and even though less ppl torrented it they are going after them with more lawsuits because they didn't make money because the movie sucked. Now you justify that. It's fucking bullshit don't defend them.

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gendoikari1

Not necessarily. In my opinion Avatar was the second-worst movie of 2009 (first being The Hurt Locker), but it still made money.

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Cooketh

Those words in quotes, are the words of focus here.

In your experience profits are almost always used to reinvest in creating more of the artist's dreams?

if you call Whiskey, Cocaine, and hookers a reinvestment, then yes the music industry (metallica) surely reinvests.

 If you call hard wiring kids to buy your (and i mean this) seriously evil intended "marketing mouse" content reinvestment, then yes Disney reinvests.

 I can name 100 other examples in every industry, ESPECIALLY THE GAMING INDUSTRY, where they aren't reinvesting to create dreams. They are either reinvesting to make bigger profits, or reinvesting to literally break dreams (destroy their competition).

 This writer is far too optimistic and I'm glad pirating is getting the attention of these industries. Sucks when they power is in the hands of the consumer for once huh?

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Cache

I hope you legally downloaded a copy of your own book.  After all, it'd suck to have your publisher sue you for not giving them a rightful share of the profits due to an illegal download--whether you wrote the content or not.

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aviaggio

Agreed, because while he may own the rights to the contents of that digital file he's not entitled to the medium in which it's delivered, in this case the digital file. Sucks, don't it?

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Mighty BOB!

I mostly agree with the article and there's really only one point of contention for me, and that's the idea of "licencing" access to content. 

I agree that there is an implied license/contract when you buy a movie ticket or a physical item that states "I won't copy and redistribute this and affect your income" even if you don't have to actually sign or agree to something.  And you're again right that we don't actually own the content in the object we just purchased.  If I go buy When HARLIE Was One I own a physical copy of the book, but the story itself is still yours of course; still owned by you.  (Same thing if I buy an Ozzy CD.  I own the disc, but he still owns Thunder Underground.)

What I disagree with is the licencing idea.  I didn't pay for a license to read your book, I paid for a physical copy of your book (hypothetically;  I don't actually have your book. :P )  I own that copy, not a license.  A license is something you have to operate a motor vehicle, or own a firearm.  The idea being if you screw up really bad, or it expires, it gets taken away from you.  Sure there are types of licenses that never expire, but I'm getting to my point.

The real reason the idea of "licencing" when it comes to accessing content like music, movies, stories, etc. bugs me is that the system is being abused like you said yourself with the big distributors becoming copyright extortionists.  They would LOVE if they could take away my fair use rights.  They would LOVE if I had to pay for the same content again and again (for example, if I had to pay for the same song over and over for each device I wanted to use to listen to it [computer 1, computer 2, mp3 player, phone, stream it to my home entertainment system, etc.])and if they could take away my right to use the copies of content I paid for at a later date (and in fact they have done that before, shutting down DRM authentication servers which screwed people out of entire music collections) and have to pay once more.

I don't like the idea of the consumer content license because these bullies will do their best to revoke it just to nickel and dime you.  I want to own the copies I pay for, not license them, and all the fair-use rights that ownership implies.  No I don't want to steal profits or redistribute it myself and profit from their works, I just want them to trust me and not automatically assume I'm a criminal and let me do what I want with what I paid for (as long as it is personal use).

No that wasn't supposed to be a defense of piracy.  I agree entirely with the article except on this one concept, which is almost just an issue of semantics.. almost.

 

-edit- See michaelh's reply below mine as well.  I just don't want my consumer rights to enjoy what I paid for trodden upon, which is something they seem hell-bent on doing. I'm giving them money, shouldn't they be the ones trying to please me and not the other way around?

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michaelh

I was fully prepared to whip out a comment to the effect of, "Get off it already, find something new to talk about." The exploration of the culture of scarcity turning to one of abundance was interesting as well as the author's direct experience with it.  The complaint I have is that the pedantic explanation of copyright basics comes off as condescending. 

Piracy directly affects what ends up in my wallet at the end of the year too, so it's not like I'm looking to justify it. The statements about fair use directly contradict what the modern reality is, though. We have companies tenaciously guarding their IP to the detriment of the end-user experience. Look at the CD market - it's all but dead after piracy paved the way for recognition of the advantages of downloadable music. Optical media is also on the decline with on-demand and download services filling the niche. Yet companies still have EULAs, ToS and DRM that castrates the customer's ability to enjoy fair use. 

Fair use is such a nebulous concept that it doesn't protect the consumer and still allows companies to dictate under what conditions that freedom might be enjoyed. Making a copy of a DVD as a backup, for example, is widely considered fair use but is still completely against the DMCA due to the requirement of circumventing copy-protection. My sister is not legally allowed to copy DVDs in order to prepare for their inevitable destruction at the hands of her 3-year-old. I, myself, don't always adhere to the letter of the law when I find that I can't enjoy content I've paid for in the method I wish to. 

My point is that while it's important to protect the rights of the creators, it's equally important to protect the rights of the consumer as well. Make content as easy to enjoy as possible and you'll see a dramatic decline in piracy of all sorts. I cite my failure to resist Valve's Steam sales as evidence.

Despite my tirade, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article. Thank you.

 

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canbbb

David,

 You hit it out of the park with this one.  Great article.  It's extremly clear, and I can't wait (sorry to invite the usual flaming with my next comment) for what inventive and usually stupid way will some people try to still justify their piracy after that. 

The real point - and that's where this gets real interesting - is that the Internet is not going away.  And I'm betting that writers and other creators won't either.  So *how* will the internet transform the distribution of their work - or the work itself even?  That will be what we will all witness in the next few years.  Our children will probably be amazed that there ever was a time when people paid for a printed copy, or that there was such a thing as "piracy" of content.  Music, stories, movies, games will all need to evolve... and that's probably one of the good things of a "free" market - it will force that evolution. 

In the words of Johnny Storm, "Flame On".

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albe23

Good article.

"Force has no place where there is need of skill." - Herodotus (484 BC -
430 BC)

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schmitty6633

Great article, I really enjoyed it. 

 I just wanted to let you know that before the comments section below this article is flooded with stupid comments by close minded people trying to justify piracy. 

Keep up the good work!!! 

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steakbomb

Find a new topic... we get it... rights to a product is a delicate balancing act and we shouldn't illegally download stuff. 

 

Kyle

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