Comments on: never have I seen the New York Times get it so wrong Blog, news, books Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:56:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: observer Mon, 04 Apr 2005 17:36:05 +0000 The water analogy fails.
It is not water that is posing as content.
One designs and builds a machine to draw water and collects a fee for the privilege of using the machine. Later, another one comes along and builds a machine designed to draw water, not from its source but from the operations of the original machine and without payment. It is the design of the original machine that is what is posing as content. The second innovator has built something that makes its profits through the illegal use of the first innovator’s creation. One can argue that sounds, words or the ability to see are the same as water or air for that matter, but musical composition, film, literature, images are not. They have been arranged.

Same goes for building a house. Anyone can build their own house, but I’d like to see anyone get away with building a Frank Gehry design EXACT in detail, size and scale and do it freely. Would Gehry be trying to shut down every tool manufacturer out there?

I can buy a book. I can sell that same book and even profit off the sale of that same book. What I cannot do legally – is use my printing press to make copies of the same book and sell those copies. Nor can I offer my printing press to others to come and make exact copies of someone else’s book. That shouldn’t make my printing press illegal; only my business that employs my press for illegal activity.

By: Rob Myers Mon, 04 Apr 2005 08:32:37 +0000 copyright has ALWAYS been the brake on the illegal USE of technology to undermine the property rights of original creative authors and artists. there is nothing new about this.

Since it is copyright that makes such use illegal, this is a circular argument.

Possibly you mean immoral, but then that would not be an economic argument.

And we’ve established that copyright is a property right? Strange property right. When I buy a house I don’t buy the right to prevent other people building houses.

and here’s the rub. the claim that copyright “harms” innovation or technology is at it’s core an absurdity.

It would certainly harm commerce. Imagine if Sony had lost Betamax. No multi-billion-dollar video sales industry…

it is the behaviour of technology users – and NOTHING else – that is to blame.

Yes. The people who use technology to make overpriced goods and to try to lock them down.

Have you seen the MGM documents? DVDs have a much higher profit margin than the older technology of video tape. That is clearly blameworthy use of technology.

By: Liam Rory O'Brien Sat, 02 Apr 2005 21:00:27 +0000 It seems to me some people here haven’t quite grasped the dichotomy between real property rights and intellectual property rights and why each are granted – on the one hand we have the information wants to/should always be free brigade whereas on the other there is the intellectual property should be the same as real property blind mice crew.

Why are property rights used? Well the labour theory (which evolved from the writings of john locke) states that real property rights should be granted its to prevent the tragedy of the commons – if others are allowed to take the fruits of my labour it is impossible for me to recieve a return for the time and effort I put into, for example, growing some turnips.

Someone taking my turnips is a ‘negative externality’ because if you take my goods I can’t have them and this will discourage observers from investing their time growing vegetables. To prevent these ‘negative externalities’ I am granted proprietary rights over my turnips and consequently can recover on my investment and perhaps even make a small profit.

The difference between real property and intellectual property is that when someone downloads a song I have written I am not similarly discouraged from making music in the future. I can recover on my investment through live performances, cd sales or even selling t-shirts to those lucky enough to have heard the songs I have written!

Once I have regained the costs I incurred whilst creating my album anyone who hears my music through whatever means can recieve a benefit without it having any negative effect on me! This is a positive externality and rarely occurs with real property.

This is why we don’t need to use property rights to prevent free riding in the case of intellectual property and why the new york times piece is ‘insanely poor’ to hint that we do!

In my opinion therefore intellectual property rights are only justified to the extent that artists are able to recoup their costs of expression and are encouraged to invest in producing new music and not to the extent that our short sighted rodent friends recommend in granting full property rights over intellectual property!

It would be unjustified to restrict filesharing therefore because the artists affected by file sharing are still covering their costs through record sales, touring and the like.

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Sat, 02 Apr 2005 07:29:35 +0000 To nordsieck,

The definition of property is greatly determined
by the context that it is used in. Within in
your context, property can be defined as a bundle
of rights (google on “property is a bundle of
rights”). These rights could not have existed
without a government formed by people. So, I
disagree with your statement that the property
rights even remain when there is no government.

One good evidence that supports my position is
that the concept of property is not universal.
Not all societies through history have the concept
of property. It is only the rise of individualism
that the concept of individual property becomes
more important.

The only thing that remains the same when a government
disappears is the physical matter itself. A rock
remains a rock in spite of governments. But the
concept of ownership (that property is based on) over
the rock is greatly determined by the government or
society that happens to cover the area where the
rock is.

I don’t have problem with the concept of intellectual
property rights. It is a good antidote against the
mythical natural and moral rights that many authors
and artists claim to have. But, the problem is that
some people like Three Blind Mice try to make
intellectual property rights equivalent to
real property rights.

There are many kinds of rights we have. We have
non-property rights and property rights. Under
the category of property rights, we have real property
rights, personal property rights, and intellectual
property rights. People who do not know the
distinction between categories of rights are doomed
to confuse them and make some wild or unrealistic
assertions about their rights just like Three
Blind Mice who asserts that authors and artists
have perpetual intellectual property rights just
like perpetual real property rights (of course,
being blind and selective they are, they do not want
to say that intellectual property rights should be
taxed every year just like the real property rights).

It takes a lot of effort to remain vigilant against
authors and artists and people who try to transform
intellectual property rights into natural or moral
rights. A good example is the right of attribution.
It is interesting to note that those who support
minimal exclusive rights as granted in copyright
actually believe that right of attribution is an
exception and that it is a moral right and it should
be perpetual, beyond the end of copyright term.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.

By: nordsieck Sat, 02 Apr 2005 06:00:16 +0000 I think that one of the fundamental mistakes that is being made in the “intellectual property” debates is that so-called intellectual property is not actual property.

To get a good handle on it – simply look at what would happen in an absense of government. Property rights remain unchanged – people have property because they secure physical things by one means or another.

What about copyright? There is no such thing. Copyrights and Patents are created by governments to stimulate the creation of ideas. Although they can masquerade as property – copyrights and patents can be sold, qualify as “work for hire”, etc. – they are not a “natural right”.

Since “intellectual property” is actually a set of rights granted by society in exchange for a benefit – increased creativity as well as access to that creativity, society should be able to get the greatest return on its concession. The change in profit that a content creator makes is irrelevant to the discussion as said profit is not based on a natural right, but on a consession by society.

By: Rockwalrus Fri, 01 Apr 2005 04:21:34 +0000 Imagine living in a world ran by the three blind mice. The people there would have to spend 98% of their income for water, paid to one of the handful of people lucky enough to have inherited all the land where the major and minor sources of water can be found. The people are free to choose their feudal lord, of course, to risk pirating some other waterright owner’s aquifer by digging a well, or to start a new legitimate water business by yelling at the clouds “I hereby command all the rain to fall RIGHT HERE!”, but surprisingly, most still for some reason seem discontent.

Fortunately, music is a welcome retreat. The Rodent Innovation Advancement Association holds the patents on most of the commonly imitated chords, such as the tonic and the dominant, but they are perfectly willing to licence their usage for a reasonable fee. For instance, an artist, whose music contains an instance of the cliched I-IV-V-I pattern need only pay $20000 in advance plus 10% of gross revenue. Those so unoriginal as to use more common chords pay more, so as to encourage more innovation.

As Western music only contains a relatively small number of chord forms, all of them were quickly patented. Owners of resonant chords, such as the Augmented Seventh Chord Association for Progress tend to do better than those who own dissonate chords, but this is all for the good of encouraging innovation, especially innovation in the field of somehow obtaining the existing patents on resonate chords.

Obviously, all this serves to encourage innovation. Artists not hand-picked by the cross-licenced chord cartel are generally unable to afford traditional music scales, and so are forced to create their own microtonic systems in which to innovate their own chords. Since a mere change in notation is not enough to circumvent a chord patent, and the properties of chords being based solidly in easily understood and exploited physical and psychological properties, the music produced by these entrepenuers is less costly but truly vomitous; still it would be impossible to say that such excrible cacophy is not innovative. It is important to realize that scourge of derivative chords must be carefully controlled.

Inexplicably, the most popular song amoung the mice’s citizens is “I’m So Thirsty,” accompanied entirely by drums.

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Fri, 01 Apr 2005 01:33:57 +0000 To KirbyMeister,

Huh? I don’t understand what you are talking

I was commenting on three actions that Eric D W
listed: downloading music, making back-up copies,
and playing music on MP3 player. It seems that
Eric made a wrong assumption that just because
you have CD that you lawfully purchased, you can
download any music from anywhere on the network
as long as it is identical to the music on CD.

Three Blind Mice are very inept in using analogy.
They continue to confuse tangible things with
intangible things because they are blind to the
subtle differences between them. It is very old

Three Blind Mice made a false assumption that
there will be infinite supply of new water which
is not true. Also, they made a false assumption
that two physically separate tangible things
(i.e., two separate dams) can’t have same intangible
things (i.e. both dams can be identical in shape,
color, and other architectural features).

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.

By: KirbyMeister Thu, 31 Mar 2005 23:41:31 +0000 Joseph: When the mice are saying seek out your own independant water supply, they mean a new work, not a copy of a non-free work.


By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Thu, 31 Mar 2005 23:33:49 +0000 To Eric D W,

The actions that you listed are permissible only
if the original music is lawfully placed on network.

I am not on Three Blind Mice’s side but copyright
is about control over copies. Even though the music
that is unlawfully placed on network is totally
identical to the music on CD that you lawfully
purchased, it is still illegal to make a copy of
the first music. The proper way it so copy directly
from the CD that you lawfully purchased as long as
the copy is permitted by copyright law and court

Just because an illegal copy is totally identical
to legal copy does not make the illegal copy legal.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.

By: Rob Thu, 31 Mar 2005 19:56:32 +0000 Ed Lyons:

That might prevent companies from developing P2P filesharing software, but it would still be able to be developed by not-for-profit individuals and released as FOSS. It would turn into whack-a-mole for the content industry (which arguably is what they are facing anyway) just like it was before these companies existed.


There’s no point in me building a new dam downriver if yours blocks all the water.

By: KirbyMeister Thu, 31 Mar 2005 19:11:07 +0000 It’s pretty funny seeing Joseph Pietro Riolo and The Mice we’re trying to UnBlind here duke it out. One of them believes the GPL is too restrictive, the other one believes that everything should be owned. It’s like seeing two ends of a spectrum.

Eric D W: thanks for reminding us that we should be moonshining instead of bootlegging, and that not all the beer is alcoholic. :)

three blind mice: I wonder, you say that having everything shared would lead to some cultural armageddon, and there could be a small drop in new culture while everything adjusts, however, do you oppose people making free-as-in-freedom ‘information’? Saying that having them sharing their stuff leading to cultural armageddon doesnt count as a response.

By: Ed Lyons Thu, 31 Mar 2005 18:21:40 +0000 I’m not comfortable that Grokster is making money primarily from the illegality. (Sure, copy machines could be used to duplicate books, but does anyone think Xerox made it big solely because people were photocopying books? Grokster’s advertising formula success depends on illegal activity and that doesn’t rub me the right way) Grokster is saying that they don’t encourage people to break the law. But their ad revenue depends on it. It’s kind of like cigarette companies claiming that they don’t want kids to start smoking. But if they didn’t (no one starts smoking after 19) they would make no money.

I predict that in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court will issue a new “viable business” test for software: if the companies making content-related software could be a viable business without infringement, they get to stay in business. If not, their activity is illegal.

By: Eric D W Thu, 31 Mar 2005 14:32:08 +0000 TBM=”rob, we can’t argue with that. that’s a fair and accurate analogy of our position. we would have sharks with friggin laser beams too.

but if extend your analogy a bit further you might also observe that the tight controls on the existing water supply do not prevent you from seeking out (or creating) your own independent water supplies, building your own dams, and doing the same thing to your downstream consumers.

in fact, such tight controls might thought even ENCOURAGE you to engage in this sort of activity.


more water, more dams, more choice for consumers of water….

the terrible nightmare scenario.”

Isn’t that exactly what P2P software is attempting to do? You yourself said it, they’re not distributing only copyrighted materials.

If you take a step back and view the situation as a whole, rather than arguing each detail, you’ll notice that grokster is not the one violating the law, but rather some of their users are. Holding grokster accountable for the actions of their consumers is an absurd idea, despite the rise in lawsuits against manufacturers for consumer misuse of products.

As a side not, the music industry claims that 90% of materials shared via grokster are copyrighted, thus breaking copyright law. What that doesn’t take into account are the copyrighted materials being shared for completely legitamate reasons. I can provide several scenarios for you, if you’d like. In fact here’s one to wet your whistle.

I have a friend who has only a laptop as a personal computer. He does not have a cd burner on his laptop, so he downloads the music he has purchased on CD via file sharing networks, for back-up copies and for his mp3 player. You might try to argue, with a bit of stretching, that this is still against copyright law, but that would be senseless and a bit absurd.

By: David Dixon Thu, 31 Mar 2005 00:34:34 +0000 I wonder if three blind mice would have used the same arguments thirty years ago about the availability of blank cassette tapes.

I have a whole monologue about the positive pressure free sharing puts on artists and music fans, but I’m still working on it for next week’s “Signal or Noise II” conference.

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Wed, 30 Mar 2005 22:14:49 +0000 To Three Blind Mice,

Bad news for you!

You have just infringed someone’s copyright. That
someone is Richard K. Armey. I will let the math tell
you why.

Richard K. Armey’s opinion in The Washington Times has
810 words. You have stolen…oops…quoted his 92
words. That is about 11%. That is not bad. But, not
every word in his article has equal weight. Some
words carry more weight. The fact that you stole his
essential, valuable words instead of his trivial words
increases the value of 11% greatly.

What’s more, you are exploiting his labor that he put
in choosing valuable words. All you have contributed
to your comment is measly 30 words. That is one third
of the words that you stole from Richard K. Armey.

You better hurry up and pay him for using his valuable
words. You may consider paying 50 cents for each of
his valuable words. That amounts to $46.00. A
letter of apology is advisable.

Finally, learn to abide by copyright law.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.

By: three blind mice Wed, 30 Mar 2005 20:50:09 +0000 doh!

in fact, such tight controls might [perish the] thought even ENCOURAGE you to engage in this sort of activity.

oh, and thanks everyone for a good discussion and a good healthy thread. as usual, an impressive load of talent in here.

to be continued.

By: three blind mice Wed, 30 Mar 2005 20:43:36 +0000 rob, we can’t argue with that. that’s a fair and accurate analogy of our position. we would have sharks with friggin laser beams too.

but if extend your analogy a bit further you might also observe that the tight controls on the existing water supply do not prevent you from seeking out (or creating) your own independent water supplies, building your own dams, and doing the same thing to your downstream consumers.

in fact, such tight controls might thought even ENCOURAGE you to engage in this sort of activity.


more water, more dams, more choice for consumers of water….

the terrible nightmare scenario.

By: Alan De Smet Wed, 30 Mar 2005 17:32:09 +0000 three blind mice: I suspect we’re just arguing semantics here. Ultimately “information wants to be free” is a just a catchphrase, a way of summarizing a key aspect to a complex issue. Taken as “information tends to escape” or “it’s darn hard to stop information from spreading”, then even works protected by copyright “want” to be free. But your point is well taken.

By: Rob Wed, 30 Mar 2005 17:06:11 +0000 and what the content industry is trying to do is block the dam so no water flows out of it, unless the towns downstream pay them for it; and they’d like to have a government-patrolled chain-link fence around it so people don’t sneak in and build their own pump station or use water trucks to sneak water out without paying.

By: three blind mice Wed, 30 Mar 2005 17:00:17 +0000 alan de smet, with all due apologies, we think we understood exactly what you meant, but yes we did misunderstand entirely your take. when everyone is shooting at you sometimes innocent bystanders get capped in the cross-fire. apologies to you for that.

perhaps our reply was also unclear.

your observation is entirely correct and indeed insightful. we don’t disagree. from gutenburg to grokster advancements in technology have made it easier to copy and “share” information. the internet is the asymptotic result of a few hundred years of non-linear innovation in technology. engineers have strived and will continue to strive to invent better ways to “share” information.

but this isn’t quite the same thing as society making it easier to share information. as you no doubt understand, copyright has ALWAYS been the brake on the illegal USE of technology to undermine the property rights of original creative authors and artists. there is nothing new about this.

we maintain (with a slight clarification): copyrighted information does not want to be free – but agree with you that advances in technology make containment harder and harder.

and here’s the rub. the claim that copyright “harms” innovation or technology is at it’s core an absurdity. it is the behaviour of technology users – and NOTHING else – that is to blame.

the silly sad fact of the this whole P2P thing is that it ain’t the RIAA who are threatening grokster, it is the people who use and it abuse it for illegal purposes. they will be the ones to blame when it is silenced. no one else.

By: Alan De Smet Wed, 30 Mar 2005 15:58:13 +0000 three blind mice: You’ve completely missing my point. Worse, you’ve assumed something wrong about my beliefs. Perhaps I was too brief, I’ll try to be more clear.

Throughout human history (and pre-history) humanity has moved to make it easier to share information. The development of language made it easier to share information with others. The development of writing made it possible to share information when you’re not immediately present. Mail systems made it possible to transmit information over long distances. Printing made it possible to share information with large numbers of people (relatively) inexpensively. Telegraphs (and later telephones) made it possible to share information quickly over great distances.

Thanks to the internet, we can now share textual information for almost no cost. Audio information is relatively cheap. Video is still moderately expensive, but the price continues to fall. Tools like BitTorrent mean I can afford to host video information much less expensively.

Ultimately: humanity as a whole continues to make it easier to share information. We like sharing information. It’s gotten increasingly easier to do so. In the absence of external forces (primarily regulation) it will continue to do so.

This is what “information wants to be free” means. It doesn’t mean that information isn’t valuable. It’s doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t restrict the flow of information. It doesn’t mean information doesn’t have a price.

This isn’t a moral statement; it’s an observation. Someone who wants to keep information scarce should heed it as a warning. Indeed, in a sense the phrase “Water seeks its own level” is a warning as well. A civial engineer designing a dam must keep it in mind. Letting the water flow down the river is easy and cheap. Stopping it requires massive initial expenditures and continuous work to maintain. The same goes for intellectual property. Information tends to escape. As they say, “Two men can keep a secret, if one is dead.” To restrict the flow of information we have a complex set of laws and legal system. We can all sorts of DRM systems. We have complex contracts and end user license agreements. We have trade secrets, patents, copyright, trademarks, and more. We have lawyers who have dedicated their lices to intellectual property.

And, _I approve_. I like dams, and I like copyright law. (To be fair, I think it could use some tweaks, but on the whole, I like it.) Both are fighting uphill battles, but some battles are worth fighting, even if they’re hard.

Denying “information wants to be free” is like denying “water seeks its own level.” You’re missing a key observation. Without the observation that water seeks its own level, you’ll never build a successful dam. Without the observation that information wants to be free, you’ll never build an effective copyright system.

By: three blind mice Wed, 30 Mar 2005 12:54:45 +0000 and here a “sanely rich” editorial by dick armey appearing in the washington times.

Taking something for free that you would otherwise have to pay for is called stealing.

this is common sense wisdom.

but wait, it gets better!

Grokster doesn’t just turn a blind eye to the theft � what I’d call willful ignorance � but encourages it in order to make millions of dollars in advertising revenues each year based on the number of people who steal copyright-protected property. There is little dispute that more than 90 percent of the activity that Grokster profits from is illegal. And their profits rise in direct proportion to the amount of theft. That’s a racket worthy of Tony Soprano.(emphasis added)

bada bang, bada bing.

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Wed, 30 Mar 2005 06:58:07 +0000 To Three Blind Mice,

You are unrealistic. It is too easy for you to say to
come up with new chords when the existing chords are
patented or copyrighted than you actually try to do it.
I would challenge you to do that but I know that you
will never be able to satisfy my challenge because no
one lives in vacuum.

Do you ever wonder why the patent term is much shorter
than the copyright term? In the U.S., patent term last
for 20 years. That is less than three tenths of
life-plus-70 years in copyright term. Try to answer
the question.

You seem to have double standard on greed. While you
have a point that the habitual infringers are too greedy
and lazy to pay for the copyrighted works that they
habitually infringe and damage the reputation of the
majority who abide by the copyright law, you seem to
sanctify the greed on the part of authors and artists.
It is okay for the authors and artists to be greedy
but it is not okay for the users to be greedy. Copyright
system is a very powerful incentive system that propels
would-be-authors and artists to make their works available
to the public. That sounds good for the public. But,
authors and artists do not want to have their greed
in check. The longer their greed lasts, the more poisonous
and deadly they become to the public (greed is one of the
seven deadly sins). It seems that you actually encourage
that. What is your sense of balance?

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
comment in the public domain.

By: Dominik Rabiej Tue, 29 Mar 2005 22:27:11 +0000 The Times article Gareth linked hits the rebuttal square on the head:

But the roughly 10 per cent of �legal� file-swapping on these networks allows programmers to swap code, academics to exchange learned papers and little-known musicians to gain a fan base. Why should the music industry be able to close such communications channels? Just because technology comes along and disrupts existing business models, should copyright owners not find clever ways to adapt, rather than suing 12-year-olds and fighting software developers in court?

By: FrF Tue, 29 Mar 2005 22:24:12 +0000 One of the other sites on my blogroll referenced this link, too, but with a completely different slant. Coolfer writes:

I don’t recall ever reading such a fair, reasonable take on the issue in any of the New York publications.