August 15, 2005  ·  Hilary Rosen

a few thoughts vis a vis some of the comments.
I don’t believe we live in a world now in which it is either the corporate investment in artistic works that then get distributed versus the individual or communal creation that has no audience. i am convinced that there are many more grays than that and there are many more opportunities than that to be seen, heard, viewed, appreciated. i read some of the stuff over the last month from “Free Culture” and was intirigued with the notion of a campaign to encourage creators to see the benefits of multidistribution venues, but i was also surprised and disappointed at the cynicism about the potential success without the corporate investment.

sorry, i just don’t think that is the corporation’s fault.

moreover, what exactly are we talking about anyway when it comes to works at that are so stifled? I just haven’t seen an environ7ement that suffers from an excess of “ownership.” i would love some specific examples in the hopes that you will open my eyes.

  • http://blogs.jigzaw.com Shannon Clark

    Hilary,

    An example for you – and really just the tip of the iceberg.

    From a recent interview in Paste Magazine (http://www.pastemagazine.com/action/article?article_id=1816) Beck says �The only difference is that it�s pretty much impossible to clear samples now. We had to stay away from samples as much as possible. The ones that we did use were just absolutely integral to the feeling or rhythm of the song. But, back then, it was basically me writing chord changes and melodies and stuff, and then endless records being scratched and little sounds coming off the turntable. Now it�s prohibitively difficult and expensive to justify your one weird little horn blare that happens for half of a second one time in a song and makes you give away 70 percent of the song and $50,000,� he laughs. �That�s where sampling has gone, and that�s why hip-hop sounds the way it does now.�

    Pretty much says it all.

    If an artist with Beck’s level of success in the past, and likely future successes, can’t express himself via sampling and remixing in the ways he would creatively like to, we are indeed seeing works being stifled and limited.

    Outside of music a very similar problem exists in print publication – where the long common practice of quotes and citations is increasingly being prohibited by publishers. If even academic works are being stifled in fairly clear fair use situations, again works are being stifled.

    In essense the demand by many owners of content that not only do they own it nearly in perpetuity (continually extending the life of copyrights meaning that the public domain stops somewhere in the 1920′s), as well as the ever more restrictive environment for anyone interested in using works of others as components of their work makes it ever smaller the domains where people can comfortably and legally operate.

    Indeed I wonder if great works of are such as the collages of Matisse or others would be allowed in today’s environment – or would the artist and his (or her) representatives have to “clear” each image and item they reuse and repurpose – each little corner of paper…. (not to mention would Warhol be able to do what he did with Cambell Soup Cans?)

    I’m a technologist and writer. When I create I want to be able to create in the ways that my muse dictates – however if, say I wanted to write a story which mentions brand names, which quotes from other publications, which uses real places – I may have resistance from publishers. And when it, if it is, is tried to be made into another medium – TV or Film for example, each of those brands would (in today’s environment) only be used if that placement were paid for. (it is a source of personal annoyance and pain when in a “reality” show there are no real brands just fake ones, a few paid placements, and lots of blurred areas).

    Sometime soon I think there will have to be a backlash to this blurring of reality.

    Real people operate in a world of brands – in a world of content from many sources – the music and tv clips in the background of many people’s private films of reality means that those same clips cannot (today) be shown in a movie theater or put on TV without great expense due to the enforcement of many different “rightsholders”.

    (see the example that Lessig cites frequently of the man who made a film that won awards at Cannes for a cost of about $400 but would cost 1000x to clear all the rights if he wanted to show it here in the US. That is stifling creativity.)

    Shannon

  • http://www.ibiblio.org/studioforrecording/ Tom Poe

    �It is the RIAA�s goal to add to the richness of the music listening experience and enable generations of listeners to access music�s fantastic breadth and depth. Promoting a product that encourages piracy on the net hurts everyone interested in a legitimate online music marketplace. As e-commerce becomes a reality for more and more people, the RIAA will be there to ensure that copyright protection keeps pace. This commitment to all music stakeholders will guarantee diversity and creativity for the music lovers of tomorrow.�
    http://www.riaa.com/news/newsletter/press1998/100998.asp

    I suspect you have used that same quote many times over the years, with each new technology advance, and in response to each **AA-initiated lawsuit interview.

    As the “product line” of the RIAA continues to expand, and as the RIAA begins to embrace the technology advances, albeit, with great harm to many who must suffer from their initial attempts to “control” those new technology advances, do you think the world will ever recover from the stifling of creativity and innovation caused by that organization?

  • poptones

    If an artist with Beck’s level of success in the past, and likely future successes, can’t express himself via sampling and remixing in the ways he would creatively like to, we are indeed seeing works being stifled and limited.

    If I go to a brick and mortar store and they want me to pay twenty dollars for a pair of sneakers I can buy at wal-mart for three bucks, should the store owner be compelled to sell them to me cheaper because I can go elsewhere? Wouldn’t the store owner, given time and dwindling market share, either change his prices or simply find another line of work? Who are we doing a favor by not protecting the rights of that store owner to be unresasonable? Isn’t the entire point of the U.S. Constitution to protect the individual most especially when that individual is being ureasonable in expressing an unpopular or socially offensive ideal?

    Now, the internet itself is either free or it isn’t. It may not be easy to find everything but that’s a problem with the technology, not the politics. If you know where to look you can still find Linus’ banned “linuxchix” supermodels sporting their tux tattoos; you can find remixes of everything from Abbey Road to Dark Side Of The Moon to Linda’s Vorona, and you can find more porn (of every illicit sort) than you could “enjoy” in dozen lifetimes – all of it “free via download.” And if all that’s not enough you can install linux and the very much “banned” decss utility that will allow you to rip encrypted DVDs, and if you need to covertly distribute your illicit content you can wrap it up in 512 bit encryption and “hide” it right in the public square… even if you’re part of a terrorist cell operating in Syria or Lybia or one of those other nations marked “illegal for export.”

    So how can you say expression is being “stifled?” The only thing that appears to be “stifled” in all this is the ability of entities (individuals and corporations) to generate income for themselves by co-opting, through force, the works of others.

    If artists (or their agents) demand unreasonable licensing fees, so what? Go to Magnatune and you can find entire songs to license for just a few hundred bucks. Most likely every single artist there would love the exposure that would come from being sampled in a Beck song and it might even help “make” a couple of them. In fact, someone as sharp as Beck shoul;d be able to figure out a way to actually buy some free publicity from something like that – make a point of how the samples all came from aspiring new artists who offer their music directly to their audience via this completely legal and free music download service…

    Conversely, what’s to stop Beck from making these tracks exactly as he sees fit and simply giving them away via the internet? All it would take is to “leak” a “bootleg cd” to a single anonymous friend and there would be no stopping that expression from seeing the light of day.

    Could it be that Beck doesn’t want to give away his work any more than those other artists he wants to “sample?”

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  • http://cv.arnists.com Árni St. Sigurðsson

    A simple counterexample to your notion that there are no spaces that suffer from an excess of ownership. Innovation is a space dominated by patents. Patents lock up ideas. Patents have become antithetical to the principle on which they were founded.

  • three blind mice

    Shannon Clark writes: If an artist with Beck’s level of success in the past, and likely future successes, can’t express himself via sampling and remixing in the ways he would creatively like to, we are indeed seeing works being stifled and limited.

    for every artist like beck that is “stifled” from copying the success of others, a new, original, fresh talent is encouraged to fill the void. contrary to the views of two turn tables and a microphone, it would seem to us that hip hop mediocrity is a result of too many covers, too many re-mixes, and too much derivative inspiration.

    I’m a technologist and writer. When I create I want to be able to create in the ways that my muse dictates – however if, say I wanted to write a story which mentions brand names, which quotes from other publications, which uses real places – I may have resistance from publishers.

    this seems like overblown hyperbole Shannon Clark. in addition to the mild constraints imposed by copyright and trademark, the writer’s muse is also “stifled” by laws against libel and slander, accuracy, public taste, and the publisher’s word count. the enormous volume of written material published every year would indicate that most writers live within all of these constraints quite comfortably.

    don’t make this appear harder than it is. we three blind mice, for example, wanted to use a quote from james gleick in a book we are writing. one sentence. we wrote to mr. gleick via his publisher and got a quick reply via e-mail: “sure, go ahead. thanks for asking.” we got a similar reply from a dozen or so other copyright owners. notably, Shannon Clark, not one refused when asked.

    poptones writes: Conversely, what’s to stop Beck from making these tracks exactly as he sees fit and simply giving them away via the internet? All it would take is to “leak” a “bootleg cd” to a single anonymous friend and there would be no stopping that expression from seeing the light of day.

    poptones you seem to be arguing from both sides of the fence. on one hand you deride the fact that the internet is used for illegal distribution stifling economic development, and on the other you argue that since the internet can be used for illegal distribution no “artists” can be stifled.

    the problem, poptones, is that having it both ways creates exactly the problems that both sides are complaining about.

    ms. rosen, the problem is not so much “works” that are stifled, the tension arises between innovation in technology and innovation in content. strong copyright and content control provides the economic platform for investment in content – but may put brakes on technological development.
    weak copyright and no control on content may undermine the economic incentives for investment in content, but opens to door to advances in technology for how content is distributed, delivered, and enjoyed.

    there are good and valid arguments on both sides. this is what creates the tension and this is where the discussion needs to be focused. bogus arguments that copyright stifles creativity are simply the technologist’s nose under the tent.

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  • poptones

    Can the whole three of you not see the merit in having both sides? Of course I argue from both sides – because both sides exist and both sides are equally valid market forces. Piracy and unauthorized remixes may be illegal and therefore excluded from the corporate shell game, but the same forum that gives these works avenue for distribution also helps maintain that balance – just as sit-ins and demonstrations and other acts of civil disobedience.

    If none of us *can* act in a way that is hostile to the interests of “intellectual ownership” then what incentive do those unreasonable store owners have to change? It makes no difference if I can buy those sneakers at wal-mart for one dollar or three if I am powerless to leave the store of the man demanding twenty.

    How ironic it is you, just a couple of weeks ago, were chiding me for being too narrow in my views and their expression… and now accuse me of playing too much of the court!

    I fail to see how “having oit both ways creates the problems both sides complain about.” One side says the rules are too strict and I say who cares? If a work has merit then it will find an audience whether the artist is able to profit directly from it or not. Why should this be a problem to those who at every turn demand the content be “free?”

    It seems to me these are the people who are playing both sides. Those rules that “stifle creativity” only apply within the context of making money – and since they are arguing that we should be stripping away the means for artists to generate a living from their works anyway, then what force can corporate publishers and their laws (or any trademark owners have upon “stifling” their expression?

    Like I said: I know a photographer who, despite having not stepped foot in the US in years, earns a living selling images that are, in most English speaking countries, controversial enough that he has to fear the US taking offense at his creative output and prosecuting him for it even while living half a world away. If you want to talk about stifling creativity, there’s your showcase.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com Commons Music

    Okay, I’ve placed this question to numerous people, and while it’s more to do with DRM than with copyright protection per se, I find it relevant, and perhaps you, Ms. Rosen, will be able to answer it:

    Let’s say Fox News puts DRM (in some form or another) on all its broadcasts.

    Now, let’s say someone wanted to come along and do a documentary like Outfoxed. So they spend hours recording the channel to DVDs trying to find whatever perceived bias they can discover. But when they go to rip those recordings to a format to edit in, they find it’s DRM’d.

    Now, putting aside the fair use arguments (I think Outfoxed was clearly fair use, for the record), and putting aside the politics of the movie, what is this documentary team to do?

    Let’s say there exists a rip for it, and they can disable the DRM, and they edit and release the movie. Ignoring the bad PR they’d get from it, Fox News sues the filmmakers.

    For what? Copyright infringement? No, not that. They know they’d likely lose to a fair use argument in court, which would set a bad precedent. Instead, they sue under the DMCA, saying the filmmakers couldn’t possibly have edited the footage without cracking their DRM, and thus are in violation of anti-circumvention aspects of the law. Fox News could lose in court, under the (damn near nonexistant) fair use clause of the DMCA, but the fact that documentarians would have to jump through that hoop is unacceptable.

    ————–

    As for stifling creation, I’d like to point everyone to this article, where, amongst other things, a documentary filmmaker cleared a cell phone ring–for SIX SECONDS–of the Rocky theme song, and the sync rights were some spectacular amount to clear (originally offered at $10,000).

    I, personally, would have claimed fair use there, but that indemnity insurance is a bitch.

  • three blind mice

    Now, let’s say someone wanted to come along and do a documentary like Outfoxed. So they spend hours recording the channel to DVDs trying to find whatever perceived bias they can discover. But when they go to rip those recordings to a format to edit in, they find it’s DRM’d.

    Commons Music you too are engaging in hyperbole.

    if the broadcast is DRM:ed, plug in your analog recorder, make an analog copy, digitize that, and rip away (within the constraints of fair use, that is.) what DRM will prevent you from doing is making an EXACT copy, but it can never prevent you from making inferior copies. just as you could always make copies of book pages on a copying machine, but you could not recreate the book, so does DRM recreate the balance under which fair use was created.

    poptones, you are conflating (or perhaps confusing) our comments over competing technological visions with competing economic visions. admittedly, it is hard to separate free as in free beer from free as in libre. as with our scandinavian neighbors it is a simple fact that free beer lubricates free speech.

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  • poptones

    Again, I just don’t see the validity in even trying to separate the two. I have my “paying jobs” and I have my expressions; with few exceptions (like when I took a phone job in a call center explicitly with the intent of being payed by the corporate culture while employing their contact base, resources and my apparent “official” credential to lead my clients toward free software solutions) do I otherwise expect my critiques of la mechanique to be supported economically by that system.

    I am one of those “remixers” myself, and so I have little sympathy for those (many of whom I very much doubt have spent much time at all actually “creating” rather than consuming) who claim “the man and his system is stifling creative expression.” I have created music videos assembled entirely from appropriated art – videos that would likely never stand a chance of appearing on any mainstream outlet; I “remix” images and have even spent a couple of days carefully uncensoring very hard core anime porn simply for the “expression” of sharing with the world a “Free” version of something some part of our society considers so atrocious it did not otherwise deserve to be seen. I have created parodies of commercial art incorporating all sorts of trademarked symbols into contexts which the owners would probably have very serious objection – and not once in all this has someone approached me to tell me how I couldn’t do it. I created my work and posted it to usenet and from there it was truly free to live or die as it was able.

    In none of these cases have I ever felt the least bit put upon by “the man” because I am not seeking payment for my work or even attribution. Not even my closest friends know of much of it. It is enough reward to see my work shared again and again knowing others find some merit in my expression. Are these not the ideals claimed by those in the “free culture movement?”

    Copyright does not prevent the creation of an expression. “Chilling effects” are for those who lack initiative or courage; copyright can only prevent the commercial distribution of a given work after it has been created. There is paying work and there is libre work. Anonymous publication is now easier and more effective than anyone even in my High School “class of ’80″ could ever have imagined. The only barrier left in all this is the ego of the creator… and, thankfully, technology still can’t do anything about that.

  • rodander

    Commons Music writes “. . . a documentary filmmaker cleared a cell phone ring�for SIX SECONDS�of the Rocky theme song, and the sync rights were some spectacular amount to clear (originally offered at $10,000).”

    Exactly. Obviously (by paying the $10k) the filmmaker wanted to convey the association with Rocky, most likely with the emotions that the Rocky themesong conjures up in each viewer (assuming no parody or other comment — we don’t know enough about fair use factors here to make a call). And that doesn’t belong to the filmmaker and he knows it — he obviously wants to use someone else’s expression for what that expression conveys to the viewer, otherwise he wouldn’t have paid for it. If he didn’t want to convey that expression, he’d use a random or generic ringtone and save the cash.

    How this arrangement stifles much creativity is beyond me. Just read (slowly, to yourself) the comment on how Beck, the creative genius, is complaining about not being able to lift somebody else’s horn blare, and ask yourself just how much “creativity” is being stifled. Toot your own horn, Beck. Or crack open your wallet and pay the frieght.

  • BruceH

    The biggest complaint I have with “ownership” culture is the length of ownership. Why should some recording company have copyright to works created by artists who died years ago? Take Hank Williams for example. Why can’t I use one of his songs in any way I please? The man’s been dead for over fifty years and his songs are iconic of 1950′s America. In my thinking, whatever justification there was for the monopolization of his music has long been realized and it is past time for his works to enter the public domain so that society may more greatly benifit from it. His successors in interest have long done so, and done so quite hansomely. They no longer deserve a monopoly on his work.

    Hank Williams is just one example of thousands. Furthermore, his music may be approaching the end of its usefulness to society. There is some danger that, by the time the copyright finally runs out, there will no longer be any interest at all in the works. An opportunity for others to profit from the work may be lost because the copyright holders refuse to release the works to the public domain before they are required to do so.

    The whole point of copyright, as everyone knows, is to grant a limited monopoly on works to the creators of those works so that the creators may see benefits that the work brings. The idea is that the public benifit is the greater good, but to realize it, the creator must have some incentive to create. Once the creator (or his designates) has had sufficient opportunity to realize benifits, the work should revert to the public domain so that the public may in turn benifit. That is easily understood and unreproachable. The issue at hand is the length of copyright. (And fair use, as in the case of sampling, but others have commented on that.)

    IMO, the original term of copyright (14 years) should be sufficient to capitalize on any given work. Others disagree. Fine. I am open to compromise, but the current term (life plus 70 years) is so long that it may as well be in perpetuity. Furthermore, as works approach the end of their copyright, copyright holders tend to press for ever longer extensions to the copyright act, so copyright may in fact be limitless so long as the rights holders continue to win legislative battles. I don’t see any reason why they will not continue to be able to do so.

    Et tu, Mickey Mouse?

  • Anonymous

    three blind mice, I am going to disagree with your statement below. I encourage you to read the document posted in this article

    http://p2pnet.net/story/5862

    What you are describing below of capturing the signal being sent to the analog outputs of device is now considered a “hardware attack” by Microsoft and Hollywood. The “analog hole” that everyone thought would always exist may be closed in the near future for most average consumers (non-techies).

    I am sceptical if this effort will be successful. On one hand, one would think the consumer would rebel. But they didn’t rebel when their DVD players could only play movies from sanctioned regions. Most people are not even aware of this fact.

    On the other hand, everyone but the consumer has something to gain from this effort to plug up the analog hole. It will mean that everyone will need to upgrade their computer/electronics hardware devices. Hardware/Software manufactures and Hollywood will all gain. If they can make it operate seemlessly (for 90% of the time or better), the consumer may not even notice for a long while.

    I read this document and I thought it was one of the scariest things I have read in a long while. I encourage everyone to take the time to read it.

    “if the broadcast is DRM:ed, plug in your analog recorder, make an analog copy, digitize that, and rip away (within the constraints of fair use, that is.) what DRM will prevent you from doing is making an EXACT copy, but it can never prevent you from making inferior copies. just as you could always make copies of book pages on a copying machine, but you could not recreate the book, so does DRM recreate the balance under which fair use was created.”

  • http://stunlaw.blogspot.com David Bjorkmann Berry

    The tension is one between:

    1. Public access to information and knowledge in a public sphere.

    2. Private ownership of information and knowledge.

    No matter how much you try to square them these basic liberal principles are in direct contradiction to each other. And whilst property was based on physical items at least there could be trade offs that many societies would accept (e.g. political equality but economic inequality).

    However when information and knowledge are privatised, the very preconditions of a critical public required within a democratic liberal society are denied to that public. This is the tension that is emerging the ability, to access, use and reuse information and knowledge (whether written, immaterial, music or art).

    At some point our societies will have to make a momentuous decision about what kind of society we want. Corporate controlled knowledge and a corresponding weakening of democratic society or democratic control of knowledge and a corresponding weakening of corporate control.

    That is the fundamental aspect of the knowledge economy, creative economy, information society – call it what you will. But the decision we are taking today for short-term corporate desire for profits (and of course influenced by organisations like the RIAA) will have effects on the democratic nature of our childrens and children’s children.

    The stifling is not just of creativity, it is and will be of democracy and freedom of expression itself.

  • http://stunlaw.blogspot.com David Bjorkmann Berry

    The tension is one between:

    1. Public access to information and knowledge in a public sphere.

    2. Private ownership of information and knowledge.

    No matter how much you try to square them these basic liberal principles are in direct contradiction to each other. And whilst property was based on physical items at least there could be trade offs that many societies would accept (e.g. political equality but economic inequality).

    However when information and knowledge are privatised, the very preconditions of a critical public required within a democratic liberal society are denied to that public. This is the tension that is emerging the ability, to access, use and reuse information and knowledge (whether written, immaterial, music or art).

    At some point our societies will have to make a momentuous decision about what kind of society we want. Corporate controlled knowledge and a corresponding weakening of democratic society or democratic control of knowledge and a corresponding weakening of corporate control.

    That is the fundamental aspect of the knowledge economy, creative economy, information society – call it what you will. But the decision we are taking today for short-term corporate desire for profits (and of course influenced by organisations like the RIAA) will have effects on the democratic nature of our childrens and children’s children.

    The stifling is not just of creativity, it is and will be of democracy and freedom of expression itself.

  • WJM

    How much copyright ownership — as measured in time — would satisfy you, Hilary Rosen, personally?

    If you have never “seen an environement that suffers from an excess of “ownership.””, you’ve obviously never set foot inside an archive or historical research library. You’ve obviously never had to struggle to identify or find the copyright owner in respect of a work from fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago. You’ve never run up against a brick wall, as I did, in 1990, trying to find the copyright ownership of a work by an author who had died only four years before.

    Wipe the whatever out of your eyes.

  • Dave W.

    Lissen to Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation.”

    Then lissen to their 1990′s albums.

    You will then see an example of the bad things that excess ownership can do to the art and thought.

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  • bob

    The fact is, it is impossible to gage how much creativity is being stifled by the current legal environment.

    Imagine a world with no restrictions whatsoever. Where any studio could make there own Simpsons, there own Star Trek, or whatever, without any fear of legal reprocusions. I imagine we would see some great stuff, and lots of cool mixing of culture. Star Trek vs Star Wars, Simpsons vs Family guy, except with a big budget.

    Imagine a world, where people could make movies, and video games, and use any music they want in the background.

    I think in such a world, we would see unpresedented levels of creativity. Japanese fan fiction is one example. But it is limited to comic book format. What if large production studious were also free to rip each others work. Then we would see some real interesting things.

    Now the argument is, what insentive is there for people to make Simpsons and Star Trek, and write music, if there is no gauruntee of a return on investment.

    This view demonstrates a lack of respect for artists, and consumers as human beings. It assumes, in typical capitalistic fashion, that everyone is in it for themselves. But this is clearly not the case. Humans are social animals, who need to love and need to be loved. We don’t just want to feed ourselves. We want to feed our children, and our friends. As long as this is true, all great artists will be suitably compinsated for the efforts they put into there creative work.

    Once we collectivly realize this, culture will finally be free.

    Imagine, if rather than Give the Record Studio 20$ for distruvuting a CD, of which Beck gets 20 cents, I could just give Beck the 20$ directly. Beck would be a lot riher this way.

    Alternativly, record stores could print there own CD’s, and labels, and make deals with the artists directly to split the cost 50/50.

    There are so many ways to organize things.

    All the law does is stiffle innovations, that are long over due.

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  • http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition Chris Brand

    One of the major problems I have with the copyright laws we have to live with these days is the conflict between “intellectual property rights” and real property rights.

    When I buy something, I own it and can do what I like with it – use it as its creator intended or as they didn’t, modify it, paint it green, resell it, loan it out, give it away, destroy it. Anything. It’s mine, after all.

    Then along comes copyright law and says “actually, you can’t do all those things with your property”. The more rights we grant to copyright holders, the more rights are taken away from the owners of the real property. These days, about the only things from my list above that are clearly not covered by copyright are to resell it and possibly to destroy it (although no doubt there are creators who would claim that this infringes on their moral rights). And guess what ? My first sale rights are disappearing, too, with physical property that can only be used on a limited number of machines.

    What on earth happened to the idea of a free market ?

  • Eric

    rodander, go read the article before you make yourself look dumber. They cleared the Rocky cell phone ring out of fear, not because they wanted to use it. It was a cell phone ring, completely unplanned. The entire point of the article is that it stifles the ability of artists to create documentaries if they have to constantly be on the lookout not to record music that happens to be playing in the background of whatever they’re shooting, or the logo printed on a truck that happens to drive by.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com Commons Music

    if the broadcast is DRM:ed, plug in your analog recorder, make an analog copy, digitize that, and rip away (within the constraints of fair use, that is.) what DRM will prevent you from doing is making an EXACT copy, but it can never prevent you from making inferior copies. just as you could always make copies of book pages on a copying machine, but you could not recreate the book, so does DRM recreate the balance under which fair use was created.

    tbm, obviously you don’t understand the law regarding DRM (this is not surprising, most people don’t). Using that analog to go around the DRM would be circumventing it, which would be illegal under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Also, most DRM systems are now encypter/decrypter systems so the signal is encoded until decoded by a hardware system. And those hardware systems don’t have the analog hole, since the content is protected through the piping.

    So the only way to use content like that is to circumvent the DRM, which is illegal, which goes a roundabout from fair use. This is an unacceptable law, which is why I’m a firm supporter of H.R. 1201, and you should, too.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com/ Commons Music

    rodander:

    Perhaps you should have read the article. The filmmaker had no control over the ringtone that happened to be on that person’s cell phone. They have to be cautious of billboards, signage, and everything else. They were not using the Rocky theme song on the phone to “convey” anything.

    To wit, I’m a documentarian myself, and I have this interview with a patient who is being denied pain medication because of aspects of the war on drugs. She started crying during the segment, and the whole thing was horrible to watch.

    The interview happened to take place during a party where they were raising funds to help a doctor that had been unfairly prosecuted by the DEA and Attorney General, so there was a DJ there. Despite the precautions I took of using a localized microphone with limited range, going as distant from the party as I could get without trespassing on other properties, and despite the fact that I tried to dull the background noise in post, there’s still a very recognizable and famous song thumping in the background. Now, I know that trying to clear it would be a nightmare, and seeing as how my film is working by the skin of its teeth as it is, I could never afford it. Never ever, ever.

    So, what am I to do? Lose some of the most powerful footage I have because the latest pop song is faintly present in the background? No, I refuse to do that. This is clearly a case of fair use, as with that cell phone ring, and I’m not going to sacrifice integrity and important footage for something I had no control over.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com/ Commons Music

    NOTE: That should say, “…and you should be, too.”

  • rodander

    I did not read the linked article. My apologies for assuming that the documentary was using the ringtone for its expressive content, and to the extent my post was based on that assumption, I retract. (An indication in the post that the use was accidental would have been germane, but still my mistake is my own fault).

    I’ll give myself a (feeble) out by at least noting that I said “we didn’t know enough about fair use to make a call”. And I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS THAT MISUSE AND OVEREXTEND THEIR RIGHTS. Loud enough? I’m with you there, believe me.

    But I’ll stick by the point about Beck and my question about sampling. If artists are precluded from lifting (not accidentally, but intentionally, OK????) expressive works of others without permission, I will maintain the question about how much creativity is being stifled anyway.

  • T Edwards

    The original classified reflexive distrust of corporation as cynicism and then the conversation since then has strayed a bit.

    The examples in subsequent posts Beck is/is not stifled, James Gleick allowed a quote don’t really address the key issue.

    Corporations have no purpose other than to maximize value. Some debate this in theory but, in reality, that is the situation. So, by its very definition, the corporation has no interest in artistic expression or granting permissions unless it somehow benefits the corporation. James Gleick may be a wonderful guy, but I would guess that the market value of a sentence from his book (which, by the way, sound like you could have freely quoted without permission under the fair use rule) is vanisingly small. If those few words had any market value, you can be damn sure that Gleik’s publisher (assuming they still own rights) would have denied you the permission if possible. Why would they do otherwise?

    So while some may see this as cynicism, that entirely misses the point because maximizing value is what corporations aspire to, its not what they are guilty of. That has to be starting point for any analysis of the role of corporations’ relation to content, art, etc.

    An interesting example is the heirs of ML King trying to prevent use of footage of King’s speechs, including his “I have a dream” speech on copyright grounds. I don’t know whether their claims have any foundation in the law (or whether they were just getting a huge amount of latitude because nobody wants the PR problem of appearing to “disrespect” Kings’ widow and family) but the fact is that this held up release of video entries in on-line encyclopedias as well as, IIRC, DVD release of the Eyes on the Prize documentary.

    This may be sui generis, but it really points out a clash between “property rights” and education/free expression/history etc.

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  • http://commonsmusic.com/ Commons Music

    rodander:

    Thanks for admitting the mistake. Always good to have someone admit when they are in error. No harm done.

    T Edwards:

    While I haven’t commented on this, I’ll make the point now: I don’t believe corporations are, in and of themselves, at fault here. More to the point, I believe that the law is what has failed here. A big part of that failing is the result of:

    1. Idiot politicians.
    2. Powerful lobbying groups.
    3. Idiot politicians.

    And did I mention idiot politicians?

    It’s the overly-strong protectionism that the law is granting here that is mostly to blame, not the idea of copyright, the corporations, or anyone else per se. That the law is being influenced so freely based on unusually bad survey samples or curious logical leaps (which The Economist called them on), then we just keep running into a brick wall over and over again.

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  • poptones

    What you are describing below of capturing the signal being sent to the analog outputs of device is now considered a “hardware attack” by Microsoft and Hollywood. The “analog hole” that everyone thought would always exist may be closed in the near future for most average consumers (non-techies).

    …obviously you don’t understand the law regarding DRM (this is not surprising, most people don’t). Using that analog to go around the DRM would be circumventing it, which would be illegal under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA

    The DMCA already applies to DVDs, for example – I can “copy” on my PC a video signal from the output of my DVD player connected to the video input of my PC and the copy looks, for all practical purposes, identical to video which was “ripped” illegally using decss via the PC’s DVD drive. This is not an “attack” and the ability to do exactly this even with HD players is written right into the spec.

    And in none of this is the use of these encryption features mandated for providers of content – only that, if a provider does employ encryption, any compliant devices will not impede that encryption by facilitating the creation of high resolution clear text copies of the source material..

    Fair use has nothing to do with whether or not there exists an “analog hole” – and, in fact, said “hole” still exists even on the highest end system planned in this spec.

    And the argument about “locking up information” is, in this context, absurd. Hollywood does not produce “information” it produces entertainment. No one’s rights are going to be violated because they cannot make a HD rip of Fear Factor and no school children are going to suffer in any meaningful way for lack of the ability to rip Coldplay’s latest release in HD5.1.

    Protected digital video data is encrypted already. Many firewire devices have this “built in” and few ever know about it or complain. Video devices still have analog jacks to feed analog monitors and the specifications of future consumer devices still include this feature.

    There are explicit provisions in the spec for analog outputs and the resolution of signals which they may carry. No, you cannot output a HD video signal over a “video jack” – guess what? It’s moot; even if the specification said “you may output high resolution video over the s-video and composite outputs” it wouldn’t matter because these transports rely on NTSC or PAL standard signals, and neither of those antiquated standards even allow for the transport of HD signals – this is why we had to craft new standards in the first place!

    Even if you could deliver a 1080i signal via the little yellow RCA jack on the back of your whiz bang blu-ray player to your PC video input or your VCR or the cheap Chinese 32″ monitor you bought last year at Wal-Mart it wouldn’t matter because your VCR or PC or TV monitor wouldn’t know what to do with that signal. The fact the new HD devices will “only” provide a lower resolution “resampled and degraded image” via the analog outputs is simply a technical limitation of the old, purely hardware derived, analog standards. If there’s a conspiracy afoot then you need to blame Einstein and Shannon, not Hollywood and Microsoft.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com Commons Music

    P.S.

    T Edwards:

    The sordid saga of the MLK speech is actually a fascinating one. See, he specifically registered copyright for the speech so that it couldn’t be used otherwise, and so that his estate could get money from reuse of it.

    You can read more about it, and the battle CBS had with the estate, right here.

    I actually find the whole thing sort of funny, since he was well known for having lifted portions of other writings and speeches and simply dropped it into his own (some would call that “plagiarism”). Also “borrowing” parts of other speeches and writings for the famous speech itself.

    Heh.

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  • http://www.commonsmusic.com Commons Music

    The DMCA already applies to DVDs, for example – I can “copy” on my PC a video signal from the output of my DVD player connected to the video input of my PC and the copy looks, for all practical purposes, identical to video which was “ripped” illegally using decss via the PC’s DVD drive. This is not an “attack” and the ability to do exactly this even with HD players is written right into the spec.

    Yeah, say goodbye to that, as Microsoft introduces PVP-OPM, and content providers require the analog hole to be plugged, so content is encrypted directly from the source all the way to the monitor and back again.

    Secondly, nowhere in any DRM spec is a allowance built in for low-res copies. That’s why plugging your DVD player into your VCR won’t give you a video stream, but a warped video image that is low res, high res, or any res at all.

    In any case, this still applies to my Outfoxed question.

    The fault here, as I said, is with the law, and with the DMCA. Without allowing explicitly for fair use provisions in the law, DRM allows for creation of locked content that circumvents regular copyright law. See the examples of DRM on public domain books and materials. While copying is certainly not prohibited in the material itself, copying would have to be facilitating by doing an end run around the DRM, violating the anti-circumvention aspects of it.

    And round and round we go.

  • poptones

    The more rights we grant to copyright holders, the more rights are taken away from the owners of the real property.

    There is no ‘real” any more. A man in korea was killed over ownership of a “sword” that exists only in an online role playing game. The sword may not be physically tangible but as “information” it has real value.

    Please.. stop living in the past. You are a copyright holder; I am a copyright holder. The only thing separating us from those other rights holders is the value of the information we possess.

    How much is your medical history worth? Your credit card statement? Your Amazon wish list? These are things few of us think about because we are new to “publishing” and the old school rights holders have had centuries to learn the game.

    We all are rights holders and we need to start thinking like it. The same laws that protect Hollywood movies protect the information you created that exists on your hard drive. Do you have kids? A life partner? Do you have pictures of them? How about videos of your kids? These are all things protected by copyright. You may not think that means anything, but what if the footage you shot of your kid playing in the bathtub showed up one day in alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.child-sex? I suspect you would then be most grateful for those “evil” DMCA protections that allowed you to quickly force its removal from hosting nntp servers.

    There is no “us” and “them.” If you do not like what Hollywood has to offer then stop sending them your money. But realize that demanding they be given less rights also means you are demanding less rights for yourself.

  • poptones

    Secondly, nowhere in any DRM spec is a allowance built in for low-res copies. That’s why plugging your DVD player into your VCR won’t give you a video stream, but a warped video image that is low res, high res, or any res at all.

    That’s not “secondly,” that is exactly related to the first thing you said. And, as I already pointed out, you are dead wrong about it.

    Example:

    3.3 Permitted Outputs.3.3.1 Digital Outputs. Licensed Products may only pass Decrypted Type 1 Audio
    DT Data to a digital output as follows:

    3.3.1.1 To DTCP-protected outputs as Type 1 Audio DT Data according to the Specification;

    3.3.1.2 To IEC60958 or IEC 61937 (i.e. “toslink” type legacy interfaces) if Serial Copy Management System information specified in Decrypted Type 1 Audio DT Data is properly transmitted.

    3.3.1.3 To outputs protected by other methods, if any, that may be approved by DTLA in the future for Commercial Audio Works.

    3.4 Analog Outputs. (Decrypted Type I Audio – ie “CD quality”) There are no prohibitions relating to analog audio outputs of Decrypted Type 1 Audio DT Data.

    3.2.2 Analog Outputs. Decrypted Type 2 Audio (HD Audio) DT Data passed to analog outputs from Licensed Products shall be limited to 1.5 times normal speed, unless the pitch is corrected to the pitch at normal speed. Except for the requirement just described, sound quality of analog outputs is not restricted in any way by Digital CCI.

    3.3 Analog Outputs. Licensed Products may only pass Decrypted Type 3 Audio DT Data to an analog output at a rate equal to or slower than real time.

    There are similar standards for video regarding downsampled conversion to a signal that, as I just pointed out, must be done anyway in order to connect with legacy NTSC and PAL devices.

  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    Hilary-
    I just want to say thanks for opening yourself up on a venue like this. All of us have a lot to learn from people outside of the circle that we surround ourselves with.

  • http://gnuosphere.blogspot.com Peter Rock

    Hi Hilary, welcome to Lessig’s blog.

    I was wondering if you had read William Fisher’s book “Promises to Keep” (http://tfisher.org/PTK.htm). I ask because it seems to me that a massive and radical revamping of the entertainment industry and the process in which artists are compensated must eventually occur or we are doomed to illusory and perpetual “us” versus “them” battles which seemingly can never come to a conclusion.

    Could it be possible that the only way to solve this problem is to take artistic control away from the corporations (“who” are legally bound to act in “their” own self-interest) and using the CC as a bridge, eventually apply a defaulting attribution-only right rather than a set of restrictive and monopolistic privileges that currently punish the progress of arts and science as outlined in the constitution itself?

    Using technology and an enlightened copyright code, could it be that there is a way to have artists compensated for their work whilst allow creators to rip and create as they please? Obviously it will be in the corporate interest to shoot down even the mere suggestion of such a future. After all, creative freedom for artists and a fairly distributed and direct monetary compensation system for artists is not what the industry wants (i.e. it would mean the dismantling of the industry as we know it).

    But should we care what the industry wants? After all, the RIAA and MPAA are not people – they are conglomerates of major corporations that, again, are legally bound to do what they can in order to secure maximum profit for their shareholders whilst foisting externalities upon we the stakeholders. Just some of these externalities are a loss of cultural creative potential, the loss of the social right to share culture with others, and the high cost of media for the consumer.

    It is high time we seriously looked at using the Internet and bridge organizations like the Creative Commons to eventually secure a world where the division between producer and consumer is virtually wiped out.

    Now that you are no longer legally bound to speak and support views that are in the private interest of the RIAA corporations, what do you think?

    Thanks for listening and agreeing to be here.

    Peter Rock.

  • three blind mice

    further to poptones excellent post regarding the DRM spec, our observation was based on the fact that AFAWK human eyes and ears are – and will always be – analog devices (until the government installs a DRM chip into everyone’s brains.)

    seriously, even if evil MSFT doesn’t provide an analog jack you can still record the sound coming from the loudspeakers or the video displayed on the screen using analog or digital recording equipment. can’t rip that CD? pull out the reel to reel and microphone. can’r rip that DVD, set up the videocam. yes, the quality will not be the same, but that’s the point. it will be good enough for fair use.

    from the examples provided, or more accurately not provided, it does not seem as though the impact of an “excess of ownership” on artistic creativity is severe or frankly even remarkable. the rocky ring signal? please. record over it. surely nokia would be more than happy to license you to use their familar ring signal.

    ms. rosen, to our open eyes the “excessive ownership” arguments on the impact of creativity appear to be little more than windmills in don quixote’s mind.

    the objective of the creative commons crowd, it would seem, is not to encourage creativity but to get at that original content – unmodified, unadultered, and free as in no cost. you will note that any solution which does not enable this is rejected by the commons-ists as an unwarranted intrusion of human rights or personal liberty. this, despite the fact that the united nation’s univeral declaration of human rights declares that: “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

  • http://gnuosphere.blogspot.com Peter Rock

    3 Blind Mice:

    the objective of the creative commons crowd, it would seem, is not to encourage creativity but to get at that original content – unmodified, unadultered, and free as in no cost.

    ?!

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  • rodander

    The three blind mice identify the problem exactly.

    My perception of the “pure” Creative Commons premise is that: if artists permit free sharing of their works with other artists, creativity is fostered and the overall body of artistic output is greatly improved, relative to the proprietary model that we currently live in. This is an interesting premise, and it would be fascinating to see if the premise holds. I look forward to seeing the CC artistic output, and the creativity that results.

    Unfortunately, though, issues raised by the “creative commons crowd” do often devolve into complaints about not being able to use/copy/derive from/distribute copies of existing copyrighted works, or use hardware products beyond the restrictions agreed to when purchased. Beck complaining about not being able to lift other artists’ work. People using property rights talk (it’s my copy, why can’t I do what I want with it) to defeat others’ property rights — sometimes with utopian “Imagine” moral lecturing, and more often by demonizing the copyright owners (as though unworthy of ownership).

    So it is neither surprising nor inaccurate that the three blind question the motives of the “crowd”. I certainly do. And, assuming that the “pure” premise is indeed operative for the Creative Commons, the whining about not being able to use works by those that aren’t playing under CC drains the credibility out of the CC.

    “Social justice means everything for everybody, immediately, and for free.” — German graffitti

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  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    Now, to try to address your post head on…
    I think we live in an environment that “suffers from an excess of ‘ownership.’” It’s just that since there are so many gray areas, it’s hard to tell.

    I would like to give a few personal examples of excess ownership and how it has resulted in less creation and innovation.

    The first is iTunes DRM. I haven’t bought a single song from iTunes because their music won’t play in my car’s built in MP3 player (one of the two main places that I listen to MP3s). You’ll just have to trust me when I say that if iTunes was selling MP3s instead of locked files I would have bought them, but I assure you, it’s true. What’s that mean? It means I’ve bought less music. It means artists (and everyone else involved in the process) don’t get paid, which means that I am less likely to encourage creativity. How is this an excess of ownership? DRM (and the DMCA that supports it) only makes goods less valuable. It doesn’t stop people from downloading illegal copies, it just makes the legal copies less valuable.

    My second example comes from patent laws. I work for a software company that makes customer service applications. Another company was able to patent the combination of two existing technologies. Our company has decided to steer clear of any products/innovation that come even close to the patent. It’s not because we think the patent is valid (we won’t even work on anything close to it), we don’t. It’s simply because we’re a small business and we can’t afford the costs (or the distraction) of being sued (even though our lawyers think we would win). Cases like this wouldn’t stop a Microsoft or IBM, but it would stop thousands of small businesses like mine from innovating. In a way, it’s an invisible harm to outsiders. Our non-trial is never going to make the news. Here, there are a couple excesses of ownership: first that the other company is allowed to own something that really isn’t unique, and the second is that they will continue owning it far beyond its useful lifetime. Patents should only apply for the half-life of the types of inventions that they cover (to strike a balance). If it’s a wheelbarrow, it could be innovative for 30 years. If it’s software, you’re lucky if something is innovative for 18 months. So, in the case of software patents there is a definite excess of ownership

    The third example is the most personal. I’m currently working on a coffee table photography book that’s a collection of pictures from Flickr.com — a sort of showcase for amateur photographers. I won’t make any money on it (it will be available at cost on lulu.com), the pictures are already available for free on Flickr’s website, and there is a definite educational aspect to the book. It’s probably something I should be allowed to do simply under Fair Use. Since I can’t afford to be sued by even one of the hundreds of artists even if I win (it would just be too expensive and time consuming), I can’t use Fair Use. If that was all there was to it, my creativity would be stifled and nobody but me would know. Luckily there is the Creative Commons and thousands of photographers have chosen to license their work with only some rights reserved. I should have no problem living up to the conditions of any of the Creative Commons restrictions (Attribution, NonCommercial, No Derivatives, etc…). Unfortunately, there’s still a decent chance that I could get sued, so if I want to go forward with this project, I’ll need to try to double clear every picture by contacting every photographer and confirm that they understand the Creative Commons license in the same way that I understand it, that they weren’t tricked by Flickr, and that it really is ok for me to make my book. If I really want to be on the safe side, I should talk to a lawyer, but just chatting about my book for an hour and getting advice would be more expensive than what I can afford. There’s a good chance that these added costs will lead to me never creating the book. The excessive ownership is the gray area that extends beyond what people even want to own. Again, this is an invisible harm brought on by excessive ownership that you would never see if I wasn’t writing about it.

    My point isn’t that these are the kinds of things to look for to see the damage of excessive ownership. My point is that you simply wont see the damage because it’s often invisible. This leads to an unbalanced environment, and we all suffer for it.

  • Anonymous

    To answer Hillary’s question and to get off the DRM tangent I started (sorry). Here are my thoughts.

    Your statement was:
    “I just haven’t seen an environ7ement that suffers from an excess of “ownership.” i would love some specific examples in the hopes that you will open my eyes.”

    I see there is a similarity between the negative incentives that occur from piracy to that of excess of ownership. Let me explain.

    Money is not the only reason people do things. Humans are creative beings and will create. It is just part of being human. So single behaviors are not necessarily influenced by money. One could argue though, that repetitive behaviors can be influenced by money.

    Artists that create a work may be incentivised to create more works if they are able to make some money from their original work. Pretty obvious so far, I am sure.

    So it is easy to see that piracy is a negative incentive to the artist. Piracy reduces the amount of money they can make directly from their work so they are less incentivised to create more works. If piracy is so rampant that the artist begins to actually lose money on every work he puts out, he will stop producing creative works and also encourage others to not waist their time creating works of art.

    Excess ownership can have a similar affect on the creative process. If all intellectual property is permission based, it becomes increasingly difficult to create artistic works due to the amount of time and money it will take to get permission to use other’s intellectual property. Let’s consider the documentary film case. If one creates a documentary film in which music, corporate logos and other things that are performed and displayed every where in every day life must be cleared for use in the documentary, this become very time consuming and expensive. The more effort and money the documentary film maker must expend to clear all of this IP, will reduce the amount of money they can make directly from their work so they are less incentivised to create more works. If excess of ownership is so rampant that the artist begins to actually lose money on every work he puts out, he will stop producing creative works and also encourage others to not waist their time creating works of art.

    I hope this provided a decent example and a clearer picture on the topic

  • rodander

    Little did I dream that such a perfect example of my point would be posted so soon, by Aaron in this case. Some advice for Aaron:

    1) iTunes : Get over it. You voted with your pocketbook. A service doesn’t provide what you want, you chose not to buy from it. As the demand for what you want grows, others will provide the service, artists will sell to that service, and you’ll buy from them. Stifling creativity? Please.

    2) If your company innovates, then it will obtain protection for its work, and will be able to exploit that. Maybe even work a cross-license with the patent holder of the patent you speak of. Or make enough money to pay for a license (or take a license now, if available and if your company believes in its ability to compete in that space). Or if the patent is invalid, then make enough money to fight the good fight. No doubt that invalid patents are drags — I won’t argue there. But your company needs to innovate itself in its marketplace, and exploit its rights in those innovations to do what it wants. Innovate or die. Only when creators are certain that their work will be ripped off for nothing will investment in creativity stop.

    3) You want to publish a book of other people’s creative work and are complaining because you can’t (without a little hassle)? And claiming that creativity is lost? Perhaps there is creativity in selecting among the photos, but in the grand scheme of things one might conclude that the greater amount of creativity is in the photos themselves. You need to reread that part of your post slowly and think about it.

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  • poptones

    So it is neither surprising nor inaccurate that the three blind question the motives of the “crowd”. I certainly do. And, assuming that the “pure” premise is indeed operative for the Creative Commons, the whining about not being able to use works by those that aren’t playing under CC drains the credibility out of the CC

    Exactly. There are several sites that deliver CC content by the bucket loads and yet I have never heard another person here hype them or even mention that they use their content. Honestly, I am beginning to think I am the only person frequenting these discussions who actually embraces the cc content. Most of the posts here seem to rhapsodize about how great things would be “if only” meanwhile the artists actually participating in that vision go on in relative obscurity.

    Just like this…

    You’ll just have to trust me when I say that if iTunes was selling MP3s instead of locked files I would have bought them, but I assure you, it’s true

    You can buy DRM free MP3s from other sites… so how many have you bought? More to the point, how many tracks have you bought from Magnatune? Better still, how many tracks have you even listened to at Magnatune?

    The content on itunes (and Magnatune) has already been created. So your refusal to buy itunes DRM laden packages doesn’t in any way mean there are “fewer creative works” in the world. Most of the artists at itunes don’t need your dollars anyway because they are already signed to some label. A great many artists at Magnatune, however, aren’t signed to any real label and could actually benefit from you walking that walk you’re trying to talk.

    Heck, do you do p2p? Newsgroups? where do you get your music? Do you have any of the Magnatune artists in your “shared” folder? Madonna doesn’t want to be there and she doesn’t need the help anyway, but Johan would likely appreciate the exposure. So would these guys.

    It’s always easier to make excuses and blame someone else for your lack of creative fulfillment than to actually do the work. Creation is hard. Maybe we need to get nike to do some creative commons ads…

  • jake

    I just haven’t seen an environ7ement that suffers from an excess of “ownership.” i would love some specific examples in the hopes that you will open my eyes.

    Well, let’s look at an example from today’s headlines:
    (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4744983.stm)

    “Existing legislation already prevents non-official sponsors from using distinctive “Olympic marks” like the Olympic rings.

    But the new bill will make it illegal to combine words like “games”, “medals”, “gold”, “2012″, “sponsor” or “summer” in any form of advertising.

    Breaches can be punished by fines of up to 20,000 pounds, or unlimited fines in more serious cases.

    The IPA argues that this will rule out any sort of 2012 “halo effect” for businesses in the UK.

    “You won’t even be able to say ‘come to London in 2012′ because it will infringe the act,” said Palomba.

    PROTECTED OLYMPIC MARKS
    Words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’ and ‘Olympian’
    Olympic rings, Team GB and British Olympic Association logo
    Words ‘London 2012′, London’s bid logo and derivatives of London2012.com

    Other banned words include games, medals, gold, silver, bronze, 2012, sponsor, summer

    “Suppose you are producing a suntan lotion, you can’t say ‘get bronze in London in 2012′.

  • three blind mice

    friends. in this one thread different people have mentioned copyrights, patents, and in the case of the olympics, trademarks. although these, along with trade secrets, can be lumped together under the umbrella of intellectual property rights (IPRs), they are each vastly different from one another.

    please, it is hard enough to disagree when we are all speaking about copyright, but it becomes impossible when other IPRs are thrown into the soup.

    Peter Rock, your motives can only be judged by the positions you advocate and the company you keep. certainly, most of the CC crowd does not promote, or engage in piracy. our apologies if we throw in the snarky comment now and again. like cheese, it is hard for us mice to resist. professor lessig has again and again said how he does not support or condone piracy. but – if you will pardon the analogy – taking the position that you are against theft while arguing that locks are immoral is at best a strange form of advocacy. to our way of thinking, it is instructive, and somewhat troubling, that the CC crowd opposes any solution that does not also permit piracy. you will perhaps forgive us, if we fail to understand your true motives.

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  • 2nd blind mouse

    yeah! you people better stop confusing us! and be nice to hilary!

  • 2nd blind mouse

    yeah! you people better stop confusing us! and be nice to hilary! cuz we meeses are better’n you’uns!

  • WJM

    “what if the footage you shot of your kid playing in the bathtub showed up one day in alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.child-sex? I suspect you would then be most grateful for those “evil” DMCA protections that allowed you to quickly force its removal from hosting nntp servers.”

    I should hope that the underlying illegality (child pornography, privacy breach) of that act would, of itself, be sufficient to give rise to that remedy.

    This “think of the porn!” (“think of the defamation!” “think of the whatever other underlying illegality!”) red herring has been used to justify overbroad copyright for about a century now.

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  • poptones

    I should hope that the underlying illegality (child pornography, privacy breach) of that act would, of itself, be sufficient to give rise to that remedy.

    So, you think an image of a child playing in the bathtub is pornographic? There are Billions of people in the world who would find that view, if not quite perverse at the very least silly.

    On the other hand, if you are going to charge someone with claims of “child poronography” because they are redistributing imagery you created, what have you then said of yourself? Who is going to raise you kid when the local DA is able to locate 12 of your peers who share this perverse aversion to nudity?

  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    rodander-
    I’m glad you liked my post so much. I think we actually agree, it’s just hard to make complete posts in blog comments. Let me clarify each of my points.

    1) iTunes : Get over it.
    Why should I get over it? I don’t understand this logic. I have voted with my pocketbook, but that doesn’t mean I no longer have the right to complain and say that Apple and the labels are doing more harm than good if that’s what I believe. Also, I think that easily 90% of the people buying music on iTunes don’t understand DRM and what they’re really buying. In a market like that, I feel like I have a duty to tell everyone I know why buying from iTunes is a bad idea. People aren’t really voting with their pocketbook if they don’t understand what they’re doing. If they really understand DRM and still want to buy from iTunes, then that’s fine with me.

    If I’m correct in my assessment that the current environment means that people are spending less money on music than they would if things weren’t DRMed, then yes… it is stifeling creativity. Honestly I don’t think DRM is having much of a negative effect, but I think it’s real, and I think it will grow as more people understand it.

    poptones-
    You asked if I’ve used Magnatune. No, not Magnatune specifically, but I have bought MP3s from other sites (also I still buy CDs). From what I know, Magnatune doesn’t have anywhere near the selection of music that iTunes has. Typically I don’t come home from work and say to myself “I want to buy 7 tracks today.” I say “I want to buy the an album from band X.” If Magnatune doesn’t carry the same songs, then it’s not really a substitute service for iTunes, and you can’t compare them as such. I’m more than happy to buy MP3s if they’re available. One way to create competition would be to set compulsory licenses, but I’m no expert on how that would work.

    (back to rodander)
    2) Out Innovate.
    We do. It’s just that with this patent, we can’t innovate anywhere near it. Even assuming the patent was good, our small company can’t afford to get near it even without infringing. This means that we have to innovate in other ways, and ignore an entire market (which we do).

    You say we need to grow our business so that we can afford to sue (or be sued), but that doesn’t address the problem of the current environment. Innovation isn’t happening because of an excess of ownership (intentional or not). I’d be willing to bet that there are thousands of other small businesses and individuals that don’t innovate in a certain direction for the same reasons.

    “Only when creators are certain that their work will be ripped off for nothing will investment in creativity stop.” If that were true, then no innovation would have happened before I.P. laws (obviously this is false). I’m not saying that we’d have more innovation without I.P., just that the current environment isn’t the best that it could be.

    3) Other people’s creative work.
    I’m not saying that my creativity is more valuable than their’s, but I do claim that it has some value. It’s kind of a bad argument to compare the values of my book vs. their photos. It’s not like me making a book makes their photos any less valuable.

    I’m not saying that other people should give me their photos for free, just that I should be allowed to use the photos within the law. If someone wants to license their photos for other people use, then they should be allowed to do that (but they’re not because the law isn’t clear). For every hour I spend re-clearing rights to photos, that’s one hour less I spend being creative. So in this case the environment has an excess of ownership and I spend less time being creative.

    I’m not a superstar like Beck, so you might not want to put much weight in my examples. Just recognize that there is some harm being done (however small), and that that harm is largely invisible. It’s almost a Long Tail type argument…. the small things are hard to notice, but they really add up.

  • rodander

    Thanks for your response, Aaron. I think we’ve fairly discussed topics 1) and 2), so there is no need to further burden the readers with more on that.

    But I am baffled on how you think the law “doesn’t allow” people to license their photos to you, because the *law* is not clear!?! I don’t understand this. Sounds to me like it is the CC license that isn’t clear enough for you. (This is what you mention in your earlier comment about having to go back to make sure you and the photographers understand it the same.) If that’s the case, then you ought to have a chat with the CC, rather than dump copyright law so you can copy and redistribute others’ works without any hassle.

    Didn’t mean to impugn your creativity — as a matter of fact, I thought I threw it a bone by referring to perhaps there being creativity in the selection. But if the point is to foster creativity, it is wiser to err on the side of protecting original (non-derivative) works at the expense of derivative works (esp. compilations). Otherwise, the Long Tail will be wagging the Dog.

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  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    rodander-
    Sorry, I wasn’t clear about that. There are really two places where it’s not clear. You’re absolutely right that the CC license isn’t clear (especially with regard to what NonCommercial means). This is something I’ve contacted them about, it’s a problem they acknowledge, and hopefully it’ll be fixed in version 3.0. I don’t want Hilary, the RIAA, or the US Government to fix it. I would like Hilary to see that problems exist with the current environment.

    The problem with the law (that I forgot to mention in my 2nd post) is with regard to Fair Use. The law gives some guidelines, but expects it to be determined on a case by case basis in the court. I know that a lot of things should be determined on a case by case basis, but for something small, going to court to discover the legality of a use is too expensive. This automatically means that for people like me, Fair Use doesn’t exist in practice. This is the (unintentional) excess of ownership that I’m pointing out.

    Sorry if I got defensive about the value of my creative work. I also agree that we need to strike a balance between creators, re-creators, and consumers. I think the small things tend to get undercounted (or not counted at all), and that leads to an unbalanced environment — one of excessive ownership.

  • poptones

    (I believe) the labels are doing more harm than good… If I’m correct in my assessment that the current environment means that people are spending less money on music than they would if things weren’t DRMed, then yes… it is stifeling creativity.

    Have you listened to yourself? The use of DRM is not a legislative mandate; the publishers using DRM on itunes are the very same publishers you are supporting when you buy those CDs from artists you hear on the radio or on MTV.

    You are directly contributing to the problem you describe. Why do you support with your dollars the people who you feel are taking to much from our society? Why do you even lend them your time?

    If Magnatune doesn’t carry the same songs, then it’s not really a substitute service for iTunes, and you can’t compare them as such. I’m more than happy to buy MP3s if they’re available. One way to create competition would be to set compulsory licenses, but I’m no expert on how that would work.

    So you admit that you simply refuse to partake of, or even fairly audition, the creative works from people who actually do walk that walk you only talk! Your solution to all this is instead to legislate that I be obliged to subsidize your economic allegiance to the system even you admit is part of the problem we (who actually do walk the path of libre) seek to correct?

    It would seem that pop music addiction has deafened your ears to the shrill cries of your own hypocrisy.

  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    poptones-
    I’m not saying that DRM is a legislative mandate, but the DMCA is. DMCA is what makes DRM work. If it wasn’t for the DMCA, then I could legally convert iTunes songs into MP3s and legally “space shift” them so that I could listen to music that I paid for in my car.

    You’ll be happy to hear that the CDs I buy are from bands that I listen to in concert, not on the radio. I’m supporting the indie artists when I buy CDs not directly contributing to the problem. Hopefully that clears that up.

    No, I don’t refuse to support people that walk the walk. For example, I have bought MP3s from They Might Be Giants. Just because I haven’t spent much time on one specific site (Magnatune) doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to walk the walk.

    I don’t know why you would think that I want to legislate anything. I suggested that one possible solutions might be compulsory licenses, but I clearly stated that I don’t know how that would work. It’s just an idea that I’ve heard before that seems good to me. I’d like more research to be done on it.

    Every one of your points was a misunderstanding of what I said. Truthfully, that’s my fault. I need to do a better job of saying what I mean and addressing assumptions people will likely jump to (such as me buying pop music).

  • Joseph Pietro Riolo

    To Three Blind Mice:

    How long must you be so blind? You are just selective
    on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights picking
    one that supports your position and ignoring the
    other sections that do not support your position.

    Open your eyes! Read Article 19 and Article 27(1).
    Authors and artists simply do not have the right to
    suppress Articles 19 and 27(1).

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    <riolo@voicenet.com>

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

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  • poptones

    I’m not saying that DRM is a legislative mandate, but the DMCA is. DMCA is what makes DRM work.

    The DMCA is also what protects your rights and mine. I really don’t understand why people who claim to be part of the “creative commons” – a name that itself conveys the ideal that we are all creative individuals – cannot get past this “us and them” notion about copyright. How would you feel about the government retracting all protperty rights? No one owns a house anymore, no one has any incentive to pickup the trash or paint the home they live in… we would soon all be living in squalor.

    If it wasn’t for the DMCA, then I could legally convert iTunes songs into MP3s and legally “space shift” them so that I could listen to music that I paid for in my car.

    If it weren’t for the DMCA then the technology companies would have little incentive to come up with a more secure alternative that will, in turn, allow those record companies to feel comfortable releasing their content in a portable and affordable format.

    A technology that can serve every last one of us in ways those record company execs have very likely never imagined. And as that technology becomes a greater part of all our lives the DMCA is the basis of law that helps us all defend our rights in the new space we occupy.

    Consider this: the DMCA allows a copyright holder to demand removal of a file from a server and obliges that host to act in good faith without requiring the infringed rights holder file complex legal proceedings or hire expensive legal representation. Who do you think that most helps? Virgin and Disney already have all the legal representatives they need. That portion of the DMCA enables you and me to quickly and economically police our own rights without having to tie ourselves to a giant beauracracy.

    Perhaps I made my point so sharp it sliced right through your grasp and I apologize if you were bloodied in the attempt. But think of this: how can you similarly enforce a “compulsory license” without more laws?

    I am most certainly not going to voluntarily tithe even pennies of my meager earnings to Billion dollar corporate publishers. Nor do I intend to cede one bit of my rights so that others may feel more free to redistribute the media of a culture that fosters ideals of vanity, greed and laziness.. and you will understand if I bear no patience with those who would demand it.

  • rodander

    Thanks, Aaron. I’ll leave you and poptones to duke out the other topics.

    If you solve the license issues with CC, then your fair use problem goes away. The fair use doctrine certainly does not prevent owners from licensing.

    And if you don’t have permission, the default of “use at your own risk” sure seems fair to me.

  • http://www.apejet.org/aaron/blog/ Aaron

    poptones-
    I’m not really sure where you’re going with this. I’m not here to argue if the DMCA protects me just as much as it protects the next guy. I’m also not here to argue for or against compulsory licensing. I don’t propose that all intellectual property rights should be revoked, so I don’t understand the point of talking about revoking real estate property rights. You say that if it wasn’t for the DMCA, then people wouldn’t sell music online. If you want to say that no creativity is lost because of the current environment, then fine, I’ll disagree and we’ll move on, but I know from personal experience that excess ownership can kill creativity.

    rodander-
    Thanks. Our chat has been fun. I think we each put different weights on the risk involved in doing anything creative (especially when it uses or gets close to someone else’s creative work). I think you’d rather error on the side of possible excess ownership, and I’d rather error just a little on the side of a deficiency of ownership, but obviously the best solution would be just the right about of ownership. People shouldn’t have to worry about being sued when they’re within their rights, and they shouldn’t have to worry about about others infringing on their copyrights. I’m sure the case could be made that there is both an excess of ownership and a deficiency at the same time.

  • poptones

    I know from personal experience that excess ownership can kill creativity.

    And I have spent hours of my life creating and distributing “illegal art” and so I know from personal experience that the law cannot stifle creative expression. So who is right?

    The argument you are making for “just a little less ownership” is like arguing for squatters rights, that’s where property rights fit in. I realize this notion is still law with some of our euro cousins, but further widening the allowances of “fair use” to legalize “personal copying and sharing” (when one’s “friends” can include the entire world) is not terribly different than arguing we all should be compelled to allow strangers to pitch tents in our back yards because we’re not using all that land, anyway.

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  • http://critical-v.blogspot.com Chris V

    Hilary,

    I present you with my 16 theses:

    1) All digital artifacts (i.e., files) (e.g., emails, mp3s..etc) must be copied to be used. A received email is a copy of a sent email. A musician records her song, encodes it to mp3 on her harddrive, puts a copy on her iPod, and sends a copy as an attachment to her friend, who saves it on his harddrive..etc.

    2) All activities that result in a copy of a file are “filesharing.”

    3) Because digital artifacts replicate over networks, they have allowed for cultural evolution to flourish on the internet.

    4) Evolution is an autopoietic process. In other words, evolution has no central planning. Genes were organized into complex plants, birds and all other life without central planning.

    5) Organizations such as the MPAA and RIAA seek, through copyright, to agglomerate intellectual property, thereby limiting the reproduction of digital artifacts (as well as limiting the combination of various artifacts to make new ones — “remixing”).

    6) Centralized control impedes evolution.

    7) Ecosystems do not have a centralized shape. They are meshworks.

    8) The situation with digital artifacts is analogous to the biotech industry’s patenting of genes. The ceaseless accumulation of genetic copyrights can lead only to centrally planned biological reproduction.

    9) Contrary to statements made by people like Richard Parsons (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=00/07/24/0526204&mode=nested) and Mitch Bainwol, culture will not “atrophy” without central planning and agglomeration of ownership in the hands of a few.

    10) Cultural evolution, on the contrary, will flourish as central planning dwindles.

    11) Programs like BitTorrent allow for decentralized cultural evolution as they enable decentralized distribution/replication of digital artifacts.

    12) The price of producing artifacts continues to decrease as production technologies become cheaper and more ubiquitous. “Investment” will no longer be a viable model for the creation of cultural artifacts, as the price of production decreases.

    13) The decrease in accountability to investors and copyright holders (i.e., corporations) will decrease the central planning of culture.

    14) The culture industries attempt to capitalize on decentralized distribution and end-user participation. “Legitimate” mp3 downloads are an example. However, these schemes still reflect the centralized shape of the culture industries.

    15) Creative Commons is an example of a way to give control over reproduction of artifacts to their original creator rather than to a corporation that is in the business of accumulating control.

    16) An evolving culture “from below”/”in the periphery” is at once in an arms race and a mutual cooperation with corporations. The RIAA and filesharers are locked in a coevolutionary arms race; however, the success of iPod would not have been possible without “illegitimate” filesharing.

    It is difficult to imagine what cultural evolution would look like if it were completely free from centralized agglomeration. I happen to think it would look pretty sweet. Personally, I can’t be bothered to shed a tear for the music and movie industries’ current troubles. To use cliches, they had their time in the sun, but all empires must fall.

    Centralization will likely never go away completely; therefore, a totally decentralized culture may be utopian, but I think it’s a principle worth holding. Let’s see how the future unfolds.

    Best Wishes,
    Chris V

  • nate

    > > I know from personal experience that excess ownership can kill
    > > creativity.
    >
    > And I have spent hours of my life creating and distributing �illegal
    > art� and so I know from personal experience that the law cannot
    > stifle creative expression. So who is right?

    Who is right? Aaron is right. I appreciate your fervor and viewpoint, but you are presenting a logical fallacy: one positive example (creativity stifled) is enough to prove the premise that creativity can be stifled, but any number of negative examples (‘illegal art’ produced anyway) doesn’t affect the premise one way or the other.

    This is not a matter of whose opinion is more valuable, but the nature of the logic. Just as a scientific theory can be disproved by one false prediction (despite a preponderance of ‘evidence’), the statement that creativity _can_ be stifled needs only one positive example to be proven true. So while you can disagree that his examples are true or relevant, you can’t cancel them out by giving opposing examples with the opposite result.

    So please go back and attack his examples directly, trying to show that either creativity was not stifled, or that the stifling was not due to an excess of ownership.

  • rodander

    Nate logic is solid, except that he uses it to punch out a strawman. The issue is not whether one instance of creativity (and thus creativity itself) is stifled by a given policy.

    The issue is rather which policies favor creativity in a more general sense. I think one can safely assume that, given reduced protection for creative work, there would be at least one instance of an investment (of effort or of funding) in creativity not being made. So now we have at least one instance of lost creativity on each side of the argument. So what?

    Some argue that more freedom to derive would foster creativity in a cumulative sense. I’d argue that reducing protection for original creative works in favor of promoting derivative works would inhibit creativity, in a cumulative sense. The CC has a chance of giving us some insight into this question (assuming it is not all about lifting existing copyrighted works without consent of the owner). I hope to see the results, which ever way it turns out.

  • poptones

    Well Said, Rodander.

  • http://virtuoz.blogspot.com Virtuoz
  • Josh

    Someone please pass this message along to Hillary. This is somewhat tangential to the topic on which you’re posting to Larry’s blog, but I wanted to thank you for an editorial you wrote to The Advocate some time ago about Anne Heche and her refusal to take on the label of “lesbian”. At the time, Heche got a lot of flack for that, but you defended her. As someone who refuses to take on a label as regards to sexual orientation, like my heroine Susan Sontag, (although, if forced, i’ll use the label “queer”) I felt bolstered that someone with whom I vehemently disagree on intellectual property issues, would, to quote Proverbs 31, “Speak up for those who cannot speak…”, using their position of respect in the LGBTQ community and using it well.

    Now, onto issues of intellectual property…..I’m in the process of writing a philosophical piece on the epistemological issues behind the sharing of music, in particular, the mix CD. It is my opinion that we need to carve out a doctrine of fair use for music that allows such action, as it enriches our lives.

    Second, there’s the issue of sampling….I agree that it’s wrong to, in the words of the Buggles “[Take] the credit for your second symphony, rewritten by machine on new technology”. Vanilla Ice is an ultimate example of this, with his rip-off of “Under Pressure”, because he takes the credit for it himself and refuses to admit even the presence of influence. On the flip side are the artists who clearly intend to make homage to the previous work and expound upon it. In the middle are the artists who just think it sounds ‘cool’ and want to use it.

    In the postmodern era, we remix the works of others more than we ever have. It’s because we have the broadest artistic and cultural vocabularies ever. But that doesn’t mean remixing and taking from others isn’t new. Beethoven’s 9th contains a riff from a German folk song, for example. Many of the imagery in the Christian and Jewish and Islamic traditions take pages from the traditions of other cultures. To quote the Four Tops, “Now it’s the same old song”

    Music is essential to me and it comes into so much of my conversation. If the owners of content continue their battle for total control (like ASCAP did with the Girl Scouts, and they’ve done in restaurants with “Happy Birthday To You”, supplanting it with an inane chant *GRRRRRR*), it’ll only be a matter of time before we have to pay licensing fees for the songs in our heads. This isn’t histrionics, it’s just simple extrapolation from the direction we’re going. Just because the bus is headed for a brick wall and the bus driver intends to stop before the bus hits, doesn’t mean the people on the bus shouldn’t be screaming.

    Peace,

    Josh

  • nate

    > The issue is rather which policies favor creativity in a more general sense.

    Rodander — Personally, I agree completely. I didn’t mean to imply that there was no argument there, only that one example of someone who is not deterred by illegality doesn’t negate the fact that many are. Specific counter examples of work not produced due to lack of sufficient ownership are valuable too.

    To me (and I presume to you) there is an intrinsic social value in the production of creative works. I think the goal should be to maximize this creativity, so that more is created. I’m not sure that everyone shares that goal, though. For many, though, especially corporations, who have a fiduciary duty to shareholders and not the public as whole, the goal is to maximize financial return, independent of the whether more creative works are produced. I think much of the disagreement is due to this unstated difference of goals, and I’d love for this difference to be brought more into the open.

  • poptones

    …one example of someone who is not deterred by illegality doesn’t negate the fact that many are.

    I’m really sorry for being sarcastic about this, because it apparently went right past everyone except me.

    When I asked “who is right” I didn’t mean at all that my refusal to be swayed by law meant no one else would be. I have made the point myself many times that I know artists who are being swayed by law and it is not copyright law. They are being silenced by obscenity laws and by munitions export laws and by sedition laws – laws that carry with them real, hard core penalties. laws that are, in most every case, examples of the nanny state that increasingly intrudes into all our lives.

    Yes, I too know people who are silenced by laws. And their message is, in many cases, far more relevant to our future and our control of our daily lives than some twenty year old guitar riff.

    I think some of you believe that because I advocate DRM and encryption and respecting the rights of others that I am some Hollywood shill or perhaps some goody two shoes bespectacled hall monitor type.

    I used to call myself a Libertarian… then I got over it. Widespread DRM and encryption is a very good thing for any advocate of freedom. Why do you think robust private encryption technology is banned in China?

  • Joseph Pietro Riolo

    To poptones:

    Also, breaking DRM and encryption is a good thing for
    any advocate of freedom. Freedom is never one-way
    street.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    <riolo@voicenet.com>

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

  • poptones

    Of course it is, JP. Breaking DRM and encryption is how we evolve the science,

    However, knowing how to break into a vault still doesn’t mean it’s OK to empty that vault (or even just to go inside for a look around) simply because you can.

  • Joseph Pietro Riolo

    To poptones:

    If that vault were mine, I would be able to break into it
    without breaking any law. However, that can’t be said with
    the intangible things that still have active copyright. Unless
    they fall under the exemptions granted by the U.S. Copyright
    Office, it is against law to break DRM and any encryption
    even though I own the tangible things that these intangible
    things reside in. The DRM that you strongly support is
    against the freedom because people are not allowed to break
    DRM.

    In other words, copyright owners’ rights trump over the
    people’s freedom to break DRM whenever they want to. That
    is bad for any advocate of freedom, contrary to what you
    said.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    <riolo@voicenet.com>

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

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  • poptones

    If that vault were mine, I would be able to break into it
    without breaking any law.

    and you are still free to smash, destroy, or otherwise mutilate or remove from the protected commons any DRM system you should own. That does not bring with it the right to remove from protected space those things which you don’t own.

    The point is DRM protects things you may not own. You own a CD but you do not own the right to copy, redistribute or otherwise republish the data on that CD.

    How is this so hard to grasp? You do not “own” the rights to every bit that passes through your computer – indeed, if this were the case then all backbone providers would have carte blanche over all your personal data (including your passwords and encryption keys exchanged via their service).

    You are free to opt out of the new system, but I would expect anyone who claims to advocate liberty to welcome an opportunity to be freed from the tyranny of the world bank.

  • http://gnuosphere.blogspot.com Peter Rock

    Poptones:


    “You are free to opt out of the new system, but I would expect anyone who claims to advocate liberty to welcome an opportunity to be freed from the tyranny of the world bank.”

    I’m trying my best to understand what you mean by this as you’ve said or implied it several times, but can you please expand upon this or link me to a site that has a breakdown? I’m not seeing your connection between DRM and the World Bank.

  • poptones

    It’s all about “disruptive technologies.”

    How did Napster change the world? CDs existed before Napster and people ripped them and traded them via newsgroups and IRC servers. But Napster commoditized the behavior – once there was a convenient means of trading, in relatively anonymous fashion, the practice grew like wildfire.

    Napster changed the industry (and the internet) in a way most had never seen coming – and even those who had never envisioned it to be quite what it was.

    But the thing that made napster possible also makes it impossible for people to transact other business in that same fashion. If I want to open a for-pay website I am behoven to the credit banks. If I want to offer material or services the US government doesn’t like they will do all they can to pressure me out of business. And, because the US essentially controls the credit system, they can do a lot – including, should I find a way around their regulations, hauling me off to an american prison (no matter where I live in the world) for violating money laundering laws.

    If I want to offer anything for sale via the internet I am bound to the credit banks, because there is no other trustworthy infrastructure for doing so. Money orders, money transfers, egold, paypal – everything is bound to the world banking structure.

    Now, if I were the gambling sort I mighttry accepting payment in game money. But that surely wouldn’t last; as soon as the game makers got wind of my efforts they would either sue me into oblivion or just stop allowing people to trade virtual goods outside the game, thus essentially freezing all my in-game assets and putting me out of business.

    There are already “sweatshops” in asia where humans tend to bots that roam virtual worlds in order to accumulate virtual goods – that are then traded in the physical space for real money.

    People “work” in-game for a paycheck to buy real food.

    Imagine a napster version of the electronic wallet. Anyone with an asset to trade – whether it’s warcraft gold or paypal dollars or e-gold – could trade those goods relatively anonymously and as securely as handing one another physical currency. What gives them value? People agree they have value. It’s not a stretch at all to imagine even DRM porn gaining tangible trading value – and hubs springing up around this activity.

    This is exactly how the present day banking system transacts business – but they set the rules and they charge whatever they want for those transactions because they control the only “trusted” infrastucture. A pervasive and trustworthy personal computing platform must exist if the internet is to live up to the hype of the last decades. Without it, no one is truly free in this electronic world because no one can “own” anything.

    “In Soviet Russia, computer owns YOU!”

  • Joseph Pietro Riolo

    To poptones:

    You are still confusing freedom with rights in respect to
    the intangible things. This relates to what we discussed
    about free culture a while ago. It is not your fault.
    Some definitions for freedom are related to rights instead
    of liberty. Moreover, freedom and rights work differently
    in respect to tangible things (such as vault in your
    example).

    You believe that expanding the owner’s rights in the
    intangible things will promote more freedom. I disagree
    with that. I used your discussion on DRM as an example
    why giving the owner the rights to control DRM will not
    increase the freedom among the people.

    You love rights more than freedom in respect to intangible
    things. That’s okay and that explains why you strongly
    support DRM. You are entitled to your own opinion and
    I to mine.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    <riolo@voicenet.com>

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

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  • poptones

    You believe that expanding the owner’s rights in the
    intangible things will promote more freedom.

    What? Right now the people have no “rights” at all regarding those “intangible” things because nothing can be owned. The infrastructure can be owned – but that means little to your or me and a hell of a lot to Time Warner, Cox, Pacific Bell, and Disney.

    We, the people have no rights. Where there is no ownership, no “rights” may exist – period.

  • http://www.commonsmusic.com Commons Music

    poptones:

    A few things…

    If I want to offer material or services the US government doesn’t like they will do all they can to pressure me out of business.

    Hate to tell you this, but if the US government wants something stopped, it will stop it. Doing my documentary on the drug war has taught me this in spades.

    Now, if I were the gambling sort I mighttry accepting payment in game money. But that surely wouldn’t last; as soon as the game makers got wind of my efforts they would either sue me into oblivion or just stop allowing people to trade virtual goods outside the game, thus essentially freezing all my in-game assets and putting me out of business.

    How would a new DRM infrastructure change that? They’d still own the items to the game assets. It’s their choice whether to allow real-world sales of them. They could still sue you for copyright infringement.

    A pervasive and trustworthy personal computing platform must exist if the internet is to live up to the hype of the last decades. Without it, no one is truly free in this electronic world because no one can “own” anything.

    If you mean anything can be copied and disseminated…well, yes. But, DRM wouldn’t really stop that (see here), even with the trusted computing backend.

    Besides that, people would still own their creations. They couldn’t really stop its dissemination if an unprotected copy got out (which, of course, is what will always happen), but they’d still own it legally and morally (morally both in the philosophical and legal sense, although moral rights only exist outside the US). Ownership doesn’t vanish because of pirated copies, and the laws are working to really protect owners, so much so that, if you so chose, you could bring the full might of the law down on anyone who defied your rights. DRM wouldn’t help this, AT ALL.

    Of course, this is assuming you’re in a country within the umbrella of the Berne Convention and various copyright treaties

    But, I go on…

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