July 4, 2006  ·  Lessig

Claus Pedersen has completed research on the pattern of filesharing in Denmark. His conclusions are (1) the decline in record sales in Denmark is explained by many factors, and (2) the decline that there is is finansed almost in full by the wealthiest artists. What’s particularly interesting about the study is that it uses data from the Nordic Copyright Bureau, which has a monopoly status in Denmark. That means the data are not estimates of sales declines, but actual sales. (Nordic records 99% of the market).

A summary of the paper was translated by Marie Elisabeth Pade Andersen. You can read it here. Claus now looking for support to get the full paper translated. If you’ve got an idea, email him at this address.

  • three blind mice

    Copyright holders are well aware of the consequences that affect them and they state that decreased sales equals less money for investments in the music business. That is; less money for production, distribution and marketing resulting in lay-offs and record stores shutting down. Some of these consequences do not affect the consumers or the society as a whole.

    “research” that fits pre-conceived notions is not research. the latter part of this statement, for example, makes no sense.

    decreased sales of arla products (as a consequence of the arab boycott) also “means less money for production, distribution and marketing” resulting in lay-offs and dairy farms/factories shutting down yet few danes would say that “some of these consequences do not affect the consumers or the society as a whole.” some industrial sectors, it seems, are more important than others.

    That the recording industry now offers fewer jobs to lawyers, communications advisers and lay-outers is a logical consequence of declining sales and digitalization in the shape of mobile and Internet sales entails a decline in sales of physical units as CDs etc.

    fewer jobs for lawyers? the more piracy=fewer lawyers argument might appeal to the dairy farmers, but as a statement of fact this is not credible.

    the internet distribution=less marketing expense is also not very credible (but it again appeals to people who think “middlemen” are a useless drain on the industry.) indeed one would think it would take even more marketing investment to develop new distribution channels.

    The shutting down of record stores is an inevitable consequence of this development actively promoted by the recording industry via online sales.

    seems reasonable enough, but then there should be figures showing that increased legal download sales offset the lost sales in retail outlets.

    data on sales, dear professor, is an incomplete data set. there is a huge lacuna: what is on people’s i-pods/computers/MP3 players and how it got there.

    this “data” suggests that when people do not buy CDs they stop listening to music which in an environment of rampant piracy and lawlessness is questionable at best.

    surely competition for the consumer kronor from DVDs, movie theatres, and comic books will have an impact on sales of CDs, but it seems naïve to think that if the material available legally on CDs is also available illegally over the internet, the competition is not distorted.

    so in conclusion, this “research” looks like “research” from the american NRA that says there is no correlation between increased gun sales and the number of people being killed by guns.

  • http://www.piratgruppen.org Claus Pedersen

    Thank you for the comments. I will try to answer – please pardon my English.

    1) this is not research in scientific-understanding. It is a bagground paper to be used for a danish political parti, and therefore it includes political analysis.

    Naturally some of the consequenses of falling recordsales are payed by individuals rather than by “the society”.

    2) I don¨t make a ” the more piracy=fewer lawyers”-argument. You are not being loyal to the text. I simply notice, that when the business (record-business) have fewer money, they have to shut down some activity. Lawers are use in many other activities than hunting pirates.

    3) I agree, that internetadverticing can be a costly business, and my argument is not that the future will see lower marketingcost. I argue that the money for marketing cannot come from CD-sales alone. Recordbusiness must look into new business-models (not a very controversial argument, I should think).

    4) You cannot find figures to document a relationship between internetsales and falling sales of physical-copies. What you can do, is make up scenaries, and investigate how they develope – I do this in the full report.

    5) The data on sales are NOT incomplete. This is the fantastic potential in the danish monopoly-rights organization – we actually have the full figures – or very close to the full figures.

    6) naturally “free music” (as in free beer:-)) will affect the music-market. I have not stated otherwise. My only remark in this aspect is that people have a budget for entertainment, and if mony is directed towards music, other branches will suffer. As the situation is now our money is directed towards music because of DRM.

    This is an important discussion, so please be true to the texts you read.

    Claus Pedersen

  • three blind mice

    tack för svaret claus pedersen. (danska är nog lite svårt för oss.)

    1) any report on illegal file copying from an organisation which calls itself “piratgruppen” is prima facie bound to be biased – as your research appears to be. the skull and cross-bones under the computer is a dead giveaway. romanticising piracy, as you do, obscures the threat to life, liberty, and commerce that pirates have always presented. captain jack sparrow is a creation of hollywood, not history.

    2) society (an organisation being comprised of individuals) suffers harm even when certain “undesirable” individuals (i.e., attorneys) are put out of work as a result of the illegal activities of other members of society. at the end of the day, piracy does not hurt attorneys and middlemen as much as it harms working creative artists at the bottom of the food chain. society is very much worse off when artists no longer have the financial means to devote time to their art.

    3) agreed, but it must also be a reasonable position that the rights of copyright owners cannot substantially be lessened if they are to benefit from the new methods of distribution. it is groups like “piratgruppen” – who oppose DRM and trusted computing – that are standing in the way of innovation.

    4) agreed, but neither can you use legal sales information to make any conclusions about consumption a large part of which is conducted illegally. consumption is the true indicator of public demand. sales is proxy data. sales for vinyl LPs was a pretty good indicator of demand, sales of digitally recorded music that is “freely” available over the internet is not.

    5) there is a difference between “free as in free beer music” and “free and in it didn’t cost anything to download music.” certainly if there are bands who give away their music for free as in no cost and their music is good this will create “competition” for the other music resulting in decreased sales. if some people load up their i-pod with arctic monkeys’ free music there is less room for franz ferdinand and the doves.

    but since most artists are not independently wealthy, there needs to be a way for them to make money. the arctic monkeys did not become top of the pops until CD sales put them there. artists cannot live on free music alone.

    yes, this is an important discussion. it shouldn’t be clouded with biased studies portrayed as “research.” that being said, it is always welcome to have new points of view introduced into the discussion.

  • three blind mice

    We can now consume music all the time (in its digital form) without cost and without damaging the environment.

    which is certainly not why the greens support illegal file copying. whilst not damaging to the model, it destroys a business model for which there is no replacement other than a tax on everyone – consumers and non-consumers alike.

    The fight against non-commercial piracy is nothing short of a artificial monopoly given by the use of force (police and courts).

    no question that the monopoly is artifical. this is not in dispute. the question is whether or not the artifical monopoly makes sense.

    why is “non-commercial” piracy any different then “commerical” piracy? both deprive the copyright owner – the creator – of lawful revenue resulting from the consumption of his labor. that the latter is done for selfish profit and the former done for selfish greed makes no difference to the artist.

    on to the specifics of your report:

    The link between VHS/DVD sales and declining CD sales is truly remarkable, in fact, the increase in VHS/DVD sales fully compensates for the decline in CD sales. Using the word “compensate” seems appropriate since the major companies concerned are involved in both the music and the movie industry.

    it is not at all obvious that sales of CDs should have been displaced by sales of DVDs. one would expect the combined total to increase, not stay flat. denmark has had a growing economy and danes are far from skint.

    How do you feel about the record-sales being the same level now as in 1980 – 1993? What are the arguments against record-sales being boosted by replacement of LPs with CDs?

    assuming a modest 1% growth in the danish economy since 1993, record-sales (compounded over this period) would have to have increased nearly 14% higher in 2006 to remain at the “same level” as in 1993. boosted by the introduction of a new media, CDs, one might reasonably expect the figures to be well in excess of 14%. the fact that they have not does not suggest to me “compensation” rather it indicates that even the introduction of new products has not been able to keep up with the massive decline in the sales of recorded music in denmark.

    It also seems to me, that you ague against the individual artists right to give away his/hers music for free (no money).

    we totally and completely support the right of an artist to do whatever he or she pleases with the fruit of his or her labor. what we oppose (furiously) is when others (such as piratgruppen) take it upon themselves to deprive the artist of his or her right to sell copies of his or her work by flooding the internet with “free” copies. this is not only illegal, it is immoral.

  • http://www.piratgruppen.org Claus Pedersen

    Hi all of you hairy fellows

    1) The alternate business-model to selling CDs are not imposing taxes. How can you even get that idea. Maybe socialdemocrates or socialists will use this model, but lots of others are at hand.

    2) The difference between non-commercial and commercial piracy is clear, but you have not understood what the judicial battle is about. Non-commercial pirates are not the people downloading free music or movies. They are the people make it available to others. The non-commercial pirate is loosing money in performing his/hers task.

    In Denmark there is have never been one case against downloaders.

    3) In a world with “Everything else being equal” (it a danish economic-expression – maybe it is translated wrongly) you can expect the CD-sales to rise with the growth in the economy. BUT everything else is NOt standing still. If you look at the sales from 1980 – 1993 there is NO filesharing, but the recordsales are still stagnating! What is the cause?

    After 2000 (where danish recordsales trimple to the ground) there are plenty other factors to challange CD-sales – as I show in the report.

    4) Groups like Piratgruppen.org is – as you put it – taking it upon us-selves to flood the internet with information – that is true. Are we depriving the artist a right by doing so? I dont think so. Are copying a text for school-use a violation of artists-rights? Are libraries a violation of artists-rights?

    I dont accept the frase “immaterial property”. I will be large and grant the artist a monopoly in making money on his/hers work in a timeperiod – but thats it. The culture belong to the society! No work of art is ever produced in a vacuum, but is being stolen from others – the word “inspiration” is just another word for “piracy”.

  • anonymous

    What a crock of shit.

  • Josh Stratton

    three–
    society is very much worse off when artists no longer have the financial means to devote time to their art.

    That is true. However, society is also worse off when artists are overcompensated, not so much in terms of money, but in terms of a monopoly over what society can do with their works. The success of any copyright system is measured, not in how well it benefits artists, but in how well it benefits the public. Helping artists to some degree is likely to be more beneficial to the public than it is detrimental. Helping them overmuch is just the opposite; it isn’t that much more help for artists, and so not particularly beneficial for the public due to the diminishing returns on effectiveness, and it is much more detrimental to the public.

    Massively reducing the length and scope of copyright, i.e. the term length, what works are copyrightable, the degree to which formalities are required, what rights copyright consists of, and what exceptions to those rights exist, would, I think, result in a greater public benefit than we enjoy today, even accounting for the possibility that artists might lose some financial ability to create art. That is, up to a point, more freedom and less art is better than less freedom and more art.

    agreed, but it must also be a reasonable position that the rights of copyright owners cannot substantially be lessened if they are to benefit from the new methods of distribution. it is groups like “piratgruppen” – who oppose DRM and trusted computing – that are standing in the way of innovation.

    I completely disagree. Copyright holders can benefit from new distribution methods just fine even with substantially reduced copyrights. And while I don’t believe it would be constitutional to ban DRM, we can certainly discourage authors from using it by, e.g. not giving them copyrights if they opt to use DRM, not having anticircumvention laws, and having the government help or encourage circumvention of DRM on what would be public domain works. Methods of chaining up published creative works is one area that we do not need innovation in; it’s immoral to do it, and it’s a bad idea as a utilitarian matter.

    but since most artists are not independently wealthy, there needs to be a way for them to make money.

    I agree. But first, not all art is going to make money; not all artists can make a living as artists. And while it would be nice if artists could make money as artists, I’m uninterested in there being a way for them to do so at my expense (i.e. copyright) unless it benefits me more than it costs me. Having more creative works is beneficial. Having less freedom with regard to those works is detrimental. So long as I benefit, and the benefit is more than if there were no copyright, I’m all for copyright. But this is likely not the current situation, and DRM and its ilk is just going to make things worse.

    it destroys a business model for which there is no replacement other than a tax on everyone

    Well, first, I disagree. There are alternatives, and I, apparently unlike you, trust in the market to find them. And second, even if there are not, this is but a factor in the consideration of whether or not changing the law is a good idea. It’s not determinative on its own. We might be better off in the long run, even without the record industry as we know it existing, and even if fewer songs are made; this is because freedom with regard to those songs is just as, and often more, important than having more songs.

    why is “non-commercial” piracy any different then “commerical” piracy?

    Why is the health department more interested in making sure that restaurant kitchens are clean than that home kitchens are? Businesses are often more heavily regulated than individuals are in their day to day lives. I support the idea of an exception for copyright for natural persons acting noncommercially. There are several reasons: 1) Barring a sufficiently important reason to the contrary, the law should generally follow societal norms, rather than try to oppose them. Pretty much everyone in their private lives ignores copyright. This is a valid position for them to hold; copyright is an artificial construct meant to help the public after all, rather than a natural right, or a construct meant to help artists (that it might happen to help artists doesn’t make helping them the objective). So, laws affecting them on this matter should be dropped. People do not generally hold this position with regard to businesses and commercial uses of works, however. No one has a problem with the idea of circumventing DRM to make a mix tape, and giving that mix tape to someone else as a gift. People do have a problem with businesses doing this. The law is able to accomodate this. 2) Copyright is an economic right, and businesses are more likely to be willing and able to pay artists. They are also fewer in number and easier to police, making enforcement much, much easier. They are also more accustomed and able to license with artists without engaging in the practice of adhesive licensing, which ought to be largely if not wholly abolished in this field. 3) Businesses are more likely to be aware of and more interested in following copyright laws. We’ve seen that most individuals not only don’t care about them (because they believe that the law is in line with their norms) but are surprised to find out what the laws really are. Businesses are generally more cautious, and more likely to have legal counsel to advise them on the truth of the matter.

    both deprive the copyright owner – the creator – of lawful revenue resulting from the consumption of his labor.

    That is blatantly wrong. While many artists, myself included when I was a professional artist, support themselves by selling their labor, this has nothing to do with copyright. Even if there is no copyright at all, artists are perfectly able to make money by selling artistic labor. But with copyright, there is an attempt to sell the same packet of labor again and again and again, along with goods, i.e. copies. I don’t mind paying an artist a sum to create something. But I do not like paying him again to add no additional artistic labor, simply so that there can be a second, identical something. It’s like having to pay a plumber to fix your WC every time you flush it, even when it is working fine.

    we totally and completely support the right of an artist to do whatever he or she pleases with the fruit of his or her labor. what we oppose (furiously) is when others (such as piratgruppen) take it upon themselves to deprive the artist of his or her right to sell copies of his or her work by flooding the internet with “free” copies. this is not only illegal, it is immoral.

    I totally and completely agree. But I feel no compulsion to help the artist to do things I don’t like, such as adding DRM. And I am adamantly against the idea of giving the artist a monopoly on selling copies, unless I benefit from this more than I lose (as always, bearing in mind that more works created is not enough of a benefit by itself). Of course the artist is perfectly free at all times to sell copies of his work without a monopoly. No matter how many free copies are out there, he is deprived of nothing.

    As for immorality, that word is largely irrelevant in a discussion about copyright, which is purely utilitarian, and where it is relevant, it is always on the side of the public, not the artist. Spreading works far and wide so that everyone can enjoy them, and being free to use them as you like, is the acme of morality. It might have to be put aside for utilitarian reasons, but it’s still a great ideal. Locking works up and doling out monopolies is never moral.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    And I am adamantly against the idea of giving the artist a monopoly on selling copies, unless I benefit from this more than I lose (as always, bearing in mind that more works created is not enough of a benefit by itself).

    Really? Have you forgotten the days of pervasive and proprietary shareware? It may still be very common, for all I know, since I do not use windows anymore and avoid all non-Free software, but the fact I am even able to do this now is a screaming example of the benefit of “monopoly” – for it is said “monopoly” that separates the GPL from the BSD type licenses, and it is the GPL that has brought us largely to where we are today. Without the GPL many otherwise “free” voices would very likely remain silenced either because of lack of access to “primer materials” (ie the original content to tweak and alter and repurpose) or simply due to programmers not wanting to share the source of their hard work when it would mean getting little back in exchange for the very great risk of their code becoming part of some proprietary for-profit venture in which they would be offered no stake – ie without that protection from essentially becoming codemonkey slaves to “the man.”

    Its a;ll part of the same package – every one of those artists is free to use the GPL, or not use the GPL. Would it be “moral” to obtain the source to, say, Photoshop and “remix” that into the Gimp? Would the Gimp benefit from such greater facilitation of creative and technological laziness? It is that proprietary competition that has created immense opportunities in this world – why is this less so when applied to “artists” than to programmers? The fact you have more ready access to “source” when it is a video or music track does not diminish its importance or the rights of the “monopolist” who created it and chose to forego GPL licensing of the material.

    I suspect a greater adoption of GPL type licenses on artistic output could bring substantial benefit to society, and it’s a shame there is not more widespread adoption of this type thinking among “artists” as compared to “geeks” – but the way to convert them to the fold is not by simply saying “fuck you and your license, it’s mine because I can take it.”

  • Josh Stratton

    Its a;ll part of the same package – every one of those artists is free to use the GPL, or not use the GPL.

    Of course, there is no reason why it must necessarily be so. It would be well within the power of Congress to change copyright law so that there was an exception to copyright for all copyrighted works such that anyone could make and distribute copies or derivatives that they had made. Since the change would be in the law, this would of course apply to those later works too.

    I wouldn’t really go that far, but honestly I think that your long diatribe about the GPL — which I also am in favor of, as the only type of adhesive license we ought to allow for copyrighted works — has come out of left field. I don’t see the connection with this particular conversation.

    Would it be “moral” to obtain the source to, say, Photoshop and “remix” that into the Gimp?

    I do not think it would be immoral. Remember, copyright is utilitarian; morality isn’t a factor. But if I was pressed, I would say that it was moral since the creation and dissemination of works of any origin is desirable.

    but the way to convert them to the fold is not by simply saying “fuck you and your license, it’s mine because I can take it.”

    Meh. The derivative artist is just as much an artist as the original artist. So I’ve likely already got a number on my side. And in any event, the public trumps all the artists. I would like artists to be self-sacrificing and work for the public good rather than their own, but I actually don’t expect them to. I have no problems with artists being just as interested in their own interests as I and the other members of the public are in our interests. Selfless artists are nice, but I’m not really concerned with them. In fact, I’m all for exploiting them for all I can. Artists who are willing to work without any or some copyright don’t deserve more. Copyright values the public more highly than artists, and we are more numerous and more important. Copyright works to serve our desires, and no one else’s, save incidentally.

    It’s when this isn’t the case that copyright is seriously broken. It is seriously broken now.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    It would be well within the power of Congress to change copyright law so that there was an exception to copyright for all copyrighted works such that anyone could make and distribute copies or derivatives that they had made. Since the change would be in the law, this would of course apply to those later works too.

    It would apply to later works, whether or not it would withstand challenges on earlier works is debatable. Disney has the clout to win such cases, and it’s unlikely Disney et. al. would tolerate such intrusions.

    However, this would also completely undermine the GPL, and so I also doubt congress really has that power, since anyone voting for such retroactive castration of copyright would likely not remain in office past the next election… virtually every publisher would be against them as well as most of the GPL community. No politician could withstand such a perfect storm of bad press as that action would create.

    I wouldn’t really go that far, but honestly I think that your long diatribe about the GPL — which I also am in favor of, as the only type of adhesive license we ought to allow for copyrighted works — has come out of left field. I don’t see the connection with this particular conversation.

    Truly this doesn’t surprise me, as it’s pretty obvious you have not thought all sides of this debate through. My point is entirely relevant to this issue – undermining copyright undermines the GPL. If you make it so that anyone is free to remix and redistribute then you not only harm the artists, you also harm the technocrats who have largely constructed the gnu toolchest under the very idealist terms promised by it. One need only compare the volumes of software published under the GPL vs. the comparatively meager supply of BSD licensed code – despite the BSD license predating the GPL considerably – to see this fact is virtually irrefutable under any logical construct.

    Ergo, undermining copyright not only harms the “corporate publishers,” it would likewise harm all of society – even the “Free” society – because most gpl developers are gpl developers because they do not want to be hacking code that any Microsoft wannabe can lock up in proprietary offerings with virtually no compensation offered to those who created that code.

    Meh. The derivative artist is just as much an artist as the original artist.

    Derivative artist? What percentage of the stuff being shared in the p2p nets is by “artists” who have created derivative works? It’s a tiny tiny percentage – in fact, even those rare artists who do create works (derivative or othewise) even use the gpl license – it’s all the limited gpl which denies me the right to create a derivative work of their “free” work – ie even of the artists supporting the “free media” damn few even of them even support the type of “freedom” you are espousing here, much less the more relevant “freedom” everyone is taking with virtually anything they can lay hands upon.

    Undermining copyright would have harmful consequences in virtually every “community” from egacorps publishers all the way down to the individals who use stuff every day like the gimp and ubuntu and apache and gnome and virtually everything in between. Even those DVD rippers would be hosed given that most of those packages rely at some level on gpl code like avisynth and xvid.

    Yes, it is very obvious you have thought none of your quaint novelties regarding copyright beyond the most basic, irrationally idealistic imaginings.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Copyright values the public more highly than artists, and we are more numerous and more important. Copyright works to serve our desires, and no one else’s, save incidentally.

    Dude, get over yourself. MOST PEOPLE do not give a shit whether or not they can get the source code to the code running in their cellphone, electronic drum, tv or stereo equipment. This is also undeniable given the relative scarcity of devices like this which offer such utility – how many artists play korgs and kuwais and yamahas compared to those playng paias and pic based syndrums? How many individuals do you really know who have actually hacked their tivo?

    Copyright works for “us” because copyrights protects those who go to the trouble to create these things regardless of their underlying motive – I can take copyright or reject it, or reject only so much as I see fit, and my rights are protected against any further intrusions.

    Copyright is what gives the GPL teeth, and without those teeth there would be a LOT less sharing of source code going on – which means virtually everyone suffers, from the technocrats building corporate backbones all the way down to the housewife playing popcap games on the broadband connection routed to the internet via the sixty dollar wifi hub with the linux kernel (which she knows or cares nothing about) the family bought at officemax.

    General purpose computers in the home are a dying breed; I can now buy a microcontroller chip with oodles of RAM, EEPROM that can be locked down, a 32 bit instruction set that can tun a linux kernel at about 30 raw MIPS – a 1 square inch chip that has about forty times the computing power of the first PC, and it costs all of 4 bucks. Who cares about having an MP3 player in your computer when that just means being tied to your personal computer to enjoy them? Why screw with a HDTV tuner card for my PC when I can buy a box that plugs into the USB port of my “media center pc” for virtually the same price? Hardware is dirt cheap now; appliance computing is on the rise, and the GPL is one of the very few incentives left to protect and foster “openness.”

    Strip the teeth out of copyright and the response in many developer communities would be a lockdown of course code and, at best, an explosion of “programming cartels” wherein a limied number of insiders get access to community shared projects and the rest of us are relegated back to the days of shareware and binary only distributions… more likely, it would simply result in an even quicker transition to the locked down “appliance computing” model where everyone is a consumer of something, even the creators – the exact opposite of the world you seem to idealize.

  • Josh Stratton

    It would apply to later works, whether or not it would withstand challenges on earlier works is debatable.

    In light of Eldred, I think it would withstand such challenges. That’s virtually the only good thing about that opinion.

    However, this would also completely undermine the GPL,

    I fail to see how, since it would essentially make all works GPLed works. Of course, I don’t think that would be a good idea, but I think it’s within the ambit of Congressional power.

    Truly this doesn’t surprise me, as it’s pretty obvious you have not thought all sides of this debate through.

    I disagree. Rather, it’s that you tend to have these frothing-at-the-mouth arguments, and this one was a non sequitur; no one had been discussing the GPL.

    As it happens, I like the GPL, and would like to see it remain as strong as possible within the general limits of the copyright system, but it is not my main concern. Ultimately, I’d rather have a good general system than one that enabled a strong GPL. I think that we can have both, however.

    If you make it so that anyone is free to remix and redistribute then you not only harm the artists, you also harm the technocrats who have largely constructed the gnu toolchest under the very idealist terms promised by it.

    Remember, I was saying that anyone would be free to remix and redistribute and that of course anyone else would be free to remix and redistribute the remixes, and so on ad infinitum. This is the essence of the GPL. I wouldn’t require continued availability of published materials, but my views on formalities are well known, and the Library of Congress would make a good substitute for this.

    because most gpl developers are gpl developers because they do not want to be hacking code that any Microsoft wannabe can lock up in proprietary offerings with virtually no compensation offered to those who created that code.

    And, as I’ve been saying, making the GPL part of the core of copyright law, along with registration and full deposit formalities for copyright (so that the source is available, if only from the LoC and anyone who cares to mirror it) would avoid the scenario you imagine. Except in one case, where a derivative would not be copyrighted and so would not have the source published. But then the derivative isn’t copyrighted and so isn’t particularly locked up. And if that still wasn’t acceptable, I suppose one could have a private cause of action or some such to get source for uncopyrighted derivatives out there if they had been published and if any of the works the derivative was based on were still copyrighted.

    But remember, this is all just a fancy. Making the GPL part of the core copyright laws is not on my agenda. Neither is weakening it, actually, other than that I do want to see term lengths for software reduced to 5 years max, with no renewals.

    Undermining copyright would have harmful consequences in virtually every “community”

    Then it’s good that I don’t want to undermine it. I just want to reform it so that it is sensible. Surely you’re not going to be so silly as to suggest that the current laws, or more maximialist laws would be better.

    Copyright works for “us” because copyrights protects those who go to the trouble to create these things regardless of their underlying motive

    No. Where we can distinguish their motive, and their motive is one that would result in the creation of works sans copyright, those artists shouldn’t get copyrights. It wasn’t necessary, after all. It did not provide an incentive.

    Where it is an incentive, then of course we should provide copyright. Provided that the net costs to the public of doing so are less than the net benefits to the public.

    Strip the teeth out of copyright and the response in many developer communities would be a lockdown of course code

    Again, let’s remember that manditory, full disclosure of well-commented source code would be a requirement for copyright under my proposal, as I’ve pointed out to you on numerous occassions. People are of course free to have locked-down public domain code, but then everyone else and their dog is free to break those locks. I’m willing to bet that they will, too. And that having done so, they can add to those public domain materials to create copyrighted derivatives that benefit the lock-breakers. Since there would be no real benefit to pursuing such a course, I think developers would opt for whatever sort of benefit a short, trade-secretless copyright would yield. It’s better than having to fight with not only community minded hackers (who I have suggested might even be offered some government funding, since the government has an interest in the dissemination of public domain works) but also profit-minded competitors who are interested in copyrighting their added material and changes.

    Anyway, this whole GPL-oriented argument is still a non sequitur. What this conversation had largely been about was creating an exception for noncommercial, natural persons. Microsoft could not get GPLed works outside the GPL with such an exception. Nor could anyone who wanted to sell anything. I don’t think that the GPL community faces a real threat from hobbyists who could never charge a cent.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Let me get this straight: you “support” the pl and yet your proposed “solution” is to further contort and obfuscate the requirements of actually GETTING copyright?

    So when I submit a hundred line patch to nautilus that adds some cool feature, who gets to do the submission? Do we get the LOC to compile all these patches and register each one individually? And with each new patch I have to shell out another “reasonable fee” to get it actually protected?

    Dude, I’m sorry if this bluntness hurts, but your notions are simply insane. The idiocy you propose would devastate copyright for the little guy – the only orgs who could possibly keep up with all this nonsense are the corporations with the money and resources to keep up with it. The GPL would be devastated, there would be even more fragmentation of labor and support as each distro would have to make sure their latest version was protected, but since they were the “owners” none of the contributors would have any ownership of their own code – it wouold either be owned by a dsitro, or “public domain.”

    Thankfully, your ramblings here amount to just so much blather, so it’s all well moot (as is my participation in this silly discourse). It’s just sad you can’t seem to grasp the big picture here… it is all related, whether you are able to see how or not. Oof.

    It’s nbot that difficult to respect copyright. Really, it isn’t. It doesn’t hurt one bit. I’ve been doing it for years and, thus far, no open sores, no welts, and no restriction of my personal liberties. I guess to some that makes me Microsoft’s lap dog – but, in my eyes, Bill gates is my bitch.

  • Josh Stratton

    Let me get this straight: you “support” the pl and yet your proposed “solution” is to further contort and obfuscate the requirements of actually GETTING copyright?

    No. I support the GPL, but I have larger concerns. What I want to do is to limit copyright so that only those authors that want it for a particular work, as evidenced by a token effort to get it, will have it. This way authors that don’t care about copyright — the ones that we can presume were not motivated by it — won’t get one needlessly. This is simple thrift. The requirements for getting a copyright should be quite clear and straightforward and simple. Just not automatic. I’m all for having the Copyright Office run public information campaigns. I want authors who are incentivized by copyright to seek out and get copyrights. Just not anyone else.

    I think that the GPL can remain healthy in such an environment. Authors who use the GPL fall into one of two categories: First, those who deliberately seek it out, and thus are likely to deliberately seek out copyright as well. Second, those who fall into it because they make derivatives of GPLed works. This second category may or may not seek out copyrights. If they do not, this wouldn’t abrogate their responsibilities under the GPL to give out source. It would mean that the material they added was in the public domain, but of course that would have no effect on the underlying GPLed works.

    Whether the GPL would continue to apply to public domain material is an interesting question, but I expect that it wouldn’t, and IIRC, GPLv3 is deliberately not going to. This would meant that someone could use the new, public domain material without GPLing the result, but they still could not use the underlying GPLed material in such a way. As a practical matter, it’s worthless to them. This is because they’d have to carefully sift through material to find what was and was not copyrighted given how the rules for derivatives (see 17 USC 103) operate. In fact, in light of cases such as Russell v. Price, it might be impossible to use the public domain derivative at all without still getting sucked into agreeing to the GPL.

    So when I submit a hundred line patch to nautilus that adds some cool feature, who gets to do the submission?

    The author. Presumably, that’d be you, rather than the Nautilus project.

    Do we get the LOC to compile all these patches and register each one individually?

    If they’re created as part of a joint work, then they could be registered as a whole. If they’re created independently, then they’d need to be registered independently. Already we’re stretching things with the work made for hire concept of authorship. I don’t think we can constitutionally go any further. This might be a headache for big projects with lots of generally unaffiliated people, but it’s basically the cost of doing business that way.

    There is the thought that we might cut them a break with regard to the fee (though not the other requirements, which would be streamlined anyway, however). But I’d want to be careful lest it be open to abuse.

    And with each new patch I have to shell out another “reasonable fee” to get it actually protected?

    Every work gets registered independently. Ask inventors about trying to have one patent for multiple inventions sometime; they aren’t allowed to do it. You could make one large patch, though. And I’ve been thinking that a grace period between publication and registration, akin to that in patents, would be appropriate, if kept short. So you might have a year to do so, provided you took some other steps to indicate that you seek copyright in the interim, and you do actually register within the time limit.

    your notions are simply insane

    No, they’re just a return to how American copyright worked for centuries before we well and truly fucked it up with the 1976 Act. If you had a better grasp of history, you’d realize how weird and unamerican the current system is.

    would devastate copyright for the little guy – the only orgs who could possibly keep up with all this nonsense are the corporations with the money and resources to keep up with it

    Not at all. You forget that the little guy isn’t generally motivated by copyright, and therefore doesn’t deserve one. When he is, because he’s written the Great American Novel, he’ll seek out protection. Businesses are more likely to pursue copyrights for profit, and thus will pay more attention to how they’re gotten. But even they will ignore copyrights for many things (e.g. internal memos, lots of advertising, and other ephemera), to the benefit of the public at large.

    Really, it’s very much like patents. Lots of little guys invent things, but if they don’t follow up on that, and don’t seek out a patent, then who are we to give them unwanted rewards? They can get them easily enough, if they want to. Businesses in the technology business are simply more aware of the value of patents, and actively try to invent patentable inventions.

    I have no desire to harm the little guy, and I don’t think that I am. But copyrights are a serious business, and I’m not interested in giving away monopolies pell-mell. Let serious people take simple steps to get them, and they’ll have them, whether they’re big or small.

    but since they were the “owners” none of the contributors would have any ownership of their own code – it wouold either be owned by a dsitro, or “public domain.”

    Why the quotes? Anyway, as ought to be clear, even to you, the contributors would own the copyrights to their own works, provided that they bothered to get copyrights. Whether they keep them or not would be up to them, just as it is now. Your criticism on that regard is totally unfounded.

    Thankfully, your ramblings here amount to just so much blather

    Well, I should point out that I’m a copyright lawyer and that in my copious spare time I’ve been working on a new copyright act. I’m sure it’ll take a lot of work, but I hope to get support for it, or at least more public awareness, so that eventually we can see reforms such as I’ve been proposing. So don’t write me off just yet.

    Of course, I always welcome suggestions. Are there any reforms you’d like to see, or are you — and I’d find this impossible to believe — happy with things as they are now?

    It’s nbot that difficult to respect copyright.

    It certainly shouldn’t be. I think that people should only have to act normally, and that copyright ought to be designed around their norms. Then hardly anyone would infringe. But the laws we have now are unworthy of respect. I don’t support breaking them, though I sympathize with the infringers when they do. My aim is to reform the laws.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Well, I should point out that I’m a copyright lawyer and that in my copious spare time I’ve been working on a new copyright act.

    No. I support the GPL, but I have larger concerns. What I want to do is to limit copyright so that only those authors that want it for a particular work, as evidenced by a token effort to get it, will have it.

    No, you don’t support the fucking GPL at all. you’re a lawyer of the worse kind – oine who thinks he knows what the fuck he’s talking about when he’s out of his depth, and who refuses to listen to those who really do know what they are talking about.

    Forcing registration in order to protect copyright would completely destroy the GPL. Thousands off individuals contribute to GPL code – so what happens to the developers who submit patches and revisions, etc? Every new version of a piece of code would have to be re-registered. Who the fuck pays for it? The developers are already donating their time and effort to this work, now you want to tax their generosity

    Dude, you’re fucking insane.

    You’re a lawyer, and you want to make it harder to obtain and secure copyrights without people having to depend on more lawyers and spend more money… so what else is new?

    I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting the publishing cartels to support you. What I cannot believe is how clueless you are about the real impact you “reforms” would have. I feel quite confident in pointing out you’d likely find great resistance from groups like the EFF, but of course when have they ever made a difference?

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    You forget that the little guy isn’t generally motivated by copyright, and therefore doesn’t deserve one.

    Fuck you and you bourjois elitism, Josh,

    You’re insignifant exept to your clients (whom I pity). Ergo, I am done with you.

  • Josh Stratton

    No, you don’t support the fucking GPL at all.

    I disagree. As I said, I like the GPL, I think it’s a good idea, and I’d like to see it continue. However, my main priority is in fixing copyright law as a whole. I am confident that doing so will not imperil the GPL (unless it were to make it unnecessary because the law performed the same functions). But if I had to choose, I’d rather fix the law.

    you’re a lawyer of the worse kind – oine who thinks he knows what the fuck he’s talking about when he’s out of his depth, and who refuses to listen to those who really do know what they are talking about.

    How’s that? I’m quite knowledgable with regard to copyright law and policy, the various fields and industries involved with copyright law (both their commercial and noncommercial aspects), and the GPL. I’ve considered using the GPL for some of my own projects, but instead I have opted for the public domain since I know that copyright has not been an incentive for me and therefore would be inappropriate to claim.

    Forcing registration in order to protect copyright would completely destroy the GPL.

    I don’t think so. It would simply require authors who wanted to, or who were required to, place their works under the GPL, to register. Given that the US has had formalities for centuries, it’s hardly odd to require it. What’s unusual and unjustified is the current (hopefully short-lived) practice of not requiring it.

    If the authors don’t care enough about their works to seek out a copyright so as to make the GPL functional for their works, then I don’t see why I should care either. Remember, copyright is meant to benefit the public. It does this, in part, by acting as an incentive to authors to create that which they otherwise would not have created. But if an artist would have created a work sans copyright, then it would be quite wasteful to give him a copyright. The public benefits more from letting him create works anyway and not protecting them, then it would from not incentivizing him and protecting his works.

    Think of it this way: if you have a car, wouldn’t you prefer to have someone wash your car for free instead of charging you ten dollars to do it? All else being equal, only a fool would pay money for something he could get for free. Copyright is the same way; if authors aren’t incentivized by copyright, they shouldn’t get copyrights. When they are, they should get copyrights. Formalities are the best system we have for distinguishing the former artists from the latter on a work-by-work basis.

    GPL authors who care about copyright will register. Authors who don’t care, won’t. In this way, the public maximizes its benefit.

    Every new version of a piece of code would have to be re-registered.

    Yes, for whatever portions had changed. Probably the best solution is to have fewer, larger new versions. Remember that a work can have multiple authors and can be assembled over time. As I’ve mentioned before, I think a year between publication and registration is the most grace period that is acceptable. And even that isn’t great; I don’t like the public ending up uncertain as to whether or not an as-yet unregistered work is really copyrighted.

    The developers are already donating their time and effort to this work, now you want to tax their generosity

    Not at all. I’m not trying to use copyright registrations as a source of revenue. In fact I’m against that. I just want the registrations to be just barely more than trivial so that authors will really have to consciously decide whether or not they want a copyright. It’s not automatic. Since copyright is an economic monopoly, i.e. the incentive to authors is the opportunity to make money, a token investment discourages authors from pursuing copyrights on absolutely everything in a shotgun approach. Again, they are forced to make a consicous decision; do they invest a little sum, or is it not worth getting any protection at all?

    you want to make it harder to obtain and secure copyrights without people having to depend on more lawyers and spend more money

    You’re wrong there. I want copyright registration to be simple and easy for anyone to do, provided that they take it seriously. No lawyers should be required. In fact, they’re not required for registration now, and I’m quite happy with most of the current registration system, if only it were required in order to get a copyright. The form is clear and short (one of the more complex parts is the author’s name and address), the fee is small and reasonable, and the deposit requirement (which I would beef up) is important but not difficult in the least. Adding notice is trivial and is commonly done anyway. And that’s basically it.

    I would be quite happy if, under a reformed copyright system, no one ever had to come to a lawyer to have a copyright registered.

    I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting the publishing cartels to support you.

    Oh, I doubt it. Another part of my agenda is that everything done by a natural person, noncommercially, should be made noninfringing. Copyright would only be relevant to authors and to commercial entities or people involved in business. I’m also very strongly opposed to DRM. And I want extremely short overall terms.

    I feel quite confident in pointing out you’d likely find great resistance from groups like the EFF

    What I find funny about this is that my dream job would be to work for the EFF. I don’t think that they’d be opposed to it.

    Fuck you and you bourjois elitism, Josh,

    Am I elitist if I point out that the word is bourgeois? ;)

    Anyway, I’m not being an elitist. As I pointed out earlier, I would never grant a copyright to anyone who had not been motivated by copyright in creating a work. To give them a copyright would be undeserved and wasteful. They should be given out only to the authors who were in fact motivated by them. This is simple thrift.

    Most creative works were not created by a desire to get a copyright and exploit the work financially. This is a simple fact. They’re created instead for other reasons that copyright is not an incentive for: fame, art for art’s sake, to sell an individual piece, personal fulfillment, school or work assignments, etc.

    Generally, businesses are going to be more interested in deliberately creating works with copyright as a motive. But then, how is that odd? Most people cook food, but usually just to feed themselves and their family. They aren’t interested in doing it as a business, most of them. When a business cooks food, however, they almost always do so for profit. The same is generally true for works.

    I’m really not trying to favor individual authors over corporate authors with my reforms. Instead I’m trying to limit copyright so that it is only granted when necessary to incentivize authors, and not granted when it is not needed to incentivize authors. And I’m doing this because it benefits the public to not grant copyrights unduly. When someone will wash your car for free, you let them.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Generally, businesses are going to be more interested in deliberately creating works with copyright as a motive.

    More proof of your complete ignorance to the new world. Your thinking is as dated as the worse of any Hollywood stereotype.

    Copyright is in my interest and in my girlfriends, and in my neighbor’s. They may not all realize just how much at this point, but their ignorance is certainly no greater than yours – in fact, I would give them more credit, since as an allegedly educated “lawyer” you should at least know better, but don’t. There’s a different word for that than ignorance.

    How many thousands of developers are there contributing to gpl products? WHY are they contributing to GPL products and not BSD or “public domain” products? Fuck with that and you rob them all of that incentive and you rob everyone who benefits from their efforts of that utility. I cannot fathom how someone can claim to be educated (and a lawyer no less) and not fathom this very simple concept. Perhaps if you would spend a bit more time listening to people who tell you how your ideas are already antiquated you would have less of that prodigious free time and more clients and opportunity to actually do something useful with your time.

    Most people cook food, but usually just to feed themselves and their family. They aren’t interested in doing it as a business, most of them. When a business cooks food, however, they almost always do so for profit. The same is generally true for works.

    GPL. Shareware. BSD. Public domain…. look into it and tell me where most of the activity is going on now.

    I’m really not trying to favor individual authors over corporate authors with my reforms.

    Duh. It’s pretty fucking obvious you are, in fact, trying to do the very opposite – raise the barriers to protected free works in the interest of corporations. I don’t know who you think you are fooling, but it’s pretty fucking obvious to me you are simply trying to hone a message of deceit in your own self interest as a wannabe corporate publishing lobbyist. Too bad for you… if the law thing isn’t working out, maybe you have career potential as a pornographer.

    The “reforms” you put forth here don’t even address the core of the problems we are now experiencing. Making it harder to copyright stuff only benefits the corporations and other wealthy interests (like the lawyers they employ) – the ones who are going around suing indivudals for nonsense like trying to erect municipal Barney Fife monuments. How many indie bands are suing their listeners because of p2p activity? You’re trying to rob from the poor to feed the rich while casting yourself as some robin hood. You ain’t fooling me, and I doubt you’ll fool anyone else with your obviously contorted “message.” You may or may not be a capable lawyer, but you completely suck at politics – and, apparently, even at logical thought.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Think of it this way: if you have a car, wouldn’t you prefer to have someone wash your car for free instead of charging you ten dollars to do it?

    But in your nirvana, anyone who wants to wash a car for free still doesn’t get to do it because Bill Gates and the government controls the flow of water so they get paid anyway. In your brave new world all those people giving away car washes are simply providing free labor to the man who owns the car wash.

    Fuck you, Josh. Copyright is the walking papers for the GPL world. If you cannot even understand that, and how that emancipation of code (and real work by authors) from corporate tyranny provides the very incentive to create those works, then maybe you should burn that degree you got from a matchbook cover and come down here to Ole Miss where you can get a proper legal education.

  • Josh Stratton

    It’s pretty fucking obvious you are, in fact, trying to do the very opposite – raise the barriers to protected free works in the interest of corporations. I don’t know who you think you are fooling, but it’s pretty fucking obvious to me you are simply trying to hone a message of deceit in your own self interest as a wannabe corporate publishing lobbyist.

    Sorry, but no. I’m on the side against the copyright maximalists. I want to bring copyright back in line with the public interest. You might disagree with my suggestions for doing so, but don’t make up lies about my ultimate goals.

    The “reforms” you put forth here don’t even address the core of the problems we are now experiencing.

    The core of the problems we’re facing is that authors and publishers have hijacked copyright for their own benefit. Dealing with that is a political problem, and other than raising public awareness, lobbying Congress, voting, and seeking allies (e.g. librarian associations, home electronics manufacturers) there’s not a whole lot else to do. Although I’d be happy to hear some suggestions.

    What I’ve been doing is focusing on public awareness but also in preparing some ideas for what our ultimate agenda is. Just saying ‘fix copyright’ isn’t good enough, so I’ve been tinkering with drafting legislation. I don’t really expect that my suggestions would get endorsed widely or even passed, but it’s a start. It’s a foundation to build upon and change, and something to point to in the meantime to help back our efforts.

    Making it harder to copyright stuff only benefits the corporations and other wealthy interests

    No, it doesn’t. In fact, it’s relatively neutral in that regard, in that non-wealthy authors generally don’t pursue copyrights anyway. For example, under the current law, all of your posts here are copyrighted (though mine are not). Do you actually care, however? Are you planning to compile them and publish them for money? I doubt it. And so I wouldn’t give you an automatic copyright on them. If you took some affirmative steps indicating that you really did plan to exploit the copyright, and if they were near in time to the creation and publication of the posts so as to indicate that this had been your intent at the time, then by all means, I’d be happy for you to get a copyright on them.

    So as I said, most people don’t care about copyrights on their own works. Those that do tend to act in a business-like manner about it. Just as people who want to start a business have to get licensed, think about forms of organization, tax implications, etc., so too do business-minded authors of any size actively think about copyright. It’s really no different than patents. The patent system isn’t set up to favor industrial inventors over people working in a garage. But it is set up to favor serious people over amateurs who ignore patents and thus reveal themselves as not having been incentivized by them and thus not deserving of them.

    he ones who are going around suing indivudals for nonsense like trying to erect municipal Barney Fife monuments

    Yeah, that is pretty stupid. Except that that has absolutely nothing to do with copyright, AFAIK. That is the Don Knotts’ estate using publicity rights. And while I don’t normally deal with that sort of thing, I do think that it’s stupid to have publicity rights that persist beyond one’s life. I would support the statue-makers.

    You’re trying to rob from the poor to feed the rich

    Not at all. No one inherently deserves copyrights. They are granted by the public only when they serve the public interest. They only serve the public interest when the public reaps a greater benefit from the copyright than the cost to the public of having to suffer the copyright’s ill effects. Copyrights can only be beneficial when they are in fact incentivizing authors (along with some other things). If a copyright is not incentivizing authors, then it is not beneficial to the public, and should not be granted.

    I don’t care about whether an author is big or little. Only that he is an author that would not have created his work if not for copyright. If he would have done it anyway, then we don’t need to incentivize him. He was willing to work for free and I’m willing to let him.

    anyone who wants to wash a car for free still doesn’t get to do it because Bill Gates and the government controls the flow of water so they get paid anyway

    I really fail to see what you’re trying to say here. Remember, I’m very much against DRM, and I’m very much against allowing copyright holders to engage in rent-seeking. Perhaps you could clarify your statement in light of this?

    In your brave new world all those people giving away car washes are simply providing free labor to the man who owns the car wash.

    Yes. In fact, they’re providing free labor to everyone. That’s what the public domain is. It is totally unrestricted. While I do prefer the GPL over the BSD license, I ultimately prefer the public domain to both. Neither is an acceptable substitute.

    provides the very incentive to create those works

    If they have an incentive then I’m sure they’d be happy to evidence that with the standard formalities. If not, then I guess they weren’t really incentivized after all.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    Dude, you are being an idiot. Try LISTENING for a change, huh?

    Public domain is NOT FREEDOM. Public domain is a free ride, but it is not freedom – it means any work can be coopted by anyone, anytime, and locked away AGAIN in a proprietary package. If the linux kernel were “public domain” then Microsoft could take the kernel, link in whatever crap they wanted, and come out with a new windows that ran linux or whatever, and they would have zero responsibility to share how they did that with any of us; they could charge whatever they wanted, license it however they please, and none of us would have the fredom to redistribute our own goddamn works in that form.

    That is not freedom, it is tyrrany. It is, in essence, slavery. Not slavery of the programmers who created the original code, but even worse – slavery of the code itself. the GPL is what protects the fruits of my labor; the creative offspring of my loins, from being hauled off in chains to do the bidding on the corporate massahs.

    If code has to be “registered” with the government at every goddamned turn then TREMENDOUS obstacles would be placed to the very creation of that software – we individuals would have to pay the government for our own fucking generosity, and pay parasitic lawyers (tempted to say like yourself as it seems obvious this is your inten, but I will save that particular character assasination until you have, once again, proven me right with your own words) who present zero value to the world but only serve to obfuscate “justice” while reaching for our pocketbooks.

    The fact everything I create is copyrighted is what allows me the freedom to collaborate with others in an open and productive manner without fear of my code being dragged away in chains by some proprietary venture who cares less about helping society than making money – copyright serves the public greatly in this manner. It serves the public a hell of a lot more than allowing a bunch of teens the “freedom” to post torrents of every goddamned DVD they can lay hands upon, which seems to be the only “freedom” you are able to recognize.

    “Free Software” means that the users have four essential freedoms. Freedoms that every user of software should have.

    * Freedom 0 is the freedom to run the program, as you wish, however you wish, for any purpose.
    * Freedom 1 is the freedom to study the program’s source code, and change it so that it does what you wish.
    * Freedom 2 is the freedom to help your neighbour. This is the freedom to distribute copies when you wish, including publishing them. and
    * Freedom 3 is the freedom to help your community. This is the freedom to distribute modified versions when you wish, including publishing them.

    The GPL (in some form) is inarguably the most popular “free” license. The GPL supports the anti-corproate structure that has, at last, given the microsofts and apples of the world some compelling competition. The GPL (and copyright) is exactly what secures for us all those “essential freedoms” outline by RMS. This has created a pressure on EVERY corporation to loosen the reigns a bit on their products, improving access to software of all types to virtually everyone throughout the world.

    If you undermine copyright (which, as I said before, you’re not going to do anyway since your ideas would hold virtually no appeal to ANYONE except those of the most self-serving, short sighted desires) then you undermine LIBERTY. it is as simple as that.

    You claim to want freedom. Your “freedom” is irresponsible and short sighted and serves the interests only of corporations and lawyers. Well, fuck you and your zealous quest for power and job security; What we need is liberty, and the GPL and copyright are doing a fantastic job at providing that… even as things are now.

  • Josh Stratton

    it means any work can be coopted by anyone, anytime, and locked away AGAIN in a proprietary package.

    No. People can, of course, publish copies of public domain works. But they can’t remove works from the public domain.

    If Linux were in the public domain, yes, Microsoft could publish their own version of it. But all the parts of it that were copied would remain in the public domain. All the parts they didn’t register would be in the public domain. And since registration would involve full deposit of well-commented source, which would be available for public viewing, it would not be difficult to to strip out any new, registered, copyrighted material they had added. Meanwhile, anyone else could continue to publish Linux, regardless of whatever Microsoft was doing.

    they would have zero responsibility to share how they did that with any of us

    I think that this point is fairly well negated by the formalities I’d like to see. Either their new material is a public domain trade secret, in which case you can copy the binaries and reverse engineer them as much as you like, or they’re registered, copyrighted, and fully visible. You can’t make copies of the new material during the term, but you can look at and learn from the complete and well-commented source code, which would be available at the Library of Congress.

    Given that the term would only be a few years for software anyway, as it ‘ages’ much more rapidly than other kinds of works, after a brief hiatus you’d have public domain source and binaries for whatever they had added anyhow.

    license it however they please

    Well, I’m against allowing adhesive licensing (save for a few good licenses such as the GPL) so unless they were willing to negotiate back and forth with you (as might be the case with really big customers), they couldn’t license it at all. They could really only sell copies outright, as is the case for books, movies, CDs, paintings, etc.

    If code has to be “registered” with the government at every goddamned turn then TREMENDOUS obstacles would be placed to the very creation of that software

    Oh, you wouldn’t have to register it. You’d only have to do that if you want a copyright. There would be no obstacles whatsoever to stop people from releasing public domain works. After all, the public benefits the most from having as many public domain works as possible. Then, once you’ve got all of those, you mete out a little copyright in order to get all the works that can only be created with copyright as an incentive, and even then you limit the amount of copyright (and thus the number of works created) so that the public still comes out ahead. And finally, the works that would cost the public more than they would benefit from them are not incentivized. They come at too high a price; as much as we’d like them, we can’t afford them.

    we individuals would have to pay the government for our own fucking generosity, and pay parasitic lawyers (tempted to say like yourself as it seems obvious this is your inten, but I will save that particular character assasination until you have, once again, proven me right with your own words) who present zero value to the world but only serve to obfuscate “justice” while reaching for our pocketbooks.

    No. You have to pay the government to demonstrate that you really want a copyright and would otherwise not have created the work. Remember, a copyright isn’t free. It is a burdensome monopoly that is costly to the public. They should not be handed out ever, unless necessary to yield a greater public benefit than they cost. Right now you are saying that the world should fork out to you always and automatically, but in the form of a copyright, rather than dollars. I won’t tolerate that kind of public waste.

    As for lawyers, just like I said before, copyrights are now, and would continue to be, so easy to get that no one has to go to a lawyer in order to get one. It is about as difficult as filling out a change of address form with the Post Office. I encourage you to look at the actual registration forms at the Copyright Office. They are incredibly easy to complete and send in. I’d even support making it easier, with additional Internet-based registration, 24 hour multilingual toll free help lines, etc.

    Remember: I just don’t want to give out copyrights automatically. If someone is willing to expend even the teeny tiny effort of going to get one, then I have no problem with giving it to that person. I want to give it to that person, whoever they may otherwise be.

    The formalities are valuable in their own right. For example, deposit ensures that copies are preserved in the Library of Congress so that they won’t be lost in the future. But their other significant purpose is to indicate a desire for a copyright as a motive for having created the work to begin with, since those are the only kinds of works where we want to grant a copyright at all.

    * Freedom 0 is the freedom to run the program, as you wish, however you wish, for any purpose.

    I know the technical reasons for counting from zero, but it is silly in this context. Anyway, I support this one.

    * Freedom 1 is the freedom to study the program’s source code, and change it so that it does what you wish.

    I support the study part of this one; that’s a large part of why I’ve got the beefed-up deposit formality for software as part of my plan. As for changing it, this conflicts with the derivative right of copyright. I support works being in the public domain, in which case there is no copyright. I support the GPL, in which a copyright holder chooses to allow people to make derivatives of his copyrighted work (in exchange for them doing likewise). But while I’m concerned with the expansiveness of the derivative right, I think that whether and how much to allow others to engage in preparing derivatives is largely best left to a copyright holder.

    * Freedom 2 is the freedom to help your neighbour. This is the freedom to distribute copies when you wish, including publishing them.

    As above, I’m all for copyright holders getting the choice of whether to do this, and for it to be perfectly allowable for public domain works, but I wouldn’t be likely to take the choice away from the copyright holder.

    Freedom 3 is the freedom to help your community. This is the freedom to distribute modified versions when you wish, including publishing them

    Ditto.

    The GPL supports the anti-corproate structure that has, at last, given the microsofts and apples of the world some compelling competition.

    I don’t know if I’d say compelling. Linux, for example, has yet to catch on in large segments of the market, and while I applaud and recognize its technical excellence, it’s a piece of crap as far as usability goes, and probably is unsalvagably so. To be fair, so is pretty much everything else. Having worked on UI projects in the past, I’m a real usability snob. Nothing currently shipping is any good AFAIC. This is often rather frustrating, as I am good at identifying problems and possible solutions which would need to be investigated and tested. But I don’t have the skill to write or modify software to implement the possible solutions. And since I’m a lawyer now, I don’t have the time, either.

    Anyway, I digress.

    You claim to want freedom. Your “freedom” is irresponsible and short sighted and serves the interests only of corporations and lawyers. Well, fuck you and your zealous quest for power and job security; What we need is liberty, and the GPL and copyright are doing a fantastic job at providing that… even as things are now.

    I disagree. I want freedom, but the public domain is the most freedom available. It’s not short-sighted, as things simply remain in that state. They can be added to — Disney can make their own movie version of Aladdin — but not removed — just as anyone else can still make their own Aladdin movie even today. Even well-meaning restrictions, such as those in the GPL, are ultimately not acceptable in the long run; they are not substitutes for good copyright and a healthy public domain. I think your failure to understand the nature of the public domain (i.e. you keep imagining that using public domain works to create derivatives involves any rights over the public domain works) is what’s sending you off on the wrong track.

    I am certainly not interested in serving the interests of any specific group. I am solely interested in the public interest. As it happens, I fully expect that if I am successful that it will cause a big contraction in the market for copyright lawyers. So be it. I’d rather be out of a job than continue to suffer under bad copyright laws. I am confident that I, and my bretheren in the copyright bar, are fully capable of finding other work. We don’t really need to worry about ourselves.

    But copyright, as it is now? It’s crap, and the sooner we scrap it, and replace it with a smaller and better system, the better. Even tempered by the GPL, which I like, and would like to see continue, copyright law is still too awful to be allowed to continue in its current state.

  • http://poptones.f2o.org poptones

    I knew you’d do it.

    Thanks again for proving your utter incapacity for grasping the issues at hand here. Not only do you now understand the diff between gpl and public domain, you refuse to expend any effort on doing so all the while insisting you knw what “most people” do or do not – including developers, which is doubly ironic considering you’re obviously not a developer and never were, at least in any sense beyond the lone masturbatory geek stereotype.

    No, I have nothing substantial to add because it’s pretty obvious we’re the only two even reading this shit, and you’re just plain not listening.
    Dude; you’re (allegedly) a lawyer, surely you can afford to buy yourself a clue.

  • Noia

    actually I’ve quite enjoyed reading this after finding it, which admittingly has been far too late. However, I do consider there to be a major issue with the communication form here. Even if do not agree with Josh Stratton on all points, I can accept and understand the views from some view – and even if I do agree on most acounts with “poptones”, the weird desire to use verbal insult and accusations as a means of “defense” or whatever else I may call it, seems to only cause the argument to lose any and all credibility. I would like to see somebody with a slightly more mature angle on how to handle objective and subjective discussions take up the flag of my battle ship. I only wish I had the mental capacity myself to properly word my concerns and opinions on the matter, being even a Dane myself – one of the people the report is focused around.

    However, as discussions go, the points are valid and have some merit, although I’d value if it’d be reduced to the actual points and discussion, without the incessant pointless mudslinging.

    Thank you for the enlightenment and opinions of all participants.