Comments on: The Solipsist and the Internet (a review of Helprin’s Digital Barbarism) http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/ Blog, news, books Fri, 03 Feb 2017 16:59:00 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 By: DaoTe http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-48151 Fri, 10 Jul 2015 15:52:00 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-48151 Interesting article but far, far too long and filled with inaccurate
claims and wandering digressions.. For example, in the second paragraph,
the writer absurdly and misleadingly states:

“…While the law protects ordinary property forever — your car, or the land on which your house might sit — the law of copyright protects creative work for a limited time only….”

Your car, except in rare circumstances, has a life span of only a dozen years or so and often if older will run afoul of new regulations and a shortage of spare parts
and your land will be taken away in a jiffy if you fail to pay taxes on it. It gets worse.

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By: Guest http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-47530 Tue, 06 Jan 2015 08:45:00 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-47530 enjoyed
the article, nice workIPVanish Coupon

http://chirnsidedoctors.com.au/

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By: طراحی سایت http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-47531 Tue, 06 Jan 2015 08:45:00 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-47531 Very excited about this

http://chirnsidedoctors.com.au/

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By: Adolph Hilter http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-439 Tue, 21 Jul 2009 18:25:45 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-439 Unfortunately Lessig attacks the man for a difference in style – something that is sorely lacking in all things Internet. But that is the future, eh? The Internet. I’d rather take Helprin any day. As for Lessig, he’s known president Barack Obama since their days teaching law at the University of Chicago so there goes any objectivity!

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By: Tim S. http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-438 Mon, 20 Jul 2009 18:41:13 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-438 Mr. Lessig -

Thank you for your clear refutation of Mr. Helprin’s arguments.

I don’t understand the purpose of your first long collection of excerpts from Mr. Helprin’s book. (following “Friends don’t let friends publish books like this.”) Why are you criticizing the man’s writing, exactly? I’ve not read all his work, but he’s written at least one novel that is a true American masterwork, so the burden of proof is going to fall on you. His style is his style; there’s no purpose, and not a little foolishness in complaining about it. More importantly, it delays the trip toward the meat of your argument.

Thanks again & good luck.

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By: Keith Lofstrom http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-437 Thu, 02 Jul 2009 06:38:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-437 I love much of Mark Helprin’s writing. He has a weird and mind expanding way of making words do things you never thought they could do. Literature meets the Three Stooges. So read this book, not as the reasoned polemic of a copyright scholar, but as Moe Howard with a judge’s wig. Mr. Helprin’s book is Plan 9 of Outer Copyright. I doubt that is what he intended, but he provides thousands of delicious bon mots that will entirely undermine the extension of copyright for decades to come. When an unwitting politician quotes Helprin, that politician will be skewered into oblivion (pardon the metaphor mix – reading Helprin does that … )

My biggest concern is that this will kybosh Helprin’s chances of future book tours – the impatient will shout him down. The man is one of the most entertaining speakers I have ever seen (as long as he is not reading from one of his later books). His stories about European book tours with monolingual publisher’s reps ( “My companions are Amazonian tribesmen, they sleep on the floor and eat raw meat” in Italian) or his daughter’s struggle describing her favorite song in Russian ( “We all reside in a yellow subsurface military vehicle”) are hilarious and worth hearing, even if you have to put up with a dab of unpalatable political ranting.

What worries me most about Helprin’s work is what the extension of copyright might do to his own work in the future. Look at what the owners of the Zenna Henderson copyrights did. She wrote science fiction novels for young people, and started each chapter with Bible quotes. Of course, there are many people that find that distasteful, so to increase sales and readership, the current copyright owners took them out of new editions. Because of copyright law, it is effectively illegal for non-copyright owners to publish these works in their original form. If that is the fate of bible quotes, what will be the fate of some of Helprin’s hilariously wicked sentences, some of which will offend Blue and Red alike? Copyright does not “protect” works, just revenue streams.

Study this book. It is eloquent nonsense, and it will be quoted by many eloquent idiots with high official positions. Properly prepared, you will be able to deflate dumb ideas and dumb politicians simultaneously.

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By: Keith Lofstrom http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-436 Thu, 02 Jul 2009 06:32:56 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-436 I love much of Mark Helprin’s writing. He has a weird and mind expanding way of making words do things you never thought they could do. Literature meets the Three Stooges. So read this book, not as the reasoned polemic of a copyright scholar, but as Moe Howard with a judge’s wig. Mr. Helprin’s book is Plan 9 of Outer Copyright. I doubt that is what he intended, but he provides thousands of delicious bon mots that will entirely undermine the extension of copyright for decades to come. When an unwitting politician quotes Helprin, that politician will be skewered into obliviion (pardon the metaphor mix – reading Helprin does that … )

My biggest concern is that this will kybosh Helprin’s chances of future book tours – the impatient will shout him down. The man is one of the most entertaining speakers I have ever seen (as long as he is not reading from one of his later books). His stories about European book tours with monolingual publisher’s reps ( “My companions are Amazonian tribesmen, they sleep on the floor and eat raw meat” in Italian) or his daughter’s struggle describing her favorite song in Russian ( “We all reside in a yellow subsurface military vehicle”) are hilarious and worth hearing, even if you have to put up with a dab of unpalatable political ranting.

What worries me most about Helprin’s work is what the extension of copyright might do to his own work in the future. Look at what the owners of the Zenna Henderson copyrights did. She wrote science fiction novels for young people, and started each chapter with Bible quotes. Many people find that distasteful, so to increase sales and readership, the current copyright owners took them out of new editions. Because of copyright law, it is effectively illegal for non-copyright owners to publish these works in their original form. If that is the fate of bible quotes, what will be the fate of some of Helprin’s hilariously wicked sentences, some of which will offend Blue and Red alike? Copyright does not “protect” works, just revenue streams.

Study this book. It is eloquent nonsense, and it will be quoted by many eloquent idiots with high official positions. Properly prepared, you will be able to deflate dumb ideas and dumb politicians simultaneously.

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By: konteyner http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-435 Sat, 20 Jun 2009 06:30:00 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-435

Clem – all of me, not just a part, thinks its ludicrous…I was being facetious. To be serious – I find Lessig very persuasive, particularly in explaining that the limits imposed on copyright are motivated by a “public reason,” and in clarifying that his position is not anti-copyright. I agree too that Helprin comes across as both absurd and insufferable, but the argument “If those composers’ copyrights weren’t limited, we wouldn’t have their alternate versions,” is not music to my ears.

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By: Michele http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-434 Fri, 05 Jun 2009 14:16:39 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-434 A nit I had to pick as I read on -

fn 3: “Actually, Boyle is from Scotland. I’m sure Scotland would not consider itself a colony of England.”

Perhaps not a colony per se, but given that the second-most powerful political party in Scotland is one expressly committed to Scottish independence from England, certainly not an equal partner.

(Mr Helprin’s quote, out of context, seems to both have failed to do any research on James Boyle, and also to make the common colonial mistake of conflating Englishness with Britishness. But I digress.)

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By: John David Galt http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-433 Tue, 02 Jun 2009 18:29:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-433 The key error in what you’ve quoted is here:
No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.

Here are several good cases.

First, all authors, like all inventors, “stand on the shoulders of giants.” Much, perhaps most, of the value the public gets from any work is in the later works that other authors will derive from it. Yet copyright law, as it currently exists, prohibits those later authors from even beginning work until the original is in the public domain. This may not be a major issue for works of literature, but it has drastically slowed down the improvement of software products for decades.

Second, why should an author get paid without having to pay the predecessors from whose work his is derived?

Third, where a work (or even a trademark) is related to political controversy, enforcement of copyright against critics of the IP owner has the effect of censoring political debate. The courts should refuse ever to do that. But even outside of political debate, freedom of expression is an important right which will end up severely restricted if we ever get perpetual copyright law.

Aside: Spider Robinson’s “Melancholy Elephants” *is* a worthy contribution to this discussion, but so are his subsequent, pro-IP comments published in “The Crazy Years.” He is not entirely our ally, though this may be partly a result of misunderstanding.

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By: John http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-432 Fri, 29 May 2009 12:33:14 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-432 hmm, All a matter of your individual point of view. I sympathize with Helprin and also appreciate Lessig’s higher level arguments. Both have major blind spots though, and both mostly are preaching to their respective choirs.

I am an artist and solely support my family from the proceeds of my imagery. There may be imperfections in current Copyright law but its protections directly impact my livelihood. Care must be taken with its evolution in response to disruptive technology. The value of the individual artist should be taken into consideration when discussing the needs of the ‘public good’.

While Helprin is sloppy, I find Lessig ultimately naive. From my small point of view, it appears that Lessig’s well-meaning efforts and nuanced logic is taken out of context to provide cover for larger special interests [Google,MS/Getty etc] looking to aggregate artist works and profit from grabbing rights from those of us least able to defend ourselves.

Perhaps we will become a society based on crowdsourced amateurs. Farming is looking better.
Sorry for the sloppiness. To whom should I send my grocery bill?

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By: petter http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-431 Wed, 27 May 2009 08:48:58 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-431 Clem – all of me, not just a part, thinks its ludicrous…I was being facetious. To be serious – I find Lessig very persuasive, particularly in explaining that the limits imposed on copyright are motivated by a “public reason,” and in clarifying that his position is not anti-copyright. I agree too that Helprin comes across as both absurd and insufferable, but the argument “If those composers’ copyrights weren’t limited, we wouldn’t have their alternate versions,” is not music to my ears.

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By: Clem Weidenbenner http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-430 Tue, 26 May 2009 22:26:16 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-430 @ petter:
Part of me wants to believe that’s ludicrous. If someone steals Stravinsky’s score and publishes it (so that we have the original to appreciate) – and Stranvinsky himself publishes a “new version” then he appears to be immitating the thief. Now it could be argued that in this scenario Stravinsky can claim his original was stolen and challenge the original’s publisher to demonstrate the degree of talent needed to have actually composed the original. But this seems a stretch. More likely he trots out his drafts (wanted to say ‘notes’) and makes a case against the theif. But in any event I don’t want to conclude that thievery benefits “all of us”. In the long run it doesn’t even benefit the thief.

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By: petter http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-429 Tue, 26 May 2009 10:55:15 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-429 Excellent argument, and it applies nicely to “real property” too; if someone had stolen Stravinsky’s score before he’d had a chance to publish, he would likely have enriched us all with a new version. So when things are not stolen, it’s a loss for all of us.

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By: Jim Carlile http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-428 Tue, 26 May 2009 02:23:01 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-428 Both Stravinsky and Schoenberg rewrote their works because they were responding to a situation that would never exist now– their American copyrights either had or were soon to run out, compared to European lifetime guarantees that were extended sometime earlier.

Regardless of who held the Soviet or whatever European copyright, ‘The Firebird’ would not have been protected for long in the U.S. unless Stravinsly rewrote it. It was close to expiration, and that’s certainly the case with the Schoenberg. The United States back then required American copyrights for American protection. They had to do it anyway.

The point is that long-term copyrights and automatic renewals and extensions deprive us of work. If those composers’ copyrights weren’t limited, we wouldn’t have their alternate versions.

There’s also a misunderstanding about the public domain that never gets addressed by these rightsholders. It doesn’t ncessarily deprive creators of their work. They can still release it– they just have to do a better job of it than anyone else for it to sell. Or re-do it.

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By: Matt J. http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-427 Mon, 25 May 2009 22:06:16 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-427 Carlile has severely misrepresented the copyright case with Stravinsky. His big copyright problem would NOT have been helpd by perpetual copyright. His big problem was that the Soviets somehow inherited the rights to the Firebird, so that he HAD to revise it to have anything to sell.

But even that didn’t help him much, since people just kept on using the Soviet copyrighted version, for which they paid nothing.

Clearly perpetual copyright would not have helped him at all under such circumstances.

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By: Joe http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-426 Mon, 25 May 2009 16:35:51 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-426 Copyright is such a touchy and difficult subject. There are only so many new ideas to go around, or even new ways to execute them. I doubt many of the people who take credit for things actually should.

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By: Jim Carlile http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-425 Mon, 25 May 2009 02:54:13 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-425 When both Stravinsky’s and Schoenberg’s big copyrights were about to expire in the late 40s, they didn’t bitch and moan. No, they went back and revised their works– in some cases improving them (Verklaerte Nacht?)

This would not have happened if we had perpetual copyright. Long term copyrights also motivate publishers to keep backlists in lieu of fostering new talent. Few good authors these days originate from major publishing houses.

Helprin’s pouints are absurd– and also, public domain doesn’t mean the original author or heirs can no longer use the work for profit. It just means they have to do a better job of it than anyone else.

How does Helprin defend the extremely limited terms for patents? (lord don’t get him started on that…! ) I also love his propensity to call people “Marxist.” Really, really dumb… but revealing. ( and when did hippies ever share diaphragms?– this guy’s a creative artist of repute? With that kind of stale rhetoric?)

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By: Matt J. http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-424 Sun, 24 May 2009 12:59:37 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-424 Lots of great information in this post. I am afraid, though, that the very people who most need to read it, will not put up with the disorganized style of it long enough to find such gems as, “There is no excuse for the careless and uninformed screed that Digital Barbarism is”.

Nor will they find those revealing remarks about how completely ignorant Helprin really is, such as “A freezer to fix crashes? Who was the geek who fooled Helprin into that one? No wonder he hates you guys.”

The formatting of the paragraph containing the above remark is most regrettable.

But like I said, the information in this blog entry is great, and I hope the truths it contains are much more widely disseminated. After all: one of the sad side-effects of the diminished attention span (also mentioned in the blog entry) is that far too many people let themselves get caught up in the simple-minded superficial appeal of Helprin’s ersatz thinking. The Lessig blog is making a valuable contribution to opposing that.

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By: Mark http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-423 Sat, 23 May 2009 06:09:53 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-423 On page 4 you write “At another part of the book.” I would suggest either “At another point in the book” or “In another part of the book.” Mark

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By: Bob Blakley http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-422 Fri, 22 May 2009 23:47:28 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-422 I’m a Classicist by university training, Larry, and I have a question for Mark Helprin. If a continuous legal tradition encompassing unlimited copyright had existed since 500 BC, how many of the works of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus would be legally publishable today? How many less the works of Homer, whose very existence was doubted even in ancient times?

How many of the works of Shakespeare would be publishable? To whom would the royalties be paid?

Is the dream of the novellist really just a buck for the grandkids?

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By: All Car Pictures http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-421 Fri, 22 May 2009 19:07:07 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-421 Ben: “Man up”? Seriously? Sounds like you watch a boxing match more than a discussion. I’d learn a lot more from reading a well-considered response from Helprin to Lessig’s review than watching them trade talking points on a stage.

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By: petter http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-420 Fri, 22 May 2009 12:18:43 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-420 look forward to reading this…Helprin comes out as quite the pompous ass in Michiko Kakutani’s NYT review, and his website certainly confirms that impression (note the sheet music in the background..)but for the time being, let me just note that the pdf version (mistitled Halperin) brings up nothing…problem either with Apture or Scribd

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By: Pablo http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-419 Thu, 21 May 2009 21:10:21 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-419 Well done Professor Lessig. A trouncing worthy of the NYROB.

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By: Buck http://www.lessig.org/2009/05/the-solipsist-and-the-internet/#comment-418 Thu, 21 May 2009 20:13:19 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2009/05/the_solipsist_and_the_internet.html#comment-418 Sir-
A fantastic rebuttal, and well worth its length for those interested in the subject.

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