July 13, 2012

"Copying Is Not Theft."



ADDED: Some analysis by a lawprof, Stuart P. Green:
The problem is that most people simply don’t buy the claim that illegally downloading a song or video from the Internet really is like stealing a car. According to a range of empirical studies, including one conducted by me and my social psychologist collaborator, Matthew Kugler, lay observers draw a sharp moral distinction between file sharing and genuine theft, even when the value of the property is the same....

[W]e should recognize that the criminal law is least effective — and least legitimate — when it is at odds with widely held moral intuitions.

... People who work hard to produce creative works are entitled to enjoy legal protection to reap the benefits of their labors. And if others want to enjoy those creative works, it’s reasonable to make them pay for the privilege. But framing illegal downloading as a form of stealing doesn’t, and probably never will, work. We would do better to consider a range of legal concepts that fit the problem more appropriately: concepts like unauthorized use, trespass, conversion and misappropriation.
That is, let's be realistic and honest about what we really think is morally wrong in this area and adapt the law to that. Obviously, our ideas about morality and intellectual property have shifted with the changing technology and — let's face it — our desire to justify what we've done and what we want to do. We're talking about statutory law, and this is a democracy, so we can have what we want. We just need to think rationally and long-term about what will give us what we want.

Here's Stuart P. Green's book, upon which the linked op-ed is based — "Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age."

153 comments:

tiger said...

Nonsense.

And if that's a real FBI warning then these folks have zero sense of irony.

Law breakers - especially of 'victim-less' crimes'- always look for justification for their crimes.

AllieOop said...

I think perhaps that FBI warning was meant to be ironic.

Chip S. said...

Two common-sense propositions about copyright:

1. No protection at all will lead to underprovision of original works.

2. Infinite protection will lead to underconsumption of original works.

The rest is just details.

SGT Ted said...

yea thats a bullshit argument.

IF you aren't paying the artist or producer for new music you downloaded, you are a thief, plain and simple. You just don't have the guts to stick the CD down your pants AND you're not honest enough to even admit you are stealing it.

I bet there'll be some thieves posting up in here about how they aren't stealing the free music that magically produces itself without cost or artistic effort or intellectual property rights. They'll site the equally despicable RIAA, as if theft is completely OK when a cop or a lawyer is a dickhead.

Largo said...

Nina Paley is great! Sita Sings the Blues is awesome!

Matthew Sablan said...

If people refuse to pay for creative things and, instead, just download it, that's their choice. But, they also lose the right to complain about the quality of what they're copying. Nothing pisses me off more than to be talking about the relative merits of a game for someone to say: "Yeah, it sucks." Then to find out: "I pirated it. Why should I buy it if it sucks?"

This is for games that have demos.

Jason said...

Maybe we should legalize rape, too, as long as nobody gets sick or pregnant. What's the harm?

Chip S. said...

Hey Althouse, who has the copyright on a comment posted to your blog--you or the commenter?

If it's the commenter, then could people posting comments that repeat something that's already been said upthread be sued?

And what constitutes fair use of a tweet?

Heck, we've gotta find something for all those unemployed law-school grads to do.

SGT Ted said...

Jason, indeed. The victim still has her vagina, so no harm, right?

chickelit said...

He who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me Thomas Jefferson (1813)

Saint Croix said...

The point of property as a legal concept is to protect work.

We even call an original song or movie or book an original work.

That song is a prime example of how liberals detest work. They don't want to do any work. Liberals want free money based on the work you did.

This is Socialism 101. The non-workers steal from the worker. They want to make copies of your work. They want free money for work they have not done. Liberal = "I don't want to work!"

prairie wind said...

The fuss about illegal copying is relatively recent. I used to be able to copy pages and pages out of a book with no one caring. And no one cared if I recorded copies of songs on my cassette tape recorder.

The difference is that now copiers can be traced. So we've gone from something being NBD to being a very big deal. Something needs to be done to clarify the law and the penalties or we will end up with a lot of people in prison...as if we already don't.

Who benefits from the fines collected from these infractions? Who gets that money? I'll be shocked--shocked!--if law enforcement doesn't make bundles that way.

wv: forgesns

Matthew Sablan said...

He who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me Thomas Jefferson (1813)

-- That's a great quote that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. There are plenty of ways people can get free entertainment, books, movies, etc., without downloading them. There's a large difference between using one candle to light another (or sharing ideas to help educate each other), and simply stepping in and picking up someone else's work completely without bothering to give them the decency of paying for their effort.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

That idea brought to you by graduates of the 'self esteem' educational system, who long ago found out that by copying the work of the guy who gets As in exam, you too can have an A!

It's that simple.

Matthew Sablan said...

"The fuss about illegal copying is relatively recent. I used to be able to copy pages and pages out of a book with no one caring. And no one cared if I recorded copies of songs on my cassette tape recorder."

-- Kids and adults copying individual songs from the radio via cassette tape is a vastly different thing from people being able to download fully functioning games and movies before release day. The problem is that, before, copying was a time intensive thing that you needed to be dedicated to do or needed equipment (even if it was just a cassette player!) Now, anyone with about 10 minutes, can go online and download thousands of dollars of media relatively easily.

Pogo said...

Copying is not theft, property is theft.

What's yours is mine.
Make that compulsory and you're a Democrat.

Thanks for sharing. Although I meant "thanks" ironically, as in not at all. Heh. Smrf.

tim in vermont said...

I see no reason to spend hours upon hours creating something new, I did it once to create a set of tables based on engineering principles as applied to fishing, and you know what? People just copy them and get all the benefit of your work for the effort of a cut and paste.

Sorry, not worth my time.

prairie wind said...

The problem is that, before, copying was a time intensive thing that you needed to be dedicated to do or needed equipment (even if it was just a cassette player!)

Sure, I understand that copying is easier now. But it is still just copying. Baking a cake used to be labor intensive but now, with box mixes and microwaves, it is easier. You are still baking a cake, though.

If law enforcement wants to stop pirates from making pre-release video games/movies available, that's one thing. Going after middle schoolers for downloading something from the internet...that's something completely different. Should be, anyway.

Chip S. said...

I just realized what a commie plot public libraries are.

They take taxpayer money to lend copies of books so that people don't have to buy them, thereby raising the incomes of writers whose books wouldn't sell otherwise and lowering the incomes of people who write books people would be willing to buy.

prairie wind said...

Chip, publishers are now limiting the number of times a library can loan an ebook.

chickelit said...

That's a great quote that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. There are plenty of ways people can get free entertainment, books, movies, etc., without downloading them.

Jefferson's attitude towards intellectual property was to clearly demarcate the commercial aspect and to enshrine the rules in the Constitution. His initial efforts have been revised over the years. Inventors were entitled to brief monopoly in exchange for full disclosure and eventual & perpetual residence in the public domain. The latter aspect is rarely celebrated. There is for example, no flashing KMart lights at the USPTO's website saying, here, people, these patents are expired--these ideas and plans are free for the taking--use them wisely, people. Why do you think that is?

Nathan Alexander said...

What is the value of a work of art?

What someone is willing to pay for it.

If I splash paint on a canvas, and I think it is worth eleventy quadrillion dollars, is it worth the price I put on it? Is it theft if I don't get that amount?

Is it theft if I whistle the melody of the latest Madonna song?

Consider:
- a score Beethoven song.
- a digitally recorded performance by a famous violinist of the same Beethoven song.
- a song by Billy Joel that uses the melody and harmony of that same Beethoven song, verbatim, but adds lyrics
- a digital copy of a Stevie Ray Vaughn song
- a transcript of a Stevie Ray Vaughn song
- a band covering a Stevie Ray Vaughn song on their album
- a band setting lyrics to a Stevie Ray Vaughn instrumental

Why is the first example the only example that is public domain?

Is Beethoven less "arty" than Billy Joel?

Why can Billy Joel claim compensation after his death just by adding doggerel to someone else's art?

The only reason anyone could make money from recording music was technology enabled it. Now technology has enabled people to reduce the value of a recording.

Why should someone make a single performance, but be able to earn money in perpetuity from future performances that involve no effort on the artists part at all?

Couldn't that be considered theft? Getting money for no effort on your part, at worst, isn't "earning".

So the point is: There is no such thing as an Iron Rice Bowl. Technology giveth, and technology giveth away.

Supply and Demand are unavoidable, and I dislike artificial manipulations of supply and demand to extort greater rents from people.

The current copyright law is absolutely a great example of rent-seeking.

It needs to be re-balanced in favor of the consumer.

At the same time, artists need to put more effort into value-added activities that reduce the value of digital recordings.

That's reality.

Chip S. said...

prairie wind--nice link. The quantity limit seems like a new idea. Scholarly journals have been charging super-high rates to libraries for a while now.

chickelit, wasn't Jefferson the subversive who donated his books to get the Library of Congress going?

Nathan Alexander said...

If copyright is supposed to ensure that future art gets accomplished, what should our reaction be to George R. R. Martin, who after collecting the royalties from the first 4-5 books of an incomplete series, tells his fans, "I don't owe you anything."

Chip S. said...

Nathan Alexander said...
The only reason anyone could make money from recording music was technology enabled it.

Brilliant comment.

But you now owe the American Economic Association some money.

Matthew Sablan said...

Again, adaption of works, performances, etc., are much different than what most people have problems with. Which is simply taking other people's work and doing nothing with it. The vast majority of pirates aren't using what they take to create new art or to make statements. They are taking it because they don't want to pay for it.

We can look at other cases, but most of it is just that people would rather have the song for free than a nominal price on iTunes.

tim in vermont said...

Chip,
That is so true.

mark said...

Before you comment go and read "The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind" by James Boyle. It is free at feedbooks.com

Go. Don't stay ignorant or argue from a position of ignorance.

Matthew Sablan said...

I also don't think we can compare piracy with libraries. They're clearly different things.

cubanbob said...

Just to piss off the liberal deep pocket base the republican's should remove copyright protections for music and videos. Just imagine the rabid howls from them demanding their property rights be defended. Great entertainment indeed.

edutcher said...

The Beach Boys and Chuck berry beg to differ.

Largo said...

We dont usually think of rape in terms of theft, but this does not mean we think rape should be legalized! Clearly, something does not have to be theft to be wrong.

And si the question of whether copying may be harmful is distinct from the question of whether it is theft. If copying is harmful, do you think that its harm is best expressed in term of theft? (We could speak of rape entailing a kind of theft, but I would suggest this would be a wrongheaded approach to the harm of rape.)

To those who contend that acts of copying are to be understood (in some cases) as acts of theft, my question is: what was stolen? Perhaps the notion of theft does not require that there be anything identifiable as "that which was stolen". But usually, when we speak of theft, there is such a thing, even of it is intangible (e.g. "time").
If you say that copying is theft, please identify what thing was stolen, and be prepared to answer critical questions about that "thing". Or else, explain why "theft" is the most appropriate word to describe the harm, even in the absense of an identifiable thing being stolen.

acm said...

Nathan, Beethoven is public domain because Beethoven isn't around to care whether or not you rip him off, and doesn't have an estate to care either. Stevie Ray has an estate, people he actually designated to control his work and legacy, and who he trusted to handle the profits of that work and legacy. Billy Joel is alive with bills to pay. Some time after both Vaughn's death, when the law assumes that the original person that Vaughn trusted isn't able to care for the estate (what is it, 50 years after the artist's death, or 30?) someone will be able to make art and profit from it by adding whatever they want to his music. See, at that point, neither Vaughn nor whatever adult he left his rights to (one assumes) will be able to care about the fact that the work is being bastardized and that they're not getting paid. As long as the creator is alive, and for a certain time after, especially if that creator has children to support (as artists tend to be less able to get life insurance) the creator should be compensated.

Really, if you owned anything that you'd worked hard to get---diamonds, a house, etc---you should profit from the sale or use of it, unless you have chosen not to. If you are recently dead, the profit from the sale or use of it should go to your children, or to another person you've chosen. 100 years after you're gone, it's different.

prairie wind said...

The only reason anyone could make money from recording music was technology enabled it. Now technology has enabled people to reduce the value of a recording.

Dang. This won't fit on a bumper sticker.

chickelit said...

Nathan Alexander wrote: It needs to be re-balanced in favor of the consumer.

Agree. It's fundamentally always been equilibrium type dynamic--almost physical in nature. Technology has altered the equilibrium and Le Chatelier's principle applies.

chickelit said...

@acm: Just to be clear here, the issue is term or duration of copyright.

Matthew Sablan said...

"To those who contend that acts of copying are to be understood (in some cases) as acts of theft, my question is: what was stolen?"

-- The money that would have to have been paid that is not. This is really kind of basic; if you paid for something instead of taking it for free, you would have had to pay money. That money is the thing which is being kept, by you. You'll try and argue: "But they can still sell it! Nothing physical was lost!" But they can't. They can't sell it to you. You'll claim you're only giving it a test drive and you might buy it if you like it. Too bad; if you steal a CD from Best Buy and then smuggle it back in the store when you don't like it, it doesn't count either, even though a single CD would be negligible (if they even notice it is missing!) It's really kind of simple.

Chip S. said...

They're clearly different things.

Here's one difference: the authorized original that I purchased and then "lent" to a friend for his use was bought with my own money. Public libraries use taxpayer funds.

At any rate, differences can be clear without being large.

Also, mark's advice @9:20 seems very good, based on a quick read of the Preface.

Pogo said...

"Copying Is Not Theft."

Actually, this is how the Fed operates when it creates trillions of new dollars out of thin air.

Copies of dollars.

Largo said...

BTW, my comment was a reply to jason, but I would be interest in hearing fron anyone who contends that copying is at times wrong. I think that this could be reasonably contended. My question is: is it theft?

chickelit said...

Thread winner at 9:36 from Pogo.

Bruce Hayden said...

Good job. Makes the point well that copying is not theft. It is, however, often infringement, and therefore illegal.

Is this thread protected by copyright? Yes. And, yes, your comments are yours, not Ann's (but, of course, her original blog post is hers). BUT, can someone copy part (or even all) of your post in theirs? Almost assuredly, either under implied license or fair use. The nature of comment threads is that if you comment, you expect that others may comment on your comment, and that is the basis of the implied license.

But, in the end, so what? Copying of these blogs most likely never rises to the level of criminal infringement, and without registration, it is pointless to sue for civil infringement, given the cost versus probable reward (potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to sue, versus mere cents for damages).

Matthew Sablan said...

Now, there are very good reasons to look into fixing copyright law and changing business practices to give artists more control over their work. The system is flawed; I'm just not going to pretend that copying other people's work is a legitimate thing where no one loses out on something. It's less bad than physically taking their money away from them or physically stealing a CD, but it is still something that shouldn't be done.

I do remember years ago when being a pirate was a good thing, and everyone thought it was cool. I'm kind of glad that there's enough shame that it is trying to be rebranded as just copying.

Chip S. said...

Thread winner at 9:36 from Pogo.

Pogo's comments are usually first-rate. I don't think it's right to mock this one.

Rocketeer said...

I only hope Largo and Pogo have given Onstad and Kelly a nickel for their avatars.

Dante said...

It's not just music,of course. It's any IP. If this idiots had there way, there would be no software industry, and no reason for companies to build software (or frankly chips, since actually they are really a bunch of software etched into a chip).

And no reason for drug companies to invest any money in new drugs.

I wonder what Hollywood thinks of this. It's not what they do, it's not the editing,etc., it's the medium on which they are carried that has value.

Let's kiss the information age goodbye. These people really have a point. Unfortunately, they won't have anything to copy if it were legal.

Widmerpool said...

The issue, despite the strenuous efforts of the RIAA, is much more complicated than the "copying is theft."

See this for a good explanation:

Why Napster is right

Pogo said...

Kelly died in the 1970s, but you would be surprised how much I have spent buying Walt Kelly stuff.

The avatar is something I made from one of his works. His being dead puts a crimp in his collecting dough from me.

Chip S. said...

His being dead puts a crimp in his collecting dough from me.

He has no estate?

We still have to pay to use the image of Mickey Mouse.

Rocketeer said...

I was joking, Pogo.

That being said, though, if my unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren can be forced to pay for the gold-plated benefits of present day layabouts and ne'er-do-wells, I fail to see why you think a dead man can't force you to cough up a sou for 1 inch square cartoon character.

Pogo said...

"He has no estate?"

Fuck that. Copyright laws extending forever are bullshit.

Chip S. said...

Copyright laws extending forever are bullshit.

So you're walking back your 8:56 comment?

Good.

Matthew Sablan said...

Yeah. Revisiting when copyright ends is a reform that needs to happen.

chickelit said...

@Chip S I was dead serious about Pogo's 9:36.

Also, FWIW, I used to use other's work and images of others for my avatars, but I switched to my own originals out a sense of propriety.

Largo said...

Matthew,

If I infringe copywrite, I may have harmed the holder of the copywrite. But suppose I made 100,000 copies of your song on my hard drive. (Disk space is cheap.) I question whether it is sensible to speak of my having stolen money from you. If I have, and I have not yet spent it, is there any way of my returning it to you? (Usually we speak of stolen items being returnable). If I destroy the copies, does this destroy what eas stolen? (Destroying copies is not destroying money.) How can a court quantify how much money I stole from you? Is this the money I am to repay you? Is this the proper form of redress? And are we not now talking about -damages- for a -tort-?

I am not saying that I did not -harm- you. But my theft was the theft of money, and my every action was captured by cam for the court, the question of how -much- money would be merely a matter of observation and counting. This is not characteristic of determining harm in cases of copyright infringment.

Perhaps the harm is very great--so great that criminal sanctions are appropriate. So perhaps there may be a kind of criminal tortious behaviour. But what benefit is there to saying that -money was stolen-, when the immediate (and perfectly reasonable) question of "how much" has no natural answer?

Perhaps I am asking: what does the -language- of theft give us here, that the language of torts died not, which would incline us to use it?

Chip S. said...

Well then, chickelit, please explain what it means.

Which dollar is the original? Who owns it? Is it like the International Prototype Kilogram?

Largo said...

(Forgive my typos and fubarred grammar. Composing on a cell phone is a bitch.)

Matthew Sablan said...

Simple. It makes it clear the result of what is happening. Your actions are taking money from someone else. We can try and figure out how we want to punish that action, or how to reform it to make it easier to do so legally. But, I don't think we should pretend it's not doing that.

Rocketeer said...

Which dollar is the original?

The one that represents actual labor or creativity?

I'm fine with being off the gold standard, but dollars have to be backed by something.

Largo said...

Rocketeer,

I really should purchase a copy of -The Great Outdoor Fight-. Consider me appropriately stung.

Chip S. said...

The one that represents actual labor or creativity?

I honestly don't know what this means.

dollars have to be backed by something

What is it that you think is backing the dollar?

Peter said...

What's needed is an economics lesson.

Some goods are rivalrous; others are not.

An apple is a rivalrous good, because if I eat it then you can't.

A copy- legal or otherwise- is not rivalrous.

So, the argument seems to come down to demanding that all rivalrous goods be free.

From another viewpoint, there is always a difference between the marginal and proportional cost of producing goods- the marginal cost does not include development costs; proportional cost does.

For some goods- but especially non-rivalrous ones- marginal costs are close to zero.

So, perhaps the demand is that no one should ever have to pay more than the marginal cost of production for anything?

If so, it is economically illiterate as a business is sure to fail if it can recover only its marginal costs of production.

Rocketeer said...

GOF was comic perfection...

Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. No, really. I got a Great Outdoor Fight t-shirt.

acm said...

"He has no estate?"

Fuck that. Copyright laws extending forever are bullshit.

7/13/12 9:57 AM


But...they don't extend forever. 70 years after the artist's death. I'd be open to shortening that, but, really...you don't think that Kelly's children should benefit from their dad's work? Would your opinion change if his kids were still little when he died, or if Kelly hadn't been successful while he was alive? I'm genuinely curious as to why people think that artists spouses and children shouldn't profit from the artist's work.

Rocketeer said...

I honestly don't know what this means.

I honestly don't know where to start...

What is it that you think is backing the dollar?

I think I'll start here:

In the beginning...two tiny amoeba...the start of life!

John Althouse Cohen said...

-- The money that would have to have been paid that is not. This is really kind of basic; if you paid for something instead of taking it for free, you would have had to pay money. That money is the thing which is being kept, by you. You'll try and argue: "But they can still sell it! Nothing physical was lost!" But they can't. They can't sell it to you. You'll claim you're only giving it a test drive and you might buy it if you like it. Too bad; if you steal a CD from Best Buy and then smuggle it back in the store when you don't like it, it doesn't count either, even though a single CD would be negligible (if they even notice it is missing!) It's really kind of simple.

No, it isn't simple. When someone illegally downloads an album, you don't know what the person would have done in the alternate universe where they hadn't done so. Would they have still bought the album new? Maybe. But maybe they wouldn't have bought it because they didn't have the money. Or maybe they would have bought it from a used CD store. Or maybe they would have listened to the album at a friend's house and decided they didn't like the music.

You also don't know what the full consequences of illegally downloading the album are. You're making it sound extremely simple: the downloader gets the music, and the artist and record company don't get any money at all, period. But there's no reason to assume that. Maybe the person was only willing to try out the album for free because they weren't familiar with the band, but then they loved the album, and decided to buy all that band's other work and see them in concert 5 times. Downloading an album for free could cause the artist to get lots of money — far more than the cost of the album.

So, to say the effects of copyright infringement are very simple is not true. The effects are very complicated.

Nathan Alexander said...

re: Pogo, SRV's estate, Mickey

rent-seeking

Rent-seeking isn't always wrong, but it usually is.

@amc,
I absolutely understand that SRV has an estate that cares, and Beethoven doesn't.

That doesn't make SRV's estate right.

Why should SRV's estate continue to earn money when they aren't creating anything of value?

Why should Disney be able to write a story using public domain stories, and then slap a copyright on the result?

I say they shouldn't be able to.

On the other hand, I do believe that creation does provide ownership rights. I just think corporate cronyism has made those rights too strong, at the expense of consumer rights.

I still don't support or excuse piracy, however.

bagoh20 said...

Marriage is like copyrighting your spouse. Is adultery theft? Hell, they may even improve after they've been stolen a little.

John Althouse Cohen said...

And if that's a real FBI warning then these folks have zero sense of irony.

If that's a real comment then you, ironically, have zero sense of irony.

Jason said...

If you say that copying is theft, please identify what thing was stolen, and be prepared to answer critical questions about that "thing".

Largo:

When I brought up the rape analogy, I wasn't pointing out that rape was theft. I don't even think copying protected intellectual property is theft. I'm simply pointing out that the "free culture" people are fucking stupid.

Chip S. said...

acm said...

[copyrights] don't extend forever. 70 years after the artist's death. I'd be open to shortening that...

Bad news: We've moved in the other direction. It was
50 years until Sonny Bono got on the case.

And only 20 years in total for a patent. Poor Edison's great-great-great-great grandchildren!

Jason said...

Don't buy into the "copying is not theft" straw man. You can certainly steal a stream of revenues, sure, but their premise, like their conclusion, is utter bullshit.

Copying intellectual property isn't akin to theft. It's akin to trespassing.

You own a piece of land. You sell a right of way, or build a road or bridge with your own money. These nihilist turds are too lazy or stupid to build their own road or bridge, but demand the right to cross without paying anyway.

"Hey, maaaaan!! Like, you still have your bridge!!!!!"

Ignorant, immature fucktards, the lot of them.

rhhardin said...

There's Boldrin on the lack of economic justification for copyright and patent.

It's all rent-seeking beyond what the market would give, using the force of your state against you.

Bribed politicians, in short.

If there weren't copyright protection, Bach would have been a burger flipper, is the story put forth.

Boldrin takes a milder view, unnecessarily in my opinion.

Excellent podcast. Everything you were taught about intellectual property is wrong.

rhhardin said...

I'm creative and don't give a thought to copyright.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Capitalism fails with copyrights. Economic books spend chapters justifying competitive capitalism by showing how it leads to pareto efficiency, i.e., production of items only when their marginal cost (what it costs someone to produce another) is less than their price. And then they say a few sentences to the effect that in monopoly situations as with copyrights and patents, pareto efficiency is not possible.

Government funding or socialism are necessary for efficient production and pricing of items whose development costs greatly exceed their marginal costs. Government can and should fund production of items with high developmental costs. The problem, of course, is that giving the legislature such power gives it great incentive to steer their funding corruptly according to how they have been bribed or according to who they have alliances with. A better solution would be for all Americans to have (say by internet) a direct vote on how appropriations shall be divided. Appropriation amounts could be determined by averaging. There would have to be a few safeguards against people submitting lists voting that all the appropriations go to themselves. And some industries are such that there be such efficiency of scale that it is better that just a few enterprises be funded. But anyway, with care a much better system could be devised than our present one. A good start would be to allow citizenry to vote directly on how the National Endowment for the arts, etc., subsidizes stuff like art and particular PBS TV shows. That could maybe be extended to a national vote on which music and computer software deserves subsidy. That American Idol is very popular shows that this could be something the American people could enjoy and appreciate. By averaging and not making things winner take all, a great many artists could be subsidized, so such an approach need not excessively reward conformist opinion.

The framers of the constitution envisioned one representative for every thirty thousand of population. That is what Madison argues for in No. 55 of the Federalist papers. The amendment the first of the bill of rights, apparently the only part of the original bill of rights which never eventually passed would have guaranteed one representative for every 50-60 thousand. If we had one representative for every 30,000 of people, we would have about 10,000 representatives instead of 435, and it would be much more difficult for groups to corrupt that many people. Even this change would be a huge improvement that would much more safely allow government funding in lieu of the outmoded copyright and patent system, etc. Increasingly, value is intellectual value, which capitalism fails at. We could end up being at a large competetive disadvantage against countries who ignore copyrights and patents, merely because our citizens unlike theirs won't have free access to everything; and it is hard and expensive to try to force other countries to respect what we consider intellectual property if they don't want to.
Though Madison argues for one representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants, still, one can't help thinking that electronic communication and the internet were available back then, he'd want a more direct approach to appropriation. It just wasn't possible then.

rhhardin said...

There's no chance that jingle will get stolen.

mark said...

Jason: "I'm simply pointing out that the 'free culture' people are fucking stupid."

That is a really really stupid comment. Really.

Can you name one thing that did not use free knowledge in its creation? Just one.

I come from Mathematics where the only "protection" for creative work is attribution. That's it. Math is 'free culture' for the world and attribution is enforced by NO law. Just social stigma. (Can you think of why this is?)

Dante said...

Chip S. sez:

"What is it that you think is backing the dollar?"

Faith that people will give you stuff if you give them dollars, and faith that today's dollar isn't going to be worth much less, say, in 4 weeks from now.

Chip S. said...

@Dante--Faith.

Exactly.

acm said...

A patent is different from a recording, and I think there ought to be something in copyright law to reflect that (there may be; I don't know copyright law that well). If I constantly copy and distribute a particular piece of music (let's say something awful like "Daughters") I'm not just taking John Mayer's idea of a song but from his actual voice and the actual materials (instruments, recording devices) that he bought and paid for. People who make generic drugs or lightbulbs are using only the idea. A cover of Daughters would be akin to making a lightbulb based on Edison's prototype, but copying and distributing the actual recording that Mayer used his own voice and instruments to produce is different.

And, yeah, I do thnk 70 years is excessive, 30 or 50 would be better.

jr565 said...

Chip S. wrote:
If it's the commenter, then could people posting comments that repeat something that's already been said upthread be sued?

And what constitutes fair use of a tweet?

Hey Chip, did you get a copyright for said tweets? If not then how is it related to copyrighted works and their dissemination on the internet?

Chip S. said...

I'm with Pogo in thinking that "life of the author" is plenty of protection. Or else some fixed amount of time within which the rights can be transferred to an estate.

Nathan Alexander said...

related:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/the-end-of-tv-and-the-death-of-the-cable-bundle/259753/

Chip S. said...

jr, all my tweets and comments are copyrighted.

In fact, since this entire discussion is based on my comment @ 8:25 AM, you're all infringing on my copyright.

I've got a paypal account for your convenience.

mark said...

@Jason

You do not understand the importance of knowledge to society.

First though: Intellectual Property (music, words, etc.) is not a rivalrous material.

If you sell a can of meat, you have the can and I do not. When I give you money, I have the can and you do not. Stealing is pretty obvious here. I take the can. You don't have it to sell any more.

Intellectual Property is non-rivalrous. You have a song. I give you money and you give me a copy. Now we both have the song. But, I can't ever take (or exclude) the song from your possession.

If I sing your song to a room of people. You still have the song. If I write the song down by hand. You still have the song. The song is knowledge. It is not a rivalrous material.

But, as a society we grant an exclusive monopoly to the sharing of original work. A monopoly that we enforce (with guns and everything) as an exclusive right to make copies to the creator. We create these monopolies to encourage the creation of new ideas.

Yet, monopolies are very bad for society.

You also need to understand that public knowledge is very good for society.

Would Disney exist without public domain stories (Steam Boat Willy, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc.)? Would any scientific breakthrough exist without Mathematics being free to all?

No.

How do we balance these against each other? New stuff (very good), encourage creation (good), monopoly (very bad), free/public knowledge (very good).

Again: read "The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind"
by James Boyle. It is a good book on this balancing act.

jr565 said...

Nathan Alexander wrote:

If I splash paint on a canvas, and I think it is worth eleventy quadrillion dollars, is it worth the price I put on it? Is it theft if I don't get that amount?

Is it theft if I whistle the melody of the latest Madonna song?
These are really dumb arguments. The price of the painting is what you set. If you don't get the amount you want for the painting, then YES it is theft, since being your painting, you get to set the price, and people can choose to pay it or not pay it. Since it is your work, you control how it is distributed. You won't get that amount obviously, since no one would pay that for a painting, but the fact is that would mean that noone else has the work either. You've priced yourself out of a sale due to overcharging. That is your right as a businessman.
What gives another person a right to disseminate your work without paying the quadrillion dollars?
If I decide your painting is worth ten dollars I should be able to sell your painting and pocket the cash?

What are we talking about here, distribution of wealth? THat's socialism/communism.

As for whether you whistle a tune. Noone has ever suggested you should be penalized for it simply if you are walking down the street. However, lets take a case of where you use said work in another work. Like say Alex humming "Singing in The Rain" while raping and beating up the writer in A Clockwork Orange. Should Stanley Kubrick have had to pony up royalty rights for said use in his own work? Why yes. ANd he paid a lot of money for it.
Rappers pay money if they sample artists work. Because they are using it in their own work and profiting from said use. That's different than you whistling a song while you're walking down the street.

Chip S. said...

Because they are using it in their own work and profiting from said use. That's different than you whistling a song while you're walking down the street.

So file sharing is OK as long as it's free and for personal use only?

jr565 said...

Why should someone make a single performance, but be able to earn money in perpetuity from future performances that involve no effort on the artists part at all?

Couldn't that be considered theft? Getting money for no effort on your part, at worst, isn't "earning".

Because people might want to listen to that performance, and the price to listen is X? therefore if you want to listen you pay X? it's really not that hard.

You seem to think that you can determine whether something is open source. Apple comes out with a product and charges X, and you say, nah, it should be free. What gives you that right?
The value is what Apple charges and you as a customer determine if you want to pay that cost. You have no right to appropriate their work simply because you don't want to pay the price.

acm said...

Someone else mentioned upthread that copying is more like trespass than theft and I think that's about right. Of course both actions are still wrong, just different. If your brother buys a ticket to see a concert, and you steal that ticket, it's theft. If you sneak into the same concert, without paying, it's trespass. If you take your brother's ticket, Xerox it (yeah, I know that probably wouldn't work) and use the copy to get into the concert without paying, it's fraud. Whichever flavor of crime you chose, it's still a bad thing to do to the artist and the people who depend on the concert making money, but only one victimizes your brother as well as the artist.

Really, the people who say "but no one else is deprived" I don't get. It's like saying anyone should just hop onto the bus or even your own car as long as there are plenty of seats and they don't ask for special stops---you're going that way anyway!

jr565 said...

Nathan Alexander wrote:
If copyright is supposed to ensure that future art gets accomplished, what should our reaction be to George R. R. Martin, who after collecting the royalties from the first 4-5 books of an incomplete series, tells his fans, "I don't owe you anything."


He doesn't. He is entitled to said royalties because he put out a book that people wanted to read. He is not a slave to his fans. he puts out a product, and they either buy it or don't buy it.
wouldn't it be just as silly to have the author say "I put out this book, therefore as my fans you MUST buy it. You owe me". Fans don't owe authors anything. Unless they decide to use the product. Then they do. ANd what they owe is whatever the publisher is charging for it. IF George decided that he'd give away the last Game of Thrones book for free, then that is certainly his right, and I'd welcome the idea. But if instead he decides to go the old traditional route and get paid for his work. Why then, if you want to read his book, pay for it. Or get it from a legal channel like a library.
Why are artists somehow not entitled to the fruit of their labor?

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
I come from Mathematics where the only "protection" for creative work is attribution. That's it. Math is 'free culture' for the world and attribution is enforced by NO law. Just social stigma. (Can you think of why this is?)
When I took math I had to BUY a math textbook, and the teacher was paid in money.

jr565 said...

Largo wrote:
To those who contend that acts of copying are to be understood (in some cases) as acts of theft, my question is: what was stolen? Perhaps the notion of theft does not require that there be anything identifiable as "that which was stolen". But usually, when we speak of theft, there is such a thing, even of it is intangible (e.g. "time").
If you say that copying is theft, please identify what thing was stolen, and be prepared to answer critical questions about that "thing". Or else, explain why "theft" is the most appropriate word to describe the harm, even in the absense of an identifiable thing being stolen.

When I download something from iTunes, what was bought? What is that "thing"?

Chip S. said...

When I took math I had to BUY a math textbook...

How much do you suppose the author of that book paid in royalties for the right to reproduce the theorems in it?

jr565 said...

Pogo wrote?

Actually, this is how the Fed operates when it creates trillions of new dollars out of thin air.

Copies of dollars.


Is counterfeiting money legal?

jr565 said...

Largo wrote:
If I infringe copywrite, I may have harmed the holder of the copywrite. But suppose I made 100,000 copies of your song on my hard drive. (Disk space is cheap.) I question whether it is sensible to speak of my having stolen money from you. If I have, and I have not yet spent it, is there any way of my returning it to you? (Usually we speak of stolen items being returnable). If I destroy the copies, does this destroy what eas stolen? (Destroying copies is not destroying money.) How can a court quantify how much money I stole from you? Is this the money I am to repay you? Is this the proper form of redress? And are we not now talking about -damages- for a -tort-?
What is your stance on software who's license agreements state you can put the software on up to 5 computers? What if you're a company and buy one copy of Microsoft Office and put it on every computer in your company? (like say you have 200 computers). I would think you are violating the license agreements. Is that "theft", well yes actually. And if you were a company and Microsoft found out, you'd be dinged for it.

As far as you copying a song 100,000 times on your hard drive, thats not really the harm. Because it's still your hard drive. THe problem is when you then share that file with a million other people, or set up a company that facilitates sharing said files with a million other people, FOR PROFIT.

Nathan Alexander said...

jr565,
re: "the price to listen to X"
Why is that the price?

Who determines the price?

Even though you called my arguments dumb, you inadvertently argued against yourself in trying to counter my arguments.

The price is X because supply and demand results in a sale that only occurs someone is willing to purchase at a price that someone else is willing to sell.

Copying is only theft (or wrong) if there is an intrinsic value of the object being copied.

I'm arguing there is no intrinsic value.

I'm arguing that the distributors (and in some cases, the creators) are artificially manipulating supply/demand to enable more lucrative rent-seeking.

I object to that.

The bottom line is: technology has reduced copying/transmission costs to the point that the cost of reproducing audio works is close to zero (but not actually zero). That means a near-unlimited supply indexed with limited demand still puts the rational price very close to zero.

Right now, iTunes has shown that the rational price is about a dollar...but Amazon is selling some .mp3s for $.69 now, and some collected works for far less than $1/song.

Artists can curse the darkness by insisting that copying is theft, or they can light a candle by developing a new business model and/or figuring out how add value that decreases demand for merely copied work.

rcocean said...

The copyright holders in the Entertainment Industry are the biggest Greedheads in this country & are ripping consumers off for billions. They're parasites. The idea that in country that cheers breaking the immigration laws I should feel guilty for "stealing" a song written in 1930 is insane.

If you believe copyright is theft & you're not copyright holder - you are an idiot.

jr565 said...

the thing that file sharing should be free advocates refuse to address is that the only way file sharing works is as a business. If file sharing companies weren't profiting off the deal, then sharing files would actually be an expensive proposition. You'd have to host a file. You'd have to set up a website to link to a file. You'd have to provide storage space to all your customers to upload and download files. All that costs money. But file sharing profits from said content. If you link to a song, and have google adsense powering your page, you are getting paid for distributing a song illegally. If you are megaupload, you are getting paid for providing storage space and advertising and using the content as your hook.
Since these fall into the purview of business, why should file sharing companies somehow be exempt from the laws that govern companies?
For example, if iTunes or Amazon wanted to be able to sell The Beatles digital files they have to "go into business" with whoever controls the Beatles music. They can't simply sell product without authorization, and certainly without paying the artist/distributor an agreed upon price.
WHy would file sharing companies somehow be able to profit as a business without going into business with content providers before distributing their work?
And I include in that anyone involved in file sharing from the megauploads to the people linking to illegal content and getting paid by google.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
Intellectual Property is non-rivalrous. You have a song. I give you money and you give me a copy. Now we both have the song. But, I can't ever take (or exclude) the song from your possession.

If I steal your identity, do you not still have your identity? If I host your credit card information so that others can see it, do you not still have your credit card?
If I post the records of everyones account at Citibank, do they not still have bank accounts?

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
So file sharing is OK as long as it's free and for personal use only? If you're sharing a file, it's not for personal use only is it.
And since when has file sharing been free. There are multibillion dollar business profiting from FREE file sharing.

T J Sawyer said...

Copyright violations suffer from the same problem as abortion.

The law allows me to copy a song from the radio onto my cassette player or to copy a page of a book for my personal use.

Somewhere between that "early-term" copy and the "full-term" copying of a digital work, it becomes necessary to make the practice illegal.

Good luck resolving that.

chickelit said...

Chip S. said...
Well then, chickelit, please explain what it means.

I think I grasped what Pogo was saying immediately. I won't infringe his pixel-space to explain it though, unless he refutes it.

jr565 said...

How much do you suppose the author of that book paid in royalties for the right to reproduce the theorems in it? That's irrelevant and immaterial and a non sequitir. Math theorems are not copyrighted, any more than the letters of the alphabet are copyrighted, any more than musical notes are copyrighted. A book written about math though is copyrightable. And you are buying the book as a product. A song made up of notes, CAN be copyrighted.

Skyler said...

The argument for intellectual property and copying being theft is he same one that should have been used to defend the stolen valor act.

jr565 said...

Nathan Alexander wrote:
The price is X because supply and demand results in a sale that only occurs someone is willing to purchase at a price that someone else is willing to sell.
Well yes. that is how economics work.
is only theft (or wrong) if there is an intrinsic value of the object being copied.

I'm arguing there is no intrinsic value.
THere is intrinsic value. The value set by those distributing the work.

I'm arguing that the distributors (and in some cases, the creators) are artificially manipulating supply/demand to enable more lucrative rent-seeking.

I object to that.
then don't buy said products. That is the recourse you have. I worked at a coffee bar in the city back in college and they were charing an exorbitant amount for a can of soda. When, across the street you could buy the same soda for almost 50 cents less. And I even asked one of the managers how they expected to make money if they are charging such a high price for such a common item.
Ultimately, they went out of business. They charged too much for a can of coke, and customers didn't see the value of buying coke from them. Ok, but does that mean that therefore you should set the price and say coke should be free and simply take coca cola? No. The price is the price, and you either pay it or don't pay it.
You could just as easily argue that those charging the lower price for coke are similarly charging too much. It should only be ten cents a bottle.Why do you feel you should be entitled to said product if you don't want to pay the price for it?

Jason said...

"Swissssssshhhh...."

That's the sound of the point sailing over Mark's head.

Mark parroted the "non-rivalrous goods" argument, which is utter bullshit. First of all, the real good that intellectual property laws defend is a revenue stream... and revenue streams from a particular item or idea are definitely not "non-rivalrous goods."

Second, the "non-rivalrous good" stupidity as parroted by Mark is itself rooted in the "copying as theft" straw man.

It utterly fails to address copying as trespass.

Third, the IP traditions adopted by mathematicians (the vast majority of whom are salaried employees working for hire for someone else) have zero bearing on what IP rules we should settle on for publishing and entertainment. The situations are not at all analogous.

A mathematitician teaching at Podunk State college still has his job. You publish his original theorem and he still has a livelihood. You trespass on his creation and maybe he even benefits from additional name recognition if you properly attribute his work. He can perhaps parlay that to a higher salary.

You pirate my song, you are trespassing my rights, and stealing my livelihood.

Chip S. said...

jr, since you missed my point entirely, I'll try to restate it more clearly:

Why are theorems not granted copyright protection, while books that reproduce them are?

How much copyright protection should a textbook be given? As much as an original work? If so, why? If not, how much originality is required for extra protection?

Several people have linked to very useful sources on the question of copyright, by people who wrestle with these questions. You might want to read them.

jr565 said...

rcocean wrote:
The copyright holders in the Entertainment Industry are the biggest Greedheads in this country & are ripping consumers off for billions. They're parasites. The idea that in country that cheers breaking the immigration laws I should feel guilty for "stealing" a song written in 1930 is insane.
How about a song written last week? How about books and movies and software? Is it the year 1930 that is bothering you? Is there a cutoff point where it would be bothersome? Say, 1940,1950,1960,1970,1980,1990,2000 or 2010?

jr565 said...

prairie wind wrote:
If law enforcement wants to stop pirates from making pre-release video games/movies available, that's one thing. Going after middle schoolers for downloading something from the internet...that's something completely different. Should be, anyway.
Why?

Jason said...

The argument that copyright holders are "greedheads" is also idiotic.

Want to know who the REAL "greedheads" are? In every case, they're the people demanding something for nothing.

Jason said...

Nathan Alexander argues that there is no "intrinsic value" to copywrited works.

I'm throwing the BS flag on that one, too. Works of art clearly have intrinsic value... and it is quite easily defined:

Intrinsic value is the discounted net present value of future cash flows reasonably expected from that work of art. Same as it is for everything else.

jr565 said...

The only reason anyone could make money from recording music was technology enabled it. Now technology has enabled people to reduce the value of a recording.
Technology allows one to steal identities, counterfeit money and products, spy on people, get their personal info. THat doesn't make any of it right, nor suddenly legal. What a stupid argument.

Chip S. said...

Jason said...
Mark parroted the "non-rivalrous goods" argument, which is utter bullshit.

If we weren't talking about non-rivalrous goods, there wouldn't be anything to argue about.

As a writer or performer, you have the right to sell your music or other creative work. Fine, no argument.

Now--precisely because your product is non-rivalrous--you find that you aren't getting much revenue b/c of copying. So you go to the government for help. How much help should the government provide to you, and why?

What part of your reasoning in this case clearly suggests a difference b/w a pop song and a mathematical theorem?

Jason said...

Clearly answered above:

The revenue stream.

mark said...

r565 said...
'How much do you suppose the author of that book paid in royalties for the right to reproduce the theorems in it?'
That's irrelevant and immaterial and a non sequitir. Math theorems are not copyrighted, any more than the letters of the alphabet are copyrighted, any more than musical notes are copyrighted.



Irrelevant?

You don't know what you are talking about yet.

A math professor comes up with the Inverse Partial Differential Equation theorems needed to create MRI's, CAT scans, and the like. Which was hundreds of pages and years of their life (I know because I work with one of them). The mathematical knowledge they created is public domain.

How fair is it that years of work and an ability that occurs within a few of billions of people is public domain? When Mr. Brain-Damaged-Drug-Addict-Who-Is-Dead's song is protected?

Know why this is?

Because mathematics too important to the entire society to lock it up with a monopoly. If you grant such monopolies it would crush the future of the society.

It is same with human languages.

You didn't pay for your text and teacher for the mathematics. That is all free. All the accumulation of the latest research to the thousands of years of knowledge. All free to you.

You paid for the explanations. Which is how we choose to reward the above professor. For their explanation of hard to understand mathematics for stupid people like me. That and honor. Which sometimes has a financial component as well.

Also, stop confusing money with knowledge. They are not the same thing. If you take my money (via credit card or bank accounts) I don't have it any more. Understand?

And having access to those account numbers is not a crime. Every place and person you have purchased from has a copy of that information. Every computer admin of those places has access to that information. Should they get in trouble for that? Or do you shrug your shoulders and say "well, as long as they don't use that information it is fine."

Chip S. said...

Jason said...
Clearly answered above:

The revenue stream.


Now this ↑ is a fine example of missing the point.

The present value of the revenue stream is a direct consequence of the amount of government protection provided.

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
The bottom line is: technology has reduced copying/transmission costs to the point that the cost of reproducing audio works is close to zero (but not actually zero). That means a near-unlimited supply indexed with limited demand still puts the rational price very close to zero.

Right now, iTunes has shown that the rational price is about a dollar...but Amazon is selling some .mp3s for $.69 now, and some collected works for far less than $1/song.

Artists can curse the darkness by insisting that copying is theft, or they can light a candle by developing a new business model and/or figuring out how add value that decreases demand for merely copied work.

You've acknowledged that in fact digital files have a value. Say a buck, or .69cents. IF that is the cost to buy the song as a digital file, then how is megaupload able to essentially sell it for free and compete with iTunes over distribution of said work?
I'll note that iTunes went into business with all the content creators and worked out an arrangement whereby as people download said products the content creators are paid money. If such an arrangement weren't made, do you think iTunes should still be able to sell said work.
Now take any file sharing company. Have they made arrangements with said artists or content providers to distribute the work? Yet they are profiting from said distribution.
Clearly, even file sharers see an intrinsic value in the files being shared. If it wasn't worth something there would be no reason to use a file sharers product.

jr565 said...

Likewise, linking to a file. that's a busines, that's not free. If I'm hosting a link to an illegal file on a website, I'm profiting through advertising on what I'm linking to.
If I were a legitimate company and I used that same song to sell my product (like say Good Day Sunshine to sell cookies), I'd have to cough up the costs to license the song.
If that's allowable, then why would any company be forced to pay to use any content from any other company, or be barred from said use?
File sharing is like China manipulating it's currency. It's illegal business practices that only undermines legitimate markets.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:

"You don't know what you are talking about yet.

A math professor comes up with the Inverse Partial Differential Equation theorems needed to create MRI's, CAT scans, and the like. Which was hundreds of pages and years of their life (I know because I work with one of them). The mathematical knowledge they created is public domain.
An A Minor chord is in the public domain. No one can say that they can copyright a chord. What an artist does with that Aminor chord becomes his intellectual property if a song is produced from said work.

How fair is it that years of work and an ability that occurs within a few of billions of people is public domain? When Mr. Brain-Damaged-Drug-Addict-Who-Is-Dead's song is protected?
If you wrote a book on mathematics, and that book was being sold, you are entitled to have your work protected, and to profit from said work. Likewise, if you produce an MRI machine (even if said Ideas are based fundamentally on mathematics) no one is entitled to use your MRI machine without your say so and/or approval.

Chip S. said...

jr565, I think you should change your id to "jr360", b/c your arguments are completely circular.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
You didn't pay for your text and teacher for the mathematics. That is all free. All the accumulation of the latest research to the thousands of years of knowledge. All free to you.

You paid for the explanations. Which is how we choose to reward the above professor. For their explanation of hard to understand mathematics for stupid people like me. That and honor. Which sometimes has a financial component as well.

A song is an explanation of music and an expression of music. And a product with music as it's source. And yes, I paid for a book containing information. That book was produced and that production involved money. And because a producer paid that money to produce said work they are entitled to recoup the costs of said book if you decide to use it to teach math. Because they are charging for said book. THerefore, since they are the producers, and they set the price for their unique explanation of the subject, you shouldn't have access to it, unless you are paying the price for its use. And that price is set by the producer and not you.

Also, stop confusing money with knowledge. They are not the same thing. If you take my money (via

Icredit card or bank accounts) I don't have it any more. Understand?
How about knowledge of your money? I don't take your money, I just host the knowledge of your bank account, and let others do what they will. I'd just be spreading the knowledge around, knowledge that is made up of 1's and zero's like all other digital content,just digital files in essence.

And having access to those account numbers is not a crime. Every place and person you have purchased from has a copy of that information. Every computer admin of those places has access to that information. Should they get in trouble for that? Or do you shrug your shoulders and say "well, as long as they don't use that information it is fine."
If I open an account with a bank, I am going into business with said bank. THey will have access to my records simply because that is a requirement with doing business with them. There is also an expectation that my data will be used a certain way. namely, that only I and those I am in business with will have access to my banking information. Even though technology allows it, and even though said files are digital, I can't think of any legal reason, why anyone other than those I am in business should be able to to see that info.I didn't go into business with a hacker, therefore, if they get access to my records absent me providing them access,they've committed a crime.

jr565 said...

jr565, I think you should change your id to "jr360", b/c your arguments are completely circular.


PLease provide an example.

Nathan Alexander said...

jr565,
No, I haven't admitted that music files have intrinsic value.

They have no intrinsic value. Zero. If they had intrinsic value, the price wouldn't have to be set by the producers or marketers.

They have a current market value, but it is dropping.

supply/demand sets market value.

supply is limited by the costs to produce.

Technology has expanded the potential supply of any man-made product that can be stored/reproduced digitally to near-infinity (it still takes some time to copy, reproduce, and disseminate).

The business model has changed.

Your arguments are equivalent to demonstration on behalf of buggy whip manufacturers right before automobile purchases reached a tipping point.

Chip S. said...

PLease provide an example.

Just about every example you've given fits that description, b/c they're all premised on the existing copyright system.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
The present value of the revenue stream is a direct consequence of the amount of government protection provided. and what the market will bear. And what customers will pay.
I'm wondering what protection you think govt should provide companies for their own work. IS apple allowed to be the only company that can make an iPhone for example? Can any company make Adidas or a Big Mac? Can I start a company and call it Facebook, and compete with Facebook using their name?

Jim S. said...

There is absolutely such a thing as intellectual property rights. I just don't think it's going to survive the Internet.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
Just about every example you've given fits that description, b/c they're all premised on the existing copyright system.
Your libertarianism is far more socialistic than Obamas's spreading of the wealth.

Bruce Hayden said...

A patent is different from a recording, and I think there ought to be something in copyright law to reflect that (there may be; I don't know copyright law that well). If I constantly copy and distribute a particular piece of music (let's say something awful like "Daughters") I'm not just taking John Mayer's idea of a song but from his actual voice and the actual materials (instruments, recording devices) that he bought and paid for. People who make generic drugs or lightbulbs are using only the idea. A cover of Daughters would be akin to making a lightbulb based on Edison's prototype, but copying and distributing the actual recording that Mayer used his own voice and instruments to produce is different.

Not sure what your question is. There are significant differences between patents and copyrights. For one thing, the only thing, really, that copyright prevents, is some level of copying (all of the individual rights under 17 USC 106 are essentially variations on copying). Independent creation is a perfect defense. Independent creation, even after the AIA, is not a defense in patent infringement.

jr565 said...

Natahn wrote:
No, I haven't admitted that music files have intrinsic value.

They have no intrinsic value. Zero. If they had intrinsic value, the price wouldn't have to be set by the producers or marketers.

They have a current market value, but it is dropping.

supply/demand sets market value.

supply is limited by the costs to produce.

Technology has expanded the potential supply of any man-made product that can be stored/reproduced digitally to near-infinity (it still takes some time to copy, reproduce, and disseminate).

The business model has changed.

Your arguments are equivalent to demonstration on behalf of buggy whip manufacturers right before automobile purchases reached a tipping point.


How is anything you're describing a MARKET? You're using words like supply and demand and business models while removing any profit models for those producing content.
The only people who will profit from content is not the content producers, but those who simply appropriate their work and make the value of said work zero.
You're not actualy describing a market but instead are describing socialistic distribution.
And just because technology can do something, doesn't mean that its moral, legal or ethical that it be done.
What you are essentially arguing for is content that will be produced and distributed for free. Since content production is not free (have you ever looked at the credits in a move before - everyone listed had to GET PAID) you are looking at a model whereby content producers and providers are essentially going to spend millions of dollars to produce work for nothing. And why would people do that? So you are essentially calling for the limiting of content to stuff like videos of your cat on you tube.
Talk about biting the hands that feeds.
STOP USING MARKET TERMS WHEN YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT DESTROYING MARKETS. STOP TALKING ABOUT BETTER BUSINESS MODELS WHEN THE BUSINESS MODEL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT IS FREE DISTRIBUTION OF OTHER COMPPANIES CONTENT WHERE THEY DO NOT PROFIT FROM THEIR OWN CONTENT.

Bruce Hayden said...

The thing about mathematical equations is that they are akin to laws of nature. E=MCC was not a result of original expression, but rather described a fact of nature in mathematical form. The underlying reality likely expired 15 billion or so years ago, at, or shortly after, the Big Bang. It just took until the 20th Century, AD, for man to understand the physical phenomenon.

Patents, BTW, have a similar constraint - you can't patent a law of nature, but can often patent a new and non-obvious application of the law.

Copyright though goes a bit further - not protecting facts, per se, but rather, just the expression of the facts. When you have facts mixed with expression, you need to do "filtration" to exclude the facts, before comparing expression to determine infringement.

Jason said...

The present value of the revenue stream is a direct consequence of the amount of government protection provided.

That damned rule of law is a pesky thing when you're a trespasser, thief, squatter or other parasite, isn't it?

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
They have no intrinsic value. Zero. If they had intrinsic value, the price wouldn't have to be set by the producers or marketers.
That makes NO sense whatsoever. The price is set by the producer/marketer with any and all products. And you as a customer determine whether that price makes sense or not.
But if you don't think the price makes sense, why do you still think you are entitled to use said product?
All you are saying is, YOU don't think music is worth paying for, therefore it's ok to steal it.

jr565 said...

Nathan, if you think that digital files essentially are worth nothing, and you as a content provider are in the business of producing content to make money, what is the value of putting your product in the digital world and the web if in doing so you are going to make your product valueless and only make file sharing companies rich?
I

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
Your arguments are equivalent to demonstration on behalf of buggy whip manufacturers right before automobile purchases reached a tipping point.
Automobile PURCHASES? Not the word PURCHASE. but for that word, there would be no automobile industry. Take that word away and there is no reason to PRODUCE cars. Certainly no reason to produce NEW cars.

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
supply/demand sets market value.

supply is limited by the costs to produce.

Technology has expanded the potential supply of any man-made product that can be stored/reproduced digitally to near-infinity


You are only talking about production becoming more efficient. Technology may allow for easier production of content, but that doesn't mean that therefore everything must be freely distributed nor does it really impact demand. If you want Windows 8 and its distributed digitally versus in box, the demand will still be the demand.

Why does making production more efficient allow customers or other companies to turn a for profit venture into an open source software/video/music project?

Nathan Alexander said...

jr565,
technology gives, and technology takes away.

Why does cheap processing and powerful DAW software allow people to reduce the income of expensive music studios?

Why do home computers allow people to reduce the income of accountants and tax preparers?

Shouldn't there be a law that only professionals can do anything, by law?!?!? Think of the employment opportunities if people aren't allowed to press buttons in elevators!

I can't fathom why anyone would provide support to rent-seekers.

For most of history (recorded and unrecorded) you had to actually perform to earn any money. Technology created a new way to get rich when audio recording and production appeared. That method of making money lasted nearly a century, but technology has now made obsolete the ability to get residual income from a single recorded performance.

It isn't good or bad, it just is.

A new business model will emerge.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
So file sharing is OK as long as it's free and for personal use only?


If you're sharing something, it's not exactly for personal use only. Everyone you're sharing with has use of it too.
File sharing would then be ok if the producer of said file said it was ok. If you share the file outside of how the producer of said file intended, then it's not ok. If you are adhering to the license agreement, then ok.

In the case of software its' pretty simple. They tell you what fair use is. If you can only install software on three machines, then you can only install on three machines.If a software company is selling a product, and the only way you can get that product is to buy said product through either the company producing it and/or one of its affiliates, then right there there is no case whereby file sharing should be allowable, since it obviously violates the terms of use. Yes, you bought it and now own it, but you still have to abide by the terms of service.
You have no right to set up shop and put the software company out of business by in effect giving their product away to a million people who would otherwise have to buy the product through the channels set up to distribute said software?

Even worse than that would be a company who's business model is to distribute the work of other companies work, for free, and force a company to compete with it's own product all the while profiting from said theft.

I'm assuming that companies are supposed to adhere to the same laws while on the internet, or are the rules on intellectual property or any other rules simply optional?

Jason said...

The rent-seekers in this equation are the parasites and nihilists seeking to overturn generations of intellectual property law to get something for nothing.

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
For most of history (recorded and unrecorded) you had to actually perform to earn any money. Technology created a new way to get rich when audio recording and production appeared. That method of making money lasted nearly a century, but technology has now made obsolete the ability to get residual income from a single recorded performance.
Because you feel you are entitled to it, being the thief that you are.

It isn't good or bad, it just is.

A new business model will emerge.
WHat business model? You just argued that you can't get residual income from a single recorded performance (and I take it to mean you also mean movies, tv shows and any other digital content). If there is no revenue, what business model are you referring to?

jr565 said...

Nathan is simply a thief and a squatter, no more no less. and therefore will come up with endless rationalizations to excuse his thievery. To each according to his own I guess.

jr565 said...

Nathan wrote:
Why does cheap processing and powerful DAW software allow people to reduce the income of expensive music studios?

Why do home computers allow people to reduce the income of accountants and tax preparers?

Shouldn't there be a law that only professionals can do anything, by law?!?!? Think of the employment opportunities if people aren't allowed to press buttons in elevators!

I can't fathom why anyone would provide support to rent-seekers.

What does any of this have to do with anything written. Has to be one of the biggest straw man diversions ever. Technology can make things redundant. YOu don't need someone to push the buttons on an elevator if you can make it so that you can run an elevator without requiring a person to run it. Fair enough. That has nothing to do with issue at hand.
The elevator company produced an elevator, and went into business with the building to provide elevator service. That doesn't give anyone else the right to use your service, or the name of your service or your elevators to provide elevator service to another building without clearing it with you first. Beucase its YOUR elevator. Just as the building needs to go into contract with you to use your service, so to would any other company or individual.
YOu don't get to appropriate other peoples content/services without getting their approval to do so. especially when we have in place rules that determine what fair use is.

Jason said...

"Rationalization" is a good word. It reminds me of the rationalizations and contortions that pederasts go through to justify their victimization of children.

I don't regard the offenses as equivalent. But the moral and logical contortions they have to go through to justify their sociopathologies are.

jr565 said...

and companies like Apple and Amazon understand this. ANd are paying companies for use of said content, which is following the law.
IF that is the case, then clearly technology advancements have little to do with the question of what is allowable. Since Apple and Amazon are aware of the exact same technology advancements and yet provide money to those companies who's content they are distributing.

Since when does technology advancements mean you get to skirt or violate the law?
IF you think that digital music is worth money, then don't buy digital music. But that doesn't give you the right to distribute the same music simply because you can any more than the law allows Apple to sell The Beatles on iTunes unless the clear it with the Beatles first. ANd if they couldn't get clearance, then it would be even worse and more of a blatant violation of law if they instead said "ok,well if we can't sell the beatles, we'll just let you download the Beatles for free". I'm sure The Beatles estates lawyers might have some issue with said business practices.

rcocean said...

These copyright threads always get spammed by greed-heads who work for the entertainment industry or are Copyright holders. They LOVE making money for doing nothing and want to rip us all off for as much as possible - all the while screeching "thief" at anyone who doesn't give them $$$ for something they've already made millions of $$ on.

Copyrights aren't the "Free-market" they are government granted monopolies to help rent-seekers. That's why Jefferson & Madison wanted them restricted and were reluctant even to grant them. But notice how "Libertarians" always seem to be in FAVOR of these government monopolies, think about that and you'll realize "Libertarians" have a hidden agenda.

jr565 said...

Current technology allows one to make copies of money. Does the technology excuse the counterfeiting?

jr565 said...

rcocean wrote:
These copyright threads always get spammed by greed-heads who work for the entertainment industry or are Copyright holders. They LOVE making money for doing nothing and want to rip us all off for as much as possible - all the while screeching "thief" at anyone who doesn't give them $$$ for something they've already made millions of $$ on. Whose the greedy one here. if you are using a product, and the product costs money, then pay the money for said use of said product. McDonal'ds has already made millions on making hamburgers, that doesn't mean, IF YOU WANT A BIGMAC, that Mcdonalds should start cooking for you for free or simply give away Big Macs going forward.
They didn't do nothing. THey produced a product which you are using, and has some value to you because you downloaded it. And has a value that can be determined by going to any website that sells the product legally.
You simply don't have to buy what you don't need. But why do you think you are entitled to it? Are YOU entitled to the fruits of your labor? Maybe you've made enough in life so that now anything you do should simply be distributed to others. You greedy bastard.

Jason said...

Again, the real greedheads are always, ALWAYS the parasites looking for something for nothing.

jr565 said...

nd if were going to talk about founding fathers and copyright you should read this:

http://www.copyhype.com/2011/10/who-cares-what-jefferson-thought-about-copyright/

William said...

In the 20th century, technology was on the side of performing artists. Their salaries kept increasing. Bing Crosby wasn't any more talented than Al Jolson, but he made a lot more money. Paul McCartney is a billionaire. I don't think Gershwin ever dreamed of that kind of money.....I don't know what's a fair rate of recompense for musical talent, but if it were a lot lower, musicians would still compose and perform. There's no (natural) law that says that each generation of artists should become successively richer. You can argue the rights and wrongs of this, but the implacable fact is that technology is no longer the friend of the recording artist.

jr565 said...

William wrote:
In the 20th century, technology was on the side of performing artists. Their salaries kept increasing. Bing Crosby wasn't any more talented than Al Jolson, but he made a lot more money. Paul McCartney is a billionaire. I don't think Gershwin ever dreamed of that kind of money.....I don't know what's a fair rate of recompense for musical talent, but if it were a lot lower, musicians would still compose and perform. There's no (natural) law that says that each generation of artists should become successively richer. You can argue the rights and wrongs of this, but the implacable fact is that technology is no longer the friend of the recording artist.

That's crap. ITunes is based on current technology, and ITUnes pays the Beatles when someone downloads a Beatles song. It's not technology that is at issue, it's your morality. You simply think you are entitled to peoples work for free. Sorry if Paul Mccartney is a billionaire, it just so happens that a lot of people like the Beatles. Usually, if you sell a product and it's immensely popular, it sells a lot. So ,he deserves the money he gets IF you buy his stuff. ANd you don't have to do so, and he then won't make more money.
But technology is in place to honor copyright and intellectual property, and most legal companies on the web actually have a model in place whereby you "BUY" things and then "PAY" for them.

Again, it's not technology that is at issue, it's just there are a lot of thieves and squatters out there who simply feel they are entitled to the work of others. Are you one of those people? Am I entitled to the fruit of YOUR labor?

jr565 said...

William wrote:
I don't know what's a fair rate of recompense for musical talent, but if it were a lot lower, musicians would still compose and perform.


What is fair payment for your work? If it were a lot lower, you'd still probably work. Why not have some outsider who has no say about what you've worked out with your company about how you are to be paid say "Sorry William, You're just earning too much. Technology is no longer your friend so we're just going to appropriate your work since we think the product should be free". Should that override any contracts you may have made with your employer?

jr565 said...

Widmerol wrote:
See this for a good explanation:

Why Napster is right


Napster got sued by the labels and went out of business, then came back as a paid model. They are no longer simply hosting peoples work without paying them for it. So, how was Napster RIGHT? it certainly wasn't RIGHT under the law? THis looks like a VERY old article who's link should be changed to
HOW NAPSTER WAS WRONG. Since of course the arguments posed don't even apply to Napster as it now stands.

jr565 said...

But just to show how STUPID that article is I'll just post one paragraph:
Why indeed should I not sell on the Internet the music I have purchased, in direct competition with the "producer" (if you can call the RIAA a producer of anything except misleading hot air)? This is where the second part of the RIAA argument comes in: you should not have the right to resell the music because, by breaking the monopoly, you eliminate the incentive to produce further good music. What is at issue, then, is not "theft", but rather the legal protection of a monopoly. Naturally, if the monopolist has to compete with his own past customers then his ability to extract money from his new customers is reduced.


We are talking about songs written by artists, put out by companies, and movies put out by studios WHICH ARE UNIQUE entities. If you are the sole producer of said content, why is it posited as a monopoly situation. A monopoly would be when one studio so dominates that no other record studio can put out a record, or no other studio can make movies. But having sole rights to put out a product is not a monopoly. THat would be like arguing that the makers of Cheerios have a monopoly on Cheerios. It's not a monopoly. THEY OWN CHEERIOS. No one else can make or profit from cheerios, without getting a clearance from General Mills. Only Apple can make iphones. Only Microsoft can Make windows. Only Adobe can make Photoshop.

Why indeed should I not sell on the Internet the music I have purchased, in direct competition with the "producer" (if you can call the RIAA a producer of anything except misleading hot air)
Well file sharing is not SELLING music its distributing it. But even here, you are not in business with a company to distribute their work so should not be able to sell their work absent that agreement. IT's different if you are buying a CD, because you are not competing with the record company over sales of CD's. You've boughten your copy you are just selling your one copy. THat's all you own of that company. One copy.
But suppose I started an ebook comapny, and you buy one copy of each ebook I make. Then you open up a company and call it the same as my company and sell an unlimited quantity of my own products for less than I'm selling them for? How do you have a right to do that? If my company decided to allow Amazon to distribute our work we'd have to go into contract with them, come to an agreement and then they would distribute the work under the terms set. Counterfeiting is not legal, and the article is somehow suggesting that it should be.

One consequence of this is that it would be much more difficult for him to "price discriminate," charging a higher price to those customers who place a particularly high value on his product. Naturally, not having to compete with one's customers has a great deal of value, and it is not terribly surprising that the "producers" of music wish to protect it. YOu don't compete with your customers. You compete with your competitors. Since when does buying a product mean I can suddenly produce that same product. Say I buy an iphone, or say I buy Microsoft Windows. I am now the lawful distributor of Iphones and Windows and I can make them and sell them without buying them from Apple or Microsoft. I call bullshit. No company should have to compete with it's customers over it's ONW product. That is one of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard. THe author is arguing as if somehow customers are producers and competitors. If they decide to put out a competing product of their own design, THEN they are competitors, but a company or an artist doesn't not have to compete with himself over his own intellectual property. And if you think technology advances somehow makes it so then you are beyond full of crap.