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Richard Stallman on Copyright and Globalization

By hulver in MLP
Fri May 18, 2001 at 04:06:55 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

In a speech at the MIT media lab on 19th April 2001 (A Transcript of the talk can be found online) Richard Stallman talked about Copyrights in the Internet age. He talks about the threat of Large corporations and how they want to control everything you read and listen to. By eroding your rights now, before digital media is the norm, they can control the distribution of works in the future.
The speech gives a good background into the history of Copyright in the US and how it is no longer doing what it was meant to do.

He does make some very interesting points.
  • Some ancient works are only known about because portions of them were used in other works such as commentaries.
  • Current copyright laws only protect the publishing companies, not the people who produced the work in the first place.
  • In an interesting turnabout from people calling his ideas "Communist" he compares the attempts to tighten copyright laws with the controls put in place in USSR during the communist regime.


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Related Links
o A Transcript of the talk
o Also by hulver

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Richard Stallman on Copyright and Globalization | 12 comments (7 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Voluntary payments (4.20 / 5) (#2)
by greycat on Thu May 17, 2001 at 08:29:37 AM EST

Another interesting point that Stallman brought up was the notion of voluntary payments. Sites like Fairtunes have tried this, and met with less than stellar results. Still, I cannot think of any better long-term solution to the problem of keeping artists from starving in a world where copyright either does not exist, or cannot be enforced.

In fact, everything Stallman mentions regarding voluntary payments is already in place (Fairtunes has a WinAmp plugin), except for three pieces:

  1. universal availability of the plugin (it doesn't come with WinAmp by default, so only the users who already know about it will use it; also, not all media players have a plugin);
  2. mindshare (users have to be made aware of the issues; most people haven't even heard of Fairtunes); and
  3. secure and convenient anonymous micropayments.

The third one is obviously the killer; the others can be done with a bit of tedious work, but #3 has so far eluded us.

Yes, I thought that (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by hulver on Thu May 17, 2001 at 08:52:14 AM EST

It's not just that Micropayments are Difficult to implement because of
  1. Security
  2. Anonimity

  3. There is also

  4. Apathy

It would have to be very easy, and very painless for it to be used at all. If you have to click more than once to do it you are going to reduce the number of people who will do it. Every click greater than 1 is going to half the number of people who do it. (IMHO)
It would have to be based on the number of times that you've listened to it. You don't want this window popping up halfway through the first time you listen to something. You might want to popping up say the third or forth time. Maybe when you choose to file it in your personnal collection.
I don't know, there are some big hurdles to overcome.

[ Parent ]
OT: Just wondering... (none / 0) (#11)
by elenchos on Thu May 17, 2001 at 07:57:30 PM EST

Why do you capitalize words in the middle of sentences like that, even though they are not proper nouns?

(Perhaps I will have to conduct a full scale survey on this, stay tuned.)

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

I've got no idea. (none / 0) (#12)
by hulver on Fri May 18, 2001 at 07:09:07 AM EST

I wasn't even aware I was doing it.
Many of my coding styles tend to impose themselves on my writing, as I use Capitals in VariableNames, I think it comes from there. Looks odd in normal writing though.
You should see my handwriting since I started using a Handspring. :)

[ Parent ]
Credit cards (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by evvk on Thu May 17, 2001 at 08:53:31 AM EST

I don't have a damn credits card. That's the problem with all foreign (I live in Europe) services involving money: you need a fscking credit card. And I wouldn't trust them my credit card number even if I had one.

We need a more global system for payments to companies operating in the internet. One solution would be a "net payment account" (in my own bank, to make it easy), where I could deposit a small amount of money (enough to pay for my orders and all) that people can then bill. Keeping the deposit small, I don't loose too much if a dishonest party tries to bill too much.

Another solution to net shopping, not paying to musicions, would be to just send a bill with the order, if it was possible to pay foreign bills in my bank.

[ Parent ]
sorry: credit card's all we use (none / 0) (#9)
by bittur on Thu May 17, 2001 at 11:20:52 AM EST

<shameless pitch, hopefully with some insight>Some friends of mine and I built BarChord.com with the intent of giving artists the flexibility they need to set prices, assuming they really wanted to (there's still lots of free shit, as artists are in control of what's posted to the site).

We had a lot of trouble trying to figure out the best way to charge users and reimburse artists, so we eventually built our own internal billing system that does something similar to what is being requested / described here.

Our best solution to this point (which is still functional for those who aren't worried about making credit card transactions on the net), is to charge an account $20 and then deduct the price for each download you make. Downloads, prices, etc are tracked with a billing account summary. Free songs aren't tracked, unless you're logged in.</shameless pitch>

Anyways, it's a first step. Your suggestion about the online / deposit account is intriguing and we'd be more than happy to help develop such a system if you expand on some technical specs ;)

[ Parent ]
they're both right about communism (4.50 / 4) (#10)
by rebelcool on Thu May 17, 2001 at 05:32:33 PM EST

in modern communism regimes, virtually every good was produced by One Very Big company. No competition in the market.

The RIAA is much like this and a classic example of oligopoly, if not an undeclared cartel. Napster for example, represented distribution competition. Their argument that it was bad for the artists was rather flimsy, since while not *great* for the artist, neither is any recording company for that matter.

The pushing for copyright legislation is simply fostering this big, while not governmental, one-stop place for entertainment. The big conglomerate of companies. I recall the RIAA pushing for only *approved* songs could be distributed on napster, which struck me as silly because the RIAA doesnt represent every artist there is...

On the other hand, many of RMS's ideas about free software and what not are in the spirit of utopian theoretical communism of which nobody has seen put in place yet (though it would still probably not work, due to human nature and other, non-utopian problems).

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Richard Stallman on Copyright and Globalization | 12 comments (7 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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