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[P]
Escalation of the Freedom-Copyright Struggle

By the Epopt in Op-Ed
Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:27:51 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

It's all fun and games until someone gets killed.

Last month, someone with less-than-exquisite social skills boasted in the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written that she/he/it had inserted several novels into Freenet. This taunting touched off a flamewar among the authors. Some saw the value of Freenet and decided that a certain number of copyright violations was a reasonable price to pay for an uncensorable forum. Other expressed understandable concerns. One or two were very upset.

And then there was S.M. Stirling.

Stirling has escalated the debate between copyright and freedom of the press to explicit threats of violence; Lars "Metallica" Ulrich at his most venomous did not call for Shawn "Napster" Fanning to be gang-raped and murdered.


For those of you just now tuning in, Freenet is a peer-to-peer network designed to allow the distribution of information over the Internet in an efficient manner, without fear of censorship. When S.M. Stirling, a fairly prolific sci-fi/fantasy/alternate history author, heard about Freenet, his reaction was ... well, strong. He has posted dozens of messages to Usenet on the subject under the handle JoatSimeon, excerpts from which include:

I want these scumbags dead. And that ain't no metaphor. I'll settle for in jail, undergoing daily torment. And anyone who helps them, too. All members. All users. All nodes.

It's obvious that draconian laws are necessary here. Track down anyone involved with this piracy; and punish. Punish hard. 10 years of getting gang-raped in prison would seem appropriate -- for anyone involved. I propose a law requiring a transparent tag showing origin and history on any file on any server, and that the file be immediately accessible on request. The authorities should develop and send out a "sniffer" intelligent agent program to detect files not meeting these criteria. Immediately shut down any server/node that doesn't reply properly. With really... severe... penalties for anyone owning hardware harboring pirate files. Sufficient to make them take elaborate precautions not to do so.

Oh, and on a personal note, anyone who wants to read more SF books should send nasty messages to [Ian Clarke, the creator of Freenet]. We should also think about a lawsuit for a suitable multiple millions against him, and attaching any assets he has -- his house and car, for example.

(If you want to verify these comments in their native environment, try Deja.)

As far as I know, Stirling is the first to physically threaten the programmers for writing the code. All action up till now has been in civil court, against the businesses using the code, for monetary damages only.

Stirling claims that he talked to the FBI, who told him that they have the ability to penetrate Freenet's anonymity. I suspect that either they were (a) blowing happy smoke Stirling's way, or (b) they were thinking of Carnivore catching the evil copyright violator's insertion at the ISP, before it actually enters the Freenet.

What do you think? Are we about to see the copyright wars reach a new level of intensity? Should console cowboys everywhere be on the lookout for zaibatsu enforcers in mirrorshades? Or are these just the over-the-top rantings of a fascist-manqué? Remember that while the literary world represents only a few million bucks, in the case of music and video, literally trillions of dollars of revenue are at stake.

And at the same time, what are the chances that the FBI has any sort of technology that can reliably tie an anonymously-posted file to a meatspace person?

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Poll
S.M. Sterling is...
o A dangerous loon who should be under a restraining order. 13%
o Absolutely right! Death to pirates! 3%
o Exaggerating for effect -- it's the Usenet way! 20%
o A drakensis in disguise who should be nuked from orbit. 4%
o A good writer, but just another guy with an opinion. 3%
o A second-rate sci-fi hack. 8%
o No one I've ever heard of. 44%
o Inoshiro. 3%

Votes: 129
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o rec.arts.s f.written
o Freenet
o JoatSimeon
o Deja
o Also by the Epopt


Display: Sort:
Escalation of the Freedom-Copyright Struggle | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Violence is bad. (3.25 / 12) (#1)
by Trracer on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 03:43:42 AM EST

Well, all I can say is that if those threats where made under Swedish law (as in Sweden), this person could be arrested and put away for some time. Threatening with violence is as an act by an immature person.
His suggestion for a law like that would probably not hold up worldwide.

-- Inoshiro är en räksmugglare!
Excuse My Language... (2.42 / 28) (#4)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 05:01:26 AM EST

I am extremely pissed this situation [not for the reasons you think] and I hope kuro5hin doesn't become another flooded with even piracy lovin', rhetoric spouting, peurile and inane pro-piracy crap like has been known other sites.

What do you think? Are we about to see the copyright wars reach a new level of intensity? Should console cowboys everywhere be on the lookout for zaibatsu enforcers in mirrorshades? Or are these just the over-the-top rantings of a fascist-manqué? Remember that while the literary world represents only a few million bucks, in the case of music and video, literally trillions of dollars of revenue are at stake.

Where the fuck does this attitude come from? Do you expect a book author to lay down and take it up the ass while you still the fruits of his labor?

The pro-piracy arguments for infringing copyright on music and software at least seemed reasonable from certain perspectives, but the justification for stealing books from authors escapes me. So far eBook support by publishers is being held back primarily because of you gung ho, console cowboys with their three dollar rhetoric and penchant for making their lust for free shit into some sort of human right and essential freedom granted by God.

At least software companies can sell support [although no company that has made a big Open Source push,is making money from that push] and musicians can perform concerts[yeah, gruelling travel and selling out to corporate sponsors, wonderful], but what the fuck are book authors supposed to do? Charge for book signings? Charge to read the book live? Charge to alter the ending just for you? Whaaaaaaaaaaat?

Frankly, I hope all those w4r3z d00ds get caught and I wish S.M. Sterling luck.

PS: Just because something is easy to steal does not suddenly justify becoming a theif.

PPS: Flame me, I don't care. I was got so pissed reading this article, I had to stop coding and drink a beer, I feel a lot better now that I've expressed my thoughts.





Get a clue... (4.16 / 12) (#6)
by B'Trey on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 06:15:23 AM EST

There is a difference in supporting (either actively or passively) piracy and advocating the murder and/or imprisonment of someone for writing code.

I don't know how old you are, but I remember when the VCR was invented. Hollywood pitched a hissy fit. "What do you mean that you're going to give consumers a tool that will allow them to copy movies in their own home for little or no money? Are you crazy? This will be the death of the movie industry! Who's going to pay millions of dollars to make a movie when everyone can just rip it off and watch it in their living room!" In the first place, it didn't happen. Just the opposite, in fact. Sales of movies on video tape are now a major revenue source for Hollywood. At the time, I suppose you'd have been right in line with Sterling, pitching for the inventors of the VCR to be thrown in prison and gang raped.

If you want to live in a country where the government tags every file that is transferred over the 'net with a complete history of who posted it and where it was transferred, you might consider moving to China. As for myself, the day that any such thing happens is the day that I get my gun and head for the hills.

Opposing and/or fighting piracy and copyright violation is fine. But threatening the coder of a network protocol because someone, somewhere will use it for piracy is despicable. Anyone who is incapable of seeing that distinction is a sad excuse for a human being.

[ Parent ]

Not very realistic ... (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 10:23:22 AM EST

I don't know how old you are, but I remember when the VCR was invented. Hollywood pitched a hissy fit. "What do you mean that you're going to give consumers a tool that will allow them to copy movies in their own home for little or no money? Are you crazy? This will be the death of the movie industry! Who's going to pay millions of dollars to make a movie when everyone can just rip it off and watch it in their living room!" In the first place, it didn't happen. Just the opposite, in fact.

I have lived in or visited a number of countries where whosesale piracy of movies was rampant, where national TV stations broadcast pirated movies continuously, with implicit approval of the local authorities.

And? None of these countries has anything remotely approaching a viable local film industry. There is no impetus to even develop one, when the latest Hollywood offering can be ripped off and broadcast for half a buck. Some that had budding film industries in the '70s lost them with the advent of cheap video in the 80s. "It didn't happen" are the words of someone who lives in a country with strong copyright protection laws, because "it" sure happened in a lot of places.

[ Parent ]

Cause and effect... (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by B'Trey on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 05:01:54 PM EST

And you think that the only reason that these countries don't have a viable local film industry is because these countries don't have intellectual property laws? I suspect it is far from this simplistic.

There's also a huge difference between tools which allow someone to copy a movie in their home and allowing people to sell copyrighted movies without fear of reprisal.

The Hollywood moguls screamed that the VCR would destroy Hollywood. Last time I checked, Hollywood was still going strong. I'll say again - "It didn't happen."

[ Parent ]

Right motive, wrong methods (4.60 / 10) (#8)
by Precious Roy on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 06:51:40 AM EST

I don't think the objection here is to any author, Sterling included, defending his/her copyrights. As has been established before, failing to defend copyrights either erodes their power or effectively abolishes them altogether.

I think the objection here is to the methods Sterling is using. While most other authors would file a suit against the business and (possibly) the person who originally posted said content, this particular author has chosen to threaten the physical well-being of those involved.

As has been pointed out here already, such conduct is flatly illegal in some countries, and IMO borders on assault in the U.S. (although I am hardly a legal expert.)

If Sterling had said "If I find anybody who's doing this kind of stuff with my writing, I'll sue them for everything they've got," nobody would have bothered posting it. But by threatening to do illegal things to people who are themselves doing illegal things, he puts himself in their company.

[ Parent ]

hey Precious, what about those foot-long hamsters? (1.00 / 4) (#17)
by wildmage on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:37:14 AM EST

Damn, I miss Sifl and Olly.

-------------
Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

[ Parent ]

Who? (2.25 / 4) (#7)
by ZanThrax on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 06:34:14 AM EST

Well, I'd say excuse my ignorance, but the poll seems to indicate I'm not alone here. S.M. Who? Can someone please site a few titles and maybe some general info here? The only Sterling I can think of off-hand is Bruce, and I'm assuming this is a different person...

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.

Stirling not Sterling (2.75 / 4) (#9)
by titus-g on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 07:12:37 AM EST

I'd never heard of him either, but it seems he does exists

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=Stirling%2C%20S.%20M./107-4736725-7954118

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

Stirling (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by Rand Race on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 08:39:49 AM EST

He writes, IMHO, second rate millitary science fiction (Draka series) and fantasy (5th millenium series). I lump him in with Jerry Pournelle and David Drake (both of whom he often co-writes with) as writers who occasionaly amuse but whose writing skills aren't quite up to the level of their ideas. The 5th Millenium series (The Cage; Shadow's Son; Snowbrother; and Saber and Shadow) is a great example of this; great worldbuilding, good characters, neat intersection of magic and technology, and I can't finish a one of them because they just go nowhere. I can't really reccomend any of his works except maybe the two Falkenberg's Legion books (Go Tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta) he co-wrote with Jerry Pournelle, not as good as the earlier Pournelle only books in the series though... and they weren't that great.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Who is this guy? (1.80 / 5) (#10)
by reas0n on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 08:11:33 AM EST

...anyone who wants to read more SF books should send nasty messages to ...

Is is he threatening to not write anymore books until Ian Clarke is arrested? So...what has he written already?


It's S. M. Stirling (3.41 / 12) (#11)
by canitesc on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 08:30:09 AM EST

Actually it appears that the correct spelling of his name is S. M. Stirling. Searching Amazon.com for his name turns up about 50 titles, the most popular being Drakas (a short story anthology which he edited), Against the tide of years, and Island in the sea of times.

On the other hand, I would think if it can be proved that he made these comments, Mr. Stirling could be in some serious legal trouble. Last I checked, making death threats was a federal offense and Ian Clarke or some of his collaborators could probably press charges.

Since I am sure his royalties will go down to nothing after one or two of his books have been instered on the Freenet (a claim which may be hard to verify), I say we all take up a collection to buy Mr. Stirling a tube of anal desensitizer to ease the pains of his jail time.



And so it begins (3.83 / 12) (#13)
by pw201 on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 08:43:47 AM EST

This SF author is a troll.

The latest thing he's proposing is flooding the system with plausible junk. This won't work: what will happen is that people will compile and crypto sign lists of good Freenet keys (good in the sense that they contain content which hasn't been poisoned). People who've pointed you or someone you trust to good content in the past will then be able to do so in the future as long as they continue to use the same signature key. Also, to get Freenet to distribute the bad content beyond his local node and push good content off other nodes, he'd need to make more requests for it from other nodes than other folks were making for good content. He might be able to do this: perhaps the list compilers can also do a similar "attack" but request good content from a variety of nodes.

But I think we're going to see more of this. Sooner or later big business and governments are going to move on systems like Freenet. Geeks like to think that the Internet is immune to this but it is not: any government could pull the plug or pass laws to ban systems like Freenet. (You'll observe that in the US and the UK there are already laws to put the sort of surveillance infrastructure in place which could enforce such bans). The question is whether the advantages to those in power of the Internet in its current form outweigh the disadvantages, and whether the government can convince the voters that they know best on this. I suspect that with the current hysteria over paedophiles in the UK, it'd be very easy for the UK govt to justify banning such systems by playing the think of the children card.

The most offensive part of the message... (4.33 / 9) (#14)
by Luke Scharf on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 08:50:24 AM EST

I propose a law requiring a transparent tag showing origin and history on any file on any server, and that the file be immediately accessible on request. The authorities should develop and send out a "sniffer" intelligent agent program to detect files not meeting these criteria. Immediately shut down any server/node that doesn't reply properly.

Mr. Stirling is entitled to his opinion -- just so long as he doesn't carry out any threats of physical violence or illegal harassment, he has a right to say whatever he pleases. If this post turns out to be genuine, I probably won't buy his books, but that's my right.

The offensive part is suggesting that I have to modify my filesystem and that search-and-seizure rules be changed on my equipment. I would be pretty trivial to strip off any sort of tag or "resource fork" from a file, but being forced to do so is a violation of my right to use the hardware I purchased as I see fit. That's like making it illegal to have closets in my house, on pain of imprisonment and seizure of the property. Anyone who suggests that my basic rights should be taken away gets the finger!



sounds like a joke (3.72 / 11) (#15)
by fantastic-cat on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:12:44 AM EST

It's quite hard to take seriously anyone who advocates 10 years of getting gang-raped in prison as a reasonable punishment for anything.

t.

hmmm S.M. Sterling (1.83 / 6) (#16)
by unstable on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:19:27 AM EST

Haven't read any of his books. I guess I never will. Being upset about this is one thing, but threats? He has lost all sales from me and I will spread the word to my freinds too, not to read anything writen by him.





Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

Chill out. He didn't threaten anything (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by squigly on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 03:29:51 PM EST

These quotes are taken out of context. He wasn't threatening. He was exagerating. He feels strongly and felt that since the reasonable ground has already been covered, he should simply rant to make the strength of his feelings known.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
The Great E-Book War (4.33 / 12) (#18)
by Eloquence on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:41:26 AM EST

The war is on. This is somewhat ironic, since treebooks are much harder to digitize than movies or music. But "piracy" polarizes; there are authors like Stirling and people like myself, a self-proclaimed infoanarchist. Some "moderates" are in between, of course, but I'm not interested in being moderate, only in being right.

Stirling is not alone in his reactionary opinion. It has surprised me to learn that several other authors, as it seems especially in the sci-field, take a very hard stance against "piracy". Among those are Harlan Ellison (who has filed lawsuits not only against individuals scanning & distributing short stories, but also against AOL & usenet ISPs for making them available) and Mike Resnick. But there are also lots of authors who either have no problem with their books being distributed for free or who actively use the Internet as a secondary or primary publishing channel.

It amazes me that those authors who attempt, as the genre name suggests, to predict the future on a scientific basis fail to realize the inevitable abolishment of copyright. Given the fact that these questions -- see Napster & DeCSS -- are decided now, this is a remarkable display of ignorance on their part. Is it that they are blinded to the truth as soon as they see their own profits in danger, or is a sci-fi author who writes about dyson spheres and jupiter brains really no better than a fantasy author who portrays battles of heros against dragons?

Anyway, as I said above, "piracy" isn't a danger at all to book profits, in fact it can only help to promote books, given the error-proneness and rarity of digital books. This is not going to change until the publishers move full throttle into the "encrypted" ebook age, and they know that. I encourage you to read Eric Flint's analysis of the e-book "piracy problem". Flint is an author who, among others, has released some of his works for free, in the knowledge that it will help him sell more paper books.

What happens in the future? I guess I don't have to mention Stephen King, I guess, whose "The Plant" experiment has been successful so far. This works for smaller authors as well, with voluntary contributions either before or after publishing the actual book. The copyright-lovers argue on the basis that humans are "evil by nature", which is a proposition that I will not accept. I have supported shareware where I had cracks readily available or where they were not necessary. Still, I am probably among the group of people that Mr. Stirling would like to see gang-raped. Now tell me, who displays a lack of morals here?

I am an opponent of prohibitions against non-commercial copying, which I see as nothing more than censorship on an economic basis. I am an advocate of Freenet, a friend of Napster, a member of the Blocks team (another anonymous sharing tool) and the guy behind infoAnarchy. If people like Stirling will try to take away existing rights, or will try to influence the future in a way that I perceive as harmful, I will do my best to fight them, and I encourage every freedom-loving individual to do the same. If you share my view, you shouldn't buy books by the authors I mentioned.

Oh, and BTW, as a journalist I don't mind if people copy my articles, as long as they don't make a significant profit with them. In fact, all my published articles are available in full text on my homepage (German only) -- I encourage anyone to redistribute them --, and my first book will be as well. And C4L, if this is "piracy lovin', rhetoric spouting, peurile and inane pro-piracy crap" then I can't help you. I will restrain myself from judging your comment polemically; although it surely invites it. I think that debates on K5 should be more mature than that.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Two questions (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by pete on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 07:32:39 AM EST

It amazes me that those authors who attempt, as the genre name suggests, to predict the future on a scientific basis fail to realize the inevitable abolishment of copyright.
Why do you think the abolishment of copyright is inevitable? I personally don't see it happening; corporations have too much to lose at this point. How far into the future do you think it's going to be?

Oh, and BTW, as a journalist I don't mind if people copy my articles, as long as they don't make a significant profit with them.
(Emphasis is mine) But what if they do? This statement seems pretty hypocritical given your stance.


--pete


[ Parent ]
Two answers (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by Eloquence on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 09:46:11 AM EST

Why do you think the abolishment of copyright is inevitable? I personally don't see it happening; corporations have too much to lose at this point.

I believe it is going to be inevitable because it is part of technological progress. The only alternative to abolishing copyright in the long term is to halt technological progress. This has never been an option in history, and it will never be. Look, right now you get 80 GB drives for a few hundred bucks. You can put a hundred DivX movies on there, or fill em up with MP3s.

Multiply that by ten and you know where wel'll be in a few years. Add to this the inevitable growth of bandwidth maybe up to GBit cables for home users. Even if you prevent Freenet & Co. with China-like censorship, you will still have normal user-to-user exchange; by e-mail, ICQ, IRC .. you will still have distributed networks like Usenet. If you want to stop that, you basically have to stop users from communicating or have a controller for every single e-mail. Won't happen.

So regardless of whether Freenet works or not, or whether it will be battled or not, this is already decided. There is really no alternative.

How far into the future do you think it's going to be?

The next 10-20 years, with different kinds of copying being treated differently.

(Emphasis is mine) But what if they do? This statement seems pretty hypocritical given your stance.

I don't think so. Look, I have never questioned the fact that artists and writers need to make money. I'm not one of the sort who says: "So what if other people copy your stuff, then look for a job that pays!" I just think that creators have to adapt to the fact that non-commercial mass copying cannot be efficiently prosecuted, and should realize that in most cases, that wouldn't be necessary or useful either.

But if someone publishes an article of mine without asking me for permission, in a big magazine, and I hear it, I can sue him. While my article being published would be good for my popularity, the fact remains that the publisher would have made money with my work and not given me anything. In some cases I would tolerate that, in others I wouldn't, after all he could do it repeatedly and thereby deprive me of an income I could otherwise have.

That's why I'm not calling for the total abolishment of copyright right now. I just think that sooner or later it will be inevitable (at the point when I can no longer trace who publishes an article of mine). This will require people, including me, to re-think again, perhaps we will move away from a capitalist economy then. What I'm calling for is legalizing non-commercial copying.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

protection, more or less (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by Pink Daisy on Sat Nov 18, 2000 at 08:35:05 PM EST

I really disagree. I think that technological progress is really threatened by lack of IP protection.

That seems strange. Right now we are seeing bizarre and inappropriate patents being granted all over technology fields, particularly computers and genetics. On the flip side, we are seeing strange and unreasonable protections being placed on software and digital audio and video.

But the current system does work, even if it's broken. After a long time, patents and copyrights fall back to the public. Even if progress is slowed, it does continue. I won't go into popular culture; I am very dissatisfied with it, but obviously if everyone disliked it as much as I do it would change. Most people are satsified enough to participate in it, even if they complain.

You say that copyright will disappear. Although I am too confident in human greed to believe that this will work anywhere, I'll take your stance at face value for the moment. Fine, now artists and musicians and authors of books can get paid for performing, rather than for what they produce.

Will this work in another field with copyrights and IP? I realize you don't say patents anywhere, but my hunch is that as a device to protect creative works that come from a person's mind, they are morally very similar. So let's consider a recent example. A competitor to a large company that manufactures microprocessors designed and released a product that is in many respects superior to that of the large manufacturer. Would they have done so if they could have copied the original design verbatim? Probably not; they could have been competitive with mere copying, and not wasted effort designing something new to be competitive. But suppose they wanted an edge, they could still have designed their new chip. Would they have done so if Intel could have taken their new Athlon processor and manufactured and sold it? Of course not; they would be giving their competitor the advantage of having their new chip without having spent anything on research and development! The only reason to develop would be if you were a monopoly and could convince your customers to upgrade because your newest product was better. If there was competition, something new would be a relative advantage for your competitor.

For software, where copyright laws are more directly comparable to music, the situation is even worse. Even a monopoly wouldn't improve their product, because they would only sell a few copies before it would be passed around for free. The only development going on would be in open source, for the same motivations as current open source development. With a lack of alternatives development would probably go faster. Still, I don't see any good open source industrial automation control or car engine timing control software. Perhaps software developers, even the ones who write open source word processors, just don't have the itch to run a large factory from a few computers.

So I think revisions, particularly sane revisions, to copyright and other IP laws, make sense. Dismantling them would just be a disaster that would cripple progress until they were reinstated.

[ Parent ]

I can understand his anger. (4.50 / 10) (#19)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 01:58:14 PM EST

I can't excuse what he did with it, though.

Selling stories is incredibly hard. When a story is turned down, the professional thing to do is to not take it personaly. But it really is personal. Stories are personal things.

And then the royalties (at least on hardcover) are a noticable chunk of money, a buck or two, maybe more, per copy. So when you see a copy that you aren't getting paid for, well, that's frustrating. Particularly for a middle of the shelf author who probably isn't making all that much.

And then a bunch of people call you a dinosaur when all you want is to get paid for your work.

His comment

anyone who wants to read more SF books should send nasty messages
probably means that Freenet is making it impossible for people to make a living writing SF, not some weird threat not to write anymore. There is a standard argument presented for copyrights that without protection of intellectual property, artists and authors have to get day jobs and little art and writing happens. I agree in part - for art and literature to thrive, people have to be able to make a living at it.

But there is no excuse, particularly in the libertarian circles he hangs out with. Nobody owes him a living. An author is a business entity, and he has to find a way to get paid within the culture as it stands. Part of that is understanding the technology, and even a little familiarity with technology beyond typing up a Word document tells you the tag idea isn't going to fly without major changes to the way things work. He's demanding that lots and lots of people change the way they do their work just so he doesn't have to figure out how to adapt to a changing marketplace.

As for his threats, well, within the quote I read, he manages to dance around the edges. He's calling for harsh laws (with poorly administered prison facilities) and suggesting suits, and he's wishing (but not requesting) death. I don't think he's exactly calling for any illegal action on anybody's part, except the potential cellmate of the guilty party. He's weasling just enough to make it unlikely that he'll face any legal sanctions.

He's a shrill twit. He's protecting what's his, but doing a really bad job at it, and burning bridges in the process. I can't see myself hosting his work if I ever run a for-profit e-books site, lest he decide I didn't do a good enough job protecting his work. And unless I hear a story is very, very good, the bad taste of his name on the cover will probably spoil it for me.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Turn the Tables Around? (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by moshez on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 04:44:21 AM EST

I want rules that say that anyone who does *not* run a FreeNet node be executed. Failing that, that he be put
in jail for 10 years and more. Most probably, he'll be gang-raped in prison, but of course gang-raping is illegal, and I'm not calling for it -- just realisticly predicting.

I wonder how Stirling will like that. Hopefully, not at all. And then, maybe, he'll understand that he's wrong. FreeNet is written by the people and for the people. He want people to give up all their civil rights so he can make some money by rules that were appropriate 200 years ago. I suppose going to http://www.gnu.org and brushing up on copyright history is beyond him, but hopefully not beyond of the other people in r.a.sf.

For the record, I want to be able to copy and read any work of art, and on the other hand, I'm willing to contribute to authors. I've bought a copy+donation of every 2.x Debian release, and intend to continue doing so.
In a similar vein, I bought books after reading them in their entirety in the library or book store. I'm really happy to send money to people who deserve it, in my opinion: and every author which captivates me enough to read his work deserves it. We should think more about good micropayment systems then obsolete copyright pseudo-protections.


[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
I completely agree. (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by error 404 on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 11:14:05 AM EST

Stirling is completely out of line, and out of touch with the direction in which the economics of things that can be sent through networks is moving.

He's moraly wrong. Demanding that others give up civil rights and make radical changes in work processes and suffer extreme penalties in order to protect your business is evil.

He's practicaly wrong. He knowingly chose to participate in a business where the chances of financial success are slim. Demanding great sacrifices from others in order to enhance those chances is unrealistic and alienates people whose cooperation he needs. Success in any business requires ongoing creative exploitation of the situation as it is at any particular moment. This is not the moment for being tight with copyrights. The writers who make money in the next few years will be those who manage to spread their words far and fast. Those who find new ways to get the word out and the money in.

He needs to take responsibility for his own success.

That being said, I can sympathize with his anger and frustration. He has the legal and moral right to control what he creates. Distributing copies of his books without his permission is wrong. Not "kill everybody involved" or "ten years of being gang-raped" or "rework the entire infrastructure for my convenience" wrong, though.

..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
My Plan (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by eskimo on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:37:06 PM EST

Write stuff. Write different stuff online. Online stuff=free, paper stuff=free, but steal if you want. Sell rights to make movie. Fish and go to Formula One races and Las Vegas (order of activities changes seasonally).

If I don't sell the rights to make a movie, I might not be able to go to as many F1 races. Fishing and Vegas are non-negotiable.

I might even write a story in my diary, so there.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto

How do you know it's him? (3.00 / 3) (#26)
by Potsy on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 12:01:16 AM EST

Can you please provide a reference as to how exactly you know the handle is him?

k w jeter is just as rabid (4.00 / 6) (#27)
by beertopia on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 02:11:40 AM EST

Which I think is a shame, 'cos I'm quite fond of his books (which you can find out about on his official website. He's probably most famous as the guy who wrote the sequel to Bladerunner. (there was some legitimacy to his doing it, sacriligious as the idea is on the face of it- he was pals with Dick, who apparently liked his writing.) I like his earlier stuff better-Dr. Adder & Glass Hammer, Infernal Devices, etc.

On the other hand, I didn't like his newest book (Noir, 1998(!)) much at all, partly because its the way-too-vehement political stance. The premise of the book- quoted, without permission, from the website -"A world in which intellectual property is so valuable, that copyright infringement is punishable by death"

Sounds amusing, but it's not, so much. His character is a copyright enforcer/bounty hunter, and the whole middle section of the book is devoted to the violent comeuppance of a particular teenage pirate.It's not like I mind violence in a book, but it was just jarring, the sheer hatred he was pouring out.

spoiler warning:: I can't resist. I'm not going to give the whole plot away, but what happens to the kid? He gets his spinal cord+medulla ripped from his body & kept alive, so he can still be conscious enough to feel pain, & then he's turned into a living stereo cable & presented to the victimized author.

Well, it sounds funny now, but it feels way creepy, the way he dwells on it. Anyways, I don't understand where all this animosity is coming from with these guys. Truth be told, I generally read library books, or buy used ones, so I guess I'm not affecting their sales either way. But, I can't see how they're not going to alienate fans/potential fans, with these attitudes... if nothing else, it doesn't seem quite right for science fiction authors, who you'd figure wd be embracing the future, to be actively hostile towards technology that's more-or-less already here.

OTT but with a point (1.33 / 3) (#31)
by PenguinWrangler on Fri Nov 24, 2000 at 06:38:49 AM EST

Stirling may have been over the top in his ranting (come on, has nobody ranted like this about something they hate?), but he has a valid point, and I agree with him. There are far too many people out there on the internet who repeat their mantra "Information wants to be free" and think that everything should be handed to them on a plate.
Now, if a successful author such as, say, Stephen King, wants to publish work on the internet, then it's his prerogative to do so.

If Joe Bloggs decides to take the books of A.N.Other, scan them in and put them on the internet, it is NOT his prerogative to do so, he has no right, he is committing a crime! Joe Bloggs is depriving A.N.Other of the right to earn money from their work. This is legally and morally WRONG!

And look at it this way. If some scumsucker is going to take the fruits of my labours and make them illegally available to other scum without me seeing a penny for it, why the fuck should I bother spending a year or years of my life striving away at my art when some fucker is going to plaster it all over the internet as soon as I'm done? People don't write novels to give them away, they write novels to be published, and paid for.
This "We want it all, we want it on the net, and we want it for nothing" ethos sickens me to my heart. Download illegal MP3s from Napster, download books from Freenet, you're as much a THIEF as the person who shoplifts from the supermarket or mugs the pensioner for their purse. You are freeloading scum, and deserve anything you get, you bastards!

"Information wants to be paid"
Escalation of the Freedom-Copyright Struggle | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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