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[P]
Freedom and Morality

By seebs in Op-Ed
Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 01:27:56 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

So, I was browsing Slashdot (hey, what can I say, there's only so much traffic here that I want to read), and I came across this article, which basically says that Loki Games is closing.

Now, let's be blunt, here. They're closing because they lose money. With the number of people who read Slashdot and K5, who play video games, I'm guessing it's not a shortage of potential customers. And, with the number of people here who cheer whenever Napster scores any points in court, I'm wondering if maybe it's a shortage of people willing to pay.


The "open source" movement gets a lot of flames for trying to "co-opt" the idea of free software, in the FSF sense... but I wonder if maybe it's really that the FSF and other related entities are co-opting, perhaps unintentionally, a lot of people who want free as in free handouts; people who, vaguely aware that copying is cheap, can't bring themselves to pay good money for something they can get for free.

A lot of rationalization goes into this. After all, in the long run, it's not clear that the copyright model makes economic sense - and yet, without it, how do we propose to get music and video games? Paying for concerts strikes me as silly; I would never spend real money to go see a live show, but I'm quite happy to spend $10-20 for a CD. I want stuff I can keep.

I think it's telling that we have a community full of people who will send pages of sheer vitriol to any company that includes GPL'd code in a closed product, even if it's probably an accident, and yet, who find it ludicrous that anyone would expect them to pay for software or music.

The fact is, whether you like the music industry or not, if we as coders have the right to say "you can't use my program unless you use it according to the GPL", then the members of Metallica have the right to say "you can't copy this music unless you're paying for the right to do so".

I think we have created a monster; millions of people who, never having considered any of the underlying economics, can't see why copying music is any different from copying NetBSD distributions, and who react with contempt every time someone tries to point out the problem.

I have no solutions. I can't think of a viable business model for musicians that scales well to the digital age. And yet, I'd rather be able to buy CD's for $20 than have free music if and only if the band is able to make money touring. I'd rather spend $50 for a high-quality commercial video game than have no choices but freeware.

Thus, my course is clear; whatever the licensing terms are, I accept them, or I don't use the software, or copy the music, or whatever. There is no software or music that I cannot live without; there are ethical standards, however, that I am unwilling to live without.

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Poll
Do creators have a moral right to control of their works?
o Yes, unequivocally. 29%
o No, unequivocally. 16%
o Not an inherent one, but it's part of our social contract. 46%
o Yes for software, no for music. 0%
o Yes for music, no for software. 0%
o Yes for what I work on, no for what you work on. 7%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o this article
o Loki Games
o Napster
o FSF
o Also by seebs


Display: Sort:
Freedom and Morality | 90 comments (68 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
"how do we propose to get music and video gam (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by xriso on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 12:37:13 AM EST

Well, you can say that the existing system is founded on copyright law, and that it will collapse if that law is removed. There have been many things in the past which were lawful, and were great for the economy, but other matters took precedence (I invite you to look at chattel slavery in the US). Of course, copyright isn't slavery (at least not in ALL areas of life :-).

So, if the big music and gaming industries go away, what are we left with? Well, it may be entirely different than what you want to have. Instead of seeing how we can keep the good parts we have now, try to imagine what good things will arise from the abolition of copyright.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

Good things that'll arise from copyright abolition (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:05:43 AM EST

Instead of seeing how we can keep the good parts we have now, try to imagine what good things will arise from the abolition of copyright.

Like what? All I see arising from it is less people being motivated to enter any area that involves intellectual property until we have a whole markets dominated mostly by amateurs.

[ Parent ]
True enough (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by Danse on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:05:35 AM EST

Which is why I don't understand people that want to abolish copyright. It most definitely needs to be reformed in a big way, but it certainly shouldn't be abolished.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Entertainment industry (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by Znork on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:47:06 AM EST

If you take away the monetary incentive for artists to create music you get...

... what we have today. An artist today would have a greater chance to 'make it' if they went on welfare and played the lottery once a month. They dont even break even until they sell 500K CDs. Needless to say, a rather large percentage of artists do not sell 500K CDs. Further, the RIAA is in general lobbying to cut artists out of the loop entirely when it comes to royalties off digitally transmitted material like that downloaded off the RIAA sites.

Of course, if you claimed that music in general sucks today, and that it might be the result of the creative talent getting royally screwed, I'd be the first to agree. I'd even agree that it wouldnt get better by abolishing copyright, but I dont think it'd get worse either. And shutting down the corps that are largely responsible for the state of that industry would be a definite benefit.

[ Parent ]
Quick word about music and artists. (4.75 / 4) (#29)
by Ranieri on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:20:50 AM EST

An artist is someone who creates to express himself. I think this point can be stated fairly unambigously. The urge to create might be extremely severe, and in some cases it can lead to poverty or incarceration.
Yet, even these very substantial (some might even say, life-threatening) obstacles cannot prevent an artist from creating.

Now let's shift the focus of our little discussion to other so-called "artists": Metallica, Dr. Dre and all the other musicians that spearheaded the RIAA offensive against Napster.
Next time you see an interview with Lars Ulrich on MTV take a good look at him. Who do you see? Do you see a person ablaze with passion? A person that would defy poverty and law in order to express himself? Someone that just wants to create, no matter what? DO YOU SEE AN ARTIST?

No, you don't.
What you see is a skilled craftsman employed by the music industry to produce entertainment, not art. And this entertainment is governed (like other luxury goods) by market laws. An increase in piracy will probably diminish the benefits of creating this entertainment, and as a result less entertainment will be created. This is not different from the falling supply of airplanes or steel or chicken eggs that would result from a hypothetical decrease in benefit of providing them.

Intellectual property laws have long stopped protecting the rights of the individual that used his intellect to create an original work. They protect the industry that hires these intellects and reaps the benefits. Just look up "work for hire" in the copyright laws, and see how draconian some of the provisions actually are. I believe therefore that IP actually stands for "Industrial Property".

Although considering the cultural level of some productions (especially television shows) it might very well stand for "Intellectual Poverty".
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

I'd have to disagree... (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by seebs on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 10:51:15 AM EST

Sorry, but I happen to like Metallica, and yes, I think they're artists. They're artists who found a pretty decent day job that lets them continue working on their art.

Lots of musicians end up doing the CD's and tours thing, because it's the only way we currently have for them to get paid.

From my point of view, the world that has Metallica's albums in it is a better world than one where they went and worked regular jobs.


[ Parent ]
Sigh... (4.80 / 5) (#38)
by epepke on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:52:06 PM EST

Copyright law used to be fine. Record companies didn't go out of business; in fact, it was much easier to start a small record company than it is now. Big rock stars still got enough money to afford drugs and then liver transplants. Computer games got produced and bought. People made money off of writing books. It all worked.

However, things have changed over the past fifteen years. All of a sudden, copyright has become so anal retentive that I think record producers must leave a trail of diamonds. What I keep hearing from people is, well, gosh, we have to put up with all of this anal retentiveness because the only alternative is no copyright at all.

This is madness! It's like saying, "OK, the Inquisition may have gone a bit overboard, but you can't just abolish religion."

People, there is no need to abandon copyright law; just make it work the way it was constitutionally (in the U.S. or whatever-the-hellily it is in other countries) supposed to work. If you create something, then for a period of time, you get a certain amount of control over how it is copied and distributed. You just don't get to have one hit single and live for the rest of your life off of it. You don't get to hang on to the control of work long after everyone directly involved in creating it is dead. If you're an artist, and you can't come up with another piece of art after fifteen years or so, stop pretending and get a job.

I don't know what's up with the people who think that getting rid of copyright entirely is even an issue. Some of them may be thinking that the technology itself makes copyright irrelevant, but that's the kind of Wired trend-mongering that I take with an entire salt mine. Others may simply have small brains which more comfortably hold simple, black-and-white choices. Others I think may really be in favor of the corporatization of the entire planet under One Rule but generate false, sophistic dichotomies to hide this.

Copyright is a compromise. It is a limitation on free speech for the purpose of giving people an incentive to produce good stuff and to keep on producing good stuff. It is not some magic property right that emerged like zoobie rays from Ayn Rand's brain. If you want to have absolute rights in perpetuity over something you produce, that's called a trade secret, not copyright. Use it to your heart's content. But once you get somebody else involved, which you do for your own benefit, you have to play by the rules.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
2-1=1 (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by spacejack on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:20:36 PM EST

Instead of seeing how we can keep the good parts we have now, try to imagine what good things will arise from the abolition of copyright.

You would have exactly the same things that you do now, minus all the stuff that copyright laws help to produce.

[ Parent ]
2-1=1 ? (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by Gully Foyle on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 05:50:33 AM EST

"'Instead of seeing how we can keep the good parts we have now, try to imagine what good things will arise from the abolition of copyright.'"

"You would have exactly the same things that you do now, minus all the stuff that copyright laws help to produce."

Plus all the things that copyright has helped to abolish.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Like? (none / 0) (#87)
by spacejack on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 10:00:57 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Like ... (none / 0) (#88)
by Robert Hutchinson on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 10:21:43 PM EST

Fan edits of movies.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

Like... (none / 0) (#90)
by Gully Foyle on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 08:24:46 AM EST

Alice Randall's 'The Wind Done Gone'.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

My opinions (3.18 / 11) (#6)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 12:48:33 AM EST

I do believe creators have the right to profit from their works, however, if a creator wants me to pay for their work, I will do so only if I feel the creator deserves my hard earned money. I copy music, movies, and Microsoft software with no bad feelings, because neither Microsoft, nor RIAA, nor MPAA deserve to be paid anything. The more people I give free copies to, the fewer are going to give them money. I see it as similair to the passive resistance encouraged be Martin Luther King, JR. and Gahndi. I never copy data from respectable businesses such as Loki. Sadly, there are very, very few companies that I can respect and whose products I want.

P.S. I never use the terms "piracy" or "intellectual property", because they are marketing "spin" terms invented to stir up distrust of people like myself. The correct terms are "copyright infringement" or "copying", and "copyrighted work", respectively.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

Straight Shooter (3.83 / 6) (#7)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:02:40 AM EST

I copy music, movies, and Microsoft software with no bad feelings, because neither Microsoft, nor RIAA, nor MPAA deserve to be paid anything.

At least unlike the numerous freeloaders on Slashdot you at least don't try to cloak your theivery in an aura of nobility by calling it "civil disobedience".

"I don't pay because they don't deserve it" is quite an amusing catch phrase to excuse your theivery. Do you also steal from department stores because a lot of clothes and shoes are made in Asian sweatshops or do you only save your righteous indignation for products which can easily be downloaded of the Internet?

[ Parent ]
Yes, indeed. (3.00 / 8) (#10)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:25:32 AM EST

I must say yours is a very tired, cliched response, but refute it I shall.

I really don't understand why you would happily stand by while our sacred liberties turn to dust before our eyes. Because of people like you, our laws will soon be more draconian than China's.

I rarely use any of the software I copy, and I never make any profit from it. I do it to drive down the profits of companies I detest.

If the people working in Asian sweatshops don't find their situation bad enough to do something about it themselves, then I'm certainly not going to try to save their sorry carcasses for them.

By the way, it's not "theivery", it's intentional disobedience of an overenforced, unconstitutional law, which, among others, I find utterly repugnant.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

Oops, you're more over the top than a Slashbots (4.14 / 7) (#13)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:23:10 AM EST

I must say yours is a very tired, cliched response, but refute it I shall.

I suggest looking up the meaning of the word "refute" because you didn't refute any of my statements.

I really don't understand why you would happily stand by while our sacred liberties turn to dust before our eyes. Because of people like you, our laws will soon be more draconian than China's.

Oh, really I must have missed where the "right to defraud corporations" was determined to me an inalienable human right. Actually people like me provide people like you with the products that you enjoy not paying for and I'm terribly amused that you feel that your right to w4r3z is some sore of human right. I guess this really trivializes people like Ghandi and MLK died for all the wrong reasons when they should have been protesting the fact that people should not be paid for the goods and services they produce and instead we should live in a kleptocracy.

The fact of the matter is that we (assuming you are American, European or Australian) live in a capitalistic society. The core idea behind capitalism is entities getting paid for the goods and services they produce. If this idea is abhorent to you then produce FREE goods & services or only consume goods and services from people who produce free goods & services. Doing otherwise makes you out to be a hypocrite, a freeloader and a person of low conviction.

The only person I disrespect more than a thief is a thief who lies to others and himself. So continue fighting against "the system" and the system will continue fighting right back with Draconian laws.

At least Stallman and the FSF stand behind their convictions by creating and utilizing alternatives instead of simply stealing. It disgusts me that people like you and the rest of the Slashbots pervert the meaning of their philosophy to justify your inability to live within your means.

If the people working in Asian sweatshops don't find their situation bad enough to do something about it themselves, then I'm certainly not going to try to save their sorry carcasses for them.

I guessed you were some high school kid still flush from his first few years of gobbling the teh fruits of the labors of others and enjoying the fact that he has forum where he can actually claim moral justification for it. The quoted sentence just proves this.

Toodles.

[ Parent ]
It's right next to... (4.85 / 7) (#17)
by ti dave on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:04:56 AM EST

"Oh, really I must have missed where the "right to defraud corporations" was determined to me an inalienable human right."

It's right next to where they say that one of a corporation's human rights, is to defraud the people.

I can't remember the exact page number though...

Cheers,

ti dave


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
How did this happen? (4.20 / 5) (#23)
by Danse on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:59:10 AM EST

How is it that everyone has been brainwashed into believing that "intellectual property" is the same as physical property, and should therefore be accorded all the same protections? It's not even remotely the same. It's a completely artificial creation. The ability to grant copyrights was given to Congress with some limitations attached. Those have been ignored or perverted into what we live with today. I refuse to obey such laws just because a group of corporations was able to pay off enough people to get them passed. There was nobody representing the public interest. We were sold out. I don't plan to go to jail. I plan to continue to copy whatever I please, whenever I please, "Copyright Industry" be damned. Just because Congress sold us out doesn't mean we have to let it happen. I'll keep telling my side to anyone who will listen. I'll keep giving money to the EFF whenever I can. I'll keep looking for new ways to help make people understand what has happened. It's an uphill battle fighting against the continuing brainwashing of the world by the likes of the RIAA and MPAA and others. Hopefully one day we'll break through it all somehow. Hopefully something will happen to make people sit up and pay attention to what's going on. Maybe then they'll start asking the right questions and we'll start making real progress towards restoring the balance to copyright law that has been lost for a long time now.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Property laws are just as artificial (3.66 / 3) (#36)
by zakalwe on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:21:06 PM EST

How is it that everyone has been brainwashed into believing that "intellectual property" is the same as physical property, and should therefore be accorded all the same protections? It's not even remotely the same. It's a completely artificial creation.
What makes you think physical property rights are any less artificial than intellectual property rights? The only thing stopping me from walking into someones house and taking all their possessions, or deciding to live there for the next 10 years is that people have collectively decided that they don't want a society where this is allowed, and so have passed laws to define a concept of "ownership," including creating organisations to enforce it (police).

This is good for society, since it means people don't have to spend all their time guarding against people taking what they want to use, and so can get productive work done. Without them, what would be the point in creating useful items, if someone could just take them. "Intellectual Property" is exactly the same - the laws are there because society thinks they are a net advantage, because they create an incentive for people to create works which will others will want.

You may argue that the current laws are sub-optimal, and I'd even agree with you in some things. But you must admit that the system has produced works which you deem valuable (After all, if they were worthless, why would you want to take them) Fundamentally, if you disagree with the system, you should either create a system where works produced don't have copying limitations (GPL anyone?), or refuse to buy (or "steal") items when you disagree with their laws of use while campaigning for changes in the laws.

Whining that you steal because you disagree with IP laws is no more justifiable than shoplifting because you disagree with property laws. This is the society you live in - either try to change it, put up with it. Don't just ignore it and pretend that you're acting morally.

[ Parent ]

Pay more attention, wise guy (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:58:21 PM EST

This is the society you live in - either try to change it, put up with it.

Okay... now think back... what did I just tell you I was trying to do? I'm getting tired of playing kindergarten teacher with you.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

I told you what I think you're trying to do. (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by zakalwe on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:09:52 PM EST

what did I just tell you I was trying to do?
As I said just after where you stopped quoting - you're ignoring the current laws and pretending its some kind of moral stance.

I mean come on - If you seriously believe that copying to "drive down the profits" of companies you dislike is going to change society, you're right, but in the wrong direction. $BIG_COMPANY will just point out how often their products are being pirated and demand tougher laws. And because we do have laws which protect copyright, and most people do think this is benificial (Certainly those doing the actual creating do), there is a real danger people will go along with them - hence disastrous laws like the DMCA.

If you disagree with the laws - go after the laws - don't just feed the legal departments of companies who use them. Campaign and protest yes, but you don't help your cause by whining that you should have the right unless you can present a case that your system is better. You could start by maybe answering my question as to why you think IP laws are wrong but property laws are right(I'm assuming - maybe you don't? If not why?)

Calling the right to copy a "sacred liberty" doesn't cut it unless you can show why it shoud be more sacred than the right to freely take property, the right to go where you want, the right to hurt another person. These are all infringements of our freedom that are good for society - I think (some) IP laws are too.

For someone who objects so strongly when they think someone is evading a point (even when they're not), you do seem to have ignored the body of my post.

[ Parent ]

Finally, a straight answer! (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:17:51 PM EST

I do believe in both property laws and limited copyright. However, I believe copyright has gotten so far out of hand that we might be better off without it.

Also, democracy in the US is a farce. There are only two parties with any chance of being elected, and both of them are already bought and paid for. They will just smile and nod and continue to pass laws like DMCA. Campaigning only works on issues that Big Business doesn't care about.

The First Amendment protects our right to free speech. It makes no mention of whether the speech is original or not. Copyright was originally a comprimise - people gave up a tiny subsection of their right to free speech for limited times, and in exchange recieved faster production of artistic works. It has now devolved into a scam where the public is forced to give up their free speech whenever and wherever somebody else stands to profit from it. I would rather have slower production of artistic works and all my speech back than the current regime.

This would be comparable to agreeing with physical property laws as they are now, but NOT agreeing with a hypothetical system where only property developers and widget manufacturers have the right to own private property.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

hey dumbass. (3.66 / 3) (#59)
by rebelcool on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 07:36:20 PM EST

Stealing software and hard work from us poor bastards who make it won't change anything other than put my and my brethren's ass out of a job.

You want to change the laws? GET INVOLVED WITH POLITICS. Fight your battle on the battlefield - not the homes of the soldiers' familes.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Yeah, sure... (none / 0) (#74)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 10:54:40 PM EST

Fight your battle on the battlefield - not the homes of the soldiers' familes.

Yeah, sure. I'm going to go up against a legal team with a yearly budget of $3,000,000,000.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

you are a fool (4.00 / 4) (#78)
by rebelcool on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:37:07 PM EST

Do you know what becoming 'politically active' means? The real problem is the laws. And you hardly need a big budget to talk to a congressman. Are you even old enough to vote?

Quit trying to justify your thievery with pseudo-morals that have no common sense.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

No no no.. (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Danse on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 07:37:12 PM EST

What makes you think physical property rights are any less artificial than intellectual property rights?

I never said that "intellectual property rights" were artificial. I said that "intellectual property" is artificial. A book is a real thing. A story is just an idea. You and I can both have the exact same idea. Neither of us would have to do without it. I don't have to rob you to get that idea. Ever hear the old flame analogy? I light my candle from yours and we both have fire, I'm not taking anything from you. Now, we have acknowledged as a society that it is a good thing to give people an incentive to share their new ideas with the public, so we offer them a limited, temporary monopoly on their idea. The problem is that these corporations have gotten so greedy that they want an unlimited, eternal monopoly now. Then our government sells out the public interest, and violates the Constitution by granting even retroactive copyright extensions. Now there is absolutely no possible way that a retroactive copyright extension can encourage someone to create a work that has already been created. Thus, it violates the Constitution since it is not providing an incentive to create, but is simply stealing from the public to give to a private corporation.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Without laws there is no property (none / 0) (#84)
by zakalwe on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 10:59:56 AM EST

I never said that "intellectual property rights" were artificial. I said that "intellectual property" is artificial.
They're the same thing. Without property laws, a book is just an object. It isn't anyone's property because the concept of property is defined by the laws. Without IP laws, an idea is just an idea - the laws let me call it my idea, and grants me certain rights over it. The essential rights "ownership" grants differs between physical and intellectual property, but in both cases ownership is a purely social construct.

That said, I don't think our views are that far apart. IP laws are only good so far as they benefit society. I agree that the notion of retroactive extensions to copyright is a travesty, and I do think IP laws extend too far in both length and scope (esp. patent laws.)

[ Parent ]

i'll bite at that dangling shiny thing (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by sayke on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:06:12 AM EST

Oh, really I must have missed where the "right to defraud corporations" was determined to me an inalienable human right.
Defraud:
  1. A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
  2. A piece of trickery; a trick.
clearly, "defraud" isn't the world you're looking for, as unauthorized copying does not imply dishonesty in any sense.

our difference of opinion stems from one simple disagreement: i don't think information can be meaningfully classified as "property", and (i gather that) you do.

please explain to me why you think information can be meaningfully classified as property.

and no, saying "if you don't classify information as property some business models will no longer be viable!!!*@#$)(@#)(@#" does not cut it - unless, of course, you wish to advocate the destruction of all printing presses to save the endangered scriviner profession.

hint: i derive my notion of property from defensibility - i do not subscribe to the notion of "natural rights", which i view as a contradictory absurdity on the scale of "square circle", "invisible pink kitten", and "intellectual property".


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Information and Property (3.75 / 4) (#28)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:55:47 AM EST

our difference of opinion stems from one simple disagreement: i don't think information can be meaningfully classified as "property", and (i gather that) you do.

please explain to me why you think information can be meaningfully classified as property.

and no, saying "if you don't classify information as property some business models will no longer be viable!!!*@#$)(@#)(@#" does not cut it - unless, of course, you wish to advocate the destruction of all printing presses to save the endangered scriviner profession.


We (at least most of us) live in a capitalist society meaning that the entire social system is based on people exchanging goods and services for money. Now I have nothing against people who decide to produce goods or services and donate it to the common good even if these goods or services surpace commercial endeavors (e.g. some Open Source versus commercial offerings). Similarly I see nothing wrong with new technologies or techniques obsoleting entire professions or industries if the new technologies are preferred to the old by consumers.

What I can't stand is the people stealing goods and services from others because technology now makes it easier to do. Quite frankly, I really don't care what the philosophical arguments of whether exactly informartion is property or not. What matters in my opinion is that someone expended capital to produce a good or service and others like you consume these goods and services hiding behind the simplistic yet childish mantra Information Wants To Be Free.

If you want to consume protest IP rights then come up with your own alternatives or vote with your pocket. Simply stealing eat and trying to justify with bogus philosophy may soothe your conscience but doesn't make you any less a lawbreaker or does it change the fact that you're analogies fall far short of describing the situation.

[ Parent ]
but you can't steal what can't be owned (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by sayke on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:05:52 PM EST

What I can't stand is the people stealing goods and services from others because technology now makes it easier to do.
in order to something to stolen, it must first be owned. if information can't be owned, then it can't be stolen. it's that simple.

btw - you can't steal a service. you can violate a contract in which you agreed to pay for a specific service, but i don't think that's what you mean. "stealing services" makes about as much sense as "squaring circles".

Quite frankly, I really don't care what the philosophical arguments of whether exactly informartion is property or not.
sorry man, but that's at the core of this dispute. technology is challenging existing definitions and institutions. for some reason, you expect other people to just accept and abide by your definition of property as something that includes information. i (and many others like me) see no reason to do that.

i asked you once, and i'll ask again: please explain to me why you think information can be meaningfully classified as property.

if you can't do that, then you can't accuse warez monkeys of stealing without collapsing into the absurdity of unsupported assertion - you would make as much sense as i would if i was accusing you of stealing whenever you breathe "my" air.

definitions matter.

What matters in my opinion is that someone expended capital to produce a good or service and others like you consume these goods and services
it sounds to me like you subscribe to the labor theory of value. that theory says that if someone puts a lot of effort into something, it then has lots of value, and people should pay a lot for it.

that theory was put forth by the early communist philosophers, and completely discredited as soon as it came out. it totally ignores the interplay of supply and demand. as such, it's useless from a descriptive, let alone normative, perspective.

if you insist on subscribing to the labor theory of value, i'll demolish it for you, but i kind of doubt you'll do that.

[i and others like me are] hiding behind the simplistic yet childish mantra Information Wants To Be Free.
did i ever utter that mantra? if you want a mantra to say i said, try "information can't be owned".

although, interestingly enough, the terms "unownable" and "free" do have many fascinating similarities...


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Property and Legal Fiction (4.75 / 4) (#54)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:37:27 PM EST

sorry man, but that's at the core of this dispute. technology is challenging existing definitions and institutions. for some reason, you expect other people to just accept and abide by your definition of property as something that includes information. i (and many others like me) see no reason to do that.

i asked you once, and i'll ask again: please explain to me why you think information can be meaningfully classified as property.


The concept of individually owned property is a fiction created by societies to help them function. How does one truly own a piece of land? The only that causes such a concept to make sense is that the laws of society permit it to be so. If someone had told native Americans a few hundred years ago that one day people would buy and sell land they "owned" the person would have been met with ridicule but in today's world such actions are a matter of fact.

We have no natural property besides our bodies which we were born with and shall die with. Every thing else we own is by the grace of whatever laws exist in the society we live in. A few hundred years ago in parts of Europe and China the average man owned nothing and most of his belonging were actually that of the local noblemen including his home, wife and children.

So basically my point is that the argument of what constitutes property or not is really philosophical bullshit IMHO. The bottom line is if someone produces a good or service that you want to utilize, under the capitalist system they are supposed to get paid for it. If this concept is abhorrent to you there are choices
  1. Move to a society that doesn't believe that people deserve to get paid for their work and instead only kleptocracy and "might is right" should decide.

  2. Refuse to participate in the capitalist system and subvert it from within by providing goods and services for FREE. Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation do this and they have my undying admiration.

  3. Utilize goods and services without paying for them and claim a moral high ground. This seems to be the favorite of Slashbots and w4r3z d00ds every where.
PS: I have to go work on some Free software and since I don't believe in pointless discussions I probably will read your reply but won't respond.

[ Parent ]
Alternative 4... (none / 0) (#62)
by snowlion on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:09:27 PM EST

...You could join East Winds or any of a number of alternative societies where work is rewarded fairly.

It is good that you recognize that property is a social contract.

It is bad that you think that the only alternative to our society is coercion.

I can't speak for "Kleptocracy"; I don't know what it means, and gdict can't tell me either.

Dare, don't you think that 180 years is more than enough to make back a return on investment? I have heard that the vast majority of books make back their money in the first 10 years. It is only the exceptionally rare movie that becomes a hit much later. I believe that our society would get the most benefit by rolling back copyright by 15 years. I also think it would benefit if software that is to be under copyright protection required that source code was kept in a library until 15 years had passed, at which point the library would make the code publicly accessible, as well as relevant binaries.

Doesn't this sound fair? It sounds fair to me. I don't think we'd see a collapse of software; Do you?


--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
Rolling back copyright terms (none / 0) (#64)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:35:37 PM EST

I believe that our society would get the most benefit by rolling back copyright by 15 years. I also think it would benefit if software that is to be under copyright protection required that source code was kept in a library until 15 years had passed, at which point the library would make the code publicly accessible, as well as relevant binaries.

Here we are in agreement, I think the current copyright terms [brought to use by Disney and Sonny Bono] are ridiculous and need to be scaled back to about twnty years and perhaps even less for software.

[ Parent ]
remember what i said about defensibility? (3.66 / 3) (#80)
by sayke on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 12:20:49 AM EST

The concept of individually owned property is a fiction created by societies to help them function. How does one truly own a piece of land?
by defending it against all comers.

if you take my shoes, and defend them against all comers, then they become your shoes.

the presumed "wishes of society" (how can a society have wishes? it can't. individuals have wishes) are totally irrelevent, and have nothing to do with this discussion.

We have no natural property besides our bodies which we were born with and shall die with. Every thing else we own is by the grace of whatever laws exist in the society we live in.
if i wasn't interested in meaningful discussion, and was merely interested in rhetorical "victory", i'd call that a line of pseudo-philosophical bullshit... but i'm not, so i won't.

regardess, you are describing one method of deriving the notion of property - from societally bestowed legitimacy. because it completely ignores the role of naked force in determining such legitimacy, i do not subscribe to or abide by that definition.

The bottom line is if someone produces a good or service that you want to utilize, under the capitalist system they are supposed to get paid for it.
either you have a very poor understanding of capitalism, or you deliberately vastly oversimplified in the above statement. as i touched on in my last post, "supposed" has nothing to do with it.

if you produce a good that can't be defended (like broadcast tv), you shouldn't expect people to pay for that good. you will have to resort to other methods (like selling ad time) to support your business model. behold, an exception to your definition of capitalism! get a new definition. i recommend consulting the dictionary.

[i could] Move to a society that doesn't believe that people deserve to get paid for their work and instead only kleptocracy and "might is right" should decide.
too late.

but do you really think people magically "deserve" to get paid for their work? because if you do, that means you think i should get paid for, say, all the work i get paid into exquisitly crafting my toenails.

remember, the labor theory of value doesn't take the interplay of supply and demand into account. give it up, already. sheesh.

[or i could]Refuse to participate in the capitalist system and subvert it from within by providing goods and services for FREE. Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation do this and they have my undying admiration.
the FSF i'm familier with does not seek to subvert the capitalist system - they merely reject the classification of information as property, as do i.

remember stallman's vigorous bellows of "DON'T CALL ME A COMMIE!"...? that's because his positions can't be meaningfully called communist. he doesn't reject capitalism in general. he merely (say it with me now) rejects the classification of information as property.

PS: i was working on free software earlier, but then i paused to write this comment to you. i will probably continue to reply till either you stop raising cogent points, or you start agreeing with me, or i start agreeing with you.


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Need to brush up on your reading comprehention (1.00 / 3) (#41)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:14:59 PM EST

and no, saying "if you don't classify information as property some business models will no longer be viable!!!*@#$)(@#)(@#" does not cut it - unless, of course, you wish to advocate the destruction of all printing presses to save the endangered scriviner profession. So... did you ignore this paragraph to be obstinant, or are you just stupid? Maybe you should go to summer school. It might improve your reading as well as social skills.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

LOL (3.33 / 3) (#50)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:19:30 PM EST

So... did you ignore this paragraph to be obstinant, or are you just stupid? Maybe you should go to summer school. It might improve your reading as well as social skills.

This thread reminds me of the saying
Arguing on the Internet is like running a race in the Special Olympics - even if you win you are still retarded.
as well as
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and then beat you with their experience.
So I bid you adieu. Have fun Mr. "Human Rights Activist" as you bravely fight against the evil corporations by downloading as much software and MP3s as you can off the Internet.

*chuckle*

[ Parent ]
Good show, chap! (1.33 / 3) (#66)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:05:56 PM EST

I must say, it's a bit unorthodox to do a satire of oneself, but no none can deny its humor!

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

He did address it (3.33 / 3) (#51)
by zakalwe on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:23:33 PM EST

Your point was addressed. Perhaps you could attempt to reapply your own "reading and social skills" on the following passage:
Similarly I see nothing wrong with new technologies or techniques obsoleting entire professions or industries if the new technologies are preferred to the old by consumers.
This pretty clearly addresses your point. He freely admits that this is not a valid argument if the new technologies are preferred to the old by consumers. Yes - we could change the laws to not recognise information property - but the whole question is would such a system be better

Personally, I think IP is a useful concept to society. It provides an incentive for people to create new things and means that there is much more music, books, films etc that I like. The objection isn't that it would render a profession unviable - its that it would render a valuable profession unviable.

Why don't you argue that we should get rid of property ownership laws - after all why should "right to occupy an area" be any more important than "right to control distribution of information." Afraid of rendering the "Land owner" business model unviable?

[ Parent ]

You should write for Adequacy. (4.33 / 3) (#16)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:58:03 AM EST

I really don't understand why you would happily stand by while our sacred liberties turn to dust before our eyes. Because of people like you, our laws will soon be more draconian than China's. I rarely use any of the software I copy, and I never make any profit from it. I do it to drive down the profits of companies I detest.

This kind of argument would fit beautifully on Adequacy. You need to adorn your presentation more, though. We only publish long, boring and repetitititive stuff. A two sentence submission won't do.

--em
[ Parent ]

yeah, right. (5.00 / 4) (#18)
by eLuddite on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:07:35 AM EST

I see it as similair to the passive resistance encouraged be Martin Luther King, JR. and Gahndi.

Those guys went to jail for their beliefs. That's the difference between passive resitance and, say, theft. I'm afraid you'll have to shed your anonymity and publicize your every infringement against IP.

Whenever you're ready.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

That's not where the high moral ground is. (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by Toojays on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:26:12 AM EST

Perhaps you should have bad feelings about copying that stuff, because in doing so you are increasing the mindshare these companies have.

If you really want to take the high moral ground, then make sure that you are not violating any copyright licenses. Either pay for your Microsoft products or don't use them. If it makes you feel bad giving money to those companies, but you can't bear to be without their products, maybe you should donate one dollar to the EFF (or similar org) for each dollar you spend on RIAA, MPAA or similar products.

In my opinion, a dollar to the EFF is worth more than a dollar to RIAA, because EFF can spend a higher proportion of its funds fighting RIAA & co than RIAA can (seeing as the RIAA alliance also needs to spend some money on marketing CDs). So instead of feeling bad about giving money to the "bad guys", you can feel good because you're helping the "good guys", but not breaking the law.

One objection you may want to raise is why still pay Microsoft at all --- why not give two dollars to the EFF instead. I'm not 100% sure why I think this is better. Maybe it's the mindshare thing; maybe it's to try and turn around the perception that all people in favour of copyright reform are criminals. Do any like minded people have ideas about this?



[ Parent ]
Well... (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by Danse on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:46:35 AM EST

The way I see it, they stole from us all the works that should have been public domain by now. I still buy some CDs (although they are usually European groups), but mostly I just listen to Live365 stations or some other streaming station. I don't lose any sleep when I infringe on someone's copyright though. They have infringed on my rights far more than I could ever infringe on theirs. That said, I do donate to the EFF when I can. Currently I'm hoping that the Supreme Court will agree to hear Eldred v. Ashcroft. I'm not sure what kind of chance they have of winning though. It seems so clear cut to me, but they've lost so far, and the courts seem to have utterly disregarded the Constitution in their consideration of the case.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I do worry about this (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:25:05 PM EST

... however I think that the damage caused by circulating one more copy of the product may be less than the damage caused by increasing the funding of the lobbyists. I'm currently a poor student living hand-to-mouth, but once I get a real job, I plan to donate to the EFF. They are truly our last bastion of hope.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

dear lord. (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by rebelcool on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 07:30:14 PM EST

you compare MLK and Ghandi to your downloading of warez?

I will begin to support that view when the police begin to physically beat, maim and kill people for downloading mp3s.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

bleh (none / 0) (#73)
by scanman on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 10:48:17 PM EST

I said "similair to", not "superior to"!

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

Linux games are perceived as either... (5.00 / 4) (#19)
by Talez on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:20:27 AM EST

In our group at least, they are perceived as either

a) Slower than the Windows version
b) Hard to setup
c) A waste of our time

The reasons we dont use Linux games is

1) Why reinvent the wheel? We have perfectly good Windows versions with perfectly acceptable performance that we already bought months ago.

2) Linux isnt ready for gaming. Mandrake gaming edition or whatever it is... it isnt a gaming linux distro, its a linux distro with DirectX compatability slapped on top. You want us to use games with linux? Slap together a highly tuned, highly customised kernel, decent libraries and support for all the latest and greatest gaming hardware and THEN maybe we'll see about using linux for gaming...

Tal

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
Yes, yes. (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by regeya on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:08:08 PM EST

It's the fault of those dumbass Linux distributors that gaming companies don't release their own Linux ports of games, and it's the fault of all those l33t l1nux h4x0rz that hardware companies don't release drivers/specs for their hardware.

Cluebat administered.


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

HTML needs sarcasm tags (none / 0) (#75)
by regeya on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:00:59 PM EST

(nt)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

LFT reached. (3.33 / 3) (#81)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 04:24:03 AM EST

The "Linux Fault Threshold", explained here.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
total bullshit (none / 0) (#83)
by Ender Ryan on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 09:28:30 AM EST

"In our group at least, they are perceived as either"

Just curious, what group would that be?

"a) Slower than the Windows version
b) Hard to setup
c) A waste of our time"

a) totally false. I consistently get similar performance, give or take a few frames.
b) so friggin learn to use your Linux box for crying out loud! learn how everything works and it will be really easy
c) gaming itself is a waste of time if you think about it. and see b., and it won't be a waste of time

"The reasons we dont use Linux games is

1) Why reinvent the wheel? We have perfectly good Windows versions with perfectly acceptable performance that we already bought months ago.

2) Linux isnt ready for gaming. Mandrake gaming edition or whatever it is... it isnt a gaming linux distro, its a linux distro with DirectX compatability slapped on top. You want us to use games with linux? Slap together a highly tuned, highly customised kernel, decent libraries and support for all the latest and greatest gaming hardware and THEN maybe we'll see about using linux for gaming..."

1) so you can run games in the operating system of your choice, with the added benefit of much better network performance and stability (at least in my experience...)

2) who cares about Mandrake? and what's wrong with using wine? Loki ported a large number of really good games to Linux. I'm not impatient, so I waited for them. They all work flawlessly for me, especially Tribes 2 which had tons of crashing problems in windows. And wtf are you talking about a highly customized kernel and support for the latest greatest hardware? Linux performs fairly well for gaming (as I said above, very similar +- a few fps, often +). And the latest greatest gaming video cards are supported in Linux. The GF3 is well supported, and the Radeon is shaping up pretty well too.

As for wine, I have played a number of games all the way through in wine, getting almost the same framerate as in windows. Those games include, Star Trek Elite Force, Half-Life(all of them), and a couple other Q3A-engine based games.

Sure, Linux is more difficult to use than windows, but if you have a problem with that, that's your problem, why would you use Linux in the first place then?


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

Boy are you missing out (4.80 / 5) (#27)
by Cloaked User on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:30:52 AM EST

Paying for concerts strikes me as silly; I would never spend real money to go see a live show, but I'm quite happy to spend $10-20 for a CD

I've been to my fair share of concerts, and there is absolutely no comparison between a good live performance and an album. A good concert can give you a buzz that lasts for days.

Sure, you can't keep it, but you're paying for the experience, and it can be well worth it. Should I assume that, by the same token, you never go to the cinema, or watch sport live?



Cheers,

Tim
--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
Actually... (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by seebs on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:34:22 PM EST

I don't like sports, so no, I don't go see them live. I occasionally watch movies in the theater... But still, concerts, at least around, here, are expensive, and many of my favorite artists can't do a concert anyone would pay to watch. I'd rather be able to buy CD's that I'll own for years to come.

Maybe I'm missing something... but I'm perfectly happy with the kind of music I can get now, and I'd like to continue having these options.


[ Parent ]
how many people agree with you? (3.50 / 2) (#53)
by alprazolam on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:28:18 PM EST

I'd guess that a lot of people would rather go see their favorite artist perform live now and wait a month for the CD than buy the CD and skip the concert. I could do without the CD myself, I'm not really into having a lot of materials possessions (I'm too disorganized to keep track of stuff anyway). I think a lot of people would rather see a concert just so they can tell people they've been.

[ Parent ]
I do... (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by defeated on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:16:48 PM EST

I'm just not in to live shows like I was in high school...We saw big name hair metal bands, but the best shows were at the Ross Theatre in Evansville, IN where local band Cornucopia of Death played. Since I'm an old lady now, whooping it up in a sweaty mosh pit just doesn't appeal much anymore, and I'd rather save the money to blow on CDs. I did catch Selena at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo shortly before she was shot; in fact, I had to quit my job to be able to attend that performance, and I'm glad I did. But, I digress...give me a stack of CDs over a crowded stadium any day.

[ Parent ]
You may be right... (none / 0) (#69)
by seebs on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:59:11 PM EST

On the other hand, how many people would go see someone like Paul van Dyk, who does atmospheric techno? Some of my favorite music would be boring as hell "live" - it'd just be some guy pushing "play". And I don't want to endorse any system where you can only be a musician if your music goes over well live. I like composers, not just players.


[ Parent ]
Thousands of people pay to see live electronica. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by la princesa on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 10:23:33 PM EST

They pack clubs eager to watch Sterolab or Paul van Dyk or Autechre perform live. Just as people skip merrily off to see live classical music led by a conductor, people rush to see electronic musicians doing their thing live (which isn't always as simplistic and stereotypical as pushing play) and djs spinning records for hours on end.

[ Parent ]
Case in point (none / 0) (#86)
by sk0tadi on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 08:54:18 PM EST

I saw "And One", a completely electronic
act (except for the vocals), live here in NYC, and
they were *great*. They sang and danced around
the stage the whole show, did cartwheels,
made faces at the crowd, etc.

They were completely wacky, and very entertaining.

The other patrons seemed to agree with me,
as everyone I could see was really enjoying themselves, and everyone (~30 people) I spoke to
said they were the best act of the night (they
played with two other electronic acts, Covenant
and Icon Of Coil, both of which are good).

I think I definitely fall into the "if
I had to make a choice, I'd rather see the live show first" crowd.

[ Parent ]
So (2.00 / 1) (#44)
by spacejack on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:50:39 PM EST

You'd prefer to play 2-3 minute games in the arcade?

[ Parent ]
One big problem (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by jd on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 12:21:12 PM EST

...is the association of "paying" with "getting". Ever since the concepts of "shareware" and "demoware", this concept has been false for a significant number of people.

(Yes, the FSF was there first, but it didn't matter to most people, until Linux came along.)

In truth, the concept of "paying for what you get" doesn't work. It's been abandoned by most of the civilised world. The poor get welfare, the rich get rebates. It all amounts to the same thing. The closer you get to the edges of the spectrum, the worse that model becomes. It's only sustainable if everyone is a middle-of-the-road middle-class middle-income person.

So, we've patched the system, to allow for as many extremes as we can. Benefits, rebates, tax relief, price-capping, spending-capping, etc. These are all designed to add enough controls so that the economic model can still function for the majority of people. (It still doesn't work, never mind well, for some. But the numbers are small enough that society doesn't feel the need to push through further patches, to an already patch-work system.)

So, how does this apply to copyright and fair compensation for work done? Simple. The same logic applies. The larger your target market, the harder it is to find a system that is both equitable and maximal. The two run counter to each other. The less equitable the system is, the more rebellious the market is likely to become. The less market-share you have, the less compensation you receive.

The result? You have to choose how to optimise that equation for what you want. A rebellious market, where authoritarian rules are required to generate revenue? A happy market that pays nothing, unless it feels like it? Somewhere between the two, perhaps?

However, this generates its own problems. If two people have different systems, then the generic exchange mechanism we happen to call "money" has unequal value, depending on where you are. As a result, it ceases to be useful as an exchange system. It's simply too variable. The reason coins were introduced in the first place, is that the value could be fixed, relative to something. Gold, or other precious metals, usually. Today, it's fixed by the market. So, by having many incompatiable markets, you cease to have a meaningful currency.

This is further complicated by the fact that individual markets fluctuate their price, according to demand. More demand, higher price. Extreme forms of this are termed "price gouging", and are frowned upon, but it's rare anyone does anything about it.

A crude example of price gouging and why it is frowned upon might be a gas station with a look-out post. If it looks like lots of vehicles need gas, then electronically add 25 cents to the pumps. If there are only a few, then try and steal their custom by dropping 25 cents before they get there.

A gas station that did that would certainly make a lot of extra money. Shortly before an angry mob ripped the place apart.

Another example of market failure can be seen by looking at wages for different occupations. Since wages must reflect revenue (you can't pay people with money you don't have), the higher the wage, the less accessible the fruits of that particular profession, and vice versa.

Low-end restraunt work is paid the least. It's often below minimum wage, on the grounds that "tips can make up the rest". Translated: If you need money badly enough to serve a bunch of arrogant snobs, you'll just have to get it from them, 'cos we don't give a damn. Food is cheap and jobs are cheaper.

Next comes fast-food places, where minimum wage is actually respected. Sometimes. It's still not enough to pay for edible food AND adequate housing, but, hey, you can't charge customers any more, or there won't be any.

Then, we'll skip a bunch of careers and move onto computer programming. Easy stuff (such as trouble-shooting, web-page design, etc) is usually paid enough to live on, so long as you never get sick, have an accident, etc.

More serious programming is genrally paid good money. $50,000 - $500,000 is the typical price bracket, here, but here comes the problem. To pay even one person that much, you need to be making that much and more! That means, programmers good enough to produce good programs will create expensive programs.

So? So, if you want reliability and stability, but you're on a limited budget, don't go for anything digital. Analogue is cheaper, with better results, at the low-end.

The consequence of this? GOOD computer products will remain (for now) in the hands of the elite, and they have absolutely no interest in changing that, any time soon.

Free (as in Free Speech) software destabilises this entire arrangement, and allows someone flipping hamburgers to also flip bits.

Free (as in Free Beer) software, which need not be the same thing as above, also destabilises the market, in that it reduces the market value of those elite software programmers to about equal to that of a hamburger flipper.

The market relies on some universally-accepted constant, and each of the above two alternatives destroy one such constant in the existing "Free Market" economy.

If you want an alternative, find new constants. Preferably ones that don't need so many patches. It's the only long-term solution. Anything else is a temporary fix.

One Thing... (none / 0) (#71)
by amike on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 10:26:24 PM EST

...programmers good enough to produce good programs will create expensive programs.

Heck, crappy programmers will produce expensive programs. Just look at any of Microsoft's line. Last time I checked, XP was about $100.

No, I am not a Slashbot.

----------
In a mad world, only the mad are sane. -Akira Kurosawa
[ Parent ]
No. (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Ken Arromdee on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:08:18 PM EST

Aside from the fact that this is the third article on essentially the same subject, the author has failed to consider alternate possibilities. He also seems to misunderstand the "community".

The obvious explanation is not that Linux users are all pirates (it would be really hard for Linux users to have a higher rate of piracy than Windows-only users), but that most of the Linux users who wanted the games bought the Windows version because it is cheaper and came out first. He hasn't, of course, ruled this possibility out in any way; the whole article is just a gratiutous slam.

I dunno... (none / 0) (#61)
by awful on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 07:50:44 PM EST

I thought the article was more about something that I have long suspected - that there is a large amount of post-theft rationalisation going on when people start talking about copyright, free (beer,libre) software etc.

My boss stopped buying CD's during the last few months of Napster (he got into it late) and every day he would come in to work and boast about how many CD's worth of music he had downloaded overnight, and then add the phrase "Information wants to be free mate".

I recognise the same thing in myself - I've copied material, and I also subscribe to some of the anti-copyright arguments.

This is not an easy issue, articles like this at least go some way to opening up another avenue of discussion..

[ Parent ]

Come on... (none / 0) (#85)
by Ken Arromdee on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 11:25:44 AM EST

He's saying that a Linux game company failed because people are more willing to pirate than pay money. And he hasn't even considered the possibility that maybe they got the Windows version because it came out first.

It's an accusation and a slam against the open source movement, thinly disguised as a rational article. Possibly even a troll.

This is not an easy issue, articles like this at least go some way to opening up another avenue of discussion.

Accusations generate huge amounts of discussion merely because people don't like being accused of things. This is regardless of whether the accusations have any merit to them.

(Anecdotes deleted.)

Yes, there are lots of pirates. But the article is not about "there are lots of pirates." It specifically associates piracy with Linux and claims that the failure of a Linux games company--while many Windows games companies haven't failed--is because Linux is particularly associated with piracy, not just because Linux users have the same rate of piracy as anyone else. (Does your boss run Windows? Do most people that are like him run Windows?)

[ Parent ]

My own thoughts (none / 0) (#68)
by regeya on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 09:26:27 PM EST

Personally, I didn't buy any Loki stuff other than Quake3 (and then, not until it was $10) because I don't play games all that much. I find other things to occupy my time.

I'm sorry to see Lokigames go, as their ports, on a reasonably-well-tuned distro, could whip the asses of their Windows equivalents. I run Quake3 on a machine that, by today's standards, are ancient, and it won't run on Windows at all. Has more to do with my running few daemons and running a light-ish desktop (in other words, more RAM available) but I feel that their ports were, in general, as fast as if not faster than their Windows counterparts.

It's just that I didn't have much use for 'em. ;-)


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Music is not code (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by TON on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:12:09 PM EST

Music is an art that has beed practiced for millenia. It has been a performance art most of that time. CD's are commercial packaging of that art for your convenience. I pay for CD's and for concerts. You want to pay for stuff you can keep? I "keep" a performance in the same way that I keep all the other experiences in my life; they add up to me now. Live music is an entirely different experience from recorded. If you don't enjoy live music, that's OK. The many people who do support musicians financially and personally. Maybe not in the mega-dome, but in many smaller venues, the audience really gives an unquantifiable personal reward, constructive feedback, and sometimes an active contribution to the performance as a whole on top of the cover charge.

Computer code is a product that people use as a tool. Good code can be very creative. It takes a certain knack, and for those who can appreciate it, code can be "artistic". Coders create files of code to be used as tools. I reckon that the number of people who read code for esthetic enjoyment is quite small ;)

Coders need a business model that scales to the digital age. They are of that age and have no other option. Musicians and other artists have other options. Live performance is one; tried, true, and tested. I know musicians who have "made it" i.e. signed to a major deal, only to find they can't make a go of it financially. They have then found that a good plan for performance serves them better personally and financially.

I guess that music will be out there for you; RIAA, copyright, or not. Convenient packaging may not. That is what you are paying for, not the art itself. If artists can be compensated in the process, that's great, but it's a different kettle of fish from code.


"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis

Ted


depressingly realistic poll option (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by andrewm on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:10:34 PM EST

Yes for what I work on, no for what you work on.
It's scary how often I've heard that approach from people who make their living selling propriatory programs

"Why pay when you get it for free?" (in relation to their collection of stolen software.)
"Good point. Why should your customers pay for what you do? You'll be stopping all that evil copy protection stuff of yours now?"
"Uhhhh"

where's the "some rights" option? (none / 0) (#77)
by danny on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:34:28 PM EST

I think people should be acknowledged for what they do, but others should have the freedom to build on what others have done before them. So a novelist or composer should have some protection against plagiarism, or against having modified versions of their work published and misattributed to them. But laws that enforce artificial controls on sharing are another matter...

The GNU GPL only exists to protect freedoms, so it's not at all like the proprietary "rights" over music the big distributors claim. In a world where we were free to share ideas, music, software, etc without artificial constraints, the GPL would be unnecessary.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Loki (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:51:46 PM EST

No offense to the company, who had a nice concept and all, but if someone is really interested in a game, they will probably buy it as soon as it is released. I have a windows partition just for playing games on.

Of course, I really don't care what license my software uses as long as it's the best available. Windows is not my primary OS for those who are concerned, nor is it MacOS.

I mean, a lot of linux users who play video games keep a windows partition just for this purpose! If you have the option of getting it new, on day one, or buying a port months later, most people will go with getting it new on day one. Most people will not pay AGAIN to be able to play on a different OS. Considering that they, by the very nature of what they do, are forced to release months after the initial release and hype of a title, and can only get a small amount of the pie since most of the royalties go to the original developers, one can imagine why such a business would go under.

Freedom and Morality | 90 comments (68 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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