Skip

Anybody want to swap refs?
December 22, 2006 6:01 AM   Subscribe

You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law. Freenet is a decentralized censorship resistant p2p distributed network which aims to provide freedom of speech through strong anonymity. By pooling bandwidth and hard drive space (similar to Seti@home), users are able to anonymously publish and retrieve any kind of file.
posted by localhuman (158 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Freenet, darknets, and otherwise previously discussed on Metafilter.

Design based upon Ian Clarke's "Freenet: A Distributed Anonymous Information Storage and Retrieval System"(pdf document) , the most cited computer science paper of 2000. (yes, snark at it, 2000 was soooo long ago)

Benefits range from the ability of users in oppressive regimes to communicate and share data beneath the reach of network admins, to the ability of users to freely share copywrited files such as pictures, books, movies, and software.

Criticisms include the ability Freenet gives to terrorists and child pron addicts to share information and files, and also usability issues such as ease of installation and speed performance of the Freenet browser.

The current release of Freenet is version .7. Version .7 is a closednet in which users must find other trusted users and swap IP addresses (or references) with them in order to obtain and maximize connectivity.

In light of recent discussions here (McCain wants to kill blogs, Henry Rollins goes off on net neutrality) which hint at an internet more policed and regulated than many of its users want, Freenet seems an interesting alternative.

Anybody want to swap refs?
posted by localhuman at 6:02 AM on December 22, 2006


You can also find lots of kiddie porn on Freenet.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:15 AM on December 22, 2006


Security Now #70 was all about Freenet and TOR, if you want to listen instead of read.
posted by john m at 6:23 AM on December 22, 2006


Only lots of kiddie porn? I didn't realize it had any other purpose.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2006


freedom of speech through strong anonymity

I guess that's what passes for freedom nowadays.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2006


Bah. Freedom of speech and copyright have nothing to do with each other, unless you believe that freedom of speech means the freedom to say anything, anytime, anywhere. Most reasonable people would agree that there are some limits to free speech--"Fire" in a theatre comes to mind--and that copyright is a reasonable limit.

I'm not saying that copyright mechanisms, as currently outlined and enforced, are necessarily the right structure. Clearly, however, artists do need to retain some rights over their creations (the recent issue with the geese at the Eaton Centre in Toronto leaps to mind), as having some sort of control over how your product is copied and distributed has quantifiable impacts on income, as well as future generation of art.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2006


What do freedom of speech and copyright law have to do with one another?
posted by antifuse at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2006


What do freedom of speech and copyright law have to do with one another?
posted by antifuse at 9:50 AM EST on December 22


Nothing beyond confusing a few definitions of "free".
posted by Pastabagel at 6:57 AM on December 22, 2006


I believe this is spoken of in the absolute sense. When it comes to the Internet, enforcement of copyright law (by which he doesn't just mean finding pirates and prosecuting them, but providing a true filter so that law enforcement is automated) provides the exact set of tools required to limit free speech.

Imagine we have a society in which the sending of copyrighted postcards over the Internet is regarded as a great evil, to be stopped at all costs. Now, to automatically enforce such a thing, all transmissions would have to be monitored and scanned, compared against a database of copyrighted postcards. Machine vision might be employed to look for trivially altered (upside down, rotated a few degrees) versions of these priceless postcard works.

Recently, a member of the ruling party was caught in the unspeakable act of fnord. It would be child's play to simply adapt the postcard-defending software to also look for references to the hideous crime of fnord and suppress them. Merely a software patch, and the administration is free of shame.

In a similar fashion, a set of crime-watching cameras deployed on the street could also be repurposed to look for that offense against nature, blue-eyed people talking to brown-eyed people. Sick, sick freaks.
posted by adipocere at 7:06 AM on December 22, 2006


That's the good old bogeyman, the slippery slope argument.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:09 AM on December 22, 2006


I can't entirely remember how Freenet works in detail, but I think, localhuman, by putting out a broad untargetted question like that -- "anyone want to swap refs?" to a large, public community kind of defeats the purpose of "trusted users". You have no way of knowing if any one Metafilter user works for some kind of RIAA/FBI anti-darknet task force.

I think Freenet is structured in a way where it doesn't matter that much, but it's still something to think about.
posted by blacklite at 7:11 AM on December 22, 2006


adipocere writes "Recently, a member of the ruling party was caught in the unspeakable act of fnord."

Surely not fnord! Get the pitchforks and torches out! Let's tar and feather him!
posted by clevershark at 7:12 AM on December 22, 2006


What do freedom of speech and copyright law have to do with one another?

Well let's say you had important information about how voting fraud was being conducted, and the company that was behind the voting fraud sued you for copyright infringement when you published the information.

Or say you didn't like a religion and wanted to use its own documents in your arguments against it, but when you put up your website it gets delisted from search engines (and completely removed from the internet, if you hosted it in the US) because what you think is fair use is infringement to the religion.

Just a couple ways, there are plenty more.

As for Freenet, last time I tried it it was slow and there wasn't anything on it that wasn't already on the web, so I don't have much use for it.
posted by revgeorge at 7:17 AM on December 22, 2006


You call it slippery slope, I call it "bringing a frog to a slow boil." And it's a lovely technique that has worked for corrupt governments everywhere. Our Constitution was designed based on the slippery slope, that men are not angels. If you put the tools out there for them, why, their hands will just itch to get at it.

Clevershark - Nobody's reporting any fnord here. All blogs have been scanned. Thank you for your cooperation, Citizen. *smoking boot*
posted by adipocere at 7:19 AM on December 22, 2006


Slippery-slope is not a bogeyman. It's true in many cases.

Every time a law gets passed, the lawmakers make big promises about how it will be used, and it is ALWAYS misused. Once they have the power to 'chase terrorists' or 'catch child pornographers', they use those same power to catch other 'bad guys' too.

If you give the government the power to monitor traffic, it is an absolute certainty that this power will be misused.... the surveillance will expand past the original claimed targets.

Slippery slope is not a bogeyman. The people who try to paint it as one ... are the people who want to put chains on you.
posted by Malor at 7:19 AM on December 22, 2006


yeah blacklite, i wouldn't really ever swap refs with anyone i didn't know personally. i was just trying to evoke a little culture from anyone who's tried freenet and sat in an irc chat room saying over and over, "anybody wanna ...."
posted by localhuman at 7:25 AM on December 22, 2006


To anyone who doesn't believe in slippery slopes in general, I say, buy a history book. Any one. Read it.
posted by JWright at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hey, revgeorge, that's an intersting article you linked to concerning Diebold. Thanks for that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 AM on December 22, 2006



the interesting question is which slopes are really slippery and which aren't.

it's clear that unchecked power is a slippery slope towards abuses.

but other arguments are less compelling.
posted by Maias at 8:00 AM on December 22, 2006


Thank you, Maias. That was what I was trying to say--sometimes there is a slippery slope, sometimes there isn't.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:13 AM on December 22, 2006


For the millionth time, freedom of speech is freedom to speak free of government restraint, not the restraint of those in the private sector who want to limit the rights given to those who are using their output.

This is simple theft, justified with a few throwaway lines about "freedom of speech." Essentially these people want to say that freedom of speech will be compromised if I attempt to circumvent limits imposed on the rights of end users by the creators of these works.

Garbage.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:17 AM on December 22, 2006


The entire purpose of freenet has changed, from a 'decentralized' system where anyone could get anything to a way to swap files with your friends, right?

Or am I mistaken.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on December 22, 2006


This is simple theft

Calling copyright infringement "theft" is like just as idiotic as comparing the right to infringe copyright the right to free speech.

The legal term is copyright infringement, not "theft" not "sharing" or anything else. There is simply legal grouding to call it "theft". If you want to get all epistemilogical, nock yourself out. But theft of physical objects deprives the owner of the object. The act of copying something does not deprive someone of the use of that thing.
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Of course it is theft. It is illegally using a thing beyond the rights granted it by its creator. Sure if you want to go to the statute books, the legal term is "copyright infringement."

That gets me thinking. Could a government bring theft charges against a party misusing a copyright? Or is the only remedy civil on the part of the person who had their rights to the property violated?

Does theft require physical appropriation? I wonder if that issue has ever been decided in the first place. Never had that issue come up in one of my classes or my very limited experience representing people in the criminal setting. I'd be surprised if it had.

Sometimes pedantry does open up new areas of inquiry!
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2006


Wow, seems that physical possession is not necessary for theft. WiFi theft has apparently been prosecuted before. That involves no physical possession at all. Merely the use of equipment remotely. I suppose what is stolen is the ability to control the use of the property or the slot in which a person could be giving or selling WiFi access to another.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:02 AM on December 22, 2006


The act of copying something does not deprive someone of the use of that thing.

No, but it deprives them of the income they could have reasonably expected from that thing under the law.

Split hairs all you like. In legal terms it is not theft. In the dictionary definition and/or common definition, it is theft.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:02 AM on December 22, 2006


For the millionth time, freedom of speech is freedom to speak free of government restraint, not the restraint of those in the private sector who want to limit the rights given to those who are using their output.

Errm, I think you're probably talking about the restrictive, American, first-amendment kinda free speech.

Others (including, I gather, the creators of Freenet), hold even higher ideals of free speech that has nothing to do with government / private sector divisions.

Saying that there are legal restrictions placed on "free speech" is obvious. But this isn't necessarily about the law, it's about philosophy and ideals.
posted by Jimbob at 9:06 AM on December 22, 2006


whether copyright infringes upon freedom of speech is debatable. But even more heinous, it limits and infringes upon creativity. Would that artists had a higher place in our society, on par with say soldiers, actuaries or stock traders, copyright would be less an issue. Instead that beacon of light, that ordainer of human evolution, creativity, is quartered to mud stalls of marketability, and artists -at least the many I know personally- are reduced to groveling every penny until some illusory breakthrough. A forum like Freenet forces people to truly care about what they are producing, and to do so with little or no reward.. Welcome to free expression today.
posted by sarcasman at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


No, but it deprives them of the income they could have reasonably expected from that thing under the law.

Prove it.

If "stealing" a certain copyrighted work costs the creator money, surely there should be some requirement to show how much, exactly, that "theft" cost them. In real terms. And surely the punishment should fit the crime. If I steal a $15 vase, denying the shop selling that vase, say, $5 profit, I'm not going to be doing any hard time. But if I copy a $15 CD, that the artist might have expected to make, say $2 if I had bought it, then I'm looking at fines in the many thousands of dollars.

Yeah copyright infringement isn't theft. Somehow...it's worse...
posted by Jimbob at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2006


Sarcasaman, nothing stops anyone from giving away their material for free. I am free to write whatever songs I like. No one forces me to copyright them (better get around to that).
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on December 22, 2006


Gawd, a debate about copyright between folks who think it's "copywrite" (I'm lookin' at you, OP), and the morons who squack about it being theft due to tortured definitions.
It's theft like trespass is theft, and deserves to be a crime roughly commiserate with tresspass— a minor misdemeanor for the vast, vast, vast majority of cases.
The only way I'd support the stringent rights that currently exist for copyholders is if the term was revised back to seven years (or twelve, if I'm feeling generous). Anything older than that should be public domain.
And I'm tired of the copy-defenders loudly decrying the "theft" of copyright while endorsing a much larger theft from the public domain. If it's reasonable to argue that expected value is the metric, then there are billions of dollars in works that should be public domain by now that have been unjustly extended.

But hey, we've had this debate before, and we already know that this is going to devolve into a bunch of screaming didacts with little legal knowledge and even less coherent views of what fairness and justice are, so why don't we all take a moment to shut the fuck up.

Especially given that the top link is giving me a failure to connect error...
posted by klangklangston at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2006


Um, I'm a lawyer klangklangston. I believe delmoi is one too. People here do know what they are talking about.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 AM on December 22, 2006


delmoi is a laywer?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2006


Delmoi is not a lawyer, and I have to doubt your credentials if you both think that copyright is explicitly theft and that delmoi's legal opinions are bar-level.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2006


Especially since you don't know that copyright is automatic. No one forces you to register copyright.

Perhaps just being a lawyer isn't enough to keep you from totally talking out of your ass on this?
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2006


You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law

Did anyone see the new Superman with Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor?

"WRONG!!!"
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2006


Ironmouth, what I meant is the ability to use materials in a work. yes, this if too often done as Diddy style crap sampling, but interesting examples also abound, for fees of course. And true, anyone can submit for free, but the inability to earn sustenance forces many to carry the copyright torch. Alas, giving away material is the rite of passage for burgeoning artists. I guess it is larger fish I was fixin to fry. tis friday.
posted by sarcasman at 9:55 AM on December 22, 2006


You can doubt my credentials all you want. If the loan companies would start to doubt that I went to law school, that would be wonderful too. Occasionally I'd like a client to forget I exist as well, but that's another story.

I will say this, you are right about being a lawyer doesn't mean my opinions can't be out of my ass. But if you're not one, how would you know?

I don't mean to get into a flame war with you, but I don't see how you can say copyright may not be theft. Can you cite something to me that says it isn't? You are just as much assuming as I am.

We see that other intangibles can be stolen without the physical property being possessed by the thief. What is being taken from someone when something is stolen isn't the thing itself but the right to possession and control of it. The act of taking the thing away and ending the right to control and use it is the crime. I don't become less of a thief because I no longer control the car I just joyrided in. I am still a thief. A thief who steals money is still a thief after he uses it for a purchase.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on December 22, 2006


A creative prosecutor could try to charge it if he so chose. Why don't they? Because they have much worse crimes that are much more easily prosecuted to go after. It would be a waste of resources.

Of course I say this as I'm burning a bunch of my brother's CD's to my hard drive as I visit home for Christmas. I am a hypocrite!
posted by Ironmouth at 10:05 AM on December 22, 2006


Sarcasaman, you are on to something. We are going through a massive change in the creative industries. Before, limited numbers of artists were able to reach the masses because upfront investment costs prevented just anyone from making their material available to the public.

The internet is changing that. I envision and hope for a world of individual artists doing their own marketing and record labels being a thing of the past. People could hire out as promoters, but the power would be in the hands of the artists again, because most of the value in the product would be the creative part, not the distribution and marketing as it has been for years.

Movies will be much harder, but not impossible. Imagine no TV channels at all, but the ability to seek out what you want.

I guess what I am saying is that the changes the artists want are more to do with the economics of the buying and selling than the right to control use as a condition of sale.

What the copiers want is free stuff, naturally.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on December 22, 2006


A creative prosecutor could try to charge it if he so chose. Why don't they?

Because they don't like charging people with things they know have no chance of winning because they're totally spurious?
posted by oaf at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2006


Wow, seems that physical possession is not necessary for theft. WiFi theft has apparently been prosecuted before.

WiFi theft deprives its owner of something of value: bandwidth, or 'capacity'. When you use someone's bandwidth, they are not able to use it and their service provider can't give it to some other paying customer. WiFi theft is like jumping on a half empty tram without paying. You can point out that the seat wasn't taken but you are using resources that need to be paid for by someone.

By contrast, copyright infringement is not theft, for reasons pointed out many times above. It is illegal and often immoral and I do not advocate it in any situation except those in which the law is clearly without moral foundation (and you can get away with it), but it is not theft.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2006


Surely not fnord! Get the pitchforks and torches out! Let's tar and feather him!

I'm getting tired of pitchforks and torches, where's the roaring fire and kettle of oil when ya need it?

whether copyright infringes upon freedom of speech is debatable.

Meet Michael Crook who likes to abuse the safe harbour provision in the DMCA.
posted by squeak at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2006


I guess what I am saying is that the changes the artists want are more to do with the economics of the buying and selling than the right to control use as a condition of sale.
-Ironmouth

Definitely.. but also include a greater impact in distribution and getting their shit heard/read/seen, when larger orgs don't pick them up. The underground scene here in chicago (whence I leave soon, too soon), both for writers and musicians, requires heavy personal involvement in promoting, and the internet helps like no other medium.

Your vision is unfolding in many ways already... and hopefully will continue that direction. Patronage will always play a part, but hopefully a more hands-off part, allowing artists a greater stake and claim.
posted by sarcasman at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2006


Ironmouth: You're still talking out of your ass. No one was saying that the "thief"'s possession of the material was in question, instead they were saying that since no one was deprived of their property, even for a second, because of copyright infringement, it's not theft. The owner of the joyridden car was deprived of his property while it was being joyrode, and the owner of the money is still being deprived of his money even after the thief passes it on.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2006


If the loan companies would start to doubt that I went to law school, that would be wonderful too.

Did you keep a receipt? If not, consider suing.
posted by yerfatma at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2006


Prove it.

If "stealing" a certain copyrighted work costs the creator money, surely there should be some requirement to show how much, exactly, that "theft" cost them. In real terms. And surely the punishment should fit the crime. If I steal a $15 vase, denying the shop selling that vase, say, $5 profit, I'm not going to be doing any hard time. But if I copy a $15 CD, that the artist might have expected to make, say $2 if I had bought it, then I'm looking at fines in the many thousands of dollars.


I don't need to prove it... you just did. And punishments very rarely fit the crime. There's a reason for that: a high cost if caught raises the deterrence factor.

The only way I'd support the stringent rights that currently exist for copyholders is if the term was revised back to seven years (or twelve, if I'm feeling generous). Anything older than that should be public domain.


That's just manifestly silly. I'd say lifetime of the author is sufficient. Example: I write the definitive textbook on Underwater Basket Weaving. Every UBW course in the world uses my textbook. I make a lot of money off something that is my unique creation. And you're suggesting that in seven years, someone should be able to photocopy my work, and make just as much money? Don't be ridiculous.

And, er, klang... you're doubting a lawyer's credentials based on your non-lawyer interpretation of the law? Umm...

Bear in mind, also, that just because a lawyer may be sworn to uphold the law, that doesn't necessarily mean black-letter law. The spirit of the law can be, and frequently is, different from the text. Further, lawyers are permitted to hold opinions that may be at odds with the law. This is how we have differing interpretations and rulings, after all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2006


This is simple theft

Everytime an idiot mislabels infringement as theft, a kitten is killed. So being an idiot is murder!
posted by solid-one-love at 10:42 AM on December 22, 2006


"I don't mean to get into a flame war with you, but I don't see how you can say copyright may not be theft. Can you cite something to me that says it isn't? You are just as much assuming as I am."

Hold on, what statute are you referring to that says it IS theft? Where's your "whereas..." Because where I come from (USA! USA! USA!) copyright infringment falls under US Code, Title 17. And here's where you start.
Now, I'm just a simple citizen, and I don't know no fancy lawyer words, but I looked all through that and I can't find the word theft nowhere. Can you help me, barrister?

(And do note that the wireless prosecution much talked about prior hasn't, to my knowledge, been followed up anywhere with a conviction. Feel free to cite me wrong).

"The internet is changing that. I envision and hope for a world of individual artists doing their own marketing and record labels being a thing of the past. People could hire out as promoters, but the power would be in the hands of the artists again, because most of the value in the product would be the creative part, not the distribution and marketing as it has been for years."

Yeah, yeah, John and Yoko, we all imagine. But as someone who's worked with the music industry for years, what's more likely is an exaggeration of the long tail, not some halcyon days where we all hear vibrant new music unfettered by corporate autonomy.
Most people don't listen to much music, and the music they listen to tends to be part of the biggest plurality. And yeah, you can say that production and distribution have turned into plebian affairs, but marketting muscle on the higher levels will always require giants, simply to reach enough people and pry enough dollars out of their pockets to send Bono to Africa.
Even more likely, and what we're starting to see, is simply advertisers becoming the largest market for up-and-coming artists. Which makes them a bit of cash, and can turn into comfortable record sales, but isn't really this utopia of which you speak.

So maybe there's an ambulance you could chase, because copyright is clearly not your area and your lack of comprehension added to your legal training makes you more dangerous to the overall good.
posted by klangklangston at 10:42 AM on December 22, 2006


Hold on, what statute are you referring to that says it IS theft? Where's your "whereas..." Because where I come from (USA! USA! USA!) copyright infringment falls under US Code, Title 17. And here's where you start.
Now, I'm just a simple citizen, and I don't know no fancy lawyer words, but I looked all through that and I can't find the word theft nowhere. Can you help me, barrister?


There's no need to be insulting. Aren't you a big defender of free speech? Isn't he allowed to have his opinion?

And, again--you seem to be ignoring this--I don't think that he is using 'theft' in the legal definition (because, as we all know, words used in a legal context have very damn specific meaning); he is using it in the common day-to-day definition. So, appealing to the US Code is sort of meaningless, as you're talking in two different contexts.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:59 AM on December 22, 2006


"I don't need to prove it... you just did. And punishments very rarely fit the crime. There's a reason for that: a high cost if caught raises the deterrence factor."

Bullshit. And we've gone 'round this before.

"That's just manifestly silly. I'd say lifetime of the author is sufficient. Example: I write the definitive textbook on Underwater Basket Weaving. Every UBW course in the world uses my textbook. I make a lot of money off something that is my unique creation. And you're suggesting that in seven years, someone should be able to photocopy my work, and make just as much money? Don't be ridiculous."

In 1790, it became a protection for 14 years, renewable once. And I'd suggest that in seven years, you should write a new book and feel free to copyright that expression. I believe that the speed at which information has become transmittable should reduce the necessity for longer protection, not increase it.

"And, er, klang... you're doubting a lawyer's credentials based on your non-lawyer interpretation of the law? Umm..."

Yeah, just like I would if someone said that malpractice was battery, based on some specious view of hurt. I know that you want to get all up on his jock, but he's wrong (and so are you).

"Bear in mind, also, that just because a lawyer may be sworn to uphold the law, that doesn't necessarily mean black-letter law. The spirit of the law can be, and frequently is, different from the text. Further, lawyers are permitted to hold opinions that may be at odds with the law. This is how we have differing interpretations and rulings, after all."

No, but he should be reasonably conversant with the differences between different laws and the reasoning behind them.
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on December 22, 2006


"And, again--you seem to be ignoring this--I don't think that he is using 'theft' in the legal definition (because, as we all know, words used in a legal context have very damn specific meaning); he is using it in the common day-to-day definition. So, appealing to the US Code is sort of meaningless, as you're talking in two different contexts."

He asked for a cite. I took that to mean a legal one, instead of the OED. And I know that words used in a legal context have a damn specific meaning, and I'm saying that the damn specificity is important, especially when dealing with a contentious and malleable area of emerging law. You can play Humpty Dumpty all you want, but I won't be your Alice.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on December 22, 2006


I would agree with others that the slippery slope argument here (copyright enforcement will lead to the end of free speech) is a bit silly, but I think that misreads what Ian Clarke is saying.

The point of the original quote, in context, is about what can be enforced technically, not about what the law should allow. The guarantee (through technology) of free speech is incompatible with the enforcement (also through technology) of copyright law.

Clarke proposes that, if you want to truly guarantee free speech, in a way that will keep any oppressive government from being able to limit it, you have to build a system that allows totally uncensored, anonymous, and untraceable speech--not because all speech is good, but because this is the only way to protect the good speech from interference. I don't know that I'm completely convinced, but it's at least not obviously a stupid argument. He then points out, quite rightly, that if you build something like this, it's impossible to enforce copyright on it, because on a technical level, enforcing copyright looks exactly like enforcing less benign restrictions on speech.

So if build a system that will let Chinese dissidents speak without fear of retribution, it will also, necessarily, be a filesharing system where copyright can't be enforced.

He goes on to argue that this isn't such a bad problem--that artists can still be paid fairly if we lack the ability to enforce copyright. But the fundamental point is the technical one, and that seems worth thinking about.
posted by moss at 11:10 AM on December 22, 2006


The only way I'd support the stringent rights that currently exist for copyholders is if the term was revised back to seven years (or twelve, if I'm feeling generous). Anything older than that should be public domain.

Why seven? Why twelve? Why should they be public domain? Are you just pulling numbers out of your ass?

Life plus seventy is ludicrous, but so is seven years in this day and age. Life of the creator makes the most practical sense to me.
posted by illiad at 11:10 AM on December 22, 2006


Thank you, Maias. That was what I was trying to say--sometimes there is a slippery slope, sometimes there isn't.

And in this case, the slope has already slid all the way from "fourteen years, to be renewed for another fourteen" to "the current age of Mickey Mouse plus ten minutes, to be moved back in perpetuity". Meanwhile, tens of thousands of works that ought to already be part of the public domain are instead disappearing, because the companies that own them allow them to decay rather than restore and release them, and they won't allow anyone else to release them either. Like klangklangston said, there's a hell of a lot of theft going on here, a lot more than a legion of teenage Star Wars III downloaders could ever pull off!

I make a lot of money off something that is my unique creation. And you're suggesting that in seven years, someone should be able to photocopy my work, and make just as much money? Don't be ridiculous.

What do you mean, "ridiculous"? Tell me, if I invent a new sort of thing (say, a disposable paper tissue for people to blow their noses into, or a little plastic stick with a blob of cotton on each end for cleaning your ears, or maybe a pen that carries the ink inside rather than requiring an inkwell), how is it that other people can make the same sort of thing -- even so far as to be practically identical other than my company logo -- and make just as much money? Isn't that ridiculous? And aren't store brands ridiculous, too? And those generic medicines! Why, this is all so entirely ridiculous that I'd rather not be able to buy anything that doesn't come from the first company to ever package and market that particular item, and I'd like this to be rigorously enforced by $10,000 fines!

In short, it blows my mind that people can accept product competition in the marketplace, and at the same time feel that product competition for books or movies would bring about the end of the world. There is product competition for books in the public domain, and last I checked it was still worth printing up and selling a nicely bound volume of Les Miserables, even though anybody can read it for free. Copyright was invented to prevent monopoly on the part of publishers, not to establish it. Why should we embrace eternal copyrights for the benefit of huge publishing megacorps? Read this and tell me with a straight face that copyright, in its modern form, has to do with the rights of creators, as opposed to the rights of corporations!
posted by vorfeed at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2006


In 1790, it became a protection for 14 years, renewable once. And I'd suggest that in seven years, you should write a new book and feel free to copyright that expression. I believe that the speed at which information has become transmittable should reduce the necessity for longer protection, not increase it

So what you're saying is that people who create works which continue to be popular after an arbitrary period of time should no longer make money off their work? That other people should be allowed to merely copy, without expending any effort whatsoever, that work and then make money from it?

That sounds like parasitism, to me.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:24 AM on December 22, 2006


Copyright was invented to prevent monopoly on the part of publishers, not to establish it.

From what I've read, I think it is a little more accurate to say it was invented to protect the investment of publishers, back when printing a book run first became feasible. That investment cost drops all the time.

So what you're saying is that people who create works which continue to be popular after an arbitrary period of time should no longer make money off their work?

That's fine with me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:33 AM on December 22, 2006


"That sounds like parasitism, to me."

Well, yeah, but you're a moralistic idiot. To go all tu quoque, why don't you worry about the RIAA petitioning to have statutory rates reduced? That'll screw a whole lot more artists out of a whole lot more cash than letting stuff go from, say, 1978 (which'd be the longest protection available under the original law).
Hell, if you wanted further compromise, I'd support graduated mandatory licensing for works based on how many decades they've been in play. But I'm going to go ahead and say that either you have an over-romanticized view of artist as auteur, or that you just like the lifetime prohibition on works because it's simple math.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on December 22, 2006


copyright infringement is, indeed, theft in the way most lay people use and understand that word. it isn't the same as the legal definition, but here's an example to clear your thinking.
my publisher just released 100,000 copies of my hot new novel, curtis, the atomic sheep which is positively flying off the shelves at $26.95 per unit. you buy a copy, cut the pages out and use a xerox machine to make another 100 copies, which you sell to people at $10.00 per unit. you just stole $26.95 from me.
why do you wankers expect creative people to work for free? what do you think will happen to the supply of newly written novels in the future if you get your way? this whole "information wants to be free" thing annoys me. maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but i damn well want to get paid for my work, and i will go after people who steal from me.
posted by bruce at 11:39 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


why do you wankers expect creative people to work for free?

Why do you expect my taxes to pay for subsidizing your method of distribution? It is the law, but as a general moral principle, why do you expect that?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:42 AM on December 22, 2006


So what you're saying is that people who create works which continue to be popular after an arbitrary period of time should no longer make money off their work?

That's fine with me.


You're clearly not an artist--of any sort--then. Why should somebody else be able to profit from my hard work, when it costs them nothing to do so? After my death, fine, by all means anything created by me should immediately become public domain. But for the period of my life, it is my creation, and there is no reason why parasites should be able to profit from it.

Tell me, what's your opinion of patent-squatters?

Well, yeah, but you're a moralistic idiot.

Ah. Nicely done. Don't ad hominems immediately destroy any argument you have? Thank you for doing it, then--saves me the time of showing you why you're wrong.

And yes, I think the RIAA trying to have statutory rates reduced is bullshit, and only supportable if the retail cost of recordings drops by the same percentage--and that is only barely supportable.

But what do I know? I'm only an idiot who has made money off his recordings, and doesn't particularly want people making money off my hard work. Of course, that's totally stupid, the idea that my hard work should benefit me. Very, very stupid.

bruce: a round of applause for you, my good man.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:47 AM on December 22, 2006


You're clearly not an artist--of any sort--then.

No, I'm a musician. I am also working on a children's book and draw some comix. I just disagree with you about copyright.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2006


I'd consider you an artist, then.

However, you have the choice to renounce copyright, to go with CC licencing--anything you choose. What you're saying is that everyone has to agree with you when you are perfectly free to assign--or not--copyright to your works in any manner you choose to.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2006


my publisher just released 100,000 copies of my hot new novel, curtis, the atomic sheep which is positively flying off the shelves at $26.95 per unit. you buy a copy, cut the pages out and use a xerox machine to make another 100 copies, which you sell to people at $10.00 per unit. you just stole $26.95 from me.

In case people think bruce's example is entirely hypothetical -- I have, on more than one occasion, been presented with a nicely bound photocopy of one of my in-print works and been asked to sign it and dedicate it to the holder.
posted by Hogshead at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2006


Hogshead, you can't just leave it hanging there. What did you do?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2006


Your failed business model, etc.
posted by signal at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2006


Why so much debate about Freenet being an enabler of copyright infringement? Like all the other anonymizing private networks floating around with plausible deniability as a central feature, it's just too damn slow to be practical for the purpose. Moving anything bigger than ASCII text or a few jpegs is pretty much out of the question.

Last time I looked the textwarez / 2k jpegz scene was nowhere near the center of the debate about rampant piracy and nobody was seriously worried about the horde of broadband consumers taking full advantage of 214 byte per second transfer rates.

As a tool for widespread copyright violation, Freenet has almost all of the downsides of BitTorrent -- end user complexity, terrible swarm startup times, nodes being run by clueless NAT users without working traversal mechanisms, perfectly good sockets being held up by leaf nodes that refuse to transmit blocks -- and none of the actual, practical advantages. Add to that the multiple absurd object addressing schemes, the hideous performance, and the fact that Freenet's distributed file service design makes it utterly useless as an actual network for building services on, and I just can't see where people worrying about artists getting paid should be concerned about Freenet at all.
posted by majick at 11:58 AM on December 22, 2006


So what you're saying is that people who create works which continue to be popular after an arbitrary period of time should no longer make money off their work? That other people should be allowed to merely copy, without expending any effort whatsoever, that work and then make money from it?

That sounds like parasitism, to me.


In the USA, the stated purpose of copyright that swayed the founders from their severe distaste for it, is the greater public good. In the case of copyright, the public good was in encouraging creativity and making the products of that creativity public domain where they can most benefit everyone. Thus, the copyright compromise, that has since been corrupted so that it demonstratbly hurts rather than helps the greater public good.

If a book is still selling, or even popular after (arbitrary period) 14 years, the author most likely had awesome talent (the vast majority of books never make it to even a second printing). Therefore, it is in the interest of the greater public good to 1. Make the talanted author get off his copyright-funded ass and write another great book, and 2. Allow the original book to benefit everyone, via the more competitive price that comes with public domain work.

Compare that to today, extending copyright to life of author (and beyond!) instead hurts the public good, whereby not only is the talent of the hugely successful authors more likely to be lost, due to removing their financial motivation to keep working and contributing, but the talent of the less amazing authors is lost too, because the costs that copyright imposes on reprinting their books means they don't get reprinted until copyright has expired, at which point, every copy of the book ever, has long since turned to dust, lost forever.

Glossing over things like these with ideas of the public being parasites really just undermines the argument for a society expending resources to enforce copyright in the first place - to improve the lot of people in that society.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:09 PM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]



You're clearly not an artist--of any sort--then. Why should somebody else be able to profit from my hard work


Perhaps at this point I should add that I am a professional artist, and the entirety of my income comes from works protected by copyright.

And it is clear to me that modern copyright laws are beyond insane. They are corrupt to the point that they harm the society in which I live, while offering me no additional benefit for that harm and insanity.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2006


What do freedom of speech and copyright law have to do with one another?
The same sorts of factors that can come into play when a court decides whether speech is protected under the First Amendment are also considered in determining whether the fair use defense applies.
posted by exogenous at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2006


Alright ladies and jerks:
"It follows that interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: "Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner," that is, anyone who trespasses into his exclusive domain by using or authorizing the use of the copyrighted work in one of the five ways set forth in the statute, "is an infringer of the copyright."
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, Dowling v. the United States
In summary, there are some pretty useless 'lawyers' in this thread.
posted by Jairus at 12:24 PM on December 22, 2006


I'm not glossing over anything.

Hypothetical: I spend five years of my life working on a book. Sweat, blood, tears, creditors--the whole shebang. The book becomes a classic, the kind of book that people buy year after year. How is it in anyone's interest for someone to start selling, at 12:01am [n] years after I wrote it, photocopies and make money off my hard work?

Lifetime of the artist is perfect. Copyright terminates on death.

The only problem with that being, of course, that people would not only be able to profit from the hard work of others without investing any work of their own, they would become more immediately known for that work. I don't think, however, that is enough to justify extending copyright past death, especially when the copyright is held by a corporation. In that case, I would say 75 years from date of creation, period, no extensions.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2006


What you're saying is that everyone has to agree with you when you are perfectly free to assign--or not--copyright to your works in any manner you choose to.

No I'm not. I'm saying that the technology of cryptography is making the technology of state-enforced copyright at best moot and at worst contrary to it's intended purpose. Also, if this trend continues, I'm sorry, but I just won't miss copyright. I sincerely doubt I will ever lack for books, music, etc. in my life, possibly excepting governmental restrictions on such.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2006


If copyright protection was to terminate on death, I predict we'd see a lot more deaths, and a lot more bad Disney films.
posted by Jairus at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


If Freenet worked well, allowing everyone to quickly and anonymously download whatever the hell they wanted, it would pose a greater threat to free speech than do current copyright laws. You can't have effective political speech if you don't have some way of verifying who it came from. How do you determine the bias of the speaker? How do you determine the truth of what is being said? How do you sort this one piece of information out of the torrential outpour of similar ideas and blatant lies that would make up the rest of the system?

And if you're not willing to stand up and back up what your saying with, at the very least, your name, why should I bother to read it? What good are a bunch of anonymous declarations in China that the Communist Party is bad? There's no way to organize, no way to present the arguments to the people in a persuasive way and--most importantly--no way to determine that some Emmaneul Goldstein character in the party put the article out like a honeypot. A freenet doesn't allow the signal to break free of the noise--it's all noise, and any signal would be irretreivably lost.

Disclaimer: I don't like current copyright law either. 50 years, with an extension to the life of the creator if desired, with a maximum of 100 years in the case of corporate-owned copyrights. I think that's a good compromise.
posted by thecaddy at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2006


Oh, and don't forget that the entire free software movement is just much based on copyright law as anything Microsoft et al. puts out. Without copyright law, you can't write licences for people to use your software that require them to make changes public. Copyright law works on both sides of the aisle, which is exactly how it should be.
posted by thecaddy at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2006


You can't have effective political speech if you don't have some way of verifying who it came from.

Cryptographic signatures can tie a work to a pseudonym while keeping the RL identity of the author private. If you want to get really fancy, you can build a reputation system on top of the nym system. All the problems you describe are solved in principle, not so much yet in practice.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2006


You can't have effective political speech if you don't have some way of verifying who it came from.

This is the dumbest thing I've ever read on this site.

And I remember bunnyfire.
posted by Jairus at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2006


Hey, could you guys please take the useless copyright debate over to the Useless Copyright Debate Room? I think you'll find it right there down the hallway, between the Tiresome Abortion Debate Conference Room and the Futile PC Versus Mac Debate Employee Breakroom.

I'm actually interested in finding out more about this freenet thing, and was hoping that the discussion in this thread would shed some light on the subject so that I could avoid clicking on any of the actual links in the post.

Now, has anyone here actually tried freenet? Does it work? How does it compare to other P2P services?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2006


I sincerely doubt I will ever lack for books, music, etc. in my life, possibly excepting governmental restrictions on such.


Why do you--and everyone--keep ducking my point?

Why should you--generic 'you'--be able to profit, with little to no effort, from my hard work without my permission?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2006


Without copyright law, you can't write licences for people to use your software that require them to make changes public.

Nope, but neither can you be charged with a felony for reverse-engineering a file format.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2006


Why should you--generic 'you'--be able to profit, with little to no effort, from my hard work without my permission?

Why shouldn't generic I? I just don't see authorship as any natural guarantee of income.

And the real point is: the future is now.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:32 PM on December 22, 2006


Why shouldn't generic I? I just don't see authorship as any natural guarantee of income.

Because it's my work. Not yours. If I choose to release it publicly, that's one thing--but to be forced to let anyone make money, with no effort, from what I have done? Please.

And the real point is: the future is now.

wtf is that meaningless platitude supposed to contribute?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2006


but to be forced to let anyone make money, with no effort, from what I have done? Please.

Man, you must hate pensioners.
posted by Jairus at 12:36 PM on December 22, 2006


I didn't think there were enough meaningless platitudes in the thread. Read my other comments.

Copyright is an outdated technology. It arose with the printing press and will die away with the printing press, at least on the large scale.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:37 PM on December 22, 2006


How is it in anyone's interest for someone to start selling, at 12:01am [n] years after I wrote it, photocopies and make money off my hard work?

Firstly, your scenario is so rare as to be all but irrelevant in the real world of the copyright economy. But putting that aside, I don't think you're seeing the numbers. They'd make virtually no money off your work - if they did, someone else would just undercut them. Therefore, the benefit goes to the wider society, both via greater cultural access, and by lighting a financial fire under your ass to make you create another great work.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2006


For anyone who doesn't believe we are on a slippery slope regarding copyright. Let's take a second to look back to the top of the slope (at least from the American perspective):

"The Congress shall have Power [...] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Can anyone tell me how retro-actively extending copyrights on existing works via the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 promoted the creation of new works? The primary effect of this law was to increase the profitability of existing works, and deny those who would like to create derivative works but cannot obtain licensing the ability to create those works for another two decades. Not to mention that allowing retroactive extension of copyrights effectively negates the constitutional requirement that the author may only be given a monopoly for a "limited time".

If only the founders had given a definition of "useful Arts." I sincerly doubt that the RIAA and MPAA would have the power they have today to use the government to harass those that would enjoy the ability to build upon/improve/recreate works created within their lifetimes.
posted by betaray at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2006


"my publisher just released 100,000 copies of my hot new novel, curtis, the atomic sheep which is positively flying off the shelves at $26.95 per unit. you buy a copy, cut the pages out and use a xerox machine to make another 100 copies, which you sell to people at $10.00 per unit. you just stole $26.95 from me."

No, as you have no proof that those other people would have purchased the book at all at $26.95. Instead of stealing, they infringed your right (well, really, your publisher's right) to control the copies circulated of your work.
Theft is what the intellectually lazy and vocabularily-challenged call it.

"why do you wankers expect creative people to work for free? what do you think will happen to the supply of newly written novels in the future if you get your way? this whole "information wants to be free" thing annoys me. maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but i damn well want to get paid for my work, and i will go after people who steal from me."

Right, because that's exactly what I said. And if I get my way, I'd expect the number of novels to be roughly the same in the marketplace. You'd probably have arguments from publishers that they needed to charge more to justify the investment, but as very few writers go into the career for the big bucks, and because the best-sellers don't pay out much in residuals compared to the initial surge, I don't think there'd be a huge difference.

"You're clearly not an artist--of any sort--then. Why should somebody else be able to profit from my hard work, when it costs them nothing to do so? After my death, fine, by all means anything created by me should immediately become public domain. But for the period of my life, it is my creation, and there is no reason why parasites should be able to profit from it."

And this from someone who complains about ad hominem logic? It would figure that you'd know the term but not how to use it: you're making an argument that only artists can understand copyright and benefit from it? By the way, I'm a writer who's been paid for reprints, and I have worked with bands regarding licensing. But hey, you seem to get off on the ad hominem logic (see your recent "Nobody understands my gay feelings" MeTa). Now you'll be able to recognize it when you see it again.

"However, you have the choice to renounce copyright, to go with CC licencing--anything you choose. What you're saying is that everyone has to agree with you when you are perfectly free to assign--or not--copyright to your works in any manner you choose to."

Right, how many musicians have careers with CC licensing? I can't think of any. How many publishers or labels will both turn a profit and allow you to CC your work? None. I thought you were against parasites... How come you wanna prop 'em up?

Further, it's retarded copyright law that restricts new art, like, say, Gilbert O'Sullivan blocking Biz Markee. I'd have a hard time calling Biz a "parasite," but hey, maybe I only call names on Metafilter.
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2006


Why should you--generic 'you'--be able to profit, with little to no effort, from my hard work without my permission?

Why should you profit from enjoying the same infrastructure yet paying less tax than those wealthier than you? The buck doesn't stop at you. You live in a society.

Besides which, copyright law should not be concerned with the vaninishing minority of cases like the one you propose, it should be concerned with being maximally effective. And if being maximally effective means that in 0.01% of cases, someone makes a buck off your work once you've made ten million off it, that's a price well worth paying.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2006


Um, no, Jairus. Pensioners pay into the system--that's how the system works. Nice strawman.

Look, I'm not saying that the current copyright system isn't fucked up. But I think that most of what is being advocated here is going way too far in the opposite direction.

Let me try less of a loaded example:

I'm working on a project at work. I have put in hours above and beyond the call of duty to make this project happen. I am guaranteed a promotion as a result of my hard work.

And then, at the conclusion of the project, when Big Boss comes around to congratulate me, one of my coworkers is standing there and says "Yeah, that was mine..." and receives the rewards. How is that right? Yes, it's not a perfect example, but it comes pretty close.

(And yes, I'm fully aware that people take credit for the work of other people all the time)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2006


Pensioners pay into the system--that's how the system works. Nice strawman.

Boy, you must really hate government-sponsored healthcare for premature babies with leukaemia and rabies, huh?
posted by Jairus at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2006


Hypothetical: I spend five years of my life working on a book. Sweat, blood, tears, creditors--the whole shebang. The book becomes a classic, the kind of book that people buy year after year. How is it in anyone's interest for someone to start selling, at 12:01am [n] years after I wrote it, photocopies and make money off my hard work?

They can quote your magical classic freely; they can make derivative works of your magical classic freely; your magical classic is not tied up in various legal publications snarls that happen all the time and make works unavailable because certain parties that own a piece of it, as happens, are recalcitrant; in short, your magical classic has more of an impact on the broader culture, sooner, which is good because it's more likely to remain relevant. A pretty wide variety of things an artist, as opposed to a narcissist, is likely to value. You also omit the other half of this fairly popular proposition, which should be called something like the Salinger Scenario, since it's so rare: your magical classic is the only thing in you at all that will make you any money and it's your right to be supported for life from just the one magical classic. Not even milking the reputation from the magical classic! No, just the book. So then, why shouldn't the magical classic support your children as well? Their children? Your magical classic can be your magical fiefdom!

I do not see how this scenario applies to most artists and, while I'm not pro-huckster-selling-photocopies either, I find the ramifications of the Salinger Scenario in attitudes towards copyright to be ghoulish and counterproductive towards art.
posted by furiousthought at 12:53 PM on December 22, 2006


Why should somebody else be able to profit from my hard work, when it costs them nothing to do so?

I agree with sonofsamiam. I got into a conversation with someone many years my senior about music sharing recently. He asked me, "how do you justify it? Do you donate money to the artists? Do you only buy from certain labels?"

I thought about it and realized that I don't have to justify it. I don't believe that musicians should necessarily be entitled to payment at all. I say this as a musician. There's a certain intrinsic joy to creating music that renders payment unnecessary.

If someone wants me to pay them money so they can live off of making music, my response is to give them the finger. If they don't love music enough to make it without being paid, then they should just go on and put down their guitars.

It would be like someone saying, I need you to give me money so I can continue having sex with my girlfriend. I've put a lot of time into doing this, and it takes a lot of energy, so I need to be paid for it. Once again I would rather give that person my middle finger.
posted by Laugh_track at 12:54 PM on December 22, 2006


But I think that most of what is being advocated here is going way too far in the opposite direction.

The real question is: what are you or I or anyone else going to do about it?

If copyright gets reformed to be much less crazy, that might disincentivize casual piracy, maybe not. Nevertheless, the tech is here, it's free as in beer, get used to it. It's not going away, nor, think I, should it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2006


And this from someone who complains about ad hominem logic?

I'm sorry.. I wasn't aware that saying someone isn't an artist is an insult. And you say that I'm sensitive?

By the way, I'm a writer who's been paid for reprints, and I have worked with bands regarding licensing.

Yes, you've gone on endlessly about your credentials. And attacked other people about theirs... hmm...

Whatever. I am clearly a moron and am not allowed to have an opinion of my own. Fuck you, asshole, for your hypocrisy.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2006


Boy, you must really hate government-sponsored healthcare for premature babies with leukaemia and rabies, huh?


Boy, you really love saying ridiculous bullshit to try and piss people off, huh?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2006


This is the dumbest thing I've ever read on this site.

Come now. I'm sure I've said dumber things before. I'm sure I'll say dumber things than that in the future. The near future, even. I'm a dumb thing saying machine.
posted by thecaddy at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2006


One more thing:

Because it's my work.

And of course you created your work in total isolation, and all ideas in your work are 100% original. You make no illusions to or rely upon convention created in other works. Your characters are all unique. You never quote anyone or describe anything anyone has ever created before. In fact your entire concept is alien compared to anything anyone has ever seen.

It's rather rude of you to take, at no charge, the entirety of human culture thus far and build your work on that, and then say that your work is somehow special and cannot ever be used by others as you have used the works of those that came before you.

Now, given the flaws of captialism, I agree that limited copyright is a good compromise, but please realize that anything that you might create is only possible because of those that came before you.

"We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size."
posted by betaray at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2006


Boy, you really love saying ridiculous bullshit to try and piss people off, huh?

I do.

However, I much prefer saying ridiculous bullshit to illustrate just how ridiculous and how bullshit your argument is.
posted by Jairus at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2006


Jairus, if my argument is bullshit, then so is yours. We both believe some sort of copyright is necessary--we just have different arbitrary cutoff times.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2006


"And then, at the conclusion of the project, when Big Boss comes around to congratulate me, one of my coworkers is standing there and says "Yeah, that was mine..." and receives the rewards. How is that right? Yes, it's not a perfect example, but it comes pretty close."

Yeah, because right now people are claiming that they wrote Hamlet. That's a totally apt analogy, if you're willing to ignore all common sense.

"Yes, you've gone on endlessly about your credentials. And attacked other people about theirs... hmm...

Whatever. I am clearly a moron and am not allowed to have an opinion of my own. Fuck you, asshole, for your hypocrisy."

Hold on, chief. You make this all about artists versus non-artists (who can't understand their plight), and then try to get uppity when you're not the only snowflake in the room? And the opinions thing? For a musician, you're awfully one-note.
Perhaps you can have a good cry about how the bad copyleft folk are oppressing you noble creators.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on December 22, 2006


"Jairus, if my argument is bullshit, then so is yours. We both believe some sort of copyright is necessary--we just have different arbitrary cutoff times."

And his is justified from an argument in which all of society benefits; yours is justified by some martyrdom bullshit and a lot of outrage. Might that be why his is more compelling to everyone but you?
posted by klangklangston at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2006


The difference is that you think it's necessary to protect your 'right' to commercial exploitation, while I think it's necessary to provide incentive to produce works for the public.

...and on this, the Supreme Court is clear: "The limited scope of the copyright holder's statutory monopoly . . . reflects a balance of competing claims upon the public interest: Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts. The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an 'author's' creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good."
posted by Jairus at 1:13 PM on December 22, 2006


I didn't say 'can't understand', and I would fucking thank you very fucking much for not putting fucking words in my fucking mouth. I am sick to fucking death of people doing that here.

I also never said anything about oppression--MORE words you're putting in my mouth.

Take your intellectual dishonesty elsewhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2006


The difference is that you think it's necessary to protect your 'right' to commercial exploitation, while I think it's necessary to provide incentive to produce works for the public.

..so, in other words, it's exactly the same result? Jesus Christ.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2006


..so, in other words, it's exactly the same result? Jesus Christ.

No, it most demonstrably is not the same result. Counter examples abound in this thread. Retroactive extensions, for example.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2006


No, harlequin, try to pay attention.

Jairus and I have differing reasons for copyright reform. We both want copyright reform--though it would seem that his is more extreme.

As well, I've already said--no, really, do try and pay attention--that there shouldn't be extensions.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2006


I think I'm paying better attention than you. The point stands - a foundation for commerical exploitation does not acheive the same result.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2006


Why should you--generic 'you'--be able to profit, with little to no effort, from my hard work without my
permission?


Perhaps because nothing you've ever done is original? Everything you make is based on the work or experience of others, and yet you don't "pay" these people. You walk around the Met, for example, and come up with an idea for a book after wandering through some of the renaissance rooms. You don't even consider this influence enough to credit it in the preface of your book, but it's there nonetheless.
posted by odinsdream at 1:37 PM on December 22, 2006


for pete's sake ... these laws aren't enforcable anyway

tax the hardware to pay the artists ... is that so hard to think of?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:45 PM on December 22, 2006


Everything you make is based on the work or experience of others, and yet you don't "pay" these people.

There's a huge difference between putting a derivative idea on paper in your own words and photocopying someone else's work. In the former case, at least some creative work was involved. In the latter, the only creative work might be in the colour of paper chosen to stack in the Xerox machine.

Also, this "you ain't done nuthin' original" argument doesn't address non-fiction works. Historians, for example, can spend years of research putting together a useful tome on a given subject. None of their work is "original," but there's still a hell of a lot more involved than just ripping out pages and running them through the feeder.

Copyright is good for the life of the creator. Anything else smacks of an "I want to get stuff for free" agenda.
posted by illiad at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2006


You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law.
In the same sense, you cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce slander and libel law.
posted by Flunkie at 2:20 PM on December 22, 2006


illiad, anything else smacks of "I don't like Paris Hilton and artists who act similarly." Or in other words, fine, live off your one work for 10 to 20 years, but if you want to continue to make money, do something else worthwhile!

There is a reason patents don't last for the life of their creator, and neither should copyrights last that long.

Creating something when you are twenty does not and should not guarantee you a free ride for the rest of your life. Nor should you (and your heirs) be out of luck because you don't write the big novel until a couple of years before you die. Fixed terms, good, "life of the author" not so much, IMO.

Is it really too much to ask for you to come up with a new idea a few times in your life if you want to make a living on your ideas? You're still a lot better off than the wage slaves, after all!

Besides, if you want to keep your original work in copyright, all you must do is improve it in some way, make it a new work and voila, another 20 years! Design a new cover for your book, with a pretty picture or something. Make people want to get the original and support you, rather than being one of those people who thinks the world owes them for their hard work.

You always have the option of not writing books, making music, or whatever else it is that you want copyright for.

The natural state of things is for you to not have the protections of copyright. Don't you think that the rest of our society deserves something in exchange for giving you that protection.
posted by wierdo at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2006


You can also find lots of kiddie porn on Freenet.
It should also be noted that using Freenet means that a portion of your hard drive will be taken for content, and that you have no control over what content that is. If there's lots of kiddie porn on Freenet, then using Freenet means there may be kiddie porn on your hard drive.

From their FAQ:
I don't want my node to be used to harbor child porn, offensive content or terrorism. What can I do?

The true test of someone who claims to believe in Freedom of Speech is whether they tolerate speech which they disagree with, or even find disgusting. If this is not acceptable to you, you should not run a Freenet node.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but what I take from this is:

If having child pornography on your hard drive is not acceptable to you, you should not run a Freenet node.
posted by Flunkie at 2:43 PM on December 22, 2006


If having child pornography on your hard drive is not acceptable to you, you should not run a Freenet node.

That's about right.
posted by Jairus at 2:46 PM on December 22, 2006


Copyright is good for the life of the creator. Anything else smacks of an "I want to get stuff for free" agenda.

Firstly, putting a bounty on the heads of creators is hardly good for society. I suggest instead a "productive life" term, such as forty years, being approximately the term of an average person's first years of active income generation through to their last. So if a copyright creator randomly happens to die well prior to the expiry of the term, their dependents are not disadvantaged.

Secondly, a lot of "creators" are immortal corporations. Corporate law does not need to further advantage collective action over individual action; it is already in the nature of action itself to do that. How or when does a corporation die? Can it sell its copyrights? What happens if it changes its corporate identity?

My preferred approach is a variant of Lessig's nominal renewal fee system, where the fee for commercial copyright lodgement is set at 1/10,000th of the declared value of the copyright, which in turn, affects the rate of compulsory licencing, and caps the rate of redress for violations. So long as the copyright holder, be it corporation or person, wants to renew the copyright, then so be it, it is renewed.

Why should you--generic 'you'--be able to profit, with little to no effort, from my hard work without my
permission?


The reason why is this. If Freddie and only Freddie is able to profit from the FreddieTron, forever and ever (and a human lifetime as compared to another human's lifetime equates to approximately one half of forever, in this context), then society as a whole makes $x profit from the FreddieTron. Various regimes of copyright and patent law, and licensing law for these, would allow society as a whole to make $y profit from the FreddieTron, and affect Freddie's profit by $z (presumed to be negative). So, designing copyright law becomes an exercise in maximizing the value of $x + $y + $z.

If we all as a whole could extract more value from a zero law system (ie, no copyright whatsoever, the natural state of human thought) than we could from a system of limited rights, then so be it. The argument isn't about the feelings of Freddie, but his rights.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:47 PM on December 22, 2006


The real question is: what are you or I or anyone else going to do about it?

The first thing people on the "left" of any debate need to do is to get their opponents to articulate a clear position.

This means stripping down all the "bullshit" layers of both sides of a debate, so you have one person making one statement, and another person making the exact opposite statement.

One side (the side I am not on) seems to think that copyright infringement is theft and downloaders should be punished. Well, why? What would happen if downloaders were given free reign to take all the music they want?
posted by Laugh_track at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2006


If someone wants me to pay them money so they can live off of making music, my response is to give them the finger. If they don't love music enough to make it without being paid, then they should just go on and put down their guitars.

Story goes that once upon a time the dancers at the NYCity ballet went to George Balanchine saying they needed more money. He said much the same thing as above, that they were doing what they loved in the most beautiful possible setting and that it was silly of them to ask for anything more.

Wish I had an epilogue, but I got the story second hand. Hard to see Mr B as the hero and the dancers finger worthy, though. At least, not to my up-the-workers mindset.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:54 PM on December 22, 2006


There is a reason patents don't last for the life of their creator, and neither should copyrights last that long.

Patents and copyrights do not operate the same way though. A patent is used to protect an industrial process, or an idea. A copyright is simply protection of the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

I too believe that a creator should continue creating to earn a living, but a creator should also have the option of protecting his original work from the depredations of the process masters. If I write a SF novel in a rich, complex universe that took me years to research and build, I should hope I'd have ownership of that universe for the rest of my life should I decide to write further novels based in that universe. By definition, my work would be the canon for that universe, and when I passed away another author or the public could continue building on what I did.

I think the argument of the 20 year-old novelist living off his one work for the rest of his life is a bit of a weak one. Anyone who has been published is sorely aware that of the hundreds of thousands, nay millions, of people who can put "published author" on their resumes, only a few dozen can afford to live off their one successful work. The reality is that writers do continue creating to earn a living, because they have to.

Make people want to get the original and support you, rather than being one of those people who thinks the world owes them for their hard work.

Good heavens, I have never suggested this. Creators don't have any more "right" to be creators than anyone else. On the same note, the creator should have more rights over his own work than Joe Public.

The natural state of things is for you to not have the protections of copyright. Don't you think that the rest of our society deserves something in exchange for giving you that protection.

Natural state of things? Yeesh, if you want to go down that route I could argue that the "natural" state of things is that if I can overpower you I deserve to take your wallet. And yes, the public deserves for my work to go into PD as a payment -- after I die.
posted by illiad at 2:56 PM on December 22, 2006


There are no real fires or crowded theaters on the internet.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:56 PM on December 22, 2006


Natural state of things? Yeesh, if you want to go down that route I could argue that the "natural" state of things is that if I can overpower you I deserve to take your wallet.

Actually, that is the natural state of things. Despite being coopted by marketers of produce etc, "natural" is not necessarily desireable or good.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2006


I suggest instead a "productive life" term, such as forty years, being approximately the term of an average person's first years of active income generation through to their last.

aeschenkarnos, that's the first reasonable suggestion I've seen in this thread from the "kill copyright" side of the debate. I could get behind that. Nicely done.

I'm actually pretty centrist about this issue. No copyright would harm the creative industry, and copyright as it is only benefits the corporations.
posted by illiad at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2006


It'll be a little easier for me to sleep tonight knowing that lawyers such as Ironmouth are out there, defending all those starving artists in their desire to commodify anything they might produce.

When I create something wonderful, whether it be a drawing, a small film, a fucking paper airplane that just seems perfect, it is the bliss of creation i'm looking for. Beyond money, beyond the ability to quit my 9 to 5, art is what gives my being expression and meaning.

To be a professional artist is to sell that bliss of yours for 29.99 down at the local botique. When the transaction is done, you've got your money, and that's about it.

Any lawyer, Especially any IP lawyer, arguing that what they do protects artists is quite obviously someone who has never met a good artist.

My real job starts when I get home from work, and I rarely get paid for it. If I do, it is because someone just really likes what I have done and can't help but give me money for it. I trade my work for their money, but I also get to keep their joy, and thus the bliss the work originally created for me.

Copyright commodifies this bliss, destroys it, and sells it to us through Amazon. (I'm not even going to go into how much work the private sector has stolen and copyrighted from the public domain).
posted by weary at 4:44 PM on December 22, 2006


Oh, and I'm not calling myself a good artist, either. But I've met a few along the way...
posted by weary at 4:45 PM on December 22, 2006


aeschenkarnos, that's the first reasonable suggestion I've seen in this thread from the "kill copyright" side of the debate. I could get behind that. Nicely done.

I think that the length of term would be best determined via studies of the relevant markets. If the average hit album earnings breaks down like so:

Year 1: 35% of total expected earnings
Year 2: 50%
Year 3: 65%
Year 5: 70%
Year 10: 80%
Year 20: 85%
Year 40: 95%
Year 50: 97%

...then I'd support a 20-year copyright protection limit, because that's where the time/sales curve flattens out, even if there's a tail.
posted by Jairus at 4:49 PM on December 22, 2006


Flunkie writes "From their FAQ:
I don't want my node to be used to harbor child porn, offensive content or terrorism. What can I do?

"The true test of someone who claims to believe in Freedom of Speech is whether they tolerate speech which they disagree with, or even find disgusting. If this is not acceptable to you, you should not run a Freenet node.
"


There's believing in free speech, and then there's waiting for the SWAT team to break down your door at 3am, having your name dragged through the mud, and going to jail for a long time.

There's also tacitly supporting the abuse of children. That's not a free speech issue. That's a human rights issue.

Laugh_track writes "One side (the side I am not on) seems to think that copyright infringement is theft and downloaders should be punished. Well, why? What would happen if downloaders were given free reign to take all the music they want?"

Well that would be a whole different kettle of fish, obviously. Same as...say... fucking around on your significant other (downloading pirated music/movies/etc) is cheating. Unless you've agreed that it isn't (because it's under a CC licecne, or freely released, or whatnot).

illiad writes "I suggest instead a 'productive life' term, such as forty years, being approximately the term of an average person's first years of active income generation through to their last.

"aeschenkarnos, that's the first reasonable suggestion I've seen in this thread from the 'kill copyright' side of the debate. I could get behind that. Nicely done."


Indeed it is. And unlike all the other arguments, it doesn't smack of "Waaaaaahhh but I WANNA". Intelligent, thoughtful... and if my MP proposed it, they'd probably be getting my vote next time around.

weary writes "When I create something wonderful, whether it be a drawing, a small film, a fucking paper airplane that just seems perfect, it is the bliss of creation i'm looking for."

Yes... that is what you are looking for, and you have the right to do so. You don't have the right to force all other artists to do the same.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2006


I'd support a 20-year copyright protection limit, because that's where the time/sales curve flattens out, even if there's a tail

Of course, there are cases where the artist's one hit gets revived after the twenty years, makes big money that the artist never sees even thought said artist has hit hard times. (Cf comments earlier on Ahmet Ertegun and how he treated some of his lesser discoveries in their later, leaner years.)

Likewise, authors who only start seeing the fruits of their long careers at the end.

As to lifetime protection - can we throw a bone to the widows and widowers? Just a thought.

Finally, surprised no one has mentioned Samuel Johnson's immortal dictum: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money"

Greetings, fellow blockheads!
posted by IndigoJones at 7:23 PM on December 22, 2006


Of course, there are cases where the artist's one hit gets revived after the twenty years, makes big money that the artist never sees even thought said artist has hit hard times. (Cf comments earlier on Ahmet Ertegun and how he treated some of his lesser discoveries in their later, leaner years.)

The good done to the public domain by the vast amount of material becoming accessible would far outweigh the harm done by the very rare person who has a hit fifty years after it's written, and cannot leverage that into record sales without copyright protection.
posted by Jairus at 7:57 PM on December 22, 2006


dirtynumbangelboy: I disagree completely with what I read you as saying about copyright. I could, partially, see where you're coming from if there was a true correlation between creator< ->copyright ownership, but there absolutely isn't.

Your most telling quote is:
but for the period of my life, it is my creation, and there is no reason why parasites should be able to profit from it.

Oh really? What about if you were a salaried writer/photographer/animator/etc, and all your copyright was assigned to the company. How long should it last for then? The people who own copyright are parasites just as much as your hypothetical freeloaders.

Make no mistake: the vast, vast majority of all copyrighted works created today are being created by employees for companies. That is who benefits from copyright protection, not the artist. And that is why it badly needs reform. Why should a company get to benefit from essentially generic labour for 75+ years?

What's more: I don't see what's so special about creativity that one expression of it should repay your boss endlessly. Sure, it takes a while to churn out a piece of work, so protect the income from it for a reasonable period of time -- 10 years, whatever. But life? Why?

The braker has to make new bread each morning. The carpenter can't make one bench and resell it forever. Neither can artists.
posted by bonaldi at 8:35 PM on December 22, 2006


The good done to the public domain by the vast amount of material becoming accessible would far outweigh the harm done by the very rare person who has a hit fifty years after it's written, and cannot leverage that into record sales without copyright protection.

And by the same reasoning, the argument that Joe One-in-a-Million Author who writes a hit in his twenties and lives like a king off his work for life shouldn't be a held up as the reason for killing copyright entirely. The ends of a pendulum swing never reflect the truth. Let's go for something down the middle, where creators can decently benefit from their work and the public gets their due after, what was it? Forty years.

Now we just need a way to make copyright infringement really hurt, even when one infringes against the little guy who doesn't have a huge record label backing him. If one were to rip off an artist, maybe one's wages should be garnished for a while. Yeah, I like that.
posted by illiad at 8:40 PM on December 22, 2006


The braker has to make new bread each morning.

If you're equating the creative process with following a recipe, I invite you to try drawing a cartoon strip once a day, every day, 365 days a year, colour on Sundays. Or writing a new tune every single day. The baker's customers expect the bread to taste the same every time they buy it. A creator's audience is looking for something different each time they read a book, a column, a cartoon, or listen to a track.

Baking is, heh, a cookie-cutter business. Creative works are by their nature, not.
posted by illiad at 8:44 PM on December 22, 2006


bonaldi writes "Oh really? What about if you were a salaried writer/photographer/animator/etc, and all your copyright was assigned to the company. How long should it last for then? The people who own copyright are parasites just as much as your hypothetical freeloaders."

That's work-for-hire. Want to write the Great American Novel? Great! Do it on your time. Finance that time however you like. If that financing is because you're an admittedly brilliant copywriter producing something for someone else, also great! Just don't make the mistake of thinking that what you do at work is yours.

or, to put it another way: if you're a gardener, you can make your garden the absolute pinnacle of the landscaping art. You can create something that is so unbelievably beautiful, people will come from all over the world to see it, and it would be fair for you to charge them money for doing so, and retain the rights to it.

If I hire you to do my garden, it's mine. You merely provided a service. if you don't like those terms, that's fine--nobody is forcing you to sign that contract.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:01 PM on December 22, 2006


Oh, and if you'll look more closely, I did provide an answer upthread: 75 years from date of creation would be a reasonable time limit, I think, for corporately-owned copyrights. Maybe even 50--I could totally be fine with that.

And no extensions. None.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:03 PM on December 22, 2006


not if you're making cartoons out of breaded figures
posted by localhuman at 9:06 PM on December 22, 2006


Baking is, heh, a cookie-cutter business. Creative works are by their nature, not.
Sometimes, they're both (I work in a newspaper :).

That's work-for-hire. Want to write the Great American Novel? Great! Do it on your time.
Yes, but I think you're missing my point. It's not so much that copyright should exist to protect the auteur who strikes out to create something of genius; it's that the whole notion has been so utterly devalued by the companies who scalp the majority of copyrighted earnings that your Great Artists are practically edge cases.

75 years from date of creation would be a reasonable time limit, I think, for corporately-owned copyrights. Maybe even 50--I could totally be fine with that.
See, to me this is absolutely parasitical behaviour. If a creative work is going to recoup the investment in its creation, in general it either does it very quickly, or it doesn't. Ever. What possible reasoning do you have for companies keeping it from the public domain (which is a Bad Thing for society) for 75 years? I just can't see how that's in any way "reasonable".
posted by bonaldi at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2006


If a creative work is going to recoup the investment in its creation, in general it either does it very quickly, or it doesn't. Ever.

Tell that to the countless painters whose works become valuable the instant they pass away. ;-)
posted by illiad at 9:29 PM on December 22, 2006


bonaldi writes "What possible reasoning do you have for companies keeping it from the public domain (which is a Bad Thing for society) for 75 years? I just can't see how that's in any way 'reasonable'."


Avg life expectancy, though aeschenkarmos' 40 years is probably a lot more reasonable. Essentially, model corporate copyright after personal copyright.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2006


...because you can't really copy paintings!
posted by furiousthought at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2006


(to illiad, above, obviously. Also I'm pretty sure you can count the number of painters whose works become valuable the instant they pass away. I am available to pick further nits upon request)
posted by furiousthought at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2006


And by the same reasoning, the argument that Joe One-in-a-Million Author who writes a hit in his twenties and lives like a king off his work for life shouldn't be a held up as the reason for killing copyright entirely.

That's not my reasoning for killing copyright. 40 years is arbitrary. A term defined by maximum profit in a statistically significant timeframe is not, and serves the public good.

I don't agree at all that the penalties for infringement should be harsher than they are now. People are already losing their life savings because their kids downloaded a Britney Spears mp3.
posted by Jairus at 9:49 PM on December 22, 2006


I don't agree at all that the penalties for infringement should be harsher than they are now. People are already losing their life savings because their kids downloaded a Britney Spears mp3.

I didn't suggest that they become harsher in general, just harsher for a specific case, where an independent creator is ripped off by some dork who doesn't want to pay for someone else's blood, sweat and tears.

Anyone who claims that it's only the public being harmed by the way things are with copyright is simply not paying attention to the plight of the independent artist.
posted by illiad at 11:46 PM on December 22, 2006


So to get the anonymous ability to steal music you have to let someone potentially put kiddie porn onto your hard drive and make you liable to arrest, prison rape and sex offender registration? Yeah, that sounds like a plan.
posted by caddis at 1:58 AM on December 23, 2006


Anyone who claims that it's only the public being harmed by the way things are with copyright is simply not paying attention to the plight of the independent artist.

I am an independent artist.
posted by Jairus at 1:59 AM on December 23, 2006


I can't tell from the fairly anemic FAQ, but doesn't Freenet encrypt the files in its directory, thus you're never sure of what you're really sharing? If so, that would kinda put the kibosh on the "arest, prison rape, and sex offender registration" issue.

As to the copyright issue, we can certainly look back at what the founding fathers had in mind regarding trademark, copyright, and patents, and it's clearly a system that has tipped over in favor of commercial (and now corporate) interests.

As to the "downloading music is theft," "hacking is electronic trespass," these are all very old legal arguments made because, well, nobody quite knew what to charge anyone with, but, damnit, they wanted to press charges. So they found the most convenient, nearby legal definition and attempted to warp reality to match. Next up, if I hack your computer and place a file called "penis.jpg" on your computer, it's rape!

Downloading music is copyright infringement, not theft. When something is stolen, the original owner no longer has access to it. There's a certain level of sophistry in then claiming that what someone has done is steal potential profits. If I wrote an article called "Christina Aguilera Is a Vapid Bint Who Seeks Only to Look Like More Popular Female Stars," and this resulted in a huge backlash against her, she's lost potential profit. Have I then stolen from her? Nope. What about people who download something they would not have bought? Or how about a CD that they wouldn't have paid list for, but only $4 at a pawn shop? Artists don't get resale money (although some have tried to get laws passed preventing resale JUST to ensure that income stream). If I would have only bought it at a pawn shop, haven't I really stolen from the pawn shop owner? The "theft of potential profit" fails mightily.

Remember, this is the very same industry who wanted to tell us that home taping is killing music, that the VCR was the Boston Strangler, etc. "Downloading music is theft" is exactly the kind of very simple, completely wrong message they'd like you to buy - right along with another shiny disc freshly pressed with music from ... what is the name of the female artist we're promoting this week? The blonde one? No, the other blonde one. No, not that one, either. Anyway ...

Now, I do believe musicians (and I do mean musicians, not Vast Corporate Conglomerate which mysteriously can't track down artists and won't pay artists their share of webcast revenues) should get for their work, for some reasonable period of time, and I have in mind some awful, strange potential solution for that, but that's not relevant at this moment. And I also believe that, if we were all passing around DRM-free FLACs zipped up with liner notes and TIFFs of 300dpi scans of all of the album artwork, musicians would definitely suffer in the long haul (and please don't try to sell me on the "they should just tour and sell coffee mugs" angle), but stupid legislation is not the answer. Nor is automated law enforcement, for reasons I've already outlined above.

And this brings us back to Freenet. Yes, bad stuff (whatever your bad stuff is, could be text copies of The Satanic Bible) could be on your hard drive. And you would have contributed to the big, scary bugaboo. So what? I pay taxes. My taxes build roads. On those roads people transport illegal drugs, drive to Senate meetings where they regularly burn little bits of the Constitution, and probably kidnap children. I have, in some small way, contributed to all of those problems, just by paying my taxes. My taxes have been (and will be for the rest of my life) going to killing people in a little country called Iraq. It's called society, and just by being in it, you're helping make other people miserable. Tough nubbies. You're never gonna get your hands clean, Lady Macbeth.
posted by adipocere at 5:55 AM on December 23, 2006


adipocere writes "If so, that would kinda put the kibosh on the 'arest, prison rape, and sex offender registration' issue."

adipocere writes "My taxes have been (and will be for the rest of my life) going to killing people in a little country called Iraq. It's called society, and just by being in it, you're helping make other people miserable. Tough nubbies. You're never gonna get your hands clean, Lady Macbeth."

Ummm... there's kind of a difference between paying for roads which are good for everybody and happen to be used for crime sometimes, and tacitly supporting the rape and abuse of children. With the former, the good vastly outweighs the potential negative uses to which it can be put; there is no defence of the latter, and no good comes to society because people can have free access to child pornography.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:32 AM on December 23, 2006


Uh, no. Roads are generally good for everybody, happen to be used for crime sometimes. Freenet is for free speech, especially in places with human rights issues ... and so is generally good for everybody, and happens to be used for crime sometimes.

It's Freenet, not Mmm-Mmmmm-Boogeyman-Net.
posted by adipocere at 7:33 AM on December 23, 2006


Oh please, I'm not subject to the OH GOD PAEDOPHILE BOOGEYMEN EVERYWHERE panic.

But:

1) Kiddie porn is on Freenet
2) You have to give up some of your hard drive if you want to belong
3) Kiddie porn is likely to be on your hard drive

This is bad on its face. There is no rational defence of child pornography. (I am not getting into a debate about arbitrary age of consent cutoffs. Let's assume for the sake of argument we're talking about prepubescents/peripubescents).

Free speech good! Kiddie porn bad. As much as their aims are truly laudable, Freenet is unsupportable in my books.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:58 AM on December 23, 2006


1) Crime occurs on roads.
2) You have to give up some of your taxes if you want roads.
3) Crime is likely to occur because of your taxes.

Transportation good! Drug trafficking and kidnapping bad. As much as their aims are truly laudable, taxes for the transportation system is unsupportable in my books.
posted by adipocere at 8:26 AM on December 23, 2006


3) Kiddie porn is likely to be on your hard drive

and with that you can go to jail. The other inmates really love kiddie porn collecters. I am sure they will understand the sublties of why you are not one. If you make it out alive, then you get to spend the rest of your life as a registered sex offender.
posted by caddis at 8:26 AM on December 23, 2006


'cept I think (like I said before, I can't tell due to the help wiki being down and the poor FAQ) that all of the documents you're serving are encrypted. So, no. Also, you're arguing over punishment instead of what you think is right. Number three could easily read "Copies of the Christian Bible are likely to be on your hard drive" and "inmates in those $randomoppressivemiddleeasterncountry really love Christians."
posted by adipocere at 8:35 AM on December 23, 2006


thus you're never sure of what you're really sharing? If so, that would kinda put the kibosh on the "arest, prison rape, and sex offender registration" issue.

You missed the part where there would be an investigation; your family, friends, co-workers, boss, and quite likely the world at large would know too, since reporters love writing about these kinds of stories. By the time the police were finished your reputation, job &c could be in ruins.

'sides which I'm not entirely convinced that being ignorant of what your transmitting will be enough to keep you out of jail.
posted by squeak at 8:41 AM on December 23, 2006


... I guess people don't really, uh, understand.

Exactly HOW THE HELL IS ANYONE GONNA START AN INVESTIGATION ON YOU?

As far as I know, and correct me if I'm wrong, are police currently scanning the Internet for people running Freenet, then issuing arrest warrants? No? Then what's the worry?

But let's suppose they do! So, they see you're running Freenet, they grab your computer and "Files in the data store are encrypted to reduce the likelihood of prosecution by persons wishing to censor Freenet content." They see a bunch of encrypted files that you don't have the key to and ... it's over.

I know people get all hysterical when you mention $boogeyman, but try to come back to reality a bit. You'd have to somehow convince The Law that everyone running Freenet should be arrested and then prosecuted for something that is unprovable, since they can't figure out what's on the hard drive.
posted by adipocere at 8:50 AM on December 23, 2006


And, squeak, if being ignorant of what you're transmitting isn't enough to keep you out of jail, well, goodbye WiFi, Cisco, and every ISP on the planet.
posted by adipocere at 9:08 AM on December 23, 2006


technical question: freenet grows by "trusted references", suppose some of those references were actually law enforcement moles. how many would it take to roll up the whole system? just one?
posted by bruce at 9:17 AM on December 23, 2006


Something to consider in paranoia calibration is that the largest possessor and distributor of kiddie porn online is the US government (cite: internet folklore.)

Also: what is legal today might not be legal tomorrow. New laws can be passed, but there's no reason not to suppose that current ones won't be applied and interpreted in a grossly different manner one day.

Which is why Cryptography Counts! *musical fill*
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2006


1) Kiddie porn is on Freenet
2) You have to give up some of your hard drive if you want to belong
3) Kiddie porn is likely to be on your hard drive


You mean "3) bitstrings so encrypted that they can, if given the correct key, be re-assembled with other bitstrings from other, unidentifiable servers into kiddie porn image files in such a way that you are unaware the entire time of what is being requested and transmitted might be on your computer."

This would be the case for any similarly secure distributed file system. Don't the big kiddie porn dealers (and warez hustlers) use burned DVDs in the post?

'sides which I'm not entirely convinced that being ignorant of what your transmitting will be enough to keep you out of jail.

Me neither, entirely. Ian Clarke himself was concerned about it, apparently.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:54 AM on December 23, 2006


every ISP on the planet.

True, ISP's might not held liable for the content they transmit. But I'm not an information transmission medium aka ISP, I just use one.

And I understand. I just don't agree. There are some lines I don't ever want to cross like sharing disk space on my hard drive which may or may not include child porn.
posted by squeak at 10:36 AM on December 23, 2006


And that's fine, as long as you're willing to admit that, by paying taxes, you're paying for roads on which horrible things happen. If you hadn't thought about it before, you know about it now. From here on out, prior to your tax filing, remember that your taxes go to pay for all kinds of things you don't agree with. And somehow, that line is different. I really didn't want my taxes going towards rape and attempted cover-ups in Iraq. If I decide that's my "line," then I should no longer pay taxes. What I'm getting at is that, in almost every cooperative effort beyond a certain size, your contribution will in some way sponsor things you find abhorrent. Welcome to society.
posted by adipocere at 11:22 AM on December 23, 2006


« Older Giveaway of the Day   |   A.S.S. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post