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Streaming/Downloading Sophistry/Duality · Wednesday August 20, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Ian Betteridge is bothered.

He’s immensely irritated by those ‘assholes’ who give good businesses grief by being big and clever – or not.

In this case, the business suffering from grief – in the form of RIAA’s litigious attention – is Muxtape, an online service that simulates the liberty we used to enjoy in recording great music from the radio receiver or Gramophone records onto Compact Cassette tapes in the privacy of our own homes.

Fortunately, some kind coders realised they could greatly improve the service by enabling people to actually make recordings, rather than just pretend they did. There is no harm in this, after all, Muxtape remains unaffected. The same information is sent to users as normal, it’s just that thanks to neat scripts the users actually get to hold the cassette tapes they so lovingly made in their grubby little hands. The digits in their digits, as it were.

So, strangely, just because of this user enhancement, completely beyond the control of Muxtape, the RIAA is leaning on it. Because the RIAA does that sort of thing – to protect its monopolies concerning who gets to make recordings.

It seems Ian Betteridge blames those who improved Muxtape, rather than those monopolists who would prefer it remained a sham, remained a child’s toy as in “Let’s pretend we’re making recordings”, and “Let’s pretend the cassette tape on the screen is actually real”, rather than a useful tool for adults.

I disagree and suggest that we should not blame those who add value just because it upsets those who’d rather that value not be added.

Moreover, on the subject of assholes, these aren’t those big and clever coders who recognise the technical insignificance of the difference between ‘streaming’ and ‘downloading’, but those luddite legislators who decided that the law should recognise a significant difference. The same digital bits are communicated. The law simply holds that their different names, in indicating a different metaphor, distinguish between the delivery of a copy of a recording and its recordable transmission. This reveals the law to be an ass when it comes to the communication of information. It is folly to shoehorn the Internet into metaphors of inked paper and telegraph.

Revealing this anachronistic sophistry may well upset devout believers in a digital distribution/transmission duality. It is also likely to cause political and litigious grief to those businesses attempting to rely upon it – this technically insignificant, but legislatively critical distinction. However, there’s a greater cause at stake than just avoiding any erosion of a fragile metaphor that might bring little businesses to the bullying attentions of their bigger brothers.

The moral imperative of our time is to abolish these mercantile privileges of monopoly, that not only allow corporate bullying and extortion between businesses, but also allow corporations to persecute individual members of the public should they fail to accept the suspension of their cultural liberty.

Having the streaming/downloading sophistry revealed is an inevitability for all businesses, large or small, YouTube or MuxTape. Those entrepreneurs in this field will be technically astute enough to understand the fragile, technically insignificant, though legally significant, difference between streaming user uploaded works and file sharing. It is not the responsibility of the public to cooperate in maintaining any pretence or archaic law: that, of the music legitimately communicated to them, some bits they may keep, some bits they should discard, some bits they may copy, and some bits they should not.

So, rather than admonish people for pointing out the elephant in the room, they should be commended, for the sooner the law finally recognises it the better.

Free speech is free communication of one’s own or another’s published intellectual works, whether by voice, morse code, or TCP/IP, and whether by physical delivery of paper, piano roll, magnetic tape, acetate discs, or memory stick, and without grant of monopoly over any particular pattern or arrangement of expression.

Ian Betteridge said 5588 days ago :

But Crosbie, producing something which ensures that a product will no longer exist is, in the real world, not improving it. It’s breaking it.

Adults take responsibility for their actions. The scripters do not.

Crosbie Fitch said 5588 days ago :

If you gave one of your neighbour’s kids an MP3 player and later found that they’d been mugged by the bullies at school for it, I can tell you’d blame yourself for being so negligent and irresponsible in causing them such harm.

Privileged corporate bullies may be such an inescapable part of the commercial infrastructure in your world that their bullying is always the fault of the victim (or those that bring the victim to the bully’s attention), but in my world, I believe the bully should be the one to take responsibility for their actions, and for the privileges that so iniquitously empower them to be called into question.

Ian Betteridge said 5588 days ago :

If I gave my neighbour’s kid an MP3 player, nothing in that act would enable the mugging. If I gave the muggers a knife, it would. See the difference?

Xanthir, FCD said 5588 days ago :

Ian: Correct, it certainly would make a difference. Could you now explain why you are implying that the coders produced a knife rather than an MP3 player, and that they then handed this knife to the RIAA?

The knife the RIAA is holding is copyright law, and it was handed to them by Congress (after excessive begging by the RIAA’s lobbyists). Crosbie is correct in that the coders simply produced something which made Muxtape a more attractive target. They did not produce the weapon used in the assault.

The Total Music Vortex · Friday May 29, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

Let us say that 35,000 CDs have been released every year since 1980, and will continue to be released.

Let us also say that a CD can generally be represented as a 100MiB MP3 file at an acceptable bit rate.

From the ‘back of envelope’ table below we can estimate that the cost of storing all the CDs ever released on a hard disk drive will fall to about $100 in 2015.

I suggest that the next file sharing application won’t be one that lets people pick and choose which CDs to share or audition. It will simply replicate and distribute EVERYTHING. There won’t even be any point in deleting all the CDs one doesn’t like. The problem will be entirely one of deciding what the heck to listen to.

Even so, once we have discovered the musicians we like there will still be the problem of how to persuade them to make more great music. Even all the music ever released can pale next to one more album from a favourite artist.

Don’t worry. That’s the problem I’m working on – enabling a musician’s fans to exchange their money for the musician’s production of music. It’s not rocket science. You just have to bear in mind that it’s not about enabling CD manufacturers to sell copies, but about enabling musicians to sell their music to their audience – directly instead of via record labels and CD manufacturers.

When you’re selling music instead of digital copies you don’t benefit from a monopoly; on the contrary, you want your music to spread far and wide.

Year Price of 1TiB HDD CDs MP3 TiB Storage cost
1980 $1,336,434,513.25 35,000 3 $4,460,831,447.94
1981 $735,038,982.29 70,000 7 $4,906,914,592.74
1982 $404,271,440.26 105,000 10 $4,048,204,539.01
1983 $222,349,292.14 140,000 13 $2,968,683,328.61
1984 $122,292,110.68 175,000 17 $2,040,969,788.42
1985 $67,260,660.87 210,000 20 $1,347,040,060.36
1986 $36,993,363.48 245,000 23 $864,350,705.39
1987 $20,346,349.91 280,000 27 $543,306,157.68
1988 $11,190,492.45 315,000 30 $336,170,685.06
1989 $6,154,770.85 350,000 33 $205,437,640.87
1990 $3,385,123.97 385,000 37 $124,289,772.73
1991 $1,861,818.18 420,000 40 $74,573,863.64
1992 $1,024,000.00 455,000 43 $44,433,593.75
1993 $563,200.00 490,000 47 $26,318,359.38
1994 $309,760.00 525,000 50 $15,509,033.20
1995 $170,368.00 560,000 53 $9,098,632.81
1996 $93,702.40 595,000 57 $5,317,013.55
1997 $51,536.32 630,000 60 $3,096,378.63
1998 $28,344.98 665,000 63 $1,797,619.69
1999 $15,589.73 700,000 67 $1,040,727.05
2000 $8,574.35 735,000 70 $601,019.69
2001 $4,715.90 770,000 73 $346,302.24
2002 $2,593.74 805,000 77 $199,123.51
2003 $1,426.55 840,000 80 $114,279.38
2004 $784.61 875,000 83 $65,472.90
2005 $431.53 910,000 87 $37,450.41
2006 $237.34 945,000 90 $21,389.85
2007 $130.54 980,000 93 $12,200.23
2008 $71.79 1,015,000 97 $6,949.38
2009 $39.49 1,050,000 100 $3,953.91
2010 $21.72 1,085,000 103 $2,247.35
2011 $11.95 1,120,000 107 $1,275.91
2012 $6.57 1,155,000 110 $723.68
2013 $3.61 1,190,000 113 $410.09
2014 $1.99 1,225,000 117 $232.18
2015 $1.09 1,260,000 120 $131.35
2016 $0.60 1,295,000 124 $74.25
2017 $0.33 1,330,000 127 $41.94
2018 $0.18 1,365,000 130 $23.67
2019 $0.10 1,400,000 134 $13.35
2020 $0.06 1,435,000 137 $7.53

So, if you’re hoping to fill that hard disk you’d probably better get started today.

Assuming a conservative 20Mbps share rate (given an efficient file-sharing system and no network contention) that works out at around 75TiB per year. In other words, all music ever released could be shared via the successor to BitTorrent within two years at such time as it became economic for everyone to store a duplicate set.

Within a decade, those who don’t share published music will be seen as a burden upon everyone else, akin to the way leechers are already perceived today.

Some guy said 5307 days ago :

Hi Crosbie. I too have anticipated the possibility of storing every song ever produced on disk. I have been slowly amassing music in preparation for it. The fastest way of sharing music these days is by swapping hard disks, and that’s mainly how I have come to own a very large collection of music. The thought that this practice could be merged with new sharing technologies had occurred to me. Perhaps devices connected to one another via a wireless mesh, constantly uploading and downloading to one another. The technology to do this is already possible. I imagine it is only a matter of time before somebody does.

Crosbie Fitch said 5307 days ago :

Yup, it’s just a matter of time.

I had expected FreeNet to fill this gap, but if they don’t no doubt someone else will. Perhaps even Google? Wave perhaps?

A spindle of ‘BluRay Super+’ HD-DVDs will no doubt suffice for those too impatient to download.

Some guy said 5304 days ago :

If the data in your table holds up to be true, and providing some people have 2.4gb/s connection speeds (optimistic, I know), then it would take little over a day to download 120tb of music in 2015. A lot of ifs. But enough to make you think.

Crosbie Fitch said 5304 days ago :

The data is cobbled together from very quick web searches and 'back of the envelope' calculations. It is intended only as food for thought. I am confident others can provide more accurate data, and I’d look forward to reading it (and their derivatives of my article).

Jassmonsteret said 5211 days ago :

Well, still, what’s the point of having access to that much music? Think of all the electricity power needed to do such a thing….

How Much is All Music Worth? · Monday June 01, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

I recently did a rough ‘back of the envelope’ calculation that gives 2015 as the year in which all the music ever released on CD can fit on a $100 hard disk drive – The Total Music Vortex as I put it.

Now let’s imagine that in 2015, in some part of the world (where copyright isn’t as respected as some might wish it were) there’s a company that has obtained a copy of all music ever released and is selling copies of it on 120TB hard disk drives (that sell bare at $100).

What I want to know is how much you’d offer for such a drive for your sole personal use? Let’s pretend it has no resale value beyond the $100 of the drive.

Is your price $101? $150? $200? $400? or even $1,000?

Would you get anywhere near the $12,600,100 mark that it would cost were you to pay say $10 per CD?

Let’s say you calculated that over the next 20 years you might buy 20 CDs that had been released in the previous 35 years (and would thus be included on that hard drive) – you’d probably buy ten times as many new releases (but they won’t be on that hard drive). That would make your price $300 ($100+20x$10). Let’s say if the CDs had been priced more cheaply you might have bought twice as many. That makes your price $400 ($100+40x$7.50).

So, being relatively generous about it by a factor of 2, if the average person would value a hard drive with all music ever released at $700, that puts the average value of a CD at $0.000476 ($600/1.26m), or less than a twentieth of a cent.

Note that the CDs you do buy, you do value at around $10 (you may value some at even more than the retail price), but there are over a million that you wouldn’t pay even a penny for.

Now if the average CD is valued at a twentieth of a cent, I suggest the record labels could make 2,000% markups if they started auctioning off their back catalogue at a minimum bid of 1 cent per CD. They’ve only got half a dozen years in which to do this, because after that it’s too late, people will have shared it all for next to nothing already.

How would such a digital art auction work? Well, a label would create a website where for every CD ever published they invite punters to bid how much they’d pay to have a copy of that CD with a copyleft license (their cultural liberty to it restored). Let’s say 1,000,000 people bid at least 5 cents for the copyleft release of the CD album recording of Imagine by John Lennon. The label could make $50,000 if they sold it at 5 cents. It’s possible 60,000 people might bid at least $1, in which case it would be better sold at $1 for $60,000. 4,000 of those might even have bid at least $10, but $40,000 isn’t so good. This form of auction enables the determination of the effective market price of a digital work as if it were sold as equally priced copies. The auction of each CD continues indefinitely until the label decides its market price has been reached (as it soon will as the market price descends to zero).

There are 1.5 billion punters online (not all of whom can afford CDs at $10 a pop). Anyway, the theoretical maximum realisable value of a CD is about $700,000 (on average). Being realistic about it, I’d say a label selling a CD for $60,000 (once and for all) is pretty good going (if it can be sustained as an average). But, more critically, if they don’t start selling their back catalogue now, they’ll never sell it.

So, there’s a swansong business model for record labels (artists will have a different model as they’ll be selling the production of their music to their audiences, not copies of monopoly protected published works). Even if the average album only fetches $10,000 this means the labels can make $120 billion over the next 6 years, i.e. $21 billion per annum ($14 per online user per annum). After that, they’ve sold their assets and can focus on selling the value they can still add (if any). The alternative is to sit on back catalogue and watch its sale value decrease to a few hundred dollars, given everyone else will soon also have a copy of it anyway.

You might think this is an example of the difference I often try to explain between selling music and selling copies. It isn’t, it’s selling the public’s liberty back to it, inviting the public to pay for its own manumission concerning a copyright protected work. Selling music is what musicians do, and in the future they’ll sell it to their audiences instead of to record labels as they have done in the past.

So, ethically, the labels’ back catalogue already belongs to the public and the labels shouldn’t get a penny for it (given they’ve been unethically granted the suspension of the public’s liberty to share and build upon it). So, realising its asset value (while it still has one) would be prudent from an unscrupulous and mercenary perspective (a perspective one infers the industry is familiar with).

The final question is though, can the labels dare to acknowledge even tacitly that their monopoly on the distribution of copies may not last forever (let alone 6 years)? As some of us know only too well, it has already ended, but it’s going to take a few years before everyone else realises it. That’s just enough time for the labels to have a closing down sale – unless of course, they’re hoping for a GM style government bailout in 6 years time – assuming the taxpayer’s credit rating hasn’t already been used up by other bailouts by then.

Prof. Bently et al Concluding the History of Copyright · Wednesday July 21, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

If you need some good reading whilst lazing on the veranda of your summer villa, look no further than Privilege and Property – Essays on the History of Copyright

Edited by Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer and Lionel Bently, it’s bound (or not) to be a stimulating intellectual work.

The thing is, the history of copyright is rapidly reaching its inevitable conclusion, and so the number of such books that can be written on copyright’s history must soon tail off. Though of course, once it’s abolished there will be a whole new swathe of “It was obvious it had to go” books. No doubt these will be e-Books sans DRM.

The Open Book Publishers have included a CC-NC-ND license in the PDF (and presumably the printed collection of essays), which is something. The author of each essay is still free to make their work available under any other license. So we still have this ridiculous quandary of provenance in order to establish what a particular recipient can do with his particular copy (irrespective of it being indistinguishably similar to a copy available with a different license).

The PDF is £4.95. I can give you a copy here, but I’m not permitted to cover my costs nor receive any monetary incentive from you to do so (per the invidious NC clause). The paperback is £14.95 and the hardback is £24.95.

Even though this is supposed to be a ‘next generation’ publisher, they still don’t consider it’s any business of the purchaser to know how much of the purchase price actually ends up with the author (if anything). It’s still the proprietary ‘copyright holder is selling you a copy’ mentality. They’ve already made a deal with the author. So the public are still just paying for copies (at monopoly protected prices). Where’s the truly new model where the readers pay the authors to write, and those who want printed copies pay the printers to print them? Perhaps compare the WikiTravelPress model? Pop along to Lulu and print as many copies as you like and then even sell them if you want to.

Authors and publishers are having to migrate to a world without copyright, even if they like to kid themselves that it’s business as usual and copyright is as sprightly as ever and not at all decrepit.

It’s time someone noticed the nails keeping copyright upright upon its perch.

Copyright is history. Lawyers can read it and weep.

The Corruption of Our 'Public Domain' · Thursday August 05, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Did you know that the definition of ‘public domain’ as ‘the few published works not protected by copyright’ is very recent?

All published works are supposed to be in the public domain. This was the original pretext behind copyright – to incentivise the delivery of novel and educational works into the public domain – for the public’s benefit (albeit at the cost of cultural liberty).

The modern understanding that copyright protected works are NOT in the public domain is a corruption in meaning we have to thank publishing corporations for. They want to stamp out any notions the public might otherwise get that published works somehow belong to them.

So even today, publication is still supposed to be delivery to the public (into the public domain) of knowledge, art, facts, ideas, etc. An intellectual work is supposed to enter the public domain from the moment of its publication. Allegedly, this delivery is incentivised by copyright.

It is only in the 20th century with the growing recognition by the public of the potential to utilise reproduction and communications technology to share and build upon published works that a work’s copyright status enters into the consciousness of the public at large.

Prior to the 20th century only publishers (or those editors/authors expecting to utilise a published work for inclusion, translation, abridgement, or derivation) were concerned about a published work’s copyright, or as we’d esoterically put it today, whether the work’s fixed expression was in the public domain as well as its ideas.

So it’s a very subtle perceptual shift that has occurred – recently. Only recently with a technologically enabled public is it more important to know whether a work’s fixed expression is available to the public than whether its ideas are.

And that’s why it’s only in the 20th century that ‘public domain’ has changed in meaning from ‘All published works and everything otherwise known to or accessible by the public’ to ‘Anything not protected by copyright’.

With such a gradual transition in meaning paralleling a gradual transition in technology (and publishers’ sabre rattling) there is no single point at which the meaning flipped from one to the other.

And so now, instead of all published works being considered in the public domain irrespective of copyright, everyone happily accepts the myth that ‘public domain’ has always meant ‘Anything not protected by copyright’.

The transition of public from ‘consumers’ to self-publishers trespassed upon the traditional publishers’ territory. That’s why the latter’s semantic inveigling of domain boundaries consolidates the ‘correct’ understanding that 99% of what would have been the public’s own culture properly belongs to immortal publishing corporations (what else would seek to extend an 18th century privilege from 14 years to a period far in excess of mortal lifespans?). Now they would have us believe that not even the ideas are in the public domain. All aspects of a copyright protected work now remain entirely the intellectual property of the copyright holder. Published works have now been repossessed, removed from the public’s grubby mitts and re-enclosed in a quasi-private domain (corporations can have no shame in claiming such human rights as privacy).

We, the public, thus find ourselves in possession of mere scraps, the cultural residue not worth appropriating and enclosing for proper and perpetual commercial exploitation.

Copyright is effectively a tax on the public’s cultural liberty. The state may collect a small portion of that tax to spend on the public’s behalf, but the bulk ends up in the corporations’ coffers (largely foreign). So why not abolish copyright and leave 100% of the value of cultural exchange in the public’s own hands? The state then ends up collecting more in tax from the greater cultural prosperity of its own citizens. The only ones to lose out are those immortals hoping to further exploit, enforce and extend monopolies that are increasingly ineffective – an admittedly very powerful lobby.

Effective intellectual property protection and enforcement are essential for electronic commerce to thrive. Existing intellectual property laws need to be applied in the digital environment.
From: Facilitating the Digital Economy A WITSA Position Paper – 5/98

Today the corporate state attempts to persuade us that unless our culture is ‘protected’ by the monopoly of copyright (a privilege granted to the Stationer’s Guild by Queen Anne in 1710), it cannot be commercially exploited, and so cannot therefore be of benefit to the public. What they would discard to the ‘public domain’ thus becomes a refuse heap full of expired and decomposing cultural detritus, picked over only by desperate scavengers and hardy anthropologists.

The ‘public domain as cultural midden’ is a corruption of meaning by corrupt entities borne of corrupt privileges, both spawned by corrupt legislators in the pockets of the unscrupulously wealthy and powerful.

All published works are in the public domain.

Those members of the public who would enjoy their natural right to copy, their cultural liberty to share and build upon their own culture, should do so – irrespective of copyright, irrespective of being pejoratively labelled as pirates. Mankind’s culture belongs to mankind, not immortal corporations. Are you a human being or a corporate slave?

We will help young people to understand intellectual property (IP), both as buyers and as potential producers – for instance when they upload a work of their own to the internet – as a seamless part of their cultural education.
From: Creative Britain – New Talents for the New Economy – 2/08

Crosbie Fitch said 4874 days ago :

This article expands upon comments I posted to “Why World War I Recordings Won’t Enter The Public Domain Until 2049” on TechDirt.

NB Those WWI recordings are of course already in the public domain, and have been since they were first published. It is only that they will remain 'protected' by copyright until 2049 - beyond the lifespan of any mortal involved in their production.

Crosbie Fitch said 4874 days ago :

I should also point out the related discussion in the comments to Glyn Moody’s article: “Towards a Commons Taxonomy”.

Aaeru said 4173 days ago :

Excerpt from ‘Sharing and Stealing’, Jessica Littman www

“Thirty years ago, the public domain was far more expansive. In 1974, federal copyright protection was not automatic. To get it, you needed to distribute copies of your work to the public, and the copies needed to be marked with a copyright notice.48 Notice of copyright – the familiar C-in-a-circle, along with the name of the copyright owner and the date the work was first published – secured copyright. Distributing copies without notice caused the work to enter the public domain.49 Indeed, while the copyright system offered authors protection for a limited time as an incentive to encourage them to distribute their works to the public, it also attempted to ensure that most works entered the public domain promptly, so that the public could make unfettered use of them.50 Copyright law was designed to separate works whose authors wanted copyright protection enough to follow a few simple rules for preserving it, from works that would have been created and distributed anyway.51
Thirty years ago, when you saw something you wanted to use or share, the default rule was that you were entitled to do so. Unless the object was marked “do not copy” you were, with some modest exceptions, entitled to assume it was in the public domain, because the absence of a copyright notice ensured that it was in the public domain (even if it hadn’t been before).52 Not only that, but the notice had to be accurate, had to tell you when the copyright was scheduled to expire, and had to tell you to whom you needed to address any request for permission.53 The overwhelming majority of potentially copyrightable works didn’t have this notice and entered the public domain the minute copies were publicly distributed. Of the ones that bore the prescribed copyright notice, only a fraction were registered, and of the fraction that were registered, only 15% were renewed, so for most of the copyright-protected works that had the requisite notice, copyright protection lasted only 28 years.”

Crosbie Fitch said 4173 days ago :

Aaeru, Jessica Littman uses the recent definition of ‘public domain’ as ‘works not protected by copyright’.

The question as to whether a work was or was not protected by copyright was primarily of interest only to publishers. Those individual authors considering the use of a published work in their own publications would either be unaware of the issue or would rely upon their publisher to ‘clear the rights’ for them (assuming it was economic).

So I don’t really agree with Jessica’s portrayal of ‘the public domain’, that people used to understand it as the set of works not protected by copyright. She is examining the past with a heightened sense of copyright awareness peculiar to modern times.

Theft of Intellectual Property vs Copyright Infringement · Monday October 04, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

I’ve had a little discussion with Nick R Brown and George Ou on the DigitalSociety.org blog in the comments to Nick’s article “Whoa Shelly Roche…Stealing Does Not Equal Free Speech”. The blog says it is “Pro-Culture, Pro-Commerce”, and that’s what I am, so what could we possibly have to argue about?

Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions in your country, Nick’s and George’s comments cannot be shown. However, thanks to the sophistry of the so-called idea/expression dichotomy some lawyers believe I still have the liberty to paraphrase another’s words (even though those paraphrasings constitute an act of unauthorised copying, i.e. a copyright infringement, which, if I could afford the spondulicks to take it to court, may be regarded by a judge as fair use/dealing).

I start the ball rolling with an example of the difference between ‘theft of intellectual property’ and ‘copyright infringement’.

27th September 2010 at 11:48am, Crosbie said:

If someone burgles your house, takes a copy of your diary, and then removes it as they abscond, then that is THEFT of intellectual property, but just you try getting the police to help you recover it.

If you publish your memoirs as an e-book and a purchaser thereof makes a few copies to share with their friends, then that is the infringement of an 18th century privilege your publisher enjoys – a reproduction monopoly established by The Statute of Anne in 1710 for the benefit of her Stationers’ Company. This was copied by James Madison and unconstitutionally passed in 1790 as the US Copyright act – the annulling of the right to copy in the majority, to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – an instrument of injustice (per ‘Rights of Man’ by Thomas Paine).

Preventing copyright infringement is therefore a derogation of the right to free speech.

Securing the author’s natural exclusive right to their writings (against theft or copying by burglars) is NOT a derogation of the right to free speech – we can have no liberty to speak that which we do not know, nor liberty to communicate or copy that which we do not have.

27th September 2010 at 2:29pm, Nick’s comment, paraphrased:

Copyright is the law!
For better or worse, all must obey.

27th September 2010 at 3:15pm, Crosbie said:

Not so long ago Nick, someone liberating a slave was considered to have stolen property from the cotton farmer.

Reclamations of liberty do tend to be perceived as theft by those with privileges derogating from it.

Whereas slavery suspends all liberties from a few, copyright suspends a few liberties from all. So it’s a little more socially tolerable.

Remember that copyright even suspends the author’s liberty to copy their own words. Moreover, if they produce a work for hire or sell their copyright to a publisher, they no longer even have the privilege of copying their own words.

Would you still call it theft for an author to make a copy of their own book – contrary to their employer’s or publisher’s privilege?

Copyright indoctrination corrupts our language into a newspeak Orwell would be unsurprised by. We use ‘right’ in place of privilege, ‘steal’ in place of copy, ‘theft’ in place of infringement, and ‘piracy’ in place of cultural liberty.

Prior to 1710 every individual could share and build upon mankind’s folklore, folktales, and folk song. Today only the likes of Disney are permitted such cultural liberty. Human beings must sit back on their couches, pay through the nose, and consume, but not touch, the content that is delivered to them by multinational publishing corporations. ‘Soma’ as Huxley would term it, but ‘content’ works just as well.

27th September 2010 at 5:16pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Copyright is nothing like slavery!
An author doesn’t have to part with their privilege.
You can still derive from Grimm even if not Disney.

28th September 2010 at 5:14am, Crosbie said:

I think I was contrasting the quite different way in which liberty is abridged today than it was a century or so ago.

Instead of brutal coercion by slave owners, today we have the kindness of the judicial system dragging youngsters through the courts to fine them millions of dollars for sharing music, imprisoning cinema goers for pointing their iPhones at the cinema screen, recording industry lawyers’ litigious extortion bankrupting thousands of families unable to afford to defend themselves, and soon, households to be disconnected from the Internet merely upon accusation.

So today, yes, it’s a lot more civilised. The enforcement of copyright’s suspension of individuals’ liberty is removed from the crude agricultural environment and hygienically institutionalised behind closed doors – and there but for the grace of God go us all.

One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, had this to say about privileges in his book Rights of Man:

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few . . . They . . . consequently are instruments of injustice.

28th September 2010 at 5:58am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Million dollar fines are ridiculous, but settlements are reasonable.
No-one goes to jail for camming in cinemas!
The mob has no right to take wealth from wealthy.

28th September 2010 at 8:47am, Crosbie said:

You can finesse everything I write as hyperbole, as no doubt apologists for injustice would have done in centuries past, but at some point your suspension of belief must give way to the rising tide of reality.

Emmanuel Nimley: Graduate who used iPhone to record blockbusters inside cinema is jailed for six months in landmark ruling. Not everyone is so enthusiastic to mete out Queen Anne’s 18th century ‘justice’, see Why I am not ashamed of Emmanuel Nimley.

This is nothing to do with envy of others’ accumulation of wealth through the exchange of their labour in a free market, but the exploitation of monopolies obtained through the abrogation of everyone’s liberty to share and build upon their own culture, upon mankind’s science, technology, and arts.

28th September 2010 at 3:50pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

The Nimley case is a one-off.
You’re suggesting copyright enforcement is violation of human rights.
For my views see “A kinder graduated response system”.

28th September 2010 at 5:28pm, Crosbie said:

I cited the Nimley case because it was the most recent.

This has been going on for years.

Try a search:

Yes, copyright is an intrinsic “violation of human rights”, I’ve already agreed this, that it’s a derogation of the natural right to copy from the individual’s liberty. Imprisoning people for pointing their phones at films is extremely offensive. Suggesting that people should have their cultural liberty restored to them is rather kind I’d say. What do copyright holder’s lose except an ability to sue, fine, bankrupt, levy, disconnect, or imprison members of the public? Authors and artists retain the right to exchange their labour, their intellectual work in a consequently free market – and if you have a thousand fans commissioning your work at $10 each, that’s a pretty good deal compared to a 1% royalty from a publisher (if you’re lucky).

29th September 2010 at 1:10am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Do you really think artists can make a living without copyright, on live performances alone?
I maintain there should be reasonable penalties for infringement.

29th September 2010 at 6:37am, Crosbie said:

On the article of yours that you linked to you say “Now I want to be clear that I am not talking about pirates that are making mass illegal duplications and selling them. Those people need to be severely fined and jailed.” It’s a bit of a challenge to reconcile that with “I personally oppose criminal penalties for copyright infringement or outrageous fines”.

Bear in mind that every youngster auditioning artists’ work via BitTorrent is typically engaged in mass illicit duplications and selling them in the sense of exchanging their valuable bandwidth (sale/commerce is exchange).

Civilisation cannot progress if mankind has perversely enacted laws that prohibit cultural or technological exchange.

If copyright and patent holders’ only source of income is obtained through the exploitation of their privileges then they cannot survive without them – so yes, they need to stop being parasites and find something productive to do that people will pay them for willingly, not through extortion, monopoly, or licensing people’s liberty back to them.

Creators, intellectual workers, authors, inventors, sure, the last things these productive people need are laws that prevent them exchanging, improving, or building upon culture and technology. They can then exchange their labour in a free market.

Copyright and patent are the regime. Their absence is the absence of a coercive regime, a restoration of cultural and technological liberty, leaving us only with our natural rights to be protected by law (not privileges).

As for live performances, who said anything about performances having to be live? A musician can perform in a recording studio as well as in a concert hall. A thousand fans can pay $10 a piece for the recording of a studio performance as much as of a live one. The privilege of a monopoly in copies thereof may well be lucrative to whoever can win that favour from their Queen, but it remains an instrument of injustice. The musician is still able to exchange their labour in performing their music for $10,000 from their thousand fans. If they do not have a thousand fans they are in the same predicament as any craftsman with insufficient demand for their products or services. There is no right to be paid for your labour, only to be free to exchange it for whatever the market will bear. I have no right to be paid for my comments here. Indeed, instead of giving them freely I could have withheld them and instead invited you to commission my participation in discussion with you. There’s nothing wrong in commerce concerning intellectual work, only in the grant of mercantile privileges such as monopoly. Have you not heard “Free as in free speech, not as in free beer”?

29th September 2010 at 10:57am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Taking work is not cultural exchange. It’s theft.
Copyright and patent were enacted to promote culture and technology. Monopolies encourage giving it away.

29th September 2010 at 12:31pm, Crosbie said:

It is strange that I am the one who must convince you how draconian and severe the measures are that copyright holders will resort to. If I can recognise the exchange of bandwidth as commerce do you think industry lawyers will hesitate to do so too?

While the weapon exists the unscrupulous will wield it, and copyright is indeed a weapon, a most iniquitous instrument of injustice.

If you wish to believe that cultural liberty is theft, that prohibitions against people’s use of their own culture and technology constitute incentives to do so, then such doublethink is your choice, but religious dogma will not get you to the moon. For such progress you must abandon your geocentric programming and dare to consider the heresy of heliocentricity.

The comfort of the blue pill, or the paradigm shift of the red pill?

30th September 2010 at 10:08pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

It seems you hope for more draconian legislation so you can argue for abolition. I support neither extreme.

1st October 2010 at 1:14pm, Crosbie said:

The copyright maximalists WILL take a harder stance: DMCA, ACTA, COICA (and others like INDUCE). There will be more injustice to come. I’m expecting ‘possession of unlicensed copies of copyright protected works’ to become a crime comparable to ‘possession of a proscribed narcotic with intent to supply’. And I’m expecting you to have your work cut out arguing for leniency, shorter jail terms.

This trajectory is not a matter of hope, but inevitability.

I am not in the business of hoping or lobbying for ever more draconian legislation, but in solving apparently intractable problems, inventing what is necessary, and arriving, when the impossible has been eliminated, at what must be the truth (however incredible or ‘extreme’ you might find it).

The monopoly of copyright is at an end. It cannot be resurrected through argument. However, for the sake of fundamentally innocent people the world over, it can be argued to be abolished – sooner rather than later.

Paul Lockett said 4813 days ago :

Great reading as always.

Cultural Liberty: Copyright's Antithesis and Nemesis · Monday November 08, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Lessig Calls For WIPO To Lead Overhaul Of Copyright System

Lawrence Lessig is a copyright theist. That means that despite the roaring silence of evidence in its support, and the mute testament of victims suffering its depredations against the people’s cultural liberty, he remains a stalwart supporter of an 18th century privilege and instrument of injustice that enriches the legal profession almost as handsomely as its plutocratic and immortal clientèle. He has adopted the strategem of embracing the case against copyright as the case for its retention, albeit reformed. The best argument he has against restoring the people’s cultural liberty through repeal is that this would be extreme and destroy copyright’s core value.

What core value?

Copyright didn’t even make sense in a tangible/non-digital environment – it was simply an unethical privilege that was feasible to enforce.

Annulling the right to copy in the majority of the inhabitants in order to leave this right by exclusion in the hands of a few would by definition produce an instrument of injustice.

People are born with their right to liberty, and copyright’s derogation of an individual’s cultural liberty is a corruption of law to favour the state via its beholden press. Suspending the public’s cultural liberty, their right to learn and develop through copying, cannot benefit the public except in the corrupt argument of those few who stand to lucratively benefit.

In the early 20th century the countryside was being scoured for folk songs and folk music that could be registered for copyright’s ‘protection’ from further cultural engagement. This is the true theft – not file-sharing. Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a victim of injustice, not the incorrigible delinquent the copyright industry would portray as deserving of $1,500,000 in damages. Ask the RIAA:

We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant’s misconduct. Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions.

The digital domain and the rapid advance in communications technology simply betrays the iniquity of copyright. The privilege was never a just law. It is now ineffective as well as unethical. All that remains is to abolish it.

Sorting Out the Birds from the Bees · Monday November 29, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

If you don’t really have a position on copyright except as a cultural hazard, and just flit from flower to flower, copying what you want, sharing what you will, generally taking back whatever cultural liberties seem appropriate at the time, then you are a bee – busily bumbling along.

However, if you do have a position in the copyright debate then the first question to put to you is this:

  • “For those few holders who can afford to prosecute it, is copyright still effective in achieving reproduction monopolies for covered works?”

If you answer “Yes”, then you no doubt consider that piracy is negligible and can be written off as youthful exuberance to be remedied by better education and deterrence. In general, you are optimistic for copyright’s future, and believe it will remain a sound basis for anyone to adopt for their business model. An apposite label for you is ostrich – unable to consider things from a broader perspective, reassured by the similar, inward looking agreement of one’s fellows.

If you answer “No”, then there are three main answers to the next question:

  • “Can copyright be returned to effectiveness, and if so, how?”

If you answer “Yes, via draconian enforcement – cultural terror then you are a hawk – not an uncommon position, though typically found isolated in high positions of power.

If you answer “Yes, via reform, such as by compulsorily licensing the areas in which it is not effective (instituting an Internet mulct)” then you are a dove – clustering for safety in numbers, unwilling to challenge incumbent hawks, espousing appeasement and compromise.

If you answer “No, of course not. Moreover, it follows that the privilege of copyright should be abolished, since it can only serve as a means of enabling copyright oligarchs to spitefully wreak vengeance against the public for having the temerity to re-assert their cultural liberty” then you are an owl – rarely seen, but unafraid to prioritise nature’s principles above political expediency or popularity.

If “No” then there’s another question:

  • “Given their 18th century privilege is now worthless except as a means of extorting random file or news sharers, how can artists exchange their labour in a market that is now effectively free?”

The answer is simple: “Enable the artist’s audience to offer the artist money in exchange for further work – on the proviso that copyright is neutralised as a means of extortion, and that the public’s cultural liberty concerning this work and derivatives is restored”.

Obviously, once work and money are exchanged, all can freely distribute and promote the artist’s work through copying it accurately and honestly (being careful not to corrupt or misattribute it, nor misrepresent the artist).

So, what are you? Unconcerned bee, optimistic ostrich, predatory hawk, appeasing dove, or wise owl?

Or would you rather not be so pigeonholed?

Where you stand in resolving this conflict between privilege and liberty is all rather moot. The bees do whatever comes naturally. If the legislators, whatever their feather, do not want to be stung they make the law accord with the bees, not vice versa.

DNA copies and remixes, and nature selects the best. Homo Sapiens copies and remixes accordingly, and mankind learns and progresses the better because of it. It is power that corrupts, and queens so corrupted who legislate contrary to natural law, pretending that it is the suppression of copying and the prohibition of remixing that best advances mankind’s learning and progress.

We must awake from this lie that we have been living, snap out of our collective delusion, realise the empress is naked, and remember that the liberty we were born with is rightfully ours, not Queen Anne’s more privileged subjects. Only willing slaves are seduced by such a snow queen’s suggestion that the sacrifice of her subjects’ liberty serves them more than herself.

Maniquí said 4751 days ago :

I’m still probably a “bee”, from a cultural consumer POV.

Certainly, I’m not any of this: optimistic ostrich, predatory hawk, or appeasing dove.

A wise owl? Well, an owl trying to get wiser and trying to explain other this “new” concepts, which sometimes I just find very hard to explain (the copyright unlearn process isn’t too easy to apply).

Crosbie, please, would you care to briefly explain the “naked empress” analogy?
I’ve read the tale long time ago, but I can’t make the relation between the topics you write about and that tale.

Crosbie Fitch said 4750 days ago :

Maniquí, the trouble with wisdom is that it cannot be taught. It has to be learnt.

It is of course the proverbial Emperor who conceitedly credulous is conned, and in turn cons his subjects, into believing in the existence of fabulous clothing that is plain for all to see does not exist. A carefully contrived pretext creates an avalanche of peer pressure that binds people into suspending disbelief – since it says the clothing is invisible only to ignorant buffoons.

Queen Anne’s pretext tells us, as her Stationers’ Guild helped persuade her, that a power to prohibit copying would obviously encourage her subjects’ learning. Ignoring the gold coins that end up in the guild’s pocket, the con, illusion and deceit, that all must suspend disbelief in, is that there can be such a power and that it would assist learning.

It is plain to all that no such power exists. No musician or storyteller has a natural power to prevent all persons the world over from making copies of their work. Children can see this. They can see that no power can constrain their sharing of music and stories. But, their parents tell them, if they misbehave, bogey men will come to lay their family to waste, and will imprison and enslave all naughty children that dare to share. Even so, the children still fail to see how such liberties are detected, so they carry on regardless. And teachers, scientists, and journalists, all fail to see how a power to prevent copying of knowledge, science, and news, can improve the world’s learning of it. But all, of course, cannot betray themselves as buffoons, so all pay lip service to the righteousness of Queen Anne’s sacred gift to her subjects.

We all convince ourselves and each other as to how essential copyright is to everyone, and yet this is a myth the opposite of Father Christmas. It is a magical force that children are blissfully ignorant of, but one in which adults come to believe and fear (or if powerful, learn to threaten others with).

It is time all adults also dared to share, and time we all became buffoons and resumed our disbelief in a magical power that pretends to prevent us singing each other’s songs or telling each other’s stories.

The empress is naked. The power to prevent sharing is non-existent, invisible, illusory, a figment of our imagination. All that exists is her permission to punish unbelieving children and imprison incorrigible pirates, and the policy that all should ridicule non-believing buffoons.

It’s time to turn the tables, time to call for the repeal of this instrument of injustice. We must all declare what we see with our own eyes, that it is copyright that is truly ridiculous and all who yet believe in it. That’s how we, as a people thus enlightened, can abolish a wicked queen’s curse upon us and our cultural liberty. That’s how we become as free as our children.

We CAN copy. It is good to copy. Copying is how we learn. Copying is in our DNA, and no law should be made that pretends to take this liberty from us.



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