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Advocating software piracy on the JoS forum?

Ok, this isn't the Business of Software forum, but what the heck is up with this thread?

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.429176.13

I counted 5 times that software piracy was advocated as well as a couple sets of people recommending violating license agreements.

Are we really our own enemy so much in this respect that we want people to buy our software, yet think stealing other people's software is a good idea. On many other general forums, I'm used to seeing it. (As well as use to seeing the thread get locked and users get banned.) But here it seems wikedly out of place.
John Goewert Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I think Microsoft attracts a particular animus because they tend to behave as though _everyone_ is a software pirate until proven otherwise...never mind that they had money coming out their ears well before they started in on the whole "activation" thing.

But in any case, any of the six billion people in the world can post here; there's no requirement that someone be a software developer.  So it's not surprising that one of those six billion might post something like that.
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Oh well, what can you do? I would assume that most of the people advocating piracy are still in college and can't even afford a Big Mac let alone VS 2005. Either that or they are out here to spread the "good word" about "free software". Either way I just feel sorry for them.

I'm proud to say that I'm totally free of pirated software. I have been for many years. If I want something bad enough I just buy it. Some people would say that I'm stupid. But hey, $40, $300, and even $1000 is really nothing for me to pay. I guess that means "I've arrived".

When you can afford to pay cash for a car or shell out $1000 for a VS 2005 professional license then the people who waste their time and risk their computer safety just to save a couple of bucks on a piece of pirated software seem like the ones who are stupid. And I pity them.
johnny
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"I'm proud to say that I'm totally free of pirated software. I have been for many years."

Once I started making software for a living, I stopped piracy of all sorts... software, music, games, etc.

It's disingenuous for me to ask people to pay me for my works while I'm stealing someone else's.
KC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
+1 to KC.

And I'd like to add further reminder of the shiny-oh-so-attractive-glare of pirated software to the poor college student. Yes, as a CS student I had an MS academic alliance account. But everything else was pirated. A week's worth of food was usually worth the moral/legal ramifications. Even post grad... those first few years are *lean*.
youngin
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I'm afraid I'm kinda halfway house on this. Some software I will gladly buy but others I just can't bring myself to do it. I will be honest and say I own a not so legal copy of vs2005 and sql2005. I use these in my current employment so its useful to have them at home.

I am however trying to be a good boy now and am buying more software or using free software. It helps that I'm moving into Java where you can easily get IDE's for free

Mat
Tony
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
My brother in law thinks I'm crazy. He makes just as much money as I do but has literally hundreds of pirated DVD's and software applications. Unlike me, he also regularly goes to church.  :)

I have no idea how he justifies it in his own mind. I guess he just doesn't consider it stealing. Even though as a software developer he expects people to pay him for his work. Go figure.
johnny
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"I guess he just doesn't consider it stealing."

Well, it isn't stealing as such - it is copyright violation. Now I only used licensed software myself but I do resent the view that anything to do with IP (copyright or patents) is stealing.

Around here, AFAIK copyright violation to make money is a crime - but copying a DVD and giving to a friend isn't. Which is pretty much how I think it should be.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"Around here, AFAIK copyright violation to make money is a crime - but copying a DVD and giving to a friend isn't."

Umm, you might want to check your facts a little more closely. If the DVD is a copyrighted work, duplication and distribution are specifically prohibited, even where no profit is made.
Paranoid Android Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"but copying a DVD and giving to a friend isn't. Which is pretty much how I think it should be. "

I guess if that helps you sleep at night...
johnny
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Arethuza,

Actually, that would be considered "distribution".

If you can't follow the terms of the license, then don't use the software or view the content.  It's really pretty simple.
KC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
If you'll notice, some of the comments suggesting piracy were also made by people who think Macintosh computers are severely overpriced.

I was very tempted to ask them what business of theirs is how I spend my money. I was also tempted to suggest that they should encourage me to waste my money so they can compete with me through cost efficiency and lower expenses.

But ultimately, I think they just believe computers and software are overvalued (or they're undervalued).
TheDavid
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Two things:

1) I don't equate software piracy with theft. If I use a pirated copy of VS2005, for instance, MS isn't losing one penny - because I wouldn't have otherwise purchased it anyway. The same goes for all pirated software I use.

Copying a piece of software is much different than physically stealing it from a shop - there is no cost involved, and no-one is out of pocket (except me, for the blank DVD).

2) It seems silly to pay for something that you can otherwise get for free without hurting anyone, or putting anyone or anything at risk. I don't think it is morally wrong not to pay for it.

Morality is an abstract concept. It means different things to different people in different cultures at different times. Who is to say your perception of morality is absolutely right and someone else's is absolutely wrong?
anon for this one Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"Around here, AFAIK copyright violation to make money is a crime - but copying a DVD and giving to a friend isn't. Which is pretty much how I think it should be."

Yes, that's a common viewpoint...which doesn't make it correct.

Suppose you write a book.  You have it published.  You sell one copy.  But everyone you know has read it, because that one buyer copied the whole thing and passed it around to everyone he knew, who made their own copies, and so on...  Well, that would be OK, right?  So long as nobody sold it?

Some people seem to have the idea that nobody should be able to make a living playing music or writing books or making movies or writing software.
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Well if I could afford a copy of VS or it was sold for an amount that justified how much I needed it then I would buy it.
Tony
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Is it talk like a software pirate day?
son of parnas
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Kyralessa,

I think you mistyped something.  I've included my correction in brackets here:

"Some people seem to have the idea that nobody [except them] should be able to make a living playing music or writing books or making movies or writing software."
KC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Note that I didn't say that copying a DVD and giving it to a friend is *right* - it is contrary to the license agreement. However, it is not, and should not IMHO be a criminal offence.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
There's a serious mismatch between the value and price of things. You can buy Beethoven's complete symphonies for 20 dollars. You can buy a sandwich for 20 dollars. Which is worth more? And now, you can download every notable piece of music for zero dollars. Too bad. I'd rather get free sandwiches and pay for music.
mynameishere
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
honest by cowardice?

>My brother in law thinks I'm crazy. He makes just as much money as I do but has literally hundreds of pirated DVD's and software applications. Unlike me, he also regularly goes to church.  :)

I am just SO not going down for anything less than what it would take to re-establish a life in a country without extradition treaties...

I've done volunteer work at the women's prison.  That is no way to spend a summer (no A/C, for one) and to think that the last woman I worked with earned seven years there on a $450 heist is beyond logic.

Tell your sister to make sure the diamond's real.
Ideophoric Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Good catch, KC.  <g>

Arethuza,

If it weren't a criminal offense, what would it be?  A civil offense?  So if I write a book and publish it in hardback, and sell it for $25, but ten thousand people pirate it, my only recourse is to sue each one of them for $25 apiece?

Law is pointless if there's no enforcement.  What type of enforcement are you proposing in lieu of what currently exists?
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"It seems silly to pay for something that you can otherwise get for free without hurting anyone, or putting anyone or anything at risk. I don't think it is morally wrong not to pay for it."

Again, if that helps you sleep at night...
johnny
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
KC - note that I prefixed my comments with "Around here". I'm almost certainly not in the same jurisdiction as you. I'm in the "not proven" one.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I believe "criminal offense" means doing something "against the law".  So yes, copying a DVD for a friend would, by definition, be a criminal offense.  It does not matter to the law whether you violate it "as a favor" or violate it "for profit".

Driving faster than 55 MPH on a 55 MPH marked road in the States is ALSO technically "against the law".  Usually, the police will let you go 64 MPH on a 55 MPH road before they pull you over.  In my experience, it's actually quite rare for somebody to go 55 in a 55 zone.  That doesn't make it "legal" to go faster.

Now, whether something's "right or wrong" or not, or "causes harm" or not, that can be a larger issue.  Probably, going 64 in a 55 zone is not "wrong", even though it's technically illegal. 

I guess what the system decides is "worth prosecution" enters into considerations of behavior.  Driving 64, or copying one DVD, is probably not "worth prosecution".  Driving 70 in a 55 zone, or copying thousands of DVD's, probably IS "worth prosecution".

But you still shouldn't try to pretend that just because it's not "worth prosecution", that it's still "legal".
AllanL5
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"2) It seems silly to pay for something that you can otherwise get for free without hurting anyone, or putting anyone or anything at risk. I don't think it is morally wrong not to pay for it."

So you see nothing wrong from benefiting from somebody else's labor without compensating them. Isn't that the very definition of exploitation? Why don't you simply use software explicitly released for your free use. It's not like there isn't a lot of it.
Charles E. Grant
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"So yes, copying a DVD for a friend would, by definition, be a criminal offense."

It is breaking a license agreement - which makes you liable for civil legal action - nothing to do with "crime". No DMCA around here!
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"What type of enforcement are you proposing in lieu of what currently exists?"

Civil litigation!
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"It is breaking a license agreement - which makes you liable for civil legal action - nothing to do with "crime". No DMCA around here!"

According to the latest anti-piracy warnings I'm seeing on most of the DVDs I buy, both Interpol and the US FBI are citing laws that include the phrase "including without monetary gain". I'd guess, if you're in a country that deals with Interpol, you're included.

Regardless of whether it's a criminal act or not, though, it does constitute stealing. You're stealing the output of someone's work, preventing their getting paid for their labor. It's morally wrong. Period.

Ken
KenW Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Not to beat a dead horse, but...

So if I pirate a piece of software, use it for 3 weeks, then remove it from my system, is that stealing?

Or say I borrow a piece of software a friend bought, use it for 3 weeks, then remove it from my system, is that stealing?

Or say I borrow a book from a library, read it for 3 weeks, then return it to the library, is that stealing?

... piracy, ownership, fair compensation, etc. are all *very fuzzy* in the digital realm. And not likely to clear up any time soon.
youngin
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Here is an example of a court ruling where the judge explicitly rules out criminal charges:

"she ruled that the practice is not criminal since no monetary gain involved"

http://blog.eucap.com/creative_commons/

Different jurisdictions! Just because people write scary things in license agreements doesn't mean that a court will actually enforce them.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"So if I pirate a piece of software, use it for 3 weeks, then remove it from my system, is that stealing?"

So if I take somebody else's car, drive it around my neighborhood for 3 weeks, then leave it parked on the street somewhere, is that stealing?
johnny
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
'I believe "criminal offense" means doing something "against the law".  So yes, copying a DVD for a friend would, by definition, be a criminal offense.  It does not matter to the law whether you violate it "as a favor" or violate it "for profit".'

Ah, no.  a criminal offense is only one kind.  Take a look at the concept of torts.  Copying that CD would be a copyright violation and probably a tort.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I don't see anything wrong with piracy. I'm a member of the swedish pirate party and I would prefer no copyright laws at all.
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Well here's a question for you:

If you were applying for a software development job and the interviewer asked "Do you pirate software?" or "Do you use your software in accordance with the licenses?"

What would you say?

I'll give you a tip... even Open Source software - from the BSD to the GPL - is wholy dependent on the licensing terms and the ability to enforce those terms.
KC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
KC: who were you asking?
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"So if I take somebody else's car, drive it around my neighborhood for 3 weeks, then leave it parked on the street somewhere, is that stealing?"

Bad analogy. A better one would be:

"So if I walk up to someone else's car, point my Star Trek era portable matter replicator at it to produce a copy of the car, then drive around in the copy for three weeks, then destroy it with my Star Trek phaser, is that stealing?"

This is why software piracy is a different concept from theft, and why all analogies between auto theft and software piracy are ludicrous.
Karl von L. Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
as,

You, Arethuza, whoever claims to see no problem with it.
KC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I'd be suprised if I had one legal copy of anything.

Hang on for a sec.  I paid 20 bucks for some music scoring software a year or so ago.  It killed me to do it.
Pieces.of.eight Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
KC

I do *not* breach licenses of any kind - all the software and music and DVDs that I have I paid for and, as it happens, I do not copy them and give them to others.

However, I strongly believe that those who do so and who do not profit from the act are *not* criminals. They do leave themselves open to civil litigation by the copyright owner - which, in my personal view, is more than enough.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
KC: "If you were applying for a software development job and the interviewer asked "Do you pirate software?" or "Do you use your software in accordance with the licenses?"

What would you say?"

I would probaly say that I do pirate software and that I almost never read the licenses. But if I thought it would be a big problem, I would probably lie.
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Well Arethuza, countries that believe as you do are kept out of WTO and forever stuck in second-world status, with their workers making a mere fraction what workers in the civilized world make for the same work.

Just pointing that out!
Steve
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
the only thing that i continue to use is WinZip. However, once upon a time, I did have PKZip registered.

Indeed, somewhere along the way, paying for software became a must.
Patrick from an IBank Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
You can moralize yourself into a stupor about piracy but the truth of it is that developers are sloppy about the way they protect their intellectual property.

Here's my bad analogy. If I leave my car parked with the engine running while I stop to grab a bite to eat, should I be surprised if it is gone when I return?

For too long developers have relied on useless "software protection" systems to ensure that their IP runs legitimately on users' desktops.

Serials, hardware locks are all useless because you crack them once and many people can use the same keygen/crack over and over.

Here's my half-baked solution.

1.) User downloads evaluation software.
2.) User likes it and wants to buy it.
3.) User pays for it online.
4.) Once payment is processed, user downloads a utility that reads the hardware ID of the user's computer.
5.) Hardware ID is sent back to website and a UNIQUE exe is compiled and sent to the user that includes the hardware ID as a condition to run only on that computer.

OK I can already see flaws in the above system but my point is if you can create something unique to that particular user rather than a generic serial number algorithm that ANY user can duplicate, you've already won half the battle.

Make a freeware version too like Eric Sink does for Vault. That gets around the "popularity by overwheming piracy" effect that gained MS so much ground in the early days.
Bluebeard
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"countries that believe as you do are kept out of WTO and forever stuck in second-world status, with their workers making a mere fraction what workers in the civilized world make for the same work"

Really? Care to explain the details of that?

That case I cited above was from Spain, an EU member, and very much a member of the WTO. As well as being a very nice place.

I also checked the legal notices on a DVD I have handy and, to my slight disappointment, there was no mention of the WTO, FBI, Interpol, KGB or MI6. The strongest wording on the whole thing is "Contains extended moderately scary scenes".

Given that one of the worlds most succesful authors is this  part of the EU it does look entirely feasible to make piles of (well earned!) money around here without throwing people into jail for abusing photocopiers.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I think Bluebeard raised a good point.  But it goes back to how many people walking down the street would actually take the "risk" of hoping into the running car and going for a joyride.  Not many people would risk it.  Some because there are people around and others because it is not the "right thing" to do and were raised that way.

That being said, publicly taking a car would be noticed a lot more than privately downloading software form a piracy site.  A lot more noticeable and a much higher chance of 'being caught'.
~!.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"You're stealing the output of someone's work, preventing their getting paid for their labor."

Assuming getting paid is a right.

If I lend a book I owned to a friend, am I preventing the author from getting paid for his/her labor?

If I lend my computer to a friend, am I preventing the copyright owner of the software from getting paid for his/her labor?
Rick Tang
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"So if I pirate a piece of software, use it for 3 weeks, then remove it from my system, is that stealing?"

Why didn't you just use the trial version?  Three weeks is 21 days; most trial versions give you 30.  (If you didn't use the trial version because you needed to save your work, and it wouldn't let you, then yes, you're stealing.)

"Or say I borrow a piece of software a friend bought, use it for 3 weeks, then remove it from my system, is that stealing?"

See above.

"Or say I borrow a book from a library, read it for 3 weeks, then return it to the library, is that stealing?"

No...but if you copied the entire book at the library and took the copy home, read it for three weeks, and then threw the copy away, it would be stealing.

The difference is that while you have the book checked out, the library can't read it too.  If your friend loans you a piece of software that requires the CD in to play, and he can't play it while you're borrowing it, then you're not stealing, any more than you would be with a Nintendo cartridge or something.  But if you can both play independently at the same time even though only one copy was purchased, then yes, you're stealing.

It's not really a hard concept.  A lot of software licenses even say "You may use this software like a book."  When you loan a book to someone, you don't have it anymore.  When they're done with it, they give it back to you, and they don't have it anymore.  It's legal to treat software the same way.  (Microsoft recently tried to give Windows Vista more restrictive terms than this, but backed down.)
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Arethuza, actually Spain has a copyright law and it is illegal to distribute copyrighted works there. I was referring to your stated belief that giving away others' copyrighted material should be legal -- it is countries that also believe that, such as Russia, that are kept out of WTO and stuck in second-world status (google on "Russia WTO copyright" for example).
Steve
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"illegal to distribute copyrighted works there"

But that judge clearly thought otherwise, and it is judges who decide how to apply the law and the decision was as "as long as their is no illicit aim to obtain monetary gain". He deserves to be sued by the copyright owners - but sending the guy to jail for swapping a few files? How is that civilised?

So you really think that if I rip a DVD onto my wifes IPod so that my seven year old son can watch a movie on a car trip then I am a criminal? No court of jury in this land would even think about convicting and any prosecutor who took such a case would be hounded from public office for wasting everyone's time.

Apparently, according to a litigation laywer I just asked (i.e. my wife) it would be doubtful if the copyright owner could even sue for damages *here* as no actual loss was suffered.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
The copyright infringement isn't stealing because the original still exists is completely missing the point.


When you commit copyright infringement:

What you are stealing is NOT the copy that you make

What you are stealing is the right of the ownere to control copying of material that they make.


There are lots of forms of stealing where the original item still exists, but most people still recognize them as immoral, because you're stealing other people's rights: identity theft, many types of fraud and deception, stock fraud, counterfeiting, etc.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"So you really think that if I rip a DVD onto my wifes IPod so that my seven year old son can watch a movie on a car trip then I am a criminal?"

No, you are not (IMO), because that would fall under the 'use this like a book' aspect of copyright. You're taking content that you already own and viewing it in a different format. Some of the content companies are trying to argue that this is a violation but they're not winning.

Now, if you ripped the DVD and gave a copy to a buddy so that his kids could watch it in their car while you're simultaneously watching it in your car, that's where it becomes piracy.
Lux Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
the biggest problem with all this I have is actually that you don't buy digital works these days, you only *license* them.

Like that microsoft can make the rules to limit on how many computers you buy if you want to use the same brought copy of Vista on them..

You pay money, but you don't own.

It sucks.
Architecture Astronaut
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Stealing or not.  Criminal or not.... that is all grey area and is debatable until the cows come home.

What is black and white is if you breached the contract you agreed to when you purchased the said media.  If you rip a video from your Ipod to a DVD and that isn't allowed by Apple, you are in the wrong.  Doesn't matter if Apple is a bunch of idiots (they are).  Doesn't matter if Apple is wrong (they are) or if their contract is legally enforceable (it is dubious).  Two wrongs don't make a right.

If you don't like the contract or the intent of the contract, you should not purchase the product.  End of story.  Period.
Cory R. King
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Arrday pirates.

Think about software piracy like this.
If you would like to have a Ferrari (or a big house or whatever keeps your calm as long as I don't get any "you can't compare cars and software" bullshit) err where was I?
Oh, you want a Ferrari. Let's say it costs 500.000€. But oh gosh, you only have 50.000€. O what to do, what to do?
Well I'm pretty sure you wouldn't go to the nearest Ferrari store and stole one would you now?

Well why the hell do you do that with software? If you don't have money for Windows, Photoshop, Visual Studio or whatever, then just don't use it becouse you have no right to if you don't pay for it.
It's the way the system works. Have what you can afford. Just becouse something is easily reproducible, doesn't mean you can steal it.

I'm sorry if you think piracy is OK, but you are simply wrong. There is no ifs here. None. Nada. Njiente.
Jan Hančič Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Oh, and buts. No buts either.
Jan Hančič Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I guess if you truely believe that the contract is not enforceble, and don't mind pay the consequence of it, then there is nothing wrong in purchase the product despite of the term.
Rick Tang
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"If I copy a CD and give it away to ten thousand of my closest friends, it's not piracy."

"Um...yes it is."

"What!?  You're saying that if I go into a public library and touch a book, I'm stealing it!?"

No, that's fine.

"OK, so you see, it's perfectly fine to copy a CD for my ten thousand friends.  It's the _exact same thing_."
Arethuza the Piracy Information Minister
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
For what it's worth: in the US, some forms of copyright violation have been an honest-to-god criminal offense for almost a hundred years. It started out as a misdemeanor that required intent and financial gain, but the bar for violation has lowered and the penalties raised quite a bit since then.  Some particularly egregious violations were upgraded to felonies in the early '80s and the NET ("No ELectronic Theft") Act removed the financial-gain part of the equation in 1997.  You're now eligible for five years in Federal PYITA prison if you commit *non*commercial infringments exceeding $1000 inside a 180-day period, which would take just a few hours on even what passes for a "broadband" conenction in this country.
Lazlo Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Wow. It's amazing how many people just don't get it. I'm pretty shocked to be reading a lot of the above here in JoS. I wouldn't have expected to hear that coming from this crowd.

I'm a bit diappointed.

If you're using pirated software, you're stealing. There's just no room for argument there.

Whether stealing is wrong or right or whether there is no morality or ethical question is another matter. But pirating is stealing. Period.
Ryan Smyth Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I have never had to agree to a contract when buying software. The EULA only pops up when I try to install it. But by then I have already bought it and can do what I want with it.
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I tire of these writing books vs. writing software analogies.

Is a brick-and-mortar library part of a massive conspiracy to make freely available the work of a book author to be shared and read as many times as possible by as many people as possible?

How come we aren't marching on the libraries, demanding that they close their doors and stop this free transfer of obviously copyrighted material in their books?

Why aren't we demanding that those blasted photocopiers be removed from the libraries too, hmmm????
H.A.D. Enuf
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
If the only way to enforce a law is to create a police state, then the law is wrong.
anon
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
as: While I believe that the license should be readable before you buy the software (for my software it always is),  I can't believe that you would not be aware of the usual types of restrictions in most packaged software - the "I've been tricked because I thought I could make copies for me and a million of my closest friends" pleading is not really credible.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Copyright laws are immoral and everyone should just ignore them. Sharing is caring!
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Sunil: I know, but I ignore them cause they weren't visible when I bought it.
as
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Sunil:

It doesn't matter what restrictions are *claimed* in the package, if the purchaser didn't agree to those restrictions as a condition of sale.

If you want to license software instead of selling it, present the license before the sale.  Anything not in that license doesn't apply.
Drew K
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Drew, I disagree.

With copyrighted material, unless you have permission from the copyright holder, in general, you can not legally copy it (with certain exceptions like fair use quotation etc.).

The fact that a person didn't agree to the EULA, may exempt him from non-copyright restrictions in the EULA, but the copyright restriction is there before you start.

If you want a non-digital example.  When you buy a book or magazine there is generally no EULA, but nevertheless copyright prevents you from legally distributing copies of the book/magazine.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"5.) Hardware ID is sent back to website and a UNIQUE exe is compiled and sent to the user that includes the hardware ID as a condition to run only on that computer."

1) I get a new computer, or I upgrade the processor.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

2) My system goes up in smoke.  I bring up a replacement.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

I would be EXTREMELY displeased in either situation.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Just thought I'd point out that "Arethuza the Piracy Information Minister" wasn't really me :-)

I do think that the use of the term "piracy" is intended to make it sound rather more threatening than "intellectual property licensing issues".
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
EULAs are a different topic.  I agree that pretty much anything in a EULA is unenforceable because you don't see it at time of sale.  This doesn't change the fact that software is copyrighted material, just like books, CDs, and DVDs.

The computer game I bought the other day doesn't have the EULA on the outside, but it does have copyright notices on the outside.
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"EULA, but nevertheless copyright prevents you from legally distributing copies of the book/magazine."

So selling some books to a second-hand book store is piracy too? Presumably the argument being that people who buy the second hand book won't buy a new copy - thereby "stealing" from the publisher and author?
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
This is pretty amazing... I thought the majority of JoS readers were software developers.

I get paid to develop software. I am fairly happy with this state of affairs, and would like to keep it that way. So I have no problem with the idea that I should pay other software developers when I benefit from their work.

For the people who pirate Visual Studio: the Standard edition is only $300, and includes almost all of the features of the Professional edition. If even that's too much for you, the Express edition is free...
Jesse Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
>> "EULA, but nevertheless copyright prevents you from legally distributing copies of the book/magazine."

> So selling some books to a second-hand book store is piracy too? Presumably the argument being that people who buy the second hand book won't buy a new copy - thereby "stealing" from the publisher and author?


Jesus, what is so hard to understand about "distributing __copies__"????

A 2nd hand book store, isn't distributing __copies__  it is distributing the originals.

Copyright contains making __copies__ (including partially copies, copies of parts in derivative works etc.).  If there is no copying done, there is no copyright violation.

I said it in earlier post too.  When you infringe a copyright, what you are taking from the author is the right to control __copying__ of their work.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
> Copyright contains

should be:

Copyright controls
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that breaking the terms of a license agreement is anything other than totally wrong. This goes for situations where you have paid for a license and where the license is free, such as software released under the GPL.

However, there are differences in terms of under what circumstances you will face a criminal penalty and/or civil liability. As with many other laws, these differ a *lot* from jurisdiction to jurisdiction - both in terms of legislation and case law.

Personally, I don't really see why the state should be enforcing this unless there is widespread deception involved. And that, as far as I know, is pretty much how the law is applied here. YMMV.
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"A 2nd hand book store, isn't distributing __copies__  it is distributing the originals."

But that isn't what the restrictions inside books say. For example here is one such section from a book I have here:

"This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not be lent, re-sold or otherwise circulated without the publishers consent"

So if I do resell it I break the "license" which makes me a pirate!
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Apologies - I got carried away with that and didn't finish reading what it said. It actually seems to be restricting my ability to resell the book in another cover.

Which is odd in itself, but not quite as draconian as I first though :-)
Arethuza Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
---"So if I take somebody else's car, drive it around my neighborhood for 3 weeks, then leave it parked on the street somewhere, is that stealing?"----

Not in any jurisdiction I know of. It is "taking a vehicle without the owner's consent".
Stephen Jones Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"'This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not be lent, re-sold or otherwise circulated without the publishers consent'

So if I do resell it I break the 'license' which makes me a pirate!"

No, that means you violated an implied contractual agreement. For the license-granting party to obtain compensation it would have to bring a civil action against you, which it would be unlikely to win in the case of reselling originals. Copyright law, on the other hand, is an existing body of recorded statutes that defines distributing copies as various civil and criminal offences, for which the *state* will prosecute the offender and impose penalties--regardless of any contractual or license agreement (or lack thereof) between the parties.

At least in the U.S., and I assume other cooperating countries.

This really isn't complicated. Contracts and licenses are agreements between parties, the content of which is not dictated by statute law. If one party claims the other violated a contract, a governing body with jurisdiction (e.g. a court) must not only determine if the act occurred, but whether or not it consitutes a violation of the contract, whether the contract is enforceable, and what compensation to assess. Copyright law, on the other hand, is statute law. There is no debate about whether certain acts are or are not civil or criminal violations--they are either defined as such in the statutes (e.g. copying a work and giving it to a friend) or they are not. The question then simply becomes a matter of proving whether or not accused party commited the act. There is some leeway in the reading of the relevant statutes, but that is another matter.

You may argue the fairness of the statutes, but arguing whether or not they constitute law and their violation amounts to criminal or civil offences is silly (and in the case of copyright law, most violations are criminal offences).
I have the hat to this day. I have the hat.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
That odd paragraph is usually written in there because of what happens with unsold books.  In these cases, book stores often return the front cover for refunds, and deal with throwing away the rest themselves.  This obviously allows a potential scam, of getting refunds and selling the rest of the books.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
There is a problem with most of this - that being you rarely buy the software. You typically buy a license to use the software.

For a car analogy, consider the case where Person A hires a car for three weeks. They don't own it, and the cost to them for the car is substantially less than the cost to produce the car, as is the case for most software. All they have paid for, is the right to use the car for its intended purpose.

If you now steal that hired car and drive it around for three weeks, then leave it parked on the road somewhere, is it stealing? To my mind it is.

A closer analogy may be taking someone's hunting license and going hunting with it. Hey, I have a hunting license, don't I? The license is not yours, however, and you would be in trouble if caught using it. As (I think) you should with software. Duplicating the license is also (I believe) criminal - as should be duplicating software.

You're buying a license to use software, not the software itself.
Aaron DC Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
It's no surprise that those who steal also gladly lie to themselves and others about it.

What gets me is how cheaply they sold their integrity.
A reader
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
In relation to this topic, I've always found this interesting; it's an interview with the creator of Bilestoad, an old Apple II game:

http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/GOODMAN.HTM

See the question (and answer) about halfway through: "The game seemed popular and received great reviews. Did it do well commercially?"
Kyralessa Send private email
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Well, no, we are not "stealing" software; we are just suggesting "stealing" software is not wrong.

Turn it around: those who produce software of course want the law to punish those who copy their work. That does mean the law is right; it just happen that currently they are on the right side of the law.
Rick Tang
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
No kidding.  You people make me weep for humanity.

You know what?  I stole software in college.  I did it in high school to.  I don't now though, I buy all my software because I have a job.

You know what else?  I have stolen music on my hard drive to.  I even skip over the commercials on my SageTV.  If you can believe it, I feel rather guilty about that; knowing I'm leeching off of upstanding folk like Alton Brown or Mike Rowe.

Why beat around the bush?  I steal other peoples intellectual property.

Don't be a coward and rationalize it.  In your heart of hearts, you know it is wrong.
Cory R. King
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"Well, no, we are not "stealing" software; we are just suggesting "stealing" software is not wrong."

You really don't think benefiting from someone elses labor without returning a benefit to them is wrong? Do you feel that way about your own labor?
Charles E. Grant
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"That does mean the law is right; it just happen that currently they are on the right side of the law."

How dare you tell me I cannot make a living off my skills!

Take you and communist friends and go die jumping off your local high bridge.
Cory R. King
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
er, You and communist friends can go jump off your local high bridge.
Cory R. King
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Perhaps I was not clear -- all the software on my computers are legal, and I never copied any CD/DVD/VHS Tape for myself or others.

The reason? Since my job depends on others not copying my output I will not copying others.

But for other people whose livelihood do not depend on the enforcement of copyright laws , then I don't think they are terribly wrong when they make a few copies of my own software to a few of their friends.

Certainly I don't think it's right to send them to prison for it.

People like to share information, whether it's health advice from their doctors, legal advice from lawyers, or information they read from a book. Copyright law is needed since without it information will not be created in the first place, but it goes against people's natural instinct to share what they have with others.
Rick Tang
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"1) I get a new computer, or I upgrade the processor.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

2) My system goes up in smoke.  I bring up a replacement.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

I would be EXTREMELY displeased in either situation."

Gene, as a licensed user of my Product X all you would have to do is run the utility again and I would check your email against a list of my registered users, recompile you a new exe and send it to you.

Like I said it's not a perfect solution but the thinking is to "customize" each installation which removes the easy replication of serials, cracks etc.

In a way, this kind of protection is already happening with PC manufacturers who supply pre-loaded operating systems with image files as the only way to re-install the software.
Bluebeard
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"Copying a piece of software is much different than physically stealing it from a shop - there is no cost involved, and no-one is out of pocket"

By this argument, if I am caught stealing $1 million in cash from your bank account, I will argue that the money only cost a few dollars to print, that's all they are really out, so what is the big deal? Or that the electrons in the database only cost a few cents to store, so why are you concerned I emptied your accounts after phishing you?
Al Capone
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
I think it's funny/sad that you can get sent to jail for a longer time for copying a DVD than for rape.

By the way, it is copyright/license violation not theft/stealing. Calling it stealing is just being melodramatic.

Here in Australia it is actually illegal to use a Video/DVD recorder at all. You are allowed to buy one as well as blank tapes and DVDs but you are not allowed to use them. They are talking about changing the law which is how I found out about it.
:-O
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Because he does not have it when you steal it. Duh.
Rick Tang
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
Is printing counterfeit bank notes immoral? A form of stealing?  It doesn't involve destroying any property, or depriving anybody of a physical item.

If I print a counterfeit stamp and put in the post on a letter, and the letter gets delivered, is that immoral? A form of stealing?  The post office hasn't lost anything, the incremental cost of delivering 1 extra letter are zero because the post office, sorting office, delivery system, and postal workers are all there anyway, right?

Is taking a property rental and running out on the lease without paying immoral?  A form of stealing?  The landlord still has the property at the end, and perhaps he wouldn't have been able to rent it somebody else in the relevant period anyway?

If a bank promises you 10% interest on your deposit account, but pays you no interest (but doesn't otherwise take your money), is that immoral? A form of stealing? The owner still has the money at the end?

When a person uses insider information to trade in stock is that immoral? A form of stealing?  The other stock holders still have their stocks, and the stockmarket is still there.


Ownership of ALL types of property, except those you can safeguard yourself using physical force, is purely a societal convention.

(My car is mine, because there's evidence saying it is, and society will come after you if you take it without my consent.  My house is mine because there are similar bits of evidence saying it belongs to me and so on).

When you break the convention, and help yourself to things that society says belong to other people, you're stealing. 

For copyright infringement, the thing that belongs to other people (the thing that is owned) is the right to control copying.

I really can not see why this is so difficult to understand.

When I buy book, I buy the physical book, paper, etc.,  But I haven't bought the "right to control copying".

And if I make copies of the book -- then I HAVE TAKEN SOMETHING FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER --  I have taken away his right to control copying.
Sunil Tanna
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
 
 
"You really don't think benefiting from someone elses labor without returning a benefit to them is wrong? Do you feel that way about your own labor?"

There's nothing wrong about that. And yes, I feel the same way about my own labor. If I repaint my house, my neighbours will probably bennefit. But I wouldn't demand money from them if they look at my house.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
To Sunil Tanna:

I'm not sure if you comment was directed at mine but if it was, those things you described are not stealing. They each have their own name and that was my point. I don't like the way that some people use/twist words beyond their actual meaning to try and either positively or negatively spin things. Or even make them too vague and ambiguous to understand. “Management speak” and advertising are the guiltiest of this.
:-O
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"Is printing counterfeit bank notes immoral? A form of stealing?"
It's not immoral (unless you have signed a contract) and it's not stealing. Same answer for the stamp thing.

"Is taking a property rental and running out on the lease without paying immoral?  A form of stealing?"
It's immoral but not stealing unless you intend to keep it.

"If a bank promises you 10% interest on your deposit account, but pays you no interest (but doesn't otherwise take your money), is that immoral? A form of stealing?"
Immoral, not stealing.

"When a person uses insider information to trade in stock is that immoral? A form of stealing?"
Not immoral (unless you agreed not to do it) and not stealing.

"When you break the convention, and help yourself to things that society says belong to other people, you're stealing."
Not according to swedish law.

"For copyright infringement, the thing that belongs to other people (the thing that is owned) is the right to control copying."
I don't think you own your copyrighted stuff even in USA (you don't own it in sweden).

"I really can not see why this is so difficult to understand."
I agree. It's all very easy to understand.

"And if I make copies of the book -- then I HAVE TAKEN SOMETHING FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER --  I have taken away his right to control copying."
You didn't take anything. You violated his right in that single instance, yes. But since the law is immoral, it's the right thing to do.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Yup, it's about control and I don't think ignoring the control for a few friends/ people in need, who you believe are not going to distributing the copies to everyone, is a criminal offense that leads to imprisonment.

It's still not stealing though. Once I give a copy to others I can't control what they do with their copies; I have no control either.

It's hard for you to understand, Sunil, because you already assume some rights should exist; in case of copyrights infringement you assume the authors have the right to control copying, in the case of USA, for 70 years after the death of the authors. Not everyone shares that assumption.
Rick Tang
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"but arguing whether or not they constitute law and their violation amounts to criminal or civil offences is silly"

Whether people can be sent to jail or not is "silly"? I'm amazed that anyone could think that!
Arethuza Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"You really don't think benefiting from someone elses labor without returning a benefit to them is wrong? Do you feel that way about your own labor"

Thinking and feeling are two different things :)

Before I commit to work on anything I usually enter into a contract first, so it's quite unlikely I won't get a benefit in return.

Actually I do think that it's wrong, but creating one or two copies for friends in need after I paid for something is a fair game. Ditto for others doing the same with stuff I wrote partly.

Of course I feel getting ripped off abit. But I don't think someone should be sent to prison for it.
Rick Tang
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Arethuza,

It's silly to argue what the law is; just look it up.

It's not silly to argue what the law should be.
Rick Tang
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
For the record I don't think the basic ideas behind copyrights law are unjust -- just a specific arrangement to solve certain problems, so making a copy for others is not a "right thing" when one have paid for the original, just not a bad thing like stealing.

And software is quite different from novels or movies in that one can really need software sometimes but never need a novel or moive.
Rick Tang
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"It's silly to argue what the law is; just look it up."

I did, and asked a lawyer too, and from what I can understand, breaking copyright that does not involve commercial gain is not a criminal offence *here*. It does leave you open to civil action based on the appropriate legislation.

In *your* particular jurisdiction things are almost certainly different. I don't care what the DMCA or whatever says as I am not in that jurisdiction and if I was I *would* comply with it.
Arethuza Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
>"When you break the convention, and help yourself to things that society says belong to other people, you're stealing."
>Not according to swedish law.

I assume you're talking about this:

http://www.pinetreedevelopment.net/scandinavia/allemansratt.php

I'm not seeing anything there about software (or cars, money, consumer electronics...)

"Or say I borrow a book from a library, read it for 3 weeks, then return it to the library, is that stealing?"

In the UK at least, if you borrow a book from a library the author receives some compensation. A very very small amount, but some.
Tom H Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
I've been sick and offline since Monday. I come back to this! Which by far the greatest thread ever...that is...if you are a software pirate!

Just be honest enough to admit to yourself that if you are *copying* and *using* commercial software, without paying for it, you are a software pirate.

Don't go pulling out the George Carlinesque extenuating circumstances routine. Don't parse sentence structure and words like Clinton. You know what piracy is and shame on you for participating in it or even condoning it!

If you cannot afford it don't use it (...even WinZip).
Ken Brittain Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
I think the most apt analogy would be of a "eat-all-you-can" buffets.  You cant share that with a friend, like you buy for one person and two people share the plate.  There is no license, copyright, EULA or anything between you and the restaurant.  However, you can instinctively know that sharing in this setting would be "wrong" and would hurt the restaurant owner.  For the sake of argument we assume your sense of hygiene does not kick in.

Try to define boundaries here... "just a taste" should be okay.  Think about attempting to take away the food you cant eat in a brown bag... that is also a dicey issue.

To believe that there is no "injury" in case of software piracy is pretty lame.  The boundaries of what you can and cannot do is very clear to the courts when they read the license agreement, courtesy of lawyers who speak the language the courts can understand. 

People who say that they see the EULA only when installing haven't really brought license software.  When you open the box you get the software in, you will find the eula and a further sealed box containing the media.  The EULA states that if you return the merchandise with the seal on the media box unopened, you can get a full refund.  If you open the sealed box, it is deemed that you have read the eula and agreed to it.

As far as the "it is only licensed" and not "brought" argument goes, it should be clarified that it is (or should be) a perpetual, non transferable license to use the software.  So you can use it for as long as you want.  The "like a book" license I am not familiar with, because that implies transfer.
ezedze Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
>try to define boundaries here.. just a taste should be okay

this is rhetoric, not that I am saying it is okay.
ezedze Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
>>"When you break the convention, and help yourself to things that society says belong to other people, you're stealing."
>>Not according to swedish law.

>I assume you're talking about this:

I'm not. In swedish law it's only theft if you had the intent of keeping the thing you took. If you take a car with the intent to only use it for an hour, it's not theft. It's illegal, of course, but it's called something else.

Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Can someone give me the name of a good buggy whip maker?  No really, I want to talk to one.  There should be several in every large town, just like there used to be.  Because it would be immoral to deprive them of their "right" to make money in the way that they want to.

"But that's absurd," you say, if you've never heard the argument before.  "You'd have to outlaw cars to protect the buggy whip manufacturing business."  Yes, and that's exactly what the buggy whip makers tried to do: ban the car.

Copyright does the exact same thing buggy whip makers tried to do: it protects a specific business model.  The "right to control copying" exists to encourage people to go into the business of creating new works.

We, as a society, benefit from having new works.  We have agreed to grant creators of those works a temporary monopoly on reproducing and selling those works.  If the *specific method* that we're using to encourage creation actually serves to *restrict* creation, our method needs to change.

Everyone who thinks the RIAA is responsible for increasing the net creative output of the world, raise your hand ... Everyone who thinks the MPAA is the creative force behind independent film, raise your hand ...

Copyright law was a specific solution to a specific problem.  It doesn't codify some inherent human right.  If the "solution" has been pushed too far in one direction, which I believe it has, it's time to re-think the balance.  Or maybe come up with some new way to encourage creation of easily-copied works.
Drew K
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
DrewK, what happens if you don't allow creators to personally benefit from, and have control over items that they produce?  What happens if you remove these incentives?

(Of course this question applies to all economic production, not just property).

Hint: There's been several large scale (country-wide) experiments along these lines.

Hint: Each of the countries were these experiments were tried, fell along way behind the rest of the world during the periods when these experiments were tried, and only started to catch-up again when the experiments were abandoned (in some cases completely, in others in all but name - and in a few the experiment continues and the relevant countries are falling still further behind).
Sunil Tanna
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Sunil, I'll assume you don't really believe that everything not required is prohibited.  Do you realize that's how you've just characterized my position?

I didn't say authors shouldn't be *allowed* to profit from what they produce.  I specifically said the problem is that the balance has shifted too far in favor of those who control the copyrights.

I cited the RIAA and MPAA as examples of the pervese effect of this imbalance.  It is more lucrative to purchase copyrights and exclude others from the market than to create new works yourself.
Drew K
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
> It is more lucrative to purchase copyrights and exclude others from the market than to create new works yourself.

Who are they purchasing them from?

Answer: A chain of previous owners, which eventually leads back to the creators.

In other words, the creators ARE profiting from the current model.

Have you seen the hoards of people who want to be musicians, or film makers, or novelists, and will do practically anything to get there?  Clearly the current incentives work.

None of which, by the way, is to say that the RIAA or MPAA are angelic.  But let's remember, despite their high visibility, they and their members only own a minute fraction of the copyrighted material that has and is being produced, so are hardly characteristic of the system.  Pointing at them and saying "copyright law is completely broken", misses the point - you're taking one extreme example, and describing it incorrectly as typical of the whole ecosystem, most of which is completely different from them. 

What actually want to be thinking if you want to solve the RIAA/MPAA, is what are they are typical of.  They aren't typical of copyright holders.  What they are typical of, is industry-funded political lobbying, and organizations taking advantage of the US litigation process in ways that may not be good for society.
Sunil Tanna
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
I'm curious: for those of you who think that it is not a big deal to use software without paying for it, what is your attitude towards the folks who write the software you use? Do you think that people who write useful software should not be paid? Do you think that they should be paid, but just not by you? Are you simply indifferent to them? Or perhaps you have some other position entirely?

I'm also curious if attitudes are related to age and career.

I'm around 50, currently working as a developer in an academic research lab, I've previously worked as a developer for a small ISV, and for one of the biggest software companies in the world. My own attitude (which I've already shared a couple of times in this thread) is that unless it is a gift, benefitting from another's labor without offering a return benefit is unethical.
Charles E. Grant
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"Can someone give me the name of a good buggy whip maker?  No really, I want to talk to one.  There should be several in every large town, just like there used to be.  Because it would be immoral to deprive them of their "right" to make money in the way that they want to."

There is no right to make money in the way they want to.  If no one wants the product, no one buys it.

What we are discussing is someone wanting the product and not paying for it.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Charles:

I have answered your 'benefitting from another's labor without offering a return benefit is unethical' earlier.

I'm 36 and I'm a developer.

I don't think there's any moral obligation to pay the developer just because you make a copy of software he has written. If you want to buy a cd from him, then you'll have to pay if he demands it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
The last 'anon' post was by as.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
'"1) I get a new computer, or I upgrade the processor.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

2) My system goes up in smoke.  I bring up a replacement.  All of my software works on the new system except yours.

I would be EXTREMELY displeased in either situation."'

"Gene, as a licensed user of my Product X all you would have to do is run the utility again and I would check your email against a list of my registered users, recompile you a new exe and send it to you.

Like I said it's not a perfect solution but the thinking is to "customize" each installation which removes the easy replication of serials, cracks etc."

No, it is not perfect.

I often work in the evenings and on the weekend.  If I have a blowup when you are not available ("You have reached Bluebeard Software.  Our office is closed.  Our hours are . . ."), I am stuck.

If you go out of business, or if you drop the product, I am also stuck.

"In a way, this kind of protection is already happening with PC manufacturers who supply pre-loaded operating systems with image files as the only way to re-install the software."

I bought media when I got my latest system.  I can not see doing it any other way.  I want the option of being able to take my system down and building it up again without having to go elsewhere.  I may never use it, but if I need, I need it.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"When you open the box you get the software in, you will find the eula and a further sealed box containing the media.  The EULA states that if you return the merchandise with the seal on the media box unopened, you can get a full refund.  If you open the sealed box, it is deemed that you have read the eula and agreed to it."

I would still ignore this note. I have already bought the box, so it's mine to do with as I please.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"There is no right to make money in the way they want to.  If no one wants the product, no one buys it.

What we are discussing is someone wanting the product and not paying for it."

Bingo.  Hey, there are still horse-and-buggy rides available in some parts of the country, where people prefer the nostalgia of a horse-and-buggy ride over the speed of a car.  For nostalgia purposes, the horse-and-buggy is clearly superior; no one has to outlaw cars to make it so.

Nothing prevents artists from releasing their works in some other fashion, such as with a less strict license or disavowing copyright.  If that model is superior, those artists should proliferate.  I'm not aware of any protectionism that prevents this from happening; I think it doesn't happen because it's a bad model.

As for those who advocate free copying of software/CDs/DVDs/whatever, I'm curious what *they* have put into the marketplace for free for others to enjoy.
Kyralessa Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Charles, I'm in my late 30s.  I no longer make money writing software, but when I did it was internal IT.  So what I did was typically neither useful nor available outside the building where I worked.  (Okay, there were seven field offices with access to the intranet, but close enough.)

I can't disagree strongly enough with the idea that it's unethical to benefit from another's labor without offering anything in return.  I enjoy viewing works in museums by long-dead artists.  Should we destroy these once the creators are no longer able to receive compensation?

I would like to believe that someday I'll create something that will still be enjoyed after I am gone.  I'd like to believe it could happen during my lifetime.  But do I think it will be something I create on a salary?  Not likely.

The reason someone has to pay me for what I do is that I wouldn't do it otherwise.  If I get paid more than other people, it's because I do something that most people aren't willing or able to do.

We've all heard that the path to happiness is to do what you love, and find a way to get paid for it.  Sure, that sounds like a great plan.  But the world doesn't owe me an income for doing what I love.  So I have a day job.
Drew K
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"As for those who advocate free copying of software/CDs/DVDs/whatever, I'm curious what *they* have put into the marketplace for free for others to enjoy. "

Nothing at all.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"I can't disagree strongly enough with the idea that it's unethical to benefit from another's labor without offering anything in return.  I enjoy viewing works in museums by long-dead artists.  Should we destroy these once the creators are no longer able to receive compensation?"

Except for antiquties, museums do not put up copies of artist's works without permission. The artist has either made a gift of the work to the museum, or the work and its display rights was purchased from the artist by a third party who in turn either loans it, or makes a gift of it to the museum. I don't see any problem with gifts. In the case of antiquities the chain of ownership, or even authorship can no longer be determined, which provides an extenuating circumstance.

Consider a living artist. Would it be ethical for a museum to make copies of their works without permission and put them on display? Would the artist think so?
Charles E. Grant
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
It's not stealing, it's adverse possession.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_possession

Ultimately, whoever holds property owns it.
mynameishere
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Copyright is not property.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property

Property designates those real or intellectual goods that are commonly recognized as being the rightful possessions of a person or group.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22ownership+of+copyright%22&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

200k hits.
mynameishere
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
wikipedia is wrong.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Tough crowd.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9061557/property

an object of legal rights, which embraces possessions or wealth collectively ... or intangible, such as stocks and bonds, a patent, or a copyright.

Anyway, the point of adverse possession is that there is a fundamental limit on the time in which a law can be enforced. Once the time period is up, the law goes away, in individual cases.
mynameishere
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Britannica is wrong too.
as
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Charles, we're well into the realm of thought experiment now. :-)

Suppose a museum *did* make copies of works by living artists without compensation and display them.  Why would the museum do this?  Do they charge membership or admission?  Then they're not just copying, they're copying for the purposes of direct financial gain.  I have no complaint with laws against that.

A clear, simple law might be that copyright is absolute, nontransferable, and restricted to the creator for his lifetime.  Works for hire could require a contract between the author and the client, with the author delegating exclusive rights to the client for the author's lifetime.

Again, I have no problem with the idea of copyright as a way to encourage people to create easily-copied works.  I simply believe the current implementation is too heavily biased toward large copyright owners as opposed to creators and consumers.
Drew K
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
I wonder if anybody will read this comment now that I've entered this thread 120+ posts later ... :)

I was reading some link (from Slashdot) the other day where the MPAA wanted people with home theaters to pay money to them (or something like that).

One thing they mentioned was:

"If you go and buy a DVD and then invite friends over to watch the DVD, that's wrong because you just denied us some $ [the friend might not buy it now]".

I agree with the people who buy their software, but wonder if they take it that far (as to not let friends watch their DVD's at their home).  If I got my info correct, then you holier-than-thou's are stealing!!! :)  (Ok, I admit, I'm being half-serious and just tweaking a little bit with that last statement -- but I just want to show how some of these copyright laws can get a little bit out of control).
Did I get my info correct?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
"I agree with the people who buy their software, but wonder if they take it that far (as to not let friends watch their DVD's at their home).  If I got my info correct, then you holier-than-thou's are stealing!!! :)"

There's a big difference between the egomaniacal idiots at the RIAA/MPAA and common-sense copyright protection.  If you buy a DVD, playing it at home for a small group of friends is not a problem.  Showing said DVD in a large exhibition house and charging admission WOULD be a problem.  It's all about boundaries as a previous poster mentioned, but a great many people in the world seem to lack basic common sense so what are you going to do?

The main thing that disgusts me is the people who somehow seem to feel that the rules don't apply to them, and that they should have a free pass to do whatever they want because they're somehow special.  "I bought the software, I can do whatever I want with it!  If I want to make 5000 copies and give them away on the streetcorner, will dagnabbit I *PAID* for it so that's my right!"  This sort of thing should just be common sense, people.  If someone spends days, weeks, months, or years of their hard work and time to produce a software product, what on earth entitles you to NOT pay them for the right to use it?  Because you're somehow special and that makes it okay for you to take away money from the developer that otherwise would have put food on his family's table or gone into his kid's college fund?

Refusing to pay for somebody's product or service that you BENEFIT FROM is slimy and downright despicable in my opinion.  If you're using the software, obviously there's some reason that you do (maybe it's easier to use, or faster, or slicker, or whatever) and that means you are BENEFITTING from the developer's time and effort spent producing the product.  And it's your responsibility to pay for the product if you choose to use it.  Demos and trials are one thing, but using a product near-daily for a year (say, Photoshop for image editing), benefitting from its features, and claiming "oh, it's not really that much of a benefit to me so I never would have bought it anyway" doesn't make much sense when you're obviously using the software to accomplish various tasks for yoruself so of course you're benefitting from it.

The RIAA/MPAA can go cram their over-the-top attempts that bilking money from the public, but buying a software product (or any copyable media, really) and making use of it while feeling like you're entitled to get a free pass and not pay for it for whatever reason you try to rationalize it with is unjustifiable in my book.
R.M.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Here's a crazy thought: Corel should sue people who use Photoshop without paying.

Huh?

Think about it.  Graphics professionals pay for Photoshop.  Lots of people do some graphics, but not enough to be worth $650.  But many of those people possibly *would* agree that their use is worth $80.

So there are probably people using cracked copies of Photoshop who, if they didn't have the crack, would instead have bought Paint Shop Pro.

It seems reasonable that if we're going to report losses to "piracy" in terms of lost sales, we should be counting the potential sales that are more likely alternatives to the unauthorized use.
Drew K
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
> A clear, simple law might be that copyright is absolute, nontransferable, and restricted to the creator for his lifetime.  Works for hire could require a contract between the author and the client, with the author delegating exclusive rights to the client for the author's lifetime.


That's a popular view on Slashdot, but it's also insane.

What you're basically doing is abolishing the corporation as form of business that is centered around creating copyrighted material.

By doing you've limited the ability to raise capital for new projects, and deterred participants because of potential unlimited personal liability.

Want an example?

All those start-ups which are founded based on the possibility of selling their company to a big player after a few lines would no longer exist.  Why would any investor fund any enterprise when his investment is going to become virtually worth less the moment that he tries to sell it?
Sunil Tanna
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Hey Arethuza, I missed this yesterday:

> So you really think that if I rip a DVD onto my wifes
> IPod so that my seven year old son can watch a movie on
> a car trip then I am a criminal?

In the US, this makes you a criminal for having violated the copy protection on the DVD.  If your country's laws aren't in sync yet, don't worry, there are lobbyists being paid millions of dollars to enshrine this vision of copyright by international treaty.
Lazlo Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
R.M.,

what cracked me up about the article (or should I just be scared), is that the MPAA defines a home theater as (and I quote) "any home with a TV larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon".

If you have this and they get their way, you'd end up paying a $50 fee or face fines up to $500K per movie shown.

Here was a lovely quote:

"Just because you buy a DVD to watch at home doesn't give you the right to invite friends over to watch it too. That's a violation of copyright and denies us the revenue that would be generated from DVD sales to your friends"

So, I'm assuming, based on that quote - that using current copyright laws - you've violated your copyright if you have friends come over and watch a DVD you purchased.  I just wonder if those that were harping on the pirates (and oh, I agree, it's stealing) are also obeying this part of copyright law.  Just me being silly on a Thursday (as in, before you criticize make sure you are in full compliance!!!)
Did I get my info correct?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
As a side-topic to that funny quote about allowing friends to watch your DVD:

1. There's an assumption that they would have bought the DVD.

2. There's an assumption that the viewing of the DVD stops your friend from buying the DVD.

3. There's an assumption that showing the DVD to your friends means that sales lost would be less than sales gained.
Did I get my info correct?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
The MPAA could only assert control over your home theatre by claiming that having friends over infringes on their right to restrict public performances of a work.  Unfortunately for them, the legal definition of "public performance" specifically *excludes* situations where "a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered".
Lazlo Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
>>> what cracked me up about the article (or should I just be scared), is that the MPAA defines a home theater as (and I quote) "any home with a TV larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon".


What cracked me up (or should I just be scared), is the surprisingly large number of apparently educated people who are treating a parody article as if it were actually a really article.
Sunil Tanna
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Oh, that was parody?  Really?

I just saw the link off of slashdot, clicked it, read it, but didn't pay much mind.  Especially since I couldn't click the 'Read More..' link to check out user comments (my stupid work blocks that portion of slashdot).

Let me take a second look then.
Did I get my info correct?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Yep, you are right.  I clicked the link and this time paid attention to the 'related news' part of the article which says things like: "MPAA to Thwart Pirates by Making All Movies Suck".  That's a big clue.

What I don't get is why Slashdot would have posed that on their front page.  That's odd.  Because of that, it made me think that this was real news and I didn't think twice to check the source (I never heard of BBspot).  That's really odd.  Welp, fool me once ... I guess.

Like I said: "Did I get my info correct?".  As in a question.  Guess not!
Did I get my info correct?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Most of Slashdot fell for the parody too.

Once again: What cracked me up (or should I just be scared), is...
Sunil Tanna
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
There are way too many people that think this is an easy issue.  If you think it's easy, you don't get it.

Most people argue this from the wrong direction.  They start with the labor put into the work, then talk about compensation issues, like copywrite laws.

This argument fails to take into consideration the whole purpose of copywrite laws.  Copywrite laws are designed to encourage people to take the risk of creating non-physical works of usefulness or beauty.  That's it.  You are not entitled to get paid and there are very low barriers to duplication of the work, therefore laws are created to figure out how to make it happen.  Rather, the laws are created in the hopes that you will decide to make stuff.  However, the laws are (were?) carefully crafted to make sure that the general public is not robbed of anything without compensation. 

The "gift" is the granting of limited rights to control a work.  The "cost" is the labor of the creator.  So, those who create copyrightable works have paid their price and should be happy to receive whatever limited rights society deems appropriate.  If the compensation is too small, fewer works are created.  If the compensation is too large, society simply shovels money and power into the pockets of content creators.

I read above "So you see nothing wrong from benefiting from somebody else's labor without compensating them."  Well, that is one opinion.  If everyone believed that then there would be no Linux.  Guys like Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman have given a lot of their work to the world and they don't feel slighted when people use that work without paying them.  I'm not suggesting that everyone should write free software, I'm using this to illustrate the rediculousness of the opening sentence of this paragraph.  Should you feel sorry for Linus Torvalds when you install Linux?  I truely feel I've done nothing wrong when I download and install Linux.


There are limitations to what a contract can control.  For example, indentured servitude is illegal in most countries.  Many software publishers feel that they can demand any level of control from their customers.  They also feel they can demand that control in a EULA that the customer doesn't see until they start to install the software.  Even worse, they claim that they can change the EULA even after the software is installed!!!!  The EULA is written to be as difficult to read as possible to avoid any of those pesky people actually reading them, and almost all of them assert rights that they have no legal footing to assert (such as changing the EULA after acceptance).


BTW, I write software for a living.  I live in both worlds.  I do "write once, sell many" software that benefits from copywrite protection, and I write custom software where I am directly compensated for the work I do, not for a license for the software itself.  I feel much less "dirty" doing the latter.  Something just feels wrong about holding my customer's feet to a fire to extract as much money from them as possible, even if I did the work years ago and have been fully compensated for the work already.  However, I'm not an idiot, so I do charge for my software when I can.

However, I do not feel that I am entitled to that compensation by natural right.  I am compensated as part of a contract with society that I knew going in and I thought was a profitable arrangement for me.  It has nothing to do with "stealing", "rights", "control", "right", or "wrong".
JSmith Send private email
Thursday, December 21, 2006
 
 
Programmers and companies hiring the programmers do need to get paid.

Check out the numerous paypal donate links on the popular projects on sourceforge.

look at what apache does.  It asks you to donate a used car, then they will refurbish it and sell it for a profit.  Which leads you to wonder what are they really into, software or automobiles.

Most people are never averse to paying for things.  There are people who shoplift, but they are the exception.  Half a cup of tea costs Rs. 3 here, which is like USD 0.07, that is 7 cents.  On a busy hour, there are probably 100-120 people asking for tea, and just two people working on making the tea and taking the money, and it would so easy to walk away without paying, almost no one ever does.

Windows XP SP2 cost me Rs. 7500.  By that token, I would have been able to pay that much for Linux.  I would value a designing package at Rs. 1500, since that is my utility.  Some professional artist person might value it at Rs. 50000.  Open source software needs to stop harping on words like free, open source and beer.  They need to start talking about giving you the ability to use the entire application before deciding to start using it.  If you like it, you are encouraged to go to the site and donate what you feel it is worth.  Students, who are on a tight budget, would continue to use it and not pay for it... no problem.  You can freely copy and distribute the software to your friends.  You can even charge them for the CD, and to install it for them, and to teach them to use it.  In doing so, you are taking care of the marketing and distribution for the company.

A little scattered the above may sound.  Yet I have tried to put together what I feel are some extra issues.
ezedze Send private email
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
"What you're basically doing is abolishing the corporation as form of business that is centered around creating copyrighted material."

Well ... If you take a look here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation you'll see a good summary of the origin of the idea of a corporation.  (Scroll down the the section on the Santa Clara case.)  So my views on what corporations should be allowed to do is probably more extreme than you even thought.

*HOWEVER* ... If you'll look at what I've actually written I have clearly stated several times that I do not want to eliminate copyright  And I'm stating now that I do not want to eliminate the concept of a corporation.

What I *AM* saying is that in both cases the balance of power has been pushed too far in one direction.  In the absence of a corporation, it would be (nearly) pointless for copyright to outlive the author.  But with the assignment of copyright to an immortal legal entity that has been improperly given "personhood", we see the value of the gift of exclusive rights far exceeding the return to society.

If you respond to this one, try not to claim I want to abolish either copyright or corporations.  Recognize that I simply want the balance of power scaled back.
Drew K
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
"I read above "So you see nothing wrong from benefiting from somebody else's labor without compensating them."  Well, that is one opinion.  If everyone believed that then there would be no Linux.  Guys like Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman have given a lot of their work to the world and they don't feel slighted when people use that work without paying them."

Gifts and donations are a different matter though, and I said so at least once. The central issue is consent. I would note that most Open Source software still places limitations on use. In my opinion, using GPL'd software in your closed source distribution just as unethical as using 'for sale' software without paying for it, and vice-versa.

Let me put it this way. In the US wait staff are usually paid less then the minimum wage and it is expected that they will make up the rest of their wage from tips. I would no more use software without paying for it then I would stiff a waiter who has provided good service. Freely donated software execepted, and even then I'll put something in their ebay tip jar if they have one.
Charles E. Grant
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
This is the funniest thread ever.  It's like Slashdot, but with people who take themselves seriously!

I particularly like Steve's hilarious posts where he makes the glorious assertion that everything illegal is criminal, and that anyone who argues that copyright infringement should be a civil offense is arguing that it should be legal.  Is that Steve _Colbert_ by any chance?
Iago
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
"Let me put it this way. In the US wait staff are usually paid less then the minimum wage and it is expected that they will make up the rest of their wage from tips. I would no more use software without paying for it then I would stiff a waiter who has provided good service. Freely donated software execepted, and even then I'll put something in their ebay tip jar if they have one. "

Tipping as primary compensation is an idiotic system that allows restaurants to get away with paying less taxes than they would if they paid a fair wage instead.  It also encourages poor customer service, as a waitress often takes more tables than she can handle if she has any say about it to get more tips.  The idiotic system breeds idiotic behaviors.



I don't think you are getting the point.  You are arguing that people should follow the law and pay for protected intellectual property, or be considered criminals.  No one is arguing against that.  We are arguing that the law that allows Disney to still collect money for "Steamboat Willie" is wrong.  Also, the law that says that a software developer can disable something on my computer because he is no longer happy with our arrangement made last year is wrong.

If I pay for a product with a bad check, the store cannot come and take the item back.  They have to call the police and the legal system has to decide what is to be done with me.  Most of the world is sick and tired of software companies forcing clients to jump through hoops to prove once again that they haven't stolen something, just to use it.

This attitude directly evolved from the sense of entitlement for compensation.  If we can convince the whole content-creating world they they exist to serve society (with compensation for their service of course), then this mess might get straightened out.  But, rational thought doesn't seem to come up much in these discussions.

I have never explicity advocated copywright infringement.  However, I do believe that most software companies have crossed the line and violated my rights to do anything within the law with my own computer.  Sony even got sued for it and lost.  I want a rational discussion on the subject and I want copywrite holders' rights limited to only those actions that are necessary to establish a robust, competitive market for intellectual goods.  Prohibition was beaten by ignoring it....  maybe this "war on regular people" can also be won in the same way (hopefully regular people will win this one).  I'm not saying that I do it, but I would hold judgement on some people who download a song or bypass the draconian software security measures in a product.  In 40 years they may seem just like your father/grandfather who drank a beer in 1921.

Good old fashioned civil disobedience is sometimes just being a good citizen.

Another important note:  I cannot think of a time in America when a huge number of people blantantly fighting a law didn't foretell the end of that law.  Prohibition, civil rights for blacks, women's sufferage.  If the people want it, it will happen.

In summary.  You are not automatically "right" just because you have the law on your side.  We can still argue that you are wrong.
JSmith Send private email
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
Kudos to JSmith, going 2-for-2 on thoughtful, insightful posts.

He must be right, he's stating my position. :-)
Drew K
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
"Tipping as primary compensation is an idiotic system"
Be that as it may, it is the system that currently exists, and I don't want to penalize a waiter for something beyond his control. If had the gumption to challenge the system I'd do it by boycotting restaurants entirely, not by shafting an individual waiter.

"I don't think you are getting the point.  You are arguing that people should follow the law and pay for protected intellectual property, or be considered criminals.  No one is arguing against that."

I think you may be conflating some contributers and omitting others. I haven't made any comments on law at all. I've simply been giving my opinion on what I personally consider ethical behavior. un-ethical != illlegal, legal != ethical. On the other hand, a couple of folks (notably 'as') have indeed implied that people need not follow the law, and feel free not to pay for protected IP.
Charles E. Grant
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
Yes, but your opions are short sighted.  It almost seems like you don't think that changing the world is a worthwhile goal.  Sure, tipping the waitress is the right thing to do short-term and paying for commercial software is also right short-term.  But we shouldn't be fighting for just tomorrow.  "Moral" and "right" are about what you feel should be done, not how you deal with the screwed up world we live in.  Unfortunately, your short term goals line up perfectly with Sony's long term goals.  If you just sit back and nod your head as the RIAA fines old ladies and college kids, they will find something wrong with you next.

Did you know that technically, running a proxy server in your house likely constitutes illegal reproduction of copywrited works if you visit almost any website?  ISPs have an exception written into the laws, but you don't.
JSmith Send private email
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
"Yes, but your opions are short sighted. It almost seems like you don't think that changing the world is a worthwhile goal."

My opinions may very well be short sighted, but you don't seem to be addressing my opinions. I've said nothing about IP law or whether I want it changed. I've said nothing for or against the tactics of the RIAA. I'll say now that I think the RIAA is ridiculously heavy handed. However, I don't think unethical behavior on the part of the RIAA or Sony justifies unethical behavior on my part.

Some completely unsolicited advice: I've been on the fringes of a couple of activist groups; it is my observation that to mount an effective campaign of civil disobedience, you must not only be free of conflicts of interest, you must be free of the <i>appearance</i> of conflicts of interest. When Ghandi protested the British salt tax in India, he didn't urge people to buy salt from smugglers, he said everybody should march to the ocean and make their own salt. During the Montgomery lunch counter sit-ins, MLK didn't ask people to do dine-and-dash from the colored seating, he asked them to sit at the white's seating and ask to be served. Hugo Chavez didn't ask people to shoplift or dumpster dive for grapes, he asked them to do without grapes entirely. In my experience people only take civil disobedience seriously if the person doing the disobedience is making some sort of personal sacrifice.

If you want to challenge the RIAA, Sony, and Disney, (and that may be indeed a very good thing), Boycott their products and tell them why you are doing so. Patronize the artists who are not a part of their cartels. Use open source software. If you try to combat the RIAA by bootlegging software and entertainment, the RIAA will haul somebody's hard disk full of warez and porn before congress and say "See! These people talk about free as in freedom, but what they really believe in is free as in free beer!" And whether or not it is true, a lot of people will believe them.
Charles E. Grant
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 
I'm sorry I've gone off on a few tangents.  However, my rants do address the first reply you made on this thread.  The first thing you said was:

"So you see nothing wrong from benefiting from somebody else's labor without compensating them"

My response wasn't that you were wrong or even that I comletely disagreed with you.  My response is to point out that the statement carries an implicit message that if person A benefits from person B's labor, person B is entitled to compensation.  It sound obvious that the original statement is true, and my opposition to the statement sounds like I advocate copyright infringement.  Well, that is the point of the RIAA campaign -- to make sure that the whole world associates downloading music with taking money from the pockets of artists.  This is simply not true.

That's why I went into the rant that the artists are only entitled what society decides to give them.  Also, that entitlement should only be enough to encourage them to work, any more is wasteful and pointless.

To simplify this discussion down to the assertion "you should be compensated when someone else benefits from your labor" is playing into the hands of big media and is absolutely wrong.  There are many cases where the laborer is not entitled to any compensation at all.  The first is if the copyright duration has expired, but there are others.  The specific reasons don't matter, what matters is that this is not a right and can be taken away.

Another problem with the simplification is making the leap that many do that the creator can demand any compensation they choose.  There are many compensations that cannot be demanded, such as indentured servitude or a pound of flesh.  More mundane things like consumer protection laws exist, but aren't as much fun to point out.

A third problem is that the whole concept of copying is vague when it comes to software.  For executable programs that are installed locally, it may be clear.  But what if the program is run from the network?  What about run via a dumb terminal?  Web pages are physically copied many times in normal use.

A fourth problem is the phrase "benefitting".  What if your software causes someone to lose productivity?  Do you owe them compensation?  What if the software accidentally benefits a third party?  Do they now owe you compensation?

It should be obvious that there is a lot of wiggle room here.  That gets me to my point.  What keeps happening is that people keep complaining that their copyrights are being infringed.  Then, new laws are passed to help strengthen and enforce the copyrights without an open and public discussion about whether it should even be done in the first place.  Then, those new laws are used to take away other freedoms that they weren't intended to do in the first place.  Lexmark recently put an encrypted version of the word "Lexmark" in their replacement printer toner cartridges and the printers required the message to be there.  Then they claimed that anyone who sells aftermarket cartridges must have violated the DMCA by defeating their encryption scheme.  They were tossed out of court, but they were technically correct.  Yipee, a copyright law almost created a monopoly.

So, I'm unable to simply accept your seemingly innocent assertion because I'm afraid of what others will do if it were accepted as a general truth.  Yes, I believe that certain protections should be denied to some (including me) because of the implications it may have elsewhere.
JSmith Send private email
Friday, December 22, 2006
 
 

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