PDA

View Full Version : This is how you build customer loyalty


Bear
10-14-2002, 06:00 PM
Most folks have heard about this subject already, but this article:

http://money.cnn.com/2002/10/14/technology/techinvestor/hellweg/index.htm

offers some additional information and some new insight.

For example:

"The manufacturer of the Xbox game console recently took legal steps to shut down a Hong Kong-based company offering "mod chips" that allowed Xbox users to alter the game's operating system and play pirated games.

While it's understandable that Redmond would shut down a company making money off unlicensed Microsoft knockoffs, the company doesn't believe that consumers have the right to tinker, even as hobbyists. "

The problem with Billyboy's reasoning is that many of the people modifying the Xbox are just trying to tinker for the sake of tinkering. They have no nefarious motives, they just like to tinker. For example, people have now been able to make the Xbox run the Linux operating system and basically, converted it into a poor man's desktop computer. Just for the fun of it.

This is not exactly equivalent to bypassing copy protection so you can mass produce pirate copies of Windows 2K is it? This is hardware we are talking about here. Do I not have the right to paint my car or refinish my coffee table because it would violate intellectual property laws to change the manufacturer's original color scheme?

Needless to say, there is no danger of me ever buying an Xbox.

Meanwhile, Sony, the company everyone loves to hate almost as much as MS, has accomplished a truly inspirational bit of copy protection.

"Last year Sony (SNE: down $0.30 to $41.95, Research, Estimates) forced a customer who had purchased its popular robotic dog, Aibo, to remove code from his Web site that would have allowed other users to program their pups to dance -- something not originally intended by Sony."

Now there is a truly dangerous activity. Think of how sales would be damaged if someone figured out how to make their product do some fun things that were not originally part of the standard programming. They might actually run the risk of makign a repeat sale. There might even, Lord help us all, be a real danger of a satisfied customer going so far as to recommend purchasing one of the toys to their friends. No wonder they went ballistic.

Personally, I think Sony is just pissed because they did not think of it themselves, and they are trying to squash any originality because it illustrates their own ineptitude and absence of creativity.

But at least I have something to rant about on my blog now:) Once again it bears repeating, you cannot go wrong by betting in favor of human dumbass-edness.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-15-2002, 02:07 PM
Hey, Bear, what's your blog site address?

As for the post: Frankly, MS has the right to do what it wants with the Xbox hardware, especially when it comes to the CPUs. I don't really blame them, for all that I agree with you on the bad customer relations it can foster.

I'm less forgiving to Sony re: the dancing dog. That was just plain stupid, not to mention short-sighted. It is user contributions such as the dancing dog code that can really make a product take off.

Bear
10-15-2002, 03:39 PM
My blog is the address I have been using with my sig. http://theforge.smithwrite.com .

I can see where MS might have a legal, and perhaps even a moral, right to object if I hack their software (like the BIOS chip on the Xbox) for commercial gain. Ok. But if I do it myself, and GIVE the information away to someone, I fail to see how they have any right to an opinion.

All right, I admit that they were arguing this particular case on the basis of the vendor using a modified version of their own BIOS. But what will they do now that new mod chips are coming out that are flashable from an external source? Where does it end? Are they going to claim the right to dictate to me which Quake mods I am allowed to play because I am using Windows to play the game on? I would not be at all surprised if they tried, given past history.....

This one just happened to touch a nerve for me because I grew up with a soldering gun in my hand. Some of my fondest memories are of working with my dad to convert an old AM radio into a homemade intercom system, and using scrap parts to make a motion detector switch for the hallway lights.

They may own the software, but I maintain that the hardware is mine and what I do with it or to it is my business.

Screw MS. I just ordered a new copy of Mandrake 9.0. I got along pretty well with 8.2, so if 9.0 is even a little bit better I am going to try my dangest to de-fenestrate my computer asap. I have had enough of attitude from these guys. If my system lacks a particular bell or a nifty mainstream whistle, I will just lack it. I am too old, too fat and too computer literate to put up with being dictated to by MS anymore.

Sorry. That just spilled out. Can't help it.

Bear
"Opinionated and fat and dang proud of both."
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-15-2002, 05:53 PM
Bear, you need to learn to come out of your shell and tell us what is REALLY on your mind.

:D

-Jess

Bear
10-16-2002, 06:04 AM
Originally posted by JessicaM
Hey, Bear, what's your blog site address?

As for the post: Frankly, MS has the right to do what it wants with the Xbox hardware, especially when it comes to the CPUs. I don't really blame them, for all that I agree with you on the bad customer relations it can foster.

I'm less forgiving to Sony re: the dancing dog. That was just plain stupid, not to mention short-sighted. It is user contributions such as the dancing dog code that can really make a product take off.

I am writhing in despair at being forced to disagree with your remark Jess. Specifically where you said, "Frankly, MS has the right to do what it wants with the Xbox hardware, especially when it comes to the CPUs."

No. Just NO....

According to current copyright law (with which I have serious issues btw) MS DOES have the right to restrict the use of its proprietary software. However, once the hardware is sold to a customer, the hardware becomes the property of the customer.

Even MS has itself admitted that someone who buys a CD with Windows on it actually owns the CD. They do not own the software encoded therein, but they do have the right to turn the CD itself into a coaster or a mini-frisbee if it suits them to do so.

Therefore, if I buy an Xbox (never happen of course, but I am speaking hypothetically here) I have the right to gut that sucker if it pleases me to do so. I have the right to burn holes in it, I have the right to switch out the circuit board if it please me to do so. I have the right to remove chips from the board and replace them with other chips, I have the right to scribble graffiti on the side of the box, I have the right to do anything at all that pleases me to the hardware itself. If I choose to wipe out the MS code from the chips and replace it with code of my own choosing, then I have the legal and moral right to do that. If I buy a PC that comes equipped with pre-installed Windows, I have the legal and moral right to wipe Windows from the hard drive and replace it with Linux. I am sure that Billyboy fervently wishes that it were not so.

After watching MS operate for the last couple of decades, I am fully confident that MS would prefer that every user in the country be forced to lease not only Windows, but the PC boxes as well. Thereby allowing Billyboy to extort even more from the world at large and locking all of us into a perpetual upgrade treadmill until the fall of civilization. Unfortunately for MS dreams of empire, the law says differently.

I am putting my foot down here. It was bad enough watching those damnable shrink wrapped licenses take over and displace a long tradition of rational copyright law that has been in place in our country for two centuries. The idea that software was "just like a book" is not only reasonable, it is self-evident. Now, since shrink wrapped licenses have taken over, we have situations where physicians for example, are receiving copies of reference books from pharaceutical companies that are SHRINK WRAPPED. No kidding, I saw references to this on several reputable news sites. Apparently doctors had received (unordered and uexpected) a copy of a book that was shrink wrapped and labeled with the quivalent of the following message:

"Do not open this seal unless you agree that we retain ownership to everythinng this book as well as the book itself. If you disagree with this, ship the book back to us at your own expense."

Sadly, I have spoken with legally trained professionals who assure me that this would actually be enforceable under current copyright laws.

This nonsense has gone far enough. If we, as a people, simply decide to stop putting up with this it will eventually change. It has to. Otherwise we will reach the point that Rep. Boucher predicted, where free public libraries are a thing of the past and all information is dispensed on a pay per view basis.

Ok, so I am ranting because this ticks me off. I know I am abrasive. But a person has to take a stand somewhere, and this is mine. I have already been forced to surrender enough of my blood-bought privileges as a citizen. I am not going to submit to surrendering any more without a fight.

No offense to anyone intended. But MS can kiss my hairy backside. And Sony along with them.

Bear
"A Redneck with an education. Tremble."
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-16-2002, 06:28 AM
Originally posted by Bear
I am writhing in despair at being forced to disagree with your remark Jess. Specifically where you said, "Frankly, MS has the right to do what it wants with the Xbox hardware, especially when it comes to the CPUs."

No. Just NO....

According to current copyright law (with which I have serious issues btw) MS DOES have the right to restrict the use of its proprietary software. However, once the hardware is sold to a customer, the hardware becomes the property of the customer.

<large snip by Jess>



You are probably right, in that home modifications for home use are probably allowable under the law, as long as the modifications aren't distributed. You may be wrong on the CPU, as it contains embedded software. Then again, I'm not an expert; I've just spent a lot of time around lawyers re: these issues over the past 16 years. Maybe that clouds my opinion at times and I should take care not to pontificate on hardware matters for that very reason, at least until I educate myself better.

As for the rest: I'm with you in spirit. I'm no fan of some of MS's business practices and have been pretty vocal about it. Nor am I very happy about current copyright law and I hope L. Lessig wins his Supreme Court appeal regarding it.

The key is, where do you draw the line? Although it may be heresy, I actually agree with many software licenses; if the intellectual work isn't protected to a certain point, what is the incentive to do the work? If I own the software when I buy it, do I get to modify it? Can I share that modification with friends? What does that do to my IP? It isn't like owning a book, due to the realities of the digital age; it is far easier and cheaper to modify and copy digital works and store them for shipping, making them harder to protect. Sure, we currently go too far in this respect but, again, where is the line to be drawn?

At the risk of being branded a heretic a second time, I've never believed in the old hacker adage that information wants to be free. I agree with the framers of the Constitution that, at some point, it should be free, in the sense of being in the public domain.

I could go on, but I have to dash to an appointment.

Oh, and PLEASE: Disagree with me. God help us all if I ever become teflon enough that no one wants to disagree with my views. Diversity of opinion and dialogue is the best defense of personal freedoms, in my book. That's why I tend to ask people who do disagree with my views to write guest columns.

-Jess

Bear
10-16-2002, 07:09 AM
Originally posted by JessicaM
You are probably right, in that home modifications for home use are probably allowable under the law, as long as the modifications aren't distributed. You may be wrong on the CPU, as it contains embedded software. Then again, I'm not an expert; I've just spent a lot of time around lawyers re: these issues over the past 16 years. Maybe that clouds my opinion at times and I should take care not to pontificate on hardware matters for that very reason, at least until I educate myself better.

I was talking strictly about hardware. As far as embedded software, I doubt that any software can be embedded so deeply that it can't be removed. If nothing else, the chip can be replaced with a different one. I am not a legal expert either, just a widely read layman. All I know about such matters comes from working for enginnering firms for ten years and a little bit of experience in writing local laws and regulations. However, liability is a constant concern for engineers, and I do have a little bit of informed background in this.


As for the rest: I'm with you in spirit. I'm no fan of some of MS's business practices and have been pretty vocal about it. Nor am I very happy about current copyright law and I hope L. Lessig wins his Supreme Court appeal regarding it.

The key is, where do you draw the line? Although it may be heresy, I actually agree with many software licenses; if the intellectual work isn't protected to a certain point, what is the incentive to do the work? If I own the software when I buy it, do I get to modify it? Can I share that modification with friends? What does that do to my IP? It isn't like owning a book, due to the realities of the digital age; it is far easier and cheaper to modify and copy digital works and store them for shipping, making them harder to protect. Sure, we currently go too far in this respect but, again, where is the line to be drawn?

At the risk of being branded a heretic a second time, I've never believed in the old hacker adage that information wants to be free. I agree with the framers of the Constitution that, at some point, it should be free, in the sense of being in the public domain.

<snip>



Many of the arguments currently being advanced that information in digital form is "different" sounds suspiciously like what the powers-that-be were ranting over when Gutenberg came out with his moveable type. The argument then was that moveable type, and the printing press, were a deadly danger because it allowed "anyone" to publish mass copies of books, and it also allowed them to make changes in the text of those books whenever they wanted to.

Which of course meant that the existing power structure was in real danger. If information became widely accessible to anyone who wanted it, then people might become sophisticated enough to think for themselves and *horror* might even disagree with the God given authority of the Church and the State.

The PC is the twentieth century's answer to the printing press, and modern reaction to its implications are about equivalent to what happened when the printing press got started, for the same reasons.

Yes, I certainly agree that creative people have a right, both moral and legal, to protect their creations. I do not advocate throwing out copyright. I DO think that the idea of retaining ownership of something even after you sell it is ridiculous. This is the same reason that I will not buy a dog from the Humane Society, because they retain the right to visit my home and check up on it, or at least the local office here does. It isn't that I have any intention of abusing a puppy, but if I buy a dog, or a car, or a house, it becomes MY property and the previous owner needs to get over themselves.

If I buy a book, that does not give me the right to steal chunks out of the book and republish it as being my own work. If I buy a program, that does not give me the right to steal chunks of code and republish it as my own work. However, I honestly believe that there is no wrong in loaning a book to a friend, thereby saving them the price of buying it. By the same reasoning, I see no wrong in loaning a program to a friend, or even giving it to them, in order to save them the purchase price.

Now, I admit that digital technology allows me to have my cake and eat it too. I can make a copy of a program and keep one for myself. That, I freely admit, would be wrong.

However, just for consideration, please think about the following scenario: What if I buy a book, and I like it well enough to think that I want to give all my friends a copy. So I buy a printing press, set the type by hand, and run off several printed copies of the book. I then pay, out of my own pocket, to have them bound. (I admit that this would be foolish, because it is cheaper to simply buy more copies form the publisher, but bear with me.) I then GIVE copies of the book, including all of the original publication information, to my friends for their enjoyment.

In the scenario above, have I committed a crime?

Granted, the scenario above would be unlikely because book publishers can produce books cheaper and easier than the average user can replicate them. So how come, when it costs a fraction of a dollar to burn a CD, do the software companies feel the need to charge such exhorbitant fees? I do not dispute their right to charge whateer the traffic will bear. But if you are going to make and sell a product at a 32,000% markup, you have got to realize that you are making it economically attractive to simply duplicate your product rather than buy it. I do not claim that this is legal or morally right, but it is simply realistic.

As far as the Xbox controversy, the main source of the trouble is not that all these users are a pack of thieves. Most people won't bother to modify their game consoles anyway. The source of the problem is that a small minority of people want to explore new options with the equipment they paid for, and MS/Sony/etc. are bound and determined that they are NOT GOING TO ALLOW anyone to take their game consoles and use them to run rival software.

They need to get over themselves.

Bear
"In the middle ages, they would have burned me."
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-16-2002, 09:35 AM
Originally posted by Bear
I was talking strictly about hardware. As far as embedded software, I doubt that any software can be embedded so deeply that it can't be removed. If nothing else, the chip can be replaced with a different one. I am not a legal expert either, just a widely read layman. All I know about such matters comes from working for enginnering firms for ten years and a little bit of experience in writing local laws and regulations. However, liability is a constant concern for engineers, and I do have a little bit of informed background in this.

Many of the arguments currently being advanced that information in digital form is "different" sounds suspiciously like what the powers-that-be were ranting over when Gutenberg came out with his moveable type. The argument then was that moveable type, and the printing press, were a deadly danger because it allowed "anyone" to publish mass copies of books, and it also allowed them to make changes in the text of those books whenever they wanted to.

Which of course meant that the existing power structure was in real danger. If information became widely accessible to anyone who wanted it, then people might become sophisticated enough to think for themselves and *horror* might even disagree with the God given authority of the Church and the State.

The PC is the twentieth century's answer to the printing press, and modern reaction to its implications are about equivalent to what happened when the printing press got started, for the same reasons.

Yes, I certainly agree that creative people have a right, both moral and legal, to protect their creations. I do not advocate throwing out copyright. I DO think that the idea of retaining ownership of something even after you sell it is ridiculous. This is the same reason that I will not buy a dog from the Humane Society, because they retain the right to visit my home and check up on it, or at least the local office here does. It isn't that I have any intention of abusing a puppy, but if I buy a dog, or a car, or a house, it becomes MY property and the previous owner needs to get over themselves.

If I buy a book, that does not give me the right to steal chunks out of the book and republish it as being my own work. If I buy a program, that does not give me the right to steal chunks of code and republish it as my own work. However, I honestly believe that there is no wrong in loaning a book to a friend, thereby saving them the price of buying it. By the same reasoning, I see no wrong in loaning a program to a friend, or even giving it to them, in order to save them the purchase price.

Now, I admit that digital technology allows me to have my cake and eat it too. I can make a copy of a program and keep one for myself. That, I freely admit, would be wrong.

However, just for consideration, please think about the following scenario: What if I buy a book, and I like it well enough to think that I want to give all my friends a copy. So I buy a printing press, set the type by hand, and run off several printed copies of the book. I then pay, out of my own pocket, to have them bound. (I admit that this would be foolish, because it is cheaper to simply buy more copies form the publisher, but bear with me.) I then GIVE copies of the book, including all of the original publication information, to my friends for their enjoyment.

In the scenario above, have I committed a crime?

Absolutely. When you buy a copy of a book, you do NOT buy a license to duplicate and distribute it, either for or not for profit. That right lays with the author to grant or deny.

Originally posted by Bear
Granted, the scenario above would be unlikely because book publishers can produce books cheaper and easier than the average user can replicate them. So how come, when it costs a fraction of a dollar to burn a CD, do the software companies feel the need to charge such exhorbitant fees? I do not dispute their right to charge whateer the traffic will bear. But if you are going to make and sell a product at a 32,000% markup, you have got to realize that you are making it economically attractive to simply duplicate your product rather than buy it. I do not claim that this is legal or morally right, but it is simply realistic.

That certainly may be one cause. On the other hand, there are many other costs besides just burning the CD, including artist advances, marketing, prep, storage, shipping, you name it. Most CDs, be they game, music, whatever, start out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the red before the first one is sold and most do not make a profit. Those that don't are carried by those that do, which can, indeed, see HUGE profits. However, publishers take significant risks just to put a CD on the market and we shouldn't forget that, either.

High cost is also no excuse and we can come dangerously close to rationalizing immoral behavior using that argument. If the price is too high, don't buy. It is that simple.

Originally posted by Bear
As far as the Xbox controversy, the main source of the trouble is not that all these users are a pack of thieves. Most people won't bother to modify their game consoles anyway. The source of the problem is that a small minority of people want to explore new options with the equipment they paid for, and MS/Sony/etc. are bound and determined that they are NOT GOING TO ALLOW anyone to take their game consoles and use them to run rival software.

They need to get over themselves.

Or, if you don't like the limitations placed on the sale, don't buy. If enough people had the guts to NOT spend money and tell the manufacturer why, don't you think the policies would change?

Frankly, this equipment is of so little necessity to daily life, I have a hard time getting worked up over it. Software and copyrights, yes; hardware, no. Maybe that is just myopic of me. However, it isn't like the pending laws for DCMA that would basically turn a PC into Hollywood-approved temporary viewing machine, which proposal really riles me and has caused me to make campaign contributions to the opponents of it.

Bear
10-16-2002, 10:47 AM
<Rubs hands together thoughtfully>

Originally posted by JessicaM
Absolutely. When you buy a copy of a book, you do NOT buy a license to duplicate and distribute it, either for or not for profit. That right lays with the author to grant or deny.

Ok. I have broken the law by duplicating the book, even though I gave full attribution to the author and the original publisher. So tell me then:

Instead of reproducing the whole book, I merely photocopy a few particularly interesting portions of it, then I staple the pages together and pass them out to my friends for them to enjoy.

Have I still broken the law?



That certainly may be one cause. On the other hand, there are many other costs besides just burning the CD, including artist advances, marketing, prep, storage, shipping, you name it. Most CDs, be they game, music, whatever, start out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the red before the first one is sold and most do not make a profit. Those that don't are carried by those that do, which can, indeed, see HUGE profits. However, publishers take significant risks just to put a CD on the market and we shouldn't forget that, either.

High cost is also no excuse and we can come dangerously close to rationalizing immoral behavior using that argument. If the price is too high, don't buy. It is that simple.

Or, if you don't like the limitations placed on the sale, don't buy. If enough people had the guts to NOT spend money and tell the manufacturer why, don't you think the policies would change?

Three words. Monopolistic price gouging.

I did not and do not advocate violating copyright. Nor do I deny that there are many costs associated with the start up of a new venture. But once development is complete and the initial costs have been recouped, the profit margin can shoot through the roof. Nothing wrong with that, but again the producer must be prepared to recognize that people are not idiots. Nor, because of modern technology, are they necessarily helpless to resist the power of mega-corporations anymore.

Example. I do some freelance work from my home office. Due to industry standards (which MS worked long and hard and quite ruthlessly to establish) I am forced to work with MS Office Suite, even though I might prefer to use something else. By refusing to reveal enough source code to allow anyone else to produce a fully compatible alternative, MS has knowingly and deliberately used their market advantage to make it unavoidable for me to buy their product, even though I don't want to. And then they charge me an arm and a leg for it, again knowing that I am a captive audience and I have no other option.

Legal it may be. But it ain't right.

Frankly, this equipment is of so little necessity to daily life, I have a hard time getting worked up over it. Software and copyrights, yes; hardware, no. Maybe that is just myopic of me. However, it isn't like the pending laws for DCMA that would basically turn a PC into Hollywood-approved temporary viewing machine, which proposal really riles me and has caused me to make campaign contributions to the opponents of it.

Without hardware, there is no software. Without a car, the international price of crude oil becomes irrelevant and we have no real reason to mess around with the Middle East.

Without a PC, there is no political danger to the established power base from the free exchange of information and ideas and Fritz Hollings would not be making an obnoxious ass of himself.


"...which proposal really riles me and has caused me to make campaign contributions to the opponents of it."


Bless you.


Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

MahrinSkel
10-16-2002, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by Bear
Without hardware, there is no software. Without a car, the international price of crude oil becomes irrelevant and we have no real reason to mess around with the Middle East.

Speaking of how copyrights on software are being used to excercise unusual and non-traditional control over hardware, there's currently a controversy in the auto-repair industry. You know how all modern vehicles are heavily computerized, at a minimum the fuel delivery and internal diagnostics are computer controlled?

Well, it seems that some car manufacturers are not making the command codes for some functions available to anyone but authorized dealerships, so an increasing number of repairs cannot be done anywhere but at a dealership. Dealer shops typically charge double what an independant repair shop will, so the dealers are pressuring the manufacturers to make more of the codes proprietary, and each model year the list of repairs that must be done by a dealer grows.

If you own the hardware, but the manufacturer owns the software required to make it run and can turn it off at their whim, what do you really own?

--Dave

Bear
10-16-2002, 11:29 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Speaking of how copyrights on software are being used to excercise unusual and non-traditional control over hardware, there's currently a controversy in the auto-repair industry. You know how all modern vehicles are heavily computerized, at a minimum the fuel delivery and internal diagnostics are computer controlled?

Well, it seems that some car manufacturers are not making the command codes for some functions available to anyone but authorized dealerships, so an increasing number of repairs cannot be done anywhere but at a dealership. Dealer shops typically charge double what an independant repair shop will, so the dealers are pressuring the manufacturers to make more of the codes proprietary, and each model year the list of repairs that must be done by a dealer grows.

If you own the hardware, but the manufacturer owns the software required to make it run and can turn it off at their whim, what do you really own?

--Dave

A large paperweight.....

Speaking of the subject. If MS and Sony, et. al. are allowed to establish the precedent of dictating what someone can do with their hardware, what is to stop companies that produce BIOS chips for PC mainboards from issuing ultimatums that retrict the type and manufacturer for software that is operated on the PC? Like the Fritz chip, except instead of government mandates you might have mobo manufacturers mandates.

"This motherboard is authorized for the us of Microsoft Operating Systems ONLY. Attempted use of any other software will result in the loss of all data, the forwarding of all personal information into Bill Gate's personal retribution database, and will also result in large gentlemen wearing ill-fitting suits coming to your house to break your kneecaps. You acceptance of these terms is assumed by your use of this hardware, whether you ever read this warning or not."

And then, of course, to avoid PR difficulty they could print the warning message in ancient Sanskrit.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Mylon
10-16-2002, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by JessicaM
[B]Absolutely. When you buy a copy of a book, you do NOT buy a license to duplicate and distribute it, either for or not for profit. That right lays with the author to grant or deny.

That certainly may be one cause. On the other hand, there are many other costs besides just burning the CD, including artist advances, marketing, prep, storage, shipping, you name it. Most CDs, be they game, music, whatever, start out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the red before the first one is sold and most do not make a profit. Those that don't are carried by those that do, which can, indeed, see HUGE profits. However, publishers take significant risks just to put a CD on the market and we shouldn't forget that, either.

This is what really bothers me. Quite a few companies take the approach of, "If you throw enough crap at the wall some of it will stick." None of them seem to bother doing some research into seeing what games will succeed and which games won't. If they did, less crap games would make it to the market (Fly!, Paint Brawl, Deer Hunter 50389569, ect.) and other games would be cheaper. Blizzard software takes an interesting approach because they apply exactly this strategy (something along the lines of not publishing something they don't like) and instead of charging less for their games or walking away with much fatter wallets, they re-invest the earned money to allow longer development time, and supposedly even better games. Granted, I wasn't exactly too fond of Diablo II and I'm keeping my distance from Warcraft III at the moment, but they do have a pretty large fanbase. Maybe other software developers should follow their approach.

High cost is also no excuse and we can come dangerously close to rationalizing immoral behavior using that argument. If the price is too high, don't buy. It is that simple.

That's what I do. Computer games typically interest me for some 10 hours of game play before I forget all about their existance. So I wait until they end up in the $10 to $20 range before I buy them. By then there's plenty of info to base a buying decision on so I spend a lot less money on fewer games that I might enjoy for a longer period of time.

Or, if you don't like the limitations placed on the sale, don't buy. If enough people had the guts to NOT spend money and tell the manufacturer why, don't you think the policies would change?

This is harder than it sounds. When purchased laptops come with Windows whether you like it or not, you end up paying that $200 as part of the cost of the laptop anyway. This applies to nearly ANY new computer nowadays.

Mylon
10-16-2002, 06:02 PM
Originally posted by Bear
<Rubs hands together thoughtfully>

Ok. I have broken the law by duplicating the book, even though I gave full attribution to the author and the original publisher. So tell me then:

Instead of reproducing the whole book, I merely photocopy a few particularly interesting portions of it, then I staple the pages together and pass them out to my friends for them to enjoy.

Have I still broken the law?

This is usually not considered a violation of copyright law based on fair use. Unfortunately the license the software is packaged with essentially forces you to give up all rights of fair use in order to use the software.

Three words. Monopolistic price gouging.

I did not and do not advocate violating copyright. Nor do I deny that there are many costs associated with the start up of a new venture. But once development is complete and the initial costs have been recouped, the profit margin can shoot through the roof. Nothing wrong with that, but again the producer must be prepared to recognize that people are not idiots. Nor, because of modern technology, are they necessarily helpless to resist the power of mega-corporations anymore.

Example. I do some freelance work from my home office. Due to industry standards (which MS worked long and hard and quite ruthlessly to establish) I am forced to work with MS Office Suite, even though I might prefer to use something else. By refusing to reveal enough source code to allow anyone else to produce a fully compatible alternative, MS has knowingly and deliberately used their market advantage to make it unavoidable for me to buy their product, even though I don't want to. And then they charge me an arm and a leg for it, again knowing that I am a captive audience and I have no other option.

Actually, MS has no obligation, either legal or moral, to release the source code of its word processing software. On the other hand, I would say they are morally obligated to release API function calls (not source code, but instead specialized functions that are accessed without changing source code) of the operating system for fair competition. Is what we really need is former programmers for judges to make these kind of decisions rather than the stereotypical old person that probably is too xenophobic to be bothered to know how it works, assume they bother to work one at all.

Even still, I dont think such API calls are necessary to produce a rival word processing program. No one really sees any kind of need to produce a competing word processing program for Windows, since the development cost might be a bit too high, and Microsoft bought out the only competition they had when they purchased the Works program. I haven't personally tested any word processing software on Linux, but I do know it exists, and it does come with the OS, which is free. :)

Coleco
10-16-2002, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Speaking of how copyrights on software are being used to excercise unusual and non-traditional control over hardware, there's currently a controversy in the auto-repair industry.

. . .

Well, it seems that some car manufacturers are not making the command codes for some functions available to anyone but authorized dealerships, so an increasing number of repairs cannot be done anywhere but at a dealership.This is actually less about copyright and more about trade secrets. Even conceding the extent to which it is about copyright, the problem lies not with the fact that software is afforded copyright protection but with good old-fashioned antitrust.

It is unlikely such behaviour will survive antitrust scrutiny.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
If you own the hardware, but the manufacturer owns the software required to make it run and can turn it off at their whim, what do you really own?According to the company for which you work, not much. Not very much at all.

Coleco

Bear
10-16-2002, 06:13 PM
Originally posted by Mylon
This is usually not considered a violation of copyright law based on fair use. Unfortunately the license the software is packaged with essentially forces you to give up all rights of fair use in order to use the software.

Actually, MS has no obligation, either legal or moral, to release the source code of its word processing software. On the other hand, I would say they are morally obligated to release API function calls (not source code, but instead specialized functions that are accessed without changing source code) of the operating system for fair competition. Is what we really need is former programmers for judges to make these kind of decisions rather than the stereotypical old person that probably is too xenophobic to be bothered to know how it works, assume they bother to work one at all.

Even still, I dont think such API calls are necessary to produce a rival word processing program. No one really sees any kind of need to produce a competing word processing program for Windows, since the development cost might be a bit too high, and Microsoft bought out the only competition they had when they purchased the Works program. I haven't personally tested any word processing software on Linux, but I do know it exists, and it does come with the OS, which is free. :)

Actually I was talking about compatibility. No, there is no reason for them to release the source code as long as they release enough information to allow for full compatiblity. Unfortunately, they do not.

The difficulty is that I MUST HAVE 100% compatibility with my clients documents. I cannot open one of their old documents for updating, or generate a new document that they will be incorporating into their files, unless it is 100% glitch free compatible. Which effectively means that I must use MS Office suite.

I have used OpenOffice, and it is a fine program. It is about 90% compatible,a nd in my opinion it is a better program overall. But I can't use it. 90% compatible isnot good enough. I must have 100% compatiblity. So MS has got me by the short and curlies.

(added later)

My daughter read this thread and brought up an interesting angle on this subject. Maybe some of you knowledgeable pundits can answer this:

"...as far as distribution, discuss fair use, and educational rights --I hate having to walk around on eggshells when i'm doing my homework, especially for classes like Intro to Multimedia and programming.

When we made our shared webspace, a lot of kids snatched images off the web--which our professor allowed as long as we credited them, and he went over our source documentation with a fine toothed comb but still, that's on the edge.

And educational software? I'm not sure about the laws, but I do know that they're a tangled mess when it comes to educational use and I'm sorry but, in the deepest, darkest, tiniest, hidden communist part of my soul, I am absolutely outraged by the blatant classist bias in the computer industry. If you're a student, you can't afford the software, so you can't learn how to use it.

You need to learn to use this stuff before you can join your industry, but you need a decent income before you can afford the software. the "32,000% markup" totally alienates (not to mention screws over) students.

As far as affording it--it's a catch 22 especially for students"

Any advice to a young person that would like to stay on the right side of the law while still maybe learning something?

Seriously, I bought Adobe Design Collection for her last year and paid about $500. MS Office 2000 costs between $250-450 depending on which version you buy. Don't even ask about Macrmedia Director, QuarkXpress, or a bunch of other obscenely high programs. I know college is expensive, but this goes beyond ridiculous sometimes.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Nom
10-16-2002, 06:53 PM
Instead of reproducing the whole book, I merely photocopy a few particularly interesting portions of it, then I staple the pages together and pass them out to my friends for them to enjoy.

Have I still broken the law?Maybe, maybe not. But morally it's a lot more complicated. What did you buy the rights to do? In your example, you are duplicating and distributing a product without adding additional content to it and without providing financial recompense to the person whose labour created the product.

If you post snippets surrounded by a bulk of commentary, then it's probably morally fair use, since you are using a minimal amount of someone elses material to add a significant amount of your own. if it's basically verbatim copy of the original, then how is that "fair"?

Software gets a little hairier. Most modern software licenses are effectively 'leases' - the 'owners' of the software rent you the use of their tool for a period of time (usually indefinite). And IMO, this is actually a fair model.

Where it gets really awkward is when you are purchasing the right to the content, not to the functionality. You don't "watch" a word processing program, and the value of the program certainly is not what you see provided by the author. However, in a book or movie, that's exactly what you're interested in. The book or movie is a persistent copy of the information that is transferred (inexactly) to your brain. What is a fair contractual relationship between the provider of that information and the receiver?

Nom
10-16-2002, 06:58 PM
Originally posted by Bear
You need to learn to use this stuff before you can join your industry, but you need a decent income before you can afford the software. the "32,000% markup" totally alienates (not to mention screws over) students.
I don't know about in the US, but in Australia a lot of software has 'educational' versions available at a fraction (as little as 10%) of the price of the commercial versions. This includes the MS stuff, and several compilers.

Where I get bitten is now that I'm no longer a student, but wan't to do hobbyist (ie non-commercial) work. There is software out there that has non-commercial licensing, but it's few and far between.

Bear
10-16-2002, 07:06 PM
Originally posted by Nom
I don't know about in the US, but in Australia a lot of software has 'educational' versions available at a fraction (as little as 10%) of the price of the commercial versions. This includes the MS stuff, and several compilers.

Where I get bitten is now that I'm no longer a student, but wan't to do hobbyist (ie non-commercial) work. There is software out there that has non-commercial licensing, but it's few and far between.

The $500 US for Adobe Design Collection WAS the educational price. It was purchased at the campus bookstore. I don't even want to know what the full retail price might be.

And they came out with a new version 5 months later....

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-16-2002, 07:32 PM
Originally posted by Bear

Any advice to a young person that would like to stay on the right side of the law while still maybe learning something?

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Use of material for education purposes is the classic fair use example. Grabbing quotes, paragraphs, even several paragraphs, charts and graphs, etc, and inlcuding them in homework is generally allowed, with full attribution, of course. That's one reason colleges have large libraries.

Coleco
10-16-2002, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by JessicaM
Use of material for education purposes is the classic fair use example. Grabbing quotes, paragraphs, even several paragraphs, charts and graphs, etc, and inlcuding them in homework is generally allowed, with full attribution, of course. That's one reason colleges have large libraries. Yes! Indeed! To the library!

Justice Story, in his opinion in Folsom v. Marsh (1875), laid the foundation for the doctrine of Fair Use as developed through the common law and codified in the 1976 Copyright Act. In it, Justice Story held,

So, it has been decided that a fair and bona fide abridgment of an original work, is not a piracy of the copyright of the author. ... But, then, what constitutes a fair and bona fide abridgment, in the sense of the law, is one of the most difficult points, under particular circumstances, which can well arise for judicial discussion. It is clear, that a mere selection, or different arrangement of parts of the original work, so as to bring the work into a smaller compass, will not be held to be such an abridgment. There must be real, substantial condensation of the materials, and intellectual labor and judgment bestowed thereon; and not merely the facile use of the scissors ...Unfortunately, we live in an Era of Entitlement and the neo-dotcommunists would turn the concept of Fair Use into just that: facile use of the scissors.

Coleco

Bear
10-17-2002, 05:27 AM
Originally posted by Coleco

Unfortunately, we live in an Era of Entitlement and the neo-dotcommunists would turn the concept of Fair Use into just that: facile use of the scissors.


I repeat, I do not advocate piracy. Not online MP3s, not ripping off someone else's words, or their graphics, or their opinions. I have some stuff on my own site that is copyrighted. Even though it may not be very impressive, I allow anyone who wants to use it free reign.

But if things have gotten to the point that school children (or their instructors) are honestly worried about getting persecuted under the DMCA because they clipped out something to use in a homework assignment, then things have gone much too far. It doesn't matter whether or not a persecution for this purpose would hold up in court. What matters is that the atmosphere of mistrust and nervousness has permeated things to reach this point.

If a researcher dares not publish their findings for fear of being dragged off to jail, then someone tell me something. How far have we really risen above the days when Gallileo was dragged before the Inquisition? There has to be a stopping point, while we ALL (creators and consumers both) have some vestige of property rights left.

It is not my place to steal your work. It is not your place to tell me what I can do with property I paid for. Can't we even agree on that?

Did anyone see that Red Hat has posted their latest patch on a EU site with a disclaimer stating that citizens of the US are not allowed to read the description of why the patch was necessary, due to the DMCA? Granted, this was no doubt as much a propoganda move aimed at making the DMCA look ridiculous as anything else. But since the Justice Dept. has been so gung-ho at persecuting researchers for daring to publish discoveries, and practically launching nuke attacks on some kid who just wanted to play his DVDs on his Linux system, maybe Red Hat honestly wants to cover their ass.

You can access the Red hat info from their web site, or you can link to it from an article on The Register here:

http://www.theregus.com/content/4/26656.html

I will not link directly to the offshore site itself, because I don't want to get Skotos in trouble and I don't wan't to hear that ominous knock at my own door either. This is a shameful thing we have done to ourselves.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

MahrinSkel
10-17-2002, 08:02 AM
Originally posted by Coleco
This is actually less about copyright and more about trade secrets. Even conceding the extent to which it is about copyright, the problem lies not with the fact that software is afforded copyright protection but with good old-fashioned antitrust.

It is copyright (specifically the DMCA) that keeps someone from reverse engineering the command set and publishing the information in book form for the independant shops. And copyright trumps anti-trust, it is a government-blessed monopoly.

It isn't a new thing in the auto-industry for the manufacturer to try and restrict the ability of independants, through requiring special tools that carried patent protection, it's a cat and mouse game that has been playing out for a century. But patent protection is weak compared to copyright, a patent can restrict me from making a wrench of a specific design, but if I can come up with a different design that will do the same job I can sell it without fear (the cross-form lug-wrench was the DeCSS of any repair that required removing the tires, it had the heads to remove the lugnuts from the three biggest automakers on one tool). Under the DMCA, even *trying* to figure out how the proprietary tool (the command codes) works is not allowed.

Remember the Mystere mess? Player writes a story featuring dark-elf torture porn, posts it to a fansite message board, and months later it comes to the attention of SOE and the player is banned from EQ? What if they had held the power to turn his PC off, permanently? XBox Live and Playstation Online will have that power.

"Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Where does the right to control the use of your intellectual property end? Does it extend to control of someone else's physical property? I'm allowed to physically modify my XBox to run Linux, but no-one is allowed to manufacturer the chips to make it possible? Or am I not allowed to do that at all, because although I own the physical hardware, the liscense agreement for the software to make it run forbids me to mess with it, and the software won't run if the hardware is altered?

There are reasonable positions in this debate, on one side "Information wants to be free," people who feel that intellectual property represents a loan from the common birthright of mankind (the sum of human knowledge), on the other the owners of information that was very expensive to acquire that want a fair opportunity to be compensated for that. Hiding among both sets are opportunists, who desperately want to be mistaken as sitting on the moral high ground.

--Dave

JessicaM
10-17-2002, 08:13 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
It is copyright (specifically the DMCA) that keeps someone from reverse engineering the command set and publishing the information in book form for the independant shops. And copyright trumps anti-trust, it is a government-blessed monopoly.

It isn't a new thing in the auto-industry for the manufacturer to try and restrict the ability of independants, through requiring special tools that carried patent protection, it's a cat and mouse game that has been playing out for a century. But patent protection is weak compared to copyright, a patent can restrict me from making a wrench of a specific design, but if I can come up with a different design that will do the same job I can sell it without fear (the cross-form lug-wrench was the DeCSS of any repair that required removing the tires, it had the heads to remove the lugnuts from the three biggest automakers on one tool). Under the DMCA, even *trying* to figure out how the proprietary tool (the command codes) works is not allowed.

Remember the Mystere mess? Player writes a story featuring dark-elf torture porn, posts it to a fansite message board, and months later it comes to the attention of SOE and the player is banned from EQ? What if they had held the power to turn his PC off, permanently? XBox Live and Playstation Online will have that power.

"Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Where does the right to control the use of your intellectual property end? Does it extend to control of someone else's physical property? I'm allowed to physically modify my XBox to run Linux, but no-one is allowed to manufacturer the chips to make it possible? Or am I not allowed to do that at all, because although I own the physical hardware, the liscense agreement for the software to make it run forbids me to mess with it, and the software won't run if the hardware is altered?

There are reasonable positions in this debate, on one side "Information wants to be free," people who feel that intellectual property represents a loan from the common birthright of mankind (the sum of human knowledge), on the other the owners of information that was very expensive to acquire that want a fair opportunity to be compensated for that. Hiding among both sets are opportunists, who desperately want to be mistaken as sitting on the moral high ground.

--Dave

Damn good post, thanks. And Amen.

Bear
10-17-2002, 08:32 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel

Remember the Mystere mess? Player writes a story featuring dark-elf torture porn, posts it to a fansite message board, and months later it comes to the attention of SOE and the player is banned from EQ? What if they had held the power to turn his PC off, permanently? XBox Live and Playstation Online will have that power.

"Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Where does the right to control the use of your intellectual property end? Does it extend to control of someone else's physical property? I'm allowed to physically modify my XBox to run Linux, but no-one is allowed to manufacturer the chips to make it possible? Or am I not allowed to do that at all, because although I own the physical hardware, the liscense agreement for the software to make it run forbids me to mess with it, and the software won't run if the hardware is altered?

<snip>

--Dave

Damn. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should have tried DAoC after all.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Bear
10-17-2002, 08:53 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel

"Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Where does the right to control the use of your intellectual property end? Does it extend to control of someone else's physical property? I'm allowed to physically modify my XBox to run Linux, but no-one is allowed to manufacturer the chips to make it possible? Or am I not allowed to do that at all, because although I own the physical hardware, the liscense agreement for the software to make it run forbids me to mess with it, and the software won't run if the hardware is altered?

There are reasonable positions in this debate, on one side "Information wants to be free," people who feel that intellectual property represents a loan from the common birthright of mankind (the sum of human knowledge), on the other the owners of information that was very expensive to acquire that want a fair opportunity to be compensated for that. Hiding among both sets are opportunists, who desperately want to be mistaken as sitting on the moral high ground.

--Dave

One point I would slightly take issue with. On one side there are the "information wants to be free" people. On the other side are the "this knowledge is MINE!. MINE I TELL YOU! MINE.

In between, we have the whole range of opportunists, casual tinkerers, and the average Jane or Joe who hasn't got the slightest clue as to what the fuss is about.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Coleco_work
10-17-2002, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
And copyright trumps anti-trust, it is a government-blessed monopoly.It doesn't trump. The two causes of action of which we are speaking are not mutually exclusive. The antitrust violation comes from the vertical integration and concerted refusals to deal. It does not stem from a manufacturer's copyright interest in preventing reverse-engineering.

The auto industry by its nature (few firms, high barrier to entry, etc.) is susceptible to the antitrust problems associated with oligopoly.

An action in antitrust would not impair a manufacturer's copyright interest, it would simply seek to require manufacturer's to make the information similarly available to the non-dealer repair shops.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
But patent protection is weak compared to copyright, a patent can restrict me from making a wrench of a specific design, but if I can come up with a different design that will do the same job I can sell it without fear (the cross-form lug-wrench was the DeCSS of any repair that required removing the tires, it had the heads to remove the lugnuts from the three biggest automakers on one tool).Actually, you have this exactly backwards. Patent protection is much stronger than copyright (that is why patent protection lasts for only 20 years; requires full, public disclosure of the invention or process; and, is not created until the PTO issues the patent). And, if I own a patent, I can prevent you from exploiting your independent creation (copyright, on the other hand, does not prevent independent creation).

Indeed, I may even own a patent that I myself cannot utilize yet can prevent others from infringing my patent (because a piece of my patent may itself already be patented).

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Where does the right to control the use of your intellectual property end? Does it extend to control of someone else's physical property? I'm allowed to physically modify my XBox to run Linux, but no-one is allowed to manufacturer the chips to make it possible? Or am I not allowed to do that at all, because although I own the physical hardware, the liscense agreement for the software to make it run forbids me to mess with it, and the software won't run if the hardware is altered?I would be most curious to see how you would square this position with Mythic's position in BSI. Very interested to see not only where you would draw the line, but then how that line would apply to substantive public policy considerations. I am very confident that they would not consist.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
There are reasonable positions in this debate, on one side "Information wants to be free," people who feel that intellectual property represents a loan from the common birthright of mankind (the sum of human knowledge), on the other the owners of information that was very expensive to acquire that want a fair opportunity to be compensated for that. Well, it is hardly binary. It is a spectrum, really.

Coleco

JessicaM
10-17-2002, 11:16 AM
Originally posted by Coleco_work
It doesn't trump. The two causes of action of which we are speaking are not mutually exclusive. The antitrust violation comes from the vertical integration and concerted refusals to deal. It does not stem from a manufacturer's copyright interest in preventing reverse-engineering.

The auto industry by its nature (few firms, high barrier to entry, etc.) is susceptible to the antitrust problems associated with oligopoly.

An action in antitrust would not impair a manufacturer's copyright interest, it would simply seek to require manufacturer's to make the information similarly available to the non-dealer repair shops.

Actually, you have this exactly backwards. Patent protection is much stronger than copyright (that is why patent protection lasts for only 20 years; requires full, public disclosure of the invention or process; and, is not created until the PTO issues the patent). And, if I own a patent, I can prevent you from exploiting your independent creation (copyright, on the other hand, does not prevent independent creation).

Indeed, I may even own a patent that I myself cannot utilize yet can prevent others from infringing my patent (because a piece of my patent may itself already be patented).

I would be most curious to see how you would square this position with Mythic's position in BSI. Very interested to see not only where you would draw the line, but then how that line would apply to substantive public policy considerations. I am very confident that they would not consist.

Well, it is hardly binary. It is a spectrum, really.

Coleco

Andf another great post, thanks, Coleco!

BTW, are you an attorney? You write like one, and an experienced one, at that.

MahrinSkel
10-17-2002, 11:27 AM
Originally posted by Coleco_work
Actually, you have this exactly backwards. Patent protection is much stronger than copyright (that is why patent protection lasts for only 20 years; requires full, public disclosure of the invention or process; and, is not created until the PTO issues the patent). And, if I own a patent, I can prevent you from exploiting your independent creation (copyright, on the other hand, does not prevent independent creation).
In the context of controlling the *use* of something, copyright is much stronger. A patent on a CPU design does not give the patent holder the ability to control who I sell a computer using the CPU to or what software I run on it, the liscence to the embedded software inside the CPU can be as restrictive as the copyright holder chooses to make it. And since the embedded software is literally part of the chip, the two are inseparable and I cannot use the processing power of the patented CPU without the liscence restrictions of the copyrighted software.

Certainly, the interlocking effect of copyrighted software running on patented hardware and implementing patented business methods is significantly altering the balance between the holders of intellectual property and the users of it. And as computers become more ubiquitous parts of everyday devices, this interlocking effect can only become a more onerous stranglehold on progress.
I would be most curious to see how you would square this position with Mythic's position in BSI. Very interested to see not only where you would draw the line, but then how that line would apply to substantive public policy considerations. I am very confident that they would not consist.
Good thing they don't have to. I'm not an officer of the company, and I don't hold any ownership stake in it, so my personal ideology on intellectual property is of no significance in that context.

--Dave

MahrinSkel
10-17-2002, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by Bear
One point I would slightly take issue with. On one side there are the "information wants to be free" people. On the other side are the "this knowledge is MINE!. MINE I TELL YOU! MINE.

In between, we have the whole range of opportunists, casual tinkerers, and the average Jane or Joe who hasn't got the slightest clue as to what the fuss is about.

I wouldn't put it that way. It is defensible on a moral level to say that human knowledge is the common birthright of mankind, that we all have gained from that pool and that any advances we make in it owe something to the work of those that have gone before, and to the society that made it possible for it to be passed on to us.

And it is equally defensible to say that some knowledge is very difficult to acquire, and it is fair and just that those who cause that to happen are entitled to be rewarded.

These are the "reasonable" positions, the moral high ground. What you describe are the extremists, who claim that the only acceptable interpretation is their own, and their interpretation sees only one reasonable position. The positions are not completely incompatible, they simply require a compromise, which IP law used to be about. Yes, information needs to be paid for, so you may have exclusive use of this piece of it that you created. Yes, information wants to be free, so you may not tell others what they may do with the ideas or objects embodied in your work, and you must return the rights to the *form* to the public domain after a set period.

At this moment in history, the use of the ideas and objects is being increasingly restricted, and the forms are not being returned to the public domain. No copyrighted work will enter the public domain for at least the next 16 years, barring Supreme Court decisions or additional legislation. What would be the benefit of allowing that material to enter the public domain? As it stands, we may never get the chance to find out.

The problem is that John and Jane Doe will not be well served by either form of extremism, but seem to lack the awareness to care. That's starting to change, as video recording devices refuse to record because cable company equipment malfunctions and fails to tell them it is okay, and rental cars tell the agencies they were rented from that they were driven out of the state they were rented in.

Intellectual Property is becoming the defining social issue of our time. A few years ago I could make that statement and people would have thought I was a whacko, now at least some of the audience would agree, and few would call me crazy.

--Dave

Bear
10-17-2002, 12:38 PM
Yes, I was describing the extremist positions. And as you said, there are opportunists on both sides.

Defining issue of our time? Yes. And of every other time I think. Ideas have always been the most dangerous things in the world. "Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than the sage amongst his books..." and so on.

But how the heck are average people supposed to keep up with all this crap, when the industry experts are arguing themselves blue in the face about these issues every day, while all the time new technology keeps shifting the argument around?

Try to explain to someone who is not techno-literate why it is perfectly ok to listen to free music over the radio, and even ok to make a recroding of the radio broadcast, but it is a felony to do the same thing to music that you hear over the internet.

Try explaining that there is no problem with recording a VHS tape of a movie and giving it to a friend who happened to miss seeing it when it was on last week. But it will get you busted if you download a movie from the web for the same purpose. And then try to explain why a VHS tape is so different from a DVD in basic principle.

And then try explaining to a non-tech why they have to ask Bill Gates for special permission to re-install the operating system they they mistakenly believed they had already paid for, after that same operating system itself crashes their computer and causes them to be forced to re-install it.

It gets disheartening.

Morally, I am going to stand on the ground that the hardware belongs to me. If I want to tinker, I will tinker and ask no one's permission. If Bill Gates or Fritz Hollings wants to object, let them come and talk to me in person.

Software is less of an issue for me now on the PC, since Linux became generally useable for most things.

But I still don't see any moral problem with treating software "just like a book" the way it was in the 1980s when I started.

I am getting old and tired. This is gonna snap back in some well-established faces eventually, and I think I will be too tired of fighting it to even enjoy the spectacle. The average American citizen is a lot less naive and much less prone to be intimidated than MS, Sony, Adobe, the RIAA, the MPAA and Senator Mickey Mouse seem to believe. The average citizen just haven't paid close attention to what is going on yet.

But they will. I think Fritz better be thinking about offshore retirement.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Coleco_work
10-17-2002, 12:51 PM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
In the context of controlling the *use* of something, copyright is much stronger. A patent on a CPU design does not give the patent holder the ability to control who I sell a computer using the CPU to or what software I run on it, the liscence to the embedded software inside the CPU can be as restrictive as the copyright holder chooses to make it.What legal principle do you suggest prevents a patent-holder from imposing any of the same restirictions on her licensee that a copyright-holder might impose?

With due respect, you are confused on basic IP principles.

A patent-holder could control to whom their invention is sold (likewise, through license agreements, to any extent that such an invention is sold as part of another invention).

Again, patent protection, in all relevant respects, affords much stronger protection than copyright (note that, except in very specific circumstances, you cannot get patent protection for printed matter).

Copyright can only be infringed when a copy is made of a protected work. Copyright is not a vehicle to enforce any license agreement, but a vehicle to prevent a person from obtaining a "copy" of the protected material in a manner not authorized by the copyright-holder (or subject to any fair use or other such defense).

If somebody were to sell you a computer containing a graphics card which contained a chip that infringed my patent, you would be infringing my patent even if you bought the computer in good faith and you did not know of the infringing card (and I would be entitled to damages (if any) as well as injunctive relief). Yup, that's right, just by using my patented invention without my authority makes you an infringer:

From 35 USC § 271:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

(b) Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.

...Copyright hardly provides such protection.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
And as computers become more ubiquitous parts of everyday devices, this interlocking effect can only become a more onerous stranglehold on progress.Please. IP will work itself out. It has to.

Reaching the mass market in any commercial venture is a very, very expensive proposition. The income streams have to be protected. and the mass market will support it.

As for the stranglehold, it is only as tight (ok, perhaps a bit tighter) as it needs to be. One man's bridle is another man's, um, pleasure (patent pending).

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Good thing they don't have to. I'm not an officer of the company, and I don't hold any ownership stake in it, so my personal ideology on intellectual property is of no significance in that context.I wasn't really looking for you to defend or assail Mythic's position. From your posts, though, I infer that you have not considered your position particularly thoroughly. That is, inasmuch as it would provide a reasonable framework within which to begin to construct an IP public policy.

Coleco

Bear
10-17-2002, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by Coleco_work

Reaching the mass market in any commercial venture is a very, very expensive proposition. The income streams have to be protected. and the mass market will support it.

As for the stranglehold, it is only as tight (ok, perhaps a bit tighter) as it needs to be. One man's bridle is another man's, um, pleasure (patent pending).

I wasn't really looking for you to defend or assail Mythic's position. From your posts, though, I infer that you have not considered your position particularly thoroughly. That is, inasmuch as it would provide a reasonable framework within which to begin to construct an IP public policy.


This is a fascinating argument to a lawyer or a theorist. BUT have you ever tried to explain this to a non-technical user who just wants to watch a dang movie or listen to a song? Or, for that matter, just wants to try out a new game to see if they might like it before they buy it?

I have a very pragmatic attitude about these issues, although not quite as pragmatic as the average software pirate. So tell me please, from a pragmatic viewpoint, how do you expect these issues to work themselves out unless users just flat out refuse to put up with it anymore?

And please note that the "mass market" in which you place such faith is not quite as massive as it once was. Not for non-essentials like the Xbox or games.

And from a pragmatic point of view, is it not better to reach a reasonable consensus rather than ram an "thou shalt not" attitude down people's throats? Especially since every prohibition type of dictatorial decree that has ever been tried in America has failed miserably? Right or wrong, ethical or not, as a pragmatic fact you cannot effectively keep the American people from doing anything the hell they want. Booze or Pot, Guns or smut, pirated software or Xbox mod chips, people here are going to get what they want no matter who screams about it.

So maybe offering them a legally reasonable option that they can live with works out better in the long run, even for the copyright or patent holder?

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

MahrinSkel
10-17-2002, 02:15 PM
Originally posted by Coleco_work
What legal principle do you suggest prevents a patent-holder from imposing any of the same restirictions on her licensee that a copyright-holder might impose?
I'm not a lawyer, so I'm ill-equipped to debate legal principles, and certainly not prepared to cite statutes or case law. I'm simply a poor but honest programmer turned game designer. But I don't need to be an expert in fashion to see the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

In theory, patented objects could be controlled under any number of restrictions, either through liscence or by never selling the objects, only leasing them (since lease terms may also be as arbitrary as a good lawyer can make them). I can even think of cases where such things were done, the most widespread being the fact that not too long ago you never owned your phone, you leased it from AT&T.

However, there were built-in limitations on what you could, in practice, restrict. The lease for your phone may forbid you to modify it, but that didn't stop people from tearing out the bells, clamping on shoulder rests, or wiring them up to lights for the blind.

Copyright law post DMCA, combined with the integration of physical (patented) object and the copyrighted monitor of the use of that object, has no such limitations in practice. There are many limits to IP that were never made explicit, because they simply *were*. This is no longer true.
With due respect, you are confused on basic IP principles.
Perhaps it is basic IP principles that have become confused?
Copyright can only be infringed when a copy is made of a protected work. Copyright is not a vehicle to enforce any license agreement, but a vehicle to prevent a person from obtaining a "copy" of the protected material in a manner not authorized by the copyright-holder (or subject to any fair use or other such defense).
That is what copyright used to be, prior to the DMCA. Copyright is now asserted over "derivative works" as prosaic as screenshots.
If somebody were to sell you a computer containing a graphics card which contained a chip that infringed my patent, you would be infringing my patent even if you bought the computer in good faith and you did not know of the infringing card (and I would be entitled to damages (if any) as well as injunctive relief). Yup, that's right, just by using my patented invention without my authority makes you an infringer:

Copyright hardly provides such protection.[/quote]
Patent law does not forbid me from *thinking* about ways to defeat your patent, but copyright law forbids me from thinking about ways to access your copyrighted material you have not approved of.
Please. IP will work itself out. It has to.
Certainly. Who will be left holding the power afterwards?
Reaching the mass market in [b]any commercial venture is a very, very expensive proposition. The income streams have to be protected. and the mass market will support it.

As for the stranglehold, it is only as tight (ok, perhaps a bit tighter) as it needs to be. One man's bridle is another man's, um, pleasure (patent pending).
As someone engaged in the *creation* of intellectual property, I see many ways in which the current state of IP hinders the progress of my field, and the likely future of IP makes it seems possible, even likely, that it will be brought to a crawl.
I wasn't really looking for you to defend or assail Mythic's position. From your posts, though, I infer that you have not considered your position particularly thoroughly. That is, inasmuch as it would provide a reasonable framework within which to begin to construct an IP public policy.
I'm sorry, when did that become my job? I don't want to invest years in a law degree, nor run for public office, just so I can be considered qualified to render an opinion on a subject vital to my chosen profession.

You're obviously more knowledgable of the law than I am, and if we were in court you would make a fool of me. But we are not preparing legal briefs, but discussing principles. The purpose of copyright is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," not to make anyone rich. If the best interests of society as a whole are best served by dismantling parts of the IP structure we have grown, shouldn't we be prepared to engage in the trimming?

--Dave

Coleco_work
10-17-2002, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by Bear
This is a fascinating argument to a lawyer or a theorist. BUT have you ever tried to explain this to a non-technical user who just wants to watch a dang movie or listen to a song? Or, for that matter, just wants to try out a new game to see if they might like it before they buy it? No, I haven't. But that is only because it has never come up with a non-technical user. My mother/father/gf/bros/friends/etc have never wanted to watch a DVD on a Linux computer. They've never intimated to me that they felt that CD's or DVD's are particularly expensive. To the extent that they do not like a CD or DVD, none have had a problem returning it.

It only comes up with (quasi-)technical users.

It's a tempest in a teapot. The collective ecstasy of controversy.

From a legal standpoint, I am not at all convinced that technology requires wholesale development of "new" law. Rather, law needs an conceptual mechanism by which those adminstering the law can effectively apply existing doctrine. In many, many opinions you can see he court struggle with the brick-and-mortar analogy of cyberspace to such an extent that existing law seems to ill-apply.

The problem, I believe, is not in the law, but in the conceptualization.

Originally posted by Bear
I have a very pragmatic attitude about these issues, although not quite as pragmatic as the average software pirate. From your posts, I would hardly consider your approach "pragmatic."

Originally posted by Bear
So tell me please, from a pragmatic viewpoint, how do you expect these issues to work themselves out unless users just flat out refuse to put up with it anymore?

And please note that the "mass market" in which you place such faith is not quite as massive as it once was. Not for non-essentials like the Xbox or games. Sure it is. The market just may not be biting at the moment. Of course, with respect to IP public policy, you have to think about more than gaming. I am much more interested in the policy considerations w/r/t IP in general. Mass market industries like publishing, records, movies, etc.

Originally posted by Bear
And from a pragmatic point of view, is it not better to reach a reasonable consensus rather than ram an "thou shalt not" attitude down people's throats? Especially since every prohibition type of dictatorial decree that has ever been tried in America has failed miserably? Right or wrong, ethical or not, as a pragmatic fact you cannot effectively keep the American people from doing anything the hell they want. Booze or Pot, Guns or smut, pirated software or Xbox mod chips, people here are going to get what they want no matter who screams about it.

So maybe offering them a legally reasonable option that they can live with works out better in the long run, even for the copyright or patent holder? I am not at all convinced that the mass market thinks the status quo is particularly unreasonable. To the extent I consider you unreasonable, I certainly don't want you drawing the lines. I am equally confident that you would not be happy with those that I would draw.

Of course, I would be willing to consider (and argue) any substantive proposals you might put forth. But if you're asking would I be happy with a solution that makes everyone happy" My only answer is, "Of course!"

On second thought, it would leave with nothing against which to rebel.

Coleco

MahrinSkel
10-17-2002, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by Coleco_work
No, I haven't. But that is only because it has never come up with a non-technical user. My mother/father/gf/bros/friends/etc have never wanted to watch a DVD on a Linux computer. They've never intimated to me that they felt that CD's or DVD's are particularly expensive. To the extent that they do not like a CD or DVD, none have had a problem returning it.
Europeans have been wrestling with such problems for some time. US-coded DVD's will not play in European-coded DVD players. Through a weakness in the technology, it turned out to be possible to make region-free DVD players, now you can't get anyone to buy anything else in Europe. The MPAA is about to fight back with DVD's designed to detect regionless players and refuse to operate, and is tightening the liscence terms on manufacturers so that they will not be allowed to create multi-region players that could be switched between US and European codes.

Ordinary customers in New Jersey could not record HDTV signals because the local cable-company's equipment was not able to tell them it was okay, and the equipment refused to operate.

People all over the country think nothing of sticking a CD in their computer and burning a friend a copy, any more than they thought twice of sticking a tape in their stereo and dubbing a copy of a record. The next generation of digital audio devices will not allow digital copies, what will they think of having to drop back to audio tape technology?
Sure it is. The market just may not be biting at the moment. Of course, with respect to IP public policy, you have to think about more than gaming. I am much more interested in the policy considerations w/r/t IP in general. Mass market industries like publishing, records, movies, etc.
How well served is the public by these industries? 280,000,000 people, hundreds of thousands of musicians, and the recording industry can only find a few dozen new groups a year? Do we really need to build hardwired copyright controls into every tape deck, TV, computer, PDA, and toaster to protect them?

As I understand it, that classic ridiculous law requiring all motor vehicles to be preceded by a man on horseback carrying a red lantern was the product of a serious attempt to poison the market for automobiles by the blacksmiths, buggy-whip sharpeners, livery stables, and coach manufacturers. Who would have thought industries that at one time directly and indirectly employed such a large number of people and made so much money would have been swept away by the march of technology?

The existing structure of industry built on IP has no inherent right to persist. If there is more to gain from disposing of it than by keeping it, then it will be disposed of. IP *will* work itself out, but there may not be much left you'd recognize.

--Dave

Bear
10-17-2002, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by Coleco_work
No, I haven't. But that is only because it has never come up with a non-technical user. My mother/father/gf/bros/friends/etc have never wanted to watch a DVD on a Linux computer. They've never intimated to me that they felt that CD's or DVD's are particularly expensive. To the extent that they do not like a CD or DVD, none have had a problem returning it.

It only comes up with (quasi-)technical users.

It's a tempest in a teapot. The collective ecstasy of controversy.

Admittedly, many people enjoy a good debate. I will even acknowledge myself as being among their number. But your evasiveness is quite intriguiing. The only direct response that you made to my post was to deny the validity of the question and denigrate the importance of my (and others) opinions.

So let me rephrase this somewhat, if I may.

I began this thread on the subject of mod chips for Xbox machines, so I would like to return to that subject briefly. My main source of indignation at that time was related to attempted restrictions on the use of hardware.

I suppose I would qualify as a quasi-technical user, since I did in fact grow up with a soldering gun in my hand, assisting my father in his tv repair shop. For the past...oh....perhaps 10 years I have been amusing myself by salvaging, upgrading, repairing and building new PCs from scratch. I have worked on every kind of MS compatible PC on the market. I have spent countless hours trying to get mis-matched hardware pieces to talk to each other when they were never designed to do so. I have wrestled with PC-DOS, OS2, MS-DOS 2.0, 3.31, 4, 5, Windows 2.0, Win 3.1, Win 95a, b & c, Win 98 and Win 98 SE, Win ME and Win 2K. I have flashed many a BIOS chip, and I have also been forced by lack of alternatives to go through an entire jar full of BIOS chips, painstaking trying one after another until I found a chipset combo that would work in a particular jalopy of a motherboard.

So I would make the claim that I know enough about PC hardware to qualify as at least a quasi-technical user.

However, the people I was referring to earlier were friends and family members of my own, who have asked me to explain these issues to them. They are not generally technical at all. But they do have minds. Lacking in knowledge of the guts of a computer does not prevent them from seeing what is in front of their eyes, nor does it stop them from reading the newspaper, watching the evening news and thinking about what they have seen.

As far as the issue of pricing, and your mention of returning unwanted items, I would respectfully point out that such is not always an option. For example, in a previous post I mentioned the price on some software that my daughter required for her classes. Returning them is not an option because the instructor requires the purchase of these packages in order to do the work in her classes. Without paying the extortionate demands of Adobe, she cannot earn her degree.

In a related manner, I was required to purchase MS Office because industry standards and the economic reality of modern business makes any other office suite incompatible with the companies that I work with and for. I do not have the option of returning them, all I can do is pay out the nose to the tune of several hundred dollars and wince in pain.

However, none of this applies directly to the question of whether or not a person actually owns the hardware, not the software, the hardware, that they buy. I believe that Dave was trying to make the point that software and hardware have become so intertwined of late that you cannot separate them, speaking pragmatically :).

My question then, is how do you make someone understand these issues when they, like me, simply want to get some work done, or watch a movie or listen to a song, or play a game (this is a gaming forum after all. Jess might appreciate the occasional mention of how this issue affects gaming) without being forced to wrestle with a slop bucket full of contradictory and irrational laws.

My personal opinion is that it is rapidly becoming impossible to fully comply with the ALL the laws unless you simply avoid all electronic hardware completely.

From a legal standpoint, I am not at all convinced that technology requires wholesale development of "new" law. Rather, law needs an conceptual mechanism by which those adminstering the law can effectively apply existing doctrine. In many, many opinions you can see he court struggle with the brick-and-mortar analogy of cyberspace to such an extent that existing law seems to ill-apply.

The problem, I believe, is not in the law, but in the conceptualization.

Fine. We agree completely that a bunch of new law is not required. So why have many content providers gone ballistic in trying to ram though as many new laws as possible? Simple, they are scared. The printing press has arrived and they are afraid that their quill pen franchise is in danger. And they are correct.

From your posts, I would hardly consider your approach "pragmatic."

I am completely pragmatic. I just get enthusiastic sometimes. Hard headed and practical are some synonyms if you prefer them. However, my pragmatism is based on the viewpoint of a typical user, rather than a content provider or legal authority. I don't really care what the politcos think, I just get ticked off when someone tries to dictate to me what I can or cannot do with property that I have bought and paid for. Property rights work both ways. End users DO have some property rights relative to the hardware, and to a limited extent the software, that they have paid good money for.

Sure it is. The market just may not be biting at the moment. Of course, with respect to IP public policy, you have to think about more than gaming. I am much more interested in the policy considerations w/r/t IP in general. Mass market industries like publishing, records, movies, etc.

I am not at all convinced that the mass market thinks the status quo is particularly unreasonable. To the extent I consider you unreasonable, I certainly don't want you drawing the lines. I am equally confident that you would not be happy with those that I would draw.

Of course, I would be willing to consider (and argue) any substantive proposals you might put forth. But if you're asking would I be happy with a solution that makes everyone happy" My only answer is, "Of course!"

On second thought, it would leave with nothing against which to rebel.

I will always be able to find something against which to rebel. Rebellion is my nature and my heritage. However, there is no danger of running out any time soon with the current poilitcal and social climate in a state of chaos like it is.

My substantive proposals are as follows:

1) Hardware belongs to the end user. What the end user may choose to do to or with the hardware after they buy it is up to them. It is the property of the end user. Once the hardware is sold, the prior owner relinquishes any rights or authority over it.

2) As a matter of principle, there should always be the least possible amount of law to govern the greatest number of people. Which leads directly into...

3) Unless and until end user modifications DIRECTLY affect the rights of another party, the government should keep its hands off. And that includes allowing mega coprporations such as MS and Sony from renting judges & congresspeople to write new law on their behalf. This means that just because I may etch out a new circuit board and figure out a way to use a Sony chip on a MS board, the government has no vested interest in raiding my workshop. If, and ONLY if, I start broadcasting carrier waves that interfere with my neighbors tv reception, or do something else equally intrusive, should the government step in.

4) I should have the right to make a backup copy of my $500 software package. I should not have to run the risk of losing my investment because the software maker chose to lock in a copy protection scheme that prevents me from taking a reasonable precaution such as this. I should not have to risk fines or jail time because I downloaded a program from the internet that allows me to unlock the copy protection on the disk for the purpose of making a backup copy. Nor should the person who wrote the bypass program be forced at gunpoint to stop providing that service.

5) Since the software and the hardware work together on a modern microchip in a way that effectively makes them inseparable, it should be understood that when I buy a chip I also buy the configuration information that is coded on the chip.

Maybe this is unreasonable. But this is what I want.

I will end with a quote from my daughter:

"Well, what if they used a particular program as an example, asked us to duplicate it? (without showing us the source code, of course) Or asked us to improve upon it, as a learning exercise? Is that infringement? What if making an X-box run Linux was an undergrad mechanical engineer's final project? Would the flaming wrath of Microsoft then descend upon that student?

Is every car manufacturer stealing the intellectual property of the guy who invented the wheel? Or are they just reusing an awesome idea? If we go in this direction, pretty soon, CEOs will be able to pass code down through the generations. From my perspective, that seems like the next step the law would take, perpetual copyright"

This is the next generation's attitude. They don't look at this the way we old folks do. They are flat out getting impatient. Surprise, surprise. But I think they might possibly have a point.

Bear
"They will take my SOLDERING GUN when they pry my cold, dead fingers from around it."
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Bear
10-17-2002, 06:08 PM
BTW, speaking of cars. Do the decendents of Thomas Edison properly own the rights to every light bulb in the world? Has it been 95 years? I guess it has though. Darn. I wanted to see Edison's heirs sue the entire automotive industry as well as the entire film industry and win......maybe the next retroactive extension in copyright law will catch them up.

Here's hoping!

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com
(This post has been copyrighted 2002 by Bear the smartass. Any attempt to quote from, reproduce, refer to, fold, spindle or mutilate this material will result in having me tell Bill Gates on you and he will send lawyers to your house and make you unplug your refrigerator.)

Coleco
10-17-2002, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by Bear
But your evasiveness is quite intriguiing. Not really evasive: you provide very little to which I could respond. Consider your point 3:

Originally posted by Bear
3) Unless and until end user modifications DIRECTLY affect the rights of another party, the government should keep its hands off. Which rights need be affected? How directly?

I take it from the existence of, and your responses in, this thread that, though the Supreme Court has held the right to contract fundamental, that cannot be one of the rights the violation of which you believe should trigger governmental intervention. Because if it were, then the extent to which end-user modification violated a licensing agreement (a contract), then the government could reasonably get involved. Or would such a violation not be direct enough to trigger governmental intervention?

So, then, how do I, as an end user, know which rights I can affect and which I can't? As the government, how do I know when I can intervene and when I can't? As a judge, how do I tell for whom to rule?

Originally posted by Bear
And that includes allowing mega coprporations such as MS and Sony from renting judges & congresspeople to write new law on their behalf. While I certainly wouldn't assert that politics is not without its sleaze and special interest, comments like that do not encourage me to take you seriously.

Originally posted by Bear
This means that just because I may etch out a new circuit board and figure out a way to use a Sony chip on a MS board, the government has no vested interest in raiding my workshop. If, and ONLY if, I start broadcasting carrier waves that interfere with my neighbors tv reception, or do something else equally intrusive, should the government step in. Huh? What about if you etch such a board and start selling them at a profit? According to your assertion 1 ("Hardware belongs to the end user. What the end user may choose to do to or with the hardware after they buy it is up to them. It is the property of the end user. Once the hardware is sold, the prior owner relinquishes any rights or authority over it.") the chip manufacturer would have no recourse.

Was going to continue until ...

Originally posted by Bear
BTW, speaking of cars. Do the decendents of Thomas Edison properly own the rights to every light bulb in the world? Has it been 95 years?The light bulb would be protected under patent, not copyright.

And you wonder why I question your relevance ... color me done with you ...

That's all I got to say about that.

Coleco

Bear
10-17-2002, 06:42 PM
Originally posted by Coleco
Not really evasive: you provide very little to which I could respond. Consider your point 3:

Which rights need be affected? How directly?

I take it from the existence of, and your responses in, this thread that, though the Supreme Court has held the right to contract fundamental, that cannot be one of the rights the violation of which you believe should trigger governmental intervention. Because if it were, then the extent to which end-user modification violated a licensing agreement (a contract), then the government could reasonably get involved. Or would such a violation not be direct enough to trigger governmental intervention?

So, then, how do I, as an end user, know which rights I can affect and which I can't? As the government, how do I know when I can intervene and when I can't? As a judge, how do I tell for whom to rule?

That actually is a valid question. I was not aware that I was in the process of arguing a case in front of a judge. Are you in fact a lawyer?

However, I was referring to having a direct effect on the operation of someone else's equipment, or health, or physical well-being. I was also considering the possiblity of economic harm resulting from my actions. But then I would challenge anyone to show how either Sony or MS would be harmed economically if I managed to cobble up an interesting variant on their configuration and then offered to show my friends how to do it. By what stretch could that be considered a violation of contract? BTW, last time I purchased hardware I do not recall reading anything about an EULA regarding the hardware itself. Nothing at all.

While I certainly wouldn't assert that politics is not without its sleaze and special interest, comments like that do not encourageme to take you seriously.

While my remark may have been (all right, it was) both rude and disrespectful, I am afraid that I must bust your little bubble here. The attitude I expressed is shared by a dismally large number of my fellow voting citizens. "Senator Mickey Mouse" has become a generic term to refer to Mr. Hollings on most of the message boards that I frequent. I will grant however, that I am a low brow redneck so no doubt I hang out with the wrong sort of people.

But when a congressperson for example, goes out of their way to support and pass a law or laws that offer no direct benefit to the constuents that elected them, but rather does provide a exceptionally large degree of help to a particular industry that is on record as having made substantial contributions to their campaign, I tend to suspect the worst. Call me paranoid if you will. Or stop and consider the effect of the "appearance of impropriety" if you want to be more realistic.

Huh? What about if you etch such a board and start selling them at a profit? According to your assertion 1 ("Hardware belongs to the end user. What the end user may choose to do to or with the hardware after they buy it is up to them. It is the property of the end user. Once the hardware is sold, the prior owner relinquishes any rights or authority over it.") the chip manufacturer would have no recourse.

Was going to continue until ...

The light bulb would be protected under patent, not copyright.

And you wonder why I question your relevance ... color me done with you ...

That's all I got to say about that.

Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. Speaking of eyes, if you are unable to see well enough to distinguish an attempt at satirical humor for the purpose of making a point, then your opinion of my relevance is not going to cost me any sleep tonight.

Politically and economically, the only relevance I can claim is that of a long-term (more than 25 years) taxpaying, voting citizen who is a member of a family that also votes. And pays taxes. And buys hardware and software, including games.

If you feel you are done with me, fine. Up to you. I always strive to be as courteous as I can force myself to be. However, this is Jessica's forum, and it is operated and administered by Skotos, so I would suggest that it is up to them to set any limits that might be placed here.

And I *am* the one who began this thread and got the whole discussion started, after all. I never intended to insult, denigrate or disrespect anyone here. If I have done so inadvertently, I apologize. If not, oh well....

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Bear
10-17-2002, 09:01 PM
...then I will shut up for a while. I have been annoying enough for now.

Concerning Dave's comments about automotive vehicle codes. According to this article on CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/ptech/09/27/diagnosing.car.repairs.ap/index.html

It seems that automaker signed a deal last month to allow independent stations to access their control codes after all.

A quote:

"The deal comes after Congress held a hearing on the issue this summer and threatened to force automakers to share the codes with car owners and independent mechanics.

"This deal will protect the viability of independent service station and repair shops and ensure that consumers will continue to have a choice of automotive service providers," said Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., who introduced a bill in the Senate aimed at prying open access to the codes. "

Apparently not everyone in Congress disagrees with the concept of letting the owners of hardware decide a few things.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

JessicaM
10-18-2002, 04:08 AM
Originally posted by Bear
BTW, speaking of cars. Do the decendents of Thomas Edison properly own the rights to every light bulb in the world? Has it been 95 years? I guess it has though. Darn. I wanted to see Edison's heirs sue the entire automotive industry as well as the entire film industry and win......maybe the next retroactive extension in copyright law will catch them up.

Here's hoping!



The ghost of Tom Edison would probably try, as he was not above using violence to enforce his patents. In what can only be seen as delicious irony today (as Hollywood buys Congressmen to try to pass the DCMA), one of the reasons movie producers moved out to Hollywood at the turn of the century was to escape Edison's goon squads smashing their equipment, a significant portion of which was being used without license.

Or so I learned in Film History class.

Coleco
10-18-2002, 04:12 AM
By all means, continue to post, Bear, I didn't consider your posts rude, inconsiderate or even annoying.

I like to argue (hence, the profession--or, at least the latest profession). But I am not going to devote the time arguing a point of view likely unpopular with the audience of the forum when the party with whom I am arguing so readily retreats to the cheap and easy.

Take your assertion that, "I should have the right to make a backup copy of my $500 software package. I should not have to run the risk of losing my investment ..." That is absolutely astounding to me. Why shouldn't you, when you purchase anything, incur the responsibility to exercise whatever amount of care you deem appropriate given your investment?

The fair use exception for backup copies developed when the media were much more fragile (i.e. when floppies really were). Today, though, I am not sure that someone who can't reasonably be expected to properly care for a CD should have access to $500.

Ack! I meant only to say, "post away, Bear!"

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
The purpose of copyright is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," not to make anyone rich. If the best interests of society as a whole are best served by dismantling parts of the IP structure we have grown, shouldn't we be prepared to engage in the trimming?Be careful of non sequiturs.

Certainly, the purpose of both patent and copyright is to promote science and the useful arts. They do it in different ways, though. Patent provides much stronger protections in exchange for full, public disclosure of the invention such that a person "skilled in the art" could make your invention from the instructions in your patent. Copyright provides less protection, for a longer period of time, but copyright protection only protects a expression and not the underlying idea (granted, the idea/expression line can be very difficult to draw and has been the subject of much lititgation.

But promotion of science and the useful arts is not per se the same as promotion of the common good (social benefit is, to say the least, difficult to quantify). The most efficient way to promote such science and useful arts is to provide financial incentive for authors and inventors. So, in a very real sense, the purpose of IP is to provide the opportunity to "get rich" off of your intellectual labor.

And you are correct we should be prepared to trim. Consumers, likewise, need to be prepared to trim their expectations as well. It's just a question of what and when to trim.

As the transactional costs of copying approach zero, the risk of piracy shoot through the roof (approach infinity?). Especially when the marginal cost of making an additional copy is effectively zero.

Remember that the fair use doctrine was not statutory until the Copyright Act of 1976. It was a judically created doctrine that tried to balance the interests of authors with those of society. As the costs of copying (transaction, marginal, etc) decrease, the risk to authors/inventors increases and it may require new use restrictions.

That is, I am not sure that copyright is this voracious carnivore sating itself on the marrow of the public interest. More likely, public expectation (like most things public) is the ravenous beast run amok. I imagine, Dave, that in your line of work you are well aware of the extent to which public expectation colors public perception.

You should likewise be very familiar with the process of developing clear, concise rules to apply to people.

The policy aims of IP are sound. I think it unlikely that you will see a radically different approach to IP.

Coleco

Bear
10-18-2002, 06:14 AM
Originally posted by Coleco
By all means, continue to post, Bear, I didn't consider your posts rude, inconsiderate or even annoying.

I like to argue (hence, the profession--or, at least the latest profession). But I am not going to devote the time arguing a point of view likely unpopular with the audience of the forum when the party with whom I am arguing so readily retreats to the cheap and easy.

Well gee, thank you Coleco. With your gracious permission I may decide to continue posting here after all. Subject of course to Jessica and Skotos approving, since they are the only ones with the authority to stop me anyway. I wasn't planning on stopping due to anything you said, but rather because I am going to be busy for the next few days. (And also to see if Jessica might have been offended by my post about Edison. Since she is not, my conscience is clear. )

"...retreats to the cheap and easy"? Really now. Cheap perhaps, but I am not responsible for the easy part. If somone walks around with a duck on their head, I cannot be held responsible for the fact that they put the duck there. To put it in simple terms that you might have an easier time understanding, the issues at hand are unambiguous and the evidence of self-centered manipulation on the part of the major software vendors, as well as the appearance (at least) of impropriety on the part of some elected officials, make taking shots at the subject very easy indeed.

I really wish I could know if you are an American. It is almost impossible to judge something from only a few brief posts. But if I could confirm that you are an American I would be able to confirm my tentaive conclusions. As a working theory, I will make that assumption. Please correct me if you are not an American.

In that case, I can confidently state that you are either an old school Democrat, almost certainly from the left end of the party, or...a very young person who is still learning the fine points of debate. One or the other.

Your debating tactics are quite familiar and utterly predictable. Experienced debaters in America have mainly abandoned them because they have become ineffective against people trained in critical analysis, but they are common among youngsters and old school Liberals.

Old school Liberals always follow their preprogrammed approach like clockwork. Simply put, the program is as follows:

BEGIN: Attempt to assert a stock position on a particular subject, hoping that people will accept your position as a self-appointed expert.

IF effective, declare victory;
IF NOT effective, THEN GOTO TACTIC 1;

TACTIC 1: Introduce irrelevant and/or immaterial subjects and attempt to entangle the issue in confusion, preferably to either drive the opposition out of the debate or, failing this, to change the subject.

IF effective, GOTO BEGIN. (In other words, if this works go back to your first position and resume declaring victory;
IF NOT effective, THEN GOTO TACTIC 2;

TACTIC 2: Attempt to discredit your opposition by dismissing their opinions as irrelevant. If you can't defeat opposing opinions head on, then declare them to be non-issues (while continuing to maintain the previously enacted cloud of confusion.) You attempted this tactic with your prior posting of, "It only comes up with (quasi-)technical users." and your statement that, "It's a tempest in a teapot. The collective ecstasy of controversy." Thereby attempting to dismiss my position as unimportant.

IF effective, GOTO BEGIN;
IF NOT effective, GOTO TACTIC 3;

TACTIC 3: Attempt to conduct a campaign of character assasination by presenting your opponent as being unreasonable, or stupid, or uninformed, or otherwise a person whose opinion cannot possibly matter simply because they are not worthy of notice. You attempted this with your statement, "...when the party with whom I am arguing so readily retreats to the cheap and easy" as well as your response to my prior posts aong the lines of, "...comments like that do not encourage me to take you seriously". Such coments are basically an open admission that you cannot effectively respond to my ideas on their merits, so the only option remaining to you is evasion and misdirection.

To summarize, the tactical approach to this debate which you have adopted consists of first, stating an unpopular position. Second, attempt to avoid direct confrontation on the issues by changing the subject. If that doesn't work, dismiss you opponent as irrelevant. If they still refuse to be deflected, the only remaining recourse is to belittle them as being "not the right sort of people" and therefore unworthy of holding an opinion on the subject.

It used to be quite effective actually. Unfortunately, the techniquie is too old now, and most American people are too experienced in witnessing such debates, for it to retain much usefullness.

But it *was* a worthy effort. I salute your attempt.

Take your assertion that, "I should have the right to make a backup copy of my $500 software package. I should not have to run the risk of losing my investment ..." That is absolutely astounding to me. Why shouldn't you, when you purchase anything, incur the responsibility to exercise whatever amount of care you deem appropriate given your investment?

The fair use exception for backup copies developed when the media were much more fragile (i.e. when floppies really were). Today, though, I am not sure that someone who can't reasonably be expected to properly care for a CD should have access to $500.

Ack! I meant only to say, "post away, Bear!"

Be careful of non sequiturs.

Note again the carefully casual use of belittling language concerning, "I am not sure that someone who can't reasonably be expected to properly care for a CD should have acecess to $500". Now THAT is classical Liberal arrogance in it purest form :) The $500 I paid for that program was bought with sweat and hours out of my time. Honestly earned pay for an honest day's work.

And you are obviously NOT even a quasi-technical person. I say this not in any attempt to belittle you, but to point out that someone with even a modicum of experience in the storage and maintenance of media knows that CDs are not invulnerable. Unlike floppies, CDs are not greatly vulnerable to magnets. However, they ARE quite vulnerable to temperature extremes, they are very easy to scratch and thereby become unusable (even dropping one can do it) and they are also vulnerable to potential damage caused by malfunctioning drives.

Certainly, the purpose of both patent and copyright is to promote science and the useful arts. They do it in different ways, though. Patent provides much stronger protections in exchange for full, public disclosure of the invention such that a person "skilled in the art" could make your invention from the instructions in your patent. Copyright provides less protection, for a longer period of time, but copyright protection only protects a expression and not the underlying idea (granted, the idea/expression line can be very difficult to draw and has been the subject of much lititgation.

But promotion of science and the useful arts is not per se the same as promotion of the common good (social benefit is, to say the least, difficult to quantify). The most efficient way to promote such science and useful arts is to provide financial incentive for authors and inventors. So, in a very real sense, the purpose of IP is to provide the opportunity to "get rich" off of your intellectual labor.

And you are correct we should be prepared to trim. Consumers, likewise, need to be prepared to trim their expectations as well. It's just a question of what and when to trim.

As the transactional costs of copying approach zero, the risk of piracy shoot through the roof (approach infinity?). Especially when the marginal cost of making an additional copy is effectively zero.

Remember that the fair use doctrine was not statutory until the Copyright Act of 1976. It was a judically created doctrine that tried to balance the interests of authors with those of society. As the costs of copying (transaction, marginal, etc) decrease, the risk to authors/inventors increases and it may require new use restrictions.

That is, I am not sure that copyright is this voracious carnivore sating itself on the marrow of the public interest. More likely, public expectation (like most things public) is the ravenous beast run amok. I imagine, Dave, that in your line of work you are well aware of the extent to which public expectation colors public perception.

You should likewise be very familiar with the process of developing clear, concise rules to apply to people.

The policy aims of IP are sound. I think it unlikely that you will see a radically different approach to IP.

So plainly you are in favor of total copyright/patent authority in perpetuity? Hm...if the purpose was to promote science and the useful arts, and the laws being proposed will stop the development of new technology at its current level, (unless advances come from the copyright/patent owner directly, which they will have only a limited motivation to attempt) then how are science and the useful arts being served?

Look at Ma Bell during the decades when they owned all the phones. How many improvements did you see?

Bear
http://theforge.smnithwrite.com

Bear
10-18-2002, 06:22 AM
I hope that this is not irrelevant:)

A recent article posted by the Australian division of ABC news here:

http://abc.net.au/news/australia/2002/07/item20020726133830_1.htm

describes how a court in Austrlia recently ruled that mod chips on game stations was not a violation of copyright.

a quote:

"The court was told "chipping" allows people to play legitimately bought overseas games and copies of games, but also pirated games.

The judgement by Federal Court Justice Ronald Sackville says Sony failed to prove that PlayStation consoles have a copyright protection measure installed in the first place and therefore could not rule that a mod chip breaks copyright legislation"

Two caveats. One, Austrlia uses a different tv format than we do. Second, the guy in this case WAS still busted for selling pirated games. However the basic principle has been re-affirmed that Sony, and by extension MS, does not automatically own the right to tell a hardware owner what to do simply because they happened to be the one who manufactured the chip.

On the one hand, we have a recent decision in Hong Kong stopping a company from marketing mod chips pending a trial. Hong Kong belongs to China, a communist country with a long history of tyrannical central control. However, note that even in Hong Kong, no final decision has yet been made.

On the other hand, we have Australia, an english speaking democracy that shares much of the same legal, ethical and cultural heritage that we do.

Which court decision is more likely to be directly applicable to America?

NOW I am done for a while.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Coleco_work
10-18-2002, 06:45 AM
Well, Bear, your powers of deduction let you down. The only thing that you got right was that I am American. Oh, and that I think you are irrelevant.

Love the irony of your post, though.

Coleco

JessicaM
10-18-2002, 08:45 AM
We're coming dangerously close to violating Jessica's First Rule of Message Boards, i.e. attacking the idea, not the poster. Not surprising, as we're discussing some charged issues. Attacking ideas is acceptable; attacking each other is not certainly not.

So, while we haven't quite stepped across the line, please do remember the First Rule, lest I become cranky and do something hideous that scares the children and small animals.

Bear
10-18-2002, 08:55 AM
*bows low*

I am properly chastened madam. I deeply and sincerely regret any offense.

Coleco is quite correct in any case. I am relevant only to myself, my family, a few friends whom I cherish and, if I have been correctly informed, the God I worship.

Other than that, I am nobody. Neither rich, nor politically connected, nor in any other way tied into the national power structure. I am only relevant to MS, et. al. when they want to sell me something. I am only relevant to the politicians during election years, and even then only in passing.

I am one of the peons, the great unwashed who simply build things, pay taxes, vote, etc.

Thank Goodness.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

MahrinSkel
10-18-2002, 10:32 AM
Originally posted by Coleco
But promotion of science and the useful arts is not per se the same as promotion of the common good (social benefit is, to say the least, difficult to quantify). The most efficient way to promote such science and useful arts is to provide financial incentive for authors and inventors. So, in a very real sense, the purpose of IP is to provide the opportunity to "get rich" off of your intellectual labor.

Good, why don't we create some IP laws that do that? The current set makes the distributors of IP rich, but in many cases does very little to compensate the creators.

When duplication and distribution was difficult and expensive, it made sense that we had a "Recording Industry" rather than a music industry (before the invention of the record player and radio, there were more than 100,000 working musicians in the US who made all of their income from performing). When setting up a nation-wide TV network was a herculean task, it made sense that those who had one controlled what TV entertainment was produced. Now that it is possible to set up a "record label" with $10,000 worth of equipment, and a nationwide TV network with the resources of a single local station, why are we passing new laws to cast the old order in stone?

I'm just old enough to remember the era of 3 national TV networks, no cable (at least not where I lived) and no satellite (not for home use, anyway). I think that there is a hell of a lot better TV available now than there was back then, but if the TV networks had seen ahead of time what cable was going to do to them, they would have throttled it at birth (in fact, they did try but were too late). There's certainly a lot more *choice*. Most of the music I listen to these days I downloaded *legally* from the internet as MP3's (the rest I got on CD direct from the artists). I don't need the recording industry, they don't need the recording industry, and that's exactly what the recording industry is afraid of.

The cost of duplication and distribution dropping to effectively zero is almost certainly a *great* thing for the creators of IP. It does mean that they have to find new ways of being properly compensated for their work, but that is not a threat to anyone except those currently standing between the talent and the money.

--Dave

Mouseglove
10-18-2002, 11:21 AM
Good, why don't we create some IP laws that do that?Hear, hear!

Back to first principles. Intellectual property laws are meant to deliver the benefits of innovation to society. They’re supposed to do this in two ways. Firstly, they provide material rewards as an incentive to those who create cool new things. Secondly, the ideas are released to the public domain after the creator has had time to reap a reasonable profit. This allows all of society to benefit from the invention, and permits others to build on previous ideas to create more and more neat stuff.

Current IP laws do neither of these things well. Creators get shafted in favour of distributors, and IP rights are extended for decades after they couldn’t possibly benefit the creator (that is, decades after the creator’s death). This does not serve the public good. Intellectual property is an excellent idea in principle, but it’s savagely, brutally out of control and desperately needs to be brought back to its roots.

Coleco
10-19-2002, 07:52 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Good, why don't we create some IP laws that do that? The current set makes the distributors of IP rich, but in many cases does very little to compensate the creators.Be careful, here. The goal of IP law is not to compensate creators, but provide the mechanism through which creators can be compensated. That is, to provide a governmentally protected property right to exclude others from something intangible and non-rivalrous.

IP is still subject to the same supply and demand concepts as other goods.

It is unreasonable to blame IP for all of the ills authors endure.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
Now that it is possible to set up a "record label" with $10,000 worth of equipment ... C'mon, Dave. At least play fair.

I bailed on EE to go to school to get a music degree; started a label; ran the label for 10 years; and, sold my interest in the label for a tidy sum that allowed me to live comfortably (i.e. make my mortgage without having to work) while I went to law school .

I could say that the $5,000 my grandfather gave me to record the first record (not my own and which was intended only to get me production/engineering cred so I could get recording gigs--but, it exploded and took on a life of its own) was all it cost to "set up" my label, but that would ignore the $7M in venture capital that I raised to make a national run at it.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
... why are we passing new laws to cast the old order in stone?Because, really, the old boss is the same as the new boss. I do not deny that there are some wacko laws/legislators/judges/etc out there. I do not deny that many IP proponents put forth stupid and irrational arguments.

I am saying, think about the policies and the potential for abuse in the implementation of such possibilities.

The only thing of which we can be sure is that any IP policy will involve protecting the owner's (that is, not necessarily the creator) right to exclude. While there may be better implmentations than the status quo, there are also many scarier.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
The cost of duplication and distribution dropping to effectively zero is almost certainly a *great* thing for the creators of IP. You still have to promote it. You still have to create the demand. Demand for music does not equal demand for your music.

Such promotion, for an ongoing venture is expensive. Very. Even if you get lucky once (a la the Ass Ponys and "Little Bastard") the next one is going to cost you. And the next. And the next.

We once had an artist, very popular in their hometown. The number 2 radio station in the market (a tier 2 market, tier 1=NY, LA, etc.) supported this artist having the artist play the station's events as support, having the artist on the air in the mornings, and playing some of the artist's self-released material. But none of that support was official (i.e. not reported in the trades).

When we signed the act and released the first release on the label, we had to do a $5,000 "promotion" with the station just to get an "add" to rotation. That does not give us anything more than a report to the official trades that they added the artist to their rotation. And I am not complaining. By giving us the add, the station could not "add" a major-label artist (who would've done a much larger "promotion"). The music director doubtless had to explain our "add" to the myriad local label promoters as well as the many "independent" promoters. It's just a cause of doing business (a cost, by the way, with which I agree--if I owned a top-3 station in a tier 2 market and was spinning your record 60 times a week and you were moving tens of thousands of records a week, I would expect a little piece of cheese).

In the end, the most successful independent artists are invariably the ones to bash it out on the road, playing music attractive to a broad demographic with lots of disposable income, night after night, self-financing themselves (think Dave Matthews, Metallica, Trout Fishing in America, etc.). All things that have very little to do with IP.

Originally posted by MahrinSkel
It does mean that they have to find new ways of being properly compensated for their work, but that is not a threat to anyone except those currently standing between the talent and the money.No thanks. Don't want socialism.

Labels get a horrendous rap, and it is not all undeserved. But it is also not entirely deserved. Labels effectively front the venture capital to make all the other aspects of artists' careers valuable (i.e. publishing, touring, pa's, endorsements, etc.-- value in which the label does not participate).

Music industry's lack of respect for the "art" is certainly no greater the art's lack of respect for the "investment." Art and commerce are, almost by definition, in tension-- that's what kicks so much ass about it, makes it so sexy.

Coleco

Mylon
10-19-2002, 08:22 AM
Originally posted by Coleco Take your assertion that, "I should have the right to make a backup copy of my $500 software package. I should not have to run the risk of losing my investment ..." That is absolutely astounding to me. Why shouldn't you, when you purchase anything, incur the responsibility to exercise whatever amount of care you deem appropriate given your investment?

The fair use exception for backup copies developed when the media were much more fragile (i.e. when floppies really were). Today, though, I am not sure that someone who can't reasonably be expected to properly care for a CD should have access to $500.

Apparently you've never had a hyperactive newphew or a easily angered sister or a vengant significant other. It's quite easy for someone to take a paper clip, drag it across the TOP of the CD (and remove the silvered layer instead of just putting a dent in the clear plastic layer on the bottom) and destroy the entire CD in half a second. Or for my car, which contains some 10 CDs inside of it, to be stolen and for me to loose $200 worth of CDs _in addition_ to the car itself (and I've seen how my car can be stolen. Use a clotheshanger and slip it underneath the window to catch the lock and open the door, pop the hood, then use any key (or quite possibly the clotheshanger) to arc the battery to the starter.)

I should very well have the ability to make backups of whatever well I damn please. After all, I purchased the right to use the software, not the CD. The CD just happens to be a convienant means of delivery. I should still maintain that right even if I lose the CD.

Stix
10-19-2002, 12:49 PM
Originally posted by Coleco
Art and commerce are, almost by definition, in tension-- that's what kicks so much ass about it, makes it so sexy.
In your humble opinion, that is. I find it distasteful and disgusting.

Coleco
10-19-2002, 09:27 PM
Originally posted by Mylon
Apparently you've never had a hyperactive newphew or a easily angered sister or a vengant significant other. It's quite easy for someone to take a paper clip, drag it across the TOP of the CD (and remove the silvered layer instead of just putting a dent in the clear plastic layer on the bottom) and destroy the entire CD in half a second. I guess that really inspires only 2 questions for me:

1) Where do you keep the backup copies so that they don't also get destroyed through your poor choice of sig. other or inability to control children? and,

2) Why not just keep the originals in that same safe place.

Logic, not just for breakfast anymore.

Originally posted by Mylon
Or for my car, which contains some 10 CDs inside of it, to be stolen and for me to loose $200 worth of CDs _in addition_ to the car itself. Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand. Fortunately, my insurance covered the value of the car and my CD's (they torched my auto, leaving the dashboard in what can only be described as an exercise in modern art). But I also believe in personal responsibility and do not rely on others to indemnify my poor choices or bad luck (at least, to any extent I do rely on others, I pay for it).

Nitey nite,

Coleco

Mylon
10-20-2002, 06:49 AM
Originally posted by Coleco
I guess that really inspires only 2 questions for me:

1) Where do you keep the backup copies so that they don't also get destroyed through your poor choice of sig. other or inability to control children? and,

2) Why not just keep the originals in that same safe place.

Logic, not just for breakfast anymore.

Yeah. I'm gonna get up from my computer, go to my safe, open it up, get the CD, close the safe, put it into my computer, as so on, just so I can play a game without ever worrying about the CD being destroyed. Yeah, I'm more likely to fall on the CD itself on the trip there. Keep in mind that printed CDs look visually attractive (nephew) or important (sister) while bland CDs with scribbling do not. There's plenty of reasons why I'd rather have a backup.

Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand. Fortunately, my insurance covered the value of the car and my CD's (they torched my auto, leaving the dashboard in what can only be described as an exercise in modern art). But I also believe in personal responsibility and do not rely on others to indemnify my poor choices or bad luck (at least, to any extent I do rely on others, I pay for it).

Nitey nite,

Coleco

Nice insurance company, but I'd rather not take the chance. My car has copied CDs, not originals.

MahrinSkel
10-20-2002, 07:00 PM
Originally posted by Coleco
Be careful, here. The goal of IP law is not to compensate creators, but provide the mechanism through which creators can be compensated. That is, to provide a governmentally protected property right to exclude others from something intangible and non-rivalrous.

IP is still subject to the same supply and demand concepts as other goods.

It is unreasonable to blame IP for all of the ills authors endure.
Yes and no. It looks to me like some of the old rules may no longer apply. To be more accurate, that they never really did, but were only useful approximations for what was really happening.

There have been UO Server emulators almost as long as there's been a UO, technically they represent a severe violation of use exclusion. Yet they have never had any measurable impact on UO, the only places they've had any significant numbers are where real UO servers were effectively unavailable (such as Brazil).

There's an implicit assumption in all the estimates of the amount of piracy in content: That the beneficiaries of piracy would, in the absence of pirated content, have purchased the legitimate version. But downloading "Enter Sandman" from Gnutella does not mean that if I couldn't have downloaded it, I would have bought a CD.

The recording industry once accused the radio stations of stealing music, now they pay them to play it. Maybe sometime in the not too distant future, bands will desperately try to attract enough attention to have their MP3's downloaded.
C'mon, Dave. At least play fair.

I bailed on EE to go to school to get a music degree; started a label; ran the label for 10 years; and, sold my interest in the label for a tidy sum that allowed me to live comfortably (i.e. make my mortgage without having to work) while I went to law school.

I could say that the $5,000 my grandfather gave me to record the first record (not my own and which was intended only to get me production/engineering cred so I could get recording gigs--but, it exploded and took on a life of its own) was all it cost to "set up" my label, but that would ignore the $7M in venture capital that I raised to make a national run at it.
$5,000 dollars bought you studio time to make a master, right? But you needed $7 million to get your own duplication equipment, hook into the distribution networks, pay promoters, etc.

That's what is really at risk in the loss of core costs: if distribution costs nothing, there's no such thing as a profit margin.
Because, really, the old boss is the same as the new boss. I do not deny that there are some wacko laws/legislators/judges/etc out there. I do not deny that many IP proponents put forth stupid and irrational arguments.

I am saying, think about the policies and the potential for abuse in the implementation of such possibilities.

The only thing of which we can be sure is that [b]any IP policy will involve protecting the owner's (that is, not necessarily the creator) right to exclude. While there may be better implmentations than the status quo, there are also many scarier.
But will the structure that allows the recording industry to be the owner survive?
You still have to promote it. You still have to create the demand. Demand for music does not equal demand for your music.

Such promotion, for an ongoing venture is expensive. Very. Even if you get lucky once (a la the Ass Ponys and "Little Bastard") the next one is going to cost you. And the next. And the next.
But who is going to be working for who? Promotion will always be needed, but will everyone continue to be working for the recording industry, or will bands break free?

I have a casual acquaintanceship with some musicians that have refused record offers. Regionally successful, they produce their own CD's and sell them at their shows and over the internet. They are so comfortable with internet downloads of their music, they put MP3's of most of their recorded songs on their website, and each CD has a data track with all the songs they've ever recorded in MP3 format. At any given time they have a dozen or so songs they consider "in progress" that are only performed live, never recorded.

As I said, they've refused to sign with any label. From their viewpoint, they have little to gain. They're unlikely to become mega-stars, and anything less leaves them with less money than they are making now, indentured servants who can only play what they are allowed to.

I have to wonder, how many more are there out there like them? If I was in the RIAA, that thought would terrify me.
In the end, the most successful independent artists are invariably the ones to bash it out on the road, playing music attractive to a broad demographic with lots of disposable income, night after night, self-financing themselves (think Dave Matthews, Metallica, Trout Fishing in America, etc.). All things that have very little to do with IP.
Mmm.... Yes and no, Metallica has managed to stay popular long enought to dictate terms to the labels, but that's in part because they recovered the rights to their music (something that can no longer happen, since musicians are now considered "work for hire" contractors by default).

For the better part of 50 years, the RIAA have been the gatekeepers of coolness, if you didn't pass by them, you didn't have a chance (with exceedingly rare exceptions). Now it has become much more possible an act to bootstrap themselves. Are we being overwhelmed by manufactured boy bands and pneumatic blondes simply because no-one else is willing to deal with the recording industry anymore?
No thanks. Don't want socialism.

Labels get a horrendous rap, and it is not all undeserved. But it is also not entirely deserved. Labels effectively front the venture capital to make all the other aspects of artists' careers valuable (i.e. publishing, touring, pa's, endorsements, etc.-- value in which the label does not participate).

Music industry's lack of respect for the "art" is certainly no greater the art's lack of respect for the "investment." Art and commerce are, almost by definition, in tension-- that's what kicks so much ass about it, makes it so sexy.
Who's talking socialism? I'm talking about revolution, paradigm change, but socialism doesn't even enter into it. There are alternatives to plutocracy that are not socialism.

The labels have been in a position of strength, predicated on the extremely high cost of getting a seat at the table when it came to distribution and promotion. If that barrier to entry goes away, maybe the labels will have to re-invent themselves, contracting their services as promoters and distributors to artists who don't feel desperate to take whatever crumbs they are allowed.

The fundamental ground rules about what is and is not important in developing valuable IP are changing, as an unavoidable consequence of technological advance. Technology is a bitch, the electron giveth a business model, and the electron taketh away. The harder the old order struggles, the messier it will be for them at the end. Either way, "get over yourselves, they are coming."

--Dave

Tappen
10-22-2002, 03:40 PM
Woot, you go ... er, Dave. This is the best post I've seen here in quite awhile.

Bear
10-22-2002, 08:23 PM
This might be relevant. It is interesting at least.

Taken from The Register USA, this article can be found at:

http://www.theregus.com/content/54/26725.html

Apparently MS has reacted to the recent court decision in Australia concerning Sony mod chips by declaring that if Australia will not make it illegal to touch "their" machines, then MS might decide to simply not sell them in Australia at all.

Steve Ballmer is quoted as saying:

"Given the way the economic model works, and that is a subsidy followed, essentially, by fees for every piece of software sold, our licence framework has to do that," he said. "If there are aspects that are not allowed, it would encourage us to require a change in the legal framework. Otherwise, it wouldn't make economic sense."

Plainly, the idea of adjusting their economic model to more accurately reflect real-world conditions (i.e. the truth is, people will tinker no matter who tells them not to) is completely out of bounds for MS.

The really good part, to me personally, is the conclusion of the article:

"Microsoft however is particularly interesting here, because it's coming from the PC end of the business, the Xbox is a PC really, and we're seeing the company develop and transition PC-style approaches to security and licensing into the console arena. And assuredly, some of these will be going back in the other direction, and if you consider the new Ts & Cs covering machine IDs, DRM and the like, you can see it's already happening.

That's before you take into account the possibility/probability that platforms such as Tablet PC, Mira and Windows XP Media Center will close up along the lines of games consoles. It's been suggested to us several times recently that there is a growing need for a Free Hardware Foundation - this is beginning to have a certain logic, we think."

Perhaps my paranoia on this matter is not an isolated case.

Has MS ever heard of truth in advertising? I am not joking here.

If they are merely going to lease the machines, why not say so? If they lease the Xbox and retain property ownership over it, then no one can deny their right to restrict user modifications.

However, if someone is going to sell a machine with the inherent assumption of actually transferring ownership rights, then what the owner of the property does with his or her own hardware is their own business.

In my possibly irrelevant opinion of course.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Bear
10-24-2002, 05:45 AM
Originally posted by MahrinSkel

Who's talking socialism? I'm talking about revolution, paradigm change, but socialism doesn't even enter into it. There are alternatives to plutocracy that are not socialism.

The labels have been in a position of strength, predicated on the extremely high cost of getting a seat at the table when it came to distribution and promotion. If that barrier to entry goes away, maybe the labels will have to re-invent themselves, contracting their services as promoters and distributors to artists who don't feel desperate to take whatever crumbs they are allowed.

The fundamental ground rules about what is and is not important in developing valuable IP are changing, as an unavoidable consequence of technological advance. Technology is a bitch, the electron giveth a business model, and the electron taketh away. The harder the old order struggles, the messier it will be for them at the end. Either way, "get over yourselves, they are coming."

--Dave

Article on CNET here:

http://news.com.com/2010-1071-963113.html?tag=fd_nc_1

Quote:

"In the coming decade, decentralization will be the critical challenge for the technology, media and telecommunications industries. Each has developed with the assumption that powerful central forces will manage development. Enterprise IT has "big iron" servers and monolithic software applications; communications has carriers investing in huge infrastructure build-outs; and media has content owners controlling distributions channels.

These approaches are under siege--and not because there's a New Economy, or because information deserves to be free, or because of any fluctuation in the stock market. Centralized systems are failing for two simple reasons: They can't scale, and they don't reflect the real world of people. "

Tha article uses online gaming as one of the prime examples of the effectiveness of decentralization.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Bear
10-24-2002, 08:57 AM
I will post one last link and shut up about this. Finally. Heck with it, this is just too easy.

I started this thread to draw attention to the way content providers are trying to establish legal authority over other people's property without retaining any responsibility toward their customers. Kind of like extending the extortionate (my opinion) demands of a typical software EULA to the hardware realm. I also intended to try to get people thinking about the potential long term danger inherent in this.

Ultimately, authority and responsiblity must balance. If I retain authority over a piece of property, for example if I lease something to you, then simple basic reason will tell most people that I must also retain some portion of responsiblity for maintaining my property, and at least some residual responsiblity for any damage my property might be used to inflict.

However, if I sell a piece of property, whether it be a car, or an electronic appliance, or a piece of land, then I must reasonably acknowledge that I have foregone the right to dictate terms to the new owner. By the action of selling something I have effectively abdicated any authority over the property, since it no longer belongs to me. The current owner now possesses the same rights and authority that I once did, prior to the sale.

Software escapes this requirement by not selling the software itself, just a license to use it. This is legal, if not ethical, and again that is a matter of opinion.

The only exception to this that I can see as being at all reasonable is a case where a PRIOR contract is knowingly signed by BOTH parties before the sale. Like when I buy a house in a subdivision that does not allow pets, or whatever. In that case there is a contractual exception. In other words, I have knowingly and in advance agreed to allow someone else to retain partial authority over me in order to obtain a property that I want badly enough.

For my part, I will never in this life want any property anywhere badly enough to sign such an agreement, but I do not dispute the validity of such contracts to those who do sign them.

But this does not apply to such things as an Xbox or a PlayStation. When you buy one you simply take it to the counter and pay for it. No contract is presented. You are not advised in advance that the previous owner (MS, Sony or whoever) intends to retain authority over the use to which you put your new property. You are neither asked nor expected to sign anything like a contract. You just pay for your new toy and walk out with it.

By what right do MS, Sony or any other company claim authority over my personal property?

This thread has wandered all over the map. It has branched off into discussions of patent and copyright law, which is not what I started this thread to talk about, but that is the nature of a free form discussion forum. They do wander around a lot and this keeps things interesting.

I, however, have had all I can stand. Y'all have fun debating, I am quitting with this one.

To end on yet another blatantly obvious note, I recommend the following link:

http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,55926,00.html

This particular story chronicles the woes of an independent musician who wanted to sell his own stuff on Ebay. Not pirated material, his own music that he produced himself. The automated piracy detection software (so beloved by the RIAA) repeatedly identified him as a pirate, simply because he was selling something on a CD-R. Finally he gave up in disgust and took his business elsewhere. Fortunately for him, there was an "elsewhere" that he could go to Specifically:

"Unless musicians want to sell their music straight off their own websites -- which likely limits their exposure, depending on their existing fan base -- there aren't many places to go.

CD Baby out of Portland, Oregon, offers one of the few attractive options.

Started by Derek Sivers in 1998, the company has paid out over $2 million to 25,000 musicians who sell their merchandise online. With little overhead and a small staff, the group handles about 600 sales a day. Those shipments are tracked, and every Monday Sivers sends out about $40,000 in checks.

That may not be enough to entice eBay or Tower Records to change the way they operate, but as record sales continue to plummet worldwide, Sivers has found a way to build a solid -- and independent -- music retail store for musicians like Ziemann.

'There is no one independent musician considered to be a big enough deal for other companies," Sivers said, "but by treating the little people like they aren't important enough, these companies are missing out on the 25,000 musicians who still need a place to be.'"

Distribution is not the same expensive ordeal that it once was. As Dave said, the electron giveth and the electron taketh away.

Enjoy the argument.

Bear
http://theforge.smithwrite.com

Mylon
10-24-2002, 06:08 PM
I think is what Microsoft is so angry about is most console machines are sold at a loss. In order for the consoles to be profitable, they have to make up the loss of the machine through the licensing fees paid to them for game units sold. If people buy the console but don't buy any of the games for the console, Microsoft will loose money on those sales. This is exactly the threat that the tweakers propose to Microsoft. After all, with an XBox you're getting about 800 mhz machine + dvd drive + ethernet port + at least a Geforce 2 card, and probably a hard drive, all for the incredibly low price of $200. If this was easily converted into a real PC by changing out the OS, these things would be great bargain computers, all at Microsoft's expense, and if you're not using it for xbox gaming you're not giving Microsoft back their money.

MahrinSkel
10-25-2002, 04:39 AM
That's always the risk you run with a "loss leader", that people will buy the thing you sell at a loss without buying anything else.

--Dave

petedarby
10-29-2002, 05:02 AM
So why don't Microsoft take a leap of faith, do some better quality control on their self published, or even licensed titles, and put the games out at a lower, but still profitable price point?

AFAICS, the present pricing model is all to cock: If a console costs the same as 4 games for it, either the console is under-priced, or the games are over priced. I'll take door number 2 on that one: I find the cost of consoles today pretty good value for money, but the cost of the individual games makes me blench. hence, no console in the Darby household.

Mylon
10-29-2002, 02:52 PM
I'm definitely not an expert on this issue, so feel free to shut me up, but I think the problem with console gaming prices is that the people granting the licenses to make console games (IE, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) charge a fairly high amount of money in terms of per-unit basis. That's one reason why 2-3 year old PC games will go for $10, but it might take 5 years for a console game to hit $20 (Final Fantasy 7, anyone?) if they bother to keep printing it at all.

Tappen
10-30-2002, 04:24 PM
That's always the risk you run with a "loss leader", that people will buy the thing you sell at a loss without buying anything else.

I agree, and making your gaming console based on PC components with well-known prices and plenty of alternative software is a very risky loss leader. It seems to me that the console makers are taking a big risk and then trying to pretend they didn't using the court system to stop alternate uses of their hardware. The public and court system should recognize this loss leader strategy for what it is, and make them live with the consequences. Microsoft in particular is very hypocritical if it thinks it should be allowed to push the boundaries of the legal system to protect its profit margin.

MahrinSkel
11-01-2002, 05:37 AM
Originally posted by Tappen
I agree, and making your gaming console based on PC components with well-known prices and plenty of alternative software is a very risky loss leader. It seems to me that the console makers are taking a big risk and then trying to pretend they didn't using the court system to stop alternate uses of their hardware. The public and court system should recognize this loss leader strategy for what it is, and make them live with the consequences. Microsoft in particular is very hypocritical if it thinks it should be allowed to push the boundaries of the legal system to protect its profit margin.

To be truthful, MS does have some grounds to be worried. As soon as it was announced that XBox hardware would be essentially a purpose-built PC with the CPU power of a Pentium 3, the GPU of a Geforce 3, and a built-in networking port, people started speculating about rigging them up as cheap modules for a rendering farm and other major applications that normally involve rack-mount and blade systems in large numbers. A blade server with the capabilities of an XBox costs around a grand per unit, and most of the cases you'd use them you'd use a hundred of them. A few hobbyists running Linux on XBox just to prove they can isn't a threat, somebody backing up a truck to every Walmart in L.A. in order to build the server farm for the next Pixar movie is a whole different story.

--Dave

Tappen
11-01-2002, 08:41 AM
I read the same speculations when they came out, Dave, and so did Microsoft managers. That's why they built so many redundant hardware and software security levels into the XBox. But just because a company is justified in believing that their loss leader pricing policy could cost them a lot of money doesn't give them the right to legal remedy. I supposed it's reasonable for Microsoft to try, but the courts, politicians and public have no moral responsibility to save them from their own decisions and rewrite or re-interpret fair use laws.

Mouseglove
11-01-2002, 10:13 AM
A few hobbyists running Linux on XBox just to prove they can isn't a threat, somebody backing up a truck to every Walmart in L.A. in order to build the server farm for the next Pixar movie is a whole different story. That's the most hilarious image I've had in months. It would be worth it just to see the expession on Bill Gates' face at his next public appearance.