View Full Version : The right to read


Steven Lake
03-30-2010, 12:16 PM
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

Someone recently pointed me to this article about how the crazed insanity surrounding copyright is not only hurting us, the authors, but also the readers as well, and all in the name of unadulterated greed. Not sure if this has already been posted here (nothing showed up in search), so I'm guess it hasn't. Either way, read and comment.

Kali Yuga
03-30-2010, 05:21 PM
Uh huh. Richard Stallman happens to be a fanatic, and opinions along the same lines as what he holds often get bandied about.

This essay is a particular piece of hyperbole of his is merely a straw man argument, one not really worth responding to. I suggest you do something more productive with your time, like read an actual book. ;)

Elfwreck
03-30-2010, 05:29 PM
Someone recently pointed me to this article about how the crazed insanity surrounding copyright is not only hurting us, the authors, but also the readers as well, and all in the name of unadulterated greed.

It is hurting the readers as well-but it's not *all* in the name of greed.

Copyright exists to find a way to convince authors, artists, & scientists to publish widely, rather than to limit their distribution to channels they can personally control. (In the US, that's official; in other countries, it's implied.) Without some kind of limitations on copying & distribution, nothing prevents Random House from downloading Steve Jordan's new book and releasing it under their own logo, without paying him anything for it.

Copyright may not be the only way to prevent this, but it's what we've got for now; attempts to abolish IP law need to *first* figure out how we'll prevent corporations from taking over people's work without compensation.

(That said--I like a lot of Stallman's ideas, even if I think he's a bit over the top in spots. And I think the lack of privacy online is a big concern and will be a bigger one.)

delphidb96
03-30-2010, 06:53 PM
Uh huh. Richard Stallman happens to be a fanatic, and opinions along the same lines as what he holds often get bandied about.

This essay is a particular piece of hyperbole of his is merely a straw man argument, one not really worth responding to. I suggest you do something more productive with your time, like read an actual book. ;)

You keep right on telling yourself that! I'm sure your views will be of particular comfort later on when you're thrown in prison (for life of course) for having 'aided and abetted literature piracy' for simply being friends of 'illegal readers'.

Of course, I'll be sharing your cell as I'll no doubt be classified as one of those 'illegal readers'. :D

Derek

Penforhire
03-30-2010, 09:49 PM
The content seemed more like an argument for our continued right to encryption, not necessarily reading material. If the future evolved in that direction we would all have personal encrypted storage and lending your PC would be "no big deal" since the guest would use another partition. Of course, if encryption is ever outlawed ...

FYI, current encryption programs such as TrueCrypt allow 'false' volumes you can decode in case you are forced to give up your key, say by court order.

jgaiser
03-30-2010, 11:50 PM
Uh huh. Richard Stallman happens to be a fanatic, and opinions along the same lines as what he holds often get bandied about.


Richard is a bit excessive in his hyperbole, but he has some good points if you dig through the crud. I also don't agree with everything he says/writes, but he and others in the Free Software community have done much to provide alternatives to the Microsoft hegemony. Sometimes being a fanatic is a good thing.

How's that for hyperbole?

Steven Lake
03-31-2010, 08:50 AM
It is hurting the readers as well-but it's not *all* in the name of greed.

Copyright exists to find a way to convince authors, artists, & scientists to publish widely, rather than to limit their distribution to channels they can personally control. (In the US, that's official; in other countries, it's implied.) Without some kind of limitations on copying & distribution, nothing prevents Random House from downloading Steve Jordan's new book and releasing it under their own logo, without paying him anything for it.

Copyright may not be the only way to prevent this, but it's what we've got for now; attempts to abolish IP law need to *first* figure out how we'll prevent corporations from taking over people's work without compensation.

(That said--I like a lot of Stallman's ideas, even if I think he's a bit over the top in spots. And I think the lack of privacy online is a big concern and will be a bigger one.)
Well, copyright in its proper form is a good thing. The problem isn't what it should be. It's what it's become at the hands of a greedy few. Why should my readers suffer just because someone wants to rob, pillage, and plunder everyone and everything they can all the merry day long? A really fine example of this is fair use. Wow, is that ever under attack. These days you can actually get sued, and in some cases thrown in jail, just for whistling a song without a license for public performance, or even playing your radio, or worse yet, sharing a legally purchased copy of a book with a friend. Some companies will actually press criminal copyright theft charges against you if you let someone else borrow your book to read it, instead of forcing them to buy their own copy. I myself don't agree with that stance. But I'm just a mouse fart compared to the huge, multi-billion dollar corporations driving all this copyright and copytheft madness.

Hamlet53
03-31-2010, 09:26 AM
Yeah, copyright as applied now is not perfect. I especially don't like that, at least in the U.S., copyright has become a sort of open-ended, in terms of duration, protection. This is extending it beyond its valid purpose to encourage the creative work by assuring that the creator will retain control of the work and receive just compensation for his creativity and effort.

However, for now it is the best thing we have go to attempt to provide this protection. I also see only parallels between copyright and patents for inventions.

Steven Lake
03-31-2010, 11:17 PM
Um, I agree with most of that Hamlet, but the part where I disagree comes in the fact that there's a lot of companies, Disney being one of the biggest, who benefit from this perpetual copyright fiasco. Why? Because they have a cash cow and they intend to milk it until it dies. They don't want to be original. They don't want to think outside the box or make anything new. The only way you'll get them to do that is if they're forced to, and even then they'll cash cow it to death and go postal on your hyde if you even dream about touching their little baby. In short, they want to take whatever they can get their hands on, bleed it dry of monetary value, and then throw it away after it's completely spent and worthless to anyone else.

By rights, Mickey Mouse should be public domain by now. So should a lot of other things. But the media companies, the biggest driver of this copyright madness, refuses to allow it to happen, because to do so means they have to become original again, and originality in hollywood is pretty much dead, save for a few exceptions, and even those aren't all that original. Mostly because hollywood is hooked on formulas. Formulas that cash cow things, suck the maximum value out of them, and then throw their dead, rotting corpse in the ditch when they're done with them.

I at one time would have loved to have had my books done up as movies, tv shows, and/or mini-series. Now I'm seriously questioning that idea. :( Of course, if I did, one of the stipulations in my contract would be that all stuff released would have to be DRM free, and if people pirated it, they wouldn't be allowed to go after them. Of course, you know that'd fly like a lead balloon, but oh well. I'm sick of the mess they've made, and I refuse to be a part of that.

HarryT
04-01-2010, 12:58 PM
Well, copyright in its proper form is a good thing. The problem isn't what it should be. It's what it's become at the hands of a greedy few. Why should my readers suffer just because someone wants to rob, pillage, and plunder everyone and everything they can all the merry day long?

You are entirely free to place your work into the public domain if you wish, or to release it under a Creative Commons licence. If your readers are "suffering" as a result of copyright law, you can do something about it.

Elfwreck
04-01-2010, 02:19 PM
You are entirely free to place your work into the public domain if you wish, or to release it under a Creative Commons licence. If your readers are "suffering" as a result of copyright law, you can do something about it.

It's not entirely clear that a person *can* place works into the public domain; there's no legal mechanism for doing so, at least in the US. Certainly, there is no way to say, "I maintain copyright of this for 25 years, at which point I'll decide if I wish to extend it for another 25 years, after which it's released into the public domain."

So far, declarations of "I put this in the public domain" have been taken as "copy at will"--but none of those have been challenged in court. (Presumably, the author wouldn't challenge it, but his heirs might.)

MovieBird
04-01-2010, 04:24 PM
But the media companies, the biggest driver of this copyright madness, refuses to allow it to happen, because to do so means they have to become original again, and originality in hollywood is pretty much dead, save for a few exceptions, and even those aren't all that original. Mostly because hollywood is hooked on formulas. Formulas that cash cow things, suck the maximum value out of them, and then throw their dead, rotting corpse in the ditch when they're done with them.

This is entirely our own fault. When we, the public, stops paying $15.50 (http://laist.com/2009/12/28/arclight_raises_weekday_ticket_pric.php) for the latest Micael Bay shitacular abomination, or the latest Twilight, or Predator vs Alien, or (I can go on forever), then Hollywood will take a collective gasp for air and start innovating in order to afford their BMWs.

The best thing you can do is support quality media, be it mass produced or indie.

Kali Yuga
04-01-2010, 06:47 PM
It's not entirely clear that a person *can* place works into the public domain....
FYI you can explicitly place your own works into PD, and it has been tested in court:

http://cr.yp.to/publicdomain.html

You can willingly abandon or forfeit your copyrights, you just have to make a public declaration. That way, it can be differentiated from neglect of a copyright (which could be resumed at a later time).

Steven Lake
04-08-2010, 04:53 PM
MovieBird: Well, first you have to stop all the blindly lead sheeple from flowing in there and then the problem of bad movies will be solved. But good luck getting the "cattle/sheeple" from blindly doing what everyone else is.

Jaime_Astorga
04-09-2010, 09:46 AM
I've read this story before. It's got some great ideas, but is rather lacking stylistically; Stallman's prose is very clinical.

The content seemed more like an argument for our continued right to encryption, not necessarily reading material.
A lot of great reading material could be considered arguments for positions/philosophies; for instance, 1984 serves primarily as a vehicle for Orwell's views on governments, politics, and the dangers and nature of totalitarianism.

It's not entirely clear that a person *can* place works into the public domain; there's no legal mechanism for doing so, at least in the US. Certainly, there is no way to say, "I maintain copyright of this for 25 years, at which point I'll decide if I wish to extend it for another 25 years, after which it's released into the public domain."
That's true, but there's a license called CC0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain) which is maintained by Creative Commons specifically to get around this problem. It's legal language puts the work as close to the public domain as the jurisdiction in question legally allows.