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Old 05-23-2012, 11:44 PM   #1
Rizla
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Is digital copyright incompatible with technology and / or democracy?

It's a question of two parts:

First of all: is digital (and I'm talking e-book) copyright incompatible with technology? Piracy has proved resilient. Can piracy be physically halted? The methods of piracy AFAIK are 1) torrents, 2) download sites and 3) usenet.

1) Torrents can be stopped. It is not anonymous. Torrent users are easily identified and open to prosecution.
2) Download sites can be taken down. The famous recent case is megaupload. The owner was dragged from his mansion and held to the ground at gunpoint. Ouch. Yet download sites continue to operate and ply their nefarious wares. But if they can't be taken down, they can be fire-walled like they do in China.
3) Usenet. This is private file-sharing network, but it relies on central servers. These can be taken down too.

So it seems to me that, from a technical perspective, digital copyright is not incompatible with technology. Copyright can continue to be effective in the current technological landscape and the prospects are gloomy for our swashbuckling friends.

The second part of the question is: is e-book copyright incompatible with democracy?

Consider megaupload. It seems it was take-downable because it hosted servers on US soil. The owner was not sufficiently careful regarding the letter of the law. Yet other sites continue. Presumably they operate from countries that do not share a common appliable law on copyright. To finally stop pirates accessing these sites, either 1) a common international law must be agreed upon and applied (i.e. send in the INTERPOL SWAT team) or 2) they are blocked via firewall. It seems to me that fire-walling a country will prove to be damaging to democracy. Do you trust the law-makers? What will they stop? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

So it seems to me that that realistically digital copyright is incompatible with democracy. The tools to block piracy will also be used to reduce democracy.

That's my take on it. I am opposed to piracy (and incidentally to monopolistic price-gouging, but that's another story), but I am pro-democratic. I expect to see the internet become a less free and more controlled environment. I think that's bad news, and I'd be delighted if anyone can dissuade me of my ominous opinion.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:50 PM   #2
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There just must be a legal process to add a website to be blocked by the filter. Just like the police would shut down a store that sells bootlegged DVDs. You need to go through the legal process and not just have some politicians decide for you.
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:40 AM   #3
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Rizla you have posed some interesting questions .... that I continue to ponder especially when I look around me in everyday life and observe who is doing what, and how, with their various gadget devices.

The first question in my mind is: how does one know if 'something' (book, music etc) is in copyright?

Obviously the answer is if the site you are on to purchase 'it' states it is, is one answer. But it may be DRMed and yet not copyrighted and that distinction is not made on the purchase site.

Again, and obviously, one might say that 'it' is copyrighted if the 'owner/creator' is still alive and kicking and they have laid common law or statutory claim to copyright. But in what countries does that copyright hold?

And what of the dead originator of the material? How long after death does the material become 'public domain' and under what circumstances?

So - I want to identify how I know, and can test, if 'something' has:
- extant copyright,

- copyright broader than a publisher/producer,

- validity in my country at the time of acquisition.

It seems then Governments need to establish an information portal on questions of copyrighted material and how to determine such material. It is insufficient for governments to merely say downloading, or conducting other described acts/omissions/commissions on or with copyrighted material is illegal.

IMO an education campaign would go a long way towards resolving misconceptions and misinformation re downloading material which may have DRM but is not copyrightable to the creator, for example, so therefore obtaining that material from a non DRM site and using another publisher is quite legal.

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Old 05-24-2012, 07:35 AM   #4
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Of course a significant reduction of the plague of copyright infringment must be preceded by a more significant semplification of copyright laws.

First we have to set simpler rules and to make the copyright expiry date the same in the whole world, get rid of geographic restrictions, make easy for everyone to know the exact copyright status of every edition of every production. After that we can efficiently address the matter of enforcing it.
It's a matter of priorities: if we make legit content easier to get and more usable, it will be much easier to reduce the illicit download phenomenon to a small niche.

And of course, if we care more about education than market, we will also set a significantly shorter copyright.
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:54 AM   #5
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Sorry I don't do two-part questions.

Hans is right.

The copyright laws need to be updated in some manner (I am not claiming to know how or what, but author rights must be protected) and they need to be better synced up world-wide which Format C: says above (and which will never happen universally). This also ties in to distribution rights which must become global and not regional.

And yes governments must be able to stop pirate sites that are flagrantly violating applicable copyright laws.
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:34 AM   #6
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To the first part of the question: it is not feasible to stop piracy. While nothing is impossible, file sharing in one form or another can't be stopped without eliminating all of the mechanisms that facilitate it, up to and including the internet, email, photocopiers and even monk scribes.

At best you can mitigate the amount of piracy by making it:

1) difficult (copy protection),
2) scarey (filing very public lawsuits),
3) unfashionable (shaping public opinion)
4) impractical (low priced legitimate copies), and my favorite,
5) disappointing (source pollution)

I'm sure there are other ways, but most are just variations on the above themes.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
To the first part of the question: it is not feasible to stop piracy. While nothing is impossible, file sharing in one form or another can't be stopped without eliminating all of the mechanisms that facilitate it, up to and including the internet, email, photocopiers and even monk scribes.

At best you can mitigate the amount of piracy by making it:

1) difficult (copy protection),
2) scarey (filing very public lawsuits),
3) unfashionable (shaping public opinion)
4) impractical (low priced legitimate copies), and my favorite,
5) disappointing (source pollution)

I'm sure there are other ways, but most are just variations on the above themes.
You left out any computing device capable of writing out any form of output file. (That includes, but is not limitied to, computers, printers, digital cameras, recordable media, (ANY recordable media), ect. the means of transfer can be as simple as passing a illegal copy physically under the table at a public or private place...

Basically, rolling back the technological clock to 1959....
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:44 AM   #8
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I have a different take on the matter:

Focus on making sales.
Focus on educating the public on the reality of copyright infringement.
Focus on making a better product.
Do not treat your customers like they are criminals (DRM).
Do not make proprietary formats (vendor lock-in).
Price the product appropriately.

A good example is the music industry. Many seem to focus way too much on “lost sales” in their own mind and can’t focus on the billions made per year instead. Educating the public on the reality of file sharing has a much more positive impact than any amount of DRM every will. Encrypting content does not affect pirates. Encrypting content does affect your paying customers.

Instead of using force in an attempt to stop file sharing I believe that educating the public is much more affective. I am of the opinion that most people are willing to pay a fair price for a good product, especially if they understand the repercussions of obtaining the content without paying for it (the content won’t exist if no one is getting paid). There will always be exceptions of course but focus on the rest of the public first.

Lastly, don’t write ridiculous EULA and/or TOS in an attempt to dictate what someone can or can’t do with a product that they purchased and resides in their own home. Keep it simple and fair.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:59 AM   #9
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When the original copyright laws were written creating copies was very expensive. The law makers had the choice of putting the point of control at the place of sale or at the point of copy. Since most large cities only had a few places where the material could be copied but thousands of places where they could be sold the logical and correct choice was made. Put the enforcement at the point of copy.

With modern technology this is no longer the case so yes retaining the point of control at the "copy" is illogical and incompatible with modern technology.

Attempting to enforce a copy control with modern technology will inherently collide with personal rights and freedoms. These facts are continually ignored by the special interest groups that are attempting to push through the laws and the politicians that don't understand technology. "Damn the consequences, piracy has to be stopped". As has already been mentioned above these measures will fail and we will end up with the worst of both worlds, our personal rights and freedoms stomped over and continued copyright infringement.

It is possible to maintain copyright laws based on the old concepts of how it used to work with paper books but it can only work as a gentleman's agreement without strong enforcement. The good news is that people have already demonstrated that they will continue to buy individual copies even though they could easily acquire it from a file sharing site.
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Barcey View Post
Attempting to enforce a copy control with modern technology will inherently collide with personal rights and freedoms. These facts are continually ignored by the special interest groups that are attempting to push through the laws and the politicians that don't understand technology. "Damn the consequences, piracy has to be stopped". As has already been mentioned above these measures will fail and we will end up with the worst of both worlds, our personal rights and freedoms stomped over and continued copyright infringement.
"Downloading copyrighted stuff for free" is neither a "right" nor a "freedom"; it's simply a crime.
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:12 PM   #11
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"Downloading copyrighted stuff for free" is neither a "right" nor a "freedom"; it's simply a crime.
I think you've misinterpreted what was said. I believe Barcey meant that ever stronger measures pushed through that are supposed to clamp down on copyright infringement will (incidentally or by design) ALSO infringe on things like privacy and certain freedoms we currently have.

Edited to add: I also thought it (copyright infringement) was subject to civil law, not criminal.

Andrew

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Old 05-24-2012, 01:17 PM   #12
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"Downloading copyrighted stuff for free" is neither a "right" nor a "freedom"; it's simply a crime.
Barcey's and your statement are both true.

It is the needed methods of enforcement to be able to do so using their methods that would be a violation of rights. Sites shut down without due process? or how about yearly inspections of people's hard drives to look for pirated material? Random searches of people's drives? Intercepting and searching private internet messages randomly and without a warrent? I can't see any effective method that wouldn't drasticaly violate people's rights. Their current methods are ineffective.
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:29 PM   #13
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3) Usenet. This is private file-sharing network, but it relies on central servers.
No it isn't, and no it doesn't. It's a text-based global discussion protocol, you post someting on one server and it's mirrored across the world for people to read and reply to. Binary files are only on there via a kludge where they're converted into text and split into hundreds of separate posts.

Not so long ago every ISP in the world had a usenet server, but these days you need a separate subscription to a premium one instead. Corporations have tried to have a few of the bigger name usenet providers closed down (usenet.com was the most recent, I think), but unless they specifically advertise "download lots of pirate stuff here" there's very little that can be done.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
"Downloading copyrighted stuff for free" is neither a "right" nor a "freedom"; it's simply a crime.
In the US, it's a tort, not a crime, unless the value is over a certain amount or more than a certain number of copies are made. (Assuming the "stuff for free" wasn't authorized.)

This is what's throwing the corporate interests off: most not-for-profit copyright infringement isn't criminal, and would have to be addressed by individual lawsuits. Copyright law assumes no harm is done if the owner of the rights doesn't object, and the methods for officially objecting are clunky (because they were developed for use against corporations, not individuals).
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:11 PM   #15
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No it isn't, and no it doesn't. It's a text-based global discussion protocol, you post someting on one server and it's mirrored across the world for people to read and reply to. Binary files are only on there via a kludge where they're converted into text and split into hundreds of separate posts.

Not so long ago every ISP in the world had a usenet server, but these days you need a separate subscription to a premium one instead. Corporations have tried to have a few of the bigger name usenet providers closed down (usenet.com was the most recent, I think), but unless they specifically advertise "download lots of pirate stuff here" there's very little that can be done.
I see. So it's basically like the old newsgroups. I read a case where in Britain some part of Usenet was effectively blocked, so I guess it is possible to block Usenet. I thought newsgroups worked via storing the data on centralized servers and users downloaded it from them. As such, I would have thought they were as vulnerable as file download sites. They can be taken down and / or firewalled.

It seems to me that from a purely technical aspect, piracy can be stopped, but only at the cost of damaging democracy.
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