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Old 11-18-2012, 04:58 AM   #391
BoldlyDubious
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Catlady, I don't see why you are so strongly against a scheme (my proposal of post #356) that doesn't change anything for people that think like you but gives new freedom to media users AND reduces piracy.
Presently, if you buy media from mainstream services (Kindle, iTunes) you can do two things:
1) live happily in the "walled garden" that these services close you in;
2) strip the DRM and be free to share/backup your files, at the price of doing something that breaks a license agreement and/or the law (but with extremely low risk of prosecution).
With my "social DRM", you can still do 1) and 2) but you also can do 3)
3) leave the metadata in place and be free to share/backup your files without having to break any license agreement and/or law, accepting that if you behave irresponsibly you can get a fine in the end.

I don't want and don't like to break the law or a contract, and would choose 3). You can continue with 2) if you prefer. Why does having other people have more freedom (and accept risks that they are willing to accept) upsets you?
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:20 AM   #392
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Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious View Post
Right. However I think that sharing books with your friends is not "piracy". It's the same thing I do with my paper books, and I don't feel like a pirate at all.

It's different if one starts giving away copies of her/his books to friends of friends of friends, but I don't do that and my proposed "social DRM" scheme actively pushes against this.
Well... it is piracy.
You are arguing that your scheme reduces piracy, when in fact all you are doing is redefining the word so that less things are included.
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:55 AM   #393
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Well... it is piracy.
You are arguing that your scheme reduces piracy, when in fact all you are doing is redefining the word so that less things are included.
Well, not exactly.
My proposal partly redefines "piracy" to make legal some practices (such as having your family read your books) that are important for the social and cultural growth of people. Moreover, even today publishers grudgingly allow/tolerate at least part of this kind of practices through indirect means such as "you can load this file on no more than N devices". Some of these N usually belong to spouses, family, ...

In addition to that, my proposal reduces other types of piracy, such as those associated to "casual sharing".
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:59 AM   #394
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Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious View Post
Well, not exactly.
My proposal partly redefines "piracy" to make legal some practices (such as having your family read your books) that are important for the social and cultural growth of people. Moreover, even today publishers grudgingly allow/tolerate at least part of this kind of practices through indirect means such as "you can load this file on no more than N devices". Some of these N usually belong to spouses, family, ...

In addition to that, my proposal reduces other types of piracy, such as those associated to "casual sharing".
Most people would think of casual sharing as giving copies to family and friends.
Which you have redefined to not be piracy.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:41 AM   #395
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Most people would think of casual sharing as giving copies to family and friends.
Which you have redefined to not be piracy.
Ok, let's not argue about names.
My proposal aims at reducing piracy in general, especially that associated with the uncontrolled proliferation of copies of a file that now tends to happen once DRM has been removed from such file.
The only type of "piracy" that my proposal does not reduce (though it regulates it by linking file sharing to social links among people) is sharing media among people who are very close socially and affectively; so close, in fact, that they fully trust each other.
That said, calling this second type of sharing "piracy" is, in my view, a distortion forced upon us by scared-to-death publishers who can't control the other, large-scale, types of illegal distribution. Not only it's not "piracy": it's a key element in a well-functioning, sane society where culture is an important part of people's lives.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:03 AM   #396
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Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious View Post
Catlady, I don't see why you are so strongly against a scheme (my proposal of post #356) that doesn't change anything for people that think like you but gives new freedom to media users AND reduces piracy.
It does no such thing. It creates an illusion of freedom only, because the potential consequences of using that freedom are potentially devastating.


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Presently, if you buy media from mainstream services (Kindle, iTunes) you can do two things:
1) live happily in the "walled garden" that these services close you in;
2) strip the DRM and be free to share/backup your files, at the price of doing something that breaks a license agreement and/or the law (but with extremely low risk of prosecution).
With my "social DRM", you can still do 1) and 2) but you also can do 3)
3) leave the metadata in place and be free to share/backup your files without having to break any license agreement and/or law, accepting that if you behave irresponsibly you can get a fine in the end.
And I need #3 because ...?

Has anyone anywhere ever faced legal action for stripping DRM for one's personal use?

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I don't want and don't like to break the law or a contract, and would choose 3). You can continue with 2) if you prefer. Why does having other people have more freedom (and accept risks that they are willing to accept) upsets you?
??? A contract I don't specifically agree to is not an enforceable contract. In your silly scheme (and at this point I can't avoid calling it anything but silly), I wouldn't get a choice--I'd be stuck with something that might result in my being punished for actions beyond my control.

Don't you get that it is unacceptable for a person to be held responsible for something beyond his control, something done without his knowledge? If someone steals my wallet, uses my cash to buy a gun, and then shoots someone, am I supposed to share the blame because I allowed my money to be stolen?

This discussion is going in circles, and it's not about anything realistic anyway. So I'm done.

P.S. I guess I'm not really done--what about public libraries? Somebody borrows a book, uploads it to a file-sharing site; what then, fine the library? Yeah, there are records of who borrowed each book, but no way to prove which of those borrowers is the real crook.

Now I'm done.

Last edited by Catlady; 11-18-2012 at 11:16 AM. Reason: P.S. added
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:30 PM   #397
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Maybe you're exaggerating a bit? In particular by comparing getting a fine of a few hundred dollars/euro to going to jail for child porn?

It's simple. In my proposal, if (notwithstanding all your precautions) someone steals your media files and uploads some of them, you risk getting a fine. ONE time. Then you can't be fined again. Not only for the file(s) that already appeared online, but also if any other media of yours that you bought up to the date of such appearance get uploaded later.

I'd say that this is not unnecessarily harsh. And maybe the money of the fine are well spent, if they let you find out that your PC has a backdoor that someone uses to access it. Next time they could steal your bank data, or your medical history, or...
Part of the issue too is you'd have to essentially go against preexisting case law, and written law, to set a different amount for the fines, or else things could get exorbitant. Right now, MPAA and RIAA trying for $1500 per infringement, which they define the infringment as each time someone downloads it for you, and that on average 93 uploads occur per person. And yes, they recently were awarded that much. Person will only be charged once for that, due to double jeopardy, but they still have to shell out 1.5 million.

Still, you're pushing that the person who is the victim, still pay the fine, because it was ultimately their files that were uploaded. You're still talking about millions of people. In a recent study, they found approximately 30% of all computers in the US are infected. Another study from a couple years ago showed that roughly 25% of all computers were part of a botnet (meaning, the infection they had allowed someone to remotely control the computer entirely, and able to do so en mass.) Each of those infected machines is potentially able to leak data, your data.

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Sure the owner has a defence. It is easy to show that your computer has been hacked, if you haven't handed the file to anyone else. Such hacking always leaves a trace. If you did, well then the investigation continues down the line until they get to the uploader.
It isn't as easy as you think. A good hacker, clues left behind (if any) are subtle, so difficult to really find anything. Chevron just discovered about a weekago they were infected by the Stuxnet virus, and had been infected going back as far as 2010. If a multinational corporation with tons of money spent on IT can take two years to find a virus, then what chance does Joe Blow on the street?
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:42 PM   #398
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Actually, the only one who has to do this effort is the original buyer of a media file. Everyone who subsequently gets the file, from whatever source, gets an already DRM-stripped file so has no work to do. Therefore this cannot be considered a distributed dampening mechanism, which is the only kind that can limit file diffusion in a world where infinite copies can be produced at negligible cost.
You're either moving the goalposts or you lost the thread of what we were discussing.

I wasn't talking about pirates. I was talking about the average ebook user. Your response is talking about pirates, whether they call themselves that or not.

Unless, of course, you are under the assumption that most people pirate. If so, I disagree with that assumption. If we rewind a bit, you stated that you believe that small scale sharing among close family / friends is not piracy. However, as has already been mentioned, it currently is piracy. Perhaps it's because you don't feel it's wrong that you assume many people do this form of sharing, but I really don't think that is the case.

As much as I've enjoyed participating in this discussion, it seems we've reached a point where no further progress is being made by either of us. But I do commend and thank you and most others who took part for remaining civil and respectful throughout the disagreements. The US holidays are about to get underway with Thanksgiving this week, and I know from experience that time tends to get away from me during the holidays, so I'm bowing out of this conversation so as to have one less thing to keep track of.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss your ideas in a friendly manner.

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Old 11-18-2012, 01:51 PM   #399
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This is a key issue. The fine should be large enough to hurt, but not so large as to terrorize people into adopting a "trust no one!" lifestyle. I am thinking along the lines of "30-50 times the price of the illegally uploaded file".
It's interesting that you use the word "liberate", because it seems to confirm what I think: that today's setup is perceived as so unfair that some people illegally distribute media to "fight" it. Well, with a fair copy-protection scheme (of which mine is only a tentative example) these people would stop.
I used "liberate" (with quotes) because I was mocking the "stick it to the Man!" mentality.

Say I buy an ebook for $5, that's a $250 fine...and people can make unlimited copies of that file safely and distributed with no fear of punishment.

No way the publishers will ever, ever, ever sign off on this.


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Here it seems to me that you are exaggerating. Lock up like firearms? Do you call that having an antivirus and not telling your user password to people you don't know very well? And: do you consider getting a 300dollar/euro fine once in a lifetime a draconian penalty?
Moreover, you seem to think that for everyone of us there's an army of enemies who only waits a mistake of us to intrude into our computers and... stole our media? That's a bit far out, in my view. Yes, this definition is almost correct if you consider people who constantly try and get through our firewalls, but I don't think they are looking for books or music. And for what concerns people with physical access to our unlocked PCs, usually they are family or close friends.
So the risk of getting fined because a media file gets uploaded by someone who "stole" it from us are pretty low, in my view.
I'm not saying I think this scenario is particularly common...but still: ""Hey, look, our jerk boss left his MP3/Kindle player sitting on his desk...let's put all of his files on the torrents have him get hit with a $20,000 fine." I do see that happening.

I see teens doing this to each other all the freaking time just for spite.

I do think it will happen and the end result is that in order to have these fines levied, you have to PROVE the files were intentionally seeded or...else innocent people are being penalized. It is almost as bad as the three strikes proposals where people could be kicked off the internet without actually proving guilt.

Or else you are setting up the media companies to pay for expensive investigations...no doubt ones that the defendant will be expected to pay for...and so the cost of reimbursing the investigation is going to be much higher than the fine. And so, like the RIAA lawsuits, people will be forced to "admit guilt" even if they are innocent and pay fines, even if they are innocent, because they can't afford to prove their innocence.

It's a system with plenty of potential for abuse IMO.

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Well, this only holds true if the people are your spouse or close friend or mother or son or anyone else so close to you that you trust them enough to let them access your personal files. These people could do much worse that get you fined (once) for illegal distribution of media... such as emptying your bank account, for instance.
I do believe that a lot of people don't have the knowledge or won't put in the effort to encrypt their personal files. And many devices don't have the capability to encrypt files or secure users -- most ebook readers or mp3 players, for example.

As for protecting the publishers...honestly, the best solution is for readers to boycott publishers and authors that refuse to sell DRM free. Period. Full stop.

Boycott.

Buy from authors and publishers who get it, make them the new best-sellers. Show how authors who get it are getting rich, rich, rich. There are plenty of great authors who do get it...

Force the publishers to change their policies because they realize they are losing much more than they are gaining.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:36 PM   #400
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Part of the issue too is you'd have to essentially go against preexisting case law, and written law, to set a different amount for the fines, or else things could get exorbitant.
Yes, drastically lowering the amount of the fine seems necessary to me. Nowadays fines are set at horribly high values because everyone knows that the probabilitiy of being caught at illegally uploading files it's almost negligible. So the thing that publishers are trying to do is terrorize people into submission, which requires suitably terrorizing punishments. Such high fines have (only) a symbolic value, and publishers know that perfectly well.
With my "social DRM" scheme, getting a fine for illegal distribution is not impossible (if you share carelessly), so the fine does not need a symbolic value. It gets back to the original function of fines: a warning, just as a traffic ticket. So the amount of the fine can be set at reasonable value.
By the way, publishers will be the first to want reasonably low values, otherwise people will start stripping metadata from files "just in case".

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In a recent study, they found approximately 30% of all computers in the US are infected. Another study from a couple years ago showed that roughly 25% of all computers were part of a botnet.
Writing successful computer viruses or setting up botnets requires a high level of technical skills, time, and money. I don't think that someone will be interested in doing such things (and risking criminal prosecution) just to copy media files and then upload them for free on the internet.
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:07 PM   #401
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You're either moving the goalposts or you lost the thread of what we were discussing.
...a bit of both, I think :-) I have been moving the goalposts in the sense that, with your help (and that of the other posters) I have been developing my idea of social DRM here, in real time.
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Unless, of course, you are under the assumption that most people pirate.
Absolutely not!
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As much as I've enjoyed participating in this discussion, it seems we've reached a point where no further progress is being made by either of us. But I do commend and thank you and most others who took part for remaining civil and respectful throughout the disagreements.
I, too, think that now it's time to wrap up. I am very satisfied because (in my view) my idea has survived to the end, and deserves more thinking on my part. Now two final (and crucial) questions remain open:
  1. could it really work?
  2. what will "common" people (not pundits like MobileRead users) think of it?
Your voice has been one of those that helped me most. I thank you heartily for having taken the time, and having made the effort, to follow me through this exploration. It has been a real pleasure. Your insightful observations and your patience in reviewing my (often lenghty) explanations have greatly impressed me.
Have a nice holiday! :-)
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:12 PM   #402
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Yes, drastically lowering the amount of the fine seems necessary to me. Nowadays fines are set at horribly high values because everyone knows that the probabilitiy of being caught at illegally uploading files it's almost negligible. So the thing that publishers are trying to do is terrorize people into submission, which requires suitably terrorizing punishments. Such high fines have (only) a symbolic value, and publishers know that perfectly well.
With my "social DRM" scheme, getting a fine for illegal distribution is not impossible (if you share carelessly), so the fine does not need a symbolic value. It gets back to the original function of fines: a warning, just as a traffic ticket. So the amount of the fine can be set at reasonable value.
By the way, publishers will be the first to want reasonably low values, otherwise people will start stripping metadata from files "just in case".


Writing successful computer viruses or setting up botnets requires a high level of technical skills, time, and money. I don't think that someone will be interested in doing such things (and risking criminal prosecution) just to copy media files and then upload them for free on the internet.
My experience is that Amazon has user-unfriendly proprietary practices, but their whole business plan is built around them. I think competition will drive them to change, and the notion of a public or general DRM that allows users much more flexibility is bound to be implemented by someone. When they do, they'll grab market share. There isn't much Amazon can do to stave that off, so they'd best figure out how to go with the flow before they get into that current.
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:29 PM   #403
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I used "liberate" (with quotes) because I was mocking the "stick it to the Man!" mentality.
I got that :-) I have the suspicion that a significant part of today's piracy is due to the "stick it to the Man!" mentality you were mocking!
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Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
Say I buy an ebook for $5, that's a $250 fine...and people can make unlimited copies of that file safely and distributed with no fear of punishment.
No way the publishers will ever, ever, ever sign off on this.
Well, with current DRM systems people can make unlimited copies of files and distribute them with (in practice) no fear of punisment too. And in addition to that media buyers have no reason to avoid starting the distribution. In fact once the buyer has stripped the DRM from her/his files to be able to back them up, there's no reason to avoid giving a copy of them to anyone who asks.
So I think that wise publishers could understand that my system gives them more protection, not less.
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Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
I'm not saying I think this scenario is particularly common...but still: ""Hey, look, our jerk boss left his MP3/Kindle player sitting on his desk...let's put all of his files on the torrents have him get hit with a $20,000 fine." I do see that happening.
OK, but the jerk boss would have to pay only the fine for illegal distribution of ONE file. My proposal does not allow for multiple fines when many files are "stolen" at the same time.
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I see teens doing this to each other all the freaking time just for spite.
So, when they receive the $300 fine, the teenager's parents will get the occasion to explain to their offspring the importance of privacy and of keeping track of personal files...
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Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
I do think it will happen and the end result is that in order to have these fines levied, you have to PROVE the files were intentionally seeded or...else innocent people are being penalized.
I do believe that a lot of people don't have the knowledge or won't put in the effort to encrypt their personal files. And many devices don't have the capability to encrypt files or secure users -- most ebook readers or mp3 players, for example.
Again, we are talking about being fined for a few hundred dollars/euro, not thousands or worse. Moreover, people who don't feel like keeping track of their non-DRMed files which embed their personal data will be free to use services (like those available today) that provide DRMed files.
And you don't need encryption, only good old removal of read permissions on your media files for users that are not your own (and a switch-on PIN for mobile devices).
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Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
As for protecting the publishers...honestly, the best solution is for readers to boycott publishers and authors that refuse to sell DRM free. Period. Full stop.
I am not so convinced that this method can succeed, considering the forces involved. Or that it can succeed in less than 25 years. But I'd like that!

Last edited by BoldlyDubious; 11-18-2012 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:45 PM   #404
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My experience is that Amazon has user-unfriendly proprietary practices, but their whole business plan is built around them. I think competition will drive them to change, and the notion of a public or general DRM that allows users much more flexibility is bound to be implemented by someone. When they do, they'll grab market share. There isn't much Amazon can do to stave that off, so they'd best figure out how to go with the flow before they get into that current.
I'd really like to see this kind of change.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:52 PM   #405
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Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious View Post
Presently, if you buy media from mainstream services (Kindle, iTunes) you can do two things:
...
2) strip the DRM and be free to share/backup your files, ...
It'd be nice if we could separate these out for the purposes of this discussion. Personally I only strip DRM for backup and to use on all my devices. I do not do it to "share" them.

The more I think about this proposal the more it seems like a lot of change for not very much gain. I get that you care a lot about having the freedom to share legally with friends and family. However limited sharing is already available legally (use on N devices, lend the physcial device). For me the downsides to your scheme are not worth the extra little bit of freedom.

But I think a lot of these arguments become irrelevant unless and until you can convince publishers to adopt your scheme. I suspect that if you could get them interested by the time it came to agreement the fines/penalties would be much harsher and the "legalised casual sharing" would be more limited than you propose. In fact I suspect it wouldn't be much different to what we have now but with water-marked files.
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