The Netherlands Leads BitTorrent Rankings, But What Does That Really Mean?

TorrentFreak recently published the Top 25 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2009, which charts the most-trafficked public, English-language sites. A CRIA lobbyist wasted little time in claiming that the list shows that Canada is "the number one location for unauthorized BitTorrent sites." Notably, the list only includes English-language sites so the exclusion of Chinese, Russian, and other language sites means that global claims aren't possible based on the list.

Even within the limited English language world, the piece toyed with funny math, however, sometimes relying on hosting to determine location, other times using site registration and then combining the two metrics to inflate the Canadian position.  If hosting is indeed the correct metric, the Netherlands was actually ranked first, followed by Canada, Sweden, and the United States.  The full list:

  1. Netherlands (Mininova, Torrent Reactor, SumoTorrent, TorrentPump, Zoozle, SandPeer, Search-Torrent)
  2. Canada (Torrentz, isoHunt, Monova, BTMon, Fenopy, TorrentZap)
  3. Sweden (Pirate Bay, BTJunkie, EZTV.It, Torrent Hound)
  4. United States (Vertor, TorrentPortal, YourBittorent)
  5. Czech Republic (, AliveTorrents)
  6. Ukraine (ExtraTorrent, Demonoid)
  7. France (KickAssTorrents)

While the CRIA lobbyist attributes the presence of Canadian-hosted torrent sites to Canadian copyright law, the rankings actually demonstrate how little digital copyright reform seems to matter.  Do the three sites hosted in the United States or the site hosted in France mean that they have weak copyright laws?  Does anti-circumvention legislation, such as that promoted by CRIA, have any impact on BitTorrent sites given that the Netherlands has such laws on the books? 

CRIA has targeted several BitTorrent sites in Canada (Demonoid, QuebecTorrent) who shut down or moved in the face of such action.  In the one case where a site fought back (isoHunt), CRIA will undoubtedly argue the site is not operating lawfully in Canada during a forthcoming legal battle.  If CRIA is concerned with the remaining Canadian-based BitTorrent sites, the legal process is available to them. The reality is that BitTorrent sites are found in many countries. Some have implemented the WIPO Internet treaties, others have not.  There is no evidence, however, to suggest that Bill C-61 style copyright reform is a decisive factor in the choice of location.


  1. Thomas Tvivlaren says:

    …the IP-lobbyists always consider their current target to be “the worst”. Throughout the years I have read claims that Sweden, Russia, China, Spain, Canada etc is the “prime harbour of piracy”.

    Then again, speaking the truth was never the typical IP-lobbyist’s most honed skill.

  2. Curious phrase: “unauthorized BitTorrent sites”
    What exactly would constitute an AUTHORIZED BitTorrent Site…?

  3. Devil's Advocate says:

    Re: “Unauthorized”
    @Privacy Guy:

    Ah! The inventive terms of propaganda never end.

    The most pernicious one they keep pumping out is “illegal filesharing”, used to describe ALL filesharing (not just the infringing cases).

    Some other “creative” terms:
    – “bandwidth hogs”
    – “stealing copies”
    – “criminal P2P network”

    These terms are an important part of their mission to “elevate” a civil infraction (copyright infringement) to the status of a criminal offense in the minds of the General Public, and extort support from governments and attempt to put some control over the Internet in the hands of corporate interests.

  4. strunk&white says:

    fair and balanced — “inventive terms of propaganda”
    I guess the propaganda is in the eye of the beholder. DA, You seem to have no objection to anyone speaking an opposing view to yours being labelled a “lobbyist,” who attempts to “extort support from governments.”

    Seriously, I expect a much higher level of discourse from a publicly funded academic source, than the veiled cheerleading for one side over another that takes place here. Am I safe, then, in drawing the conclusion that Michael Geist supports the copyright infringement that regularly occurs through torrent sites? Because that’s where this partisan rhetoric leads me.

  5. strunk&black says:

    Watch out…
    Here’s a lesson that the MPAA & RIAA have forgotten. When you treat people like peasants and slaves they get mad and rebel. There are many people eying all these big interests screwing over us the little guy. If they have there way I have to pay 50 x for my DVD that I purchase for $ 30 years ago so I it will work on whatever device I have at the time.

    I downloaded a copy of Top Gun the other day (I own and paid for the DVD) and it was a DVD rip… Why, because i can’t be bothered to install software, rip, encode, etc.. etc.. Does that mean I infringed – technically yes – morally I haven’t stolen anything.

    The bottom line is people will not be oppressed by some upper class. If you try it, you’ll get hurt simple as that. If you want a balanced discourse you’ll have to come on here proposing something that doesn’t 1% of the population while hurting the other 99%. I’m not sure if politicians or lobbyists understand math, but that type of math will eventually catch up to you.

  6. strunk&white says:

    re: Watch out…
    So, that’s a “yes,” then?

    I don’t expect you to examine your own moral relativism, S&B, but I do point it out for anyone else interested in the larger questions around actual illegal filesharing.

    Buying a DVD copy of Top Gun (really, in 2009 you are still interested in watching Top Gun? Talk to me, Goose) gives you ownership over one thing — a DVD copy of Top Gun. There was nothing in the original purchase agreement that could possibly have led you to the conclusion that buying a DVD copy gave you the right to all other presentations of that film forever into the future. Do you feel, then, that you have the right to walk into a screening of Top Gun at the next “Kelly McGillis Film Festival” without paying admission? After all, you “own” the movie.

    Okay, you can’t be bothered to do the right thing for artists and workers who depend on copyright for their livelihoods. That’s on you. Please don’t try to turn this into some populist resistance to oppression. We’re talking about you wanting a new thing (extra functionality around a product that doesn’t offer it) for free. That is the very definition of greed. And petty greed at that.

  7. Re: fair and balanced — “inventive terms of propaganda”
    You must be new here. No really.

    Dr. Geist has never condoned infringing copyrights.

    *BUT* the fact of the matter is, not all torrents are for infringing content.

    I download Linux ISO’s, and various other software packages through BitTorrent. Thats not infringing.

    For the movie/music industry to characterize all BitTorrent as “illegal” is simply wrong.

    What *do* canadians want? Fair and balanced copyright laws. Laws that allow us to pay for content once, but use it anywhere, any time, and on any device. Current laws do not explicitly allow this. C-61 explicitly made much of this illegal if DRM was involved, and even some cases where DRM was *NOT* involved.

    If the movie/music industry pushed for traceability in BitTorrent sites, so that the person who initiated the torrent could be tracked down and held responsible for infringing content, that would seem like a much better solution than arbitrarily painting all BitTorrent black.

    The industry has a habit of manufacturing claims in order to gain support. Dr. Geist has done no such thing. In point of fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything but impartial support for Fair and Balanced copyright laws that are not only good for Canadian Consumers, but also content creators as well. And indeed, fair and balanced laws could even be good for the distributors (music/movie industry) if they simply gave it a chance.

    I don’t want all my content for free. I just want to be able to use the content that I purchase fairly.


  8. strunk&black says:

    The MPAA is a price fixing cartel telling me what I can and can’t do with my property. The fact is I purchased the DVD. I in fact OWN the DVD. If I wish to rip it, burn it, play it upside down or do anything else with it – that’s my business.

    This is not about the artists, or the folks who help create a film (I used to be a gaffer long ago) – as they rarely see a penny. This is about a bunch of greedy Corporate overlords trying to bend rules to their favour – all in the interest of obtaining WINDFALL profits.

    Dear Mr/Mrs Label owner! Your days are over. You will subside to independent producers earning for their hard work through services like YouTube that will monitize in an equitable way the people that work. The fat cats at the labels / studios can suck on a big fat piece of the world changing. Don’t worry I’ll toss a quarter in your cup next time I pass you in the street.

    Change sucks, but its here – and you’re working hard at making yourselves irreverent. Learn a lesson from the folks that used whale hunt, and get a new job.

  9. strunk&white says:

    new here?
    X — sadly, no, I am not new here. I’ve been reading far too much unbalanced scholarship on this site for far too long.

    I believe you when you say you don’t want all your content for free. Good. That would be an unreasonable expectation in a market economy.

    But I’d ask you to examine your other expectation — to “pay for content once, but use it anywhere, any time, and on any device.”

    Did you expect your vinyl record albums to work in a cassette deck? Did you expect your Beta movies to work on VHS? The Globe & Mail paid for content once and then tried to use it anywhere, anytime and on any device. Interestingly, the Supreme Court of Canada told them they weren’t allowed to (Heather Robertson v. Thomson Corp. — look it up).

    Sure, these format and tech changes can be frustrating for consumers, but smart consumers figure out pretty quickly how to (legally) maximize their enjoyment despite the limitations of a product. Reasonable consumers with a healthy respect for the industrial sector also understand that value added needs to be compensated.

    What is “unfair” about a product delivering to you exactly what it promises and no more? Why should you have the right to make that product go further than it ever said it would go?

    For me this comes down to an understanding of what it actually is you are buying. You buy a copy in a limited format, and you own just that. The copy, and its limitations. If you want more than that, you should really expect to pay a whole lot more.

    It is disingenuous to suggest legal torrent activity is endangered by attempts to stop illegal torrent activity. I couldn’t care less if you torrent legally. Have at.

    That doesn’t change the fact that illegal torrenting and illegal filesharing continue to stomp on the rights of creators and rightsholders. Dr. Geist may not condone infringement, but I don’t see a lot of condemnation for it in the posting above, or anywhere on this site for that matter. Since my tax dollars help to fund his research into these issues, I’d kind of like to see my concerns given equal time.

  10. Re
    The dissertation service will propose students with the dissertation form but the really good idea referring to this post we can find out here only.

  11. strunk&white says:

    not about the artists
    Thanks for clearing that up, S&B.

    Tell me, how do you feel about corporations, overlords and overweight cats?

    How could I ever think this site was not home to reasoned argument?

  12. Yes, propaganda is in the eye of the beholder
    And frankly, so is “truth” and “fact”. As far as the artist, etc, is concerned, it is hard for me to generate any sympathy for them; I work in the software industry. I get paid once for work I do, I don’t get paid every time the company sells it, even after I no longer work for the company.

    However, of course the lobbyists claim that all file sharing is illegal. To do otherwise would weaken their claim and make it harder to get alternative distribution channels for the people whose work they sell.

    Xetheriel, your comment on “In point of fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything but impartial support for Fair and Balanced copyright laws that are not only good for Canadian Consumers, but also content creators as well” could be argued against; in particular the mass of academic exemptions that he argued for in the debate on C-61 (which I found inconsistent given his complaints about the number of exemptions in the DNCL).

  13. equal time

    But you *are* being given equal time. For every person with your viewpoint, there are 10,000 others that oppose your particular viewpoint – to one degree or another.

    You have equal opportunity to voice your views here. There are plenty of people that read them and attempt to understand your viewpoint. But just because they understand it doesn’t mean they agree with it.

    So please explain why you don’t think your views are given “equal time”? Is it because you are outnumbered 10,000 to 1, or because they don’t agree with you?

  14. “definition of greed”
    To me, the “definition of greed” is expecting to be paid over and over and over for a job that you (or your parent, or their parent) did many years ago.
    If I’ve paid for a DVD, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to be able to make a backup copy in case my kids scratch it, and to make a copy to a hard drive so that I can easily play it in different rooms in the house. Those copies don’t cost the rightsholder anything. Face it, the actual physical DVD costs maybe $2 to make. I pay the other $13 or so for the content.
    By insisting on being paid again and again and again, and that they shoudl be allowed to dictate what I can and can’t do with my property in the privacy of my home, the intermediaries and even many actual creators are alienating their customers. A few years back, I’d never heard anyone advocate abolishing copyright. Now I hear it all the time. Why ? Because people are saying “this is getting so ridiculous. We’d be better off scrapping the whole system”.
    I’m now convinced that the MPAA, RIAA, etc will end up killing their golden goose by getting copyright scrapped altogether.

  15. strunk&black says:

    There is no reasoned argument. Where are the peoples representatives in half these debates? We elect them, then the lobbyists buy them. You can only watch this happen so many times before you realize the system leans between public outrage and how lobbyists can spin an issue.

    The fact is I own and operate a small software development. I too have interest in copyright as the other minority of “artists” do. I’m also no fool, I understand my work can have infinite copies made. Therefore I adapt my business model to focus on deriving revenue from servicing the software, and providing value to my clients.

    I think the entire purpose of copyright has stopped benefiting society long ago. It should be abolished entirely. It does nothing to advance humanity, science, or anything else that would benefit civilization. In drug patent out there stops medicine from getting the poor (arguably that’s murder – by using the same backwards logic as copying = stealing). One of my developers could have half the AI equation to a world changing algorithm that can eliminate the need for any human labour at all. Because its locked up under copyright and DRM the world will never see this. See that major productivity lost.

    Now see how absurd you think my argument is? That’s exactly how I feel about yours. We need to stop spending time thinking about money, and time thinking about how to harness our tools to evolve mankind.

  16. black and white indeed
    Since we’re speaking on the topic of petty greed, perhaps the industry should have a look at their own “expectations”, is the product and functionality being offered still worth the asking price in the face of technological advance?

    You speak as if the powers currently afforded to rights holders are somehow divinely granted and immutable (or at least should be). So much concern for the consumer’s respect for the industry, but how about the industry’s respect for consumers? You don’t get to dictate what consumers are willing to plunk down their cash for just because it’s “the right thing” for artists (a dubious claim at best btw, judging by your comments your advocacy seems more a matter of convenience). Should the ice-man’s livelihood be protected in the age of the refrigerator? I guess the answer is yes if the ice-man can pay off the right people and have the fridge outlawed.

    You can pretend “free” is all that these new technologies have to offer, but that’s simply not the truth. Consumers are showing you what sort of product they want, but I don’t see much coming from the industry in the way of trying to innovate or offer suitable alternatives, just a lot of crocodile tears.

  17. strunk&white says:

    oy, and so it goes
    Alright, what the heck, I have nothing else to do on a Friday afternoon…

    Anon-K — thanks for agreeing with me on Geist — there are plenty of hypocrisies to be found on this site, if one only has eyes to see. Educational exceptions look great if you tie them directly to the poor student trying to get a reasonably priced education, yet strangely I don’t see Dr. Geist advocating that professors should work for free. THAT would surely lower tuition. Aren’t students consumers of eduucation? What about the consumer?

    On the other hand, I’ll respectfully express my dismay at your lack of sympathy for artists. Plenty of cultural creators choose to get paid once for creative work. That model has always existed alongside others. You’ve made your professional agreement with the software company (hey, aren’t software companies… gasp… corporations!?), and presumably that software company has compensated you nicely (matter of opinion, I know). They certainly DO get paid every time they sell your work, so I hope you got a good chunk of that up front. We’re talking here about simple contractual agreements, and that’s all about bargaining power.

    On the other hand, I would hope that when you invent that next big video game (c’mon, admit it, you’re working on a video game) you DO negotiate a sale that gives you residuals based on the game’s ultimate popularity. That’s only fair to you — after all, it’s the sweat of your brow, the seed of your brain.

    Old guy — it’s tempting to ask you to back up your stats with, well, actual stats, but I wasn’t actually talking about the comments section of this blog. I’m aware I can voice my concerns here — though strangely on Boing Boing (the other copyfighting forum), I have been censored for asking polite questions that don’t conform to the party line. What bothers me here, in particular, is that Dr. Geist is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, a well-paid position funded by tax dollars. His job, I think, is to research — not to take sides, advocate, or campaign. I’m just saying.

    Chris Brand… well, I think you know the difference between private copying and illegal filesharing. Creative industries are happy to talk about reasonable private copying — in fact, they’ve agreed to a levy to compensate creators and rightsholders for this value-add. When was the last time a car company gave you a back-up copy in case of scratching? Dude, you are getting a bargain from creators.

    S&B, really? “Eliminate the need for any human labour at all?” And all we have to do is get rid of copyright? Why didn’t you or Dr. Geist say so earlier? Sold!

  18. strunk&black says:

    Its funny how the only argument that can be made for the “Copyright advocates” is to come on here and insult the other side.

    It’s like watching my 5 year old, whenever he fights with his older 9 year old brother and is overwhelmed by reason and logic. He resorts to calling him names. Have you seen one coherent argument to support what bad thing will happen to the world if these rights where completely dissolved? I certainly haven’t.

    Its funny watching the smugness of the lobbyists. The internet is bad for business – in more ways than one.

  19. I work in construction and I dont expect to be paid a royalty for every job I do or for every time a building I helped make gets used. My father owns the company I work for and even he doesn’t expect a yearly royalty from any given building/job owner. Otherwise the government of Canada would owe him millions. Get off your high horses lobbyist dirt bags. First sale is all your going to get legally from me.

    How would you like it if you were charged a fee just to walk into queens park in Toronto despite your taxes already paying for it? (kind of like buying a dvd and wanting to watch it again on the computer but some nut case wants to charge you for it again). If every industry ran the way these fools (CRIA) expect, it would be the norm for any government building you were not employed under to charge you an entry fee as they would owe royalty payments to construction business’, contractors and architects. Or it would just get deducted from taxes and cost a fortune on top of all the other property fees.

    Analogy reversed on the shill strunk&white Enjoy.

  20. strunk&white says:

    black and white
    Ah, Taco, now we’re at the nugget. I agree with you.

    If the question is “is the product and functionality being offered still worth the asking price in the face of technological advance?” the answer absol;utely could ne “No, it isn’t.” I agree.

    BUT, that is an argument for negotiating a new price, not for wholesale removal of the right to negotiate a new price — and that’s what illegal filesharing does. it cuts the actual owner out of the negotiation for transfer. You know what else does that? Smash and grab theft.

    It’s the same old moral relativism. If we agree the music industry is wrong to charge $21.95 for a crappy CD, must we also agree it’s fine to steal that music instead of buying it. I choose to participate on a civil society where I can call out a corporation for overcharging or for not providing enough value in their service package, while at the same time NOT stealing from them. Corporations absolutely DO NOT get to dictate consumer behaviour — again, I agree with you — and the smart rightsholder will figure out how to follow the consumer to where they want to go, within reason. How is any of this a justification for illegal activity? We’re not talking Martin Luther King Jr. and civil disobedience in the face of civil rights violations. We’re talking about downloading Top Gun.

    By the way, MLK Jr. willingly went to jail for his beliefs. Real civil disobedience accepts punishment as the path to better laws.

    S&B — be fair. I never called you a name. On the other hand, I believe you just called me a lobbyist, though, and I’m guessing you didn’t mean it in a good way.

  21. strunk&white says:

    You see, you are all so sold on the idea that you’re in a fight against the man, you just assume anyone expressing a different opinion must be a “shill.” I do not work for a corporation, and I am not a lobbyist. I am an independent artist interested in protecting my rights. And I don’t think of them as just my rights. They are your rights too, even if you don’t care about them (right now). We’re all consumers, and we all have the potential to be intellectual property rightsholders. We should make sure one of our interests doesn’t destroy another.

    Copyleft, your construction analogy suggests to me that you have no idea what intellectual property is, or how it works. The work of the mind is different in kind from the work of the hands — which I respect, by the way, having done more than my share of manual labour. The UN recognizes this fact in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights — why shouldn’t we?

    Our economy has many different business models, including repeated payments. You actually do pay an entrance fee everytime you want to access Queen’s Park. It’s just buried in your taxes. You pay the same way every single time you want to drive on a road or sit in a park or go to a hospital emergency room. Welcome to Canada.

    I want to apologize for all the typos in my last comment. Brain moves faster than the fingers sometimes.

  22. So.. how many torrent sites do we need to start to pull into the lead?

  23. strunk&black says:

    To be fair, you did come on here and say:

    “I expect a much higher level of discourse from a publicly funded academic source”

    Now technically you weren’t insulting me directly, just everyone who participates in discourse on here. The tell tale sign of a passive-aggressive insult coming from an intellectual narcissist – feel free to accept that comment personally.

    Of course you did move on to insult my selection in movies – not that I care. Maybe before you start accusing everyone else of doing things that you may not be, some introspective self reflection may be in order.

    Relating copying something I paid for when I’m able to create the exact same thing through legal (ripping as I know it is not illegal in Canada) means is really just deriving bits from a different stream.

    If we’re going to focus on laws, lets start with jailing all the lobbyists and politicians that accept gifts in return for political favors. While were at it, lets call the lobbyists that offer said gifts treasonous and apply the appropriate penalty. Once that’s complete we’ll put Copyright next on the agenda. How about that?

  24. I expect my music to work on any device, I paid for the music, I bought records years ago,I bought the player that would play them. I also paid for the device that would record them onto a tape, then I paid for a device to record them onto a CD. I also paid for all the devices to play those types of technology. The one thing I do not expect to pay, is for the music over and over and over again, each time some corporation changes the format!

    The copyright law would take that right away and that is wrong!

  25. Theft vs. Fair
    If I go onto a bittorrent site, and download 1000’s of songs without ever buying a single album… yes, that is theft.

    But thats not what we’re talking about when we ask for fair and balanced copyright.

    If I spend $1000’s on a cd collection over many years, and want to copy all of those CD’s to my computer to make them easier to listen to while I work, and then I want to make some mix albums out of those songs to listen to in my car… Those things under current canadian law are not explicitly legal.

    Is it fair for the artists to ask for a royalty every time I format shift the CD that I payed good money for to begin with? Should I have to pay an additional fee to listen to my CD’s on my iPod? Should I have to re-purchase hundreds of albums on CD because I can’t find a decent 8-track player anymore?

    Or do you think its unfair that since you’ve paid the artist to listen to their music, or watch their movie, that you should be able to listen to or watch that content in any form you choose?

    I record tv programs on my PVR and watch them at a later time, deleting them when I’ve finished with it. Should I have to pay a premium for this ability? Or does this seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to do?

    Even better is this:

    If I buy a spindle of CD’s to back up DATA from my computer, should I be forced to pay the content industry because I *might* use those CD’s to “pirate” music? This is currently the case in Canada.

    You can take analogies to the extreme if you like, but the reality is, that millions of canadians do things on a daily basis with copyrighted material that are potentially infringing activities, that carry HUGE statutory damage awards, that are perfectly innocent and innocuous things to do.

    I *WANT* to be able to convert my Betamax movies to DVD. I *WANT* to be able to convert my vinyl and cassettes to CD’s and MP3’s. And no, if I’ve already paid once for this content, I DON’T want to pay for it again.

    Yes, I think that’s fair. The only ones who *don’t* think that’s fair, are the ones who stand to get rich from enforcing the contrary. And many of those, are american corporations, not artists, not creators.

  26. Heather Robertson v. Thomson Corp
    This case was referenced in response to my “Buy once, consume any place, any time, on any device” expectation.

    This case involved an article that was licensed for *Print only*, that was later stored in a database to be used in a number of other projects that were not print related.

    This in no way affects what I want.

    When we purchase a CD, we purchase the media containing a copy of the work, and a license to listen to that work.

    If I take that work, and make a copy for the purposes of listening to it in a different format, or on a different device, all to myself, I am not breaking the terms of that license.


    If I make a copy of that work, and store it in a database, and then make an application that could take a wav file and identify it by comparing it to the works stored in the database… *that* would violate the terms of the license.

    The decision in this case has nothing to do with fair use. What the globe and mail did with Heather Robertson’s article was not fair use. They were trying to exploit her work, for profit, without paying her additional license fees.

    There’s a big difference.

  27. strunk&white says:

    various rights
    You folks keep going — if there is anything to talk about when you all agree on every point — but I’m heading out into the real world for awhile.

    Duf — I’m not against any of the things you’ve described, but I do wonder what you think “the music” is. The private copying levy was invented to make sure you could do all your wonderful stuff for a tiny extra bit of revenue back into the cultural stream. I’ll bet, in fact, this levy was so painless to you, you didn’t even realize you were paying it.

    Copyright laws don’t exist to take those practices away from you. They exist to help define what is being bought and sold, and what prcatices should be negotiable. You don’t own “the music.” You own one physical copy of the music, with limited use rights attached. When you bought your vinyl, you bought the right to play it on whatever device would accept it, and to make a copy for private use. You didn’t buy the right to make many copies and give them away or sell them, or even barter them for other music. We are still talking about illegal sharing and torrenting, aren’t we?

    Balance has two sides.

    S&B — you are a sensitive one, aren’t you? My comment about discourse was aimed squarely at the good doctor, Michael Geist, not at you, which is why I mentioned the publicly funded academic source. You weren’t even here when I arrived.

    I admit to intellectual narcissism — you can’t make art without it — but please don’t call my aggression passive. I’m not trying to disguise my lack of respect for your arguments — or your taste in movies — I’m just trying to be friendly.

    X — we’re not far apart, you and me. I think some updating to copyright is in order, but really I think most of your concerns are better addressed through consumer pressure to have products do what you want them to do. Don’t buy stuff that doesn’t work for you and the corps will make stuff that does. This posting we’re both commenting on IS about illegal activity (you’re not suggesting torrenting and filesharing is always legal, are you?), so you’ll have to forgive me for talking about that stuff. As to the levy — you are not paying extra for media “because you might use it to pirate.” You are paying a tiny bit extra because that media gives you the capability to copy music (legally) for personal use. It’s an agreement between creator and consumer. If you don’t like the price, that’s another issue, but it’s like taxes on gasoline — they’re not there to screw you; they’re there to help us all.

    Okay, Kirk out, everyone! Have a good holiday. If the egg nog at the store seems too expensive, just take it. Effin’ nog conglomerates. Power to the people!

  28. @strunk&white show me your work or stfu. You are shilling and a decent one at that. I’ll give you 5/10 and a golf clap for that reply.

    First of all we do not pay every time we walk into a govt building and yes that is because of our taxes paid for the govt buildings/roads/infrastructure to be built once and then repaired occasionally. My analogy was that the govt would owe its contractors a royalty yearly as opposed to a one time contract, if every industry followed suit with the music industry. Imagine if you were charged every time you entered queens park and had to wear a GPS equipped bracelet while your visiting. This is equivalent to DRM that the music industry is trying to push into law. It is a gross miscalculation for any country to implement such laws.

    Anyone who purports digital protection measures as a necessary law are either:

    a) profiting from making people pay more than once for the same product
    b) ignorant to the damage it has done in the present and will do in the future
    c) sincerely want to protect their product from theft.
    d) all the above

    The ladder would be the majority of anti-p2p who share your benign view of the world.

    It’s that simple. One doesn’t need to be an “independant” artist to see that. I also play guitar,bass and build modifications for video games and run a website for a gaming community in my spare time. So please strunk&white if you are an artist. Show me your work or stfu.

  29. Society, Laws, and Profits
    @strunk&white – stats.. You have me.. I don’t have an authority to quote, just my personal observations. Statistics are often manipulated, and anyone that doesn’t measure “statistics” against their own observations is a fool.
    I am a retired computer geek, that does “technical support” for a constantly widening group of family and friends. I also teach and do end user technical support for beer and vacation money. I like to chat while I am helping them, all of them. I read quite a few blogs and articles. My circle of “contacts” easily exceeds that 10,000 number. I majored in psychology many years ago, I still observe and listen. I trust my own observations more than I trust “statistics”.

    But whether it is 10,000 to one or 1,000 to one doesn’t change the issue, I’ll accept any number between 10,000 and 1,000 that you wish to propose. Anything less than 1,000 I’ll challenge.. You pick a number.

    I could get into a history of artist “compensation” down through the ages, the history of copyright, or the ways that society changes over time and laws are updated to match those changes. No point, because if you won’t believe the lessons of history, you aren’t thinking clearly.

    I do not wish to abolish copyright laws. That road leads to anarchy and/or patronization. It is a fact that society does change and evolve, and laws can and have been updated to accommodate the changes. Copyright laws do need to be updated to re-balance between the “rights” of an artist/author, and the society which benefits from the their contributions. This is the digital age. Society has already “changed” because of it, the laws need to catch up. But not in the direction which the large publishers and entertainment industry is advocating, quite the opposite. New laws need to be forward looking, following the trend lines to where society is heading, not looking backwards to where it has been.

    For that matter, most of the people I chat with aren’t against copyright or fair compensation for the stakeholder. They just want it “their way”, the digital way. They want it convenient, immediate, and at a fair price. They want to be able to move the content from one medium to another effortlessly. In their minds, they bought a “song” not a CD. The digital society isn’t interested in how much it costs you to press and ship CD’s everywhere, they require the content to be essentially “form factor neutral”. They want to be able to obtain the content – once – and move it to whatever technology is coming around the corner.

    Fact: The digital age is here. It’s actually been here for over 20 years, it’s just now that the ripples are becomes waves. As with any society change, the younger generation is the first to embrace it. If you want updated laws to have any meaning whatsoever, look to them to base your models on.

    Fact: Copyright laws have been continually updated over the last 100 years to favour stakeholders, at the expense of society. Time to re-balance. And like any pendulum that has swung too far, the return will need to overshoot before it finds it’s proper position.

    Fact: The digital age has enabled a global society. International negotiations and agreements are necessary, but they need to be done with a large degree of transparency. Look to the future of where society is heading. Look to what the younger generation is doing already.

    Fact: Tougher or more stringent copyright laws will not have the desired effects, for existing stakeholders or for the governments that cater to them. Current laws are already too restrictive for a digital society, that’s why they are so often being ignored. If tougher ones are enacted, they will quickly be repealed – by a new government.

    Existing distribution and business models built on previous copyright laws should be largely ignored when crafting new laws. The digital age has enabled direct channels between artist/author/stakeholder and their audience. The existing business models cannot survive, new ones will arise.

    BTW.. It’s worthwhile to read the book Future Shock by Alvin Tofler. While a little dated, the concepts are easily extrapolated to today, and the kinds of issues we are seeing today.

    To coin a trite historical lesson, the lawless “wild west” wasn’t tamed simply because the railroads wanted it. It only happened when the interests of the railroads and the sheep herders, ranchers, and townsfolk, coincided. If the railroads and society would have had conflicting interests, history would be quite different.

    Finally, I think my tax dollars are being quite well spent in supporting Michael’s research. It *does* reflect my personal observations of our evolving global digital society. I may not always like where I see society heading, but I do face the reality of what I observe. I adapt.

  30. strunk&white says:

    almost there
    Yes, X, the Supreme Court agrees with you on Robertson (most of them). I really don’t think format-shifting for personal use is going to be banned in a copyright revision. But your response comes so close to something that’s usually missed, I need to point it out.

    The Globe bought Robertson’s article, and then assumed they owned it. They didn’t pay attention to the terms of their own agreement, which was for first Canadian print rights. In effect, what they actually bought was a copy of Robertson’s text (not the text itself), and permission for limited use — but then, as technology changed, they decided they wanted more uses, so they just took them rather than negotiating for further uses.

    As tech changes and has a direct effect on the copies of creative work out there, consumers and creators need to renegotiate their agreements. That negotiation should not take the form of consumers just saying, well it’s mine now so I’m going to do whatever I want with it. That’s neither fair, nor balanced.

    And now, really, a roti is calling my name.

  31. various rights
    Here you highlight what’s very different in the way that many creators and users look at copyright.

    You say “Copyright laws don’t exist to take those practices away from you. They exist to help define what is being bought and sold, and what prcatices should be negotiable. You don’t own “the music.” You own one physical copy of the music, with limited use rights attached.” but that’s not the way I see it.

    To me, I bought a thing. It’s mine. Copyright then takes away certain rights that I would normally have as the owner of my property. Originally, I couldn’t publish it or distribute it. Then I couldn’t make copies of it. These days copyright has expanded to the point where it’s probably easier to enumerate the rights I have left (even the right to sell that piece of property is under threat these days). And yet I hear people argue that even more of my property rights should be taken away because technology has increased the things that are possible to do with this piece of property.

    To me, copyright is also a government-granted monopoly on speech, that restricts how I can express myself. As with all monopolies, and all restrictions on speech, I want it to cover as little as possible to achieve the policy objective.

    I’m not legally allowed to make the video equivalent of a “mix CD”. If that was for a good reason, then I’d accept that restriction (as I accept the “publish and distribute” parts of copyright, although I think they last for way too long). But really, my making a “mix video” doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on the rightsholder’s ability to make a living. Just like making a backup of a DVD, mashing together a bunch of songs, or copying a CD to my iPod. Copyright is restricting my property rights and my freedom of expression, to no societal benefit. That means that copyright is wrong and needs to be scaled back. Copyright was created and intended to be a law governing commerce, not controlling what I can do with my personal property.

    Give up your right to prevent me doing these things that don’t harm you (and no, imposing another levy is not acceptable), and I’ll help you figure out how best to enforce the rights that *are* reasonable. Because right now, all of copyright gets tarnished by the “it’s illegal to backup that DVD you bought”, and that’s going to lead to its abolition.

    Oh, and have you looked at the price of blank CDs recently ? Your “tiny bit extra” is more than half the retail price these days.

  32. strunk&black says:

    “As tech changes and has a direct effect on the copies of creative work out there, consumers and creators need to renegotiate their agreements. That negotiation should not take the form of consumers just saying, well it’s mine now so I’m going to do whatever I want with it. That’s neither fair, nor balanced.”

    Fair enough S&B.

    I will sell you a piece of lumber. If you use this lumber to create a desk, you must now pay me 80x more than the asked price. The lumber has not changed, its still the same piece of wood. The final effect of the raw material has changed.

    So when I purchase a DVD, I’m only allowed to play it on my DVD player? Well that agreement was never made, I purchased a work to which I understood to have infinite replay rights. The piece of hardware I was allowed to play it on was not on the back of that disc. Nor was any limitation described of its personal use. If it was, I would never have purchased it in the first place.

    Now you want to retroactively remove my rights on things I have purchased? If I had rented and ripped it – okay I’ll give you that argument – theft plain and simple.

    Many people who buy Blu-Rays today don’t realize that BD-Live standards need to go back to an up & running server that will provide updated codes to view the disc. That means if your Blue Ray manufacturer does not negotiate for those codes, your player will become unable to play any content. So despite my purchase I can’t play the disc because the company went out of business? No thanks – what’s worse is why is none of this clearly disclosed? This is why circumvention is needed.

    Fact is if the MPAA wised up, and decided to change $ 10 a month for infinite content – they’d be striking it rich! They’d easily take in 250 million + households at $ 10 a month: do the math. Much more then the movie industry takes in today. The irony is their own greed and lack of collaboration as an industry means they lose more money.

    Do you think people enjoy using Bittorrent? Its a terrible service. Many Canadians would gladly pay for a service like Netflix. Canadian content has always been undeserved by its own greedy industry.

    Bottom line is artists benefit from the technology they’re trying to destroy. If it wasn’t for technology artists would be singing at ye old merry pub begging for but a small pittance. We went from Artists being servilely under-compensated for their works to the exact polar opposite. The fact is despite what the Narcissistic artists may think about their contribution to the world – it is not worth more than say the creator of the internet (btw I think the guy who invented that is no where near as rich as Michael Jackson). So now the pendulum swings in the other direction – are you surprised to see no one gives a crap?

    As for Egg Nog – I see you’ve heard Archer Daniels Midland. Of course corporations are all good and only out there to benefit of us all! Profits have zero impact on motivating their actions. Yes they’re still fixing pricing of eggs if you’re wondering. The difference is, this time around they’re paying off the right politicians and law enforcement folk! No – that’s just crazy talk isn’t it… Why do that… money doesn’t motivate annnnnyone!

  33. Geist v. Sookman Cage Match
    This one has been brewing the last few weeks as Sookman has been criticizing many of Geist’s posts. I’d like to see a debate between these two.

    Note Sookman claims to be running a personal blog that has no affiliation with his law firm. I find that hard to believe.

  34. strunk&white says:

    sent from a bar full of artists
    Was no-one paying attention when I said the product of the mind is recognized as different from the product of the hands? Can we all agree on that, at least? 

    So, like it or not, a song is different from a piece of lumber, and our society has worked out different ways to compensate for these things. 

    Here it gets a bit abstract but the abstraction is critical. When you buy a song, you are not buying a song, because a song is nothing but air and talent and intellect. Instead, you are buying one copy of one performance of a song. You buy physical property not intellectual property. So your uses should reasonably be restricted to the physical, and where they start to bleed over into the commercial or intellectual, we need some controls in place.

    I believe you all when you tell me you work in software and love Tom Cruise. Why don’t you believe I’m an independent artist and not some corporate shill?

    So here’s a question – yonder lumber business owner has certain allowance rights and licenses for collecting lumber for sale. I’m guessing when he dies and leaves the business to his kids, they don’t have to give up those allowances and rights. Copyright law is in place, partly, to let intellectual property business owners enjoy somewhat similar rights. I wonder what the “term” is for timber allowances?

  35. strunk&black says:

    “So here’s a question – yonder lumber business owner has certain allowance rights and licenses for collecting lumber for sale. I’m guessing when he dies and leaves the business to his kids, they don’t have to give up those allowances and rights. Copyright law is in place, partly, to let intellectual property business owners enjoy somewhat similar rights. I wonder what the “term” is for timber allowances?”

    Funny you should make that analogy. My uncle had a successful Steel factory, he did pass on years ago and the company went bankrupt 4 years later. Unfortunately his children did not have the business skills, nor did they put in the work their father did. One could say the business lacked the intellectual capital to continue operations.

    I think based on your argument we should start tracing back who the successors are of the chap that invented fire – start paying royalties and move out from there. By the time we’re all done paying for the 200 year copyrights Disney and sorts would like, the only people who would be able to afford a book would need to be on the Forbes 100 list.

    I too derive my income from intellectual property. I make an infinitely copying product (software) and spend hours on end coding. My code is often duplicated, most times without even so much as credit for the original work. However unlike a spoiled brat, I adapt and make my business model work based on the conditions of the world. I would prefer we all share code, so we’re not consistently re-inventing the wheel and actually helping people become more productive.

    I suggest you and your artist friends share some more drinks, and figure out that the world has changed. No amount of additional laws will make you any more money – the gig is up. We know you want to have a continuous cash flow for what could be a total of 200 hours of work. Doesn’t everyone? What makes intellectual property so much more valuable then physical labour? I’ll give you hint it starts with A and ends with rrogance – that’s what.

    If I was an alien and had never visited this planet and was given the following statements:

    1) This society rewards its most valuable members with money, which in turn they can buy goods and services.
    2) Michael Jackson made millions upon millions of dollars.
    3) Alexander Fleming died but of average wealth.

    Conclusion: These people contain a level of intelligence that is barely higher than the cow carcasses they consume.

    Bottom line is people should be paid for the value they bring to the world. While I’m not saying Michael Jackson brought NO Value to the world, I think if we had to choose which contribution never existed I’ll say “Beat it” can go. Fact is Record labels will be dead, studios will be dead. Art will thrive like never before.

    Already there are many amateur artists making hundreds of thousands of dollars per anum simply posting their videos on YouTube and collecting ad sharing. This trend will continue and grow – this is the new business model. Sorry rules changed, live with it. The only copyright reform we need is to peel back the copyright we already have. Software patents are a joke, so many people taking what is obvious discovery throwing a patent on it making software near impossible to code without breaking some patent. It is impeding progress. If the guy that invented fire charged the guy who invented cooking and so-on and so forth, we’d have lost the evolutionary race to rats long ago.

    You see: The fact is Pride, Notoriety, and many other motivators will continue to produce new and original works. The ones that are solely completed for the sole motivation of money are usually not worth any money. Yes you can market-hype them and then force people to run into theaters, book stores or whatever and they will buy them. But if you’re going to do that setup a call centre boiler room and rob old people of their money through other scams.

    I would bet my entire life savings, if someone who produced quality work made them available for free on the internet and asked for donation to support their works – they’d make the same if not more money than the studios would pay them. The issue of the artists being abused by greedy labels and studios accounts for most loss then piracy ever would.

  36. Products of the mind
    Touchy area.. Be very careful what you are asking for.

    I teach computer classes. I assist people with diagnosing problems with their computers. It is also very much a “product of the mind”. Every class is unique, every student learning pattern is unique, every problem is unique. I apply my knowledge and skills and *creativity*, in some ways that are much more challenging than creating music or authoring a book or acting.
    Once you play the “unique product of the mind” card, you have to extend “copyright protection” to thinking and learning. If every student had to pay me a royalty whenever they applied the processes or knowledge or analytical thinking I taught them, I would be very rich.

    As an artist, how much are you paying your instructors for the “product of the mind” that you received from them? What royalties are you sending to your 1st grade teacher each year?

    As an artist or author you have certain rights granted you by society to encourage your creativity. That’s fair. Society has evolved and changed, bringing new possibilities to you and everyone around you. As an artist you have to be aware of many of these advantages. It just happens to be high time society renegotiated the rights granted to you because of those same changes you are taking advantage of.

    So, tell me is it “fair” that *my* product of the mind doesn’t pay me royalties for life? Or is perhaps my contribution to an evolving society? A society that both you and I live within? Where do you draw the line at “fair”?

    I’ll trade you some of my “product of the mind” for your “product of the mind”, what kind of exchange rate do you think is fair? I might enjoy yours, but I suspect you *require* mine. Perhaps we might be better off if we *both* consider ourselves as contributing to our society. In copyright terms, think “Creative Commons”.

    Even this very discussion is a “product of the minds”. Plural. Society. Modern society.

  37. strunk&white – Some thoughts.
    Consider the difference between the “skill” of learning to play a musical instrument, and the creativity in creating music.

    Consider the difference between the “skill” of expert woodcraft and the creativity of creating fine furniture.

    Consider the difference between the “skill” of knowing a subject well enough to teach it, and the creativity involved in actually teaching it.

    Consider the “skill” in bridge stress engineering and the creativity in designing one.

    Consider the “skill” in learning to write a computer program, and the art of designing one.

    Consider the difference between science and research.

    Consider the difference between an hourly wage and lifetime royalties. Apply to all of the above.

    Hubris. Look it up. Consider how the term retribution applies in relation to hubris. Extrapolate to a modern digital society and the highly abused (and misused) term “Intellectual Property”.

    And while you are at it, you might want to look up the terms “robber barons” and “rent seekers”. You might also consider what it means to be “standing on the shoulders of giants”. We all are. Every last one of us.

    Society has changed a lot over the last 100 years. It’s changed a lot over the last 20 years. Drop the hubris and join the modern digital society. The benefits far outweigh the perceived losses.

  38. strunk&white says:

    touchy area, or touchy people?
    S&B — did you say “if” you were an alien? Man, I don’t even know what you’re talking about half the time. Stop drinking and commenting — it’s dangerous. What the heck does Michael Jackson have to do with any of this?

    So, the solution to artists being robbed of their rights is YouTube? Good to know. You are aware that an artist posting her own video on YouTube and collecting ad revenue is functioning within a healthy copyright legal system? You are aware of that, right? Creative Commons wouldn’t exist without a strong copyright law. You know that, right? Ask Lawrence Lessig. He knows.

    And Old Dude, I think both you and S&B are making the same basic error in this discussion. Copyright does not apply to ideas, only to expression. If I write a book filled with wonderful ideas, I’m happy to see all those ideas go out into human culture and multiply into many little baby ideas for all of us to share and hug and love. No compensation needed, other than the warming of my heart.

    AND I still claim copyright protection for the expression of those ideas that is my book. In that way, when you and other teachers use that expression in your classroom, it’s not just you getting paid. You do get paid for teaching, am I right, everyday, every minute of every day, even those minutes when maybe you aren’t imparting your wisdom to the generations? The royalties I send to my 1st grade teacher are in the form of a very nice pension fund built with the public money used to pay her. And I don’t begrudge her a penny of it. I think she was more than worth it.

    Save the “evolving society” crap for someone who hasn’t heard that ridiculous rationalization before. This discussion is about Top Gun, remember? We’re going right into the danger zone, baby. So, you want to reference Top Gun while building a metaphor to teach your students about, um, bad film… your fair dealing rights cover that.

    You want to torrent that film without permission for your personal collection?… just pay for it, man. Just pay for it.

  39. Copyright and expression
    As I said before, I am not in favour of abolishing copyright. I am in favour of modernising copyright laws for a digital age. The current political and cultural atmosphere surrounding this subject is heavily polarised. Way too much focus on increased “enforcement”, and not enough focus on the *reason* copyright exists. The balance between society and the copyrights that society grants stakeholders has been shifting one direction, while the technology has been enabling and driving the other direction.

    Actually, I haven’t been “paid” an hourly (or any other) wage for any of the teaching I have done in the last 5 years. Nor for my contributions to open source projects. Not even for programs that I wrote 25 years ago, they have been superseded by more modern ones, open source ones. On the plus side, I now have a plethora of programs available to me that I used to pay for, again through open source. In that sense I have joined the “digital society”, in the balance I am better off for it. In this modern world, the average digital product is obsolete in 3 years, perhaps less. Content lasts a little longer, certainly not a lifetime.

    Yes I am aware the GPL and copyright laws protect those open source programs, just as they protect every other copy protected expression. But here is the ironic part about GPL and Creative Commons licenses. They specifically give more rights to *users* than to the authors. The “reason” for these licenses is exactly the opposite of why traditional copyright exists. To coin a phrase, it is “copyleft”.
    The same reasoning applies to Creative Commons licenses. Why don’t you ask Lawrence Lessig and Eben Moglen *why* they are written that way. They know. So do I. So should you.
    If you want to bring in CC and GPL, start with the reasons *why* they are needed in the first place. Explain the practical differences between traditional copyright licenses and these licenses, to the author and to the “user”. Try doing it without at least an implicit acknowledgement for the existence of a modern digital society, with different values and views than you have.

    So step back from your “author’s rights” for a moment, and examine the purpose of copyright, the benefits to society which granting an exclusive copyright achieves. Fast forward to the digital age, and see exactly how such laws should be phrased to benefit society as a whole. Exactly how much “incentive” is appropriate for artists and authors in this day and age? Re-balance.

    You are so wrapped up in your own “rights”, you have lost sight of the historical reasoning for those rights in the first place. Copyright laws are for the benefit of all of society, not for any particular individual or subgroup or corporate profit margin.

    Again, I am not advocating the abolishment of copyright. I am saying that contrary to all the doomsayers, drastically reduced copyright terms and expanded fair dealing seems appropriate in this day and age. Copyright should be clearly defined to cover content, and not the media it is delivered on. The audience needs to have the freedom to move that content to any medium they find appropriate. If that DVD of Top Gun has become so scratched it is no longer playable, why shouldn’t he have the “right” to replace it, perhaps from a torrent? Does he, or does he not have a licence for the content? A simple yes or no will suffice. Or perhaps you can rationally explain why his licence is good as long as the DVD lasts, but no longer? If he bought the DVD, it’s his “property” to do with as he likes and copyright doesn’t enter into the picture. If it’s a content license, then it’s valid no matter how long the DVD lasts, or how he replaces it when it’s worn out, or it’s technology outdated. Pick your poison.

  40. Fair and Balanced
    We have a number of angles here, and its hard to keep up with.

    Fair and Balanced copyright does not mean that artists should get paid forever for their work, but it also does not mean that artists should not get paid at all.

    The purpose of copyrights was to ensure that artists were sufficiently compensated for their work.

    The purpose of limitations on copyright lengths was to ensure that content was not tied up for so long as to stifle innovation and creativity.

    Copyright a work for too long, and it becomes pointless. People stop buying it, or so few people buy it that it doesn’t matter anymore.

    Copyright a work for too little, and the artist (or estate) does not get addequate compensation for the work.

    Being a content creator is hard, and takes talent. I acknowledge this, as I’m a developer, and a damn good one. But I couldn’t write a song, or paint a masterpiece, or write a screen play, or anything like that.

    Fair and Balanced copyright also means that consumers do not have to pay for the ability to consume the same work over and over again. Compensate the content producer by purchasing the work. Consume the work on whatever device you choose, at whatever time you choose.

    Copyrights are not meant to allow distributors to tell us where, when and how we can consume the content. Nobody should have that right.

    Its also important to distinguish between different types of consumers. There are commercial and non-commercial consumers. Copyright laws should make this distinction, and allow for appropriate enforcement for each.

    Commercial consumers are: Movies theatres (pay licensing fees to publicly show movies), Shopping malls (pay licensing fees to play music), Art Galeries, etc.

    Non-commercial consumers are people like you and me that buy CD’s, DVD’s, etc.

    Current laws treat all infringement the same. A theatre showing bootlegged movies is punished in the same way as an individual borrowing and making a private copy of that borrowed movie. The Theatre showing the bootlegs is obviously going to do more harm to the industry, but the laws don’t make that distinction.

    I don’t condone using file sharing or bittorrent to infringe copyrights. I think artists should be paid for their work. But if I buy an album with DRM on it, and it wont play on my computer because it runs Linux, I sure wont feel bad about circumventing the DRM, or downloading an exact copy of what I purchased so that I can consume it.


  41. Copyright and expression 2
    Expression.. Does it have to be written? Can it be visual or verbal? Can it be created for a single individual or does it have to be for a wide audience? Perhaps you should check with that 1st grade teacher to see if she might qualify for copyright protection.
    Keep in mind we are taking about copyright LAW at this point, not compensation.
    You might also want to talk to that furniture maker, and that bridge architect. Explain to them why your particular expressions are worthy of copyright protection, and theirs are not. The law should apply equally, no? Better close your eyes when you sit in the chair, and put on a blindfold before you cross that bridge. No pictures with it in the background, even if you “bought” that chair. Sounds ridiculous, right?
    Welcome to the digital age, where it’s just as ridiculous to sue a mother for making a video of her child dancing to copyrighted music, and posting it on you tube.
    Current copyright laws allow that mother to be dragged into court, but they don’t offer *any* protection to that architect or furniture maker. Something has to change, go ahead and pick whichever version of “ridiculous” seems appropriate to you.

    Should the copyright on a work commissioned by our elected government be held by the author/stakeholder? Should our government even hold a copyright? How about works created with our tax dollars? How about tax credits? How about the CBC? Keep in mind that in our modern world, mass distribution of such works is easy and very inexpensive. And they have already been paid for. Should an author that has *ever* collected UIC or welfare be required to release his work under a CC license? After all, my contributions supported him while he “created” this work, and I never collected a dime in my life. How is that fair?

    If you feel this “evolving society” idea is crap, how do you explain the very existence of CC and GPL works? Doesn’t that clearly point to a LOT of people with quite different values than you hold? Where did they come from? How do they interact? What do they value?
    Both the GPL and the CC are quite different than traditional copyright licenses. They contain more “protections” for the users than they do for the authors. Why? Who is part of this? All around the world, the internet connects them. Many others have come to share their values as well. The product of their “digital community”, brings you Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Google. Even this blog at Michael’s site. The digital society is here and evolving, even if you treat the idea as crap.

    Copyright is simply a set of protections which society extends to the authors of creative works. Not for the benefit of the authors, but for the long term benefit of society. If anything, copyright holders should be MORE aware of shifts and the evolution of society than the average person. Time for a re-evaluation of those protections, re-balancing. For the same reasons copyright laws came into existence in the first place, the long term benefit of society.
    Today’s society is quite different than it was 20 years ago, never mind 100 years ago, or even a bit over 300 years ago – copyright didn’t exist back then. Neither did the internet.

  42. Hiding behind shifting semantics & dated agreements. meh.

  43. strunk&white says:

    So, that’s my answer then? — we all agree that torrenting a film held under copyright without permission and instead of paying for it is an infringement of copyright and infringing copyright is wrong. I think I’ve heard each one of you admit that at some point or another.

    The difference between us, I guess, is that you get to use the “evolving society” rationalization to excuse wrong behaviour, while I continue to think that rationalizations are not logical arguments with any bearing on the central questions. Plus ca change in this now very old argument.

    Old Guy — how much are you willing to pay for a perpetual license to copyrighted material? It’s interesting to me that no-one torrenting Top Gun right now is bothering to ask about the price for permission to keep going. That’s not an evolving society — that’s one side deciding that change has already happened and everyone hurt by it better just get over their sore feelings about their personal rights.

    How does that usually work out in evolving societies? You ask a lot of high-minded questions about copyright law details (all of which are being worked out in actual negotiations, by the way), but to me it’s all just a screen to block out the fact that what this original posting is about is theft, plain and simple. The standard response to that on this blog seems to be, “Yes, it’s theft, but…”

    “Yes, but.” Moral relativism. I wouldn’t pay you nickle to teach that.

    Thanks for reminding me why I don’t join revolutions. I’m going out into the wilderness for awhile to witness the law of the jungle without accompanying rationalizatons. At least when the fox pounces on the hare, he doesn’t make it listen to some long-winded explanation of why this is all better for the world of hares in the long run.

  44. @strunk&white Once again. I am calling you out, prove you’re an indie artist and not a lying spinning shill. An indie artist would recognize bit torrent as a distribution platform for their product. More fans = more merchandise to sell at live gigs etc = more money.

    Record yourself playing a simple scale. If you are a musician . Say : “Hi i am strunk and white and this is a simple B flat scale forward to back with arpeggio”.

    If you are a visual artist. Draw/paint something then sign it strunk&white take a picture of you signing your work or video footage of you actually creating the work.

    If you cannot do something as simple as this you’re a liar. You sound like a spinning lawyer. I come across this crap often and can pick you out like a person setting them self on fire in a big crowd.

    Don’t tell me about your personal “morals” and try and paint michael in bad light if you can’t even prove you are a creator.

  45. strunk&white
    You are paraphrasing, and getting it all wrong. The “standard response” (as you put it), *isn’t* “yes it’s theft but..”, it’s something quite different.

    I said it before, but you ignored it. Many have said it before.. What most of these people want is to have their content delivered, their way. The digital way. Convenient and immediate and global, at a fair price. So they go looking. And the *only* thing they find is P2P.

    The distribution companies have ignored their audience, and they have now gone elsewhere. If you *really* want to see P2P sharing of copyrighted content cut to 10% of what it is today, offer an alternative that meets their needs.

    Cross in the crosswalk. But the only way to get across the street is to walk down 2 blocks first, because there isn’t one there. There easily could be, but some idiot decided they knew better, and didn’t put one there. Pretty soon *everyone* is jaywalking. They would gladly use the crosswalk – if there was one..
    So, who’s fault is that? If you do a poll of the jaywalkers, they all say the same thing. They would gladly use the crosswalk – if someone would put one in. Until then they will continue to jaywalk. Would that answer surprise you?

    Does the answer you generally get about copyright actually surprise you? If it does, you do not know your audience, your customers. If you actually do a little market analysis, you will find out *why* they are doing P2P sharing. Because in their digital world there isn’t an alternative.

    Yes society is changing, evolving. The digital society wants it their way. They want it convenient, immediate, global, and low cost. Not free, low cost. If that means ignoring the copyright protections of a few archaic business models, then so be it. I may not like the attitude, but that’s the way it is. I can understand the issues on both sides, but I am now part of the digital age myself. My sympathies don’t extend very far in the direction of business models that wish they could turn back the clock. If those companies want to use the “force of law” to turn back time, then it’s time to change those laws. Not throw them out as some would like to see happen, but change them so the laws reflect the reality of where this society is heading, not where it’s been.

    Perpetual license…
    Did I buy the DVD or did I buy a license to the content? If I bought the DVD, then I can do whatever I wish with it, including all the microscopic pitholes that happen to represent digital content on the DVD. If I bought a license to the content, exactly where on the license does it say I can’t use the content after a certain date? In the absence of a specific expiry date, the law generally interprets the license as perpetual. Why would I need 2 perpetual licenses? You chose.

    Morals and ethics…
    Tough call.. Must be nice to live in an absolutely black and white world. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. The world and society is many shades of grey. Everything must be looked at in context. I have met a few people that believe in black and white, but even they back off into the grey areas when pressed. Nobody I have met actually lives their life that way, they just delude themselves. They aren’t living in reality.
    In this particular case, you want what is “right” for you, while 1000’s of others want what is “right” for them.
    It’s ironic that in this case both sides could have what is “right” for them. Except a few archaic business models, that refuse to enter the digital age, are standing in the way. And they have money and political influence. They attempt to muddy the issues on both sides, denying the reality of the digital age, and the evolving digital society.
    So yeah, lets talk relative morality and ethics. Your brand against my brand. Lets see which one more accurately reflects reality. Which one works in the real world.

    You say you are an author. OK. If I could show you a way to double your royalties over the first 3 years, and reach an audience 1000 times what your publisher could reach, would you be interested? Which of these numbers catches your attention? If you are an author, doubling your royalties sounds interesting. But the only way you can double your royalties, is to cut your traditional publisher out of the loop. This technique works way better with “little name authors” than “big name authors”. Are you still interested?

  46. strunk&white says:

    hello, I’m strunk&white… wtfay?
    Oldguy – that’s some monumental excuse-making there. The reason you bust out through traffic isn’t because you’re too bloody lazy or impatient to walk the block and half to the crosswalk… no, it’s because “some idiot decided they knew better, and didn’t put” a crosswalk exactly where you would someday decide you needed to get across. Solidarity brother — why can’t the world answer my every petty request for convenience each and every time I have one? It must be the corporations and greedy artists running the show with their lobbyists and corrupt politicians.

    The ONLY way digital consumers could find the content they wanted was through p2p sharing of copyright-protected material? That’s why no one under 30 currently owns a CD? Good lord, the untruths you have to tell yourself just to avoid cracking the wallet a little. Unbelievable. So, the ONLY way music consumers could voice their displeasure with the pricing and distribution structure of the music industry was to engage in wholesale theft? They couldn’t just invent indie music, CC licensing and social media? Nope, they had to punctuate all the progress with a good old-fashioned pillage. It was the only way.

    I don’t need the lectures about evolving society and the new digital reality. If you’d pay attention to what’s actually happening in the traditional creative industries instead of mindlessly repeating the platitudes of the copyleft, you’d see that no-one is interested in turning back the clock, least of all professional artists and their producer partners. We all want to modernize copyright for the digital age; we just don’t all believe modernization means bandwagon demolition of important rights.

    The big digital bus is pulling out of the station, and who cares who’d like a seat. Is that it? The ticket price is total capitulation to consumer demand, immediately and with a big smiling thank you for the spanking sir, may I have another? Oh, the group there might have been a bit late to the station – let’s just run them over so we don’t have to deal with them.

    I suspect you don’t read enough history, beyond that bit about the end of the buggy-whip economy. You’re advocating a dictatorship of the consumer akin to Marx and Engels’ dictatorship of the proletariat. I’ll admit, it’s a lovely romantic notion. What could possibly go wrong? Certainly there’s no danger of some insidious cult of personality springing up in which the leaders of the movement are celebrated through colourful poster art and their every word jealously protected from criticism by an army of fawning, jabbering yes-men. Oh, don’t say anything critical about “Michael.” “Michael” is doing a wonderful job building a beautiful new world for us all.” It’s all a bit creepy to me, mate, and it would be approaching terrifying if I didn’t get such a chuckle out of it.

    I didn’t actually say I was an author. I said, “If I write a book…”, which is the beginning of a hypothetical construction, not a self-definition. Sometimes, it’s important to understand what you’re reading. That said, I’m betting there’s exactly nothing you could show me about new business models for authors that I don’t already know. The suggestion that the solution for authors is to cut their traditional publishers out of the loop shows me you haven’t a clue what traditional publisher does. Even the dear leader, Cory Doctorow, does not advocate cutting publishers out of the loop.

    Finally, to copyleft – You want me to pass a test before you will decide to believe I’m an independent artist for the purposes of this discussion? And I’m supposed to care what you believe, because…?

    What, exactly, does “a spinning lawyer” sound like? And how is that different from what an artist sounds like? “Don’t try and paint michael in bad light if you can’t even prove you are a creator.” Listen to yourself, man. Have an original thought.

    BTW, I’m going over to a lawyer’s house for a holiday party today – sometimes artists and lawyers actually get together outside of the smoky backrooms where we plot world domination, just to have a corporately controlled egg nog and enjoy a little human fellowship. I think I’ll ask my buddy to sin around a few times to see what it sounds like.

  47. I must have hit a soft spot
    So you aren’t an author, not even an aspiring one. Next best guess is you represent one of the “partner” distribution or publishing channels. No wonder you are showing such indignation. The reason we are in this situation today. Your patterns of argument are what we have come to expect from representatives of archaic business models, but there are a few artists that are parroting the line as well.

    Yes, this “new world” will seem creepy to you. Probably scares you to death. But your industry is at least 10 years behind the times. This digital age started 20 years ago, but the effects are now starting to affect everything in waves instead of ripples. It evolves at a rapid pace too, so if you ignore the ripples you will get washed by the waves – as you are seeing happen. You ignored all the warning signs of changing society desires, now you are seeing the results of that neglect.

    Laws are made for the benefit of society, all of it. Not just some subgroup or business model. They have to be rational and fair to everybody. At one time that street was full of mud and ruts, and walking 2 blocks made sense, but now that it is paved over and clear, it doesn’t. So either put more crosswalks in or change the law. That’s human nature. That’s society. That’s grey morality. Ask any ad agency about human nature. They will probably charge you an arm and a leg for the same summary.
    You should have moved your storefront when they paved the road, not when you noticed millions of people are jaywalking. Calling the cops every time you see someone jaywalking won’t help, not when there are a million jaywalkers for every cop. It’s way past the time to move, society has already changed. Customer patterns have already changed.

    So now your industry is advocating for more cops and stricter laws. Let me gaze into my crystal ball a bit and see what will happen.

    Spend a LOT of money lobbying for stronger deterrents, more cops. Make it VERY clear to these digital customers that you see them as criminals, not potential customers. They will go further underground, and their numbers will continue to grow at an alarming rate. You will also have upset them, directly impacting their digital lifestyle, their society. You will have provoked them.
    Some of them will realize that these new laws are a double edged sword, and can be used against you as well. For every “takedown” complaint you issue, you internet connections will receive 1000. If the laws are “fair”, soon you will won’t have a connection to monitor this society. Without due process, you are more vulnerable than those “criminal customers” of yours. Guilty until proven innocent.
    All of them will see that laws are created by society, and can be repealed by society. Current political parties will be thrown out through the elective process, creating new parties that get elected simply on the platform of repealing copyright laws – throw out the baby with the bathwater. Because the digital society is a global society, this will happen all over the democratic world. The ripples are there, perhaps 5-10 years.

    So go ahead and provoke all these potential customers, a showdown with the digital society. Dollars against the voting booth. Political thrashing that will topple governments. This “digital society” doesn’t exist, so you have nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bunch of thieves connected by computers and the internet.
    It’s human nature to always “obey the law”, no matter how inconvenient that law may seem at the time. Only criminals get speeding tickets, so let take away their drivers license when they do. That will stop them all for sure. If you lobby long enough, I’m sure if you could get such a law passed, it would be enshrined forever.. Yeah..

    I don’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater. But I’m a realist, and can see which direction this growing digital society is heading. Current business models are doomed one way or another. The more thrashing, the more victims are dragged along. Ask Microsoft what would have happened to their internet connection recently under your proposed new laws. Ask Sony, Cisco, thousands of other companies. Be careful what you demand..

  48. Evolving Society
    I think we are arguing at totally different levels.. You don’t believe in such a thing as a “digital society”, while I am a member of it. You want to “control the criminals”, while I am looking at the “inevitability of the future”.

    Perhaps that is because you and I have a different personal timescale to measure against. I lived through the Vietnam age with the peace movement and draft dodgers. I was in Europe before and after the wall fell. I visited South Africa during Apartheid and afterwards. I know from personal experience that society does change and evolve. Human nature is fairly constant though it all, but the laws, the “rules” we live by are adaptable. Sometimes it is something big that plants the seeds, sometimes it is small. But ripples are set into motion.
    I was glued to the TV screen during the JFK assassination and when humanity landed on the moon. What a lot of people didn’t see at the time, is that this also changed the face of news broadcasting for society. “News as it happens”. Society changed because of it. Cell phones changed society again, I was one of the early adopters (and also one of the early victims of drivers distracted by cell phones). Anyone over 60 can point back to how many times society has changed, and yet human nature still seems fairly constant. Politics and law are the lubricant that smooths the interaction for a society. But they don’t define or create the society, it’s the other way around.

    I’ve been around since before the “digital age” even existed. I’ve seen how it has changed the way people interact, their very lifestyles. Society. If I look back at the last 50 years, the internet has by far the biggest impact on our changing society. In fact, it enabled the rise of a completely new kind of society, not bound by any traditional borders. Interactions on a scale never before seen. New capabilities. New values. New “rules”. Digital society, human nature.

    You can’t shove the genie back into the bottle. This digital society demands convenience and immediacy on a global scale. They are your customers and audience and peers. Distribution of digital works through this digital society is easy and very, very cheap. So now you have the technology and distribution means to easily “share” among that society, and they do. Human nature.
    But I’ve observed that most people aren’t “natural thieves”, not many people steal from that unattended fruit stand in front of the store, even if they can. But if you put your unattended fruit stand 2 blocks away from the cashier (and charge the customer travel time as well) it will empty out just as fast, and the cashier won’t see much of anything. But it’s even worse than that in the digital age, they can’t even *find* a cashier in their world, they just see the fruit sitting there. Inevitable human nature.

    The digital society is here, no matter how much you want to deny it, it exists. You can’t make it go away. Any ad agency will tell you to do, you have to cater to human nature. You won’t change it.

    You might be able to threaten an individual with lawsuits, even tougher laws. But you can’t threaten a society. They talk, they interact, they create governments to make the laws, and they can unmake them too. I’ve seen society evolve, and laws change to suit them. I’m not apologising for human nature and I’m not applauding it, I’m just a realist. If you don’t like what I am saying, then ignore it. But I suggest you remember it.

  49. strunk&white says:

    brave new world
    Oldguy — You spend an awful lot of time and effort assuming you know who I am and what I represent and what my demands on the evolving society are, all so you can construct the easiest position to knock down from your position in the heights of pragmatic superiority.

    What you have failed to grasp from the very beginning — what most copyleftists I’ve listened to blather on and on about “you can’t fight the tides of change,” “only a fool would try to stop a new day from dawning… blah, blah, effing blah” fail to grasp — is that I and everyone I “represent” love the new digital society. We have been working in it for over twenty years now. We have helped shape it and lead it with our thoughts and ideas.

    I don’t particularly care about new laws to control digital content. What I care about is that I live in a society where people don’t start excusing themselves for breaking existing laws; where whinging idiots don’t say “I had to take that thing because it was too expensive and hard to get any other way” and then governments throw up their hands and say “well, I guess if he really wanted it, then taking it was the only solution.”

    And I care about that — I’m starting to think I care about it quite foolishly, to be honest — not because I need to protect anything that is mine. Me, I give my art away all the time, online and off, for all sorts of great reasons, not all of them being for promotion and audience growth. No, I care about it to protect you and the rest of your crew living in their parents’ basements, so that when someday someone decides to take something important away from you, we have a mechanism and a social practice capable of saying “oh, no, please don’t do that.”

    We may actually both want to eventually live in that Star Trek reality where no-one needs any money and people only make art, or anything for that matter, out of altruistic interest. I think we probably both do want that. The difference between our approaches, as far as I can tell, is that I actually care to try and make sure no-one gets run over by a bloody great truck when they are jaywalking across the road to Utopia.

    For the last time — I’m an independent artist. I make my living, in one way or another, from art. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t work for a corporation. What does it take for you folks to believe that someone real, and not only the great horned devils you construct out of your rich fantasy lives, might possibly disagree with you?

    If my soft spot was the size of the average barn, you wouldn’t be able to hit it on your best day. Give me a call when the government falls on the question of whether or not some dude can download Top Gun for free to replace the version he mysteriously “scratched.” You copyleftists must be damn hard on your DVDs. I’ve never scratched one in my life.

  50. Anonymous Coward says:

    Copyright will be render obsolete in the near future. Good luck.

  51. strunk&white says:

    Define copyright.

  52. Star Trek TOS
    Funny you should mention Star Trek. I watched the the original series – when it was brand new. It was one of the catalysts that started me thinking about technology, and society, and human nature. And I started observing and paying attention. Over half a century’s worth. A major in psychology.

    Your goals and mine might sound similar, but the road to get there is quite different. You say we have to change human nature, through force of law. I say you won’t succeed, you have to cater to it.

    In fact, I’m saying if your method is even tried, the backlash will be so strong we will be throwing away many of the good things about society and law that we now have. You don’t seem to understand human nature, and don’t really believe such a society can form, or exist. Yet we are having this argument. Social interaction across a geography that could not have happened 20 years ago. Human nature.

    Who is the idealist and who is the realist?

    If you are truly an artist, I apologize for my assumption. But frankly, you are parroting a line that is very common among the large entertainment conglomerates. It’s possible you have simply made the same mistaken assumptions they have made. They often masquerade themselves as artists in these discussions, so it becomes easy for many of us to make that assumption.

    Oh, one more thing.. My kids no longer live in the basement, they have kids of their own. Why do you think I don’t believe draconian laws will work? Because I observe and pay attention. Human nature isn’t bad, if you cater to it.

  53. Digital society, P2P and morality

    This old back is really bad tonight, can’t sleep. So maybe I can give you some insight into this “digital society”. I’ll try to focus on your particular peeve, P2P sharing.

    I have a prized Red Dwarf DVD set. Had it for years. It survived my kids and beyond. But one day one of niece’s kids goes beyond scratching one, she breaks it. Not only do I enjoy the series, it also brings back fond memories of the times I enjoyed it with my kids when I occasionally rewatch it. Never again? Maybe not.

    I searched high and low to replace Season One, and couldn’t find it. Out of print, unavailable, literally irreplaceable.
    (This has changed recently, a quick search finds the complete “all seasons” set, including the new “season 8” for ~ $200)

    All I wanted was 1 DVD from 1 season. Unavailable anywhere. So, being a member of this digital age, I searched and found a copy through P2P. Not only that, I ripped the remainder of my set to a media server so none of them could ever be broken, scratched, or lost again. They are boxed up and sitting in the top shelf of the closet. I didn’t “steal” from the stakeholders. The DVD I wanted was no longer available. I still had both halves for a license, but it was useless as content. I couldn’t have bought a replacement, even if I was willing to pay for the whole Season One set. You might call that “morally bankrupt” or “stealing”, but most parents and grandparents would call that prudent, and even envy my technical ability to do so. Perhaps even ask my help in doing the same for them.

    From a morality viewpoint, what would you do? Would you help them? Or tell them to teach their nieces, nephews, kids and grandkids better manners? Buy more DVDs, some that can’t be found anywhere? Honestly now, as an artist and parent/grandparent, what would you do? Is the situation still black and white?

    So let me try an example that is a bit more into the grey area.

    I have a friend in Australia that I chat with, exchange email, etc. We mostly get along and have similar interests. Both of us are generally honest people and would never steal fruit from a stand in front of a store. I have never met him in person. Digital age, digital society.
    He tells me about a recent episode of a TV show called “Rush”, that is only available in Australia. Says I should watch it, wants to chat about it.
    I doubt this TV series will ever be shown in North America, it has never come out on DVD anywhere yet, and it’s only one episode that he wants me to watch and comment on. If I wait for it to come out on DVD (if ever), will it even play on my DVD player? Will the conversation with my friend have any meaning by then?
    I’m human, and I’m also part of the digital age. I want it convenient, immediate, and inexpensive. I can search high and low, and can’t find a copy available from a licensed source anywhere. So I fire up the old P2P and find it and download it. Do you honestly think if I had a choice, I would actually go to the trouble of P2P sharing a copy of a possibly “audio out of sync” or “scenes missing” episode, or would I pop a couple bucks to download a copy from a known good source? I may be lazy and demanding. I am not a “thief” by nature. But my only choices are “not at all”, or continuing an interesting conversation with my friend.
    A couple months later, the situation is reversed. I point out an episode of “Castle” that he would like. Same thing, same situation. Guess what happens?
    This is well into the grey area, morally. But because we are both human, and both part of the same “digital community”, we do it. No excuses, other than in the terms of our “society” we don’t have any other choice. Can you blame us? What would you do?
    What should I do if I actually like the “Rush” series? I’m human too.

    That’s 2 of us. Multiply by many hundred million more. Yes, it’s a slippery slope from P2P sharing of the unavailable, to P2P sharing the readily available. I am well aware of that, and I see it happening. That’s also human nature.

    Can you see what you are up against? Community spirit in a digital society? Parents and grandparents with less than perfect kids? People just being human?

    Draconian laws won’t stop it. They will just drive it underground and anger that “digital society”. Take a good look around. If you start stepping too hard on those “kids in the basement”, you will have to answer to them, and their parents, and their grandparents. You can catch a lot more flies with honey than vinegar.
    Offer an alternative, with the same “advantages” that P2P sharing gives the digital community and they will slide back. Make it better than P2P and they will flock to you. Apple proved it.

    Grey morality. In the terms of the digital society, there often *is* no other “human” choice.

  54. Captain Hook says:

    Aiy, me maties
    old guy, enough with trying to prove the rule with the exceptions. Most people downloading arn’t trying to replace scratched DVDs.

    stunk&whitly, old business models wont work anymore, and guess what? Intellectual Property ain’t worth what it use to be. Movie and record companies will go broke, and new funding models will HAVE to be developed that do not depend on copyright for their survival.

    I download a mess of movies and TV shows, and music It is great! no commercials, and I watch them when and where I want too, and I am not forced to sit through lame copyright notices. Of the people that download, I expect I represent the majority.

    The problem for you both is that there are literally millions of us. Our attitudes are not likely to change, and downloading media is soooooo eassyy. As such, the only hope you have of stopping us and keeping your precious business models, is to institute highly excessive penalties, and bring the resources of the state in to find and persecute (yes persecute) offenders. Call it state sponsored digital terrrorism.

    Here is another way of looking at it. What if money really did grow from trees? Or perhaps movies and tv shows on shiny little leaves in the shape of CDs? All one has to do is reach up and grab one from any tree in the neighbourhood, any time they want one. Now you tell me that Joe Shmo down the street, may not own all the trees in the country, but he owns all the CDs that grow from them. We therefore are not allowed to pick the forbidden fruit ourselves, but must instead buy them from Joe. Do you really think that most people will not simply say to hell with Joe, and go out into their own back yard and pick all the CDs they want? Or perhaps have an indoor tree and pick those CDs? The only way you have a hope of stopping people from doing this is to institute draconian laws that will literally terrorize people into not doing so, because the consequences are so severe.

    Good luck with that. Personally, I think the negative consequences for society of such a police state, are far worse than finding a way to live without copyright. We don’t even have to abandon copyright altogether. Just not make it an offence for individuals to pick the fruit from the trees for personal use, but still require copyright laws for corporations that use the fruit to make salads and fruit baskets.

    Any way. Gotta go now. There is a new Doctor Who episode coming out in a few days and I need to make some room on my harddrive so I can download it.

  55. Entitlement and self importance are not job skills.
    Not just corporations. Monopolies with lobbyists. Moral relativism you say. That’s fine if we are talking about Top Gun. Something of dubious cultural value. Lets switch to copyright on antiviral medications. Something that because of copyright was kept out of Africa for over a decade. Drugs India makes “illegally” to prevent human beings from dieing. Shouldn’t you be suing them? Few lawyers have the total lack of moral compass to go there. Or at least they don’t want the bad publicity of being exposed for what they really are.

    The bottom line is there are two competing INTERESTS. One benefits the few. The other the many. The overwhelming majority are revolting now that technology has given them the ability to do so. This is their only viable outlet for consumer criticism on the current system. Lobbyists have more money and influence in our elected government. Money equals access. One person one vote sadly does not apply.

    In our opinion monopolists greed or intellectual narcissism does not equal a lifetime of entitlement. Do you think scribes should have been protected from the printing press? Don’t you believe in Free Markets? The invisible hands of the market have spoken! Laissez-faire!

  56. Captain Hook says:

    Patents are not copyright
    @Nemo, I hate when people get their IP terms mixed up as you have done. Copyright is NOT the same as patents. Medical IP is generally patents NOT copyright. There are significant differences between the two. Not that I disagree with your view of medical research patents, just that it is off topic here.

  57. Ha, you”re a bummer
    Japanese anime fan subs that remain un-licensed in america. It’s culture presented on a much larger scale then the creators have hoped for. It’s content that’s moved beyond the potential scope for monetary compensation. It’s an improved product, thanks to generous translators.

    S and w, not only have your posts been digressing exponentially, but you’ve yet to gain any support from anyone. Additionally, you’ve re-stated that you’re an independent artists, yet conveniently ignore to meet copyleft’s challenge.

    So the question is, why should we listen to you? At least oldguy backed up his credentials with a bit of history and life experience.

    If any one pay service can offer me a reasonable monthly access fee for all my favorite media content, that I can have access to it on my time, and have it on demand, then I would gladly fork out 50$ a month.

    The technology is there, the profits could be there, but there’s still more money to be made in a forced traditional distribution that I refuse to partake in. Eventually, when enough people refuse, things will change.

    Till then, have fun organizing your life around release dates, show times.

    Just out of curiosity, I don’t own an ipod and I want to buy mp3’s legally. It can’t have DRM (check wal-mart fiasco), and must be compatible with any mp3 player, since these cheapos tend to break. Where do I go?

  58. strunk&black says:

    I’ve had a change of heart this morning.

    What I now would like is for armed Police officers to be able to enter every home and periodically search for pirated materials, or other copyright irregularities. If any infringing content is found, all members of the household should be publicly executed on the block immediately. I elect we create a special police force that are trained to deal with all manners of encryption and other methods of hiding infringing materials – the cost benefit here speaks for itself. They can have special red armbands with the copyright logo so we can all recognize their authority when they appear at our door steps. Whenever such an officer approaches you, you will carry at all times your “copyright papers”.

    These papers are government issued counterfeit proof RF-ID based digitally AES 256-bit encrypted for additional security and verification. The contain your unique identifier which is linked to a database run by an industry consortium. The database contains a list of authorized works that you are allowed to view/read/make comments on. This list can be updated at any time by the consortium to ensure your licensing dues are up to date. If the terms of service are violated, these rights may be revoked at any time without notice. The terms of service for each authorized work are kept buried under 500 sub-links of a website, and subject to change without notice. It is your requirement to review periodically (perhaps hourly to play it safe) for changes to these terms.

    Any violation of these terms constitutes a violation of copyright with its appropriate penalty.

    It’s clear to me that society will be much better once we have stamped out all these poor artists losing money. ACTA simply does not go far enough, we need more now.

    I’m on my way now to turn myself into the Police for my illegal downloading of Top Gun, may the mighty copyright holder bestow mercy upon my soul.

    S&W – Thank you so much for your influential words and showing me the true way to a greater society! May your mighty intellect continue to endow society with all its benefits protected by National Authority of Zealous Intellectual Security (or NAZIS in its abbreviated form).

  59. Can someone tell me where I can find a CD with Popsulo Sie W Ameryce by Ignacy Podgorski? It was put out on the RCA label.

    Good. I now have your attention.

    Just because this recording was done on a bakelite 78 record in the late 20’s / early 30’s, why isn’t it available? Ignacy died in 1957, so why are his recordings not available?

    This is my point: We have purchased the rights for personal enjoyment of a said work on a given media. Since I cannot purchase a new 78rpm record player today, I may not be able play that recording on that media any more. Just because that particular media has dropped out of vogue, does that mean we must give up our rights to that personal enjoyment because we are not allowed to maintain an updated copy “for our personal use”, assuming we still keep the original recording as proof of license?

    In Canada, we have, for years, paid a levy on blank tape and CD’s, which was supposed to have compensated the artists (or their heirs) for their work, should we wish to “upgrade” the recording so we can still enjoy it.

    Was this levy a deception? If that is so, the Canadian government must be charged with a multi-billion dollar lawsuit for criminal frauding its citizens.

    Looks like the the military will have to learn from the recording industry as to how to prevent interception and copying of data.

    Think about it for a minute. How long does a creator have license over his work? He stops having control over it upon the moment of his death. How long can the lazy heirs continue to leach off his work? better yet, WHY?? To them, I say STAND ON YOUR OWN TWO FEET AND MAKE A LIVING LIKE YOUR PARENT DID, not continue to live in the remains of your parents’ basement until you’re ready to kick the bucket.

    Or worse than the lazy heir leaches – the recording industry itself!!

  60. strunk&white says:

    Hi guys!

    I’m Barry Sookman, come read my blog!

  61. lol

    *wanders off to download the pirate bay site code & archive*

  62. Captain Hook
    Slippery slope. Human nature. Reality.

    In my last posting, I wasn’t trying to use an exception to prove the rule, I was trying to illustrate what the “digital community” is. Why it exists, why it does the things it does. It’s pretty obvious S&W doesn’t really understand what he is dealing with. Human nature, digital society, and the values they have developed – because they had no other options.

    Yes, there are millions of us to every one of “them”. Yes, they cannot “win”, in any kind of meaningful way. That’s the strength of digital society.

    Compared to hunting down the DVD in a store or online, online P2P sharing is really easy. That’s the bar that has to be met. If it is even easier or somehow better obtaining the content from a licensed source, most of the community will use it. But at a minimum it has to be easy, immediate, and global, or nobody in the community will touch it. Cost will be balanced against this, just like typical market forces. And the community is growing all the time.

    From a market forces perspective, it’s not that different from what Microsoft has discovered in it’s “competition” with Open Source and Linux. If you want to go head to head with “free”, you have to be good, you have to offer something worth paying for. You have to change your model.

    Beyond the market perspective, this situation has the added element of copyright and the balance between artists rights and society. That skews the relationship, perhaps so much so that the community cannot always claim the high moral ground. But the digital society exists, it’s there and has it’s own requirements as part of overall society. You must take their needs and values into consideration, just as you must take the needs and values of stakeholders into consideration. Tough to find the right balance when these values are so far apart they are truly alien to each other. And then you throw people that *claim* to understand both sets of values into the mix, when they obviously don’t have a clue. That’s a recipe for a collision course.

    I don’t applaud all the values I’ve seen develop in the digital society. Just as I haven’t always applauded all the values I have seen develop as society changes and evolves. But I do live in reality. I know what exists. You can’t change human nature, even though the society interactions change and shift underfoot. When enough people in a society want something, laws will change to accommodate them. Human nature isn’t perfect, but on the whole it isn’t bad either. It just is.

  63. hm, interesting thought. S&W shows up and tries to stir things up, antagonizing as much as possible like he’s trying to get someone with extreme ideas to argue with, right before the RIAA, MPAA and BSA’s man Ficsor does his personal attack on Geist. Then good old S&W disapears.

  64. I agree with oldguy on this, and I would like to point out that some companies actually DID adapt their business model to consumer demands, and it worked miracles:
    iTunes and Steam.

  65. strunk&white says:

    interesting thought
    anon — love the conspiracy theory. It does nothing to the reputation of this blog among reasonable people, so shine on you crazy diamond. Oh, and to the funny fellow who used my name to link to Sookman’s blog — hats off to your remarkable integrity.

    Sorry to “disappear.” Turns out, I have a life and things to do that don’t involve listening to the same excuses for moral relativism over and over and over and over….

    I’ll try to respond to the posts I was actually able to decipher since my last bit. That pretty much restricts it to Oldguy. Sorry, the rest of you, but I need actual independent, personally-formed thought to respond to. Well, there’s the funny pirate guy, I suppose. But I’ll wait for Dr. Geist top admonish him for his clearly illegal practices.

    Sound of crickets.

    Okay, oldguy, I LOVE that Star Trek helped you to form your life philosophy, and no matter what anyone else might say about that I don’t think you need to be embarrassed by the admission at all. You rock that prime directive, sir.

    While I get that your examples of the need for illegal p2p represent potentially real digital age dilemmas, you’ll have to excuse me for not caring whether or not you have trouble replacing a broken DVD. Can’t find it anywhere? Anywhere? Your only solution is the take it illegally? Wow, if you were starving, and we were talking about food, I’d have great sympathy.

    I believe you missed an opportunity to teach (you’re the teacher guy, right?) your young relative an important life lesson from the gospel according to Mick Jagger. You can’t always get what you want.

    You can try to dress that old piracy duck up to look like a beautiful Christmas goose, but it sure is quacking. Look, I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I WANT the digital world. I want ease of access to everything for everyone. I just believe as members of a working, honest society, it is every citizen’s duty to work toward that digital world fairly and legally, without tromping all over established rights. If new rights for consumers come through considered, tempered negotiation, that’s great. But stealing is stealing. It’s not a grey area.

    Hey, here’s a fun thing. This is Harlan Ellison, one of the authors of the original Star Trek series — a man who, I guess, helped form the generous life philosophy of sharing other people’s stuff that you subscribe to. Enjoy:

  66. an even more interesting thought
    I have responded, at length, and my response is being “held for moderation.”

    — strunk&white

  67. wreaths for an evolving society

    What I’d like to know is how come the stupid wreath makers didn’t place this wreath right on this woman’s door? Clearly she wants the wreath, and I guess in the morality of the evolving society, she was perfectly justified in taking it since there it was, available for the taking.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  68. @strunk&white
    You miss the whole point. Star Trek didn’t have have much influence in forming my personal life’s philosophy. I did that all by my lonesome. But it did start me thinking and observing. Technology, society, and inevitable human nature. The results of those lifelong observations have tempered my youthful idealism with a healthy dose of reality.

    It wasn’t her DVD she broke, it was mine. Yes, I did search high and low, online and offline, for a replacement, and yes at the time I couldn’t find a replacement – at any price. My dilemma, not hers. My loss, my fond memories, not hers. Irreplaceable, but not in the terms of the digital society. Sorry to contradict Mick Jagger, but in this case I could. It’s into the grey area morally, but it’s also into the grey area of legality. Content license vs DVD ownership. Single DVD of a 2 DVD set. Combine this with my act of ripping the remainder of the sets to a media server. This is one area of copyright laws that sorely needs to be modernized and clarified. My rights as well as the copyright holder’s. The technology has enabled new capabilities, created new values, choices for a society that never existed before. What is ultimately “fair” to society and stakeholders has shifted. In the terms of the digital society, we no longer need to live in a disposable, throwaway culture.

    You may want that digital society. But it’s already here, it exists. It’s not something vague in the future, it’s here now. Look around, face reality. It has already created their own set of values. As soon as we get into morality, we get into a philosophical morass of relative “right” and “wrong”. The values already exist, they exist for a very human set of reasons. Accept it, deal with it. I’ve done that my whole life, tempered my idealism with reality.

    For the sake of clarity in communication, I have used the terms theft and stealing. But please recognize that there is a major difference between copyright infringement and theft. The laws recognizes this as well. In the terms of my acts described above, I have not “stolen” anything. I have simply reproduced the content to which I am licensed, through a means which did not exist when the law was written.

    I suspect you don’t have kids, otherwise you would know that teaching a 7 year old is quite a bit different than teaching an adult. A ethereal concept like copyright is well beyond the scope of what they can understand. For quite different reasons, their “value set” has more similarity to the digital society than it does to copyright stakeholders. Please don’t take this out of context, I know what you can do with a single phrase “admission”. If you like, 2+3=5, and 1+4=5, but 2!=1 and 4!=3. Catch the idea?

    Believe me, I am aware of the issues that Harlan raised in his 2007 presentation. He also makes the mistake in his presentation of equating copyright in the digital world with physical goods. He is simplifying things to the point of irrelevancy. I know why he uses such illustrations, it’s makes his point in his presentations. But it doesn’t reflect the reality of the digital world either, the point will be totally lost on them.
    Try to come up with something more relevant, more in tune with the values already in existence. In order to do that, you must truly understand those values and the reasons they evolved. By the time you get there, the intent of your “message” will have changed as well. Human nature.

    One thing you should realize if you are going to debate with me. I filter every piece of information through my own life experiences. It doesn’t matter if the information comes from an “authority” on the subject or someone I have never heard of before. I don’t blindly “follow” any *one*. I listen to the message and information and process it through my own observations and (shifting) values. Unless you can come up with *new* verifiable information or observations (and I don’t care where it comes from), you won’t change my opinions.

    Here’s another old video:

    Although the video itself is interesting, note the last panel. Although the message sounds like an admonishment, it defines a target for the community. From your perspective, it means “obey the law”, from their perspective it means “the law has to be changed”. As any instructor or teacher or marketing rep will tell you, the first requirement is to “know your audience”.

  69. wreaths for an evolving society
    ?? How irrelevant can you get?

    If I attempt to convert the above situation into something that could apply in the digital society; The woman would be caught taking a picture of the home made wreath and posting it on her web site, or even making her own exact copy, and then she would be dragged through the courts for copyright infringement.

    Please, stop trying to equate copyright infringement with physical theft. The message will be lost.

  70. strunk&white says:

    did you know

    Yes, yes physical theft and copyright infringement are not the same thing — the alpha and omega of copyleft excuses. My point is that, different as they are, both these things are wrong (here’s that “yes, but” construction I referred to way back at the top of this thread), but you make your excuses for only one of them. It takes an extra level of intellectual disingenuousness to ignore the fact that copyright infringement steals market value from a product — in much the same way stealing a wreath instead of buying a wreath steals market value (while also stealing something physical). You have attained that level of disingenuousness, grasshopper. You may now leave.

    I have no intention of changing your mind. Believe me, I’ve tried to pry the excuse-makers loose so often, I know just how much stick-um is attached to your rationalizations. My great consolation is that your influence in actual legislation-making is limited by real democratic practice, and there are enough non-rationalizing copylefters out there with real sympathy for cultural industries that the catch-up seems inevitable at this point.

    I do have kids, btw, and when they make the “value set” error of thinking “sharing” goes only one way and requires no permission, I explain where they went wrong. And I don’t need a math problem to make my point.

    Ethereal concept? I find your sense of personal responsibility rather ethereal, I have to say. What possible difference could a bunch of uncontextualized statistics make in a discussion of personal responsibility? We all know how many songs are illegally downloaded. That debacle is now an established part of human history, not just the history of the digital society. And in the long view, it is a shameful part of our history. I hope we learn from it.

  71. strunk&black says:

    Hi strunk&white!

    Again thanks so much for your inspiration. Life has been fantastic since I decided to think and feel as you.

    I love my high horse too. I was given a summons to appear regarding my infringement as I mentioned previously. I couldn’t help but notice the lacking words of encouragement from you after having been converted. None the less I assume it’s just tough love. So while I wait to be found guilty of my crime – I decided to follow further in your footsteps. I’m going to stop by the local church and patronize the nuns because I’m fairly certain they were playing a VHS copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Didn’t see an original label anywhere.

    After I’m done that I’m going to go stand in front of the mirror and adore myself. I’ll shake my head back and forth in disappointment trying to understand why the world has such a hard time understanding the greatness of me! Poor world, it’s so lost and disillusioned. Why anyone would not completely agree with you is beyond me. This can only mean that you’re surrounded by an evolved lower form of life.

    Oh the burden of being you.

  72. Market value
    Reduction in market value. Then look at the statistics. Try to find a clear correlation between an increase in P2P and the reduction in market value of copyrighted works distributed by P2P. Surprisingly, there isn’t one. If there is such an effect, it is so small it is lost in the “noise” of many other factors. In fact, with the advent of iTunes, the quantity of P2P has gone down – and you can see a direct correlation in the stats.
    In every graph shown by the industry, they simply point at the growth in P2P sharing, and never show a direct correlation to their gross income or net profits. The only times I see such, are from independent analysis, and it shows something quite different.
    So, theory doesn’t match the observations. Logically it should. What do you do now?

  73. strunk&black says:


    Don’t waste your breath. You admitted plainly he’s a narcissist. Read up on the mental disorder – which he doesn’t seem to understand is in fact a disorder. You’d be just as well off trying to reason with a chimpanzee, your efforts would be fruitless either way.

    End of the day, he writes his posts – reads them back and pats himself on the back certain he’s the smartest person in room.

    I have to say to be taking the original criticism so personally means he probably has a very vested interest in the article/message or its arguments.

  74. strunk&white says:

    See, Oldguy, there you go. I ask what uncontextualized stats have to do with personal responsibility, and you throw a bunch of uncontextualized stats at me. Thus my sense of personal emotional closure around the knowledge that I will never change your mind. Your mind would have to be capable of change. I’d say it’s pretty hard to open a door without a knob, but you have S&B on your side so clearly lack of knobs is not your issue.

    Actual logic, the kind you learn at university, does not allow an increase in music sales despite rampant illegal filesharing (or even as an unintended side-effect of illegal filesharing) to remove the wrongness of illegal filesharing. The two things are completely separate. Wrong is wrong.

    There have been many, many unintended beneficial side-effects for millions of people from the forceful disenfranchisement of aboriginal peoples from their traditional lands. The side benefits for you and me do not make the disenfranchisement in any way “good.”

    And, no, I am not comparing the state of creators in the digital age with native peoples ravaged by disease and wars of extermination. I think these two things exist on scales at such a remove from each other, they cannot be compared. I am merely using the disenfranchisement as a logical construct to make the next point about moral relativism you need to figure out a way to ignore.

    “That’s not an evolving society — that’s one side deciding that change has already happened and everyone hurt by it better just get over their sore feelings about their personal rights.

    How does that usually work out in evolving societies? ”

    The side who tells people to get over it wins.

    Look up history. Your “right” to own slaves is long gone. The “Droit De Seigneur” is long gone. Your “right” to beat your wife is long gone. So too will be the excesses currently pretentiously associated with copyright by the copyright fanatics.