Supreme Court ruling on P2P - Firearms implications?


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BryanP
June 27, 2005, 01:08 PM
The Supreme Court ruled against the P2P service/software "Grokster" today. Read about it here:

http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/27/technology/grokster/index.htm

Here's what caught my eye:

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright ... is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses," Justice David Souter wrote in the ruling.

Could this be re-interpreted to affect the gun manufacturers? With a little word substitution:

"One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to harm others ... is liable for the resulting acts of harm by third parties using the device, regardless of the device's lawful uses,"

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boofus
June 27, 2005, 01:17 PM
Those black robed dictators are out of control! If these people were around in the 70s cassette tapes would have been outlawed, VHS too. Hell take it to the next level and paper and pencils should be outlawed, because they can be used to plagiarize every known written or drawn work.

The awkward stage in this country can't last much longer at this rate.

2nd Amendment
June 27, 2005, 01:21 PM
Luddites. Socialists. Fools.

MudPuppy
June 27, 2005, 01:23 PM
Or alcohol? Fast (too fast) cars? Books?

dolanp
June 27, 2005, 01:29 PM
I thought this at first but I read into the decision more and the reason Grokster lost (unanimously, mind you) was that there was sufficient evidence that they were actively encouraging people to use their software specifically for copyright infringement. They jumped on the bandwagon and resumed services that were shut down after Napster lost.

After reading it more closely the only implication I think it could have on firearms is if someone put out a gun claiming it was more efficient at committing crimes. "All da cop-killin thugs want dis new gat, yo, it will help you get away from the po-po."

dpesec
June 27, 2005, 01:34 PM
That's how I read it. As of today we still can sell our property, oh wait, the government owns that, so what can we sell, ourselves. Wasn't there a little fracas about that 140 years ago?

CAS700850
June 27, 2005, 01:48 PM
If I remember right, and my Westlaw link is failing today, so I cannot check, I believe that previous rulings about tape recorders and such were that if you purchased an album, tape, movie, etc., and copied that for your own personal use, there was no copyright violation. However, if you made copies and then distributed those copies, you were then violating copyright laws. Back in the days of tapes, this was not a big concern, becuase at most, you made a copy for your car, a buddy or two, and that was it. With the Internet and digital technology, you can distribute thousands of copies of an album, depriving the artist of that income, and potentially violating their intellectual property rights.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with SCOTUS on this one. This software was a tool created solely for the violation of copyright laws, unlike a tape player that has other uses.

As for how this applies to guns, I don't see it at all. the issue here is the forseeability that the software would be used to commit the copyright violations. There was no doubt about that, given the nature of the software. With firearms, despite what the anti's say, there are plenty of non-criminal uses for firearms. Well, at least there are today. :rolleyes:

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 02:06 PM
I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with SCOTUS on this one. This software was a tool created solely for the violation of copyright laws, unlike a tape player that has other uses.
No, no, no. I'm sorry, but this is completely wrong.

Just like guns, the device isn't to blame for the crime! Controlling copyright infringement by banning the tools used to accomplish it is exactly the same mentality as controlling murder by banning the tools used to accomplish it. Once it's legitimate to criminalize the tool instead of the criminal, anything can happen. I mean, sure, your little .22 can be used for target shooting, but an MP5 is "a tool created solely for the ending of human life," so you shouldn't get to have one.

Not to mention that P2P services are used more often than you might think for perfectly legitimate, even positive, purposes. For example, the the story (http://www.corante.com/copyfight/archives/2005/06/24/friday_fun_stories.php) out of the Philippines where a damning recording of President Arroyo on the phone with an election official, asking for the voting to be rigged. That got converted to MP3, and is making the rounds as a ringtone and on P2P services. Political discourse is a legitimate use.

The point is, banning a technology because it can be - or even because it is generally - used for illegal purposes isn't good policy. After all, I'd be willing to bet cars are used to break speed limits at least as much, on a percentage basis, as Grokster is used to infringe copyright.

All that being said, creating a tool with the open intent of facilitating illegal behavior is always going to run you afoul of the law. As far as I'm concerned, even if a manufacturer marketed a gun with "All da cop-killin thugs want dis new gat, yo, it will help you get away from the po-po" (to quote dolanp), the gun should still be legal. But it would be a tough case to win.

Flyboy
June 27, 2005, 02:25 PM
This software was a tool created solely for the violation of copyright laws, unlike a tape player that has other uses.
Solely?

What about a garage band that submits its music to such a service to save on bandwidth charges?

How about BitTorrent? A lot of movies get traded there because the system is ideal for large files. So do a lot of Linux ISOs. Is it solely for infringement? I would posit that BitTorrent does, indeed, have a "sporting use."

Blame the criminal, not the tool.

Justin
June 27, 2005, 02:32 PM
With the Internet and digital technology, you can distribute thousands of copies of an album, depriving the artist of that income, and potentially violating their intellectual property rights. The fallacy here being that just because I downloaded an MP3 of Unskinny Bop somehow the band Poison has been deprived of a record sale.

:scrutiny:

After reading it more closely the only implication I think it could have on firearms is if someone put out a gun claiming it was more efficient at committing crimes. "All da cop-killin thugs want dis new gat, yo, it will help you get away from the po-po." Yes, but screeching antis have in the past made exactly this allegation, specifically in relation to inexpensive firearms like those made by Raven and Intratec. This might take some digging, but the antis attempted to highlight an ad for the Tec-9's finish where it was touted as being fingerprint resistant or somesuch nonesense.

mercedesrules
June 27, 2005, 02:57 PM
The fallacy is: "Intellectual Property (IP) laws are just."

The enforcement of so-called IP laws is a blatent subsidy for artists that create recordable or reproducible works. First, the artists should be responsible for protecting their own property. Granny's tax dollars shouldn't go to help Metallica retire and collect checks.

Secondly, as has been mentioned, restricting how one uses his own property (a recording device or computer) is unjust; he owns the thing, after all.

What is valuable property? For one, it is scarce. How scarce are jillions of bits of info floating around the net?

This ruling forbids a form of speech - namely listing the uses of a product.

Government laws concerning the protecting of IP (copyright, patent) should be repealed.

rick_reno
June 27, 2005, 03:23 PM
Apparently when we thought we were purchasing DVD's and CD's for our enjoyment - the court has decided we're renting them. If they were ours, we'd be allowed to share them.
This court is on a roll. I can't wait til they get a 2nd Amendment case.

zahc
June 27, 2005, 03:37 PM
I have used P2P programs to share films and movies I make (hobby of mine) with friends that live far away. It's the best way for me to transfer such large files cheaply.

dolanp
June 27, 2005, 03:38 PM
Well it's not just about sharing, it's about reproducing and distributing. I have issues with patents on software processes, because anyone who knows how these things work knows that patenting this stuff is completely ridiculous since all software has core functions in common in some way or another. However, there are important reasons these things do exist. Granted many large corporations abuse their copyrights, there are the little guys who write books, invent small things, and publish other sorts of information that benefit from the protection of copyrights. If I decided to write a book I wouldn't want somebody scanning it and putting it on a P2P network.

So I don't think the issue of copyrights themselves should be in question, but whether a medium can be liable for infringement if it actively encourages said infringement. I didn't realize Grokster did this until I read more into the decision. I believe BitTorrent will probably be safe because it has not ever made the claim that copyright infringement is something it promotes, in fact Linux ISOs were the original intent IIRC.

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 04:27 PM
Granted many large corporations abuse their copyrights, there are the little guys who write books, invent small things, and publish other sorts of information that benefit from the protection of copyrights. If I decided to write a book I wouldn't want somebody scanning it and putting it on a P2P network.
This is intuitively appealing, but generally false in practice. Given the established markets for creative works, copyright serves almost exclusively to the benefit of large corporations, and only rarely to the benefit of an individual inventor.

Consider: you write a song. Assume that you somehow know that it's a hit song, and has the potential to top the charts. What do you do with it? The only effective way to get the work into the public consciousness in a significant way is to go through the established recording industry, which, as a routine part of the process, will buy the copyright from you. Now they own it, you do not, and copyright no longer protects you. Your contract potentially does (though generally just means you end up owing them money), but that's not the same thing. If you want to keep control of your copyright, you have a couple options: be as successful as Ray Charles, who eventually managed to negotiate ownership of his own material (something the Beatles failed to do as a group, and McCartney has failed to do as an individual), or publish it yourself. If you go the latter route, P2P services and internet copying are your friend, assuming you have the production capacity to even come up with a final product.

Patents, since they're still limited in time frame (as opposed to copyrights, which are effectively unbounded - consider the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, which retroactively extended copyright protection), are less inherently offensive. Though you're right about patenting a software process: that's just as ridiculous as patenting any other mathematical function.

As far as your comment regarding scanning your novel and P2Ping it, actually, that's the best thing that could happen to you as an aspiring author. Consider the case of Corey Doctorow, who parleyed giving his book (Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom) away online into a paper publishing run. Or look at what Baen Books is doing with its free library (http://baen.com/library/) to promote its authors. They, as a publisher, are giving away many of their books at no charge.

dolanp
June 27, 2005, 04:32 PM
Well in the end the individual made the choice to sell his copyrights away in hopes for higher profit so the responsibility ultimately rests on his shoulder.

TheEgg
June 27, 2005, 05:25 PM
the Supreme Court concluded that companies that encourage the illegal use of their peer-to-peer software can be held accountable for any copyright infringement that occurs.

This is key here folks. Napster and Grokster were PRIMARILY in existence to steal intellectual property, despite other minor uses.

Now I will ignore the diatribes that will inevitably follow that seek to justify intellectual piracy.

Just becuase you want it and don't want to pay for it, does not mean you can rip it off. Morally bankrupt position. Intellectual property is just as real as your car.

Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while - the S.C. got this one right.

NIGHTWATCH
June 27, 2005, 05:29 PM
http://69.6.253.242/web_pages/paternoster/scj2.jpg

Walt Sherrill
June 27, 2005, 05:35 PM
The fallacy is: "Intellectual Property (IP) laws are just."

The enforcement of so-called IP laws is a blatent subsidy for artists that create recordable or reproducible works. First, the artists should be responsible for protecting their own property. Granny's tax dollars shouldn't go to help Metallica retire and collect checks.How about the patents associated with a new, low-emission auto engine. Or a new design for a computer? What if you can just copy the processing chip. Aren't those intellectual property rights, too?

Should a company just be allowed to COPY, bolt by bolt, a fine BMW and sell it for a lower price -- something they could do because they didn't have to do the R&D. How about a Jet engine or airliner?

How about the development of any product that is time-consuming and expensive? Should those development processes not be protected?

I wonder how much NEW stuff will get developed if there are no intellectual property rights protecting the effort and resources of those who build things.

Ian
June 27, 2005, 05:35 PM
TheEgg - Are you suggesting that the Feds would be justified in banning, say, Lorcin pistols if they found that more Lorcins are used in crimes than not?

Edit - Walt, as someone else has mentioned, there is a difference between patents and copyrights. A copyright on a song legally endures forever, whereas a patent has an enforceable life of only a few years. The patent is intended for just the sort of developments you mentioned. They allowthe inventor a period of sole ownership in which to rake in a huge pile of cash, but then open the concept up for duplication. Indeed, without that duplication progress slows down, as it is impossible for other people to improve the original design, and so long as the inventor is the only one allowed to market it, he has no motive to improve it.

A (permanent) copyright is supposed to be put on something like a company name or product name to prevent fraud or mistaken identity of the company or product. The copyrighted name in theory isn't something marketable, simply an identifier.

Allowing the copyright of marketable material has changed the dynamic of product monopolization, for better or worse.

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 05:38 PM
Intellectual property is just as real as your car.
Completely false. Intellectual property is inherently non-scarce, my car is inherently scarce. The framers recognized this fundamental distinction, which is why they specifically said Congress could secure copyrights for a limited time in order to further the useful arts and sciences. They made no such statements about limited times regarding real, scarce, property. You'll also note that the framers never called "intellectual property" by that name, as they recognized it as fundamentally not real property.

Just becuase you want it and don't want to pay for it, does not mean you can rip it off
Just because you want me to treat a non-scarce resource as though it were scarce because you can make money that way doesn't mean I should have to.

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 05:48 PM
Should a company just be allowed to COPY, bolt by bolt, a fine BMW and sell it for a lower price -- something they could do because they didn't have to do the R&D. How about a Jet engine or airliner?
This is why I draw a distinction between copyright and patent law. And you'll note that the very act of getting a patent is granting the right to other manufacturers to sell exact duplicates of your item once the patent expires in a couple decades. If you want to protect your invention, you have to protect it as a trade secret - which means you don't tell anyone about it, but if someone else figures it out by reverse-engineering, they can sell a product based on it tomorrow.

The patent system is designed specifically to encourage copies and derivations of inventions, with a relatively brief delay built into the beginning to incent invention.

How about the development of any product that is time-consuming and expensive? Should those development processes not be protected?

I wonder how much NEW stuff will get developed if there are no intellectual property rights protecting the effort and resources of those who build things.
You may or may not be alluding to copyright, here, and if you aren't, ignore my response.

Response number one is that copyright, certainly extended copyrights as we now have, is a relatively new (last century) innovation. Plenty of books and musical works were written before copyright became life of the author plus 75 years (for individual authorship) or publish date plus 90 years (for corporate authorship).

Response number two is that even if you're right, the real crime is the retroactive extension of copyright, as the Sonny Bono Act did. You will not convince me that passing a law in the mid-nineties will incent authorship in the 1920s. But that's what Congress did, extending copyright to further cover works which had already been produced (and therefore didn't need incentives to write) and were going to enter the public domain. This, of course, is an end-run around the "limited times" clause in the Constitution, making copyright effectively unlimited.

Response number three, connected to the above, is that the public domain is good for creative works. Consider the classic Disney movies (such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.): based on public domain fiction. They subsequently turn around and lobby hard to prevent any of their property entering the public domain, thereby preventing anyone else from doing exactly what they did.

Azrael256
June 27, 2005, 06:03 PM
TheEgg - Are you suggesting that the Feds would be justified in banning, say, Lorcin pistols if they found that more Lorcins are used in crimes than not? No, he's saying that Lorcin would be liable if they started printing "Kill your neighbors!" "Cap that disrespectin' fool on tha' corner," and "Exclusively designed for use in schoolyard massacres," all over the box.

TheEgg
June 27, 2005, 06:15 PM
No, he's saying that Lorcin would be liable if they started printing "Kill your neighbors!" "Cap that disrespectin' fool on tha' corner," and "Exclusively designed for use in schoolyard massacres," all over the box.

yup. exactly.

AND:

"rip and burn" is NOT a morally honest stance. It is just "I don't want to pay for it and technology lets me steal it SO easily, I can't resist the temptation."

spacemanspiff
June 27, 2005, 06:20 PM
the whole thing is a farce. sales may have declined because of p2p sharing, but they are still reporting profits. just not as much as they'd like.

they still make money. they are not starving on the streets.

but what do i care? i only use p2p for stuff you can't buy, like hi-res music videos.
oh yeah, and if i can ever find the 20 gigs worth of tool-concert audio i'll use p2p to re-download that.

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 06:29 PM
"rip and burn" is NOT a morally honest stance. It is just "I don't want to pay for it and technology lets me steal it SO easily, I can't resist the temptation."
Morals have nothing to do with it, which was my earlier point. Intellectual property protection is a legal construct, which Congress is empowered to legislate to achieve specific goals as written in the Constitution. It is not a moral issue at all. The decision to copy a CD and give it to your friends has nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with law. For most of human history, there has been no copyright protection of authors (composers, artists, etc.) whatsoever (in fact, copyright law was invented to protect bookstores, not the authors of the books).

The framers of the Constitution desired specifically to foster the creative arts and sciences, and therefore provided Congress the power to enact copyright law to that end. That's it. There's no natural right to intellectual property. This, of course, doesn't make copyright itself wrong, either. It just means that its rightness or wrongness needs to be judged based on whether it best achieves the goals it was put in the Constitution to achieve:

Article I, section 8:
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

Nowhere in the document is "intellectual property" referenced, nor is any sort of natural right to exclusive use of creative product recognized, because it doesn't exist. After all, if I make a copy of a novel, the author has not lost anything. He may have lost money I might have given him in the future, but that is a far cry from actual damages.

In any event, we can debate all day whether modern copyright law best achieves the goals it was intended to. But that's not really my point. My point is that it isn't a question of ethics or morality except insofar as it is ethical and moral to follow the law. Just because the content owners (who are notably not the content creators in the vast majority of cases) want you to believe that it's akin to actual thievery doesn't make it so.

Control Group
June 27, 2005, 06:33 PM
the whole thing is a farce. sales may have declined because of p2p sharing, but they are still reporting profits. just not as much as they'd like
Actually, sales in the music industry haven't declined. They've been posting record years every year since the mid-nineties. The rate of increase in their profits has declined since the advent of Napster.

gc70
June 27, 2005, 08:34 PM
Control Group - you might change your mind if you ever have an original idea that you need to protect so that you can profit from your effort.

BryanP
June 28, 2005, 09:33 AM
gc70,

While I started this thread with the intention of discussing whether people thought the logic used in this decision might be applied to firearms law, I can't let that pass.

I would have no problems with copyright law if it were used as originally set up. Fourteen years from the date of filing with a fourteen year extension if applied for. A total of 28 years. If someone can't make enough money off of their "intellectual property" in 28 years that's too bad. At that point it became public domain. If that were still the case I would be stepping all over people who download things without paying for them.

However, with various changes and extensions over the years we are now up to (last I heard) lifetime of the creator +20 years. This is patently ridiculous. With regular extensions like this coming every few years copyright has effectively become indefinite. As a result, many people have decided that if Congress and the corporations involved are going to abuse their "rights" we will just ignore them.

And now I think it's probably time for a moderator to lock this thread down as it has drifted far from the original topic.

beerslurpy
June 28, 2005, 09:46 AM
Its not a danger to gun owners. He opened a loophole in the betamax case so that millions of assault lawyers wouldnt lose their jobs at the recording industry. Dont read too much into this decision.

Control Group
June 28, 2005, 10:39 AM
Control Group - you might change your mind if you ever have an original idea that you need to protect so that you can profit from your effort.
Nope, sorry. First off, I already give all my creative efforts (short stories, photography, role playing settings) away via the web under a Creative Commons license. You may argue that I wouldn't have made any money on them anyway, and you might be right, so it's a bad example. Nonetheless, I am, in fact, walking the walk.

However, you might want to look at examples like Richard M. Stallman, author of many key components of Linux, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Eric S. Raymond, designer of Emacs, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Corey Doctorow, published novelist, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Eric Flint, published novelist, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Lawrence Lessig, lawyer and published author, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Pearl Jam, who let fans tape record their concerts.

These are just the ones I can come up with off the top of my head, people who have made real contributions of creative work in their fields (programming, fiction writing, legal writing, music), and who think the copyright system is utterly bankrupt. You may think that because I haven't "been there, done that," I don't get to have an opinion on the matter, but perhaps you'll recognize those who have, and their opinions on the matter.

I object, of course, to being told that I don't get to think about the matter because I'm not a published author, and such a claim is the inverse of the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy. Why, exactly, should an author/songwriter/artist get a government-enforced permanent monopoly on a creation? Nothing else works like that. If I buy a car, I can sell the car to whomever I want. I can take it apart and build another one just like it, if I'm of a mind. I can take it apart, build hundreds more just like it, and sell them, if I so choose. Why should producers of "intellectual property" be so much more protected than producers of real property?

Moreover, why should an author get to have a monopoly on his product after he's dead? Even if I bought into your "you can't have any valid opinions on this unless you're Shakespeare" argument, what good does my copyright do me after I'm dead?

we are now up to (last I heard) lifetime of the creator +20 years
Nope. Since the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, we're up to life of the author plus 75 years for private authorship, or a flat 90 years for corporate authorship. Nothing that has been published while you've been alive will enter the public domain before you die. And that's not even taking into account that Congress retroactively extends copyrights whenever Steamboat Willy is about to enter the public domain.

mercedesrules
June 28, 2005, 01:32 PM
If I decided to write a book I wouldn't want somebody scanning it and putting it on a P2P network.

What you want is not an argument.

Henry Bowman
June 28, 2005, 01:40 PM
However, you might want to look at examples like Richard M. Stallman, author of many key components of Linux, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Eric S. Raymond, designer of Emacs, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Corey Doctorow, published novelist, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Eric Flint, published novelist, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Lawrence Lessig, lawyer and published author, and see what he has to say about copyright. Or Pearl Jam, who let fans tape record their concerts. So what? You are always free to dedicate your creative work to the public domain.

Since the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, we're up to life of the author plus 75 years for private authorship, or a flat 90 years for corporate authorship. Nothing that has been published while you've been alive will enter the public domain before you die. And that's not even taking into account that Congress retroactively extends copyrights whenever Steamboat Willy is about to enter the public domain. On this point, however, I agree with you. The term of copyright protection has gotten out of control. (See BryanP's post, above.) However, the balance is (when compared to patent protection) that original creation is an absolute defense to copyright infringement. If you did not copy any protectable aspects of anothers work, there is no infringement.

And now I think it's probably time for a moderator to lock this thread down as it has drifted far from the original topic. I disagree with you here. Because, as you said:As a result, many people have decided that if Congress and the corporations involved are going to abuse their "rights" we will just ignore them. This keeps it gun rights related.

GunGoBoom
June 28, 2005, 01:47 PM
The point is, banning a technology because it can be - or even because it is generally - used for illegal purposes isn't good policy.

Exactly correct. But that's not what happened. The distinction is that the defendant (grokster) committed ACTS *encouraging* others to use the device to commit a crime. Absent this fact - those specific acts of encouragement, I believe there would have been a different result. It does seem at first glance to bode ominously for the gun lawsuit cases. But not really. The facts here, to make them analygous to a gun case case, would be where "Gun Distributor X" or "Gun Store Y" are caught red-handed telling their potential customers to buy their guns, because "these are perfect for you to go commit that murder you've been planning", rather than "this is a great gun for legitimate legal purposes, like self-defense, hunting, and target shooting". It's the ACT of encouranging an illegal use of the device that is the key I believe. So perhaps it's not as worrisome as it first appears...but I could be wrong, as I haven't read the whole opinion yet.

And furthermore, though not directly relevant, I'd sure hate to see us delve into a "dark age" of musical and artistic inspiration and choice, due to artists not being able to be rewarded financially for their creative investment, and thus having superbly talented individuals have to pursue fast food to make their living instead. Decades on end of nothing but NSync, Britney Spears, and the like would drive me to drinking.

Control Group
June 28, 2005, 02:23 PM
So what? You are always free to dedicate your creative work to the public domain.
I was merely indicating for gc70's benefit that there are plenty of people who are established sources of creative product who also agree with my point of view, since he was arguing that I wouldn't believe as I do if I was such an author. Aside from that, the fact that they agree isn't terribly relevant to the meat of my position.

If you did not copy any protectable aspects of anothers work, there is no infringement
This is absolutely true. However, original work isn't what I'm worried about being too curtailed. It's derivative work that is being clamped down on by excessive copyright law. Derivative work like Disney's Sleeping Beauty, for example. The ability to build on the efforts of people before you is the cornerstone of progress and innovation. Excessive copyright hinders that progress.

Again, I point to the Constitution: copyright's only goal is to further the useful arts and sciences. Once it no longer serves that purpose, it is no longer valid. It is not designed, necessarily, to ensure profits for BMG or Fox. It uses profits as an incentive for creation, but that's not the same thing. My argument is that the attempts to crack down on so-called "piracy" (a loaded term misapplied to copyright infringement by the Business Software Alliance in order to make it seem evil rather than just illegal) have had a net negative effect on the useful arts and sciences. DMCA-fueled lawsuits against IT professors researching security flaws in software don't help improve software, they simply protect companies from having to make their software better. Copyright-driven lawsuits against people refilling printer ink cartridges so Lexmark can continue underpricing printers and overpricing refills don't foster creativity, they only hinder competition in order to protect one company's specific business model. Making copyright infringement a criminal charge instead of a civil one doesn't aid creativity, it just means that the taxpayers take on the burden of proving the case, rather than the supposedly injured party. Forcing 2600.com to take down the code which allowed developers to design Linux-based DVD players (which were not offered by any existing industry players) doesn't help competition or innovation, it stifles it.

Copyright is not a moral code, it's a legal construct with a specific purpose. That legal construct is no longer serving that purpose, and therefore needs to be re-evaluated. If I had my druthers, we'd go back to the original 14 + 14 more on application copyright term. But the current content owners are exactly like gun-grabbers, in that they keep pushing for incremental increases in the restrictions on "intellectual property" in the name of compromise. In that sort of environment, the only effective approach is to be an opposing extremist.

As someone's sig on here says, if you're not a little uncomfortable with your position, it's not extreme enough (or something along those lines).

Control Group
June 28, 2005, 02:25 PM
Decades on end of nothing but NSync, Britney Spears, and the like would drive me to drinking
Exactly - and those are precisely the people our modern copyright system chooses to reward the most (as evidenced by the fact that they make the most money, as compared to your indie bands), which (free markets being what they are) means those are precisely the people we're going to see more and more of!

Henry Bowman
June 28, 2005, 02:37 PM
CG - If your beef with the current US copyright law is limited to the excessively long term, I agree with you. It would work better and better serve it's intended purpose if the term was shorter and more reasonable. However, alas, the SCOTUS has addressed this very issue, and disagrees with us.

On a gun related note, the patent and copyright clause of the Constutution is the only other one (in addition to the 2A) that has a preamble stating the purpose (to promote the useful arts and sciences for limited periods of time) . The SCOTUS ruled in that case that it was not binding an the clause that enabled Congress to establish the copyright system and laws. Would they view the "militia clause" of the 2A the same way? Our only clue is in US v. Miller, but the current SCOTUS doesn't get all hung up on following the principles stated 200 or even 70 years ago. :mad:

Control Group
June 28, 2005, 03:11 PM
The SCOTUS ruled in that case that it was not binding an the clause that enabled Congress to establish the copyright system and laws.
The ray of hope in all this is that the SCOTUS didn't quite free Congress entirely from the "limited terms" clause. It held that the most recent retroactive-and-future extension didn't violate the limited terms clause, because it was for a specific amount of time, rather than an unlimited one. They chose not to address the issue of effectively unlimited terms if Congress can simply retroactively extend copyright anytime it's about to expire on something.

They also chose to ignore the promotion of useful arts and sciences test (which the retroactive extension would, obviously, have failed).

This latter, however, is actually a good sign from the point of view of gun owners. "To promote the progress of science and useful arts" is a clear indication of the goals to be achieved by the latter portion of the clause. If that doesn't enter into the test for Constitutionality of a law, then the much less obvious "well-regulated militia" portion of the Second certainly can be ignored when testing the Constitutionality of infringements on RKBA.

Henry Bowman
June 28, 2005, 03:48 PM
Exactly. And, so, when all is said and done, everything is gun related. :D

Control Group
June 28, 2005, 04:42 PM
How true that is. I just got into guns a few months ago, and now every time I watch the news, see a movie, watch a TV show, etc., I keep having to restrain myself from turning to someone and saying, "see? That's why everyone should be allowed whatever guns they want!"

I think I'm driving my g.f. bonkers. ;)

gc70
June 29, 2005, 04:29 AM
CG, I respect your personal position on how you want to deal with the intellectual product that you produce. Some people believe that contributing intellectual property to the public domain can ultimately be more profitable than traditional copyright and sales methods; others believe the opposite. I see no problem with either approach.

The current term of copyright protection has gotten totally out of hand, but that is an issue to deal with in the legislative arena. Grossly extended copyright terms are offensive, but they do not invalidate the idea that a creative person should be able to protect and profit from the fruits of their labor.

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