Pick your noodle

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Pick your noodle

Postby Nicole Marie » Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:58 am

I know we have a lot of tech fans on the BBB. I found this article on Wired. I was shocked! It's like holding responsible gun makers. Let me know what you guys think:

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,64297,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Shapley » Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:20 pm

I guess we can sue Al Gore for inventing the internet in the first place.

Seriously, this is a very real threat to technological advancement, and shows the extent to which lawmakers are bending the logical extension of the copyright laws to protect the pocketbooks of corporate copyright holders. The bottom line is that it isn't worth the money going after the ones actually breaking the law, so they go after deeper pockets in the form of those who are making money selling technology which is, unfortunately, being misused.

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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Bob Jr. » Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:32 pm

Hold on to your rampaging fears. The "Inducing Infringements of Copyrights Act" (and it's a BILL right now, not an ACT) might seem like it will halt improvements in technology, but there's one word that convinces me it's just smoke & mirrors. "Intentionally". The bill would hold a company liable if it "intentionally induces" someone to infringe a copyright. In the legal world, proving intent is avoided like the plague -- because it can almost NEVER be done, unless someone admits their intent to someone else.

Consider the Supreme Court's many decisions saying a PERSON commits crimes, not his tools (the Wired article notes the "Betamax" decision). The tobacco industry ADMITS it misled smokers about dangers; but in every individual case against tobacco, the individual's choice to light up always minimizes any action taken. This 'Copyright Act' is a too-broadly-brushed attempt to stop music piracy. Trying to say it will stop technology growth is a too-broadly-brushed attempt to kill the bill. Realistically, if the bill passed AND does all it's critics predict, the government would have to convict AT&T whenever a kidnapper calls in for ransom. (And THAT just won't happen.)

Different critics say they don't understand "the rush" to get this enacted. Has everyone forgotten what happens next November? Do you think the Record Companies make campaign contributions?

This bill is political posturing. Even if it passes, it can't be enforced. Does anybody remember the 18th Amendment? In that case, the Supreme Court HAD to go along; this time, the Justices would throw it out faster than you can download an MPEG.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby piqaboo » Thu Jul 22, 2004 10:17 pm

Well, there go the photocopier and tape recorder businesses, not to mention moveable and computer set type........

I'm inclined to go with Bob Jr on this one.
It may pass (boo hisss) but it will sink under its own weight.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Shapley » Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:22 am

Lyndon Johnson, with whom I disagreed with on many issues, said something to the effect that: Any measure must be weighed, not on the potential good it can do if properly applied, but on the damage it can do if improperly used.

I think the idea of passing flawed laws just so you've "done something" is one of the greatest problems with our government. Wasn't that Governor Wilson's logic in signing the flawed utilities deregulation bill that is blamed for California's power problems? He admitted the bill was flawed, but said he would sign it and hope that someone else would fix it later.

Is it fixed yet?


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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:35 am

Oh yes, as far as the power companies are concerned, it's fixed quite well.

:eek:
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby barfle » Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:00 am

As someone who works in the Intellectual Property field, the idea of protecting such information is near and dear to my heart.

That being said, there's a point at where it simply becomes stupid. I know of many, many devices that copy data from one piece of media to another. Heck, it's really all my job is about. The idea of "fair use" is a legal concept that allows a user to make a copy of a protected work for his own use. There are people who don't want that to happen at all, so there are copy protection schemes galore, some of which are pretty effective.

Of course, the only way to perfectly protect IP is to never reveal it to anyone, which renders it useless. You might as well try to prevent me from remembering a movie or a song.

Really, the whole idea of IP is to prevent other people from making money off your idea, whether that idea be a song, a computer program, a photograph, or an invention. If someone figures a way to make and sell a million copies of I, Robot, that would clearly be illegal. Even charging admission to your friends to see a DVD or a pay-per-view movie is considered infringement (although I personally see no problem in sharing the expense of such an event - but I'm no lawyer).

But this proposal reeks of stupidity. While I wouldn't put anything past legislators, this idea sure looks unworkable if the article is remotely close to describing the actual bill.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Jul 23, 2004 10:07 pm

Originally posted by OperaTenor:
Oh yes, as far as the power companies are concerned, it's fixed quite well.
While my sister from Denver was visiting last week, my SDG&E bill came in, I paid it while grumbling, and my sister looked at it. She was rather shocked - the power bill for my 2-bedroom condo would pay her 2-bedroom house's power usage for the entire Denver winter.

She also resented the 80 cent gas price hike at the Nevada-California border.

Yup. It's fixed.

<small>[ 07-23-2004, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: Selma in San Diego ]</small>
>^..^<
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby dai bread » Sun Jul 25, 2004 4:45 pm

An intriguing link Nicole. Not least in that I think I have just seen my first targeted ad. As far as I can find out, "Wired" comes out of San Francisco, yet there was an ad for NZ's Consumer Institute & its magazine.

But I'm inclined to agree with Bob, that the bill is unenforceable because of the need to prove intent.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby rwcrooks » Mon Jul 26, 2004 2:20 pm

Barfle,

Didn't the DMCA go a looong way towards eliminating the concept of fair use?
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby barfle » Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:20 pm

Originally posted by RichC:
Barfle,

Didn't the DMCA go a looong way towards eliminating the concept of fair use?
As I understand it, no. What it really seems to have done is define "fair use" as allowing a personal copy to be made, but prohibiting the simultaneous use of both copies.

I'm no lawyer. You asked, and the best I can come up with is my understanding.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby rwcrooks » Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:34 am

Barfle,

The problem with fair use and the DMCA is that the DMCA prohibits attempts to sidestep any copy protection schemes. So, if I have some audio CDs that have copy protection on them that will not allow a good copy to be made (my son has some of these) there is no way to make a fair use copy to be made.

The DMCA assumes that I am intending to copy these CDs and then distribute the copies instead of making a backup copy for a 12-year old who is a little rough on the CDs.

When I contacted the CD publisher and asked about making a backup copy they replied that I'm not allowed to do so. I brought up the concept of fair use and they replied that by putting copy protection on their discs fair use no longer applied to the discs.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Bob Jr. » Wed Jul 28, 2004 12:39 pm

Originally posted by RichC:
When I contacted the CD publisher and asked about making a backup copy they replied that I'm not allowed to do so. I brought up the concept of fair use and they replied that by putting copy protection on their discs fair use no longer applied to the discs.
So, the CD publisher writes all of the silly laws we get to deal with these days? THEIR version of the law is about as useful as their ability to enforce the law. Now, while I admit they're in an industry with the money to buy off a few legislators, something tells me that Congress and the Supreme Court aren't riding on the publisher's coattails.

As for your issue with the software publisher, ANYONE who buys ANY software is entitled to make as many copies as they want FOR BACK-UP. You bought the software (and the ideas that make it useful), not just the CD. Let someone else put it on his computer, and then you've broken the law. That's the interpretation of the law, currently (although not verbatim), in the US. Which explains both the publisher's story to you, AND the bill presented by Sen. Hatch.

I spent way too many years in grad school, the Hell of Intellectual Property. The entire body of grad students were brought together once every semester, and one of the topics covered was always IP. No professor was interested in having anyone steal someone else's work (quite possibly from one of the professors!); the school actually issued a BOOK to all grad students, explaining how many words of a quote you had to use in order to just enclose it in parentheses, how much to use to start an off-set section, and so on. And ALWAYS, how to give proper credit to the source. This was in the 1990's, so computers weren't just a dream.

It's never worth it to take these guys to court for one CD, but in order to lose you'd have to have Jethro Bodine as your lawyer. For the publisher to decide "fair use" FOR YOU, is akin to Saudi Arabia selling crude oil to Shell, then insisting the gasoline only goes into Cadillacs.

The issue isn't really new, but past laws and decisions won't make more money for software publishers or Sony; so they decide to create a new issue that they can guide into their own corners. In the long run, it's the IDEAS being bought and sold, not the CDs or even the 0's and 1's that make up the program. And, from the long run, how well did the Soviets control ideas?
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Nicole Marie » Wed Jul 28, 2004 1:08 pm

Since we are on the fair use/copying issue... The CARP rules for onlne streaming state we have to pay for the possibility that a listener may copy a song we broadcast. (Stations were fighting this rule, not sure if it was shot down yet.) We are just as ticked off... we may have to pay for something that may never happen! And if someone does copy a tune, why do WE have to pay for THAT persons action!? sigh. what crap.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby rwcrooks » Wed Jul 28, 2004 2:32 pm

Bob,

It wasn't a software CD, but a music/spoken word CD. When I tried to copy it Roxio would error out, and when you try to play it in a PC CD drive it "skips" (to use an LP analogy) on certain tracks.

The publisher told me that that is what their copy protection is meant to do. Basically, not allow me to copy it and not allow me to play it on my PC.

Interesting way to keep customers. That was a year ago and I haven't bought another CD from them.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Bob Jr. » Wed Jul 28, 2004 6:10 pm

Rich,

It's really ALL sosftware; the ones we listen to just have a 'program' that tells the CD player to make sounds.

Sorry, I guess I DID get a little too far into the 'software' side of this. The machine turning it into something useful, the medium (in this case, a CD), and the actual data on the disk, are all the same. It's how the machine spits it out that differs.

Your right to make copies stays the same regardless of the output, though. It's how you use the music/ program/ etc., that makes the only difference (the 'Office Suite' I got with my home computer is the same my employer got for the office, but for THEM it cost an arm and a leg MORE, in order to put it to business use).

In my opinion (take a deep breath), the current legislation is only an attempt to economically shut down the "scrubber" programs, which remove that copy protection, by making the cost of business too high for the companies creating the scrubbers. Orrin and his good buddies are hoping none of us knows you can download the programs off the internet (from extra-U.S. web sites if necessary).

Oh, yeah, the government of, say, Belgium really wants American police roaming around! I think I see a potential problem for enforcing these laws!

Have you tried playing the CD on your computer (if you're equipped with speakers, which I'll assume, considering the Beethoven.com connection...)? I'm told - though I'm only a computer user, and haven't written a program since Fortran days - that copying a 'sound' CD works better after it's played once or twice on a particular machine; I can't guarantee that, and it doesn't make any sense to me.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby barfle » Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:00 am

Well, RichC, I guess you know the law better than I do. I have no issue with developers who expect to be paid when someone uses their work. Attempting to defeat a copy-protection scheme is akin to attempting to pick a lock. I believe you shoud pay for what you have, but since almost every idea I have ever come up with was either a combination or an adaptation of a previously existing idea, giving credit for every idea I ever used is highly impractical.

Which means there's a spectrum of IP usage, and a line gets drawn between what is reasonable and what is not. The location of that line is undoubtedly the opinion of a committee, and is unlikely to agree with yours or mine.

And I'll have to agree with Bob Jr. It is all software, even the stuff that's recorded on vinyl or acetate. OK, maybe "firmware" would be better, but it's all programming, whether it's bits or wiggles in grooves or flux reversals or Internet Protocol (yet another "IP") packets.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby Bob Jr. » Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:57 am

Originally posted by barfle:
I have no issue with developers who expect to be paid when someone uses their work. Attempting to defeat a copy-protection scheme is akin to attempting to pick a lock.
Mr. Barfle;
(Boy, that sounds like a nickname I had in college...)

Actually, you're 100% right. Where the issue gets complicated is (once again) at the USE stage. The musicians, programmers, actors, etc., selling WHATEVER THE DATA ON THE CD TELLS THE MACHINE TO DO, are paid when the CD is bought in the first place. Listening to my "Otis Redding Collection" isn't limited to ONE USE (wouldn't that be called a "concert"?), unless the seller explicitly says so BEFORE selling me the CDs, and also makes some effort to retrieve the CDs (do video rentals come to mind?). What I bought and PAID FOR was the enjoyment of listening to that mellow Georgia boy, whenever I wanted to, not just whenever it was convenient for his heirs. BTW, they're all profittng nicely, years later, without recording a single note on that album.

Putting sarcasm aside, those selling the information (music, for example) definitely deserve to get paid for their efforts. They have a definite right to control the spread of recordings with their sounds. But once I pay for my chunk of sound, they give up the right to keep me from using it. If I turn around and distribute copies of their recording, I'm infringing their legal rights -- and proposed laws don't even bother to address that. When they tell me I can only listen to Otis on Saturday mornings, they're infringing MY rights (and possibly encouraging me to crank it up on Sunday nights).

Doing anything to override copy protection would be wrong, and is already illegal, IF THE USE OF THE COPY KEEPS THE SOURCE FROM THEIR RIGHTFUL PROCEEDS. (New laws would remove the 'USE OF THE' phrase; read the edited version and think about it.) By the same token, trying to limit my enjoyment is wrong IF I'VE ALREADY BOUGHT THE CD. Just 'picking a lock' isn't illegal; breaking into someone else's property is. The Question should be , "Where's the property line?" The Bill offered would answer ALL questions in favor of the SELLER. I understand about 'letting the buyer beware'; but other laws also say (in effect) that you can't sell me a car, then refuse to give me the keys until I pay MORE money. And even if you kept the keys, it's legal for me to hotwire my own car.

You don't think a bunch of lawyers started this, just to guarantee themselves a long-term income? Do you?
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby barfle » Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:04 pm

I work with enough lawyers to know that there are good ones and bad ones, and that the bad ones are not above such shenanigans. Whether or not I'm ready to accuse any particular group of conspiring to defraud the public by creating a litigous environment would have to wait until I had a chance to check the facts.

It's pretty easy for me to tell someone else that if you don't like the way someone does business (by putting restrictions on whether or not a CD will play in a PC, for example), then don't do business with them. I buy CDs all the time, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of file-swapping of Holst's Mars, The Bringer of War, although I do have a ripped copy on my hard drive at work (for when the stream from Beethoven takes a dive).

Perhaps if I were positively passionate about the latest top 40 hip-hop ditty, and the only way I could buy it was on a copy-restricted CD, I might feel different.

As far as who has what rights are concerned, that seems to be dependent on the agreement between the parties involved. If I, for example, wanted to be sure my software wouldn't be an excuse for you not going to church on Sunday morning, and I could figure out a way to do that, and made that restriction clear to you, the purchaser, then you have nothing to complain about when you try to use it on Sunday morning and it doesn't work.

The whole idea there is that you have made an informed decision to purchase something with restrictions on it. You know when you purchase a car that it won't do 200MPH, but you accept that limitation. You know it won't pull three 30 foot vans, but you accept that limitation. You know that it requires gasoline (or whatever fuel it is designed for), but you accept that limitation.

Now, if I bought a CD that wouldn't play on your PC, and didn't know that, I would post that fact on every bulletin board I could find that had the slightest reference to music, PCs, CDs, IP, etc., that I could find, as well as writing to the record company, making my feelings known in no uncertain terms, and letting them know that I was making their dishonesty as public as I could. Hell hath no wrath like a pissed-off barfle. And a refund wouldn't cut it - full disclosure on their part would be the only way I would ever consider purchasing another one of their products.

I'll admit that I am quite confused about the "residuals" some actors get, years after they make a commercial, every time that commercial gets played. As an engineer, I got paid for the work I did, but I didn't get a piece of every sale of a product I designed. Sometimes I got "profit sharing" but that's a completely different animal.

And I'm pretty sure picking someone else's lock without their permission could get you busted, even if you didn't go through the open door.
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Re: Pick your noodle

Postby barfle » Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:21 pm

Just an FYI, on the Beethoven home page, there's a link to a story about how absurd some copyright litigation is getting.

I recall a case where the late George Harrison was sued by the publishers of the Crystals' hit He's So Fine because of similarities in My Sweet Lord. Peter Schickele even made it the subject of one of his radio programs.

And now I have more music to request.
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