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Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 18:03 UTC (Tue) by wagerrard (guest, #87558)
Parent article: Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

I begin with the premise that when I make something -- software, music, a book, a table, an apple pie, anything -- I own that thing and all the rights entangled with it. No one has some kind of mystical right to use, borrow, copy, sell or eat what I make unless I say so. In effect, rights to the things I make come from me, not the universe.

Copyright, licensing, and all such schemes are, from my point of view, legal scaffolding erected, in principle, to protect my rights to the things I make, and to protect the exercise by others of the rights I transfer to them in one fashion or another.

These schemes, like all laws, are subject to distortion and abuse at the hands of power and money. That does not nullify my beginning premise, or the reason for the legal scaffolding in the first place. One does not attack gluttony by going after food.

Whether or not copyright, licensing, or any other scheme that is part of a so-called permission culture exist would have no real bearing on human behavior. People who create things would still want to protect what they see as their interests. The rich and powerful would still seek to distort the legislative process in their own interests. And, both groups would seek political allies to challenge the other. An absence of rules governing behavior does not mean the behavior goes away.


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Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 18:14 UTC (Tue) by mtk (subscriber, #804) [Link]

do you live in isolation? is your culture, your upbringing, your society, something that is *not* a part of you? the notion that anyone creates something in isolation seems simplistic and wrong (although it is great for lawyers and the permission culture :-).

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 18:29 UTC (Tue) by ewan (subscriber, #5533) [Link]

"I begin with the premise that when I make something -- software, music, a book, a table, an apple pie, anything -- I own that thing and all the rights entangled with it. No one has some kind of mystical right to use, borrow, copy, sell or eat what I make unless I say so."

And some of us start from the premise that if I wish to put the effort in to make a copy of something for my own use, or to give away, then that's my business, and the original creator has no kind of mystical right to tell me what I can and can't spend my time doing.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 18:42 UTC (Tue) by aaron (subscriber, #282) [Link]

Wow, copyright is a Natural Right now?

Invent a catchy tune and sing it around others, and they will sing it too. You have a natural right to stop them, or demand compensation?

Only a few centuries of stable contract law and "property rights" and people start taking it for granted...

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:32 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

> Wow, copyright is a Natural Right now?

Ownership of property is a Natural Right. Property includes intangible entities such as software. Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creator of intangible entities such as software. So copyright is a reasonable extension of the Natural Right of ownership of property.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:41 UTC (Wed) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

“Ownership of property is a Natural Right”

Is it now?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:53 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 21:22 UTC (Wed) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

Do elaborate. You do realise that not everyone subscribes to the idea of natural law, and that Locke's is not the only one interpretation, right?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 21:39 UTC (Wed) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

It doesn't really matter whether anyone "subscribes" to the idea of natural law or not. That's kind of the point of calling it a natural law, in fact. If you can justify harming someone else, someone who didn't harm you first, then they can equally well justify harming you in the same way and to the same extent. If you can't justify the harm you've done, but still argue that you shouldn't be punished for it, then your victim can harm you in turn and make the same argument against reprisals. Put simply, what you choose to do to others, they can justify doing to you.

This is also why copyright and the like have nothing to do with any natural law: the punishment sought for copyright infringement is not proportional to the supposed offense. Copyright is fundamentally different from natural-law property rights founded on the requirements of scarcity. Fines and imprisonment are grossly disproportionate responses. The most one could claim under natural law is that there is no obligation to recognize the copyright claims of a copyright infringer, which few copyright infringers would object to.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:18 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

> Put simply, what you choose to do to others, they can justify doing to you.

You're assuming that humans have a shared sense of right and wrong.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 0:31 UTC (Thu) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

>> Put simply, what you choose to do to others, they can justify doing to you.
> You're assuming that humans have a shared sense of right and wrong.

Actually, no, subjective ideas about "right" and "wrong" don't factor into it. Again, that's part of why it's a natural law. Basically, the one /being/ punished gets to choose the rules, but must apply them universally: they can't judge their own aggression by one set of rules, and the response by another.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 3:59 UTC (Thu) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

Whether Natural Law defines right and wrong depends on who's conception you subscribe to. Locke's conception is based on Protestant theology, which is reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence -- "...and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them,..."

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 5:09 UTC (Thu) by jthill (subscriber, #56558) [Link]

I think of natural laws as those which either cannot be violated at all or come with built-in intolerable consequences for doing so. Many hugely successful cultures have been built without copyright.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:15 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

You do realise that not everyone subscribes to the idea of natural law, and that Locke's is not the only one interpretation, right?

There isn't anything that everyone subscribes to, except maybe trivial observations such as "the sky is blue." (And it's not, of course, but that discussion would probably be a pointless digression.)

Any philosophical argument is based on assumption. This is one of the reasons I miss Hitch — he did a superb job (well, some of the time, anyway) of arguing positions that I thought were based on assumptions that were utter rubbish.

So the question that anyone with more objectivity than hubris should ask themselves is, "what if my assumptions are wrong?"

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:35 UTC (Wed) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

> Ownership of property is a Natural Right. Property includes intangible entities such as software.

Ownership of a good consists of the right to consume it, to use it up. As such, ownership only comes into play when someone else consumes your property. The exclusivity of this right is merely a side-effect of scarcity: two people cannot both consume the same scarce good. Intangibles are not scarce and cannot be consumed, ergo ownership does not apply.

The rights to restitution and retribution which permit the enforcement of natural property rights are justified only on the basis that they are a response in kind to damage caused to your own property. This is why property is called a natural right: one cannot usurp anothers' property rights without providing the justification for a response in kind. There is no justification for seeking restitution or retribution simply because someone /benefited/ from your work while causing no harm to you.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 13:24 UTC (Thu) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

> because someone /benefited/ from your work while causing no harm to you.

Harm to you is present when someone force you to pay to use the software you have written yourself (because of some technical reasons you cannot recompile your own source), and when a big company "embrace and extend" your own software in closed source and you have to work to stay compatible, even when the additions are not useful.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 15:44 UTC (Thu) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

You have an amazingly broad interpretation of "harm". It seems to consist of making up things which others own you, for no rational reason I can see, and then reading any failure to provide you with what you want for free as "harm".

Others are under no obligation to give you back a copy of software you've written, in source or binary form, just because you were so careless as to misplace it or the means of compiling it. Others are under no obligation to make it easy for you to duplicate /their/ work in developing extensions to your software.

While there are many ways to define "harm", the justifiable responses to "harm" are restricted to those proportional to the offense. Even if one granted that "embrace-and-extend" harms the original author of the software, injunctions, fines, and the like are well outside the limits of proportional response.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 18:08 UTC (Thu) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> Ownership of property is a Natural Right.

Yes. This is correct.

This is based on physical reality. You have to be in control of a item in order to use a item. You can't get away of this. You can claim that something is 'publicly owned' or that it's communal property or something like that, but in the end somebody has to be in control of it at some point to use it. If you don't believe me try having two people simultaneously use a single spoon to eat food.

Property rights is the term that is given to describe how we delegate control (aka 'ownership') in order to avoid and resolve conflicts.

> Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creator of intangible entities such as software.

No it's not. Copyright does not grant _any_ rights. You would still have the same rights to use your creation with or without copyrights.

To understand what is going on:

'Copyright' stems from government censorship. When the printing press came out it threatened the stability and security of government by making it dramatically cheaper to distribute ideas and knowledge. Control of the spread of ideas is a important thing to have when you are a ruler of a population. So they made it illegal for people to own and operate a printing press unless they had a special license that came with a number of restrictions (such as having all published works inspected by a government censor). This license was called 'Copyright'. A author had to sell their works to a licensed publisher to legally get their writings duplicated and disseminated.

The publishing houses that became very wealthy and powerful under this regime used their wealth and power to influence the governments of the day to re-establish and maintain copyright rules in order to limit copying in order for them to limit competition from smaller publishers.

This system has evolved into the modern copyright system of today.

The modern copyright system cannot grant 'rights' over intangible property. It simply does not have the power or authority to do that. To do this would require changing the basic functionality of the universe to control the flow of information.

Instead Copyright functions by violating the property rights of entire populations. It controls, under threat of fines, imprisonment, and other forms of violence, the ability for individuals to use their own physical property to record and disseminate information. Ostensibly this is done to create economic incentive for people to write and publish various things, but it increasingly going back to it's old roll of censorship... using copyright to control the flow of information for political reasons.

> . So copyright is a reasonable extension of the Natural Right of ownership of property.

No. In fact it's a gross violation of natural right of ownership of property.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Feb 6, 2013 22:04 UTC (Wed) by gerv (subscriber, #3376) [Link]

"Property includes intangible entities such as software."

To quote another commenter: does it now? This statement needs significant supporting argument.

Gerv

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 19:21 UTC (Tue) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

Unless you have carefully documented how much of your training and education and informal contacts also went into that thing you made, and carefully ceded the correct portion of your copy control to those contributors, then you are whistling up the wrong tree and barking past the cemetary.

Yes, you built it, and you should be proud of it, but to claim that no one gets to use any of what you built when they build their own improvements is to pretend that you built it entirely de novo; a virgin idea, to borrow a phrase.

I think not, to borrow yet another.

I wonder how many borrowed phrases you have in your own post. Did you invent all those words yourself, the grammar, the fonts, website, and internet which you used to post and we used to read?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 3:11 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

> Unless you have carefully documented how much of your training and education and informal contacts also went into that thing you made, and carefully ceded the correct portion of your copy control to those contributors, then you are whistling up the wrong tree and barking past the cemetary.

Hmm... you know, I did indeed pay for my education through tuition and taxes. Also, if someone gives something to me out of altruism, I have no problem with that. I use and contribute to free software because the conditions and compensation is reasonable, on either side of the fence. Not all my coding is free software, however.

> Yes, you built it, and you should be proud of it, but to claim that no one gets to use any of what you built when they build their own improvements is to pretend that you built it entirely de novo; a virgin idea, to borrow a phrase.

If there was a way to make sure I got recompensed for my part in it, I wouldn't mind. Indeed, the best way I know if for things to get assigned value is through the free market.

> I wonder how many borrowed phrases you have in your own post. Did you invent all those words yourself, the grammar, the fonts, website, and internet which you used to post and we used to read?

Likely he didn't. All those were made by the altruism or profit-seeking of other people. How is this an argument against the current system? LWN could not exist if the editors did not get money to buy food with.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 3:23 UTC (Wed) by apoelstra (subscriber, #75205) [Link]

> LWN could not exist if the editors did not get money to buy food with.

We pay the editors because they are willing to write and operate this wonderful site in exchange for the money -- completely unrelated to the legality of redistributing their work.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 3:46 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

Leaving aside questions of morality, if it was legal to repost articles under your own name or to collect articles from around the internet into a book and sell it, perhaps the sites like LWN could stay afloat. I doubt it, however.

Please note, I agree the system is not perfect, but wholesale abolishment will cause far more problems than they solve. I, for one, support the rights of the Linux copyright holders to require compliance with the GPL.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:12 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Leaving aside questions of morality, if it was legal to repost articles under your own name or to collect articles from around the internet into a book and sell it, perhaps the sites like LWN could stay afloat.

Sorry, but this is bullshit. You are mixing two totally unrelated issues: copyright and plagiarism. Plagiarism was considered a big problem for thousands of years and has nothing to do with modern copyright.

The fact that LWN does not try to enforce it's copyright all that strictly (all articles more then one week old are free and are widely circulated on the net) shows that you don't need to enforce copyright all that strictly beyond the unalianable rights (the "right for the name", mostly).

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 5:45 UTC (Thu) by blujay (guest, #39961) [Link]

It's my understanding that plagiarism was NOT considered a problem until recent times. Ancient authors freely used works by other authors long dead, wrote anonymously, and even wrote pseudonymously, using the names of ancient authors. Ideas and words used to be free, as in speech. Only recently did the idea of owning imaginary property come about.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 12:18 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Well, if first century is "recent times" to you, then yes. Till about then it was not a big problem since human settlements were small and people know each other well enough that it was impossible to pretend you are great philosopher using only works of others. As settlement grew problem become more and more acute but it become serious problem only after invention of printing press since that's when reader finally lost any hope of ever seeing the author end and when price of books went down so drastically that you needed to sell thousands of them to make a decent living.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 10:05 UTC (Wed) by ewan (subscriber, #5533) [Link]

"Indeed, the best way I know if for things to get assigned value is through the free market."

I'm sorry - are you arguing for a free market, or are you arguing for massive government intervention to prohibit some forms of activity in favour of creating an entirely artificial scarcity as state support for other kinds of activity?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 15:32 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

You cannot have a successful free market if there is no incentive not to steal. Most everyone agrees that physical labor to produce a product should be protected. Why should intellectual labor not be protected as well?

You also seem to imply that government regulation is a bad thing, a priori. Government simply enforces societal norms as codified through law. I, for one, support the belief that creators should be rewarded for creating.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 5:53 UTC (Thu) by blujay (guest, #39961) [Link]

Where did you get the idea that the link between society and government is such a one-way street? And who decides what is a norm? The list of governments which have recreated their societies as their leaders pleased is nearly endless, not to mention the real governments which exist today all over the world which oppress their citizens every day according to the whims of those in power. Your utopia doesn't exist in the real world. There is no such altruistic, norm-codifying government on the face of the planet.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 19:34 UTC (Tue) by Company (guest, #57006) [Link]

Now, if you give it to me - in the form of a presentation an mp3 or jpeg file or just by telling me about it - I have created my own remix of your thing.

Is that now mine or still yours? If that remix is now mine, I'm completeely fine with your argument. If it's not mine, how do you think you can create something on yur own with all the other people's ideas in your head that you don't own?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 19:54 UTC (Tue) by bangert (subscriber, #28342) [Link]

You must remember that copyright is a right on your works given to you by society. Society can always decide to revoke that right...

The reason it was decided to give it to you in the first place was to further the creation of works. When the mechanism of copyright is no longer serving that goal - ie. it is not a functional mechanism to increase the number or quality of works available to society, it is just for society to rethink this mechanism.

Whether copyright in its current form is still a net win for society I don't know. Given how much society has changed in just the past 30 years, it would be natural to assume that a copyright reform was in order.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 21:33 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Whether copyright in its current form is still a net win for society I don't know.

At least some copyright laws were quite obviously net negative: they extended copyright terms retroactively. You can probably find couple of crazy guys who started creating new books and movies when they suddenly realized that their schoolyear articles will not be in public domain for 70 years after their death, but for any such crazy "creator" there thousands (if not millions) authors who don't care about works they already created and at least few who reduced output because they no longer had any need to create anything new.

When you know for a fact that part of law which was supposed to produce progress stalls it instead the rest of the law becomes quite suspicious, too.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:49 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

> You must remember that copyright is a right on your works given to you by society. Society can always decide to revoke that right...

Don't stop there. If copyright is revoked, many creators stop creating, and society is made poorer. Copyright directly enriches creators, and indirectly enriches society.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:21 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Don't count on it. History shows that even if government explicitly tries to stop creation of certain types of works they are still being created and distribute.

Now, I'm not saying that government should not help, but I'm not entirely convinced that "society is made poorer" in exchange: more then half of intellectual creations are not accessible to public right now (works which unexpired copyrights but where copyright owner is unclear. This means that if abandonment of copyright will reduce number of new works created by half it'll still be a net win long-term (and of course it'll be huge boon short-term).

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:53 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

The single historical instance you cite shows that some creators will continue creating under adverse circumstances, but others will pack it in at the next adverse event. Even if 90% continue, the 10% who don't will have a negative effect on society.

Where copyright comes from

Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:22 UTC (Wed) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

The single historical instance you cite shows that some creators will continue creating under adverse circumstances[....]
In addition to that historical instance, consider those instances occurring from the invention of speech until 1662, when the English Parliament passed the Licensing Act, which put control of copying in the hands of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (basically a printers' guild). In 1710 the government horned in on the deal with the Statute of Anne, generally recognized as the first copyright law.

Every work of art¹ created before 1662 was created without the monopoly of copyright. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Geoffrey Chaucer, the Venerable Bede, Julius Caesar, Strabo, Homer, Ogg the caveman—none of them restrained their creativity due to the lack of copyright.

The question is, would the “negative effect on society” of losing “the 10% who don't” [continue to create] outweigh the positive effect on society of freeing use of the arts to other creators, and freeing the citizenry from the fear of draconian punishment for innocent infringement?

Don't mistake me—copyright has its place, and I support it as originally conceived, but recent excesses lead me to question whether no copyright is better than the régime we have now.


¹ Western art, anyway. I remain in ignorance of Chinese and other practices.

Where copyright comes from

Posted Jan 31, 2013 21:36 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Don't mistake me—copyright has its place, and I support it as originally conceived, but recent excesses lead me to question whether no copyright is better than the régime we have now.

That's not even a contest. Copyright as it exist today excludes privacy rights totally. Every mail, every phone call, every interaction between two persons which involves technical means (including things like video baby monitors) must be processed by state-controlled "copyright checker". Only then can you enforce copyright as it exist today: any such venue left unchecked will make it possible to create "copyright-volator's network" and thus obviously needs to be prosecuted.

Any and all benefits from such copyright are dwarfed by the downside. How long do you think government will keep this perfect "remote silencer" used only to enforce copyright when it can be used perfectly well to silence dissident more efficiently then Great Firewall of China?

Sorry, but it's not even a contest: copyright as it exist today (when non-commercial private exchange is forbidden) does more hard then good. If any copyright is better then no copyright - that's the question. The answer is probably "yes", but we should probably cut it out from out homes, at least. Leave it where it belongs: control commercial transactions (which must be controlled anyway for tax purposes) and leave private lives alone.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 21:19 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Even if 90% continue, the 10% who don't will have a negative effect on society.

Not even close. Society does not benefit from e.g. books which were created once but then made unavailable. And over half if books ever created (by some estimates 70%) fall into this category (because they are not old enough to be in public domain but old enough for the question of who owns the copyright to be unanswerable). This percentage is much higher with software (see abandonware).

This means that if only 10% stop producing the negative effect will be more then compensated by access to that abandonware.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:54 UTC (Wed) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

> If copyright is revoked, many creators stop creating, and society is made poorer. Copyright directly enriches creators, and indirectly enriches society.

You are assuming that copyright does significantly increase the number of new works created, and that the labor employed to create these extra works would not be more valuably spent on other pursuits--a common problem with subsidies. You are also ignoring the cost of copyright to society, including the cost of enforcement, the undermining of respect for the law, the impact to the government's claims of legitimacy, the loss of potential derivative works, and the loss of works whose copyright holders wish to suppress or simply fail to consider valuable enough to preserve. The cost in liberty alone is enough to render the whole enterprise a net loss.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:28 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

> You are also ignoring the cost of copyright to society, including the cost of enforcement, the undermining of respect for the law, the impact to the government's claims of legitimacy, the loss of potential derivative works, and the loss of works whose copyright holders wish to suppress or simply fail to consider valuable enough to preserve. The cost in liberty alone is enough to render the whole enterprise a net loss.

You're assuming that the "cost in liberty alone is enough to render the whole enterprise a net loss." I'm assuming that copyright is a net gain to society. Since neither one of us can gather enough data to come to a rational conclusion, we can't prove which position is right. The best we can do is compare societies that enforce copyright to those that don't, and see what kind of results that are getting, assuming that all other factors are equal (and they're not).

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 20:01 UTC (Wed) by dakas (guest, #88146) [Link]

> If copyright is revoked, many creators stop creating

Hardly. But since this would shut down an industry that has specialized on acting on behalf of the creators, ultimately the creators would spend more time, work, and worries on securing a living.

In the history of culture, copyright is a rather recent idea. It involves a transfer of rights and responsibilities, with results that are far from beneficial: hundreds of millions don't make a single popular artist more prolific or able to eat better. But they could benefit thousands of other artists. And a diverse and rich artistic background is necessary for actually growing inventive new material and expanding and developing culture.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 21:42 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Hardly. But since this would shut down an industry that has specialized on acting on behalf of the creators, ultimately the creators would spend more time, work, and worries on securing a living.

Somehow it works in the opposite direction with music: MP3 proliferations hit CD sales hard, but in the end "the creators" (you know, people who actually create music) have gotten bigger piece of a pie.

I'm not saying it's a sure thing, but the fact that at least in one case the result is that "creators now spend less time, work, and worries on securing a living" is telling.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 21:15 UTC (Wed) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

Copyright is a relatively new idea, you know.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 17:01 UTC (Thu) by hummassa (subscriber, #307) [Link]

The current copyright system enriches the middlemen (content distributors) much more than the content creators.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 21:43 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Current? It was always the case. Copyright system was created by middlemen for middlemen, after all. Authors are used as fig leaf.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 29, 2013 21:16 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

No one has some kind of mystical right to use, borrow, copy, sell or eat what I make unless I say so. In effect, rights to the things I make come from me, not the universe.

Oh, absolutely. As long as you keep the stuff you've created private, you know secret everything is fine. I've not seen anyone who says that it's Ok to trespass and borrow your unfinished future bestseller to sell it as his (or her) own creation. Trouble starts when you start to share.

Copyright, licensing, and all such schemes are, from my point of view, legal scaffolding erected, in principle, to protect my rights to the things I make, and to protect the exercise by others of the rights I transfer to them in one fashion or another.

Not even close. Copyright was always about publishers, never about authors. It was created to fill publisher's coffins, nothing more, nothing less. If you gave me copy (voluntarily gave!) why should you control what I do with my own copy? It's not yours anymore!

An absence of rules governing behavior does not mean the behavior goes away.

No, but it saves the public money: instead of spending money for the witch hunt it'll spend money for the authors. Here is recording industry example: yes, mass MP3 copying is killing recording companies, but if money go to the people who really create music instead, then... what's the problem? Why should we care what happens with obsolete and useless industry? Because it's large industy? Somehow iceman's disappeared without making electric refrigerators illegal - and once upon time it was much larger industry.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 2:00 UTC (Wed) by jhardin (guest, #3297) [Link]

...but if money go[es] to the people who really create [the] music instead, then... what's the problem?
So, absent copyright and its enforcement, how do you ensure that "the people who really create the music" get paid for their creations, so that they keep creating?

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 2:32 UTC (Wed) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

> absent copyright and its enforcement, how do you ensure that "the people who really create the music" get paid for their creations, so that they keep creating?

Those are actually two separate questions.

0) How do you ensure the original creators get paid?
1) How do you ensure that the original creators keep creating?

Arguably, question 1) is much more important than 0), as 0) is intended as an inducement toward goal 1). It's also intended as an inducement toward a goal you've not stated, which is

2) How do we ensure more people become creators?

and the ultimate question, which is the complete thrust of everything which is

A) How do we promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?

i.e. how do we encourage people to make new, easily copied works of art and discoveries, and particularly how do we encourage people to reveal the magic sauce to continue scientific and technological advancement?

Everything we've discussed is for A), which has perhaps familiar phrasing.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:02 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

You assume that without copyright no new music will be created. But I observe that lots and lots of music predates the era of copyright (copyright was extended to cover music, too less then 100 years ago, music existed for centuries without copyright!).

We can just look on how it was done before, it's not big deal.

Some other creations were never created in era before copyright (movies and programs, for example), but it's not entirely clear if they need copyright or they only need the technology.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Feb 1, 2013 2:17 UTC (Fri) by jjs (guest, #10315) [Link]

The various ways it existed for 90% of the time - note that Shakespeare was a (for his time) wealthy man, even without copyright.

You can demand payment upfront before you publish, or gain a patron, or request donations, or do something else and create in your spare time, or even something else.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 1:42 UTC (Wed) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]

> I begin with the premise that when I make something -- software, music, a book, a table, an apple pie, anything -- I own that thing and all the rights entangled with it. No one has some kind of mystical right to use, borrow, copy, sell or eat what I make unless I say so. In effect, rights to the things I make come from me, not the universe.

It's pretty unusual to start with a premise that has the concept of a "right" totally inverted.

"Rights" usually only come into play when someone is harmed by the actions of another. The only "right" I can think of here that is "mystical" is the one that hypothetically exists over all your worldly thoughts before any conflict has even come into play.

Though perhaps we should look at what you mean by "mystical". I'm assuming you mean more or less "god given" or "innate". So if we re-read your statement again it rather implies that you believe any rights a human has to do anything must be explicitly granted. Which is a bit of a strange viewpoint unless you're Pol Pot.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 2:46 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

For one, I completely agree with you. The time and effort I put into my code and writing is substantial. If other people had the right to use and sell my hard work with no recompense, not only would I be angry, I would likely not code at all.

I support free software, because it works. I do not support theft.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 5:09 UTC (Wed) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

I understand and respect your point of view but there is also another way of looking at this. The value you get out of software, the value you can charge money for, is the value of solving the customers problem with technology. Restricting access to your code after you've solved the customer problem is of no benefit to anyone while allowing access and copying can be of a benefit to others and having access and being able to copy their work can be of a benefit to you.

I highly doubt that you'd refuse to do work for a paying customer if you weren't able to retain copy rights to the work, and I doubt the customer would refuse to pay you and leave their problem unsolved.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 7:04 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

You are thinking too small. Often, the problem is too difficult to do the work if only one customer would pay you. You need either many customers, or to charge more than one customer would be willing to pay. There is the option of starting with a minimal subset and adding features over time, but this can be very difficult, especially if the minimal subset is still quite large.

Take large accounting software as an example. There have been many one-off solutions made for the big companies that could afford them. However, nowadays many solutions are customizations of a common platform. The cost of implementation is lowered because the platform maker can spread the cost of common features and updates across multiple customers, and the customers are happy because the quality and flexibility is better. The common platform can gain large features anticipating future needs, even if no one company would be willing to pay for it.

The economies of scale for software (and games, and books, and...) can only work if creators can sell their product more than once, and copyright is the best tool we have for this.

Now, if copyright terms were reduced somewhat, it could still be possible to get your initial investment recouped before it was a free-for-all, but changing the law would need to be done carefully.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:17 UTC (Wed) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

I think you are right. Much of the copyleft ecosystem is built on cross-organizational groups where no one entity wants to foot the whole bill for development but are willing to pool resources together to get the big projects done. The recent popularity of Kickstarter is also another similar situation where the development cost is paid for up front so that small customers can get big projects done.

Even in the absence of copyright allowing one to sell licenses in the traditional sense, if the software is worth having then it seems that there should be someone(s) who will pay for it. I don't know if Redhat is the exception that proves the rule or a demonstration that you can still charge money and do well without using the traditional copy rights. They haven't folded just because CentOS exists for example.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:54 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Even in the absence of copyright allowing one to sell licenses in the traditional sense, if the software is worth having then it seems that there should be someone(s) who will pay for it.

This is kind of self-obvious because absence of copyright will only affect tiny slice of the software: 10% (if even that!).

If you are paid to write piece of Facebook or Twitter then you can not distribute source not because it's copyrighted but because your contract includes the NDA (which means that you can not even distribute some numbers which are thoroughly uncopyrightable).

And from said tiny slice a lot of projects can be financed in kickstarter-like model. Companies donate code to Android not because they are receiving royalty!

I don't know if Redhat is the exception that proves the rule or a demonstration that you can still charge money and do well without using the traditional copy rights.

RedHat is an exception because of existence of copyright. Government spends taxpayers money to enforce copyright while any other model will need to find all the resources "inside" which of course will make it less effective. In the absence of copyright there will be more kickstarter-like activity, donations and other such things.

This does not mean full abandonment of copyright is a good idea. But it's good idea to compare disastrous consequences of it's enforcement (absolute lack of privacy for one if person-to-person copying is considered illegal) with it's benefits.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 11:27 UTC (Wed) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

> If other people had the right to use and sell my hard work with no recompense, not only would I be angry, I would likely not code at all.

Then you should stop producing Free Software right now. Others can both use and sell your Free software without recompense. See also, Red Hat.

In a world without copyright, I would continue to produce software in a world without the GPL. It's not like I receive remuneration for Free software that I produce now, nor that others bundle and resell.

I would _not_, however, release the source code except to close, trustworthy friends. If others were to want to find out the secret sauce, they'd have to reverse-engineer it, like they do now.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 15:09 UTC (Wed) by samlh (subscriber, #56788) [Link]

> Then you should stop producing Free Software right now. Others can both use and sell your Free software without recompense. See also, Red Hat.
>
> In a world without copyright, I would continue to produce software in a world without the GPL. It's not like I receive remuneration for Free software that I produce now, nor that others bundle and resell.

Just because the recompense is intangible, that doesn't mean it isn't there. With the GPL, I am getting the satisfaction of contributing to a common pool, and thanking the original author for distributing under a free license. The copyleft provisions prevent unequal contributions--Red Hat releases the changes they make to the GPL software they use.

BSD is a tougher argument, and I contribute to fewer BSD projects as a result.

I support the right for people to *volunteer* to contribute to free software; I do not support not having the right to decide.

> I would _not_, however, release the source code except to close, trustworthy friends. If others were to want to find out the secret sauce, they'd have to reverse-engineer it, like they do now.

If someone broke into your server, anyone could use the source code without penalty, and you'd be up shit creek. You'll have no rights to the source code, and while the first person could get in trouble for hacking, everyone else who got your code could do as they wished with it.

Finally, you are ignoring other fields such as literature or music where there is no secret sauce to keep hidden. As an avid reader, I realize that today authors don't make that much money, and publishing is not a particularly high profit-margin business. Take away the ability for an author to sell to multiple people and far fewer authors will make enough to live on.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:36 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Finally, you are ignoring other fields such as literature or music where there is no secret sauce to keep hidden.

Literature and music existed for thousands of years without copyright which makes this discussion quite surreal.

I'm not sure abandonment of copyright will stop development of programs but it sure as hell will not not stop creation of new literature and music works.

As an avid reader, I realize that today authors don't make that much money, and publishing is not a particularly high profit-margin business. Take away the ability for an author to sell to multiple people and far fewer authors will make enough to live on.

And this is bad thing... exactly why? Sure, amount of throw-away literature will go down, but I'm not convinced that good authors (you know, the ones who people really like) will not be able to sell nothing. Yes, it's harder with books as compared to music (music is supported by live concerts just fine), but then it's cheaper to create, too.

And, again, I'm not saying that it's always a bad deal to use copyright as subsidy to authors, but we should never forget that it's form of subsidy, not a natural right.

You only own stuff that can be stolen

Posted Jan 30, 2013 22:43 UTC (Wed) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

I begin with the premise that when I make something -- software, music, a book, a table, an apple pie, anything -- I own that thing and all the rights entangled with it.
I'm afraid that premise is wrong. Intellectual effort does not produce property.

Fundamental property rights don't need legislation to create them. They get laws to punish those who violate them, but the government doesn't create my right to this ham sandwich---I did when I bought it. ``Intellectual property rights'' are a snare and a delusion. The U.S. Constitution recognizes copyright as a government-granted monopony. The Statute of Anne created it out of thin air. Previous to that, no one had any property rights in writing, art, whatever. After that, no one had any, either. Despite the unfortunate name, copyright isn't a right, it's a monopoly on copying.

Remember, theft applies to things the thief takes away from the owner: ham sandwiches, cash, Maseratis, &c. When an infringer copies a photo, the creator still has it. Nothing has been taken.

Copyright, licensing, and all such schemes are, from my point of view, legal scaffolding erected, in principle, to protect my rights[.]
Copyright gives you a monopoly on copying, licensing, &c. It creates the monopoly, it doesn't protect a pre-existing right.

Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture

Posted Jan 31, 2013 6:24 UTC (Thu) by weinholt (guest, #18819) [Link]

Thank you for posting that, wagerrard. The replies it got have shown what the dominant philosophy is on this forum.

Copyright is NOT a natural right

Posted Feb 1, 2013 2:25 UTC (Fri) by jjs (guest, #10315) [Link]

You may begin with that idea, but in the US, Copyright is NOT a given - it's a creation of the Constitution and Congress:

"Congress shall have the power ... 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;"
(Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

"Congress shall have the power" - as in they CAN, but they are not REQUIRED to. Modulo international treaties, Congress could revoke Copyright and be within the Constitution. If they had never created Copyright, they would have been within the Constitution.

From Thomas Jefferson, 1st Secretary of State and 1st head of the Patent Office (letter in 1813):

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."

As others have pointed out, until 1662 (1710 for the Statute of Anne that gave Copyright to Authors), Copyright DID NOT exist. So for 90% of Human History, you were free to copy to your heart's content.


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