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Willing Impartiality, William Patry Disengages · Wednesday August 06, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Why has Professor William Patry discontinued his blog?

One possibility (as he alludes to) is an inability to escape the implication that he expresses Google’s views on copyright, or at least biases his views in Google’s favour.

Therefore, I deduce that William has said to himself something like this: “Sorry me, I know I’ve done everything possible to dissociate my blog and opinions from Google’s interests, but this still isn’t preventing significant opinion from understanding otherwise, and so I must ask myself to discontinue my blog”.

Even this could only be a problem if there were powerful maximalist forces tempted to insinuate that Patry’s blog evinced bias from being in Google’s employ, and irrespective of the truth, the plausibility of that being a popular perception and association couldn’t help but implicate bias in Patry’s legal opinions, and thus affect his practice for which a perception of impartiality is a prerequisite.

I suppose that if he’s also seen to entertain copyright abolitionists this exacerbates any perception of bias, whether he considers abolitionists crazy or not.

I’d suggest that whilst it may be professionally critical to evince impartiality (beyond its mere achievement), if this is at the cost of understanding it cannot help but compromise one’s integrity. You cannot improve your judgement of the world (since law evolves from the people), or anyone else’s judgement, if you retreat from engagement with it, the people that comprise it.

So, what would I say? “Come on Bill, get your blog back up, and start publishing my comments again!” And inevitably, some people will suspect I’m biased in this. ;-)

Throwing the Book Against Intellectual Monopoly · Monday July 14, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine have now engaged Cambridge University Press to publish their book Against Intellectual Monopoly, which is, hypocritically, subject to the artificial reproduction monopoly of copyright. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this indicts the authors for their selection of publisher, or the reputedly academic publisher for failing to educate themselves with the words they lay claim to and neutralise their monopoly – or both.

Check out what Casey Bowman has to say apropos the publication of this book:
freepirate.blogspot.com/boldrin-and-levine-have-published-book.

It’s very disappointing, but not too surprising to the cynics among us, to deduce that even the ‘Pirate party’ is being infested by hand wringing moderates/reformists, so in fear of being identified as a den of IP thieves that they are antipathetic toward abolition or those who propose it.

Contrast this with Bill Stepp’s comparison of those privileged by copyright to suspend the public’s liberty, with those once privileged to own slaves:

Any book published in the United States is automatically copyrighted under the copyright law. Copyright is a form of slavery, under which certain actions of non-copyright holders are proscribed (e.g. making copies of books).

Just as under chattel slavery, a baby born of a slave was automatically a slave under the law of slavery, so too a non-copyright holder is a slave to an author and copyright holder who begats a book, under the law of copyright, to the extent he can’t perform certain actions with his own property.

Anyone opposed to slavery should be against copyright. He who says copyright also says slavery in the same breath.

In accord with Bill, those who advocate appeasement and so dare nothing more radical than the aspiration of a kinder copyright and a less frivolous patent system, may be compared to those who’d bless the god given right for men to keep slaves, but who’d compassionately call for some regulation of working and living conditions. See A Balanced Approach to Copyright?

I was amused only recently to discover that abolishcopyright.com not only admits defeat in its first post (that abolition is impossible), but then compounds this surrender with a Stockholm syndrome endorsement of copyright albeit with a shorter term.

That a world without the privilege of copyright/patent is so difficult to countenance, let alone grok, has led me on past occasions to conclude that the only way of achieving its abolition is to portray this as reform, as a set of apparently more constraining intellectual property rights – possibly having to retain the misnomer of ‘copyright’ to name it (when the term will at least then truly represent a restoration of the ‘right to copy’ and cease being a misnomer).

Nevertheless, latter day pirates do need to be identified correctly, the good from the bad. The good pirates should be recognised as those in pursuit of natural rights, necessarily including liberty unconstrained by mercantile privilege, not as apologetic reformists who simply desire greater kindness from their privileged masters. The bad pirates, at the other extreme, are those nihilistic libertines who would privilege themselves above all others. See The Freedom of Pirates or the Liberty of Civilised Men.

Anyway, do give the book a read.

Stephan Kinsella said 3832 days ago :

But their book is free online; as is my own just-published book, “Against Intellectual Property” (Amazon link).

Policing Intellectual Property · Wednesday July 09, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Good to see our high street merchants are keeping up with the times and working hard to protect their customers’ inclination to shop and their intellectual property against theft – especially the published and publicly accessible IP – clearly that most at risk.

We can’t have digital pirates wandering around town centres such as Worthing with their digital cameras just so they can capture and upload what are inevitably copyrighted works on flickr and other notorious file sharing sites.

Hat tip to Ian Betteridge.

If the government won’t protect the mercantile privileges and reproduction monopolies they’ve granted, well, the merchants will have to damn well protect them themselves until the state sees sense and provides the necessary police force.

C-61 - Smells like... Canadian Coffee · Sunday June 22, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

The Canadian version of the DMCA, arriving late to a wiser party, finds its reception muted.

Those Canadians receving it, who recognise something is rotten in the state of Denmark, figure the C-61 medicine is harsher than it needs to be.

Unfortunately, such canny citizens are still outnumbered 10 to 1 by those who’ve been properly educated with the “If it ain’t hurting it ain’t working” principle who are happy to be convinced that the more efficacious copyright’s enforcement measures are, the better it is for all lovers of creative works.

On the other hand, those who now recognise that copyright is actually a cultural constraint causing damage in proportion to its fortification, and to be abolished rather than fortified, realise such heliocentric heresy holds little appeal to any audience.

So the only Canadian voices we hear in anything resembling dissent of copyright and its reinforcement by C-61 are those asking for less harshness, and greater balance. In other words those demanding “What the heck are you doing in my home?”

Copyright has only just started affecting the public’s liberty, since the public has only recently had tools that so promiscuously infringe copyright (aka ‘share and build upon published culture’). Predictably, the public have little problem with commercial privileges as long as they don’t affect them as individuals, so they say “Look, keep your publishing monopolies if that’s your bag, but don’t start telling me what I can or can’t do with the cultural works I purchase”.

With C-61 there are a minority of more technologically adept Canadians who aren’t too happy about its implications for the domestic liberties they are familiar with, e.g. transferring CDs to iPods and DVDs to portable movie players.

C-61 says “Sure, you can copy that which you are permitted to copy, but not that which you are not.” Denigrating C-61’s harsh penalties (against those who do attempt to copy that which is not copyable) as applying only to a tiny criminal underclass, its proponents also fatuously argue that if enough citizens prefer copyable media then that’s what the market will provide.

So what hope is there for citizens seeking balance?

None.

Ultimately, you either have copyright law that prohibits copying of published works in order to create a commercial privilege for publishers, or you don’t have such a law, and anyone can copy published works to their heart’s content.

You can’t have it both ways, and the industry knows this. There is no balance available. It is not possible to legitimise domestic copying if copyright is to remain even remotely viable.

Just as with the US DMCA and the European EUCD, C-61 is about reinforcing copyright, not balancing, compromising, or reforming it.

And this is the way it will go. Copyright legislation will keep on being added to with ever more draconian enforcement measures.

Well, it’ll go like that until you get to the point at which the worm turns, i.e. the culturally repressed populace decides that enough is enough.

The moment you allow domestic copying is the moment copyright is essentially completely emasculated and impotent. It is already ineffective at preventing copying, but it still at least has enough teeth to prosecute unwitting families in CRIA’s educational campaigns (C-61 adds another row of sharper teeth).

So, at least understand why C-61 is the way it is, and that asking for the legalisation of domestic copying is like asking for copyright’s abolition. You can then understand why those seeking ‘balance’ will not get it, unless they unwittingly obtain copyright’s abolition in the process (which is pretty unlikely).

We will instead see the granting of facile pseudo-concessions, such as permission to make temporary, private copies of those things the copyright holder has not secured against such copying.

Things will get worse before they get better.

Far too few Canadians have yet caught the whiff of coffee in their cultural slumber.

Imagine a World Without Copyright · Tuesday June 03, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

I’ve just noticed the following essay by Marieke van Schijndel & Joost Smiers.

IMAGINING A WORLD WITHOUT COPYRIGHT

It was introduced by Gerd Leonhard on the 18th of February, 2005.

It is extremely difficult to imagine a world without copyright, so any help in this respect is most useful.

This leads me to discover that Gerd Leonhard has a series of essays concerning the ‘end of control’.

Also see his downloadable book Music 2.0.

Spooky · Friday May 30, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Glad to notice that someone in the US military is interested in protecting the liberty of its citizens too.

Reminiscent of Three Days of the Condor here’s a clue that someone with a beady eye on the chattering masses found my conscientious objection aphorism interesting, i.e. “I will not accept the enslavement of my fellow man, nor any imposition upon his liberty, as reward for the publication of my art”.

Date

30 May 2008 02:36pm

IP Address

134.11.64.171

Host

litctr-​64-​171.​army.​pentagon.​mil

Page

index.​php?​c=Developments

Referrer

http://www.​google.​com/​search?​hl=en&q=I+will+not+accept+t​ he+enslavement+of+my+fellow​+man%2C+nor+any+imposition+​ upon+his+liberty%2C+as+rewa​rd+for+the+publication+of+m​ y+art&btnG=Google+Search

From my blog’s referrer log.

Controlling the Flow of Information · Thursday May 29, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Dan Lockton links to Juan Freire – From the Analogue Commons to the New Hybrid Public Spaces – we make money not art quoting an interesting excerpt:

“Many people are horrified by the fact that knowledge flows continuously. They wouldn’t have any qualms about electricity flowing around us freely but they find the idea of a never stopping flow of information highly disturbing.”

Well, what can I say?

A lot of the angst about losing control over the flow of information arises from the fact that such control (copyright), in enabling an exchange mechanism, is consequently regarded as critical for artists who it is thought have to sell their information (digital art) to their audience using this control.

But it was always an unnatural control. The crown’s interest in controlling the press was subsequently delegated to the press. Today, the press (or corporate publishers), no longer given the simple task of just controlling themselves (and the odd pirate), are now tasked with controlling the entire populace and understandably are saying “Sorry Gov. You can have the job back. They’re your people. You control the information superhighways you built for them. You prosecute them.”

We will see how successful the state is in regulating and exerting control over the Internet, ensuring that no citizen dares exchange information without permission from its rightful owner (without extreme risk of prosecution). This control also coincides with a misplaced belief by government that constraint over the public communications by terrorists and other organised criminals helps dissuade people from supporting their cause or joining their anti-social activity. I’d say it was better to engage in conversation and moderate it, than to stamp it out in preference for warfare.

However, despite the inability of the state and its press to control the public domain, an artist still has natural control – over their private domain. They can still engage with their audience and make bargains to exchange art for money. How? Via the very same uncontrolled communications infrastructure. One that enables them to communicate with their audience and make bargains with them: art for money, money for art.

Do not weep for the state nor their publishers who both believe they must still control the flow of information in the public domain.

All each artist and member of their audience needs is to control their own private domain and to have a free market in which exchanges can be made without interference, whether by the state (monopolies or license fees) or those they’ve unethically privileged (copyright and patent holders).

Unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot of grief as everyone makes the transition, while state and incumbents inevitably fail to prevent it.

Jason said 3913 days ago :

My position is that it is a matter of ethics (not law) that people should acknowledge through attribution the creator of a work. Surely, ideas are free and can only be free, but the fixed expression of an idea is the work of an individual or group.

Can we agree on that principle?

If so, then the only additional concern I have is that there be a real opportunity that creators/artists can earn a decent living from their creations, provided the quality of those creations are deemed good by those who enjoy them. In other words, a writer who writes well, and writes content that appeals to many, should be able to earn enough to pursue that writing full time. Perhaps its better to say: the market should be such that earning enough to write full time is a real possibility.

Do you agree with this second idea as well?

Again … not trying to pick away at you, just trying to clearly understand your position.

Thanks

Crosbie Fitch said 3913 days ago :

Acknowledgement, credit, prominence of attribution, is a matter of respect.

Compulsory acknowledgement denies respect and also creates a burden in many situations (potentially preventing respectful and beneficial use of the art).

What I believe is ethical is a requirement that attribution be accurate and truthful (not necessarily exhaustive). This I believe comes from the natural right to truth, i.e. a right against misattribution, plagiarism, misrepresentation, fraud, deceit, etc.

This also covers misattribution by implication whether through omission or misleading context. So, if when incorporating another author’s work without identifying it as another’s, this lack of attribution or clarification implies the work as that of the incorporating author’s or the author of adjacent works, then this would be unethical.

I wholly agree with your second idea and this forms the basis of the projects that have been occupying me on and off over the last few years (and many others working on non-copyright based business models).

Jason said 3913 days ago :

OK … I’m with you on almost everything you say here.

Still, I don’t see how compulsory acknowledgment is unethical. I think the current punishments and enforcement are unethical, but certainly if a person can ascertain the author(s) of a work, it should be an ethical imperative that attribution be given. No?

I’m glad we agree on the second point. I still have no clear idea how this would work without copyright, but I’m willing to be convinced. (I just reserve the right to be critical!) I think the burden is on those who would seek reform to clearly and convincingly demonstrate that other models will work as effectively, if not more so.

I’ll be following your writings here … best of luck!

Crosbie Fitch said 3913 days ago :

The misattribution through omission that warrants prosecution is that which is significant enough for the public to detect, and where it can be demonstrated that omission constitutes misattribution (for if it doesn’t there’s no harm, at worse only a lack of respect), and where it was either deliberate with intent to deceive or notice of rectification is ignored without good reason.

In all other cases, where omitted attribution goes unnoticed, there’s no complaint arising. Any attribution would thus be a matter of respect by the incorporating artist anyway.

As to convincing people that equitable business models are viable without copyright, yes, this is an urgent matter and must soon be demonstrated – before something just as bad as copyright is instituted such as taxation.

Regulation of Communications (Net Neutrality) · Friday May 23, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

The crusade for network regulation in the name of neutrality moves on apace and collects an ever larger entourage of concerned, but misled citizens.

People are misled, because they imagine that ‘neutrality’ means that their communications must be treated irrespective of content and communicants.

What neutrality actually means is that whatever communications are permitted must be treated irrespective of content and communicants.

Enforcement of neutrality means that the state will regulate what communication is permitted and regulate ISPs to ensure it is treated neutrally.

Thus it’s quite possible for certain communications to be denied because of their content (copyright infringing content) or their communicants (sites known for sedition or obscenity, WiFi points open to the public, etc.).

What no-one will point out to those believing that neutrality means ‘uncontrolled’ is that the logical conclusion to such a naive understanding of network neutrality is copyright abolition (since an uncontrolled Internet is fundamentally an uncontrolled copying and instantaneous diffusion machine). Unfortunately, the champions of regulated neutrality have as their sponsors those interested in any regulation, simply to get their foot in the door to regulate the Internet communications that threaten their traditional business models. The last thing they want to happen is neutralisation of copyright (heaven forfend its consequent abolition).

So, despite citizens believing net neutrality is in line with their aspiration to communicate without interference, the sponsors of net neutrality are not actually interested in emancipating the people from controls over their communication at all.

I therefore cannot support the idea of letting regulators cross the threshold to ensure people can exchange anything they can legitimately exchange at the QoS they paid for. Because then, instead of the ISPs selling off preferential treatment, the regulators will enforce egalitarian and copyright respectful treatment (and inevitably, that the communications themselves are also respectful of the state).

It’s like inviting a pack of wolves in to keep the foxes under control.

What would be far better would be to regulate the market of communications providers, ensuring it is competitive, than to regulate communications providers themselves. After all, ISPs couldn’t start offering preferential treatment to publishers if their otherwise captive and suffering customers could find alternative ISPs that sold a non-preferential service.

Never mind. Pandora’s box is open.

We’ll see how the great struggle for free speech and cultural liberty turns out in the next few years:

  • People want to freely communicate, subject to each other’s natural rights (life, privacy, truth).
  • Governments and publishing corporations want control over communications channels (including the communications they permit).

It’s people vs state+corporations. I think the former has the edge, but it’s probably a close call.

BBC, You're Fired! (from The Apprentice) · Monday May 19, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

The BBC is one of the few organisations on this planet easily able to embrace the future non-copyright based revenue model of letting its audience directly fund its works, but unfortunately it is failing miserably – in the same way that an alcoholic might fail miserably in figuring out how to get drunk having been accidentally locked inside a whisky distillery.

So, the BBC takes my money and makes me a programme called The Apprentice.

Unfortunately, I miss its broadcast slot. No matter, today we have the instantaneous diffusion device known as the Internet to provide a relatively inexpensive means of distributing recordings of such TV programmes.

Perversely, in its infinite wisdom, the BBC believes that whilst it should facilitate the delivery of its customers’ TV programmes to them via broadcast, it should not do so via the Internet except via a highly constrained means (only generally permitting previews and excerpts via its crippled iPlayer, and the entire programme only at certain times and even then with a self-destruct expiry). Instead, it remains up to the customers to provide an unconstrained distribution facility themselves via BitTorrent.

Is this petty behaviour by the BBC like a child holding its hands over its eyes in the hope it becomes invisible?

The programmes that the BBC’s customers funded are being ‘re-broadcast’ on the Internet by some of the customers themselves (who have already received them), and are gladly being re-received by other customers who’ve also paid for them.

Why is the BBC trying to pretend this isn’t happening?

It can’t be financial, because:

  • The producers have been paid, and have supplied the programmes they’ve been paid for.
  • The commissioning audience has paid up, and has received the programmes it has paid for.

So why on earth isn’t the BBC embracing BitTorrent as a means of enabling the commissioners of the programmes to receive what they’ve paid for?

The reasons for the BBC’s perverse behaviour remain as yet unknown, but what we do know about the use of BitTorrent is:

  1. It is already happening
  2. It doesn’t incur any additional expense on the part of the BBC

If the BBC was a candidate on The Apprentice and challenged with the task of delivering the programmes that their customers had paid for to those same customers in a timely and convenient fashion, Sir Alan Sugar would probably ask them why the heck they didn’t utilise the free and efficient distribution technology known as BitTorrent, instead wasting £6,000,000 creating a semi-functional monstrosity called iPlayer and then having the gall to use it to supply only fragments of the customers’ programmes or versions that would self-destruct (perhaps to encourage them to continue to use their TVs instead of their PCs).

BBC, sorry. You’ve done great work on previous occasions, but this time you really lost sight of the ball. You had your chance. You’re fired! I don’t need lunatics or Luddites like you in my organisation who would waste six million pounds of my money trying to prevent my customers getting what they paid for.”

isaac said 3903 days ago :

Good points here, but I think the real reason why the BBC ignores BitTorrent is still a financial one: They’re afraid of losing the revenue from international licensing & DVD sales. The iPlayer at least lets them keep the content inside Britain.

Crosbie Fitch said 3903 days ago :

Ah, so the BBC is selling the suspension of its citizens’ liberty to foreign nations? What happened to “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”?

The BBC is denying its viewers the liberty to exchange and build upon the programmes they’ve paid for, in order that such suspended liberty can be sold for the exploitation of corporations in other countries.

Not only does this make the BBC complicit in cultural repression, it also demonstrates its ignorance of the consequence that Britain would become far more culturally richer (in both senses of the word) if the BBC instead culturally emancipated its more important customers – the British public.

After all, what is the point of the BBC? To maximise profit or to culturally enrich the nation with news, education and entertainment?

As for the idea that the iPlayer is a fence or other mechanism of containment, this is preposterous. Not only because it is plainly incapable of such a function (even as a line in the sand), but because the very idea of wanting to ‘keep the content inside Britain’ is crazy.

Thanks for the comment Isaac. :)

isaac said 3903 days ago :

Hey, I’m not saying I agree with what the BBC is doing or that the iPlayer works as a border to keep the rest of the world out (I’m from Australia and bittorrent Doctor Who every week). The ABC here in Australia releases a good chunk of their original programming as free podcasts, so I guess being sensible isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility for large broadcasters (though the ABC doesn’t produce much of interest to the outside world).

Crosbie Fitch said 3903 days ago :

I’m not surprised you don’t agree.

The important thing is to stop public corporations kidding themselves that what they are doing is agreeable to their public commissioners.

A simple first step would be for the BBC to have a channel that was broadcast and distributed completely unencumbered to the British public. It would then be much cheaper given it could be re-distributed free of charge by the public themselves (via BitTorrent). Unfortunately, I think the BBC will wait until everyone else has been doing that sort of thing for five years before they’ll even think about doing it themselves. It’ll then be too late and the BBC will be out-competed in the market of publicly funded producers of publicly owned IP.

NB That’s ‘publicly owned’ as in the public get their grubby hands on their own property, not as in ‘Owned by a public corporation and reserved for exploitation by multinational media conglomerates’.

As for ABC being of interest to the outside world, there’s at least Skippy and Paul Hogan that I’d cite as my favourites, though they don’t quite match the BitTorrent-worthy unmissability of The Apprentice.

The Copyright Abolition Movement · Monday May 19, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Apparently the Northern California chapter of the US Copyright Society is advertising in its spring newsletter an event on June 26th by Professor Lawrence Lessig entitled “The Growing Copyright Abolitionist Movement, and How You Can Help Stop It”.

As I’ve said before, no-one will have done more to postpone the inevitable abolition of copyright than Professor Lawrence Lessig – despite the claims of his maximalist detractors1 who believe Creative Commons threatens copyright, when quite to the contrary its mission is actually to recast and reinforce copyright as an authorial privilege (naturally, just as unethical as when wielded by publishers).

So, if you understand that all mercantile privilege is unethical, even if restricted to self-publishing authors, then perhaps you might turn up and put the case for copyright’s abolition and the movement of those in support – who hold that no citizen should be threatened with 5 year jail sentences and million dollar fines for enjoying their cultural freedom, just so that an author benefits from a commercial monopoly over reproduction, performance, and other use of their published works.

If you need to counter claims that the US constitution sanctions copyright, you can point to my recent post here, where I show how the state can secure authors’ natural, exclusive rights to their writings without granting them unethical privileges such as copyright over their fellow men.

_________

1 PFF’s recent diatribe against Lessig: Tragedy and Farce: An Analysis of the Book FREE CULTURE by Thomas D. Sydnor II

Anthony Schueller said 2369 days ago :

I agree, we need to get rid of this Cultural Lockdown, I just came across two movies on youtube that were removed because of this, I don’t see why I should not be allowed to watch movies just because I can’t find a job (Because there are almost none left), and have no money.

 

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