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    As I have previously discussed here, there is a modest proposal which we, the software developers, ought to consider. Perhaps it is time to stop using corporation-friendly licenses for Free Software. In this particular case, perhaps Google would not be so rude to the community if the community were to stop providing them with high-quality video codec implementations. They can afford to reinvent everything, so let’s force them to reinvent everything.

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      I’d propose taking more holistic view. Social changes should take effect.

      This idea that somebody owns the right to copy some code or content they created is absurd. It roots on trying to create “incentive”, that you can cover your living expenses with what you do. This is insane. Covering living expenses should not be a problem to anybody in the first place due to all wealth that is present.

      If basic living expenses are a problem, I think the problem is education. People are educated to be industry cogs, but lack skills to fare without industries. I suppose the main issue is the lack of knowledge about how trade works.

      In a successful trade both participants are satisfied and feel that they won something out of doing the trade. Likewise it’s a good idea to understand what demand and supply actually means and how price on a market is determined.

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        I understand the thrust of your points, but you have to keep in mind that we do not have the option of holistically reforming society. Too many people, with too much power, are too entrenched in a defense of copyright as their lifeblood; we cannot simply insist that society is wrongly structured, but must demonstrate that we can take concrete steps towards tearing down harmful corporations and other institutions.

        What would you recommend that everyday software developers do?

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          Too many people, with too much power, are too entrenched in a defense of copyright as their lifeblood; we cannot simply insist that society is wrongly structured

          Gonna have to disagree on that; we can and should.

          What we can’t do is assume it will work in a reasonable timeframe. So a variety of strategies is called for.

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            What do you propose that we do, exactly? I have given a concrete proposal, and I am arguing against the idea that we can achieve corporate reform by lobbying to corporations to change their behavior. Instead, we achieve corporate reform by changing laws; by what current political path can we reform copyright law?

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              I didn’t say I disagree with your proposal; I support it. I just disagree that it’s mutually exclusive with other longer-term efforts for wider reform.

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            I’m not sure about every detail, but I really like this take: https://josephg.com/blog/war-over-being-nice/

            If you were to follow that line, I’d guess we’d satisfy copyright laws and let they have their DMCA. It’s just that you don’t use it yourself and do not consume content that uses DRM. You never “destroy income” if you never consume in the first place.

            That might be already happening besides. Why do they suddenly are over DMCA so much again?

            However I’m not sure if that means we should stop using github or google services. But then.. we could actually do that. Git repositories and email is not that hard to deploy on your own server.

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              By which mechanism, exactly, do you propose that we destroy monopolists like Google or Disney? Keep in mind that not destroying them is no longer an option; they actively distort our ability to have free exchange of software and other information. I feel that you are not engaging with my proposal, but instead imagining some sort of ability of people to simply walk away from the corporate hellscape.

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                I do not have a good well-thought out answer to that. However maybe.. The current industry is heavily tied to its software stack. What do you think would happen if it was starting to crack?

                People at Microsoft are already frustrated about the fork/exec model alone. Also they rely on selling monolithic software packages with lot of easy-to-use features with expense of complexity. However you also got Unix model that composes larger programs from smaller programs. Open source programmers have needlessly imitated closed source software everywhere when they would have had their own ways available.

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                  How is a technical critique of fork/exec a threat to open source?

                  Unix used to be proprietary up the wazoo. Linux has turned that on its head, but conflating open source with support for fork/exec is absurd.

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            This idea that somebody owns the right to copy some code or content they created is absurd.

            I think you missed a clause there. I believe you mean a creator should not have the right to restrict copying of their work.

            As a content creator in another field (photography), I’m entirely in agreement with copyright, and license my own work with all rights reserved. This is not for monetary reasons, but to (de jure) prevent people I don’t like or agree with from using my work.

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              You treat your photographs more important than anything else. I’m disgusted.

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                That’s an absurd misrepresentation of my position.

                I do agree that the current copyright regime probably errs too far into a net disadvantage for society (and I’ve commented to that effect earlier on this site). But the ability to be identified as the author of a creative work is valuable. And that includes the ability to prevent others from appropriating one’s work in support for causes one doesn’t believe in.

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                  Make sure you do not conflate those two different, separate, orthogonal aspects of copyright:

                  • Obligations of attribution.
                  • Restrictions on copy.

                  Few people disagree with the first. If you use some work, say so in the credits. If you’ve transformed the work, also say so, so the original author is not associated with your transformation. Restrictions on copy however is something else, and can be removed without affecting the first.

                  the ability to be identified as the author of a creative work is valuable

                  Sure it is, but that doesn’t require any restriction on copying.

                  And that includes the ability to prevent others from appropriating one’s work in support for causes one doesn’t believe in.

                  No it does not. What you asked for is being identified as the author. In addition, I sense the desire to not be associated with stuff you don’t support.

                  Let’s say some Shady Character wants to use your photos for some disgusting Alien Porn. Under obligation of attribution, they’d have to credit you for the photo, and they’d have to make it clear you have nothing to do with the porn. (It’s implicit if they just took a background photo and said so; it must be explicit if they digitally disrobed models you shot.) There, you’re both identified as the creator of the original work, and your reputation is safe. Which is why I like attribution very much, and tend to give credit even when not obligated to.

                  You don’t want your photo to be used in Alien Porn to begin with? Now that’s a significant restriction. Asking someone with Internet access not to copy something is a huge restriction on Freedom of Speech, and it is not clear at all that it is worth it. Which is why I view restrictions on copy very suspiciously.

                  Another example is software. I’m currently working on encryption software, which I give up for free. It is inevitable that some people will use it for nefarious purposes, some of which are even illegal. I don’t need copyright to prevent people from doing illegal things, the law has that covered already (tautologically). I only need it for stuff I find abhorrent (distributing Alien Porn discreetly). But then we’re beyond restriction on copy, we’re restricting use. I don’t think I’d want to live in a society that to enforces that.

                  Now you might think your photo is different. It must be copied to be shown in that Alien Porn. But then it’s just input material, that have nothing to do with whatever the Shady Character is trying to achieve. Being in a position to restrict the copy of your photo effectively restricts all its uses, and I argue this is just as problematic as restrictions on the use of software. The benefits to society better be massive to let you have that kind of control.

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                    Thanks for taking the time to expand on your vision of how copying creative works should function.

                    Under the current regime, if a creator of alien porn was to wish to use my work, they had only to ask me. I’d either allow it, or allow it for financial compensation, or not allow it. That’s an expression of my speech, which must be balanced against the right of speech of the porn creator.

                    I would much prefer to be able to tell the local Nazi party they are not allowed to use my photos as part of their propaganda, than to have to accept that they’re allowed to, as long as they credit me as the creator. Especially if the disclaimer that I don’t agree with their odious views is merely implicit as you suggest:

                    It’s implicit if they just took a background photo and said so

                    Other photographers prefer to release their work under CC0. There’s even a huge site (Unsplash) that only hosts CC0 content. That’s their choice. My choice is to use all rights reserved. Any restriction to my choice must be balanced against my right of speech.

                    Finally, you open a huge can of worms here:

                    [clarification that you have nothing to do with the porn] must be explicit if they digitally disrobed models you shot

                    How on earth could photographers find models, or models be prepared to seek work modeling, if their likeness could be digitally altered to appear in entirely unrelated work?

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                      I’d either allow it, or allow it for financial compensation, or not allow it. That’s an expression of my speech,[…]

                      You’re conflating a couple things here.

                      Freedom of speech is the freedom to say stuff (or in your case to shoot photos and publish them). If someone else repeats what you said (or re-publishes your work), that doesn’t prevent you from saying stuff or publishing photos, and thus does not conflict with your freedom of speech.

                      It might conflict with something else, such as your desire not to be associated with some things, or your ability to profit from your own work. Both arguably important things, just different from freedom of speech. The balance you speak of is not between their freedom of speech and yours. It’s between their freedom of speech and some other legitimate interests of yours.

                      Now I’m not saying “therefore, you should just suck it up because freedom of speech is more important”. That part is my own political opinion. Here I just want to point out the technicality. That said, there is another important aspect that does inform my political opinion: the user/creator ratio.

                      My point is fairly simple: the moral weight of each human being is more or less the same, and there are many more users than creators. Therefore, the well being of users is more important than the well being of creators. One tricky part here is the interplay between the two: unhappy creators my stop creating, making the users less happy in the process. Making creators miserable for the sake of users just plain doesn’t work. Anyway, restrictions on copy affects pretty much everyone, to be compared with the relatively low number of authors & content creators. So it’s not just the freedom of speech of one person against the interests of one author. It’s the freedom of speech of the entire audience against the interests of one author.

                      That fundamental asymmetry is what makes me most suspicious of restrictions on copy. When it was just a couple companies that owned a printing press, restrictions were more acceptable, because they restricted far fewer people. But now that we have the internet, the difference in scale is such that I think we can talk about a difference in kind.

                      I would much prefer to be able to tell the local Nazi party they are not allowed to use my photos as part of their propaganda

                      Certainly. Though in that particular case, it may be illegal for the local Nazi party to publish any propaganda. That would make the “don’t use my photo for this” part unnecessary.

                      How on earth could photographers find models, or models be prepared to seek work modeling, if their likeness could be digitally altered to appear in entirely unrelated work?

                      That’s actually a very good example of how catering to users exclusively may kill the Golden Goose. If your assumption is correct, a restriction on defacing (which would thus restrict the freedom of speech of pretty much everyone), would help the interest of the users, not just the photographer’s or the models. This would void the asymmetry I mentioned above, and makes freedom of speech comparatively less important than it looks.

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                        Thanks for expanding and explaining!

                        As I’ve mentioned before on this site, the current copyright/IP regime is probably suboptimal. But, just like the solution to economic inequality proposed by Marx and Engels - “abolish all property!” - is a step too far, entirely abolishing intellectual property is a hard sell.

                        I can both want to keep control of my creative output, and criticize Disney for extending copyright terms indefinitely. There’s got to be a balance between rabid copyright maximalists and people who believe everything on the internet is fair game.

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                          I don’t know what Marks and Engels said specifically, but I tend to favour something close: abolishing lucrative property. Or rather, making that property collective rather than individual. This requires a clear separation between usage property and lucrative property.

                          Let’s take for instance the example of a bakery in some middle sized city. First we consider its reach, so we can say who the stakeholders are, namely the bakers, and their customers. Abolishing lucrative property means the profits of the bakery goes back to “the people”. In this case the whole neighbourhood. (Said neighbourhood may collectively pay taxes to the town so it can funds the roads and schools, and the town can pay taxes to the state so it funds power plants, etc.) On the other hand, the bakers retain the usage property of the bakery: they decide how they’ll work in it. This can turn into a discussion of how much bread the bakers can (and are willing to) output, when the bakery opens. As for the price of the bread, the whole neighbourhood decides, based on the operating costs of the bakery, and whether the bakery should be subsidised or make a profit (and how much).

                          Generalise that to pretty much every industry, and you get something super-complicated where everyone has a real say in how things are ran. I’m not sure how practical this idea is, and people need to do their part for all of this to work. Still, similar systems have existed in the past, and have worked before some bigger state with an actual army reinstated capitalism.

                          entirely abolishing intellectual property is a hard sell.

                          Another technicality, but there’s no such thing as intellectual property. The proper term is intellectual monopoly. Property applies to rival goods only. If I take your chair, you can no longer sit on it. It’s a very poor analogy to ideas and expression thereof. I won’t forget a blog post I wrote just because someone else plagiarized it. I won’t lose an application just because someone copied it off my computer.

                          Copyright, trademarks and patents are all about state granted monopolies: the right to copy some works, the right to use some name, the right to apply some idea. Each have their reasons to exist (and personally, I’m not opposed to trademarks in principle), but we must keep in mind that they don’t work by protecting some property, but by granting some monopoly.

                          As for why we say “intellectual property” instead of “state granted monopoly”, I think the reason is obvious: the former sounds much more positive than the latter. We’ve pretty much all accepted that property is something good (Anarchy notwithstanding), and monopolies are something bad. Thus, depending how you say it:

                          • Intellectual property is a no brainer. The hard sell is to abolish it.
                          • State granted monopoly is itself a hard sell.
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                            A state granted monopoly is the generally accepted way to somehow equate ideas with the tangibility of property. Of course, in modern society access to tangible property is also mediated by the state, in that the state has a monopoly of prosecuting and punishing those accused of crime against property.

                            Most people intuitively agree with the notion that if an author spends significant time and energy creating a work, they should have some chance of recouping that cost through being the only person allowed to grant or sell access to that work for a certain period of time. People should be entitled to the fruits of their labor - why should intellectual labor be exempt?

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                              why should intellectual labor be exempt?

                              I don’t think it should, at least not any more than physical labour. Still, the rules should probably different, because of scarcity: once an intellectual work has been produced, it can be massively duplicated at virtually no cost. In my opinion, we should find ways to take advantage of that.

                              Copyright tries to recreate scarcity so traditional business models work on intellectual labour. To me this feels like a huge waste of resources.

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                    I also value that use of content respects the authors wishes. It’d be just as ugly if gaming of one system was replaced by the gaming of an another.

                    With copying it’s just that the enforcing is unavailable for most people except richer businesses that then are really strict about content. This is frustrating. At the same time industry abuses it all to control market and coerce their customers. It’s really time for this whole thing to explode at their face.

                    You sure you don’t want to know about the dynamics with fork/exec? You say there it’s absurd. I suppose that means you wouldn’t listen if I told what there seem to be going here. (you can also find it by looking at old reddit/hacker news post about that paper I linked to.)

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                      I agree that the current form of copyright in the West is suboptimal along a number of axes. But that doesn’t mean that I believe that the solution is to get rid of copyright altogether.

                      You sure you don’t want to know about the dynamics with fork/exec? You say there it’s absurd. I suppose that means you wouldn’t listen if I told what there seem to be going here. (you can also find it by looking at old reddit/hacker news post about that paper I linked to.)

                      My statement regarding that was implicitly a request for more information. I realize it might not has come off as that, for which I apologize.

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            Google does claim, without evidence, that some of the files in the project were copyrighted by Google

            I’m pretty sure that this is wrong, and that there were copyrighted files straight-up copied into the repository: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25080560

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              (disclosure: I work at Software Freedom Conservancy)

              The rest of the footnote you quoted contains the response to your comment: “recall that it’s typical for pro-DRM organizations to (incorrectly) claim that databases of keys or even keys themselves are independently copyrightable, and we strongly suspect that’s occurring here”. Just because Google puts a copyright notice at the top of a file does not mean that file is actually copyrightable.

              While we were preparing this blog post, I reviewed the file mentioned in your link and found that it was just a list of key-value pairs. So in the US (which is the relevant jurisdiction here, since we are talking about a DMCA takedown) that file is not copyrightable, per US case law such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feist_Publications,_Inc.,_v._Rural_Telephone_Service_Co. and others.

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              This proposal has no teeth and will do nothing. The same goes for any other “license” that allows corporations to use software with impunity to unreasonably control other people’s reasonable usage due to lack of enforcement. Copyright laws are abused right now so the abusers need to be fought off. People’s exchange of information does not an overbearing arbiter.

              The law (mostly DMCA) dictates what is required by users, service providers, creators and agents. Those are the rules of the game. We should play the game in a manner that ensures tech corporations cannot be on the same side as other large corporations, that judges cannot find a way to legally rule in their favor and that we have done nothing wrong.

              That’s it. That’s how we solve this problem.