Archive for November, 2005

The End of Copyright

November 29th, 2005

Thought the Super Squirrel Lawyer might find this one interesting.

The End of Copyright by Ernest Adams
I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of a major era in world history. It may take fifty years, it may take a hundred, but the age of copyright is drawing to a close. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s inevitable. And I say this as the author of two books and over 75 columns like this one, all copyrighted.

Just 550 years ago this year, a guy named Johann Gutenberg figured out how to make large quantities of metal type in a hurry. He didn’t invent printing, the Chinese had been doing that with wooden blocks for centuries, but he did find a way to make it fast and efficient. Gutenberg changed the world and helped to bring on the Renaissance.

There were no copyright laws at that point. Before the printing press, books in Europe were copied by hand, and having someone go to the trouble of copying your book was about the highest praise an author could get. But with the printing press, the concept of intellectual property was born. Over the next two centuries or so, copying books went from being high praise to being a crime. As printing presses were large and heavy i.e. difficult to conceal and difficult to move, it wasn’t all that hard to prosecute the offenders. The smaller and faster they got, though, the tougher it became.

I’m old enough to remember when photocopiers became commonplace. At first, there used to be signs in libraries, warning the users against duplicating copyrighted material, any copyrighted material, ever. But people did it anyway. They didn’t think they were doing any harm, and they weren’t planning to sell the copy, they just needed it for their own use.

When enough people feel that it’s OK to do a thing, that thing ceases to be wrong in their own cultural context. You can complain about moral relativism all you like, but the facts are inescapable: that’s how people behave. When the photocopier came along, people simply didn’t think it was wrong to copy a few pages out of a book, even though it was against the law and the authors would have preferred that they buy the whole book. So eventually, the Fair Use doctrine evolved with respect to copyright materials. The law changed. It’s now OK to photocopy parts of books for educational, non-commercial use. In effect, the authors and book publishers had to give some ground in the face of the overwhelming tide of public opinion.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

On June 27, 2005, the US Supreme Court decided to hold companies that make file-sharing software responsible for copyright infringements perpetrated by the software’s users. Everyone expected that they would rule as they did when Universal City Studios sued Sony over the Betamax in 1984: there were legitimate uses of the technology, and it shouldn’t be held responsible simply because it can be used unlawfully. Instead, however, they ruled that file-sharing software actively encourages piracy and the makers should be held accountable.

The Supreme Court’s action has done the exact opposite of what MGM and the other content distributors who brought the suit hoped it would. File-sharing software will become open-source and public domain. File-sharing will continue to grow ever more popular, but now there will be no one to sue. The Supreme Court’s ruling hasn’t even delayed the inevitable; it has actually brought it closer.

There’s no intrinsic reason why someone should continue to get paid for something long, long after the labor they expended on it is complete. Architects don’t get paid every time someone steps into one of their buildings. They’re paid to design the building, and that’s that. The ostensible reason we have patent and copyright law is, as the US Constitution says, “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” But travesties like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act don’t promote the progress of science; they actively discourage it. So do software and biotechnology patents. The patent system was intended to allow inventors to profit for a limited time on particular inventions, not to allow huge technology companies to put a stranglehold on innovation by patenting every tiny advance they make.

Right now, the music and movie industries are howling and beating their breasts and doing their best to go after anybody who violates their copyrights on a large scale. The fury with which they’re doing it is a measure of their desperation. The Sony rootkit debacle is a perfect example: in an effort to prevent piracy, they secretly installed dangerous spyware into people’s PCs, which itself may have been a criminal act. This was about the dumbest public-relations move since Take-Two lied about the Hot Coffee content, and as with Take-Two, it will cost them vastly more than they could hope to gain from it. Did they really think nobody would find out?

The lawsuits, the spyware, the DMCA: these are the death struggles of an outdated business model. It’s the modern-day equivalent of throwing the Christians to the lions in an effort to discourage Christianity. It didn’t work for the ancient Romans and it won’t work now.

Part of the issue is related to the question of how much money it took to create a copyrighted work in the first place. With books and music, the answer is simply, “not that much.” Forget notions of what their rights may be in law; the idea that a band or an author should be paid millions upon millions over the next several decades for something that it cost them at most a few thousand dollars to make, just feels silly to most people. You’ll notice that it’s the megastars who are fighting the hardest over this in music, Madonna, Metallica, and so on. They’re the ones who stand to lose the most. But the smaller, less well-known groups are embracing new business models for distributing their music. They’re like authors back before the printing press: “Copy my music and listen to it! Please!”

Movies and video games are more problematic. They take millions to make in the first place and a good many of them don’t earn back their investment, even with full copyright protection in place. If we’re going to go on making video games, the publishers have to find a way to make them pay for themselves. One approach is an advertising model, although I’m reluctant to say it because I hate the idea of ads in games. Another is to treat games as a service rather than a product. With broadband distribution, I think this is increasingly likely: you won’t ever have a durable copy of a game, you’ll download it every time you play it. Each instantiation will be unique, personalized for a particular machine and Internet address; encrypted to discourage hacking; and expires after a few hours. After that you’ll have to download a new copy.

Yet another model is the donor model: somebody who is known for creating great work can collect up donations in advance; when he has collected enough to fund the work, he builds it, and releases the game copyright-free when it’s finished. The donors will have paid and everyone else gets it for nothing, but they get it first and perhaps some special recognition for their contribution. I’d be happy to put down $40 two years in advance for a new Sid Meier game, particularly if I knew it would be released copyright-free when it came out. And I bet a lot of other fans of Sid’s work would say the same.

The donors have to trust that the developer will finish it, of course; but this is effectively how freeware development works now. Somebody makes a name for themselves with a piece of freeware; they ask for donations; the donations help to fund further work on a new version. So far it has only been tried on a small scale, but, as the mobile and casual games are showing us, there’s still plenty of demand for small scale games in the world.

(A variant of this system, pioneered by cyberspace engineer Crosbie Fitch, is already in place for music, except that people give pledges rather than donations. When the musician releases the work, she collects all the pledges made towards it. See for details. Credit where it’s due: I first heard about this whole idea from Crosbie.)

In short, there are a heck of a lot of ways to recover the development and marketing costs of video games besides trying to sell individual physical copies and prevent their duplication. That system is awkward, wasteful, and theft-prone. It supports too many middlemen and, like Prohibition, puts money in the pockets of some very nasty gangsters.

Of course, some alternative distribution models still rely on copyright, and publishers will still be trying to prevent people from redistributing their content. But sooner or later that model is doomed. The perceived value of a thing is inversely proportional to the ease with which it can be duplicated. If the public simply refuse to acknowledge that copying books or movies or software is wrong, then in a democracy, it will eventually cease to be wrong. People elect the legislators, and legislators make the laws.

Does the end of copyright mean that books or music or movies or games will die? Of course not. The urge to create is too strong in all of us, and consumers will always be willing to pay for novelty and for excellence. It may mean that nobody gets mega-wealthy any more. What it does mean for sure is that the giant dinosaurs that currently dominate the distribution channels had better learn to adapt or die. There are a lot of fast-moving little mammals in the underbrush eating the dinosaurs’ eggs.

And fifty years from now, kids will be asking, “What does that © symbol mean in this old book, Grandpa?”

Original Article


November 23rd, 2005

Mildly confused, slightly annoyed, but most importantly:

Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off!

Fake FBI/CIA Email

November 22nd, 2005

This just popped up today, the guys were extreamly busy with it this morning before I got in to work. It drew enough attention even the FBI put up a message on their website more than likely cause they got the phone number right. I can only imagine how many calls they had to deal with this morning. Anyways, for interest sake, here is the body of the email. Please be warned, for all those pc noobs, yes, your pc is now infected because you have read this email in my blog.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.

Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.

Yours faithfully,
Steven Allison
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Room 3220
Washington , DC 20535
Phone: (202) 324-30000

Fun with viruses!  I can only image what will happen to the guy that wrote it if he gets caught.

Tourist Admits She Tried to Open Airplane Door

November 22nd, 2005

This is why drugs are bad mmkay

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – A French woman who is terrified of flying admitted in an Australian court Monday that she drunkenly tried to open an airplane door mid-flight to smoke a cigarette.

Sadrine Sellies, 34, was placed on a good behaviour bond after pleading guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court to endangering the safety of an aircraft. Sellies was travelling on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to the east coast city of Brisbane on Saturday when the incident occurred at the start of a three-week Australian vacation with her husband, the court heard.

She walked toward one of the aircraft’s emergency exits with an unlit cigarette and a lighter in her hand and began tampering with the door, prosecutors said. But a flight attendant intervened and took Sellies back to her seat.

Sellies was arrested and charged by police on arrival at Brisbane airport.

Defence lawyer Helen Shilton told the court Sellies was terrified of flying and had taken sleeping tablets with alcohol before takeoff.

Shilton said Sellies has no memory of what happened on the flight and that she has a history of sleepwalking.

But Magistrate Gordon Dean sternly warned the woman: “You must understand, if you are on a plane you must behave yourself.”

Sellies, who did not speak in court and was aided by a translator, was placed on a 1,000 Australian dollar ($734 US) bond – meaning she will have to pay that amount if she commits another offence in the next 12 months.

Original link:

RIP Mr. Fridge

November 20th, 2005

So my fridge died this weekend. Lost all my food. Not a big terrible problem just annoying more than anything. Hopefully my landlord will call me back soon letting me know he is replacing it.

I got to see Dustin and Lindsey briefly Friday night and greatly enjoyed our twenty minute breakfast. Some people have all the luck. The bastards.

I wanted to go serenading with the chapter tonight, but I don’t know if I feel up to it now. Sulking in my room sounds more promising to me right now. That and I have to figure out what I’m going to eat for the next few days till I go home for Thanksgiving. I can’t go out to eat today cause I have no cash, so I’m probably gonna have to go grocery shopping again today, which is probably the last thing I want to do today. Bah! Life is a bitch. But its like they say: When God gives you lemons, thow them at other people and hope that the juice gets in their eyes.

That stings motherfuckers. Version 5.31 Release

November 17th, 2005

Thats right folks, nothin to major, just a little update to the layout to make it look a little nicer. I’ll be finishing up the forum a little later. There is also a new MP3 of the week. It’s only been seven days since the last one right?

Anyways I hope you enjoy. I’m off for a bit to find something else to do.


November 16th, 2005

I have today off, I woke up at noon. It’s already 1pm and I’m bored. There is stuff I need to be doing today, like cleaning, shopping for groceries, doing some other errands, working out. But I don’t honestly feel like doing any of them. I don’t feel like sitting around here either. So maybe I will do all those things, once I get some lunch.

Been listening to alot of Foo Fighters lately. That’s fucking odd. I just got a call from someone at Corecomm, I didn’t recognize who it was. They wanted to know if I’d like to make some extra money. Sure I said, what are we talking about here I inquire. He then asks me about my school background, and then asks me to meet him tonight at Denny’s to go over the details. Ok I said. So I can see one of three things happening.

1. He’s gay, and I’m getting raped.
2. He’s not gay, and I’m getting raped.
3. It’s a pyramid scheme.

Well anyways, I’m off for some food now, and I will leave you with Generator by the Foo Fighters

Lately I’m getting better
Wish I could stay sick with you
But there’s too many egos left to bruise
Call it sin, you can call it whatever
Eating deep inside of you
Well if it were me, it’s all I’d ever do
Steal me now and forever
I’ll steal something good for you
The criminal in me is no one new
Till you find something better
When there’s nothing left to use
And everything starts going down on you
I’m the Generator, firing whenever you quit
Yeah whatever it is, you go out and it’s on
Yeah can’t you hear my motored heart
You’re the one that started it
Send me out on a tether
Swing it round, I’ll spin your noose
You let it downI’ll hang around with you
Till you find someone better
When there’s no one left to use
And everyone keeps going down
I’m the Generator, firing whenever you quit
Yeah whatever it is, you go out and it’s on
Yeah can’t you hear my motored heart
You’re the one that started it
I’m the Generator, firing whenever you quit
Yeah whatever it is, you go out and it’s on
Yeah can’t you hear my motored heart
You’re the one that started it
I’m the Generator
Yeah can’t you hear my motored heart
You’re the one that started it

Goose and Squirrel

November 14th, 2005

It was goose and squirrel time this weekend, and goose looked down upon it and was pleased. We got to see two terrific new Brothers join our Fraternity, and we got to p0wn it up on the beer pong table. I’m so glad he was able to come and spend time with me, it was exactly what I needed. Hopefully I will be able to get next Friday off so I can hang out with him and Lindsey again.

In other news predictability can suck my dick. But I guess everything is as it is suppose to be. The world is in a state of normalicy, so I probably shouldn’t be upset. I got Batman Begins this weekend from Netflix. This makes me happy because I enjoyed Katie Holmes. The movie isn’t too bad either.

A Song For You

November 11th, 2005

“I’ve been so many places
in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs
and I’ve made some bad climbs
I’ve acted out my life in stages
with ten thousand people watching
Oh, but we’re alone now
and I’m singing this song for you
I know your image of me is what I hope to be,
I’ve treated you unkindly
Oh, but Darling can’t you see that,
there’s no one more important to me
Baby, baby, can’t you see through me,
’cause we’re alone now
And I’m singing this song to you,
you taught me precious secrets
Of a true love withholding nothing,
you came out in front
When I was hiding,
yeah, yeah, but now its so much better
If my words don’t quite come together,
please listen to the melody
‘Cause my love is in there somewhere hiding
I love you in a place where there is no space or time,
I love you for my life
You are a friend of mine, and when my life is over
Remember, remember, remember when we were together
And we are alone now, and I was singing this song to you
We were alone, and I was singing, yeah singing
We were alone, and I was singing this song for you
Singing my song, I’m singing my song for you”

Paul McCartney Beamed Into Space

November 11th, 2005

Thats right, the space station is getting Paul Live. The first live broadcast to space supposedly. Sounds like a pretty nice thing to do for the astronauts up there. I’ll post a couple of links to the story. The first is more like a blog, and I love how it is written.

But in case you want a real news source feel free to check out the version of the story abc put out.

And just so you know, yes, I was being sarcastic. Needless to say, this is a shameless publicity stunt. Not that thats a bad thing. We do live in a time where we have Presidents shamelessly plugging the end of their wars. Zing!