May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« I Wish I Had a Government | Main | Find the Cognitive Dissonance »



The world is changing. Art is changing. You can no longer think of art and media the same way.

With that said. Here's my cognative dissonance...

Good people fight for fairness
Laws are unfair
I pay authors I deem worthy of payment

Whoa... wait those actions are totally within my character.

You have to understand Scott, maybe the reason your book was your first best-seller is BECAUSE it was leaked :-)

T1 Internet

Good article about copyright violation.


I'm finding a lot of these anti-copyright arguments childish. Our country believes creative works are of value to society. Copyright laws will change with technology; I don't think anyone disputes that. And society will figure out ways to protect creative works and still make them available via new technology. For instance, universities are setting up systems to enable students to legally download music.

Without copyright, I could write a novel, not find a publisher, put the novel on the web, and have some rich, well-connected individual take it, get it published, & make money from its sale. How does this copyrightless sequence of events favor anyone but the already privileged?

And so what if the work in question isn't of intrinsic value. Not everyone produces a good novel, painting, or concerto first time out, anyway. It takes training, practice, hard work, and evaluation by others to get to the top of your game.


Interestingly, the purpose of copyright/patent law is to encourage people to innovate (and make that knowledge public), yet in practice, copyright/patent law is only used to crush and limit competition. Could the former goal (encourage innovation) be achieved without limiting competition?

AV Srinivas

of course it's stealing!!!

you go to a restaurant, have lunch, PAY & then walk out, don't you?


I copied all your copyrighted works.

I copy all of the music that I listen to. For free, from the internet.

I download movies, for free.

There are millions of people like me, and as time goes on, the percentage of the population who do what I do is increasing.

We laugh at your kind. You're up there with puritans who tell kids not to drink and to abstain from sex until married. Irrelevant clap-trap spouted by self-interested control freaks.

There's nothing that you can do about us. You're impotent, we're everywhere, and soon, we'll be everyone. It's over. It's time to start seeing the world as it actually is, and not as you wish it to be.


What a copyright actually does is grant a monopoly. I write something, and the government grants me an exlusive monopoly so that for a time I can control it and profit from it and such. Said monopoly is given with the understanding that after a certain period of time, the work will then go into the public domain. Therefore, if a person uses my copyrighted material, he or she is not stealing. They are simply infringing on my monopoly status.


I'm glad to have found this entry. I have been discussing this with business associates. They believe using a cartoon strip in an internal business presentation is acceptable. I think it's a copyright violation. I'd be very interested to hear your view. Copyright law is so vague in some areas... the argument goes "I could leave the paper in the break room, and everyone could read it - so why can't I display the strip in my presentation on our quarterly results?"

Chris Ellis

Copyright infringement *isn't* theft. It doesn't make it right. It is wrong. But it is not stealing.

Robert Braun

Glad I stumbled onto this site while trying to calculate a monitory compensation for breach of copyright by a international publisher that I had been working for.
Where does one begin!

As a sculptor of dinosaurs and all things scientific and ancient I am at a loss as to what to request for use of images of my work used without my permission as well as
not being credited for my work over the past two years.
I have had advice regarding copyright law internationally as well as "droit moral" the equivalent of moral rights and false attribution of my work to other authors.
I cant afford legal action although I wish I could as this publisher needs to be taught a lesson. This will be the 2nd time I have experienced this from this publisher of books.

As I sculpt my life-size woolly rhinos mammoths and dinosaurs I think how I wish I had taken a condensed legal class on protecting artists copyright. I have never made a move without a contract... but even so how do you really protect yourself from copyright infringement.

If any of you illuminating minds have traveled down this road before ....any advice would be welcomed and much appreciated.

[email protected]
web site at:


copy paste option is breaking copyright
download option is breaking copyright
username and password is not breaking copyright
dvdrw is breaking copyright
internet is breaking copyright


Greetings Scott,

See also:



Although this post is a long time ago, I wanted to add a very good quote from Milton Friedman (very famous economist) about copyrights, just to give some perspective:
"The question of intellectual property rights is very complicated. Freedom of speech is the opposite of copyright, which means that you can't get copyright rights. And, intellectual property is different from physical property: in both cases, you have a monopoly but the monopoly on intellectual property is wholly different because duplicating the property comes generally at a very low or zero marginal cost. You are enforcing a monopoly pricing, as it were, that limits output to lower than the optimum social level. You cannot be in favor of infinite copyright. Essentially it's a problem of practical compromise, whether you have 17 years, 25 years, 10 years, 50 years."

Daniel Khoo

Imagine that I've written a book. It's my first book. I bring my manuscript to a publisher. After a week, it's returned to me. Rejected. It's a terrible book, not worth the paper it is printed on, they tell me. Dejected, I put it aside, and go do other things.

Four months later, I walk into a book shop and see my book. The same book, same title, same contents, word for word identical. But it's attributed to a different author. I confront the publisher, but they deny ever meeting me.

Now, *THAT* is stealing.

Let's say you opened an underwear shop, and show your underwears in the shop window. And me, from across the road, snap a photo of this underwear. I take this photo to a tailor, and tell him "I want 100 of these by next week". Next week, the underwears are ready. I collect them, and start selling them for 1/2 the price you charged. Is this stealing?

There is nothing inherently, morally, "right" about copyright restrictions. In fact, it is an evil, a monopoly we tolerate for a limited time, in order to promote progress. But if copyright is extended too far, as is gradually being done today, it starts to impede progress.

David Sleeter

Hi Folks:

As the author and self-publisher of a science-hobby book titled “Amateur Rocket Motor Construction”, I’ve become deeply concerned about the issue of copyright violation.

Published in 2004, my book has been in print for 3 years, and for a “niche” book, sales are strong and steady. If you Google the title, you’ll get maybe 2,000 hits. I have numerous retailers selling it on the Internet, and there are some good reviews on

This book was far more than just a writing project. I developed an entirely new way of making small, solid fuel rocket motors with simple hand-tools and readily available materials, thus making the construction of these motors accessible to science hobbyists and the general public.

In the process, I personally developed and tested the rocket fuel formulas, the motor designs, the homemade test equipment, and the tooling (I have a machine shop). I did all the writing, photography (a Canon 10-D with Photoshop Lite), the drawings (Design-Cad) and even the typesetting (Adobe Pagemaker), and the only things I jobbed-out were the cover art and tha actual printing.

It was a one-man project, it took 8 years, and out-of-pocket, I spent about $80,000.

At the age of 61, I’m now relying on book sales to recover my costs and provide me with a supplemental income, so I think I’m a prime example of someone who might be SEVERLY injured were the book to become available for free on the Internet.

Of course I’d like to increase sales, so I’ve become interested in Amazon’s “Search Inside” program, but I have the following concerns.

1. By joining the program, I’d give Amazon the right to make a digital copy of the entire book, and electronically publish selected pages that THEY chose to publish (I have NO control). By periodically changing the chosen pages, THEORETICALLY they might eventually publish all or most of the pages in digital format, and a patient person could eventually accumulate the entire book in digital format.

2. The only digital copies of my book CURRENTLY in existence are in a safe-deposit box at my bank, and an equivalent “lock-up” at the company that printed the book.

If I let Amazon make a digital copy, I have to trust them to guard it securely, and how good IS their security? I’d hate to hear on Fox News that a disgruntled employee has hacked into their data base and stolen digital copies of all the books in their “Search Inside” program. In today’s world, this is a REAL possibility, the only question possibly being not “if”, but “when”.

3. If the book WERE to be digitized and stolen, how would it effect my sales; my bottom line? The main factor in this regard might be its size, because at 8-1/2″ x 11″ x 1″ thick with 528 pages, it’s BIG.

It would be inconvenient to read a book that size on a coputer screen, and printing a copy would take a ream of paper and a considerable amount of time. The book currently retails for $29.95 (I might increase it to $34.95), and at THAT price, considering the trouble and expense of making a copy, potential thiefs might opt to just buy the damn thing.

4. Does Amazon’s “Search Inside” program WORK? Will it increase my sales? In this regard, I’d like to hear about the experiences of authors and publishers who have joined the “Search Inside” program, Is the program working for YOU, and has it proven to be worth the risks I mentioned above? My thanks in advance for any helpful advice you can provide.

David Sleeter


Chances are, most people who are disagree with Scott's stance have never created anything with the intent of making a living off their creations.

Those of you who have, please post where your property or content can be downloaded or picked up for distribution by the masses.

Even with all the free promotion you receive, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll make a living off it. Because these are the questions you will need to answer to if it becomes popular:

Do you have the time to keep creating content?
Do you have the money to keep producing the content on merchandise or traditional forms of media? (this is where the money is - as well know digital distribution won't insure an income for you)
Are you willing to accept that you'll possibly have to keep working your regular job for the rest of your life because what your creations won't support you?
Do you REALLY love your regular job?

It's OK not to be creative or have an original idea at any point in your life. The world needs that to keep running. It's also wonderful to share you talents for free. But, blame it on capitalism, that's not the way things work for most people who invent, write, paint, etc.

But, for people like Scott, who gives back by not retiring (like Gary Larson or Bill Watterson) and still giving us something to look forward to everyday on the internet or newspaper, the least you can do is tell your pals when pass along his book to introduce him, "Hey, borrow it as long as you like. But when I ask for it back, consider buying it. You'll want to read it again on a bad day at the office."

As far as length of copyright goes, it should last as long as the artist ("artists" for each member of a music group) is alive. Their offspring and siblings should learn how to make their own damn money.

Michael Griffiths

I object to the word stealing, more than anything else, when talking about copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement is NOT a victimless crime (people like to delude themselves into justifying their behavior). But stealing implies an immediate, direct negative that goes beyond copyright infringement - a loss of actual investment, not future profit.

I happen to think copyright terms are far, far too long. I don't think it's justified for an author to retain control for 70 years AFTER death. Indeed, I'd prefer it to be the original 14 years - directly comparable to patents. There remains an incentive to create, but then there's a further incentive to keep creating so you don't run out of copyrighted content.

Copyright should exist; but in its current form, it's simply damaging.

Jean Gauthier

Is the Big Mac receipe being copyrighted? I don't care, I bought Big Mac. Is a pornographic movie copyrighted, I probably care, but I don't buy it. I don't have money to spend for that even if I want to watch one. I think this is unfair for all of the author that don't receive the full extend of their works.
You are right about cognitive dissonnance. It is hard to fight. But I have to tell I stole much: music, movie and most of all computer games. I wish I was rich enough to support my virtual life style. Stoling on the internet is so easy, in the confort of our house by the way!

tim shepard

Yeah, it would be nice if I could become a millionaire from my hen scratchings because Walt Disney Co. paid millions of dollars to our Congress to pass laws taxing the people who want to look at them. Sigh, such is not my case, who cares about you.


Sure its stealing, just like stealing office supplies from the workplace, it's all part of the "Total Compensation Plan" you so amusingly suggested in one of your cartoons which was reproduced in a book of a collection of reproduced cartoons. Which I bought.

Matt Wardman

Ramon Casha:
- "When you violate a copyright, you take something valuable from the copyright owner that he can’t get back."
- I stopped reading after that.

Some people just can't face the facts.



I know friend who downloaded your Dilbert comics from 1993 to 2005. And if you released an electronic version of those same comic they wouldn't buy them. They already downloaded them.


Just because I have free and immediate access to a thing doesn't mean I suddenly have no intentions of supporting the author. I understand that without financial support, tasty morsels won't continue to come down the conveyor belt. That's why I, after downloading episodes of TV that I like, go out and buy the DVDs. If I listen to an album I downloaded more than a couple of times, I buy it. That's not some friend I knew once who bought *an* album compared to his tens of thousands of illicit songs.

I downloaded a torrent of Dilbert comics from 1993 to 2005, but I also own some books, calendars, and whatnot. And you know what? If you released an electronic version of those same comics, I'd buy it. You still have the abillity to one-up that sort of distribution. You can package it nicely, have a nice viewer for them (not thousands of images in one big directory). You could tag them, so people could search, by words that appear in the comic, or by themes. You could find ways to make it interesting and relevant to your potential consumers. But if you want to give up and say the internet beat you, well that's your prerogative too.


Just another rich white guy trying to get richer.
As others have pointed out IP comes from

Section 8 of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes your legal right to copyright your creative works:

“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;”

“..securing for limited times…”

The key here is to promote progress. One could just as easily argue that rather then let a few individuals get very wealthy off of IP that all artist should share or that by keeping creative types desperately poor, more would be created. This discussion has nothing to do with promoting progress and everything to do with personal profit.

There are lots of artist out there who are just as talented and happy for the attention. People should support them.

The Ferrari analogy was a more prescient then he may realize. Look at (fab@home). In the not too distant future we will be able to reproduce atoms just as we reproduce electrons. At that point everything will become open source, whether the “IP Owners” like it or not.

So Scott, did you get permission from Captian Underpants' creator to use the term?


* When you violate a copyright, you take something valuable from the copyright owner that he can’t get back. You take his right to control where his creation is viewed and how.

What about my right to Fair Use? I have the right to view my purchase wherever and however I want. What if I buy a copy of your book, but I prefer reading PDFs on a computer, and I download "pirated" scans?

Also, consider that copyright infringement does not equate to a lost sale. Most people who flagrantly infringe on copyrights weren't going to buy the item in the first place; so, you never would have had that sale to lose.

And, some infringe because it is the easiest way to find what you want. You lost that sale by not offering it in the format that they wanted, and not because it was available on the Internet.

* After I published my first best-selling book, The Dilbert Principle, within days it had been illegally scanned and was widely available on the Internet for free. Technically speaking, it wasn’t theft. But I still lost something. I (and my publisher) lost the ability to decide if, when, and how to publish as an e-book. You can’t compete with “free and immediate.”

Bollocks. You can compete with "free, immediate, illegal" with "not-free, immediate, legal". Just because some people will always turn to free and illegal does not automatically mean that everyone will ignore your not-free and legal alternative.

You didn't lose the ability to publish as an e-book. Of course, the e-book DRM would have probably held you back, and I bet if you sold unprotected versions on your site you would generate some nice revenue.

The only thing you lost was the will to release a legal alternative to the pirated copies floating around online, because you don't think anyone would want your legally endorsed version when a free, illegal version exists. I bet your fans are thanking you for thinking so highly of them.

The comments to this entry are closed.