May 2008

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Comments

JohnB

Right up front, I started a company (www.9thxchange.com) that is trying to make most people in the battle happy (we know not everyone will be). Here is what we do & why letting Consumers re-sell copyrighted materials will benefit the creator and subsequent buyers.

The 9thXchange has developed a breakthrough feature that enables the collection and disbursement of royalties on the sale, re-sale, auction and rental of digital products without infringing on applicable intellectual property or ownership rights.

The Company model is a transaction business model, all products are for sale and do not include advertising as part of any digital file.

Digital products of any kind, including video, ring tones, software, music, games, cartoons, documents and digital memorabilia can be bought, sold, and traded on the company’s retail website, www.9thX.com, or any website licensing the company’s platform allowing for legal member to member selling of any digital file across affiliated Websites.

John

Bunderfeld

Scott, I first learned of Dilbert from a friend, who had one of your most earliest books. I took his book without his permission when he was out of town and I was watching his place and read it. I'm must admit I had a great laugh, and because I "stole and contributed to your loss of control", I then went out and PURCHASED your whole set of books.

Imagine what it would be like if no one could share property and everyone had to learn how funny you were by luck.

Joe

So just where does everyone get off? It's ok to take simply because the artist has "enough money"? How about they don't like paying for the processing by the record companies? How about this. You all get paid enough. I don't care if you are working at McD's or at an Executive Law Firm. You should be paid your minimum wage, because that's all you're time is worth!

But that's not fair, you say! How dare I take money away from you because while I like your work, I don't like paying for it. It's different because you're not a multi-millionaire. It's different because you work for your money, right? News flash, so do they. The record companies produce and promote. Their employees do thousands upon thousands of other tasks. Here's a list of jobs that shouldn't get paid, by all of your assumptions:
1. All military that are not Combat Arms (i.e. Supply, communications, intelligence, etc)
2. call center personnel (it's available for free online anyways, right)
3. tv stations (they just broadcast the show. They don't actually write it
4. Actors (again, they don't write the show. They just act it out for you)
5. The production facilities for Pharmaceutical companies (they didn't create the medicine, they just copy it)
6. Car manufacturers (again, the money should go to the prototype designers and engineers, and no one else)

Has this alienated enough of you yet?

If not, here's some more:

You need to take a close look at what you like, love, want and need. These things all cost. Nothing is actually free of VALUE. Everything has some value assigned to it, whether it be by you or someone else. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's wrong.

Let's consider job outsourcing. It's easy to see people pissed off because their jobs got sent overseas. What? You wanted MORE money to do the same job Mike in India will do for less than half?!? HA! No way, bub. I'm giving mike the job and letting you sit on the street because YOU ARE NOT WORTH IT I don't see the VALUE in your work!

What is so hard about work = pay ?
I make something, you want it. there are a few options:
1. I give it to you
2. I sell it to you
3. I let you borrow it
4. I do neither, and you take it anyways.

3 is the current copyright protection law
4 is theft.

Figure it out, and come back to me when you've removed your heads from between your expanding cheeks

Ramon Casha

The underpants analogy you mentioned is flawed, because there is an ickiness factor involved. Instead, why not use the analogy of a pen. Someone comes up to your desk in your absence and without your permission, picks up your pen, writes something with it and leaves it back where it was. To make the analogy more apt, let's say your business is to sell pens - so the person who borrowed your pen might be a lost opportunity to sell a pen.

The recording industry (mostly) keeps preaching its propaganda about lost sales, although their figures are based on the assumption that if piracy didn't exist, everyone who currently owns a pirated copy would have bought the item at retail price.

Frankly, when I'm told by the likes of the RIAA about the poor artists who won't be able to afford another $400M home in Southern France because of those nasty pirates, I'm not too moved. Of course it's not the small-town band who plays in your local pub who gets hit by piracy for the most part - in fact most small-time groups, musicians and artists would be thrilled to know that one of their songs is being propagated worldwide - even if they're not profiting directly from it.

Since copyright existed, the producers of the material have always had a percentage of copy for which they were not paid. Since Philips invented the tape cassette in 1963, kids have been recording music off radios, LPs and other tapes, sharing them, copying them, and so on. The music industry back then tried (and failed) to sue manufacturers of dual-deck cassette recorders, or shops which rented out cassettes and sold blank tapes. Despite all this rampant piracy, the music industry continued to grow and thrive. When JVC invented the VHS tape in 76, again the industry howled that this would bring the end of cinema, television and indeed of the sense of sight itself. We saw the video tape arrive, went through the video format wars, saw VHS emerge as the winner, saw video tapes embraced by the industry and finally, saw the whole thing being supplanted by the latest craze - DVDs - and the film industry continued growing throughout. They also told us again that DVDs would bring the end of cinema, and yet we're approaching the next new format after DVDs and cinema is still as popular. And let us not forget the photocopier. They predicted that book sales would slump. They didn't. Newspapers were none too keen on embracing the web. If they put up their content on websites, nobody would buy the printed version. Again they were wrong. There are some things about putting your newspaper folded under your coffee and biscuits that just don't work as well with a CRT monitor.

So please, cut it with the scaremongering and the tugging at the heartstrings. It don't work any more. Too many false alarms.

Peter Rock

"When you violate a copyright, you take something valuable from the copyright owner that he can’t get back."

I stopped reading after that.

Chuck Bunnell

Hey, you're blogging software is not attaching the author information with the correct post. Good thing I'm in relative agreement with the post where my name landed. Oh, the author information lands on the next post's content.

Eric the Red

except I don't put my underwear for sale in the public and free marketplace. And for much of the digital content, it would be as if there magically were a million copies of that underwear without incurring extra cost.

I'm not saying stealing is right, I am saying the current content industry is wrong.

Gaybert

This is why everyone should go commando!

Jordan

Note, copying material is wrong. But as to whether it harms the artist, well, I could go on a little spiel about copyright and authors if I really wanted to, and while it would be coherent my own persuasive abilities are not up to par with a master essayist. So instead I will point you to one such on the matter.
http://www.baen.com/library/home.htm
As for evidence, well, they note the sales increase. Not to mention the emails and letters
http://www.baen.com/library/palaver.htm
There is also a rather interesting speech on copyright which was written in 1841, and which was the basis for modern copyright up until the Walt Disney Corporation got involved.
http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm

All that being said, yes copyright infrigement is not the nicest thing in the world. It's wrong. However, you're not gonna stop it, not unless you simply stop producing. Which would sorta defeat the purpose after all. Essentially, the amount of copyright infringement that will go on is in line with the amount of time you or your publisher is willing to eradicate it, and there will always be a minimum amount, especially with images. So at this point the question becomes, will you attempt to do the impossible, or will you make the phenomenon work for you and spread dilbert as far as you can, which will in the long run increase sales anyway.

Eric Grayson

The problem with this copyright argument is that it covers the middle ground on one side and the extreme on the other.

It's pretty easy to see that Scott loses a lot of money if people indiscriminately trade copies of his work that are as good as the originals all over the internet. That's the extreme case, where he has no control, he has the original materials, he owns the rights, he wants to make the works available, and his work is being stolen.

It's then easy to cast the owner as a wronged individual who has a little halo over his head and empty (or emptier) pockets than he should have.

But let's look at a real-world example of the opposite extreme to see how the laws cut both ways and how they can hurt real exchange.

Let's say that the work can't be copied indiscriminately over the internet, the owner has no good copies, the owner has no intention of making the work available in any form, and someone finds a copy, would like to share it with others, would like to pay a royalty and the owner says NO, threatening legal action to confiscate the work.

Scott would likely argue that the owner has an absolute right to deny use of his property and that the property right trumps all other rights. I say baloney. Here's the real-world scenario.

I collect and restore old motion picture films. I discovered a film print of a Bob Hope picture that had only been released to television during the late 1950s. It was abandoned property in an old television station, about to be thrown in the trash. I got it, rescued the chemical decomposition in the print, and made it projectable again. By the way, property law is on my side for this being abandoned property, like trash, not stolen property. If it's been sitting unused in a TV station for 30 years (and may have even been bought outright by said station) and they pitch it out, then it's trash, and I'm free to take it. Look up the law.

The studio that owns the intellectual property of this print (this is like owning a book: I may own the physical paper it's printed on, but I don't own the intellectual rights to read it aloud in a public performance or make more copies), has no copy of this film, has never released it on video, has no intentions of releasing it on video, has no intention of releasing it to theaters or making prints available to theaters, etc.

Therefore, when I was approached by a not-for-profit agency to run this print for a non-public performance for essentially a group of academics, I said that we have to clear it with the copyright owner. They had a CONNIPTION! How dare you have this! Some evil collector has this print! We don't want to clear this at all. We don't want to allow you to play this film because evil people got it from us illegally, none of which was actually true.

The fact is that I would gladly share this print with the copyright owner or a public archive (I do this all the time), but I have no intention of surrendering something I've lavished time, care, and money upon. At no time was I considering copying this print, making any kind of illegal distribution, etc.

The other fact is that by exercising their legal right to deny me the chance to screen this print, they are denying people the chance to study the art of one of the 20th Century's most beloved comedians, some neglected work of one of the 20th Century's most revered composers, and ultimately not helping themselves at all?

The question is whether they have an absolute right to deny all access to their art when they have not taken many steps to preserve it. On the one side, we can understand that Scott may want to restrict access of materials he has preserved and is making available, but do you nix access to a work entirely and shirk your implied responsibility to preserve it?

The copyright laws were intended to protect creators' rights and allow them to be paid when their works were in the "marketplace of ideas." Alas, these rights have been extended to works (like this Bob Hope picture) that are far beyond the time period where they are profitable to make available in the marketplace.

I would argue that the owner studio is doing a disservice to the marketplace of ideas intended by our founding fathers.

Ultimately, they agreed to let us run the film, and charged a royalty so high to do it that it practically bankrupted the not-for-profit organization. We didn't issue a thank-you in our program notes.

You may argue that the rights to intellectual property include the rights to deny all use of the work whatever, but that is against the intent of the copyright laws.

Copyright is a double-edged sword, and I've been cut by both sides. I hope in sixty years that someone cares enough about Dilbert to keep master copies preserved and make them available for future generations. Bob Hope has no such champion.

Eric

Jr

Hey, i agree with you scott in that the person who photocopied and provided on the internet the Dilbert Principle has stolen from you. But what has he stolen from you? Future dollars? I guess that's it.

So, does that mean I can go and arrest random people because they might steal from me? :)

Sounds like the 'Minority Report'!!

TG

Ahh, that's what happens when you don't read ahead :)

I didn't see your April 8th post about cognitive dissonance until now, so please disregard my earlier post. You were obviously more interested in making fun of people than the topic at hand.

Yes, I can certainly see how irrational it is for ordinary stupid people like us to point fingers at an artificial system of flawed laws that discourage competition, allow monopolies to thrive and have been so perverted since their starting point that they are now used to stop innovation and to protect aging business models that have become completely invalidated by the invention of the internet.

TG

'You can’t compete with “free and immediate.”'

Uhh, yes. Yes you can. The only reason people fail at doing exactly this is that they don't want to adapt. From your own example you could have released an e-book along with the actual book. The scanned piracy would still have happened, but the impact of it would have been much less if people could just click a Buy Now! button on your website and download the e-book right away. The convenience-factor is alpha and omega on the internet.

The difficulty that publishers of books/movies/music/anything have to overcome is that people want everything *now* on the internet. Right now. Not tomorrow, not next month when it is officially released in their country, or anything like that -- they want it the instant they hear about it.
If you don't provide that, the black market will.

Maybe you would have *liked* to wait 5 years before pushing out an e-book with enough DRM in it to lock down all the content to your own satisfaction, but as you said yourself that's just not the reality of the market.

You can't just keep bemoaning the fact that the market doesn't act exactly the way you want it to, that's what the RIAA and MPAA have perfected to an artform by now. You're the one who has to adapt your business model to the market or you will run head to head with problems like "free and immediate".


Recently a bunch of software vendors tried to sue the Open Source business model and make it illegal to give away things for free, their argument being that it was incompatible with capitalism. (I know that publishing a GPLed 'Dolbert' comic with the same jokes would be an alternative, not piracy, but bear with me here).
What was interesting was the judge's reason for dismissing the suit. He said that even if software programs just as good as theirs were available for free, people would still buy their products.

I think this perfectly demonstrates the view of the majority of society. People will gladly pay for something that they believe have value to them even when they can get it for free. A lot of open source software projects survive on donations alone, another example of people *willingly paying* for a product that they could just grab for free even when doing so is legal and encouraged.

You will also notice how these people are happy departing with their money because they feel that they are helping to support the creators who make it happen. As compared to people who begrudgingly spend money on online music that they can only play on specialized hardware and aren't allowed to make backups of, simply because they feel that they want that song.
When was the last time you bought a CD and thought, "Hey, I only wanted two songs on this, but by buying the whole thing, at least I'm supporting the artist!" ?

The legal/illegal aspect is *secondary* to people's desire to obtain something, and secondary to their willingness to pay for it, and the only reason there is such a huge black market of everything is that very, very few companies are willing to change their business models to both accommodate and take advantage of the immediate, worldwide digital distribution platforms.

Again, convenience is the overwhelming key factor. If I can click a button and get cheap music and film downloads that are not ridiculously DRM-restricted to the point where I have to tie them to a separate computer that will never be upgraded or changed in any way just for me to enjoy the content I've bought, then I'm not going to go through the trouble to find the stuff on an illegal network.

What drives the black market is the misconception that you can make more money if you just control your customers' entire computer and lock down your content, rather than distribute your content everywhere you can and get as many people as possible to buy it. Companies are using DRM to keep their empire from shrinking rather than working to expand it.

Dave K.

Good points. And I agree. But this is the land of the free, underwritten culture, where corporations pay the way for consumers on many information and entertainment fronts. Consumers feel an entitlement to receive value at a steep, steep discount. Television, newspapers and websites without sponsors would not exist. Radio as a communication format did not take off until drivetime was "discovered" and sponsors piled on.

So people think nothing of snatching copyrighted material for free and redistributing it without thinking anything of it. There is no rationalization needed; it is a response to our information and economic system in action.

It is my opinion that it does not even get to the point of thinking about it for folks. Napster ia an excellent example.

Now if Dilbert were to get a major corporate sponsor, you would not have to worry about all this copyright business. Sell the cash flows of the strip (plus a distribution premium)to Coca Cola or Dow Chemical and your worries are over.

Hmmm, there may be details of this plan that I haven't thought through completely.

Keith Nicholas

In general, theres not a lot stopping you from copying anything you see or hear, and if it is encoded digitally, then its a heck of a lot easier. It doesn't take away anything tangible from anyone.

In the old, old days, if you heard a song, you could copy it and start singing the song word for word. You see how someone makes a weapon, you copy it. Ideas automatically entered the public domain as soon as anyone saw it or got hold of it....

But over time we came to an agreement as societies that "ideas / creations" have value, and people would pursue their ideas and creations if they think people will pay for a copy. So, people made stuff and sold it to the public expecting they will pay for it.

Laws are made to try and hold this artificial agreement together.

These days, I don't think the artificial agreement holds up, people will not respect your copyright if you release it to the public, regardless of law.

Its just too easy to copy things! Very few people feel any consequence for breaking the "agreement", it dosnt really register much on their sense of morality.

This means people who create highly copyable stuff either need to find a new agreement that people will respect, or release their stuff knowing people are going to copy it.

At the moment the people "making" stuff are relying on the law to enforce the agreement that many people don't agree to. Its just not going to work.

Smelly

The way i see it. If i spent time and effort making something (be it music/software/whatever). In the hope of making some money off it.

Then everyone pirates it, so i make no money at all, but people benefit from my "thing".

Then I'm sure as well am not going to devote any more time or money into creating any more things if i'm not going to be making any money out of it.

So everyone loses out. I lose the time i spent creating something (in the hope of making money), people lose out on all the brilliant stuff i was going to make for them.

It's a lose lose situation. Whichever way the theives online try to spin it.


rope

I didn’t want to express my opinion on copyrights but I did want to make a post so that I could be included in the royalties from your blog earnings for this copyrighted post.
RoPe ©

Bill

I think your just trying to make us all feel bad, and go buy your book. Subliminally, and suberversively, of course.

I thought about buying it, just because I felt sorry for you.
Go figure.

now where is that credit card...

John

I have a large MP3 collection but also a large CD collection - I'm buying very often something after hearing it in its copied version, so it's definitely a win-win-situation for me AND the industry. But not for the artitsts with enough money already *g* - I'm kind of "evaluating" the artists which means that I prefer to pay the lesser known ones! If the artitsts would get the full amount of my money I would of course buy even more CDs - due to the fact that I appreciate the artist's work and NOT the industry which distrbutes it... But I think I'm an exception because the most I know are (unfortunately) collecting MP3s without any thoughts behind it.

SiggeLund

If you wanna borrow my underpants that's cool with me Scott. :D

Paul Morris

Scott, I 100% agree with you. The sooner people start seriously enforcing the law and punishbing those thieving scumbags who pirate software, with some serious and well publicised jail time, the better.
Only a bunch of clueless dorks who dont have the brains to create original work try to justify coopyright theft.

Stevie D

My take on piracy/breach of copyright is this.

If I copy a CD instead of buying it, the retailer, producer and artist are losing money that they have a right to (OK, so the retailer has no right to, as I could have bought it somewhere else).
But what if I wouldn't have bought it? There are plenty of CDs out there that it would be nice to listen to from time to time, but I wouldn't ever pay more than a couple of quid ($3.50) for, but shops would charge me five times that to buy them. So it's a choice between no CD and an illegal copy, if I can acquire a copy of it. Who is losing out? The producer and artist aren't losing anything, because they were never going to make any money from me.

And sometimes, a CD that I get a copy of turns out to be really good, and well worth paying for. When that happens, I do go out and buy a legitimate copy. So still no-one loses out.

Damian Elsen

"I would say the owner of the underpants lost something even though his property is physically the same."

What did the underpant owner lose?

Charles Pooter

Scott,

Kevin Carson pretty much destroys the arguments you present in this post here:

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2007/04/scott-adams-cognitive-dissonance.html

allsux

Thanks for posting this story - it really sums up what I feel happened to me recently, as well as the complexity of explaining that perceived violation to others.

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