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The Pirate Bay: “The Battle of Internets is About to Begin” (torrentfreak.com)
241 points by Uncle_Sam on May 9, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments




>“The Presidency of the LEWP presented its intention to propose concrete measures towards creating a single secure European cyberspace,” according to brief minutes of the meeting. The secure European cyberspace would have a "virtual Schengen border", it adds, referring to the treaty that allows freedom of movement within the EU but imposes controls on entry to the bloc. There would also be “virtual access points" whereby “the Internet Service Providers would block illicit contents on the basis of the EU ‘black-list’”, the proposal says.

Wow. Not only is it a terrible-sounding idea when heard second hand, it is even worse when heard straight from the horse's mouth. "A single secure cyberspace" sounds an awful lot like "A single secure SOCIETY!" It's as if Emperor Palpatine and the MAFIAA elite got together to determine the most efficient way to deny people of their rights for the sake of greed and power. How can anyone possibly hear what they are saying in these plans and not recoil with horror and disgust? It runs counter to all ideals and freedoms that the West purports to stand for.

Sheer absurdity.


It is the classic case of what happens when you apply the old rules (stuff like Schengen) to completely new areas where they don't apply at all.


Agreed. The problem with politicians (in places where they are democratically elected) is that they are concerned only with short term solutions because they are only concerned with getting re-elected and scoring political points. So when new and unique situations presents their selves and certain interest groups and parties feel threatened (especially those with any semblance of influence), the politicians apply older and inapplicable methods because it provides the image that they are "at least doing something" about the supposed threat.

The Internet is still a completely new, ever-changing landscape and politicians are stuck spinning their wheels in the mud as special interests (such as the MAFIAA) demand something, anything be done when the new model does not run parallel to their profit motive. So the easy solution is to just slap older laws and regulations over the top like an ill-fitting band-aid and hope it works. MAFIAA wins. Politician wins. Citizenry loses, as per usual.


There were no elected representatives at this meeting. The LEWP is a subgroup of the non-democratic council, not of the parliament. That's one of the things that you have to be careful with the EU - many "politicians" are not elected.


Who are the members of the group? Ex-politicians? People from MAFIAA? A mix of both? If they aren't elected they still might have the instincts of a politician.


I think you're misunderstanding me. These people are normal working politicians but they were never elected to the post. Normally, they are appointed by the civil service (who obviously aren't elected either) of a country of the EU but sometimes they are appointed by a government.

The council is the executive branch of the EU, a bit like the President of America, except with a lot more power (the President of America doesn't have much power on domestic issues). For example, one of the things that the Council has the power to do is pass new laws, and they can often choose not to put it to a vote in the EU Parliament. The EU Parliament is elected, but not many people vote or really take an interest in it (good luck finding someone who can name one of their MEPs, or any MEP for that matter).

To say that these people have short-term interests or that they are beholden to the electorate or something is factually mistaken. There is no such accountability of democracy.


I'm just speculating that, even if they aren't elected to this post, if they are politicians by trade they may still act as such out of habit or training (i.e. they will prefer short-term and antiquated or inapplicable methods to solve a problem, in order to present the image that they are "doing something").


Why don't they apply at all? They just don't apply because no-one has made them apply yet.

Years ago one could get copied tapes and access banned materials in flea markets and back rooms. It was illegal and yet people did it.

Neo-Nazis traded banned reading materials just as Christians traded illegal bibles in China.

While the internet has made the flow of information easier, it's not the case that it invented the practice which has probably gone on since the invention of speech.

All the internet has done has given us the ability to get involved in illegal practices much easier than they did before.


We wouldn't have borders if we could teleport to any place on earth. The internet is the closer to this scenario than the classical country model.


Except is has nothing to do with physical objects, only bits and oscillating electrons.


The analogy holds because governments are trying to apply notions (such as national borders) derived from a physically-constrained world of isolation to the unconstrained, connected virtual world.


This virtual world you speak of requires a physical medium of transfer.

Let us not forget all that physical hardware is somewhere and somebody's electrical infrastructure is powering it.

OSI - Level 1.


It sounds like a very low-tech imitation of the Great Firewall of China.


Hurray! Schengen for the internet. Because I just can't get enough of it as a tourist with an Indian passport.


Agreed. I'm a South African who likes to travel. The Schengen visa system is hands down the worst visa process I've ever had to deal with (USA included).

The thought of those clowns getting their hands on the internet is terrifying.


Yeah even with a US passport it is annoying to get three months for the entire group of countries instead of three months per country. Do they not want our tourism money?


You could say the same about VISA to US. You have 3 months to visit US. But then you discover that if you visit Canada/Mexico during those 3 months, then these days are counted towards stay in the US as well. WTF? not exactly better system than EU


The trick is to get a work and travel visa. Visitors visas in the US can be at most 6 months. Work and travel visas can be extended far longer and they don't actually require you to work. A friend of mine discovered this on accident while work and travelling.


You are mistaken. US visa does not limit your stay in the US at all. Immigration officer at the port of entry make this decision.


If that's true, its even worse - you don't know where you stand if your plans could be ruined because somebody's having a bad day.


We damn sure want your money, but we want you to spend it quickly and leave as soon as you're broke, which should take no more than 90 days, thanks to all our taxes. By the way, the Schengen area is only about a third larger than the U.S., both by area and population.


"In February, a secret meeting of the European Union’s Law Enforcement Work Party (LEWP) resulted in a worrying proposal."

How can some small EU working group even dare to discuss my human rights in a secret meeting without any democratic legitimacy?


This is symptomatic of the whole EU enterprise. You might ask how it is that a totally non-elected person like Baroness Ashton, the so-called High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union and Vice President of the EU (I repeat, no one elected her bar a coterie of the elite in the EU) can call for the EU to be given a seat on the UN Security Council. By the way, the president of the EU is unelected as well. Oh, and the EU finances have not been passed by the auditors in 13 years.

I apologize for this off-topic comment but a little background for non-EU folk is useful in considering this latest EU nonsense regarding the internet.


Civil servants, government ministers and heads of state in many if not most democratic countries are not elected directly by the people. There's nothing special about the EU in that regard.


It's a symptom of government to reduce one's freedom and human rights.


Haha! Complaining that no one elected Baroness Ashton is like saying that no one elected Georgy Zhukov - almost no one in the EU is elected.


They don't need legitimacy - they have guns.

Fortunately we have compilers and computers so the fight isn't going to be fair.


Legitimacy is actually made out of guns.


No it is made out of consent of the ruled.

The moment they loose consent they become the oppressors.


Being oppressive doesn't remove your legitimacy.

As long as you can hold on to being the government (guns!), you make the laws and are by definition legitimacy itself.


Don't confuse power and legitimacy. This is one of the major reasons why India isn't ruled by the British now. British had power, Gandhi and the peaceful revolutionists had legitimacy... guns can only project so much power.


Guns are the only form of power. Sometimes you just don't have enough guns.


One could argue that money is more powerful than firearms. How much power and influence do corporations wield? I don't see many CEOs packing heat.


They can influence those who do.


Case in point: Gaddafi


You might say that morally it should come from consent, but descriptively, legitimacy comes from having a monopoly on force and not being totally, utterly hated.


Legitimacy comes from:

Democracy, e.g., election as described by customs or laws

Tradition, e.g., a monarch's son becoming the next monarch

Charisma, e.g., a charismatic leader such as a tribe leader, dictators like Hitler, etc.

The military junta currently running Burma/Myanmar has a lot of guns, but it is not legitimate.


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha legendary.


They can talk about whatever they like, it doesn't mean it will pass. This working group has no authority on their own.


Do I detect a small amount of sarcasm about the democratic structure of the EU?


The democratic legitimacy of that working group derives from the democratic legitimacy of the governments that send their representatives. I'm not happy with these proposals at all, but it's not exactly unusual that such proposals are being worked on by civil servants and ministers.


Its interesting that they don't mention Usenet.

For those of you to young to remember, what you now call "The Internet" was originally "ARPAnet" (and then DARPAnet) which was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) but they had lots of rules about what you could and could not do on their network (as was their perrogative).

Some folks who wanted to be on the network didn't "qualify" because they were either too small, or not germane to the research goals. Other folks chafed at the restrictions.

My first encounter with the ARPAnet was in 1978 when I started at USC which had a node on the net (USC-ECLC) which was a DEC KI-20 running Tenex. When I graduated and went to work at Intel they weren't connected to the ARPAnet but they were running a 'usenet' node via modems and software called 'netnews'. The node, intelca, and the guy running it (Ken Shoemaker) were in my building at Intel. Since Ken was open to having the 'new guy' help out so I took on some fairly simple tasks of keeping it running.

Usenet was a simple store and forward network where nodes would call each other periodically on the phone and exchange data which was destined for other sites. Addressing was in the form of 'host!host!host!host!user' where each 'host' was a hop and if you could move something along you did.

Anyway, today, it is entirely possible (see the TOR network) to build a network which runs across the existing communications structure but uses a set of protocols that are 'invisible' (in the sense of firewalling and monitoring etc) to the host network. It makes building something which does what Usenet did (create a network with less authoritive oversight) much easier than it was in the past. I would not be surprised if such networks already existed although I am not aware of any at this time.


Fascinating, and interesting similarities.

I did not know much about Usenet, so I went to the Wikipedia page and found this:

ISP-operated Usenet servers frequently block access to all alt.binaries. groups to both reduce network traffic and to avoid related legal issues.

This was the case years ago on the old news.iol.ie server; forgot all about it till now. That whole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet#Legal_issues section is quite interesting in light of the above; a recommended short read.

--

In general it seems that the network on which any system runs is pretty vulnerable to legal challenges. If not the ISPs, then maybe those pesky fibre and copper owners between them, for aiding and abetting copyright theft! Or maybe the ISPs might be coerced to only permit "Accepted" packet formats (ie inspect-able) to be used.

So far ISPs seem to not be caving in too quickly, but there have been some awful exceptions: the recent DNS seizures in the US, and a little closer to home our backbone-less Eircom being the only ISP in Europe to cave into the demand a few years ago to block access to piratebay.org (ex govt, careful).

However I shudder at the idea of a seperate darknet, it just seems so... unnecessary! Not to mention: "What are you doing honey?" "Oh I'm connecting to the Darknet." "Gee, isint that for pirates, hackers and perverts?". Though the ability for the common Jane to download mp3's and movies on it might have everyone secretly supporting it... hmm. I can only wonder at what the Internet will look like in 20 years time.

Personally I hope we all get UN mandated rules for unregulated Internet - China, North Korea and Iran being some of the leading examples for why this is so important.


Prophet (http://syncwith.us/) was originally talked about as a way to build a darknet or sneakernet. Perhaps some are still pursuing that, though the main public development has to do with building SD on top of it and using it for distributed bug tracking.

I'm sure you know usenet still exists. It's weird to hear it described in the past tense. :)


> Its interesting that they don't mention Usenet.

Well, that sort of is the first rule of Usenet.


mpls?


Already, to some extend, Europe is not a part of the Internet anymore. At least here in Germany, I personally consider it fraud when Internet Service Provider offer "Internet access". Wrong label!

After returning from the US I got extremely frustrated that I wasn't able to listen to Pandora anymore (I'm even paying) or watch many of the best Youtube videos that happen to use popular music as background.

When I recently got access again, over my US friends University VPN, I felt a bit like a former east German, who managed to tweak his radio so he can listen to "west stations".


That's not a reasonable comparison, though.

Pandora or YouTube access isn't being censored by the German government. It's being withheld on the other end due to old-world notions of regional broadcast rights. Pandora and YouTube haven't paid the rights holders for the right to "broadcast" in Germany, so the licensors insist that they cut off access to Germany from the source.

What is being discussed in the article, however, is indeed censorship. If EU State Security gets its way, it will indeed be like East German radio.


Sure, I know, but still, thanks for pointing this out explicitly. Its true, I tried to provoke a bit and its not a totally faire comparison.

However, its still against the idea of the Internet, when I can only access certain content from certain locations, no? And its also somehow censorship, though the proper term may be "regional broadcast rights". Its true, that the German government does not actively support this, but I don't see them fight it either. For instance they could insist, that different regional broad cast rights, especially online, should be baned by the WTO. We do similar thing for inter-EU trade all the time.

This new law, like so many, who try to come over the backdoor of European law, is definitely on a different level. I just wanted to point out, that its already far from roses and unicorns here.


"Against the idea of the Internet" is not like being unconstitutional, but that seems to be the kind of weight you are giving it.

Maybe they don't like the idea of the Internet?


Conversely, Americans can't listen to Spotify, or watch many of the european broadcaster's online streams (e.g. Eurovision)


> can't listen to [...], or watch [...] Eurovision

Don't worry - you're not missing anything worth spending the time on...


Good point! So there we have them: The Internets. I find the whole concept extremely discriminating.


They will sell this with "think of the children" thing again, I am sure. Pisses me right off.

We fought this in the UK in the disguise of deep-packet filtering at the ISP's, that one floundered from the off but dragged out its demise for a good while before being sheleved.

Then France gave it a go with Loopsi, and unfortunately they seem to have managed to set a precedent for filtering/monitoring/blocking. It was only a matter of time before the EU got involved.


The "copyright lobby"? Where is the technology lobby? I'm disappointed in our industry, especially given the enormous market caps of tech giants.


Clarification: The Pirate Bay is not totally blocked in Ireland. The largest broadband supplier (Eircom with about 80% residential market) block it. No other ISP in Ireland block it. Several others (eg UPC) are actively opposed to blocking it.


meh. I think this proposal is bad, but why can't a site that is not screwing others over come forward and be the public face of "championing" it?

Thepiratebay being a large voice against it will just harm the cause, "oh thepiratebay is breaking the law and losing musicians money and they are anti-censorship so censorship must be good to stop that illegal stuff".


Are you one of those people who believes that the damage done by intellectual property "piracy" exceeds its benefits?

How is the Pirate Bay screwing anyone over more than draconian copyright laws which have been extended decades and decades beyond what the law originally intended while criminal enforcement is provided by free thanks to taxpayers?


If someone creates content it is their choice whether or not it's given away for free or if people must pay for it. If you create a song you can give it away for free, sell it for $0.99 or sell it for $900, that's your choice. I agree some of the copyright laws that exist are silly, but it should still be the content creators choice what happens with that content (or if they sell the rights then the new rights holder etc etc). Your desire, my desire or anyone else's desire for that content (be it music, video, game, program, image) is not more important than the wants of the person who created it.

Anyway my point was just that TPB is not a good voice against this, it would be like having Hitler being against anti-freespeech laws, it would make it much easier to justify those laws because of Hitler.


No, it's actually not their choice.

Society has long recognized that there is a tradeoff between benefits to the creator and benefits to society. As evidenced by e.g. the US copyright clause which says that Congress can (not must) extend copyrights to further the progress of the sciences and the useful arts (not to reward content creators, that's a means, not an end).


Take away my right to do with my work as I see fit, and see how long I continue to make my new creations available...

I am sure many other creators/artists/inventors feel the same way.


> my right to do with my work as I see fit

You mean your right to tell other people what they can or cannot do.

Copyright does not give you a right to do any more than you can anyway. It removes the normal rights of everyone else.

Without copyright you are still entirely free to sell copies of 'your' things. It is just that everyone else can too, so the normal functioning of the market will drive down the price so it will not suit you individually.

Copyright is really a privilege. It is something bestowed by the public, for the benefit of everyone.

> see how long I continue to make my new creations available

I suggest that might be a risky or weak strategy. People will create and communicate things anyway -- as they have been evolved to do. You will just be removing yourself from the cultural gene-pool.


As has been pointed out you can always do what you want with your work, the question is whether you should be able to control copies of your work.

While there is some romantic appeal to the notion of a Galt's Gulch where the special creative people retreat, one should be cautious about the approach of holding your breath until other people's faces turn blue. It leads to dubious hyperbole like the member of the US House of Representatives who insisted that if we didn't extend Disney merchandising rights, we would be depriving society of its next Shakespeare. Ahem.

For a more scholarly discussion of the dubious merits of intellectual property, you can read Bodrin & Levine's book[1] "Against Intellectual Monopoly" -- it's available free on their site and other places.

[1] http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfi...


Are you making creations available right now? In that case, why? Surely you are aware that currently, others can use your work under fair use and that your copyright has an expiration date?

I don't think anyone is (seriously) suggesting doing away with copyrights entirely. The real question is: how much incentive do you really need? Would you really say "well, if I put work into this, after 50 years anyone can make money off of my effort, so f..k it!"? I have a feeling 20 or even 10 years would be sufficient payback time. After all, patents are limited to fairly short times and it's not like there's a shortage of patent applications.


Your response reminds me very much of Atlas Shrugged. That idea is central to the book. I recommend it as an interesting read, though not everyone cares for Aynn Rand's style.


Dogma sprinkled with rape fantasy?


Great maybe then you can do something that actually benefits the rest of the world instead.


> No, it's actually not their choice.

That's incorrect. See below.

> Society has long recognized that there is a tradeoff between benefits to the creator and benefits to society. As evidenced by e.g. the US copyright clause which says that Congress can (not must) extend copyrights to further the progress of the sciences and the useful arts (not to reward content creators, that's a means, not an end).

Yes, and society has decided that the proper balance in that tradeoff is to give creators the choice in deciding when particular copies of their works are made available to the public, which means that it is in fact their choice.


I did not want to get into this debate but oh well.

>Yes, and society has decided that the proper balance in >that tradeoff is to give creators the choice in deciding >when particular copies of their works are made available to >the public, which means that it is in fact their choice.

Not true. There is a fixed length to which copyright on your work lasts. Its not forever and you don't decide the length.

Why do you think the society puts a limit on it? Because in essence copyright is a restrictive right. It tells you what you CANNOT do. Copyright is not a right but a privilege in the sense that it tells others not to make copies of the work that you created first.

The real reason of having a copyright is not 'for the advancement of science (and culture)'. It is to incentivize the copyright owners to share their creation so in that sense the copyright law is actually created to promote sharing.


You don't decide the length, but while copyright is still in effect for your work, society has decreed that you get to decide when particular copies are first made available to the public.


Copyright comes into existence the moment you create a work. You may do whatever you want with it. Society leaves it to your discretion.

Yours is a moot point.


So, basically--you create a work, copyright attaches at the moment of creation (not actually correct, but close enough for this discussion), and then you get to do whatever you want with it. Society lets the creator decide.

Isn't that my position? You seem to be arguing the same side as me. Shouldn't one of us take the opposite side--I believe that is the customary way to argue. :-)


There is no arguing with the facts. Copyright does attach itself at the moment of creation and that limits other people's free speech right when it comes to using your work.

However, as I was pointing out, there's a limit on your rights, like for how long you get it, what is restrictive and what isn't (fair use etc.) It is not a free ride. Especially since it is a restriction on 1st amendment, the American courts have taken a fairly narrow view on what you can restrict people from doing.

There are restrictions exactly because its a limitation on other people's free speech. And thats my point.


Well, yes. If your point is that you are not compelled to share your songs you've composed in your basement, you are correct. That, however, has nothing to do with copyright and won't really help you with incentivizing either.

Once you have shared it with someone, you can only control what is done with those copies under certain circumstances. And in that question, the balance decided by society is decidedly not that you have complete say in what is done.


If what you're selling is just a long string of bits, securing it against copy (not theft) is your problem, not the state's.

IP is just a way for established players to be lazy and avoid finding business models that acknowledge reality. Unfortunately, their laziness and greed also cost us civil liberties since freedom to copy a string of bits is indistinguishable from free speech.


Since were going with the "songs and music and anything digital are just bits...".

What about identity theft? It's just words on a piece of paper representing you as a person. Should we say the same thing when someone "steals" (just like with digital items, nothing is actually stolen) your identity?

What about your bank account? In most banks it's just numbers representing money...but it's just 'bits'..right?

Currency is also just ink and paper. Like digital goods, it's only as valuable as what people are willing to pay. Why should I be put in jail for copying ink that is on a piece of paper?

"IP is just a way for established players to be lazy and avoid finding business models that acknowledge reality. Unfortunately, their laziness and greed also cost us civil liberties since freedom to copy a string of bits is indistinguishable from free speech."

You want to talk about greed? The greedy people are the ones that download music and movies for free and devalue the work of people that put hundreds and thousands of hours to make it.


If something tangible is stolen as a result of copying, that is an issue of fraud, not IP. 'Potential profits' are not tangible.

The people who put hundreds and thousands of hours into making content aren't the ones who benefit from IP laws. It's the big cartel-ish companies with a zillion lawyers and friends in government who own rights to the IP and pay artists small royalties that rake in all the cash. IP is not necessary for artists and content-producers to make money. This should be fairly obvious by now after the success of the Grateful Dead, the rise of the indie recording industry, free and open source software, etc.

I'm not necessarily arguing that copying content isn't a skeevy thing to do in some circumstances. It's definitely a lot more noble to support an artist. But IP laws inject the state's jurisdiction deep into our private lives, and the result is things like continent-sized firewalls and searching of laptops at borders. In this case the solution to the problem is much, much worse than the problem itself. It doesn't even have to be a problem at all--a smart producer can use copying as an advantage.


"The people who put hundreds and thousands of hours into making content aren't the ones who benefit from IP laws. It's the big cartel-ish companies with a zillion lawyers and friends in government who own rights to the IP and pay artists small royalties that rake in all the cash."

hmm..so who gives the big cartels the rights to their music? that's right...the artists. If the artists are getting scraps and you are illegally copying their stuff and as a result, they lose contracts, it's hurting them in the process.

Copyright infringement is not theft, it's closer to counterfeiting. If it's not stopped, the value will eventually be $0 because people will not be willing to pay for it. see: music, newspapers, books, and eventually movies. Its happening to anything that can be digitized.

"IP is not necessary for artists and content-producers to make money. This should be fairly obvious by now after the success of the Grateful Dead, the rise of the indie recording industry, free and open source software, etc."

Free and open source software is a bad example. OSS uses copyright law to protect it from being used in proprietary software. With no IP laws, most big companies would either create very expensive software (so anyone that buys it would not be willing to share it) or they would all go to service based apps (this is already starting to happen).

The grateful dead has had a following for many decades. What about new artists that want to make a living? Bar gigs don't pay anything, so the only real way to make a living is to sign with a recording company. In some ways, sharing music forces artists to go with a recording company, because they don't have a chance at making a living any other way.

After 10 years of popularized piracy (I know it's been available for much longer than this, but Napster mainstreamed it), the youth of today feels entitled to free things on the Internet and are becoming less and less likely to pay for digital media.

This is the danger of piracy and why all of those industries wanted to stop it.

"It doesn't even have to be a problem at all--a smart producer can use copying as an advantage."

I no longer make applications, only services. So the direct result of piracy is that people that normally would have to pay a one-time fee for my software now have to pay me every month.


"hmm..so who gives the big cartels the rights to their music? that's right...the artists. If the artists are getting scraps and you are illegally copying their stuff and as a result, they lose contracts, it's hurting them in the process."

More artists go with indie studios every year, and for the most part these studios have learned to use copying to their advantage instead of fighting it.

There's never been any definitive research that shows artists lose money from copying, even the big studio artists. The math isn't simple--even if you grant that fewer albums are purchased due to copying, a wider fan base could lead to higher concert and merchandise sales. Of course, this may also mean that copying can increase album sales if it boosts popularity enough through network effect. One copier who likes an album may tell 10 of his friends, 2 of whom buy the album; that is profit directly attributable to copying.

"With no IP laws, most big companies would either create very expensive software (so anyone that buys it would not be willing to share it) or they would all go to service based apps (this is already starting to happen)."

If this is really how it would play out, I don't see the problem. If copying bits makes shrink wrapped software untenable (which I question), then so be it. Business models change all the time. It's not the end of the world.

"The grateful dead has had a following for many decades. What about new artists that want to make a living?"

The Grateful Dead started small like any band. One of the factors that led to their explosive growth was letting people freely distribute recordings of their live shows.

"After 10 years of popularized piracy (I know it's been available for much longer than this, but Napster mainstreamed it), the youth of today feels entitled to free things on the Internet and are becoming less and less likely to pay for digital media."

I see it more as people feeling entitled to communicate and share with each other freely, which is a good thing. I hope the trend continues.

"I no longer make applications, only services. So the direct result of piracy is that people that normally would have to pay a one-time fee for my software now have to pay me every month."

So? You adapted to the circumstances and are still providing the world value and getting paid for it. What's the problem?


I find it odd that you would think piracy was popularized 10 years ago. First off, commercially pirated publication has been popular ever since publication was invented. Pirate editions of books have been widely available for hundreds of years.

Individual copying of music has been popular since home taping became available from the early 60's on. My friends and I had lots of home recorded compact cassettes in the 80s. The youth of that day felt perfectly entitled to tape whatever they wanted. The coming of CD's meant that the first generation tape was perfect with no additional hiss.

Digital copying became popular as soon as home CD-R came along. I remember being amazed when $1.50 blank CD-Rs and $500 burners came along in the mid 90s. I soon had a pile of bit for bit perfect copies. No generational loss, nothing missing but the cover art.

Even if the internet or peer-to-peer had never come into use, there would today be a huge casual piracy scene based on MP3s, FLACs, portable hard drives and burned discs. If the publishing industry somehow manages to stuff the P2P genie back in the bottle, that's where we'll end up.


> What about your bank account? In most banks it's just numbers representing money...but it's just 'bits'..right?

You're suggesting that people should rely on copyright to keep their bank from stealing their money, rather than an actual contract with the bank?


By that argument propagation of child pornography (at least in digital form) should be legal since it is just bits--copying child porn bits is indistinguishable from free speech.

Your argument fails, of course, because it is NOT indistinguishable. These same issues arose with pre-digital media. After all, you could say all print media is just blobs of ink on paper, and and freedom to copy print media is indistinguishable from free speech. Yet we manage to distinguish just find. The same works just fine for information in bit string form.


Child porn falls into 'reasonable limit on free speech' category because kids are harmed in the making of it. Has nothing to do with IP.

I think non-digital IP is a bad idea as well and serves established publishers, not content producers. Trying to pass off someone's work as your own is already frowned upon socially. There's no need to make it a legal issue. It's sad that we as a society feel that we need the state to referee every single transaction. If you are able to produce something of value, you can find a way to profit from it whether others can copy it or not. If a lot of people want to copy your work, that is actually a good sign and gives you more opportunity for profit. You just have to be a bit more creative than the RIAA.


But if you go down the road of leaving it up to suppliers to secure against copying, you end up with ridiculous DRM systems.

Would you rather receive an un-DRM'ed mp3 in exchange for the promise that you won't make copies of it for everyone else, or receive a DRM'ed file that you are free to try and circumvent? Particularly for less tech-savvy people I think the unDRMed option is better.

(the third option is an unDRMed mp3 that we can legally copy and give to our friends, which you can have already as long as you stay away from the major record labels, but I don't see why the big industry players shouldn't be allowed to continue to use IP laws - no-one is forcing you to listen to their music/play their games/watch their movies).


If the state is left out of it, the market will select against crappy DRM systems and either the whole concept will go away, or producers will find a non-crappy way to implement DRM.

No one is forcing me to watch their movies, but laws that get passed stop me from copying a string of bits when absolutely no harm is done to the producer if I do so. This basically presumes that everything I say or do should be monitored by the state, since I could be breaking IP laws in the process. How about instead, the law protects actual property from actual theft, meaning something has only been 'stolen' from you if you don't have it anymore, and industries that create easily copied content get with the 21st century and stop bitching.


> How about instead... industries that create easily copied content get with the 21st century and stop bitching.

I like the ideal of what you're saying, but I worry about the practicality of it. I don't see how you could finance a huge blockbuster movie without having some guarantee that you would have exclusive rights to exploit that content for some limited period (which is effectively what copyright is about).

Sure, the harm to the producer isn't measurable if you download a movie from the internet. But I don't think that would scale to the wider population - if downloading for free became the standard way of getting movies, how would they recoup the production costs (I guess if you can answer that question then you could become very wealthy!).

Maybe there's some painful expectation realignment due from those whose salaries are paid by making movies (I don't think we'd be short of good actors if they were paid thousands instead of millions per movie). Could they produce the same quality of movie at a massively lower cost? Another question that if you could answer you could make yourself a lot of money.


I don't feel like any of those things are problems. If it really isn't possible to make a profit making blockbuster movies without invasive liberty-destroying laws, then so be it. There are lots of potentially great things that just aren't profitable to produce in practice. Why are movies so special? That said, there would still be huge demand without IP--I think people could figure something out.


I'm pretty much in your corner--I think copyrights and patents have been extended and abused and need major reform. But let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

It sounds like you are happy to sacrifice Hollywood movies. Fine. But there are so many other creative activities that do require some form of copyright or patent protection and enforcement in order to generate revenue. Do you really think we would still have professional studio musicians and recording engineers, journalists, fiction writers, critics, copy editors, if all copying were legal? Do you want to ditch all of that and be left with only amateur work? Or maybe we can have extensive product placement in all creative works, so there's some revenue source.

Linux and Wikipedia are amazing but I don't think their model applies to everything.


Don't mean to put words in his mouth, but I believe he's saying the laws are draconian. Few argue for the outright abolition of IP, and the content you talk about should be protected to encourage the producer to prosper. Its just the "Life + 70 Years" that is draconian.


You're right about the what but not about the why - IP laws should be protected to encourage the progress of Arts and Sciences. The producer's prosperity is secondary and not the goal, it is merely an effective means to that goal.


What is the 'correct' level of progress in Arts and Sciences? It's completely arbitrary.

Apples are good. I think there should be more apples. I hereby decree that every man shall plant four apple trees in his yard. Ruling the world is easy!


I'm with you, but piracy can be more troublesome to certain industries than to others.


One of the issues is that "we" as internet community tend to protest online, for instance by blocking a site (DDOS) or sending tweets to politicians.

Europe doesn't realise this and might mistake the lack of angry people in the streets for "not caring" or "no problem", while complaining about "hackers" taking down web sites.

I'm afraid that there are only two options, either this gets blocked by the European Human Rights Court (article 10, freedom of speech) or we are going to get into a situation where we're China: internet filter plus many many tools to circumvent it.

I guess it's our first response to develop the latter and claim "we'll just use Tor / Freenet / VPN" but IMHO preventing the instatement of a filter in the first place would be a more noble struggle.


So what if they do erect this "virtual wall"? People will just access those sites through some non-EU based proxy. Unless they block access to each and every non-EU based proxy, of course.


Where would you put your proxy to be clear of both "think of the rights holders" and "think of the children" as valid reasons to filter your access ?


So, what you're saying is that EU countries would block access to the proxies in other countries because of these reasons that you mention? Possibly. They might try to do that, but I'm not sure that they would succeed. There are too many proxies, and new ones pop up practically ever day. Unless they block access to any non-EU server, in which case EU becomes North Korea.


Oh, it's probably not about making it impossible. Just about inconvenience. The Chinese firewall can also be easily circumvented.


Of course you are right that it will be a leaky wall due to the nature of the Internet. But it will increase the cost and hassle and reduce bandwidth. And that is good enough to prop up publishing industry revenue.


Seems like focusing on pirates now would be like running a campaign against burglary in 1939 /instead/ of mobilizing against nazi Germany?


this just might be the most elaborate example of Godwin's Law I've ever seen.


The religious war between pirates and copyright will always continue.


Did you read the article? The issue here is internet censorship; the Pirate Bay guys are just getting involved because they tend to also be opposed to censorship.




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