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People like Mr. Flores are a hazard. Seriously, they have no problem defining piracy as wrong, but make no mention of what would actually be required in terms of surveillance and policing for that moral convention to be reliably maintained.

Beyond his insensitivity to reality, Mr. Flores appears to have no understanding that copyrights are not rights at all. There's noting inalienable about them. To the contrary, they are - very explicitly - privileges. They are given to very limited numbers of people for (theoretically) limited times. For a sovereign society to continue giving out these privileges, it's going to expect something in return. If that includes an obscenely invasive and overbearing police apparatus that has the power and freedom to monitor every bit of data every person exchanges it's an easy deal to reject.

In spite of all his rage (or perhaps because of it) Mr. Flores has never stopped to consider that the crime of theft pertains chiefly to physical property and tangible goods. This has been true for thousands of years, meaning that there is now a very well established body of law relating to misappropriation of physical goods - one that extends, in various forms, worldwide. And there is no popular pressure to change this convention. Nor is there any sense that the policing required to maintain this convention constitutes a serious threat to human rights. Indeed, the creation of property rights, and their attachment to tangible goods seems to be a fundamental feature of societies that advance human rights, and a culture of autonomy.

Extending the concept of property rights and theft to intangible goods is a different matter entirely. A relatively recent idea, it was an experiment that worked reasonably well as long as intangible goods remained wedded to some physical wrapper which could be safely governed by uncontroversial property laws. Now that the wrappers have become obsolete, the ability to allow the safe and ethical extension of property rights into the sphere of the intangible has collapsed. Only reckless, short-sighted, or truly sinister players (the Maximalists) continue to press in this direction.

Smarter - and yes, more ethical - people properly dismiss copyright as an appropriate mechanism for governing the conduct of private individuals. That means they don't get involved in business that can only work if the Maximalists get their way. While copyright certainly retains substantial value as a tool for regulating the conduct of incorporated entities (which are, themselves, intangible entities), it is 100% incompatible with a culture of individual autonomy in the present day.

The world probably doesn't need (yet another) shitty app. What it does need are people who can imagine and build businesses that limit reliance on copyright to engagements with incorporated entities, while treating individual humans with healthy respect for their political freedom, privacy, and autonomy. Indeed, entrepreneurs should focus on products and services that INCREASE these qualities, not misguided attempts to undermine them for the sake of a fast buck with no concern given to the consequences.




Why does someone need to propose an effective solution to policing immorality in order to state that he believes something to be immoral? Simply conveying a story intended to create empathy for hard working individuals making a contribution to society is hazardous? Get off your high horse.

Saying that you believe people have rights that should not be infringed does not mean you haphazardly support the enforcement of those rights in ways that cause more harm than good. I did not recommend that anyone be sued, that anyone be monitored, that anyone be spied upon or any other counter measure. Speaking out against injustice does not always require that you have a well-articulated plan for the foolproof solution to that injustice. The fact that you believe these people have no rights and that defending them is harmful is hazardous.

The simple fact is, for as long as there have been civilizations and law, most have said it is illegal to take something of value from someone else. You say it pertains only to physical goods, a cop out designed to suit your self serving needs.

There are two important facts to remember. The first is that, while taking a copy of something from someone is not theft according to Merriam Webster, if their product is valued and people will pay for it, but you take a copy under false pretenses and make it available for nothing at all, you dilute the value of their property and have stolen value from them. Imagine your investors diluting you down to nothing. They haven't technically taken your shares, but I suspect you don't like too much the results.

Further, while the flow of information and ideas should be free, nobody is infringing on your right to remember a song, take thoughts of it with you, tell other people about it, or even hum that song while you troll the forums. But when you require a physical copy of that song, bits stored on a device, in order to actually remember that "idea", your whole concept of the "flow of information" goes out the window.

You want to spread the idea of a song? Tell someone what it's about. You want a copy of a song for yourself, pay for it. It's as simple as that. I don't need to be a policy maker to voice that this is a principle I value among those people who have the integrity to honor it.


Kudos for identifying dilution as a way to take value from another while leaving their actual holdings untouched. It's a subtle point that most anti-copyright types miss.

And you're absolutely correct to observe that hard drives are material, and that the atoms they contain constitute the 'fixed medium' that provides the bright and shining line between ungovernable ideas, and the restricted world of copyright protection. But you're mistaken if you think you have any inviolable rights in your work. Copyright is a right in name only. In absolutely every other regard it's a privilege.

If you lived in France, things would be different. French jurisprudence includes "le droit d'auteur". That is to say, they recognize a moral right of the author to control the dissemination and development of his work by others. When the French say "I have a right" they're entirely correct.

Things are different in America, where lawmakers rejected that concept flatly. Regardless of the way you feel about it, Le droit d'auteur has never been recognized in this country, and at this point, it's safe to say it never will be.

So it's not that I 'believe' you have no rights. I KNOW you have no rights. Because you don't. What you have is a privilege that 's increasingly archaic, based - as it is - on a rapidly fading ability to produce more development than it retards in the "Useful Arts & Sciences". In case you didn't know, that's the Constitutional language giving Congress the power to issue the limited monopolies known as patents and copyrights in the first place.

In contrast with France, America (like England, which is the source of much American civil law) views copyright not as an exalted moral right, but as a necessary evil tolerable only to the extent that it clearly benefits society as a whole.

That's a big difference.

Wrap your head around the idea that you're defending a privilege - not a right - and I suspect that the whole tenor of your argument will change dramatically.


Unfortunately, your argument falls apart immediately.

"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" -- United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

While you can make the argument that it may be a lesser right than the more primal human rights, it's factually incorrect to say that it's not a right. Says so in the Constitution, the document that defines our rights.

But wait, there's more.

Your argument falls apart even more because you are incorrectly placing the value of a work on the physical representation of the work. Using your interpretation, the primary value in the book Huckleberry Finn is in the pages of that book, not the words and ideas printed in the book. Alternatively, if I take Huckleberry Finn, run it through a jumbler and create a document that has all the words rearranged randomly, that it is just as valuable as the original work.

Also, you're factually incorrect about the concept of property rights being limited to physical property. If that were the case, plagiarism would be a legitimate practice. If theft is limited to the physical representation of a thing, then it should be legitimate for me to sit down and right a copy a work word for word and pass it off as my own. After all, there is little to no value in the words, so I'm not doing anyone any harm.

Smarter - and yes, more ethical - people properly respect the wishes of creators when it comes to how they express their right to distribute the fruits of their labor. They certainly don't spend six bloviating paragraphs to say "If there is something I want, I should be able to take it."

Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.


You've missed the point completely.

This was never about "I want stuff for free". It was about the avoidance of a hyper-invasive police state.

For what it's worth, I actually work as a producer. I'm on the sell side, not the take side. And moreover, I don't pirate. Between Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes, (not to mention the general firehose that is the internet) I have such an astonishing array of free and very reasonably priced stuff, that I have no need to pirate. I mean, I don't even have the time for the stuff I've actually bought.

When working, I pay strict attention to rights and clearances. Not just because I'm a nice guy, but because I have to. I mean, compliance is so deeply engrained in the system that it's unavoidable. It's just the way things work. Moreover, I support this system. In spite of the complexity, it makes a lot of sense. In terms of a system for governing interactions between industry players, copyright is as good as anything else I can imagine.

But I'm not just a producer. I'm also a human being. I recognize that what works in a small, professional circle cannot scale to the point where it can govern everybody with a laptop and an internet connection. That's like expecting people to get formal authorization from the SEC every time they want to transfer $100 from checking into savings.

More to the point, I recognize that attempts to scale the existing system mean the creation of auditing and enforcement mechanisms that are absolutely terrifying in terms of raw power, and susceptibility to abuse.

It's the difference between a nuclear reactor quietly purring on the outskirts of town, and a nuclear bomb detonating in the heart of the financial district. Saying "hey, they're essentially the same thing" is true on one level, but it ignores context to an extent that is batshit crazy.

So unlike the jerkswho say "I have my rights, all I care about is my money, so fuck you pay me" I actually have a social conscience. I recognize that the way I made a living was dependent on historical conditions that no longer exist, and that like society itself, I need to adapt. If that means avoiding a nightmarish police state by radically redefining the limits of property rights in the sphere on the intangible, so be it.

The point is that those of us who make a living from intellectual property need to understand that we'd be toast in a country without strong democratic freedoms (i.e. the First Amendment). And we need to recognize that the extension of existing copyright law into every nook-and-cranny of digital life entails the development of a surveillance apparatus that will destroy American democracy. No app, novel, song, or movie is more important than that. And the real artists understand this better than anyone. After all, they're the first to get murdered when things really go bad.

Fortunately, our privileges (or, as you call them lesser rights) are limited. They take a back seat to the much greater rights of humans to live in freedom from the kind of surveillance and policing that copyright law - carried to its logical extreme - entails.

Personally, I think we should limit the application of copyright law to incorporated entities only. That is to say, individuals should be free to do what they want with whatever they find. In essence, it's about taking the concept of Fair Use, and expanding it to comply with the realities of the present day. While I don't think that authors should give up all control, I think that control should be limited to what incorporated entities do with a work.

Obviously, this doesn't mesh with today's business models. But so what? Today's models are leftovers from a bygone era. It's a new foundation for new models which creative people can adapt to. What it allows for is tremendous freedom for people to develop the culture using the works within it. That's a benefit for artists and audiences alike. Any business that becomes successful enough to merit incorporating steps up to the role of box office. Unlike individuals, these businesses would be subject to copyright rules, and would have to work with artists and producers to the mutual satisfaction of all involved.




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