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Speaker: Copyright Must Change

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  • Mark Harris,

    Giovanni, I'm interested that you don't agree with it. Can you expand, now that your commenting capability seems to be working?

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I meant commenting on that actual blog. I find the equation of gin and television to be pretty daft, frankly. Why do people not say that about books? After all it's not as if you participate or interact or communicate when you read a book or the Times Literary Supplement. And yet somehow there's this perception that you can't learn from television, that reading a newspaper is qualitatively better than watching a newscast, and that reading a book is better than watching a sitcom (and that sitcoms are all that TV has to offer). That's just stupid. There are a ton of great shows on television. Conversely, not all that we do on the Net is worthwhile. Instant messaging is not qualitatively better than talking to somebody on the phone. Lolcatz may be creative, but so is writing a postcard. Twittering is... I don't know what twittering is. It scares me a little, but that's okay. I have a blog, who am I to judge?

    And don't get me wrong, I find a lot of social surplus value on the Net, but it's not time stolen from television: it's time (and space) stolen from work. It used to be that people organised politically, and socially, in the workplace and in schools. Then the factories (in the first world, at least) disappeared, and work fragmented, and people drifted. Now take a place like PAS: I have a feeling that people write here instead of (whilst) working, not instead of watching the telly. Certainly there are a lot more comments during office working hours than in the evening. And I think that's terrific, I really do.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Sshh, you'll get workplace admins blocking access to this site..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    He was, pretty specifically, talking about sitcoms, rather than National Geographic (at least he was in the videos, of which the article is nearly a transcript).

    And what he's talking about is the time spent doing the activities, not the activities themselves. If most of your time was spent reading, rather than watching television, then that is where you'd have to carve your "spare time" from. But he's talking about mass populations who, evidence suggests, watch more television than they read - you are in a minority, sir.

    I used to be a voracious reader. I'd far rather read a book than watch TV. About 10 years ago, I stopped, for various medical reasons. I now find it hard to get through a novel, confining most of my reading to non-fiction, where I used to get through 2 or 3 a week. But I still don't watch that much television. All that time I used to spend reading is going into the net, because I can still sti at a screen and read, and write. Perhaps it's only an illusion of interaction, of participation, but as Shirky said about the WoW people, at least it's something.

    You make a good point about work time but, as I work for myself, I decide what is work time and what isn't, as long as the work gets done. ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Sshh, you'll get workplace admins blocking access to this site.

    They're too busy commenting on PAS to do that, we're sweet.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Pilcher,

    Thanks for the kind words (Not!) Mark Harris - Your definition of theft however seems to be a bit light - wether civil or criminal, Taking someone elses property (e.g. downloading it) without their consent (as in not purchasing it via a legitimate channel) strikes me as a pretty clear cut definition of theft.

    The real issue here is that this legislation tramples over one of the key notions of what makes a democracy work "innocent until proven guilty". Having some an ISP deciding my criminal status is a real concern.

    Surely it would be easier for everyone if infringement matters were handed over to the police by the local agents of the copyright holders. The police, should they decide there is merit in further investigation could then approach the ISP or the individual if they then need to gather proof via network or computer forensics.

    As my story illustrates, the new laws will be pretty much unworkable and probably wont change much of anything. By the way, Xtra had nothing to do with this story

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Patrick. There has been an ongoing (some might say interminable) discussion here over many threads about various aspects of copyright, including our friend s92. I think it's safe to say that few have argued the desirability of ISPs being judge, jury and executioner.

    However, knowing what someone is guilty of seems crucial. The e-book that was linked to at the top of the last page has some interesting thoughts about the difference between copying and taking, as do many previous posts here.
    http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/coffee.htm seems relevant:

    Intellectual property law is not about your right to control your copy of your idea - this is a right that we have just pointed out, does not need a great deal of protection. What intellectual property law is really about is about your right to control my copy of your idea.

    This is not a right ordinarily or automatically granted to the owners of other types of property. If I produce a cup of coffee, I have the right to choose whether or not to sell it to you or drink it myself. But my property right is not an automatic right both to sell you the cup of coffee and to tell you how to drink it.

    It is important to distinguish between property rights and contractual agreements. You could sell me the delicious cup of coffee you just made, and have me sign a contract agreeing not to drink the coffee after 4 pm. But if I were to violate this agreement it would not be theft. As a matter of law, you could not send the police after me. You could sue me for breach of contract - and the courts might or might not decide the contract was valid. But there would be no question of theft or violation of property rights.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Let's try that link again:

    This passage seems relevant...

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Thanks for the kind words (Not!) Mark Harris

    Thanks for deserving them. Your piece contains many of the old unproven chestnuts that have long been trotted out (as Steve says) any time copyright gets mentioned. Provide evidence for them and I'll withdraw my assertion.

    Your definition of theft however seems to be a bit light - wether civil or criminal, Taking someone elses property (e.g. downloading it) without their consent (as in not purchasing it via a legitimate channel) strikes me as a pretty clear cut definition of theft.

    Thus my complaint. You see, Patrick, this is incorrect, under the law. Yes, it is illegal, no, it is not theft. It is copyright infringement. It has its own act. If it was theft, it would fall under the Crimes Act.

    The real issue here is that this legislation tramples over one of the key notions of what makes a democracy work "innocent until proven guilty". Having some an ISP deciding my criminal status is a real concern.

    That's something we can agree on, at least.

    By the way, Xtra had nothing to do with this story

    My apologies. It's just that I haven't noted your voice in the copyright debate before.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Apart from yesterday's one, of course

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Pilcher,

    Thanks for the positive words Sacha - the e-book you link to raises some interesting points. The evolution of copyright is a fascinating tale and I suspect that the genius who came up with the whole copyright concept would probably be mildly surprised at just how it has matured and mutated over time (The Disney debacle need I say more?)

    The coffee analogy provides a very potent argument for the need to revise copyright to reflect the digital age execpt there's one minor flaw Digital content can be duplicated perfectly each and every time, with the content creator not seeing a single cent for their work. Coffee on the other hand requires you buy the raw materials (e.g. beans and milk etc) so the producers of coffee beans and milk continue to make a living and feed their families. The costs associated in producing a TV show or movie can be incredibly steep, so I can understand the industry wanting to recoup their investment.

    This said, I definitely agree that copyright needs to be reasonable and that being told how to drink your coffee and who you should sell it to is pretty unreasonable. The video and music production players need to embrace legit downloads and start getting real about what is happening. I think the vast majority of downloaders would have little to no objection to paying a reasonable amount for TV shows etc, and the move to dump DRM has been a step in the right direction. This said, Hollywood and the music industry are corporates and as such tend to take a very short term view. so there is a very long way to go and its unfortunate that they've managed to be so successful in lobbying our naive Government into opting for such draconian regulations.

    Mark H - From a legal perspective you may be right, but the law is only one (albeit an important) consideration. Morally, my definition of theft still stands.

    So what exactly were the specific so called unproven chestnuts I rolled out in my Herald story? Please bear in mind that a news paper story has to be written so it is readable and relevent for a much wider audience than the (mostly) sophisticated audience in this forum.

    While we might agree to disagree on some areas, I suspect we are essentially in unison that section 92A and B are going to be a dismal failure and will refrain from trading pointless and unfounded insults with you - If you are as rude to any new voices in the copyright debate as you were about me then I suspect there wont be many new voices or informed debate.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I've had a really interesting wee wrangle with one of my publishers over the past 2 months. It was about renewal of licence-to-print rights. (These generally have a 10year rollover.) Imagine my - considerable interest- when they really turned out to be about electronic rights....we've sorted everything out now, it's *only* the print rights getting renewed but-if I'd being relying on an agent (for that book) the agent might've looked at the figure offered, thought about their 10%, and let it roll...& me & mine would've lost big time.
    All - well, most of, - robbery says about individual artists fending for themselves applies here. And Mark Harris's comments divebomb into the nether regions.

    Which is why any change needs to occur *really* slowly & *really* cautiously. It will happen - but it wont with a wholesale slaughterous open slather. Which, I also realise, is not what is proposed but which could happen when/if the scenario this publisher offered is ever accepted-

    That said, ditch section 92 RIGHT NOW.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Patrick, I'd say that Mark's dander has been rasied of late so please don't take it all personally. He can respond about the points he's referring to, and as you say we can assume a fair amount of agreement here about the dismal outcome of the law change.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Pilcher,

    Not a problem - no real offense taken. This retarded law has raised a whole lot of danders. Its great to see some really informed debate around this whole issue....

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Quite. Elsewhere, I failed to endure more than a couple of pages of "Your Views" yesterday..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Elsewhere, I failed to endure more than a couple of pages of "Your Views"yesterday..

    That's a couple of pages more than I'm able to cope with.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Patrick

    From a legal perspective you may be right, but the law is only one (albeit an important) consideration. Morally, my definition of theft still stands.

    Copyright is a legal construct. There is no other way of discussing it. If you wish to take the position that copyright infringement is theft, then you are wrong. We live by laws because, if we waited for everyone to act according to a moral code, nothing would ever get done. (and whose moral code would we use, hmmm?) As a minor point, you haven't defined theft, you've merely said that copyright infringement is the same as theft.

    So what exactly were the specific so called unproven chestnuts I rolled out in my Herald story? Please bear in mind that a news paper story has to be written so it is readable and relevent for a much wider audience than the (mostly) sophisticated audience in this forum.

    A newspaper story must still be accurate, however. Write the objective truth, not one-sided fictions. RIAA talking points are not facts.

    From your article, then: (If a para is not mentioned, I agree with it)

    Paras 2 and 3
    - While a "three strike system" is often how such an approach is characterised (I have done so myself, but only in the blogosphere, not the MSM), the legislation makes no reference to how many warnings may be given, and defines "repeat infringer" as

    a person who re­peatedly infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.

    Thus your paras are not strictly accurate, indicating a lack of detailed knowledge of the Act. While the thrust of your piece is in line with my thinking, the devil is (as always) in the details.

    Para 4
    the illegal downloading of copyrighted content is theft We've covered that above. The rest of the para is agreed.

    Para 5
    Whilst the good news is that the amended copyright act will absolve them from the liabilities associated with pirated content crossing their networks or being cached on their servers

    Actually, it won't if they have no policy or refuse to take down content after an accusation has been made. (refer s92C)

    But agreed on the technical difficulties (although your estimate regarding numbers online is at odds with the latest information from StatisticsNZ )

    Paras 6 - 9
    -agreed mainly, although I've seen nothing yet from the TCF and ISPs to indicate this. You, in your day job, may well have better access to such information.

    Para 14
    Illegal downloading occurred well before Napster. Napster was a solution to the problem of finding music to download. And Napster only applies to music.

    There's been illicit downloading of books and software since the Internet began. That's why Project Gutenberg restricts itself to books that are outside copyright, going so far as to note in its readme files that in some countries certain works may still be under copyright protection and that users in such countries should not download such items.

    Para 15
    Unfortunately Napster didn't take copyright into account and music industry lost money hand over fist as piracy rapidly took hold.

    The biggie. Prove it. The RIAA's own numbers indicate that CD sales were highest while Napster was running. My personal opinion is that the unprecedented sales the industry saw during the late 80's and 90's was not due to population growth (the curve is well out of whack for that) but due to people repurchasing material they already owned on vinyl. And that this was a surge that eventually petered out. But the music labels had got used to their profits and need someone to blame. Enter Napster, stage right, brand new (and therefore scary) and easy to blame.

    There are plenty of reports that claim piracy and counterfeiting cost over $200billion a year, but there is no source for this. The reports are all quoting each other in a merry-go-round of attribution. No-one did any research supporting this figure, yet economic policy makers assume it to be fact and regulate accordingly.

    Now, I may be wrong in my theory about the CD Hump, but at least I stated it was a theory. You, on the other hand, stated it as fact in a "news paper story" - nowhere is it mentioned that this is an opinion piece. Apart from the disclaimer, there's no mention that you are not, in fact, a Herold reporter, but are employed by Telecom. While Telecom disclaims your views, they can't be considered an impartial player in Internet politics.

    The big change from the 90's that did have and impact on downloading was increased broadband (except in NZ, but let's not go there today). Anecdotally, I remember emailing someone in the States who was complaining that his telco was late putting his T1 line into his apartment (!!!)

    Para 17
    The major issue with DRM (IMHO) was that it broke legitimate use because it was inherently flawed. Also not mentioned is the fact that the labels broke the law in many countries by installing software that was extremely difficult to remove, just by playing a CD in your computer. I don't think your readership could be unable to understand that.

    Para 18
    Whilst legitimate alternatives to illegal music downloading put a serious dent in music piracy, the lack of a copy protection free alternative meant music piracy continued unabated.

    This doesn't even hold together. If a "serious dent" was put in music piracy, how was it then able to "continue unabated"?

    The rest of the piece is, in my opinion, not well written, but not expressly wrong.

    I'm glad you finished on the significant point of "innocent until proven guilty".

    While we might agree to disagree on some areas, I suspect we are essentially in unison that section 92A and B are going to be a dismal failure and

    Correct.

    will refrain from trading pointless and unfounded insults with you - If you are as rude to any new voices in the copyright debate as you were about me then I suspect there wont be many new voices or informed debate.

    Fair comment, as will I. Apologies for that.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Kindly refer back to my 323 post...this is life at the coalface. This is how creative creatures like me see the whole matter and why we think there is a great deal of self-important/self-enriching/self-serving wankery going on- which has zilch to do with those of us who are actually creating stuff-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Islander
    If you mean this, then it's lucky that you are aware of these things. Shouldn't that be part of the process of getting an agent, finding one who also knows about such things, making them aware of your position etc. Caveat emptor, after all, and always read carefully anything you're asked to sign.

    Please remember that you're not the only "creative creature" in the environment and we don't all agree with the perspective you've stated on this forum.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Islander, I tend to agree the whole bunfight becomes a distraction from figuring out how to better serve the interests of artists rather than middlemen, and without trading off the interests of consumers and society. There have to be new ways to arrange this.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I've heard that the brain of a programmer behaves identically to that of a musician when they're in flow..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Kindly refer back to my 323 post

    looking for that post but can only see 324.

    while you may not be the only creative creature here islander you are in a position few people in this country are in in that you have created a viable work which is internationally recognised and is directly and significantly affected by 'lets try a world without copyright' thought.

    Its apparently quite easy to sway popular thought to get behind vague notions. I like simon griggs recent comment on his blog

    And you have to conclude that the nation talked to itself into a change of government for no good reason beyond the fact that they talked themselves into a national malaise.

    it may be interesting intellectual conversation for most on here because they have very little invested in it, unlike islander who has an item or 2 of quite significant value.

    Islanders opinion is doubly important because of this
    on top of that she carries herself as a well reasoned and thoughtful person.
    the reason many of you don't all agree with her perspective is cos you don't walk in her shoes. you have day jobs which bring you income outside of media creation and ownership.

    I was thinking about what islander said about the characters in her book and how copyright protects them from being used and abused by others and how she wants copyright to protect them,

    all this talk of civil offense, its not theft etc.
    how about this.
    respect.
    Islander wants her characters which she created left alone.
    fuck the copyright angle of it for a second and how you can do what you want after 50 or 70 years.
    this is what someone who created something which we acknowledge as important asks of us. is that so difficult to respect?
    leave it alone and create something of your own if its so easy.
    that's what copyright enforces. argue your way around it on it an "its not theft" its an infringement angel all you like, its against current law.

    don't help yourself to her work without due financial recognition.
    simple concept really, respect.
    society can't handle that? then make laws and enforce them.
    its society's fault that it can't act with suitable respect. its society's job to fix that.

    ps sorry to use you as an example islander but it helps to put a face on the anonymous crime.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Sleep is good.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Pilcher,

    Mark

    I think we're really splitting hairs here - yes Copyright is a legal construct. but taking someones property without their permission is also morally bankrupt, so how about we agree that we're both right. people need to adhere to both a sense of lawfulness and morality in order for society to function smoothly.

    regards your comments about the "three strike system", I have indeed read the act through and had based my comments on research I'd done talking to ISPs and this is how they're formulating their policy as dictated by the act. Once again we're splitting hairs - the thrust of my piece appears to be largely in line with your thinking.

    Re my estimate regarding numbers online being at odds with the latest information from StatisticsNZ - Its only a matter of time before stats NZ adopt bazillions as an official mathematical notiation for lots...

    I also agree that Illegal downloading occurred well before Napster, I knew people that did it back in my BBS days (although at 2400baud the experience must have been pretty horrible). Napster was when downloading really hit the mainstream however. Refer to my comment about splitting hairs.

    re piracy and its cost to the industry you say Prove it. I say disprove it. Either way we'll argue for quite some time and frankly I dont have the energy - especially given we're pretty much in agreement with the main thrust of my piece (namely that S92 is unworkable)

    I am employed by Telecom and have no problem being up front about this fact. If you check the Herald, the Dom Post and Tone Magazine, breakfast and Good Morning TV you'll see that I have been writing about technology for many years more than I have been employed at Telecom. Wether Telecom can or can't be considered an impartial player in Internet politics is really besides the point as my day job at Telecom has nothing to do with the media and the views I express in my writings (nearly all of which to date have been gadget reviews - I only wrote about S92 because I felt strongly about it) are my own views, not those of my employer.

    you state that I didn't mention the labels broke the law in many countries by installing rootkit software that was extremely difficult to remove. You are correct and I agree that the labels have sometimes been as guilty as the pirates they're seeking to punish. As you mention however the general populace wouldnt get the significance of this, and more importantly it would have detracted from the main thesis of my story, hence me not mentioning it.

    You also say that If a "serious dent" was put in music piracy, how was it then able to "continue unabated"? - that's easy - Piracy levels can decrease whilst Piracy itself continues to happen.

    Apologies accepted, lets just move on.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Good article Patrick, thanks for writing it.

    re piracy and its cost to the industry you say Prove it. I say disprove it.

    Well, no. The RIAA and their buddies are placing new costs and obligations across the board. To justify this cost and develop good economic policy and legislation we really do need accurate data. That has never been forthcoming from that industry. Without it we really should be able to say "get stuffed".

    Regarding Islander, I have a lot of sympathy for her position but I agree that what most artists require is education not new legislation.

    Islander wants her characters which she created left alone.
    fuck the copyright angle of it for a second and how you can do what you want after 50 or 70 years.

    Sadly, if that is her desire, the answer is not to publish. Every time I read a work to myself or an audience I interpret the characters in ways that probably have nothing to do with what the author had in mind. I am told my fake Scots accent is rubbish, for example, but I always use it for really evil characters.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

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