Morality and copyright


#1

Never in human history could people have ownership of the song they sang. Music was passed around and shared for tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years. Once the technology of encapsulating those songs came around, and it was possible to then sell your wares without performing, the profit to be made from claiming your ownership of that material were clearly in the artists best interest and thus copyright laws slowly but surely came into existence. Now however, the technology has shifted towards the inability for artists to protect and enforce that exclusivity, and thus we revert back to the original paradigm - that is the sharing and ownership of music (and just about all the information in the world) is reverted back to a more 'natural’ state: co-owned by all of humanity.

My opinion is that there is no moral argument for copyright to be a law, which is not to say they should not be rewarded, it’s just that if they don’t come up with better (and optional) ways for me to reward them for experiencing their music/info, then I don’t think they should kidnap me and lock me in a cage. #justsayinstuff #cantwaitforlaunch


Is Cory Doctorow talking about DRM and copyright in principle, or as technically dangerous to implementat
#2

The technology used has nothing to do with “morality” - it hasn’t changed the nature of one’s right to his property.

There’s no moral argument for copyright law, but there’s property argument and contract law and I believe (not everyone does) author could ask you to contractually oblige to not record, copy or re-distribute his content you consume.

You’d be able to refuse to accept that contract, of course, so there’d be no cage.


#3

In theory perhaps but last I checked when you buy a cd you don’t sign a contract of any kind. You buy a disc with recorded music on it. Also laws in general mean nothing if you can’t enforce them. Copyright law, contract law, any law has no teeth unless it can be enforced. Perhaps if a local artist was selling their wares and signed a contract with another local not to redistribute said art and their recourse if that contract was broken was not only to refuse to sell more art to that individual but also to negetively impact that individual’s reputation because not only would the artist know the individual in person but also the community would. However the only way for this to scale would be to put in place some kind of monitoring system. This is the key point of copyright. In order for copyright to work you need to monitor who has a liscence/contract/paid a fee whatever and who has not. Which means you need to invade people’s privacy. Copyright is not compatible with freedom and privacy. When I buy something I expect to own it and be able to do whatever I like with it. Be it copy it, modify it, learn from it, share it, sell it, or even destroy it should I so be inclined. If someone else has rights to my property then I’m not actually buying it, I’m purchasing a privilage to use it, in short I’m renting it. Artists and creators of all kinds need to get over this idea they can lay claim to something AFTER they’ve sold it, yes even after they’ve released it. I agree wholeheartedly with the original poster. Knowledge is owned by all and it’s not that the creators shouldn’t be rewarded but that it’s damned naive to believe you can lay claim to something after you’ve uploaded it.


#4

I know that some folks think that, but you’re not being forced to consume some content (or buy a CD ROM), so I don’t agree that freedom and privacy are the two arguments that can be used here.

There is an argument for what you want to claim and the argument is that copying and multiplying one’s digital content does not deprive him from his property (you’re just making additional copies, while his original is still available to him).

That is true, of course, but I do believe that on the free market the producer can make copies available only under terms acceptable to him. The consumer does not need to agree to them and can watch/listen something else. The missing part is there’s no way to enforce this contract and many consumers violate it unknowingly (to which someone opposing my view would again say “who was hurt?”) and so on and so forth…


#5

Whether I’m free to buy the copyrighted media in general or not is irrelivent. It’s not about whether one is free to purchase copyrighted material or not. It’s whether the authority is legitmatized to invade one’s privacy in order to enforce copyright and thereby compromise one’s freedom. You need to do the same thing in order to censor people for “moral” reasons. Everyone hates “terrorists” right? (Note I’m using this as an example.) If your aim is censor “terrorism” or to stop “terrorists” then you need to monitor peoople’s communications. This means you are justified to invade their freedoms and violate their rights. Example is the TSA and naked body scanners at airports. Because people buy into the notion of security they sacrifice their freedom. Same with copyright. In order to fight “pirates” we allow things like DMCA takedowns of whole websites in the name of “copyright infringement.” Where does this end? All someone has to do is post something with copyright, or even just ask to have the site taken down, effectively creating a witch hunt. All because you have a mentality of monitoring and enforcement of copyright. The freedom in question has nothing to do with purchasing copyrighted material or not.

What contract? Again just because you produce something and distribute it doesn’t automatically opt the listener into a signed contract with you. Moreover making digital copies costs you no resources therefore to charge people additional money for it is a form of artificial scarcity. You are attempting to create scarcity from what is obviously abundant. And further more in order to “enforce” your artificial scarcity on others you would then try to dictate what they do with their computers, in essence have them also forgo the obvious abundance of making digital copies. Where does this end? As I said copyright and freedom are incompatible because in order for copyright to work you need to infringe on the freedom of the end user and everyone around them. Say you had 3 people. Bob, Joe and Mary. Bob buys a copyrighted CD. Joe downloads a CD under the creative commons and Mary decides to pirate the copyrighted CD and download the creative commons music. Now you as the artist want to know who rightfully has your music and who does not. How do you do that without invading their privacy? How do you do that without telling them not to copy or share? The moment you declare you own the music and that you have rights to it you presume to state you have a right to tell someone else what they can do with their technology.


#6

Whether I’m free to buy the copyrighted media in general or not is irrelivent. It’s not about whether one is free to purchase copyrighted material or not. It’s whether the authority is legitmatized to invade one’s privacy in order to enforce copyright and thereby compromise one’s freedom. You need to do the same thing in order to censor people for “moral” reasons. Everyone hates “terrorists” right? (Note I’m using this as an example.) If your aim is censor “terrorism” or to stop “terrorists” then you need to monitor peoople’s communications. This means you are justified to invade their freedoms and violate their rights. Example is the TSA and naked body scanners at airports. Because people buy into the notion of security they sacrifice their freedom. Same with copyright. In order to fight “pirates” we allow things like DMCA takedowns of whole websites in the name of “copyright infringement.” Where does this end? All someone has to do is post something with copyright, or even just ask to have the site taken down, effectively creating a witch hunt. All because you have a mentality of monitoring and enforcement of copyright. The freedom in question has nothing to do with purchasing copyrighted material or not.

What contract? Again just because you produce something and distribute it doesn’t automatically opt the listener into a signed contract with you. Moreover making digital copies costs you no resources therefore to charge people additional money for it is a form of artificial scarcity. You are attempting to create scarcity from what is obviously abundant. And further more in order to “enforce” your artificial scarcity on others you would then try to dictate what they do with their computers, in essence have them also forgo the obvious abundance of making digital copies. Where does this end? As I said copyright and freedom are incompatible because in order for copyright to work you need to infringe on the freedom of the end user and everyone around them. Say you had 3 people. Bob, Joe and Mary. Bob buys a copyrighted CD. Joe downloads a CD under the creative commons and Mary decides to pirate the copyrighted CD and download the creative commons music. Now you as the artist want to know who rightfully has your music and who does not. How do you do that without invading their privacy? How do you do that without telling them not to copy or share? The moment you declare you own the music and that you have rights to it you presume to state you have a right to tell someone else what they can do with their technology.

If you took some clay and shaped it into a sculpture and tried to sell the sculpture that would work because you’d be exchanging money (a finite resource) for the sculpture (another finite resource) that was made from clay (another finite resource). But if you scanned the sculpture into a digital file you’d be transforming it from a finite resource into an infinite digital resource. Well perhaps technically information does have a real world energy cost but the scale is vastly different. If you’re talking about running a computer with a $80 1TB hard drive that alone by itself puts the scale of the cost of a single file in perspective. Nevermind transmission speeds and space stored on other people’s drives. At the end of the day you are dealing with something that can be copied with a mere click of the mouse instead of expending real time and resources.


#7

(You posted the same reply twice, maybe you can delete one).

That’s what I’m saying: it can be arranged so that you are not.
If one shows movies on his private property (e.g. movie theater), you are not free to purchase it. He could condition his invitation to visit his property for a given fee under the condition that you agree not to make unauthorized recordings on his property and ask you to put a $10,000 deposit (interest-paying, it doesn’t matter) to ensure that you deliver on your commitments.

  • One can refuse the offer so there is no force involved
  • One can have no expectation of privacy on another person’s property

The terrorist suspect stuff is different because it is your information (that you generated/created by speaking or writing your thoughts). When someone is creating sound by playing back his record, you claim you are free to copy it, but when the government wants to do the same, it’s supposedly improper. Why should you conversation belong to you and why should you be able to restrict someone’s freedom to listen to it?

The TSA stuff is different. I think the problem there is mostly due to the overreaching State (I don’t want to google this for obvious reasons, but I think if you go to smaller airports that aren’t under the federal jurisdiction they don’t have body scanners, etc).

About the enforcement example I said I agree, there’s no way to enforce that. But there may be a way to strictly control the distribution in ways similar to what I described above. Currently it doesn’t pay to do that (it’d be too expensive to execute and they’d lose too much revenue from paying customers who couldn’t consume the content that way), but that’s just a practical side of it.

As I said at the very beginning I am aware of arguments why digital goods shouldn’t be copyrightable, but the contract argument makes sense to me personally.


#8

If the owner of the property did not respect my privacy then why would I enter it regardless of whatever goods he was selling? I would disagree with you there. One’s property is their territory which means it follows that they’re responsible for the moral principles they uphold there. If you do not respect the privacy of those on your land then why would people want to enter your territory? In short if you are a self declared surveylance state why would anyone want to visit? Why not go to the movie theatre up the road that DOES respect one’s privacy?

Furthermore by restricting screenings of one’s media to theatres one is limiting one’s audience to a geographic location and economic demographic. Furthermore just because you make a rule there are no recordings allowed doesn’t mean people will follow that rule and all it takes is a couple uploaders to leak the movie to the net. Also minors are not allowed to sign contracts (yet, damned the regulations) so in addition to all this by using this contract model you are screening out the younger segment of the population.

Are you honestly comparing a music cd or a movie to someone’s personal correspondence? The music or movie is release with the intention of being public the private corespondence is not. But let’s roll with this for a moment. Ok let’s assume they are the same. From a technical standpoint I can agree with you which makes talking on the phone about anything private rather stupid. We could get into a big conversation about encryption and security culture here but suffice it to say our current means of communication is not secure. However how do you think the public would react if the government, or anyone else, just started reading your mail and tapping your phone calls? They’d raise holy hell. Why? Because there is a cultural assumption of trust and privacy in place: it’s anti-culture to do that. Yes from a technical standpoint you’re absolutely right which is why I believe people should get off the phone network and use voip calls, preferablly encrypted voip calls instead of the phone. They should encrypt their emails and instant messages. This is why I’m so excited and fanatical about maidsafe. Good god what are we going to do about snail mail? How do we encrypt that? I did have this one idea for a project based on PGP locks that would be applied to a box. Maybe that’ll be produced down the road. But right now as long as the gov’t has laws on the books that protect a citizen’s rights to privacy then they need to respect them. And if they don’t want to then remove the laws and be upfront about it and face the revolution that will ensue.


#9

The very problem with this post (not your comment(s) to it) is that the author does not understand the difference between right and morality (I was stupid to bite and waste my time…), but maybe it’ll help to revisit. Here’s a simple example:

  • If I’m not a good swimmer and I see someone drowning, do I have the right to remain onshore? Yes.
  • Would it be considered immoral to not try to rescue the drowing person if the likelihood of me drowning is just 10%? Yes (in most cultures).
    So while I have the right to remain idle, it may be considered immoral for me to do that. On the other hand, I don’t have to accept someone else’s morality (maybe I belong to some religion that forbids swimming).
    Even if we agree that the owner must uphold some principles, we can’t tell what they may be, so that argument doesn’t lead us anywhere. Maybe he belongs to Director Cult keeps the sacred knowledge of moviemaking secret from outsiders and he’s already doing his best to show you the movie under the condition that you don’t copy it because you may cause his excommunication. (You still have the right to do that, but if you contractually obliged to not do that, you may be liable for damages). In any case, we can’t possibly know what one’s moral principles are.
    The only thing we can tell - based on natural law (and we may disagree even on that*) - is what each side’s rights may be.
  • A person who does not subscribe to that would say the exact situation would depends on local rules and regulations, another would say that it should be completely arbitrary. That’s why there’s no end to this discussion. Even libertarians disagree about copyrights and patents.

In the sense that they’re both digital property, yes.
A vocalist records his voice and digitally leverages it to sell music.
A private teacher can have his voice recorded and that can be leveraged to sell e-learning service. If your teach someone how to operate software or install MaidSafe and charge for that, if they record the session and post your instructions online, until next major update or bug you may be out of business.

I’m not trying to be puritan about this and I also listen and watch to digital content copied by 3rd parties (most popular YouTube content belongs to that category), but I am not convinced that is right. I know the both sides of this argument (and the 3rd, completely incoherent “approach” by the topic author) and my current thinking is in worst case scenario authors should guard access to their content and ask consumers to contractually oblige to not make verbatim copies of the content.
As I mentioned above, if it was like that, it’d be impractical and while it’d guards the content better, it would also make the author less money, so the economics of this are currently calling for mixed methods - cast the net wide and let the small fish go. Another unfortunate consequence (or externality, one may say) that because of that we now have “combo stars” who are mediocre singers with good looks, because content copying has made it very difficult to survive on signing and music alone so they both sing and dance as well as shoot/record ads.


#10

Nice reasoned arguments throughout, just thought was worth mentioning as an example to others - not hair ruffling…lol


#11

Yes morality is subjective. So are values. The thing is we derive our rights from our subjective values. When someone believes in a value they defend it. If you believe that people have the inalienable right to free speech, that all human beings are born with that right, you’ll defend that value. If you believed you had a right to the free exchange and use of information then you’d defend that value. Or if you believed in ownership of one’s property you’d defend that value. etc etc. Over time as a value is defended and more people align themselves with that position it’s adopted as a “right,”, or rather the belief that it’s a right rather than a mere value is ascribed to by the populace. A right can not be bestowed by an authority, that’s a privilage. Moreover rights cannot be taken away. They can be violated and abused but if you believe you have a right to something no one can take that from you because self is the source of rights not an authority. But as I said in the beginning of all this we derive our “rights” from our values and values like morality is subjective. The only way you maintain your rights is if you defend them. One could argue that if one can be saved one has the right to be saved but that would be a hard pitch for most people and therefore that value would not be adopted by a lot of people as that would create a sense of obligation to help others rather than helping them out of a sense of empathy.

This just cracked me up. Seriously I was sitting here having a good belly laugh for a few minutes. Director’s Cult of moviemaking? ROFL That’s hilarious. As for your example about contracts and liability yes that is true but contracts are negotiations and both parties can remove and add terms until it’s mutually agreeable. (A lot of people don’t know this and it’s always aggrivating for me when I run into a digital “contract” where I can’t strike out terms on. A static document that you read through and press a check mark or button for is not a correct digital version of a contract. Each term on the contract should have it’s own checkbox and if left unchecked then the signer needs to fill out alternative terms. But digital conventions currently assume the contract writer has supreme authority over the signer which is wrong.) So you could in theory cross out any terms you don’t like, or put penalties or clauses into the contract to your advantage. Or you might be of an organization that simply agreed to pay your liabilities for leaking the content to them who would in turn upload it. Or you could upload the content anonymously without having Director Cult pin anything on you.

I find the notion of digital property and more specificially the leveraging of it rather naive. Once you digitalize something and upload it you’re basically asking for it to be pirated unless you encrypt it. And have you noticed how sales of DRM media plummet? Basically inasmuch as a creator tries to “leverage” their product it devalues the digital product being marketed. If you asked your consumer to sign a contract not to copy your stuff either they’d break the contract and find a way to protect themselves from you like they do from the government OR they’d simply refuse to buy your product in the first place like a lot of people do with DRM games, or proprietary software in general. If someone uploaded your content to the net and it went viral even if you sued them into the ground your content would still be viral and out there. And then you’re back to your original problem: How do you tell who has a contract and who doesn’t? So you’re replacing government with private contract law, so what? It’s still naive to believe such a thing can be enforced or even agreed to in the first place.

What makes you say the topic author is incoherent? He makes perfect sense to me. What seems to be confusing you? Also I agree with you that the only way to keep one’s digital property exclusive and under control somewhat is to encrypt it and use contracts but even then it’s not perfect and would only work between trusted parties. Perhaps you could have a smart contract system that had permissions found like those on Second Life that you could forbid copy, modify or transfer. A lot of times sold on SL are no copy and no transfer. However this does tie the item in question to a single account so you need to be careful with this. If you say the user can’t copy then they can’t do backups if their computer fails. If you say no transfer then the user can’t move the data to another drive. Such restrictions can be very aggrivating for customers and inhibit sales.

Also if someone was recording me I’d want to explain what version of software I was using and do a disclaimer regarding new versions. If someone was recording me without my consent or knowledge then i could smack them with violating my privacy and/or consent since I did not consent to be recorded. Furthermore if I sold an ebook I wouldn’t be selling the ebook, I’d be selling COPY OF the ebook. Meaning I’d be selling a DISC or other packaging with an ebook on it. I don’t know if you remember this but back in the day before digital downloads and steam we used to get our games on CDs. In fact you could get a big demo disk of a bunch of a different games, you could get music the same way with a bunch of sample tracks form various artists. Now think for a moment: The MUSIC has no economical value, it can easily be copied, pirated and downloaded. The DISC on the other hand does have economical value, it’s a tangible thing. And it’s cheap to burn your music onto a disc. So if I was an artist I’d make my art freely available for download online then I’d make it an option to pay for a disk at a small fee for the music on it. You could even do combinations like this and have custom orders. And this can actually have advantages over digital downloads because not only do you get the disk but you also don’t have to worry about download speeds, lag, quality vs space and speed (mp3s are lower quality than wav format on CDs or FLAC which are higher quality but take up more space), playing the disc in your car or stero, and it would be a boon to the album artists. All from the realization you’re selling the package not the contents.

Or you could say the artists need to revise their strategy in how to receive rewards for their art. Instead of requiring compensation for a CD broadcast songs on youtube and provide an account/paypa/bitcoin address/safecoin address for donations from their fans. Not enough donations in appreciation and they cut the broadcast or try something different in their art. As I said this idea of monetizing information has to go.


#12

Regarding rights, the conclusion I have reached is that principles need to be universal.

If you decide that theft is fine, then everyone should be able to steal with impunity, for example. Suggesting that one group can steal, but another cannot doesn’t cut it.

I would suggest that this is so simple to grasp, that the propaganda merchants try so hard to redefine things. Tax, not theft. War not murder, democracy not mob rule, etc. To articulate clearly, without redefinitions won’t work for these people.

Holding two diametrically opposing principles doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Subsequently, those who attempt to maintain both positions will ultimately be outed, then ignored. It all takes time though, but at least the internet is communicating the observations more efficiently than ever.


#13

Principles can’t be universal because everyone holds different values. The only way you’ll get universal values is to form communities according to what people believe or to supress dissent. I think we’ve had enough of the latter and are moving towards the former.


#14

Principles can’t be universal between different people, but they can be for the individual. I cannot both be for and against theft at the same time. I cannot be both for and against murder at the same time. They are opposing positions.

That isn’t to say some may think murder and theft are fine. It just means that they have to accept that their property and their life can be taken with impunity too.


#15

True and this is more of a question of integrity and hypocrisy. If you denounce murder but support concepts like abortion and war then you lack integrity and are a hypocrite. You know it’s not even the fact that taxation is theft that bugs me but rather that the populace doesn’t acknowledge it’s theft and there isn’t any cohesiveness to their principles because if they acknowledged the government was stealing from them they’d either rise up or they’d accept that as their value and adjust the legal code accordingly to make other forms of theft acceptable as well. Same with the banks and fraud! Is it okay? Yes or no?


#16

I think propaganda plays a big role in this. People have been conditioned to think that taxation isn’t theft, even though it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I suspect few people question it, especially when it is referred to as perfectly natural and normal.

I don’t think it will last though. Awareness is growing as people freely discuss these concepts and definitions.


#17

Only if you accept your Newspeak that Abortion = Murder.


#18

How did we get to abortion here?

Abortion = copyright on human reproduction held by moral authorities of the community?


#19

No actually you would be the one with the “Newspeak” that Abortion != murder given that’s a relatively new eugenics concept that’s trying to be pushed under the guise of “free choice.” But that’s really not a conversation I want drag out into this topic here.

In answer here: it was during the discussion about integrity.

The last direct discussion directly partaining to copyright was when I replied to your post @janitor and then we veered off into a discussion about the consistancy and integrity of values.