0488: "Steal This Comic"

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tricky77puzzle
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby tricky77puzzle » Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:15 pm UTC

luketheduke wrote:
Angelbaka wrote:first, a few facts:
1) There is now and never will be any form of encryption, protection or digital signature that cannot be broken so that it's source material cannot be reproduced. Moore's law of processing only reinforces this fact, as the only possible exception is something that takes to long for anyone but the creator to decrypt.


In practice, this is true, however I have to point out that technically you are wrong.


But really, not everyone can afford to use one-time pads, as they are tedious and take a lot of time to process, as well as being technically infeasible over the Internet.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:43 am UTC

Anyways, that claim should probably be reworded as:
"There is not now and never will be any form of encryption, protection or digital signature that provides Customer X with the ability to listen to a song/watch a movie/play a game/whatever, but protect said song/movie/game/whatever from being reproduced (by Customer X, or otherwise)."
Since that's more what DRM is about.

OTP doesn't work here.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Prince Myshkin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:48 am UTC

Information IS free and always has been. It's just when a post-scarcity world clashes with a scarcity-bound economic system that we get crazy problems with no solutions like DRM software and intellectual property.

More on that: Scarcity is really the issue here. Computers essentially make information totally free (unless we place restrictions on it for our particular purposes), and our access to it is only a function of the value of whatever ELSE we do with our time and how LONG it takes us to use computers to do what we want. Electricity is folded into time, and everyone remembers Moore's Law for free computers. All that's left is how time translates into things with less than total abundance, and that's where money comes in... Money is crucially tied to getting material goods and material-restricted services, which includes food and shelter (and computers and medicine, in the US). If we had Star Trek replicators working for us, would we really NEED money to give incentives to create culture? No, people would create and distribute culture and science for free because those are things we love to do.

Admitting a bit of purpose-placing, it's still possible to see this in the difference between societies with high standards of living in the present day. The most technologically "advanced" nations with the highest standards of living/lowest poverty rates tend to have service-based economies, the most scientific research and more people with careers devoted to participating in culture.

I'd love for someone to contradict me as long as they can cite something, since I don't have any handy citations for this and I'd like some.

Edit: This is not an endorsement of communism.


The major flaw in your argument as I see it is that you're equating the transfer of digital information with the substance or material being transmitted as data. Copyright law was established to protect original works from unauthorized use by those who didn't create it or pay for the right to use it. It evolved out of fears that the powerful and wealthy would steal or otherwise exploit the hard work of others without the creator receiving any benefit or even acknowledgement. While most of us look at things like the DMCA and see a bunch of rich people trying to squeeze every last penny from us, they also serve the purpose of protecting artists. Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.

As misguided or flawed as some of these laws are, the problem of piracy is a real one. We can all site statistics or anecdotal evidence about going out and buying CDs or other merchandise or seeing concerts, and thus supporting artists, but it is their right as artists (ignoring the record companies) to decide how their work is disseminated. While the transfer of data is free, that argument is essentially the same as stating that tapes or CDs are only worth the cost of a blank disc. You aren't buying data transfer, you're buying a work of art that took hundreds of hours to create.

While I agree that things had gotten out of hand with record company profits and absurd prices for music, a full elimination of these laws would do a greater disservice to artists than keeping them in place.

That said, DRM is the worst idea in the history of mass media. Sharing what you own is a risk that exists in all businesses and should be chalked up to the cost of doing business. The reason pirating went rampant in the early part of the decade was because the industry got greedy and raised prices to the point that people chose not to purchase music. Now that prices are down, the industry is doing well and record sales are up again. This despite the relative ease with which any one of us still can (and probably will) pirate gigabytes worth of music. Some people will always skirt the rules, but punishing the innocent to get to the guilty is a strategy that only ends in disaster.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby luketheduke » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:23 am UTC

phlip wrote:OTP doesn't work here.


I never contested that.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Cleverbeans » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:19 pm UTC

Prince Myshkin wrote:The major flaw in your argument as I see it is that you're equating the transfer of digital information with the substance or material being transmitted as data. Copyright law was established to protect original works from unauthorized use by those who didn't create it or pay for the right to use it.


Like libraries right? Holy shit, their everywhere, QUICK GET A LAWYER.

It evolved out of fears that the powerful and wealthy would steal or otherwise exploit the hard work of others without the creator receiving any benefit or even acknowledgement.


So you agree that file sharing has nothing to do with the original intent of this weak law.

While most of us look at things like the DMCA and see a bunch of rich people trying to squeeze every last penny from us, they also serve the purpose of protecting artists. Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.


Sorry that's just a huge pile of dung. Most small independent artists who really need the cash aren't suffering due to file sharing, because no one cares enough to share their files. They generate the majority of their income from doing shows. Hell I have friends who make a good living busking. Oh, and last I checked 50 cent wasn't living in an apartment either....

As misguided or flawed as some of these laws are, the problem of piracy is a real one.


What problem is that exactly? Sharing and goodwill? The improvement of the human condition through technology? The term piracy is a complete misnomer, if you want to prosecute someone from achieving financial gain from file sharing go for it. Personally I've never received a red cent from file sharing.

While the transfer of data is free, that argument is essentially the same as stating that tapes or CDs are only worth the cost of a blank disc. You aren't buying data transfer, you're buying a work of art that took hundreds of hours to create.


Then they should stop creating it. Of course they won't, just like printers didn't stop publishing books when libraries became common place. If anything less shitty music will get put out, which by all accounts is a good thing.

While I agree that things had gotten out of hand with record company profits and absurd prices for music, a full elimination of these laws would do a greater disservice to artists than keeping them in place.


But at such a significant cost to society as a whole as to negate their claims. I'm sure that emancipation was a disservice to slave owners too, but it was still morally culpable.

Now that prices are down, the industry is doing well and record sales are up again. This despite the relative ease with which any one of us still can (and probably will) pirate gigabytes worth of music.


So basically file sharing isn't really hurting the market, anymore then say, libraries hurt the book market. So much for the suffering of artists argument...
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Dezign » Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:20 pm UTC

Prince Myshkin wrote:
Spoiler:
The major flaw in your argument as I see it is that you're equating the transfer of digital information with the substance or material being transmitted as data. Copyright law was established to protect original works from unauthorized use by those who didn't create it or pay for the right to use it. It evolved out of fears that the powerful and wealthy would steal or otherwise exploit the hard work of others without the creator receiving any benefit or even acknowledgement. While most of us look at things like the DMCA and see a bunch of rich people trying to squeeze every last penny from us, they also serve the purpose of protecting artists. Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.

As misguided or flawed as some of these laws are, the problem of piracy is a real one. We can all site statistics or anecdotal evidence about going out and buying CDs or other merchandise or seeing concerts, and thus supporting artists, but it is their right as artists (ignoring the record companies) to decide how their work is disseminated. While the transfer of data is free, that argument is essentially the same as stating that tapes or CDs are only worth the cost of a blank disc. You aren't buying data transfer, you're buying a work of art that took hundreds of hours to create.

While I agree that things had gotten out of hand with record company profits and absurd prices for music, a full elimination of these laws would do a greater disservice to artists than keeping them in place.

That said, DRM is the worst idea in the history of mass media. Sharing what you own is a risk that exists in all businesses and should be chalked up to the cost of doing business. The reason pirating went rampant in the early part of the decade was because the industry got greedy and raised prices to the point that people chose not to purchase music. Now that prices are down, the industry is doing well and record sales are up again. This despite the relative ease with which any one of us still can (and probably will) pirate gigabytes worth of music. Some people will always skirt the rules, but punishing the innocent to get to the guilty is a strategy that only ends in disaster.
Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.


The major point my post was going for was that intellectual property has value because things that aren't intellectual property have value. We wouldn't have nearly the same systems in place for dealing with intellectual property if all basic human needs were effortlessly obtainable (hence the sci-fi analogy). Monetary value arises from the utility of money, not some nebulous concept like "God put the value there." So why do we trade utility for ordered information? Because ordering that information cost some other human time and effort they could have spent accruing utility. When utility is no longer a problem, the economy moves upwards to more abstract concepts.

That's starting to sound too much like a socialist endorsement, instead of what I intended. It's not; I think technology is the answer to this, and in many ways already has solved large tracts of the scarcity problem, particularly through agriculture, modern public works and a few instances of mass medicine (housing is harder to pin down for now).

The key is technology has already solved all informational scarcity. The very existence of the concept of the internet has now assured this. The question is now, What happens when a post-scarcity society begins to arise from a scarcity-bound world? Like a prisoner by Michelangelo, escaping from the marble, it seems unfinished, though the lion's share of the work has been done. DRM techniques are circumstantially important, not basal and timeless. Even today there are ways music artists generate their personal necessities and much more, without requiring an artificially contrived stranglehold on the subset of information they brought into being. See the replies about concerts and, more generally, anything open source.

In the short run, DRM is clearly a required technology for certain industries. The core of intellectual property, as structured information, is not the same sort of property as food or gold or clothes or cars still are. As a business concept IP exists only to bridge the two worlds of differing scarcities: Necessary since humans live in both of them, but not fundamental to all information. It's quite true we're buying more than just data transfer when we purchase a music CD, but why is the song, the ordered information, monetized? Why is the song (or software, etc) turned into a commodity, instead of concentrating the value on the creators? The answer is it's an artifact of an antiquated age with different technology. Even though we do value the utility or pleasure of the order we perceive in information, modern technology has purified our interaction with it, and information is no longer compatible with legitimately scarce goods.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Prince Myshkin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:54 pm UTC

It evolved out of fears that the powerful and wealthy would steal or otherwise exploit the hard work of others without the creator receiving any benefit or even acknowledgement.

So you agree that file sharing has nothing to do with the original intent of this weak law.


I was referring to copyright law in general, not the DMCA or DRM. So yes, filesharing had nothing to do with a body of law whose origins date back to just after the invention of the printing press. I was attempting to discuss the merits of copyright law in general, and support the general idea that people should have some rights in something they created because there is a common misconstrual of the anti-DRM argument as a rally against all copyright law.

While most of us look at things like the DMCA and see a bunch of rich people trying to squeeze every last penny from us, they also serve the purpose of protecting artists. Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.


Sorry that's just a huge pile of dung. Most small independent artists who really need the cash aren't suffering due to file sharing, because no one cares enough to share their files. They generate the majority of their income from doing shows. Hell I have friends who make a good living busking. Oh, and last I checked 50 cent wasn't living in an apartment either....


Again, talking about copyright law in general. Guess what, with no copyright law, all those independent artists would just get their material stolen by major labels and get nothing in return. As I said before, I was addressing the fact that this thread had begun to discuss the purpose of all copyrights, not just DRM issues.

While I agree that things had gotten out of hand with record company profits and absurd prices for music, a full elimination of these laws would do a greater disservice to artists than keeping them in place.


But at such a significant cost to society as a whole as to negate their claims. I'm sure that emancipation was a disservice to slave owners too, but it was still morally culpable.


Once again, copyright vs. DMCA/DRM issues. Also....emancipation? We're 3 posts in to a discussion and already getting dangerously close to Godwining each other.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby tricky77puzzle » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:20 am UTC

Prince Myshkin wrote:Again, talking about copyright law in general. Guess what, with no copyright law, all those independent artists would just get their material stolen by major labels and get nothing in return. As I said before, I was addressing the fact that this thread had begun to discuss the purpose of all copyrights, not just DRM issues.


I beg to differ. We were only really talking about digital copyright. For example, I respect every aspect of copyright that doesn't have to do with distribution. Stuff like accreditation, exclusive right to monetary gain (notice I said "exclusive" and not "guaranteed") and the like, I have no trouble respecting.

But when it comes to digital copyright, the playing field is entirely different. Even if you say it "should" be the same, it won't be.

Wow, last post in 2 days. Let's hope this isn't revived...

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby phillipsjk » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:24 pm UTC

tricky77puzzle wrote:I beg to differ. We were only really talking about digital copyright. For example, I respect every aspect of copyright that doesn't have to do with distribution. Stuff like accreditation, exclusive right to monetary gain (notice I said "exclusive" and not "guaranteed") and the like, I have no trouble respecting.

But when it comes to digital copyright, the playing field is entirely different. Even if you say it "should" be the same, it won't be.

I hate to be pedantic, but copyrighted works have been distributed in "digital" form since the printing press. The term has evolved slightly in the computer age: to refer to a device that uses distinct states, rather than continuous states analogous to the real world. My implication being that character sets are obviously digital symbols.

Funk & Wagnalls Standard(TM) College Dictionary Canadian Edition, C 1963 wrote:digital ... adj. 1. Of, pertaining to, or like the fingers or digits. 2. Having digits. ...


That said, I don't understand what you mean by "digital copyright," so can't fairly comment on the rest of your idea. For things like accreditation, modified trademark law may be a better fit (Trademarks don't expire).

tricky77puzzle wrote:Wow, last post in 2 days. Let's hope this isn't revived...


I didn't really want to start debating in this thread anyway. I have other plans for this thread. :twisted:

Edit: typo.
PS: it appears the previous poster did an edit as well, or can see into the future.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby tricky77puzzle » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:48 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:
tricky77puzzle wrote:But when it comes to digital copyright, the playing field is entirely different. Even if you say it "should" be the same, it won't be.

I hate to be pedantic, but copyrighted works have been distributed in "digital" form since the printing press. The term has evolved slightly in the computer age: to refer to a device that uses distinct states, rather than continuous states analogous to the real world. My implication being that character sets are obviously digital symbols.

Funk & Wagnalls Standard(TM) College Dictionary Canadian Edition, C 1963 wrote:digital ... adj. 1. Of, pertaining to, or like the fingers or digits. 2. Having digits. ...



You're not being pedantic; merely deviating from the topic at hand. I really meant "electronic copyright" or "computerized copyright". Is that a better term? Because, like you said, the term "digital" is debatable.

That said, I don't understand what you mean by "digital copyright," so can't fairly comment on the rest of your idea. For things like accreditation, modified trademark law may be a better fit (Trademarks don't expire).


Then maybe we should modify copyright law to make it more like trademark law. That would certainly serve that portion of copyright law.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Angelbaka » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:33 am UTC

phlip wrote:Anyways, that claim should probably be reworded as:
"There is not now and never will be any form of encryption, protection or digital signature that provides Customer X with the ability to listen to a song/watch a movie/play a game/whatever, but protect said song/movie/game/whatever from being reproduced (by Customer X, or otherwise)."
Since that's more what DRM is about.

OTP doesn't work here.

adopted as offical statement, thank you. Still, in practice, my statement works. Eh.
tricky77puzzle wrote:I'll analyze your quotes from the fundamentalist anti-pirate's point of view (please note that I'm not really on their side):

Angelbaka wrote:Now, I will modify the analogy: The government mandates that you have to pay the people for your air. Now, stupid people and moderately intelligent and self-righteously moral people buy the air and are all broke. Truly intelligent people simply keep breathing...
You get my point?


The problem with this analogy is that air is an essential resource. You need air to live. You don't "need" digital music to live.

My analogy works with a non-essential resource, such as a rock outside your house or seawater. Who is going to charge you for something you can simply walk outside to get? Who is going to buy it? [note that by rock, I mean a common material, not diamonds. Although, if you have diamonds in your backyard, the analogy still stands...]
tricky77puzzle wrote:
Now, this is a LONG way off from becoming a reality, for two reasons:
1) The world has never had to deal with a limitless resource that it created, and
2) The resource in question was formerly limited.

This means that everyone hasn't really gotten to the point where they realize, oh, hey, we can't regulate this.


Yes we can. We regulate about 90% of regular users who can't hack the music DRM themselves. They rely on the uploaders. Take care of those people, and POOF! We have a sudden flow of income.

Actually, the internet has shown that if you take one away, many will replace him. Something like Heracles' many headed hydra... so, even if you remove the seeders (and good luck), more will ALWAYS replace them. Besides, as far as I know, the development and public distribution of programs like Hymn isn't actually illegal, removing the know-how factor.
tricky77puzzle wrote:
simple: not everything they produce is limitless. Merchandise will still be sold, and concerts do not make themselves magically happen regardless of any existence clause on the band playing. I pirate almost all of my music, and I still pay for concerts. Why? Because it's fun. So, there is a market for these things whether piracy happens or not, and the Artist WILL survive (if they can stand working for a living instead of getting drunk/high/laid while pretending to write music). End result: 'rock star' lifestyle dies. Congratulations, the artists will have to work for a living...


You don't think creating music is "work"? Not every musician is a rockstar. They struggle to make a living because of pirates. If people actually paid money for the music, the musicians would be a lot better off.

Non-'mainstream' [for lack of a better word] artists rarely make anywhere near enough money off of actual CD sales for any to be displeased by the loss if it means much better advertising. Also, many of them make said money of sales AT CONCERTS, which would then shift the money to my "Merch" category, because chances are that those CDs would sell anyway. If those people buy it now, they'll probably buy it later.
tricky77puzzle wrote:
and for everyone saying, "HEY!! MOST ALREADY DO!" well, guess what? NOTHING WILL CHANGE FOR THEM. anyone who likes their music will put a copy on the net. They will tell (and give) their friends about the music. Their friends say, hey, I like this band, attend a concert, buy some merchandise, and, wow, band gets more money. So, this HELPS the 'starving' artists.


But by taking away the price of the music, you're making them rely on this "help". Why not give them two lifelines instead of just one?

most already really do rely on just one. (see above)
tricky77puzzle wrote:
Really, this works on ANY form of digital media. Web comics are proof... probably the best example in existence. The only things holding us back from this are bloated copyright laws, the music industry (not the artists) and our own fear of change. Mostly, it's copyright laws... witch are intended to guarantee a name, not a profit.


Copyright law was originally created so that no one could distribute the work without the creator's permission. If this meant the creator got royalties, so be it.

: and you can see where your argument will fail when posed to their logic. Both sides are immutable.

While I do agree to disagree on copyright..... I don't believe that copyright law has ever done anything other then make a work public, because in order to copyright something, That Something has to be put on file with the copyright, where anyone can look it up (as a reference, here, I'd like to use Heinlein's "Friday", which contains a small part about the public availability of a device called 'shipstone' and how it was kept secret soley because it's creator didn't copyright it.) thus, if that WAS the intent, we picked just about the worst way to do it, and my claim that inflated and bloated copyright is preventing progress still stands.
EDIT: Damn, but that's a long post. Also, thank you for posing this side of the debate for me Tricky77puzzle, I do like having a counterpoint to argue. (must be something about my personality.) No insult is intended in my replies, and I apologies if any is taken.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby scarletmanuka » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:42 am UTC

Angelbaka wrote:While I do agree to disagree on copyright..... I don't believe that copyright law has ever done anything other then make a work public, because in order to copyright something, That Something has to be put on file with the copyright, where anyone can look it up (as a reference, here, I'd like to use Heinlein's "Friday", which contains a small part about the public availability of a device called 'shipstone' and how it was kept secret soley because it's creator didn't copyright it.) thus, if that WAS the intent, we picked just about the worst way to do it, and my claim that inflated and bloated copyright is preventing progress still stands.

That is incorrect. Patents work this way, but copyright automatically applies from the moment the work is created; the work does not need to be registered anywhere. However, if you have an expectation that people will try to violate your copyright and you want to sue those who do, it's a good idea to register your work somewhere reasonably official to give credible evidence of priority. Otherwise you may have only your word against theirs that you created it first.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby tricky77puzzle » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:49 pm UTC

Once again, from the antipirate's point of view, not mine (except for analogical inconsistencies, but whatever):

Angelbaka wrote:My analogy works with a non-essential resource, such as a rock outside your house or seawater. Who is going to charge you for something you can simply walk outside to get? Who is going to buy it? [note that by rock, I mean a common material, not diamonds. Although, if you have diamonds in your backyard, the analogy still stands...]


The problem with this analogy is that you cannot simply "walk outside your backyard" to get music. Your internet connection has to go a few hundred kilometres to get where it is.

Here's another analogy people use when debating against piracy:
Let's say people are selling lemonade in front of your front yard. Just because it's your yard, does that mean you're entitled to a free glass of lemonade?

Actually, the internet has shown that if you take one away, many will replace him. Something like Heracles' many headed hydra... so, even if you remove the seeders (and good luck), more will ALWAYS replace them. Besides, as far as I know, the development and public distribution of programs like Hymn isn't actually illegal, removing the know-how factor.


I meant, "take away the seeders and lock 'em up for life". As in, make BitTorrent and P2P, etc. completely illegal, and forcibly removing them and any descendants/offshoots/etc. from the net, using military force if necessary. Even with your Hydra analogy, you can still light a candle on the stub of the head to keep it off. Although many will replace them, we can just repeat the process.

(Note that "using military force if necessary" is pretty radical. I doubt anyone so much against it that they'll pit hacker against hacker, but the analogy is still there.)

Non-'mainstream' [for lack of a better word] artists rarely make anywhere near enough money off of actual CD sales for any to be displeased by the loss if it means much better advertising. Also, many of them make said money of sales AT CONCERTS, which would then shift the money to my "Merch" category, because chances are that those CDs would sell anyway. If those people buy it now, they'll probably buy it later.


But most piracy doesn't happen with non-mainstream artists. Usually, only the most popular ones will get hit with any reasonable degree of hardness.

most already really do rely on just one. (see above)


Like I said, the ones that do don't get "pirated" as much. So it's a non sequitur.

: No matter how much you may argue, they will always try to shoot you down.

By the way, when I said military force, I meant 1984-style military force. If the servers are run anonymously, I would have said, "they should get people from the CIA to hack in and completely fizzle out the servers". That would certainly be effective... but unpolitical. It's not my opinion, just one I created.

EDIT: Damn, but that's a long post. Also, thank you for posing this side of the debate for me Tricky77puzzle, I do like having a counterpoint to argue. (must be something about my personality.) No insult is intended in my replies, and I apologies if any is taken.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Tolchok » Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:37 am UTC

Prince Myshkin wrote:The major flaw in your argument as I see it is that you're equating the transfer of digital information with the substance or material being transmitted as data. Copyright law was established to protect original works from unauthorized use by those who didn't create it or pay for the right to use it. It evolved out of fears that the powerful and wealthy would steal or otherwise exploit the hard work of others without the creator receiving any benefit or even acknowledgement. While most of us look at things like the DMCA and see a bunch of rich people trying to squeeze every last penny from us, they also serve the purpose of protecting artists. Without the potential for monetary gain, they would either be unable or unwilling to spend the time it takes to create any truly worthwhile art (at least in theory) because they literally would not be able to pay their bills.

As misguided or flawed as some of these laws are, the problem of piracy is a real one. We can all site statistics or anecdotal evidence about going out and buying CDs or other merchandise or seeing concerts, and thus supporting artists, but it is their right as artists (ignoring the record companies) to decide how their work is disseminated. While the transfer of data is free, that argument is essentially the same as stating that tapes or CDs are only worth the cost of a blank disc. You aren't buying data transfer, you're buying a work of art that took hundreds of hours to create.

While I agree that things had gotten out of hand with record company profits and absurd prices for music, a full elimination of these laws would do a greater disservice to artists than keeping them in place.

That said, DRM is the worst idea in the history of mass media. Sharing what you own is a risk that exists in all businesses and should be chalked up to the cost of doing business. The reason pirating went rampant in the early part of the decade was because the industry got greedy and raised prices to the point that people chose not to purchase music. Now that prices are down, the industry is doing well and record sales are up again. This despite the relative ease with which any one of us still can (and probably will) pirate gigabytes worth of music. Some people will always skirt the rules, but punishing the innocent to get to the guilty is a strategy that only ends in disaster.


I said I'd leave this forum, and I will leave *again* now, but I'd just like to point out that this is essentially what my arguments were trying to say. But much more eloquent.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby tricky77puzzle » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

Prince Myshkin wrote:That said, DRM is the worst idea in the history of mass media. Sharing what you own is a risk that exists in all businesses and should be chalked up to the cost of doing business. The reason pirating went rampant in the early part of the decade was because the industry got greedy and raised prices to the point that people chose not to purchase music. Now that prices are down, the industry is doing well and record sales are up again. This despite the relative ease with which any one of us still can (and probably will) pirate gigabytes worth of music. Some people will always skirt the rules, but punishing the innocent to get to the guilty is a strategy that only ends in disaster.


Both DRM and expectation of order on the Internet are ridiculous. If you're going to put something out on the Internet, you need to prepare for the consequences. Okay, so ripping music is wrong. People still do it! Please don't say "But if they got off their lazy asses..." no, that's not going to be the case.

If you're going to equate torrenting, limewiring, whatever-ing music off the Internet to walking into a CD store and taking a CD from the shelf without paying a penny, then I'm going to equate eBay to a black market. Same deal, right? You're not buying from an "official source", and it's off the Internet. The only difference is that it's arbitrarily defined as legal.


Let's say you have an entire CD collection (of, say, 400 CD's, spanning 30 years, costing you a total of $20,000 to buy over those 30 years) that you want to sell on eBay for $3,000, but you make a soft copy on your computer. After you sell it, basically what the digital IP rules say is that you have to remove the soft copy from the computer as well. Correct? Because it's not "yours" anymore!

And yet nobody objects to this.

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Re: Steal This Comic

Postby gypkap » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:20 am UTC

VigintiTres wrote:what ever happened to the lost art of buying cds?

Well, I buy them, new or used, but I keep them in storage. They're DRM free, of course.
IIRC all attempts by the record companies to make a CD with DRM would not play with a
standard CD player--a good thing. :lol:

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Julien » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:57 pm UTC

Heh, I still own a copy of Abbie Hoffman's "Steal this book" somewhere...

If you don't mind, I'll share with you my method to acquire music : first, I buy the old second-hand LP at a local store for a few bucks, and if I like it, then I download it for further digital use (i.e make a CD for my car).

Somehow, I bought it before, so it's not pirating, isn't it ? Not that I mind if it is pirating, anyway...
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Re: Steal This Comic

Postby tricky77puzzle » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:31 pm UTC

VigintiTres wrote:what ever happened to the lost art of buying cds?


I'd buy CD's, it's not like I can't pay safely for them... if I had the money for all of them.
I'd buy MP3's off the Internet, it's not like I don't have the money... if I had the method of payment for them.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby brianbotkiller » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:08 pm UTC

I'm sorry, I love your work, but this comic made me really mad.

As a working musician who battles everyday to make money off the music I make, I'd kindly ask you to not perpetuate a stereotype that pirating music is ok just because some companies have done stupid things to "protect" their investments. There are plenty of websites which offer DRM free mp3s, and you can buy music DIRECTLY from the bands and labels, which supports the band and keeps them making music (or in this case, the writer). There are plenty of sites selling DRM free audiobooks. The fact that you tagged on "oh wow, amazon sells drm free mp3s" as an afterthought is still silly.

Let me ask you a question; you are upset about DRM on an audiobook, right? So, you say that the better alternative is to pirate that audiobook, because it's not in the format you want, at the site you went to, right?

So, let's say that you go to the book store to purchase the book. Upon arriving, you find out that the only version of the book is hardback. It's more expensive, and you can't stuff it into your back pocket. So, now that the book isn't in the format you like, is it ok for you to steal that book, because now you don't want to take the time to go to another store, and find it in softback? When you do, do you consider the money that doesn't go back into the production of that book, or the pocket of the writer who DOES NOT have a million dollar publishing deal?

Don't push this bullshit that you should just get your great library of music for free because the two options you tried for buying mp3s made use of DRM. You're on the internet, use it, and find places you can buy music and audio books without DRM. Don't mention "... or insist on DRM free music", after you've already said "just pirate the music you want". It's bullshit, and it hurts artists and writers that deserve support. People take free before they will pay for anything, ESPECIALLY in America, and it'd be nice if people with clout (IE, online comic creators with a huge following) wouldn't make it seem ok to pirate every fucking thing you want. That may not have been your intention, but that hardly matters after you've stated that it's ok to steal what you want.

This free culture bullshit is ruining the lives of musicians and artists that deserve real support, and I'd thank you kindly to consider that the next time you endorse stealing the livelihood and creations of artist you purportedly "support". Support isn't just saying "dude, I like that guy's work", it's going beyond that.

Oh, and final note, I have bought myself some XKCD merch - because good artists deserve support.

(and now I wait for the flood of people to tell me I'm full of shit, have no idea what I'm talking about, and that "piracy" isn't "stealing")

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby phillipsjk » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:51 am UTC

Diplomatic mode activated
Spoiler:
Before responding, I reread the comic. It turns out that brianbotkiller has a valid point. The message can be interpreted as encouraging "piracy" instead of purchasing.

Then, I did a Google (TM) search for Vista "premium content" and got all mad again.

I realize the post appears to be directed at the Comic author. I am not he.


brianbotkiller wrote:...There are plenty of websites which offer DRM free mp3s, and you can buy music DIRECTLY from the bands and labels, which supports the band and keeps them making music (or in this case, the writer). There are plenty of sites selling DRM free audiobooks. The fact that you tagged on "oh wow, amazon sells drm free mp3s" as an afterthought is still silly....

I can guarantee you know more than I do about this, but this comic was written 3 months ago. It is my understanding that the DRM-Free landscape has changed since then. Are you simply referring to independent labels and artists? It is my understanding that the large labels get exclusive distribution rights.

brianbotkiller wrote:Let me ask you a question; you are upset about DRM on an audiobook, right? So, you say that the better alternative is to pirate that audiobook, because it's not in the format you want, at the site you went to, right?

So, let's say that you go to the book store to purchase the book. Upon arriving, you find out that the only version of the book is hardback. It's more expensive, and you can't stuff it into your back pocket. So, now that the book isn't in the format you like, is it ok for you to steal that book, because now you don't want to take the time to go to another store, and find it in softback? When you do, do you consider the money that doesn't go back into the production of that book, or the pocket of the writer who DOES NOT have a million dollar publishing deal?

IMO, the piracy suggestion is supposed to be one of those "only half-joking" things.

Your analogy breaks down because the hard-cover example is of higher quality than soft-cover (though less portable).

I have heard that pirated DVD's can be more user-friendly than the original. For example: you don't get the annoying FBI warning, or unskipable ADs that play before the "feature presentation." Mr. Munroe can't very well suggest that consumers only buy physical CDs. After the Sony-BMG Rootkit fiaoco, you can only trust disks labeled: "Compact Disk; Digital Audio." The thing is, that logo has been silently removed from most commercial CDs.

For Blu-ray (lots of DRM), I think the video and audio resolutions are so ridiculously high as an anti-piracy measure. Somebody watching a 720p or 480p copy would not be missing much detail (short of pausing or focusing on a small portion of the picture).
Edit: I have noticed a trend now that 16:9 televisions are common: "Wide screen" videos are now 2.35:1 instead of 16:9 (1.78:1). This gives an effective 1080 resolution of 817 lines (363 at 480). Maybe that's why the blu-ray resolution is so high.

brianbotkiller wrote:... Don't mention "... or insist on DRM free music", after you've already said "just pirate the music you want". It's bullshit, and it hurts artists and writers that deserve support. .....

Here you make the (understandable) mistake of paraphrasing while using quotes. It is acceptable to substitute your own words [for clarity], so long as you use brackets to indicate the substitutions.

The actual quote: "...If you want a collection you can count on, Pirate it." Obviously a statement about the quality of legit vs pirated copies. It is not our fault you read that as: "just pirate the music you want."

brianbotkiller wrote:This free culture bullshit is ruining the lives of musicians and artists that deserve real support, and I'd thank you kindly to consider that the next time you endorse stealing the livelihood and creations of artist you purportedly "support". Support isn't just saying "dude, I like that guy's work", it's going beyond that.

Oh, and final note, I have bought myself some XKCD merch - because good artists deserve support.

(and now I wait for the flood of people to tell me I'm full of shit, have no idea what I'm talking about, and that "piracy" isn't "stealing")


Thank-you. By bumping this thread, you reminded me that I wanted to translate this comic to french. I was then planing to share the result, as allowed under the Creative Commons "Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Generic" license.

Edit: typo
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby brianbotkiller » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:54 am UTC

"If you want a collection you can count on, pirate it" = the same thing as saying "go out and pirate what you want". That's like saying, "if you want a car you can rely on, go steal one".

It doesn't matter if the DRM landscape has changed since this comic was written (which it really hasn't). The message behind it is the same one being pushed for years, and the same excuse I hear from people who have 50,000 mp3s, less than half of which come from CDs they purchased or mp3s they bought. Excuses don't make it right.

I get the -point- of this comic, in ways. I hate DRM. It doesn't do much except lock the end user into a faulty system, but all the same, saying that you should just pirate what you want because the system is not what you like is a cop-out. There were more options for DRM-free mp3s at the time of this comic, and there have been for years. Trying a whole two online stores before deciding to "pirate it because you can count on it" simply promotes laziness and ill-fated decisions when it comes to supporting artists who deserve it.

Bottom line, DRM or not; if you like something, PAY FOR IT. You might think it doesn't make a difference, IT DOES. Don't make excuses for stealing what you want - it's the same thing either way.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby phillipsjk » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:02 pm UTC

brianbotkiller wrote:"If you want a collection you can count on, pirate it" = the same thing as saying "go out and pirate what you want". That's like saying, "if you want a car you can rely on, go steal one".

Now I invoke "piracy" (copyright infringement) is not the same as stealing physical property.

You are missing a third option: opt-out. That is my strategy. I will actively avoid goods and services that make use of DRM. I will do this until the providers go bankrupt, or drop DRM. I'm sure innocent artists will get harmed in all of this. That is the risk you take when you sign a deal with the Devil (so to speak).

To use your car analogy, I will never buy an OnStar equipped GM car. I do not want the car company to be able to remotely disable my car. I also don't want a Ford vehicle bundled with the Microsoft Sync(tm) system, because I don't trust that it is limited to entertainment functions.

Edit: In case it is not clear: In the car example, stealing the car would not remove the remote kill switch. Therefore, a stolen car willl always have fewer benefits (such as warranty) than a legitimately purchased one. If we are to believe that DRM works, the "kill switch" must be removed before it is illegally copied. This leaves the legitimate customers with a "kill switch" that may go off at any time. In contrast, "pirates" only have to contend with the loss in quality from transcoding a lossy format (assuming transcoding is needed/desired).
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby brianbotkiller » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:57 pm UTC

Piracy _is_ the same as stealing personal property. People think it's not because there's not a physical good involved - and that's why there's a disconnect. Copyright infringement does steal something, because money isn't exchanged for a service or good that you took, but that cost the creator money and time to create. It matters not if a physical good is stolen. The fact that there is a monetary value applied to it, based upon the needs of the creator to keep making those things you like, means that it is theft, plain and simple.

One thing I always hear is that "if people love what they do, they shouldn't have to apply a monetary value to it". That too, is bullshit. People deserve to make a living doing something they like, and the only way to do that is to apply monetary value to it, if you choose to sell it.

Here's another one for you. Lots of musicians in my field of music (electronic music) steal the music software they make music with. Around 35% of them say that stealing software is fine (in a recent poll by IMSTA.org). Now, when you ask them if it's ok to steal a microphone and use it to make a track, suddenly they all say "No way, that's wrong!" Why? Because there's not a physical good there - it's a program on a computer found on the internet. They think that that's not personal property. Why? Because when the mic is gone, it was the only one. When the software is gone, it's still there, a copy has just been made. That's where the "Theft takes the original, piracy makes a copy" fallacy comes from, and it's still bullshit.

Taking the stance that piracy isn't stealing personal property is not correct, IMO. My personal property IS the music I make, or for writers, the words they write, or for software creators, the code they write and software they sell. Saying that Piracy isn't stealing that property is yet another excuse to say it's ok to steal something. The Pirate Bay keeps their stance that "copyright law doesn't make sense, and that's why you should pirate everything you want". Piracy boils down to one thing; rationalizing stealing something. "That company makes enough money anyway", "Making a copy doesn't hurt anyone", or "Copyright law is wrong! I should be able to make a copy of anything that someone bought! Someone still bought it, right?", or, my favorite: "I can't afford that software, but I deserve to have it anyway!".

Wrong, on all counts.

As for opt-out, sure. That's what I'm saying people should do as it is - find other options. If you can only find DRM mp3s of the content you want, then DON'T BUY THEM, or find an online store that sells non-DRM. Like I say, you're on the internet, how about using it for something -other- than piracy?

As for your comeback car analogy, opting out is fine - but even then, any car you buy has parts you don't control, whether it's computer software, or the cost of your fuel injection system. The best thing you can do is choose to buy something that meets your needs, and that you agree with - and if you purchase it, at least you're contributing to keeping those people in a job.

All I'm saying here is, the "free everything" culture of the internet is hurting people who deserve support for what they do. Rationalizing by saying that you can "count on a pirated library", or that "copyright infringement isn't theft" is simply coming up with excuses to not pay for things... but, low and behold, you still paid for your computer, and all it's parts, and the super fast internet connection to pirate software with, and everything that goes along with it - yet people rationalize that they can't spend money on software, because in reality, it's not a physical good. That mindset is killing the business of people who deserve to be supported.

Anyway, thanks for being civil about what you're saying, and I think we seemingly both have the same views - I just wish that more people thought things like this out before they torrented the shit out of all the stuff that keeps their lives entertaining.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby Darkscull » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:00 pm UTC

brianbotkiller wrote:"If you want a collection you can count on, pirate it" = the same thing as saying "go out and pirate what you want".


no, it really isn't.

It's an acknowledgment of the fact that many companies are trying to force you into a choice: agree to their unreasonable demands, or break the law.

Pirating is so easy and widespread now that there isn't one person who will have read this comic who wouldn't consider it (unless they disagree on principle), so it's an option that can't be ignored, no matter how wrong it may be.
Randall wasn't encouraging people to pirate music, he was saying that's the only option other than giving in to DRM.

It turns out that he's wrong of course, as is acknowledged by the comment on amazon doing DRM-free music, but accuracy kills comedy, and that's the main point here:

Stop taking a webcomic so seriously.

Are you one of the people who complains about TV shows that give unrealistic expectations or show 'inappropriate behaviour' because they'll influence children?
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby netsplit » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

brianbotkiller wrote:"If you want a collection you can count on, pirate it" = the same thing as saying "go out and pirate what you want".


No it's factually accurate in many cases. CDs are potentially root kit infested hazards. DRMed stuff is easily lost. About the safest music available these days is on bit torrent.

That's like saying, "if you want a car you can rely on, go steal one".


Ahh pirates = car thieves. I assume you have a cite for the elusive $15,000 dollar cd single.
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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby brianbotkiller » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:01 am UTC

sigh. I've said what I came to say, and I'm not in the mood to argue today. Go pirate a Hanson album. It'll make you happy.

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Re: "Steal This Comic" Discussion

Postby phillipsjk » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:55 am UTC

netsplit wrote:Ahh pirates = car thieves. I assume you have a cite for the elusive $15,000 dollar cd single.


brianbotkiller used the example of 50,000 mp3s; less than half were legitimately purchased. 35,000 tracks at $1 each can add up to a decent car :wink:

I think he/she may have been responding (in part) to the two posts before his/her first one:

tricky77puzzle wrote:I'd buy CD's, it's not like I can't pay safely for them... if I had the money for all of them.
I'd buy MP3's off the Internet, it's not like I don't have the money... if I had the method of payment for them.


Julien wrote:...
If you don't mind, I'll share with you my method to acquire music : first, I buy the old second-hand LP at a local store for a few bucks, and if I like it, then I download it for further digital use (i.e make a CD for my car).

Somehow, I bought it before, so it's not pirating, isn't it ? Not that I mind if it is pirating, anyway...



It appears that Julien doesn't realize that a sufficiently detailed remastering may be considered "creative" (especially if parts are changed/omitted). The implication being the copyright starts anew for the derivative work. It is for that same reason it is hard to find classical works in the pubic domain.

I feel that copyright should last no more than 40 years, regardless of the authors' health. (Currently, the clock does not start until the creator dies.) I see DRM as an attempt to push copyright expiry back even further. It can be argued that works published only in an encrypted form are in fact, unpublished! (I don't think the clock starts until publication.)
Edit: the lack of fair-use exemptions in the DMCA adds credence to the "unpublished" argument.

Edit: wow, 26 posts!
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Re: 0488: "Steal This Comic"

Postby Zetan » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:08 pm UTC

I'm always torn. I don't have a problem with doing things that are illegal, provided (a) the chances of getting caught are negligible and (b) the action is still moral. However, I do like to support the artists that produce the things I like. It makes me kind-of crazy that it's sometimes harder to pay for something than it is to get it for free.

I've recently gotten into audiobooks, myself. As with many things, I like to "try them out" before I buy, and it's fairly easy to do so. It's not as easy to find torrents of audiobooks as it is to find most other media, but it's still fairly easy.

However, I recently encountered a series so good, I really want to pay for it. I'd like to own it. Problem is, retail is $40 a book, and it's a 6-book series. I don't want to own it that badly.

So I checked out audible. They've got a great deal... if you buy their premium service, you essentially get nearly any book they offer for $15 (provided you want exactly one book a month). That's a reasonable price, I'm willing to pay that.

Problem is, it's bogged down with so much DRM that I can't even play it in my car. I use a PSP for audio files.. great little device, but not on their "approved devices." So I wanted to get the audio into MP3 format, then keep that MP3 forever.

I finally found a solution, which I figured I'd post here for those facing the same problem. Virtual CD: http://www.virtualcd-online.com/

It's $35, which is a reasonable price for a solid piece of software. Similar to DaemonTools, it has a great deal of added functionality, including stripping DRM from anything that you can burn to a CD. Check this out:
The sound file mode makes it possible to burn sound files directly from within an application. Rather than burning a virtual audio CD, this function collects the data using a special virtual blank, converts it and then stores it as sound files (e.g., in MP3 format); no image is created. With this feature, any application that can burn an audio CD can generate sound files.


Granted, this is probably illegal, but see my first point. I still paid for the audio, I think it's perfectly reasonable to be able to listen to it wherever I want, on whatever device I want.


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