Monday, January 9, 2012

Dear Congress

Dear Congress

It is not okay to not know how the internet works.  The internet is a mass communication system used to discuss ideas far more effectively than a phone or speaking in front of C-Span to raise campaign funds.

With the growth of the internet, we have allowed artists and filmmakers to thrive by learning how to connect with others.  Unbeknownst to those that feel the internet is a "series of tubes", we, the people, the internet knows how to build communities.

We understand that the world of red & blue can only stretch so far.  The bills may have bipartisan support, but we do not want to be considered criminals.  We, the nerds were not invited to the meetings and the public was persona non grata.  Some people understand the issues of piracy and how to adapt to it.  We have found the solutions.  The problems of SOPA and PIPA are the structural problems of believing piracy can be solved by legislative efforts.  We have looked at the copyright bills that have been passed before:  The ACTA, PROIP, the NET Act, even going back as far as the Sonny Bono Extension Act.  We know that we have no public domain works because of retroactive extension of copyright.  Copyright no longer serves we, the public, at all.  It has not "Progressed the Arts and Sciences" which is the entire job of Congress.

We are angry.  We demand redress from laws that we do not support.  We do not need SOPA nor PIPA We reject censorship and encroachment into our civil liberties.  This will not solve piracy, it is harmful to American innovation and jobs.  Vote no on SOPA and know that we have solved piracy without more legislation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My thoughts on SOPA

In my views of the SOPA debate, there has been a lot of information about this bill.  I have learned so much about piracy, I sometimes wonder why I never wanted to be a lawyer.  As I looked into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, I learned how the law making process favors the larger companies.  Viacom has the advantage of taking down any song it wants, believing the internet is similar to TV.  I have seen the amount of money given to CEOs of these multimillion dollar companies while they say that piracy prevents progress.  In the fights against piracy, I have had a number of people continuously find a new target for their venom.  Sometimes the target is a rogue website.  Sometimes, it’s an accusation that people want everything for free, not understanding the difference of digital and tangible goods.  Over ten years of research and study, with the books of Lawrence Lessig, the influential writings of Mike Masnick at Techdirt, the European touch of Enigmax at Torrentfreak, the outstanding and sweeping commentary of Codewarrior at Dmusic, and even the quotations of Terry Hart in the last few years at Copyhype.

I came to my own conclusions as I read the research documents and studied the papers showing the truth about piracy.  Fighting piracy has always been the losing side of the battle.  The fight to stop someone from copying a song or preventing sharing has always been a losing battle.  By no means does this mean I am not against SOPA.  I full heartedly despise the legislation that has truly embroiled the entire world in a fight for an un-splintered internet.  However, I have to recognize exactly what this legislation is supposed to do and how effective that mission is.

Will anyone actually look at this desperate attempt at controlling the internet in a positive light?  Just a small look at the people that oppose people is no laughing matter.  100 First Amendment lawyers say it is a disaster.  83 Engineers have signed a letter stating this is not a wise move.  Small time artists and independents have stated they do not want these strong censoring powers.  Gamers have gone on record criticizing the bill.   Human rights groups have criticized the bill by exposing them.  The list continues to go on that the entire public does not want nor need this bill.  And yet it is only two industries and a group of legacy supporters of copyright that continue to push for this bill.

Of course, those that understand the bill know that it’s unconstitutional on a number of grounds.  It will cost the US $10 million to enforce copyright.  As we speak, the enforcement angle brings on prior restraint, censorship, and the hypocrisy of the United States in supporting internet freedom while censoring others.
As the debate continues this Wednesday, rest assured, the public understand that our politicians are bought.  Rest assured that the problem of piracy has been greatly exaggerated by those willing to attack new platforms for artists.  The Pirate Bay has existed for 10 years.  Yet all sales of media have continued to increase.  In other countries, the filesharing has continued despite the increased laws to punish infringement.  And yet, those that continuously try to impose the punishments are also the same people causing the harms.  Surely, piracy will continue to serve the market.  Clearly, enforcement will always cause more harm than good.  But to suggest that it can be stopped with a government initiative when all signs are showing otherwise is a fool’s errand.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How much research is needed to understand that copyright enforcement is bad?

In one of my last posts, I've explained how filesharing has caused an increase of interest in multimedia products.  What's amazing is how much research from various governments have come to the same conclusion.

Dutch - Artists don't think that filesharing hurts them in a survey.  However, there is still enforcement occurring even though Dutch unions want to legalize filesharing.

US - The United States has had various governmental agencies to discuss copyright infringement.  The Government Accountability Office, has said the information for piracy data was unreliable (link to original report is in the article).  Just recently, even more information has been found by Techdirt's Mike Masnick.  The fact remains that Hollywood is thriving despite any negative aspects of piracy.  Further, the work of Joe Karaganis and his team in Media Piracy in Emerging Economies has shown the ineffectiveness of copyright enforcement in various countries.

Swiss - Filesharing is not a big deal.  As evidenced by the study, most of the money goes to entertainment products anyway.

Bolivia - Has no copyright.  Their music industry thrives along with all other industries introduced.

China, Nigeria, India - All thrive because of piracy.  The ability to share files leads to more chances to sell merchandise.

Japan - As Glyn Moody has pointed out, the lost sales revenue only occurred when the pirates figured out how to fulfill demand not met by the industry.

As each article shows, piracy is unmet demand.  Those that rely on copyright enforcement are already established, not helping the artists or smaller individuals in their efforts of promotion.  Does piracy have bad effects?  I continue to doubt that more and more each day.  Perhaps more research will show a negative aspect, but as it stands, piracy encourages increases sales far more than enforcement.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I can't ever support nor any more games from CD Projekt

Like many people, I enjoy companies that think outside the box.  Gog made me a customer by saying they won't support DRM.  This was a great thing from them, showing that maybe I was supporting a good business decision on their part.

Even though we're very, very opposed to DRM, we don't argue that fact, but there are a few facts that are worth noting. Piracy isn't nearly as devastating as some studies would have you believe. People throwing around numbers in the billions of dollars of lost revenue are making some false equivalencies.

Every copy of a game that is downloaded does not equate to a lost sale. In many cases, torrent trackers display inflated numbers of seeds and downloads. Those scary numbers aren't real, and by letting ourselves be deluded as to the impact of piracy, we don't rationally look at what it really means for the industry and how to go about minimizing it in an effective manner.

Then the other shoe fell. While CD Projekt is saying they won't harm their customers, they are doing something much worse.  A copyright shakedown.

“Yes we will track illegal file-sharing hoping people will find the game good enough to actually change their mind and be willing to pay for it,” CD Projekt’s Agnieszka Szostak told us earlier.

Although this initially sounded quite reasonable, away from the spotlight the company followed in the footsteps of so-called copyright trolls, by signing up for a so-called “pay-up-or-else” scheme. CD Projekt hired a law firm and torrent monitoring company to track those who illegally downloaded and shared the game, and has been sending them hefty cash settlement proposals.

The price CD Projekt is asking through their lawyers is slightly higher than what gamers have to pay in stores, to say the least. Over the past several months thousands of alleged BitTorrent users in Germany were asked to cough up 911,80 euros ($1230) to pay off their apparent debt to the company.

So CD Projekt is suing innocent bystanders and potential customers because they want an instant payout.  Quite frankly, they're acting as if pirates cost them more than making a real game and keeping it updated.  It's also downright hypocritical given that they've said they support filesharing.  This does not support filesharing.  It also does nothing but piss people off as they hear the story.

I will not be putting money into no matter how good the games are.     Gog has really hurt their message with me.  Why support a company that believes that suing innocent bystanders is more important than making games worth buying?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick thoughts about me

Unfortunately, I never had an inclination to be a lawyer.  As I have looked more into copyright law over the past 15 years, I have always had questions within.  Why do so many people want control of product so badly?  Is piracy destroying the internet, or is it used to control what people can do in an ever growing digital world?

Take these posts and their connections with grains of salt.  I am not a lawyer.  I am a person who is looking for answers in the digital world that seems to need copyright less and less.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stop Online Piracy and the Hearings

The events of Nov 16 were very interesting.  The internet rose up to fight a bill going through the House and Senate to criminalize sharing online.  In an effort to reduce piracy, Congress has tried to fight the public with two forms of legislation, giving very broad and vague powers to rightsholders that do not represent artists or creators.  The bill from the Senate is Bill is the Protect IP Act while the bill in the House is Bill the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Both bills seek to disable websites with a vague definition of "rogue website".  The major complaint of both bills are the overbroad definitions and the ability to turn anyone into a felon.

An overview is here.  To say that the internet did not like so much power given to a small group would be an understatement.  Here is the tally on just one day.

The fight for the internet is far from over.  There continue to be problems with new legislation in various form. Let's hope that more people wake up to the fact that copyright is not a tool for innovation but a nail in censorship.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday round up (4/9)

I love reading various amounts of data in regards to copyright.  The best part is finding new information that can help to change your views.

Moral rights of Copyright - Mike Masnick

5 mistakes of Anti Copyright - Jonathan Bailey

Metrics in gaming - Measuring games versus innovation in gaming.

The Other Street Fighter - Oddly, this one shows some of the insanity of copyright as more of an aside.

Backpedaling on mass lawsuits - Looking at Judge Beryl's new ruling and possible reasons for her new way or "protecting" the defendants.