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Ear to the Ground

The Free Internet Could Soon Die—Is Anyone Watching?

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Posted on Nov 22, 2011
Felipe Kamakura (CC-BY)

Sopa, IRL.

Something called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) could radically alter the way we share information and ideas online by empowering the FCC and a few corporations to give us what commentator Elliot Cohen explains would be our version of China’s Internet censorship.

It’s all pretty heady, dense stuff, but then that’s how all the best rights are stripped away.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter are all opposed to the idea, so we have corporations fighting other corporations about what freedoms we should have on the Web.

Maybe at some point we should all just leave and start our own Web. It could be like the good old days when there was no Bed Bath and Beyond newsletter I didn’t ask for, back when the porn was not crazy-weird and only computer science majors overshared online. Where have you gone, dancing hampster? We need you now.

—Peter Z. Scheer

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By Jim Effect, February 29, 2012 at 2:02 am Link to this comment

I think we need to set up groups dedicated to fighting for our rights online and figure out a way to work around these rules and regulations that invade our privacy and restrict our freedom on the Internet.

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By Anarcissie, November 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

tinkdnuos—For me, 500 years is fairly recent ‘in history’.  Regardless of that, I believe that any sort of property is a social construction, not something given by the gods, or, in the case of ideas, even by nature.  Therefore, any assertion of property rights can be questioned, analyzed, and judged, especially when it is an innovation, as contemporary IP certainly is.

And in saying ‘ideas’ I am speaking broadly of any sort of intellection, not mere concepts but texts, musical compositions and performances, pictures, architectural plans, anything which exists primarily in the mind.

The peculiar thing about such entities is that they are non-rivalrous or even anti-rivalrous.  If I make a copy of something that (theoretically) belongs to someone else, it does not decrease the other person’s possession or enjoyment of it.  IP is not about protecting people from deprivation of their goods, but about creating a monopoly over an abstraction which has been arbitrarily propertized, usually in pursuit of profit.  Needless to say this project takes us into weird territory, such as the theoretical possibility of being sued for singing ‘Happy Birthday To You’ or ‘Red River Valley’.  (The latter case, as you may know, actually occurred, so I should not say ‘theoretical’.)

I would welcome copyright reform, such as a return to that which was in force in the U.S. in the earlier part of the 20th century, but its potential for radical distortion into eternal copyright, which we have now observed, argues for its complete abolition.

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By tinkdnuos, November 24, 2011 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

Lafayette: You’re being a little too trusting, I
think. This bill gives both copyright owners AND ISPs
the right to shut down a site or relay COMPLETELY, on
the mere SUSPICION of an infraction, and only have to
prove it days, or even weeks, later, in court. And if
they CAN’T prove it? There are NO PENALTIES for them,
despite costing a legal site days or weeks of
revenue, and depriving the public of its access for
that time as well.

I’m not saying EVERY ISP and content provider will be
so evil. But I’m saying there’s nothing stopping
them, and, well, look where trusting the finance
industry to police itself got us. Think it’s bad when
it happens to our money? Imagine how bad when it
happens to our information.

Anarcissie:

I like everything you’re putting up here so far, for
the most part. Great links. Despite being a lawyer
fascinated with modern IP doctrine, I fully support
IP reform, to a certain (significant, but probably
not as much as the folks at questioncopyright.org)
extent. And I think the US system, as compared to
Europe, crassly privileges economic rights over
creative rights.

But this:

“The idea that property rights can be properly
exerted over ideas is actually fairly recent in
history and not easily justified,”

...is neither true, nor accurate. It’s not true
because, actually, IP systems like ours, or the EU’s,
have been around for at least 500 years now, pretty
much since the printing press was invented. Now, the
award of rights then was somewhat arbitrary and
pernicious and totally at the pleasure of royalty. It
was definitely not what we would call a good system.

But the one thing that system has in common with our
US system today is that you CANNOT exert property
rights over ideas. Let me say it again: THERE IS
ABSOLUTELY NO COPYRIGHT IN IDEAS.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO COPYRIGHT IN IDEAS.

Copyright only protects expression. At least, it
should. I’m not going to defend our system in
PRACTICE, because, even without shitty legislation
like SOPA, certain big players have too much leeway
to throw their weight (as opposed to their actual
legal rights) around, without consequences. Copyright
enforcement in the US is, sadly, something of a
private industry that caters to the very wealthy.

So to put it in a way that might make my position
clearer, our copyright system is BROKEN, and it
stifles communication and creativity, but NOT by mere
virtue of guaranteeing copyright. Limited-time
opyright itself, as a theory, is no enemy to
creativity, communication, and expression.

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By Anarcissie, November 24, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

Lafayette, November 24 at 2:52 am:

‘JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM

  “Well, there is also the question of whether copying is stealing.”

Only in the mind of thieves. ...’

Not until you define it as such.  The idea that property rights can be properly exerted over ideas is actually fairly recent in history and not easily justified, as you will find out if you leave the authoritarian mode and try to justify it from evidence and reason.

Before doing that I suggest you read up on the issue a little.  I’ve given some URLs (first set).

The badness of SOPA is independent of the dubiousness of the intellectual property concept and is adequately dealt with by EFF (the second set of URLs).

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By RAE, November 24, 2011 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie wrote, in part: “If people can use the Internet as they please, they will pass around music, movies, and books freely, just as they have always done since there were books, movies and recorded music.”

The internet does NOT belong to any government or other “authority” and therefore, in my view, has NO AUTHORITY or RIGHT to regulate how we use it. Of course, not having the right to limit our freedoms doesn’t seem to impede them from trying.

I will continue to download what’s available until you come to my place and physically disconnect me. Those of you who don’t wish your valuable intellectual property to be downloaded simply don’t allow it to be uploaded to the internet. Problem solved!

It is my RIGHT to do what I please with what I find freely available. To you control freaks who disagree and assume you have the right to determine for me what I can and cannot do with what I find I say, get stuffed. If you want to waste your life running around like Keystone Kops trying to tag us miscreants, go ahead. It’s your life… waste it any way you wish to.

In the meantime, let it be known that I download lots of stuff… and usually delete 95% of it soon afterward. Why? Because it’s CRAP to begin with. I often regret wasting bandwidth getting it.

If anything should be illegal it should be to knowingly produce and upload shoddy goods for public consumption. How about you anal retentive types working on something worthwhile like that for once?

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By Lafayette, November 24, 2011 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM

Well, there is also the question of whether copying is stealing.

Only in the mind of thieves.

When you purchased a record, it was a “copy” of an originally transcribed piece of work which was copyrighted. (Note carefully the word “copy” plus “right”).

This means, in most countries, that you had a right to use the media to listen to the music. In some countries, you were allowed to copy it once and employ that copy as a safeguard.

The purchaser, however, had no right to copy and either sell or “give” the copy to any other person.

And as regards SOPA, here ‘s “some stuff” from WikiP - from which I excerpt this remark:

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market, including the resultant revenue and jobs, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites. Opponents say it is censorship, that it will “break the internet”, cost jobs, and will threaten whistleblowing and other free speech

The opponent argument is pure nonsense. How, pray tell, is censorship performed, unless the definition of the word has changed.

Censorship is the practice of censoring.

Censoring = an official examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.

Where is any artistic piece of work suppressed in part or in total? A copyright protects an author’s property rights on work s/he created. The public simply purchases the license to listen, look or hear that work - for which there is a price.

You don’t like the price? Don’t buy the license.

MY POINT

Except in the world of the Spoiled Brats who want instant gratification and cannot understand how they have no right whatsoever to pirate/steal/download-without-payment/obtain-without-permission just because a site was established somewhere allowing copies to be downloaded freely. And if that site was uploading from your computer first and transiting the file to a third-person, then you, as the initiator, are complicit as well with the crime committed.

AS REGARDS YOUR LINKED PAGES

I excerpt:

SOPA will threaten perfectly legal websites, stifle innovation, kill jobs, and substantially disrupt the infrastructure of the Internet.

This is not possible. The legislation calls for the Dept. of Justice to bring before a court the arguments for which a site should be condemned for either allowing free transfer or the sale of illicit copies of copyrighted works.

If the Web-site can show the contracts that allow them to resell copyrighted material, then there is no problem with their distribution. If the sites are giving them away for free, then they must show how the work was no longer copyrighted but had passed into the public domain. Which is described in intellectual property right laws - which you may, as regards the US, consult here.

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By Lafayette, November 24, 2011 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

MARKET REGULATORY OVERSIGHT

Phry: The real underlying issue of Net Neutrality is that it inhibits investment in better technologies for customers by ISPs. In America we have a hodge podge of technologies developed and implemented at many different times by different companies (many of which are bankrupt and gone)where other nations invested recently in their infrastructure and went straight to fiber.

Well put. Our Bigger Is Better economic policy has led to oligopolies on all fronts, but most notably in telecoms. I was witnessing this business from the inside out.

It consists of two/three basic services: Telephony (both fixed and moble) and data communications (store and forward messaging, bulk data transfer and data access or Internet). Telephony is further divided (for some silly reason related to market shares) into short- and long-distance when the earth is flat.

As said, what a hodge-podge with no central coordination. As if our national highway system was left to local communities to determine what highway went where and when it was built. (And often the bridges to nowhere ...)

In France, the incumbent was compelled to install local-loop DSLAMs (Digital Service Line Access Modules) such that DSL was available to ALL COMMUNITIES in the mid to late 1990s. In the US, MaBell (already privatized but regulated) was divided into BabyBells that were not obliged to install DSLAMs locally - so they went market cherry-picking.

I have family in rural America that were using dial-up until a year ago. A full ten years after I had DSL in France.

Ditto mobile telephony. Europe decided to develop the GSM technology. Once the national-states decided to go with GSM, it was implemented from Iceland to Greece - totally homogenous. Whilst the US had a patchwork that prohibited, for a while, inter-communication.

Once again, the states compelled that GSM be guaranteed a national coverage by the mobile telephony operators - which has (more or less) happened. There are only three mobile operators who own the bandwiths, but they are obliged to sublet (at regulated prices) to all resellers - of which there are now more than a dozen.

MY POINT

I bring up these examples because it shows how markets can be allowed to function with complete competitive freedom and yet be obliged to implement a basic service to which all may subscribe.

And, yes, that is “interfering with the free-market” - but to protect the interest of the general public. Which is far more important than just corporate profits.

RANT

Yes, that is what happen when you believe the free-enterprise market “always gets it right”. Profits come first and your right to decent access to information comes last - or when a telco provider decides that they have as much of the readily available market in dense populations and all that’s left are the crumbs in rural communities. And you, rural inhabitant, will pay through the nose to have a broadband connection installed.

But we can’t have that in America, can we? Because that “stifles business innovation” and “costs us jobs”.

Let’s stop with the mindless rabbiting of such idiotic notions. Companies like to cherry-pick markets - because it is cheaper and highly profitable when they can do so. When those markets are indispensable (like telecoms or health care) then it is the general public that suffers from lack of efficient national deployment and lowest possible cost.

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By Anarcissie, November 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette, November 23 at 2:56 pm:

  If you would not steal from a clothing store then why would you steal music?

Simple. Because in the former case, you could get caught and punished. In the latter case, one is rarely caught and even more rarely punished. ...

Well, there is also the question of whether copying is stealing.  The argument is just a bit more complicated than you, and the mass media propaganda you copy from, are portraying it. 

That is a somewhat different issue from the destructiveness of SOPA and its kin, which go far beyond merely asserting the validity of IP concepts and laws. 

Here’s some stuff from EFF to contemplate:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/11/explosion-opposition-internet-blacklist-bill
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/11/whats-blacklist-three-sites-sopa-could-put-risk

I’ve already given some other URLs which you can also ignore.

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By Phrygian99, November 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The real underlying issue of Net Neutrality is that
it inhibits investment in better technologies for
customers by ISPs. In America we have a hodge podge
of technologies developed and implemented at many
different times by different companies (many of which
are bankrupt and gone)where other nations invested
recently in their infrastructure and went straight to
fiber. No matter how much the President or Congress
pushes for new technology no one will pay for a fiber
line to your house. This is the guise and
rationalization you will see attached to proposals
like this. The FCC could care less about you, they
are in bed with the big telecoms. The danger is
always going to be that any legislation pushed
through on this will also include some kind of
Orwellian surveillance provision. If the telecoms
repeat past behavior, they will want to cover their
complicity in wiretapping activities. The truth is
anyone who wants to can track you online if they know
what they are doing especially ISPs because they are
the gate keepers. The reason ISPs don’t track you
(Comcast is the only one I know of who sends cease
and desist letters concerning illegal downloading)is
because there’s no money in it. If you are to be
responsible for an IP address issued to you then we
are really screwed. As of now, from what I know, it’s
almost impossible to prove that a certain person was
using a certain IP address to download a certain
file. But the IP address can be tracked. Proxies can
be hacked or pressured to give up info. If you are a
manager at an ISP and the Secret Service shows up,
you give them what they want, nothing wrong with
that. To try to control piracy is insanity. I’m in
college for Data Networking and one of my professor’s
sons came home from China where he teaches English.
Piracy is rampant there. Not just digitally. He said
that the government is trying to control it, but
without Draconian measures, that is impossible.
There’s a reason Microsoft and Google oppose this
idea. Because it’s a monumental waste of time. The
only people who could possibly find this idea
attractive are seriously warped people who want to
wring control and money out of what belongs to
everybody. If you produce a software product and
piracy is hurting your bottom line, then you have a
bad product. People who can afford software buy it,
those who can’t download. And I highly doubt that
they are making any money from the software or are
hurting the companies sales in any significant way
because they wouldn’t buy the software at any rate. I
will not comment on the ethics of this because I
think it’s pointless. People will steal anything that
isn’t bolted down. I’m not worried about piracy, I’m
worried about the proto-surveillance state that is
developing through these technologies.

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By tinkdnuos, November 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

@entropy2:

“And the idea that artists will quit making art if
they’re not assured of profit is equally BS.”

I’m not sure where you heard that assertion. But I
certainly didn’t make it.

What I said is that artists will be too busy working
50 hrs a week to make ends meet to have the time or
energy to produce as much work, of equally high
quality. Short of a renaissance-style patronage
system, I fail to see exactly how artists should be
expected to work full-time for no pay.

Funny how folks who claim to be progressives have NO
problem with the idea of not compensating someone for
their work. You folks make the 1% proud.

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Gee, tink… I thought you were just playing the asshole until the last comment when you’ve made it plain that you’re the genuine article.

Goodbye.

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By entropy2, November 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

@RAE—it’s not so much that IP monopolists want a police state. It’s just that they don’t mind other people’s freedom being sacrificed to their ends.

The idea that copying is stealing is twaddle. The originators still have their work. All they’re “losing” is government-enforced artificial scarcity. And the idea that artists will quit making art if they’re not assured of profit is equally BS.

Rather than just accepting the inevitable progression of technology and building a new business model, they cling to the hope that mommy government will hold back the tide and make things all better.

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By Lafayette, November 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION SOCIETY

If you would not steal from a clothing store then why would you steal music?

Simple. Because in the former case, you could get caught and punished. In the latter case, one is rarely caught and even more rarely punished.

It’s all about what America is all about: “What’s in it for me, me, me?”

Property rights? Go stuff ‘em! I want it all and I want it NOW!

Bunch of spoiled brats. Worse yet, the spoiled brats are having more spoiled brats inculcating their offspring with the same bent dishonesty.

There can be no morality in a society that does not adhere to ethical principles. So that society inevitably becomes Darwinian - survival of the fittest, swiftest and sneakiest.

Whether it is pirating songs on Main Street o thieving millions on Wall Street, the same selfish motive is at work. Only the dimension of the theft is different.

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By TD1981, November 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Wow.  So, thinking that someone should have to pay for
a product that others created (with money!), is somehow
a cry for Orwellian government oversight?  I don’t know
what is more laughable, that, or the fact that you are
acting like you are doing the artist a favor by
illegally downloading and sharing his or her music. 
Gee, they should thank you for not paying for their
work.  Good for you!

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By tinkdnuos, November 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment

You would be that baby. My god, you’re a whiner.

“Being widely KNOWN comes first. If that doesn’t happen, nothing else will.”

No. No no no no no no no.

Producing creative work comes first. If THAT doesn’t happen, there’s nothing to be KNOWN for.

And producing creative work takes time, energy, and often up-front capital. Even a basement studio takes time and money to build.

Promotion, by the way, is something the ARTISTS should control. If an artist wants you to have their music freely available to copy and share, good on them. If they don’t, however, YOU don’t get to decide that you can have it anyway. You’re just a greedy, selfish, piggy little baby. Mine mine mine mine mine!!

You know, all that your fucking moronic comments here prove is that you have NEVER made any effort to be creative, in your entire trollish little life. So go swallow that shotgun. You contribute absolutely nothing to this world except for a perverted, childish sense of entitlement.

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

I’m confused, tink… which of us is one of the “screaming bitchy babies.”

Re “If people can’t get paid for the fruits of their creativity,...”

My point, O denser one, is that before anyone in their right mind poneys up real money they know what they’re paying for (taxes, of course, are exempt from this logic).

By far the best promotional tool available to unknown artists is the internet. OK, I’ll grant you that to be able to download the entire CD in CD quality for free, make as many copies as you wish, distribute for profit if you wish, etc. etc. is stretching “promotion.” But it’s not the cart before the horse. Being widely KNOWN comes first. If this doesn’t happen, nothing else will.

With the technology available today it shouldn’t be too difficult to release albums for downloading that have their audio quality in some way limited - say VHS (internet)vs Blue-ray (CD). Oh, wait… that won’t work… most of these downloaders are playing that stuff on such quality instruments as smartphones… they wouldn’t even know it was lo-fi - not that it would make much difference with today’s manufactured and oh-so-boring crap.

Anyway, enough of this. The anal retentive control freaks of the political & authoritative far right will keep at it until they bring “1984” into full fruition. Hopefully, I will have been turned to ash long before that happens. As I lay there during my final hours I hope my partner slips a set of headphones on me and plays me all my freely downloaded music. I’ll go with a big smile on my face and think of you.

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By tinkdnuos, November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

RAE:
“Requiring payment from me to hear music on the internet makes no more sense than to require me to pay when I hear a busker playing in the street or to send in money when their efforts come over the airwaves.”

Listening does not equal downloading and owning, with the ability to recopy and distribute infinitely. If you cannot see the difference between hearing something, and materially reproducing it, you are too dense to be helped.

Now, don’t try to pull rank with me. I was a radio DJ too. I’ve also been a recording, performing musician (original and tribute bands), and an engineer for the studio and the stage. And I’m also an attorney who has probably forgotten more about copyright law than you will ever, ever know.

Promotion is VERY important. But you’re putting the cart before the horse. If people can’t get paid for the fruits of their creativity, they will lose the freedom necessary to be creative. And you glibly toss out the bit about hoping to be superstars…well, guess what! Superstar artists don’t get there by having the most people listening to them. Otherwise mediocre college claptrap like Guster and OAR would have been the biggest bands of the past 20 years.

No, superstars reach that level because somebody stands to make a lot of money off of them, and has the resources to promote them for that purpose.

The system is fucking broken, man. I think anybody can agree on that.

But that doesn’t mean you get to OWN any music you want for free and without consideration for what happens to the artist. I KNOW they don’t make much from record sales. Even a self-produced, self-promoted record is best considered a loss leader for a band whose goal is to increase their audience share. It STILL costs them (or someone) time and money to make it and distribute it.

BTW, your library does not magically make things free. Your library PAID (probably higher than retail price) for those books, dvds, and cds, with money raised from YOUR tax dollars. That’s why you get to borrow (BORROW, not keep) it for free.

Disturbing how the question of paying for music tends to turn normal, intelligent, rational people into screaming bitchy babies.

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

Requiring payment from me to hear music on the internet makes no more sense than to require me to pay when I hear a busker playing in the street or to send in money when their efforts come over the airwaves.

My point was, and still is, despite my diagnosis from tinkdnuos, that the major challenge, besides covering for their obvious lack of any special talent, is to get their product known past their circle of friends, family and local pub.

Their reward for their creativity comes once they become a star or superstar and appear at sold out concerts. When they reach that point the pennies they receive from CDs isn’t even on their financial radar. But to get to that point requires more effort in promotion than in their craft.

The smart ones amongst the flood of unknown, me-too “artists” that inhabit the swamp of mediocrity these days find ways to give at least samples of their creations away in order to get known - ergo, free downloads.

The winner is the one who gets his music playing the most earphones the fastest. Free distribution is the only way, IMHO.

When I was a radio DJ, the artists hauled their asses out of bed and showed up at the studios with an A&R person handing out FREE albums hoping for an interview and airplay. The distribution power of the internet has amplified that horse and buggy promo routine somewhat.

So my last word to budding artists: if you want to remain anonymous and poor vote to restrict the free downloading of your CDs.

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By entropy2, November 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

It sucks…but not to worry too much. Every roadblock that can be created, can be worked around. All this is going to do is piss folks off and drive more of the 99% underground.

To paraphrase Cory Doctorow, a computer copies bits…any business model based on preventing bits from being copied is doomed to failure.

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By gerard, November 23, 2011 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

Just do nothing, sit around and wait until nothing is free on the Internet anymore.  Instead, you have to drop quarters in a slot on the side of your mmonitor to get any info, music,  news, data that is “noncontroversial” and/or “patriotic.”  Then just sit and wait patiently until Homeland Security has time to “service your account.”

FREE BRADLEY MANNING.  FREE JULIAN ASSANGE.  NOW.

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By tinkdnuos, November 23, 2011 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Ok, the simple truth, as I see it:

1. Stealing is bad, whether it’s a car, cash from your mother’s purse, a candy bar from the convenience store, or the dime that a musician would have received if you had purchased the song instead of grabbing it free.

2. Copyright is FAR from perfect, as understood in most developed countries, but is still ABSOLUTELY necessary as a bulwark against the end of dedication to creativity. If a musician, author, or filmmaker cannot make a reasonable living playing music, writing, or making films, they will NOT produce the same quality and quantity of creative material that they would have otherwise. This is not a guess. Don’t come at me with some idiotic bullshit about how they do it for the love, not the money. They still have to eat, for fuck’s sake, and if they can’t make money practicing their art, they’re going to need a full time job, which will SERIOUSLY compromise their time and ability to create art.

3. The record industry has been scamming artists since at least the advent of digital recording. Starving the beast is the only real way to get rid of its control of “popular” music, in the US and anywhere.

4. Paying to download from iTunes is both good, because you’re not stealing from the artist, and bad, because you’re primarily supporting the record industry scam.

5. Buying music DIRECTLY from the artist is, unquestionably, the best way to support the artist financially without giving TOO much to the record company.

6. Proposed laws like SOPA are terrifying, insidious attacks on much more fundamental rights than the sharing of media. Anybody who turns this into an argument about their entitlement to free music is a fucking moron who should eat a shotgun right the fuck now.

That shouldn’t resolve anything, but it makes me feel good to share it in the face of the absurd stupidity in these comments so far.

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By tops, November 23, 2011 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Test .....

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By Anarcissie, November 23, 2011 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

TD1981, November 23 at 9:29 am:

‘“Do you actually believe that the internet freedom
should be dissolved for all because the music
industry corporate profit is at stake?”

Of course not.  However, I don’t think people should
be able to download whatever they want, free of
charge, which is what has been happening for years
now.  What do you expect the government to do? ...’

I expect the government to continue to hire itself out to the highest bidder.  However, that doesn’t resolve your contradiction.  If people can use the Internet as they please, they will pass around music, movies, and books freely, just as they have always done since there were books, movies and recorded music.  The only way to stop them is to crush the Internet with Chinese-style prior censorship and draconian punishments, as promoted by currently proposed legislation.  That’s your choice. 

The dubious theories of absolute Intellectual Property are really another issue; for the other side, the one not funded by Big Money, see QuestionCopyright.org or this list of URLs.  But that’s not the point here.  We know the rich will buy whatever laws they want regardless of reason.  The question is, regardless of our views about IP, whether we want to give up our present freedom, such as it is.

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By TD1981, November 23, 2011 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

RAE, what else should be free?  What else are you
entitled to?

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Yup, TD, if I may call you TD…

That’s what free stuff means to me - I’m entitled to have it for free. What does “free stuff” mean to you?

A “couple of bucks” for a CD sounds fair. $15-$25 - the cost of most CDs is more like a rip off… but then, these days, what isn’t?

When I buy CDs I always try to buy directly from the artist’s website… I figure that way they’re likely to see at least some of the money.

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By TD1981, November 23, 2011 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

RAE, do you have anything beyond anecdotal evidence and
flimsy logic to add to the conversation?  In short, you
feel entitled to free stuff.  Color it with whatever
crayons you choose to pull from the box, but it is all
the same. 

Yes, I must be an intrusive government loving, profit
at all cost capitalist to think that people should have
to pay a couple of bucks for a cd, a cd that took money
and sweat to make.  Boy, I am such a tyrant!!

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By TD1981, November 23, 2011 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

“Do you actually believe that the internet freedom
should be dissolved for all because the music
industry corporate profit is at stake?”

Of course not.  However, I don’t think people should
be able to download whatever they want, free of
charge, which is what has been happening for years
now.  What do you expect the government to do?

It’s not just the music industry.  It’s the film
industry.  It’s the software industry.  There are
millions of people that work in various sectors of
these industries that are being punished, because of
illegal downloading.

As I said, when the shit hit’s the fan, you will know
who to blame.

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Like I said, “TD1981” - (although your attitude seems a lot closer to “1984” than “1981”) - if you don’t want others to download your stuff, don’t set it out on the street for anyone to pick up or not as they see fit.

Don’t want your stuff downloaded? Easy. Don’t make it available! Oh… that guff about the huge studio expenses, blah, blah, blah… well, maybe if it’s a Streisand recording session but not the vast majority of stuff out there. Almost all of it could have been recorded and manufacturered in someone’s basement using a bit of computer software for damn near nothing!

But it’s human nature to open up the candy store and then start writing rules and erecting barriers so those who enter need to open their wallets to get a bite. I guess that’s what you would call free enterprise capitalism. Odd choice of words - that “free.” As far as I can see it’s anything BUT free.

Anyway, the internet is well on its way to being useless to me because governments have now found ways to spy and to censor and otherwise limit access, and the commercial folks, who think as you do, have almost locked things up so nothing that’s worth anything is freely available.

So… it’s back to the library where I can get any book, any CD, any DVD for free without having to crawl over obnoxious commercials and advertising to get them.

Oh, one more thing. It’s my unsubstantiated opinion that the “music industry” and/or artists aren’t losing anything by allowing me to download music gratis - because if it ain’t free to at least listen to or try before I buy, I wouldn’t buy it anyway. I have often ordered and paid for CDs and DVDs that I first downloaded from the internet. I support VALUE not crap. And don’t lecture me about what is crap to one person is value to another… some stuff - the majority these days - is CRAP.

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By kerryrose, November 23, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

td1981

Who cares whether you think downloaders are entitled to free stuff or not.

The question is: Do you actually believe that the internet freedom should be dissolved for all because the music industry corporate profit is at stake?

Do we DESERVE IT because we weren’t good little servants?  If so, you are an ‘authority’ apologist.

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By TD1981, November 23, 2011 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

Sorry, RAE, no do over for you.  The sense of
entitlement on display by the pro illegal download
crowd is something to behold.  If you didn’t write
the music, if you didn’t supply the studio with
equipment for the engineers to work with, if you
didn’t produce the album, if you didn’t market the
album and so on, what right do you have to say
whether the product should be free or not? 

It’s hilarious that someone like RAE would say “The
musician him/herself makes almost NOTHING on the sale
of a CD”.  Gee, I guess downloading it for free will
solve that problem.  In reality, different artists
have different contracts and different pay structures
for album sales.  Some make more money than others on
album sales. At the end of the day, they all make the
same amount when you steal it.  Guess how much that
is? 

Companies supply mixer’s, speakers and all sorts of
high tech equipment to studio’s, so they can create
top of the line products for fans to enjoy.  With
less revenue coming in, you are hurting those
companies, their salesmen and so on.  You are hurting
the people that are paid to run that equipment.  You
are hurting the people that are brought in to produce
all of the work that is done with that equipment. 

When the internet is finally bent over the proverbial
knee, don’t blame other people for the governments
overreaction.  If you spend your days and nights
downloading music and movies and whatever else you
can steal, look in the mirror if you want to know why
things went south.  And please, save me the semantics
debate.  Saying it’s “piracy” and not “theft” is
absurd. 

I find it amusing that people will point to the
greedy record exec’s that have been screwing artist’s
over for decades (which they have), to excuse their
selfish behavior (stealing).  Let’s make it clear. 
You think it’s ok to steal from an artist, because
record exec’s have been screwing artists and fans for
decades.  So, in essence, the artists get screwed
from both sides.  That is absolutely brilliant!!

But, by all means, don’t let any of this stop you. 
You should be entitled to free music and free
products, even though you didn’t write the music,
even though you didn’t make the equipment that the
music was recorded on, even though you didn’t work
with the musician to produce the albums. 

What I want to know is what else are you entitled to? 
Oil exec’s have been screwing the entire world for
decades.  Should gas be free?  What else are you
entitled to?

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By RAE, November 23, 2011 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

Sorry, do over, I don’t agree.

Without the exposure of their “music” via the internet the careers of most of today’s crop of “artists” would never get off the ground.

The musician him/herself makes almost NOTHING on the sale of a CD… any significant profit goes to the producers and retailers… the industry “hangers on.”

The artists themselves only start making real money AFTER they’re known well enough to draw a paying crowd to a concert. And these days the only way to get enough exposure is on the internet.

I believe most budding artists are delighted when someone downloads their stuff, even for free, which is about what most of it is worth. The “industry” is overflowing with mediocre “me too” garbage noisemakers who think they have talent. And, oh yes, much of the stuff available for downloading is PUT THERE by the authors themselves.

The ONLY reason for this type of legislation is because the greedy millionaires at the top of the “music industry” food chain, who feed entirely on the backs of the artists are losing some money. It has nothing to do with the artists.

But why stop at labeling the downloading of music as ‘piracy.” What’s the difference between downloading a piece of music and downloading a photograph, an article or report or anything else that’s “authored.”

My take is… if you don’t want your creation copied don’t put it on the internet.

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By kerryrose, November 23, 2011 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

do over

Yah, I can see that.  The music industry is furious that they can’t add a billion to their billions and will pay a billion to buy legislation to restrict the internet for ALL users.

Maybe copywrite laws need to rethought so that they benefit the artist—- not the thieving industry.

I love your comment ‘blame yourselves’... are you the personality type that kisses ass to authority and feels that you must ‘deserve’ your freedoms with good behavior?

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By do over, November 23, 2011 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

There is no right to steal music.  Massive theft of music, piracy, generated the need for this legislation.  The music industry, and artists, have lost one third of their value to piracy in the last ten years and it continues do decline rapidly.  If you would not steal from a clothing store then why would you steal music?  Consumer piracy is responsible for this law.  Blame no one but yourselves.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, November 23, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Say good by…..to freedom and hello to slavery…because that’s exactly what we will
have without freedom….the corporations have decided…now their government must
follow through….you will be farmed, fed people chow each day, just like the rest of the
Livestock, then harvested every so often…

The crooks in congress have been busy, hiding their dirty work…Time to throw them all
out…

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 23, 2011 at 4:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do they really want their corporate offices to be occupied like forever?

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By Robespierre115, November 23, 2011 at 4:18 am Link to this comment

Looks like Bono could finally get his wish. He wrote a New York Times op-ed last year advocating this crap, even citing China as a model for internet security so people won’t dent his millions by downloading a few songs for free.

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By Chris Herz, November 23, 2011 at 3:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I like the comments as well as I like the article.  The rate of Internet use and availability, as well as its speed, are lower for financial reasons in the USA than in other advanced countries.
No accident.  Our misrulers are deeply concerned at the prospect of an informed and active population finally figuring out how they have been diddled.

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