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Copyright… a discussion


Ser Scot A Ellison
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36 minutes ago, Ninefingers said:

I appreciate the attempt to move the goalposts to the existence of laws in society, but you'll have to find someone else.

Then why are you here? We are not discussion the legality of copying. There's no dispute as to whether it is legal or not (in the USA at least).

Also, are you really not at all bothered by having to obey a law even as you yourself admit that you are not sure the law is moral or just?

Would you own slaves if slavery was legal?

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19 minutes ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Then why are you here? We are not discussion the legality of copying. There's no dispute as to whether it is legal or not (in the USA at least).

Also, are you really not at all bothered by having to obey a law even as you yourself admit that you are not sure the law is moral or just?

Would you own slaves if slavery was legal?

Next time see if you can work Hitler into your response. 

Flippancy aside, I see no moral or legal issue with copyright law. I see attempts to create a moral quandary to justify the breaking of copyright law.   

Edited by Ninefingers
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21 minutes ago, Ninefingers said:

Next time see if you can work Hitler into your response. 

Flippancy aside, I see no moral or legal issue with copyright law. I see attempts to create a moral quandary to justify the breaking of copyright law.   

You see no moral issue, but when I asked you about the morality of the law not an hour ago, you told me, quote, "I'm not sure there is one."

Well, I guess it there's no morality, there's no moral issue. A law is a law. You must obey it. Because it's a law. Yes. Great. :bang:

 

Edited by One-Winged Balrog
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24 minutes ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

You see no moral issue, but when I asked you about the morality of the law not an hour ago, you told me, quote, "I'm not sure there is one."

Well, I guess it there's no morality, there's no moral issue. A law is a law. You must obey it. Because it's a law. Yes. Great. :bang:

 

I appreciate the attempt to put words into my mouth. But the burden of proof lies on you.

You're the one asserting there's an issue. Lay out a case. Make an argument. 

Simply repeating that I won't refute your assertions isn't going to work. I'm old as hell. I recognize these internet message board techniques. 

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5 minutes ago, Ninefingers said:

I appreciate the attempt to put words into my mouth. But the burden of proof lies on you.

You're the one asserting there's an issue. Lay out a case. Make an argument. 

Simply repeating that I won't refute your assertions isn't going to work. I'm old as hell. I recognize these internet message board techniques. 

OK boomer.

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1 hour ago, Darzin said:

I do think our copyright laws are way to restrictive. I think it should be something like life of the author or 50 years whichever is longer. Or perhaps even more radical 25 years from publication. I think we'd be much better off of we loosened the screws binding our culture. In the past people were free to use and re-use stories as they liked, but or modern IP laws are very restrictive and often as not benefit faceless corporations rather than authors/creators. 

Are copyright laws really restrictive? It is true that I can't publish a sequel to LOTR. But I can take all its themes, ideas, visuals and plot points, put it in my book, call it "The Sword of Shannara" or something, and publish it completely legally. I can't have a character literally named Frodo Baggins, but does it really restrict my artistic expression? What's in a name?

Edited by One-Winged Balrog
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3 hours ago, unJon said:

If an author agrees to get $0 comp for his or her work, then there’s nothing criminal, immoral or exploitive.

unJon -- yes, that’s reasonable. Some people are motivated by non-financial compensation.

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3 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Consider two scenarios.

A: I have legally bought a $10 book, and I lent it to 100 friends one after the other. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is legal.

B: I have legally bought a $10 book, I made 100 copies and and I lent it to 100 friends in parallel. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is illegal.

Why is it legal to deprive the author of a $1000 in scenario A, but illegal in scenario B?

For two reasons.  First, scenario A has is extremely difficult to execute.  Let's say you lend your $10 book to 100 friends, and each friend takes a week to read it.  That's 2 years give or take.  And if your friends are anything like mine, you'll lose track after friend 5 and then see it on their bookshelf 3 years later, followed by a sheepish apology :).  Whereas Scenario 2 can be executed with a few clicks of a mouse on the day of a book's release and it is lent not just to 100 friends, but as many strangers as want to read the book on the internet, immediately.  

Second, the law has to draw bright line rules that are not always perfectly congruent with morality.  When you buy a physical book you have bought both a tangible object (the book) and the intangible right to read the book.  It is possible to divorce the two, and for a book to be sold with only the right to read it oneself, but its not practical to enforce such a rule, and long-standing custom stands against it.  E-books do come with such restrictions.  The thing is that the law exists not just to protect moral rights or reflect moral customs, but also to create bright-line rules that encourage economic activity.  It doesn't always maximise ethical values (which are frequently contested anyway).  

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Are copyright laws really restrictive? It is true that I can't publish a sequel to LOTR. But I can take all its themes, ideas, visuals and plot points, put it in my book, call it "The Sword of Shannara" or something, and publish it completely legally. I can't have a character literally named Frodo Baggins, but does it really restrict my artistic expression? What's in a name?

It's how folk heros work I dunno I guess a rip off just isn't the same. I just feel it's a shame that our modern versions of folk heroes and cultures end up owned by companies rather than the public. It feels constricting of the culture. 

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Then seek to change the law.

My country doesn't enforce piracy laws anyway, so legality doesn't really matter to me. I'm more interested in the ethical side of the matter. Not whether it is legal, but whether it is good. And if not, why?

Edited by One-Winged Balrog
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59 minutes ago, Darzin said:

It's how folk heros work I dunno I guess a rip off just isn't the same. I just feel it's a shame that our modern versions of folk heroes and cultures end up owned by companies rather than the public. It feels constricting of the culture. 

But out culture very pointedly doesn't have folk heroes. We want to know who the author is. The author has a brand.

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5 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Consider two scenarios.

A: I have legally bought a $10 book, and I lent it to 100 friends one after the other. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is legal.

B: I have legally bought a $10 book, I made 100 copies and and I lent it to 100 friends in parallel. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is illegal.

Why is it legal to deprive the author of a $1000 in scenario A, but illegal in scenario B?

Because the first group of friends do not get to read the book whenever and wherever they wish. It is only available to them when it is NOT available to you. Only one person is reading the book at a time. In the second scenario, all 100 people have full access to the author's work as long as the paper and ink you copied them onto last.

If you invited 100 people to a lecture hall and read the book aloud to them, the author is "losing" as much as they lose in scenario A. Do you think that should be illegal? 

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3 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

A: I have legally bought a $10 book, and I lent it to 100 friends one after the other. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is legal.

B: I have legally bought a $10 book, I made 100 copies and and I lent it to 100 friends in parallel. The author lost $1000 dollars. This is illegal.

Why is it legal to deprive the author of a $1000 in scenario A, but illegal in scenario B?

One-Winged Balrog -- I found your position well-intentioned, interesting and thoughtful.

A. The author wasn't deprived of income; he was compensated for one copy sold. The author didn't lose $1000 because it never existed as a consequence of financial transactions between a producer and consumers. This is legal because it facilitates the author's economic, natural, moral, and social rights.

B. The author was deprived of potential income; he was compensated for none of the copies made and distributed by you. This is illegal because it undermines the author's economic, natural, moral, and social rights.

Ultimately, option A is cooperative; B, predative.

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2 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Are copyright laws really restrictive? It is true that I can't publish a sequel to LOTR. But I can take all its themes, ideas, visuals and plot points, put it in my book, call it "The Sword of Shannara" or something, and publish it completely legally. I can't have a character literally named Frodo Baggins, but does it really restrict my artistic expression? What's in a name?

You can't have a character named Frodo Baggins who has all the same characteristics as the original Frodo Baggins. But you could write a story where some character changed his or her name to Frodo Baggins (or their parents gave them the name when born) because they admired Tolkien's character, and that would be perfectly legal. The name by itself is not copyrightable. 

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7 minutes ago, Ormond said:

You can't have a character named Frodo Baggins who has all the same characteristics as the original Frodo Baggins. But you could write a story where some character changed his or her name to Frodo Baggins (or their parents gave them the name when born) because they admired Tolkien's character, and that would be perfectly legal. The name by itself is not copyrightable. 

If I had a halfling character in a fantasy book who changed their names to Frodo Baggins, I'd be probably pushing it. Unless it's a parody.

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It does seem that some of you are arguing that authors shouldn't be compensated for their work, in fact, have no right to expect to get payment of any kind, any way, and even their work should be allowed to be used by anyone else in any way anyone else wants to -- and those people CAN get money for that.

If that's not what you are arguing for, what is it that you guys are arguing to be the case, and how else do you believe authors should get compensation for their work -- guess we can't call it authors' property since it seems some of you don't believe there should be such a thing. :P

(I do recall GRRM ranting about having to pay songwriters for quoting from their very popular lyrics in one of his books.  He thought that was unfair and insane and wrong, but he would be the first to scream bloody murder if somebody did that with his own writing without paid permission.)

Edited by Zorral
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Writing is a fairly challenging profession in which to earn money, so I find it ethical to purchase books new when possible. I speak strictly of ethics in this post because the matter of law with regard to this topic is uninteresting.

I do not have a problem loaning out the books I purchase. Some authors may prefer that I do not because this practice may affect their income in the short term; however, friends to whom I do loan books often develop an interest in that author and become regular consumers of their work, which is a long term benefit to that author - and I think many (though probably not all) would feel is an adequate recompense.

I won't pirate a book, however, because not only does it deprive the author of income, it can in fact financially benefit the provider of pirated material (through advertisement and other means). Also, while lending a copy is limited (it's the one copy, and each friend has to wait their turn for it), creating duplicates allows for unrestricted access, which I think makes a difference.

Not to mention that I think pirated material has a higher likelihood of being poorly edited and reviewed, and therefore being of inferior quality.

Edited by IFR
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