Thursday, December 30, 2004

Slashdot | LokiTorrent vs. MPAA

Read the article first, then read Catbeller's response.

Slashdot | LokiTorrent vs. MPAA:

"There are so many here hammering the "it's illegal - it's piracy - " meme injection that I strongly suspect the MPAA has hired astroturfing agents to dominate the thread. Holy Scientology, Batman.

Answers for their contentions, all at once:

It's not "piracy"; it's copying without permission. If you sell copied films, then you're a pirate.

Copying without permission wasn't a criminal matter until the content producers bought such laws. It was a civil matter, and conviction required evidence of monetary loss on the complaintant's part.

Copyright was a compromise in U.S. law. One faction in the constitutional convention wanted NO copyrights, another was more of the current IP ilk's way of thinking. Compromise: copyrights were to exist for a limited time, to get the best of both worlds -- enticement to produce new works, and the graduation to public domain of old works for the common good.

With the Sonny Bono Law, the deal was destroyed. No compromise. Copyright for life of author plus 75 years for an author, a HUNDRED years for a corporation. And no guarantee at all that future congresses would keep extending the terms for ever and ever and ever...

The deal is over. And we didn't break it, the "intellectual property owners" broke it - savagely, permanently. Now works are owned for all time. No public good. Just private. No derivative works allowed. And corporate "owners" can use their profits to buy larger and larger blocks of "property" indefinitely. We may see a small handful of chummy corporations eventually owning all the published works of mankind - science, art, literature -- everything.

The law broke the deal. The corporations wanted anarchy. They got it. They have guns on their side. The Scientologists are peeing themselves with glee.

What we have here is more than downloading copies of movies or music. If copyright lasted only 20 years, I would honestly be fighting alongside the owners so that they could make a profit from their works. That is, if the artists actually owned the copyrights, rather than the corporations they signed rights over to.

But this is not what copyrights is about. It isn't about property. That's a 20th century legal fiction. Music and images are not "property"; items are property. Copyright was about licensing copies.

Fair Use law mandated that the public could copy even without paying, within limits. THAT'S out the window. If it's illegal to break encryption, you can't copy within those rights.

I will not accept the shutdown of the Constitution's purpose of copyright. I will not accept the death of Fair Use. I will not countenance the elimination of the Deal. I will not watch the works of man fall under the eternal control of immortal corporations. Science and art as we know it cannot survive the imprisonment-with-conditional parole of human endeavor. If copying files annoys them and shakes their control, then let it be so. I want this regime of control shaken and stirred until such day we can install real limits on copyright once more."


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