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  1. Matt_SE says

    Two stories I found interesting:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2014/01/19/mega-default-in-china-scheduled-for-january-31/
     
    An explanation of China’s dysfunctional economics which closely resembles our own. Gives the rationale for why the “bubble burst” may easily start in China.
     
    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/346585.php#346585
     
    Avik Roy proposes what is essentially big government Republican healthcare. This is more evidence that the establishment doesn’t really want to repeal Obamacare, but “fix” it enough to keep the gravy train rolling.

  2. Kevin_B says

    I have a question for the people here at Bookworm Room. Or, maybe I should say that I am asking for opinions on a subject which may not have been spoken about a lot previously here at Bookworm Room.
     
     
    My question concerns the sharing of files containing copyrighted materials over the internet, often called ‘internet piracy’ and ‘illegal downloading’. How should conservatives think about or approach this subject? And what can we say about it philosophically and morally?
     
     
    Under current law, much of this file-sharing operates in a legal twilight zone or is even in violation of current copyright laws.  However, the rise of the internet and the present digital age pose many interesting questions and conundrums regarding copyrights and intellectual property rights.  How big of an issue could ‘internet piracy’ be and how should we address this?

    • says

      An excellent question, Kevin_B.  I believe in property ownership, including ownership over intellectual property.  The problem is that, just as Gilbert & Sullivan struggled with the Wild West when it came to asserting their rights over their operettas, intellectual property owners are now faced with the problem of asserting their rights in the Wild West world of the internet. 

      I’m loath to argue in favor of more “government policing.”  It’s of dubious effectiveness in terms of stopping piracy.  However, it will be very effective at expanding even more the government’s reach into people’s homes and privacy.

      It seems to me that, just as the problem is one created by technology, the answer lies in technology.  Some wizard is going to come up with a way to make it virtually impossible to steal intellectual content without first paying for it.  And yes, after that, some wizard will figure out a workaround.  This will never be a static situation, and it’s the property owners’ burden/responsibility to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

      • Kevin_B says

        The question of course is what intellectual property still means and how it should be shaped in the internet age. And of course, how that relates to issues of internet, consumer and information freedom.
         
         
        Also, we do have a “copy culture” in which the file-sharing I referred to, through torrents, peer-to-peer websites, filesharing websites et cetera is both common and relatively accepted. This is especially so amongst the young, as you may know from your children and their peers. I am not exception in this area and I have made use of materials available through the internet, as well as used torrents et cetera. 
         

        As for the technology thing: that has been happening for a while already, I believe.
         
         
        Just to what extent should the intellectual property rights of the entertainment industry be protected, and what is fair and unfair use? And isn’t there an element of industry power going on in the whole debate about internet piracy? Also, is all sharing ‘stealing’ of internet property and is everyone who shares (or downloads) files necessarily a bad guy? 
         
         
         

        • jj says

          There’s always been a question there – and never particularly an answer.  We used to discuss this at the network, and it always ended by being a circular discussion.  The essence of the problem – at least the way the supreme court approached it back in the seventies (if I’m remembering correctly) – was that at your door, your rights began to assert themselves as much as the content creator’s right’s did.  (In my industry it was all about “content,” but that’s jargon that comes naturally to me.  What I mean is: copyright holder.)  The court was addressing, I think I remember, at least the time I’m thinking about; the ability of individuals to make cassettes (those were the days!) of music they liked that came into their homes via the radio.  The argument in part was that it’s okay to do so because: (A) you’re in your own home; (B) the copyrighted material entered your home via a radio you own; (C) having done so – crossed your threshold – of it’s own free will, it confers on you the home-and-radio owner some rights of your own, and at some point they trump the copyright holder’s rights.  With the caveat that you couldn’t make a bunch of copies and sell them from your kid’s lemonade stand in the front yard without express permission and paying royalties.  (I think I have the gist of that right, or at least right enough for our purposes.)
           
          This was based in part on libraries.  I can remember when someone actually did try to assert the idea that a book owned by a public library could not have a page photo-copied.  (Back in the middle 1970s, when copy machines stopped being the size of aircraft carriers and became cheap enough for every small-town library to have one.)  You can imagine how that went over: they were shouted down instantaneously.  From there it wasn’t much of a step to your cassette recorder.
           
          It became an issue for the network of course when in about 1975 video recorders appeared.  Did the same “cross-the-threshold” thinking apply?  The answer turned out to be yeah, it did.  You could record whatever you wanted for your private enjoyment and that of your guests, but if you went out and flogged the tapes on the street you opened yourself up to prosecution.
           
          (A side note: this has remained the case.  The perfect example is the Tonight Show, with Carson.  Carson Productions owns that.  Nobody else does: there are no archives even at the network.  But – there are plenty of complete archives from 1975 onward, held by people who worked at the network, (we all got into VCRs early), Carson’s friends and relatives, and just people out there who loved the show, and taped it every damn night for twenty years.  Carson Productions gave up trying to get a handle on these: it couldn’t be done.  Even if they stumbled over somebody, they never won; they had to recognize that the people who made the tapes own them.  But – God help them if they try to sell them.
           
          Nowadays we share files.  I would imagine that the same basic approach will hold, with the same basic restrictions, though they’ve gotten yet another generation more difficult to police.  You can do it, and you can (because we can’t stop you) share with your friends, but if we ever get to find out you’re in business, then you may be prosecuted.
           
          And I think that will remain the control: if you try to go into business selling the stuff, that could be trouble.  If you keep it for yourself, then there’s nothing to be done about that.

          • says

            “If you keep it for yourself, then there’s nothing to be done about that.”
            Actually, they’ve cracked down hard on a few examples. I remember one for music stuff, and a number of others for torrents.

          • Kevin_B says

            I think you made a helpful and thoughtful post, JJ, but I do have some thoughts.
             
             
            We used to discuss this at the network, and it always ended by being a circular discussion.
            I didn’t know you worked for some network, JJ.
             
            the ability of individuals to make cassettes (those were the days!) of music they liked that came into their homes via the radio
            I may be a member of the last or one of the last generations that has some familiarity with cassettes. When I was a small kid, they were still used to some extent, but already vanishing quickly.
             
            Nowadays we share files.  I would imagine that the same basic approach will hold, with the same basic restrictions, though they’ve gotten yet another generation more difficult to police.  You can do it, and you can (because we can’t stop you) share with your friends, but if we ever get to find out you’re in business, then you may be prosecuted.
            You basic assertion, I guess, is that copying and sharing is oké or at least a grey area as long as there is not money made from it, am I right? I don’t disagree with that, but there might be caveats.
             
             
            And I think that will remain the control: if you try to go into business selling the stuff, that could be trouble.  If you keep it for yourself, then there’s nothing to be done about that.
            The internet age of course raises questions about what ‘at your door’ and ‘keeping it for yourself’ is. The internet makes it possible for a file to be shared not just with your neighbour, a friend two blocks away or a family member in the next city, but with theoretically anyone in the world with internet access. 
             
             
            “If you keep it for yourself, then there’s nothing to be done about that.”Actually, they’ve cracked down hard on a few examples. I remember one for music stuff, and a number of others for torrents.
            If I remember the right, the industry has cracked down very harsly on a number of people who had downloaded songs or other materials via torrents or peer-to-peer systems. There have a few (whether civil or criminal) cases that involved many thousands of dollars over a few dozen files.
             
             
            In general I don’t have much of a problem with the assertion that as long as it is not for profit, it is fine or at least a grey zone. But there remains issues.
             
             
            Firstly, under currrent copyright law, whether it is for profit or not, the copying and sharing of content is not allowed in most states and countries. Isn’t there still such a thing as the rule of law? Secondly, there is still the question of what  intellectual property rights mean in the digital age and what we should do with them. I guess most of us like free markets and I do think that some form of property rights is necessary in a free market. Thirdly, apart from copyright law, there might still be ethical issues regarding fair and unfair use of intellectual property. Some people consider copying and sharing intellectual property, even for free, as to an extent akin to theft.

    • says

      Property rights are ancient, based on land ownership and assets. On the internet, assets can be duplicated ad infinity.
       
      The Hollywood Leftists like to make the claim that their profit margins are being shrunk and the music/movie makers are getting hit hard. If they are, it’s because Hollywood takes most of the money from the creative artists and puts it into a bank account for Democrat slavery and economic terrorism.
       
      Most newly started individual groups and bands, marketing their products, would find a far bigger market, while cutting out the middle men, via self publicization. Hollywood, however, and media giants like to claim that if you don’t spread your womanly legs for their agents, you won’t get any jobs. Thus they need to hold monopoly over internet access as well. It’s not purely because of profit loss. Controlling their creative slaves is all important in the long term.
       
      As the Left demonstrates, there’ll always be free riders, con artists, and free loaders. You can’t get rid of them absent a totalitarian system, and not even then given the black market in NK. What you can do is to provide incentives, not disincentives, for invesmtent, such as kickstarter programs. Not KICKBACK programs like 90% of Hollywood and the music industry. Not Kickbacks where only a few connected people get rich off the backs of the workers and artists.
       
      By having a direct connection between the producers and the consumers, the Left’s middle men and child rapists are cut out of the loop. People will pay for what they like and producers know immediately why their shi ain’t selling.
       
      The Left’s war funds are fungible. That means the several millions and billions they get from entertainment, feeds directly into their campaigns against Republican Tea Party activists. Directly.

  3. says

    The current Western civilization meta is Force. They will Force you to pay the Left their cut. And they will Force the artists to accept the cut from the Left, 50-90% just like Fing lawsuited up lawyers and what they get from victim damages. That is the Law. That is the Force. That is the Obedience to Authority.
    It’s cra on crack.
    The individual consumer doesn’t set the price, the rapists in DC and sitting on chairboards at Hollywood do. The producers and artists don’t set the price, they’re constrained by unions and a whole bunch of BS and blacklisting in the industry. Can’t even sell your stuff because nobody knows that you even exist. Why? Because they won’t let you give out samples to anyone on the net, cause that would be violations of copyright that you signed when you sold the media company your soul in that little CONTRACT of yours.
     
    So they tell you to pay money, or else. What they kind of forgot is that they can’t make people give them their cash, they ain’t the IRS and they ain’t Obama fascist Hussein over there. They lack the thugs and power. So their profit margins shrink. Oh, guess what, it shrinks. The Fers that pay 0.1% tax on anything, see their profit margins shrink… that’s nice.
     
    The old Guard creative artists think they can get consumers to pay up or else. That’s all they know .They were whipped as slaves on the tax farm by their publishers, and they think that’s how it’ll work for making consumers Produce the Cash…
     
    Maybe. Maybe not.

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