1997-07-02 - Re: Liberating the Bits

Header Data

From: nobody@huge.cajones.com (BigNuts)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 0bab33aa22c58d3d1eed2596500013bc4028fa63efa6bf418509b5b94c91bf58
Message ID: <199707022134.PAA16117@wombat.sk.sympatico.ca>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1997-07-02 21:52:54 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 05:52:54 +0800

Raw message

From: nobody@huge.cajones.com (BigNuts)
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 05:52:54 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Liberating the Bits
Message-ID: <199707022134.PAA16117@wombat.sk.sympatico.ca>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Michael Stutz wrote:
> On Tue, 1 Jul 1997, Tim May wrote:
> > Technology liberates the bits.
> Copyright law is not only useless on the net but inefficient; one need only
> compare the performance of free, copylefted software versus proprietary,
> closed software to see which is better. But now it is possible to apply the
> same principle of copyleft to _all_ non-software information, too --
> including text, images and music. I have done this myself with novels and
> albums of music, and have posted full instructions on how to apply this to
> non-software information at <http://dsl.org/copyleft/>.

  Tim gave excellent information on how one can go about using 
technology to enjoy the fruits of other people's labour without 
contributing toward the survival of those producing the things
he enjoys.
 (I, being more niggardly, will refuse to share a technique I developed
for stealing money from a blind beggar's cup and candy from a child's
Halloween bag.)

  Michael is right about technology and the InterNet now making it
possible to circumvent the principle represented by copyright law.
  When I originally came up with the concept of BlackNet and 
anonymous remailers, I foresaw that my invention of Public Key
Cryptography might help make it possible for ordinary people to reap
the benefits of other peoples' ideas and hard work, without doing
anything to contribute toward the survival of creative, productive

  Although a person *can* enjoy the product of other peoples' efforts
without contributing toward the production of that product, the decision
as to whether they *should* do so should not be taken lightly.
  I believe that we live in a predatorial universe and that everything
we do involves some form of "eating" the life forms around us, whether
we do so physically, emotionally, or mentally. Whether the process
involves hunting what already exists, or growing new life forms by
farming, our future quality of life will depend on the quality of 
resource management done by ourself and others.

  There is undoubtedly an increased cost for certain software, music
albums, etc, because of the theft and coercion of the companies that
dominate an industry (via bribes, collusion, political donations),
but there is also a fixed cost that needs to be met for these products
to continue existing and developing.
  There is also a minimum level of sustenance needed by those who
produce the products we use, and if this is not met, then they cease
producing those products. If you copy George Strait's albums without
putting a few pennies in his pocket, it is not likely to inhibit his
market enough to matter, but if you do the same with an album by a
group who is living in a station-wagon between gigs, then you might
find yourself wondering "What ever happened to 'Psychotic Losers'?"
  I bought Microsoft Word because I like the product and use it
a lot. Other Microsoft programs that I use occassionally, I just
grab a copy from someone else because it's not worth my while
to pay big money for it and I don't want to waste my time and effort
using a product which doesn't fit into their proprietary scheme.
  (I apply the same standards to stealing children's Halloween candy.
I only steal from fat kids, and I don't take the whole bag. I want
to make it worth their while to go trick-or-treating next year.)

  I can understand that Tim May wants to hang on to the mountain of
cash that was made possible by his company's software copyrights, 
but I am surprised that he seems so boastful about denying others
any compensation for their ideas, talent, and labour.

  The Internet seems to be moving proprietary software more toward
a shareware/freeware attitude, since some companies are seeing the
benefit of making their product widely available. An example is
Microsoft making a file available for people without their product
to read the documents produced with it.
  I suspect that the technology which allows most information to
be set free from the bondage of copyright will lead to a more 
balanced playing field where it is harder for a company to keep
their prices artificially high by virtue of market domination
and political pull, but there will always remain a need for those
who create and produce to receive compensation for doing so.

There's something wrong when Janet Reno is not 
a felon under an increasing number of laws.
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