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  • aaeru1 6:19 pm on July 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Woodie Guthrie: “anybody caught singin it without our permission…” 

    A declaration on his recordings from the 1940s by folk musician Woodie Guthrie:
    ‘This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do’.

    Despite the declaration, these days a number of companies continue to claim copyright over Guthrie’s songs.

    • Woodie Guthrie


  • aaeru1 3:40 am on June 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Russian Hacker Creates Unauthorized PC Port of Xbox game: The Dishwasher VS 

    A Russian hacker who goes by the name of "Barabus" created an unauthorized Windows PC version of Ska Studios’ Xbox 360 game The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and released it last week. [Destructoid.com] [Polygon.com]

    So this is my take:

    “What has happened here is that, the owner had invested his time and energy to make changes to his own copy, and in his generosity, he shared those changes to his friends and community, but that this kind of production is held as a state-granted ‘exclusive privilege’ (aka monopoly) of the copyright holder. The holder of the monopoly has been given the power to crush any competitors who competes against him in the porting of this game.

    If this was true free markets, we say that the Russian hacker who ported the game has outcompeted the devs by providing this service faster and cheaper than the devs could do it themselves. But in monopoly land, doing so is an infringement on somebody’s privilege to be the exclusive provider of this service (copyright infringement). But infringement itself does not constitute moral wrong because he invades no one else’s property. He merely modifies his own legitimate property for which in normal circumstances, he would have had the right to do, but that that some of these rights to his own property has been seeded over to the copyright holder in the hopes that it will "promote the progress of ‘knowledge’ and useful arts" See US constitution copyright clause.

    “US Federal Court of Appeals (8th Circuit), in 2012:

    “Congress’s protection of copyrights is not a “special private benefit,” but is meant to achieve an important public interest: “to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired.” [ca8.uscourts.gov]

    I’m not making this up. Hit Ctrl+F and type "copyright" on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly

  • R 8:43 pm on January 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Richard Stallman: You should refuse to accept programs that require you to betray your community 

    “If someone offers me a program, on the condition not to share it with you. Then no matter how useful or how convenient it is for me, I reject it. I will not accept a copy of that program.

    I tell that person offering me that treacherous deal, Get out of here. Take your nasty evil program with you. And that’s what you should do too. You should refuse to accept programs that require you to betray your community.”

    • Richard Stallman

  • R 10:11 am on October 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Free Culture   

    Cory Doctorow: Wait a second, you are doing crazy things to the people in my head! 

    So, If I infect your head with an imaginary person from my head, You should have some right to that person okay? I deliberately put a fake person in your head, You should have the right to tell the world what that fake person is doing in your head, just as much as I have the right to tell the world what that fake person is doing in mine. In fact if like, when people are done, those fake people don’t live on? Then, you haven’t really made them care about them as people, you haven’t really done your job in getting the person from your head into theirs. And so this is where I think fanfic comes from and I think this is where people who object to fanfic are coming from because like, “Wait a second, you are doing crazy things to the people in my head!”, and I think this is where the people who are writing fanfic are coming from, they say, “Wait a second, No. Those crazy people are in MY head, those people are in my head too!”

    • Cory Doctorow

    Cory Doctorow presents Pirate Cinema.

  • R 5:59 am on October 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Lord Byron: one must have read before one has learnt to think 

    “To be perfectly original one should think much and read little, and this is impossible, for one must have read before one has learnt to think.”

    • Lord Byron


  • R 7:30 am on September 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Free Culture,   

    Eben Moglen: Software is an inherently incremental intellectual product. 

    Vast institutions are committed to the social philosophy that only exclusionary practices inevitably involving the large-scale continuance of unnecessary ignorance are essential to the production of useful information. Vast economic rents are being extracted from the world, and enormous numbers of people are going unfulfilled in intellectual and aesthetic needs that we can provide for. One inevitable consequence of the continuance of that approach is that people are forbidden to share.

    In 1993, the National Information Infrastructure Working Group on Intellectual Property, led by the chair of the PTO, Bruce Lehman, produced a green paper on intellectual property in the evolving Internet, which became eventually a White House policy document in the first Clinton administration. The IP Working Group report stated that, although it would indeed be necessary to increase copyright infringement penalties drastically, that measure would be inadequate to change social behavior sufficiently to protect intellectual property in the net. Accordingly, the IPWG suggested, every school receiving federal funds should have a curriculum in grades K-12, teaching children that it is wrong to share information. They suggested–I am not fooling you–a slogan in the aftermath of Mrs. Reagan’s extraordinary success at ending drug abuse in America. The slogan was: “Just say ‘yes’ to licensing.” What they did not explain was what you called the institution in which you explained to children that it is wrong to share information; it seemed improbable that one would continue to call such a place a school. Nonetheless, I thought that their intellectual honesty was extremely commendable. They had come to the heart of the problem. Their goal was the maintenance of existing social and economic relationships at the expense of incurring the fundamental intellectual inconsistency of their position: that we must teach people that they must not teach others, or else.

    Now, it is in that context that we have made a social network committed to the proposition that the central executable elements of human technology can be produced by sharing–without exclusionary property relations. And that if the central executable elements of technology can be made by sharing, without exclusionary property relations, then the non-executable elements of culture–art, useful information, and so on–can be distributed without exclusionary property relations. It is this process that you are presently witnessing.

    When I began working as a computer programmer for pay, in the early 1970s, there was a goal. Software developers had a purpose. The purpose was embodied in a four-word phrase: “Write once, run everywhere.” It meant, develop software which can be made to run on all of the hardware that even then rather heterogeneously populated society. It was, from the point of view of venture-capital funded, profit-making, investor-owned industries, an impossible goal, never achieved. We did it. GNU, Linux, and all the other thousands of programs in the free software world, run, as Rita correctly said, on everything. From the palmtop, the cell phone, and the single-purpose appliance–like the digital camera and the personal video recorder–to the mainframe. There was one purpose to software engineering overall throughout my lifetime, and we did it. The best-funded monopoly in the history of the world does not even try.

    There are reasons, which I have explored in my writing, including in the piece “Anarchism Triumphant,” that production of executable software without property relations inherently develops superior software–not immediately, but over the long term. The analysis of that proposition I leave in detail for further discussion. It’s essence is this: software (executable software) is an inherently incremental intellectual product. This is an argument, by the way, against the application of the patent system to it, not a philosophical one, but a technical one. The appropriate invocation of the principal of novelty and non-obviousness to software results in zero software patents. All persons reasonably skilled in the art are capable of achieving each result incrementally, from where the art is at any given moment. But more importantly, for our purposes, the process of making software is massively parallelizable when the costs of communication and coordination are reduced near zero.

    The net is a superconductive medium for the creation of software. So, as I wrote in 1999 when it was a little less obvious than it is today, we are witnessing a phenomenon first noticed by Michael Faraday at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Wrap a coil around a magnet; spin the magnet. Electrical current flows in the wire. One does not ask, “what is the incentive for the electrons to leave home?” It’s an inherent, emergent property of the system, we have a name for it: we call it induction. The question we ask is, “what is the resistance of the wire?” Moglen’s corollary to Faraday’s Law says, wrap the Internet around every brain on the planet; spin the planet. Software flows in the network. It is wrong to ask, “What is the incentive for people to create?” It’s an emergent property of connected human minds that they do create. The forms in which they create, like the evolution of spoken and written language, like the disposition of memes, cultural forms, patterns of pottery, shapes of musical endeavor, and so on, are structural characteristics of the human mind. We are a social species, and we create together; that’s our nature. The question to ask is, “What is the resistance of the network?” Moglen’s Corollary to Ohlm’s Law states that the resistance of the network is directly proportional to the field strength of the intellectual property system. The conclusion is: Resist the resistance. Which is what we do. We have been doing it in an exponential growth curve for slightly over twenty years. Now we have forty percent of the server market (note: 60-65% as of 2012). We’re going to have a hundred percent of the appliance market within five years. That’s a trivial economic deduction from the following simple fact: when you sell a four-hundred dollar palm top, you can afford to pay a license fee for its operating system, of $24.95, or $49.95, or incur expensive in-house development activity and make a Palm OS. When the box costs fifty bucks, there’s no room left for paying $12.95 to Mister Gates: we win. We win.

    We all do it together, the software’s a public utility; “Write once, run everywhere”; we’re done. This is a noticeable proposition, not just to us- though we understand why it is socially and politically desirable that the world work this way. It is a noticeable proposition for the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), too. You now have, after a mere twenty years of work on our part, the largest, best-funded technology company on earth fundamentally on our side with respect to how the information technology system will work in the twenty-first century. San Palmisano, Irving Wladawski-Berger, you read them all the time, there’s a simple proposition: software’s a public utility, computing is an on-demand service provided by service providers who handle the internalized cost of making computing possible, and so on.

    Thus we observe the new political economy of software. If you have a network and you share, you can achieve the ethical goal of allowing everybody to understand, to improve, to find and fix bugs, to create better software, and to share information in a way that allows them to improve their technical skills. Free software is the single greatest technical library on earth. I say that because free software is the only field where a person can go from naiveté, to the state of the art, in everything that a particular field contains, solely by reading material that is universally available at no cost everywhere the network exists. That is the single, greatest intellectual capital development program in the world. The legal system that makes that possible, the GNU General Public License, with which I have some intimate experience, achieves the creation of a greater and more extensive knowledge exchange program than any other in the world, at no cost. When my colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to put their entire curriculum on the web–every course, every teaching material, every problem set, every examination–they were adopting the recognition that the principle of Western science, the principle of free software, and the principle of non-exclusion are the path of development for the twenty-first century, a proposition which has its capitalist echo in the behavior of IBM.

    • Eben Moglen

    Freeing the Mind :
    Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture

  • R 3:21 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    David Byrne: “Context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed” 

    “I had an extremely slow-dawning insight about creation. That insight is that context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually the opposite of conventional wisdom, which maintains that creation emerges out of some interior emotion, from an upwelling of passion or feeling, and that the creative urge will brook no accommodation, that it simply must find an outlet to be heard, read, or seen. The accepted narrative suggests that a classical composer gets a strange look i his or her eye and begins furiously scribbling a fully realized composition that couldn’t exist in any other form. Or that the rock-and-roll singer is driven by desiree and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song that had to be three minutes and twelve seconds — nothing more, nothing less. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to b, but I think the path of creation is almost 180º from this model. I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to fit preexisting formats.

    Of course, passion can still be present. Just because the form that one’s work will take is predetermined and opportunistic (meaning one makes something because the opportunity is there), it doesn’t mean that creation must be cold, mechanical, and heartless. Dark and emotional materials usually find a way in, and the tailoring process — form being tailored to fit a given context — is largely unconscious, instinctive. We usually don’t even notice it. Opportunity and availability are often the mother of invention. The emotional story — ‘something to get off my chest’ — still gets told, but its form is guided by prior contextual restrictions. I’m proposing that this is not entirely the bad thing one might expect it to be. Thank goodness, for example, that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we make something.”

    “It’s usually assumed that much Western medieval music was harmonically ‘simple’ (having few kew changes) because composers hadn’t yet evolved the use of complex harmonies. In this context there would be no need or desire to include complex harmonies, as they would have sounded horrible in such spaces. Creatively they did exactly the right thing. Presuming that there is such a thing as ‘progress’ when it comes to music, and that music is ‘better’ now than it used to be, is typical of the high self-regard of those who live in the present. It is a myth. Creativity doesn’t ‘improve.’”

    • David Byrne

    David Byrne on How Music and Creativity Work

  • R 7:12 am on September 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Mark Twain: “The bulk of all human utterances — is plagiarism.” 

    “Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing — and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.”

    • Mark Twain

    Mark Twain on Plagiarism and Originality: “All Ideas Are Second-Hand”

  • R 6:59 am on September 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    John is a musician from Port Chalmers by way of Santa Fe and Los Angeles. He teaches digital music culture. As a fashion designer, he dressed Naomi Campbell.

    In this talk he discusses the cultural impact of the “the folk process”. Looking at how releasing your intelectual property into the world and opening it up to be “borrowed” by others is just the beginning of the iterative process shape trends, culture and and the commercial world.

    He challenges the copyright and anti-piracy legislation. “In the fashion world people are to busy being on to the next thing to worry about copyright”. He proposes that “transformational imitation” where by we improve on existing products could be a more productive way for society and business to look at the concept of intellectual property.

  • R 8:31 am on September 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    The Story of Linux: How Free Software Revolutionized The World 

    “(Linus Torvalds) he soon made a very important decision that would shape Linux’ future just as much as the technology. He chose the GPL license created by a visionary named Richard Stallman. The Linux kernal along with the GPL license and other GNU components revolutionized the computing industry with a few very simple yet very important freedoms.

    1. The freedom to use the software for any purpose.
    2. The freedom to change the software to suit your needs.
    3. The freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbours (i.e. strangers)
    4. The freedom to share the changes you make.”


    The Story of Linux: Commemorating 20 Years of the Linux Operating

  • R 2:18 pm on September 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Free Culture,   

    Jeffrey Tucker: Absence of IP creates a broad-mindedness 

    As I think more about intellectual property in the form of patents and copyrights, it seems that the implications for social theory are profound. The behavior targeted and slaughtered by IP is one that provides a fuel for all social and economic development: imitation and emulation.

    In the German-speaking world of art in the 18th and 19th centuries, imitation by composers was considered to be the greatest tribute. When Bach would write an elaboration of Buxtehude, it was seen as a wonderful gift to Buxtehude’s legacy and memory. When Mahler would turn a phrase by Brahms, or reorchestrate a Beethoven symphony, it was the tribute of one master to another. So it is in literature and economics.

    Imitation in economic affairs is essential for development, since nothing is ever perfect right out of the box, and society is constantly changing. You need that imitative dynamism in order for technology to keep up with changing market conditions. This is what IP shuts down in the name of rewarding creators. How can creators make a buck in a world of fluid imitation? The same way they always have: by having the best product at the right price to the market first. When others imitate them, they have to hustle again and innovate some more. This is how societies and economies grow.

    Think of the fashion world, where IP isn’t in force. It is fast-moving, innovative, and remarkably profitable. Designers have their ideas imitated nearly as soon as they are seen on the runway. This imitative behavior is widely regarded as a ratification of a good idea. It is something that people are socialized to look for as an indication of marketability. It is the same with generic drugs, fonts, perfume, and other sectors in which there is no IP.

    Sadly, in sectors in which IP does apply, the opposite attitude applies. Authors, artists, and inventors sit and brood about the need to keep their wares to themselves and hunt down anyone who would dare “steal” their ideas. In the successful cases, they can end up rewarding themselves but at the expense of social development.

    In the far more prevalent unsuccessful cases, the obsession with being ripped off leads to brooding, resentment, and disgruntlement that the world has failed to provide them a living. A sector consisting of nothing but people like this — with an attitude encouraged in law — is stagnant. By way of illustration, compare the imitation-oriented jazz and rock sectors with the IP-obsessed area of serious classical music!

    Other sectors like advertising fall somewhere in between. Several years ago, Apple ran a commercial for the iPod that looked incredibly similar to one produced by Lugz shoes. Now, one might laugh and appreciate this — surely it will benefit both companies — or one can regard it as theft. Instead of celebrating a success, Lugz regarded it as a rip-off, which Apple denied. Words flew between the companies, along with threats of litigation and cease-and-desist orders.

    This is really just pathetic and completely unnecessary.

    It really all comes down to the attitude one takes toward one’s influence on others. The absence of IP creates a broad-mindedness that seeks to make a difference in the world and looks for imitators as a sign that it is working. The presence of IP subsidizes a kind of inwardness and bitterness that sees the whole world as being populated by potential thieves to keep at bay.

    You see the two ways of looking at the world in the way kids interact with each other. I’m speaking of preteens and the way they deal with their emergent societies. Let’s say one kid has developed a certain phrase or gesture that is new to the social group. Another kid picks up on it and employs it.

    Now, there are two ways to respond to this imitation. The innovator child can see others doing and saying what he did and said and realize that he has made a difference in the world, put a dent in this little universe. He has become a force for changing the world as he knows it. He has made his mark, and the evidence is how others are doing the same thing. He feels a sense of pride and joy and works at coming up with other unique ways of dressing, speaking, or behaving that others similarly imitate.

    “Copyright is a subject replete with mythology. People imagine that copyright is important for protecting rights, even though the practical reality is that it is a killer of ideas and a rights violator on a massive scale.”
    Or the child can have another response. He can accuse his imitators of stealing his words, ripping off his gestures, pilfering his personality, and plundering his special way. He sees others who imitate as threats, forces that are reducing the value of his unique personality. He treats it as the equivalent of cheating on a test. It is taking what is his. It is the first stages of a very destructive, IP-style mentality.

    Parents: Be alert to signs of this among kids. Explain to children that it is a good thing when others are influenced by you. It means that you have made a difference in the world. It is not something to complain about at all. It is something to celebrate. It means that you are an entrepreneur on the cutting edge, someone who does things that succeed in society. That also comes with responsibilities to do good things and improve the look and feel of the world around them.

    Which attitude do you take toward emulation? Before you answer, consider that emulation is unavoidable. There is no such thing as absolute originality. Everything in a growing and health society is an elaboration on something else that already exists. This applies to technology, literature, music, art, language — everything. A world in which the ethics of IP applied would be backward and stagnant, headed nowhere but backward.

    Children’s movies cut both ways. The movie called Ratatouille strikes me as the ultimate IP-supporting propaganda. A rat with a gift for taste and smell is rescued from the gutter and put in a position to cook food at a fine restaurant. All his food is great. He has imitators all over the place but he alone remains the best. But then he begins to seethe with resentment that he alone is not given credit and accolades. Oddly, some people fear that customers will not like the idea that a rat is cooking all the food! The movie ends with his being discovered — he feels great pride, and we are supposed to be happy about this. The restaurant is destroyed, but the audience is supposed to figure that it is worth it.

    A much better case is Horton Hears a Who. Throughout the film, we see competitive pressure between the various animals to see which one will have the dominant influence over others. The Kangaroo tries to prevent Horton from influencing people, but he does anyway, and eventually everyone comes around. We see it too in the lovely operation of Whoville, a place where emulation is king, and it is a vibrant and lovely society in which everyone is happy.

    As web editor of Mises.org, hardly a week goes by when I don’t see imitators of our successful web presence. It can be images, articles, design, feel, structure — everything. Some years back I had the view that this had to be stopped. Fortunately, no one here had time to bother with it. Thank goodness. The whole reason we exist is to influence the world. Evidence of that is glorious, and it keeps the fire under our staff to keep doing a better job and stay on the cutting edge.

  • R 2:40 am on September 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Nina Paley: Four freedoms of free culture 

    Nina Paley:

    "Free Software’s fundamental document is Richard Stallman’s Free Software Definitions (FSD) [3]. At its core, the FSD lists four freedoms:

    • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose;
    • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs;
    • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
    • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits;

    Fortunately the Four Freedoms of Free Software easily apply to Culture:

      • the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
      • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
      • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
      • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

    Software IS culture. Many in the Free Software Movement draw a false distinction between "utility" and "aesthetics," claiming software is useful and culture is just pretty or entertaining. But you never know how a cultural work might prove useful to someone else down the line. If you treat it as non-useful, and restrict it to prevent other uses, then of course it won’t be useful – you’ve restricted its utility through an unFree license.

  • R 4:07 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Free Culture   

    Cory Doctorow: So what do digital rights activists want, if not “free information?” 

    “So what do digital rights activists want, if not “free information?”

    They want open access to the data and media produced at public expense, because this makes better science, better knowledge, and better culture – and because they already paid for it with their tax and licence fees.

    They want to be able to quote, cite and reference earlier works because this is fundamental to all critical discourse.

    They want to be able to build on earlier creative works in order to create new, original works because this is the basis of all creativity, and every work they wish to make fragmentary or inspirational use of was, in turn, compiled from the works that went before it.

    They want to be able to use the network and their computers without mandatory surveillance and spyware installed under the rubric of “stopping piracy” because censorship and surveillance are themselves corrosive to free thought, intellectual curiosity and an open and fair society.

    They want their networks to be free from greedy corporate tampering by telecom giants that wish to sell access to their customers to entertainment congloms, because when you pay for a network connection, you’re paying to have the bits you want delivered to you as fast as possible, even if the providers of those bits don’t want to bribe your ISP.

    They want the freedom to build and use tools that allow for the sharing of information and the creation of communities because this is the key to all collaboration and collective action — even if some minority of users of these tools use them to take pop songs without paying.”

    – Cory Doctorow

  • R 10:06 pm on September 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    Kirby Ferguson: We are not self made. 

    This lecture by Ferguson is a fascinating look into the nature of “creating things” in our mind, and may change the way you think about “original work”:

    “Our creativity comes without, not from within. We are not self made. We are dependent on one another, and admitting this to our selves isn’t an embrace of mediocrity, and derivativeness — it’s a liberation from our misconceptions. And it’s an incentive, to not expect so much from ourselves, and to simply begin.”


  • R 11:59 am on September 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture, ,   

    Daniel Cook: Embracing Piracy 

    Piracy as a fun activity

    I was a pirate in my youth. Many of my fondest memories involve sorting through a giant stack of 3.5" floppies searching for that one diamond in the rough. I’m not exactly ignorant of the practice. In fact, I partially credit my current design chops to playing through such a vast range of hundreds of wonky and experimental games.
    Being a ‘pirate’ was being part of a community. You and your friends shared games like social gaming gifts on Facebook. It didn’t cost you anything to copy a game and give it to someone. A game was a social token to chat about, a gesture of kindness to reciprocate. A key takeaway from that time is that copying and sharing vast quantities of digital goods is a deeply fun, social and highly useful activity. This is a new thing, a new behavior in a post-scarcity world.

    Hacking piracy for profit

    As a young game developer, I believed that ‘piracy’ was the norm. The first game I worked on, Tyrian, used the shareware model. The essential assumption was that people love copying games for free, taking home a stack of 100 and then playing through them like it was Future Christmas. This behavior wasn’t about ethics, morality, legality, etc. It was an observable cultural pattern of behavior that sprung quite naturally and innocently from technology and people mixing.
    If you put out a pool of water and people start merrily flopping around in it, you acknowledge that this thing called ‘swimming’ exists. You can ban it as immoral, but I’d rather invent a sexy sandy thing called a ‘beach’ and get 2 bucks a head for admission.
    With shareware, we hacked the copying behavior. People would play the random floppies and some of clever programs would say "Hey! Did you know that you can pay for this?" And a small portion of users did. ‘Pirate’ and ‘consumer’ are not mutually exclusive properties. In our capitalist society, almost everyone (with a few notable exceptions) is trained to buy stuff. People who like checking out new software for free are really just another audience of potential consumers.

    Observing retail shenanigans from a distance

    Now to the retail world, piracy is kind of philosophically shocking. For much of history, physical goods have featured an inherent production cost. I make stuff, I sell stuff and hopefully the resulting revenue pays for the cost of making all that stuff. This is ingrained… we don’t even think about it. In fact in our specialist world, we’ve abstracted many of the roles and treat them as magical black boxes. Many engineers focus just on the ‘making stuff’ portions of the pipeline. "Oh, I don’t sell stuff; I’m a maker" is the essence of their personal identity. When the rest of the black boxes don’t magically perform ‘selling’ and ‘making a profit’, the world seems broken.
    Over the past 30-plus years, we’ve witnessed multiple generations of business owners coming to terms with this wild new copying behavior. And it is hard. EA used to think of themselves as a company that sold boxes. That is their culture. They hire people that love selling boxes in the same way that engineers like ‘making stuff’. Then they find that 80-90% of the people playing their games didn’t pay for them. In physical goods, that situation doesn’t even compute. Identities are at stake. The closest analogues are terms like ‘piracy’, ‘counterfeiting’ or maybe ‘intellectual property theft’.
    It has been a really confusing time for businesses. Some lashed out by labeling consumers as evil, some tried to protect the old ways with DRM. Relationships with customers…who see themselves as just having fun sharing cool stuff…became antagonistic. 30 years. When you raise kids in a warzone, they grow up parroting propaganda. No wonder the conversation is polarized.

    Embracing the culture of free

    I’ve never really cared much about piracy. Even the term itself is a construct of a retail mentality attempting to protect old business models.
    Those business models may fail in the long run. I have zero emotional attachment to buying games at retail, collecting cardboard boxes or even more radically, preserving the existing forms of games that thrived in the retail world. If all ‘sequels’ aka ‘excuses to get you to buy another box’ stopped tomorrow, I wouldn’t be overly upset. Detach yourself from the emotions of history. Give up the past forms of what games were. Adapt to the current environment with one eye firmly fixed upon the future.
    People copying digital goods as an inherently joyful social activity is an opportunity. It is an artistic opportunity. It is a business opportunity. It is a cultural opportunity.

    – Daniel Cook



    Techdirt: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120825/19545120159/piracy-is-cultural-opportunity-embrace-it.shtml

  • R 9:31 am on August 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Free Culture   

    How are Artists supposed to express themselves if they are poor? 

    How are Artists supposed to say the things they want to say, if they cannot afford to pay for their speech? Sometimes the most effective way (or sometimes the only way) to artistically express, is to CITE, to SAMPLE or to REMIX the material on which you are speaking about. Now what if the artist is too poor to pay the royalty fees? Now what if that piece of expression happened to be ‘unprotected speech’ (i.e. not for criticism or for education)?

    Copyright RESERVES Freedom of Speech for the rich.

    Copyright: "If we must sacrifice the ability for our artists to express themselves in order to Profit from it… THEN SO BE IT!"

    Also see Copyright RESERVES culture for an Elite.

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