BitTorent going legal

Discussion in 'Computing and Networks' started by bertus, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. bertus

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  2. praondevou

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    Not so clear what that means. Controlling the copyrighted files being shared? This is what they would they have to do.
     
  3. t06afre

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    strantor and DerStrom8 like this.
  4. panic mode

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    exactly, ski mask is illegal only when you use it to break the law
     
  5. takao21203

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    ripped movies + mp3 + illegal pron + cracked softwares account for most of these media found on torrent sites.

    What if you go to the appartment of these teens, and say, you have so many drinks in your fridge and don't need them all right now, can I have one or two?

    It's kinda like we steal movies and we also give you a free drink if you dare. Revolutionary.
     
  6. strantor

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    Water bongs are legal too, until you put pot in them ;).
     
  7. THE_RB

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    Copyright legality really has some grey areas that need to be nutted out over the coming decades.

    For instance if I walked past your house, and saw you had a new Ferrari, and I stole it, then I would be a thief, and you lost a Ferrari and I illegally gained a Ferrari. No doubts.

    But what if I walked past your house, saw your new Ferrari, and pressed a button on my "magic box" and it made me a perfect copy of your Ferrari at no cost to anyone? I didn't "steal" your Ferrari because you still have it. No-one else has lost a Ferrari. The Ferrari company did not lose a sale, because I am a cheapskate poor person who was NEVER going to buy a Ferrari under any circumstances...

    If you have studied economics then you know this approaches a grey area. The closest thing to a loser is the Ferrari company, who would see some potential devaluing of their product if enough numbers of people made enough copies. But not a loss from any single person, statistically. Then again, it could be argued that the Ferrari company keeps the cost of their product artificially inflated, which could in itself be a moral grey area.

    I feel for both sides, as a manufacturer of hardware and software I don't want someone effortlessly copying my products, that would be bad for me. But then I also understand if a single person copies one of my products and that person would never have bought a product, then technically that instance has not cost me. In the middle is some grey area, and unfortunately for now the large companies have dominated that grey area protecting their profits at the expense of trashing the rights of the individual (re the Sony issue etc).
     
  8. WBahn

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    I definitely agree that there are (and always will be) gray areas. But I don't think they need to be anywhere near as gray as they have become.

    I think we need to get back to the idea of what patents and copyrights (I'll refer to them collectively as patents) were intended to achieve/promote. The basic idea is simple: Society benefits when people (or companies) create new things. But people are highly disincentivized to create new things if the time, money, and effort put into the creative process doesn't have a reasonable likelihood to result in a return on their investment because what they are creating can be copied by others who can sell them at a discount because they don't have the investment costs to recoup. So we grant legal protections granting the creator exclusive control over their creation so as to be able to profit from their efforts. But this has to be balanced against the primary objective which is to foster the creation of products for the benefit of society. The balance is fairly easy to strike by providing this legal protection for a reasonable length of time and, after that, the item goes into the public domain and anyone can copy/make/sell the item from that point on.

    Since items will have a well defined window of when they go into the public domain, people/companies that violate the patent/copyright protections should be aggressively prosecuted by the government (i.e., the one that granted the protection) and fined based on nominal damages. So, if I copy a piece of software illegally that would have cost me $2000 had I purchased it, then claiming that I never would have purchased it so the company didn't really lose anything doesn't fly. My fine should be twice whatever the highest retail price at the time of infringement was with half going to the owner and half going to the government (so that the offenders are paying for the cost of enforcement).

    If this philosophy is adopted (or readopted?), then the only real question is how long should that period of protection be? Should it be one-size-fits-all and every creation enjoys the same period of protection of, say, 10 years? Some creations may have taken very little time/money/effort to create and lend themselves to high-volume, high-profit sales, while others might have involved huge development costs and only lend themselves to relatively low-volume, low-profit sales. So do we give different items different periods of protection? A rational argument could certainly be made that we should, but my position is that doing so will only put us right back where we are today since lobbyists will forever be pushing to have the period of protection for THEIR niche increased. So I would contend that every item should be protected for the same amount of time. The auto companies, the software companies, the songwriters, and the drug companies then all know that they will have such-and-such period to time to profit from their efforts and can choose the level of effort accordingly based on their best analysis of what they will be able to recover during their exclusive control period (plus the ongoing revenue they will continue to receive as just another producer of the product in a competitive market once the protection runs out).

    Now, one way to deal with the differences is to make the protection renewable on an exponential scale. So perhaps (just throwing out numbers), you might get ten years of protection automatically (from the date the patent application was filed - no protection before that). There should be a meaningful fee associated with receiving the protection (only a nominal fee for filing, but a much more considerable fee to actually get the protection if the application is approved). So perhaps the filing fee might be $500 but the actual patent fee is $110,000 payable in yearly increasing installments, say $2000*the number of the year, so the first year would cost $2000, the second year $4000, the third year $6000, and the final year $20000. Miss a year and the patent expires immediately and irrevocably. This let's patent holders pay small amounts in the first years when they are trying to get into production, work out licensing arrangements, sell the patent, develop a market, whatever. If, at any point, you conclude that the product isn't worth the increasing cost of the patent fee, then just let it lapse (no penatly for doing so) and go into the public domain. If you don't envision at least $110k in profits over ten years from this wonderful creation, then don't pay the fee -- and keep in mind that the government, in exchange for this fee, takes on the responsibility for active enforcement. At the end of that initial period, you can renew it one year at a time for an additional fee, but that that fee doubles with each renewal. Thus, if your product is truly valuable you can protect your property indefinitely, but it is going to quickly cost you huge amounts to keep doing so. Hence, at first, you might pay the fees but you are also going to aggressively market your creation (meaning you really want to find the optimal market price) because you have only bought yourself a limited window in which to recoup the increased fee. filing for protection. But even if it's Viagra you are not going to be able to do it for all that long - using the numbers I've thrown out above, the 11th year of protection would cost $220k but the 20th year of protection would cost over $225 million and the 30th year would cost over a $230 billion, not even Disney is going to pay that to protect Steamboat Willy (aka, Mickey).

    Another, even more market-sensitive, approach would be to let other entities that want to produce the product bid to force it into the public domain, with the holder of the protection having the right to retain a fraction of the protection by outbidding them. Off the top of my head, this is what I have in mind: You create the next Viagra and you get your 10 years of protection for $220k and, of course, it really takes off and you are making a $100 million a year in profit and many other companies want to make a generic version of it. So when your patent is coming due, they each pay the government whatever they choose in order to get part of rthe ights to produce it, but that payment is nonrefundable. Let's say there are three competitors and one of them pays $2 million, one of them pays $3 million, and one of them pays $5 million. Once the window to make these payments closes, the holder of the patent is told what the total amount paid is (in this case, $10 million) and they then can pay whatever they choose to retain whatever fraction of ownership they feel is justified. So say they choose to pay $10 million. In doing so, they paid 50% of the total payments and thus still have 50% of the patent, with the other 50% going into the public domain. Thus anyone can now make generic Viagra but they have to pay a 50% royalty to the patent owner. The other companies that paid fees (in order to partially break the patent protection) also have to pay royalties, but they are reduced in accordance with the fraction they paid. So the company that paid $5 million (i.e., 25% of the fee), thus their royalty is 50%-25%=25%, while the company that only paid $1 million has to pay 50%-10%=40%. But the patent owner might have chosen to pay $40 million, in which case they would have retained 80% of the patent and the company that paid $5 million would have to pay 70% royalties (people that didn't pay anything would have to pay 80%). But this situation only lasts for one year. At the end of that year another window opens (but whatever fraction went into the public domain stays in the public domain, so now the fight is over the fraction that was retained by the patent owner). The companies that paid the prior year don't have to pay again. If no one pays and the patent owner renews their remaining fraction, then the royalty rates are unchanged. But if there is another challenge, then whatever further increase goes into the public domain comes off their royalty directly (until, eventually, their royalty would go to zero even though the entire patent might not yet be in the public domain. So, on the one hand, there would be a mechanism by which companies that want to compete can force their way in but, in doing so, they both force a fraction of the patent into the public domain and they take the risk that the patent owner might either not protect the patent at all (in which case 0% is retained and all of it goes into the public domain) or they might protect it aggressively meaning that the royalty you would have to pay to produce the product isn't worth it and you receive little to no return on your payment. That's life. Analyze things carefully, make your decisions wisely, and accept the risks involved.

    Okay, you can tell I REALLY don't want to write this exam I need to prepare!
     
  9. takao21203

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    So you are kind of saying, that's where the money comes from to run these torrent sites?

    Also software is expensive to produce. People's jobs depend on the revenue.
     
  10. panic mode

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    jobs depend on it...?

    of course but then, everyone's job is on the line all the time. i and everyone i know had variety of completely different jobs over years (beach guard, courier, bartender, electrician, salesman, design engineer...) and i have no clue what other jobs i still may do (i may become writer or actor too, who knows...).

    i find it funny when i read that someone's job is on the line because they "develop software or work in the film industry", like there is nothing else to do to and make a buck.

    one of my buddies worked in automotive plant for years and thought he had it good, then boom, job is gone. then he tried own dry cleaning business, construction etc. so what is with the entitlement to keep one job as long one want's to? you can't get job as actor, makeup artist, lighting technician or programmer? move on... there are other things in life. and please quit the whining.

    recall the RIAA? tsk, cry me a river... some of the most ridiculous lawsuits:
    http://brainz.org/14-most-ridiculous-lawsuits-filed-riaa-and-mpaa/

    it's a sink or swim for everyone. it's not like nobody else has to live with market fluctuations. many companies had to close the doors when they failed to adapt (Kodak, Silicon Graphics, Nortel, Circuit City, Enron). and many are struggling right now, some even after they received massive help (banks, automotive). living from entertainment is not easy when entertainment content is so diverse now and even created by millions of people who don't even ask for money. one can spend days just watching royalty-free pranks, cat's videos, people failing to park their car etc. if one wants money and entertainment does not pay - find something people are willing to pay for or - change career. if you are out of ideas, i've heard that Walmart and local pizza place could use some help.
     
  11. takao21203

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    The same good you can argue to occupy buildings of rich people when they actually don't use them. Even if it won't cause any harm or would not make any actual difference, you'd see them very opposed to that.

    We live in a corporate capitalism, which is pretty much hold in place by ineffcient bureaucracy. So indeed you'd find many buildings not used effectively, empty, or people just sitting around and doing nothing. While others live in very crowded or very bad buildings, or even they live without buildings.

    This is well known. The right to make profit does actually exist.

    Most software houses make some profit, but they also have high costs. So we have copyright laws.

    You are very egoist, you are basically saying, the laws don't apply to me because it does not make any actual difference.

    The actual situation is the laws must be followed just to honour the law. That is what the people inside the bureaucracies want. Sometimes the only way to get things done is to suggest economical benefits.

    Are you a communist, anarchist, or both?

    Egoist because you know if everyone acts like you, things break down. So actually only a few people can do what they want, the others still must obey the system, and the few who do what they want actually are aware of that.

    Even anarchy is not different. The people can do what they like, but there are of course leaders who decide what is the new big thing to like or to do.

    If you apply it to the software hijacking- there are these sharing and torrent portals, and they are always operated in specific ways. You can cheat the original content producers, but you can't cheat the portal operators. They will benefit from your law breaking, in the end, not you.
     
  12. takao21203

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    If you observe the kind of hoarding culture that has arisen from the 8bit age (I want to mention Commodore and SEGA), one could say, the bosses in charge did not deserve it better. And they don't care maybe. They were mainly after money.

    This does not help however the artists who did very hard work, and the people who really liked and played the games and also paid for them.

    If you observe today's music productions, you could also say they don't deserve better than to become ripped off. The music they produce is urban gibber without any real correlation. A new hit will be known for weeks or months then it will disappear and will become replaced by another.

    It is still kind of weird. Why people would want to listen to songs all day, but at the same time they don't want to give back something to the artist they like. There is really the case when the artist gets 5 cent from each dollar, at best, the CD costs less than a dollar to produce, in the shop it is sold for 20 dollar.

    More than 90% of the money actually goes to people who don't do any real work, and who actually don't play music.

    It is an electronic, digital if you want, culture that just has arisen somehow, and which was never planned or designed. The ways to become signed are not offcially known, some of them might be adult related, what you often also can see from the lyrics.

    Would you give a dollar to a street musician if you like their music?
     
  13. panic mode

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    i know, artists lived for centuries before electronic records. same can still be done today - concerts, theatres etc. same happens with sports events - they play out in closed door venues and one pays for ticket. no reason for some backstage middlemen (RIAA and Co.) to get rich as Pharaohs.

    technology brought them up (they made empire by mass producing copies of someone else's work) and technology is bringing them down (internet and records in digital formats). for those guys i don't feel sorry.
     
  14. takao21203

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    Canned music is actually useful for supermarkets and shopping malls- the human noises are rather irritating here. Spending increases.

    And I like it too- always a surprise of urban or not so urban gibber. There is almost a guarantee that no correlation between the music pieces will exist.

    Best of all: It is totally free.

    Conspiration theory has it that sublime messages are encoded into this too, most of them things like "I am honest" "Deep frozen pizza tastes good" "XYZ market has gold standards".

    I don't know if this was an experiment done in the 1980s or if this is still taking place.

    Have a look this: http://textbookspecials.com/duel-big-tall-tommy-bahama-clearance-sale/ (there are no real sales at this webpage).
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  15. strantor

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    If I live down the street from a stadium and I can clearly hear from my porch the same music that all the ticket holding concert patrons paid for, am I stealing by sitting outside on my porch and listening to it? What if I record it (from my porch) and play it back inside my house?
     
  16. panic mode

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    then you need to be careful RIAA does not find about it or you can loos the porch and the house :D
     
  17. THE_RB

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    First let me clear that up, I was not talking about ME. I was speaking hypothetically, saying "IF I did this, would it mean this...".

    No that's a flawed comparison. A correct comparison would be if someone made a COPY of the rich person's building and lived in the COPY.

    There are absolute real world differences between stealing something and copying something. In some cases it can equate to the same thing, in other cases it is not the same thing.

    I understand that. The problem is when "the law" deviates from what is good and just for society, into something that screws society, that screws individual rights and is good only for the profits of corrupt megacorporations.

    Again it is nothing to do with ME but with the example I wrote. I have never used bittorrent.

    I was generalising more about entertainment copyrights. Like when a movie comes out and makes 500 million profit in the frist couple months alone, and some poor kid downloads a copy and watches it. Has he hurt the profits of the megacorporation? Can you prove that? Or will you be reduced to generic wishy washy arguments like "if everyone did that"?

    I like your argument that copyrights should be a fixed period of time. But I would also make it industry dependent in some ways too.

    For example the blockbuster movie that makes hundreds of millions profit, 90% of all its profit in the first two years, then maybe there should be some ability to download and copy that movie for free after that?

    And something like a tech breakthrough that will make steady profits for 15 years should have protection for that type of period?

    Or maybe a "user benefits" system, so if something makes 50 times it's development costs back in profit, then after that point it becomes free to copy? So if people love a movie or band, and after supporting that movie or band with massive profitable sales then the movie or music becomes free to copy, paying back to the people who loved it? ;)
     
  18. WBahn

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    As I said, a very rational argument can be made for that, but I really think that doing so would eventually lead us right back to where we are now. Copyrights (in the U.S., which are provided for in the Constitution and which explicity provides that they are to be for "a limited time") were for 14 years and could be extended by another 14 years. Now, IIRC, they have been extended to 70 years after the death of the author and there is a push to make them eternal. This would have never happened had all such monopolies on created works (i.e., patents on inventions and the like) been locked together with the same period of protection.

    I'm also not keen on the notion of trying to tie the length of protection to the success of the product in a manner intended to basically say, "You should only be allowed to profit so much and then, after that, you lose your protection." Doing that would greatly dimish the incentive to try to develop truly remarkable things. Why bother? Instead of taking a chance and spending time effort and money on fifty different things year after year knowing that most of them will flop but hoping that one of them will really stand out, I would be better of just coming up with a steady stream of mundane things in which I know that most of them will be "safe" and make me a little bit of a return. The whole point of patents and copyrights is to enable the market to reward risk taking based on the belief that society, overall and on average, benefits from having such risk takers among us.
     
  19. takao21203

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    OK yes.

    It is maybe flawed, but also occupying an empty building does not make a difference.

    You fundamentally misunderstand the concept of software. It is expensive to produce, and the costs are shared among the software users. Something like Maya is not just a collection of scripts that college students could author or maintain.

    Developing large softwares isn't so easy, if you take a look at the source codes for instance from open source games. There is a lot of work involved.

    I agree with you on that. But we should not break laws unneccessarily. If you don't like the copyright laws, don't use the products. If you break one law, this does not entitle you to break laws in general. You still have to follow other laws. Sometimes people think because it is OK to break a non-sense law, it is also OK to break other laws.

    For instance if I install old Windows98 on two computers, while one of them is not used much, and the other also is used for a short period of time, technically I break the copyright law. In reality, no one cares about that. Otherwise I still pay money for original software. I don't really regard it as law-breaking.

    But any tampering with software is actually illegal. How can people take you serious for your business?

    They don't usually go after poor kids who download one movie. There are however people who never buy any movies, and collect 100s if not 1000s, they even clog network resources.

    Again if you don't like the copyright law, don't watch movies. It is also possible to buy 2nd hand DVDs, discount DVDs, to use youtube etc.
    No one must depend on illegal torrent downloads.

    You call "if everyone did that" wishy washy. But if you consider people who never pay any movie, and maybe they are also rather rude otherwise, maybe they live in an urban ghetto, how would it be if everyone lives like that?

    Let's say these patterns are not desireable. If you really like a movie, why not pay money for it? Or wait until you can get it for discount, 2nd hand etc.

    Capitalism, for-profit corporate capitalism, talent scouting, the manager system, the Hollywood network, that is the way society currently works.

    It is possible to change things, or to work towards that. But disregarding laws is not the right thing. Really if you don't like their copyright laws, don't deal with them at all, don't consume their movies or music productions.

    I also pointed out already the corporate capitalism was never designed or engineered as such. It just evolved, dating back to the industrial revolution and including child labour (which still exists in 3rd world countries).

    Without it, without mass production, super markets etc., you would have to pay $50,000 for a personal computer. If it would exist and be available at all.

    Look at the evolution of graphics cards, the parallel computing. That was only possible to evolve with the funds from the capitalist market.

    Open Source, all this Linux stuff is quite interesting. These programmers are often relatively rich, either they hold well paid jobs, or they have funds available. Effectively they are taking away paid programming jobs. While the avail of free software is of course good. What if all software would be "free"? This would change the way how people can use software and how people can make software dramatically.

    Some producers or service providers have now developed a way offering basic services for free, but to charge for extra features.

    So as for music, maybe you can download one or two tracks for free, but you still have to pay for the album. Same for computer games, the good one's often have a demo that is well playable.
     
  20. THE_RB

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    I still think that could work, in some way tied to your concept of fixed and smaller periods of protection. For instance if a product (like a movie) generally makes 90% of it's profit in two years, the protection period could be short. There is enough knowlege of industries and their products to come up with something there.

    That's probably a good case for your actions not hurting the manufacturer, Micro$oft are not poorer in any way because you use two versions of their obsolete software. It used to be common to give away obsoleted versions of software, unfortunately not so common these days.

    In my case I have purchased many more licenses of Win98 over the years than the 2 sets I use now. Does that mean M$ should refund my money for all the sets I'm not using?

    This comes down the the point I was making, the copyright laws have been fudged over time to be something that gives all the rights to the large corporations but does not acknowlege the rights of the user.

    Look at Sony's history. In the 70's when audio cassettes became common there was a lot of worry that people would just copy music instead of buying it, but it was eventually sorted in law to protect the customer's rights, so if a person bought a piece of music they had the right to make copies for their own use. So you could buy an LP record and make a cassette copy to also play in the car. You bought it, you had the moral right to be able to use it.

    Run that past the "law" these days. Can you buy software for your PC and then make another copy to use on your laptop when you are in the car? Can you buy some music on CD and make another copy to play on some other equipment? The laws have been pushed by large corporations using their economic muscle to increase their rights and greatly reduce YOUR rights.

    And although I never pirate movies or shows or use Bittorrent myself I can really undertsand that a percentage of the population will do so, and may even have a certain right to do so.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
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