Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Imaginary Property is going to destroy our country

By "our country" I mean the U.S.A...I do actually realize the internet crosses national boundries.  But it just sounds better to say "our country" :-)

I was having lunch with a friend today and we were talking about brain drain.  Already, if you want the really cool electronics, you have to buy them direct from Taiwan or Hong Kong, because patents are keeping so many basic technologies locked up.

It's sad that this is the case.  Copyright has the same issue--both are artificially keeping entrenched interests in power, and denying entry to new players--which is the exact opposite of the purpose of "intellectual property".

If we don't fix this very soon, the U.S. is going to start a serious decline in arts and technology on the world stage.

Jesus, what a travesty.

Here's the latest outrage:

Just check out that amazing technology that Microsoft supposedly infringed!

Mind you, if there's anyone who deserves such a lawsuit, it's definitely Microsoft, who's been extorting money from Android phone makers for years now.

Fuck them all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sony is copying my copyright!

So I took at look at and they appear to be violating my copyright from this post, where you can clearly see I use the word "limited", which they copied.

Am I feeling a little butthurt about their getting the sound muted, without good reason, on my Youtube demo video?


Monday, October 29, 2012

DRM in games, closed source software

Digital Rights Management, almost by definition, is always closed source software--meaning you cannot inspect the code that is running on your computer.  Never forget that the "rights" being enforced are the "rights" perceived as belonging to the distributor of the content--not your rights.  In fact, they are actively hostile even to your existing fair use rights.

I'm thinking about that again because this weekend I bought a copy of Battlefield 3.  It's the first game I've bought in several years, since I started working on my own big game.  One of the reasons I started making my own game was because I was profoundly bored with all the new big games coming out, and so I wanted to make the game I wanted to play.  So my lack of motivation to buy games had a deep base.

But in any case, they've been coming a long way in areas like graphics and character modeling, etc. and I decided it was time to check out one of the recent big hits, and I've always been a fan of the Battlefield series.  In fact, my own game is, what I like to think of, as Battlefield on acid. :-)

So I went and bought a copy and as I was opening it up it hit me like a thunderclap--"why the fuck did I buy this?".  I hate Electronic Arts--they are a famously nasty company, and these days I vote with my pocketbook.  They do a lot of douchey things like let you purchase game upgrades that give you an advantage in the game (after you've already dropped $50 on the game), and they treat their employees like shit.  In our so called pure capitalistic society where the people are "consumers" instead of "customers", EA getting away with this sort of behavior only encourages it.  So I don't want to give them any money.

It's not like I don't know how to pirate shit.

And in any case, I seriously doubt I'll play it much, and even more, I do NOT trust the big game companies these days with Administrator access to my computer, especially on Windows.  It is extremely difficult/impossible to monitor what an application is doing on Windows (while many tools are built into Linux for this), and so I simply don't trust them (and there are numerous historical reasons to not trust DRM schemes).

So I started wondering how piracy was working these days with the much more aggressive DRM schemes (which "phone home", making piracy more challenging).  So I toodled over to the Pirate Bay and found this:

And I started reading the description--generally pirates will have a short description--which you must follow to the letter--to implement their crack.  And I saw this curious comment:

"As usual we recommend firewalling the main executable, not using Origin, and
avoiding EA.

I'm still not sure what they mean by "firewalling" here, but what caught my attention was "Origin".  I did a little googling and discovered it's basically EA's Steam-like service for buying games.

So basically what they are saying here is that, since you don't know what Origin will do on your computer, it might find the pirated version of the game.

Because, of course, Origin might just be scanning your entire computer.

And this is what I mean when I say that Digital Rights Management protects the perceived "rights" of the distributor--including the right to poke into every nook and cranny of your computer, combing through your personal data, personal pictures, finances, etc. in pursuit of their rights.  And it pisses all over your rights.

Run Linux.  Don't buy stuff with invasive DRM in it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More evidence of RIAA double dealing

I am shocked, shocked I say to find out that the "independent expert" hired by the so called "Copyright Information Center" was actually an entertainment industry shill.

I sure hope no one is fooled by this shit.

The Copyright Information Center, in case you don't recall, is the group that has somehow convinced your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) to spy on your internet usage for them.

You know, I almost can't wait for this to go into effect.   I, for one, will be raising hell every minute of every day about it, to the best of my ability.  Everyone I talk to will hear it.  I will explain it clearly so that anyone can easily understand.

Someone has to call out this scum.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

So Vuze is worth a damn after all?

If you've used the Vuze bittorrent client, you know that it has a lot of nice features at the expense of all your computer's resources.  But this article has some interesting information that I don't yet fully understand that seems to indicate that it might be worth the hassle.

There must be room for failure

(I'm calling this one a late one for the 26th!)

Experiments like mine must be encouraged, not discouraged.  Unless we have a very unrestrictive copyright regime, we will destroy the power of the internet to create.  Yes, it is often based on what has come before--just like everything else in the world.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Copyright in the Presidential debates

I played a drinking game during the Presidential debates.  I took a drink every time a candidate mentioned the word "copyright" or "patents".

Suffice to was the shittiest goddamn drinking game I've ever played.

I realize that the Imaginary Property mess is very much a First World Problem.  In fact, that is very much the reason I started this blog--to increase awareness among "regular folks", because that is the only hope for the future.

Believe me--a first world problem today can become a problem for the whole damn world, tomorrow.  Tell your friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stealing from the public domain

One of the most important provisions of copyright is expiration.  When copyright expires (even if it's in 250 years), works are supposed to go into the public domain, so that anyone can use them.

Too often this does not happen.  There are many, many works that legitimately are in the public domain that cannot be used properly because they are claimed as still copyrighted.

One of the biggest problems with the current copyright regime is that there are no penalties for lying, or even being careless, about what you own copyright to.

Hmmm.  I wonder what I can do with that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Victory is mine?

So I got this email from Google today:

Dear rastoboy,
Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. has reviewed your dispute and released its copyright claim on your video, "Singularity FPS Capture the Flag". For more information, please visit your Copyright Notice page
- The YouTube Team
So...I win?  Mind you, the audio on my video was muted for several days after a spurious complaint, and there will be zero consequences, to my knowledge, for the erroneous takedown notice.

I don't think I win, or anybody wins.  This only reinforces my already certain belief that all this taking down of websites and links that someone believes violates their commercial interests has GOT to go.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Murdoch backs down from Google and begs forgivemess

I am always amused at newspaper publishers who get bent out of shape about Google.  Rupert Murdoch famously called them "thieves" and made them stop linking to his papers.  Only a few months later, he has changed his mind.

Turns out he loves all those lovely clicks his papers get from Google.

How can anyone be so shit-headed as to not realize that they get a lot of hits from Google?  This is something that is clearly represented in web server logs.

And now for more amusement: a consortium of French newspapers is basically trying to make Google linking to them illegal.  Google is trying to make them see reason, but frankly I think they should just go ahead and remove them from their search results.

I mean, Google is evil, but people, at least try to understand which side your bread is buttered on.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

License to music

I don't really like seeing the words "license" and "music" close together, but as per my own philosophy (and self preservation) I was careful to license the music that I used in my game.  Here's my receipt and the beginning of the license:

I've saved the text of the license here in case you're interested.

So you can see that I made a good faith effort to correctly obtain permission for the music I used in my game, and hence in the video made from the game. (Don't even try to argue sematics with me about using it in the game and in a video made from the game--just go fuck yourself and die, if you read this blog you know how I would feel about such an asinine argument).

The question that arises now, of course, is did the person that sold me the rights have the right to do so?  This will be pivotal in case Sony decides they really do own the copyright to the music used in their video and my game.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My first phoney DMCA takedown request

So I'm so happy today.  I got my first phony DMCA takedown request.

You may or may not be aware that I have been working several years on a video game.  You may or may not be surprised to learn that when I used other people's work in it, I went out of my way to get permission or license the work.  After all, this is a money making (in theory!) proposition!

So I was surprised to get an email from ebay about one of the trailers I posted there.  This one, to be exact:

This is what the notice currently looks like:

I followed there instructions and disputed it, naturally.  But in the meantime, they've muted the sound because they assume I'm "guilty" even though their notice says my video "may include the following copyrighted content".

So the DMCA filer doesn't even have to be sure.

Now, in this case I did search for "乃木坂46-松村沙友理×多田卓也" and ran across this video:

And indeed, the song that starts about  half way through is the same song.

So...we licensed the same song from the same person.  And yet these assholes feel like they own it exclusively and are running around trying to censor other people who are using it. we enforce foreign copyrights under the DMCA?  I would have thought we only protect our own copyrights with bullshit like this.

Anyway, you see I will get a response by 11/17/2012--so for most of a month, at minimum, I am SOL.

Not happy.  Not happy at all.

I'll be reporting more as information comes in.  First thing I'm going to do is locate the person I licensed the music from and have a chat.

Oh by the way, Google sucks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

One way street--Verizon brags about spying on your internet usage

At a recent conference apparently Verizon bragged about how they are spying on your smartphone internet usage.

I mention this on this page because it is another example of how digital rights are a one way street, these days.  You can't use copyrighted material for the slightest thing, and you can't have any privacy in your internet usage--not to mention the government is probably spying on you as well.

As always, this is a good time to mention the Tor software for anonymizing your internet use.  In particular, I'd like to draw your attention to a version of Tor especially for mobile phones called Orbot.  I tried it out yesterday and it's very good--I wish they would get the desktop versions this easy to use.  The performance lag wasn't even too bad (although you should expect some performance lag until Tor becomes much more popular--it shares some characteristics with Bittorrent, in that the more people that use it the better it works).

Needless to say, you'll need to "root" your phone to use it.  Either you control your phone/computer, or it controls you!

Stay tuned tommorrow for an extra special post about my first DMCA request.

I'm so happy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If you're interested in facts...and I know you're not...

A recent study indicates music file sharers actually purchase significantly more music than those who don't.

Now, if you've been reading this blog, you know that I don't feel that justification for downloading media is necessary.  So I don't say that this is a justification for downloading music, obviously.  But if downloading music was wrong, this would also not be a justification.

What it is a justification for is for media companies to embrace it, because it is in their self interest to do so.

It will happen eventually.  But first the damn fools want to try brutalizing all their potential customers.

Even ones like me, who at this point go out of their way not to give them money, because I don't want to enable their vile tactics of suing people and somehow convincing Internet Service Providers to censor the internet.

How the hell did they do that, anyway?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A worthwhile DMCA request

Torrentreak has an interesting piece on an artist who is trying to get unauthorized copies of his music out of the major music stores, including iTunes.

If you've been reading this blog, it should be obvious that this is actually something I can get behind.  Sharing music is okay, making money off someone else's music without authorization is rather obviously wrong to most people.  This is one of those cases that I feel that "it's just wrong" is a legitimate argument.

It also goes to show that the big companies really do not care at all about anyone's rights.

The article is a good read, recommended.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Girltalk justifies me

If you've never heard a brilliant mashup by Girltalk, do yourself a favor and go check one out.

They are a perfect justification of the expansion of fair use.  Culture is always reused, just with differing levels of literalness and honesty.

Unless you only speak your own personal language?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cable set to get less convenient

I'm not too enraged by the news that the  FCC is going to allow cable companies to encrypt basic cable.  At least I think that's what this article says.  It's a bit incoherent.

I mean, cable is a paid service after all, and I don't have a major issue with how they go about doing it.  It is, of course, a step in the wrong direction generally, but this isn't the internet we're talking about but a one-way TV system.  Trying to limit the usage to paid subscribers makes more sense to be when we're talking about a service, as opposed to data itself.

(I find I'm examining the above statement with a jaundiced eye...I'm kinda under the weather today so I might just be babbling incoherently.)

I don't think it's particularly necessary--cable companies have other tools, like a physical freaking cable which they can follow and disconnect or remove--if somebody is stealing cable.  But of course the main reason they want to do this is because they really hate the notion of people not having one of their boxes in their living rooms.

Recently I built a Windows Media Center PC using a Ceton cablecard tuner.  Yes, Windows.  I do loathe Windows, but if you want to use a Centon cablecard tuner, drivers are only available for Windows.  This is basically because the Cablecard cartel (made up of the cable companies) absolutely do not want any sort of open sourcing of their programming.

Cuz, you know, someone might pirate it.  And so because of this, that never happens.



Anyway.  I've been jacking with MythTV, XBMC, Boxee and their ilk for several years now, and I have to say that Windows Media Center is the bomb-diggety.  It is dramatically superior in every way.

Now excuse me while I go drive some nails into my hand or something.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The entertainment industry is thriving

At least according to this random blog, the entertainment industry has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last decade.  Thus, their efforts to bribe Congress to pass corporate sponsored censorship laws is not only immoral because it infringes on the human rights of every American, but is also immoral because it is completely unnecessary--it's just greed.

You know, I understand how people feel when they own things.  You have a proprietary feeling about it.  But...

I was in the grocery store the other day, and I was watching this young woman walking toward me, staring at her phone as she walked.  She was also wearing these like paper shoes or something--no traction whatsoever.  There was a spill of some liquid in the aisle between us.  Before I could figure out how to warn her in some socially acceptable fashion in the crowded supermarket, she slipped and fell into the spill--soaking much of her clothes.

I offered to help her up, but I'll never forget the look of offense on her face.  She didn't even move to get up on her own--she was frozen in shock and anger.  How could this happen to her?  Someone must pay!  She clearly intended to hold the store responsible.

But you know, maybe she should have considered watching where she was going instead of staring at her phone like a damn fool.  It's a simple rule--if you are locomoting, you need to watch where you are going and pay attention to what is going on around you.

Point being, the world doesn't owe you shit.  It is up to you to equip yourself to survive and thrive in the world that you find yourself in.  Trying to change the human rules so that the world serves you may make you feel good, but it doesn't change the laws of physics.  If you expect the grocery store to be responsible for remaining upright, or if you expect Congress to protect your business model, you are only setting yourself up for wet slips.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bittorrent is mob behavior

When we use bittorent to keep a file you don't want made public, public, we are ganging up on you, like a pack mentality.  It is exactly like playing "keep away" with a football.  "Give me my ball!" the nerd pointlessly shouts, and we just keep tossing it each other.

If you've ever been a kid, then you know that the only way to stop it is to cooperate with the bullies.

I like being a bully of Hollywood.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Your email is fair game

A slight detour today as I recharge my creative batteries a bit.  It's relevant in the general "our internets are broken" kind of way.

Long story short, your email is fair game to the government.  Basically, if you leave your email on the server (and most people do, via web mail or IMAP servers), after a set period of time it is no longer considered private, and everybody and their mother can read it all.

Even failing that, most folks don't realize that emails are sent "in the clear"--unencrypted--from server to server on the internet until it reaches its destination.

Good to know, eh?

You may have thought it was a sealed envelope, but it's more like a postcard.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

phoney DMCA takedowns

Nobody should really have an argument that phoney DMCA takedowns are literally censorship.  This story underlines that fact.

Does anyone know of anyone who has ever been prosecuted for it?

Maybe I should try it in an amusing way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bittorrent is useful to content cartles, too.

Just a quick shot today about how useful bittorrent can be if you're trying to, you know, find out what is popular.

Mind you, that can be a bit depressing, as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why robots matter

Marshall Brain has an excellent series of essays on the future of robots in our society.  Well worth a read.

I'm thinking that here in 2012, the idea of robots becoming ubiquitous should start to seem like a realistic possibility even to normal people.

Brain dwells on the effects of robots on employment rates.  I think he makes some valid points.

I tend to dwell on the possibilities for repression.  How would you like a robot following you around and preventing you from doing wrong things?

I trust many of you reading that last statement may scoff, but I also daresay you then thought about it for a minute.  If you don't think it's possible, you're just wrong.

And this is exactly one reason why liberty and freedom are so incredibly important to maintain.  There is never an "end state" where "yay we have achieved freedom!"  This is similar to all other strivings for human improvement.  Nothing is ever complete, nothing is static--everything worthwhile is a constant struggle to achieve and maintain.

The free internet will not guarantee that bad things will not happen in the future.  However, without a free internet they will be impossible to stop.

Monday, October 8, 2012

When are we going to apply the DMCA properly?

One of the biggest problems with the expansion of fair use--or even using the fair use rights we have now--is companies with automated censorship regimes submitting hundreds of thousands of takedown requests without human verification.  Microsoft is only one such company doing this.

In theory, a company or person can be penalized for sending out spurious takedowns.  But to my knowledge, this has never happened even one time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Voting is important

Admittedly, our crusty two party political system tends to be pretty stagnant--as the founding fathers intended, but it's still important to vote, and to be politically active.

Today when I was out for my morning constitutional, I kept noticing other pedestrians who looked like me but speaking Spanish to each other.  Eventually as I got near an office building near my house I saw that it was a Venezuelan polling station.

This really isn't the best picture, but you can kinda see a tent set up on the left and there was a news van there.  But more important is what you don't see, which is the people lined up on the other side of the building, too.  I suspect every Venezuelan in Houston was making a real point of voting today in their momentous election.

I bring this up at all because, after all, the purpose of this blog is to promote a change in the law.  This requires political action, and even before that it requires convincing people.

It's a little bit hard to get people excited about copyright, still.  I predict that is going to change in a hurry once all the major Internet Service Providers start spying on their users so that Hollywood can sue them.  But we haven't gotten there, yet.

Larry Lessig was a copyright crusader but quit to become a clean government crusader.  His feeling--and I agree with him--is that without taking care of our American problem with legalized bribery, effecting real change of any sort is impossible.  I agree, but I also feel that there is lots of convincing to be done, still.

It would be easier if Americans took their governance as seriously as the Venezuelans.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reselling mp3's

If the title of this post seems totally insane to you, then congratulations, you understand digital media better than the people who make it.

ReDigi is a web site that allows people to resell their mp3's.  They are being sued by the content industry for having the temerity to enable people to resell what they have purchased, legally.

Layers upon layers of stupidity and insanity to wade through here, so I'll just have to do my best.

The whole notion of loaning or selling digital media is preposterous.  I have talked about this before.  (Note that a service selling convenient access to it is not, but not one is really serious about that, yet.  The thing itself is without value, however, sorry.)

But let's assume for a moment that it is not.  Would it not be reasonable to then re-sell what you have purchased, as you can do with movie and music discs, books, etc.?  I mean, if we are pretending that digital media is just like regular stuff, this makes sense, right?

But the content industry wants it both ways.  They want to say that you only license the music when you purchase an mp3.  Or something.  It's not very coherent.

If you are one of the millions of people stupid enough (sorry, the truth hurts) to have bought much in the way of digital media, this law suit should be proof enough that you have been screwed.

It should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention the past few years that the entertainment industry simply wants to have it's cake and eat it, too.  Digital media is just exactly like physical objects one minute, and only an ephemerally licensed fantasy when it does not please them for it to be so.  They are stupid greedy liars, and their stupidity is already destroying the American internet.

Internet Service Providers are initiating bandwidth caps nationwide to stop file sharing and competing online services.  There is no real competition for home ISP's, resulting in ever increasing prices (which should be falling over time in a proper competitive environment).  And of course they are in cahoots with the entertainment industry to actually listen in on your phone calls internet use to make sure you're not doing anything wrong.

In the final analysis, they need to be stopped by any means necessary.  Without a free internet, the future is going to be bleak indeed.

Did you know that South Korea has optic fiber internet laid to almost every home?  But here in the country that invented the internet, we are stuck in the 1990's.

The military invented it, geeks brought it to the masses, and we're going to let a piddling industry (which is doing better and better by the way, despite "piracy")  bring it to its knees in this country, destroying our future with it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

An age of madness

We live in an age of madness.  We have always lived in this age--I'm pretty sure one day we're going to look back at this period as one of extreme insanity and danger.  Like monkeys with machine guns, or nuclear weapons.  It's only a matter of time.

I think it's inevitable that we will improve our brains.  Not just through genetic engineering, but through a proper application of what we know about psychology and learning we'll be able to actually educate most children.  And by "educate" I don't mean just basic reading and writing, but actually learning how to think.  Can you imagine a world where most people have adequate critical reasoning skills?  It simply doesn't exist, now.

And yet we have so much power.  If we survive this period intact, it will be a miracle.
For example, this guy has encoded his book in DNA, and has trivially created 70 billion copies of his book in DNA form.

Seventy billion.  That's 70,000,000,000 copies.  And yet, we have people in power who are tempted to strictly enforce the idea that you cannot make even one fucking copy of a movie, song, or book, without being a criminal.

People are not remotely smart enough.  And I don't believe it needs to be that way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A little lesson on DNS

The Domain Name System is a useful tool.

For decades, humans had to live with the inconvenience of remembering phone numbers in order to use telecommunications products.  With the advent of the internet, we thought it would be nice to automate this a bit, so you could just remember a word, like "huge fucking douchebags" in order to visit the site:

And indeed, this is much easier to remember than "".  It also allowed web site administrators host more than one site on a single IP address, by looking at the requested URL and the domain name within it.  Blah blah blah boring technical details.

Ultimately, all it is is a convenient phone book.  Like the contacts list on your smartphone, the names are only bookmarks.

This is why I find it so amusing that the anti-piracy kops are so focused on getting at domain names and their owners.  In the linked article, the RIAA is trying to get a court order to find out who the registered owners of some piracy associated domain names are, with the unstated assumption that they are the "guilty" parties.

As you can see, by this logic, it is the RIAA who own the domain name "", when in fact, it's me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bad copyright infringement

I think it's important sometimes to reiterate that my own position is not that of total freedom of copying.  Many do support that position--and if it's a choice of maximums, I will take total freedom every single time.

But copyright has it's good points--the protection (in theory) afforded to open-source software, for example.  The commercial use of copyrighted material without authorization is another thing that rankles.  And today we hear of a case of, perhaps, abuse of trust in the early release of a Beyonce album.

The Torrentfreak article is not 100% clear if the guy being charged was actually in a position of trust for Beyonce's producers.  For the sake of argument, let's say he was.

Many pro-pirate people like to point out that if you want to keep 100% control of your music, book, or movie, then you have one very simple expedient for doing so--don't release it.

Reaching in and grabbing something that someone does not want released is not okay--that's the bad sort of hacking.  Worse still is being entrusted with something, and violating that trust.  It doesn't matter what that trust is--breaking trust is not a good thing to do.

I think artists and labels have a perfect right to control the initial release of something.  I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be the case.  I don't think they have the right to control the entire internet to have that control.  But they should be able to control their own computers, and the actions of those whom they have trusted with early copies of the information.

If you say you're not going to put it on the internet, and so they give you a copy, and you do it anyway, you are a bit of an ass.

Not a ten-years-in-prison ass.  But certainly a civil lawsuit ass.

The stuff is going to get out there and get pirated rapidly after initial release, anyway.  So I don't think major penalties are in order.  But breach of trust is a serious matter, and some civil penalty should apply.  Prison would be insane.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Japan goes crazy for copyright

Japan has instituted the most draconian copyright law thus far, with penalties including up to two years in prison.

I suppose I should be grateful that the more abusive laws are actually being put into place in far away, benighted places like Japan and France.  This way the world can see how it works in practice without affecting anyone of consequence.

It's particularly interesting to me to see what happens in such a formal, conformist place like Japan.  I wonder if the kids will rebel?  That would be interesting.  But rocking the boat is not exactly a keystone of Japanese culture.

Thus far in France, it appears that most folks are simply using VPN's.

There is no question that the only way to really enforce copyright is for Internet Service Providers to actively (and expensively) monitor all internet connections.

Or, we could allow art to flourish.