Monday, November 18, 2013

The big downside of the "cloud"

The "cloud" is essentially "someone else's computer".  Basically, the positive is that you don't have to install or maintain software or data.  The negative is that all your stuff is on someone else's computer.

When you embed a YouTube link into a facebook post or a web page, you are relying on the cloud (someone else's computer).  It is very convenient for you, and also for censors.

Readers of this blog will recall my special love for Sony, for repeatedly getting my videos on YouTube taken down for supposedly infringing on their copyright--for the use of music I had licensed the same way I had.  Well, recently this effect has been seen with the "Breaking Bad Alternate Ending" video going the rounds.  Here are some examples of this great video embedded in web pages using the cloud:

Boy what fun that is!  The internet is such a useful tool!  And frankly Sony is just stepping on their own damn stupid foot, as the takedown is almost certainly automated.

All to deny people a look at a cool little spoof video that would probably enhance their sales.  Stupid fucking motherfuckers.

Copy shit, don't link.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Amazon irritation

So I wanted to read the new book by one of my favorite authors, who shall remain nameless.

The book was "published" in September in the UK, but not until January in the US. gave me the option to get on the waiting list to get the Kindle version. told me it couldn't sell it to me because it wasn't "published" in my country until January.

So I downloaded the ebook off a random website for free.

Ask me if I feel bad.

Data is not real stuff.  It is incredibly stupid to try to treat it as if it was.

Obviously not okay

Above is a story that is obviously not okay.  Some lady uploaded pics of her kid playing with the family pet.  Another lady copied it and monetized it through Youtube.  Now there's a lawsuit.

I think any normal person would feel that this is not okay.

However, if they'd just copied it for fun?  Really, would you consider that wrong?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is new?

I came across this video on facebook today:

Somebody went to a lot of trouble to make it appear the characters of Sesame Street were jamming out a heavy metal song by Slayer.

Is this copyright infringement?  Should it be?

From the stupid point of view, the video creator is plagiarizing both Slayer and Sesame Street, and obviously should go to jail and be fined a million dollars.

And this is why the old way of copyright needs to go away.  I think any ordinary person can see the value--no matter how trivial or flippant--added by this masterpiece of video editing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's all about free speech

So it's been a while since I rapped at ya...

This blog has always been about free speech.  My thesis is that toleration of piracy is required in order to preserve free speech on the internet.  However, free speech is under attack from many sources.

Recently it's become know that  two people are facing prison time for making chalk protest graffiti.  There is no situation in which this is acceptable.

Similarly, kids are facing terrorism charges for video game and facebook smack talk--even when it is quite obvious they are joking.

Point being, people are fucking stupid, and will censor each other quite naturally if given their head.  Defending free speech is a full time job, that never ends.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What is it you own again?

This isn't a new theme in this space--indeed, I think I've covered all the available themes a few times over.  But when you purchase "digital goods", you don't really "own" anything. 

A recent Slashdot thread got me to thinking about it again.  In it various geeks outline their methods of ensuring that their families and children will be able to access "digital content" they've purchased after they die.  So A) it's depressing and B) it's depressing on a different level.  If you have to set up a password protected SAN share on your home network, and develop and encryption system--what is it you "own" again?

I'm far more enamored with services like Pandora which do not make any pretense of you're "buying" anything.  But everywhere else it's all "buy this, own it today!" which is quite simply a damn lie.

Any money spent to "purchase" digital "goods" is wasted.

Again, I'll pay a few pennies for the service of providing me with an mp3 or movie file.  But that's it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

reselling mp3's (part 2)

So a court has ruled that "reselling mp3's" is copyright infringement.  We talked about this not too long ago here on this blog.  In fact, I just looked over that post and it's pretty much the same rant I was about to make today.  After 250+ posts I've found that indeed, I have run out of arguments.

Suffice to say for now that, once again, data is not stuff.  Trying to treat it like actual stuff will not, cannot, ever work.  At some point, ordinary folks are going to realize they've been taken for a ride, and the thousands of dollars many of spent on electronic stuff was completely, utterly, wasted. 

"Buy it today!" the commercials shriek about the latest movie or pop album.  But when you try to "resell" it, well, you don't "own" it any more.  You were just licensing it.  You didn't know that.  You are going to be pissed.

I still think ReDigi, the company trying to set up an mp3 resale shop, has got to be a bit of a tongue in cheek operation.  They know what they are doing is preposterous, but they are playing along with the content industry's ideas of treating data like stuff. 

The whole idea is ludicrous.  For example, presumably, when you "resell" and mp3 you "bought" you must make sure you delete it from your hard drive,  or you're a dirty thief.  But if "reselling" an mp3 is preposterous, how can the original "sale" be any different?

A friend linked me to this image which discusses how pricing works in the human mind:

I think the whole "buying and selling" of digital data is a thing very much along those lines.  People aren't trained to think about it correctly, and so they are ridiculously easy to fool.

Which is why I'm here :-)  You're welcome! lol.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

HBO preternaturally calm

I read an interesting article today about HBO's Game of Thrones--everyone's favorite piracy topic.

In it, a rep from HBO says they don't send out the "Game of Thrones" police against casual torrenters.  He even seems resigned to piracy and not too disturbed about it.  The article mentions that they focus on people who are actually selling pirated copies, which of course is one of the main theses of this blog.

I don't know how honest they are being, but it's encouraging that they think this is the proper attitude to have publicly.

They also have a quote from one of the creators of the show waxing poetic on what he could do if people could even purchase a copy of a show for a buck, which I personally consider reasonable (if still a bit steep), presuming I can just download the damn thing and play it where I want.  They point out there is no way to do this, and so HBO is just giving up that money.

I'd be more confident about sanity starting to prevail if it wasn't for ACTA and other trade agreements which may undermine any chance for sane laws on copyright.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

hacking is good

It's official, America is technically fucked.

Check out this post on Slashdot:

A researcher did a massive internet scan for default password devices, and actually had the nerve to use them.

Used to be, he would be a hax0r hero.  But look at the slavish posts on Slashdot.  "That's illegal!"  "That's unethical!"  "You're SO going to jail!".

Nobody is talking about the technical implications.  To quote user houghi:

"Postings all go about how this is illegal and not about the technical situation.

It is sad times when people are more worried about the legal thread and ruining their lives and not about the technical implications.

How many people do not dare to bring solutions because they might be punished?"

Indeed.  It's funny.  I'm old enough to remember when it was otherwise.  And I remember seeing the media slowly becoming internet-aware and getting it so wrong....but they persist in being wrong.  And the government persists in being wrong.  And over the years, a younger generation has come up thinking this nonsense is sane and normal.

And we've emasculated them.  They're a bunch of technical pussies and we are fucked.

With that kind of attitude, you can't learn anything. Hey you know what?  When you stick a default-password device on the open net, you're not getting hacked if someone logs in. You fucking invited them to.

Oh my God I assure really is possible to be too nice.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


So it's been along time since I rapped at ya...

I think what it is is that Facebook has been sucking away my "chatter on the internet" daily quota on a regular basis.  That, and after 200+ some-odd essays on the expansion of fair use in copyright, well, I've pretty much run over all the arguments!

Still, I'm keeping my eyes open and I've got a bit of a backlog of stuff I want to talk about.

Today I just want to share an interesting comment section on a blog on my local paper by Dwight Silverman, the excellent technology writer for the Houston Chronicle:

In this case, I'd like to draw your attention to the comments section, actually (sorry Dwight).  The blog post itself is just about Apple and Amazon trying to patent "reselling" of digital goods.  That, in itself, is so recursively contempt-worthy that I can scarcely comprehend it.  But the interesting thing I noticed was the comments--almost no one is defending this preposterous idea.

True, the comments are moderated, but I've seen in the past that Mr. Silverman seems to be pretty even-handed in his moderation.  But this is the first time I've seen such a comment section that wasn't filled with non-techies baffled by any sort of pro-piracy or anti-copyright point of view.

If this is the start of a new trend, it has come much faster than I could have expected.  I jumped in there, of course.  But the only really contemptuously anti-piracy rant came near the very bottom--the usual thing where the poster refuses to look at the big picture, and deigns to explain the current state of the law to all of us.  And it was immediately retaliated against, inadequately it is true, but still that's nice to see.

So maybe normal folks are starting to "get it".  I hope so.

More to come.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Boy, Canada is just begging to be liberated

News today that the IIPA, kinda the global MPAA/RIAA body, is harassing Canada about their new copyright laws.  You can read more detail about it here, but the gist of it is these guys are never going to stop until every country in the world passes laws which guarantee a totally authoritarian internet, where you can be hauled away or sued into oblivion if you download or upload the wrong bits.

Go torrent something "illegal" today, and help save the world.

Be sure to charge for admission, too.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Canada needs to practice critical thinking, too

One characteristic of people that I've noticed over the years is that most folks simply don't even try to see beneath the surface of things.  This is a big mistake, of course, if you really want to understand the world.

For example, when a congresscritter introduces a bill entitled "National Save the Cats Act", you can be quite sure that its main purpose is to eradicate all feline creatures from within the demesnes of the United States.

But you don't call it that.  People like cats.  So you call it something else.

This is what came to mind today when I read about Canada, for the moment, shelving plans to have warrantless internet surveillance of all Canadians.

Interesting that they would want to do this at all.  More interesting was the rationale--child pornography.

So in the United States we have warrantless internet surveillance to protect us from terrorists.  But in Canada it's for kiddie porn.

In China it's for the "good of society".

But what is it really, then?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Injecting into your internet

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging on a daily basis.  I'm not going to kid you--I'm finding it to be a challenge to write about 365 reasons why it's a great idea to expand fair use.  It looks like I started to run out of non-repetitive ammo at only about 200 reasons.  

I'm not going away though, so I hope you'll stick around.  It might just be that I'll post when I think I have something worthwhile to say.  Surely that's not so bad?  But this does count as a fanaticism-fail, so I apologize.  

Today I'm going to talk about injection.  Specifically, your ISP injecting--or removing--things from your internet feed.

First, Cox Cable decided it would be a good idea to inject HTML into your HTML stream to let you know when there is a service outage.  What this means is you are surfing the web, and suddenly you get a popup on whatever web page you're looking at that announces a service outage or whatever.

I spend a lot of time in this space talking about the integrity of information, and the need for integrity in our internet communications (in the sense of not being censored, not candor..although that's good, too).  At first this sounds quite innocuous.  But we know better, don't we?  When I type in the URL to a web page, I expect to have an unaltered communication session with the owner of the server that runs that website.  If my ISP starts injecting stuff in there, I am no longer getting an unfettered and unfiltered internet connection.

Using such technology, an ISP could, for example, make all the text in your browser a different color.   Or alter images and replace them with advertisements.

Slippery slope, that's all I'm saying.

And that dovetails nicely with the report of a French ISP blocking advertisements by default.  Again, sounds fabulous.  Indeed, most malware is served via advertisements, these days.

But it's not what you paid for.  What are they going to block next?

Not to mention, I've already run into a couple sites where all the actual content is served from an ad server--so no ads, no content.  It's another arms race on the internet....

Now, an option to block ads, I think that would be great.

The integrity of our communications must not be threatened, whether it's injection, blocking, or shaping torrent traffic.  Or we're just like China.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Patenting sucking

Amazon has apparently patented the artificial scarcity of digital goods.  Very nice.

So instead of allowing computers and the internet to make information as freely available as possible, we need to go out of our way to limit that potential.

I've gone on and on about this in this space before.  Maybe it's a defensive patent?  I don't know.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mega money mega problems

If you haven't yet seen the footage of the Kim Dotcom copyright raid treat yourself to the beginning of this video.  And keep saying to yourself "this is about copyright infringement, this is about copyright infringement" over and over.

Bizarre.  I'm surprised they didn't just send a Tomohawk missile to blow up his house.

Kim is a huge douche, but you have to admit it takes some balls to continue on with your piracy-supporting ways after having your house raided by SWAT style teams.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Owning vs. renting

A consumer organization in Germany is suing Valve software over the right of resell of digital products.  The issue is that customers who "buy" games via Valve's Steam online service do not have the capability to resell the games they own.

On the one hand, my own argument is that digits are not real and it generally makes little sense to consider them property, per se.  On the other hand, people paid good money to "own" the games according to Valve's own fiction, but then the are denied commonly agreed-on rights of resell.

What to do, what to do.  I did like one Slashdot commenter's (sjones) barb:

"In the west, Communism is decried in part because it doesn't respect the concept of personal property. None of 'your' stuff is owned by you. So why, given that, should we accept for even one second a culture where we only rent and license things from corporate owners? We can't even be said to own the license since there are so many ways a 'permanent' license can just evaporate."

Hahaha.  Love it.  We're going to have to work with that concept some more.

Corporate Communism forever!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Facebook can be depressing

So I've finally been dragged kicking and screaming on to Facebook (thereby rendering it instantly uncool, by the way), and one thing that strikes me is that it is not only a fairly powerful positive force, but also a negative one.

In particular, it enables people with shared views to communicate.  This is useful but also poisonous.

Much as been said of the "echo chamber" of modern political discourse, where people of similar views echo each other's sentiments, reinforcing them, and without letting in dissenting points of view.  What this does in the human brain is generate an idea of "certainty".  And certainty is generally a Bad Thing when it comes to discussing the major problems of the world.

The fact is, shit is complex.  World views that refuse to acknowledge that are doomed to fail...painfully, as history has shown time and again.

So modern technology in the form of Facebook allows this process to happen 24/7.  And the irony is, those people who most need to listen to other points of view, in order to partially correct their distorted view of reality, are the ones who go out of their way to shut out dissenting voices.  All you have to do is click off "Show in my Feed" and you never have to look at it again.

Facebook should remove this feature.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, try adding fines

So in France now they've had a "three strikes" type rule for a few years now.  Apparently it isn't working, so the music industry wants to change the law so that internet users will actually pay fines.

So let me get this straight.

You manage to subvert the government to the point that they introduce regulations for how all people in the country are allowed to use the internet--and it doesn't work.

So you want to change the law again so that you can actually fine internet users you don't like.

My question is--at what point will governments finally realize that these guys really have no fucking idea what they are doing?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Apparently we're going to invade Antigua, next

Torrentfreak reports that Antigua is moving ahead with its plans to officially dis-respect U.S. copyright laws and allow the setup of straightup pirate sites on its territory.

Kinda interesting, eh?

Turns out it is basically in retaliation for the U.S. using its leverage to destroy the Antiguan online gambling industry.  But still, I don't care.

The reason we're seeing a nasty multi national treaty being bulldozed through national governments everywhere is that because of the internet, if you want to create "intellectual property" you need to get every country everywhere to go along with it.  Which is hard and stupid, but they're going to try to do it anyway.

Nice to see Antigua shine a bright light on that little fact.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Porn biz as a model

Almost every time I discuss the dramatic expansion of fair use to encompass all non-commercial use with someone who is a skeptic, I always get the same argument: "How are people supposed to make a living creating content for us if we just 'steal' it by downloading it?".

If you've been reading this blog for long for some reason,  you'll know that I take "offense" to about six different assumptions in that question.

1. It is a given that we all need to be concerned about how people can make a living creating art.
2. Copyright infringement is stealing.
3. Creators have some intrinsic right to total control over what is done with their creation.

Okay three things.  Now, I am concerned about numbers 1 and 3.  But I do not feel an obligation to be concerned.  This is my inner Ayn Rand speaking, and I think I'm right.

Nobody owes anybody else a living.

I personally feel that we should be concerned about that, and even that government should do something about it, sometimes, which makes me a liberal.  But I don't feel that we have to, which makes me a Tea Partier.

People just don't like change, and they resist seeing things in any way that they haven't always seen them, it seems.

I often tell people about my game, and how much I've put into it, and how badly I want people to please pirate it.  The idea being that I've got some skin in the game.  But generally it falls on deaf ears, appalled at my arrogance and apparent sense of entitlement.  They can't get past that.


Well, it's already being done.  Never mind the ad-laden nightmare that YouTube has become, where free streaming is apparently working.  Let's look at porn, right now, together.

High quality pornography is available, today, for free, in infinite quantity, on the internet.  And they aren't going under.

Let me assure you--hosting a streaming movie service is not a trivial technical or financial task.  I am a web hosting type of guy--a unix geek.  It's expensive, time consuming, and resource intensive.

And yet they're giving it all away!  For free!

With one glaring exception, you don't see pornographers running around suing people.  They just get busy...making money.  Giving away porn for free on the internet.

So it can be done.

I want to join the militia

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

It's pretty clear that the purpose is to have a well regulated militia. So why don't we do that any more (it used to be common that every able bodied man was in the militia).

Maybe we should. I'm thinking light duty for fat old men like me---meet up a couple times a year and show you can hit the side of a barn, control your shit, and can follow simple instructions. If you can't do that, you probably should not own a firearm, anyway. But the addition of basic discipline might go a long way toward preventing many tragedies caused by careless and ignorant gun owners.

Besides, what red blooded Texan wouldn't want to do weekend "maneuvers" with the State of Texas militia a couple Saturdays a year? A few beers afterwards...
Note I'm talking about the militia, not a militia--big difference!

Friday, January 25, 2013

harassing people

So I've gotten on Facebook, finally.  Sigh.  Feel free to join me there:

The number one reason I did this is to promote my upcoming Kickstarter project.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

But since I'm on there, I decided to enjoy myself, naturally.  Trying to figure it out.

I am finding that people really don't want to engage on the issues of the day.  They are far more interested in fun stuff.

I understand.  I really do.  But it is a bit depressing to spend so much time blogging about the expansion of fair use in copyright and other important issues to the world and be met with...blank, disinterested stares.

I know, I know, most folks are just trying to get by, and really they want distractions from the problems of their lives and the world.  They want someone else to take care of it all.

Still...kinda annoying.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aaron Swartz and illegal data

I'd like to talk today a little more about the Aaron Swartz case.

This brilliant young man--who was a professional academic--was accused of the misuse of data.  For that he faced a 30 year prison term.

One of my main theses on this blog is the notion that it is insane to persecute people for crimes against data.

I'm not saying it is never ever a problem when people misuse data.  The famous example of child pornography is one.  That is a bad use of data, and should be prosecuted.

But the problem comes when we define data crime so broadly that anyone can be indicted, and an academic seeking to promote the free use of public information can be attacked in this way.

The prosecutor is not the only ass, here.  The law is also an ass.

Much of this is because the laws are horribly outdated.  But I'm not even at all sure I would want the current Congress to attempt to fix it, because they would likely only make the problem much worse.  They are both incompetent and corrupt.

The problem really is the system.  It has not worked for the people for a long, long time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Uphill battles

I was reading this piece about Johnny Cash's efforts to spur prison reform.  Today, the United States imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world--Land of the Free, indeed.  And it hasn't really changed much.

Sure, the worst abuses may have been mitigated, but we still view prison more as a punishment than a chance to reform, and we still turn minor criminals into career ones by allowing prison to be a college for criminals.

So what chance does copyright reform have?

It's an uphill battle, but I still believe the laws of physics will bear us out in the end.  You cannot stop filesharing.  You should not try, because it will only make things worse.  In the end, I believe even Hollywood will come to understand it, if they can stop taking cocaine long enough.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And lies don't help either

Just to rub it in a bit further, lies have become an all too important part of our national (and world-wide) discourse.  For example, Microsoft announced they made a study that showed the city of Munich didn't save any money by switching to Linux...but they won't release it.

Personally, I blame the internet.  I mean, why not?  But it's true, I think, that the internet--while giving all people a theoretically equal voice--has also allowed lies to be spread more easily.

This way, a company or an organization can spout nonsense like "Munich would have saved more money if they had paid us more money" or "piracy costs the entertainment industry $1 trillion dollars a year", and then later backtrack--but the meme is still out there.  Most people just aren't very critical thinkers or readers, and the lies still spread over the water cooler.

Too many laws

One of the main problems with the current copyright regime is our legal system itself.  Wealthy individuals and corporations have an outsize advantage over normal people, who effectively have no recourse except to beg a lawyer to do work for the for free.  Sure hope it's a good one.

This little comic, even though it slants right a bit, I do think covers the problem we have pretty well:

Just thought I'd share that.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Legalized corruption in government

I understand why Lawrence Lessig decided to quit championing changes to copyright laws and such per se, and decided to become more focused on good government in general.

It's kind of an aside, but this Slashdot article really got me to thinking just from it's intro:

""Broadcasting Cable reports on comments from Former FCC chairman Michael Powell (now president of the U.S. cable industry's trade association) confirming what many have long suspected: data caps on internet service aren't just about network congestion, ..."

It's simply all too common for regulators to "retire" from government and take a job directly in the industry they were previously regulating.  We are supposed to believe that there was no quid pro quo, no understanding, and no motivation for these individuals to bias their decisions toward an industry while they are in office.

But they are all corrupt liars.  And it's legal.  That must change.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Aaron's Law

In a slight resumption of sanity, a Harvard law professor is proposing Aaron's Law, which would repeal parts of the Computer Fraud law.

Really, 30 years for downloading data is a bit steep, don't you think?  No wonder he killed himself.

Prosecutors have announced that they  offered him a plea bargain with only a few months in prison.  Big fucking deal.  That's what they do--offer you a plea so that they look successful but you become labeled as a felon for life.

Aaron Swartz's motivations were among the best.  And just like many file sharers, he was attacked by our government with extreme viciousness, all out of proportion to the crime.

I'm not interested in  fucking U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz's excuses.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We are really good at making lists

Here you can read Michael Geist reveal how Canadian authorities actually colluded with the U.S.A. to get Canada included on a list of countries who are not playing nice with the U.S.'s idea of "intellectual property" rights.

We like making lists.

We make lists of terrorist states, narco states, bad people of all kinds.

Interestingly, Canada has us on their list of countries that torture.

Which should we be more concerned about?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guns and copyright

I think it's informative to look to the current gun debate to understand the nature of discourse in our society.  And when I say "debate" of course, I mean "argument".  We don't really debate things in this country any more.

I ran across this image which I think summarizes an ultimate position of gun rights "advocates":

Pretty brutal.  Also, true, if you are an extreme gun rights "advocate".  I put quotes around "advocate" because I don't think people uttering dark threats are advocates.  But anyway.

If you believe that no changes are required in our gun laws, then you are, by definition, advocating the occasional slaughter of large numbers of children.  I'm not saying that from an incendiary standpoint--it's just a fact.  You are saying there is no change required, nothing is wrong with our current system

You may even be right.

I don't personally think so, but it's a logical position to take.  After all, if you really believe the government may start herding people into cattle cars--which has happened, after all--it is a rational position to take.

Personally, I don't think guns are going to really help you, there.  But what I'm saying is that people should take honest positions on important issues.

It is a similar (though less emotional) situation with copyright.  If you fundamentally believe that creators have some sort of natural right to control what is done with their work, then you are ipso facto advocating an internet censorship regime to control this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is not fair use

Just thought I'd offer up an example of not fair use.  Check out this article:

And then this one:

You'll notice that the second is credited to Maria Sudekum, Associated Press.  And the first credited to no one.  Wanna take a bet on which one is the unauthorized copy?

It just goes to show that there is real value in provenance.  There is value in content beyond what someone will pay for or what you can get for ads on it.  Who is going to trust a site that plagiarizes people?  No one.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The hydra of the internet

Finally, a study shows that censorship simply doesn't work.  Not that this is a shock to anyone who understands the network.

Shouldn't it be a clue to you if you are trying to fight the internet?  And God help you if you ever should really try to do that.

It does have a chilling effect on free speech, however.  And that's not good.

It is interesting how the same tools are used to pirate stuff safely as are used to get around censorship regimes like the Great Firewall of China.

Think about it.

A bittorrent box

A bittorrent box has hit the market.  It is perfectly legal.

However, it is the first time that I know of of a box dedicated to bittorrent.  You plug it into your tv, choose something to download, wait, and watch.  Very convenient.

Obviously, some streaming video players have supported bittorrent before (like my WDTV) but the beauty of this is that it is a) legal (there are plenty of legal things to torrent) and b) people may not even realize they are "pirating".  So yes, you can indeed infringe copyright with it, but you don't have to.

One of my main themes is the whole ridiculous notion of "good bits" and "bad bits".   With so many trojans and botnets out there, I think it's nonsense to hold people responsible for all the bits that their computer accesses on the internet, anyway.

I do think there are situations that merit that level of scrutiny, but they should be few and far between.  So anything that popularizes torrenting and abstracts it from the user is a good thing, to my mind.

And so it begins...

Sorry, I'm falling behind a bit...I promise I'll catch up!

Norway is the latest country to consider site blocking measures to stop copyright infringement.  One of my main theses is that copyright is being used as an excuse to set up censorship regimes.  And that is not remotely a good enough reason to set up a censorship regime.

What is a good enough reason?  Well, at least make it kiddie porn or something.  It's so offensive to have it happen to protect the entertainment industry.

And if that wasn't offensive enough, it can't even work.  Things like Freenet are not liable to any sort of taking anything down or blocking, as they are distributed, encrypted regimes in themselves.  Freenet was created specifically to counter all censorship attempts, with the predictable result that it is indeed a haven for illegal activity--and freedom.

Confiscating domains won't work.  Ordering ISP's to block websites can't work.  All we're doing is making it easier for the governments of the future to silence their critics, with everything that goes along with that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Zen and copyright

I watched the Dude on Jon Stewart's show the other night, and he's really into Zen Buddhism.  One like I liked was "we're all in this together".

It reminded me to try and remember this.  I hate to sound like a Facebook post but it's true.  But it's a little hard when the people who are working so hard to destroy good things do not get this.

The idea, to my mind, is to think of them as wayward children, as opposed to mouth breathing misanthropes.  It is very easy to think of them as worthless individuals, and indeed, many of them are.  Just the same, these are the people we were meant to deal with.

So deal with them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pirate Bay immortalized

It's interesting that one of the original Pirate Bay servers is in a museum in Sweden, the same country that has been persecuting the founders on our behalf for the last several years (and of course it's homeland).

Pretty boring to look at, though.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Aereo actually expanding

So back to the exact theme of expanding fair use!

I pondered the implications of Aereo before.  Today I was surprised to see that they are actually expanding their service--even while under legal threat.  Pretty impressive, but then again they have major backing in Barry Diller, who is no stranger to the entertainment industry.

What Aereo does is capture free, over the air HD television broadcasts and stream them over the internet.  They charge for this service.

In my earlier piece I contemplated at length the significance of broadcasting your entertainments over the air waves, where literally anyone can intercept it and view it.  That being the whole point.  I felt (and still feel) that there are certain natural rights to what people can do with these radio waves.

The dodge Aereo uses is that they assign each customer their own antenna.  So it's as if you are streaming over the internet from your very own TV.  The very definition of fair use, in my opinion.  The fact that they rent it to you is irrelevant, and just goes to show how preposterous the whole situation is.

The significant thing here, I think, is that because there is real money backing the enterprise, they are getting away with it.  Another example of how you only get your rights in this country if you have a lot of money.

I am glad to see Diller sticking it to the man, but then again he is one of the men.

Good luck, just the same.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

it just is!

I had my usual argument with anti-piracy friends the other day.  It sucked.  I've written literally 200+ blog entries, each with a unique and special argument essentially in favor of piracy, but I hadn't slept right for a couple days and I just kept coming up with butkus.  Blank.  And everything I said was lame and easily refuted.

It happens.  I know better than to be too hard on myself.

But it was a good chance to get reacquainted with the most devastating argument against piracy of all:

"It's just wrong.  It just is."

Not much you can say to that.  When someone says something like this, it is a signal that rational thought has ceased--thinking is not happening.

I'm not even saying that's necessarily always a bad thing.  Shooting up a classroom full of children is wrong.  It just is.  This is an acceptable argument for something like that.  It's the difference between morality and ethics.

Morality is all about how something feels.  Somebody grows up with a system where artists are compensated a certain way, and if someone breaks the system, it seems wrong.  Murdering children, also wrong, for the same reason.  I could come up with an ethical (logical) argument for why shooting up classrooms is wrong, but I don't feel it's necessary.

And this is a problem we often face.  Some folks (most?) go around making moral judgments without too much thought, and, importantly, are not inclined to question it.

And so this is why changing public opinion takes time.  I don't judge my friend harshly for his opinion--I know he's a good guy and means well and is even reasonably intellectually honest.  But I can't argue with "uh-uh".

Monday, January 7, 2013

Over-response of the police

One thing that disturbs me lately is how the police seem to think that they need to use paramilitary tactics...all the time.  This Wired story about a guy who wrote software for a gambling site--and how is house got raided commando style is one example.  They did the same, of course, to Kim Dotcom in New freaking Zealand.

Why not just nab the guy when he goes out for cigarettes?  And then search the house with a warrant?  Why is that not the preferred alternative?

Oh yeah, I forgot, it's not as fun.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What is the European plan?

I can't get over how Europe seems determined to utterly destroy itself.  They've got their own movement going on to fight back against mass foreclosures by banks who are taking lots of money from the government, but yet no clear leadership that is going to help them get out of a 25% unemployment hole.

How are Spain and Greece in particular going to improve their situations while cutting government spending so dramatically?  All this to save the fools who invested in Greek bonds while knowing how overextended they were.  Makes no sense at all to me.

Oh wait--it's entrenched power being self serving to a disgusting extent.  Business as usual everywhere.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Who would use copyright as an excuse for censorship?

Who would use copyright as an excuse for censorship?  Oh, you know...everybody.

As an aside on this article about a Brazilian teenager auctioning off her virginity, the article mentions that the YouTube video was removed dude to "due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement".

So...someone already copyrighted her video to auction off her virginity?  Dirty pirate!

Obviously, someone was offended--and used copyright to censor her video.

And that is why letting people pull stuff off the internet due to copyright is bad.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who are the unemployed

I had a lovely chat with Comcast over the last couple days via online chat--because there was no getting through on the phone.  The customer service person I talked to was very good at typing the stuff they are required to tell all customers--"Did I tell you about our Comcast Service Gaurantee?" etc.  But when they couldn't figure out what to do for me they told me to call the phone line because whatever whatever.

Naturally, I just started a new online chat session and the next random person was able to help me out, in between spewing marketing nonsense from Comcast.

And I thought to myself--these people are employed.  The person who is completely without any resourcefullness on the other end of the chat--the douchebag "manager" who decided that customer service reps should spew certain specific nonsense at least once a minute at me--all of them.  Employed.

Who the fuck are the unemployed?  I'm not talking about everyone, don't get me wrong.  I'm talking about people who haven't been able to get a job at Taco Bell for at least six months.  Are they able to tie their shoes in the morning?  How do they feed themselves?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Curt Schilling .38 Studios story hurts me

I was a big fan of Curt Schilling as a baseball player after the 2004 baseball season, when he pitched with a safety pin holding a tendon in place on the mound.  Great grit and determination.  Which is something I understand.

Unfortunately, he decided to get involved in something that looks easy, but is not--namely, making video games.  As you may know from reading this, I spent about $60k of my own money and some years of my life making my own video game, which, while a bit rough--EXISTS.  I just wish I could market it....

See, this is the key thing people don't understand about software development.  Finishing.  Either you can finish a software project, or you can't.  Most people can't.  Most software companies can't.  And video games are some of the most difficult, challenging software projects you can do.

It looks like fun, and it is fun to play, but it takes an unbelievable amount of work, skill and management capability to make it happen.  The fact of the matter is that most software companies suck.  Either they are run by salesmen (or baseball players) who simply have no understanding of what they have taken on, or they are run by programmers who are convinced they know everything--when they don't.  There is a very small subset of people in this world who can manage a programming project with competence.

And indeed--if you can't manage yourself, how can you possibly expect to manage a team?

They key is finishing.  At every step along the way you have to be asking yourself, "is what I'm doing right now going to help lead directly to finishing the project."  And when you have a team, that applies to every member.

Not to mention that you need to have a fairly deep understanding of the technology involved.  It ain't point and click, by a long ways.

Curt, what would you say if I showed up at the Red Sox training camp to try out, when I'm overweight, 41, and never played organized baseball?  Good Lord, dude.

But I'll be the first to concede that one of my great motivators was all the people telling me that I was quite mad taking on a full featured multiplayer first person shooter on my own, that it couldn't be done.

Well, go play it mother fucker.

Just good luck finding someone to play with, since nobody knows about it! lol oh the pain...what I could have done with that $50 million.  We'd have 50 games, Curt!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie theater subscriptions?

This Slashdot post was mildly interesting--somebody wants to try to make a subscription based movie theater.

Problem is--according to the comments--that Hollywood has a very rigid business model that basically doesn't allow for this.  So the people who are trying to do it can't get very creative with their business plans.

This is the problem with all industries, I believe, where the founders of the industry are long dead.  The business models are all "worked out" and the people running the show are all inheritors, as opposed to innovators.

And those kind of people lash out when their business model is threatened, which I suppose is natural.  The important thing for the rest of us is to restrain them when they are hurting the rest of us by doing so.  Which is usually.