Attn: Gordon: Your "Electronics for Dummies"

Gordon McComb wrote:


I disagree, strongly, in fact. One of the base concepts of Copyright, current RIAA and MPAA efforts aside, is that copying is done "not for profit" and as precedent and I believe codified as law, that it does not diminish the value of the work.
If I am unlikely to ever by a particular work and I do not attempt to resell anything, the copyright owner loses nothing by my use of the copyrighted work.
The analogy is based on news paper. If I fish a newspaper out of the trash, I have deprived no one of that newspaper. I can read the newspaper. The copyright owner of the content has not been compensated by my use. I came across the work under "fair use." I have every right to use it.
An even better analogy, for software. If I get a copy of software, who cares what. It isn't something I would ever buy, but if someone gives me a copy, I should be able to use it as long as: I do not profit from it and my use of it does not diminish the value of the work.
That's how we lived in the 80s it was a better way to live. This DMCA ridden IP crazy world is the death of freedom of expression.

These days I use Linux and GPL software, it is just safer.

In the case of the guy posting your book on usenet, that is a clear violation because it can be argued that it diminishes the value of your work, and that's wrong.
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mlw wrote:

When works were difficult to copy, or the copies were inferior, this made some sense. It didn't pay much to go after casual copying, because it was a thin minority of the business. Digital copying changes that. Multiply the incidences of the copies by the ease with which they can be made, and a work could easily be distributed far wider without pay than with it. Tell me how this doesn't "diminish the value" the work. In copyright (not trademark) the value is the total sales.

Poor analogy. The cost of the newspaper pays for the printing of that copy. Newspapers make money on the ads, which you are exposed to the same as the original purchaser. Magazines and newspapers encourage such re-reading.

Lame. If you don't value it enough to buy it, why are you using it? If you're using it and the person who wrote it expected to be paid, then you're talking something and giving back nothing. That's called stealing. There is enough good software openly given away that there is ASBOLUTELY NO reason to make these kinds of excuses.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

I think that the copyright business is an accident of technology. I have been thinking about this for close to a decade. We saw the first rumblings of this when cassette tapes made copying music easy. Then VCRs, then DAT tapes, now everything.
It is human nature to take copies of things. It has only been with technology that "copies" and copying has been a viable business. Now, technology has taken that away. The value of the work has been diminished by progress, the very progress, which at an earlier time, created the value in the first place.
I'm not saying I have the answer, I'm just pointing out the facts. Fortifying business models with laws is also very bad. I read about a case in Chicago where a publically displayed sculpture could not be photographed because it violated the artists "intellectual property."
The copyright and IP craze is a bad thing for the US and the arts.
Getting artists and writers paid, is, of course, important, but laws that feed powerful corporations and harm the rights of individuals is not the answer.

Already agreed.

Time was, we were all able to share our property. I could lend my lawn mower to fred next door. When I wasn't using it, Fred could. OK, say I have 5 other friends, we set a schedule, Monday through sunday, each gets to use the mower. Is that wrong?
Now, the software in question, suppose it is backup software, again, I share it with 6 friends, we each get a night on which we run a backup. Is it now wrong to share?
Now, think about music, I have a CD, I rip my CD to the hard disk. I have a computer connected to my stereo in my living room. (Its true) and I rip all my music with high quality. I have almost 5000 songs on my hard disk. I don't listen to my music every day. In fact, probably only once a month. What if I share my music with my friends. There is NO chance any two of use would be playing the same songs at the same time. Is that wrong?
It is a slippery slope, and a very bad one for society. It is being driven by powerful corporations and they are harming our rights daily.
I understand and I sympathize with the plight of the authors and artists, as I have also suffered loss of income, but the big picture is a VERY BIG picture and we should not lose sight of it.
The problem is not how to ENFORCE copyright with draconian laws, but how to get the creators compensated, these are two very different things.
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mlw wrote:

Sorry. Fair use includes copying part of a work under certain circumstanses, but not the whole of a work. This includes non-profit uses.

If it isn't worth it to buy it, thenb it isn't right to use it.
For example, if I have a house that nobody is living in, you cannot live in it without coming to some arrangement with me.

*Sombody* bought the newspaper. At some point this person got tired of it and left it in the trash. In some places you cannot take it even then because the trash belongs to the municipality (yes, it does seem silly).
And "fair use" doesn't come into it if you read the newspaper or even resell it. At this point it's your newspaper.

If you use software that you have not paid for then you are gaining some value that you are not passing back to the copyright owner.
It doesn't matter if you downloaded a copy of the work or somebody gave you a copy.

The DMCA is crazy, but this *isn't* the way *I* lived in the 80s.

Yes. And there are special rules that govern GPL software. You are allowed to sell it, but you must give the source away.

Yes. However it doesn't matter to me if your use of my work actually diminishes the value of the work. If the work isn't paid for, I don't want you using it. -- D. Jay Newman Author of _Linux Robotics_
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D. Jay Newman wrote:

Actually, there are four tests for fair use, that is only one of them, they are:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Not all of these tests have to be satisfied as far as I know.

I'm pretty sure no one who uses a computer deeply believes this. They may think they believe it, but unless you are a rarity you have programs you have copied.
I know this isn't copyright, but did you send unisys money to use the GIF decoder? Are you going to send Forgent Networks money to use your JPEG software?

That is fundamentally different, and you should know that. Merely using a house creates wear and diminishes the value.
However, if I stayed there, and you never, ever knew, and I left nothing broken or worn, would it really make a difference?

OK, I accept that.

I think there is a cultural "IP" brainwashing going on that people need to really sit back and think about. We *really* need to think about what "property" is.
Think carefully about libraries, the property is the paper on which the work is published. The library allows anyone to borrow the book. Surely that is a violation of your "use without compensation" ideals.
Now, lets go back to the copy of the software. In the 1980s it was PERFECTLY legal to use a single copy of software as long as only a single copy of it was used at any particular time.
In my previous example, what if I added the criterion that I would only use that copy when the original copyright owner (or anyone else who had a copy) was using it. Would it be legal then? An example may be a backup program. One person buys, 7 people use, one on each day. Is that legal? It used to be!

Maybe *you* didn't, but everyone I knew in business and the universities did. Everyone had "Copy II PC."

Actually, people argue this all the time. You can't "sell" the software. "Selling" software implies a new license of some sort or transfer of ownership rights. You can not take someone's GPL code and sell it. You are allowed to charge for the service of copying and distribution. Also You don't have to give the source away if you make no modifications. You are only required to make your changes public.

The question is the definition of "property." Granted, software and recorded music seem different from printed word, but never the less we live with copyright.
Copyright is based on the notion that once something is made public, it ceases to be the exclusive property of another. Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"It would be curious...if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, received instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."
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mlw wrote:

I may be wrong, but I think that in practice *all* of the tests must be considered.
Notice that test #1 specifically states "nonprofit educational purposes" rather than just "nonprofit purposes".
This would not need to be included if it was not meant to be considered together with the other rules.
And I believe that "educational purposes" are legally for the purpose of teaching others, not yourself.
I am not a lawyer. As a writer I am starting to look into copyright law.

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't believe this. The only applications on my computer are legally obtained. I do *not* illegally copy software (or anything else if possible).
I have no illegal software on any of the computers in my house to my knowledge. Neither my wife nor I would use such software anyway.

Actually both of these entities have agreed that the decoders are fine. Only the software that make such images costs money. And I have paid for such things indirectly by buying commercial graphics programs.

>

I might not know if a single book from my library was stolen, but it would still be theft.
Even if, as a squatter, you added value to the house (by keeping the garden flowering and repainting and such), you would still be there illegally.

No, the library has legally obtained that book. This would be like loaning a book of your's to a friend. While I have the book checked out of the library, nobody else can read it.

For some software, yes. It was accepted practice regardless of the legality for personal software. Professional software was different.

I believe that this is like lending a book. I believe that legally (unless the EUL says differently) that the origianl owner must uninstall his copy before lending to his friend, who must install it.

So everybody you knew was probably violating the law? Once clue is that if you had to use special software to copy an program, it probably is against the copyright agreement.

This is a very old argument. You *are* allowed to sell any GPL'ed software as long as you adhere to the GPL. As of my last reading, you either had to make the source available or point to where the source was.
I can sell gcc. It would be silly of somebody to buy it, but the sale would (as of my last reading of the GPL) be fully legal. Of course, my customer could then sell lots more copies, all in the name of the GPL.

Actually copyright has to do with published works and not ideas. Earl Stanley Gardener wrote some great lawyer/detective stories; this doesn't prevent anybody else from using his ideas to write stoires of their own. They just can't take his words or make a derivative work (say by writing new Perry Mason stories without the current copyright owner's permisson).

This only talks about ideas, not their implementation. -- D. Jay Newman Author of _Linux Robotics_ http://enerd.ws/robots /
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D. Jay Newman wrote:

Yes, "considered."

"educational" is a very slippery word, there is no institutional requirement that I am aware of.

Why? People have the right to teach themselves.

I have had to study a *lot* of IP crap the last few years. In much of this discussion, I am playing devil's advocate, but I am *very* concerned about intellectual property law running crazy.

Then I applaud you! I don't know anyone else that doesn't have an unregistered copy of WinZip or something on their machine.

Again, good for you, you lead an honest life. Did you ever see "Dogma?" Loki won't kill you.

Assuming, of course, that you don't have devices or programs purchased before the JPEG patent was announced or were produced without paying royalties. Have you actually verified that you are in compliance? It is probably impossible to know for sure.

You would know because it wasn't there.

Yes, yes, "illegally," sure, everyone breaks the law every day doing something: littering, speeding, saying curse words in public, eating peanuts in church, or thousands of other "important" laws. It is impossible in the U.S.A. to go 24 hours and NOT break the law in some way. Some things are more illegal than others. Typically, though not always, the important measure is "harm" in the choice of enforcement.

That's because of the physical property of matter having to be in only one place at a time. That is an artifact of an old process of using chemicals to stain dead trees. Sooner or later, human kind will abandon such antiquated practices.
Then what? When there is no more physical media to regulate usership. The IP movement in this country sees this inevitable change as a gold rush!!! What happens when you have a book and you can't re-read it or loan it or sell it? What of "fair use" then?

Why? Why is that allowed? Is it property or not? If it is property, I should have the right to do with it as I please, if it is not property, then it is governed by a set of rules that attempt to mimic property, and in a democracy those rules are subject to the people.

Why does a software published have the RIGHT to define, beyond copyright and "fair use" what I can do with something I purchased?

Think about "copyright agreement" in the sense of property. If I buy a book shelf, do I not have the right to first sale? Do I not have the right to do with it as I please? Can I not lend it to whom ever I want? Why is media or software treated differently? Why is a bookshelf different from the book?
These are serious questions that very large companies are working hard to answer, and not in yours or my best interest.

This is a semantic argument, but I've been having these discussions for well over a decade now and this is based on long standing legal advice.
When you sell software, you are assigning or conveying a license to someone else for compensation. Unless you are the author, you have no right to do any such thing. GPL software is available to anyone who abides by the GPL and the GPL states that you are not legally permitted to re-license the software.
You have every right to sell the CD on which the software is recorded. You have every right to copyright an aggregation of GPL packages. You have every right to sell the boxes in which your CD with your copyrighted aggregation is transferred.
You do not, however, have the right to sell GPL software of which you are not the author because you don't own it.
Practically speaking, there is very little differences in our position. I may sell a CD of gimp, debian, firefox, and other packages as "MLW's Backoffice Powerpack" for $199 at retail outlets, but I am selling the package and my work in creating it, but it can not be said that I am selling the software I did not write because it is not mine.
Technically speaking, the positions are hugely different.

What is or is not protected by copyright is a crap shoot these days. It is a dangerous world right now if you are in the "creation" business.

For copyright, it is "expression," not implementation.
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mlw wrote:

I don't have any "copied" software either. And who needs WinZip when XP comes with a folder zipping function?

You can sell, loan, or burn your books. No one will stop you. You just can't make copies of your books and give them away to other people. WHY this is such a hard concept for some people I do not know. Except in narrow circumstances, only the copyright holder has the right to make copies. "Copy" and "right"...hmmmmmm.
There is one notable exception to the notion of being able to do whatever you want with a book. Now that the US recognizes the Berne Convention, authors maintain a moral copyright in addition to a legal copyright. It means you cannot sully the work of an author in a revised edition (exceptions: clearly recognizable satire, etc.), remove the author's name from the work, add your name to the work, or do anything else that reduces the right of the artist to be identified with the original work. The concept of moral copyright is not new, though it's relatively new to the US. It goes back to the mid 19th century.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, but everyone I know personally has something. I'm very much surprised.

The context of my paragraph was about software, oddly enough, I was poetic about the "bookshelf" and the "book," oh well, just confusing I guess.
But, my friend, what happens when a book is no longer made from dead trees?

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mlw wrote:

From a legal or moral standpoint nothing, because either way you're copying what someone wrote down. You're not doing it to make more blank pieces of dead trees.
If you're saying that because technology now makes it easy to make copies, you're correct. If you're saying there are people who think nothing of copying something and getting copies of something, you are also correct. They're doing it to avoid paying for something they know is not free, and in the end, we'll ALL pay for it. There will be copy protection on everything, and DRM will severely restrict fair use. Because people abused copying, things will get to a point where you won't even be able to loan your legitimate electronic copy of The Da Vinca Code to someone. Only you, the original buyer, will have access to it.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

I want to say something, and it is more of a philosophy point of view than purely a legal one. I'm a huge fan of Benjamin Franklin, and I think he had a lot of insights and ideas that are lost on most people. High schools didn't do this man justice and few people take the time to understand what he wrote. Anyway, to paraphrase.
The problem with copyright and creative works, and I believe this includes software, is that it is not purely property. You can never take it out of the mind of the user.
A physical object, say a hammer, I can lend a person, he or she may use it for a period of time, and then, when it is returned, it can no longer perform the work for which it was intended.
Copyrighted works can never be removed from a persons mind. Ideas and facts and images stay. We can continually draw from them. When we learn something from them, or alter our thinking because of them, they become part of us. Eventually, if the copyrighted work becomes important, it becomes part of society. It, itself, becomes too important to be controlled by a single entity. This is the reason for the public domain.
Have you ever read Philip K. Dick's short story "Paycheck?"
The never ending quest to keep mickey mouse permanently and forever out of the public domain has hurt society, IMHO. (as well as the opinions of a lot of people)
The big picture here is copying. Copyrighted works are always copied in the minds of everyone that uses them. Ideas, thoughts, and facts are used all the time. Computer interfaces we "learn," or new ways of doing things. We have to let go of this anal fear of copying and realize that, for the better of society, as they say, that horse has left the barn.
As a part time author, I too have lost income because of the economic challenges of publishing, but I realize that it has to be and we have to challenge things like DRM and new more restrictive laws to protect the public domain for generations to come.
The problem isn't controlling copying and making it a crime or impossible, but to derive income from it. Make it easier/value added to return to the original source. Our current system for compensating artists is not that old, I don't think it needs to be set in stone. It is only in the last couple centuries that content creators could even make money selling their works. More often than not, it was merely work for hire.
In 50 or 100 years from now, what survives as literature when we no longer use dead trees? What happens to great works that are locked up in DRM and the keys are long lost? What happens to history?
Not to sound melodramatic, but this is the first time in human history where we may start reversing the longevity of history. Until this point in time, writings and art we intended to be immortal, testaments to the time and the peoples that created them. Sure, there is always some profit motive, but the work survives. Very soon now, with DRM and laws, maintaining history is will become illegal or impossible. Libraries being limited to what they can share. User's unable to lend books. It is a dangerous time, and we are losing truly important rights for mere money.
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mlw wrote:

When they perfect Vulcan mind melds I guess copyright holders will feel emperiled, but until then I guess "copying to one's mind" is a colorful though not very accurate way to describe learning. I know few people who can read something and then make an exact duplicate of it, or would bother if they could. What a person takes away from learning about anything, from any source, is uniquely theirs. Obviously, copyright has nothing to do with people retaining what they've learned.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

Come on Gordon, there was a lot more point in my post than that one sentence out of context!
"The big picture here is copying. Copyrighted works are always copied in the minds of everyone that uses them. Ideas, thoughts, and facts are used all the time. Computer interfaces we "learn," or new ways of doing things. We have to let go of this anal fear of copying and realize that, for the better of society, as they say, that horse has left the barn."
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mlw wrote:

To me the whole point of "learning = copying" is so specious I didn't feel the need to respond point by point. There is nothing even remotely like copying when someone learns something, as the learning process involves integrating new information with existing information, producing a result unique to each individual. Absolutely not like copying. What people learn from a book are ideas and facts, and you know neither is copyrightable. They do not "copy" the text into their brains, and the vast majority cannot remember the word-for-word sequence that is the subject of copyrightability.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

You are being far to literal.
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While you're exactly right on this, there have been some lawsuits (including one against google) claiming that copying data from disk to the CPU to manipulate it is "copying" in the sense copyright guards against.
--
Joseph J. Pfeiffer, Jr., Ph.D. Phone -- (505) 646-1605
Department of Computer Science FAX -- (505) 646-1002
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Gordon McComb wrote:

It is the meaning that is copied not the carrier of that meaning.
Where did you get the information for your book? If I had the same sources that you used to get that information I wouldn't need to read your book any more than you would.
There is an important role for those who can translate technical text into a simpler form for those who haven't the time to become experts in a particular field. Some translate for love, some for money.
In an ideal situation, if there is nothing really creative in the ideas written, the translator should at least get a fixed one off payment. Still if a lot of people want to read your works... The author of the Harry Potter series seemed to do ok. What would have happened if her works were copied over the web before she sold any of her books?
-- JC
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JGCASEY wrote:

Copyright has NEVER applied to ideas ("meaning"), so it's pointless to argue this.

I synergized what I learned, with prior facts and experiences that are unique to me. I wrote those down, creating a unique expression of those ideas. When you read the book you'll do the same. What you take from the book will be UNIQUE to you, and you alone. Your learning is not a copy of the text, but an experience as unique as a fingerprint.

Sigh. I'll repeat this once more: COPYRIGHT DOES NOT PROTECT IDEAS. Never has, never will, doesn't need to. Clear now?
-- Gordon
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JGCASEY wrote:

I wasn't writing about copyright the reference was to mlw's comment that it was copied to the brain. It wasn't about laws, morals or ethics.
I know they say that "ideas" are not subject to copyright.
Even so I notice that a house design is subject to copyright and I would say putting the kitchen there and the lounge here is an idea. So I guess it also depends what you decide the word "idea" means.
Another example are algorithms. I would say that if I came up with a new algorithm it would be a new "idea" but subject to copyright.

Mmmm. Ok :)

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JGCASEY wrote:

Gordon is right about "ideas" not being subject to copyright. A computer algorithm is an idea of "process" and thus can not be copyrighted.
In IP Law: Copyright protects the expression of ideas. Patents protect processes Trademark law protects symbols of companies, Tony The Tiger, etc. Trade Secret protect those materials, ideas, expressions, etc. that are held secret by their holders.
A computer algorithm gained the ability to be patented in the 1980s.
There is a lot of work being done by some very bad lawyers to expand copyright to cover more abstract aspects of an expression, i.e. form and structure, methods and concepts, etc.
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