An idea has to be an idea about something which would
make that something copyright be it a process or anything
else. Clearly there is something I am missing here.
The only socially responsible and useful role of a patent
is to allow people to be adequately rewarded for their
contribution and it ideally needs to be commensurate to
the worth of that contribution. In practice it is all
about politics, power and control.
Two people can come up with the exact same idea. For copyrights, it's
not the idea, but how the idea is expressed, that makes it special. So,
maybe I have an idea about creating a robot that runs on burps from Dr.
Pepper. Someone else might come up with the same. We can both write
about the idea, and we can both have our work copyrighted.
For a patent you can protect the idea, but the idea has to be pass
certain requirements of being novel, useful, and non-obvious. A
copyright can protect something brand new, or something dull, useless,
and so obvious a two year old could think of it.
*Everything* is about politics, power, and control. We all long for a
little bit more than we already have.
We should probably get back to building 'bots now. I have an idea for
one that uses carbonation from a certain fruity soda pop...
That is what sparked my interest in robots as a kid.
Something to do my chores for me. Reminds me of the Roomba
TV advertisement where the wife says, "I love my Roomba
but I have control", or words to that effect as she waves
her remote control about.
Hey! Sorry. I have already had that idea and I want to
patent it :-)
I've seen those excellent pages and read all your books. I'm a fan,
I find it some what discouraging that one of the most knowledge people
in amateur robotics doesn't seem to actually build complete, functioning,
autonomous robots. None appear in your books; none are show cased.
I continue to value your excellent advice.
There is no such thing as a "complete, functioning robot," IMO. Anyone
who stops building at a given point and says, "Here's a complete robot,"
hasn't set his sights very high.
If you mean a robot with a CPU or microcontroller, some programming, and
some sensors, of course I've built those. Frankly, I don't find it very
My thing is subsystems. It's what I'm good at, and it's the approach I
intentionally used in my books. My greatest satisfaction is seeing how
other people use the concepts I've worked out, not in giving directions
on how they can build exactly what I built. BORING! The same with the
kits I offer at Budget Robotics. They are starter bases, and people do
some wondering things with them that I NEVER would have thought of. Can
you imagine how thrilling *that* is, as opposed to seeing how people
followed my directions for a "complete, functioning" robot?
(Mind you, I'm not knocking David Cook or Gareth Branwyn or some of of
the others who take this approach. There's room for many methods of
learning. I just happen to prefer empirical exploration with
Competitions aren't a karmic experience for me, and I dislike the
spotlight. But I know many of the students who get my kits use them in
competitions. Sometimes they win, and very occasionally they share their
success with me in an e-mail. At this point in my robotics interests, I
find this is more personally gratifying than building "complete,
functioning" robots -- whatever those are.
There...you've glimpsed inside the mind of Gordon McComb. Other than the
above, it's pretty empty.
On Mon, Jun 12, 2006 at 08:49:34PM -0500, Harry Rosroth wrote:
Robot, Schmobot. Don't forget Gordon's unique and unparalleled talent
of spotting the purple panties in an otherwise randomly cluttered
"where's Waldo" dorm room photo. That alone has raised Gordon to the
level of minor deity in my mind :-) If he can build robots, too, well,
so much the better.
I didn't plan to get too involved in this discussion, because I do plan to
use it in a research paper I'm writing, (yes, i'll cite everyone I quote)
but I have to respond to this.
And please, don't think I'm advocating what the guy did by posting the
book... I just want to point out a flaw with this one statement.
Since it was the meaning of the little black marks on the pages of your book
which got copied onto that newsgroup, and not the actual marks themselves,
then obviously the posting of the book online, in a totally different form,
was not a copyright infringement. No need for further duscussion. All the
man copied was the meaning, after all...
Um, you see the problem with your argument? Copyright DOES protect the
meaning. If it didn't, then any change, at all, to the format (color, type
size, binding method, etc...) of a book would protect it from copyright law.
I could reprint your book on light purple paper, and say that the only thing
I copied was the meaning... "look, the format is different! It's obviously
a different work, not a copy" and that argument would fly!
That guy didn't post your book, he posted the meaning of your book. Your
book was not in a form that COULD be posted. It had to be converted into
pure meaning, and then into a different form that could convey that meaning
before he could post it.
You're mistaken. Ideas are precisely what copyright, and patent for that
meatter, attempt to protect, and that is why copyright and patent are having
such a hard time here in the information (read that: IDEA) age.
Please read the following circular from the US Government
I'll quote the relevant section to you:
WHAT IS NOT PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT?
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for
federal copyright protection. These include among others:
Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles,
discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description,
explanation, or illustration
Here is the same information from the US Copyright Office FAQ:
How do I protect my idea?
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods
of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or
drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware
that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in
your written or artistic work.
Also from the FAQ:
What is copyright infringement?
As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted
work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed,
or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright
When Gordon's book was posted on alt.binaries.e-books.technical, the
person who did the posting was guilty of infringing on the Electronics
for Dummies copyright. People who download copies from ABET are
also guilty of copyright infringement.
In general it is nice to theorize about copyrights, but please do
a little homework first.
Do yourself the favor of learning a thing or two about a subject you
post about. You can find literally tons of information on copyright
basics online, and all it takes is a little effort on your part to
educate yourself. Within the first page of even the simplest of
brochures on copyright you will find the explanation that copyright
protects expression, and not ideas. Simple stuff, easy to learn. Please
do, and stop spreading false information.
Information exists not in the things but in the arrangement of
those things. Gordon's book has value because of the arrangement,
which is distinct from and additional to the source material he
drew on. His copyright extends to his arrangement of the source
material, and not to the source material itself.
But perhaps that's what you're both saying?
My post was really only with regard to mlw's comment
"Copyrighted works are always copied in the minds of
everyone that uses them."
It wasn't meant to be about Gordon or his excellent
books as such.
I accept Gordon's take that an author synergizes what
they have learned, with prior facts and experiences
that are unique to them and that constitutes an origonal
and creative work.
I haven't seen Gordon's "Electronics for Dummies" but it
was what I felt was missing from his "The Robot Builder's
Bonanza". If the work is useful enough for anyone to want
to copy it, it is worth paying for. Unfortunately most
people believe stealing is ok as long as you can get away
with it and those that produce the goods have to find some
way of preventing it from happening.
US law and precident tends to disagree with you on
So am I. However, I do think that the intention of the laws
is to serve the good of society. And as has been pointed out
already in this thread, losing authors because they can't make
money doesn't serve the good of society.
When I found I needed Winzip, I went to the web site and bought
it. Before that it wasn't on my system.
For now the functions included in Windows XP work for me.
I never said that I lived an honest life. I merely stated I don't do
illegal software. :)
I have not verified my systems in full. However, all the computers
in my house are built with software after these patents were
announced. Now, I have no idea if some of my home video
equipment includes such things. However, I bought this equipment
(legally) and am assuming that the companies deal with such things.
> Yes, yes, "illegally," sure, everyone breaks the law every day doing
Yes, it is fairly difficult to go without breaking some little
laws somewhere. On a long trip maybe I accidentally go over
the speed limit for a bit. I try not to break the laws I know
There will be some way of compensating the information creators
and editors. If they can't pay their bills, there will be less
information created in a usable way.
It doesn't matter what form of governemtn you have; the rules are set by
society. And in this case it seems to be of benefit to society that IP
is protected as (or similar to) property. If the copyright owners choose
to give up some of their rights, that is their business.
And professional software tends to be more expensive so the copyright
owners tend to be more careful.
Actually the EUL usually *gives* you rights above and beyond
what is avialble trhough fair use.
For example, some software allows you to use a copy
for personal use in addition to use at work. Otherwise
it is wrong to use it in both places.
Yes, you have the right of first sale, even with software. Copyrighted
software you must destroy your copy when you sell it.
To a degree you have to do with it as you please. However, by buying
the copy your have already agreed to be bound by the copyright
Sure you do. You can easily sell such software on a website. By using
the GPL, the copyright owner gives up certain rights.
I agree. However, like all such things, the pendulum will swing
again. The laws will eventually catch up with technology.
D. Jay Newman
Author of _Linux Robotics_
I'm not sure I buy that argument. In the "arts," there are always popular
"stars" and people who can't make a living at it. Edgar Allen Poe died
penniless. Whether or not someone can make a living at their art is of no
consequence to society or quality.
It is a harsh world, and though we may wish for an idealistic solution,
sometimes reality is quite unfair.
Which serves society better? DRM and the regulation of thoughts and ideas by
large corporations and governments, or paying authors with an obsolete
Sorry, I believe that removing the old guard of publishers and media
companies and the laws that have been enacted to prop them up, will make
way for artists and creators to better make a living. Publishers and media
companies have only been around for a short time, artists have been around
for about the same amount of time as prostitutes.
Ah ha! Pay up! LOL.
"accidentally" go over the speed limit? Umm, OK. I "believe" that.
Paying artists or not has never affected the supply of art, it has, of
course, affected art dealers.
Actually, society has spoken, it thinks it is OK to download and copy media.
It is government and corporations that are trying to make this "wrong."
That is clearly not true. Most ELUA documents limit what you can do with the
software, far beyond fair use. They also seek to limit liability. Seek to
degrade your rights to privacy. Seek to eliminate your right of first sale.
Take about and hour and carefully read Microsoft's EULA for Windows XP.
If I use it at work and I use it at home, I am only using one copy, right?
That scenario should be fair use, should it not?
Microsoft, with its EULA, seeks to eliminate right of first sale. If you buy
a computer with XP, but do not wish to use XP, and use Linux, Microsoft
calls selling the XP software illegal.
Furthermore, if you "use" the software, you can not then sell it, no matter
what. At least no legally.
The EULA is not copyright law.
You snipped the argument and addressed none of it, simply restated your
position without logical reason. That's pretty lame, so lets look at the
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
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.
Assuming of course our government still works. I have deep fears about that
I have *never* stated that I agree with DRM or with the RIAA. In fact
I think that for many reasons both of these are bad for society.
Have you ever tried to stay at *exactly* the speed limit? Perhaps
if I did some road rallies I'd have the experience. :)
Hmmm. You are making a bunch of assumptions there. There are many
books I've enjoyed that wouldn't have been written had the authors
not thought they were going to be paid.
Many people have said that is what they *want*. They haven't said
this is good for society. There is a distinction.
You also haven't read the EULAs. There is some give and take.
The software I was thinking of, Microsoft Word, had wording in it
that gave you the right to use your workplace copy at home. In the
usual situation of working for somebody else, you do not have the
right to use your employer's software for your own use (unless they
cede that right to you).
That is because Microsoft entered into a contract with the computer
reseller to sell them Windows at a highly discounted rate. Therefore
the limitation on resale.
No, it is a condition of sale, and the legality is up for debate in
That is because I wanted to keep the attributions down.
Actually you aren't. You are *selling* a piece of software. The GPL
gives me the right to transfer copies to anybody I choose to as long
as I stick to the GPL. At no time do I claim copyright on somebody
I also have a right to charge whatever I want for the priviledge of
downloading GPL software, or selling it by any means. The copyright
owner has agreed to be bound by the conditions of the GPL and has
given away his rights to prevent copies from being made.
And that too shall eventually change.
D. Jay Newman
Author of _Linux Robotics_
The availability of a particular work is subject to a lot of factors,
including, historically of course, the quality of scotch available to the
I'm not sure I agree, what you or I think is "good" for society is different
than what society does, which is by definition, what society does.
Actually, I have had to read a LOT of eula, they are very scary documents.
I find this absurd that we think this is correct.
The contract between Microsoft and the computer reseller is not a contract
into which YOU have entered, and thus should not be binding on you.
Correction, it is not a condition of "sale," as you can buy it without
agreeing to it. (often times can't even read it prior to sale.) It is a
condition of use, well, actually, ownership as it controls what you can do
with your property.
This is not true. In a copyrighted work, unless you sell ownership of the
work (which you can't because you don't own it), you are actually selling a
license or right to use it. Since GPL gives people these rights anyway, you
are not selling anything.
Yes, "transfer copies," and that's key. Look at my statements below.
Exactly, thus you can't sell "the software" but you can sell the process of
providing such copies. It is a semantic argument in most cases, but there
are important differences.
I did not mean for such a large OT convo to run. I just thought you
might want to let the posters ISP be aware of copyright infringement.
I will be honest, if it was your older Bonanza books I would not have
said anything. But it is your new book so I thought I would let you
know. Plus there were A LOT of books that would be useful here like
the OOPIC/PIC programing guides. I have your hard copy of the first 2
Robotics books and still refer back to them. But i think that how some
books are treated is way off base for the copyright law. Like Hero 1
books. the thing was back in 85, Give the manuals away and sell the
: Rethink this. Hard or soft goods, you're not stealing a *thing*, you're
: taking away from a person the *value* of the thing. When software is
: pirated you are depriving the creator -- more often than not an
: individual or a small company -- from the livlihood they would have made
Depriving someone of income is not necessarily theft. It could be
embezelment, fraud, larceny, dumping (selling your stuff below cost to get
rid of competitors) -- I'm sure there are more.
I understand your position as a small businessman (Am There, Doing That),
but at the same time the PR campaign that "Copyright Infringement is
Theft" ticks me off, because legally is is NOT, at least not yet, and it
seems somewhat disingenuous coming from companies that have been routinely
screwing their artists for years.
: WTFF do I care if I still have my original? -- in my case, a manuscript.
: I'm in the specific business of selling the copies! To an author or
: artist this argument makes zero sense.
I think you just made my point for me.
If I am churning out illegal copies of your book, you may be out some sales
of books you might have sold. Or you might not, if I'm incompetent and can't
actually distribute them to anyone.
If I steal your original manuscript, you can't make any copies at all and
most definitely can't sell anything to anyone. If I'm incompetent and
destroy it, you're screwed permanently.
Chris Candreva -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- (914) 967-7816
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