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Ping BM

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by ffreeloader, May 2, 2008.

  1. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I have a question or two for you brought up by another thread that I didn't want to take any further off-topic....

    Your argument on the other thread was that making any used materials available to someone else is stealing from you. I find this an odd position to take in that used book stores are very common, and no where near being illegal. A huge section of the reading public shops at them. And, most importantly, a person can by many technical books at the larger used book stores such as Powell's Books. They are huge. Their brick-and-mortar store in Portland, Or. is 3 stories high and takes up about 3/4 of a square city block. It takes an hour or more just to walk through it if you don't stop to read or look at books.

    Here's the scenario: I do a lot of reading. I buy a lot of books that were either donated to someplace like Goodwill, or from used book stores. I buy very few new books, other than my technical books. Am I stealing from authors by buying used books rather than new books to read?

    I've never even seen anyone come close to calling this scenario theft of intellectual property or a violation of copyright law. I've never even seen anyone say it's unethical or immoral to buy used books. In fact, I've been given several used technical books by people I considered to be friends, and people you know from some of the sites we've both been active on. Are both of us, the givers of the books, and me for accepting them, stealing from you in your eyes?

    The only thing even close to this in principle is what the RIAA is trying to do with used music stores. They are trying to overturn hundreds of years of common, accepted practice through the force of buying laws that restrict long-accepted, and hard-won consumer rights . Are you on their side of this moral fence?
     
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  2. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    I think the issue isnt one of passing a book from person to person, at least in BM's case. Its one of scanning the book into a PDF, and passing it out to hundreds of people.

    With a book in used stores theres a 1:1 ratio. There is only ever one copy of that book, in one persons posession at a time.
    With the scanning, its a 1: many ratio. One person buys, but many people hold copies of the material at any given time.
     
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  3. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    As Michael's co-author, I'll give my two cents. As Fergal mentioned, the issue isn't in selling your physical copy of the book, it's in making a copy of the book, and then giving that copy to 5-10-100 other people, while you still retain your copy of the book. You are still extracting value from that book. It's true that if you sell or give the physical book to someone else, neither me nor Michael nor our publisher receives any extra money from that transaction. But, US copyright law supports this usage. IANAL, so I cannot cite the exact law that allows this, but I believe it has been proven in court that this is an acceptable. You're not stealing from the authors or the publishers by buying or selling a used book. However, it should be noted that you aren't supporting that author, either. The author receives no compensation for the value that you extract from his or her work.

    As an aside, I often buy and sell used books, too. But, if there's an unknown or new author that I really like, I make a point to purchase a new copy of his or her book to help ensure that the author can produce future works. I follow this same logic with music. I buy and sell a lot of used music, but if there's an artist I really like, I'll make a point to buy a new copy of his or her album.

    Your argument about used music stores is at best flawed and at worst intentionally antagonistic. The music industry tried to fight against used music stores years ago and lost the fight. I won't speak for Michael about which side of that argument he falls on, but I will say that I don't think it matters. It has no relevance to your question about why Michael feels that you should not freely offer used materials to other users. Either you misunderstood what Michael was saying, or, again, you're just trying to be antagonistic.

    Whether you're offering copyrighted music or books online to other users via Peer-to-Peer or some other method, you're breaking US copyright law. It doesn't matter how any of us feel about that morally, those are the current US laws. And, as someone who puts hours and hours of my life into creating content that hopefully provides value to other users, I happen to believe that I should be compensated for that effort. I don't suspect that many people would be willing to go into their place of employment and offer their services for free. Why is creating books, music, or software any different?
     
  4. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    BosonJosh,

    The question about the RIAA is very relevant, as they are using copyright and IP as their argument, and that same copyright issue is at stake with books too. And, no the RIAA hasn't failed completely, but they haven't succeeded completely either. They have succeeded in running used music stores in states along the eastern seaboard out of business by making very onerous recording keeping demands that no small business can afford to keep. They wanted, and got, requirements for more paperwork for used music CD's than is required to purchase a firearm.

    As a consumer I get pretty ticked when my rights are squashed. I don't do any file sharing, download music, movies, etc... because I don't feel I should have it for nothing, i.e. moral qualms. But, at the same time I don't like content creators thinking they can squash my rights as a consumer either, just because they want to make more money. For that reason alone I am adamantly anti-drm, and against the current spate of laws being passed that put the rights of copyright holders far ahead of my rights as a consumer. The balance is completely out of whack right now.

    The antagonism you see is because BM will favor the content creator whether they are right or wrong. Take a look at the J.K Rowling thread. She is suing someone over writing a book about her books. She is calling that copyright infringement. That's completely bogus. If that's copyright infringement then so is any book written about any other copyrighted work or intellectual property, including any software. The principle is exactly the same. That clearly puts you guys out of business yet the authors around this place back Rowling.

    What a short-sighted viewpoint. Just wait until some company decided it wants to write books about its own software and doesn't want any competition. If you have decided to publish a book on their software you'll get sued. If Rowling wins it's a very distinct possibility in today's climate that they will win
     
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  5. Crito

    Crito Banned

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    If I discovered the cure for cancer and patented it, would it be "right" for me to charge a million dollars an injection and refuse anyone who couldn't afford it? Legal and moral are two completely different things.

    AFWIW, I don't think ffreeloader is being antagonistic. That implies your opinion is the only valid one, which is pretty arrogant IMHO.
     
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  6. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

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    DIfferent industries have different regulations. Medicine falls into another category (very complicated world).
    As far as I know, patented meds have to be made available to other drug companies after a certain amount of time. That's why there are so many versions of Viagara, and no-name versions of Tylenol, etc... They're the same meds.

    Music falls into the publishers domain and are protected by copyright. Josh's opinion may not be shared, but if the law states it's illegal to distribute the contents while keeping the original - it's illegal! I don't see the arguement.

    Saying that, I get the point on the J.K Rowling thing. If she is to win, does it mean that MS and Cisco can tell Sybex to take a hike on writing about their respective products and certifications? Although it may not be in their best interest - I'd say so...
     
  7. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    No, not at all. The copyright holders have allowed people to resell their books. Whoever holds a copy of my book basically holds a transferrable license to use that book. Thus, I don't feel like a person who buys a used copy of my book is stealing from me at all. They're not supporting me... but they're not stealing from me.

    That's not the case with selling electronic copies of my book. You don't own the work, so you don't have the right to make electronic copies of it and sell it. Nor would you have the right to photocopy a book and sell it.

    That's also not the case with IT certification training software, which, unlike a book, comes with a non-transferrable license from 99% of the certification training vendors out there. Those who don't agree with the licensing terms can choose to not buy training software. But in truth, it's no different than buying education from a college or training center - you can't resell your college enrollment or your training center enrollment, because it's valid only for you.

    If Boson's product required a CD, or dongle, or some other method of access control where you were required to physically have possession of something in order to use our product, I'd be all for changing the licensing terms of our software so that it could be resold or transferred to another individual - much like a book. But that's not the case, and I'm not even in a position to dictate such changes to our (or any) licensing.

    As far as I'm aware, whoever owns a CD has the right to resell that CD - to my knowledge, resale isn't prohibited in their copyrights (unless that's something new that the copyright owners have started asserting, which they have the right to do, if they choose to do so).

    That said, someone who resells a CD also gives up any rights to have music they ripped from that CD.

    I'm no lawyer, so my opinion is really no more valid than anyone else's. But there is a "legally right" and "legally wrong" answer out there, somewhere, and my opinion doesn't matter at all with regards to that fact. However, what I have spelled out above is what I perceive copyright law to be, regardless of what I believe IP owners should do.
     
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  8. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    The content creator (or often, the creator's employer) owns the intellectual property. It's theirs to do with as they wish. They can state the terms of how they want to allow their work to be distributed and used. If you disagree with it, don't use it.

    That said, I don't always favor the content creator (or, more accurately, the copyright owner). If I disagree with the onerous restrictions that a copyright owner places on their work, I won't give them my money... but neither will I use their work. I respect the right they have to be as restrictive or as open as they want with what THEY have created. If they choose to be restrictive, I respect their wishes. If they choose to be open, I applaud their openness.

    This is where you misunderstand me. I don't always favor the content creator, and I never said I back Rowling. In truth, I haven't analyzed the situation, so I'm ill-equipped to speak on it. I don't know what the dude has written, and how far it infringes on Rowling's work, if any.

    Here's my take on it, using the only thing I know for sure - my own work. If someone reads what I wrote and learns enough to create their own book or practice exam about a technology or an exam, then kudos to them. But if someone copies the words I wrote, or copies the words but changes a few of the words to synonyms - basically, plagiarizes my work - then they're infringing on my copyright (or, in my case, on the copyright owner's copyright, since I don't own what I write for Boson or Sybex).

    Then again, I don't own the trademark to a character, so none of that would apply in this case. In truth, I don't know what the law says about infringing on the intellectual property of a created character. Whether I agree or not with what Rowling does is completely irrelevant to whether it's legal or not. That's the distinction. My opinion doesn't change any legalities. "Right" and "wrong" don't always match up with "legally right" and "legally wrong". And I don't know where "legally right" and "legally wrong" are, in this case.

    If I had created a Harry Potter type of character, I'd be upset if someone stole what I created (much like the creator of "Larry Potter" is upset at Rowling), and I'd be upset if someone created works that used my main character as their main character. But would I be upset if someone created a guide book that basically dissected and indexed my books? No, I wouldn't. But I'm not her.

    Again, I don't know what the person in question in the Rowling lawsuit wrote... but if it's illegal to create a book that talks about what is in a book, Cliff's Notes would have been sued out of existence long before now. And I believe Cliff's Notes to be perfectly acceptable derivative works.

    Me writing a book about Windows is different than me writing a fiction book about a guy named Harry Potter (which is not what that dude did, if I understand the scenario properly). I wouldn't get sued in the former; I would get sued in the latter.

    A better parallel would be me writing an OS that did the exact same thing as Windows did and calling it Windows. I'm quite sure I'd get sued for that.
     
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