Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Nov 2011 14:18 UTC
Legal The European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European Union, is kind of on a roll lately. We already discussed how they outlawed generic ISP-side internet filters, and now, in an opinion (so it's not a ruling just yet), Yves Bot, an advocate-general at the Court, has stated that functions provided by computer programs, as well as the programming languages they're written in, do not receive copyright protection. The opinion is very well-written, and relatively easy to read and grasp. Note: Brilliant quote from a comment over at Hacker News: "Copyright makes you write your own code. Patents prevent you from writing your own code."
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RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Tue 29th Nov 2011 20:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

It's not stealing in a sense that you take something away from someone leaving the victim with nothing.

However a digital copy is bit perfect.

Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?

A digital copy is an exact duplicate of a product you should pay money for, but haven't, yet you have the full benefit of a product other people invested time and money in.

Now I'm all for making copies for yourself. If I buy a CD I see no problem in ripping it and listening to the music on my iPod. Nor should downloading be illegal, as it's hard to tell for a customer what is and what isn't legal and also stuff can find its way on to your hard disk without you actually meaning it to.

But digital copies... it may not be stealing in the classical meaning, but it has the same effect in a way.

Reply Parent Score: 1

The1stImmortal Member since:
2005-10-20

It's not stealing in a sense that you take something away from someone leaving the victim with nothing.

However a digital copy is bit perfect.

Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?
[...]
But digital copies... it may not be stealing in the classical meaning, but it has the same effect in a way.

In the event that someone learns how to duplicate physical objects without any inputs other than say energy or raw materials, then the economics of scarcity of physical objects collapse - it becomes simply a dumb idea to expect to get paid for physical objects (other than the raw materials and energy involved).

That means that the value creation shifts to other places, such as services like designing different tasting or nutritionally different milks.

To bring that back to various forms of information - the value becomes centered around the provision of hardware to handle the information, and the service of creating/modifying the information. It's no longer economically viable to expect to get paid for providing copies when the copies are created at essentially zero cost (naturally, legal and contractual life support notwithstanding).

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by terrakotta on Wed 30th Nov 2011 18:51 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
terrakotta Member since:
2010-04-21

"It's not stealing in a sense that you take something away from someone leaving the victim with nothing.

However a digital copy is bit perfect.

Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?
[...]
But digital copies... it may not be stealing in the classical meaning, but it has the same effect in a way.

In the event that someone learns how to duplicate physical objects without any inputs other than say energy or raw materials, then the economics of scarcity of physical objects collapse - it becomes simply a dumb idea to expect to get paid for physical objects (other than the raw materials and energy involved).

That means that the value creation shifts to other places, such as services like designing different tasting or nutritionally different milks.

To bring that back to various forms of information - the value becomes centered around the provision of hardware to handle the information, and the service of creating/modifying the information. It's no longer economically viable to expect to get paid for providing copies when the copies are created at essentially zero cost (naturally, legal and contractual life support notwithstanding).
"

In the event of being able to copy a physical object, the physical object looses its value. Economics is about scarcity, someone can do something for me, or can provide me with something that I can't or, creating it myself would cost me more than it costs to have him do/create/deliver it. Which is the reason one can pay someone for a service (time has become a product itself), or a skill. The shop keeper would have to find himself something else to sell instead. The creation of money as a way to pay for something stems from finding something that is DIFFICULT TO COPY OR RECREATE (hence gold, silver...).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by WereCatf on Tue 29th Nov 2011 21:02 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?


I atleast do get what you're trying to imply, but the analogy is barely limping forward on one foot; you're still trying to apply physical properties to something that isn't physical. And this whole article isn't even about a finished product at all, it's about the idea of a product.

An obvious shortcoming would be that in reality the shopkeeper wouldn't give access to the 'milk' before getting paid. Sure, there would be some people who copy the 'milk' from someone else who've bought it, but the fact remains that there'd also be people who paid for it, too.

And then the ideological shortcomings: what if the shopkeeper was selling a vague description of a product, not a finished product nor instructions how to make one? Say, the description would be e.g. "a hollow carton box inside which you pour a dairy product", would it be alright then to deny anyone else selling a product with similar properties even when the manufacturers of those products had never even heard of this shopkeeper?

Or how about this: is it right to erode rights of majority just for the misdeeds of the few?

Alas, these things are hardly ever straightforward.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Tue 29th Nov 2011 21:16 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I know the article isn't about downloading music/warez/stuff, but people started about whether copying is stealing or not.

Bytes aren't physical, unlike the milk bottle, but I'm trying to illustrate that that's the whole point: it's digital, so it can be copied perfectly. Hence there is no need to steal something by removing it from the owner in to your own possession. If you copy it you have it. Wether it's music or software.

It's also not about the owner having it and then losing it, it's about having it, but unable to sell it because people copy it.

Now regarding vague ideas, I have nothing against people doing their own thing. I should be allowed to code my own version of OS X. I don't think I should copy the artwork or sell it pre-installed on a computer with a piece of fruit on it, but if people have ideas I should be able to create my own version.

I have seen some generally described stuff that has been labeled IP, making it look very silly. Like the hyperlink or the one click buy. That's stuff we can do without.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by microbe on Wed 30th Nov 2011 12:58 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
microbe Member since:
2011-11-30

It doesn't really matter if the end product is physical or digital. If the original producer doesn't get a reward for product, eventually that will drive the gifted programmer/producer away to do something completely different (no milk!). Modern society isn't a static set of developers and occupations. It's an organic result of behavioral models, which has been in place for decades.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Delgarde on Tue 29th Nov 2011 23:05 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

But digital copies... it may not be stealing in the classical meaning, but it has the same effect in a way.


"Stealing" conventionally has the meaning that the victim has lost possession of whatever was stolen. Trying to extend that meaning to cover crimes without a tangible loss just confuses the issue - breaching copyright or patents is a crime, but it's not "stealing".

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Soulbender on Wed 30th Nov 2011 03:22 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Is this fair?


No but it still not stealing.

it may not be stealing in the classical meaning, but it has the same effect in a way.


Having the same effect is not the same as being the same thing. A lot of actions can result in someone dying, that doesn't mean it's murder.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Wed 30th Nov 2011 07:47 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

But why can't we label this stealing?

Some basketball players never go to jail despite averaging over 1 steal per game.

It's not uncommon to see articles about stolen passwords, credit card numbers and even ideas (which aren't near as bit perfect like digital copies). Spies steal stuff, malware steal personal information. People read this and say, "Hey, stuff was stolen" and nobody disagrees with that. So why stick to the old fashioned definition of theft?

It may make a difference in court where they tend to be more strict about definitions, like when causing a death is murder or not. But in the normal world I think it's already accepted that copying stuff without paying for it is considered stealing.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by bert64 on Wed 30th Nov 2011 09:58 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23


Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?


It is perfectly fair, the shopkeeper needs to find a new line of business because a technology has been created which makes his old business obsolete. It's called progress.

Being a blacksmith used to be a profitable business, now that people drive cars it's very hard to make any money as a blacksmith and most of them went out of business years ago... Is this fair?

People used to buy lanterns, candles, and various other devices to light their homes... Now we have electricity supplied to every home and many of the people who made and sold such lighting devices went out of business... Is this fair?

The mantra is adapt or die.

If someone creates a technology allowing you to duplicate milk, do you think this technology should be outlawed to artificially prop up those who make a living from selling milk?

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Wed 30th Nov 2011 10:12 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

You're taking a theoretical unrealistic example for real, but I'll say this:

I think there is a big difference between a number of people and companies working together to put a bottle of milk in the shop and someone walking in reaping the result of their work, but giving no compensation AND a duplication machine that would transform an industry or even the world.

Sure cars replaced horses, but that's not reaping the benefits of blacksmiths without compensation them. If a blacksmith made a new horse shoe and you can in, copied it and walked out that wouldn't be fair. Not liking horses and coming up with a car is progress and fair.

If an artist with a whole organization around him produces a piece of music people copy with permission for free is hardly called progress. Sure people have been doing this for years, even before the Internet, but now everything is zeros and ones you can easily create an exact copy, do it very fast and many times.

But hey, I also download music. However I also buy it, from my favorite artists or bands who deserve it. If it's just one song I may like today, but not next week I just download it for free. If I couldn't have downloaded it I would't have bought it anyway. So I might not consider this legal or honest, but I can live with it as it didn't really caused a missed sale.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by ricegf on Wed 30th Nov 2011 11:44 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

You mean like this?

http://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/3dprinter.asp

Not milk precisely, but you just can't make up obscure and impossible examples fast enough to avoid reality.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Wed 30th Nov 2011 12:29 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I guess 3D printers should be able to make milk bottles.

And I guess they don't need to be able to make milk if they are able to print a cow.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Luminair on Wed 30th Nov 2011 19:29 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

the milk comparison is retarded because if the world could duplicate food without cost everyone would do it and the world would be a better place. try again.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by ilovebeer
by MOS6510 on Wed 30th Nov 2011 19:31 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

No, it would make everyone even fatter.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by ilovebeer
by werterr on Sat 3rd Dec 2011 05:50 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer"
werterr Member since:
2006-10-03

Now imagine you could do this with a bottle of milk. You go to a shop, duplicate a bottle of milk and leave without paying. You claim it's not stealing as the bottle is still in the shop, yet you have a bottle of milk and the shopkeeper has an unsold bottle and no money. If everybody does this the shopkeeper will go out of business. Is this fair?


Yes it is !

In a world where you could copy a bottle of milk (aka copy the information that makes a bottle of milk a bottle of milk aka a replicator ?) it should be perfectly fine to do so.

Information (any and all of it) should be free.

You could question if a store owner has the right to allow copying in his store but the general act of copying the milk itself should be no problem.

Say you buy the bottle of milk and copy it endlessly in your home. There would be nothing wrong with that ! but still the effects for the store owner is the same.

Now in that world store owners will become redundant because if we can copy physical goods there is no need for a store owner, a store (in the traditional sense) or having an original 'non-copied' version of the good.

This works in exactly the same way that the car and train replaced horses and wagons. The printing press replaced scribes etc. They simply are not here anymore because we evolved further.

Also in all these cases there where people screaming that it was so bad, the work of the devil or other rhetoric.

In the end most if not everything will be replaced by something different (and hopefully better ;) .

With the digital age, and this is a topic that is getting old now, we created an instant and infinite way to copy things. Music, Books, Code, Ideas, etc.

And there are a lot of forces that are trying, semi successfully, to keep the world from evolving the digital age to it's 'perfect-form'.

We see this in content delivery, political lobby groups, etc. But eventually this all must head somewhere. It might be delayed for a while, but in the end we either must accept copying as a basic free right where it doesn't matter what's being copied or give up the concept and end the Internet and digital transfer mediums as we know it. (if such a thing would be even possible)

So... to make a long story even longer...

I would conclude that the problem you sketch only exists in a pre-digital-age way of thinking about information.

And that we should think differently about this information. So that in the example the shop owner would not be selling the milk anymore because that becomes pointless but it might sell replication-blueprints of a endless slight variations of the milk.

Because your 50 generation replicated milk would still tasted like the first sip, and you miss all the dynamics that comes into play with non copied milk.

Reply Parent Score: 1