Archive for October, 2002

Copyright Infringement and other news

Perpetuating Copyright Infringement

    Why is it that companies like Dell, Gateway, Intel, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable are all actively promoting copyright infringement?

    I caught a bunch of television commercials last week from each of these companies who all had similar pitches like:

    “With our new processor, you can rip and burn movies and music faster than before!”

    “With high-speed internet access, you can download thousands of movies and music titles from the internet, at speeds 200 times faster than dialup”

    “Our latest system ships with the fastest CD and DVD burners available. Just call or visit our website today!”

    If the {RI|MP}AA wants to clamp down on the ability to violate copyrights for music and movies, why not start at the source.

Do you know what copyright infringement is? Do you care?

    I was at a wedding in Buffalo on Saturday, and spoke with someone who had literally downloaded over 300 albums of music, never paying a single cent for it. He was proud that his hard drive (employer-supplied computer) was almost full of music he’d never have to buy, and it was “ easy to download. Just click on one file, and the whole album comes down to your computer, just like that!”. The problem is that I honestly don’t think he realizes that he’s breaking several laws by doing this (ironically, he is considering a law career, to follow in his father’s footsteps).

    When people who aren’t familiar with copyright, internet law, etc. get their computers and their high-speed internet access, they go right towards the media. It’s all about “download” for them.. consume.

    I think we need a new awareness campaign. I’m not trying to stop the RIAA or MPAA from doing their jobs (within their legal limits, most of which they are currently breaking), but there are legitimate reasons to burn a music CD (burn, not redistribute), as well as legally-downloadable music from the web. When manufacturers make it this easy, and fail to inform their customers that most of the “easy” ways to burn and download are probably violating copyright, I think something has to happen.

    Which brings me to my second rant.. car manufacturers. For the same reasons.. in the US, there is no state that allows you to exceed 65mph that I’m aware of, and yet domestic cars are sold with the ability to go 120mph plus. Sure, you can jam your foot on the pedal and go as fast as you want.. but you’re breaking the law. I wonder how many unnecessary injuries and deaths could be prevented if cars simply could not exceed the maximum speed limit, unless modified third-party? If you are found to be speeding with a car that was made post-limited, you should get nailed with a huge fine.

    Yes, there are those that say that you should be able to jam on the gas and get an extra boost to pass someone or in a passing lane, but that is still breaking the law. You can’t exceed the speed limit, even to pass someone in a legal passing lane. But sure, you could also just add an extra 10mph, so you could get out of “emergency” situations, but that’s not the point.

    Update: Zaitcev, you completely missed the point. The point is that the problem was not created by the “consumers”, it was created by the manufacturers. This has nothing to do with cars, or music, or the MPAA. Look deeper. Resorting to name-calling clearly shows your level of comprehension with these issues.

    The reason I bring this up, is that people will do what the technology allows, even if it breaks the law. In many cases, the person who is doing it, doesn’t even realize that any laws were involved.

Technology Stops Evolution

    Patents are another avenue that I vehemently disagree with, but which fall in the same capacity here. E and I had a long discussion about patents, and that “certain technology and pharmeceutical companies” are pushing hard to increase the number of patents they file. HP recently made an announcement that they were trying to triple the number of patents filed, and pushing hard for each of their employees to submit patent ideas and applications, for an incentive of $175.00 per filing. The reason? “To exclude other companies from intruding on the same technology space.”

    How does this help technology grow? This once again validates my theory that I’ve had for 10 years or more. Technology stops evolution.. Think about it, we have all this wonderful technology, so why do we need to evolve? Gore-tex to keep us warm, no need to evolve better skin or heat transfer. UV protectant glasses and suntan lotion, why evolve our eyes and skin there as well. With companies stifling the growth of technology, simply for profit, we come to a grinding halt.

    The pharmaceutical companies aren’t free from guilt either. There’s a bill coming across the books that many pharma companies are terrified of, because it reduces the life of a patent by a few years, which means drugs can be turned into generics sooner. Yes, this will probably hurt the pharma companies who rely on a solid 7-10 years of a drug to recoup the costs of R&D, but keeping it locked up in a patent also stops others from producing drugs that use that same or similar formulation to help people in other areas.

    Patents in this fashion hurt people who are suffering and need medical treatment. All for money. In fact, one company sent out a global notice asking each employee to contact their senator to help repeal this bill to reduce patent lifespan.

    I’m all for reducing the lifespan of patents (ideally down to 0), because it gets the treatment into the hands of others sooner, and it will cause the pharma companies to re-evaluate their practices, so they don’t spend so much time on R&D. Make more novel drugs, so they overlap. Relying on one blockbuster for 7 years is just not going to cut it anymore.

    The only reason to patent something is to retain rights to sue someone for violating it. You have a copyright on your creation, which is enforceable. Patenting it only makes that copyright legally and financially lucrative when violated. You don’t have to patent something to be able to legally persue someone for using it without your permission or consent.

I should start looking for work as a columnist or satirist or something.

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