General Question

flo's avatar

Whether you are against SOPA or not, how do you explain it to a 12 year old?

Asked by flo (7514 points ) January 20th, 2012

…with just your own words. How do you inform her without being long winded. This is about getting to the heart of the matter in as short a time as possible, as simply as possible.

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73 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

You explain that people chatting and having fun between themselves on the internet is causing them to spend less time watching TV and on web sites that make money for big companies. So those big companies are bribing the politicians to shut down the fun sites (like Facebook and Fluther) so people will spend more time watching TV and on the sites run by the big companies so the big companies will make more money. And the politicians are lying to the voters about the reasons why they want to shut down the fun sites.

flo's avatar

Is the disagreement about everyone having the control over what they want to give away and what they don’t want to give away? And who argues against that?” is the question that she raised.

Aethelflaed's avatar

SOPA is a bill that would give the government the authority to shut down websites – any website – based on accusations of copyright infringement. Not evidence of copyright infringement, just accusations, thus bypassing the traditional standard of “innocent until proven guilty”. It is intended to stop online piracy, however, experts have agreed that it will do very little to actually prevent piracy. It can be used to shut down websites that the government doesn’t agree with – like a site that promotes a political view the government doesn’t like, or has some naughty art – thus stamping on free speech. And, the technical procedure for shutting down websites would make the internet less secure, making it less safe for people to do things like use credit cards on Amazon and PayPal, which could be a huge blow to the economy.

It’s also a struggle between the “normal citizens”, who don’t want the bill (both consumers and artists alike, including the artists whose work SOPA should be protecting from piracy), and a few “Big Corporations” that would benefit from SOPA, who are paying congresspeople off to pass the bill .

Pandora's avatar

The Government is trying to stop theft on the internet but they have made a program that will do more damage than the good it is suppose to do. It’g going to punish legitimate sites along with crimminal sites and give too much power to cable companies by giving them power to terminate sites that may be in competition with them.
It would be like the government allowing a male hamster to take care of new born baby hamsters and maybe only kill the sick ones. Meanwhile the male hamster hasn’t been fed well lately.
(bye, bye babies)
Also they are giving them rights of censorship. Which violates the first admendment, freedom of speech. Its right up there with book burning.
Plus government bills should only be because it is what is good for the people. It should be for the People, and proposed by the People, not because some corporation purchased the bill via lobbiest.

digitalimpression's avatar

I don’t. I tell my son to go outside and play with sticks and rocks, build forts, pretend to be an astronaut, race cars, make marble tracks, or drown ants..

I dunno, I think 12 year old kids are pretty smart. I would probably draw some kind of diagram and relate my points to his/her interests. E.G. The internet is like baseball.. and some people want to make rules that say you can’t have red gloves, which is obviously not cool. Why wouldn’t you be able to have red gloves?

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed and @Pandora
I don’t know if that says an answer for a 12 year old. It makes the government sound like an evil entity. How about the part about the individuals who want to have control over what they want to give away?

flo's avatar

@HungryGuy and @digitalimpression I am rereading your answers.

Qingu's avatar

Killing an insect you find in your bathroom with a grenade.

Qingu's avatar

More seriously (because some of the answers people have given are pretty counterfactual and misleading):

The Internet makes it very, very easy to copy files—songs, music, movies and TV shows. The problem is, media companies—Hollywood, record studios, the people who make and produce those files—want you to pay money for them.

Historically, this is why copyright law exists. Copyright law is based on the idea of intellectual property. If you create something, like a work of art or an invention, you (or, more often, your company) have the exclusive right to sell that. You put time and effort into it, so you should reap the benefits. It wouldn’t be fair if you spent years and $$$ inventing an awesome telescope, or writing an awesome book, and then some jerk just copies it and sells his copies for lots of money.

The problem is that, up until now, copyright law has been relatively simple to enforce—because it was hard to make copies. The Internet has changed that, probably forever. And nobody is really sure what to do, exactly.

Many websites, like Google, self-police for copyright infringement and take down lawbreaking content themselves (often with computer algorithms). Companies often load their copyrighted material with “Digital Rights Management”—DRM—which is basically extra software loaded onto the file that cripples it and prevents you from making copies of it. Another approach is to just make it easy and streamlined to pay for digital content. Many people don’t think illegal online copying is even that much of a problem to begin with, since people who create and publish content are still making a ton of money and have many willing customers. It’s not clear that illegal online copying (termed “piracy”) actually causes many people who would pay for this stuff to not pay, and in any case it’s very difficult to measure exactly how much money copyright holders lose from piracy.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect Intellectual Property Act”—SOPA and PIPA—are the harshest solution to the problem of illegal copying yet proposed. These laws basically give the government the power to shut down websites that even link to copyrighted materials. So, for example, if I right now posted a link to an online copy of a copyrighted book, Fluther could be shut down.

The laws also make it easy for copyright holders to remove content from websites. Basically, it gets removed almost automatically, and if the website owner thinks it was removed unfairly, they can then appeal. This runs counter to first amendment law, which says that you can’t censor content “before the fact.”

Moreover, a lot of SOPA and PIPA supporters in Congress don’t even seem to understand how the laws would work, or how the Internet works. For example, one of the congressmen who drafted SOPA had a copyrighted image on the background of his homepage. Under the law, his homepage could then be taken down.

_________

One more thing: I think most 12 year olds are smart enough to realize that copyright violation is different from “theft.”

Doesn’t make it right, or not a problem. But “theft” is when I take something and then you no longer have that something. Illegally making copies of intellectual property is just not the same.

Pandora's avatar

Well you can throw in that their are some officials that are backing up the people. Its not necessarily that the government as a whole is bad but the way that the system is set up right now makes it too easy for individuals to be corrupted or at least their intentsions misunderstood. Everything runs on money. Especially the government and lobbiest know all to well how to manipulate government officials and the public and the press.
Its like letting the foxes mind the hen house. I think lobbiest can also be useful but they are not what they once were and may no longer be necessary with access to the web. This protest over the web has shown that people can be united for a cause over the internet and make our voices heard and participate in our government decisions. If we take lobbiest out than in the future officials will have no choice but to listen to its people. After all, they already get a pay check from tax money.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo Sometimes, the government acts like a jerk. I don’t think the government is an evil entity, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being evil on this.

As to individuals controlling what they give away, SOPA doesn’t give them any more control, and can actually take it away. Many artists already have very little control of what they give away because the media company they’re with decides that, not them. But smaller artists can have their entire livelihood shut down because someone didn’t like their artwork and made a complaint that it was infringing copyright. Then their website is down for months or years, and by the time they get it back up, their audience has moved on. The actual artists (which is different from big media producing companies and organizations) are overwhelmingly opposed to SOPA, because they don’t gain anything from it, only lose from it.

flo's avatar

Your 2nd post @Qingu it started to look documentary-like, which is what I need, but it didn’t continue that way, I don’t think.

” ...Many people don’t think illegal online copying is even that much of a problem to begin with, since people who create and publish content are still making a ton of money and have many willing customers. ..”.
That sounds like if I believe rightly or wrongly, that you are making enough or more than enough money, I can come into your house and help myself to whatever I want?

”...The problem is, media companies—Hollywood, record studios, the people who make and produce those files—want you to pay money for them.”
!)But you are not even advocating taking the it away from the Hollywood studios and handing it to the creators? No, right?

Also, people can complain about being gouged, and not buy a product, but should not expect not to be charged anything at all which is what ”want you to pay money for them.” says.

And what about the individuals who put material they created on the internet without anyone else, no Hollywood, no record companies etc.?

Qingu's avatar

@flo, there are several problems with your “I can come into your house and take what I want” analogy.

The most important is that if you take something from my house, I no longer have it. This is fundamentally different from making a copy of something. If you make a copy of a song I purchased on iTunes, I still have the song. I lose nothing.

I think this is the main reason why the public discussion on copyright law is so frustrating and confused. IT’S NOT STEALING. When you characterize it as stealing, you throw out all of the nuance and insight into the nature of the problem, and it makes a rational discussion about it almost impossible.

Now, I agree that so-called software pirates have an incredibly entitled attitude. Nobody is entitled to getting creative works for free. I’m not saying illegally copying stuff is okay. I’m just saying it’s not the same as stealing.

As for it not being a problem: look at the entertainment industry’s profits. They went through a recession like every other industry, but they are faring better relative to most. If Internet piracy is such a huge problem, why are so many people still paying for movies, cable subscriptions, videogames, and music? The industry wants to count all instances of illegal copying as “lost profits,” which is incredibly stupid since many pirates likely would not spend their money on the product to begin with. And piracy can have positive effects, like spreading exposure to media to potential paying customers.

To me, Internet piracy is like jaywalking. It’s illegal. In extreme cases, it can cause major problems. But it’s impossible to stop everywhere, and in most cases nobody is harmed from it. And I would prefer a low level of background jaywalking to a major enforcement campaign where significant police resources were dedicated to arresting and imprisoning jaywalkers.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo Most of the SOPA debate is not actually about the various ethical debates around internet piracy, it’s about the practicality of SOPA. Like, does SOPA actually prevent piracy? The answer most people (regardless of their stance on piracy) have come up with is, no, SOPA actually does very little to prevent piracy. It hands out incredibly stiff punishments for piracy (like for uploading a single Michael Jackson song, you could get 5 years, which is one more than the doctor who killed him), but it wouldn’t actually take down major pirating sites like The Pirate Bay, and most people who are dedicated to pirating know how to get around SOPA, both legally and technologically. It tends to be harsher to people who don’t really intend to violate copyright, but do accidentally (like maybe someone who took a video of their child doing something adorable, forgetting that the radio was on in the background, and then put that video – and thus the copyrighted song – up on YouTube).

flo's avatar

@Qingu Point taken on ”The most important is that if you take something from my house, I no longer have it. This is fundamentally different from making a copy of something. If you make a copy of a song I purchased on iTunes, I still have the song. I lose nothing.”

But still, it is not the people who created the prodcut who are allowing me to copy it if I came in (with your permission or not) and copied your itunes copy. It is not mine it is not yours. Is anti SOPA’ position that it is okay to deprive the creator, as long as it is me, the “little guy” doing the depriving?

All these paragraphs above are justifications for doing the wrong thing, i.e depriving creatrors from making a living by having control over their own products. Are you going to keep referring to the big corporations/industry again? I keep trying to get you to address the individual artist, and me. Should I refrain from doing what the individual creator doesn’t want me to do or not?

@Aethelflaed..SOPA actually does very little to prevent piracy. It hands out incredibly stiff punishments for piracy…” Where is the suggested solution from anti SOPA people?

By the way @Qingu ”...some of the answers people have given are pretty counterfactual and misleading)
which parts?

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed I can see the adorable child example on you tube case being intentional too.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo There is no one suggestion from anti-SOPA people, because there are so many different viewpoints within it. I think you’re under the impression that to be anti-SOPA is to be for piracy, and that’s simply not the case. People in favor of piracy make up a smaller portion of anti-SOPA people than people who are against piracy, but also against SOPA. There are tons of free speech advocates, human rights advocates, artists and other creative types, people with online businesses, people with websites, etc who are against SOPA. Fluther is against SOPA, and also against piracy. Mostly, people just think that whatever should be done about piracy, SOPA isn’t it. However, there is already something being done about piracy; from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1996, websites have to take down infringing material once they are notified of it.

So many artists are against SOPA. It doesn’t help them. Like Jonathan Coulton, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, Adam Savage, Damian Kulash, Andy Samburg, Wil Wheaton, Megan Rose Gedris… The list goes on and on. SOPA/PIPA are supported mainly by the MPAA and the RIAA, who are not artists.

This is a really good video explaining SOPA/PIPA.

Ok, maybe it is intentional. So what? Does that woman deserve 5 years in prison for uploading it? Is it really that big a deal? Is anyone failing to purchase a Michael Jackson song because they can listen to a radio air that’s been captured on a crappy camcorder and has tons of other noises going on that’s then been uploaded to YouTube?

flo's avatar

“There is no one suggestion from anti-SOPA people, because there are so many different viewpoints within it.” There must be more than one suggested solution then.
And what are the differnt viewpoints?

So, again Should I refrain from doing what the individual creator doesn’t want me to do or not? Very simple.

flo's avatar

Is there noone who could present the facts without any advocacy?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Should I refrain from doing what the individual creator doesn’t want me to do or not? There often isn’t one individual creator, it’s a collaborative process. And, sure, if you want to. I’m not going to tell you what to do. However, some creators have unusual and unreasonable demands.

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed ” And, sure, if you want to, I’m not going to tell you what to do”.
You just lost the debate. That is a non answer.

However, some creators have unusual and unreasonable demands.” And?, therefore?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo Exactly when did this become a debate? You asked for some explanations to give a 12 year old. You have received plenty. If you aren’t satisfied with them, you should do your own research.

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed it became a debate in the middle of it.

Like I said, Is there noone who could present the facts without any advocacy?

phaedryx's avatar

@flo I can’t see how you can look at the facts without “advocacy”. Here are some facts:

1. “Hollywood” contributes money to the campaigns of certain congressmen, e.g. Lamar Smith

2. The purchased congressmen create bills that are solely in the interests of big media

3. They don’t allow anyone with any technical expertise to testify about the bills

4. The people who developed the technologies (e.g. Vint Cerf) that the internet uses oppose the bills

5. Security experts (including those working for the government) opposed the bills

6. Companies that depend on the internet oppose the bills

7. People who understand anything about the internet oppose the bills. This group doesn’t include the congressmen who created the bills. They admit repeatedly during the hearings that they don’t.

8. A huge online protest is staged, many of the congressmen back down

9. Chris Dodd (the ex-senator, now lobbyist) threatens that the congressmen who didn’t stay bought are going to be cut off

Qingu's avatar

@flo, once again: I am not trying to justify piracy. Nowhere in any of my posts did I say that illegal copying is okay. I simply said it’s not the same as stealing.

As for addressing the “individual artist,” I think artists should be paid for their work. How and when that happens is an extremely complex question. Many artists are fine with freely distributing their work, or at least some of their work. Many independent musicians today make most of their money from concerts and selling merchandise, not from selling music. There are many ways to distribute artistic work and there are many ways to pay artists, some more direct than others. The Internet has upended it and I don’t think there is a simple solution or one-size-fits-all answer.

I think the existence of freeloaders is inevitable, however. And that is just something artists are going to have to realistically accept. You can’t turn back technology, and the public won’t support crippling technology so that one interest group (artists) can maintain their existing revenue stream.

By the way, many many individual artists are vehemently opposed to SOPA and PIPA.

flo's avatar

@phaedryx What is the other side saying about the facts?

About the inarguable things, you can go ahead and answer my 2 questions:

1)Should I deprive, creators of right to make a living off their work any way they want to?

@Qingu‘s position is yes they should be. “_the existence of freeloaders is inevitable, however. And that is just something artists are going to have to realistically accept.” That doesn’t make the anti- SOPA look good at all.

2)Where are the suggested solutions?

@Qingu would you answer my question above: “By the way @Qingu ”...some of the answers people have given are pretty counterfactual and misleading) which parts?”

Many independent musicians today make most of their money from concerts and selling merchandise, not from selling music.” Why could that be?

By the way, many many individual artists are vehemently opposed to SOPA and PIPA.”
That doesn’t answer the question/s I am posing.

Coming up with statements that help maintain encourage piracy, not the reverse, while you say “Nobody is entitled to getting creative works for free (which happens my position) I’m not saying illegally copying stuff is okay.

By the way I am not only referring to artists when I use the word “creators.”

HungryGuy's avatar

@flo – I presented the facts without any advocacy.

flo's avatar

Re. 4th line above: “s position is yes they should be. ...”
Please read “Yes I should be depriving people…”

@HungryGuy Noooot at all.

phaedryx's avatar

@flo I have a hard time accepting most of the counter “facts” (e.g. the piracy facts motivating SOPA). They claim SOPA, jobs will be destroyed, but don’t have much evidence to back that up. On the other hand, the tech industry is strong and is creating far more jobs. They say that technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem, which is funny because the websites that protested did so at their users’ requests and the technology businesses were barred from speaking at. It is hard to “come to the table” when they don’t allow you there.

To address your point, I think everyone agrees that creators should be compensated. That’s not even a point of contention. I can think of a lot of exceptions to “making a living any way they want to”, but I’ll ignore that for now. The real issue is about the companies that control and distribute media trying to maintain the status quo with laws. I’ve got to go to bed, I’ll elaborate tomorrow.

Qingu's avatar

@flo, you said,

“Qingu’s position is yes they should be. “_the existence of freeloaders is inevitable, however. And that is just something artists are going to have to realistically accept.” That doesn’t make the anti- SOPA look good at all.

And why is that? Freeloaders were a problem before the Internet. They’ll be a problem after the Internet. Would my position look better if I operated under the delusion that freeloading was a problem with an easy solution?

As for a solution—I’m pretty okay with the status quo. I think people who make profits by uploading other people’s copyrighted stuff, like Megaupload, should be arrested. I don’t think we need to spend law enforcement time or effort, or cripple the Internet, to go after people who are just downloading copyrighted songs. Artists won’t get their money from such people, but that’s not the end of the world, and there might even be positive externalities.

Beyond that, any “solution” to the problem will be laughably temporary. Pirates will always find a way to build the next thing in the arms race. That doesn’t mean we should be complacent, I’m just trying to get you to accept the fact that this problem isn’t going to go away with a wave of your hand, and may often require us to consider tradeoffs between the “solutions” and negative effects caused by solutions.

I would also like you to consider just how big a problem piracy is in the grand scheme of things. Considering media companies are raking in the profits, my conclusion is “not very.” Jaywalking is also illegal, but it’s not a very big problem in the grand scheme of things, so you won’t see me proposing “solutions” to solve the problem of jaywalking so that motorists can be secure.

As for counterfactual statements, I was thinking of HungryGuy’s.

Qingu's avatar

Oh, and I think a lot of “solutions” lie with the media companies and not law enforcement. When I buy a DVD, I have to sit through 30 minutes of commercials and other shit to get to an often pointless and inoperable menu. When I pay for stuff I download, those files are usually crippled with DRM. PIrates offer better products over better distribution channels.

I don’t download stuff from pirates, but I imagine media companies could get more paying customers if they actually offered better products and services. iTunes is the big success story here.

flo's avatar

@Qingu still is not making it any better for anti SOPA side, still just justifications for doing the wrong thing.
And what is @HungryGuy‘s counterfactual statement? I seem to be pulling teeth

@phaedryx wouldn’t it be better for the SOPA people to be presenting their facts here instead though?

??To address your point, I think everyone agrees that creators should be compensated. That’s not even a point of contention.” ?? What else is it then?

Right after your ”I think everyone agrees that creators should be compensated. That’s not even a point of contention.”, you contradict yourself:
“I can think of a lot of exceptions to “making a living any way they want to”, but I’ll ignore that for now.” And it is a lot of exceptions.

If you don’t all have the position:
“I should not do what the owner of the creation doesn’t want me to do, whether it is one individual or not, whether there is an ”...isssue with the companies that control and distribute media trying to maintain the status quo with laws” and however many artists, et al, are giving it away, or is quote unquote willing to be ripped off…”

Qingu's avatar

@flo, you’re just demonstrating that you’re either not reading what I’m saying or that you are incapable of understanding nuance.

And I frankly don’t give a shit how you perceive my argument in terms of how it reflects the “anti-SOPA” side. I care about facts. You should too.

HungryGuy's avatar

My statement is not counterfactual. I stated the precise reason why most businesses and corporations back SOPA.

Qingu's avatar

It has nothing to do with people “chatting and having fun” on sites like Facebook and Fluther.

Unless your definition of “chatting and having fun” involves hyperlinking to illegally uploaded copyrighted material.

Google is also much more of a specific target of those industries than Facebook or Q&A sites.

HungryGuy's avatar

It has everything to so with banning sites. The issue of stopping piracy is just an thinly-veiled excuse by our corporate overlords to justify their blatant power grab to censor websites that compete with theirs.

flo's avatar

@Qingu…you are incapable of understanding nuance.”
If one is committed to doing one’s part in not depriving others of their livelihood, one doesn’t need “nuance”.

What is each individual’s role in the existance of the pirates? Is that not the same as drug dealers and their buyers?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo You know, some people posted various links. Maybe if you went and read/watched the material on those links, these questions of yours would be answered.

flo's avatar

@Qingu Edit: ...maybe not quite exactly the relashinship between drug dealers and drug buyers if you are not buying from the pirates, exactly, but the general principle stands. Pirates, and people who are “not profiting”, are both depriving the creators.

@Aethelflaed I trust you did a good job at summerizing what those links are saying. And your response ”...sure, if you want to” is it. That is “Deprive people of their livelihood if you want to”. Is what they are saying? With a lot of justifications?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo No, I didn’t do a good job of summerizing them, that’s why I posted them, because I didn’t want to take the time to write it all out again (and the video from TED is really top-notch). And, no, I didn’t say you should deprive people of their livelihoods if you wanted to. I said you should respect the individual creator if you want to. Me, it depends on the individual creator, and their demands. If JJ Abrams wants me to only watch the latest Star Trek movie while eating cottage cheese, well, then he’s in for some bad news. Some creators don’t want their fans to re-imagine their works in certain ways, even thought they often don’t have a legal case for stopping fans from doing just that.

Look, I’m just going to copy a part from Jonathon Coulton’s blog I think you really should read:
Even some of the illegal usage was likely the kind of activity that approaches what I consider to be victimless piracy: people downloading stuff they already bought but lost, people downloading stuff they missed on TV and couldn’t find on Netflix or iTunes, people downloading stuff they didn’t like and regretted watching or hearing and never would have bought anyway, people downloading a Jonathan Coulton album (oh let’s say, Artificial Heart, the new Jonathan Coulton album, which is an awesome Jonathan Coulton album called Artificial Heart) and loving it so much that in a year they decide to buy a ticket to a Jonathan Coulton show and walk up to the merch table and hand me $20. I know not everyone will think all of those things are victimless crimes, and even I can admit that some of them maybe kinda sorta have victims, but my point is that you can’t easily say that every illegal download is a lost sale, because it’s a lot more complicated than that. So when you evaluate the “damage” that [file sharing websites are] causing, you have to think about these things too.

…[Pirating is] an emergency is it? Tim [O’Reilly] points out that he and a lot of other content creators have been happily coexisting with piracy all this time, and I’m certainly one of them. Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV. A lot of us have figured out how to do this.

So if you can stand me sounding a little crazy, listen: where is the proof that piracy causes economic harm to anyone? Looking at the music business, yes profits have gone down ever since Napster, but has anyone effectively demonstrated the causal link between that and piracy? There are many alternate theories (people buying songs and not whole albums, music sucking more, niches and indie acts becoming more viable, etc.). The Swiss government did a study and determined that unauthorized downloading (which ⅓ of their citizens do) does not create any loss in revenue for the entertainment industry. I remember but am now too lazy to find links to other studies that say the same thing. I can’t think of any study I’ve seen that demonstrates the opposite. If there is one, please point me to it. So I have a lot of trouble with the idea that the federal government is directing resources toward an ultimately ineffective game of piracy whack-a-mole (with some unknown amount of collateral damage to law-abiding citizens), when we are not even sure that piracy is a problem.

And if you can stand me sounding even crazier, here is this: making money from art is not a human right. It so happens that technological and societal blahbity bloos have conspired to create a situation where selling songs about monkeys and robots is a viable business, but for most of human history people have NOT paid for art. I don’t want this to happen again, and I would be very sad if this came to pass, but it’s not up to me to decide. We are constantly demonstrating through our actions what we believe to be the norms for acquiring and consuming content. Right now a lot of us think that it’s OK to download stuff through illegal sites under certain circumstances, and a lot of us think it’s totally fine to use those things to make videos and put them on YouTube even though YouTube profits from it. That’s not ME saying that, that’s US saying that – we’re a nation of pirates and infringers. Based on our behavior, you would not be wrong to deduce that some of us think funny videos on YouTube are more important than honoring intellectual property rights. This kind of thing has happened before. Entire industries rise and fall as the world changes and our priorities shift. Sorry.

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed justifications for doing the wrong thing, all the same.

flo's avatar

“I don’t want you all to pay for my art, take it”
You shouldn’t make a living from your art. I get to decide whether I rip you off or not.”

Qingu's avatar

@flo, I don’t understand why you think you can get away with simply repeating slogans instead of having a nuanced discussion about this topic. If you are either unable or unwilling to understand how intellectual property is fundamentally different from physical property, I don’t even see why I should waste my time talking to you about this subject.

And your kind of willful ignorance is why people like me are so disgusted with SOPA supporters—people like me who don’t pirate and don’t like pirates, but who think our policy and laws should be based on facts rather than emotional reactions to the word “stealing.”

flo's avatar

@Qingu Intellectual or not intellectual, it is not yours. This is not about digital technology etc.

phaedryx's avatar

I’m sorry, I don’t see the contradiction.

How about: “I want to make a living by taking measures that destroy growth in the economy” or “I want to make a living by extreme censorship of my competitors” or “I want to make a living by replicating the government controls of Iran and China”. No, I do not want people to make a living “any way they want to”. You have to weigh the needs and rights of everyone involved and make a good decision.

Here’s the argument/motivation behind SOPA: there are entities who aren’t subject to US law (foreign sites, foreign countries, whatever) who are violating US copyright laws. However, there are entities who are subject to US law that we think make it easier for the copyright violators and there should be a way to destroy them. The problem is that it will just force the search engines, ad networks, Q&A sites, etc. to also go somewhere where they won’t be subject to US law.

However, here’s the real problem: scarcity vs. abundance. Traditionally, distributing and controlling creative works has been done through controlling the supply. For example, if you wanted to watch a movie you had to have a ticket. If you gave that ticket to a friend, he or she could go to the movie but you could not. You’d have to buy another ticket if you wanted to go with your friend. If you wanted to listen to music you had to buy the CD. If you were interested in an author you had to buy their book. The artist, musician, author, etc. had their work tied to something physical. This necessitated that they partner with a distributor, label, or publisher in order to get copies of their works in the hands of a consumer and to be compensated. It was value from controlling supply and demand. If the supply is limited (scarce) and there is demand then it has value.

However, not everything is valued based on scarcity. Consider this scenario: there is only one fax machine in the entire world. What is the value of that fax machine? Zero. Nada. Zilch. Now a second fax machine is introduced into the world. What is its value? Much better. It can send a fax to the first fax machine so it is actually useful. However, what is the value of the first fax machine now? It can send faxes too, so it has increased in value. In fact, every new fax machine added increases the value of every fax machine. Isn’t that interesting? It is abundance that makes it valuable, not scarcity.

So what if you operate under scarcity-value and suddenly you can’t control the supply? That’s what we’re seeing right now. It is easy to use technology to digitize, copy, and distribute creative works. For those who rely on the traditional model you’ve got to create scarcity through artificial means (like passing a bunch of restrictive laws). However, what creates value when everything is easy to digitize, copy, and distribute? Make it convenient for people. Make it easy for people to find what they want. Make it a good experience. Apple figured this out and make a killing with the iTunes store. It also demonstrated that when people have an option of a free, illegal option or a paid legitimate option, many people will actually pay for the legitimate choice. They actually want to support the creators, they just also want a convenient format and a good experience.

How about “I want to make a living by abusing my legitimate customers”? It happens all of the time. If I want to watch a DVD (that I paid for) I have to sit through the ads at the beginning, the warnings, etc.; it is a pain. If I were to pirate a version of that same movie (I don’t pirate, but it sure is tempting) I could get it for free and it is a better experience. I wouldn’t have to sit through ads, I wouldn’t have to worry about what region I’m in, I would get it in a convenient format that I could easily transfer to other devices.

How about “I want to make a living through forced upgrades”? It happens all of the time in the textbook industry. Numerous times while I was in college I’d try to sell back my used textbooks back, only to discover that a new edition had been released so they wouldn’t buy them back. The new edition would change some of the page numbers and problems, just enough that you couldn’t use older versions in class.

Here’s the secret that content creators are learning: they don’t need somebody between them and their consumers. Distribution is easier now that it ever has been. Today the State Office of Education here in Utah announced they will be printing their own textbooks. The pilot program was hugely successful and at a “cost of about $5 per book, compared to an average cost of about $80 for a typical high school science textbook.” They think it will save millions of dollars. Do you like Louis CK’s comedy? You can buy his latest work directly from his website. He produced it. He gets the profits from it. I’m a fan of Jonathan Coulton. I can buy his music straight from him, from his website.

(I wrote this on the bus this morning. I hope it makes sense.)

Qingu's avatar

How are SOPA and PIPA not about digital technology?

And what exactly do you want to hear from me, @flo? I agree that pirates are doing something illegal (like jaywalkers, who I also don’t like). I think the pirates’ position in these debates is entitled nonsense. I think people who upload other people’s intellectual property and make profits off of it should be arrested and prosecuted.

On the other hand, I don’t think we need to cripple the Internet to stop piracy. Likewise, I don’t think we need to shoot jaywalkers to stop jaywalking.

Do you think we should cripple the Internet to stop piracy, flo?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo Ok, fine, you’re against pirating. So what? Why does that mean you automatically have to be for SOPA? It isn’t pirating vs SOPA. I’m really honestly confused, because you keep fighting all these points about how piracy is bad, and then no one is disagreeing with you (though many are saying it’s more complicated), but that they’re still against SOPA, and telling you why, and then you make more points about how pirating is bad… It’s like it’s 2 different conversations.

Also, another thing to consider is that China (as in, the Great Firewall of China?), a country with very little problem violating human rights in massive ways, can’t really do much about pirating. If China can’t do much about pirating, how can we do much about pirating while still being a free country that has respect for human rights? Is pirating such a big wrong that it’s worth letting hackers get people’s credit card and bank info? That people who run small businesses and big businesses on the internet go belly-up (which, if the argument is that piracy is bad for the economy, you really don’t want to trade one small dent in the economy for a bigger one)? That people don’t create as much art for fear of censorship, thus diminishing that economy anyway?

flo's avatar

@Qingu Re. “I don’t understand why you think you can get away with simply repeating…”
I already responded about nuance:
“If one is committed to doing one’s part in not depriving others of their livelihood, one doesn’t need “nuance
You are the one who is repeating, with ”…instead of having a nuanced discussion about this topic” .

All those words, @Qingu, @phaedryx , @Aethelflaed, you all remind me of addicts:
1) “the government makes money from taxes on cigarette sales”, .....endless excuses instead of just quiting smoking.

phaedryx's avatar

@flo

So, I take it you didn’t read my last answer?

Just so you know, I don’t pirate media. I have paid for all of my music and movies.

Your comment about “endless excuses instead of just quitting smoking” makes no sense.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@flo Ok, you’re the one calling us all addicts (regardless of if we actually pirate or not), so it seems like you’re the one who’s hostile and uncivil. If you don’t agree, why are you still talking about it? It seems like you’re not actually presenting any side of your own other than to say that we’re horrible, immoral addicts, so I don’t know why we’re still having this conversation.

flo's avatar

@phaedryx All these problems of cigarette addiction – just health problems, never mind the rest – how huge is the problem? Huge. It is like you are talking about smugglers and so on and so on when I am referring to each individual’s role. The smoker.

@Aethelflaed I am saying deal with this one thing that matters the most.

phaedryx's avatar

@flo what in the world are you talking about? I’m talking about SOPA.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo Would you agree that there is at least one criminal in Sweden? If so, do you think we are justified in dropping nuclear bombs on the country to ensure that the criminal never does anything illegal ever again?

Qingu's avatar

If you think Internet piracy is the “most” pressing matter to deal with in today’s world, or even in the American economy, you are simply delusional.

flo's avatar

@Qingu I am saying deal with this one thing that matters the most.the ’‘most’’ is about the role of each person other than the pirate.

Those other people the pirates, not me.
Technology the bad guy made me do it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo I notice you didn’t answer my question.

flo's avatar

@SavoirFaire Those other people the pirates, not me. responds to it. Or if you want,
‘That other person in Sweden, the pirate, not me’ . You are still talking about someone else. I didn’t think the criminal you were referring to in Sweden is you.

Qingu's avatar

I am lost as to what point you think you are trying to make.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo If that is supposed to be a response, then I will request that you at least use complete sentences. I have no idea what you are trying to say. I asked two very specific questions, each of which can be answered with a yes or a no.

flo's avatar

This is not about digital technology, the first thing, I am repeating myself. @SavoirFaire if you read my posts you wouldn’t be asking me that question. You may ask someone else maybe but not me. Not applicable.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo I have read your posts, and I’m still asking. Please stop dodging the questions.

flo's avatar

@SavoirFaire an authority dodges a question, someone who claims to have the answer dodges the question. I don’t claim to have the answer so…that word is not applicable here.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo You don’t think you have an answer to the question of whether or not there is at least one criminal in Sweden? You don’t think you have an answer to the question of whether or not it is justifiable to drop nuclear bombs on the country to ensure that the criminal never does anything illegal ever again? That seems unlikely to me, especially since I’d be happy with just your opinion with regard to the second question. So again, please answer.

flo's avatar

@phaedryx Imagine if you addressed @SavoirFaire with “Where did you get that preposterous senario from?” and why are you attaching @flo to it?”
and I didn’t either And if even @flo answered “yes” it just means that it completely wouldn’t make sense, something is wrong with this picture, it just doesn’t compute that @flo goes with crimes against humanity territory. Let’s not do that. It is not like a game where we score where our opponent fails.”

flo's avatar

…My point is at least give the impression (not really) that you are taclking a topic, not just tackling a person no matter how right they are how wrong you are.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo I notice you’re still not answering, passive aggressive silliness aside. Why are you afraid of my question?

flo's avatar

@SavoirFaire you got me, isn’t it obvious that you got me? That is why I am afraid of your question.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flo Fair enough.

flo's avatar

^^^^^^^^ÔMG!

flo's avatar

Why does that mean you automatically have to be for SOPA?
My “Intellectual or not, it is not yours” means I am for SOPA?

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