Some thoughts on the file-swapping ruling

Down with Kazaa and their ilk

Monday, June 27, 2005 by Draginol | Discussion: Industry

Over on the WinCustomize.com news page I gave my two cents on today's ruling.  Based on the poll I saw on News.com, 2 out of 3 people disagree with the ruling.  What a shock.  "But...I don't want to have to pay for other people's work..I want it for free.." 

I know a lot of people who pirate software, games, music, movies, etc.  I don't harp to them about it.  What ticks me off are the companies that actually make a business model out of serving pirates.  eDonkey and Kazaa and the like made millions of dollars by enabling people to steal other people's stuff.

And in turn, they have harmed consumers in ways most people don't realize. Copy protection has gotten nastier, DRM has become a household term, and licenses have gotten more and more restrictve.  Not that such schemes don't get cracked -- they do -- but the record industry (whom I'm no fan of either) and the like have figured out that those who don't pirate can be made to buy more stuff with more DRM to make up for those who would have bought stuff but were able to download it for free from Kazaa or something.

Such services cheapen the value of hard work too.  The other day I read someone complaining how WindowBlinds was "too expensive".  It's twenty bucks for crying out loud.  That's just a bit more than a Pizza dinner.  A decent cooking knife costs $50. An AutoScanner is $140 (and I can tell you with some experience that the production/profit margins on these things is pretty significant). Cheap shoes are $50.  Stuff costs money.  Yet we'll see someone complain that a software product that took years to perfect that people run every day for years that costs $20 is too expensive.  And why? Because places like Kazaa have made software look worthless. 

People will complain about paying $40 for a game that took two years to develop and provides support to the user but you rarely hear the same people think twice about paying $40 for a small box of legos where the buyer will never interact with the company.  Places like Kazaa and their ilk devalue intellectual property.  And the results hurt us all in ways that people don't realize. 

Software piracy isn't as huge of a deal as many make it out to be, but the mainstreaming of it through these peer-to-peer services were steadily making piracy something that even the newbie down the street was able to do which definitely takes revenue away from hard working software developers, musicians, etc.

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Dracil
Reply #41 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 4:37 AM
Considering I can get two very large pizzas with cheese-crusted crusts, and a decent amount of toppings for $9, yes, $20 is a lot.

Remember, when you talk about the internet, you have to keep in mind the prices of goods in places OTHER than the US.

In any case, no matter what happens to P2P, we'll have more people complaining about matter replicators as "theft" in the future when we finally perfect that technology.
Jafo
Reply #42 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:56 AM

Citizen Ka806  ...... This Site....and this forum.... in which you spout your 'slant' on who should need to 'zip it' is brought to you [almost] wholely by the person you are telling to 'zip it'.

Without Stardock and its funding/coding/administration this site would not exist.....hence comments in #40 are pretty bloody relevent AND cogent.

If Frogboy deemed the Internet 'too open' he could help 'close it' a little by pulling the plug on this site.......gosh, you'd have to scurry off elsewhere to make your voice heard then, wouldn't you? 

Someone who actively participates within the skinning community on more levels than you could poke a stick at really has a fundamental cogniscence about what it is to be a businessman within the skinning community, being one of the first, and arguably most significant.  If he says 'Bram Cohen' is a low-life it probably means he's a low-life, and you can take that as gospel.

But nay......everyone has a right to be 'heard'....even those who bump into walls.....

bakerstreet
Reply #43 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 12:57 PM
"The other day I was looking around to see how widely available our stuff is from thieves. I found Orion icons up there. What's the excuse to pirate Orion icon's? They're what? $8? The effort involved in creating thousands of icons should be obvious to anyone and yet there they were, people pirating them."


Urm, is this the part where I'm not supposed to mention that Wincustomize is stuffed full of trademarked and ripped icons that have (barely) been modded by "skinners"? Or not? I can't remember...

"and then they put in nags to donate money to them via paypal. What is their excuse for needing donations? What's their "overhead"?"


What's your overhead giving away stuff on Wincustomize? Evidently millions of people downloading a program costs something, even if it costs the company nothing thereafter.

"There's a big difference between someone pirating an MP3 and someone making money helping people pirate that same MP3."


And an even larger difference between those and Asian organized crime that pirates whole CDs hundreds a day and sells them all over the world. Should we make the copying machines they use illegal to own?

I have a problem with villifying an object or a technology because of how people use it. I understand that you are saying that implementation is the problem here, and honestly you're probably right. What this does, though, is creates a chilling effect on P2P as a whole.

I'd feel much better about it if the government wasn't being lobbied into a stance on P2P by people who'd rather strongarm politicians than actually secure their own product. What if the record company had tried to outlaw, say, flea markets back in the 1980's when cassette tape piracy was so big? Now, though, they can take down internet communities simply because abusive people use them.

Jafo can laugh the "insignificant" numbers off if he likes, but usually as a culture we don't villify a resource simply because it is abusable. Now, though, we seem to want to treat society as if it is a kindergarden class, and get rid of anything pointy, or anything we might choke ourselves on. Sad way to look at humanity.
bakerstreet
Reply #44 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 1:20 PM
As for bittorrent, I would think that small companies would start embracing it as a way to reduce the cost of distributing their software. I have downloaded Linux images from it, and I have seen trailers and other media distributed on it.

bittorrent is a golden example of how p2p could work with business, and possibly an example of how business could thoughtlessly torpedo a technology that could work for them. The idea that bittorrent is just another 'napster' style piracy program overlooks the massive amounts of legitimate use there is, both private and commercial.
Tarkus
Reply #45 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 1:58 PM
What BakerStreet said.

There is a reason why even Microsoft is embracing BitTorrent technology.


Posted via WinCustomize Browser/Stardock Central
Ka806
Reply #46 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:14 PM
Citizen Ka806 ...... This Site....and this forum.... in which you spout your 'slant' on who should need to 'zip it' is brought to you [almost] wholely by the person you are telling to 'zip it'.

Without Stardock and its funding/coding/administration this site would not exist.....hence comments in #40 are pretty bloody relevent AND cogent.

If Frogboy deemed the Internet 'too open' he could help 'close it' a little by pulling the plug on this site.......gosh, you'd have to scurry off elsewhere to make your voice heard then, wouldn't you?

Someone who actively participates within the skinning community on more levels than you could poke a stick at really has a fundamental cogniscence about what it is to be a businessman within the skinning community, being one of the first, and arguably most significant. If he says 'Bram Cohen' is a low-life it probably means he's a low-life, and you can take that as gospel.

But nay......everyone has a right to be 'heard'....even those who bump into walls.....


What he did in the past is not relevant to what where talking about now. I thank Frogboy for his contributions, but that does not give him any sort of immunity as to what he says in this forum.
If he says things like that without knowing what is being said, then he will here it from me. Without paying customers (which I am myself) for products from stardock, YOU guys wouldn't exsist, so dont go around thinking your better than me, cause i really dont appreciate it. Just because he contributed so much to the site, doesnt mean hes just right, or that he knows more than me.

Frogboy DOES NOT know how and why bittorrent was created, so he shouldnt be talking about its creator like that.

Theres no need for you to respond for him. If he is offended by what I said, he can say so himself.
Urm, is this the part where I'm not supposed to mention that Wincustomize is stuffed full of trademarked and ripped icons that have (barely) been modded by "skinners"? Or not? I can't remember...


Yup mabey the "funders/coders/administrators" can take their "I know more than you attitude" and address issues like that...Or tell me yet again that this situation is different from the current intellectual property situation and that they are doing no wrong.
Frogboy
Reply #47 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:31 PM


Yeah um i dont want to sound rude or anything but i do feel the need to tell you to zip it. I doubt you even used bit torrent or know how it works. Bittorrent is THE way to share linux distributions securely and effectively. Getting on Bram for making the protocol and the client is like getting on the ARPANET developers for making what we know as the internet today.

It's always amusing when some ass comes on and tries to assume that those he disagrees with are ignorant.  Um duh, ya, that bittorrent stuff is, um, so complicated.  The only thing stupid I see here is you comparing ARPANET with Bit Torrent.  P2P technology is not the issue.  But the open ended search engines that make use of it that cause a problem.

Let me put it another way: There's nothing wrong with web pages in general right? But a website that provides links to cracks is a problem.  The Bittorent technology unto itself is fine.  But Bram's beg-ware website that searches through all the torrents out there is a problem because there's really little legitimate reason for such a search other than to enable much easier warezing.

If you have no idea how Linux would spread without it, well, I don't know what cave you've been living in. You certainly don't need a torrent search engine to install or "spread" Linux.

kona0197
Reply #48 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:35 PM
Great points Bakerstreet and Ka806.
Frogboy
Reply #49 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:37 PM

Urm, is this the part where I'm not supposed to mention that Wincustomize is stuffed full of trademarked and ripped icons that have (barely) been modded by "skinners"? Or not? I can't remember...

By your logic, every fan site on the net should be closed down too.  WC doesn't contain, to my knowledge, any commercial (i.e. stuff that is for sale) copyrighted material.  We also protect people's intellectual property very aggressively.  We do, however, allow fan art. That is, someone who wants to make a Superman theme is free to do so.

In legal circles, there's a very big difference between what you're complaining about and software piracy.  Feel free to consult a lawyer on the issue if you'd like.

bittorrent is a golden example of how p2p could work with business, and possibly an example of how business could thoughtlessly torpedo a technology that could work for them. The idea that bittorrent is just another 'napster' style piracy program overlooks the massive amounts of legitimate use there is, both private and commercial.

Strawman argument since no one is saying the bittorrent program is a napster style program.  My complaint has to do with the torrent search engine Bram runs and begs for money on. 

BTW, WinCustomize costs about $200k to run each year.  Perhaps someone should put us in our place and start up a P2P based skinning site.  But in the meantime, spare me the strawman arguments.  Broadening my complaint to include the underlying technology is intellectually dishonest.

 

Ka806
Reply #50 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:40 PM
It's always amusing when some ass comes on and tries to assume that those he disagrees with are ignorant. Um duh, ya, that bittorrent stuff is, um, so complicated. The only thing stupid I see here is you comparing ARPANET with Bit Torrent. P2P technology is not the issue. But the open ended search engines that make use of it that cause a problem.

Let me put it another way: There's nothing wrong with web pages in general right? But a website that provides links to cracks is a problem. The Bittorent technology unto itself is fine. But Bram's beg-ware website that searches through all the torrents out there is a problem because there's really little legitimate reason for such a search other than to enable much easier warezing.

If you have no idea how Linux would spread without it, well, I don't know what cave you've been living in. You certainly don't need a torrent search engine to install or "spread" Linux.


Yeah Im pretty sure you have NO idea how bittorrent or its clients work. Thats all I have to say.
Frogboy
Reply #51 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:43 PM
You're right, that is all you have to say.
kona0197
Reply #52 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:45 PM
WC doesn't contain, to my knowledge, any commercial copyrighted material.


Lets see:

You have several skins using images from Star Wars that are copyrighted by Lucas Arts. You have several skins using Disney graphics and fonts that are copyrighted by Disney. You have Harry Potter and The Matrix skins that use images copyrighted by Warner Bros.

Give me some time I could come up with more...
Frogboy
Reply #53 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:48 PM
Kona - again, by that logic, every fan site on the net should be shut down.  To compare fan art to piracy is ridiculous. 
kona0197
Reply #54 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:54 PM
Well maybe Brad.

But honestly are we not doing the same thing here? I mean we are taking copyrighted images, using them without consent, and uploading them in the form of a skin that millions download.

Technically no different than P2P and piracy correct? Stealing is stealing right?

Anyhow, thanks for listening.
Jafo
Reply #55 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:55 PM

Theres no need for you to respond for him. If he is offended by what I said, he can say so himself.

My bet is Frogboy would be simply 'bemused' rather than 'offended', and is more than capable of saying so.

It is I who is offended by such cavalier dismissal of considered opinion, hence my response. 

This 'I pay or else you wouldn't exist' is a hackneyed stance.....it's a 'the-cart-before-the-horse' statement.  Wincustomize.com would still exist if it's members didn't contribute financially....it would just be 'different'.  Now, if Stardock did not exist due to IP theft making it financially non-viable then Wincustomize.com would not exist, nor would a significant slice of the  Windows-skinning software that is the basis for the skinning community itself.

It is a safe bet that this thread topic is of significant importance/relevance to our community's viability that it has been well read and [most of] its responses are learned and astute.

As for 'Frogboy DOES NOT know how and why bittorrent was created'... I take it you do?  Lead on, McDuff.

Everyone on the planet is free to create his own skinning site if he's of the belief he can handle 'the current Intellectual Property situation' any better than Wincustomize.com.  Go for it...and God's speed....

Frogboy
Reply #56 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:59 PM

This 'I pay or else you wouldn't exist' is a hackneyed stance.....it's a 'the-cart-before-the-horse' statement. Wincustomize.com would still exist if it's members didn't contribute financially....it would just be 'different'. Now, if Stardock did not exist due to IP theft making it financially non-viable then Wincustomize.com would not exist, nor would a significant slice of the Windows-skinning software that is the basis for the skinning community itself.

Indeed.  Unless the user is an actual subscriber to WinCustomize.com, they really have no justification for spouting off attitude here.  Just because Ka (or someone like him) but Object Desktop doesn't mean he somehow contributed to WinCustomize.com.  If he was a subscriber to WC, then he could talk. 

I don't tend to get offended by what people who don't know anything about me say.  But at the same time, I'm not inclined to put up with being gratuitiously insulted either.

Jafo
Reply #57 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:01 PM

Hmmm...cache issue, I think....I thought my last comment would have been #48...

Oh, well....

Dracil
Reply #58 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:22 PM
Well, I've heard of Lucas Arts going after people for using Star Wars based things in their modifications for games...

In a way, yes, it is "illegal," but it's also often not worth their effort to go after people.

BTW a similar issue would be the doujin market in Japan, a lot of which is based on copyrighted works (basically they make new manga [often pornographic in nature] and games that are based on actual anime for sale). It's one of those gray area things I think. It's so popular that there are conventions for it. But it's supposedly also "illegal" as well, but the companies don't really care. Perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Or maybe it can be used as a sort of indirect talent search.
bakerstreet
Reply #59 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:31 PM
Brad, come on. You know as well as I do if someone decided to make a skinner's icon set "glassy" and put it up a Devart or some other site, all the kids would be raising hell. If you want to call using a resource hacker to strip every program icon on your computer to run them through a photoshop plugin and upload them, well, we have a different idea of fan art.

The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to decide where and when their art is displayed and distributed. When someone tears it up and uses the pieces to make it "cool" so they can upload it as a skin, they deny the owner that right.

Any lawyer that tells you that you can use the Star Wars trademark any way you like as long as you don't sell it needs to talk to George Lucas' lawyer. But this is an old argument, and there's no point in starting it again. This is something we have to just differ on, as we have for, oh, the last 6 years.

"BTW, WinCustomize costs about $200k to run each year. Perhaps someone should put us in our place and start up a P2P based skinning site. But in the meantime, spare me the strawman arguments. Broadening my complaint to include the underlying technology is intellectually dishonest."


Anyway, I wasn't "broadening your argument", I even stated that you are probably right in this case. I said that this kind of IP strongarming has a chilling effect on ALL P2P. YOU may not villify bittorrent, but others are, and every time this happens they pump more money into Congressmen's coffers to stifle P2P.
bakerstreet
Reply #60 Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:46 PM
P.S. I'm not saying wincusto is any worse than anyplace else about it. Most sites have the same operating procedure. If anyone complains, you take it down.

I just don't make the same distinction about "premium" versus "community" icons. If someone uploads a skinner's icons, even if they are modded, you are nice enough to take them down or reject them. I just don't see the same thing with commercial resources. I.E. I can note Jafo and say "Those icons are so-and-so's." and they come down. I note Jafo and say "Those icons are Adobe's" and they stay up.

Like I said, an old argument. I have no beef with you, or wincustomize, and I agree with what you are saying about services like Kazaa. My problem is that these industries fighting illegal P2P are also threatened by the open nature of the Internet as a whole, and they'll use these precedents to cut much deeper if they are allowed to.

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