Archive for the ‘free culture’ Category

a beautiful and “important service announcement”

April 28, 2011

Flattr (or more precisely, the email I received from them today) now seems to say something like, “if you feel you contribute, then let people shower you…even pennies, if they are so generous”. If one (or a corporation of) artist(s) and/or engineer(s) believes they contribute, they’d be wise to allow themselves flattery. Hell, even if you make things you don’t believe contribute, you might as well with this change:

we decided to drop any rules that made the service restrictive or outright complicated

And you want to put him and his helpers in jail?

p.s. I think one more restriction should be waived. Payment. It would be good to be able to flattr things for zero money and/or ideally, with an “appreciate” count (e.g. “like”, “+1”, etc.). What if we can’t afford even pennies at some time of our life, yet want to contribute by showing a way of support by tally?

p.p.s. If you (or “you”) liked this post, you can flattr it here. If you like this (more than 5 years now!) blog in general, you can flattr it here.

stupid nerd turf wars

May 21, 2010

xkcd original source

and how freedom can work

March 4, 2010


Note that step #6 (which is closely coupled to step #5) is required for DRM to have its intended effect. I recommend running a Free system (e.g. GNU) and if you must, skip straight to step #20.

More of the above will encourage the popularity and development of services (for example) that offer win-win possibilities. Such services are examples of how freedom can work.

say no to culture widgets

March 22, 2009

Doug Johnson asks Kindle questions. While I think it’s responsible (not paranoid) to voice concern over censorship, a more pointed reason why I’m so fanatically anti-DRM is that its objective is to keep individuals from sharing and creating society’s culture and knowledge. As Chomsky notes (6:52):

The ideal is to have individuals who are totally disassociated from one another – whose conception of themselves – the sense of value is just “how many created wants can I satisfy?”

In its current form, the Kindle is nothing but an attempt to package culture, turn it into “content”, and satisfy the wants of those who may otherwise be tempted to behave in a socially cooperative way. Say no to culture widgets!

i HAD to OPIne

March 11, 2009

Nate Anderson at Ars has an article labeling the drafted “HADOPI” law as “anti-P2P”, but it’s much worse. The law not only attacks p2p activities of the wired citizenry, but threatens to cut computer users off from Internet access entirely. If citizens are perceived to be sharing unauthorized works, a 3-strikes-you’re-censored response would take effect. While it’s impossible to imagine any justified trade-off in this approach, what’s proposed is insulting:

In return, French DVDs will appear a couple of months closer to their theatrical release date and music and movie groups will have to drop much of their DRM. Global music trade group IFPI thinks this is a wonderful trade-off.

So in exchange for Global Business Interests at the expense of freedom, digitized French works will be released sooner and stripped of the already ineffective technical restrictions known as DRM. If that isn’t une escroquerie, what is? “Wonderful trade-off” indeed. Beyond the imbalanced nature of this “deal” are other disasterous consequences. The law would require

home Internet users to install certain approved security software and to secure their networks.

Want to create a community of Internet users that share a public commons of bandwidth? Too bad. Doing so would prevent the recording industry from spying on your activity to peg you a “pirate”. Here, the “secure network” doublethink is language of Orwellian stature. It’s no wonder too, why ISPs might wish to support this measure. A legal measure preventing the sharing of bandwidth only serves their interests.

Finally, the insanity of this law is revealed through the handling of users who seek to share information using public wireless access points. To protect corporate media’s 20th-century business modelthe artists, this perceived problem will be taken care of using a “solution” that’s “simple”:

such hotspots would offer only a “white list” of approved websites.

Since the ability to spy on you is lost at the coffee shop or local library, the technology itself shall be declared guilty in advance and on your behalf. Vive la censure!

my home life captured by xkcd

December 2, 2008


the Foos fight McCain

October 9, 2008

MSNBC reports that the McCain campaign is being asked by the Foo Fighters to stop playing “My Hero” at political rallies. The band released a statement claiming:

To have [the song] appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song.

Only property can be “appropriated”, not copyrighted work. Unfortunately, the Foo Fighters mistakenly refer to copyright as “Intellectual Property” which just confuses the issue. However, if we insist on playing the “property” analogy game, the closest action to “appropriation” would be to claim authorship. The McCain camp did not do this.

The only way to “tarnish” a copyrighted work is to change it and distribute or perform the derivative work without notice of the adjustments. Even then, “tarnish” is really in the eye of the beholder. There is no “tarnishing” when using a context (e.g. a rally) in trying to persuade an audience toward an interpretation of an original work left intact.  And while an exception to persuasion would surely be a rally promoting hatred, the McCain campaign is at worst promoting stupidity, not hate. So long as the song’s attribution stays intact, it’s used non-commercially, and is non-derivative in nature, I lean heavily toward laws allowing such uses of published art, regardless of how much I sympathize with the Foo Fighters in this case.

Putting the law aside however, I see it in the best interest of the McCain camp to cease using the song and honor the request of the artist. Politically, they’ve nothing to gain by fighting the Foos on this one.

understanding DRM and proprietary software

June 5, 2008

Technically speaking, proprietary software is not Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Practically speaking however, proprietary software is required to implement DRM as intended. That is, without proprietary software, the circumvention of DRM becomes trivial because the effective ingredient (i.e. obfuscation) is absent. Designing DRM for free software systems is like designing Jell-O handcuffs.

copyright as “property”? – responding to Doug Johnson

March 31, 2008

Doug Johnson:

Peter, it seems to me (and I am happy to stand corrected), that you are arguing that if you can bring the cost of material and production of something to near zero, one is also obligated to bring the intangible value of that thing to zero as well. Personally, I don’t believe that.

What I’m arguing is that as the cost of copying/storage hits (virtually) zero, the illegitimate pressure put upon the public by the “property” approach is exacerbated. The “property” view (i.e. All Rights Reserved) is inherently antisocial and unethical. A prohibition on sharing is not needed to generate value for works under copyright. What all authors (and lawmakers) are morally obligated to do is allow the public to copy and share culture freely.

So, it seems to me (and I am happy to stand corrected) that Doug argues that if the public is allowed to copy and share, then the economic potential related to works under copyright is brought to (or brought close to) zero. Personally, I don’t believe that, and the evidence suggests otherwise. Forfeiting the “property” approach does not mean giving up any economic value inherent to the work whatsoever. Of course, the economic value of manufacturing material storage (e.g. CDs) and physical shipping may be diminished, but that’s the industry’s problem to solve, not the artist’s. Shipping and handling is not an artistic endeavor. In fact, any artist relying upon shipping and handling as their primary source of income is clearly not authoring art worthy of a livelihood.

Doug’s misunderstanding of my position is significant. If we really felt that artists should be “obligated” to make the value of their work “zero” then we would have to advocate such works be put anonymously in the public domain. In order for a work to have zero economic value to the artist, that artist would have to forfeit attribution and all other identifiable rights under copyright law (even then, it may be difficult to stop some economic value from reaching the artist). Of course, advocating such a position would be absurd. Such a position is the polar extreme of the 20th-century, copyright-as-“property” view Doug holds dear to.

free culture: seal of approval

February 21, 2008

Because software is work of a practical nature, users need freedoms that extend beyond works of mainly aesthetic appeal. That is, because software is functional, some normally unacceptable restrictions (derivation, commercialization) actually act as acceptable bargaining chips in the context of copyright when applied to cultural works.

While these restrictions often go against the public interest, they are not unethical and can be balanced by a reasonable time limit. Nonetheless, the impact these restrictions have on the public crosses a line worthy of definition. And for CC-licensed works not crossing that line, we now have a seal of approval.

Link via Rob Myers.