Guess the place…

By skepticlawyer

… Before using their cheat sheet [now stolen by Google Plus, sorry].

There’s a parable about the stupidity of intellectual property laws in here, too.

UPDATE 29/2/12: Especially given the fact that we’ve now had to re-source the video over eight times due to pursuit by copyright claims. Current copy is here but is subject to change and can’t always be embedded. – ADMIN DEM

The music to this is ‘Wolf’, by Swedish duo First Aid Kit, and struggle as I might, I just couldn’t buy the song online. Now I am technically useless, which is why I’m hoping someone more tech-savvy than me will turn up in the comments and tell me what to do, because I’d really like to own that song, and I want to pay for it. You know that civilisation is collapsing when you can’t find someone to take your money.

In the end, I did find ‘Wolf’ on Canadian iTunes, but it isn’t available in Australia or the UK (where I have accounts). Fat lot of good, then. The reason I want it is it goes so very well with the extraordinary footage, and I also happen to prefer paying for other people’s creative output (I am soon to start work in a firm with a significant intellectual property division; I understand why artists are often ropeable about their work being scattered far and wide without them getting a penny in return).

However, it would be nice if I could actually pay for music I like.

UPDATE 23/02/12: In excellent news, ‘Wolf’ now appears to be available to download in the iTunes store, in the UK at least (and about bloody time, girls…). Do enjoy. – ADMIN DEM

31 Comments

  1. Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    The problem has a simple solution. The purpose of an intellectual monopoly is to reward and encourage supply of the material over which the monopoly is granted. So, if you’re an intellectual monopoly owner, and if you fail to ensure supply in a particular market, you forfeit your monopoly in that market.

  2. Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Or at least that’s the way the system ought to work.

  3. derrida derider
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Step1 – Pirate the bloody song.
    Step 2 – Use that link to to send an email to the duo asking for a way to pay them. Oh, and make Gavin’s point to them while you’re at it.

  4. kvd
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    SL, I agree with your attitude to intellectual property. I think my kids were the only ones at high school not pirating music because they knew I earned my (OUR!) living from software where a similar problem exists.

    Anyway, the best I can suggest is you make direct contact with the band through the link you gave to their website, and ask permission to download the vid to your iPhone (there’s a free product called keepvid which is brilliant for this (for anything on YouTube) btw, and it gets you that lovely video in HQ for your carry round enjoyment) but asserting you will also purchase via iTunes any one of their other tracks.

    That at least puts the onus on them to provide the track through normal channels – or maybe even send you the track – which I could do, but that would be wrong, etc. etc.

    Gavin, your comment is crap. The word is property, not monopoly – and even your ‘purpose’ is a basic misunderstanding.

  5. Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh that’s very funny, LE… glad to see it’s not just me, with my technology allergy.

    I have used the keepvid as suggested – haven’t figured out how to get it onto my iPod/Phone, but at least it’s on my computer.

  6. Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    It seems the list of locations has been stolen by google plus, and you now have to sign up to google plus to see it.

    After that, google plus has just gone in my permanent ‘FOAD’ file. Apologies to all the people who are clicking the link. The list was there…

  7. Posted February 23, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Dear kvd,

    I am well aware that monopolists like the State to make their monopolies sacred by turning them into tradeable property. Not being an anarchist, I even concede that in some circumstances, and within limits, this form of State intervention is justified. But a monopoly is still a monopoly and I reserve the right to call it such, lest people forget what it is.

    Concerning the purpose of such monopolies, my use of the word “supply” was intended to cover both creation and distribution of content. I therefore stand by my position that if people are willing to pay the monopolist’s price but still can’t get access to the content, then, as far as those people are concerned, the purpose of the monopoly is defeated.

  8. Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I’m signed in to Google+ and I still can’t see it! Phooey!

  9. kvd
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    [email protected] please accept I was not attacking you, simply your comment. This post was as you say about intellectual property rights; I’ll not attempt to lump in with that the rights attaching to medical, or mechanical advances – where you might have some point.

    My comment was directed to your thought that if the owner of the intellectual property was unable, or refused, to supply their property then you felt it was basically ok to steal it. I reject that.

    Your claimed ‘right’ to enjoy the fruit of somebody else’s intellectual output at no cost to yourself is part of the cause of higher prices for legitimate supply to legitimate purchasers. Some time this century SL’s book might be published. In an unserviced market, your theory would allow unauthorised, royalty-free resale by some talentless drone who happened to have access to a copy of that work.

    And the fact that this happens all the time with books and movies and music doesn’t really alter the reality that it is theft; and renaming ‘ownership’ as ‘monopoly’ may make you feel better, but leaves SL just as unrecompensed by reason of that theft.

  10. Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    There appears to be some ongoing dispute over the clip, too — I’ve just had to find another link. It is all very curious.

  11. Posted February 23, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    kvd wrote: “if the owner of the intellectual property was unable, or refused, to supply their property then you felt it was basically ok to steal it.”

    No, I said it should be forfeited — meaning (at most) that it should enter the public domain, so that reproducing it would no longer amount to stealing it.

    What if the IP owner is a publisher rather than an author? Then forfeiture need not mean a transfer to the public domain. It could mean reversion to the author. That would be a boon to (e.g.) musicians who have been let down by their recording companies.

    Either way, the IP owner gets a pretty strong incentive to ensure continuity of supply. That’s as it should be.

  12. Posted February 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Intellectual property is one of the areas I’m particularly interested in studying. I am curious to see how the jurisprudence compares to range of views I’ve seen expressed on the issue.

    Currently, I’m more incline towards GRP’s position. Your thoughts are your own, however once you choose to share those thoughts with others they become common, not personal, property. The idea that someone can own the thoughts in my head, simply because they were the originator, sits rather uncomfortably with me. Legal limits on the ability of people to use or share information seem to be pragmatic, not moral, constraints. I see it as a form of onerous and flawed regulation of information utilisation, rather than something that ought to be comparable to other immutable ‘rights’.

    I can understand that in order to prevent society from becoming intellectually stagnant we need to provide incentive to creators, and that creation of monopoly rights is a convenient and effective way to do so. However, it’s important to continually consider the costs, not just in lost utility for those who cannot afford to pay, but also in the increased transaction costs or delays in producing derivative work (as all works essentially are).

    Much of the creative content I read or watch these days is distributed freely on-line. Without modifications to copyright legislation, such as the safe-harbour provisions in the DCMA, I doubt much of that content would have even been produced. I think we need to continually review the concept of intellectually property as the technology continues to change not just the costs, but the very nature of creative production, and ensure the legal structures are optimally encouraging creativity for the good of society.

    In an unserviced market, your theory would allow unauthorised, royalty-free resale by some talentless drone who happened to have access to a copy of that work.

    And where is the harm in that? Surely there is a basic positive as a result of people having access to a book they wish to read.

  13. kvd
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    And where is the harm in that?

    Ask SL that; she wrote the book, not me. Which is a cheap shot, so I guess “sorry” is grudgingly offered, but see later post 😉

    desipis, your “much content is distributed freely” is fine by me. Obviously the individual authors saw benefit to themselves in pursuing that course. But to extend that to some sort of general right to take any such output from any author as a “basic positive”? I’d like to repeat something here: “the individual authors saw benefit to themselves”. Gavin seems to lean more towards primacy of community benefit, while I don’t.

    Your thoughts are your own, however once you choose to share those thoughts with others they become common, not personal, property.

    You are sharing an ability to enjoy and maybe benefit, but not diluting your ownership.

  14. Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    “Gavin seems to lean more towards primacy of community benefit…”

    As opposed to the author’s benefit? How so? If, in the circumstances, the community has no way to pay the author for use of a work, how does one help the author by forbidding the community to copy it?

    And how did authors benefit from the recent extension of copyright on existing works, given that the authors were all dead? As far as I can see, the beneficiaries were heirs and middlemen, not authors.

    But rent-seekers of all stripes will always pretend to be concerned about the welfare of anyone but themselves.

  15. kvd
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] so now we are talking about a community in which the object of desire is somehow available to copy but the author is dead? Which department organises that scenario for you?

    On rent-seeking, good old Wikipedia (which changes every day, and never says the same thing twice – much like any open source software really, but hey, it’s free even if totally inefficient, and sometimes misleading):

    “Rent-seeking generally implies the extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity”.

    That seems a reasonable definition of what you suggest. Thought you’d actually try to excuse your proposed theft, rather than simply label your ideas.

    Anyway let’s not argue. Maybe desipis could take a year or two off work, and produce a thoughtful treatise for us all? I shall look forward to my pirated copy, and maybe I’ll offer thanks or some other sort of meaningless recognition – but certainly no recompense.

  16. Posted February 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I think Gavin should have made the point about reversion to the author in his first comment, as that does change his argument quite a bit. In effect, this amounts to a version of the ‘if you snooze, you lose’ argument that goes back to Ulpian. In other words, if you don’t use your legal rights, you lose them.

    There are serious problems with intellectual property law as it stands – the market segmentation I discussed in the main post is but one example. My concern (because people who have good ideas need incentives too) is that unless it becomes more nimble and flexible, then technology will sweep it away entirely, and we will all finish up the poorer.

  17. Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    And in excellent news, ‘Wolf’ now appears to be available to purchase from the iTunes store in the UK. See my update, above.

  18. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    The thing is, I cannot see any “public good” achieved by Gavin’s thought. Certainly advantage to those individuals wishing to have access to the book or music, but no general public good – which is more usually the justification for denying or reducing the rights of a property owner. So I guess, to move to Gavin’s approach, you redefine what you are wishing access to (by calling it a monopoly), so as to make unrestricted acquisition more palatable?

    Fair enough?

  19. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    kdv wrote:

    … so now we are talking about a community in which the object of desire is somehow available to copy but the author is dead? Which department organises that scenario for you?

    Where shall we start? In the USA, for instance, the offending parties include Congress and the Supreme Court. Under the Copyright Act 1976, copyright persisted until 50 years after the author’s death. Under the Copyright Term Extension Act 1998, this term was extended until 70 years after the author’s death, and the extension was applied to existing works created in or since 1978, including works of dead authors. In Eldred v. Ashcroft (2002), the Supreme Court held that the retrospective extension was constitutional. These events ruined the plans of numerous publishers that were going to produce cheap or free editions of works that were due to enter the public domain under the old law, and consumers missed out on the cheap or free editions.

    kdv continued:

    I cannot see any “public good” achieved by Gavin’s thought. Certainly advantage to those individuals wishing to have access to the book or music, but no general public good…

    Never mind that “those individuals” are members of the public. Never mind that other members of the public would benefit if the same principle were applied to different works. If you want to deny that a proposed reform produces a public good, simply draw a line between the “public” and the beneficiaries in each case, and redraw the line for every other case, and voila! – the public good is defined out of existence.

    So I guess, to move to Gavin’s approach, you redefine what you are wishing access to (by calling it a monopoly), so as to make unrestricted acquisition more palatable?

    My suggestion that the monopoly should be forfeited applies only when the monopoly supplier fails to supply. The expression “unrestricted acquisition” doesn’t quite capture the essence of my position. But I make no apology for using the factual term “monopoly” in order to make my position more palatable – just as kdv makes no apology for using the legal term “property” in order to portray my proposed legal reform as theft.

  20. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    kvd,

    …the individual authors saw benefit to themselves in pursuing that course.

    It’s about more than the authors though. The video in the post might not have been available or even created were it not for the forward looking changes to copyright. Not because the author might have seen less benefit from such a publication, but because the distribution service (YouTube) would have crumbled under the legal weight of the ‘rights’ of other authors.

    …the justification for denying or reducing the rights of a property owner.

    The laws protecting copyright and patents do just that. They restrict the rights of property owners, whether that property be pens, printing presses or computers. I would prefer a different balance between those rights and the rights of creators.

    Maybe desipis could take a year or two off work, and produce a thoughtful treatise for us all?

    I’ll point out that you’ll have copies of my comments on your computer (or whatever you read this blog on). Have you ever thought to ask permission to make those copies, or provide me with recompense for using my property as he sees fit? Or perhaps that’s such a cheap-shot that my comments ought to be freely copied…

  21. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    These events ruined the plans of numerous publishers that were going to produce cheap or free editions of works that were due to enter the public domain under the old law, and consumers missed out on the cheap or free editions.

    Translation: several publishers lost profits; several (hundred thousand?) readers had to pay more. Copyright owner’s rights were protected and extended.

    Never mind that “those individuals” are members of the public. Never mind that other members of the public would benefit if the same principle were applied to different works

    Translation: group A wishes to read book A; Group B wishes to read book B; Group C prefers Manga, and is deaf, so also has no interest in music. Solution: to satisfy the desires of two subgroups, redefine those two subgroups as being “the general public” – hence actions to satisfy them become “in the public interest”. Gavin it is you who is redefining the general term “public good”, not me.

    I make no apology for using the factual term “monopoly” in order to make my position more palatable

    Your honesty is appreciated.

  22. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I’ll point out that you’ll have copies of my comments on your computer (or whatever you read this blog on). Have you ever thought to ask permission to make those copies, or provide me with recompense for using my property as he sees fit? Or perhaps that’s such a cheap-shot that my comments ought to be freely copied…

    desipis, that’s not so much a cheap shot as a very long bow. If your comments were published in some saleable form, and if I wished access to your thoughts, then I would expect to pay for same.

    Or if I quoted you in my own ramblings, I would fairly attribute you as the source. You must surely do this in your studies?

  23. Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    kvd wrote: “Copyright owner’s rights were protected and extended.”

    Correction: Copyright owners got an unearned windfall at public expense. By legislative fiat, rights that belonged to the public (according to the rules under which the copyrighted works were created and marketed) were transferred to private interests without compensation. Legalized embezzlement.

  24. Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    kvd,

    If your comments were published in some saleable form, and if I wished access to your thoughts, then I would expect to pay for same.

    So you agree with Gavin’s position then, that if something is not commercially available then unauthorised copying is acceptable?

  25. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I have enough trouble defending what I actually say, let alone attempting to defend what you infer I say 😉

    But to answer your specific query: your ‘if’ ‘then’ clauses are only partially related, and admit no alternatives. Sounds like a lawyer question.

  26. Posted February 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Easy, gents…

    KVD: I can appreciate your point about the need for adequate protection for intellectual and artistic works – a sign of a functioning society is the maintenance of property rights – however I’d certainly query the ever-lengthening terms of posthumous protection that’s currently being awarded.

    Patents, for example, are only given for 20 years. That is so the inventor of a process or device has a fair chance to profit from their work but also ensuring that the wider market isn’t prevented from using the advance to further their relevant industry for too long.

    While the ‘benefit’ of a creative property to the wider public is less easy to define than a technological improvement to an industry, having copyright blow out to the frankly bloated period of 70 (or even 90 years as had been proposed) after the death of the author doesn’t seem proportionate with the 20 years still accorded to patents. There’d be significant negative effects if patent protection was extended to these kind of terms which is why the sensible instinct of most people, when faced with an unfair situation, is to ignore the rules.

    Having loaded my CDs onto iTunes, or downloaded a song from the service, I then copy it onto a backup medium or port it between devices despite the fact that currently this would be considered an infringement of the copyright because of the subtle difference drawn between ownership and licensing. MOST reasonable people I think would draw the line at pirating for profit, but the reason so many torrenting and download services exist is that consumers tend to apply a ‘fair or personal use’ exemption (as happens with photocopying) despite the fact that legally one doesn’t actually exist. Yes, that may mean we’re irresponsible cheats at heart (though often it’s a way to try before you then go on and buy once you’re sure you’ll like it) OR it may mean that the licensing terms have simply been drawn too restrictively. Comparing the 20-year terms for patents with the posthumous 70-year term for copyright makes me suspect the latter is a bit more likely.

  27. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I’m easy about all of this, please believe. I’m just trying to pin down what it is that is being suggested, and the justifications therefore.

    I really don’t care if it is decided that copyright in books or songs exists for 5/10/lifetime/perpetuity – I guess artists will just make their arrangements accordingly. But I think a little honesty is always useful: either the creator is entitled to the right and reward of ownership, or not. And if not permanently, then for how long and under what justifications?

    Everything you say about technological advances is spot on. Maybe James Watt really did hold back development for years, by simply defending patent rather than improving his engine. But how does the release of copyright on, say, ‘Grapes of Wrath’, or ‘Mama Mia’ assist in book or music advancement? The short answer is it doesn’t because the creation was unique – whatever any individual may think of their merit.

    I think I’m politely trying to say let’s cut through the hypocrisy of asserting it’s “for the public good” that we confiscate the artist’s property, when really what’s at stake is providing a (really quite) small group of content-providers with ever more free content.

  28. Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty easy about it all too; just trying to think through the issues whilst doing my best to avoid simply rationalising previously held biases.

    I guess to summarise my position into two points:
    1) I don’t think a property/ownership model is necessarily the best way to ensure that both artists are compensated and the works are as accessible as possible. I’m not sure at all about the right answer, but ideas such as compulsory licensing could be part of the solution.
    2) I think creative works are far more intertwined than the idea of ‘unique creations’ that kvd refers to.

    Well that, and any ‘war on piracy’ has less chance of success than either the ‘war on drugs’ or ‘war on terror’.

  29. kvd
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Fair comments desipis. I will be interested to read where your musings take you. We might divirge on what you’ve termed ‘intertwined’, and previously ‘derivative’ but it’s not significant other than as a source of justification, and hence not really the point I’m interested in.

  30. kvd
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Article in The Conversation on this subject. Worth a browse not least for the links given, including to the follow up articles.

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