Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Comments on Copyright and File-Sharing

Article found here.

Here are my counterpoints.

  1. Pirate Bay, one of the flagships of the anti-copyright movement, makes thousands of euros from advertising on its site, while maintaining its anti-establishment "free music" rhetoric.

    Proving that there is money in distribution of music without directly charging for it. Besides, who could look at an ad-covered site and think that they're not making at least some money?

  2., the well-known Russian web site, has not been licensed by a single IFPI member, has been disowned by right holder groups worldwide and is facing criminal proceedings in Russia.

    This is not an argument against file-sharing or in favour of copyright holders, this is simply stating what the current law is. Everyone knows that downloading most music without paying for it is illegal.

  3. Organized criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.

    Okay, so why shouldn't music be downloaded? Criminal gangs and terrorist groups would be making money on counterfeit CDs regardless of the law and taking away peoples' ability to freely download the music illegally online will only encourage them to buy the counterfeit CDs (as they are still cheaper than the originals). Once again, this is actually an argument for making file-sharing legal.

  4. Illegal file-sharers don’t care whether the copyright-infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.

    Good. So why can't I find MC Frontalot on any bittorrent site?

  5. Reduced revenues for record companies mean less money available to take a risk on "underground" artists and more inclination to invest in "bankers" like American Idol stars.

    ... Which lets those "underground" artists take the small amount of time necessary to learn how to record and distribute their own music, put it up freely or cheaply online and make more money on donations than they ever would from royalties off of label-sponsored music.
    Record companies are obsolete. The services they provide which are not obsolete (recording studios, distribution, networking and training) can all be acquired more cheaply and more easily by individual providers none of whom will ask you to sign over your ownership of your music.
    Even without illegal file-sharing, large record companies serve no purpose anymore.

  6. ISPs often advertise music as a benefit of signing up to their service, but facilitate the illegal swapping on copyright infringing music on a grand scale.

    ISP advertising cannot be an argument against file-sharing, but this does serve as a reason to look more closely at your ISP's business practices. Just remember that nobody, even an ISP, can stop an intelligent person from sending and receiving whatever they want without blocking all of their activity and access.

  7. The anti-copyright movement does not create jobs, exports, tax revenues and economic growth–it largely consists of people pontificating on a commercial world about which they know little.

    Should jobs be created artificially? If the jobs are not necessary why should they exist at all?
    I would also like to point out that if you jump back in time a few hundred years and replace the word "copyright" with the word "slavery", the argument retains all the potency it has at present.
    No, I am not attempting to equate copyright with slavery, there is obviously no comparison. What I am attempting to do by making the previous point is to say that the argument as given has no weight at all.

  8. Piracy is not caused by poverty. Professor Zhang of Nanjing University found the Chinese citizens who bought pirate products were mainly middle- or higher-income earners.

    First, let me say that I agree that piracy is not caused by poverty. I believe that part of piracy is caused by overcharging on the part of the distributor. Copyright on an artistic work is a legally enforced monopoly on that particular work, thus squelching all competition and removing the capitalist incentive for the copyright holder to provide prices which are in any way reasonable.
    Of course, a total lack of copyright means that people need not pay for artistic works at all, thus removing all benefit from such creativity (the capitalist argues). I am not going to take the route of arguing that creative works benefit society as a whole even if nobody profits from it (although I do believe there is merit in such an argument). Instead, I will say simply that distribution and replication of artistic works remain profitable industries without copyright and regain the competition they lack under copyright law. Additionally, people generally like to reward people who reward them so if art were no longer looked on as a business venture, many artists would be able to make a living on donations from people who enjoyed their work. Given a reasonable reliable attribution database, donation-supported artwork could become the norm and could even become somewhat profitable in its own time.

    Additionally, I would like to point out that the study mentioned deals with people who "bought pirate products", not those who obtained them for free, thus once again removing its relevance to the file-sharing side of this debate.

  9. Most people know it is wrong to file-share copyright infringing material but won't stop till the law makes them, according to a recent study by the Australian anti-piracy group MIPI.

    I would like to make one correction here:
    Most people know it is illegal to file-share copyright infringing material...
    Immoral and illegal are not always identical. I am quite aware that unlicensed distribution of copyrighted material is illegal, but I do not consider it to be in any way immoral.

  10. P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.

    True, popular music is illegally shared most frequently. The distinction here is that if you are buying all the music you listen to, you run out of money before you get all the popular music you want and therefore have nothing left to spend on new music. With illegal file-sharing you can easily find all the popular music as well as thousands of relatively unpopular artists each being shared by a small number of people. This gives you more selection of non-popular music than you are likely to get elsewhere and leaves money available to buy something you can't find illegally shared.

In case you can't tell, I am in favour of the complete abolishment of copyright law. Please keep that bias in mind when considering my arguments, but also don't let it prevent you from that consideration.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dear God...

Someone posted the following comment on my youtube response to the blasphemy challenge:

"Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?
Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

So I decided to write the following little 'rebuttal' and post it here as well for permanency's sake.

Help me, O God, to become a capable individual and grant me the ability to do things on my own.
Save me, O God, from those who would tempt me with promises of eternal bliss and give me the strength to do the right thing though it injures me.
Forgive me, O God, for sins you imagined I committed and for the wrongs of others.

O God, save me from thy self.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Psychic Video Games

This Slashdot article caught my attention today saying that a commercially viable brain/computer interface will be available in 2008 with software designed to use it. The part that really caught my attention is that this interface device is non-invasive!

Of course, we're not really at immersive virtual reality yet, but this is effectively half of it. I still doubt that simulating experiences in the computer user will be able to be done without an invasive interface, but I'm quite surprised that we can go straight to non-invasive thought input devices without many stages of invasive ones first.

If the price is anything close to reasonable, I may have to get myself one of these next year.

Friday, January 26, 2007


My video response to the blasphemy challenge with actually legible text went up here almost two weeks ago. While nobody has commented on the new version, the only real question that seems to need answering, judging by the comments on the blurry-text version, is what do I mean when I say "I deny the existence of reality"?

Before I state my actual position, I would like to demonstrate the necessity of involving semantics in the matter by presenting something which appears problematic but is not key to my belief.

Let us take the common sense notion of reality, somewhat formalized, that reality is defined to be everything that exists. Obviously, we should then ask what is meant by existence, but we will ignore this question for now.
It seems natural to me, a mathematician, to formalize this definition further by defining the term "reality" to refer to the set consisting of all things which have the property of existence. Now, let us ask the question: does reality exist?
Strictly speaking, our definitions tell us that this is, in essence, asking whether "reality" is an element of the set "reality".
Supposing that "reality" is an element of itself, we may construct a version of Russell's paradox, rendering this supposition untenable.

An obvious change to our interpretation of the question appears to resolve this issue, but raises another: "is reality a subset of itself?"
In this case the answer is clearly yes, but in order to interpret the question "does reality exist?" in this fashion we must assume that the property of "existence" applies not only to all elements of reality but also to all subsets. By our definition of reality, this means that all subsets of reality must also be elements of reality and so reality must contain its own power set, bringing us back to the previous problem.

The above argument does not in itself prove the nonexistence of reality, rather it points out that we must develop a good understanding of our concepts and questions before it can be meaningful to ask questions about our concepts.
Unfortunately, I do not believe such a thing is possible in our current conceptual framework.

I would like to jump back to an earlier point and say that the intuitive notions of reality and existence suffer from a major flaw in that they are circularly defined.
"What is reality?" "Reality is everything that exists."
"What does it mean for something to exist?" "Something exists if it is real."
Obviously, these concepts will not suffice in conforming to whatever may actually be.

Concepts of "reality" range between the very vague and the very precise. The very vague notions are useful for everyday living and thought and probably include some measure of correspondence with the universe but they are too fuzzy for ontological questions, in my opinion. I have never heard of or concieved of a concept of reality with even moderate precision that I believe is internally consistent, let alone corresponds to the universe (except the nihilistic concept, which seems like a cop-out). I cannot even develop vague notions of characteristics that such a moderately precise concept of reality might have. As such, I believe that my current understanding (and, unless I hear otherwise, that of others) is insufficient to form a coherent question which could take the place of the meaningless "does reality exist?" and therefore I must conclude that neither "reality exists" nor "reality does not exist" are true (whatever true may mean), given our current concepts behind those words.

It was pointed out to me earlier today, that perhaps "I deny the existence of reality, but I don't quite mean it that way" was not the best way to concisely get across my beliefs. This may be the case, but it's something I can't change now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Technical Difficulties

My response to the blasphemy challenge has gone up on youtube here. Unfortunately, the text in the video shrunk so small during recompression that it's essentially illegible. I'm currently working on recording a textless version of the video which I can fit subtitles onto after recompression, hopefully clearing up the text.

I've also been having difficulty with posting text comments on youtube; it seems that either youtube randomly drops my comments, there's an intermittent significant delay in comments appearing on the site, or I can't post comments to my own video. In any case, this problem has kept me from posting the link to this blog in a comment on my video. I have been able to link my youtube user profile here as well as putting this URL into the video's description, so hopefully this post will actually be read by someone while it's still fresh.

Friday, January 5, 2007

First Post

The reason I decided to finally start this blog (I've been thinking about doing so for a while) is that I've also decided to post a video response to the blasphemy challenge. Since I would not want to state my beliefs without explaining my reasons behind them, I decided that in order to keep the video short I will be terse in the video and considerably more comprehensive here. Of course, since I haven't actually made the video yet, I'll refrain from putting any details here until such time as I know which beliefs I need to justify.

Ultimately, I am hoping to flesh out all of my beliefs here over the coming months, but I would rather start with something relevant.