• troad
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Should it be legal for IA to offer this, especially for older and out of print books? Yes, almost certainly.

Is it legal? No, not as the law currently stands. You can support Robin Hood, but you shouldn't be shocked when Robin Hood is caught and sent to jail. It was a mistake and a huge legal risk for IA to do this. It could easily have brought down the whole organisation, and all that they've archived to date.

I wish a fraction of the people who are upset about this would actually commit a portion of their time to lobbying and organising for copyright reform. Copyright terms are too damn long, by half a century and then some. This isn't some iron law of nature, this could easily be changed if there were enough of a push for it.

Are you a lawyer? Can you point to the relevant statutes? I don't ask this flippantly as there exist many forms (private / public / academic) of library which allow for both physical and digital lending of owned assets and are not subject to lawsuits like this. It's not at all obvious that IA's interpretation of the law is in error.
  • troad
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The relevant statute provision is 17 U.S.C. § 501.

On March 24, 2023, the Internet Archive was found liable for copyright infringement under that section by a federal court, in an order granting a motion for a summary judgment.[0] A summary judgment means that there is no genuine dispute about facts, and the plaintiffs (the people suing the Internet Archive) are entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.[1]

It is your prerogative to feel that you're better qualified to interpret federal law than a federal court is, but it is fairly misleading to say that it is not at all clear what the law is here, when a court decision exists on these exact facts.

Should the law be changed? Yes, in my opinion. Is there much dispute over what the law is? No, not really.

[0] https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.nysd.53...

[1] Other common law jurisdictions use clearer language to describe summary judgments: in the UK and Australia, for example, a summary judgment is granted when a party has "no reasonable prospects of success" and there is no point in going to trial. These exact words aren't used in the US, but they give a reasonable indication of how summary judgments are used in practice.

None of this is legal advice.

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You really don't need to be a lawyer to understand the extent to which Internet Archive really screwed up here. For starters they lost on Summary Judgment, which means they couldn't come up with a single issue of fact that the judge thought deserved a trial. Read the Order, the Judge obviously has it straight. Then check archive.org's Form 990s and see how little money they run on, how much they pissed away on legal fees so far, and also infer the amount they had to pay in damages, which was obviously very tiny.

You are welcome to argue it as a matter of culture (and I'm inclined to agree and cheer you on) but from a legal perspective, Brewster should be removed and they need to find competent people to put on the board because they really did put the entire organization at risk over an idiotic decision. And the ramifications continue.

Internet Archive's "we own a copy of a book, we scan it and loan out one digital copy" policy was already on shaky ground. When Covid hit and everyone lost their minds, letting homeless people sleep on the stairs of their building apparently wasn't enough so they just turned into The Pirate Bay and loaned out infinite copies of everything.

In discovery for the case, it turned out they weren't even tracking the "we own one copy" part to begin with correctly. None of this should be surprising to anyone who actually attempts to use the site. The whole thing is duct tape and string.

They have a tiny budget and the do amazing things with it, but it really deserves to be treated like a business and not be run like an art project. If they wanna stick your neck out and push for CDL reform, great. Just do it under a different LLC so you don't tank the 50 other important things you've got going on. And it's time for Brewster to move on. In any other non-profit he'd be gone by now.

I disagree. Brewster demonstrated real courage.

The world locked down u necessarily precisely because the population has not been getting smarter the past 50 years because copyright has poisoned our information wells.

This is a fight worth having.

It's time to abolish copyright.

There's absolutely no courage in putting that's been built and used for almost 2 decades on the line because of the wave of "we must do something" that was so common in March and April 2020 even when in most cases, doing nothing would've been more helpful.

It would be like if Mozilla decided to stop taking any google funding overnight because they felt like their values didn't fit with Google's. Sure, it would be well intentioned. But then you also guaranteed that Firefox won't be able to exist for more than a few weeks. Deciding to unilaterally reproduce (by way of unlimited lending without the copies to back said lending) books is the legal equivalent to doing that. It would be a nice thing to have, but it's not something you get by just getting wrecked in an open and shut case in court.

> It would be like if Mozilla decided to stop taking any google funding overnight because they felt like their values didn't fit with Google's.

That would be the best thing that could happen to Mozilla becose then the vultures would move on and the project could get back to its mission without the MAJOR conflict of interest fucking up their incentives.

> But then you also guaranteed that Firefox won't be able to exist for more than a few weeks.

Firefox doesn't need Mozilla to continue existing. But even if it died that would at least make space for an alternative that isn't just controlled opposition doing the bare minimum to protect Google from antitrust lawsuits while continuuously disrespecting user choices and preferences.

> This is a fight worth having.

Literally everyone here has already stated that they agree with you on this. There's no controversy upthread about whether copyright law needs to be reformed, the controversy is over whether it made sense to risk the entire Internet Archive (whose most important contribution to the knowledge of mankind has nothing to do with online lending) or if it should have been fought by an organization that was built to fight it.

Their instinct to help is admirable, but their lack of restraint shows a major lack of judgment and very well could have put their archives of the internet at risk. Not every nonprofit organization can do everything.

To put a finer point on it, the archive is there to be an archive -- there is a lot to be done there. The EFF is there to fight battles.
When a CEO pulls some nonsense and gets his ass handed to him in court, it's not an act of bravery, it's hubris. He set the result both you and I want back ten years by running his organization in such a sloppy manner. Even before the lawsuit they didn't keep accurate records of what they were lending, full stop.
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It may be a fight worth having, but that wasn’t the way to fight it. There was zero chance this was going to end with a favorable court decision. It only carried risk for the organization - no upside at all.
If you want to fight that fight, instead of putting hundreds of thousands of books on the internet, you start with a few books and get sued over that. That way, if you lose, the actual damages are minimal. Right now, the Internet Archive could go bankrupt because of the millions of dollars in potential damages now that they've lost.

Finding representative cases to fight over and create precedent is a common strategy that exposes you to less risk if you lose.

> from a legal perspective, Brewster should be removed and they need to find competent people to put on the board

I don't like that the IA risked the actual internet archive with this or that they chose to engage in DRM at all but let's be reall: "competent people" would have sold the IA to the advertisement moloch or another horror of modern civilization long ago. The IA does need a leader that puts principles above financial security.

> it really deserves to be treated like a business

That would be the absolute worst thing that could happen to the IA.

> And it's time for Brewster to move on. In any other non-profit he'd be gone by now.

Consider doing something worthwile of your own instead of trying those who have but aren't perfect enough in your opinion.

Stockpiling assets on an active fault line, opening a Credit Union, failed activism, obviously shitty tech... it's time to put a grownup in charge of the thing. They're an archive. It needs consistent funding and boring tech and to focus on three things, max.
Are you aware of a form of library subject to US law that lends copyrighted digital assets without either a license from the copyright holder or legal trouble from the copyright holder?
>Can you point to the relevant statutes?

IANAL, but:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/108

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/117

What the Internet Archive did (loan many digital copies based on one physical copy) is illegal as the law stands today.

> Can you point to the relevant statutes?

This is about sound recordings rather than books, but one of the more insane features of US copyright law is that the copyright status of sound recordings made before 1972 is governed by state rather than federal law, and many states are thought to have no applicable statute. Some of these states determine copyright status for these works by deferring to federal law, which does not cover them.

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> It was a mistake and a huge legal risk for IA to do this. It could easily have brought down the whole organisation, and all that they've archived to date.

Agreed. But the problem here is not the daring action but linking it to a sadly unique resource.

> You can support Robin Hood, but you shouldn't be shocked when Robin Hood is caught and sent to jail.

You can however still protest robin hood being sent to jail and you can shame the fat nobles calling for robin hood to be hanged and you can grab the pitchforks and make sure they loose more than they gain. The law is meaningless if it doesn't have the support of the people. Copyright is already routinely ignored by almost everyone when its convenient (outside commercial activity).

Lobbying is all well and good but that's the corporations' turf. Nothing wrong with deciding not to play their game and choose other ways to fight the absurd copyright laws.

> Should it be legal for IA to offer this, especially for older and out of print books? Yes, almost certainly

No, not “almost certainly.”

I think they pushed the limit of what should be legal, especially since they were digitizing print books and lending those out as ebooks.

Actually, the digitising part is what I find the most acceptable. Why shouldn't they be allowed to do this? Would you have the same problem if they bought ebooks in MOBI, converted them and then lent out EPUB versions.

The lending out more copies than they bought part is what there are some good arguments against.

> lending out more copies than they bought

Legality aside, why is this acceptable for banks but not books?

Banks can create money out of nothing to enrich themselves, but libraries can't lend out more books than they have to enrich society?

Contemporary copyright law is pernicious and IMO if not drastically reformed soon, will be made moot and obsolete by genAI.

> Banks can create money out of nothing to enrich themselves, but libraries can't lend out more books than they have to enrich society?

Others are enriched by the made up money the banks lend out, too. The people who buy homes, start businesses, go to college, etc.

But yeah, I think otherwise you have a decent understanding of it.

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> Would you have the same problem if they bought ebooks in MOBI, converted them and then lent out EPUB versions.

Yes.

> Why shouldn't they be allowed to do this

They bought a paper book, not the right to lend out an ebook.

The contents is the thing that deserves protection, not every individual instance of a medium it's stored on. If I buy a music CD, I paid for one license to play that album plus some plastic and distribution fees. If I make a copy to play because I don't want to damage the original, if I then lend that copy to my friend, if I rip it to mp3 because nothing plays CDs anymore - in all those cases, only one copy is being used so my one "license to play" should suffice.
> if I rip it to mp3 because nothing plays CDs anymore - in all those cases, only one copy is being used so my one "license to play" should suffice.

Sure, I disagree but whatever. Your license to play in this case shouldn’t extend to lending those MP3s that can easily be copied by as many people as you can “lend” those MP3s to.

> The contents is the thing that deserves protection

Also I disagree with this. The content doesn’t “deserve” to be protected.

I meant the deserve part in the sense that if we're doing copyright, the only thing that makes sense to protect is the work itself, not the piece of plastic or paper holding it. Whether works "deserve" to be protected is an entirely separate discussion.

As for lending, there is very little difference between lending a physical medium and expecting it to be returned and sending a digital asset and expecting it to be deleted afterwards. In both cases you have basically no way of preventing someone from making a copy and have to just trust them and/or dangle the threat of legal action over them. Yes, some things are more effort to copy than others, but with modern phones and OCR, even books can be digitised and copied in a matter of minutes and with no material cost.

So practically, if we wanted to prevent copying, we shouldn't allow lending at all. And I think that would be too important of a thing to sacrifice just to get authors a few extra percent in income (since, as we've seen, people who pirate are not very likely to buy if piracy isn't an option).

> I meant the deserve part in the sense that if we're doing copyright, the only thing that makes sense to protect is the work itself

I disagree with this as well. “Works” don’t deserve anything. Stuff comes and goes.

> So practically, if we wanted to prevent copying, we shouldn't allow lending at all.

Who said we wanted to prevent copying?

IMO we want to prevent cmd+c / cmd+v copying or trivial DRM breaking with Calibre or something. If somebody wants to snap photos of each page of a book to “preserve the work” go nuts. But then don’t go sharing the MOBI they make of those pages.

> "I understand that publishers and authors have to make a profit, but most of the material I am trying to access is written by people who are dead and whose publishers have stopped printing the material," wrote one IA fan from Boston.

This really is the crux of the problem. Copyright should be "use it or lose it." If you don't make your books readily available, then you should have no right to demand copies of your book be removed from places like IA. It's not like these publishers are losing any money from books that literally nobody can purchase.

>If you don't make your books readily available, then you should have no right to demand copies of your book be removed from places like IA

What if an author explicitly doesn't want to distribute their works or to distribute an alternative version of their works? There was the recent case of the company that owns the rights to Dr. Suess choosing not to publish old versions of books they felt had racist depictions.

And who sets the standard for readily available? If I offer my book for sale for $100 is it readily available? At what price is something no longer readily available? Does it depend on the type of book? What if it's for sale broadly but not in the state where you live? What if it's free but must be read in person and cannot be taken home with you?

> What if an author explicitly doesn't want to distribute their works or to distribute an alternative version of their works?

Too bad. Once you publish it the first time, the cat is out of the bag. Eventually it's going to go into the public domain whether you like it or not.

> And who sets the standard for readily available? If I offer my book for sale for $100 is it readily available? At what price is something no longer readily available? Does it depend on the type of book? What if it's for sale broadly but not in the state where you live? What if it's free but must be read in person and cannot be taken home with you?

Good question but can definitely be decided. $100 is probably fine. Regulators can decide. Yes. Not good enough. Not good enough.

We have frameworks for mandatory music licensing, we can do more things like that.

Should we apply that logic to gplv3 code too? Just basically disregard the license since knowledge should be completely free? Or maybe impose some burden on the maintainers to keep the code active and constantly changed so that the codebase doesn't lose its license after an arbitrary period of time?

I'm genuinely wondering , because to me there's a clear parallel yet in tech circles we almost always see defense of copyleft code (which I totally agree with, I'm extremely pro GPL) and a very heavy bias towards maintainers. I know GPL code is already free but we are talking automatically putting copyrighted/licensed material in the public domain which isn't GPL compatible.

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> doesn't lose its license after an arbitrary period of time?

The whole thing that allows copyright in the US is in the Constitution:

> To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

The original term was 14 years, with one 14 year renewal allowed.

This was probably a little short, in my opinion. 25+20 seems reasonable; most works have no commercial value after 25 years, and 45 years is already a long time to keep things that have become cultural touchstones locked up. The present legal regime of life of the author plus 70 years is clearly excessive.

> but we are talking automatically putting copyrighted/licensed material in the public domain

This already happens: just after an unreasonably long period of time.

> which isn't GPL compatible.

Code which is in the public domain is freely compatible with code under the GPL.

The whole point is "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". Stuff kept locked away beyond its useful commercial life is no longer promoting progress (the authors have already gotten paid anything they're going to get). Indeed, most of present works borrow deeply from the public domain but the authors seek to only return the same favor to future authors in a few generations.

How long should Nintendo be able to rent-seek and convince/force the same people to buy the original Super Mario Bros. over and over again? Should that be done in 2030, or 2080? What about operating systems of the 1980s-- should they be locked up to 2090, even though no one will sell them to you?

At some point, there are substantial impediments to legitimate archival and research purposes; to keeping existing important systems working; and to allowing the free exploration and creativity that comes from remixing and building upon past works.

> The original term was 14 years, with one 14 year renewal allowed.

> This was probably a little short

Strongly disagree. And for anything that's distributed digitally it's an eternity.

The goal should be that as an adult you can build on the things you grew up with as a child. Anything longer than that is absurd. Remember that copyright is an infringement on your right to free speech so should need extraordinary evidence for that any additional second of the copyright term actually fulfils its constitutional purpose. You don't need to allow maximum commercial exploitation to encourage more works. In fact I would question if commercial exploitation is something that needs to be made possible at all considering that humans are naturally driven to be creative and we have a giant corpus of creative works to fall back on which can now be copied and distributed easier than ever.

The current terms that won't even let your grandchildren benefit from the work your generation funded are an outright affront to the spirit of the constitution. At this point we would be better off scrapping the whole concept of copyright.

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> And for anything that's distributed digitally it's an eternity.

On the flip side, there's a fair bit of fiction, etc, where the same author has been acting as steward of the series for 35 years. Having them still get proceeds from book 1 is an important part of the calculus to continue. There's a balance to be struck here.

I do think there should be a significant fee at renewal.

> The current terms that won't even let your grandchildren benefit from the work your generation funded are an outright affront to the spirit of the constitution.

The current terms are absurd, agreed.

> At this point we would be better off scrapping the whole concept of copyright.

Nah; I like there being a market to make expensive works of intellectual property, which depends upon copyright.

> Should we apply that logic to gplv3 code too?

Well the GPL code was never being sold in the first place, so these rules might not apply at all. And it's still available the same way it always has been, so that suggests no need for intervention. Alternatively it would make sense to treat source code differently from books and photos and music and movies.

> lose its license after an arbitrary period of time

Of course GPL code would become public domain after an arbitrary period of time, that's how public domain works. In the year 2024, why shouldn't anyone be able to reuse 1997 linux code or pieces of windows 95 in their own programs?

The GPL is a clever hack of a broken system. Given copyright existing, I like the GPL's protections. I would rather take no copyright, as that would address many (but not all) of the reasons the GPL exists.
> There was the recent case of the company that owns the rights to Dr. Suess choosing not to publish old versions of books they felt had racist depictions.

This is actually exactly why I agree with OP. See also the changes made to Roald Dahl books. Future generations deserve to be able to read the content that their forebears produced as they produced it.

I'm supportive of an author's right to not initially publish something that they at the time are uncomfortable with being made public. There should be protections for that. But once something has entered into the public consciousness in a particular form, I'm not okay with a cultural censorship wave being able to memory hole the original copy and replace it with a sanitized version (or wipe it out entirely). They shouldn't be obliged to print content that they find objectionable, but that content needs to be accessible or we lose our history.

Messy and uncomfortable as it is, future generations have a right to see us as we were and are, not as the second-generation holder of our too-long copyright wishes we had been.

You have really hit the crux of the issue. We shouldn't allow corporations or individuals to control something that has become part of our shared culture. Beyond shortening copyright lengths to the absolute minimum required for the statet purpose of encouraging more creation we probably also need limitations on author rights for works that have gained widespread public adoption similar to how trademarks can become genericised. At some point you shouldn't get to decide if and how your creation is distributed even if you can still demand royalties for a while.
Authors should have that inalienable right, and it should not transferable via contract or any other means. Publishers, on the other hand, should have no such rights: they own the presses, their inalienable right should be to refrain from using them.
Should I be allowed to commission a work under the understanding that I own the rights after it's created?

If yes, then how do you regulate who is or is not allowed to transfer ownership of rights to or from whom?

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That part is already solved. Under current international law, if you commission a work then you own the economic rights, but the original author retains the moral rights. In fact, selling your moral rights is not possible.

It sounds like the suggestion is that retracting / completely discontinuing a book should only be part of the moral rights, not the economic rights.

I'm not sure how feasible that is, but it's not totally unprecedented. For example, one of the moral rights recognized by many countries is the right not to have your works destroyed. E.g. even if someone else owns the physical object of your painting, they are not allowed to set it on fire, and you could sue them if they did.

> It sounds like the suggestion is that retracting / completely discontinuing a book should only be part of the moral rights, not the economic rights.

It shouldn't be part of any rights. At best the author should be able to demand to not have his name associated with the work.

> Authors should have that inalienable right

Why? What do we as a society gain by allowing individuals continued control over parts of our culture include the ability to erase them.

> What if an author explicitly doesn't want to distribute their works or to distribute an alternative version of their works?

Then they should lose the rights of the originals. The point of copyright is to enrich society not to satisfy any want of the author.

> Copyright should be "use it or lose it."

Which is basically how trademarks are. So we even already have a system in place to manage something like this.

No, it really isn't. That person, and you, don't understand how publishing - or mass production of any kind, it seems - works.

A publisher "stopping printing" of a book is completely normal - books are like any other mass-produced good, in that there are fixed and variable costs to production and a factory can't economically crank out more than a certain number of different things at once.

Sp, there are "printings" - ie a production run - and then that inventory is sold to distributors. When the inventory is sold out, it is "out of print." That does not mean it's not available - there's still stock at distributors. And likely on shelves.

When it sells out at distributors, then it is backordered.

It is completely normal for a publisher to wait until they feel there is enough pent-up demand for another printing - increasing the size of the printing to improve per-copy profit (or make it economically viable at all), and then sell it to distributors because the distributors think they can sell the inventory at a high enough rate.

Distributors don't want to keep around books that don't sell very fast, because that means they don't have warehouse space for books that do sell quickly. And if they have books that don't sell and need the warehouse space, the books might get remaindered (sold to a low-budget distributor for sale at well below original price) or destroyed (cover stripped as proof of destruction and the rest destroyed/recycled.)

Things have changed with digital press technology improvements, opening the door to more print-on-demand books - but printing one copy will never be anywhere close to as cheap as printing, say, 1000 copies.

There are also other reasons it might not be for sale, despite the author trying / wanting to sell it.

If you know nothing about how book printing, publishing, distribution, buying, and retail works - you probably shouldn't be forming opinions on how it should be subject to radically different regulation, much less offering them up.

https://pinestatepublicity.substack.com/p/book-distribution-...

Internet Archive isn't printing books, they are lending out digital copies. A publisher would have no reason not to sell a digital copy of their own. There are no production runs necessary on digital copies.
I never said the books have to be physically printed. Digitize the book and sell it online. Make it available through a kindle unlimited subscription. It doesn't matter, as long as it's readily available. Until then, they should have no right to sue to remove the books from IA.

Also keep in mind that, for many of the books, the authors are dead.

> Make it available through a kindle unlimited subscription. It doesn't matter, as long as it's readily available.

I disagree that requring the customer to have a continued business relationship to retain the work should count as it being readily available.

> Authors want

> Publishers want

> Distributors want

So? I too want a golden goose protected with force by the government at no cost to me. What does the rest of society gain from this deal?

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Looks like the publishers are doing their best for libgen/ipfs to succeed.

Makes you wonder: Do they even have data on their business growth factors? I don't but I'd guess that:

1. nobody is printing downloaded books

2. instead, people like me _buy_ printed books after browsing through them online

They're actually pretty different sets of books.

LibGen/IPFS is heavily biased toward books from the past ~3 decades, especially books that are cracked EPUB's and PDF's.

IA seems to be much more scans of library books from ~1930-1980, many of which are out of print and probably only available to you via interlibrary loan, which you might wait a month for.

IA is a huge boon for academic research when you need to go back to midcentury books. I don't know which 500K the IA is being required to remove, but I'm very worried.

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Extremely grateful for IA indeed, and as you say they have more scans that for sure are super useful for research, LLM training, etc.

Like this: https://archive.org/details/landau-and-lifshitz-physics-text...

Where LibGen only has the first volume in French and Portuguese only...

Even being good for it I can’t stand how most books are like $19.99, knowing I can find it in very good condition on ebay for $6 and get it from the library for free. If they want to sell a lot more books out of the little shops at the airports or wherevers left that books are sold today, make them cheap enough to be a spontaneous purchase again. I have some old paper backs that were like 99 cents new.
Recently discussed:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40707084 (4 days ago, 48 comments)

Is there a communuty project that maintains a copy of the 500k books? Is there a libgen torrent or anna's archive torrent?
https://libgen.is/repository_torrent/

If you are upset about this, commit to seeding as many of these as you can until the IA service is restored.

Those are torrents for LibGen, not IA, correct?

Very different sets of books. I don't see how this will help. LibGen isn't going away, not that I'm aware of.

Great, thank you!
I would bet that most of the archive books are already on Libgen, yes
They're not.

IA is mostly full-color scans of old library books.

I've never come across an IA scan on Libgen. Libgen is mostly EPUB's, native PDF's, and the occasional black-and-white high-contrast PDF scan.

Why does Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (for example) show up in their 1300 banned books list? It’s not under copyright and is available on Gutenberg.

Is this some legal angle I’m missing which benefits the plaintiffs in some way?

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Is there some technicality whereby one could still hold rights to illustrations and the colour of the bindings and so on.
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Not sure if it applies in this case, but yes the exact typesetting is a separate copyright.
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A republication of something in the public domain can be copyrighted.
Not sure why this is being downvoted because it is correct.

The product of public domain materials can be copyrighted. For example, if someone were to publish a new book of Tom Sawyer whose text is in the public domain, that book can be copyrighted. Everyone can still publish their own new books of Tom Sawyer using the public domain materials, but noone can copy that book of Tom Sawyer.

Specifically, any new creative input to the book is copyrighted. Usually, this is things like new prefaces or forewords and new illustrations or cover art.
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Yep. It's one of the more important parts of copyright! Nobody will ever hear about most stuff in the public domain. Letting people benefit from hauling it out of obscurity with updates is good for the commons. Disney took it to an extreme, but I probably never would have heard of the stories they pulled from if someone didn't make hit cartoon movies based on them.
This is why Piracy is good for humanity.
I don't think I'd blanket it so far, but I'm this case, the greater good was probably being served by IA, true.

One of my books is on Anna's Archive. Since I give them away for nothing on my website, it's more flattering than anything. :)

Does your theory apply to the content consumed during the training of LLMs? If not why not? Where should we draw the line regarding intellectual property rights?
1. Absolutely.

2. Information and knowledge is for all.

3. The line to draw is 10 years to commercialize, and then release into public domain. Statute of Anne was 14 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne), but 10 is better for today's age.

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> The line to draw is 10 years to commercialize, and then release into public domain. Statute of Anne was 14 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne), but 10 is better for today's age.

I'd vote for politicians who push for laws like this. Sadly none do.

At least here the pirate party focuses more on green and far left politics than digital freedom these days.
Should GPLv3 code be licensed to the public domain after 10 years too?
My understanding is that the whole reason GPL has its stipulations is to counter-balance the lack of commons caused by commercial exploitation and expansion of copyright. So yes.
I completely agree, that's the part that I like about the GPL. That's why I'm a bit iffy about removing copyright outright (as it would mostly affect open source projects, proprietary software rarely has an available source that would be made free by such a move). But I see the point.
I mean the goal of GPLv3 and other copyleft licenses is to ensure that innovation building on the licensed work is also made available so others may continue to innovate, no? In my mind reducing copyright terms is aligned to that goal. You can disagree with that goal, but I don’t see anything inconsistent about reducing copyright terms and allowing copyleft to extend for a longer period.

Even so, I think in most cases if a piece of software has been unedited for 10 years it’s either feature-complete or obsolete. If it’s been under development for those 10 years, the original version being released into the public domain probably isn’t a significant threat to innovation by way of closed source improvements being made.

Yes.
The view across both is the same: people should be paid for their labour. So authors should be paid for the books they write. The line isnt that hard to draw.

The issue here isnt the IA's provision of brand new books that are still being published; this few would say should be legal. We're talking dead authors, books no longer in print, or books published so long ago that the second-hand market (which offers no pay to the author) is the place to find them.

As soon as works transition to "second-hand markets" we're no longer talking about the labour of the author being remunerated. At this point, it's pretty clear that it's a net benefit to society to make creative works publically available.

1. Yes.

2. LLMs are an incredible step forward in humanity's progression.

3. 10 years from publishing, then public domain afterwards. The content must be commercialised to have copyright; if it's available for free, it should already be public domain, because copyright is supposed to help you make money, not help you control the use of information.

My daughter's favourites list has shrunk by 50 books, about 10%. We read a few every day.

It's a great source of English books for us. Our city library is good, but it doesn't have thousands of picture books.

Libby has about 15 books. We borrow them often enough that it gives the error message that they are unavailable to borrow :/

With this judgement, does this force them to write a tool that determines whether a book is in print or not? Are there any good webservices, or will they just have to scrape Amazon, etc.? I've noticed a lot of their lending library is definitely out of print; is "out-of-print and public domain" just the ars writer's interpretation of the judgement?

If it isn't, a tighter awareness of what is in print and out of print might be able to cut into those 500K, if at all possible. If lending is out, best to be aggressive with what's left.

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If they're selling an ebook, I'm pretty sure that counts as in-print. You don't have to finance that. We don't need to kill trees to read, just like at one point we stopped killing goats to read.

> That's why current copyright status should be the bar --- that or granted permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright terms are nearly infinite at this point.

Some were pushing for it to be literally infinite.

Mary Bono, speaking to the House of Representatives:

> "Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti's proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress."

7 Oct 1998 Congressional Record, Vol. 144, page H9952.

> As you know, there is also Jack Valenti's proposal for term to last forever less one day.

The absolute contempt for the constituion required to even propose this is stunning.

Life plus 70 is scarcely "nearly infinite", and since Disney didn't try to extend the Sonny Bono copyright extension so as to keep "Steamboat Willie" in copyright, this doesn't seem likely to change.

It's also the result of an international consensus:

http://copyright.nova.edu/copyright-duration/

Life plus 70 years means the things you grew up with will most likely be never released in your lifetime. It's really not that far from an infinite term in the effect it has.
Do you have any data to back that up? Wouldn’t something being highly pirated indicate that there’s a lot of interest in a reprint?
When _Traditional Archery from Six Continents_ went out of print, the price quickly got to 4 digits (feedback loop from Amazon pricing algorithms), so I put up the money for a second print run --- before I picked up the printed copies someone put up an illicit, unauthorized PDF copy --- it took several years for me to sell out the print run and get my living room closet back.
Sounds like you could have just put up a PDF copy yourself.
That was not a distribution mechanism which I negotiated or paid for.
while it is also true that it is harder to get money for any print if there is anything else available at all.

It makes it beneficial to not reprint anything or otherwise be available.

With the goal being that one would get things back in print so as to compensate the author.
yes, that should be the goal. They don't fully align with the publisher who seeks his own compensation.
Given typical author contracts what mechanism is there for a publisher making a book available w/o compensating the author?
They can promote a newer book that appeals to a larger audience and/or has better margins. Simple choices have to be made some how.
This is sad. If this was indeed copyright infringement, what was the rationale behind the Internet Archive initially adding these books? The Internet Archive has never been a pirate site, so there must have been some logic or justification for indexing these books.
> what was the rationale behind the Internet Archive initially adding these books

They believed they had the legal right to distribute the books.

You can read the whitepaper about it here: https://controlleddigitallending.org/whitepaper/

It is a pirate site... I think in the end they are just enabled data hoarders who will hoard nearly everything... Including stuff nearly everyone would consider as piracy.
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> And even when IA temporarily stopped limiting the number of loans to provide emergency access to books during the pandemic—which could be considered a proxy for publishers' fear that IA's lending could pose a greater threat if it became much more widespread—IA's expert "found no evidence of market harm."

I feel that IA erred very badly in lifting the one-to-one correspondence that is at the heart of "controlled digital lending" (https://controlleddigitallending.org). It is frankly annoying that they did that, and then still purport to be doing CDL, even though the CDL website clearly states the 1:1 "owned-to-loaned" ratio is a key part of the CDL platform.

For the record I'm extremely pro CDL, but I feel the IA did not do any favors to the CDL movement with this boneheaded "activist" implementation of CDL

The main error here was embracing DRM in the first place.
Copyright lasts too damn long.
I am an author who relies on copyright for part of my living, yet I agree that copyright protection lasts too long. I feel like it should protect the work for a reasonable time--say 20 years--after which one must pay an initially modest but exponentially increasing fee to renew the copyright every X years. Big players like Disney could afford to keep their stuff out of the public domain for a while, but not forever. And many deceased artists' work would slip into the public domain when their estate could no longer afford the renewal fee.
This is an excellent solution. We also need to dial back the domain of conditional restrictions that authors can place on works that they release to the public.

I'm tired of watching old shows that have had music redubbed because of the labyrinthian copyright conditions that inherently arise in composite works.

Seems like the “Borrow Unavailable” message should be replaced with “Borrow prohibited by publisher.”
Or with a magnet URI.
as sad as this ruling is, simultaneously i see a wave of authors who have made their works freely available online, while selling hardcopies. this too from major technical publishers. see for instance ISLR (https://www.statlearning.com/).

speaking from a myopic view, in an age where source code can be freely distributed while maintaining ownership and rights*, why do literature have so much gatekeeping digitally?

while the authors that make their digital versions freely available bestow some trust on the other end (please don't print our work and sell it), simultaneously they can often benefit during the editorial process (many books are available this way before final publishing). moreover, if you write a work of fiction, nobody can run and create a movie based on it just because you can read the book for free.

this was a good opportunity to set precedence, but it has gone the other direction.

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Oh this appeal to the public, pithy empty words about openness and shit.

Here's the plain truth: IA ran a gigantic book piracy site during covid. They should've known they won't get away with it. I remember several authors begging them not to do this because it affected their income. I personally thought it monumentally stupid to put the Wayback Machine at risk.

They said, there are enough physical books in closed libraries to cover their lending. That's not how this works. They should've asked the publishers for permission first if necessary putting pressure on them via public. This is not a case of it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission because they must have known they won't be forgiven for this. I can't even.

I am not saying this is by any means moral or right. I am saying: this is the law. They actually got relatively lucky for not being fined to oblivion for this.

Yes - if the only penalty is having to remove the books, then this should be considered a win for IA.

This dumb move was an existential risk putting all their other work in danger.

This isn't about their pandemic actions, this is about the controlled digital lending they did for like a decade before COVID.

If it were just over the emergency library, the court would end the restrictionless lending and likely issue a fine. Instead, the court ruling was that CDL was illegal, and only mentioned the National Emergency Library to say "as CDL was already illegal, it was also illegal." There also would likely be a fine, but the case is being appealed.

IMO it's telling that publishers ignored the controlled limited lending that as you mentioned had been going on for a decade before COVID, and didn't file a lawsuit until IA started doing unrestricted lending.

My impression is that publishers were willing to look the other way when IA was distributing a small # of rare/out of print books, but once IA's homepage became unlimited copies of Harry Potter they felt like a line had been crossed.

They had been building up to a court case over that decade, including a 2019 open letter from most of the major players of the lawsuit. And if their problems were just with the NEL, they would have dropped things after the IA shut down the NEL.

The NEL was a PR boon for publishers, allowing the narrative to be "the IA deserved it for the few weeks they allowed a couple hundred copies of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe be unfairly borrowed." But it's irrelevant to the actual lawsuit.

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The suit was filed 2020 June. It's quite plain the uncontrolled lending triggered it even if it was about CDL.
Even if it presented an opportunity for them to pull the trigger, the publishers had their eyes on the lawsuit for years. The NEL may have been a mistake, but it's not relevant to the actual lawsuit.
Yup. Worse, people told them what that meant in terms of risk and begged them to reconsider, for the benefit of the larger archive.

And even worse, it was an epic strategic blunder. A campaign of "in this emergency, we would love to share books, but publishers don't agree" would've put massive pressure on publishers. They could've had a shot at advancing the legal situation of digital lending. Instead they opted for a publicity stunt.

Yes, sure, people couldn't go to libraries. That's when you collaborate with Project Gutenberg to address the actual need for reading material, highlight great free books, and keep hammering "and we could also lend you XYZ, if publishers only worked with us".

Then you reach out to publishers like Tor, who are already leaning further on the "unencumbered access" spectrum. And work out a deal with them. Promoting their books in return for larger lending count. Giving people the opportunity to buy additional copies for the digital library. (There's plenty of folks in the donor list)

And you continue saying "Hachette, HC, Wiley, and Penguin still don't want you to read their books".

Yes, what they did was the most idealistic approach. Sometimes, pragmatism is better in the long run.

AFAIK, the "borrowed" books on this platform weren't downloadable on the library site, merely viewable. Per TFA:

> "We use industry-standard technology to prevent our books from being downloaded and redistributed—the same technology used by corporate publishers," Chris Freeland, IA's director of library services, wrote in the blog. "But the publishers suing our library say we shouldn’t be allowed to lend the books we own. They have forced us to remove more than half a million books from our library, and that’s why we are appealing."

Is the "lend the books we own" part somehow inaccurate? I'm assuming IA has some sort of claim to the books they're lending and scanned, similar to any physical library. This seems very different from "a gigantic book piracy site".

Furthermore, I'd argue removing access to those books on IA will likely lead to one of the following:

A. people will fall back to actual piracy through other means to get the same content "even less legally" through well known alternatives

B. people simply not being able to access the content, e.g. if it's out of print , not available locally, or only available used for some exorbitant cost that wouldn't go to the publisher

C. people will spend whatever the publisher charges by buying from them directly

My understanding is that A and B are way more likely than C, since the vast majority of books on IA's website include out of print and hard to get books.

The best part had to be the whole moral grandstanding they had when doing it.

Controlled digital lending was tolerated. It was never legal.

I can't buy a bunch of DVDs and start a streaming service even if a each copy can only be watched by a single person at a time.

It really sucks since they do a lot of good work aside from this.

The emergency library wasn't what publishers sued over. They used it perhaps as a rhetorical cover but what they were actually suing to prevent is IA offering digital versions of scanned hardcopy books.

With IA's loss, publishers get to control the way libraries lend digital media because you can't take a hardcopy and legally "scan" it into a digital copy, so the only way to get a digital copy for lending is as a DRMed product from a publisher that does things like, for instance, expire after a certain number of loans.

Publishers considered scanned digital copies controlled by libraries to be a threat to their monetization efforts surrounding digital lending and they would eventually have sued IA regardless of the emergency library.

Moreover, the DRMed digital lending schemes that the publishers are "offering" libraries are very expensive compared to what a hardcover copy of the same work would have been, and publishers are increasingly vacuuming up libraries' entire budgets with excessive digital lending fees.

It's been observed that libraries would be illegal if they didn't already exist, and I think we're starting to walk down the road where they are illegal in the digital world.

> It's been observed that libraries would be illegal if they didn't already exist, and I think we're starting to walk down the road where they are illegal in the digital world.

I believe this is the crux of the attack by publishers. They don't want libraries to be able to buy books and lend them out. They want libraries to pay a huge monthly fee for every book lent.

All this could be avoided with some sensible legislation. Publishers should be prohibited from taking advantage of libraries, and some minimal compensation scheme should be offered for digital lending. Of course, that's not what companies want. It is the wild west of modern capitalism.
Did you ever hear of Zediva?

"Zediva thought it could circumvent the need to be licensed by literally renting customers a DVD and a DVD player, with your computer, tablet or Google TV as the remote control. Unlike the other streaming movie services, Zediva didn't turn a movie into a file on its servers that it can serve it to as many users as care to see it at once. Instead, Zediva’s servers had DVD drives and actual DVDs. So when you rented a movie, that disc goes out of circulation until you release it back to the company, just like in one of those increasingly rare real-world video stores."

https://www.wired.com/2011/08/zediva-shuts-down/

More: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warner_Bros._Entertainment_I....

> Controlled digital lending was tolerated.

The comments here about the lawsuit not being about the Emergency Library completely are technically true, but ignore this sentence. IA poked the bear with it's brazen actions.

> It was never legal.

Before this lawsuit, we weren't sure about this, but by provoking the lawsuit, we've forced the courts to make this decision.

Nitpick - I think if your DVD streaming service is free and single-person only, then you probably can - it would qualify under space or time shifting concepts. I don't think you have the right to monetize a DVD you purchase in general in the US, though.
Didn't work for that company that rented you an actual physical individual tv antenna which you accessed remotely.
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> it would qualify under space or time shifting concepts.

With the monumentally idiotic Aereo[1] decision, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Broadcasting_Cos.,_In....

I imagine if it was like...

You vessenes have an account, you can buy DVDs that I store for you, and you can view these DVDs using my service.

Even then odds are I'd get sued for copyright infringement.

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It hurts but I agree, they fucked up by doing that.
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During the early Covid period there was a general sense that “the rules don’t apply” or “the rules are insufficient” for this crisis and therefore can be safely ignored when they conflict with Covid counter-measures. Even those in authority were breaking some laws to respond to it. In addition any action that could be perceived as “combating Covid” was seen as an automatic good. Combine all that with the extreme fear and uncertainty and you have the perfect environment to make a stupid move. The IA should just admit the “emergency library” was a mistake, move on and stop wasting money and risking the entire project on this.
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Robert Miller, global director of books for the internet archive, stated in a documentary in 2013 that there had been an estimated 100 million books published in the world, that the archive had an initial target of 10 million, and that their book warehouse had space for 3 million. Based on those figures, 500k is a rather large number. Maybe some of those 500k are duplicate scans?

[1] https://archive.org/details/archive_documentary_internet_arc...

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What I will never understand is why this is needed at all. The books that I do find interesting I buy them. Sure, you can bypass paper by having ebooks. But is it really a replacement for a printed book? There is nothing like a printed book. No power needed, nor devices needed, you can go back to any page, any chapter instantly and if you have stomach even write on them. On the other side having the possibility to just quickly browse through a digital file to check if that title is of your interest or if it will serve you well if a technical book is invaluable. I have literally saved myself hours and money from not purchasing titles that turned out to be not of my interest. Imagine paying ridiculous amounts of money for technical books that then you find out the way a topic is approached is not really for you. Go ahead and check prices of for example Springer, Wiley, Addison Wesley books. And if out of print you pay a leg for a second hand one, effectively limiting access to knowledge only to people with big pockets.
This is very lazy argument. You may love paper book or hardbound or whatever, that is orthogonal to the discussion about copyright and lending.
You're correct. I've realized that I what said adds little to nothing to the discussion. Nevertheless I truly hope that the IA appeals this decision and a favorable outcome revokes this kind of actions from shameless publishers. Restricting such a basic thing as books and knowledge is truly a disgusting move.
I like ebooks because wherever I go, I always have the book I'm currently reading right in my pocket. If I get stuck waiting somewhere, I can read some diverting, thoughtfully-composed material instead of scrolling through reddit or playing a mindless game. Screens aren't quite as pleasant to look at as a printed page, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff for me.
Meh, I have a lot of trouble reading small print. I'm not dyslexic (I've been tested), but my brain just doesn't like small text, I have trouble parsing it and retaining stuff I'm reading. I might just be dumb, but sadly I cannot change my brain so thems the breaks.

Something I really like about ebooks and e-ink displays is that I can set the font as big as I want and it updates instantly. I read a lot better, and as a result I enjoy it a lot more. For me, the Kindle was kind of revelatory.

I borrow books from my library, which allows me to read the Kindle version, and I don't need to pay anything (outside of my taxes, I suppose).

E-readers for me are one of the best gadgets ever invented. Prices though are still high compared to few years ago. I own a Kobo Aura H20 and almost every time take it with me, possibly the best purchase I ever made. They are great for reading regular books, but I repeteadly find online that in general technical books still do not render properly and a lot of people complain after purchasing them.
Whatever, there are so many things on IA, that a "couple of books" will not make much difference to the experience. Besides, if you're an avid reader, you will find the books somewhere else also for free.
Possible to set up a server somewhere out there? Just host? What’s stopping that from happening?
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Arichive the internet archive, hopefully someone there has done it
I hope they do a data dump or leak of the archive before they comply. It’s a shame to lose so many actually scanned hardcover books.
The books are still there, and if you're disabled you can even read them. They don't delete anything, even when they say they do. They "dark" it and let it sit, waiting for changes in the law, or for it to fall out of copyright, or some admin on an information-wants-to-be-free bender to push a button assuming nobody will notice.
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This will backfire against publishers so hard. Now everyone has to resort to piracy.
The increased uncertainty to retain access to obscure and out of print works does seem to give one a desire to begin digital hoarding.
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Thanks, Chuck Wendig!
This is outrageous. it's difficult not to start hating this cannibalism-capitalism.
There is no greater folly of contemporary human society than the purposeful restriction of such vast and easily shareable repositories of knowledge. Perhaps these schemes made sense in the past but with the advent of the internet and independent groups willing to fund all hosting fees, we should move to models of publishing that do not require this restriction of information. Library genesis exists but necessarily must hide and create some friction in the discovery process. A legally unencumbered free library of all books for all people would be the greatest achievement in all of human history. We prevent this achievement due to our attachment to a specific economic system that serves as the current means of financially supporting authors. We must build alternatives to for-profit publishing, and the only resilient and widely acceptable system I can imagine is one where every community owns and controls the means of production upon which they depend for their survival. In such an economic system, the need for automation would be obvious and once implemented, all people would receive the benefits of automation. This would include such a wide allowance for leisure and free time that authors would no longer need to restrict access to their books to extract profits from their value their shared knowledge creates. All people would be free to do what they will.

It would take great effort to build such a system, but open source and digital repositories of machine designs would ensure that efforts are not duplicated. The effort would still be substantial, but what hangs in the balance is the opportunity to assure the freedom of all people and the creation of the most significant repository of knowledge humanity has ever conceived of. If we succeed it will be our greatest achievement as a species.

I believe in hundreds, maybe thousands of years, after humanity has finally evolved past our current monkey mentality, future historians will look back at this time period in awe: "They had the technology to make the sum of all human knowledge available to everyone... And they blew it! Further, they had the means to feed everyone, clothe everyone, house everyone, but they just walked away in the other direction, purely to maintain existing economic power structures." The future historians are going to wonder how strong our ideology was that we sacrificed all of what we could have at the altar of our scarcity-based religion.

If Star Trek Replicators were invented today, we're so stupid we'd outlaw them.

> If Star Trek Replicators were invented today, we're so stupid we'd outlaw them.

You're so optimistic to think the law would even be this fair. More like limit access to corporations as "the only custodians responsible enough to wield them", while still allowing the developing world to starve and further increasing their profit margins simultaneously to decreasing working wages and employment levels.

Hah some Ferengi actually did this in an episode of TNG! They showed up on a random planet with a replicator and then used their ability to produce anything as a means to subjugate the population.
I believe that was Voyager and the Ferengi were stranded in the delta quadrant after the incident with the stable-on-one-end wormhole in TNG. Imo it wasn’t the worst strategy in their situation.

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/False_Profits_(episode)

Oooh you’re so right thank you!
Fun episode title.
A script writer can make any fantasy appear to be workable.
You cannot make money off of people who are starving.
If they're literally at the point of starvation, maybe true - though famines often happen when people simply can't get access to food, even if they have the resources to buy it. So, bringing food to a starving area is unlikely to be bad for business.

However, the more important point is that you can surely make money off of people by becoming their only source of food/money - i.e. they would starve without you, so they accept whatever trickle of resources you deign to assign. This is extraordinarily common throughout history, coupled with a threat of violence that all states use.

> the more important point is that you can surely make money off of people by becoming their only source of food/money

If you the only source, there is a reason for that, usually because you are shooting people who try to leave.

I'll cite a counter for you. The US was the first country in the world to eliminate the specter of famine (around 1800). Free labor was the distinguishing ingredient, not slave labor. (The slaves at the time were used to primarily farm cotton and tobacco.) The average height of Americans increased dramatically throughout the 19th century. Scores of millions of Americans arrived in America as paupers and moved into the middle class.

The economic machine of America was fueled by free labor, not starving people.

In the past there was a fairly common practice to create a monopoly by outlawing people from importing food to a local economy. People may recognize the concept of mining towns, company stores, or its role in debt slavery.

The practice back in those days were to advertise inflated wages for a job in remote areas. People then traveled there, only to find out that food and living costs, all under the control of the company, were also inflated to the point where even a full working day would results in debt when subtracting food and living costs. People who tried to flee was prevented from doing so under the argument that they tried to escape acquired debt. The fines for smuggling food was also extreme, since food costs was the primary way that the companies held control over their debt slaves.

This practice was so vile that many countries created laws directly targeting it, including changes to inheritance so that debt would not follow from parent to child.

> outlawing people from importing food

I.e. the government is doing it.

No, this was companies doing it. They controlled ports, rail and roads (or what ever roads that may exist in remote areas), and controlling in-going supplies was a matter of policy and enforcement. Mining and railway companies where once very large and powerful, similar to some trading companies in the past.
In systems such as our own, where government power has been essentially captured by corporate lobbying, there is little difference between "government is doing it" and "companies are doing it."
"outlawing" means a law, and the law is done by government.
Slavery created the wealth that made industrialization in the north possible, and was the basis of the economic machine that you speak of.

You've reduced slavery to a parenthetical. Where do you think the cotton and tobacco went? Where do you think the money came from? Where do you think it got spent?

https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/8/16/20806069/slavery-ec...

Here's why that's wrong. When the Confederacy seceded, the economy of the South slid into ruin. The economy of the North thrived.

The Rebel army was barefoot, because Southern industry could not even make shoes. The reason that Lee was in Gettysburg was to loot the shoe factory at nearby Harrisburg.

Where were the industries in the South? Where were the industries in South America? Why did the South secede to protect their economy from the North?

> was the basis of the economic machine that you speak of

The Civil War destroyed what there was of the Southern wealth, literally burning it to the ground.

"made the South its most prosperous region"

That's just nonsense. Take a look at contemporary photos and paintings of the North and South before 1865, and you'll see the stark difference in prosperity. Railroads latticed the North, far outstripping mileage in the South.

Do you understand the difference between starting an engine and keeping it running? I'm referring to northern wealth btw.

> Where were the industries in the South? Where were the industries in South America?

They weren't there precisely because slave labor was so profitable that they did not see the need to industrialize.

> Why did the South secede to protect their economy from the North?

The south seceded in order to protect the institution of slavery.

> Take a look at contemporary photos and paintings of the North and South before 1865

Good thing we don't measure wealth by photos and paintings, and instead we have census data. Be serious, think about why an economy based on slave labor and agriculture would not build a network of railroads even if they had the money for it.

> Good thing we don't measure wealth by photos and paintings

Do you really think that photos and paintings are all lies?

> Be serious, think about why an economy based on slave labor and agriculture would not build a network of railroads even if they had the money for it.

I'm sorry, I can't take that comment seriously.

> slave labor was so profitable that they did not see the need to industrialize

Or that one. Sorry.

The South was so profitable they could not finance their military. The North did easily.

If you recall, the original contention was that "You cannot make money off of people who are starving." Clearly you can—in the short term, and enabled by violent coercion, as you've helpfully added.

My argument summed up is that slavery was a "local maximum" that A) generated an enormous amount of wealth early on, and was thus a crucial factor in developing the American economy, even if it was no longer the main driver of wealth by the time of the civil war, and B) made it unattractive for the south to risk seeking a global maximum (investing in industrialization) a strategic misstep for sure.

It's clear which strategy wins long term, I don't think that's a debate. I should have phrased my earlier comment better, sorry.

> enabled by violent coercion

The violent coercion is key, not starvation. Isn't it interesting that every example of an abuse by free markets actually turns out to be the government doing it? The anti-chinese laws, debt slavery, slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc.? It's almost as if these things won't happen with free markets!

> generated an enormous amount of wealth

I dispute that. Slavery was dying out in the US by 1800 (as evidenced by its disappearance in the northern states). The cotton gin revived it, but only for cotton, and it was dying out again by the time of the Civil War. The South though the North needed its cotton, but the North was importing it from Egypt. Egyptian cotton (not raised by slaves) was cheaper even including shipping it across the Atlantic.

> made it unattractive for the south to risk seeking a global maximum (investing in industrialization) a strategic misstep for sure.

So they sent their money north to found industries? That doesn't make any sense. Why didn't they invest locally, and get more slaves to work them, if slavery was so enormously profitable?

Slavery is terribly inefficient. First of all, your slaves hate you. They will work as little as they can get away with. They'll sabotage anything they can get away with. They'll piss in your oatmeal. They'll kill you if they can. You have to employ armed guards at all time. You have to provide cradle to grave care for them. They are expensive to buy. If your slaves don't have the right skills, selling them and buying ones with the right skills is far less efficient than just hiring a plumber. And so on.

The Nazis had all these problems with their slave labor war production. Sabotage by those workers was a constant issue.

Isn't it interesting that every example of an abuse by free markets actually turns out to be the government doing it?

Government instrumentalized to serve the interests of the wealthy elites, that is. So at the end of the day, it's the latter who are "doing" it.

This is false. You can create conditions where their only real choice is to work for you. And since they’re starving, they’ll work for very low wages. You sell the product of their labor and collect the surplus value created by their work.
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    The majority of the Chinese immigrants were male, many having left wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and future spouses at home in China. Foreign miner taxes in California, often aimed squarely at Chinese immigrants, prevented them from staking mining claims, which in turn forced them to look for opportunities elsewhere.

    The CPRR hired an initial group of 50 Chinese workers that in short time dispelled the negative assumptions held by some CPRR managers. They fostered a reputation of strength, efficiency, and reliability. More Chinese workers would be hired and they held a variety of jobs: laborers, foremen, contractors, masons, carpenters, cooks, teamsters, interpreters, and medical professionals. Even so, racial inequalities persisted. Chinese workers were paid an average of 30% less than their white counterparts. They were segregated in work camps and had to pay for their own lodging, food, supplies, and equipment.

    The disparity came to a head on June 24th, 1867, when all Chinese railroad workers from Cisco to Truckee, California, a 30 miles section of track, stopped work.
https://www.nps.gov/gosp/learn/historyculture/chinese-labor-...

Confrontation, Threats -- and a Bloodless Resolution

    After a week's worth of lean rations had settled upon the men, Charles Crocker returned to the work camps. He dictated the options as he saw them: wages and hours were immutable. If the hungry Chinese workers returned to work immediately they would only be fined, but if they continued on strike they would not get paid for the whole month of June.

    Motivated by malnutrition, most men agreed to return to work
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/tcrr-ch...

Numerous other examples in colonial history.

Note that you cite laws that restricted the Chinese workers' options. Here's one of those laws:

http://libraryweb.uchastings.edu/library/research/special-co...

All you said was “You cannot make money off of people who are starving.”

Yes you can, by coercing them in various legal and illegal ways. Your original comment was just the one quoted sentence above. It is not correct.

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And in a truly free market you can buy unicorns because both only exist in fantasy land. In reality there is always some government rules involved that shape the market.
You can force starving people into unfair arrangements where the choice is between getting screwed or dying of hunger. You can use the existence of starving people as a threat to keep your work force in line. Sometimes it's not even the starving people that you're making money off of, but their minerals and land.

There are a lot of ways to profit from suffering. And sometimes it's not even about profit—it can just feel so good to have an Other to oppress.

> You can force starving people into unfair arrangements where the choice is between getting screwed or dying of hunger.

History shows us that if you want to force starving people to work for you, you also need to shoot the people who refuse. See the Soviet gulags, and the Nazi slave labor camps.

Indeed the arrangement is violent and enforced with terrible violence, and in no way is this incompatible with profits.
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How does this account keep managing to make every thread on HN into 'communism bad' without getting flagged? Tell me your secrets Walter.
> make every thread on HN

Only in response to posts that extol the virtues of collectivism and/or how bad freedom is. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it :-)

> Tell me your secrets Walter

Too bad it seems to be a secret that free markets are far more successful. My dad was a finance professor at a college in his later years. He said students would tell him from time to time that they had never heard of a case for free markets before. Isn't that amazing for people that lived their whole life in a free market country?

I remember one person complained to me that I was "ramming freedom down his throat!" It boggles the mind.

Note that I don't attack or berate people. Only ideas.

dang knows about me. You can ask him.

I'm sure your "dirty job" makes sense to you, and it's clear you even feel very righteous about it.

Be that as it may, ideological crusades such as this are explicitly disallowed on here. "Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. That tramples curiosity."

Dang has been very clear on that, many times - whatever he "knows about you".

You really think it's "impossible" for a corporation with Star Trek replicator tech to profit from starving people? ... And that was the right time to fight "the virtues of collectivism"? You are trampling curiousity, and have admitted as much, and now you really ought to consider giving it a rest.

> Be that as it may, ideological crusades such as this are explicitly disallowed on here. "Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. That tramples curiosity."

That goes for both sides, every time someone repeats the meme "capitalism bad!" they are perpetuating their own crusade, at that time the gloves are off and it is free to engage with them. You can see it in this thread where people started out by trash talking capitalism, at that point it is ok to go and defend capitalism according to HN guidelines even if you do it in every thread where people start attacking capitalism.

Its those who start attacking capitalism everywhere that needs to stop if this happens too often, since they are almost always the instigators.

> every time someone repeats the meme "capitalism bad!" they are perpetuating their own crusade

That's called 'false equivalence'. Discussions about economic systems can be had without being crusades.

> at that point it is ok to go and defend capitalism according to HN guidelines

No, I don't think the spirit of the guidelines is to permit "ideological battles" as long as "someone else starts it". The clear intent of the guidelines is to discourage ideological crusade altogether.

> Its those who start attacking capitalism everywhere that needs to stop if this happens too often

'Selective enforcement'. Your argument suggests that it's okay to defend capitalism in response to criticism, but doesn't extend the same courtesy to those criticizing capitalism.

> since they are almost always the instigators.

A generalization without any evidence. Also, capitalism is currently the dominant system in the West, making it both the obvious starting point for discussion of economic systems, and the most productive candidate for legitimate criticism.

I think your comment shows severe bias and an adversarial approach to discussion. Maybe you could form an appreciation for the spirit of fostering curiosity and constructive dialogue that is promoted here.

> That's called 'false equivalence'. Discussions about economic systems can be had without being crusades.

I had no idea when I started this thread with a throwaway quip about future historians and Star Trek that (besides being one of my highest voted comments) it would veer off into this 70+ reply monstrosity about slavery and communism. HN commenters take things in wild directions, and I seem to have violated the no-flamewar rule unintentionally. For that I am sorry.

It would be nice to be able to discuss the multitude of possible economic power structures unlike the ones we have today, without someone always barreling in on a crusade against communism (which I never even mentioned nor support myself). This discussion doesn't seem possible when people insist on a false dilemma.

> A generalization without any evidence. Also, capitalism is currently the dominant system in the West, making it both the obvious starting point for discussion of economic systems, and the most productive candidate for legitimate criticism.

If someone made the same remark about non-democratic political systems, would you say the same thing? "Democracy is the current dominant system in the West, making it both the obvious starting point for discussion of political systems, and the most productive candidate for legitimate criticism." I doubt it. I think some honesty is useful: you want to criticize capitalism but you don't want someone to defend it, you want a space to criticize it. I think if you're going to criticize capitalism then you need to be willing to fend with someone willing to defend it. It's fair game. It may seem unfair, but just like we hold onto our values of democracy tightly so some hold onto their values of capitalism.

If you want a space specifically to criticize capitalism, there are plenty on the internet, and HN isn't one of them. I'm pretty sure you can throw a pebble randomly at literally any Bluesky English poster or Mastodon instance and you'll find one though.

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As an anarcho communist and prolific HN commenter I sigh every time I see his name. Sadly he doesn’t actually understand communism and seems to be stuck in 1980’s anti communist propaganda. For example the sibling comment to this one where he conflates collectivism with being “anti freedom” (lol). At least he’s getting the downvotes he deserves in this thread.
> Sadly he doesn’t actually understand communism

Maybe you can cite examples of it working?

It's legal to start a commune in the US. Why not give it a try? Report back to us how it goes!

> conflates collectivism with being “anti freedom” (lol)

I do, because collectivism means you do not own the fruits of your labor. I bet you'd be outraged if I helped myself to some of your stuff that I decided you didn't need.

As a non-usian it seems kind of weird to see someone from the US declare that using weapons to keep people working is a non-usian thing to do, when a lot of the news we get from over there is cops killing people, school shootings, stuff about school-prison pipelines, things like that.

Then there are the genocidal militias employed by US companies to keep people from unionising, the genocidal treatment of indonesians, and so on.

As a survivor of communism, I sigh every time I see this ideology that killed countless millions still being pushed in places where other inhuman ideologies (like fascism and its ilk) will attract a swift ban.
> At least he’s getting the downvotes he deserves in this thread.

Feel free to downvote me all you like, Taylor!

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[Note: spam link in comment.]
>History shows us that slave labor cannot compete with free labor.

History shows us that you can build Pyramids and the Chinese wall with slave labor, probably not affordable with "free labor". But maybe we should also look at "modern slavery" that is "free labor" but without any chance to get another job or get reported to the police.

>it's about forcible slave labor, forced with guns and whips.

Worked incredible well for Belgium, and works incredible well for every warlord in west-Africa...and for us (>bloody< cheap raw-materials for our phones)

I know what you want to say with it, forcing specialized people with whips isn't going to give you good results in the long run, however if you just need their joules it's shockingly effective.

> History shows us

Does it?

    Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t slaves who built the pyramids. We know this because archaeologists have located the remains of a purpose-built village for the thousands of workers who built the famous Giza pyramids, nearly 4,500 years ago.
https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/were-the-egyptian-pyram...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Egypt#Great...

Yes, maybe the slaves did the less "worthy" jobs:

>Slaves were a constant presence in ancient Egypt. Starting with the Old Kingdom (2613 - 2181 BC), slaves took on different roles. Some became soldiers, others scribes.

https://www.worldatlas.com/ancient-world/were-slaves-used-to...

>Does it?

Yes it does, or do you have another argument against the Chinese wall or Belgium for example? Do you really want to argue against the fact that slaves did (and do) the hardest, most back-breaking jobs?

Slave labor can indeed accomplish things, but it cannot compete with free labor.
>but it cannot compete with free labor.

In terms of quality you are right, in terms of quantity you are wrong (in the past), but in this day and age replacing people (slaves) with machines changes the whole thing again.

So yes, free labor with specialized people and specialized machines and cheap energy is the most competitive.

> or get reported to the police

That's not free labor. It's government coercion, again.

> Worked incredible well for Belgium

???

> works incredible well for every warlord in west-Africa

None of them have been able to compete in the free market.

>That's not free labor. It's government coercion, again.

That was the definition of "modern slaves", HOW you force people to be slaves is really not important.

https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/modern-slavery/

>???

Rubber -> Car-tires from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State

>None of them have been able to compete in the free market.

If you can sell your good's at the cheapest prices you compete very well in the "free market", there is also coltan in Brazil, Australia and China, but DRC sells the cheapest.

https://globalforestcoalition.org/the-dark-side-of-technolog...

Capital is most valuable when demand exceeds supply (producer surplus).
It doesn’t matter, people are starving.
Europeans and Americans are now taxing green technology, which they said in the past they want, because it is built in another country...
Tariffs do decrease competition and lead to higher prices for consumers....but...there are certain industries important for national security where a country may wish to subsidize an industry like building renewables or use a tariff against a country like China that is trying to corner the market through nationalized companies. Because those companies are a wing of their government (so to speak) a free market company can't compete and eventually all you have are Chinese companies for these critical industries and they can dictate policy to us.
> there are certain industries important for national security where a country may wish to subsidize an industry ... against a country like China that is trying to corner the market through nationalized companies

Your argument doesn't even make sense: in the first part you say yes, we need national support for this sector of the economy, while a few words later you say that China is cheating by giving support to the same sector.

Because they don't want to be dependent on another country for energy infrastructure.
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Especially when another country is undercutting domestic production of others in order to impose an Orwellian ideology.
I think the truth is we just failed to invest in the manufacturing tech and now they’re beating us in the market, so we’re taxing them to make it hard for them to compete. I’d way rather we just invest and outcompete them. I don’t think they’re intentionally undercutting us they just have lower costs from decades of investment that we haven’t been doing ourselves.
They're undercutting us by virtue of labor standards and other corners that we don't cut.
The USA cuts corners on labor standards for more than a century, but Europeans are Ok with that. The same logic applies, Europeans get a lot of their products and services from a country that has little to no safety nets for their workers, so by buying from USA, Europeans are funding their own demise.
The EU sould also strive for more independence from US corporations, yes, especially the silicon valley ones. Having entire governments depend on Microsoft is a problem.
Honestly I know that used to be true, but how true is that today? Laborers in the USA don’t have great standards either. What proportion of the cost reduction comes from lower labor standards and what proportion comes from the fact that they absolutely have invested more in manufacturing than we have?

I order my PCBAs from JLCPCB in China and they’re about 1/10th the cost of ordering something from the USA. But you can watch a factory tour, it’s not some horrible labor conditions it’s huge highly automated machines: https://youtu.be/jTBOSob5MLg

They just invested more than we did.

So maybe their labor conditions are still worse than ours, by some amount, but it’s more than just saving on labor that got their prices low.

It can be multiple things at once. They did indeed invest a lot more into manufacturing but they are also definitely using slave labor to cut on costs (see https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/02/01/china-carmakers-implicat...). Who knows as well to which extent the government funds these companies and keeps them afloat.

> But you can watch a factory tour, it’s not some horrible labor conditions it’s huge highly automated machines: https://youtu.be/jTBOSob5MLg

Rhetorical question but do you really believe they would be allowed to publish anything showing a human rights violation on youtube?

To get this footage he probably had to agree that all footage has to be reviewed by the company. There is no way they green light anything that makes them look bad. I would not be shocked if a party official had to be there to make sure he only shows the great side of everything.

I’m not sharing the video as some foolish “proof” of the absence of labor violations. I’m sharing it as positive proof of the many very large highly automated high throughput machines they have! It’s clear they have invested a lot in machinery to produce their goods.

Did the Chinese government help invest in that production capacity? I don’t know probably, but I think the US should be doing that too so my point that we failed to invest still stands.

The point is, it’s not some evil communist plot to undercut us. They just actually invested in manufacturing and that’s what I’m trying to show with the video. Seriously click through it. There’s a lot of large high throughput automated machines there! There is no equivalent to that facility in the USA that I have ever heard of. Probably big companies like Intel have some impressive machinery but this is a job shop where anyone with $5 can place an order for PCBs. And I seriously doubt this is some North Korean style propaganda show where a bunch of slave labor is hidden behind a door. This factory is a state of the art PCB fabrication facility that gets cheap prices due to investment in capacity. They’re not cheating. They just actually invested and we’ve failed to catch up.

Somehow in the West it is now an ideological crime to point out the obvious: that China has high tech industries, new technology, and scientific development. These are all things that they didn't expect could appear in a country like China, so they want the evidence to be excluded from the internet and labeled as fake news or propaganda.
The USA absolutely fucked manufacturing into the sun, but that doesn’t come back overnight, and China cheats in ways that we can’t. You have a comment below that seems to indicate you have no clue how bad they have it vs US blue collar workers. You might want to do some reading on that before pontificating on this subject.
I get what you're saying. But at the same time, the whole Boeing debacle makes me wonder how many other skeletons we're hiding.

Either way, this is the consequences of letting corporations lobby to stifle innovation. They wanted short term money and we're all paying the price.

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There is no problem with the investments size, China had way less investments. The problem is in the amount of work and production regulations, which in some cases just doesn't exist in China.
In that case, Great job divesting in domestic labor in lieu of offshoring. Mission accomplished
Green technology is funded by our taxes in EU. 8000€ on photovoltaic panels per household. Made in China.
Chinese cars? really?

They are at best a hazard.

The Chinese government dumped tons of money into every one of those cars, they are being sold at a loss. Not because it's good for any one, rather because china fucked up.

Every single one of those cars is a state funded fire hazard about to go on the road.

EDITL: cause looking up data is hard apparently:

western data:

https://www.edmunds.com/electric-car/articles/electric-car-f...

The data we see from china: https://news.metal.com/newscontent/101781161/there-are-about...

The anti china reporting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMKpCiDomgM

Do note, that were talking about a nation that will happily NOT report on stats like youth employment when its bad, so take what you read with more than a few grains of salt.

Personally I don’t hold this view of China. I think they invested in manufacturing while we divested and now they’re simply reaping the rewards of those investments by producing superior or soon to be superior technology.

A lot of people in the west have a vested interest in discrediting Chinese manufacturing but if we put our heads in the sand and refuse to see what is really happening they’re just going to pass us by.

Note that basically every automobile producing country puts government money in to that industry so highlighting that China is doing it is on its own meaningless.

Cars have gotten a lot safer over the years, so how far of a setback would this be? Are they on par with 90s cars? 80s? 50s?

https://www.euroncap.com/en/results/byd/dolphin/50011 Hmm, that's a pretty good score. Is this version different?

UHH western data:

https://www.edmunds.com/electric-car/articles/electric-car-f...

The data we see from china: https://news.metal.com/newscontent/101781161/there-are-about...

The anti china reporting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMKpCiDomgM

Edit: it's a battery fire, so lithium, a metal. It does not go out. You just let it burn till it's done being angry. The Chinese ones are doing it at random. Sometimes with people in the car.

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do you have any evidence that they're more prone to fire than any other EVs?
https://news.metal.com/newscontent/102243830/tragedy-of-elec...

The Chinese government cant even keep it under wraps with how bad it is. If you pay attention to Chinese news there's a few of them every week. And thats the ones we hear about, mostly because the were spontaneous, or in buildings/gargages, or people die.

Go look it's hard to fuckin miss.

I will take it on faith that you’ve seen loads of examples but I’d be particularly interested in statistics about the number of fires per vehicle produced compared to the same for vehicles from other companies. Obviously one article saying that an EV caught fire isn’t compelling as we have that here too. The problem was so bad with the Chevy Bolt EV that some of them caught fire while just sitting in people’s driveways and the entire fleet had to be recalled.

Without statistics I’m totally unmoved by even a long list of Chinese examples as the same can be produced here too. And Teslas have killed plenty of people due to faulty self driving software!

If it was only a safety issue the governments in the US and EU would only need the existing legal infrastructure for car safety to regulate Chinese electric vehicles.

The US tariffs are not even officially claimed to have anything to do with safety, but everything to do with industrial competition.

The problem is the wheels fall off in a fender bender and there's only a 50% chance the airbags will deploy when needed.
At least the steering wheel doesn’t fall off while you’re driving:

https://techcrunch.com/2023/03/08/tesla-under-investigation-...

So its at least as good as Chrysler.
> If Star Trek Replicators were invented today, we're so stupid we'd outlaw them.

Something like this already happens with housing and NIMBYism.

We’re in the middle of “The Dark Ages II” and we don’t even know it.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how historians will view our chunk of history and it ain’t too good.

There will be some bright spots, but for the most part humans have been behaving pretty terribly, at scale, since harnessing the power of electricity.

> If Star Trek Replicators were invented today, we're so stupid we'd outlaw them.

History shows the labor unions and leftists would also be against replicators. We see that today with how people are very against AI advancements that would put artists out of jobs, they would rather halt progress than lose their jobs.

Of course corporations that stand to lose out are also against it, but don't kid yourself labor movements are just as greedy and anti progress when progress would inconvenience them.

> History shows the labor unions and leftists would also be against replicators.

Only because the rich would exploit the replicators and would leave everyone else in the dust starving.

Nobody would have a problem with it, if you could survive on them.

Exactly. If AI would free you from having to work to survive there would be a lot less opposition. But it doesn't while taking away some of the better options for said work from some people.
> they had the means to feed everyone, clothe everyone, house everyone, but they just walked away in the other direction, purely to maintain existing economic power structures.

Your idea has been tried over and over. It just makes things worse, far worse.

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> If Star Trek Replicators were invented today, we're so stupid we'd outlaw them.

Related, I'm surprised how fast people stopped worrying about 3D printers making guns.

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The country that allowed replicators would be no.1 fairly quickly
>The country that allowed replicators would be no.1 fairly quickly

No.1 in jobless, fat and addicted peoples. You need the full Star Trek experience/mindset before you introduce unlimited everything. Also the first thing that would be produced are weapons, drugs and food....and everything sex.

Because everyone with a disposable income today is an overweight druggie bent on blasting their neighbor's head off?
The sum of human knowledge in written form is largely available on pirate sites like scihub or libgen. And the feed clothe house stuff is coming along. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/prevalence-of-undernouris...
I believe in 5 years time, digital information will be so easily transformable, that copyright holders (and patent holders) will have a very difficult time enforcing the property rights.

When a book can be readily transformed into audiobook, or even a song, a movie and anime, a sketch, a scientific diag or anything else, how you define property in that environment? Pretty impossible.

I think a useful analogy is when we lived in caves. A cave is given as is, no way to transform it, to evolve it and optimize it. As long as we found new ways to create an enclosure, then technology advancement really took off. Houses made of rocks, clay, concrete, wood started popping off everywhere.

The same way with books. A printed book is not transformed to anything else really. As long as written words can be represented in a more flexible way, then they are on to the race for technology advancement.

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Replicators can produce so much mass so quickly, they pose an existential threat to public health and safety.

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> we should move to models of publishing that do not require this restriction of information.

It’s interesting how this comment veers into a completely hypothetical overhaul of society in which money doesn’t matter, for reasons which of course are hand-waved away.

On one hand: Sure! Sounds great! If someone can reinvent all of society in a way that everyone is free to do whatever they want and not worry about getting paid, then by all means let’s go for it.

On the other hand: These proposals are so fanciful and far-fetched (at least in our lifetimes) that these comments read more like a tacit admission that the current system is indeed necessary.

I don’t really understand this logic. Are you saying that multi generational projects are… well I don’t really know what you’re saying. When the world was dominated by the divine right of kings, and changing that was going to take hundreds of years… should people not have discussed what to do to move down a better path?

My plan as a robotics engineer is to prove that open source robotics can be a viable industry by building open source farming robots (see my profile) so that a generation of children grow up understanding that community owned community built robotics are a perfectly viable option, and we don’t need venture capital for robotics infrastructure development.

There’s a generation of adults today who grew up watching Carl Sagan’s COSMOS from 1980 and are now adults working in law to combat climate change - a major call to action in his show the fruits of which Sagan would never live to see.

I fully believe that the world I advocate for will never be fully realized by the time I die. This does not discourage me from laying the ground work and having the conversations. Just as I am working on open source robotics for farming, I encourage other people to contribute to open culture so that we can some day build a better world.

In fact that’s what the people at the internet archive are doing too. Building a better future by fighting now to establish precedent and prove to people what is possible. Human lifetimes are short and I see no reason to restrict our projects to things which can be achieved today.

>When the world was dominated by the divine right of kings, and changing that was going to take hundreds of years… should people not have discussed what to do to move down a better path?

We could. But historically, it ends in a bloody battle of nobles vs nobles and sometimes they break off and become the next generation of noble. Despite the name, their goals are not necessarily that.

>This does not discourage me from laying the ground work and having the conversations. Just as I am working on open source robotics for farming, I encourage other people to contribute to open culture so that we can some day build a better world.

What ultimately discourages me is that the person who does this will not reao the rewards they sow. On the contrary, the next generation noble may contort it into something absolutely dysyopic.

Conversation doesn't mean much without action. But us non-nobles talking about bloodshed is seen as passe and uncouth. Not much will happen until we take it back by force (not necessarily violent, but a huge, unignoreble gesture coordinated by millions... A very hard problem to do as a grassroots movement)

I think yours is a noble goal that many do share, even if they don't openly express it.
Thank you, that means a lot to me.
> My plan as a robotics engineer is to prove that open source robotics can be a viable industry by building open source farming robots (see my profile) so that a generation of children grow up understanding that community owned community built robotics are a perfectly viable option, and we don’t need venture capital for robotics infrastructure development.

Super solarpunk, I love it.

Yusss thank you! I love it too. I’m workin on it right now. :)
Have you heard of the Global Village Construction Set? I think you’ll appreciate it.
Spotify has a free tier where you can listen to any song for free. YouTube lets you watch almost anything for free. Both of these also pay the creators. There are many more services peddling free content and even covering hosting costs.

Libraries are free.

We have plenty of completely non-hypothetical non-society-overhauling ways to access information for free. Lots of information is free, lots of it is accessible.

> the current system is indeed necessary.

Not all of the current system is equally necessary. Maybe not necessary at all, it just so happens to be the system we have now. There have been plenty of radically different models of society over the years. Yea, they're gone now, but this current one isn't particularly old either.

Just to be more concrete - if you stop using and protecting your trademark, you can lose it. If you just hoard and don't use a copyright, you won't lose it. We already have systems in place that can provide similar info exchange for free.

You're comparing to the free tiers of Spotify and Youtube, which in effect is saying that we should put ads into our books.
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Libraries tend not to put ads into books to fund them.

The physical restrictions in a library - ala, only 1 person could read it at a time - is what prevents publishers from trying to charge more or prevent it.

The basic issue is that if a library is filled with electronic books, the publishers will stand to lose a lot of profit. Now I'm not arguing that they deserve this profit, but there's no good model so far that both preserves the profit motive, but also make available the copyrighted material digitally and unrestrictedly.

Perhaps there could be a form of library "fee" that is funded by tax payers, in a similar way to how public radio gets funded. The state pays some amount to each published author who make their book available in the library, from a pot of money collected from taxation.

> Libraries tend not to put ads into books to fund them.

They do not, they are government funded. But to say they are funded insufficiently as is (without this advent of better electronic resources) is under selling the issue.

>Perhaps there could be a form of library "fee" that is funded by tax payers, in a similar way to how public radio gets funded.

If your local, that's called taxes. And people reaction to paying more taxes is pretty much why corporations always win. We'd rather sacrifice time with intrusive ads than pay more for a community effort.

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The majority in the west value their time as basically zero. They’d rather watch 20 minutes of adverts an hour than pay a couple of dollars.

The cost of advertising on the Super Bowl is about $8/hour, so not only are people selling g their time for $8 an hour, they are then paying more than that on top in extra costs in buying things (the only reason someone advertises is because they make more profit then by not advertising, the expected return on an hour of Super Bowl adverts is more than $8 per viewer)

Adverts are a cancer on society, one we love.

> The basic issue is that if a library is filled with electronic books, the publishers will stand to lose a lot of profit.

Profit they're only getting because they figured out a way to cheat the concept of ownership and get around the first sale doctrine.

> The physical restrictions in a library - ala, only 1 person could read it at a time - is what prevents publishers from trying to charge more or prevent it.

Publishers hate digital lending that doesn't give them money, even when it acts just like a physical book: one person at a time, takes hours to be restocked, etc. Restrictions like that don't stop publishers from fighting back; only precedent keeps them in check.

>they figured out a way to cheat the concept of ownership and get around the first sale doctrine.

How do you figure we get around this problem? The ability to reshare infinite electronic copies of a work does make this a legitimate issue compared to a physical good. I don't have any good answer.

The problem here isn't that we need to find a way to compensate authors for their work, it's that people can't survive without compensation, so writing for the sake of writing, without compensation, often isn't viable.

If we had some form of universal income, or other form of distribution of goods such that people didn't need to labor for a living (at least not with the current US norm of 40-50 hours a week), then it would be much more practical to say that all books are free for mass consumption. Then authors can write not for compensation, but for the pleasure of writing and knowing their works will be appreciated. And writers with a famous profile, who want the spoils of compensation, can be sponsored/patronized, like artists in the Renaissance.

I don't have a full plan, but I know exactly where I'd start:

A scheme where you lend each copy you own to one person at a time and don't use it yourself, with them deleting the loaned copy at the end, and with a reasonably large granularity like "1 day", needs to be legal. And probably disallow publishers from blocking such a scheme.

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Without draconian DRM to enforce, this is only going to work in a fantasy. I mean, piracy already exists today, and this could be achieved if people voluntarily follow these rules outlined.
Nothing stops you from copying a book or a DVD from the library, but the lending process seems to work fine for those.
I thought the same but imagine we put books in our ads(!) The newspaper is a pretty low effort barely useful thing. We could chop a book by its charters, put ads on every other page and stuff the 20 chapters into peoples mailbox. One per week. They are more likely to go on shelves than the current product has odds for eyeballs before bedding the litterbox.

An idea so terrible it might just work.

Just to be fair, Spotify's free teir has changed significantly and no longer let's you play a specific song anymore.
Yes, I agree with you about this comment specifically. But on this issue in particular, we do not need to overhaul society so drastically. We have laws about lending out books one has purchased. We have laws about how long copyright should last. We can change these laws but still retain much of their benefit while allowing much more freedom to access knowledge.

There is a line here and we may be walking too far on one edge of it. But the comment you replied to does have a utopian tone far from the pragmatism this case actually revolves around.

The US book market is 0.5% of the GDP. The government could subside every author with the same salary they make today and it would only be a small fraction of the amount we spend on the military.
This is true of many, many careers: if you take that career in isolation, you could fund just the people in that career at their current salaries, for a tiny fraction of GDP. That doesn't scale to the entire populace, and there's no good justification for subsidizing this group and not others.

UBI, on the other hand, is entirely feasible, not least of which because it ditches the completely infeasible "at their current salary" in favor of "enough to live, not enough that most people won't want more". And you'd create substantial growth via startups and other creative endeavors. UBI gives everyone the option to try experiments that might not pay off right away.

A reason for subsiding this group but not others is that our economic system is so bad at utilizing the potential of their work.

It's literally free to distribute all books/newspapers/magazines to all people in the world. Why aren't we?

It's common to have state intervention in markets that are unable to utilize resources efficiently on their own.

About UBI, sure! The point of my comment was that this isn't a "fanciful overhaul of society" but a real possibility that could be implemented given some though and political will. UBI also fits that category, but is probably a bit more expensive and disruptive than financing authors.

I'm glad that the wages for teachers come from the government. Imagine a world with only private schools.

Same with books. Easy access to books was a huge contributor to the industrial revolution and especially Germany profited from weak copyright laws. Would you rather insist on your rights for a few coins more - or transform an entire generation?

How would you determine if someone qualifies as an author deserving full salary? Can I become an author by simply meeting a word count quota? What prevents a large portion of the population from quitting their jobs and becoming authors instead?
My understanding is that most bands make more on merch than the actual distribution of their music, because fans always want more and are willing to pay them directly to encourage more works.

There has to be a better way than the model we have now where everything is so tightly controlled.

You could have some kind of peer review process, or base it on popularity, or some other system.

I'm not saying it's a solved question, I'm just saying it wouldn't be that expensive relative to other public expenditure.

The US subsidizing the book market would be an incredible waste of my taxes, given that the majority of published works are fiction, political drivel, and non-fiction memoirs that provide near-zero value to "humanity" that the root poster is clutching pearls about.

The IA's collection of books they had to remove almost certainly has the same composition, and therefore the same loss in value (roughly zero) after being made inaccessible.

This view is staggering and would (imo) fit well in a comical/dystopic novel by a sufficiently misanthropic author
Accusations of sexism, especially false ones, are categorically inappropriate for HN. Please never do this again.
Sexist? That was not my intention. I meant misantripic in the sense of:

> 2: marked by a hatred or contempt for humankind The moral corruption he saw around him made him misanthropic.

Also I didn't mean the commenter was misanthropic, but that the view they held would fit a misanthropic authors novel as part of their satire.

Maybe you thought I wrote "misogynistic"?

You're right, I confused "misanthropic" and "misogynistic".

That turns out to not make your comment any less incorrect or manipulative, though. Requiring people to pay for the stuff they consume isn't even remotely misanthropic.

Didn't mean that either. I meant that saying the entire book industry is a waste not worth tax money, implying other uses of taxes like military spending is more valuable, is something that could have been said by a fictional character conjured by a person who thinks lowly of humankind.
Give people a book coupon? Then they can chose what they think important?
There's no need.

Memoirs, political books, fiction - no need for the taxpayer to subsidize, people can buy themselves.

Actually useful technical material: already available for free on the internet.

Poor people are not dying on the streets because they can't read the autobiography of the latest president. Tax dollars going to that instead of climate change or cancer research or something similar is incredibly immoral.

1. Not a fan of privation fallacy

2. Your view on books and by extension, long term education is well, short term. A classic issue used to defund libraries. You don't give proper resources and knowledge to get the homeless today off thr street. It's to ensure much less of the next generation isn't also on the street.

There were a vast number of technical books on the internet archive, that was mostly what I used it for. They’re not easily accessible elsewhere, maybe pirated from random torrent sites but they’re not discoverable or easily searched.
Why should we turn information into a "product", introducing scarcity where none is required? It's just a misguided attempted to force every part of society into a capitalist system, regardless of whether it makes any sense. It will probably fail in the long run anyway, since who wants to pay for something that they can get for free, even it involves circumventing the rules. How many here would pay $30 to take a casual look at a journal article, when they could get it from Sci-Hub?

If we are sticking with a mostly capitalist system so that money is so important to get things created, then a government can provide some for this purpose (and they often do already). It's not like they don't borrow or print money in whatever quantity is needed.

I suspect that it's the same issue that has led certain neoliberals and libertarians to denying that various forms of pollution are a problem. There's just no way that it can be fixed within capitalism, so better just deny that there's any problem at all.

>Why should we turn information into a "product", introducing scarcity where none is required

Because expert information comes from experts who are paid a lot to do stuff not involving the authoring of their ideas. And we need to incentivize them to get said valuable information. How many people here have some novel expertise in their fields? How many would help produce technical articles pro Bono? Or for pay but end up mass pirated?

I 1000% agree the publishers themselves take way too much off the top of these authors, but the concept of "just provide knowledge out of thr good of your heart" doesn't work at scale.

>If we are sticking with a mostly capitalist system so that money is so important to get things created, then a government can provide some for this purpos

Which runs into all the problems we all know too well. Something something politics, something something taxes, something something lobbying.

On top of all that, the government just simply doesn't compensate as well as the private sector. I'm not sure if this will ever change.

> we need to incentivize them to get said valuable information.

Why should that incentive take form of making information a product?

"just provide knowledge out of thr good of your heart" is a gross misrepresentation of what the person before said, and you even quote the passage indicating as much.

It seems like you're trying to portray the problem as a dichotomy: "product" vs "goodness of heart". That other ways pose problems doesn't mean much. The current side of the false dichotomy causes problems as in the OP.

>It seems like you're trying to portray the problem as a dichotomy: "product" vs "goodness of heart". That other ways pose problems doesn't mean much. The current side of the false dichotomy causes problems as in the OP.

Their suggestions last people who "just want to deny it happens" and their solution is to just let the government pay for it (spoilers: it's allready subsidized), so I don't exactly understand why you think I'm establishing a dictonimy.

Yes. People are unironically arguing to simply abolish copyright. It's an extreme solution and I disagree. I haven't heard many good moderate solutions out there because people are so pro-piracy that I'm inclined to think they don't care about the people behind novel ideas, just benefiting off their work. You get tit for tat with that sort of thinking.

I have moderate ideas, but as I've learned moderate tales fade to the extremities if you aren't even slightly aligned. We're very disaligned here, so the starting step to to show why that extreme take is bad and work from there.

Now that I never said the current system is fine. Because that's not my argument, nor the one the other extreme take needs to hear. But if that's all you got from my chain I suppose I need to do the same thing with you.

Why did you react to "but people need to survive" with "well it NEEDS to be a product"? Compensation comes in many ways, and I was simply saying that the government has historically been horrible at compensating most parts of any industry. What makes this time with books different?

Um, I reacted to this exchange in context:

>>Why should we turn information into a "product"[...]

> Because [...]

That clearly indicates that you're in fact advocating it to be a product. Perhaps I misunderstood your post, but then I'm afraid you're not making yourself very clear. I'm also not seeing any references to survival in your post, just of incentivizing where work goes, so I am fairly certain what you think you write is not what you actually write.

I've gotten 15 other responses and the ideas I write and respond to inevitably blend together. So I apologize if I make some assumptions based on statements from other parts of the post that I have answered.

Regardless, I am a huge fan of the devil's advocate. You can talk about points without them being your complete world view. That's the assumption that we seem misaligned with. Just because I don't want all information to be free the moment it is published (or stolen) doesn't mean I want to abolish copyright.

Oh, being a devil's advocate is all fine. But when it's not clear what the advocate is advocating it stops being interesting.
> And we need to incentivize them to get said valuable information.

Are we sure about this? It seems to me that a lot of those experts become experts despite the incentive structures that they are in. And, there are those to-be experts who had to quit, because they didn't have enough resources to fight the established “incentive” structures. Maybe if we could let people do what they could become an expert in, we would all be better off.

There will always be nigh-altruistic people, but I'm talking more in tiers than absolute:

1. How many people can and do become experts?

2. How many of those experts interact at all outside of their career? Even just posting about work rants on social media?

3. Of 2), how many take the time to author any sort of content on the side? From an unknown blog to a conference talk to podcasts, contributing to open source,, etc. we can break this down further to those who do it outside of the company sponsoring them to do so.

4. Of 3), how many go on to extensively share knowledge? In things like journals or technical deep dives or books? Things that take months of the writing process to formalize

5. And lastly how many of 4) would happen without any sort of incentive structure? No grants, no compensation, no time off work to do this, etc.

I'm mostly talking about group 5 here, and then dividing it into 6) how many of those would then be okay with people (mostly other companies) immediately implementing those ideas, potentially making millions while they may not even get shallow platitudes of thanks? It feels like exploitation of their knowledge, and depending on the product it may indeed be) have some ethical quandary the creator fundamentally disagrees with. But it's for "the advancement of humanity" so the just need to accept that and let people extract their knowledge.

>? It seems to me that a lot of those experts become experts despite the incentive structures that they are in

It'll vary by industry, yes. I'm sure authors don't write expecting to make the next Dune. But in the context of this audience: I have definitely seen enough discussion here and on other social media that I wouldn't be uncomfortable asserting that a good 70% of tech workers would not be here without high compensation to education ratio (and I apologize for not providing any hard evidence, this is simply a gut feeling from my own statistical samples from years of discourse). Many people are indeed here for the money first and foremost.

>Maybe if we could let people do what they could become an expert in, we would all be better off.

I don't disagree, I'd love a post scarcity society that doesn't need to perform labor to survive. But that's an even loftier goal than abolishing copyright.

I can see other crowds completely disagreeing with the notion of "not all knowledge is equal", however. Definitely a savory group out there that believe that everyone needs to contribute to society somehow and not "leech off our taxes".

It’s a shame we still haven’t built a simple, universal direct payment system that anyone can use to send money to anyone else. By simple I mean my grandparents can figure it out themselves so don’t say bitcoin.
All information is freely available somewhere in /dev/random. It is worth some value to share the more interesting offsets.

Now I'm not saying that capitalism is the best way to distribute this value, but at least some effort is required in curating all knowledge.

Can you prove your first statement? I assume you cannot as it's nonsense. Lookup how /dev/random is not really random, but relies on interrupts occuring at random timestamps.

That's like saying f(x)=x is a random function, if x is random.

It is quite similar to the infinite monkey theorem, and as it does require infinite time, it is indeed slightly nonsensical.
Substitute the Library of Babel¹ for /dev/random and the point still stands.

¹ https://libraryofbabel.info/

Why should an author be forced to give away their work for free?

They can already choose to give it away for free if they wish. We already have the Creative Commons licenses, and there are many open textbook projects.

I think a lot of the problems being discussed in sibling comments can be solved to an extent if we limit copyright to its original 14 years. That number was decided in a much, much slower age (1790). In today's world, 14 years should be ample time to monetise most creative work.
Yes, this is the correct solution - reduce copyright term.

I don't know if I agree that 14 years is right, but I'm sure that pretty much everyone can agree that 1 year is too short, and 60 years is too long.

1 year is 1 year too long, but reducing to 14 years would at least be an improvement over the current effectively perpetual system..
I just don't understand this take. Why should authors not be able to reap the economic benefits from their work? Someone write a novel and everyone else should be able to copy it? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Why wouldn't this line of reasoning apply to physical property? Why can't I just go live in any house I want? Take any car I want?

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Physical property is zero-sum. If someone else is driving your car, you can't drive it. If you copy my PDF, I still have my PDF and can use it exactly the same. I'm only deprived of a hypothetical profit I could have made by selling that PDF to you (if you would've paid for it).

Imagine I believe that depriving people of hypothetical profits is morally wrong. By the same logic, libraries are stealing from authors by depriving them of potential sales. Peaceful protesters are stealing from retail businesses by obstructing hypothetical sales. Municipal water suppliers are stealing from bottled water companies by depriving hypothetical sales.

My logic wouldn't have internal consistency with societal norms unless I accepted that creative production is somehow unique and special, and warrants special rules to protect hypothetical profits with the threat of lawyers and state-backed violence.

Still, let's assume I agree. There are many scenarios, illegal under intellectual property law, where the author/creator isn't deprived of anything, even a hypothetical profit. Consider that copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. For 70 years, the author isn't deprived of even hypothetical profit, because they're already dead.

Because unlike physical property, new knowledge gets absorbed into the culture and language over time, and you cannot hold everyone who expresses it to ransom perpetually. If that were the case, consider how much of today's HN home page could be read without paying royalties.

Another way to look at this: unlike physical property, what you pay for is the novelty. And that wears off.

There's a difference between perpetuality and "1 year is too long". A year may barely be enough time to get your IP to market. Meanwhile competitors will outproduce you, sit on it, and flood the market.

>Another way to look at this: unlike physical property, what you pay for is the novelty. And that wears off.

In my eyes, I pay to show demand to the creator to keep doing this thing. We can certainly argue if authors get enough of this, but I don't think rewarding skilled labor is a "novelty".

In my view, we don't reward labour, we reward its output. And unlike a physical object or consumable material, the utility of this type of knowledge seem to lie in its novelty (i.e. it's not already available elsewhere). Happy to be corrected.
>Maybe if we could let people do what they could become an expert in, we would all be better off.

Ideally, yes. In reality, far from it. Teaching and nursing are some of the easiest examples of how this structure is fundamentally broken.

>unlike a physical object or consumable material, the utility of this type of knowledge seem to lie in its novelty

Well we don't take the time to measure the long term output of knowledge. That's a fundamental problem that goes against your view. If novelty is the value and we remove that, knowledge is no longer valuable and thus, not rewarded based on its output. Your novel research on the next iteration of AGI is no more valuable than some AI slop that spits out a recipe for a cake. And incorrectly at that.

Does that sound like a structure that can support a non-post scarcity society?

Not novelty otherwise random text would be valuable.
Ideally we simply give proper attribution and prestige to those sharing ideas. But if we could do that the copyright system wouldn't be needed.

Personally, I always threw around 28 + 28 in my head (given that life expectancy in the 18th century was vastly different), with a slight twist: only the original copyright author can renew the term, and the copyright ownership in this context needs to be some sufficiently small group inventors. Anything owned by a corporation larger than X people won't renew.

So any potential transferral or relinquishing of ownership needs to at the very least appease the creator(s) so these corporations can get their other 28 years of their terms.

Fanciful rubbish from people who have either never put in the effort to write a book, or are so rich they don't need money from them.
Only a tiny proportion of all books ever written have made a living for their authors. Most people write because they want to.
Dead authors can't choose to give away their works, they're dead. Yet someone still owns the rights 60 years later.
Not sure this argument works unless you are willing to give away the other property on death like houses, stocks, farms, etc. Maybe 60 years is too long, but that doesn't seem to be your argument.
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Genuine question since I don’t know much about inheritance. Don’t things like houses, stocks, etc get taxed in certain places? Whereas I don’t think copyright does? In a way, that is similar to having to give property away upon death (can’t pay the tax, forced to get rid of it).
People who hold copyrights for profit tend create corporations to hold the copyrights, then just pass on shares in the company to their heirs.

These shares are valued the same as any other shares for an opaque, non-public company, with a single owner, whose assets have very ambiguous and widely disparate values, and which has the ability to cease operations for long periods of time and still remain profitable.

In other words, they’re worth whatever the owner wants them to be worth.

This is just my cynical interpretation. But if you think valuing real estate is hard, try valuing copyrights.

Income is taxed, obviously.

Copyright is taken away, originally after 14 years, now 70(?) years. After the death of the creator

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It is amazing that modern medicine has extended authors’ afterlife by 56 years!
Originally it was 14 years plus another 14 years of the author survived that long. Copyright in the afterlife was not a thing
its necessary to make sure dead authors have an incentive to keep on writing great books
The usual steelman I hear is that Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs on his deathbed because he knew the royalties after he died would take care of his family. I grant that's a marginal case but I don't know that the CBA there actually works on long copyright's side.
Taking copyright away on death is a bad method, and that's a reasonable argument against it.

It should be a fixed term that isn't very long. And if that term ends before death and they want more money then great, write something new.

I think most people objecting to copyright lasting after death are really reacting to how long it all is, and the average amount of time that is. Some of them really don't want it to go past death, but I think most of those objectors would be fine with copyright that lasts exactly 25 years no matter what.

That's more of an argument for making the duration fixed and not dependent on the authors life at all. Having both lifelong copyrights PLUS a fixed duration is just double dipping.
you dont need copyright for that. by the time he died the family could have kept the memoirs and sold the exploitation rights to whoever wanted them. contracts are a thing.
Exactly where do "exploitation rights" come from if not copyright? Anyone who is going to enter a contract for these "exploitation rights" is going to want exclusive rights so others can't just share, republish, copy, etc. This is what copyright affords those who want to sell "exploitation rights"
lets say a publisher secures the manuscript after buying it and the copyright is gone at the author's death. As a first mover they will make most of the money during the first publishing round. By the time copycats end up on the market most of the market for the book was captured by the first mover.
It was interesting from 2010 to 2015 when all of the people who died in WWII and Holocaust lost their copyrights.

It started with Freud, and ended when Adolph Hitler and Anne Frank lost copyright protection on the same day.

What if the author/copyright holder is a corporation?
Copyright is literally the opposite of property rights.

Just because people call it "property rights" does not make it true.

It's as false a term as calling the events of 1939-1945 "World Peace 2".

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> Copyright is literally the opposite of property rights.

Why is that? Property rights, like copyright, is merely a societal construct that have been agreed upon (via legislative processes).

There are countries today that does not respect copyright (or impose their own copyright rules), just like they do so for property rights.

Therefore, this copyright is _exactly_ like property rights. In fact, copyright is slightly less powerful, since they have the potential to expire unlike property rights (tho of course, under US copyright rules, the expiration seems to be getting extended every time disney starts losing theirs...).

Property rights solve the problem of physical goods being rivalrous. We can't both eat the same portion of food; if one person has it another doesn't.

Information is not rivalrous in that way: an additional person having it doesn't take it away from anyone else. Many people can read the same (e-)book.

There are other reasons why societies originally granted a completely artificial temporary monopoly on information: the theory that it'll incentivize the creation of more works, which is a thing the society might want more than they want the ability to copy and modify and remix it on day one.

Emphasis on "might" want: it's not obvious that that's the correct tradeoff today, in a world in which we have not merely the printing press but digital information that can be trivially copied and modified, and a society of people who all have the tools at their fingertips to use that information to create and remix and do wondrous creative things with all of culture.

>Information is not rivalrous in that way: an additional person having it doesn't take it away from anyone else.

Not literally, but in every other sense, yes. It does. You make a great idea, and someone with more money, time, and resources will mass produce your product. They become ubiquitous with the product and the creator is now disincentized from sharing more potentially great ideas.We use copyright to make sure creators aren't disincentized.

The problem isn't scarcity, but falls into the same core issue. Lots of people want thing, but the owner wants either security or compensation that it's their thing.

>Emphasis on "might" want: it's not obvious that that's the correct tradeoff today

I'd still say so. More so today than before where it's only gotten much more expensive to live. Now we go to people outcopying each other and the creator is simply homeless.

> the creator is now disincentized

How can we be sure of this?

Some artists create art for fame, or just to be in that zen-like zone of consciousness that happens with making art

Also, why is the current model assumed to be the best, when it is based on a lot of outdated assumptions (e.g., physical copies)?

>How can we be sure of this?

It's theft. How many people, no matter how altruistic, will feel truly zen seeing their own idea copied by people who care nothing about thw craft making money, exploiting other labor, and otherwise making the world a worse place?

I argue less than the amount that at least want a steady living at the bare minimum. Something many struggle to achieve.

>why is the current model assumed to be the best, when it is based on a lot of outdated assumptions (e.g., physical copies)?

Because I've heard no better alternatives?

We don't need to throw the baby out with that bathwater. In increasing orderof viability: Implement UBI so artists don't starve guarantee an easy trial for proper compensation (which may still be pennies for thieves) if/when their art is stolen and makes hand over fist in money, or reduce the current time of exclusivity. The concept of keeping some time to benefit from your ideas exclusively isn't a flawed one, it just needs tweaks to the idea, or a fundamental shift in how humans survive in the modern world.

> It's theft.

That's not remotely true even with today's absurd laws.

This isn't a legal definition, it's the dictionary term

>(the act of) dishonestly taking something that belongs to someone else and keeping it.

How is this action of taking someone else's idea and keeping the fruits of their mental labor not thievery?

Again, not legally arguing. The point here was to exercise the psychological reason that having your ideas taken without permission nor even acknowledgemrnt feels bad. Theft is bad and feels bad. People want to avoid that where possible.

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s/countries/country/

Given the variety of agreements on international intellectual property law such as the Berne Convention, WCT, TRIPS pushed through multinational organizations like the WTO, the only country in the world with 0 copyright is the Marshall Islands (excluding audio-visual media regulated by the Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991). Even North Korea has life + 50 years.

Some countries decide to leave their copyright laws unenforced (or selectively enforced if they don't like you). Not much choice for people who don't agree with copyright law itself though.

If an author sells the rights and does, should the buyer automatically lose what they bought? Sounds like that would severely decrease what authors can earn, especially older ones.
There's no reason that "selling copyrights" needs to a be a thing. If the author themself wants to profit from their work, sure, but once they die, that's it, and there's no excuse for it to not be in the public domain at that point.
Lets change from "selling" to "assigning".

Could you assign the copyrights to a corporation (that then doesn't die). Would that prevent them from going into the public domain?

If I write some software and assign its copyright to the Apache Foundation or FSF or some other organization through a CLA, what happens to the license if I kick the bucket tomorrow?

For that matter, what happens if I don't assign its copyright to some other organization... does all the GPL software that I write suddenly become public domain?

If no, there is reason for it to remain under the GPL or Apache license so that it can continue on in the spirit of the license it was created under (which copyright enforces) ... then there is equal reason for the works of an author or photographer or singer or song writer to also remain under copyright for some duration.

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/pragmatic.en.html

> My work on free software is motivated by an idealistic goal: spreading freedom and cooperation. I want to encourage free software to spread, replacing proprietary software that forbids cooperation, and thus make our society better.

> That's the basic reason why the GNU General Public License is written the way it is—as a copyleft. All code added to a GPL-covered program must be free software, even if it is put in a separate file. I make my code available for use in free software, and not for use in proprietary software, in order to encourage other people who write software to make it free as well. I figure that since proprietary software developers use copyright to stop us from sharing, we cooperators can use copyright to give other cooperators an advantage of their own: they can use our code.

If the GPLed project lost all of its teeth upon the untimely death of a contributor, would that be a bad thing?

What do you think was the real reason for all the remakes of Disney movies that happened the last decade?

Copyright terms were running out.

Also, by your logic, every contributor of a project, contemporary or previously, must die in order for the "GPL losing its teeth".

And there is a different copyright (rather than on the text or video production) - the copyright protection for fictional characters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_protection_for_ficti...

--

For Linux, the "every contributor" might be true.

For a lot of other projects, they've got a CLA in place. https://www.mongodb.com/legal/contributor-agreement

    (a) Assignment. By submitting a Contribution, you assign to MongoDB all right, title and interest in any copyright you have in the Contribution, and you waive any rights, including any moral rights, database rights, etc., that may affect our ownership of the copyright in the Contribution.
When does MongoDB die? Jokes aside, whatever the answer is, as long as it is longer than any contributor, that's an out.

Consider also the "I don't know who you cookiengineer are, therefore I assert that you're dead and the copyright on your previous comment has expired and I'll just slurp this up into an LLM training model."

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/302

    (c) Anonymous Works, Pseudonymous Works, and Works Made for Hire.—

    In the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. If, before the end of such term, the identity of one or more of the authors of an anonymous or pseudonymous work is revealed in the records of a registration made for that work under subsections (a) or (d) of section 408, or in the records provided by this subsection, the copyright in the work endures for the term specified by subsection (a) or (b), based on the life of the author or authors whose identity has been revealed. ...
    
    (e) Presumption as to Author’s Death.—
    
    After a period of 95 years from the year of first publication of a work, or a period of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first, any person who obtains from the Copyright Office a certified report that the records provided by subsection (d) disclose nothing to indicate that the author of the work is living, or died less than 70 years before, is entitled to the benefits of a presumption that the author has been dead for at least 70 years. Reliance in good faith upon this presumption shall be a complete defense to any action for infringement under this title.
It is certainly reasonable to argue that 95-120 years from its publication is too long, but the copyright your comments (and other works) do not require me to dox you to determine if they're expired or not.

Having copyright on anonymous or psuedoanonymous or being able to assign copyright to another entity are incompatible with copyright expiring upon the death of the author.

Resetting that number back to 50 years as covered by the Berne Convention would be a good thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention#Term_of_prote...

Having it be less than 50 years implies that the United States would be leaving the Berne Convention (signed by 181 countries) and that would put the United States in very small group of countries that do not recognize any intellectual property laws https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_internation...

Trying to change the copyright to a very short period implies that the United States would be leaving the Berne Convention and TRIPS and the WTO and would go about trying to renegotiate those treaties with about 200 countries all over again (and getting those treaties signed by congress)

> If the author themself wants to profit from their work, sure, but once they die, that's it, and there's no excuse for it to not be in the public domain at that point.

So if Disney wants to make a TV show out of your novel series and you turn them down, I suppose they now have an alternative way of making the problem disappear and getting the outcome they wanted...

Joking aside, this idea really seems to create a perverse incentive to make authors die sooner.

So the wife that supported the author can't profit off their assets? The author can't pass on this to children? Should we do the same thing for other property like land and money?
>So the wife that supported the author can't profit off their assets? The author can't pass on this to children?

They certainly can. Certain assets are depreciating with time though, like copyrightable works. They only have value because of the law in the first place, and the law sets the timeline for that value to depreciate to zero.

Perhaps supporting a writer shouldn't be a career/investment opportunity though.

>Should we do the same thing for other property like land and money?

Like, with taxes on inheritance? We should and we do. And arguably, we don't do it enough.

The question is: are the authors that much better off from the way the laws are now? Is the society overall? If we tell the authors that, in fact, their grandchildren won't be able to profit off of their books, what kind of literature shall we lose?

We already have the answer, since the draconian copyright laws are pretty recent. Great works of literature have been written before such laws existed, and introduction of these laws hardly improved writing overall (or the plight of the author, for that matter).

This kind of hectoring discourse is aggressive and rude. You can do better.

Authors that get paid can certainly leave the assets they received to their families. They could also transfer ownership of unpublished intangible assets. More than that sucks the general public into a quasi-contractual relationship with a posthumous person; I disclaim fiscal obligations of strangers toward ghosts.

But it's not hectoring (and was not intended to be rude). Authors build things. Just like people who build companies, houses, inventions, etc. There are a lot of theories of how ownership happen, but many (at least in the US and Europe) come from some for of the labor theory of ownership. We own the things we put labor into and create. Unless you have a competing theory of ownership that explains why other assets can benefit the family of those who create things of value after death but not works of art, music, writing, etc., you haven't really made a cogent argument. Calling me rude is just an ad hominem argument, which we shouldn't entertain as serious.
The big difference between copyright and propery is that me owning a table doesn't stop someone else from making a similar looking table. Copyright that lasted forever would mean that new adaptations of anything could never be made without licensing from the hedge fund that had bought up the original rights from 500 years ago.
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> owning a table doesn't stop someone else from making a similar looking table.

and copyright doesnt prevent you from writing a story about a boy wizard attending a school and fighting against a evil big bad. Nor does it prevent you from writing a story about a rag tag group of rebels fighting against an empire.

It's not that simple .

Copyright puts a chilling effect on making anything resembling the original work, so long as the plaintiff (usually a large corp or hedge fund) has a better team of lawyers than the defendant (new writer)

If I build a house and you build a house and we exchange houses, both of us end up with exactly one house each.

If I have an idea and you have an idea and we exchange ideas, both of us end up with two ideas each.

There may be labour in both but there's a fundamental difference between physical property and intellectual property.

If we exchange ownership of ideas, we end up with one idea each. That's different from providing usage rights to our ideas to each other.
Surely you end up with one abstraction (of ownership) each. If you teach me some idea, I still know it even if we've agreed that I won't teach it to others for profit.
> If we exchange ownership of ideas, we end up with one idea each

How would that work? Given that one exposed to an idea, a person cannot exactly erase it from their mind...

I mean if I have an idea and I give it to you the idea itself is still in my mind. And in order to give it to you I have to communicate it to you, so now it is in your mind too. So innately, while physical objects are physically moved, ideas are only ever copied; the former creates a sense of ownership because when a brick is in your hand it is not in mine, whereas the latter makes this notion of ownership impossible.

Let's try anyway. If I write the idea on a piece of paper, zip it into an envelope, and give the envelope to you, not only do I still have the idea in my head but can you really claim to somehow "have" the idea too? Unless you open the envelope and you don't get to actually "have" it, you have an envelope which contains a copy of the idea that's still in my mind and not in yours. You don't even know what I've given you unless I shared the idea with you beforehand, at which point we're back to square one and the piece of paper is moot (it may carry more detail but that's immaterial to the concept of ideas fundamentally being only copied).

A person has an idea and writes it on a piece of paper, puts it in an envelope, gives it to me, the person dies, I don't ever open the envelope and then I give it to you. Did I ever "own" the idea? I don't even know what it is? A copy of the idea has disappeared when the person died, the piece of paper has a copy on it, and once you read it that idea will be in both in your mind and the paper until you burn the latter.

So maybe you're thinking, but the person of origin of the idea matters. Okay, let's go along with it. Say you and I never even remotely interacted, and I come up with a "foobarbaz" idea and you come up with a "foobarbaz" idea, and we happen to meet. We exchange ideas and realise "oh we had the same idea!"; how can the idea be "the same" if it has been independently conceived and the person of origin matters? To double down on that, after the transactional exchange, we both have one "foobarbaz" idea , not two identical ones each: the operation was a complete noop.

We could drill down further about whether any idea can ever be truly original or if it's about standing in the shoulders of giants, so a huge proportion of any idea or the process having led to is is actually not original at all but instead remixes.

All this to essentially say that "ownership of ideas" and "usage rights" are really a completely artificial construct, one that aims to replicate ownership as it is born out of physical reality.

Which brings me to TFA's situation, in which half a million books are essentially disappeared purely for the sake of pretending ideas are like bricks, as in they should be "owned" because someone could make money off of it, which is not even true because even if I wanted to throw a truckload of money at these folks they would still not allow the ideas to be accessed because they can't be bothered to republish - even though they can be bothered to sue - so the paper/bits might just as well be set on fire, which is most certainly not what the authors would have desired.

PS: Obviously authors deserve tools that help them make a living and combat plagiarism, but this situation is way beyond that and highlights how these artificial constructs are completely upended to the detriment of all.

If I sell you copyright of my code, I might still have it on my computer but I lost any rights to use it. This is a standard business arrangement that anyone on this site knows and uses. I don't think it's as complicated as you make it sound.
>I might still have it on my computer but I lost any rights to use it.

Just step back and think about how irrational this is. Abstract constructs like this are arbitrary.

I think the opposite is more irrational. I want to be able to sell my work, and I want to own my work for myself too, otherwise I have no chance of competing against the big corporates. GPL licenses don't make any sense if the authors don't control the copyright, so open source would die.

Yes, it's arbitrary - just like practically everything else. Having to drive my car on a road and not kill anyone is arbitrary, but leads to good outcomes.

> Unless you have a competing theory of ownership that explains why other assets can benefit the family of those who create things of value after death but not works of art, music, writing, etc., you haven't really made a cogent argument.

Easy. The ownership of intellectual property can indefinitely remain with the author (or be passed on to their children, spouses, etc).

We even have a great model for it now: NFTs.

The right to copy that work, however, isn't something that was either created or owned by the author. That exclusivity is a privilege granted by the state, introduced because it was believed to benefit the society overall.

You can inherit a car, but not a driver's license. The argument is that the exclusive license to copy a work of art is really more like the latter.

I think this is a specious argument. The value in intellectual property is the right to copy it. You can make a similar argument for other property: you own your car, but the right to drive it was not created by you. You own your house, but the right to occupy it and prevent others from occupying it is not created by you. It's not clear if you are arguing that there is some natural right to own and inherit a car that is granted by some authority other than the state and where that authority comes from.
>It's not clear if you are arguing that there is some natural right to own and inherit a car that is granted by some authority other than the state and where that authority comes from.

Sure! There is a natural right to own things: I have a thing, I am not giving it to you. I am the authority. If you want to have it, well, you'll have to do something. Because you can't drive my car while I'm driving it.

That was the problem that the communists ultimately couldn't resolve: people end up having things no matter what you do. My, mine are one of the first words humans learn to utter.

"Intellectual property theft" is a misnomer; like "identity theft".

>The value in intellectual property is the right to copy it.

You are almost correct.

It's not the right to copy. It's the exclusivity, enforced by the state. By definition, it's a privilege (not a right), and is created by punishment.

Information has no inherent value once it becomes public knowledge. The state needs to be actively involved for public information to have any value.

So, we're not talking about the right to copy that gets passed along. Nobody is talking about taking that right away.

It's the privilege to command the state to punish someone for making a copy without one's permission that we say shouldn't be passed along to one's heirs.

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I think copyright terms should be much shorter, but I do not think someone should be far worse compensated for writing a work at 85 than 25. Or suffer from oddities relating to publication time vs death.
People don't just write books to profit while they are alive. They write books so their families have something to pay the bills once they die as well. Books are hard enough to write and sell successfully. The few that make it are special for the families of the writers, and you want to take them.

You're free to give away your work. Stop telling others what to do with their work and that you want to take it because they died.

This sounds like an appeal to tradition.

And an appeal to putting all your eggs in one basket and then demanding that eggs remain valuable long after you're dead and replicators are invented.

Also, why does your family get to shirk their obligation to contribute to society?

What obligation? They are paying taxes. That's more than enough.
What are they paying those taxes with? That's right other people's labor. I don't see why the rest of the society should support his.
Does your plumber's family get to live of the toilets he installed? Why shouldn't they be able to do that but a writer's family can?

> Stop telling others what to do with their work

We are not telling them what to do we are saying authors shouldn't have the right to restrict what we can do, or to be more precise, say - because that's what copyright is in the end, a limitation on free speech.

Design patents have a 15 year life. I'm a great lover of books and arts in general, but I'm not clear on why ownership rights in some creative endeavors should be massively privileged over others. Can the families of authors not write books of their own, or engage in other economic activity?

What about the families of people who toil over creative work and don't hit the jackpot? There are many fine writers/artists who never gain more than a niche audience while garbage sells big. Go to a bookstore and look at the history section, pseudo-historians like Bill O'Reilly are given more shelf space than serious historians. To be frank I almost exclusively buy from used book stores for the last decade because nonfiction offerings in chain/non-specialist bookstores are so bad. Vendors of used books tend to select for quality rather than popularity.

Sure they can, just like you could have your house taken from you and you could build another one. Why do your kids expect to get your house when they could build one too?
Is was never their house to begin with. We just allowed to not use it ourselves for a while but that doesn't mean we can't change that arrangement when we realize it's actually a very bad deal for most of us.
If the author desires for their wife or children to inherit the results of their work, the author should keep the works private and give it to their survivors for them to release over time.
Enough with this nonsense. A book isn't a family business, it's not the family home, it ain't the family farm, it's an artifact that you produced once, it makes no sense to inherit the right to copy it. We allow inheritance to exist because it creates social good by facilitating community continuity. And the best social good when it comes to copyright is to let it expire as soon as possible; let's be honest, "until the death of the author" is still eons longer than any author deserves. It shouldn't be more than 20 years, max.
> We allow inheritance to exist because it creates social good

FWIW, this is also why we have copyright. In fact, this is explicitly why we allow copyright in US.

> this is explicitly why we allow copyright in US

The founders of the US intended copyright to last for 14 years, with the ability to renew for a single extra 14-year extension. Like patents, copyright was intended to expire quickly in order to serve the good of the public. Thank Disney for fucking that up for everyone. You have refuted your own argument.

This is really the core of the issue, all the stuff about what a world without copyright would be like is navel-gazing that will never happen.

But specifically a lot of us have an issue with the fact that beginning in the 20th century, copyright durations have been increasing so quickly that it's starting to look more like copyright is becoming permanent.

The founders were well aware of the negative societal effects of monopoly. We are well aware of them and suffering under several forms of monopoly today, many of which are enforced through copyright. The founders chose to grant a LIMITED and TEMPORARY monopoly to copyright holders, not an UNLIMITED and PERMANENT one, because of this. The eminently reasonable and middle of the road position is that we should reduce the duration of copyright, restoring it to its original intent. This corrects one of the general class of pro-monopoly errors we have made which have increased wealth inequality and damaged our society.

It is truly extraordinary how much damage Disney has done (with government as a willing collaborator) against the original intent of the founders and the will of the people.

We can agree 95 years is too long and also not want to abolish the whole system and let everyone use knowledge immediately without proper compensation.

Nor encorugae assassinations by having stuff go public domain immediately upon death.

Incorrect.

We have copyright "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"

If our current implementation is not an optimal way to achieve this goal, then it needs to be re-evaluated.

A book is knowledge, knowledge can 100% be a family businesss to be continued. I don't see it as any different from a family restaurant protecting their recipes in an otherwise cutthroat industry.

The terms is too long as is, but I see no reason to not have any posthumous transfer period so the family can figure out what they want to do with their knowledge.

Family recipes are kept secret.

If you don't want to share your knowledge, the solution is simple.

Once you've put it out there, it becomes a tiny piece of human culture that can be referenced and discussed, and ultimately reproduced.

Just because an artist releases a work to the world, doesn't mean they have any natural rights to own what the culture does with it.

People have a secret but still share it while withholding some knowledge. They risk someone reverse engineering it, but it's still being monetized.

Whats the difference here? Have idea, share some of it, monetize it from peope who want to use it, later on it's a free for all or enough knowledge comes to easily reverse engineer it anyway.

^Just because an artist releases a work to the world, doesn't mean they have any natural rights to own what the culture does with it.

No natural right, no. But humans are greedy, tragedy of the commons, etc. So governments made copyright to protect those artists.

It's been, as usual, perverted by the people who least need that protection, but the idea is still sound. In a world of greed, give the creators time to be greedy so they can make a living off their own work. Then later on its a free for all.

Aside from the flaws in your analogy already pointed out to you, there is actually very little value in a secret recipe. A skilled cook will be able to reproduce something close enough just by seeing and tasting the result. The real value of a family restaurant is the pride in their legacy that gets them to actually stick to a recipe that gets that result instead of cutting corners in order to maximize profit.
> Sounds like that would severely decrease what authors can earn, especially older ones.

I mean, I know a bunch of authors. All of them wrote because they needed to write (even the textbook authors). And almost none of them earned much of anything from it (even the textbook authors). One English prof told me that he received almost enough for his morning coffee for about three years. Then he didn't. And he drank just plain coffee.

"The problem for most artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity." "Less copyright" != "piracy", but I think it has the same effect in this case (theoretically less value placed on the work of an author, but not practically).

Also, this might be coincidence, but copyright has gotten extended at the same time as most authors have received less from publishing.

All that said, I want society as a whole to be better, people to have more opportunities to grow, good ideas more of a chance to flourish. I think that overly strong copyright fights against that. And IME (ok, secondhand experience) that 99.9% of the profits added by strong copyright goes to the publishers, not the authors.

yeah, everybody arguing in here like writers are making a living off their books
I'm 100% on board with giving publishers and huge boot and making sure their labor is properly compensated. Sadly these discussions here always tend to turn into "copyright as a concept is BS, I want to utilize knowledge immediately with no restraint".

A reverse motte and Bailey, if you will. There's a perfectly objectionable issue that we can band together to solve, ignored in liue of the extreme argument that'd take decades in court to resolve.

That says nothing about the living authors.
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This is a deeply unserious way to frame this; it presumes the unnatural (even if useful/positive) present state of copyright as a naturally occurring thing. It ain't.

"Why should we lessen or diminish the legal right of authors to control how copies of their work are distributed; the way we've been doing it works well."

is what you SHOULD have said. Doesn't sound as sexy, but here, the accuracy matters.

I didn't say the current system worked well, but neither was the parent post critiquing just the current system, but "purposeful restriction" in general. Accuracy matters.
I'm curious about the argument that is framed with "it presumes the unnatural (even if useful/positive) present state of copyright as a naturally occurring thing."

I don't think this should be discounted so quickly. Nothing in this domain — money, private property, laws, justice — are obviously naturally occurring things. One of the great traditions in the effort to understand how rights and value come to be is the creation of narratives that connect the rights to early natural states. We see this in Locke, Rousseau, Rawls, etc. You could just ask the question of whether the current state "works well", but then you are in the wheelhouse of Jeremy Bentham and other utilitarians. Fine, but so far these kinds of arguments don't lead to worlds many of us like.

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I submit that intellectual property is absolutely less natural than e.g. real or personal property. I haven't done a deep dive, but I'd strongly wager that if you did a sweep of traditions of property across times and cultures, you're going to find a LOT more uniformity over the idea of property rights over PHYSICAL THINGS like land and food (and probably money or other forms of exchange? maybe not) than you will IP.
The author author can always choose not to give their work away if they don't want to. The question is why should everyone else give up their right to free speech for the benefit of the author? That needs a convincing argument that the restrictions actually benefit everyone and not just the author.
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> Why should someone be thrown in jail for singing the happy birthday song in front of a crowd of people?

This is not a thing that happens, and it’s hard to take anyone seriously when they’re presenting this as a counter argument.

If you can’t even understand the difference between criminal and civil matters, how can you even begin to discuss this topic?

except it is.

try to upload to YouTube your birthday party with a barely audible pop music playing in the background.

now which argument can't be taken seriously?

granted, it's not jail. but being removed from the monopoly forum for internet videos could be worse than jail if you're business depends on that.

>granted, it's not jail.

That's a pretty important distinction.

>being removed from the monopoly forum for internet videos could be worse than jail if you're business depends on that.

If your business relies on thst then strike up a deal. That's what copyright should be doing.

The situation is still stupid, yes. But the core issue of people profiting off of material they dont own is still something we want to protect against.

strike a deal with publisher for every incidental background music barely noticeable one your videos?
Ideally, make your own music. Or use people's music who wants to share, they get popular and rise as a competitor and it shows that maybe going after minor background noise wasn't such a good idea.

But back in reality, you just don't monetize the content. Publishers don't really care about some unlisted kid's party with 50 views and monetization off. The YouTube stuff is draconian but not that asinine.

Who's been jailed for singing Happy Birthday? How many people have been jailed for copyright violations at all?

If you're arguing that copyright length should be shortened, I strongly agree.

If you're arguing that we should eliminate copyright completely because we should only regulate things you would immediately throw people in jail for, I strongly disagree.

As a society we need to be able to regulate some behavior that is not severe enough for jail time on its own, or for most standard offenses, even if the state ultimately has the power of incarceration to punish non-compliance. Just because moderately speeding shouldn't land you in jail, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't have speed limits.

No one. Copyright infringement is not a criminal court matter; it is a civil one.
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There is such a thing as criminal copyright infringement, so it isn’t no one. Generally the conduct is pretty egregious for it to be a criminal rather than civil matter.
Wait but one of the main legal complaints about 21st century IP regimes is that they criminalize what was previously private tortious behavior. That's why the DMCA still rankles so many people.
“The jury convicted Dallman, Courson, Garcia, Jaurequi, and Huber of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.”

This was just today.

Deadline: “Operators Of Jetflicks, An Illegal Streaming Service With A Catalog Larger Than Netflix, Prime Video And Hulu Put Together, Convicted By Federal Jury”

https://deadline.com/2024/06/jetflicks-illegal-streaming-ser...

We’re specifically talking about singing Happy Birthday in public, not offering 182,000 titles ripped from mainstream networks and other streaming services and then charging $9.99 to $19.99/month and making millions.
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> We’re specifically talking about singing Happy Birthday in public

> > > Who's been jailed for singing Happy Birthday? How many people have been jailed for copyright violations at all?

Note the second sentence which brought the wider topic into discussion.

> Why should someone be thrown in jail for singing the happy birthday song in front of a crowd of people?

This is a ridiculous strawman that is completely irrelevant to any discussion happening here.

It might take decades and billions of dollars to prove a molecule can cure disease XYZ. Once you know the molecule, copying it is cheap. Only intellectual property rights can provide the incentive to find said molecule, safe in the knowledge that once it is found, all of the costs can be recouped plus profit.

That is the clear-cut case for intellectual property, but it’s the same principle for books. I’m not going to write a book that takes tons of effort and exposes my hard-won knowledge if I can’t profit from it, despite how easy it is to copy text. Food for thought

It’s true that copyright and patents make pursuing certain risky (from a monetary perspective) innovations that are valuable to society worthwhile. But they’re only one way of solving that problem. We choose to apply copyright almost universally, even to innovations and ideas that don’t suffer from high capital risk, and would be worthwhile to pursue without copyright or with shorter copyright. Why not instead subsidize R&D for successful drugs (a lot of drug research in the U.S. is already publicly funded).

It seems to me that it’s an exceptional case that there’s some idea that’s would benefit society but is only economically viable under the current copyright regime. But our laws apply protections that are only needed in this rare instance to all ideas. I highly recommend “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. It changed how I view IP a great deal, and the final chapters are dedicated to how we could practically transition away from our current system.

The government is political. When you make things political, it has requirements separated from the profit motive.

I’m not an anarchist. I think the government has its place. But it’s undeniable that a lot of fundamental research is held hostage by politics: Certain ideas are in vogue and get funded, while the new ideas and those pursuing them must wait, or perhaps never get funded for whatever political reason.

The profit motive enables risk takers to get funded with high risk, high reward ideas. If there was no way to capture that profit, we would be subject to political whims for the most important innovations for society.

I don’t entirely disagree - subsidies aren’t a perfect solution. But the current system is so far from perfect that I think considering alternatives is worthwhile.

I’d be curious how many actual world-changing innovations were ONLY pursued because of the existence of copyright, that don’t belong to a class of innovation (like pharmaceuticals) that could have a solution, whether copyright, subsidies, or something else applied to the industry as a whole. I don’t doubt that there are some, but I would be shocked if their benefit isn’t dwarfed by the innovation lost to the anticompetitive nature of patents and copyright.

It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. If research is a tree, and the seeds and trunk are funded by the government, then the branches and leaves are the private sector. The government's strength is providing large and longterm funding for ideas with uncertain outcome. The government's weakness is managing and running an enterprise of any scale - see the DMV, any public housing in America of appreciable size, the VA, the vast majority of public schools, and so on. This is because no one in the enterprise has any motivation at all, other than not getting fired, which is practically impossible in the government sector.

I'm fine with initial research being funded by the government, and entrepreneurs attempting to take that research to commercialize it.

Most financially successful humans only care how to increase their already huge amount of money. they do not give a flying fuck about advancing humanity as a whole.
The neato thing about free markets is in order to make more money you have to please other people so those people will freely give you their money.
The other neat thing about free markets is that they don't exist in the real world.
That works until you capture the market. That's the entire phenomenon aroind the poorly named "enshittification".

Companies have in fact figured you can be too big to fail and wait until they get their to no longer "please other people" and squeeze them. Or at least, get away with otherwise company killing moves for years longer than they should.

That was said about IBM. It was inevitable it was going to take over the world, an unstoppable juggernaut.

Yet it faded away into irrelevance.

Plenty of other examples.

That's the thing, though. IBM faded into... A 62B earnings call for 2023. I sure wish that's how I could fade if I sold out.

Not being in the limelight doesn't mean these old juggernaut aren't still making more money than some small countries. Very few companies that you feel are "dead" are truly in dire straits financially. They've mad their money and still make a non-negligible amount today in the background

Intel has also faded away. As did Sears, Kodak, Xerox, GE, even Walmart was eclipsed by Amazon. Disney has lost its footing. AT&T. Novell. Cisco. Kmart. RCA.

Capitalism has been in the US for what, 250 years? You'd think the theory that capitalist businesses grow to take over the world would have been repeatedly verified by now.

You're not getting it are you? Do what I did with Nvidia and see how much money 80% of those companies are making.

>You'd think the theory that capitalist businesses grow to take over the world would have been repeatedly verified by now.

It's not about taking over the world. Ceos aren't twirling their mustaches with a bowler hat. It's about what it's been about for all of humanity: making sure to keep some other part of humanity down so they don't get power.

America's only had one civil war and it was purely to make sure they can keep telling black people what to do, without proper compensation. That's how important that control is to them. Businesses can die and restart, but they cannot get back lost power that way.

> humanity

Humanity is much better off with companies making all those products and services for us than without, though.

[citation needed]
I’ll get you one next time I go to the doctor to get an MRI.
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I remember when this BS was being pushed about Wintel capturing the market and killing competition. Then mobile happened, Google and now AI - doomers just changed the brands doing the capturing.
Mobile hasn't changed Wintel's stranglehold on the market at all.
Even better - it made the whole market irrelevant instead.
>"you have to please other people "

Nope. Comparatively to what it used to be some 25 years "pleasing" factor went down the tubes. In many cases modern capitalism looks more and more like an extortion business

> Nope.

Do you buy things you don't want?

[citation needed]
Do we really need a citation on how corporations are run, and what they do to constrain innovation?
I'm sorry, I didn't read "most financially successful humans" to mean corporations.
Look around and see what big corporations are doing. You woll be flooded.
Your obvious conclusion that automation is the answer would be anathema to others who wish to maximize the number of people under their control and the amount of “work” they are doing. It’s a relatable mistake, many people including myself assume everyone thinks like they do before they are sorely disillusioned by rough contact with reality. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your side is in the majority either and that removing opposition or changing minds would be an achievable task.

If you want to build something you’ll need to strike out on your own and take only those who follow you into the wilderness.

> I can imagine is one where every community owns and controls the means of production upon which they depend for their survival. In such an economic system, the need for automation would be obvious and once implemented, all people would receive the benefits of automation. This would include such a wide allowance for leisure and free time that authors would no longer need to restrict access to their books to extract profits from their value their shared knowledge creates. All people would be free to do what they will.

This has been imagined many times. It's called Marxism. It's been tried, too, innumerable times. But the anticipated utopia never happened, and the people were far worse off than for-profit free markets.

However, the idea of "intellectual property" is a pure invention. There's zero evidence that IP laws actually promote the creation and distribution of creative works. But there is evidence that the free flow of ideas enhances prosperity.

I assert this as a person who made his living creating IP.

> There is no greater folly of contemporary human society than the purposeful restriction of such vast and easily shareable repositories of knowledge.

This is exactly how people stayed in power. Knowledge is power, so keep the masses uneducated so they are subservient. I once asked an Englishman why if the British Empire was so great did all of its colonies revolt against it. His response was not what I expected when he said they taught them how to read.

So watching how the school systems keep getting dumber really does get those conspiracy theory synapses firing. Make great again by taking power away from people really goes towards that.

> Knowledge is power

Actually, knowledge is freedom.

> so keep the masses uneducated so they are subservient

Terror makes them subservient. See the Soviet Union's gulags, full of educated people.

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> purposeful restriction of such vast and easily shareable repositories of knowledge

You don’t get more golden eggs by killing the goose who lays them.

Also the IA book UI was terrible.

Is the goose here the publisher? Or the author? If it’s the latter, then would killing the publisher necessarily dictate that the author also must die?
The goose is the entire book publishing system. Do editors, typesetters, cover artists, indexers, fact checkers, proofreaders, etc not add value to be recompensed? Is copyright (the exclusive right to make copies) not the sole fulcrum upon which rests the author and many others integral to books as we know them? Unlike music, it’s uncommon for authors to go on tour selling tickets and merch.
Yeah I genuinely cannot understand that comment.
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Feel free to start, just don't force anyone into it, and take a honest look at past examples and their outcomes.
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> In such an economic system, the need for automation would be obvious and once implemented, all people would receive the benefits of automation. This would include such a wide allowance for leisure and free time that authors would no longer need to restrict access to their books to extract profits from their value their shared knowledge creates. All people would be free to do what they will.

Oh, hello there, dear communism. Same dream, same problems. No, this time around you don’t work either.

This subjective labelling contributed nothing to the conversation. Back up your statement.
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Maybe we should do software first. I see no reason why I should not get copies of all binaries and all source code for any and every service I use upon request. And even copies of databases backing them when requested. Then I could simply replicated it in my own environment or roll up competing service. And as for data, what is privacy anyway. If you want the data be private don't generate it... /s
Sadly I feel like Poes law hits here. I do see a few borderline argue such a case.

They must have no products of their own nor care how the people behind the knowledge they consume make a living.

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Many many authors publish work freely, now more than ever. Without monetary reward.

Here's a tiny tip of the massive iceberg https://independentbookreview.com/2020/07/30/10-free-literar...

Meanwhile the publishing houses (John Wiley & Sons) are putting out LLM generated garbage: https://zbmath.org/1532.68005
Which, ironically, cannot itself be copyrighted...
Evidently not enough for libraries to abandon books from publishers.

If they had the selection and quality people were seeking, people wouldn’t be arguing to kill copyright but rather just pointing people to free equivalents. The Internet Archive would just distribute those alternatives.

When a free equivalent does exist, that is what happens. Nobody is demanding legislation to force Oracle to lower database licence prices. We just use Postgres.

I think the point the commenter was making is, why not just archive those books in that case?

Just ignore the books with authors that have released the works for monetary gain. I don't know whether or not such an archive is at all attractive to anyone? But maybe over time it might start to move the needle?

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Many is not a number.
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Is any word a number?
Four is pretty good. Same count as it is (in English). I think it's neat.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeral_(linguistics)

I'm not sure what your point was, but mine is that it doesn't necessarily represent a significant amount.

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Oh, I thought you were making a non-sequitur semantic context shift, my mistake.
Ahhh we forgot about the music dark ages when piracy meant artists couldn't make a living from their art and music died completely
Most musicians don't make a living from their art, they work day jobs. That doesn't mean piracy is the only factor or a strong one, but it's part of the equation.
Ironically, piracy can make a musician popular, and when they're popular they can make bank doing live performances.
Most musicians make music that nobody wants to hear.
Oh they're just not trying to "sell out" enough, why didn't they think of that! Be serious.
> You can publish a book and give it away freely.

> But few do.

Are you kidding? It's true that few people do this in the same sense that it's true that few people publish books at all, whether they give them away freely or not.

But far more people publish books and give them away freely than publish books and offer them for money. Remember Livejournal?

See also: the entirety of human history before copyright.
"Such a system exists. You can publish a book and give it away freely. But few do. This is book communism and fails for the same reasons as regular communism. It is in nobody’s interest to do any hard work. If you don’t reward great effort, virtually nobody provides it."

Why does open source / free software exist then?

"Nobody puts in hard word if it's not rewarded" hasnt the cURL guy been maintaining cURL/libcurl for decades and gets paid nothing?

> "Nobody puts in hard word if it's not rewarded" hasnt the cURL guy been maintaining cURL/libcurl for decades and gets paid nothing?

If you replace "nobody" with "very few people" then the statement is mostly true. The vast majority of open source software is crap. Sure, a lot of it is passion projects made by enthusiasts, and there's nothing wrong with that from an artistic hobbyist standpoint, but the quality of the software is very low.

Good and successful open source software is, in terms of numbers, rare.

Furthermore, most good FLOSS has at least some companies providing financial support, if not being almost exclusively worked on by employees of a company selling non-FLOSS software to pay the salaries of those devs.

Developers putting in hard work to write quality software for free do exist, of course, and many of them are absolute gigachads, but they're dwarfed by those actually getting paid to write software.

A lot of paid software is crap too.
Indeed. But you only need one magic product to capture a market. No one's neither jumping to nor contributing to GIMP in light of all the Adobe BS, even if they should be for the betterment of all.
I didn't state otherwise, and I'm not sure how that's relevant to my point.
Open source covers a very tiny set of use cases for software. How many paid products have an open source competitor at all? How many have a credible competitor (GIMP isn’t a credible alternative to PhotoShop for the people who pay for it for example).

It is far from rendering paid software obsolete.

And not nobody. Virtually nobody. Yes open source exists. Out of the hundreds of devs I have worked with, I know one who meaningfully participates. Say 1 in 100 devs does open source. The other 99 not writing code would lead to a massive fall off in software written.

> GIMP isn’t a credible alternative to PhotoShop for the people who pay for it for example

Weird take. GIMP's been good enough for professional work for more than a decade, and lots of professionals use it. I paid for Paint Shop Pro ages ago, because it was better than Photoshop for my use cases. GIMP progressed and became better than PSP for the same. I've used it ever since. It's even been used for major motion pictures.

In the same way that software is eating the world, Free and Open Source software is eating software. Every year it does more and better. If GIMP doesn't work for your use case today, it likely will tomorrow, or the day after.

Some open source tools, like Blender, like Linux, exist at the top of their respective foodchains. Proprietary tools are working to try to compete with them.

> Some open source tools, like Blender, like Linux, exist at the top of their respective foodchains. Proprietary tools are working to try to compete with them.

OBS is on this list, too.

> How many paid products have an open source competitor at all? How many have a credible competitor (GIMP isn’t a credible alternative to PhotoShop for the people who pay for it for example).

I'm not sure how we could figure out the numbers, but this just doesn't feel right. A lot of important and key paid products have open source alternatives. Some examples:

* Windows/macOS -> Linux

* Microsoft Office -> LibreOffice

* Adobe Illustrator -> Inkscape

* AutoCAD -> FreeCAD

* SecureCRT -> PuTTY, Urxvt, etc.

* Maya -> Blender

* ESXi -> Proxmox

* VMWare Player -> VirtualBox

Whether they're "credible" depends on the user and their use case. I'm sure there are plenty of things the paid products do better than their open source counterparts, but at the same time, there are likely plenty of users who don't need those features and are perfectly fine with the free alternative.

I don't doubt there are more closed source projects than open source, or that there is closed software with zero open source alternatives - just that the claim that open source is a tiny set of all software use cases doesn't seem right.

>> It is in nobody’s interest to do any hard work. If you don’t reward great effort, virtually nobody provides it.

> And not nobody. Virtually nobody. Yes open source exists.

In 2018, GitHub reported on their blog [0]:

> Today we reached a major milestone: 100 million repositories now live on GitHub. Powering this number is an incredible community. Together, you’re 31 million developers from nearly every country and territory in the world, collaborating across 1.1 billion contributions.

I think it's safe to say there's more than virtually nobody doing hard work in the open source world and creating gratis software.

[0] https://github.blog/2018-11-08-100m-repos/

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> This is book communism and fails for the same reasons as regular communism. It is in nobody’s interest to do any hard work. If you don’t reward great effort, virtually nobody provides it.

Counterpoint that is decidedly not motivated by communism:

https://dev.realworldocaml.org/

There are many books like it, comprehensive, written with great effort, and free for anyone to read.

That isn't a counterpoint, it is exactly what OP is saying–there is already a way to give away a book for free if they author/copyright holder wants to without the IA deciding what should be free.
I think it’s pretty clear I am not saying “there outta be a way to give books away” which would be a very stupid thing for me to say.

I’m saying we should legalize the giving away of all books, but must rearrange society to ensure authors and all people still have the support the previously got from the existing system.

Engaging only with the stupid point I didn’t make is a waste of time honestly and is seriously missing the point.

>I think it’s pretty clear I am not saying “there outta be a way to give books away” which would be a very stupid thing for me to say.

Ehh.. by this thread and other comments I'm not sure it is very clear. It sounds like you are saying all books should be free.

> Engaging only with the stupid point I didn’t make is a waste of time honestly and is seriously missing the point.

I think you may be getting a little heated around some friendly discussion. You see books different than other goods–which is great–but not everyone does. We can all still converse and hopefully all grow and understand each other better. <3

> I’m saying we should legalize the giving away of all books, but must rearrange society to ensure authors and all people still have the support the previously got from the existing system.

There’s no way to implement this without taking away the freedoms of the author to choose how to distribute the fruits of his labor. Just because you think the world would be a better place if they all did that does not mean it’s an acceptable proposition.

Why is it a fundamental freedom of the author to restrict who gets the freedom to share their enjoyment of the author’s works with others?
First of all I’m not saying we should do this just because it’s what I believe. I’m saying we should all actually spend time considering the value of this proposal and make up our own minds. But I’m not looking for knee-jerk responses, there’s too much at stake. We seriously need to consider the implications of the current system which requires vast stores of information that are freely available to be removed from public access.

Second, the only way authors can have this “freedom” you argue for is through vast sweeping government-mandated restrictions on and punishments for the sharing of information. Authors can only have this freedom by taking away the freedom of would-be librarians like IA, and only with massive government interventions. My proposal eliminates the need for government intervention in markets.

And this isn’t strictly some lefty idea either. I’ve really enjoyed this talk by a libertarian capitalist lawyer at the Mises Institute arguing that intellectual property as a concept hampers capitalism. It’s full of a bunch of great arguments and since you seem to be interested in this subject I’d encourage you to check it out!

https://youtu.be/cWShFz4d2RY

In practice, almost no author gets to choose how the fruits of their labor are distributed. Their rights are gobbled up immediately by one of the big publishers, who then dispose of their captive intellectual property as they see fit.
To the publisher, if copyright was to terminate upon death, would the publisher then pay less for the works from a 70 year old author compared to a 30 year old? Or one that is fighting cancer or one that has sky diving as a hobby?

Is the value of the work of the author to be measured against their remaining lifetime?

The author chooses the publisher.
In most cases this isn't accurate. The author (or, more commonly, their agent) submits the book to several publishers, who either accept or reject or refer for edits. Unless you're in the top percentile of published authors, there's very little room for negotiation. It's pretty rare for an author to have more than one "accept" on a work simultaneously, many publishers frown on multiple submission precisely because it can lead to a bidding war.
The author always chooses the publisher. They might not have many (or even multiple) options, but there is no coercion and the author can choose to keep looking for a different publisher, to go with a lower-tier publisher, to publish themselves, to publish via vanity press, or not to publish at all.
Curiously libertarian language for supporting a system built on restricting individual freedom.
Maybe the person isn't libertarian then and you just misread said libertarian undertones? I'm not sure what's the point here, he can argue for some positions that might be libertarian in isolation, without being libertarian at all.

Do you agree that humans should be free to associate with other humans for example? Does that make you a libertarian? What about cannabis prohibition?

Agreed. In a sibling comment I just shared this lecture by a libertarian capitalist at the Mises institute arguing that intellectual property restrictions hamper capitalism.

https://youtu.be/cWShFz4d2RY

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Parent is also saying that virtually nobody does it. This is not true. What I linked is one example, given away for free by an engineer at a prop trading firm and a CS professor. Similar to the linked example, we have excellent books on many technical subjects, available for free. And not because the authors are communists but because they want to share the knowledge or because it helps their broader business.
> Parent is also saying that virtually nobody does it. This is not true.

Comparing number of books released for sale vs for free, is isn't unreasonable to use the phrase "virtually nobody". I would guess less than 1% of books are released free.

> What I linked is one example, given away for free by an engineer at a prop trading firm and a CS professor. Similar to the linked example, we have excellent books on many technical subjects, available for free.

That's right. There are lots of free books and still almost all books are not free. That's okay, though. People can write a book and choose what to do with it. What IA tried to do removed that option.

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Can't agree.

Even as recent as about one decade ago, the best way to learn a programming language is often buying a book or checking out a book from the library, because that's the only high-quality source on the topic. Since then we have had people creating complete tutorials like the Rust book and distribute it on the Internet, for free.

In the US, some professors profit from selling textbooks that get updated every few years, forcing students around the around to pay hundreds of dollars to get the latest edition. (That's still the norm.) Yet we are seeing less of that in the computer science field, especially with books like Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces ( https://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~remzi/OSTEP/ ) -- the professors are literally practicing communism and giving away the book for free.

Arguably, professors are paid a salary to write those books.
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The point is that they could have gone the proprietary path and earn $$$ from textbook money. Instead they are getting nothing from the material.
> the professors are literally practicing communism and giving away the book for free.

Ah, no. That isn't communism.

> the professors are literally practicing communism and giving away the book for free

No, that's more like potlatch. "Book communism" would be if authors owned the printing presses. (Or maybe if printing press technicians owned the printing presses.)

Well, if its an ebook and you own the server, you own the printing press and the bookshop.
Amazing how the open source community was a total failure as predicted!
Of all the things to juxtapose as a contrast to communism and the failures of an overbearing government mucking too much in natural market forces you pick copyright?!
Yeah, copyright is a government enforced monopoly. Basically the definition of socialist government intervention in the free market. IA can produce copies for much cheaper, but the government doesn’t allow them to compete, because they want publishers to operate a welfare program for writers.
The irony is very, very few book authors make much of any money off of their books. It's much like the athlete and musician business.
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"One solution to this complicated problem is to require simultaneous, complete cooperation from everyone in a way that costs everybody money! This wild solution I came up with isn't workable, therefore there is no possible solution to this problem!"
You could also loan the book to people. At which point -of course- what you're doing is called a library.

Libraries have historically not been considered communistic per se (rightly or wrongly). But they have not commonly been considered a failure.

No such system exists.

You only talked about removing money from an individual or from one activity without addressing the entire rest of the system that still decides everything with money.

Why would you propose a stupid scenario that the commenter never described?

They never said nor even implied communism either. If they had an idea what the details would be, and those details mapped to something we already have a word for, they'd has used it.

“Every community owns and controls the means of production upon which they depend for their survival.”

Such a system does not exist.

Your obvious point, that individual authors can publish their work freely, does little to change the system that requires government enforced punishment for people who would copy and share information available to them. But it would be unethical to pull the rug out from under authors who depend on that system today, so as I see it the best course of action is to make that system unnecessary through community support of all people, and the only ethical way I see to create that is by community ownership of the means of production.

> If you don’t reward great effort, virtually nobody provides it.

I strongly believe this is false and nonsense. This is propaganda from people who benefit from the system that rewards owners of capital who fear community ownership of the means of production.

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>This is propaganda from people who benefit from the system that rewards owners of capital who fear community ownership of the means of production.

The Capitalist System does not imply restrictions on community ownership of the means of production. And I believe you are here not trying to appeal to a system that is completely ok with community ownership, you are trying to appeal to a system that restricts or completely bans private property on the means of production.

The problems with such systems are that they always end up with Famine and Gulags - because community ownership work and managed way worse, but the government gets all the power ower the whole economy and use it to remain in the power no matter the results

We are communicating on a tech stack that TBL gave away freely.

Copyright is communism, it is the exact opposite of property rights.

Don't take my word for it: do the math yourself.

Or just repeat false slogans.

I don't think you know what communism is.
It's a tiresome rhetorical device these days to pretend Communism only has one narrow meaning.
> It's a tiresome rhetorical device when people call me out on not knowing something
It's equally tiresome to pretend everything one doesn't like is communism, when communism has been operationally dead for decades.
Open source?
> There is no greater folly of contemporary human society than the purposeful restriction of such vast and easily shareable repositories of knowledge

This is objectively false. There zero actual harm being done here. There is very little, if any, evidence that the vast majority of the 500k removed books contain information that actually provides value to people, as opposed to being fiction and political advocacy non-fiction (for instance, the vast majority of the list of 1300 "banned and challenged books" (that contains many duplicates and is shorter than IA claims)[1] that the IA is clutching their pearls over are almost exclusively non-informational) that result in zero harm when taken away from people.

You also pointedly ignored the fact that the greatest repository of knowledge in human history, by orders of magnitude, is the Internet - even if you restrict yourself to the parts that people have voluntarily made free, you still have the ability to learn everything you need to live a comfortable life, and learn more than you have time for in a thousand lifetimes.

Demanding that the entertainment works that authors wrote with the express intention of making money (and who did not consent to their work being put on IA) be made freely available, regardless of the massive amount of information already voluntarily made free on the Internet that serves almost every need you have (learning to sew, fixing a leak, doing your taxes, getting the equivalent of a PhD in math), is the absolute peak of entitlement.

The only vaguely reasonable vector adjacent to your argument is that academic publishers make their papers freely available, because that's actual human knowledge (and because the funding for the research doesn't come from the publishers).

> We prevent this achievement due to our attachment to a specific economic system that serves as the current means of financially supporting authors.

Now you're just advocating communism, which is one of the actual greatest human follies of all time, and has resulted in tens of millions of deaths and the suffering of hundreds of millions more.

This comment is utterly inappropriate for HN. It is naked political advocacy that is emotionally manipulative, factually incorrect, and contains zero content that aligns with HN's goals of "stimulating intellectual curiosity".

[1] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/e/2PACX-1vR_xj-6S...

There was a Wiley translation of an 80s Russian textbook I needed for my research that was nowhere on libgen and which I could only get via ILL. The library yelled at me for making physical copies but IA had it.
Who wrote that (sorry - EDIT) errr am I holding it upright .... bollocks? 8)

"Library genesis exists but necessarily must hide and create some friction in the discovery process."

Really!

Personally speaking, I'm fucking incensed that ... <fill in usual argument here>

Why cant another country that des not have copyrite laws host this.
It's a digital equivalent of burning books. Those publishers have the same tactics as Nazi.
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Any evidence that the majority of the books were fiction and political non-fiction that present near-zero value to "humanity"? Almost the entire list of "banned" books that they listed that they had to take down[1] are clearly not a "net loss for humanity" when you have to pay for them or get a loan at a physical library.

[1] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/e/2PACX-1vR_xj-6S...

They should fire what even nitwit thought this obviously illegal plan was a good idea in the first place. The fallout will likely tank the entire archive in the long term.
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It was through lending, this was due to a change of policy of lending during COVID-19 to ease access
It lending done flagrantly in violation of the licensing. They were taking a copy licensed to be lent ONCE and giving it to thousands of people at once.
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You’re confusing the COVID “emergency lending” period (which was highly dubious, I agree) with their normal lending system. They track borrows against physical copies of the books stored in their warehouse. Typically you can only borrow a book for one hour before having to renew in the viewer.
Under discovery in the case it turned out that nope, they weren't doing that right either.
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True, but the judge's conclusion was "Even full enforcement of a one-to-one owned-to-loaned ratio . . . would not excuse IA’s reproduction of the Works in Suit." So even if they had done it right, this wouldn't have gone their way.
their lending scheme is timed by hour with the option to renew with some restraints, it is not lending to thousands at once
Then why did they just get their ass royally handed to them in court?
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Serious answer: it was judged that the act of scanning and delivering the book was ‘copying’ it - which copyright laws say they need permission to do. The whole ‘we only let one person at a time read it’ thing was deemed to be irrelevant.

Note that I’m not commenting on whether a reasonable person would also interpret copyright law this way, or on whether the laws are fair, just what the judgment was.

Because publishers are assholes.
Are all "rich monopolists" the same?
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Because they didn’t pay publishers for separate “ebook” licenses.
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Because the justice and political systems, particularly in regards to copyright, are deeply corrupt.
Because billion-dollar capitalist rent-seeking bullies got their panties in a wad and threatened to bankrupt them with legal fees that the bullies wouldn’t even feel if they lost. And the archive is just a non-profit that were offering a not-for-profit service for the betterment of society, with literally zero actual negative consequences.
Trying to normalize a DRM system is not advancing the betterment of society. If IA wanted to be pro-social scofflaws, they should have published DRM-free epubs/PDFs/etc for download, copyright law be damned. If they wanted to be law-abiding, they should have declined to offer this service, and informed users of the existence of shadow libraries.
> taking a copy licensed

I'm curious what license applies when I buy a physical book, as a library does? Do you have a resource where I could learn more?

doctrine of first sale, it's a really interesting concept in the United States at least.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine

I love how the Hacker ethos has shifted from information wants to be free[0] to this sort of predictable HN (the H stands for Hacker doesn't it) reply.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_wants_to_be_free

EDIT: looks like the "this is the law" crowd is out in full force on this summer Friday night. All the cool people are doing something else, elsewhere obviously.

It’s somewhat hypocritical to believe otherwise when one’s employment (or if that offends you, the effectiveness of copyleft licenses) depends on the existence of intellectual property. That sort of nuance tends to be lost on the “information wants to be free” crowd.
If society wanted to, it could most certainly choose to allow for the copying of any bits you are in possession of, while also forcing you to distribute additional bits in certain circumstances.
90% of the "archive" is just mass piracy anyway
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>95% of the Internet Archive is a useful service to society even if it pisses of a few companies. It should be legal even if they sometimes act as "holy fools".
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Piracy means that something was taken by force from someone. What was it that was taken that's no longer there?
that is not what software piracy means...
Legally speaking, software piracy does not exist.
Yeah, it's like these people are Google to be able to get away with this. If you're going to do it, it better be for a self benefiting reason, and damn well better not be for the good of all man kind. This is capitalist society and not some sort of benevolent society. What kind of moron would think that would ever be a good idea? /s
Archive.org looks a bit like astalavista these days.
I've no idea what you're trying to say.
Astalavista was the main warez search engine in the pre-google era and it was a play of words with altavista which was the most popular search engine at the time.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astalavista.box.sk

It wasn't a play on AltaVista -- Astalavista was actually older than AltaVista! It says so in the Wikipedia article you link to. I also only learned this mindblowing fact a few weeks ago.
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Likely a reference to an old search engine (altavista), which of course sucked next to google.

Yet, it ironically gave better results than Google does today.

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No, to Astalavista, which was also a search engine, but for pirated and other illegal stuff.
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Now that you mention it. I had near completely forgot.

I knew that site at some point.

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So, when is the IA's incredibly inept board going to stand down, before their stupidity burns down the entire project?
[dupe]

Actual article: https://blog.archive.org/2024/06/17/let-readers-read/

Some more discussion, including some IA folks: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40707084