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Wednesday, January 18, 2012



Don't forget, we have unrestricted corporate political speech to thank for this (at least temporary) victory.

Ken Blanchard

I am all for corporate speech!


I am certainly no expert in this field, however I do see a need to protect intellectual property.

Ken Blanchard

Dugger: I also see a need to protect intellectual property. The question here is the means.

Stan Gibilisco

As a writer who derives his (vanishing) living from intellectual property rights, my initial reaction to SOPA was to support it. However, that bill, if it became law, might have gone to far. Then the "cure" would be worse than the "disease." The danger would come when an administration started censoring people and institutions that it did not agree with.

I don't know to what extent "bootlegging" on the Internet actually affects my income, either way (either to increase it by calling more attention to my work, or to reduce it by cutting into real sales). However, the bootleggers really love my stuff -- no doubt about it. For example, see:


Now if SOPA were in effect, Ken, my posting of that link would bring the black helicopters to both of our houses! But anyone can find that link on Google within five minutes simply by conducting a search on the phrase "Stan Gibilisco."

I wonder how Google would feel about this little glitch if they, rather than McGraw-Hill, were the publisher.

I don't think any law can address the problem of Internet bootlegging, but some good old fashioned vigilantism might. I've daydreamed about setting up an offshore Web operation, a true pirate site (the so-called "pirates" who infringe on copyrights should be called "bootleggers," IMHO). I'd find the best bunch of stone-headed hackers in California, run off with them to Dominica or some similar independent tropical island paradise, set up a high-powered satellite Internet connection in a rented beach house, let those clowns sleep for 10 hours a night, snorkel and fish and surf for 10 hours a day, and spend the other 4 hours hacking into bootleg sites, screwing them up with denial-of-service attacks, infecting the illegal copies of writing, music, and movies with viruses that would wreck the operating systems of those criminals (and they are criminals) who download illegal stuff ... we'd have a great time, and publishers could write off our invoices as "international promotion and advertising expenses." Grey Hat Squadron forever!

Of course, I'm kidding here. I can't even digest a burrito, much less travel halfway around the world to kick some dirty Southern European rats' patooties with a 10-Gbps satellite Internet outpost in the hurricane belt. Besides, how would I keep my employees supplied with weed? I've watched "locked up abroad" ...

As the pipeline is not dead, neither is this copyright law issue dead. But Obama did right to kill the pipeline (for now), and SOPA in its current form won't pass into law anyway.

As for those who would rob me into the poorhouse, do it while you can, but don't come crying to me when your phone wakes up some morning and tells you that you're a no good rotten son of a sea cook instead of playing your favorite ring tone. Aloha!

Bill Fleming

One of the problems with the proposed law(s) I suspect is the concept of "fair use." In the "old days" it used to be relatively easy to sort out what constituted fair use as opposed to infringement or trademark violation, but these days, as the lines between media, education, entertainment, etc. become more and more blurred, not so much.

Plus, even in the old days, policing and protecting one's intellectual property rights was difficult enough. These days, on a world wide web, it is practically impossible. In any case, as per Stan, it's entirely possible that efforts to cure the disease could quite conceivably kill many of the the patients. Peer pressure is probably the best approach, along with adherence to the golden rule. Because, after all, isn't that essentially the stuff laws are made of anyway?

Stan Gibilisco

Over the past 20 years or so, the Internet has done a heck of a lot more good than harm for my livelihood.

I'm actively brainstorming (with my publisher) to find a constructive way to take advantage of these bootleg activities. I believe that any wave can be surfed. One must find the proper angle, the proper timing, and then get up the gumption to go ahead and do what needs done.

In my case, perhaps videos of "lectures" and "tutorials," designed for big-screen viewing but adaptable to portable devices such as tablets and even those Apple pads (iPad? iPod? I can never get 'em straight) might draw attention to my work and cause people to buy legitimate copies (as well as download a few illegitimate ones, I suppose) from amazon dot com or barnesandnoble dot com.

Then would come an article for "Wired": "How To Make a Video Go Viral."

Google, amazon dot com, and barnesandnoble dot com offer "previews" of my works online. You can look at, say, 10 pages or so, and then you get the option to buy the work, either print or digital. I think that Google as also made it possible to find answers to specific questions people might have by entering terms into the search engine. (Try searching on the phrase "complex-number impedance" and look at the contents of the first few links.)

I'm honored by this sort of attention and I can see only good coming out of it. The reader wins (question answered!), the publisher wins (attention to them), and I win (attention to me). Do these excerpts exceed "fair use" limits? I would have to say not.

Some way, somehow, I'll make these bootleggers' products work for me. Heck, I'm starting to get old and soft and bored anyhow. Time for some cool new stuff. In any case, no law, no police, no court, not even any army will stop a determined bootlegger in a foreign country. Might as well not waste time trying to do brain surgery with a hatchet.

The big downside to all of this recent Internet activity lies in the fact that people's respect for the rule of law has begun to erode. But only for certain laws! If the law is stupid, if the law sucks (remember the 55 mph speed limit and the song "Convoy"?), well then, the demise of its rule constitutes cause for celebration.

Now, it's time to get back to the business of starving to death.

Stan Gibilisco

As I wolfed down my midnight cheeseburger and listened to BBC News on NPR, I learned that the feds have actually taken down the file sharing site www.megaupload.com and will likely send its principals to prison.

On another note, if you go to www.filestube.com (a site quite obviously devoted to copyright theft) and look at their main page, you'll find, at the bottom -- a copyright notice! Ha, ha!

Then the hackers are going after the DOJ, FBI, copyright office, etc.

Never a dull moment on the InterWeb.


"listened to BBC News on NPR"

Well....that explains alot!

Ken Blanchard

Thanks to all for a great thread, and thanks especially to Stan. You have given us a lot to chew on. I am in an odd position. I have written and published a lot. Anyone who steals my material is free to do so, as long as they mention the source. I suppose if I was a rock star I would feel differently.

BillF: I find myself in complete agreement. Where is the fun in that?

Bill Fleming

Interesting paradox here. On the one hand, easy access to, and liberal sharing of content would appear to drive down content value. On the other, it appears that making content thus ubiquitous is the most highly prized value of all. What other commodity works like that economically? (The more the demand, the lower the value.)

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