Megaupload taken offline

Well, I think that dead people have an interest in seeing their heirs be able to make money from their work, up to a certain point, though probably not to suppress it. And I don’t particularly think it’s a good idea for even living creators to be able to block the use of their work; if it was bad for Puccini’s estate to suppress a jazz version of Turandot, I don’t think it would be better for a living Puccini to be able to do so, as long as it weren’t marketed in a way that left the impression that Puccini approved of it.

What I’d really like is a system that ensures that creators are somehow compensated for their work without giving them veto power over any derivative uses – I can sample your avant-garde flute piece in my rap record (ads play before link), but you get paid nicely when I sell a mint. But I have no idea how such a system could be set up, particularly because how can you distinguish between “demanding fair compensation” and “jacking up the price to prohibitive levels”?

I tend to agree. But it’s too hard to legally encode the difference between that and the necessary – the clip from “Garden State” with the soundtrack replaced by “Tip Drill” was a brilliant commentary on the movie, and it’s scandalous that FOX was able to have it yanked.

(By the way, I searched for the novel mentioned in the last comic strip above, and I actually found it! I think some people had a contest to write a version.)

Drawing the line seems such a minefield. It’s simpler just to treat sampling etc. the same as we do quoting in academic texts etc.: you should attribute the sampled pieces and not sample too big a chunk.

I thought it unnecessary, but I think it should still be allowed. I don’t reckon there’s too much merit in it (I started reading the graphic novel and it lacked the wit of the original, so I gave up on it). I hadn’t heard of the Garden State/Tip Drill mashup, though my search confirms that FOX has struck with extreme prejudice.

More over, it shows what happens when we our internet infrastructure is in the hands of private companies beholden to smallminded local laws.

The authors of this class of lit are mostly dead, but crazy shit seems to happen with reputable estates fairly regularly. The Tolkien estate was pushing some nonsense recently about owning any reference to J.R.R.‘s name on buttons or pins, etc. Stuff as simple as, ‘I like Tolkien’ on a pin with no art — takedown, banned. There was a lot of pushback from fans for bleedin’ obvious reasons, and I think the estate climbed down. This illustrates my point which is that people pushing copyright do not stand on any recognisable, consistent principle that makes any sense in the world. So what they get is what they can grab: that’s the only logical rule, here. So the natural effect of that uncertainty – of there being no ‘there’ there – is that authors and estates who are morally confused about copyright (and one cannot help but be morally confused about copyright if one attempts to take it at all seriously) will just push the bar until it stops – i.e., until users rebel and there is a negative P.R. incident. That is the copyright industry’s boundary — not the law. So we decide where the lines are drawn on copyright, actually — not them: they just push until we say ‘stop’.

I don’t know enough about MegaUpload to know whether to trust their word, but I know for a fact that the government lies, so… you do the math. In the absence of more information, I would not make the assumption you have made. I think the safer assumption is, the government filled its indictment with exaggerations designed to elevate misdemeanors into felonies, because that is par for the course in the legal system. One really cannot trust what the government (or anyone) says in a legal filing. Better to trust a flip of a coin than in that.

Not sure I’m following your logic here. You think that new sharing site startups need to be kept in check for some reason? That this is ‘better’. I agree that weaker companies are extremely vulnerable in this regime. That’s a major part of the problem. Hard for me to see where you get ‘better’ but I’m not sure I’ve understand you correctly.

Yeah, that’s a danger. It will probably take the form of everybody pretending to meet up to ‘serve the consumer’, and then once they are all in a room together, they act like the business sharks they are and just cut deals to serve everybody’s interests but the consumer. If the government brings them to the table together, watch out: that just removes any danger of anti-trust prosecution.


It’s better from the POV of the media corporations, not from the startup’s, nor mine. Lawyers will always prefer negotiating from a position of strength.

Yeah, I suspected myself of just not getting it, there, because it didn’t seem to match the rest of what you said. Thanks for clarifying.


Steve Wozniak on Web freedom (including his opinions on MegaUpload and KimDotcom). Sorry for the thread necromancy, and this link is not brand new either, but I’ve just come upon it, and thought it might pose an interesting challenge to those old school Apple types (which I count myself among) who see Wozniak as a personal hero, and yet who unlike he (and I), hold much more conventional views than he does on copyright and much more trusting views of corporations and governments than Woz appears to, today.

I probably come across as a crank sometimes on this forum, with my views on copyright, and I can accept that, especially since my views are almost exactly in line with Woz. I find it very heartening when I see him say stuff like this (as he often does, when people bother to ask), and it makes up (though not evne close to completely) for the terribly anti-user-freedom things Steve Jobs has done.

No response expected or required. (I probably won’t return to read them for quite a while, anyway.)