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F & F


Capitalists? Or Communists?
posted by scubacuda on Sunday September 19, @12:26PM
from the dept.
Digital Entertainment LuYu writes "Is it just me, or has everybody forgotten what the word capitalism means? I was just reading this article about Michael Moore's attitude toward file sharing (yes, I know, I am a few months late). The statements in this article are just shocking. The author of the article talks about Michael Moore as if Michael Moore is advocating murder when in fact he only desires to have a monopoly on the profits associated with his work. Is that not the intent of copyright: To give the profits exclusively to the creator?

Click on Read More to finish reading LuYu's thoughts.

I remember hearing about something called freedom when I was a child. It had something to do with not being told what to do by others. I always thought capitalism was a way to ensure that freedom by allowing (not forcing) people to make (or not make) money in an unregulated market. This was a market where the buyer had no obligation to buy anything, and the seller was also free to refuse a deal. The seller could not control other sellers, and therefore had to price goods competitively with the other seller's goods in mind.

The opposite of this system was a thing called communism. That was a totalitarian system where your career was chosen for you, by someone else of course, when you were too young to know anything about it. This was a system where nothing was negotiable. Prices for everything were fixed, and all enterprise was the sole domain of the government. Everything was a monopoly. This meant high prices, long lines, shortages, and lack of choice.

Now, consider a statement or two from the article. First, the headline:

Fury as Fahrenheit 9/11 director backs illegal not-for-profit downloads
[emphasis mine, of course]
Really, since when is not-for-profit illegal? Is not making a profit somehow wrong? If I write something, like this essay for instance, am I required to sell it? Have we become so indoctrinated with this "ideas are property" concept that we have forgotten that we speak every day without any hope of selling what comes out of our jabbering jowls?

Further, even if the reader considers "illegal" and "not-for-profit" independent, are the downloads not legal if the creator condones it? Were the MPAA's arguments not all of the "we have to save the starving artists" nature? Why should a "starving artist" be criticized for voluntarily dismissing "potential profits"?

A second statement of interest is this:

While unwilling to make any official statement likely to further provoke Hollywood's heavy hitters, the film company appears to have fallen into line with its director's laissez-faire approach.
[emphasis mine, again]
Now the author is going so far as to actually say that laissez-faire, the most pure form of capitalism in theory, is somehow wrong and by extrapolation that Michael Moore is guilty of some thought crime for advocating free trade. The contradiction in statements like this could not be much more striking. The fact is: Laissez-faire capitalism is the logical opposite of socialism, and communism is the logical extreme of socialism. So the author of the article (and I suppose from his statements Jack Valenti, as well) is either a communist, a socialist, or both simultaneously. And the author of this article is certainly backing the MPAA's 10 year plan for all of us."

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    Capitalists? Or Communists? | Login/Create an Account | Top | 6 comments | Search Discussion
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
    just to point out the obvious (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 19, @06:34PM (#1638)
    a couple of comments: "Further, even if the reader considers "illegal" and "not-for-profit" independent, are the downloads not legal if the creator condones it?" creator and copyright holder are not one and the same. essentially, moore said "i'm ok with it if you screw me. lion's gate might have some issues however since you're also screwing them." also valenti is relatively infamous for spouting garbage. he has some great prophecy of doom quotes from the betamax decision era.
    Re:just to point out the obvious (Score:2)
    by LuYu on Tuesday September 21, @03:15AM (#1640)
    User #460 Info | http://grep.law.harvard.edu/

    a couple of comments: "Further, even if the reader considers "illegal" and "not-for-profit" independent, are the downloads not legal if the creator condones it?" creator and copyright holder are not one and the same.
    I am aware of the fact that the copyright holder is not necessarily the creator. However, I was arguing based on justification. If the justification for the existence of all of these laws is that the creator needs to be protected, then there is no reason to protect the copyright holder as the creator has already gotten his cut. Also, any time the creator does not have a problem with a particluar use of the work he created, any rights he relinquishes should not be allotted to anyone he has traded the rights to. Copyright is supposed to defend the creator, not the middleman.

    Nearly all the MPAA and RIAA's justifications for stronger copyright has included pleas for the "starving artist". Why should we defend rights that do not directly benefit the creator?

    "Anyone who doesn't quote me is paraphrasing."
    Re: is copyright really about the author? (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, @03:32PM (#1641)
    Some folk would argue that copyright has always been about the middleman, all the way back to the Statute of Anne (UK, 1710), and the "author" little more than a rhetorical device (see Authors and Owners by Mark Rose, IIRC, but I don't have the book handy and might be confused.)

    Instead of thinking about copyright as property, it might be useful to consider it as a device to regulate the market with regard to the functions of middlemen -- duplication, distribution, marketing, etc. This approach makes it easier to see the important role in copyright played by the enormous reductions in the costs of duplicating and distributing digital media.

    To me, this reduction in costs suggests that there is less economic justification for the functions of the the existing middlemen, which leads right into their absolute insistance on IP as property and the turn towards strongly-worded moralizing about property and theft.
    Re: is copyright really about the author? (Score:2)
    by LuYu on Tuesday September 28, @08:46AM (#1644)
    User #460 Info | http://grep.law.harvard.edu/

    This also means that their defense of copyright is completely groundless. In fact, if copyright exists only for the middlemen -- if it in no way protects the creator -- there is no excuse to support the existence of copyright at all.

    Both the Statute of Anne and the Constitution state explicitly that the goal is to protect creators. If the creators are not protected, then the Constitution does not grant Congress the power to legislate copyright. In short, if your supposition is true, copyright law is invalid and unconstitutional, and US citizens should not respect it.

    "Anyone who doesn't quote me is paraphrasing."
    The title (Score:1)
    by Merc on Thursday September 23, @03:40PM (#1642)
    User #1066 Info
    Fury as Fahrenheit 9/11 director backs illegal not-for-profit downloads

    The wording there is because the type of "illegal downloads" that Moore is saying he's ok with are the ones where no money is changing hands. He's not OK with "illegal for-profit downloads". Regarding the legality of the downloads, it's kinda sad. Moore came up with the idea for the movie, directed it, wrote it, narrated it, and promoted it -- yet he apparently doesn't own the copyright, so he apparently can't accompany the movie with an EULA explicitly allowing not-for-profit trading of the movie.

    The article is actually pretty balanced -- by today's defninition of "balanced" journalism. He gives Moore's point of view, but to "balance" that, he also gives the view of Jack Valenti. Why is Jack Valenti's view important? It isn't, but to get "balanced" coverage, you can't ever just hear one person's point of view.

    Re:The title (Score:2)
    by LuYu on Tuesday September 28, @09:16AM (#1645)
    User #460 Info | http://grep.law.harvard.edu/

    The problem is: The illegality of downloads has not been established. There are many questions surrounding this issue. I am saying that the author is biased precisley because he said "illegal". I am not certain that even the purchasing of genuinely pirated (for profit, I mean) movies is illegal. Producing and selling pirated movies is illegal, but is buying them? Is the RIAA going after downloaders or uploaders?

    Title 17 [cornell.edu]: Chapter 1: § 106 [cornell.edu]. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works
    Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
    1. to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
    2. to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
    3. to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    4. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
    5. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
    6. in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

    The fact is: the copyright holder's rights are limited to production, distribution, and performances. So, is there even such a thing as an "illegal download"? You tell me.

    "Anyone who doesn't quote me is paraphrasing."

    Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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