I liked the Boing Boing article about the recent DRM problem: A woman living in Norway had her Kindle wiped by Amazon and was not given an explanation. What I loved was this logo:
Nice set, by the way: Librarians Against DRM.
Note to self: Today I replaced my AirPort Express with a new one. The old one was simply unreachable and resetting it made no difference. I bought it back in 2005. It lasted for seven years. That’s pretty good.
I’m once again dreaming of an OpenWlan, specially in the light of recent decisions:
I’m not happy with the Open Gaming License (OGL). What frustrates me the most are greedy publishers who declare everything important to be Product Identity.
I wanted to set up a wiki for fan generated content based on Necromancer Games’ book Bard’s Gate. To my surprise, I found the exact wording of the license precluded the reuse of anything important. That’s when I realized that the OGL can be cool, but it often isn’t. Unfortunately, the D&D 3.5 SRD came with the OGL and that’s why we are stuck with it.
No wonder the Bard’s Gate fan site promised in the book never materialized. The lock down certainly worked. The book has basically disappeared from our memory. I still have an archive of the wiki I started back then. Maybe I’ll get to use it in ninety years. Right.
Another example of how things are needlessly complicated by the OGL: The wiki Campaign:Monsters collects monsters for old school games. Making sure that the right OGL is linked is a major pain compared my fantasy alternative where the license says: “chapters bla bla and bla as well as all the magic items and feats are are in the public domain”.
When I wanted to import the Tome of Horrors with Swords & Wizardry stats into the Monsters wiki, I realized that I would basically have to rewrite all the monster descriptions because nothing but the name and the stat block were Open Content. Disappointing, again.
Unfortunately, the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC BY SA) alternative could be used to the same effect: requiring the listing of all the previous authors. The only thing that we would save is a page of legalese.
What I want is a viral license that “infects” the other parts of the works. No derivatives where all the new stuff is proprietary. I guess if you argued that importing monsters from a CC BY SA source into your book constitutes an adaptation and not a collection, then the CC BY SA does in fact “infect” your entire derived work.
This is a different trade-off. Perhaps no company would have jumped on the band-wagon back in the days of D&D 3.0. These days, however, as a consumer that is active online, that acts as an independent publisher like most of us do and wants to distribute derivative works in campaign wikis, blog posts, PDF documents, etc. – these days I find the CC BY SA license or the public domain to be much preferable to the OGL.
For a different perspective, check out Stuart Robertson’s Why I'm Not Using the OGL.
I was reading Stefan Poag’s post Do I know how to be a famous artist? He lists some questions he thinks artists should answer for themselves. The question “How to make sure that anyone who’s interested in your art is able to buy something, regardless of how little or how much they have to spend” reminded me of something…
What I would like to see is a simple, semi-automated process on artists’ websites. Artists would post cool pictures and they’d all include the following:
I feel that’d be better than a tipping jar but still not as convoluted as the usual process. There is no email exchange required. I don’t get to decide anything about the piece – but perhaps some people will approach the artist with adaptations they’d like to see, in which case you do your usual sales process.
I don’t know whether this would have led to a ton of sales, but I’m sure I would have spent maybe $10 or $20 on little stuff like that; things I can use on my blog, on my campaign wikis, submit to Fight On! (where upon I’d maybe pay the little extra required for a print product).
I think as a small artist it’s important to not waste money with a lawyer. Keep it short and simple. You won’t be going to court anyway – if people are not going to pay then that’s “shrinkage" on the web or whatever you want to call it. But give those people who want to buy something small an option.
Do you think it’d work?
As for my own lousy drawings, they’re available for free because I wouldn’t pay for them myself.
I just saw an email on the iCommons Switzerland mailing list listing Switzerland based netlabels and artists.
Now I just have to spend some time listening to the music… These days I usually listen to the Sounds podcast. Here in Switzerland I pay a monthly fee because I have a radio. Might as well profit from whatever they do. (I do confess, however, that I’d love to hear that none of this money goes to the entertainment industry. (Thieves! Luddites!)
Yesterday, I wrote about my thoughts on SOPA and how the USA’s legal arm had grown long indeed.
Today, I want to comment on something I’m seeing in a lot of the statements in protest to SOPA, eg. on Google’s End Piracy, Not Liberty page: “Fighting online piracy is important.” Wil Wheaton says on Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet: “I’ve probably lost a few hundred dollars in my life to what the MPAA and RIAA define as piracy, and that sucks, but that doesn’t come close to how much money I’ve lost from a certain studio’s creative accounting.”
I agree that SOPA and PIPA are terrible. They will reduce our freedoms, increase legal uncertainty, make it harder to do business, make it harder to host user contributed content (forums, wikis, archives, social networking and more). The goal, of course: Big Hollywood’s Big SOPA Defeat.
But while the citizens of the USA fight stupid legislation (which the USA will then most probably try to impose on other countries as well), let us not forget that the current copyright regime is stupid, too. We need less protection. We need shorter protection. We need less punishment.
I want to be a privateer!
Update: Supreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public Domain – they keep extending copyright, what a shame! I prefer the Public Domain.
Update: I love this rant: Why I'm a pirate!
Update: A step in the right direction: Another Interesting White House Petition: Reduce The Term Of Copyright – even though 56 years is still way too long and even though the president appears to be the wrong addressee.
I just saw Twitter CEO says SOPA blackout protest "silly" on BoingBoing. I wonder: Should I shut down Emacs Wiki for US residents? I’d have to do a quick geo location of the IP numbers before serving anything. That sucks.
I always felt that I was as safe as I can be running Emacs Wiki: I live in Switzerland, the server is hosted in Germany, the domain name registrar is French, the top-level .org domain is the only thing connecting it to the USA. But then I read US Can Extradite UK Student For Copyright Infringement, Despite Site Being Legal In The UK – and now I wonder about the worst case. Perhaps I should get myself a different domain name.
Actually, I think the main problem is that with all the scare mongering around copyright infringement and the astronomical punishments dealt out in the US, I have lost my confidence in their judicial system when it comes to copyright and patents. The most positive explanation for that is that I’m just misinterpreting all the bad news I’m reading online. My impression is formed by following @internetlaw, @privacylaw, @techdirt and @boingboing, following the occasional link. I end up reading Actual damages for single unauthorized download of software program held to be cost of single license fee (from $1,370,590 down to $4,200) and I wonder how much it cost the accused in time, energy and money to get this result. I would not want to fight this battle in court, even if I win.
Case in point: How USPTO's recklessness destroys business, innovation, and competition – a company produces something and years later a competitor is awarded a patent. The cost of going to court is prohibitive, and so they just give up.
Overprotective copyright and a judicial system that encourages statutory damages, patent offices unable to cope with new technology, a highly networked world making it easy to publish internationally with incompatible legal systems. It makes my head hurt!
Update: I decided to post a more personal message on EmacsWiki:2012-01-18.
I’m happy not to be living in the USA. The sad thing is that the USA doesn’t just export “intellectual property” in the form of music, it also exports the legal framework to install this market abroad. Sooner or later a lot of people around the world have to fight their local battles to prevent the same kind of idiocy from happening in their own countries.
The Stop Online Piracy Act is terrible. I’ve been following BoingBoing on SOPA for a while. Check TechDirt on the SOPA amendments for some dispairingly inane Congress. Way to go! Where’s Lawrence Lessig and his Rootstrikers movement?
What I find particularly disappointing is that these days, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is being held up as a model even though its “anti-circumvention” provisions are also terrible (EFF on DMCA). Soon after it was introduced, Switzerland revised its copyright law. We are still allowed to download stuff for personal use (“Eigengebrauch”). The government recently confirmed this. That means that if I have something that is “protected” by DRM, I am still allowed to make a copy for myself. To exercise my right, I need to circumvent the restrictions placed on the thing I want to copy. It turns out that thanks to the USA’s export of legal frameworks, the Swiss copyright law now also has an anti-circumvention article (Art. 39a Schutz technischer Massnahmen). Thus, while I am allowed to circumvent DRM in order to exercise my legal rights, others are prohibited from “creating, importing, offering, selling, distributing, renting, letting, advertizing or owning with the intent to profit” the very tools that I need to exercise my legal rights.
SOPA will lead to the same levels of inanity, I’m sure. Just google for DNS alternatives.
As for the rest… For obvious reasons I don’t care whether the National Defense Authorization Act affects US citizens or not. At least they get to taste some of what they are serving the rest of the world. It’s just like the Transportation Security Administration and how they make life miserable for everybody without actually helping much (BoingBoing on TSA). People like me just start avoiding the USA.