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07/25/2008

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Gareth Nelson

"I'm aware of that assanine communist literalist take on the "purpose of copyright" but there's obviously one reason why an artist or author would need to "secure his right": to sell his book or work of art or design. Otherwise, it can't be sold. Some things are so obvious, they don't need stating, except for the insufficiently educated."

The original purpose of copyright is similar to the purpose of a patent: A temporary monopoly to act as an incentive to create works of art or advance the sciences. These days it's been perverted with the concept of intellectual property. Now, people think that the purpose of copyright law is to protect their god-given right to their "property". Worse, where software is concerned people like to use copyright and patents as a means of controlling what people do with their real, physical property (hardware). In what way would microsoft (for example) lose anything if I ran a local copy of windows and modified it to suit my purposes? As-is, copyright law has even been used in the US to restrict people using legally purchased DVDs (look up DeCSS). If I was in the US, i'd be branded a pirate for watching most of my DVD collection on my computer because I need to use a "circumvention device" to get round the DRM - even without any actual copying.

As for communism - horrible system, but not related at all to whether or not someone has access to the corresponding source code for the object code running on their computer.

"IBM's firewall isn't about liberating content. THey don't care about some girl's dress. The point there is that they can flee to their own safety of a corporate-maintained firewall, while leaving everybody else who can't do that to fend for themselves."

Funny, since with opensim and similar out there anyone can now do the same fairly easily.

"The obvious easy way to protect IP of the corporate type, and innovation and inventions, is to put them all behind a firewall and run an access list. Firewalls are the new copyright."

The connection settings for my database server are not a creative work, and I would not be able to sue someone for copyright infringement if they were redistributed. However, they are sensitive information which I protect to the best of my ability. Private information is not the same as copyrighted works.

"The Lindens can issue risk APIs for those wishing to sell currency. If the right trusted arrangement were established, I see no reason why an open sim couldn't hook up to the LindEx. Indeed, Joe Millar talked about making the Linden the gold standard of the Metaverse."

But the lindens have not done this, and therefore it's not possible for anyone on the opensim team or elsewhere to link up with the lindex.

Cocoanut Koala

I realize someone can take content to a restricted island on SL and there is no way you can see what is happening with your content there.

But that is different from taking content to an entire other world, with its own permission system (or lack thereof).

I want to be able to say whether or not my content goes to those other worlds/grids/hatracks*.

There is zero reason why I should not be able to.

The IBM thing IS a different setup, in that they do not allow their own things to be ported out of it. That is not the same as a private island in SL.

coco

*"Worlds/grids/hatracks" has just become my new shorthand way of getting around the rather controlling people who keep demanding that others use their chosen nomenclature.

In the same way that I long ago resorted to the phrase, "game/platform/okra," in order to avoid being browbeaten by people who waste all sorts of time insisting that others must always use the word "platform."

Gigs Taggart

Prokofy,

I do program in the real world. This guy was an idiot if he was asserting that a cryptographic signature could somehow prevent copying.

You wanted to talk about things that could be done... Well authenticity is one of them.

Saijanai

Which gave a presentation on an internal API for L$ a few weeks ago and discussed what an external API might look like at hsi next office hours and agreed that LL was heading in that direction. Zero has indicated that as well. Whether these plans are implemented is, of course, another matter, but every statement I've heard lately is along the lines that LL is actively working on an API to make things like *authorized* OpenSIm worlds able to use L$.

Prokofy Neva

I have my serious doubts about this, because the original blueprint by Zero or WHOEVER (it isn't signed, but it must have been him) specifically says currency will have to be removed. I jammed on this for ages, trying to get Lindens accountable about this. I don't think Zero on his own wants this; I think in fact these other Lindens may have been required to do this if they want to stay working on this project at LL. Joe Miller says -- fantastically -- that the Linden will be the gold standard, blah blah -- well, we'll see.

Meanwhile, no Linden is blogging this -- if it is merely gossiped about in an office hour, how serious is it? It's not an official statement yet.

Whether they are implemented IS INDEED another matter.

Here, Saijanai and Dale Innis and all you other talkers, claiming opensim is developing an economy. Take the Prokofy Bold Blue Aluminum Table Challenge.

Go to my stall in Wakeley and buy 10 copies of the Bold Blue Aluminum table, I think it costs $10. Port it into open sims. Then resell it there without disturbing its permissions. Then take the money, and cash it out and give it to me in real life.

Prokofy Neva

P.S. and what is the definition of "authorized"?

Horus Vale

Though it is true currently that adding a virtual money function would require a special software module be hooked into a particular Opensim grid service, its still possible to do business without it. Personal transactions can already be made in Opensim grids because avatar to avatar inventory transfer is supported and the money needed can be made to change hands offgrid or on a grid where it is already implemented. In the Central Grid orientation area, for example, one is instructed that land rentals can be paid in Lindens in SL from a vendor located there. The bottom line is that sales in virtual goods and land are not dependent on Opensim virtual currency support. It would not be too hard for a virtual goods dealer like SLX or Onrez to start offering delivery to various Opensim grids as well as Secondlife and to simply pay them in whatever currency and whatever venue they wish to support. So I think the implemented virtual goods permissions are more important than the money system. Money is an easy work around, perms and availablity are what count.

Prokofy Neva

Horus, obviously that isn't very secure at all. Making a side deal on a handshake that you will pay in another world isn't really scalable. It only works because a few people know each other now -- and it's a recipe for fraud.

I fail to see a money event/money taking object in Central Grid is functioning properly outside of the SL domain -- again, it sounds insecure.

There can't possible be such a definitive "bottom line" stated here now, as these things sound very rigged up and insecure, and of course not backed up by Linden policy and practice, which is sort of like FIDC. Of course transactions will be dependent on that platform or some sort of secure relationship to it and you can't discount it.

OnRez or SLex might technically be able to code delivery of objects to open sims, but they'd likely have to take payment in US dollarson CCs or Paypal, I don't see how the Linden part can reliably work.

Handshake deals and rigged up scripts that are "workarounds" is not how you make a secure economy.

The permissions are important; secure transactions are important equally.

I'd love for this to be examined by someone outside of this project because I'm sure we'll only hear boosterism and cheerleading from inside it.

For several years, everyone cashed out their Lindens on the GOM happily and securily without hardly a glitch because the company that did this only dealt in currency, and was not related to the world or objects -- it was outside of it. It built up a reputable system and LL permitted it to send Lindens in and out of SL through scripted objects.

I think LL will want to develop some sort of protocol to handle scripted objects doing the same thing elsewhere, and I wonder if in fact they have sanctioned Central Grid having a vendor doing this.

Horus Vale

Oh, I meant that the sign in Central Grid said to pay a vendor in SecondLife the L$ for the CG Land rentals. So the transaction happens in SL but the goods are delivered in CG. And what's stopping SLX or OnRez from doing the same? Why should they care how they get paid as long as they do get paid? If I can pay a secured website and take a virtual goods delivery on the grid I choose, then I do not need in-world money. I just need the goods I paid for. What's stopping someone from setting up virtual goods store using a web currency like Egold and a private secured website then coding goods delivery to a grid with bot avatars? In that model, all you would have to do is display goods to be sold and put up signs to direct your customers to a web based store. You would then pay the site in Egold and it would login a bot avatar to deliver the purchased virtual goods from the bot's inventory. You end up with a convertable currency, can pay as you like, and take delivery on any grid that supports avatar inventory transfers (which is the default now). You want the Opensim software to handle this function but there ways to get this stuff done off-grid or on other grids just as securely. As for trust, well that's all about reputation and experience. Bad service means bad rep and lost business as you well know.

Prokofy Neva

Horus, I don't know where to start with you. What you have with this method of paying a vendor in SL to get goods in Central Grid is what they call in real life "hawala" in Arabic or "po okazii" in Russian or "immigrant banking -- I give you $50 in New York, your sister gives my brother-in-law $50 in Moscow. It's a system with its charms, but obviously it relies on trust.

I'm not at all sure that OnRez or Slex would jump at the idea of adding thousands of new trouble tickets where people claimed their deliveries never arrive -- already a problem for all kinds of vendors, inworld and on sites, due to servers spitting up and stuff happening. It's not like writing the address to Buffalo or writing it to Schenectady.

Um, what's "stopping" someone scripting up stuff with e-gold is that there isn't a company with a solid reputation with a bank account and transparency operating a platform with a history of generally paying its bills on time, like Linden Lab.

Having bots become the interface instead of an automatic inworld interface really creates a lot of friction and trust gaps in any world. It's not like SL where you put a price on something and leave it, secure in the knowledge that if someone buys it, their account pretty much will always debit and show a record on their website.

It is not that I "want" the OpenSim system to handle this. It's that I point out that they are not equipped to seriously take on an economy, for ideological reasons don't want one, therefore they cannot be trusted to handle permissions designed for a buy/sell economy (not the "gift economy" of the CC freebies). Copyright protection acquires its meaning by being enabling the creator to SELL stuff, not just get credit for giving it away for free to other people to modify but not sell.

Any econonomy that handles these matters off the grid becomes an Oriental Bazaar and not a Western Flea Market. By that I mean it becomes a situation where instead of a willing buyer and a willing seller meeting over a price tag on an automatic buy/sell interface, there has to be agreement, haggling, trust, all kinds of subjective factors -- and then arbitrariness and injustice can enter in.

Horus Vale

I think you are asking for too much Prok. Secondlife as a single grid is not scalable into something as massive as the current worldwide web. To create a 3D web there must be a system of multiple independent grids that are decentralized but interconnected. What you are suggesting is that there needs to be a strong centralized authority to provide for trusted services such as single virtual currency and copyright enforcement to maintain an intergrid. I don't see Linden Labs or any other single entity ever having the needed resources or winning enough trust to take up such a role. Today's Public Internet has many standards and agreements but very little for hard law and police enforcement. There is no strong authority to rule over it to provide such things. It is a decentralized chaos managed by standards committees. Barring producing such a strong central authority, just how would you solve those problems? Who would you trust? Size, power or popularity does not trust make. You have been arguing for years that LL has been doing things wrong. Why should I trust them more than the individual vendors that I do business with? Someone has to be trusted to create relationships of any kind. If I join a grid that handles some of my assets or engage in commerce with a vendor, I have to trust them to some degree till proven wrong. I can gadge the level of trust I should offer to some degree by reputation and experience. If and when my trust is violated then all I have for recourse is to give up and move on or appeal to a higher authority. But there is no higher authority on the net, just local governments and their laws which is exactly what the Opensim developers are saying. As you say, they can not handle what you are asking them to handle, which is a centralized currency system and strong DRM protected content. So they are agreeing that they are not going to do so. They say call your lawyer and take legal action. So if that is not the answer, just what is your's? How would you handle these issues? What is your solution? How can we have a 3D worldwide intergrid that is decentralized out of necessity yet, open, transparent, well serviced and well ordered at the same time? It seems a task for the gods and not mere mortals.

Rightasrain

The link to Opensim from SL is the end of the SL economy. It looks fairly straightforward to move stuff over. The SL non-land economy is already battered and the impact of content moving out of SL is enough to stop any sensible content creator from making new business until there is a clear picture about how making stuff can have any sales return.

It is of course amazing/predictable that LL is talking about some "metaverse" services when in fact they are accelerating the destruction of the virtual world economy. Why have a metaverse currency if there is nothing to buy?

If IBM thinks O/S for virtual worlds is going to take-off like Apache did--and save them a lot of money making software when all big blue knows how to do is sell tin (and financial services)--they are again wrong on predicting the future. Virtual worlds is a service and the stack needs to be hosted. LL actually knew this but seems to have lost interest in their own creation.

Without a real framework for digital rights (and effective policing) there is no chance for a meaningful content-based economy. So, more walled gardens and paid admission.

Prokofy Neva

The end of the SL economy began in February 2007 with Mitch Kapor's "liquidity event" interview at Davos in which he said the Lindens wished to opensource the software, and urged people not to consider land an "investment", basically, as it would lose value. If you didn't figure out to get out of the land business in June 2005 when the Lindens announced the yanking of the telehubs, this was your second chance, in February 2007. If you remain, you are either independently wealthy or idealistic or an exception to the rule of general decline -- or hoping to be.

So it's not just the hook-up to open sims, it's the Lindens avowed course of opensourcing software without really having a clear notion of how to protect value. OS as a communistic ideology has been able to succeed in real life like communism used to because of the existence of capitalist entities (in this case businesses, not countries) willing to go on paying for open source in some way -- either by subsidizing its development, or buying it or taking it and selling consulting on top of it. Open source, like communism, relies on non-communist systems around it, some of which it coopts and sometimes by force, i.e. through hacking, to keep alive. On its own, it could never survive -- it can't generate revenue unless it reaches for its opposite, proprietary companies willing to pay or build services. It's a symbiotic relationship.

In LL's case, there isn't the robust diverse Metaverse out there to sustain all this hook-up. I really think the whole Zha thing is a "bridge too far". They're building a bridge out to nowhere. It's like that guy in Zelda walking endlessly over bridges but getting nowhere.

It is baffling that just as they are destroying the virtual economy by giving up on fixing exploits or policing IP better, and glutting land so that they can make a quick buck but killing off their customers, they'd be talking about being good stewards in the Metaverse. I'm not getting that part.

As for IBM, I think the public perceives this thing called International Business Machines as selling tin, yes. I once spent an hour quizzing Zha about this. Yes, they still make metal things in factories in real life and make money from that, but an increasing portion of their revenue comes from consulting and helping business-level customers, it's not just financial services to buy the machines.

I think there is something sort of collectively silly about IBM, in its dotage, sending employees to fly around like magic fairies in Second Life and make buildings and build bridges to other open sims, it's like not being early to an opportunity, but more like a second childhood. But that's ok, it probably takes some companies being willing to do that if they have the money.

From everything I've seen of these existing IBM people flying around SL tho, they are all the wrong sorts to be hosting a virtual world, as they don't seem to grasp how to hold value and how to make an economy and a community. They're the predictable gaggle of opensourceniks and extremists and young (and middle-aged) insolent and arrogant types who think they're the smart ones surrounded by idiots. It's hopeless.

They are promising us a magic carp, of course, claiming that open source and open standards and open everything will somehow translate to a business model.

I think eventually people will be willing to pay subscriptions to social media, and even SL and extra layers of content, but it will have to become more stable and reliable for that to happen. If people can pay $37 a month for a cable bill to sit passively, if they are the time to enjoy the interactivity of a virtual world, they will pay that much. However, the lion's share of the audience will still be waiting to be entertained passively.

rightasrain

People will pay for something of value--how many and at what price are the questions.

Atm, LL doesn't provide enough infrastructure to support this for content creators whether interactive or passive. Passive will play better on an MMO platform of course, especially something strong like a console.

Anyway, maybe LL should be talking to the boys in Redmond instead of the boys in blue. IBM seems more interested in using virtual worlds to sell tin (ok and some services) by using collaboration as a way to sell without sending sales people to the customers.

Apache was a lot easier to pull in the O/S code than a virtual world stack.

Prokofy Neva

Horus,

You're thinking with the oneworldism that the Lindens think in, in fact, instead of realizing the one obvious thing that this one company could do: create separate grids. Like There.com and Forterra did with Makena Technologies. Same software, separate grids, one for socializing, the other for business, able to be closed and customized.

LL could make business/education/socializing grids or even regional grids that didn't connect to each other, but this requires not only technology, a change in ideology.

Yes, monetary systems generally do require a strong central authority to maintain. That's a given.

The public internet sells things through it, but unlike virtual worlds, doesn't sell things *in it*.

Being critical of the way the Lindens manage the economy is different than not trusting their LindEx. If I didn't trust their LindEx, I wouldn't be here. They have a system of risk APIs for third parties. I don't see the enormously big deal about an open sim continent, if it is serious, behaving like Slexchange.com or Anshe Chung and selling currency and following the rules. This seems quite possible to me.

As for personal trust, I will never trust anything that comes near libsecondlife, having seen their track record of horrendous griefing and cynicism in SL. Some of their members harassing me continually whom they refused to expel cost me real money and of course time trying to address the consequences of their destructive griefing.

The same for Adam Zaius -- quite frankly, I had high regard for him, even though being rather sanguine about his FIC status and his power-seeking, but when he took Joshua Nightshade as a boyfriend, sorry, but that horridly and shockingly discredited him. Joshua is one of the most diseased minds I've ever encountered -- his griefing and psychotic manipulations were constantly on display on the old Second Citzien. He constantly griefed and stalked me inworld and here. He's truly a vile vermin, and there aren't that many people I'd bother to say something so strong about, because most people like that are just ignorant, uneducated kids.

Being abused in life doesn't entitle you to abuse others and give you a pass. I'm sorry, but I find the whole thing pretty nauseating and that is never anything that is going to change. I find it hard to imagine ever giving any money to these highly untrustworthy people who showed their contempt for humanity in Second Life.

Troy McLuhan

At a bicycle store:

Mom: Hi I'd like to get a bicycle helmet for my son.

Shopkeeper: Oh, I'm sorry but they don't make those anymore.

Mom: Oh? Why not?

Shopkeeper: It was realized that some smart kids could remove their helmets. It wasn't a 100% solution.

Mom: That's crazy!

Shopkeeper: Did you say something? If so, I didn't hear you because I've disabled comments.

danx0r

ha, this is such a funny discussion. As a core dev on opensim, I've spent some time discussing this issue with Adam et al.

The fact is, annoying though he be, Prok is right about one thing: open source developers are, (heavily generalizing -- I'm at least one exception) very influenced by the Gnu/Stallman/Lessig/copyleft meme, and they do indeed downplay the possibility, feasibility, usefulness and likely adoption of anything that smacks of DRM. They will not put much effort if any into implementing it, because it's not something they really want to see take hold.

But here's the crux: OS folks work on OS pretty much for free, and gift their work to the world, in accordance with their own principles. You get what you pay for, and with open source, you will generally get a product that incorporates an ideology of creative commons, anti-DRM, info wants to be free, capitalism is evil, etc and so forth.

If you (prok or IBM or anyone else) want opensim to *really* support serious, useful DRM -- enough to make the economy work as well as, say, iTunes -- then you will probably have to pay someone to do it, because the usual incentive for open source development -- freeing information for one and all -- is gone in this case.

I guess what really singes Prok's panties is the idea that this platform will get out there and be a defacto standard, and therefore there won't be a chance for a Linden kind of world to take hold. I think he has a point, and I worry about this too. But the problem isn't any different than it is for music and video; it is just plain true that someone sufficiently hackerly will always be able to steal digital content. The key to a workable economy is to make it socially unacceptable to steal. This has happened to a large degree with software (what's the last software app you installed with old-school dongle protection?) and it is starting to happen with music and video. Note that in all three cases, DRM was necessary to get the ball rolling; eventually, it becomes feasible to remove it in some cases, when the economy is full developed enough and, let's face it, there is enough disincentive in the form of take-downs, lawsuits etc (remember the BSA? I do.) Watermarking and signing are part of this too; in some cases, it is actually difficult to know if what you buy is legal, and this of course encourages piracy.


Prok's anger at Adam and opensim is sort of analogous to the RIAA and MPAA's hatred and vitriol against Napster, Kazaa, and bittorrent. Those three all claimed that they were just making technology, and the content people counterclaimed that they had a secret agenda of making music/movies free. The content people were right, IMSHO.

What I often say to "I have a right to all content for free" folks is, if you don't like the deal your favorite band made with a music label, listen to another band. They all sound like crap to me anyway, so what's the difference? Isn't there a single annoying gen-Y whining band that had the balls to release their music as creative commons, proving that they don't secretly lust after Metallica-size success while claiming they do it all for the love of art? Puhleeze.

BTW I'm available for work if anyone is willing to put their money where their blog posts are on this score.

-danx0r (find me occasionally on freenode #opensim-dev)

Gareth Nelson

"But here's the crux: OS folks work on OS pretty much for free, and gift their work to the world, in accordance with their own principles."

Personally, I believe any economic system BUT capitalism is evil and consider vendor lockin to be anti-capitalist. The view that free software is anti-capitalist is what creates so much tension on both sides of the debate.

"You get what you pay for, and with open source, you will generally get a product that incorporates an ideology of creative commons, anti-DRM, info wants to be free, capitalism is evil, etc and so forth."

So you've never done paid work for someone and licensed it to them under a free license? Or paid someone else to do so for you?

I have :)

As a developer you can sometimes make more money doing this if you listen to your client's needs and as a client you can pay for a piece of software that both respects your freedoms and is designed how you want without locking you into one vendor.

"What I often say to "I have a right to all content for free" folks is, if you don't like the deal your favorite band made with a music label, listen to another band"

There is of course a difference between "I have a right to all content for free" and "I have the ethical right to share that content". About 80% of my music collection comes from physical media, the remaining comes from a mix of freely redistributable content and illegally duplicated content. Of the content that was illegally distributed, some of it was my first taste of a new genre or a new artist which I would not otherwise have been exposed to.

I now own a lot of actual CDs from those artists whose work I enjoyed and scrapped the work that I did not enjoy. I've also used some material that is in a grey area legally to learn how to play the guitar. Guitar tabs are actually covered by the copyright of the composition they represent and thus all guitar tabs you find online which aren't licensed (this means probably 99%) are technically illegal. The crazy part though, is that it is fair use to learn single classic riffs (such as Jimi Hendrix's voodoo chile for example) and perform them - even in public with a paying audience in some cases. (Yes, i've looked into this - it goes for living artists too, not just now deceased greats like hendrix) And of course, you can use the techniques you learn from playing these classic works to improve your own playing and composition.

However....

While in music it's common practice to recycle portions of classic works and re-arrange them, in software it's seen as something vastly more serious to recycle portions of code originated elsewhere. Even if you give full credit to the original author, in some cases mere concepts are enough to get you in trouble (especially in the US, where software patents are enforcable and every program you write beyond a certain size inevitably infringes on a few).

Copyright law as-is now holds back rather than encourages innovation in certain cases - software being a big one. As someone with a lifelong passion for computing this pisses me off.

If you love capitalism, then i don't see how you could support what amounts to a government-enforced monopoly as enforced by over-arching copyright laws. Artists have the right to be compensated for their work and to be given credit where due, but they do not have the right to say "you may not do X, Y and Z with your own property".

Deprive someone of credit for their work, or literally steal it (by shoplifting a CD, as the piracy warnings often compare copyright infringement to) and you have deprived them of something very real, and in many cases very precious. But if you have already obtained a creative work via legit means and copy the work without depriving the creator then this is in no way comparable to actual theft.

" Isn't there a single annoying gen-Y whining band that had the balls to release their music as creative commons, proving that they don't secretly lust after Metallica-size success while claiming they do it all for the love of art? Puhleeze."

Not got the same level of success, but a whole load of talented musicians on soundclick.com for a start.

danx0r

G:
>But if you have already obtained a creative work via legit means and copy the work without depriving the creator then this is in no way comparable to actual theft.

I agree, but the problem is one of enforcement. What Prok is asking for is a system that allows him to make a decision to sell locked-down content. If people are willing to buy it on those terms, that's the free market at work.

What I don't understand is the vitriol against DRM as one option in the marketplace. Sure it's possible to circumvent it; sure it's annoying to owners. But as a libertarian, I say let the market decide. If the customers hate it, they'll pressure content creators to stop using it. A good watermarking and credit system, along with most grid providers agreeing to do a *wee bit* of police work, would go a long way to making this possible.

Market forces eventually forced software providers to stop using copy-protection; market forces are now putting pressure on music companies to provide unencumbered downloads. Part of the pressure comes from the fact that it's trivial to rip a CD to a non-DRM'd MP3. The reason labels are willing to think about it is that the take-downs and lawsuits have had an effect on people's habits and attitudes, like it or not.

It's silly comments like the one I quote below that make Prok and some other content creators so edgy:

"In OpenSim, by default, no copy protection will exist at all. “You cannot know what a foreign piece of software will do with a piece of digital content once it receives it,” Levine said. To insert a digital rights management tool into OpenSim is to invite criminal hackers to find ways to circumvent it and undermine the credibility of the software, he argued."

What kind of inanity is that? We discourage implementation of DRM because somebody will be tempted to hack it? That's like saying we won't lock our doors because we don't want to taunt burglars. Is that logical?

At the risk of repeating myself: if you don't like DRM, don't buy content sold that way. If you do buy it, you are entering into a contract to abide by those rules, including not copying it by circumventing the protection. No one put a gun to your head and said you had to download that song, movie, or virtual pair of shoes.

-danx0r

Prokofy Neva

danxOr, you need a recognizable first and last SL name, RL name or bloggers' name to post here.

I'm glad you're able to speak with less extremism about copyright, and support the point that a true free market has to support varieties of permissions and regimes to protect them or it's not free. This browbeating of people who chose to "lock down content" (a perjorative term that merely means "chose to preserve value by protecting their IP") is really out of place.

But you then wind up being as extremist only via another route, not by socialism, but hope for capitalism to be as anarchic and rapacious as possible, in the usual sort of Randian/Friedmanite manner:

"Market forces eventually forced software providers to stop using copy-protection; market forces are now putting pressure on music companies to provide unencumbered downloads. Part of the pressure comes from the fact that it's trivial to rip a CD to a non-DRM'd MP3."

Well, no, not market forces, hackers forced this, and companies didn't make it easy to buy online at first precisely because of the threat of hacking, and that may have prevented them from establishing a culture of buying on line even in the face of hacking.

But I don't see that we have to accept this "market pressure" working to force the hand in one area as a given everywhere, and in virtual worlds, that have a more complex and more diverse and granular aspect to them then a flat transaction merely downloading a song.

In fact, Apple still keeps a lot of what they sell wrapped in DRM. There's this sort of urban legend that hackers keep telling everyone that "all" content on line is now copyable without paying and therefore it is "futile". But...that's not the case. And they also still continue to sell one by one CDs which are individual copies, even though of course they, took, can be copied.

There's also this fiction that people are outraged because they can't listen to songs on their particular player not adapted to the particular encryption, and are driven to ipod or whatever, but...that's fake, as so many people in fact have ipods, and this is a fake cover story: they are outraged because they can't copy bunches of songs without paying and load them up on either ipods or mp3 players.

I find an enormous amoung of subterfuge and lying around this issue, where the story is not reported accurately, and where these fake outraged mobs are invoked as if they can't play something they buy. That's not what it's about, as anybody who has a teenager downloading from Limewire can tell you.

The failures of the music industry -- and the real loss will be the lack of the ability to generate revenue to sustain the promotion of bands -- is not necessarily the fate of all digital content. I'm simply not prepared to make these false, lockstep analogies for content inside social worlds with a very different kind of face to face and immersive experience and a need for a far greater variety of content and a need to have individuals, as well as companies, protect IP and make a living online.

It is not a formula that is just about the consumer and his supposed need to play his content -- in a virtual world, he doesn't need to have DRM ripped to play h is content on his i-pod, he plays it upon purchase, with its rights intact, so that is the very first place your analogy utterly breaks down.

Sure, it can be hacked, but then that's hacking, and most people don't attempt to hack around the current good-enough physical obstacle to copying installed with Linden permissions.

So then the next issue becomes: can he resell his content? Only if he foregoes the right to copy it, too. That means he loses the right to make back-up copies forever in lieu of the right of resale.

But the creator is the other actor in this formula that even haters of companies, or, by contrast, inciters of anarcho-capitalism, have to concede as a very different kind of actor than a big record company or the RIAA. Why can't that person be paid for their work! They can't endlessly hope to have concerts or swag or customized jingles for ads to sustain them like musicians are supposed to (and obviously that is eroding too).

As I've already noted over and over again in these pieces, the market of creators IS responding. They are taking their world generation to walled gardens or proprietary licensing like Webflock. They are making flash worlds. Or keeping worlds like There.com very much under control. They are taking themselves to companies that can maintain stables and protect their IP for them with covering lawyers' fees. That makes the world more consumerist, more conformist, less diverse and rich -- the very features we were supposed to get with all this "information wants to be free" hackery bullshit.

And the other thing we will see is worlds where they do make the DRM wrappers stick and not whine about it like the Linden coders and their pets do, and creators will flock to them as will customers when they see that an economy that has a really robust and protected sector is able to flourish without crime.

Gareth Nelson

"What kind of inanity is that? We discourage implementation of DRM because somebody will be tempted to hack it? That's like saying we won't lock our doors because we don't want to taunt burglars. Is that logical?"

I'd argue it's more akin to "we won't protect our homes by putting up huge 'don't rub us' signs" in terms of technical ability to enforce DRM measures.

"At the risk of repeating myself: if you don't like DRM, don't buy content sold that way. If you do buy it, you are entering into a contract to abide by those rules, including not copying it by circumventing the protection. No one put a gun to your head and said you had to download that song, movie, or virtual pair of shoes."

One can of course disagree with the law while still abiding by it. The general implied contract when purchasing something is that you will give the seller X amount of money and they will provide you with the product. In a lot of cases the DRM measures are not notified to you up-front, or are excessive and (outside the US at least) restrict fair use.

For myself, I do try and avoid DRMed content when possible, and of the small amount of actual illegal content I have (music and software) i've "cleaned up" much of it by either disposing of it or purchasing legit copies. When I was younger I had a period where I used to hijack phone exchanges and make international calls too. Both these things are highly illegal, and I regret both. However, I have much greater regret for the cases where I actually cost someone real money by abusing their network.

As for DRM being just another option in the market place: it both is and isn't. It is in that for a lot of content we can always say "I do not want to purchase this", but isn't in cases such as DVD region locking or where you are forced into using software which enforces it.

One example that comes to mind is the local educational authority here. My stepdaughter came home one day with a letter about a new scheme which, suffice to say, was very dodgy. (If you're curious, then just think: "they teach anorexia in school now?") The letter didn't give much more info on the scheme other than a URL, so I entered that URL and found that they offered the "parent's guide" in the form of a windows executable with an embedded document that went so far as to try and prevent ctrl+c. Upon complaining about this and asking for a non-restricted copy of the document or a hardcopy I was told that quite simply they don't offer that and i'd have to go out and buy a copy of windows (it didn't run under wine). Eventually I gave up on chasing this one down and myself and my stepdaughter and wife both had a laugh at this bizarre pro-anorexia scheme.

While the above example is a very very obvious case of government interference ("you MUST go and purchase this product to read what should be a matter of public record"), there's other examples such as the DMCA anti-circumvention clauses being applied to products developed with no intention of infringing. In these cases, you are told simply "you MUST buy product X, you can not build your own product instead".

Gareth Nelson

'don't rub us' should be 'don't rob us', it's 5am, forgive me.

danx0r

Prok:

Between copyleft free-the-bits folks, and libertarian "anarcho-capitalists", I'm afraid you've tagged 99.9% of all the opensource software developers alive. So you're kind of stuck. The world is what it is, and will develop how it develops, whether you like it or not. Best to be less of a whiner, and figure out how you're going to thrive in this new world for better or worse.

"And the other thing we will see is worlds where they do make the DRM wrappers stick and not whine about it like the Linden coders and their pets do, and creators will flock to them as will customers when they see that an economy that has a really robust and protected sector is able to flourish without crime."

Exactly -- as I said: let the market decide. Just realize that there will also be this ever-widening open-source-based metaverse, and your walled gardens are going to start looking mighty restrictive and puny and unconnected, as did Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL before they did or didn't get with the internets program.

Gareth:

"As for DRM being just another option in the market place: it both is and isn't. It is in that for a lot of content we can always say "I do not want to purchase this", but isn't in cases such as DVD region locking or where you are forced into using software which enforces it."
[sad example of stupid school admins forcing Windows...]

Extreme examples don't make the general case. I think I'm fairly typical: I pay gobs of bucks for crappy cable with locked-down DVR. When I miss a show (that I paid for), I gladly bittorrent it down and watch it at my leisure. If a show isn't on my cable roster, I first check Itunes (mostly because it's damn fast); if that fails, I bittorrent it. Maybe I'm breaking the law but frankly I don't feel bad because I am paying tons of money for content, and in general I'm getting soaked for crappy stuff way more than I am stealing lunch money from starving artists.

-danx0r (one name, like Sting, Prince, Sade...)

Prokofy Neva

No, you don't get to post here danx0r with "one name". You have to post with a recognizable first and last name from SL, RL, or a blog.

I don't see that the open source movement is viable. It does not generate revenue, it fails, over and over again, divisive, infighting, forking, inefficient, amateurish. I look on all the desks in offices and homes and I don't see Linux, which is a cult, I see Windows.

I'm not "whining" about the flaws of open source, I'm reporting on what is obvious and logical if you aren't one of these cultists yourself.

In the virtual world sector, the overwhelming majority of worlds are proprietary walled gardens, which gives them their being, and I don't see that changing just because some cultists wish it and insolently imagine it.

AOL didn't go anywhere.

Say, I hate people who call the Internet "the Internets," don't you? It's so juvenile and pretentious. Say, the Internet may be a series of tubes, but they add up to one united thing, that you can go from page to page in a coherent system, eh?

Bitorrent kiddies like danx0r are what cause net congestion.

Gareth Nelson

"I don't see that the open source movement is viable. It does not generate revenue"
1 - Sometimes people practice the art of programming for love, not money, some open source projects are like punk rock bands more than professional opera composers
2 - It does generate revenue, just not through sale of software licenses

"it fails, over and over again, divisive, infighting,"
Infighting and arguments happen everywhere

"forking"
Forking helps advance the technology if the fork is good. If the fork isn't good, it doesn't affect the main project at all.

"inefficient, amateurish"
ftp://ftp.cs.wisc.edu/pub/paradyn/technical_papers/fuzz-revisited.ps
http://www.openbsd.org/security.html
http://customers.press.redhat.com/2008/05/12/nyse/?intcmp=70160000000HQob
"With continued growth, new development, and ongoing conversion activities, NYSE Euronext will add several hundred more subscriptions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the coming 18 months. In addition, Red Hat solutions are slated to play a pivotal role in NYSE Euronext’s next-generation trading platform, the Universal Trading Platform. Currently, the first phase of the project is planned for completion by the end of 2008."

"I look on all the desks in offices and homes and I don't see Linux, which is a cult, I see Windows."

Look in the average data center or lab. I also wonder how you can call an OS a cult.

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