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Pixelthief

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16th July, 2011 at 21:55:47 -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2011/jul/15/app-developers-withdraw-us-patents

So this might not be as big an issue to those back on the older side of the pond and around the world, but it will be. So Intellectual Property laws in the US here are quite flawed. Now theres nutters on both sides- those calling for complete abolishment of IP and patent and trademark and free exchange of information (and prompt collapse of capitalism), and those calling for DRM on everything and illegalization of everything from streaming (uh oh) to youtube (and the prompt collapse of democracy).

But let me posit this question. We know that the IP laws as they exist, are flawed. There are patent trolls stifling people left and right, yet also unprosecutable pirates and resellers- I'm sure I'm not the only one here who's had a game show up for sale on some CD package he's never heard about, no matter how minor they seem. So if I had to put it to a think tank, how would we reform Intellectual Property laws to be sane? Just how would someone go about rewriting laws, local and international, to make sense? One concept I've heard of is the application of "Adverse Possession" to IP laws, where rights-holders could lose their holdings from disuse (or never using), which to varying degrees could fight trolling and make IP public domain much sooner, and basically protect fair use and so on.

I'm also curious what everyones experiences have been with IP, besides the obvious "Anything you can find commercial on TDC can be found in 10 seconds on a piracy site". Like what steps have people used to hedge against it or campaign for it, or so on.


I have a feeling that this is something the indie community will end up playing at least some role in in the next decade, since things seem to be coming to a head and needing a change now more than ever and showing no signs of slowing down. Everyone from little 1-man indie developers to Google and Microsoft are being hit by patent trolls nonstop, and piracy runs rampant. So whether you support stronger IP laws or weakening them, its clear that they need to be fixed. So how would we go about doing that?

 
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17th July, 2011 at 04:01:28 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief

Now theres nutters on both sides- those calling for complete abolishment of IP and patent and trademark and free exchange of information (and prompt collapse of capitalism)



Collapse of capitalism? No, whoever manufactures the product cheapest gets to sell it. What it may stop is innovation, as companies would be less likely to spend the money to develop new products when another company can just copy them.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 12:50:24 -

I'm not sure it would stop innovation - but it might mean you have to pay more for the latest and greatest products, as the developer has to recoup their expenses more quickly (and there are always going to be people willing to pay to get the very best, however much it costs).

It's not just how cheaply you can manufacture something, but how well you can do it too - again, people are always willing to pay more for quality.

I imagine you'd see an even greater emphasis on marketing and brand image (like Apple, but even more so).

In the case of media, you might possibly see a rise in quality - with the artists not just "in it for the money", and with the public downloading everything but only paying if they feel what they downloaded was worth it.
Perhaps we'll see more big blockbuster movies that really need to be seen in a cinema to be appreciated, and more quality live music acts.
Or maybe movies will try and make their money in other ways - more product placement for example (even more than "I Robot"!).

In the end, the law will probably protect what can be protected, and ignore the rest (eg. pretty much anything that can be digitized and put on the internet).

 
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Pixelthief

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17th July, 2011 at 13:28:22 -

If you removed all intellectual property laws, Branding would no longer be possible either. If Apple products sell well, I'll just label all my products exactly the same as Apple does. And when Branding fails, how do you market? There is really a movement out there that supports the total abolishment of IP laws without thinking of the consequences, and I think that even a small thought towards that shows that simply doesn't work. Like you say, what happens to innovation? No company has the impetus to develop new technologies, since their competitors can reproduce them and they'll never recoup the cost of R&D. And when innovation is dead, capitalism is unsustainable.

Now thats a doomsday scenario for an apocalyptically one-sided reform of IP laws that won't happen. But I think that the laws are terribly flawed over here and need to be changed, oft in the lighter way. But I have to recognize their necessity too. I mean, how would we develop new drugs, cures, plant cultivars, software, technology in general, without IP protections to make them profitable? Not without a total radical shift to socialism where the government pays for all research and employs the entire IT sector

But I realize, its easy to say that IP laws are flawed, and hard to say to simply abolish them. So how the heck do you fix them?

 
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17th July, 2011 at 15:52:26 -

Ok, one could probably come up with a system to prove the "validity" of a branded product. For example.

- Each product comes with a unique ID with accompanying signature (of the manufacturer, who better not reuse the same nonce a la Sony)
- The manufacturer sells to the distributor, the manufacturer signs the combination of ID and distributor's public key with its private key
- The distributor now sells the product to the retailer, signing the previous transactions (ID, manufacturer and distributor's public keys) along with the retailer's public key with their private key.
- Now, the retailer sells to the consumer, again signing the previous transactions as well as the consumer's key with their private key. The ID would also work as a form of receipt.
- Now, there are some problems here. One is that it only applies to the finished product (no way to verify the grain the bakery used to bake the bread) but the most major one is that the retailer could buy one genuine product and 1000 knock-offs, then copy the genuine ID when selling the knock-offs.
- To solve that, one would upon purchase sign and store the purchase data at an independent party. "You've already sold that, transaction failed" or something. Which leads to two more problems, first is privacy (John Smith just bought an inflatable sheep!) and even more importantly, who do you trust?

Now, I didn't say the system would be better than existing trademark law

 
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17th July, 2011 at 15:54:05 -

As I said, it's not possible to "fix" the laws pertaining to anything that can be shared digitally - due to the internet and the varying laws in different jurisdictions (eg. Canada, where P2P file sharing is/was legal), which make it pretty much impossible to prosecute anyone.
The best answer may be to de-criminalize file-sharing, but not legalize it (so it is not condoned).

I don't think many people are seriously suggesting the abolition of trademark protection laws. You could easily protect trademarks (eg. the name "iPhone") without protecting the actual technology used in the product. Other companies could attempt to clone the iPhone, but could not call their product an iPhone - that's more or less where we are already.
Obviously there is a need to prevent selling of counterfeit goods, and the existing laws already do that job just fine.

Again, don't assume that companies can't recoup R&D costs - it just means companies have to recoup their costs more quickly, before others catch up - which they can do by charging more. If your product is the best that money can buy, there will always be a market for it, no matter how much it costs.

Also, don't assume that all technology can be easily reproduced. If you take something like a modern Rolls-Royce jet engine, even if you removed the legal barriers to copying the design, there is no other company in the world capable of manufacturing one - and they can easily keep the manufacturing process secret with employee confidentiality contracts.
Here's what happened when the Russians tried to copy Concorde: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IstWYY644pg&feature=related

 
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17th July, 2011 at 16:29:45 -

I don't think "copyright through obfuscation" or "copyright through speed" are any bit valid rationales for advancing corporate interests, though. Think about it. If ideas cannot be copyrighted, then ideas cannot be subject to legally enforced non-disclosure agreements. A company could fire someone for leaking corporate secrets, but they could not prosecute them. If Ford wanted to copy the Rolls Royce new design, they could simply pay someone at Rolls Royce to give them the design documents. Pay them more than he'd ever earn, and its all done legally. Its not illegal, it wouldn't even be considered unethical considering the climate of IP, and he'd land himself a new job with a big bonus.

I don't think we can honestly expect companies to protect their R&D investments by trying to tuck them away or prevent leaks or assign brand names. Any other corporation can easily acquire their technology, and reproduce it. And when Ford & Rolls Royce sell the [b]exact[/b] same car, except one costs half the price of the other, I don't think a "Brand Name" is going to carry weight.

In the current system its very simple. Those secrets are legally protected, and those who leak them can be prosecuted in court. And even once leaked, anyone who is reproducing that technology is violating IP laws and you can issue an injunction that stops their sales, reclaims damages, etc. People can't just freely share business secrets and technology designs and reproduce them. But when you eliminate all the legal barriers to that, puny hurdles we throw in the way can't protect them.


How will a pharmaceutical company justify spending a billion dollars on developing a new miracle cure, if they know that their competitors can freely reproduce it the second its tested by the F.D.A? Or will we eliminate the FDA to preserve trade secrets? Theres a need for regulation, and I think identifying that as a fact and building upon it is necessary in any conversation about the future of I.P.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 17:08:57 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief
Think about it. If ideas cannot be copyrighted, then ideas cannot be subject to legally enforced non-disclosure agreements. A company could fire someone for leaking corporate secrets, but they could not prosecute them. If Ford wanted to copy the Rolls Royce new design, they could simply pay someone at Rolls Royce to give them the design documents. Pay them more than he'd ever earn, and its all done legally. Its not illegal, it wouldn't even be considered unethical considering the climate of IP, and he'd land himself a new job with a big bonus.


Sorry, but that's just plain wrong. Whether or not the idea itself is copyrighted is totally irrelevant. Even without the NDA, leaking the design documents would still lead to criminal charges of theft/bribery/etc.

And again, no other company has the facilities/experience/organization/highly-skilled employees/etc needed to manufacture the engine, or the strong brand reputation to allow them to sell the engine - and these can't simply be bought (or at the very least, would cost so much that you'd be better of just buying the company in the first place).

And yes, of course brand name carries that much weight. Again, just look at any product made by Apple.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 17:15:26 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief

How will a pharmaceutical company justify spending a billion dollars on developing a new miracle cure, if they know that their competitors can freely reproduce it the second its tested by the F.D.A?



Bounties? Public funding?

 
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17th July, 2011 at 17:26:46 -

Theft of what? Bribery for the gain of what?
See, the thing here is you're picking and choosing which IP laws you want to exist, and which to remove.
Theft of corporate intellectual property should be a crime between corporations, yet sharing of it publicly is not?

How do we protect one sort of right yet abolish another?
Its very clear that trying to say "lets abolish all IP laws" is surgery with a hacksaw rather than scalpel.



Hardware and software are far removed- and it extends beyond that. Apple may sell a brand, based mostly off proprietary software that would no longer be such with IP abolishment, but it would chiefly have its name attached to physical devices. What then, of drug companies trying to develop cures? Will we still have brand name cystic fibrosis cures, when the non-brand names are exactly the same drug? So if we're drawing a line in the sand about what is protected and what is not, thats all well and good- thats IP reform. But where do we make that distinction?




Brand names work because they are attached to intellectual property. Indeed, they *are* intellectual property. When you buy a Ford product, you know you're getting a truck designed by Ford engineers, with Ford-only features. Other products may be similar, but they cannot reproduce an Explorer for example. When you remove all distinction from the products, the brands fail to carry weight. Do you advertise for your Ford truck when the only difference between it and the competition is the trademarked logo and the (higher) price tag? You're just as well advertising for your opponents as well.

If we only allowed Trademarks and removed all other IP laws, then what you'd end up with is an economy of Giffen Goods only being profitable for development. Sure, designer clothes may be unaffected, but the core staples that make our society function would be ruined. People would still design new Levy Jeans, but who is going to program the code for the new database software to run a server? Who is developing cures and antibiotics and new crop cultivars? Manufacturing is one thing, development is another. We can't turn a new kind of genetically engineered salmon into a Giffen Good, can we? I suppose we could try, as a novelty product, but how far does that go towards solving world hunger?


Originally Posted by Phredreeke

Originally Posted by Pixelthief

How will a pharmaceutical company justify spending a billion dollars on developing a new miracle cure, if they know that their competitors can freely reproduce it the second its tested by the F.D.A?



Bounties? Public funding?



Well thats the thing. Who is providing these bounties or public funding?
Do the corporations or governments come together to provide an impetus for new research? Does the government employ the millions of scientists from the IT field now? If so, they'd need to vastly increase taxes. And in short order, our new communist overlords would have us working on public farms and living in gulags, if you see where thats heading

Its not to say it wouldn't work in the grand scheme of things, but thats socialism, and we're capitalist.
Now a socialist society might be possible, but we can't frame the reform of IP laws in a different form of economy any more than we could in a world where 20 ft tall mushrooms are used as houses and sorcerers reign from dark brooding towers.



I think the IP system right now is massively flawed and I'd love to see it overhauled, but I'm not as far as 'kill it entirely'. I've studied it too much to be naive about the consequences. I think a better solution is to modify the existing IP laws and revamp them, modifying them to address abuses as they crop up. A fluid system of law. If people are going to patent troll or use chilling effects, we can put in laws to stop patent trolling and protect little people.

Edited by Pixelthief

 
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17th July, 2011 at 18:32:42 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief
Theft of what? Bribery for the gain of what



A hard-drive, or paper documents, or whatever else - however they obtain the documents they're going to breaking one law or another.

It's already the case (and has been for a while) that totally legal, generic copies of most drugs are more cheaply available than the brand names, and yet the big drug companies are doing just fine. Don't worry about them.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 18:44:19 -

Can't they just make a copy of the documents? Why not? Its a matter of intellectual property. If they're violating the corporations intellectual property rights, sure, its illegal. But if we remove IP laws, they have no IP rights, so how can that be illegal?

But those generic legal copies of drugs are not of drugs that are researched. You can produce the same old drugs, yes, but you cannot innovate. And that is the issue with IP regulations. In the USA, drug patents get twenty years of protection before generics are allowed. Thats why you corporations have incentive to research new ones.


Yeah, if we remove all IP laws, it will bring down the price of existing technologies. We can produce more of the same drugs, more of the same music, more of the same movies, more of the same games. But what incentive is there to produce new ones? Manufacturers might have it easier, but where is the development going to occur?

 
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17th July, 2011 at 19:14:39 -

There will always be money in innovation, provided you have the right business model. What that business model looks like might not be obvious to you or I, but someone will figure it out, and whoever does will make a shedload of money - you can be sure of that.
That's pretty much the way capitalism works.

You might see a situation where governments incentivize the development of new drugs by funding R&D and/or offering exclusivity (essentially the same as enforcing the 20 year patents). In the UK for example, we could easily restrict which drugs are available through the NHS (maybe you'll get your own NHS someday, if you can silence all the right-wing idiots). Bear in mind that in the western world, we'd consider it a moral obligation of our government to fund the development of new drugs, in the same way that we feel obliged to remove evil dictators in far away corners of the globe, etc.
Meanwhile, those in the developing world get access to cheap copies of drugs that they otherwise couldn't afford - surely a good thing?

 
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17th July, 2011 at 19:34:08 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief


Originally Posted by Phredreeke

Originally Posted by Pixelthief

How will a pharmaceutical company justify spending a billion dollars on developing a new miracle cure, if they know that their competitors can freely reproduce it the second its tested by the F.D.A?



Bounties? Public funding?



Well thats the thing. Who is providing these bounties or public funding?
Do the corporations or governments come together to provide an impetus for new research? Does the government employ the millions of scientists from the IT field now? If so, they'd need to vastly increase taxes. And in short order, our new communist overlords would have us working on public farms and living in gulags, if you see where thats heading



Governments, charities, corporations. Whoever has an interest in it, be it for humanitarian or financial reasons (a headstart in the market)

For example it would be the government/insurance companies interests to keep people out of hospital and in working condition.

I'm not saying it's a better alternative, I'm just saying that in a world without IP laws it's an alternative.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 21:59:29 -

But isn't giving exclusive rights to certain ideas just the same thing as patents? Just arbitrarily decided these folks can have a patent, these folks cannot. So who gets patents and copyright, and who doesn't? Do drug companies get them because they are life saving cures being developed? Well even in that, distinctions are arbitrary. You might be inclined to make a cure for cystic fibrosis patentable because that encourages its development, but do you do the same for a cure for erectile disfunction? Thats not life threatening. But where is quality of life drawn? How about a medication that doesn't solve a condition like cancer, but instead removes adverse side effects- a pain medication. Its not life threatening, it just improves quality of life. Doesn't Viagra do the same thing? Doesn't music, games, movies do the same thing?

Its a slippery slope. And its not easily overcome. We can't say "we'll abolish all IP laws" and then create new laws that do the exact same things, like "drug exclusivity". Its like politicians trying to pass off taxes as fees, a degree of semantic quibbling where ideology fails. Yeah, I wish we had our own NHS, and I wish we had a socialist society where everything worked out and material want was eliminated, heck I wish we had infinite food and land and companionship and time- but we don't.

And thats where such idealism becomes impractical. If we simply abolished IP laws and waited for someone to "invent" a new way to market goods and foster innovation, a way which neither you nor I nor anyone else today has foreseen, we would never actually reach that point. Instead what we'd get is an economic collapse that leads to a national, maybe global collapse. All the IT workers would become unemployed. No more software, drugs, medicine, music, TV, movies, whatever, it quickly becomes unprofitable. On 9/11, a plane took out a tiny fraction of a nations economy- 3000 people out of hundreds of millions, yet it gave huge shockwaves that totally disrupted economic growth and send us spiraling downwards into a recession. It wasn't the sole reason- housing bubble, auto market, etc, but it was a reminder of how fragile an economy really is. Now imagine unemploying people by the thousandfold, by the ten-thousandfold compared to that- the economy is a living thing, and living things can grow, but they can die. And it would die hard.

So don't get me wrong. If there was some grand idea that bridged a way to make it profitable or otherwise give impetus to research new technologies and innovate and write new software and find new drugs, well heck, then I'd stand behind that as a viable alternative to I.P. laws. But thats why I ask, because nobody really knows how to do that. And forcing an economy to discover that by making it do-or-die and letting hordes of people starve to death, I don't think thats the right way to go about it.



So if governments, charities & corporations could pool together to develop new technologies, we'd realistically have to take our pick between a socialism, or a monopolistic corporate world. If the corporations are all pooling together instead of competing, you wind up with cartels, which leads to the opposite of what you desired. If the government is paying for everything, you wind up in a socialist society and capitalism dies. Intrinsically, thats not a bad thing, but its the most far left unsellable idea. Socialism can't be on the table.



I think IP laws simply need to be rewritten to make sense. They worked decently in the pre-digital age, but now in the age of the internet they rapidly find themselves outdated and inexplicable. Take for example, "illegal numbers". How is it that the sharing of a specific number can be illegal? When Sony creates a key for the PS3, then is that key itself constitute intellectual property? Is it illegal for people to share that key? Its just a number, maybe 20 digits or so, and using it can break through their encryption. Using the device as you want is fair use once you own it, yet possessing a specific number is illegal? Thats lunacy, right?

But what about if I took windows 7, compiled it all to bytecode, and took that 8.5 billion digit long string of hex characters and reproduced it. That too, is a number. Yet sharing it seems explicitly unethical and intrinsically illegal- its pure piracy, right? But pragmatically, what is the distinction between a 20 digit number and an 8.5 billion digit number?

I think IP laws need to be brought up to date with a few tools. One would be a level of "Discretionary Complexity". That is, courts would be given the power to use their discretion to evaluate a level of complexity of intellectual property on its own merits for copyright issues. You couldn't copyright "1+1=2", but you could copyright 200 KLOC of basic mathematics that forms a program. Right now, under current IP laws, you cannot copyright "1+1=2" because it is a formula, but you can copyright "1+1=2;", which I find very ironic. It won't be long before someone copyrights Hello World in C++. Imagine a court being able to decide what falls under intellectual property as it comes to them, rather than being stifled by arcane laws. So they could rule that Music, Games, TV, Movies are protected, but 2 notes played on a piano are not. Those precedents could then stop people from bogging down the system.

Theres other things I simply don't know how to fix. Patent trolling is tough. Chilling effects is tough. Piracy is tough.



I think IP laws need to be rewritten badly, but the same folks who should be advocating for the little people and trying to proactively campaign for intellectual property rights and fair use are the stuck arguing from an indefensible "abolish all IP" vantage that is doing them a disservice. Like the Pirate Party in sweden. Yeah, we need to rewrite IP laws because they are flawed on both sides, for human interests and corporate interests, but when it comes time and they are rewritten, will the corporations get their way only, because the left was stuck advocating an anarchist position that begs no compromise?

Well I'm not looking forward to streaming being a felony, so I think the time for reform is coming very quickly. I'd guess within the next 5 years TBH, that we'd start to see people get serious about rewriting IP laws. Right now its just a bizarre warfield with the RIAA suing dead grandmothers and pirates destroying the entire PC gaming industry and both sides pointing fingers.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 22:22:38 -

You're criticizing something for being arbitrary, yet you want "discretionary complexity"?
I'm not going to bother arguing with you any more, because you obviously have your opinions and you're not going to be swayed by anyone else, which is fair enough.

 
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17th July, 2011 at 23:55:39 -

I'm not looking to change my opinions, at least not to something unreasonable. I'm looking to constructively try to come up with ways to reform IP. Its like asking "how do we make daily click better" and the only response you get is "shut it down". Well sure there might be a legitimate argument there, but it isn't really applicable.

I'm not criticizing the idea of allowing IP laws for some things and not for other things as being arbitrary. Its not the arbitraritry of it that I'm disagreeing with. After all, any utilitarian law system is going to wind up seeming very arbitrary if you don't go into depth about the distinctions. The laws we have now for IP are *very* arbitrary. Rather, its the contradictory nature of the argument I disagree with. Its the thought of "Lets abolish all intellectual property" coupled with "well lets allow intellectual property for this and that, but not those and these". Then the line in the sand becomes murky, and you can argue out the distinctions until you wind up exactly where we are- with IP laws for "this and that", works of art, expression, etc, but not "these and those", ideas, processes, algorithms.

Heck, I support having less restrictions overall, which seems like a similar view, but I'm just saying that the groundwork of "abolishing all IP laws" is flawed. It needs to be reform, not removal. And where you draw those "arbitrary" distinctions is exactly the question- how do we allow IP for what and what not. I think a lot of people that read my views assume I'm for bigger IP laws and regulations, but I'm quite to the opposite- I just support a realist view of reform, not starry eyed idealism of complete freedom of information. I appreciate the view, but I don't find it constructive

Its still always worth hearing other peoples viewpoints if I don't agree with them, however. No better way to form those opinions, even if it doesn't happen overnight

 
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18th July, 2011 at 00:02:29 -


Originally Posted by Pixelthief
I think IP laws need to be rewritten badly, but the same folks who should be advocating for the little people and trying to proactively campaign for intellectual property rights and fair use are the stuck arguing from an indefensible "abolish all IP" vantage that is doing them a disservice. Like the Pirate Party in sweden.



Except they don't... Unfortunately their homepage is only in swedish, but I'll try to sum it up very briefly.

-They want to legalize filesharing. Copying should be legal as long as it's not for profit.
-Free sampling. Make it easier to reuse and rework parts of existing works.
-Shorter commercial copyright. They suggest 5 years.
-Ban DRM.
-Abolish "kassettavgiften", a fee on blank media that is paid to copyright holders.

 
- Ok, you must admit that was the most creative cussing this site have ever seen -

Make some more box arts damnit!
http://create-games.com/forum_post.asp?id=285363

Jacob!



Registered
  17/06/2011
Points
  153
19th July, 2011 at 07:52:27 -

The Pirate Party of Canada supports the same thing as the Pirate Party of Sweden, it seems

 
Have you even been far as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Jacob!



Registered
  17/06/2011
Points
  153
19th July, 2011 at 19:59:15 -

The Pirate Party of Canada supports the same thing as the Pirate Party of Sweden, it seems

 
Have you even been far as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Phredreeke

Don't listen to this idiot

Registered
  03/08/2002
Points
  4504

You've Been Circy'd!VIP MemberPS3 Owner
19th July, 2011 at 20:47:41 -

Those double post are over 12 hours apart it seems

 
- Ok, you must admit that was the most creative cussing this site have ever seen -

Make some more box arts damnit!
http://create-games.com/forum_post.asp?id=285363

Jenswa

Possibly Insane

Registered
  26/08/2002
Points
  2722
20th July, 2011 at 11:39:24 -

Interesting topic.

How about we draw in the food industries? They have branding, but everyone can copy their food product, but just sell it under a different branding. So the names aren't the same, nor is the packaging and all other things related to the branding of that food product.

Different brand with the same kind of cheap or expensive food product. How come that is possible with food?

Very simple it is because food is not a luxurious product. But it gives a good example of what would be possible, cutting costs (for consumers) while keeping the branding.

You know that without copyright there also wouldn't be copyleft? So all GPL stuff would still be there, but the GPL can't force the openness anymore. It would be kind of like the BSD license.

However is intellectual property the same as patents? Because that patent system (including software patents) is flawed in all kind of ways or maybe just one: do a decent background check before granting out the patent to the company.

Maths is probably another good example of property which belongs to everyone. Pythagoras his famous theorem can be used by anyone who needs it and at absolutely no cost, wow, how is that possible .... (the wanderer asked rhetorically)

Time to move on towards physics, can the seem be said of it?

 
Image jenswa.neocities.org
   

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