Sunday, August 26, 2007

Episode 3 - Did Medieval Scribes Have to Deal With Analogue Rights Management?

We have had a bit of an absence, but are now back better than ever. OK, that may be a cliche, but we are back nonetheless.

TC Episode 3 is devoted to DRM, digital rights management. You know DRM, the stuff that stops you from doing what you want with stuff that you actually own. We both come down on the anti piracy side of things, but we also are opposed to DRM. It breaks stuff, and it simply does not work, everything is crackable.

We talked some about historical stuff and ideas about copyright. It seems this is a rather old concept, much to Dave's surprise, if not to Ken's.

Probably the best known sci fi book with copies and copying as a theme is The Man in the High Castle. We both love that book, and both hope to hell that Hollywood does not make a movie out of it (or a movie out of a Canticle For Leibowitz, but that is another matter....)

Enjoy.

Direct Episode Download.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good Pod Cast, love all the thinderbid 6 Stuff

Dave Brodbeck said...

Glad you like it anonymous.

Rachel said...

This was a really interesting discussion. DRM does raise copyright-type questions. Despite the fact that many people think that writing a book is pretty easy, once the writer has an idea (of course, it's ideas that are easy, and writing that is hard, even for those who write pretty fluidly, since it involves actually thinking, and then thinking some more, and so on), I have absolutely no argument with the concept that those who put labor into writing a book, or a song (or performing a song, etc.) deserve to be paid by all those who want to enjoy the result of their hard work. But the protection is not an on/off thing, it's a continuum, and that makes it tricky. How much protection? For how long? And what rights accrue to the purchaser--and for how long, that's an interesting question. For example, if, like me, you purchased acid-full books in the past, when the book disintegrated were you entitled to a free new copy? (Or for those of us who lost a tape cassette to warping or melting--we never argued we were entitled to a new cassette.) I never heard anyone argue that, in fact, they were, but most of us feel we are entitiled to unlimited backups on digital music. Hmmm.

Jewish law did deal with two related issues quite early on. Very early on (possibly as early as the third century), a lack of proper attribution was considered theft, while citing someone's work with proper attribution was considered a positive good. (Very academic, that is.) Discussion of the violation what we would consider standard copyright protections--printing and/or selling someone else's work--only arises in, I believe, the late 15th century, and that is not considered theft but trespass--also wrong, but differently wrong.

...Things that make me go hmmmmm....

Dave said...

Rachel, that is fascinating. Perhaps the MPAA and RIAA should read up on some Jewish law....

One of the many things we did not discuss was the notion of Creative Commons, I hope that it catches on more and more.

Rachel said...

Creative Commons is excellent for letting the producer of creative or intellectual property define what rights she or he wants and does not want to retain, so it's a good start. It seems to me, though, that DRM/copyrights/patents are really a case of two competing and conflicting sets of rights, and so much harder to settle satisfactorily. The best we can hope for is to leave both sides equally unhappy...the short definition of successful dipolomacy (if one is a pessimist!).

Rachel said...

Oh, and re: copying in scifi--Star Trek TOS: "I, Mudd!" Okay, not so much. More to the point, "What Are Little Girls Made Of"--or TNG's "The Schizoid Man". In any case--is it the same person if the mind is uploaded to an android? (As I thnk about it, Star Trek got into this question quite a bit, didn't it?)

Rachel said...

Hmmmm. Lots of sci-fi about cloning, too, which would seem to raise the ultimate copying rights questions!

Dave Brodbeck said...

I will go out on a lim and say that cloning will be just another reproductive choice (as in vitro is now) within 15 years.

Rachel said...

Ah, but who owns the genetic material? No one created their own genes, so does it really belong to the individual's parents? Or to the parents' parents? Do they belong to anyone? Unlike limbs and organs, the use of genetic material need cause no loss to the "donor"...It's complisticated.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Well I was thinking of it in the sam way IV is done. So you want a boy, you clone Dad, you want a girl, you clone Mom. Either way the embryo is implanted in the Mom. That said, in cases of say anonymous donors, like we have in when single women want kids, the thing you are talking about could arise. Then again, that does not arise much now from what I can gather.

Rachel said...

And I was thinking more of the use by scientists of genetic materials without specific approval by the individuals from whom it was taken (something already, apparently, going on!)--not necessarily for total human cloning, but in the direction of organ cloning and research, although I suppose it could go as far as reproductive-type cloning....

Dave Brodbeck said...

Yeah now that is a different matter indeed. A good question too, who owns the rights to the proper set of alleles to make an ear?

Rachel said...

What I think is outrageous is that labs have been taking out patents on genetic code. I mean, they found them, they didn't invent them, so how do they get a patent, that's not what patent law is about. And it means no one else can use them for research without permission and paying.

Dave Brodbeck said...

jefiYeah, this seems to me to be discovery, and a discovery, if I understand patent Law, cannot be patented. Like if Newton patented the second law, would we have to pay his estate if we dropped an object?

I think it can be a grey area though. Genetic code can be engineered. (Not saying I like it...) I wish Ken would jump in here, cuz what with his librarianism and all...

Dave Brodbeck said...

Ooops, mistakenly typed part of the Captcha in my message...

Rachel said...

Yeah, it would get tricky with genetic modifications--how much of a change is an innovation? But just reading the code--however difficult it may be, is discovery to me, even if not to the patent office. (Do the workers in the patent office even read those things or just issue patent numbers?)

Krash Coarse said...

Interesting topic! are you gonna delve into Creative Commons and its "Commie-pinko/hippie" leanings too?

I always link CC and the Internet Archive with the Encyclopaedia Galactica and Trantor University from the Asimov universe.

Krash Coarse said...

"link in my mind" is what I meant...
:)

Dave Brodbeck said...

Krash, CC is the way to go I think, especially for stuff like scholarly work. Indeed, as a published schientist I have always considered my stuff to be pretty much free to anyone. I can't speak for Ken, but I will... I think he is of the sam opinion.

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