John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 153: The Ghost Of Jimmy Saville Up Your Bum

by on Feb.05, 2014, under Rum Doings

In our 153rd ever Rum Doings, our topic is how they should concrete over the rivers to prevent flooding.

This episode is pretty much one topic: copyright and the public domain. But somehow we still manage to be offensive throughout. This is inspired by an article John wrote on games entering the public domain, and the RAGE AND FURY that ensued. We also celebrate one of the best people ever, Lord Camden.

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14 Comments for this entry

  • Jens

    Hey, super interesting podcast. It’s interesting how these kinds of issues have been already argued out by intelligent and eloquent people several hundred years ago.

  • Evert

    I thought it was a very good article (and an interesting podcast to boot) John. I am instinctively on your side on this – though we might quibble on details.

    That aside, the most galling aspect of the responses to me was the fact that we need to argue for a strong public domain *from first principles*. Which is just weird and quite distressing. It seems that barbarians are not just at the gates but have well and truly stormed the city and set up shop. (Terrible metaphors not withstanding).

    It bares repeating – a strong public domain represents the fact that nothing, no work of imagination comes ex nihilo from the brain of a creator. Yet we have been tricked into thinking that any work of imagination deserve perpetual ownership (eclipsing the ownership rights attached to actual, physical property).

    Anyway, I’ll stop here because I realise I am just restating things. But just wanted to register my approval and support of the public domain and of your stance.

  • Evert

    One more thing, I realise that my not be the most popular website round here. But this podcast (and the RPS article) reminded me of this crap that MPAA are trying:

    It is genuinely sinister, and the deliberate poisoning of school children is more than a little worring.

  • Xercies

    It is quite worrying and exhausting trying to argue because it definitely seems to be entrenched in the mindset of everyone and everything. And its interesting that the internet has exploded it but not enough to sway anything really since it seems to be entrenched I mean there are many many examples of things being in the public domain and the author still getting money just because people like it and want to give the creator something. So why can’t people see its not bad?

  • Alex

    I thoroughly enjoyed the IP chat. I’d also take Nick’s idea for the parmaceutical industry and apply media/telecom concentration. Take Quebecor, for example. They own a terrestrial broadcast network, a bunch of specialty TV stations, a film distribution company, a book publishing division, a cable/internet/cell phone company, a ton of regional newspapers, an online portal, a music/bookstore store chain and a video rental chain. They also want to buy an NHL franchise for Quebec City and have convinced the municipal and provincial governments to spend $400 million on a hockey arena on the off chance it happens.

    Also, our Tories are doing their best to catch up to the UK:

  • Jambe

    Nice copyright chat from both of you.

    John: Steve Gaynor (of Gone Home) put up a poor critique of your editorial and I defended your position (and copyright reduction generally) with some poorly-edited word-vomit.

    Gaynor’s thing:

    My thing:

    My bit is originally a forum post (not from the wretched RPS forums, but from somewhere civilized) so there may be a peculiarity here and there.

  • Jambe

    Physicalists can desire reduced copyright terms and advocate copyleft!

    Nick did literally “hit” John with his sung refrain; how else would John have heard anything?

    The physical/nonphysical distinction doesn’t seem useful here, let alone coherent. Distinctions of import concern the nature of the methods by which things are produced and exchanged.

    Production and exchange tins of corn differs from that of thoughts, for example, though both appear to be quite physical processes.

    The central criterions of copyright are (or should be) distinctions about ease of replicability, right?

    The question that faces us is one of justifying copyright (and patent) in any sense, for any terms. Does it provide any societal benefit at all? If so, what is this benefit, and does the benefit outweigh the costs of legislation & enforcement?

    I’ve found damned-little good research on this topic, though I’d welcome any suggestions.

    I certainly gutturally feel that people deserve to be paid for their work, but this feeling does not translate into a specific term of copyright or any particular enforcement scheme.

  • NM

    Jambe: the property metaphor which has been propagandised for hundreds of years must be refuted, inter alia. I quite agree that there are plenty of other philosophical, ethical and utilitarian issues with copyright, but we need to begin by tackling the “you wouldn’t steal a car” madness.

    Property demands identity, quiddity and scarcity for value. That which copyright licenses, by its definition, has none of these. Again, please read my paper for a fuller deconstruction:

  • James

    I’ve not listened to this week’s podcast yet, but I’ve finally just got round to reading John’s article, and I whole heartedly agree.

    As a general principle, I believe that people should be paid for the work that they do, not the assets that they own. IP (be it copyright, patents, whatever) is an attempt to create scarcity where there is none. Once an idea is private property, it can be rented out for profit, in much the same way as the rentier class have always profited from property, paintings, racehorses, etc.

    Much like lending money at interest, it’s an essentially usurious practice. It compels producers who actually contribute to the economy to monied publishers who do not, systematically transferring wealth from the poor to the rich.

    It’s really kind of sad to see indies celebrating their break from publishers, only to then defend the same kind of bullshit that makes them evil.

  • James

    Balls, mixed up some words in that third paragraph. Hopefully the meaning was clear.

  • James

    Finally just listening now. Wow. That speech is incredible. Apart from the bit about the man who hid his talent, ’cause I’m less than convinced that he isn’t really the hero in that story.

  • Jambe

    Nick: I agree that the “thievery” angle needs combating. I first read your paper years ago when it was mentioned here and I still refer people to it; the URL is easily recalled.

    I’m glad to ally with non-materialists but I still feel compelled to pick at metaphysics. For example, the frequency with which you used the term “non-corporeal” bothered me.

    We can talk about haecceity, contextual quiddity, identity, etc without invoking hypokeimenon or other wobbly metaphysics. Consider this passage:

    “A specific plot of a book, once conceived, cannot be “destroyed”, and any change to the plot does not require that we modify the identificatory set of the original idea – rather, a new set springs into life identifying our new plot, whilst the old plot’s identity remains distinct and extant.”

    That idea is of great importance but the destruction bit’s a distraction. The passage would read fine without it: “Changes to the plots of specific books do not require that…”

    In short: we can have meaningful, actionable ideas about conception vs performance, idea vs instantiation, message vs medium, commodity vs anticommodity, etc, all framed in a materialist perspective which considers these things as systematically interlinked phenomena.

  • Gassalasca

    I must first say that I agree with the fundamental point of John’s article.

    But I wanted to comment on Lord Camden’s piece. Doesn’t it hinge on the assumption that most artists and scientists come from upper and upper-middle classes, i.e. that they have other steady sources of income? In such a situation it would indeed seem avaricious and indeed gauche to demand extra money for a fundamentally noble and sublime pursuit such as art or science. In effect, Lord Camden seems to me to be defending the works of the creative members of upper classes from the greedy, philistine, non-creative members of the middle classes, such as publishers.

    However, we today thankfully live in a fundamentally different world than late-17th century Britain, when it comes to class divisions and class roles.