Alastair’s Place

Software development, Cocoa, Objective-C, life. Stuff like that.

Intellectual Property

I’ve been meaning to mention Steve Tobak’s post on the double standards the public currently apply to copyrighted material for a few days now.

Steve’s post is spot on. People don’t like it when their rights are infringed, or when “the little guy” is the one getting hurt. But if it’s a company, “Well screeeewwww them” seems to be the attitude. And that even applies when said company consists of three employees (believe me, people are quite happy to steal from Coriolis Systems; just yesterday we had 172 attempts to activate known pirated copies that we’ve disabled, and that’s just the attempts that weren’t blocked somehow, and that involve copies we know have been distributed).

Some of the comments on Steve’s blog are less-than-intelligent, as you might expect (hey, this is the Internet, after al). I particularly enjoyed

“Let them [the RIAA] die out and a direct artist-to-listener model be born. THEN you can ***** about copyright violation as the people doing the actual work are the ones being harmed.”

Erm, yeah. Because that model works so well for the software industry. I mean, nobody steals our software, ever… especially not via file sharing websites like RapidShare, who we’ve been e-mailing every couple of days for the past few months to ask them to remove our software.

And this was quite good too:

“The issue is that IP rights have gone too far. U2's producer just wrote a multi-page rant on the subject as if IP were as essential a right as real property law. The fact is, mozart and beethoven both wrote before IP laws were invented and arguably, no one has eclipsed their accomplishments since.”

Of course, the person who wrote this has completely omitted to mention that Mozart and Beethoven were only able to write music because of funding from rich patrons or posts they held at schools of music. Is that really what we want to happen to musicians, programmers and film-makers? Of course not; such a system supports far fewer people in those professions than the patronage-of-the-masses that is enabled by copyright, with the obvious consequences for the volume (and types) of material produced.