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back to article Instagram Act: UK.gov's latest copyright landgrab stymied - for now

Remember the notorious ‘Instagram Act’? If you recall, clauses smuggled into April’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) - in the name of allowing reuse of orphan works - paved the way for the Government to grab your photographs and other visual images, in breach of international conventions. The mechanics of the scheme …

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Alert

right vs privilege error again

That’s because the UK’s IPO doesn’t think intellectual property is any kind of property.

So IP isn’t an absolute right - few things are. But again, the problem is the IPO’s fantasy view of copyright as something that isn’t a property right.

That's because it isn't any kind of property, or any kind of right; "intellectual property" is a totally misleading term. This article makes some valid points, but once again fails to understand that copyright is not a right at all but rather a privilege that the state grants in order to get more into the public domain in the long run.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: right vs privilege error again

"isn't any kind of property"

It doesn't really matter what you think IP is, or what I think it is. It's a property right in Berne, in WIPO, in many other treaties and conventions - and in over 100 national statutes.

Best of luck changing all those.

You've made the same error the IPO made, in pretending that IP wasn't a property right... and finding the reality whacks you on the head.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

Not quite sure why that got thumbed down, since it's simply a statement of fact - before copyright, artists typically depended on patronage to make a living. It's true that technology (printing, recording and what followed) have provided practical mechanisms by which artists could make independent livings, but the copyright systems that back this up have simply created another class of patrons (publishers/producers).

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Meh

Re: right vs privilege error again

It's actually both.. IP is a privilege that's elevated to an internationally recognised privilege by various treaties. Might as well call it a right then in the places where those treaties are actually acknowledged and enacted.

The *biggest* mistake the British gov made in this is that they've treated "stuff on the internet" as if it was physically present in their sovereign territory, like a physical commodity. Not just stuff that can be proven to live on servers in the UK, but ALL of the internet. Which is a bit of a tall claim.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: right vs privilege error again

Most kinds of property aren't really "property". You can own a pair of trousers in a fairly unambiguous way, but land, for example, is much less property-like than clothing: land can quite easily be compulsorily purchased and your ownership of land is limited in all sorts of ways: you may or may not be able to prevent other people walking over it; you probably don't have permission to remove minerals or water from the soil; and so on. Copyright is admittedly even less property-like than land, but if you're going to count land as property then you're not stretching the concept very much further if you include copyrights, too.

However, it is a very bad argument to claim that reducing the set of exclusive rights enjoyed by some group of people (such as copyright owners) is the same as depriving them of their property and therefore an illegal violation of human rights. If you follow that argument then all sorts of legislative progress become impossible. All sorts of unpleasant, restrictive laws could never be repealed.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

It's true that technology (printing, recording and what followed) have provided practical mechanisms by which artists could make independent livings, but the copyright systems that back this up have simply created another class of patrons (publishers/producers).

Copyright used to be a very good deal for the public and the artists: printing required expensive equipment and special skills, so trading away the natural right to copy was a very small loss for the public; in effect, copyright gave a privilege to artists/authors at the expense of publishers.

Now, it's a bad deal, giving privileges to publishers at a great cost to the public's natural right to copy --- and with extensions to terms on existing works, the public is getting absolutely nothing in the public domain in return!

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Re: right vs privilege error again

Probably the best, real world, definition of property I'm aware of appears in an appendix in the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. You quickly get into really deep philosophical territory when economists and politicians start talking about property, the problem is that their definitions are only applicable within their own peer group.

Economists are probably the most narrow minded and unrealistic people on the planet and politicians say whatever they're told but the definition(s) in the link below are a far more universal and pragmatic:

http://dedroidify.blogspot.com/2012/05/illuminatus-excerpt-appendix-zain.html?m=1

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Re: right vs privilege error again

It doesn't really matter what you think IP is, or what I think it is. It's a property right in Berne, in WIPO, in many other treaties and conventions - and in over 100 national statutes.

Best of luck changing all those.

We all know those conventions and statutes contain the results of corruption, which you ought to be criticizing.

You've made the same error the IPO made, in pretending that IP wasn't a property right... and finding the reality whacks you on the head.

You're arguing circularly that whatever the law currently says must be right.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: right vs privilege error again

I'm arguing that you want the moon on a stick, Larry, and you're not going to get it. I'm so sorry.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: right vs privilege error again

"However, it is a very bad argument to claim that reducing the set of exclusive rights enjoyed by some group of people (such as copyright owners) is the same as depriving them of their property and therefore an illegal violation of human rights. If you follow that argument then all sorts of legislative progress become impossible."

Copyright actually is already recognised as a human right - you've missed that boat.

Your idea of "progress" is somebody else's tyranny. That's generally why we have legal protection - to protect the individual from people like you.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

«before copyright, artists typically depended on patronage to make a living»

The bulk of artists do not depend on copyright for a living, but on individuals giving them money more or less directly. That's not completely unlike patronage — But whereas patronage usually means an artist gets a stipend on the promise of future works, artists depend on individual, smaller amounts, shelled out by many people.

Most musicians get much more from the paid performances they do (even for tips on free gigs) than from album sales. Most literary authors I know base their income on being able to get in contests or stipends (usually state-sponsored), which still seems very much like patronage, even if they sell individual copies of their books. Academic authors, much more so — We get a salary from a university to keep writing, not a payment for how our books and articles are selling. Plastic artists (painters, sculptors) are quite unique as their works are tangible and not losslessly reproducible, and thus, each item still ranks in the hundreds or (more usually) thousands of dollars.

Copyright usually benefits intermediaries the most — If I write a book and a given publisher prints it, yes, they will give me a percentage of their sales. But the percentage is usually so low (3-10%) that I don't take it much into account. Yes, I'm not a best-selling author by far yet, but then again — Who is? Are we looking at the bulk of content creators in the lump of the normal curve, or at the upper tail of best-selling creators?

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Re: Re: right vs privilege error again

I have always found this a strange argument: because creators get a small proportion of the value they receive - they should get even less. Or nothing at all.

As an academic you don't make much money from selling your rights in a marketplace because your work isn't worth very much in that marketplace. Which isn't to say it isn't very good. But this may have skewed your perspective.

"Most musicians get much more from the paid performances they do (even for tips on free gigs) than from album sales."

So if they don't play live, they starve. Remember that proportionately more revenue is retained by the live promoter (and pocketed by the beer company) than by the musician. Yet all the while you can be sure that if people are enjoying the live performance, they are probably enjoying the sound recording too.

The challenge here is to restore the link between popularity and revenue. No matter how much lipstick you put on this pig, what you are advocating is charity, and a much less fair world.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

"Most musicians get much more from the paid performances they do (even for tips on free gigs) than from album sales. "

As applied to the past, this statement would be pure, unalloyed bullshit. The mere fact that record companies (and note well that these were RECORD companies whose primary business was making RECORDS and not booking live gigs) would only, in exceptional circumstances, finance a tour of this or that band in order to support a record. TOURS support RECORDS.

Your original statement, however, applied to the present, simply recognizes that piracy has destroyed the market for music, and consequently the ability for musicians to earn more than they would get as tips at a "free gig". My *guess* is, that most people would consider "passing a tip jar at a free gig" to be "begging". You seem to think that this represents some sort of progress as compared to the days when it might have been possible to earn a decent living by being a musician.

"Playing gigs" is, as you obviously don't know, very often a money-losing activity for most musicians who try it.

"The bulk of artists do not depend on copyright for a living".... because at this point in time, with pretty nearly no copyright enforcement, there is no living to be had. These two facts are connected, whether you want to realize it or not.

And if you don't understand how copyright is the ONLY mechanism that enables or, better, could theoretically enable, an artist, musician, or author to earn a living, then you don't understand much. Or perhaps you would explain to me how an artist, musician, or author, could earn a living when their work is immediately put on the web without permission in order to serve a ad-bait, and so be enjoyed free of cost for the sake of running Google Adsense ads.

You don't find anything wrong with that? You don't think that maybe the people who create the works that people want to see, read, listen to, ought to get paid for it, and have the right to dispose of it as they see fit, as opposed to being expropriated by thieves and ultimately serving to enrich Brin, Page, Schmidt, and the venture capitalists who ultimately reap the profit.

But then as Brin, Page, and Schmidt are already each worth $15bn+, I can see why you would want any artistic endeavour to operate as a charitable enterprise, with Google and the rest of the tech oligarchs as the beneficiaries of that charity.

Have an armband.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

"However, it is a very bad argument to claim that reducing the set of exclusive rights enjoyed by some group of people (such as copyright owners) is the same as depriving them of their property and therefore an illegal violation of human rights."

... except in the case of copyright, where it is the same "as depriving them of their property and therefore an illegal violation of human rights."

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Re: right vs privilege error again

"This article makes some valid points, but once again fails to understand that copyright is not a right at all but rather a privilege that the state grants in order to get more into the public domain in the long run."

Then in that case, anyone who enjoys the fruits of their own labor does so thanks to a privilege and not a right. And of course, just like all privileges granted by the state, it can be revoked. Perhaps you would like to see slavery re-instituted?

Piracy has nothing to do with "the public domain". What's being pirated are works being created and released now, with music being created and released now, with movies being produced and released now. If you think that anyone would refrain from downloading the latest hit movie if it would be freely available in the public domain in only, let's say, a Queen-Anne-like 7 years, then you are delusional.

The whole "public domain" line of argument is fraudulent and simply meant to distract attention from the real issue: why are any number of predatory entities (some of which are among the wealthiest entities in the world) allowed to expropriate creators with impunity and deprive them of the right to benefit from their own work?

Have an armband.

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Re: right vs privilege error again

"Or perhaps you would explain to me how an artist, musician, or author, could earn a living when their work is immediately put on the web without permission in order to serve a ad-bait, and so be enjoyed free of cost for the sake of running Google Adsense ads." - I think a fair number of artists get screwed long before the feckless freetards get in on the action...

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@heyrick

"I think a fair number of artists get screwed long before the feckless freetards get in on the action..."

And you are dissatisfied with that sort of shoddy work, and want the job completed in a more thorough manner, so that every artist is completely expropriated?

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Re : Trying to teach a horse Latin...

It may be a "slow and dimwitted horse" but it is a horse that can indeed speak Latin :-)

In fact, we have another horse in the family and it also is quite adept at requesting his "carotas".

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Pah easy....

"Those who have seen it could not make a copy, or take a copy away with them. "

Take a photo, bang it on the internet, move it around a few times and hey presto, instant orphan work, for all to republish.

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What really sucks about all this is it property, is it not, debate is that every single bit of it is due to society forgetting how to run a business. It isn't about innovation or any other feel good whale song garbage, it is a complete lack of ability and a terrible misunderstanding of the realities of commerce.

When you go to round table meet and greet events and people have their five minutes to win your attention, nearly everybody for the past six or seven years talks about 'leveraging the synergies of community generated content' (blarrgh) and partnerships with a Facebook or Google type entity. Nobody knows how to develop an actual product or service that can stand on its own.

The Underwear Gnome business model isn't limited to entrepreneurs, the people that think like that have infiltrated traditional businesses and they've stopped thinking about ways to adapt to the market. Their answer is 'take somebody else's work and sell it'. Traditionally, if that was your business model you were called a robber baron or a pirate. Sadly, they can't even get that part right, what robber baron wears a suit?

At any rate, what we're seeing now are the people who crashed during the first .com bubble trying the same stuff again but this time they're trying to get the government to seize other people's property instead of doing it themselves. They still haven't figured out that users != money.

People should stop trying to be the next 'big thing' it ain't going to happen. For every Facebook or a Twitter there are hundreds or even thousands of other businesses that chug along and make their management more money than they know what to do with. Be one of those and if you get lucky maybe you'll be the next 'big thing' but the system can only support a finite amount of robber barons. Building a fantasy model around exceptions in an extremely limited playing field isn't good business.

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Joke

@DonJefe

Don:

You do realize that the presence of common sense in your comment to this article marks you for removal from the internet? Its just not allowed any more.

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"'leveraging the synergies of community generated content'" - what does that even mean?

"what robber baron wears a suit" - the name that popped into my head was (Sir) Mervyn King, but there are plenty like him and, coincidentally, in the same business. Perhaps if we had fewer suit-attired robber barons, the economy wouldn't be as it is now.

"People should stop trying to be the next 'big thing' it ain't going to happen." - Face it, probably half of us commentards could have set up an "Instagram". I could have easily had that thought years ago, and maybe I did. But seconds later I'd have rejected the idea as being "dumb". Well, it came, it made its creators heaps of cash, and I still think it is a dumb idea... So who can say what The Next Big Thing will be? I reckon for every happy millionaire, there are probably a million people who tried and failed.

But... I believe the market is open for a search engine that is quick, light on resources, and doesn't force advertising down your throat at every opportunity. The deep irony being, of course, that this is pretty much how Google was to AltaVista in the beginning. Hmmm...

"Building a fantasy model around exceptions in an extremely limited playing field isn't good business." - any business model containing elements of fantasy is a poor idea (unless you are called Pixar or Square Enix).. It's surprising how often this seems to be forgotten.

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Happy

A real robber brain wears whatever he damn well pleases :)

But all those other not-Instagrams don't have to be failures. They throw out solid ideas, strategies and products/services chasing a unicorn. There's a serious misconception that the world turns based on a few gigantic companies, but that isn't true. Those companies get headlines, but it's the thousands of other companies that make the world go round.

Just because you arent 'the biggest' doesn't mean you can't put a few million dollars in your pocket every year. Build yourself a business that'll do that and it doesn't matter if you're acquired of have an IPO. It really isn't as difficult as people think. Besides, the vast majority of people can't actually fathom what having a six-figure salary is like, much less billions and billions of dollars. Aim for that six figure salary which is infinitely more possible than catching that unicorn and it's a better life than the crazy money, which leads to my closing.

Most people aren't prepared or capable of business at the highest levels. It requires a very broken person to thrive there. Nothing makes sense and, perversely, you have absolutely no control of your life. There's a guy in the VC group I work with that's been on the Forbe's 500 list for many years. Everybody except him feel sorry for him. He went past the point of absolute control of his life, which you get with a few million, to the point that he can't move or make a decision. He's paralyzed and there is no escape. You can't get out at that scale because it'll invite fear in the foundations of your holdings and you'll be destroyed overnight. He has to schedule his tee times weeks in advance to keep everything working. With a few million, which is actually obtainable, you can disappear for weeks, or forever, and it won't make any difference. What's the point in having the money if you lose your freedom? Freedom being what most, not broken, people want the money for...

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Fixed!

"Without copyright enforcement, everyone can profit from your work except you."

Fixed.

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I dont think you can call it the 'notorious Instagram act'

Not if you were the only person to ever use that expression.

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Unhappy

Sounds like the IPO needs to be shut down or re-structured.

Just the obvious thing really.

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Well, not quite

"Without copyright, everyone can profit from your work except you"

Actually, you're just no more able than anyone else.

IP is an invention of lawyers, not a right. That doesn't make it inherently more or less desirable, however. It's certainly not property in the normal sense, but it embodies time spent in creating it which creators expect to recoup by creating a false scarcity via the courts. Personally, I think this can be a good thing and I think it can be made into a bad thing too.

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