My heart bleeds
Or at least it did, until I patched my server.
Life’s tough as a malware developer. If the cops or Feds don't collar you, your fellow scumbags will screw you over – or perhaps both will happen. In a presentation at the Bsides Las Vegas hacking conference today, Winnona DeSombre, an analyst at threat-intelligence biz Recorded Future, detailed a year-long probe into dark and …
As many probably already know, Taiwan is not a member of the Berne Copyright Convention, so duplication of copyrighted works is perfectly legal within Taiwan.
SonMay Records was (and apparently still is) a bootleg operation that duplicated lots of musical CDs in the 1990s. They were based in Taiwan, so what they did was legal, there. However, their releases often ended up in North America, where they were not legal. Or maybe they were, because they were purchased legally from a Japanese importer. Needless to say, there was much confusion about the legality, and who in the distributor chain was responsible.
Sometimes, SonMay was not impressed with the packaging of the CD, especially if the original packaging didn't appeal to Chinese/Taiwanese audiences. So, they hired some graphic designers, and started making some releases with better artwork, detailed liner notes, and the like.
At least a couple of Japanese musicians preferred the SonMay artwork, and re-released their albums using it. The wailing from SonMay was a thing to behold. There were SonMay executives that were absolutely livid that their hard was being copied without any compensation. By the original artist, whose work they were selling without paying him. And they were completely oblivious to the hypocrisy of their complaints.
And now pirates are ripping off malware authors? It's almost like there's no honour amongst thieves, or something.
After all copying information is not stealing.
There is nothing inherently morally or ethically wrong with copying and distributing copies of useful concepts and tools and resources. After all , if you still have yours and now I have my own then we can both peacefully go our separate ways both enjoying it, without me removing you of any tangibles that you already had.
Doing so facilitates dissemination of the information that makes it less likely that it will be lost over history. This also allows Efforts to be stacked on top of those concepts and parallel so that more innovation can occur.
The concepts of intellectual property are an economic prop based only in artificial legal distinction.
Base reality naturally rewards duplication and derivative works of useful ideas. It takes a lot of legal tomfoolery and artificialy maintained dangers, to make it disadvantagous to do so.
"After all , if you still have yours and now I have my own then we can both peacefully go our separate ways both enjoying it, without me removing you of any tangibles that you already had."
Temporarily ignoring the fact that you will refuse to give me your name, address, telephone number, banking information, SSN (or local equivalent), medical history, etc ...
Are you by any chance self employed? If so, I am in the same line of work (or about to be). Shirley you'll be quite happy giving me your client database, right? You'll not be deprived of it, after all.
"Information wants to be free" -- theft, usually of substandard quality (from the Jargon File).
All morality and ethics are human creations; the law is partially built upon them. An argument that one is artificial and the other not is therefore specious. In fact, the law is usually unclear because the morals and ethics underlying it are unclear. We say it's wrong to kill another human, but there are endless gray areas in that one act, and the law (to say nothing of the actual punishments) may yield radically different outcomes based on the specifics. Similarly, we say theft is wrong, but there are gradations: many of us would agree that it's more wrong to steal a loaf of bread from a poor man than a rich one, one the grounds that the rich man can more easily replace what he has lost. Now suppose you steal a just-finished painting from a renowned artist; by itself, the painting has no more value than the cost of the canvas and paint used to create it, but it may have tremendous potential value if the artist's work is in demand. If the artist can demonstrate that he could have sold the painting for a great sum, then the law might hold you accountable for the expected value of the painting rather than just the material cost. This principle still holds for reproduced works; if a creator, e.g. a programmer, expected to receive compensation for her program, and you have illicitly created a copy, then you are effectively denying the creator income and can held accountable for the removal of value.
The thorny bit, of course, is that there's a wide range of views on the morals and ethics of software or media piracy, with a wide range of justifications for all perspectives. The law seems to be pretty clear, but its enforcement is spotty, on the grounds that, fundamentally, it's hard to work up the same level of outrage about "software piracy" as it is to do so about stealing food. Making an unauthorized (and possibly illegal) copy of something is not the theft of something unique, but it does potentially reduce the value of the item being copied, which reduces the incentive of the creator to keep creating, which is potentially detrimental to society. Creating something novel is much harder than merely ripping it off, whether through literal copying or through reproducing the work by other means, and I think most people would agree that original creators deserve more reward for their work than imitators or thieves who resell their copies.
I agree with your point that copying and distributing useful concepts and tools is valuable. It's possible to do so while still rewarding the original creator, and the intent of intellectual property laws, flawed though the execution may often be, is to ensure that the people who actually created the value in the first place get rewarded. Consistent with that notion is that it's completely ethical to steal the work of malware writers, since their creations are a drain on the economy and remove value from the world, so fuck 'em, they deserve whatever they get (or lose, as the case may be).
Throatwarbler Mangrove: "... fundamentally, it's hard to work up the same level of outrage about "software piracy" as it is to do so about stealing food."
This, along with some other things you wrote, did make me wonder about any differences in society's views of "piracy" between software, music and video.
I think, of the three, music may be seen as more "personal" as opposed to "corporate" and therefore somehow closer to stealing food, although I have no basis for that.
If the creator of the music and the performer of the song and the distributors require the legitimate sales in order to buy food, make rent/mortgage and debt repayments, pay utility bills, childcare, alimony etc. Then pirating music can indeed be akin to the theft of food.
Also your ‘need’ for music is not in any sort of the same league as your need for sustenance. I’m a distance runner and started doing it way back in the 1980’s before it was practical to take music with you so I never got into the habit. I still occasionally find music running through my head as I run. I tend to put my mind in a mindfulness state and stuff like that washes up from the subconscious.
You could do the same thing in your head if you were deprived of your music. I’m persuaded that the use of earphones to listen to music is deleterious to our hearing so I tend not to do it on the bus even. The mindfulness state applies there too.
Currently the Scissor Sisters are playing their excellent version of Comfortably Numb, paid for on iTunes. I’m an old Floyd Head and love this version of Dave Gilmour’s masterpiece.
// We say it's wrong to kill another human
Or more accurately, wrong to harm another human against their will.
// but it does potentially reduce the value of the item being copied
Key word here is potentially... There are many instances where it does not, for instance where the media is no longer for sale, or is not sold in a particular location etc. In these cases it potentially increases it because it increases the audience.
// which reduces the incentive of the creator to keep creating
The ability to continue selling the same thing over and over without having to create anything new also reduces the incentive to keep creating.
When we have the question of morality...
Is it morally right to place arbitrary restrictions on who is allowed to purchase content? Surely media should be available to anyone at any time for the same price. Refusing to sell to someone who is willing to pay the same price as someone else who was sold a copy is very wrong.
"Is it morally right to place arbitrary restrictions on who is allowed to purchase content? Surely media should be available to anyone at any time for the same price. Refusing to sell to someone who is willing to pay the same price as someone else who was sold a copy is very wrong."
I'm assuming that you mean that it's somehow immoral for a company to not offer their content in certain markets. I would argue that it's a morally-neutral act which is governed by economic concerns, e.g. that the cost of selling in a given market exceeds the perceived profit. My personal rule of thumb for morality is whether a person or other creature is being needlessly harmed, and I would find it fatuous to argue that someone is being harmed by not being able to buy or watch Avengers: Endgame, for example.
When it comes to technology that could be beneficial, such as encryption, then I would agree that the waters get a little murkier. I would consider it morally right to allow political dissidents to communicate safely, but there are plenty of people who would disagree, so the rightness of that cause depends on one's perspective. Whether that benefit extends to pirating licensed software would depend on the good being done or the harm being prevented.
> There is nothing inherently morally or ethically wrong with copying and distributing copies of useful concepts and tools and resources. After all , if you still have yours and now I have my own then we can both peacefully go our separate ways both enjoying it, without me removing you of any tangibles that you already had
Sorry, but no.
Producing anything of value generally requires resources - these usually boil down to time, energy and physical or mental exertion, plus whatever materials are required to produce the item/concept.
Therefore, there needs to be some way to ensure that the creator of this "item of value" can be suitably compensated for their work.
(Note that I said "can", not "must" - the creator should be able to choose if they want to be compensated and the nature of that compensation!)
Things get a little murkier there, as nothing is created in a void - as Newton said, we're all standing on the shoulders of giants. And so, whatever we produce should both acknowledge the debt we owe to past creators, and equally, should be made available to other future creators so that they can continue to build newer and better things.
As such, the original concept of copyright was as a mechanism to protect the original expression of an idea for a "limited time", but this "limited time" has been increasingly extended, and works are being produced today which will not go back into the creative commons for several generations - if someone produces something as a teenager and then lives to a ripe old age, their works will be protected for over a hundred years.
Personally, I see this as a bad thing, because it impacts our collective ability to create and expand. But I still think there needs to be a balance, and blithely declaring "y0, all information must be fr33" is naive at best and actively unhelpful at worst.
"Producing anything of value generally requires resources "
Sorry, but no.
In the digital (phone camera) era producing copyrighted content, like pictures, is literally effortless task. And copyright (as an idea) doesn't give a hoot if it has value or not, *any* "content" is automatically copyrighted. Even when it's literally worthless.
Whole idea is meaningless at this point, millions of phone owners create gazillion copyrighted pictures every day and almost all of them has value of an iota. Not exactly zero, but so little you can't see it. And these are protected by law 70 years after the picture snapper has died.
Summary: Copyright is artificial monopoly for monetary reasons,i.e. profit. No other actual reasons exist and I'm quite sure never have existed.
Actual value creating people can be paid by either their working hours (like people writing software) or by selling the finished product (book, record) just like any other working people, copyright is not needed for that.
Reasons for its existence lie totally elsewhere.
Actual value creating people can be paid by either their working hours (like people writing software) or by selling the finished product (book, record) just like any other working people, copyright is not needed for that.
copyright is needed to sell (book, record), otherwise you only sell one , and everyone copies it
It costs resources to make copies too, the problem is the disconnect between the cost of making a copy vs the selling price of that copy. It's actually quite expensive to copy physical books, but costs almost nothing to copy digital media.
In terms of music, you can sell tickets to your live performances - you can't copy those accurately so there will always be value in attending the original performance. The problem is greed, people don't want to work (ie in this example, perform live on stage) to earn a living - they want to work once and then keep getting paid for years afterwards without lifting a finger.
Quite right. You make a table, you can only sell it once. So why should you be able to sell something multiple times just because you can copy it?
What is the difference?
[I know, you can make shed loads of money for no extra work. But that doesn't make it right.]
Yay! An AC who (deliberately?) misreads your comment and then uses a single (and provably false) strawman argument. And then contradicts themselves in their last statement.
Troll a lol lol...
Welp, seeing as I'm on my lunch break...
> In the digital (phone camera) era producing copyrighted content, like pictures, is literally effortless task. And copyright (as an idea) doesn't give a hoot if it has value or not, *any* "content" is automatically copyrighted. Even when it's literally worthless.
First, I'd note that taking photos isn't entirely effortless - if it was, then professional photographers wouldn't exist.
I'd also note that photographs aren't the only copyrighted material. Books, music, videos, art, etc - copyright extends to pretty much all forms of human expression.
The fact that some expressions are deemed "worthless" does not detract from the fact that there are other expressions which do have worth, whether this is because someone got "lucky" by being in the right place at the right time, or because they expended some effort on producing it.
(There's also relative worth, and non-financial worth - e.g. sentimental or historic value. But that's a whole different discussion altogether!)
> Actual value creating people can be paid by either their working hours (like people writing software) or by selling the finished product (book, record) just like any other working people, copyright is not needed for that.
So, we don't need copyright because people can sell their books? But without copyright, the contents of their book is not protected, and so anyone can copy it without paying anything to the creator.
Examples of this go way back before the digital era. For instance, the stories of Charles Dickens were hugely popular in the USA, because they were reprinted by local presses who didn't pay royalties.
(He also recouped some of these "losses" via reading tours, and there's parallels with the modern push towards tours/patrons/etc. But again, that's a whole different conversation)
> Summary: Copyright is artificial monopoly for monetary reasons,i.e. profit. No other actual reasons exist and I'm quite sure never have existed.
It also allows the creator to control the use of their expressions, regardless of whether they want to profit from it or not.
For a recent example, see Pepe Le Frog, and how it was subverted by various far-right movements, which forced the creator to take legal action against them.
So there's another actual reason.
Also, as I explicitly stated in my previous comment, I do think that the various national/international definitions of "a limited time" have tipped too far, and that they're stifling creativity - and with it, social and economic development and growth.
But I'm guessing you were too busy denouncing the concept of copyright to actually read that far.
Still, time to go back to doing something vaguely useful...
"Also, as I explicitly stated in my previous comment, I do think that the various national/international definitions of "a limited time" have tipped too far, and that they're stifling creativity - and with it, social and economic development and growth."
And that's the real heart of the matter. On the one hand, we have people supporting the existing copyright regime, as-is, and then people at the other end of the spectrum challenge the entire existence of copyright. You statement above pretty much summarises my own position, ie that copyright is a needed function of society, but over time it's been compromised by industrial copyright owners such as Disney (whose business was founded on using out of copyright stories) such that nowadays it is stifling creativity.
There was a recent case of a melody being ruled as "stolen" because it sounded like another, previous one. Well, there's only so many notes available and only so many ways they can be put together in a pleasing way.
Rubbish. Why is it ok to copy books but not tables? Oh I know, because you can't copy a table. So because you CAN copy a book you think it is ok to get the money twice for the same amount of work?
Copyright is purely to make money. And why wait 75 years until someone has died? Oh, I know, so you can make money. No other reason.
That's an odd way of arguing the point, sure I could put my finger on the shutter button and wave my camera around, creating photos of no worth.
On the other hand I could carefully compose the photo, staging a carefully crafted shot, at considerable expense if I were hiring models to pose for me, and take a few photos, and then select the best one.
All of this based on my training as a photographer over many years.
Same goes for computer code that I may craft carefully, or alternatively sling together with a load of bugs.
The act of creation, with due care, is wroth some return, that's what copyright is there to protect.
Original: "Producing anything of value generally requires resources - these usually boil down to time, energy and physical or mental exertion, plus whatever materials are required to produce the item/concept."
Response: "[P]hone camera) era producing copyrighted content, like pictures, is literally effortless task."
Rubbish. We have a convenient list of resources provided, so let's look at the resources needed to take a picture with a phone camera and how they appear on the list.
Phone: Must be purchased, "materials are required to produce the item/concept".
Battery: Must be charged, "energy".
Idea of thing to take picture of: Pictures have value only if they contain something of interest to somebody--the picture of my wall wouldn't have value to many, "mental exertion".
Taking a good photo: This requires getting a good angle, ensuring the expected things are in the frame, managing light, etc, "time [and] physical [and] mental exertion".
Storing the photo: Storage on the phone is in use, "materials are required to produce the item/concept".
Editing the photo: Not required, but many good photos are not sent out as raw files. Someone spends time and effort making it look nice or ensuring it honestly depicts whatever they want to have a picture of, "time [and] physical [and] mental exertion".
Sharing photo: Bandwidth to send the picture out, which the user pays for, "materials are required to produce the item/concept"
In conclusion, rubbish. Just because you can do something with little effort doesn't mean that other people who do it put the same low amount of effort in.
As such, the original concept of copyright was as a mechanism to protect the original expression of an idea for a "limited time",
IIRC, that was the stated goal, but the actual goal of the Statute of Ann was an end-run around the issues surrounding the previous "Licensing of the Press" act
(1662, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne with usual caveats on accuracy of wikipedia)
That is, it was a replacement for an out-and-out "We will prosecute anybody with a press (including you) that publishes stuff we don't like, and in return we will also prosecute anybody who publishes a copy of your books" law, by changing the stated goal, but leaving the "copying and publishing need to play nice with the crown". Aka "Think of the Children" and "Saving you from terrorists" of today.
So, the original concept of copyright was in the same league as that of The Patriot Act: A spoonful of artificial sweetener to make the medicine go down. Yes, it also vested copyright in the author, rather than the publisher, and actually had a definition of "limited" that made some sense, but those "glitches" have been effectively fixed for centuries, as publisher power has grown, until quite recently. (See "Courtney Love does the math")
I create things that I think have value, I therefore ask that, if you want to consume or use them, you meet my expectation of that value. The value isn't just placed on my items and objects—it's also placed on the time, effort and expense I spent on creating them.
If you take these things, you think they have value, too. At least, they have enough value for you to _want_ them. If you can afford to meet my expectations, and choose not to in order to take these things for nothing, you're telling me that my time is worth less than nothing.
Now, I would much prefer to live in a Banksian universe of weirdly sinister anarchocommunism, where it doesn't _matter_ whether you pay or not because value has no meaning when everyone has access to infinite resources. As it is, I need heat, light, and food in order to carry on making the things that apparently have value. when you deny me the means to acquire those, while still telling me you consider my creations to have worth, I think you're a right twatty spacker.
'removal of tangibles' is the excuse of a weakling.
When you buy a wooden sculpture, are you paying for the piece of wood or for the work (creative energy) that went into turning that raw piece of wood into a sculpture? If you steal the wooden sculpture from an exhibition and you are caught, should you be penalized based on the value of the original piece of wood or the value of the sculpture itself?
As it's obvious from the correct answers to the above (assuming intellectual honesty), the value of something is not the material that something is made of (even when you buy a piece of wood, you are not paying for the object itself, but the work invested in obtaining it and presenting it to you) but the *creative energy* that was invested into making that sculpture beautiful and unique. Unique because anyone else faced with the same raw piece of wood would have come up with something completely different.
So, what this means is that the REAL value of something is not the object/material itself but the creative energy (work) invested by someone else into creating/obtaining/shaping that something. So, it does not matter if, when you pirate something, you are not depriving the other person of a physical object. You are still STEALING something from them: in this case the just reward for the work/energy THEY invested in creating that something YOU want to use.
Even if you do not agree with the price of something, it is not up to you to set that price, but to the creator/vendor. You either take it or leave it. If you don't want to be a thief, then don't steal/pirate something. Anything else is pure hypocrisy.
Likewise, when you deprive someone of an object like a car (e.g.; what you would call 'really stealing') ultimately what you are *actually* stealing from that person is all the energy he invested working his ass off so he could eventually afford, pay for and use that object.
If you think of everything in terms of energy (because that is what everything in this universe really is, energy expressing itself in different forms) then even if something is in digital format (i.e.; you cannot physically touch it) valuable energy was still required to create it - so EACH single copy of that work has a definite value (same way you don't buy a book because of the paper it is made of but the story within).
Being a non-signatory to Berne doesn't mean there are no copyright laws, merely that the country retains the power to set and change its own copyright laws as it sees fit.
Taiwan has its own copyright law, which applies broadly the same rules as Berne. I haven't tried to parse it in detail to see what the differences are, but it's certainly not true to say that "duplication of copyrighted works is perfectly legal in Taiwan".
And it's also not true to say that infringing copies can be freely imported from a non-Berne country into a Berne one. If that was the case at some time in the 90s, then that's because US law was a hopeless pig's breakfast (plus ca change...) and simply couldn't bring itself to implement the Berne rules. (Bear in mind that the US itself only ratified the Berne Convention in 1989.)
back in the days of vinyl (or today, if you prefer) when bootleg LPs were a thing, some of them were real works of art. Beautifully packaged, with proper artwork, labels - the lot. I have a couple of pristine Led Zeppelin ones "Destroyer" and "Live on Blueberry Hill" are as good as anything the band ever released.
It's also worth noting that quite a few artists have made use of bootleg recordings (Jimmy Page, certainly) to fill in the gaps on official releases ....
---> what being hit by Led Zeppelin in their heyday would have felt like :)
I assure you that bootlegged vinyl is still a thing, at least in the slightlier murkier black metal trading/distro circles. I've got a copy of Judas Iscariot's 'Distant In Solitary Night' which turned out to be an illicit reprint of the Sombre Records original.
Blake Judd of Nachtmystium's tale is a dismal one indeed, but catnip for those of us who love a bit of internet drama!
Don't know if "he" here refers to Ali or Gould, but according to his son, the reason Jack Tramiel left Commodore in 1984 was due to a dispute over Gould treating the assets of the company as his own.
(Gould, for his part, apparently claimed that the falling out was due to Tramiel wanting to install his three sons on the board).
No. Mehdi Ali and Irving Gould killed the Amiga
True, especially Ali in his later years at the company.
I picked up a copy of David Pleasance's book (Commodore: the inside story) from the man himself, and it's an interesting and recommended read. It details how some people within Commodore had faith in the Amiga, and had great plans for further models, however people like Ali were more interested in the fairly generic PC* industry, and didn't realise what potential they had in their hands.
* - I'm aware that the Amiga is a Personal Computer, however I'm referring to the generally accepted term of PC meaning IBM-PC compatible computer.
That may all be true, but whatever killed the Amiga, it was Doom that put the final nails in the coffin. Doom was a big deal, and the Amiga's planar graphics model was fundamentally unsuited to Doom-type graphics engines, requiring many more writes per pixel than on a PC. I had a boosted A1200 with a mighty 50MHz processor and 8MB of memory, but even then Doom clones like Gloom were no match for the real thing, and that was pretty much it for that generation of Amigas, and they didn't have a next-generation ready to go.
The A1200 was almost a last gasp of under-investment; barely better than the A500+ it was replacing; when all its rivals were uprating their performance by many multiples in each release.
I loved my A500+ (and still have it in the loft), found the A1200 to be a disappointment and gave it away, while pining for an A3000
As for the Doom/Gloom comparison, not sure it is valid. Amiga versions of all the games I owned were much better visually than the PC versions; in fact the Amiga was dead and buried for a decade before PC games even caught up.
I'm still a massive fan of the Amiga, but I've got to take issue with your final paragraph.
While it's true that into the early 90's the Amiga could still hold its own against many PC games, the tide was already turning.
Held back by OCS/ECS graphics while PC's moved to VGA, you've only got to look at examples from Lucas like Loom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Secret of Monkey Island - these were only available in OCS/ECS (32 colour) versions on the Amiga, while the PC had 256 colour VGA graphics - to see that PC's were becoming capable gaming machines.
Even once AGA machines were available, the sheer clock speed of PC's by the mid 90's meant that PC's were moving ahead - games like UFO look good on AGA Amiga's, but the horsepower from the PC processor meant the gameplay moved along at a quicker pace on that platform.
Only 2 years after the Amiga was finally discontinued (in 1996), you had games like Baldur's Gate available - these were the kind of games that I could have only dreamed of whilst I had an Amiga as my main machine.
Seen as the malware ecosystem relies on coders wiling to write and sell the viruses that exploit the vulnerbilities then perhaps a way of reducing the amount of new malware is for AV vendors to simply wait for new malware to appear then release a pirate version for free on these hacker forums.
Soon the malware writers will release they aren't able to sell their wares because people can get them for free, and if they can't make money from them and will either just keep them for themselves or even stop producing it all together. It may not kill malware completely but it will at least stop a lot of the script kiddies and the authorities can then spend more time going after the bigger fish, than some 14 year old in his bedroom.
On paper, that sounds like a good idea, but if you dig in a little, it's not a great one.
As it stands, malware researchers know where to go to get samples and track whats going on. And Skiddies are the definition of careless. Opsec & security hygiene are as alien to them as personal hygiene.
This carelessness allows malware hunters to get a good idea of whats going on. Forcing the malware writers even further underground so that they hoard their gold, so to speak, means researchers and people fighting malware will have to rely on blind luck to pick up detections, get samples, do what they're doing now.
Same way pragmatic cops will pay less attention to a certain few bars, areas, etc so that they know where to lay hands on persons of interest, should they require it.
Idealism is fantastic. If you're fresh off the Uni Mill or there were no bad guys. Pragmatism is what'll mark you as someone who gets sh*t done...
Amiga Power (ex-Amiga games mag, I guess they're all ex now) covered this, it's still online in AP2 (https://theweekly.co.uk/ap2 look for "The Amiga's Death Sentence"). Basically at an industry gathering pulled together by Future Publishing in 1993 a large selection on major game publishers met up and said how they didn't want to support the Amiga, not because of piracy (The PC has piracy issues that made the Amiga's laughable) but because the profit markup on consoles (SNES and Megadrive at the time) where so much better.
One of the biggest selling points of the Amiga was that you could easily pirate the games, and share them with your friends. Many people bought Amigas for this exact reason, and there was a lot of copying going on between friends.
The fallacy is thinking the market was bigger than it really was... Most people who played games were kids with limited budgets. If there was no piracy, those kids would just have had less games or played more free games - it would never have translated into additional sales.
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