Goddamn. Now this is a shaming punishment.

Pissed-off software developer opens informal enforcement can of whoop-ass on guy who admitted to using a cracked version.

In conclusion, I promised to tell you why we wouldn’t be sending you a bill. On the one hand, I’m happy with the fact that you’re beginning to grasp that your words and actions have meaning, and therefor value, which essentially puts you in the same boat as Adam and I. On the other hand, when you justify your actions with the old standby “well, everyone else is doin’ it” then you mark yourself as a follower, not a leader. If you want to be a leader, your example has to be righteous, not petty.

So we won’t send you a bill, but know this: you’ll end up paying for our software one way or another. I imagine you’ll want to book a show at a club where I’m friends with the owner, and you’ll need that date to wheel part of a run. But that owner will know that you’re not to be trusted, so he’ll pass on the date. Or you’ll want to license one of your tracks on an episode of television, but the music supervisor has a 15-year relationship with me, and he values that more than he needs your song. Or you’ll finally get an interview with that magazine that will put you in front of the kind of people you need to be in front of, but come to find out Audio Damage spends $1500 a month advertising in that magazine, and that company needs our $1500 more than it needs to fill column inches with your pondering out loud whether you’re a bad person or not.

I am sorry that the Google footprint of this site is roughly 1000 times that of your name alone, and thus this will be the first thing that comes up whenever anyone searches your name directly, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I hope this has been a valuable lesson to you, and food for thought to others. Thanks for taking the time to expand on your original comments, and I look forward to your reply. Just so you’re aware, if you reply to me privately, I will absolutely post that reply verbatim here, so you might as well just put it in the comments of this post.

(h/t Jeff.)

Ow.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m not a big fan of the copyright laws as they currently stand: it matters that, as has been pointed out since Jefferson, the consumption of a copy is nonrivalrous. The theft analogy doesn’t work nearly as well as the pissed-off software developer claims.

On the other hand, the grip of the anti-copyright position is strongest when the person trying to enforce the copyrights is a monstrous exploitative industry like the record industry, and they use thuggish RIAA tactics like many-thousands of dollars suits for copying nine songs or the like. Non wicked people ought to be able to recover from their labors.

Perhaps this suggests that my position isn’t against copyright law as such, so much as it is against people with dominant market positions who act like assholes. Cf. textbook publishers, mass market book distributors, the MPAA. And the solution isn’t to gut copyright law but to promote alternative forms of content distribution and organization that can compete with these behemoths? Cf. Lessig’s Remix.

I also wonder whether the threats in the blog post about cutting off other people’s transactions with the copyist cross some kind of legal or ethical line? Freakish torts like bad faith interference with contract come to mind.

Or is this any different from a credit rating system? A couple days ago, at an Overcoming Bias party, I had a long talk with a guy who thinks that utopia is, roughly, a massive reputation market for everything, such that some fractional penny comes out of your bank account if you put offensive pink flamingos on your lawn. I asked him for an exit visa before he becomes king. Perhaps later, here (or on OB), I’ll write a post about why this is actually hellish dystopia.

But now I’m rambling.

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3 Responses to “Goddamn. Now this is a shaming punishment.”

  1. x. trapnel Says:

    The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!

  2. Jeff Albert Says:

    Well, to me the issue is more the bragging than the stealing. Guy A makes something, and choses not to give it away, but to charge a reasonable fee for it. Guy B likes Guy A’s work, but finds a way to use it without paying for it. Not only use for his own amusement, but use it as part of the way he makes his living. Ok, that’s pretty crappy, but whatever.

    The kicker is that Guy B then brags in an interview in one of their industry publications that he uses Guy A’s stuff, but didn’t pay for it. Even if he had just said I like Guy A’s stuff. But when he starts bragging that he stole it, that crosses the line into totally acceptable asshole outing.

  3. Kenny Says:

    The problems of the copyright system is an issue in which I have a long-standing interest. If you’ll permit me just a moment of shameless self-promotion, I have recently discussed an argument from Kant to the effect that unauthorized publishing is a form of fraud. Because you can’t have property in intangibles in the same way you can have property in physical objects, it is difficult to find a good theoretical basis on which to ground copyright. (Of course, some people have found it difficult to find a good theoretical basis for private property at all.)

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