Disruption Junction, What’s Your Function?

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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30 Responses

  1. Fnord says:

    It’s nothing but a gentlemen’s agreement in a lawless town, you say. So if my partners start pissing me off, I don’t have any recourse. But if, as you say, all we’ve got is a gentleman’s agreement and my partners aren’t acting like gentlemen, why should I keep my end of the agreement? The lawless town in question isn’t Deadwood, it’s Port Royal: there are plenty of pirates lurking about that are happy to take my “business”.Report

  2. James B Franks says:

    Heh my response is to strip the DRM out of everything I buy and have back-up copies.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to James B Franks says:

      You are at a party.

      You want to play Otis Reading’s “Can’t Turn You Loose”. If you have a CD or vinyl an a non-networked device to play it on, you’re good.

      Elsewise the network will know you are playing it, how many times you play it and how many people are at the party, and your account will be charged accordingly.Report

      • James B Franks in reply to David Ryan says:

        Only if I allow it’s traffic to exit my private network.Report

      • Fnord in reply to David Ryan says:

        ThePirateBay doesn’t give a damn how many people I play “their” music for. It might be technically possible for legitimate content provide to do all sorts of monitoring and control, but it’s also technically possible for consumers to cut the legitimate content providers out of the loop altogether.

        But go ahead and be contemptuous of anyone who thinks the question ought to go beyond what’s technically possible.Report

  3. DensityDuck says:

    “You want to leave your books and records to your kids? You want them to be your property? Then buy books and records.”

    Except you don’t “own” those, either, not in the way that you mean. You can’t copy them, excerpt them outside the restrictive boundaries of Fair Use, rewrite them and republish them, use the characters or settings or lyrics or music samples in your own work. About all you can do is sell them again, and even that is the result of court precedent rather than a matter of law (meaning it could be changed if enough legislators cared.)

    You don’t own the content of those books or the music on those records, and you never did. It’s just that for many years, the media was bound up with a physical token (that is, the printed book or the pressed disc). These days, the technology to decouple the media from physicality is available to the nonspecialist consumer, which means that now, it matters that you don’t “own” the song on the CD you bought.

    When we see a fenced yard, we know what the fence means. We know that if we go inside that fence then people will get mad, and that society in general will think we’re the transgressor. Maybe we don’t think there ought to be a fence, maybe we’ve got good reasons to go inside, maybe the fence is easy to climb over or cut a hole in, maybe we disagree with the notion of fences in general, but we would never fail to understand that the fence has meaning beyond a minor impediment to our movement.

    Media has fences around it, too, but we’re so used to those fences being impassable (that is, the technology to copy not being available) that we never had to learn that they existed. That doesn’t mean they don’t.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to DensityDuck says:

      You own a book or a vinyl record in exactly the way I mean it; in law, custom, and fact.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to David Ryan says:

        What do you own, exactly?

        Note that even in The Good Old Days, you didn’t have the right to take that record and broadcast it over the radio. That’s public broadcast, which is a different set of rights that you have to pay for.

        Note that even in The Good Old Days, you didn’t have the right to go down to a coffeeshop or a library and read the book out loud. Again, that’s public performance.

        Note that even in The Good Old Days you couldn’t even read the book out loud to someone else in the house. That’s an audiobook, which is, again, a different set of rights.

        Most of the things that people took for granted were things they never had the right to do. Someone driving at 90 miles an hour on a local road can’t go to court and argue that since he was able to do it then it can’t have been illegal.Report

        • Ara in reply to DensityDuck says:

          These are ridiculous. Radio as we know it stemmed exactly from your first example: people playing those copies on the public airwaves by people with operator radio. Any dispute of that right lead to radio in which people don’t pay per song (listen free), where “pay to play” spins are frowned on as a deceitful practice, listeners could buy equipment and record their own copy to transfer with as they please as long as they didn’t reap financial rewards. An evolution of the dispute of that right, cemented that right–not rescinded or proved there was no right.

          You absolutely could go down to a coffee shop, or library and read a book allowed and local and regional history is full of such an example. You cannot profit from it. In a European country, publishers wanted to start charging libraries per public read. So the right existed prior to a publisher deciding to dispute that right. Guess what a dispute of that right prompted–ridicule and damage to the publishers with a solidification of that right to read a book out loud in a library.

          And of course you had a right to read books allowed to someone else in the house. Books have been around much longer than publishing rules, and that right has been solidified into common law and cultural practice for thousands of years (and I do mean thousands – as long as writing systems have been around–even mystical texts with restricted rights managements could be read allowed by priests). Try to take that to court and no court will uphold the right that you can’t read a book allowed in your own house. The right exists even without dispute and legal solidication

          These are not things that people took for granted that they never had a right to do. They are things that people did and so developed into rightful things.

          Audio, performance and other rights as a different set of rights, not a lack of rights, do not match with your examples at all.

          And someone driving 90 miles on a road where there is no speed limit absolutely can argue they were able to do it because there was no law. Someone would fail to be successful in court precisely because there are laws against such things, AND because those laws have been successfully embedded in our social customs and expectations.

          So what kinds of rights, social customs and expectations do we want to embed with digital distribution respecting both the consumers of creativity and the producers of creativity?

          Don’t cry we never had the right, so that lack of right means we cannot solidify and embed those rights. It just doesn’t hold up.Report

          • Ara in reply to Ara says:

            I know aloud, not allowed. Typing too fast while preparing for frankenstorm. Any other obvious mistake too, just put in the correct word. Oops.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Ara says:

              When I worked at the restaurant, we were told that we could play the radio but we could not play CDs. We could be fined for playing CDs without having paid whatever licensing thingamabob that exists for that sort of thing… but the radio was A-Okay.

              There was a different restaurant I washed dishes for in high school and they had a special bunch of CDs that were specially licensed for restaurants to play.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                And from here:


                I’m interested in playing music in my restaurant or other business. I know that I need permission for live performances. Do I need permission if I am using only CD’s, records, tapes, radio or TV?

                Yes, you will need permission to play records or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio and television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public communication of TV or radio transmissions by eating, drinking, retail or certain other establishments of a certain size which use a limited number of speakers or TVs, and if the reception is not further transmitted (for example, from one room to another) from the place in which it is received, and there is no admission charge. Your local ASCAP licensing manager can discuss your needs and advise how ASCAP can help you.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck says:

      What a load of sea lawyering. The issue is transferability of rights. Amazon and Apple can license to anyone who pays them and they will pay the publishers. The publishers and recording companies are the only parties with any standing to dictate terms. I can resell a physical recording, no legal problem there. But Amazon and Apple feel they can take my money and tell me what I can do with what I’ve paid for.Report

      • David Ryan in reply to BlaiseP says:


        That’s adorable, Blaise!Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Someone who is as heavily involved in the IT service industry as you should really not be crying so hard about the idea of contracts.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Oh shut up. Every tool I use is open source. I’ve written plenty of software used under GPL General Public License. There’s so much work to be done out there and so few hands to do it, the very idea that software ought to be “sold” is complete and utter bullshit. I charged for my time as a contractor and as an employee, I’ve just volunteered to mentor and tutor up and coming coders, still in college, not that I’ll see any money from that.

          Tens of thousands of people struggled and overcame tremendous obstacles so I could do this:

          $ uname -a
          Linux localhost.localdomain 3.4.11-1.fc16.x86_64 #1 SMP Sun Sep 16 13:50:06 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

          • Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

            the very idea that software ought to be “sold” is complete and utter bullshit

            One of the (unintentionally) funniest things I’ve ever hear is Richard Stallman thundering about the absolute immorality of asserting rights to software you’ve written (e.g, charging for it.), followed by twenty minutes of whining because Linux doesn’t credit him and his peeps (GNU) for their stuff by calling itself GNU/Linux.

            Me? I do products. If I couldn’t charge for them, I’d have to do something else. Why people think a public company like Facebook won’t look for way to (horrors!) make money from their service is beyond me.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Richard Stallman is a unique figure in computing and machine intelligence. The copyrighting of software is a stupid idea. Licenses I understand, copyrights are just ridiculous.

              RMS doesn’t care if you license and sell your stuff. Red Hat and IBM have done very well, supporting Linux. And I’m not sure you completely understand RMS’s point: coders ought to have the freedom to do with their code as they wish. My clients can cling to what I wrote for them and not share any of it with others: why would they? It’s prosaic, highly specialised stuff, of no practical use to anyone else. But nobody’s going to take what I’ve learned away from me by force. That I’ll teach to others and have taught, to dozens and dozens of new coders. Why should they have to re-invent the wheel?

              The recognition of patterns in software — nobody can patent the Singleton pattern, though given the recent fracas around the patent wars, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone try. Bill Gates and other jackasses of his sort have been nothing but an impediment to progress, trying to hold onto handfuls of sand and dust that eventually slips out of their clenched fists anyway.

              I have no idea what sort of products you sell, but in my world, where money and healthcare data and military data flows through the plumbing I build, nobody wants a closed system. It all has to talk across the wire, using protocols anyone can implement.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You’ve managed to muddle about five different concepts here. Let’s take them one at a time:

                * License:
                A license is the terms under which you’re allowed to use a piece of software. Under a commercial license, you can use it only if you’ve paid for that right. Stallman does disapprove of that, very much, as witness this screed on why not to release your code under the LGPL (which would allow it to be used as part of a commercially-licensed product):

                Proprietary software developers, seeking to deny the free competition an important advantage, will try to convince authors not to contribute libraries to the GPL-covered collection. For example, they may appeal to the ego, promising “more users for this library” if we let them use the code in proprietary software products. Popularity is tempting, and it is easy for a library developer to rationalize the idea that boosting the popularity of that one library is what the community needs above all.

                * Copyright:
                Copyright is the principle which allows software to be licensed: it’s owned by its creator (or the creator’s assignees), who can limit the purposes for which it’s used. Every software license, including open source licenses like GPL (which allows all non-commercial use) and Apache (which allows all sorts of use, so long as Apache gets credit for it) relies on copyright. That is, no one in the world wants to get rid of it, including Stallman, as you can see from what I’ve quoted above.

                What forces people to, as you say, re-invent the wheel, is the patent system, which I agree is badly broken (I don’t know anyone who disagrees.) It’s possible to get a patent on something that’s obvious, or trivial, or was common practice at the time the patenter “invented” it,. Coding is a constant process of inventing things, small and large, and similarly clever people will come up with the same ideas over and over. The fact that the first one who thinks to patent it can sue the others is idiotic, and the result a colossal waste of time, money, and energy.

                Disclaimer: I hold a patent, but I have no interest in enforcing it.

                * Support:
                Yes, companies like RedHat make their living packaging, redistributing, and supporting Linux. This has nothing to do with licensing. They’re selling the services, not the software. (This is, by the way, one of Stallman’s approved ways of making a living from software, along with selling T-shirts.)

                * Standards:
                Many closed-source, proprietary systems adhere to standards that let them speak “over the wire”:

                ** The Oracle database speaks SQL, and Oracle provides JDBC drivers that make it easy for Java programs to communicate with it. Likewise almost any other commercial database you can name.
                ** Microsoft’s .NET framework will construct programs (servers and clients) the speak fluent SOAP and REST.
                ** Gmail, which is anything but open source, speaks both POP and IMAP, to allow it to be used by alternative e-mail clients (I’m currently using the Mac client, but considering switching to Thunderbird.)

                To sum up:

                Support for copyright is unanimous, as is the belief in licensing. Stallman disapproves of commercial licenses; since I want to be paid for what I produce, I disagree. There’s money to be made in supporting free software, but it’s not what I do. The software patent system is badly broken, and I’d be glad to see them abolished. Conforming to widely used standards is a good thing.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I haven’t muddled anything. You’re speaking nothing but truth when it come to the details but you’re missing the point I’m trying to make. Commercial, closed-source software is the bane of my existence. It’s a stupid way of doing business. It’s neither secure nor is it reliable. It creates vendor lock-in, always a bad strategy. It creates inadvertent obstacles to upgrades. Support is uniformly terrible: my girlfriend is in a quandary at this very moment. Installing the MSFT .NET toolchain always damages her ability to do Windows updates, especially the security modules, which always hang on updates, forcing her to shut the machine down cold. In a Linux world, I’d be able to recompile and achieve compliance with the kernel.

                Open source platforms have come to dominate in ways we could never have predicted at the outset: I can turn an IBM mainframe into a galaxy of Linux instances, all the while supporting the old COBOL apps. Open source operating systems have become the reference platform for development, testing and production environments in my part of the world, where I must make hostile systems communicate with each other over established transmission and security protocols.Report

          • Freeman in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I hear ya’ brother!

            $ uname -a
            Linux Ubuntu10 2.6.32-44-generic #98-Ubuntu SMP Mon Sep 24 17:27:10 UTC 2012 x86_64 GNU/LinuxReport

          • MikeSchilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

            529 $ uname -a
            Darwin Mikes-MacBook-Pro.local 11.4.2 Darwin Kernel Version 11.4.2: Thu Aug 23 16:25:48 PDT 2012; root:xnu-1699.32.7~1/RELEASE_X86_64 x86_64

            Because I don’t have time to look for the kernel patch that makes this sound card work with that hacked-up obsolete version of iTunes.Report

          • kenB in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Weird, when I do that, all I get is:

            C:\>uname -a
            ‘uname’ is not recognized as an internal or external command,
            operable program or batch file.

            Mine must be broken.Report

      • zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

        The legal term is ‘first sale doctrine.’ If you purchase the book/record/CD, etc., you physically own it, and have the right to sell it.

        Electronic media has, thus far, circumvented First Sale Doctrine with end-user agreements; essentially, when you click that box saying you’ve read the end-user agreement, you’ve contractually agreed to give up your First Sale Doctrine rights. Essentially, it’s a way for publishers to get around the losses they face from the likes of used book stores and record stores, and the legality of it rests on (1) a contract you’ve agreed to, and (2) when you sell the book, record, DC, etc., you’re selling your physical copy; this is not guaranteed with digital media; there can always be another copy.

        I design fashions for hand-knitters, I don’t sell knit items, I sell instruction to make those knit items; my product is a PDF down load, purchased over the internet. Like most designers in my business, my products are sold as non-refundable, because there’s no way to return a PDF.

        There Supreme Court will hear a case on First Sale Doctrine, involving text books:

        In general, IP law lags far behind the problems of intelectual property rights in the digital age. And I don’t expect things to get better any time soon. But back in the day, the price of a blank casette tape included royalties for musicians on the presumption you were going to bootleg music with that tape. At least we’re not (yet) being forced to pay taxes for digital copyright violation when we pay our ISP’s bill each month.Report

        • zic in reply to zic says:

          edit: first line of last graf should be digital and global. Berne convention and all that. (Do you have any notion of how much music we can’t hear because of the Berne Convention — unless we download it illegally. Can’t buy it here; market’s closed.)Report

  4. Rothko says:

    Say what?Report

  5. Noah Smith says:

    I enjoy walking “Captain” David Ryan and his mom on leashes, side by side, completely naked except for ball gags…Report

  6. Damon says:

    This is why I’ve not purchased an e-reader. I want what I “purchase” to be mine and I don’t want to boot up the machine one day to find my stuff has been deleted. I’ll stick to hard copies for the moment.Report