Chad Perrin: SOB

20 December 2007

I agree: Lane Hartwell should issue an apology.

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 03:01

So, Lane Hartwell is just trying to protect herself and the “commons”.


She’s trying to protect a government-granted monopoly. She’s using force by proxy to ensure that people cannot dispose of things in their possession as they see fit. It’s no more or less than that.

Shelley Powers says:

Perhaps because we have a knee jerk reaction to the term, DMCA, we tar and feather any use. However, Lane trying to protect the integrity of her photography is not the same thing as Disney trying to preserve the Mouse in perpetuity.

Oh, but it is the same. It’s the same because it’s protectionism in both cases. It’s the same because the DMCA is wrong in its entirety. The relevant facts of the matter are not, in this case, related in any way to the fact that one of them is a huge, faceless (other than that mousy face) corporation and the other is some poor starving “artist”.

If we overreact about copyright abuses from corporations to the point where we deny the validity of copyright for individuals

. . . then we’ll just have to deal with the greater liberty of a free market. Oh, the horrors!

reacting petulantly, even violently at being denied our goodies

. . . sounds like the way people behave when someone copies a series of on/off instructions for a computer — bits, in other words — without “permission”. The petulant tantrums here are thrown by those who:

  1. realize that they’re not being paid for transactions in which they have no part, and
  2. can’t stand it.

They’re thrown by people who feel frustrated in their efforts to control the state of others’ computers, the ability of others to articulate notions they have in their heads, and to otherwise interfere with the “natural forces” of economics through coercive application of power.

Do you think you understand the real implications of copyright law? If you think so, you can test it by considering this question:

Should a man who owns a monkey that randomly bangs away on a keyboard, but manages to produce an entire modern work of fiction every three weeks of effort, go to jail?

I’ve got another question you can use to test your understanding. I call it O’Rourke’s Legislation Test, because it’s derived from something P. J. O’Rourke said:

Is it important enough for this legal provision (in this case, the DMCA provision used by Lane Hartwell) to be enforced that you would have your grandmother shot to achieve that end?

You may have to imagine your grandmother printing out birthday cards with an image culled from a Google image search printed on them, then imagine her resisting arrest when she’s caught, for that one to make sense.

Okay, one more.

Imagine for a moment you happen to have taken a photo at the same time of day, the same time of year, in the same location, of the same objects, under the same weather conditions, and from the same angle, as someone else. You have no idea the other person or that person’s photograph even exist. Your only existing copy of the photo is digital, on a backup CD. You have no proof you didn’t get the photo from the other person. Should you go to jail?

Lookie here. No analogies. I’m not doing the tired old “If I build a simple wooden chair, should I have to pay a royalty to the first person in history to build a similar chair?” this time.

It utterly galls me that I have to abide by such a ridiculous protectionist racket like copyright law just to maintain some appearance of respectability in the eyes of you monopolistic wankers out there. I’d certainly be violating copyright quite a bit, with zero guilt, if it wasn’t for the fact that I find the task of convincing people of the faults of copyright law so important — and if I could be as effective at it without abiding by copyright law. Instead, I — someone who realizes the unethical, absurd nature of copyright law — have to be one of its most diligent observers just to get ass-weasels like TR user RV to stop using those “You’re just a thief [sic] trying to justify your theft!” so-called arguments. It really burns me up, y’know.

As for the Lane Hartwell issue itself, things get even more ridiculous because of the fact that she’s making threatening noises at the Richter Scales for an act covered by fair use. In other words, in this case it wasn’t even copyright violation. In other words, what she’s doing is worse than Disney’s protection of the mouse. It’s more like what the RIAA and MPAA are trying to do: she’s engaged in trying to destroy legal protections of the fair use doctrine.

One more quote from Shelley Powers:

There’s also a thing in the commons called an ‘apology’.

Yeah. Let’s hope that, after consulting her lawyer, Lane Hartwell issues an apology.

PS: Shelley, there’s a very clear legal distinction between theft and copyright infringement. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Please stop referring to copyright infringement as “stealing”. The fact that it is not “stealing” is clear fact, not a matter of opinion — and it isn’t even related to my difference of opinion with you on whether or not copyright law is a good idea.


  1. This makes no sense. Out of curiosity, I just spent 15 minutes trying to understand the backstory to this. I am still baffled.

    What precisely has Lane Hartwell done that she should apologize for? Is this a reference to the lawsuit thing (which appears to be rumor) or her negotiating for payment for the use of her photo (which appears to be true). All I see is that a picture of her was used in some video without her permissions. Someone started a rumor that she sued the videomakers, she herself claims that she did not sue the videomakers, but is “negotiating” with them.

    I am just confused… that’s the danger about blogging about blogs about blogs about blogs. :)


    Comment by Justin James — 20 December 2007 @ 07:22

  2. Also of note is that nothing I read mentioned the use of the Billy Joel song… I would imagine that a man whose name is trademarked and who has a record company with lawyers at his disposal would chime in on this…


    Comment by Justin James — 20 December 2007 @ 07:24

    1. Lane Hartwell acted offended that “her” material was used without permission. By “her”, I mean something for which she tries to control copying and distribution when it has passed well beyond her possession.
    2. She was told by the Richter Scales that they consulted with a lawyer to be certain of their standing, in that their use of the material was covered by the doctrine of fair use.
    3. Lane Hartwell decided to consult with her own lawyer.
    4. She started “negotiating” for $foo, for some value of $foo. By “negotiating”, I mean she’s trying to scare/threaten the Richter Scales into paying her for their use despite the fact it is (at least in principle — and it’s the principle that counts for determining right and wrong) covered by fair use.
    5. Thus, Lane Hartwell is doing her best to erode fair use, just like the MPAA and RIAA, just so she can squeeze a few dollars out of someone — for her own amoral(1), materialistic convenience.

    re: Billy Joel . . .

    Maybe he realizes he shouldn’t go after some relative nobodies who aren’t making a fortune selling their work for something covered by fair use.

    (1) = There needs to be a word related to “ethics” equivalent to how “amoral” relates to “morals”. Maybe “anethic” . . . ?

    Comment by apotheon — 20 December 2007 @ 12:43

  3. I’m not sure I can blame Hartwell as much as I blame Congress (and the RIAA/MPAA) for creating this mess in the first place.

    I mean, you publish these blog entries under your own license. What action would you take if someone violated the terms of that license with regard to your content?

    Similarly, if Hartwell had her own license, or terms of use for her images, would she not have legal rights to go after violators of those terms?

    Put another way, is the greater evil the assertion of rights (which can be granted by contract), or the law which creates a violation of others’ rights?

    Comment by Brian Martinez — 21 December 2007 @ 02:00

  4. I’m not sure I can blame Hartwell as much as I blame Congress (and the RIAA/MPAA) for creating this mess in the first place.

    I never said I blame her as much as Congress (et alii).

    I mean, you publish these blog entries under your own license. What action would you take if someone violated the terms of that license with regard to your content?

    Conveniently, copyfree licensing doesn’t generally require enforcement. It’s designed to grant protections to people who use, study, modify, and distribute software from people who would otherwise attempt to prevent them from doing so — and nothing more. As such, if someone “violates” the terms of the license, this basically means that they’re trying to sue someone for violating copyright restrictions that are made null and void by the license — so the defendant has only to produce the copyfree licensing in court as proof there was no wrongdoing.

    Similarly, if Hartwell had her own license, or terms of use for her images, would she not have legal rights to go after violators of those terms?

    I tend to refer to things provided by law without being strictly ethical as “privileges”, not “rights”.

    The fact that I use a license of my own making is not the key point here so much as the fact that my license is designed only to protect the rights of the individual to dispose of what he or she possesses as he or she sees fit. If Lane Hartwell’s hypothetical license did the same thing, that’d be fine. It obviously doesn’t, however. Instead, she would evidently prefer a license that attempts to maintain control of something even after it’s “sold”.

    For the record, I’m not talking about anyone’s legal “right”. I’m talking about ethical rights.

    Put another way, is the greater evil the assertion of rights (which can be granted by contract), or the law which creates a violation of others’ rights?

    1. They’re not rights if they’re entirely predicated upon the prior restraint effects of copyright law.

    2. There’s no contract involved in this case. The Richter Scales agreed to no contract terms before the images were made available to them.

    3. The law is created by people. We need to deal with the people who create and enforce those laws as though they are somehow protection of “rights”, as well as those who hide behind them to interfere with the rights of others. I’m not just interested in assigning ultimate blame — I’m interested in stating who’s in the right and in the wrong in this specific case, and in pointing out that the person in the wrong should not be defended for that.

    4. Lane Hartwell’s actions, if she doesn’t back off now that she’s aware of fair use provisions (since evidence seems to suggest that she wasn’t aware of them), are worse than just quiet complicity with a broken, unethical system. If she keeps at it now, she’s on the same page ethically as the RIAA and MPAA — fighting against fair use protections. The fact that, as a single individual, she’s unlikely to cause as much damage as the RIAA and MPAA can doesn’t change the fact that her intent would pretty clearly be the same — and, thus, no less bad.

    Comment by apotheon — 21 December 2007 @ 03:11

  5. Ahh, OK! This makes much more sense now!

    The term you are looking for is “Chaotic Neutral”. Ack. I just showed a nasty piece of my ancient history, knowing what that means…


    Comment by Justin James — 25 December 2007 @ 07:54

  6. “Ancient history”? Just yesterday I was playing a character whose alignment is Chaotic Good.

    For what, exactly, do you think the term “chaotic neutral” should apply? I’m afraid I didn’t catch your intended meaning.

    Comment by apotheon — 27 December 2007 @ 04:19

  7. I was proposing “chaotic neutral” as a possible term to mean the ethical version of “amoral”. :)


    Comment by Justin James — 30 December 2007 @ 11:00

  8. Oh! Yeah, got it now. Wow. Sorry about that. I seem to have just completely forgotten my own comments on needing an ethical equivalent of “amoral”.

    CN might be exactly what I need for that, I guess — though I suspect that the L/N:G/E two-axis value judgment system probably doesn’t measure precisely the right thing to refer to a state of avoiding ethical reasoning and valuation. I’ll have to think more about that.

    . . . and yes, I really am that big a geek, darnit. I will ponder the applicability of D&D alignments to the matter of identifying an ethical perspective.

    Comment by apotheon — 30 December 2007 @ 02:56

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License