The President's challenge

What more does government want — or deserve — from the tech world?

There’s an old joke. Heavy rains start and a neighbour pulls up in his truck. “Hey Bob, I’m leaving for high ground. Want a lift?” Bob says, “No, I’m putting my faith in God.” Well, waters rise and pretty soon the bottom floor of his house is under water. Bob looks out the second story window as a boat comes by and offers him a lift. “No, I’m putting my faith in God.” The rain intensifies and floodwaters rise and Bob’s forced onto the roof. A helicopter comes, lowers a line, and Bob yells “No, I’m putting my faith in God.”

Well, Bob drowns. He goes to Heaven and finally gets to meet God. “God, what was that about? I prayed and put my faith in you, and I drowned!”

God says, “I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell more did you want from me?”

As SOPA looks shakier, the President handed a challenge to the technical community:

“Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue Web sites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders,” reads Saturday’s statement. “We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge.”

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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  • Zombax

    You automated our factories – which took our jobs.
    You automated our travel agents – which took our jobs.
    You automated buying books – and closed our bookstores.
    You gave us automated checkout machines at shopping centers – which took our jobs.
    You automated our skilled radiologists work – which took our jobs.
    You automated our accounting – which took our jobs.
    You gave us open source – and took away your own ability to make a living writing code – by allowing people in India and China to do that much cheaper for us.
    You automated our lives away.
    You see a person with a job and you think “how can I take that job from them and replace it with a computer”

    You didn’t replace them with anything. You just though that you have a $%^&*%$ great idea about how to make things more efficient. More *disruptive*

    It isn’t the 1% who destroyed the middle class. It was you. The IT nerds. You constantly look at ways to “disrupt” our society so you can get some more silicon valley stock options.

    Unemployment will rise – because you don’t give us new jobs – you just take away our old ones.

    Pat yourself on the back Gnat as you destroy another industry. You’re the $%^&*%$ problem.

  • Rich

    Somehow, I think Zombax isn’t going to get an invite to Warkworth any time soon…

  • Josh

    So go join the Amish Xombax. It’s called progress. Did the railroad take jobs from chuckwagons? Why the hell did we build that railroad? That sure killed America’s prosperity, didn’t it? Everything you mentioned being automated and stealing jobs is a great blessing! Creative inteligent people with wisdom utilize the inventions of progress to increase their prosperity, fools complain about it on the internet.

  • slowblink

    my contribution, from the technical community, is to get the companies representing rights holders to hire clever technical executives to complement the current executive made up of lawyers, marketers and sales people.

  • http://nathan.torkington.com/ Nat Torkington

    Zombax, there’s more money and more product than ever floating around the creative industries. What did we destroy? Photocopiers didn’t kill books–the technology became laser printers and print on demand, which is saving money for publishers. Your emotional reaction doesn’t seem to be fact-based.

  • Paul

    As somebody living in New Zealand, I really do wish that Big Media would understand what they have in the form of the Internet. They ought to follow the likes of Louis CK: make content available easily, for a reasonable price, to anybody who wants it – no matter where in the world they are. Don’t make me wait months (or even years) and then pay three times the price for the content, just because I don’t happen to live in the USA.

    Let me pay for your content and have access to it when my friends in the USA can get hold of it, and I’ll gladly pay you a reasonable price for it – as long as I don’t have to jump through several flaming hoops and put up with overly-restrictive DRM that prevents me from consuming the content I’m paying for on the devices I want to consume it on.

  • http://futurescale.com Cliff Hall

    @Josh While Zombax may seem clueless to “inteligent people with wisdom” (presumably interweb insiderz like us), his or her stance is clearly one of conviction.

    Zombax’s response should be a splash of cold water on the face of the “IT Nerds” that wakes them up to the fact that their existence would be impossible except for loads of people on the outside of the tech bubble doing the jobs we’d rather not do ourselves. It doesn’t make them less intelligent, it simply means they chose not to work in our field.

    By dismissing people outside the bubble rather than attempting to understand them and reason with them, you end up with problems like SOPA. Legislators who know very little about the Internet are trying to pass a law that will supposedly “break the Internet”.

    Which is the more reasonable approach: condem those people by telling each other how stupid we think they are on FaceBook and putting banners on our Twitter avatars, or by reaching out to them and the rest of the public with a rational discourse that explains in clear terms just exactly *how* SOPA “breaks the internet”?

    Engage and inform or or dismiss and deride?

  • Ross Stapleton-Gray

    Zombax’s rage is misdirected; when containerization turned an all-day job for hundreds of stevedores into one where a single crane operator can move ten times the tonnage, we ought to have rejoiced (not leastwise for the many fewer broken backs), but we also ought to have envisioned the future of work and community, and taken steps to plow some of that increased productivity into an aggregate better life for all. Don’t beat up the technologists, beat up the demagogues demanding the freeing of all markets (and especially of labor) so that they can buy it a la carte, impoverish the larger part of a workforce that ought to be sharing in our collective advance, and shuffle work like a three-card Monte game to dodge paying living wages or benefits.

  • HarryB

    You didn’t give them the Internet. It was given to you courtesy of the US Government and its taxpayers, who paid the freight for it’s original development.. The TCP/IP protocols and what became the Internet were originally developed for the US Department of Defense, who at the time were looking for a network architecture that was adept at reacting to and routing around failures.

  • http://nathan.torkington.com/ Nat Torkington

    HarryB: the US Government did not invent the Internet. It funded researchers who did. Researchers who were technologists. Not politicians, not content creators, not record labels, not Hollywood moguls, not Rupert Murdoch.

  • HarryB

    Nat: I don’t recall saying the US Government invented the Internet.

    You are correct that the technologists did and some probably did have altruistic intent. But fact is that they and a number of government contractors were paid handsomely by Uncle Sam for their efforts.

    But that was then in different times and this is now.

    BTW, I am not a proponent of SOPA…far from it…just saying where the Internet came from, no more, no less.

  • gregorylent

    “intellectual property” as a concept is a protection racket for systems of distribution …

    it needs to end

  • Roger Weeks

    Dear Zombax, or should I say my dear troll?

    Are you sufficiently brain dead that typing a ranting screed of that kind while using a computer and open source software didn’t tickle at least a little bit of your neurons that say “Hey, I’m not only being a complete prat, but I’m criticizing the very infrastructure that allows me to do what I’m doing?”

    If the irony is still lost on you, I have some more specious arguments to make in the same vein as yours.

    You invented cars, which took away all the jobs of the carriage makers, wheelwrights and buggy whip manufacturers.

    You invented light bulbs, which took away all the jobs of those chandlers, candlestick makers, whale hunters and lamplighters.

    You discovered antibiotics, which took away all the jobs of those apothecaries, witch doctors, quacks and other folk remedists.

    You named all the elements and figured out the atomic structure of matter, which took away all the jobs of those alchemists and natural philosophers.

    You invented the cotton gin, the thresher, the internal combustion engine, the tractor, and all the other automated farm implements that took away all those jobs that slaves and children were doing.

    You invented the steamship, which took away all the dangerous jobs that sailors were doing on ships with sails.

    You discovered agriculture and irrigation, which took away all those jobs that the hunter/gatherers used to have.

    I could go on and on and on, but since you’re apparently against all progress mankind has ever made, it would probably be a waste of space, as I’m sure you’re not reading this thread after your initial troll.

  • tom jones

    this Cory Doctorow speech might be relevant to your interests: The coming war on general computation

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HUEvRyemKSg

  • Roger Weeks

    Ok, ok, one more.

    You discovered fire and evolved a bigger brain, which took away the jobs of all those poor australopithecenes.

    Won’t someone please think of the hominids? Those poor helpless hominids!?!

  • http://twitter.com/jokeyrhyme JokeyRhyme

    We still have not seen any proof that the content industry is in dire straits and desperately needs new laws to protect it. If anything, they seem to be one of the few industries to not have suffered from the GFC much at all. How does one small industry bully the USA to bully the rest of the world into adopting these crazy laws?

    My suggestion to the White House would be to dial back all the new copyright laws they’ve signed for the last 2 decades. They are completely unnecessary.

    What is necessary is for the content industry to take a long hard look at itself. Piracy is not a law problem, it’s a business model problem.

  • ralphhhenson

    With all due respect, Al Gore gave us the Internet!

  • Radd

    Zombax wants factories – which were the beginning of automation, not the victim of it, themselves taking the jobs of skilled artisans who took products from start to finish alone.
    Zombax wants travel agents – why have access to information yourself when you can pay someone else to look it up for you?
    Zombax wants mega-bookstores back – the ones that previously killed all the small mom-and-pop shops and replaced them with lowest-common-denominator warehouses that lack any soul.
    Zombax wants cashiers back – not “shop owners”, “cashiers”… because Zombax loves shopping in mega-stores with actual people running registers, never mind that those mega-stores also killed the previous industries of small business.
    Zombax apparently hates IT progress in medicine too – give him leeches.
    Zombax hates calculators – give him an abacus.
    Can we go on? Sure… but why bother?

    Zombax… yelling at the latest trend in automation and advancement in order to protect the last wave of automation and advancement is purely absurd. Beyond which… accountants and travel agents? Really?

    There’s certainly some argument to be made about returning to the trees and shaking off our clothes… finding some perfect equilibrium with a point in our past, if that’s your thing. But please, stop pretending that last year’s progress was somehow the magical point that didn’t tread on the previous year. Every one of your “high points” was a progress over a previous status quo that also destroyed some tradition and/or job.

    Without constantly progressing automation and advancement, you’d not have the computer you just typed your rant into.

    Progress: it ushers in the new at the cost of the old. Not ONE item in your list would exist without it, so save your condemnation of it.

  • Jose Munoz

    Here’s the problem with your argument.

    You’re not bringing anything to the table. You don’t have a suggestion or a solution to a problem, real or imaginary, is perceived to exist. A problem that lawmakers, in their vast ignorance, feel a need to fix because those who pay for them demand a solution.

    So when asked for help for a good solution, your response is…well…nothing.

    The real problem is we need people to step up and make good policy and good suggestions. Those people should come from the tech community rather that letting the RIAA or MPAA dictate the tone and shape of the conversation. This will be legislated sooner or later. I would think that you and other technologists would rather be part of the solution and discussion then standing at the sidelines shouting at the wind.

    Cheers,

    Jose

  • Aatch

    I think the most annoying thing is that we have been giving them solutions and ideas for years.

    “Let people buy the content on their own terms, if it’s too expensive to make that content, scale down or increase efficiency”

    “All of the content, all of the time, for a reasonable price”

    “Convenience+Price trumps pirating any day of the week”

    I could go on… On another article, on a similar subject, me and another commenter actually managed to develop the outline of a system:
    Digital Distribution
    Scale price to received quality
    Worldwide

    That was it… We worked out that if you sold a movie to 5% of the movie-watching population (which we estimated at a conservative 1.5 billion worldwide), at $5 each, you would make over $600,000,000. If $5 represented your lowest-level, then you’d make easily double that.

    Those figures also don’t take into account box-office figures, which often eclipse the costs of making a movie.

    (For reference, according to wikipedia the most expensive movie ever made was Pirates of the Caribbean, At Worlds End, at $300,000,000. It made $960,000,000 at the box office)

  • George

    What does SOPA or PROTECT do that DMCA cannot do?

    It makes shutting down “offenders” much cheaper, no need to go to court and get a court order.

    This way, the media defenders can go after even the lower valued pirates…. you know, the ones that are still “destroying” the movie and music industry by running some copyrighted song in the background of a YouTube clip.

  • Tony Williams

    HarryB, you say “developed for the US Department of Defense, who at the time were looking for a network architecture that was adept at reacting to and routing around failures”
    and I have to argue with you.

    This is a common myth but contains little truth. The network was never asked for by the DOD but by researchers at ARPA and it’s fault tolerance was designed in more because of a lack of link reliability than anything the DOD might have wanted.

    Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET#Misconceptions_of_design_goals

    This is probably the most common incorrect meme about the internet out there.

  • Anonymous

    Zombax – solution: get a job as an IT nerd.

  • paul

    Moving past the History of Human Progress (I would be in agreement with Zombax if I thought for a moment that anyone today wanted one of those jobs), why is the tech community’s problem to solve? It’s not a technology problem: it’s a business problem. It’s greed, myopia, stupidity, hubris, all wrapped in buck passing and finger pointing.

    The music industry is the one most often cited. Looking back to the early 80s when the CD came out, we the consumer were offered a smaller physical package with none of the artifacts that usually accompanied a music release — booklets, posters, pictures, artwork. All we got was a shiny disk and and case with a miniaturized version of the artwork we would have seen on a 12 inch vinyl release. At first they were expensive to make as new things often are but that changed as these things often do. But the prices didn’t. So the industry had smaller physical goods to sell for the same price of more, goods that were less fragile, that took up less space in stores, were easier to ship.

    And the prices stayed the same even as the market segment most likely to take chances on new format was the least able to cough up what they were asking. Once mp3 encoders came along, allowing people to take their music anywhere in identical quality or at whatever level of tradeoff they cared to make, the real pirates at the record labels missed a big opportunity.

    It’s worse with video, due to rights agreements and licenses that prevent customers from buying stuff, from paying money for things. What business wants to be in the business of turning away customers?

    There’s nothing the technology industry can do here. It’s a business problem. This is not a supply issue, it’s all about demand. If you reduce the demand for so-called pirated* goods, by making them available at a fair price, this problem goes away. Just as sensible people had realized that realistic drug policy means reducing demand and letting supply take care of itself, the media conglomerates need to take better care of their customers.

    * is it pirated if you have no intent of selling it on? I guess “stolen” is a more accurate term but again, it’s a bunch of 1s and 0s that people would pay for is they could, one that’s identical to the others that are being sold to people somewhere else, and that don’t reduce the overall supply of them, as each is reproducible. Can you steal something if I still have it? Unauthorized duplication, then: but who is empowered to authorize something of mine? Do I own it or not?

  • NormM

    I think the problem is that some bits are hard to produce but easy to copy. If we want those bits to continue to be produced, we need to find a way to pay the producers.

    One way is to put technical and legal obstacles in the path of copying the bits, and continue to pay for artificially expensive copies. A better path, though, is to find ways to pay directly for the production of bits we want.

    It seems to me that both of these models can coexist, and fight it out. In this case, the more burdensome they make the laws and DRM protecting IP, the more incentive there is to move to a model of directly paying the producers.

  • Nathan

    Make pay media more accessible on demand through the Internet. Eg: HBO Go without cable subscription. Need I say more? Wtf, is it not obvious?

  • Henk Poley

    @Zombax, look at the western countries with the lowest unemployment rates. I don’t think automation gives unemployment, it just means less people in braindead jobs.

  • Alex

    @Jose Munoz: “The real problem is we need people to step up and make good policy and good suggestions.”

    Here’s the good policy: do not create new laws to prop up businesses which are no longer relevant.

    Here’s the bad policy: make it illegal to do things which render some rich person’s business model obsolete.

    Here’s the good solution: develop tools to help people build good software, produce movies, and write books. Give them the tools to market those creative works to the world, and make it easy for the people who want to read those books, watch those movies or use that software to (a) acquire the product and (b) pay for it without any hassle.

    So to those people looking for a solution: we already have it in the form of Amazon, iTunes, Google and Microsoft markets.

    The harder the Government tries to bend people to the will of the no-value-middle-man, the harder the people will try to work around the middle-man.

  • Uga Buga Uga

    @zombax

    You own a horse pulled car?
    You still write on stone?
    You still use knob dialing phone or telegraph?
    You own cellphone?
    Electric light?
    TV?
    Personal Computer?

    Evolve man Or join those prehistoric amazonian communities!

    You use condoms or another contraceptive measure?
    Hope so! Cause humanity can’t handle more retards!

  • HarryB

    Tony: I may have not been too careful with my choice of words. ARPANET may not have originally been developed specifically because the DOD “asked” for it; however, it was DARPA that funded the development: “…The network was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and research laboratories in the US….” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET ).

    The bottom line is that the DOD was a proponent of and major source of funding for the research, development and deployment.

    I’m done now, no need to debate this further on my account.

  • WeAreThe37Percent

    Zombax’s comment is one of the funniest redneck rants I’ve heard this year. Kudos.

  • https://billstclair.com/blog/ Bill St. Clair

    Before going to the Pirate Bay for a torrent of something I want to see, I check Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon instant view. If I don’t find it, I conclude that they don’t want my money, and I download without guilt.

  • Fernando Lujan

    Zombax, if you are incompetent to the point a machine can take your job… Your job must be taken and you must evolve and do something better with your life… Zumbass!

  • airmanchairman

    All you arrogant IT types posting here about the onward march of progress and the need for people to stop living under rocks and in the 19th century, thing is you so-called modernisers never think outside the envelope of cost-cutting by de-manning and thereby increasing your own personal stock value.

    In other words, all you have contributed is Vision without Compassion, which just means that the world is no further evolved than the old and barbaric feudal medieval times, because guess what? With all your so-called innovation, the same winners and losers from over a thousand years ago are still entrenched in place – robber barons masquerading as royalty, the Church, the Mercantile class, the Military with you artisans propping them up.

    Onward march of progress my big fat toe…

  • SK

    Zambax, I’ll replace you with a shell script. And it will be quite a short one, due to heavily repetitive patterns in your output ;o)

  • John S

    Wow is the luddite convention today?

  • http://nateabele.com/ Nate Abele

    @airmanchairman: http://charitywater.org/

    I rest my case.

  • dc

    The President is asking for new ideas and solutions to a problem and Nat is upset about it? I don’t get it. Sounds to me like Nat should be writing for a political site and not a technology site.

    I think the better argument would be that the content companies need to get into the 21st century and come up with some solutions that consumers want. Constantly complaining that you’re being outsmarted by the internet got old in 1996…

  • http://www.digijolt.co Digijolt

    Lol! He posts rant and never comes back again

  • http://jordanhotmann.com jhotmann

    Zombax: people are inefficient so we “IT Nerds” make processes more efficient. See this graph here http://jhot.me/wDqVst

  • http://patagoniantruthfish.blogspot.com ptoothfish

    Great post, Nat.

    But people, please, stop feeding the troll.

  • Paul

    @dc: I think you’ll find that that’s precisely Nat’s point.

  • James

    Trucks, boats, and helicopters can be used to rescue people, but they can also be used to kill people. Tools are amoral and can be used for undesired ends to the same extent that they can be used for desired ends. I’m reminded of a quote from Harry Potter (paraphrasing):

    British PM: But you’re wizards!! Can’t you just use magic to fight the bad guys?
    Minister of Magic: Yes, but see, the bad guys can use magic too.

    Consider the options for legally getting music today: iTunes. Amazon. Android Market. Spotify. Pandora. Rhapsody. Etc. Can anyone say, with a straight face, that it is somehow hard to legally get music over the Internet? And yet there are still big sites dedicated to music piracy. Why? Because there is money to be made by giving away someone else’s IP for free.

    How many “trucks, boats, and helicopters” need to be built on the side of legal distribution before people will believe that, just maybe, some folks are using the same tools to break the law? And illegally suck value out of the U.S. economy?

    Tech entrepreneurs want to make every problem a product design problem, because product design is what they do and know. But public policy folks know that no matter how well-designed the truck is, there still needs to be traffic laws and traffic law enforcement.

  • Paul

    @James: iTunes is the only service of those you listed which is available to me – because I’m not in the USA. iTunes is not available to me, because my primary OS is not OSX or Windows and I don’t have an iDevice. They’re using the Internet as a delivery truck, but not the web as a storefront (only as a flier in your mailbox).

    Even if I were to use Windows (or OSX, but that’s hardly likely since I don’t own an iDevice of any sort) just so that I could use iTunes to purchase music, not all iTunes content is available to me because, once again, I don’t live in the USA.

    While the trucks, boats and helicopters exist, they’re out of my reach – mostly because of where I happen to live, which seems like a particularly stupid reason to discriminate online. The one vehicle that comes within range is a truck with a wheel missing – and the driver refuses to pick you up if you’re not in the “in” crowd.

  • http://hsteinhilber.blogspot.com Harry

    @James: In addition to Paul’s notes, there is one other thing. Not all content is made available on those services even in the USA. And that is in large part due to licensing issues created by the big media companies. So if content is limited just because a media company doesn’t want to make it “instantly available”, what is the logical reaction?

    Contrast that with a system where *all* content is permitted to be distributed through these systems. What if Netflix could stream *any movie ever made*, or iTunes had access to every song every recorded. A lot less reason to go the less than legal route.

  • Paul

    @Harry: If Netflix could stream any movie ever made (passing on royalties to the relevant rightsholders where appropriate), there’d still be a gaping hole: the global market, once again. Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Instant Video/etc are all unavailable here, primarily because the big media outfits won’t let them.

    Although they refuse to take our money in return for the media we want (simply because of where we live), they’ve still convinced our government to implement legislation which provides a way for them to have us fined (and possibly even have our internet connections cut off, if that clause is enabled later) for obtaining the content in the only way available to us. We’re apparently hurting them hugely by obtaining content they won’t let us pay them for.

  • James

    @Paul – That is a bummer but for me the context of this discussion is what the U.S. president said about a proposed U.S. law.

    @Harry – I also find it frustrating when the specific content I want is not available through legal channels. However if you check out piracy stats, the most pirated content is not obscure or hard-to-find stuff. It is generally broadly popular content, which is just as easily available through numerous legal channels (at least within the U.S.).

    I think Nat’s argument made a ton of sense in 2000 when it was Napster or nothing. Today there are many good alternatives (in the U.S. at least)…but piracy volumes have increased. For 12 years people have said “build better products and you’ll out-compete piracy,” but it has never happened.

    At some point we have to accept that a lot of people pirate stuff simply because it is free. How does a professional music ecosystem–which tries to get some money back to the artist–compete with that? It can’t. The technology is there; but the economic incentives are pointing the wrong way. That is exactly the sort of problem that public policy exists to solve. What is missing right now–what the president is asking for–are public policy suggestions from the tech industry.

  • matt

    “we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4….”

    What’s this “we” stuff?

  • peter

    @James

    Paul’s point is actually completely relevant to the SOPA/PIPA issue. Those policies and the “president’s challenge” are about cutting down foreign infringing sites, not domestic ones. So offering a solution like “make that material available to people in those foreign countries in an easily accessible and legal manner” seems like a pretty solid idea.

  • bowerbird

    well, um, pardon my impertinence (hi nat!),
    but what has me scratching my head is this:

    why is the president — the smartest one that
    you voters have put into office in decades –
    so misinformed that he wants us to work on
    snake-oil? you should tell him, unequivocally,
    it’s impossible to put the cat back in the bag,
    even if we wanted to, and we do not want to.

    -bowerbird

    p.s. excellent assertion, airmanchairman, and
    i cannot help but notice the silence it wrought,
    as opposed to the beating which zombax took.
    the fact is, the techies are working for the rich,
    and largely against the poor, probably because
    the beds are softer in the master’s mansions…
    “vision without compassion” — that says it all!

  • Steve

    More like ‘should have specified “…in a way that I deserve the Nobel Peace Prize by July;” and stood with a podium with citations in Q/R code, possibly citing a $217B bounty.’ Tech transfer deserves a certain amount of stability, even if you thought static DRAM cost too much for it. Likewise (for a reasonable media cost) an organism who passes (almost) all paternity (#maternity) tests is another kind of scoping problem. Not every industry can suss out $18B fabs and know they need a CMP license as opposed to some glass jars and a cross-license for timber road remediation seed rhizomes.

    Weren’t Alibaba and privacy profiles applications supposed to solve this?

    Certainly low-hanging fruit like burning negative-residual (should be) material like _All In The Family_ from domestic broadcast ATSC could go a ways toward stemming illicit import of BBC’s _The Residents_ (closer to 0 than less-than-zero.)

    @airmanchairman Cite that and compassion fixing that, or GTFO. Nice direct appeal to funding failure (as a human institution? Thanks, but⋯) Si vis pax, vivis snicker-snack.

  • Archer

    There is a valid point in @Zombax’s troll (and it is fair to call him a troll, if the boot fits…) brings up that everyone ignores is that not everyone is suited by intellect or temperament to be an IT nerd.

    Yes, we’ve been experiencing “progress,” but at an unprecedented rate. This wouldn’t be so bad if there were some way that the people whose jobs have gotten automated out of existence had some way to maintain some sort of standard of living, or at least some shred of dignity. But when your formerly skilled job (using skills you spent years acquiring) goes away never to return, what do you do? There are hundreds of applicants for each opening for Wal-Mart greeters.

    Solutions? I have some ideas, but they will never fly in today’s political climate.

  • Captain Obvious

    I think it is an obvious question that the President is asking that has nothing to do with your story. He is asking that the experts come to the table and help curb abuse of the internet. It not only sounds like a reasonable request, but the most obvious approach to find a solution to the problem.

  • chx

    “You gave us open source – and took away your own ability to make a living writing code” really? I didn’t get that memo. I am one of the lead developers of the open source Drupal project and I make a fine living writing code on top of it.

  • Doug Horne

    So easy it’s ridiculous.

    Just get all the content providers to make money doing the same thing … but better. The minute CBS starts streaming the games, I leave the pirate site and give CBS money … works like a charm. CBS provides a better image right from the source and apparently has the ability to get sponsors for the bandwidth … and they make money from ads.

    If you don’t want to use the model that is already established as being preferred by your customers AND profitable to the pirates, then perhaps you deserve to lose to the pirates (who have been clever enough to figure all of this out … what’s the matter with you “legitimate” business people)?

    And, yes this does work … it already works for lots of people.

    Let’s simplify it even more. If you can’t use a business model that is already established and pleases your customers, perhaps you don’t deserve to be in business. Perhaps you’re so dumb that you’re just handing your profits to the pirates.

  • Doug Horne

    … and this idea that everything is available through legitimate means is pure bunk. Going to the legitimate sites here in Canada is like shopping at the mall. Everything a 12 yr old would want can be found at iTunes. For an actual fan of music a tiny proportion of what anyone would want is found there. Heck, I even just wanted to watch Butterfield 8 or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (award winning films), and I can’t get them (our iTunes and Netflix selections are pretty limited). I don’t want to use Bittorrent, but I’m getting closer by the day.

    Give me a way to pay … I’m there.

  • Vincent Clement

    “Pat yourself on the back Gnat as you destroy another industry. You’re the $%&*#!$ problem.”

    So says the guy using an electronic device of some sort to post a comment on an online technology forum.

    Hypocrites are the $%&*#!$ problem.

  • IRememberThe80s

    Zombax, The internet was supposed to be liberating for the masses, to usher in a world of creativity and leisure. How were the inventors supposed to know that the masses would be too cowardly to take advantage of it – to let the advantages fall to less than 1% while the rest shook in their boots and worked (actually, most of the time pretended to work) 60 hour weeks out of nothing but sheer fear and cowardice?

    We all thought we were working to improve the human condition, not to make it worse.

    And in fact, the technology has created enough wealth and leisure that everybody at least in the US could reasonably work 24 hour weeks and live nice lifestyles, with enough jobs for all. It’s not the technology’s fault if the political system consists of the best politicians money can buy. If the politicians were even a little bit motivated like the internet pioneers, the world would be a lot different.

    So ultimately, nice intentions only go so far – people get what they deserve. In fact, they insist on getting it. Talk about 24 hour workweeks to your co-workers, they will throw you to the wolves with great glee while they take advantage of the implication how _they_ are the hard workers, as compared to you.