Re: The Perils of Copyright

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Posted by Michael Brazier on February 09, 19100 at 02:31:27:

In Reply to: Re: The Perils of Copyright posted by Anders Sandberg on February 07, 19100 at 16:52:21:

: My take on it would be that Nova takes copyright very, very seriously. You are
: your media image, and people mainly create information of various kinds -
: hence copyright violations are theft of the worst kind. Using AI it might
: even be possible to scan the net for violations, something that hampers RL
: copyright enforcement.

: Atlantis is another fairly clear case, they have practically no copyright
: or patent system. This is mainly based on various rants I have overheard on
: libertarian forums :-) The idea is that instead of preventing people from
: copying stuff, just come up with new stuff faster so that yesterday's stuff
: is obsolete.

_That_ is going to produce serious trouble between Nova and Atlantis, somewhere
down the line.

Incidentally, with Atlantis having no IP law to speak of, I would expect
Atlantean engineering to employ obfuscation and anti-tampering measures as a
matter of routine. The more time one's competitors have to spend on reverse
engineering one's product, the more time one has to sell that product, and to
improve on it in private.

: I guess New America is somewhere in between. It is an information economy,
: but not as extreme as Nova or as unrestricted as Atlantis. I don't really know
: how intellectual property would be handled there (since it is so much like the
: real world, where I'm also uncertain about how things ought to work).

I'd assume that New America's IP laws are a streamlined version of the current
IP laws, with the present-day controversies resolved sensibly. My guess at
the basic principles would be:

Information is divided into three categories: artwork, instrument, and fact.
Artworks are creative efforts that exist for their own sake; they can be protected
by copyrights, for a period of several decades. After this period expires an
artwork goes into the public domain, and even during the period a "fair use"
proviso allows others to make short excerpts from the artwork without explicit
permission from the copyright holder.
Instruments are creative efforts that exist to serve a purpose, not for their
own sake; they can be protected by patents for a period of several years. An
instrument, like an artwork, goes into the public domain once the patent period
expires, but there is no "fair use" proviso.
Facts are not the result of a creative effort; they are discovered, not invented
or composed. Facts cannot be protected at all; a compilation of facts (as in a
textbook or encyclopedia) can be copyrighted under the same terms as artworks.
For instance, a computer game is an "artwork"; the engine for that game is an
"instrument"; the algorithms used by the engine are "facts".

: Arcadia is rather communitarian. I would imagine a more relaxed but credibility
: based system, a bit like the open source community. You may copy things, but
: pay the shareware fee or at least acknowledge the originator. Otherwise you
: shame yourself and your hive.

: Ridgewell and Dionysos might be something like this too, or a bit more like
: the current system.

Ridgewell, with its "family" mindset, would have laws like Arcadia's, yes. But
Dionysos doesn't seem to have the communal bias needed for that; they would
likely keep our modern system, without the New American refinements. (Unlike
New America, Dionysos hasn't been a peaceful place, and imperfections in IP law
would not have seemed important when graver issues loomed.)

: Gaia and Negsoa doesn't have the problem at all.

Nor would Pi3: society isn't complex enough for the issue to arise.

: : For example, let's assume a Nova citizen travels to another colony, and
: : takes along an AI he owns personally, or one owned by a company he works
: : for. What is the AI's legal status in the various colonies? And what
: : happens to a copy of the AI, if it's created outside the Nova system?

: Exactly. Themis has designs along these lines - when I ran the campaign, it
: bought citizenship on Atlantis and went on to make quite a nice business
: career. But I guess Nova companies would regard it as a foreign pirate version...
: However, this mixes AI rights into the copyright problem too, making it a total
: mess.

True enough. Intuitively, at the start of contact only Nova would have laws
specifically for AIs, since Nova's the only place where AIs exist at all. The
other colonies would probably regard an AI as simply a computer program, and
treat it accordingly. However, this is _very_ likely to change as time passes,
especially on New America and Atlantis where freedom is much valued and slavery
abhorrent. (In the official timeline, it appears, Atlantis began treating AIs
as legal persons, capable of signing contracts, sometime late in 2351.)

: : Or assume a case of technological "theft" between colonies -- someone
: : learns a useful technique on one colony, then goes to another and sets up
: : a business around that technique. Would the inventor be able to assert a
: : legal claim against this person? Could the "thief", contrariwise, lock
: : out any subsequent importers of the technique?

: I think that it depends on what system could be set up to deal with these
: interstellar law matters. This is one of the big things for the Process and
: other groups wanting to influence the human sphere to do - without some kind
: of interstellar law things can quickly get out of hand.

But would the Process see the necessity for it? They are, after all, based from
Atlantis, where IP is non-existent. Writing a latter-day Berne convention and
getting all the colonies to agree to it feels much more like a Columbus Project
enterprise; it's political, not commercial, and the Process seems to focus more
on the commercial. (Witness Promonss, the interstellar currency exchange and
the Process' first major project.) Though obviously, once the negotiations
started, the Process would want to participate...

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