Even The Copyright Office Won't Obey Rules That Don't Make Sense In Reality

from the just-saying... dept

Law professor Rebecca Tushnet recently somewhat jokingly posted the following bit of irony that she found when going to the US Copyright Office for their hearings on DMCA exemptions:


law v. norms, or why anticircumvention law doesn’t work

At the Copyright Office, waiting for the hearings to begin. I did not interact with this setup in any way:




Now, this might just be a silly picture, showing how someone at the Copyright Office chose not to obey the “rule” that the door shouldn’t be propped open, but Tushnet’s “joke” about this showing why anticircumvention law doesn’t work, because societal norms trump the law every time, is an important and valuable point. The reason that there is so much infringement isn’t because the laws aren’t strong enough. It’s not because there needs to be more education or greater enforcement. It’s that people fundamentally don’t believe the laws make sense. Trying to block circumvention doesn’t work when the tools make it quite easy to circumvent, and the end result — propping open the door or being able to do what you want with the content you legally purchased — just makes too much sense. If only the folks at the Copyright Office recognized that this applies to a lot more than propping open a door, but to the area of the law that they constantly seek to expand.

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Comments on “Even The Copyright Office Won't Obey Rules That Don't Make Sense In Reality”

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34 Comments
PaulTsays:

Re:

Reality: a lawyer notices something that neatly illustrates why the current legal battles are not working and will never really work, and makes a joky blog post about it.

AC fantasy interpretation: lawyer is desperate and wants to drag people into nasty political games in order to further some unknown agenda.

Your world is a scary, strange place, fella. Join us in reality, it’s much nicer.

“Lawyer needs to stick to the law.”

…and I presume she is. Nobody else is sticking to it though, for the reasons she mentioned, which is kind of the point…

Anonymoussays:

Re:

It’s a joke, but you’d be surprised how often organisations are keen to repeat the lesson of, “If you can’t be trusted with the smaller procedures and rules how are people supposed to trust you with the larger ones?”. I don’t know why you think copyright should be exempt from all conventions of basic accountability and protocol.

TtfnJohnsays:

Re: Re:

I’m sure Mike wouldn’t mind. I’m sure these posts are covered by a Creative Commons license or are released to the public domain.

If they didn’t want to write it on the board, by hand please and not inside a “while” or “if then, else loop”, we could invite them to the next meeting of Freetards Revolutionary Front.

hfbssays:

Re: Re: You Realize ...

If there was a fire, the door would be closed, shutting off oxygen supply to the fire and reducing its spread.

That said, it’s conceivable that the door has to be propped open sometimes – say, for example, you’re carrying several heavy/cumbersome items through it and it’s nonsensical to close and open it every time. Or, perhaps there’s people either side of the door and need to communicate effectively and the closed door prevents that.

In short, yeah, it’s probably safer to keep it closed. But sometimes, it’s just inconvenient.

Not an Electronic Rodentsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: You Realize ...

Like anti-circumvention technology?

Well, except that a closed fire door has a large chance of fulfilling its stated function of slowing the spread of fire thus preserving life and anti-circumvention technology has a mathematically-indistinguisable-from-zero chance of fulfilling its stated function of preventing unauthorised use or copying… yes I guess so.

Anonymoussays:

nothing to do with copyright, lawyers should learn to stick to law, couple reasons come to mind, yeha, fire doors, or more likely air conditioning, different zones etc…

way to pick out something that has absolutely no bearing on your point of view, but in your pirate mindset, this makes perfect sense

lets also repeal speed limit laws, murder laws, well, hell, any law we dont like, cause “tools make it quite easy to circumvent”

Your pirate mindset is interferring with my right to do whatever I want with property you legally bought

Anonymoussays:

Re:

nothing to do with copyright, lawyers should learn to stick to law, couple reasons come to mind, yeha, fire doors, or more likely air conditioning, different zones etc…
way to pick out something that has absolutely no bearing on your point of view, but in your pirate mindset, this makes perfect sense

Learn to use quotation marks next time, hurricane head.

lets also repeal speed limit laws, murder laws, well, hell, any law we dont like, cause “tools make it quite easy to circumvent”

Where in the article was the repealing of laws mentioned?

Your pirate mindset is interferring with my right to do whatever I want with property you legally bought

If I legally buy something you don’t have a right to do whatever you want to it. First sale doctrine and all that. “Pirate mindset” has nothing to do with it.

I’m not sure if you’re the real hurricane head or trying to mimic him, but if you’re the latter, you’re doing a great job.

MPsays:

Analogy

Genuine question:
If we take this analogy further:
Should we abolish speed limits since nobody respects them anyway because they don’t believe they make sense? (= abolish copyright)

Or should we make it impossible to exceed speed limits with automatic speed limitation in all cars? (= limit technology that allows copyright infringement)

PaulTsays:

Re: Analogy

That’s something of a false dichotomy, don’t you think? There’s a lot of possibilities between the two extremes you posit.

It’s interesting that you pick speeding as an example, though. Most people will obey speed limits within reason (though few have problems going slightly over the speed limit, especially in quiet traffic and clear weather). As long as the limit is reasonable, people don’t mind following it.

You will notice, however, that people tend to get rather angry when it’s over-enforced, the fines are too high or they feel it’s being used as a revenue stream rather than to punish/deter offenders. They will indulge in civil disobedience, ranging from flaunting the speed limit, ignoring and fighting tickets, to even vandalising speed cameras. This is for a law that is put into place to save lives and increase road safety.

Now try to imagine why people don’t care for following rules that only translate to the profits of a corporation, especially where no legal options are presented. There’s definitely a lot of options they can try to stop this, but they have picked only one tactic so far – and it is failing miserably.

Berenerdsays:

Re: Analogy

using the speed limit thing is actually a good idea. In my life time, it was a Federal Speed limit of 55MPH. 55 stay alive! That was the max speed limit in the US. Now its 65, and now there is talk to bump it up to 75-80. As times change, cars can handle higher speeds and still meet the safety requirements needed. So as these change, so does the law.
Carry that over to IP laws and the like, these laws have not changed with the times, its trying to change contrary to the times. its trying to bring people BACKWARDS.

Lets do the murder one. Murder used to be illegal. Period, doesn’t matter what the reason was. Now it has exceptions such as self defense, accidental death. it works at trying to look at the not so black and white of it all.

silverscarcatsays:

Re: Analogy

“Should we abolish speed limits since nobody respects them anyway because they don’t believe they make sense? (= abolish copyright)”

Actually…

It’s been proven that not having speed limits doesn’t (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)

So, if we use your comparison…

Abolishing copyright would make for some awesome innovations, no?

silverscarcatsays:

Re: Re: Analogy

“It’s been proven that not having speed limits doesn’t (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)”

GUH! That’s what I get for posting so early in the morning!

It’s been proven that not having speed limits (on open highways/freeways) does NOT increase the chances of people getting killed in car accidents. Speed limits, on the other hand DO increase the chances of car accidents and deaths. (Again, on open highways/freeways)

There, that’s more accurate!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Analogy

no but maybe the consequences should be more reasoanble.

if i get caught doing 80 in a 50, ill be looking at a hefty, several hundred dollar fine and maybe some points on my license

on the other hand, if get caught sharing a few songs…. well you know how that ends

theres your stupid car analogy. still think it works?

and why are you comparing copyright infringement to murder?

Not an Electronic Rodentsays:

Re: Analogy

Should we abolish speed limits

Way to go with the false dichotomy. Yes absolutely the same… except completely differnt. But just to ruin an already crap anlogy even further, research tends to show that driving a little over the posted speed limit can in fact be statistically safer since posted limits often do not meet the 85th percentile speed for the road.

Anonymoussays:

An unscientific poll of 22 14-year-olds indicates they have little idea what copyright is and think suing people for sharing with friends is against everything they were taught in kindergarten. 15 used the word “stupid” at some point in the conversation.

These things called social norms, we teach them to our kids and then legislate against them.

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