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ErikH2000
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I've now written three, friggin' holy-roller essays on the sanctity of intellectual property. It's a subject that's been boring into my soul lately, because I keep running into these nice, normal, should-not-be-in-jail people that view the internet as a giant media freebie spree. It's extremely frustrating for me, because it's like somebody not understanding why they shouldn't stab me in the face. It's pretty obvious to me, after all, but how to explain why to somebody else?

My essays were each intended for this Illumination newsletter, but each basically failed to make a succinct and coherent case for why one ought to be respectful of what another creates. I think I bit off more than I can chew, or at least more than should fit inside of an Illumination post. I suppose we've got books like the Fountainhead for that kind of thing, so I probably shouldn't worry about it.

The problem with philosophy is that it's a terrible red herring. Any honest argument you make about what one ought to do will lead you back to philosophy: definitions of good and bad, right and wrong, and holy jeebus... epistemology. When you back all the way up to epistemology, you know you've hit rock bottom. So I often feel like I very badly want to convince people they ought to do one little thing, like not pirate computer games, for example. But in the end, I have to catch myself, because I know where the twisting arguments lead. Look deeper than all the clever debate scores you can make, and the coin comes up nihilism every time.

So I'll just make a quick little plea: spend two years working on something of your own design--a novel, an opera, a robot, something creative... I don't care. If you still feel like there should not be such a thing as intellectual property, I will respect your disagreement with my position. But often, the people making the case that every scrap of media in the world be free, have never created anything substantial of their own. So they never had the big "Mine" moment, and regrettably, aren't qualified to talk about what can and can't be owned.

I notice that it's the end of the month, the February Illumination hasn't yet been posted, and at least two people's creative output has gone unrespected (vocally, by me, at least). I don't want Jatopian blowing up his compromised topic picks with dynamite, and I don't want Mattcrampy encouraging the brightest members of the forum to relocate to a secret society. So I'd best pay brief mention to their efforts.

Holds Al Dente 2008

We did this contest before, and it was screamingly popular. The idea is that a number of holds (level collections) are put forth for the playing pleasure of the less-determined. Shorter holds, not so hard, and you can finish them in about an hour.

I botched the announcement timing here. You can't enter a new hold as an architect at this point, but you can play and vote for the holds. And this is the popcorn DROD-gaming that lots of people love, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

contest details

Over 29.4 Quintillion Served

Some folks put in vast amounts of effort in creating these ingenious new number systems. They can be used to represent any number between 1 and 29.5 quintillion, and they are particularly good for tattoos or drawing in blood. Math geeks, give it a looksee. You can vote on your favorite number system, if you like.

contest details

Jatopian's Topic Picks

With a Roarkian determination, Jatopian brought forth truth and certainty, caring not how cowardly parasites acted to bring about his destruction. You will benefit from his work, but know this: he did these things for himself alone.

To be a little clearer, these are some topics on the Caravel forum that Jatopian thinks might be interesting to you. Why not take a look?

The Resnakening
A fun official contest involving online serpentine multiplay is resurrected in unofficial form.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=19776

Xmas is over until next September or so...
The answers to the puzzling activities presented over Xmas are revealed. However, one may still find the reward for solving them.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=19915

Please Post Here If You Are Not An Actual Human Being
This topic is self-explanatory. It will clearly revolutionize the War on Spambots.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=19817

Extraordinary Ordinary Thread
Many forums have a thread in which members post links to things. Ours is noteworthy because we have Impeccable Taste.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=3480

Samuel's Tutorial on TCB, Cheap Trick contest compilation, Fireballs, Beethro's Brain, Doctor Beethro
These are all the holds which have been released since the previous Illumination.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/holds.php

Subforum Report: Subterra update & expansions
Crystal Shard's Subterra has been made bigger & better, with several new levels and a Hall of Fame for great players.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=19949

Yes, there will be a separate March Illumination. This one just barely made it for February. Pacific Standard Time, baby!

-Erik

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03-01-2008 at 02:19 AM
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Monkey
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icon Re: I Believe in Imaginary Property (0)  
OT: Isn't it a coincidence that my school's newspaper (where I'm the only cartoonist :() is also very late with it's deadline? :D (And because of that, I'm off for the year. :thumbsup)

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03-01-2008 at 03:38 AM
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Oneiromancer
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Here's an interesting post from one of the producers at Iron Lore, who made the Diablo clone Titan Quest, about his frustrations with piracy in the wake of their company closing down. It's depressing how early piracy of the game screwed them over in terms of publicity.

http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=42663

(Warning: some profanity. He's not a happy camper.)

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03-01-2008 at 03:58 AM
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Oh, that fantastic invention called Leap Day, saving February from being un-Illuminated.
Otherwise, Caravel would have owed me a pair of silk gloves.

BbJ

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03-01-2008 at 05:34 AM
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icon Re: I Believe in Imaginary Property (+1)  
Didn't mention RPG 3.0 in the newly-released holds list there... Not a great housewarming for that new hold, is it, having it be ignored like that?

Not that I'm necessarily the one who should point it out, but I had a lot of fun with that hold, I did...

Pleasant surprise having a last-minute Illumination show up in my inbox, though. :)

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[Last edited by Hikari at 12-18-2008 08:58 AM : :santa]
03-01-2008 at 06:44 AM
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Jatopian
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Actually... I really did do it for everyone else.
quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
and I don't want Mattcrampy encouraging the brightest members of the forum to relocate to a secret society.
...could someone explain this bit to me? :blush

Oh, and as for the post mrimer mentioned... really this should be a lesson to clearly differentiate copy protection from other error messages. And there's a point where it's too much. But other than that I agree.

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03-01-2008 at 06:58 AM
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Well... I don't belive in intelectual property. Or at least not as it works in todays society. The thing (as I see it) is that it's hughely superior when it comes to culture if the culture gets as spread out as possible. Liberies is a good thing. I'm a writer, and I like liberies. I also like for people to aquire a musical... bredth?... which they might not do if they had to pay for every song.

Don't get me wrong. I would like it if artists where compensated, but rather in a more libery like way. (or by stipends). That seems like the most effective way to get the culture to reach as many as possible, and simultainiously give the artist a possibility to coninue creating.

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03-01-2008 at 07:05 AM
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eytanz
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One of the podcasts I listen to, Buzz Out Loud, has had a very interesting discussion on intellectual property over the last week - the basic premise being that Intellectual Property laws should be made equal to physical property laws. In other words, if you have a very valuable IP you should pay property tax on it after a while.

The basic problem with IP is twofold - on the one hand, creators should benefit from their creations. On the other hand, as IP laws become stricter and more wide-reaching, it's becoming harder and harder for people to simpley be influenced by other people.

I am very much against anyone pirating DROD or anything else. But I would hate copyright law to be used to stop Googa from creating Wonderquest because it is derivative of DROD. That sort of thing is becoming more and more common, and needs to be stopped. All great human culture was created by people influenced by the ideas of others. We need to strike a balance between rewarding the people having original ideas and locking those ideas away so no-one else can use them.

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03-01-2008 at 09:25 AM
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AlefBet
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I don't believe in Intellectual Property, either. But I do believe in Copyrights (at least generally that they're reasonable policy even if some aspects of them are out of balance right now, and even if there are other ways that works could be managed), Trademarks (I like knowing I have a Dodge and not a repainted Ford :P), Trade Secrets, and possibly some Patents (for me the jury is still out on some patents, like pharmaceutical patents, while for others such as business method patents and software patents, it's crystal clear to me that they're a bad idea).

But although I generally believe in these things individually, I don't believe in Intellectual Property any more than I believe that whales are fish. Aside from some superficial similarities, they're just too different to be usefully lumped together in one big term like that.

Software patents, in particular, give the umbrella term "Intellectual Property" a shaky reputation. I can see how someone could be metaphorically "stealing" a copyrighted work when they download an MP3 off the internet, even if "stealing" is factually wrong and the correct term is willful copyright infringement. But I just don't buy that software programmers all over the world are accidentally "stealing" a patented work when they reinvent it in their own programs, completely unaware that the patent even exists. Yet I bet almost any programmer with at least a decade of experience is guilty of multiple instances of patent infringement, completely unaware. The only reason they haven't been hauled in to court is that the person they've "stolen" from hasn't noticed it's missing yet.

And because it's almost impossible to write significant software without infringing on a software patent, and patents are grouped under "intellectual property," other people end up disliking all types of intellectual property, including trademarks, and although there is a huge spectrum of opinion on copyrights, trade secrets, and even patents, I don't know of any well-read public figure that is against the principle behind trademarks. To group the idea of properly branding baby food in with the one-click patent does it a huge disservice.

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03-01-2008 at 09:25 AM
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I have to agree with AlefBet, you said pretty much what I wanted to say.
And just to clarify, I'm also a artist/programmer/inventor in addition to being a consumer.

Personally I'd like to see Patents vanish forever and instead maybe tweak copyright law a little instead.

As I see it when it comes to someone inventing something, I believe that it is the implementation. Both in source code and finished product that should be covered by copyright (and is) rather than patent.

The benefit is that someone else can improve further upon that, and then the original inventor/developer improves further on that. The race for the best implementation/product, which is how capitalism should ideally work.

The current patent system prevents someone from improving on existing ideas, and if they try they get sued. And I hate that. I hate anything that prevents progress of society and human evolution.

The patent people, music and movie and game industry largely would like things to stay as they are. (Sell more and more, earn more and more.) Sadly (for them) the world doesn't work that way.
There is a finite amount of money, and a finite amount of things that interest people.

Example: Here in Norway costs of living and buying stuff goes up, taxes goes up. Then salaries goes up, then costs go up. But the salaries do not go up equally to costs so they lag more and more behind. Eventually people will run out of money.

Then there are the numbers people. They seem to expect to sell their game to the exact same people that bought some other game, music, movie, product. The issue is that a consumer can only afford to buy so much per year.

As to people copying software which is non-physical, I can't say I'm a angel in this respect either. But, most of those that do such would never pay for it in the first place or they would never get it if they had to pay for it, while some others simply can not afford it. (the latter a sad fact that seems to be increasing and the industry should be worried about that particular group, as those are consumers they COULD have if things where done a bit different)

There are also games out there that has no copy protection and are doing extremely well (Galactic Civilization I believe on of them was called?)

Personally I have actually had some software I've created "cracked" and copied around. Yeah shocking (to me at that time yeah) it meant it was popular but just like most business people I assumed those where sales lost. But in later years I realize that those who used it without paying actually made a effort to not pay for it, thus I essentially considered those are non-consumers and not part of the numbers.

One can not force people to pay (they will fight it or find ways around it), nor can you force people to pay whom have no money to spare. But what one can do is encourage those who can by offering more, this is what Galactic Civilization seems to have done. Yes, people pirate those games but all the extra support and benefits the users get is highly attractive.

And to round off and risk sounding like some weird idealist...
If I could live and do what I do without having to worry about money. I would be happy to create software and give it away for free. Because I love creating (be it programs/music or something else) and I love to see people enjoy what I make. And if I could let people enjoy it all for free, I would.

Unfortunately the current world model is not so suitable for this, it does not understand it. If you say you want to create things and give it to society for free to enjoy, rather than make money from it, many look at you like you are insane. Perhaps I am?




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03-01-2008 at 03:11 PM
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mrimer
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quote:
eytanz wrote:
One of the podcasts I listen to, Buzz Out Loud, has had a very interesting discussion on intellectual property over the last week - the basic premise being that Intellectual Property laws should be made equal to physical property laws. In other words, if you have a very valuable IP you should pay property tax on it after a while.
Curious. I was under the impression that property taxes were put into place essentially so that members of a physical community will each contribute into the community resource pool, as it were, in order to build and maintain a physical infrastructure that the people in the community depend on. For example, when you own a house, you pay property tax on that house in order to fund things like maintaining the public roads around your house, your local public school, possiblity utility infrastructure, etc. I don't see how owning IP would necessitate paying money to a public entity in order to offset the cost of some public infrastructure.

I think I'll side with those who think intellectual "property" is a loaded term, and we might be better served by discussing copyright issues in this context.

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[Last edited by mrimer at 03-01-2008 05:12 PM]
03-01-2008 at 05:10 PM
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I'm sorry to hear from the Titan Quest people, but I'm surprised they didn't learn that lesson long ago - you never, ever, ever make copy protection that makes it look like the game crashed. Back in the 8-bit days, there were several games with copy protection that was essentially invisible - like GODS on the Amiga, which, if it thought it was a pirated copy, made the monsters on the first level practically unbeatable. Result? The crackers didn't spot that the game wasn't cracked after all, the degraded game went out onto the piracy networks, and suddenly word of mouth across the world was that GODS was crappy and it only had good reviews because the authors were famous. Oops.

As for Erik's position.. well, it's a mixture. I agree that copying intellectual property is wrong, but I think Erik's post points to the real problem, which is that 80% of the population has no stake in intellectual property. And I think there are two reasons for this: first, the mass media creates a lot of false images about it. By far, the most common is that ability to create IP is entirely reserved for some special subset of the population who have something called "talent", and that for these special creatures (which resemble people, but might as well be a different species), it's dead easy to do.

That gives us a huge number of negative issues. It gives us people who don't care about copying because, hey, you can easily make another game and we're just fighting back against the unfairness that we didn't get to make stuff, yea? It gives us people who want to write books, some who are even quite good, who won't write anything because they don't feel they are an author yet and only an author could write a book. (Nope, that doesn't make sense. Neither do people.)

The second reason is the overefficiency problem that plagues us these days. For some reason, even though society has gotten richer and richer over the years, getting (for example) a book published has gotten harder, not easier. In a rich society, one would think it would be easy to get published because society can afford to waste a little on a valiant attempt.
03-01-2008 at 06:20 PM
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Mattcrampy
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quote:
I don't want Mattcrampy encouraging the brightest members of the forum to relocate to a secret society.


Bit late now, I've been spending the past few weeks setting it all up. I'm sure you've all been wondering why I've been neglecting the DROD forum, and now you know.

I ask you, is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow? No, says the man at Boing Boing, it belongs to the poor. No, says the man at Slashdot, it belongs to everyone. No, says the man at the content companies, it belongs to us.


On a more serious note, it occurs to me, and I've been making overtures along this theme for a while now, that Frogs & Mice would make an ideal Xbox Live Arcade or WiiWare version of DROD.

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03-03-2008 at 03:19 AM
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mrimer
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quote:
Mattcrampy wrote:
On a more serious note, it occurs to me, and I've been making overtures along this theme for a while now, that Frogs & Mice would make an ideal Xbox Live Arcade or WiiWare version of DROD.
Anyone out there have development experience on these platform-frameworks who might want to receive greckles for services rendered?

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03-03-2008 at 04:06 AM
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hyphz
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quote:
mrimer wrote:
quote:
Mattcrampy wrote:
On a more serious note, it occurs to me, and I've been making overtures along this theme for a while now, that Frogs & Mice would make an ideal Xbox Live Arcade or WiiWare version of DROD.
Anyone out there have development experience on these platform-frameworks who might want to receive greckles for services rendered?


For Xbox, you can write the game using XNA with a freely available toolset. MS have just upgraded this so that XNA games can be made publically available. XBLA, the professional option, is apparantly really expensive and takes about 4-5 months to get approved..

03-04-2008 at 12:19 AM
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coppro
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XNA is for non-commercial development only. Microsoft wouldn't let you sell it on XLA.
03-04-2008 at 12:32 AM
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There's no surefire way to get a game up on XBLA. (Well, Creator's Club, but that's another story.) Currently, unless you are a proven studio/publisher, you basically have to hook up with one. And we are hooked up with GarageGames who has 3 games on XBLA now, I think. So we are writing Frogs and Mice for GG. If we do a good job and it is popular, there's certainly room to talk about XBLA titles (F&M or others) with them.

And things change all the time. I hear stuff about Xbox Live Marketplace opening up for more indie games. That would be great. And for the Wii too, but it's the same set of challenges on that platform as well.

-Erik

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03-04-2008 at 01:30 AM
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I'd like to point out that voting has opened on Holds Al Dente. The two leagues are here: http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=20363
and here: http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=20364

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03-05-2008 at 01:26 AM
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malkav11
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quote:
Oneiromancer wrote:
Here's an interesting post from one of the producers at Iron Lore, who made the Diablo clone Titan Quest, about his frustrations with piracy in the wake of their company closing down. It's depressing how early piracy of the game screwed them over in terms of publicity.

http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=42663

(Warning: some profanity. He's not a happy camper.)


Just to clarify: the guy in question, Michael Fitch, in fact works for THQ, not Iron Lore, and was involved with publishing Titan Quest on that end. And it's not *just* about piracy, although that's what everyone seized on. He's venting about a number of things that make PC development frustrating, including the wide variety of clashing hardware configurations and the stupidity of the end-user. (That last part isn't really geared towards making friends, but, well, people on QT3 aren't really the novices that he was ranting about.)

But yes, if you make copy protection that makes your game look buggy and the pirates don't figure it out in time, then that's going to get you some bad PR. Much like if the pirates like the game, that'll generate good buzz. (Whether that transfers into anything tangible like sales, I have no idea.)
03-09-2008 at 02:54 AM
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I used to be of that opinion, but the sales ratio of pc to console games has compelled me to think otherwise.

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03-09-2008 at 04:37 AM
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coppro
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It's worth pointing out that I still haven't found a torrent for TCB (I'm not looking to acquire a copy... I already have one, and I could just as easily distribute that. I'm just curious).
03-09-2008 at 05:38 AM
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Have you seen torrents for others games with about the same popularity as DROD? I think that DROD is just not popular enough to have a torrent.
03-09-2008 at 07:11 AM
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I vaguely recall seeing TCB on a pirate site once during a Google search.

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03-09-2008 at 08:37 AM
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coppro
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quote:
halyavin wrote:
Have you seen torrents for others games with about the same popularity as DROD? I think that DROD is just not popular enough to have a torrent.
JtRH and KDD both have torrents available (just search DROD on TPB), but I just haven't seen TCB yet.
03-09-2008 at 02:37 PM
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calamarain
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I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. Does it mean that TCB hasn't become popular and well known enough to be pirated? Or does it mean that no-one has gone to the trouble of pirating it? Sadly, I suspect the former :( JtRH seemed to have a much larger advertising campaign than TCB.

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03-09-2008 at 02:48 PM
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Schik
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It simply means that the CDs haven't gone to be duplicated yet - as soon as that happens, I'm sure some super cool group will work hard on "cracking" it and it will be all over the torrent sites.

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03-09-2008 at 03:15 PM
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calamarain
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Any idea when the CD version will be released?

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03-09-2008 at 05:36 PM
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Jatopian
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"When it's done."
or possibly
"Before DNF."

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03-09-2008 at 05:40 PM
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NoahT
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quote:
Jatopian wrote:
I vaguely recall seeing TCB on a pirate site once during a Google search.
There was also this.

-Noah

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03-09-2008 at 07:33 PM
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Mattcrampy
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I've seen a couple of torrents, including one just for MetDROiD Prime for some insane reason. If any of the pirates are out there, could you tell me why someone specifically requested MetDROiD Prime? Google cut off all but the first half-paragraph.

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03-10-2008 at 07:59 AM
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