Abolishing Copyright

I want to remove copyright from our legal system, and I have a plan. It’s a kinda crappy plan, and nigh impossible to pass, but bear with me. Under our current copyright system, an artist may own the rights to the song, and sell limited rights to many people. In traditional limited-resource systems, I can sell you a cow for one dollar. I now have one fewer cow to sell, but one more dollar. You now have a cow, but one fewer dollar. This cow is now yours, and you can do anything you wish to it, within the bounds of the law (for example, no animal cruelty allowed). You may sell it, if you wish, for any price. You may give it away. Now let’s say I’m a band, and I sell you a song over the band website for one dollar. I now have one more dollar. You now have one less dollar, but one more song. But wait – do you? Well, you have the song stored on your computer. You can easily copy it, for almost no cost. So you decide to sell some copies. I can now sue you. See, when I sell you the song, I’m not actually selling the song itself. I’m selling you the right to listen to it, and possibly the right to transfer that right to someone else. See, when I actually sell you some rights to a song, I don’t lose any of those rights. I can sell as many or as few copies of my song as I wish. Selling a song to one person costs me nothing, and I can turn around and sell that same song again.

Now, you may say, “But doesn’t it cost money for them to send you the song?” Well, yes, yes it does. But very, very little. Hundredths of a cent. And if that was the only challenge, I should, in a free market, be able to sell my own copies, so the songs get sold by whoever can sell and transfer the songs in the cheapest way possible. So now you’re probably saying, ¬†“Of course not, you dolt, the band has to have money to live on. They deserve to be compensated for their work.” Firstly, Mr. Strawman, I don’t like being insulted. It hurts my feelings. Please apologize. And now you’re likely saying, “Fine, I’m sorry. Now can we get on with it?” My response to that would be: yes we can. Or maybe you’re asking, “Is this guy crazy? Is he talking to himself? Why is there a pineapple in my room?” The answer to that is: most likely, more or less, and I don’t know, I was drunk and wanted to make an obscure “How I Met Your Mother” reference.

Anyways, yes, the band does deserve to be paid for their work. But under the current system, I’m limited in how I may enjoy the band’s work, and current technology is making it hard to track down pirates. I suggest a radical alternative: the government buys any intellectual property that would otherwise be sold under the scheme outlined above, and gives it for free to all its citizens. There are several possible compensation methods, and some or all may be allowed:

  • Every time the media is played or viewed or watched or used or whatever, the artist is payed some amount. This would mean that every time it was used, the player would have to communicate with some central office. This would make some systems, such as currently existing radios and CD and DVD players, obsolete.
  • For each person who wants to use the media, the artist is payed some amount. This requires some central registration of who is using what media.
  • When the artist produces a work, the people vote on whether or not to buy it, and at what price. This method, dangerously lacks competition.
  • Artists are commissioned for works, and are payed before/while/after they produce it.

In all of these models, consumers do not have to pay to use media, (except for the slight tax bump) removing the incentive to pirate stuff to get around the copyright. One issue I don’t know how to tackle is artists using the work of other artists. Does the original artist get payed for the popularity of the second artist’s work?


The Economics of Text Storage

I’d like to convince you that it is rarely in your best interest to delete text for space reasons. The logic goes like this:

  • Assume a very good secretary might be able to type 150 words per minute, or ¬†90,000 words an hour.
  • Let’s assume that the average word length is somehow ten letters – this is high.
  • This secretary then types 90,000 words an hour, or 900,000 characters per hour. Let’s round that up to one million characters per hour.
  • Now let’s say that you want to store not only the character, which takes about a byte, but also tons of other metadata – for each character, store
    • The character (1 byte)
    • The timestamp (8 bytes)
    • The full file path (max 260 bytes in Windows)
    • The user name (100 bytes max?)
    • The place in the file (max 8 bytes)
    • Some other stuff
  • Note that if you’re storing it this way, you’re recording it as a journal and can store every single micro-change made to the file.
  • Let’s say you somehow want to store a thousand bytes of data for each character
  • One thousand bytes per character times one million characters per hour totals to one gigabyte of data per hour. That may sound like a lot, but consider this: modern hard drives cost as little as five cents per gigabyte. You can find a 3 TB hard drive for about $170 here. That’s just five cents an hour to record every micro-change made.

I think that businesses should strongly consider this option. I should also note that this doesn’t apply to other kinds of files, like videos or pictures or audio, nor does it apply to storing machine-generated data, like system logs.

I should also say that there must be an easy way to replace these old drives; a rather large two terabyte drive would last 2,000 hours – about a year of standard office weeks. I suggest putting these drives in a hot-swappable machine on the network, and putting the full drives in storage.

Dangerous USB

As all who read here (both of them) know, physical access to a computer and time can always get you all the info on the computer. But now I have a much scarier realization: it is quite possible that a thief (intruder?) could pop in, be at the computer for no more than a second, and be on their way. It is unlikely that the owner will realize as I steal their data over the next few hours. Then the thief pops back in, catches the device, runs out, and the owner never realizes. Doesn’t it sound awesome? Doesn’t it sound like a huge security risk? Yeah. It is. Read the rest of this entry »

Two New Proofs


This should have a relatively recent version of my recent Exponent Theorem of Primitive Roots. This proof was done by induction.


This should have a relatively recent version of my Bi-Root Theorem. Look inside for details.

Gaming Table

Somewhere I saw this great video of the Microsoft Surface at http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/10/d-and-d-microsoft-surface/. It is a demo of computerized D&D on a touchscreen tabletop surface. I was thinking about whether or not that would be possible without buying the Surface (which I’m guessing is expensive). I thought of tipping a flatscreen monitor or TV (depending on how big it is) and placing two cameras, probably webcams, along the edges. Each player and the DM would have colored tape on their fingertips to show who it was. The cameras would be connected to a computer, which would have to know where the cameras where in relation to the table, which would then track peoples fingertips. Another possibility I was thinking of might be StrechTight ™ over the TV, with some sort of pressure sensor to track when it was pulled tight. What do you guys think?


This is my first post from BloGTK, an Ubuntu package. I was reffered to it from http://exploreubuntu.wordpress.com/ in my search to get Ubuntu One working. One might note that this and not a full post, nor is it on a Sunday at 12:00 GMT-5:00. I will still have the regualr updates, this is just a test.

Self-Consistent Splash-ness

I’m doing Splash, and it’s Saturday night, and boy am I happy I use the post scheduler. Anyway, to explain the title, this post is self-consistent and mostly stays on-topic, like quantum physics, but is only consistent with itself. Anyway, I went to Splash [stay tuned for *gasp* a hyperlink] today, and am going again tomorrow, and all that matters is that I took [computer] Pwning 101. As a side question, does anyone know if running *on* MIT [like, on the buildings] is legal? How about¬†advisable?