In anticipation of someday getting actual readers to, well, read this little amateur website of mine, I’ve updated part of the description to say that I’m “not a doctor, lawyer, or bank manager, but I’m always healthy, clean, and working on being wealthy”, or something to that effect.
Copyright is often misunderstood, unintentionally by non-lawyers and intentionally by lying lawyers who want to warp the fabric of society for the sake of their clients. The ideal bank manager contributes nothing to society, yet has the highest class of buying power per capita (time and being as an incarnate human), and has the safety of being apparently equal to others.
In other words, rather than wearing a suit and saying “I am a bank manager and I am stealing your future”, he instead is saying “I am a principle of a university and am providing education”, or “I am an expert at finance and the metrics say that the domestic economy is improving”, or “I am the leader of a global fund and I am improving you economy by putting your unborn children into debt and wage-slavery.”
Copyright gives a monopoly on reproduction. It originates with the author, intrinsically, but can be transferred, as any other property right. However, the property is not intellectual but active. It gives the right to act as a primary manufacturer of copies of the article, rather than any rights to the article.
That’s why it is called copy-right, and not owner-right.
Many things cannot be owned, because reality doesn’t work that way. Ideas cannot be owned, but patents can be. Patents involve some work to make non-obvious improvement, or change, and thus, they depend on a context of time and generations. For example, a design patent can protect the shape of a coca-cola bottle, but it can’t protect the general concept of a bottle, or the general shape of a bottle. The coco-cola bottle has specific details covered in the design patent.
There’s a WTO (Word Trade Organization) backed convention which helps harmonize “intellectual property rights” or IP-Rights and restrictions across a sub-set of nation states.
Antigua has an exemption which allows them to disregard many of these rights, if they so choose, due to the result of the U.S. domestic gambling industry wanting to apply unfair taxes on the fledgling online commerce industry of the nation-state of Antigua.
Some people making emulators might believe that “Sony owns the copyright to the PlayStation BIOS, so you need to own a PlayStation and make a copy of the BIOS yourself from it”. No, that’s not how copyright works. Even if you had a billion PlayStation consoles, the right to reproduce the BIOS files or information for profit would be restrained by copyright dogma.
However, for “fair use”, you would not need to own any consoles at all in order to have access to the BIOS information. If reverse engineering was considered a “fair use” then you could get that information from any public or private resource, without having to buy anything at all directly from Sony, or whomever the copyright holder was.
Sony could declare the BIOS “source code” to be a Trade Secret, however. That makes the derived “object code” a product of a trade secret. In that case, under normal dogma, Sony could file a civil case against you for stealing its trade secrets, if they could prove that a product was derived from reverse-engineering or corporate “theft”, which amounts to spy-craft or copying in the commercial sense.
Rather than going to court, companies would usually simply keep their secrets secret, and actually slowly reveal parts of them as features, and use a portfolio of patents to prevent direct competition, or force competitors to pay royalties. For example, Google and other Android manufacturers pay royalties to Microsoft based on every Android phone sold, due to a patent-licensing agreement.
Because patents are expensive, they can be used to bankrupt a company, or prevent small companies or single individuals from competing with large companies or conglomerates. This has been used several times to consolidate the information technology specializations into certain regions.
This is a case of Goliath having a land mine set to protect its regions, but due to that, nobody in Philistine knowing that guns have been invented, much less that you can bring them to sword fights.
Normally, trade secrets are you responsibility. The only sure privacy is silence.
American dogma is abnormal, however. American companies who own “trade secrets” are now afforded military class protection for these secrets, and thus, it can be considered treason (punishable by death) to copy a “trade secret” of a company which has a formal corporate presence within it.
Which is about what happened around the time of the French Revolution, when patterns fashion (clothing designs, elaborate buttons) and such were also punishable by death.
So, it is nice to know what type of “free world” we live in.
You can copy the BIOS or ROM dumps at will, for non-commercial use. You can even develop commercial products, but when it comes time to sell them, you would violate copyright law if you do not first get the permission of the copyright holder.
Sony proved in court that emulators were LEGAL, but that selling them would cause them to persecute the firm who does sell them out of existence, because, as I mentioned before, it is impractical to defend “IP-R” (Intellectual Property rights and restrictions) lawsuits formally. It is too expensive and takes too long for any business to survive the injunctions.
It remains an open question whether such permission (sale of emulated platforms and such like) could be negotiate without legal threats, but in practice, many cases have settled out of court with the firms being dissolved and some of their team members being assimilated as employees. So from possible competition to (highly paid) wage-slave.
DMCA and other annoying things
The DMCA dogma (which attempted to make reverse engineering illegal), Trade Secret dogma, and non-WTO compliance of the neo-commonwealth royal class make it impractical to advance information technologies within the U.S.A. at this time, and for the foreseeable future.
H1-B visas are the least of the concerns and problems for the sustainability of that region, and anyone following them into the ditch of blind paranoid and “revived”, asymmetrical imperialism.
TPP and more recent annoying things
The facilities which I mentioned, which are vital to fostering a vibrant economy, were likely considered “open loopholes” and “closed” by more recent laws. However, they do not apply equally to all countries, and America is not the only place in the world where you can build vibrant companies.
In fact, only a few places in America remain capable of doing so.
…often have the side effect of creating burnt-out young people and massive homelessness which is ignored by the well paid, well exploited young people who are eager to run from their student loans but not looking too closely at where their efforts are going, or worse, justifying it as a necessary evil.
This means that those with deep understanding will continue to come from outside of the US, where the freedom to investigate and modify is taken as a worthy pursuit of self-improvement, and not a threat to monopolies which are so fragile that they need literally the world’s greatest military might to feel safe, since they could never compete in a fair market, being unaccustomed to giving customers what they really want.
These changes may never appear to be in full effect, as they are advantages to letting sleeping giants continue to destroy themselves from within.
Heck, Eve Online is based in Iceland. Freaking Iceland. With like, nothing but ice.
Notes and Inspiration
1. Emulation authors and fan-translation “hobbyists” often neglect the financial and legal realities of what they are doing, and perpetuate myths and lies which do everyone a disservice. For example, PCSX2 makes false claims about copyright, and perpetuates common superstitions about how the legal system works, in its wiki about the project.
2. The H1-B visa limit stops some computer programmers and other high-level professionals from entering the U.S.A. as professional employees in that field, but, that doesn’t actually protect anyone’s job. Several articles explain why, like this 95% one and this Founder Visa one. Based on that Founder/startup one.
3. Editing a booklet on MMUs, it occurred to me that 95% of the world would have to speak English as a second language in order to understand it. Like the author of this-linked (blog on MMUs) one demonstrates, however, diagrams go a long way to bridging the gap. Most English-as-first-language people never even consider how to paint pictures with words, much less actually “paint” the pictures as diagrams. This was excusable back when diagrams were expensive but this is the Graphical User Interface wake era, so, there is little practical excuse anymore. Diagrams (at least crude ones) are cheap, even if professional paintings and high class typesetting is still expensive (since you have to pay for expert help, even if you pay yourself in capita).
4. In some sort of remarkable serendipity (although if it wasn’t remarkable, it wouldn’t be serendipity),soon after I published the earlier draft of this article, I came across this-linked article in the New York Times about student loans and why to default them. It is based on America, but interesting that Barbados has recently made the opposite shift, away from supporting higher education and thus social upwards mobility of its citizens. I didn’t bother to blog about that yet, though, because they are deeper issues which are related, and the situation in Barbados is potentially a lot better than America.