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Korthor

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  1. I remember listening to an interview with an RIAA representative a few months ago who spoke out of both sides of his mouth on the issue of whether copying your own CDs onto your computer for personal use was legal. DavidOdden is correct that it is technically illegal, and also correct that right now the music industry is not willing to sue people for copying their own CDs. I don't remember the last time I listened to a CD on a CD player. For years now, I've been copying CDs I bought onto my computer, and listen to music on an mp3 player. While the law might consider me a thief, I feel no guilt. I don't think the law should consider such activities "copying" under IPR law, as long as you bought the CDs and you're not distributing them to anyone else. Otherwise, everyone who uses an mp3 player is a criminal. Technology has rendered the law ridiculous, and as it stands I consider it immoral. What if the law forbid me from humming a tune based on a copyrighted work in the shower? I would tells the feds to screw! Of course, CD makers are free to enforce contracts with whomever they wish as a condition of sale. But IPR law is designed to enforce protections absent the existence of any contract.
  2. This discussion might be helped if we realized that not all Indians were (or are) the same. For purposes of this discussion, maybe it would be helpful to clarify what we're talking about. Here are four categories: 1. Assimilated Indians with Western conceptions of property rights whose land was expropriated because they were Indians (e.g., the Cherokee of the Trail of Tears) 2. Indians who improved their land and had individuals who "owned" it in ways not unsimilar in practice to those in West (not all Indians were quasi-Socialist) 3. Indians who improved their land (e.g., agriculture) but considered it collectively owned 4. Indians who didn't improve their land much (e.g., Great Plains Indians) I would hope that we would all agree that Indians in category 1 have suffered a grave injustice--the US government of the early 19th century clearly is guilty of mass murder and theft, if not genocide. I would also argue that Indians in category 2 suffered a grave injustice: is the ability to give a Lockean justifiction for property rights a prerequisite to "really" owning anything? If so, then I'm perfectly justified in stealing from pretty much any American I meet. I think cases three and four are harder, and I didn't really want to get into a big debate about them. I just thought this discussion might proceed on more intelligent terms if people clarified who exactly they were talking about. -Kirk
  3. But non-anarchists do in fact subordinate their desire for justice to the rule of law. Can you imagine a legal system which protects the rights of the innocent but not the guilty?* DavidOdden has suggested the inquisitorial system, but that has a long track record of not in being able to tell the difference between the two categories. I would say that it is an unavoidable fact that to protect even the most basic rights of the innocent, we must have extremely stringent protections for the rights of the guilty. All governments have a propensity to abuse the rights of their citizens, which is why we need as many checks and balances as possible. Additionally, people taking the law into their own hands is much better than the government abusing the rights of its citizens. I remember learning my first day in Objectivist school that no individual can do as much harm as a non-rights respecting government. Finally, the justice system doesn't exist to protect the rights of the victim, but to adjudicate guilt and punish those who are proven guilty in a court of law. In a society of laws, the victim has no rights to retaliatory force once the criminal is apprehended... that's what we would call a lynch mob. *That's how I'm characterizing your position, given that you're saying that the "guilty" shouldn't have basic rights protections like a fair trial, which requires an attorney.
  4. 1. I would say that the adversarial system is far better than the inquisitorial system at protecting the rights of the innocent. In fact, the inquisitorial system has basically no such protections except our "trust" in the inquisitors. I find your trust in our government truly touching, but since when did Objectivists have such mad love for the state? Given the amount of people who get falsely convicted due to error or prosecutorial misconduct in a system where there are defense attorneys, I'm not eager to abandon the adversarial system. Moreover, while it is possible to imagine an inquisitorial system consistent with the rule of law, it is contrary to a very long tradition of Anglo-American and even Roman law. I would go so far as to say that it is one of its four essential pillars (along with a presumption of innocence, habeas corpus, and a restriction on ex post facto), and slimy defense attorneys are a small price to pay for it. 2. The Supreme Court has held for over forty years that people have a right to an attorney (I think the decision was Gideon), Their reasoning was that people are generally not in fact competent to represent themselves. Do you really think the average person is competent to argue a speeding ticket, much less a murder trial? (And that's bracketing the issue of legal expertise and rules of evidence, which is extremely important) This issue becomes especially important when the defendant is mentally disabled, which is a substantial number of defendants. Do you really think a guy with an IQ of 80 could represent himself? 3. I have no problem with the court ordering attorneys to represent the guilty. As "officers of the court," they are more like soldiers than plumbers. If the Army tells you to go to Iraq, you go to Iraq. If the court tells you to represent John Doe, you represent John Doe. (You should of course always have the option of quitting rather than obeying the order) I believe in England there are two types of attorneys, one of whom is not in fact an officer of the court. Maybe we should move to that system so some people could opt out. 4. "Sack up" is an American expression. And you did "sack up" by saying you wanted to abandon this whole attorney thing, a position I find shocking beyond belief. 5. Can you offer an historical example of an inquisitorial legal system you would feel comfortable being tried under? Or is it just a coincidence that all rights-respecting judicial systems have been adversarial?
  5. To DavidOdden... I agree a guilty person should admit their guilt. But what if they don't? Do they have a right to representation in the adversarial process? I would say definitely yes, since the adversarial process is essential to the American RoL and protecting the rights of the innocent. If the system is moral, then how can it be immoral to play your role in that system? Or do we good and moral people have to free-ride on the immorality of others in order to live in a free society? That strikes me as hypocricy. You didn't like my bunny analogy, so I'll try again. It's like hippies who whine about military killing of civillians but want to live in a safe country. Either admit the full costs of what you want, of say you don't want it. If you really are suggesting we should abandon the adversarial legal process for trial by ordeal, then at least sack up and say it. To Groovenstein... There are canons of legal ethics that restrict the means of how you can defend a guilty person. For example, you can't suborn perjury (have someone lie on the stand about their guilt), but you can lie about their guilt in closing arguments. I see no problem with this distinction, since the category of "evidence" is an extremely important one in our legal system. You also can't intimidate witnesses or disobey judicial orders about interaction with the media. What's wrong with legal ethics as a guide to morality within the context of being an attorney? Can anyone offer an example of a means that they would consider immoral that are still acceptable within the canons of legal ethics? In the end, I think people's moral umbrage comes from their distaste for lawyers. If you think that being a good lawyer requires you to be immoral, then I would suggest you check your premises. Either: A. We need to move to a legal system without lawyers. Or... B. You need to revise your sense of what's moral within the context of being a lawyer You can't have your cake and eat it too. Take what you want and pay for it., etc. etc.
  6. Since when do we answer moral questions by entertaining hypotheticals? Issues like “you lied for your client” or “you allowed a guilty person to go free” are entirely too concrete-bound. WWARD (What Would Ayn Rand Do?) Inquire about the principles at stake. There are two competing principles here: 1. People who commit crimes (violate others’ rights) should be punished. 2. The rule of law, and in particular the adversarial legal process, is vital to protecting rights. Unless you are an anarchist, then principle #2 is more important. Otherwise you would just murder guilty people in the street. For people to say that they believe in the adversarial legal process on the one hand, but who say that they can’t stomach “immoral” defense attorneys on the other, strikes me as extremely disingenuous… sort of like people who don’t like seeing bunnies killed but love their hamburgers. I have no problem imagining a defense attorney of immense integrity who commits himself to defending his clients based on his firm belief in the value of the adversarial legal process.* He might defend some people he believes guilty, some he believes innocent, and some about whom he’s not sure. Maybe if he’s good he’ll get guilty people on the streets so they can kill again. So what? Those murderers’ victims are casualties of living in a society that follows the rule of law. I’m sure the alternative, living in a North Korean style dictatorship, would be a lot worse. Finally, I’m mistrustful of the easy answer of “refuse guilty defendants.” Who should defend them? No one? Your immoral colleagues? So you like the rule of law, but you require a certain number of immoral people to make the principle work? A moral principle (like the adversarial system) should work even if all participants are moral. Ergo, defense attorneys are moral. QED. If you believe in the adversarial process as a moral principle, then you should have no problem defending guilty clients. After all, if you can’t stomach how the sausage is made, then don’t eat the sausage… or at the very least, don’t be in the sausage business. *An example of such a character in the world of TV legal drama is Eugene Young from “The Practice.”
  7. Iraq. Oh and Iraq. Oh and Iraq again. I'm sorry, did I mention Iraq?
  8. Am I right in thinking that the codes in question don't decode the DVD format, but rather unlock the copy-protection mechanism? If so, then the codes are just a password to unlock a lock imposed by the DVD manufacturers. Why are passwords patentable? Is it a violation of property rights to unlock a lock without using the key provided by the manufacturer? What if a conventional locksmith designed and patented a really clever lock. You put this lock on your house, but lose your key. You then call a locksmith. In order to unlock it, he has to insert tools that copy the metal patern of the original key. Is that a violation of IPR? Maybe my claim that you should be able to patent locks but not keys seems strange to some, but it makes sense to me. After all, a the key's only function is to bypass an artificially imposed condition--the lock. Does that meat the "usefulness" standard required for patents?
  9. Actually quite a bit of rape and murder occurs in the home. Women, in particular, are much more likely to be killed by an acquaintance or intimate than a stranger. Although I don't support gun control, I think the storngest consequentialist argument in its favor is that guns increase homicide in domestic violence situations.
  10. Is there a thread that specifically deals with the side-question of which speech should be criminalized?* If so, maybe DavidOdden and I should move our debate there? I wasn't aware that there was an "Objectivist position" on this question, though maybe I spent too much time in Libertarian school and missed that lecture. If there is, what is the bright line between free speech and criminal activity? Clearly posting on the web one's belief in radical Islamic ideology and the need to destroy America should be legal, while handing over specific classified secrets to terrorists would be treason. But what about posting non-classified info on the web, like info on how to build a bomb. Should that be illegal? I'm inclined to say no, while DavidOdden seems to think differently. I realize it's a tricky area and I am struggling for a way to come up with a bright line. One idea I had was the legal concept of "intent," one of the foundatoins of Western jurisprudence. That gov't can't prove that someone who posted info on the web had "intent" to harm anyone, while criminal intent probably could be proven against someone who actually built a bomb for a terrorist or passed along state secrets. *I know there's one on libel, but that doesn't really seem relevant.
  11. I think the best argument for IPR protection of the keys is that it's patented technology. While I might be persuaded by more arguments on this point, I'm still inclined to stick to my guns and say that it should be legal to bypass the codes. As far as I understand, the sole purpose of the codes is to de-encrypt the copy-protection encryption of the DVDs.* I don't think passwords should be patentable. I'm Ok patenting algorithms to generate cryptography, and I'm Ok with companies writing in non-disclosure agreements about their codes, but if someone else can figure out your passsword, then tough titty! Should it be illegal to try to decrypt other people's codes? I don't think patenting a password is at all analogous to patenting software. You should be able to patent software that generates and accepts a password because that is a process that accomplishes something, but the password is just raw material. Patenting passwords would be like patenting steel or wood. Or more specifically, it would be as if Masterlock patented 13-32-26 and had me arrested if I tried to figure out the combination to my lock on my own. So in conclusion, if I can figure out the password to unlock the DVDs (which is in no way analagous to copying someone else's patented DVD player invention), then I should be able to play them. On another note, is DavidOdden seriously suggesting that the government should restrict speech that tells others information that they could later be used to commit crimes? And then he says this governmental initiation of force is just "collateral damage" and the criminal's fault because they forced the government to do it? Telling other people how to make a bomb isn't an initiation of force, and if the government arrests me for telling other people how to do it, that's the government's decision... not the bomb-maker's. I'm sure Hitler also thought the Jews forced his hand. Hey everyone, if you stab a guy in the heart he's likely to die. Look at me, I was just an accessory to murder! Please, report me before I kill again! *I might be wrong here. If so, someone please correct me.
  12. 1. This existing law sounds like an illegitimate example of "pull" to me. It is as if the government passed a law saying that it was illegal for people to manufacture their own apple pies. (You could buy apples and eat the apples; or you could buy pies from a liscenced vender and eat them; but if you bought your own apples and made your own pie, then that would be illegal). I'm sure the manufacturers of apple pies would be thrilled, but I can't see how Objectivists would support such a law. 2. Even if the existing law was both moral and legal, it shouldn't be illegal to distribute info that others could use to break the law. If I want to post info on how to build bombs or convert guns to fully automatic, that should be perfectly legal. 3. Even if the restriction is in the UCC or some analogous piece of legislation, how can people be held to a contract they never signed. While the UCC may be Ok for defining extremely intuitive concepts like "merchantability" (although there is some debate about that), how can one be held account to bizzarre legal monstrosities like the existing law. If the manufacturers wanted to attach such a bizarre condiiton to the sale of their DVDs, then they should have to MAKE ME SIGN A CONTRACT as a condition of sale. Software liscencing does that all the time; why do software manufacturers have to do it but DVD manufacturs don't? Sounds like pull to me. 4. I don't think DM's analysis of any playing as "copying" is right. My knowledge of IPR law mainly comes from the notice that comes up on the screen, but doesn't it restrict "public" use and distribution. I don't see how this would stop me from privately playing a DVD on a player I made myself. 5. I find the copyright notice at the beginning of the DVD annoying. Would it be immoral if I devised some way of fastforwarding past it? Would that violate some contract I never signed but am nonetheless expected to follow.
  13. I never signed any contract when I bought my DVDs. There isn't even a notification at the beginning of the DVD or on the box of this supposed contract. Do I need a law degree specializing in IPR law to make sure I watch my DVD on the right player? How do I even know if I'm using the right player? Maybe you could forward me the contract you seem to know so much about so I can figure out whether or not I'm being immoral? If the DVD manufacturers were serious, they should force me to sign a contract before buying a DVD. If they started to actually do that, then I think people would be rightfully pissed off and they would lose money. I think the assertion of silly and non-intuitive so-called "property rights" undermine the efforts to fight actually examples of intellectual piracy. It's kind of analogous to people like Sharpton who cry wolf on racism so much that it undermines the efforts to fight actual examples of racism.
  14. I agree that I have a big mouth, and thanks for pushing the conversation forward by introducing some data. I agree that seiges/blockades can be an effective military tactic as part of a larger military strategy. I looked over your list, and most of your examples were blockades/seiges in the midsts of a larger war.* Are there examples when blockades/seiges/sanction alone brought down a government? More to the point... 1. NoKo has been preparing for war a very long time. Even if no more war materiel entered the country, they are quite set for a long defensive war and would have the capacity for devastating retaliatory capacity. 2. How do we blockade NoKo? Do we declare war on China and SoKo? That's why the US's preferred method of economic isolation have been "sanctions," and those do have a horrible track record of either changing or hindering the policies of hostile states. Probably the closesf thing to successful sanctions was Iraq in the 1990s, since theydid succeed in limiting Iraq's ability to rebuild its military after the first Gulf War. That's a rather unusual case since the whole world was (ostensibly) behind them, and they were imposed immediately after the Iraqi military had just been destroyed. *I think the exceptions were the Dutch blockade of Scheldt, the British blockade of France prior to the onset of the Napoleonic wars, the very brief blockade of Cuba, and the Berlin Blockade. None of those examples seemed particularly effective.
  15. • The devil/satan as a particular individual, and as being responsible for evil. Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 12:26, Matthew 16:33, Rev 12:9, Rev 20:7 • The modern concept of heaven/hell Matthew 25: 31-46 • The Christian conception of "salvation" Through grace… Romans 3:24 • A "second coming" is mentioned that is not in the apostle's lifetime The book of Revelation • The "Trinity" John 14: 25-31 • Sin - is it ever defined? Romans 5-6 • According to Judaism, the old testament sets some pretty specific requirements for the messiah, that Jesus flunks Matthew and Hebrew spend a lot of time trying to square the prophecies…
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