“All information should be for free”

Looking for DRM and copyprotect programs that would give us better protection on our ebooks, I discovered a shocking fact.

  • You get 10 links for cracking and hacking software for every one encryption link.
  • You get the hacks for free – but pay dearly for the encryption software.
  • The hackers and crackers feel perfectly righteous in their attitude that all information ought to be for free.

But – actually:  Why should all information be for free?  Let’s look at this as though it were not a virtual, online, semi-anonymous environment.

Let’s pretend this were “real time”:

Where do you get free information?  The library.  Well, almost free.  You do pay a membership fee, once a year.  It’s so laughably low that you forget you’re paying it, and you think the books and info you are reading, come for free.

Do you get books for free at second-hand stores?  No.  Not really.  You pay ridiculously little for them, but – free?  Nope.  Even at the Book Exchange you have to turn in one of yours for one of theirs.  Not free.  Not entirely.  And do remember:  Before you read that book, many others did (and bought and sold it), and somewhere down the line someone first bought it new, at full retail.  

Where else?  School and university libraries.  Actually, your access to these is once again limited; by your membership of the school / university.  So, not free at all but an added value to a pretty expensive service.

As for the contents of your university courses themselves, did you get those for free?  Not on your damnit!  You paid through your nose and various other orifices, years after completing your courses, for that precious, exclusive information.

In medieval times, could you learn a craft for free?  No!  You worked your fingers off for your master; and then, when you graduated and became a “bachelor” or tradesman, you kept the craft close, guarded its secrets jealously.  They didn’t come for free and not a tickie would you give them away for free.

So then, why are web content creators and authors suddenly required to give away their work for free?

Look at it the other way:

What does this hacker do for a living?  Let’s say, in real life she’s a sales clerk.

Do you believe for a second she’d work for free?  If her boss gypped her out of her commission, would she continue to work and not complain?

Nothing else in life is for free.  Why should information be?

You spent years building experience and expert knowledge in a field.  Do you think a lawyer would give his counsel away for free?   Think a psychologist would?  Or a financial planner?

So why should you?

I’d like to see laws against such hacking programs.

They hide behind flimsy little excuses such as “for home use”.  How are they going to control what the end user does with their unethical software?

One of the comments read,

“Thank you so much!  I had a passage that I needed to copy from a copy-protected PDF and because of the pesky copy protection, I couldn’t.  Your software enabled me to copy it.”

Hello?  Ever heard of breach of copyright?

The upshot:  How do you protect yourself against rip-copying (piracy)?

  • Firstly.  Make peace with this:  The only way you’re really going to ensure nobody will ever pirate your work, is if you don’t publish it.
  • Even in paperback publishing, no publisher could ever prevent people from photocopying parts out of books.
  • There will always be a small amount of such “leakage”, no matter what you do.  But:
  • We’re looking at reducing the effect as far down as we can.  

For this in the first place, we have the copyright law.

Copyright is in fact a deterrent.  A book that has that little C with the ring around it, is clearly marked as someone’s intellectual property.  Really honest people will 100% of the time not copy such a piece.  Relatively honest people – the same who would never steal from you but might pick up a lost diary and read it instead of returning it – will with about 70% certainty not copy your file but they will with 100% certainty not hack it if it has protection.

Then there’s the segment (larger by the day, sadly) that doesn’t really take honesty that seriously.  They are a by-product of our social stuff-up of a society, we can’t wish them away, here they are.

Of that segment, 100% will without thinking share a copyrighted file with a friend, even with a friend list.  A much smaller number will illegally publicize your work:  Send it via viral email around the world (“share if you think this is cool”), place it on Facebook, paste it on their own website for free, make money from it or even claim authorship.

100% of those actions are illegal and there are laws protecting you – if you can nail them.

Now:  Put DRM and copyprotect (a mild encryption) on such files and you cut down even further.

  • You’ve ruled out the really honest.
  • You’ve ruled out 100% of the relatively honest.
  • You’ve ruled out that portion of the thoughtlessly dishonest that wasn’t thinking they were harming anyone when copying; they come up against a barrier and realize, Oops.  And they leave it.
  • You’ve ruled out the part of the remainder that doesn’t have the savvy or the tools to crack the encryption and DRM.
  • And the rest you could technically put behind bars or make them pay.

Except:

Along comes the “all info should be for free” attitude, backed with really official-looking programs that make cracking easy and make it look ethical, as though the owner of the intellectual property is the offender by putting protection up!

Imagine this:

A company quite openly marketing all the equipment needed to break through locks, walls, gates and fences into houses, to disable alarms etc, who claims loudly that “all property should be common property” and further proclaims that those who own the property locked away behind closed doors are the offenders for putting up locks and devices against theft.

It’s on the same level, don’t you agree??

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6 thoughts on ““All information should be for free”

  1. Actually, as an ideal, I’m with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s maxim that ‘property is theft’, a slogan adapted from has writing ‘What Is Property’:

    “If I were asked to answer the following question: ‘What is slavery?’ and I should answer in one word, ‘It is murder!’, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required. Why, then, to this other question: ‘What is property?’ may I not likewise answer, ‘It is robbery!’, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?”

    Proudhon was looking right into the face of a socio-economic system (which, let’s face it, we still have today) in which the ‘right’ to enjoy ‘private property’ entailed/entails depriving other people of the right to enjoy it, regardless of their needs or the amount of effort they put in. Like Proudhon, I believe in a society where what we do has social rather than economic value (‘price’, as it stands!), and all needs are met, and that this is done within an interlocking, cooperating network of communities, without the interference of any state or over-arching political organisation. I believe in it, I believe it is possible, and I will preach it and struggle for it.

    However, at present we don’t live in a society like that, and through gritted teeth we have to make do with what we can glean from capitalism. Meanwhile, I do resent some rip-off merchant with his own agenda hi-jacking Proudhon’s maxim.

    • 😉 But for that last sentence, you almost got a “dem’s fighting words” response.

      Yes, I believe in the ideal that people’s basic needs have to be met. (This is not happening in SA at this point – 5% pay tax to support 100% of infrastructure so there’s no real money for social systems.)

      Here in SA we have the crass example. Honest people (all colours) work hard and smart and insane hours to stay adrift, and to build up a little buffer for their children, or in many cases, merely to put food on the table from one month to the next. The other half or even as high as 75% makes a much better full-time living robbing houses, killing people, stealing cars and other possessions, and feels that it’s not crime – just a “job”. If you asked our worthy president a few years back, he actually said: “Crime? What crime?” The prevalent attitude is that if you steal from a white person it’s not theft; but believe me it hits the middle-class blacks quite as hard. And apparently in the “townships” (slums) it’s worse.

      Clearly that’s no way to run a society.

    • Or, to put it into a bullet-point, would you be prepared to give away all you ever worked for to charity, knowing you’ll resultantly be living like the bum under the bridge?

    • 🙂 That’s a very interesting concept!

      You wouldn’t give away all you actually own, that you spent many years working for or received as a precious gift; but you’d be prepared to give away the right to own things in principle?

      I’m struggling to envision this.

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