Saturday, March 14, 2015

Copyright violators are thought criminals

Recent changes in the copyright laws in the United States have created laws so extreme that they should be considered a threat to the basic principles of Democracy.

In order to have a sincere democracy we need to have an informed public that understands the issues; if copyright laws are too extreme they will prevent a large percentage of the public from accessing the information and education they need to participate in a sincere democratic process.

Two of the things that are maintaining the unreasonable distribution for education in the USA are the reliance on property taxes for schools ensuring that only the wealthy areas can obtain quality education; and the use of copyrights to prevent poor areas from utilizing the internet to obtain an enormous amount of educational material for free.

Most of the attention in the Mass Media to this problem has been directed at the downloading of songs for free on the internet. This may not be as important as the use of copyrights to withhold education from the poor and middle classes but it is also an issue that should be addressed. The internet has opened up new methods of communicating that can provide a major benefit for society if they are used in a reasonable manner; however this challenges the existing power structure and they are fighting these changes in unreasonable ways that can’t hold out in the long run. The longer they dig in there heals and withhold a rational discussion on this subject from the public the harder it will be for everyone. They will have to choose between destroying technology and draconian methods to intimidate people or they will have to allow some reasonable reform of the system. The new technology available virtually guarantees that people will share information when they can, including music since it is so easy. The Music Industry is in the process of suing middle class and poor for downloading songs without paying for them. They are obtaining awards running into the hundreds of thousands or in some cases millions of dollars from people that have little or nothing. This is a clear case of Robin Hood in reverse; the rich are suing the poor and ensuring that they will be in debt for the rest of there lives as part of an intimidation method to scare the public into compliance with laws that have been corrupted by the same industries that are benefiting from them. The enforcement of the current laws is based on claims that the existing system is fair which is highly inaccurate. Robert McChesney and Ben Bagdikian and other authors have written about how the media consolidation has threatened democracy and is resulting in a corrupt system which is protecting the rights of the Mass Media at the expense of the public.

The quality of the material available is deteriorating rapidly and it is being replaced with a massive propaganda machine that is getting steadily worse. This includes the Music industry. The Mass Media controls who can become a star now much more than they did forty years ago when it was possible for small local bands to get some attention from the local radio station. Furthermore there are still plenty of karaoke singers that would be happy to give their music away for little or no money. Hundreds of years ago it would have been considered absurd for someone to try to sell their music through copyrights. Music is a hobby for many people not one of the basic necessities of life like food shelter and clothing. The capitalist system has turned into an absurd belief system where the right of corporations to make money any way they can has become more important that the basics of life. We, as a society, provide more incentive for people that do jobs that have little or no benefit to the majority of the public than we do for many jobs that are much more important like education and protection of children from child abuse. The worship of celebrities and sports stars has become absurd. When setting up the system for distributing music we didn’t think about the basics of the subject and try to figure out how to provide music for the public at a reasonable price and provide reasonable payment for those that do the work. Instead the people controlling the major institutions more or less made the decisions then decided for the public and told them what is “reasonable”. This has resulted in an extremely unreasonable system which has been heavily manipulated by those that make the rules.

The Music industry is using their influence to ensure that only the people they approve of can become big stars. There have been several stories where major musicians have had problems with their agents and the Music Industry. In many cases it isn’t the rights of the musicians they are so concerned about but the profits of the promoters and the agents that they are concerned about protecting. In some cases like the Dixie Chicks they have even been boycotted for saying “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The Mass media is using their power to ensure that people without the approved political views don’t get to much attention. In this case it was about a war that was clearly illegal and based on false pretenses but the propaganda machine didn’t let them stop them. If we had a system that was developed with the input of a well informed public then it might be reasonable to expect people to abide by the rules they came up with bu8t that hasn’t happened. Giving huge awards to rich corporations from people with little or nothing is hardly a reasonable way of handling the situation.

Regardless of how the music industry problem is resolved that isn’t nearly as important as instances where copyrights are being used to restrict educational opportunities for the poor and middle classes. New computer technology could be used to dramatically reduce the cost of education and make improvements available to everyone; however this is threatening the current power structure even more that providing free music therefore the government and the multinational corporations have been making laws to make it harder to reduce the cost of education including copyright laws. At a time when new technology is making less expensive education available to everyone they are instead raising the tuition at many colleges well above the rate of inflation and many schools have been forced to cut back during the recent recession. Some people like Andrew Magliozzi and the people at History is a are trying to make improvements so that the public can have more information at a lower cost. They are both being threatened with legal action for improving the quality of education for people who have a harder time affording it. The copyrights of some professors or publishing companies is being used as an excuse to withhold education from the poor and prevent them from learning what they need to participate in the democratic process.

The people at History is a have made the entire content of Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History of the United States” available online with oral permission from Howard Zinn. This record of history is much more accurate that the one being taught at most schools. Most schools have been relying on a version of history that has been heavily influenced by politics that is often described as “American Exceptionalism”. This might be fine if it was an accurate and fair version of “American Exceptionalism”; however that isn’t the case in fact in many cases the “People’s History of the United States” may be a much more fair version of “American Exceptionalism” since it describes the exceptionalism of the of the majority of the people not just the exceptionalism of the leaders who have been presented in a glorified manner that often omits many of their faults and ignore the fact that the democratic system works best when the changes come from the people not the leaders. Throughout the history of the United States the biggest and most important improvements have come as a result of popular movements by sincere members of the public like the civil rights movements, the woman’s suffragette movement and the environmental protection movement. Then after they convince the politicians to act over the objections of the established order they give the credit to the politicians more than they do to the public. In order for the public to understand this they need easier access to information like what is provided in “A People’s History of the United States” whether they can afford to pay for the copyrights or not.

There is a lot more information the public should have access to in the most efficient way possible including books published with the help of government funding for research and other books about how the government is being corrupted by the multi-national corporations. Many other authors have provided a lot of good information that the public should have access to without worrying too much about copyrights including Zinn, McChesney, Bagdikian, Noam Chomsky and many more. There should be a better system to provide incentives for those that raise legitimate issues instead of doing what it takes to protect the status quo. McChesney has suggested an idea from Dean and Randy Baker where the taxpayers could have the option of choosing to have 200 dollars of their taxes go to the funding of a book of their choice if the recipient agrees to make it available to the public domain. This idea is clearly rough and it needs work but it is a good starting point. The objective should be to make the information the public needs to make decisions about running their government in the most efficient way possible instead of allowing the corporations to continue dominating the information available to the public. The point is that by using computer technology they could reproduce unlimited amounts of information for free once the equipment is paid for. This will save an enormous amount of money on publishing that would have gone to the manufacture of books. Unfortunately in a Capitalist society providing free education for the poor and middle classes isn’t nearly as important as the right for corporations to make a profit off of anything and everything. The extreme version of Capitalism we have wound up with means that if the corporations aren’t able to make a profit from everything everyone does it is considered bad for the economy. They are even charging for water now and if they could they would probably charge for air. Every time the public improves there life without paying a cut to the corporations by doing something like eating less and exercising more, or cooking from scratch or obtaining a free education the corporations see this as a lost opportunity to profit from the public.

Some people like Andrew Magliozzi are trying new things that make obtaining a college education cheaper and easier for the majority including the poor. He has started a tutoring company and he has set up on line activities that enable people to get together in study groups and compare notes. They also provide some content including notes from the students on line for free. Many people in the academic community objected to this, including Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former Harvard dean who said “It’s very hard, if you have students sitting in the classroom, to control what they’re going to do with what you tell them,” and “it’s very hard to keep control of material that finds its way onto the Web.” “Harvard and MIT and Stanford and Princeton, we’re not Decca records. Our job in life is to provide enlightenment to the world,” says Lewis, an outspoken critic of the way content providers have used copyright law online. “We have to make a living doing it and all the professors have to be paid for their labors, but the notion that universities would inherit the oppressive picture of the way intellectual property is treated by the music industry is really a fundamentally warped view of what the ultimate purpose of universities are.” Lewis is partially right they are not equally as oppressive as the music industry they’re even more oppressive since they’re dealing with education. Instead of trying to educate the majority in the most efficient way possible with reasonable payment for the professors they are trying to control it so that only those that pay a high price can receive an education. They are trying to pass up on the advantages of new technology to reduce the cost of education. The concern is that the intellectual rights of the professors are being infringed on and this is the way they earn their living. They seem to believe that the public shouldn’t be able to get an education without permission from those that “own” the truth.

In the current Capitalist overdrive system the rights of those with political power to charge for anything and everything including an education is more important than the rights for the majority to obtain an education in the most efficient way possible. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for the professors to request fair pay for their services but to deny the public more efficient ways to get an education when it is available is unreasonable and it is a form of thought control. The jobs of the professors wouldn’t be in jeopardy since they could use different methods to educate a larger number of people and if the professors have time left over they could find a way to do more research into their subjects instead of repeating the same lectures over and over again. By the college level ideally the students would be ready to do their work on their own if they’re raised properly and they could look up what they had to on their own time and watch tapes of lectures. Then they could spend less time in class rooms which would be devoted to discussion. This would improve the efficiency of the educational system and make it available to more people.

Greg Mankiw justifies the right to withhold access to free education by saying he doesn’t want to make it easier for students to cut class. This is a reasonable concern but if it was his primary concern it isn’t the right way to accomplish his goal. By the time students get to college they should be well enough behaved so that they can dedicate themselves to their studies. If this isn’t the case then the solution involves looking at the way they were raised before they go to college. Addressing this problem would involve improving the public schools and the PTA. If there is more attention paid to children at an earlier age they may be taught much better and they will be better prepared for college. The excuses they are providing for these concerns don’t stand up to the most basic scrutiny. When this happens it may help to consider the possibility that they may have another unspoken objective. A couple earlier quotes from history may shed some light on this. Woodrow Wilson once said "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." This was at a time where the public was much less educated and they didn’t have to worry as much about saying things like this. Also he knew that his quotes were much less likely to be spread far and wide as it is now.

In 1950 Illinois Representative Harold Velde, former FBI man and chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee, said “Educating Americans through means of the library service could bring about a change of their political attitude quicker than any other method. The basis of communism and socialistic influence is education of the people.” This statement was made in reference to the Mobile library service for poor people living in rural parts of the country. The concern about Russian indoctrination through “education” is a legitimate one in Russia not in the USA! At that time the Russians were using indoctrination methods on their own people creating a form of a communist cult where the leaders dictated an irrational version of their ideology without scrutiny. At the same time the leaders in the USA were doing the same4 thing only with a capitalist ideology so it wasn’t the Russians that were indoctrinating the Americans; it was the American leaders including Joe McCarthy. These quotes may not be exactly what the current people are thinking but it gives you an idea of what some of those in power think. Now they may know better than to say things quite so blatant, instead they usually prefer to avoid discussing the issue at all. Instead they prefer to present the final product as a done deal which is justified without reviewing the details because there is no way that the details will stand up to scrutiny if they allow a fair review.

It is interesting to note that Greg Mankiw is an economist, presumably a traditional capitalist economist. By declining to put his lectures on the web he avoids easy scrutiny from the public including many people that may consider other versions of the economy that aren’t designed primarily to benefit the corporations. If the scrutiny was allowed in the most efficient way possible the most rational theory could win out and it could be taught to the majority in a much more efficient way. This could mean educating the public about the flaws of Capitalism. In order for this to be effective in the long run though the majority has to trust the expertise of people like Mankiw and other capitalist economists. If other people with other ideologies teach other versions to the public starting with the basics and work their way up then the trust in the economic theories held by most capitalist economists could collapse. This will be more effective if it is free and many of the major capitalist industries continue to fall apart like Enron and WorldCom. It will be tougher for the capitalists to persuade the public if the public begins to understand the issues and realizes the flaws in the capitalist overdrive system. This doesn’t mean capitalism will be completely abandoned perhaps just the flawed portions. This wouldn’t be limited to professors teaching economics; by allowing the lectures to be available to everyone then it will open up all classes to more peer review and enable them to improve the lectures and avoid having students exchange notes which may not be as reliable or subject to peer review.

Copyrights are also being used to make it harder for the public to access a lot of educational material that would help make it easier to prevent violence and at the same time the multi-national corporations are subsidizing an enormous amount of demagoguery that is counterproductive and does the opposite. Many rational researchers, including Dorothy Otnow Lewis, Alice Miller and Murray Strauss have tried to get air time to explain to the public about how child abuse contributes to violence. They have had a hard time getting much if any air time and on at least one occasion they have had a hard time getting publishers to print and promote their books. Murray Strauss had to sign an agreement to let the publishers have the rights to his book in order to get them to promise to publish and promote it but due to corporate mergers it was orphaned and he had to threaten to sue to get the rights back so he could go to another publisher where he finally got it published and obtained what he considered much better promotion. This is described in more detail in the introduction to his book which is available on Google books; a link to this is in the bibliography of the table of contents bellow. Robert McChesney expressed some of the same concerns about Media reform when he wrote “Rich Media Poor Democracy”. The following is a quote from his introduction expressing concern about how the publishing companies aren’t handling important nonfiction: “When Andre Schiffrin and the New Press acquired the paperback rights I was delighted, for I knew of Schiffrin’s commitment to publishing serious nonfiction- the sort of nonfiction that big publishing houses, almost all of them subsidiaries of the largest media conglomerates, have increasingly come to neglect. And books that question the legitimacy and desirability of the corporate media system for a self-governing society are hardly sought out by these conglomerate-owned houses.” At the same time while credible researchers are trying to get their point across and have to hand over copyrights to get much if any promotion there is much more promotion for an enormous amount of counterproductive propaganda, like Nancy Grace, Jerry Springer and many other trash shows, that teach the public to believe that punishment after the fact is the only idea to consider. This means that the only free content on the subject available to those who can’t afford to buy the books on the subject or who aren’t inclined to do so for one reason or another is counterproductive leading the public to make some of the most important decisions in their lives based on lies. If not for the copy rights some people who are more sincere than the corporations could do more grass roots education to help solve these problems with violence.

Some of the work done by people like Alice Miller and Philip Greven also indicates that the abuse of children leads to the virtual indoctrination of them. When taught through strict disciplinarian manners children learn to believe what they’re told whether it makes sense or not due to the fact that they’re more concerned about avoiding punishment than learning how to think rationally. This could explain why a large percentage of the public accepts the absurd claims and superstitions promoted by the government and the Mass Media and they may have a hard time understanding that they’re being manipulated. If this information could be presented to the public in the most effective way possible without the interference of copyright laws it could do a lot to help strengthen democracy as well as reduce violence.

In some cases there have been books written to expose what the government has been doing illegally. These have been available to the public if they pay for it of course and to a much lesser degree it is available to others. The Mass Media has often made a brief mention of these books; however they rarely ever give the public enough information to understand what is in them unless they go to the source and they often take them out of context. In order to have a sincere democracy the public needs to have the access to the information they need to hold their elected officials possible and anything that interferes with that or makes it harder to access this information for a large percentage of the population is a threat to the quality of democracy. Obviously there should be fair compensation for those that do the research but that doesn’t mean the only way to do this is the extreme copyright laws we now have. Once the information is out there it should be made available to the public in the most efficient way possible. If this was done in the past and there was a way to finance it then what ever was done in the past would have been far cheaper for the public than the way it has happened. For example there is overwhelming evidence that the Vietnam War was fought on false pretexts. If the public was informed sooner they could have stopped the war sooner saving thousands if not millions of lives and they could have put in a better set of checks and balances to make sure it didn’t happen again. This didn’t happen and not only did the Vietnam war go on way to long but it was followed by many other wars and covert activities by the government that were also based on lies. This has led to the constant state of war where the government has the right to spy on the people but for “security reasons” the people don’t have the right to know what the government is doing. By making more of the best books, including “the Peoples History of the United States” as well as many other books written by good authors including Zinn, Chomsky, McChesney etc. available for free to the pubic it would improve the quality of democracy drastically and enable people to be more educated about the most important issues. Instead these authors may have had to agree to surrender copyrights to get published and receive any promotions then information the public needs was only available to those who paid for it while lies that lead to war are free.

This problem isn’t limited to copyrights; there is the same problem with the use of patents. The pharmaceutical companies have been using their copyrights to charge extortionary prices for the drugs based on the flimsy argument that it is necessary to provide incentive to do new research. This is flawed for several reasons including the fact that this research is often done with the help of government grants anyway but they aren’t accompanied by any agreements to surrender the patent rights for the drugs found to the public domain. This is a clear case of corporate welfare for the rich at the expense of the vast majority of the public. Many researchers have made it clear that they would do the work to do research gladly without copyrights. One of the most important cases was Jonas Salk who said “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” when asked by Edward R. Murrow “Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” There should be no automatic assumption that someone should own patents or copyrights for everything. The lawyers are the ones who make these decisions with little or no input from the public for the benefit of those in power. Aspirin was based on science that was known by the ancient Egyptians yet Bayer was allowed to patent it in the late nineteenth century. The patents for AIDS drugs many of which were developed with government subsidies were used to charge much more for the drugs than they cost to manufacture so that millions of Africans who can’t afford them were forced to go without. When some companies in Africa attempted to use genetic brands the corporations sued because they were concerned the public in the west would find out how low it costs to produce the drugs and they would object to price gouging allowed by the multinational corporations and the politicians corrupted by the corporations. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to price gouging for drugs in the USA; there has been an enormous problem with people going to Canada to get their drugs due to the extreme price gouging in the USA. The drug companies have claimed they are taking a risk by buying what they claimed are lower quality drugs and potentially dangerous. There is no evidence for this claim; in fact there have been several cases since then where there have been problems with the quality of the drugs in the USA. Apparently not only do the Canadians have more reasonable patent laws but they also have better oversight.

Drug research isn’t the only thing being financed by the government and then allowing patents to be handed over to the corporations it is also happening with some research that was used to produce many scientific books ironically even some where the researchers studied how to manipulate the public. As I explained in the “Truth and Education commission” entry (found in the table of context link below) both Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram did research on obedience to authority which could be used to learn how to indoctrinate the military better in boot camp or manipulate many members of the public both at home and abroad in other ways. I also indicated that this may have been partially supported by the CIA; this assumption is partially based on the work of researcher Alfred McCoy who researches the CIA. These research projects were funded by the government and they still haven’t explained what they were used for completely. They also allowed the books written by both researchers to be copy written even though there research was funded by tax dollars.

This is an example of an absurd situation where the government is using tax dollars to study ways to manipulate the public then, through the private sector, they are charging the public for the right to read about part of what they’re doing. There are many other research projects that have been financed by the government with the cooperation of many volunteers that thought they were doing something good for society but then the government never followed up on this research by educating the public about the results of this research. Instead it has mainly been in the domain of the academic world that could use it as they wish with little input from the public. This includes many of the research projects that Murray Strauss used for his book including the work done by Melvin Kohn in “Class and Conformity”. This isn’t made for the majority of the public but it was financed by public money and something could and should be produced from it that will help educate the public. This book is one of the very few which doesn’t say it is copy written on the front credit page; however the excerpts from Google claim it is. In the case of Strauss and Kohn’s books they do appear to be doing the best they can to get their message across to the public but the system doesn’t allow it to happen in a very efficient way. Whether it is drug patents or research information if it is funded by the public there should be no justification for allowing the private industry to have the intellectual rights to it.

In some case they have taken things to such bizarre extremes that it is almost funny. When Al Frankin tried to use the phrase “Fair and balanced” he was sued by Fox news. When Ralph Nader tried to use the word “priceless” he was sued by a credit card company. These suits didn’t succeed but the fact that they were even tried is absurd. In some cases like the trade marking of “Jenna”; who supposedly has a brand name for products like apparel, barware and fragrances. The use of intellectual property has been created by a bunch of lawyers for the benefit of a small percentage of the public with little or no input from the public. When informed and consulted on the consolidation of the media over the past few decades and the current copyright and patent laws the vast majority of the public has objected according to some of the research done by McChesney, Bagdikian and Klinenberg and others. These laws were passed in a highly undemocratic manner where the laws were made without the knowledge or understanding of the public; many of those who don’t understand them may not object but when people find out about the details it is hard to believe that any reasonable person who isn’t the recipient of this corporate welfare would aver agree to it. There may be some legitimate issues but the vast majority of the laws made are totally corrupt and they should be overturned as quick as possible. Fortunately not all the professors at major colleges agree with them and a growing percentage of the public is learning how corrupt they are. There are a growing number of professors who think that education for free is a good idea including some of the biggest names at Harvard, like the political philosopher Michael Sandel and the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. Other academics, including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Alice Miller and Robert McChesney, have indicated that they wouldn’t object to making their information available to a wider market if the system allowed it or perhaps even if it doesn’t. If more academics make information available free and more members of the public stop submitting to these extortionary copyright laws then it could spur a public debate that could lead to reform; however it should be done at the grass roots level.

If the multinational corporations are allowed to control the debate as they have in the past they will of course continue to corrupt the decision making process. Another big advantage for the public is the fact that the current laws are in many cases totally unenforceable; or at least they can’t be enforced in any reasonable manner. They’re currently suing college children who download music for everything they have and they may respond by simply going bankrupt. The Music industry doesn’t get much if any money and they have an angry customer base. If this doesn’t lead to a boycott of many of these corrupt companies it certainly should. When it comes to the trading of copy written books especially those necessary to maintain a sincere democracy they’re fighting a losing battle as well since it is so easy to do it anonymously and if they could track down some of the people doing this then they may have to deal with an even bigger political problem. If they tried to sue someone for providing educational material to the middle or lower classes then it would involve a trial and court testimony. If there is a trial there will be trial transcripts which will be made available to the public, perhaps for a price. Attempts could be made to explain the motivation for the sharing of intellectual property. If they focus on educational material that enables people to participate in a democracy in a more effective way possible then this would be in the transcripts. If the judge refuses to allow this into the trial then his refusal would be in the transcripts and this could lead to a lot of public debate about how they’re using copyrights to withhold education from a large percentage of the public at a time when many schools are being forced to cut back due to the incompetence or corruption of those running the economy. They wouldn’t be able to get much if any money out of these people but it could go a long way to educating the public.

This may be why they’re not trying to sue some of these people; because they know it wouldn’t work. If this trend continues then anyone who knows where to look may have access to the educational material they need anyway but unfortunately many people won’t know where to look. If the multinational corporations did try to use the law to enforce these absurd laws they would only drive people out of the system and raise more opposition or perhaps they can start putting them in jail. This wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented when protesters object to illegal wars that kill innocent and try to educate the public they have often been put in jail; when the civil rights workers tried to educate the Africans in the south they were often put in jail. If they do it again they would be following an old pattern but it wouldn’t work unless everyone gave up and submitted to the tyranny of the multinational corporations. If they started putting people in jails which are already overcrowded they would only add on to their expenses without solving the problem and they would make it even clearer that they are turning it into a crime to educate the poor and let the majority of the public have access to the information they need to participate in a democracy. They seem to understand this which is why they are only trying to slow this down. This can only work for so long and it is doing more harm than good to everyone even the owners of the copyrights. Without access to the information they need the public and the government isn’t making rational decisions and everyone is paying the price. This includes the damage that is being done to the environment and the nonstop state of war which is threatening to do much more damage if it escalates out of control.

Another problem that should be mentioned is the fact that this could be in violation of the first amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law ……. or abridging the freedom of speech…” the extreme version of copyrights prevents people from spreading educational material for a long time leaving it in the control of those that control the copyrights. This is as usual subject to interpretation and enforcement. The US Supreme Court has a history of interpreting the right to free speech in a way that seems to benefit those with power. For example when they decided Buckley v. Valeo they decided that money equals speech which gives an enormous amount of power through speech to those with money and very little to those without. Here once again they have allowed the multinational corporations to maintain control of the copyrights at the expense of the majority. According to the Declaration of Independence; “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. The vast majority of the public haven’t given their consent to the creation of these extreme copyright laws; in fact according to books written by both Robert McChesney and Eric Klinenberg when the public was informed about what the government was doing with copyright laws and the consolidation of the Mass Media those that understood it overwhelmingly opposed them. It is reasonable to assume that if the rest of the public were educated about the subject that this trend would continue. Once the majority of the public understands what the congress and the mulch-national corporations are doing they will almost certainly oppose it. The only way to find out for sure though is to educate them. This education shouldn’t be controlled by those that have a history of manipulating the public in the past though. It should involve more peer review and people from different beliefs should have equal opportunity to get their views across.

The United States has the most extreme laws in the world allowing the corporations to maintain their copyrights for 95 years and individual copyrights to be kept for 70 years after their deaths. This means that the books by George Orwell still aren’t available to the public domain in the USA which is ironic since this includes 1984. This book describes how thought control is being used to manipulate the public; it may be a satire but as many people realize it is way too close for comfort. Fortunately this isn’t being enforced for all practical reasons since this book is easy to find anyway but these rules are making it hard for many people to access the information they need. There will be no sincere democracy until these laws are overthrown only a continuation of this pseudo-democracy that is based on the indoctrination of a large percentage of the public.

A more rational way to compensate those who do the work needs to be considered in order to solve this problem. In the Capitalist overdrive system we are now dealing with we are only supposed to consider the capitalist ideas dictated by those currently in power. In a democratic system we should be able to consider a larger variety of ideas and whichever one works best should be implemented. If the Capitalists are right as they claim about their ideas being the best they have nothing to worry about by allowing the scrutiny and discussion to happen. There may be some cases where their ideas will stand up to scrutiny but if they don’t then we shouldn’t allow them to push them on us at the expense of the majority.

If the thought criminals can overthrow the thought police then perhaps we can have a sincere democracy if it is controlled by an educated public.

To read follow up post on this subject about Copyright Bureaucracy see the following:

For The Peoples History of the United States at History is a

For Boston Globe article on

For Boston Globe article on “Civil trial opens on sharing of songs”:

For Joel Tenenbaum’s web site see the following:

For additional information about the basics of copyrights and possible attempts to make them even more extreme on an international level see the following:

For articles about Myriad gene patents see the following:

For articles about AIDs drugs and the fact that the corporations are attempting to withhold the right to produce to prevent the public from knowing how inexpensive drug production is:

Free on line library mostly classics from Upenn:

Free Press has done some good work on this subject:

First Posted on tripod on 6/30/2010

For the full HTML version of this blog with table of context see:

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

Since this was first posted last June there has been little or no action against History As A Weapon that I know of presumably due to the fact that they may not want to draw attention to it as stated in the blog but Joel Tenanbaum continues to fight in court and the costs of this unreasonable suit continues to rise for both sides with little or no benefit to anyone.

zacherydtaylor January 26, 2011 10:54 AM

The following intellectual property was blatantly stolen from Algis Kemezys.

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___♥█████████♥▒▒▒▒▒▒♥☆.•°´¯¯`° •☆ SMILES ♥
_____♥██████♥▒▒▒▒▒▒♥☆.•°´¯¯`°• ☆ KISSES ♥
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For Being real and timely with this post.


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I'll let you know if he sues me! ;-)

zacherydtaylor January 23, 2012 10:03 AM Does anyone own what universities teach? 12/13/2009

Plenty of Harvard graduates have traded on the fame and prestige of their alma mater, but few have done so the way Andrew Magliozzi has. The year he graduated, 2005, he started a tutoring company located steps from Harvard Yard, with a name, Veritas, that is the motto of his storied alma mater.

Then, two years ago, Magliozzi started up a side project called The site bills itself as “the premier Web portal for interactive education,” allowing Harvard students to join online study groups and read annotated versions of the Great Books. But its most notable characteristic is that it pays Harvard students to post their lecture notes online.

The website’s name was borrowed from the school’s Final Clubs - insular all-male social clubs reputed to keep old lecture notes on file to help their less diligent members cram for exams. And just like the Final Clubs’ files, the site serves as a crutch for students who haven’t bothered to attend class or take their own notes.

Magliozzi, however, insists that there’s a higher purpose. He is taking the substance of Harvard courses, information previously sequestered within the ivory tower, and offering it free to anyone with an Internet connection.

“I’m a big believer that educational resources should be free, or as free as possible, and in a sense I would like to do it not only at Harvard but at every top institution in the world,” he says.

Finalsclub is not the first website to offer elite university course notes, for free, to a wider audience - other universities, most prominently MIT, have set up so-called open courseware sites of their own, and the largest dwarf Finalsclub’s offerings. Nor is the site the first to publish student lecture notes: A mini-industry of lecture note vendors has long existed around the campuses of large state universities, and it has migrated online in recent years.

But in combining the two - by relying on students, rather than professors, for material and then posting it for free - Finalsclub, along with a few larger sites like GradeGuru and StudyBlue, raise issues of their own. Because the site does not charge, the material Finalsclub posts is widely available, and, unlike with open courseware programs like MIT’s, Harvard has little say in the process.

As a result, thanks to technology, one of the core functions of a university - distributing information through its professors - is no longer entirely in its control. It’s a potentially unsettling development for universities and professors, and it has found its way into court, as professors take on commercial note services and grapple with how much to limit the recording and even filming of their lectures. And as it grows easier to publish online and as more and more people gain ready access to the Web, the issue seems likely to only grow.

“It’s very hard, if you have students sitting in the classroom, to control what they’re going to do with what you tell them,” says Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former Harvard dean. And “it’s very hard to keep control of material that finds its way onto the Web.”

The emergence of sites like Finalsclub is part of a larger incursion of the outside world into the university classroom: Students today can anonymously post videos of lectures to Youtube or report the details of a small seminar discussion on chat rooms that anyone can read. Universities, at least in some sense, are content providers, and the content that they provide - the lectures and course materials - is created for a sharply limited audience paying a lot of money. Record labels, newspapers, movie studios, and other content providers have been seismically shaken by the Web, and now universities are getting a glimpse of its disruptive potential.

For universities, the fact that the raw material of an education is, increasingly, easily available means they may have to rethink how they pitch themselves to applicants, perhaps concentrating more on their “value-added” features - their facilities, the opportunities for collaboration with faculty and students, the social scene they provide, or the fact that, for the time being at least, paying tuition and showing up on campus still gets one a diploma, while teaching oneself online does not.

Like many online start-ups, Finalsclub is in something of a holding pattern. Magliozzi sees little prospect of outside funding in the current economic climate, and there have been few new lecture notes posted in recent months. Harvard itself has taken no action against the site, but some of the professors whose lectures Magliozzi has wanted to post notes on have refused.

But the debate over who gets to set the terms by which classroom information spreads is well underway: A lawsuit by a University of Florida professor against a for-profit note company is going forward, and academics around the country have begun to examine how much can, and should, be done to control the posting of notes, videos, recordings, and the like.

“It is fair to say that a number of these issues aren’t exactly new, but the accessibility of the Web makes us conscious of them in a way that we weren’t before,” says Corynne McSherry, author of the 2001 book “Who Owns Academic Work?” and a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The question of people taking notes in lectures and reselling them is old, but now if you make them available online, the reach is so much broader that people get concerned in a different way.”

The basic legal question of whether a professor or university has any claim over the notes a student takes in a lecture is, it turns out, not a simple one to answer. According to copyright scholars, it depends on how the lecture was given and what the notes look like. Copyright only protects works of authorship that are fixed in a “tangible medium of expression” - at the very least there need to be notes that the lecture was read from, or a Powerpoint presentation. And the closer the student notes are to an exact transcript of the lecture, the more likely they are to be infringing the professor’s copyright.

The few times courts have weighed in have produced contradictory decisions: A 1969 lawsuit in California in which a UCLA professor sued a notes service found that the professor did indeed have the intellectual property rights to his lecture, but the University of Florida lost a 1996 suit against a similar company.

And while the basic issues are not new, the amplifying scope of the Internet gives them a new sharpness. Jim Sullivan is the attorney for a University of Florida biology professor named Michael Moulton who is suing the same notes provider that the university unsuccessfully sued in 1996.

“There’s a whole new raft of these companies out there,” Sullivan says. “It basically amounts to an online clearinghouse for stolen intellectual property.”

Still, part of the reason that there haven’t been more lawsuits around the intellectual property of lectures is that professors and universities see their mission as fundamentally different from that of a music label or movie studio.

“Harvard and MIT and Stanford and Princeton, we’re not Decca records. Our job in life is to provide enlightenment to the world,” says Lewis, an outspoken critic of the way content providers have used copyright law online. “We have to make a living doing it and all the professors have to be paid for their labors, but the notion that universities would inherit the oppressive picture of the way intellectual property is treated by the music industry is really a fundamentally warped view of what the ultimate purpose of universities are.”

Finalsclub has so far avoided legal trouble by being a nonprofit, by not charging students for notes, and, most importantly, by making sure to ask professors for permission to post lecture notes. Most, says Magliozzi, have been fine with it, including some of the biggest names at Harvard, like the political philosopher Michael Sandel and the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker.

For his part, Pinker says he was excited about the interactive promise of the site’s online study groups but agnostic about the class notes aspect. “There’s nothing that I would say in class that I wouldn’t say in any other public forum, so I kind of had nothing to hide,” says Pinker.

Several professors, including the English professor and writer Louis Menand and the economist Greg Mankiw, have refused. Mankiw says he didn’t want to make it easier for students to cut class. “Listening to lectures and taking your own notes is part of the educational process,” he wrote in an e-mail. Other professors expressed reservations about the accuracy of the notes and the fact that students were paid to take them.

Lurking in the background, McSherry argues, is also the issue of intellectual control. Academics today are increasingly itinerant - tenure is harder to come by, and even tenured scholars are more likely to switch institutions than in the past. And protecting intellectual assets like lectures - both from the university and from students - takes on a heightened importance. Part of what the university hires a professor for is his lectures, material that has often been honed over years of delivery, feedback, editing, and research.

The value of a college education has never been entirely about the content of the classes. People go to college to make connections with ambitious peers and eminent professors, for the social life, for the facilities and, of course, for the credential. The exclusivity of an elite education is a great part of its value, and the fact that anyone can click through a Harvard biology class online is unlikely to change that.

What it may do, however, is subtly change the mission of such schools. Champions of online learning see in the rise of open courseware sites like MIT’s what they call the “unbundling” of higher education. With the actual class content widely available at no cost, and with some programs looking into ways to make such programs more individualized to particular students, what happens in the actual physical classroom may become less about ingesting information and more about interaction and putting that information to use.

Magliozzi has such ambitions for his still small site. He envisions not only a far more exhaustive catalog of course notes, but a deep and broad interactivity, so that students can collaborate on notes and create documents far more comprehensive than anything any individual could do, participate in moderated discussions with far-flung peers, and ask questions through the site to professors at distant institutions.

“Basically, in a nutshell, I’d like to be a meta-membrane that sits on top of all colleges and unifies them, a meta-academic institution,” he says.

Drake Bennett is the staff writer for Ideas. E-mail Original article

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