Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents

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Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents

Post by StalinSays » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:06 pm

Feature: How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents by Michael W. Lucht
Drabble: I Flunked Kindergarten by Douglas Hackle

Image

Monday, June 25th, 2012
“You are accused of stealing the intellectual property of Einstein, Dirac and Heisenberg.” The middle-aged speaker waved his finger at Professor Hillabin, more in the manner of a prosecutor than a judge.

Read by John Mireau
Art by Bo Kaier

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Unblinking » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:16 pm

Pssstt, Bo. The title in the artwork is wrong again. You have an extra 0 in there. It seems to be right on the forum thread, in the story preview text, and the post heading, just in the artwork. In the artwork it's 1/1000 of a cent instead of 1/100.

This story was a lot of fun. A very bizarre idea to have to pay royalties for scientific disocveries, and one that seems so incredibly wrong because they are not invented by the scientists but are characteristics of the universe that have been discovered. If anyone invented them, it is the creator of the universe, whoever that is.

If you pick at it too much, the story kind of falls apart, because it seems like the royalties have been in place since Aristotle's time (which was long before the concept of Intellectual Property was conceived). If the idea had been around that long, history would be much diverged from ours. A lot of history's scientists were not very well off financially. Nikola Tesla in particular comes to mind. To which one might say "That's because they didn't get royalties", but they would never have been able to make their discoveries because they wouldn't have been able to pay for the research to get to the things they became famous for. At the very least, I don't think the same names would be famous, and I think scientific progress as a whole would be much much less, I think we'd be lucky to have gotten anywhere near as high as Renaissance tech. This would actually put our scientist at an advantage because he could then "invent" the more modern formulas that he already knows to be true and could easily become a billionaire from all the new royalties.

But as long as I don't think too hard about the plausibility, it was super fun. And even if I do think too hard, that contemplation was a lot of fun too, and this story was responsible for egging it on. So, bravo!

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by StalinSays » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:24 pm

Unblinking wrote:Pssstt, Bo. The title in the artwork is wrong again. You have an extra 0 in there. It seems to be right on the forum thread, in the story preview text, and the post heading, just in the artwork. In the artwork it's 1/1000 of a cent instead of 1/100.
Son of a biscuit. Well, at least someone is looking at the art..
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Unblinking » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:26 pm

StalinSays wrote:
Unblinking wrote:Pssstt, Bo. The title in the artwork is wrong again. You have an extra 0 in there. It seems to be right on the forum thread, in the story preview text, and the post heading, just in the artwork. In the artwork it's 1/1000 of a cent instead of 1/100.
Son of a biscuit. Well, at least someone is looking at the art..
I always look at the art! The art is one of my favorite parts!

(...Regarding my previous comment, I didn't quite say it right: there's technically the same amount of 0's in the text on the art as in the title, but it's the decimal point that's shifted)

Thinking about this story, what if this same sort of thing were applied to other endeavors. I'm thinking art, where the first artist to practice a new style would then get royalties from everyone else who used that kind of style. I think this would create a kind of manic adversity in the field from starving artists who are trying to practice their work, a great amount of breadth in the field with very little depth.

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by ROU Killing Time » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:35 pm

Did you know that Wizards of the Coast has a patent on turning a trading card sideways?
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Douglas Hackle » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:14 pm

ROU Killing Time wrote:Did you know that Wizards of the Coast has a patent on turning a trading card sideways?
I thought you might be joking, but then I found this: http://www.bgdf.com/node/1042

In particular, check out the line about "tapping."

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Unblinking » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:20 pm

Did you know that Elvis Presley's image is trademarked by Graceland? I found this out because I worked at a souvenir company in college in the midwest. One of the many products we sold was a postcard of Mt. Rushmore with Elvis (and perhaps other rockstars?) replacing the Presidents' faces. We had to stop listing that postcard because it hadn't been produced with the proper permissions.

This came to mind just this morning because someone showed me a competing engineering company's ad which claimed that they were "The King" of our industry and that customers should accept no imitations. And then they show a picture of Elvis, presumably to show that they are the King. Except that for legal reasons it's an Elvis impersonator.

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by ROU Killing Time » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:24 pm

Douglas Hackle wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote:Did you know that Wizards of the Coast has a patent on turning a trading card sideways?
I thought you might be joking, but then I found this: http://www.bgdf.com/node/1042

In particular, check out the line about "tapping."
I once attempted to develop a CCG. I know the patent by heart. The tapping part amounts to a patent on the concept of the binary flag. Its silly.
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Douglas Hackle » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:53 am

So suppose I wanted to create and market a game that utilizes a deck of collectible cards, each card featuring a picture of a different Elvis Impersonator Warrior, each of whom possesses some unique weapon and or special ability--the more outrageous the better. Players would battle their Elvis Impersonator Warriors in a manner similar to MTG, i.e. by tapping them out when being activated or used.

At the beginning of the game one player is randomly dealt the True Elvis card, a card that remains hidden in the player’s hand for the moment. This most valuable card in the game bears an actual picture (i.e. trademarked image) of Elvis. During the course of the game, the True Elvis card may get passed from player to player in accordance with a set of rules and manner of gameplay I have not bothered to figure out. The object of the game is, say, to defeat your opponents by destroying their little army of Elvis Impersonator Warriors with your own army while also being the last player to hold the True Elvis card. The real Elvis always wins.

Hey, wait a minute . . . :idea:

So I’m making up this game as I go, sort of writing the idea of it into being, and gearing up toward making the inevitable and fairly predictable punch line that would tie this rant in with the previous posts in the thread (something like, “So, yeah, I guess I’d run into some serious patent infringement problems with this venture. Huh, guys?), when the following thought suddenly flashes across my frontal lobe:

If this game were real, I might buy it for a couple lousy bucks: seriously.

Come on, ROU KT. Help me out here, bro! Let’s get rich!!

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by munsi » Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:48 am

is it me, or has Drabblecast been absolutely KILLING it with quirk lately? super fun story, very breezy. the questions about how humanity progresses with these copyright fees did occur to me, but i quoted the MST3K motto, went with the conceit, and found the show tremendously entertaining. good one!

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by tbaker2500 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:30 pm

Bo, I can now fix the audio art quickly, unlike last time. Let me know when it's ready.

The story was great fun. I really enjoyed the concept. Lots of things to nitpick on with this one, but I'm not going to, because it was about the concept.
Good work!
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Unblinking » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:31 pm

If this game were real, I might buy it for a couple lousy bucks: seriously.
Sounds like a lot of fun! If you made it just for yourself, they couldn't enforce it. If you made it and gave it just to a few friends, especially for no money, even if they caught a whiff they probably wouldn't enforce it.

For quite a while the names "Elvis" and "Elvis Presley" were also officially trademarked, until a judge overturned that in the 90s on the grounds of being ridiculous. Particularly "Elvis" because other people were already named that. So if you published the games in the early 90s it would be a slightly higher infringement yet. :P

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Douglas Hackle » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:07 am

Unblinking wrote:
If this game were real, I might buy it for a couple lousy bucks: seriously.
Sounds like a lot of fun! If you made it just for yourself, they couldn't enforce it. If you made it and gave it just to a few friends, especially for no money, even if they caught a whiff they probably wouldn't enforce it.

For quite a while the names "Elvis" and "Elvis Presley" were also officially trademarked, until a judge overturned that in the 90s on the grounds of being ridiculous. Particularly "Elvis" because other people were already named that. So if you published the games in the early 90s it would be a slightly higher infringement yet. :P
I always thought trademarking people's names was sort of silly. Ah, well. At any rate, it's time for me to get off the computer here, go get cozy in my recliner, kick back and read some Harlan Ellison® stories.

Uh oh . . . ooops!

(Aside, the court clerk gravely announces, "The following expense is noted: 2 cents to The Kilimanjaro Corporation.")

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Polecat » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:06 pm

This story inspires me to RANT

"The longer it is, the more convoluted the language...iTunes...The Bible..." or Myface.com (there are actually people who sign up and use this service!?)

The idea of intellectual property is one that has concerned me deeply since the german equivalent of ASCAP kyboshed my band's monthly gig in a bar in southern Germany. We charged no entry fee, relying on a tip jar to pay for the petrol to get to the gig and buy a few beers. We played a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs, some of which were copyrighted, some of which weren't. The point of the excercise was to have fun, not get rich and famous. Nevertheless, GEMA (the German ASCAP) demanded fees so high that it would not be worth the publican's while to allow us to perform. This was not the case ten years ago, when GEMA etc. could comfortably derive a large income from the sale of CDs - the inexorable rise of internet sharing has put an end to that, so behaviour that used to be tolerated is now deemed to be unacceptable unless it can be milked like a cow (as you can tell, I am slightly less than unbiased on this issue). Economic imperatives have shifted the goalposts as far as musical intellectual property rights are concerned - will we one day be stopped and spot-fined for whistling Kraftwerks's "The Model" as we walk down the street? and will Kraftwerks executors have to pass on a portion of this money to the estate of Nicolo Paganini, from whose "Caprice No 24" the main melodic motif of "The Model" is clearly lifted? Or should we presume that two musical geniuses who also have in common that their respective names both begin with MO (that has got to be significant!) both claimed, rather like St. Francis, that they were acting as channels:

''I never wrote a tune in my life,'' Bill Monroe once said. ''All that music's in the air around you all the time. I was just the first one to reach up and pull it out.''

Mozart himself would sometimes say that he felt like he was not composing so much as taking dictation


were speaking for all mankind when they passed these self-judgements.

It used to be the other way around, record companies would pay DJs to play their records - as unjust (because it was unregulatable) the "payola" system was, it was the only way small independant rock'n'roll labels could have anything beyond local influence on the airwaves - shortly after new legislation, recording companies such as Sun, Ace etc. went to the wall and rock'n'roll became corporate, which was a shame.

Should I be able to claim "reverse royalties" from Al Stewart, because performing one of his more obscure songs from the early seventies has encouraged people to go out and listen to what he was doing before the A&R men turned him from a creative artist into a product and buy his old records (he's turned back into a creative artist in the meantime, by the way, and markets his records directly via CDBaby.com).

Questions, questions...

Rant over

respectfully

the polecat

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by tbaker2500 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:21 am

Yup.
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Unblinking » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:48 pm

Thinking on this story further (there's a lot to think about here!), in this story the intellectual property laws are even more strict than most such laws in our world. You get fined for just MENTIONING a formula, let alone using it. Just to TEACH SCIENCE you'd have to be so rich, to repeat those formulas over and over. And students could never afford to pass because they'd have to repeat the formulas to help themselves cram.

It seems that if the governments in this wanted to encourage scientific progress that they should, rather than charging per use, charge per PUBLISHED usage. So, charge to have it printed in a textbook. Charge to have it published in a research paper, at which point the author could get grants to pay for the royalties, and could see it as an investment towards future incoming royalties. Charging whenever someone uses it keeps people from experimenting wildly and slows progress significantly. Of course, the resolution of the story would make no sense in that case since a robot's internal computations are not published (though maybe it would work since the robot's JUDGING results are published, and the computations could be seen as a necessary step to reach those results).

Anyway, not saying at all that the story should be different, just thinking further about the problems inherent in the system.

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by strawman » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:15 pm

If you think that the nature of discovery is merely being the first to learn a truth, then a lot of intellectual property stakes a claim on things the "owning" of which represents a kind of theft of the truth from those who arrive at it subsequently. My gene sequence, for example. Who has rights to it? Can I be copyrighted? Can I infringe on myself?
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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by neenja » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:18 am

My gene sequence, for example. Who has rights to it? Can I be copyrighted? Can I infringe on myself?
I think this is the first to point at what I thought the author was getting at... which is the absurdity of patents that are not a method or an idea, but an actual reflection of the laws of nature, EG Genetic patents, or in the case of the story, laws of nature...

An interesting take off of this story is that fundamental usage(IE doing, not just saying) of the theorem as an operating principle was not exempted, and actually generated fees. One could extrapolate this, and come to the conclusion that whosoever developed a grand unified field theory of physics would automatically own the universe under these laws, by reason of it using the principles of said theory. A bit pedantic, but valid I feel.

and who wouldn't want to sue the universe for infringement....

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by Polecat » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:36 am

Oh man of straw, you've done it again...

"If you think that the nature of discovery is merely being the first to learn a truth..."

The first on whose terms? Columbus is said to have "discovered" your fair country, which had already been populated by humans for quite some time. In european terms (excluding some Vikings living pretty much in isolation), this is true, in terms of mankind in general, totally fallacious. If I journey to a (for me) new place, or learn a (for me) new truth I have personally "discovered" it, which may be very important on a personal level, but in universal terms mean precisely squat.
The concept of intellectual property has always been difficult, and in what we laughably call "the information age" it is becoming increasingly problematic. When Simon and Garfuncle "published" Scarborough Fair under their own name, it enraged the british guitarrist Martin Carthy, who had taught the song to Paul Simon and felt ripped off - he, in turn had learnt the song from a book by Cecil Sharp. The iconic Richard Hell still feels rankled that the Sex Pistols stole his "Blank Generation" and turned it into the huge hit "Pretty Vacant" although Hell's composition has harmonic antecedents going back at least as far as the tudor hit "Greensleeves", and in terms of the philosophical point of view that he is expressing, it is pretty firmly rooted in the ideas of Sartre or Camus.

The idea of copyrighting (or patenting) a gene sequence strikes me as totally unjust - how can anyone own the rights to the result of something that happened by chance? That is as patently absurd as the precept on which the story (which I haven't discussed, apologies for that) is based. That doesn't seem to deter various drug, fertiliser and I don't know what all else companies from attempting (sometimes successfully) to do so. In its own way, the world in which we live is just as insane as the one Prof. Hillabin is marooned on (which might be the point of the story...)

If I have a New Idea for something which will be beneficial, useful or merely desirable to my fellow man, yes, I should have the chance to benefit materially from my "discovery", that is naturally just, but make no mistake, it will not be long before somebody copies my idea and also tries to benefit from it, that is inevitable, and so long as it does not result in my dying in penury, I think it must be tolerated, because trying to stop it is a huge waste of effort. Also, as I hope I have illustrated, no matter how innovative we feel our Idea/Discovery/Invention to be, we are all standing on the shoulders of giants, and there is indeed nothing new under the sun.

respectfully,

the polecat

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Re: Drabblecast 247 - How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 C

Post by El Barto » Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:32 am

munsi wrote:is it me, or has Drabblecast been absolutely KILLING it with quirk lately? super fun story, very breezy. the questions about how humanity progresses with these copyright fees did occur to me, but i quoted the MST3K motto, went with the conceit, and found the show tremendously entertaining. good one!
Nope, it's not just you. They've been on a roll. This one was great.

And as for the question of when they started collecting royalties in this world - I would guess not back in ancient times but rather at some point someone "discovered" the concept of royalties and then everytime had to pay a royalty to someone else, they also had to pay a royalty to the inventor of royalties.

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