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Weblog:   The Right Term is Copyright Infringement
Subject:   I've invented a matter replicator
Date:   2002-12-15 19:22:15
From:   grepsedawk
With apologies to Star Trek...


I've invented a matter replicator. I can make an exact duplicate of any physical object in a matter of seconds and for free (it recombines hydrogen molecules out of water). I also open-sourced the specs for the matter replicator so anyone can make one of their own.


I have a large collection of O'Reilly books and a lot of poor geeky friends who want these books. Out of the kindness of my heart I replicated my entire collection of O'Reilly books for my friends. Hundreds of copies of "Running Linux 4th Edition" "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual".


I even went so far as to hook my matter replicator up to the Internet, and give the IP address out to the Slashdot community. Would you believe that in a matter of two months over 200,000 people replicated my collection of books? Thanks to me O'Reilly has reached a very widespread audience of people who now love their tech pubs but know they don't have to pay for them. I'm still waiting for that phone call from Tim thanking me for my service.


Maybe not the best analogy in the world, but I'm just trying to make a point. What is any industry going to do when pratically overnight people are able to get the fruits of their labor for free?


Sure, a forward thinking music publisher would have saw the advent of P2P, digital music, etc, and found a business model for it. But, it's not that easy. Even if Napster didn't have legal problems, nobody was entirely certain what their Step 4 was going to be before Step 5: Profit!


It's not like you can even count on people saying to themselves, "Wow, it sure is nice to get music files for free, but something just doesn't seem right about this. How are the artists getting paid? Should I be burning a copy of my Sting CD to share with my friend Tim even though I know both of us will be listening to it at the exact time on two different devices? That doesn't seem right, so I'm not going to do it. Even if everyone else. I'm also not going to pirate copies of Windows XP anymore."


I believe I understand what you're saying Tim. There is a market out there for the publisher that can get the digital music into the customer's hand in a way that allows him to listen to it on multiple devices. But markets take time to develop, and what do the publishers do in the meantime?

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  • Tim O'Reilly photo I've invented a matter replicator
    2002-12-16 15:51:18  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    I put my thoughts about "what to do", and why middlemen would be necessary even in the event of matter replicators, in the article entitled Piracy is Progressive Taxation. Hey -- all that content on the web is free, so why do we need Google, Yahoo! and the like (not to mention CNet, Wired, and the O'Reilly Network).... Publishing is not an artifact of physical distribution, but of the mathematics of attention.
  • I've invented a matter replicator
    2002-12-16 01:27:22  simon_hibbs [View]

    Why resort to absurd matter replicator analogies, when there are truck loads of far more relevent historical analogies available. You are writing as though music sharing was a completely new class of problem (and therefore needs new measures to regulate or eliminate it), when in fact it's merely a re-run of an old, old problem.

    Exactly the same problem was faced by sheet music publishers when photocopiers became common, a common sense solution was found. The music industry has already faced the same situation with tape recorders, there was no need to panic. The film industry should have learned their lesson over VCRs, but quite obviously they're just too mindless to do so.

    The fact is there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that music copying by consumers has harmed recording industry profits. in fact their profits rose significantly during the Napster years, and have declined since the demise of the service. Hardly compelling evidence of their claims.

    Nobody is saying that mass copying and organised redistribution of copyrighted works isn't a problem, just that harrassing consumers and removing traditional fair use behaviour hasn't solved similar problems in the past and is unlikely to do so now. Please address the point being made, and not a different point that's easier for you to attack.

    Simon Hibbs
  • Re: I've invented a matter replicator
    2002-12-15 19:37:52  jasontm [View]

    Humm.. well, here's my idea for what they could do (and i target this more to the RIAA and the MPAA than publishers like O'reilly, because i have no idea how much cash Tim is sitting on..) in the meantime..

    They could use that massive mound of cash that they have collected over the years of ripping off customers. Yeah, maybe you don't, but i consider selling a CD with 1 or 2 good songs, the remaining being crap, a rip off. It's not like they're going to go out of business 6 months after people stop buying CDs, and even then it's abserd to think that people will just stop en mass. So what if that pile of cash gets a bit smaller while they adjust to changing times?

    It's too bad they'd rather spend that pile of cash on lawyers, instead of some bright people to help them adjust..

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