"Copying"...what does that mean?

Tyler Durden camera_lumina at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 21 14:10:08 PST 2005

>From: "Riad S. Wahby" <rsw at jfet.org>
>To: Tyler Durden <camera_lumina at hotmail.com>
>CC: cypherpunks at jfet.org
>Subject: Re: "Copying"...what does that mean?
>Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 15:40:30 -0500
>Tyler Durden <camera_lumina at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Does this mean that enforcing copyright laws basically means 
> > experiences similar to those triggered by the "actual" recording?
>I don't think it has to be this broad to cover the mp3=copying issue.
>You can draw a continuous line from the original performance through
>one or more automated processes intended to reproduce said performance
>(recording, encoding, printing the CDs), and at all steps along the
>way the newly-created data is said to be a "copy" of the original.
>There is nothing particularly special about lossy methods of deriving
>new data from old, since it's the fact that it is so derived that
>makes it a copy.

Yes, I basically agree. But on the other hand, a bootleg in the old days 
meant braking laws regarding illicit recording of an event. (As I remember) 
you also broke a law regarding the copyright of the performance. Cassette 
copies of vinyl were a tiny bit tricky, and the "gap" allowed for copying 
for home use and maybe for a few friends.

>It's a violation of copyright to translate a book into a different
>language and sell it as your own, even if the two languages are slightly
>at odds with regard to, e.g., their colloquialisms (i.e., the
>translation is "lossy" in some way).  It's about the chain of
>derivation, not the subjective experience.
>IANAL, and I don't know if these arguments are "right" in any particular
>legal context; take this as nothing more than musings on the definition
>of a copy.

Basically, this was what I was wondering. When we move from the analog 
domain to the digital, how does one identify the data? It's no longer a 
series of 1s and 0s, because I can change the 1s in 0s in a non-correctable 
way (which is what happens with lossy compression) and still go to jail for 
transmitting that bitstream.

Without a doubt, the courts have not bothered to give precise definitions to 
what a "copy" truly is in the digital domain. Even samples count as full 
copies, apparently. This means, then, that even a small sample (ie, the 
bitstream 0101110111) is a "sample" from something somewhere (probably 
practically everything) and hence could land me in jail.

Unlike some Cypherpunks, I'm more litely anti-statist: One can only claim 
legitimacy for a state if the laws are well defined enough so as to allow 
for nonarbitrary enforcement (and I only said "claim", so I don't need 

Of course, there are probably legal arguments made somewhere that refer to 
the perceived identity of a track or sample, so I guess what I'm really 
asking is if anyone knows what they are and if they make any sense (aside 
from giving big corporates the ability to whack any college student they 
want to make an example of).


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