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Media Synthesis and Advanced Additive Manufacturing will bring IP law and potentially capitalism itself to an extreme tipping point

media synthesis 3D printing Richard Stallman capitalism economy future

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#1
Yuli Ban

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Richard Stallman once said
"With software there are only two possibilities: either the users control the program or the program controls the users. If the program controls the users, and the developer controls the program, then the program is an instrument of unjust power."

 

Back in the day (around 2015, 2016 especially) I realized this was true in terms of 3D printing/additive manufacturing. Now I understand this is also true for media synthesis. Copyright and IP were meant to protect creators from theft in an economy similar to what we saw in the 19th and 20th centuries, to help respect property in a fiercely competitive market. 

 

But now we're approaching an age when copyright and IP could very well instigate and justify a new form of totalitarianism. 

 

When copyright laws were being written, most people were not artisans or musicians or industrialists. Even as technology progressed, most people didn't become any of these things— but it did become easier. And now the line between some of them are blurring. What is a content creator? Anyone who creates content to be consumed. So that includes memes, right? If I create a meme, isn't that now my content? Couldn't I charge people to create my memes? Theoretically, I could. The reason I don't is because there's no precedent for it and social expectations mean we don't usually make the attempt.

 

This is one of the things the EU's copyright initiative is meant to answer and regulate. 

 

Same deal as if I wanted to sell, say, Doritos. I can't just make Doritos; that infringes upon copyright. And how would I make them anyway? I don't have any of the ingredients or machines necessary. 

 

I don't today, at least. 

 

What about music? We all know of music piracy. Once upon a time, it was a major source of debate; now it happens and no one bats and eye because there's no point trying to combat it all. In fact, in an attempt to stop it, some channels on YouTube decided to make it so that only certain artists' music videos could be uploaded— in other words, if you wanted to hear that artists' other music, you have to actually buy it. Except you might not want to buy it if you've never heard it in the first place; you're only going to stick with the music videos you can still steal, so now the regulators just screwed the content creators themselves. Regulations are meant to help consumers; when the consumer is the enemy, they only hurt everyone, including the creators. 

 

In the future, it's going to get even starker and more idiotic (or idioteque, I could say).

 

Expert: AI-generated music is a "total legal clusterf*ck"

As aforementioned, I've thought about this. Future music generation means that all IPs are open, any new music can be created from any old band no matter what those estates may want, and AI-generated music exists in a legal tesseract of answerless questions.

The article uses Beyoncé, but the artist on my mind for years now is Kurt Cobain. Cobain's estate and fans are notoriously tight about how he's portrayed. They really don't appreciate any attempts to "bring him back" such as in video game or hologram form.
 
So imagine it's 2029 and there's a music generating program where you can synthesize entirely new Nirvana songs or put Cobain's voice in other songs. I can already imagine the vitriol!
 
I know there are other artists who are uptight about this sort of thing as well; Cobain was just the one I've focused on for a while. Point is, absolutely no one expected or is expecting this technology, so naturally there's nothing written to deal with it. I can imagine some will attempt to form lawsuits: you can't create music that uses Kurt Cobain's voice or sounds like anything he produced or messes with anything he produced. With someone so protected by pop culture, you couldn't even buy a license for this because "that's just digital slavery of artists". So either music synthesizing programs are heavily controlled or outright banned. 
What about all those samples of Cobain in other music? Or covers of Nirvana's music? Well, we had to deal with them at some point. To quote another band that people might get defensive over, what better place than here and what better time than now?
 
Except to keep the quote going, all Hell can't stop this now. We're not just dealing with mere piracy; we're dealing with technology that's on par with magic. You could put Dolly Parton in a death metal band or 2-Pac in a polka group. It's like nothing we've ever seen before. And it's nothing physical either; it's not like only one company can ever create this because they're the ones that own the material and they can perfectly control where and when it's used. 
 
But what about the physical side of this? What about advanced 3D printing? If enough people get their hands on it, the power of centralized corporations could be vastly reduced. If I wanted to produce something in my own home that someone else is selling, how could they stop me? 
You could say "as long as I don't resell it, it's fine", but think about that for a moment. If everyone could create Doritos in their own home, what's the point of selling Doritos anymore? Should Frito-Lay get royalties for every time I fabricate something? Does this mean it costs a subscription to use 3D printers? Well fun times ahoy, because now you're getting pirated and jailbroken 3D printers. 

 

This is really just the surface of a litany of legal questions that can be asked. And all of this is likely going to lead to one of three possibilities:

 

  • Pirate economies and a possible alternative realization of communism in a very distorted, much freer form since consumers now control the means of production and can produce according to their own needs. 
  • Pure corporatocratic totalitarianism, with governments controlling every facet of information and all IP: total control of information is the only way to stop IP theft, meaning some governing body has to know exactly what you are consuming and how you are consuming it at all times, even in the past through your memories, so as to not infringe upon content rights.
  • Primitivistic tendencies, perhaps artisan-primitivism driving it in the beginning over "moral quandaries" of IP theft being utterly unstoppable, which would lead to forced technological stagnation and use of media synthesis and advanced additive manufacturing only being in the hands of an elite few, further defended on moral grounds of protecting artists and creators.

I can't foresee anything like the status quo being upheld except in the early years when these technologies are just getting off the ground. 


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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#2
starspawn0

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Those technologies will cause problems with copyrights and trademarks, and people aren't prepared to deal with it, indeed.

However: if people only consume media personalized to their tastes, they give up on experiences like going to a movie theater where everyone watches the same movie, or going to a rock concert where everyone hears and likes the same song. I think people will still want these experiences. So, there will still be a large market for content that isn't unique to each consumer.

Now, that content need not be generated by a human; but here, too, in a lot of cases it will be: when people see a movie or listen to music, a lot of the time they want to know who the actors and musicians are; and they may follow them around on the internet, and read celebrity news pieces. So, there will still be a desire to have actual human actors and musicians. However, some portion of the market will not care, just as people don't often care how animated films are made.
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#3
Yuli Ban

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^ While true, the point I'm making is more that lawyers and some particularly defensive creators will simply not stand for any copyright infringement regardless of how many people still want to hear and see real creators of content. Some could call them greedy; others could call them concerned. Today, 10,000 people might stream a band's content and pay to hear them, and they may know that piracy of their music happens but they can't really prosecute any single person over it because they'd basically be going up against half the internet and could face severe harassment from those who might otherwise be their fans over being greedy. If you want to go to their concert, you have to actually go there. VR concerts aren't a big thing yet, and CG versions of bands are very rare and typically not very good by current CG standards.

In 20 years, a similar band could discover that fans have created a bunch of alternative versions of them that host concerts in VR or even AR and want to take legal action, claiming they're deeply uncomfortable with how they're portrayed here when they're more concerned with the fact these fans have monetized the alternate version of the band by selling tickets to these virtual concerts. Lawyers, perhaps automated lawyers, hop on top of it and come to the defense of the band and those like them and say you can't feature their likeness in any project without their permission. At the time, it's just limited to publicly hosting and reselling their likeness— it's already a thing in the mainstream that if you want neural network-based recreations of famous musicians from the past in your musical project (e.g. Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, etc.) you have to pay some sort of license and royalties, and if you don't have permission, you're breaking the law and could be jailed. 

Eventually, though, some musicians may become so neurotic about this that they demand that even private hostings of entertainment that feature them shouldn't be allowed. Especially if you haven't already purchased anything from them beforehand. Or maybe AI-generated music winds up being too close to their own style and songs and they can prove it, resulting in them demanding certain notes, riffs, chord progressions, etc. are trademarked. Conversely, AI may essentially find every single chord progression imaginable and a particularly greedy company could trademark them all ahead of time, demanding payment from anyone using them. 

And so on and so forth. 

 

In other words: the Singularity, ruined by lawyers.


  • Erowind likes this

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#4
kjaggard

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Um I can make doritoes at home. It'll take 1.5 hours and cost me about 3.40 for a 10 oz bag.... or I can go buy a 16oz bag for $5 in a few minutes at the walmart down the road and grab a mountain dew while I'm there.

 

and pirated and jailbroken 3d printers... um repraps were a think ten years ago, and most of the comercial ones out there are based on the most successful model of reprap, only worked to use special proprietary spool or filiment sizes or special filiment or resin formulations. The commercially available 3d printers are actually a sign of the reverse of what you are suggesting. the hackers and hobby engineers created something they shared freely and the companies came along and said, "You mean I can have these designs for free. yoink!" and ran off to modify them so that rather than a cheap spool of PLA to use it, it now work more like a commercial 2d printer with printer cartridges that is how they actually make steady profit from the consumer once you bought their device. Almost like a subscription fee if you will (and yes filiment has a shelf life).

 

The holographic performers trick that is an illusion called peppers ghost, in was part of many stage shows in the late 1800s. we've had the capabilities to make any person we have film or even still photos of holographically appear on stage for decades, maybe even a century at this point.

 

Look I get that some of this is down to me being something of an accumulating sponge for esoteric knowledge and skills that not everybodyelse can know or do... But the point stands in most of these cases that we have always had access to and the ability to do and use any of these things. The patent processes are ment to protect the means of production, not the product. you can't patent the 3 musketeers bar, just the manufacturing process used to make them, If I can make them in another way then technically the law says I don't have to worry at all.

 

Now that doesn't mean a company with 300 million in pocket change and 40 lawyers on retainer can't use intimidation tactics and or spend chump change to them to tie me up in court past my ability to pay for defense and sink my business. Nor does it take into account that some judges don't know or understand the law well enough to recognise the truth or perhaps the know it but are either so conservative or bought that they rule against the small creator.

 

Then again that hasn't stopped patent trolls either.

 

The fact of the matter is that one of the biggest issues at the core of this all is simply an error of definition of capitalism. If I put a $5 on the table infront of me, the people in charge of these companies already think it's theirs. They take it for granted that all things I use or own will have to come from them in one way or the other. It doesn't and they don't.

 

The catch is, and the place where they actually reside in this system is... while I can fabricate an entire door handle with bump proof lock from stuff I can get out of the trash can, it's more efficient to use my time elsewhere and I can buy from them.

 

Just because I can do things doesn't mean I want to or that it's the best use of my time.

 

Those out there sell things best remember their place in that formula. If it's more effective for me to make it for myself, you done fucked up. Trying to change the laws to make me pay you is a symptom of having lost sight of your place in the fabric of social order. The products you make, are not the token efforts you put in to look like you're doing something to claim "your money" that I've mearly been holding in my pockets until you could claim it from me. Contribute to society or die off.

 

That confrontation is going to happen in the next decade. Mark my words.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: media synthesis, 3D printing, Richard Stallman, capitalism, economy, future

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