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The Pile: Thoughts, Life, and Photography of Joshua Davis

RIAA: Saving CDs To Computer Is Illegal

Copyright law was never intended to prop dieing business models. It was designed to promote societal advancement. The RIAA doesn’t understand that. The Washington Post has an article which tells of a man being sued for ripping songs from CDs he purchased to his computer for personal use only. They claim he needs to buy another copy of the song to use it on his computer.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

Copyright law, when invented by George Washington lasted a maximum of 30 years, but usually only 15. It was designed so that authors, artists, and scientists wouldn’t have to compete against their own work if say, someone else decided they could sell a cheaper copy of an authors book. Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Conor said:

The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but [t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art.

Propping up the 20 year old model of selling $15 CDs with only a few good tracks is clearly not advancing science, the arts, or business innovation. Especially when there are solutions like iTunes and Amazon MP3 where consumers can legally download an album for less than $10.

Previous cases in which defendants where sued for saving TV programs to VHS tapes for viewing at a later date where found to be under the fair use provision, so I can only hope the courts will use this same wisdom in this case.

But the real issue is not what the judges will do, it is a problem with American copyright law. At dozens of pages lawyers must specialize in one facet of copyright law. Expiration dates are complicated, and what fair use is and isn’t is overly convoluted. Of course the workman is worth of his wages, but the consumer needs protections too. Let’s go back to George Washington’s idea of 30 years and no one else can sell or distribute the copyright holders work.

Filed under: American Politics, Creative Commons, History, Technology

When Will Iraq Be Able To Celebrate Independence Day?

When I hear the first fireworks explode on the Fourth I jump slightly. Then I remember it’s the fourth. Then I think about Iraq, and how an Iraqi wouldn’t jump at the sound of a small explosion, much less a larger one.

So when will the Iraqis get some of the freedoms that Americans enjoy? Like not having to worry about getting machined gunned down when troops bust into your home, or being blow up when at the grocery store. While us Americans remember the countries 230th birthday, I hope we remember those same people that want freedom from the bigger, oppressive force. Instead of more bloodshed why not give the Iraqis the freedom they want by letting them determine the future of their country, whoever they decided to work it out, by force, or by peaceful political means.

Filed under: American Politics, History, War & Peace

Impressions of 9.11

I lived in Washington, DC when 9/11 happened. My mom had quit working at the Pentagon less than a year before. Her boyfreind still worked there. I knew people who heard the bang. But the first days, weeks, maybe even months, I didn’t feel affected. Then somewhere a changed happened. But not that much.

But then seeing the hole in the ground from New York made me feel different. Being in World Financial Center 3, which was heavily damaged, seemed to add realism. I finally felt emotion for the victims. I felt an anger towards the perpetrators, and then, for a brief moment, I understood why some people where so hateful of Muslims.

Probably should have posted this to my private blog, but for some reason I felt like sharing this with more people.¬† I’d like to know how you felt about this event too, how it impacted you.

Filed under: American Politics, History

Is English the “Right” Langauge?

The federal government made English the official language of the US, and now Oklahoma wants to. This time it’s to rid themselfs of the American Indian tongue

The founders of this country deliberately made no language official, because they knew America was a melting pot. During that same time there was debate on what should the official one be, some said French, others said Spanish, but somewhere along the route English became defacto.

It’s unfortunate that the government wants everything to be the same. You know, we all eat the same food, watch the same tv, where the same clothes, and now they want us all to speak the same. The next thing governments will institute is what dialect of English is official.

Filed under: American Politics, History

Dubai, the next Harlem?

Development in Dubai, UAS. The next Times Square, or the next Harlem?

I dislike suburban tract development, because it lacks architectural diversity. In Dubai 20+ story buildings are constructed, that look nearly identical. They’re also pedestrian unfriendly, and consume virgin land. In a country where wealth comes from the automobile it isn’t surprising this city is hostile to mass transit, and pedestrian based citizens.

The design of Dubai may prove more fatal, than American suburban design because of the cities poor urban planning. This city also has great potential to become one of the worlds poorest cities. Traffic is amoung the worlds worst, and city design is unmaintable if cheap oil (Dubai is in the Middle East) ends.

More construction in Dubai, this time it's of the Jumeirah Beach ResidenceLet’s go back to Harlem, which became black and poor because to much real estate speculation, then in a rich and suburan area, caused a bubble. Harlem is now associated with poverty. Dubai has a huge concentration of poor foreign workers for construction and services. With so many poor workers, and a large amount of unoccupied residentential it may become another Harlem.

Photos from J. Rawls (top) Ryan Lackey (bottom)

Filed under: Economy and Business, History, The City and Suburbs, The World

Same Race Relationships, Racist?

In Virginia interracial marriage use to be illegal. The first reason was likely to keep the white race pure. But in this new age should people still be concerned about the color of the person they date, fuck, or marry? My politically correct self tells me no.But then I see most white woman only want a fling with the black man, leaving the black race to perish. This sort of relationship also won’t result in a “medium colored” race, because those babies will probably be aborted. The children that live, will then not be accepted by either whites or blacks, because they don’t look like either one.

While I believe a person should be able to love whoever they want, it is also important that we make sure to not forget our ethnic and racial backgrounds. As long as someone does not rule out specific races to love, or not love, it is not racist. But when a person turns their back on their group, or refuses to have a relationship with a specific group there is a case of racism, or even self-racism.

This is in response to a post by another blogger who didn’t want to hear my view on the subject.

Filed under: Black Matters, History

What You Don’t Know About the Communist Party

The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States. For approximately the first half of the 20th century, it was the largest and most widely influential communist party in the country, and played a defining role in the U.S. labor movement from the 1920s through the 1940s. It played a key role in organizing most major industrial unions and prominently defended the rights of African-Americans throughout that period, simultaneously surviving the Palmer Raids, the first Red Scare, and many similar attempts at suppression by the Government of the United States throughout the first part of its existence.

From Wikipedia, the free enclopiadia.

Filed under: American Politics, Black Matters, Economy and Business, History

Virginia Apoligizes for Slavery

The state of Virginia passed a resolution (I’m getting tired of these… thinking about the Iraq one right now) saying they express “Profound regret,” for slavery. Among those who voted yes, was the man who said “Blacks should just get over slavery.”

The resolution also expressed regret for “The exploitation of Native Americans.” At first I was angered by the fact that it was only an apology. Then I realized, one, it would be hard to prove who where slaves in Virgina. But then it also issued an apology to the Native Americans, they easily could have included¬† a provision to repay them for the stolen land, murders, and sometimes slavery. Unlike American blacks, Native Americans generally know what tribe they came from.

And at very least they could have taken down the Statues that line Richmond roads of Confederate heros who claimed the lives of both blacks and Native Americans. But they only issued an apology. I, as a black man, don’t view it as an apology because there where no actions to prove it.

Filed under: Black Matters, History, Local Politics

Banning the Confederate Flag, Here we go Again

Senator Clinton has said South Carolina should remove the confederate flag from the courthouse grounds. I live in the South so I know what the flag is about. The flag represent oppression of blacks. But it also represents the culture and history of a people group. In America we’re entitled to freedom of speech, and the confederate flag still being flow is an expression of that. And when you get to banning one flag, another flag might be banned, like the black flag of the anarchists, or the Pan-African flag.

Filed under: American Politics, History

The Story of My Family

One day my mother was talking to my grandmother, and my grandma said, “Oh, that’s where the rich people live.” My mom replied, “No, their homes looked like ours.” My grandma thought for a moment, and realized that was true.

I really don’t know much about my family history. But I do know my family use to own land in Alabama. It was given as repayment for slavery. The local jurisdictions enacted special taxes to take back this land from blacks, and my maternal family was forced to move North. My grandma was born in Philly, her parents both died, and she and her siblings became wards of the state. At times – I believe – they starved.

Then my Grandpa was drafted by the U.S. army for the Vietnam War. An uncle told him to go the Air Force instead. His first assignment was Houston, Texas, there he met my grandmother. My granddad served his time out (he even went to Thailand), and decided to reenlist in the USAF. This took his family to places like Germany, and Nebraska. In Nebraska they bought the first piece of land since the Alabama property was seized.

Later they moved to a then largely undeveloped part of Northern Virgina. There they bought there first brand new house. It’s been twenty nine years since they purchased this house, and me, my mother, and sister still live there. The journey was not at all easy. There was a time where my Grandmother purchased food for her family with pennies. There where times when the creditors wanted to seize the house.

My mother then became the first in her family to earn a degree. She graduated from Georgia Tech, and went into the computer industry. My dad also received his degree from the Air Force Academy, later my Aunt got hers, and currently my Grandmother is working on getting her degree.

My family received almost no government assistance besides what was listed above. They went from starving, to “riches.” All I can say is I’m damn proud of the accomplishments they have made.

Filed under: Black Matters, Economy and Business, Education, Essays, History