MeFi admin double standard for posts? January 23, 2006 11:13 AM   Subscribe

At the same time that mathowie posts a site hosting game ROMs from the 1980s, my link to a BitTorrent file of a 1950s and -60s recording of a 19th century classical work was removed. Funny ol' world...
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome to Etiquette/Policy at 11:13 AM (95 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If it was deleted because the questioner said he intended to purchase a copy but needed to decide which performance to buy... well, what better way to judge than by listening to it?

Being a BitTorrent file, no copyrighted data is stored by the site I linked to; unlike the C64 site for instance.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2006


Live and learn.
posted by mischief at 11:18 AM on January 23, 2006


Not to mention that the c64s appears to have ripped off Dan Cedarholm's site design, too.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2006


He can post anything he wants. You can not.
posted by smackfu at 11:54 AM on January 23, 2006


Bittorrent downloads of CDs still available on Amazon? That's not cool. That's pretty close to the current RIAA legal definition of "stealing". If Ask MeFi was filled with requests for albums and bittorrent links, it could bring a heap of trouble my way and jeopardize the future of the site.

Some site that lets you play copyleft and abandonware games inside a browser, with no downloads whatsoever? Not exactly the same thing.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2006


with no downloads whatsoever

Ees a miracle!
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:05 PM on January 23, 2006


I copied Protocols' link before it was deleted.

Wagner lovers and neonazis are free to email me
posted by matteo at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2006


with no downloads whatsoever

wow, mathowie has revolutionized TCP/IP!
posted by keswick at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2006


Life is so unfair.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2006


I point out the difference between downloadable ROMs and playing in java in a browser because if someone linked to some streaming music instead of a bittorrent copy of a CD still for sale, I'd leave the streaming, non-downloadable music link up.

Nerds can argue that streaming means digital bits are in fact downloading, but I'm looking at this from a practical view.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:14 PM on January 23, 2006


mathowie writes "Nerds can argue"

Yes, they can.

*shakes head*

Yes, they can.
posted by OmieWise at 12:16 PM on January 23, 2006


Both links are inappropriate.
posted by cellphone at 12:18 PM on January 23, 2006


Cellphone I think you've crossed the line.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2006


omg mathowie called me a nerd!!!1 that's +10 cred points
posted by keswick at 12:20 PM on January 23, 2006


*gets popcorn* I love having Mondays off!!
posted by wheelieman at 12:23 PM on January 23, 2006


Nerds can argue that streaming means digital bits are in fact downloading, but I'm looking at this from a practical view.
posted by mathowie at 2:14 PM CST on January 23 [!]


More like personal semantic view. Downloading is downloading. The legality is still questionable.
posted by cellphone at 12:23 PM on January 23, 2006


cellphone, playing a java game online is the exact same thing as running game applications on your desktop? There's no difference there?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:25 PM on January 23, 2006


The java is being executed on your PC.
posted by cellphone at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2006


*in a quiet tone* For those who just joined our thread, Cellphone just accuseed mathowie of posting a bad link.... Lets watch!!
posted by wheelieman at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2006


I understand mathowie's point and I won't link to dubious bittorrents any more. Java games aren't streamed though; they're downloaded and stored in a cache on your hard drive like anything else, so I don't see how streaming is relevant.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:28 PM on January 23, 2006


So, you can still play them offline for instance.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:28 PM on January 23, 2006


*in a quiet tone* For those who just joined our thread, Cellphone just accuseed mathowie of posting a bad link.... Lets watch!!
posted by wheelieman at 2:26 PM CST on January 23 [!]


I didn't say anything about it being a bad link. It's great. I understand you like to put things in other people's mouths, but in this case please keep your own words out of mine.
posted by cellphone at 12:30 PM on January 23, 2006


Wait, which column does this go in?
posted by Captaintripps at 12:31 PM on January 23, 2006


How about this cellphone, if the c64s site owners are guilty of wrongdoing, the site comes down. Can you play the games anymore?

What would happen if you had say, a MAME rom and those were suddenly declared illegal. You could still play it right?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:31 PM on January 23, 2006


LOL. Consistency? Unpossible!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2006


Can you play the games anymore?

Yes, if the games are in your cache. Since Java has a seperate cache to your browser, the files tend to stick around for a long time. You could also, of course, move the files from the cache.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2006


Some links are more equal than other links.
posted by 31d1 at 12:37 PM on January 23, 2006


Again, this is the nerd version of arguing how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

A normal person would open up a browser and type in c64s to play the game, but the site would be down and the game would be gone.

Going back to the original question that prompted this thread, Legal/Illegal isn't black and white, and I would put an online site offering emulation of games you can no longer purchase in a different place than downloadable music ripped from a CD still for sale at Amazon.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:40 PM on January 23, 2006


Legal/Illegal isn't black and white

Actually, it is.
posted by keswick at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2006


Man I just love a call out of one of matt's posts.
posted by Mitheral at 12:44 PM on January 23, 2006


Fine, I'll rephrase -- the chances of the RIAA requesting a DMCA takedown of any and all bittorrent files and/or the server is quite high. The chances that the authors of 1983's BMX Race! will request a DMCA takedown of any links to sites offering their emulated game and/or the server is quite low.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:45 PM on January 23, 2006


What is Black and white and green all over?
posted by 31d1 at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2006


I agree. Academically however, I consider c64s to be unambiguously illegal, whereas I consider the bittorrent site I linked to to be unambiguously legal. I am not a lawyer.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2006


Okay, so I'm clear on this:

It's okay to post links to sites that infringe copyright as long as the chance of getting busted is low?

Right fuckin' on!
posted by keswick at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2006


Can you play the games anymore?

Yes. The files hosted by c64s are no different than ROMs, they're just packaged to run in Java. If you download the files, you can run them in your browser just as if you had loaded them from the site. Anyway, in either case the site is distributing intellectual property covered by a current copyright. Sure, the site asserts that it "assumes" that all the games are "abandonware" or "copyleft," but there's no good reason to believe that. At least some of these games are covered by a current copyright, and c64s almost certainly does not have permission to distribute those games. Whether you download and play offline or just load in your browser doesn't make any difference.

I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad post (look in my posting history, and you'll notice I posted a very similar site in the not too distant past). I'm just saying that there's not much difference between posting this site and linking to a bittorrent file.

Fine, I'll rephrase -- the chances of the RIAA requesting a DMCA takedown of any and all bittorrent files and/or the server is quite high. The chances that the authors of 1983's BMX Race! will request a DMCA takedown of any links to sites offering their emulated game and/or the server is quite low.

Ah, so you're not really concerned about the legality, just the likelihood of getting caught. Gotcha.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2006


I'm gonna have to call bullshit on the term "abandonware." I think the current state of copyright blows but that's a term that can be disingenuous rationalization at it's worst and is completely without legal value or grounding at its best. Ownership may be unclear or in flux at any given time, but unless someone misses a renewal as required by law it continues to be owned by someone and may in the future be owned by someone who doesn't want to pass it around. By trading it around in the current unclear term you're undermining their future position.

I'm not advocating on this one way or another, but if you're gonna come up with a consistent rationalization, this ain't it. The only difference that comes about from it being currently available on Amazon for you to buy is a matter of convenience for you. If you're going to allow that to sway you then perhaps you should start entertaining exemptions for people who don't have a credit card or where Amazon doesn't ship to currently.
posted by phearlez at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2006


fwiw, i really don't give a rip about infringement, just double standards
posted by keswick at 12:50 PM on January 23, 2006


So much angst.
posted by smackfu at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2006


the nerd version of arguing how many angels fit on the head of a pin

Matt, this is the perfect description of MetaFilter
posted by matteo at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2006


If this thread ends with Mathowie deleting his own post, I will eat my hat.

My delicious Bologna Bowler.
posted by Plutor at 12:55 PM on January 23, 2006


actually, i don't really care about double standards either. it's just a slow day at work.
posted by keswick at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2006


Bittorrent downloads of CDs still available on Amazon? That's not cool.

But downloading programs you can still buy used, or which the original owner can republish, that's awesome.
posted by Rothko at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2006


Ah, so you're not really concerned about the legality, just the likelihood of getting caught. Gotcha.

Or, what Monju said.
posted by Rothko at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2006


Abandonware? Personally, I prefer the term "Schiavoware."
posted by fandango_matt at 1:04 PM on January 23, 2006


say, when is filepile going to open registration again?
posted by keswick at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2006


But downloading programs you can still buy used, or which the original owner can republish, that's awesome.

Rothko, I want to party at your house, with your still-working c64.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:14 PM on January 23, 2006


Just because the ESA is less vigilant than the RIAA/MPAA does not mean they are completely asleep at the wheel.
posted by Ryvar at 1:17 PM on January 23, 2006


Rothko, I want to party at your house, with your still-working c64.

Sure thing. I think I have Marble Madness and Amnesia around here somewhere. I'll even break out the party hats.
posted by Rothko at 1:18 PM on January 23, 2006


Plutor:My delicious Bologna Bowler.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2006


It should also be pointed out that Commodore 64 games are, in fact, easily available through commercial channels. Gametap has a ton, and I think you can also buy compilations for current-gen consoles.
posted by selfnoise at 1:21 PM on January 23, 2006


I want to party at your house, with your still-working c64.

It doesn't have to be republished on a c64 cartridge, or whatever they used. (I think I had a vic20, and I can't remember if they used similar media.) The copyright owner could just as easily authorize the republication of a collection of the games on a disk packaged with an emulator. Or, as selfnoise points out, you can license the games for use in legitimate online gameplay, like through Gametap.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:23 PM on January 23, 2006


Rothko, I want to party at your house, with your still-working c64.

I have a still working c64, and maaaaaybe, the monitor (although you can hook it up to the TV).

it's pretty rad. It's got the cartridge slot, and I got that 1541 bad boy.

i think i can still find a stack of floppies for it, including the all-time great "California Games" (which I first witnessed being played at computer camp -- by a kid wearing gaming gloves and using the epyx joystick, no less!*). I've also got "Super Sunday" in there, and maybe "Battlin' Bands", "Rampage" and "Gauntlet". There's some good ones, I swear. Also, a bucketload of public domain software that your uncle might have written.

AWESOME!


$100.** mail me.

* by then my fate was sealed. Let's review. 1) went to computer camp. Check. 2) saw a kid playing a video game with speciality "gaming gear" on and thought it was cool. Check. 3) Did not even come close to getting laid in my teenage career. Check.

** PSYCHE I'LL NEVAR SELL OUT.

posted by fishfucker at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2006


The copyright owner could just as easily authorize the republication of a collection of the games on a disk packaged with an emulator.

As Atari and Namco have done with Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Galaga and other games. It's not that wild an idea, Matt, even coming from someone like me.
posted by Rothko at 1:28 PM on January 23, 2006


3) Did not even come close to getting laid in my teenage career.

This explains so much.
posted by keswick at 1:28 PM on January 23, 2006


3) Did not even come close to getting laid in my teenage career. Check.

Wow. Every illusion I had about fishfucker destroyed in one swift, brutal stroke.
posted by Ryvar at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2006


Fuck. keswick R WIN
posted by Ryvar at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2006


That's pretty close to the current RIAA legal definition of "stealing".

well, for one it's a recording of wagner, so the copyright with respect to the original composer is extinct, is it not? the specific performance of wagner's material would still be covered by some copyright, but the original is public domain.

for two, copyright infringement is not "stealing," not now, not ever, and to say so internalizes RIAA propaganda.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:34 PM on January 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


ryvar: how did you get my full name?!?!
posted by keswick at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2006


Ironically, I didn't pay for the games when I played them on my C-64 either. "Don't copy that floppy" indeed.
posted by smackfu at 1:38 PM on January 23, 2006


The Kai told me.
posted by Ryvar at 1:39 PM on January 23, 2006


Interesting link to disk protection methods used on the C64 platform. Maybe you could add this to your post, Matt?
posted by Rothko at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2006


I recall in my misspent youth, they actually had "computer shows" at the mall and computer club meetings at local pizzerias. People would schlep their computers out and swap discs like crazy.

The local computer club was known as RTCE (ostensibly Redding Technology and Computer Enthusiasts), but allegedly stood for Ready To Copy Everything.

Ah, memories.

Disclaimer: Naturally, I was not involved in any of these reprehensible activities.
posted by keswick at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2006


the C=64 had copy protection?
posted by keswick at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2006


If this thread ends with Mathowie deleting his own post, I will eat my hat.

What will you eat if jessamyn deletes it?
posted by timeistight at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2006


Remember the hole drilled through the original disks?
posted by Rothko at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2006


keswick writes "the C=64 had copy protection"

And an industry of software to copy protected games.
posted by Mitheral at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2006


I'm not going to remove the post or append it. Rothko, nothing is stopping you from posting comments on the thread.

By the way in other questionable legal news, there are links to allofmp3 on metafilter too.

I just don't want direct BT download links to FR33 MUSIC and WAREZ!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2006


that's for filepile.
posted by keswick at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2006


A mathowie flameout would have made this day EPIC. As it stands, it's merely amusing.
posted by JeffK at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2006


Ooo, the games from c64s are in fact on Amazon here and here. Somehow this console-in-a-joystick phenomenon has passed me by.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2006


This edge is razor sharp.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2006


Rothko, nothing is stopping you from posting comments on the thread.

You're right. Nevermind.
posted by Rothko at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2006


Ooo, the games from c64s are in fact on Amazon here and here.

Very cool. My C64 joystick always broke after a few months. Too much abuse.
posted by Rothko at 2:18 PM on January 23, 2006


keswick writes "It's okay to post links to sites that infringe copyright as long as the chance of getting busted is low?"

This is why I sent out DMCA notices with alacrity. But then, I know a lot of lawyers.
posted by orthogonality at 2:23 PM on January 23, 2006


Your warranty doesn't cover that kind of usage.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 2:23 PM on January 23, 2006


unless someone misses a renewal as required by law

Renewals are not required by law.
posted by kindall at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2006


Your warranty doesn't cover that kind of usage.

I know a lot of lawyers. I worked it out, in the end.
posted by Rothko at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2006


I didn't say anything about it being a bad link. It's great. I understand you like to put things in other people's mouths, but in this case please keep your own words out of mine.

Sorry, I misread your comment.
posted by wheelieman at 2:35 PM on January 23, 2006


I think Matt is taking a very reasonable stance here.
posted by caddis at 2:46 PM on January 23, 2006


But he should flame out anyway. Come on, it would be the Greatest Day in the History of MetaFilter!
posted by languagehat at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2006


Wouldn't it also be the last day in Metafilter history?
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:07 PM on January 23, 2006


Kindall took a minute to be mostly wrong and said "Renewals are not required by law."

I refer you to http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/renewals.html

While they may no longer be required, there was a period of time when they were and if they were not, they expired. In the context of C64 games it's irrelevant (since I suspect none pre-date 1964 - interesting numeric synergy there!) but I was speaking more generally about this bullshit concept of "abandonware" and ownership persistence.
posted by phearlez at 3:07 PM on January 23, 2006


I suppose I should have said "renewals are no longer required by law." Indeed, I'm not an ignoramus about copyright; I had merely assumed it would be understood that my comments referred to the discussion at hand.

In the context of C64 games it's irrelevant

In other words, I was mostly right, which on MetaFilter is referred to as "mostly wrong."
posted by kindall at 3:19 PM on January 23, 2006


New and improved DMCA notices! Now with alacrity!
also active liposomes
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2006


warez.metafilter.com -- for MeFi Platinum™ account holders only.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:21 PM on January 23, 2006


nothing makes a point like calling people "nerds" (some severe irony at play there, btw) and putting kiddie speak in their mouths. watch out for DMCA notices from high school bullies all over the world.
posted by mr.marx at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2006



warez.metafilter.com -- for MeFi Platinumâ„¢ account holders only.


membership does have its privileges!
posted by keswick at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2006


wowsers.

Guess what kittlings. We're All of us still trying to figure out what is legal/illegal & ethical/unethical. It's a grey old area, and nobody knows what to do with the stuff which is still under copyright, but no longer being produced. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it wrong. Give Matt a break. He made a call and a post got deleted. What you probably never see is the cool sites he *never* posts because he knows that they cross the copyright line.

As for the whole... "If I can get away with it, I'll do it" thing, that's fine too. In the absence of any predictable rules about intellectual property, the right thing to do is probably to keep trying stuff until someone scary says that you shouldn't really be doing it. The more definable the legal situation is, the better for the rest of us.

Of course, I realise that I've accused metaflter & Matt of exactly the same thing with regard the copying of copyrighted poetry on metafilter & you could accuse me of hypocrisy here, but I think I'm coming round to the "If I'll get slapped down for it I won't do it & otherwise I will" way of doing things.
posted by seanyboy at 4:34 PM on January 23, 2006


Oh man, what a great flameout it would be indeed.

Screw you guys. I'm taking my site and going home!

But personally, I'd want it to be more eventful. You know, life revelations or something. Yeah, more fire and stuff.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:37 PM on January 23, 2006


so I don't get it, what is it about the bittorent link to the wagner performance that is "unambiguously legal?" I ask because I don't know what performance or if anyone owns a copyright to it or whatever. I mean, if there is NO copyright held on the piece, then what's the problem?
posted by shmegegge at 5:22 PM on January 23, 2006


In other words, I was mostly right, which on MetaFilter is referred to as "mostly wrong."

Bravo.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:34 PM on January 23, 2006


There certainly is copyright in the recording, owned by the record company or whatever conglomerate has bought it out. However, I consider the act of hosting all kinds of BitTorrent files to be (currently) legal, because you are not hosting or sharing copyrighted data - only the people who choose to activate the files are doing that. I consider linking to a site that has BitTorrent files to be doubly legal.

The legality of BitTorrent trackers is slightly more questionable, but I also believe those are legal for the same reason. None of this has reached a major court anywhere in the world, as far as I know. BitTorrent technology is not comparable to Kazaa or Morpheus. It is also non-centralised and non-commercial.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 5:36 PM on January 23, 2006


"how many angels fit on the head of a pin"

Measure the area of the head of the pin. Determine the area required to hold one angel. Divide the former by the latter. The arithmetic is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:51 PM on January 23, 2006


calc.exe keeps giving me '666.666666' when I try that, crash. Did I mess up somehow?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:01 PM on January 23, 2006


from what I know if IP law, Monju is right that it's technically a violation of copyright law, however the chances of any negative consequences are miniscule.

In particular, while the authors of the software could request that the file be taken down, they could not seek financial damages unless they registered their work with the copyright office.

Also, I believe copyright law was a little different when these were written, it's possible that the copyright expired and was never renewed, although I'm not sure.

Only a fool would claim that copyright infringement is morally wrong in all cases.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on January 30, 2006


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