Diskcopy a: b:


Many years ago, a typical “gamer” collection would look like this…

The central issue around Copyright is not the tone of the laws that are devised to protect it or  if they are tweaked in favor of some companies or individuals, it is that the users of a copyrighted work, must understand the effort and merit of the author and somehow compensate its creator in a useful way.

Also, remember that copyright is not an issue of the digital realm, it is a human issue that has aggravated due to the existence of technology and the web.

When I was in high school, long before internet, students were taught to use “diskcopy”, to backup a 330Kb, 5 1/4″ diskette. You had to insert your original floppy disk in drive “a” and then the destination one in other drive, usually labelled “b” then write this sentence in the console:

diskcopy a: b:

After a series of thud, thud, funny sounds, you will eventually get a copy of the first disk. If you wanted to protect it from being written again (not copied), you had to put a small label (masking tape also worked) on a small notch at the side of the floppy disk.

This was the way to copy anything in the era of floppy drives. I remember hordes of games, software and even homework circulating around, nobody cared or taught us about copyright infringement, we were teen criminals!  On those days, copying software was as simple as going to the computer lab with a copy of the original software and write that famous sentence on the screen. Thus, one of my first businesses in school was to sell floppies to my colleagues, who usually forgot their class-required diskette at home or who maybe wanted to make… more copies.

This example, has much in common with what is happening today. Downloadable content is available everywhere in the web, free, trial and licensed. Among the sites that offer “free” stuff, people has devised new ways to amortize or return an investment, be it a small banner ad, or some quiz, perhaps just all your personal information submitted to Facebook, who knows? (I am sure some of the guys behind this probably were part of the diskcopy fever 30 years ago).

The fact is that nothing is free on the web, whether they share your information, or they add you to their mailing list, or install some “who knows what” software or applet in your device, (something they have found profitable). You are paying a cost for what you use. You are turned into merchandise and inserted in the block.

Today, after learning of the virtues of Copyright my view has changed and it is important to me to have a clear view of the Copyright issue, all I know is I support the idea of authors and creatives being fairly compensated for their work, as well as the company that publish them having revenues out of their venture.

I also understand, today Copyright is not preserved in the good will, but in the courts, whether they are fair or not it is a war of perception with tints in black and white only with the tone set by the amount of money you can understand. Seems that if your work is good enough, someone will try to steal it or hop into the same train claiming their own work is innovating or even improving yours. This applies to individuals and companies equally, just like the diskcopy fever 30 years ago, when things are easily available, its easy to forget the effort and creativity put into it. Also, make no mistake, improving something is never the same as to create it.

Copyright laws tone may be oppressive and unfair, apparently devised to make companies to squeeze consumers of every penny in exchange for their products, but we have to consider they are also the result of a historic process in consumers’ habits that has lead or at least justified in the eyes of lawmakers, for intellectual rights protections to become so strict, the result of a starving audience that wish more and more -free- stuff and had lost perspective as to the cost and effort to develop any of the commodities we have today.

Systems like Blockchain are emerging to offer new solutions to this issue, basically, once you get a product or work protected by it, then no matter who shares it, a record in the chain will be kept thus, rising their initial coin offering. And this is a very reasonable way to achieve the goal of Copyright I mentioned at the start. However, this technology alone will not solve anything, because the problem resides in how we educate ourselves and future generations about this matter and how we treat creators about this.

I did also copied a couple games myself by the way, but only one worked, seems that after many copies, something was missing and the space-shooter either did not run or had awful graphics with asterisks showing all around the screen. Perhaps that experience changed my mind or perhaps I realized there were other ways to get things.

For example: Shareware software was a model used by many authors and publishers, they provided you with a sample of the game or software (you still paid for the floppy sample) and if you really liked the product, you could mail $20 dollars (check) to them in a self stamped envelope to get the full product. It was not a bad idea, unfortunately, it did not lasted enough, probably because someone got the full version and just made copies of it. To my surprise, one of those games is still around in Steam, although I do not get why today you need 2GB of RAM when my good ol’ computer had something like 512Kb, or 1/2 Mb (1 GB = 1,000 Mb = 1,000,000 Kb), which is A LOT less memory.

In any case, in this world full of quick challenges, it is our responsibility to find new ways to promote and protect the contents we publish. I do not dare to say this or that method will solve the matter, but I am clear we have to be very clear and knowledgeable on what those laws state and how can we use them or -if possible- change them for the benefit of authors and readers/users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply