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You guys have hit on a real pet peeve of mine. As a creative/business person I can see the points of both sides of this discussion. As an artist/creator you want fair compensation for the work you do. As a business person you want recurring revenue for existing work and control over the rights as to who, when and how others can use said work. I get that. As a consumer, you want to use the materials you paid for without an endless stream of restrictions. I get that too.
Where I have beef with all of this is; consumers should be allowed to use purchased materials long as they don’t repackage it for sale without giving credit and fair royalty compensation to the right holder. I seriously don’t have a problem with people fooling around with stuff and putting it up on the ‘Tube and such long as they don’t try to sell it. I firmly believe that artists and creators should be able to put out clear conditions as to what can and cannot be done with their work.
Where all the irritation comes from is a) the big corporations who hold many of the rights to written, visual and audio materials available to the public have recognized that the internet has this crazy ability to generate methods of drawing millions of potential paying customers to various points. However, they always realize it a day late and a dollar short. So once the cat’s out of the bag they make these mad dashes to try to get control of everything so they can successfully monetize ‘it’. With the ‘net however, that has been proving horrifically elusive.
Now to your subject of licensing, the software companies a while back clued into the ‘drug dealer’ mentality when it comes to their products (i.e. sell the mark something and then constantly make them pay for it.) If you’ve ever gotten on the ‘software upgrade go-round’ you know exactly what I’m talking about. Back in the ’90’s there was a big case about this and the software companies argued that software was similar to books and needed the same ‘copy protection’ they had. You had to pay for each copy of a book or script in the case of students in a class setting or someone doing a play and the software companies argued successfully for the same protection.
While I do see their point, I don’t fully agree with it. Not just because it’s a pain in the checkbook every time I have to upgrade or buy new software for my systems, but because there’s a flaw in their logic. Take for example an automotive tool kit. Granted you aren’t going to use the tools to cast new molds and duplicate the tools yourself, but with software you can. However, you can duplicate those tools all you want as long as you don’t sell them. Also, the same tool companies when they sell you the tools don’t sell you a license to use them. You purchase them, they’re yours. Period. The tool companies also aren’t going to hassle you because you use the same set to fix cars other than the ones you bought them for in first place.
Software companies will give you grief when you’re legitimately moving old software from a decommissioned system to a new one to make sure you’re not pirating. Which is funny by the way, because if you were pirating software, you wouldn’t call them for tech support (at least I hope not.) You can also weld wrenches together and create a new and useful tool. Just don’t sell the original work as a prototype and make sure when you patent your new wrench that there is enough differences to show it’s an original work. Software is just like that which is why they have all of those stipulations about not altering the program, but hackers and ‘modder’s’ do it all the time and often better than the original. So in a vain attempt to counter pirates, software co’s load heaps and heaps of ‘legalese’ into their EULA’s to help their case claims if they ever get an infringer into court.
So the only thing you can do is what you all have been doing. Take a hard look at your software’s EULA’s and check out that fine print. In addition go to those company websites and dig through their ‘white paper’s’ because that’s where all the clues and answers are going to be found. It all comes down to a control issue. Unfortunately, the more control the large companies try to garner, the less they have and it is the legitimate user who foots the bill.