Monday, March 9, 2009

Tips from Michael Robertson On Stealing Copyrighted Material

In his most recent Michael's Minute ("A Tivo for YouTube"), Michael Robertson has tips on how you can make sure and get copies of the illegally uploaded content from YouTube before it's taken down by the rightful copyright holder.

Robertson explains how "Sophisticated users have always been able to do this, but now for the first time it's point and click easy with a menu of choices next to the video that you can choose from." Gee, what a guy, helping make theft point and click easy.

Michael Robertson is ready to be your accomplice.

It seems to me that Robertson is making a career (all be it a not very successful one) out of helping you steal copyrighted material and then letting you pay him to store your stolen goods for you.

I don't think Robertson knows how to find a legit way to make money. Heck, he can't even seem to find an illegitimate way.



Anonymous said...

"I don't think Robertson knows how to find a legit way to make money."

Well, repackaging Debian and selling it for profit while calling Debian/Ubuntu users thieves for not buying into the IP protection racket from Microsoft and the RIAA is not how you win friends and influence people, that's why Linspire went down in flames.

I do kind of wish the RIAA would sue Robertson though, I really don't care who wins, it would be like a Jerry Springer slap fight, both sides are scum, but it is worth bringing the popcorn for.

Bartski said...

What I thought was the most funny thing about Michael's Minute was the fact that he presented the download helper firefox add-on as something revolutionary and new.

I've been using that same plug-in forever.

Not that I'm promoting piracy or theft of intellectual property - but sometimes that clip from Pushing Daisies is just easier to snag from Youtube than ripping it from your DVDs.

Kevin Carmony said...


Yep, I believe in respecting IP. Got me there.

You and Robertson must have a lot in common.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I should clarify?

I believe in the copyright system, I believe in patents, but not in the way they are implemented.

Both last way longer than they were originally intended to, and you can get a patent on crazy things that you never intend to do anything at all with.

It's a ploy by rich special interests to (1) Make sure that nothing they create will effectively ever be in the public domain. -and- (2) Make sure that patent trolling is widespread.

Tell me how much money I'd have if I went back to 1980 and took out patents on things that vaguely described digital music, video game consoles and accessories, and things like keyboards and mice. It's ridiculous, it's ludicrous, and I am not bound to support such activity.

Show me the law that says I have to pay Microsoft or Apple to use my computer, show me where it says that every American is obligated to buy music from iTunes or to support the RIAA.

These outfits are not innovators, they're 2nd rate knockoffs of talent and features invented by people who take the risks and may just end up competing with their own ideas.

Linspire's failure was, in my mind, a great victory for the GPL, which as you may know uses the copyright system against itself to ensure that one organization cannot horde a protected work. ;)

Glenn Condrey said...

I am kind of torn over 'file sharing'.
Lets face's been around for years. In the 'good old days' it was called "hey man let me borrow your record/tape to make a copy."

To me...if you are not into selling or sharing music....downloading music from the net is the same as recording a song from the radio onto a cassette.
I pay for music from I don't have too much enmity for those who don't pay.

Sam Donaldson interviewed Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks....talking about how their record "Fly" had sold over 250 million copies.
Natalie responded with "I really wish you hadn't told me that....we don't even have a million dollars in the bank to show for that."

Lets face it...artists make their money touring. The people who make the majority of the money from music albums are the music companies themselves. When you are not hurting the artist per are hurting the music companies.....(but are they?)

Radiohead(?) I believe showed a pioneering idea of offering an album over the internet. If you wanted to pay something you COULD...but you didn't have to.
Quite a few people opted to pay something for the music...proving that not all the people downloading the album were scum.

Kevin Carmony said...


I'm totally fine with what Radiohead did, because it was THEIR music to choose to do that.

I'm a little less fine, but still understand teenage kids "taping" music from each other (although I was taught this is steeling, and have taught my children the same thing). If it's not yours, it's not yours. Plane and simple.

However, what I'm NOT fine at all with, is someone like Robertson trying to PROFIT by educating people how to explicitly go against the wishes of a copyright holder. It's one thing when YOU record Saturday Night Live for your own personal use, but when the owners of SNL EXPRESSLY have let it be known they wish to protect their content (which is certainly their right), I believe that should be respected. It's basic ownership rights. Would Robertson like someone to break into his house and steel stuff from him? Apparently he wouldn't mind, since he seems pretty proud of himself for helping others steal copyrighted material.

When someone uploads copyrighted content, such as SNL, to YouTube, and then SNL has it taken down, it's not right for Robertson to say with pride, "Hey, I can help you rip off SNL, even thought they don't want you to have their content. Oh, AND I'll grow my business if you do!"

Some kid making a copy of Dark Side of the Moon is one thing (all be that dishonest and not respecting the listening kids?), but it's quite another to blatantly encourage such behavior to make a profit. Just shows what kind of ethics Robertson has (or doesn't) have.


Anonymous said...


Interesting that you brought that up.

One of the reasons I refuse to use Windows is because I was looking at where they can put "broadcast flags" in the program you're trying to record and disable your shiny new Windows Media(R) PC from recording it for you, even though you were probably just at work or something and wanted to watch it one time and then trash it.

Back in the 80s, Sony was sued for selling people VCRs, because the big greedy networks were afraid you'd make an "unlicensed copy" and watch it later, and the networks lost.

Failing to find some reason why they could have this made illegal, they now resort to tampering with your property to make it disobey you.

Guess what? MythTV has never refused to let me record a TV show, therefore, Windows is beyond useless to me, and a piece of freeware is actually much more functional.

We're way past the days of bugs, and into the age of intentional defects, and I for one refuse that in its entirety. (Mac is the same deal with a prettier face)

I believe that when I pay for cable, I get to watch it on my terms, I believe when I buy a CD, I have the right to make a personal copy in whatever format I want. I haven't stolen anything from anyone, they just want to "Sell you the White Album again"

Kevin Carmony said...

Actually, I believe you should only have the right that the owner grants to you. It's up to them to decide which rights to grant, and up to you to decide if you want to accept it or not.

If someone creates something, it's theirs. Period. They can choose to license it how they see fit. That's up to them, and your choice is to use it under their terms or not. They may choose to give it away, or they may choose to say you can listen to it one time and then you have to pay them one zillion dollars each time you listen to it after that. Your choice is to accept it or not, but not to ignore their license and do whatever YOU think SHOULD be fair.

I agree the labels only hurt themselves when they sell you a pair of handcuffs with their music, but I defend their right to do that if they want. Just because it hurts them, doesn't mean they don't have the right to be dumb about THEIR property.

I agree completely, however, that they absolutely have no right to mess with your hardware or software.

What I completely disagree with is people who, just because they think someone's license isn't "fair," can ignore it. That's not their choice. Their choice is to accept the license or NOT to accept it. They don't have the right to alter it, just because they think it's "not fair."

I may think Big Macs are over priced, so my choice is to not buy one. I do not have the right to just walk behind the counter, take one without paying, and say "That's my right, because you charge too much."


Anonymous said...

why do u care... and why do u spent u time on geting him down... i find it sad that u say u support free spece and then post about evrey move michael makes.. hmmm... u are the one that do not support free spece...

Kevin Carmony said...

Correct. Robertson falsely accused several very good Linspire employees of embezzlement, simply because they were given reasonable severance payments which he, being the greedy man that he is, felt they didn't deserve. (Given that months later all the assets turned up missing, it's pretty obvious that Robertson just wanted to keep all the cash for himself.) It's also been nearly a year since he took all the assets from Linspire and left 100 shareholders without any information as to what happened.

I think people need to know what kind of unethical person they are dealing with, should they choose to ever get involved in any way with Robertson. So yes, I am using my freedom of speech to tell the story about Robertson. He's certainly free to go public with anything he wishes about me as well. Not sure what he'd say that could possibly justify trying to have former employees arrested or for giving shareholders the shaft.

I have a list of dozens of former employees, board members, VCs, investment bankers, lawyers, partners, shareholders, etc. that one can also contact and see what their opinion of Michael Robertson is.

Robertson is certainly free to use his Michael's Minute to encourage copyright infringement, and I'm certainly free to point out how it shows just how unethical doing so I feel it makes him.


TheAlmgihtyCthulhu said...

It's perfectly legal to use Debian just the way it is, it neither encourages copyright or patent infringement or provides you any way of doing it for that matter.

If you want to buy Fluendo's codec pack, that's up to you, if you want to buy LinDVD and use it on Debian that' your choice too.

If you want to go to (Which is not affiliated with Debian) and get the free codecs, you can do that.

A few things to consider:

The free codecs and libdvdcss may be illegal in the US (but no legal precedent has ever affirmed this.)

There are also many other sovereign nations that are not a state in the United States, and where US law means nothing, which currently are home to about 95% of the world population.

If I told you that something you did was against the law in Russia, do you care? (Or have any reason to)

Finally, using Debian doesn't make you a software pirate just because you can pirate software, if this is the case then everyone that uses MS Windows or Apple Mac OS X or any OS is a pirate just because nothing stops them from being able to do so.

One of the things that disgusted me about Freespire was that instead of truly giving users a choice, they just dumped the big pile o' crap on them and encouraged them to use it instead of seeking out non-proprietary solutions.

I can kind of understand Linspire being commercial because it never made any allusions to not be, and because many good distributions (Mandriva as an example) have a commercial version.

But when you blasted Debian users, I really took offense to that as (1) I am a Debian user. and (2) I don't have *any* of that crap, or any interest in obtaining it.

The worst I've done was use the BSD-licensed Fluendo MP3 decoder (which is both free software and legal) to help convert some MP3s to Ogg Vorbis.

Kevin Carmony said...

Where did I EVER blast Debian users? That I'd like to see.


TheAlmightyCthulhu said...

"Clearly these distributions must have demand for these proprietary technologies, because several tools exist which are promoted on their sites to provide illegal copies of software, drivers and codecs. They offer disclaimers about the laws in certain countries, yet they must know that many of their customers are using the information from within those countries. This portrays more of an attitude of how to 'get around' the law, rather than trying to live within it."


That's why I said 95% of the world population are not Americans and have precisely no reason to care about what's against the law here.

Just as you have no reason to care what's against the law in another country.

If I see that that stuff is easily available and take it, then I've broken US law, they didn't do anything wrong because I chose to take it.

And on the day I pay Microsoft anything, Satan will be ice skating to work, Windows 98 was the last money they saw from me. :)

Oh, and....

"...was called the Ubuntu Restricted Extras. This package contained dozens of files to add things like Flash, MP3 and Java to your system. Not sure how many laws I br0ke, but I did install this program..."

So the law is different when it's you?

Btw, Flash and Java are not illegal, merely non-free (as in freedom) and evince (GNOME) or Okular (KDE) can read PDFs, Konquerer even automatically turns into Okular when you click on a PDF link in a web page. (Reverse engineering for compatibility is legal in the US)

If Microsoft ever names any of those 235 patents it doesn't have and gets Linux shut down (Yeah, right!), it won't make me a Microsoft customer, it will make for one less computer user.

Do I feel that strongly against all things proprietary? No. I have the Nvidia driver and Flash 10, I also have some commercial video games I bought and play in Wine or with their native Linux installer.

Microsoft/Apple just particularly disgust me. :) The RIAA/MPAA slightly more...

Kevin Carmony said...

I repeat...where did I EVER blast Debian users? You said I did, so there must be some quote where I said "Debian users yadda, yadda..." Or were you just putting words in my mouth?


Kavey said...

Commenting on your use of copyright holders rights granted. The very unfortunate thing about copyrighted content is that once you release it to the public the rights aren't quite what they seem to want it to be. Copyright holders want complete control over the content, which is not exactly how it works. There are plenty of exceptions in copyright law for "fair use." Something copyright holders want to get rid of.

You may want to sell me one copy of your content. I, however, have the right to copy that content for my own personal use. In the old days of computing, it was perfectly reasonable to backup your media (floppy disks) of purchased, copyrighted (sometimes patented) material. As a matter of fact, it was considered insane to use the originals. You made a backup copy of the originals, and used the backups to do all the installing you needed to do. That way the originals stayed fresh. The more paranoid of us, would make multiple copies, one pure backup, and then a use version. My current use disks were always a copy of a copy. Only replacing the original copy with a copy of the original when it degraded, meaning fewer copies and uses of the originals.

Music and movie providers don't want us to make backups either. Even more important, they want to control where I view/listen to something. Maybe I want to watch a movie or listen to music on a portable device, or maybe on my home theatre. Maybe a new device will be released and I want to use it there. I should have the right to transfer the media on the content that I am licensed to use. They should control the media the content is on. I am only a stealing if I didn't purchase a license to the content, not the media it's developed distributed on.

If you've ever worked with the disabled, you'll also know that these media can be fragile to the disabled. It's a good idea to back up the media for them in case they drop, scratch, or otherwise damage it. Should they be forced to buy replacements for it? For that matter, should I be forced to buy a replacement because I am not allowed to backup my media? Fine, don't want me to make a backup, then you need to provide free replacements for broken media... forever.

At home, I am building a media server. It will house copies of all my movies, music and photos and other content. Ripping my legally purchased DVDs is difficult, but not impossible. It's also frustrating. I am not doing anything wrong, I am just trying to create a nice media server that I can call up any movie or music or whatever that I want. Why am I suddenly a criminal for trying to do something that copyright law allows for? I am because they are creating laws to prevent me from doing something that use to be legal (DMCA). They can't know what the future of devices and media will be, and I shouldn't be forced to purchase new copies because those devices and media change.

Fine, you don't want someone using your copyrighted material, then you should think hard before you broadcast it into space. Right now aliens are listening to the latest music, and watching TV and haven't purchased a license for it. Think of the trillions in sales lost.

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