Who is Luc Devroye

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

...and why does he have on of the biggest collections of info about type design on the web?

http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-index.html

John Hudson's picture

The notion that the enforceability of laws determines what one should do, let alone what is just or fair, seems to me problematic, and certainly not grounds for just 'moving on'. I'm not wedded to intellectual property laws as they currently stand in particular jurisdictions or international agreements, but I am wedded to the idea that creative and intellectual works should materially benefit the people who create them, that this benefit should reflect the value generated by the work, and that this value should not be exploited by others without paying the creator. So there is no 'moving on', until there is a place to move to within which those considerations are substantively addressed. Until that happens, I expect we will see more, not less, heavy handed use of existing laws and, as a result, more concentration of intellectual property in the hands of corporations instead of individual creators, since it is the corporations that have the financial resources to take legal action against infringers.

Simply stating that the business model of generating income from creative works will shift from the selling of copies to production doesn't cut it, and I say that as someone whose income is almost entirely generated from production already. The particular business model under which Tiro operates works for a particular kind of product and a particular kind of client, and I see no reason to assume that it is scalable to the font business as a whole, let alone to other kinds of creative works. Are corporations going to fund the writing of novels to be bundled with other products?

quadibloc's picture

@John Hudson:
The notion that the enforceability of laws determines what one should do, let alone what is just or fair,

Enforceability definitely does not determine what is just or fair. But the costs of enforcing certain types of law do need to be considered - for example, if one of the costs of enforcing copyright laws was hobbling every personal computer so that it could not be used to run illegitimate software aimed at circumventing copy protection technology.

And the idea that enforceability can affect what laws should be enacted is an old one.

Thus, Blackstone's Commentaries gives an example of how armed robbery had the death penalty in France, but a lesser penalty in England - and, as a result, highwaymen were actually deterred from killing their victims in order to make themselves harder to identify in England.

The same principle explains why we don't execute rapists or put them away for life.

Nick Shinn's picture

Nick. do you have a point to make? Ever?

Frequently.
But why spell it out?
We’re visual people, after all.

The meme “Internet as Panopticon” is well established.
And we were discussing bots tracking and policing font usage.
What has this to do with Luc’s site?
http://typographica.org/on-typography/luc-devroye-censored-font-pages-re...

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I thought Luc was Belgian. Was that wrong? (If it is everything is wrong.)

Bert Vanderveen's picture

@Nick: Panopticon. I just designed a dissertation titled ‘The design of our own lives — Technical mediation and subjectivation after Foucault‘. It had a lot to say about the Panopticon. The prison design based on it didn’t work out that well… Reminds me of the way the Web turned out.

John Hudson's picture

As I said, John, I am not wedded to particular laws, only reacted to Rich's explicit suggestion that we should 'move on', based on his belief that intellectual property laws are unenforceable for digital creations (tell that to the folks who get fined and imprisoned for copyright violation on the web: uneven enforcement is unfair, but it is still enforcement; see my comment re. intellectual property being concentrated in the hands of those able to pay for enforcement).

What I have noticed in the 15+ years in which I have observed and engaged in debate on intellectual property, is that the people who argue that everything should be free tend also to want particular things, i.e. that they value certain things more than others, hence their insistence on the freedom of everything becomes simply the cheapest way to obtain the particular things that they want. Linking the payment for a thing to the purchasing of copies of a thing, or of licenses to use a copy of a thing, has long enabled monetisation of the actual value of creative works in the market, monetisation of how many people want them and how much. And this is what seems to me missing from the everything free model: the ability to capture value and monetise it for the creator.

oldnick's picture

@Nick Shinn—

Thank you for proving my point, yet again., your "established meme" notwithstanding. Get a clue, wouldja, you effete snob.

@John Hudson— \

Why do you continue to distinguish between real and digital goods, and to do so with such excruciating vapidity? The only real difference is the MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION. Simply because a digital file can be reproduced at essentially no cost does not change the nature of ANYTHING, you dope! Your cavalier equivocation only serves to make scofflaws feel somehow justified in their freebootery. OTOH, perhaps people don't pirate your digital goods as often as they steal mine.

Either society is based upon laws and equity, or it is not. Evidently, you sail under the Jolly Roger.

hrant's picture

their insistence on the freedom of everything becomes simply the cheapest way to obtain the particular things that they want.

Bingo.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Nick, learn to read. I have not made a distinction between real and digital goods, only addressed what is lacking in the arguments and proposals of those people here who have made such a distinction. That the distinction itself may be false in various ways isn't what I was addressing here, but you will find plenty of instances in the Typophile archives in which I have made the case not only that such a distinction is overstated but that what we make is more convincingly our property than what we trade for, that creation is a more solid basis on which to say 'I own this' than any deed of purchase or, for that matter, rattling of a cutlass.

I do not sail under the Jolly Roger. But the flag I do sail under is black.

oldnick's picture

John— Learn to talk out of ONE side of your ass.

Either a workers has the rights to the fruits of his labor, or he doesn’t. Karl Marx said that. Now, as bum a rap as Marxism has gotten for the last—oh—hundred and thirty? I don't know, so who cares? You do? Well, deary me, whatever shall I do? Get a grip, would ya? Artists do not sell their souls to the company sto’…

Side with Capital; it’s a safe bet. Until it isn’t. And, then…oh shit! Or not. Again: who knows? One thing for sure: you don’t know squat about claiming what is rightfully yours. On the other hand, I do. And that has turned out so well, hasn’t it?

What: Black Flag Insect Repellent? Gimme a clue…

John Hudson's picture

Nick, this is the second time recently you've been incredibly rude to me without any provocation and in complete disregard of anything I have written. Now I know you are having problems recently, but that doesn't get you a pass for treating other people like this. I absolutely nowhere said that workers do not have rights to the fruits of their labour, nor anything that could reasonably have led you to think that I believed that. This is, word for word, what I wrote ten short posts up this thread:

I am wedded to the idea that creative and intellectual works should materially benefit the people who create them, that this benefit should reflect the value generated by the work, and that this value should not be exploited by others without paying the creator.

Will you care to point out anything in that statement that would lead you to think that I don't believe workers have a right to the fruits of their labour? I am a worker and I live from the fruits of my labour. I don't have employees from whose labour I profit. If someone works with me on a project, he or she receives the same share of the fee as I would if I were doing the same work. If Tiro retains rights to what we make, then any designer who worked on the project will be entitled to a commensurate percentage of any profit generated from exploitation of those rights. Why? Because I believe that the people who make things should benefit materially from what they make. Get it? Whoever you think your enemy is, it ain't me.

oldnick's picture

John, fair enough. My mistake. Silly me. At least, now we’re clear who the real enemy is…

dberlow's picture

Kool aid?

Nick Shinn's picture

Nick:

“…please refrain from any personal attacks of other typophile members on these boards.”

oldnick's picture

Nick: Please refrain from being “too precious for words.”

Thomas Phinney's picture

Briefly back to the original question.

First, let me say that I think Luc has made considerable contributions to the typographic community through his tireless collecting of links and in many cases through synthesizing and assembling diverse information. So yay, Luc!

On the other hand....

"It's not like his site advocates some controversial opinions about typography."

Well, yes, it does. Luc advocates some bizarre views about the history of font formats. He's basically anti-copyright and pro- "fonts should all be free." He certainly ticked me off when I was working at Adobe and he linked to pirated Adobe fonts on his site.

oldnick's picture

Thomas, you rank capitalist, you!

Hey, if I didn't have to eat and stuff, I’d give my work away and share the love.

Oh, wait: I actually did that, didn't I? But, hell: you gotta eat, so what can you do? Maybe EVERYTHING should be free…

Chris Dean's picture

If you got a line on free food, hook a brother up.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Freegan

Nick Shinn's picture

Please refrain from being “too precious for words.”

Sorry Nick, hope this is easy enough for you to understand:

Uli's picture

This is a thread by people who despise each other.

My friend Luc should have deserved a better thread.
I wonder why the despisers used Luc in the header.

hrant's picture

1) I think "despise" is too strong; it's hard for near-total-strangers to do that.
2) I'm only seeing one notable "axis of conflict", and it's likely to fade over time.
3) The person who started the thread has not cast a single aspersion against Luc.

Ergo: Don't exaggerate.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Hrant.
I don’t despise Nick Curtis.
He called me names, and I made a witty (I hope) rejoinder.

dezcom's picture

You put your finger on it ;-)

5star's picture

Hey y'all please feel free to use my double fisted flippin' da bird...

...free graphic in honor of Luc :)

n.

oldnick's picture

Well, finally: someone who is elevating the level of discourse around here! And it's free, no less! Power to the People!

quadibloc's picture

@oldnick:
Simply because a digital file can be reproduced at essentially no cost does not change the nature of ANYTHING,

Well, it's true that it doesn't change the fact that a worker has the right to the fruits of his labor.

But there are other considerations. Basically, if each copy of a computer program has a value, then the more copies there are, the richer the world is.

Instead of using this fact as an excuse for piracy, however, it can be employed constructively: ergo, Linux.

So something is changed. And that's not the only thing; the fact that enforcement becomes more difficult does have to be considered as meaning that aggressive copyright enforcement could have a potential for intruding on our liberties.

That doesn't mean, though, that I agree that the Internet means copyright is dead - I just don't side with either extreme position on this issue, but instead I think both sides have a point.

When it comes to the other old issue - labor versus capital - the reason why there is a popular demand to bring in welfare measures, in my opinion, is because we live in a crowded world where people who can't find jobs on the terms set by employers no longer have the option of going out somewhere and homesteading. This is also why there is so much inter-ethnic violence in Third World countries.

Until there is some major advance in space travel - so that lead-acid car batteries could power an antigravity and FTL starship, so that any family could decide to head out and found a new planet (presumably with a nanotech terraforming kit) - we're just going to have to live with the problems and accept that we're not in a situation that permits standing on doctrinaire ideological positions.

oldnick's picture

A major advance in space travel? Puh-leeeeze!

So, old what's-his-name said that the internet was the biggest experiment in chaos to date. Well, the results are in: the license—or, simply, unbridled license to do whatever the **** you want—has expired. Human beings simply cannot be trusted to self-regulate; witness Craigslist.

Rather, we need to RETURN to a model of Liberty as understood by Thomas Jefferson: freedom, coupled with responsibility. Any and ALL rights exist at the sufferance of the governed. Period. Enjoy your freedom responsibly, and all is cool; screw the pooch, and you are toast.

Anyone got a problem with that…other than Ryan, I mean. That guy is a total dick…

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

It needs said that despite Mr Devroye's political leanings, his site as it stands today proffers no rhetoric or ideology.

dberlow's picture

"Human beings simply cannot be trusted to self-regulate; witness Craigslist."

Why go all the over there. And, which side were you dropped on, the buttered or unbuttered side?!

quadibloc's picture

@oldnick:
Rather, we need to RETURN to a model of Liberty as understood by Thomas Jefferson: freedom, coupled with responsibility. Any and ALL rights exist at the sufferance of the governed. Period. Enjoy your freedom responsibly, and all is cool; screw the pooch, and you are toast.

This may just be a problem with your wording rather than your actual beliefs, but you've just described something I don't think Thomas Jefferson actually believed in: the tyranny of the majority.

I don't think anyone here has argued against the principle of putting people in jail for violating the rights of others.

IP rights, however, are the artificial creation of governments, not natural law rights. Basically, states created those rights for the same reason they instituted the limited liability corporation: as a means of making themselves militarily stronger than their neighbors.

So if someone wants to argue for downgrading IP rights, while I may disagree, I'm not going to be mortally offended.

John Hudson's picture

John, do you believe there are any natural law rights pertaining to property? I'm willing to countenance that there might not be, but if you recognise any natural rights regarding property, then it seems to me that a strong case can be made for ownership of what one makes, and hence intellectual property rights are no less based in natural law than physical property rights.

oldnick's picture

Dennis— Neither side; I am an edgy kinda guy.

John—I don't know where to begin, your head being so far up your ass. Not a single word you said makes the least bit of sense, my “wording” notwithstanding…

eliason's picture

Nick, please stop it. Typophile clearly has no functional moderators, so either we participants avoid immoderate behavior, or the discourse on the site goes to pot. Seems like you're mostly just picking fights of late, and that sucks.

John Hudson's picture

And please, if accusing 'John' of having his head up his arse, please clarify which John.

Uli's picture

I vaguely remember, that many years ago,
the quality of Typophile threads was better.

hrant's picture

I think it ebbs and flows (although the damage done by things like Twitter should not be underestimated). Ironically though I find that the quality of your own posts has largely improved of late (although your recent attack on Fiona remains unwarranted).

hhp

oldnick's picture

True, Hrant—When these freaking eggheads get their heads around type, they come up with some amazing stuff.

A great deal of which is true;

Which means, unfortunately, a not insubstantial minority of the stuff going on right now is one hundred percent, Grade A, Pure Dee bulldookie! I leave it to your discretion to judge what is what.

What?

Yeah: what’s up, doc?

quadibloc's picture

@John Hudson:
John, do you believe there are any natural law rights pertaining to property? I'm willing to countenance that there might not be, but if you recognise any natural rights regarding property, then it seems to me that a strong case can be made for ownership of what one makes, and hence intellectual property rights are no less based in natural law than physical property rights.

Yes, I do believe there are natural law rights to one's property.

After all, without a right to property, it would be permissible to kill or enslave people, by taking away what they have prepared to sustain their lives, or the fruits of their labors.

Violations of intellectual property rights, though, don't involve taking, only copying. They don't directly make the victim poorer.

So if I hear an interesting story, telling that story to someone else does not injure the original storyteller (plagiarism being a separate issue). If I see my neighbor employing a better way to thatch his hut, doing likewise does not injure my neighbor.

The acts of copying which constitute copyright and patent infringement only become wrong when someone has expended the effort to innovate in whole or in part because of a prior agreement to reward innovation through letters patent or rights of copying. Because copyright and patent laws have been enacted, violating them becomes essentially a form of the natural law crime of fraud.

But if nobody has given people promises that their clever new ideas won't be copied, then they would have to initiate force to stop others from copying them.

What does this mean?

Since we do have copyright laws, it doesn't mean that piracy is not wrong.

However, when Big Content refers to piracy as 'stealing' -

that's OK when they're talking to the general public for the purpose of telling them not to engage in piracy,

but it's genuinely misleading when they're talking to Congress for the purpose of having the copyright laws changed to provide more and better protection to content.

If copyright laws are an agreement by society to reward creators in return for more creations - then enacting them was a discretionary act by society, and there's no inherent moral obligation to extend those laws further (to make a longer term for copyright, to add new restrictions on things like tampering with your DVD player) if the costs of such measures are felt by society to exceed their benefits (in increasing or maintaining the flow of new creations).

The world doesn't owe artists a living for bad art - but it also doesn't even owe good artists a living: society at large isn't obligated morally to regard artistic creation, or technological innovation, as important or worth encouraging.

While the obligation isn't a moral one, though, there's a very strong case for a practical obligation to do so, particularly in the case of technological innovation. (Or, if you prefer, an indirect moral obligation - one owed to the beneficiaries of innovation, not the innovators.)

And please, if accusing 'John' of having his head up his arse, please clarify which John.

Well, I was the only one who referred to his 'wording'. So it was clear to me who he was referring to.

hrant's picture

that's OK when they're talking to the general public for the purpose of telling them not to engage in piracy, but it's genuinely misleading when they're talking to Congress

Sadly in a Democracy you can't make such a -useful- distinction.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

John:

After all, without a right to property, it would be permissible to kill or enslave people, by taking away what they have prepared to sustain their lives, or the fruits of their labors.

Violations of intellectual property rights, though, don't involve taking, only copying. They don't directly make the victim poorer.

You seem to argue against yourself in these two paragraphs. Insofar as the victim intends what he has created to be, like land cleared for planting or a house built not only to live in but as an asset, something he has prepared to sustain his life, violation of intellectual property while not as directly subtractive as theft of physical property is similarly an assault on his livelihood. Unauthorised copying devalues authorised copies by distorting the supply side of the economy and diverts income from the original creator to another party, taking away from the fruits of his labour. It enables other parties to exploit commercial value from what he has made without compensating him, i.e a theft of the fruits of inventiveness and labour that are properly his. [Remember, intellectual property law was not invented to deal with the case of individuals producing copies of things for their own personal use -- something that many jurisdictions explicitly permit for various kinds of works -- but to prevent commercial piracy. That is still its most important function, so far as I am concerned.]

quadibloc's picture

@John Hudson:
Insofar as the victim intends what he has created to be, like land cleared for planting or a house built not only to live in but as an asset, something he has prepared to sustain his life, violation of intellectual property while not as directly subtractive as theft of physical property is similarly an assault on his livelihood.

There is a distinction here, which I had not thought to make explicitly.

If someone plants crops to feed himself, stealing them prevents him from eating. The seeds directly grow into plants that bear fruit.

If a man writes stories, or invents things, in the hope of supporting himself thereby, other people are involved in the chain.

As I've noted, if he was entitled to expect his creativity would be repaid, by promises made to him, in the form of copyright and patent laws, then IP infringement is wrong, a form of fraud.

But absent such a commitment, where does he get a right to control what other people do, when they're not doing it to him, but only doing it with what they remember seeing him do?

If copyright were a natural law right, unilaterally imposing copyright rules would be self-defence, but that's not what it looks like to me.

oldnick's picture

@quadibloc—

You're STILL full of shit. There is no “if-then” in copyright infringement: theft is theft, plain and simple. Get a grip.

Uli's picture

> I vaguely remember, that many years ago,
> the quality of Typophile threads was better.

Hrant:

> I think it ebbs and flows

While Typophile threads such as this one

http://typophile.com/node/1492

are of very low quality, I think that the quality of this thread is not much better.

Whenever I was interested in a difficult topic, let's say copyright law, I read several scholarly books about the topic before I started to voice my opinions. Although my mother tongue is German and hence most books I read about copyright law are in German language, I even purchased a few British and American books about copyright law.

Looking at this low-quality thread, I think that none of those contributing to this thread ever bought a scholarly copyright handbook such as e.g. "Copinger & Skone James on Copyright". I think it does not harm to read this book before you start to voice your opinions about copyright law.

oldnick's picture

Uli—

Thank you for your frank assessment and contemptuously dismissive tone: it elevates the level of discourse ever so much, don't you think?

So, is there a Cliff Notes version—in English—of this precious tome, so that we all may bask in the gory of your considerable erudition on this vital subject?

BTW: “Violations of intellectual property rights, though, don't involve taking, only copying. They don't directly make the victim poorer” is, quite possibly, the stupidest thing I have ever heard…which, considering that Ryan posts here regularly, is saying a lot.

Jeez, Louise…

Té Rowan's picture

The keyword being 'directly'. Spin it as you may, there will still be at least one level of indirection involved.

John Hudson's picture

John, your distinction seems to risk limiting the scope of natural law to situations that preclude social relations.

I think you are leaning too heavily on the notion of 'entitlement', which as you note is easy to refute. Note that I nowhere suggested that a creative individual is entitled to income from his creations, any more than a man who plants crops is entitled to rain or a hunter is entitled to game. There is no entitlement, there is only reasonable expectation based on conditions. The conditions of obtaining income from creative works are demand and obligation. Demand is in the form of desire for the thing made, and the very fact that someone wants to copy the thing is evidence of the demand. This seems to me the point that you are missing: the demand, even when expressed in uncompensated exploitation, confirms the very reasonableness of the expectation that the thing made has value that may be monetised and produce income. And so we come back to my perennial theme: if a thing has value, the creator of the thing has a right to benefit from the exploitation of that value, and insofar as its exploitation by other people diminishes that benefit he is being wronged. This is where the condition of obligation lies.

oldnick's picture

I nowhere suggested that a creative individual is entitled to income from his creations, any more than a man who plants crops is entitled to rain or a hunter is entitled to game

As fine an example of apples and oranges as I have ever seen: well done! A man who plants crops should enjoy a reasonable expectation of harvesting those crops. A hunter should enjoy a reasonable expectation of whatever fruits his labors may garnish, as well. Why is this simple point so difficult for you nimnuls to grasp?

Richard Fink's picture

Was it MY comment that set off this bar brawl?

Geez. How about y'all come on down to Fort Myers Florida on Friday, January 18th for the Sunshine Blues Festival and chill out. The Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB) will be headlining and they are dynamite, trust me. And if a Derek Trucks slide guitar solo can't take your mind off the problems of the world, nothing can, you're hopeless.
The rest of the lineup is quite good, too. Two bandstands, starting at 12:00 PM.
Sunshine Blues Festival
(I have no financial stake in this. I just dig the music and I'm happy it's happening near where I live. That's all.)
Given enough interest, on the next day, Saturday, I'll be proudly hosting the inaugural Blues In Type Conference - most likely in nearby North Naples. Details to be announced.
There is much to discuss.

oldnick's picture

Richard! Finally! A breath of sanity! Plus Dr. John! Plus WORLD OF BEER!

Hey, if your conference is selling beer too, I will definitely pencil it in…

quadibloc's picture

@John Hudson:
The conditions of obtaining income from creative works are demand and obligation.

Yes, I'll agree with that.

This seems to me the point that you are missing: the demand, even when expressed in uncompensated exploitation, confirms the very reasonableness of the expectation that the thing made has value that may be monetised and produce income. And so we come back to my perennial theme: if a thing has value, the creator of the thing has a right to benefit from the exploitation of that value, and insofar as its exploitation by other people diminishes that benefit he is being wronged.

And there's the point of the dispute. Absent some form of prior agreement - in the form of something like a copyright law - there doesn't seem to be a basis for an expectation or an obligation.

Maybe even under such circumstances there would be ways in which people's creative works could be exploited in a way the unfairness of which is clearly apparent. The history of typography does include examples of that, for example the cheap copies of the products of the Aldine press.

Because I feel that "A has a right to B" to be a very powerful statement - enough to justify, for example, the armed overthrow of governments to end slavery or other human rights violations - I wish to be very cautious in admitting natural law rights. Right now, I don't want to concede a theoretical basis to copyright law that would lead to our elected representatives feeling they have a moral obligation to give Big Content everything it wants - on which public debate is as irrelevant as, say, a public debate on turning back the clock on civil rights would be.

What is so threatening to creative people in the premise that copyright laws are something society has voluntarily agreed to give them? After all, the end result remains the same: piracy is both illegal and wrong. So their right to the fruits of their labor remains intact - until such time as society loses interest in encouraging creative work.

Which shouldn't be expected any time soon.

Syndicate content Syndicate content