December 28, 2011

Young people today lack even the "ideological baggage" to concern themselves with copyright as they go about appropriating images.

"They feel that once an image goes into a shared digital space, it’s just there for them to change, to elaborate on, to add to, to improve, to do whatever they want with it. They don’t see this as a subversive act. They see the Internet as a collaborative community and everything on it as raw material."

Much more here — including the discussion of a case in federal court brought by a photographer whose images were worked into collages by a painter who made millions of dollars and an iPhone app that automates appropriation and collage.

188 comments:

rhhardin said...

In fashion all you can own is the tag. Everything else can be copied and changed.

Why you don't want any copyright is a Michele Boldrin podcast here.

It gives you people incentivized to sue each other instead of inventing and moving on.

timmaguire42 said...

Of course they have ideological baggage, just baggage that Randy Kennedy doesn't like and so doesn't want to even recognize its existence.

Amartel said...

Spinny Mcspinerston working overtime on behalf of "young people."

The internet as a "collaborative community" with everything on it being "raw material." Except that the raw material is someone else's creation and taking it is stealing.

"Young people today lack even the 'ideological baggage' to concern themselves with copyright as they go about appropriate images." Except that ethics are not
"ideological baggage" that you can divest yourself of without consequence.

Here's the unsweetened version of the young people's supposed position: "I saw it, it's mine." Shortended version: "Gimme."

edutcher said...

Most kids tend to see stuff on the Internet as just out there.

I doubt it's "lack of ideological baggage" as much as ignorance.

rhhardin said...

The stuff out there is what economists call nonrivalrous.

If I have it it doesn't keep you from having it.

Making property out of that is a political operation, not a moral one.

Economists call it rent-seeking.

Capture the government, make people pay.

chickenlittle said...

I suggested a licensing opportunity for Google™ here. This had to do with YouTube™ video makers using songs. IMHO, YouTube™ music videos have probably sold more songs than they've stolen royalties.

Something just needs a "way" to make it right.

Henry said...

Because the article concerns photographic images, it serves up a huge boneheaded misstatement of cultural history:

In the Prince case the notoriously slippery standard for transformation was defined so narrowly that artists and museums warned it would leave the fair-use door barely open, threatening the robust tradition of appropriation that goes back at least to Picasso and underpins much of the art of the last half-century (my emphasis)

Sorry, Randy Kennedy, appropriation goes back a lot farther than that. Half of Shakespearean is the rewriting of someone else's earlier work. And don't get me started on Roman statuary.

Fair-use should be Shakespearean and Augustan -- as big-hearted and broadly protected as possible.

The Crack Emcee said...

Amartel,

The raw material is someone else's creation and taking it is stealing.

But it's digital, so nothing was ever "taken" or "stolen." The original is still intact, and in your possession, undamaged in any way.

Anyone who suggests otherwise does not understand the age we live in.

Which isn't surprising, considering,...

chickenlittle said...

But it's digital, so nothing was ever "taken" or "stolen." The original is still intact, and in your possession, undamaged in any way.

So I guess you don't think much of intellectual property?

chickenlittle said...

Making property out of that is a political operation, not a moral one.

Outright copying without adding value or attribution is wrong. Copying something and adding value--even without attribution--may violate law but it's not immoral. Heaven knows that Althouse is an expert at parsing the difference between laws and morals.

Franklin said...

Photos as intellectual property have always seemed a little gray to me, honestly.

I didn't even realize there really was such a thing until the photographer at my wedding told my wife and I that she, "didn't really have any problem giving us the disc of images" since she wasn't overly concerned with ownership. I thought that was a little odd considering we paid her to take the pictures but let it go...that was my first introduction to photographic intellectual property I guess.

I understand that lots goes into taking great photos - maybe even as much or more as a great painting - lighting, filters, coloring, developing, etc. but it still seems different to me than a painting for some reason. I don't know why that is. I'm in my 20s, so I guess I'm at least pretty close to who they're talking about.

rhhardin said...

"Making property out of that is a political operation, not a moral one."

Outright copying without adding value or attribution is wrong.


Why?

chickenlittle said...

Why?

Because complete priority exists and there is no novelty. In the case of priority plus added value, the priority is still there but there is novelty.

chickenlittle said...

@rhhardin: I guess the idea is to encourage novelty. I may value it too highly?

chickenlittle said...

@rhhardin. In the case of outright copying, the possibility exists for misattribution, not just lack attribution.

Misattribution is a kind of theft.

rhhardin said...

But you copy it to put it on your HD. There's no question of novelty. In fact you want to avoid novelty.

The idea of incentive to innovation is good but happens to be wrong, an empirical question, is all.

Innovation happens all the time. See the podcast at the top of the coments.

Singers didn't always make multimillions per year but they sang anyway. All that changed is the business model, and capture of government to make it stick.

The older business model has more singers, lacking the superstar biz model, rather than fewer.

rhhardin said...

You add attribution because it's good for your own character. That's its moral quality.

As you get older you actually enjoy adding attribution.

chickenlittle said...

@rhhardin: What I'm arguing is analogous to a Jepson claim.

rhhardin said...

As for the question of law, who knows what the law is.

Keep open the idea that it ought to be abolished completely, whatever it is. It's not a moral question but a government capture question.

Jason said...

I make my living generating intellectual property. Specifically, copywriting, economic and investment analysis, and music.

I have a right to the fruits of my labor as much as any of you do - and my clients have a right to the full value of their purchase, if they purchase full rights from me and I will jealously guard that.

How jealously?

If you object to my ownership of my own intellectual property, I will walk into your office and help myself to your inventory, office supplies, and the candy from your daughter's cheerleading fundraiser drive.

And you can have no principled objection.

rhhardin said...

As to Jepson claims, I have several patents and I can't understand any of them.

rhhardin said...

Keep in mind that intellectual property is nonrivalrous in your analogies.

If you take my candy from my candy drawer, then I don't have it any more.

If you take my idea for freeing a tree then I still have it, and it still works fine for me. I used it just today.

Jason said...

Whoever mentioned the superstar millionaire musician has no idea what he's talking about.

Nashville and Hollywood are full of songwriters and studio musicians trying to make ends meet on 10k per year of royalties plus whatever they can make gigging... or $50,000 per year for a short while if they pen a middling hit, and then it tapers off, to be replaced with who knows what?

I'm not saying I necessarily support SOPA as written, but I do support the rights of artists, musicians, designers and writers to the ownership of their own creation.

chickenlittle said...

rhhardin said...
You add attribution because it's good for your own character. That's its moral quality.


You're not following my arguement. You sem fixated on righting hurt feelings or something.

In the video I linked @6:29, the videomakers acknowledged the Kingston Trio but I doubt whether they paid them money (maybe they would owe it to Woody Guthrie?). They may have done so. But suppose they didn't. The copyright owners could request that the video be taken down. This seems to happen all the time. Creativity is being inhibited not by lack of acknowledgement but rather failure to pay rent. The Kinston Trio did nothing create the visual image I noticed on that video.

I while ago, Meade got upset with Trooper York because Troop used a photo of his without attribution. But he added something to photo (no doubt of dubious value to the hostess :)

Jose_K said...

Photos as intellectual property have always seemed a little gray to me, honestly. As a matter of law they are in a gray zone. Photso are not protected by copyright but by an equivalent.That why Maddona´s first husband lost when was took to the courts for taking photographs of sculptures and selling them as work of art.
Yes, it is stealing. each digital copy is one less bought.
Shakespeare´s was thief for Anthony and Cleopatra and for Julius Caesar( He eleborated the other books )like Chaucer and Stern who "wrote" Tristan Shandy.
The romans? thanks for them. The original are lost , only the copies survive.
And not are only the young buy the way who steal.

chickenlittle said...

If you take my idea for freeing a tree then I still have it, and it still works fine for me. I used it just today.

You seem to be using Jefferson's analogy link. Of course Jefferson recognized the importance of intellectual property and its limits and helped lay down the rules regarding novelty, etc.

Jose_K said...

And of course no one here is a creator. and the academics against Sopa are tenured .
Copy one author you are a plagiarist. Copy many and you are a researcher . Read at Readers Digest.

rhhardin said...

Failure of pay rent is the only thing that happens when rent isn't paid. Creativity continues. That's an empirical matter, and happens to be true.

The reason the law supports intellectual property is that the lawmakers have been captured by rent seekers, not that it benefits society.

It hurts society, because you can't do anything (for example) in a big software project without using - by creating it yourself - something that somebody has patented before you, and there are hundreds of these that you accidentally use. There's no way you can seek them out and buy all of them, even if you could find them. There would be the holdout. So basically your own creativity is stifled, your own effort to do something the is of net benefit to society (or else you couldn't profit by it), by intellectual property as it exists today, mostly extended by judges.

It's a crock. Get rid of it.

rhhardin said...

Jobs, Gates, ? , said that none of this would exist today if intellectual property had been functioning in the 70s as it does today.

rhhardin said...

When you say it's stealing, you're admitting defeat.

You compare it to a real crime to make it seem like a real crime.

Which would not be necessary if it were a real crime, that is, a crime taken narrowly.

The general form of A is B ("might is right", "work is prayer", "copying is stealing") takes A narrowly, and then asks you to expand B enough to cover it.

Try it the other way: stealing is copying.

chickenlittle said...

Failure of pay rent is the only thing that happens when rent isn't paid. Creativity continues.

Yes. It does. It just stays in the public domain for less time. Projects are defaced and taken taken down.

One of my favorites was a video a guy made using vintage H-bomb footage set to "Real Solution No. 9" by White Zombie. It was exquisitely done--the timing of explosions to bursts in the song. It's gone now. I'm sure that the guy kept a copy for himself. I also sorta doubt that the maker intended to make or sell it which seems to be sine qua non for infringement.

chickenlittle said...

@rhhardin: Again, I'm just going to take a hard line on the primacy and value of novelty. Otherwise, we may be on the same page.

Catch you later.

Alex said...

So teaching about copyright law has now descended into the K-12 arena. Thanks Apple.

Alex said...

Economists call it rent-seeking.

Excuse me, we are all rent-seeking in one form or another. It goes back to the days of Og and Mog. Og rented out his stone hand axe to Mog.

The Crack Emcee said...

chickenlittle,

So I guess you don't think much of intellectual property?

You'd guess wrong - this has been hashed out by artists long ago (which is completely ignored by those still harping on it to maintain the old order) and, as long as no one's stolen or harmed the original, intellectual property (as you speak of it) isn't an issue.

Face it:

The world has changed - and the cat's not going back in the bag.

So what's the answer? Make better, more distinctive, art. Something that says "mine" no matter where it goes or what's done to it.

A tall order? Sure.

But only because standards in art have fallen so low,...

Ann Althouse said...

@crack you've explained why they call it " originalright."

glenn said...

Like Dad said "First you need honest people" If artists can't get paid for creating they won't create much of anything. You have to eat.

Alex said...

Like Dad said "First you need honest people" If artists can't get paid for creating they won't create much of anything. You have to eat.

I call bullshit on that. Show me a single example of a musical artist who quit because they were being ripped off by the internet.

rcocean said...

Rh - I'm impressed. You're even smarter your dog, who writes all those funny posts.

Jefferson and the founding fathers said all this 200 years ago. Copyrights are government monopolies. Copyrights exist only for the benefit of society. We want to give artists and inventors an "inventive" so we give them a monopoly on their art or idea for certain period of time.

Take away copyrights and people would still produce art and write songs. They just won't make as much money.

Why should Yoko Ono still be making millions for some song written 45 years ago? Crazy.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

@crack you've explained why they call it " originalright."

I've done no such thing.

Palladian said...

As a creator of visual art, and a student of the history of the plastic arts, everything rhhardin said on this thread is wise.

Attribution is the moral question. Turning ideas into property is a political one, and one that has greatly harmed the creative life of society.

Jason said...

Show me a single example of a musical artist who quit because they were being ripped off by the internet.

I know scores of them. You really need to get out more.

Palladian said...

And I should add that it took me a long time to reason my way to that understanding, and that wisdom did not come without some painful sacrifice.

The governmental regulation of the ownership of ideas and reproducible images and sounds should be a hateful concept to anyone who loves liberty and values human creativity.

Palladian said...

"I know scores of them."

Good riddance. No artist worthy of that designation would give up for such a silly reason. Chances are, they had nothing to offer to begin with. Good riddance.

Jason said...

Why should Yoko Ono still be making millions for some song written 45 years ago? Crazy.

1. Because people still buy the recordings.

2. Because radio stations that play her recordings still sell advertising.

3. Because venues still play Beatles records as background music in restaurants, bars and other places to help them make money.

4. Because people still put money into Jukebox machines to hear those records.

5. Because a lot of other people had a hand in making that record and as part of their contractual agreement took a royalty share in lieu of a larger up front payment, on the expectation that thieves and their enablers like you wouldn't come along later and fuck with their retirement income they worked for years in studios to create.

6. Yoko didn't write "Crazy." That was Willie Nelson

Jason said...

Palladian, you're speaking out of ignorance. You haven't a clue how this works or how it plays out.

Alex said...

Jason - you're an idiot who supports talentless idiots.

Alex said...

You think The Beatles would have been demoralized by internet copiers in the day?

bagoh20 said...

I've invented a fair amount of stuff, not art, but consumer hard goods. I'm still sorting out my feelings about I.P.

One product I invented about 18 years ago has sold over $100 million and still enjoys about 95% market share. I chose not to patented it. After about 5 years it was copied by every one of my competitors and eventually all went to China to build it, except me.

I still have about 50% of the market, but if I had patented it, the price would be double what it is and I and my employees would have made a lot more money. Nobody has ever bothered to improved it except me in all these years.

A patent would probably have led to more innovation as others tried to get around mine. They never had to, so no effort was made.

So the inventor (me) got less out of it and innovation was still not encouraged.

On the other hand, I have often run into patents that are so broad that it's just not worth trying to innovate anything near it. That seems like a bad effect. Like I said I'm torn. I have some patents, but generally don't bother because it's just to expensive to get and defend them anyway...because lawyers suck.

(Did I say that out loud?}

Seven Machos said...

Kill him, Palladian.

bagoh20 said...

How do people feel about patenting something like Dolby or a photographic process rather than the art itself?

Seven Machos said...

To add onto what Alex said as well, do you note an abundance of starving artists today higher than before? Lady Gaga does not appear to be hurting for cash. Photographers have more ways to make money, not fewer.

The people who are not making money (and who no longer have careers) are the middle people -- the distributors, the A&R man. The army of librarians. They are no longer needed. This is to the great benefit of artists, and most of them understand this.

If you don't understand why copyright law should be liberal and even more liberalized, you don't understand economics, or property, or what it means to sell rights to property. Certainly, you don't understand liberty. And you are probably old.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason,

Show me a single example of a musical artist who quit because they were being ripped off by the internet.

I know scores of them. You really need to get out more.


No, you know scores of people who can't make it in the new environment, and are using it as an excuse. Probably hacks. As Palladian said:

No artist worthy of that designation would give up for such a silly reason. Chances are, they had nothing to offer to begin with. Good riddance.

I've known tons of "artists" who blame the public for walking out on their performances when, the truth is, they offered nothing worthy of anybody hanging around. The same thing applies here:

The internet isn't stopping anybody from creating, but it is changing what we value, how it's valued, and how it's discovered.

Those too lazy to adapt, by merely creating something worthy, will die - and blame technology.

Raise your game, I say.

Jason said...

Alex... this may come as a surprise to you, but the Beatles were not the only people who played on those records.

You're awfully free with giving away other people's property. David Mason, for example. The piccolo trumpet player on Penny Lane.

Or you can call the string quartet who played on "Yesterday" "a bunch of talentless hacks."



Here's another few examples: There were some shit hot woodwind players on "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie." Studio aces.

None of them got wealthy. Some of them do ok if they play on a jackpot track. Most of them will only play on a handful of very successful recordings.

You're the idiot here. You have no idea how the sausage gets made. But you're awfully quick to dismiss the efforts of the people who made these tracks... all for union scale and the standard ASCAP or BMI payout.

Some of these people are scary-good musicians. A lot of them. Some of the best in the world on their instruments.

"No-talent hacks?" You haven't a clue what you're saying.

Seven Machos said...

Bag -- It is my understanding that the great benefit that Dolby and others bring to the table is being Dolby. It's an issue of intrinsic quality. You work with Dolby for the same reason that you buy your Rolex from a Rolex dealer instead of that shady guy selling watches from the inside of his vest.

That said, I have no problem with awarding monopolies of use to inventors for a few years. Three, maybe. Or five.

Seven Machos said...

You have no idea how the sausage gets made.

The sausage isn't made that way any more. That sausage shop has been out of business for years.

It's not the 1970s any more.

Further, your worldview is ridiculous. If you signed some contract to get paid for every use of your work into perpetuity, who exactly did you sign the contract with? Did you sign it with me? I don't think you did.

No. Your quarrel is with the people on the other side of the contract. The record company perhaps. Sue them. But you can't sue the world because technology changed.

You are like the sad, sorry spouse expecting a fact alimony check for life because that's what the divorce decree says. Well, dude, now that your former spouse is out of a job and in the gutter, that shit ain't happening any more. Deal with it. Don't go crying to the government to enforce agreements nullified by reality. That is so ridiculously, embarrassingly pussy. Not to mention disgustingly anti-liberty.

rcocean said...

Jason,

You need to change your handle to :

Literal minded guy who makes money off copyrights.

Jason said...

No, Crack, you don't know who I know or what I've seen - and it's not a matter of a musician "raising his game" when the venue disappears altogether.

Case in point - Miami, FL, was once an amazing music center, with some of the best jazz and latin players in the world playing every night. There were big bands all up and down South Beach and Biscayne.

Many of those players are still here. But they got out of gigging - or were forced out - because clubs could hire a DJ for a fraction of the price... and DJs weren't paying royalties on the recordings they played... now nearly all taken off the net, though there are still some vinyl guys running around.

Some of the clubs did the right thing and got ASCAP licenses. Many didn't.

Part of that is changing tastes - though salsa and the other latin forms have not disappeared by a long shot. Some of that is just good-old fashioned creative destruction. And some of that comes from sidestepping the intellectual property rights of composers and musicians. Whatever the combination, almost all the old guys have left the trade, though some still teach.

The Crack Emcee said...

Seven Machos,

To add onto what Alex said as well, do you note an abundance of starving artists today higher than before?

Yes - by a long shot.

Lady Gaga does not appear to be hurting for cash.

Bad example, though you're right. I'm not going into all the reasons why I say that, but the main difference between GaGa and the average artist today is she's had a strategy - I'm still writing as I pay my bills, and every song I compose comes complete with A) a hook that'll never stop - making it distinctively mine - and B) a marketing strategy adapted to this environment.

GaGa may not be any good, so she's giving success in art a bad name, but she is of our time,...

Palladian said...

Kill him, Palladian.

Not worth it, really.

Jason, I get where you're coming from, but you just haven't conceptualized that the current state of I.P. law in the US disfavors the talents of the people you're promoting.

The fact that Yoko Ono can make enormous amounts of money from songs she didn't write is a good example of how perverted our current copyright regime really is.

Human culture would not have progressed under our current I.P. regime.

But it's a new world, as Crack says, and it can't be controlled. My advice, as an artist, is: learn to use it to your advantage.

But as I said, no artist worth the designation needs to hear that from me.

Jason said...

Actually, 7 Machos, records are still made that way every day. Distribution is different, but royalties are still written into studio musicians' contracts. A lot of records are specifically made with royalty contracts rather than 100 percent up front fees because the producer can't afford to buy all rights.

Sure, I suppose I can walk into your garden and help myself to the fruits of your labor. I can walk into your store and help myself to your inventory and walk out with it.

What's that? It's your property?

Bullshit. I signed no contract with you, man. If you want to sue somebody, sue your distributor.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason,

You're the idiot here. You have no idea how the sausage gets made.

I know how it gets made and, I'm telling you, the sand has shifted beneath your feet - and it's quicksand.

Some of these people are scary-good musicians. A lot of them. Some of the best in the world on their instruments.

Who can't write a decent song to save their lives. I've seen it a billion times. Those people I described above - who had people leaving their shows - all great musicians. But great musicians who thought their mastery of an instrument trumped giving the people what they wanted. Big mistake.

"No-talent hacks?" You haven't a clue what you're saying.

Yes we do - it's talent in the wrong area for success.

Seven Machos said...

Crack -- I disagree. The profusion of art -- music, for example -- has caused the price of art to go down. At the same time, markets have grown and segmented chaotically, allowing an individual artist more opportunity to make a living.

Moreover, the money to be made in music is no longer in the recording. This is a simple fact. But there is much money to be made in the concert tour (there are many more venues now), the t-shirt, and various other merchandise.

And if you think about it, this is just bringing music back to where it was before the weird bubble of recording sales between, say, 1920 and 1990.

If you are a song writer for others, this reality definitely does suck, and as a part-time freelance writer who knows the cheapness of words these days, I feel for you. But it is a reality.

Alex said...

I'm with Crack on this one. If a DJ can replace you, then you were not that good to begin with.

Alex said...

A thought experiment - as much as I detest Gaga... could a DJ replace her live concert?

Palladian said...

GaGa may not be any good, so she's giving success in art a bad name, but she is of our time,...

The most dreadful art is often a better indicator of the intellectual and aesthetic poverty of an era than the masterpieces.

There were a lot more Bouguereaus than there were Degas. If you're looking for great art, look for the Degas. If you're looking for the spirit of the age, look for the Bouguereau. A sad but inevitable fact of art, culture and life.

bagoh20 said...

Don't confuse success with talent. The Kardashians are successful.

Alex said...

Of course Gaga is a symbol of the intellectual poverty of our times, but was the top pop music of 1981 any better? Remember the BeeGees/Air Supply/Journey were ruling the airwaves then and they were thought of as vacuous.

Palladian said...

The Kardashians are successful.

Barack Obama is successful.

Seven Machos said...

royalties are still written into studio musicians' contracts

Well, then the signers of those contracts are morons because they should know by now how little money they are going to see.

Sure, I suppose I can walk into your garden and help myself to the fruits of your labor

Well, dude, yes! Exactly! Let's say you buy an apple from me (as someone has to buy a recording at some point). Then, you brilliantly figure out how to copy my apple again and again at no cost for every subsequent apple eater (after a low initial fixed cost and a monthly fiber-optic connection).

Jason, dude, if you can figure a way to do that, you are going to get a Nobel prize. You are going to be richer than Bill Gates could ever dream. Statues will be built for you. Holidays will be named for you. You will be the brightest star of history for a thousand years.

Indeed! If you can do that, I hope you walk over to my garden quickly. I'll have all the fruit out by the door and the vegetables, too.

Jason said...

The fact that Yoko Ono can make enormous amounts of money from songs she didn't write is a good example of how perverted our current copyright regime really is.

What's perverted? That a successful songwriter's work can take care of his wife and children after he's been murdered?

That's a feature of the system. Not a bug.

Sorry you don't care for Yoko. But grown-ups know you can't make policy just to screw people who's singing you don't like.

Jim Croce had a wife, too, when he was killed in a plane crash. Her name is Ingrid.

I'm rather happy Jim was able to take care of her, and their son, after Jim was gone, at least partially. (Jim's ouevre did not leave her a wealthy woman.)

You would have loved to take food out of their mouths, too.

rcommal said...

They don’t see this as a subversive act

Of course they don't. It's not. In and to their bones it's an entitlement, and the actions have to do with claiming various entitlements.

Claiming entitlements is not at all "subversive." It's mainstream.

What, there are folks who don't agree? Well, then, state your case and then fight for it.

---

Just for the record: I don't agree with you, either, rhhardin, though I pay attention to your case and do embrace some of it.

Seven Machos said...

Jason -- Just a fun quick question for you. Do you happen to know how long a person who writes a will can affect the future with their will? Clue: there is a well-known doctrine.

Do you happen to know why policymakers sought to make such a doctrine? Hint: it's called the Dead Hand Doctrine.

Palladian said...

"What's perverted? That a successful songwriter's work can take care of his wife and children after he's been murdered?"

That poor, poor widow! Why, she'd be begging on the streets without her half-billion dollars!

And Sean Lennon, why, without that 500 million dollars, he'd actually need a modicum of his father's talent to survive! Good thing for absurd copyright!

The Crack Emcee said...

Seven Machos,

Crack -- I disagree. The profusion of art -- music, for example -- has caused the price of art to go down. At the same time, markets have grown and segmented chaotically, allowing an individual artist more opportunity to make a living.

Yeah, but making it more difficult for a nobody to get discovered. Jay-Z or gaGa can lay out a campaign and everyone will hear about it, joe Schmoe easily gets lost amongst the clutter now. That's why raising your game is so important:

It's all you've got.

Moreover, the money to be made in music is no longer in the recording. This is a simple fact. But there is much money to be made in the concert tour (there are many more venues now), the t-shirt, and various other merchandise.

And if you're the shy, awkward, or disturbed Syd Barret type? Like I said, there's a LOT of pain out there now - not everybody is, or wants to be, Elvis in the gold lame' suit,...

And if you think about it, this is just bringing music back to where it was before the weird bubble of recording sales between, say, 1920 and 1990.

Agreed there. We're back into the 1950s and payola. Live performance is king, but the ugly side is all we're losing by that being so. Creativity, before now, wasn't limited to entertainment. Now it is, and we're a lesser culture for it.

If you are a song writer for others, this reality definitely does suck, and as a part-time freelance writer who knows the cheapness of words these days, I feel for you. But it is a reality.

Agreed again. The old Silicon Valley saying was, everything creative that hits the internet loses about 80% of it's value, so whatever you're cooking up had better be worth a hell of a lot of money,...

Jason said...

Did you patent the apple?

If so, then you have the right to license it as you see fit. The apple is your intellectual property.

If I take that apple... with whatever unique attributes it has that you bred into it, and sell it myself, then I'm stealing your intellectual property.

You guys are no better than the spoiled, self-entitled 99 percenters hanging out at Zicotti Park with ketchup. Someone else created something, and you think you're entitled to it for free.

"I believe in personal property, but not private property." (Rolling eyes.)

If you want to do away with the royalty system, fine. Get the government to condemn the property under imminent domain laws and buy out the contracts at fair market value.

Your argument has gone well past reasonable fair use, parody and even sampling issues that came up when sampling first became popular in the 80s.

You're like that young official in "A Man for All Seasons," willing to cut down every law in the country to get at Yoko Ono.

Well, suppose you caught Yoko. What will you do when the Yoko turns round on you, the laws all being flat?

Do you think you can stand up in the woodwinds that would blow then?

If you don't respect intellectual property, then nothing you have and nothing you own is sacred.

Seven Machos said...

Palladian is so right, as usual (not always, but usual -- ;]).

What these absurd copyrights really are doing -- and all that they are doing -- is promoting and perpetuating a class of propertied lackadaisical, loutish glamour boys and girls no different than the worst of any European aristocracy. It's not land holding the thing together but rights to other property.

Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh would be duly impressed, particularly with your efforts to ingrain these perpetual rights on behalf of the poor wives and children of dead rich people.

rcommal said...

More important to pay heed to is that, stealthily, "first to register" copyright has taken over the "who innovated first" value. Legally speaking.

Life is complicated; shit even more so.

Seven Machos said...

Did you patent the apple?

Why should any apple be copyrightable? How long should a person be able to hold a copyright on an apple? These are questions you glide over.

If you as an artist put your work out on a freely copyable media, don't expect it not to be copied freely. If your art is so great, why do you put it in a format that can be so easily copied by people who don't give a shit about your beliefs about copying art? You and Yoko are the idiots here, dude.

Palladian said...

If you'd like a good example of a total piece of shit parasite organization, that thrives on our ridiculous, aristocratic and totalitarian intellectual property regime, look no further than the perfect exemplar in my field: The Artist's Rights Society, stifling growth, innovation and artistic evolution for rich-ass artists and their relatives since 1987.

Irony of ironies: they represent the Estate of Andy Warhol, an artist whose entire career was based on unattributed appropriation, and aggressively pursue copyright infringement cases against those that copy... his copyright infringements.

rcommal said...

You think The Beatles would have been demoralized by internet copiers in the day?

Yes, in fact, as it happens, I do think that. You should, too, assuming there's some sort of Beatles history referenced in and underpinning your comment.

Seven Machos said...

One other gem from Jason, and then I'll quit, promise:

If you want to do away with the royalty system, fine. Get the government to condemn the property under imminent domain laws and buy out the contracts at fair market value.

What? What does this even mean? How do you go from doing away with royalties to the government condemning property and buying contracts? What are you talking about?

It is not the government's role to enforce your property rights. It is your role to enforce your property rights. This should be obvious to everyone.

The government owes you no duty to provide the ability for you to make money by forcing your competitors out of business.

Your arguments -- to the extent that they are no hopelessly stupid -- are grossly authoritarian. Moreover, they make the same naive appeals to government as the Occupy goofballs you condemn.

It is ironic that you are telling people they don't know what they are talking about. Because you obviously have not thought your ideas through at all.

rcommal said...

The government owes you no duty to provide the ability for you to make money by forcing your competitors out of business.

EXACTLY. This is a HUGE part of why SOPA is an abomination. It's not only about bloggers, citizen-journalists, and music- and other media-stealing, you know. Y'know?

Well, do you know, or don't you?

Jason said...

Just a fun quick question for you. Do you happen to know how long a person who writes a will can affect the future with their will? Clue: there is a well-known doctrine.

Do you happen to know why policymakers sought to make such a doctrine? Hint: it's called the Dead Hand Doctrine.


Oh, goodie. Look what we have here. Another lawyer trying to apply lawyering to a set of facts he doesn't understand... even as he tries to leverage his legal education into an attack on the law itself - specifically on the law of contracts, and a very long history of intellectual property law that is directly contrary to his view.

But let's take a look at the Lennon/Yoko instance.

Now, I haven't read up on the specifics of this case since I was about 11 years old. And full disclosure - Mr. Harrison was, apparently, a 2nd cousin of mine.

But as I recall, there were two companies - Northern Songs, which did the publishing, and the record company, Apple Corps.

I don't think Apple Corps was up to much by the time Lennon was killed, but looking at it now, it's still owned by the Lennon estate, presumeably in trust for Yoko, though I don't imagine it's very profitable.

Lennon cashed out, apparently, before his death, on the publishing, selling his stake in Northern Songs. After Lennon died, according to the current Wiki, the owner, ATV, approached McCartney about buying back the Beatles catalogue. McCartney didn't want to be seen buying the Beatles catalogue without Lennon, so he asked Ono if she would go halfsies. They couldn't put together the deal, so ATV kept the catalogue, eventually selling to Michael Jackson.

As far as I can tell, Ono never bought back the Lennon McCartney catalogue. Her wealth is from other investments, and those awesome Plastic Ono Band recordings.

Wills have nothing to do with it - Anything Lennon had would have gone to her by operation of law, anyway, even without a will, though I'm sure the bulk of the assets are held in trust.

And, smart guy, since both Sean and Julian were alive at the time of Lennon's death, the Dead Hand doctrine doesn't even come into play.

WV: threta. Is that a threta or a promise?

Jason said...

It is not the government's role to enforce your property rights. It is your role to enforce your property rights.

Which is done how? Answer: Through the courts.

Of course, I could just hunt down and kill plagiarists who steal my intellectual property. However, in this day and age, that seems... suboptimal.

So the courts it is.

Why should an apple by copyrightable?

Why have copyright laws at all? Well, who cares. We do. And intellectual property has long been held to be property just like any other.

The fact that copyrights and patents do, in fact, exist, and protect songs and music specifically, despite your howling at the moon, is rather inconvenient to your argument. Devastating, actually.

How long should a person be able to hold a copyright on an apple? These are the questions you glide over.

These are questions that are already settled. I don't need to glide over them. You need to undo them if you object. But the law has been written, and although we're struggling to apply it to new forms of media and distribution, the principles underlying it are pretty much settled.

You can change the law if you like. But right now the winds don't seem to be blowing your way. SOPA made it to the legislative stage, for example. We'll see what happens from here. But there is more legislative momentum to enforce copyright than to tear it down.

How do you go from doing away with royalties to the government condemning property and buying contracts? What are you talking about?

Sorry. I should have typed slower, because you lawyer types are pretty slow to figure out what you don't grasp.

Intellectual property is property. It has value, just as a piece of land does.

The contracts themselves have value. A contract can be bought and sold just as much as land is. Do you know how sports teams make money? A lot of it isn't from operations and merchandising... a lot of the free cash flow comes from depreciating the value of the contracts themselves.

Why does the tax code allow a sports team owner to depreciate a CONTRACT? Because athletes have a limited shelf life, and because we recognize that that contract has value.

Under MACRS rules, you actually can depreciate all manner of intellectual property. Why? Because, again, we recognize that intellectual property has value.

Now, if you want to void a claim on a piece of real property, there is a legal process for doing that, called emminent domain.

When the government asserts its alloidal title to the land, however, it typically at least pays lip service to compensating the landowner at the fair market value. You can quibble over how we arrive at FMV, but them's the basics.

Now, with a piece of intellectual property, or a contract governing the distribution of the cash flows that intellectual property generates, the government cannot even claim alloidal title, like it can with real estate.

If you think it can, you're as much of a statist bastard as Stalin was. If the state believes it has an interest in tearing up these contracts, in the face of generations of established case law on top of the statutes defining copyright themselves, it has even less standing to do so than it does asserting alloidal title to real estate to put in, say, a high-speed rail line. I know you guys love that shit.

At least with real property, the state has no choice. If it wants to put in a pipeline, or a highway, or a railroad, it MUST obtain a strip of land along its course. There is no alternative. So we make the best deal we can.

In your case, though, you are arguing to strip people of the fruits of their labor - of their private property - because of your antipathy for freaking Yoko Ono???

Pathetic.

rcommal said...

What you don't get, Jason, is the way in which this legislation is written. The devil is in the details. And it's not just about musicians, for example (which thing I do not take lightly, not at all: My parents were both professional musicians and my dad a university professor of music, as well). It's about all sorts of other innovation as well, and this abomination is mostly about that.

Jason said...

rcommal,

I never said I supported SOPA as written.

rcommal said...

In your case, though, you are arguing to strip people of the fruits of their labor - of their private property - because of your antipathy for freaking Yoko Ono???

I absolutely am not.

Pathetic.

*shrug*

That sort of dismissive label/epithet I just do not have any more time for paying attention to anymore.

But if ever you need me, when you get serious about the pertinent battle, let me know.

Jason said...

why should an apple be copyrightable?

Who cares? Apples are copyrightable. Or, rather, patentable.

http://www.freshpatents.com/Apple-tree-named--orion--dt20080731ptan20080184403.php

http://www.freshpatents.com/Apple-tree-named--lady-laura--dt20080731ptan20080184402.php

Jason said...

rcommal,

You're so vain. You apparently thought that post was about you.

Jason said...

rcommal,

To clarify, the entire last part of the post was not directed to you, at you or about you, but specifically to a Seven Machos quote immediately preceding it.

Read closer. You made two misreadings back to back - You assumed I am a SOPA supporter... I am not. You then assumed a whole post was about you despite the quoted passages in italics.

rcommal said...

Of that there can be no doubt, Mr. Clouds-In-My-Coffee. Right?

rcommal said...

OK, Jason, how about this: I'll grant all that you're saying. I'll accept every bit of criticism.

Let's start over.

SOPA: 1) Good legislation or bad legislation? 2) Should it be law or should it not?

Seven Machos said...

Jason -- You are indeed arguing that intellectual property laws should be far more draconian, given the stifling of economic growth they cause and given the reality of digital work in which we live. As you so vehemently say, you are allowed to do that.

Why, then, do you suggest, for example, that laws about the lengths of copyrights are settled? Settled by whom? Is it by you and the very people who are trying to make law more draconian? The word settled is an interesting choice.

At any rate, you are a piffling bore. It is people like you who ultimately made me realize that the cult of property and similar Randian goofiness is so goofy. In a way, I guess, I should thank you for helping me become more human and decent.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason,

You guys are no better than the spoiled, self-entitled 99 percenters hanging out at Zicotti Park with ketchup. Someone else created something, and you think you're entitled to it for free.

Oh crap to that - digitizing it makes it free, not our desires. And, as an artist, I can attest to that. it's changed my world considerably but there's nothing you or I can do about it. It's a new world, jason.

You were carrying a lump of ice, the weather changed, now everyone's drinking the damn thing and you're screaming "give it back!" like that can be done. You're goofy in the head. Nobody's acting spoiled or self-entitled here but you. You're demanding we return to the past because you say so - how spoiled and self-entitled is that?

And if we don't/can't what are you going to do about it? There's nothing to be done. It's over. Your only choices are to make something that can't be reproduced (live performance) or that is simply yours by default (a masterpiece).

If you're not up to the challenge then shut up.

Jason said...

You are indeed arguing that intellectual property laws should be far more draconian,

No, I am not. I have not called for any change.

given the stifling of economic growth they cause

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Why, then, do you suggest, for example, that laws about the lengths of copyrights are settled?

I'm not suggesting anything. I'm TELLING you. U.S. Code, Section 3, Chapter 17 defines the length of copyright.

Congress and the President have already signed off, and the courts have already established a huge body of case law. That's as settled as things get.

Settled by whom? Is it by you and the very people who are trying to make law more draconian?

This really isn't going well for you, is it? Settled by Congress, the representatives of the people, and signed by the President of the United States. Quite clearly.

There is no more legitimate legal authority in the land.

At any rate, you are a piffling bore

Is that what you're reduced to?

It is people like you who ultimately made me realize that the cult of property and similar Randian goofiness is so goofy

I'm not a Randian. Paul, Ayn or otherwise. Thanks for demonstrating how little you understand, though.

I am, though, a conservative, and you cannot separate conservativism from private property rights. And those rights have extended to intellectual property - despite your inane denial of reality - back to the dawn of the Republic and beyond.

In a way, I guess, I should thank you for helping me become more human and decent.

Again, assumes facts not in evidence. You're the one looking to strip people of property. That's not very decent at all.

But it's nice that you apparently hate people who receive royalties, and level insults at me.

If that's decency to you, then you haven't set the hurdle very high.

Jason said...

You were carrying a lump of ice, the weather changed, now everyone's drinking the damn thing and you're screaming "give it back!"

That's pretty rich, coming from you, dude.

rcommal said...

My point is simply this: It's unlikely that SOPA will help or protect individuals. It's also unlikely to help or protect small businesses. What it's most likely to protect are very large entities looking for ways nudge out both entrepreneurial individuals and small businesses. I get why people first think of music, for example, as a shorthand for "artists." What I don't get is why the same people can't imagine the implications of SOPA (&PIPA) for other creative types: engineers, inventors and technicians, for just one clustering of examples.

"Competing interests" is something worth debating--assuming there's someone out there who's interested enough in the likes of that.

--

Jason said...

Back to rcommal - the last grownup in the room:

I am adamantly opposed to SOPA, as written.

I think the current regimen of laws and torts is broadly sufficient, when properly applied.

I think extending the power of the government to bar search engines from linking to offending pages, and payment services from doing business with offending pages, is a gross overreach of power and will be tremendously destructive to the Internet, to the advertising and payment systems industries as a whole.

The current penalty of 5 years in prison for streaming 10 songs is absurd.

I think we should have a system similar to DCMA takedowns, but the presumption of innocence should be on the streaming site. The burden of proof should rest on the party filing the DCMA request.

If a site fails to comply, then the filing entity should be able to seek a court order. If the site still fails to comply, then we have remedies available either via a jury hearing an infringement lawsuit, or in egregious cases, a contempt finding. That could involve jail time. The way the bill is written we could see kids' parents getting jailed for 12 year olds swapping files.

If a user-generated content site, such as Youtube, is posting large amounts of copyrighted data, the DCMA procedure is sufficient. Liability should accrue as it does in any other tort case: Show me A.) standing, B.) Damages and C.) Proximate cause.

If those are in place, I don't see any need to reinvent the wheel.

The larger tube sites are getting enough advertising revenue that there's something there to claim... say, Ok YouTube - you guys posted a video that got a million hits, and generated 500,000 ad clicks at a buck each. But the content is stolen. Clearly. So you don't get to keep X percent of the ad revenue.

I'd have a streamlined procedure for claiming those ad revenues.

SOPA as written now, as I understand it (having read the Wiki and heard some back and forth on some different forums) is garbage.

I have no opinion at this point on whether its measures regarding counterfeit pharmaceuticals or other tangible goods are a good idea. My opinion now is solely regarding media property.

Seven Machos said...

Growth + Liberty > Property.

Goodnight.

Jason said...

Cute little tautology. Reminds me of when I was teaching high school.

However, you overlook property as an essential component of both liberty and growth.

Bruce Hayden said...

How long should a person be able to hold a copyright on an apple? These are the questions you glide over.

Well, first, you cannot have a copyright on an apple, per se. You didn't create it - God did. You can own a copyright on a reproduction, whether by photograph or by an artist, of an apple. And, you can own a trademark of an Apple. That was the dispute between the Beatles and Apple computer. But those aren't copyrights.

These are questions that are already settled. I don't need to glide over them. You need to undo them if you object. But the law has been written, and although we're struggling to apply it to new forms of media and distribution, the principles underlying it are pretty much settled.

You can change the law if you like. But right now the winds don't seem to be blowing your way. SOPA made it to the legislative stage, for example. We'll see what happens from here. But there is more legislative momentum to enforce copyright than to tear it down.


The basic problem there is rent seeking, and that the interests of the consumers of copyright protected works are much more diffuse than those of the owners of the works.

The Constitutional justification of copyright is to encourage the creation of original expression. The problem is that copyright term is now such that the recent addition (The Sonny Bono Patent Extension Act, aka the Mickey Mouse Act) did not expand the incentives to create more than a minuscule amount, but made sure that the content companies (led that time by Disney) were able to keep receiving revenues for works created more than a half a century earlier.

The problem is that you need to look at the law from the point of a person considering creating a new work, and that means looking at the probable revenue stream out through the term of the copyright. But, in this case, the future value of 20 years of revenue 75 or so years from now is negligible - 1-2% if I remember right - not enough to really affect anyone's decision to expend the effort to create a work of sufficient original expression to qualify for copyright protection.

So, in the end, the content owners paid their lobbyists, and made billions, while those looking at creating works in the future gained essentially nothing, and the public lost what the rights owners gained.

And, yes, that is what is going on with SOPA right now. The rights owners looked at the success that large companies had in weakening the patent system through the recently enacted America (Dis)Invents Act, by, in their case, spending hundreds of millions to save themselves billions, and figured that Congress was ripe for being bought in the area of IP rights.

So, Lamar Smith again seems to be pulling though for K street and its lobbyists, selling IP protection to the highest bidders. He has, again, stacked the hearings with proponents, while making sure the opponents are not heard, and ignored any evidence that would tend to diminish the appeal of his legislation.

I should note that Wisconsin's Rep. Sensenbrenner was probably our biggest ally against Patent Reform in the House, and we constantly bemoaned that he was prevented by Republican caucus rules from retaking the chair of the Judiciary Committee when the Republicans retook the House. Rumor is that Smith's presumptive successor isn't going to be any better.

Kirk Parker said...

Jason, I make my living by generating IP, too, and I couldn't disagree with you more. Your thought processes in this matter seem to have been totally captured by the increasingly-unsuitable property analogy.

Bruce Hayden said...

As to Jepson claims, I have several patents and I can't understand any of them.

Not surprised in the least. Few non-patent attorneys understand patents, and, in particular, patent claims. And, I would suggest that unsupervised new patent attorneys are a danger to their clients for at least five years. Of course, I am biased, having passed the patent bar 20 years ago.

For those who aren't up on this sort of thing, Jepson claims are claims to improvements. Most U.S. claims these day claim: An X comprising A, B, and C. A Jepson claim essentially claims: An X having A and B, with improvements comprising C. Thus, the applicant putatively distinguishes what is old (A and B) from what is new (C), or, in terms of copyright of a derivative work, the underlying work and the additional expressive content added.

Superficially, since most patents are improvement patents, you would think that Jepson patent claims would be popular. But, instead, they are fairly rare here in the U.S., and that is because many, if not most, experienced patent attorneys do not want to admit up front that the only novelty is in the improvement (C above), plus, they may weaken their argument that the combination of A, B, and C is novel and non-obvious.

In my job as a patent attorney, I read a lot of patents (mostly in the software and electronics area), and very, very, rarely encounter Jepson type claims. Mostly, the ones I do encounter are in patents or patent applications that started in other countries, many of which do prefer this sort of claiming. Almost never in applications originating in the U.S. originally written by U.S. patent attorneys or agents.

Seven Machos said...

Somehow, Jason, I think we'll avoid socialism even without your strange brand of media property ownership rights maximization -- and even if Yoko cannot sit on her ass and collect royalties into perpetuity any time someone copies a copy of a copy of a song by her dead husband.

Also, SOPA won't pass. And if it passes, it will not be enforced. There is, in fact, nothing that Congress can do that will put the genie back in the bottle. Congress could just as well pass a long ordering that real property values stop decreasing right now this instant. I know property is important to you, and so certainly we shouldn't let its value fall. But you think about that law, and maybe even you can figure out why it won't work.

Bruce Hayden said...

I will admit that Patent Reform, SOPA, and the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, point out that Republicans are no better than the Democrats when it comes to selling IP rights to the highest bidders. All of these were enacted by or are being pushed hard in a Republican House.

But, lest you think that the Republicans have a monopoly here, the America (Dis)Invents Act is also termed as Leahy-Smith, with Sen. Leahy (D-IBM) taking the starring role. Turns out that his major benefactor (IBM) threw a party for him in Burlington, VT a couple days after the legislation passed the Senate the first time last year. And, the only reason that the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee (John Conyers) wasn't named in the title is that he wasn't the chair any more. But, he seems to have been pushing the legislation just as hard as the chair, Lamar Smith, was. And, appears to be doing so for SOPA too.

Bruce Hayden said...

Also, SOPA won't pass. And if it passes, it will not be enforced. There is, in fact, nothing that Congress can do that will put the genie back in the bottle. Congress could just as well pass a long ordering that real property values stop decreasing right now this instant. I know property is important to you, and so certainly we shouldn't let its value fall. But you think about that law, and maybe even you can figure out why it won't work.

Not so sure that you are correct. The stuff that we are seeing out of Rep. Smith's office is extremely optimistic, and sounds little different than did the stuff that was coming out from there about patent reform earlier this year. Stuff like that it was unanimous in the (IMO heavily stacked) hearings that the legislation was urgently needed to solve an urgent problem, and that any concerns for destroying DNS security were fanciful at best.

The two reasons that do provide some hope are that the rights holders don't appear to be putting up nearly as much money as did the large companies funding patent reform, and that the Internet community is getting aroused about the security ramifications (such as potentially destroying the functionality of DNSSEC).

As for the "won't be used" - don't be so sure. Some copyright rights owners seem to have been abusing DMCA takedown notices and there have been a number of high profile copyright cases against college students, etc. Remember, these companies' business model is breaking down, and they will use whatever tools they have to slow down their slide.

But, I think that you are right that the genie is out of the bag. The problem is that the more desperate these companies get, the more draconian the legislation they seem to be willing to finance.

tim in vermont said...

I have an idea. If you don't want people stealing your stuff on the internet, then DON'T PUT IT HERE!

People want only the properties of the internet that are good for them. Guess what? The internet is not a shop for photographers to sell their wares only.

Bob_R said...

I think rhhardin's posts are the most interesting on this thread, though I'm not as far down the road as he is.

He has made reference to empirical evidence about whether copyright actually promote creativity (and/or) promote a better overall better funded creative class. The following Reason article has some info on this.

Bob_R said...

One area of disagreement or clarification: the best common law analog of intellectual property law is not stealing or destruction of property - it's trespass. Generally, you can't legally wander over someone's land and draw water for the spring even if you leave no trace of your presence. One reason the analogy works so well is that the laws against trespass are widely broken, and the justifications are the same as those for breaking IP law.

elmo iscariot said...

Jason,

Sure, I suppose I can walk into your garden and help myself to the fruits of your labor. I can walk into your store and help myself to your inventory and walk out with it.

Up front, let me be clear: I think intellectual property is a complicated and problematic but important concept. I may think our IP law needs substantial reform, but I'm not going to suggest we should get rid of copyright. Artists have a right to profit from their intangible creations just as inventors of tangible innovations do.

That said, your continued insistence on theft analogies is not helping your case. If you come into my garden and take my apples, you've deprived me of my property. If you use Google's satellite photos to copy the layout of my garden, I might be able to argue that you've violated my intellectual property rights, or that you may have deprived me of royalties that I believe I might otherwise have been able to negotiate with you, but you certainly haven't deprived me of my garden.

I know pro-IP folks who just can't understand why people don't get that copying media is just like stealing a CD; it's because the two differ in important ways, and the great majority can see that intuitively. The comparison is hyperbolic, and does more to undermine your position than to support it.

Joe said...

I've produced private and commercial art and have created software, some of which I've put in the public domain. In all these, what bugs me the most is someone appropriating my work and presenting it as their own.

The second most irritating thing is someone appropriating creative work and making shitty art from it. Conning people into buying it only adds insult to injury.

Jason said...

Why?

Can't the farmer just grow more food?

Let's look at another angle.

I go to your employer, offering the same service you do, at a slightly discounted price... but I also tell him you've been buggering boys in a football locker room.

He lets you go, and hires my services instead.

What? Damages? I've done you no damages at all. You still have the same capability you had before to find another market for your labor.

We might as well throw away defamation law, because if I destroy your reputation, I haven't taken anything from you.

Well, first, you cannot have a copyright on an apple, per se.

No. You patent apples. And their reproductions.

The law is already established. Someone else can come along and patent an improvement, but you can still own the rights to the same apple variety.

You can own a copyright on a reproduction, whether by photograph or by an artist, of an apple

Precisely. WTF is the problem?

I have an idea. If you don't want people stealing your stuff on the internet, then DON'T PUT IT HERE!

If you don't want people stealing your car, don't leave it in the driveway where people can see it!

Ooops. We have laws against car theft. How about that? Who knew?

Jason, I think we'll avoid socialism even without your strange brand of media property ownership rights maximization

I'm not arguing to maximize anything, other than what's already on the books.

Joe said...

Oh, and concerning young people. My children, 15-23, have said many times that their peers know when they are stealing music, but many just don't care. That is actually far more disturbing than the "ideological baggage" concept; it shows a moral failing.

(A few years back I worked with a man in his late twenties who was also a leader in his church. He openly bragged about how he'd hadn't paid a dime for music since he was a teen. This was almost as bad as being in church, back when I went to church, and sitting in front of two men who were discussing pirating copies of software from their respective companies and swapping said copies with each other.)

Jose_K said...

That said, I have no problem with awarding monopolies of use to inventors for a few years. Three, maybe. Or five
I guess you know that pharmaceutical companies need motr than 7 years to surpass the hurdles of the FDA?

g. said...

My photographic images are mine and not just a concept in that I make my living selling those images. If you are taking them for personal use or for profit, I am no longer making money from them. That right to profit from my work is taken from me.

Freeman Hunt said...

Different arts differ in the importance of copyright to their development. Movies, for example, are incredibly expensive to make. Without fairly strict copyrights, you get far, far less of them, and you skew the market toward mega blockbusters concocted of ad department sensibilities that are guaranteed opening weekend moneymakers.

Bruce Hayden said...

That said, I have no problem with awarding monopolies of use to inventors for a few years. Three, maybe. Or five

That just isn't going to be long enough to recoup the cost of acquiring a patent, and is shorter than many take to get such. Keep in mind that the current patent term is 20 years from application, plus sometimes a little added in for USPTO inefficiencies. But, 3-5 years out of that often goes into the prosecution, and I have seen patents take 10 years to acquire.

But, this is really irrelevant to this discussion, because the original post was about copyright, which now has a much longer term - life of the author plus 70 years, or the shorter of 120 years from creation or 95 years after publication. This was the result of a 20 year extension in the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (aka the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act) enacted in 1998.

So, copyright term is 5-6 times as long as patent term right now, and, as I pointed out above, this 20 year expansion cannot be justified based on an increased incentive to create. It was pure rent-seeking by rights owners, pure and simple.

Jason said...

On consideration, I think that this notion that assuring copyright owners the fruits of their own labor somehow restricts or inhibits creation is utterly without merit... at least in the fields I know well.

For example: I write the song that makes the whole world sing. I die. The royalty rights pass to my heirs. This, in no way, inhibits someone else from writing a new song.

This idea that stripping the exclusive rights to my work away from me and my family somehow encourages someone else to create a song seems to me to be without merit.

I'm pretty confident about this in music, literature, art, etc.

I understand that there are certain elements in computer coding that necessarily come up over and over again that maybe we need to take a look at.

But it's not that different - you can't copyright a I-IV-V7 12-bar blues progression. You can only copyright the things you do with it that are unique.

Maybe we need to look at structures to account for that within coding, or maybe we need to treat it separately, but I'm not in it every day.

This weird fucking hate-obsession with Yoko Ono - who doesn't even get royalties from Lennon's portfolio, as far as I can tell, is just bizarre, though.

WV. Strit. Travis Strit. I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason,

This idea that stripping the exclusive rights to my work away from me and my family somehow encourages someone else to create a song seems to me to be without merit.

I'm pretty confident about this in music, literature, art, etc.


You know no such thing - you're talking to yourself and find it convincing. Above, I gave you a link to the Negativland/U2 battle over these very issues, and it was U2 - arguing your side - that ended up folding, and ultimately *siding with Negativland* who you would claim "stole" their work, though what Negativland created is totally different and even implied U2's "spiritual" yearnings are stupid.

Right is right.

Tom DeGisi said...

Jason,

Please read the Reason article that Bob_R originally linked. It is an empirically supported argument that you - you personally - would make more money without copyright. It also is positive, not insulting nor mean spirited.

Yours,
Tom

jr565 said...

Crack Emcee wrote:
And if we don't/can't what are you going to do about it? There's nothing to be done. It's over. Your only choices are to make something that can't be reproduced (live performance) or that is simply yours by default (a masterpiece).

You can't digitize a masterpiece? Since when? Sgt Pepper may be a masterpiece, but I can download that on bittorrent any day.Why would whether it's junk or whether it's shlock determine whether I can make a digitized copy.
And how about a live performance? What if you were playing live and charging those there to see you. And I unbeknownst to you decided to record your live performance live while you are performing to the world. Oh, and I'll charge less money than you charge to perform live. Plus i'll put up a video feed.
Do you have any problem with that?
Because it sounds like even if you create a masterpiece and/or perform live you don't own those either.
Do you own the merchandise you would sell at your show? Maybe, but I can copy your logo and sell YOUR shirt for less, or give your shirt away. You own NOTHING of what you created. I can determine for you how your work will be distributed.

Jason said...

I'm well aware of the U2/Negativland squabble. That was over fair use and the treatment of parody.

It was wholly off topic when you first brought it up, and it's wholly off topic now. Negativland's parody was never a threat to U2's livelihood, though covering whole songs is clearly beyond the fair use standard then in use.

Furthermore, U2's members have made enough money. They're not worried. The same is not neccessarily true of the studio players, producers, and others who may have a smaller royalty interest.

A closer example would be the squabble over that guy who designed the Obama "HOPE" poster from someone else's photograph.

Tom DeGisi said...

BTW, Jason, I think I can explain why no copyright worked better for artists than copyright. Copyright depends on being able to afford enforcement costs, and publishers have always been better able to afford enforcement costs. Publishers and lawyers end up getting a much bigger slice of the profits. Plus, publishers always do a better job as a group of understanding copyright, contracts, business and enforcement, so they make more money.

Lack of copyright, by contrast, favors those who write content, not contracts.

Yours,
Tom

jr565 said...

Crack can I call my band Negativeland? And can all my songs on my Negativeland album be songs by the other Negativeland?

Tom DeGisi said...

jr565,

You can't digitize a live performance yet. Video != live. Not close.

This will change. See Brave New World.

Yours,
Tom

Jason said...

The Reason article is prettily-written bullshit.

Citing a historical outlier from the pre-digital and pre-analog age from 250 years ago is not an "empirical" argument. Holy crap, dod you really think it was?

At any rate, who gives a crap what Reason magazine thinks. Reason might as well write a treatise on how collectivization will boost farm productivity.

But it's not their fucking farms to give away.

Each copyright holder can price his work as he sees fit, or give it away for free, in anticipation of some deferred gain, as he sees fit. Or not.

That's the way it ought to be.

You guys are awfully free with other peoples' money.

gs said...

My immediate instinct about the linked article was that it is a subbbtle way for the big-media New York Times Company, firewall and all, to push SOPA. Clearly a number of commenters here have made a similar association.

Not that I'm surprised, but I fault the NYT for not declaring that they have a potential corporate interest in the issues described.

Jason said...

I think I can explain why no copyright worked better for artists than copyright.

Your premise is totally absurd.

You read one crappy and poorly thought-out article from Reason magazine and went off the rails, dude.

jr565 said...

Tom wrote:
You can't digitize a live performance yet. Video != live. Not close.

Video is often better. You don't have to deal with the joker in front of you blocking your view with his head. You get close ups of the band that are usually in focus, unlike if you're watching a band from up in the bleacher seats. Usually to assist those concert goers, the band puts up huge VIDEO monitors so that they can see what the people in the front row can see. Would you say that those people in the bleachers are not seeing it live? So what if while you're playing your concert and charging money, I'm using your video feed to broadcast your concert to everyone for free. On the most basic level, shouldn't you be the one who determines how your concert is distributed?

Tom DeGisi said...

Jason,

You are acting like a jerk in response to my not acting like a jerk, which probably means my argument shook you up.

You said, "You guys are awfully free with other peoples' money."

That's odd. I was specifically pointing out a way for you to make MORE money.

Try again, with argument and facts not pure insults.

Yours,
Tom

Paul said...

I feel compelled to comment on this thread due to what is, in my opinion, a wholesale and wrongheaded rejection of the notion of photography as being deserving of protection on par with the protection that is traditionally given to other types of intellectual property.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that I am not a fan of SOPA or of the industry and government response to in internet generally. However, it seems to me that photos, music, video and literature are deserving of legal protection and are morally the property of their creators whether or not they exist as part of chattel goods or as digital data.

It is foolish to suggest that because a physical good has not been stolen that nothing has been lost by the creator. Such a position would eradicate all incentive to marshal the resources necessary to create such property and would, in the end, result in a immeasurably poorer culture.

If I steal a photograph from a website for my own use, clearly I see value in the photo. After all I am using it aren't I? Further, I am not incurring any of costs associated with taking an similar photo myself. If it is a majestic mountain view for example, I am avoiding not only the cost of the equipment, but the costs associated with learning to mountain climb, the cost of equipment, the costs of an expedition to said mountain and the opportunity costs associated with not pursuing my normal employment while in pursuit of the photo. All of these are real costs associated with the photo and are lost by the true owner/photographer if I steal it for my blog. It may be true that the ease with which sharing and copying media of any kind has discounted the value of these goods in the marketplace, not unlike the discount in goods that occurred with industrialization. Just because digital goods are less valuable than their real-world equivalents, this does not mean the their creators ought to expect wholesale expropriation, rather we need to find a way to protect the value created by these digital media by supporting the IP rights of the creators and of those that legally acquire such from those creators.

Young people, like all people have always been, barbarians that will pull down civilization around themselves with little thought about the consequences. That is why civilization is such a fragile and tricky enterprise and why the inculcation of the youth with the values of civilization (such as respect for the property of others) is essential.

jr565 said...

Jason wrote:
At any rate, who gives a crap what Reason magazine thinks. Reason might as well write a treatise on how collectivization will boost farm productivity.

I have a great idea for a new website. It's called Reason. And my content will be the content from the other Reason website.
Here's their advertising page:
http://reason.com/advertise
Why would anyone advertise with THAT Reason, when my identical Reason will charge less for advertising.
Thanks for the content jackasses.

Jason said...

I was specifically pointing out a way for you to make MORE money.


No, I don't think you were.

If I thought I could make more money by releasing copyright, I can do that already.

But you aren't pointing out anything of the sort, in the real world. You are pointing out a system that strips creators of a vital source of deferred income that, in the real world, feeds families and pays mortgages.

Jason said...

You are acting like a jerk in response to my not acting like a jerk, which probably means my argument shook you up.

Don't flatter yourself.

You haven't made an argument. Only an assertion. And you're basing that on some half-baked article about a 300 year old composer who managed to make money without copyright.

But copyright law came into being around the same time in England, with Anne's laws, granting authors exclusive rights to print their own books or delegate those to a publisher. So even Bach's contemporaries saw that was a good idea.

Tom DeGisi said...

Jason,

> No, I don't think you were.

But I was. You can't know my mind any more than others could know your friends who were hurt by the internet.

> Don't flatter yourself.

I wasn't. I was playing tit-for-tat.

> And you're basing that on some half-baked article about a 300 year old composer who managed to make money without copyright.

Which you could not have read completely or understood or you would not have said the following:

> But copyright law came into being around the same time in England, with Anne's laws, granting authors exclusive rights to print their own books or delegate those to a publisher. So even Bach's contemporaries saw that was a good idea.

That was the point of the article. They were comparing contemporaries - English with copyright and Germans without.

And the German content producers made more money than the English ones.

It's OK to skim, but it doesn't always work. I get bit by that sometimes.

Yours,
Tom

Celebrim said...

Jason: When you start bringing rape into your analogies, then you start to sound like you've gone off into cloud cuckoo land.

Take for example your claim that live performers were driven out of business by digital infringement. By this logic, we ought to do away with recordings entirely, since their existance imperils the livelihoods of live performers. Indeed, since the economic value associated with a recording (and the cost to produce and reproduce it) is lower than the cost of a live performance (and valued as such on the market), it is pretty easy to demonstrate that by your logic all recordings - whether legally paid for or not - drive live performers out of business.

And this is to say nothing of the fact that most live performers are small time cover bands where it is very questionable whether they pay revenues on every song they perform live. Not everyone buys the sheet music, much less stage rights. I've been to several concerts by big name acts who perform covers as part of their concert to music that they could not (or would not?) gain the rights to on their album.

I can't help but feel that most of your post is simply sour grapes that your technological niche is going away. I don't object to your ownership of your intellectual property or to the defence of it, but I also don't much adhere to your view of the world. Much of what you claim as natural law is nothing of the sort, but instead simply something that people in a position of power have had created on their behalf.

Why does the tax code allow a sports team owner to depreciate a CONTRACT? Because some wealthy guy lobbied for this interpretation. Whether he won the cooperation of the law on merits or bribery is an entirely different matter, particularly when it comes to matters of accounting and taxation. After all, the tax code is itself - however necessary and even if we concede its fairness, which I don't necessarily - not an natural contruct but something which has been arrived at. The idea that the government is obligated to buy out contracts if it changes the copyright law is bizarre. Again, you seem to think that if the government doesn't honor the copyright, that its taking something from you. But quite opposite the case of private property, the copyright is something extended to you by the public not something which is yours by private right.

Quite unlike the candy in the bowl on my desk, intellectual property is a socially constructed thing. It is not at all obvious that if I sing a song or speak to you, that you don't have the right to sing it as well. We as a society recognize intellectual property as a practical matter, and not because there is some obvious and tangible thing in the world as intellectual property. How much we should protect intellectual property in order to maximize the benefit collectively gained from the creation and sharing of ideas. This is a necessity of the fact that most of an ideas value primarily lies in the sharing and copying, without which it does little good. Your individual and private right to an idea may well be real, but its not unlimited as you well know.

I disagree with you completely that this is a matter of settled law. I work as a programmer and I assure you that everyone in the industry knows that existing copyright and patent laws are wholly ill-suited to dealing with the case of digital intellectual property. There are any number of issues involved in digital storage and transport, to say nothing of computer instructions themselves where the law simply hasn't been able to keep up much less speak on in any sort of authoritative manner. Likewise, even to the extent that this is settled law, much of the actual law depends ultimately on the opinion of a judge as to whether any particular action constituted fair use or not. While some cases are clear cut, some are much less so.

Celebrim said...

Paul: "If I steal a photograph from a website for my own use, clearly I see value in the photo. After all I am using it aren't I? Further, I am not incurring any of costs associated with taking an similar photo myself."

All true.

However, in the vast majority of cases, when people copy a photograph in this manner, they are doing so as part of what amounts to a casual conversation. They copy a digital image with the same ease and abandon as I just copied your words to continue this conversation. They don't do so with any intent to do you harm, any more than my repeating your words above was intended to deprive you of anything even though they are indubiably your words and you own them in that sense.

Moreover, you are neglecting the fact that any digital image is copied and used thousands of times every time it is used. It is copied not only to the computer of the person ultimately viewing it, but across scores of computers as it travels in packets between its origin and its destination. It is further copied when anyone links to the image remotely to reference it - this later being considered a social faux pas compared to actually physically copying it, because it goes onto your band width and not the copiers.

In short, much of what we deal with in the digital realm isn't copying in the traditional sense, but merely engaging with in the same way we engage in transient words when we speak face to face and is treated as such. Your words get copied, adorned, changed, or repeated without me having to pay for the ideas I got from you. That's what people using the internet are used to.

And for my part, I don't have a big problem with that. However, there is I agree some point where a line has been crossed, and you move from a fair use of the work to theft. That line has never been bright and sharp except in the clearest of cases even in the old media of enduring print. It's even less bright and sharp in the digital world. SOPA represents an attempt to recapture the past and fix permenent what I can't help but think is enherently unstable. The power brokers may be buying this law, but they are moving in the opposite direction of the culture and the providers of intellectual content that wish to get paid in the long run better recognize that.

Jason said...

By this logic, we ought to do away with recordings entirely, since their existance imperils the livelihoods of live performers.

Why? Who do you think owns the rights?

it is pretty easy to demonstrate that by your logic all recordings - whether legally paid for or not - drive live performers out of business.


Nope. Indeed, quite the opposite. Bands have historically broken even on tour operational expenses but profited on record sales. The relationship seems to be reversing in recent years, though.

it is very questionable whether they pay revenues on every song they perform live. Not everyone buys the sheet music, much less stage rights.

That's the venue's responsibility. Not the artists. You didn't know that? Legitimate bars, clubs and halls buy ASCAP licenses. They are the ultimate beneficiaries of the licensed music getting played, so the venue pays the licensing fee for live or recorded music - not the artist.

http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensingfaq.aspx

But quite opposite the case of private property, the copyright is something extended to you by the public not something which is yours by private right.

Shorter version: From each according to his abilities, to each according to he needs. Very nice.

You have taken 236 years of economic freedom and turned it on its head. Go collectivize some farms, if you must. Get that out of your system. Just don't do it here.

Tom DeGisi said...

> You have taken 236 years of economic freedom and turned it on its head. Go collectivize some farms, if you must. Get that out of your system. Just don't do it here.

I suspect this would be much less of an issue if large copyright holders had not seized a bunch of public parks and started charging tolls for their use. Fourteen years of copyright is enough and maybe too much. I'm pretty sure you aren't advocating that we return to the laws of 236 years ago. Acting as if there were 236 years of unchanging tradition does not bolster your case.

Nevertheless, Jason, you have not demonstrated your point, nor are you as conservative as you believe. Copyright is only a few hundred years old. It remains to be seen whether the monopolies it grants serve artists or not. Plenty of evidence says not. Programmers, whose work is "protected" by copyright and patents, very often find the protection more trouble than it is worth. That is my professional experience, which equals the weight of yours.

You can't own the thoughts in my head, even if I only got them by reading what you wrote. This is a conservative principle, too, just like copyright and patents.

A true conservative would recognize the conflict between these conservative principles, and not pretend it does not exist.

Yours,
Tom

RadCap said...

This is very simple. Did you create what you intend to take/use? If not, then by what right do you claim to use it? It is not yours. It is the product of someone else.

To claim the right to dispose of the product of another regardless of his consent is the claim to the right to slavery.

If it ain't yours, then ask permission to use it or leave it the frak alone. It's that simple.

Syl said...

Alex said: "I call bullshit on that. Show me a single example of a musical artist who quit because they were being ripped off by the internet. "

I personally know several digital artists who have quit because of being ripped off. You're a consumer, not a producer, of art and obviously don't see outside your own bubble.

jr565 said...

Tom Degisel wrote:
Programmers, whose work is "protected" by copyright and patents, very often find the protection more trouble than it is worth. That is my professional experience, which equals the weight of yours.

You are writing code t create a product that will then be sold and are getting paid to do so. Companies aren't paying you money so that others can then get that product for free. If they can't earn profits on the goods they spent the money (paying you for example) to put out, then on what grounds are you earning a paycheck? You're basically saying that the products they design should be freely distributed despite the fact that they put much time and effort into the creation of said product, but that you should get paid for your work. If you want someone's product then pay them for it (or abide by their terms. If they decide to give it away for free THEN download it).
Making a record is not cost free. You seem to think that producers should pay the cost for your services, but that you shouldn't have to pay for them, apparently.

Tea Party at Perrysburg said...

Eh. Not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, you have the Righthaven creeps, the corporate thugs who can't seem to understand the world has changed digitally.

Then you've got kids who absolutely do NOT see any difference between their own video and professional video. Even the greatest kids simply do not perceive copyright theft as a crime.

The truth is that the law has not caught up with the technology, just as the law has not adjusted to the practice of sexting among teenagers. They can prosecute all they want for now but they have to realize that

jr565 said...

Remember the show The Shield? How much did that show cost to produce? They had to pay for production, for actors, for screen writers, for locations. Millions of dollars to put out a product (a very good one, I might say). Are they doing this purelyl out of a sense of charity? No, they hope to recoup their losses and earn a profit. how do they do so? By advertising? and by sales of DVD's later on.
At one point in the last season due to the schedule of putting out their show, the last few episodes were actually available on bittorrent before they were even broadcast in America. That is just wrong on so many levels.
This argument is even worse coming from "conservatives" who are arguing about how its wrong for govt to redistribute wealth from people who actulaly earn it to people who don't.

Jason said...

Ah, these aren't real conservatives. They're collectivists by another name.

WV: bromp.

I'm not making a joke out of it. I just think it's a cool word.

Celebrim said...

"Why? Who do you think owns the rights?"

In almost all cases, someone other than the one performing the song. The vast majority of live music performers perform covers of other peoples work, and they generally do so in my experience without paying for it and in small venues like coffee shops, churches, bars, restaurants, parks, and so forth that don't pay your ASCAP license - which in any event don't make record of whose work is performed much less covers non-members - for live performances much less for playing recorded works.

In short, it isn't just "the kids these days", but very likely a good portion of the live performers whose loss you rue who were violating the letter of the system you believe exists. Sure, I've been to venues with large and regular incomes who probably pay those things, and I've heard performs at every level of acclaim or lack there of perform their own works, but that's not the normal way things work.

"Nope. Indeed, quite the opposite. Bands have historically broken even on tour operational expenses but profited on record sales. The relationship seems to be reversing in recent years, though."

Your quoting only the relatively recent era of the music industry. Before recording technology became ubiquitous, live music was more important than it is now. Before recordings, every bar and restuarant that wanted music had to pay a live performer. Now, its a relative rarity, and going to see a performer live is a special occassion. If you want to complain how copying recordings is driving small time niche live performers out of work, then blame the recording industry as is proper. You are yearning for a time when even the means of producing sound from a recording was relative rare and expensive, and when much of the cost of acquiring a recording went into paying for the physical medium. That era isn't coming back.

"Shorter version: From each according to his abilities, to each according to he needs. Very nice."

That's the kind of thing that makes it very hard for me to take you seriously.

I don't copy or download music. Not only do I think it theft, but I think it too much effort and unnecessary. I don't steal video games either. Steam provides them at a service that is more desirable than 'free' games would be. Likewise, Pandora provides my music, along with the occasional album - though frankly buying albums seems like a waste of money and effort as well.

jr565 said...

Crack Emcee wrote:
But it's digital, so nothing was ever "taken" or "stolen." The original is still intact, and in your possession, undamaged in any way

But it was taken. There's content and then there's profit from distribution. You are taking the profit from distribution and uttercutting the legitimate sale of the product, which is actually the financial recoupment of the company producing the work, as well as the profit it would have gotten were the product to be sold the way they had intended.
You think it's free because it doesn't cost YOU anything to copy it. But it costs producers money when you copy it. IMagine if it costs a million dollars to put out a record. And imagine if a company has to SELL a hundred thousand copies to earn their money back. And imagine if the first ten thousand copies are sold to fans, and then the other 90,000 copies are downloaded by people who would otherwise have bought the product. How are your actions not costing them money? They might have 90,000 copies of albums sitting in a warehouse somewhere that they didn't sell because you don't have to buy their product to get the benefit of their work.

Tom DeGisi said...

jr586,

You don't know my business.

> You are writing code t create a product that will then be sold and are getting paid to do so.

No, I'm not. Most programmers write code that will be used one place.

The place they work.

Copyright helps us ... very minimally at best, and that ignores the costs.

There has been plenty written on the subject. See free and open source software.

jr586 and Jason,

Please don't assume I have made up my mind on I.P. I am persuaded that it inhibits innovation as much or more than it enables it. I am not persuaded that it's removal will be the panacea that FOSS advocates claim.

Yours,
Tom

jr565 said...

Celebrim mentioned Pandora.
At Pandora we believe strongly that artists and songwriters deserve to be compensated whenever their music is performed.

We pay licensing fees to SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for all music that is played on Pandora. We pay royalties for every single song we play, each time any of our listeners hears it. These payments ultimately go to the performing artists, songwriters, and record labels who performed, wrote and produced that music.
Do those downloading these files pay artists royalties? Not sure how Pandora makes money, but if they are paying artists money then they are behaving honorably. Should anotehr company, not Pandora simply play the same songs and not pay artists? How is that not theft, both of artists, but also of pandora who is wasting money paying artists, with the hope that they'll recoup that money elsewhere.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Tom wrote:
No, I'm not. Most programmers write code that will be used one place.

The place they work.

There has been plenty written on the subject. See free and open source software.



Things like Linux use copyrights. But even in the case of open source software or software only used in the work place, that is determined by the distributor or the creator, not the user or customer. Companies can certainly dictate fair use of their software, and if giving the software away is profitable to them, then they should do it. But that's different than someone outside the company determining that a paid application should be freeware.

yashu said...

SOPA is a disgrace.

But I'm ambivalent about the rest of the issues being argued about here. I take Crack's & Celebrim's & others' points about an irrevocably transformed historical & technological reality, about the historicity (as opposed to natural-ness) of copyright as a social construct, and that artists now must-- like it or not, for good and ill-- find a way to adapt or die. rhhardin's & Palladian's & 7M's critique of the copyright = property construct (as presently constituted) being one that stifles creativity, innovation, & freedom, is compelling.

But I also share Jason's unease. Agree that Yoko Ono makes for an easy scapegoat. And I wouldn't scoff at his bringing up the OWS analogy to characterize some of the anti-copyright attitudes expressed here.

For example, here's a quote from Francis Ford Coppola, from an interview at http://the99percent.com/articles/6973/Francis-Ford-Coppola-On-Risk-Money-Craft-Collaboration :

"We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it."

Jason said...

The vast majority of live music performers perform covers of other peoples work, and they generally do so in my experience without paying for it

They don't have to. As I've already established, the venue pays the licensing fee, not the artists.

and in small venues like coffee shops, churches, bars, restaurants, parks, and so forth that don't pay your ASCAP license

They don't pay because ASCAP exempts venues below a certain size - as is their right.

ASCAP generally exempts music used in worship services. Coffee shops are generally too small to worry about. Bars and restaraunts-it depends on things like size, number of TV sets, etc.

Artists are free to set the terms of their licensing, via their representatives like BMI and ASCAP. You are not free to set them by fiat or decree because you think you are entitled to the fruits of the labor of others.

Parks, I believe, generally have to pay licensing, via the municipalities. Certainly private parks have to, because they're a venue like any other.

which in any event don't make record of whose work is performed much less covers non-members - for live performances much less for playing recorded works.

Not your business. Even if they don't, that doesn't increase your claim on other peoples' property rights, any more than I have more of a right to steal your car if you don't change the oil.

Historically, they've assigned royalties by sampling. However, music services like Muzak (which has been around forever and has paid royalties forever), Pandora and other streaming services are, indeed, tracking what gets played and assigning royalties accordingly. Technology is making it possible to move beyond sampling major market radio stations.

very likely a good portion of the live performers whose loss you rue who were violating the letter of the system you believe exists.

False. As I've established, the performers are not under an obligation to pay licensing or royalties. They violated nothing.
The system I believe exists is actually the system which DOES exist. See U.S.C. Ch.3, Ch. 17.

It may be antiquated, and you can quibble about whether it is the most efficient of all possible systems. But the system is there, and long established. It baffles me why you attempt to deny it.

You are yearning for a time when even the means of producing sound from a recording was relative rare and expensive, and when much of the cost of acquiring a recording went into paying for the physical medium. That era isn't coming back.

There is nothing in that passage whatsoever that grants you the right to steal the work of others.

yashu said...

By the way, found that Coppola quote in the comments to this post at a design blog. The topic is the phenomenon of "image aggregators"-- e.g. the innumerable Tumblrs (belonging to those "young people without ideological baggage") that post copied images, only images, without any text or context or attribution of any kind, as if that act of appropriation & juxtaposition-- so-called "curating"-- were in itself an "aesthetic" act. So the topic isn't the legal issue of copyright so much as the ethical, cultural, aesthetic issues involved in this phenomenon of image deracination, appropriation & dissemination.

jr565 said...

Francis Ford Coppolla wrote:
But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?



Said by someone who already made a fortune in the movie business. What a hypocrite. Same as John Lennon living off of unimaginable Beatles royalties imagining no posessions.
Considering how much movies cost to produce, why is he presuming that they should be free. Movie studios should just shell out millions of dollars, for nothing?

Hey Francis, who says Wine makers have to make money either?
Becasue as we enter into a new age, maybe wine will be free. Jackass.

rcommal said...

That said, I have no problem with awarding monopolies of use to inventors for a few years. Three, maybe. Or five

and

That just isn't going to be long enough to recoup the cost of acquiring a patent, and is shorter than many take to get such.

Assuming there should be a patents at all, I agree that 3-5 years would be too short, if only due to the patent process. Earlier this year, we got notification that a patent had been granted** for something my husband led a team to develop for a major U.S. corporation (he's named in it, though it belongs solely to the corp.). It took about 6-7 years for that patent to come through--and this was with the resources of a major U.S corp!! Imagine the situation of a "little guy" or "little-guy business"!

**Two others are still pending; the process drags on, and, again this is with the resources of a major U.S. corp.

rcommal said...

Ironically, my husband thinks way too many things are eligible for patent and that some things ought not be eligible at all--including the category of things into which the approved patent and pending ones fall.

But that wasn't the point of my comment.

jr565 said...

To continue with the Francis Ford Coppolla pablum he asks:

But who said art has to cost money? As someone who makes movies that has to be one of the dumbest utterances ever. This is the guy who made The Godfather? Imagine all the shenanigans making Apocalypse Now, and then imagine if at the end of the day there was no profit incentive. I can just imagine the pitch. "I want to spend a couple of millions of dollars, and we're going to fly Marlon Brando into the jungle to utter a few lines. And then I'm going to spend a few months having a nervous breakdown on your money. Oh, and we'll be giving the movie away for free. Movie studios will produce this, why again? And then of course, the directors cut will have to be produced, again for no profit? Simply because art must be free. Maybe if art was free to produce, then art could be free to consume. Remove the profit motive and the movie INDUSTRY would cease to be. It's called show business for a reason. I've literally lost all respect for Coppola. He must have uttered this after making Godfather 3.
sAnd therefore, who says artists have to make money? Those are called bombs Francis. And after making a few of those, an artist wont make money and will instead make their money waiting tables.

Kirk Parker said...

Jason,

"You guys are awfully free with other peoples' money. "

And you, in turn, are pretty damn ham-handed with your government-supplied monopoly.

Please let us know when you have an actual argument to put forward, unstead of just bluster, so we can start listening again.

Kirk Parker said...

Bruce, rcommal,

Wouldn't the lengthy-patent-process problem be solved by having the patent run X years from the time the patent was granted?

Kirk Parker said...

Paul,

Why don't you try rewriting your 4:36pm without using language that assumes the point you're trying to prove? Then, if having done so you feel you still have a coherent argument, please post that version--I'd far rather read that one, as it would be a much stronger argument in favor of your position.

Jason said...

Kirk...

1. Citing the law itself is not bluster. Copyright is the law of the land, like it or not.

2. What "government-supplied monopoly," genius?

If I write a song, and I retain the royalty rights to them, that in no way prohibits you or anybody else from writing a competing song.

If you think royalties = monopoly, you've got bigger problems than trying to steal other peoples' property.

rmunn said...

While the argument so far has been mostly about music, with occasional digression into the original subject of photography, almost nobody has brought up books yet. Here's the opinion of Eric Flint, who's making quite a bit of money off of people downloading his books for free:

In short, rather than worrying about online piracy — much less tying ourselves and society into knots trying to shackle everything — it just makes more sense, from a commercial as well as principled point of view — to "steal from the stealers. "

Don't bother robbing me, twit. I will cheerfully put up the stuff for free myself. Because I am quite confident that any "losses" I sustain will be more than made up for by the expansion in the size of my audience.

For me to worry about piracy would be like a singer in a piano bar worrying that someone might be taping the performance in order to produce a pirate recording. Just like they did to Maria Callas!

Sheesh. Best thing that could happen to me. . .

That assumes, of course, that the writer in question is producing good books. "Good," at least, in the opinion of enough readers. That is not always true, of course. But, frankly, a mediocre writer really doesn't have to worry about piracy anyway.


--- End of quote ---

You can read the whole thing (as well as lots of legal free books) at the Baen Free Library's front page.

While you're there, check out some of Eric Flint's other writings on copyright, especially the case study demonstrating how sales of one of his books doubled after he made it available free online. You read that right -- he made twice as much money off that book after anyone could legally download & read it without paying him a cent. Weird, huh?

What does this prove? Well, nothing as far as the ethics of copying is concerned: illegal copying is still breaking the law. But it does go far to demonstrate that the "lost revenues" argument is often (not always, but often) false. In many cases, an artist will end up with more money if people can get access to his/her works for free, IF -- and this is a VERY big "if" -- if people perceive the price of obtaining a legitimate copy as reasonable.

In other words, students will fall all over themselves to download an illegal "free" copy of a $300 textbook, but they're much more likely to go buy a legitimate copy of a $6 science fiction novel, even if they could still get that same novel for free. (And in this example, the free copy of the novel is even legal!) What's the difference? Price, price, price.

Another example: Android apps. It's trivially easy to copy an .apk file if you have the slightest technical clue. Yet how many people would bother to pirate an app that costs 99 cents? Result: the Android store is still making money.

Sure, there are always some who won't pay for legitimate copies no matter what the price. But the best way to deal with copyright infringement these days, as Eric Flint and other Baen authors (and many Android app developers) have discovered, is to make your price low enough that it's not worth the effort to steal your stuff. Result: you sell a lot more copies, enough to make your profits higher than if you'd stayed at your higher price point (and had most of your potential sales disappear to Internet piracy).

In short: Internet piracy is never going away. But it's still possible to make money off your original content if you're willing to adapt to the unwritten rules of the new marketplace.

Celebrim said...

Jason: "There is nothing in that passage whatsoever that grants you the right to steal the work of others."

Your basic problem is you keep taking this noble high ground to argue against a position that most people don't have and which is largely a straw man. No one is discussing stealing it. I don't endorse music piracy.

Let's get down to the reality of the situation shall we? You're right, it's not my business, but it is yours, and that's what really lies behind your pretence of a principalled stance. I have no problem with people getting paid for ideas, but much of the machinery around the process of me transferring my money to someone who provides me with intangible goods is wholly invented, arbitrary, unnecessary, and filled with lots of middle men who are typically the real profiteers in the current system. It's not intellectual property that I foresee disappearing under the technological onslaught, but traditional publishing houses for things that its now in peoples capacity to publish and largely market themselves.

Consider this licensing scheme you keep point at. The reality of the scheme is not that its a high minded principled thing where by content producers get paid for their work according to its value on the market. The reality is that its a scheme by which the content producers are forced to sell away their rights to a company which then procedes use the legal process to scrap every penny it thinks it can get away with. You are most honest when you say that small venues "aren't worth going after". This isn't the means by which song writers get paid. It's the means by which gate keepers rip them off by standing between them and the end user, and the means by which lawyers get employed.

The real reason small venues are exempted by the licence? It's not because of the goodness in the hearts of the guys issuing the licence. It's that they know if they made the license onnerous enough, that people would ignore it anyway. And those that wouldn't ignore, would ignore the content. And society would probably think about chaning the copyright laws harder. Likewise, the real reason the venues are licenced rather than the performers, is that they are easier to sue, to track, and to bully. If you made the licencing too onnerous on the small users, then the licence would be ignored anyway, those that wouldn't ignore it wouldn't bother to perform it, and society would probably change the copyright law.

In short, it really is nothing more than rent seeking behavior and its not a model that necessarily benefits the artist. It made sense when the distribution of information was expensive and risky, but that's increasingly not the case. We've made huge investments in information infrastructure that makes tranfer of information cheap.

And that's the real problem as far as the old gate keepers with their old fashioned stables of artists who've sold thier rights away in exchange for the promise of royalties are afraid of.

The dangerous ideas out there is things like Minecraft, Sluggy Freelance, NPR, $0.99 self published ebooks, and so forth. The idea that people consuming intellectual property might just prefer to pay the person producing it scares the middle men in this racket to no end. Technology is killing the radio star, but its also quite possibly killing the recording house.

Celebrim said...

Theft of music is occurring because the existing licenses are more onerous than people are willing to pay. I don't deny legal copyright protection exists on paper. I do deny that it exists in practice anywhere that the costs of pursuing the 'theft' call into question whether a theft has occured in the first place. SOPA is a ill-fated attempt at lowering the costs of pursuit by the old moneyed interests that will ultimately not stop the problem. Fundamentally, I deny that sales would go up by much if theft were stopped. If the price were raised, demand would decrease and people would shift their preferences to something else. People aren't just listening to music anymore. They'd just go play an X-Box, or Skyrim on the PC, or put a movie on as background noise. Things like Skyrim and Call of Duty get pirated too you know, but it isn't causing video game revenue to slip year after year.

Why go to the effort to steal a game when I can buy it from Steam on sale? Why steal music when $3 a month to Pandora buys me a better radio station than I could have come up with myself and more music than I can listen to? Why pay a publishing house, when a favorite author can just put up a PayPal tag and accept donations or charge a $1 and get paid more for his work than if he'd got a contract with a publishing house and I'd bought a book in the store?

And that doesn't even really scratch the technological challenges to patent and copyright law represented by digital? Ever heard the story of .gif? Probably every programmer that's taken an ethics class has.

rmunn said...

Celebrim -

The dangerous ideas out there is things like Minecraft, Sluggy Freelance, NPR, $0.99 self published ebooks, and so forth. The idea that people consuming intellectual property might just prefer to pay the person producing it scares the middle men in this racket to no end. Technology is killing the radio star, but its also quite possibly killing the recording house.

Precisely the point I was trying to make. Those whose business model was built in the days when copying was expensive (physical records had to be produced, physical books had to be printed) aren't able to compete in a world of zero-cost copies, hence why they backed DMCA and are now backing SOPA. Those who've built a business model that takes zero-cost copies into account are thriving, and are usually vehemently protesting against SOPA because they see it for what it is -- an attempt by the buggy-whip manufacturers to shut down that upstart Henry Ford fellow.

jr565 said...

Celebrim wrote:

Let's get down to the reality of the situation shall we? You're right, it's not my business, but it is yours, and that's what really lies behind your pretence of a principalled stance. I have no problem with people getting paid for ideas, but much of the machinery around the process of me transferring my money to someone who provides me with intangible goods is wholly invented, arbitrary, unnecessary, and filled with lots of middle men who are typically the real profiteers in the current system.

even if that's all true, it's not really your choice as the customer to cut out the middle man because it's not convenient for you. Even those middle men signed contracts to get access to the machinery and so have skin in the game concerning the sale of the product. What do you bring to the table other then sabotage if you are stealing g profits from tight under their noses? It's like someone stealing cable in the building. You am be able to do it, but don't kid yourself that it's anything but thievery. And the cable comapnies may be inefficient and overpriced, but if you don't like ow thy do business, don't buy cable!

Consider this licensing scheme you keep point at. The reality of the scheme is not that its a high minded principled thing where by content producers get paid for their work according to its value on the market. The reality is that its a scheme by which the content producers are forced to sell away their rights to a company which then procedes use the legal process to scrap every penny it thinks it can get away with. so what if companies scrap every companies it can get away with? Why should they be limited to a set amount of money for their goods. They may instead spend millions on a product that simply doesn't sell and puts them out of business. If they're going to suffer the penalty, why shouldn't they also suffer the reward the few times they find gold.and if money goes to lawyers and middlemen, well it's kind of expensive getting product to market. Costs borne by the companies putting out the work.

jr565 said...

Rmunn wrote:
Those who've built a business model that takes zero-cost copies into account are thriving, and are usually vehemently protesting against SOPA because they see it for what it is -- an attempt by the buggy-whip manufacturers to shut down that upstart Henry Ford fellow.

crap.
All the major labels have signed deals with companies like apple and amazon to distribute music digitally. But this is music distributed according to the artist and labels terms, and they are getting paid for their work. Many artists can also decide to skip the middle man and sell their music on their own. No one is disputing that! The point tough is IT'S THEIR WORK to distribute as they see fit.
People making copies of hat same work, which they didn't write or produce and putting them up on a bit torrent site, are not recommending an artist in any way. And what business model are people hosting files or downloading engaging in? Henry ford actually made cars. What product are those downloaded making?

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Rmunn mentioned baen books. Now it may be true that it's a good business model and opens artists to more exposure, but not really germane considering Baen still respects copyright. Authors put up their work voluntarily. And its for books that Baen would otherwise publish. Baen's free library, for example is not going to have free copies of Harry potter. Unless Rowling decided to give it out free on Baen's site. Baen and his writers have every right to do this since it's their content.

Kirk Parker said...

Jason,

"What 'government-supplied monopoly,' genius?"

Article 1, Section 8... you should really try reading it sometime, there's a lot of good stuff in there.

Celebrim said...

"even if that's all true, it's not really your choice as the customer to cut out the middle man because it's not convenient for you."

Who said it was? Like I said, I can't even be bothered to steal music, because besides the fact that I think it is theft, free is usually too high a cost to pay.

I pay for Pandora less for the Music than the information they provide that helps me find new music.

Heck, I would imagine that most thieves now days don't even listen to most of the stuff that they steal. They are just doing it because they can, but it should not be inferred that the guy who stole 1000 tunes would have bought 1000 tunes if it was harder to steal. Chances are, he's also not willing to pay much more than free and if he had to, he'd go somewhere else (legally or illegally in his case).

I mean, is the best you can respond with this broken record of, "Well, yeah, but its theft." No duh, Sherlock. I've never disputed that. But its also irrelevant. I haven't even touched the problem of how difficult it is to define fair use in a digital setting or whether existing copyright law is adequate. I'm just talking about surviving as a professional content provider in an age where information practically distributes itself.

See, the problem here is there is a lot of whining in some corners about how this is destroying their profits. But its not the company with a DVD press in China or Egypt that's turning out 100,000 copies of a CD or DVD a year that they are going after. No, it's "them kids these days" that they focus their legislation on, but its bullcrap. It's like Jason arguing about royalties license for venues while conceding that the license exempts the most common infringements. Why? Not because of generousity. Not because the exempted cases are less or more infringements on the artists rights. Not even because the rights holders are conceding what society concedes, that the exempted cases are reasonable and fair use in the circumstances, but solely because they are careful only to go after the groups they can actually bully some money out of. The 'kids' with emule or bit torrent aren't the reason their revenues are drying up, nor are they even the more eggregious offenders. They are just easy targets, and ultimately its not the artists that will profit or recieve the money. For all the high minded talk, it's not the artists that the people passing SOPA are trying to protect.

Jason said...

Article 1, Section 8...

Total red herring.

You said there was a government monopoly. I get royalties from the sale of a song. Fine.

Show me the monopoly.

Show me how the fact that I continue to get sales from a song prohibits you from writing a new song.

Go ahead.

Jason said...

Article 1, Section 8...

Total red herring.

You said there was a government monopoly. I get royalties from the sale of a song. Fine.

Show me the monopoly.

Show me how the fact that I continue to get sales from a song prohibits you from writing a new song.

Go ahead.

Jason said...

It's like Jason arguing about royalties license for venues while conceding that the license exempts the most common infringements.

Do you own the license? If not, then what business is it of yours who they grant exemptions to? You want to do it another way, you go create something and license that the way you see fit.

The fact that I grant Jim a break does not give Bob a right to steal.

Do you also shoplift at Safeway because they donate food to a homeless shelter, or decided not to prosecute a five year old who grabbed some candy without paying?

rmunn said...

jr565 -

And what business model are people hosting files or downloading engaging in? Henry ford actually made cars. What product are those downloaded making?

None whatsoever. They're not the ones I was talking about with the Henry Ford analogy. The new Henry Fords are the artists who are selling their music on Amazon, or the Baen authors who are voluntarily putting some of their books up for free, and pricing the rest of the books at low price points because they know they're competing with free copies of their own stuff. Illegal free copies, yes -- but given just how many people these days are willing to break copyright laws, it's only pragmatic to set up your pricing structure around that fact.

Rmunn mentioned baen books. Now it may be true that it's a good business model and opens artists to more exposure, but not really germane considering Baen still respects copyright.

But the Baen Free Library is germane to the point I was making, which is that there's an economic side to the whole issue, which people like Jason are ignoring as they argue only the legal/ethical side. Yes, Baen respects copyright with their library. Does that make the books in the library any less free? It's clearly legally and ethically different from a site where you could download illegal copies of Harry Potter -- but how is it economically different?

Ritchie The Riveter said...

Jason, dude, if you can figure a way to do that, you are going to get a Nobel prize. You are going to be richer than Bill Gates could ever dream. Statues will be built for you. Holidays will be named for you. You will be the brightest star of history for a thousand years.

That is, until someone copies his apple digitizer, puts a mere fraction of the money Jason had to spend on its development into marketing instead, and ends up with Jason's customers.

Why does Jason have any incentive to go through the effort to develop this world-changing innovation, if someone else is going to end up taking his profits from him?

Kirk Parker said...

Jason,

To paraphrase a certain famous Hindu: "First they fight you, then they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then you lose."

Apparently your mind is so tightly wrapped up in your own arguments that you can't understand anyone elses? I didn't say "government monopoly", I said "government-supplied". Would it help if I revised that to "government-granted" or "government-secured"? The latter is the actual wording used in A1S8: "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Or maybe you don't understand that "monopoly" and "exclusive right" are essentially synonymous in this context?

Tom DeGisi said...

Jason,

> Apparently your mind is so tightly wrapped up in your own arguments that you can't understand anyone elses?

We aren't being cryptic, dude. Your experience is valuable to this conversation. I know you want to fail around in righteous indignation, but people seem so much more righteous when they aren't making obvious mistakes. Are you sure you wouldn't rather dial it back and have the kind of informed conversation you are well suited to have?

Yours,
Tom

Jason said...

Kirk,

Again, show me where my retaining residual rights to my song prevents you from writing a song of your own.

If you can't show me that, you know what to do with your "monopoly" bullshit.

Kirk Parker said...

Hmmm, now that you mention it, I do feel a song coming on. I think I'll call it "The Ballad of Jason the Rent-Seeker".

rmunn said...

Jason,

When you say, "Again, show me where my retaining residual rights to my song prevents you from writing a song of your own," you are continuing to argue against a position that nobody is taking. Nobody is saying that "monopoly" in this context means "monopoly over songwriting." Kirk is saying that you have a monopoly on the distribution rights of your own song, not music in general, and he has been consistent in claiming that from the start. Everyone else can see that; why can't you?

Or are you so much in love with knocking down straw men that you don't want to talk about positions that other people actually hold?

rcommal said...

Jason: Threepenny Opera.

Jason said...

Kirk is saying that you have a monopoly on the distribution rights of your own song

Bingo.

So what's the fucking problem?

Kirk Parker said...

Jason,

The problem is you seem interested in denying that this monopoly is something granted by the government. The language of the Constitution itself clearly indicates that, as do the details of the USC. And even though current law extends a shockingly-excessive (in my view) length of term for copyrights, no reasonable observer denies that when that term is up, the work enters the public domain and there's absolutely nothing the copyright holder can to at that point to prevent this from happening.

rmunn said...

... no reasonable observer denies that when that term is up, the work enters the public domain and there's absolutely nothing the copyright holder can to at that point to prevent this from happening.

Except if you're the Walt Disney Company and the work that's about to enter the public domain is the introduction of your most iconic character ever, Mickey Mouse. In which case there is something you can do: buy yourself a few members of Congress and get the Mickey Mouse Protection Act -- occasionally referred to as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 -- passed into Law. VoilĂ : you've prevented your I.P. from entering the public domain.

IMNSHO -- "in my not-so-humble opinion" -- copyright should last for 20 years from the moment the work is first published, period. No renewals, no gimmicks. Twenty years to enjoy the royalties and profits from your work, then the work passes into the public domain. Nobody should get to hold classic works "hostage" by saying "Oh, Snow White is only available for a limited time before it goes back into the Disney vault, so buy your overpriced collector's edition now while it's still available!" This is perfectly legal under existing law, but I find it ethically abhorrent. After a certain period of time -- long enough for the original author(s) to enjoy the royalties from their work, which is why I propose twenty years -- classic works should be available for everyone to enjoy and/or build upon.

Don't get me wrong about Disney: they have made some terrific movies (Emperor's New Groove was sheer genius!); I just hate the way they milk their classics for every penny they can squeeze out of them. If our copyright law was sane, Snow White would have passed into the public domain long ago, and Disney would be forced to continue to create more good movies instead of coasting on work produced between 20 and 50 years ago. You'll notice that pretty much every good Disney movie that's come out recently (with a few rare, shining exceptions like The Emperor's New Groove) was actually made by Pixar. There's a good reason for that, and it boils down to the structure of current copyright law.

But enough ranting on a three-day-old comment thread; time for me to move on.

Kirk Parker said...

rmunn,

You had me up to Emporer's New Groove.... gack, barf!