Everyone sues everyone else

What a mess the copyright law has created. Lawsuits left and right today. JBQ argues that the mess is created by the people’s inability to follow the law and not infringe on copyrights, while others (like myself) would claim that the copyright law is presently too restrictive for the consumer and therefore it leaves them no alternative but to infringe.

This is “popular art” we are talking about. It can’t be “popular” without more people enjoying it or using it. If everyone was to pay a $1.99 fee to see Britney Spears on the MTV VMAs last night instead of just tuning to a video sharing site (YouTube already removed 5 such videos on Viacom’s request today), Britney would never be who she is and her parent companies would not be either. In other words, it takes some *flexibility* on their part in order to maximize their revenue as entertainment companies. They should get their license money from other professionals, not Joe Viewer and video sharing sites with 10-minute upload limit.

That being said, I am against sharing full movies and shows. That’s real piracy and I don’t endorse it. It took a LOT of money and time to create these works. Just last night we were checking out the “Oblivion” PS3 game and its credits were ENDLESS. I couldn’t believe how many people worked on that game!

However, a 3-minute funny scene from a show, should not be chased away because in reality it will serve as advertisement. Neither chase users who post music video clips online (heck, the video clip was created in the ’80s just for advertisement purposes anyway). Neither chase them away when they use a commercial song as background music for their own home videos. That’s how “fair use” should be expanded to and become a consumer right (currently it is not). Not because I don’t want the copyright holder to exercise his/her rights, but because it was his/her decision to make business in a field (“entertainment”) that is so important in people’s lives today. Even if this is sad of course, because entertainment should not be THAT important. People should not CARE to post these Britney videos in the first place. But they do. And because that’s how this capitalistic materialistic society is built, corporations should be flexible to accommodate it, because they HELPED building it. ‘Cause if they don’t, THEY will lose. You can’t stop people’s will and wishes — no matter how unfair or stupid they are.

Conclusion: the copyright law must be reformed, especially in the “fair use” area. That’s what democracy means: what the majority of people want, and not necessarily what’s fair or right. Guess what, there are more “people” out there than Viacom/Universal/Warner/Sony execs put together. Bad luck for the execs.

7 Comments »

Brent wrote on September 10th, 2007 at 3:58 PM PST:

The creators of content should have every right to determine how (and at what price) that content is used (for a reasonable time). You may be correct that it would be financially good for artists to allow their art to be copied for free, or you may be wrong, but it doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong because it’s not your place to dictate the business model for someone else’s art just because “it’s good for them”.

If you don’t want a 3-minute funny scene chased away, then create your own 3-minute funny scene and, as the copyright holder of that content, give it away for free.


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Eugenia wrote on September 10th, 2007 at 4:12 PM PST:

You are missing the point of my blog post. My point is that the problem is social and political, not a matter of law or ethics. Of course and it would be unfair for the artist to have less control over his/her work (in fact I clearly state this). But I also state that the way society has evolved, it mandates such changes because the majority of people want them. You either have democracy, or you don’t. No matter how “unfair” this is for the artist.

Just like once upon a time women were the property of men. I am pretty sure men losing power over this was unthinkable and were not too happy either. But social changes dictated this “loss of freedom” for men, and the creation of a newfound freedom for women. Why? The evolution of the society mandated it. Just like the current evolution of the entertainment-based society and the internet mandates new changes on how “art” is distributed and how it can and should be used. No matter how XYZ artist WANTS it to be used. If he doesn’t like it, let him go find another job. Would that destroy “art”? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter if that’s what most people wanted. Let them bang their heads afterwards.

I think you are failing to see the bigger picture here, and how entertainment has become part of our lives, and hence, people want control over their lives (even if this means control over other people’s art). The problem is social and political IMO and it should be resolved in this manner.


Richard wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 5:03 AM PST:

In my opinion publishing is a two way relationship, and the creator of a piece having every right to determine how it is used is unfair in my opinion. Think about it, as a consumer you are actually investing time and dedication to actually watch that content, which should be honoured as well. Publishing comes at a price, and that price is that you actually cannot fully control the usage. If you want full control, don’t publish it. Can’t have the cake and eat it too.


Brent wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 1:38 PM PST:

Richard, the price of publishing is extremely small–publishing is merely the act of copying and we know the copy command is simple. Take Open Movie Editor as an example, I’m sure it takes close to zero effort for you to publish that. What does take time is the hours, days, and years you’ve put into writing the code, debugging, documenting, educating yourself, and so on.

You make a good argument for what I call FCE4AAA (Financial Code of Ethics for Adolescents of All Ages), which is a philosophy I, too, enjoyed until the government locked me up for printing counterfeit twenty dollar bills (like they have a copyright on that particular image or something).

Now that I’ve completed my years in jail, and so am older and have to feed myself and my children, your reasoning no longer makes any sense to me whatsoever.


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Eugenia wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 2:06 PM PST:

Brent, while I generally agree with you on most things, one of the reasons that license-breaking exists in the first place is because the consumers feel too restricted.

I do not pirate (at least not in the US), but you can be SURE that I WILL circumvent the DVD region lock when my family moves back to Europe. I will not let my 200+ legally-bought DVDs to rot just because some ASSHOLE in Hollywood decided that Americas and Europe are on different planets.

Sorry, but this is just unfair, and this example should be one of the things that the IP originator should not have the right to impose to the consumer. The IP originator did shell cash to create these works, but so I did by buying the media. We have spent over $4000 on these DVDs. I knew the license when I bought the DVDs, but I will still break that license because I simply find it too restrictive, too unfair.

Ripping DVDs for personal use (e.g. for your iPod) should be a consumer right too, OR, there should be a database where you register your DVD and you can download an iPod version for free (or at least, you pay only for the bandwidth usage). There is no fucking way I will buy the DVD *and* the iTunes version too, twice! No matter what the IP creator thinks of his “masterpiece”, nothing deserves to be paid twice. Although I understand that this specific issue is debatable, the DVD region lock, *IS NOT*.


Richard wrote on September 13th, 2007 at 1:51 AM PST:

I wasn’t talking about the “monetary” price of publishing. I was not talking about the price to produce a piece. I was talking about the implications you have to bear when publishing something.

And btw. Brent, I do not really get the point about how your FCE4AAA Rant relates to what I said, this piece seems a little childish to me, but well so is this whole “number” discussion, that I’d rather not be involved with.

So, About Publishing:
As I said, once published, you can hardly take it back, and you can’t “really” control the distribution, whether you like it or not.

IMHO this has a whole lot of implications, depending of course on what you have published. You could publish something anonymously, but then nobody knows it was you, and others might try to steal the credit. However if you publish without denial, people might hate you for what you wrote or did. People might approach you or avoid you, it could have an impact on your whole life. And you can only ever deny that you did or meant something in a certain way. You also open yourself to critizism and eventually humilation. Not a small price to pay IMHO.

And concerning this DVD ripping and paying thingis, I just do what I feel is necessary for my happiness, without hesitation.


Brent wrote on September 13th, 2007 at 7:25 AM PST:

I was talking “monetary”. Absolutely money. When anyone (except thieves) has bills to pay they publish something (be it software, entertainment, candy bars, hamburgers, etc…) and charge money. When they don’t need money, but only fame, they publish something and don’t charge money. I like it that way.

It’s true that trying to restrict distribution through technical means is a lost cause. I learned this when I was a teenage hacker (nearly 30 years ago), and felt great adolescent pride at breaking even the most difficult copy protection on games of the time, and distributing them to the world for free. (Sorry, to the people who made those games and whose revenue I took away—I was a kid and didn’t know any better.) Technical restrictions can always be hacked (the same issues have been faced since the creation of paper, printing presses, player pianos, and so on) and lead to the kinds of problems to paying consumers that Euguenia pointed out. So instead of technical restrictions I prefer the education approach: educate people, especially the young ones, in the hopes that instead of copying content they’ll either pay for it or, even better, go out and make content of their own (such as you’re doing with Open Movie Editor).


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