Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Copyright Ramblings

"The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"
United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Over the past eighteen months or so, I've made several YouTube videos on the subject of copyright: copyright criminals, copyright bozos, and the death of fair use.

My position has shifted slightly over this time, from just trying to explain the law, and why it's wrong to simply re-post somebody else's creative work and then claim "fair use" to focusing on the abuse by copyright owners that threaten our common culture. I've shifted from trying to correct the pseudo-libertarian viewpoint that "information wants to be free" to a growing anger at the attacks on fair use.

Certainly, I support copyright. While it's not a major part of my income by any stretch, I do get book royalties monthly and would be upset if somebody else started selling my books. But on the other hand, when I get a call asking if a certain example in the book may be used in a larger collection, I'm honored to allow that.

The constitution put in the power to make laws regarding copyright and patents to encourage "science and the useful arts" not just to make authors and inventors rich, but to enrich the public commons. These protections were for the creators, not their publishers, and only to be for a limited time before ownership would pass to all humanity.

That Warner Bros still owns (and jealously protects) the Happy Birthday Song nearly 100 years after the author's death (and really, all she did was adapt an existing folk song), to me, signals the death of the public commons. That the State of Oregon would prosecute public interest web sites that post the law is simply beyond absurd.

Yes, I still get pissed off at the teenagers who post an episode of The Simpsons and then claim it's fair use. But they just don't know any better. They can be educated, and controlled. The entire concept of fair use should not be discredited and discarded because of their stupidity.

But when high paid corporate lawyers, who do know exactly what their doing, try to reshape the law in way that goes against both common accepted use and the long-term public interest, I get angry.

Here's a couple of good links for you:
And here are a few of my videos on the subject from November of 2006 to now:

For more blog postings about copyright, click here.

(and thanks to B.K. for inspiring yet another blog post)

1 comment:

  1. Copyright owners have the right to reproduce works. And they also the right to NOT reproduce works. I don't like the idea of information wanting to be free (not merely because it personifies information in a way that amuses me). The owner of the work should choose whether it be 'free' or not. I'm sure lots of people have made things they hope will never see the light of day. There is just an assumption that unless the RIAA knocks your door, you can get away with anything on the internet.

    I become extraordinarily frustrated with YouTubers, for example, who are outraged when their original video is reproduced elsewhere.. but who are even outraged when their video gets pulled for infringing on the rights of others. You can't have it both ways, people. Sheesh.

    (end rant)


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