Nina Paley's Copyright Song

Discuss

125 Responses to “Nina Paley's Copyright Song”

  1. Derek Bledsoe says:

    Just chiming in here as the producer for boing boing video- I create things for a living- it is my livelihood. It is what pays for my rent.

    We openly encourage anyone to copy and redistribute our content. Believe it or not, it can be done!

  2. zuzu says:

    Copyright law needs reform but it still needs to be in place.

    There’s no deductive logical argument to support government-granted monopolies: including copyright, patents, and trademarks.

    “Stimulating” creativity is as ridiculous as the “economic stimulus”, because it ignores opportunity costs. There’s in fact no way to measure that so-called “intellectual property” does more harm than good, and the burden of proof is on those to defend why it should exist, not vice-versa.

    And honestly, if an artist doesn’t want you to use their work, you have no right to bully them into giving up their work for your personal enjoyment.

    They’re not “giving up” anything. You cannot possess an idea or set of information. It isn’t “yours” to control.

    All logical and economic arguments aside, I believe this is the fundamental emotional error. People have attachment to the works they create. They just feel like it’s theirs to control who and how it gets used.

    Perhaps this is a twist on the endowment effect.

    But the reality remains, it’s not that everyone is “entitled” to use “your” work; but that you’re not “entitled” to dictate how it’s used once you’ve published it. The genie’s out of the bottle and there’s nothing you can do about it, ala the Streisand effect.

    Never mind that the whole of the Internet wouldn’t work if people actually enforced the automatic copyright claims. Every time you view a website you’ve made a copy (*infringement!*), and every node along the way has also made copies (*infringement!*), and there’s another copy that’s been projected onto your retinas, and so on. Every email that you send is replicated hundreds of times on its way to its destination.

    Copyright infringement is de rigueur on the Internet.
    People used to tacitly understand that until the AOLers started immigrating online.

  3. Jack says:

    @#15 POSTED BY GABRIELM:
    I realize this is Cory’s blog, but he’s one of the very few—very, very, very, very few—people who have actually created a business model using this philosophy that works. He’s an exception; not the rule.

    And so people further understand where I am coming from: I think the catch-22 Nina is caught in is very unfair. The recordings are copyright free, but then use those “free” performances into your work and suddenly you’re subject to a claim on performance money? That is indeed bullshit. Especially in the case of a recording that is from the 1920s.

    So retain copyright, but amend the laws to make it fairer.

    But let’s not pretend that if things were different, she’d be selling this film and profiting from the same copyright issues she’s complaining of.

  4. zuzu says:

    One more thing before I leave this thread behind… The other big thing I get from what you say is that if an artist wants to preserve their income, they HAVE to institute invasive and egregious DRM, if it’s a digital work, or a similar copy restriction if it’s not. As long as nobody can freely and easily copy a work, it’s worth paying for. Food for thought…

    All DRM will be circumvented; it’s a losing battle of economic attrition to attempt implementing DRM.

    You think that people should adjust their business models to “reality”, based on your belief that people will actually pay anybody enough money to live on, let alone prosper, for the simple creation of any given work?

    Help me out with developing open-source software for high performance drug discovery sometime and tell me how “simple” that knowledge work is.

    But the value isn’t in “selling software as a product”, it’s in software development to do things people need.

    That’s a nice idea and all, but the world doesn’t work like that and if it did, there wouldn’t be any artists left who could support themselves through their art.

    Allow me to quote from Stephan Kinsella:

    “The reason that “free rider” is not an actual problem is that people adjust their expectations to fit reality. If the process is not viable without monopoly status, it will fail and something that does work will be erected in its place.”

    I often wonder how staples get made. I buy a box for a dollar or so and it sits in a desk drawer, at home, gradually being used over like a decade. So I wonder how anyone can make money at this. Then it occurs to me, there is a demand for staples; and suppliers will provide staples if they can make a profit at it. Given the demand, whatever sales price level is necessary for a profit, that’s what supppliers will tend to sell for. Whatever that level is, is hard to say–but it must not be too out of line with current prices, even if it’s not easy for me as a consumer to see how a profit could be made. It must be in there, somehow. If a profit could not be made at $1 a box, then they would be selling for $2 a box.

  5. Nina Paley says:

    The songs are cleared. I borrowed $50,000 to clear them. I am legally free to release the film commercially. I was by no means forced to release it under cc-share alike. The copyright issues with the song merely led me to question copyright, which ultimately led to my decision to free the film.

    “Use the unlimited resource to sell the limited resource.” The free online copies are increasing demand for purchasable, physical, limited DVDs. I am currently producing an “Artists’s Edition” DVD which I will sell on my web site.

    The film is free as in freedom, not free as in free beer. The content is free. The containers – DVDs, books, computers, merchandise – are not.

    Please view the interview that accompanies that song video:
    http://www.thirteen.org/sites/reel13/blog/nina-sings-the-copyright-song/445/

    And please see
    http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/
    and information on the store and creator endorsed mark.

    Free Markets are Free Culture too. Monopolies aren’t.

    Finally, here is my official position on copyright.

  6. Alessandro Cima says:

    #7, You quote Picasso with

    “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.
    - Pablo Picasso”

    But you don’t know what he meant by that, do you? You don’t know at all. You could read that quote for a week and not understand it.

    Picasso’s quote is about learning and making something that you have perceived truly your own. It has absolutely nothing to do with the argument about copyright.

    Quotes are very dangerous because the quoter is seldom up to the job.

  7. Derek Bledsoe says:

    @ JACK

    Just a thought, but aren’t the exceptions to the rule what breed evolution?

  8. Inkstain says:

    “There’s no deductive logical argument”

    Not that I have a horse in the copyright/fight issue, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least that you equate truth with deductive logic.

    Deductive logic is the exercise of pulling further truths from a single, unassailable first truth. And you’ve clearly got yours. But it’s not universally excepted to say the least.

  9. Jack says:

    Zuzu, as I—and others—have asked before, do you actually work in a field in which copyright plays a role in your livelihood?

    Also, your claims on Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates as a truly viable alternative to real sales/profits are still laughable since even people I know who have sites that get tons of traffic simply can’t live off of the measly fees paid by those services.

    Until giving your work for free online pays you more than a minimum wage job at any chain store, then your argument holds 100% no water.

    Copyright, patents, and trademarks are used by many average folks for valid reasons to protect their work and allows them to control what they create so they can make a living entertaining you and others. There are folks who have clearly abused the system, but it still is beneficial.

    Also, please can you admit that if there were no issues of claim for performance rights SIta Sings the Blues would be a copyrighted for profit release?

  10. zuzu says:

    So then you’ve never bought a book?

    You mean PDFs? :p

    I might invest in a dominant assurance contract for Cory to write a new book though, as long as it’s published freely as a PDF.

    Because even though I’ve downloaded all his books for free, I want something new from him.

    I’m not crediting you in any way on the site of course.

    Attribution is an orthogonal issue.

    But that’s because you already created the original and should be happy about it.

    Gee, I guess I’ll have to update my website with new information.

    Good luck copying, say, BoingBoing; because you can’t copy Cory, Mark, Xeni, David, et. al.

  11. Jack says:

    @#16 POSTED BY DEREK BLEDSOE:
    And you are making money off of sponsorships being placed next to said videos. So while technically you are giving it away, you’re selling it to a sponsor.

    How exactly then can Sita Sings the Blues profit from a “share and share alike” philosophy?

    All complaints Nina Paley has made about this situation have always included details on how she’s unable to sell or distribute this film.

    So honestly, I call bullshit on the fact that people realize that they can simply make money by sharing. This move on her part is clearly desperation. It’s not good and unpleasant but it’s motivation is based on the fact she has no other choice thanks to a catch-22 in the copyright law that is impeding her efforts to create her own copyrighted work that she was clearly hoping she would profit off of.

    So that’s why bringing this stuff up is flawed: In a perfect world Sita Sings the Blues would be a for-profit work released under the same exact copyright laws people are now damning.

    So could there be a focus on the specific aspect of the copyright law that screwed her over and not some blanket indictment on copyright in general? Or is that too reasonable?

  12. Alessandro Cima says:

    Derek #16,

    And it’s very nice of you to offer your content for free redistribution. It’s very cool. But it’s your choice. It’s the particular game you’re playing at the moment. Maybe you’re hoping for an offer from Warner Brothers eventually and would be very happy to work under typical copyright rules at that time. I make similar choices depending on what I happen to be doing. Sometimes I love it when people redistribute. Sometimes I choose differently for another project.

    Copyright is great when it’s not endless and not with DRM. When it’s reasonable. Creative Commons is great too. But each game has to be respected.

    There’s plenty of room for arguing about what makes for reasonable copyright laws. But to cast it out as needless would actually be very harmful to many creators of many things.

  13. gabrielm says:

    @Alessandro Cima
    “But you don’t know what he meant by that, do you? You don’t know at all. You could read that quote for a week and not understand it.”

    You sir, are an ass.

    And, you can quote me on that.

  14. zuzu says:

    But it’s not universally excepted to say the least.

    Slavery, witch burning, and women as chattel were also once popularly held beliefs, but that didn’t make them any more logically defensible.

    (To be clear, I think I’m advocating for greater skepticism rather than the cult of logical positivism. It’s not that there’s no place for subjective preference, but I’m opposed to arbitrary demands of “culture” thrust upon me; they must withstand critical analysis to earn my respect. Arguments from authority, populism, or tradition are unacceptable.)

  15. Alessandro Cima says:

    #21,

    You say, “Good luck copying, say, BoingBoing; because you can’t copy Cory, Mark, Xeni, David, et. al.”

    But I can copy anybody. Want to see? I’m a master forger. I’m silent in the night like Dracula. I climb walls upside down. That way, no one can kiss my ass.

    I hate it when people kiss my ass because it’s so horribly sensitive and I get a rash.

  16. gabrielm says:

    #17 posted by Jack
    Here is another exception: Monty Python

    Perhaps the exceptions are becoming less rare.

  17. Alessandro Cima says:

    #24,

    I am! I am an ass! You got it! I love that! ‘You sir, are an ass!’

    Can I put that on my web site? Seriously, can I re-post that on my site. It’s cool.

  18. Jack says:

    @#76 POSTED BY ZUZU

    Slavery, witch burning, and women as chattel were also once popularly held beliefs, but that didn’t make them any more logically defensible.

    Logically defensible and practical realities have no common ground.

    For example, can you provide a true economic model in which someone can simply work on a piece of art and give it away and then make a living?

  19. Jack says:

    #20 POSTED BY DEREK BLEDSOE , MARCH 18, 2009 12:51 PM

    Just a thought, but aren’t the exceptions to the rule what breed evolution?

    Vague, general statement that has no real basis in reality.

    Look, as much as I love fiercely independent music labels like Dischord Records it’s clear decades later the only folks who ever managed to pull off a true D.I.Y. lifestyle that they espouse are them themselves and nobody else.

    There is no revolution that has created a business model that can sustain musicians the same way they did. I love them, but face facts: They are an exception that found a way to do it.

    But the irony? With CD sales slumping they have issues bringing money in.

    So the obvious solution: A Fugazi reunion tour sponsored by Cheetos ala Boing Boing video being sponsored by Cheetos.

    Past that how about I ask you this: What the eff ever happened to tip jar links on sites for PayPal and such? I only see them on web developer sites where a programmer asks for donations to keep a project alive. But past that nothing. Could it be voluntarily asking people to pay for things doesn’t work? Because while I gladly tip artists and developers, I’m an exception. And I know that.

  20. mdh says:

    Allesandro – there is a difference between a copy and a caricature.

    But you clearly know that.

  21. zuzu says:

    So honestly, I call bullshit on the fact that people realize that they can simply make money by sharing.

    Yeah, Cory explicitly encouraging people to redistribute his books freely online has totally wrecked his writing career. Good thing he has this blogging gig or he’d be destitute.

    That or he said (paraphrasing) “You’d be a fool not to [share your material online].”

    Definitely one of those two.

  22. Takuan says:

    (whuffie)

  23. redrichie says:

    I think I still might be missing something with all this. All the talk opposing copyrighting alights on the fact that the web is built on making perfect copies and how “free” it is to get stuff on the web. All this may be true, but if you spend a year writing a book surely the major cost isn’t in the materials to get it “out there” but your time?

  24. zuzu says:

    Zuzu, as I—and others—have asked before, do you actually work in a field in which copyright plays a role in your livelihood?

    If you’re asking whether I work with “intangibles”, yes. e.g. distributed software development and biotechnology (both in silico and in vitro, although the latter crosses the line into “tangibles”, but it’s primarily the former).

    Am I rich? No, at least not yet. But I also have low overhead and a low-maintenance lifestyle. (I don’t use credit. I own a used car. I don’t have kids, or a partner I have to financially support.) I also rely on multiple revenue streams for “unemployment insurance”.

    I’m a fan of Free Agent Nation and Rise of the Creative Class.

    Also, your claims on Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates as a truly viable alternative to real sales/profits are still laughable since even people I know who have sites that get tons of traffic simply can’t live off of the measly fees paid by those services.

    Didn’t Danny Choo say that he bought a house with his Amazon Affiliate money?

    Until giving your work for free online pays you more than a minimum wage job at any chain store, then your argument holds 100% no water.

    Technically you’re invoking the genetic fallacy. The argument holds water even if it’s just something I heard in a dream, as long as it is logically sound.

    Keeping the code open-source, technically interactive programming, is a benefit not a cost.

    Again, the code itself is “dead”. It’s only the programmers who continually develop the code that are valuable. (i.e. human capital, that businesses have to competitively bid to retain.) Because no software project is ever finished, either.

    Copyright, patents, and trademarks are used by many average folks for valid reasons to protect their work and allows them to control what they create so they can make a living entertaining you and others.

    It’s not protection, it’s extortion. And as I’ve illustrated, the reasons are not valid at all. (Particularly patents, which not only violate my free speech rights but also my real property rights as well. …since copyrights and patents aren’t even contracts that I’ve agreed to; they’re just imposed upon me by the Federal government.)

    Also, please can you admit that if there were no issues of claim for performance rights SIta Sings the Blues would be a copyrighted for profit release?

    How would I admit that? Ask Nina Paley. But I strongly disagree with your claim that not invoking copyright is a second-tier fallback position, and that exercising copyright is always preferable.

  25. zuzu says:

    For example, can you provide a true economic model in which someone can simply work on a piece of art and give it away and then make a living?

    It’s called a commission.

  26. Jack says:

    @#26 POSTED BY GABRIELM:
    The Monty Python claim was debunked in that thread since the “free” videos they posted where connect to a major marketing campaign that happened at the same time the videos were posted.

    Do you need an explanation on how a 23,000 percent increase in DVD sales is simply an insane claim to begin with? Tell me it bumped 200% or 500% and that’s believable. 23,000 percent in sales for a DVD collection that has been released for years prior to this claim?

    Also do you even know what you are talking about in the case of this film? She can’t even sell ONE COPY and is giving the film away FOR FREE. Not comparable to short promo clips being given away by a major comedy entity that is then selling copyrighted DVD sets for a tidy profit.

  27. Jack says:

    @#30 POSTED BY ZUZU:
    Cory is clearly the only person who can pull that off and has pulled that off and has been a matter of discussion in writing communities for years.

    As far as the pulpit of giving things away and still making a profit, Cory is clearly the only person who has done that. And his “copyfight” posts seek to spread that concept to others. But the reality is it’s not worked for anyone else.

    Folks like Zuzu saying you can make a living just giving things away: Just do that and get back to us.

    Like I have said before, there are indeed some ridiculous aspects to copyright law but claiming you just have to toss it all away is insane.

  28. zuzu says:

    Past that how about I ask you this: What the eff ever happened to tip jar links on sites for PayPal and such? I only see them on web developer sites where a programmer asks for donations to keep a project alive. But past that nothing. Could it be voluntarily asking people to pay for things doesn’t work? Because while I gladly tip artists and developers, I’m an exception. And I know that.

    Google AdSense and Amazon Associates are more profitable alternatives?

    Again, if you’re a programmer, and someone (or a group of people) needs your software to exist to do whatever they’re going to do, and they’re willing to pay for it, there’s a multitude of ways for them to organize to compensate you for writing software that aren’t “selling copies”.

    Because, again, anyone with a computer can make an infinite number of copies. That part isn’t scarce or valuable.

    Writing the new software is what people are willing to pay for.

  29. DocTheopolis says:

    I can’t agree that you should be paid only once for the creation of the idea. Creating something is hard. Copying it is easy.

    @#9 – Trace, you completely devalue creation like that and nobody will bother to create. Creation of intellectual property isn’t limited to works of art (though why artists should be treated differently escapes me). Consider engineering and software development just as two examples.

    Say General Motors invests millions of dollars into building the perfect electric car using engineering nobody else thought of. Should the other car manufacturers be entitled to usurp that investment for their own profit? Why spend millions on R&D for green technology like wind and solar power? Why develop a new and better OS for your computer? What value would there even be in creating new things? Why not just wait for someone else to do something so you can snag it for free while still reaping the full benefits?

    I get that some of the laws surrounding copyright protection are somewhat draconian, but overall I side with the creator, who I believe DESERVE to be paid for their efforts and achievements.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ok. I’m a musician and composer. How do people here feel about the idea of exploitation? I have been very tough at keeping hold of all my rights, precisely so some dumb ass corporation doesn’t mess them up and do nothing with them. If people wanna use my stuff i generally let them. I want my stuff to be heard and i don’t have a problem with people copying it and so on.

    But i do have a problem with the whole ‘hey copyright is stupid and outdated’ things that are constantly being aired. Copyright is the only thing i can use and keep hold of to stop myself getting trampled all over by some big nasty corporation.

    I write a lot of music for TV shows. My music, i like to think, really helps the shows it is on. As a result the shows do well, the TV company flogs some advertising and i get some money via performance royalties. If the show does REALLY WELL and they keep repeating it i get more. That way some of the money the TV stations and producers are making off it (via advertising etc) actually goes back to one of the people who was involved in it’s creation rather than a bunch of anonymous shareholders.

    Let’s say we abolish this idea – which is a bit like the whole YouTube/PRS standoff in the UK. YouTube is basically the future of TV. However funky we may all think it is it is working on the same model – sell advertising through good content. They will make tons of money off other people’s work. If there was a way to recompense people for their creativity rather than it just getting fed back to a corporation shouldn’t that be applauded?

    Copyright has been used and abused terribly by a lot of very stupid and materialistic companies. I like writing wierd music. I don’t sell many CDs, don’t want to play live but i make a living as a lot of my stuff works well for TV and films etc.

    Should i give that up and do something else? Write music that only works if you can play it at a club or at a gig? Or carry on..

  31. Derek Bledsoe says:

    Vague general statement that has no real basis in reality

    All I’m hearing from you are excuses for why you think
    “most” people can’t profit from work that is freely shared. Your argument about exceptions holds no water because you simply can’t cite exceptions to a rule and still claim the rule to be valid.

    Did you ever make a mix tape for someone? No one was up in arms about freely sharing music with people then.

  32. Steve Schnier says:

    @#56 – Bemopolis – This is one of the big problems with arguing with 12 year-olds on the internet: You disagree with my POV and your inarticulate reaction is to tell me to “shut the fuck up”.

    As JACK #55 stated, Paley did clear the song rights, but not the performance rights. She didn’t do her due diligence. At least not to business standards.

    Her options are to either pay for the performance rights or re-do the song. What’s the problem?

    Oh wait. I’m a pro – you’re obviously not.

  33. arkizzle says:

    Actually, I think Sonny Bono’s exact words were..

    Very good, I LOLed.

    And Bemo@118, nicely clarified.

  34. Steve Schnier says:

    I can’t believe this. I’m arguing with a 12 year-old on the internet.

    Was I bad in a previous life?

  35. Jack says:

    Zuzu, which brings me back to the issue of commissions and how you expect anyone to live on them without control of their work.

    I know very well that commissioned work seems impressive when you look at the dollar figure of the moment, but are a pittance in the big picture.

    If you can make—let’s say—$6,000 per year off of commissioned work, that’s great! But $6,000 a year adds up to nothing when it comes to real world expenses.

    It’s not protection, it’s extortion.

    ??? You are not entitled to another person’s labor or work unless they give you permission to so. If I own the copyright to software I have written and I have given you the right to copy something I have created, then that is my choice and you need to respect it.

    If you simply take it without my permission, you are the thief and you know it. You have no inherent right to anything because you see it, feel it or touch it.

    On the other side people who abuse these laws are evil as well. If the original creator of a work has died and the copyright is now owned by some faceless entity that squeezes every dime out of that items use, that is evil.

    In between these two extremes there is a reasonable compromise you’re clearly not acknowledging.

    Didn’t Danny Choo say that he bought a house with his Amazon Affiliate money?

    Provide independent verification of such an outrageous claim and you might have a leg to stand on. If I use the $50 per month I get from Amazon Affiliate links then I too can make the claim I bought a house “with” the money I made from Amazon Affiliate links. $50 and $90,000 of other money.

    Technically you’re invoking the genetic fallacy.

    ??? You know what, believe it or not I truly believe if you have made a living by following your philosophy then more power to you. I truly do support anyone who chooses to push the limits of the system and create their own sustainable alternative economic world.

    The issue I have is that you’re shoving it down everyone else’s throats and imply anyone who doesn’t follow your philosophy to the letter is a part of the problem and needs to be left behind or chastised as if they are engaged in a Junior High School debate club match.

    And again, specific to Sita Sings the Blues can you at least acknowledge that there is a specific issue with copyright laws that is at the core of this mess and not the whole system? Or are you so invested in some fantasy version of economic control that you fail to see where anyone else is coming from?

  36. zuzu says:

    If I use the $50 per month I get from Amazon Affiliate links then I too can make the claim I bought a house “with” the money I made from Amazon Affiliate links. $50 and $90,000 of other money.

    Danny said,

    I mentioned at the beginning that I don’t go through this grief anymore because I bought my own house (and on Amazon associate earnings alone may I add ;-)

    The issue I have is that you’re shoving it down everyone else’s throats and imply anyone who doesn’t follow your philosophy to the letter is a part of the problem and needs to be left behind or chastised as if they are engaged in a Junior High School debate club match.

    It’s the utter nonsense of copyrights and patents that’s been forced on me that’s the problem.

    They’re not “property” or “protection”, they’re government-granted monopolies.

    which brings me back to the issue of commissions and how you expect anyone to live on them without control of their work.

    Um, you get more commissions for more new works. This isn’t difficult to figure out. You don’t need to rely on rent seeking (or “control” as you put it) to be economically viable.

    You are not entitled to another person’s labor or work unless they give you permission to so.

    Again, I’m not taking anything! I’m creating additional copies with my own capital (i.e. computer). Once I’ve gotten ahold of a single copy, I can do this, in reality. If you don’t like it, don’t publish. (Just as you wouldn’t publish your private emails.)

    If you simply take it without my permission, you are the thief and you know it.

    Again, copyright infringement isn’t theft!

    You have no inherent right to anything because you see it, feel it or touch it.

    I have no right to cause you denial of use; that’s totally unrelated to making additional copies.

  37. Bemopolis says:

    @#57: Well, if you notice, I explicitly resisted the urge to tell you to STFU. Although now that I see that you don’t know the difference between *performance* rights and *synch* rights that is a minor issue at this point.

    Oh but wait, you’re a pro.

  38. zuzu says:

    In between these two extremes there is a reasonable compromise you’re clearly not acknowledging.

    Because that’s like asking me to compromise between geocentrism and heliocentrism.

    “Well, evidence clearly aligns with heliocentrism, but the Church really relies on this whole ‘man at the center of creation’ thing to keep the tithes flowing in, so we can’t abandon that completely.” Bullshit.

  39. zuzu says:

    I can’t agree that you should be paid only once for the creation of the idea.

    Creating something is hard. Copying it is easy.

    Those two assertions don’t reconcile.

    You’re paid to do things that are hard (i.e. scarce).

    Because anyone can do something that’s easy, no one pays for it.

    So of course you’re only paid for the hard stuff.

  40. Takuan says:

    is infringement still infringement if I make the pie higher?

  41. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU – Yeah, Cory explicitly encouraging people to redistribute his books freely online has totally wrecked his writing career. Good thing he has this blogging gig or he’d be destitute.

    Presumably, Cory gives his work away for free to create a larger fan-base which will purchase his works for actual money.

    In any case, Cory owns the copyright to his works, so he is free to exploit them as he pleases.

    The essential fact about copyright is that it is the RIGHT to copy. Nina’s song is lovely, and while it’s semantically true that copying is not stealing, it’s still an intellectually dishonest argument. When someone or some entity owns the copyright on a work, they are not suppressing your creative rights by prohibiting you from copying that work; they are merely exerting their lawful right to dictate the terms upon which the work may be copied. To wit, just because it is easy to do a thing (i.e., to create a copy in the marvelous digital age we live in) does not mean that it should be free to do so.

    In addition, the argument is similarly dishonest that some are making to the effect that one does not have to pay the carpenter every time one sits on the chair. It is true you should not have to pay every time you sit on the chair, but you are not making a COPY of the chair. If the carpenter patents or otherwise copyrights the design of the chair, anyone who makes a copy of that chair with the intent to sell it is violating the carpenter’s copyright. For example, if IKEA were to discover a charming hand-made desk chair at an independent carpenter’s woodshop and then decide to mass-fabricate exact copies to sell across the world, you don’t believe that carpenter has the right to sue (provided he has patented the design)?

  42. seehearbrian says:

    KFOGEL: What makes you think this is not a for-profit release? Non-monopolistic does not mean non-profit. Nina Paley has never said she doesn’t intend to make a profit; she’s just not going to make a profit by preventing people from seeing her work.

    The logical gymnastics of this argument are deserving at the least of an Olympic gold medal*.

    (*which is trademarked, of course)

  43. Jack says:

    @#36 POSTED BY DEREK BLEDSOE:
    Are we talking about a mix-tape shared between two people at most or a filmmaker who can’t officially sell a movie due to a copyright Catch-22 and who is now in the awkward position of denouncing copyright because her attempts to create a copyrighted work she was planning to sell as such were scuttled.

    Derek, you, Cory and others clearly know that it’s a rare group of folks who can pull this off. Heck, in my Dischord example let’s add the following: The whole crew at that label had to resort to selling off memorabilia to simply live since CD sales waned because of file-sharing killing off that source of revenue.

    Now I was into tape sharing and even making mix CDs and I think file-sharing works for some, but the reason why I am mentioning Dischord is despite their success at a DIY effort they are still in financial straits thanks to the change in the market.

    @#34 POSTED BY ZUZU:

    Google AdSense and Amazon Associates are more profitable alternatives?

    You clearly have never used such services. Even the most popular blogs that refer tons of traffic to those affiliate programs only pull of $100 or $200 a month if they are lucky.

    I won’t even acknowledge your programming comments because they are so baseless they make no sense. I am a programmer. I make money using tools I make, and others make. Some are free. Some are not. Even if I paid every single person for every bit of code I used they still wouldn’t make a living off of it. In the world of the web it’s accepted that people give and take… And in the end things work out well… But people still copyright is an issue.

    You’re simply not entitled to something because you can just take it. By that logic, the neighborhood fruit-stand shouldn’t be charging me for apples that I can easilly grab for free.

    Ignore the cost of growing, harvesting and transporting. Not to mention the cost of storage and the cost for the shop owner to *GASP* live. I can see that apple. I can grab it. It’s mine. I’m entitled!!! Hooray!

    Ergo, if I work at Wal-Mart I can make at least $8 an hour. After 8 hours that’s $64 in one day. Multiply that by 30 days and thats $1,920 per month. Less taxes, and holidays, let’s say that comes out to a final monthly of $1,200.

    You know what? That $1,200 is far more than most small artists will EVER see from tips.

    If there were a valid model to make a living solely by giving things away there would be no discussion. We’d all quit our day jobs and be pure artists.

    But that is clearly not happening.

  44. zuzu says:

    The essential fact about copyright is that it is the RIGHT to copy.Technically it’s an “exclusive right” — a right to exclude others from copying.

    they are merely exerting their lawful right to dictate the terms upon which the work may be copied.

    Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. c.f. institutional slavery

    I consider the Piratbyrån (and The Pirate Bay) to be the modern equivalent of the underground railroad.

    For example, if IKEA were to discover a charming hand-made desk chair at an independent carpenter’s woodshop and then decide to mass-fabricate exact copies to sell across the world, you don’t believe that carpenter has the right to sue (provided he has patented the design)?

    No, I don’t. Because “copyright” is a bogus construct. However, if IKEA needed to invent another chair design, I’m sure they’d pay that carpenter to invent for them.

    In short, SeeHearBrian, you can’t logically defend copyright just by citing its existence.

  45. zuzu says:

    The logical gymnastics of this argument are deserving at the least of an Olympic gold medal

    Actually, it’s perfectly plain.

    The only part you may have difficulty with is that a monopoly is not required for a profitable business model.

    But that’s ok, apparently many people have great difficulty imagining making money without a government guarantee.

  46. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU – Because that’s like asking me to compromise between geocentrism and heliocentrism.

    “Well, evidence clearly aligns with heliocentrism, but the Church really relies on this whole ‘man at the center of creation’ thing to keep the tithes flowing in, so we can’t abandon that completely.” Bullshit.

    I respect, even admire, your idealism in this matter, but your arguments against copyright are hyperbolic and without persuasiveness. Earlier you compared copyright law to Jim Crow and miscegenation, which is flatly insulting. Now this “almost pregnant” argument defies my ability to withhold scorn. Listen, on some level you must acknowledge that society — all society, civilization itself — is built upon the concept of ownership, both individual and collective. The fact of ownership cannot be divorced from the economic realities of the modern marketplace, especially when art has been commoditized to the degree it has been. Sure, it would be great if we lived in a carefree utopia in which ideas and items were free and 100% communally subsidized. But that is not reality as it currently exists. And no amount of “but it shouldn’t be this way!!” proselytizing is going to change that. Or sensible people’s minds….

  47. zuzu says:

    Say General Motors invests millions of dollars into building the perfect electric car using engineering nobody else thought of. Should the other car manufacturers be entitled to usurp that investment for their own profit? Why spend millions on R&D for green technology like wind and solar power? Why develop a new and better OS for your computer? What value would there even be in creating new things? Why not just wait for someone else to do something so you can snag it for free while still reaping the full benefits?

    You’re invoking the Free Rider Problem.

    But, it’s not a problem. People still demand those innovations and improvements, and it’s up to your business to provide them sustainably without relying on government protectionism.

    For one thing, if your company is the first to make that next series of improvements over existing and well-understood technology, you’ll have a human capital advantage over your competitors.

    Your designers and engineers understand it better and can implement it faster and less costly than your competitors, and bring it to market first. That’s why you’ll profit more than the clones.

  48. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU : In short, SeeHearBrian, you can’t logically defend copyright just by citing its existence.

    You think copyright is a circular argument? You’ve just gone beyond merely delusional into certifiable territory.

    Are you an anarchist or what? Do you have a problem with all laws (e.g., bogus societal constructs) or just copyright?

  49. Steve Schnier says:

    Of course I know the difference between performance rights and synch rights. I deal with them every day.

    Run along. Your Mommy’s calling.

  50. zuzu says:

    SeeHearBrian,

    You’ve managed to completely miss the entire point of everything I’ve said in this thread.

    Yes, of course I believe in ownership and private property for real property — physical things which have the qualities of rivalry and excludability. Those qualities require property rights to settle disputes over their use by whom.

    But no, I don’t believe that “ownership” extends to ideas and sets of information.

    They’re two completely different things!!! The phrase “intellectual property” is just newspeak to conflate them.

    Cars, oil, water, corn, sugar, iron, computers, furniture, bicycles, houses, land, and so on. Those are all property.

    Music, pictures, video, text, patterns, sketches, numbers, databases, designs, typefaces, and so on. Those are not property. They don’t qualify.

    In fact, the latter derive from a completely unrelated legal framework than the former do.

    I swear, sometimes it seems like people are being thick on purpose. This really cannot be so difficult to fathom.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      zuzu,

      You’ve managed to completely miss the entire point of everything I’ve said in this thread.

      Given the frequency of that particular phenomenon, you might want to consider that the communication problem originates with the sender.

      The phrase “intellectual property” is just newspeak to conflate them.

      When you’ve accused your opponent of using circular logic, hauling out ‘newspeak’ is a bit ironic.

  51. Jack says:

    Zuzu, can you reveal how you financially support yourself? You seem to be giving out a lot of advice that is not based on reality of economics and the market.

  52. zuzu says:

    Are you an anarchist or what? Do you have a problem with all laws

    I have a problem with anyone initiating violence (i.e. murder, theft, or fraud) — whether it’s done by superpowers (who conveniently refer to mass-murder as “war”) or by petty thugs.

    c.f. Pirates and Emperors

    You think copyright is a circular argument? You’ve just gone beyond merely delusional into certifiable territory.

    The burden of proof rests on anyone who believes copyrights and patents should exist.

  53. Alessandro Cima says:

    #34

    “Writing the new software is what people are willing to pay for.”

    That’s a work for hire. Not everyone does work for hire. Not everyone is an employee.

    I would never want to suggest to an independent artist or software developer or any creator that he or she only expect to be paid for the initial work. I think everyone should be able to hope for making a million dollars when they make something. It is nearly impossible to do that without selling copies of what you make. I have no problem with rich people. Maybe they scare a lot of people for some reason, but I think it’s cool to get rich.

    And just because anyone with a computer can make infinite copies doesn’t mean copyright should go away. Hell, I can easily get a pistol and go rob a bank. That doesn’t mean laws forbidding it should be dropped.

  54. zuzu says:

    Given the frequency of that particular phenomenon, you might want to consider that the communication problem originates with the sender.

    I’m open to help. :)

    When you’ve accused your opponent of using circular logic, hauling out ‘newspeak’ is a bit ironic.

    Sorry, I don’t see the connection. Some kind of stretch to O’Brian saying that power isn’t a means but an end?

  55. zuzu says:

    You’re simply not entitled to something because you can just take it. By that logic, the neighborhood fruit-stand shouldn’t be charging me for apples that I can easilly grab for free.

    Theft is defined as denial of use.

    There’s no “taking” in any example of copying. Again, listen to the song.

    “Intellectual property” is a bogus concept; information is not anything like property. Property only exists because of rivalry and excludability. Information, being infinitely reproducible, has neither of those qualities. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.

    Ignore the cost of growing, harvesting and transporting. Not to mention the cost of storage and the cost for the shop owner to *GASP* live. I can see that apple. I can grab it. It’s mine. I’m entitled!!! Hooray!

    The business model is irrelevant to your customers. They’ll buy whoever has the best / lowest-price fruit. The onus is on you to make it sustainably profitable.

    I won’t even acknowledge your programming comments because they are so baseless they make no sense. I am a programmer. I make money using tools I make, and others make. Some are free. Some are not. Even if I paid every single person for every bit of code I used they still wouldn’t make a living off of it. In the world of the web it’s accepted that people give and take… And in the end things work out well… But people still copyright is an issue.

    I can’t make sense of what you’re saying. That you’re a programmer but can’t do it profitably no matter what?

    I assure you, it’s possible to earn a living being paid to develop open-source software because there are people and companies who need the functionality of that software to exist so they can do their business.

  56. Takuan says:

    so if the intent of copyright is to do good for the holder, can I invalidate any prosecution against me for violating said copyright if I can prove my actions made net benefit to the holder?

  57. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU: I swear, sometimes it seems like people are being thick on purpose. This really cannot be so difficult to fathom.

    I know it must be hard being a misunderstood genius, but here’s the thing: your position is not difficult to grokk, it’s merely difficult to swallow. Your definition of “real” is entirely subjective and self-justifying. Just because something is inchoate or formless does not mean it isn’t “real” in a certain sense. By that definition of “real,” our minds (which are a collection of intangible thoughts) and thus we ourselves are mere illusions. It’s a slippery slope and doesn’t conform to the reality of reality, as it were….

  58. Takuan says:

    (Zuzu: if you cultivated a feline avatar presence, people would hear you better.)

  59. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU: I have a problem with anyone initiating violence (i.e. murder, theft, or fraud) — whether it’s done by superpowers (who conveniently refer to mass-murder as “war”) or by petty thugs.

    The actual problem is that you’re conflating the “unjustness” of copyright law with actual violence. You’re diminishing the suffering of people who have been the victims of actual physical and psychological trauma by comparing their plight to the gosh-darn annoying fact of copyright restriction. That’s not only disingenuous, it’s insulting.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The actual problem is that you’re conflating the “unjustness” of copyright law with actual violence.

      Since you’re conflating intellectual property and real property, and Zuzu’s conflating police power with actual violence, can we call it a draw?

  60. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I’m open to help.

    There’s a point at which blockquotes and links become confusing rather than illustrative.

    Sorry, I don’t see the connection.

    ‘Newspeak’ is intrinsically circular because it means the same thing whether you employ it or critique it. It’s perfectly self-referential as an argument: What you say it means isn’t what it really means because it really means what I say it really means.

  61. zuzu says:

    I think everyone should be able to hope for making a million dollars when they make something. It is nearly impossible to do that without selling copies of what you make

    That’s called extortion.

    Maybe they scare a lot of people for some reason, but I think it’s cool to get rich.

    I find it comforting to be criticized both for “hating the rich” and “hating the poor” here on BoingBoing. :)

    And just because anyone with a computer can make infinite copies doesn’t mean copyright should go away.

    Actually, it does. Because computers are providing a reality-based benefit of reducing scarcity (i.e. increasing availability) through copying, while copyright is only a legal fiction (causing artificial scarcity).

  62. zuzu says:

    Just because something is inchoate or formless does not mean it isn’t “real” in a certain sense.

    *sigh*… not “not real”, but “not real property“.

    Information does not meet the criteria for why property rights exist. It’s that simple.

  63. seehearbrian says:

    TAKUAN: so if the intent of copyright is to do good for the holder, can I invalidate any prosecution against me for violating said copyright if I can prove my actions made net benefit to the holder?

    The intent of copyright is to give the copyright holder the sole right to make — or give permission to make — copies. That right may be transferrable or waived entirely, but that’s what it is. Perceived net benefit to the copyright holder is only an argument for reducing monetary damages in a court of law. That is, if you have a good attorney.

  64. DocTheopolis says:

    Sometimes I don’t understand all the arguments in favor of eliminating copy protection. Her song says if “I copy something there’s one for each of us!”, which sounds all sweet in a “let’s all share” kind of way, but what if that thing she’s copying is my livelihood?

    I mean when I buy music I think I should have the right to store and play it on any device I own, but making free copies for others deprives that artist of a sale, and therefore of profit they’ve rightfully earned.

    I realize I’m posting the question in a volatile place, but am I overlooking something in this argument?

  65. Trace says:

    @#9 – Trace, you completely devalue creation like that and nobody will bother to create. Creation of intellectual property isn’t limited to works of art (though why artists should be treated differently escapes me).

    What on earth makes you think I devalue creation? I work as a designer/curator in an art museum. I also freelance as a graphic designer, illustrator, and cartoonist. I have a MFA in fiction and a BA in studio art. My friends and peers are actors, musicians, writers.

    I also have an MFA in art history and let me clue you in on a little secret I learned at school: people made art for many thousands of years before there was copyright. Some of it was better than anything produced today. A lot of the best of it was shameless copying of other people’s work.

    My main concern in wishing to reform copyright law is the harm copyright is doing to art. Economic concerns are secondary to that, but I do think copyright as it exists now is not helping most artists at all.

    Consider engineering and software development just as two examples.

    Talk to any developer you want about what patents and copyright are doing to their business. It’s gotten to the place that new work is next to impossible for fear of infringement.

  66. Alessandro Cima says:

    #39,

    You say: “For one thing, if your company is the first to make that next series of improvements over existing and well-understood technology, you’ll have a human capital advantage over your competitors.

    Your designers and engineers understand it better and can implement it faster and less costly than your competitors, and bring it to market first. That’s why you’ll profit more than the clones.”

    But that’s not true. The first to market is often at a disadvantage and has to shoulder enormous costs that later comers do not have. Human capital can be taken away very easily by a competitor. That is where IP laws protect a company and its ideas.

  67. zuzu says:

    There’s a point at which blockquotes and links become confusing rather than illustrative.

    Yeah, I don’t understand why people complain about those.

    Blockquotes are just like inline quoted text in emails. How else will people know to which contextual points I’m referring to without them?

    As for links… mostly I think people just like to bash on Wikipedia as if it’s not a “real” encyclopedia. But the whole reason the World Wide Web exists is for hyperlinks and hypermedia. (e.g. Hyper Text Markup Language = HTML) So complaining about links on the web seems to me like complaining that ice cream is cold.

    ‘Newspeak’ is intrinsically circular because it means the same thing whether you employ it or critique it. It’s perfectly self-referential as an argument: What you say it means isn’t what it really means because it really means what I say it really means.

    Ok, how about: “intellectual property” is just luntzspeak intended to confuse people into thinking that copyright, patents, and trademark are “property” when in fact they’re government grants of monopoly privilege.

    (And if you don’t know who Frank Luntz is or have ever heard anyone use the expression “luntzspeak”, that’s what the hyperlink is for — to find out.)

  68. Takuan says:

    so you concede copyright is totally abstract and arbitrary, with no basis in reality?

  69. Bemopolis says:

    @#62: Well let’s give a quick review of your comments:

    #4: You compare scripting to carpentry. I don’t know about you, but when I buy a chair I don’t pay residuals to the craftsman every time I sit down. Oh, and you conflate copyright infringement with stealing, which it isn’t. If someone steals your chair design, for instance, you can still sit down.

    #10: You dismiss Zuzu as a cubicLE drone (apparently spelling isn’t important in TV scripts) for stating, quite accurately, relevant points of law. And you question the motives of the animator without any evidence.

    #52: You then tell the animator to pay for the clearance rights. Which she has already done. And in doing so, you cite the wrong rights in question.

    For someone who depends on intellectual property rights for a living, you sure don’t seem to understand it much. (Either that or you can’t express it well in writing, but as you said, you’re a pro.)

  70. mypalmike says:

    Who says copying is theft? Copyright law is about the rights to distribute copies of works.

  71. Jack says:

    @#42 POSTED BY ZUZU:

    I can’t make sense of what you’re saying. That you’re a programmer but can’t do it profitably no matter what?

    Ha! Nice one. Seriously I am a developer but what I am saying is (1) the only place I consistently see “tip jars” are open source developer sites and (2) I tip these folks or make a donation, but I’m quite sure that even with these tip jars the developers can’t live off of this goodwill.

    So if the place where I see the most tip jars and alternative payment methods exists can’t sustain itself, how can one expect artists who don’t have such a beast?

    I assure you, it’s possible to earn a living being paid to develop open-source software because there are people and companies who need the functionality of that software to exist so they can do their business.

    I understand. That’s how I make a living. But if anyone were to take my tools that I created with my own time, energy and effort and use them without my permission simply because they could copy a text file I’d sue them a new a-hole since I spent tons of hours and effort to create that custom tool.

    That’s my choice. And that’s how most sane developers work. If you feel you are entitled to take my work and use it “just because” sorry, but no.

    Also, can you get back on the topic of this artist and her film?

  72. DocTheopolis says:

    Again, why would a company invest millions into creating new ideas if they’d only have to see the competition get the same benefit for free? That puts them in a less competitive position out of the gate. Wouldn’t we see fewer new ideas emerge as a result?

    I mean, I don’t know how Cory manages to make a profit through giving stuff away for free. If it’s from advertising revenue he’s able to charge by way of cultivating an audience, then he’s not really giving anything away for free at all. He’s simply transferring the burden of payment to the advertisers rather than the consumers, just like network television. Can that model really work for EVERY form of artistic or intellectual expression? Of course, I may be completely wrong on how BoingBoing and Cory generate revenue.

    As an artist myself, I get where Nina’s coming from, that to replace the music in her film would have essentially eliminated the reason to make it at all. I’ve faced a similar situation plenty of times, and it’s frustrating, but really I think it’s on her to find another solution to her creative problem. And before putting yourself in that position by going forward with your own project, do the requisite research.

    As an artist, I’m sympathetic. As a businessperson, I respect other people’s IP and I expect them to respect mine.

  73. DocTheopolis says:

    “Your designers and engineers understand it better and can implement it faster and less costly than your competitors, and bring it to market first. That’s why you’ll profit more than the clones.”

    I don’t think it worked that way for IBM.

  74. zuzu says:

    The intent of copyright is to give the copyright holder the sole right to make — or give permission to make — copies.

    It’s not a “right to make copies”; it’s an exclusive right — a “right” to exclude everyone else from making copies using their own equipment.

    Since you’re conflating intellectual property and real property, and Zuzu’s conflating police power with actual violence, can we call it a draw?

    I dunno, I think this is like the Highlander. ;) “There can be only one!” (and background music by Queen.)

    Besides, “police power” means violence is acceptable so long as I wear a fancy hat and a badge, and make it seem all official?

    How about I put on a Starfleet uniform and then tase some people?

  75. Jack says:

    @#43 POSTED BY ZUZU:
    What creative Utopia do you live/work in?

  76. axl456 says:

    the song is perfect for a program on the discovery kids channel

  77. seehearbrian says:

    ZUZU: *sigh*… not “not real”, but “not real property”

    Wait. If I don’t own my thoughts, does that mean no one owns them or everybody owns them? I’m starting to get confused, and not just because my entire existence is now in question.

    The line between “real” property and “not real” property is entirely imaginary, if you will. Permit me: I write an essay on my PC (sorry Mac lovers) for a class assignment. The essay is due in 2 weeks, and I complete it 1 week and 6 days early (I’ve always been an overachiever). This essay, as composed, is the creation of my personal thoughts, yet if broken down to its base components (its “real” state in the quantum sense), is merely a series of 1s and 0s. By your definition, my essay is thus “not real” and thus un-ownable by me.

    Before I turn in my assignment, an unscrupulous fiend hacks into my computer and makes a digital copy of my digital assignment. This fiend by happenstance (or not… after all, he’s a fiend!) is also in my class, and he distributes my essay to everyone else in class to use as reference — inspiration, perhaps — for their own essays, due less than two weeks hence. I’m still able to turn in my own essay on the due date, and thus no “real” harm has been done in my quest for a good grade, but I’m still vexed by the situation. No real theft has taken place — after all, I still have my original work — yet my thoughts now form the basis for 25 of my lazy classmates essays.

    So, ZuZu, in your opinion, what should my professor’s response to this situation be?

  78. zuzu says:

    Who says copying is theft?

    Everyone who ever inaccurately refers to copyright infringement as “stealing”.

    but what if that thing she’s copying is my livelihood?

    Then adjust your business model to work within reality!

    I realize I’m posting the question in a volatile place, but am I overlooking something in this argument?

    That information is non-rival and non-excludable, but your brain and body that creates new information is both rival and excludable.

    Your business model should rest on being paid for creating new works, not for selling copies of information that’s already been created.

  79. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Compose yourselves.

  80. seehearbrian says:

    Since you’re conflating intellectual property and real property, and Zuzu’s conflating police power with actual violence, can we call it a draw?

    Personally I make no distinction between intellectual and “real” property, but if calling a draw pleases the Moderator Gods, I’m happy to do so of course.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Personally I make no distinction between intellectual and “real” property

      I hope for your sake that you do make a distinction between sharp words and sharp objects.

  81. seehearbrian says:

    TAKUAN: so you concede copyright is totally abstract and arbitrary, with no basis in reality?

    Lots of things are totally abstract and arbitrary with no basis in reality. Paris Hilton, for example….

  82. Alessandro Cima says:

    #43,

    You think hoping to get rich by selling copies of your work is ‘extortion?’ That’s very strange and somewhat extremist. But I like extremists. They’re interesting.

    And later on you say, ‘Because computers are providing a reality-based benefit of reducing scarcity (i.e. increasing availability) through copying, while copyright is only a legal fiction (causing artificial scarcity).’ The U.S. Constitution is a ‘legal fiction’ that creates false rights for human beings that no one can find any evidence of anywhere on the planet. But it sure is a good story. It’s public domain too. And the guys who wrote it were really rich.

    But certainly most laws are abstractions (what you call ‘legal fictions’). Look, Lawrence Lessig is a fun read but wears thin quickly for me. I wouldn’t base too much on his work, though in general I agree with some of his ideas. All this ‘false scarcity’ stuff, you know… whatever.

  83. Takuan says:

    what happens to copyright if the market becomes effectively infinite?

  84. Steve Schnier says:

    TO NINA PALEY:

    Surely you were aware that you had to clear the music rights. In the months or years it took to make your film, SOMEONE must have asked if you’d cleared the song. That’s Film School 101.

    You had to have known about song clearances. But you figured that you’d just let it slide. Fair enough.

    Why don’t you just pay for the f*cking rights to the song, so you can clear the E&O, release the movie and be done with it?

  85. Bemopolis says:

    Just to chime in on the Paley side of the argument against many of “creative” types here who don’t seem to get the point…

    Creative works are not acts of manufacture, and hence cannot be wedged into the mindset of physical property. (No matter what #2 tells himself; TV scripts are work-for-hire, not scrimshaw.) Does a photo of the Mona Lisa depreciate the value of the original? Should we still be paying the estate of Shakespeare (or perhaps that of Edward de Vere) for performances of “The Tempest”? Perhaps the descendants of Gilbert Stuart should be prepping a lawsuit against the Federal Reserve, no?

    The problem with copyright as it stands now is not its very existence, but its term, which is so prohibitively long now that it invites scorn and acts of scofflaw. The creators that Nina Paley “ripped off” have been dead longer than JFK; if you want to dig them up and shove $20s in their hands in appreciation go right ahead. But ignoring that what we have now — mega-corporate monetization of ideas long since born by artists long since dead — only invites more piracy (which is not theft, as the Paley tune points out.)

    If you are an artist worth a shit, you can find ways to make a living. Thanks to an abundance of lawyering, musicians get crap from their recordings; they make their scratch by touring. Regular writers get paid crap per book; they make money from personal appearances, book signings, and works-for-hire.
    “Starving artist” became a cliche for a reason. That’s the world you seemingly chose for yourself. If you don’t like it, the post office is hiring. Hell, it worked for Anthony Trollope.

    But instead you whine about how no one respects copyright any more. You want to make the idea of copyright respectable again? Respect your consumers and fight to have the term reduced. Better yet, wrest copyrights from the hands of corporations and tie them to the creators alone. People who enjoy your work are less likely to infringe on your copyright if it’s yours than if it’s held by a faceless corporation, especially given their current and well-earned low esteem. And when you die, your body will rot in the ground and your work will be public domain. OK, tack on a few years for your loveless children to exploit your loving public one last time. But then that’s it.

  86. seehearbrian says:

    I hope for your sake that you do make a distinction between sharp words and sharp objects.

    Like Superman, I’m impervious to both insults and bowie knives, so not really….

    Point taken nonetheless.

  87. BingoTheChimp says:

    We openly encourage anyone to copy and redistribute our content. Believe it or not, it can be done!

    Right, that is YOUR choice, and I wish you all the best with it. Just don’t force that on the rest of us who create for a living. We are entitled to the business model of our own choosing.

    I haven’t seen anyone here even attempt to make an argument for why the position quoted above should be mandated, rather than a choice for the creator. The system we have now allows for that.

  88. mypalmike says:

    “Quotes are very dangerous because the quoter is seldom up to the job.”

    -Alessandro Cima

  89. zuzu says:

    If I don’t own my thoughts, does that mean no one owns them or everybody owns them?

    No one owns them. They’re not property; only things that are property can be owned.

    The line between “real” property and “not real” property is entirely imaginary, if you will.

    Rivalry: Rival goods are goods whose consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers.

    This is an evident phenomenon.

    We can’t both simultaneously drink the same cup of coffee or drive the same car, but we can share copies of the same book, song, or movie.

    By your definition, my essay is thus “not real” and thus un-ownable by me.

    It’s not that it’s “unreal” as in it doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t qualify as property — as something that can be owned — no.

    but I’m still vexed by the situation. No real theft has taken place — after all, I still have my original work — yet my thoughts now form the basis for 25 of my lazy classmates essays.

    Your vexing is just you being petulant. Why care about the other classmates essays?

    So, ZuZu, in your opinion, what should my professor’s response to this situation be?

    This goes back to what I was saying about attribution being an orthogonal issue. If the professor just needed to know what you said in your essay, it doesn’t matter who submits it to her. If someone tried to pass your essay off as if they write it, that constitutes plagiarism, a kind of fraud. However, keep in mind that the aim of the professor’s assignment is not the finished essay, but measuring the ability of the students to create essays.

    I’m all for attribution. I’m not claiming that I wrote Catcher in the Rye; I just don’t think the text file containing the words to that novel has any basis in property.

  90. Steve Schnier says:

    I make my living through the creation of intellectual properties. I write scripts and pitch TV shows. I see it as if I were a designer or carpenter who made chairs.

    If someone were to copy or borrow the design of my chair and use it/sell it as their own, that would diminish my livelihood.

    Adjust my business model? Why? I initiate ideas – you have to stoop to stealing.

  91. mypalmike says:

    @ZUZU:

    “Gee, I guess I’ll have to update my website with new information.”

    Gee, I guess I’ll have to write a script that copies your site content to mine whenever it changes.

  92. seehearbrian says:

    However, keep in mind that the aim of the professor’s assignment is not the finished essay, but measuring the ability of the students to create essays.

    Yes, but the creation of an essay is all about the process of creating original thought (the essay’s argument), and if the other students in my class use my argument as the basis for their essays (presuming they’re not plagiarizing the essay, merely using its premises as their own), their thoughts therefore are not original. How is the professor able to therefore judge the other students’ work in that case?

    I just don’t think the text file containing the words to that novel has any basis in property.

    Since I was forced by the Moderator to see the light on this point, I’ll be generous and agree with you that, yes, in the strictest sense intangible objects are not real. But that does not mean they can’t be property. Merely a different kind of property: intellectual property.

    And here we are back where we started….

  93. Alessandro Cima says:

    Bemoplis,

    I actually think what you say in #53 is very reasonable. I might argue a bit with the ‘faceless corporation’ stuff. The reason being, that in most cases if a corporation owns a copyright it’s because an employee of the corporation made something. I can’t really find fault with that.

    But yes, reasonable copyright protecting intellectual property is the thing. This nonsense about how there’s no such thing as intellectual property is like saying there’s no such thing as a right privacy. They are equally abstract.

  94. zuzu says:

    Yes, but the creation of an essay is all about the process of creating original thought (the essay’s argument), and if the other students in my class use my argument as the basis for their essays (presuming they’re not plagiarizing the essay, merely using its premises as their own), their thoughts therefore are not original. How is the professor able to therefore judge the other students’ work in that case?

    Nothing is truly original. Standing on the shoulders of giants like Isaac Newton, et. al. said.

    Besides, what does originality have to do with property rights? Mass-production severely reduced the percentage of “original” objects anyone possesses.

    But that does not mean they can’t be property. Merely a different kind of property: intellectual property.

    Ugh, no, because property exists to solve a particular problem, and “intellectual property” doesn’t incur the problem necessitating property rights to solve.

    “Intellectual property” is a solution in search of a problem.

    Everyone in the world can have a copy of the Catcher in the Rye textfile. There’s no limit to who can read it simultaneously.

  95. Takuan says:

    mmm, looking backwards, looking forwards… things as they are these days… Nina wins in the end.

    I don’t see much thought put forward by creators regarding their strategy. Most artists (of any stripe) I know just wish they could be given what was needed and be left alone to create. A good tactic to make good art perhaps, but no strategy at all in the course of a lifetime.

  96. oxrs says:

    @ZUZU

    I don’t make a living selling creative works, but I’ll play a little devil’s advocate here.

    You seem to want rights and then some, but only for consumers. I want to know what business model you’re actually proposing. What model allows profit and growth through only the first copy of a created work, and not by selling copies of it to anybody who wants it after that? You would have to sell the initial work for an astronomical amount, almost to the point that you would be unable to sell it, just so people like you can freely hand out copies to everybody they like.

    Why can’t there be a rational middle ground in this argument? On one side we’ve got corporations hunting down old people, children and anybody in between, and then on the other side we’ve got people who demand that these corporations find a way for the customers to be able to give away the created works at no profit to the creators and distributors. Both sides are just as bad as each other and it only leads to insane escalation.

    At least have the courage to admit when you’re enjoying the work of other people and not compensating them in return. Work goes into every creation, and as greedy as corporations are, you’re still taking away from the artist in some small way.

  97. Takuan says:

    no one says you have to drag the stinking, rotting corpse of outdated copyright law around with you for eternity. Make something new that works better and just ignore the old rules until they go away.

  98. Jack says:

    Straight off the bat, this doesn’t sit well with me. I will admit that after hearing about it for months (maybe years? I finally say down and watched Sita Sings the Blues… And I find that the copyright drama behind the film elevated it to a higher level than the film actually warrants.

    But that isn’t what doesn’t sit well with me: As far as copyright issues goes would she truly be giving her film away if she were not facing the legal issues that muddied up the films release/non-release? If this film—in some parallel universe—was released like any other film, would we then be seeing Nina Paley shaming those who are copying her work?

    Honestly my impression is she wishes she could make a profit off of this film… Which is valid… But now with the copyright insanity behind it, she’s suddenly claiming things should simply be free?

    That’s the problem here. Give the creator a better deal and I don’t think we’d be hearing extended discussions, essays or songs about how copyright is “wrong”…

  99. gabrielm says:

    I initiate ideas – you have to stoop to stealing.

    Good artists copy. Great artists steal.
    - Pablo Picasso

  100. zuzu says:

    Right, that is YOUR choice, and I wish you all the best with it. Just don’t force that on the rest of us who create for a living. We are entitled to the business model of our own choosing.

    But you’re not entitled to a business model that relies on state coercion to be viable.

    You’re not entitled to a business model selling apples that relies on the government making it illegal for anyone else but you to sell apples. i.e. rent seeking

    I haven’t seen anyone here even attempt to make an argument for why the position quoted above should be mandated, rather than a choice for the creator. The system we have now allows for that.

    In addition to asserting that the burden of proof rests with justifying the existence of copyrights and patents (i.e. prove that it does more good than harm — you can’t), argued numerous times, including just now, that no legitimate business model relies on a monopoly enforced by the government to succeed.

  101. zuzu says:

    no one says you have to drag the stinking, rotting corpse of outdated copyright law around with you for eternity.

    Actually, I think Sonny Bono‘s exact words were, “We have to drag the stinking, rotting corpse of outdated copyright law around with us for eternity.”

    Make something new that works better and just ignore the old rules until they go away.

    That’s why Ian Clarke wrote Freenet. But mostly people use BitTorrent or alt.binaries.

  102. Bemopolis says:

    @#107: I’ll take on your scenario (and with some authority, having given many class assignments in my day.)

    Changing your final question slightly: as the professor, what *could* my response be?
    — I could nullify the assignment entirely.
    — I could assign a new essay to be done in one week (don’t
    worry, you can pound one out in a day, you her you.)
    — In the more egregious cases, I could give incomplete or
    failing grades on the basis of plagiarism (if I state such
    in my syllabi.)
    — If the university has an honor code, I can pass the case onto
    the Honor Court.

    Now, as the professor, what *can’t* I do?
    — I cannot call the police to report the crime of theft
    committed by 25 lazy students.
    — I cannot call the police to report the crime of receiving stolen
    goods committed by 25 lazy students.
    — I cannot call the district attorney’s office to report the crime
    of theft committed by 25 lazy students.
    — I cannot call the district attorney’s office to report the crime
    of receiving stolen goods committed by 25 lazy students.

    Well OK, I *can* call them, but I cannot expect them to do a damn thing about it. Why? Because no theft has occurred, because *no actual, tangible property has been taken*. Period. At best, all I have is a single case of hacking, and even then the law only applies because he affected your very real computer.
    (But really, the whole incident could have been avoided if you hadn’t set your computer password to be ‘password’. So, so obvious.)

    To be clear, I am not on board with Zuzu’s absolute opinions against copyright. But at this point a term of zero years is starting to seem only slightly more absurd than the near-century lifespan it has now.

  103. zuzu says:

    I make my living through the creation of intellectual properties. I write scripts and pitch TV shows. I see it as if I were a designer or carpenter who made chairs.

    “Intellectual property” is a bogus idea because it doesn’t meet the criteria of “property” at all; and in fact the Copyright Clause is completely separate from common law property.

    You should be paid for your writing, not for copies of what you have written. People want new TV shows, you can get hired to write them. But what’s been written is easily and infinitely shareable; that’s not the part that has value. You (as a knowledge worker) are the part that’s valuable (and scarce).

    Adjust my business model Why

    Because your business model isn’t viable without government coercion.

    I initiate ideas – you have to stoop to stealing.

    But copying isn’t theft, didn’t you hear the song?!

    I want to know what business model you’re actually proposing. What model allows profit and growth through only the first copy of a created work, and not by selling copies of it to anybody who wants it after that? You would have to sell the initial work for an astronomical amount, almost to the point that you would be unable to sell it, just so people like you can freely hand out copies to everybody they like.

    You don’t sell the work at all!

    You rent your mind for creating the work.

    This can be anything from corporations who need that to exist and will pay you salary, to a dominant assurance contract for a group of consumers who want your creation to exist.

    At least have the courage to admit when you’re enjoying the work of other people and not compensating them in return. Work goes into every creation, and as greedy as corporations are, you’re still taking away from the artist in some small way.

    The ends never justify the means. It’s not my responsibility (or the responsibility of government) to assure that you have a viable business model.

    I’m happy to pay for the creation, but not for copies of what’s already been created. Anyone can make copies for free. Copies aren’t scarce or valuable; creation is.

  104. Jack says:

    @#52 POSTED BY STEVE SCHNIER:
    I want to add something positive here since I’ve been a tad to critical even for my tastes, but the issue is while the songs are out of copyright, a claim was made on the performance of the song as used in the film.

    So she did do her due-diligence, but was thrown a curveball by an obscure claim. I mean, who would think a performance claim can be made? Live and—sadly—learn.

    And Zuzu, I want to thank you immensely for derailing this discussion just so you can preach about a non-existent way to make a living. Your discussion basically overwhelmed the basics of this specific case and her specific legal issues which are frankly Kafka-esque.

    So, reform copyright law so things like this simply don’t happen.

    And please leave copyright laws in place as long as they are reasonable and allow for artists to truly profit.

  105. zuzu says:

    Gee, I guess I’ll have to write a script that copies your site content to mine whenever it changes.

    And yet, everyone still knows to go to Wikipedia instead of the numerous clones mirroring its GFDL content.

    Just as I imagine everyone knows to visit BoingBoing despite its content being Creative Commons licensed and redistributable.

    I think this lesson is as old as “why aren’t there more forks of the Linux code base given its GPL licensing?” IIRC, this was addressed in Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution.

  106. Trace says:

    but what if that thing she’s copying is my livelihood?

    There’s a lot of assumptions built into this question. The most basic is that art should provide someone with a livelihood. There are a lot of things that people feel compelled to do that are productive and life-affirming that no one pays them to do (sleep, eat, go on vacation, have sex, have children, pray, etc.). Artistic production is not something easily distinguishable from other activities. Maybe I sing in the shower; I certainly don’t expect to be paid for that.

    There’s also the assumption that copying equals lost sales. This is not necessarily true and is often false. Many artists have built careers around getting as many copies out there as possible and parlaying that into commissions and concerts.

    As a society we have decided that new art and new information is valuable to our culture as a whole and so we want to encourage its production. Copyright is an attempt to do this, and to the extent that it succeeds (that is, encourages a variety of quality work) it’s a good set of laws and to the extent that it fails (discourages the production of new work) it’s a bad set of laws. Beyond these concerns, Copyright is a drain on society in creating a legal situation that necessitates a whole class of lawyers as well as criminalizing the behavior of almost everyone. Even if you aren’t downloading pirated movies you are probably violating copyright every day in ways you are not aware of because the rights granted holders are so broadly defined.

    Ms. Paley’s point, which is made often in these discussions, is that copying is not theft in that it does not deprive anyone of any real property. Perhaps it is objectionable for other reasons, but to call it theft is equivocating.

  107. BingoTheChimp says:

    @Zuzu

    You’re not entitled to a business model selling apples that relies on the government making it illegal for anyone else but you to sell apples. i.e. rent seeking

    You are confusing MY apples with apples in general. I am indeed entitled to sell (or not sell) MY apples as I see fit, as well as prevent others from selling MY apples. If you don’t accept that a creative work is a form of property, we aren’t talking the same language and will never see eye-to-eye on this.

    In addition to asserting that the burden of proof rests with justifying the existence of copyrights and patents (i.e. prove that it does more good than harm — you can’t), argued numerous times, including just now, that no legitimate business model relies on a monopoly enforced by the government to succeed.

    A monopoly would be if I sought exclusive control over, for example, music recordings. On the contrary, I only want control over the music recordings I have created. Others are free to make/sell/give/distribute their own. That’s not a monopoly by any stretch. Again, you are confusing the specific (MY product/apple/recording, ie: my property) with the general (ie: I forbid you to sell your own stuff).

    The burden of proof is on you to explain why something I create is not my property and my own business.

    But you’re not entitled to a business model that relies on state coercion to be viable.

    By that reasoning, anytime the state protects my rights to the detriment of those who would violate them, the state is “coercing” those people. I guess you oppose laws against someone robbing the supermarket? After all, their business model relies on state coercion of would-be theives.

  108. Steve Schnier says:

    I’d be interested to know what ZUZU does for a living. My guess is he/she/it’s a cubical drone.
    It’s easy to judge an issue when you’re a salaryman.

    JACK – BRAVO! I agree 100% with your assessment. If Nina Paley could make a buck off her film she sure as hell wouldn’t be giving it away. “Ooh. If I can’t make money, then neither should anyone else.”

  109. Bemopolis says:

    @#58: I don’t think any but the most extreme elements are arguing for complete abolition of copyright, just one with a straightforward, *limited* term.

    As to your specific case, it sounds to me like you are doing it right. A lot of artists that I know have day jobs and produce their work on their off-time; you’re the same, except that your day job is identical to your creative work. And kudos on retaining copyrights.

    As to what to do about your non-soundtrack work, you imply that it has a limited fanbase and little utility as a live performance. As I see it you have three choices to be heard: 1) write in a more popular vein (aka “sell out”, aka “pay rent”); 2) sell it yourself online; 3) don’t worry about monetizing it and set it free.

    The first seems unappealing to you, and the third is obvious, so just think about the middle one. Sell CDs online. Sell mp3s online. Partner with an online animator and score the cartoons he puts on his (ad-supported) website, to advertise your music. Write something bizarre, or beautiful, or both, and play it under a picture of a frying pan with marbles in it. Whatever. Don’t expect to get rich, don’t expect to be popular (“limited fanbase” after all), but maybe it will pay for itself,. Perhaps more.

    It’s art, not a Hardee’s franchise.

  110. oxrs says:

    So… Let me get this straight. You think that people should adjust their business models to “reality”, based on your belief that people will actually pay anybody enough money to live on, let alone prosper, for the simple creation of any given work? That’s a nice idea and all, but the world doesn’t work like that and if it did, there wouldn’t be any artists left who could support themselves through their art.

    I’m just going to leave the conversation alone after this… I’m obviously not going to find rational thought here. I hope that one day, your “reality” matches up with everybody else’s.

    One more thing before I leave this thread behind… The other big thing I get from what you say is that if an artist wants to preserve their income, they HAVE to institute invasive and egregious DRM, if it’s a digital work, or a similar copy restriction if it’s not. As long as nobody can freely and easily copy a work, it’s worth paying for. Food for thought…

  111. kfogel says:

    @#22 posted by Jack

    What makes you think this is not a for-profit release? Non-monopolistic does not mean non-profit. Nina Paley has never said she doesn’t intend to make a profit; she’s just not going to make a profit by preventing people from seeing her work.

  112. BingoTheChimp says:

    Good Golly, are we gonna go through this again? See http://boingboing.net/2009/01/06/acclaimed-animated-m.html

    Nina, your position is based on a very narrow view of intellectual property and is, frankly, selfishly slanted toward your subjective opinions about “art” and “creativity.”

    Corey, I’m surprised you are presenting this as such a black and white issue.

  113. Takuan says:

    yeah;

    “I completely support your right to copy-restrict your works. The more you copyright (restrict access to) your work, the more wide-open the field is for free culture like Sita Sings the Blues. Open-licensed work has a tremendous competitive advantage over copy-restricted work. So by all means, please “protect” your “property.”

  114. gabrielm says:

    If Nina Paley could make a buck off her film she sure as hell wouldn’t be giving it away … Nina, your position is based on a very narrow view of intellectual property

    Um… you people are just getting silly. The song is about the difference between copying and stealing. It makes a clear and simple point. Can any of you point out any part of the song that is not true?

  115. Alessandro Cima says:

    Zuzu #8,

    “I’m happy to pay for the creation, but not for copies of what’s already been created.”

    So then you’ve never bought a book?

    I found an original copy of a book once. It cost $45.7 million. It was an original. Beautiful in every respect. But a week later I found it for sale at Barnes & Nobel for $9.95.

    Which one do you, in your infinitely copyable wisdom, think I purchased?

    And by the way, nice job on your web site. I copied it and posted it to a server. It’s already earned me $4.53 from ads. I’m not crediting you in any way on the site of course. But that’s because you already created the original and should be happy about it.

  116. gabrielm says:

    Oh, and about “If Nina Paley could make a buck off her film she sure as hell wouldn’t be giving it away.”

    you mean like Cory? He frequently gives the text and audio away – yet somehow makes money. I personally have purchased several of his novels!

  117. Jack says:

    @#68 POSTED BY KFOGEL

    What makes you think this is not a for-profit release?

    I never said that. In fact I believe it was created as a for-profit release and it was stymied by the copyright/performance rights SNAFU that now has it floating in the world of free distribution.

    My issue are folks like Zuzu who seem to see this as a black and white issue. When the reality it isn’t. Also the high-concept that freeing yourself to copyright is a road to a stable business model. Which it isn’t at all. The vast majority of people who do release works for free to the public are either (1) releasing small samples that lead to a larger product or (2) people who are releasing works wholesale and who will never see a thin dime from the vast majority of people who are using their work.

    In this case, Nina Paley is clearly not releasing a small sample. But rather the whole film since that is clearly the only way she can legally release it without being burdened by legal and copyright related fees.

    If the specific performance right issue were not a factor, then this film would clearly be made into a 100% copyrighted product.

    So all I am saying is this polarized discussion is really ridiculous. Copyright law needs reform but it still needs to be in place.

    And if you are proselytizing how giving work away for free leads to your personal and professional and financial growth, you need to provide more examples than just a small handful of folks who are either A-list bloggers or folks with strong media connections that allow them to make their case. The odds of success for people who do not fall into those groups are slightly better than winning the lottery.

    And honestly, if an artist doesn’t want you to use their work, you have no right to bully them into giving up their work for your personal enjoyment.

  118. Bemopolis says:

    @#52: Setting aside the overwhelming urge to tell you to shut the fuck up, watch the full Paley interview on Google video. Then tell me, legal requirements aside: does it make sense that one cannot include recordings that have ENTERED THE PUBLIC DOMAIN in an artwork without lawyering up and riding through town to check up on synch rights? From songs whose authorship precedes the inception of the FDIC? If so, after how much time is it safe to ever assume that an artistic idea ever belongs to the general public? Never? So, the first act of every artist should be retention of counsel? Wow, I sure look forward to some great art on THAT day.

    Remember that at its essence copyright is a monopoly on an idea, and as such it must be countered with a reasonable limitation on its reach and extent. Thomas Jefferson was mindful of this fact, and only reluctantly endorsed the idea of it at all. For the record, a Jeffersonian-style copyright term, based on actuarial tables, was 19 years in 1789; in today’s terms, that would become 30ish years. Of course, if corporations had their way I wouldn’t be able to quote Jefferson, since his papers would be retroactively put under copyright.

    The social contract of copyright is supposed to be this: we want your art, so we give you a limited monopoly to exploit each of your creative acts. After that, it belongs to the public. As it stands now, the “limited” part of that is seriously FUCKED. In addition, the ability of the public to push back through its elected officials is also FUCKED, thanks to corporations like Disney. In light of that, is it any surprise that parts of the public simply ignore copyright now?

  119. Takuan says:

    the illusion of control; is it more important it exists in one’s own mind? Or in the minds of others?

Leave a Reply