When Copyright Goes Bad - documentary

Ben Cato Clough and Luke Upchurch's "When Copyright Goes Bad" (from Consumers International) is a great, 15-minute mini-documentary on what copyright can do, what it is doing, and what it needs to stop doing. Appearances by Fred Von Lohmann - Electronic Frontier Foundation; Michael Geist - University of Ottawa Law School; Jim Killock - Open Rights Group; and Hank Shocklee - Co-founder of Public Enemy.

When Copyright Goes Bad (English) (Thanks, Jim!)


  1. You know Cory, as a friend of the court on this issue, and someone with a couple of dogs in this fight, I just don’t agree this is a great little doc. It’s a little vague and blowhardy and has a distinct preaching-to-the-choir feel to it. Outreach it isn’t. Less whining about Big Media and an actual proposal that defined the “flexible, enabling copyright” would have added some cut here.

    1. Second the Gunner’s reactions. The beginning is, frankly, petulent… and it turns me far enough off that I didn’t stick around for the rest.

      OK, a bit of hyperbole to make the point is expected and allowed. But let’s keep it sane here. The issue isn’t copyright and its legitimate use — which, as BB has pointed out in the past, is a deliberate compromise to encourage creativity — but its overextension and abuse.

  2. The beginning is a bit heavy-handed, granted. But after that it’s a pretty good piece.


    I’ll wait to see what the rest of the class turns in before I give my final grade.

  3. Is it likely that anyone will ever be prosecuted for copying CDs to their mp3 player?

    I mean, solely for that reason.

  4. Interesting documentary. I have only two criticisms:

    First, as several of the previous commenters have pointed out, the opening segment was way too over-the-top. Stephen Colbert can pull off something like that; but it seems out of place in an otherwise serious documentary. It seems to send the message: “Warning! This will be a rabidly one-sided, grossly oversimplified caricature of a complex issue.” And I don’t think that’s the message that the filmmakers wanted to send, since the rest of the documentary took a more reasonable tone.

    My second criticism is that, while the documentary did a pretty good job of explaining what the problem is, it was short on actual solutions. It would have been better if they had devoted at least a few minutes to discussing alternative copyright models that might potentially solve the problems discussed in this documentary.

    But, apart from those two things, it was a pretty good documentary; and I would recommend it.

  5. This isn’t going to change. All our other freedoms are being actively deconstructed, there is no way the courts are going to take a good hard look at the weaknesses of copyright law, especially when those folks in power that want to see our freedoms limited more and more see those weaknesses to be strengths to be utilized if need be.

  6. Copyrights and Patents aka “Intellectual Property” (I have to spit every time I use that term) is theft, NOT the act of the freely sharing. Government monopoly is enforced at gunpoint to steal our liberty and force us down a path in life that the parasitic, tax-feeding, corporate class desires. The very concept of a corporation – a truly evil entity – is created and maintained by coercive government action.

    Read AGAINST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY by Stephan Kinsella if you want to get educated about these subjects:


    also check out:





    for more information.

  7. Interestingly enough DRM and the DMCA is being used to enforce 1 day access to scholarly articles published prior to 1923 (Even though the copyright has expired).

    For Example;


    Jstor isn’t much better- They charge 19.00 to purchase articles prior to 1923 as well. The materials are in Public domain and should be copyable as the copyright has expired. However DRM techniques with so called ‘licenses’ to access the materials prevent distribution of said materials.

    The result here is perpetual protection on these materials.

  8. If you think the beginning is “over the top” and “hyperbole”, then you have not been paying attention.

  9. If you think the beginning is over the top and hyperbole, then you have not been paying attention.

    But then, most people don’t.

  10. You cannot divide the society in to those who “consume” content and those who create it. Those people are for the most part mixed up. If someone does not receive money for music he writes, it does not make him merely a consumer.

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