Discussion: On Copyright

738 Responses

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  • Islander,

    Keir - no worries...as you & Sacha & the Grok have pointed out, there was already a kind of trail.

    I'm working on my Apple lemon (o yes! There are such-) so I hope it doesnt freeze as it's done several times over the past months: Mark, there are quite a few comments I could make apropos going from one medium to another, and whether this what makes a living culture, and, indeed, whether your personal tussle with something that doesnt quite work in one medium might be made to work in another (except it would - forgive me, I'm paraphrasing- be a betrayal of characters/story to do that) *but*

    I'll just go here: no book/story/painting/film is *static* because copyright prevents people stealing (it's not just 'using') another person's creation: if what you create works in any way, it works in people's heads. It is vital, vibrant, alive, everytime it works in someone's head. And - as you rightly say- 'none of us create in a vacuum - hell, we use language/s for a kick-off!)

    I would add, of course I didnt expect my first novel to errm, *spread* the way it did. It -just happened

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    and the @!$#@&*! machine did die - but I'd hit 'post' a nanosecond before!

    Anyway - further clarifications? More intimate revelations apropos royalties/rates/extreme nastiness on the part of publishers/CLL? Here is your deep throat-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Sounds like there might be a book in that. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Rick Shera,

    Geez (and not that is not a reference to you Mark), I dropped in here a few days ago and thought to myself, I must find time to dive in - but where to start? ... and of course IAAL so that makes me a RIAA stooge by the look of it ;-)

    I'm not hearing people say that copyright is dead or should be axed. More that:

    - It is being used as a tool to protect outdated business models (which, even when built had very little to do with rewarding or encouraging creativity or innovation);

    - It is being tied to all sorts of non-IP related bargains (FTA, ACTA et al). Supporters of this tie-up seem to believe that stultifying copyright protection is justified not on the basis of its own inherent public benefit but rather on the basis that as a bargaining chip it is worth it. How else does one explain support for measures such as TPMs, notice and takedown, repeat infringer termination etc all of which can be detrimental to rights that we though we all had;

    - The monopoly that it provides is being extended in all directions (mickey mouse ain't getting any younger);

    - Because copying digital material produces a "new original" and approaches being free, the traditional purpose of copyright, like that of diamond cartels - creating scarcity so that an economic model can be applied - starts to break down. The traditional copyright owners' response (and here I am not talking about authors generally but the owners to whom they have assigned copyright), is both to ask for stronger protection and to ask people like me to issue cease and desist letters.

    - The other response is to recreate scarcity by requiring ISPs (and anyone else who might conceivably have anything to do with making it available), to throttle the conduits via which allegedly infringing material is transmitted or hosted.

    And so we end up with laws that many people do not respect, least of all the under 10 year olds who are its supposed inheritors (older bit-torrenting generations perhaps being lost causes).

    Laws like section 92A which we have managed to have delayed but which will come into force no matter what apparently on 29 Feb 09. S92A effectively requires ISPs (which includes schools, libraries, universities, businesses as well as the more traditional ISP) to terminate completely users' internet access on the basis of a few unproven ... ahem ... cease and desist notices. There are so many things wrong with this regime it is hard to know where to start.

    Laws like our new format shifting exception, which will allow format shifting of music between devices but not films (MED decided that this was not common enough so no need to cater for it).

    etc etc

    One of the real ironies in this international copyright struggle is that we are told by US interests that any relaxation of copyright is anathema and will put NZ out of step. And yet, in the US, users benefit from a fair use doctrine founded on constitutionally enshrined free speech rights. Even then, Stallman/Lessig et al argue that fair use is not enough!

    Perhaps then, an expanded overriding fair use exception is something for us to consider. Don't throw copyright out, just provide for more flexible boundary setting.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It's not so much the making available of an existing work in new formats that enhances the culture - it's the availability of it for redevelopment e.g. taking a character that interests the reader and writing a new story about them, or envisioning an existing story from a minor character's perspective.

    I'm not sure if I'd consider one of society's rights to take the creation of one person, and then fiddle around with it and make it into something different. The copyright holder has contributed to the public good by putting their work out in the public in the first place.

    If I wrote a song and someone used it as part of one of their other songs (I currently have that Eminem song 'Stan' which used Dido somewhere on my computer), I'd want to have some control over that. If I didn't like Eminem and didn't want him to use my music, shouldn't I just be able to say 'no'? Why would it be in the public interest for Eminem to be free to do something with Dido's music that she never would have approved of? What if someone put it in a pornography film? Should she have the right not to have her creation used in a way that she doesn't want?

    I know that a lot of the time copyright is used for pure financial reasons, but I think for the holders of copyright, it has other purposes as well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    I'm not sure if I'd consider one of society's rights to take the creation of one person, and then fiddle around with it and make it into something different.

    How would you ever progress a theme, then? It's what we do with Shakespeare all the time. Marlowe, Wilde - anyone who's in the public domain. It's how it works. Without reinvigorating the public domain, the whole thing goes rancid and we enter a dark age whre no one can create anything because everyone is holding onto whatever copyrights they hold (or can grab).

    This is how the system works now. Or doesn't work, depending on your perspective.

    Copyright is not a property right. It's a licence to gain primary benefit from the creation of some content, whether artistic, scientific or whatever.

    As soon as you create something, it becomes part of the social fabric - the creator just gets first crack at making some money from it for a limited time. The issue facing us is really how long should that time be.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    This in brief is state funding for artists (painters, actors, writers etc) in Denmark.

    "Support for the Arts. Artists may join a union from which they receive insurance against unemployment. In this system of employment security, artists must produce input in the form of work, and many artists take menial jobs to maintain their union status. During their training, artists may receive subsidies through the State Education Grant and Loan scheme. A few artists are awarded a civil list pension on the basis of merit and talent. A few excellent artists are fully self-supporting."
    [{http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/Denmark.html}]

    and this on the actor's place in denmark by Unesco, stuff on copyright 2
    [{http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/files/32771/11698026393Denmark.pdf/Denmark.pdf}]

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Mark - you obviously havent read my earlier comments.

    "Without reinvigorating the public domain,"

    -holusbolus?

    "the whole thing goes rancid"

    -WTF?

    "and we enter a dark age"

    -doh?

    "whre (sic) no one can create anything"

    -I'm sorry, everyone is limited to what has been previously created? No shit eh?

    "because everyone is holding onto whatever copyrights they hold"

    **that's the people who own the rather limited copyrights they are entitled to hold, mmmkay? Who are not restricting anybody else from creating whatever stories or characters or music or whatever they want - right?

    "(or can grab.)"

    That's a bit of a worry: copyright/intellectual property law is actually supposed to stop this kind of thing...

    If I create something it may become part of the social fabric - it doesnt make it available to ANYONE else except as part of their mindscape, and certainly *doesnt* mean anyone else can use it for their own purposes.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    How would you ever progress a theme, then?

    This already happens all the time without circumventing copyright. Exploring similar themes, ideas, places and stories to someone else in whatever creative media is allowed right? Golden age sci fi authors didn't have to steal from each other to progress the overall themes.

    It's how it works. Without reinvigorating the public domain, the whole thing goes rancid and we enter a dark age whre no one can create anything because everyone is holding onto whatever copyrights they hold (or can grab).

    Or, you know, you can create something. Even something quite similar. So you can't write a book set in Narnia or Middle Earth. Is that really stopping you?

    Copyright is not a property right. It's a licence to gain primary benefit from the creation of some content, whether artistic, scientific or whatever.

    Benefit is one side of it. An equally important side is control, where you get to decide what happens to the ideas, people, places, sounds, objects, stories you've created that come directly out of who you are. You don't have to go far to see someone - even when authorised - making a hash of continuing or expanding on some genius piece of creative work.

    I don't think what you're suggesting is without merit, people can do cool things with existing IP, but it's hardly the whole picture.

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    What I said x 3-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    There's nothing in nature to stop me from copying your work, there's only the law.

    Isn't that like saying there's nothing in nature to stop someone coming into your camp and stealing your food?
    previously there was the ability of you to stop them stealing it, but with media now technology has made it so that the act of theft is so easy and un stoppable that people are questioning the creators right to control over their works. Their right is still the same as it was when they could control their works but the population has lost sight of what is inherent in a copyrightable work. because it is easy to steal it is assumed it has little value, little went into it, and little is taken by the single act of copying.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Rob, what did you think of Rick Shera's cogent points above?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    It seems ironic at best, that so much lip service is paid to the value of creativity, yet individual creators are valued so little. That their works, whether read, viewed, or played, are only of worth when they have value added, support others in a distribution & transaction chain, are able to be worked over/borrowed/lifted to someone else's benefit. It's like the words creator or artist have been evacuated of human-ness, altogether.

    And if only a select few are able to survive as individual creators where will that leave us? A future of endless pastiche? Artists & writers as corporate slaves?

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    sorry I'm writing here without having read all the way through the thread so apologies if I double up points made.

    for me copyright deals with property and ownership. The problem lies with people's difficulty in perceiving ownership and rights in something they can't hold or see. That doesn't mean there are not rights and ownership, just that people in general have difficulty understanding the concepts.

    I'm going to argue the extreme side for creatives (devils advocate) cos I see that side of things easily enough, although I see the' community' side well enough too. I am part of both.

    if a person builds a cart on which they transport people from one point to another does ownership of that cart pass on to the community after 70 years and if not why not and why should something else b bound by a different set of rules.

    There's the culture and value to the community argument but
    the cart provided important value to the community.
    "the transport defined us as we expanded our empire etc".

    If someone builds a song, book, panting, should the community have free rights to that song after a certain period.

    You can argue that an Artwork is part of our culture and should be for community use, but the question could be asked - why?
    just because people like that song/book/painting doesn't mean it should be theirs. We do after all live in a society that attributes ownership and value to stuff. communism shares things, we don't.

    If someone has a thing they created, and it's too expensive for you to use that product then you move onto another product that fits you budget.
    Say for example elvis's back catalogue which has just come into public domain. Why should it be free? Cos his estate wants to charge you more than you want to pay for it? fine, choose some other music then. Why should those recordings be free to us? Aren't his performances of those songs just like the cart the above mentioned person built.

    The issue here is comprehending what a copyrightable work is, understanding what went into making it and the economic structure that surrounds its creation.

    Take a song for example. most people perceive it as a simple and easy creation but having been involved in the creation of many of these there can be in excess of 2 years of crafting to make a song what it is in its finished product and there can be hundreds of ours and thousands of dollars involved in that not to mention the hours spent of the songs that lead to the hit, the ones discarded. In a normal work environment these are seconds, and as a worker you get paid for the time you spent on these too as its part of your job.

    so while the population perceives an artist as someone who pisses around between creating income deriving pieces the reality is there's a lot of non glamorous work that goes toward a finished piece that people like to ignore. The 70 years of copyright income pays for a lot of other time and work that may not be seen as directly related to the hit but in reality are all part of the job, and that's if we assume the current copyright laws serve fairly creative types which I don't necessarily agree they do.

    if you compare other types of work to creative industries - people who build buildings or make carts or companies etc get to keep the results of their work and pass them on to others as they see fit. There is no 70 year clause for them. what's so different about a created work? The biggest difference is peoples ability to grasp its concept of what has been made. Stupidity shouldn't be an excuse for our society to fleece creative types, just cos they can.
    Apply the same rules to all production and work, its what a fair society would do, if that's what we're striving for.

    current copyright laws are seen by creatives as a blessing when really they should be seen as a taken for granted right. I've notice a lot of 'don't rock the boat' speak by apra cos they seem to think they're lucky to get what they do from law, but media creative types are a bunch of wimps by nature anyway. If they had any balls they'd be out fighting hard ball. They don't, but that doesn't negate striving for fairness in society.

    The argument that creatives aren't interested in prosecuting people for downloading mp3's isn't a case for allowing a free for all. All creatives want fair payment for their work, just cos some are desperate and starved for attention enough to not kick up a fuss doesn't make it grounds for removing their rights.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Rob, what did you think of Rick Shera's cogent points above?

    still reading sasha, got a day job kinda thing going on right now and although I'm reading while my client does their recording I think they're getting pissed off at my inattention. (no I really am listening to that oboe solo with interest, honest)

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    they would like to lock away 13 year olds for listening to MP3s.

    13 year old's can't(shouldn't be allowed to) go into a store and take items off the shelf without paying. even if they can walk out of the store without being caught they've still broken a law. are they exempt from copyright law for any particular reason apart from the public's inability to grasp the concepts involved?

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Look at Rowling, who's gone from beneficiary to 12th-richest-woman-in-Britain in the space of a decade. Obviously she's a bit of an extreme case,

    your answer's in your own sentence.
    there's how many billion on this planet? rowlings should be excluded from the data cos she doesn't represent anywhere near the norm of creatives existence. ame with the top 200 rock bands etc, they've got nothing to do with the reality of a sustainable and fair system. so they're incredibly rich, and we see them being rich. so are numerous billionaire corporate heads but they live their decadent life outside of the public eye. we should be able to remove these exceptions from the table when making value judgments.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Laws like section 92A which we have managed to have delayed but which will come into force no matter what apparently on 29 Feb 09. S92A effectively requires ISPs (which includes schools, libraries, universities, businesses as well as the more traditional ISP) to terminate completely users' internet access on the basis of a few unproven ... ahem ... cease and desist notices. There are so many things wrong with this regime it is hard to know where to start.

    I couldn't agree with you more, Rick.

    Both sides of the argument presented above seem to agree that creators need to be protected to a degree, the question is where the lines are drawn. s92A draws that line in the WRONG place.

    I hate to think what else will be changed when the US fta is negotiated - Australia had to agree to a few rules around copyright to get their FTA with the USA, including parallel importing being 'banned'.

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I can't see anyone arguing for copyrights being extended based on the demand of one person or company.

    why should intellectual property be treated any differently than physical property, such as a piece of land. your dad buys a piece of land. passes it on to you etc and so on. no further input required, no contribution to society, just eternal value.

    why does a creative property lose its value after a certain period of time yet a physical property maintains it?

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    why does a creative property lose its value after a certain period of time yet a physical property maintains it?

    That wasn't what I was saying at all, in fact I've come down more on the side what you've said here.

    What I was saying is that "Mickey Mouse is about to come into public domain" is no reason to extend copyright. If copyright gets extended it should be done for good reasons, across all copyright holders and considering wider society. If legislators keep doing it simply because Mickey Mouse keeps getting older, then shame on the US legislators.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    <i>- It is being used as a tool to protect outdated business models</i>

    What does this actually mean? `Outdated' seems to be doing an awful lot of work here.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Blah.

    - It is being used as a tool to protect outdated business models

    What does this actually mean? `Outdated' seems to be doing an awful lot of work here.

    Sorry.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    why does a creative property lose its value after a certain period of time yet a physical property maintains it?

    Good question, actually. I feel like it might be the nub of something and I've no idea what the answer is. Though I suspect it's very like the reason patents expire.

    Incidentally, I assume the reason we've all been infuriating each other with the first principles is that if we can sort that out we can actually make proper arguments about why the law should be one way and not another. But there does seem to be more agreement than you'd think.

    `Outdated'

    I think traditionally it goes something like this:

    Since the internet works by copying digital information, if your information is digital - say music, video or software - it will be copied.

    This is of course a problem for people who sell that kind of thing.

    I don't know that anybody assume that widespread copying won't be an issue anymore (though there's the question of how much actual harm it does them), but some people seem to devote a lot of energy to trying to stop it entirely and asking for bigger and more disproportionate sticks to try to stop the tide while making as many enemies as possible in the process.

    They might be better to use those resources to come up with bright business (or perhaps legal) models to use the situation to their advantage (and no, I don't what that might be).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    why does a creative property lose its value after a certain period of time yet a physical property maintains it?

    Because part of its appeal is its timeliness. The further away you get from the inception of a creative piece (in the main), the less relevant it usually is to its cultural environment. That can only change with distance - eg disco clothes from the 70's were reviled during the 80's but now have the patina of "retro" .

    There are always exceptions (such as Michaelangelo's David etc) but if JKRowling is ruled out of the discussion, so are they.

    Culture is not property and copyright is not a property right - it's a licence to make copies, to benefit from the process of creation for a limited time.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    - It is being used as a tool to protect outdated business models

    What does this actually mean? `Outdated' seems to be doing an awful lot of work here.

    It goes with the rest of what Rick wrote, about artificial scarcity and value. In the old publishing model, which publishers are trying to protect, throttling the means of distribution plus entry cost of production meant that going outside the model was difficult and expensive and so less attractive to infringers, even if they found it inconvenient.

    But, due to digital technology, the cost of production has changed and become almost infinitesimal (from the publisher perspective - the creator still puts in the same sweat) and the potential means of distribution is radically different and unable to be corralled into a linear process - thus the publisher no longer has control of the process from go to whoa (could be go to woe, from their perspective) and so is unable to artificially maintain the price and extract the revenue.

    It's also much easier to infringe, even accidentally.

    Put more simply, publishers are middlemen and creators no longer need them (to the same degree) to get their work to an audience.

    Thus their business model has become outdated.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

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