How Long Can You Go Without Infringing On Copyright?

from the not-long-one-imagines... dept

A couple years ago, we wrote about a research paper looking at how often you infringe on copyrights in an average day to show just how ridiculous copyright law has become. Now, riffing on a recent post we did about how people take different views of copyright depending on whether they're making use of others' content or having their own content repurposed, one of our commenters has written up a blog post for Dvorak.org, discussing how hard it is to not infringe on copyrights, noting that the original system was not built for a digital world:
As copyright was originally enacted, it was next to impossible to accidentally infringe. In the good old days in order to infringe on a copyright you had to physically publish a song or a book without permission by printing it onto paper via a printing press. There was no other way to copy or infringe on a song or a book and there was no such thing as a performance right protected by copyright.

Nowadays we infringe copyrights numerous times throughout the day without even thinking about it. Watching an unauthorized SNL clip on YouTube. Playing the radio in the background at work where customers can hear. Loaning a copy of your Finding Nemo DVD to play at your kids' daycare. Downloading clip art to use in a personal scrapbook. Scanning your own wedding photos. Forwarding a funny photograph to a friend. Loaning a co-worker some software. Etc., etc., etc...

Copyright laws are so utterly pervasive in our lives that we simply cannot reasonably function without at least some innocent infringement. I personally think it'd be easier to avoid jaywalking and speeding than it would be to avoid infringing. So my question to you guys and gals, how long do you think you could last without infringing a copyright?
Indeed. It's interesting to note that some have compared copyright to speeding, but it's true that people are probably "infringing" a lot more often than they speed... and lots of people speed quite a bit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    lavi d (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Uh

    I believe I have copyrighted the idea of counting how many times you infringe copyright, so, well... you know...

     

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  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, May 12th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    How long?

    About 1min 20sec since someone here copyrighted breathing. (or was that patented? It's all so confusing) /sarcasm

    Since a performance is more than 2 people then I can probably last another 5min before I turn on the music. Since a performance is anything larger than 52" than once I get home and turn on the projector I'm out.

    Am I the only one who gets a blank screen when I click on the last link?

     

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  3.  
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    Weird Harolds #2 Fan, May 12th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Greasy Infringers...

    There's no such thing as "innocent infringement"!!

    Innocently infringing is like trying to catch a greased pig--while skydiving!! (you; not the pig--though I guess if you don't catch the pig there'll be a big mess...) You wouldn't skydive for greasy pigs; Don't Infringe!

    Even Innocently!!

    If you find yourself humming a popular song--hold your breath until it stops!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Some of these examples have been around for a long time, they are nothing new.

     

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  5.  
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    Servant77, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Lawsuit ?

    If you pass out and hurt yourself while holding your breath to keep from singing or humming a popular song could you sue the record label or artist for causing your injury?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    who cares

    All my songs (~25 GB) are pirated and I am regular user of internet videos (why download them when you can watch them streaming). But I have never shared anything myself and I wont be caught. Who cares what happens, as long as I get my free stuff.

     

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  7.  
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    mobiGeek, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: Lawsuit ?

    You'd just be opening yourself to an investigation by the Thought Police.

     

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  8.  
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    kirillian (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    agreed...just shows how long the abuse has been rampant...the real point is not that copyright law is not made for the digital world, but that copyright law causes problems in everyday, innocent uses.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    "How Long Can You Go Without Infringing On Copyright?"

    Crap! I just did.

     

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  10.  
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    Tgeigs, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:28am

    Re: Greasy Infringers...

    Announcing the "You wouldn't" battle:

    You wouldn't slap an incarcirated nun, so don't infringe!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Greasy Infringers...

    Yo! Does incarcirated mean she's full of carcinogens??
    Or did you mean incarcerated?

     

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  12.  
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    Tgeigs, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Greasy Infringers...

    Sowry speling notzee, mi badd

     

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  13.  
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    Theoden, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    WARNING

    In the phrase "DIScussing how hard it is to Not infringE on copYrights," you spell out the name DISNEY. That is Obvious Copyright Violation. Consider yourself warned.

     

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  14.  
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    R. Miles, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    I simply don't get it, honestly.

    I remember reading fair use is copyright infringement, and it begs me to wonder why this contradiction is changed for better protection, rather than abolished.

    When Obama sent over the gift to France, I could literally hear all the "protectors" bones snapping as their muscles tensed up.

    In addition, seeing how the DoJ is now filled with lawyers who "defend" this system, how far must we go before it's officially declared obsolete?

    I'm still amazed patents must be filed, but copyright is automatically given instantly. Hell, even this reply is copyright (but you're free to use it). It makes no sense.

    Mike made a remark about how the information on Techdirt is free for the taking, but he often neglects the comments, which are not Techdirt's to give away. They're copyright by the authors.

    What really ticks me off are the businesses out there who "data mine" forums to get feedback but pay absolutely nothing for "stealing" (yes, I know - hush up) the data.

    I doubt I'll ever see copyright abolished in my lifetime. In fact, I see things getting worse, rather than better. The article hits the nail on the head with the digital remark.

    Hell, even quoting a reply in a forum is copyright infringement.

    There's nothing we can do to change the system. When the "common peasants" are up against the "money makers", laws will never change as they should.

    © 2009 R. Miles

     

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  15.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Er... I don't think I could even count up the number of copyrights I'm infringing right at this moment.

     

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  16.  
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    Stuart, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:43am

    I can go forever

    I can go forever without infringing copyright. It's so easy even a caveman can do it....Damm!

     

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  17.  
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    Travis, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    This should put it in a new light..

    While trying to figure this out, remember the Glider lawsuit. According to that decision it is copyright infringement to have even a temporary copy in RAM (IE all of your music, games, websites, movies). This decision makes it copyright infringment to do anything with a computer.

     

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  18.  
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    Sean, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Greasy Infringers...

    "Yo! Does incarcirated mean she's full of carcinogens"

    No that would be carcinogenic

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Sean, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Lawsuit ?

    The Thought Police will have to enter at there own risk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Emilio, May 12th, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Obama will nationalize broadband. Then, everything you do on the Internet will be recorded, and admissible as evidence in a court of law. Since we will all be law breakers by definition, and since they probably won't throw the entire population in jail (at least not at the same time), they will just have to choose which of us to prosecute. It could be any of us, at any time, based on the whim of those in charge. Welcome to the Tyranny of Selective Prosecution.

    You have been warned...

     

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  21.  
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    Sal, May 12th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Im doing it right now

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    somebody should make a little short movie of a guy having an ordinary day in his life while having a copyright infringement ticker at the side of the screen. it would be interesting to see how big the number is when he's finished

     

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  23.  
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    Valkor, May 12th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re: who cares

    Must resist urge... to respond... oh, tasty, tasty flamebait...

    Ok, I'll take your tongue-in-cheek post at it's face value. If you couldn't download, you're probably not one of the ones who will go out and buy lots of music. You'd probably just listen to the radio and watch TV for free. Free is your style.
    I have a bunch of songs in my posession that were pirated of of the sneakernet. I don't even listen to them, because lots of music isn't my style.

    The point is that a troll like you clearly hasn't understood ANYTHING on this site if you think you're going to get any traction out of an argument as simplistic as yours.

     

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  24.  
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    zcat, May 12th, 2009 @ 1:12pm

    Two thoughts so far (I just got up, it's 8AM over here)

    Does calling someone a spelling nazi invoke Godwin's law?

    Accidentally spelling out DISNEY would, at best, be a trademark infringement.

    How long can I go without infringing copyright? I'm not even going to try. I use adblockplus so I guess I was infringing someone's 'right to force advertising on me' as soon as I fired up the browser. Or perhaps when I woke up to the radio this morning. If having ebooks read out by TTS is rights-infringing, I'm sure someone could argue by the similar logic that using a timer to turn the radio on in the morning is also rights-infringing. Somehow.

     

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  25.  
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    Ayn Rand, May 12th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

     

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  26.  
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    Rob R., May 12th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Interesting that I see this article right now. I am as we speak making a digital copy of a movie from a physical DVD to my computer. I will use that digital copy to make more DVDs and watch them.

    Of course, I own the DVD and am making a legal backup (yes you can do that, RIAA!). I use the backup and keep the original locked in a safe place. When (not if) the kids mess it up I just burn another one. I'm out $0.09 instead of $24.99 for a replacement. I do that with my music as well. I rip the CD and listen to it on my iPod and iPhone.

    Did I violate copyright? The movie industry says I am, RIAA says I am, but the law says I am not.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

    The real question is, how long can I go without doing something legally. Infringe early and often I say.

     

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  28.  
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    TPBer, May 12th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    Daily

    I always DL the current releases from the torrent sites, file-sharing is not illegal. As a matter of fact I just acquired the screener for Star Trek, pretty good movie and I would recommend to anyone, while The Devil's Tomb is total crap and I have already erased from my drive. I don't burn DVDs any longer, it is old tech, just get the right TV or DVD player (Philips is best for this) and plug in you Fat32 formated HD or flash drive and you have a movie pod. The movie and recording industry have gotten away with putting crap out there for years without the ability to try before you buy, now it's our time.

    They cannot stop, legislate or block the ability to share.

    "Sharing is Caring"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Eclecticdave (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Re: I simply don't get it, honestly.

    > Hell, even this reply is copyright (but you're free to use it)
    > © 2009 R. Miles

    Sorry, but the license text "but you're free to use it" is too vague to be legally enforceable.

    Do you mean Mike can use it, or anyone reading your reply?
    Do you mean the entire reply or just the part before (or after) you declared the license?
    Can I use it for any purpose, commercial, non commercial, in political or religious contexts etc.?
    If I incorporate your reply into a derivative work can I distribute it and do I need to do this under equivalent license terms?

    So, sorry but unless you are prepared to clarify these points, perhaps by releasing your reply under a CC license or equivalent, then I'm afraid it would probably be better if we refrained from using your work.

    ;-)

     

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  30.  
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    Mike (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 6:40pm

    Re:

    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

    Funny that the above quote comes from someone who was a massive supporter of copyright laws...

     

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  31.  
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    RPRIII (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Who?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Fward, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    One problem with having people chime in on topics that they are not clear about is you get a wide range of false statements. While it is easy to infringe someone's rights, several of the things you mentioned are not, in fact, infringement. Also, many comments here are false regarding copyright and copyright protection, and a patent is not a synonym for copyright. Lastly, it's easy to take what's not yours, rather than create something new. Copyright law protects the hard working creative person, e.g., web designer, photographer, speaker, graphic designer, author just to name a few.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Robert A. Rosenberg, May 12th, 2009 @ 9:26pm

    Re: I simply don't get it, honestly.

    Mike made a remark about how the information on Techdirt is free for the taking, but he often neglects the comments, which are not Techdirt's to give away. They're copyright by the authors.

    Yes they are BUT by posting here you are giving Techdirt a Compilation Copyright on the full contents although the individual comments remain the property of the poster. Use of the text of the comment (aside from quoting it here in a reply) requires identifying the Site and the Poster (or use of the URL from the footer of the comment).

     

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  34.  
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    violet1999, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    Music Copyright

    I feel like these days it's really difficult to tell what is copyrighted and what isn't. I know that it is best to err on the safe side and to assume something IS copyrighted, but then again, there are a lot of artists out there that are cool and who will allow small-time ventures to use their music royalty-free. I think that websites like http://www.copyrightsearch.org are really helpful in finding out whether something is copyrighted or not... but sometimes you just don't know.

     

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  35.  
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    violet1999, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:57pm

    Music Copyright

    I feel like these days it's really difficult to tell what is copyrighted and what isn't. I know that it is best to err on the safe side and to assume something IS copyrighted, but then again, there are a lot of artists out there that are cool and who will allow small-time ventures to use their music royalty-free. I think that websites like http://www.copyrightsearch.org are really helpful in finding out whether something is copyrighted or not... but sometimes you just don't know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 1:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ayn Rand

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 1:20am

    Re:

    Lastly, it's easy to take what's not yours,...

    Better to make your own copy than to take someone else's original away from them.

    ...rather than create something new.

    Create your own new copy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Jason Motley, May 13th, 2009 @ 5:41am

    Re: Lawsuit ?

    That might actually work!!! Just say that you were afraid of giving a live performance with out the expressly written consent of the record label. The only way that you could stop your self from giving said live performance was to hold your breath and due to the lack of oxygen you passed out and received neck and back injuies because of the fall and suffured mental anguish because all your peers at work saw you fall and laughed. I think if you got a good enough lawyer that could fly.

     

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  39.  
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    Jason Motley, May 13th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    what next?!?!?!?!?!

    Im suprised that they have not gone after ebay yet. They after all take money from the music and movie idistury. I recently brought a cd from a priviate seller, I'm pretty sure that the music was copyrighted and that hte label, artist, and any one else involved in the making of that song did not get a cut.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    All these smoke and mirror arguments about making a copy for yourself are just a joke. Sure, that is legal. No one cares about that, the RIAA doesn't care about that, the movie studios don't care about that.

    What they do care about are the real issues, the ones you talk around, the ones you say are actually helping the ones trying to ban it. Quite a few people (and most of the people who post here) don't care about the law, don't care about breaking the law and just download content. I think they are wrong, they think they are right.

    I can tell you this though, because of this attitude, the content will not improve as much. That is my opinion, obviously Techdirt disagrees, but look at the state of music. Look at the state of movies. Who do you think is right? Do you think movies are better today than they were in the past? Do you think music today is better than it was in the past?

    I would say no.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 8:45am

    Law

    a 'Law' should be invalidated if a majority of the people don't follow it. by functional definition, this would be a democratic 'vote'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Travis, May 13th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    The state of the music and movie industry comes from the fact that groups like the RIAA and MPAA have had a virtual stranglehold on these industries for years. They have been deciding what is "Good" for you and what you should like (I call it Cultural Dictatorship). Only recently, thanks to the internet and file sharing, have normal people been able to make them selves known without having to fit the *AA "Image". I say let the people decide what they want and how they want it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Rollie Cole (profile), May 13th, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Uh

    You can NOT copyright an idea, so (oh never mind...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 4:05pm

    Re:

    All these smoke and mirror arguments about making a copy for yourself are just a joke. Sure, that is legal. No one cares about that, the RIAA doesn't care about that, the movie studios don't care about that.

    Hello Shill,
    That's a bunch of bull. Record company execs have characterized personal copying as "stealing" and Real is currently being sued over a product that allowed individuals to make personal copies of movies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    The infamous Joe, May 13th, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Re:

    Oh, like speeding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, May 13th, 2009 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Music Copyright

    Just to clarify:

    Almost everything is copyrighted, as the act of creation qualifies it for copyright protection. The comment you wrote is copyrighted.

    What you really want is to find artists who choose not to enforce their rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:09pm

    These copyright laws are not in place to protect the artists. They are intended to protect the money making machines of the advertising and production companies. Other industries where people refuse to pay the prices that are demanded adjust their buisness model or go out of buisness. And suing for lost revenues and damages on people who are no longer are willing to pay for these product seems a little backwards. I have absolutly no intention of paying the price they want so really they aren't loosing any money when I download these things. And to address the one who commented on the quality of music today vs. previous, the reason music is horibble today is because people are pursuing careers in music and movies not because of passion or talent but because they want to be rich and famous. Stop rewarding these individuals for there mediocraty and start rewarding the passionate talented artists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    taabitha, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Are you forgetting about the rights to fair use?

    Many of the things listed here as being copyright violations are actually the right of fair use, or the right of first purchase.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Champernowne Constant, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 12:50am

    I am with a group that argues against copyright infringement on the basis that all music or digital data can be found with simple arithmetic which can extract it from fractals and a number like 0.12345678910111213...

    I figured this out 30 years ago but have just recently used arithmetic to make a NEW SONG which SOUNDS LIKE the one that first inspired me to develop the means of synthesizing that song USING ARITHMETIC. If you heard the song from 1979 before then you would be very reminded of it by the new song. The lyrics are different but the voice is the same. The melody is different but the instrument sounds are the same. The synthesizer tech is easy enough to use by non-musicians but has no OS. I am waiting to see if various automatic music identification systems think that the new synthesized song is the same as the old one because it is SUPPOSED to sound very similar. I'll put it online if it passes the mysterious "legal" test. It's called "Electric Permutation" by "Champernowne Constant".

    I also can make graphics and text files which look ordinary but sound like familiar songs, even exactly like them, if renamed as sound files. But at the moment I'm not trying to piss off the music police, just anticipating the results of testing the NEW SONG for "likely infringement" of the old one. If it isn't recognized, soon we may be free to easily make the music with the sounds we like to hear.

    Here's how it works.
    Imagine this is 4 megabytes of silence.
    0000
    Then all possible songs would be in this list:
    0001
    0010
    0011
    0100
    0101
    0110
    0111
    1000
    1001
    1010
    1011
    1100
    1110
    1111
    And nobody could ever make up a new one.
    Now that's how the C C number works, except it's just one number that has all these in it. There's none missing between 0000 and 1111. Actually there are a huge number of them that sound exactly the same. But in reality 4 megabytes is just one number (with 32 million ones and zeros in it), but that's OK because what I discovered after hearing that song in 1979 was that you can count really fast if you count differently than adding 1, and you can hear and look for good sounds. Anything that fits in memory is computable so why download it? Later I discovered you don't even need any memory to hold the music, you don't need a copy to play it, just simple arithmetic software that "plays" numbers like 0.123...

    Tag: 04551 12345
    Tag: "zero point one two three all 4 free"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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