I'm running around SXSW this weekend, so let's just get right to it. On the insightful side there were simply no standouts this week. A bunch of comments all were pretty closely ranked, so we'll go with the top two and then an editor's choice (which was ranked 4th). The comment that came in third in insightful dominated the funny category, so we'll revisit it in the second half of this post. First up, the winner this week is crade
for his comment concerning why a music tax is a bad idea
Also, it's a bad idea because it's trying to force people to pay money not only that they don't want to pay, but specifically *because* they are unwilling to pay on their own. It's like the opposite of free enterprise, forcing consumers to support those they least want to (because they are having trouble making money... um duh) instead of those that are actually working on satisfying customers.
Following close behind it was the following comment from Bradley on the post about the RIAA being pissed at Rep. Lofgren, in response to claims about how much "piracy" has cost the economy, noting that people who make that claim seem to ignore
that the money doesn't disappear:
"Online theft has cost our industry, the broader entertainment community, and our economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs."
Yeah, and obviously those dollars and jobs didn't go anywhere else. I mean, no new business models have appeared - Pandora, Spotify, and thousands of other new businesses don't offer any jobs.
I might believe it if he were to say "the direct business of selling music" was effected. But the broader entertainment industry is doing fine, thankyouverymuch. I'm fairly certain the economy (outside of some lobbyists pocket fund) isn't affected by the RIAA earning less money.
"Can you explain that to all the people who worked in record stores, or in video stores, and are now unemployed because widespread piracy decimated the music industry's retail trade?"
This carries the assumption that those people are still unemployed. That they didn't get jobs elsewhere. That they didn't shift to the new direction of the music and/or entertainment industry.
If the RIAA doesn't want to adapt, they can form their own church and do what the Amish do - pretend the future doesn't bring change and ignore the rest of the world as much as they can. If not, they need to adjust to reality and move on with it, already.
As for the editor's choice, it goes to the always insightful Justin Levine in discussing the importance of the public domain
(as it relates to the Golan case the Supreme Court just agreed to hear). One of our usual critics insisted that removing works from the public domain doesn't really diminish anyone's rights. Justin took issue with that:
Some of the works at issue include:
H.G. Wells' Things to Come
Fritz Lang's Metropolis
The musical compilations of Igor Fydorovich Stravinsky
The harm to free speech rights in taking even a small amount of works out of the public domain is far more significant than you seem to imply. You seem to ignore the domino effect that will occur with regards to derivative works that would otherwise be given separate copyright protections.
For instance, let's say I create a remake of Fritz Lang's film Metropolis while Lang's film was in the public domain. I spend the sums to hire new actors, set decorators, camera crew etc. On top of that, I create both a new novelization and stage play based on my film (which again, is all based on the original Fritz Lang Metropolis).
Since Metropolis is in the public domain, I don't need to ask anyone's permission or pay off any estate to create my new works based on the original work.
After creating these 3 new works (a remake of the film, a novelization and a stage play), Mr. X licenses the rights from me in order to create a line of T-shirts based on my new works (which are given separate copyright protection, since they contain their own original and creative elements on top of the public domain film).
After spending my time, effort (and perhaps money) to create these new works, the original Fritz Lang film is suddenly yanked out of the public domain and given copyright protection again. The Fritz Lang estate then issues a cease and desist letter to both me and Mr. X, claiming (quite correctly) that all of these new works now violate the copyright of the original Fritz Lang work.
What should the response be? The best case scenario is that I and Mr. X now must pay large (perhaps crippling) fees to the Lang estate in order to distribute our newly created speech. The worst case scenario is that the Lang estate doesn't care how much we pay them, they want these new works permanently enjoined and destroyed.
Either way, the ramifications towards free speech rights are staggering.
Since copyright law no longer requires people to register works in order to get copyright protection, there is no way to know how many derivative works have already been created in the popular culture that were based on public domain works that were yanked back into copyright. The end result is a domino effect that ends up blocking new creative works that were made under the promise of a stable public domain.
So this all affects far more than your misguided claim that "the moving from public domain to copyright for a small number of works [won't] significantly diminish anyone's rights..."
And, moving on to the "funny" (which was also the third highest ranked on insightful, we have a "first." It's a comment from last week's
"funniest/most insightful" post, where the Capitalist Lion Tamer
decided to put together a tick tock description of a day in the life of a Techdirt troll
7:30 am - Wake up begrudgingly from a fitful night of sleep. Quickly write down dream impressions: trapped in prison made of words/mocking laughter/MM in a Kool-Aid man costume/last words heard before waking up: "Oh, yeah! Nothing competes with free, eh AC?"/more laughter.
8:15 am - Take a few moments to allow blood to properly "angry up." (Heat to 212 for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool briefly. Maintain holding temp of 140-165 for next 8-12 hours.)
8:50 - Brew pot of cruelty-free coffee, paid for with an honest day's wages and served with a tablespoon or four of self-righteousness. Call up X in Phoenix to see if he's up for rabid commenting at 8:30. X says it's already past 8:30, citing lack of Daylight Savings Time.
8:30 (or 9:30) - Curse under breath while making a belated start in the TD comment threads. Wonder briefly why government continues to let Arizona and Indiana run roughshod over outdated but highly ingrained legislation. If we let every state choose its own time, where does it end? Anarchy, that's where. And the bad kind of anarchy that knocks down outdated laws and grandfathered-in preferential treatment.
11:30 am - Holy crap! Time flies when you're making circular statements! (You are in a maze of twisty falsehoods, all alike.) You've nearly missed the opening states at the Paris IP Convention Thingy! (AKA, "Let's Keep Doing the Stuff That's Not Working, Only Harder!" Public not invited.)
You click the link to stream the video feed only to be told that this isn't available in your country. Run a quick irony check. Still clean! Oh well. Time to get a bit hackerish and fake out the Parisian servers. After drawing the shades, locking the door and turning of the webcam, you get to work using tips gleaned from various "piratey" sites. Note to self: turn sites into ICE later. Stupid useful pirates won't know what hit 'em.
1:00 pm - After an hour or so of being preached to by the choir leaders, you settle back into a brief, but calm nap, secure in the knowledge that the more things change, the more bitter and powerful industries will fight dirty to keep things the same. Pink Floyd is pretty good napping music. "Meet the new boss, etc." Irony detector still clean. ZZzzz.
2:30 pm - Wake up from a nap feeling refreshed and ready to take the battle to all the thieves in the world, especially the ones that stole all that music from your website, forcing you to relearn all your instruments and start from scratch. Lousy fast-moving, reasonably bright freetards!
3:30 pm - After an hour of intense analysis and witty ripostes, you take a break to clean the angry spittle off the monitor. As the haze is cleared away, you notice you've used every instance of your/you're incorrectly! GRRRAARHH! [Another pause to re-clean.]. It doesn't matter. The sheer devastating intelligence of your hundreds of comments will show through, shutting up those stupid kool-aid drinkers once and for all.
3:45-5:30 pm - Continue to type yourself into the corner as you fire off rebuttal after rebuttal at those stupid kool-aid drinkers who apparently aren't going to be shutting they're mouths anytime soon.
6:15 pm - Break for dinner and a quick game of Minesweeper. Hit F5 about 500 times to see what the freetards are saying now. Christ! You look back to notice you even screwed up their/they're in your internal dialog. Briefly consider suicide. Realize that, for what is ostensibly a selfish act, it would make entirely too many other people very happy.
7:45 pm - Check website stats and bemoan lack of hits. Blame it on piracy and infringement rather than on the fact that you spent all day angrily tilting at windmills rather than, you know, attempting to reach out to your fans.
8:30 pm - Do some quick googling to make sure your music isn't out in the wild, hitchhiking with strangers before ending up a lifeless corpse somewhere in the uncatalogued servers of a foreign storage locker.
9:00 pm - Success! Some freetard has posted your song on Youtube! You quickly fire off a DMCA takedown notice. That'll show the little bastard what's the what. "Found this while surfing the web," indeed. "Nicely textural piece of ambient house." Whatever. "Click thru on the link below for more info." Bite me. Having safely resecured your legacy, you pause for a moment to calculate your losses from the 1,500+ views. No wonder you're barely making ends meet!
You post a victorious note at your website along with a viciously worded warning in the general direction of future helpful infringers, illustrating this debacle with a chart showing a clear correlation between Youtube views and additional hits on your site. [Note to self: irony detector may needed recalibration.] You also add a bold-lettered, all caps warning to the top of your page stating your zero-tolerance policy on theft, using the always popular "stealing a car" metaphor. You also attach some public domain clipart [yep, definitely broken] of a car to drive home the point, pausing for a moment to enjoy your inadvertent pun.
10:00 pm - Having righted all the wrongs and secured your IP for yet another day, you fall to sleep peacefully on a huge pile of money. Your sleep is the sleep of angels. Avenging angels, perhaps, armed with elliptical rhetoric and entitlement rather than a flaming sword and a stout shield, but angels nonetheless. As you fade from consciousness, you are alarmed to find yourself greeted by a familiar nemesis. "Oh, yeah!!!"
I've said before that I'd prefer the comments focus on the substantive issues being discussed... but, I have to admit, that bit of literature made me laugh. Coming in second was Nina Paley's retort
to an anonymous critic of her work with the Librarians Against DRM, after the commenter tried to spin a bizarre conspiracy theory about Nina's role in helping the group create a logo:
AC, you flatter me! You make me feel powerful...mysterious...dangerous. Your fantasies are kind of hot.
Third place in the funny comments was actually a three way tie, and I liked them all, so we'll give you some extra funny this week, presented in no particular order. First up, was an anonymous poster's "open letter"
to Summit Entertainment after their decision to threaten Bath & Bodyworks over its Twilight Woods product.
Dear Summit Entertainment:
You do not own the word "twilight" in every instance it is ever used. We understand that you are protective of your exploitative, sexist, often disturbing series of books/films (which happen to feature one of the most unromantic "romances" in the history of creative expression). However, that paranoid protectionism does not give you the right to claim complete ownership of a word that has existed well before anyone who ever worked for your company was ever born. Please cease your idiocy, or we may be forced to regard you as being one of the least intelligent media companies of the 21st Century.
Every intelligent, free-thinking person on the planet (in other words, everyone who isn't a Twilight fan)
Next up, another anonymous commenter, responding to the story of the guy who was arrested for a Facebook comment in Zimbabwe. The commenter noted the oddity
of the charges against the guy. The government noted that the guy was charged with "advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means," leading the commenter to realize the implication here:
Oh, so it was just a procedure he failed to follow...? Yeesh.
And... finally, we've got ChurchHatesTucker's
response to NY Times executive editor Bill Keller's bizarre claim that in Somalia (where real
piracy exists), they would undoubtedly refer to news aggregation as "piracy." CHT pointed out
Turnabout is fair play. I'd be amused if Somalis started aggregating shipping.
That's all for this week... have at it.