Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the words-of-wisdom dept

It was only a short news update, but nevertheless an important milestone: Iceland's supreme court upheld the ruling that ordered Visa to start processing payments for Wikileaks again. In that post, we asked how long it would take for US diplomatic pressure to start changing Iceland's attitude, and Karl's answer became our most insightful comment of the week:

Hopefully long enough such that Wikileaks can recoup its operational costs... and continue practicing the free speech ideals that the U.S. is merely preaching.

From a short news update to a longer more generalized post, our second most insightful comment comes courtesy of Josh in CharlotteNC, who refuses to undergo the Copyright Lobotomy:

I wholeheartedly agree. I made a decision a long time ago to use my mind to its fullest whenever I could. I'm not going to cover my eyes and pretend we don't live in a world where nearly everyone could have access to nearly every bit of culture and every idea for very little cost. We do live in that world now, and thinking anything less is exactly that: stupid.

For the editor's choice comments, we look to the important ruling that came out this week, declaring much of Richard Prince's appropriation art to be fair use. There was a lot of discussion in the comments about whether or not artists should ask for permission to use the work of others, and I wanted to highlight two excellent responses to the question "why not just ask?"

The first comes from an anonymous commenter:

Yes, it really is that hard to ask permission. Creativity is "of the moment" and if you waste time finding the name of the person who did the photo or whatever you're basing your work on, trying to find a phone number or email address or snail mail address to somehow contact them, then asking, then waiting patiently for the person you've asked to eventually get back to you and not bothering to act on your impulse because you might not get permission so it will all be a waste of time, you've lost the creative spark. And anyway, artists, who are usually rebels at heart, have never before had to do this asking permission thing that our current "Mother, May I?" society seems to be moving towards in all of human history, so it does seem to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery to suddenly demand that asking permission must part of the creative process.

Yes, let's look at Weird Al, I do love the guy, but he runs into vexing problems with permission all the time: an artist will suddenly made believe he didn't give permission because of embarrassment (Amish Paradise), or a well-meaning agent or assistant of a famous star tell him he's going to ask and then not bother to ask, then tell him she said "no" (there was a very annoying bit of a brouhaha with a Lady Gaga song where Al released the song without permission and only got permission when she heard it later.) Also, Weird Al is famous and 99.9% of all artists are not famous at all and will get the brush-off and completely ignored from the very first "may I?" on.

Plus, sometimes people who are established believe, true or false, that it is not in their financial interests to encourage very talented people who are NOT established, and established artists refusing to give permission for works that have entered the culture and pinged with talented people is a great way to stagnate your culture. If American artists had refused to let the Beatles creatively work off of American songs, we'd have had no British invasion. Conversely, if the Beatles had refused to let American and other British artists creatively work off of their songs, we'd have had no great music revolution of the 60s. If Paramount had clamped down on the fans who gave conventions and wrote fanfiction in the early 70s (as I'm totally sure they'd have done in today's legalistic climate), there'd have been no great Star Trek cash cow for them to milk to this day. Because nobody asked nobody for permission back then, they just *DID THINGS* and everybody prospered.

So that is what's wrong with getting permission. And if an artist is denied, moving on to something else can be a problem, because sometimes creativity drives itself, and it's going to get expressed one way or another, with or without permission.

And the second comes from Malsperanza:

There's a long, nuanced and interesting answer to this question. Much of it is contained in the amicus brief attached to the appeal, which is well worth reading.

The short answer is:

a) Artists who do ask are often denied permission. Copyright was never meant to be used as a tool of censorship, or to suppress other, new creativity, but that's what happens.

b) "Steal" is a loaded and inaccurate term. Since the beginning of time artists have used, reused, modified, and built upon one another's work. To use the famous example of Manet's Olympia, the painting could not exist without Titian; Titian in turn "stole" from both Raphael and Raimondi; and Raimondi "stole" from an unknown classical Roman sculptor. That's how creativity works. It cannot function in a vacuum. It cannot thrive in a permissions culture.

Of course, the real question is not why they shouldn't get permission, but why they should. Speech should be as free as possible by default.

On the funny side, we start out with the story of how 1-800-CONTACTS is using the patent system to kill an innovative start up. An anonymous commenter takes first place with a quick quip in response:

You could say that the CEO is being...

Incredibly short-sighted.

For second place, we head back to the Richard Prince ruling, where another anonymous commenter laid down the law:

Artists shouldn't steal from other artists, ever. All artwork should be 100% original, all the time, or else art will surely die.

And I should know because I'm a lawyer.

For editor's choice on the funny side, first we head to the news that Germany's Deutsche Telekom is tossing net neutrality out the window by throttling competing video and voice products on its network. Yet another anonymous commenter connected this with some other recent news:

Next Headline: Google announces its fiber service is moving into Berlin.

And finally, we circle back to the 1-800-PATENTSCONTACTS post and give one more nod to Josh in CharlotteNC for a classic passage from a classic story, perfectly deployed. In response to the point being raised that the patent has been available to review since 2006, Josh nicely summed up just how much that's worth with some help from Douglas Adams:

"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a flashlight."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

That's all for this week. See you tomorrow, and until then, don't panic.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    this was interesting 'Visa to start processing payments' when just as quick, Paypal has stopped payments and froze assets of BitTorrent proxy provider GT Guard, the reason stated is the affiliation with BitTorrent. i was unaware that Bittorrent was illegal, so correct me if i am wrong. regardless of the legal status of Bittorent, how come Paypal is behaving like the USA entertainment industries police force? what encouragement have they had to perform this task? what right have they got to now refuse a business that has been using a service with no issues for some time? this stinks of the usual entertainment industries ploy. start with a small company (450 users) that will have a financial problem if it has to defend itself in court, win against the small company (default judgement, maybe), then use it as a precedent to get all proxie and VPN services closed down. the collateral damage done to businesses will be substantial, even catastrophic, but the entertainment industries have never given a toss over who was hurt previously as long as they get what they want! even worse, the US government will let it happen!!

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 3:59pm

    But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

    Sheer fact, and by itself dispenses with your supposed insights.

    Another fact is that we've MANY choices today, aren't stuck gawking at a couple pieces of marble. -- We all have TOO MANY choices to more than skim.

    NO ONE has or would ever complain about the LACK of this guy's Prince's, er, output: heck, you wouldn't even know about it except that Mike used it for another attack on the copyright that works everyday!

    Maybe problem is you don't have a popular product, or don't know people who can cross-promote. Ask Mike for advice (as I have, without answer) on how to get noticed: anyone who (allegedly) makes a living off dull (and usually triviallly wrong) re-writes ought to let the rest of us in on the secret.

     

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      Beech, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 5:48pm

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      "But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture"."

      Well, using an argument from the pro-IP handbook "it's not that we're not thriving/making money, but imagine how much more we could be making if it weren't for X" It's not like me copy/pasting one Justin Timberlake song to my sister is going to make his new album unprofitable, but it will be LESS profitable than if my sister bought her own copy. It's not that culture isn't doing great with all this legalistic suing and "permissionism" going on, but perhaps, just perhaps, it's doing less great with it than it would be otherwise.

      " We all have TOO MANY choices to more than skim."

      1) Huh?
      2) All i get out of that is "too many choices" to which i say, HA. Is your argument seriously that we've got just soo much entertainment we need to dial it back? I'd take the "problem" of having too many great artists to sort through over the problem of not having enough ANY DAY.

      "NO ONE has or would ever complain about the LACK of this guy's Prince's, er, output"

      Same could be said of anything. "No one would complain about the internal combustion engine if it had never been invented." "No one would complain about the lack of television if it had never been invented." "No one would complain about the lack of (insert name of TV show/movie here) if it never existed." How you gonna complain about something if it never was and you had no way of knowing that somehow that thing could have been?

      "eck, you wouldn't even know about it except that Mike used it for another attack on the copyright that works everyday!"
      So, you're saying that using copyright to censor this guy was a BAD idea that only ended up giving MORE exposure to a body of work that otherwise could very well have been lost to obscurity? Maybe filing the lawsuit was one hell of a dumbass idea then.

      "Maybe problem is you don't have a popular product, or don't know people who can cross-promote. Ask Mike for advice (as I have, without answer) on how to get noticed: anyone who (allegedly) makes a living off dull (and usually triviallly wrong) re-writes ought to let the rest of us in on the secret."

      1) Again, huh?
      2) So if these "rewrites" or mashups are mediocre and inferior to the original, why does anyone need copyright to stop them? If piracy is making it SOOO hard to sell even a great song, then what chance does a mediocre rewrite have? Wouldn't the economy phase out any threat to the superior work anyway?

       

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      Shadow Dragon (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 6:03pm

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      *yawn* You bore me,Mr. Tin Foil Hat Weirdo seeking attention because you nothing to do.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 6:39pm

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      Many doctors are thriving in the current "disease" culture. We should never look for cures for diseases. It only helps Big Pharmacy.

      Don't you care about those starving pathogens?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 11:38pm

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      Of course a lot of the works being produced are being made DESPITE permission culture


      The mere existance of many of my favorite works is illegal because of permission culture.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:06am

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      The 'permissions culture' means that there is a fascist control over culture, big corporations have too much say in what can be published.

       

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      Ninja (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:29am

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      As opposed to the many that are being harmed (and I'm not even talking about file sharing) either by being denied permission or by being sued because of it. Which many is bigger? I'm inclined to think it's not yours.

      Ask Mike for advice (as I have, without answer) on how to get noticed

      And you have the guts of telling he never answered after all the several examples this blog gave just last year alone? Ah wait, you don't read the articles. Maybe Mike just scratches his head when he sees your sheer stupidity and lack of willingness to read the articles properly and ignores you? Or are you the spoiled brat that needs a personal reply to feel satisfied despite the answers being everywhere around you?

       

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        The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

        out_of_the_blue already admitted that he never reads any replies or responds to them, so it makes sense that he asked Mike but then didn't bother with reading any answer.

         

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      Richard (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 5:26am

      Re: But MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      MANY people ARE thriving in the current "permissions culture".

      Many people thrived in the Third Reich. Now, what was your point?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 4:43pm

    Re "perfectly deployed", I guess a search online is beyond the capability of one who works online.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 8:22pm

    It is not all that hard to ask permission. It is hard to swallow the fact that you might actually have to pay. "Zero" seems so much better and "culture-promoting".

     

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    Jesse (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 8:55pm

    "Hopefully long enough such that Wikileaks can recoup its operational costs... and continue practicing the free speech ideals that the U.S. is merely preaching."

    The U.S. government only protects free speech that doesn't bother them, such as racist speech and homophobic speech. That's when the 1st amendment really shines. But don't even think about saying anything that might be embarrassing to a U.S. official.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    Culture was created, shared, enjoyed and adapted in a beautiful cycle for millennia before copyright came along. This 'permission culture' is a 20th century concept and it is bad for culture, bad for society and bad for economies.

    We need to dial back on this intellectual property bullshit before it is too late.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:33am

      Re:

      Sort of the 20th/21th century Dark Ages of culture eh? The bright side is that we have the intertubes and culture is thriving despite of this idiocy.

       

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    cheryl smith, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 4:45am

    i Still dont get whats so hard in asking for permission??

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 5:22am

      Re:

      Finding out who to ask is often difficult. Also, while it may be easy for you to ask, replying is a different problem when having to deal with many requests. Silence or no is the cheapest way of responding, as these are the options available to a junior staff member sorting the mail.

       

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      JMT (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 6:15am

      Re:

      Well it's been explained many times, and is not difficult to understand, so the problem here might be you...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      Other tha the fact it's an additional and uneeeded hinderace to creativity?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re:

        "Yes, I would like to use part of your work to make fun of it, is that okay? You won't be mad at me if I do, would you? Pretty please? Pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top?"

        That's one daring artist.

         

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          Alana (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 4:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "That's one daring (giant corporation copyright hoarding all the rights getting hundreds and thousands of requests they'll never answer because there's no money and that's all they're interested in instead of culture)"

          FTFY.

           

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      dennis deems (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 10:15am

      Re:

      i Still dont get whats so hard in asking for permission??

      Please watch this interview with filmmaker Nina Paley:
      http://archive.org/details/QuestionCopyright.org_Nina_Paley_Sita_Interview_2008_11_06

      In a nutshell: 1. it can be incredibly difficult to determine who are the interested parties because copyright can change hands and can be divided into portions; 2. it can be challenging even to determine if a work is controlled by copyright in the first place; 3. Large publishers ignore inquiries from independent artists; 4. Hiring the lawyers necessary to engage the publishers is expensive; 5. they wanted an average of 20,000 dollars per song for mechanical licensing of works whose authors are long dead and that should have entered public domain in the 1980's.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 11:19am

      Re:

      For an example of how hard it can be, just Google a bit about the Linux Kernel and how hard it would be to update its license from GPL v2 to GPL v3 (something which, some would argue, is desirable, even if Linus doesn't want to).

      In a nutshell, you'd have to get permission from EVERY SINGLE PERSON that has ever contributed to the Kernel, or rewrite what you can't attribute from scratch.

      Pure madness.

       

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    Hopponit, May 6th, 2013 @ 11:04pm

    Germany

    "For editor's choice on the funny side, first we head to the news that Germany's Deutsche Telekom is tossing net neutrality out the window by throttling competing video and voice products on its network. Yet another anonymous commenter connected this with some other recent news:

    Next Headline: Google announces its fiber service is moving into Berlin." Actually that sounds like a really,really GOOD idea. It sure would stir the fog a bit, maybe they would suddenly see past their noses.

     

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