Jon Reiss' Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the cwf+rtb dept

Besides being a filmmaker (mostly documentaries on graffiti Bomb It and Bomb It 2 and electronic music Better Living Through Circuitry) I also write about and work with filmmakers on new methods of audience engagement aka distribution and marketing. I'm a huge fan of Mike's CWF+RTB (Connect with Fans, Give them a Reason to Buy)=$ (which I often rewrite as the not-as-catchy CWF+RTB=Goals – since many filmmakers are not primarily driven by making money but might perhaps want to change the world) and I refer to it frequently in my workshops. Techdirt's coverage of alternative ways for artists to make a living in the new digital economy is what drew me to start reading the site in the first place.

Beside the NSA imbroglio (which I refer to below) there were a number interesting and thought provoking CWF+RTB=$ posts this week:

First were two opposing artist views on the role of digital distribution. The first "Author Claims that Fair Use is Theft By Any Other Name" by Masnick is a wonderful dissection of author Linda Jaivin's article Long Story Short: Fair Use is Theft By Any Other Name. He deftly points out that Jaivin liberally builds off of other content creator's work to promote (via her title) and create (via her research) her own content without providing them compensation. I especially liked this closing paragraph:
Copyright law has never been about "protecting against theft." It has always been about an incentive for creation such that the public can benefit. And, along those lines, in the US we've long recognized that fair use plays a key role in that, allowing people to increase the amount of creation by being able to build on, transform, comment on, criticize, etc. the works of others. No one is arguing for the wholesale copying of works, or the eradication of copyright here. They're just saying that the ability to freely quote a small passage for a reasonable purpose shouldn't require a license -- and that makes tremendous sense. In fact, it makes it that much more likely that people will become aware of her works."
I would like to add a few points to Masnick's argument here: (1) At least in the United States there are specific guidelines for "fair use" which protect the copyright owner, but also artists who want to use fair use content. It is spurious at best to compare "fair use" with file sharing (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the latter). More importantly... (2) If Javin is concerned about making a living – she should open her eyes to new opportunities for artists where some sharing of ones creative work will not harm you, but will create an audience for you.

Javin states "The thought that the books, articles and lectures I write on the subject of China may make a contribution to Australia's "Asia literacy" makes me happy." What she should realize is that all of her activities should not just make her happy, but are ways to build audience and then to monetize from that growing audience. If she would CWF, she would be able to charge more for her lectures, have more demand as an educator (in whatever form that takes) and be able to sell copies of her books and articles, despite any sharing that might happen. There are strategies to create special editions, window physical copies if so desired, create special experiences that she could take advantage of. I talk about some of these strategies in a recent series of posts I am writing: "How to Make Money in the Age of Abundance"

This brings me to: Writer of Daredevil Comics: Equating Piracy with Lost Sales is Baloney by Tim Cushing. In this piece Cushing reports that Mark Waid, the creator of Daredevil and the owner of his own comic distribution platform Thrillbent has experienced a growth in his business by not fighting piracy, but by intelligently using the motivations and desires of his audience to monetize his platform's content. First he allows fans to "stream" and download content from his sight for free. This serves two functions:
  • He gets to control the quality of the content.
  • He can bring traffic to his site by offering more content.
I explored one comic series on Thrillbent.com which offered one chapter for free download, another "streaming" and three for sale at a low price of $0.99. From Mark Waid's blog announcing their new store: "Weekly CBZ files are still free to download for now, but buying the PDFs gives you exclusive bonus content designed specifically for each comic, including new covers, clickable hotlinks, behind-the-scenes essays and art, and more." What is most important about this strategy: By giving content to their fans, Thrillbent is not only creating a direct relationship with their fans but crucially, allows them to communicate with the company.

In contrast to Thillbent is EA Games who seem determined to piss off as many fans as possible as reported in EA Sued for Shutting Down Online Games Too Quickly by Tim Geigner. Instead of cultivating fans and figuring out ways to increase their value to them, EA seems to be taking the opposite approach, decreasing their value to their audience by cutting off access to online games after a short period of time, even though a fan may have paid a substantial sum for the game.

A related post under the category of How to Piss Of As Many Fans As Possible is another post by Geigner Just Kidding, Square Enix Still Hates Its Biggest Fans. Seems that a group of Final Fantasy VII fans sought to crowdfund for a fan fiction webseries based on the popular game. Geigner reports that the owner of the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix, successfully filed a takedown against the Kickstarter campign for the series. He argues that Square Enix should play fair when they knew this project was happening and not wasted the fan/creator's time. However, the filmmakers post on their Facebook page: "Those of you that were under the impression that we cleared this with Square - we've been pretty open that we had elements within the company's divisions that supported our efforts, but that tacit approval did not equal legal go-ahead." They state that they are trying to get official approval from Square Enix – who have actually not shut down the fan's official site (in Square Enix's defense, this is something any US film studio would have done immediately).

Based on their Kickstarter appeal video -- which is still available on their Facebook page -- I think that the FF VII Webseries made some critical errors in their Kickstarter campaign. Their video (and their Facebook page) does not present themselves first and foremost as FANS – instead they present themselves as a potentially competing company "Shinra Productions LLC". They then proceed to use a huge amount of FF VII images with a corporate sounding voice over extolling the success of FF VII. It is many minutes into their (overly long) appeal video before we meet the filmmakers, who do not talk directly to us the audience – but to an off screen interviewer. (This approach not only lacks authenticity, but also makes them appear as some corporate entity trying to appropriate another corporate entities IP. The filmmakers should have been on camera from the beginning of the appeal video explaining THEIR enthusiasm for FF and why they HAVE to make this film as tribute to FF. Next they should have explained WHY they are crowdfunding – and why again it is a tribute to FF and to all the fans. This might (not guaranteed) have resulted in softer treatment from Square Enix. Authenticity is crucial to CWF. People are usually investing in you the artist, not the project. To come across as another slick company is not going to engender much fan enthusiasm. Especially for crowdfunding you MUST CWF before you can RTB=$.

No self respecting Techdirt Favorites roundup for this week could leave out a reference to how the NSA can collect nearly any internet activity worldwide without prior authorization. So much has been written about the NSA that I am not going to comment on that specifically. Instead I want to use this as an opportunity to comment on CWF in relationship to Barack Obama. Obama was brilliant in his 2008 campaign, engaging a mass of people to elect a relatively unknown young politician to the Presidency (no less a black politician in a country still torn by issues of race). However I was stunned to see in after the 2008 and 2012 elections, that Obama promptly stopped engaging with his fans. He shut himself up in the Oval office using his massive email and social media engine seemingly (as I was a recipient of it) to continually ask for more money. He could have engaged this activated millions but demurred to tragic results. He has continually allowed others to define his presidency and the issues. Worse he seems to have abandoned so many of his fans in numerous issues ranging from the foreclosure crisis, drone attacks, Guantanamo, job security and now spying on the world. The NSA "scandal" would have caused massive protests in a pre-Google advertising world. It seems that our population is so inured to corporations trading in our private lives that who but a few care if the government joins in.

If you are interested in anything that I talk about or any of my work – I am currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Bomb It 2 which has a bunch of fun perks including Shepard Fairey designed stickers, posters and t-shirts to the robotic antics of the notorious Survival Research Laboratories. Feel free to criticize my own Kickstarter appeal video – or my video flubs reel.

Jon Reiss is filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and media strategist who works with filmmakers, companies and organizations to help them utilize the most recent techniques of direct film distribution and audience engagement.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    RD, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    Small correction

    Just a small correction. Mark Waid is not the *creator* of Daredevil. That honor goes to Stan Lee. He is just the recent/current writer of it.

     

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  2.  
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    Jon Reiss, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Correction

    Noted! Thanks!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    "Dissection" presupposes that the dissector has significantly familiarity with the subject of the dissection. In the article concerning fair use he fails to exhibit any familiarity with current Australian copyright law and its "fair dealing" provisions.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Re:

    You were wrong the last time you brought up this deflection. Points for persistence, though!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Points appreciated, but they do not change the fact that the article critical of Ms. Jaivin's commentary lacks any substantial foundation in Australian law. Mr. Masnick should take at least a modest amount of time to review the US and Australian legal regimes before launching off on yet another rant against an author with whose views he happens to disagree.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Care to point out the differences?

    Because from what I can read in my limited cursory search, fair dealing in Australia seems to be even more permissive than in the US.

    The University of Melbourne: Copyright Office - Fair Dealing

    Aside from that, Mr. Masnick criticized Ms.(Mrs?) Jaivin's rationale not the law, by pointing out incongruences in that lady's statements. Which seems by the way very convincing, she used the work of others for free, she didn't paid anything for it, she didn't ask for permissions, she didn't had to deal with moral rights and all because of the fair dealing doctrine, then she turns around and say that others doing the same thing are thieves?

    Common even you can see that there is something wrong don't you?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In less words.

    When Ms Jaivin procure material for her work is research when others do it is theft.

    That basically surmise what she expend 26 lines and 774 words to say.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, and your point does not address anything of importance. The commentary being discussed did not deal with the specific details of fair use vs. fair dealing or US copyright law vs. Australian copyright law. "Dissecting" that commentary did not require delving into those details, because they were not brought up in the first place.

    On an unrelated note, I am impressed that you can get around in life being perpetually condescending. It must take some skill.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 9:59pm

    Re:

    "Dissection" presupposes that the dissector has significantly familiarity with the subject of the dissection. In the article concerning fair use he fails to exhibit any familiarity with current Australian copyright law and its "fair dealing" provisions.

    Ah, it's you. You have a way of being incredibly condescending, smug and pedantic all at the same time -- while almost always being factually incorrect. As you are this time. First, I'm quite familiar with the current Australian status of copyright, as well as the ongoing discussions concerning copyright reform in Australia. I've actually been talking to a few of the people involved (and even found that article when someone who is involved passed it along to me, asking for my thoughts).

    Second, Ms. Jaivin's piece did not discuss "fair use vs. fair dealing" but rather said, directly, that "fair use is theft" and made spurious and, frankly, silly arguments concerning her belief that she must get paid for every use, even in educational settings.

    I've suggested multiple times to you in the past that when you make your many, many false assumptions -- and I then call you on it -- that you admit your error and apologize. As per your standard operating procedure, I fully expect that you will not do so. However, as you can see from all the other comments here, no one is buying what you're selling.

    That's because, as per usual, you're wrong.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re:

    Your arrogance is exceeded only by your profound sense of self importance as an educator to the masses who happen to follow, and perhaps even hang upon, your every word. It is clear that that you have acquired over time a greater knowledge of certain bodies of law than is typical of those who are not practitioners, but it is also clear that such knowledge falls well short of the mark to even begin to approach the minimum necessary for one to engage in debates that fairly reflect both sides of the issues, and particularly those that demand nuanced discussion.

    The subject you mock in your article does mention in her commentary "fair use", but in so doing does by implication bring into her commentary information relevant to "fair dealing". There are two systems of law here, that defined by subject matter within the provisions of statutory law (Australia), and that defined statutorily by general standards that are not subject matter specific because of their original development through the powers of equity enjoyed by our judiciary. Both serve much the same purpose, but differ in their manner of implementation. Who is to say which is better? You seem absolutely certain that the US approach is the superior one. I, in contrast, see advantages to each, but well realize that within the US a balance must be struck to account for the First Amendment.

    Perhaps your cause would be better served by explicitly recognizing that all issues have multiple sides, explaining those sides, and then expressing your preference and why you believe this to be so. Instead, you simply mock and try to shout down those who dare to dare to differ or who attempt to inject nuance.

    Go ahead. Embark on yet another litany of invective comments and insults. Doing so, however good and superior it may make you feel and bolster your standing with your followers, does not change misinformation you regularly pass along, misinformation that in many (if not most) circumstances reflect a clear bias against any societal rule that may serve to place any burden whatsoever on the idol you worship...technology (and any other considerations be damned).

     

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  11.  
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    Guardian, Aug 4th, 2013 @ 7:41am

    wtf

    one chapter of a comic for a buck, are you fucking crazy....
    no really
    this greed by any means must end and im sorry but hey if your a retard and stupid enough to pay that...you deserve it...
    so a 20 chapter book according to these nuts is 20$ for somehting that might cost .1 cent to download and if you htink 2.7 billion net users will you sell more 1$ books or 20$ books....

    ya BANG
    trust me you hsould interview a friend a mine that has put out 100 books....he actualyl don't mind pirates cause they spread word of his works to those that like a real hard cover copy OR a digital one cause htey can afford too.

    thats the real way and only way forward and when you put 10000 of him onto a site
    you could really do any full book of hundreds a pages for nearly 1-2 bucks with 50% going right to each author and if you really want to cut costs use a private torrent site...free registering and you can buy the book get the torrent and download....
    yippie....

     

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  12.  
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    AC Unknown (profile), Aug 4th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nice ad-homs.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 4th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your arrogance is exceeded only by your profound sense of self importance

    I would suggest that you read some of your comments, which are simply *dripping* with condescending pretension of how smart you are -- and yet you are almost always wrong.

    There are two systems of law here, that defined by subject matter within the provisions of statutory law (Australia), and that defined statutorily by general standards that are not subject matter specific because of their original development through the powers of equity enjoyed by our judiciary. Both serve much the same purpose, but differ in their manner of implementation. Who is to say which is better? You seem absolutely certain that the US approach is the superior one. I, in contrast, see advantages to each, but well realize that within the US a balance must be struck to account for the First Amendment.

    Yes, but you write all of that as if you are totally ignorant of the fact that the ALRC has done a detailed study and has suggested, with detailed explanations, why Australia should move towards a fair use-type system, rather than a fair dealing one. You suggest that I am not knowledgeable for agreeing with this suggestion, and thus you seem to be insulting the entire process and study that the ALRC went through as if THEY don't understand Australian law as well?

    Really?

    Perhaps your cause would be better served by explicitly recognizing that all issues have multiple sides, explaining those sides, and then expressing your preference and why you believe this to be so.

    Hahahahahahahhahah. Really, now? This from the very same person who always always always supports the maximalist side and chooses to insult anyone who disagrees with them in pedantic tones suggesting only you understand the deeper issues, given that you once had a high powered lawyer job?

    Give it a rest.

    Yes, there are multiple sides. That, however, does not mean when I present my opinion that I am ignorant of the other sides, contrary to your ignorant belief that you know what I know.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OMG...I would have never guessed that a shift from "fair dealing" to "fair use" was being proposed in a vacuum. Of course there are studies, recommendations, comments, etc. that inform pros and cons presented to the ALRC, an agency of the Australian government. Jeez...get your head out of your "whatever" and take the time to acknowledge that there are always multiple sides to issues such as this, and to mock one who may have a view that is not as articulately presented as you apparently demand represents a disservice to your readership.

    Cut the "maximalist" crap. It is a meaningless word designed solely to create the impression that there are only two camps concerning patent and copyright law, those who are "enlightened" by advocating what is virtually their wholesale elimination, and those who express positions that do not adopt wholesale your "enlightened" position. Shades of gray abound, but it appears that recognition of such ill serves the bias here.

    Try listening for a change, even going so far as to asking questions to try and understand the foundation for comments that are not in sync with your views.

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 4th, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OMG...I would have never guessed that a shift from "fair dealing" to "fair use" was being proposed in a vacuum.

    Did I suggest otherwise? No.

    Of course there are studies, recommendations, comments, etc. that inform pros and cons presented to the ALRC, an agency of the Australian government.

    Right. But that's not what I said. I was talking about the ALRC's recommendations *after* having gone through all of that, and it proposes moving to a fair use system. Yet, when I wrote a piece supporting that same position you mocked me as uninformed.

    Jeez...get your head out of your "whatever" and take the time to acknowledge that there are always multiple sides to issues such as this, and to mock one who may have a view that is not as articulately presented as you apparently demand represents a disservice to your readership.


    Oh really? Shall I remind you to go back to your original comment in this thread? Who is mocking whom? I would suggest that you were the one who started off this debate by "mocking" someone -- claiming that I was completely uninformed. Now that you've been caught -- yet again -- making a wrong assumption, you're dancing around, rather than admitting you were wrong.

    Cut the "maximalist" crap. It is a meaningless word designed solely to create the impression that there are only two camps concerning patent and copyright law, those who are "enlightened" by advocating what is virtually their wholesale elimination, and those who express positions that do not adopt wholesale your "enlightened" position. Shades of gray abound, but it appears that recognition of such ill serves the bias here.

    If the shoe fits... And, no, maximalist does not suggest there are only two sides. Quite the contrary. It's a recognition that there is a spectrum, and one side -- at the maximalist end is an extreme. It's an extreme position that you have demonstrated you support for the many years you've spent on this site.

    There are plenty of people who I do not consider to be maximalists, but whose views I disagree with on these policies. But when you have demonstrated that you support maximalism, it seems only fair to call you out on it.

    Try listening for a change, even going so far as to asking questions to try and understand the foundation for comments that are not in sync with your views.

    Again, this is funny given that YOU were the one who started this off by mocking me. Let's try this: you first. You stop acting like a condescending asshole who knows every possible thing about what I say, and rather than making pedantic claims about how no one could *possibly* know as much as you, given your decades of service to intellectual property law you actually start making full points to support your position -- then I'll listen to you. Deal?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Shinra corporation is the antagonist corporation in the Final Fantasy VII game, so naming themself that is a similiar to a fan artist naming self Daily Planet and drawing superman fan comic.

    This is a difference with Western and Eastern culture, I believe.
    In Japan, Doujin(Fanwork) of Cartoon, Game and comic character are created constantly and sold at event such as Comiket(200k+ attendee) with the respecitive studie allowing it, because it gives them more audience.

     

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  17.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 6:27am

    Copyright law has ALWAYS been "protecting against theft."

    Mike's assertion to the contrary is simply a convenient lie! Here I'll just post my revised bullet point in counter-assertion:

    ) Copyright law is indeed exactly to prevent TWO types of THEFT (during the limited time): 1) by commercial scale copiers directly profiting 2) by the general public taking the work without rewarding creator. Only creators may make copies or attempt to gain from it during that (limited) period.


    Where Pirate Mike daily proves the value of an economics degree in making facile excuses for theft.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Copyright law has ALWAYS been "protecting against theft."

    Except it wasn't. Copyirght duing the dayds of america's founders was about advancing education.

    many artisting works were not copyrightable during the
    founder's time for exacty this reason.

     

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