by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 29th 2013 9:35am
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 18th 2013 12:19am
from the motive-limited dept
Basically, Manning's legal team won't be able to raise his motives for most of the charges, though they will be able to raise motives during any sentencing. They will be able to raise motives, narrowly focused, on the question of whether or not he was "aiding the enemy" and to show that he was not "dealing with the enemy." That's at least a small step in the right direction. However, there are multiple other charges where he cannot raise his motive -- including charges around whether or not he had "good faith" in releasing the documents and that he "wrongfully and wantonly caused to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the United States government." Basically, the judge is saying that those charges require an objective standard, rather than Manning's specific viewpoint.
The other issue that Manning's team appears to have lost on was their desire to show the lack of harm from all of the leaks. The court ruled that this really doesn't matter in the trial, because it's all after the fact, and Manning did not know beforehand the results and whether or not it resulted in harm. Of course, part of Manning's defense is that he chose documents that would not cause harm on purpose -- but the judge apparently disagreed.
All in all, this definitely increases the likelihood that Manning will lose in court.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 3rd 2012 7:21am
from the judges-as-art-critics dept
This is the truly horrifying part. Whether or not you appreciate the work, clearly some people do like it.
And, yet, that's what we have here. While the case is on appeal, the NY Times recently ran a pretty good overview of the case, and highlighted why the art world is paying so much attention to it. Especially for a younger generation, building new works of art on works that came before seems totally natural. It's a good thing:
“For the generation that I spend my days with, there’s not even any ideological baggage that comes along with appropriation anymore,” said Stephen Frailey, an artist whose work has used appropriation and who runs the undergraduate photography program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. “They feel that once an image goes into a shared digital space, it’s just there for them to change, to elaborate on, to add to, to improve, to do whatever they want with it. They don’t see this as a subversive act. They see the Internet as a collaborative community and everything on it as raw material.”What you begin to realize is that, like the wider copyright battle, to some extent this is a "generational" thing. And I don't mean that totally as an "age" thing. There are plenty of "older" people who understand these issues (or who create works via appropriation), just as there are some younger copyright maximalists. But, in general, this does seem like a generational thing, where you have generations of people who simply find the process of building on the works of art completely natural, and those who don't.
At the same time the tools for mining and remolding those mountains of raw material are proliferating. In November a developer and a designer introduced an iPad art app called Mixel, aimed at amateurs but certain to end up in artists’ studios. It allows users to grab images from the Web or elsewhere, collage them almost effortlessly and then pass them around, social media style, for appreciation or re-mixing.
One of its creators, Khoi Vinh, a former design director of NYTimes.com, has been surprisingly frank when asked about the tsunami of copyright problems such an idea stirs up. “This is really a case of, you have to do it, try it and ask for forgiveness later,” he said to an interviewer. “Otherwise it would never get out there.”
But the part that really troubles me about these discussions is a rather simple point about fair use: if the new work does not, in any way, harm the original work, it's seems positively insane to me to think that it shouldn't be seen as fair use. This point is made by Prince's lawyers:
Joshua Schiller, Mr. Prince’s appeals lawyer from the firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, said the boundary is whether a new work of art results from the borrowing. And he argued that it was clear that Mr. Prince had made parts of Mr. Cariou’s pictures into distinctive Richard Prince works, not just copy them to pass them off as his own and deprive Mr. Cariou of his livelihood. Whether the work was successful and whether Mr. Prince’s intentions were interesting or even explainable can be left to debate. But the primary intention was to create a work of art, Mr. Schiller said, and that is the kind of creativity the law seeks to encourage.I'm still waiting for someone (anyone!) to give me a compelling explanation for why it's a problem in any way, shape or form, if the new work does nothing to take away from the old work. In fact, in cases like this, it's easy to argue that the new work, since it came from a much more well known and successful artist, likely drew much more attention to the original work, thereby raising that artist's profile and stature.
“This is not piracy,” he said. “These are not handbags.”
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 28th 2011 10:26am
from the freedom-of-expression dept
In this case, despite plenty of other lawsuits that found appropriation art to be legal, the judge ruled that this is infringing, leading many to predict a pretty massive shakeup in the modern art world, where this kind of appropriation art has become pretty common. What strikes me as most troubling is that the judge's decision appears to rest mainly on what the artist's stated intent was in creating these paintings, and deciding that since he was neither commenting on the original works nor the subjects of the images, it's no longer a protected fair use. That seems questionable. Why should the intent of the artist matter one way or the other? As law professor Peter Friedman notes in the link above:
What was Jackson Pollock's purpose in painting Lavender Mist? Van Gogh’s in painting The Irises? Haven’t we accepted by now the limitations focus on artistic intention would impose on our appreciation of art?One take away from this is that any time an artist is sued, they should just insist that the artwork they created was "commenting" on the original work, even if it wasn't. But why is that the standard? The fair use standard doesn't say anything about intent, and judging the true intent of an artist seems like a really dangerous game. Some, like Charlie Finch, are pointing out how this is a dangerous slippery slope under which judges are determining the value of artwork:
Judge Batts implied a kind of slippery slope by observing that Prince had not cut up or sectioned Cariou's pictures sufficiently, making an observer wonder whether a Mimmo Rotella standard of radical pictorial transformation would be the minimum standard for fair use.The reality is that the judge here seems to have gone beyond what fair use has said in the past, in creating this new standard. As Greg Allen warns this is a massive limiting of fair use:
Either way, having a judge as an interpreter of the meaning of art remains Kafkaesque: we can trot out the entire oeuvre of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and a thousand other artists as violators of Judge Batts' standard.
If it stands, it would have major, sweeping, and stifling effects.That last point is also notable. It wasn't just Prince who was sued, but also the art gallery that displayed his works, which was found guilty of direct infringement for displaying and selling the works, and then also found guilty of vicarious and contributory infringement because it "had the right and ability (and perhaps even responsibility) to ensure that Prince obtained licenses." That seems like a pretty big stretch as well.
Not only would the current operating assumptions of fair use and transformative use be ratcheted way back, but the contemporary art world would be turned upside down. It would restrict both how artists appropriate, or even refer to, copyrighted work. And it would turn galleries into copyright police, with an affirmative responsibility to clear images, sources, and references for the work they show and sell.
In the end, I'm sure people will stick up for this ruling because they don't think what Richard Prince did was very good or particularly artistic. Yet, clearly, many in the art world disagree with you, as his paintings sell for extraordinarily high prices. And, in the end, shouldn't that be the determining factor? If people are willing to consider this artwork and pay for it as artwork, then what's the problem? On top of that, it seems like Cariou should have been able to capitalize on this attention himself, increasing the value of his own work.
And... speaking of Cariou's work... one question I have in all of this is how much is Cariou paying the Rastafarians that he photographed? After all, isn't he making use of their works as well? Either way, Prince has made it clear that he's appealing and has hired some powerhouse lawyers to help him out. Of course, he had to appeal quickly, because under the original ruling, all of his paintings at issue in this lawsuit were to be destroyed.
As a final word, however, I'm going to quote a chunk of copyright lawyer Ray Dowd's analysis, in which he worries about what this means for art:
Others are delighted at Prince's discomfiture. I am troubled. Fine art, truly fine art in an art gallery, is a place where a copyrighted work becomes a fetish object, a tribute, a decontextualized thing revealing a new meaning. The urinal of Marcel Duchamp. The Brillo Box of Andy Warhol. Both utilitarian objects made by others and fetishized by the artists.You should click through to read the entire Dowd piece, which includes multiple images to back up what he has to say. In the end, his point is really the key one: no one is being harmed here. No one is being fooled. Art is a form of speech, and even if you personally don't think much of it, or are upset about how the artist goes about it, is that really something for a court to decide?
And look at L.H.O.O.Q. - nothing original in the execution, but the Mona Lisa was in the public domain at the time. Prince is blatantly stealing. Plagiarists take the words of others and try to make you believe that they have crafted them. But Prince's cutouts from advertising, porn and outlaw biker magazines never misled the consumer.
But somewhere, something bothers me about shutting a highly respected fine artist down completely and burning his works when the first sale doctrine would permit him to buy a copy, modify it and resell it. When the First Amendment lets even repulsive speech be heard and the contemporary art world says it is art, I have a problem with the government burning it.
To me, an original work of fine art properly labeled as such by a new artist is almost pure speech - or in some way pure idea - even if it includes major appropriations. Things change when the artwork is widely reproduced. When the consumers are paying tens of thousands for Prince to take something no one is interested in, put his spin on it, and add value. Prince's "appropriation" added ten million dollars worth of value to a pile of books. Everyone knew he didn't create the original.
This is not a question of consumers being defrauded, these are wealthy ultrasophisticates on the cutting edge who are the purchasers - surrounded by the top art advisers and critics -if these people feel that Prince's value added is that great, what is the harm in letting them indulge, as long as Prince legally purchased the original books? In fact, Prince's prices will probably soar - scarcity and scandal drive art prices up.
In the context of music, we were just discussing how an appropriation artist like "Kutiman" was creating new artwork by pulling from YouTube. And, even some of the staunchest copyright defenders in our comments said what he was doing was fine, trying to distinguish his "creative" appropriation with "consumptive" appropriation by others. Well, here's another case of "creative" appropriation. So why isn't it allowed?
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 10th 2010 8:02pm
from the oh-come-on dept
Google is going to end up getting in trouble around the globe for this. There's little doubt of that. Google haters are using this opportunity to attack the company. But the more you actually look at what the company did, the less troubling it is. If someone really did have "criminal intent" to snarf data on open WiFi networks (and there certainly are some folks who do have such criminal intent) they would have done a hell of a lot more than they actually did. Driving around, collecting little snippets of information is about the worst way to get anything useful off of a WiFi network like that. Again, Google never should have done this, but attacking Google for this, without recognizing that there are actual criminals who do much worse on open WiFi networks all the time is pretty bizarre. It's just an excuse to attack Google.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 2nd 2009 4:38pm
from the how-many-felonies-have-you-committed-today? dept
Indeed, the WSJ just had an opinion piece all about the how modern technology has made accidental criminals out of all of us, based on the new book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. As you can probably guess, the thesis of the book is that modern technology, combined with an increasingly confusing, misunderstood or just downright ridiculous set of laws, means that everyone is committing felonies all the time, entirely without meaning to do so. In the opinion piece, it's argued that we really need to bring back the "intent to commit a crime" requirement, as it would put an end to a lot of these arrests. It makes a lot of sense, which is why it'll probably never happen.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 28th 2008 6:01am
from the a-good-decision dept
While this may seem like a small case, it is quite similar to Viacom's infamous lawsuit against YouTube/Google. Considering that YouTube follows the DMCA's rules in a similar manner to Veoh, this ruling suggests that YouTube is also protected by the DMCA safe harbors, just as many had stated from the beginning. The key issues raised by Io (and also raised by Viacom) is that these sites lose their DMCA safe harbors because they take action on the content, often transcoding the content from one format into flash. However, the judge in the Veoh case trashed that argument pretty easily:
Here, Veoh has simply established a system whereby software automatically processes user-submitted content and recasts it in a format that is readily accessible to its users. Veoh preselects the software parameters for the process from a range of default values set by the third party software... But Veoh does not itself actively participate or supervise the uploading of files. Nor does it preview or select the files before the upload is completed. Instead, video files are uploaded through an automated process which is initiated entirely at the volition of Veoh's usersThe folks over at Google are, understandably, pretty happy about this ruling, which confirms their position that YouTube is protected: "It is great to see the Court confirm that the DMCA protects services like YouTube that follow the law and respect copyrights."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 13th 2008 3:33am
from the not-this-again dept
But, more importantly, the focus should be on the overall intent of the law beyond just the specific scenarios on the mind of those who wrote it. Even if it's true that those who crafted the language weren't "thinking" about websites when they wrote it, the intent of the safe harbor is clear, and it should apply to websites as well as network providers. Why? Because the whole point of safe harbors was to make sure liability was properly applied to those who actually infringed, rather than an easy-to-target company. That it was the network providers who raised this concern in the first place doesn't mean that the same thinking wouldn't apply to websites as well. And, on top of that, while the safe harbors of the CDA (for things like defamation) haven't been harmonized with the DMCA's safe harbors -- the purposes are nearly identical, and the courts have granted extremely wide coverage of the CDA safe harbors, so there's no reason to think that they wouldn't apply the same broad interpretation to the DMCA as well.