Yes Means Yes

from the problems-with-permission-culture dept

Crossposted from ninapaley.com, with apologies for the peevish tone – I really appreciate anyone who copies Sita Sings the Blues, Mimi & Eunice, and any and all of my other works. –NP

Please don’t ask my permission to re-use my work. YOU ALREADY HAVE PERMISSION. Please copy, share, re-use, redistribute, edit, modify, sell, etc.

Asking permission wastes your time, and mine. You might not mind wasting your time. Many people think asking for permission is a “sign of respect.” But what about my time?

Information (including all of my work) is not scarce. Attention (time) is.

Emails get lost in spam filters. They get lost amid the hundreds of other emails in my inbox. I’ve been known to take vacations and actually get away from my computer for a few days – something I should be doing more often. So what happens if you don’t get any response to your permission request? Do you not reuse the work? A work that has been explicitly made Free, in the hope that you will reuse it? Not reusing the work harms the work, and harming a work is disrespectful. Delaying reusing the work likewise harms the work, in smaller increments.

Suppose a “respectful” email asking for permission which has already been explicitly granted doesn’t get caught in a spam filter or lost in some other glitch. Suppose it actualy makes it into my inbox. Now I am obligated to respond – the requester essentially said, “I’m not going to use this work unless you respond.” As “respectful” as this sounds, it places an unfair burden on me. The work, and any use of the work, should not be held hostage pending my checking and responding to email.

It is not “respectful” to make me do more, unnecessary work.

More importantly, asking permission is bad for the work itself. If you refuse to reuse the work unless I send you an email, you are blocking an expression or distribution of the work. How many days or weeks or months are you willing to put it off pending my ability to process email? Or worse, someone thinks it’s “respectful” to require me to sign papers and mail them back. Yes, this happens. I have such paperwork sitting right here, telling me that unless I sign it and mail it back, they won’t use the work they already have explicit permission to use. How is it “respectful” to make me jump through more hoops before they redistribute or remix a work I’ve made explicitly Free?

If you want to show respect, please send me something like this instead:

Dear Nina,

I thought you might like to know I’ve reused _________________  in _________________. Check it out at (insert URL here). Thanks for making the work Free!

Love,
Someone Who Understands Yes means Yes

Ahh, lovely. Thank you!

A complaint I hear often is that nowadays, thanks to the inerwebs, not only do artists “have to give their work away for free” but they also “have to be businessmen.” HA! One goal of freeing my work is to free me of paperwork, contracts, and the role of manager – and what is having to oversee and administrate every re-use but management? In the “Intellectual Property” model, artists either have to do much more negotiating and managing and paperwork, or they have to pay someone else to do it for them. They have to be businessmen, or hire businessmen. And hiring businessmen (agents, lawyers, etc.) still requires much paperwork, negotiating, and contracts.

Some still insist that I’ve “maintained more control” over Sita Sings the Blues. The point is I have maintained no control over it, and that benefits me. The point is I don’t have to be a business(wo)man. The point is that other people, the crowd, distribute the work, and cost me nothing.

As long as they don’t ask for permission.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Yes Means Yes”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
71 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

When it works for less established artists, those less established artists become more established. Then it works for more established artists.

Unless you define more established to mean artists that have been helped by record labels. But when when it works for them, IP maximsits will argue, “but that’s only because they previously received their recognition from the big record labels”.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

We are in a society that has more lawyers than engineers. Much like the IP bubble failure that is beginning to occur. We will soon have the legal bubble bursting. It will be a horrible explosion of badly written briefs, half truths, and paper cuts. Infections from paper cuts will be become lethal as the pharma industry pushes the cost of antibiotics just beyond the reach of the recently unemployed and bloody lawyers. People will cheer and throw parties. Jokes will be told …

Why do dead lawyers smell so bad?
So blind people can hate and avoid them to.

iamtheky (profile) says:

Re: Re: not quite...

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/property/library/moralprimer.html

“Under American Law, moral rights receive protection through judicial interpretation of several copyright, trademark, privacy, and defamation statues, and through 17 U.S.C. ?106A, known as the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990”

am i being misled, or misreading something?

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: not quite...

For the purposes of VARA, visual art includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs, existing in a single copy or a limited edition of 200 signed and numbered copies or fewer.

It would be interesting to try to apply this to digital works.

I’m sure someone is working on doing just that.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Still? Argh, Youtube really screwed up. If only there were adverse consequences for whoever erroneously blocked it there.

This may have more to do with YouTube’s ongoing legal fight with the music collection society in Germany, GEMA. Due to the current legal fight, YouTube has blocked access to *anything* that it determines has music in GEMA’s catalog. If the music in Sita is from GEMA, you’re out of luck, even if it’s properly licensed. Thank GEMA and its ridiculous position on copyright.

Hiiragi Kagami (profile) says:

“More importantly, asking permission is bad for the work itself. If you refuse to reuse the work unless I send you an email, you are blocking an expression or distribution of the work.”
This statement is insulting, Nina. How dare you put upon others they cater to your whims while you EXPRESSLY state these works aren’t meant for “commercial” distribution or impose other “licensing” issues.

Given all the issues TD has posted in the past, some of which you’ve been vocal against, I find this position to be ludicrous, if not unrealistic.

If you’re truly believing your own words: RID YOURSELF OF ALL LICENSES IMMEDIATELY. Then, on the very front page of your website, tell people “Take what you want. I don’t mind and I don’t care how you distribute it, even if you sell DVDs, T-shirt, calendars, post cards, or anything else. Because distribution shouldn’t be limited to just a digital file.”

See. I can play this game too.

Sorry, but this was just… wow.

Nina Paley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

you EXPRESSLY state these works aren’t meant for “commercial” distribution

I expressly encourage commercial use. Over and over. This is Creative Commons branding problem in action, unfortunately. Please read the linked article to see how much trouble CC’s “non-commercial” brand messages causes pro-commerce me – you’re not the only one who thinks all CC licenses have the “non-commercial” (and therefore not Free) restriction.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think Mike covered this a few months ago as well. The need for a CopyLeft symbol.

Cudos Nina for this post and all the work you do.

Suggestion perhaps for a future post on the methods you use with the free distribution to get paid. Off the top of my head I wonder if its just advertising on that all important attention or contracting your services and all the other OR’s that come with an attention business model.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Score one up for being not being aware or being lazy(I think 80/20 in frelled up hindsight.) and not looking in the first place. Very Nice Nina, very nice.

Side thought: Isn’t this ideal for a case study here?

It has been said that Mike is a bit of a pessimist and disappointed seems to be a favorite word when it comes to big button issues so how about a bit of conclusion to the economics of free. It seems to me the discussion of theory and practice seems very thin with notable exceptions.

I think that view stems from not having more bad than good when it comes to stories about distribution, copyrights & of course the inevitable Whats In It For Me society. We may be idealist but an example and proof of success feels dam good. Pride is a virtue!

Hiiragi Kagami (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I expressly encourage commercial use. Over and over.”
Yes, YOU do, but the law does not. This is what YOU do not understand, Nina.

You can say it until you’re blue in the face, but no reputable business is going to take your word for it. You can post it in CC, your website, here on TD, or stand at Times Square using a microphone, but a legitimate business will not touch your works without a written agreement.

Why is this is difficult for you and others to understand? Want to know who takes stuff without asking? Sites who just don’t care.

Take a gander at Mike’s comments when he says he doesn’t care there are TD knock-off sites out there which purposely scrape TD. Now, compare this with those who ask.

I’m betting the latter outweighs the former, and it’s important you understand this.

I get your position, Nina. I do. BUT YOU CAN NOT WAIVE THE LAW JUST BECAUSE YOU SAY SO.

That’s like you stating people can speed 50mph on your front lawn because you own the property. I can absolutely assure you the law will not allow your permission to go without punishment.

As for the CC issue, I should point out I changed my username from R. Miles. I hope you remember I hate CC and its reason for existence solely because it’s nothing more than granting permission for people to speed on their front lawn while ignoring the BIGGER ISSUE the laws create.

So much energy wasted in issues like this.

FIX THE LAW. This action makes circumvention techniques like this irrelevant.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You can post it in CC, your website, here on TD, or stand at Times Square using a microphone, but a legitimate business will not touch your works without a written agreement.

Yeah, i think she gets it, because THAT’S HER POINT. This is a PROBLEM with the law – that creators who wish to give their work away for free are more or less prevented from doing so (or are at least expected to do MORE work than creators who want to exercise control over their creations)

It’s stupid. And artists like Nina who want to open their work up to the world – and who are already jumping through hoops like CC to let them do so – shouldn’t have to then jump through even more hoops to get people to listen to them.

What the hell do you mean by “FIX THE LAW”? Nina is a cartoonist… if an artist doesn’t like copyright law, the best thing they can do is keep creating their art and doing what they can to make it free to the world. Would you rather all our artists give up and become lawyers to focus on fixing laws? Maybe we can have a couple of generations with no art at all, where everyone just becomes a lawyer, and then once they’ve fixed stuff we can go back to being artists again…

I mean really. What exactly are you attacking Nina for here? Because you are being really aggressive about it and I’m having a hard time figuring out what you actually expect from her, or even what your advice is… Don’t make any more cartoons until copyright law is reformed? I for one hope she won’t take that advice…

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you’re truly believing your own words: RID YOURSELF OF ALL LICENSES IMMEDIATELY.

Unfortunately that isn’t really possible. There is more or less no such thing as a public domain dedications in the U.S – there’s just the CC0 license, which is yet another license as opposed to a waiver actually codified in copyright law (which really should exist, but doesn’t)

So without using some sort of open license like ShareAlike, the situation revers back to standard copyright and the assumption of “all rights reserved”. Sure, you could plaster the content with “take what you want” notices, but these carry very little legal weight and would probably make people MORE likely to request written permission.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Did you actually read that document? The very first line under the second section on how copyright abandonment is accomplished:

Neither the current copyright law (Copyright Act of 1976)1 nor
prior law (Copyright Act of 1909)2 contain any provision explicitly
allowing copyright owners to dedicate their works to the public
domain, or explaining how it can be done.

Yes, it then goes on to describe a variety of ways of abandoning copyright that have been recognized by courts in various situations, but none of those methods are clear-cut or set in stone, or provide any sort of legal guarantee until they are actually tested in court – which means many people, especially large businesses like publishers, would not consider them sufficient and would still come seeking an explicit license.

Overcast (profile) says:

Cue “Nina’s not a real artist in 5, 4, 3…

None yet, I’m not surprised though. I’d like to see someone define ‘real art’.

Would that only be art that’s covered by copyright?

Like… the Mona Lisa?

The MOST expensive painting in the world I suspect.. and not a single copyright on it.

But we all know copies are worthless. It has nothing to do with copyright. It’s about Art.

Harrekki (profile) says:

I have no idea who this woman is. But I will be looking up her information and if I like it, spreading it to people I think will like it.

Why? because someone who doesn’t have their thumb up their butt has spoken to the true nature of IP issues. and because she gave me the permission to do so.

You Rock. and I hope you make a ton of money because of your well versed understanding of how you plan to run a proper, alternative to the standard artists mold.

Keith says:

“the requester essentially said, ?I?m not going to use this work unless you respond.? As ?respectful? as this sounds, it places an unfair burden on me. The work, and any use of the work, should not be held hostage pending my checking and responding to email. “

Why respond at all? You already stated that it’s totally free. If they can’t understand that and need a form signed in triplicate then maybe you should deny permission to only that individual for not taking you at your word and wasting your time.(not that you would actually sue them.) It should be no burden to you that their project never gets done because they can’t comprehend that you actually gave the item away. (Don’t even sign that form on your desk.)

Anonymous Coward says:

done!

Please don?t ask my permission to re-use my work. YOU ALREADY HAVE PERMISSION. Please copy, share, re-use, redistribute, edit, modify, sell, etc.

Asking permission wastes your time, and mine. You might not mind wasting your time. Many people think asking for permission is a ?sign of respect.? But what about my time?

Information (including all of my work) is not scarce. Attention (time) is.

Emails get lost in spam filters. They get lost amid the hundreds of other emails in my inbox. I?ve been known to take vacations and actually get away from my computer for a few days ? something I should be doing more often. So what happens if you don?t get any response to your permission request? Do you not reuse the work? A work that has been explicitly made Free, in the hope that you will reuse it? Not reusing the work harms the work, and harming a work is disrespectful. Delaying reusing the work likewise harms the work, in smaller increments.

Suppose a ?respectful? email asking for permission which has already been explicitly granted doesn?t get caught in a spam filter or lost in some other glitch. Suppose it actualy makes it into my inbox. Now I am obligated to respond ? the requester essentially said, ?I?m not going to use this work unless you respond.? As ?respectful? as this sounds, it places an unfair burden on me. The work, and any use of the work, should not be held hostage pending my checking and responding to email.

It is not ?respectful? to make me do more, unnecessary work.

More importantly, asking permission is bad for the work itself. If you refuse to reuse the work unless I send you an email, you are blocking an expression or distribution of the work. How many days or weeks or months are you willing to put it off pending my ability to process email? Or worse, someone thinks it?s ?respectful? to require me to sign papers and mail them back. Yes, this happens. I have such paperwork sitting right here, telling me that unless I sign it and mail it back, they won?t use the work they already have explicit permission to use. How is it ?respectful? to make me jump through more hoops before they redistribute or remix a work I?ve made explicitly Free?

If you want to show respect, please send me something like this instead:

Dear Nina,

I thought you might like to know I?ve reused _________________ in _________________. Check it out at (insert URL here). Thanks for making the work Free!

Love,
Someone Who Understands Yes means Yes

Ahh, lovely. Thank you!

A complaint I hear often is that nowadays, thanks to the inerwebs, not only do artists ?have to give their work away for free? but they also ?have to be businessmen.? HA! One goal of freeing my work is to free me of paperwork, contracts, and the role of manager ? and what is having to oversee and administrate every re-use but management? In the ?Intellectual Property? model, artists either have to do much more negotiating and managing and paperwork, or they have to pay someone else to do it for them. They have to be businessmen, or hire businessmen. And hiring businessmen (agents, lawyers, etc.) still requires much paperwork, negotiating, and contracts.

Some still insist that I?ve ?maintained more control? over Sita Sings the Blues. The point is I have maintained no control over it, and that benefits me. The point is I don?t have to be a business(wo)man. The point is that other people, the crowd, distribute the work, and cost me nothing.

As long as they don?t ask for permission.

Zacqary Adam Green (profile) says:

The problem is that free culture and copylefting is (from the experience of anyone currently alive, history notwithstanding) such a radically new and weird concept. New ideas often take decades before the majority of people can wrap their heads around them.

Part of why we’re in the mess we’re in today is because many people still don’t understand, for example, the Internet.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ยป

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...