White House Petition Launched To 'Recast Copyright For The Digital Age'

from the way-past-due dept

A whole bunch of folks (surprising, given the number of signatures on the petition so far) have sent over a new “We the People…” petition on the White House’s site, asking the White House to “recast copyright law for the digital era.” The petition notes that the public has lost respect for copyright law, and the government should take steps to fix that, including securing first sale rights, more transparency and a right to remix.

The public disregards copyright law because it is out of sync with the digital age. We want the right to resell digital content (ebooks, etc.) that we’ve paid for. We need transparency in the marketplace to understand what rights we have.

Additionally, as responsible creators we need to be able to freely remix existing music and other forms of creative expression to create new works without undue fear of prosecution. This upholds the original Constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to promote progress.

This will nurture the process of innovation and the sharing of our culture. The language of the existing copyright law must be changed to accommodate the way information is being created and consumed in our digital world.

There can be plenty of debates over where to set copyright law’s specific boundaries, but it seems clear that if it’s ever to regain any kind of respect, it needs to move in the direction advocated above. I don’t know the specifics, but apparently this petition was first put together by a “digital copyright” class at Dominican University, and a bunch of its students appear to be tweeting about it…

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Comments on “White House Petition Launched To 'Recast Copyright For The Digital Age'”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Mike sez: "I don't know the specifics," -- and the NEW is?

WHOOPEE! A WH petition by persons unknown. That’s SURE to move forward.

“There can be plenty of debates over where to set copyright law’s specific boundaries, but it seems clear that if it’s ever to regain any kind of respect, it needs to move in the direction advocated above.” — OKAY, SO STATE A POSITION ALREADY. Geez, 15 years and NO position from this clown.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Mike sez: "I don't know the specifics," -- and the NEW is?

As a REPORTER, and not an advocate, I think that it’s completely fair for for Mike to not state a public position.

I don’t think news reporters should be advocates for a particular position; doing so cheapens the work of reporting the news, which is to take the facts as they are – not try to twist them to mean something they don’t.

bob (profile) says:

Oh really?

I love this laundry list of all of the dreams of the people who love to fill their bellies at the buffet without dreaming.

We hear, for instance, from the first-sale maximalist who seem to stretch every form of reuse as some sort of threat to the first sale doctrine.

Then there are the copyright deniers who claim that the public have lost connection with copyright. Sure. They understand full well that copyright protects the pictures that they take from being exploited. They understand how it protects the books that they write from being stolen.

This is just a big wish list for Big Search that wants to continue to suck up all of the revenue without sharing with the people who actually do the work. They want the writers, musicians and artists to continue to do it because it’s “cool” while they keep the ad revenue.

Good luck, Big Search. Your search results are getting worse and worse. They’re often filled with dreck from spam sites because all of the professionals are abandoning the web. There’s a reason why 50%+ of the newspapers are behind paywalls.

This will just drive more people away from content creation. We’re going to be left with cat videos on YouTube and pirated stuff from the previous generations.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Oh really?

Google’s (not Big Search, when are you going to use their fucking name?) results are getting worse and becoming less and less trustworthy. Main reason why? The greedy bastards from the copyright cartels are demanding that Google delist certain sites and demote certain searches, and all for free. Why, they demand that Google go through, at last count, 4 million DMCA notices a month, without paying Big Search, and then keep complaining when Google can’t go through them fast enough.

Yeah, Google is at fault for bending over and taking it up the ass, but the reason why they bent over in the first place is you and your ilk. How convenient that you left that out in your little rant.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh really?

Ooooh. You’re so polite. Did you learn how to write on the Internet? You might try a professionally edited newspaper some day to understand how the game can be played with at least a polite veneer.

Why do I call them Big Search? To remind fools like you that their market cap is much, much, much more than any of the so-called copyright cartels. The morons around here repeat Big Search’s astroturfing while pretending that Big Search’s profits are some how a populist cause.

The searches they’re delisting are for pirated sites. The very fact that Google includes them at all makes them accessories to infringement if you ask me. They’re lucky that the companies just file the DMCA requests and don’t sue them for massive organized infringement under RICO. There’s no reason why Big Search

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh really?

I learned to read and write well before I even started school, thank you very much. I’m also well acquainted with newspapers.
As for my tone, it’s because you are incapable of having a rational discussion based on facts. I am well aware of just how large Google is.

I do love your absurd statement about suing Google under RICO. You are aware that involves a willing conspiracy? No-one at Google communicates with “pirate sites” (notice how few sites have been taken to court and declared such after a trial, I can count on two hands the number of such trials). As for the searches, I know you are well aware of the vast amount of inaccurate DMCA notices. HBO wants HBO.com delisted, then by your logic, HBO.com is a pirate site. Even if this were a small rather than a large problem, the fact that the DMCA pressures companies into a shoot-first-ask-questions-later policy is wholly incompatible with the First Amendment and the right to free speech. Nay, it actually spits on the right to free speech, and all for no good reason.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh really?


How’s that Wikinews working out for ya? Take a look at the news coverage of Boston. Most of the tweets are pointing to the work of professional reporters who happened to be running in the race.

Or maybe you’re talking about broadcast television which gets lower and lower rating as people mosey over to cable’s paywall. Even the people cutting the cable cord are going to Netflix’s paywall.

Mike’s been preaching about how pirated content was the future for a long time. Yet it hasn’t happened yet.

Nettie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh really?

Mike’s been preaching about how pirated content was the future for a long time. Yet it hasn’t happened yet.

Wait, when has he been preaching that? I’ve read stuff about the economics of abundance, meaning that the digital copies produced have such a low marginal cost that you don’t make your money there anymore–you make it on all the surrounding business opportunities. And about how a lot of piracy seems to be more a symptom of people not getting what they want in convenient and customer friendly forms than a necessary result of the internet. If it’s easier to pay for a service that will actually deliver the content that you want many of the people who pirate will pay for it. And the looking at his oft repeated equation CwF + RtB =$, the reason to buy is often the convenience factor as mentioned before (though there are many other reasons) but if an artist connects with fans the fans often will happily give more money for the same service or content as was previously charged just in support of someone they care about.

In all the reading I’ve done on this site I really haven’t seen anything about piracy being the future.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh really?

Give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking)

I don’t think you know what abandon means. First paywalls means they are still utilizing the web. Second, I don’t ever use any of those paywall sites. I’m at work, I don’t have a TV, yet I’m watching the news on the marathon for free on the web. They are in no way abandoning the web.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Oh really?

To remind the fools around here that Mike is just plain wrong on many of the most important issues.

I want to live in a world where I can pay $10 to enjoy a $100 million movie and that’s not going to happen if the pirates win. The movie studios will go under and I’ll be stuck with cat videos on YouTube.

The fact is that Mike’s vision of the world only works for a small set of people — usually people who can fund their art with trust funds. But he’s not content to live and let live. He’s got to fight to destroy everyone’s meal ticket.

Nettie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh really?

Part of the point of this blog is that we support a world where it’s actually economically feasible to make more movies at way lower prices than 100 million. And the more we break down the rules that favor the incumbent big industries the more we can afford to produce good movies without such an insane overhead and the more we can all enjoy a much richer variety of content not constrained by the oft-limited ideas of what makes good content that the gatekeeper industries hold.

Nettie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Oh really?

Wait what in my previous statement suggested that a totalitarian government would be running this or that there would be any relation to government at all really? Or a nationalistic mindset behind the development of new content, which might lead to propaganda? (I’m trying to figure out what exactly you mean by fascist there)

The point is that if the overhead is smaller then a lot smaller businesses can afford to do it so a lot more of them can afford to do it…Not sure how this is fascist at all…and if you’re just name calling then you might try one that doesn’t have such a specific definition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Oh really?

Apology accepted. My objection to copyright in particular is that its enforcement in a world of digital copying can only be achieved by establishing a totalitarian control over the Internet and digital computers.
Further by putting and excessive price, and restrictive controls on knowledge and culture keeps many people as slaves of big corporations and corrupt governments. They are prevented from learning the knowledge that allows them to solve their own problems. Free communication and exchange of knowledge and culture is the anti-dote to big government.
Anarchy can work when the mens od communications are available, look at the free software movement, and also occupy Sandy achieved a lot.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh really?

“I want to live in a world where I can pay $10 to enjoy a $100 million movie and that’s not going to happen if the pirates win. The movie studios will go under and I’ll be stuck with cat videos on YouTube.”

You really are stupid. Let’s hypothesize (to save you the trouble of having to reach for a dictionary, this is where you take a possible situation and say “X would happen if Y were true”)
Let’s say tomorrow that all of the movie studios collapse. Every single one. What would happen to Youtube?


Any and all files on Youtube would be completely untouched. Do you honestly think that they’d press a MASS DELETE button if the studios collapsed? In fact, things would be even better, since there would be no agreement to allow Universal to censor any video they wish, even when their DMCA notices are countered by the uploader.
There are far more than cat videos on Youtube. You seem to be under the bizarre notion that there are only two types of video on Youtube – cat movies and blockbusters. You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. Why is it you constantly reveal how stupid you are? It’s like you’re compelled to show off just how high your single digit IQ can go (in your case, I’d allow you to have a decimal point)
Here’s just a sample of what I watch on Youtube
1) Spoony Experiment
2) Machina
3) Abridged Anime
4) LinusTechTips
5) ThatGuyWithTheGlasses

Not a one of them would be affected by a collapse of the movie studios.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh really?

So all you’re whining is because you can’t get what you want? Your precious $100 million movie that you will only pay $10 to see, and somehow paying $10 better than someone that pays nothing?

Why not pay $20, or $50, or $100 to make up for their losses? Because there are no losses. Hollywood budgets have never been bigger, and movies have never been more profitable. What are you complaining about again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh really?

“I want to live in a world where I can pay $10 to enjoy a $100 million movie and that’s not going to happen if the pirates win.”

If living in such a world costs me my natural right to freely copy and my freedoms then I do not want to give up my rights and my freedoms to subsidize your fantasy world. I want IP law abolished. IP law, as it stands, is a subsidy to your fantasy world. I do not care about that $100 million dollar movie, if you want a hundred million dollar movie you pay for it yourself. Or find a bunch of like minded people to help you pay for it and you can all voluntarily contribute a fraction of the cost and pay for your movie. That’s your problem and it’s not my problem. Making it my problem by subjecting me to these laws and the cost of enforcing them just to subsidize your hundred million dollar movie is not acceptable to me. I want IP abolished. If that costs you your movie I do not care. It is not my problem and it is not my responsibility to subsidize your hundred million dollar movie in the form of giving up my rights and incurring the costs (ie: tax dollars) of enforcing the laws that you want and the laws that are required to make such a movie.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Oh really?

(or the laws that you think are required to make such a movie. Either way, I do not care, the fact that you want to pay $10 for a hundred million dollar movie is not my problem and subjecting others to laws just to fulfill your desire is not something anyone should accept).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Oh really?

Even Jefferson recognized that such a natural right exists and that copy’right’ is not a natural right.


To try to pervert the definition of natural right to your liking is dishonest and only serves to discredit your opinion. After all, why should anyone take the opinion of a clearly dishonest person seriously? If you can’t see how lies make you and your opinion look bad then keep on proclaiming them and see how far it gets you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Oh really?

I am being forced to comply with IP laws. I am being forced to undergo the costs, direct and indirect, of such compliance. Those costs include the costs to service providers that offer me services and must extend their costs to me (ie: through higher prices or offering less services or even the shut down of services), not to mention the cost in tax dollars of law enforcement.

No one is forcing you to make a ten million dollar movie. If you don’t want people copying it then don’t make it.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Oh really?

You do realize, of course, that without legal protections for Copyright, movie companies will just enforce draconian DRM schemes similar to the stuff we’re seeing on computer games?

You won’t be able to copy a movie anyway, because your movie player will have to “phone home” before every playback of a disc. Portable media players will be practically non-existent, and every media imaginable will be wrapped behind so many layers of DRM and encryption that it will be hard to even use legally, let alone illegally.

What I love is how the freetards want to sit around and scream “BUT MY RIGHTS” when they’re not the ones creating this stuff. They’re not the ones putting money, blood, sweat, and tears in to it.

And it’s even more amusing that you do it as “anonymous coward.” I’m just going to stop responding to anon posts. If you’re afraid to put your name behind something, then you must not really believe what you’re saying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Oh really?

“You do realize, of course, that without legal protections for Copyright, movie companies will just enforce draconian DRM schemes similar to the stuff we’re seeing on computer games?”

Even if this lie is true, I do not really care. First of all, if you really think DRM (without laws to protect it) will stop people from copying content then you are delusional. and I don’t mind technological means of blocking me from doing something so long as the law doesn’t get in my way of copying it.

“You won’t be able to copy a movie anyway, because your movie player will have to “phone home” before every playback of a disc.”

No, the next company will just create a new movie player that can play the movie and not phone home, provided no laws prevent it. Again, you are delusional if you think I am going to buy a DRM movie player in a free market. and really I don’t watch that many movies and don’t really care, I’ll either watch the movie in a format without DRM or I’ll find another movie to watch. My right to copy is much more important to me.

“Portable media players will be practically non-existent, and every media imaginable will be wrapped behind so many layers of DRM and encryption that it will be hard to even use legally, let alone illegally.”

Your post is delusional but even if it’s true people will simply choose media that isn’t impossible to use and the market will dictate that your fear mongering scenario can’t exist since such content can’t possibly be profitable to the content creators or distributors and so they won’t do it.

“What I love is how the freetards want to sit around and scream “BUT MY RIGHTS” when they’re not the ones creating this stuff. They’re not the ones putting money, blood, sweat, and tears in to it.”

No one is forcing you to put your effort into it. If you don’t like it then don’t create and release the content. I want my rights back and I don’t care about what you put into making a movie. It’s not my responsibility and should not be my obligation to sacrifice my rights to subsidize your movie. If you want to invest into your movie that’s your problem, don’t force me to invest through the sacrification of my rights. You want the movie the burden is entirely on you and others who want the movie to invest and make it happen. Copy’right’ merely shifts a legal, state enforced, burden onto me to create the movie of your dreams and I do not want any of the burden at all and neither should I be obligated to bear it. I don’t care if you spent a million dollars digging a hole at the beach, it’s still public property and the hole doesn’t belong to you. What you invest your resources and time in is not my problem.

and besides, it’s not like copy’right’ helps the artists. It only hurts artists and has only helped the worthless parasite middlemen who contribute nothing. The claim that these laws help artists and content creators (and not just the leech middlemen) is an obvious lie that everyone is aware of.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Oh really?

This isn’t just an argument of “but my rights”. It’s an argument “but my values”. In a democracy we vote based on our values and the government should pass laws representing the values of those subject to them. As someone subject to these laws I do not value IP at all. I value my right to freely copy and I want my government to proportionally respect that and not to simply disproportionately represent those that provide politicians with the most in campaign contributions and revolving door favors. and if enough citizens agree with me then the laws ought to be changed. I want IP abolished, this is a question of my values and I do not value IP laws at all. I do not value your hundred million dollar movie that allegedly results from the existence of IP laws, I value my right to freely copy more than your movie and more than whatever it is you get out of IP laws. You can’t change that, these are my values. I do not value whatever time you invested in making the movie or whatever you spent, I don’t care if you spent a billion dollars digging a hole and filling it back up. It’s not my problem at all and don’t make it. My values say IP laws are not important and should be abolished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Oh really?

The argument for IP laws fall under two categories.

1: The consequences to you (and others).

Response: I don’t care, it is not my responsibility and should not be my obligation to make the world a better place by bearing the burden that these laws place on you (or someone else).

2: The consequences to me

Whatever you claim those consequences to be, I don’t care, my right to freely copy is more important and valuable to me and I am more than willing to risk the alleged consequences or suffer the actual consequences (to me) of IP abolition.

Also, most of the alleged social consequences and consequences to artists are highly exaggerated but even if they’re not I don’t care either way. The main real consequences, that aren’t exaggerated, are the consequences to the parasite middlemen that leech off of the public and the artists to make a living without contributing anything useful. and to them I don’t care either. The truth is IP has been a burden to content creators. For example, Megaupload and Veoh being shut down for no good reason limits the avenues that content creators can create, distribute, and profit from content. When many restaurants and other venues are afraid to host independent performers without paying a third party parasite a licensing fee or else face the possibility of an expensive lawsuit this hurts artists and content creators. Even bakeries are afraid of allowing children to draw custom birthday pictures on their birthday cakes because something might infringe. and government established broadcasting and cableco monopolies make it more difficult for content creators to distribute their content and gain the recognition they need to make a living. No one is fooled, the only ones IP laws are helping is the parasite middlemen at the expense of both artists and the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Oh really?

and don’t give me this argument about the problem with restaurants hosting independent content creators is a problem with our legal system. Yes, indeed, it is a problem with our legal system, it’s a problem with IP laws and the one sided penalty structure they impose.

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Oh really?

I want to live in a world where I can pay $10 to enjoy a $100 million movie

Not me. I want to live in a world where copyright laws are solely devoted to the public interest, specifically encouraging the creation and publications of works that, but for copyright, would not be created and published, and equally ensuring that the public suffers as few impediments as possible (ideally none), as rapidly as possible (ideally immediately) in enjoying and using the work as they see fit, including copying it, distributing it, preparing derivatives based on it, publicly performing or displaying it, etc.

If it happens that in a world where copyright maximizes the bet public benefit, that you can have $100 million movies with $10 ticket prices, great! If not, equally great! And you know, people can, and have, made great movies on smaller budgets and shitty movies on bigger budgets. Money is not a synonym for quality, if that’s what you’re after.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Oh really?

Wow… So much wrong in this statement, each paragraph is a failed argument.

So, bob, really, just go away.

Let’s see here, maximalists as a threat against the first sale doctrine? Check, the Supreme Court said “STFU, who cares about you? People can buy and sell what they want legally, stop trying to change that.”

Copyright deniers? Wow, new term from the Copyright Apologists!

BTW, you wanna know how far back people were calling BS on Copyright?

“I am so sensible, Sir, of the kindness with which the House has listened to me, that I will not detain you longer. I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one-tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim’s Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.”

That was in 1885, bob. Look it up sometime, maybe you might learn something.

Big Search? Who’s that? You might want to clarify that, because you could mean Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, or any of those websites.

Why are they getting worse? Oh, I dunno, probably because of the DMCA. Oh hey, someone wants to find something, but can’t because the DMCA took it down, even if it was legal.

And, bob, there’s a reason why newspapers are failing. It’s because 50%+ of them are behind paywalls. If I have to pay for news I can get for free elsewhere, why should I bother with it?

And drive people away from content creation? BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! oh, wait, you’re serious, let me laugh harder.


Oh, you so funny, Copyright Apologist bob. You so stupidly funny.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Re: Oh really?

What the heck is a “first-sale maximalist”?

Is that like a “first-shoes maximalist” for someone who likes to wear shoes when they leave the house?

Or are you just borrowing from contextual and relevant terms like “big content” (for large media conglomerates) and “copyright maximalist” for those who lobby for excessive maximum copyright terms and enforcement?

Because it really doesn’t work unless you use such terms in context.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The issue is the push a button and its all better now mentality.

Everything that has been done to make it “easier” to express yourself to those in power seems to leave people thinking they have done enough.

There isn’t follow up and the specific issues listed in this petition won’t affect that many people until much later if ever.

Trust me I know all about putting up the good fight and pushing forward but I also know online petitions make people complacent.
To many people think I texted to help Katrina victims, job done. I texted for tsunami relief, job done. It is hard to keep important issues in the forefront of peoples minds when Justin Bieber writing something stupid in the guestbook at the Anne Frank house gets media coverage.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Agree but disagree

I firmly agree that consumers need more explicit, unalienable rights under Copyright:

The right to first sale, fair use, and any other right granted by Copyright should not be given away by “clickwrap” or other unilateral agreements. I don’t agree that buying something in the store is a “license”, especially when you have no power to negotiate that license. All retail style purchases, whether they be digital downloads or physical media, should be treated exactly like a book: one person can use it, shelve it, or sell it as they see fit.

As to sampling, I don’t see the problem with having to get permission to use samples. As a musician, I may not want my song about flowers being used in a song about pimps ‘n ho’s. If you make sampling a “right”, you lose the ability to control who your work is associated with. After all, no one has ever repurposed the lyrics to a song. I tend to agree that people should have the right to say where their music is re-used.

As for “transparency”… if all digital goods purchases had to abide by the terms of Copyright and only the terms of Copyright, those EULA’s would be a lot shorter and readable, wouldn’t they?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Agree but disagree

As a musician, you must admit than that you re-use musical ideas all the time. Some people sample while other people just create music that is similar in rhythmic or tonal pattern. Just off the top of my head, listen to John Williams’ soundtrack to Harry Potter and notice the theme from Camille Saint-Saens Aquarium. I guess John Williams is nothing but a filthy pirate.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Agree but disagree

True, moods, harmonies, and even some melodic bits get re-used a lot. I mean, who originally played the standard 4/4 drum kit rock beat? You probably couldn’t identify the drummer if you tried.

But that’s not sampling.

Sampling is literally taking a piece of audio from one song and sticking it in something else.

Perhaps the original song is about the beauty of the great outdoors, and the new song is about pimpin’ some ho’s. Would the original performers like their folk music being used to describe the sublime beauty of selling women’s services by the hour?

It’s only fair to at least get permission when using someone else’s work to make money yourself.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Agree but disagree

Sampling is literally taking a piece of audio from one song and sticking it in something else.

Correct. And, in the process, creating an entirely new piece of art that is different from, and not a replacement for, what was sampled.

Would the original performers like their folk music being used to describe the sublime beauty of selling women’s services by the hour?

And why is that relevant to copyright at all? The Supreme Court has already ruled that it’s not in the Pretty Woman case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Agree but disagree

As for first sale etc. I think we can all agree on the basics ie. no “license” instead of sale and first sale protection.

The song about flowers getting made into a song about pimps and ho’s could be called a parody, if you know what I mean… That is a “fair use” already in most places.

The “right” to sample is pretty hard to see through and depends on where in the world you live, how much you use (that is the point of sampling n’est pas?) and several other issues.
The de maximus for sampling should be possible to describe soberly as opposed to todays legal insanity where the short version describing de minimus is 270 pages explaining concisely what is and isn’t allowed in every imaginable specific situation. 270 pages of logic as they say…
However, the main problem is that the internet doesn’t care where you live so it is a superficial law a.la. most internet regulations: “You may not do this, but your buddy may!”. Internet regulation for only small parts of the world will always be complete hypocric or censorship.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Agree but disagree

But we’re not talking about parody. We’re talking about new works that use other works as their building blocks.

See, here’s the part I don’t get: if I want to use a song in a movie, I have to pay for it – that’s not just a legal thing but an ethical thing.

But if I want to use a 3 second audio clip in a song, is that any different ethically? I’m still using someone else’s work.

So leaving out the legal issues for a second, how is sampling different from an ethical perspective?

First figure out what’s right. Then figure out how to make that legal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Agree but disagree

It is known that music has been about for at least 49,000 years and probably longer. During the bulk of that time musicians copied and borrowed from each other without restriction. Recording technology comes along and suddenly musicians need licenses and permission to take from the music around them.
Could the fact that licensing surrounding music came in with recording indicate it is more to do the control and income of the labels than the rights of musicians.

tanj says:

Re: Agree but disagree

That’s an interesting example. It touches on the intersection of moral rights and free speech. The reason you propose for restricting another’s speech is because of your disagreement with the content.

“disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression”. We need to decide what is just and strike a balance between freedom of expression and protecting authors in a content neutral manner.

Now, to get the obvious concern out of the way I understand concerns with implied endorsement, but that’s not a copyright issue. That would be a question of publicity rights.

One problem is the difficulty of determining origin. As an example here’s a link to a sound clip that was thought to be public domain and was included in some audio libraries. The clip was sampled and used in several contexts.


Getting permission for a clip would be difficult if the origin of the clip is difficult to determine. Creating a chilling effect preventing the use of any audio that could not be explicitly sourced. This is further complicated if a song that used a sample is sampled and the new sample must get permission from both the song copyright holder and the original sample source.

The issue I find most interesting is the idea that an author has a right to restrict how a work can be perceived after it is published. This would run directly counter to fair use.


Now, the issue of using a copyrighted sample rather than a public domain one if the intent was to contrast “my song about flowers” with “a song about pimps ‘n ho’s” without making any sort of implied endorsement highlights the importance of the public domain.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Agree but disagree

Okay, I can understand there are a lot of edge conditions, but let’s use a clear-cut example:

Back in the late 80’s, maybe 1988, I heard a mix of “Died In Your Arms Tonight” that incorporated clips from Star Trek and several other television shows.

Each of these clips was maybe 2-3 seconds long. And each of them was from shows that had a clear owner. I don’t see any legal ambiguity here: it’s either legal to use or it’s not.

Now as to works that can’t be identified and orphaned works: I have a pretty strong opinion there. My opinion is basically, if the Copyright holder doesn’t care enough about the work to keep up with its registration, then he should lose his rights. I’ve talked elsewhere about this in more depth, but basically I think that Copyright holders should have to maintain a clear point of contact, and if they fail to do so, or if they fail to respond to licensing requests in a timely manner, they should lose the protection offered by Copyright. This has nothing to do with sampling, and really addresses the larger problem of distributing and using works for which the owner can’t be reached for permission.

As to sampling and remixing: getting permission just seems like the right thing to do. I don’t see why anyone would want to use someone’s work when they know that someone doesn’t want it used.

tanj says:

Re: Re: Re: Agree but disagree

I’m not certain myself. It’s an interesting issue.

Buffy vs Edward is an example of a situation where the material is used in a manner not endorsed by the creators, but has been held up as an example of fair use.

It looks like you want to specifically discuss sampling in music, which is something I’m not really familiar with.

One way I look at it is if the sample is short enough that it is a building block rather than the entirety of the song itself then couldn’t the sample be considered as just another instrument? By restricting sampling it would then be a restriction on the instruments that a musician could play.

To look at an analogous situation, imagine if books and words were held to the same standard. Would J. R. R. Tolkien have a copyright on referring to a certain type of elves as eldar? Could a phrase be copyrighted?

tanj says:

Re: Re: Re: Agree but disagree

I think I understand now the difference in our perspectives. I’m looking at the issue from a perspective of why should this not be allowed.

I look at copyright as an economic issue primarily intended to allow content producers to make money. It looks like you include moral rights in copyright, which I think is inconsistent with freedom of expression.

So, for example, I can understand pushing for a mandatory license for sampling, but restricting the use of sampling is something that I think should be done only if a financial harm to the copyright holder is possible. In the example I think it would be silly to think that someone wouldn’t watch a television show because they heard it in a remix.

Anonymous Coward says:

it needs the addition that when doing something wrong as far as copyright is concerned, the punishment should fit the crime rather than as it is atm fitting just about the heinous crime there is, much higher fines than for anything else which themselves are so out of touch and should be in single figures not in the thousands and no prison time for sharing either. this is the most ridiculous of punishments, simply for doing what man has done since time immemorial. this has been proven as the only way progress is made!

out_of_tha_blue (profile) says:

Well let’s just look at how fucked up things were when copyright was first created.

The following things are now considered very fucking wrong and illegal.

Black people were considered 2nd class citizens of which people had zero respect for. To speak their mind would have led to a lot of issues in their life such as false imprisonment, beatings, and possibly death.

Women were considered a 2nd class citizen as well, and most men would have beat them for speaking their mind.

Racial slurs such as nigger, chink, or pretty much anything else was considered alright as long as you were white of course.

We have laws from an era that is extremely fucked up so could it be possible that our current laws on copyright are wrong as well?

What do we know today?
1. All people are equal no matter the race or gender.
2. Racial slurs are not acceptable behavior in today’s society.
3. Most importantly we know that we were WRONG to think like we did back then.

tomxp411 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sure, because a little Cum Hoc is always fun.

The same people that thought slavery was A-OK also liked little things like free speech, freedom of religion, a free press, the right to bear arms, the right to be secure in our possessions, the right to be free from search and seizure without reasonable cause… just to name a few things that people thought were important back in 1776.

And Copyright wasn’t even an amendment. It was in the body of the Constitution, so the founders must have thought it was even more important than the right to free speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

A HUGE thanks for pointing this out, Mike! If anyone needs a (public domain) letter about this to send to your friends, here you go:

Are you tired of having fan sites taken down by cease and desist letters? Are you sick of seeing wonderful fan creations censored by copyright claims? Are you tired of living in fear of a lawsuit because you like drawing pictures and writing stories about the characters you love?

Then now is the time to act!

Yesterday a group of budding copyright scholars launched a Whitehouse petition to make fan creations 100% legal. President Obama has pledged to personally respond if the petition reaches 100,000 signatures within 30 days. There are that many fans in the Star Wars fandom alone! We can do it! 😀

Sign the petition below, then share this e-mail with every fan you know. We can deluge this petition with signatures if we all pull together!


Even if you don’t live in America, it’s very important that you pass this e-mail on to all your friends in fandom. The United States copyright law has a huge effect on the rest of the world, and if we can change American laws, it’ll be easy to change them elsewhere too.

Want more details? Here’s the long version:

The petition says that, “As responsible creators, we need to be able to freely remix existing music and other forms of creative expression to create new works without undue fear of prosecution. This upholds the original Constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to promote progress.”

Fanfics, fan art, fan games, fan handicrafts and all fan creations are “remixes” in the eyes of the law…but unfortunately, they’re also illegal! O.o This means that the “owners” of our favorite characters can shut down fandom whenever they want to. They can take down our favorite sites with cease and desist letters, censor our Youtube videos with DMCA notices, and even sue us for everything we own. All just for sharing our love for our favorite characters and shows. 🙁

If the goal of copyright is to promote the progress of art, then why is copyright being used to stifle fan art, fanfics, and fanvids? It seems that for every book and movie that copyright encourages, ten thousand fanfics and fanvids are blacklisted and deleted. This does not sound like the promotion of the arts. Actually, it sounds like the *suppression* of the arts. To encourage art, we must destroy it. To promote creativity, we must stop people from being creative.

How did this twisted logic come about? Were the Founding Fathers really that batty?

Believe it or not, fanfiction was once legal under US law. The Founding Fathers saw nothing wrong with the idea of creating new work from familiar characters and settings. In fact, the Founders realized that great writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Virgil and Dante all wrote new stories (fanfic!) about popular characters. Why would anyone want to forbid that?

Unfortunately, copyright law has been bloated and twisted by modern corporations until the entire rationale behind its existence has been lost. In fact, the way some people interpret the Constitution, you’d think copyright was intended, ?To promote the Progress of…useful Arts by deleting and censoring hundreds of thousands of stories, art pieces, and videos.?

Fan artists are not second class artists. We are talented, original and creative. We deserve the same rights as other artists: we do not deserve to be censored; we do not deserved to be sued. Our art is real art!

Let’s restore our old rights and put the copyright law back the way the Founders originally envisioned it! Sign the petition and then spread the word:

Post this e-mail on a fan forum, blog, etc
Create a piece of fan art, fanfic, etc. expressing your support for the petition and urging people to sign
Send this e-mail on to other fans
Post news of the petition on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, share it everywhere you can
Notify the news blogs in your fandom about the petition

Go forth, bold champion! Fight on behalf of your fandom! There doesn’t ever need to be another fan site shut down again!

special-interesting (profile) says:

Its nice to see some effort to make some improvements on the outlandish current copyright laws. Since it does not mention term reduction its only a half hearted effort although the mention of remixing was probably a good thing. If they wanted to list all the problems of present copyright law it would take several pages.

The proposal is vacuous in that it does not say much (with the exception of remixing). Its possibly a ranging argument for some measure of public dissatisfaction with copyright. Its not a fair question since to the average citizen copyright law is rocket science.

As for remixing if the term limits on copyright were reasonable (well under the lifespan of the audience who cares about the author.) like 14 to 28 years (the original copyblight terms) there would be NO PROBLEM whatsoever. The problem is not trying to come up with some complicated legal rational for one specific way of creation based on existing works but one of allowing the use of OLD works in new ways. (and if not this then toss out IP laws in whole. Trash them.)

More on remixing; We consider under Fair Use Rights the ability to quote from one source for use in a work of our own. Actually using the words, whether in or out of context, is normal and done all the time. So how is using a clip of some song, speaker, video or whatever new communication method any different? Why does Fair Use Rights not cover that? When we create an essay, video or song using a clip/quote from some other source why is that a problem as long as the source is (listed) in the bibliography.

Most anytime when we hear of reform (recasting is new but same story) in Washington its just the opposite. Since when has ANY bill/act/legislation actually did what the title indicated? Forgoing the usual special interest influence remarks; It IS the job of legislators to make sure legislation DOES what it is intended/promised. This IS, at the most basic level, what they are voted into office for. Yes it would probably be a good thing to deny pensions to any who voted for bills that were misnamed.

Current copyright has become a criminal nightmare for kids and parents alike benefiting nobody not event the copyright holder since parents will not purchase anything thats risky even if the kids whine and scream. To bad for everyone even tax collectors. Current media sales have been increasing but for how long and who will media firms blame but everyone else. Think the trash talk about piracy (the wrong word) is bad now? Ha!

Since copyrighted material involves knowledge, wisdom and ideas (SUPPOSED to be constitutionally protected) there can be no way current law makes sense. Putting barriers legal or otherwise in place to prevent average citizens from learning what they can by using every (refrigerator example) way and by whatever (let buy a refrigerator and bypass the ice man and ice storage hassles) methods.

Does the Internet and computers bypass several industries? Yes. Do I care? No! Although I do sympathize there is nothing to be done about it. It would be better to argue for tax reduction because machines may take over all human tasks.

Innovation and technology are famous for providing corporations, firms and companies with increased profits by reducing cost. Individuals, familys, kids and friends want the same benefits and should refuse to accept legal intervention by legacy media (ice delivery sales) industries. Why do we have to defend the constitution? (Alright, thats stupid; we have to defend it every day.)

Not addressed also are the cultural losses that eternal copyright terms exact upon society. The term ‘chilling effect’ sums up the current creative environment.

In short; Who wrote this proposal for copyright ‘recasting’? Its sweet that it covers remixing and an old rehash of resale rights (which should be not a problem in the first place.) It covers none of the important cultural, societal and present (ridiculous) legal problems with current copyright (wrong) law/legislation. It did not mention expansion of Public Domain Rights both in quantity or usage rights either.

Otherwise its a good faith effort that deserves some support. That is if it does not give the president any wrong ideas bout copyright reduction (both in laws and term length).


Note; some of the remixing ideas were derived from reading comments. Thanks.

The fanfic, fanart and fan games comments were inspiring. It would be cool if Fair Use Rights covered the creation of fan works that would piss off the original author. (not a joke) Creation in ways not thought of, or approved, by the original author is expected. Free expression at its best.

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