A New Animated Web Series About Copying And Copyright

from the check-it-out dept

A group of filmmakers has decided to put together an interesting new animated web series called “Copy-Me” all about copying and copyright — and more specifically about culture and sharing, and why that’s important (while also debunking some of the usual myths about copyright). Among the things they’ve claimed the series will cover are:

  • The importance of the public domain.
  • Artists making money without restricting access to their work.
  • A bit of copyright history.
  • The paradox of originality.
  • The state of the Internet today
  • The impact of copyright on every single part of society today.

While they’re just getting started, it looks like it will be quite interesting. They’ve also put together an IndieGogo campaign for folks interested in supporting this project. Here’s the intro video the filmmakers have made about the campaign, explaining a bit more of why they’re doing this and what they hope to accomplish:
While there have been various other cool projects trying to discuss these issues, from Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix to Nina Paley’s Copying is Not Theft, the more the merrier in getting past the myths of copyright that a certain industry has been pushing for decades.

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Comments on “A New Animated Web Series About Copying And Copyright”

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Shufflepants (profile) says:

Hundreds of Billions of Years?!

As soon as the graphics go away and a live person in front of a camera starts talking she says:
“Copying is a practice that people have been doing for hundreds of billions of years.”
I’ve heard of the people who think that people have only been around for 6000 or so years, but this is the first I’ve heard about people who think that people have been around an order of magnitude longer than scientists think that the universe has been around…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

An Anonymous Coward, claiming with such smug surety that the creators refused to identify themselves when their IndieGoGo page clearly identifies them with both names and photos. Two of which then come to comment on this very article using their own names to answer questions/comments about their work.

Achievement Unlocked: Moded

CK20XX (profile) says:

Public Domain as a Scientific Concept

Looking at how people just naturally share things with each other, could the public domain not be an area that is defined by law at all, but rather a concept in the science of anthropology? Perhaps everything enters the public domain immediately upon creation, regardless of what the law says? I’d like to see someone explore that angle.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Public Domain as a Scientific Concept

When you’re talking anthropology and, well, reality, I don’t think you even need to apply a label like “public domain” at all. Instead it’s simply the nature of all communication and expression: once something has been spoken or expressed in some way, it becomes fundamentally infinite, and owned by nobody. There’s no natural limit on how widely it can be spread and no natural mechanism by which to prevent that spread, short of actually killing everyone who heard/saw something.

But, regardless of labels, you’re totally right: it’s really sad that people now think copyright is the default and the “public domain” is the exception, when in fact the exact opposite is true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Public Domain as a Scientific Concept

For at least 100,0000 years there was no copyright, or monopoly for those who created cultural works, yet there was vibrant culture. Indeed significant amounts of human culture have only survived because people copied each other’s stories, music etc. because they were no ways of recording it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Except we don’t all “do it.” Some of us are extremely careful not to, whether because we don’t want to fall afoul of copyright, or we don’t want to give content owners a scapegoat as the nefarious pirate that is causing the sky to fall. Some just do without rather than copy – and this applies from realized content all the way to ideas in general.

Of course I’m not saying we live in a vacuum, but to the extent we can control what we copy, at least some of us go out of our way to not copy and it’s a false narrative to say that “we all do it.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would venture to say that the IP extremists are probably the ones that are hedonist and hold a hedonistic position. Hedonism can not advertise altruism. So they secretly copy whatever they want, regardless of law, while telling everyone not to copy. They basically act in their own best interests with no regard for others.

After all, 95+ year copy protection lengths and retroactive extensions is not exactly the epitome of ethics. It’s a product of having no moral values whatsoever and it’s not hard to imagine that those responsible for this public domain theft, those that lobbied congress for these laws through secretive meetings and revolving door favors, have no regard for morality whatsoever. They likely also infringe and their moral argument is simply a selfish one that they present to others.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So they secretly copy whatever they want, regardless of law, while telling everyone not to copy. They basically act in their own best interests with no regard for others.

Given how many IP maximalist, ‘Pirates are the root of all evil and must be stopped by any means necessary’ and ‘Piracy is a horrible practice that costs creators billions each year’-type people/groups end up getting caught pirating stuff themselves… yeah, that’s probably a fairly safe bet there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“?What?s really upsetting is that quite a few bookstores won?t sell my book because they think that I have plagiarized ?Nemo,?? the author said in an interview Monday. ?The two fish look very similar, but it doesn?t end there.?

Like Nemo, Pierrot lives in a pink sea anemone and starts life half-orphaned because one parent was swallowed up by Liona, the scorpion fish. ?The beginning of the story is the same, even if the scenarios then become different,? Le Calvez said.”


So Kamina apparently came up with a similar idea before Nemo but his idea got ignored. Later, Disney comes up with Nemo and stores will no longer sell Kamina’s work because it’s too similar to Nemo. So the work is similar enough to Nemo to be considered infringement against it but Nemo is not close enough to Pierrot to be considered infringing on it despite the fact that Pierrot came out first. The double standard here is amazing.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Except we don’t all “do it.” “

Define “it”. Most people break laws they’re not even aware of, and recent history shows you can have your work claimed as infringing even if you’ve not copied a damn thing. That’s even before you get into the murky subtleties of things you should be able to do but corporations are doing their best to outlaw.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Strictly speaking, you have done the act of copying in reading and commenting on this site. You had to download a copy of the site into your web browser, including all the different graphics next to each user’s name (for example, the orangutan next to mine). How do you know that I have the license or copyright for that photo? It is a photo I took several years ago, but you can’t be sure, since you don’t know me and I never registered it.
Whenever you speak, you are copying words, you are using pre-arranged letters and words and making them into a sentence.

So, when you say you’re careful not to copy, perhaps you should be more precise, and say you don’t copy commercial movies and TV shows?

saulgoode (profile) says:

Your point is well-taken for the sense of copying in a manner that might qualify as infringement under current laws. But in the broader sense of copying, it is undeniable that “we all do it”. You see, I just copied from your post (“we all do it”), and you copied it from the video. Would such copying qualify as infringement? Probably not*, but it is copying.

* But then, some courts have found that a single-line poem, or a 13-second performance, is deserving of copyright protection. So who knows for certain?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Great! Be sure to tell us who funds you!

Their IndieGoGo clearly states that this is an independent project, and even runs through the entire (small) budget and how it’s coming from crowdfunding.

Of course there’s no guarantee that’s true, I suppose, so… Do you have a reason to doubt it, and some evidence to the contrary to present? Or does it just make you uncomfortable that a growing number of individuals are standing up against broken copyright law?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

baseless accusation underneath was a giveaway: “Or least your favorite website to steal movies with!”

also the same poster/snowflake as https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140408/12314926842/new-animated-web-series-about-copying-copyright.shtml#c86 (“Astroturf. Dark, brown Astroturf.”)
and https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140408/12314926842/new-animated-web-series-about-copying-copyright.shtml#c98 (in which he proved the person he responded to 100% correct)

Anonymous Coward says:

Public Records, Privacy

I hope they include the issue of libraries.

State libraries, and others, are the repositories of “public records” which are labeled as “archives” and are so defined in state code. Yet these agencies assume common-law copyright over these old manuscripts, demanding permissions rights, and royalties based on print runs, and collecting personal information in the process, inconsistent with Freedom of Information laws and Privacy Laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Public Records, Privacy

this just came up with my reading this morning. NYC released a whole bunch of photos, which is cool…

but wants a license fee to use a 100+ year old picture. When the picture is marked 1897, how are you claiming copyright over it? (no, the scan does not count)

which is a shame, the pictures are pretty cool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Public Records, Privacy

Here is the link the NY Municipal Archives. The Archives does not claim to own the copyright on any or all of the images.

“Some of the images in the Online Gallery may be subject to third-party rights such as copyright…”

Here is the link to the Terms of Use.


Please note that photographic prints are provided for personal use only and may not be transferred to another individual or institution without permission… If you wish to PUBLISH a photograph, or use it for any COMMERCIAL purpose, you must apply for permission and pay the appropriate license fee.

– – – – – –

Here is the Copyright Law on Archives making reproductions.

? 108 ? Limitations on exclusive rights:
Reproduction by libraries and archives

(a) …it is not an infringement of copyright for… archives… to reproduce… or to distribute… if?

(1) made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage…

– – – – –

The commercial limitation applies to ARCHIVES which may try to benefit commercially. They cannot SELL permissions and collect royalties unless they have a license to do that from the copyright holder.

It is NOT an infringement to copy and distribute, but it IS an infringement to AUTHORIZE.

– – – – – –


Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians

Senate Report: Discussion of Libraries and Archives in Profit-Making Institutions

The limitation of section 108 to reproduction and distribution by libraries and archives ?without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage? is intended to preclude a library or archives in a profit-making organization from providing photocopies of copyrighted materials to employees engaged in furtherance of the organization?s commercial enterprise, unless such copying qualifies as a fair use, or the organization has obtained the necessary copyright licenses.

– – – – –


Thus, vicarious liability requires two elements:
(1) the right and ability to supervise or control the infringing activity; and
(2) a direct financial benefit from that activity…

In the 1976 Act, Congress recognized secondary liability in the grant of rights under copyright, providing authors and copyright owners with the “exclusive right to do and to authorize” the enumerated rights. As the legislative history to the Act explains, “[u]se of the phrase ‘to authorize’ is intended to avoid any questions as to the liability of contributory infringers.”

– – – – – –

Going back to Copyright Law,

(e) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to the entire work… made from the collection of … archives… if the… archives has first determined… that a copy… cannot be obtained at a fair price, if?
(1) the copy or phonorecord becomes THE PROPERTY OF THE USER…

– – – – – –

Compare this to the above Term of Service:

…prints… may not be transferred to another individual or institution without permission…

– – – – – –

Compare to this case:

I also wonder how much the desire to run a photo reproduction permissions business and generate some revenue may have contributed to the museum?s seemingly sloppy practice.? Regardless of how the case turns out, the legal process is going to prove to be expensive, and if the Smithsonian should lose, it could face up to $150,000 in statutory damages per image.? $50 per image in licensing revenue hardly seems worth it if the desire to generate revenue led to the mistakes that appear to have been made.?

– – – – –

See: ANNE PEARSE-HOCKER v. United States

– – – – – –

(1) … and the library or archives has had NO NOTICE that the copy or phonorecord would be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research…

– – – — –

In the above, there is NO authority granted to archives to ASSUME responsibility for the USE of a work.

Compare to the Library of Congress, where the following phrase is inserted into the standard copyright notice used for copy services:


“All responsibility for use of the reproduction is assumed by the applicant.”

– – – –

Collecting information about the USE of a copy, opens an archives up for secondary infringement liability,


violates state Privacy Laws.

What law authorizes the collection of this personal information – – how will the personal information be used, how long will it be kept, is it subject to freedom of information, etc.?

If 10 people sell their copies of an image on eBay, and 20 people obtained a copy of that image from the Archives, how will the Archives know which recipient violated the Restrictive Covenant? The Terms of Service are unenforceable, against public policy, and represents censorship.

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