from the birthday-bust dept
This week, we got a lot of reactions to the huge (but not necessarily surprising) discovery of evidence showing that Happy Birthday has been in the public domain for nearly a century. There was a general agreement that this whole situation is insane, but one specific suggestion that it was "petty" and "a waste of taxpayers money" garnered a push-back from PaulT that won most insightful comment of the week:
A sign that the system is broken? Yes. A petty dispute? I don't call the fact that a private company is hoarding rights to a song that should have been in the public domain decades ago to the tune of $2 million/year petty. If the song is public domain, they are making huge levels of income based on a lie.
A waste of taxpayer money? Again, I don't see how returning the public's property to its rightful owners under the original contract is a waste, especially if this results in a wider discussion of how broken and one-sided the copyright system is. Especially if as a result of this, Warner are found to have been misleading enough to be forced to return its ill-gotten gains and other companies are forced to return public domain properties to their rightful owners. OK, that's unlikely, but I can dream.
It's a silly dispute in that it should never have been allowed to come to this, but since we're here it's a good fight to have.
Meanwhile, we were quite disturbed by one veteran's story of being on the receiving end of a police raid, and discovering that quite unlike his military training, it is "standard procedure to point guns at suspects in many cases to protect the lives of police officers". That One Guy took second place for insightful by expanding on this extremely worrying contrast:
And they wonder why people don't, and should never, trust them...
The military are taught that guns are dangerous weapons, only to be brought out when you plan on using them, and are willing to accept the consequences of doing so. The police on the other hand are apparently taught to draw guns at the first possible opportunity, and treat them not as deadly tools fully capable of killing someone with a single twitch of a finger, but simply a method of intimidation.
Also, gotta love(or is that 'loathe')that double standard in play.
Police point guns at someone else to 'protect' themselves, even when it's not needed? Perfectly acceptable, and in fact outright desirable.
If someone pointed a gun at a cop in order to 'protect' themselves from a them? Attempted murder, assaulting an officer, whatever charges they can cook up, and assume they aren't gunned down on the spot(not likely), they're almost certain to spend several years in jail for 'attempted murder of an officer'.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more nod to That One Guy for a thematically related comment on a partially-related post about asset forfeiture, this time taking on the pervasive and dangerous idea that "criminals don't deserve the protection of the law":
That is one of the nastier ideas that has infected 'law enforcement' specifically, and even society in general, the idea that if you break the law, or are even accused of breaking the law, that it means you no longer deserve to be protected by the law. I've even seen people argue this in the comments section on TD, the idea that those that act outside the laws have, by their actions, removed themselves from the protections the laws provide, and no longer deserve any sort of fair or just treatment by the system, because criminal/terrorist.
'Sure we stole a bunch of stuff from someone, without any sort of trial or anything, but look, they're a criminal, that makes it okay!'
This idea however is terrible, as both 'guilty' and innocent both deserve the full protection of the law, otherwise it becomes utterly meaningless. If you can strip away someone's right simply by accusation, or even the finding of guilt, then those protections cease to exist, and are merely optional, to be applied at whim.
Next, we head to our excellent guest post by Barry Eisler about the many ways in which the Authors Guild and similar groups utterly fail to represent the interest of authors. One one commenter, apropos of absolutely nothing, accused us of "loving pirates" and promoting piracy, Barry dove into the comments to point out the irrelevance of this assertion... then debunk it anyway, for good measure:
Forget about the misleading "never met a pirate you didn't love" cliche intro, or the bullshit notion that anyone is advocating for piracy as a "right"... if your point is that the Authors Guild's efforts against piracy somehow redeem all the pro-publisher activities I discuss in my article, your response is at best awfully tangential.
Anti-piracy efforts don't help authors because piracy doesn't hurt authors:
The whole notion that piracy is a zero-sum game, that someone who downloads a book for free would have paid full price for it if the free download were impossible, is antithetical to common sense and everyday experience. Anti-piracy efforts are emotion driven and ignore logic and evidence.
I say all this, by the way, as an author who is regularly informed by the AG et al that he should be terrified of and enraged by piracy. Yawn.
With all that, you want to rebut my post by talking about how the AG hates piracy? How about a response a little more on-point than that?
Over on the funny side, for first place we return to the Happy Birthday saga, and Warner's obfuscating response. One anonymous commenter couldn't resist a little singalong:
Happy Birthday to sue
Happy Birthday to sue
if it quacks like a duck
we'll sue it like one too
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
I screwed the public domain
and all of you
I'm sure they are singing all the way to the bank... 10M gross @ 2M net for the last 80 years, I could retire on that
In second place, we've got a simple response from jupiterkansas to a simple question: have "We the People" petitions ever had any real results?
Well... we know they're not building a Death Star.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with an anonymous comment about the hologram rap concert that was shut down because politicians and cops didn't like his lyrics — but it's an idea that could be applied in all sorts of situations:
I think we should follow the Youtube example and make them take a course on the Constitution. After 3 strikes you're no longer allowed to hold office.
Finally, in response to Wordpress taking a stand against abusive DMCA takedowns, we've got someone under the name Mr Big Content providing some extremely deadpan sarcasm:
This is Why We Need Much Stricter Copyright Laws
All this does is put more obstacles in the way of intellectual property owners trying to prevent theft of their intellectual property. Why should intellectual property be a special case, with all these extra hoops to jump through, compared to any other property? It should be treated the same!
It is too much to expect intellectual property owners to bear all the burden of looking after their property. The Internet has a moral obligation to help us. After all, they are the technical experts, what is so hard for us should be childishly easy for them, they just don't want to do the work. Unlike normal property, intellectual property needs to be treated very specially and carefully, with lots of extra legal restrictions, because it so easily gets thefted
That's all for this week, folks!