Karl's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the good-news-bad-news dept

Handling the "favorites of the week" post this week is Karl, one of our prolific commenter's who's known for calmly responding to questionable claims from other commenters with thorough, detailed insights and a firm grasp of the law and case law.

When Mike asked me to do a "Favorites of the Week" post, I joked that hopefully I'll be able to do "favorite posts" and not "bad news." A lot of the breaking news this week amounted to more of the same, and all bad: more third-party liability, the government lying about Wikileaks, ICE ramping up their seizures, even libraries teaching kids to hate a free press. Stuff like this is always going on, and it can't last forever, but after a while you get too saddened to think about it.

So, in 2011's spirit of optimism, I'd like start off with artists who are doing something right.

The obvious winner is Paulo Coelho, who heard that his books were banned in Iran, so he immediately offered them as a free download. This shows us that free public use of your art does not just make your work more valuable, it is also a tool to fight censorship and is a fundamental part of free expression. It's not about creating art for free; it's about keeping it from being imprisoned.

Honorable mention goes to Jono Bacon from the band Severed Fifth, who is using an open source model to "reinvent the music business." Now, the "reinventing" claim is a steaming pile of hyperbole, but it's awesome to see more artists realize that "open culture" is not their enemy. And this band is actually practicing what they preach: their album will be released under a CC-BY-SA license, which means that anyone can make money off of it... even you, faithful reader.

And I have to mention Deadmau5, who realized that a connection with his fans is more important than management relations. But it should be noted that Deadmau5 is not any sort of copyright abolitionist. In 2008, he took legal action against a Fruity Loops user called DirtyCircuit, who (unintentionally?) used uncleared Deadmau5 samples that were bundled with the software. As a result, Fruity Loops removed all melodic samples. I mostly like the Techdirt story because it led me to YouTube videos of Deadmau5 pranking his fans on Minecraft.

Of course, for every person who is doing something right, there are two who are downright clueless. They're not bad people, mind you; they just don't know what's going on.

Such was the case when Jim D'Addario defended his support of seizing music blogs. Mike responded by focusing on counterfeit goods, but, as I pointed out in the comments, that's the least worrisome thing about the seizures. Many of the seized domains had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with counterfeit products. This shows another bad result when you conflate counterfeiting with file sharing: companies can't object to horrible file sharing laws without undercutting their support for anti-counterfeiting efforts. Assuming they're even aware of it at all, of course. I genuinely think Jim D'Addario has no idea music blogs were seized and I'm guessing a lot of the companies on the list didn't either.

As a side note: One of the "counterfeiting sites" that Jim D'Addario mentioned is Alibaba.com. When I went to that site, I found a ton of cheap, shoddy merchandise -- most of it is crap, some of it is probably "grey market," and a couple of things might be counterfeit. But ironically, the one thing I did not find is counterfeit D'Addario guitar strings.

Of course, Jim D'Addario is far from the most clueless man in the industry. As usual, that honor goes to the heads of the RIAA, who this week claimed that a .music gTLD would "enable wide scale copyright and trademark infringement." As Marcus Carab pointed out, their attitude seems to be "ALL MUSIC = crime unless it is explicitly and completely controlled by us."

But it's even more ridiculous than that. The ability to get a .music gTLD would be available only to official members of the music community, deliberately to ward off pirates and cybersquatters. Constantine Roussos, the man behind the dotMusic campaign, is also the man behind FightPiracy.org. He's certainly no friend of piracy or enemy of the recording industry, despite the RIAA's assumptions. When it took aim at Roussos, the RIAA set its phasers to "stupid."

There's one final story that I'd like to mention, to complete this compliment sandwich. That is how ACS:Law is continuing to screw the pooch in court. There's nothing particularly surprising about this, but it makes me smile. It's like a cross between Boston Legal and the Keystone Cops. Hopefully the USCG suits in Minnesota will crash and burn too.

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 27 Jan 2011 @ 12:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I appreciate that. Mike's right in that I am very interested in the arguments, doctrine, and analysis. But that's not all I'm interested in. I'm interested in justice for everyone: the rights holders, the government, the defendants, everyone. Mike only cares about one side of things, and that's fine, but that's not what I care about. To say I'm "morally bankrupt" is silly, and honestly, I think Mike just didn't want to debate me on the merits so he called me a name and ran off like a little child. Whatever. That's par for the course for Mike.

    I guess it's only fair that I give you a more complete explanation, since you seem to have taken my serious concern over your moral depravity to be a mere insult, rather than an honest assertion (and hope that you might reconsider such a position).

    Put simply, I believe strongly that what's right is more important than what's in the law. And I will stand up for that. I have no problem with someone arguing that a different position is right. But that's not what you said.

    That you seem to think what's right is a minor matter, so long as the law is followed is moral depravity. It suggests that you are not someone who will stand up for what's right in the face of injustice. You claim otherwise in the statement above, but your words are in conflict.

    If you believe that someone's fundamental rights are being stomped on, and you say "but it's ok, because the law says it's okay," that's morally bankrupt.

    It means that you are not actually making a moral judgment at all, but inserting the law in place of your morals. It is the very definition of moral bankruptcy. That's not an insult, it's based on your very statements, claiming that morals are less important than the law.

    That position really does make me physically ill and uncomfortable talking to someone like you. I've talked, at great length, about where moral discussion do and don't fit into conversations on business models and such, but to suggest that morals are subservient to the law is a recipe for pure evil. It's the justification for all sorts of awful things. If you look around the world, at terrible things that are done by governments worldwide, so much of it is based on the theory that morality is subservient to the law. It's morally bankrupt.

    Finally, you say I "only care about one thing," implying that I do not care about "rights holders." Please don't lie. While you sit in law school, I'm out here HELPING ARTISTS. I care about them a ton, which is why I HELP THEM better understand how to build fanbases and make more money.

    I don't appreciate you lying about my position.

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