Canadian Actor Claims Mashups Are Morally Wrong And Should Be Illegal

from the get-off-my-cultural-lawn dept

It's kind of amazing how frequently those who argue and advocate for more draconian copyright laws show themselves to be totally out of touch with actual culture. In fact, it frequently seems like they want these laws to prevent new forms of culture simply because they don't like (and don't understand) the culture. For example, Michael Geist notes that Leah Pinsent, a Canadian actor, appearing on behalf of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), spoke before the government, arguing against a "mashup" provision in the proposed copyright reform, which would legalize non-commercial, with attribution, mashup works. According to Pinsent, this idea is immoral:
Ms. Pinsent is fighting to prohibit so-called “mash-ups,” which allow anyone to take elements of works that Canadian artists have created and mix them with other works to create something new. She argues the practice is “morally wrong” and constitutes a form of plagiarism.
Of course, plagiarism is when you take someone else's work without attribution (and is separate from copyright law). Under the proposed law, attribution is required, so it's not clear what Pinsent is so upset about, other than that she just doesn't like mashups. But, as we've seen over and over again, this just appears to be cultural snobbery by someone who doesn't know much about mashup culture, no different than past generations who looked down on jazz, rock, rap or any other "new" music that they just didn't get. Nothing in a mashup takes away from an older work. There's this weird belief that someone doing something with your work somehow "damages" the original, but nothing is further from the truth. Mashups quite frequently introduce new audiences to old works and create new appreciations for old works. I know that's absolutely true with me. When I listen to various mashups, I'm always much more interested in hearing the originals. So I'm at a loss as to how it could be immoral or bad.

Of course, Pinsent isn't completely alone in this view. After all, much of the world has "moral rights" built into copyright law, which allow creators to block others from modifying their works on "moral" grounds. In fact, moral rights are required under the Berne Convention (something the US has skirted by granting them in an incredibly limited fashion such that they really don't exist). But I've never understood how there's any actual moral claim behind moral rights. How is it "moral" to block others from creating something entirely new? It seems, once again, to be based on the idea that the new somehow "harms" the old, but I've yet to see an argument for how that makes any sense at all.


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Query

    Isn't a movie trailer a mashup?

     

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      Nathan F (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:00am

      Re: Query

      I would say yes, they are a visual mashup or montage. However I do believe that they are usually made by the movie studios themselves and I'm sure they gave themselves permission to 'make something new' with the footage.

       

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      Lisa, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

      Re: Query

      A movie trailer isn't a mashup. A mashup is generally several works put together to create something new. A movie trailer is an "ad" for the movie and is more a derivative work or simply an excerpt from the original. A studio would have provisions to produce trailers and other ad material for the film within all the contracts with pertinent players involved - eg actors, director, writers, etc... Anyone who would have contributed copyrightable material.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    I think homosexuality is morally wrong and should be illegal

    Its true, it is morally wrong. And because I say it is, it should be up to the government and private companies to get rid of it. Disgusting gays with their gayness...
    I don't care about mashups, but he can get rid of them also. Just as long as we also get rid of the gays...and maybe Muslims too

     

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    el_segfaulto (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    We see time and time again how people like the aforementioned Pinsent try to dilute the English language by using socially charged words. Creating a mashup is about as morally wrong as discussing an NFL game with your coworkers without first being granted express written permission. We also see it with the term "stealing". I hear it all the time from grade school children, "You stole my idea!", etc. It's astonishing to me to hear supposedly educated people equating copyright (which is NOT a natural right) infringement to stealing and immorality.

    I've heard the maximilists say "You're taking something that doesn't belong to you." to which I think, y'know I can take a picture of the mountain that your house is built on, it doesn't mean that I've stolen your house, your mountain, or the work of the various parties who helped build the home. In fact, I could then use that photograph to create artwork, maybe it's an undersea mountain inhabited by snorks, maybe it's a mountain on another planet inhabited by snorks...the long and short of it is, inspiration is not stealing. Copyright infringement is not stealing, it is breaking an outdated law that has ceased to have any benefit to society and should be rewritten completely.

     

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    DOlz (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Living culture

    When one of these artists can prove to me that everything they have "created" is brand new and original with nothing that has gone before I'll get in their corner. It is virtually impossible create something that isn't a mashup to some degree.

     

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      herodotus (profile), Dec 30th, 2011 @ 6:13am

      Re: Living culture

      "It is virtually impossible create something that isn't a mashup to some degree."

      This is not true.

      There are lots of non-mashup-making artists out there, it's just that no one really likes their work because appreciating it requires an effort.

      Most people like the art that they consume to effort-free and familiar.

       

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        herodotus (profile), Dec 30th, 2011 @ 6:20am

        Re: Re: Living culture

        And for the record, no, I don't think that mashups are immoral.

        Vast oversimplifications, on the other hand, can lead to immorality.

         

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

    No matter how varied what goes in, comes out as a narrow range of crap.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:19am

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      tell me blue, are you gay or Muslim?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:52am

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      That's unusually well spoken for you. I mean there's no gratuitous caps or slashes or anything. Now if you could stop talking like someone who has absolutely no understanding of the origin of all art in general, it's all a mashup of some kind after all, we'd be all set (for this narrow range of topics at least).

       

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      Iori Branford, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      Which would not (if it were true) make it any more the business of the law or the courts. They are as B52 bombers at a bar fight in this matter.

       

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      Greg G (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      So what you're saying is that because our fathers, or our fathers fathers, or our fathers fathers fathers, (right, I'll stop laboring the point), created an aqueduct, paved a road, irrigated a farm, or did *anything* prior to me having done it, that whatever I do, no matter how much or how little I may or may not have been influenced by our fathers, or our fathers fathers, or our fathers fathers fathers (right, stop it!) will still just be crap.

      How about you go tell that to 3M. "We don't
      make the products, we just make them better."

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:32pm

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      Your opinion is invalid.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Nov 8th, 2011 @ 4:42am

      Re: Mashups create something "new" as your stomach does to food.

      You're entitled to your personal opinion. You are not entitled to create legislation based on it to try and force other peoples' taste in the same direction.

      Live with it.

       

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    It could lead to dancing!

     

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      The Incoherent One (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      The first big step on the road
      To the depths of deg-ra-Day--
      I say, first, medicinal wine from a teaspoon,
      Then beer from a bottle.
      An' the next thing ya know,
      Your son is playin' for money
      In a pinch-back suit.
      And list'nin to some big out-a-town Jasper
      Hearin' him tell about horse-race gamblin'.
      Not a wholesome trottin' race, no!
      But a race where they set down right on the horse!
      Like to see some stuck-up jockey'boy
      Sittin' on Dan Patch? Make your blood boil?
      Well, I should say.
      Friends, lemme tell you what I mean.
      Ya got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets in a table.
      Pockets that mark the diff'rence
      Between a gentlemen and a bum,
      With a capital "B,"
      And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool!
      And all week long your River City
      Youth'll be frittern away,
      I say your young men'll be frittern!
      Frittern away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too!
      Get the ball in the pocket,
      Never mind gittin' Dandelions pulled
      Or the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded.
      Never mind pumpin' any water
      'Til your parents are caught with the Cistern empty
      On a Saturday night and that's trouble,
      Oh, yes we got lots and lots a' trouble.
      I'm thinkin' of the kids in the knickerbockers,
      Shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool
      Hall window after school, look, folks!
      Right here in River City.
      Trouble with a capital "T"
      And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool!

      - Music Man - Ya Got Trouble

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_Oe-jtgdI

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

      yeah...

      gay mashup dancing...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    I find Leah Pinsent morally wrong. Can I make her illegal?

     

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    Wiggs (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    It boggles my mind that someone could watch something like that '39 songs I like' mashup that was posted here the other day and NOT consider that something entirely new and creative.

    The time involved; finding precisely the right clips from the songs to use, the practice it must have taken to arrange and then perform that live on camera... staggering. Easily equivalent to what any amateur musician does - and I say that being an amateur musician myself.

    Yes - attribution is a good thing. Even though many of the songs used in that particular one were not my cup of tea, I still listened to a bunch of them to try to figure out how it had been put together.

    How is it morally wrong to make fun electronica using clips of other people's work, if they're correctly attributed? I just don't understand.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Let me give you an example of what could be done with a "mash-up".

    Let's say I am an activist who is strongly opposed to existing enforcement efforts of copyright laws. I create a video of myself describing how the existing laws harm innovation and prevent new derrivative works from being created. Now imagine that someone who is a proponent of increased enforcement of copyright laws takes my video removes the audio portion and completely changes the message (sort of like a vigilante version of Bad Lip Reading). The audio portion of the "mash-up" makes it look like I am in favor of even more strict copyright law when in fact I oppose this position.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      What's your point beyond the fact that some people generally lie and manipulate? What does that have to do with mash-ups in general or as a cultural force?

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

        Re: Re:

        This is the same AC that's trying to say Mike "mashed-up" Hillary Clinton's speech to say something she didn't. That's his point, an attempt to discredit TD nothing more.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Wrong, I don't even know what you are are talking about. Stop being a troll. If you want to address the specifics of the example fine, but don't just come into the thread and yell DERPA DERPA DERPA.

           

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            Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You want specifics? Well, first of all, you didn't ask a question, you just gave an example of something unethical that could be done with mashups. What are you trying to say? You seem to be implying that there is something inherently wrong with mashups because an unethical person could possibly abuse them. But you don't actually come out and say that, it's just an obvious inference. Are you taking a stand? Asking a question? Trying to start a debate? You've left the whole thing open, and then accused one responder of being a "troll" and ignored the responder who asked what your point was?

            So, what is your point? If your point is that mashups can be used towards unethical or immoral or illegal ends, so what? Are you asking for debate on that subject? If so, my reply is that I can use a knife for the same or similar ends. Or a hammer. Or an automobile. Or a building. Or a belt. A fist. Ammonia. Water. Wood. Words. Nothing exists that cannot be abused. The very possibility that something can be abused towards unfortunate ends does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with it.

            Mashups aren't even the issue in your example. It's the technology used to make them. The technology required to use audio-visual records show somebody saying something that he never actually said in real life has existed since it was possible to edit audio-visual records. The fact that modern technology makes it easier for the masses to do doesn't actually change anything.

            If you want to ban one specific form of modern technology because it happens to be used to make something you personally object to, then I'd say you can probably get pills for that, or some kind of therapy. If you object to all modern technology because it can be abused, then I'd say to go find somewhere more primitive to live, Mr. Luddite. But before you go, answer this: just how far back do you feel it necessary to go before you've eliminated enough potential for abuse to make you safe? Because if somebody gets really pissed off at you they can always hit you with a rock. Good luck banning rocks.

            If that's not what you were trying to say then perhaps you might stop with the ad hominem attacks and actually tell us what you're looking for? Because otherwise anything we say could get a response of "I don't understand, that's not what I said, you're a troll. HERP DERP!"

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      Sounds like a funny parody. I'm all for it.

      Is your point that people could be tricked into believing that people are advocating something that they're not because their work has been mashed up? Sounds pretty far-fetched.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re:

        Far fetched? My point is where do you draw the line between fair use and abuse? Many people on here think if it's in a digital format it should be able to be used, copied, distributed, and modified without a deriviative works license.

        Try making a living as an artist before you go telling them they should have no rights to determine how their performances are used.

         

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          dwg, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Dude, the whole discussion is predicated on the mash-ups worth arguing over being transformative. Your position would remove the possibility of transformation being a defense to infringement...and it is.

           

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          dwg, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, sorry: I left out the somewhat personal fact that I have made my living as an artist.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why does your scenario have to do with artists making a living? In what way does misrepresentation have anything to do with artists earning a living or mash-ups as a cultural force in general?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Mash-up's are like making a photocopy of the Mona Lisa and painting a mustache across her lip. It's not art, it's not innovative, it's not creative, it's crawling on the shoulders of giants without learning how to stand for yourself. This is the belief of the "Entitlement Generation". An entire generation that has been told they are precious snowflakes their whole life. The generation of Napster/torrent kids who think they are free to take and not give back. A generation of consumers who are puzzled why anyone would value the artistic integrity of any work.

            Get off my lawn!

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 2:59pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That Marcel Duchamp piece is considered art.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.H.O.O.Q.

               

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              PaulT (profile), Nov 8th, 2011 @ 5:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "the Mona Lisa and painting a mustache across her lip. It's not art, it's not innovative, it's not creative"

              You might not like it, but actual art critics and others seem to think that this is indeed art. Sure, some disagreed, but Duchamp created art. Sorry, your personal opinion is irrelevant.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.H.O.O.Q.

              "An entire generation that has been told they are precious snowflakes their whole life."

              Should I get off your lawn as well, grandpa? I'm 36 years old, by the way, and having grown up with (among other genres) hip-hop and house music, I appreciate a good mashup as much as any teenager.

              "A generation of consumers who are puzzled why anyone would value the artistic integrity of any work."

              Citation needed, else I'll just assume you're lying out of your ass again because you can't bear to agree with Mike or anyone else on basic concepts. Again.

               

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      Sage (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      And your point is?

       

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Now... imagine she's white.

      Wait, wrong movie.

       

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      dwg, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      I think you're confusing copyright infringement with defamation, friend. See how that works? Here: I lie about what you've said, or a position you've taken, and I do so in a way that actually injures you. Well, that's actionable--just not as any sort of infringement. Your moral argument is about the misrepresentation of your position, right?

      Would it be any better if I paid for a license and then did exactly what you describe above--mixing up your speech to distort your viewpoint? If you're trying to make a case that "infringement" is the problem, your answer has to be "yes--it's much better, and I condone it."

       

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    Pendant, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    If you bother to think about it

    If you bother to think about it, I would guess that most in these precincts would find it objectionable for a record label to take away a musician's control over what is released under their name by re-editing, re-mixing, choosing different takes, etc? So maybe it would be useful to know the distinctions you will allow as true between that situation and one where a person completely unknown to the musician takes the release and subjects it to anything they like including (for example) subversion or perversion? Believe it or not, there are people out here with moral values (often spiritually-derived) who might not agree with you that there is a difference -- perhaps Woody Allen or Scorcese, who testified to Congress about third-party colorizing of films.

    Presumably even Techdirt, whatever it may be, would find it somehow objectionable if its proudly reusable works were to share space with incitements to commit child abuse, stringing up politicians (however popular the sentiment would be here in the peanut gallery) or mass destruction on some unhinged blog somewhere. Roy Orbison's estate sued so his song "Pretty Woman" wouldn't be associated with 2 Live Crew's, er, interpretation of it (which it is -- "pretty woman orbison" in Google returns the Wikipedia article in first place, and "pretty woman song" has the WP link as the first non-video one) -- I may celebrate the resulting fair use doctrine but I don't belittle the estate for caring or say they must be making some insane distinction that I cannot for the life of me fathom. There's a point where "I don't understand how X can believe Y" stops being merely rhetorical and starts evidencing your own lack of capacity, bad faith, or both.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

      Re: If you bother to think about it

      I don't care, as long as we get rid of the homo's and muslims

       

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      Wiggs (profile), Nov 7th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

      Re: If you bother to think about it

      You say "Presumably even Techdirt, whatever it may be, would find it somehow objectionable if its proudly reusable works were to share space with incitements to commit child abuse, stringing up politicians..." etc, etc

      They might find it objectionable. That's probably true. That does not make it IMMORAL to do so, and it also does not mean any kind of legality should be enshrined against it. I'm pretty sure that Mike would argue the same thing.

      Nothing you have presented in your post gives any legitimacy to the idea of establishing legal remedies against a problem perceived as immoral. Your Roy Orbison example falls flat - they sued, and lost... do you sympathize with them and think it should have gone the other way, or do you actually "celebrate the resulting fair use doctrine"? Saying "Oh, I'm glad they lost but I don't question why they did it" is flawed - it's hedging for the ability to stand on both sides of a fence.

      If you "don't belittle the estate for caring or say they must be making some insane distinction that I cannot for the life of me fathom" - please tell us, then... what is the distinction? Do you understand it? You spend a fair number of words here telling us what you "don't" think... so what DO you think?

      Also, 2 Live Crew's "Pretty Woman" is not an "interpretation", as you say - but a legally protected parody. That's a "pretty" big difference.

      When it gets right down to it, you seem to be saying (if I may boil it down) that it should be a legal right for a creator to have the ultimate decision about what can and cannot be done with their work. Is that right?

      Please present to us a cogent argument that explains why, precisely (and without weasel words), the 'feelings' and 'morals' of a given creator should be enshrined as a legal right to shut down any kind of derivation or building on their work that they happen to disagree with?

      Now, for bonus points: Can you do so without resorting to logical fallacies and more vague personal attacks?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

      Re: If you bother to think about it

      "I would guess that most in these precincts would find it objectionable for a record label to take away a musician's control over what is released under their name by re-editing, re-mixing, choosing different takes, etc? So maybe it would be useful to know the distinctions you will allow as true between that situation and one where a person completely unknown to the musician takes the release and subjects it to anything they like including (for example) subversion or perversion?"

      Wow, you can't even seem to describe the two scenarios without missing the important parts even when they're there in your own words. See the part in bold? That's the objectionable part when combined with the situation that faces up and coming artists who are forced to use their rights as down payments on the loans they need to get a label to produce for them. It exists in the first scenario, not the second.

      "Presumably even Techdirt, whatever it may be, would find it somehow objectionable if its proudly reusable works were to share space with incitements to commit child abuse, stringing up politicians (however popular the sentiment would be here in the peanut gallery) or mass destruction on some unhinged blog somewhere"

      Mash-up and defamation are not synonyms. I wouldn't be calling anyone out on their own "lack of capacity, bad faith, or both" while employing such conflations. Not understanding is a right sight better than intentionally misleading.

       

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        dwg, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

        Re: Re: If you bother to think about it

        I'm going to give the first AC who makes this inane conflation the benefit of the doubt: he or she clearly just doesn't know what s/he's talking about and wanted to sound all strident anyway. Defamation? Copyright Infringement? Same thing to that one.

        The one above . . . oh, crap--I just re-read. Also just a straight-up idiot. Needs to read something, rather than just trying to remember things he or she has heard somewhere, a while ago about . . . um . . . what was it again? Some rapper and Roy Orbison? Oh, and bonus lost points for conviction in the face of stupidity.

         

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    Rekrul, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    What do you expect from someone who doesn't even know enough to make sure that her photos are all right-side up before they're posted on her IMDb page?

     

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    Michael, Nov 7th, 2011 @ 6:32pm

    Who?

    I'm bombarded with Canadian content since I live here, and I have no idea who this woman is...

     

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    hmm (profile), Nov 8th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Well

    I say she's just a "mashup" of other peoples DNA and is therefore morally wrong and she is just a form of genetic plagiarism.

    Ban this woman immediately!

     

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    steph, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 6:37pm

    moral rights

    hey mate, nah mash-ups don't usually infringe moral rights. Actually moral rights have nothing to do with morality (that's just how they've been translated from the French 'droit morale'). actually they are about protecting the personality of the author. BUT most jurisdictions (and the berne convention sets this as the relevant standard) require that the modified work actually prejudice the author's reputation or honour. This is a pretty high standard and is objective not subjective. It depends where you are but I'd imagine the US is somewhat similar to Australia in their application of moral rights if they acknowledged a claim. Anyway, my point is that mash-ups don't usually infringe moral rights because they don't usually objectively damage an author's reputation. Anyway, in Australia there is a defence that allows derogatory treatment so long as it was reasonable considering the purpose of the treatment of the original work. Say if a mash-up was made as a parody (which is rarely the case as most mash-up artists commemorate the author by sampling them), then the derogatory treatment could be reasonable because it was for the purpose of making a parody.

    So there you go, the author's moral rights are to protect his reputation and personality contained within his work. The best argument against this random is that he doesn't understand moral rights and mash-up music does not undermine an author's moral rights.

    There you go, hope that enlightens everyone. Otherwise, I fully agree with your article, I hate snobby people that try to make intelligent arguments using big words for why not to allow mash-up music. The worst is when those people who think they are cultured (very uncultured if you ask me) don't know the meanings of those words and assume everyone in the game going for the mash-up team is too stupid to outsmart them. ugh. If they don't like the art form then just say so, don't try to make 'smart' arguments that are inherently stupid to justify their hate for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      steph, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 6:40pm

      Re: moral rights

      ps this is totally not directed at you, you're all for mash-up music so obviously you're cultured. I'm just sick of those snobby people trying to outsmart our generation.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      steph, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 6:40pm

      Re: moral rights

      ps this is totally not directed at you, you're all for mash-up music so obviously you're cultured. I'm just sick of those snobby people trying to outsmart our generation.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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