by Leigh Beadon

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the heads-i-win,-tails-you-lose dept

Lyric sites have always been among the strangest targets that copyright holders take aim at, and the NMPA's attack on RapGenius — a site full of commentary, conversation and analysis — takes things to a new and despicable level. But, as with so many condemnations by copyright holders, there's an inherent contradiction here, which our anonymous Most Insightful comment points out:

Here's a crazy idea please hear me out...

If the lyric sites are are making so much money and taking money away from the record companies and songwriters then WHY DON'T THE RECORD COMPANIES AND SONGWRITERS MAKE LYRIC SITES THEMSELVES AND PROFIT???

The void being filled is of their own making.

Of course, the industry old guard is terrified of that argument, because it applies just as well to free music and the supposed millions of dollars that they insist pirates are raking in with it.

The real thievery, as we've noted time and time again, happens when works are removed from the public domain, because then something actually is being taken away, as it was recently in the UK. That notion was contested on the grounds that these works aren't missing if you are willing to pay for them — but Karl won second place for insightful by putting that notion to bed:

If those works go out of print, then they absolutely are missing.

If some derivative work is not allowed by the copyright holder, then that work absolutely is missing.

If orchestras can't afford to perform that music now, their performances absolutely are missing.

Yes, it is "stealing." At least, closer to "stealing" than infringement is.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with one more comment from that same post, in which That One Guy points out how every unjustified extension of copyright further erodes public respect for the law:

Stuff like this is why the more people learn about copyright law, and it's history, the more they ignore it or hold it in contempt.

Retroactive copyright term extensions? The entire premise of copyright is the creator has X number of years of exclusive use of the copyright, and then it passes to the public. That's the 'deal' as it were, between the public and the creators.

To then have the deal changed, after the fact and entirely in the favor of corporations(because the second copyright duration was extended past 'life of the creator', it became crystal clear and irrefutable that the law was being written for companies, not creators), means the 'deal' was broken, and the promise of 'the creator owns it now, but after a set amount of time passes ownership moves to the public' was shown to be nothing but a lie, and broken deals, and promises based on lies, are two things that most don't care for, and certainly don't respect.

Next, we'll look at one of the reasons we constantly face such bad deals: Duke provided an excellent summary of how agreements like the TPP are used to ratchet up copyright law:

It's a fairly standard process now. Country A expands copyright law. Then they push a treaty or agreement which encourages other countries to match them. Except the treaty has room for uncertainty; enough so that, before it is in force, the countries can claim that it is compatible with their existing laws, but afterwards can be used to justify an expansion.

And so one country goes further than the others (with duration that's currently Mexico, with the longest duration - and it's pushing for some longer copyright in TPP, along with the US). And then it starts again, with that country leading the way to push their position on others.

But at each level the treaty locks things into place, so even if things go wrong, copyright can never get reduced or shortened. Even if all the countries realise they don't actually want such strong laws, they can't do anything without re-negotiating the treaty (and possibly not even then, if it has investor-state dispute resolution procedures).

Copyright always gets bigger, never smaller.

There's a good explicit example of this in the recent change to UK copyright law (covered by Techdirt here). It extends copyright in various situations, including some where it returns works that were in the public domain back into copyright. But then there is a specific section that makes it clear that even if the drafters have screwed up somewhere and made copyright shorter for some works, the old term will still apply. It's a one-way process.

Over on the funny side, we start with the return of the 'Attribution Troll' who may or may not be Shaun Shane. Amidst all the weirdness in that story, one thing is certain: we're all sick of hearing that one-line poem. An anonymous commenter took first place for funny by expressing this with a more physiologically literal reading:

IF only our tongues were made of glass, we wouldn't be alive to hear this shit.

In second place we've got a joke that I cannot myself comment on, as I have little to no knowledge of Dr. Who — but with the son of the original writer looking to cash in on the character's ongoing popularity, S. T. Stone had his own glimpse of the future:

I’d tell you how Whovians will respond to this, but…spoilers!

(I assumed their response would be to hold hands and sing, sing without Tardis, sing without Sonic Screwdrivers or Daleks — but I may be mashing up two franchises.)

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about Nutribullet trademark trolling, where one anonymous commenter did their best impersonation of a moron in a hurry:

Holy cow! I read the word "Nutribullet" on Techdirt, got confused, and thought I was on Nutribullet's official website for a moment.

Seriously though, someone needs to fire a Nutribullet at these clowns.

And finally we've got DannyB with his take on the TSA's new barely-better-than-a-coin-flip program:

Look Tim,

While this billion dollar program may be only slightly more accurate, at least it does not infringe upon my patent.

My patent is for a method and system for making binary decisions based on the launching of a flat round decision support device into the air and making a determination of the outcome based on which side the decision support device lands on.

I will also sell these decision support devices. A basic model for $10 is made of copper and is decorated with a picture of Lincoln on one side. A more expensive $25 model has a picture of George Washington and is constructed using superior metals.

This is a valuable patent from which I anticipate making a mint (no pun intended).

This is NOT a lame software patent. This is a patent on genuine hardware contributing a genuine advance in the important field of executive management decision making which has major applications in the areas of business, commerce, sporting events and terrorist detection.

Now if only he could secure the copyright on the Eenie Meenie poem, he'd have a near-total monopoly.

That's all for this week, folks!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2013 @ 12:18pm

    anyone aware of the exact reasons used by the arse holes in the UK to extend copyright, again, and to bring some out of the public domain and back into the copyright zone? how did the judges justify what they were doing or were their thought drowned out by the chinking of coins and the rustling of bank notes?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2013 @ 12:34pm


      It was a bad news day elsewhere?

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

    • icon
      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 17 Nov 2013 @ 3:08pm


      anyone aware of the exact reasons used by the arse holes in the UK to extend copyright
      I asked my MP this very question. No answer is yet forthcoming.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Nov 2013 @ 3:20pm


      Isn't it obvious?

      Because money.

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

    • icon
      Nellius (profile), 18 Nov 2013 @ 3:34am


      I believe the UK had to extend it in order to bring the UK into line with the rest of Europe, thanks to EU law.

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

    • icon
      Duke (profile), 18 Nov 2013 @ 5:57am


      It was EU Directive 2011/77/EU. The law went through the Parliament in the late 00s, but got stalled by Denmark(?) and a few other countries blocking it. In 2011 Denmark changed its position, which meant it could get enough votes to pass through the EU Council. The new Parliament tried to block it (or call it for another vote) but they were stalled long enough for it to get through.

      The change itself was pushed mainly by the UK and French recorded music industry, particularly the late EMI. Much of their balance sheet value was wrapped up in the copyrights of sound recordings from the 50s and 60s, so they had been trying for a long time to get the copyright extended (even though their own study on its effects showed it wouldn't help them much, and would be bad for everyone else).

      Obviously it was too late to save EMI - perhaps if they'd spent more money investing in new music, and less in trying to cling on to the past, they'd have survived.

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

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 17 Nov 2013 @ 12:23pm


    My patent is for a method and system for making binary decisions based on the launching of a flat round decision support device into the air and making a determination of the outcome based on which side the decision support device lands on.

    The tragedy is that if you submitted this enough times to the patent office (with slightly different wording) it would eventually get through!

    (On second thoughts maybe not - since the patent office itself has prior art - how do you think it decides whether to approve patents?)

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

  • icon
    justok (profile), 17 Nov 2013 @ 12:29pm

    It's Doctor Who. You don't abreviate it to Dr. Who unless you're on twitter.

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

  • identicon
    The Prick, 17 Nov 2013 @ 8:16pm


    Look, I still think, when I see that POS advertisement, of 'piece of shit' this is, of course, as a laymen, but I think not everyone who browses techdirt is in sales.

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

  • identicon
    River Song, 17 Nov 2013 @ 9:47pm

    The Doctor

    River Song

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

  • identicon
    Paul Keating, 18 Nov 2013 @ 4:05am

    Reversing Copyright Extensions

    I am surprised no one has figured this out. It is a long-term play. The extensions are
    just a way to earn more profits from a dying business.

    Step 1. Lobby to extend copyrights.

    Step 2. Abuse copyrights to engender a political backlash
    resulting in a "return" to a normal "period".

    Step 3. Object, but not too strongly, to the subsequent
    reduction in the copyright period to ensure
    reduction of the term.

    Step 4. Start measuring downloads of works that have now
    been "given back" to the public.

    Step 5. File a lawsuit against the US government seeking
    damages under the theory of Eminent domain.

    Cite the 5th Amendment as your authority.

    Argue that but for the reduction in term, all of the downloads would have been infringing.

    Argue that the fair value of the property is $150,000
    per copyright per download.

    Cite the Lanham Act as the Government's own admission
    to fair value per work per infringement.

    Retain Team Prenda to collect the judgment.


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

  • icon
    RyanNerd (profile), 18 Nov 2013 @ 5:58am

    Copyright deal

    I am altering the deal. Pray that I don't alter it further.

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

  • identicon
    Lurker Keith, 18 Nov 2013 @ 8:14am

    Doctor Who

    Since no one else seems to want to clearly explain the Spoilers thing, I will... Also, the TARDIS, Sonic Screwdriver & Daleks are all indeed from Doctor Who.

    Since The Doctor travels through time, it's possible for him to meet someone who experienced something before he's gotten to it in his personal timeline (ie. the order HE experiences events). Since telling someone about their future can cause problems, one such a character says "spoilers" anytime the Doctor asks for such info.

    I have no idea how I managed to explain that clearly w/o any spoilers myself. lol

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

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Nov 2013 @ 8:18am

      Re: Doctor Who

      Thanks! Makes sense.

      And, to explain my joke in response, the franchise mash-up to which I referred was between Doctors Who and Seuss

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

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