from the cwf+rtb dept
Beside the NSA imbroglio (which I refer to below) there were a number interesting and thought provoking CWF+RTB=$ posts this week:
First were two opposing artist views on the role of digital distribution. The first "Author Claims that Fair Use is Theft By Any Other Name" by Masnick is a wonderful dissection of author Linda Jaivin's article Long Story Short: Fair Use is Theft By Any Other Name. He deftly points out that Jaivin liberally builds off of other content creator's work to promote (via her title) and create (via her research) her own content without providing them compensation. I especially liked this closing paragraph:
Copyright law has never been about "protecting against theft." It has always been about an incentive for creation such that the public can benefit. And, along those lines, in the US we've long recognized that fair use plays a key role in that, allowing people to increase the amount of creation by being able to build on, transform, comment on, criticize, etc. the works of others. No one is arguing for the wholesale copying of works, or the eradication of copyright here. They're just saying that the ability to freely quote a small passage for a reasonable purpose shouldn't require a license -- and that makes tremendous sense. In fact, it makes it that much more likely that people will become aware of her works."I would like to add a few points to Masnick's argument here: (1) At least in the United States there are specific guidelines for "fair use" which protect the copyright owner, but also artists who want to use fair use content. It is spurious at best to compare "fair use" with file sharing (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the latter). More importantly... (2) If Javin is concerned about making a living – she should open her eyes to new opportunities for artists where some sharing of ones creative work will not harm you, but will create an audience for you.
Javin states "The thought that the books, articles and lectures I write on the subject of China may make a contribution to Australia's "Asia literacy" makes me happy." What she should realize is that all of her activities should not just make her happy, but are ways to build audience and then to monetize from that growing audience. If she would CWF, she would be able to charge more for her lectures, have more demand as an educator (in whatever form that takes) and be able to sell copies of her books and articles, despite any sharing that might happen. There are strategies to create special editions, window physical copies if so desired, create special experiences that she could take advantage of. I talk about some of these strategies in a recent series of posts I am writing: "How to Make Money in the Age of Abundance"
This brings me to: Writer of Daredevil Comics: Equating Piracy with Lost Sales is Baloney by Tim Cushing. In this piece Cushing reports that Mark Waid, the creator of Daredevil and the owner of his own comic distribution platform Thrillbent has experienced a growth in his business by not fighting piracy, but by intelligently using the motivations and desires of his audience to monetize his platform's content. First he allows fans to "stream" and download content from his sight for free. This serves two functions:
- He gets to control the quality of the content.
- He can bring traffic to his site by offering more content.
In contrast to Thillbent is EA Games who seem determined to piss off as many fans as possible as reported in EA Sued for Shutting Down Online Games Too Quickly by Tim Geigner. Instead of cultivating fans and figuring out ways to increase their value to them, EA seems to be taking the opposite approach, decreasing their value to their audience by cutting off access to online games after a short period of time, even though a fan may have paid a substantial sum for the game.
A related post under the category of How to Piss Of As Many Fans As Possible is another post by Geigner Just Kidding, Square Enix Still Hates Its Biggest Fans. Seems that a group of Final Fantasy VII fans sought to crowdfund for a fan fiction webseries based on the popular game. Geigner reports that the owner of the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix, successfully filed a takedown against the Kickstarter campign for the series. He argues that Square Enix should play fair when they knew this project was happening and not wasted the fan/creator's time. However, the filmmakers post on their Facebook page: "Those of you that were under the impression that we cleared this with Square - we've been pretty open that we had elements within the company's divisions that supported our efforts, but that tacit approval did not equal legal go-ahead." They state that they are trying to get official approval from Square Enix – who have actually not shut down the fan's official site (in Square Enix's defense, this is something any US film studio would have done immediately).
Based on their Kickstarter appeal video -- which is still available on their Facebook page -- I think that the FF VII Webseries made some critical errors in their Kickstarter campaign. Their video (and their Facebook page) does not present themselves first and foremost as FANS – instead they present themselves as a potentially competing company "Shinra Productions LLC". They then proceed to use a huge amount of FF VII images with a corporate sounding voice over extolling the success of FF VII. It is many minutes into their (overly long) appeal video before we meet the filmmakers, who do not talk directly to us the audience – but to an off screen interviewer. (This approach not only lacks authenticity, but also makes them appear as some corporate entity trying to appropriate another corporate entities IP. The filmmakers should have been on camera from the beginning of the appeal video explaining THEIR enthusiasm for FF and why they HAVE to make this film as tribute to FF. Next they should have explained WHY they are crowdfunding – and why again it is a tribute to FF and to all the fans. This might (not guaranteed) have resulted in softer treatment from Square Enix. Authenticity is crucial to CWF. People are usually investing in you the artist, not the project. To come across as another slick company is not going to engender much fan enthusiasm. Especially for crowdfunding you MUST CWF before you can RTB=$.
No self respecting Techdirt Favorites roundup for this week could leave out a reference to how the NSA can collect nearly any internet activity worldwide without prior authorization. So much has been written about the NSA that I am not going to comment on that specifically. Instead I want to use this as an opportunity to comment on CWF in relationship to Barack Obama. Obama was brilliant in his 2008 campaign, engaging a mass of people to elect a relatively unknown young politician to the Presidency (no less a black politician in a country still torn by issues of race). However I was stunned to see in after the 2008 and 2012 elections, that Obama promptly stopped engaging with his fans. He shut himself up in the Oval office using his massive email and social media engine seemingly (as I was a recipient of it) to continually ask for more money. He could have engaged this activated millions but demurred to tragic results. He has continually allowed others to define his presidency and the issues. Worse he seems to have abandoned so many of his fans in numerous issues ranging from the foreclosure crisis, drone attacks, Guantanamo, job security and now spying on the world. The NSA "scandal" would have caused massive protests in a pre-Google advertising world. It seems that our population is so inured to corporations trading in our private lives that who but a few care if the government joins in.
If you are interested in anything that I talk about or any of my work – I am currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Bomb It 2 which has a bunch of fun perks including Shepard Fairey designed stickers, posters and t-shirts to the robotic antics of the notorious Survival Research Laboratories. Feel free to criticize my own Kickstarter appeal video – or my video flubs reel.
Jon Reiss is filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and media strategist who works with filmmakers, companies and organizations to help them utilize the most recent techniques of direct film distribution and audience engagement.