by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 28th 2010 8:36pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 3rd 2010 8:42am
Mark Waid Explains: Culture Is More Important Than Copyright & It's Time To Look For Opportunities In Sharing
from the say-that-again dept
culture is more important than copyrightI'm trying to understand anyone who would disagree with this statement, but so often we hear people say that they have to defend their copyrights "on principle," even if not defending them is better for culture. But the key point of his article is that fearing file sharing and attacking it doesn't help. It doesn't stop it from happening and it provides no real advantage to those doing the attacking. So he suggests it's time to figure out ways to turn it into an opportunity:
Like it or not, downloading is here. Torrents and filesharing are here. That's not going away. I'm not here to attack it or defend it--I'm not going to change anyone's mind either way, and everyone in America at this point has anecdotal evidence "proving" how it hurts or helps the medium--but I am here to say it isn't going away--and fear of it, fear of filesharing, fear of illegal downloading, fear of how the internet changes publishing in the 21st century, that's a legitimate fear, because we're all worried about putting food on the table and leaving a legacy for our children, but we're using our energy on something we can't stop, because filesharing is not going away.Great stuff. Definitely go read the whole thing. He also mentions that he's got some plans in place for how he's going to embrace things like BitTorrent and run some interesting experiments. He points out that they're experiments, and there's no guarantee they'll work, but he wants to step forward and at least try to embrace it. This is great to hear, and I look forward to seeing what kind of experiments he runs.
And I'll tell you why. It's not because people "like stealing." It's because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook--they're all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid--that's the era we're entering. And whether or not you're sharing things that technically aren't yours to share, whether or not you're angry because you see this as a "generation of entitlement," that's not the issue--the issue is, it's happening, and the internet's ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value. And I understand if you are morally outraged about it and you believe to your core that an entire generation is criminal and they're taking food off your table, I respect that.
But moral outrage is often how we deal with fear. It's a false sense of empowerment in the face of fear.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 30th 2010 10:51am
from the good-for-him dept
Mark Waid's keynote speech at the Harvey Awards at Baltimore Comics Con last night started by pointing out that copyright was all about putting work into the public domain, rather than preserving it for company ownership, and the concept of public domain should be embraced again. That illegal downloading is inevitable leading to a new culture of sharing. Lines such as "culture is more important than copyright" and "there are more ideas in one week at your comic shop than three years in Hollywood."The report at Bleeding Cool does note that not everyone in attendance was pleased with Waid's talk, with Sergio Aragones apparently confronting Waid about his talk, declaring that "you don't just give your work away," and getting into a bit of a heated argument before Waid walked away.
Assuming these reports are accurate, it looks like Aragones totally missed the point of Waid's talk. No one's saying that you "just" give your work away. Those of us who have been writing about this stuff for a while are talking about creating larger communities and business models that include giving stuff away as a part of that effort. Trying to simplify it down to "oh just give it away, huh?" is wrong and misleading. Besides, note that Aragones seems to have missed the key factual points in Waid's talk: which is that copyright has always been about putting works into the public domain. It's too bad some people just react so negatively to factual portrayals of copyright law that they lash out at the messenger.
Update: Some of the other reports on the talk suggest that Waid and Aragones "hugged it out" after their confrontation, and that Aragones' complaint is that "free" devalues work. This is a common, if misguided point. The value of the work remains the same. The problem is when you confuse price and value. Price gets driven by the real demands of the market, but is not the same as value. Waid's point is that you can't fight what's happening, so why not embrace it -- a message we obviously believe strongly in here.
by Nina Paley
Mon, Aug 16th 2010 3:12pm
from the Blatant-Self-Promotion dept
Certain arguments come up over and over again in copyright debates. Mike recently wrote about copyright monopolists calling Free Culture "neo Marxist." This is so absurd, yet so common, that there's a comic about it:
How often do we hear competition denounced as theft?
There are strips about business models...
Price vs. Value...
and of course, Lawyers:
Naturally, these comics are Free, copyLeft, share-able, copy-able, and embeddable. It is my fondest wish that writers will use these images in their articles and comments, without asking permission. What's in it for me, you ask? The more people see Mimi & Eunice, the more cultural value they'll have. Watching works find their audience is a singular pleasure for an artist. But since Techdirt is more about business models, I'll add that the more people share the strips online, the more value a paper book will have, which I can then sell.
*"IP" stands for something slightly different over there.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 15th 2010 2:13pm
from the economics-failure dept
I wish this made sense to me. The only reason to price the digital copy at 6 dollars is to keep retailers happy. It's not in service of Marvel readers and it's certainly not in service of expanding Marvel's audience. I have a lot of friends discovering Marvel comics for the first time through the iPad app. Paying for 1/3 of a comic for the same price they normally pay for a whole comic is not something they'll appreciate or understand. I get Marvel's desire to make a move like this without spooking retailers or Diamond. It's like a scuba-diver pacing his rise to the surface to avoid getting the bends. But what does Marvel risk by scaring off potential new digital customers by pricing a virtual copy of a comic higher than the physical copy you get to keep? And for what? To keep retailers happy?Of course, we've seen this before. Incumbent businesses have legacy relationships. And one of the reasons why they're often so slow to shift to smart new business models is because it will upset those legacy relationships. But if your upstart competitors don't have those relationships and can route around them entirely to offer a better product for less, you're going to get hung up by your legacy relationships. Kurtz suggests that Marvel stop worrying about retailers and focus on consumers for once:
The only problem with that thinking is that Marvel Comics isn't in the business of keeping retailers solvent. Marvel Comics is in the business of producing and distributing comic books to as many readers as possible. At least it SHOULD be. And if digital distribution has a chance of being more profitable than brick-and-mortar store distribution then Marvel owes it to its readers, creators and stock holders to pursue that business without having to worry about someone else's business for nostalgia's sake.It's easier said than done, but not doing it can be a lot more costly in the long run.
Marvel should take a page out of Steve Job's notebook on this one. Be visionary and push ahead no matter who it pisses off. Especially if it's good for the company, readers and the industry itself.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 5th 2010 4:48pm
from the parody-as-free-speech dept
Re: your letter of 4 February 2010 regarding
I write to clear up some misconceptions.
First, the item offered for sale is not "our" comic book - it is created by a third party and offered for sale through our website.
I have never heard of Olivia Munn until you brought her to my attention, but a quick web search turns up a Wikipedia article describing her thusly
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_MunnOlivia Munn (born Lisa Olivia Munn) is an American actress, model and television personality.and her self promoting web page at
where she displays near topless pictures and links to a cover shot at Maxim magazine.
Given these two websites, it is clear that she is a public figure. As a public figure, the use of her likeness meets the tests for the parody copyright exception set forth in both Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. and the more recent Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin.
As such, we have no intention of taking down our webpage, destroying any inventory, or refusing to offer the comic for sale.
If you have any further comments you may reach me at this email address,
Travis Corcoran, President
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 14th 2009 4:01pm
from the unprotected-file-sharing-is-bad dept
First, the BSA has its widely debunked "piracy" numbers -- but it's now getting news for focusing instead on how you're going to get malware if you file share. Since it can't actually back up its bogus numbers, instead it's hoping that most people don't know that correlation doesn't mean a causal relationship -- but at least we know that most of our readers know better. The report notes that there's a correlation between higher piracy rates and higher malware infections, but seems to totally ignore exceptions to that rule (the US) or delve into other variables that may explain either the piracy rate (already questionable) or the malware rate (education levels? poverty? shared computers? etc.). Even more amusing, they claim (with no actual evidence) that those who get malware have to spend more to repair their computers than it would have cost to get the legitimate software in the first place. I have no doubt that there are risks for those who file share, but this report does nothing to show the actual risks and is yet another in a long line of weak propaganda from the BSA, that despite being called on it for years, never seems to do anything to back up its reports with facts.
Then, we have the story of the MPAA apparently sending a bunch of anti-piracy comic books to New Zealand, home of one of many different fights on how to change copyright law. The comic book, like the BSA report, involves plenty of ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims about how file sharing will unleash nasty malware and viruses all over your computers -- but drawn in nice comic book form. Can we send those kids who got the MPAA comic book a copy of the Tales from The Public Domain comic books as well? There are free digital downloads for anyone who wants to hand them out in exchange for the bogus MPAA ones....
by Michael Ho
Tue, Oct 6th 2009 10:56am
from the help,-I'm-trapped-in-a-newspaper-factory-with-no-business-model dept
Via Poynter Online, there's a recent interview with Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau where he talks about his post-newspaper media plans and what he sees as his future options while newspapers face significant declines in their circulation numbers.
Trudeau continues on, saying that he believes that e-readers are promising because so many people are happy to pay for iPhone apps and Kindle content. He also says that his livelihood doesn't seem to be threatened in the short-term because only "big newspapers" with loads of debt are really going under -- and most small newspapers are still getting by and can support his line of work for the foreseeable future. But, essentially, Trudeau sounds like he's given up on his own plans for making Doonesbury into a business outside of syndication. (Or he's being much too modest about the "little money" he earns from his website, and he doesn't want to offend his current newspaper benefactors.) In any case, he seems to envision a giant news consortium that will be able to retain subscribers due to a form of monopoly advantage. And if that's really the future of journalism, that doesn't sound too promising.
"Doonesbury" has been on the Web for 15 years, and the site actually makes a little money -- unheard-of for media sites. But it's not really a plan, just a presence. I don't believe there's anything I can do personally to prepare for a post-newspaper future, other than hope that the large media companies will come to their senses and form a gated Web collective along the lines of cable TV. They need to form a news utility, financed by subscription or micropayments because going it alone has been disastrous for all of them.
Additionally, though, Trudeau asserts that the "Web is a lost cause" because everyone thinks content on the web should be free. But that statement directly contradicts the work of online cartoonists such as Randall Munroe and his xkcd webcomic (which just happens to be one of my favorite examples of a "free" online comic strip). Munroe has a significant following for xkcd and has proven that "free" can be a sustainable way to promote and publish his work. So can we help enlighten Trudeau? Munroe sells prints, t-shirts, a book, and even sponsored comics. Is there a path to becoming the "Trent Reznor of webcomics" for Trudeau? Or is there something unique about Doonesbury that makes it impossible for it to take advantage of "free" distribution?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 29th 2008 11:25pm
from the yikes dept
As a guess, perhaps Marvel is upset that Arrington made his an open invite system. The other showings I'm aware of are all private invite-only showings. But, even if that's true, it's rather ridiculous for Marvel to be complaining, and this is giving the company a ton of totally unnecessary bad press for an event that was generating plenty of enthusiasm and excitement for the movie. It appears to be yet another case where a lawyer is complaining because he can, and not because it's a good business move. As of right now, AMC Theatres, which sold Arrington the tickets, is standing behind the showing, and hopefully someone higher up at Marvel is figuring out what a ridiculous move this is, and will apologize by morning.
by Timothy Lee
Tue, Dec 4th 2007 2:39pm