by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 9th 2011 5:30am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 8th 2011 2:27am
from the might-make-for-an-interesting-case dept
Amazon then refused to pay any royalties, saying that under its contract, it's absolved from having to pay royalties for such mistakes. While that may be true, I do wonder if there's actually a copyright claim there. Here's another situation where the murky boundary between sales and licenses gets strange. After all, Crawford appears to be technically licensing his work for Amazon to distribute with a specific condition: that it be priced at $5.99 with certain royalties going back to Crawford. Offering it free seems like a clearcut case of an unauthorized distribution, which could be open to a copyright claim.
That said, I agree with the point that many have made to Crawford, that he's probably much better off just using this experience for the publicity, and building on that, rather than suing. Suing would be expensive and uncertain. And, it actually could harm sales, as people often don't like the litigious. Readers might be more willing to support Crawford directly after just hearing his story -- and seeing that he was a good sport about it, who could recognize that perhaps this mistake could lead more readers to his work, and those readers may bring in other (paying) readers in the future. Still, it's yet another case where the difference between physical sales and digital "licensing" becomes abundantly clear.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 26th 2011 4:05pm
from the duh dept
It appears that is absolutely the case. The National Writers Union has now admitted that it's dropped the boycott, because, well, no one cared. What's amusing is that rather than quietly dropping it, they actually put out a press release saying they were "withdrawing the boycott" which almost no one paid attention to in the first place.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 4th 2011 9:54am
Adult Swim, Cartoon Network Piss Off Fans By Removing Free iPad Streams; Now Only For Cable Subscribers
from the that's-not-helping dept
Yes, this is weak attempt by everyone to try to hold back the flood of people cutting the cord -- but it's the absolute wrong way to go about it. Rather than providing more value, they're trying to take away value from others, and in the process pissing off a lot of people. It's not going to make cord cutters any more interested in re-subscribing to cable or satellite TV, but may make the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim lose some of its most valuable audience -- the young, employed, well-educated folks that advertisers crave... who have been leading the charge in cutting the cord. Here's what the attorney wrote to me:
I do not have cable. and, just to make it clear, I am a late 20-something, practicing intellectual property attorney, and I cut my cable not because the economy is bad, but because it is an outrageously overpriced, single direction service that forces me to choke down a ton of content I do not care about, in addition to forcing me to watch ads.The way to compete in this market is to add value, not take it away. That just pisses people off.
I was happy to watch my favorite cartoons, for free, but with ads, ostensibly, the profits of which go directly to the stations with less dilution than if they had been broadcast, but now I will probably go back to doing what I did before my iPad: not watch stuff, wait for it to come out on DVD and Netflix/Qwikster it, or, potentially, even 'infringe' it.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 3:01am
from the well,-duh dept
Because of the conflicts between what Hulu management (who do seem pretty clued in) and their ownership wanted to do with the company, Hulu was recently put up for sale. But, now it's coming out that the bids Hulu is receiving are much lower than the owners want -- and it's because they've made it clear they plan to cut off all free content from Hulu:
But the bidders all figured out pretty quickly that the TV companies who own Hulu now want to phase out free ad-supported content completely. So as soon as the current set of Hulu contracts expire in a couple of years, it would be back to the negotiating table.Because of that, no one was willing to bid over $2 billion -- and the TV guys (of course) think it's worth a lot more than that, even as they're trying to kill it. Well, one exception: apparently Google was willing to pay closer to $4 billion... but it would only do that under certain conditions (which likely involve getting the TV guys to renew/guarantee future deals). So congrats, backwards looking TV guys, not only are you killing Hulu, you're killing the goodwill you build up via the company so you can't even cash out on that.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 29th 2011 5:11am
from the not-so-awful dept
"The game favors people that can produce quality music and then turn right around and produce more quality music-which is not a given," Atlantic Records VP of A&R Zvi Edelman says. His signee, Wiz Khalifa, leveraged free, original mixtapes like 2010's "Kush & OJ" and 2011's "Cabin Fever" into the building of a dedicated fan base that helped, along with an intensive touring strategy, make his Atlantic/Rostrum Records debut, "Rolling Papers," one of the few hip-hop debuts to sell more than 500,000 copies (it's now at 570,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan) in 2011.This might be about as close as you can come to big record labels officially admitting that free music actually has value that is monetized elsewhere. But, still, apparently, we need special new laws to shut down the very same marketing that they now want to use to build a stronger fan base.
A batch of newcomers -- such as J. Cole, Big Sean, Dom Kennedy, Mac Miller and Smoke DZA -- has adapted to the consumer demand for free, original rap music. The philosophy is often described this way: As a reward for artists remaining loyal to them (by giving away original music), fans return the favor by buying concert tickets, merchandise and "real" albums from record labels. The result is a give-and-take relationship that keeps rappers in control of their brand and marketing, and iTunes playlists full of free albums disguised as "mixtapes." The payoff is an active fan base, which labels and management hope stimulates retail purchases.
from the not-up-to-him dept
Now, as Robw was the first of a few of you to point out, her manager has said that, if it were up to him, he'd give her next album away totally free -- with the focus on getting it as much exposure as possible, knowing full well that he'd make that up through greater fan support elsewhere.
"If it was up to me, I'd give away the next album and put it on every handset that I can put it on, to get that scale," he said. "You can't be scared to fail. Sometimes we're going to get big results, and sometimes you learn a lesson, make an adjustment and move on."Of course, some will immediately point out that since it's not up to him, such comments are meaningless. He can say that and "pander" to fans, even if he doesn't really believe it. But, of course, there's no reason to believe he doesn't mean it. And in an era when so many top musicians are being pressured to toe the industry line about how evil "free" is, it's certainly nice to see one of the biggest (if not the biggest) pop stars in the world, and her management, recognizing publicly that the business model these days isn't in selling music directly.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 27th 2011 3:24pm
from the oh-really? dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 13th 2011 10:07pm
from the tech-transfer dept
Even worse, this focus on locking up knowledge and research from universities has been disastrous on actual advancement and the spreading of knowledge, which many of these universities claim is a key goal. Professors are told not to share results or data or plans with professors at other universities, for fear of "losing out" on a patent. The whole academic culture of sharing and building on each others' knowledge is held back tremendously. It's a huge shame.
Thankfully, a few universities are realizing this and are starting to push back. Last year, we noted that the University of Glasgow was freeing up most of its "intellectual property," for anyone who could use it. And, now, hrusha alerts us to the news that the University of Copenhagen (known as KU) is offering free licenses to anyone who can present a "credible" plan for bringing a product to market within 3 years.
It's not a totally open and free system, but it's certainly better than most. The encouragement on commercialization will hopefully help get the practical implications of the research out into the marketplace quickly. I'm not so sure how they determine what is and what is not a "credible plan," so hopefully they err on the side of granting such licenses whenever possible. Hopefully more and more universities will begin to realize that locking up research and expecting to get paid for it is a dead end road that goes against the core principles of most institutes of higher learning.
by Nina Paley
Thu, Jul 7th 2011 8:33am
from the principles dept
Crossposted from ninapaley.com
Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program's users have the four essential freedoms:These are the Four Freedoms of Free Software. They are foundational principles, and they are exactly right. They have served and continue to serve the Free Software Movement very well. They place the user's freedom ahead of all other concerns. Free Software is a principled movement, but Free Culture is not – at least not so far. Why?
-- The Free Software Definition
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
1. The No Derivatives (-ND) RestrictionIf you tinker with software, you can improve it. You can also break it or make it worse, but the Freedom to Tinker is one of the foundational 4 Freedoms of Free Software. Your software may also be used for purposes you don't like, used by “bad people,” or even used against you; the Four Freedoms wisely counsel us to GET OVER IT.
Unfortunately, The Free Software Foundation does not extend “Freedom to Tinker” to Culture:
Cultural works released by the Free Software Foundation come with “No Derivatives” restrictions. They rationalize it here:
Works that express someone's opinion—memoirs, editorials, and so on—serve a fundamentally different purpose than works for practical use like software and documentation. Because of this, we expect them to provide recipients with a different set of permissions (notice how users are now called "recipients," and their Freedoms are now called "permissions" --NP): just the permission to copy and distribute the work verbatim. (link)The problem with this is that it is dead wrong. You do not know what purposes your works might serve others. You do not know how works might be found “practical” by others. To claim to understand the limits of “utility” of cultural works betrays an irrational bias toward software and against all other creative work. It is anti-Art, valuing software above the rest of culture. It says coders alone are entitled to Freedom, but everyone else can suck it. Use of -ND restrictions is an unjustifiable infringement on the freedom of others.
For example, here I have violated the Free Software Foundation's No-Derivatives license:
The Four Freedoms of Free Culture:Without permission, I've created a derivative work: the Four Freedoms of Free Culture. Although I violated FSF's No-Derivatives license, they violated Freedoms # 2 and 4, so we're even.
1. The freedom to run, view, hear, read, play, perform, or otherwise attend to the Work;
2. The freedom to study, analyze, and dissect copies of the Work, and adapt it to your needs;
3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.
1. The Non-Commercial (-NC) RestrictionThe Freedom to Distribute Free Software is essential to its success. It has given rise to many for-profit businesses that benefit the larger community.
Red Hat, Canonical – would the world be better if such companies were forbidden? Would Free Software benefit from a ban on those businesses?
Yet the Cultural ecosystem is stunted by the prevalence of Non-Commercial restrictions. These maintain commercial monopolies around works, and – especially for vocational artists like me – are functionally as restrictive as unmodified copyright. Yet they are widely mislabeled “Free Culture,” or even “Copyleft.”
This is a still from the mostly excellent and popular documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto. This film is many peoples' introduction to the term “Free Culture” and “Copyleft.” But as you can see, the Non-Commercial restriction is lumped in with actual Free license terms.
See that dollar sign with the slash in it? That means Non-Commercial restrictions, which are most definitely NOT Copyleft. (I've posted about Creative Commons' branding confusion before, but it's only gotten worse since then.)
I have spoken to many artists who insist there's “no real difference” between Non-Commercial licenses and Free alternatives. Yet these differences are well known and unacceptable in Free Software, for good reason.
Calling Non-Commercial restrictions “Free Culture” neuters what could be an effective movement, if it only had principles.
So what do I want?
I want a PRINCIPLED Free Culture Movement.I want Free Software people to take Culture seriously. I want a Free Culture movement guided by principles of Freedom, just as the Free Software movement is guided by principles of Freedom. I want a name I can use that means something – the phrase “Free Culture” is increasingly meaningless, as it is often applied to unFree practices, and is also the name of a famous book that is itself encumbered with Non-Commercial restrictions.
I want a Free Culture ecosystem that allows artists to make money. I want anyone to be able to accept money for their work of remixing and building on Culture – just as a trucker can accept money for driving on a road. I want money to be among the many incentives to participate in building culture. Without the freedoms to Tinker and Redistribute without restriction, there is little incentive to build on and improve cultural works. There is little reward to help your neighbor, when you are guaranteed to lose money doing so. “Free Culture” with non-Commercial restrictions will remain a hobby for those with a surplus of time and labor, and those who only accept money from monopolists.
I want commerce without monopolies. I want people to understand the difference.
I want a Free Culture ecosystem that includes equivalents of businesses like Red Hat and Canonical. I want cultural businesses that give back to their communities, that work with their customers instead of against them. Only if we refuse to place Non-Commercial and No-Derivatives restrictions on our works will a robust Free Culture ecosystem be able to emerge.
I want the Free Software community – those who currently best understand the Four Freedoms – to champion the rest of Culture, not just Software. I want Freedom for All.