Laurel L. Russwurm's Techdirt Profile

Laurel L. Russwurm

About Laurel L. Russwurm

Laurel L. Russwurm's Comments comment rss

  • May 10, 2013 @ 01:45pm

    "That said, it does feel a little bit shady for Woodger to complain about someone else using her image, when her image is clearly based on the work of others as well."

    Wrong. So long as the world in which we live constrains both creators and culture with copyright law, this is not remotely applicable.

    Once we've abolished copyright, the Disney appropriation of her work without attribution could be considered a simple case of plagiarism.

  • Dec 19, 2012 @ 01:02am

    "the more paranoid"

    We live more of our lives online, and governments and corporations increasingly peak at our private data, so encryption ought to be the order of the day.

    But giving Google the keys? #samesame

  • Oct 19, 2012 @ 11:27am


    No stretch at all. I think pretty much anyone who has worked in the film business is aware of this.

    When one party to the contract is an established gorilla, pretty much the only negiotiation open to a starting out film-maker (or actor/writer/musician) is to sign or not to sign. It isn't a question of foolishness, but an imbalance of power. And although digital technology has dramatically improved indie options, getting indie films released theatrically remains extremely difficult.

    Your contention that hollywood budgets are not absurdly inflated is unsupported by logic. The technology costs a fraction of what it used to cost. (Do they even make film prints any more?) Even you acknowledge there is rarely a net, which means that, in reality, royalties are rarely paid. Real costs have gone down (not a little, a *lot*) yet movies cost more.

  • Oct 19, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Hollywood bloat

    Every time you go see one of these movies you're vindicating Hollywood. (Every time you pay full price to go see a "re-boot" of a superhero story, you're telling them that they don't have to support new ideas, and that owning the IP forever is a good thing).

    Wait for the rep theatre or DVD release [not blu-ray]. Funny thing; I've not seen a first run movie in a theatre since they butchered The Spirit. There are a wealth of good movies no one has heard of (because they were made by indies, and the studios/distributors chose not to push them) in the remainder bins in local supermarkets. At least in Canada.

  • Oct 19, 2012 @ 10:54am

    Budget and Quality

    "Budget has never had anything to do with quality"

    Budget always has some impact on quality. Although Robert Rodriguez El Mariachi was brilliantly finessed, and well enough crafted to suck many people into the story in spite of the budgetary lack, the inability to afford synch sound equipment did impact on the finished product.

    There has always been a base line of what must be spent on equipment & media just to achieve technical adequacy. And then you need people capable of using the tools to achieve adequacy, which may necessitate a budget to hire a good sound editor, say. Without basic technical adequacy, most audiences are unlikely to be able to achievve the necessary willing suspension of disbelief. Even with a good story, every snap crackle and pop has the power to jar the audience out of it.

    That said, when Robert Rodriquez was starting out, the lion's share of the bottom line expense for film was in the film, equipment and prints to distribute it. (It was eliminating the need for distribution film prints that enabled Rodrigues to make a feature film for $7,000.) That's why studios would release movies they didn't expect to make a huge profit in only a few theatres; even studios didn't make prints lightly.

    As improvements and economies in technology have shifted the balance, today the digital part is cheap, the cast and crew cost more. The budget needn't number in the tens of millions, but even so, there is still a base cost. You have to start with a decent camera and a reasonable level of skill to make a film that the average person can watch without cringing. Even though my cell phone claims to film HD, the miniscule lens makes it inadequate to film a feature film. There has to be a big enough budget to allow the image to be reasonable and the sound to be good. The minute a film looks amateur, you've lost half the audience.

    Which is not to say that Hollywood hasn't been inflating budgets (and accounting creatively) probably from the beginning. Being able to claim a large price tag helps justify high ticket costs.

  • Oct 18, 2012 @ 09:20am

    Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

    Characterizing an opinion you disagree with as "churlish" doesn't refute the argument. You can argue against it until you are blue in the face, but what you believe the law is/should be does not make it so.

    Because the "Remus Shepherd" comment is anonymous, it could have been made by anyone for any reason, so there is no way to assess the validity of the assertions made. On the face of it, there is a dischordancy about the comment as it eEquate outing a victim with outing a perpetrator. It is odd in that it seems to argue to sacrifice the privacy of victims to protect the privacy of perpetrators, which in fact enables victimization to continue in the secrecy.

    Whether this comment is real or a fabrication to illustrate a point, an anonymous story of unproven veracity does not outweigh the verified evidence of 15 year old Amanda Todd, whose victimization included this very type of assault, and which ultimately led to her suicide.

  • Oct 18, 2012 @ 08:52am

    Re: Re: free speech, privacy and law

    [And so here is the response from my blog]

    The creative use of quotation marks fails to make the analogy. There is a difference between identifying someone with different beliefs and identifying a perpetrator. Behaviour that assaults another human being's privacy is not merely behaviour, it is assault.

    You seem to have a predisposition to rely on the law as the way to get it right, yet last I heard, there were innumerable laws against homosexuality, as well as legal ways to protect attacks on homosexuality on the law books around the world. "The Law" has been the instrument of suppressing homosexuality much more often than it has been its saviour.

    Governments like ours are scrambling to make laws that will make incursion into Canadian privacy the rule. Although you may wish online anonymity was protected anywhere, it is not. Even if protection of anonymity was in fact covered by law, as in most things, comission of a crime would allow law enforcement the ability to breach that anonymity via search warrants. Assault is always wrong, although the law does not always reflect this. Law allowed people to assault their spouse, or their children until recently. Law used to allow students to be assaulted by their teachers, slaves to be assaulted by their "masters" or employers to assault their employees, but although these assaults were allowed legally, they were not right.

    I did not look at the photographs either, but you are assuming the photographs were taken in public. Yet we know from the article that photographs taken in a classroom were included. This is not a public place. There are many places that we see as "public places" that in fact are not. Places like theatres, and malls, or concert halls. But even in these private-public places, private individuals are still afforded an expectation of privacy unless we waive it. Concert tickets routinely include fine print which states that the patron waives this right as part of the cost of admission to the venue.

    Private individuals have the right not to be photographed and such photographs published without their consent. Although I haven't seen these images either, it's a pretty good bet that none of them feature a cast of thousands. What is identifiable? Maybe you can't identify someone by their body parts, but there is every possibility they can. Amanda Todd certainly identified her own breasts when her assailant posted the photograph of her breasts on Facebook.

    Your argument is willing to sacrifice the privacy of victims to protect the privacy of perpetrators. That is not socially responsible, nor can it ever create social justice.

    You say you aren't "defending Reddit?s actions" but "explaining why they qualify as free speech" — but the problem is that under law, they don't qualify as free speech. Reddit is not "public" and so has no legal obligation to protect free speech under law. If the government stepped in to censor, *then* it would become a free speech issue.

    Even if what was done on Reddit could be legally considered protected free speech, the fact that it is assault would supercede any free speech protection in the name of the public good. Free speech is not what you think it is, it is what the law says it is. That's how law works.

  • Oct 17, 2012 @ 08:08pm

    free speech, privacy and law

    Free speech is *only* legally protected from government censorship. Individuals and corporations are legally allowed to censor speech in their own premises, forums, workplaces, homes, or anywhere else.

    But what constitutes Free Speech?

    The Crime

    The written description of what was posted online:

    "...surreptitiously shot photos of others, usually women, usually focused on sexually objectifying the subjects of the shot."

    Photographing private individuals without their consent?
    Then publishing the illicit photos on the internet?
    I'm sorry, how is this free speech?
    If you climb a tree and photograph your neighbor through their window, is that free speech too?

    The article goes on to explain that the photographs were "often very young women."
    How young?
    The comments here mention the existence of a Reddit forum called /r/jailbait ?

    And then there is the teacher posting photographs of students. When an authority figure abuses the power over other people, it is an unconscionable breach of trust, possibly liable for criminal charges, certainly and most deservedly, to job loss. This is not free speech.

    the criminals

    There have been emphatic arguments here about how important it is to protect the privacy of people who take such surrepetious photographs, and moderators who were aware of such content being published on the Internet without the subjects' knowledge or permission.

    You are concerned about the protection of the perpetrator's anonymity.

    Yet precious little thought has been given to the people whose anonymity has been stripped away through the publication of illicit photographs. What about the victim's anonymity?

    The contention has been made that publishing such photographs is "free speech." Poppycock.


    Professional photographers only publish photographs of subjects when they have signed release forms, because otherwise they can be held legally liable. Even models that have been paid to pose must sign releases; if they don't, the photographs are published at the photographer's peril.

    Because their image is part of the individual's private domain.


    Although public figures may be "fair game" because they have put themselves in the public eye, private individuals are accorded legal protection of personal privacy.

    The face, the likeness, the identifiability of individuals is protected. Any such invasion of the personal privacy of an individual must trump any arguments of free speech.

    You can think what you want. You can say what you want. You can troll the live ling day. But taking surreptitious photographs of people and publishing them without express permission is a no-no.

    If you post a photo of my daughter without her permission, or mine if she is a minor, you'll find yourself in a world of trouble. Because you will have invaded my daughter's privacy. You made this decision, you took these actions, and the logical consequence is that you answer for it.

    There *should* be laws to address this creepy crap on Reddit, But maybe there aren't. Or even if there are, the forces of law enforcement may not have a clue how to tackle a Reddit. Or maybe they *nudge*nudge*wink*wink simply not do a damn thing about it.

    If the law does not answer, the best thing to achieve social justice is to shine a light on injustice. If the law can't or won't deal with something this reprehensible, doxxing seems to be a perfectly acceptable, moral and ethical recourse.

    And as the article suggests, this was a case of media reporting, not "doxxing."

    logical consequences

    Personal privacy is a natural right. We all need personal privacy. Our own space.

    The creep perpetrators invaded that space. They chose to commit bad acts.

    People who are photographed secretly, and then had the photographs published, have chosen nothing.

    The acts of the perpetrators have victimized them. Whether or not the law has defined this specific behaviour as assault, that is exactly what it is: an invasion of a human being's personal space, and an assault on privacy.

  • Jul 31, 2012 @ 02:30pm

    free speech

    Twitter *is* a business. Regardless of the bonus goodwill generated by its past Free Speech posturing, Twitter exists to make money, not guarantee Free Speech.

    The only way to ensure free speech online is to build distributed human networks; people need to stand up for free speech, because corporations won't. I blogged about this a while ago but rather than relying on Twitter, people could try and StatusNet

    Full disclosure: I use and my "dents" flow into Twitter as tweets, but I'm not employed by, or have any financial interest in the company. I occasionally bug the founder about stuff I think he ought to improve, but mostly I just use their free/libre service.

  • Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:12am


    I think that depends on whether or not you're trying to rule the world.

  • Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:06am

    the heart of the matter

    Um. They don't?

    That's what governments do: they make up the rules, sometimes known as law.

    What is at issue here seems to be jurisdiction. The MegaUpload prosecution is supposedly based on the fact that there were some US based webservers. But that's not true of young Richard O'Dwyer they are extraditing from England even thjough he didn't break UK law.

    Your government is laying claim to ownership (and control) of the entire Internet. And our governments are letting it.

  • Jun 22, 2012 @ 12:43am

    Re: To Jonathan Taplin, Nina Paley is a threat.

    There's nothing wrong with being listed on IMDB if you work in film. You'll even find Nina Paley there!

  • Jun 21, 2012 @ 01:27pm

    The mighty have fallen

    Is USC really that bad these days? Anyone who thinks Nina Paley is talentless is simply not competant to judge.

    This Taplin guy would seem to be a walking-talking anti-USC advertisement.

    Or is he the PR shill there to ensure the dinosaur content industries will hire USC grads. If that's the case, USC would do well to teach its students that they are being trained to be employees these days (teach them important phrases like "yes, master")

  • Jun 21, 2012 @ 01:13pm

    Re: if you're over 50, just shut up about the internet

    Uh, no.

    James Moore, Canada's own "Minister of Canadian Heritage" just turned 36, thinks he's tech savvy (because he knows how to buy Apple products) yet he's about to ram through the Canadian DMCA which will make it illegal to circumvent DRM for *any* reason, including (but not limited to):

    • accessing
      1. our own work,
      2. public domain, or
      3. fair use work, (what we call "fair dealing") and

    • making it illegal to repair DRM devices/media

    • or to install free software

    • or circumvention for accessibility

    • playing your own media on the device of your choosing, etc...

      Age has nothing to do with open mindedness and the ability to understand new ideas.

      Besides, the Internet belongs to all netizens.

    • Apr 25, 2012 @ 11:45am

      What can we do about it?

      As the parent of a U of T student O want to know where I can complain?

    • Apr 25, 2012 @ 11:38am

      Re: Re:

      Having new "rights" doesn't help if you can't actually use them due to DRM... oh, sorry, in Canada's Bill C-11 we have "TPMs" -- which extend manufacturer controls beyond digital. This will make speciality screw drivers currently used to refurbish/recycle computers by non-profit computer recycling depots illegal

    • Mar 12, 2012 @ 01:12am

      I'm scared too... Bill C-11 is coming to Canada

      "The gatekeepers won't be successful in this effort until they can control software distribution all over the world and outlaw computers which can be modified by the user, and I just can't see this happening in a post-SOPA world, no matter how much the gatekeepers would like to believe that the SOPA backlash was a one-off event caused by "misinformation" and "undemocratic" processes. "

      Erm. As per Grumpy, the new improved UEFI is coming, so Microsoft will be able to lock down all our general purpose computers...

      Especially as our government is on the verge of passing copyright law that will make circumventing TPMs (aka digital locks or DRM) illegal, even if what you are doing is not otherwise illegal.

      Say you want to watch the DVD you just bought on your linux box: no can do.

      Or maybe read that Project Gutenberg public domain book. Or perhaps, installing linux on my general purpose computer... if the manufacturer doesn't grant me permission to replace their OS with free software, and if I go ahead and do it, I'd be breaking the law. Yeah, I can see Bill Gates giving me the go ahead...

      The moment this law is passed (and since we have a majority government, nothing can stop it) I expect there won't be a device sold in our market that is not riddled with drm/tpm.

      This power could very easily be translated into preventing us from accessing independent digital content.

    • Jul 28, 2011 @ 03:12am

      Re: She got paid...

      Actually, it does debunk copyright's usefullness from a creator's point of view. Because I have lost something, the importance of which most non-creators will not be able to understand: the right to see the realization of my creative work.

    • Jul 27, 2011 @ 11:55pm

      Re: Pirate it!

      Is piracy the answer?

      I don't think so. I shouldn't *have* to pirate it.

      If many people quietly pirate stuff, the law won't ever change. Every now and again they'll drop the jail on someone just to make an example ... to try and frighten everyone else.

      Current copyright law is unreasonable for creators and culture.

    • Jul 27, 2011 @ 06:37pm

      No Lie

      Thanks for running this, Mike.

      This series was made in Canada all those years ago. It's a different country, and the way things work here are not the same as they work there. Other companies I wrote for gave me videos; this one didn't, because it simply wasn't their policy.

      This is simply one of the reasons why I've concluded that existing copyright law doesn't serve my interests.

    More comments from Laurel L. Russwurm >>