People seem to be overlooking the fact that the only qualification is the value of the copyrighted material. If you posted a funny photo on your website and it was reposted by thousands of other people, could I make them felons by offering you $2500 for the rights to it? I'm not even sure any money would have to change hands. We could just be in cahoots. Of course you could always state that the photo was in the public domain. Or not. That would put you in an interesting position, wouldn't it?
Since everybody else is thoroughly hashing over the copyright stuff I just want to object to the word, "content."
What we're talking about is human culture -- art, music, literature, all of which got along fine for thousands of years without IP laws or record companies. What is at stake is people having possession of their own culture instead of renting it, and without giving anyone the power to take it away because of a business decision.
Art is more than something to fill up web pages. Calling it "content" just perpetuates the IP industry's own mindset of treating culture like a commodity.
Giving away goods and services for free to good causes is a very common practice in the business community, and it doesn't drive people out of business or lower the going rates. There's no need to argue this, it's just a plain fact.
When people get called out for being douchebags, either they come up with a cool and clever way to prove they aren't douchebags, and then everybody knows they're right, or they react by being even bigger douchebags.
I see most of this copyright bru-haha as kind of like hospice care for the entertainment industry, while it dies kicking and screaming.
The sheer volume of free entertainment produced by people just for their own satisfaction is growing fast, and a small percentage of it is actually very good. We're not far from the point where a lone amateur with an ordinary computer will be able to turn a script into a studio-quality feature movie with completely realistic human characters and voices.
As more people get their hands on that technology, the small percentage of high quality free material they generate will consume more and more of people's entertainment time, until at some point studio-produced movies and television won't have a big enough audience to remain profitable, and the industry will die.
Similarly, musicians are gradually getting wise to the fact that a recording contract isn't a ticket to the big time, it's a lottery ticket; the prize is the big time and the price is giving up the rights to their own work or even their own names. Eventually the amount of great music available for free will destroy the market for recordings. Recordings will continue to do what they have always done for musicians -- induce people to go out and pay to hear live music -- but without the horde of blood-sucking leeches in the middle.
Even after the business of producing new entertainment withers to nothing, the huge backlog of rights-industry-controlled material will still be worth protecting for a long time. It will be several decades until enough Baby Boomers and GenXers have died off and the value of that backlog shrinks to the point where buying legislation to protect it is no longer cost effective. Without wheelbarrows full of money rolling from Hollywood to Washington DC, the voices speaking up for copyright sanity might finally be heard.
Gonna happen, yes. Gonna take a long time, ooooh yeah.
Shouldn't "Transportation Safety" include not getting creamed on the highway by some drunken asshole? That happens about 20,000 times a year -- a 9/11 every two months. For some reason we've never had a multi-billion dollar War On Drunken Assholes. Funny thing.
This kind of makes sense though, because drunk driving deaths don't affect the economy as much as an equivalent number of deaths from (much more spectacular) airplane hijackings. People would be afraid to fly, the air travel industry would collapse, devastating the tourism industry and the businesses that feed off it. The ripple effect would be huge.
It seems plain that the TSA's primary purpose is to protect the economy, not the public. I'm not saying that's a bad goal. Let's just be honest about it. Protecting the economy is a higher priority than protecting the public.
It's been said that the reason there are so many similarly shaped car bodies is that software used to design them uses principles of aerodynamics, which are universal. Nobody has a patent on "use of aerodynamic principles in automobile design." That would be as stupid as giving out a patent for conducting online polls, or automatically responding to email, or buying stuff with one mouse-click. Oh, wait...
One of the problems in any copyright discussion is that the rights-holding industry -- the business sector that buys and sells the rights to other people's creative works, treating those rights as assets -- has done a really good job poisoning the well of collective thought by convincing people to equate rights with property.
Property isn't a legal concept or a social custom, it's an instinct older than civilization, dating back to animals chasing other animals away from their territory. Property isn't just wired into our brains, it's wired into the pre-human part of our brains. A caveman who picks up a pretty rock has property, but he only has it until another caveman takes it away from him. When the cave clan makes a rule that says it's wrong to take it away, that's when he has rights.
If you can get people to forget this fact and start thinking of rights as property, if you can get them to look at copyright the same way they look at their own possessions, it's easy to get them to go along with any level of copyright law. The need to make genuine arguments vanishes. You don't have to defend copyright or even argue the relative merits of different forms of copyright. All you have to do is say that stealing is stealing. Period. And heads will nod and people will start calling each other pirates and socialists.
Defenders of our current copyright system aren't really defending the system, they're defending a picture of it that has been painted specifically to make a defense seem unnecessary. That's why these discussions are generally no more useful than theists and atheists ranting at each other. In practical terms what really matter is who is winning, and since most of the money being invested politically is on the copyright side, the copyright side is winning.
What's interesting to me is that copyright reformists don't seem to have learned anything from their opponents, who know that Presentation Is Everything. I think reformists should turn their backs on the image that has been manufactured for copyright, and create a different image. Instead of saying "copyright" they should say "copy restriction," since that's what it really is.
People have been imitating each other for thousands of years. When they heard a song or a poem or a story they liked, they sang it or repeated it to somebody else. When they saw how well arches worked they went home and built things with arches. This behavior is totally natural, and is in fact responsible for civilization. The ancients evolved writing, architecture, music, medicine, engineering, etc. by imitation, not by restricting each other from doing something just because someone else had done it first.
Copyright criminalizes this behavior. Why? Force copyright hardliners to defend restricting the behavior that brought about civilization. Make them explain their position rather than using the property facade to pretend that it's a given.
When I was a kid the first time I saw boobs in a magazine was in my dad's Newsweek, in a short article about Hugh Hefner or the Playboy mansion. There was a shot of a couple bunnies sunbathing topless on a rooftop patio. I remember eagerly flipping through the new issue every Thursday for quite a while after that, but with no luck.
Opt-in copyright has been proposed repeatedly, but what I mean by "proposed" doesn't involve handing suitcases of money to Congressmen, hence it will not happen. The U.S. has been driving the world relentlessly toward the goal of perpetual rightsholding and the elimination of public domain. This effort has had many victories and few setbacks, and I believe it will succeed within a few years.
I'd like to hear more about your uncle and what his exact job was. Maybe he worked in a section of the Library of Congress or something. The "archive" for Old Time Radio consists of tens of thousands of collectors who have ben trading tapes, CDs and now MP3s for decades. In fact a large portion of the so-called Golden Age of Radio exists only because of illegal collecting and trading.
When old-time radio shows were originally broadcast there was rarely any thought of ever replaying them. Often the only reasons recordings were made at all was so the performance studio didn't have to be in the same building as the transmitter, or so the show could be broadcast live to the east coast and replayed later that same day for the west coast. During WWII many shows were recorded specifically so they could be replayed for servicemen through the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Transcription discs were often discarded or destroyed immediately after use, or stored in a closet and thrown out later when the closet got full. Engineers and other employees often saved transcription discs as a hobby. When tape came into the picture they made illegal copies to trade with other collectors. Later it was CDs and now it's the Internet.
There are shows produced by major networks like CBS, and a few other notables such as the Jack Benny Show, whose rights holders or their heirs have rigorously kept track of their copyrights and enforced them over the years, but in the vast majority of cases the identities of the rights holders have been obscured by time. In the 30s and 40s there was no uniform practice for assigning radio show copyrights. Sometimes the originating station held the rights, sometimes the writers, sometimes a producer, even a lead actor. Over the years stations and production companies have gone out of business, merged and been absorbed, making it impossible in practical terms to trace the current rights holders.
Without years of "pirating" by collectors and enthusiasts (myself included) who keep creating and distributing more copies out of love for the material, very little of that segment of entertainment history would still exist. So for their efforts to retroactively castrate the public domain, I say to our corporate representatives in Congress, GO FUCK YOURSELVES.
it's hard to see how getting $160 million for totally failing in the marketplace can be considered "losing."
But it's not hard to see how this is a symptom that our legal system is mind-bogglingly broken beyond repair, when attorneys can use it to extort a vast fortune for themselves and two utter twits. When you look at how the system works today, it should be legal to just beat the crap out of someone and take their money. Why only give that privilege to people with law degrees?
Part of me actually wonders if these copyright claims are just Parsons trying to stretch the longevity of the controversy a bit more.
DING! Bob Parsons is in many ways one hell of a guy. Years ago he and his wife started Parsons Software, a kitchen table business that sold bible-study and church accounting software. Their advertising featured the two of them formally dressed sitting at the table in their home amidst Early American furniture. It looked like a still from a Trinity Broadcasting show. Now years later Bob's a multi-zillionnaire bachelor guy with a shaved head and an earring. If you go on GoDaddy and watch some of his videos about how to achieve business success, you'll see that he's a very good self-promoter and a charismatic guy who seems to know what he's doing. I expect he'll shrug this off with a smile, and a wiggly hot babe on his arm.
We can already point out that rightsholders have stolen from the public. The latest copyright extension in the U.S. was the Bono Act of 1998. One of its many provisions extended copyrights until 2067 on all audio recordings made before 1972. This included the entire "golden age" of radio and extends all the way back to wax cylinder recordings made by Edison. Thousands of works that had been in the public domain for decades were suddenly re-copyrighted. The same thing could happen to copyrights on written materials, to patents, to anything else that continues to make money for someone who can afford to bribe a senator to cut and paste their email into a piece of legislation. That's the U.S. version of "representative government" these days.