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What Lawyers Can Learn From Manga 357

Posted by timothy
from the lots-and-lots dept.
jedigeek links to this article from Lawrence Lessig, writing "This article explains the interesting phenomenon of dojinshi, and why dojinshi helps fuel the production of original manga. From a western-perspective, dojinshi breaks copyright laws, but, according to the article's author: 'The law is a rough-edged tool. It was not crafted by geniuses of economics.' In a time when laws like the DMCA exist and are being exploited, this is certainly food for thought."
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What Lawyers Can Learn From Manga

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  • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Friday January 10, 2003 @07:52PM (#5059597)
    This place is developing an echo...when are we actually gonna make a dent in the real world?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Everyone is so concerned about the right to "copy". Whatever happened to creating stuff new out of nothing? Has society gotten so lazy that it must steal everything now, including new or improved intellectual concepts from those that actually get off their ass to do it?
      • If writing something original was so great, than why do so many people write realistic fiction? When you're doing that, you're copying the Real World, when there are thousands of innovative Worlds to be created. Also, a well written story will inspire future stories. A good story creates a Universe, in which future stories can take place. People, after all, write Realistic and Historic fiction, (the latter is a better example) because they have found an interesting Universe (a real one, admittingly) in which they can put good stories. All the old works were derivative and group projects. Mythology and fairy tales work by this principle. You take a story world, and build upon it. As for Doujinshi and the equivalent, fanfics, fans of a certian art become deeply entwined in a universe, in a similar fashion to people of yore may have gotten involved in mythology (less so of course, because people actually believed in mythology, whereas the modern stuff is merely enjoyed deeply by their fans) and their imaginations thusly work in that universe as much as possible. Tolkien and those who followed him created a universe, and then filled it with stories. The universe-driven story, in my opinion, is one of very interesting importance. (Of course character-driven parts of the plot are important, but universe-driven plotlines allow an entire world to be unvealed.) But by revealing their universe to others, others will be compelled to respond with new stories. I think perhaps the right for someone to restrict what is published in their universe to some degree is a sane use of copyright, but I still think that the compulsion to write in someone elses universe is a key desire, especially as we can not all write universes by ourselves.
  • Couple of things.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maeryk (87865) on Friday January 10, 2003 @07:53PM (#5059608) Journal
    I dont know if I would call it an "obsession" any more than I would call the US' dependence (to one level or another) on newspapers and "obsession". Manga is more of a cultural thing.

    Apparently, slash is big in japan.. except they actually have the talent to do slash with art, rather than slash with badly-spelled-web-log-entries.

    *sigh*

    I was given a book on how to draw Manga.. and the
    "rules" of character design, etc, are very very interesting.

    Maeryk
    • by emptybody (12341) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:06PM (#5059682) Homepage Journal
      title?
      author?
      price?
      review?
      • by Maeryk (87865) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:43PM (#5059900) Journal
        Title: "How to Draw Manga"
        Author: "A Society For The Study Of Manga Techniques"
        #PP: 116
        ISBN# 4-88996-042-2
        Published 1999, subtitle "Compiling Characters"

        It goes in depth into design and shaping of characters.. including that manga SMILE, and the eyes, and (apparent lack of) nose, as well as shading techniques, and how to use pen, ink, pencil, tone sheets, and other items to make your manga look "real".

        Also covers lettering, position of word bubbles and position of characters to convey action, emotion, etc.

        It also goes to explain how the Hero is always one head taller than the Villain, who is 1/2 to 1 head taller than the lead female, and the comic relief is almost *ALWAYS* 3 heads tall, with his own head being 1/3 of that three.

        It kind of goes into the un-written dynamic of characters that we all noticed when watching StarBlazers for the first time, but didnt realize WHY we were noticing.

        As for price, I have no idea. It was an Xmas gift from my Mom several years ago.

        oh.. and it has manga-boobies, too!

        maeryk
    • By "obsession" in this case, I think he really means fandom. Creating websites, fan works, and other entertaining, semi-productive time sinks around a commercial work that serve no purpose other than loving devotion. To geeks, this is not "obsession". To us, nothing is obsessive until it kills you. The rest of the world may have a more liberal idea of the word...
  • by Compact Dick (518888) on Friday January 10, 2003 @07:59PM (#5059649) Homepage

    new and better ways of tentacle rape that they can then apply to their clients.

    Oh, wait...
  • The law (Score:2, Interesting)

    Anyone else think laws should be open-sourced so that we all, as a community of Americans, can view, revise, and change things as need be?

    (If we could do this, cruel and blatantly odd laws that allow such travesties as the DMCA, etc. wouldn't be allowed to exist.)
    • Re:The law (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dcmeserve (615081)
      > Anyone else think laws should be open-sourced so that we all, as a community of Americans, can view, revise, and change things as need be?

      Fundamentally, that's what a Democracy is supposed to be doing, isn't it? Though with the idea that everyone has to verify it before it's "released" (passed). We of course live in a Representative Democracy, wherein we appoint "experts" to do this job for us.

      Your suggestion sounds like something you might call a "Contributor Democracy", where anyone who wants to participates in the process of formulating the laws.

      Only problem is, how does the "release" mechanism work? In open-source, you just release a program when you want to, and people use it if they choose to. That won't quite work with a law: someone says "people shouldn't be allowed to do such and such", and then those who want to follow it do so. Or cops/judges choose which ones they want to enforce. Doesn't seem like that would be too effective. :)

      But it's an interesting idea!
    • vote.

      it's that simple.

      really.
    • Re:The law (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jmooney (138902) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:03PM (#5059995)
      Anyone else think laws should be open-sourced so that we all, as a community of Americans, can view, revise, and change things as need be?

      Before technology made that theoretically possible, having elected representatives was probably supposed to get as close to that as practically possible. Of course there would need to be VERY strong community stability controls to prevent the law swinging wildy with fads. Even something as simple as a slashdot discussion has layers of moderation and meta-moderation, and you still get a ton of junk posts just because they can. Something like the Linux kernel depends on a trusted dictator, which is works when you can have many different software implementations and ignore all but the effective ones. We can't afford to allow that with laws, we have to pick ONE right law for everyone before implementation.

      Today, I think the biggest barrier to progress towards the community ideal is that in America campaign contribution money can apparently override logic via blitz advertising for votes. That effectively breaks "one man, one vote". I'm not an American nor do I live in America so I can't directly participate in that process, but it still affects me at home because those policies are exported via political pressure on other countries.

      DMCA-like policy is only one of a number of unpopular policies that are being pushed on legislatures worldwide by corporate lobbying. In most countries corporations don't have as much influence over politics, so more and more internationally we are seeing government-to-government pressure from American politicians who are apparently legally allowed to owe big contributors big favors.

      Maybe American campaign finance reform is the way to break that barrier down, make American individuals votes count more than dollars again, and other individuals in their own countries too.

      Where I live, political campaigning by individual politicians is limited to 6 weeks before the election and must stop the day before the election. Individual electorate politicians have a campaign budget limited to merely thousands of dollars, enough for volunteers to put up posters and local some local media advertising but not enough to blitz the mass media. Penalties for exceeding this spending limit go beyond removal of that individual from office. The budgets for political parties are not as limited, but any party that can prove signed up membership of more than a certain number of people can get government contribution towards equal TV advertising time. This means that campaign money is not essential to a party getting a message publicised. No guarantee people will watch, but still a better chance.

      Not having to listen to a two-year run-up to every four-yearly election is one of the minor benefits of fairer campaign finance, the major one is that people's votes would count for more in making the law.

  • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:03PM (#5059668)
    Lawyers do NOT want companies thinking like this article suggests. They WANT companies starting lawsuits over the smallest of violations, real or imagined.

    It's how they get themselves paid.

    Why would they want anything else? They coach their clients strongly to persue every available legal option by using the tried and true "scare tactic" marketing technique: "If you DON'T sue them, think what the NEXT person might do - you don't want your product to get away from you!".
    • They coach their clients strongly to persue every available legal option by using the tried and true "scare tactic" marketing technique: "If you DON'T sue them, think what the NEXT person might do - you don't want your product to get away from you!".

      This is called their ethical duty. Because otherwise, the business person will sue their lawyer for malpractice when one of the "next persons" actually does something bad to them.
      • by LostCluster (625375) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:12PM (#5060044)
        What the lawyer won't tell them, because he has no way of knowing, is how much good can come to the company by allowing Person 1 to continue uninterrupted, or perhaps even with the encuragement of the company.

        It's the lawyer's duty to warn the company of what can go wrong legally, but somebody should call marketing and PR to to find out what can go wrong if they do go forward with the lawsuits.

        Sometimes, the business benefits more from Person 1's actions are so much greater that the risk of Person 2 should be accepted, and dealt with when Person 2 comes forward.
    • Which is exactly why companies have to remember their lawyers work for them, they don't work for the lawyers.

      -
    • There are plenty of idiot lawyers too, with no understanding of the industries they're supposed to be supporting. There are fewer of them in the dealmaking portion (dealmaking, not litigation) of the entertainment industry, for the simple fact that morons who don't know how the business is run can hold up projects over trivial details that NOBODY worries about in the real world. These people do not get work again.

      Unfortunately, this isn't true in many other areas, where a legal staff works to expoloit ever more exotic interpretations of the law, and strategies to counter said interpretations.

      Even worse are the ambulance-chasers, both literal and figurative, like those lawyers in Germany [slashdot.org]who decided to sue on Adobe's behalf (without asking Adobe) to kill KIllustrator. People like this should be instantly, and PERMANENTLY disbarred from every jurisdiction in the world, in addition to being labled as pariahs just as despicable as the accountants/tax lawyers behind the Enron and Worldcom book-cooking.

      I've studied bits and pieces of contract and IP law, in order to protect myself (and yes, I do occasionally consult with someone who actually has a J.D.) Knowing a little bit of law is good - having to learn the intricacies in order to someday defend against a frivolous lawsuit is ridiculous. How long before people have to become lawyers just to defend themselves against these roving bands of legal malcontents?

      There have been people calling for the government to protect us from drugs, violence, porn, and the internet. Where are the people calling for the government to protect us from the goddamn lawyers!?!?
      • There have been people calling for the government to protect us from drugs, violence, porn, and the internet. Where are the people calling for the government to protect us from the goddamn lawyers!?!?

        You mean like Tort Reform in NYS, which has the highest per-capita Lawyer population in the US?

  • For the uninitiated (Score:5, Informative)

    by tino_sup (460223) <tino_sup@aichohteeemayeell.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:04PM (#5059676) Homepage Journal
    Doujinshi is fan drawn and developed. This is not a new phenomenon as copying original work has always been viewed as flattery in Japan. It is our application of Western laws and thinking that sparks the copyright debate.
    • Some would say that Japan's culture has a deep basis in imitation--first the numerous inventions and innovations from nearby China, and in more recent times the electronics that we introduced to them in the post-war years. It's almost a cultural imperative.
      • by MrAndrews (456547)
        I raised that point with my wife once and she said it's not imitation, it's the Japanese desire to IMPROVE things. Electronics, cars, animation... the concept actually makes a lot of sense when you think of it not so much as copying, but more like 'creating more quality products'.

        This is also apparent in Japan's (secretly) genetically-engineered vegetables, which are typically 5 times the size of their natural counterparts. A normal eggplant could feed one person, but a Japanese eggplant can feed a whole family.

        Find good things, increase their worth.

  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:06PM (#5059681) Homepage Journal
    "There's a lesson in this example that executives in the content industry should think about before they sign away their businesses to lawyers. The law is a rough-edged tool. It was not crafted by geniuses of economics. How it affects new and different markets is uncertain. A smart business therefore asks not whether the use of its content is "theft," but whether the use of its content will (eventually at least) benefit it. The business of business is to make business, not to purify the world of copyright violations..."

    Is it just me or doues this sound like the definition of business for it's own sake? I realize the business of business is to make profit, but that statement make it sound as if the law is a secondary concern, an inconvinience that need be followed only if you're in a good mood.

    And of course the law is a rough edged tool when viewed upon from a purely business stand point. That's because most laws aren't designed with only business in mind. There are these things called "people" too...

    Oh, and didn't they know that purging the world of copywrite violations creates business too? Maybe they should have had somebody else write this piece...
    • by jericho4.0 (565125) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:21PM (#5059788)
      There is a difference between laws. The criminal code is enforced by the state, but contract and copyright law are enforced by the stakeholders, with help from the state. So the choice to apply the law is up to the copyright holders.

      The fact of it is, of course, that buissness violates laws for profit all the time. When the consequence of a violation is a fine, it just becomes another risk analysis to make.

    • by jaaron (551839) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:24PM (#5059814) Homepage

      Is it just me or does this sound like the definition of business for it's own sake? I realize the business of business is to make profit, but that statement make it sound as if the law is a secondary concern, an inconvinience that need be followed only if you're in a good mood.


      Lessig is NOT arguing that businesses should break the law, he's arguing that content holders should recognize when it is in their best interest to enforce their "legal rights" and when it's best to just let it pass.

      If my rights are violated, I can CHOOSE whether or not to press charges. If I choose not to, then there's nothing stopping anyone from violating those rights, especially if I make my intentions public. If I decide that certain rights aren't worth defending, or as Lessig points out are actually more profitable to me if I allow them to be "violated," then no one else can come in and tell me I must defend myself. In general it's not a smart idea to give away your rights, but perhaps Lessig has a point here that some laws and rights don't always protect they way you want them to and in fact you'd be better off not enforcing them.

      In practice this may happen more often than you think. Sometimes it's not worth the trouble hauling someone into court when you can deal with it person to person. Even the GPL itself "gives away" rights the law gives to copyright holders. In this case, such free software advocates feel the loss of traditional copyright privileges is outweighed by the gains of free-as-in-speech software.
      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:35PM (#5059858)
        The original poster had it all wrong, the point is not to ignore the law to do whatever you want but rather realizing the law is a tool that you need not always apply. Just because someone copies content of yours does not *nessicarily* mean your business will suffer as a result, and a smart business that realizes that can take advantage over another that spends precious resources fighting for ill-thought governmental policy.

        It's all about being a tool of the law, vs. using the law as a tool. I guess that's the short summary I was trying to arrive at before.
    • It's not against the law to use a copyrighted work if the copyright holder allows it. Copyright law requires the holder to actively defend the copyright. All the author is asking is for the companies that hold these rights asks themselves if the value of defending the copyright is greater than the benefit of allowing the infringement.

      A perfect case of ill advised copyright defense was when NBC systematically destroyed the online fan base of "Late Night with Conan O'Brian" by sending Cease and Desist letters to many fan sites. Sure, they were within there legal rights to force the removal of NBC copyrighted material, mostly pictures and logos, but the bad will they generated far out weighed the value of the material defended.
      • by jheinen (82399) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:18PM (#5060346) Homepage
        "Copyright law requires the holder to actively defend the copyright"

        No. That's trademark. Copyright is automatically granted and is always enforceable. You need not defend your copyright to keep it.
    • Well, its not that law is a secondary concern, its that there are two kinds of law.

      The first one is criminal law. These are wrongs against society (like murder, theft, and what not), and the person guilty of it will be punished by the government.

      The second kind is civil law, which involves torts, wrongs against either individuals or organizations. These are pursued by the victim to the perpetuator in order to receive recompensation for any damages.

      The two often go together. (ie: You stole my computer. You've acted against society and me. I may sue for the damages caused to me [cost of a new computer], or whatever it takes to put me back financially before you stole my computer under civil law. Then you are slapped with jail time or
      a fine under criminal law, to serve as a deterrent to other potential theives.)

      Now, in this case, to the best of my knowledge, the fans have not violated any criminal law, so there is only a tort (private wrong) involved. As such, the business has the right to sue the fans for any damages that they can prove. BUT, the company may choose not to sue the fans for whatever reason.

      In this case, its because they think that by letting the fans do so, they will get advertising (Hey... what's that cool comic based off of? Trigun? Cool... gotta check that out.), and by not suing their fans, the fans will likely be happier with the company and keep buying stuff.

      If the company instead sued the fans, that would hurt their business, as they are basically attacking their customers, which are their revenue source. (like shooting yourself in the foot... not very intelligent.)

      IANAL, but I'm taking a law class in high school, and hopefully this clears things up a bit. (and please correct me if I got anything about this wrong.)
    • A smart business therefore asks not whether the use of its content is "theft," but whether the use of its content will (eventually at least) benefit it. The business of business is to make business, not to purify the world of copyright violations..."


      Is it just me or doues this sound like the definition of business for it's own sake? I realize the business of business is to make profit, but that statement make it sound as if the law is a secondary concern, an inconvinience that need be followed only if you're in a good mood.


      There are an incalculable number of illegal acts performed daily, both civilly and criminally. That a law is broken does NOT necessitate the exercise of remedies against the lawbreaker.


      If you don't care if people infringe on your copyrighted work, you don't have to, and shouldn't have to, sue them for doing so. Just let them. It's the choice of the copyright holder, and forgiveness is absolutely an option.

    • Is it just me or doues [sic] this sound like the definition of business for it's own sake?

      I'm pretty sure that it's just you.

      ... that statement make it sound as if the law is a secondary concern, an inconvinience that need be followed only if you're in a good mood.

      ``That statement'' says that a smart business does not claim to be harmed by, and seek legal redress against, persons who are helping them to profit. Think about it: if copyright-infringing fanzines keep fans buying your product, do you sue and shut down the fanzines, or do you smile all the way to the bank? That's the point you missed. Lessig isn't saying that business should violate the law, but rather that business should not persecute their customers.

      The point that I think Lessig missed is that this is a classic example of how bureaucracies can go wrong. The lawyers who work for the business see an opportunity to prove their worth by suing as many people as possible. Never mind that these suits may be driving away customers, and harming the business. Any business big enough to hire a stable of lawyers is big enough to show these bureaucratic tendencies.

      And of course the law is a rough edged tool when viewed upon from a purely business stand point. That's because most laws aren't designed with only business in mind. There are these things called "people" too...

      I'm surprised to hear you say that. It seems to be commonly accepted here on Slashdot that laws are purchased by business, for their own consumption. Ergo, laws ARE ``designed with only business in mind.''. Or else our legal system is basically sound. Take your pick.

    • by MacAndrew (463832) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:47PM (#5059917) Homepage
      One argument for the types of laws and number of lawyers in America is that we have a very complex society that happens to provide a very good environment for business. Only a small percentage of lawyers are litigators, the majority are part of business. Business benefits not just from laws and lawyers to protect its interests, but also from predictability of its relationships. That's why all the big companies are incorporated in Delaware -- its corporation law is considered very good, and it is a consistent standard.

      Anyway, businesses ask themselves all the time whether what they're doing will increase profit (that's about *all* Enron, Worldcom, et al. apparently did) rather than suing over an abstraction of intellectual property theft. The DMCA and Sonny Bono Art were pushed because it was thought they would be profitable.

      BTW, it is frequently represented that the U.S. has many time more lawyers than Japan, overlooking another cultural difference. Many Japanese "lawyers" work for companies and perform the sorts of tasks that in the U.S. would be done by someone with a JD. We have this in the U.S. to a lesser extent, as with accountants who are in a gray area of practicing law by interpreting, applying, and advising clients on the tax code.

      I welcome the cultural comparisons. It's always interesting to see how the next guy does things. Isn't is funny, though, how quickly all the calls of the 80's for America to follow the Japanese business model evaporated several years ago? Different tactics work at different times -- and different philosophies for different cultures.

      On copyright violations -- it's a shame that the maturation of fair use signalled by Acuff-Rose has been reversed by recent legislation.
    • The corporation exists to make money. That is its sole purpose in life. Any path that makes more money therefore becomes the correct one.

      Laws can influence what is the correct path by providing economic incentives. All such laws can do is to tip the scales a bit further in one direction or the other. It is important to understand that just because something is law, does not make it right in the eyes of the corporation.

      An very simple example would be the executive on his/her way in a hurry to the airport for a business-critical (firm-survival-critical) client meeting. The correct thing to do is to take the car to the airport, drive it up on the sidewalk by the airport entrance, and abandon it there to rush to the flight. Illegal, yes, but the economic benefit of getting the sale far outweighs the economic disadvantage (cost) of the parking violation and getting the towed-away car out of the compound.

      In other circumstances, economic penalties (like for dumping toxins) provide an incentive that actually does tip the scale. It's a matter of the strength of the penalty.

      Corporations exist to make money. The correct course of action for a corporation is the one that generates the most money. Law is just one factor among many here, and it does not have any veto rights or other special standing among the economic factors that apply to a decision.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        The corporation exists to make money. That is its sole purpose in life.

        Not too long ago you could have said "The person exists to get food. That is his/her sole purpose in life." And it even would have been true, for a very long time. But you know what? Somewhere along the way, we grew up a little. We saw that there is more to life than grabbing the next, or the biggest, meal. There's a whole Universe of things above, beyond, and immament in the purely material.


        Maybe it's time for corporations to grow up, too. Maybe it's time for us to demand that they do, to remove the legal justifications for ones that don't, and to provide the legal framework that allows ones that do. The courts have recognized that, in certain ways, a corporation is a "person". With those rights come certain responsibilities too -- an ethics that can trascend the pure profit motive.


        Not that I'm holding my breath.

  • Great Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaaron (551839) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:07PM (#5059691) Homepage
    From the article:


    Management should begin to demand a business justification for copyright litigation. How does this legal action advance the bottom line? How will it grow markets or increase consumer demand for our products? Will calling our customers criminals increase consumer loyalty?


    If only more executives would ask these questions. Few businesses have realized the true power of fans and fan or user created content. Just look at the classic example of Half Life and Counter Strike. Where did these ideas that copyright law trumps the copyright holder's profits come from anyway?
    • Re:Great Questions (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375)
      A lot of businesses now are so desperate to post a profit in the present period, that they are willing to do things that come back to bite them in the long term.

      Nobody seems to think of their company as a going concern... a business that's still going to be here next week, next month, or next year. Something that costs you a dollar today but gets you back 25 cents a year for each of the next ten years is usually a good deal, isn't it?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can already tell that 99% of the comments here are going to be about tentacle rape and sticky comic books. Grow up. Yes there is a large market for pornographic or otherwise 'adult' drawings in Japan. There is also a large market for adult DVDs here in the states. "Deep Throat" has probably sold more home copies than any other movie in the history of US cinema. Does that make every movie released in the states a porno?

    The article has nothing to do with that. It is about how "borrowing" copyrighted characters for non-authorized purposes is not necessarily bad. So take your hentai debates somewhere else.
  • Fine Line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YellowElectricRat (637662) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:14PM (#5059745) Journal

    Apparently, in Japan, creating works based on someone's creations is considered flattery towards the creator. Sounds good to me - I'd be pretty happy if someone thought enough of my work to want to make works derived from it.

    Bear in mind, though, that there is a very fine line between flattery and profiteering off someone elses hard work...

    • I was going to say that most fanfic is crap, but then I remembered that Alan Dean Foster gets paid real money and his work is utter garbage!
  • When a Sony lawyer threatened a fan of the company's Aibo robotic dog, who had posted a hack online to teach the dog to dance to jazz, he or she no doubt never thought to ask exactly how making the Aibo dog more valuable to customers could possibly harm Sony.

    Simply LMAO...

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdougNO@SPAMgeekazon.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:19PM (#5059778) Homepage
    As usual, Lessig makes some great points. Unfortunately, expecting the litigation industry to learn from dojinshi is like expecting the pharmaceutical industry to embrace naturopathic healing. As he says at the end, it's really the business leaders themselves who have to learn this lesson and put it into action, taking their companies back from their attorneys, and in the process (quite incidentally) letting us participate in our own culture rather than merely "consuming" it.
  • IANAL, etc

    Trademarks, IIRC, must be vigorously defended or else the company risks losing rights to it, correct?

    I think many businesses are carrying that philosophy to copyrights as well. They believe if they don't go after each and every person, they'll lose the whole enchilada.
    • There's no philosophy involved. Trademarks are there to distinguish one good (or source of goods, etc.) from others.

      If you let other people use it pell mell, it no longer is distinguishing anything at all, and you lose your rights to it.

      Copyright doesn't work like that at all. The copyright holder absolutely does not have to pursue infringement. The worst outcome (aside from whatever impact the infringment might have) is that the infringer is allowed to do so because you've waived your remedies against him.

      That's about it. As I said, no philosophy.
      • If you let other people use it pell mell, it no longer is distinguishing anything at all, and you lose your rights to it.

        Yes. That's what I said.

        Copyright doesn't work like that at all.

        My point is that businesses are acting like it *does* work like that.
        • Michael Moore's "culture of fear" point, as explained in Bowling for Columnbine comes into play here.

          I personally think its fear. Company men _fear_ doing the wrong thing, to they want to play it as aggresively as possible so they cant be left holding the buck.

          The better we get at analysing the consequences of our actions, the worse it'll get. Trusted computing is nothing .. imagine when companies put processes in place that could systematically prevent employees from taking action (or not taking action) that would result in potential lost revenue. ("Warning: System detects employee 4530 has not yet instigated copyright litigation against infringer XM43[XMLReuters:8493/02/04/03]. Potential lost revenue detected, job priviledges revoked.") The shareholders would be in support of such a thing until they realized humans are humans because we can see and predict beyond the short term quantifiable results of our actions.

          I might sound like a luddite in saying it, but the closer we get to the trees, the less and less we are able to navigate the forest.
  • Lawyers need to learn that if they go after doujinshi Excel is going to go all psycho on their butts. Even her conscience is a murderer. (Yes, I know she was ordered to kill the Manga-Ka, but hey, she didn't go through with it... well, ok, so she killed him once, but she didn't do it again when the great will of the macrocosm reset the plot.)
  • Good reasoning.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:22PM (#5059803)
    "To many, business is beneath the law. When a Sony lawyer threatened a fan of the company's Aibo robotic dog, who had posted a hack online to teach the dog to dance to jazz, he or she no doubt never thought to ask exactly how making the Aibo dog more valuable to customers could possibly harm Sony. Harm was not the issue, a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was: consumers should be banned from hacking Sony dogs, whether or not it was to Sony's benefit."

    You know, I'm a little surprised Sony (of all places) doesn't understand this concept. It would be hard to argue that one of Quake n's most appetizing features was the mods available to it. Though ID didn't make money off the mods themselves, it helped make sure that many many MANY copies of Quake were sold. Sony, with its game division, should be eyeballing Id more carefully than that.
    • As for Sony... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm posting anonymously because I happen to work at Sony Electronics. Let me put it this way: Sony is big. Sony is REAL big. There are people in Sony who love open source and all that jazz. There are others who have no idea what that means.

      Sony is also in a difficult position. It is one of the few (only?) companies that both produces content (Sony Music, Sony Films) and the technology to play it on (Sony Electronics). So there are competing forces within Sony itself. A win for the content people sometimes means a loss for the tech people. And the way Sony is structured means that these divisions are essentially autonomous. Only in the very upper levels do they come under one roof, so often there isn't a lot of effort to really try to work together beyond simply promoting a common brand image.

      I often see a lot of grumbling about Sony here on Slashdot, but honestly, I like the company. I think Sony has the resources and position to do things right. At least that's my hope. And somedays I perhaps I don't like everything about the place, but that's just it -- corporations are big and you have to take the good with the bad. Even Microsoft I'm sure has some very well meaning intelligent people somewhere in there.

      DISCLAIMER: the above comment expresses only the views of the author and does not in any way express the views of Sony Electronics or any of its associates.

      • "I often see a lot of grumbling about Sony here on Slashdot, but honestly, I like the company. I think Sony has the resources and position to do things right."

        I haven't caught the grumblings about Sony, but I do have to admit that I'm surprised that people don't see Sony the way they see MS. I'd go into detail, but I think it'd be rude of me to go into any other detail other than there's reason for them to have that attitude.

        I will give Sony credit, though, I do feel like they've thought through a lot of their products. I recently bought a low-end DV camera by Sony and was pleasantly surprised at how accomodating it is. It didn't have the best CCD or lens out there, but it had plenty of other stuff to make me feel like I didn't buy a bare bones machine.

        I'm drifting off topic a bit, but I might as well ask now: Do you consider Sony (or the area you're closest to) to be a good environment for artists? I'm asking because I may change jobs soon but I haven't locked down where I want to work.
    • I think it's a corporate norm in Sony to assume that copyright infringement is automatically wrong and needs to be dealt with legally- I think it stems from their large music industry base. It's still idiotic in the Aibo case, and probably P2P too.
    • Don't assume that Sony is a monolith. It's entirely possible that the division of Sony that makes the PS/2 understands the value of fan contributions but that they don't talk to the division that makes the Aibo enough to pass on the idea. Remember that Sony's music division is vigorously attacking mp3 traders as pirates while their computer division is selling some of the very computers and mp3 players that those traders are using. If they can have two divisions that are that badly at odds, it's not surprising that different divisions would have different degrees of clue about other issues, too.

      • "Don't assume that Sony is a monolith. It's entirely possible that the division of Sony that makes the PS/2 understands the value of fan contributions but that they don't talk to the division that makes the Aibo enough to pass on the idea."

        Yeah, you're right. It's easy to assume that the motivations of one department reflect on the goals of the entire company *cough*Microsoft*cough*.

        You gotta wonder, though, why Sony's not being more agressive of merging the video entertainment side with the video game side. I realize it's not as simple as changing the mission statement, but it would be nice for a company like Sony to back something like that. Why aren't they making movies for PC users, take advantage of the net as a distribution medium. They'd have the ability to define the rules!

        Oh well, I can dream.
  • While this culture certainly seems more rational about copyrights than ours is, the simple truth is you can't tell people that they have "rights" and then never expect them to effectively secure them, that is just as wrong as the copyright lords are. The DMCA and other laws like it are just that, people trying to secure rights that we have told them that they have, and are the main reason copyrights are so evil. The effects of copyrights are like a vine that will never stop growing until we cut it off at the root. Information is so easy to copy and manipulate that in the long run there can be no middle ground. Either all information will be controlled or none of it.

  • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:33PM (#5059853)
    ... change the laws to force people into it!
  • Unfair comparison (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekee (591277) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:48PM (#5059925)
    I doubt the RIAA or MPAA really cares that much about derivative works. You don't hear Weird Al getting sued for doing parodies of popular songs, for instance. The RIAA and MPAA are concerned about bootleg copies of their work. Examples like this are not going to convince them that p2p sharing of their material and burning copies of cds is not costing them business.
    • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:4, Informative)

      by RatBastard (949) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:06PM (#5060013) Homepage
      Two things:
      1. Parody is a well established excemption of copyright law. You can parody any work ever created.
      2. "Wierd" Al always asks permission before he parodies anyone's work. He doesn't have to, and he knows it, but he always does (depending on who you beleive in that Coolio song screwup).
      Copyright holders here aren't terribly interested in parody. They're more interested in busting the balls of some sap who hacks his robot dog or knocking the heads of those day-care centers that have unlisenced pictures of Goofy, Donald, Micky and Wall E. Gator on their walls.
      • Fine. Here's another example. There's a lot of Star Wars derivative fan films. Instead of cracking down on it, they let it thrive, and even allowed an awards show. My point is still valid.
    • You don't hear Weird Al getting sued

      Weird Al has always asked for permission first...
    • To defend my Weird Al example, parody may not fall under fair use if the parody is for commerical purposes. In the end, it's up to the judge to decide, however. Since Weird Al sells albums, this is commercial parody. It makes sense that if you're making money off of a parody of someone elses work, they're entitled to a cut of the action. Not sure what goes on in the Weird Al example. Also, the fact that Weird Al does gets permission to do his parodies means the RIAA members may not be as evil as we assume.
  • Not just IP rights.

    Look, IP rights were originally introduced to promote innovation. But today many people see them as fundamental rights. The fact that they are a means to an end, not an end in themselves, has been long forgotten.

    But this is true of other rights. Capitalism is a succesful mechanism that generates great wealth all round (though maybe not for everyone). Capitalism rests on property rights. So do we have property rights because they actually make most people better off, or are they fundamental rights - an end in themselves. In fact the truth is the latter. Where property rights impinge on the common good (whatever that is) we have to sacrifice them - even though the Constitution might suggest otherwise. So, for example, we pay taxes.

    Even freedom of speech has two sides. You can see it as a fundamental right but it's also a means to an end. A society which doesn't repress free speech is one in which good ideas that benefit all eventually see the light and in which bad ones can be argued away.

  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:50PM (#5059933)
    Nor can Hilary Rosen, or Jack Valenti or any of those pinhead types. See, they probably have never heard 99.9% of the music they represent, nor seen 99.9 % of the movies. They're a perfect example of the cancer that's killing innovation (and with it, the economy) in the U.S. Today.

    Here's an even better example:

    E-Books:
    My wife loves E-books, they're cheap and she can buy and download them online (read: Impulse buy for instant gratification). What does drive her crazy though is that she can't print most of them. She has to be tied to a computer to read them. So, she winds up buying a mix of books or goes to the library.
    Enter Elcomsoft...a Russian company that can fix this...which will make my wife happy so she'll buy even MORE e-books. Another thing that Elcomsoft's product can do is open up an entire NEW MARKET..the blind book market. See, the millions of blind people in the world can't USE
    E-books, but with Elcomsoft's program these books can be read on a standard text reader that many of these blind people use. Instead of JUMPING FOR JOY at this innovative product that can result in MILLIONS MORE E-books being sold, the industry sues it out of existance. Now, explain to me how THAT made any sense? Like I'm a six year old.
    • Lawyers are very good at telling you when you can and cannot sue, and what the likelyhood of winning would be.

      But what they can't tell you is if you should be suing. See, they have a vested interest, they're selling their services and if you don't sue, you don't need their services as much.

      The article's solution is right... the business people have to consider whether or not to take legal action as a business decision before a lawsuit can go forward.
  • Fanfic [fanfic.net] aka FanFiction [fanfiction.net] aka Slash [aol.com] is not just a Japanese Anime phenomenon; it's wildly popular with Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror book, movie, and TV genres as well, and is especially easy to find on the net. Some large fraction of it may be obsessively devoted to obsessively describing Scully's sexual relationships with Mulder or the Cigarette Smoking Man, or Kirk's with Spock, or Buffy's with whomever or whatever, but that's just Donaldson's Law ("Sturgeon was an optimist"). Some of it's actually quite good, and some of it's really really bad but still funny.

    And then there's Filk [earthlink.net].

  • TiVo has always had a cool relationship with its hackers. They encurage hacking activities, and even included unsupported backdoors in their software that often let hackers walk right in to what they want access to.

    However, there are limits to this. Particularly, when it comes to extracting the video files out of the units onto PCs. Simply put, if that hack was to be widespread, that'd cause TiVo some headaches with the TV industry, and they really don't want that. So, some people have tried, but but they have found plenty of roadblocks in their path, and they're frowned upon by the general TiVo hacking community. Another clear no-no is any hack that allows users to bypass paying their monthly fee to TiVo, since that'd be a direct threat to the company's business model.

    TiVo's basically practicing what the article suggests, allow users to extend the capabilities of your product, and sometimes even recognize those users and incorperate what they found into the product. However, when the users stray into the territory where their hacks harm the business, that's when they call in the attack lawyers. In the end, hackers are allowed to do their thing, but kept in the box right where the company wants themm too.
  • Yeah but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stubear (130454) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:13PM (#5060054)
    ...correlation does not equal causation. Theories like these are always applied to more popular intellectual property when they should be applied to the most mundane of intellectual property. Just because some more popular things benefit from this blind consent does not mean that everything will magically benefit from this consent. In the end, it should be left up to the owner of the intellectual property to make this decision.
    • Yes, but right now the owners of intellectual property are making their gut-reaction to sue, rather than first step back and try to figure out whether or not they're actually being harmed.

      Yeah, it's easy to say "this is gonna cost us sales" in the short term, but sometimes letting the "violation" slide actually turns out to create interest in the orignal work or offshoot projects.

      This isn't to say all copyright violations should be ignored, but that copyright holders should at least perform a reality check before going forward with the suit, because sometimes a winner in court can be a loser in the long run.
      • the decline in cd sales for the 1st time ever doesn't support p2p as enhancing cd sales, however.
        • Yeah, but this is the first time the economy has gone down since the CD was the primary method of transfering recorded music.

          All forms of entertainment always slump in a down economy.
  • Did anyone notice the reference to 'Chicago' the musical? It's a great movie by the way, I just saw it last night.
  • In related news, the entire European culture for the past 1000 years sued Disney due to it's embrace and extend propiatization of classic public domain fairy tales.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:23PM (#5060108)
    Lawyers should be placed on the Arc B together with telephone sanitizers, advertising account executives, hairdressers, insurance salesmen and management consultants, then sent on a direct course towards a nice distant and solid planet to save them from being eaten alive by the mutant star goat.

    Arc B should of course be sent ahead of the other arcs --- there's nothing nicer than a nice clean telephone to welcome home the producers and achievers.
  • by Maul (83993) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:36PM (#5060166) Journal
    This is what I know about doujinshi. I'm sure that I might be missing some small details, but it is an interesting contrast to the concepts of Intellectual Property that we have in the US.

    As the article states, doujinshi are "fan comics" created mainly by amatures that are based on existing works by professional manga artists.
    Doujin varies greatly in quality and content. Lots of it is complete crap, while some of it is actually very good, arguably better than the work it is derived from. Additionally, a lot of doujin is pornographic in nature, though not all of it is.

    It is similar to fanfiction, except there is one huge difference between fanfiction in the US and doujin in Japan. Doujin artists actually SELL their work for profit. There are even stores deticated just to doujin in Japan, not to mention
    many very large conventions centered around doujin.

    In the US, the owners of the original work would no doubt sue the pants off of anyone who tried this. If I were to make an "X-Men" fan comic and try to sell it, I could expect a big fat lawsuit from Marvel comics. However, in Japan, doujin artists are very rarely prosecuted.

    The only time I can think of a doujin artist being sued is when Nintendo took legal action against a female doujin artist for making a Pokemon-based comic where Pikachu is raped by Satoshi (Ash).
    I can't really blame them for that one...

    Most of the time pro manga artists see the doujinshi based on their works as homage. Infact, many major manga artists (such as Akamatsu Ken, creator of Love Hina) got their start doing doujin.

    Doujinshi have been around for a LONG time. Obviously, the presence of these fan comics have done little to no harm to the professional manga and anime industries. Those who produce doujin are typically the most hard core and loyal fans of the professional works, after all.

    I think doujinshi is an excellent example that derivitive works really do not dilute trademarks, or any such nonsense, and that these works actually help to promote fandom of the original work. If only our friends in the RIAA and MPAA could understand that... but I guess it is pointless, after all.
  • Sports broadcasts have always been copyrighted. That's been true since the beginning of time. However, sports leagues usually require that the broadcasters who purchase rights allow their footage to be used in limited contexts in by other media outlets.

    The result is that you see MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL highlights on SportsCenter and your local nightly newscasts.

    Now, take the Olympics. NBC presently has a multi-year deal with the USOC that is very tight on how much Olympic video can be used, and when it can be used. Nobody can air even a small clip from a 2002 Olympic skating routine, even if it's a program being put together by the skater who performed in the first place.

    The point? Major sports are still doing just fine in most cases, while the Olympics seems to be suffering from a general lack of interest. Apparently letting highlights be aired on the 11pm news actually helps the popularity of a sporting event...
  • by AgentGray (200299)
    While I agree with some of the comments about lawyers looking for the most moneymaking option for themsleves in the U.S., let's drop the lawyers for a moment.

    What I gathered from the article is that the Japanese publishers look to make money from their work and are open for different interpretations as long as it still makes them money...

    ..U.S. businesses on the other hand figure that the only way they can make money (fast or otherwise) is to have complete control over their product, which in turn opens the floodgates for the lawyers, monopoly laws, and other such things needed to make sure that the businesses have complete and total (redundancy intended) control.
  • Before dojinshi... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dinosaur Neil (86204)

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

    Okay, not so long ago and not so far away, there was another situation where copyright violation kept an IP alive. It's called Star Trek.

    For those too young to remember, there was a 10 year period (1969-79) where Star Trek was just another cancelled TV series. A lame animated series showed up in 73(?) that quickly died and there were novelizations of both series, but otherwise, the only "authorized" new ST material was a dozen or so novels of varying degrees of quality. That and tons of fan fiction. The sort of stuff that Paramont gets real huffy about these days. Sturgeon's law applied to the results; most of it was crap (did anyone else run across any of the K/S stuff?), but the stuff that wasn't crap helped keep the franchise alive and Rick Berman employed. This was a time when fanzines were typed and mimeographed, mail involved paper and stamps, videotape was 3/4" wide and only used by TV stations... The point being that a cavalier attitude towards copyrights made it possible for Paramont to to make millions of dollars sucking the life and spirit from the desicated husk of Star Trek, long after their attempts to kill it failed.

  • Something along the lines of the
    Open Gaming Licence [opengamingfoundation.org],
    that spells out what a work of fanfic may/may not do,
    and what legalese one must comply with to publish it.

  • by Ironica (124657) <pixel@NOspAM.boondock.org> on Saturday January 11, 2003 @01:35AM (#5060995) Journal
    About a year and a half ago or so, an Everquest player had his game account banned and was asked to remove some fan fiction from a website by Sony (and I believe there was a threat of legal action if he did not). That fiction involved a 14-year-old dark elf female being raped.

    But, as was frequently pointed out in the resulting furor (the player in question apologized and took it like a man, but some players want any reason to bitch), the general policy on EQ fan sites is to let them be, and even throw them bones now and then. People post screenshots, walk-throughs, fan fics, and all kinds of other game-related content all over the web. And apparently Sony Online Entertainment and/or Verant Interactive realize that this is a *good* thing, so long as it doesn't hurt their image. They also realize that if they decide a particular work is hurting them more than helping them (as they decided with the depiction of child rape), they have the right to enforce their copyright selectively.

    It seems that perhaps copyright law needs a proof of damage clause attached to it, similar to slander and libel. This could be used to expand the doctrine of Fair Use, for example. In many cases such a clause wouldn't be appropriate; you could, if it were done badly, end up with situations where someone loses their copyright because "they weren't using it." (Of course, that happens now, too... see the Darwin fish. But anyway.)

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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