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Disney Video Used to Explain Copyright 234

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the insanely-well-done dept.
Recently a pretty amazing video surfaced that used clips from Disney films to explain copyright law. It was created by Eric Faden of Bucknell University and must have taken an insane amount of time to assemble. Now you have to wonder how long before someone gets sued over it. Also here is a corel cache version as well as a link to the original page.
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Disney Video Used to Explain Copyright

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  • by Inverted Intellect (950622) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:12AM (#19207583)
    IANAL, but as stated in the video, fair use isn't a right, it's a legally defensible position, which the video itself is supposed to occupy. The use of short segments of copyrighted material for purposes of commentary and comedy is categorized as fair use. I'm pretty sure the video is a comedic commentary, and it also only uses short segments.
  • Video as a Test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by madsheep (984404) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:13AM (#19207593) Homepage
    Well if you watch through the whole video you will see that they reference this video as basically being an experiment. If the creators of the video are understanding and interpreting everything they think they should be protected from the law. The only problem is that the law still allows someone to sue you even if they are wrong. Going to court and defending yourself isn't free, even if your attorney is...

    Honestly, I would be quite interested in what Disney does on this one. This would be nice to track.
  • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:14AM (#19207615) Homepage Journal
    Actually, if you want to get picky... if it were a copyright violation (which it isn't), then it would be a civil breach, not a criminal one.

    And your post, which some might think* should be criminal, is really just indicative of a low watt bulb.

    * This author does not disclose what he believes on this subject on the grounds that he would absolutely incriminate himself.
  • Bravo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:24AM (#19207737) Homepage Journal
    All I can say about this is... wow. What a piece of editing that was. Just the shear workforce-hours involved documenting the needed phrases within Disney works. The dripping irony of using Disney clips is too precious for words.

    I'm not one to waste space with a "me too" post that is essentially just the noise of me clapping, but this video deserves a standing ovation.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:25AM (#19207747) Homepage
    It's annoying to watch. Rather than redub the animation, or frame it in a dialogue, he uses extremely short clips of various Disney cartoons to recite his script by using one clip per word (generally), and since the tones of voice, speed at which they're talking, etc. all vary, it sounds jarring as hell. There's a lot of repetition, too. I didn't even get to the middle of it.
  • by tsa (15680) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:27AM (#19207771) Homepage
    What is it with all the name-calling on /. lately? We're sliding towards the Digg-level here... Please moderate your language people!
  • by kebes (861706) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:27AM (#19207773) Journal
    I have to disagree.

    The use of the Disney logo doesn't violate trademark law because it was accompanied by a "this movie is not endorsed by:" line. The purpose of trademark law is not to prevent people from reproducing imagery, but rather to avoid consumer confusion. I don't think many consumers would be confused by a large disclaimer stating "this is not affiliated with Disney!" (anymore than they would think that my post is endorsed by Disney, simply because I use their name in my post).

    Furthermore, the entire video is both a massive comedic parody, and a commentary on the current state of copyright. As the video points out, these are two things which are supposedly protected by fair use. You are allowed to use clips in order to criticize something and/or for satire.

    Another bit of irony is that the author of the video threw in some clips from Aladdin, where the genie was performing satire. If you've ever watched Aladdin, you'll know how many jokes in that movie revolved around the genie making reference to all kinds of movies and actors. Many of the genie's lines are taken verbatim from other movies, for instance.

    So, if Disney is protected by the satire/parody clause in copyright, why isn't this short, informative, humorous video? If a video like this is not protected by fair use (does it reduce the economic potential of Aladdin to show 8 clips, each 0.8 seconds long, from that movie?) then the law is ever more broken than I previously thought.
  • Worth the effort? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tcdk (173945) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:30AM (#19207801) Homepage Journal
    A lot of hard work must have gone into this. But, well, the results are less than stellar. But in a ways it's more like a piece of bait for the legal department of Disney. It's not so much the message of the movie itself, but it's ability to force a reaction, that exactly the point of the message itself, that's interesting.

    Viral marketing payed by the legal department of Disney, if you want. If it works. If Disney can't find a quiet way to kill it. On the otherhand, if they do not try to kill it, a small piece of fair use got got accepted, and will set a precedence. A win-win situation, as far as I see it.
  • Ignore it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animaether (411575) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:31AM (#19207819) Journal
    ...that's what I would do anyway. Oh yes, it's funny. It's uhm.. hilarious. Look at that.. snippets from Disney productions used to explain the evils of copyright. Yeah. So what else is on?

    Seriously, watch the thing.. What.. /is/ COPY.. rrrright? COPY COPY.. rrright? IT! /is/.. a.. rrright! by the COPY!.. rrright OOOwner... etc. Would you like your newspaper to be written in the style of a 'ransom note'? Sure, it'd be interesting for a day, it might even enter history as a landmark publication.. but you wouldn't want to read it again. And more likely than not, you're not going to remember what the thing read. I don't even remember what this video was trying to tell me, exactly.. just that it annoyed the crap out of me - in a bad way. Quite unlike commercials for tampons and such which are very annoying as well, but I sure remember that they now come in a silky smooth and curved lines-variant for ease insertion from Tampax.

    So if Disney is smart.. they'll ignore it, and it'll go away faster than the SONY 'rootkit' outrage.

    A much better video would have used snippets of the first Mickey Mouse adventure etc. with clear and concise narration, law references, case references, and so forth - it would hold attention much better.
    imho anyway - perception is a personal thing after all
  • Disney irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by D3 (31029) <daviddhenning.gmail@com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:31AM (#19207821) Journal
    The fact that Disney is working so hard to extend copyrights to an indefinite amount of time is rather ironic considering their biggest hits are from public domain stories. In fact, I hope a good EFF or other lawyer gets to point out in court that basically Disney would not likely exist if it weren't for the public domain.
  • Re:Video as a Test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnny cashed (590023) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:33AM (#19207837) Homepage
    If Disney is smart, they'll ignore it. They don't want to encourage public discourse on copyright. Sometimes any publicity is bad publicity.
  • Re:Video as a Test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:37AM (#19207883) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I would be quite interested in what Disney does on this one. This would be nice to track.

    Disney will do absolutely nothing. There's negative value to Disney in even issuing a DMCA takedown notice, much less suing the creator of this video.

    If they were to sue or issue a takedown, the very best that could happen (from their perspective) is that the video would be taken down. There's virtually no chance of any kind of monetary judgement, and none at all that they could be awarded and collect an amount of money that Disney would actually care about.

    The worst that could happen, on the other hand, is that the whole thing could garner huge amounts of publicity and get mainstream columnists and pundits talking about the issues, the concept of Fair Use, questions about appropriate copyright durations and the purpose of copyright, etc.

    It's also possible that the court's ruling could establish some broad precedent, either strongly reaffirming and expanding Fair Use, or undermining and limiting it, but both scenarios are very, very unlikely. This video targets the exact center of Fair Use -- it's criticism and education, for non-profit purposes and its almost complete lack of entertainment value ensures that it's no threat to the commercial success of the films it uses. A court would have to completely gut Fair Use to rule that this video is infringing, and that's not going to happen. To expand and strengthen Fair Use, a court would have to not only rule that this video is non-infringing, it would have to voluntarily add sweeping statements defining Fair Use. Courts don't do that, they strive to keep their rulings as narrow and precise as possible.

    No, Disney won't see any value in pursuing this to set a favorable precedent, won't get anything significant from attacking it and would risk significant negative publicity. They'll do nothing.

  • by Tribbin (565963) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:37AM (#19207885) Homepage
    "It seems that the creator missed the point entirely."

    Or you missed the intentional joke of finding the edge of what the creator can/can't do.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:41AM (#19207937)
    "It was created by Eric Faden of Bucknell University and must have taken an insane amount of time to assemble. "

    It's brilliant, and all credit to Mr. Faden for his great work.

    But re: "it must have taken an insane amount of time to assemble"... Just to point out how it looks from the other guy's point of view, I'd estimate (as a filmmaker) that it'd take me a couple of days to cut something like this together, plus a couple of days research. i.e. four days or so for one person. Please compare and contrast with the 3-4 years it took hundreds if not thousands of people to make any of one the movies shown in the montage.

    Now that's "an insane amount of time to assemble".

    I'm not defending unfair copyright -- but please remember, this stuff doesn't grow on trees.

  • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:12AM (#19208233)
    The video, as far as I can tell, is like exploratory surgery.

    Tangentially, actually watching it much like surgery, as well.
  • by BakaHoushi (786009) <Goss.SeanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:32AM (#19208453) Homepage
    Curiously, could you provide an example of a "modern great artist," and a great work he/she/they have created? I mean, we certainly aren't in the age of Leonardo da Vinci. What construes a "great" work today? Thinking of movies and music, most of those make the most money they ever will by far in their first year. I mean, how much money is the average movie going to make after 10 years?

    Me, I think of Looney Toons. Most of those cartoons were made in the 30's, the 40's, the 50's, etc. It's been over half a century, and the characters and acts have been ingrained into our culture. Look at Star Wars as well. It's been, what, 30 years since episode IV came out? Star Wars jokes and parodies and tributes are all over mass culture. Should George Lucas still have a firm grip on those works, just to alter them and repackage them to sell them over again?

    I don't know. Stuff like that just does not sit well with me. I mean, if Lucas WANTS to repackage it and sell it, sure, let him. But shouldn't the original be available to the public? Of course, the means of making it available are rather difficult to think of.
  • Re:Video as a Test (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dpilot (134227) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:10AM (#19208887) Homepage Journal
    Disney MUST get the video taken down. They have a history of requiring strict compliance with copyright law, perhaps defining it even more strictly than Congress. If they allow this to pass, it sets a precedent. Maintaining copyrights and trademarks requires due diligence, and getting this taken down is part of that due diligence.

    No doubt somewhere in the Halls of Disney, lawyers are examining this video very carefully. If they think they can win, they will send the takedown notice, because if they don't it sets a precedent too. Of course in their eyes the worst case is to send a takedown and lose in court. But leaving it stand is second-worst.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:19AM (#19208991) Homepage Journal
    Apple gave quite a bit back to the KHTML project, FWIW. Sure, there were some bumps in the road in the beginning but they cleaned their act up.
  • by Danse (1026) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:28AM (#19209097)

    Curiously, could you provide an example of a "modern great artist," and a great work he/she/they have created?


    Roger Waters


    Interestingly enough, the greater an artist is, the less they need a long term of protection. As others have pointed out as well, people turn a profit on their work much faster than ever before in our history. The vast majority of works earn very little after only a few years of turning a profit. Then you have the long tail of earnings dropoff. A relative handful of works will continue to be profitable, but those works will have made so much money already that the creator will hardly be starving (unless he gets lost for a week in one of his mansions). The astoundingly small fraction of works that make little money up front, and a lot later, are an aberration, and not something to base the law on when compared to the public need to have access to our culture to reshape and use to express new ideas. Setting the copyright term to something that is at least defensible, maybe 20 years like patents, would help to balance the interests involved here. If the public is going to grant a monopoly on something, then the public should be getting something back from that deal. We used to, but we haven't gotten anything back for decades now.
  • by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:18AM (#19209693) Homepage
    Brilliantly written and edited. I was enlightened by the part that says fair use is not a right, it's a legally defensible position. It is legal to copy a copyrighted work for the fair use purposes such as critique and satire. But the author has no responsiblity to make that copying convenient.

    Movie studios have every right to make copying video discs difficult. They're not obligated to sell unencrypted data; they sell bits and we voluntarily buy bits. But it must not be made illegal for purchasers to circumvent that copy protection if they are able.

    And I truly wish that the creators and Congress would remember that there are two parts to the bargain of copyright: an unnatural protection of creative works from copying and a reasonable, limited duration for that protection. Congress might have the right to extend the copyright duration to forever and a day, but it's a stupid move because it stifles the creativity that copyright is meant to promote.

    AlpineR
  • Re:Video as a Test (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:38AM (#19209871) Journal
    What Disney has done before regarding a Copyright means nothing. Copyright requires no due diligence, no prior trying to get infringing removed, nothing. You can sue Company A for infringement and not Company B, even if they did the exact same thing, and it has no bearing on the infringement.

    Only Trademarks require enforcement and equal treatment or the trademark goes into the public domain.

    Copyright != Trademarks != Patents

    Oft confused, but the law is very different for these types of intellectual property.
  • by MS-06FZ (832329) on Monday May 21, 2007 @02:20PM (#19211983) Homepage Journal

    Hear hear. The idea of copyright was to protect and allow property rights holders to profit from their work before it entered the public domain and therefore became impossible to profit from. I wholeheartedly agree that 7 years is plenty of time to recoup costs and make profit in this day and age.

    The problem is, it's somewhat socialist to prevent someone from profiting on their work indefinitely.

    Limiting copyright doesn't prevent someone from profiting on their work indefinitely, it just removes a specific mechanism that grants them the exclusive right to do so. In other words, yes, you're taking something away from the artists - but the question is whether that level of exclusivity should have been given to them in the first place. Copyright is a fundamentally artificial thing - you can't "possess" an idea, once you've shared it with others - that doesn't make copyright wrong, but I personally feel it shouldn't be quite so extensive.

    For instance: suppose Aerosmith were to perform a song they wrote twenty years ago. Fine, they're still making money from their old work, good for them. Copyright isn't what grants them that ability - it's the fact that the audience recognizes them as the original performers of the song that makes their performance of the song notable. And if the song fell into the public domain, the loss of copyright control doesn't deny them the ability to do that, either. Other artists could cover the song if it passed into the public domain, or sample it for use in their songs. So long as they do a good job of it they, too, deserve a measure of financial reward.

    With something like a film it's more difficult, of course: when the film goes public domain, anyone can sell copies of it. The profitability of the movie is then rather limited once copyright lapses. Copyright could be re-asserted by creating a new version of the work, but that's about it. (for instance, suppose "Star Wars" had fallen into public domain by 1997: the "Special Editions" would contain the original film, of course, but would constitute a new work based upon it - meaning that if the audience wants the special edition rather than the original, the copyright control is effectively extended... though nothing prevents someone else from making their own "Special Edition" in this scenario...) Alternately, remakes, sequels, etc. could be made - since again, other people could do this as well, the creators would have to distinguish their works somehow - name-dropping (getting the original cast and writers back, or getting their endorsements, and making this known) would be one way, simply making a better film would be another.

    The recurring theme in either case, however, is this: During the copyright period you get exclusivity that increases your profits. Afterwards, you have to keep working if you want to keep getting paid. :) I don't think that's unreasonable. In this way, artists either must continue making new works, or be creative enough in how they milk their existing works that, copyright or not, people still want their version.

    There's nothing inherently "right" about the current length of copyright - it currently gives the creator enough exclusivity to give them a lifetime of profit from a single work, to maintain exclusivity through three generations worth of audience. That's enough time for a work to be not only a major hit, but a major cultural phenomenon - combining that kind of span with exclusivity gives the creator a lot of power - too much, perhaps.
  • by Haeleth (414428) on Monday May 21, 2007 @02:44PM (#19212239) Journal

    The problem is, it's somewhat socialist to prevent someone from profiting on their work indefinitely. This goes against our free market ideologies.
    I'd say it's the other way round. What, exactly, is "capitalist" about government-imposed monopolies? How, exactly, does arbitrarily restricting what goods people are allowed to produce and sell fit into the "free market"?

    It's not even as though a work entering the public domain, even after a mere seven years, would stop its creators from profiting from it! They could carry on selling it, and people would carry on buying it, because people are as loyal to brands as they are to price. Has Coca-Cola stopped being profitable, even though cheaper brands of carbonated sugar-water are available?

    And if they wanted more guaranteed profit, they could, uh, work for it. For example, only Disney would be able to record new commentary tracks from people who worked on the old film (which, being new, would then be covered by that limited copyright once more). Only Disney would be able to pull new footage out of their unpublished archives (assuming limited copyright was timed from first publication, which seems reasonable). Heck, assuming trademark law remained in force, you could even reasonably propose that only Disney would be able to use the original name for the film, and other distributors would have to change the title screen and so forth accordingly - the key thing being, after all, not that people could watch Mickey Mouse for free, but that the work itself could be used in new creative endeavours.

    Sadly, it seems Disney et al. are more interested in destructive solutions, lobbying for ever-more-draconian punishments for the very people who love their work the most, than in constructive solutions, exploring creative possibilities for monetising entertainment in a digital age. Let's hope they come to their senses soon.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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