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Doctorow On Copyright Reform & Culture 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the part-and-parcel dept.
super-papa sends us to Locus Magazine for an article by Cory Doctorow discussing the conflicts between copyright law and modern culture, and arguing against the perception that copying media is still unusual. Quoting: "Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant. Clip a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity, it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement. There's a word for all the stuff we do with creative works — all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture."
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Doctorow On Copyright Reform & Culture

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  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:42PM (#25685001) Homepage

    With copyright out of the way, it might not take $50 million to make a "blockbuster" movie.

    How do you figure? Are actors going to start working for free? Will the camera and lighting equipment stop being so expensive? Are the racks and racks of servers they use to generate the CGI going to just appear out nowhere? Are the CGI guys going to start donating their time? Are they going to magically "duplicate" the props, instead of renting or buying them?

    Without copyright they might have an easier time picking the sound track, but very rarely is that a large percentage of the budget.

    If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay because it would be impossible to make money from them.

  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:02AM (#25685141)

    "who can't act to save William Shatner's life"

    That's not can't, it's won't. The only line I ever had in a film was "Rodger, We just want.. yer Brainzzzz!", but for Shatner, I could have flubbed the take.

    (Yes, I've played a zombie, in a 70's indy film that actually got released, although I don't think it ever made back its costs.).

  • Don't be silly (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nick Ives (317) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:20AM (#25685267)

    Seriously. Those recordings of classical music are copyrighted in exactly the same way as recordings of pop music are! It's only the copyright on the composition that's run out.

    You wouldn't get a symphony orchestra putting out CDs if we didn't have copyright. The only way for them to make money would be live performances which would mean they would only put out recordings insofar as they drove people to turn up at live events, it'd just be advertisements.

  • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:53AM (#25685409) Journal

    If we had a world without copyright, then you could say goodbye to mass media as we know it. All the book companies would dry up tomorrow. As would the music studios and the movie companies.

    Instead we'd live in a world where content is created and paid for:
    * by the creators who do it because they love it. E.g. Star Trek: New Voyages. [startreknewvoyages.com]
    * Those who refuse to create unless paid up front through donations. E.g. The Guild [watchtheguild.com]
    * People who use their creation as an advertisement for hard to reproduce goods such as t-shirts. E.g. Questionable Content [questionablecontent.net]
    * People who perform live such as in concerts or theatres.

    In fact I think if we lost copyright we'd completely lose the movie theatre (whose experience is now up shit creek) and would see a boom in live theatre. I think we could stand a chance where we live in a world that has Star Trek episodes performed in theatres rather then on televisions.

    The draw would become seeing it in person, as well as getting the story. These groups would also film a closed session and put it on the internet for free after a week or two as a form of advertisement.

    In such a world only a very few would be able to afford to live off the fruits of their labour.

  • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:07AM (#25685715)
    "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

    Written by Guthrie in the late 1930s on a songbook distributed to listeners of his L.A. radio show "Woody and Lefty Lou" who wanted the words to his recordings.

  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:2, Informative)

    by sayfawa (1099071) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:14AM (#25685743)
    Hmm. Maybe he has different books under different licenses, but the books that I have on my hard drive (see Little Brother, for example) are under CC version 3.0 and say explicitly that you are free:

    to Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work

    to Remix - to adapt the work

    There are some conditions, like the redistribution has to be non-commercial (which is waved for certain countries) but he certainly gives the right to make derivative versions.

    Also, I only skimmed the article, but I didn't see anywhere where he said he was completely against copyright, it just sounded like he really doesn't like the way copyright law is right now. Just like how some people would prefer that software licenses were all GPL, instead of doing away with them altogether.
  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:25AM (#25685777)
    Apparently [wikipedia.org],they made more money off this than the download sales of all their other albums combined. And, even after giving it away for free, the CD release was one of their best selling albums.
  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Informative)

    by zoeblade (600058) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @07:38AM (#25686651) Homepage

    If you want to pay some people money before they make a film, so that it can be released under a creative commons license, then go ahead [aswarmofangels.com]. Such a project already exists.

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