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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:5, Interesting)

    by maxume (22995) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:39PM (#25684983)

    Yeah, they clearly spent $100 million on copyright clearances alone for Transformers.

    The better argument is that if there is really a market for movies, someone will find a way to finance them, copyright or not (I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together).

  • Simple Cause (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:44PM (#25685013) Homepage Journal

    it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement.

    If voters had a chance to vote on such, the penalties would be much shallower. There are three reasons they are so high: Lobbyists Lobbyists Lobbyists. Biz has too much influence over our politics and I hope the new administration does something about it. We risk not being classified as a democracy.

  • by westlake (615356) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:50PM (#25685047)
    Take 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.
    .

    Your office door exposes the clip to a casual glance by perhaps twenty-five people. There are no limits to re-distribution through your web site.

    And let's be honest here. It isn't the photo of your office door that gets posted to the web. It's a high-res scan of the strip itself.

    The geek takes his prize when he posts an HD rip of The Dark Knight Returns.

    Entry level requirements a Blu-Ray drive and broadband service. Bonus points in platinum if he can score a pre-release screener and be first across the post.

    It is not about money. It is not about Fair Use.

    It is pure ego. Nothing more.

    "I am invincible!" The James Bond flicks got that much right.

    At this level of play, the geek is scaling Mount Everest and not cruising the Kansas plains, and he is lying if he says otherwise.

  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by click2005 (921437) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:00AM (#25685123)

    I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together

    Thats how movies should be financed.

    Let the film companies raise the money for them by getting it from customers... giving money gives you the right to own that movie on whatever formats you choose.
    If the film does well, it shouldn't be hard to raise more for a sequel but if they make it a pile of crap they wont earn as much next time.
    It encourages studios to make good movies, not just churn out whatever remake/special effects shite they think will earn them the most.

    Fund Bourne Film 4.. 10 million shares @ $10 each... all the profit gets split between the shareholders (with a percentage being held to help raise money for Bourne 5?)

  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:02AM (#25685143) Homepage Journal

    Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services.

    The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?

    The kind of talking point you use is the same kind given by pro-P2P people. They repeat such statements often, despite the fact that copying & P2P in themselves are among the least creative thing that can be done.

  • by maxume (22995) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:06AM (#25685169)

    I'll see your "pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years" and raise you a "perfect cost free reproduction for about 10 years".

  • by duguk (589689) <dug AT frag DOT co DOT uk> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:12AM (#25685207) Homepage Journal
    I'll see that, and I raise you a "up until a short time ago, artists used to make most, if not all of their money through concerts".
  • Live by the sword... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:30AM (#25685311) Homepage
    It's a laughable thing that movie studios spend their entire (large) advertising budget making people want to see their movie and then complain when some use any means necessary to see aforementioned movie.

    These people aren't criminals. These are people responding to marketing. Marketing that emphasises seeing the movie. Many times I have seen very successful marketing centering on supporting the artist and experiencing the art.

    I'm not saying that big movie studios can necessarily use that approach, what I am saying is that is that the blame should not be placed solely on the individuals engaged in bypassing copyright. People are essentially indulging themselves in something you made them desire.

    Think of it this way. If I embark on a campaign to have people drive by one specific road to a remote town outside their city, emphasizing excitement at the end of that journey, should I be surprised when the speed limit is broken by some, some take different, easier routes, some fly to the town and some stow away in cars that only legally hold a certain number of people. No. I shouldn't be surprised. Are any of these people really criminals? Doubtful.
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:31AM (#25685317)

    Other laws make all sorts of distinctions based on motives and other conditionals. Often, it's conditionals just like the distinction you are drawing that matter.
            The FBI for example, becomes involved in kidnappings of victims defined as 'of tender age' (usually 12 and under). Many people believe the Lindberg law requires a ransom be sought, or that the victim be transported across state lines. Instead, the law lets the FBI start gathering evidence without either condition, just in case there's a federal crime, and the agency is looking for motives such as ransom or interstate movement for immoral purposes. Some of these motives may make a given kidnapping a federal crime. But, if the FBI doesn't find evidence to support a federal crime, they are supposed to pass the case back to the state agencies, and just provide lab services, database help and such on request.
            Shouldn't copyright laws do something along these lines - make a distinction between organized crime and individual violators, violation for profit and violation for ego-boost? It's not only penalties that don't seem to reflect these distinctions, it's also a question of which agencies become involved. And there are other results that would be affected by making the right distinctions, such as limiting how much taxpayer money should support the forensic processes in trivial cases. That's all what doesn't seem to be happening anymore.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:43AM (#25685365)

    So when DeBeers advertises diamonds it's ok to go out and pull off a diamond heist? I never thought of it that way.

  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Telvin_3d (855514) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:15AM (#25685745)

    Of course you and ten million other people would risk a couple dollars on the next Bourne movie. After all, other people already shouldered the real risk by making the FIRST Bourne movie. And before that otehr people shouldered the risk of publishing the book it was based on. And before that someone took the first risk by publishing Robert Ludlum's first works with no guarantee that anyone other than his mother would ever buy it.

    Real crowd sourced funding like this will never work for any media with a decent budget. It is simply not realistic to convince a million random people to give you $10 to make something they have never heard of before, and that's for a total budget of $10 million, or peanuts in film terms. If something has enough brand recognition to get a million random people to pony up money, then it has enough recognition to make use of simpler sources of funding.

    Now, cheaper distributed distribution and lowered production costs might still make alternate production methods feasible. A company that produces episodic content where you can buy in ahead of time for a 'season' of their work and get some say over what is made, with continued production of any given project based on interest and return? Possible. But it would be a lot of work and big time risky for anyone willing to risk their livelihood on getting it to work.

  • Totally agreed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ravenscroftj (1038040) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @04:04AM (#25686071)
    This is brilliance! I hope this picks up alot of coverage too! I have lots of beliefs about this subject area but couldn't summarize them in a comment so there's my post: http://james-ravenscroft.com/2008/11/08/the-copyfight-response-to-cory-doctorow/ [james-ravenscroft.com]
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nosPam.gmail.com> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @06:45AM (#25686503)

    The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?

    Arguably, a modification of "someone else's work" _is_ "making your own", and can be just as creative as the original.

    Besides, it's not like most "original" works really are - only 7 different story plots, limited number of "nice" sound combinations, etc.

  • Re:BRAVO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:11PM (#25687785) Journal
    But unlike the political system, it's not a monopoly. It doesn't matter if it is dominated by corporate interests as long as other interests can still fund themselves. How much television do you watch a week? 1% of what's produced? 0.01%? If so, why would you care if corporate interests control 80% of it?

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