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Copyright Should Encourage Derivative Works 136

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the greed-is-a-powerful-drug dept.
Techdirt has an interesting look at copyright and the idea that an author is the originator of a new work. Instead, the piece suggests that all works are in some way based on the works of others (even our own copyright law), and the system should be much more encouraging of "remixing" work into new, unique experiences. "Friedman also points back to another recent post where he discusses the nature of content creation, based on a blog post by Rene Kita. In it, she points out that remixing and creating through collaboration and building on the works of others has always been the norm. It's what we do naturally. It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music — which was limited to just those with the machinery and capital to do it, that copyright was suddenly brought out to 'protect' such things."
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Copyright Should Encourage Derivative Works

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  • Remixes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:47PM (#28574441) Journal

    It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music -- which was limited to just those with the machinery and capital to do it, that copyright was suddenly brought out to "protect" such things."

    Which actually brings me to ask an interesting question; I've always liked remixes of songs and find they're great listening if you like the original song aswell, and sometimes even if you dont. But how do they handle the copyright issues with labels? And how do those professional remixes create them anyways, do they get all the different tracks from labels or what?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps we need to add something that is anathema to most US copyright exercisers, namely mandatory licensing. If you want to create a derivative work, you need to give a percentage of x% of the value based on the x% derivation. Note, it is a portion of the percentage, not equal to the percentage derivation itself. And, this may be only if the parties do not agree to a reasonable royalty on their own.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WCLPeter (202497)

        If you want to create a derivative work, you need to give a percentage of x% of the value based on the x% derivation.

        Yes, but how do you determine what the derivative percentage is for a work I've used? Suppose I want to make a Star Trek film? I don't use any of the original characters, I create my own ship, my own crew, even my own sector of space for them to explore. I'd only be using the Star Trek backdrop because its familiar, I'm a Star Trek geek, and I feel there are plenty of quality stories still left to be told in that universe.

        How much Trek did I use to create my derivative work? I won't be able to tell you,

    • Re:Remixes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:25PM (#28574741) Homepage Journal

      I'm not so much into music, as I am into books. Over several years, I read almost all of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books. I'm sure I missed some, but I read a LOT. Bradley's Darkover books, especially, inspired a huge fan club. Not only did Bradley tolerate, but she ENCOURAGED new authors to explore her Darkover universe. I would hate to count, but there are probably 5 or more published books about Bradley's Darkover than she ever published.

      If I recall correctly, all of those derivative works pay tribute to Bradley, somewhere within the pages. To my knowledge, Bradley never was paid a cent on any of those derivative works. Bradley DID BENEFIT from them, in that they expanded her sphere of admirers, who in turn bought more of her original works.

      This is the correct and proper way for copyright to work, regarding derivative works. Pay homage to the master who showed you the way, but you really owe him nothing more. Just like education - teachers teach to earn a living, but they HOPE that one or more of their students surpasses them. If/when a student does surpass his/her teachers, he isn't required to come back and pay them again for teaching him so well.

      • Re:Remixes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:59PM (#28576685) Homepage Journal

        MZB's name was on the cover of all the Darkover books published during her lifetime, IIRC; it's a pretty fair bet that she made at least as much money off the anthologies as the individual authors did. Generally the way it works with anthologies is that the authors get a fixed payment, and the editor gets a (small) advance and the royalties.

        You're right, of course, that she encouraged both fanfic and the "official" stories written for the anthologies ... until she didn't, because (apparently, and this is all second- or third-hand information) some nutcase submitted a story for one of the anthologies, got a rejection slip, and then threatened to sue when some idea vaguely similar to the story appeared in one of MZB's own novels a few years later. At that point she felt she had no choice but to shut down the anthology line, and although she didn't tell people to stop writing fanfic, she was no longer able to give it her blessing. And I can't blame her. This isn't the usual pattern of a copyright holder being overly aggressive; it's about someone who had always been very generous with her copyrights defending herself against vicious and unwarranted attack.

        Which is a damned shame, because some of the anthology stories -- and the fanfic, for that matter -- were very very good, and helped launch the careers of some authors who are well-recognized names today. MZB's free-and-easy attitude also, no doubt, had a lot to do with the enduring popularity of the series. But I'm really not sure what else she could have done.

        • by Draek (916851)

          Which is why I hate it when people like me suggest laxer copyright laws, and somebody replies "but you can already give up some of your rights in the license itself, don't force others to give up theirs". Yeah, you can act nice all you want but inevitably some idiot will come, take advantage of you and your work and all with the law on his side.

          What should've happened is that a law should've been passed stating that only actual text can be copyrighted, not character names or plot ideas, thereby removing any

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EEBaum (520514)
      IIRC, the labels handle all the busywork for the artists on this. Lawyers and accountants call lawyers and accountants, hammer out agreements, establish a rapport over the years. Might even be some even-trades going on (you can use X of ours if we can use Y of yours). Works all right if you're signed with a label. Sucks majorly for indie artists who can't afford the fees demanded and/or don't have corresponding in-demand works to trade access for, assuming the labels will give them the time of day at al
    • by shmlco (594907)

      "It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music...."

      Since copyright over written materials originated in Britain in 1710, that's 299 years, or nearly THREE centuries ago.

      But the article makes it seem like it's just something we created for the hell of it a decade or so ago.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Count Fenring (669457)

        I was just preparing to burst in on this scene like the Kool-Aid man, spilling delicious grape-flavored knowledge all over the floor.

        Then, you beat me to it.

        My shame is great, and can be cleansed only in blood. Good bye.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        When you consider that Hollywood is still making movies out of 3500 year old material,
        the characterization that you are complaining about is actually rather reasonable and
        accurate. In terms of MORAL ideas, a few centuries really isn't terribly significant.

        • by shmlco (594907)

          "In terms of MORAL ideas, a few centuries really isn't terribly significant."

          Ah. So we in the US should roll back the declaration of independence, the constitution, the bill of rights, civil rights, a woman's right to vote, emancipation, freedom from segregation, and all of those other silly moral ideas, simply because they occurred within the last few centuries? They're "new", so they don't count?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Typically when a song is remixed or sampled, the copyright holders have given permission and are getting royalties.

      • by OECD (639690)

        Typically when a song is remixed or sampled, the copyright holders have given permission and are getting royalties.

        I don't have figures, but no, not for the notable ones at least.

        The artists and marketing guys know and encourage remixing, but it's not normally a contract situation. That often leads to conflicts with the RIAA in their 'super SWAT team' form. See this [boycott-riaa.com] for example.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Groups that would immediately support this:

      Rappers (sampling)
      Video bloggers/YouTube users (anime music videos, montages, etc.)
      Pencil and Paper roleplayers (look at the dearth of systems that exist already!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DrSuperbo (1590935)
      Remix Releases 101 Let's say artist A makes a track, and artist B wants to remix it. B will most likely create a remix from just the CD audio of A's track, or from acapella tracks (only the vocal from the original song - often obtained from studio contacts or second hand from the same source, but many hip-hop and electronic acts make acapellas freely available, see the Beastie Boys, or even release them as B-sides, see Eminem) and send it to A's label, perhaps along with a description of what B would do g
    • by bogjobber (880402)

      Most remixes are done with the finished recordings (that's how the culture started), but it's much easier if you have the masters or at least the instrumental/a capella tracks. Most hip hop singles and a lot of other stuff is released on 12" vinyl with instrumental and a capella versions of the songs. There are also certain dark corners of the internet where you can find these things. I imagine most "professional" recordings use the actual master tracks, but I guess it would depend on who controlled the

  • Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:53PM (#28574477)

    Just look at software. How many developers learn to code without looking at examples? And why does good documentation contain lots of those?

    Face it: once you've seen some code, from that point on everything you write can be considered a remix of all those, coupled with your own ideas.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      I wouldn't call code written after reading examples a derivative work of those examples. Examples are a thing at the technical level, equivalent to knowing how to use brushes and paint to create a painting. Every painting would then be a derivative work of the materials used to create it, or the publications describing various painting techniques, and that's not what a derivative work should mean. If you copy and paste code from examples your program may still be useful but I doubt it will conquer the world

      • by sjames (1099)

        It wouldn't be legally a derivative work, but it is in some sense derived from all of those things. Everything anyone creates is somehow derived from all that went before. None of the great artists would have produced any of their works had they been raised by wolves in ignorance of human society.

        Computers are even moreso. Without those who went before, there would be no computers and no concept of computing to build from. At the same time, the pioneers of the field didn't just dream the whole thing up in a

    • Your post contains words. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam contains words.

      Your post is therefore a remix of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

  • No really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:57PM (#28574511)
    You only need to look at, well anything to see that everything is a derivative work of another thing. That was the point of public domain. Almost all of Shakespeare's work references heavily or is based on another work. Heck, music, movies, etc. Are all based on each other, anyone could tell you that. This is why it is very important to have a limited copyright. Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.
    • by jsmiith (1274436)
      Which is terrible because? Unless they make some serious improvements or new features, it wouldn't make a difference. No one would even look at a closed source copy of an open source project.
    • Re:No really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Winckle (870180) <[ku.oc.elkcniw] [ta] [kram]> on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:02PM (#28574561) Homepage

      Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.

      Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

      • Re:No really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:06PM (#28574589)
        I don't think it really helps the industry as a whole though. Consider if Shakespeare wasn't allowed to adapt key pieces from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet into Romeo and Juliet (and if both had been around using the US copyright system, he wouldn't have). Both were part of the same industry (literature and plays), yet I don't think that The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet would have made as much of money and helped the industry compared to Romeo and Juliet. It sure helps a few individuals, but not the industry.
        • by Jurily (900488)

          Both were part of the same industry (literature and plays)

          Why is everything considered "industry" nowadays?

      • by schon (31600)

        Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

        I would say that it helps industry in the short term, but harms it in the long term.

      • Re:No really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:56PM (#28575033)

        It helps a few major players, but harms industry on the whole. The same is true for other creative arts. The proponents of restrictive IP rights usually misrepresent the good of those few best known players as the good of the industry, but the reality is that prosperity lies in plurality and "lawless free-for-all", not exclusive deals.

      • by ChoboMog (917656)

        Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.

        Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

        If anything it only helps monopolies and established business models while actually harming both industry (in general) and culture. There is plenty of evidence that industry can flourish where innovation (ie derivative works) are encouraged. A ~30 year duration of copyright strikes a balance between this innovation and the exclusive rights of the original creator which allow them to profit from their work.

      • No, it helps a subset of the industry, to a limited degree. There have been three studies I can think of (one from Harvard, one from MIT, and the Gowers' Report by the British Government) that show that it doesn't help the entire industry. Unfortunately, the part of the industry it does help spends a significant proportion of their money on lobbying.
    • by hitmark (640295)

      Even that long can be insane for some parts of whats covered by copyright today...

      Thats another problem, one have taken what was a law limited to books, and the act of reproducing them using a printing press, and applied it verbatim to such different media as recorded musica and software code.

  • by rm999 (775449) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:08PM (#28574607)

    Maybe I misunderstand what they are saying, but if everything is copied or derived from something else, then I don't see the issue. Want a superhero comic? Just make your own character and Universe that copies the same thing Batman did. There is nothing stopping this type of "innovation".

    But I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission. A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines. I think weakening what a copyright means can dilute people's creativity in this way.

    I personally license everything artistic I do under a creative commons license because I am not personally vested in my works. But I know some people devote their lives to their creations, and I know they would not want to see their works getting lost in a pool of comic strips with Calvin peeing on stuff or Billy from Family Circus telling his mom to do obscene things with that carrot on the table.

    • I know they would not want to see their works getting lost in a pool of comic strips with Calvin peeing on stuff or Billy from Family Circus telling his mom to do obscene things with that carrot on the table.

      Too bad. You can't put the light back into the lamp. That would be like an architect telling me I can't put addition onto my house, or paint it a different color, or prohibiting me from opening a bordello.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Yes, but do we have to encourage the lowest common denominator?

        If the architect owns your house, then damn right he can say you cannot put an addition on it. If you own it, that is a different matter.

        Same thing with Calvin. If nobody "owns" the Calvin character, then it is all fair game. Today, someone "owns" the Calvin character so that use isn't allowed. When that ownership expires, whenever that might be, then we can have Calvin peeing on stuff and Billy's Mom doing whatever with that carrot. I'd pe

        • by Golddess (1361003)

          When that ownership expires [...] then we can have Calvin peeing on stuff

          Where've you been for the last 20 or so years? :P [google.com]
          (warning, as my search term was simply "calvin peeing", I suspect it is possible that someone else's search results may be NSFW)

          Once that door is open and the "ownership" and control is gone, well then it is open season and you can expect the basest sort of stuff to start appearing.

          Perhaps not the best example, as the peeing stickers are completely out of character for Calvin, but has it really hurt Calvin and Hobbes to have such ripoffs?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission.

      Explain again why I need "permission" to create something? If I use someone else's backstory, it doesn't lessen the amount of creativity I'm putting into my own creation.

      A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines. I think weakening what a copyright means can dilute people's creativity in this way.

      That seems like a non-sequitur to me. If I write a story about "Flying-mouse-male-offspring", how exactly does that "dilute" the creativity of someone else?

    • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:44PM (#28574937)

      But I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission.

      Sorry but this is the purest form of assholery enabled by copyright.

      If someone random releases a Batman comic, then there are three possible outcomes:
      1. It sucks. Nobody cares, the original author does not lose anything. Publisher is annoyed because somebody is using "their" franchise, but since people tend to forget about shitty comics they doesn't care much.
      2. It is acceptable. Some people will buy and enjoy it, but most probably won't consider it canon. The original author is unaffected. Publisher is annoyed because they think that money should belong to them.
      3. It is absolutely great. Readers have a great comic, the "unauthorized" artist has a lot of money. The original artist might have a reduced ability to sell his future works if they aren't as good as the "unauthorized" ones, but most probably his earlier works will sell better because of increased popularity of Batman in general. Publisher gnaws his arms off because they did not make any money from the hit.

      Conclusion: this use of copyright does not benefit the authors or the readers in the slightest. They only benefit the publishers, who can turn the creative arts into a money farm. The effect is a cultural land grab that stifles creativity, and prevents a great many works from being created because they would not be authorized. For example, a movie about the Stalinist terror using Disney characters could become a cultural milestone, and yet there is no chance of that ever being authorized.

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Sorry to reply to myself: The things you want to prevent already happen with games, movies, etc. remade by studios that have no connection to the original authors. Examples: Fallout 3, Homeworld Cataclysm, many others. In fact it only ensures that the idea is not exploited by the person who has the best vision, but by whoever gets picked by the management, which usually have artistic values high up their ass and care mostly about profits.

        • Fallout 3's IP was bought by bethesda from a faltering Interplay.

          Homeworld's IP is owned by Sierra, who published both Cataclysm and the original. Cataclysm was developed by Barking Dog, while the original was developed by Relic.

          The difference would be if Barking Dog saw the concept that Relic did, and felt like making a better version. Without permission from the IP holder (Sierra).

          • by Tweenk (1274968)

            You prove my point: who has the right to create depends on the flow of money and whim of higher ups rather than who has the vision. Probably you can come up with better examples because I'm not that into gaming.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Even moreso with movies. It can't be a simple coincidence that movies tend to come out in groups. They take over a year to produce. 2 movies where the protagonists deal with a surprise volcano? 2 movies where an asteroid is about to strike the earth? etc. Sometimes the me-too movie comes out first.

      • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:23PM (#28575233) Homepage

        You missed the real case.

        1a. It sucks. People buying it decide that ALL "Batman" stuff sucks. Nobody gets any money for stuff that sucks.

        This is the problem unless you envision a world where everyone hears about everything on an equal basis. Sorry, nobody is that well informed, no matter how much time they spend on the Internet looking around and following links.

        It is perfectly possible to destroy a "brand" with inferior merchandise, just as long as the inferior crap is put in front of people. This is what the battle for "counterfit" goods is all about and "derivative works" as well. If I can take over any brand and distribute my own version of it it cannot help the original brand much. It may not hurt it, or it can destroy it.

        Here is another concept of "unauthorized" works. How about a film about the secret passions of Pol Pot enacted with nothing but Disney characters. I'll bit Minny Mouse would look real cute in the gangbang scene. Do you believe this would encourage more parents to bring their children to the Disney store? Why would you assume that this wouldn't happen?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Cool. That's why trademarks exist.
          • MOD parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mdmkolbe (944892) on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:25PM (#28576105)

            Artistic characters should only be protected by trademark. Artistic works which are covered by copyright should only include actual works (e.g. Steamboat Willie) and not abstractions of those works (e.g. the Mickey Mouse character). Somewhere in between there is a gray area between paraphrase (probably should be protected by copyright) and summary (shouldn't be restricted by copyright).

            • by tepples (727027)

              Artistic characters should only be protected by trademark.

              Trademarks last even longer than copyright. Did you intend for trademarks on characters in work Foo to block derivative works of Foo even after expiry of the copyright in foo? At least in the USA, trademarks can't be used to extend copyright past 95 years. Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox.

              • by mdmkolbe (944892)

                After reading about Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox, I am inclined to change my mind and agree with you that trademark shouldn't be able to be used as a back-door on copyright. However, I still think the rules governing use of someone's actual works (i.e. copyright) should be different than the rules governing use of someone's abstract works.

                When dealing with abstract works the simple fact of using someone's work shouldn't be enough to constitute infringement as is the case with copyright. It should requi

        • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:51PM (#28575455)

          1a. It sucks. People buying it decide that ALL "Batman" stuff sucks. Nobody gets any money for stuff that sucks.

          There is another mechanism to prevent that, and which is generally agreed upon as positive: trademarks. You are conflating trademarks with derivative works. You can register a trademark for the "leading" Batman comic (e.g. a distinct graphical symbol.. no idea what that could be) to distinguish it from those from competing authors, and only license it to works you approve of. This way you have a way of extracting some revenue from unrelated authors as well as having some grip on what is considered canon, but at the same you can't be an asshole and prevent others from publishing their work at all.

          Here is another concept of "unauthorized" works. How about a film about the secret passions of Pol Pot enacted with nothing but Disney characters.

          Except it wouldn't be marketed as a Disney movie. You might find the idea offensive, but there will be people who won't, and I see no reason to prevent them from making such a movie, as long as they don't misrepresent what it is about (which is an entirely different problem unrelated to copyright).

          When an actor stars in a horror it does not suddenly make a family comedy in which he also appeared unacceptable to the kids. I don't know why it shouldn't be the same with cartoon characters.

        • by sjames (1099)

          The key is to brand the creator, not the creation. As long as the really bad fanart can't claim to be by the original author, it's crappiness will only increase people's belief that they should seek out the 'authentic' Batman. A zillion schoolkids draw really terrible fanart every day.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:48PM (#28575433) Journal

        The problem here is more closely related to trademark law than copyright. Imagine you create a new Batman film. You spend a massive amount of money advertising it. Then someone starts selling a comic book using the same characters that isn't very good. Two things will happen here. Firstly, people will buy it because they've seen your adverts and think it will be good. Secondly, they will be disappointed by the story and decide not to go and see the film.

        If you make sure that 'unauthorised' is written very clearly on the cover, I don't see this being a problem, but reusing someone else's setting and characters generally implies some form of endorsement.

        • by Tweenk (1274968)

          In the case you describe the problem lies with the publisher not making their trademark distinct enough. It should be obvious the work is not related to the movie by the absence of a trademark associated with the movie, while adding a word "unauthorized" on the cover would be unfair to its author.

          If we were in a world with very limited copyrights, I'm guessing that the emphasis on trademarks in advertising of movies, books, etc. would be much stronger than now, and I doubt the things you describe would happ

          • adding a word "unauthorized" on the cover would be unfair to its author.

            Since when was the truth unfair?

        • by sjames (1099)

          That can be handled without copyright and similarly to trademark law (but not using tradmark as it is currently implemented). There's nothing wong with the basic idea that you cannot create confusion amongst the public. That is the bad comic book author cannot claim thet HE invented Batman nor that his comic is created by the creator if the film. So long as both are made clear to the public, it shouldn't be a problem.We're all quite familiar with the inevitable crappy me-toos that follow any successful anyt

      • Yeah, I don't really see why the creator of Batman should be able to prevent other people from writing other Batman stories. I mean, I can understand why the creator would want that level of control, but I don't particularly see why we should agree to give it to him. If you write a story, it makes some sense to me to grant you a certain level of ownership over that particular story. However, it doesn't make sense to grant you ownership of the ideas and concepts that are present in your story, to give own

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gnupun (752725)

      A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines.

      You nailed it. How many people on YouTube watch Naruto AMVs (just remixed scenes from the anime with their favorite song)? Just a few, because the videos are crap and the remixer is just a hack who lacks the creativity and skill required by true artists. If every wannabe was allowed to create and distribute their own Batman, Superman, Naruto etc. the video content will be the same crap quality as YouTube

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:37PM (#28575351) Homepage

        If you force copyright holders to allow derived works, market will be flooded with so many crap Batman comics and movies, nobody will associate Batman with good shows.

        That's not really correct. All that might happen would be that people wouldn't assume that merely because it was a work about Batman that it was good. Instead, they would look to the author of the particular work. You can see an example of this with classic fairy tales. They're in the public domain, and anyone can publish copies of them or make derivative works based on them. A version of Cinderella by Disney might be good, while a version by Jerry Lewis might be pretty crappy. Rather than just go to anything about the character, the audience will have to check to see which version it is. This is not a tremendous burden.

        When you demand free stuff, this is the quality you get.

        It is inappropriate for copyright law or policy to care about quality. The government shouldn't be the arbiters of taste for everyone. Copyright should look to quantity instead, by encouraging the creation of as many original and derivative works as possible. Given that 90% of everything is crap, more of everything is the only sure way to get more of the good stuff. Since no one is forcing you, or anyone else, to watch bad things, it's easy to ignore it.

        The author used his own time and skill to create a work for your enjoyment. He does not owe you any work unless he is your slave.

        I agree completely.

        Therefore, he has the right to charge a reasonable price for his work for his own personal benefit.

        Provided that you mean he has a right in transactions in which he is a participant, and given that markets tend to dictate prices (would you pay as much for a DVD of Gigli as you would of Citizen Kane?), I'd agree with that too.

        But copyright isn't about either of those things. Even without copyright, both of those would still hold true.

        What copyright does is it prohibits third parties from making copies of the work, distributing them, etc., instead allowing the copyright holder to monopolize the market for the work, so that he can charge above-market prices, since for some reason copyright proponents don't ever think that the market price is ever "reasonable." There's certainly no natural right to a monopoly. It might be sensible to give such a right to a copyright holder, but given that it means a loss of freedom for everyone else, and having to suffer monopoly pricing, there really ought to be a good reason. The mere fact that the author created the work is not a good reason.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Batman is a pisspoor example of this "problem" anyways. Set up your PVR to
          record all things "Batman" and you will end up with a very wide array of
          completely sanctioned works. You will find uneven quality levels and varying
          approaches to the material. You probably wouldn't see any more diversity in
          quality or approach to the material if completely separate non-authorized
          entities were interpreting the material.

          The original publisher is going to abuse the work as a cash cow to the extent
          that it thinks it can. "W

  • Queue the trolls spewing bullshit about copyright being just fine as it is, blah blah blah.

    And yes, I meant queue.

  • There is virtually nothing wrong with our copyright law... that our founding fathers wrote for us. It hasn't been until recently, when we demanded that it was everyone else's responsibility to take care of us, that the corporations stepped in and suddenly everything looks grim for us. Who would'a thought that giving up our responsibility (and therefore freedom) would lead us to a more tyrannical state?

    If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted

    • by H0p313ss (811249) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#28574841)

      If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted by big government.)

      Odd perspective... I was thinking that it was more of an indication of the rejection of a government by the corporations, of the corporations, for the corporations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well, no one perspective is the entire picture. Some people voted for him because he wasn't Bush. A lot of people also voted for him because he was saying that he'd enforce all these social programs. I'm all for social programs, but they have to be social programs that work. Almost nothing the government does actually works. (Look at social security, which is supposed to be a holding program. If it's only a holding program, why isn't there any money?)

        I don't wan

        • "I also don't want to live in a country with big government. Or big corporations, which can harness enough economic power to be their own big governments."

          Welcome to the real world, throughout history those who governed had the most military/economic power in society. You can't get away from institutions of power that try to protect themselves and 'their interests'.

    • If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted by big government.)

      Are you one of those people that present Europe as some kind of hell zone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)

      There is virtually nothing wrong with our copyright law... that our founding fathers wrote for us

      The geek has no sense of history.

      When English authors could be easily and safely pirated there was little chance for an American to make it into print.

      Writers at Emerson's level had to beg friends for the money to self-publish.

      That's possible for the social and economic elite - an Adams or a Parkman - but much harder for the middle or lower class.

      Here is a simple test: "I have a mule, her name is Sal. Fifteen

  • Um, no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    George Lucas okayed derivative works as long as anyone didn't profit off of it. That's one person controlling HIS copyrights. That's his CHOICE.

    For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

    • Re:Um, no. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#28574843) Homepage Journal

      It is not properly up to George Lucas to decide that people may or may not profit from such derivative works. All that is required, in a sane world, is that the author acknowledge Lucas as a source of ideas, that the author not plegiarize (copy Lucas' work, then claim to have authored it), and that the new work actually contain substantial new material. If the derivative work is any good, people will want it. If it is trash, people aren't going to bother with it.

      Kinda funny how that works. I mean, how many people are going to watch a completely obvious Starwars ripoff that contributes little or nothing to the storyline of the universe? It would be a total financial loss for the idiot who tried it.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Problem is, with the Star Wars example, the name is everything. The content? Who cares. People pay their money to see Star Wars stuff and it if is some crappy rip-off, well, they paid, didn't they?

        And if it gives all Star Wars material a bad name, well that isn't the rip-off artist's problem, now is it?

        • Hmmmm. If the authors producers directors and executive people actually use the "star wars" name in their work, then they have opened themselves up to litigation. Assuming, of course, that the copyright is still in effect when that happens.

          Not actually using the name, but giving Lucas credit for ideas is more what I had in mind. They can make derivative works which are very obviously related to Lucas' universe, but they can't just lift characters, names, or the star wars brand. That, IMHO, would constit

      • by Draek (916851)

        Kinda funny how that works. I mean, how many people are going to watch a completely obvious Starwars ripoff that contributes little or nothing to the storyline of the universe? It would be a total financial loss for the idiot who tried it.

        Last I heard, Eragon was even getting a sequel. It certainly did for the books, at least.

        • Well - Eragon wasn't a complete ripoff of star wars, as some people claim. There are elements of a lot of things in Eragon, including Tolkein. I can't point to any single part of the book, and say that it's original - but all the parts are put together in an original and entertaining way.

          I'm not rushing out to see the movies, but the books entertained me for several hours. ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

      No, it's a government granted PRIVILEGE. Hopefully, it will be revoked some day. Even your copyrights are derivative works with little more than personal anecdotes.

    • Your 'novels' are the sum of your experience built upon millennia of human knowledge. To take an idea and then claim its yours and no one else's is arrogance at its finest. No art is made from the void.

    • by Omestes (471991)

      For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

      So we can do whatever we want with it after you die? There is no you anymore, so your choice is irrelevant. What happens when you give it to someone else, then it is no longer yours and you have no choice.

      In my dream world copyright would last for 10 years, life with extension, and would be completely nontransferable. Yes, your children and shareholders will have to get a job, just like the rest of us

    • i would argue that star wars has become so much a part of public culture that everybody should be able to do what they want with it. it is now part of our shared culture.
  • I wrote something related to this topic back in February, more from the point of view of a solution framework rather than the cultural root of problem (which I agree with). I think prevailing attitudes are stagnating any movement forward to a digital economy... from a developer point of view I abhor the idea of any else touching my code, but I publicly acknowledge the necessity of it :) http://langhornewollamshram.blogspot.com/2009/02/information-age-bottleneck-part-ii.html [blogspot.com]
  • Derivative works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:56PM (#28575037) Homepage

    In it, she points out that remixing and creating through collaboration and building on the works of others has always been the norm. It's what we do naturally.

    AFAICT, the real point of talking about "derivative works" with copyright is just to close a loophole where someone might say, "Oh, I don't have the right to distribute your work? Well no problem, this isn't your work. I changed 5 words in the novel, which makes it a different work. This new work is mine."

    Since then, some people have taken it to mean that all new copyrighted works should be 100% original, not inspired by anything, and not borrowing from anyone's past work. But that's impossible.

    • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:39PM (#28575367)

      Copyright is complicated.

      If I change 5 words in somebody else's book and sign it with my name, it's plagarism.
      If I change 5 words and leave the original author's name on it, it's an unauthorized edition.
      If I rewrite a few chapters and sign it with both names, it's a collaboration.
      If I rewrite a few chapters and sign it with my name only, it's a derivative work.
      If I take the idea and characters and write an unrelated story, it's still a derivative work but might not be.
      If I reuse random sentences from someone else's book in my own unrelated one, it's called sampling.
      If I rewrite someone's book in modern slang, it's called a cover.
      If I reuse the store and characters but set it in modern times, it's called a remake.
      If I take the story, trivialize it in the most intellectually offensive way imaginable and show it to millions of people, with the original author maybe receiving lots of money and maybe not*, it's called a Hollywood movie.

      *) see LOTR fiasco. Not an example of offensive trivializing though.

  • Lemme just copy what you did and then add a clock to it. Done! A derived work. Money please!
  • A white paper on remixing code [limebits.com] was recently released by open-source code-sharing community LimeBits.com [limebits.com].
  • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:17PM (#28575191)

    Consider a form of art unhindered by copyright: dance.

    The age of Internet is also the golden age of dance. Little known or local styles like Melbourne Shuffle gain worldwide recognition. A plurality of others, like the many variants of Jumpstyle, Tecktonik or Hardstep are created, because the elements from many styles can be combined to form a new mix, while the Internet and Youtube in particular allows easy sharing of demos and tutorial videos that allow anyone to learn a particular move they like. Classical styles are becoming more popular as well. Never before in human history was there such a vibrant dance scene. And even though "anybody" can dance, professional dancers still have jobs (see Riverdance, Stomp, any music video).

    There is a lesson to be learned from this.

    • by cil1mia (1165281)

      Consider a form of art unhindered by copyright: dance.

      SSSHHHHH!
      That was the last safe art form!

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      Damn, I just lost my leotard too ...
    • by oldhack (1037484)

      Then consider the case of Michael Jackson. His moon walk elicited countless imitation by hordes of pimply teenagers, inflicting irreparable mental and emotional damages to all exposed to the hordes' douchebaggery.

      Yes, there is a lesson to be had from this.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      Anderson's reference to people who "prefer to buy their music online" carries the faint suggestion that refraining from theft should be considered a mere preference.

      Great troll article.
      Piracy = Theft is a 100% reliable sign of a copyright establishment troll.

  • Makes me think of an old recording, circa the 1980s, of Malvina Reynolds singing "Little Boxes" at a live performance. That's the one that goes "Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky-tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same..." Although she wrote it, it was popularized by Pete Seeger.

    Now, Pete Seeger is always talking about the "folk process" and the continuous process by which folk songs evolve, as singers change and add material. And Pete Seeger himself always, alw

  • The reason, the ONLY reason, why copyright came into existance was to encourage artists to produce and publish art. Until the advent of copyright, the only chance for artists was to keep their manuscripts secret until the very last moment so nobody could publish it first. The copies of a play, used by actors, were closely guarded, many theaters had security personnel whose only task was to ensure that no actor took his copy with him. Operas were practiced at secret locations so nobody could hear the new son

  • ... a system that doesn't accommodate for original works cannot possibly encourage derivative works.

  • I would like to point out that I'm male.
    And thanks for the mention. First time anyone has considered me an authoritative source for anything.

    Yours truly,

    Rene "random ranting blogger" Kita

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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