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Music The Courts Your Rights Online

Newest YouTube User To Fight a Takedown: Lawrence Lessig 154

onehitwonder writes "Lawrence Lessig has teamed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation Music, which recently demanded that YouTube take down a lecture Lessig had posted that features clips from the song 'Lisztomania' by the French band Phoenix (on Liberation Music's label). Liberation claimed copyright infringement as the reason it demanded the takedown, but in his countersuit, Lessig is claiming Liberation's 'overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages,' according to Ars Technica."
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Newest YouTube User To Fight a Takedown: Lawrence Lessig

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  • Stupid comment... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arkh89 ( 2870391 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:02PM (#44660881)

    (Rhetorical question ahead)
    Why do we never hear what the artists, the ones who actually made the song or tune, have to say about this "infringements"?

    • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:5, Informative)

      by dk20 ( 914954 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:08PM (#44660909)
      They did the work "for hire" and don't own the rights, the labels do.
      • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:5, Informative)

        by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:56PM (#44661193) Homepage

        Exactly it. No matter how much effort you put into music, most labels retain copyright over the works. Smaller indie labels don't tend to do this, but the big players all do it.

        Then again, most of these synthetic bands/artists don't write their own music or lyrics, they're just glorified cover bands. Not to say Phoenix is like this, I quite like their music, but I'm not sure how I feel about their label now.

        • by dk20 ( 914954 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:10PM (#44661291)
          Its a really bad and lopsided relationship which hopefully comes to an end in my lifetime, but i'm not optimistic this will happen. Too many players and too much money at stake. "artists" which cant write a song, cant play an instrument, and cant read sheet music.. just pretty faces and autotune earning boatloads of money....
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You're looking in the wrong places. There are lots of real musicians out there, but they're not multi-millionaires (and why should they be?) and their music isn't played on commercial radio stations or popular tv shows. You'll have to go watch them in a small venue like we used to before there was a music industry.

            • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:5, Informative)

              by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:55AM (#44662337) Homepage Journal

              There are a number of musicians who still get screwed over by the major record labels, even if they haven't made their millions. Sometimes all they do is simply play songs perhaps for a wedding or bar mitzvah and then jam in a local park for fun most of the time.... and they still are required to pay fees to ASCAP or other similar "industry groups" even if they are performing original music they wrote themselves.

              Life sucks sometimes, and it is hard to be a musician in America or even most of Europe right now and avoid getting entangled with the music industry at some level.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Seumas ( 6865 )

            It suggests, to me, that musicians are stupid, myopic, and desperate.

            "Gosh, feller! You're gonna make me a super rock star if I sign over all ownership and rights to my music for eternity? Where do I sign?!"

            Writers are in a similar position of being in a profession that everyone wants to be in, having a high rate of competition, having little bargaining power because everyone is so desperate to be published, being in a creative field, and wanting to be famous against all odds . . . and yet they still manage

            • or require that rights to their material return to themselves after a certain period.

              The standard contractual rights end when the book/work goes out of print.

            • by Velex ( 120469 )

              Oh, I don't know. Put together some low-brow supernatural love story bullshit with characters you don't care about, get it on a bestseller list, maybe make it into a triology, get a movie deal, then become rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Ditto for "popular music."

              Doesn't sound like a bad deal to me.

              Hmm, just need to figure out what the public's going to fall all overthemselves for after A Song of Ice and Fire is finished.

              Eh, on the other hand, self-pubilshing seems to be becoming more viable, leading t

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:54PM (#44661755) Journal

        They did the work "for hire" and don't own the rights, the labels do.

        In that case, "intellectual property" doesn't mean a whole lot because the intellect from which the work came into being is no longer a party to the property.

        It's a truly twisted system, being abused by some very powerful people, who didn't create a goddamn thing.

        I don't think that was the original purpose of copyright.

        • who didn't create a goddamn thing.

          They created profit. That's all that matters

        • by dk20 ( 914954 )
          Like almost everything, IP can be bought/sold. Whoever owns the "catalog" owns the rights and this is independent of who created the work. Almost every record label structures things as work done "for hire" to make sure the actual creators never receive the rights. Original purpose or not, this is what it has come down to.
          • Whoever owns the "catalog" owns the rights and this is independent of who created the work.

            Do you know the original purpose of copyright? You should look it up. It will clear up your misunderstanding of what it's supposed to do.

            There's nothing about the original purpose of copyright that includes "protect the endless profit stream of some guy who bought the rights".

      • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:52AM (#44662631) Homepage

        Untrue in France at least (since the original band is French). In France, the original artist of a piece of art *cannot* sell 100% of the rights on the work of art. They retain a minimum of 50%.

        That said, the problem doesn't really change as the label owns 50% of the copyrights and hold the band by the balls anyways.

    • Because most artists have no say.

      • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:28PM (#44661035)

        Sure they do, and they used "their say" to sign a contract.

        Luckily we live in a society where contracts are taken seriously.

        • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:46PM (#44661129) Homepage Journal

          Unless the contract ends up hurting a corporation, and then they just really get thrown out. Ask people who have lost their pensions.

          Seriously... anyone that doesn't understand the practicality of this is being a corporate sycophant. The way that the legal and legislative system is right now corporations wield a HUGE amount of power.

          • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

            companies with pensions have to honor them. its the law. if a company should fail and not be able to pay its pensions there is a government agency that insures them and will replace the money stream such that hte pensioners still get most of their benefit.

            now, they can sell (techinically its not selling though...) them to a management company, such that that other company now takes the risk. legally, the original company is still"honoring" it. but its now handled by this other company. and if THAT company f

            • When that happens, the pensioners generally get a small portion of what they were promised, and there are few, if any, consequences for not properly funding the pension plan. Now, if there's fraud involved, the people committing it might end up in a minimum security prison, but the people who were supposed to get the pension are out of luck.

              Suggesting that the protections in place are sufficient to guarantee that the obligations are met, is disingenuous as the amount the government pays out after taking ove

            • Private pension plans have reached a record level of underfunding. As reported here [], companies in Standard & Poor’s 500 collectively reported that at the end of their most recent fiscal years, their pension plans had obligations of $1.68 trillion and assets of just $1.32 trillion. General Electric's pensions are underfunded by over $20 billion. AT&T, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor, I.B.M. and Lockheed Martin all have pension plans that are underfunded by over $10 billion. The Pension Ben
              • by Teancum ( 67324 )

                They weren't really underfunded. The rules covering pension plans got screwed over in the 1980's when companies were allowed to co-mingle funds from pensions or be able to set unrealistically low minimum requirements and then take the excess. This turned into a corporate merger mania where a "leveraged buy out" became a common term where many companies were purchased explicitly so their pension funds could be taken and used to pay off any loans used to acquire the stock to buy the companies in the first p

                • You don't seem to be saying that pension plans aren't underfunded, but that companies adequately funded their pension plans based on generally accepted guidelines. That may be the case, but it could be argued that those guidelines were inadequate or had so much wiggle room that it permitted companies to underfund their pension plans year after year and still say they were meeting their obligations. Many pension plans have assumed an unrealistic rate of return, which permitted them to contribute less than wa
                  • by Teancum ( 67324 )

                    I am saying that the pension plans once upon a time were more than adequately funded, and furthermore those funds were untouchable and couldn't be spent on other things (like bonuses for CEOs or board members).

                    Unfortunately the U.S. Congress got involved and screwed it up. Congress changed the rules and basically turned all of these pensions into "free money" that could be spent wildly and changed the guidelines. If anything, I would dare say that when these rules changed, this is when CEOs started to hav

        • by Imrik ( 148191 )

          They sign a contract for two albums then the label refuses to release the second one until they sign a contract for more. Since they signed the contract they can't release their music any other way.

    • we did, a while ago, when Lars Ulrich claimed that most young people who had ever heard a Metallica track had downloaded it from a bootleg site.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      because they don't have time to do everything and that is why they sign record company contracts. they are essentially outsourcing a lot of their work.

      most businesses have net profit margins in the 5% to 10% range. just about what a record company contract gives you

      • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:58PM (#44661787)

        Sort of, what you're failing to account for is that the contracts themselves are crooked and the labels don't generally release the sales figures without being sued. For example, the artist pays for the studio time and the record label gets paid for that again on the back end. The label also frequently gets to charge breakages of discs to the artist, and that includes cases where the case of MP3s was dropped when the movers were taking it out of the truck.

    • In this particular case, because the artist is dead. In other cases, we have heard what the artists have to say. You also have to define "made" as more than just the "artist" is involved in making a song or tune.
    • by Guru80 ( 1579277 )
      Easy, the artists are indebted to those that are no better than mafia in less stylish suits. They have a history of signing musicians that see riches but get pennies and no rights to their songs. Their opinion is irrelevant in infringement matters.
    • Because one time, Metallica did that []. As a result, they lost a lot of fans. Now, you might say that Metallica never deserved fans in the first place, but ever since then, no band has wanted to risk it (whether they deserve their fans or not). So they let the RIAA take care of the problem, and say whatever makes their fans happy.
    • Re:Stupid comment... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:22AM (#44662265)

      Artist checking in.

      Pirate my music, its out there to be enjoyed so do it, just don't sell it without asking me first, and please don't make copies of my shirts (The stuff that actually DOES put food on my table).

    • Why do we never hear what the artists, the ones who actually made the song or tune, have to say about this "infringements"?

      Because the artists aren't the PR/legal department. Honestly, you may as well complain that the latest coke advert wasn't written by the CEO of Coca-Cola, or even anyone within the Coca-Cola Corporation, instead being outsourced to *GASP* an advertising agency. If I was a recording artist and I was expected to handle all the copyright stuff and comment on every takedown request, I'd seriously wonder what I was paying my label for...

  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:14PM (#44660951) Journal

    The book is titled "Chef Ramsay's Replicator Wars" It's about how in the future wide spread use of food synthesizers turn meals into intellectual property and people share recipes online illegally to eat. In this future Monsanto genetically modified foods taking over all the crops were, in fact, preemptive copyright infringement claims.

    In the future, criminal organizations poison online food banks with bad data. Many people fear getting food from ill-reputable sources.

    In the future, everyone speaks in motivational English, a sort of ambiguous coaching and slogan infested sales gibberish. The book is narrated from the past so as to not read totally crazy all the time.

    In the future, people are intelligent . They simply no longer reason using language. Words are too slow and have become some sort of status symbol, or like song. Actual discourse occurs by aggregating a collection of media into themes and asking someone to download your "curation;" which if accepted is a near instantaneous dump of ideas into your mindspace. This suggests that, even if an argument isn't coherent, 100 arguments, some yours, some others, some verbal, some not, curated together into a single theme and instantly dumped on demand, gets a point across faster. People no longer care about word efficacy, rather coolness factor or Likes.

    In the future, everyone is on Segways because computers got smaller but not microscopic. The Segway is actually a sleek compact design for a thousand of today's server farms. The Segway acts as a personal Googleplex to interface with all the features of life 3000 (Segways in the future are actually Google Glass that got bigger) Hence their slogan: A Segway for your face.

    In the future, there is the serious problem of "exposure" where a criminal asks you to accept a discourse then, instead, dumps corrupted memories of executions, murders, and sexual abuse into your mind space. This is a serious crime. If not contained it causes widespread psychological problems and degenerates society as a whole. This is why individuals connect to their own personal Googleplexes instead of sharing a centralized one.

    • by sowth ( 748135 )
      Off topic? I don't know. I think the poster's genius just went over the moderator's head.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:15PM (#44660959)

    I had Warner Media try to takedown a video that was a conference/lecture at Duke on Fair Use by an artist that had been sued by U2; all because it contained a song that was at the center of the dispute, which was what that section of the lecture was about. I have rarely had as much fun as handing them their ass simply by pointing out that it was a *lecture*........about Fair Use..... in regards to *that* song. They never tried again.

    • I have rarely had as much fun as handing them their ass simply by pointing out

      FYI, 'pointing out' rarely counts as 'handing someone their ass.'

    • by stox ( 131684 )

      Would that happen to be Negativland? If so, one of the greatest examples of parody and fair use, ever.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      If it's Negativland you're talking about, didn't they already settle that out of court, and allow them to use the song? I recall it being available for download from their website some years ago.

    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

      Unless you got damages, big fucking deal. After being hassled, you were just allowed to do what you should have been able to do in the first place.

  • tldr (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:17PM (#44660973)

    Lawrence Lessig laments Liberation's 'Lisztomania' limitations. Litigation likely.

  • I obviously can't speak for the band Phoenix, but I enjoy their music and based on my personal interpretation of the "spirit" of their work, I find it hard to believe they would have ever endorsed this action. Of course they themselves didn't, it was certainly yet another of these industry lawyers at the ironically-named "Liberation Music" who is responsible. I'm only saying this because I imagine it has to be terribly frustrating for a group of musicians to potentially have their reputation and name
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @08:20PM (#44660995)

    When a li'l old professor made fair use of a small clip of a band's music, maybe giving them free PR in the process, the band's label turned into Big, Bad Bullies and slapped a Big, Legalistic Testosterone-Fueled DMCA Notice to said professor.

    Well. It so happens, that the l'il old professor is an expert in Internet Copyright Law at Harvard Law School. And according to his complaint:

    17. Professor Lessig has been named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries

    So, said professor turned into a Big, Bad Bully and slapped a Big, Legalistic Testosterone-Fueled Civil Complaint Seeking Damages against the band's record label.

    Remember... we're the good guys here!

  • set a precedent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:03PM (#44661229) Homepage Journal

    I do hope they manage to set a precedent with this case and pry open the door to a flood of such awards. even if they're small amounts, it'll at least fool me into believing that maybe the system sometimes works?

  • He clearly forgot to add one of those notes on the YouTube video, like "All rights belong to their respectful owners" or the amazing "Under the copyright act of 1976, this video may stay up (if democracy still exists) as it is for DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY".

    Just search for your favourite artist name + "full album" on YouTube for more gems.

Forty two.