Thursday, February 24, 2011
I myself have partaken in copyright infringement. I did not know at the time I had though. Like I've seen in many of the posts, you order something off the internet and when it gets to you, you find out it's copyrighted material. I "purchased" a clip of video about hybrids to use in a presentation for school. I got an email saying that it was mine to use however I wanted. However, when I put it into the video editing software it had a "watermark" voice that would repeat "this is an illegal copy" when I tried to get my money back the person would not respond.
I can understand how not obeying these laws can be for the "owner." I could imagine it being like playing a video game and beating the level, then someone else comes in and says "I did that" and they get the credit. For some though it helps, for example one of Taylor Swifts singles leaked on to the web early and it actually HELPED sell her new CD.
The movie industry tries to scare people away from selling pirated movies by using ads. The ads that they used to show were very good in my opinion. It compares things to make you realize that pirating is against the law. It definaitly put things in to perspective for me!
Copyright infringement is against the law, however I really don't see everyone who breaks it getting caught. It's something that you just have to deal with. As long as their are rules, their will be people who want to test/break them!
Also just wanted to share this link. It's a website about Lessig.
Today we are in the middle of another "war" against "piracy."
How you might feel as someone wanting to use copyrighted material in a video or other work…
If I thought about using copyrighted material in my personal work, I would (truthfully) just rip it, but only bits n pieces of it. I would get creative with it, as creative commons states. That stupid little C can cause many legal issues, after watching the creative commons video, it felt like we had someone on our side. lol
…and as someone who owns copyrighted material that someone else wants to use in THEIR work. Where do you stand?
I guess in this case, it would only matter to me depending on what that other person is doing with my work. For the most part, I don’t think I’d make a huge deal with lawsuits or anything. If I post or share something online of mine with copyright infringements, I would probably also state that if you want to use my stuff contact me for clear footage. I realize what I post online is all public and there are immense amount of ways to rip my work. I’m all for creativity an sharing just not complete plagiarism.
The internet may be harming copyright owners a bit, but for the most part I don’t think so. Why? Because everything is digital and online now, and privacy/piracy as we’ve discussed before is almost nonexistent. I also feel that if you are going to post your copyrighted video online, than you want people to see it, you want it to be shared. The more views you get, the more popularity your video gains. More so, depending on how many views your video gets, more than likely people will want to create something similar to your video to gain the same/similar recognition. Am I making sense?
I do not think that all this copyright business is killing creative industries, instead I think all this ‘exclusive’ material is actually sparking more creative fever. Given, not all of it may be positive thoughts (because there are some terrible people out there) but many of us look to special videos to gain knowledge and experiment with videos and things on our own. The more barriers we see, the harder we try to break them, and ultimately learning that breaking code is a genius in itself.
Remixing and reposting, I think, does outweigh the harm for video content, because as I mentioned videos get posted online in hopes of it going viral. People want hits and views because that how they gain popularity and at some point profit off a successful original channel. When a fan reposts an artist’s video he/she is trying to spread the word not thinking about harming the artist themselves (probably). Many videos deal with humor, and also a lot of times fans are trying to catch their favorite artists attention.
First, I'd like to point out that the image I used is probably copyrighted to someone, somewhere. How does this make me feel? Absolutely indifferent. It was on the internet, the eighth image that showed up in an image search for "copyright". When I clicked on it there were no pop-ups asking me to pay to use this image, or write an email requesting permission. I just assumed that it was there for me to use.
I have to admit though, that I do feel somewhat bad for the copyright owners in general, especially when it comes to music. With the internet, it's so easy to rip and torrent music now that I wonder how much they actually make from their songs and albums. I personally have not purchased any music since about 2004, when I got my iPod, yet my collection of music has grown from 70 CDs to over 4,500 songs (and I'm just getting started). I "borrow" from my friends - some who have actually purchased the music, some who have not - but the truth of the matter is that stuff is copyrighted, and it's not being acquired properly - it's stealing.
I know that if I was the singer or songwriter and I looked at just how much of my hard work and creativity was stolen, I'd be furious. It's like when your younger sister copies your hairstyle or buys a matching shirt - you are so ticked off because she's copying you, and your unique idea is gone.
Mark Helprin wrote an article called A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn't Its Copyright? in which he basically rants about the fact that his copyright expires 70 years after his death. In a way, I sympathize with him - sure, you created something, it should be yours forever. But 70 years after your death? When you're dead and gone, does it really matter that you make full price on something you wrote? To me, 70 years is reasonable because it's inherited by your family and should help provide money for your kids and grandkids. After that, it should be up to someone else to think of something "new" and be creative. Just think... if we all had one person in our family come up with the "next big thing", had it copyrighted and we lived off the royalties forever, there would be nothing new! Maybe that's a scretch, but it's definitely worth considering.
I really can't form a definite opinion about whether the laws are fair or not, because I've never created anything of significance, and I don't necessarily plan to in the future. Maybe one day I'll write the next great American novel and then my opinion will change. For now, I just want to watch free music videos on YouTube and 'borrow' cute pictures of Wall-E to fulfill my blog assignment!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This week’s journey into the realm of copyright, fair use, and piracy certainly left my head spinning due to what appeared to be valid concerns and arguments on all sides of the issue.
The “Property” reading segment was the most challenging for me, the author did a good job of breaking down the fundamental differences between the copyright laws beginning in the 1790’s as a way of protecting the works of individual creators, against the publishers, thus giving the creator’s more incentive to do more. Then, he followed the evolution of the copyright laws and what they in fact give us today where: “Every realm is governed by copyright law, whereas before most creativity was not” (p.43). As technology has evolved, so has the ability to find people who infringe on a person’s copyright. Even if they didn’t know it, I certainly didn’t think that fan fiction was an infringement, or that tampering with the computer code on some electronic devices was an infringement as well.
In regards to the fair use issue, especially since I’m and avid YouTube fan, now I’m even more confused. If you take the policies literally, most of what I watch could be a potential Terms of Service Violation. I see music videos posted by private people, people performing songs, and even teaching people how to play their favorite songs – could that be an infringement as well? Are we at the stage where it is legally permissible to sue a person because they are on YouTube giving a lesson on how to play Stairway to Heaven? I hope not, but I’m certainly going to be more careful in the future.
The piracy issue, that seemed pretty black and white to me, I’m certainly guilty of making my share of LimeWire downloads ten years ago, but for the most part I’m clean now. Especially since my brother was one of the people targeted in a massive RIAA sting and he wound up settling out of court for $4,000.00. No downloads for me after that. I don’t have a problem making a back up copy of something for myself, but posting something for the masses to download for free, does still seem like the wrong thing to do.
It has been an interesting ten years watching the evolution of the music business in particular in the face of all the p2p sharing. This isn’t the first time the music industry has had to change its ways. Back in the 1920’s the music industry started suing radio stations for playing music for free. They felt that if it was played for free, nobody would go out an buy it. Funny, how the more things change, the more things stay the same.
As a Western society we have relied on structuring models for the advancement of our civilization. Beginning in England, copyright laws were established to foment scientific and cultural progress by motivating people with rewards. We have advanced as a society through inventions which have been built upon by others throughout the years. As such, while copyright laws serve to motivate progress in society, the laws should be flexible enough to allow for others to build upon them and drive advancement.
Helprin argues that copyright laws should be extended to secure reward for descendants on the grounds that it will keep motivating invention. While I do agree that rewarding motivates ideas and works to keep being produced, extending the law would just make it harder for other people to build upon the initial idea. Ideas are part of a society regardless of who invented them because they are produced in a particular localized moment in time. Making them available to the public after certain time enhances the society's contextualized history. Moreover, it enables the society to reinvent and build upon them, and make progress towards new eras of cultural and scientific knowledge.
This is not to say that authors go without credit on their work. As an author, I feel that my work can be used and I should be cited by the authors that use it. Likewise, I like to credit any work that I borrow. It is an ethical issue not to pass work that it's not ours as our own. Robbing ideas leads to authors persuing stricter copyright laws, and the whole society, not just offenders, is affected.
Using inventions without proper permission or citation has been an issue on the net world recently. The internet has made illegal use of music and film material rampant. Though, ideas and works have also been shared without permission, the music and movie industry has suffered the most. Therefore, the sharing of these materials on the internet should be under more control and authors should make their work easily and inexpensively accesible online to avoid abuse of their inventions. It will benefit authors by having more control over their works and earnings as well as benefit the public by having it accessible at a reasonable cost and easy access.
Finally, individual ownership of work has the rewards of motivating invention and progress. Tightening the laws protecting invention leads other authors to alienate their works from the social context in which they were born. It makes it harder for others to build upon them if they have to consult descendants everytime they even think of using someone else's ideas. These people may not be as knowledgeable as their ancestors about the work or may not even care about the contributions to society. Thus, copyright laws should not be extended and a percentage of financial gain can be established for descendants whenever usage of their ancestors' work acquires monetary gain. This way future inventors have access to ideas and descendants are keep financially secured and happy.
I think this is where the biggest problem of piracy comes into play. While the government and other companies work to stop it, I fell that they don't go about doing so in the best way possible. It seems that you see more cases of single downloaders going to court over piracy then those hosting the sites and programs or those hosting the music or movies.
The internet is a huge resource for everyone and it is easy to get almost anything you want out there if you know where to look. Why should we target the people who just go and use that information instead of having a stronger focus on those who put it out there for everyone. I know that some companies such as Napster have been shut down but there is so many others that can be easily accessed. We should spend more time taking them down then bothering with the single people that download a few songs here and there.
Comparing this to what we read in the "Guide to Youtube Removals". When videos on Youtube have copyright infringement then the person who posted the video takes the "punishment" for posting it. Youtube doesn't go and track down everyone who watched that video and give their information to companies to sue them for using sources available to the public.
Overall I feel that if something is easily attainable on the internet that someone should be able to use that and not be worried about committing a crime but those who make it available are the problem.
It boils down to intent and practice.
If the intent is to steal content just for the sake of distributing it in its unaltered form, it’s an obvious example of theft. On the other hand if you take that content and create something new with it (the law may not see it this way) but it seems to be borrowing, and shouldn’t be punished.
In determining what is borrowing and what is stealing ratio seems to be important. What’s the percentage of original material compared to copyright material? How well does it resemble the source material?
There are many electronic musicians who sample bits and pieces of songs and works from other artists. This sampling is the foundation of plunderphonics.* I’m not talking about terrible mash-ups either. The songs produced however do not resemble their source material. There is a certain art to putting pieces together, which initially don’t seem to fit. Who’s to say that this artist is infringing on any copyright laws when they have created an original artwork?
Borrowing elements from other people and combining them in new ways is a great for new ideas and artworks to develop. Let’s equate it to collage. In its simplest form, we’ve all probably made a collage. Cutting out magazine pictures and using a glue stick to paste them on poster board is a simple example. The images that go up on that poster board are not yours, even though you paid for the magazine, and you certainty didn’t make them. You did, on the other hand, take the time to gather them and arrange them in new ways to make something new from the pieces. You have, from those disparate pieces, constructed new meaning and a new artwork. In law, the concept I am referring to would be called transformativeness.
Having loose copyrights laws allows this synthesis to occur. Others have mentioned Star Wars Uncut, which is a great artistic and creative endeavor even though it is based off preexisting material. People borrow others ideas all the time, and use them for building blocks for their own works. It happens in music, it happens in film, albeit in more subtle ways (except with Tarantino), the Internet just has a way of being less subtle about…well, everything.
“The public domain is like a vast national park without a guard to stop wanton looting, without a guide for a lost traveler, and in fact, without clearly defined roads or even borders to stop the helpless visitor from being sued for trespass by private abutting owners." - This Business of Music
*The terms was coined by John Oswald in his article Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative. Check it out if you’re interested.
Copyright music has been a hot topic since MP3s have been in mainstream use. This is a great article on classical music and the copyright use of it http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_e1cef304-3e1e-11e0-a97a-0017a4a78c22.html
We get a lot of music sent to us from bands that are up and coming or really trying to get their name out there. We also have deejays who play remixes sampled with copyright music. However, a lot of that type of music is trying to show a creative twist. Others have been burned by copyright and not getting their money due for using or sampling their music.
Unlike Napster, many media companies have entered negotiations with YouTube to try to resolve copyright issues up front. Although every deal is different, copyright infringement issues are usually resolved by paying royalties to the offended party. In this case, Universal and YouTube actually entered such negotiations. With the filing of the lawsuit, it obviously didn't work out. The reported problem was the fact an unreleased Jay-Z music video appeared on YouTube. Obviously, Universal felt its thunder had been stolen. ( http://ezinearticles.com/?A-New-Music-Copyright-Lawsuit-Against-YouTube&id=393361)
There are many times where artists are trying to get paid for their work. That is all. But there will be a constant vigil of record labels that will make sure they get paid too. Suing people for not paying for copyright music will solve nothing. The problem is here and it will not changed. It has changed how music is sold. Radiohead's last two albums have been sold online and you pay whatever price you want. The laws are still unclear and you will continue to see that with music online.
In looking at it from an artists perspective, I would be furious if someone were to use my creative works for their personal benefit. If I put countless hours into writing songs for a new album or millions of dollars into producing a movie, it would drive me up a wall knowing that my copyrighted blood, sweat, and tears could be used to make someone else money. On the flip side, if I'm making a video for a school project and get slammed with accusations of a copyright violation, that seems a little ridiculous. In high school I was a part of the morning news show and we frequently put together clips of school sporting events while using popular music to go with it. The librarian had a personal vendetta against our teacher and he sent her a letter stating that if we did not adhere to the copyright laws for the music that we were using he would take the issue to the "appropriate authorities." Needless to say, I think Darude has much more important things to worry about than a group of 12th graders using the song "Sandstorm" for a minute long soccer highlight showed during second hour.
It is in instances like these, where there is no attempt for financial gain, that the copyright law seems downright ridiculous. Lessig brings up an even worse example of the terrible misuse of the law. He talks about the idea that if there is value, then there is right and that "[This] is the perspective that led a composers' rights organization, ASCAP, to sue the Girl Scouts for failing to pay for the songs that girls sang around Girl Scout campfires. There was "value" (the songs) so there must have been a "right"--even against the Girl Scouts." It is at this point that a 7 year old girl learns the phrase "are you kidding me?"
Lessig informs us that our own copyright law is in fact a copy (and improvement) of English copyright law. He states the law is there "To prevent the concentrated power of publishers, they built a structure that kept copyrights away from publishers and kept them short. To prevent the concentrated power of a church, they banned the federal government from establishing a church. To prevent concentrating power in the federal government, they built structures to reinforce the power of the states--including the Senate, whose members were at the time selected by the states, and an electoral college, also selected by the states, to select the president. In each case, a structure built checks and balances into the constitutional frame, structured to prevent otherwise inevitable concentrations of power." That interpretation of the law has long since changed. As it stands today, the copyright law has expanded from prosecuting the unlawful republishing of a work to include every aspect of said work from the moment of creation.
This is great in theory, but when you are told by the Adobe eBook Reader that you are not allowed to read Alice in Wonderland out loud, it becomes borderline insanity. In these cases the law goes too far and goes to show how laughable it has become. While I am all for protecting the creativity of artists who create music, movies, books, etc. for the world to enjoy, going after girl scouts and teachers who would like to read a book aloud is absolutely the wrong path to take.
Like most confrontations between law and technology, the law is lagging behind. There have been attempts to make copyright law and technology mesh, but technology advances so fast and law has to be written so precisely that it creates a giant gray area for things like fair use; which is mostly up to the individuals involved to define. Sure, there are guidelines to what fair use is but they're broad enough that 20 people will come up with 20 different views, which isn't very good when it's a confrontation between the rights of two groups.
To use an even more extreme example, the entire anime industry in America has been running on piracy since the beginning. In the early days, shows were spread via a few low-quality VHS copies subtitled by fans, and the only way you could watch was if you "knew a guy". Today, thanks to the internet, it's all too easy to quickly copy and share high-quality fansubs, with most becoming available only a few days after their Japanese airdate and months (perhaps even years) before their official English-language release. This has cost anime distributors massive amounts of money over the years, and forced more than a few to cut back on their releases or even close up shop for good. While several have attempted to combat this via officially-sanctioned same-day streams, some of the more entitled fans have gone so far as to hack the distributors' official website and start sharing the episode even before the Japanese airdate, causing conflict to arise between the American distributor and the Japanese client.
I could continue to go on a long rant about the evils of piracy and how stealing is bad and isn't acceptable under any circumstances, but doing so would likely only serve to paint me as the biggest hypocrite on earth.
You see, I currently produce a series called Sonic F, a parody of the Sonic X animated series that re-purposes episodes of the latter into more comedic, satirical takes on the material.
To illustrate, here's the fifth episode of Sonic X, "Cracking Knuckles", alternatively titled "Clash! Sonic vs. Knuckles" in its original Japanese broadcast.
Now, in contrast, here's the fifth episode of Sonic F, "Clash! Knuckles vs. Crippling Stupidity".
Note that the music is different, the script is heavily altered, and the voices have all been re-recorded. The only thing retained from the original episode is the footage, and even then, not all of the original work is featured, and many clips are shown out of order or spliced up to fit the new dialogue. By this point, it's more or less become its own unique work almost completely independent of its source material, save for following a similar plot and reusing some footage. So at that point, does it really qualify as copyright infringement?
Apparently, no. A recent revision of the DMCA states the following to be one of six new "exemptions from the statute’s prohibition against circumvention of technology that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work":
Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:
(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos
Under this revision, because my videos are transformative works that differ enough from the original material to be unmistakably recognized as mmine, as well the fact that I obtain all my footage from legally-purchased DVDs and don't use them as a means of profit, Sonic F is technically protected from being auto-flagged as infringing copyright.
Plenty of others use copyrighted material for their own creative purposes, and plenty of new and interesting things have appeared as a result. However, companies are all too quick to attempt and take these things down out of a belief that any unpermitted use of their material is completely unlawful no matter the purpose. While I agree that piracy as a whole is a serious issue, not every person who uses sample clips for something is a pirate. Full unrestricted use of someone else's material risks damaging various industries, but at the same time, a total crackdown would only lead to a lot of creative minds being silenced. There needs to be more guidelines as to what constitutes theft and what doesn't so that the copyright holders are protected but the remixers are free to express themselves. It's certainly not a question that I think is going to get answered any time soon, but I know that for me personally, as long as there's an audience, I plan to continue making videos, regardless of who thinks otherwise.
Copyright Laws…Wow… again Wow… after reading all the material, then doing some research to find more, my heading was spinning. I never realized that it all began "When the first Congress enacted laws to protect creative property, when it faced the same uncertainty about the status of creative property that the English had confronted in1774 and that in 1790, Congress enacted the first copyright law." At that time; a Federal copyright and secured that copyright for fourteen years, if the author was alive at the end, then he could opt to renew the copyright or his work would have passed into the public domain. Since then it has change a great deal, the years that you could own a copyright have increased, there are controls, not permissions. Today there is even more to it with the web, e-books just to name a few. Even the Fair Use of copyrighted materials is so hard to understand, and it doesn't provide an effective guidance for the use of others' works. Except for when in "doubt, obtain permission."
I believe the internet is harming copyright owners and their livelihoods. But part of that is possible, cause they are not double checking on ways to secure there copyright before posting it on the internet or they have not done there research on how to keep it safe. I will be re-reading and doing more research on this before I post or publish anything. In a article Field v Google it states you can prevent Google from caching your site by using the "no-archive" metatag, and also prevent from indexing your site by using 'no-index' metatag or putting the "user-agent:*Disallow: /'command in the website's robots.txt file.
Here is a list of several articles I found regarding the Fair use of Copyrighted materials:
I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of p2p file sharing. I'd like to think I have a widespread collection of music on my laptop and iPod, thanks to Limewire. I'm aware that this is illegal downloading, however; I always justified these actions by figuring that the music artists make enough money as it is.
I started thinking about music artists who have publicly spoken out against piracy, and I remembered a PSA that Kid Rock did from a couple years ago. Here is the link to the PSA, sarcastically entitled "Steal Everything".
Kid Rock points out that yes, he is a rich man...but if you are going to steal one of his songs, why stop there? Whatever you want, whether it be a laptop, car, gas, etc. - you should steal it. My reasoning for p2p music downloads doesn't seem as strong anymore.
On the other hand, "Would the Bard Have Survived the Web?" points out that some believe that "copyright impedes creativity and progress" and "if we severely weaken copyright protections, innovation will truly flourish".
I was intrigued by Lessig's description of Walt Disney's "idea sharing", if you will, from Buster Keaton's "Steamboat Bill" into his own "Steamboat Willie", and also the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales into various Disney movies.
"In all of these cases, Disney (or Disney, Inc.) ripped creativity from the culture around him, mixed that creativity with his own extraordinary talent, and then burned that mix into the soul of his culture. Rip, mix, and burn." -Lessig-
It is amazing to see what Disney created from building upon the ideas of others and adding to them. Lessig points out that many creative individuals base their work off one another - actors perform adaptations of existing works, scientists use formulas and research from other scientists, etc. Feeding off of one another can result in a positive outcome. However, if I were Buster Keaton, I believe I would feel very differently.
From my own personal experience, I know that p2p has introduced me to different artists, songs, actors/actresses and films that I do not know if I would have had the opportunity to experience otherwise.
This was a difficult topic for me. On one hand I think that Mark Helprin makes a good point. His family shouldn't be stripped of their rights to his copyrighted work just because he has been dead for 70 years. Then again what will his work be worth 70 years from the day he dies? Google estimates the number of unique books in the world at 130 million. How many of those books will still be of interest 70 or even 14 years from now? It makes the issue of the copyright seem irrelevant to the family and the public if the family won't make any money from it and the public doesn't want it.
I can see how a copyright could be irritating to someone who wants to use copyrighted material. But they could always try asking for permission to use it. If that fails they could try to find something else to use or maybe even consider the possibility of creating something original.
Lawrence Lessig points out that "A person may use the copy by playing it, but he has no right to rob the author of the profit, by multiplying copies and disposing of them for his own use." So I don't understand why it is wrong for a person to make a copy of the cd they bought for a friend. Especially if that friend could not afford the cd and would not have purchased it anyway. No one is losing any money and your friend benefits. I realize that it would be unethical to make 10 copies, but I don't think it is a problem if a person wants to make one or two. I feel that once you buy something it is your right to use it however you want as long as you aren't hurting someone else and I don't think one copy will hurt anyone.
I know music is a really big thing as far as p2p sharing of music files. Unfortunately for those music artists, everyone is sharing their music for free. It's convenient, and it's a society we created because we enjoy things that are free. It's just the same as crowdsourcing where we take things from amateurs over the pros because it's free. At the same time, it's beneficial. Imagine paying your money for a CD just to discover it's trash. You would be highly upset, and you can't get your money back. However, if you get the music through p2p sharing, you can hear the entire CD before you decide to purchase it. True, there are song demos out, but they only give you about 30 seconds of the song. Also, even though people may like the CD they got through p2p sharing doesn't mean they'll go purchase it.
The problem starts when people are making money off of copyrighted material. I would definitely have a problem with that especially if I wasn't attributed or wasn't given compensation for the use of my material. This is why I believe "Walt Disney Creativity" is wrong. Walt Disney blatantly used material borrowed from someone else without much change in the material. It only benefited him and his company not Buster Keaton.
At the end of the day, I believe the benefits of remixing and reposting copyrighted material outweighs the harms. How much is really original material anyways? We're always using other material in our work even if it's just to prove a point in an academic paper.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"Creative work has value; whenever I use, or take, or build upon the creative work of others, I am taking from them something of value. Whenever I take something of value from someone else, I should have their permission. The taking of something of value from someone else without permission is wrong. It is a form of piracy."