So, what’s a copyright maximalist anyway?

I think it was just a matter of hours after my first article appeared criticizing piracy and the anti-SOPA campaign that I was called a “copyright maximalist.”  I had never heard the term, but suddenly and without any induction process, I was anticipating membership in this secret society. It’s been about three years now, and despite keeping daily vigil by the mailbox, no decoder ring has yet been delivered. I am now suspicious that the American League of Copyright Maximalists may be a myth that originated somewhere in cyberspace.

No, copyright maximalism is not associated with an organization but instead describes a point of view that is supposedly pervasive enough to warrant the chronic and casual use of the term by pundits like Mike Masnick at Techdirt.  Exactly what defines a maximalist, however, is unclear.  In the artistic sense, of course, maximalism is simply the opposite of minimalism.  John Cage is minimalist, Wagner is maximalist.  But in a political or ideological context, a maximalist is an extremist, like a religious extremist, who is so convinced of his own righteousness that he would use radical, draconian, or even violent means to enforce his view on the world.  In this sense, there may be copyright maximalists out there, but if extreme agendas are the identifying quality, I can’t say I’ve met any of these creatures yet.  Yes, we’ve seen some maximalist theater related to copyright, like Jack Valenti’s now dogeared quote about the VCR, and there’s a reason that old anecdote keeps getting recycled — because in the real world of policy-influencing debate, one would be hard pressed to find copyright supporters proposing terribly extreme views on the subject.

Take the recent ruling in the “Blurred Lines” case.  I recommend sources other than this blog for legal analysis, but all of the experts I know, either on copyright or music or both, generally view that outcome as flawed.  Without getting too granular about (and frankly screwing up) the particulars in the case, the general idea I get from all my copyright and music colleagues is that the ruling errs due to a failure to distinguish between similarity and actual infringement on the elements of the original work that are protected by copyrights.  Again, if you want specifics, I suggest this post on IPBreakdown.com by Rick Sanders, but the point I want to make here is that my fellow “maximalists” actually would advocate a far more narrow read of copyright law with regard to “Blurred Lines,” and this is consistent with the views I have encountered over the past few years. Meanwhile, as the anti-copyright blogosphere goes berserk about this case, forecasting slippery slopes and a further broadening of powers granted to rights holders, one should ask who really has the radical, or maximalist, agenda here?

Of course, it’s always easy to label someone an extremist, if you move the bar for moderate in the opposite and extreme direction. And with regard to copyright, this is what seems to have happened correspondent with the evolution of the Internet.  It is right that we should revisit the legal framework of copyright in the context of these technologies, but does that mean the only moderate and rational agenda must exclusively limit copyright across the board? Are all other views maximalist?  Is it not obvious that digital technology creates both new threats and new opportunities and that any sensible legal framework should remedy the former while nurturing the latter?  Or is that the raving proposal of an extremist?

On the other hand, nearly everything in our politics is black and white now, all written in the vernacular of extremes and organized into tidy, associative categories. In fact, I was visiting my best friend over this past weekend, and he very understandably assumed that I would confirm his assumption that the copyright community I know would see the “Blurred Lines” decision as a “win for our side.”  He was surprised when I told him how many copyright supporters disagree with the ruling; but it really shouldn’t be surprising because people immersed in the complexities of any system rarely have blunt and unilateral views. It’s invariably more nuanced.

Similarly, at a dinner a few weeks ago, I found myself talking to a couple of political conservatives, and one of them was actually surprised to learn that we had the same point of view one particular issue.  It’s unfortunate that this should be so shocking, and it suggests to me anyway the degree to which political divisiveness is manufactured and fed by all media and why it appears only to be getting worse in the digital age.  There is always opportunity for a would-be ringmaster in the circus of divisiveness, and social media are like clown cars that supply an endless stream of validation for our assumptions.

So, all that said, I really have no idea what a copyright maximalist is other than a careless pejorative to describe anyone who openly supports copyright.  If I am a maximalist, then the copyright holy war is doomed because I am not nearly versed enough in the scripture to propose any radical interpretations of it. Surely none that anyone would listen to. I don’t know.  Maybe there’s another way to talk about these things.

© 2015, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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98 Responses to So, what’s a copyright maximalist anyway?

  1. In order for there to be a true discussion, biases must be set aside. What “should” be needs to be put on the shelf and the solution must be worked from a perspective of what “actually” exists.

  2. Cormac says:

    Your experience with your rightward-leaning acquaintance is all too common in my observation. As you say, it results from polarization, but I think also from a consumerist approach to politics in which people outsource both their own thinking and their evaluation of others in the same way they do their cooking or clothing: They purchase it ready made. For many people navigating life in our society today, the understanding of what other people think, believe, value, or want is not something they trouble themselves to explore or research on their own. They just get the junk food version from TV, radio and the Internet. Even more frightening, they do the same for themselves, adapting the political views and social philosophies that are bundled as a package (like cable and Internet) with other external indicators of identity and belonging in the marketplace of alienation.

    There has been some fascinating recent research on the role played by media and advertising in shaping peoples value impulses into political opinion that suggests research suggesting we are all hardwired in our politics is too simplistic. WIthout getting into detail (and, as you say, screwing up on them) suffice to say that the research suggests that the media acts on moral value impulses something like the epigene acts on gene expression.

    One really interesting question in all this is how much of the impact we have seen represents inherent tendencies in the technology of the Internet and 24/7 multichannel video.

  3. In a society that seems pretty disinterested in copyright, and that includes creators, anyone who so avidly talks about it is going to be labeled a Maximalist. Keep Maximalizing David. If there ever was a time to beat the drums loudly and in unison it is now.

    • And if it ticks off Angry Villager, so much the better. Copyright is the best thing any creator could ask for, and to see some blasting it is truly disheartening.

      • The “best” thing for any creator is getting their work in front of as many people as possible.

      • David Newhoff says:

        Isn’t it up to every creator to decide for himself what “best” serves his goals and his work?

      • That depends on the goal of creating something. You can’t say that copyright is the “best” thing a creator can ask for while ignoring the fact that copyrighting work that is not available to the public would be pointless.

      • John Warr says:

        There is a difference to making available to the public and being used to garner impressions for Google.

  4. Pixelm says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s easier to fight a strawman than a real opponent. They mean “big media” i think, but of course big media is highly dependent on fair use and clear understandings of rights, not “maximal copyright”.

  5. Sam Flintlock says:

    It’s a snarl word, for sure. It’s supposed to shut down debate, not extend it. (I’ve said before I prefer to talk about copyright “preservationists”, “reformists” and “abolitionists”, because I think it’s more productive to use neutral language).

    I have some sympathy for you on this, simply because you are someone who prefers to debate on issues and does so in what I see as a constructive manner.

    However, while you don’t, it’s the case that some of your side (including several on your blogroll) are happy to throw terms like “freehadist” and “freetard” around with merry abandon. I don’t particularly mind as such. I’m not entirely averse to a well crafted ad hominem myself.

    But it does mean that I don’t think that complaints about the well being poisoned on this have much traction currently.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen you call out anybody for that? Certainly not by name, like you’ve done here. If you really want to raise the tone of debate, I’d suggest that’s a necessary step. I’m not necessarily saying that the likes of Masnick will stop. But it would mean that it was far more obviously one side of the debate doing this, rather than both.

    At the moment, I’m inclined to a “plague on both their houses” position. The thing about monkey poo flinging contests is that all the monkeys end up covered in poo.

    • sf46 says:

      Personally I find “freetard” really unpleasant, for me it invokes a little too much ugliness towards the underlying group that the pun is taken from (aka the mentally handicapped). I wish Lowery et. al. would stop with that one. It’s like if we called people “freeggots” or something. “Freehadist” I don’t mind at all, although I don’t know how productive name calling is.

      Weirdly I never thought there was anything negative sounding about the term “copyright maximalist” and happily call myself that. But I suppose I’m rather tone deaf on these things.

      • John Warr says:

        Oh I think that freetard is quite appropriate in some circumstances. Take some of the discussion on flickr about 3rd parties using the API to redisplay content elsewhere.
        https://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/13063/page2/#reply66473

        and Stewart Butterfield’s response:

        But I have to say that I don’t get your position at all. What you mean when you say “sharing” is “give permission for others to use in all kinds of ways, including ways that you may not anticipate, understand or desire”. Why should people have to do that?? Why not let people share to the degree to which they are comfortable?

        We encourage creative commons licensing and we encourage people participating in all kinds of creative, open, exploratory stuff. And that’s not going to stop. But we don’t demand it or require their participation, and neither should you. There are and will be many millions of photos which can be used in all kinds of ways – that we don’t have to worry about.

        But to say that people have to play by your rules if they want to make a photo public is bizarre to me. If the software supports the expression of their preference, why should they have to keep their photos private?

        Take similar discussions that crop up from time to time on Creative Commons, where unless musicians make available (host) all the masters then the music is free, unless videographers make available (host) the TBs of production files the video isn’t free, unless photographers make available (host) all the intermediatarys from the RAW to final jpeg the photo is free.

        Take the discussions on wikimedia commons where they bully 12yo kids. Or where they remove watermarks from images resulting in the source photographer stopping using CC altogether, or the German Institution that after finding that they’d remove all the identification marks from 80,000 donated images stopped the release of any more of their archives. The images that they crop on Commons to imply that the subjects are engaged in bestiality, and so on, and so.

        Freetards one and all.

      • sf46 says:

        You don’t have to convince me that people on the other side of the copyright issue often have dumb ideas or do mean, nasty things. I wouldn’t call someone who had a dumb idea or did a nasty thing a “retard”. So i won’t call some subset of dumb, nasty people “freetards”. Maybe your feelings on the underlying word are different. I just find it disrespectful to use as a pejorative, but disrespectful to the wrong group of people, not the ones you’re trying to disrespect.

        I have to say that I’m amused to find myself arguing for political correctness. I always thought I was one of the offensive ones. But we’re getting pretty far off topic here. Sorry for dragging us so far into the weeds, I’m such a retard. (rimshot!)

  6. Sam Flintlock says:

    (As an afterthought, there’s nothing wrong with having a radical position per se. The radicalism or otherwise of an argument has no bearing on its validity. Middle ground fallacy).

    • David Newhoff says:

      Hey, Sam. I agree with you overall, so I’ll try to refine my thinking a bit. Regarding pejoratives, I certainly can’t claim not to sling a few myself from time to time, though I don’t think I’ve ever been comfortable with terms like “freehadist,” mostly because it does throw gas on a fire without achieving much. You are right, of course, that I didn’t make any attempt to balance this post by calling out those on “my side” who use such terms, though the main topic was not a call for an elevated debate, but is in fact doubting the existence of the so-called copyright maximalist. Still, I sort of went down the road of elevating the discussion by the end of the post, so it’s fair to suggest that I ought to criticize incendiary language on both sides.

      That said, terms like “freehadist” are at least a little tongue-in-cheek, and I think we are not likely to hear those pejoratives used by scholars, legal critics, pundits in major publications, or testimony in hearings. By contrast, “copyright maximalist” is in such frequent use that it seems to have taken on undue intellectual cache for all of its vagueness. Maybe I’m wrong. But it seems to me that when David Lowery writes an angry post blasting the mindset that assumes everything should be free (and certainly this mindset exists) he’s using incendiary language to criticize what many of us feel is a very spoiled attitude, but he’s not pretending in that moment to be articulating a view on the particulars of copyright law. By contrast, someone like Masnick (and he is not the only one of course) is apt to write a very rational-sounding, very cogent argument against some statement a copyright expert has made, and he won’t hesitate it seems to call them a maximalist. So, I don’t think it’s quite apples to apples; though I understand this could be a much more in-depth conversation. It’s an interesting one, but one I have to cut short for the moment. Thanks.

      • Sam Flintlock says:

        Oh, yeah, agreed on Masnick. He isn’t someone I have a lot of time for, to put it mildy. (Actually, that’s something I’ve noticed recently. I’m far more interested in preservationist vs reformist and reformist vs reformist debates, than I am in debating with abolitionists. Because I’m increasingly feeling that I’ve already heard what even the best of them have to say and rejected it).

        But why I think it’s important is this. I actually think all of us would be better served if voices like Helienne Lindvall, Faza, Robert Levine (although I consider him more of a reformist), Jaron Lanier and, yes, you were being heard a lot more prominently.

        And instead the whole debate feels like it’s being defined by Lowery and Falkvinge. To indulge myself with a little perjorative, it’s the rise of the idiotcracy.

        Worse, you have complex cases like Chris Castle. At his best, Chris is genuinely phenomenal. (Seriously, his report on the idea of a flat downloading fee should be required reading for anyone on these issues). But I’m seeing less and less of that from him and more sub-tabloid argument free stuff. Which is such a waste. At least with Lowery I suspect he has actually reached his intellectual plateau, but Chris can do so much better.

        The noise to signal ratio is currently off the scale.

        And I’m just frustrated. I’d like to see the kind of discussions we have here, where we can actually disagree rationally, become the norm. At the moment they feel like the exception.

      • David Newhoff says:

        I appreciate that, Sam. And I appreciate your comments always. I cannot of course claim that I never add to the noise. Falkvinge is a good example of someone who inspires one to dig out the old thesaurus of outrage. And, yes, there are proposals floating around out there that are so preposterous and so transparently serving one or two billionaires, that it’s hard not to respond in very strident terms. I find it impossible not to be offended by Eric Schmidt’s proposals or comments, or by Pandora’s claim to be “unprofitable” while paying out millions to a handful of executives. So, I hear you about Lowery and Castle, but I also get where that comes from. One must occasionally fight fire with fire; and when it comes to “fighting” the Internet industry, we’re all on their home turf. And the rules on this field say that being provocative gets more views. I have a post here called “Google can bite me.” I almost stopped myself from calling it that, thinking, “surely I can come up with a more original and thoughtful title.” It’s one of the most clicked-on posts on the entire blog.

  7. Anonymous says:

    David–
    “because int he real world of policy-influencing debate, one would be hard pressed to find copyright supporters proposing terribly extreme views on the subject.”

    I’d say that whether you perceive views on copyright as extreme will depend greatly on what your current position on copyright is. As an example — and one which came to mind instantly — I recall when Senator Orrin Hatch suggested that a ‘three strikes’ policy be adopted, wherein if a person used a computer to download copyrighted material illegally, after two warnings, their computer would be destroyed in some manner. (A moment’s googling uncovered a BBC article about it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2999780.stm ) Ironically, his own official web site was using illegally copied software at the time. He said that as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is the key Senate Committee on copyright matters), hasn’t really mellowed out about this sort of thing, and is now President Pro Tem. He may be a colossal schmuck, and not just with regard to copyright, but he can’t be dismissed as a mere crank.

    Would you like more examples? And how extreme do they need to be? After all, while you dismiss Jack Valenti’s infamous Boston Strangler comment as not having been serious, there was an actual lawsuit by the movie industry to kill off the VCR, and they got very close to succeeding. Which would’ve been ironic, given that home video revenues exceeded box office revenues for the film industry in the mid-80s.

    “but the point I want to make here is that my fellow “maximalists” actually would advocate a far more narrow read of copyright law with regard to “Blurred Lines,” and this is consistent with the views I have encountered over the past few years. Meanwhile, as the anti-copyright blogosphere goes berserk about this case, forecasting slippery slopes and a further broadening of powers granted to rights holders, one should ask who really has the radical, or maximalist, agenda here?”

    Two points here:

    First, it’s no surprise to me that there would be many people in that camp who feel that the decision in Williams v. Bridgeport is wrong; they’re hypocrites. While not all copyright maximalists are authors, publishers, etc., if they are copyright maximalists they are typically hypocritical, in my opinion. As near as I can tell, they generally seem to believe that they enjoy a privilege with regard to copyright law that others do not. Thicke, as a professional musician, should’ve been able to use material from the preexisting song. The general public, however, must be prevented by any means available, from doing anything similar (leading to demands that anyone in the various copyright industries ought to be able to remove works from the Internet merely on their say-so). Using money to set up a system of privilege is also common. In the previous well-known Bridgeport case (Bridgeport v. Dimension), the 6th Circuit decided that sampling music without permission was flat-out illegal. Thus, professionals, who have enough money to pay to license samples, and the clout and contacts to set up a deal in the absence of statutory licensing systems, can sample legally. Everyone else cannot.

    The only unusual thing about the Gaye family (Nona Gaye compared the infringement to slavery or something, by the way, if you were looking for more extreme views on the subject) is that they seem willing to cause direct harm for the industry in the process of going after absolutely anyone they can. Whereas usually the self-inflicted harm of copyright maximalists is due to unintentional blundering (like the still-hilarious iTunes debacle).

    Second, there is no anti-copyright blogosphere to speak of. If you’re going to lump all of us copyright ‘minimalists’ together, take it from me, there are very few people who are actually opposed to copyright, and the few that are are not influential, even in the minimalist camp. Most of the people you’re trying to tar do support copyright, they just think that less of it is better than the amount we have now. Plus a lot of the abolitionists adopted that position due to frustration with reform not getting anywhere; if meaningful reforms were made, even the small number of abolitionists would shrink, as many returned to the reformers.

    “Of course, it’s always easy to label someone an extremist, if you move the bar for moderate in the opposite and extreme direction.”

    Certainly one side has been moving the bar for, if not moderate, status quo, in one direction since practically the beginning of copyright. It hasn’t been the people you’re complaining about, though.

    “It is right that we should revisit the legal framework of copyright in the context of these technologies”

    Not at all. We should consider copyright from first principles always. There’s nothing special about the Internet.

    “but does that mean the only moderate and rational agenda must exclusively limit copyright across the board?”

    No. But if copyright is already in excess of what is rational, and if you are already accustomed to and happy with copyright as it stands, you’re bound to see a return to rationality as being nothing but harmful reductions. Again though, I think you’re failing to reach out to the other side, and certainly failing to look at things from their point of view. Abolition isn’t a serious proposal; reform is. Ask the minimalists if there is a point at which copyright reform might go too far, and might offer too little protection to authors, and most of them will say that there is a point at which reduction would go too far.

    Your argument is like saying that when you’re happy doing coke, and heroin, and drinking heavily, and smoking two packs a day, why must your friends who are trying to intervene always exclusively talking about limiting your drug intake across the board. Can’t they be happy with your giving up smoking, but starting an ecstacy habit? Isn’t that suffering enough?

    “Is it not obvious that digital technology creates both new threats and new opportunities and that any sensible legal framework should remedy the former while nurturing the latter?”

    I think that this speaks to another identifying mark of copyright maximalists; they’re conservatives. Not necessarily in a political way, but in the traditional sense of not liking change. Given that copyright has been controlled by the maximalist camp for so long, this is not really a surprise. Reformers are more willing to try to change things, even though it may destabilize existing industries and business relationships.

    The VCR was seen as a threat, and it was ever so close to being destroyed; good thing it wasn’t, because it was really beneficial. DAT and Minidisc were seen as threats and essentially were destroyed before they had a chance to show their true colors (they were probably benign). MP3 and MP3 players were a threat, but managed to avoid destruction. But that wasn’t because they weren’t really a threat. They were threats, and in connection with some other factors, have been wreaking havoc on the music industry for years now. But they’ve also been really good for music — a lot of people have gotten to enjoy a lot more music than they otherwise would’ve, thanks in part to the MP3 revolution. That’s a plus! And some sort of new homeostatic balance will be reached eventually, which will offer a comforting sense of stability to the conservatives.

    “Similarly, at a dinner a few weeks ago, I found myself talking to a couple of political conservatives, and one of them was actually surprised to learn that we had the same point of view one particular issue. It’s unfortunate that this should be so shocking”

    Depends. I was recently talking with a couple of political liberals, and while I was not precisely surprised, I was disappointed that we didn’t have the same point of view on certain political issues. If the issue had been one which wasn’t a sort of core issue, it would not have upset me.

    “it suggests to me anyway the degree to which political divisiveness is manufactured and fed by all media and why it appears only to be getting worse in the digital age”

    I think there’s been more divisiveness in the past than was apparent. I’m more concerned with an increasing lack of civil discussion about the issues and positions which divide us.

    “But it seems to me that when David Lowery writes an angry post”

    David Lowery only writes angry posts. If there was ever anyone who was the old man yelling at the cloud, it’s him.

    “So, all that said, I really have no idea what a copyright maximalist is”

    Without offering a rigorous definition, I would say that a copyright maximalist typically:

    * Ignores or attacks dissent and alternative arguments and reasoning

    * Thinks that creative works are property, and should be treated like any other personal property (probably without knowing much about either copyright law or property law). They are ignorant of or dismiss the utilitarian basis of copyright.

    * Thinks that copyrights should last, if not forever, than for an exceedingly long time, possibly with retroactive extensions so as to basically be forever. But only for currently existing copyrights; historical works generally do not merit this privilege (for hypocritical reasons)

    * The two above principles mean that copyright holders should have absolute and permanent control over every use of their works, limited only by the extent that they have consciously ceded control.

    * Thinks that to the extent that it even matters whether or not copyright is good for society, whatever is best for persons in the industry is best for society. That is, what is good for GM is good for America; the opposite but complementary position, that what is good for America is good for GM is never seriously considered.

    * Is, or wishes to be, or is beholden to, a professional author, publisher, or other member of the overall copyright industry. This isn’t always true (and there are plenty of authors et al who are not maximalists), but it is common.

    * Seeks to externalize the cost and labor of acquiring, maintaining, and enforcing their copyrights. This is why new technologies, and businesses involved in them, must always respect copyright first and foremost. This, coupled with conservatism, below, is the cause of the extreme hostility seen toward entities like Google; they’re new-fangled and don’t put maximalist interests ahead of their own, and therefore must be destroyed.

    * As was already noted, is hypocritical — their conception of copyright is about what’s good for themselves, and if principled maximalism happens to bite them in the ass (as in Williams), then they’re against it.

    * Also as was already noted, is conservative, at least with regard to copyright; Any change not already in the trend of increasing maximalism is to be opposed. However, changes, even radical changes, which do increase maximalism, are to be supported. See hypocrisy, above.

    Also, while it is not true in many cases, and is probably more of a generational thing than an actual tenet of copyright maximalism, there does seem to be not so much technical literacy in the maximalist camp. I mean, there are just a lot of goofy, unworkable ideas (e.g. DRM) that originate from maximalists, with regard to what can and cannot be done, and what is and isn’t practical even if it can be done. I wouldn’t put it in the definition proper, such as it is, but there is some degree of correlation here.

    Anyway, that’s my feeling about it. Perhaps you could reach out to Mike Masnick and jointly you could find better definitions for both copyright maximalism and copyright reform.

    Incidentally, David, I googled this for you, and the earliest result that came up without my actually expending any real effort was an article in Wired from 1996, which you can read here: http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/4.01/white.paper_pr.html It certainly sounds like the agenda hasn’t really changed.

    Anyway, I don’t think she coined it, but Professor Samuelson is still around, and teaches at Berkeley Law. You could always just ask her about maximalism, whether she coined the term, and if not, where she got it from. So it very well may be out of academia after all!

    **********

    Sam–
    So is someone who seeks for an increase in copyright protection in some form a preservationist, or a reformer? Is it not perhaps a little confusing to have some reformers who want more copyright, and some who want less, and to refer to them all by the same label?

    • David Newhoff says:

      All interesting food for thought, Anonymous. Thanks. I won’t comment on every point, but I’m intrigued by your premise that a maximalist is “conservative.” This is because I have a huge problem with this word (and the word liberal to an extent) in political terms these days due to the fact that American conservatives seem to have been replaced by extremists. 47 senators who care more about antagonizing the sitting president than the underlying principles they betrayed with their Letter to Iran represents radical behavior, not conservative behavior. (And I would be equally critical if the parties were reversed.)

      What’s interesting to me about that event in allegorical terms is that we might say those 47 sought to “disrupt” diplomacy with transparently self-serving goals. And whether people consider themselves “liberal” or “conservative,” there certainly is a lot of “disrupting” going on out there, much of it in reaction to understandable frustrations with various systems. And indeed Professor Samuelson herself invokes the spirit of disruption, even in testimony before Congress, with one of her own provocative mantras that “we are all authors now.” She means, of course, now that we have the Internet, so I don’t think I’m being unfair to interpret a somewhat radicalized, anti-copyright agenda based solely on the transformative consequences of the Internet. Of course there is a long history of give-and-take with copyright as with many legal frameworks; but in the last few years, I have encountered few comments, articles, blog posts, or proposals for new limits on copyright that are not predicated on some variation of “because the Internet changes the rules.” (The possible exception might be Brito & Bell, who I think argue solely from a constitutional law perspective.) So in the sense that I, and the experts I know, favor subtle and nuanced change that might loosen one facet of a law while tightening another, I suppose that might be described as “conservative” in contrast to the rhetoric of disruption that appears to color at least the public debate written by the “other side.”

      As I hope I make clear in these comments and throughout the blog, I am not even close to being the guy in the room who’s going to influence revision of the next copyright law. But I am very leery of any cultural or legal proposals that sound populist and humanist on the surface, but in fact tear systems apart to the degree that they leave a vacuum which will only be filled by the most powerful bullies in society — big corporations. And the Internet industry, in my view, represents everything wrong with the corporatization of America, only faster, bigger, and more monopolistic. There are plenty of reasons other than copyright to demonize (or at least be concerned about) Google; and I agree fundamentally with Lanier that copyright is just one social “levee” that protects humans from the tidal wave of consolidated corporate power. And maintaining these “levees” is a core liberal agenda. So, is that conservative liberalism or liberal conservatism? I have no idea. As stipulated in my editor’s note, I’m a curmudgeon.

    • Anon:

      I find it fascinating what you have done here.

      [A maximalist] “Thinks that creative works are property…”

      Try taking a child’s picture and explaining to them you’re going to do what you want with it. Then watch the reaction. You will have had a quick lesson in how humans regard their creations. Our creations have property-like aspects, we imbue them with these property-like aspects regardless of culture, society or the law. This spans human culture. It is a universal.

      IP law attempts to embody this respect for the individual, and it is regarded as having sufficient property-like aspects to be regarded as a property right.

      “Or has sufficient and should be treated like any other personal property”

      I have yet to meet a supporter of copyright who thinks this. Not one. Just because something is “like” something else, it does not mean it “is” something else. The enduring strength of IP is its flexibility not its rigidness.

      What you are doing here is denigrating and diminishing the universal respect humans feel for their creations – and wish to see the law uphold – by attaching a fiction to it. (It also allows you to attach all kinds of wildly inappropriate metaphors, like “hoarding” – for rhetorical purposes). In short, this is a Straw Man argument.

      If your argument depends on Straw Man, you need a better argument. It is not intellectually sustainable.

      • “What you are doing here is denigrating and diminishing the universal respect humans feel for their creations – and wish to see the law uphold – by attaching a fiction to it.”

        Andrew, you pretty much summed things up perfectly with this sentence. It’s my main point of contention with the “free culture” movement.

      • Anonymous says:

        Andrew–
        “Try taking a child’s picture and explaining to them you’re going to do what you want with it. Then watch the reaction. You will have had a quick lesson in how humans regard their creations.”

        Yes, I’ve known lots of little children who didn’t like to share. Perhaps sometimes wisdom does come from the mouths of babes, but not this time.

        “This spans human culture. It is a universal.”

        It’s really not. That anyone could hear a story or song, and then retell it, or change it, ad infinitum, is a practice that seems always to have existed with humans. And it is this practice which copyright seeks to interfere with. Perhaps for good reasons, but not merely because of the greed of a relative handful.

        “I have yet to meet a supporter of copyright who thinks this.”

        I’ve met quite a few of them. Also, this is very clearly a discussion about copyright, not the broader (and more nebulous, and more disjointed, and more confusing) topic of intellectual property.

        “What you are doing here is denigrating and diminishing the universal respect humans feel for their creations”

        Not at all. People can respect their own creations just as well whether they have exclusive control over them or not. If you write a really amazing poem, or paint a really amazing picture, it doesn’t become crap in your own eyes merely because people make copies of it.

        For example, in the US, there’s a statutory exception for recording covers of songs. Was there ever a songwriter who stopped writing songs because he couldn’t stand the idea that people might cover them, possibly putting their own spin on it? I find it unlikely, and even if there were, I don’t see why we would want to base our copyright policy on such a weirdo outlier.

        “In short, this is a Straw Man argument.”

        I wish it were. But unfortunately, this sort of greed exists, and while I wouldn’t consider it a necessary trait to merit the label of a copyright maximalist, it is often a deserved justification for it. I guess some people never mature out of such childish behavior.

      • AudioNomics says:

        anon- “For example, in the US, there’s a statutory exception for recording covers of songs.”

        … which is required by law to provide regular accounting and payment…

  8. Sam Flintlock says:

    Anonymous-

    Preservationist. Because while they might be calling for minor adjustments, their primary position is preserving the copyright laws as they exist.

    Theoretically, I accept that there may be a more radical group that wants to massively extend copyright and they maybe could fairly be called maximalists. The previously mentioned Jack Valenti would probably qualify. But I don’t think that’s anywhere near as prominent a group as you seem to; they’re at least as marginal as the abolitionists. What I see a lot more of is calls for more effective enforcement of currently existing copyright law, not its extension. That’s something different.

    Most of the egregious abuses I see aren’t to do with copyright anyway, they’re trademark law. Games Workshop’s infamous attempt to claim ownership of “space marine” for example was a trademark issue.

    On your other point, these are deliberately broad categories and as such are obviously going to contain a variety of viewpoints. I’m actually a pretty good example of that. I’m reasonably positive about the concept of “take down and stay down”, but I think it needs to be a quid pro pro contingent on a lot more hammering of false takedown requests. So where would that place me? Maximalist, preservationist or reformist? It may depend on where you’re standing.

  9. No one is forced to “share” anything. You do not have to make works public, you do not have to use services that make your works public, I have never found an instance where anything I created was automatically assumed to be fodder for public consumption. At the core, making something publicly available has always been, first and foremost, my choice.

    “Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their intellectual effort. The exclusive rights are, however, not absolute and do not give the creator total control of their works because they are limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law.”

    Copyright IMO is a sword not a shield. It is a means of enduring compensation, not a guarantee of protection, especially when the public space is being used as a means of distribution. A maximalist IMO believes that copyright relieves them of responsibility when it comes to ensuring compensation for their works. That the mere application of copyright should provide unlimited protection against ANY use, legitimate or otherwise of work that they deem to be “theirs”.

    Not everyone accepts or enforces “rights” in the same manner. As such, something like “copyright” is only relevant in a space in which ALL parties agree to its authority. China does not HAVE to honor copyright, not American copyright, do they? So the idea of some sort of blanket protection makes very little sense.

    But in a marketplace where individuals are bound by the law of the land, it can and should be used as a means of ensuring ownership, at least in a monetary sense of individual works. But the author has to bear the bulk of the responsibility as it is their work that may or may not be being infringed.

    The internet is a public space. EULA, privacy policies, etc. They all seem like good ideas on paper, but in the end they are also subject to change on the whim of whatever company created the service that is being used. Does that make them “evil”? Does the fact that people use their service to share works, both owned and infringed, make them responsible? Certainly it does to an extent, but they do not bear SOLE responsibility as a maximalist would have us believe, how can they?

    I go back to the point, you do not have to share anything. You do not have to distribute your work in ANY fashion you do not wish to, however, the MOMENT you use a service to do so, you and your work are subject to both their policies, their protections, and their failures in regards to both. It is a matter of trust, that one can assume is intended to not be breached(as that would severely limit the appeal of a given service), but that in and of itself does not make them or you 100% responsible for what MIGHT occur now that your work has been made public.

    IMO there should be no question as to what is and is not allowed in regards to trans-formative, derivative, and/or what should and should not be considered “fair” use of works. Enforcement should be based on actual infringement, not implied or expected responsibility of service providers and the onus of proof should fall squarely to the creator/claimant.

    • AudioNomics says:

      whom are you arguing against?

      A.V- “I have never found an instance where anything I created was automatically assumed to be fodder for public consumption.”

      Not having heard or seen any of your work, but might that not be more of a reflection of your own work than of the legal system and universal human right declarations?

      • That is not my point. No one forces me to release my work on any particular platform. I could take complete control of distribution, not use a third party service, and monitor legitimate downloads, views, listens, etc.

        No one has to use a PRO. Or google, or youTube. However, as SOON as I put my work online, which is a public space. Unless I keep all of my work behind a wall of security, it becomes available for public consumption. The fact that I don’t want my page indexed, or I don’t want someone grabbing one of my links is irrelevant. Bottom line, unless I don’t put it out there, it is going to be OUT there.

        Just as if I was busking on a street corner. I can’t stop people from hearing me, even the ones who don’t drop a dollar in my guitar case. I HAVE to accept that some people are not going to support my efforts.

        So if I sign with a label. And thus let my work go further. I have given up the initial control I had when playing on the corner. I did so, with the hopes that my work would be heard by more people than are passing my by on the corner. I have to also accept, that not everyone who hears my work, through the label, regardless of if they like it, are going to compensate me for that work.

        Is that the labels fault? Or is it simply the cost of doing business? Same thing applies to being online. The more creative works are distributed, the greater the reach and potential exposure, both good an bad.

        It still remains, at least in part, MY responsibility to monitor my work and go after those who would try to steal from me. I can’t simply rely on the label, or a service, or anyone to keep everything 100% legit.

      • awwdeohh@yahoo.com says:

        err I still don’t know what you’re trying to say…
        you can’t commercially exploit your work without Google the Pirate Bay and other leeches taking their pound of flesh? That we should sit back and let others rob us, because, well that’s just how the world is? If that what you’re saying, What a fucking defeatist attitude.
        If you’re saying that I am responsible to identify my muggers, yeah… that’s how it is, but I should have the same 911 call rights that someone stealing your car as someone stealing my life’s work..

      • “err I still don’t know what you’re trying to say…
        you can’t commercially exploit your work without Google the Pirate Bay and other leeches taking their pound of flesh?”

        Nope. What I said was that by making your work public, you have exposed it to public consumption. Some of that consumption will not be “legitimate”, and the ONLY way to ensure all distribution and consumption is legit is to control all distribution and consumption, yourself.

        “If you’re saying that I am responsible to identify my muggers, yeah… that’s how it is, but I should have the same 911 call rights that someone stealing your car as someone stealing my life’s work..”

        You do. Who says you don’t? But should you get mugged, it isn’t the random passerby who is responsible for reporting the crime. It isn’t the store you were in front of. Maximalists and technophobes would have that responsibility fall primarily on service providers. I don’t agree.

      • AudioNomics says:

        AV-“But should you get mugged, it isn’t the random passerby who is responsible for reporting the crime. It isn’t the store you were in front of. Maximalists and technophobes would have that responsibility fall primarily on service providers. I don’t agree.”

        I call bullshit.
        a) “technophobes” just doesn’t apply. most creators are early adopters and quite fluent in technology. Just because I don’t spend my days writing C++ doesn’t make me a technophobe..
        b) I just got done saying it was the responsibility of the mugged to identify the mugger… what we’re looking for is action after the identification…

        What we are asking for is a little accountability and less “look the other way while directly profiting” off the work. I’m sick and tired of services ‘pretending’ they don’t know what goes down on property they are responsible for.
        For example: after the hundredth+ dmca notice [personally sent, not even including all the hundreds of other people sending in for their works] to a blogger (google property) account, that CLEARLY has no other purpose other than to distribute and sell ads and subscriptions to pirated goods, you would think that might be enough to trigger some sort of ‘review’ or qualify for a repeat offender account ban or some action.
        I mean come on, how many times do you need to be notified about something before it qualifies as “red flag knowledge”? The “I don’t know” defense has to go away at some point, after some sort of threshold, no? Currently it does not… and I can’t afford to sue google or any number of cyber-lockers (though, I am looking into class action suites…)

      • John Warr says:

        AudioNomics: Just because I don’t spend my days writing C++ doesn’t make me a technophobe..

        You might not but I do.

        What we have with Google and other sites like them is that they knowingly provide a space where larceny can take place, direct people to where the larceny is taking taking place, and deck the location out with advertizing for other products legitimate or not.

      • “What we have with Google and other sites like them is that they knowingly provide a space where larceny can take place, direct people to where the larceny is taking taking place, and deck the location out with advertizing for other products legitimate or not.”

        That is not their primary business model. Why is that important? Because by focusing on the potential downsides, while generally ignoring the positives of the aforementioned technology, you are not addressing the true source of the problem and therefore are no closer to an actual solution.

        THAT is the point in any post I make. Do not give up on fighting clear violations, but work the problem at the source(content creation and distribution) as well.

      • John Warr says:

        “That is not their primary business model.”

        Is so.

        There business is in indexing and listing as much as possible. It makes no difference to them whether they have permission to index and copy or not, they do so anyway. Also they provide spaces for people to exploit the creations of others, and make it difficult for the creators to get the content removed. If the same user re-uploads the same content or other content that they do not have permission for they require the content creator to jump through the same hoops again. Additionally they supply revenue to their violating user who allow them to place adverts on the violating pages.

        Their business is entirely premised on larceny.

      • “It makes no difference to them whether they have permission to index and copy or not, they do so anyway.”

        If you truly believe that the primary purpose of such things as google is to make money off of the work of others, then there is no point in any further discussion on the subject.

        I would still recommend that content creators work the problem from their end as well. There is no harm in being more responsible with your own work, unless you only goal is to bitch and moan about companies like Google.

      • John Warr says:

        Did you not know that Google’s business is to spunk adverts in your face? Everything they do is designed to spunk more and more adverts at you, and to sell your browsing to advertizers. That is what they do. They want to keep you on the sites that they splooge adverts onto for as long as possible. They don’t actually create any thing themselves that you want to view, they are simply a middleman between you and your ultimate destination.

      • “They don’t actually create any thing themselves that you want to view, they are simply a middleman between you and your ultimate destination.”

        Such a narrow minded view. However, you are 100% free to create a service, or a suite of services that do all of the things big tech products do. By all means, since they add no real value to the world, go right ahead and do it yourself…

        For better or for worse companies like Google/Apple/Microsoft have changed the way we interact with the world. To boil the contributions of big tech down to being “middlemen” is ridiculously short sighted as was mentioned above.

        So many people complain about the evils of big tech, yet have no problems using the services provided. No issue when it works to their benefit. Hypocritical to say the least.

        Google, as an index is worth more than anything you or I will ever create. It is worth more than just about anything that exists today because it makes all the available knowledge of human kind available.

        Are you freaking crazy in saying that they don’t contribute? Don’t you claim to be some sort of IT person?

        Apple changed the way we think about computers by putting a fully realized device in our hands. Amazon connected you to products and services that would have been completely beyond your reach 20 years ago. Microsoft? What haven’t they done to enhance our lives.

        Yes, absofuckinglutely, these companies need to be checked, double checked, and then checked again. They need to be held accountable in how they use and handle OUR data. I don’t think anyone would suggest they be given free reign to do as they please.

        But they are not responsible for putting food on yours or anyone else’s table. Yeah, they make money off of ads and sometimes those ads lead to bad places. Get over it. Their business is data management not policing the internet. not making sure you don’t put sensitive material online, or on your phone.

        I love independent artists. And I also am grateful to have a means to find them. To share them with my friends. To listen to them on the go, to look them up in a bar. To catch a video(legit or bootleg) on my phone. You want to say there is work to be done. Yup, we all agreed on that the first time I posted to this blog. Yay for us.

        You want to say these companies are nothing but leeches, then I highly suggest you unplug, move to the mountains and let mother nature be your guide, because this world is here to stay. How you adapt and thrive is up to you.

      • John Warr says:

        It is worth more than just about anything that exists today because it makes all the available knowledge of human kind available.

        Before Google there were other search engines. Present with Google there are other search engines too. Google are no better than many others, and they never were much better than others. Perhaps you found what you were looking for on page 18 rather than 19. I say perhaps, I never did a side by side comparison, my old mate still swore by alloftheweb in 2006. Back around 2000 we changed the search engine to Google it was good enough and looked cleaner. Netscape most likely came configured with it as the default. Today they pay Mozilla $300 million a year to make it the default browser. If it was really better they wouldn’t need to do that.

        Amazon connected you to products and services that would have been completely beyond your reach 20 years ago.

        Really? 30 years ago. I’d pick up a phone in Europe call a publisher in New York and have a book in my hand a couple of weeks later. Or I’d call a company in Pasadena and have a part a few days later. 50 years ago I’d go to my local library flip through the card indexes and have a book within a week. 40 years ago hear something on the radio walk into a High Street shop and have the LP the following week. A hundred years ago there was the Sears catalog. All that has changed is the time scale between ‘want it’ and ‘got it’ that isn’t really a great deal.

        Don’t you claim to be some sort of IT person?

        No. I said I’m a software engineer.

      • AudioNomics says:

        AV- ” blah, blah, blah..You want to say these companies are nothing but leeches..”

        Who ever said that? I think they all contribute great things to society. lol, you’re the one that thinks a good act cancels out criminal acts though. ‘Sure he murdered fifteen people and sold crack on the corner, but damn if he didn’t help old ladies across the road! ‘…

      • “Before Google there were other search engines. Present with Google there are other search engines too.”

        Ayup. And the reason why Google has thrived has very little to do with taking advantage of the little guy. They have improved the technology in many ways. As a “software engineer” you should be well aware of that fact. Is it perfect? Nope. But it is pretty damn good and more useful than simply being the guy in the middle of the customer and the creator.

        “All that has changed is the time scale between ‘want it’ and ‘got it’ that isn’t really a great deal.”

        LOL, ok. Right now I can go to Amazon and not only buy just about anything. But I can also have it on my doorstep in less than a day. I can compare it to other products with useful information from others buying the same thing. Have access to a library of music an books without taking up one inch of space in my home. You can downplay the advances all you like. It does not diminish the contribution of companies like Amazon, Google, etc…

        “No. I said I’m a software engineer.”

        Fair, enough. Don’t really get your stance on tech, but fair enough…

        “Who ever said that? I think they all contribute great things to society. lol, you’re the one that thinks a good act cancels out criminal acts though. ‘Sure he murdered fifteen people and sold crack on the corner, but damn if he didn’t help old ladies across the road!”

        Um, he did.

        “What we have with Google and other sites like them is that they knowingly provide a space where larceny can take place, direct people to where the larceny is taking taking place, and deck the location out with advertizing for other products legitimate or not.”

        And what I have been saying is that their responsibility only goes so far. To say they are complicent as a rule is ridiculous. There are many ways in which these companies at least try to limit such activity. The fact that they do not stop 100% of it or that ads are placed on bad sites is the exception, not the rule.

      • John Warr says:

        can also have it on my doorstep in less than a day.

        Oh wow that is so cool. I wanna sacrifice my first born. I so so hope the gubmint don’t make ’em pay any tax.

        Now back to reality: Instant access does not a culture make.

        Again Amazon is no more than a middle man. It makes consumption easier for those living a somewhat luxurious lifestyle. It doesn’t promote the arts or sciences.

        Have access to a library of music an books without taking up one inch of space in my home.

        Here is a new version of a book I have a couple of images in.
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-Hoverflies-Introduction-Britain-WILDGuides/dp/069115659X/

        a digital version is not at all convenient to use. My wife reads digital versions of some books, but nearly always we end up getting the hard copy. The hoverflies book is not unique none of these are useful as digital
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corrupting-Sea-Study-Mediterranean-History/dp/0631218904/
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bursting-Limits-Time-Reconstruction-Geohistory/dp/0226731138/
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/vitraux-Haute-Normandie-Martine-Callias-Bey/dp/2271055482/

        Music is the same. I probably have 150 albums as downloads. There is something missing with them.

        why Google has thrived has very little to do with taking advantage of the little guy.

        It is everything to do with squeezing the little guy. About the only thing I think they’ve done is streetmap. Almost everything else is bought in. There were search engines prior to 2000 just as good as Google. They were by no means ahead of the field. They still haven’t got search cracked today.

      • Anonymous says:

        John Warr–
        “There business is in indexing and listing as much as possible. It makes no difference to them whether they have permission to index and copy or not, they do so anyway.”

        Copyright does not extend to the right to control the indexing of works; if it did, it would be impossible to create many useful references (e.g. periodical indices). Essentially you are arguing for copyrights on facts, and that’s simply unconstitutional. Since there’s no right in copyright to information about a work, no permission is needed, no larceny occurs.

        Copying done by Google is of more interest, but as it’s been in the interests of indexing, rather than for its own sake, it has been consistently found to not be infringing. Perfect 10 stands for this proposition with regard to images, and the Author’s Guild stands for this with regard to books, as two humorous examples. Since no infringement occurs, again, no permission is needed, and there is no larceny. Not that there would be larceny or anything of that nature anyway, per Dowling.

        “Also they provide spaces for people to exploit the creations of others”

        No, they provide spaces for people to do things. The various facilities Google provides for content residing at the direction of users are generic in nature. Individual users might abuse them, but just as easily might not. Google has no way to control this in advance of any offense. For all any of us know, your comment wasn’t original to you, but was someone else’s work, which you copied here, infringing on the actual author’s copyright. How could David possibly control whether or not your comment could be posted, prior to your having posted it? How could David know that your comment was infringing, until someone in a position to know told him? How is it fair to blame David for your actions, merely because he provided a space for you to exploit the creation of another? If it’s not fair for David to bear the punishment for your offense, it’s not fair for Google to bear the punishment for their users.

        “and make it difficult for the creators to get the content removed”

        Google is under no obligation to do anything about that unless they host it. If they merely provide a link to it, the most Google can possibly do is remove the link; they can’t control the actual content of third party sites. Further, as far as I am aware, Google does not make it difficult for copyright holders (as opposed to mere creators) to remove links or, when applicable, to remove copies. They merely don’t make it any easier than the law requires. Also, take down requests are just that, requests. Google isn’t actually obligated to honor anything short of a court order, according to the copyright law. And when they feel that the risk that comes with waiving the protection of the section 512 safe harbor is outweighed by other factors, of course it’s fine for them to disregard the take down. If they’re in the wrong, a court will issue an injunction, and possibly penalties, and that will be an appropriate remedy. If they’re right, then the take down was wrong to begin with.

        “If the same user re-uploads the same content or other content that they do not have permission for they require the content creator to jump through the same hoops again.”

        So? The same rationale exists the second time as the first: Google is in no position to know that the same user lacks permission the second time. There is no database of licensing that can be consulted, no way to know whether the user is behaving honestly. Only the copyright holder (again, not the mere author) can possibly know, and only the copyright holder can be trusted to take the initiative here; Google would grossly overstep their rightful place if they took down content of their own accord as if they were the copyright holder.

        You want the Internet to be run by psychics or something, with the impossible demands you place on service providers.

        “Additionally they supply revenue to their violating user who allow them to place adverts on the violating pages.”

        Money still held by Google that is owed to the user can be recovered in a successful infringement suit, relatively easily. Money that’s already been paid out to the infringing user has to be recovered from the user, obviously. What would you have Google do? Never pay any of the people who provide them ad space on the grounds that maybe, possibly, they’re pirates who don’t justly deserve the money, even though a goodly number of people are not pirates?

        Again, your demands are ludicrous.

        I agree that commercial infringement, including cases in which infringement is used as a draw for commercial advertising space, is a problem that the law should deal with. Destroying all commercial advertising, and pretty much the entirety of the Internet, is not a good way of dealing with it, however. The cure would be worse than the disease.

        “Did you not know that Google’s business is to spunk adverts in your face?”

        I’m intellectually aware of it. I also block ads like crazy, so it’s actually pretty rare for one to get through.

        “They don’t actually create any thing themselves that you want to view, they are simply a middleman between you and your ultimate destination.”

        Create no. Facilitate, yes, they’re reasonably good at. Middlemen can add useful value. I mean, Lexis and Westlaw don’t write laws or opinions, but pretty much every lawyer pays them handsomely to provide search tools so that we can find the material (itself typically in the public domain) that we’re interested in. Finding the right legal information without a middleman would be apocalyptically daunting. Personally, I’d like to see the government step in and provide this service free to all, to improve access to justice, but some middleman is simply necessary.

        Automated searching and indexing has been tremendous. I have concerns with privacy issues involving Google due to their nature as an advertising company, but their search services have been quite valuable and should not be sneezed at.

        “Today they pay Mozilla $300 million a year to make it the default browser. If it was really better they wouldn’t need to do that.”

        They would if someone worse was willing to pay more, and Mozilla preferred money over quality, and Google valued being Mozilla’s default. Grocery stores charge food companies for shelf space; carrots may be better for you than nachos, but the nacho companies pay better than the carrot farmers, so guess who gets the most linear feet?

        “Really? 30 years ago. I’d pick up a phone in Europe call a publisher in New York and have a book in my hand a couple of weeks later. Or I’d call a company in Pasadena and have a part a few days later. 50 years ago I’d go to my local library flip through the card indexes and have a book within a week.”

        Amazon’s services as a middleman for used book sellers still trumps your counter examples. I just bought an old, obscure, out-of-print book very cheaply. The publisher hasn’t got any copies and doesn’t care to have any more, and the library isn’t in the business of selling their collection.

        “Instant access does not a culture make.”

        Doesn’t hurt.

        “It doesn’t promote the arts or sciences.”

        Distribution promotes the progress of science. What good does a new book do for society if it can’t get distributed widely? Publishers, wholesalers, and retailers all play essential roles. Many countries have recognized this to such an extent that they protect businesses like bookstores from some competition for cultural reasons.

        “a digital version is not at all convenient to use”

        Depends on the situation, but I agree that the displays, typesetting, layout, etc. of e-books are really quite inferior. It’ll get there someday, though.

        “Music is the same. I probably have 150 albums as downloads. There is something missing with them.”

        That seems to be a subjective opinion. Music can fairly easily be downloaded (even legitimately) losslessly at CD quality or better. In most listening environments, typical MP3s are fine.

      • John Warr says:

        “84 Charing Cross Road” wasn’t complete fiction. I have emailed lists of rare and out-of-print books sent to me every month by 3 antiquarian book sellers, 2 specialists in Natural History books regularly update me on new stock or discounted books, a couple of others send me a printed listing every six months. Most of that has happened for the last 20 years. On a shelf I have a book with a list of most of the second hand booksellers in the UK, what they specialize in and an indication of whether their prices are reasonable or not, in the past if was looking for something I’d phone around. Since the mid 1980s I’ve had booksellers search for books for me, my local bookseller, who specialised in law and philosophy, was quite good at that. Though in recent years he’s stopped as he says there is no profit in it. Its sad in a way because the stock has withered in interest, and there is little point now in dropping in and scanning the shelves for 30 minutes or so. Prior to Amazon there were a number of places that listed OOP books, abebooks still does.

        None of this is new. Amazon provides me with nothing that I couldn’t do before, and I suspect that those listing OOP books there are also listing them elsewhere too.

        Digital books are, to me, less convenient. It is not possible to manipulate a digital book in the same way you can a physical book. For reference type books you need to be able to quickly skim the pages that just isn’t possible with digital versions.

        The bottom line is that Amazon provides a one stop shop. That may be convenient useful to some but it hasn’t actually added much.

        I don’t require psychics I require common sense. If people are compaining about image X today, the site almost certainly won’t have obtained permission 1 hour after a takedown. Indeed its the Adsense money that promotes this class of commercial infringements. Most of the sites just wouldn’t exist without the Adsense program.

        Think that Google’s search is any good? Try jacobean sculpture … I’m damned sure there must be something better out there on the subject than my tag index.

      • “The bottom line is that Amazon provides a one stop shop. That may be convenient useful to some but it hasn’t actually added much.”

        You forgot the “to me” part at the end of your statement. As Anonymous responded quite eloquently to your other arguments, there is no need to rehash what should be obvious. YOU may not see value, which is fine, that does not however mean value is non-existent and therefore is not a solid basis for criticism of a company or it’s service unless you are specifically talking about YOUR opinion and not commenting on the aforementioned company/service in an objective manner.

        “I don’t require psychics I require common sense. If people are compaining about image X today, the site almost certainly won’t have obtained permission 1 hour after a takedown. Indeed its the Adsense money that promotes this class of commercial infringements. Most of the sites just wouldn’t exist without the Adsense program.

        Think that Google’s search is any good? Try jacobean sculpture … I’m damned sure there must be something better out there on the subject than my tag index.”

        So what you are saying is that Google’s service has no value, yet it is their service that makes infringement profitable?

        Google does not control the only search index, and they are not the only source of ad revenue. So as you said, there “must” be something better out there, do you honestly believe this other service has the power over its users that you attribute to Google?

        No.

      • AudioNomics says:

        anon-“Destroying all commercial advertising, and pretty much the entirety of the Internet, is not a good way of dealing with it, however…”

        Oh, please. Would you all quit with the “break the internet” melodrama? Surely not every legislative or voluntary agreement will break the internet (if that’s even frigging possible, which it isn’t..). If you refer to “change” as “breaking”, then I’m sorry… you are a dinosaur that needs to adapt!

      • John Warr says:

        YOU may not see value, which is fine, that does not however mean value is non-existent and therefore is not a solid basis for criticism of a company or it’s service

        What I provide is an antidote to the nonsense that Google, Amazon et al are like “Lily the Pink” – saviours of the human race. They provide services which some find useful, but if they weren’t there life would continue on, the world wouldn’t stop, and most people’s lives would be unchanged.

        So what you are saying is that Google’s service has no value, yet it is their service that makes infringement profitable?

        Indeed. See above. What they provide is pretty poor if you remove the rosy tint from your spectacles. Either that or the internet has a woeful paucity of information on many subjects. Perhaps people aren’t that discerning after all they flock to wikipedia a pus filled carbuncle is ever there were. That other search engines return the same type of results is part of the point being made Google is no better than the others, there is no way better.

        If you take a good hard look you’ll discover this.

      • “They provide services which some find useful, but if they weren’t there life would continue on, the world wouldn’t stop, and most people’s lives would be unchanged.”

        Do you know why it would remain unchanged? Because some other service would step in and take their place. You are ignoring the underlying technology of these “middlemen” and the way in which it has changed communication, fulfillment, collaboration, etc.

        Yes the world is bigger than any particular company. But what you are suggesting is akin to saying removing all cell phones would not have an impact on the world. Or TV’s. Or cars. Yes people would adapt, yes the world would go on, no it would not do so without consequence. You are not looking at the bigger picture, and in most cases neither is David. Certainly not Audionomics. Shortsighted is an understatement.

        “Perhaps people aren’t that discerning after all they flock to wikipedia a pus filled carbuncle is ever there were. That other search engines return the same type of results is part of the point being made Google is no better than the others, there is no way better.”

        If this is your experience, and what you believe. You are doing it wrong. Like using a screwdriver to pound in a nail. The internet and these services are tools, with areas of usefulness that far outweighs the potential abuse or misuse of said services.

        As a user I feel it my responsibility to vett the sources of information I use. To look for counter points as well as examine issues from various points of view. I make it a point to verify as much as is possible.

        Google is in fact just a search index. But the clean way in which the results are presented is one of the reasons it has grown. And as has been pointed out to you and others MANY times, Google does not run the internet. The point of the service is not to protect yours or anyone elses interests. They provide links to information, nothing more.

        They promote information that people pay to have promoted. This is no secret. If you do not like their service, by all means use another, or none at all. But as you said, the world will continue to turn regardless of what you do, what you think is best or how you think it should be done.

      • John Warr says:

        what you are suggesting is akin to saying removing all cell phones would not have an impact on the world. Or TV’s

        We aren’t talking about cell phones, or TVs. We are talking about a mail order catalog, and an ad-pusher index to the worlds largest collection of unreliable ‘facts’.

        http://wikipediocracy.com/2015/02/22/the-myth-of-crowdsourcing-at-wikipedia/

      • Anonymous says:

        AudioNomics–
        “Oh, please. Would you all quit with the “break the internet” melodrama? Surely not every legislative or voluntary agreement will break the internet (if that’s even frigging possible, which it isn’t..).”

        Well, this is a concern that a lot of people have, who are in the line of work at issue. While they could be wrong, if anyone is likely to know how various service providers would react in the face of increased liability, it’s the selfsame service providers. So perhaps we should afford them the benefit of the doubt, and conduct an experiment in the meantime to settle the matter:

        You seem to think that greater liability to copyright holders, and greater concessions to the demands placed on internet businesses by otherwise unrelated copyright holders, are not a problem. That’s fair enough, so just prove it. Start up a large-scale video hosting site or something that operates voluntarily, the way that you think everyone should be compelled to behave. If it turns out to be viable, and doesn’t get sued or shut down by meddling copyright holders (and doesn’t have unfair advantages, like licensing arrangements that would not be available to everyone), then your argument will prove to have some merit to it.

        Personally, based on my own skills, knowledge, and experience, I am very skeptical that the Internet would be of much use or fun if the copyright industries had control over it to the degree you desire. (In fact, I think that the Copyright Act and associated caselaw give them too much power now) But I’m happy to be proven wrong, so get cracking.

      • David Newhoff says:

        Anonymous –

        What folks like AN and I resent is the hyperbole in the words “break the Internet,” overlaid on the lie that the Internet belongs to the people, and therefore, the people are best served by keeping the copyright holders in check. The entire line of reasoning is predicated on bullshit because “the Internet” belongs to about 20 very wealthy people in Silicon Valley. Now, we can all pretend that isn’t true and continue to have circular debates, or we can accept that there are big, corporate entities on both sides of these issues and then try to determine where in that larger battle the interests of society are best served. Note that ISPs, of course, sit somewhere in the middle of all this as both access providers and content owners. So, if we mere mortals can at least agree that corporations do as they do, which is rarely altruistic, and that the “dream” of the early Web pioneers has clearly been corporatized, then perhaps we can cut through the hyperbole which is largely written by PR people at these corporations.

        Beyond that, though, you continue to assert that copyright is bad, echoing the theme that it stifles innovation, which is a major talking-point of said Internet companies. And on the subject of experimentation, I’d ask you or anyone to prove THIS point. Because I have yet to see any evidence of innovation being stifled. Also, nearly every “innovation” that is championed with regard to entertainment or information media has led to market shrinkage, devaluation of otherwise healthy industry, consolidation, and I will add overvaluation in the financial markets, which is a recipe for yet another massively bursting bubble. So, anytime someone wants to prove the claims that there is untapped social and economic benefit being held back by copyrights, I’d like to hear it. Because the plain fact is that cheap books and videos mean exactly nothing in a society that cannibalizes its own economic stability.

      • John Warr says:

        if anyone is likely to know how various service providers would react in the face of increased liability, it’s the selfsame service providers.

        Its the cost of doing business. They’ve had 15 – 20 years of subsidy from the public, it is about time they paid their way. Why should a shop on the high street be subject to laws that they don’t distribute stolen property and an online not be under any such restrictions? Why should a printed paper have to abide by advertising standards rules and an online paper not be? Why should a cable TV station be subject to rules regarding the broadcast of terrorist material and an online broadcaster not be?

      • John Warr says:

        Beyond that, though, you continue to assert that copyright is bad, echoing the theme that it stifles innovation, which is a major talking-point of said Internet companies.

        What they are complaining about isn’t about innovation in the creative area. Not innovation in film, not innovation in music, not innovation in literature, not innovation in photography. Not innovation in any of those things. No what they are complaining about is that copyright requires to actually pay for the exact copies of things they use.

      • Anonymous says:

        David–
        “overlaid on the lie that the Internet belongs to the people”

        I certainly haven’t been saying this. I’m well aware that the net is dominated by a relatively small number of businesses. As far as I can tell, Internet utopianism hasn’t been taken very seriously for a long while, and has only recently reappeared as a straw man. Certainly that’s how you keep using it. For all that, the net’s still damn useful, though.

        “we can accept that there are big, corporate entities on both sides of these issues and then try to determine where in that larger battle the interests of society are best served”

        Again, I don’t care about big corporate entities of any stripe, and their presence or absence doesn’t concern me.

        “Beyond that, though, you continue to assert that copyright is bad”

        I don’t recall ever saying that. My assertion is that copyright necessarily causes some harm, but is potentially capable of also causing some benefit, and that copyright is worth having when the benefit outweighs the harm, and that we should seek to have copyright which produces the greatest net benefit.

        “Because I have yet to see any evidence of innovation being stifled.”

        Oh, did you not see that Aereo got shut down recently?

        “Also, nearly every “innovation” that is championed with regard to entertainment or information media has led to market shrinkage, devaluation of otherwise healthy industry, consolidation”

        All of that sounds acceptable to me, save for consolidation. New forms of entertainment do, to some extent, cannibalize the existing ones, due to limited creative resources to draw upon, limited entertainment budgets to spend on them, and limited amounts of time available. Remember vaudeville? The movies killed it. Remember the movies? Television put an end to the golden age of cinema; progressive home video improvements have been driving the nails in steadily ever since. So the new killing off the old is okay.

        Consolidation is not so great, but that’s been going on for a long time. Michael Cimino caused UA to have to be sold to MGM; that wasn’t the fault of the Internet. Seagram bought Polygram because both were very successful at the time, and it was felt that a merger would make a ton of money; it wasn’t Napster’s fault, as it hadn’t come online yet.

        “overvaluation in the financial markets”

        Setting aside that the movie, music, and book industries are rightfully not valued very highly by investors (they’re all pretty small potatoes), this is more Wall Street being stupid. They’re overrun with speculators, and speculators have got to speculate on something. And they’ll just keep doing it until the bubble bursts. The subject of the speculation is quite irrelevant. I’ve got no respect for speculation, and only an iota more for the entire finance industry, since there’s probably something useful in there, buried under all the dreck. Whittling them down to size would be fine by me, but it’s a largely unrelated matter.

        ************

        John Warr–
        “Why should a shop on the high street be subject to laws that they don’t distribute stolen property and an online not be under any such restrictions?”

        A pawnbroker may have a hard time telling that a particular item is stolen. The owner of a store selling used books, music, or videogames may have it even worse. Even Christies has had problems with art of dubious provenance (the usual Nazi thing). But at least they all get to see the items and see the seller. How exactly does eBay keep people from using its site to sell stolen property? How does Craigslist?

        “Why should a printed paper have to abide by advertising standards rules and an online paper not be?”

        Well, I can only speak from a US perspective, where we don’t have any such rules. Advertisements are fully protected free speech under the First Amendment so long as the advertisement concerns some lawful subject matter, unless the government can show a sufficiently important interest, and a regulation that directly advances that interest, but which goes no further than necessary. There’s no distinction made between paper and online at all, and there are few valid restraints on ads; attempts to restrain ads usually fail. The FCC claims that over-the-air transmissions are special due to the public nature of radio spectrum, but they appear to be slowly losing support for this argument. Advertisers that are deathly afraid of incurring the wrath of moralistic busybodies are the real check.

        “Why should a cable TV station be subject to rules regarding the broadcast of terrorist material and an online broadcaster not be?”

        If there are rules specially regulating the content of cable TV, I don’t know of them. There’s the ‘material support’ crap, but that’s applied to any form of speech (and should be applied to none).

        You sure aren’t doing a good job of making the UK sound appealing, I’ll tell you that.

        “What they are complaining about isn’t about innovation in the creative area.”

        No, it’s innovation in distribution. Something like peer-to-peer file sharing is an innovative way of making information widespread. Distribution is essential to promote the progress of science.

      • David Newhoff says:

        Anonymous —

        On the one hand you say the “copyright kills innovation” is not your opinion and is a straw man; on the other hand you cite Aereo as an example of copyright killing innovation. Or perhaps I misinterpret. Suffice to say, I think we define innovation differently. Simply because something is technologically new does not, in my opinion, make it automatically innovative. And this is where the economics, including market valuations are very relevant. I’ve stated that I have no philosophical argument against true creative destruction, but a vast amount of money is being invested in “innovations” like Aereo that are not based on adding something new (e.g. television to compete with movies), but are rather based on siphoning value out of existing assets produced by other investors. This is a model for creating short-term profits for a handful of people, a free-for-all for consumers for a brief period of time, and then overall shrinkage in the market that has been disrupted without replacing that loss with anything new. That is simply destructive destruction.

        You reference “new forms of entertainment,” but that’s not at issue. Amazon didn’t win Emmy’s by creating a new form of entertainment; it produced a new TV show delivered through a different pipe. And not only did copyright not stop that from happening, it would not have happened without copyright. Streaming TV models like Netflix, etc. is an innovation that is transforming the way people (including me) watch this kind of programming; and if that ends the traditional broadcaster, so be it. That would be a fair example of what you’re talking about. Aereo is not, and neither is YouTube’s ability to monetize infringement.

        As an aside, I don’t agree that TV killed the golden age of Hollywood, but that’s because I think the golden age happened roughly between the mid-1960s and Star Wars. That was a golden period when the big studios were producing the kind of fare we today would call “indie,” and Hollywood killed its own golden age. I’m no apologist for any industry corporatizing its own soul, and it sounds like we can both agree that consolidation is not conducive to healthy markets or diverse creative works. But it isn’t accurate to compare all of the change happening in the digital age as creative destruction. This isn’t about audiences leaving Vaudeville theaters to go see the flickers instead — a market shift in which they stop paying for old and start paying for the new. This about a guy with a sandwich board on his shoulders telling the crowd, “I have a secret way to get you into any theater for free,” because he gets paid for every pair of eyes that see his sandwich board.

      • John Warr says:

        No, it’s innovation in distribution. Something like peer-to-peer file sharing is an innovative way of making information widespread. Distribution is essential to promote the progress of science.

        For P2P to be useful it requires a large number of people to be downloading the same data at the same time. Science data does not have the 1000s of people downloading multi gigabyte files at the same time. Those that do download that amount of science data do so via government, university, or research business that aren’t typically limited to a few mbits/.sec download, and are typically being transmitted to a few people at most. Whilst the BBC initially used p2p to transmit its iPlayer service it hasn’t done it that way in 6 or more years. In reality p2p is not “essential to promote the progress of science” it is used 99% for distributed ripped films, music, and books.

      • Anonymous says:

        David–
        “On the one hand you say the “copyright kills innovation” is not your opinion and is a straw man; on the other hand you cite Aereo as an example of copyright killing innovation. Or perhaps I misinterpret.”

        I didn’t say that ‘copyright kills innovation’ is a strawman. I said that the idea that the Internet will produce some sort of utopian anarchy is a strawman. And while I don’t believe I’ve said that copyright necessarily kills innovation, or that copyright and innovation cannot coexist, or even that there have never been innovations that arose due to copyright and related matters, there is a certain antipathy. It’s not unique to copyright, though. It’s just typical disruptive innovation, threatening established players who retaliate against it. We’ve discussed this subject a number of times before.

        The Aereo case actually had an interesting example of it: Aereo built on the previous work of Cablevision, which offered a similar cloud-based DVR service. Yet while Cablevision was happy to develop a new technology that users found convenient, yet which was arguably harmful to networks, it still filed a brief in opposition to Aereo, because how dare Aereo offer anything better than Cablevision!

        “Simply because something is technologically new does not, in my opinion, make it automatically innovative.”

        If it’s a new technology (or even a new use for an existing technology, or a new improvement on an existing technology) and it’s not obsolete from the get-go (e.g. Polavision), then I’d say it’s innovative. Whether it does well commercially, or whether it betters society are separate questions. Innovation does not guarantee that something is good, but stagnation guarantees that we’ll never find new good things. So we’ve got to try new things anyway.

        “a vast amount of money is being invested in “innovations” like Aereo that are not based on adding something new (e.g. television to compete with movies), but are rather based on siphoning value out of existing assets produced by other investors”

        Aereo did add something new; it was a great improvement on TV reception and viewing devices. It didn’t siphon value out of cable companies, because it bypassed them altogether, and didn’t rely on their assets (other than possibly if they were providing Internet connectivity, but anyone can do that). Nor did it siphon value out of broadcasters; it picked up OTA signals, just as any antenna would, and displayed them with whatever ads the broadcaster ran, just as any antenna would. It bypassed cable carriage fees no worse than if the viewer just had a bigger antenna. Television generally though, is no more than radio with pictures, and when old movies started to be shown on TV, this started to kill off small theaters that re-ran old movies. When home video came along, that finished the job. The first movie I ever saw in a theater had been re-running in theaters for over thirty years at the time. Now a big-city arthouse theater might on occasion show a print of an old classic, but it’s not a regular thing. Small theater owners got massacred, and their investments went south. Neighborhood theaters mostly went out of business, and chain, first run multiplexes out in the burbs took over. But I have a better selection now, and it’s cheaper, so aside from nostalgia, how can I complain?

        I think your argument is really based more on which innovations you are personally comfortable with, and which you aren’t, and not some underlying principle.

        “This about a guy with a sandwich board on his shoulders telling the crowd, “I have a secret way to get you into any theater for free,” because he gets paid for every pair of eyes that see his sandwich board.”

        Well, if it’s profitable enough, the theater folks should get into the sandwich board industry. A reluctance to follow where the money goes, and to instead insist that it come like it always has is that conservatism again. Longshoremen would’ve seen containerized shipping just like this: it was a guy finding a way to cut costs — the cost of paying so many workers, and having ships in port for so long — because it was profitable for him. If cheap teleporters were invented tomorrow, we’d enjoy the paradox of pervasive transportation (If they’re both as convenient, why buy a freezer and pay for the electricity to run it, when you can just get a cubic meter of Siberia?) while the profits of the transportation industry fell off a cliff. (No more airlines, shipping, delivery trucks, mail, hotels, major road work, cars, large ships, trains, etc., save for hobbyists and museums and a few other small niches)

        The key thing, I think, is that you are conflating the theater (i.e. the room, not like plays and things) with the actual movie. People are happy to get around the costs and inconvenience of going to the theater to watch a movie, or even of renting discs, or of paying for paid streaming, etc., but there is still clearly demand to watch the movie. (Except to the extent that that demand is reduced by other forms of entertainment, which you agree is okay)

        What the movie industry needs to do is to stop trying to make money from distributors who in turn make money by selling access to the movie, whether by a seat in a theater, or by renting or selling a disc, or by charging for a download, and it needs to start trying to make money from the one thing they’ve got that there is demand for, which is the movie itself. My feeling is that this means getting people to pay to help finance the movie. Once the movie is made, treat them as any other investors, entitled to a share of the profits (real profits, not Hollywood accounting profits), and while attempts should be made to commercially exploit the movie, non-commercial piracy should at worst be ignored, at best be encouraged, since it’s going to happen anyway. But other methods of making money from a movie that don’t require controlling how ordinary folks behave are also worth exploring.

        But this might mean there’s less money, and it certainly means stepping out of the comfortable rut the industry has been in for many years, and so it’ll surely involve a certain amount of being dragged kicking and screaming, rather than taking a novel form of risk.

        ****************

        John Warr–
        “For P2P to be useful it requires a large number of people to be downloading the same data at the same time.”

        That’s not true. It requires a number of people to have the sought-after data. How large the number needs to be depends on how much it’s wanted; the more people want it, the more people need to have it to provide it. This usually takes care of itself, since once someone else gets it, now they’re a provider.

        “In reality p2p is not “essential to promote the progress of science””

        Distribution is essential; P2P is just a form of distribution. It’s no more essential than, say, bookstores. (After all, we could all just order individual copies straight from the publisher) So long as distribution is occurring, the question of how best to do it can be answered by the market. The popularity of P2P among pirates suggests that there’s reasonable demand for it as a method.

      • John Warr says:

        Er no! If there is a 700Mb file that I want and one supplier of it then there is a only the ability to download the file (S) at the speed that the supplier of the file can provide, this may be much slower than the speed that I can accept the data (R). If there are two suppliers with a speed of (S) then I can download from both simultaneously at a rate of (2S), if three then (3S) until W=nS. The more people wanting the file, the slower S is so n needs to be larger. That is what the “taking care of” signifies. Typically the popularity of a large science file is small enough that p2p does not affect the speed by which it can downloaded.

        P2P is most significant when the popularity of a file exceeds the ability of one supplier to provide it at a reasonable rate. This tends to be pirate networks, where the files reside on home computers with slow upload speeds.

      • John Warr says:

        Government advisor calls for reform of “Safe harbor laws”


        “The landlord cannot be held liable for what goes on in that garage, no matter what the activity is… It is not the landlord breaking the law and it is hidden from his view. But if the landlord is told that the garage is being used for illegal activity, and that this information is from a totally reliable source, then does the landlord have a moral obligation to report it? I would argue that it is the duty of every citizen or company to do what they can to stop illegal activity and therefore the answer is, yes, the landlord should report the activity.”

        “The limitations on liabilities were designed to protect honest operators – they were never intended as a shield for criminal behaviour, as they are today.”

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/01/modernise_safe_harbour_for_the_tech_oligarch_era_mike_weatherley/

        The report is here
        http://www.mikeweatherleymp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Safe-harbour-provisions-and-online-service-providers-FINAL.pdf

    • sf46 says:

      “At the core, making something publicly available has always been, first and foremost, my choice.”

      This is silly. It’s one of those things that’s completely true in the abstract but not at all true in actual functional life.
      Nobody forces you to work, either. You are free to walk in the wilderness (whether urban or rural) scrounging an existence off anything you can find that your body can digest and turn into energy. So why have rules about what you’re allowed to do to workers? Nobody makes you work!

      Maybe your a hardcore libertarian who doesn’t think there should be any rules about workplace safety or exploitation or pay. I differ for reasons that should be obvious, even if you don’t agree with them. In a similar manner I think exposing things you make to the public is the main reason for making them and there should be reasonable protections for the maker.

      • There are “reasonable” protections. Lot’s of them. And don’t confuse “publicly available” with “free to use an exploit”. We can in fact control distribution of our work, to an extent. If I choose to create my own site, with my own security, and my own means of dissemination, I am free to push whatever I like to MY userbase. When I utilize a third party, I sacrifice some of that control as to gain access to whatever features they have created that suit my needs.

        It is still my choice. Reasonable expectations are one thing. Expecting complete control once you have put something into a public space, be it moderated or not does not fall under the category of “reasonable”.

        Regardless of what that service may provide, it is still ultimately MY responsibility to monitor my work. The fact that it becomes harder the more widespread it becomes does not excuse me of that responsibility.

      • sf46 says:

        “If I choose to create my own site, with my own security, and my own means of dissemination, I am free to push whatever I like to MY userbase. When I utilize a third party, I sacrifice some of that control as to gain access to whatever features they have created that suit my needs.”

        This is just factually untrue. For instance: There are plenty of people who have released things only on physical media and then found the data on that media ripped and plastered all over. That’s how this whole public argument about copyright got started(!). And that problem is still the main one. Unless you consider committing ideas to any media to be utilizing a “third party”. If so, well we don’t have much to talk about.

      • “This is just factually untrue. For instance: There are plenty of people who have released things only on physical media and then found the data on that media ripped and plastered all over.”

        Key word, RELEASED. As such YOUR recourse would be to go after any instances of your work that YOU did not authorize. But just as you can’t stop someone from hearing or seeing work you put out on the street, as of right now, there is no way that I know of to stop people from copying creative works that can be seen/heard. None.

        So then what is a possible solution, other than tracking down every instance of your work, everywhere, all the time?

        Focus on legitimate usage. Make your work freely available(no that does not mean free). Make it easier for legitimate customers to access through you or your distributor than it would be to pirate/copy. Accept that someone who rips a CD from a friend is NOT a customer. They were never going to buy your work and move on. Continue to go after piracy as a whole, no doubt. Shut down sites that are in clear violation, and seek recompense for any ACTUAL infringement. But let go of the expectation that your work is now, or has EVER been completely in your control once released for the masses.

      • AudioNomics says:

        AV, you’re funny..
        you always seem to argue what nobody said was even a problem. I think you have this ‘idea’ in your head of who you are arguing against (probably read too much techdirt) that is just so far off base as to be laughable.

      • “you always seem to argue what nobody said was even a problem.”

        I am not “arguing” anything. Creative works have value to both the creator and to the consumer, sadly they do not always align. Creative works do in fact generate a profit. For some that profit is huge, despite piracy, despite copyright infringement. How is this possible?

        It appears to be a simple matter of numbers. More money is generated in sales than is lost to infringement or piracy. So one factor in regards to people making a living selling their works is IN FACT the demand for that work, both legitimate AND illegal.

        A small time creator is affected more by illegitimate usage of their work. That is a fact, but it does not change the realities of public distribution.

        So ONE way in which small time creators can minimize the impact of such things is to be more conscious of how their work is being used, sold, etc, and fashion their business strategy around their product.

        Honestly, this isn’t that complicated.

      • AudioNomics says:

        ..wow, all those words and yet you said precisely nothing.

      • It is not my fault that you are so set in your own ways as to not see anything other than what you want to see…

      • AudioNomics says:

        Yes, I’m soo set in my ways that I will never see getting robbed as anything other than a negative life experience…
        sorry I don’t have the religious tech holier than thou can do no wrong never ever no matter what brainwashed viewpoint..

      • “Yes, I’m soo set in my ways that I will never see getting robbed as anything other than a negative life experience…
        sorry I don’t have the religious tech holier than thou can do no wrong never ever no matter what brainwashed viewpoint.”

        I have no such viewpoint. Tech is a tool, nothing more. How that tool is used is just as much the responsibility of the person holding it, as the company who made it. Stanley is not responsible, just because they made a hammer that COULD kill someone should you decide to use it to do so. Lowes is not responsible for not running a background check on the guy who buys it to do so.

        Is a company like Google more responsible than in an instance like that? Of course. But in the end so are we.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Great article as usual David and right on point. Copyright Maximalist is just a smear by the Copyleft, aka bad progressives as opposed to the good ones who do care, who hate copyright protections since all they are is looters and freehadists. The number one problem in the music business is everyone is economically trapped by their political ideology. In other words as ol’ Ayn Rand would say, these music copyright owners, “sanction their own sacrifice (aka royalties)” with their own “dangerous” and “bankrupt philosophy” — aka $.00 cents per-stream is good. 🙂

  11. overviper says:

    IMO exactly the right thing happened in the “Blurred Lines” decision. As most people on this blog know, I’m against the copyright cure that’s worse than the disease of piracy. But I listened to both tracks. They stole it. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it happen, but it wasn’t “inspired by”, it wasn’t “an homage to”…they took the track and then came up with some new lyrics. The process played out in a courtroom where a jury decided that they infringed on the Marvin Gaye song.

    Personally, I’m in favor of far more “Fair Use” and looser copyright laws…but where I draw my line is here…If you don’t have the creativity to come up with your own original music, you don’t get to take from someone else and call it “yours”.

    In my opinion, Marvin’s estate should have gotten ALL the money.

  12. Most of us who are working to protect copyright — and I use the word “protect” as opposed to reform or strengthen — are simply artists (musicians, painters, photographers, authors, etc., all of which I am) who would like to be able to earn a living from our work. I resent anyone who wants things to be free, because things are not free for me — I still have to pay rent, buy food, and use public transportation, pay rehearsal studio fees, pay for instrument repair, buy art supplies, etc., all of which are not free. When someone is willing to spend hundreds on a concert, that’s their choice. However, when someone chooses not to spend 99 cents for a song download, but to rather, copy it illegally, they have violated both the creator’s copyright, and devalued the artist’s work. What is so difficult about respecting copyright? I don’t call people “freetards” — but anyone who doesn’t understand that artists can only survive by protecting their copyright and earning (however small) an income they can manage from it, should be educated about the reality of what they are really doing, which is stealing — even if the internet shields them from the artist they so blithely steal from. And I still don;t understand why they think they can do it with impugnity while claiming that “all artists are rich” or that they’re “sticking it to the record companies.” They must not have a clue that most of us who work in the arts are not the Beyonces or Taylor Swifts (earning millions) but live at — or under — the poverty level. I have been supporting copyright and IP protection since I wrote an Open Letter back in 2009 (on my website, http://www.leighharrison.com) and I still see that there are many people who just don’t “get it” in terms of what violating an artist’s copyright does to creative people financially — nor what it does to those who steal, morally.

    • ” I resent anyone who wants things to be free, because things are not free for me — I still have to pay rent, buy food, and use public transportation, pay rehearsal studio fees, pay for instrument repair, buy art supplies, etc., all of which are not free.”

      I would LOVE to make music for a living. The reason that I don’t? Because I have a house, a car, bills, need food, etc… There are a lot of things I would like to do for a living that don’t pay the bills for one reason or another, does that mean I should be guaranteed a living wage just because I WANT to do something other than write code all day?

      I spent 8 hours in the studio yesterday with my band, on our dime. It was a lot of work, with a lot more ahead of us to turn the tracks we recorded into something we want to release. Does that effort mean we deserve compensation? Should I go door to door once the project is done hoping someone gives me the time to present my work, then hoping they are willing to pay me for putting in the time?

      My point is that the value of our effort does not simply come from the effort. And putting it online will be ONE way in which we can get people interested enough to MAYBE drop a few bucks. And should I play a show, should I expect the club to soundproof the room so that no one who is not paying to get in is able to hear us play? What about the other bands playing at the same time, in another club? Should I expect them to charge the same fee, or wait until we are done so as not to cut into our potential profit?

      There are lots of artists, lots of different ideas about how creative works should be presented. With no consensus as to what has value or what that value might be, how are we as artists supposed to gauge a fair price for our work? A 3 minute song is 99 cents, mine is 6 minutes, does that mean I have twice the value?

      There are many factors that make profiting from creative works difficult. Infringement and piracy are but a few.

      “They must not have a clue that most of us who work in the arts are not the Beyonces or Taylor Swifts (earning millions) but live at — or under — the poverty level. ”

      How is that the consumers fault? There are many reasons why some artists make millions while others languish in obscurity. Just because some are profitable does not mean all creative works are worthy of a profit.

      But there are ways to get the most buck for your bang, so to speak. In this day and age, what seems to be more and more viable is community development. Get the support of your fans, be it 10 or 10000. Grow with your community and allow them to help you in not only protecting but also promoting your work.

      One thing I would like to see is more cooperation between artists. Don’t just account for your work, but also the works of your peers.

    • LOL, I am not hiding anything. I picked that avatar long before I decided to post here. As for my interest in creative works, I do what I can. Been making music for about 20 years. Been doing other design almost as long. If the fact that I chose to pursue a career in IT/Development makes me less of an artist in your eyes, so be it. I promise it will have absolutely no impact on my ability to create art.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Leigh–
    “Most of us who are working to protect copyright — and I use the word “protect” as opposed to reform or strengthen”

    ‘Protect’ is functionally the same as ‘strengthen’ here. Laws never get perfectly enforced; think of how many people speed every day, and how few of them ever actually get pulled over and ticketed. I for one jaywalk nearly anytime I have to cross a street (just like everyone else around here), but I’ve never so much as heard of anyone getting in trouble for it, even though it is technically against the law.

    If these laws were, somehow, perfectly enforced, or even just enforced more — such that going even 1 mph over the limit had a 50/50 chance of landing you a ticket — and people would go berserk. Red light cameras are a good example: Everyone understands the need for not running red lights, and why it’s dangerous. But cameras that always catch every offender are so despised that a number of states have banned them, and politicians have won office campaigning on promises to remove them.

    Copyright is bad enough as it is. The more that even the current laws are enforced, the more opposition to them will grow. ‘Protecting’ them is counterproductive. It would be far better to reform copyright laws to a level that most people not only found to basically be agreeable, but which they also tended to respect as a simple matter of cultural norms (rather than due to laughable, ham-fisted propoganda efforts or pervasive monitoring).

    “who would like to be able to earn a living from our work”

    Who wouldn’t like to earn a living from their work? But it doesn’t always happen, not in any field. Lack of living wages has become a common complaint in more fields than just yours. It’s not a copyright-specific issue.

    “I resent anyone who wants things to be free, because things are not free for me”

    Well, I ignore your resentment, and I want you to know that I want things to be free for you too.

    “However, when someone chooses not to spend 99 cents for a song download, but to rather, copy it illegally, they have violated both the creator’s copyright, and devalued the artist’s work.”

    Out of curiosity, how does it devalue the work? Do you just mean in the ordinary sense that, because fewer people are willing to pay for it, it’s worth less in a dollars and cents way? Because I don’t see how it could be seen as devaluing it in an artistic sense. In fact, that people are willing to engage in unlawful actions which carry the risk of massive civil penalties and which often as not are also federal felonies, just to get a work, makes it sound to me that they probably consider it to have quite a fair bit of artistic value.

    “artists can only survive by protecting their copyright and earning (however small) an income they can manage from it”

    That’s simply not true. It is possible to survive and earn an income from creative work without relying on copyrights (or relying on someone who is relying on copyrights). I know; I’ve done it.

    “should be educated about the reality of what they are really doing, which is stealing”

    So I’m interested in Andrew’s thoughts on that statement.

    “And I still don;t understand why they think they can do it with impugnity while claiming that ‘all artists are rich” or that they’re “sticking it to the record companies.'”

    Well, I agree that there’s some ignorance there, but part of the desire to ‘stick it to record companies’ probably stems from what’s seen as offensive and oppressive attacks on infringers by publishers. This is sort of like that red light camera thing I mentioned before. For example, Joel Tenenbaum got sued for infringement, lost, and was ordered to pay damages of over a half a million dollars… for infringing on the copyrights of 30 songs. For a lot of people watching the case, this looks like a few big businesses (some of them are subsidiaries of multi-billion dollar firms) going up against a little guy for an offense which not only seems to be trivial, but which almost everyone in the country has probably engaged in by now. (The other night, I was chatting before a concert with a sweet old lady, who it turns out, regularly pirates music. I was a little surprised, but in retrospect, I don’t see why I should’ve been; the same thing used to happen with cassette tapes back in the day) When you can see what appear to be giant companies crush ordinary people, just like you, for doing something no worse than the things you do, and which doesn’t seem that bad anyway, and where the things in question are things you want to do regardless, well, I think the claim of sticking it to record companies is not particularly surprising.

    “They must not have a clue that most of us who work in the arts are not the Beyonces or Taylor Swifts (earning millions) but live at — or under — the poverty level.”

    That is entirely possible. But that doesn’t mean that they’re completely in left field either.

    “nor what it does to those who steal, morally”

    I don’t think there’s a moral factor here. Pirating music is not a gateway crime that leads to school shootings, or eating babies, or anything like that. I’ve already suggested that a light touch is a better strategy for you to salvage something out of copyright; that there is some kernel of it remaining that the same people you’re upset with are perfectly happy to support, and which they view as sensible. Now I would add to that, that if you want to succeed at preserving copyright in the face of the nigh-universal disrespect of it that we’ve come to, it would also be a good idea to 1) not denigrate or slur the people who you are going to have to convince to respect it more (since compelled respect is clearly not working), and 2) that shrill language (your ‘Reefer Madness’ schtick) is also not going to help you be taken seriously, nor garner you sympathy.

    Good luck!

    • AudioNomics says:

      anon- Still need to argue strawmen to have an argument, I see..
      As if 99% of the working artists are rich (not).
      As if individuals are being sued ala Tenenbaum (not)..
      ..As if Tenenbaum didn’t have ample opportunity to get rid of the charges cheaply (which still are a federal crime btw, whether you like it or not), but instead tried to take on copyright itself in court (probably not such a good idea when you’re as guilty as they come).
      As if the general public doesn’t have a clue about these thing except the anti-copyright propaganda the likes of of you and a two TRILLION dollar marketcap segment of business that happen to profit handily from illegal means of copying, and youre included as you work for these folk at lawerly rates. So please don’t pretend to be the grassroots… you are not it, if it even exists… because all we’ve seen in that regard is astroturf.

    • Sam Flintlock says:

      @Anonymous

      As an aside, I really wish you’d choose a more original pseudonym Purely on practical grounds. It always takes me a moment to make sure I’m talking to you and not a different anonymous!

      Copyright is bad enough as it is. The more that even the current laws are enforced, the more opposition to them will grow. ‘Protecting’ them is counterproductive. It would be far better to reform copyright laws to a level that most people not only found to basically be agreeable, but which they also tended to respect as a simple matter of cultural norms (rather than due to laughable, ham-fisted propoganda efforts or pervasive monitoring).

      It’s simply not possible to talk about reform without at least an element of enforcement though. Levine has a good example here. While, in a theoretical sense, copyright terms probably are too long and need shortening, that doesn’t just exist in the abstract. You can’t look at it without recognising that, practically, many works have an actual copyright term of zero at the moment. Entirely unenforced copyright laws (which seem to be what you’re calling for, at least in the current situation) are to all intents and purposes identical to having no copyright laws.

      Lack of living wages has become a common complaint in more fields than just yours. It’s not a copyright-specific issue.

      Obviously. But we mostly talk about it in relation to copyright here because of the general remit of the blog, no? It doesn’t mean that people don’t have views on the lack of a living wage in other sectors. They may even do political work around the issue.

      Well, I ignore your resentment, and I want you to know that I want things to be free for you too.

      Again, that’s theoretical, not practical. Yes, in some kind of post-money neo-Marxist utopia, the rules of the game are going to be very different. But until that time, people need to eat and have shelter and all these other things that, sadly, are not free as of the current historical period. I’m of the view that, at the very least, the basics of survival should be provided free. But I also recognise that isn’t the case.

      Well, I agree that there’s some ignorance there, but part of the desire to ‘stick it to record companies’ probably stems from what’s seen as offensive and oppressive attacks on infringers by publishers. This is sort of like that red light camera thing I mentioned before. For example, Joel Tenenbaum got sued for infringement, lost, and was ordered to pay damages of over a half a million dollars… for infringing on the copyrights of 30 songs. For a lot of people watching the case, this looks like a few big businesses (some of them are subsidiaries of multi-billion dollar firms) going up against a little guy for an offense which not only seems to be trivial, but which almost everyone in the country has probably engaged in by now.

      (…)

      When you can see what appear to be giant companies crush ordinary people, just like you, for doing something no worse than the things you do, and which doesn’t seem that bad anyway, and where the things in question are things you want to do regardless, well, I think the claim of sticking it to record companies is not particularly surprising.

      What, in the name of all that you hold good and holy, has that got to do with Leigh Harrison? She’s not part of the corporate industry machine. Look at her site. She’s not on Sony or EMI. She’s on Songcrew. Who, from what I can tell, seem to be a label she’s involved in setting up herself. (Leigh can correct me if I’m wrong).

      Songcrew didn’t install rootkits on people’s computers or any of the crap the majors have done. Even on a purely theoretical level, I don’t understand how you can possibly see this as some kind of punishment for previous actions. That’s taking the idea of collective punishment way too far. Because Leigh Harrison and people like her have absolutely nothing to do with that. It’s the equivalent of punching random Muslims in the face to protest against Osama Bin Laden.

      I’d also suggest that, despite your intentions, you are taking an objectively pro major label stance here. Because you’re helping them in their attempts to conflate themselves with the indies and DIY artists, which they’re doing a lot. (See the recent Record Store Day controversy if you want to see what the majors and their apologists really think of indie labels).

      Put it like this. I’m still as hardline as I ever was. I still want to destroy the record industry. (Even if it seems that some of those who previously claimed the same didn’t really mean it, I did). But damaging the DIY artists like Leigh runs directly counter to that goal.

      I’ve linked to this before, but it’s worth doing so again as it hits several nails squarely on the head- http://www.mjhibbett.co.uk/songs/song.php?filename=werenotthieveswereconnoisseurs A sample of the lyrics:

      Cos Tesco and Sainsbury rip us off
      So it must be the same for this here village shop
      They all have a huge mark-up, they’re all dead rich
      I saw somebody prove it on a facebook link

      That parody argument is pretty much what you’ve just argued here.

      And note that MJ’s DIY credentials are utterly impeccable. He’s never been involved with the majors in any way, shape or form.

      (The other night, I was chatting before a concert with a sweet old lady, who it turns out, regularly pirates music. I was a little surprised, but in retrospect, I don’t see why I should’ve been; the same thing used to happen with cassette tapes back in the day)

      I don’t think that works as an analogy, because of the heavy involvement of profit-making companies in industrial scale piracy. That’s very different then copying an album for your mates. It’s a lot closer to previous commercial bootlegging operations than anything else.

      That is, at the least, something we can agree on surely? Smashing people making money off other people’s work without permission is both entirely just and doable?

      I don’t think there’s a moral factor here. Pirating music is not a gateway crime that leads to school shootings, or eating babies, or anything like that.

      Straw man. The moral factor is “people deserve to be compensated for their labour” which is absolutely a moral argument. While you can argue that isn’t universal, because it has to be a product someone else is interested in, it still obviously applies here.

      I’ve already suggested that a light touch is a better strategy for you to salvage something out of copyright; that there is some kernel of it remaining that the same people you’re upset with are perfectly happy to support, and which they view as sensible.

      I think you’re massively overestimating the ideological factor here. It’s the case with some outliers- the Pirate Party and some of the people involved in the early days of Napster. But I doubt very much it’s a major motivation for most people pirating these days. It’s a lot more simple; it’s people wanting shit for free. Certainly, the hardcore DIY crowd I know don’t pirate major label content. They boycott it. Because that’s an actual ideological position and they don’t want to do anything to help increase major label domination of the market.

      • “It’s a lot more simple; it’s people wanting shit for free.”

        No. It is even simpler than that. People want VALUE for their money. So the problem is not people “wanting shit for free”. People buy music all of the time, from both indie and big name artists. What people want is some sort of ROI on their purchases. And the consumer has been burned over and over again by both independent artists and the major labels/studios. Sprinklings of quality work filled out with just that “filler”.

        No, I am not going to buy your whole album based off of a promo track and a flashy video. No I am not going to go to the theater to see another rehash of the same story being told by everyone else who fancies themselves a filmmaker.

        Get this through your head, and by all means spread the word to every creator your know. YOU DO NOT DETERMINE THE VALUE OF YOUR WORK!

        The consumer does. If more people pirate you work, or copy it, or watch through their neighbors window than actually buy it. Guess what? It is not valuable. It might be artistically brilliant. It may have taken you ages to create. Still not worth anything until someone is willing to pay for it.

        I spend a lot of time on my music. I love doing it. If over the years we had people beating down the door to hear it, I might have considered doing it for a living. We don’t, so I don’t. And I know for a fact, that my work and the work of my band mates is not shit. You know how I know that? Because a lot of the people who hear us, tell us so. THAT is where I get the value from my work. And I am pretty sure most artists could do the same. I am also sure that most artists could make more money if there was an easier way to get more people in front of what they create.

        I don’t need to be famous. No one does. But 20% of your shit being pirated means a lot less when your audience is 50,000 as opposed to 5000.

        How can we do that? Fine. You are right, piracy is bad, copyright is very important. Everyone who benefits from copyrighted material illegally should be punished. All tech companies should be 100% accountable and the artists should get the lions share. As I said fine. Let’s work towards that utopia.

        In the mean time, how do we get 50k instead of 5? How do we share the space with other artists while carving out our own space? How do I as an artist help another band, filmmaker songwriter to get THEIR work heard, watched?

        Solve that problem and you will see a lot of the others fade away. Why? Because more of an audience, a legitimate audience grants leverage. Over the Google’s, over the major labels, over the pirates.

        “People wanting shit for free…”

        Bullshit. Stop vilifying the consumer and take responsibility for your own work. If it is worth something, then people will respond in kind…

      • Anonymous says:

        AudioNomics–
        “Still need to argue strawmen to have an argument, I see.. As if 99% of the working artists are rich (not).”

        I know they’re not. In fact, it’s more than just 99%. I never said that they were. In fact, I referred to the claim that all artists are rich as being ignorant.

        Who is it precisely that’s relying on strawmen?

        “As if individuals are being sued ala Tenenbaum (not)..”

        Some are. Many more are subject to a system of quasi-legal extortion (Tenenbaum’s case proceeded to suit because he wasn’t willing to pay up initially, and he happened to have the bad luck to be selected for use as an example pour encourager les autres.) This is still going on.

        “As if Tenenbaum didn’t have ample opportunity to get rid of the charges cheaply”

        That would be the quasi-legal extortion.

        “(which still are a federal crime btw, whether you like it or not)”

        No, not all infringement is a federal crime, though certainly far too much of it is. In any case, I already knew this and haven’t said anything to indicate that copyright infringement cannot ever be a federal crime. It just shouldn’t ever be a crime.

        “but instead tried to take on copyright itself in court”

        I was there for Tenenbaum, actually, so trust me when I say that that’s not at all what happened.

        “As if the general public doesn’t have a clue about these thing except the anti-copyright propaganda”

        Pshaw! The general public doesn’t know much about copyright at all. Neither side in this issue has made much of an impact with regard to public awareness. But what gives me hope is that there is a cultural norm with regard to copyright, which most people have internalized, and which is far and away more relaxed than the actual laws are. I believe that the more that copyright becomes an issue of public concern, the more people will realize that the law is out of whack with what is generally felt by members of the public to be appropriate, and this will cause the law to be loosened substantially so that it adheres more closely toward how people actually feel, and what people actually do.

        “a two TRILLION dollar marketcap segment of business that happen to profit handily from illegal means of copying”

        I doubt that they profit much at all from it. I think that the issue is simply that the Internet industry is more concerned with customer service (at least to the extent that customer loyalty is fickle and hard to regain, so you’d better keep them happy, and certainly not upset them or get in their way), and also doesn’t like to have the copyright industry interfering with them, and imposing absurd or impossible demands.

        “and youre included as you work for these folk at lawerly rates”

        I don’t work for them. My copyright clientele are mostly artists of various stripes; authors, fine artists, musicians, etc. (The trademark work tends to be more commercial in nature, although bands are usually good trademark clients in my experience)

        “So please don’t pretend to be the grassroots… you are not it, if it even exists… because all we’ve seen in that regard is astroturf.”

        Sorry, but I’m the real deal. I honestly believe that copyright reform is a good idea. In fact, it would probably not be great for me from a business perspective, but I still support it as being the right thing to do.

        *************

        Sam–
        “It always takes me a moment to make sure I’m talking to you and not a different anonymous!”

        Well, unless you’re combining responses to multiple posts, I’m not sure that it matters.

        “It’s simply not possible to talk about reform without at least an element of enforcement though.”

        Oh sure. There should absolutely be some enforcement. Otherwise why bother having a law at all? But this leaves open the question of what rights there are to be enforced, what prerequisites exist for getting those rights, what exceptions apply to them, and against whom they can be enforced? Part of my position is that copyright should really be a commercial regulation; it’s inappropriate to enforce copyrights against natural persons acting noncommercially, no matter what they’re doing.

        “You can’t look at it without recognising that, practically, many works have an actual copyright term of zero at the moment.”

        I don’t see that. I see a lot of works that merit an actual copyright term of zero — or more precisely, that don’t merit copyright at all. Not because of a lack of artistic merit, but because copyright was not a necessary incentive for the works to be created and published as evidenced by a lack of interest by authors in timely taking affirmative steps to acquire copyright protection for those works. I also see a lot of works that merit some, but less, protection than they currently enjoy, for similar reasons.

        A work which is copyrighted, but which is simply not actively protected can still be actively protected in the future. Using it as if it were in the public domain would be like playing with a ticking time bomb. This isn’t like a term of zero.

        “Entirely unenforced copyright laws (which seem to be what you’re calling for, at least in the current situation) are to all intents and purposes identical to having no copyright laws.”

        I am not calling for that, and I thought I had been consistently clear on that point. But I’m happy to say it again: I think that some degree of copyright is appropriate, and that some degree of enforcement of that copyright is appropriate. But I do maintain that increased enforcement necessitates decreased protection, so as to maintain a relatively constant level of impact of the law on those that are obligated to follow it.

        “Obviously. But we mostly talk about it in relation to copyright here because of the general remit of the blog, no?”

        I think it’s a bad idea to limit the discussion that way. We have more tools than a hammer, so not everything has to be a nail. If publishers started giving authors health insurance in addition to royalties and advances, this would not mean that copyright was a better way of dealing with medical expenses than some form of socialized medical care for all. Let’s not try to shoehorn copyright in where it doesn’t really belong.

        “Again, that’s theoretical, not practical. Yes, in some kind of post-money neo-Marxist utopia, the rules of the game are going to be very different. But until that time, people need to eat and have shelter and all these other things that, sadly, are not free as of the current historical period. I’m of the view that, at the very least, the basics of survival should be provided free. But I also recognise that isn’t the case.”

        Well, for lack of an apparently better option, I think that some form of guaranteed income is the way to go here. It’s not a post-money solution, (I was being a bit facetious about things being free — In truth I’d like to see Leigh, and everyone, have enough money to live comfortably, but it was close enough) but headway is being made. I think the Swiss will vote on whether or not to give around $3,000 per person per month next year. It seems to me to be a matter of political will, and things can change quickly in politics. Certainly I think even something that seems as outrageous as a guaranteed income will provide authors with better financial outcomes than increased copyright protection!

        “What, in the name of all that you hold good and holy, has that got to do with Leigh Harrison?”

        Leigh was complaining that people wanted to ‘stick it to record companies.’ I was explaining why I thought people might say that, though I doubt very much it’s the primary reason for piracy. It’s not an irrational hatred for everyone in the music industry; there are some actual grievances at work. I am not trying to attack Leigh here.

        “That’s taking the idea of collective punishment way too far. Because Leigh Harrison and people like her have absolutely nothing to do with that. It’s the equivalent of punching random Muslims in the face to protest against Osama Bin Laden.”

        Well, as I said, I don’t think that most pirates engage in piracy in order to stick it to record companies, and certainly not to Leigh. I think they do it because they want to listen to music in a way that they find convenient, and not having to pay for it is very convenient indeed. While there is a reason for complaining about the industry’s practices, I believe it to be more of an after-the-fact rationalization, and a very half-hearted one at that. It’s not collective punishment. The best analogy I can think of offhand, and it’s not very good, would be someone who refused to tip a waiter so as to save money, but who claimed that it was due to some sort of principle, which was in fact plausible.

        If the various copyright industries stopped engaging in thuggish (and inevitably ineffective) enforcement tactics, this would at least rob pirates of one of their favorite excuses. It would probably have no impact on piracy itself, one way or the other, but it would at least be good for PR. As for effective enforcement tactics against the sorts of pirates Leigh was complaining about (that is, not commercial pirates), I can’t think of any beyond limiting what you’re trying to enforce to what they’re willing to respect anyway. Commercial pirates are better targets for harsh measures.

        “I’d also suggest that, despite your intentions, you are taking an objectively pro major label stance here. Because you’re helping them in their attempts to conflate themselves with the indies and DIY artists, which they’re doing a lot.”

        Well, you’re right that that’s not my intention. But from where I’m standing, one copyright holder (or agent of a copyright holder) is about the same as another. Major labels, if they hold copyrights or are acting on behalf of someone who does, deserve no more or less protection than indies, etc.

        “Put it like this. I’m still as hardline as I ever was. I still want to destroy the record industry. (Even if it seems that some of those who previously claimed the same didn’t really mean it, I did). But damaging the DIY artists like Leigh runs directly counter to that goal.”

        I don’t want to destroy the record industry. But neither do I want to preserve it. I’m interested in what is best for the public at large. Whether a reform that better serves the public interest happens to also help or harm the big four, or help or harm Leigh, is not of primary concern to me; their fates, with regard to copyright policy, are only relevant to the extent that the public is helped or harmed. This sounds mean, but it’s more indifference. Certainly I wish anyone who wants to work as an author, publisher, etc. the best of luck, but I wouldn’t put their interests ahead of the public interest for a second.

        “That parody argument is pretty much what you’ve just argued here.”

        Again, I’ve said that that’s the grounds for the claim. I don’t believe in it, and I don’t think the people making it really do either. But Leigh was asking why people said it.

        “I don’t think that works as an analogy, because of the heavy involvement of profit-making companies in industrial scale piracy.”

        It wasn’t an analogy. Casual piracy is pretty nearly universal, and that means that there must be pretty nearly universal agreement that it is either not really a ‘bad’ thing to do, or at least that it is only trivially ‘bad,’ like speeding a little. That piracy by cassette was also nearly universal is just support for this general observation.

        As for profit making companies involved in piracy, they are usually either deeply involved (like pirates who run an extra batch of discs at the factory), or are tangentially involved, like how there are some infringing videos on YouTube, but the employees of the company aren’t the ones putting them there. I’d support going after the former, and I think most people would agree. I’d oppose going after the latter, and I think most people would agree to that too.

        And as it’s the safe harbor protection that has helped YouTube stay in business despite infringement, I’d just as soon see another safe harbor get used to steer piracy to completely non-commercial channels. If you don’t like seeing piracy used as a draw for ads, try legalizing piracy so long as there are no ads, or any other commercial activity. If pirates have to operate completely at a loss, but can do so safely and openly, I think they’ll flock to that. It will likely reduce the commercial viability of works, but there will likely be little outcry if greater enforcement is employed against whatever even slightly commercial infringement persists.

        “That’s very different then copying an album for your mates.”

        As the song goes, I’d like to buy the world a coke. If I can lawfully help a stranger on the other side of the world copy and enjoy some creative work, perhaps brightening his day, even if it’s unauthorized and unpaid, then that makes the stranger my friend.

        “That is, at the least, something we can agree on surely? Smashing people making money off other people’s work without permission is both entirely just and doable?”

        I think almost everyone would agree to that. I know I do. Sadly, copyright doesn’t confine itself to that.

        “The moral factor is “people deserve to be compensated for their labour” which is absolutely a moral argument.”

        Works aren’t labor, they are the product of labor. Authors don’t need copyrights to protect their labor any more than plumbers, bricklayers or teamsters need copyrights to protect their labor. (And no, people do not deserve to be compensated for their labor in the absence of an agreement to that effect. E.g. if you squeegee my car’s windshield, and I didn’t ask you to, you’ve no right to demand that I pay you for it.)

        The problem many, though not all, authors face is that they make an investment of labor (and possibly capital) on their own initiative. Then they try to use what they’ve made to make some money to recover their costs. It’s awfully convenient for the public, but not a great business model for authors. Authors would do better to find an audience willing to pay them, work out terms, and only then create something. Of course, because there tends to be a glut of authors relative to what the market will really sustain, they may have to do a few freebies to get a reputation, and they may wind up being undercut somehow by someone else.

        “But I doubt very much it’s a major motivation for most people pirating these days. It’s a lot more simple; it’s people wanting shit for free.”

        Yes, that is what I’ve been saying. (Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting shit for free.) The ‘ideological factor’ is just where the claims that it’s being done for man-sticking reasons comes from. It’s not the real impetus behind piracy, I feel sure.

      • “The problem many, though not all, authors face is that they make an investment of labor (and possibly capital) on their own initiative. Then they try to use what they’ve made to make some money to recover their costs. It’s awfully convenient for the public, but not a great business model for authors. Authors would do better to find an audience willing to pay them, work out terms, and only then create something. Of course, because there tends to be a glut of authors relative to what the market will really sustain, they may have to do a few freebies to get a reputation, and they may wind up being undercut somehow by someone else.”

        This will fall on deaf ears. As someone who is a creator, I can say, with out a doubt, that the “labor” I put into creating work as a means of expression has no intrinsic monetary value to ANYONE but myself and my band mates. If someone offers me $5 for a CD, guess what, that CD was worth $5 TO THEM. If I sell 100 of them at $5, that means 100 people agreed that my work was worth $5.

        That does not, however, mean that they would not have paid $10. Or $4, or taken it for free. And as such there is no way to truly gauge the value of my work IN AND OF ITSELF. Value requires a market. The best way to protect value, as well as control over your works is to create your OWN market.

        Once you place your work into a public market, it is subject to whatever equivalency standards the consumer places on ALL of the works in that market.

        I have sold albums for $10. So has Taylor Swift. Do you think I believe my work is of equivalent value to hers? Do you think the people who like my music and are not in to hers think of them as the same.

        What a lot of people here are implying is that all creative works share a common base value. That the mere act of creation merits compensation. They believe that someone who hosts your music for free is promoting theft of your work. This simply is not the case. If someone is willing to take your work for free, then it’s value to them is ZERO.

        Copyright is not about determining the value of your work. It is about stopping ACTUAL theft. Say, someone takes my song and records it as their own, then sells it. THAT is theft. The burden of proof still falls to me, but there are many ways in which I can pursue such infringement.

        Now suppose Pirates Plunder is hosting links to my albums. They are not selling them, they are not claiming ownership. Just posting a link. What did they steal? A sale? Um, no. No money exchanges hands on their end. Anyone who downloads it is NOT a customer. They do not find my work to have a monetary value. Doesn’t mean they don’t value it as art. Should they pay? Maybe. Would be nice. But that can not be my expectation in that scenario. I am not involved at that point.

        What about ads? Um, what about them. I am not running the site. I didn’t collect the music. Set up the account, do the design. Again, they are not stealing my work. They are referencing it. And based on my distribution deals I should be able to have my work removed. But until that happens and they say no. They are not stealing anything.

        They aren’t. My CUSTOMERS will be coming through MY distribution streams. Those represent what has value, not the people who think my work is worth zero.

        “Buh-but, if I don’t get paid, I can’t make a living?” Yeah, welcome to the world, a place where people have to provide a service of pre-determined value to warrant compensation. If you aren’t “making ends meet” via your music, then sadly it is time for you to try something else.

        Would you pay a carpenter, who’s work you did not like? Let’s say his work is beautiful, just not your style, at least not at the price he is charging. Would you buy it just because?

        Now lets say you need a chair, and you find his work in a second hand store for free. Should you leave that one there and go back to the guy and pay full price? No. YOU determine value. At $500 you may like his work but not think it worth the money. At $100 you might buy it in a heartbeat. So what is the true value of the chair? Artists aren’t “owed” anything unless they created work under contract. A song does not have a base value just because it exists.

        And in this day and age, ONE of the reasons people do not see digital content as being particularly valuable is because of it’s ability to exist infinitely. At some point the fact that there are an infinite amount of mp3’s that can be created makes the value of an mp3 zero.

        So as anonymous said. It is quickly becoming time to start placing the value on the labor, and create said work based on demand as opposed to whim when looking for a profit.

      • AudioNomics says:

        AV- “What a lot of people here are implying is that all creative works share a common base value. That the mere act of creation merits compensation.”

        [facepalm]
        For the umpteenth time:
        LITERALLY NO ONE IS MAKING THAT ARGUMENT BUT YOU!
        and you then proceed to argue against your own statement…
        yawn..

      • “” I resent anyone who wants things to be free, because things are not free for me — I still have to pay rent, buy food, and use public transportation, pay rehearsal studio fees, pay for instrument repair, buy art supplies, etc., all of which are not free.””

        Audionomics, please shut up. That is what everyone has been suggesting by making the claim that artists should be compensated for simply creating their work.

      • AudioNomics says:

        AV- “Audionomics, please shut up.”

        I will not “shut up”, but thanks for using “please”…….

        AV- ” That is what everyone has been suggesting by making the claim that artists should be compensated for simply creating their work.”

        Again, YOU ARE READING THINGS THAT AREN’T THERE.
        Where does ANYone say they should be paid just because they made something?
        The implication is that when their creations are exploited, THEN they should get their asking price or not be exploited.. simple first grade shit here… I don’t get how you can’t grasp this..

      • “Where does ANYone say they should be paid just because they made something?”

        ” I resent anyone who wants things to be free, because things are not free for me — I still have to pay rent, buy food, and use public transportation, pay rehearsal studio fees, pay for instrument repair, buy art supplies, etc., all of which are not free.”

        So she was not saying that her costs of creation should be a contributing factor of value? I mean, I specifically posted a reference to someone making a claim, that pretty much everyone on your side of the fence agreed with, that their work had value simply because it cost them in both time and actual money. It’s right there in front of you. I specifically referenced it in my posts as being the part of the reason for my response. So again, give it a rest. You are not clever. You are being obtuse, as always, simply because you can. You are ignoring any points being made, in response to things that were in fact posted, simply to make whatever point you think is relevant.

        “The implication is that when their creations are exploited, THEN they should get their asking price or not be exploited.. simple first grade shit here… I don’t get how you can’t grasp this..”

        No one is condoning exploitation of creative works for profit. No one. But there is a big difference between linking to something that “belongs” to someone else, and selling that item/service as your own.

        THAT is what you and others seem to be unwilling to accept. If I post a link to a movie I do not own and I charge for that link. THAT is piracy. I am profiting directly from the sale of that content. If I post a link to a song on a torrent, on iTune, GooglePlay, the artists website, whatever. And I do not charge for it, what have I stolen? A sale? An impression? They were on my site not yours. For whatever reason. Legit or not, MY site is what drew the attention. That could be because I have your work, it could also be because I used proper SEO techniques. Point being, you have no way of knowing WHY someone came to one place over another. You can speculate, but there is no sure fire way to know for sure. And no matter what the reason, if they did not seek YOU out. If they were not YOUR customer, my pass through is not exploiting your work. Again, I would have to be selling it directly to be doing so.

        What copyright should do is allow YOU, the author to control where and how your work is presented. Which it does. You are free to pursue any usage of your work that you can prove violates any legal claims you can make. That becomes your responsibility the moment you put your work out there in a format that can be duplicated by anyone anywhere.

        What if you didn’t put your work out there in that format? Guess what, you have an even greater claim, still means you have to pursue it. You assume that all content being “exploited” has been claimed as such when suggesting it be the responsibility of a particular service to police and enforce such things. How are they to know what is and is not legit, unless YOU tell them.

        Is the process perfect? No, of course not, but it does exist. So ultimately I do not understand what you people, maximalists that is, are railing against.

        That the world should be fair? That everyone should pay artists directly for the things they listen to?

        What if I download a song, listen once and then never listen to it again? Can I give it back? If I paid can I get my money back minus the going rate for a listen? See there is no contract for creative works. I didn’t ask you to make something, you just made it. So if I hear it and don’t like it, does that mean I can complain? Can I get you to make it again with the changes that I suggest?

        The point being. And this is my last thought on the matter.

        If you want to get “paid” for your work create work that you have an audience for. Accept that as being your guideline for what it should cost you in regards to time/money. If you do not want people linking to your work and making money from ads. Lock down your distribution and keep track of every instance of your work that is available. Pursue all infringement to its fullest extent and rely solely on your audience for compensation. Otherwise, create the things that make you happy, release them to as many people as possible, and be thankful for those people who value your work enough to pay for it. Those are your fans, that is your audience and ultimately those are the people you should be focusing on.

      • AudioNomics says:

        *facepalm*

        If that is what you religion is telling you, who am I to dispute? Have a good day..

  14. M says:

    To me a copyright maximalist is someone who propose increasingly extreme systems of copyright enforcement in an effort to save copyright. This especially so if a copyright enforcement proposal merely has a flimsy chance of improving the state of copyright respect all, but can damage other industries and fields of endeavor.

    A copyright maximalist typically takes a view that protecting copyright is above and beyond everything else, and/or that copyright enforcement is some kind of benign thing that rarely can have adverse effects, or that its effects are either irrelevant or beneficial because of some fundamentally pessimistic view of science and technology.

    • M says:

      I should also add copyright maximalists may also have a pessimistic view of human rights,
      we can have a better copyright system if copyright holders or the government could peer into people’s personal dealings at will. Those who advocate that copyright should trump personal privacy and the like (see: John Warr).

      Basically “how far do should we go to protect copyright?”. If you think the basis of such a question is absurd (ie. the idea that there are things more important then copyright that could conflict with it), you are probably a copyright maximalist.

      • John Warr says:

        You won’t find any such comments from me. What you will find are statements to the effect that concern about privacy wrt to copyright is total bollocks, as you have already given up your rights to privacy to the very companies that profiteer from copyright violations. That to whine about one whilst ignoring the other is hypocritical and naive.

        Mass copyright violation occurs in a public space, watched over by ISPs and social media companies. Bittorrent is almost 90% the transport of copyright violating content, to say that it shouldn’t be investigated is like saying that some one handing out little twists of silver packages on street corners or in bars should be immune from investigation because occasionally the package contains something other than crack cocaine, or that someone handing out boxes from the back of a van, in a dark alley, shouldn’t be investigated cos sometimes the Salvation Army hands out food parcels that way.

      • M says:

        John,

        to say that it shouldn’t be investigated is like saying that some one handing out little twists of silver packages on street corners or in bars should be immune from investigation because occasionally the package contains something other than crack cocaine

        It’s not in the law enforcement’s right to peer into the private dealings of people as suspicious they may seem. They must have a warrant issued from a judicial authority. This severely limits law enforcement’s ability to ability to enforce nearly all laws, but we balance this way because protecting personal liberty preempts all in a free society, even it’s own laws. “Those who scarifce libery for security deserve neither.” –Benjamin Franklin

        But maybe you think Benjamin Franklin is full of horseshit. Even in a more “British” view of government, one that prefers security over liberty, it’s questionable if you’d get any postive outcome. Going after some certain modality of piracy does not preclude another gaining in popularity. For instance, if you somehow make BitTorrent piracy harder, there is a chance that it bolsters file locker piracy and vice versa. And if you manage to go after many mainstream forms of Internet piracy, a regime that I can not see as possible without government controls on the Internet exceeding what is in China, you still have to contend with offline piracy. Offline piracy is extremely trivial – anyone just go to a library and you can copy whatever they want. And they can share that with friends. Now what? Get rid of libraries?

        You have to be authoritarian to enforce copyright, and it’s even questionable who effective an authoritarian government with a strong anti-piracy desire would be. So even a government that prioritizes copyright over liberty, I don’t see how they will be effective given the power and ability of modern technology in copying content.

      • M says:

        I’d also mention that via decades of very powerful lobbying, copyright is already one of the most tragically draconian legal systems ever developed. Thanks to the unbelievably draconian DMCA, a copyright holder can legally censor content off the Internet without any evidence of wrongdoing or any judicial order. That’s completely contrary to our notion of judicial balance, and you will stress to find a tandem in any other law enforcement area.

      • AudioNomics says:

        M- “It’s not in the law enforcement’s right to peer into the private dealings of people as suspicious they may seem.”

        uhh.. sure they can…. it’s called “probable cause”..

    • AudioNomics says:

      And no matter how many times one explains to you, “M”, that your understanding is laughably wrong, and you sound like Rush Limbaugh describing “a liberals” viewpoint (which bears very little resemblance to reality) ..you still cling to your cozy description to let you justify your behavior…because if you knew the truth you might actually have to rethink your position and actually might have some remorse about your actions. HAH, who am I kidding, you? remorse? pffft

  15. I look at all of the posts and I wonder are we really at odds? I honestly don’t think so when put into the perspective of “artist compensation” and “limiting the influence of technology”. I think the issues are in how we would approach such things, nothing more.

  16. Anonymous says:

    AV: you may not be here to advertise, but you are constantly appealing to your own authority as a recording musician. You essentially belittle anyone who tries to make a living off music by saying that if they’re not making money it’s because they don’t deserve it. You push the same old agenda of “make stuff people want” -sorry, “VALUE”- “and they’ll pay for it,” claiming that those who profit from it illegally have no responsibility.

    You refuse to even consider that the game might be rigged. This is not a radical or even liberal position – it’s the same old bootstraps nonsense conservatives and libertarians have been selling for decades.

    So forgive me if I think you come off as a dilletante

    • “You essentially belittle anyone who tries to make a living off music by saying that if they’re not making money it’s because they don’t deserve it.”

      I do no such thing. I did not create the law of supply and demand. I did not invent digital media formats that reduce the value of copied work to ZERO. I didn’t suggest that people not have recourse against those who would steal from them.

      The game might be rigged? How is the game rigged? Because people choose to create content that has no inherent value?

      I am not appealing to any “authority”. I actually do write, record and produce my own music. I do in fact pay in both time and money to produce my works. They are in fact available through every major distribution hub. I have absolutely sold multiple(not many) copies of my albums through these hubs. These are all facts. I make music that is available for sale. The only way I get paid, is if someone pays for my work. If they get it for free, or listen to a stream, then they are NOT my customers. They may be fans, but they are not customers.

      “You push the same old agenda of “make stuff people want” -sorry, “VALUE”- “and they’ll pay for it,” claiming that those who profit from it illegally have no responsibility.”

      I never said any such thing. What I said was that creating work without a contract to do so, means that your work is worth what people are willing to pay for it. If everyone wants it for free, then your work is worth jack and shit, with jack on his way out of town.

      Not that I should even have to explain myself to Anonymous, you have no more credibility in posting an opinion than I do. Even if some big name artist were to post here, their perspective would not change the basic laws of economics. This is not all that complicated.

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