I think I\’m right here: tell me if I\’m not

Sunny thinks that:

But parodies of films and music aren’t allowed under UK copyright law, unless you have explicit permission of the copyright owner. I didn’t know this either until this week.

My response:

That’s because it’s not true.

You can parody anything you like. You just cannot include someone else’s copyright material in your parody.

Thus, for example, you can parody “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney, no problems. Change the key perhaps, make a minor adjustment to the notes (there are well known ways of doing this sort of thing, it’s done all the time by advertisers who want a soundtrack without having to pay royalties) then stick any words you like over it.

Oh, and make sure that you’re not actually using Sir Paul’s voice or playing on it.

At a guess the problem with the above video, quite apart from anything else, is the use of the Olympic rings and then 2012 logo. Whether they’re copyright or trademarks not sure, but they do indeed belong to someone.

Easy enough to get around. Slightly change the colours, the shades, of the rings and you’re not using someone else’s property any more.

This is all well known stuff. Just, apparently, not by the people who created this parody.

There are plenty of parodies of, say, Star Wars, out there done with Lego or Playmobil. No one needs George Lucas’ permission to do that. How do you think Spaceballs got made and shown in the UK if permssion to parody is required? Or Men in Tights, South Park, etc etc?

It’s not parody which you cannot do.

109 comments on “I think I\’m right here: tell me if I\’m not

  1. The confusion arises from the fact that Americans are explicitly allowed to use small parts of copyrighted material for the purposes of parody under a ‘fair use’ clause without any permission being granted. In Britain we are not. This means that the video to which you were referring would be legal in the US but not in the UK.

    Your statement that you can strip all copyrighted materials out of a parody is often true, but not always, and the point they are making is that this should not be necessary. They think we should have ‘fair use’ clauses.

    They did not make their point very clearly or accurately and you are right to push for clarity on such matters. They say parodies are not allowed, but they are working under the implicit assumption that a parody /will/ include sections of the work in question. I feel this is a reasonable assumption, but it should definitely be stated.

  2. There are special provisions relating to Olympic symbols in the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.

    I’m no expert on this, but I’m pretty sure the minor changes Tim suggests wouldn’t do.

  3. I think Hundai is confusing parody and mashup. British TV comedy for instance is full of parodies for instance. Or the classic 8 bit adventure The Boggit, the adventures of Bimbo Faggins and its sequel, Bored Of The Rings.

    Where you’re on dodgy ground is “mashups”; remixing the original material in some way. This is one of the primary issues for the copyright commies, because they tend to be people with very little creativity, so they like to pretend to have some by taking other peoples’s stuff and remixing it.

    So, I can spoof you but not mash you up without your permission. Different things.

    There is actually a legal standard for how different a melody has to tbe to not be an infringement, in your “Yesterday” example.

  4. @Ian B Ironically, whilst the “commie” epithet (personally, I think “anarchist” – with all but the violent connotations – is a more accurate description) gets hurled at the Free Software community rather regularly, they’re often the /victims/ of unauthorised use (usually by corporations) and it’s the corporations who think that their little bit of fluff is so special that they should be exempt from the restrictions imposed upon them by their freely-chosen use of GPL licensed software for large parts of their software’s infrastructure.

    I’m with you in terms of not seeing much creative merit in most remixes/mashups, though.

  5. Also I would think that the Olympic rings is a trademark issue, not copyright. It can be dangerous to swipe a trademark of somebody who can afford expensive lawyers. As a personal example, when I wanted to show charitable medical care in my futuristic sci-fi comic thing, I had their symbol be a green triangle, instead of a red cross, just to avoid any possibility of takedown notices. Particularly in Europe there is a strong principle of “moral rights”; that is to prevent somebody using your stuff for a reason that they find morally repugnant, so, if you’re doing commercial “erotica” it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  6. Alex-

    Anarchism is the opposite of statism. Communism is the opposite of propertarianism. The word just comes from “communal” remember. You could have an anarchist society where property is communal or where it is privately owned, likewise a statist one of either type.

  7. Copyright: if you copy a “substantial part” of something you are in hot water. Let’s say you change the key of a song but it remains otherwise unchanged: you are infringing. If you keep the tune but change the words you would infringe the copyright in the tune. The protection for music is quite strong, remember the Bittersweet Symphony case recentlyish? Someone successfully sued for copyright infringement of the melody.

    Olympic symbols: the toughest protection ever. You can’t even hint at an Olympic symbol under the legislation in force in the run-up to the games.

  8. The government is very clear that parodies can infringe copyright under existing law. For a parody to avoid infringing copyright, it must not “copy” the original. “Copying” can be anything which is recognisably the same. Thus parodying a work without making it recognisably the same and risking infringing copyright is extraordinarily difficult.

    Many commercial parodies are produced, but currently publishers like the BBC seek permission, believe it or not. One of the objections to creating a “parody exception” to permit the creation of parodies that may otherwise infringe the original copyright is that a legal market in parody licenses might be reduced!

    Sunny’s example is a very good one.

    The government’s consultation to change the law to permit parodies that may infringe copyright law is here:

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-2011-copyright.pdf

    See page 83: “Some countries, such as the United States and France, have long allowed people to copy other people’s works for the purpose of parody. Others, such as the Netherlands and Australia, have introduced exceptions for parody more recently. But no such exception exists in the UK, meaning British parodists, professional and amateur, face obstacles those in other countries do not.”

    We have a brief overview here:

    http://www.righttoparody.org.uk/why-copyright-law-needs-a-sense-of-humour

    and examples here:

    http://www.righttoparody.org.uk/parodies

  9. @Ian B that’s exactly my point; Free Software and the GPL makes no judgement on whether the intellectual property is communal or privately owned – that’s left to each individual software project. An individual who releases his or her own code under the GPL presumably would choose to own it privately, whilst a team project might decide to form a foundation and own all their respective contributions communally, or not, and own them privately and individually.

  10. Alex, there’s nothing wrong with free software. Everyone is entitled to distribute their production as they wish. Even I hand out pictures for free. It only turns anti-propertarian when people try to abolish the right of others to sell their wares. My term “copyright commie” refers to the political movement dedicated to the abolition of copyright.

    As I said in another argument about this, there is nothing to stop anyone waiving copyright or working in a mutualist style currently; they are free to do so and best of luck to them. On a purely personal level, I use Windows on my own PC, but I can’t image hosting on anything that isn’t Unixy. Long may it continue.

  11. Seems to me like what we have works just fine.

    1. Someone parodies the Olympics, sticks it on Youtube
    2. Lawyers get all lawyerly on it, demand a takedown
    3. All those people who had grabbed the video locally now get really pissed about the takedown and start posting it all over the internet, giving more views to the parody than would have happened had the lawyers just left it there.

  12. Tim Almond: The Streisand effect.

    So, can anyone look at the Olympic logo without seeing Lisa Simpson giving head? Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

  13. Ian: “It only turns anti-propertarian when people try to abolish the right of others to sell their wares.”

    If somebody produces a painting, even in a world with no copyright, they would still be perfectly free to sell that painting however they liked, so you are refer to a situation that nobody other than you appears to be suggesting.

    “My term “copyright commie” refers to the political movement dedicated to the abolition of copyright.”

    In which case, it’s a very poor term. Aside from the ongoing banal use of the term “commie,” something cannot be simultaneously abolished and communally owned. Something like “culture commie”, “idea commie” or “expression commie” would still be banal, but at least it would have some degree of accuracy.

  14. The only problem with the video Sunny is showing is the Olypmic symbols. That is a trademark and it also has specially drafted laws to make it illegal to use it in any way whatsoever except to do with the Olympics. That’s why it was taken down and why it will be again. Its removal will be nothing to do with parody.

  15. Paul, with all due respect if you have any experience with this debate, you know that the property rights in question are over reproductions of works; melodies, novels, etc, so you are being disingenuous. Copycommies want to abolish those property rights. The term is fine.

    The question is about a propertarian regime under which economic agents can produce mass media and be remunerated for it. If you want art reduced to commissioned portraits by the rich, as it used to be, fine. Me, I want to read comics and watch movies on my PC, and that means a propertarian regime for digital works. Or some form of communist solution (the state employs everyone, or something).

  16. @SadButMadLad No, the Olympics Committee put a copyright takedown claim to Youtube about got the video pulled. They then corresponded with the authors continuing to cite copyright as the reason for restricting any further redistribution.

    Copyright exists in the designs of the Olympic mascots, for instance.

    You can read about this here:

    http://www.righttoparody.org.uk/parodies#mothersbestchild

    Trademark is different. Trademark cases have failed in several similar instances because trademarks protect against uses in the course of trade.

  17. And, as I’ve pointed out many times before, no creator is required to use copyright. So all those people opposed to it, stop moaning about Mickey Mouse; just go out and produce your own copyrightless stuff (no cheating with “copyleft” and “creative commons” and so on!) and leave Evil Disney and all the other old stick-in-the-muds in the dust. Go for it!

    Nobody ever does though. Funny, that.

  18. Ian B, the GPL depends on copyright – it’s a copyright licence. Its terms kick in when someone *distributes* a GPL-licensed work. That is, by default a non-owner has no right to distribute a work copyrighted by someone else. The GPL gives permission, provided the rest of the terms are adhered to.

    “It only turns anti-propertarian when people try to abolish the right of others to sell their wares. My term “copyright commie” refers to the political movement dedicated to the abolition of copyright.”

    Note that it doesn’t preclude anyone from selling a GPL-licensed work, it just means that the source code must be offered too (vastly simplified, IANAL, etc, etc). Copyright owners of GPL-licensed works can sell under any licence they choose, regardless if they distribute under the GPL as well (it happens, though not very often as the GPL version tends to remain available on the net forever.) The “copyleft” label used by the likes of the Free Software Foundation has nothing to do with the abolition of copyright – they’d be spiking their own guns if they managed to achieve that!

    - Dick, a long-time professional free software author

  19. Ian B : “And, as I’ve pointed out many times before, no creator is required to use copyright.”

    Yes, you have and it is as irrelvant now as it was every other time. It’s as absurd at saying, if you opposed to slavery, just go away and don’t own slaves.

    “just go out and produce your own copyrightless stuff (no cheating with “copyleft” and “creative commons” and so on!)”

    You can’t create copyrightless stuff. The moment you produce something, it is automatically subject to copyright.

    As for copyleft being cheating, that’s like saying that if you are opposed to aggressive violence, you have to be a pacifist. I don’t see anything wrong with opposing aggression but reserving the right to act in self-defence, whether we are talking about violence or copyright.

  20. @IanB Oh blimey. Copyright attaches itself no matter what, and in some jurisdictions you cannot waive certain parts of the rights. Some form of license is required in order to lift those restrictions you are allowed to lift, or at least to make it clear to the end user that no copyright claims will be asserted.

    The point many of us are making is that copyright is a system which has to have some flexibility, like parody exceptions, or it becomes too harsh, even for its own credibility.

    The arguments about the most appropriate systems of permissions are, well, complicated and specific to different distribution models. These are much more diverse with the Internet, so in fact people do produce and distribute movies using freer licensing systems (see http://vo.do for instance, or Youtube’s CC-licensed content).

    But that is an entirely separate question from the need for flexibility in copyright. In a world where ideas and concepts are constantly reprocessed and reexamined, flexibility is critical, surely? Parody is merely one example. Hargreaves asks questions about several others, including text mining.

    We need a bit of common sense in this debate, don’t you agree?

  21. Ian B: “you know that the property rights in question are over reproductions of works; melodies, novels, etc, so you are being disingenuous. Copycommies want to abolish those property rights. The term is fine.”

    No, the term is nonsensical. You cannot simultaneously stop something existing and also have that thing be communally owned. If the property right is abolished, what becomes communally owned is the thing over which there was a property right. Stop and think about it for a second and you’ll see it’s obvious.

    “Me, I want to read comics and watch movies on my PC”

    Good for you. I have different priorities. I want liberty.

  22. The UK is more restrictive than the US or Australia on this particular point (hence why much closer parodies than would be allowed under English law are on Youtube – and probably why Spaceballs was released in the UK, because that kind of fight among big US companies would have looked silly given its unequivocal legality at home).

    Indeed, the fact that parody is a defence from copyright infringement in the US is precisely why – as the original article suggests – very few people realise that it isn’t one in the UK.

    When your copyright law is more restrictive than that of the US, it is a sign your copyright law is probably too restrictive.

    Philosophically, pretending this is a question of property rights is gibbering. My hard disk is my property, in a very actual and real sense. The fact that some lawyer can stop me from arranging the magnetised particles on my hard disk into whatever goddamn pattern I like is an obvious infringement on *my* property rights.

    Rather, governments grant people a limited right to infringe other people’s property rights because it’s considered to be for the greater good. Which, in principle, I approve of, although if I was a hardcore economic libertarian I wouldn’t, and my cognitive dissonance might lead me to form surreal beliefs about ownership instead.

    This broadly sensible piece of utilitarian state intervention has gradually extended into something which nobody in their right mind could believe to be for the greater good (can anyone imagine anyone in the entire world ever thinking “I would write this book, but it’ll only be a state-enforced monopoly for my estate for 25 years after my death rather than 70, so I won’t bother”?)

  23. Just in case of side-moves about hard disks being under patent, would never have happened without it, etc, substitute “using a piece of chalk I’ve cut to draw pictures on a piece of slate I’ve cut” above.

    Copyright means that I can’t use my chalk to draw whatever I like on my slate (in law although not in practice), or to then sell that slate to whomever I choose (in law *and* in practice).

    If you don’t think that’s an infringement of property rights, you don’t understand what property rights are.

    If you think it’s a necessary infringement of property rights to ensure things that you like such as movies happen, then welcome to utilitarian-world-where-state-intervention-to-create-monopolies-is-sometimes-a-good-thing. Ya commie. ;-)

  24. I think John B is right. Although copyright exhibits some of the characteristics of property rights, it is most assuredly not “intellectual property”. Rather, it is a statutory privilege, a tool of policy which violates other more natural rights such as freedom of expression. Which is not to say that it’s altogether a bad thing – freedom of expression, for example, requires limits – but it is a construct of the state and as such requires scrutiny.

  25. I never know which is worse in these arguments by the copycommies; the stupidity or the lying. Socialism/communism/collectivism are always an excuse for taking something somebody else has produced without compensating them. As we see here; the interesting thing is that the same tired commie cliches come up; property rights interfere with the “right” to take what is not yours. Land commies do the same thing; if land is owned it is denying somebody else their right to walk on it. If the means of capitalist production are owned then…

    …you get the drift?

    Particularly risible is this “everything is copyrighted” argument. The right attaches itself automatically, as does any right. The right to self-ownership is automatic to every human being. But every owner in a propertarian system has a right to waive that attached right. Every copycommie can make a movie, release it on the web or wherever, and say, “do as thou wilt” to everyone else.

    But as I said, they don’t. Because as with every communist system, the absence of ownership produces the absence of production; this is why we prefer systems of trade. Trade, as we know, is not “natural”. It is an invented system. It is used because it works; Aelfric makes bronze axe heads, Belfric carries amber up from the Baltic. The bronze and the amber are traded.

    But commies see this as wrong. Belfric should just give his amber for the communal good; would there not be more amber? Why should Aelfric have to give away his bronze in return? He could have both amber and bronze without trade, would he not?

    The fundamental principle of trade is reciprocity. Utopian collectivists routinely demand the abandonment of this system. They are always and everywhere wrong. If Belfric has no expectation of bronze, he does not waste his opportunity cost transporting amber. If Aelfric has no expectation of amber, he does not waste his time making axe heads. Win-win turns into lose-lose.

    I would love to see a system in which I can produce and not worry about selling, or theft. Really I would. Some of you people, stop moaning about Mickey Mouse and make a goddamned movie of your own and show how free distribution can fund a $100M production budget. I want to see this, really I do.

    *waits*

  26. @IanB Er, who are you arguing with exactly? I’d be slightly more impressed if any of these “copy commies” actually were commenting here. Instead you’ve a range of sensible, right-leaning but moderate voices arguing for balance and pragmatism when dealing with rights in intellectual intangibles. It”s unfortunately a microcosm of the debate, in my own now fairly well-versed experience.

  27. You’ve already mentioned a $billions software industry – Linux. That was established by free (libre) distribution, with the only restriction in the case of GPL-covered software being that you can’t deny anyone else the right to freely distribute it.

    - Dick

  28. Instead you’ve a range of sensible, right-leaning but moderate voices arguing for balance and pragmatism when dealing with rights in intellectual intangibles.

    No, what we’ve got is the same intellectual semolina that has been splurging all over liberal demcracies for the past two centuries, with a bunch of mushy arguments against property rights. You want a market and production and trade? Great. You don’t? At least have the decency to go and stand over there with those guys clutching their Socialist Workers and stop pretending to be anything else.

    “Right leaning”?

    Excuse me while I laugh a lot.

  29. IanB: “The right to self-ownership is automatic to every human being. But every owner in a propertarian system has a right to waive that attached right.”

    Generally not. You could attempt to sell yourself into slavery, but it would generally be viewed as an unenforceable agreement and void.

    As is so often the case when you have no substantial argument to back-up your position on state-granted monopolies, you descend into irrelevancies, inaccuracies and an increased frequency of use of the word “commie.”

    It always give me a laugh to see one the typical faux-libertarians floundering when faced with people who understand the meaning of the word liberty.

  30. Ian B: “a bunch of mushy arguments against property rights.”

    I’m really not sure if your comments stem from frustration, dishonesty or stupidity.

    Nobody has argued against property rights per se. The most you can claim is that some people have argued against one particular class of property rights – exclusive rights over non-rivalrous intangibles.

    What you’re doing is your typical desperate attempt to imply that anybody who believes a certain class of property rights should be abolished or scaled back is opposed to all property rights, which is, of course, ridiculous.

  31. Oh right, just realised this is Paul Lockett, the man who magically appears every time this subject comes up to fight the good fight against Evil Capitalism. One common and tiresome rhetorical trick by those who euphemism communist principles as “mutualist” etc is to all us nasty capitalists “faux-” libertarians or something similar. Of course, if you believe that “liberty” is the right to be subsumed into a collectivised soup, that probably seems reasonable.

    So back with the point- opposites: Statism/Anarchism. Individualism/Collectivism. Propertarianism/Communism. The word communist is the most appropriate, as with those who oppose landed property and want those rights destroyed- also commonplace ideology among the “mutualists”- who are land communists.

    Slavery is an interesting example. You always have yourself as property; however you are entirely free to give your work away, just as every copycommie is free to give his created work away. So the analogy is entirely appropriate. Nobody is ever forced to assert their right.

    I say again; make a movie, give it away. Nobody will stop you. There is no law requiring you to assert any copyright, or to restrict it or charge for it. Stop complaining about other peoples property. Create your own. That is all you need to do. Nobody will ever stop you giving it away. Will they?

    Answer the damned point.

  32. Ian, it’s quite fantastic that ,on this thread, you’ve posted comments which are so bizarre that they are actually beyond parody.

    “So back with the point- opposites: Statism/Anarchism. Individualism/Collectivism. Propertarianism/Communism.”

    Let’s take the example of the air around us and look at it in the bizarre world of Ian B. You have two possibilities:

    1. You are an air-propertarian, who believes the air should be privately owned, with non-owners having to pay for the right to breathe.

    2. You are an air-commie, who believes the air should be communally owned, with everybody being free to breathe at will.

    Now of course, if you are in camp 2, then, we know that in Ian-B-Land, being an air-commie, or a copy-commie or any kind of prefix-commie means that you are anti-property and therefore, the prefix can be removed and you are just a commie.

    Hence, in Ian-B-land, if you want to be able to breathe at will, you’re a commie.

    “Answer the damned point.”

    I did. I’ll copy and paste it for you if you like:

    “It’s as absurd at saying, if you are opposed to slavery, just go away and don’t own slaves.”

  33. Paul, it’s nice to see you now floundering around so desperately. Air is (currently on planet Earth) a superabundant, self-regenerating part of the natural world. We have thus not applied property rights to it (though we may head that way; pollution etc) since there is no need for a trade in it. We apply property rights to things which require trade or personal ownership. I think even we are both agreed that rights are a social construct. In other words, your above argument is, as usual, bollocks.

    Not as bollocks as this one, though-

    I did. I’ll copy and paste it for you if you like:

    “It’s as absurd at saying, if you are opposed to slavery, just go away and don’t own slaves.”

    Yes, here we have it ladeez and gentlemen. Paul thinks Mickey Mouse is in the same position as a black slave in the Deep South.

    Mickey isn’t real, Paul. Sorry. He’s imaginary. Sorry to break this to you. A slave is a person. Mickey Mouse- or the subjects of any other of the complaints from the copycommies- are products. Can you grasp that? Can you spot the difference?

  34. Sorry, I missed out the point that in some places (on the Moon, on a space station, under the sea) air may well be a commodity that requires trade.

  35. Ian B: “We apply property rights to things which require trade or personal ownership.”

    Both wrong and irrelevant.

    Property rights are applied according to the whim of the person making the rules. Maybe that definition is how you believe they should be applied, but it doesn’t mean they are. Libertarians, in contrast, believe that property rights should be applied to rivalrous goods.

    However, those preferences are irrelevant to your previous argument, which was that if something can have property rights attached to it and you suggest it shouldn’t be attached, you’re a “commie.”

    It sounds to me like you’re an air-commie, desperately trying to differentiate yourself from copy-commies, whilst at the same time realising that whatever argument you use will back-fire.

    “Yes, here we have it ladeez and gentlemen. Paul thinks Mickey Mouse is in the same position as a black slave in the Deep South.”

    No, because Mickey Mouse can be neither a copyright holder, nor restricted from acting by copyright. Your comment is typical of your desperation on this subject. You introduced Mickey Mouse as a straw man and then pounded at it furiously, as you have nothing else to offer.

    What I offered is called an analogy. It was an attempt to aid your understanding (I’m sure everybody else grasped the point long ago), that when somebody objects to a certain right or privilege, it is usually the general principle they are objecting to, not their own ability to exercise it. If you still can’t grasp that, I’m not sure I can dumb down the explanation any further for you.

  36. Paul, the thing you don’t understand here- presumably because it wasn’t written on the cornflake packet you get your definitions from (e.g. “libertarians… non-rivalrous” (did you pull that out of your own ass, or somebody else’s?)) is that analogies need to have the same characteristics as the thing being analogised. I will try to explain this as simply as possible for the hard of thinking-

    In the case of slavery, slaves are persons whose rights are being denied by being rendered property. In copyright, the property is Mickey, or a melody, or Harry Potter- who are not persons and have no rights. They are property under copyright law, but this does not violate their rights, because as imaginary creations they have none.

    So the repugnance of slavery is due to the treatment of persons as property. This therefore does not apply as an analogy to IP, as the property cannot have any personhood, and no capacity to suffer a loss of rights.

    Thus, it simply does not work as an analogy to say that “walk away from copyright” is the same as “walk away from slavery”. They are qualitatively different.

    You are pulling this stuff out of your rectum- slaves, air (are nazis next?) because you cannot answer the simple point that if your system were a practical mode of production people would be already doing it. But they are not, except on a hobbyist level (posting webcams to Youtube, fanart and the like).

    The reason they are not is the general criticism of all socialism; without a market, without a price system, without trade, without remuneration of consumers by producers, there is no means to produce (other than, as we saw in numerous examples, by State force). There is simply no way to pay the capital costs of production. Hence, no production.

    It won’t work. That is why we choose capitalism over communism. One works, and the other one doesn’t. It is as simple as that.

    As I addendummed, if air required production and distribution- as on a moonbase- it probably would require a trade system. It doesn’t on Earth because it’s superabundant. Now water, on the other hand, requiring purification, distribution, etc… yep, we need a trade system for that too.

    See?

  37. As a neutral observer who is pretty confused by some of the points at issue here I have been trying to follow this and, ignoring the flying insults, come to a conclusion of sorts. I could see merits in both arguments ( no I’m not the Archbishop of Canterbury ) but thought Ian B was just shading it. That is until Paul came out with that ridiculous argument about air, so now this ringside judge has Ian B well ahead on points.

  38. Ian B:

    (e.g. “libertarians… non-rivalrous” (did you pull that out of your own ass, or somebody else’s?))

    I took work liberty and applied its meaning rationally. Try it some time.

    In the case of slavery, slaves are persons whose rights are being denied by being rendered property. In copyright, the property is Mickey, or a melody, or Harry Potter- who are not persons and have no rights. They are property under copyright law, but this does not violate their rights, because as imaginary creations they have none.

    You don’t even appear to grasp that all you are doing there is pulling apart you own straw man!

    The analogy is very simple:

    Slavery enables one person (the slave owner) to restrict the freedom of action of another (the slave).

    Copyright enables one person (the copyright holder) to restrict the freedom of action of another (pretty much anyone).

    Only the humans are relevant to my point. It was you who introduced the (in all senses) Mickey Mouse argument.

    You are pulling this stuff out of your rectum- slaves, air (are nazis next?)

    You really are without self-awareness aren’t you. You suggest that somebody might mention nazis after having used “commie” as a pejorative term ad nauseum.

    because you cannot answer the simple point that if your system were a practical mode of production people would be already doing it.

    It’s another of your irrelevances that I think is neither valid, nor of any interest to me. It makes me no less likely to support liberty and material property rights and in any case, just because it isn’t widely used now, doesn’t mean it couldn’t work. You’re making sweeping assumptions about how people would operate in a world in which they didn’t have copyright, by assuming that they would only operate the same way they do in a world with copyright.

    To give you another slave analogy, what you’re saying is like saying that, because slave owners chose to use slave labour, they wouldn’t produce anything without slave labour. It just doesn’t follow.

    However, that’s irrelevant to some extent to the underlying difference, which is that I’m arguing from a position of pursuing liberty on principle, while you are arguing from a collectivist utilitarian position.

  39. ukliberty:

    Given that Paul supports restrictions on speech I don’t know what we’re all yelling about.

    Such as? Given that I’m the one arguing for greater freedom of expression on this thread, it’s a claim which is a bit at odd with the facts at hand.

  40. Unless specified otherwise, any text in one of my blog postings for which I hold the copyright is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Licence, which, in simple terms, allows the re-use of the text, so long as the original source is made clear (by quoting my name and the url of the original work), it is made clear if any amendment or editing has been carried out and the text is not used in a defamatory way, such as using it out of context to distort the meaning. Any work based on the original work must also be made available under the same licence. [etc]

  41. If copyright is to be retained, I believe that the first step that needs to be taken to make it fit for the 21st Century is to restrict it so it only applies to commercial copying and distribution; so, the copyright holder would be able to charge a fee if somebody wishes to sell a copy of a film or a book, or play a song on a radio station which sells advertising but if somebody shares a film, book or song with a friend without charging them, that should be none of the copyright holder’s business.

  42. Aaaaaaand Paul marches onto the podium wearing clown shoes and trips on his face-

    Slavery enables one person (the slave owner) to restrict the freedom of action of another (the slave).

    Copyright enables one person (the copyright holder) to restrict the freedom of action of another (pretty much anyone).

    Furthermore, land onwership enables one person (the land holder) to restrict the freedom of action of another (people who’d like to enter his land).

    And, all ownership enables one person (the owner) to restrict the actions of others (anyone else).

    That is what property rights are! To apply your unique interpretation of the word “liberty”, all property rights become unsupportable. Which so far as I can tell, is your general position anyway.

    I will also remind you that you are deliberately twisting the origin of your “slavery” analogy which sadly for you is clearly visible above in the thread. Nice try at misdirection, though.

    You’re making sweeping assumptions about how people would operate in a world in which they didn’t have copyright, by assuming that they would only operate the same way they do in a world with copyright. To give you another slave analogy, what you’re saying is like saying that, because slave owners chose to use slave labour, they wouldn’t produce anything without slave labour. It just doesn’t follow.

    The problem you have here Paul is that we have oodles of data from previous communism experiments. None of them worked. Not even the christian communist experiment of the American Pilgrim Fathers, and if anyone had a “common good” moral motivation it was them.

    It just doesn’t work. That’s why they reintroduced property rights- to save themselves from starvation due to low production- and why libertarians prefer them. Because trade, a price system, yada yada, are the only effective means of production and distribution on a large scale (particularly, a “stranger economy”).

    Which is why, faced with this fact, you are forced to shrug and say, “don’t care”. You have neither a justification from principle nor a justification from utility. All you have is “I WANT”, which is the classic socialist/communist/anti-propertarian motivation. You don’t even care that it won’t work. That’s pretty pathetic.

  43. Ukliberty-

    If memory serves, I called out Paul on his assertion of rights over his writing in Another Argument. The reply was some kind of “copyright made me do it” thing, along the lines of the nonsense in this thread about how we’re all forced to use copyright, i.e. absolute cobblers.

  44. And, all ownership enables one person (the owner) to restrict the actions of others (anyone else).

    Well done for stating the bleeding obvious.

    To apply your unique interpretation of the word “liberty”, all property rights become unsupportable.

    I can’t claim it’s unique, it’s broadly used and stems back to Jefferson, Spencer and beyond. It doesn’t make all property rights unsupportable, just property rights over non-rivalrous items.

    Which so far as I can tell, is your general position anyway.

    Given that I’ve already said I support property rights over tangible goods, that’s another completely ridiculous comment.

    The problem you have here Paul is that we have oodles of data from previous communism experiments. None of them worked.

    Yes, but that’s talking about communism in the generally accepted sense, not in your inconsistently applied pejorative sense. The early US had material property rights, but not intellectual monopolies, which is what we would be talking about and it did ok.

    You have neither a justification from principle…

    Yes I do. The principle is liberty.

    All you have is “I WANT”, which is the classic socialist/communist/anti-propertarian motivation.

    No, that’s your position. I’m applying a principle consistently. You could argue that all I have is “I WANT EVERYONE TO HAVE LIBERTY.” If that is your point, fair enough. On the other hand, your entire argument stemmed from “I want to read comics and watch movies on my PC.”

  45. Ian B:

    along the lines of the nonsense in this thread about how we’re all forced to use copyright, i.e. absolute cobblers.

    Nobody has said that we are forced to use copyright, whatever you mean by that, just that copyright applies automatically. So in order to enable people to use what you produce in ways which copyright law does not allow, you need to tell them that you are happy for them to do that. Which is precisely what that Creative Commons statement does.

  46. Paul, you insist on being credited and edits being made clear and the meaning of your work not distorted – there is the line you have drawn. You did not say “do what you want with my writing”. And with regard to copyrighted works you say that they shouldn’t be commercially exploited absent permission.

    My point is that the argument seems to keep turning to the absolute or extreme position whereas what we’re really all arguing about is where on the spectrum it is reasonable in principle to restrict speech.

  47. ukliberty:

    Paul, you insist on being credited and edits being made clear and the meaning of your work not distorted – there is the line you have drawn.

    That’s the line drawn by the licence. A choose to use the most popular copyleft licence for work of that type, because I think that is the best way to minimise the impact of copyright.

    You did not say “do what you want with my writing”.

    I don’t want to encourage that and I wouldn’t even without copyright. I don’t want to invite somebody to take those words, twist their meaning and post them elsewhere as if I’d said them.

    And with regard to copyrighted works you say that they shouldn’t be commercially exploited absent permission.

    No I don’t. The passage you quoted (with added emphasis) was:

    If copyright is to be retained, I believe that the first step that needs to be taken to make it fit for the 21st Century is to restrict it so it only applies to commercial copying and distribution;

    I’ve commented on this previously. That statement is pragmatic. There are people who do not prioritise liberty in the way I do, so rather than bang my head against a wall with an all or nothing approach that others may be instinctively hostile to, I’ve outlined a gradual approach which I think would make things at least a bit better.

  48. The early US had material property rights, but not intellectual monopolies, which is what we would be talking about and it did ok.

    As didn’t the Roman Empire, and indeed everywhere in the world pre-1710. And, in most areas where copyright, trademark and patents exist today, nearly everywhere in the generally-considered-civilised-at-the-time world for a very long time afterwards.

    Ian, the point which I can’t believe you don’t understand, but which you don’t seem to have addressed, is that ideas are non-rivalrous. Their marginal cost of production is zero. If you use your slate and chalk to draw a copy of my painting, I still have my painting to enjoy in exactly the same way as before. If you move onto my land (whether you kick me out or just occupy my spare room), I don’t.

    Therefore, the rules that are required to apply to property *don’t need to be applied to them for things to work*.

  49. That’s the line drawn by the licence. A choose to use the most popular copyleft licence for work of that type, because I think that is the best way to minimise the impact of copyright.

    “I chose it” – exactly, you chose to draw that line.

    I don’t want to invite somebody to take those words, twist their meaning and post them elsewhere as if I’d said them.

    Of course you don’t, who would?

    But there is your line; there are your restrictions on other people’s speech.

  50. ukliberty:

    “I chose it” – exactly, you chose to draw that line.

    No, the people who introduced copyright drew the line. I would not have drawn that line, but in a world in which it has been drawn, I have limited capacity to defend liberty by constraining the aggressive use of copyright. To be clear, I do not personally decide if copyright exists as a law.

    But there is your line; there are your restrictions on other people’s speech.

    No, nice try, but there is a significant difference between not encouraging something and restricting it. There are plenty of things I wouldn’t encourage you to do, but wouldn’t attempt to forcibly prevent you from doing.

  51. My line relates to the scale of sharing (and commercial exploitation absent permission, e.g. Newzbin). I’ve no problem with the lending (or equivalent) of “a film, book or song” or game to my family or friends. It is the sharing of a film, book, song or game with potentially everyone connected to the internet, absent permission – or the sharing of all the films, books, songs and games in one’s collection with potentially everyone connected to the internet, absent permission – that I object to.

    I am aware of several things, which some people said they wanted, which have not been produced because of the scale of sharing, so I’m not entirely sure how people have benefited in this sense. Certainly those particular people have complained that those things haven’t been produced.

    But I do not dispute that IP rules may go too far and merit scrutiny, nor do I dispute that entertainment sector associations may have gone too far, nor that DRM has gone too far (some DRM has been pretty offensive, IMO). And as I said in the previous thread related to copyright, I think copyright holders just have to get on with it and try to work out how to convert copiers into customers. But in principle I do not see it as an unjust restriction on the ‘freedom of expression’ that people are prohibited from sharing other people’s digital works absent permission on scales beyond “lending something to a mate”.

    (I guess I’m not well read; I thought freedom of expression was about being free to say things that others may find objectionable, not the freedom to lend or share things made by others.)

  52. But in principle I do not see it as an unjust restriction on the ‘freedom of expression’ that people are prohibited from sharing other people’s digital works absent permission on scales beyond “lending something to a mate”.

    Whether or not it is just is probably a matter for judgement. What we can say is that it is illiberal.

    I guess I’m not well read; I thought freedom of expression was about being free to say things that others may find objectionable, not the freedom to lend or share things made by others.

    I don’t view the restriction as being materially different just because the underlying motive for the restriction is profit rather than offence.

  53. Tim you are right, parody needs to mimic original, at least to the extent the audience can perceive the original expression. Therefore, if one has to make the original expression unperceivable in order to avoid infringement, there is no way to create parody as a logical consequence.

  54. Paul, you chose CC BY-SA instead of say CC0.

    And the following are restrictions: the person is allowed to re-use the text, “so long as the original source is made clear (by quoting my name and the url of the original work), it is made clear if any amendment or editing has been carried out and the text is not used in a defamatory way, such as using it out of context to distort the meaning [and] any work based on the original work must also be made available under the same licence.”

  55. @Jim Killock:

    “The point many of us are making is that copyright is a system which has to have some flexibility, like parody exceptions, or it becomes too harsh, even for its own credibility.”

    We don’t have a copyright exception for parody, but we produce more parody than anyone else.

    Nobody is in jail for their parodies, or gets raided at 5am, or even being summoned en masse to the Magistrates (as they are for non payment of the TV license).

    Jim’s job is to lobby for weaker copyright so naturally it is in his interest to say the law isn’t working, when the problem manifestly doesn’t exist.

  56. “What we can say is that it is illiberal”

    It’s not your stuff, so tough.

    You appear to have a swollen sense of entitlement. Fancy some new Nikes with your new Plasma? Just help yourself.

  57. Paul, you chose CC BY-SA instead of say CC0.

    And the following are restrictions: …

    If I could write on my blog “copyright now no longer exists” and make it so, I would. But as I said, I don’t have the ability to do that, so I have to work within my sphere of influence. Using CC0, I would be committing to not using copyright at all. By using a copyleft licence, I am committing to not using copyright aggressively, but reserving the right to use it defensively against copyright aggressors. I tend to view that as a better strategy to reduce the impact of copyright.

    And so ‘illiberal’ becomes almost as meaningless as ‘progressive’.

    Unfortunately, it has become, but not thanks to me. I use the term accurately and consistently. I say it is illiberal because it is incompatible with liberty, which is the sense the word should be used in.

  58. John B-

    Ian, the point which I can’t believe you don’t understand, but which you don’t seem to have addressed, is that ideas are non-rivalrous. Their marginal cost of production is zero.

    Why concentrate on the “marginal” cost? This is a deliberate misidrection. By stating this, it creates the impression that all that matters is costs of reproduction. The issue at stake is capital costs; which are the lion’s share of a reproduced medium, particularly digital. A movie may cost $100M or more to produce. Pointing out that it’s then (virtually) free to reproduce is besides the point. We are all agreed on that latter point.

    There are two similar but not quite the same issues; the first is, recouping capital investment. Without any means to do so, there is no capital investment.

    The second point is, as I have stated numerous times, the existence of a market for the product. Property rights are simply an essential ingredient of markets. You can’t have markets without property; and conversely if you have property there will be markets. (For instance, “personal” property rights- the right to your own body- produce a labour market.)

    And, regarding this “rivalrous” justification, I’ll just repeat that in other markets, anti-propertarians switch to saying that the market is unjust because the goods are rivalrous- e.g. land ownership denies access to the land to other people. It’s a red herring; it can be used either way around and is thus useless to the discussion.

    Here’s the key point- you say “if I copy your drawing, you still have it”. But the whole point I did my drawing was for you (or others) to have copies of it. It’s no use to me; the same as a carpenter makes chairs for others to sit on- he doesn’t need any more himself. If he can’t sell chairs to others, he won’t make chairs. Likewise, if the artist can’t sell pictures to other people, he won’t make pictures.

    Now this does leave a market for original works- the original painting, like the carpenter’s chair. But mass media is explicitly produced for reproduction. Nobody draws one comic to sell to one person; they are for sale as copies to thousands of people, or millions.

    So if you want a comics market, you must have reproduction property rights. If you don’t want one, fair enough, but be clear you are arguing for no comics (or, rather, just hobby comics). DC won’t pay somebody to draw Wonder Woman if they can’t sell thousands of WW comics to readers. It’s as simple as that.

    This is simple economics. Paul has admitted to that, shrugged and said, “don’t care”. Well I do care. I want comics, movies, and music. And so apparently do many other people, which is why they download them. If pro-pirates were honest and said to all the downloaders “when we win, there won’t be all this music and these movies” it wouldn’t be so bad. But it is fundamentally dishonest to claim there can be both.

    You can have free market production, or nationalised production (gawd help us) or no production. That is the choice here.

  59. Interestingly enough, here’s an example of Tim’s “change things a bit”.

    http://www.mercuryrapids.co.uk/geofflove/star_wars.htm

    Yes, I own this album :(

    Also, Paul-

    I am committing to not using copyright aggressively, but reserving the right to use it defensively against copyright aggressors.

    “Copyright aggressors”? What the fuck is a copyright aggressor? Why didn’t you just write “I waive all ownership of my work” on your website? Admit it, you feel like you have a right to say what is done with your work, don’t you?

  60. Steve J:

    It’s not your stuff, so tough.

    We aren’t discussing what the law says, but what we think it should say.

    You appear to have a swollen sense of entitlement.

    And you appear to have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Fancy some new Nikes with your new Plasma? Just help yourself.

    Try going back up the thread, acquainting yourself with the difference between tangible goods and non-rivalrous concepts and coming back down if you’ve got something relevant to offer.

  61. I am committing to not using copyright aggressively, but reserving the right to use it defensively against copyright aggressors.

    What is a “copyright aggressor”?

    I use the term [liberal] accurately and consistently.

    Someone scratches Paul’s car – a wide scratch almost the entire length of one side. Paul takes the car to the garage. “Please paint over the scratch,” he says to the staff.

    Paul returns later and his jaw drops. The new paint doesn’t match the rest of the car. Paul complains.

    “Your car is red, so we painted red over the scratch,” says the manager.

    “But it’s a different red!”

    “It’s red though, isn’t it?”

    “But it’s not the same red. My car is flame red. You’ve used satin red!” Paul shouts.

    “I am using red accurately and consistently,” the manager says.

  62. Ian B:

    “Copyright aggressors”? What the fuck is a copyright aggressor?

    As with violence, it is somebody who uses it first, rather as a means to defend against somebody else using it first.

    Why didn’t you just write “I waive all ownership of my work” on your website? Admit it, you feel like you have a right to say what is done with your work, don’t you?

    I explained the reasoning in my response to ukliberty. I’m not wasting my time trying to explain it to you in simpler terms that you might be able to grasp.

    anti-propertarians switch to saying that the market is unjust because the goods are rivalrous- e.g. land ownership denies access to the land to other people. It’s a red herring; it can be used either way around and is thus useless to the discussion.

    You’ve embarrassed yourself with this before. I’m aware of nobody who believes that there should be no exclusive rights over land. I certainly believe it makes sense because land is rivalrous. What many people have is an opinion about the way that those rights should be organised, due to the fact that locations are not man made.

  63. ukliberty:

    “I am using red accurately and consistently,” the manager says.

    Instead of silly irrelevant comments, why not tell us what definition of liberty you are working to which is compatible with intellectual monopolies.

  64. I’m aware of nobody who believes that there should be no exclusive rights over land.

    That’ll be your “the world actually is how I imagine it ought to be” filter working again then, Paul.

    The point is that your declaration of criteria “rivalrous”, “tangible” are red herrings. They are simply ways in which copyright is different to other propertarianisms. But all propertarian spheres have such differences. For instance, goods are manufacturable and movable; land is not either of those things. So a land communist can say “there should be property in goods, because more of them can be made, but not in land, because more cannot be made”. Which is indeed an argument frequently used by land reformers. The argument is that the inability to create more land makes monoopolising it unjust, whereas the ability to manufacture more toothbrushes makes goods properterianism acceptable.

    The argument can be turned to either purpose, so it is a useless criterion and thus irrelevant. It is no more use than saying, “it is fair to make black people slaves, because blacks are different to whites”. They are certianly different in that one sense (albedo) but that difference is irrelevant to the issue of slavery.

  65. guys- isn’t it all about whether you declare ownership or not? Even in nthe old USA, if you declared copyright, then you could have it. b And even now that they have rejoined the rest of the world, you can stillo enjoy copyright as long as you can demonstrate that you created the work in question.

  66. Paul,

    Instead of silly irrelevant comments…

    To spell it out for you, my point is about imprecision.

    Saying someone is illiberal because they don’t think freedom of expression extends to sharing other people’s work with billions of people absent permission is akin to saying flame red is red. Well, that’s true but it doesn’t tell us much.

    Do you think anyone who supports restrictions on speech is illiberal or does it depend on what the restrictions are? Or is it either on or off?

    why not tell us what definition of liberty you are working to which is compatible with intellectual monopolies.

    “Lend to your friend this book, film, song or game but don’t please don’t share it with the internet.” I think I said that earlier.

  67. Paul,

    As with violence, [a copyright aggressor] is somebody who uses it first, rather as a means to defend against somebody else using it first.

    So you don’t waive copyright over your work, in case someone uses copyright against you? How can someone use copyright against you?

  68. Ian B:

    The point is that your declaration of criteria “rivalrous”, “tangible” are red herrings.

    Maybe to you, but not to libertarians.

    The argument can be turned to either purpose, so it is a useless criterion and thus irrelevant.

    I think your nebulous trade criterion is useless and irrelevant. You don’t agree with my point because you aren’t libertarian. I don’t agree with your point because I’m not working from whatever basis you’re working from.

  69. @IanB:

    The anti-capitalists have latched onto copyright as a proxy war against The Man.

    Copyright has enough aspects of “property” to be considered a property right. We can build markets on that, and do, quite successfully.

    Copyright hasn’t been actually been about physical copies of things since performance rights were established 180 years ago.

    No business is obliged to go broke on PaulB’s behalf, the poor duckie.

  70. Steve J:

    @PaulB:

    Try familiarising yourself with the Berne Convention.

    I’ll assume that’s directed at me.

    So what. The Berne Convention exists. It can be opted out of, ignored and torn up. It isn’t a law of nature. It’s not like suggesting we abolish gravity.

  71. ukliberty:

    “Lend to your friend this book, film, song or game but don’t please don’t share it with the internet.” I think I said that earlier.

    That’s not a definition of liberty, it’s just your view of what people should. Do you want to know liberal had it’s meaning perverted? It’s people doing that kind of thing – treating it as something which means nothing more than what they want at a given moment in time.

    So you don’t waive copyright over your work, in case someone uses copyright against you? How can someone use copyright against you?

    They can using it against anyone, by not passing on the same freedom of expression.

  72. @Paul:

    “So what. The Berne Convention exists. It can be opted out of, ignored and torn up. It isn’t a law of nature. It’s not like suggesting we abolish gravity.”

    How do you set about doing this? Can you cost it up for us?

    And don’t forget TRIPs. You’ll need to unilaterally withdraw from that.

  73. “You aren’t a libertarian”

    Sigh.

    There are two different groups claiming currently to be libertarian; the dominant one is people like me- individualist-propertarian-capitalists or whatever. The minority- effectively entryist- grouping is leftist, collectivist, anti-propertarian and anti-capitalist.

    That’s you, that is.

    Leftists have lots of words already, having most famously stolen “liberal” from us. Here’s the deal- you get to use all those other words- left, liberal, socialist, mutualist, collectivist, communitarian, communist, any you like. We get to keep “libertarian”. Deal?

  74. “That is the choice here”

    There are many shades of grey between your position and Paul’s, as far as I can tell. The practical issues are what term of copyright is desirable, and what types of IP rights exist.

    I am happy to support copyright and, say, pharma patents, but not happy to support patents on trivial software algorithms, and I am hugely uncomfortable about retrospective extensions of copyright terms to 75 years and beyond.

  75. Paul,

    So you don’t waive copyright over your work, in case someone uses copyright against you? How can someone use copyright against you?

    They can using it against anyone, by not passing on the same freedom of expression.

    Sorry, but that’s not very clear. What is the process or procedure here? IOW, in what way can I potentially use copyright against you, such that this potential use disinclines you to waive copyright?

  76. Ian B:

    There are two different groups claiming currently to be libertarian; the dominant one is people like me- individualist-propertarian-capitalists or whatever.

    I think the statist neo-conservative entryists like yourself aren’t as dominant as you think.

    The minority- effectively entryist- grouping is leftist, collectivist, anti-propertarian and anti-capitalist. That’s you, that is.

    I’m certainly not collectivist – that’s a better description of you. We’ve already established that your general “anti-propertarian” term is absurd because everybody is anti some property and pro some property. Capitalism seems to mean something different everyone, so I’m not even going to bother with that one, as with the leftist part.

    We get to keep “libertarian”. Deal?

    No, liberal has already been corrupted beyond repair, but hopefully there may still be a chance for libertarian to retain some meaning that actually relates to its origin and reflects the Jefferson/Spencerian conception of liberty, rather than being perverted by another group pushing inconsistent gibberish.

    You don’t value liberty, so why call yourself a libertarian? Why not call yourself a propertarian, or something else that reflects a concept you do value.

  77. Ian: you’re using a utilitarian justification here. Which is fine; I also believe that a compulsory state-imposed monopoly can be necessary in order to encourage innovation and creativity. But it’s not ‘rights’-based.

    (the term ‘intellectual property’ was invented in the late 19th century by people who benefited from said monopolies, because they thought it sounded better than ‘state-imposed monopoly’. Their trick worked.)

    In certain areas – mostly technology rather than arts – your argument very clearly holds. Why bother spending a billion quid on a new microprocessor or a new drug if the bloke down the road can just copy it? But there are only two areas of the entertainment industry where this is significant: film/TV production and computer games production – because they’re the only areas where large upfront investment analogous to technological innovation is required.

    In every other area, the utilitarian part of your argument simply doesn’t work: literary, historical and academic writers don’t make any money as it is, so clearly don’t fit into your “only in it for the $” model. Hobbyist recording and graphic art tools are up to the standard of professional tools, and a bloke in a shed with a couple of PCs can make critically acclaimed (and mass-popular) music. While Dan Brown and Simon Cowell are driven by money and would give up if there wasn’t any available, the vast majority – bordering on all – decent art isn’t.

    I wouldn’t go that far; as I’ve repeatedly said, I think continuing to have state-imposed monopolies in this area is the right thing to do, but with vastly shorter terms that grant vastly greater rights to the public (approximately, put copyright on the same framework as patents: if you can’t commercialise it within 20ish years, then the reason you were making it wasn’t commercial anyway). Dan and Simon still get their megabucks; meanwhile Kazuo and Leonard get a few extra quid on top of the literary-circuiting and concert-performing that actually pays the mortgage. But there isn’t a 100-year dead hand preventing the reuse of artistic works.

  78. ukliberty:

    in what way can I potentially use copyright against you, such that this potential use disinclines you to waive copyright?

    You could take a piece of work that I’ve waived copyright on, build on it and not waive the copyright yourself, preventing me and others using that piece of work in the same way you were able to use mine.

  79. ukliberty:

    Well, that makes sense, but that is a restriction on my speech.

    How does that restrict your speech?

    All I can see it restricting is your ability to restrict the speech of others.

  80. Paul, to be clear, your ‘licence’ appears to forbid me from doing whatever I want with the text I copy from your website.

    Unless specified otherwise, any text in one of my blog postings for which I hold the copyright is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Licence, which, in simple terms, allows the re-use of the text, so long as the original source is made clear (by quoting my name and the url of the original work), it is made clear if any amendment or editing has been carried out and the text is not used in a defamatory way, such as using it out of context to distort the meaning. Any work based on the original work must also be made available under the same licence.

    I am not allowed to copy your work without crediting you. I am not allowed to copy and edit the copy without making the edit clear. I am not allowed to distort the meaning of the copy.

    again,

    I don’t want to invite somebody to take those words, twist their meaning and post them elsewhere as if I’d said them.

    Those are all restrictions on my speech. And I have no problem with those restrictions – indeed I agree with them – it is you who has been saying you don’t believe in restricting speech etc.

    (Is it just me?!)

    I’m off to bed now.

  81. ukliberty:

    I am not allowed to copy your work without crediting you. I am not allowed to copy and edit the copy without making the edit clear. I am not allowed to distort the meaning of the copy.

    As I’ve already said, I cannot unilaterally abolish copyright. Therefore I have a couple of choices, I can grant freedom to use my words in such a way that others have less opportunity to restrict the freedom of others, through the use of a common licence, or I can do it in such a way that others can restrict the freedom of others.

    As my aim is to reduce negative impact of copyright, I made a strategic decision to do the former.

    If you want more freedom to use my words and words in general, I want you to have it and ensure that everyone else has it and has it for all works including on my words and any other works out there. So if you do want it, step up and argue for the abolition of copyright and if you choose not to stand up for liberty, don’t complain about me doing what I can.

    I don’t want to invite somebody to take those words, twist their meaning and post them elsewhere as if I’d said them.

    As I’ve already said, not encouraging somebody to do something is not the same as preventing them.

    As an example, encouraging you not to drink raw milk would not be the same as forcibly preventing you from drinking raw milk. Is that a clear explanation?

    (Is it just me?!)

    Possibly.

  82. Steve J – “Nobody is in jail for their parodies, or gets raided at 5am, or even being summoned en masse to the Magistrates (as they are for non payment of the TV license).”

    Someone is in jail for their parody of the Simpsons. If that is the right word. Some idiot drew genitals on a few of the Simpson’s cartoon characters and is now doing time for child porn.

    No, I am not making that up either.

  83. John B-

    Two points.

    First, let’s get away from this glurging of the word “monoopoly”. All property rights are trivially monopolies. Married couple monopolise one another. I monopolise my toothbrush. And so on. This trivial usage of the word is deliberately misused to imply the proper usage of the word in which States grant exclusive rights to industries; the East India Company, the Brewers’ Guild, the Doctors’ Guild. Etc.

    These two things are quite profoundly different. DC comics “monopolise” only their own created work, such as Wonder Woman and comics starring her (the first is really a trademark but let’s not get too finicky). They have no monopoly on comics, or on superheroines, or the industry. Anyone is free to produce a competing superheroine comic; the simply can’t use Wonder Woman, who is only one of an infinite number of possible superheroines, nor copy the *specific* comics drawn about her. So to use the word “monopoly” implying that this forces competitors out of the marketplace- which is the reason true monopolies are disliked- is simply disingenuous.

    As I keep saying, copyright simply grants a property right over WW and the comics; it is not a special privilege as is constantly implied by the copycommies. Production of these comics is not privileged over any other comic, or any other art form by it.

    This is a really important point in this discussion. The word “monopoly” is being used in a perjorative manner to imply something corrupt, when there is no such thing.

    The freedom to produce any comic, with any characters, remains. This is why Paul et al can’t explain the simple point “why don’t you just draw your own comics, and ignore copyright”.

    Your other point is economically wrong. Movies and video games are most expensive to produce; but all art has an immense opportunity cost. The relative cheapness of the tools compared to the past ignores the labour costs. An artist needs to be full time; production of a comic costs the full time labour of several workers- writers, artists, inkers, colourists, editors, etc etc. The idea that this can, or should, switch to bedroom hobbyists is silly.

    And the idea that it should do so is frankly insulting to creators. There seems to be an idea that artists or writers should be creating their work in their spare time, around a paying job, and then delightedly give it away for free. With no hope of remuneration. No hope of a career.

    People do work in order to get paid for it. This is perfectly reasonable and the basis of the market economy. So when you come out with this–

    Hobbyist recording and graphic art tools are up to the standard of professional tools, and a bloke in a shed with a couple of PCs can make critically acclaimed (and mass-popular) music. While Dan Brown and Simon Cowell are driven by money and would give up if there wasn’t any available, the vast majority – bordering on all – decent art isn’t.

    You’re demanding an end to professional musicians, writers, illustrators. And actors, directors, lighting technicians, makeup artists, recording engineers. They’re not doing decent art, apparently. The “real” artists will be enough, no doubt, with their endless variations on Star Trek fanfic. And hey, some teenager will draw you a Wonder Woman comic. Whether he’ll be of the calibre of Adam Hughes… well, I doubt that, somehow.

    People need to be paid for work John. For heaven’s sake, man. Connect with reality.

  84. SMFS: Wasn’t that in Australia, or has there been a case in England too?

    It horrifies me that I can sit down with a writing pad and pencil in an otherwise empty room and commit a crime punishable by several years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender’s register.

  85. SMFS-

    Someone is in jail for their parody of the Simpsons. If that is the right word. Some idiot drew genitals on a few of the Simpson’s cartoon characters and is now doing time for child porn.

    That’s nothing to do with copyright and everything to do with the resurgent “Hip To Be Square” puritanism I keep talking about. After gays were embraced into The Movement, the social purity mob (via feminism) had to switch to somebody else and “homo” morphed into “paedo”, etc.

    Hence somebody like me now sits here looking at a drawing I’ve done worrying that Plod will convince himself it looks under 18. This is the madness of the puritan state.

  86. Paul-

    Therefore I have a couple of choices, I can grant freedom to use my words in such a way that others have less opportunity to restrict the freedom of others, through the use of a common licence, or I can do it in such a way that others can restrict the freedom of others.

    I have read this posting several times and it still reads like gibberish. You still have not explained how applying copyright terms to your writing will affect “others restricting the freedom of others”. Who are these others?

    Can you give an illustrative example of some usage of your words which, sans the terms you specify, somebody else’s liberty will be restricted? What might happen that you are concerned about?

  87. Steve J // Feb 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    @Jim Killock:

    “The point many of us are making is that copyright is a system which has to have some flexibility, like parody exceptions, or it becomes too harsh, even for its own credibility.”

    We don’t have a copyright exception for parody, but we produce more parody than anyone else.

    Nobody is in jail for their parodies, or gets raided at 5am, or even being summoned en masse to the Magistrates (as they are for non payment of the TV license).

    Jim’s job is to lobby for weaker copyright so naturally it is in his interest to say the law isn’t working, when the problem manifestly doesn’t exist.

    We’ve plenty of examples of takedowns but also of the sheer uncertainty the lack of a parody exception creates, especially for campaigners, but also for small artists. See:

    http://www.righttoparody.org.uk/parodies

    Would a parody exception and other flexibilities weaken copyright? I don’t think so. Flexible systems tend to be stronger, because they bend where needed, rather than cracking and shattering.

    The current UK system, which provides no flexibility often cracks, in the sense that free speech impacts are highly visible when parody takedowns take place, and this reduces its overall legitimacy.

    Perhaps ironically for copyright lobbyists who frequently like to portray ORG, EFF and Creative Commons as people set to destroy copyright, we are in fact arguing for reasonable reform and sensible limits which probably are the key to the survival of copyright as a system.

    Meanwhile the antics of grown up, paid versions of IanB threaten to destroy or fatally undermine copyright, by pursuing policies like the ACTA treaty, UK Digital Economy Act and SOPA in the USA .

    It’ll be interesting to see if the copyright maximalists learn from this.

  88. Ian, it’s attempting to prevent somebody taking some part of the work, using it in another piece of work and actively asserting their monopoly over it. That’s the concept behind copyleft.

  89. Matthew L – “Wasn’t that in Australia, or has there been a case in England too?”

    I guess Australia. There is no reason why it can’t happen in the UK. An American was jailed for writing a fantasy story about the kidnap and rape of a young girl. He never did it but it was enough to get him hard time.

    “It horrifies me that I can sit down with a writing pad and pencil in an otherwise empty room and commit a crime punishable by several years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender’s register.”

    I am more concerned about the absurdities of the law. There are Japanese cartoons where the age of the female characters have had to be raised in the American version to stay clear of the law. I have seen one where one of the female character’s age was changed from 17 to 18. Not that I recall any sexual acts but being a Japanese cartoon I assume there must have been. So the question is, if I watch it in the original Japanese am I violating child porn laws?

    92 Ian B – “That’s nothing to do with copyright and everything to do with the resurgent “Hip To Be Square” puritanism I keep talking about.”

    Sure. I was not implying otherwise.

    “Hence somebody like me now sits here looking at a drawing I’ve done worrying that Plod will convince himself it looks under 18. This is the madness of the puritan state.”

    But you have no problem with the idea of the State intervening in case it looks too much like a cartoon drawn in 1917. Odd.

  90. SMFS-

    So the question is, if I watch it in the original Japanese am I violating child porn laws?

    Yes. Plod used the law to jail the sad old remnants of the old Paedophile Information Exchange for having hentai on their computers, a few months back.

    But you have no problem with the idea of the State intervening in case it looks too much like a cartoon drawn in 1917. Odd.

    They’re different issues. Most significantly in this context, copyright laws should be a matter of distribution rather than possession; having a “borrowed” copy of a movie shouldn’t be an offence. Distribution of it is the issue, not possession. Like UKLiberty, I support copyright but not, as per Killock’s assertions, the current methods of enforcing it or legislation surrounding it, which are disproportionate and counterproductive. Unfortunately, the chances of a sensible discussion on such matters have been ruined by the copycommies and their “you can’t stop us, haha!”; an approach which guarantees that the State will say “oh yes we can” and bring in something appalling and draconian, as we are now seeing with new copyright enforcement regimes.

  91. Yes. Plod used the law to jail the sad old remnants of the old Paedophile Information Exchange for having hentai on their computers, a few months back.

    That’s interesting because under UK, it cannot be a cartoon, it has to be a “pseudo photograph” (‘an image, whether made by computer graphics or otherwise, which appears to be a photograph’.). So most hentai, which is obviously a cartoon, is legal.

    I went through this, exhaustively, when the Lisa blowing Bart cartoon was ‘popular’. Opinion, of counsel and of both the Met CCU & their paedo squad was that it fell outside POCA78

  92. Ian,

    My apologies – the law has been changed since we went through it – we now have “Prohibited Images of Children”, in accordance with s62 Coroners & Justice Act 2009.

    Hentai may be legal but only if it is the full film and that has been granted a UK certificate. Lisa / Bart almost certainly isn’t now under s62(7)(a).

  93. SE,

    no need for an apology. As a purveyor of rude toonery, I am personally intensely aware of the issue for obvious reasons. “Harman’s Law” is, by the by, a classic example of the problem with modern governance; major legal changes are pushed through on bills which are collections of measures, with barely any discussion or awareness of the issue.

    It also demonstrates the major problem that when society is in the grip of a moral panic, Parliaments are useless because parliamentarians will fall over themselves to display to the public how moral they are and keen to Get Something Done. The kind of moral panics that Jim Killock and his activism industry pals spend their entire careers whipping up.

    That brings me to something I was going to do a separate comment on; a quick look at Jim and his mates on their website reveals an interesting set of affiliations- Green Party, Demos thinktank (spun off rebranding from Marxism Today[1]), Unite union, etc. All professional left-activists.

    It’s pretty clear that their motivation is, as Jim says above,

    We’ve plenty of examples of takedowns but also of the sheer uncertainty the lack of a parody exception creates, especially for campaigners, but also for small artists.

    -to prevent a legal framework in which activist orgs cannot be challenged by Evil Corporations, giving them the unchallenged right to slander-by-”parody”. The same activist network that has led us into ruthless speech controls; on “obscenity”, “hate speech”, and so on and whose members have actively and ruthlessly sought to stifle opposing voices, e.g. on climate change.

    We now live in a society where a woman mouthing off on a tram becomes the victim of a national witch hunt, in which an author making a joke about facial coverings is detained at an airport. All wrought by the same groups that Jim is closely affiliated to. But oh, it’s suddenly a crime against liberty when somebody isn’t allowed to “mash up” another person’s work in order to villify them in a well-organised, well funded leftist campaign.

    Very much a “speech for us, not for you” thing, I fear.

    [1] “How dare you call us commies?!!!111

  94. An American was jailed for writing a fantasy story about the kidnap and rape of a young girl. He never did it but it was enough to get him hard time.

    That sounds unlikely, given the whole First Amendment thing (which also saved the Yanks from suffering a Harman’s Law).

    Maybe a Canadian – certainly, written child porn stories are illegal there, which is a piece of lunacy even the UK hasn’t adopted.

  95. Given SMFS never goes to the trouble of supporting his assertions with evidence, I’m not sure why anyone bothers taking them seriously.

  96. And by way of a final (?) comment, I was interested to see that Guernsey is currently on draft legislation which will allowing people effectively to copyright themselves – that is, their “image… voice, signature, characteristics, likeness, appearance” etc – and will extend to photographs, illustrations, and electronic representations. Granted, they’re planning to include a fair dealing defence, but…blimey!

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