Category: Copyright

All That We Have Lost

As writers we exist in a nebulous sphere of confusion and discord when it comes to copyright. We obviously want our works protected and only earning money for us, their creator. We also know that in order to build our audience we need to get our works out there for the public to see. These two concepts seem to work against each other. Added to this is the various content industries’ assertion that every work that is not paid for is effectively stolen. This notion largely is in error. I have read many a book or listened to many a CD of material that I wasn’t looking to purchase. In some cases I enjoyed what I experienced so much I did seek out and purchase the content for myself. Yet when it comes to the digital world we are constantly reminded that piracy is everywhere and to that end we have allowed several our our personal liberties to be taken away by the upholders and protectors of copyright profits. Do I have a solution. Not even close.

I came across this article on TorrentFreak pointing out some of the liberties we have lost in the ever escalating war on piracy. It is an interesting read and when you think of it we probably should have been more enraged by some of these. In Memory of the Liberties Lost In the War on Piracy

Monkeys Need Not Apply

monkey selfieI noticed this story on The Register that made me scratch my head. US Copyright Office rules that monkeys CAN’T claim copyright over their selfies I don’t personally know many monkeys but I guess some have tried to copyright their selfies. The skeptic in me sent me looking for some corroboration and I did find several news sources reporting the story. Actually the regulation states that the rights to such photos only reside with humans. I know animal discrimination at its worst.

30 Years Since the Betamax Became Legal

So it’s been 30 years since the collapse of the movie industry, uh I mean the Supreme Court ruled that time shifting of shows using video recorders was legal. Torrent Freak has an interesting article looking back at the MPAA’s four arguments against allowing video recorders in peoples’ homes. They all look kind of silly now but in many ways they cropped up again with MP3 players and are still cropping up, but you can read them for yourself here.

Public Libraries Show Why Sharing Culture Should Never Have Been Banned in the First Place

I am borrowing this post from one of my work blogs, MCLC TechTalk, because I think it underlines some interesting points about digital rights and what it means to share items. Would you buy a pair of pants with a smart chip in them that once you wore them it activates and only allows you to put them on? Anyone else and the chip senses the skin type and poof, they breakdown and fall to threads. Yet we are so quick to purchase electronic media with similar code written into it. This is not piracy. This is having the liberty to do what we want with the things we have paid for. At any rate that’s enough of me, read the article yourselves and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Public Libraries Show Why Sharing Culture Should Never Have Been Banned in the First Place, from Torrent Freak.

Copyright, Piracy and the Troubled Waters We Tread

pirate_flagAll of our laws begin with a noble idea seeking to right a wrong or protect the innocent. Copyright law is no different. No one would ever say that an artist does not deserve to be compensated for his or her work. That is the noble idea that copyright law came into being to protect. I agree with that 100%. The only one who should profit from my brain regurgitation is me or my family. But what happens when copyright veers from that noble goal? Is copyright a guarantee if profit?

Ever try borrowing a current bestseller from the library? Well you can’t. How about lending your eBook copy of Hunger Games to your sister, not going to happen. Current eBooks are swaddled in DRM that severely limits what users can do with them all in the name of thwarting piracy. What does piracy have to do with copyright? Well in our modern age if you aren’t paying for your digital content you’re probably pirating it. Funny I am giving away copies of my works all the time to build my audience and for reviews, not piracy. Borrowing a book from the library and reading it also not piracy, now try to convince publishers of that.

One other area of copyright that some run a foul of concerns movies and television shows. Buy a blu-ray of The Avengers and want to watch it on your phone or tablet? Well get yourself an eye patch and three corner hat. Oh you can pay for a copy to run on your device in addition to the disc you just bought. If you are fortunate to have a device that will play then files in that come with some releases even better. Television is an other matter. Over a year ago we dropped our satellite service and instead rely on streaming. We have subscriptions with Netflix, Hulk + and Amazon Prime. We also have a digital antenna for local broadcasts but there are a few shows that are cable only. The streaming services are great for older shows but current ones are not so lucky. In truth it is quicker and easier to torrent the show than it is to find it on one of the streaming services that we pay for. That noble idea of copyright is starting to become a real pain in my digital ass. All I am saying is I am willing to pay for the content I enjoy but I can’t even do that. So churns the waters.

One last area that stokes my fire concerns emulators. An emulator is a piece of software that tricks a computer into acting like another. Emulators are not illegal to create own or even buy. The programs, called roms, that run on the emulator are a different matter. By all interpretations of current copyright law these files are illegal. Own them amounts to theft but let’s look at this. Suppose you want to rekindle your adolescence with some rounds of Mario Kart but you have long since parted ways with your SNES. In one scenario you could download an emulator and the rom for Mario Kart and enjoy. You would be a pirate, breaking the law and Nintendo doesn’t get a dime. In scenario two you could hunt down an old system from a garage sale or eBay and the game cartridge.  You would be completely within the legal confines of the law but Nintendo still doesn’t get a dime. Are you starting to see a flaw in this?

No technology can arrive without causing some disruption in the status quo. Just think what the printing press did for all those medieval scriptoriums. It would be foolish to think technology can enable a wild west mentality at least until the laws catch up. The danger we face is in not recognizing when the mechanisms of protecting business models no longer relevant are allowed to slip into the codification of law.  At that point we are all adrift. Arrrgh maties.

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Why Your Kindle Isn’t Welcome at the Library

Truth in Lending

I saw this post on the Librarian in Black Sarah Houghton’s blog and found it interesting and worth sharing here. The frustration felt by many librarians must be extraordinary as more and more patrons come in asking why they can’t borrow the latest books for their readers. Libraries would love to serve their Kindle and Nook owning patrons. Publishers would really love to sell their books to those same patrons. Unfortunately the publishers have the law behind them.

What is a reader to do? What is a librarian to do? Making people aware of the situation is the best way to start. Alerting patrons to alternatives to big ticket eBooks (for lack of a better term) is also a good idea. There are many inexpensive works from independent authors as well as free public domain works. Libraries can still supply their patrons with books, even the e variety, but it may be through a different medium than the circulation desk. The patron may come back not because they have to to return the book but for another suggestion. Imagine a library as a place where readers come to share good reads. In an increasingly digital world this may be the key to the library’s survival.

Here is  a link to the full article http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2012/02/ebooksign.html

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The Tangled Web of Copyright

I came across this article from the Smashwords Blog in my Twitter feed. I think it opens up an interesting discussion on the role and intent of copyright versus the reality of it. More than that I think it shows how influences can reveal themselves in unexpected ways.

One of my favorite bands is the English group The Cure. The song of thier’s that really hooked me was Charlotte Sometimes. Here is a clip of them performing it. What I didn’t know was that it is based on an English Children’s novel of the same name written by Penelope Farmer. I never knew about the book but you can bet I am seeking a copy out. You can read the blog post here and I recommend you read the two included posts from Penelope Farmer.

I have been asked and I have read questions from writers asking about filing a copyright. All work is automatically under coyright and only becomes an issue when theft occurs. So, after reading the above articles I really have to wonder how best to define theft. To my knowledge nothing I have every written has been turned into a song. I would be thrilled if that was the case. The same goes for a movie or play. The real question I have is, would I recognize such a work as being influenced by my writing or stolen from my writing? I would like to think it would be the former and not the latter. Then again I may be funny like that.

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