A Look At 'Ownership' Society

from the it's-gotten-out-of-hand dept

We’re big fans here of the WNYC radio show On The Media which regularly covers a number of the same issues we cover here at Techdirt. So we were quite thrilled to hear that their latest episode was entirely devoted to one of our favorite topics: The Past, Present, and Future of Ownership, mostly as it relates to ownership of things that are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. There were lots of great segments:

  • The Current State of Ownership: which covered the DRM Chair, and also talks to one of our favorite scholars on the subject, Professor James Boyle, about how the concept of “ownership” of culture has gone too far.
  • Happy Birthday: which explored the history of the song and the claims that Warner Music owns it — even though all of the evidence suggests that Happy Birthday is 100% in the public domain. In the segment, producer PJ Vogt suggests that he wanted to test this by putting up a version of the song on iTunes, but unfortunately, their lawyers nixed that idea.
  • Fan Fiction and the Law: in which they talk to another of our favorite scholars, Rebecca Tushnet on the nature of fair use.
  • 3D Printing, in which Chris Anderson explains how 3D printing is going to change the world in amazing and astounding ways.
  • Don’t Screw It Up, in which Public Knowledge’s Michael Weinberg worries about politicians killing off all those amazing and astounding things that Chris Anderson talked about once they freak out about how 3D printing will disrupt a bunch of industries.
  • Plaigiarism: Maybe It’s Not So Bad where they talk to professor Kenneth Goldsmith, the new poet laureate of the NY MOMA, who apparently thinks that plagiarism is an art form. He apparently has his students buy an online term paper, hand it in, and then has them defend it as if it was their own. At one point, he notes that students are doing this anyway, so he might as well teach them to be better at it.

All in all a great program for folks interested in these topics. There was only one segment that I found disappointing. I get the feeling someone at OTM felt they needed someone to represent “the other side” of the argument that “ownership society” has gone too far, and so they had musician and critic of the “new media world,” David Lowery (you may recall him from the past, like when he claimed that Apple iTunes did nothing more than host songs, leaving out the whole aspect of bringing everyone together, processing payments, etc.) In that segment, he chooses to take a swipe at The Sky is Rising report, which I co-authored, and he does so by completely misrepresenting what’s in the report, as he has done in the past. I responded in the comments on that story on OTM’s own site, and a lively discussion has ensued. Furthermore, Lowery took a completely gratuitous swipe at Amanda Palmer, bizarrely suggesting that the only reason she’s successful is her penchant for getting naked. His disdain for someone who actually is successful by embracing fans and the internet is quite clear and insulting to the thousands of artists who have found success online whether or not they get naked. I don’t mind people disagreeing with my opinion, but flat out saying we said stuff we never said is pretty bad, as is gratuitous insults for successful artists like Amanda Palmer, and it hurts OTM’s reputation to present such things in that format.

Either way, it’s great to see the rest of the segments get public attention, as more and more people are recognizing that copyright law today is broken, and is creating a society where a focus on “ownership” takes things so far, as to actually hinder the rights of the public in dangerous ways.

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Comments on “A Look At 'Ownership' Society”

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65 Comments
bobsays:

Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

We’ve tried this experiment before. It’s called “Death of the Commons.”

Now wait, you might say, we’ve got the Creative Commons now. Everything’s different in the digital space. But it isn’t. The Creative Commons doesn’t pay for health care. The Creative Commons doesn’t pay for food. It has the same problem as the physical commons: the rules encourage people to take, take and take some more without contributing anything.

I like the Creative Commons. It’s a nice set of licenses for hobbyists. But let’s not forget that we’re seeing the same impoverishment of photographers, artists and anyone who uses it. We’re seeing the same impoverishment of the people who use and contribute to commons as we saw in the physical commons.

Ownership of our work product gives people the ability to bargain for a better life. Stripping away ownership lets Big Search, Big Hardware and Big Piracy get rich without giving anything to the creators. Why do you think they fund blogs like this and tenured professors?

bobsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

First, what’s wrong with the publishers and the authors getting rich for creating something that sells well? It allows them to buy healthcare, food, and housing. There are often hundreds if not thousands of employees who are carried by this wealth.

And you’re absolutely wrong about common memes and ideas. Disney is one of the most brutal and demanding copyright owners out there and they’ve created plenty of memes and extended others.

The same goes for groups like Sesame Street, the Muppets, and Peanuts. All of them deploy plenty of lawyers to lock down the intellectual property rights. But you would be hard pressed to point to a single creative-commons protected work that has produced a meme that has 1/10th the penetration of society.

Face it. Many of the most dominant memes are sustained by copyright.

Now let’s talk sharing. While I understand the complexity and frustration around fan fiction, people still manage to share these memes very easily with their friends. They may have trouble remixing them and making money, but they have no trouble simply sharing the books, movies etc with their friends by loaning the copies. (And by sharing, I don’t mean the definition pushed by Pirate Bay. I mean loaning copies.)

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

The problem is that it is often only the publishers that get rich, and the creators maybe only get the advance. That is why a few famous tsars ask for huge advances. The starving artist still happens, despite publishers making money.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

“First, what’s wrong with the publishers and the authors getting rich for creating something that sells well?”

Absolutely nothing…as long as it doesn’t involve everyone’s speech being censored just so some other person can have the attempt to make a buck…or fears that someone won’t buy.

Plus…you don’t even know what a meme is. If you’re talking about Internet memes…they exist mainly in violation of copyright. I’ve viewed many a meme in my time. Of course the best known example is the Rick roll, which is…drum roll please…infringement!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

If an industry once could feed a thousand mouths with a single work, does that entitle the businessmodel to become exclusive to others? I am not against copyright as a concept, but the people defending them are generally depending on a businessmodel that is no longer sustainable.

In my country music in my native language was deemed to not be worth it in around 2009 by the big labels using the thousand mouths model. Today, the music getting put out by independents is of a higher quality and amount than before. Enough to get both musicians and experts excited on national tv. Remove the old economic model and quality will increase since the artists have more creative room. Remove the talent-scouts and needle-eye of the demo-tape and the get a more varied musical universe. The bands do not do it for the money anymore they do it because it is their passion and the value of passion over popification is huge…

Just saying that the old model with caviar, car and coke is over and a larger diversity is making for an improvement in some ways. That many memes are sustained by big copyright doesn’t make a good argument for copyright, it only makes a case for market-penetration where creative commons ao. are at a big disadvantage due to the lack of advertisement.

Beechsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

“what’s wrong with the publishers and the authors getting rich for creating something that sells well? It allows them to buy healthcare, food, and housing.”

helping them buy healthcare food and housing is a noble goal i dont think many here would be against. but buying diamond plated yachts, mega-mansions, and servants while doing everything possible to pay as little as possible back into the system is a bit more reprehensible.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

So you are saying Dracula didn’t create the vampire meme?
Frankenstein didn’t create a whole new genre?
Greek tragedy and mythology doesn’t create memes these day?

Disney stole almost all of their works from the public domain.

Cinderella anyone?

About fans trying to be fans, well tell that to everyone who got a DMCA takedown, there are literally thousands of video complainst about the subject on Youtube alone.

Doubt?
Just type DMCA, Crap DMCA or fuck you (some company) and you will see.

Chosen Rejectsays:

Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

Hear hear. Until Copyright came out, everyone just took from the public domain which was empty because no one created.

Da Vinci? Never existed.
Shakespeare? Completely fabricated by Bram Cohen.
Homer? Another lie propogated by Big Search.
Bach, Beethoven, Handel? Pirate Bay creations from whole cloth.

I know these techdirt freetards don’t like the truth, bob, but you must keep preaching truth to power. The truth will out, and someday, bob, so will you. Three cheers.

bobsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

Hey, I never said it was impossible without copyright and ownership but it was much harder. In Da Vinci’s time, only the rich could create art. Copyright allows democratization of art by allowing the artist to making a living on what they do best. They don’t need a rich father or sugar daddy.

Since copyright, there’s been a huge explosion of creativity largely sustained by copyright. There are 100s of times more songs released today then there were during Bach’s time when only the rich could play the organ.

And don’t forget that Shakespeare put up a paywall on the Globe theater and sold tickets.

So you’re basically proposing that artists be stripped of their ability to sell their work and so they’ll survive on tips and the gracious support of rich people. Wonderful plan to turn all of the artists into beggars.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

” In Da Vinci’s time, only the rich could create art.”

No…anyone and everyone, throughout history, can and have been able to create art. You’re narrowing your scope to only those who are household names.

Copyright doesn’t allow an artist to make a living on what they do best. They can already do that. An artist can teach his skills to a class for a fee and copyright has nothing to do with it (in fact, copyright can and has hindered just that, especially with public domain music being yanked back under copyright and music teachers being left out in the cold). An artist can still sell his work. Copyright doesn’t grant anything new to an artist that he previously didn’t have before.

“Since copyright, there’s been a huge explosion of creativity largely sustained by copyright. There are 100s of times more songs released today then there were during Bach’s time when only the rich could play the organ.”

Of course, you ignore the fact that education, better and faster methods of travel and communication, and general progress in technology is vastly more responsible.
How many times have you said that because of copyright, people are forced to try and create new works…yet the biggest proponents of copyright, Hollywood, are constantly doing sequels, prequels and reboots?

“And don’t forget that Shakespeare put up a paywall on the Globe theater and sold tickets.”
Again, you haven’t got the foggiest idea what a paywall is.

“So you’re basically proposing that artists be stripped of their ability to sell their work and so they’ll survive on tips and the gracious support of rich people. Wonderful plan to turn all of the artists into beggars.”

Nope. Wrong. AGAIN! I’m for artists. I’m an artist myself (amateur photographer, and am in the process of learning how to play piano). Not once has anyone here said “Artists shouldn’t sell works”. If you want my opinion, artists shouldn’t have the legal monopoly over their works, which is a very clear distinction.
Given that the marketplace for content is now digital, which is able to reproduce that content at zero cost, the business model of selling scarce copies of content or of being paid to copy certain content is now in its death throes. However, unlike other business models, this business model is protected by law, and is doing a fuckton of damage before it can finally be put to rest.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

let’s see.

In Bach’s time, the world population was around 500,000,000, and it took upto 2 years to distribute to the colonies.

Today there are over 7 billion people, and the distribution to anywhere in the world takes a matter of seconds.

Care to explain why in Bachs’s time, copyright was only 14 years, yet todays ‘artists’ require 95+ years when they have instant worldwide distribution

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

And how do you know that it is fulled by copyrights and not other factors?

I believe everyone here would like to know exactly where did you dig up that gem.

Artists should have the same rights that a carpenter has, your work and any DIRECT result from that is yours, not this BS scheme crapoula called copyrights that steal from others who do all the work.

When artists start paying royalties to the people who made their clothes, houses, computers, furniture, instruments then I will think about respecting this nonsense otherwise screw anybody who thinks that this is right or fair.

cpt kangarooskisays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

Since copyright, there’s been a huge explosion of creativity largely sustained by copyright. There are 100s of times more songs released today then there were during Bach’s time when only the rich could play the organ.

How do you know that it’s due to copyright, and not some other factor? For example what allows more people to play organs now is the advent of mass production for traditional organs, the invention of electric organs, and the combination of musical instruments and computers, such that by the 80’s, a musician could buy a fairly inexpensive synthesizer and use the organ setting, and now you really just need a cheap computer with an organ-style keyboard attached and some appropriate software.

Similarly, improvements in the manufacturing of paper, printing presses, distribution, and lighting, combined with labor movements fighting for more leisure time are probably more responsible for the increase in the number of books written and sold than copyright.

Copyright allows democratization of art by allowing the artist to making a living on what they do best. They don’t need a rich father or sugar daddy.

No, the publisher is the sugar daddy; it advances money to the author and may or may not recoup its expenses. Write a book that no publisher likes, and it won’t get printed very easily, just as a work that appeals to no patron won’t get much patronage. Why not use something similar to Kickstarter, or the SPP to replace it? Instead of one sugar daddy financing the author to write a book, get a hundred of them to act as 1/100th of a sugar daddy each, or more of them at a lower fraction each.

Besides which, copyright doesn’t guarantee anyone a living, and that is the case for most authors today anyway.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

In Da Vinci’s time, only the rich could create art.

Wut? Are you insane? Sorry rhetorical question…

Da Vinci was NOT rich, Beethoven was NOT rich, Shakespeare was most definately Not Rich, Van Gogh was not Rich, 99% of all ‘known’ artists were absolutely most definitely NOT rich. In fact most of their works never became success’s until after they died.

Since copyright, there’s been a huge explosion of creativity largely sustained by copyright. There are 100s of times more songs released today then there were during Bach’s time when only the rich could play the organ.

Wrong, the huge explosion of creativity (which has actually always happened) has been in the huge explosion of communication mediums (printing press, phonograph, radio, TV, internet) and the ease that the age person can access (and pay) for those ‘new’ technologies. And if you think only the rich played the piano (or similar) or violin or other instruments in Bach’s time then you have no understanding of history whatsoever and I feel sorry for your tiny worldview.

And don’t forget that Shakespeare put up a paywall on the Globe theater and sold tickets.

That is NOT a paywall, that is a standard invitation to treat with acceptance and offer (we call it a contract) that has occurred from time immemorial. Oh and Shakepeare never asked for coinage, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men who owned the Theatre (that Shakepeare was a minority share holder in) did.

So you’re basically proposing that artists be stripped of their ability to sell their work and so they’ll survive on tips and the gracious support of rich people. Wonderful plan to turn all of the artists into beggars.

No, he isn’t, nor is anyone else (though I know reading your specious rhetoric you adamantly will dispute). What they are saying is that like in any other endeavour there is no free lunch (TAANSTAFL) and they like anyone else who wants to market goods, services, and whatnot need to understand that they cannot dictate to the market what the market wants, nor how the market will use it (if the market even needs it). Also that they cannot use the stick of copyright,. which is only a limitation imposed by society anyway (and NOT an inherent right) to constantly shift the playing field to their advantage without repercussions.

Oh and as for your riginal statement about ‘paying for health care”… Taxes pay for health care.. NOT the Copyright Industry and if you turn around and state “but the Copyright Industry pay taxes” every single person on the planet will laugh at you and your descendants for ever and ever ad infinitum.

jupiterkansassays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

I have the complete works of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart (thank you public libraries) and the output of original compositions in their lifetimes dwarfs the output of anyone in the 20th Century.

Since people were freely copying their work due to lack of copyright, they made money by constantly writing new music, not profiting for the rest of their lives off a tune they wrote in their 20s.

And I think the rest of your comments have debunked all your other erroneous claims.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Let's talk of the "Death of the Commons"

You mean the tragedy of the Commons where LIMITED resources gets exhausted and it negatively affects everyone?

Imaginary property can’t suffer from that, it is not limited, it has no natural boundaries.

There is also the tragedy of the anti-commons, where locking everything up leads to reduced trust and confidence in the law and complete abandonment of the areas owned, with the creation of black markets everywhere else.

The sounds a lot with what you can see today happening, the big names are not appealing because they are so difficult to use and inaccessible(pricewise or DRM) and so one great black market surfaced to fill in that gap.

out_of_the_bluesays:

As usual, focusing on tiny part, ignoring the REAL owners:

CORPORATIONS.

I pull this one up almost at random (and a skim discloses nothing major that I disagree with):

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/corporatism-a-system-of-control-designed-by-the-monopoly-men-of-the-global-elite

You just can’t see the forest for all the leaves, Mike. You ain’t even up to seeing trees.

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
http://techdirt.com/
Where Mike’s “no evidence of real harm” means he wants to let secretive mega-corporations continue to grow.

Anonymoussays:

‘a focus on “ownership” takes things so far, as to actually hinder the rights of the public in dangerous ways.’

and no one that can do something to mend this disaster even cares about it, let alone has any interest in mending it! the main reason? because it’s only ‘the people’ that are adversely affected and get hit with fines, jail and losses of anything/everything from internet connection to all they own

Don't limit it to digital ownership

If the focus is only on what happens in the digital space, then we’ll likely not see world economics change significantly.

Commons are an important concept for environmental protection. The world’s air, water, and temperature are global issues and shouldn’t be governed by a system that sells off important resources to the highest bidder.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Don't limit it to digital ownership

That is actually a very good point. Sewers, roads, power, water will have a higher quality by being shared costs, but are not strictly necessary as a common. However, environment, animal welfare, human rights and several other concepts are bound to suffer immensely if it is up to the ultimate free market. Economy and monetising is not everything and they will often bring advantages in lowering the lowest prices, at the cost of something else. The way intellectual properties is used today screws that world up to some degree. However, the non-economic values need protection to exist and common is the only way to protect them from the insanity of pure free market or government abuse.

A great discussion of commons

Commons as a New Paradigm for Governance, Economics and Policy – P2P Foundation: “Which brings me to what I call the tragedy of the market, often known as market enclosure. Over the course of several centuries, but especially in the 19th Century, the English aristocracy colluded with Parliament to privatize the village commons of England. The commons was 6 essentially dismantled. Enclosure was a way for the landed gentry to make a lot of money and consolidate their political and economic power.

“The great, unacknowledged scandal of our time is the large-scale privatization and abuse of dozens of resources that we collectively own. Today?s enclosure movement is an eerie replay of the English enclosure movement. A prime example: International investors and national governments are now buying up farmlands and forests in Africa, Asia and Latin America on a massive scale, at discount prices, in collusion with host governments. Commoners who have grown and harvested their own food for generations as a matter of custom, are being thrown off their lands so that large multinational corporations and investors can take them. The basic goal is to secure a geo-political advantage, sell food to global markets or simply make a speculative killing.”

bobsays:

Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

Oh yes, let’s compare the evils done by corporations with the evils done by collectivization and communism. At least we still have farms and arable land because the corporations have an incentive to protect them. Take one look at Somalia, Cuba and the former Soviet Union to see how well the farms did there.

The fact is that the commons completely failed. Where they didn’t fail outright, they failed in secret because they were sustained by onerous cross-subsidies.

If you don’t like the tragedy of the market, why don’t you move to Somalia and try out the tragedy of the commons.

Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

You’re citing failed experiments without considering successful ones. Cooperatives, for example, have successfully been run in a number of communities.

Commons as a New Paradigm for Governance, Economics and Policy – P2P Foundation: “Professor Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University ? who passed away several months ago ? was the most prominent academic to rescue the commons and rebut Hardin. It took years of painstaking field research and innovative theorizing, but in her path-breaking 1990 book, Governing the Commons, Ostrom identified some basic design principles of successful commons. Over the past several decades, she and many colleagues have shown in hundreds of empirical studies that people can and do successfully manage their land and water and forests and fisheries as commons. Some commons have flourished for hundreds of years, such as the Swiss villagers who manage high mountain meadows and the huerta irrigation institutions in Spain.”

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

Elinor Ostrom – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Design Principles for CPR Institutions

Ostrom identified eight “design principles” of stable local common pool resource management:[19]

1. Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties);
2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions;
3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;
4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;
6. Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access;
7. Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities;
8. In the case of larger common-pool resources, organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.

These principles have since been slightly modified and expanded to include a number of additional variables believed to affect the success of self-organized governance systems, including effective communication, internal trust and reciprocity, and the nature of the resource system as a whole.[20]

Ostrom and her many co-researchers have developed a comprehensive “Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework”, within which much of the still-evolving theory of common-pool resources and collective self-governance is now located.[21]

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

Those communists tried exactly what the copyidiots want to do and that is force the public to accept their views.

Ain’t happening and as you pointed out, coercion by force is not going to work.

The rights of others end at my door step.
I don’t buy a care so the idiot who made it can come inside my home and call me a thief and demand money.

Anybody who does that artist or not, law or no law, will get a f. you sir.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

Those communists tried exactly what the copyidiots want to do and that is force the public to accept their views.

I’m not exactly who you mean by copyidiots, but I think that as more gets shared online, more people get comfortable sharing off-line. And as decentralization becomes the norm, there’s less reason for big corporations to form.

There are some people getting wealthy via tech stock sales, but trends being what they are, I think we’ll see more ownership headed the other way — more sharing and less concentration within a limited number of hands. Income inequality leaves a lot of people with very little to own so they don’t have much reason to support the status quo when it comes to ownership. Of course, we are seeing those in power hoping to keep those without ownership from influencing the vote. If you don’t think people will vote for what you want, you find ways to keep them from voting.

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

Another trend likely to result in more coordinated effort is climate change. The scientific data continues to come out, making harder for people to pretend nothing is happening. It’s a global issue and requires some global thinking on the matter. Hoping that people acting as individual consumers will fix the problem in a timely manner through their purchasing preferences may be wishful thinking.

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

It used to be that people could discount those communists because they were “them.”

However, there is so much sharing, crowdsourcing, commons, and P2P going on around and among us, that it is becoming “us” even if not everyone has caught on to the changes yet. Wikipedia, free online education, crowdsourcing, these are happening successfully and showing that collective effort can be effective. If people discover they don’t need to own what they need and if they discover that “free” services can provide what they once paid for, their idea of what is doable can change.

43 Essential essays on the commons and Peer 2 Peer theory | Permanent Culture Now

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: A great discussion of commons

I notice you didn’t include Vietnam or China in there.. Wonder why?

Oh and you are conflating Communism with Socialism, and as you state up above your ‘paywall’ example of Shakepeare and the globe was actually a cooperative of all the actors.

Though should we compare the USA’s current economic and social problems (health, education, criminality) due to it’s adherence to the ism of capitalism with countries like Norway, Australia, etc whos economies are amazingly strong have huge Social structures in place and are pure Democracies.

markmeldsays:

Some interesting discussion, but not much depth. I can’t believe MOMA honors a guy that promotes plagiarism as poetry. What a load of BS. As for you and Lowery, sometimes it sounds like a personal grudge match, Mike Masnick. I don’t agree with Lowery, but I think he understands more about artists. Artists don’t have to be entrepreneurs and many don’t want to be. Dali was sponsored and if he wasn’t, we wouldn’t have as many paintings by him. The same could be said for recording artists like Don Van Vliet. The idea that Van Vliet would be an entrepreneur is absurd. I like Techdirt. Your stands against patent scams and CISPA is why I recommend you, but I think you do not do yourself (or anyone) a favor by being an advocate for turning artists into orphans.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re:

” Artists don’t have to be entrepreneurs and many don’t want to be”

And herein lies the problem. This is the notion that artists have some sort of special dispensation to avoid the standard jobs that everyone else has to suffer through.
They don’t. We don’t. If the ability of being an artist were some rare ability, then perhaps. Problem there is, it isn’t. Anyone can be an artist (whether or not you are a good or popular artist is of course a different subject altogether). I’m an artist, and yet, I don’t expect for a restriction on other people’s speech. I don’t want control over other people’s computing devices.

I think the perfect word for this situation is this: Subsidy. It is the price that society pays in order to achieve some end. In order to incentivize the creation of art, we have massively restricted ourselves, and I’m not the only one when I say that the price, the cost, is too high.

markmeldsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know many artists who don’t use a computer and could care less who controls your computer but they don’t want their work defaced or trivialized. I know many artists that do not want any special dispensation. You and I have have a vastly different view on art, and what it means to be an artist. In the society you advocate, the price would be a world saturated with cheap reproductions masquerading as creative art. We are well on the way to that model.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know this is a late reply…but I have to disagree. Copyright grants other people the ability to say what I can and cannot do with my equipment. I am as wary of your artist friends who say they have no intention to try and control me that way as I am of Obama when he signed the 2012 NDAA but said he would never actually imprison someone indefinitely with the military.
I have to call attention to “defaced and trivialized”. That is as flat out false as you can possibly get. Think of all the great classical works that have fallen out of copyright. Think of Pride and Prejudice for example. Does the fact that Pride, Prejudice and Zombies exists actually do anything at all to the original? Just because someone else takes a work and reuses it, and does something with it, doesn’t mean the original is altered or harmed in any way. I would actually like to know how and why you think this is possible. It’s not like all existing copies of P&P vanished when P,P&Z was published.
Would the world really be saturated with cheap reproductions? Possibly. Should those cheap reproductions be legally ban-hammered out of existence? No. To do that, you must limit people’s free speech rights. If the works are cheap and terrible, then obviously they should fail in the free and open marketplace.
For you to advocate against allowing cheap reproductions to exist, you logically have to be arguing against people having the chance at all to create art. At the moment, I’ve just started learning how to play piano. Obviously, I’m quite bad at it. However, in order to learn, I again obviously must learn to imitate past great works. More than likely, once I’ve obtained a certain level of skill, I’ll do my own remixes of those works. Why is it OK for me to do that with works from a couple hundred years ago, but if I were to do a remix of a piano piece scored by someone twenty years, suddenly, I’ve become a heinous criminal?

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re:

I don’t agree with Lowery, but I think he understands more about artists.

We’re not discussing “artists” we’re discussing business and economics.

Artists don’t have to be entrepreneurs and many don’t want to be.

Fair enough, though if they don’t want to be entrepreneurs, then they shouldn’t complain if they can’t make money OR they should team up with someone who can do the business part for them. I’ve always said that.

Not sure what you’re arguing against.

Dali was sponsored and if he wasn’t, we wouldn’t have as many paintings by him. The same could be said for recording artists like Don Van Vliet.

Yes, and? Not sure what that has to do with anything. I want artists to be able to make money. So do you and so does Lowery. So?

I think you do not do yourself (or anyone) a favor by being an advocate for turning artists into orphans.

I’ve done no such thing. You don’t do yourself a favor by saying things that aren’t true about my position. I argue for helping artists make more money by NOT relying on a system that is not effective, and by looking for new ways in which they can profit.

markmeldsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

My apology is offered if I misrepresented your position. My orphan metaphor was not well stated. I don’t see how you can deny that the discussion of ownership of original works of art is not about artists. If you don’t understand my example about Dali/Van Vliet, then I think our perspectives on art and how it relates to business are on different planes never to intersect. Oh well. When original art is appropriated for cheap knockoffs, you seem to think that it somehow benefits the original artist who does not want his original work degraded. I have to wonder if you have ever been offended by cheap imitations of great art. Like I said, I still agree with what you and Techdirt do a great percentage of the time so keep up the great work.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

actually I think copies of paintings are extremely valuable for the painting itself. Cheap knock-offs is only a problem if the copy is claimed to be the original. If it isn’t it is likely irrelevant at worst economically. Then the question becomes, do a knock-off artist have to pay royalty to the original painter for each copy? Economically integrity is irrelevant or even an obstacle to a reasonable market.

The problem with anything digital is even more abstract: Nothing is the original!
It is copies upon copies upon copies. Therefore the claim of an original is measningless and the valuation of the original work is no higher than a copy and the copy is still of the original artist! If someone makes an immitation it should bring value to the original, but the question is what form of value: Cold cash, additional interest or a combination. The value of additional interest is completely ignored by most people claiming piracy or illegal versions of their work as their downfall.
The lack of an original makes additional intest that much more important for selling additional copies. That is what many people forget when they attack other peoples use of their work. If the attribution/sourcing is there it is not a bad thing to have another artist disrespect the idea behind your work, it is just attention to your work…

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

When original art is appropriated for cheap knockoffs, you seem to think that it somehow benefits the original artist who does not want his original work degraded.

Quick point. Copyright is not, and never was, meant to be any kind of protection against the work being “degraded.”

That sort of thing is covered by libel and slander laws in the U.S. And it would be a total stretch to claim that most infringing works are “libelous” to the original artists.

You could argue that something like this applies to trademark laws – but those laws exist to protect consumers, not the “reputation” of the originators.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

When original art is appropriated for cheap knockoffs, you seem to think that it somehow benefits the original artist who does not want his original work degraded.

How can a knockoff degrade the original? I don’t understand. If I make and sell a poor copy of Water Lilies, how can that affect the original painting?

jupiterkansassays:

Re: Re:

I thought the plagiarism as poetry guy made a really great point. The world is filled with centuries worth of material. Traditionally creativity meant simply adding to that wealth of knowledge, but it can seem like spitting into the ocean. You’re not really adding very much. Does the world really need another poem?

Another form of creativity is simply exploring the ocean, finding things already there, juxtaposing them with other things in ways that are new, or revealing them to the world again in a way that people can relate to it. What he described wasn’t plagiarism – it’s was creating art by changing the context.

Zakida Paulsays:

The problem with the whole thing is that the industry keeps thinking of music/films/books etc as entertainment, a product to be bought and sold. They tend to treat fans merely as consumers, wallets with arms and legs and a head.

That is entirely the wrong attitude. Art should be thought of as art, culture should be thought of as culture; and sharing is an important part of that.

Swapping CDs, books and DVDs among your friends and family brings simple joys like conversation alive. I would hate to see the end of that because of over zealous copyright.

I will close with this. True artists do not make music, or films, or write books for money. They do it for the love of creating something wonderful. They do it for the sheer love of the creative process. But, most of all, they do it so that their work can be enjoyed and shared by as many people as possible.

naschsays:

Lowery

For anyone who hasn’t listened to that segment, Lowery’s view is that the problem isn’t piracy but the idea that we would be better off without the labels and studios. This is because without them there would be no market-based solution for producing cultural works, and we would be left with patronage (which is in mind not market-based) and government subsidies. His proposed solution is to prohibit credit card companies from doing business with piracy sites.

People are moving away from owning things

To simplify their lives, because it is better for the environment, or because they can’t afford them, people are cutting back on “stuff.”

When you couple that with what is happening online, there’s an expanding movement to change the nature of ownership and what we own. It could be quite revolutionary.

Living With Less. A Lot Less. – NYTimes.com: “Like the 420-square-foot space I live in, the houses I design contain less stuff and make it easier for owners to live within their means and to limit their environmental footprint.”

Another piece rethinking ownership

Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy — Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity: “Ownership is the gravitational field that holds an economy in its orbit. Today, dominant ownership designs lock us into behaviors that lead to financial excess and ecological overshoot. But emerging, alternative ownership patterns ? when properly designed ? can have a tendency to lead to beneficial outcomes. It may be that these designs are the elements needed to form the foundation for a generative economy, a living economy ? an economy that might at last be consistent with living inside a living being.”

special-interestingsays:

This started off as ?an ode to Bob? (inspiring argument btw) but grew like most of my essays do,

let us examine corporate profit needs (ownership, possibly monopolistic) vs. an individual’s personal and a society’s general (and economic) growth needs.

Lets look at my own selfish, egotistic self.

-brings out microscope- ( -runs and hides- Donnn’t loook at meeeee!)

I want to be articulate, funny, intelligent, rich, own successful firms, make sense, have impact and don’t forget be popular (in a good and profitable way as fame can be an expense). At rare moments in my life I can actually attain these things. (probably not today)

Now lets look at reality. Am stupid, not funny, clumsy, not intelligent and my popularity is definitely an expense. (No. I wont buy you lunch; learned that lesson long ago.)

I don’t have a direct solution to being so lame or broke but as most, somewhat, clever human beings do… have come up with some workarounds. That is; I use the good/great work of others to grow my own character, awareness and profit in the directions that I, can hopefully, choose.

I quote other brilliant words, phrases and even entire sentences (when I can remember them) in my written works. And. Since my memory is so bad I also copy whole sections and quote them also. (with references) Since my self image sometimes wavers I act like Goofy or Sherlock Holmes as needed at dull meetings and or lively parties. I ever read and tell the jokes from others often. (most of the time you hear a joke from a friend its usually made by some one else anyway) Can I even spell many of the words in this document? Sometimes, but I use a spell checker and someone else’s skills to get it better than I could alone.

Can I make money on my own? Maybe but will probably use a combination of business models from others.

Can I write music like so many other artists do? No. I play what I hear on the radio or whatever media. Can I act as funny as a Monty Python skit? No way. I use their scrips to act funny in front of friends and family or even (gasp) a home made skit on videotape that I want to share on youtube. When I read a great graduate level textbook on philosophy I make such knowledge mine! (Back off dude.) On and on etc. etc. etcetera.

I also want to profit by all this (growth in some good chosen direction) someday and not be told off by a copyright owner with selfish puritanical (or not) beliefs. To be able to return back to society both in spending my profits and in writing my own interpretation or adaptation of all I have learned. Hopefully making a profit off of that also.

My point is that at some time all this (of what some original content creator made) eventually enters the ever growing and changing stream of culture. It becomes a part of our self-image and a part of society as a whole and allows each individual or firm to reuse, combine, reinvent those old ideas into something greater. The active debate is when this happens.

The UN-natural concept of eternal copyright produces legal challenges to the personal (intellectual adsorption) or commercial adoption of any such copyrighted items/ideas.

Our very life is a collection of meems and we create and nurture it by the inclusion of cultural behavior (meems) we stumble upon in life. A company or corporation is also a collection of meems through the individuals who own, run and work for it.

We diminish (because of eternal copyright) as individuals, commercial enterprises and as a culture of people when the public commons decreases. The opportunities for commercial exploitation of the culture we learn of, in our lifetime, is at stake.

Society of ownership? Who can profit from that but only a few? Do we own our own lives and the culture we collect (Creating the being/company we call/identify-with ourselves?) through media and books we read?

One might ask that we pay for every word or phrase we say as almost everything has been said before. At some point a corporation (artist, artists family and artists great, great, great grandkids) must let go. (don’t even try and tell me that the copyright industry doesn’t have, ready to go, a proposal for another culturally destructive copyright term extension. With great cigarette arguments to go with it.)

At this time, because of the abuses and punitive legal damage the monopolistic copyright industry has done, I am for the complete abolishment of the entire copyright act. (makes for great heated discussion at a party) (and lets get after the trademark law for being used as a permanent copyright also. Batman anyone?) Come up with something else please.

I propose a limit (for cultural inclusion into the lives of the intended audience) to be much less than the lives of such audience. An absolute (for artists and corporations) limit of 15-30 years fits this well. If not something like this then noting and no term at all. (Or nothing at all.)

Ok, rant over. -powers down-

-gets down from high horse, standing on soap box, sitting on a pulpit, on a hill-

This is the sort of thing I read

I think we have much bigger issues that what is going to happen with copyright.

This article is one of many that lays it out.

Do I think tech and startups can solve some of these problems? Yes, but I don’t know that consumers will have the money to pay for those solutions. So either rich people will underwrite those costs or the companies will provide those solutions to most people for little or no charge. And that’s where the discussions of sharing and ownership come in.

Sure, innovation can create new jobs, but that means funding the innovations until a new economic system is in place. That might take awhile.

Unemployment, taxes, and unfunded retirement are making the future unaffordable | Peak Prosperity

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