Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Online IP protection bill sparks outrage; Computer World, 9/29/10

Jaikumar Vijayan, Computer World; Online IP protection bill sparks outrage: Privacy groups, tech gurus call proposed legislation an attempt by the U.S to censor Internet content:

"Proposed federal legislation that would require domain registrars, Internet Service Providers and others to block access to Web sites that the U.S. contends contribute to copyright infringement has generated outrage among privacy advocates and prominent industry personalities."

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9188618/Online_IP_protection_bill_sparks_outrage

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Using Netflix in a Library; LibraryLaw Blog, 9/18/10

Peter Hirtle, LibraryLaw Blog; Using Netflix in a Library:

"One of the things that Napster taught us is that just because it is easy to do something, it is not always legal.

There is a recent post that has been getting some buzz. In “Using Netflix at an Academic Library,” Rebecca Fitzgerald describes how Concordia College uses a Netflix subscription to supply movies to students. She reports that using Netflix subscriptions has been a great success, saving the library over $3,000 so far by substituting film purchases and licensing with Netflix rentals and instant play.

The program appears to be popular with the students and saves the college money. It is easy - but is it legal? I don’t see how."

http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2010/09/using-netflix-in-a-library.html

Academic Libraries Add Netflix Subscriptions; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/18/10

Travis Kaya, Chronicle of Higher Education; Academic Libraries Add Netflix Subscriptions:

"The company knows that its service is being used by librarians, but so far it has not taken legal action to stop them. "We just don't want to be pursuing libraries," Mr. Swasey said. "We appreciate libraries and we value them, but we expect that they follow the terms of agreement.""

http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Academic-Libraries-Add-Netflix/27018/

If Netflix Use Isn't Kosher, Can Libraries Find an Alternative?; Library Journal,

Josh Hadro, If Netflix Use Isn't Kosher, Can Libraries Find an Alternative?; If Netflix Use Isn't Kosher, Can Libraries Find an Alternative?:

"A recent dust-up over libraries using Netflix for DVD rentals has some likening libraries to teenagers thinking "it's only illegal if I get caught."

http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/886889-264/if_netflix_use_isnt_kosher.html.csp

The Kafkaesque Question Of Who Owns Kafka's Papers; TechDirt.com, 9/24/10

Mike Masnick, TechDirt.com; The Kafkaesque Question Of Who Owns Kafka's Papers:

"[T]his also raises separate questions about the ownership of the physical papers vs. the copyright on the works. The two are not the same, though it makes life even more confusing when you start to dig into what the copyright situation might be on some of these works. Considering that Kafka's own desire was to have them burned, only adds to the mess of questions...

[T]hat question of "ownership" is really what's (rightfully) bugging Friedman, and is one of the points that we continually try to raise here at Techdirt, with our concern over how copyright has turned away from its intended purpose (promoting the progress) into this false belief that it is about "ownership.""

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100923/04231311133/the-kafkaesque-question-of-who-owns-kafka-s-papers.shtml

Kafka’s Last Trial; New York Times, 9/26/10

Elif Batuman, New York Times; Kafka’s Last Trial:

"The situation has repeatedly been called Kafkaesque, reflecting, perhaps, the strangeness of the idea that Kafka can be anyone’s private property. Isn’t that what Brod demonstrated, when he disregarded Kafka’s last testament: that Kafka’s works weren’t even Kafka’s private property but, rather, belonged to humanity?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/magazine/26kafka-t.html?_r=3&hp=&pagewanted=all

ACTA Negotiators Still Aiming At Agreement By Year’s End; Intellectual Property Watch, 9/25/10

Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch; ACTA Negotiators Still Aiming At Agreement By Year’s End:

"Countries negotiating a semi-secret trade agreement against piracy and counterfeiting this week in Tokyo are still aiming to reach agreement by the end of this year, a negotiator told Intellectual Property Watch today. The negotiator also did not reject outright the notion that patents might still be included in the draft treaty text, instead saying it is still a matter for discussion.

Negotiators for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are meeting from 23 September to 1 October in Tokyo for what some have said could be the final round of the negotiation."

http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2010/09/25/acta-negotiators-still-aiming-at-completion-by-year%e2%80%99s-end/

Judge puts hammer down on Hurt Locker P2P subpoena; ArsTechnica.com,

Nate Anderson, ArsTechnica.com; Judge puts hammer down on Hurt Locker P2P subpoena:

"A federal judge in South Dakota this week quashed a US Copyright Group subpoena targeting an ISP in his state. Why? Jurisdiction, and a fax machine."

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/09/judge-puts-hammer-down-on-hurt-locker-p2p-subpoenas.ars

Telstra left hanging on copyright ruling; Sydney Morning Herald, 8/23/10

Clare Kermond, Sydney Morning Herald; Telstra left hanging on copyright ruling:

"TELSTRA faces an anxious wait, likely to be several months, to learn the fate of its legal battle to protect the copyright of its Yellow Pages and White Pages directories."

http://www.smh.com.au/business/telstra-left-hanging-on-copyright-ruling-20100822-13aud.html

Arianna Huffington hits back at Washington Post veteran; (London) Guardian, 9/24/10

James Robinson, (London) Guardian; Arianna Huffington hits back at Washington Post veteran: HuffPo founder accuses Leonard Downie Jr, who branded aggregators as 'parasites', of 'pointing fingers and calling names':

"Huffington responded: "People like Downie continue to confuse aggregation with wholesale misappropriation, which violates copyright law."

She said that although her site does feature news from other providers, "aggregation goes along with a tremendous amount of original content, including original reporting and over 300 original blogposts a day".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/sep/24/huffington-post-washington-post

Disturbia did not steal Rear Window plot, judge rules; (London) Guardian, 9/22/10

Xan Brooks, (London) Guardian; Disturbia did not steal Rear Window plot, judge rules: US judge throws out lawsuit accusing Spielberg-backed 2007 film of copying the Cornell Woolrich short story on which Hitchcock's 1954 thriller was based:

"On the face of it, the 2007 thriller Disturbia may look like a direct steal from Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window. Yesterday, however, the courts decided otherwise.

"The main plots are similar only at a high, unprotectable level of generality," ruled New York district court judge Laura Taylor Swan, throwing out a lawsuit that accused Disturbia's makers of copyright infringement."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/sep/22/disturbia-plot-re

YouTube Can’t Be Liable on Copyright, Spain Rules; New York Times, 9/24/10

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; YouTube Can’t Be Liable on Copyright, Spain Rules:

"A Spanish court on Thursday sided with Google in a dispute with the broadcaster Telecinco, saying Google’s online video-sharing service, YouTube, did not have to screen television clips for potential copyright violations before posting them on the site.

The decision, by a commercial court in Madrid, follows a similar ruling in the United States in June, when a judge rejected copyright infringement claims against YouTube by the media company Viacom. Like the American court, the judge in Madrid said YouTube was not liable as long as it removed copyrighted material when notified by the rights holder."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/technology/24google.html?scp=1&sq=copyright&st=cse

Copyright and Football: A Guest Post; New York Times, Freakonomics, 9/17/10

Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman, New York Times, Freakonomics; Copyright and Football: A Guest Post:

"Kal Raustiala, a professor at UCLA Law School and the UCLA International Institute, and Chris Sprigman, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, are experts in counterfeiting and intellectual property. They have been guest-blogging for us about copyright issues. Today, they write about copyrighting and football."

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/copyrighting-football-a-guest-post/?scp=2&sq=copyright&st=cse

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stevie Wonder to UN: Ease Copyrights for the Blind; ABC News via Associated Press, 9/20/10

Bradley S. Klapper, ABC News via Associated Press; Stevie Wonder to UN: Ease Copyrights for the Blind: Stevie Wonder urges UN diplomats to pass treaty helping the blind or face his musical wrath:

"Stevie Wonder pressed global copyright overseers on Monday to help blind and visually impaired people access millions of science, history and other audiobooks, which they cannot read in electronic form.

The blind singer told the U.N.'s 184-nation World Intellectual Property Organization that more than 300 million people who "live in the dark" want to "read their way into light," and the current copyright system denies them an equal opportunity...

But the problem of access for such copyrighted material goes to the heart of a growing crisis in the world of copyright protection, as the Internet increasingly muddies laws that were created for traditional media. Whereas wide exceptions exist for books in Braille, WIPO officials say there is confusion over how these benefits can be translated into the digital age."

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=11679443

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Google's publishing free for all undermines our literary tradition; (London) Guardian, 9/19/10

Robert McCrum, (London) Guardian; Google's publishing free for all undermines our literary tradition: The 'dark threat of digitisation' is being underestimated, warns Robert McCrum, even by enlightened critics such as Andre Schiffrin:

"There's a lot that's passionate and useful in Schiffrin's anguished analysis. He is right to identify a healthy market as the key to a vital culture and vigorous democracy. His heart is certainly in the right place, but strangely, for a book entitled Words and Money, he never fully addresses the thorny question of "free", as articulated by Anderson, James Boyle (The Public Domain) and Lawrence Lessig (Free Culture). I wish he had because this goes to the heart of the crisis faced by print at the moment...

Johnson was right. Words that get written for money are likely to be superior to words spun out for nothing, on a whim. California's "free" movement wants to argue that literary copyright is an intolerable restriction of the public's right to access information, and that words should be free. That's a profound threat to the western intellectual tradition. I hope that André Schiffrin, having raised the alarm about the demise of serious publishing and journalism, will urgently turn his attention to the new, possibly darker, threat of digitisation and its consequences."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/19/literature-google-publishing-threat-mccrum

Friday, September 17, 2010

Designers Get Fierce With Copyright On The Catwalk; NPR's Morning Edition, 9/16/10

Kaomi Goetz, NPR's Morning Edition; Designers Get Fierce With Copyright On The Catwalk:

"The Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, introduced in August by New York Sen. Charles Schumer and now pending in Congress, would be the first piece of legislation to provide copyright protection — for three years in this case — to new and inventive designs. It's not much compared with the 25 years of protection European laws provide, but it's a start...

That's because the U.S. is one of a few countries that don't have copyright protection for fashion, which American courts have long viewed as utilitarian — a craft rather than an art — and therefore haven’t protected in the same way as other creative fields like film or music."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129834984

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marley family loses copyright battle; MSN Music News, 9/14/10

MSN Music News; Marley family loses copyright battle:

"The family of reggae legend Bob Marley has lost a lawsuit seeking ownership of his most famous tracks.

Executives at UMG Recordings were declared the rightful owners of copyrights to five albums that Marley recorded between 1973 and 1977 for Island Records...

...U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Bob Marley's recordings were "works made for hire" as defined under U.S. copyright law, entitling UMG to be designated the owner of those recordings, for both the initial 28-year copyright terms and for renewals."

http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=595415

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lost tapes of classic British television found in the US; (London) Guardian, 9/12/10

Vanessa Thorpe, (London) Guardian; Lost tapes of classic British television found in the US: Treasure trove of drama from the 'golden age of television' discovered in Library of Congress after more than 40 years:

"The Library of Congress initially approached Kaleidoscope, the classic TV experts, who took the good news to the BBC and ITV this spring. "We brokered the deal for the BFI because so many different companies have copyright over the material," wrote Kaleidoscope's Chris Perry in a blog this weekend."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/sep/12/lost-tapes-classic-british-television

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration; ArsTechnica.com, 9/8/10

Nate Anderson, ArsTechnica.com; European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration:

"Today 377 members of the European Parliament adopted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in which they demand greater transparency, assert that ISPs should not up end being liable for data sent through their networks, and say that ACTA "should not force limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy."

The "written declaration" has no binding force".

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/09/european-parliament-passes-anti-acta-declaration.ars

Film Piracy is Robbing American Workers; HuffingtonPost.com, 9/3/10

Matthew D. Loeb, HuffingtonPost.com; Film Piracy is Robbing American Workers:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-d-loeb/film-piracy-is-robbing-am_b_705121.html

The High Cost of Free Culture; HuffingtonPost.com, 8/24/10

Bevin Carnes, HuffingtonPost.com; The High Cost of Free Culture:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bevin-carnes/post_740_b_692901.html

Village Voice writer sues author Gerald Posner for lifting chunks of mob book for 'Miami Babylon'; New York Daily News, 9/7/10

Scott Shifrel, New York Daily News; Village Voice writer sues author Gerald Posner for lifting chunks of mob book for 'Miami Babylon':

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/09/07/2010-09-07_village_voice_writer_sues_author_gerald_posner_for_lifting_chunks_of_mob_book_fo.html#ixzz0yzkUUJgn

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Un-Google That; ABA Journal, 9/1/10

Brendan L. Smith, ABA Journal; Un-Google That: Google's new pact may have crisscrossed copyright law:

"At the fairness hearing for the Google Books settlement, an overflow crowd filled U.S. District Judge Denny Chin's Manhattan courtroom and spilled into a separate room where spectators watched a video feed.

"Voluminous materials have been submitted, and we are working our way through them," Chin said at the Feb. 18 hearing. "There is a lot of repetition. Some of the submissions even quote some of the other submissions. I'm reading them twice."

The agreement weighs in at 179 pages with 16 attachments, and it has been opposed on several fronts, with the Justice Department raising antitrust concerns alongside authors' claims of copyright infringement."

http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/un-google_that/78714/

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Appeals court rules game films showing NFL team's 1st logo violates artist's copyright; Los Angeles Times, 9/2/10

Larry O'Dell, Los Angeles Times; Appeals court rules game films showing NFL team's 1st logo violates artist's copyright:

"An amateur artist who designed the original logo used by the Baltimore Ravens won a partial victory Thursday when a federal appeals court ruled the commercial use of game and highlight films from the Ravens' first three seasons violates his copyright."

http://www.latimes.com/sports/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-us-ravens-logo-suit,0,6282798.story

Sharron Angle hit with R-J copyright infringement lawsuit; Las Vegas Sun, 9/3/10

Steve Green, Las Vegas Sun; Sharron Angle hit with R-J copyright infringement lawsuit:

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/sep/03/sharron-angle-hit-r-j-copyright-lawsuit/

Is The Contract Cast Members Sign To Be On Survivor Covered By Copyright? CBS Thinks So...; TechDirt.com, 9/3/10

Mike Masnick, TechDirt.com; Is The Contract Cast Members Sign To Be On Survivor Covered By Copyright? CBS Thinks So...:

"Eric Goldman points us to the news that CBS sent a DMCA takedown to Scribd after the reality TV site RealityBlurred.com uploaded a copy of the contract castmembers sign before being able to go on the show Survivor, as well as a copy of the "rulebook" they receive. CBS apparently claimed that both of these were covered by copyright. Thankfully, RealityBlurred filed a counternotice, claiming fair use due to its use for reporting and commentary -- leading to a scary two week period where CBS would have to sue if it wanted to keep the document offline. However, the two weeks passed and CBS did not respond to notification from Scribd, meaning that the Survivor Contract and the Survivor Rulebook are back online."

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100901/15345210865.shtml

Bartenders Looking For Greater Intellectual Property Protection For Drinks; TechDirt.com, 9/2/10

Mike Masnick, TechDirt.com; Bartenders Looking For Greater Intellectual Property Protection For Drinks:

"Copycense points us to yet another story about another person in another industry whining about not getting enough monopoly privileges from the government. This time, believe it or not, it's bartenders wanting to protect mixed drink recipes. Seriously. Unfortunately, the writeup at the Atlantic, by food writer Chantal Martineau seems to get an awful lot of points about intellectual property totally mixed up. The article slips back and forth between trademark law and copyright law (which are extremely different) and then has this whopper:

The publication of a recipe can be legally protected, but the "expression of an idea," as the lawyers in the seminar explained, cannot. It's the reason musicians can't be sued for covering another band's song in a live show.

So many things wrong in two short sentences. First of all, no, the publication of a recipe cannot be protected. Straight from the US Copyright Office: "Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection." That said, if there is "substantial literary expression" in, say, the description of how to prepare the recipe that part (and that part alone) could be covered by copyright, but that should have little impact on bartenders making similar mixed drinks. Also, copyright is, in fact, supposed to protect the expression, contrary to the statement above. This is the whole basis of the idea-expression dichotomy, which Martineau seems to get backwards. As for why musicians can't be sued for covering another band's song in a live show, that's got nothing to do with the difference between an expression and an idea, and everything to do with performance rights licenses from venues to PROs like ASCAP and BMI that (in theory) are supposed to cover the copyright (yes, there is one) on the composition."

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100901/17381410868.shtml

The Era of Copyrighted Cocktails?; Atlantic, 8/31/10

Chantal Martineau, Atlantic; The Era of Copyrighted Cocktails?:

"So, can a cocktail be copyrighted? In short, no. The publication of a recipe can be legally protected, but the [following portion between brackets crossed out as correction for error in updated version of article] ["expression of an idea,"] idea of the recipe, as the lawyers in the seminar explained, cannot. [following portion between brackets crossed out as correction for error in updated version of article] [It's the reason musicians can't be sued for covering another band's song in a live show.] But few bartenders publish their recipes. They tend to pass them on as an oral tradition."

http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archive/2010/08/the-era-of-copyrighted-cocktails/62153/

Copyright breaches land group in trouble; Sydney Morning Herald,

Kate Benson, Sydney Morning Herald; Copyright breaches land group in trouble:

"An anti-vaccination group is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without permission from the authors.

The Australian Vaccination Network, which was the subject of a public warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission last month, withdrew 11 information packs from its website yesterday after complaints from authors.

The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies.

Under the Copyright Act, articles can be copied for personal research or for use by students but cannot be disseminated widely or sold...

Mary-Anne Toy, from The Age newspaper, said she did not recall giving the network permission to sell her work and would seek payment. Leigh Dayton, a science reporter at The Australian newspaper, was also unaware her story was being sold.

Kate Haddock, a copyright lawyer, said those found breaching the law could face substantial damages.

Damages would increase if articles were reproduced in a way which would cause readers to think less of the writers, Ms Haddock said."

http://www.smh.com.au/national/copyright-breaches-land-group-in-trouble-20100831-14fna.html

German court rules against YouTube over copyright; Sydney Morning Herald, 8/27/10

Sydney Morning Herald; German court rules against YouTube over copyright:

"A German court ruled Friday that Google Inc.'s subsidiary YouTube LLC must pay compensation after users uploaded several videos of performances by singer Sarah Brightman in violation of copyright laws.

The Hamburg state court said the standardized question to users about whether they have the necessary rights to publish material is not enough to relieve YouTube of the legal responsibility for the content, especially because the platform can be used anonymously.

The wording of the court statement appears to be a major blow to YouTube's business model, but Google Germany spokesman Henning Dorstewitz told The Associated Press YouTube will appeal the decision detailed in the 60-page ruling."

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/german-court-rules-against-youtube-over-copyright-20100827-13w8o.html

Indonesia is Asia copyright pirate centre: survey; Sydney Morning Herald, 8/25/10

Sydney Morning Herald; Indonesia is Asia copyright pirate centre: survey:

"Indonesia has the worst record when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) in Asia and Singapore the best, a survey of expatriate business people showed Wednesday...

"Of the emerging Asian countries, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines are all poorly rated not only for their low level of IPR protection but also for such criteria as physical infrastructure, bureaucratic inefficiency and labour limitations," PERC said.

China also came under strong scrutiny because of the sheer size of its economy and the presence of large companies "capable of using pirated technology to compete in foreign markets," said PERC."

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/indonesia-is-asia-copyright-pirate-centre-survey-20100825-13rzi.html

Lost in translation: why have we declared war on foreign dramatists?; (London) Guardian, 9/1/10

John M. Morrison; (London) Guardian; Lost in translation: why have we declared war on foreign dramatists?: Classic plays in foreign languages are being rewritten for modern audiences who have no idea that what they're seeing is quite different from, and vastly inferior to, the originals:

"Whatever will these silly foreigners get up to next? Did you hear about the Chinese version of Hamlet that gave the play a happy ending? Surely we all know you can't rewrite the classics, and my Chinese example is imaginary. But British theatre commits artistic assault and battery of this kind on an increasingly regular basis. The victims, sprawled in the wings with their scripts torn to shreds are invariably playwrights who had the misfortune not to write in English...

One can argue that in the theatre anything goes, particularly when the author is safely dead and long out of copyright. But one of the principles that marks off theatre from film is respect for the artistic integrity of the author's text, even when he or she is no longer around to complain. That's why we squirm to think of Nahum Tate reworking King Lear in the 1680s to give Shakespeare's tragedy a happy ending."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2010/sep/01/lost-translation-war-foreign-dramatists

Thursday, September 2, 2010

YouTube Deals Turn Piracy Into Revenue; New York Times, 9/3/10

Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; YouTube Deals Turn Piracy Into Revenue:

"In the past, Lions Gate, which owns the rights to the “Mad Men” clip, might have requested that TomR35’s version be taken down. But it has decided to leave clips like this up, and in return, YouTube runs ads with the video and splits the revenue with Lions Gate.

Remarkably, more than one-third of the two billion views of YouTube videos with ads each week are like TomR35’s “Mad Men” clip — uploaded without the copyright owner’s permission but left up by the owner’s choice. They are automatically recognized by YouTube, using a system called Content ID that scans videos and compares them to material provided by copyright owners."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/technology/03youtube.html?_r=1&ref=technology

Of Two Minds About Books; New York Times, 9/2/10

Matt Richtel and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; Of Two Minds About Books:

"By the end of this year, 10.3 million people are expected to own e-readers in the United States, buying about 100 million e-books, the market research company Forrester predicts. This is up from 3.7 million e-readers and 30 million e-books sold last year.

The trend is wreaking havoc inside the publishing industry, but inside homes, the plot takes a personal twist as couples find themselves torn over the “right way” to read. At bedtime, a couple might sit side-by-side, one turning pages by lamplight and the other reading Caecilia font in E Ink on a Kindle or backlighted by the illuminated LCD screen of an iPad, each quietly judgmental.

Although there are no statistics on how widespread the battles are, the publishing industry is paying close attention, trying to figure out how to market books to households that read in different ways.

A few publishers and bookstores are testing the bundling of print books with e-books at a discount."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/technology/02couples.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=print%20pixels&st=cse

Mark Waid on Delivery, Content, and the Gulf Between; ComicBookResources.com, 9/1/10

Mark Waid, ComicBookResources.com; Mark Waid on Delivery, Content, and the Gulf Between:

"So I was asked to deliver the keynote speech at the Harvey Awards this year. And I worked hard on it. Really hard. Notecard set after notecard set, document after document, draft after draft. Because I’d chosen a topic that I’m practically evangelical about, the tough part wasn’t coming up with stuff to say--the tough part was winnowing down the number of ideas. I went through an entire pocket notebook’s worth of paper writing and re-writing right up until my cue to speak. And that’s because I wanted to hit a home run. I really, really wanted to knock it out of the park in front of my peers.

And I didn’t.

I was uncharacteristically nervous, and it showed. I just listened to a partial recording, and while it was probably a solid double and not nearly as botched as I want to remember, to my ears, that speech was an absolute train wreck. I joked a few times about it being “a vodka-fueled rant” to cover my nervousness, but now that I listen to a playback, I get why some of the people in the room were ready to throw a punch: I didn't hit the points hard enough that I'M NOT SAYING WE SHOULDN'T GET PAID and I’M NOT ARGUING AGAINST OWNERSHIP. I did say those things, more than once, but not often enough and not at all in the back half of the speech, and I’m pretty sure that’s how I lost some of the audience, because I went off on tangents about sharing, and tangents are really dangerous territory when your speech doesn’t even begin until nearly 10:00 at night.

Worse, at least one audience member misinterpreted my speech as suggesting we should do away altogether with copyright and ownership and disagreed aggressively, and while that wasn’t at all what was said, if my message was misheard, I regret that profoundly and apologize to the listeners.

But while I may have fumbled the delivery, I’m still proud of the content (and would like it stated for the record that at no time did I “defend piracy”; seeing my speech reported as such really misses the point.) There is no written text, so no official transcript exists thus far, but Jonah Weiland has invited me to CBR to re-deliver the reconstructed speech to all (with its points better organized--I’m less nervous at a keyboard than I am with Jerry Robinson and Denny O’Neil staring expectantly back at me, go figure), so ready the tomatoes...

I’ve been asked a lot to speak about digital, because it’s such a passion with me and I’m such an advocate. But saying “Let’s cheer for digital comics!” seems kind of mundane. I want to talk tonight instead about how we fret about downloads and "piracy" and their impact. How we’re in danger because people are breaking copyright. But, first, let's talk a little about copyright and its history.

What most people don’t realize about copyright is that it was originally conceived to protect not artists but the public domain--to ensure that artists and writers and their heirs couldn’t have perpetual ownership of their work until the end of time because, at some point, the sentiment went, you ought to have to give back to culture the same way you, I, and all artists draw from it. Certainly, you should benefit from your work, and you should have legal protection, but I find it interesting that the original intent was to deliver ides back into the public domain.

Then, three hundred years ago exactly this year, publishers co-opted the copyright concept to create what are the foundation of today's copyright laws--but even then, they existed not to protect creative folks but, rather, publishers and printers. Copyright was about making sure no one could bootleg the printed work and compete with legitimate, licensed printers. It was about protecting distribution. Public domain was still seen as important, however, because no one then or now can argue that Western civilization would be better if Shakespeare's heirs still controlled his works and they couldn't be read in schools without payment, or if you had to pay a fee every time you wanted to even look at a Degas. Culture is more important than copyright.

That copyright system, however imperfect, worked for centuries. It was a decent balance of copyright and culture--you were allowed to profit from your work during your lifetime, your heirs even got many years' grace period afterwards, and then it all went back into the pool of public domain at some point long after you were dead. But for the past several decades, megacorporations have turned copyright into a perpetual revenue machine for them that will never end and never expire. That's great for individual copyright holders who draft off of that momentum, but it’s lousy for culture. Worse, it's led to a mindset among creators that the only acceptable reward for creativity is dollars and cents...

...but that leaves culture and public domain out in the cold, and again, culture is more important than copyright. No one's saying we shouldn't be compensated for our work, but we are obliged to give back at some point. Moreover--and I know that in hard economic times like these, it's very hard to remember this--I would also offer that being able to contribute to culture, having the satisfaction of knowing that we've done work that is embraced by others, watching our ideas spread and seed new ideas--if you're calculating overall job compensation, that is not without value.

“Yes, Professor Waid, you hippie freak, sharing is all well and good, but how does that pay my bills?”

I know. I know. We all still should be financially compensated for hard work so we can keep doing this and make a decent living. No argument. And that brings us back around to filesharing. If you're genuinely morally indignant about this issue, I understand and respect that. But I worry that a lot of the moral indignation I hear over filesharing is just a way of trying to mask our panic over how our ability to make a living with our art is quickly eroding under the current business models. And I understand that fear. I really, truly do.

Look, if you are in comics just to make money, I can respect that. Honestly, no sarcasm. But if you are here to create a sustainable living for yourself while at the same time finding some way to give back to the world, then filesharing is not a problem...it’s an opportunity.

Like it or not, downloading is here. Torrents and filesharing are here. That's not going away. I'm not here to attack it or defend it--I'm not going to change anyone's mind either way, and everyone in America at this point has anecdotal evidence "proving" how it hurts or helps the medium--but I am here to say it isn’t going away--and fear of it, fear of filesharing, fear of illegal downloading, fear of how the internet changes publishing in the 21st century, that’s a legitimate fear, because we’re all worried about putting food on the table and leaving a legacy for our children, but we’re using our energy on something we can’t stop, because filesharing is not going away.

And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because people “like stealing.” It’s because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook--they’re all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid--that’s the era we’re entering. And whether or not you’re sharing things that technically aren’t yours to share, whether or not you’re angry because you see this as a “generation of entitlement,” that’s not the issue--the issue is, it’s happening, and the internet’s ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value. And I understand if you are morally outraged about it and you believe to your core that an entire generation is criminal and they’re taking food off your table, I respect that.

But moral outrage is often how we deal with fear. It’s a false sense of empowerment in the face of fear. And I’m here to tell you, that if at core you’re reacting not out of moral outrage but out of fear of the internet and the whole way publishing seems to be headed--that’s good news. Because that’s something we can fix.

We are the smartest, most creative medium in America. We put out ideas on a periodical basis bam, bam, bam. We don’t put out a screenplay every three years. We don’t invent a TV show every ten years. There are more ideas in one Wednesday in one comic shop than in three years of Hollywood. We're notoriously bad businessmen, but we are unmatched for creativity and inventiveness, and there are ways to make filesharing work for us rather than cower in fear that it’s going to destroy us.

I'm going to be rolling out some ideas in the next few weeks on how I personally want to make torrents work for me, not take away from me, and how I plan to shift the paradigm. Lots of you already have similar ideas or will, as well. I’m not saying that to plug anything I’m doing; I just want to go on record that I’m willing to walk the walk. My ideas may work. They may not work. But I’m going to share them. And if they don’t work, I’m going to keep trying. And I’m going to set up forums by which we can share our ideas on this, and I invite us all to throw them around. I really want us to keep that dialogue open. But we can define the terms of 21st century publishing and not have them defined for us.

I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to enter my third decade of my career terrified that publishing’s going down the tubes when we have the power to affect it. In fact, we have the advantage of being able to watch how other media have mismanaged their attempts at digital for ten years and learn from their mistakes. We can--and we will--find ways to make the internet work for us and for the enrichment of culture."

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=28129