Chris Hollander

student researcher ,

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SOPA wants to modernize penal and enforcement policies, should we also modernize definition of Intellectual Property?

Anyone who has used any form of creative software has at some time utilized templates, loops, backgrounds, fonts or any number of preconceived designs in the process of generating their own work. Under our current standards these designs are considered intellectual property the same as the more traditional forms; books, music, movies ect. Typically, a company like Microsoft will allow use of the Helvetica font under its licensing of its product, Word, but does the nature of the explosion of reuse and reformation of designs to create entirely new and imaginative expressions demand rethinking of how we determine the value and definition of digital intellectual property?

Are there other areas of Copyright law that need similar scrutiny ?
(GMOs, Life Patents, Trademarks ect.)

Can the argument be made that we have outgrown Copyright law as a society?

  • Jan 27 2012: How much is the ten year old plasma TV worth? The $15000 original price tag, or the $500 price tag of a plasma TV today, which not only bigger and has far superior picture quality, not to mention other bells and whistles?
    How much is a ten year old car worth? even if it sat in a garage all that time?
    If I manufacture hammers, do I get paid every time the carpenter uses it?
    How much would a ten year old movie,TV show or song be worth?
    In all those cases the value would be minimal , and any value above that would be artificial. Just because a fortune is spend on making a movie does not make it valuable or more entertaining. Most of today's production is pure hype and crap, that is why they are remaking products from the past. Let Hollywood go bankrupt, there is enough entertainment available to keep this and future generation happy, or we will find alternative ways to entertain our self.
    • Jan 28 2012: If you manufacture a hammer you get paid once when it is sold - this is protected by law. No one will come out and say that hammer should be free because they don't like what other hammer makers have been producing, or that there should be some voluntary contribution as a price, or that you need to develop some new business model because the government has decided to throw the entire hardware industry to the wolves because the majority of voters think hammers should be free, or that there should be no deterrents to their theft.

      How would you like it if I said "let whatever your business is go bankrupt - I don;' personally like what you produce - I think when people try to rob you we should not send the police". The economy is in a bad place, and your suggestion is to destroy yet more jobs. Besides, it's not just Hollywood, it's software, books, even pharmaceutical formulas that are being pirated.
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        Feb 1 2012: Mr Ruffo,When I was a kid, it was said that "a job in the bank was a job for life" so I got a job in the bank - it lasted 18 months - I was a teller in the first bank in Australia to adopt computers.SO then later - I became a musician - I was adept on Guitar practicing 6 hours every day for years.Then THe guitar became unfashionable - I learned to play synthesisers - did OK for a while, then TV and the CD destroyed the live music scene - I went and learned COBOL business computing - I worked for big business, then COBOL went out of fashion, I learned business analysis and became a consultant making jobs obsolete .. then I tried to protect women in the workplace and very soon found myself on the street. Now I make musical instruments .. now I have work again. I have not had a "job" in years. Pretty soon the fashion will move again and I will be doing other work.There is a big difference between "job" and "work" - job you do for money, work you do for life.Who or what do you work for?
        And why should I have a shred of sympathy for lazy idiots in "jobs"? Or lazy mongerels trying to make "law" deliver them their life on a plate?
        • Feb 1 2012: I do not consider my clients slave masters. Most I would consider friends. I am happily self-employed. You seem to have had an unfortunate time in life, and an unfortunate view of what life should be. I hope you find better answers in the future.
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        Feb 1 2012: Mr Rufo, Did I say I didn't like all this moving around? I'm having a ball - have done all my life.No - I'm pointing out that life is dynamic. That attempts to slow it down are futile and that if you try, you cause more damage than benefit.
        You seem to have trouble organising your thoughts.
        You also equate physical goods with intellectual "products"It just doesn't work - physical goods are subject to entropy - your hammer will wear out, Each and every copy of a hammer costs materials and effort to make.
        E=MCsqr will never wear out - It cost some time to make, no materials, and every copy since then cost nothing to produce.
        Using physical methods simply does not work on the non-physical.
        The practice of IP was deliberately done to skew economy in the favor of the ideas-maker.
        THere may have been a time in history when that was required. But that time has passed.
        Now the skew becomes a great imballance. TIme to fix it and move on.
        Here's one to consider:
        If the online market became patronise-to-make/download-for-free. What would happen with child-porn?
        THe makers of destructive porn would go out of business.
        You see, it is the very per-unit-market that IP tries to impose that creates the market that porn thrives in. Can you imagine how easy it would become to police pornography then - you would simply locate the patrons of it - instead of chasing down the randon customers of it.
        You seem to be trapped in local minima - perhaps you should think things through.
      • Feb 2 2012: Businesses that produce things that are wanted and are of quality and have a fair price will continue to succeed. Produce over valued crap like Hollywood, then yes it will not succeed.
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    Jan 25 2012: Chris,

    You might consider linking to Creative Commons as well, a post-internet era effort in the area of copyright law (and offering more reasonable options for things like font type, "open source" type projects, and cost-free licensing of intellectual properties: http://creativecommons.org/
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    Jan 21 2012: Yep.

    You can't do this with rules. It has to be done in culture. TO be more specific - it has to be done within the structure of culture. And we will find the way. We always have done. I hope this one can be done without blood.

    The copyfight laws were implaced to allow for the honour of the creatives that our civilisation requires for its evolution. THe impost of an honorarium worked for a short time, but that concept has been perverted to equate the honour of artists with the obscene "real estate" that "Intellectual property" implies. It has allowed the creative potential of civilisation to be over-run by real-esate agents who add not a single drip of value to the earth or the community.

    What is done is to find a commons - to corale it and to charge entry to it. We are then forced to pay for what was already ours - at gunpoint. THis is not a modernisation - it is business as usual for 5000 years. And it ends now.

    How do you honour the creative? You PERSONALLY give him all he/she requires to do the work. That work flows into the community for the community - it is the default state and works fine if not perverted.

    Look to the word "advantage" .. why is it that we must acquire so much? It is not to overcome the environment - it is to overcome the people. Go to a survivor in Darfour and explain to him why you require so much advantage.

    Here's a definition for you:

    "The property of a species includes intellect" This excludes intellect as the property of a person (natural or artificial).

    As background - consider: All of life generates symbol. Symbol is that which exists and is not physical. The accumulation of symbol generated by life creates the "sociosphere". Human beings contribute massively, but not exclusively, to the sociosphere. Life has been working on this for millions of years - and here is the first flower of the sociosphere - it is the internet. We made it, but life made us. What we utter into it belongs to all of life.
    • Jan 28 2012: Last time I checked the MPAA has no armed thugs to point guns at anyone. I agree that the answer is a healthy balance - but letting people steal whatever they want, whenever they want constitutes balance weighed way too far to the other side.
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        Jan 28 2012: Last time I checked, the MPAA DOES have armed thugs - they are generally called "police". I am sure they would be happy to point a gun at me if they were instructed to arrest me for "violation of IP" at the very least, the gun will be observed on their hips.
        Steal .. as has been demonstrated the legal term is "violation of rights" not Theft.
        WIth regards to balance: While there was a physical cost associated with a published work (the book, the vynyl record, the paper journal etc) the reality was that production was finite. And we pay for physical things. The finite nature of the medium will be balanced (more or less).
        However, with digital media, production is potentially INFINITE. THis allows for infinite value to be transferred to the owner of "rights" .. the result is ultimately that all value in the whole of economy becomes transferred to the "rights owners" .. by extension, the rights owners then come to own everything - absolutely everything. The economy then is captured by "rights owners" and no one does anything or gets paid for anything if they are not at the service of the "rights owners".
        Now I know the model is tempered by finite "demand" but the system still has the potential to impose infinite cost on the economy. No balance there at all.
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    Feb 19 2012: I don't think that we need to choose between forbidding file-sharing or neglecting the recognition for artists and authors; there is a third option. We need a new model for intellectual property and I think there's a proposal for one right here on TED if you put together this talk along with these two (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXoHC2D15hM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTMqGbTNkNg). The result is a free virtual library coupled with a fund for artists and authors and the key to this new system is that the library can pay the authors and artists according to the succes of their work. I wrote an article about it: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1c_0l0qgZx5tGlMzP2sR17j8EZh6hBCnXAXX3sdbQVyo.
  • Feb 18 2012: You say unlike me, but I actually work in a form of media that has greatly benefitted from the Internet, music video. But I am very much into honestly, and the rule of law.

    I am NOT against the internet. I am against any form of stealing. Open source is fine because the makers of that code CHOSE to make it open source - it's their code, and it should be their choice..

    Software innovation in such applications as photo editing and 3D animation have stagnated compared to what they were some years ago, and if you factor in Moore's law they have slowed to a crawl. There is only so much you can do with a gang of volunteers, and young people will no longer study computer science if all they can do with their degree is share their work for free after a full shift at Starbucks.

    You are talking about Internet advances of a positive nature - there are many of those - I am only condemning piracy.
  • Feb 17 2012: "Practical considerations later" exactly a summary of all the thinking here. Let's just all steal everyone's creative content and do a hippie dance - and we'll consider the practicalities - like the entire city of Los Angeles having a decimated economy - later.

    Besides, even for the most fatuous of academic windbags, defending piracy as "ethical" is patently ludicrous.
    • Feb 18 2012: I think you yourself are the most aligned with the "Practical considerations later" thinking.

      Do you really, really know how the internet works, and how software development had overcome much of that problem by now? You do not seem to know these.

      Do you really want to have all your e-mail and credit card information (from online purchases) checked by your internet provider? ACTA (if I am not mistaken) will actually force them to do that, and will eventually restrict commercial uses of cryptography if it gets in their way against piracy. They are even intending to make the bit torrent protocol illegal, which was not even specifically designed for piracy.

      I would not like to see services like Google, GMail, Facebook, Youtube or even Wikipedia go offline because of that. We would start a new Dark Age, hunting pirates instead of witches, and internet will become history soon enough (not so much because piracy would stop, but mostly because people would either lose interest in the poorly expensive content left, become fearful of sharing or accessing content they are not sure they can, or be unfairly punished for accidentally accessing or sharing illegal content). Much of the sense of collaboration would crumble before that. Is that what you seek?

      And I'd estimate many more jobs would be lost due to this crisis than whatever is estimated due to piracy.
      • Feb 18 2012: This is propaganda and nonsense. Youtube and Google have done a fine job of brainwashing you. Maybe they will send you a check for 0.01c for helping their agenda. Maybe not - they feel everyone should share, although they themselves are very reluctant to share their ad revenues, so likely no check.

        BTW - have you ever met ANYONE who uses bittorrent for something other than piracy? Aren't there other ways of sharing legal files that are much easier?
        • Feb 18 2012: We are not getting a check, but if We did I would despise it. We are not directly getting any economical gain for promoting these ideas.
        • Feb 19 2012: @R.Ruffo
          I think you are the one brainwashed by the movie industry, but that is not relevant after all.

          Google might not be sharing their ad revenue directly, but I definitely could not survive without their free search engine service. I don't mind being exploited as long as I exploit them in return. Our relationship is fair and mutual, unlike in the movie industry. That is probably why so many people are complaining about the copyrights system - it does not offer enough value nor fairness (much less innovation) anymore.

          I do not see the artists getting their fair share on their work, nor I see the overall value of their work improving through this system. Unlike in the software industry, where start-ups actually get a chance of becoming successful, and deliver ever greater value (the most innovative ones, at least - I can't say the same for some corporations or segments) - much of that, only possible because some people shared their work, freely or not.

          And Google (which includes YouTube) is not my only source of information, as you are implying. Most of the insights I get are from different and independent organizations, all within the IT sector (Wikipedia, for instance, is not affiliated to Google, and is built upon the collaborative work of thousands of independent volunteers, unlike your probable sources - and they are ad-free, by the way).

          And you still show no signs of knowledge about the internet. Hope you do not regret should these laws ever happen. By the way, you may ask me anything about how the internet works, it is part of my job to know these things, technically speaking, of course.
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      Feb 18 2012: so you say we should abandon ethics for the sake of practicality? and practicality in that case means more money for you, less freedom for others? then the debate is over. you demonstrated that you here only to fight for some more money, and you disregard reason.
  • Feb 17 2012: The whole idea of quoting property law which predates the information age is ludicrous.

    And @ Kriztian: Do you make money selling information or ideas? How would you like it if your boss only paid you if he felt like it? Software makes and filmmakers have buyers/viewers as their true "boss".

    Indie films used to rent the same gear that big Hollywood films did (35mm and 16mm film - Black Swan was shot on 16mm - it's arguably better than the best digital camera out there). Now it's cheaper to buy, so some people own things like cameras, but still it's mainly a rental game. At any rate, a video camera, even if it costs $5 and is full hd, does not give you actors, sets, lights etc. How do you pay for those? How do you pay for the time to learn your craft well? It takes years to learn the craft of storytelling and directing beyond the high school play level of most garage projects on Vimeo. Who will invest those years of they know there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just $0 "sharing"? Have you ever tried to actually sit through a 90 minute amateur film?

    It's amazing, I'll bet you all call yourselves intellectuals, and yet their is only one, monolithic, ultra-conformist groupthink here.
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      Feb 17 2012: i'm in contractual relationship with my boss. he pays me as we agreed beforehand. i'm not in any agreement with a filmmaker. i can be, if i buy a DVD from them. but until that point, i'm in no legal relation with them. and as long as i don't touch their stuff, i expect them to also not touch my stuff.

      how do they make money to create good movies? i don't care. it is their problem. ethics first, practical considerations later.
  • Feb 17 2012: Pirate Bay is not competition, Pirate Bay is simply crime. Should legitimate retailers compete against back-alley vendors selling stolen goods? Just accept stolen goods as part of the new reality, or call upon the police to try and reduce shoplifting?

    I am not against indies, innovation, etc. I am against theft. It is bad at so many levels it would take me all day to get into them all. among them, rarely mentioned, is that it's not a good idea to teach our kids its' OK to cheat and steal, or for those kids to get in that habit by frequent torrent use. That is moral decay, plain and simple.

    Without piracy/crime, there would be simple metrics for determining per-unit cost of digital goods (and the price would be way lower - for example, if everyone who used Photoshop did so legally, they'd probably price it at less than 5% what it costs now, to get a bigger total off of the equation: no. of users X price.) besides, anyone with even basic understanding of economics knows that per-unit means nothing. It's the cost of making the first copy that matters, and it costs millions to make any watchable film that is not relying on some home-video gimmick, like Paranormal or Blair Witch (and by the way, Blair Witch paid no one - in a sense they cheated all the people who worked on it. It costs millions to develop and refine complex software, etc.

    Fact remains, indy film had a much easier time of things when Internet piracy was lower, and there was much more money invested in software innovation. You all want some imaginary world where talented film makers and software makers are you unpaid servants and that's fine to want that, but no such world will be forthcoming.
    • Feb 17 2012: Piracy is NOT theft: "the dishonest taking of property belonging to another person with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of its possession" - note "possession". When I copy your copy I do not STEAL anything, I duplicate and leave the original source intact. Do I steal if I take a photo of a photo? The whole idea of comparing piracy to shoplifting is absurd, as shoplifting removes physical property from it's owner.

      It is not stealing, it is sharing, a social behavior that emotionally affects us in a positive way.

      Right now as good as no teenager that doesn't get a discount for Photoshop simply can not afford it which they should be wholly and fully aware of. Adobe gets licenses for thousands of dollars from companies and so fourth that are using their products. In fact, it may just be a legit business model as those who pirate Photoshop now are more likely to demand the product at work. Not true. The video quality of recording devices that are available to indie projects are already better then what we had in the 80's, and people love working together with other people and helping out instead of just passively consume. Things will work differently no doubt, but claiming that it will kill creative productions is a blatant lie.

      Not true even the slightest. The trend that I see is that the more people share, the more they are willing to share/donate money to something that they want to see made. I want a world where I can support the projects that I personally care about instead of being the ripped off servant to giant entertainment companies. My heart goes to the truly creative people and not the business built around exploiting them.
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      Feb 17 2012: i'm not buying your utilitarianism. laws must be built on ethics. and the ethics of this situation is clear: i'm not in any contract with company X, so i can copy any piece of information i can rightfully lay a hand on, even if they are the original creator of that information. i have no obligation to them. if they ask me to pay them for their efforts, i'm going to consider it, but that's it. they also can make a contract with their customers, and forbid giving away copies of that information under the pain of some huge fine. it is also okay for me. but it is not legally binding to any 3rd party. that is the ethical analysis of the situation. the current law does not reflect it. the proposed new laws do so even less.
    • Feb 17 2012: "Fact remains, indy film had a much easier time of things when Internet piracy was lower, and there was much more money invested in software innovation. You all want some imaginary world where talented film makers and software makers are you unpaid servants and that's fine to want that, but no such world will be forthcoming."

      No facts here.

      You are definitely not speaking for the software developers. It was never so easy to deliver good software, especially because of the open source community (if we depended on the corporations, we would still be using something like IE5, and would have to deal with Oracle for all our database needs).

      It is indeed harder to sell software, but software innovation is definitely the strongest now than it ever was. It is just that software developers (unlike you) have found innovative ways of making money. We do not depend on selling intellectual property anymore, we sell solutions and services instead (which cannot be so easily "stolen", just to begin with).

      And good software developers were never so valued as of now, because they are able to find good solutions to any problem, and it is so easy to know their true abilities (you just have to look for their profile in a decent open source project, and see how well they work). Even the youngest indie can get a pretty good reputation and visibility this way.
  • Feb 17 2012: Blair Witch had a $30 000 000 advertising budget. Blair Witch worked because it told a story based around the use of home video cameras. There is a very limited number of stories that can be told that way, Paranormal Activity is another.

    You would't want to watch a romantic comedy shot that way, and most probably Oceans Eleven wouldn't be much of draw either. Blair Witch was a novelty, a one-off.

    "Natural Selection" exists in its pure form only outside civilizing forces. Otherwise, in the West,m we expect protection from unjust harm, theft and so on.
    • Feb 17 2012: Exactly, Minecraft spent nothing on marketing, yet gained millions of dollars. That wouldn't have been possible a few years ago as marketing is expensive, which favors projects with a huge budget over indie-projects. How can an indie-developed project even begin to compete with the big companies at their own game? They can't simply put, but on the internet they actually stand an honest chance.

      No, probably not, because an indie-developed romantic comedy would need to have some sort of creative content to back it up as they wouldn't be able to afford to place well respected actors as milk cows in those films.

      You know that's not true, the economical system is just a newer variation of the ecosystem. "Competition breeds innovation", so what better competition is there then The Pirate Bay? If a company can't adapt to changes and new technology it's a very high possibility that they will go out of business.

      There is no such thing as a supply/demand equation to determine the price when it comes to digital copies, so instead of trying to deny the fact that we simply cannot stop it now, why don't you try to figure out ways to exploit it? Just take a look at the iOS market, the profit that can be made is just ludicrous. When those Intellectual Properties costs less then a dollar and it's easy to use people actually think that it's more of an inconvenience to pirate it then just pay a minimal fee. Retrogression isn't a very valid method to fight piracy with as time indeed has a direction.
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    Feb 8 2012: I think that we should have anything that is more than 6 months old be available in a library for use. be it music, games, software or any other media with adequate facilities to use all of them without having to wait more than 1 week. being a fan should make you want to have your own copy and purchase your own machine to use it so your have personal access.

    everyone gets to have a look, no more reason for piracy (in the case of people getting it because they can't afford it or they just want to try before they buy, which is what 90% of people do) and the companies who make it, get to have a second wind of people buying their stuff after people have tried it (more sales!).

    why no one has done this is beyond me!

    edit: give 2 hour use of the media online for free! then they can go have a full look at it in the library if they already have the machine!
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    Jan 25 2012: Intellectual property laws, like many other laws in our society, should always be under scrutiny in order to adapt to changes in technology, the community, etc.

    However, I believe that they're vital. Protecting them, in a way, perserves the value of said ideas/artistic works.
  • Jan 24 2012: A "democratic internet" is a University professor's delusion. you can't allow free access to many types of information, like for example the instructions for how to build a nuclear bomb. You can't allow kiddie porn. The anonymity of internet brings out the WORST in people., not the best, and it is a place that should, must even, be policed to a reasonable degree. No one is saying they should read your e-mails - those are private, but the Internet isPUBLIC.

    Yes it's hard to say how much piracy costs, as not all illegal downloaders would have bought what they steal, but many would have. Do you think that the bankruptcy of Blockbuster is a coincidence? A dear friend managed one. I'm sure he would be delighted to hear you erudite theories.

    This is a TERRIBLE TIME for an indy film maker. Not so long ago, you could pitch something oddball to a distributor, and have some hope of getting a home video deal, with an advance. There were lost of indy distributors, who specialized in all kinds of niches. "Self publishing" means what? Posting something on youtube, who give you pennies per viewer? You will starve that way. Selling T-shisrt on your website. You will starve that way. That is, unless you spend very little time writing and perfecting your work. Look at your average youtube product - it looks like it was hastily thrown together - this is the only way to make money at that game. It ain't no Schindlers' List. In fact, almost none of it is fiction with true suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer - that is actually very hard to do (and people who say that they could do better than Hollywood have never actually tried)
    Besides, the big thing about having a mechanism that does the promo for you, is that you can focus on your talent. If you have to spend 90% of your time doing your own selling (because the studios and distributors are all bankrupt) you are wasting your potential creation hours on earth. Good thing Hitchcock didn't have to
    • Feb 16 2012: It's following the same principle as natural selection, the ones who cannot adapt will die with time while new forms will take the stubborn old giants place.

      Right now it's the beginning of a golden age for indie projects, whether it's music, film or even games. With internet it's possible to cut out the middle hands and actually get an even greater return to the original makers and funders, resulting in a bigger profit.

      Take Minecraft for example, the "American dream" of indie-developed games. It was only a handful of people developing it, but through word of mouth and they having a website, selling the game for a mere 10$ they now have cashed in millions of dollars from an indie project that didn't go through "official channels" like "Blair Witch Project" did!

      Piracy is a service problem, the only way to truly eliminate it is to provide an even better service then say The Pirate Bay. The gaming platform "Steam" on PC has done just that do a great extent by offering an enormous library of games with automatic updates, ease of access and so fourth. For publishers this is also a potential gold mine as "shelf space" doesn't exist, there being no second hand market, and that the middle hands vanished, providing a better profit while being able to maintain a lower price.

      If we don't have to pay we want to contribute, that's how most humans work. Don't believe me? Here's a read on the subject: http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/02/08/lineage-ii-boasts-increased-revenue-and-playerbase-following-fre/

      Plus, another link that may be interesting: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure

      Plus, watching the great videos here at TED.com didn't even cost me a single penny.
  • Jan 24 2012: " there is simply no market for them to transform their economic value into money."

    But there is! It's called novels, movie scripts, philosophy books.

    For many of us not born with rich parents (and only so many of us can have University tenure) we will not be able to spend much time on these thoughst anymore. Thsu all movie scripts and novels will be written by rich kids with trust funds.

    "The powerful media conglomerates have profited greatly of the crap they shoved down the throats of the powerless public for years. "

    This is arts professor delusional nonsense. The media companies try hard to figure out what the public wants and then do their best to give it to them. They do not shove anything, that is a sure way to go bankrupt. You may not share the tastes of the general public, and likely think your tastes are "superior", but I would venture that says more about your nature (you think you are superior to most people) than about the media companies.

    I think you need to spend more time in the real world. You really have NO CLUE about how Hollywood studios are run. They are not on some personal vendetta against the public. they are only making their best guesses about what people want to see, based on years and years of ASKING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.

    This monolith is also pure University Professor fantasy. There are many producers of film, big and small, and many have never met each other, hate each other, compete with each other. Soem approve of teh M.P.A.A. some hate it

    The internet has not changed as much as you claim. Where is the beautiful, poignant amateur-made video on youtube? Have you ever seen one? People have had access to video cameras for years, how many have produced anything worth watching? ARe you such an intellectual snob that you think there are no great Hollywood films? But even if you are, please steer me to one, single, truly beautifully written and acted youtube video that is anything more than a one minute cheap laugh
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      Jan 25 2012: This is a discussion of copyright law... Not art... So, do you think Kurosawa, Capra, and Hitchcock films, should still be sold, by people who had absolutely nothing to do with creating them? Or, do you believe that at 50 years, they should have passed into the public domain long ago?

      Our original copyright law, said that culture retains ownership of artistic property, and every citizen should be able to alter, remaster, and remix said property, after a 14 year copyright expires, renewable once. It now lasts indefinately and culture owns nothing. "It's a Wonderful Life", was in the public domain, and television stations were free to show it for years... and that's why that film became a classic. We then retroactively gave the copyright to that film back to a corporation that had absolutely nothing to do with its creation... Now, it costs thousands of dollars to show that movie on television during christmas... Are you really so Nazi capitalist, that you think nothing belongs to culture? Nothing belongs in the public domain? People should go to jail for drawing Mickey Mouse?

      To be against copyright reform, in this day and age is absurd... Adam Smith would laugh at you for being willing to give up your culture to profit.
      • Jan 25 2012: As a Jew, I am not Nazi, and I find it very offensive that you would even hint at that.

        My culture is exactly what I am trying to defend. My culture is about real creativity, which is much more than cutting and pasting bits of songs or re-enacting bits of other people's movies badly while drunk on youtube. If you think that's all culture is, then you are really missing out.

        To claim that Pirate Bay is "creative culture" is ludicrous.

        As far as reducing copyright law, I really don't see how that benefits society. You know many artists leave their work as an inheritance to their children? Are you saying that they should not have anything of value to leave to their children? Again, oddball movies can get financed (and thus made, and look a little more watchable than you average home made youtube movie) because people are thinking these movies might have long-term "cult appeal". Why sis it so important to you to kill that extra sales point at financing meetings, and thus skill many small projects?

        Why are you so obsessed with taking the living away from from creative people? What do you have against us?

        It seems multibillion dollar corporations like Google and Youtube and Internet providers have a done a great job of brainwashing you so that you can help them make money off piracy. You do know who owns Ted right? Where the money comes from? What is their agenda? Oh, you didn't know did you...

        Ultra right-wing Republicans also do not like Hollywood - they would much prefer all media be ad driven, and thus directly corporate controlled - they don't want too many Michael Moores around, and Michael can only make a living off of tickets and home-video sales, as no ad driven network would ever touch him with a ten foot pole. I'm sure the ultra-right is as proud of you as Google's billionaire owners are. "Good work young man! Now here's a check for $1.76 for you, your youtube video that cost $20 000 just had another 50 000 views."
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          Jan 25 2012: I apologize for the wording... but not the content... Zealot capitalist, would apparently be less offensive, but still describe your views perfectly... You ignored every aspect of my response... Did you even read it?

          I'm talking about Capra, Hitchcock, and Kurosawa... and you're talking about youtube. I am for reforming copyright laws, dramatically... but I chose not to make that argument... I made the argument that any rational person, should be able to agree with... but you can't. I made the argument that children have a right to see films like "You Can't Take it with You", and "The Seven Samurai" for free, because everyone who contributed to their creation is long dead.

          No one in their right mind, could possibly believe that Miramax, is the only corporation in America, that should have a right to remake "Ikiru"... Personally, I don't even think it should be remade... but, a film whose creators, and actors are all dead, should not have to be paid for. If someone wants to remake "Ikiru" with a modern twist, they should be allowed to... Yes, it will probably be awful. 20 awful versions could lead to one modern intelligent remake however, the odds that 1 will... are much slimmer.

          You constantly defend the motion picture industry... Who is this generations Kurosawa? Who is this generations Capra? Hitchcock? Having trouble... I'll answer for you... No one. Major Hollywood motion picture firms have gone at least 20 years without recruiting or paying a single "master" into the motion picture industry.

          I can think of less than 5 brilliant films that have come out in the last 20 years... Crash makes the list. District 9 makes the list for it's interesting take on apartheid... I may even give a tip of my hat to Inception. I just looked up the list of the 50 highest grossing films in the decade of 2000... Not one of them, is what I would call, a "film"... None of them are about, anything. The Dark Knight, had a cool anarchist villain... that's about it.
        • Feb 15 2012: @Robert

          "My culture is exactly what I am trying to defend. My culture is about real creativity, which is much more than cutting and pasting bits of songs or re-enacting bits of other people's movies badly while drunk on youtube. If you think that's all culture is, then you are really missing out."

          You claim to defend creativity, yet you are attached to an old economic model. When are you going to "create" a viable economic model that does not depend so deeply in a so flawed system called "intellectual property". Even the concept of "property" is quite old and already broken. Bad.

          And there are some professional videos on YouTube, although not "films". A few artists are marketing their work through it, and some educational videos (used in some schools) are being posted on it, as much as or even more professionally than the Wikimedia Foundation can be.

          I will not stop being creative just because I can't make a living off it. I will still create stuff, even if for a hobby, taking my many decades, and share them with everyone for the sake of developing humanity. If you have something to say, just say it. If you are just waiting for money, then it was probably not worth enough to say. I can find another way to pay for my living expenses, and only death (or something like that) will stop me from making software.

          By the way, I hope you have not copyrighted your comments, because I'm quoting them a lot. I am not paying a dime for them, anyway.
    • Jan 27 2012: I only saw this reply just now. You do an excellent job of name calling without actually mentioning my name.

      "But there is [a market for thoughts]! It's called novels, movie scripts, philosophy books."
      No, that market has been CREATED by intellectual property rights, much like the EU created a market for trading licenses that allow companies to emit greenhouse gases.

      "The media companies try hard to figure out what the public wants and then do their best to give it to them. ... This monolith is also pure University Professor fantasy."
      You do not seem to know much about economics. Companies try to do only one thing: maximize shareholder wealth. Media companies have an excellent position to do that, given their government-sanctioned monopoly on an extremely wide range of products. Due to economies of scale, these companies naturally converge into one big conglomerate. Anti-trust regulations have halted this process and reversed it in some cases. Nevertheless, the largest six media companies control around 75% to 90% of the markets in which they are active worldwide. Given these indisputable facts, I see no proof for your statements whatsoever.

      "They are not on some personal vendetta against the public. they are only making their best guesses about what people want to see, based on years and years of ASKING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT."
      Obviously. And after they've found out what people want, they'll assess what course of action will make them the most money. You seem to forget that step.

      "The internet has not changed as much as you claim. Where is the beautiful, poignant amateur-made video on youtube?"
      Interestingly, I have not claimed that the internet would produce "beautiful, poignant amateur-made videos". (Note, by the way, that Bob Saget made a fortune with YouTube videos avant la lettre.) I claimed that it shifted the balance of power. The current situation is an obvious proof of that statement.
      • Jan 27 2012: The balance of power is still in the hands of professional filmmakers, because really, it is, 90% of the time, their work that people are downloading illegally. That was my point. People are not watching amateur stuff except for 5 minute cat videos and so on, for rare exception, so how much power do amateurs really have if no one is watching what they make? How much cultural power does a cat video maker really have?

        You all seem to have a problem with democratic socialism (I'm Canadian, I don;t believe in "pure free markets" or in excessive deregulation and I strongly support labour unions) , and you seem to feel that Marxism is the best answer.

        If I am a Zealot about something, it's the rule of law, applied to all, without exception. Whether you personally think any individual has produced great masterworks in the past 40 years or not, they still deserve to be protected from theft and pillage. I have lived in countries where only some people get protection, those deemed "worthy" by an "elite". Trust me, you would not want to live there.

        Corporations, within a civilized socialist democracy like Canada and Europe, attempt to make money, yes. Why do you have a problem with that? Do you attempt to make money at your job, or do you try to be paid as little as possible by your employer? It is not physically possible to make anything but a tiny range of movie types without money. Movies are not songs or poems or short stories that you can strum off by yourself in your garage. They are only watchable when created professionally with at least some money.

        Within all that, I've nonetheless seen real passion in Hollywood and within the general corporate world for projects and ideals, and Hollywood does sometimes produce things unlikely to make money because there is prestige or "intangible value", companies like Johnson and Johnson have a philosophy of passion for quality that goes way beyond the bottom line, and their shareholders understand that.
        • Jan 28 2012: @Robert Ruffo
          "You all seem to have a problem with democratic socialism ... and you seem to feel that Marxism is the best answer."
          What a strange remark considering that I have promoted less regulation and more free market. And why do you think I have a problem with corporations making money? I have a problem with intellectual property, i.e. the government sanctioned monopoly on the products of certain ideas. I have an even greater problem with SOPA, PIPA and ACTA; laws that legalize the infringement upon the basic human rights of millions of people for the benefit of a just a few wealthy companies.
          You seem to want to argue for the practical benefits of SOPA and PIPA, implicitly admitting that they are indeed unjust. But you have not even succeeded at that, all you have established so far is that YouTube videos are not good movies. But that fact does not prove that good movies would not be made without intellectual property laws, nor that no one would pay to see them. Lacking arguments, you come up with accusations of snobbery and Marxism. That, for me at least, signals the end of the discussion.
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          Jan 28 2012: Seems to me that true free market capitalism means that what there is a market for flies and what there isn't a market for fails -- not gets propped up by stupid laws that destroy other markets.

          If anything you are arguing against.

          "People pay at the theaters for grand visual spectacle. Mostly gone forever are the many genres that depended on home video to be economically viable..."

          If the market is gone, then stop making them.

          If they are missed, people will have to figure out how to create a new revenue channel for them. THAT'S the way capitalism works - not subsidies, tariffs, and laws that prop up a failing industry.
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      Feb 3 2012: You know Robert, I am actually very sympathetic with your views about standing up for the film industry. I love movies and I want them to continue to be financed. I don't think people have some sort of "right" to download them for free.

      However, the question with laws like sopa, or the digital millennium copyright act, is whether the ends justify the means. Does fighting piracy justify the increasing the power of government and private organisations?

      There was a really interesting interview on spark (cbc radio program) about this:

      http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2012/01/full-interview-cory-doctorow-on-the-war-on-general-computing/

      The scope of intellectual property rights has blossomed beyond reason, especially in the high tech industry. Clay Shirky's absurd example of the birthday cake is just the tip of the ice berg. In 2000 The MPAA sued a lynux software company for simply writing a program that could read dvds. The claim centred around the idea that the language itself was intellectual property and it is "stealing" to read it, even if there is no actual copying.

      Software liscencing agreements are long and increasingly insane. (One videogame company slipped in the clause "you will give to us your eternal soul" just as a joke to see if anyone noticed)

      Legal fees, settlements and lawsuits are one of the single largest expenses of high tech companies, often involves hundreds of millions of dollars. As a response, large companies like google and microsoft have to by out smaller companies just to build up "war chests" of patents.

      Decompiling code is considered "stealing" trade secrets through reverse engineering. So now we are in a situation where we have programs on our computers that run secret code, and we are not allowed to know what the programs actually do. Trying to figure it out is a crime.

      What kind of infrastructure are we trying to set up for future generations?

      Piracy is a problem, but the cure is worse than the disease.
  • Jan 24 2012: @ Gisela - OK, but the girl/guy who first came up with that stuff was hailed as a cutting-edge director, and got other rewards. We can be inspired by others and develop their work and take their experiments further - but these laws are not about that - they are about illegally posting someone's else's work without improving it or adding anything of any value . The users of Pirate Bay are not being creative at all.

    @ Chris: If popular culture has no value for you, then being forbidden from illegally downloading it should not represent a problem. Again, the TV show producers owe you nothing. They can produce the worst crap ever. They are not your employees, and in the U.S. they are not government funded - they have no obligation to serve you or please you at all.

    You don't have to watch - but it does not stand up to reason that you then have the right to steal what others make at their own expense. People who run jewelry stores are not there to please you personally either, does that give you the right to steal from them?

    If you think you can do better, then get a film degree, obtain financing, spend years on a script, then shoot it.

    This is an information economy - if ideas do not have the same value as hard goods we are in real trouble because most western countries produce little except ideas.

    You say popular culture is being defended, but I am upset because of the effect this has been most hurtful on marginal media (i.e. independent film with no wide tentpole 3D-Imax-esque release.) Independent film, in all its wonderful quirkyness, depended largely on home video has been decimated by piracy.

    Besides, if it's popular culture, by definition many people like it so it has value for them. Who are you to say what is good - that implies you feel you have some kind of superior judgement. A bit pretentious no?

    I would say what puts people in touch with their emotions has enormous value, and any romantic comedy pulls that off for its audience
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      Jan 24 2012: SOPA has been shown to not just protect media creators from piracy. It allows exactly what the people who have been concerned about a democratic internet fear, the termination of service or the dis-allowance of use of online resources for expression of unpopular views.It allows Comcast to pick and choose sites it would give access to, forces self policing and fosters an environment of shoot first ask later and as has been demonstrated by Timo and many, many other examples, the stated purposes for which they would shut access to sites for (ie piracy) do not reflect their true intentions. We live in a Democracy where power is held by those who control the narrative. Control the medium the narrative is expressed, and all the power to you.

      As to the value of pop culture, I was not stating I felt qualified to judge someone else's work as being valuable compared to anothers' and I certainly don't feel that way. My question was the inherent value of these goods themselves, just because you pour money into it and an advertiser pays you to put it on doesn't mean there is any value added to the market place. When they took Megaupload down they claimed 500mil had been lost in product, but there is no way to prove this except for the value stated by the media distributor (this dvd would have been worth $20 if this person bought it instead of downloading it ect.)

      I respect creators' work particularly when it comes to software, but the market/monetary system can't handle the intangibility of value placed on digital items. They deserve to be compensated fairly for their work, but I don't see how this can be done in the same way farmers or machinists are compensated. Not with our current system. Coldplay touche don this issue when they released their album by asking listeners to "pay what they thought it was worth."

      Robert, why do you feel marginal media has been hurt the most by piracy? It seems to me that there has never been a better time to self publish than today?
  • Jan 23 2012: That is not the same as cutting and pasting a scene from a film.
    • Jan 24 2012: "You know, if ideas are free, that means our thoughts are worthless."
      This is a great one liner, but does not hold a shred of truth. It is important to make a distinction between two broad categories of value: monetary value and economic (or utilitarian, or real, etc.) value. A house has economic value, because e.g. you can live in it and you have fond memories of it. It also has monetary value, because you can sell it. A properly functioning market market assigns monetary value to any product or service in accordance with its true economic value. Thoughts without any monetary value, such as romantic thoughts or the thoughts that I write here, are thus not worthless at all; there is simply no market for them to transform their economic value into money.

      That being said, the caveat is the phrase 'properly functioning.' Because what is that exactly? Obviously, the people who sell a product or service state that the market undervalues its true economic value, whereas the buyer states the market overvalues it. That's not because it's necessarily true, or because it's what they actually believe, but because they have in interest in receiving more money and pay less of it respectively. Historically, the sellers have proven to have more political power than the buyers, which has resulted in the current and proposed intellectual property laws. One might argue (as I do), that some form of regulation will make the media market better at assigning monetary value in accordance with true economic value. However, the current and proposed amount of regulation is not a matter of estimating true value, but a matter of showing who's boss. The powerful media conglomerates have profited greatly of the crap they shoved down the throats of the powerless public for years. They wish to continue to do so and that is what SOPA and PIPA are about. These companies do not yet realize that the internet has fundamentally changed the balance of power and that there is no going back.
  • Jan 20 2012: "Whats more interesting is that (I believe it was viacom) recently attempted to sue Youtube for copyright infringement, but it was infact viacom that was uploading the video clips in the first place because (Drum roll, please) it generated additional interest in the shows itself."
    Hahaha, that's quite an amazing story.

    I definitely believe intellectual property laws are outdated, not only because they fail in enforcement, but also because I believe current interpretation of intellectual property itself has been outdated. Nevertheless, I do not think that society has outgrown the idea altogether. As I have argued elsewhere: intellectual property is not actually property, but a society-sanctioned, temporary monopoly on the products of ideas. There are thus three variables in the equation: the length of the exploitation, which products should a priori be considered for protection, and finally, under which circumstances these products should be protected and under which they should not.

    Intellectual copyright laws have changed in the direction that they cover more products, under more circumstances and for longer periods of time. Not only should we stop this trend, we should head in the opposite direction. Why should the rights to a television show hold for twenty years, or whatever, after the creation of the work? Why not until after it's been aired and the DVD has been sold? Most of the demand is satisfied immediately anyway, the copyright holders do not gain much after it (other than through copyright violations of course). Obviously, this is not a very well thought-out idea, but I will not claim any right to it, so feel free to develop it further.
    • Jan 22 2012: Why do you feel people who produce TV shows owe you something? Were you an investor in these shows? Did you work on the crew? Why do you feel owed a free lunch?

      You are also ignorant of the fact that really risky shows like The Wire can get financing because of their hoped longevity via "cult appeal".

      TV and movies are barely surviving anymore, and the whole youtube thing does not pay a living wage. Why are you so eager to curtail revenue further.
      .
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        Jan 22 2012: Should the makers of TV shows be paying the estates of the pioneers who created camera techniques or editing conventions?

        It's all borrowing from the past; these people like to pretend they are the original innovators when they aren't either.
        • Jan 22 2012: Actually, they do pay. All the technology on a set is legally licensed from its creators - this is why digital cameras and other film equipment cost so much - we are paying for the IP their creators put in - which to me is fair enough.

          Film pros share some of their tricks out of tradition of apprenticeship, but never all of them - and it's their choice what to share. Many techniques, like the Matrix effect, are licensed from the guys who invented them, even though there is no physical tech involved.

          You know, if ideas are free, that means our thoughts are worthless, and one could only help to make a living through.manual labour.
        • Jan 27 2012: Idea, thoughts are worthless until they produce something other want, being it a physical product or an artist production such as music, movies etc, in the end they all requires some manual labour.
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        Jan 23 2012: Ah, I mean the techniques themselves, something as banal as the sight-object inserts, match dissolves, jump cuts, etc.

        The conventions, not the technology.

        These have all become the fundamental building blocks of cinematic language and we take them for granted.
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          Jan 25 2012: One could also argue that the stylistic conventions in film are treated in much the same way as other expressions of art: patterns or forms in writing/poetry, music, photography, painting, presentations, etc.
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        Jan 24 2012: "You know, if ideas are free, that means our thoughts are worthless"

        I think this comment is interesting in the sense that it involves the question of value, and property by definition is something of value. And that is what its' all about, you mentioned, "Why do you feel people who produce TV shows owe you something," I on the other hand would ask the question, "What are the people who produce TV shows providing me?"

        Sincerely trying to answer that question I come up with entertainment and popular culture. Neither of these things have inherent value like any other form of property, so why should I ascribe it a monetary worth?

        Your answer to ideas being worthless is that we will all have to make our living doing manual labor, which is sufficiently scary, however not quite sufficient as an argument against the sort of copyright law abuses that Timo points out.

        Do you think TV and Music have value in the same context as land or machines as they are presented to us today?
        • Jan 25 2012: At last a debate about the concept of value. There can be no 'culture' without value, but value is not necessarily only economic. It seems that the debate is divided along generational lines. The younger generation see freedom of information and information sharing as a 'good' thing. The older generation see 'Intellectual Property' as something earned, a matter of education. In the world of the internet it is not uncommon to hear someone say "I learned it on the internet". Doubtless what was leaned was of value to the student. The question not asked is - how much value? Would you trust your life to a heart surgeon who learned his trade on the internet? Would you cross a bridge designed by an engineer who learned his trade on the internet? Sorry to keep bringing in the real world here, but it seems to me that the advocates of the free exchange of virtual information presume that this information has no relevance to the world of real things. Music and entertainment, art and literature are cultural tangibles that must have value in order for them to make a contribution to the cultural environment. The result of making 'intellectual property' freely accessible will be a devaluing of cultural worth, because things of real cultural value, things that may only be transmitted between two human beings, a teacher and a pupil; a master and his apprentice, cannot be transmitted by the internet. These critical values will be lost and you will find yourselves dealing in a continually narrowing world of quotation and re-quotation, in a descending value spiral. I would say we are already witnesses to this process on the internet, but perhaps the younger generation will not be experienced enough to perceive this process at work.
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        Jan 25 2012: Indeed, Simon, that is precisely what I am saying.

        Attempting to circumvent works going into the public domain is denying the fact that those who have created have extended the works and discoveries of those who have gone before.
        • Jan 26 2012: But removing sources of revenue from art creators, even if it's just shortening the time limit, means fewer will be able to afford to find the time to make said works. Hollywood is slowly going bankrupt (MGM recently went bankrupt), the majority of indy production companies that existed 10 years ago are now full-on bankrupt. Lots of people might have had the pitch for the next Little Miss Sunshine or American Beauty, but while you guys discuss Marxism and the concept of value, they had nowhere to go with these ideas, and instead continued to work at Starbucks. We'll never find out what they would have created - and cheap cameras don;t change the fact that you need a LOT of money to make a watchable film, and a LOT of time. Youtube proves this (where is the home-made feature that is anything more than a cheap laugh?) . This "new business model" is a few cents on the dollar - it's just not viable, and the only people making indy films now, for rare exception, are rich trust fund kids and people who do so after 3 shifts at other jobs. The net result of starving artists is most often that they give up (this in reality, not in some ivory tower academics's fantasies about the way things "should" be.)

          You may have also noticed that Hollywood is releasing fewer and fewer films (half as many as 15 years ago, almost exactly.) This means that as consumers, we have fewer and fewer choices. Isn't this free sharing on the Internet wonderful? Let's all hug and do a hippie dance.
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        Jan 26 2012: And I'd like to feel sorry for Hollywood, but they produce things like Jack and Jill and let Madonna act and direct. People are clearly willing to pay to be entertained, but not for crap. Which is diametrically opposed to Hollywood's need for formulae and producing clones of films.

        For example: How many months were there LINE UPS for Avatar (that sticks in my mind because I was going to something in early March - more than 2 months after the film had been released - and I was STILL passing roped off line ups to get in to see that film).

        I wouldn't even call it a particularly good film.

        I am a former Associate Director of the byDesign eLab at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (based out of McLuhan's original coach house) so I'm going to fall back on a quote from Marshall McLuhan:

        "A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them."

        Each replaced medium has to figure out what it does uniquely well and then use that. Radio didn't replace newspapers or books; TV didn't replace either film or radio; but always there is this panic and re-shuffling as people adapt (or refuse).

        There's no putting genies back in bottles.
        • Jan 26 2012: Amateur youtube filmmakers produce almost 100% crap.

          I hear this argument all the time - and to this I say - if it's crap, why do you want to illegally download it? Just don't watch it. Hollywood produces greatness and crap, yes, but this is true of any business, any artistic medium.

          Hollywood is not some monolithic, single entity. There are many producers, good and bad, many of whom have never met each other, strongly disagree with each other and have zero control over anything but what they themselves produce. Why should one producer be punished for what some other producer did, without his or her consent or even knowledge?

          Most Parisian poets produce crap, but some are brilliant ones. Same principle. Should we slam down the good Parisian poets because others, whom they might not even know about, are producing bad work in the same city?

          None of this justifies stealing. The next step in this kind of reasoning is that if you go to a mediocre restaurant, it's OK to run off without paying. Besides who are you to judge what is crap. Hollywood tries to make products that people will like and sometimes they fail. Again, like any business. Some people might like what you don't like, it's their business. You are not the taste police. If nobody likes something and box office is zero for that reason, the INDIVIDUAL producers responsible will likely have a hard time raising money next time. Fair enough. But if box office is zero because millions of people stole their work, I can't see how that's fair.

          What you're essentially saying is that until no working member of Hollywood any longer produces any films you personally dislike, you feel it's OK to steal from all working members of Hollywood. You will only feel they deserve to be treated like any business must be treated for our economy to continue (i.e. protected by law from fraud and theft) only if no single member ever makes any mistakes. Does any business currently meet your stringent criteria?
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        Jan 26 2012: "Amateur youtube filmmakers produce almost 100% crap."

        Yes, and they aren't charging me $14 to watch it.

        "What you're essentially saying is that until no working member of Hollywood any longer produces any films you personally dislike, you feel it's OK to steal from all working members of Hollywood."

        Apparently, I can't even blame this piss-poor syllogism on the American education system.

        I don't even know what bizarre premises you used to come up with this outcome.

        I said, "People are willing to pay for entertainment," and gave an example of a $2billion+ generating film.

        I then said that losses Hollywood experiences are the direct result of producing crap and not things that people want to watch - because CLEARLY people are willing to pay to watch things, probably more than once.

        And then you thought [something] that apparently when combined with what I said leads to my unwillingness to pay for films (despite paying to go to the cinema almost weekly, and being a PAID member of TIFF) negated everything that was said and resulted in:

        "What you're essentially saying is that until no working member of Hollywood any longer produces any films you personally dislike, you feel it's OK to steal from all working members of Hollywood."


        Are the Underpants Gnomes now helping people with logic and not just business theory?
        • Jan 27 2012: No, I've had a fine education courtesy of France and Quebec. No Americans to blame here. :-)

          Sorry if I misunderstood you - and I never meant to claim that YOU personally were stealing content, only that you were giving such stealing by others a moral pass. "People are willing to pay for entertainment" could imply it's Ok for people to not pay for what is less entertaining - which led to my restaurant analogy. But I think I misunderstood what you meant to say.

          Avatar is exactly the kind of film that can survive despite piracy. Not because it's good, but because it is based on a huge visual spectacle that is not well replicated via an over-compressed, lowish resolution illegal download viewed on a 2D computer screen. What is in danger are films like Down The Rabbit Hole, who's main value is plot, and which CAN be quite well enjoyed via a torrent. What is happening now, due to piracy, is that Hollywood is producing fewer films, and almost no films like Down The Rabbit Hole. How could Hollywood (or any film producer, anywhere) do this? Where would the money come from when piracy has replaced so much of what used to be a home video market that was a huge percentage of how films like that could break even in the past, let alone make a profit?

          Piracy free home video used to allow all kinds of really cool and weird stuff to get made, because home video allowed a soft cushion for failed experiments. Now there is no room for failure, and so producers have become much more conservative.

          This narrowing of the scope of films made has the exact same net result as severe censorship. Hollywood doesn't have government grants (and government money seem to lead to cronyism and other forms of censorship, as easily observed in Canada, where most of the government money mostly goes to the same 5 or 6 boomers the government officials went to school with, regardless of consistently abysmal box office track records).
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          Jan 28 2012: LOL! The underpants Gnomes might have done a better job than the apologists for obsolete business models!
          No one is saying that artists do not deserve their funding - only how it is delivered to them - and what are the destructive side-effects of persisting with an outmoded model.
          THere is a way forward, draconian restrictions will close the door to our forward development. Hollywood is swarming with creative people - they will find the way - with or without protective legislation - they are the real underpants gnomes - stage 2 always turns up if you're creative enough!
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          Feb 9 2012: Thank you Robert & Gisela & everyone for participating so much in this discussion!

          I will continue to follow and hopefully write a few more comments, but overall I have found much of the discussion here quite thought provoking, TYVM!

          I wanted to say just a few things that I am currently 23, and growing up I had computers everywhere. My father worked for HP and my mother taught computer courses. I was completely, and remain completely, enveloped by the digital world. I got my first job and used my first paycheck to buy the first iPod. I have bought maybe 10 CDs and possibly 20 DVDs total in my life (One of them being "What the Bleep" btw). But on the other hand I've been to countless concerts. I've seen 311 live more than 11 times now. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of movies in the cinema.

          This debate to me is not about the qualities of movies or music or about legitimacy of artists. It is about realistically, and fairly, discussing a system of commerce that has exploded over the past decade (eCommerce) and has demonstrated that when you buy a TV or a Stereo off of Amazon, you are receiving an inherently different product than when you buy a song or download a movie. It is important to me that we as a global society come up with solutions that involve everyone and empowers those who truly add to the culture and interests of the people and to not allow the reformation of these industries become subverted by the wealthy and already powerful. There is a global shift, as demonstrated by these media wars, and the people in power are scared. They are scared they are going to lose their grip on everything they have accumulated and because they are scared, they will use whatever tactics they can to maintain their control. Rupert Murdoch spoke up for SOPA. The same Murdoch implicated in hacking and bribing police for decades! He and many like him stand to lose a lot, but that only means we need to be even more ardent making sure the game isn't rigged. xD
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        Jan 27 2012: Pulp paper and dime novels killed serialized stories in newspapers.

        Television effectively killed radio plays.

        A new medium will often kill something about the old, and the old needs to find a new role in something it does uniquely.

        The old medium can rail against the gods all it likes, but it will eventually lose out and need to change. Hollywood was already taking fewer and fewer risks even before the advent of the Internet. Whether TV or movies, you have seen for a while one person will take a gamble, then the rest jump on the bandwagon.

        They don't want to do what the medium does well.
        • Jan 27 2012: I have no problem with the examples you state. Video games are also a new medium that has eroded youth audiences from film and TV, as has time spent on Facebook. No problem, cool.

          But Internet piracy is not a new medium - it offers no new ways for creative people to express themselves that would not exist without it. Pirate Bay and torrents are only a delivery method of old media forms, based on theft, that actually make it harder for people to get creative projects off the ground, because it steals so much of their potential revenue from them.

          People say Hollywood doesn't pay enough to creators, but Pirate Bay and their ilk pay nothing at all, while making millions and millions on advertising - Pirate Bay has even worse terms than organized crime with its product suppliers. You can't go any lower than $0.

          Pirate Bay and Megaupload have never created a single thing, have never helped any artists, never taken any risk on art at all, big or small. You can rally against what Hollywood produces all you want, but whatever they produce, it is something, and creates some opportunity for people to make a living and learn, compared to pirate sites' nothing.

          Hollywood was not taking any fewer risks before the advent of piracy. Hollywood was churning out a mix of low and high risk, low and high prestige projects. Until piracy almost eliminated the possibility of anything but visual spectacle blockbusters, that same mix held true for decades, even though people tend to recall past decades with rose colored glasses because The Godfather endures, whereas Towering Inferno 3, made at the same time, is forgotten, while current day stinkers are still in our faces.

          Still troubling, and not answered by you or anyone here, is the underlying notion that its OK for society to suddenly declare some area of business activity to longer be deserving of protection by the rule of law. I wonder what business will next be declared unfit for protection from theft. Cars? Beer?
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        Jan 27 2012: My contention is that the producers are blaming the wrong thing.

        The claim that internet piracy has replaced a willingness to pay is patently untrue. Everything is clearly NOT being usurped by pirates. (Yarrrr!)

        We've seen that people will pay for content (and not just porn) online.
        We've seen that people will pay for content in the theatres.

        So why people intent on creating crap and then blaming the inability to profit from it to online piracy?

        If I worked in the industry, I think I would want to work with people who created projects that actually had a future and understand how to create things in the new climate.

        If someone cannot get a project off the ground because there isn't a paying audience for it, then it's the wrong project -- or the wrong delivery system. My little secret is that I order Bollywood movies online all the time. The service I use doesn't require that I install a rootkit on my computer to watch them, and it doesn't charge me an exorbitant amount to watch them (especially older movies). It doesn't tell me that I can't view it because I am in Canada and not in the US or somewhere else. It gives me the option to watch it for 48 hours or pay a little more to buy it and play it as often as I want -- no strings attached.

        This is not how Hollywood works. Hollywood doesn't get it. Hollywood doesn't even want to get it.

        Joss Whedon got it -- and he also got the whole "make the money from the merchandise" -- which is still tangible, and shipped, and paid for willingly because it is collectible. (Hollywood didn't even understand the whole merchandising thing until George Lucas showed them just how profitable it could be.)

        Trying to cripple the Internet in order to prevent the world from moving on without them really doesn't elicit any sympathy from me.
        • Jan 27 2012: Well actually, dozens of consumer surveys prove you wrong. Many consumers have replaced legal renting and purchasing with piracy. Actual numbers are probably higher than those who admit it, but basing ourselves on the results of many, many independent questionnaires piracy costs film producers (not just Hollywood, any film producers) roughly 50% of the revenue they used to have. Software, publishing, all are hurt by this. To think that film, books, software and many other industries do not lose revenue to piracy is ludicrous.

          People pay at the theaters for grand visual spectacle. Mostly gone forever are the many genres that depended on home video to be economically viable (like adult sophisticated thrillers, or more urbane romantic comedies) because they are more quiet and intimate, less optimized for a grand night out. Hollywood HAS adapted, but the only solution was to narrow production

          Not all movies lend themselves to merchandising easily the way Star Wars does. What Schindler's List merchandise would you suggest? In fact, very few movies would credibly lend themselves to that kind of merchandising. Besides, people eventually run out of room for merchandise.

          Also, the minute you bring in tie-ins for toy companies, you have the marketing executives from those companies having a big say on the script i.e. serious censorship. There is nothing more free than for pay content - this is why HBO can be so much more daring than network TV - because there are no sponsors to worry about upsetting.

          The service you use to watch Bollywood movies is identical to what is offered on Playstation, XBox and iTunes. It costs about $6 to rent a movie for 48 hrs via download. No one has any problem with that. Hollywood has actually embraced these services - virtually all current and past studio films are available there - I'm not sure what it is you feel they don't get.As for rootkits, Sony Music (not the film division) had one once, many years ago. No one else.
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        Jan 28 2012: "Many consumers have replaced legal renting and purchasing with piracy."

        So maybe the rental market is dead. That may indeed be the way of the world from this point on.

        If people aren't making these films, there's nothing for pirates to steal, is there? Either people will miss them and figure out a way to finance them in advance, or they won't.

        "The service you use to watch Bollywood movies is identical to what is offered on Playstation, XBox and iTunes. It costs about $6 to rent a movie for 48 hrs via download."

        Can't say I have checked out what is available on these other services as a) I don't trust them not to install unwanted crap on my computer, and b) I actually go to the movies.

        Sounds to me like they've got an answer, then, to their problem that doesn't involve breaking the Internet.
        • Jan 28 2012: I'm sorry but you are showing a typical disconnect between academics and the real world. It's fine to not know something, but academic don't let that stop them from developing theories about it.You cannot install something on your computer via an Xbox or PS3, it is a standalone device only used for playing games/movies/TV shows. iTunes does not install any malware on your computer, and besides any Mac comes with iTunes pre-installed. Any fear sin this regard are yet more propaganda form companies who profit off stealing other people's hard work.

          All these legit services would make their due money if they were not competing with free. The problem is not that no one LIKES certain kinds of films, it's that they do not PAY for that content, because it is so easy to steal. I don;t feel it is OK for films, from now on, to ONLY be things like Avatar and Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think that's sad.

          Also almost bankrupt are many types of software. technology would advance much faster if theft were not such a huge issue, and legal copies would cost a lot less.

          It is also pure fiction to say that anti-piracy rules would "break the internet". This is propaganda created by huge corporations, much larger than any film studio, such as google and Internet service providers, who make a lot of money off piracy.
        • Feb 15 2012: "It is also pure fiction to say that anti-piracy rules would "break the internet". This is propaganda created by huge corporations, much larger than any film studio, such as google and Internet service providers, who make a lot of money off piracy."

          Really? I do not have the time nor the legal skills to verify this, so I ask someone else to confirm what I have heard. If what I have heard is correct, it would be possible to:

          1) DNS servers in the US would be forced to block an entire domain upon any notification from an alleged IP owner. That would have to be done immediately, before any approval from a higher authority or prior investigation. This way, a troll could post a link to thepiratebay right here in this comments section and notify ISP to block both TED's domain and Google's domain (as Google links to TED, which would link to thepiratebay). After weeks of investigation, even if these organizations were forgiven, and the troll severely punished, they would still have gone "offline" long enough to get seriously hurt.

          2) Another way to break things down would be to claim that any cryptographic software is a tool for supporting piracy, as these tools would make it harder for ISP to open internet packets and verify their legitimacy (yes, they would be forced to do that because of these laws). If this claim passed, it would be forbidden to encrypt your credit card and password data, so either you send these sensitive data in plain text or you would stop using all services that depended on some cryptography (that includes email, online shopping and all wireless communications).

          If these situations were to become possible with the proposed laws, I'd have very serious and very well grounded concerns about the future of the internet.
        • Feb 15 2012: "You cannot install something on your computer via an Xbox or PS3, it is a standalone device only used for playing games/movies/TV shows. iTunes does not install any malware on your computer, and besides any Mac comes with iTunes pre-installed. Any fear sin this regard are yet more propaganda form companies who profit off stealing other people's hard work."

          Malware would not have to be "installed", they would come bundled with your hardware or software. It is not (yet) allowed even in these new anti-piracy laws, but we are not too far from that. Video game consoles ARE general purpose computers, and therefore cannot be made in a way to prevent copying of very specific yet dynamic list of contents. Unless...

          Unless they came bundled with a piece of software running in the background out of your reach (or control) as a user, sending information about everything you do or don't in that specific piece of hardware. Oh wait, isn't that what malwares do? The difference would be that this kind of malware would be "installed" by law, so you cannot simply choose to disable it (that would be illegal).

          "Also almost bankrupt are many types of software. technology would advance much faster if theft were not such a huge issue, and legal copies would cost a lot less."

          Yes, yet software development is still thriving, more than most other businesses. Especially open source software (in fact, I think much of the anti-copyright movement depends on it, although they absolutely do not endorse stealing IP). Good programmers do not starve, especially if they participate in an open source project, because they either get a good job more easily (by becoming more visible), or they find another way of monetizing using their software and skills.

          Only the old software companies that depend on selling their "product" are really dying. The companies selling their "services" are thriving. And faster than any other business.
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        Jan 28 2012: I should also point out that the screening I attended of Wender's Pina was packed.

        Again, there's an audience for what works uniquely in the cinema, on the large screen, possibly in cases where something is more enjoyable en masse (seriously people could just play the DVD of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and yet they go to be with each other).

        If what you are producing is effectively competing with some guy on YouTube (and there are some fine pieces on there if you know where to look) then you need to up your game or go home.
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        Jan 29 2012: Ah but iTunes IS on the computer (not mine), not a standalone machine, and that is what I was speaking about. The other two are somewhat irrelevant to me as I tend to game on my PC (though I work in *nix environments, I have a PC locally so that I can game - or at least that used to be the theory as I haven`t had any time of late).

        "iTunes does not install any malware on your computer, and besides any Mac comes with iTunes pre-installed. Any fear sin this regard are yet more propaganda form companies who profit off stealing other people's hard work."

        Arguably, iTunes IS malware. I don't use it because I do not believe in their proprietary file format and their DRM. It's not on my computer and it never will be. And yes, I know I can convert to mp3 using other apps + lame, but I have long since decided Apple will never get a cent of my money (the last straw having been the BeOS fiasco, so that should tell you how long I have been holding that grudge).

        But then, I also go to the movies. I see that my taste in films usually means that my companion and I are two of an audience of maybe a dozen much of the time. Herzog's film, von Trier, and Wenders being the exceptions of late.

        And yes, it would be sad to not be able to see some of the pieces we select, but we also realize that such small audiences really can't be sustainable. If people don't want to pay for these films, then there is effectively no market. Period. Doesn't matter if they would be willing to download for free, they won't pay.

        And you can't tell me that "breaking the Internet: is only a myth of Wikipedia and Google -- I don't know if you weren't paying attention, but Pakistan took down Youtube globally using the technique that was grudgingly removed from the legislation last month. It's pretty clear the people drafting these bills don't understand the Internet, and now they want to penalize the wrong people.
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    Jan 20 2012: If anything we should limit copyright material to stop having value after a set period of time or to not be considered copyright if it falls under a certain length (20 second duration of video clip, for example) or type of use.
    A number of times I've had full youtube videos removed because they happened to contain 5-10 second scenes of an old niche television show that is
    1) Not being made any longer.
    2) Not being televised.
    3) Not being sold first-hand in any immediately known/ observably relevant retail store.
    4) Not being presented on the companies own youtube channel or website.
    Something can be said very similar for older movies that have already been televised on public access television half a dozen times over several years, yet using a part of it is 'copyright' .

    It's almost absurd as the example used in the recent TED video where it was copyright infringement for a CHILD to DRAW mickey mouse for his own PERSONAL birthday cake.
    Its this type of nonsensical restriction that makes people give up on even attempting to follow it.


    Whats more interesting is that (I believe it was viacom) recently attempted to sue Youtube for copyright infringement, but it was infact viacom that was uploading the video clips in the first place because (Drum roll, please) it generated additional interest in the shows itself.
    • Jan 22 2012: Some applications of the law are indeed ludicrous, but that doesn't mean the law is bad.

      Are you so lacking in creativity all you can make is a collage? What is stopping you from making your own work, without using other people's. Why not make a video from scratch?
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        Jan 22 2012: Would you penalize Brahms for Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn?

        Yesterday I saw the pastiche The Enchanted Island by the Met Opera. It took different Baroque pieces and created a re-imagining of Shakespeare's characters from 2 plays, becoming an entirely new work.

        It's not just about "collages".
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          Jan 25 2012: There's a new field that allows the use of other protected works under certain limitations that Xavier is pointing out - Creative Commons.

          There is no fee for registering works and there's quite large number of open works to use (plus they assist with clearing licenses, etc.). It's a great attempt at protecting copyrights in a post internet world that still allows for personal use, inovation, etc: http://creativecommons.org/about