Copyright Fearmongers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ8TzCv1dfs&t=1h20m30s

Lock your doors AND windows as there are thieves about. The above video comes courtesy of B&H Photo, whom I have done business with personally, and have recommended purchases at UMW. The photo and video “superstore” has for the most part provided very informative presentations. There are a ton of great videos on their YouTube Channel.

Now I’ve seen many presentations on copyright both in person and online. I was intrigued by the description of The Copyright Zone Guys because they were supposedly funny and had a “light touch”, and they would also “rock [my] world”. I’ll spare you much of the theatrics of this video, but the bit that is particularly laughable starts at the 1:20:30 mark. It manifests itself in their myth busting section and is in regards to Creative Commons. I never realized it but CC is apparently a dangerously evil syndicate that “pisses off” the presenter (Jack Reznicki) because photographers defend them. Their licenses are confusing, and deliberately so, according to Mr. Reznicki.

He then goes on to recommend an article written by Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal (from 2009)entitled “Copyright Critics Rationalize Theft“. As Helprin writes about “public interest groups” check out this key bit:

The Creative Commons organization, for example, is richly financed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Mozilla, Sun, the Hewlett Foundation, and others of type [sic].

Public interest groups like Creative Commons:

serve the new information super powers, the Standard Oils of our age, whose interests would be advanced if they did not have to bother with permissions and payments for what they call “content.”

The rest of the information in this presentation is in many cases equally laughable. I’ll let you judge for yourself whether much about this presentation is enjoyable, including Mr. Reznicki’s sidekick.

Look, I get when you are self-employed as a photographer, you want to protect any possible income. However, conjuring up consipracy theories regarding a supplement to copyright like Creative Commons is pure non-sense. The presentation bills itself as “Everything you want to know about Copyright and other legal issues, but were too scared to ask.” I’d be surprised that anyone watching this (and believing it) wouldn’t also be very likely to invest in a home security system and a car alarm. It’s not information. It’s scary. And they get paid.

So in an effort to be constructive, I would be happy if the Copyright Zone Guys would contact me, and I’d be happy to explain Creative Commons and their licenses. I know they want to get it right. Right?

Kirby’s Remixes are Everything!

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

If you’ve been living under a new media rock, then you might not have heard of Kirby Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix” series. If you have been fortunate enough to watch it, you’ve been treated to some very well researched videos that explore the notion that in modern times there is no more original thought. Everyone is just copying, or worse yet stealing, previous works. Ferguson doesn’t dispute that fact. He just simply points out that it has been going on for centuries.

His latest video is another myth-buster. Specifically the mythology of invention. Ferguson points out that copying is one of the key elements of creativity. We so insularize the modern day inventions and inventors in our history that we don’t realize the ideas that were duplicated from previous, less well know creators that enabled the breakthroughs. The common theme is that we remember the mass marketers of an invention, and not the true inventor(s) who were copied from. As musician Damon Albarn once said “the whole thing about pop music is that you’re ripping off as many people as you possibly can, and the trick is to listen to the right people”.

Through parts 1, 2 and now 3, Ferguson hammers home the point that copying is what has advanced our society in every facet. However, it is no less work to copy previous works, and it is the tedious tinkering that has produced the breakthroughs, improvements, and radical changes in our lives. Now go watch these three videos if you haven’t already – and then have at those remixes.

Hat tip to the inimitable timmmmboy for scooping me on the latest video. I had been waiting for it, but he beat me to the punch.

Scientists: The Ultimate Remixers

Here’s a great argument for implementing Creative Commons in the sciences. This video, directed by Jesse Dylan, explains that those information silos that we speak of exist in spades for scientists. Of course, the best line of the video is that “scientists are the ultimate remixers” – cool since I consider myself a scientist at heart.

The Science Commons has been around for a while, however, this video has the potential to go viral, at least for the scientific community. Another video on the Science Commons site further explains the ramifications of the Scholars Copyright Project.

Finally, to nicely wrap up the issue, this article from February 2005 in Scientific American properly frames why Science Commons, and Creative Commons more generally, is needed in the first place.

Students, we’d like to prepare you for the digital world . . .

  . . . but it would violate copyright – paraphrased from comments by Elizabeth on this post – Inside Higher Ed :: When It’s OK to Copy . So obviously we need to amend the copyright law, but before that happens, we need to sort out "fair use". The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is advocating for disambiguation of fair use in the copyright law, and working to define policies for using visual and aural materials in scholarly endeavors. More power to them and I’m glad to have discovered their site.

And now for a brilliant and hysterical review of fair use, I present "A Fair(y) Use Tale".

Lessig’s New Direction

Lessig Blog

Some interesting news was brought to my attention this morning, via Wes Fryer, that Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig will be shifting his focus from academic work, to what he calls the “corruption” of the political process. He states that “our government can’t understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding.” It became clear to me that this was no 180 degree turn for Lessig, but in fact directly related to his work on copyright and IP issues. He sees the constant renewal of certain copyright holdings (can you say Mickey Mouse?) as, to put it bluntly, idiocy.

Lessig’s post about his reason’s for tackling these issues is a must read. He emphasizes that corruption is in quotes when he talks about the political process. However, he is serious in changing the influence money has on the workings of congress.

“And so an economy of influence bends public policy away from sense, always to dollars.”

He also states that we should be aware of the “corruption of professions”, implying that it perpetuates our political corruption. He is tired of “whining” about it and will work for the next ten years in this new direction. He says he realistically feels that the problem will still be there at the end of ten years’ time, but he will at least make an attempt.

He is also offering up his considerable volume of writings to ccMixter, the Creative Commons sponsored site that makes remixes completely legal. This is all a fascinating development from one of the great minds in academia, and the optimist in me thinks he might well suceed.

More Lessig Presentations

Lawrence Lessig is doing some great online presentations (again) with a whole series of Internet Policy “videos”. The first presentation, featured above, talks about a little-known subject regarding copyright called “Orphan Works”. Lessig’s presentations are always informative, and the presentation style is highly engaging. I look forward to this whole series dealing with subjects like, Remix Culture, Network Neutrality, Spam, Material Harmful to Minors, and Deregulating Spectrum (which is already posted).