Not in my name

Ian says > What exactly is wrong with current copyright legislation? It simply means that you need to ask the copyright owner for permission to use their IP whether or not a fee is involved. Why is that bad? … hey..don’t you people have to work at weekends??

Very funny. Well, here are some Sunday thoughts … You could say that in this dog eat dog world, everyone must try and earn a living as best as they can. End of story.

But I hope we’d want to do better than that, especially in a world where there is such opportunity for a rich and transformative intellectual commons, thanks to the internet. Given these opportunities, copyright legislation as  currently applied gives too many rights to rights holders who have little respect for that commons and for creativity and innovation for the future – including probably your own!

You will say that you just want to make a living and earn your due – very reasonable – but the problem is what is systematically done in your name – not just the inexorable prolongation of the copyright term, but the technological locks that are put on ideas that should belong to everybody without even a debate about ‘fair use’ in the courts – let alone a democratic debate which includes users alongside everyone else who has an interest in this important matter – the future of ideas.  I refer you to Unbounded Freedom for more detail on this encroaching process.

On Friday, at the launch, which took place as part of the London Book Fair – half the audience were from or closely allied to the publishing industry. It was very interesting. However, to listen to many of them speak, their entire lives were devoted solely to the well-being of authors. But as a scientist in the audience suggested – it may be worth distinguishing between the interests of the authors and the people they hand their rights to…

You seem convinced that your interest lies with those who are extending the notion of ‘intellectual property’ as straightforward property in this way, and going around criminalising kids who download and share their favourite music with friends – ‘suing [the music business’s] future’ as the head of a successful recording and management company recently put it. It’s surely worth thinking twice about that. Even if your employers have nothing to do with these decisions – the decisions being taken in the name of copyright legislation are not helping to create a culture in which people respect property rights – and that is bound to impact on you.

Then there is Scott’s point:

Scott said > It seems that the current system isn’t so great for distributing the spoils either. A few people make millions and most make nothing. And then there is the small segment that makes a living…

So – where does your interest lie?

Rosemary

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27 Comments on “Not in my name”

  1. Bob Croxford Says:

    >

    Dear Rosemary

    Can you please explain why my creative endeavours should belong to everybody? Does your house belong to everybody? Can I have my brick’s worth?

    Your arguments would hold more weight if you started with institutionalised movement of property and didn’t pick on the weak creators. How about redistributing all the de-nationised industries back to the people every 14 years?

    The big problem with Lessing and his Lemmings is that you have no idea about the real effort required to work in the creative industries. Your whole argument depends on pointing the finger at a few big multinationals like Disney and don’t care twopence for the thousands of little people in the creative industry.

    Bob Croxford

  2. Bob Croxford Says:

    From the British Council website.

    HOW WE ARE FUNDED
We receive a core grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Department, which in 2005/06 amounts to £186.2m. We also earn income from teaching English, conducting British examinations overseas, and managing development and training contracts, expected to amount to £164m in 2005/06. Our overall turnover in 2005/06 is likely to be approximately £497m.

    Just as a matter of interest this is where the UK taxpayers money goes to encourage the undermining of the rights and protections of UK creators of IP.

    Seems like a letter of complaint to my MP is in order. No need to post it, I’ll give it to him when we meet next week.

    Bob Croxford

  3. Rosemary Bechler Says:

    Actually I do care – but it doesn’t really matter whether I care – what matters – as Andrew
    Orlowski said ( with a few qualifications added by me) is ‘how will creators and the industries ( not necessarily always the same thing – RB) be paid in the digital age?’ – I would add – in a way which promotes and preserves access, creativity and innovation…?


  4. My house belongs to me and not to you because your use of it would deprive me of my use of it. If you use your computer to make a copy of my intellectual “property”, it does not deprive me of my use of those bits. Physical property and the results of intellectual work are not the same thing and should not be treated the same.

    Please don’t lump me in with the people who simply don’t want to pay their music and movies. I do want people to profit from their work. I’m happy to pay Pixar (unfortunately now a part of Disney) $10-20 for a copy of “Cars.” But once I have that copy, I want to make as many copies of it for backing up or use on any device I own now or in the future, and you can be sure that Disney/Pixar doesn’t want me to have this freedom. Same goes for work by smaller producers.

    I just think the ways of compensation are going to have to change, whether in desirable or less desirable ways for the current producers. This is because we can’t prevent people from doing this copying without harsh control mechanisms that will take away our personal freedoms.

    I understand that people are angry at the threat to their current livelihoods, but my thinking is that change is coming and it’s no use holding on to ways that are not as well suited to a digital world and will not continue to work no matter how much we may want them to. Better if we try figuring out what *will* work.

    Again, I don’t want to take what doesn’t belong to me, but I don’t want intrusive monitoring and control systems built in to the culture that I consume. Culture is shared and comes from all of us. The work of the writer draws on this common culture — if we try establishing the provenance of every cultural element, it will be increasingly difficult to produce new work without infringing on the work of others. If you are a photographer, would you be limited to only taking picture of public land and buildings?

    I think the people who are interested in Creative Commons (and they’re not just academics and uncreative people, as you suggest) recognize that the new technologies we have at our command are opening up so many new opportunities for creativity and producing culture, and want to make it clear what can be freely used for building even more work. It’s not just about ripping people off. It’s not just people who don’t have ideas of their own. None of us has anything completely original. I’ll go to Disney again although I know you’re talking about individuals also. Disney has pulled a lot of work out of the public domain and profited greatly from it. Should they now be allowed to lock it up forever? Well, that’s what they’re trying to do. The copyright extensions are just a small taste of what’s to come. As technology allows more and more control, the big interests are going to seek it, and very likely be able to buy it from politicians. We’ll all be poorer for it.

    Times change. I think “free” culture will continue to grow and be very good, despite people who think that only losers will release their work fore free. New ways of making money will develop. I want to make sure we live in a world that allows this free stream to prosper.

    But I’m rambling. For some thoughtful commentary, take a look at The Promise of Post-Copyright World by Karl Fogel. He gets in to the historical context of copyright and why it may not be as suitable for our current situation.

  5. Ian Murray Says:

    So – where does your interest lie?

    My interest lies in controlling who uses my images. That is why 100% of my photos are Rights Managed. I do not offer my images as Royalty Free. Scott and Rosemary you are very happy to make decisions about other people’s property. Neither of you have explained what I have to gain from giving up any control of my copyright. If I want to make pictures available for school students to use that is my decision and I don’t need Creative Commons to do so. If I wish to allow charities to use my images for free again that is my decision.

    Essentially you people would like to take these rights away from me and that is why i oppose your movement and simplistic ideology. If you want to share your words or images then feel free to do so.

  6. Stephen Oliver Says:

    There may be people who want to write a book and have lots of people read it and feel that is reward enough. (goverment funding aside) Fine, go ahead! There may be others who feel that in order to justfy spending 2 years of their life writing a book they would like to be able to pay the bills. Their ability to control copyright gives them the ability to keep on writing independently as long as enough people would rather read a paid-for book than the countless millions of new words given away free everyday on the web.

    Is that not reasonable? You are free to give away your own work but not free to steal another’s.

  7. drew Roberts Says:

    “Ian Murray Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Essentially you people would like to take these rights away from me and that is why i oppose your movement and simplistic ideology. If you want to share your words or images then feel free to do so.”

    Ian, where do you et this idea that this is what CC wants? (I am not in any way officially connected sith CC.)

    My take is that they ware trying to make it easy for those of us that want to ease up on some of our rights to do so in a clear and systematic way.

    You seem to think it is fine for me to do this with my words and images and that is what I am doing. Good.

    What sort of force has been threatened upon you trying to get you to do the same with your works?

    all the best,

    drew

  8. drew Roberts Says:

    “Stephen Oliver Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Is that not reasonable? You are free to give away your own work but not free to steal another’s.”

    Sure, except we are not talking theft but copyright infringement unless you envision the person stealing your works somehow ending up in posession of your copyrights at the end of the process.

    Now, I prefer CC BY-SA, this lets those of us that use this license make use of each other’s works. This is sort of an agreement we are making with each other up front when we put our works under this license.

    Is the real fear that enough of these “free” works will end up being made such that those unwilling to make “free” works will find no customers?

    I don’t think this will happen, but I do think some fear it.

    all the best,

    drew

  9. Bob Croxford Says:

    You wrote:- Is the real fear that enough of these “free” works will end up being made such that those unwilling to make “free” works will find no customers?

    No. The real fear is that you will convince anyone else that ‘culture’ in the widest sense will be improved by this. That you will convince the gullible Lemmings of Lessig that his ideas hold any kind of valid contibution to creative culture other than the art of ‘cut and paste’ from other works to create so called ‘Derivative Works’, which in a more honest age was called Plagiarism.

    There are lots of books created by ‘Vanity Publishers’. Just how many of them do you read for pleasure? Would you really foreswear reading any commercially produced books or films for the rest of your life?

    Bob

  10. drew Roberts Says:

    “Bob Croxford Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    No. The real fear is that you will convince anyone else that ‘culture’ in the widest sense will be improved by this.”

    Huh, why fear that?

    “That you will convince the gullible Lemmings of Lessig that his ideas hold any kind of valid contibution to creative culture other than the art of ‘cut and paste’ from other works to create so called ‘Derivative Works’”

    You know, the ad hominum attacks make your case less attractive. Just because someone sees it different that you do does not make them “Lemmings.”

    See, I come to this “Free Culture” thing from the Free Software world. And let me tell you, I have been pretty much Free Software all the way for a good long while now and I am very happy with that and would not ever want to go back.

    If the Free Culture players attain anywhere near that sort of success I just may forgo reading any non-Free books or watching any non-Free films for the rest of my life. I would not mind if they were commercially produced. I am happy to pay for Free, in money or in kind.

    all the best,

    drew


  11. Ian said:

    My interest lies in controlling who uses my images. That is why 100% of my photos are Rights Managed. I do not offer my images as Royalty Free. Scott and Rosemary you are very happy to make decisions about other people’s property. Neither of you have explained what I have to gain from giving up any control of my copyright. If I want to make pictures available for school students to use that is my decision and I don’t need Creative Commons to do so. If I wish to allow charities to use my images for free again that is my decision.

    Essentially you people would like to take these rights away from me and that is why i oppose your movement and simplistic ideology. If you want to share your words or images then feel free to do so.

    I don’t know that I said I want to control how you use your property. I think we differ on the definition of property. I don’t want to force you to give your work away for free. I just think that in this digital age, people *will* be able to copy it, no matter what system of control we may attempt to deploy to prevent this. I’m concerned about short term damage from these systems of control.

    So yes, you do what you want to do, and I’ll do what I want to do. That won’t include infringing on your copyright. I’m concerned about the proper use of copyrighted material which is one of the simplistic reasons I like the CC license — it makes it clear what is ok to use, without the cumbersome need to track down approval for everything I use. You may be concerned that us simplistic free culture people will take away your right to sell your work how you see fit. I’m concerned that your attempts to control your work will take away my freedom to pursue other avenues of cultural production.

    Do you believe that copyright is an inherent god-given right? I don’t. It came about from laws and new laws may say differently. The initial motivation for those laws was largely to do with the desire for censorship by the British government, and not for a desire for people to benefit from their work.

    If you are a photographer, do you only take pictures of public property? Do you clear the use of any private property or trademarks that appear in your photographs, much like the movie industry tries to do with items that appear in movies? Do you collect signed waivers from every private person that happens to appear in your work? Does Coca-Cola have to give you the all clear so that a can of Coke can appear in your photographs?

    Let’s go further out. What if you tell me about a great idea you have? If it were possible, should it be ok for you to prevent me from acting on that idea in any way?

  12. idmurray Says:

    Drew,
    You don’t explain how you make your living. But I’m guessing that you are an image user – web design maybe? Imagery to you is a raw material. If you can get what you need for free then I can understand your enthusiasm for any movement that provides what you require. But try seeing this campaign to erode copyright from the viewpoint of a freelance photographer and the prospect looks rather different! Whatever line of business you are in can I hire you to do some work for me? I’d like a well designed web site or computer support. I’m sure I’ll find a use for your talents…as long as you come free.

    Look up Lessig’s books on Amazon – you have to pay for them. Hire him as a lawyer – $250 an hour is his ‘low’ rate, then of course he has his professor’s salary. Flickr appears to be the main platform for photos under Creative Commons licences. It is owned by Yahoo who paid millions for it. Subscribers ( who then get the label ‘pro’ next to their names) pay for the privelege of having their images hosted there. In effect they are paying for the dubious privelege of destroying the value of their intellectual property.

    Drew, try to think beyond this surface gloss of a caring, sharing world and think about who really benefits and who really loses in Creative Commons. Little people lose, big business gains.

    Ian Murray

  13. idmurray Says:

    Scott said:

    “I’m concerned that your attempts to control your work will take away my freedom to pursue other avenues of cultural production.”

    What gives you this right to consider other people’s work anything to do with you at all? What culural production are you on about? If you want to use pictures ask the copyright owner or read their terms and conditions as posted on their website. It really is not that cumbersome just simple etiquette. You might need to pat a fee. Other people apart from you need to make a living.

    What work do you do? Do you do it for free?

    Ian Murray

  14. drew Roberts Says:

    Ian,

    I make my living all over the place. A little here and a little there. I don’t have any photos up on Flickr. But I think it would be beside the point if I did.

    Lessig is not at the top of my list. I think CC actually hurts Free Culture by mixing non-Free and Free licenses under the same banner. Still Their BY-SA license is the best I have found so far for what I want to do with my creations and so I use it.

    I don’t see in CC any campaign to erode copyright. In fact, it actually depends on copyright. That said, I don’t see how it would effect your charging others for taking photos for them.

    The only thing I can see you fearing is that eventually the “pool” of Free photos available to the world will be big enough to meet the needs of many who would ordinarily have to purchase rights to someone else’s photos. That would be fine by me. However, if most of the photos in the pool were BY-SA there are a hugh number of users who would buy a license instead as they would not want their work to be BY-SA.

    Personally, when it comes to the copyright game as I see it being played before copyleft, I think the big players win big time there in any case.

    So, get paid for your work, by all means. Rent your creations in the future if you can and will.

    all the best,

    drew

  15. drew Roberts Says:

    A question…

    Do any of the people here who are against CC use any Free Software.

    I mean Libre Software if it happens to be gratis or non-gratis I don’t care.

    all the best,

    drew

  16. idmurray Says:

    A question…

    Do any of the people here who are against CC use any Free Software.

    I mean Libre Software if it happens to be gratis or non-gratis I don’t care.

    all the best,

    drew

    drew,

    Free software?

    I’m using Raw Shooter Essentials – they’ve sold out to Adobe so guess that offering it for free worked for them as they got a big payout. I’m sure Adobe won’t be offering it for free once Lightroom is developed. Not sure of the point of your question. Is it to suggest hypocrisy? I don’t knowingly have anything else but could be wrong.

    A question in return. How many computer experts producing free software do so from the position of a salaried job in university or industry?

    Ian Murray


  17. This is a rather scattershot debate. At least, my comments are rambling. I should try limiting them to more focused areas, but a few more thoughts:

    I think one way we’re differing is that I look at copyrights and patents as short term monopolies granted by governments to encourage progress and innovation. If we can get the benefits of innovation without granting these monopolies, then we should question why we’re granting such extensive and long term monopolies.

    To answer one of your questions, I work in information technology and in a salaried position. What point does that prove? I’m *not saying* that you should do what you do for free. I’m saying there may need to be new ways of paying for things. It’s not me that dictates this. It’s technology.

    I’m also trying to point out the ways that control can hamper all of us in our own creativity. I’ll ask again: in your photographs, do you get express approval for all non-public domain elements in them? If you take a picture of my car on the street, aren’t you infringing on my right to my property? It seems a comparable thing to me, that it’s my car and I should be able to say how it is used or how it is exploited for profit. Culture comes from all of us, and to suggest that we can minutely apportion who owns which part of it seems kind of narrow-minded. We’re all building on each other’s work and what has come before — that whole standing on the shoulder of giants thing.

    Yes! There needs to be money involved. Personally, I’m in favor of making money. But the genie is out of the bottle. Let’s not forget that it was the technology genie that originally gave us a way to make money off of copyright in the first place. There will continue to be money to be made. People are upset because they don’t see how that will come about. They don’t want to lose. It doesn’t matter if I think this is a great state of affairs or not. I just think it’s what’s going to happen.

    But there I go — I keep saying these things that anger you. Please — take advantage of the current system as best you can. It’s not for me to tell you what you can do, as you keep pointing out. You haven’t answered my other question about if you should be able to control how I use the ideas that you express. If you tell me your great idea for chocolate-flavored cheese, and it gets me thinking about other things that would taste great with chocolate, what do I owe you when I make a million dollars off chocolate-flavored beef jerky? Wasn’t the whole chocolate flavor thing your idea? Why should I get to rip it off? I’m extending the discussion in to patents now.

    And I’m being simplistic, idealistic, and naive when I look at what is good for society over what is good for specific people right now. Copying and making things better is the lifeblood of our society, and if that process can be slowed down by obvious patents and restrictive technology, I don’t think that is good for individuals (other than a few) and society.

  18. idmurray Says:

    “I’ll ask again: in your photographs, do you get express approval for all non-public domain elements in them? If you take a picture of my car on the street, aren’t you infringing on my right to my property? It seems a comparable thing to me, that it’s my car and I should be able to say how it is used or how it is exploited for profit.”

    Model releases are required for commercial use of images but not for editorial use. You can’t give me a property releases for your car since you don’t own the copyright of its design.

    Ian Murray

  19. Keith Holland Says:

    I’m unclear as to whether the pro photographers here are philosophically opposed to IP being willingly distributed without financial reward or whether they’re just upset that digital cameras and the internet have conspired to make the market in stock rather smaller than it once was. Of course, one is sad to see technology shrink any profession (have you tried to find a decent farrier recently?), but trying to insist that RM stock is the one true way puts me in mind of men walking in front of horseless carriages with red flags.

    If it was only CC they disliked, that would at least be consistent, but it seems RF and microstock (both clearly existing within a traditional copyright framework) attract just as much disdain. Essentially, if it competes, it’s bad.

    So what should a talented, hardworking photographer do to try and make a living in the new reality? It’s a debate worth having, but maybe not here. And one thing that won’t help is alienating people who might otherwise be sympathetic with baseless and vague accusations of “you want everything to be free” and “you’re undermining the rights of creators”.

  20. idmurray Says:

    “If it was only CC they disliked, that would at least be consistent, but it seems RF and microstock (both clearly existing within a traditional copyright framework) attract just as much disdain”

    It is entirely consistent. RF has been around since approx the early-mid 1990s and microstocks since around 2000. Neither are within a traditional copyright framework as far as I’m concerned. It depends what you mean by traditional. There are many people out there that don’t see the actual point of Creative Commons licences not just what you describe as pro photographers ( farriers?).

    My main objection and reason for posting is that as a UK taxpayer I’m concerned that a book has been commissioned by a UK govt quango to promote what I regard as a damaging trend to undermine copyright. You are right that personally I don’t like the RF or micro model but I don’t think that I’ve been discussing that here. Or are you maybe jumping to conclusions based on your own views?

    I would be less wary of CC if the whole issue was fully explained in a balanced way on sites such as Flickr but it isn’t. Another objection is this attitude that people want to stand on my shoulders rather than stand on their own two feet.

    Ian Murray

  21. idmurray Says:

    I”’m unclear as to whether the pro photographers here are philosophically opposed to IP being willingly distributed without financial reward or whether they’re just upset that digital cameras and the internet have conspired to make the market in stock rather smaller than it once was.”

    All the evidence suggests that the market for stock photography is bigger than it ever was. I would simply say that if anybody has any interest in any slight possibility of building a career (part time or full time) in stock photography that they don’t start out by giving too many rights away. Rights, once gone, stay gone.

    Ian Murray


  22. Another objection is this attitude that people want to stand on my shoulders rather than stand on their own two feet.

    Clarification: I said shoulders of giants.

  23. drew Roberts Says:

    “idmurray Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    A question…

    Do any of the people here who are against CC use any Free Software.

    I mean Libre Software if it happens to be gratis or non-gratis I don’t care.

    all the best,

    drew

    drew,

    Free software?

    I’m using Raw Shooter Essentials –

    A question in return. How many computer experts producing free software do so from the position of a salaried job in university or industry?

    Ian Murray”

    I know I answered this already, I don’t know what happened to that post. I don’t think I remember my full response. Here I go again:

    Ian,

    I did say libre and not gratis when referring to Free Software.

    A quick google search tells me that Raw Shooter Essentials is Freeware and not Free Software. There is a big difference.

    As to your question in return, I couldn’t answer that. I have no figures, I have heard that some started out writing such software out of love / personal “itches” and were later hired to a salaried position to keep doing what they were doing before for no money.

    all the best,

    drew


  24. […] I enjoyed contributing some scattered and rambling observations to discussions here and here. I enjoyed it for the chance to fire off some thoughts, but not so much as a debate. This is one of those debates where people on both sides are pretty well set with what they believe. (As are most debates. Tastes great! Less filling!) We’re all talking and no one is listening. […]

  25. Pete Jenkins Says:

    Creators create. In my case I am a photogrpaher and I sell licenses to use my work to interested parties. No one is forced to use my work, but if they do then they reward my creativity and give me money which I then use to pay the mortgae, buy food etc.

    Now if I do not have the reward of payment I would not by quite so keen to create. I would have to stack shelves at Sainsbury;s (or whatever). So who then would do the creating, if all us creators have to get ‘proper’ jobs, who is going to do the creating for all you right on Creative Commons types to exploit for free?

    Publishers want my work for free so that they can use it in their products and sell it on to punters. Creative Commons types want my work for free so that they can exploit it , so what is in it for me in all this?

    Some very wooly thinkng is going on here…

    Pete Jenkins
    Photographer

  26. Rosemary Bechler Says:

    Pete – you might get one sort of answer to your question – who would do the creating? – here:

    We-think, an exploration of and experiment in collaborative creativity by Charlie Leadbeater

    http://www.charlesleadbeater.net/orange-buttons/we-think.aspx

  27. drew Roberts Says:

    Pete,

    I think you might have it backwards. Mind you, I am a copyleft fan and not a creative commons type. If I had my way and all other things were equal (a couple of big ifs there, careful) I would like to see the CC fellows drop NC and ND and just keep BY-SA and BY in that order. So, why did I say backwards? Here is a link to something I created:

    http://www.ourmedia.org/node/111123

    I have put it under this CC license:

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

    So, I have chosen to make something and make it available to the work under these terms. You included. If something in there stimulates your creativity and you find you want to build on my work, I have given out my terms ahead of time. Have fun. If you don’t like the terms, the work is still under a copyright which I have and you can try and negotiate other terms more to your liking. How is this a problem for you? As you say, you can do as you like with your work.

    all the best,

    drew


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