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Copyright Should Encourage Derivative Works

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the greed-is-a-powerful-drug dept.

News 136

Techdirt has an interesting look at copyright and the idea that an author is the originator of a new work. Instead, the piece suggests that all works are in some way based on the works of others (even our own copyright law), and the system should be much more encouraging of "remixing" work into new, unique experiences. "Friedman also points back to another recent post where he discusses the nature of content creation, based on a blog post by Rene Kita. In it, she points out that remixing and creating through collaboration and building on the works of others has always been the norm. It's what we do naturally. It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music — which was limited to just those with the machinery and capital to do it, that copyright was suddenly brought out to 'protect' such things."

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Remixes (2, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574441)

It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music -- which was limited to just those with the machinery and capital to do it, that copyright was suddenly brought out to "protect" such things."

Which actually brings me to ask an interesting question; I've always liked remixes of songs and find they're great listening if you like the original song aswell, and sometimes even if you dont. But how do they handle the copyright issues with labels? And how do those professional remixes create them anyways, do they get all the different tracks from labels or what?

Re:Remixes (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574641)

Perhaps we need to add something that is anathema to most US copyright exercisers, namely mandatory licensing. If you want to create a derivative work, you need to give a percentage of x% of the value based on the x% derivation. Note, it is a portion of the percentage, not equal to the percentage derivation itself. And, this may be only if the parties do not agree to a reasonable royalty on their own.

Re:Remixes (2, Interesting)

WCLPeter (202497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577579)

If you want to create a derivative work, you need to give a percentage of x% of the value based on the x% derivation.

Yes, but how do you determine what the derivative percentage is for a work I've used? Suppose I want to make a Star Trek film? I don't use any of the original characters, I create my own ship, my own crew, even my own sector of space for them to explore. I'd only be using the Star Trek backdrop because its familiar, I'm a Star Trek geek, and I feel there are plenty of quality stories still left to be told in that universe.

How much Trek did I use to create my derivative work? I won't be able to tell you, I doubt anyone could, but you can bet your last dollar that the lawyers at Paramount would tell you its pretty damn close to 100% and, unless you had access to equally high powered lawyers, there would be no way you'd be able to fight it either.

No, what we need is targeted, specific, legislation that makes it abundantly clear the copyright holder will receive a percentage of the net profits earned from the derivative work. With the power of Hollywood Accounting [wikipedia.org] , they'll get exactly what they deserve.

Re:Remixes (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574741)

I'm not so much into music, as I am into books. Over several years, I read almost all of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books. I'm sure I missed some, but I read a LOT. Bradley's Darkover books, especially, inspired a huge fan club. Not only did Bradley tolerate, but she ENCOURAGED new authors to explore her Darkover universe. I would hate to count, but there are probably 5 or more published books about Bradley's Darkover than she ever published.

If I recall correctly, all of those derivative works pay tribute to Bradley, somewhere within the pages. To my knowledge, Bradley never was paid a cent on any of those derivative works. Bradley DID BENEFIT from them, in that they expanded her sphere of admirers, who in turn bought more of her original works.

This is the correct and proper way for copyright to work, regarding derivative works. Pay homage to the master who showed you the way, but you really owe him nothing more. Just like education - teachers teach to earn a living, but they HOPE that one or more of their students surpasses them. If/when a student does surpass his/her teachers, he isn't required to come back and pay them again for teaching him so well.

Re:Remixes (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576685)

MZB's name was on the cover of all the Darkover books published during her lifetime, IIRC; it's a pretty fair bet that she made at least as much money off the anthologies as the individual authors did. Generally the way it works with anthologies is that the authors get a fixed payment, and the editor gets a (small) advance and the royalties.

You're right, of course, that she encouraged both fanfic and the "official" stories written for the anthologies ... until she didn't, because (apparently, and this is all second- or third-hand information) some nutcase submitted a story for one of the anthologies, got a rejection slip, and then threatened to sue when some idea vaguely similar to the story appeared in one of MZB's own novels a few years later. At that point she felt she had no choice but to shut down the anthology line, and although she didn't tell people to stop writing fanfic, she was no longer able to give it her blessing. And I can't blame her. This isn't the usual pattern of a copyright holder being overly aggressive; it's about someone who had always been very generous with her copyrights defending herself against vicious and unwarranted attack.

Which is a damned shame, because some of the anthology stories -- and the fanfic, for that matter -- were very very good, and helped launch the careers of some authors who are well-recognized names today. MZB's free-and-easy attitude also, no doubt, had a lot to do with the enduring popularity of the series. But I'm really not sure what else she could have done.

Re:Remixes (2, Interesting)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575217)

IIRC, the labels handle all the busywork for the artists on this. Lawyers and accountants call lawyers and accountants, hammer out agreements, establish a rapport over the years. Might even be some even-trades going on (you can use X of ours if we can use Y of yours). Works all right if you're signed with a label. Sucks majorly for indie artists who can't afford the fees demanded and/or don't have corresponding in-demand works to trade access for, assuming the labels will give them the time of day at all.

Re:Remixes (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575655)

"It's only in the last century or so, when we reached a means of recording, manufacturing and selling music...."

Since copyright over written materials originated in Britain in 1710, that's 299 years, or nearly THREE centuries ago.

But the article makes it seem like it's just something we created for the hell of it a decade or so ago.

Re:Remixes (1, Funny)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576787)

I was just preparing to burst in on this scene like the Kool-Aid man, spilling delicious grape-flavored knowledge all over the floor.

Then, you beat me to it.

My shame is great, and can be cleansed only in blood. Good bye.

Re:Remixes (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576813)

When you consider that Hollywood is still making movies out of 3500 year old material,
the characterization that you are complaining about is actually rather reasonable and
accurate. In terms of MORAL ideas, a few centuries really isn't terribly significant.

Re:Remixes (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577815)

"In terms of MORAL ideas, a few centuries really isn't terribly significant."

Ah. So we in the US should roll back the declaration of independence, the constitution, the bill of rights, civil rights, a woman's right to vote, emancipation, freedom from segregation, and all of those other silly moral ideas, simply because they occurred within the last few centuries? They're "new", so they don't count?

Re:Remixes (2, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575763)

Typically when a song is remixed or sampled, the copyright holders have given permission and are getting royalties.

Re:Remixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28576561)

Commercial ones clear with labels, ASCAP, all other rights holders with royalty arrangement. Others fly under the radar and/or get sued if it becomes big enough.

Re:Remixes (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577003)

Typically when a song is remixed or sampled, the copyright holders have given permission and are getting royalties.

I don't have figures, but no, not for the notable ones at least.

The artists and marketing guys know and encourage remixing, but it's not normally a contract situation. That often leads to conflicts with the RIAA in their 'super SWAT team' form. See this [boycott-riaa.com] for example.

Re:Remixes (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576523)

Groups that would immediately support this:

Rappers (sampling)
Video bloggers/YouTube users (anime music videos, montages, etc.)
Pencil and Paper roleplayers (look at the dearth of systems that exist already!

Re:Remixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28576899)

And anyone that wants to put two circles above anything.

Re:Remixes (2, Informative)

DrSuperbo (1590935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576779)

Remix Releases 101 Let's say artist A makes a track, and artist B wants to remix it. B will most likely create a remix from just the CD audio of A's track, or from acapella tracks (only the vocal from the original song - often obtained from studio contacts or second hand from the same source, but many hip-hop and electronic acts make acapellas freely available, see the Beastie Boys, or even release them as B-sides, see Eminem) and send it to A's label, perhaps along with a description of what B would do given better access to A's master recording (every instrument as a seperate audio file). A's label now has three options. It can ignore B's correspondence altogether - the most common option by far. B can then either leave it at that, or can release the remix as an unnamed, unbranded release, which will be termed a White Label or VIP remix. B's name will not appear on the release and B will likely only be recognised as the remixer by rumour and hearsay, as the release is in effect a copyright infringement. It will most likely only appear on vinyl, at pressings of between 100-3000 copies, so intended for DJ play only. A's label can pursue the originator, as the vinyl pressing house's mark will appear on the disc, but as a cost vs benefit thing, they probably wont. If a house DJ plays a house remix of a U2 track at a house club, it lets a room full of people who likely wouldn't listen to U2 hear a U2 track, thus promoting U2 at no expense to the label. A's label's second option is to release B's 'rough draft' remix as it stands. This happens rarely, but does happen. The remix will most likely be found as the B-side to the 5th single off the album, or on the Japanese release, or as a DVD extra to the tour video, or appears as an 'exlusive' on a A-label-promoted DJ mix album. Point being that it does get released but not so as you'd notice as a consumer. B gets paid some money for this and A owns the copyright to the remix, and everyone's happy. Third option is that A's label likes where B is going with the remix, and releases the track stems (every individual instrument) to B to finish the remix. B will then finish the remix as planned, but A's label (and often A himself) will have more creative control, as if B was an artist on the label. B will get paid well for this, but at the expense of his creative control. The remix would then get released as a B-side to the original song's single or to the lead or second single off the album. These days, these third option remixes would get put on iTunes Store etc, but the 2nd option remixes probably wouldn't. In the case of A and B both being on seperate independent labels, A's label would release the stem tracks in exchange for someone from B's label being remixed by someone from A's. Then B would get paid less well, but both labels would be cross-promoting each other effectively. Note that this is when B WANTS to remix A. It is often that A's label thinks that B is *so hot right now* that they will actively pursue a remix from B. Hence last year you get Burial (Mercury award winner, NME and Radio 1 favourite, but with plenty integrity in the underground, exclusively signed to an independent) remixing Bloc Party (on V2, owned by Virgin, difficult indie rock band on their difficult 2nd album) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead frontman on his inaccessible but admittedly brilliant first solo album). This will follow the 3rd model above, but B can pretty much name his price for the remix. And just to end with my favourite internet cliche, hope that helps!

Absolutely (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574477)

Just look at software. How many developers learn to code without looking at examples? And why does good documentation contain lots of those?

Face it: once you've seen some code, from that point on everything you write can be considered a remix of all those, coupled with your own ideas.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574735)

I wouldn't call code written after reading examples a derivative work of those examples. Examples are a thing at the technical level, equivalent to knowing how to use brushes and paint to create a painting. Every painting would then be a derivative work of the materials used to create it, or the publications describing various painting techniques, and that's not what a derivative work should mean. If you copy and paste code from examples your program may still be useful but I doubt it will conquer the world.

Re:Absolutely (2, Insightful)

haifastudent (1267488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576873)

I'll take the analogy further: _don't_ look at software. Because this is what patents have done to software:
Patents were the reason for the downfall of a standard HTML 5 video codec. [slashdot.org] Not litigation or the threat of litigation, but the existence of patents and the fact that there is no way for a company (Apple, in this case) to check if someone is trolling a patent or three.

What has this to do with copyright? Should copyright be pulling in one direction while patents are pulling in the other? Haven't the two traditionally gone hand in hand, to the point where laymen cannot distinguish between the two? What is the intent of protections, and who are they protecting?

Re:Absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577477)

I have had a struggle with this, I have taught myself different programming languages since the C64 was released. They came with extensive programming manuals with code snippets.
  I have also learned C , VB.NET,C# etc from kindly released code, but I am not a programmer.

The last program I wrote is to my surprise actually very good, fast, small and useful. It is a file browser with some new innovative features (at least features I can't find in any other manager anyway)

Would I release or sell it -- No

I learned from code snippets the problem with that is people fall into patterns.
The function I use now for listing a directory is very similar to the function I used last year, and the year befor... and it was produced by learning through code examples.- it may even be an existing example.
I wrote a large routine to compare 2 images for my app, it compares the image pixels and its fast- but on review I found I used some previously available code in some areas. I didn't intend to the code is just part of my learned patterns.
How do others deal with this.

Just be careful what you wish for... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574485)

It could also mean someone can take GPL code and make it into closed source with few changes.

Re:Just be careful what you wish for... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574545)

...So? The GPL isn't there to "lock up" a certain program but rather to do what copyright was meant to do, that is to allow the public to learn, use, distribute and adapt it while giving the creator of the work (very) limited control of it. I see nothing wrong with someone using GPL'd code to make a proprietary product so long as it doesn't "rip off" the creators of the work. For example, I would see nothing wrong with someone interested in making an OS looking at the Linux source code and adapting (but not just copying and pasting) the general structure of Linux for their own OS.

Re:Just be careful what you wish for... (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574697)

Not possible. The GPL opens up the "closed" program by default. In other words If I see GPL in your code, your program is GPL'd whether you like it or not. And I am allowed to copy, modify, and distribute it under GPL rules.

Re:Just be careful what you wish for... (2, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575719)

Actually, that's not exactly true. If there were a EULA, you might still be bound by it. The author of the original GPL'd work may be able to take action against the author of the derived work, but you are merely a third-party with no standing to enforce the GPL.

No really? (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574511)

You only need to look at, well anything to see that everything is a derivative work of another thing. That was the point of public domain. Almost all of Shakespeare's work references heavily or is based on another work. Heck, music, movies, etc. Are all based on each other, anyone could tell you that. This is why it is very important to have a limited copyright. Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.

Re:No really? (1)

jsmiith (1274436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574543)

Which is terrible because? Unless they make some serious improvements or new features, it wouldn't make a difference. No one would even look at a closed source copy of an open source project.

Re:No really? (1)

jsmiith (1274436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574557)

?? what do you know, wrong grandparent. sorry about that.

Re:No really? (4, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574561)

Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.

Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

Re:No really? (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574589)

I don't think it really helps the industry as a whole though. Consider if Shakespeare wasn't allowed to adapt key pieces from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet into Romeo and Juliet (and if both had been around using the US copyright system, he wouldn't have). Both were part of the same industry (literature and plays), yet I don't think that The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet would have made as much of money and helped the industry compared to Romeo and Juliet. It sure helps a few individuals, but not the industry.

Re:No really? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575073)

Both were part of the same industry (literature and plays)

Why is everything considered "industry" nowadays?

Re:No really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28575133)

That's always confused me too. It's like nowadays, the definition of "industry" is "makes things"

Re:No really? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574769)

Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

I would say that it helps industry in the short term, but harms it in the long term.

Re:No really? (5, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575033)

It helps a few major players, but harms industry on the whole. The same is true for other creative arts. The proponents of restrictive IP rights usually misrepresent the good of those few best known players as the good of the industry, but the reality is that prosperity lies in plurality and "lawless free-for-all", not exclusive deals.

Re:No really? (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577409)

Yeah, but that wouldn't have worked as a pithy remark :)

Re:No really? (1)

ChoboMog (917656) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575105)

Anything more than ~30 years is harmful to the industry.

Oh no, it helps the industry, it just harms culture.

If anything it only helps monopolies and established business models while actually harming both industry (in general) and culture. There is plenty of evidence that industry can flourish where innovation (ie derivative works) are encouraged. A ~30 year duration of copyright strikes a balance between this innovation and the exclusive rights of the original creator which allow them to profit from their work.

Re:No really? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575393)

No, it helps a subset of the industry, to a limited degree. There have been three studies I can think of (one from Harvard, one from MIT, and the Gowers' Report by the British Government) that show that it doesn't help the entire industry. Unfortunately, the part of the industry it does help spends a significant proportion of their money on lobbying.

If Everything is copied... (3, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574607)

Maybe I misunderstand what they are saying, but if everything is copied or derived from something else, then I don't see the issue. Want a superhero comic? Just make your own character and Universe that copies the same thing Batman did. There is nothing stopping this type of "innovation".

But I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission. A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines. I think weakening what a copyright means can dilute people's creativity in this way.

I personally license everything artistic I do under a creative commons license because I am not personally vested in my works. But I know some people devote their lives to their creations, and I know they would not want to see their works getting lost in a pool of comic strips with Calvin peeing on stuff or Billy from Family Circus telling his mom to do obscene things with that carrot on the table.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574767)

I know they would not want to see their works getting lost in a pool of comic strips with Calvin peeing on stuff or Billy from Family Circus telling his mom to do obscene things with that carrot on the table.

Too bad. You can't put the light back into the lamp. That would be like an architect telling me I can't put addition onto my house, or paint it a different color, or prohibiting me from opening a bordello.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575309)

Yes, but do we have to encourage the lowest common denominator?

If the architect owns your house, then damn right he can say you cannot put an addition on it. If you own it, that is a different matter.

Same thing with Calvin. If nobody "owns" the Calvin character, then it is all fair game. Today, someone "owns" the Calvin character so that use isn't allowed. When that ownership expires, whenever that might be, then we can have Calvin peeing on stuff and Billy's Mom doing whatever with that carrot. I'd personally say that I think Mary Poppins as a pole dancer would be a lot more fun.

Do you begin to understand why some folks are somewhat concerned about opening up access to popular works in this sort of way? Once that door is open and the "ownership" and control is gone, well then it is open season and you can expect the basest sort of stuff to start appearing.

Why don't we have this happening already? Because in order to make money from it, you need something popular. I don't think anyone has a lock on Adolf Hitler branded items, but he isn't popular. You want to bring out a "Britney Spears Twirl-o Vibrator" and you are going to have problems because not only is she popular, but there is indeed a lock on that.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576989)

When that ownership expires [...] then we can have Calvin peeing on stuff

Where've you been for the last 20 or so years? :P [google.com]
(warning, as my search term was simply "calvin peeing", I suspect it is possible that someone else's search results may be NSFW)

Once that door is open and the "ownership" and control is gone, well then it is open season and you can expect the basest sort of stuff to start appearing.

Perhaps not the best example, as the peeing stickers are completely out of character for Calvin, but has it really hurt Calvin and Hobbes to have such ripoffs?

Re:If Everything is copied... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574805)

I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission.

Explain again why I need "permission" to create something? If I use someone else's backstory, it doesn't lessen the amount of creativity I'm putting into my own creation.

A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines. I think weakening what a copyright means can dilute people's creativity in this way.

That seems like a non-sequitur to me. If I write a story about "Flying-mouse-male-offspring", how exactly does that "dilute" the creativity of someone else?

Re:If Everything is copied... (5, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574937)

But I do not think some two bit hack should be able to just create a Batman comic strip without permission.

Sorry but this is the purest form of assholery enabled by copyright.

If someone random releases a Batman comic, then there are three possible outcomes:
1. It sucks. Nobody cares, the original author does not lose anything. Publisher is annoyed because somebody is using "their" franchise, but since people tend to forget about shitty comics they doesn't care much.
2. It is acceptable. Some people will buy and enjoy it, but most probably won't consider it canon. The original author is unaffected. Publisher is annoyed because they think that money should belong to them.
3. It is absolutely great. Readers have a great comic, the "unauthorized" artist has a lot of money. The original artist might have a reduced ability to sell his future works if they aren't as good as the "unauthorized" ones, but most probably his earlier works will sell better because of increased popularity of Batman in general. Publisher gnaws his arms off because they did not make any money from the hit.

Conclusion: this use of copyright does not benefit the authors or the readers in the slightest. They only benefit the publishers, who can turn the creative arts into a money farm. The effect is a cultural land grab that stifles creativity, and prevents a great many works from being created because they would not be authorized. For example, a movie about the Stalinist terror using Disney characters could become a cultural milestone, and yet there is no chance of that ever being authorized.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574993)

Sorry to reply to myself: The things you want to prevent already happen with games, movies, etc. remade by studios that have no connection to the original authors. Examples: Fallout 3, Homeworld Cataclysm, many others. In fact it only ensures that the idea is not exploited by the person who has the best vision, but by whoever gets picked by the management, which usually have artistic values high up their ass and care mostly about profits.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575343)

Fallout 3's IP was bought by bethesda from a faltering Interplay.

Homeworld's IP is owned by Sierra, who published both Cataclysm and the original. Cataclysm was developed by Barking Dog, while the original was developed by Relic.

The difference would be if Barking Dog saw the concept that Relic did, and felt like making a better version. Without permission from the IP holder (Sierra).

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575495)

You prove my point: who has the right to create depends on the flow of money and whim of higher ups rather than who has the vision. Probably you can come up with better examples because I'm not that into gaming.

Re:If Everything is copied... (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575233)

You missed the real case.

1a. It sucks. People buying it decide that ALL "Batman" stuff sucks. Nobody gets any money for stuff that sucks.

This is the problem unless you envision a world where everyone hears about everything on an equal basis. Sorry, nobody is that well informed, no matter how much time they spend on the Internet looking around and following links.

It is perfectly possible to destroy a "brand" with inferior merchandise, just as long as the inferior crap is put in front of people. This is what the battle for "counterfit" goods is all about and "derivative works" as well. If I can take over any brand and distribute my own version of it it cannot help the original brand much. It may not hurt it, or it can destroy it.

Here is another concept of "unauthorized" works. How about a film about the secret passions of Pol Pot enacted with nothing but Disney characters. I'll bit Minny Mouse would look real cute in the gangbang scene. Do you believe this would encourage more parents to bring their children to the Disney store? Why would you assume that this wouldn't happen?

Re:If Everything is copied... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28575311)

Cool. That's why trademarks exist.

MOD parent up (4, Interesting)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576105)

Artistic characters should only be protected by trademark. Artistic works which are covered by copyright should only include actual works (e.g. Steamboat Willie) and not abstractions of those works (e.g. the Mickey Mouse character). Somewhere in between there is a gray area between paraphrase (probably should be protected by copyright) and summary (shouldn't be restricted by copyright).

Re:If Everything is copied... (3, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575455)

1a. It sucks. People buying it decide that ALL "Batman" stuff sucks. Nobody gets any money for stuff that sucks.

There is another mechanism to prevent that, and which is generally agreed upon as positive: trademarks. You are conflating trademarks with derivative works. You can register a trademark for the "leading" Batman comic (e.g. a distinct graphical symbol.. no idea what that could be) to distinguish it from those from competing authors, and only license it to works you approve of. This way you have a way of extracting some revenue from unrelated authors as well as having some grip on what is considered canon, but at the same you can't be an asshole and prevent others from publishing their work at all.

Here is another concept of "unauthorized" works. How about a film about the secret passions of Pol Pot enacted with nothing but Disney characters.

Except it wouldn't be marketed as a Disney movie. You might find the idea offensive, but there will be people who won't, and I see no reason to prevent them from making such a movie, as long as they don't misrepresent what it is about (which is an entirely different problem unrelated to copyright).

When an actor stars in a horror it does not suddenly make a family comedy in which he also appeared unacceptable to the kids. I don't know why it shouldn't be the same with cartoon characters.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

gnupun (752725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575865)

1a. It sucks. People buying it decide that ALL "Batman" stuff sucks. Nobody gets any money for stuff that sucks.

There is another mechanism to prevent that, and which is generally agreed upon as positive: trademarks. You are conflating trademarks with derivative works.

It's very amusing that you find the protections provided by trademarks suddenly okay, but those provided by copyright as not okay. In any case, what gives you or anyone else the right to create knockoffs of Batman? You did not do a thing to deserve it.

You can register a trademark for the "leading" Batman comic (e.g. a distinct graphical symbol.. no idea what that could be) to distinguish it from those from competing authors, and only license it to works you approve of

That's not good enough. Batman is not just famous his name, he is more famous for his look -- dark cape, pointed ears etc. Without copyright protection, any joe shmoe can create his own Batman style comic, only he will name it "BartMan" or "Vampire Man" to work around your trademark restriction. Yes, all these copyright and trademark laws exist so the one created or owns the works benefits from it, and not some copycat parasite.

Re:If Everything is copied... (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576735)

It's society who gives and takes "rights". What have you done to deserve freedom of speech, or the right not to be discriminated?

As for the copy cats, do you think people would choose to buy "BartMan" instead of "Batman"? Art is not an utensil, people don't choose to listen to "Mentallica" just because their albums are somewhat cheaper than Metallica's.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

gnupun (752725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576905)

It's society who gives and takes "rights". What have you done to deserve freedom of speech, or the right not to be discriminated?

LOL, society owns squat. God created this planet and all its creatures. Now you have power to limit what other people can do, but not the "right". Individuals are no longer slave to some tyrannical dictator, but slave to the mob rule of "society". There can never be true freedom of speech, because people in power will always hate subjects who speak against them or their core values -- just look at slashdot moderation. As for the right not to be discriminated, that's illegal, same as murder or theft. Do you have any real arguments against my points or are you going to stoop to personal attacks?

As for the copy cats, do you think people would choose to buy "BartMan" instead of "Batman"?

You should read up on the reasoning behind trademarks to find the answer to that question.

Re:If Everything is copied... (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575433)

The problem here is more closely related to trademark law than copyright. Imagine you create a new Batman film. You spend a massive amount of money advertising it. Then someone starts selling a comic book using the same characters that isn't very good. Two things will happen here. Firstly, people will buy it because they've seen your adverts and think it will be good. Secondly, they will be disappointed by the story and decide not to go and see the film.

If you make sure that 'unauthorised' is written very clearly on the cover, I don't see this being a problem, but reusing someone else's setting and characters generally implies some form of endorsement.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575557)

In the case you describe the problem lies with the publisher not making their trademark distinct enough. It should be obvious the work is not related to the movie by the absence of a trademark associated with the movie, while adding a word "unauthorized" on the cover would be unfair to its author.

If we were in a world with very limited copyrights, I'm guessing that the emphasis on trademarks in advertising of movies, books, etc. would be much stronger than now, and I doubt the things you describe would happen.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576171)

That happens all the time actually they are called Fanfics. By using the Fanfic name it is implied that it was not a story of the original owners, but of fans.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575843)

Yeah, I don't really see why the creator of Batman should be able to prevent other people from writing other Batman stories. I mean, I can understand why the creator would want that level of control, but I don't particularly see why we should agree to give it to him. If you write a story, it makes some sense to me to grant you a certain level of ownership over that particular story. However, it doesn't make sense to grant you ownership of the ideas and concepts that are present in your story, to give ownership of plot devices or characters.

Where it gets a little tricky with derivative works, though, is the question of "how much do you need to change it before it's legal again?"

Re:If Everything is copied... (2, Insightful)

gnupun (752725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574991)

A lot of copyright holders put effort into creating a consistent Universe with high quality story lines.

You nailed it. How many people on YouTube watch Naruto AMVs (just remixed scenes from the anime with their favorite song)? Just a few, because the videos are crap and the remixer is just a hack who lacks the creativity and skill required by true artists. If every wannabe was allowed to create and distribute their own Batman, Superman, Naruto etc. the video content will be the same crap quality as YouTube AMVs. If you force copyright holders to allow derived works, market will be flooded with so many crap Batman comics and movies, nobody will associate Batman with good shows.

I, for one, am sick of the low-quality reality TV shows, low-quality youtube videos, low quality web blogs -- all free. When you demand free stuff, this is the quality you get.

Secondly, I don't understand the entitlement attitude most people have towards copyrighted works. The author used his own time and skill to create a work for your enjoyment. He does not owe you any work unless he is your slave. Therefore, he has the right to charge a reasonable price for his work for his own personal benefit. School, religion and OSS type propaganda has brainwashed you into slaving your life away for the benefit of others, when in reality you should be spending your time primarily for your own benefit. Name a single species, on this planet, other than human, that works primarily for the benefit of others -- none.

Re:If Everything is copied... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28575221)

Name a single species, on this planet, other than human, that works primarily for the benefit of others

Ants, bees, wolves, meercats, I could go on if you'd like.

BTW, the rest of your post is entirely contradictory - which side of this debate are you on?

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

gnupun (752725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575425)

Name a single species, on this planet, other than human, that works primarily for the benefit of others

Ants, bees, wolves, meercats, I could go on if you'd like.

Wrong! Wolves partner with other wolves, creating wolf-packs, to attack animals stronger than a single wolf could take on. The wolf benefits from this partnering. If a copyright author does not get paid, he works primarily for the benefits of his users. Ants and bees do the same partnering for self benefit at the cost of working for others. Ants and bees partner with their own kind for self benefit at the cost of helping others. A single ant enjoys more food and comfort by working with other ants than he could have foraging food alone.

Re:If Everything is copied... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577233)

Wrong!

If I'm wrong, why do you try to rebut me by backing up what I said?

Wolves partner with other wolves, creating wolf-packs, to attack animals stronger than a single wolf could take on.

And why do they do this? Because if they didn't, they'd starve.

The wolf benefits from this partnering.

Which is pretty much the entire fucking point of co-operation. That's why we have this social construct known as society - to enable us to progress more than any single one of us could alone.

If a copyright author does not get paid, he works primarily for the benefits of his users

Kind of amusing how you keep bringing up this straw man. I guess when you're as wrong as you are, the only way to make yourself think other people are wrong is to invent arguments, right?

Re:If Everything is copied... (3, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575351)

If you force copyright holders to allow derived works, market will be flooded with so many crap Batman comics and movies, nobody will associate Batman with good shows.

That's not really correct. All that might happen would be that people wouldn't assume that merely because it was a work about Batman that it was good. Instead, they would look to the author of the particular work. You can see an example of this with classic fairy tales. They're in the public domain, and anyone can publish copies of them or make derivative works based on them. A version of Cinderella by Disney might be good, while a version by Jerry Lewis might be pretty crappy. Rather than just go to anything about the character, the audience will have to check to see which version it is. This is not a tremendous burden.

When you demand free stuff, this is the quality you get.

It is inappropriate for copyright law or policy to care about quality. The government shouldn't be the arbiters of taste for everyone. Copyright should look to quantity instead, by encouraging the creation of as many original and derivative works as possible. Given that 90% of everything is crap, more of everything is the only sure way to get more of the good stuff. Since no one is forcing you, or anyone else, to watch bad things, it's easy to ignore it.

The author used his own time and skill to create a work for your enjoyment. He does not owe you any work unless he is your slave.

I agree completely.

Therefore, he has the right to charge a reasonable price for his work for his own personal benefit.

Provided that you mean he has a right in transactions in which he is a participant, and given that markets tend to dictate prices (would you pay as much for a DVD of Gigli as you would of Citizen Kane?), I'd agree with that too.

But copyright isn't about either of those things. Even without copyright, both of those would still hold true.

What copyright does is it prohibits third parties from making copies of the work, distributing them, etc., instead allowing the copyright holder to monopolize the market for the work, so that he can charge above-market prices, since for some reason copyright proponents don't ever think that the market price is ever "reasonable." There's certainly no natural right to a monopoly. It might be sensible to give such a right to a copyright holder, but given that it means a loss of freedom for everyone else, and having to suffer monopoly pricing, there really ought to be a good reason. The mere fact that the author created the work is not a good reason.

Re:If Everything is copied... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576835)

Batman is a pisspoor example of this "problem" anyways. Set up your PVR to
record all things "Batman" and you will end up with a very wide array of
completely sanctioned works. You will find uneven quality levels and varying
approaches to the material. You probably wouldn't see any more diversity in
quality or approach to the material if completely separate non-authorized
entities were interpreting the material.

The original publisher is going to abuse the work as a cash cow to the extent
that it thinks it can. "Watchmen babies" are already pretty much inevitable.

heresy ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574617)

Burn the witch ! Burn the Witch !

Reverend M. Mouse, Church of Disney

Here we go again (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574619)

Queue the trolls spewing bullshit about copyright being just fine as it is, blah blah blah.

And yes, I meant queue.

Re:Here we go again (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574753)

So... cue the queue of trolls spewing bullshit about copyright being just fine as it is, blah blah blah?

Re:Here we go again (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575439)

So, these are English trolls?

Re:Here we go again (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577271)

Queue... because it makes it easier to 'eliminate' them? "Your copyright has expired..." BANG BANG BANG.

Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (1, Flamebait)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574673)

There is virtually nothing wrong with our copyright law... that our founding fathers wrote for us. It hasn't been until recently, when we demanded that it was everyone else's responsibility to take care of us, that the corporations stepped in and suddenly everything looks grim for us. Who would'a thought that giving up our responsibility (and therefore freedom) would lead us to a more tyrannical state?

If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted by big government.)

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (3, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574841)

If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted by big government.)

Odd perspective... I was thinking that it was more of an indication of the rejection of a government by the corporations, of the corporations, for the corporations.

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28575109)

It was more of a 'not bush again' vote more than anything. Obama is in the pockets of entertainment big business (just look at who contributed to his campaign). While bush was in the pocket of oil.

My personal favorite out of the last election was the 'little old lady who had never voted before'. They plastered her up on the front page because she was black and voting for a black president. My response wasnt 'good for her' my response was 'your 80 and have never voted?! what is wrong with you'.

If you want to 'blame' others blame congress. They are the morons who need a good cleaning out. They are the ones who come up with the laws... They are the ones who the corps have bought out many eons ago.

Presidents rarely veto things. They usually only do it if they are trying to get something in particular.

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575277)

Presidents rarely veto things.

While the proportion of vetoes to presented bills is low, I think part of your notion of Presidents rarely vetoing bills may in part be because Bush almost didn't veto at all for his first six years, just once. Then that upticked to eight during the last two years of his presidency:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0801767.html [infoplease.com]

If you'll note in that chart, previous presidents generally far more prolific in their vetoes.

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575465)

It's still true that Presidents rarely exercise their veto. Typically, they let it be known in advance that they will veto something and work with Congress to get it into a form they're happy with. Compare the number of presidential vetos with the number of bills passed.

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (2, Interesting)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577067)

Well, no one perspective is the entire picture. Some people voted for him because he wasn't Bush. A lot of people also voted for him because he was saying that he'd enforce all these social programs. I'm all for social programs, but they have to be social programs that work. Almost nothing the government does actually works. (Look at social security, which is supposed to be a holding program. If it's only a holding program, why isn't there any money?)

            I don't want to live in a country where you can sue somebody because you trespassed onto their property, started jumping on their trampoline and broke your neck. I also don't want to live in a country with big government. Or big corporations, which can harness enough economic power to be their own big governments. In order for that to happen, people need to start taking some responsibility. I don't know about the people around you, but when I talk about how the state wants to pass a bill that would allow them to track people without warrants, they ask me to stop talking, because they don't want to worry about it.

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574979)

If anything, Obama's election proves the current mindset of Americans (social welfare for everyone granted by big government.)

Are you one of those people that present Europe as some kind of hell zone?

Re:Nothing is wrong with our copyright law... (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575901)

There is virtually nothing wrong with our copyright law... that our founding fathers wrote for us

The geek has no sense of history.

When English authors could be easily and safely pirated there was little chance for an American to make it into print.

Writers at Emerson's level had to beg friends for the money to self-publish.

That's possible for the social and economic elite - an Adams or a Parkman - but much harder for the middle or lower class.

Here is a simple test: "I have a mule, her name is Sal. Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal."

Folk song or the New York stage? 1830 or 1905?

Now try the same with a fragment of any old American song or story you seem to remember.

I'm betting you will be wrong about the date and wrong about its origins.

 

Um, no. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574685)

George Lucas okayed derivative works as long as anyone didn't profit off of it. That's one person controlling HIS copyrights. That's his CHOICE.

For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

Re:Um, no. (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574843)

It is not properly up to George Lucas to decide that people may or may not profit from such derivative works. All that is required, in a sane world, is that the author acknowledge Lucas as a source of ideas, that the author not plegiarize (copy Lucas' work, then claim to have authored it), and that the new work actually contain substantial new material. If the derivative work is any good, people will want it. If it is trash, people aren't going to bother with it.

Kinda funny how that works. I mean, how many people are going to watch a completely obvious Starwars ripoff that contributes little or nothing to the storyline of the universe? It would be a total financial loss for the idiot who tried it.

Re:Um, no. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575487)

Problem is, with the Star Wars example, the name is everything. The content? Who cares. People pay their money to see Star Wars stuff and it if is some crappy rip-off, well, they paid, didn't they?

And if it gives all Star Wars material a bad name, well that isn't the rip-off artist's problem, now is it?

Re:Um, no. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575671)

Hmmmm. If the authors producers directors and executive people actually use the "star wars" name in their work, then they have opened themselves up to litigation. Assuming, of course, that the copyright is still in effect when that happens.

Not actually using the name, but giving Lucas credit for ideas is more what I had in mind. They can make derivative works which are very obviously related to Lucas' universe, but they can't just lift characters, names, or the star wars brand. That, IMHO, would constitute infringement, unless they approached Lucas ahead of time, and got permission to use his characters etc in some particular manner. And, of course, just copying the plot and changing names etc won't work either.

Re:Um, no. (3, Informative)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574865)

For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

No, it's a government granted PRIVILEGE. Hopefully, it will be revoked some day. Even your copyrights are derivative works with little more than personal anecdotes.

Re:Um, no. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575103)

Your 'novels' are the sum of your experience built upon millennia of human knowledge. To take an idea and then claim its yours and no one else's is arrogance at its finest. No art is made from the void.

Re:Um, no. (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576777)

For example, do I want people making derivative works of my copyrights (my novels)? No. That's my CHOICE.

So we can do whatever we want with it after you die? There is no you anymore, so your choice is irrelevant. What happens when you give it to someone else, then it is no longer yours and you have no choice.

In my dream world copyright would last for 10 years, life with extension, and would be completely nontransferable. Yes, your children and shareholders will have to get a job, just like the rest of us. Doing business with a creative type, or being related to one, shouldn't give you special privileges.

Content Ancestry & Cascading Microtransactions (1)

digestor (1497189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28574731)

I wrote something related to this topic back in February, more from the point of view of a solution framework rather than the cultural root of problem (which I agree with). I think prevailing attitudes are stagnating any movement forward to a digital economy... from a developer point of view I abhor the idea of any else touching my code, but I publicly acknowledge the necessity of it :) http://langhornewollamshram.blogspot.com/2009/02/information-age-bottleneck-part-ii.html [blogspot.com]

Really now! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28574799)

Why shouldn't we be allowed to rip off other people's work?

Derivative works (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575037)

In it, she points out that remixing and creating through collaboration and building on the works of others has always been the norm. It's what we do naturally.

AFAICT, the real point of talking about "derivative works" with copyright is just to close a loophole where someone might say, "Oh, I don't have the right to distribute your work? Well no problem, this isn't your work. I changed 5 words in the novel, which makes it a different work. This new work is mine."

Since then, some people have taken it to mean that all new copyrighted works should be 100% original, not inspired by anything, and not borrowing from anyone's past work. But that's impossible.

Re:Derivative works (4, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575367)

Copyright is complicated.

If I change 5 words in somebody else's book and sign it with my name, it's plagarism.
If I change 5 words and leave the original author's name on it, it's an unauthorized edition.
If I rewrite a few chapters and sign it with both names, it's a collaboration.
If I rewrite a few chapters and sign it with my name only, it's a derivative work.
If I take the idea and characters and write an unrelated story, it's still a derivative work but might not be.
If I reuse random sentences from someone else's book in my own unrelated one, it's called sampling.
If I rewrite someone's book in modern slang, it's called a cover.
If I reuse the store and characters but set it in modern times, it's called a remake.
If I take the story, trivialize it in the most intellectually offensive way imaginable and show it to millions of people, with the original author maybe receiving lots of money and maybe not*, it's called a Hollywood movie.

*) see LOTR fiasco. Not an example of offensive trivializing though.

Where are my mod points... (1)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576007)

Where are my mod points when i actually *want* them?!?

This is a beautifully simplified explanation of the complexities involved in the spaghetti code we call copyright law.
Two thumbs up.

Re:Derivative works (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577761)

see LOTR fiasco

Yeah, definitely not one of Ralph Bakshi's best works.

Ok (1)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575115)

Lemme just copy what you did and then add a clock to it. Done! A derived work. Money please!

Remixing code via LimeBits.com (1)

LimeBits (1383007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575125)

A white paper on remixing code [limebits.com] was recently released by open-source code-sharing community LimeBits.com [limebits.com] .

Art without copyright (4, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575191)

Consider a form of art unhindered by copyright: dance.

The age of Internet is also the golden age of dance. Little known or local styles like Melbourne Shuffle gain worldwide recognition. A plurality of others, like the many variants of Jumpstyle, Tecktonik or Hardstep are created, because the elements from many styles can be combined to form a new mix, while the Internet and Youtube in particular allows easy sharing of demos and tutorial videos that allow anyone to learn a particular move they like. Classical styles are becoming more popular as well. Never before in human history was there such a vibrant dance scene. And even though "anybody" can dance, professional dancers still have jobs (see Riverdance, Stomp, any music video).

There is a lesson to be learned from this.

Re:Art without copyright (1)

cil1mia (1165281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575407)

Consider a form of art unhindered by copyright: dance.

SSSHHHHH!
That was the last safe art form!

Re:Art without copyright (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576673)

Damn, I just lost my leotard too ...

Re:Art without copyright (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576731)

Then consider the case of Michael Jackson. His moon walk elicited countless imitation by hordes of pimply teenagers, inflicting irreparable mental and emotional damages to all exposed to the hordes' douchebaggery.

Yes, there is a lesson to be had from this.

Re:Art without copyright (1)

IncandescentFlame (773807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577921)

You're right, there is a lesson to be learned from this. And that is you shouldn't compare oranges to apples.

Dance is a performance art. So copyright has very little meaning because the cost of reproduction is very high - you have to be able to perform. While your argument may have some validity in the music industry, which IMO will certainly survive without copyright, I don't think dance's success by analogy can be applied to the book or film industry purely because they are such different creatures.

The book or film industry would be very different without copyright - I'm not saying they wouldn't survive or thrive but I think your analogy is misleading.

An even more interesting article related to is (1)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575333)

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/07/06/090706crbo_books_gladwell [newyorker.com]

It questions the idea of information wanting to be free

Re:An even more interesting article related to is (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575617)

Anderson's reference to people who "prefer to buy their music online" carries the faint suggestion that refraining from theft should be considered a mere preference.

Great troll article.
Piracy = Theft is a 100% reliable sign of a copyright establishment troll.

imagine that shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28575457)

who woulda thunk that slashtards see ripping something off and relabeling it as something else is innovation. that's all linux and 99% of all open source is.

Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Little Boxes (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28575715)

Makes me think of an old recording, circa the 1980s, of Malvina Reynolds singing "Little Boxes" at a live performance. That's the one that goes "Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky-tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same..." Although she wrote it, it was popularized by Pete Seeger.

Now, Pete Seeger is always talking about the "folk process" and the continuous process by which folk songs evolve, as singers change and add material. And Pete Seeger himself always, always, always puts his own twist on the songs he sings.

So Malvina Reynolds opens by saying, "Pete, you know, he does it a little different. And now, when I sing it, people say 'That's not the way it goes!' But it's my song! Yeah! I wrote it!" She doesn't sound angry about it, though, and I can't for a moment imagine her suing Pete Seeger.

But, yes, all creative people know that they borrow material from others... just as scientists know that they "stand on the shoulders of giants." Where would we be if Brahms hadn't been allowed to write "Variations on a Theme by Haydn?" Any entity that tries to stop the process of creative borrowing and transformation is the enemy of the artist, not his friend.

Copyright infringement should be restricted to mean the activities of the business entrepreneur who issues and sells near-exact reproductions of large-scale works, markets them in competition with the legitimate rightsholder, and clearly hijacks dollars that would otherwise have flowed to the author or artist. That's what everyone always thought copyright infringement meant, until the nuttiness started.

Re: (1)

DrSuperbo (1590935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28576869)

Art feeds off art. That much we should already know. Picasso had a tutor, and he had his heroes, just as this article notes that Shakespeare had his influences, and just as (oh I don't know, who is supposed to be the most original-sounding top 40 musician right now?) the Killers borrow a lot from country rock and 80s synthpop. Art is regenerative. It takes a truely rare and unique artist in any field to come up with a style totally of their own, the roots of which can't be found in earlier derivative works. In fact at this late hour I can't think of any. There's obviously the old saying, good artists emulate, great artists steal outright. My point being that if art is derivative, copyright only works against this, and thus hinders the regeneration and hence creation of new art.
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