lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So, we have yet another executive saying we should stop with all this privacy talk. In this case, Randi Zuckerberg who is Marketing Director for facebook. In fact based on what she's said, "I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors." (source: blog post on the EFF's website Randi Zuckerberg Runs in the Wrong Direction on Pseudonymity Online) she thinks that people won't misbehave if their real names will be attached to their actions...

rest of rant below cut tl;dr version: I might listen to you if you voluntarily give up all privacy yourself first )
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
This started as a comment elsewhere, but grew large enough I decided to make it a post.


I think a large part of the problem with copyright law today is that much of the law is pre-Internet and the powers that be (both government and in the major corporate publishers) are reluctant to change the law in anything but a "Squeeze tighter" direction. Ever increasing copyright lengths (really, are you really going to be encouraged to do more work because your great-great-grandchildren instead of just your great-grandchildren will have possession of the copyright?). I think of it in some ways as being like the 13 Colonies and Britain. Declaring independence was not inevitable. Had parliament and the crown been willing to look for a compromise position then the Commonwealth Realms might well include us as well as Canada, Australia, Jamaica, etc.

But currently you have things like Adobe initially saying that, "Yes, reading an ebook to your child is a license violation," music companies suing students and initially saying "We'll make this go away if you let us tell you what degrees you may and may not work towards" (and only backing off when the college said, "Whoa, what? We may have to rethink whether or not we will cooperate with your information requests"), DVDs that use 'copy protection' that doesn't actually prevent commercial pirating operations (or even give them a moments headache) but does help them prevent you from fast forwarding through ads like you could on VHS and does make it illegal for you to attempt to make use of fair use rights, and a Congress that happily puts in another extension to copyright length whenever the earliest Mickey Mouse works are about to expire. And the more they do this the more average people start to see copyright as something illegitimate, something akin to their city using eminent domain to seize the land homes are one and hand it over to developers who just happened to make campaign donations. And that is a bad thing because copyright *IS* worthwhile and worth keeping. Useful things like open source licenses are only enforceable because of copyright law. Get right of that and they aren't even worth they paper they aren't printed on.

Keep in mind another word for a copyright violator is 'potential voter' (I really wish I could remember who I first heard saying this). If the various concerned groups on all sides of the issue don't sit down and look for a reasonable compromise then some politicians might start looking at some of the more extreme push-back positions as a way to increase popularity. And I've heard of some extreme positions. Not merely banning software patents but software copyright as well. Or putting software in a separate category with a much shorter length (heard as little as six years suggested) due to the speed at which things computer related change. There is the Founders Copyright movement which suggests rolling back copyright terms to 14 years, with only the first term automatic and the one allowed renewal requiring registration (the argument being that if something is viewed as holding value then the owner will take the time to renew it, and if they can't be bothered to fill out the paperwork then why not let it fall into the public domain).

Or, possibly even more likely than drastic reductions in copyright length is the dreaded "T" word. I've heard people ponder a number of times, "If Intellectual Property is property, then perhaps there should be a property tax on it. If Mickey Mouse is going to be copyrighted forever then shouldn't the Disney Corporation pay the public for that privilege and not just congressional campaign funds?" And won't those moves to strike back at the major corporations be oh so fun for small businesses and individuals who get caught up in it? "We see that you have a blog. You will need to fill out form SE-IP-EZ, the worksheet is only two pages long, that's easy isn't it? Oh, you have two blogs? Well then you'll need to fill out one for each, plus another for your Flickr account. What? No, of course this isn't already taken care of by your having paid income taxes on your salary. Next you'll claim you shouldn't have to pay taxes on your house just because you already pay income taxes."

Now, this is the point where one would commonly point to the Japanese and their hands off attitude towards Dojinshi (fan comic books, and related works including written fiction, visual novels, etc). And the Japanese have found a compromise position that works for them. The people making fan comics, etc, do in fact sell them for cold hard cash (a position that would have even many American fan fiction supporters frothing at the mouth) but in return voluntarily restrict the number of copies made. The various publishers turn a blind eye to the fact that this whole market is in violation of Japanese Intellectual Property laws, and in return the next generation of comic book writers, artists, programmers, etc, come to them already having learned to fit their work into standard lengths and write/draw on a deadline. One could say that the Dojinshi market it like the media version of minor league sports, where people learn the basics and the majors go to recruit new talent.

But there is that pesky bit above, "turn a blind eye to the fact that this whole market is in violation of Japanese Intellectual Property laws". Get new management in one of the companies and there could be a team of lawyers walking the isles of the next Comiket handing out preprinted cease and desist letters left and right. I've heard this is unlikely because the companies would fear turning their fans against them, that if say (for the sake of argument) Sunrise was to start going after Gundam dojinshi, you'd see otaku burning their model collections and emailing the TV stations saying, "Take Gundam XYZ off and put something else, something NOT by Sunrise in its place or we'll boycott the whole station and all your advertisers". Maybe that does keep it in check. But as for me, I'd prefer more than just an unwritten gentlemen's agreement when you consider the potentially hefty penalties for IP violations.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
I'll put my view short and sweet. The only damage I can see that fanfic has ever done to a published author or publisher is damage done not by the fanfic but by the author and/or publisher's reaction to it.

As for those who call it theft. Fine. Show me the novel sent back to the publisher because, "Some darn fanfic author went and wrote a fanfic and all the ink evaporated off the original book's pages." Show me the police report about the damage done to the author's front door when the fanfic author sat down to write and spectral thugs kicked in the door and started carrying off the author's notebooks. What? No such evidence? Well... Dang. Maybe you should start using a different word than theft. I mean, even the RIAA and MPAA are kinda-sorta thinking of abandoning the term piracy to describe the activities they complain of.

Expansion: Attacking fanfic is also self-destructive behavior in my opinion. There are the people who will watch your show's original broadcasts or buy the book in hardcover release. There are the people who will watch the reruns and buy the paperbacks. These are the people who will lend a copy of the first book in a series to friends, getting them to go out and start buying them as well. You know, you've got a word for them, customers. You've got a word for what you gain from them, money or profits.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So I run across another article about photographers being harassed by police and find myself thinking once again that in these cases the officers should be given two choices. 1, admit to dereliction of duty and be drummed out. Or, 2, admit to incompetence and be taken off active duty and be sent back for retraining.

Really, even if terrorists were prone to standing around blatantly taking photographs, they are so outnumbered by actual professional photographers, amateur photographers, tourists, and anyone else you can think of who would be innocently taking photos that to use photography as an indicator that someone needs to be questioned is utter stupidity. The ratio of false positives to actual positives is going to be so lopsided that frankly I think even under the US Constitution's strict definition of treason, you could actually make an argument that it is indeed 'aid' to the enemy. Has even one person anywhere in the world who was stopped solely because they were taking photographs turned out to be a terrorist? How can this kind of time wasting on the part of those who are tasked with the job of protecting us be anything but dereliction of duty? Frankly I see it is no less intentional time wasting than if they were to find a quiet spot and pull out a game boy for a few minutes of Tetris or Mario.

Although at least that last option would have the positive of not being harassment that will cause a group of people to start viewing the police as an enemy.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Although a three million euro ($4.5m) bail isn't cheap, I have the suspicion it won't be that hard for him to raise.

And that's all I have to say for now.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Based on an item on the news todayyesterday:

State court tells guy he never paid a ticket in 1999 and that he will have to pay it, plus almsot $1k in interest/fines. Guy says not only did he pay it in 1999, but that he is especially irked because a few months after paying in 1999 he was told he hadn't paid and had to go back to court and show that he had indeed paid. Sadly he apparently decided after some years of not being gone after to stop looking after the financial records with a paranoid eye.

Which raises two questions for me.
1) Shouldn't there be record of his going back to court to show that it had been paid. And shouldn't this be something that can be used to quash the current claim?
2) Isn't it normally the one making a claim that is expected to prove it. "You never paid!" Should be answerable with, "Okay, produce the complete file, and explain why for a decade a supposedly unpaid claim wasn't pursued."

And additional bit, a DMV official on camera said with a straight face and without apparently thinking there was anything wrong with it, "When you pay your ticket, hold onto the proof." "For how long?" "I'd say forever."

Um. Yeah.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So, I got to thinking about the issue of Orphan Works.

I think one thing I would require in an Orphan Works bill before I would approve of it is:

1a: Require that someone actually document what they have done to search for a rights owner, and
1b: You don't then just use the work, you take your documentation to (either court, or a panel set up specifically for this) and they review your search and say yea or nay to using it.

Okay, lie, more than one thing.

2: After ruling on whether or not the work could be used there would be an official government registry of Orphan Work requests, and the ruling would be entered into it.
2b: Anyone else could then skip the research stage if they add their use and contact information to the registry.
2c: Anyone else could review the registry and challenge a designation of Orphan Work status by presenting evidence to show who a rights holder was.

I don't like the idea of having multiple competing registries, unless perhaps they are split by media type (photo registry, written text registry, etc) administered by one office. Access to the registry should also be open and free. No one should have to pay to find out if something of theres is in it. There should also he a high standard required in the research. No, "Well, I looked up the magazine and it's out print now, so it's free to use, right?" You should have to show how and were you looked.

I also like another idea I heard. Sure, you get your initial copyright free and clear. But it should be for a length closer to older copyrights, and renewing it should not be automatic. If you can't be bothered to fill out a form saying, "I want to renew the copyright on my book X goes to Y and does Z" should the government really be bothered to smack people down for doing stuff with it?

There should also be very stiff penalties for presenting false evidence, and the panel that reviews claims should have the ability to levy at least a modest fine if it's ruled that you should have been able to find out who the rights holder was with even a modest search. "Why no, honest, I tried for months to find out who might own this movie called Muppet Treasure Island." I also wouldn't complain if there was a waiting period between "Hmm, yes, you did do a decent search" and "Alright you can use it" during which the item in question would be posted with a bounty should anyone track down the owner (pay the bounty with a combination of department funding, application fees, and "You wasted our time trying to claim Men In Black was an Orphan Work?" fines).

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lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
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