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March 29, 2009

Copyright or Copywrong?

I think that I may hold the same opinion as a few others in this class after we heard Professor Logie in the chat room and really read the Bound by Law book. I still feel a bit confused about the use of copyrights, but it seems to me that more and more artists or companies representing artists use the copyright as a way to keep their work from being used out of their hands in any way shape or form. I understand that when you create something, you want to retain the right of invention and creative process for that work, but some of the use of the copyright can be twisted in order to limit the uses too much. The original idea behind copyrighting was to protect the author or artist, but some of the overuse of censorship or creative work has become apparent to individuals trying to gain access to the world or today.

I appreciate that Bound by Law book really took the time to sit down and write a quality book regarding to the topic. If we could copyright every use of every piece use of the art. We wouldn't complain as much now as we would have on a the other hand... I also appreciate their use of current judges and authority figures in the legal cases or copyright. It's unfortunate that it can't provide all the answers for copyright questions, but then again, having a looser set or rules allows for more creativity. So while we may see them are rules or laws, they are actually more like guidelines.

If you pay you can play

After this weeks reading assignments and participating in the chat this week, I have formed a new opinion on copyrights. Basically, I have now recognized that if you have the money you have the power to use this legal right to work for your best interest. In many cases, the author or the originator of an idea needs outside funds or the help of other organizations to publish, record or present an original idea to the public. During this process many legal rights and implications develope that skew the lines of ownership and create battles to actually owns the product. Lets take for example a recording artist, this person or band creates and perfects its product which is demanded by the public for consumption. Most often, this person or group does not have the means to record, package and distribute this product to the community. They are force to turn to a company to accomplish this task and they don't do it for free. For this service, a record company requires the artist to sign a contract that states the terms of the agreement, who owns the product and finally what they expect the artist to do to hold up there end of the contract. Ownership of the copyrighted material is at best muddy and if there are legal questions, who has the money to fight that in court.
In our discussion on Thursday night, a topic was introduced about the internet and how some material just disappears. No matter who is using the material or how it is being used, it is at the discretion of the owner to allow or remove the product. Once again, you see that if you can pay you can play in the copyrighting game. To me, the public has lost focus on what copyrights are supposted to be and what they were designed to do. As with many things in the U.S. today, corportations and those with money control how, when and by who these laws can be used.

March 26, 2009

A chat with a Copy Lefty.

As some of you may have seen on tonight's chat I actually have a class with Professor Logie and he did that presentation for us in class as well. After reading Keith Aoki's Bound By Law? and chatting with Professor Logie I have a newly formed opinion on copyright law. While I still think it is very important for artists to have a means to protect their own work it is also important for the public to be able to use different works of art in order to build upon them. In Bound By Law?, Akiko aspires to film a documentary about life in New York City. She films multiple scenes where music is playing or people are singing. Then she learns that she could be in danger of copyright infringement. How can people who film documentaries, which are recordings of popular culture, be able to pursue their art without being sued left and right? It really does appear that the copyright law has become out of control. I think that when the law was originally created it's purpose was to inspire others to create and invent for the sake of the country but now that same law is making lawyers and corporations rich and leaving aspiring artists in the lurch.
Fair use still confuses me. As Akiko synthesizes, "So, what I can and cannot use depends on what the broadcaster, distributor, insurance company, brokers and lawyers are comfortable with? Fair uses may have to be cleared by an army of lawyers or cut from the film?" (Aoki page 52). I think that it's unfathomable that something could appear in the background of a film and you would have to pay thousands of dollars for the use of it. I like what Logie said about 'information policies' instead of 'intellectual property'.

Creative Power to the People

Before this week, I thought I had a basic understanding of how copyrights work, but i had never heard of Creative Commons. I had always assumed that the only way to make sure intellectual property was kept safe was through a long and difficult process at the patent office, but the concept of a fairly simple form that can be completed online for free is of great interest to me. Considering the type of classes we take and work we do in the Scientific and Technical Communications major, I'm sure that almost all of us have at least fantasized about creating our own articles, books, or other forms of intellectual property to broadcast our work and thoughts to others. The concept of Creative Commons, an organization that was created specifically to help creative, ambitious people with writing aspirations like us is very exciting. It makes it that much easier for us to realize and act on those writing fantasies that had previously only been daydreams helping us through boring lectures for lib ed requirements (but definitely not during STC classes, those are much more interesting). I am very happy to have had the opportunity to learn about this venue of production, and look forward to reading the next breakthrough in STC written by someone like me who decided to share their creative power with the world through Creative Commons.

Holy crazy copyright confusion Batman!

Yeah...that basically sums up how I felt after reading the Bound by Law piece. I am sure that I have not given credit where it has been due many a time. I honestly really just didn't know about it that much. I understood that people could have copyrights on names, companies, and other things that they created. I thought it was more or less to protect the name or idea so people wouldn't steal it and call it their own in order to make a profit. For example, no one else can say chicken mcnuggets and sell them to me so I can give them money to eat a million of them. True story. That was about all I knew or cared to know about copyrights.

The video and info on creative commons gave me some peace though. I am glad that people are able to share what they want, how they want, when they want. It is very likely that people may want to have others use their stuff without having to ask for permission, it is easier that way and it will probably make them money. Like with the commercials, advertising for someone helps them make the cash money without having to actually do anything. Also, if people do want others to have to ask their permission, they can make it that way.

I am still somewhat confused on the public domain and fair use areas. I need to read over more info about it and get some real life examples, although the Bound by Law had good examples and great illustration to help give some visual.

Final thought...who thought of copyright? Who was the first one to copyright their stuff? Just curious....

Intellectual Property Taxes

It looks like people have some pretty good discussion points on copyright posted and so far I agree with them all. When I started reading Bound by Law, I was excited that someone finally wrote a book to stick it to the man about copyright (Aoki, 2006). I believe a creator should have control over their work and should receive credit for it, but I don’t believe they should be able to demand unreasonable sums of money for incidental uses of their work if properly cited. There’s a method to my reasoning, and it all has to do with marketing and brand recognition.

You see, Fox may have demanded $10k for the 4.5 second snippet of the Simpsons and as a result it was removed (Aoki, 2006, p 13). However, can you imagine the audience that snippet would have reached? You can’t beat free advertising! Companies pay large sums of money to have their products featured in films, yet when it happens for free and by accident they sue. I think the frivolous lawsuits need to go away, and that should happen as the years pass and power of the internet seeps into the legal system more and more. In the case of “Margarita Barbie”, I think the suit should have been based on defamation, instead of copyright (Aoki, 2006, p 24). I would be upset if someone defamed a child’s toy I created; not because they stole my idea, but because they made it into something that could destroy my company’s image. This is one of the benefits of copyright, but as we can see since the judge ruled in the artist’s favor, this aspect of copyright didn’t work for the Mattel (Aoki, 2006, p 24).

Consider for a moment what would happen if someone took a suggestive video of you as you were waiting for a bus/train/taxi and adjusting a skirt, pantyhose, or your hair and immediately uploaded it to Qik. What recourse do you have? How difficult would it be to find that video once posted? Would you be able to have it removed without revealing your identity? Would the person who posted it be protected by copyright?

This brings me to my next point. You own everything you create for life plus 70 years (Aoki, 2006, p 11). Was that extra 70 years supposed to mean your beneficiary gets the benefit of your work until they die? As I understand it, this applies to just about everything except corporate holdings which are 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation (Aoki, 2006, p 11). But drug patents expire only 20 years after invention and are often heavily challenged (http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/09/cx_mh_0309plavix.html). The short term of drug patents is supposed to encourage lower cost generic alternatives and to prevent big pharma from monopolizing life saving treatments.

This 20 year timeline is being challenged now because long term clinical trials can take more than 20 years to complete, so just as a drug patent expires, generic drug companies can get the drugs to market and stand on the research of the original patent holder – which means lower development and testing costs and ergo, lower drug costs (http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/09/cx_mh_0309plavix.html). This is equivalent to someone stalking book copyrights waiting for them to expire and then republishing them as their own, but the book sells on title alone because it was a best seller back in the day, so the new copyright holder doesn’t have to pay for marketing. (Is it just me, or does this seem like cheating?) I guess my point is that if pharma is limited by a 20 year patent timeline, what makes life + 70 years appropriate for anything else. I suppose if I had a justification for that amount of time I might be more apt to accept it.

I am all for the by-nc-sa for our site. It just makes the most sense for the wiki platform. I had no clue you could define the terms of your own copyright, otherwise I would have done this years ago and will do it from now on; particularly with online information. What good is knowledge that cannot be shared?

Can't Go Wrong with Madness

I am currently taking a class called “Intersections of Science and Technical Communication and the Law (…what a mouthful), and for the last two weeks we have been discussing nothing but Copyright, Trademark, and Patents. I am far off from being an expert but I have a very good understanding on these subjects. It was amusing to see that “Bound by Law” used the same examples as the cases we had read. Something I would like to share with the class is that Fair Use is Not and Right but a Defense. This means you cannot automatically claim Fair Use and not get sued. Sometimes you do need to go to court and defend your position. I have also learned that works are automatically Copyrighted once you put your idea on paper, but in order to bring a civil suit against someone (Suing them), you need to officially Copyright your work. This makes sense because it is proof that you claim the idea/expression. This does not make sense because the person you’re suing may not have known it was copyrighted since you never announced it before the lawsuit. The law sure sounds mad at times.

Did you know that even something as simple as “Happy Birthday” is copyrighted? Yup. It’ll cost you $5,000 if you want to use it in a film. Copyright is important and I still believe in it, but the extensions are getting longer and longer. Copyright was initially stated as “....to provide copyright protection for limited times.", and was lifetime plus 50 years. Here is a link to a good page if you want a comprehensive list of copyright:

http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/

For those who wonder if this has ever been questioned, it has. Back in 2003 a group of petitioners (A group of individuals and business whose works have passed into the public domain) brought this concern to the Supreme Court. The case is labeled Eldred vs. Ashcroft if anyone wants to read it in depth. Essentially the Petitioners argue that “limited time” should be one time only and challenged the Copy Right Extension Act . The Courts claimed that no rights were infringed on and ruled that the Copy Right Extension Act will stay as is. The Court went back to an old dictionary from the 1700’s when the law was made and looked up the word “limit” and it defined the word as “confined within certain bounds” and the Court did place a restriction by placing a number on the statute; lifetime plus 70 years after the artists’ death. Whether this was a ‘correct’ decision is up to you.


As for what our Copyright license should be I favor:

Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.
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Due to the fact that our Wiki is meant for public consumption and it was compiled from other people’s research, there should be no money made by anyone. I want others to feel comfortable taking as much as they want, but give due where its appropriate. Once our work is cut and pasted off into the Web, it would be nice if others respected our wish of non-profit as well, hence the Attribution part. Thanks for reading until the end!

March 25, 2009

To Copyright or Not to Copyright?

Wow, copyrighting is extremely complicated. I never knew that there were so many details that went into getting a copyright. Creative Commons listed many different categories of copyrights that I have never heard of. The Legal Code=The fine print that you need to be sure the license will stand up in court (Creative Commons). This appears to me to be the most common type of license. I also didn't realize that your license expires after a certain period of time as Aoki pointed out in Bound by Law. What is the point of copyrighting if some one else can use your image in a negative way like Forsythe did? How did he win the case and Mattel lose when Mattel is the one owning the copyright? What does the copyright protect you from then? Is it from some one else recreating and duplicating your image and making a profit off of it? If they change something like in the case of a parody and make money it’s then their original work? Would that case be attribution non-commercial? Is that why Mattel’s side didn’t withhold in court? It looks like that anything that you create whether it’s a drawing, sculpture or song, etc. and can be recreated by some one else in some way, shape, or form should have a copyright. This way you can get credit for your work and make a profit. Even if you don’t think that your work is worth much, some one else might and they might try to pass it off as their own work and then you can’t do anything to prove it’s yours if they beat you to the copyright.

Don't Worry! :D

Creative Commons. Copyright Laws. Congress. Trademarks. Patents. Wow, amazing that there are so many ways for us to protect our intellectual properties. Yet, should we feel safe enough? Interestingly, Krista mentioned that we own everything we draw: the doodle on a napkin. Copyright, it’s thrust onto our drawings, writings, intellectual properties, and that’s that. We are the keepers. Nobody will ever get their hands on it to claim as their own. But is it that safe?

My intellectual property, yes, anybody can see it, touch it, but they shouldn’t claim it. But what if they do claim it? Not just what if they claim it, moreover, what if I never know about it? What can one do about this situation? If I don’t know about it, it won’t hurt me. But wouldn’t you think that in the far future, my own artwork may just pop out at me and I’d be confused as to why some strangers name is attached to it? What if that stranger got his/her own copyright for something that was actually created by me? These thoughts are very much like the wannabe-film-maker’s thoughts in Bound by Law? (2006).

Well those are just thoughts of thinking too much about the safety of protection. I used to go to a Korean Music Forum , soompi.com.forums, and that was one of the first places I saw Internet copyright-like artwork. Basically, there were people who wanted their artwork to be used, but they needed to be credited. The only way to use someone’s banner graphics, etc., was to contact them and ask to use the art. Which if they had used Creative Commons, would’ve never needed to be contacted by strangers. That’s a neat concept from Creative Commons, but only founded in 2001, they still have yet to get the word out. People should really go get the license before posting their intellectual property online.

What about us? We are writing wiki’s, based on research we find online. As John Logie mentions, we care about the difference between copyright and intellectual property. We do write papers, more based on what we’ve read from others. How far can we travel in our writing and call it our own? Right now I’m thinking if we were to copyright via Creative Commons, we’d do best with the “Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)” copyright type. The description is in the link Krista gave us, but I chose this because we are making a wiki. People should be able to come on the wiki in the future and add to it. In Bound by Law? (2006), they mention that there is balance in copyright. Because of the following: “Congress shall have the power… to promote the progress of science and useful arts…” (quote from Logie’s presentation), we as users can use what we find to create something new. Thus we shouldn’t be too scared to use research to make something new. Whew! We are safe to charge on and create our wiki.

Intellectual Property & the Internet

Copyright laws and matters have been a growing issue mainly because of our technology advancements in recent years. The internet brought about illegal downloading of music and introduced this 'intellectual' property that must be protected under copyright as well. Copyrights are meant to allow you to protect your work and control who uses it (Aoki), so the purpose of copyright isn't misunderstood - it's what items should be covered under copyright. I am working an internship this semester at National Wind, LLC in uptown Minneapolis and we are currently working with lawyers over a copyright issue. There is another company called National Wind Solutions that has used our name several times simply by cutting off the word 'Solutions' at the end of their company name. We are now gathering information and data about who received copyrights first and in what areas the company name was used so that it can be decided whether or not National Wind Solutions is breeching copyright. I have never seen a copyright issue be dealt with first-hand until now, but it is incredibly interesting how important that matter is to employees.

So back to the internet. Say you make a graphic and post it on your website. Obviously you created it, so it's yours and you automatically have copyright for it. However, by posting it to the internet, anyone can go on and just grab the graphic to put on their site as well. By posting this content to the internet did you make it available for public use? Technically no, but that's generally what the basis of the internet is for: sharing information with others. So there's a little contradiction in the use of the internet with copyright. We create information for others to use and access, but they can't take it. This is why the lines get so blurred when it comes to intellectual property. I can't imagine the problem will go away any time soon with how our technology continuously advances.

Knowledge for the Masses

Every time I see the annoucement "Content Removed Due to Copyright Issues" I cringe. I understand that musicians must sell CDs in order to make money (athough you wouldn't believe how much of that money goes to the record companies), and that shareware like Limewire has reduced the number of music and software CDs sold... but I'm getting a little sick of the whole "what's mine is mine" attitude. The idea of a limited monopoly on ideas, inventions, etc. was intially created to encourage progression and new ideas... now it seems to be doing the opposite (Logie 4). The "Intellectual Property" issue, as Professor Logie said, impacts more than just musicians, pirates, and record labels. It influences students, educators, researchers and scholars (Logie 25).

In one of my classes a few weeks ago, my professor pulled up a video on YouTube to illustrate a concept that he had been lecturing on. The screen said "Content Removed Due to Copyright Issues". According to fair use policies, copyrighted material can be used legally for nonprofit educational purposes (Purdue University Copyright Management Center). My professor's intended use of a YouTube video was definitely nonprofit and should have been educational.

Some of these issues may affect our Wiki, especially as we begin adding media (pictures, videos, sounds) to our pages. Although I don't think we will be sued or arrested for a class website, I do think that we should all be extremely conscious when using material. The unfortunate part is that some of the best material available online may have already been removed due to I.P. issues. As long as we cite our sources and provide credit where credit is due, we should be fine.

March 24, 2009

Hey! That’s my song, not yours

Intellectual property matters. This includes copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets (Logie 2009). Copyrights allow you to protect your work, control who uses it and get paid by the people that do use it (Aoki et al 2006, 32). Patents protect inventions, trademarks protect company brands and trade secrets protect the components of a specific product (Logie 2009). These four pieces to intellectual property are set down to protect what has previously been created. For that reason I think it matters BUT I also think that there are a number of instances where taking intellectual property too far has occurred. Aoki et al (2006) provided numerous examples of this in this week’s reading. One of the examples that stuck with me and clearly stuck with others as well since Anders also talked about it was the Simpsons example. I think people become money hungry and want to exploit any opportunity to make a profit. An important way to limit this, I think, is to set up a clearly defined set of rules and guidelines for what intellectual property is and define the gray area of fair use. From reading Bound By Law? (2006), it seems that there are still many questions regarding where the line is. By establishing guidelines, the gray area becomes black and white. However, I do not think these guidelines should be stringent or limiting. With a large number of restrictions, creativity can be hindered (Aoki et al 2006, 68). It is through the creativity of building upon other ideas that new and even better ideas are made. That is why I really like the concept of Creative Commons. They give free copyright licenses where people can define which parts of their work that can be duplicated (Creative Commons Video). With such a license, you do not give up your copyright; rather you refine it (Creative Commons Video). I feel like this works well which leads me to my recommendation for the type of license we should use for our project: attribution. According to Creative Commons’ website, attribution allows people to distribute, perform, copy and display your work or its derivatives but they must give you credit how you want credit to be due. This would be good for our site because it allows other people to take our ideas, expand on them and bring new ideas to the table all the while giving us credit where it is due.

Intellectual Property and Copywrites

Overall, I can see why copywrites are necessary and useful but I do agree with many of the points made by Prof. Logie and Creative Commons in the PowerPoint presentation, the comic book, and the video clip. I can understand why people would copywrite their creative work in order to maintain possession and to keep others from passing it off as their own but like the examples in the comic book showed many billion dollar companies take it to the extreme.

For instance I find it ridiculous that Fox would charge 10,000 dollars for a 4 second clip of the Simpsons to be included in a documentary especially when it was unintentional. The worst part of it is that Matt Groening the artistic creator was OK with it being included in the documentary for free and it is just the greedy multibillion dollar company exploiting every dollar they possibly can. From my interpretation of Prof. Logie's PowerPoint and the Creative Commons video this is what they are trying to stop. I like how Creative Commons allows the actual artist or creator of the information or media the ability to control how much if any they are willing to share with the public. It leaves it up to the creator instead of the record company, studio, or whoever else actually profits off the creators work. I think Prof. Logie was illustrating this exact point when he was discussing the shift from intellectual property to information monopoly policies and in turn the shift from the greedy companies to the starving artist.