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Copyright

by Yasaman Hashemian

In this clip some of the Disney characters in a very comic way try to mention some essential aspect of the copyright. We All are aware that copyright is a very important fact for those legal or natural person who spent his/her knowledge and time on a piece of work of art. Copyright provides a protection against losing profit for creators who invest lot of different sources.

 There are different types of reasons, from different point of views that why copyright should exist. Imagine yourself putting lots of effort and time for one project and then suddenly someone stole it from you, how terrible and outrageous you will feel. Copyright gives you the full control to find if there is a person who abuses your rights.

 Still there are some countries that won’t follow the copyright rules. Almost all famous software are available in these countries with the price of only few dollars while in global markets the price of these applications have several hundred dollars. Maybe at first sight for the citizens of these countries use the software and products with low prices is optimal, particularly because the level of their income is low. However, usually software-production companies produce cheaper versions for low-income countries. But because these countries are not following the copyright rules, such facility is not possible for consumers.

On the other hand, while there is no copyright law in these countries, other countries are not able to use their local literary, cultural and computer products as well. Now many domestic manufacturers of these countries have faced this problem and seeking for a way to solve this issue.

There is no doubt that the transition and process of creating the copyright in such countries will face many problems, because for domestic consumers pay the true cost of production would be very hard.

 With all the reasons I mentioned above, I believe copyright is a very helpful and fundamental law to help individuals protect their rights.

Copyright vs. Open Worlds (A Response to Yasaman's "Copyright")

by Simon Wiscombe

Yasaman's commentary about copyright -- how it guarantees freedoms and properties to individuals -- is extremely beneficial in countries and societies where such affordances are not granted. In countries where copyright law has existed for quite some time (United States and the UK, in these particular examples), it has become a manipulative tool of major corporations. Copyright is often wielded not by those who truly own or who have truly created the product, but rather the establishment that has the most money to fight for it in the legal system. Often, copyrights are settled outside of courts, due to the legal systems' established system of appeals and long, drawn out processes (which is ideal for legal battles of the civic manner, but for financial and business matters, it becomes trying) in which both parties suffer heavy financial losses. Thus, in societies where businesses are in power, copyright becomes one of their tools of control. While copyright law is beneficial by intention, it is important to understand how it is used against the very nature of its creation.

On the other hand, in these societies we are seeing a shift from the "ownership of one" mentality to the "ownership of many" as more and more people join in a collaborative effort in the online world. This sense of commons is completely undermining the established order of not only information distribution but also the hierarchy of ownership that already exists. It is no wonder that "piracy" of copyrighted material is painted as such a horribly offensive crime (see this article) -- it is the threat to the hierarchal system that you end up paying for, not the crime itself.

The movement into the open world (as proposed by Rheingold's "Mobile and Open: A Manifesto) is a direct shift away from this. It should be noted, however, that without copyright law occurring first, it would be difficult to transition into this open structure. Without the guarantee of personal liberty, there is no guarantee that the open world wouldn't completely fail.

Fair Use, Disney and USC

by Josh Eiserike

Due to its construction it may take viewers a few moments to orient themselves into the narrative flow of this clip, taking as small as one-word fragments from Disney cartoons to create a basic overview of copyright law. On that level it works, but the satire here is a little more oblique- Disney is notorious for its protection of its properties, often to Draconian levels.

A friend worked for Disney and reported such practices as any intellectual property created at the time of working for Disney would be owned by Disney, regardless of if it had been created for Disney. This is similar to how NBC owns Conan O’Brien’s intellectual properties, or how many creative employers makes its employees sign some sort of form giving them the rights to all properties created. It’s a trade-off—a creative job in exchange for agreeing to only create works for the company (although it’s funny to imagine that had Conan worked for Disney, “The Masturbating Bear” would now be a Disney intellectual property, alongside Mickey, Donald and Goofy). It’s a tough trade-off for any creative-minded person to be in. They’d at least like some recognition for their work, beyond owner ship.

Interestingly enough, a new subsidiary of Disney—Marvel Entertainment—has great benefits for its creators (speaking strictly of the comics). Indeed—any character created for Marvel becomes Marvel’s intellectual property, but Marvel launched what is called the “Icon” imprint—a way for its top creators to publish creator-owned books that they retain all intellectual copyrights to. One such example is “Kick Ass”- published through Marvel, but which the intellectual property remains in the hands of the creators, Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.—and therefore they are positioned to make a lot more money off of the “Kick Ass” movie (it should be noted that DC has a similar imprint, Vertigo, but these creator-owned stories are often more adult-oriented under the Vertigo brand).

When Rheingold writes, “The way intellectual property is defined by international law, the kind of political regulations that govern spectrum use, the degree of extension of the rights of corporations to control the use of creations of individuals and to exert control over what others can create or distribute, will determine whether a cornucopia or a tragedy of the anti-commons occurs. (The tragedy of the commons is the despoiling of a shared resource because there is no way to exclude individuals from consuming it; a cornucopia of the commons emerges when aggregated individual self-interest of many people adds up to something that multiplies everyone's resources instead of subtracting from what everybody has access to; and the tragedy of the anticommons renders a shared resource worthless by allowing too many interests to exclude others.)” he’s talking about the ever-open society on the Internet. This is exactly what the Disney clip refers to with “fair use”- now more than ever the Internet makes it possible for users to “own” material to which they do not hold the copyright.

Consider again the example of the Marvel creators able to continue to create new works, while adding to Marvel’s library of characters. This seems to be a great, forward-thinking solution that doesn’t stifle creativity. However, in the case of Disney and other institutions creator rights seems to be the least important aspect—its’ more about maintaining a corporate image. (Indeed, as Disney would not want its brand to be associated with “Masturbating Bear,” it also might not want its brand to be associated with some of the Icon books which it now publishes).

Consider for a moment another corporate institution paying lip-service to “copyright” while really looking out for its best interest- USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Traditionally USC directing students have been allowed to adapt copyrighted material for directing exercises. These films never see the light of day beyond an actor’s reel and are not allowed to be posted online (indeed—the University regards them as “exercises,” not films). However, this past semester all copyritten material has become forbidden under “legal concerns.” Looking at the outlines for fair use outlined in the Disney clip above this is, of course, preposterous. These exercises—filming five minute scenes from existing whole works (only a small fraction of the work) are as much a threat to the original copyright as is a diorama for a book report in grade school. Clearly, in an educational setting with no money to be made or damage to be done to the original work (as no one really sees these outside of the classroom), these exercises fall under fair use—and USC’s reactionary policy is more about image and public relations with studios than anything else.

But who can blame corporations like Disney or USC for protecting its image? Or, as Rheingold writes,

“Powerful interests recognize the dangers such a world poses for business models that depend on controlling and metering access to content, conduit, or services for a mass market, and they are acting to protect their interests. That's what digital rights management, extension of copyright laws into what formerly had been the public domain, the broadcast flag, spectrum regulation policies that favor archaic technologies and incumbent licensees, trusted computing systems that bake all these rules into monopoly silicon are about.”

A Fair(y) Use Tale

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Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms. http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/documentary-film-program/film/a-fair-y-use-tale

from A Fair(y) Use Tale (2007)
Creator: Eric Faden
Distributor: Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Posted by Jesse MacKinnon
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