I am not opposed to creators making money with copyright by any means, but I am very much in favor of creators respecting fair use as part of the trade off. What is fair use you ask? This video explains it nicely.
There has been another copyright hubbub this week with a photographer, Lane Hartwell, had one or her photos appear in a parody video that got to be popular. She got mad, asked them to remove it, when they were flip with her she got a lawyer and filed a “notice and takedown” under the DMCA to Youtube and got it pulled. She has since made all of your Flickr photos hidden (except for this one demanding payment for the use, classy) and generally is mad at the world. I sympathize with her broadly, much of the theft she is talking about is real and damaging, such as magazines using your photos with paying when she makes her living taking photos for magazines.
In the case of the video however I feel she is wrong. This was clearly fair use under almost all the definitions of fair use bar the academic. She should let go on this one. She won’t though, she is convinced that her property rights are absolute and trump all and so is striking back at the wrong target. This won’t help her in the long run, people will remember this instead of the times she is clearly in the right. I had never heard of her before, now I associate her with abuse of the DMCA. She will probably stay bitter and blame the video.
This sort of thing is why I think we need some common sense reform in the copyright world. Ms. Hartwell should be protected from real theft, artists should be allowed to create and people should know when to let go. The only way to make sure your work is never stolen is to never show it to anyone. Once you show anything it becomes part of our culture, expecting it go completely back into your box is both greedy and naive. I think it is sad that Ms. Hartwell has decided to hide her work from the world and it is definitely not to the public good that she has had the video pulled from two sites already. Is that what we as a society want? Art suppressed and artists hiding their works to be ‘safe’?
EDIT: The offending photo has been pulled. Ms. Hartwell has suceeded in further hiding her work from the world both here and on Flickr. A win for her, a loss for the rest of us on both counts.
I say lock them up and throw away the bloody key. Are there no poor houses? Wha.. oh, this is one, well that is no excuse.
Edit: It gets worse, now you are supposed to hide from Carolers as you cower in fear in your own home.
I am passionate about public domain. It is going away. It is being eroded by our bought out Congress who are constantly giving away extensions of copyright and trademark terms without getting anything for the public back in return. They are betraying us in favor those who give them campaign contributions, understandable, but ultimately unacceptable to me.
Sadly I am a poor public speaker, passionate but unable to congeal my arguments into cohesive form. Luckily for me there are very good speaker who eloquently make my case for me such as Larry Lessig. Below is his speech at the TED conference, about eighteen minutes long and very well done. He doesn’t cover all my arguments, but he does make a nice case and he explains why we can’t just trust the government to fix this mess. His point about having everyone working against the law because the law is just being an ass here is a very good one.
I feel that the inability of the law to apply common sense to copyright is damaging the United States and it will only get worse. I should mention the Electronic Freedom Foundation here, it is one of the organizations I give money to. Give them a look as well. I also post my photos on Flickr and all content on this site under a Creative Commons license and encourage people to do the same. The public domain belongs to all of us, it is our culture, don’t let it slip its loss stifle our nations voice.
We will beat our fans until we have no fans left. That seems to be the motto of lawyers for Twentieth Century Fox Television who have put a stop to licensed Buffy the Vampire Slayer sing-a-longs being held by fans around the country. It is more important for them to stifle anything that they can’t squeeze for nickel then it is for them to keep a healthy fan population. I wish them well in obscurity. Morons.