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Correcting The Copyright Quandary (Kinda) The Kindle Way

31/07/2014

incorrect-book-1-web

(c) & TM Berke Breathed

While everyone else is talking in circles, Amazon (via Kindle) has taken the first practical steps in solving the copyright quandary.

In a nutshell:

  1. Copyright exists to supply new ideas for the public at large to use freely.
  2. To encourage this, exclusive copyright is granted to creators[1] so they may, for a short period of time, have exclusive control over their creation and profit from it.[2]
  3. However, at the behest of large multi-national corporations, copyright has been extended to ridiculously long periods of time.  Characters, music, and works of art that should be in the public domain, free for all to use, are now locked up tighter that the proverbial frog’s alimentary canal.

Amazon’s 2-step solution:

First, Kindle Worlds.  Essentially authorized fan-fiction.  Creators can take certain existing licensed properties and write their own stories based on them.

So, you say?  Fans have been doing that for years — decades!

True, but now it’s authorized, meaning the writers of those works can legally sell them through Amazon and see royalties from them.[3]

Not the same thing as genuine public domain (there are restrictions and limitations) but it does allow people to spin off ideas from certain existing works.

Second, Kindle Unlimited.  Easiest way to describe this is Netflix for e-books.  Ya plops yer $9.99 down and you can read as many of 600,000 e-books as you can in a month.  Amazon shaves a micropayment off your $9.99 every time you access a title and drops it into the author’s account.

Technically you are not buying the books, you are buying access to them; in this sense it’s no different from an old fashion rental library.

The difference is that you don’t have to schelp down to said library to obtain / return borrowed material; it’s all just a double-click away.

Now, in fairness, not all creators are happy with this.  They view this as Amazon changing the rules of the game after the ball is in play.  They also worry — with some justification — that it might have a negative impact on their revenue stream.

They may be right, but there is also a certain historical inevitability to all this.  Thirty years ago a VHS video tape could cost anywhere from $35 upwards; today you can legally stream any movie you desire for just a fraction of that cost.[4]

Consumers want more + faster + cheaper.

That leaves the last part of the equation still unfulfilled:
How can one limit copyright and return works to the public domain where they belong, yet at the same time afford reasonable protection to individuals and business entities that have invested a lot of money in developing and exploiting those ideas?

I mean, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet re Disney’s abuse of copyright and believe a lot of their characters should be released into the wild, so to speak, but at the same time I don’t want the company crippled to the point where Disneyland closes or new Disney produced works aren’t released.

If I were king of the forest, I would create a few service mark just for this situation:  The Official Version ™.

To use Disney as an example, only they would be allowed to release Official Mickey Mouse ™ media and merchandise…

But anybody else could make a Mickey Mouse cartoon…

And have it look like Mickey…

And offer it for sale (or download)…

It just wouldn’t be the “official” version.

And we creators may know that term is meaningless in terms of creativity, that Disney the corporation never created one blessed thing but always hired artists and writers and composers to create it…

…but nonetheless, people keep flocking to Disneyland and buying Mickey Mouse T-shirts and eagerly downloading the movies and games as they become available.

That imprimatur carries an emotional weight to most consumers, and they’ll gladly pay for the real thing.

(Caveat:  There’s still a big Gordian knot to untangle re derivative rights — if I write an opera based on Mickey Mouse when does it go into the public domain?[5] — but that’s a relatively easy task compared to the challenge of revamping copyright fairly.)

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[1]  Which regardless of what the Supreme Court says, are human beings and not fictitious business entities.

[2]  A form of deficit financing:  Creator takes the risk but stands to benefit first & most if the idea takes off.

[3]  They’re splitting the royalties with the original rights holders, but hey, X% of anything is better than 100% of nada…

[4]  And ironically, big budget blockbusters have bigger & better box office than before, while independent and niche films that could never have won a large general release are finding – or rather, being found by — every member of their potential audience no matter how remotely located.

[5]  And if Disney is still in business when it does, can they then make a version using their Official Mickey Mouse ™ and copyright that?

 

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Those Who Live By The Copyright…

28/07/2014

wonder woman says have a wonderful birthday

Well, this is interesting…

Cory Doctorow reports on a new class action lawsuit aimed at Warner/Chappell music for using their entrenched position as a corporate bully to shakedown creators and demand illegal royalties for “Happy Birthday To You”, a song which has apparently been in the public domain for most of the 20th century.

Y’know, if you or I did something like this,
we would be thrown in jail in a heartbeat for fraud.
So much for corporations being people, eh?

Wonder Woman 
(c) & TM Warner Bros.
‘cuz if you’re gonna rub it in
RUB IT ALL THE WAY IN!

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I Know Who I’d Prefer To Ship Out Of The Country…

10/07/2014

refugees1

It has been pointed out that outrage is no good if it does not point to a viable solution.  For those who might be interested in helping out by taking in children who are in need of foster care, we present the following resources:

http://scffaa.org

http://www.childhelp.org/programs/entry/california-childhelp-foster-family-and-adoption-agency/

http://adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information/california

http://californiacasa.org

http://www.casala.org

Even if one can not be a full time foster parent or an adoptive parent, one can be a child advocate and help out in some way.  Like the story of the starfish on the beach, it may not be possible to help them all, but it will mean everything to the ones who can be helped.

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Unclear On The Concept

8/07/2014

Holly Makes Jesus Sad1

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And As The Snake Whips Around…

8/07/2014

…to bite Hobby Lobby and SCOTUS on the ass…

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt

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The Muddled Morality Of Sergio Leone

6/07/2014

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

TGTB&TU soundtrack a

Better known to American audiences as The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, this iconic Italian Western frequently scores high on “best of” lists: Sergio Leone’s best film[1], the best of the Dollar a.k.a. “Man With No Name”[2] series, the best spaghetti Western, and (more rarely) the best Western ever.

It is a grand, entertaining epic, a significant notch up in scale from the previous films in the series[3]. It is almost a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, set in a landscape of bleak lifeless deserts and abandoned blasted and burned out cities destroyed by war.

The restored version is currently streaming on Netflix, returning about 14 minutes of previously deleted footage[4] but only serving to make an already meandering story even more meandering. No new or vital story points are revealed, though Eli Wallach’s Tuco character certainly benefits the most from the fleshing out.

And that’s what makes The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly so fascinating…and muddled.[5]

Read the rest of this article »

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Addendum to “Lauren’s Choice”

30/06/2014

I’ve been asked, “But what about adoption for unwanted children?”

To that I say:

Yes!
Yes!
Yes!
and even more
YES!!!
PLEASE!!!

That is the best, most humane solution to the problem of a woman’s unwanted pregnancy.  It’s a perfect example of “pony up”.  Give that child a stable, loving home.  Raise it to its full potential.  Personally assume that responsibility.

A blessing for the child
A blessing for the parent
A blessing for the society

GO FOR IT!

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Lauren’s Choice

30/06/2014

Cartoonist Lauren Weinstein was told that the child she was carrying had a high (1-in-4) chance of carrying the cystic fibrosis gene to such an extreme degree that it might require a lung transplant before age 5.  Weinstein tells the story of her nerve-wracking three week wait to find out if this would be the case in her story “Carriers” (parts one / two / three / four / five).

Major Spoiler:  
It has a happy ending and
her daughter was born
disease free.

laurenstroy

Many reading her story will rejoice, but say to themselves,
“If it had been me, I would have never even thought of terminating my pregnancy.”

Good for you.

Seriously.

I mean that.

I want you to have a choice.

Just like I want Lauren to have a choice.

Just like I want billions of other women to have a choice.

Because nobody knows what is best for a woman and the pregnancy she is carrying other than that woman herself.

She gets to make her own decisions.

Just as you get to make your own decisions.

She’s certainly entitled to seek medical advice and/or moral support from others, but in the end, she is the one who has to either see it through to a live birth or terminate it.

It is, quite simply and quite literally,

NOBODY
ELSE’S
FUCKING
BUSINESS

And I drop the f-bomb very deliberately & in its sexual context to get the point across:

Not your uterus,
not your problem,
not your responsibility,
most certainly not your business,
not now,
not ever.

If you’re serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in the world today, see to it that birth control is reliable, available, and inexpensive (free would be best; we can pay for it with the money we would otherwise spend incarcerating unwanted/abused/neglected children who grow up to be addicts and/or felons).

See to it that sex education is universal, pragmatic, sensible, and easy to understand.  Wishful thinking, no matter how devoutly inspired, does not trump science or the realities of human nature.  Be prepared for and compassionate to people who make messy mistakes; there but for the grace of God…

See to it that no mother ever has to worry about affording a safe place to raise her child, or how she will feed her child, or pay for her child’s health care, or her child’s education (you can slice a fraction off the defense budget for this; we can somehow squeak by with only 999 new jet fighters instead of 1,000).

Pony up…

…or shut up.

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thanx to
Tom Spurgeon,
The Comics Reporter,
for the tip off

 

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The Anti-Abortionist Credo

30/06/2014

anti-abortionist credo

I forbid you to have sex without MY permission.

I forbid you to know anything about birth control.

I certainly won’t pay for your sex education.

If you defy ME and have sex anyway,
then I want you to get pregnant / catch the clap (or better yet, AIDS!).

I forbid you to have an abortion.

I will judge you and call you a murderer if you do.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term
even if the child will be born with a fatal condition.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term
even if you already have a house full of children and
you are stretched to the breaking point.

I demand you spend 18 years of
your life (minimum!) taking care of this child.

I will not help you.

I will not offer any financial subsistence.

I will not lift a finger or spend a dime of MY money to help you provide
food / lodging / medical care / education for the child.

I demand you suffer for your sins.

However, you may not judge ME.

Because just by saying I oppose abortion,
just by condemning you for your choices,
I am pure and holy.

(Did I miss anything?
Did I not summarize our
position accurately?)

 

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Thinkage

12/06/2014

“When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.” — Bob Herbert, “Losing Our Way”

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