Archive for the ‘copyright’ Category

RiP: A Remix Manifesto in the tradition of mainfestos past

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I recently got a chance to check out RiP: A REMIX MANIFESTO, the Canadian documentary that takes a look at copyright (and the mashup artist Girl Talk) in a kind of method way- the producers, EYESTEELFILM, and director, Brett Gaylor decided that since the costs of licensing all the expensive music in the film would be prohibitive, and since the film was about these costs, it would essentially be fair use to go ahead and use whatever they wanted (including network footage, usually very expensive) and just see what happens.

It’s a pretty interesting concept, and though the film does paint the issue in overly black and white terms (the CopyRIGHT vs. the Copy LEFT), by the end, Gaylor has raised some interesting issues about the state of copyright, though I’m not sure many of them are answered. Hope to have a discussion with one of the producers which will be here soon.

It’s definitely worth seeing especially if you enjoy the Girl Talk phenomenon- I met him a few weeks ago at a show and was impressed- he’s totally into giving a great performance- which is all the more remarkable given that his performance is pushing some buttons. And, in keeping with the mashup philosophy, if you don’t like the film (or especially if you do) you can make your own version at OpenSourceCinema.

Remix, Reuse: New Rights Models at Silverdocs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The internet has made copyright issues complicated enough for filmmakers wanting to make money distributing their films. For documentary filmmakers, the issues around fair use and copyright have always been a counterbalance to their own impulse to protect their creative work. At SILVERDOCS this past weekend, panelists tried to sort out some of the emerging issues in the complicated arena of copyright law.

One issue that emerged is the challenge to actually get proper licences for works that because of digital duplication are now often difficult to trace to a legal source. USC School of Law Professor Jack Lerner suggested that a more streamlined version of copyright law that treated film and music in a unified way might be more effective for digital media.

Digital media could be an amazing resource tool if there were a way to digitize the many obscure, orphan, or rare film prints to create a kind of super media library. In a way, this seems like a natural project for the ever-expanding internet. However, as panelist Mark Lemmons of Thought Equity Motion suggested, it is unclear how it could be financed, given that the current paradigm seems to be internet=free (or at least, hard to monetize).

Cost-benefit protections

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

The folks over at TechDirt responded today to the discussion at Cato Unbound regarding copywrite that I discussed earlier. In their incredulous reaction to the idea that copyright is still viable (or at least to the article by Doug Lichtman, a law professor at UCLA on the subject), they offer their own “helpful hints” for saving the movie business.

What’s interesting about these suggestions is that they suggest that even the savviest tech types are still under the impression that theatrical revenues are either particularly significant for most releases or that increasing theatrical revenue (which tends to be costly) would compare to the much greater revenues that stand to be lost in home media sales.

Breakin' the LAW

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Are you a “criminal”? Or are you influenced by over-the-top rhetoric? Either way, you might want to head over to OpenSourceCinema where you can voice your opinions photographically.

HT: Agnes Varnum.

Politics II: Watermarkworld

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Tim Lee has posted his response to Rasmus Fleischer’s proposal to ditch copyright law at Cato Unbound, making the hardly strident but accurate point that copyright law is still functional outside the digital realm.

In that domain, a reader comments on my earlier post:

I think the general consensus among folk who study this stuff is that watermarking — and a variety of schemes have been floated for years now — isn’t really going to be that helpful. The large-scale distribution content firms worry about, as on p2p networks, typically involves skilled geeks who can strip away every form of watermark yet devised with minimal trouble, so watermarking won’t stop untraceable copies from getting into circulation there (all you need is one clean copy). On the other hand, you have small-fry casually sharing a song or DVD with a couple friends, who might leave the watermark in, but are unlikely to get on the copyright enforcement radar screen.

That has probably been true in the past, but as we go forward it’s possible a new model may emerge that will be more conducive to the watermark- that of audience profit participation. In an ad-based profit model, for example, one way of incentivizing tracking and data collection in general may be to let the viewers actually get paid (or rewarded in some way) for watching films.

The politcs of reproduction

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Digital distribution isn’t just a quandary for filmmakers or “the industry”- politicians are worried about it too. Just how copyright law can be maintained, transformed, or judged gratuitous is something that the Congress is grappling with (though unsurprisingly, not in a very productive way).

Over at think tank Cato’s Unbound, which operates in a kind of debate format, Rasmus Fleischer has posted his argument as to why the entire Copyright law is superfluous, essentially because in the digital age, all media is so easy to copy that it is not possible to protect works from being duplicated without payment.

Though this leaves out the issue of protection of the original work entirely, even at a basic digital level it seems to me it is possible to imbue works with some kind of authorship, though it is clear that the ease of copying files makes it difficult to prevent duplication.

Technology-wise, there seems to be a plan afoot to imbue source files with a digital watermark- so that the files could still be copied but where they came from would be reflected in their DNA. While serious pirates might work to get around such marking, the average person would not probably object- especially if the cost involved was either not direct to the consumer or came as part of some kind of subscription-based plan (the days of individual-download pricing do seem numbered).

Filmmakers may not see the value in copyright anymore. As Fleischer suggests, many forward-thinking indie filmmakers are moving to a community model for distribution and making money, an “added value” experience for viewers who can participate in more than just watching a film. One problem is that without protections, other people can make money off your film too, and if their distribution network is already established, they may shut you out of your own release.

Tim Lee will be rebutting the article tomorrow at Cato Unbound. Stay tuned.