A couple months ago, or whenever it was, sometime in the past, I posted a discussion where I claimed that, from a moral/ethical standpoint, the workings of libraries and internet piracy was the same.

Of course, pretty much everyone went nuts over that, which was expected. Out of that discussion, however, came and end to the discussion. It was pointed out there is a difference, and that difference is permission. Libraries have permission to do what they do, and this permission is given by the publishers or the authors, anyway someone who is in the position to give permission. And I conceded defeat then, as I do now.

The point of bringing that discussion up is to say that the general view of writers everywhere (and I don't think it's radical to extend this conclusion that far, even though only a small portion of writers worldwide took part in the discussion) is that intellectual property should be protected. Copyrights should be protected. The rights of the author should be protected. I think we can all agree on that, right? Taking something without permission is wrong. Everyone agrees, right?

Assuming the answer to that last question is "yes", then let me continue. Because I say yes to that question too, it is wrong, and I claim no moral high ground here. And standing up for intellectual property is a good thing...

And then I look over to the left side of Crimespace's homepage and see the videos section. Which leads me to Youtube. Youtube is a place for people to upload their videos and share them with others. So if I videotape my friend performing some crazy stunt on his bicycle and then post the video on Youtube, or a similar site, then that is okay. I am using Youtube for what it was created for. I own the rights to that video, and by posting it on Youtube I am giving others permission to share it. That's what I want them to do.

The same goes for book trailers that people post here. The video is theirs, or they at least have permission (presumably) from whoever does own the copyright to said video, to post it here. So I do not claim that anything is wrong with having a video section at Youtube. But what else can you find on Youtube?

On Youtube, I can watch clips of a recent Presidential Debate, hosted by a TV network. I can watch an entire stand up performance from Jerry Seinfeld. I can watch clips from last night's episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. I can watch entire episodes of Taiwanese dramas on Youtube. I can watch clips from the latest episode of The Wire.

Are those videos posted by the copyright holders, the Networks, or the publisher of a DVD? In most cases, no. Someone had a copy of Eddie Izzard's Dressed to Kill, and he ripped it onto his computer, broke it up into sections, and posted it on Youtube. Maybe someone Tivo'ed that episode of Conan O'Brien and posted it on Youtube. You get the idea.

Now, to bring this all together. We agree that copyright law should be upheld. Yet many of us (including myself--I don't want you to think I consider myself morally superior, because I don't) post videos from Youtube to which we do not have permission on our personal blogs/websites. And no one says this is wrong.

Why not? Taking a picture off the internet that you don't have permission to use and putting it on your site is wrong, yet it happens all the time. It's the same for copyrighted Youtube videos (or copyrighted videos from any other place).

There is hypocrisy going on here. Unless there is something I am missing, which is why I post this here. And if I am right, if we are being hypocrites, then why? Why are stealing videos okay, but it's not okay to steal anything else?

It doesn't hurt anyone maybe. Heck, it might be good publicity. Why have so many copyrighted videos been left up. Sure, many are deleted for copyright violation complaints (the recent Tom Cruise Scientology video for instance). But ,many more have been left. Perhaps because the copyright holders have given up, since they can't feasibly monitor the entire internet, and maybe Youtube is actually helping their business.

Me, I think copyright law is in need of an overhaul. I think copyrights should expire the way patents do, and I think you should have to manually renew those copyrights. I think that it should not cost anything to renew a copyright. The entire issue of intellectual property is up in the air right now, given the changes that are taking place or beginning to take place in the field of business, with the internet, really with the way we do everything.

So yes, I know I am courting controversy here, but that is the point. We need to discuss this. There are a lot of things we do these days that are wrong. Even Disney took most of its movie ideas from fairy tales or other sources.

What do you guys think? Do you have some convenient excuse why uploading videos you don't have permission to use is okay? Fair Use, you say? Fair Use doesn't hold up in court unless the big corporations are claiming it. Fair Use, is a legal thing, but I'm talking about morals and ethics here. Fair Use is a cop out in such a discussion, as it gives legitimacy to using someone's work without their permission.

So what else have you got? Or can we just man up and admit that we're hypocrites (those of us who do upload videos we don't have permission to use, not those who don't) and say, hey we need to look at this issue closer and come to a real conclusion about intellectual property in this new age where everything is open and free (whether is should be or not).

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First of all, copyrights do expire. After a certain period (70 years?), written works become public domain unless the copyright is renewed. You can go here and download several lifetimes' worth of reading material for free.

If someone still owns the copyright to something, though, it's illegal to copy it without permission. It's illegal, immoral, and unethical. But, I suppose it's up to the copyright holder to decide whether an instance of infringement is worth going to court over. In most cases, I would guess, it's not.
Yes, copyrights do expire. I never said they didn't. I said copyrights should expire the way patents do, meaning sooner. I believe it's life of the author plus however many years after. Patents last for something like 7 years, anyway a much shorter period. Yes, I know about Gutenberg. It publishes works in the public domain. I believe many more works should enter the public domain, works that are no longer viable to the owners. That's why copyright periods should be shortened. Most works do not survive for 100 years, yet it's at least that long before a work can enter the public domain. If people are forced to renew their copyrights earlier, say, while they're still alive, then many more works would enter the public domain because many would not renew these copyrights.

But that is not the meat of my discussion. The discussion is about posting videos we do not have permission to use, and why do so many people do it and yet speak out against other forms of copyright violation. You've just restated what I had already said and what we all already know.
The discussion is about posting videos we do not have permission to use, and why do so many people do it and yet speak out against other forms of copyright violation.

It's the same thing, John. It's illegal, same as a school teacher Xeroxing an excerpt from a text book to share with her class. If anyone is saying it's okay, then s/he is misinformed.

It's not likely the Copyright Police are going to bust in and wrestle anyone to the ground for a casual infringement; let your conscience be your guide. But, for those of us interested in making a living from copyrighted material (specifically books), sharing through electronic media is a huge concern--something we're forced to deal with as better ebook hardware and other technological advances emerge.
Well, like most laws, someone has to complain. Someon has to call it in. YouTube made a big public statement about taking down copyrighted material they didn't have the rights to and they probably took some down. I'm sure it went right up again somewhere else, that's something else. Probably, John's right, most of what's up there is seen as good publicity, or the lawyers haven't gotten to it yet. Eddie Izard may not Google his name every day.

copyright, patent and trademark. Maybe they all need to be overhauled, I don't know. I know there are very few products out there, no matter how old, that I can just start manufacturing myself.

Now, about books, I doubt that the fact many are still under copyright is what's keeping them from people.

Certainly all this stuff is in flux and it seems there's a long way to go.
I agree that intellectual property needs to be looked at again. Traditionally, if another physical copy of something is made, then it's piracy. But with the internet, our definitions of everything needs to change. If I download a song to my computer, is that a physical copy? You could argue either side, and that's something that will need to be argued in the future.


Another thing is the whole Youtube thing. If I post a video on my blog, am I using it commercially? If the video generates interest in my blog and my blog leads people to check out and purchase books I've written, then is the video posted being used commercially? That's something else that is not been defined yet, and with that there is an issue even with Creative Commons, since CC doesn't address this issue either. I may think I am using something in a noncommercial way, but someone else could argue otherwise.

All this and more needs to be figured out, but I guess what I am saying with this discussion is that:

1. Just saying it's illegal, while true, will not get us anywhere.

2. If we think the law is so important, then we need to follow it in all circumstances, not just where it is convenient. It seems no one care about copyright until it affects the bottom line. I shouldn't say no one, but at least it isn't "news" until it does.

3. If we're don't think it's a big deal, then how are we going to deal with the situation? Like Jude said, the Copyright Police are probably not going to come down on us, so don't worry about it too much. Those who have a problem with breaking the law should just not do it. (This is my interpretation of Jude's words. Jude may or may not agree with said interpretation). So if we say that the individual must decide for himself, then how can we say you shouldn't steal music to someone just because their conscience has led them in a way different from our own way? And then, how can we protect the rights of authors (of any creative work, not just writing)?

It's a complex issue and it needs to be sorted out. So, let's start sorting now.
Availability on the Internet certainly changes things. Many, many people who would never consider walking into a store and shoplifting a CD, DVD or piece of software will happily download or copy it. sometimes they even justify it to themselves.

The moral issue here is a big one. I always wonder how big a deterrent the fear of getting caught is - as opposed to simply the idea that something is "wrong." Now, of course, "wrong" and "illegal" are different. There were plenty of activities that were illegal that needed to be challenged and made legal, like having a drink in a bar. there are still some things that are illegal that need to be challenged.

The problem is the slippery slope. your number #3 - sure we think not getting paid for our work is a big problem, but how to deal with it? I'm surprised that from the very beginning music companies never asked internet service providors for a cut. File sharing and downloading simply couldn't happen without an internet connection.
Probably just being short-sighted. Look at the WGA strike. I agree with the principles they're fighting for, but seriously, why is this just now an issue? Shouldn't these writers have negotiated this years ago? It's not like the internet is new.

"there are still some things that are illegal that need to be challenged."--Agreed.
They had to wait till the last contract they signed expired. The last time the writers guild went on strike in the early 80's it was over residuals for video tapes. These things always happen one at a time, things evolve.

Someday maybe other crew members will fight for residuals. I've never understood why directors of photography or editors don't get residuals.
Some dissemination of material serves as advertising. You could argue that the Seinfeld clip will send people to watching the show. Getting a book from the library may send the reader to a bookstore for more. Not nearly as likely, I'd say, but libraries do serve a function for authors who are not well known. Copyright (generally taken out by the publisher) protects the book against plagiarism. Taking material from the book and reselling it is illegal. Even small quotations must be acknowledged. I note that one of the current romance authors is in deep trouble for copying from non-fiction sources without quoting and identifying the source.
Yeah, the clips are good for publicity/advertising/marketing. I think Fair Use should play a larger role than it really does.

"Copyright (generally taken out by the publisher)"--I don't understand this. Once you write something it is automatically copyrighted, so why does a publisher have to copyright it again?
I think most of the general public is woefully uneducated when it comes to copyright issues. There are a bunch of people who simply don't know that they shouldn't be taking copyrighted material and posting it for anyone to take for free. There are also folks out there who know it's wrong but don't care and do it anyway.

I think part of the reason companies don't make a bigger noise about it is that if they acknowledge it's happening and don't do anything about it, it can be construed in court as giving tacit permission for people to take the copyrighted material and do whatever they want with it, because the company knew and did nothing. They in essence lose their rights to sue. If they acknowledge that it's happening, they have to go after every infraction in order to protect their copyright. That's an awful lot of money and legal effort to go to, due to the large number of people doing it. It pretty much has to be something major for them to do anything about it, like someone taking things like music or images that identify a particular company or program and using them in a way that defames the original.

You can bet someone at those companies probably does keep track of what's out there. They just don't tend to make a big deal about it unless it's damaging to their company not to do so.
I think another part of the reason is that some of these companies do it themselves.

The RIAA stands in contrast to your (and probably everyone's) logic. They're going after individuals, sometimes college students, sometimes children...but they don't go after the sites that host a lot of file sharing. These sites are easy to find, yet the RIAA doesn't go after them. What's with that? Of course, even if they did, there are still a lot of sites that are hosted in other countries so there's nothing the RIAA can do about that stuff.

I agree that the general public is not conscious of any wrongdoing. With the internet and all the changes it has brought/is bringing, there isn't much that isn't some kind of copyright violation.

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