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).