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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I don't know about stuff with YouTube, but a lot of sites are hosted by overseas companies in places where they can't be touched by the US. And there are a number of sites that allow file sharing that will simply drop their site and set up again under a new name at a new url when they're found out, so ultimately they're very, very hard to shut down.
I think most people see YouTube as a promotional vehicle. Record companies are posting music videos there. I have noted that some have the blog code removed and do not permit external hosting, so they have a choice about that. If they choose to allow the code to be available and allow blog hosting, then aren't they saying it's okay?

It's been an issue for decades, just in different forms. I know technically, copyright applies to reproducing materials 'in whole or in part' but in my own head I split that out a bit. If I made a direct copy of a cd and give it to someone, they have no incentive to buy that cd. If I make a mixed cd with my favourite songs from 12 or more cds, then I have not given anyone a whole product, and if they like some of that music they'll be inclined to purchase those cds.

Is it "right"? No. But I think part of the issue is that every form of entertainment realizes how much it has to compete to stay alive now. If I made a book trailer and people wanted to post that all over, I'd be thrilled (hopefully posting it with positive commentary) because it's getting my book more exposure. That's the whole point.

From a certain point of view, you could look at any reference to another product - a review, a general endorsement on your blog - as a potential commercial gain (especially for us authors). That alone can't be the standard. People hit my blog searching for other authors all the time. I don't blog about them or link to them with that in mind, but I've noticed that's what happens.
Quite simply, it is wrong, it is a breach of copyright laws. Which is why Viacom instituted legal proceedings last year against Google, the holding company of Youtube for $1 Billion. What will become of that lawsuit and whether it will impact the current law remains to be seen, but it's interesting that on the one hand - in the WGA strike - Viacom (and the other conglomerates) claim they can't pay residuals on new media because there's no way of quantifying income, when they're quite happy to quantify it as a billion bucks when it suits them.
Well, here's what I don't get. Why is it so different for Youtube etc. when authors write books that people read aloud or lend to others? As much as I generally support the writers on strike, it stands as another example (to me) of how writers in pretty much every other field have more rights than authors do.

And don't twist that to say I think that people shouldn't lend books or read them aloud. I'm just saying that when I pop a dvd or video in, it reminds me I can't use it for a public showing because that's an infringement on copyright. But no such policy exists with books. It's still intellectual property, still copyrighted property, but the form seems to nullify the significance. If someone lends a person my book, will they be likely to go buy it? No.

I see music videos on Youtube and go buy cds, and that I see as a big difference. My cousin is a country music singer and posts his own videos on Youtube. A lot of people see it as free advertising, more effective than television, and you can't buy the exposure. In a manner of speaking, not unlike radio, except with radio artists get paid royalty rights every time their music is played.
writers in pretty much every other field have more rights than authors do.

well, you know, rights aren't given away for free, people have to fight for them. The movie (and TV) business is a lot different, it really is more social, more collaborative and lends itself a lot more easily to the idea of collective bargaining. Plus, the whole history of writers in Hollywood has been confrontational. The best bookon the subject, I think, is 'The Inquisition in Hollywood," which is mostly about the Hollywood Ten (the nine writers and one director who went to jail) but also has a terrific history of writers in Hollywood. Remember, the whole movie business was well-established and very profitable before there was any need for writers - which only happened with sound and the need for dialogue.

I find it interesting, the way movie and TV writers still fall in an odd in-between state, not quite below-the-line crew (but often hired and fired like it) and not quite above-the-line.

Still, I've had a couple screenplays produced and a couple novels published and for me, there's no comparison - writing books is a way better way to be a writer. There are a few writers in movies and TV that may be a little more than 'crew' (and I don't want to disparage crew at all, I really don't understand why they don't keep getting paid forever like writers want to) but for the most part, it's not really "writing" the way writing a book is.
I agree about fighting for them.

Frankly, that's what irritates me about all these author groups so anxious to take our money. They'll argue to the death over the specifics of how a book is to be published so that it can be approved for their awards, but they do nothing to protect authors - to advocate that we get paid our advances within a reasonable time of signing our contracts, to protect us against returns when the reason is a printing or production problem, to stand up against publishers pressuring us to spend all of our money on promotion.

I mean, if I'm being told to spend all my money on promotion, then this is a hobby, and why the hell shouldn't I just post the book on my website or blog? I'm already giving it away.

But for every author who dares even think it, there are twenty more who'd do just about anything for that publishing contract, and lord knows, we can't be so difficult that we actually ask to be treated fairly.
I don't download music or films ever. And if someone copies a CD for me then I make a point of going out and buying a CD for every copied CD I'm given. If I like that particular artist, I will buy one of theirs, if not...well, I buy someone else's.

I do, however, have on my Crimespace site some youtube music videos. Like Sandra, I see it as a promotional thing, as, it would appear, do the many many bands who post one or two tracks either there or to their Myspace...errrr...spaces. Youtube is generally my first port of call if someone mentions a band I don't know. If I watch a video of a band that I don't know and I like it, I will go out and buy the CD. I watched every single Black Rebel Motorcycle Club video there is on there , still bought all their albums AND went to see them live. It's not an either/or thing. It's an "Oh yes, I really like this, I'll buy the CD" thing.

It's like having a sample chapter up on a website. Or an author reading a chapter on video.

And as for anyone who's prepared to watch a whole hour long show posted in ten minute segments on a tiny weeny little screen...well, hell mend them, they're hardly likely to go out and buy the DVD. That would be just like using the Amazon 'search inside this book' thing to read the entire book. I'm sure it's done but anyone who can be arsed to do that has more time on their hands than is right :o)
I don't think there's hypocrisy in it so much as a shifting of parameters with regard to what's acceptable. Downloading music, for example. If someone is interested to hear a band and downloads the album, obviously that's illegal. But it's not equivalent to stealing: no product 'disappears' from the shelves, for example, which is potentially far more harmful. And it doesn't mean the company has lost money, because that someone might not have bothered paying for it. They are getting something for nothing, true, but on the other hand - from their point of view - they're also avoiding getting nothing for something. If they buy the cd and don't like it, they can't take it back on that basis. If they do like it, they might buy that cd anyway, buy the back catalogue, or invest in the band some other way. I've found bands I love that way, and I've avoided bands I dislike. Although it might technically be illegal, I don't think it's necessarily wrong for the customer to bypass the seller's preferred method in order to check if they really want the goods.

A while ago, Vincent directed me towards this article:


It makes a good case for piracy being a kind of 'progressive taxation': that less successful artists have more to gain from piracy than fear, whereas the more popular and well-known you become, the larger the 'cut' you have to pay. Once again, that doesn't make it legal or even necessarily right, but it's worth bearing in mind that a person reading/watching/listening to your product for free is potentially far more useful than it resting in total obscurity.

When it comes to Youtube, there's a sourced quote on the Wiki page that says:

"While lawyers are demanding filtering technology, many Hollywood execs actually enjoy the fact that YouTube only takes down clips when they request it. "If I found part of a successful show up on YouTube today, I'd probably pull it down immediately .... If I had a show that wasn't doing so well in the ratings and could use the promotion, I wouldn't be in a rush to do that."

Which obviously supports the above. In some ways, they can't have their cake and eat it. If it's okay for someone to breach copyright when it suits the company, doesn't the company lose the moral high ground somewhat?
It is illegal and unethical to copy and reproduce copyrighted materials on YouTube, just as it is illegal to "borrow" a musician's song without his or her permission to use on your trailer,or copy anything else without the permission of its creator. There are a few places you can get royalty free, donated material that is usable through what is called a creative commons license, which gives you permission to use the material as long as you do not change it and you give the artist or musician credit.

This is the permission and explanation given by Morguefile, one such site, and a wonderful place to find photos to use in your trailer.

"Morguefile, where photo reference lives.
This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits. "

Many of the contributors ask that you let them know where you use their pictures. That is only fair.

I know of the publisher of one small press who thought it was perfectly all right to use Bob Seger's music on her Book Trailer because he would never know. That whole "under the radar" philosophy never made sense. Why take the chance, even if it were not ethically wrong? Get permission, or get something else.

YouTube is great in that it is almost an archive very similar to a library online, but the abuses will, eventually, get it shut down. I can't say that we only watch or listen noncopyrighted material from YouTube, but I will say this. Everything my husband and I submit to YouTube is either created from materials from a Creative Commons licensed site OR we have permissions. The composite is our own.

How can we expect anyone to respect OUR copyrights if we copy other person's materials and post them inappropriately? Not that I avert my eyes. :X
I disagree that Youtube will eventually be shut down. This is something that the big businesses are going to have to adapt to, not the other way around. Internet piracy in all its forms, whether you like it or not, is here to stay. Those who don't find a good way to adapt to it will be swallowed up by it.
I'm a total hypocrite. I hope it stays up forever. It was down for about two hours recently and my husband went through withdrawal thinking he would have to live without his only source for Freddy and the Dreamers. I have no idea whether those pieces are still under copyright or not but it was a brighter world when they came back.

We don't post copyrighted materials because we think it would be wrong for us. We aren't anyone else's conscience, just our own.
It's a tricky one, but perhaps not the same argument as with books.

Libraries pay for the books, and I think pay a small fee to the publisher when taken out (I think - I'll tell you when my first royalties cheque arrives!). In terms of internet piracy of books, the amount of people who will read a book they have downloaded onto their computer are miniscule. Similarly, the amount of people who will print it off to read are smaller, as it would cost too much in terms of paper.

In relation to Youtube, how much different is it from someone who lends a DVD? Youtube keep on amending the site so that people cannot keep the videos, although the software writers are always playing catchup, so what is the difference? Although some people will watch Eddie Izzard on Youtube and not buy the DVD, that will be outweighed by the people who might go onto buy the actual DVD, or will tell someone else how good it is, so Youtube is good marketing.

Applying the same argument to books, readers are the worst people of all for breaching copyright. How many people haven't borrowed a book from a friend, or lent a book to a friend, or spent many happy hours browsing the second-hand book stalls. I know that my book has been lent by my work colleagues, and it is hard not to say, "why didn't they buy it?" But on the other hand, if they liked my first, they might go onto buy my second. And thinking about it, most of the books I read are second-hand, as someone runs a charity book stall at my work place. So is lending a book to a friend much different from posting a video on Youtube? Only in terms of degree.

The big risks for books is if e-book machines become the norm, rather than paper. Then the book industry will face the same challenges as the music industry.

So Youtube? It's okay, provided the clips are still of low quality and can't be kept for transfer. If it ever becomes TV quality and will allow someone to watch, for example, a full uninterrupted programme, not good.


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