Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill
policy-making, technical standards development, and technological
innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we
know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property
conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of
copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying
and the law, and more.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.
Boingboing and Kottke both pointed to a piece on the99percent.com by Francis Ford Coppola. As you'd expect of someone with that long a career he has a lot to say, but for Copyfight purposes let's focus on his discussion of copying, which comes off his response to the question about developing one's own style.
He notes Balzac's happy response to learning that someone had copied Balzac's writing and talks about how people start by stealing (or copying, in the art world) from the masters. Balzac, and Coppola, clearly care more about their legacy than the money they make right now. Coppola finances all his films himself and makes his actual money in the wine business. From this he branches off to talk about how modern our system of directly compensating artists is, and says "who says artists have to make money?"
Now on the one hand I agree with him - our current models are a recent blip on the historical radar. And it's true that creative people can keep their day jobs to pay for doing art that they love. Coppola also points to the patron model but as I mentioned when discussing Interfictions I don't think the model scales very well.
The other problem I have with Coppola's idea of disconnecting cinema - or other arts - from the idea of making money is that the ability to make a living doing one's art has enormous advantages. For one thing, it lures people. We all benefit from there being more art and though there are plenty of creators who will continue to create even when they have no hope of making a living at it there will be excellent creative people of all sorts who will be disappointed, hindered, or actively discouraged from pursuing their art by an inability to make a living at it.
Even if they are not completely turned off, there is a great deal of art that cannot be made part time, after hours, outside a work schedule, or under constant interruption. Much great art comes from the ability of a creator to lock herself away for an extended period of time and really focus on the creative work. Creative work is hard work, too. One of the greatest legacies of President Kennedy was his recognition that arts are worthy of support in the national sphere and the creation of the National Endowment. We live richer lives as a result, though I can't point to hard statistics to back that assertion up.
And likewise, my gut feeling tells me that we cannot simply dismiss the idea of artists making money from their art, no matter how much I respect Coppola and what he has done/is doing.
Whether or not Guetta will also be able to work something out remains in doubt. As Bonner describes, the Guetta case differs from the Fairey one in some significant areas, not least of which is the fact that Fairey's poster made the photo he used iconic where Guetta has taken an already iconic photo (of the rap group Run DMC) and used it without any credit back to the original. The shooter of that original, Glen E. Friedman, happens to have worked with Fairey in the past but that's about all the connection there is.
Bonner also points out that Fairey made such substantial change to the original photo that even the AP photographer who took it didn't recognize his own work for months; Guetta's changes are much less significant, and they're being made to a photograph that has been used and sold on its own for years prior to its appropriation. It's a whole other ballgame from the Fair Use perspective, which is probably how it should be.
(Image: Sean Bonner from a Times of India video still.)
The SG is the person appointed to argue the government's side in cases before the US Supreme Court, as well as the usual level of supervision and direction of cases you'd see in a high-level appointment. The SG rarely sets policy but by virtue of how cases are argued and in which cases amicus briefs are filed, the SG can be a powerful voice for shaping policy.
While I'm sure Verilli will have plenty of matters to argue during his term in office besides intellectual property, I find myself incredulously wondering why Obama seems unable to find any worthy prosecutors outside the RIAA's dogpen to appoint. Surely the US legal community contains scholars and experienced attorneys willing and qualified to take on the top jobs in the DoJ. Far be it from me to suggest that these appointments could be influenced by such trivial matters as who is giving the most money to whom in which political campaigns.
I thought I had blogged about this case years ago when I first heard about the Canadian recording artists who had grown frustrated with trying to get their version of the Cartel to pay up on owed royalties. But I can't find it, nor can Google, so there you are.
This being a pre-trial settlement, of course, the Cartel haven't admitted to anything in the legal sense. It may be argued that they decided paying out CAD 45 million was cheaper than continuing to fight and stall. It was almost certainly cheaper than getting a guilty verdict in a court situation that might have exposed them to punitive damages.
Geist also notes that the settlement involves setting up a new system that will, one hopes, get the artists paid more promptly. And, one also hopes, without the need for a multi-year class-action lawsuit threat in the future.
A list that is a mere compilation is generally not copyrightable. However, various specialized lists can be copyrighted either by virtue of their arrangement (e.g. lists of court cases) or by virtue of their unusual content.
I had thought that the only copy of the List was at the Holocaust Museum in Israel. It turns out that another List had been found and the question at hand is whether the person in possession of that List may publish or sell it, or whether it rightfully belongs to Schindler's heir, as one of his possessions. The Court's decision turns on questions of different varieties of copyright law (common law vs federal) and whether any rights to publication carry with possession of the list, which it seems clear they do not.