Thursday, May 19, 2011

who enforces the rights of artists?

Many good points, but I don't like the assumptions you are making as a starting point.

I assume that most people are honest and would, especially if they recognize it, act honestly.
That's my starting point.  Then I assume that there are dishonest people or downright thieves. My theory is that the dishonest will go to any means to take what they are going to try to take. That would include removing the copyright.  The honest would not do that, unless they have already paid for the article. For the most part, I believe there are way more honest than dishonest people.

wrt: images.
I agree in principle that if a business (like Walgreens) wants to voluntarily, as a business practice, enforce a policy that if there is a copyright, they should ask for some form of ID.  But the mechanism they use, having us show a letter that is signed, seems a bit spotty, and wouldn't have a uniform enforcement. One place might take that, others might not even ask, and yet again others might need more proof.

Do you know if this is a government mandate, or simply a practice that most photo businesses use because they believe it is the right thing to do?  I choose to disagree with the policy if it is a government mandate, but will be glad to go along with it if it is a policy of any individual business (it's their business alone). Government has no business sticking their nose into this in this form. However, if an individual feels they are wronged, they should be able to take recourse as with any case of theft of tangible assets.

Here's an idea: I would be more supportive of this idea, IF, and only if, when I upload the image to their web site, that they would IMMEDIATELY inform me that the image is copyrighted, and that I will need proof that I own the copyright, or that I have permission from the owner.  Then when I'm building my shopping cart online, I can decide then and there that I need to either remove it from the cart (if I don't have permission) or go get the permission.  Yet they didn't do that, they only informed us when we showed up at the store: LAME.

Here is an example of my objection to the base idea: Let's say I am a small business want-to-be. I want to start up a photo printing service. I borrow and invest into printing equipment. I advertise. I begin to get customers.  Now then, Big Government tells me I have to invest way more into specialised software to make sure digital copyrights aren't infringed... Ha -  That added overhead puts me out of business. I know this is an simplified example, but it's this kind of soft tyranny that adds up over time, and becomes onerous. A little tyranny here and a little tyranny there, and pretty soon all our freedoms are basically gone. I want the freedom to have a simple business that prints photos. I am only the middle man.

There are other examples where it is less clear. Weapons manufacturers came to mind. You understand that analogy.

But I have to go back to my point that I am assuming that most people are honest, and the few that are not are the exception rather than the rule. So if 1000 people print my photos, I'm assuming that 999 of them did so either because I told them they could, or because I gave it to them, or because I didn't copyright it, or because I sold it to them. The 1 that did not is the dishonest one. And that 'loss' that I suffer is not necessarily all that great. I can soak that up, and I can stomach it, because I much prefer society be free than secure.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" -- Benjamin Franklin

My point of including this quote is to say that I personally prefer liberty to security. If congress passes a law that forces every individual to check for digital signatures in every image that passes through our inbox, is shown on our screens, or that we in any way show or send to someone else, then we loose quite a bit of liberty (our time is worth something). And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't put it past Pelosi, Reid or Obama to pass such a law.

wrt: music...
There is a larger percentage of today's kids, for instance, who seem less cognizant that they are or are not authentically obtaining music that should be paid for. This is because they are not taught this by their parents for one, but more importantly, it is the computer that has made this happen the way it has happened.  In the old days you had to buy a physical object. Today you can copy. I've got this huge collection of LPs that I bought when I was young, and now it collects dust. Today the big record companies want us all to buy them again.  Well if we never bought them in the first place, then we should. Otherwise no.

One of the problems today is that the mechanisms for buying music are much more restrictive. I bought my daughter a bunch of music for her iPod, then a few months later, something went wrong with the computer, and it 'forgot' her music. We couldn't get that music back again. It happened twice.  So I ended up paying for the same songs over and over. That's flat out wrong. I miss the days when you bought a physical LP or CD. Then you'd still have it.
That's one reason why honest people bypass signatures (legitimately I might add).

So while I like the iPod, I don't like they scheme they have for determining you've bought something. There has to be something better (I still like CDs better). Jeez, you don't even get a receipt when you buy it, or at least not something that is easily used to restore your song if your computer or iPod crash.

"Freedom doesn't mean an absence of laws or regulations." - you are correct sir, but it's the enforcement of those laws that is the discriminating factor in our disagreement. I say we enforce ownership the same way we do for physical items. If someone steals my computer, I call the cops. If someone steals your art, you call the cops. How can it be otherwise, else the owner of abstract 'data' (not even on your own hard drive) has some sort of abstract ownership that spans the galaxy of disk drives for that particular pattern of 1s and 0s. That's discriminating to those of us who own physical items.  Let's go back to your statue analogy. Sincerity derives from lack of wax. So the artist who chisels out a magnificent statue without wax has created a work of art, a masterpiece that will fetch them lots of lira, their fortune being secure in that no thief can steal their statue unless we see it gone. Why does that artist have less recourse than the digital artist? The physical art covers only one item as it stand before him/her, or his thief. The cops can locate that one item, track it down, recover it, apprehend the perpetrator, and make amends, or not. But somehow the digital artist owns infinitely more copies of his art, copies that he himself didn't even make, and somehow that is a crime against his artist, because the original is still on his hard drive. So I see it as being an extremely qualitative argument that you are making on this kind of theft.  I can ramble on and on on this subtle distinction, but it's late, I'm tired, so I'll stop.

On Thu, May 19, 2011 at 6:28 PM, <thoughtsonartownership> wrote:
Let's say 1,000 people steal your photos or your songs. Calculate the costs of suing each one considering lawyer's fees and your time. I can guarantee you that you wouldn't have a single second to create another picture or song, since you would be totally consumed with everything BUT your art. 
The solution of "just suing" everyone in sight is simply no solution. Filing a lawsuit in general is no trivial matter and not something to be entered into casually. The courts are always a last resort to solve any business issue. Only those that never sat in depositions, waded through pages of testimony, calculated strategy with attorneys, dealt with the potential legal fees vs. the chances of winning a lawsuit, and faced the prospect of proving/disproving an assertion would ever believe this to some proverbial walk-in-the park or an answer to any problem.  Suiing anyone is always a last resort and to be avoided at all costs - especially for an artist of limited means who would rather be spending his/her time creating music, photos, paintings, etc. 
Freedom doesn't mean an absence of laws or regulations. The Uniform Commercial Code of our law, far from being restrictive, fosters commerce since people can trust that they can conduct business and be assured of the expected responsibilities of each party and the assurance that if there are violations, they can have a reasonable chance to recover any money and/or damages.  The same goes for contracts.  There is both a restrictive and enabling aspect of them relative to the behavior they support and discourage.
What type of freedom would you have as an artist who had absolutely no assurance that you could benefit from your craft and attempt to earn a decent living without being ripped off by unscrupulous people - unless of course, you intended to spend the bulk of your time in court?  It may seem like some affront to have to get a release form for a copyrighted photo, but if such an action discourages at least some theft of intellectual property, I might say it is having some positive effect.  I would suggest taking it one step further, and have an online database indicating someone's ability to grant such privileges, much like an encryption key for software.  I don't know how to make it work practically, but I suspect someone will figure it out.
BTW, if thieves could sell their pirated goods to a local Retailer, and the police could not catch them in the act, would you be ok with the Retailer  selling the contents of your house that the thieves walked off with? Would you expect the Retailer to not deal in stolen goods?  If the Retailer said, "Sorry, - it is not my business to enforce your rights to own/keep your property"? The notion of "Property Rights" is one thing that sets our nation apart and a key aspect of our Founding Fathers' vision for our nation.  Diminish that and you weaken everything you claim to support...

From: Indy

This is just a discussion on the merits of making every single citizen an enforcer of artists rights.

This package does not maintain a digital signature. There are others like it that do not.

If a crook comes to your house, who's fault is it you are robbed?

  • the crook?
  • you?
  • a bystander who saw him walk up to your door and go in?
  • the police?

I say the crook is at fault.  Why should a business have to enforce your rights?

If a crook really wants to steal, they will go out of their way to do so. They need only use a program like the above which won't maintain that signature.


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