Skip to main content

I don’t even know how to categorize this, but Amanda Palmer has proposed a bartering system to bring us back to how we used to share music, hundreds of years ago. It makes sense for some artists, and it works best if you use the latest social media technology. This is part of the amazing and ever growing collection of information available to all for free from TED, an excellent repository of open source information that we all can utilize to help create a much more interesting world to live in. OK, there might be a music video after that, possibly.

Coming up on Thursday the 28th at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at Kansas University, Cory Doctorow will be doing a lecture entitled The Coming War on General Purpose Computing: Every single political issue will end up rehashing the stupid Internet copyright fight. I wish I was anywhere near there so I could attend and hear one of the most innovative and insightful thinkers of the last dozen years give this presentation. If you are nearby, don’t miss it; seating is free, but limited, so you want to get there early. If someone records it and puts in on TED or YouTube, I will post it here, which will at least be better than missing it entirely.

Doctorow Poster

In the meantime, here is a very related presentation he gave back in 2011 that should give you an idea of the subject matter. The Copyright and Intellectual Property questions are very complex, because the solutions to protect one group’s rights would often wipe out every other group’s rights, and what we need is a system that will protect everyone’s rights at once. There is a solution to be found, but not without a lot of work to find common ground and implement a best practices list that actually works for all of us. I appreciate the fact that Doctorow looks at the problem from lots of angles and is not shy about expressing his opinions about all of the components involved with the process.

This stuff is important; it deserves your attention and understanding. Yeah, it may take a bit of time and effort to comprehend but the rewards of getting it right will be amazing for the entire human race. Don’t let the future be determined without taking a moment to find out about the arguments and making your voice heard in favor of the aspects you consider worth fighting for.

There is a great set of three articles over at Anime News Network about copyright’s as they apply to fandom, written by a lawyer who specializes in Intellectual Property law. While they specifically address Anime fans, the concepts discussed are equally valid for any genre fans. They are well written and easy for the non-lawyer to understand, and I highly recommend checking them out. The first article is What Is A Copyright And What Does It Do?, the second is Copyrights And Fandom, the third is Defending Yourself. There is a fourth article yet to come, discussing what is in the courts and pending legislation, and how it may effect your ability to watch or buy shows or merchandise. As with all discussions about the law online, there is a legal disclaimer at the end of each article. Ironic, that.

This is the second time in 72 hours I am posting a second entry for the day, and like the previous one, Tv Ratings Explained, it is touching on one aspect of how the business of distributing intellectual property works, specifically of the Sci-Fi TV and Movie programs we all love so much. This time around the factor being examined is Territory Rights, which are the licensing contracts that set up who can distribute a given property in each part of the world. What makes this article timely is the fact that it is an official response from US distributor Funimation about the situation that forced them to shut down their simulcast of Fractale, as I reported yesterday. What makes me want to endorse their position is the fact they are explaining how the business model and industry works in a way that makes intuitive sense, and telling people how they can support it if they want to continue to enjoy streaming video. There are too many companies that have legal teams running wild trying to change laws unreasonably and suing everyone on the planet just to fill their own pockets; companies that actually treat their customers as intelligent partners rather than victims should be appreciated when you find them.

Not books about Pirates, but pirating books. Ursela K LeGuin recently found some of her own books available online as downloads, even though neither she nor her publishers had authorized their release in that media. Text pirating has now joined audio and video as a top copyright violation, mostly due to the growing popularity of portable text viewers. There are a lot of legally free books and stories you can read online or download for your portable player (kindle, palmtop, cell phone, etc.). Some are there as a marketing tool to increase sales, some are available because the author released it under a creative commons or equivalent copyright license, some because the copyright has expired. Like everything else, there is a history and controversies about copyright laws, with multinational companies on one side, users of the intellectual properties on the other, and the actual creators lining up on both sides depending on individual inclination and attitude. Personally, I consider it the authors right to decide how they want their works to be made available. Having their work distributed without their permission and without compensation does not create a sustainable creative environment; authors deserve a payday as well.

I am assuming they paid the SyFy Portal serious money for stealing their brand. In fact that site, under their new brand Airlock Alpha, admits as much, even if they don’t disclose the amount. I look forward to seeing how they use that cash influx online, and have to cheer on anyone in Science Fiction who can turn a noticeable profit in today’s economy. Reactions are coming in from all over the web, from CNet with their usual unique perspective, to Entertainment Weekly who come at it from a totally different angle. Cinema Blend, the Live Feed, and the Hollywood Reporter all took the line you would expect from each of those media mavens (each different, but each the same). The Fans have a different view, expressed by Topless Robot, or Forbidden Planet, or even G4 TV, and again, each reaction is different, and each the same. Myself, I can’t wait to see how Alpha Airlock evolves; the SF Channel, whatever their spelling, has the budget to ignore the fans, but this time some true fans got the better end of the deal. Congrats, Hinman!