Saturday, November 28, 2015

"The Stuff You Only Thought You Owned"

     Intellectual property, that is.

     Amazon's The Man In The High Castle is wildly popular amoung my friends at work -- most of whom appear to be watching bootlegged copies, passed hand-to-hand on thumbdrives.

     They rave about the special effects, the detailed worldbuilding,* the way in which Arendt's "banality of evil" is shown and so on -- but they're missing something.  Dollars are votes; dollars are ratings points.  If you like this kind of detailed science-fictional drama and want to see more of it, the only way you have to signal that back to the people who produced it is to pay for it.

     If you will only watch it if it is free, eventually all you're going to see is content produced cheaply enough that it's worthwhileto give it away; you'll get embedded commercials and you'll learn to like them, and/or utter drek, badly written, poorly acted, clumsily shot.  Or you'll see ever-stronger digital rights management, and ever stricter legal punishments for breach of same.

     Dollars are votes.  If you like it and want more, don't steal it, buy it.
* Though I could swear in the pilot, the license plate "WGG 055" showed up on more than one vehicle.  Details like this are the bane of continuity and prop people.


Jay Dee said...

Well said.

Divemedic said...

To a point. However, I don't see where a person should perform a single song, perhaps 3 minutes' work, and receive a check for the rest of their lives. If a master craftsman makes a beautiful chair, it is no less a work of art than a short story or a song, but the craftsman sells the chair only once. The singer gets to ride in a private jet, the craftsman has to sell more chairs in order to eat.

Having to pay Warner Music because I sang "Happy Birthday To You" does NOTHING to improve the arts or encourage others to create more art.

RandyGC said...

Maybe it won't work for the wider population, but I've been a, ah, beneficiary of Baen Books "first taste is free" strategy. Put out the first 1 or 2 titles from the backlist for free, and once I'm hook... that is interested in a series or author, I don't mine paying for their books. And I've read authors that I probably wouldn't have bothered paying for just to see if I liked them.

That has been modified somewhat in the past few years, but IMHO they still provide the best value for the money of any of the E-book publishers.

The Jack said...

And... unlike some of the stuff that you can only watch if you have a premium cable channel or have to really pay through the nose....

It's on Amazon. And say what you will about that company but they seem to make it very easy to separate you from your money in exchange for entertainment media.

Heck if they have Amazon Prime, then there's no additional cost to watching it!

pigpen51 said...

Sorry, Divemedic, i have to disagree with you. If your only marketable skill is your ability to string words together in a pleasing fashion, to make people feel emotions they otherwise might not feel, you deserve to be compensated. And if that work continues to make people feel that in 20 years to the point that radio station wish to play it and advertisers want to pay the stations for air time, then the artist/musician should share in that compensation in the form of residuals.
The industry has gone to great effort to try and make things equitable for all involved. It is a matter of debate as to whether or not this works, however, it is all they have for now.
As for the movie industry, i am much less familiar with their methods of doing things, but i would assume it is similar to the recording artists.

Roberta X said...

Divemedic: you know that's not quite how it works, don't you? The *singer* doesn't get the pay-per-play check; the *songwriter* does, or the entity who bought the copyright from the songwriter does. ASCAP stands for American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; you will note there are no "performers" in that list. The singer gets paid per *performance,* same as the chairmaker. The composer gets paid per public performance of his work, just as an author is paid per book sold.

The term of a copyright has gone up and up, and there are things wrong with that -- but even under older U.S. copyright law (14 years, plus an additional 14 to the originator of the work on application), bootlegging a *current* *production* is a clear theft. 28 years always seemed like a reasonable number to me, though there are a number of SF writers I admire enjoying a small but steady income thanks to the longer span; certainly it seemed short to Disney and you can count on them to press for an extension every time it starts to look like The Mouse might slip from under their thumb.

Jay Dee said...

I do agree that the current lengths of coprights are ridiculous. I have a solution every good Progressive will love.

Extend copyrights forever. The author/songwriter gets the first 10 or 12 years free then pays a progressivly increasing renewal fee every 10 years for as long the authors/songwriters/assignees desired. Alternatively, the copyright renewal fees could be calculated on the basis of income derived from the copyright with the renewal fee progressively increasing as the income increases. Of course, there would be a generous tax benefit for signing works over to public domain.

Anonymous said...

I moved back home 10 years ago, and I am listening to the same radio station I did when I was in high school in the 1970's, and the music is the same music they played in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. The biggest touring bands are the same ones from that era too (even if the Rolling Stones and Who are all eligible for Social Security!) The artists deserve to be paid, even if Bob Dylan is over-rated.

I do object to Copyright being used as a method of censorship. Has anyone seen a copy of "Path to 9/11?" Do you expect to see "Path" if Hillary is running for President? Or how selected You-Tube videos of a politician's idiocy get pulled because ABC-NBC-CBS-CNN news suddenly object to a 10 second clip of their material?

On the other hand, that Mouse is almost 100 years old. Maybe he should be protected by trademark and not copyright laws. The old performances can be fair game for viewing, but new, unauthorized material like X-rated Mickey Mouse movies are prevented by trademark?

Roberta X said...

"...Copyright being used as a method of censorship."

Anonymous, you are unclear on how and what copyright is, how and what censorship is, or both. (And note that copyright of a particular tune covers the *composer,* not the *performer.* This works out great if you're Jagger/Richards, not so well if you don't write your own songs.)

If a copyright holder -- ABC, for instance -- declines of their own volition to release a work, that's their right. It's not censorship. It doesn't make any difference why they do so -- politics, business, pique, whatever -- as long as they were not pressured into doing so by the government. ABC says it was purely a business decision.

(Wikipedia shares speculation from a writer/producer of the miniseries that it was not released on DVD due to "political pressure." For a decision made in late 2006 or 2007, this is kind of interesting. Political pressure? Which party held the White House at that time?)

Bubblehead Les. said...

What will be Interesting to see is CBS' response when their new Star Trek series comes out. It is my understanding that they plan on showing the first episode for FREE on the Network, but all subsequent episodes will only be available on the Pay Channel they set up.

Any guesses how many Bootlegs will be generated when that happens?

Joe in PNG said...

Good example of the difference between the songwriter, copyright holder, and performer is when John Fogerty was hauled into court for ripping off a Credence Clearwater Revival song he in fact wrote, but didn't own the rights to.