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Click this link if you want to see Jesus lipsynch to "I Will Survive" - A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
 
 
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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007 07:38 pm
Click this link if you want to see Jesus lipsynch to "I Will Survive"

Or if copyright law is of any interest to you, which I think applies to almost anyone who frequents Teh Intarwebz.

Three stories and an argument...

umadoshi shared this link, and I wanted to pass it on. It's a lecture and slide show presentation by Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. Aside from giving an entertaining presentation that includes a clip from an AMV as an example of user-generated remixing of content, he makes an interesting argument about how current copyright law stifles creativity (and he does so without condoning piracy). Good stuff, and well worth the 20 minutes of your time it will take to watch.

I found it especially interesting watching this after having read several posts this evening (including the multi-part series by praetorianguard) about the case JKR is bringing against the publisher of Steve Vander Ark's book (see TLC's article for details). I don't quite feel comfortable arguing that what Lessig says about user-generated remixing in his lecture exactly applies to this situation, but I do know that while I believe JKR probably has a solid case—and I don’t deny her right to pursue it—I can't help feeling more sympathy for Vander Ark in this case. I believe his compilation of the online Lexicon constitutes an act of creativity, and that it ought to be encouraged. Of course there’s the issue of putting it up for free on the web vs. selling it for profit in print form. Of course there’s the issue of possibly including content written by other contributors without their consent. And of course there’s the issue of how incredibly foolish some of the representatives of his publisher have been. I’m not going to get into all of that. All I’m saying is that my gut feeling is to sympathize with Vander Ark, and that I appreciate his work on the Lexicon as a creative act.

If it were up to me—and I know this could probably be classified as an “unpopular fandom opinion”—I’d say that Vander Ark would probably be a great choice to edit/compile JKR’s official HP encyclopedia, as long as it included additional content from her notes, and her touch and flair in the writing itself. That’s what would happen in my perfect world. For while I think very highly of JKR as a storyteller, she doesn’t really strike me as the sort of detail-oriented person who can take and catalogue loads of trivial information in the way that I think would make the most appealing Harry Potter reference book. That’s JMHO. PLZ don’t flame or refer F_W to this post, mmkay?

Anyway, I wish there were some way for JKR and SVA to resolve the problem that would mollify and benefit both of them—and fans, too!—but I doubt it’s possible at this point. :(

My hopes for the future of what Lessig calls a “read-write” culture, however, are a lot higher. What do you think?

Joie

Tags: ,
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

12CommentReply

major_dallas
major_dallas
Nate the Great
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)

Joie,
I think one big issue about the whole Vandergate affair that Lettig even addresses is that Steve is not remixing Jo's material just for the the sake of it, but that he's lifting Jo's material in whole and trying to do so for profit, which is Copyright Piracy. Jo has never had a problem in the past with people writing fanfic based off her works, infect she's been very encouraging and I think she is one of those artists that Lettig says we need to help bring back the Read-Write culture, just my opinion of course.

Also, it seems Steve also wanted to collaborate with Jo on the Encyclopedia and she turned him down, got this from peachespig's latest LJ entry and this has not gone over over too ell with Steve.

So I disagree about the compromise, but no flames from me, and good to see/hear from you again :)


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC)

Steve is not remixing Jo's material just for the the sake of it, but that he's lifting Jo's material in whole and trying to do so for profit, which is Copyright Piracy.

I disagree. First of all, we still don't know for sure what the book contains. But if it does contain info that is more or less like the content of the website, then I think it is quite akin to the sort of remixed material Lessig used in his presentation. Fan-made videos usually use songs and video clips that are 100% made from copyrighted material. But they are rearranged in a way that gives a whole different impression than the original work(s). Browsing through the online HP Lexicon is virtually nothing like reading a Harry Potter book--it is a whole different experience, and its content serves a very different function. Certainly, it seems that copyright law as it currently stands is on JKR's side. Moreover, I can understand why, especially in light of her plans to release her own encyclopedia, she would want to assert her legal rights in this situation. I would also say that his/his publisher's apparent refusal to grant the concession of dubbing the work "unofficial" is a very foolish move. But I think the book--if it really is basically like the website--is still a far cry from "piracy". Piracy is taking someone's copyrighted work, copying it whole, and distributing it for profit as an alternative to the original work. While the Lexicon catalogues virtually all of the factual information in the HP books, I don't think it constitutes a whole copy by any stretch of the imagination. And while SVA's book could be mistaken for JKR's proposed encyclopedia, it is clearly not meant to be an alternative to the current books. Of course, the "for profit" bit is still an issue, and an important one. But that alone is not enough to make what SVA is doing "piracy" as I think it's generally understood (though it certainly seems to be infringement in the eyes of the law). (Incidentally, one of the major problems with the current laws and practices surrounding copyright is the gap between what seems fair and right to the general population and what the law actually prohibits or allows. I thought that was something Lessig addressed, but maybe I'm confused. At this point I've now read several more online articles about copyright-related issues, so I may be mixing up sources.)

Also, it seems Steve also wanted to collaborate with Jo on the Encyclopedia and she turned him down, got this from peachespig's latest LJ entry and this has not gone over over too ell with Steve.

Yes, I know. Even if I haven't said much, I've still been lurking, you know! Frankly, (as I basically said in my post above) I think she should have taken him up on that offer. If I were in SVA's position, I probably would have been upset at being turned down, too.

*shrugs* I'm not saying SVA's a perfect angel and JKR's a great bit meanie. I'm just saying that I do feel a lot of sympathy for him in this matter, more than he seems to be getting from my flist in general, and I wish there were a way for this to work out much better (for both SVA and JKR) than seems likely with an impending lawsuit hanging over them.


ReplyThread Parent
dianora
dianora
Liralen
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Loooong comment!

Disclaimer: I haven't been following this story very carefully, so this is my instinctive, uninformed reaction. So far I haven't heard of anything to make me feel otherwise, though.

I'm not thrilled with what Steve is doing, but I'm even less thrilled by the way JKR and WB have reacted. I just can't see any reasonable explanation for their crusade against the project other than greed.

And did JKR really need to put all that stuff on her website? It seemed so childish to me. Like, "Oh noes! All the little kids will think I'm evil now. Better make sure they think Steve is evil instead." And please, it wasn't going to take any money away from her charities -- her official encyclopedia, which fills a totally different niche than Steve's, will sell phenomenally. If anything, Steve's lexicon would have helped sustain the HP hype until then.

I'm also not thrilled with the fandom's reaction. All anyone seems to care about is looking up copyright law and finding out who is in the right, legally. Never mind whether those laws are valid or sane. I'm no legal expert, but I think copyright law has gone a little crazy in the last 20 years. I'm honestly shocked that more of the fandom isn't in the Lessig camp, which I thought was very popular among technologically-savvy types. I don't know if I fully support everything he says, but I think there's a grain of truth in his campaign.

Anyway, it makes me nervous that Steve wants to profit from something that a lot of fans helped create. But I just can't get enthused about JKR's reaction, no matter how much legal backing it has.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
Re: Loooong comment!

All anyone seems to care about is looking up copyright law and finding out who is in the right, legally. Never mind whether those laws are valid or sane. I'm no legal expert, but I think copyright law has gone a little crazy in the last 20 years.

Yes! I think that's an important point. What is legal is not necessarily what is ethical and vice versa. I'm surprised this incident seems to have generated so little discussion on that point, at least so far as I have seen.

I'm honestly shocked that more of the fandom isn't in the Lessig camp, which I thought was very popular among technologically-savvy types.

I actually think a lot of fandom is on Lessig's side, but that, for one reason or another, they don't see it as applying to this situation. Mainly, I think that they are getting stuck on the fact that Steve is publishing the Lexicon--long provided for free online and considered by many to be a staple of online HP fandom--for profit, which they seem to see as an egotistical and greedy act. And maybe it is. Still, it seems like this is the perfect opportunity to discuss the limitations of current copyright law, especially as it applies to the creation and sale of derivative works--an opportunity that I think is largely being lost in favor of burying fandom in another pile of wank.


ReplyThread Parent
angua9
angua9
Quite a Machiavellian Figure
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Loooong comment!

I'm honestly shocked that more of the fandom isn't in the Lessig camp, which I thought was very popular among technologically-savvy types.

But if you consider RDR's argument, you'll understand why fans are instinctively (and selfishly) taking JKR's side. His basic argument is that JKR and WB have already given Steve permission to publish the Lexicon (because it is published online). In other words, they're arguing that by tolerating and even praising his fansite, she lost the ability to stop him from publishing the same material in a book for profit.

Of course fans cling desperately to the distinction between free-and-ephemeral-on-the-web and for-profit-and-distributed-as-a-book, because that's what allows us to exist. If the court rules in favor of RDR, intellectual property owners will crack down infringing internet fansites. They'll have to. So the big scary lawyers from the major international corporation are actually (ironically) fighting to protect the fandom space.

And while I'd agree that copyright law has gotten a bit excessive in the past twenty years, especially in the length of protection, you still have to balance the incentives to create something in the first place against the incentives to sub-create. As a fandom, do we have more interest in encouraging a JKR to publish the next Harry Potter series or Steve Vander Ark to publish a Lexicon-type book?

I'm not surprised that fans are focusing on the actual copyright law and facts of the case, either, because this is a real-life lawsuit and those are the things that will determine the actual outcome.


ReplyThread Parent
dianora
dianora
Liralen
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Loooong comment!

You make a really interesting point about what happens if RDR succeeds in equating their right to distribute online with their right to publish for profit. That would suck for us. I hadn't really thought about it that way -- probably I should be reading more about the case! Still, I wouldn't have expected that argument to be at all valid in the courtroom; I had thought of it more as their personal justification for publishing, whereas the legal argument would be somewhere along the lines of the book being a substantial creative effort and not just a copy-paste. But I haven't read the legal papers, so once again that was only my intuition. If their legal argument was really that since JKR approved of the website, she's legally bound to approve of the for-profit book, I can see why we don't want them to win!!! :(

Also, I'm not upset that that the legal details were fully explored; that was good. I just haven't, in the handful of wider-fandom posts I've stumbled upon, seen much discussion of whether the laws that prohibit Steve from publishing the Lexicon are good laws. Maybe I should look around more. (Also, I thought the outcome was determined to be obvious pretty early on, at least if the "fandom lawyer" posts I saw were well researched. I also would have been extremely surprised if JKR and WB, who must have the best lawyers around, had chosen to so publicly pursue a case they had an outside chance of losing.)

All in all, I'm pretty disappointed that RDR has so phenomenally mishandled this case. And I hope you don't think I've decided to categorically hate on JKR and WB without even doing my research -- I know that's what it looks like, but I am open to a talking-to from those who did theirs. :D I just, without doing much research, felt a little let down by them (particularly Jo, who I think is awesome; not so much with WB, who I don't care about). I mean, I guess I'm disappointed in Steve too, but I didn't have any particular opinion of him before this, never having heard him speak or interacted with him.


ReplyThread Parent
angua9
angua9
Quite a Machiavellian Figure
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Loooong comment!

I had thought of it more as their personal justification for publishing, whereas the legal argument would be somewhere along the lines of the book being a substantial creative effort and not just a copy-paste.

That could be. RDR is only just now engaging legal advice, so their strategy could change before they go to court. What I was going by was their arguments on their website, and what Steve said, and the fact that they (RDR, not Steve) linked to two blog posts arguing that by allowing web publication, JKR/WB had already implicitly agreed to book publication.

Definitely, I think their best strategy would be what it would have been all along, which is to accept the changes suggested by JKR's and WB's lawyers, which have actually been quite moderate and reasonable for past books - primarily to prominently feature the word "unauthorized" or "unofficial" on the front and back cover and to cut down the length of quoted and paraphrased material.

JKR and WB are claiming that the only reason they're suing, the only thing that distinguishes this book from previously-published companion books, is that RDR refused to let them look over the book before publication to ensure that their rights hadn't been infringed. In other words, every time one of those books comes out, the lawyers send them a letter asking to see the manuscript. If that doesn't work, they send a C&D order. And if that doesn't work, they file a lawsuit. Apparently, Steve's publishers are like the only ones ever with the balls to say "sue me, then." Which is ironic, because judging by the likely content of the book, they have less likelihood of winning such a suit than most of the other companion books (in terms of the ratio of original to derivative content).

Which is all just to say that, given their established practices, I don't think JKR and WB had a choice but to sue. All the previous books were forced to submit their manuscripts for review by the threat of a lawsuit. If JKR/WB don't follow through when defied, future book publishers won't see that as a credible threat.


I also would have been extremely surprised if JKR and WB, who must have the best lawyers around, had chosen to so publicly pursue a case they had an outside chance of losing.

Well, yeah, and that's the other reason fandom is siding with them. Who wants to identify with the loser?


ReplyThread Parent
dome36
dome36
dome36
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 09:33 am (UTC)

My idea is that the editor is the one to blame in the middle of all this and not specifically Steve Van der Ark.

I saw Steve once and I like the way he talked and I appreciate his passion for the HP Universe. This makes the situation even sadder. I hope that Steve and JKR will sort things out and avoid a court of law.

Dome


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)

My idea is that the editor is the one to blame in the middle of all this and not specifically Steve Van der Ark.

Yeah, I tend to think that, too.


ReplyThread Parent
prongssr
prongssr
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)

I actually agree with you in many respects. I do think that Jo isn't quite as organized as she wants to believe herself and that I've always admired Steve's organizational skills and attention to details. Personally speaking, I would have most likely purchased both encyclopedia's - Steve's and Jo's. Some sort of collaboration between them would have been really beneficial to the HP fandom, imo, and Jo's legacy. Steve has organized her world very well! It is a sad situation all around and I'll be interesting to see what happens, as far as the legalities are concerned.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 11th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)

Personally speaking, I would have most likely purchased both encyclopedia's - Steve's and Jo's.

Yes, I think I would, too. Or will, if Steve is able to get his out.


ReplyThread Parent
thewhiteowl
thewhiteowl
Could use a little more cowbell
Mon, Nov. 12th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)

I think my line of no return is when a fan tries to make a profit. And the 'but she was ok with the website!' defence burns with stupid, even without the threat it poses to fandom if accepted.


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