Written by Laurel L. Russwurm
May 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Posted in copyright
The most common justification given for copyright law is that it helps creators make a living.
Yet instead of helping indie musician Edwyn Collins, a corporation with absolutely no claim to Edwyn’s work was able to step in and prevented him from distributing his own work online through the employment of spurious copyright allegations. I mentioned Edwyn’s tale previously, but it is certainly well worth repeating:
Scottish performer Edwyn Collins never gave up control over the copyright to his own music. As an Indie musician he set up a MySpace page where he was making his music available for his fans to download. Or at least he was until suddenly an erroneous take-down order resulted in MySpace taking down Edwyn’s music, preventing him from sharing his hit song A Girl Like You. Yet Edwyn Collins was the rights holder, the record company was not. Because of the traditional power invested in the major recording companies, MySpace did what they were told by the record company even though the record company had no legitimate claim to Edwyn’s music. (One of the bad things about the DMCA; no proof is required.)
Edwyn Collins had to fight to get the right to put his own music on his own MySpace page.
“[We are] aware of who the biggest bootleggers are … It’s not the filesharers.”
~ Grace Maxwell, Edwyn Collins wife/Manager, Guardian: Edwyn Collins stopped from sharing his music online
Today I discovered Canadian writer Cory Doctorow was facing the same problem. Doctorow is a best selling novelist who self identifies as a copyfighter, or perhaps “the” copyfighter. Most of his work is released under Creative Commons licenses, yet Torrent Freak reports that the digital downloads he’s made legally available online are being hit by spurious take down notices. Clearly copyright law is interfering with the writer’s ability to distribute his own work in the manner of his own choosing.
“My Creative Commons licensed 2013 novel Homeland, the sequel to my 2008 novel Little Brother, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and got great reviews around the country. But Fox apparently hasn’t heard of it — or doesn’t care. They’ve been sending takedown notices to Google (and possibly other sites), demanding that links to legally shared copies of the book be removed.
These notices, sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, require that the person who signs them swears, on pain of perjury, that they have a good faith basis to assert that they represent the rightsholder to the work in question. So Fox has been swearing solemn, legally binding oaths to the effect that it is the rightsholder to a file called, for example, “Cory Doctorow Homeland novel.”
It’s clear that Fox is mistaking these files for episodes of the TV show “Homeland.” What’s not clear is why or how anyone sending a censorship request could be so sloppy, careless and indifferent to the rights of others that they could get it so utterly wrong. I have made inquiries about the possible legal avenues for addressing this with Fox, but I’m not optimistic. The DMCA makes it easy to carelessly censor the Internet, and makes it hard to get redress for this kind of perjurious, depraved indifference.
— Cory Doctorow Fox sends fraudulent takedown notices for my novel Homeland
As long as copyright law enables large corporations to suppress the distribution of creative works they have no claim to, the ability of independent self publishing authors, musicians, and film makers to make a living from their own creative works will continue to be at risk.
Edwyn Collins photo © Guillaume Sautereau / POPnews
released under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License
“Homeland” cover art released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivs 2.0 License (by-nc-nd)
Cory Doctorow portrait by laurelrusswurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Written by Laurel L. Russwurm
April 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm
Posted in copyright
Tagged with A Girl like You, author rights, boingboing, Cory Doctorow, Cory Doctorow’s “Homeland” Novel, craphound, creative commons, DMCA, Edwyn Collins, Fox, Grace Maxwell, Guillaume Sautereau, Independent Creators, indie, legal downloads, Little Brother, MySpace, spurious take down notices, Torrent Freak
My primary goal at present is to complete the first draft of “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe,” but I’ve been pulled off on a few side trips. There are two time sensitive articles I must write for Whoa!Canada in the very near future, and a couple of things happening on the personal front have been keeping me jumping.
As a self publishing author, I am my own publicity department. Spreading my Internet presence as widely as possible is an important part of self publishing. To that end, I’ve recently increased my online holdings.
This blog was originally supposed to be the online central resource for my writing. As it happens, other issues like free culture and copyright have dominated here. Although I had hoped that those problems would have been resolved by now, sadly that isn’t the case.
I’ve just set up a multi- platform “Laurel L. Russwurm, Author” page. The idea is to create a forum to keep everyone up to date with my novelling (without politics!) My new Author page is:
On The Open Web (no registration needed): Laurel L. Russwurm, Author
On Facebook (if you’re already a member): Laurel L. Russwurm, Author
On Google+ (so far the slowest starter) Laurel L. Russwurm, Author
Readers can drop by whichever is most convenient for them. Of course, the formats are a little different, and I’ve chosen different banner art for the three pages as a visual reminder where I am. (Yes, I navigate by landmarks, too.) All three banner images are photos taken at Toronto’s Union Station, which is where “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe” begins. (It’s a fabulous opening, if I do say so myself )
In the course of setting up the page, I’ve begun with a mini visual biography. Although there is some crossover (a few photos are on Google but not Facebook and vice versa) the entire online photo album is available on the open web page spread over three Biography entries.
To make it easier for my readers, from now on I’ll simulpost the same content to all three versions of the Author page.
I’ve also decided to expand my visual base by signing up with deviantART. Although I’m on Flickr and Tumblr, I’ve had so much fun creating digital art for the “Inconstant Moon” serialization blog, as well as taking photographs, that another outlet to share my work seemed like a good idea.
I especially like being able to set my account with a Creative Commons license default. deviantART also makes it possible to sell prints of the images you upload (if they are big enough), but we’ll have to see how that goes #notholdingmybreath
I’ve posted several of the images I created for the Inconstant Moon blog, (reminding me I still have several character pages and behind the scenes articles to finish). Visit my new deviantART profile and browse my Gallery
for your convenience
I’ve added the RSS feeds for both the new pages to the sidebar here.
[This was supposed to be a review, but what's between the covers isn't as interesting as the story around the books.]
Word of mouth brought my attention to the lively Castle tv series. The show’s premise pairs fictional Pulitzer Prize winning mystery writer Richard “Rick” Castle with the tough fictional NYC detective Kate Beckett. Like Remington Steele and Moonlighting before it, the series establishes an underlying romantic attraction that the characters can’t act upon.
In the show, fictional writer Richard Castle writes a series of detective novels based on the detective character Kate Beckett. (Confused yet?)
Having been a Stephen J. Cannell fan since the Rockford Files, a bonus for me was the real writer/producer’s cameo as one of the famous writers who play poker with he Castle character on the show.
Castle is supposed to be a successful writer, so naturally the ABC art department had to create cover art and mock-ups of the fictional Richard Castle’s fictional novels as props and set dressing for the series. So it wasn’t much of a leap to take it a little further… just by inserting some words between the covers ~ voila! you’ve got a novel. What could be more clever than packaging and selling it as a series tie-in?
Publishing a Richard Castle novel was a cute idea. There’s even precedent — it isn’t the first time a fictional character has been attributed as the author of a real novel.
Easily the most famous fictional novelist predecessor was the 30′s detective hero Ellery Queen, not only the star of his own series of detective novels, but the named author. Ellery Queen played on radio and various small screen attempts. Later Ellery Queen’s name graced the masthead of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which went on to be “the most influential English Language crime fiction magazines of the last sixty-five years.” 
But, of course, a fictional person can’t actually write an actual novel. The reality is that Ellery Queen was the creation and pseudonym of writing duo, Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee.
It’s was a great marketing strategy to go ahead and publish a Richard Castle novel. Naturally, it sold a lot of copies. So of course it became a series of novels…
When I heard about the Castle novels, I was curious. My favourite Indie Bookstore, Waterloo’s Wordsworth Books, only had Naked Heat, the second book in the series in stock., so that was the one I bought.
Naked Heat features the tough fictional NYPD Detective Nikki Heat. Above Richard Castle’s name on the cover is the legend “The New York Times Best Selling Author of Heat Wave.”
The bottom of the dust jacket features a blurb from quote from a New York Times Bestselling Author:
“Richard Castle is a pro. He gets better and better each time out.
“Naked Heat” proves it.”
— New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Connelly
There’s even a blurb on the back attributed to New York Times Bestselling Author, Stephen J. Cannell.
And of course, don’t forget the handsome author photo on the back. It isn’t too surprising to discover Castle is easy on the eyes; pictured is the leading man who plays the fictional Richard Castle in the ABC TV series “Castle.”
Richard Castle may be a real “New York Times best Selling Author” but he is still a fictional character.
Going from TV to Books
I loved it when Buster Keaton stepped into the movie screen in Sherlock Jr, and just as much when Jeff Daniels’ character stepped out of his own screen into the world of Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. I’ve always enjoyed it when the line between fiction and reality are blurred.
The fact remains that the only way a fictional character can write a book is for a real person to do the work.
The first question would have to be:
- did Nathan Fillion write this book?
Although the actor’s face is smiling out of the author photo on the dust jacket, it is highly unlikely Nathan Fillion wrote this or any of the Castle books. It isn’t that actors can’t write; several highly talented writer-actors — John Cleese, Orson Welles, Kenneth Branagh — spring to mind.
But it is extraordinarily unlikely in this case; if the Canadian actor had written any of the books, the attendant publicity would have been far too good for ABC to pass up.
Who cares who *did* write it?
As a reader, knowing who wrote the books I enjoy reading has proved to be the most consistent way to find more. I have been remembering author’s names since discovering my first favourite, Beatrix Potter. The flipside is that it helps avoid the real stinkers as well. That makes it important information.
As an author, my name on the book is my own personal brand. Any creator’s reputation is built upon the body of work associated with their name, which is why attribution is so important. Some creators think copyright guarantees attribution, but clearly it doesn’t.
A logical assumption might be that the novels could be written by writers in the Castle story department (the writers and story editors who write the episodes of the tv series).
Andrew W. Marlowe (88 episodes, 2009-2012)
Shalisha Francis (20 episodes, 2010-2012)
Elizabeth Beall (9 episodes, 2009-2013)
Terence Paul Winter (9 episodes, 2009-2013)
David Grae (9 episodes, 2009-2012)
Alexi Hawley (9 episodes, 2009-2012)
Moira Kirland (7 episodes, 2009-2012)
Terri Miller (7 episodes, 2009-2012)
Will Beall (5 episodes, 2009-2011)
David Amann (5 episodes, 2010-2012)
Kate Sargeant (3 episodes, 2010-2012)
Rob Hanning (3 episodes, 2011-2012)
René Echevarria (2 episodes, 2009-2010)
Jose Molina (2 episodes, 2009-2010)
Barry Schindel (2 episodes, 2009)
Matt Pyken (2 episodes, 2010-2011)
Scott Williams (2 episodes, 2010-2011)
Christine Boylan (2 episodes, 2012)
That sure looks like an awful lot of writers to me, even for a show that has been on air now for years. One or some of them may have actually written the Castle books. But which one(s)?
I’m pretty sure this book was not written by the series creator, Andrew Marlowe, if only because the quality of the writing isn’t on par with the series writing. But that isn’t surprising, as this book isn’t so much a novel as a marketing gimmick.
In some ways it seemed like an ambitious bit of fanfic, since books have allowed the fictional writer and fictional detective to consumate their attraction on paper. The Castle books may not have been written by anyone associated with the tv series. ABC could just as easily hired a ghost writer to do the job.
There is a chance Heat Wave (the first in the Castle-Nikki Heat book series) was a better book than Naked Heat, but I wouldn’t know. It’s too bad Naked Heat isn’t a very good book.
If we skip inside to the copyright page we discover:
Castle © ABC Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Hmm. The Ellery Queen books were copyright by Ellery Queen (whose name was also the name of the business partnership owned by the actual writers, Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee.) The Samuel Holt books were copyright by Samuel Holt, again a legal pseudonym for the actual author, Donald E. Westlake.
Whoever ghost wrote this “Castle” book is not credited at all, and the copyright belongs to ABC Studios (the television production division of Disney-ABC Television Group). Even though large corporations own a great many copyrights, a corporation can no more write a novel than a fictional character can.
For centuries we’ve been told copyright is good if for authors. But if fictional authors dominiate the New York Times Bestseller list, what will happen to real authors?
Reference  Quotation from Old Time Radio
Written by Laurel L. Russwurm
January 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm
Tagged with ABC, ABC TV series, Alexi Hawley, Andrew W. Marlowe, Barry Schindel, Beatrix Potter, Buster Keaton, Castle, Christine Boylan, David Amann, David Grae, Detective Kate Beckett, Donald E. Westlake, Elizabeth Beall, Ellery Queen, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Frederic Dannay, Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB), Jeff Daniels, Jose Molina, Kate Sargeant, Manfred Bennington Lee, Matt Pyken, Michael Connelly, Moira Kirland, Moonlighting, Naked Heat, Nathan Fillion, New York Times Bestselling Author, Remington Steele, René Echevarria, Richard Castle, Rob Hanning, Rockford Files, Samuel Holt, Scott Williams, series tie-in, Shalisha Francis, Sherlock Junior, Stephen J. Cannell, Terence Paul Winter, Terri Miller, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Will Beall, Wordsworth Books
This is the first anniversary of the day the Internet went dark.
All kinds of big powerful important websites went dark to protest two dreadful bits of American legislation, SOPA and PIPA. Amazingly, it worked, and the laws were withdrawn.
It wasn’t just American websites. The Internet doesn’t stop at any border, so web sites around the world went dark in solidarity.
And it wasn’t just big.
Plenty of ordinary people made their blogs go dark too. And I have to tell you, it’s a lot harder for us little people who have to figure out the tech to make our blogs go dark (and then turn them on again afterward!) Free Press has a petition Declaration of Internet Freedom petition for Americans.
A lot of the big organizations like the EFF are putting on celebretory events today. But many of us ordinary people scattered around the globe will be celebrating the way we do every day… by trying to keep the Internet free and open, engaging in citizen journalism, sharing, blogging, denting, tweeting, tumbling…
Aaron Swartz was one of the people leading that fight against SOPA, because Aaron knew how important it was that the Internet remain free. But now he’s dead, the rest of us have to pick up the slack.
Written by Laurel L. Russwurm
January 18, 2013 at 3:28 am
Posted in copyright
No one should ever go to jail over copyright law.
It is inconceivable to me that anyone should ever die over it. Now someone has.
Aaron Swartz killed himself on Friday. He was 26. A legend in the tech community, probably a dotcom millionaire. He could have lounged around poolside sipping designer martinis for the rest of his days.
Instead he worked for the public good, fighting the copyfight, defending the internet and the public domain.
Sometimes people of principle feel the need to challenge unjust laws. And like many reformers before him, Aaron Swartz ran afoul of the law in trying to change the world.
A murderer might have to serve as many as seven years for taking a life.
But 26 year old Aaron Swartz faced perhaps more than 35 years in jail. Over copyright.
Lawrence Lessig characterized it as bullying.
I seem to spend an awful lot of time writing about what’s wrong with copyright law. Since I started looking at copyright with new eyes, I can’t seem to avoid seeing the harm that it does.
Copyright law isn’t a right, its a government backed monopoly that supposedly promotes innovation. Aaron Swartz was certainly an innovator. He, too, was disturbed by the harm copyright does, and so he tried to push against it. But copyright law pushed back, and made sure he will innovate no more.
There is a great outpouring of agony across the Internet. Having myself struggled with the demons of depression, Cory Doctorow’s eulogy makes me weep. Depression can seem interminable; I can’t imagine how much worse would it be looking at potential decades of imprisonment.
But what gets me is this comment made by someone I’ve never met on Lawrence Lessig’s blog:
No amount of IP will ever be worth a human life. I don’t care how you justify it. Putting Aaron away for 35yrs may be legally justifiable, just as sending slaves back to slave owners from non slave states once was. I however cannot begin to align the life of any human with imaginary property.”
Aaron was only a little older than my own bright and principled child. My heart aches for Aaron, and his family. No family should have to endure this. This is simply beyond acceptable. There is no harm greater than this.
Aaron Swartz, released under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication by Cory Doctorow