Archive for February 2011
My beta reader @larryrusswurm made a small suggestion which means I’m toying with adding a few little scenes.
I’ve a lot more to say about copyright & freedom, but I’ll not be able to find time ’til later in the week, as I’ve some last few tweaks to make to Inconstant Moon. Don’t look for anything new in any of my blogs before the first weekend in March.
As for the cover photo, I’m going with the one I liked, rather than one of the more conventional ones. But definitely Inconstant Moon will be ready to launch in March:
Oh, I’m so excited!
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”
This clause is often understood (erroneously) to refer to copyright, but it is not copyright. Rather, it refers to what is called:
Natural rights, also called inalienable rights, are considered to be self-evident and universal. They are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government. Legal rights, also called statutory rights, are bestowed by a particular government to the governed people and are relative to specific cultures and governments. They are enumerated or codified into legal statutes by a legislative body.
Moral rights pertain to intellectual work; a perpetual right to identify themselves as the author of their original work (that involves no copy, just the original). The author has natural dominion over the original work; and is free to lock it away, or share it, or sell it; but even if sold, the creator is forever the creator. The offense against the author’s moral right is plagiarism. This is what is recognized in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
A right is a right no matter the locality and it lasts forever; a privilege like copyright only exists for the period of time set by the law of the land. Copyright is a state granted monopoly wherever it exists, but of course sovereign nations have different laws. That doesn’t change the fact that it exists only because it is imposed by statute.
American Copyright History
The framers of the American Constitution did recognize the natural human rights of creators, and secured these rights, but again, that was not copyright. After all, the 1787 Constitution certainly didn’t recognize the US Copyright privilege that was based upon itself and not enacted until two years later in 1790.
Copyright = Monopoly
Published works lie outside of an author’s human rights, so the state grants exclusive reproduction privilege — a monopoly — over the reproduction of published works. That is copyright.
The printing monopolies predating the Statute of Anne in England were privileges granted printers, and so are even less beneficial to creators than copyright, and so not the same thing at all.
Public domain image From Wikipedia Printer in 1568 by Jost Amman (1539–1591)
Again, this article came from the comments on BuzzMachine.
[Seems my Buzz Machine: Clinton and the freedom to connect comment has gotten out of hand again. Thing is, it's an incredibly important issue, so here are my further adventures in windmill tilting. ]
Intangible concepts are often the ones that matter most.
What is the Internet? It is not analogous to a house. But you folks want tangibles, so lets talk tangibles.
A house occupies a finite amount of space. A house anywhere in our world is most likely to fall under the specific jurisdiction and laws of the nation in which it stands. Under the laws of the land, it is usually straightforward to determine who holds title to the house. In most cases only the owner has the rights to alter or amend the structure of the house.
The Internet, on the other hand, spans the globe. This means that there are bits of infrastructure residing in many nations and under many different legal systems. And if Fred in Topeka sends an email to Mary in London, the email it is broken down into multiple packets which are sent independently — part of Fred’s email might go in a relatively straight line from sender to destination but part of it may be rerouted via Sri Lanka and another through Iceland.
The “infrastructure” is neither finite nor static, and many different people in many different places control many different bits of that infrastructure. There are Internet backbone peers, and Internet Service Providers and the satellites, wires, cables and routers connecting everything together in a multitude of different ways.
At the ends of the Internet are the users and content providers, who connect to the internet via their own bits of infrastructure. People connect and both upload and download content via devices that are only sometimes connected to The Internet, sometimes by wire and sometimes by WiFi. When my cell phone is turned on, I can connect to the Internet with it. When I turn it off, that’s no longer possible. Private individuals and companies can host their websites on their own computers– and they own that piece of Infrastructure. These network connections that make up the Internet fluctuate moment by moment.
You’ll have noticed that people have been referring to “information highways” and “pipes” for as long as we’ve been trying to understand the Internet, because, although the infrastructure is part of the Internet, it is not The Internet.
The Internet is a peer network that exists to share content. Unlike traditional television broadcasting networks, only rarely is Internet content provided by Internet Service Providers (with the exception of some jurisdictions that allow anti-competitive corporate conduct). An enormous amount of the content available on the Internet is not the property of the ISPs who own the Infrastructure, but is instead is freely put there by users. People and organizations are releasing extraordinary quantities of photographs and artwork and music and movies under creative commons licenses, and blogs, microblogging, self publishing and citizen journalism are on the rise. It would clearly be a tangible and grievous error to award ownership of this great human outpouring of creativity to those who own segments of Internet infrastructure.
Although there are tangibles, it is the intangibles of The internet that draw us in. If you really need an analogy, a house doesn’t do it. Try using a community.
We all own the Internet.
Image Credits: Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project
The Internet does belong to *me* — and all the other self styled Citizens of the Net.
Corporations may own bits of wire and pieces of equipment, but that isn’t The Internet.
Any more than a handful of soil scooped up from the nearest garden is your country.
That pile of dirt may be a fractional portion of your country, and those bits of technology may be segments of Internet infrastructure, but they are neither the sum of your country nor the entity we call The Internet.
Please note: there is but one Internet, which is the sum of a whole mess of interconnection.
Networks. Computers. Cell phones.
The Internet is one thing — a network — that exists in many countries spread all over the world.
It is the very connectivity which confers value.
Those of us who contribute to it, use it, work with it, learn from it and share it do have rights.
Because the Internet would not exist without us.
All of us.
It has been suggested that the Internet would exist without me, and further, if I’ve only come online in the last decade, it existed before me, and will exist after me.
That may be true in a very limited sense: as an individual, I am only one small atom of The Internet. Just as an individual citizen of any democracy is simply one small part.
But the point of the Internet is that we are all put together. The Internet is the sum of its parts.
Not just the brilliant folks like Tim Berners Lee
who wrote the IP protocol that makes it function, but all the users, whether they can create a website or barely manage to reply to an email.
It wouldn’t BE The Internet if we all pulled up stakes and moved on.
It would simply revert to being a mess of wire and hunks of equipment.
Internet = Interconnected Networks.
Just as the citizens of a country make up the democracy, it is the users who comprise “The Internet.”
It’s been further suggested my opinion about The Internet doesn’t count unless I played a ‘key role’ in DARPA.
Certainly, DARPA’s Internet — an earlier incarnation of the Internet that existed before it was open to the public — was a very different beastie.
But that isn’t The Internet that exists today.
When DARPA controlled the Internet, they wouldn’t have needed to lobby for legislation of Internet Backdoors.
The Internet is not static, but dynamic.
The Internet has evolved.
The Internet of today has evolved enormously precisely because of the interconnection of humans.
It is this international assembly that has so attracted marketers and governments, all of whom seek to co-opt and control the Internet, in order to profit and/or govern the citizens of the Internet.
I certainly didn’t play a key role in DARPA. I had to google DARPA and read about it on Wikipedia to even know what it is. Because I’m nobody. An Internet user. Heck, I’m not even an American.
But the Internet is mine just the same.
Because the thing we all know as The Internet today is a network of parts. Without the people who use it — the citizens of the net — it would not be anything like it has become. Like it is. Because of the things that the Internet makes possible, the world is changing. Ideas are changing. Methods of doing things are changing.
On DARPA’s Internet, the precursor to *my* Internet, it was inconceivable that total strangers from all over the world would come together to produce a free and accessible encyclopedia, much less one that would come to be accepted as reputable.
The point is that Internet is no longer the creature of DARPA.
That may be a key part of the reason the American government
is so testy. Every time the United States filters out a chunk of the Internet, they are building their own “Great Wall” and locking their own citizens behind it. Yet if the United States chooses to gather up its marbles and go home, the rest of us will still be online.
Because the Internet belongs to the whole world —
to everyone who connects to it.
If all of the Citizens of The Internet were to log off, the hollow shell remaining in DARPA’s grasp would hardly be recognizable as anything but a memory of the entity we today recognize as The Internet.
So you see, the Internet is mine. And yours. It’s ours.
And we are Spartacus.
[This is an expansion of my comments on Buzzmachine: Clinton and the freedom to connect]
Image Credit: “Paris – Jardin des Tuileries – Le Serment de Spartacus – Ernest Barrias’ Le Serment de Spartacus (The Oath of Spartacus)” photo by Wally Gobetz wallyg under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License
Earth from space, Apollo 17 mission. Copyright and Credit NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Scientific Visualization Studio, released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) License.
Instead of just adding this to My Comments links I think it deserves a post of it’s own. I’ve no time to get into it further, as I’m working on self publishing my debut novel Inconstant Moon just now, but I know I will need to revisit copyright in depth as soon as IM is released, since Canada is looking at making our already dreadful copyright law worse, and I need to do my bit to try to stop it.
So this is an expanded version of a comment I’ve made to the article:
TeleRead: Specter of e-book piracy looms large on horizon
Seems I missed it last fall, but is still circulating online, so clearly it needs to be addressed. We need to stop the misinformation. I have already written a fair bit about copyright in this blog if you want more, but this is a capsule rebuttal to the piracy fallacy.
Piracy is a Red Herring
Used to be copyright was justified as an encouragement to creators to create more. The thing is the terms have become downright silly… extending copyright terms from fifty to seventy years after the death of the author is not going to encourage the author to create more. Once you’re dead that’s it. The current trend in ridiculous copyright laws don’t benefit the creators, but rather the corporations, who have never been particularly beneficial to creators. Corporations do NOT have the same objectives as creators.
The copyright maximalist contention that shared digital media is equivalent to lost sales is ludicrous.
I own thousands of books. Books that I read before purchasing. Either other people’s copies or library copies. I’ve read some terrible library books and not bought them because didn’t like them. I would NEVER have bought them. I only buy books I like. There are some books that I buy over and obver again so that I can give copies away. (I’m old enough to know I don’t always get copies I lend out back.) Sometimes I’ll take a flyer on writers I have come to like. Still, two consecutive turkeys and I’m done.
[No offense to turkeys. Sandra Boynton has embedded turkeys as an analogy forever in my mind.]
But I want the creators I like to make a living so they can continue to entertain me. I’ve read a lot of dogs to get to the point of knowing which writers I want to read. That’s right, dogs.
[No offense to dogs. Some of my best friends are dogs.]
All those terrible or merely mediocre books, or sometimes books that might have been alright had the advertising not misled me into thinking it would be something else. All those books that the publishers, the so-called ‘gatekeepers.’ have decided were worth printing… I despair when I think of all the books that have been or will be lost from the sum of human knowledge due to copyright. And all the books that were never shared because some idiot who had no idea decided it wasn’t worth printing. Just knowing how many unfortunate books I’ve read, I am certain that there are rather a lot of those.
The combination of digital technology and the Internet is win-win for both creators and audience. The only ones who suffer are the distributors who are trying to pretend that nothing has changed until legislation to turn back the hands of time can be imposed.
I’ve heard this over and over again, because it’s true:
Piracy doesn’t harm writers, obscurity does.
Growing up I didn’t know any of my family history. One of the cool things that I’ve learned is that my paternal ancestor who emigrated to Canada from Alsace was named “Valentine.”
The American Humanist Association would like to see Darwin Day as an official holiday, to celebrate
“Darwin, Science and Humanity.”
You can visit the International Darwin Day website for details of Darwin Day events scheduled around the world.
Today is also an old friend’s birthday…
Although she is younger, quite a lot younger, actually… than old Charles Darwin would be,
were he still alive today… Mare still looks much the same now as she did back when we were college roommates.
Happy Birthday Mary
I’m writing this post on the antique IBM Thinkpad I love to write on. There is a satisfying feel to the keys when I type. The problem today. though, is the horrendously slow Internet connection. Actually, that’s not correct, strictly speaking. The connection is fine, it’s my laptop’s ability to connect that is a problem. It takes a loooong time to do stuff online. This problem is actually a very good thing when writing a novel, because there is zero temptation to go online.
Right now I’m in Toronto to attend a few days of Byron Sonne’s preliminary hearing. There is a judicial gag order restricts what can be published, so I need to be very careful what I write. I hope to have something about Canada’s G20 political prisoner posted soon in the Oh! Canada blog.
We certainly live in Interesting Times
ACTA, WikiLeaks, Egypt, Canadian Copyright Law reform and Usage Based Billing are all hot topics at the moment. There never seems to be a shortage of things to blog about.
Jason Koblovsly has a good blog post about UBB: “Thoughts on Today’s UBB Developments.
But I am most excited about the fact that my debut novel, Inconstant Moon, is almost ready to release. Because the first 50,000 words were written as part of NaNoWriMo, it was blog about the process of self publishing. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of my first Create Space proof, especially their support staff, who have been exceptionally helpful.
Having been convinced that I >had< to have an author photo, my initial inclination was to bypass the photo I liked best in favor of a more conventional pose, until Lance and Mary reminded me the point of self publishing is to publish it my way. <<Thanks! So, that's what I've done. My (hopefully) final edit is done, my re:proof is on its way, and the serialization blog is almost ready to launch.
January 31st, 2011
To: The Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (CC32)
As a writer, one of the people copyright law is supposed to serve, I’m concerned with effects of Bill C-32 on my ability to use technology to create and disseminate my work.
I was willing to trade my creative sovereignty for the opportunity to have my work produced and distributed on television when I was young, because it was the only game in town. That was then. Today, advances in digital technology and the Internet have made a host of new options available to creators. And even though Canada’s current copyright law is problematic, Creative Commons has introduced work-arounds which make it possible for creators to release our “Intellectual Property” as we see fit.
Canada’s current copyright law is harmful to me as a creator, and there is evidence that it is harmful Canadian culture as a whole from aspects like copyright terms that are so long they are detrimental to both creator and public interest. Yet Bill C-32 doesn’t reduce copyright terms or protect the creator’s right to share.
There is also no justification for the existence of Crown Copyright in a democracy. Why doesn’t Bill C-32 follow the good American copyright example of releasing of government funded work directly into the public domain (on the understanding that taxpayers have already paid for it)?
Culture grows through sharing. It used to be Canadians bemoaned the lack of a Canadian “identity.” This cultural void was certainly tied in to the limited exposure Canadians had to our own culture since a few corporations controlled all of our culture.
Today’s combination of hardware, software, media devices, and the Internet makes it possible for creators to create and distribute our work directly to our audience. The new technology has been an incredible boon to both creators and consumers.
The independent Canadian music industry is ushering in an incredible golden age, in spite of the CD levy which penalizes independent creators. Canadians are leading the world with Independent music production and distribution. And nobody is looking for a “Canadian Identity” anymore since Canadian culture is thriving– through sharing– on the Internet. For the first time in more than half a century, Canadian musicians don’t have to sign away the rights to their music to get recorded and distributed.
Special Interest Groups
The major record labels find this a problem because as more musicians choose independence, the established record industry loses market share. CRIA used to own 99% of the recording industry. Now they’re lucky if they have 70% of it.
It’s a challenge for corporations. Historically it would have led to corporate adaptation or demise. Today’s conglomerates have instead chosen to influence legal change.
But copyright law should not be employed to force creators into unsatisfactory arrangements in an attempt to prop up an industry unwilling to adapt.
What is Copyright Law Supposed to Do?
Isn’t copyright supposed to recognize and support the creator’s authorship?
Where did the idea that copyright law was somehow responsible for monetizing the ‘intellectual property’ industry came from? It makes no sense at all. Isn’t it customary for Industry to establish business practices through negotiations and contracts?
If we are to accept this as a valid premise, and proceed to impose Bill C-32 legislation that runs contrary to societal expectation, why stop there? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to apply the same thinking to all other Canadian business endeavors? Instead of contracts and negotiation, the government could legislate precise terms for all industries. The government could set the rates of pay for each job, define the responsibilities. Is that what we want? I suspect we don’t. Why is copyright treated this way?
The needs and best interests of corporations are almost always very different from the needs and best interests of human creators. Copyright should not be transferable, certainly not to corporations. At most, corporations should be limited to licensing copyright for a limited time. A great many of the current problems with copyright law are directly attributable to undue influence of corporations and copyright collectives. We have seen little or no input or consideration for the two most important copyright stakeholders: creators and citizens.
Like corporations, the interests of copyright collectives can differ from the interests of the people who are members. But if membership needs would be better served by removal/reduction of the collective, the existing collective will work to ensure continued existence, even if it is contrary to the best interests of the membership.
Yet some copyright collectives have been vocal in claims they speak on behalf of their entire membership, while others have claimed to speak for all Canadian authors.
There has been copyright collective support for both the CD levy, as well as expansion of it, as well as opposition to the expansion of fair dealing in Bill C-32. That isn’t surprising because the collectives benefit financially from both of those misguided initiatives. That is my perspective as an independent writer, consumer and parent.
Technical Protection Measures, Digital Rights Management, Digital Locks
Regardless of what term you choose, digital locks should not fall under copyright jurisdiction for the simple reason that creators have no control over them.
As written in the current incarnation of Bill C-32, technical protection measures are the most important provision.
This effectively strips all authority from creators. Because creators– and most especially independent creators– don’t hold the keys to these locks.
As an independent writer I oppose digital locks that can be used against me.
Digital locks can be employed to prevent my utilization of digital media, devices or Internet protocols to distribute my work as I see fit.
The freedom technology has lately made available to creators will taken away by Bill C-32.
As a consumer I can’t support a law that allows digital locks to prevent citizens from legitimately using media and devices. It should be illegal for digital locks to impede access to digital material that is in the public domain.
Made In Canada?
Canadian cultural sovereignty should belong to creators, not corporations.
There have been some very persuasive arguments that Bill C32, like Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 before it, has been written to appease our American neighbors. In itself, sacrificing Canadian sovereignty to appease foreign interests would be problematic enough if Canadian copyright law were made to conform to the contours of the American DMCA.
Worse: Bill C-32′s digital locks go far beyond the terms of the American DMCA provisions, so it would not simply be a case of leveling the playing field, Bill C-32 as will effectively put Canadians at a distinct disadvantage.
Iceland is contemplating putting all Icelandic literature online to foster and spread their culture. I submit this would be a better model for copyright emulation than the American DMCA.
The American DMCA contains provisions for mandatory adjustment every three years, and over time it has in fact been lightened up as unintended consequences have been addressed. Yet Canada’s Bill C-32 simply contains a suggestion to look at it every five years. In terms of the speed of digital change, 5 year suggested revision term is horrendous. Bill C-32 would require annual review as a feature.
Copyright needs to be simple enough for all citizens to understand, because more and more people are participating in our shared culture. Many artists believe things must change. The existing law is too strong, but rushing to enact legislation as flawed as Bill C-32 because we are tired of copyright is not the answer.
There are many reasons to use Free-Libre Open Source software for our endeavors. Yet the primacy of digital locks will impede access to such software for all of us.
I want to be able to make my work freely available. My right to do so should not be sacrificed to special interests. Canadian copyright law must support all Canadian creators, even those of us who believe in the importance of sharing.
I cannot support Bill C-32 as it is.
Perhaps I could if you were to remove TPM/DRM/Digital locks altogether. Some people think amending the Bill to permit circumvention for lawful purposes would solve the problem. I disagree. I don’t think consumers should have to circumvent digital locks. If digital locks are applied, it must be up to the parties holding the keys to guarantee the locks will be opened for lawful purposes.
Thank you for the opportunity to be heard. I will of course post my comments to my personal blog. [ http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ ]
Laurel L. Russwurm
CC: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Tony Clement email: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca>
CC: The Honourable James Moore email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Michael Ignatieff email: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca
CC: Legislative Committee Members
(Charlie Angus email: Angus.C@parl.gc.ca , Sylvie Boucher email: Boucher.S@parl.gc.ca , Peter Braid email: Braid.P@parl.gc.ca , Gordon Brown email: Brown.G@parl.gc.ca , Serge Cardin email: Cardin.S@parl.gc.ca , Dean Del Mastro email: DelMastro.D@parl.gc.ca , Marc Garneau email: Garneau.M@parl.gc.ca , Daryl Kramp email: Kramp.D@parl.gc.ca , Mike Lake email: Lake.M@parl.gc.ca , Carole Lavallée email: Lavallee.C@parl.gc.ca,
Dan McTeague email: McTeague.D@parl.gc.ca and Pablo Rodriguez email: Rodriguez.P@parl.gc.ca )
CC: Harold Albrecht email: Albrecht.H@parl.gc.ca
[Image Credit: the copyright jail from Question Copyright Sita Distribution Project remixed with my “Inconstant Moon” cover art by laurelrusswurm]