Archive for the ‘copyright’ Category
Although very profitable to some, today’s wars are almost invisible…
unless you or your loved ones are in it.
This is how “war is over” should look.
This pretty photo was taken on a nice sunny day; it is too wet to risk my digital camera today. Still, my cats want to go outside because clearly Hallowe’en is exciting. But I’ve heard cats are much safer indoors for this holiday. Tonight I am busy with politics and Hallowe’en and outlining my new novel, which I will begin writing when NaNoWriMo begins at midnight.
I anticipate that this blog will be very quiet during Novemeber as I write the first draft of my historical novel “Unregrettable.” But I’ll be back
During the course of my lifetime I’ve seen cataclysmic upheavals in the law dealing with “intellectual property” monopolies. This isn’t like the Law of Gravity, these monopoly restrictions on our culture exist only through the imposition of man made laws. The fluidity of the jargon and legal terminology make it extremely difficult for most people to understand copyright issues.
Since additions to copyright are only made possible by removals from the Public Domain, any change in copyright law makes the Public Domain equally confusing. It’s no wonder most of us aren’t entirely sure what the Public Domain is.
This excellent definition clearly explains what is included in today’s “Public Domain.”
A work is considered to be in the public domain when it is not under copyright for one of several reasons:
- It may never have been under copyright;
- it may have passed out of copyright; or
- rights to claim copyright in the work may have been forfeited.
- Also, works created by the U.S. government do not have copyright protection.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “public domain” as “the condition of being free from copyright or patent and, hence, open to use by anyone.”
In other words, you can legally use everything in the Public Domain for anything you want to do with it, including making money, without having to ask permission of anyone, or pay anyone royalties.
The public domain belongs to all of us, equally.
Even with the erosion wreaked by copyright law, the Public Domain remains an incredibly rich cultural resource. For more information, my “Free Culture” page includes links to many Public Domain resources.
The Public Domain definition quoted above is an excerpt from “Images of Works of Art in Museum Collections: The Experience of Open Access” Prepared for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by Kristin Kelly June 2013 which the Council on Library and Information Resources made available under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license,
This is where you will find the messages about DRM posted to the public W3C Mailing List:
Read down for my previous articles discussing this.
Dear Mr. Clifford:
Just so you know, a devil’s advocate is one who argues against their own belief in an argument, clearly *not* what you are doing here.
1) If DRM is not in the specification, why is backwards compatibility required?
2) As you point out, since DRM is only effective when supported by law, it begs the question: why is DRM necessary?
It is the law, not DRM, which does the work of fighting bootlegging. DRM serves only to thwart ordinary people engaging in their own personal uses.
It has been demonstrated over and over again that the bootleggers that DRM is supposed to stop always find ways to circumvent DRM. DRM is really only most effective against those who can not circumvent it, whether they are blind people prevented from running an ebook though software that will make it accessible, or the student wanting to watch a public domain film, or the senior who wants to copy a grandchild’s home video.
3) I certainly never said “I create therefore its yours is a de facto truth.”
Like every creator since the beginning of time, you most certainly do have absolute control over your own creations, so long as you keep them safely locked up in your own private domain (i.e. unpublished). Once anyone publishes their work into the public domain, the work is no longer private, and the reality has always been that the creator loses absolute control over their work at this point.
When your work is performed in front of my eyes, or played into my ears, it stops being solely your work, because it is now part of my sensibility. When many people see/hear/touch a work it becomes part of our shared culture. We share and talk about our culture with our friends. A thriving culture, like a thriving Internet, requires interoperability because it is a shared thing.
Unless you have been raised by wolves in a cave, like all of us, the reality is that you have been influenced by all of the culture that you have been exposed to. Any creative work that arises out of your own sensibilities has been influenced by the work of the other creators you have been exposed to over the course of your life, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. There is no doubt in my mind that George Harrison believed “My Sweet Lord” was a totally original composition when he wrote it.
The imposition of copyright monopolies over the past few hundred years has attempted to alter that reality with the legal imposition of cultural restraint. When creators (or more often corporate rightsholders) impose state granted monopoly rights onto the culture, it violates the sovereignty of human beings to be influenced by the work of others and remix it into their own creations.
Copyright never did guarantee any creator a right to make a living. All it does is turn our former free culture into permission culture. The resultant copyright chill impedes the free creation of new work. Artists don’t dare expand on a theme, and writers can’t safely quote a few lines of prose without first consulting lawyers.
In fact, creators made a living long before there was copyright. Human beings have been creating art probably even before we painted pictures on cave walls.
Yet even with our current permission culture in place, Josh Woodward is one of the most successful independent musicians I know, and he licences all his readily available creative work with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0 US) License.
It isn’t the W3C’s place to decide on the validity of the various copyright monopolies, however, but rather to establish Web Standards that support an interoperable open web. This is another compelling reason why copyright issues, up to and including DRM, should not appear in W3C specifications.
4) I agree there are legitimate arguments against encrypted media content. And as a creator from a creative family, I well understand the arguments in favour of copyright, and by extension, DRM.
As most of the world has seen over this past week with all the PRISM revelations, there are certainly good arguments for encryption. Banks employ good encryption now. Very often (as with PRISM) it is human action that endangers our private data. Encrypted email is certainly a good thing. When sharing digital photographs of private individuals, or sending out unpublished work, even I have plastered passwords over web content. This has always been possible without requiring the inclusion of DRM in the W3C web specification. It is a red herring to suggest that universal DRM is necessary to facilitate security.
As I said before, I have been certain that free culture will win out eventually. But that confidence presupposes a free market. If DRM can be used to shoehorn copyright maximalism into the very structure of the Internet, if DRM becomes both the default and the norm, independent creators will be shut out and the Internet will stop being open and interactive and become the modern incarnation of television.
5) This *is* advocacy.
Even if I wanted to coerce anyone, which I don’t, in order to dictate, I would require the power of coercion, which I simply don’t have. Unlike Copyright Law, which is itself an example of state backed coercion.
The funny thing is, even though all the influence, power and money resides in the hands of copyright maximalists, I don’t think coercion is necessary. Though the apparent advantage is theirs, culture and artistic creation are human essentials. We are driven to create and share. As creators come to realize that we can create as well or better without the state imposed coercion of monopolies, we will win out eventually. I think the special interests know, this, which is why so much effort has gone into changing the rules.
I don’t want to force you to share your work any way you are not comfortable with, Mr. Clifford. Lock it up with all the DRM you like. All I want is to reserve the right to avoid such content. My concern is that the inclusion of DRM in the web specification will lead to the imposition of DRM across the Internet. That would strip creators and users of our ability to make our own choices.
6) Attribution existed long before copyright law. Neither copyright law or DRM are needed to ensure attribution. If anything, the prevailing copyright maximalism is encouraging many people to not attribute the works they share for fear of reprisal. Best practice is to always attribute any cultural work.
Plagiarism is not covered by Copyright Law either, nor is it remedied by DRM.
Seriously, Mr. Clifford, if it were not for corporate incursions into the personal sphere, I would not be here arguing about the merits of copyright or DRM. Like most everyone else, I used to accept the legitimacy of copyright law. Copyright used only to be the concern of creators, publishers, lawyers and bootleggers.
In the zeal to impose control over the new digital mediums, Corporate Special Interests have been successfully lobbying governments to erode the rights of people, audiences, users, and creators.
Over the course of my life, the reach of copyright has spread from the commercial realm into the personal, making it possible for activities that used to be perfectly acceptable to result in criminalization. Today’s children need to understand copyright law before creating, copying or sharing anything for their own self protection. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could be bankrupted or jailed for non-commercial copyright infringement.
Web Standards are intended to secure the free exchange of digital ideas and content, DRM exists to limit the free exchange of digital ideas and content. Were it not for the unrelenting efforts of dedicated corporate lobbyists, no one would even be considering incorporating DRM into the HTML5 specification.
Laurel L. Russwurm
This letter is now posted on the W3C Discussion List
See the whole list: W3C – DRM – HTML5.
I kept checking back, but it wasn’t posted to the list. I assume that my letter had to be vetted by a moderator before even being considered. Then there was a further delay because I next received an email where I was asked to agree to allow my letter(s) to be posted publicly and archived online forever. Finally, my letter was posted online.
Dear Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web Consortium:
Re: Keep DRM out of Web standards — Reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal
As a middle aged mother, I’ve been learning (and sharing what I’ve learned) about net neutrality, the importance of free software, free culture, nd an open Internet, ever since I began hand coding my own HTML web pages and participating on the Internet in 2009. As a creator from a creative family, as well as publishing my own content online, I run a blog for my eighty three year old father. I have come to consider myself a netizen.
One reason DRM is dangerous is that it can hide all manner of spyware and malware from users. Another is that most people don’t even know what it is, or if they do, how to recognize it. While governments have allowed large corporations and media conglomerates to cripple digital products with DRM, there is no requirement anywhere in the world to to inform customers or computer users of such application.
I have avoided DRM wherever possible, but even with the absurd extension of copyright laws, I have been certain that free culture will win out eventually. But that confidence presupposes a free market.
In Canada where I live, our new Copyright Act makes it illegal to circumvent DRM for any reason at all, even if the the circumvention is allowed under our “fair dealing” exemptions, or if the DRM is applied inappropriately. I consider the application of DRM to freely licensed or public domain creative works to be inappropriate.
This is a huge concern for me, both as a cultural consumer and as a self publishing author. Existing copyright law has prevented me from even seeing the finished production of one of my own works.
Independent creators and Internet users are already at a huge disadvantage, because the large media special interests have the wherewithal to successfully lobby governments around the world into maximizing copyright laws and the attendant copyright monopoly to their own great benefit, at our expense.
These large and powerful special interest groups have long had a seat at the W3C table. But where is there representation for Internet users?
Most of the public does not even know W3C exists, let alone how to comment on an issue such as this. Although I am passionately interested in the subject, until I read Harry Halpin’s Guardian article last week, I had no idea there was any way for Internet users or creators to express our dismay beyond signing the Defective By Design’s “Keep DRM out of Web standards — Reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal” Petition. But Mr. Halpin pretty much implies that petition wasn’t enough.
Although Canada has been a world leader in Internet adoption, most Canadians are still not online. For most of those who are, participation on Facebook signifies the height of technical prowess. Certainly most Canadians haven’t even heard of the Guardian, and so will not have even read the article.
Mr. Halpin essentially gave me the weekend to get the word out. This weekend Identi.ca, the social network of choice for a great many people who are aware of these issues, is undergoing a massive migration from a backend of StatusNet to pump.io software. Many users like myself have been consumed in setting up our own federated status net instances. As well, those of us with privacy concerns have been caught up in the NSA Prism news story. For myself, I’ve had two major family happenings this weekend in addition to those online issues.
Maybe a few people who understand the issue will have read the blog post I wrote, but a weekend is not much time. Especially considering that the special interests that want DRM written into the Web Standard have been at the table for so very much longer.
Until the W3C holds a widely publicized meaningful consultation process, that Free Software Petition must be given at least as much weight as the opinions of any other group of stakeholders. Perhaps more, since the inclusion of DRM in the standard panders to the direct benefit of a specific special interest lobby group. Internet Users are easily the largest group of stakeholders, and our exclusion from the process means that the W3C must look out for the public good.
Keeping even a whiff of DRM out of the Web Standard will not harm the corporate special interests who lobby so effectively for it. They can just continue on as they have been, locking their own content behind DRM. Allowing the DRM toehold EME provides will lead to DRM becoming the default.
DRM exists to break interoperability. If DRM is allowed into the W3C Standard, it will become the W3C Standard. If W3C supports this, it will sacrifice the free and open Internet, not just for us, but for generations to come.
Please don’t do this.
Laurel L. Russwurm