KILLING THE CONVERSATION: CONCERNING COPYRIGHT CRIMINALIZATION, THE JOY OF FOOTNOTES, AND THE DANGERS OF EBOOKS, MEGA-CORPORATIONS, &c.

KILLING THE CONVERSATION: CONCERNING COPYRIGHT CRIMINALIZATION, THE ...

The following story was shared with me by various people, but I want to draw attention to the presentation of the issue in the Daily Bell, and offer my own thoughts on what is going on. I rarely do such "op-ed" pieces, but since I make my living as a writer, I see two emerging trends with the issue, both of which are extremely dangerous, and it's time to restore sanity to the issue.

The story is that a court in India has curtailed the galloping corporate attempt to criminalize copyright violations, and to view the slightest thing as such infractions:

Delhi Cuts Copyright: Why Are Government Courts Involved at All?

 

So what's the problem here, this is a victory right?

Well, perhaps it is a Pyrrhic one.

On the positive side, it is true that wrapped in the oily rags of the recent "free trade" deals is a philosophy that is designed to use copyright to curtail free speech, and academic and critical review of any sort. This has been a deliberate strategy, and any professional writer these days has encountered it. If, on the one hand, one does write a corporation to obtain permission to cite or quote a publication, more often than not one waits for months to hear back from the corporation. Here's an example: when I was writing Bablyon's Banksters I wrote a major company - and included a stamped self-addressed envelope - for permission to use a few frames of an old  comic book to make a critical argument about the financial system. The envelope was clearly addressed to the correct department. Perhaps that department is overwhelmed by permission requests, but I highly doubt it. If a similar request had come from a representative of some major corporation, the permission would probably have been granted, settled, and all documentation handled that very day, within a week at the outside. I was small fry, so in my case, I waited five months to hear back from said corporation, and finally gave up and published Babylon's Banksters without the original intended frames. Two months after I sent to manuscript to the publisher, the corporation finally replied.

And the nature of their response was highly instructive: all I had to do was acknowledge the original publication and the author/artist. In other words, all I had to do was acknowledge the source, specifically. All I had to do was footnote, which, of course, being academically trained, I do anyway. Even if one is not quoting someone's actual words, academic standards of citation requires the acknowledgement - the "footnoting" - of the source from which one is drawing a piece of information, an opinion, an analysis, or whatever. But it took that corporate behemoth months to compose a simple letter (five minutes), put it in the stamped envelop I sent them (after all, I didn't want to cut into their "bottom line", and a task, making allowances for bureaucratic sluggishness, taking at best another five minutes, and add it to the outgoing mail pile, another five minutes).

This, in effect, is the strategy being used to defeat free speech, open publication, argument, and exchange of ideas: permissions take forever to acquire, and by the time a response  - if any - is given, the conversation has moved on. If, on the other hand, permissions are not sought, as in many cases, then the corporation falls on the "violator" like a ton of bricks. In one case, I sent a permission-to-cite letter to a corporation to cite extensively from a book that my co-author of Rotten to the (Common) Core (Gary Lawrence) and I wanted to bring to readers' attention. if anything, we were trying to promote that author's book in our own and get people to go out and buy it, because we thought it was that good. Once again, I sent a stamped self-addressed envelop to said corporation and to the address given in the front of its publication to ask for permissions. We received no response. And still haven't. We had to proceed without our originally planned block quotations from that book, and it degraded the quality of our own book as a result.

But again, their response, had they had the courtesy to give one, would have been the same: acknowledge the source, title, author, publication, page number(s) from which the quotations appeared, and so on. In other words, in effect, we would have been told to footnote, to give a citation reference. Which is standard practice in research anyway.

So it's a two-pronged corporate strategy to shut down free speech, discussion, commentary, critical analysis, speculation, and argument: (1) delay, and (2) sue. And of course, one may add to this a third strategy: (3) deny permission, if sought, to a source requesting it that one suspects might be opposed to one's own view. And that, of course, is censorship.

And the court in India just put a stop to it, and said, enough is enough. And rightly so, for while copyright may not be a divine right, free speech is, and the problem with free speech is that one must own one's words, i.e., be responsible for them. Once they're out there on the record, as it were, they are fair game if one cites the source and all pertinent information on where to find the words or point being discussed, and one does not need a permission letter to do so provided the citation is there. In other words, I am arguing that citation itself argues that the intention of permission is fulfilled. If the current trends in corporate copyright strategy continue, all discussion, all analysis, all speech, all newspapers, TV commentaries, and so on, will shut down. Completely. Totally. And with that, the gears of civilization and progress and creativity and invention and technological innovation will cease with it. In short, the road that corporations are on with respect to this issue is a dead end. Literally. No one will be able to play someone else's music in a coffee house with a hat on the floor for tips and donations without violating copyright, even though they may specifically say "we're now going to do a song by the Beatles, or Johnny Cash," or whomever, without violating copyright and having a corporation haul them into court.

So on that score, kuddos to the court in India.

But...

...on the other hand, the end result of the kind of radical LIbertarian approach implicated in The Daily Bell's article is a similar dead end, and I dare call it Marxism. For the whole point of large corporations - Disney or Sony or Random House or whoever - who publish a film, or a music recording, or a book, is to foster creativity and discussion. After all, composers, film makers, actors, artists, authors, movie studios or recording corporations, make their living off their creations. That's the whole purpose of copyright: to allow them to do so. But in the "radical libertarian world", once it's out there, it's free to anyone. From each according to their ability, to each according to their necessity. Notably, the Daily Bell piece ends this way:

There are plenty of ways that creative people can make money absent patents and intellectual property rights. But one ought not to be confused about the larger framework. For such an environment to work properly, state-supported corporate power has to diminish. Corporate person-hood (which didn’t exist before the Civil War) and monopoly central banking will come under attack as well.

Notably absent here is any specific elucidation of how "creative people can make money absent patents and intellectual property rights." If one does not own one's creation as property then there is no property of any kind. And this is the ultimate Marxist reductio.

So what's the solution? The solution has been there all along, for it evolved precisely from the considerations of property in balance with the considerations for free speech, thought, and inquiry: the footnote, for the footnote is the end result of the "permission" to cite, and hence, I would argue, fulfills the requirement for the intention not to infringe on someone else's property. It acknowledges the original creator's words, notes, films, pictures, and also acknowledges the fact that human bureaucracies - corporate or otherwise - are always slower than the processes of creativity and the conversations about them. This means, too, that one cannot simply "lift" someone else's work, and publish the whole thing on the internet or elsewhere, at a cheaper price, or even free, without doing damage to that individual's or corporation's bottom line and ability - quite literallly - to survive.

And with ebook formats ruining the ability for accurate scholarly citations in referencing orthography, and the dumbed-down systems of citations promoted by modern American quackademia, it's high time to get back to real books, with real citations, and to restore the conversation. These the current corporate strategies, or radical libertarian and in effect, disguised Marxist arguments, fail to do.

Rant over.

See you on the flip side...

19 thoughts on “ KILLING THE CONVERSATION: CONCERNING COPYRIGHT CRIMINALIZATION, THE ...”

  1. I remember the disque companies going batty over the sale of magentic tape cassettes back in the 80’s..(cant remember anything before that.. must have And how happy my cousin was that she could record ‘mix tapes’ off the radio.
    Im all up for the freedom of speech/information.. Im off to download The Pisa Death Tower by Yosef Parrol. Fantastic new e-book..Even the footnotes are footnoted..

    I think I need more coffee.. What I think we need to be careful abouit, is that the acquisition of money and the protection of rights doesnt stall the transfusion and accessibility of information. We (as a species) need to rebuild the Library of Alexandria and this time make it out of Asbestos.

    1. The Internet doesnt count as being the new Library.. Its started out being a wonderful projet and it got hi jacked by pronography and bit coins.. Something like Wikipedia is needed, but we need to make sure that it cant have its articles changed by everyone.

  2. ironic. i noticed today i hadn’t seen a giza email notification in some time. toddled down to gizadeathstar.com and found that the last time i posted was 9/13 on

    EM DRIVE TO GET TEST IN SPACE…

    and then the email notification promptly stopped. anyone else been ditched by the group? remember this game played by kids (and sometimes adults)? group strolling along and suddenly everyone takes off except for the one person in the group unaware of the scam the rest of the group just played on him. as warren buffett said before his corruption was outed by the purchase of wachovia by wells:

    when you sit down at the card table and you can’t tell who the sucker at the table is, it’s you.

    this seems a new twist on the censors. anyone else seen such a think?

    even more ironic. that i figure this out when reading this article.

    more ironic that that? that i’m dumb enough to put in the time to catch up all those articles and comments i missed this last week.

    see you all in another week when i get caught up. now i gotta look back at those comments made on 9/13 and wonder what about those comments warranted such a silent purge? any bets on whether or not this comments gets moderated?

    thank you all and goodnight.
    zdb

    1. I just noticed tonight that I hadn’t gotten any GDS email notifications for a while, either. Looked and the last email from them was on the 13th. I rarely comment, so it might not be that in your case, zdb. I’d guess that something must be up with their system. By the way, I usually always really like your comments. Can’t imagine that GDS wouldn’t. 11:10 PM PDT.

      1. thank you jeannie. looked over my youtube subscriptions. haven’t seen any changes. first guessing is that google is reverse censoring? limiting my intake sources? wonder who else google’s cutting an audience away from.

        curious to see if i ever get notifications back on from gds or from yt for doc. and when.

        thank you again. nothing like a bit of gaslighting now and they eh?

    2. Hey ZDB and Jeannie.
      I noticed too! The last RSS feed for the blog was 9/13, but I still get all the comments. Also, I no longer get the N&V or other announcements. The latest blog no longer shows up on Doc’s daily Twitter feed … but all the comments do. I relied on seeing it every day so I could immediately retweet it … now I have to hunt up the webpage to retweet from there (extra step!). All the glitches seemed to happen around the time Daniel made changes to the website. I’m going to open a support ticket and maybe he can reset the feeds. I do miss them and found them very useful. You might do the same since I’m not the only one noticing this.

  3. Joseph, you are not paranoid enough (grin):

    Your name was ‘referenced’ somewhere along the snail-mail path, and your file was brought up. Somebody made an evaluation of whether your profile fit TPTB/corporate goals. Evidently not. So, your letter was put in a pigeon-hole somewhere.

    I suspect that you are in a ‘watch’ category, so the prospective publication-date of your books is known. All that they had to do was wait you out. The granting-of-permission two months AFTER you gave-up and went to publication would indicate this.

    Joseph, you are trying to retain a ‘fair’ worldview. Your article-analysis works, within a ‘fair’ worldview. I just don’t think this is a ‘fair’ world, at this point in time…

  4. One professor copyright the word “freedom” to make a point.
    MasterCard sued Nader for using the word priceless in a presidential ad.
    The pendulum is swinging too far to the right!

  5. I wonder what copyright would have done to Newton’s work? The ancients wrote what they either thought, or information they were “given”.
    Today, as the world gets nuttier we have the elites making rules to suit them, I call treason !!!!!!

  6. Intellectual Property … my friend, the day has come when any property one has is fair game to be kidnapped by another, re-distributed by governments and corporations for their profit, and those of us who exercise free speech and write will be made prisoners for our ideas. Who is John Galt? This outrages me nearly as much as the present attempt to turn students into automated responses assessed by programs in a computer! We have fallen off the earth and landed in a rabbit hole with the Mighty Oz sitting on a throne.

  7. The Western Elites really uber-barbarians-savages plan to reduce mentally and number wise the rest of us to mindless brutes. They have sent the price of books through the roof destroyed the brick and mortar bookstores comicbooks. Copyright which in theory was created to protect the creator right to profit from their creations has been used by corporations to steal from them witness a case in point of the comicbook Superman. The creators had to sue and wait till they were at death door it get some crumbs in payment from DC.

  8. We live in a Rollerball.Inc world. The .Incs run the show and make no bones about it. Courts can rule anyway they want and the Big.Incs will simply delay, sue and move the venue to some court where they can purchase the justice they want. This in your face, two tiered “legal” system is the major underpinning of our Rollerball.Inc society..

  9. At this point in the “game”, do you think they have realized that by stifling our creativity, they are dooming themselves to failure? Without creativity, there is no progress. Corporations have to hire people to work for them, they depend on and require them to be creative to advance the corporations business. Their self defeating, dumbing us down in order to control us, will only result in, not only our failure, but theirs in the long run.
    We are obviously near or currently in their end game for total world domination for them to begin to cut their own throats in such a manner.
    The passage of the TPP and the invasion of every nation by third world, ignorant, skill less, and religiously radicalized masses will only further that endgame.
    It is an extremely dangerous time for them, should those sleeping, unwashed masses wake up to what is really going on. This is obvious by the propaganda mills constant output to keep our focus elsewhere, the push for global conflict, the outright theft of all money from every source through criminal fraud of every type, and the extreme pressure to make global corporations above all law and sovereign nations.
    The copyright fiasco is but one facet of this extremely well thought out, long term, and largely, in the dark when no one is looking, plan.

    1. Woobs.. Hit the “Report” link by mistake. Please disregard.. Good point, Globalism has been a disaster. The PTB inbreeding is showing after shooting holes in the life boat they can’t understand why their feet are getting wet.

  10. It is always tyranny of the open or closed sort meaning difficult to see for most people or shoved under your nose and every one knows it.

    The choise is always between those two, really what are you thinking in benefitting all sides by the simple solution of quoting in a proper form!?

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