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Peter T Chattaway

The pros and cons of "piracy".

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Links to the first and second threads where this issue came up recently.

Links to our threads on 'file sharing NOT illegal, court rules' (Apr 2004), 'Lawmakers Support Scaling Back Copyright Law, Call your representative' (May 2004), 'The End of Copyrights as We Know It?' (Nov 2004) and 'How copyright could be killing culture' (Jan 2005 - Jun 2006),

Link to our thread on Song of the South (1946), where the fact that I saw the film on a bootleg DVD -- now, as then, the only way to see the film, at least in North America -- prompted some interesting discussion between myself, SDG, kenmorefield, M. Dale Prins, and Darrel Manson, among others.

A lot of interesting ground is covered at that last link, in particular. But, I'd like to underscore some of the key points raised in those other threads and toss out just a few supplementary thoughts, as well, e.g.:

First, I'm old enough to remember how the studios once argued that it was illegal to tape things off of TV, so I'm skeptical around a lot of the legal arguments they make nowadays, too.

Second, "support the artist" rhetoric falls on deaf ears with me when we're talking about anything older than a couple decades. In the U.S., at least, I believe copyright originally lasted only 14 years, with another 14 years tacked on if the copyright holder applied for an extension; the idea that someone could own a monopoly on a work of art nearly a century after it was created -- and decades after the deaths of all the people who made it -- is simply ridiculous. (And yes, under the original copyright laws, the *entire* original Star Wars trilogy -- to say nothing of the much-bootlegged Star Wars Holiday Special -- would now be in the public domain, thereby allowing dedicated fans to do all the restoration and preservation of the original versions of those films that Lucas himself refuses to do.)

Third, there are plenty of (legal, as far as I know) browser add-ons that allow you to download your own copies of videos hosted by YouTube, Vimeo, and so on. Thus, when critics are given access to a password-protected copy of a film on one of those websites, it is extremely easy to download it and copy it to your devices for further reference. This may or may not be technically illegal -- I don't know -- but is there a relevant moral problem here, given that the filmmaker was letting you see the movie for free anyway? (Suppose, for now, that the critic who downloads said film makes a point of never sharing or giving a copy of the film to anyone else.)

Fourth, critics are in a particularly peculiar situation here inasmuch as we often get to see movies for free anyway, for review purposes. (And those who aren't invited to see movies for free by the studio are sometimes let into the theatre by friendly managers.) And then there are all the screeners that get sent out during awards season. So what, exactly, would be the problem *for critics* in turning to a torrented download of a film for review or awards-voting purposes, given that your purpose in downloading it would be to give the film free publicity?

Fifth, what about those occasions when some corporate suit gets in the way of the artist? I think here of the time that Warner refused to air an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the U.S. because of its alleged similarities to the Columbine shooting; as it happened, the Canadian network that showed Buffy went ahead and aired the episode anyway, so Buffy fans on this side of the border began sending VHS copies to their friends down south, and Joss Whedon himself said "Bootleg that puppy!" before the studio made him toe the line.

Sixth, this morning I showed up for a screening of On the Road that ended up not happening because someone forgot to send the theatre the hard drive and/or forgot to tell the critics that the screening had been cancelled. Afterwards, I was talking to a couple guys who told me that the version of the film out there on BitTorrent is the original, longer version of the film that played at Cannes, but not the shorter version that we would have seen this morning. So. When a studio deliberately withholds a version of a film, is downloading that version -- for, say, comparison's sake, whether that comparison is openly stated or simply something that the critic keeps in the back of his mind while writing his review -- necessarily a problem? (I assume a critic writing for a current North American audience should at least review the same version of the film that his audience is going to see. See also the debate that followed when David Poland "reviewed" the original cut of Gangs of New York a decade ago, arguing that it reflected Martin Scorsese's vision better than the theatrical cut; a number of people apparently thought it was wrong for Poland to see and/or admit to seeing a bootleg copy of that earlier cut.)

Seventh, to quote what I wrote in the Song of the South thread seven years ago (I don't know what sort of follow-up there may have been to this since then): "Incidentally, I live in a country where, at the risk of oversimplifying, a judge recently ruled that the unauthorized copying and transmission of recorded media was permissible, partly because the government already taxes all sales of blank tapes and CDs and DVDs and gives the money (or a share of it) to the recording industries." And note, too, that in at least one of our other threads, the point was made that copyright laws don't exist in certain other countries, at least not in any way that is comparable to what the American studios would like to see.

So. Are there any other wrinkles that I haven't considered here yet?

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Pierrot   
There's one more important development, too large to be discussed adequately here. The control over commerce, goods, and pricing meant that not everyone was able to get, or afford, what they wanted (or needed.) Simultaneously, the state itself had to compete against other states for markets and materials. This necessitated an underground economy and related class; a class so necessary to and intertwined with these untenable economic policies that they are celebrated even today: pirates. They were the logical and inevitable extension of controlled commerce; were extremely skilled, and often navigated the shipping lanes with more knowledge and flexibility than even the military. They worked for themselves, or they worked for the state, as the situation arose.

In the new world order, shipping is the internet; the goods are data.

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Tyler   

Jamin Winans talked about piracy quite a bit around the release of Ink. (It was one of the most-illegally-downloaded movies of the year.)

Here and here, for example.

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NBooth   
In the U.S., at least, I believe copyright originally lasted only 14 years, with another 14 years tacked on if the copyright holder applied for an extension; the idea that someone could own a monopoly on a work of art nearly a century after it was created -- and decades after the deaths of all the people who made it -- is simply ridiculous. (And yes, under the original copyright laws, the *entire* original Star Wars trilogy -- to say nothing of the much-bootlegged Star Wars Holiday Special -- would now be in the public domain, thereby allowing dedicated fans to do all the restoration and preservation of the original versions of those films that Lucas himself refuses to do.)

See, this is what really bugs me about copyright laws as they currently stand in the US. In my more starry-eyed moments, I might say that it constitutes a stranglehold on the very ways in which culture is generated: i.e. via re-mixing and re-vamping and re-booting. It also keeps (for instance) books out of print that might very well be uploaded to the internet/made available in cheap editions if the rights weren't still being held by the original corporation/company/whatever.

There's also the issue of those shows/movies/music that are worth seeing/hearing, but aren't available outside of their country of origin. Sometimes the situation gets rectified--as when Misfits finally made the jump to Hulu--but sometimes it simply isn't (because there isn't enough interest internationally or what-have-you), and I have a hard time thinking that anyone--artist, corporation, whatever--is being robbed when people download those programs/movies/albums.

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Oh, here's another example of the corporations getting in the way of the artist: For some reason the soundtrack to Hoodwinked! was yanked off the market, so when I went looking for it, I asked John Mark Painter (who composed the score and, I think, co-wrote some of the songs) where I could find it, and he replied by putting a link to a "bootleg" copy of the soundtrack on his MySpace page (it's still there). I didn't think twice about downloading it, not when I had the artist himself basically telling me to do it, and not when the studio was refusing to make it available in any other way.

Something else I was going to include in the top post above, except the crappy wi-fi at Starbucks kept getting in the way, was these articles by Mike D'Angelo:

- - -

Why I Pirate Movies: A Self-Justification.

Whole lotta chatter on the Interwebs the last couple of days about piracy, inspired largely by The Oatmeal's typically amusing comic about trying to legally acquire Game of Thrones. My friend Noel Murray was one of many who noted that while Inman's portrait of today's media consumer as a lost soul wandering through Dickens' circumlocution office is accurate, Game of Thrones comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on 6 March, so in essence he's whining about having to wait a whole two more weeks. Which is admittedly a tad ridiculous.

In that particular scenario, however, Inman was looking to buy. Things get a little trickier if you want to rent something, especially when that something is a motion picture made before roughly 2003. So let me explain why I will be illegally downloading Criterion's Anatomy of a Murder later tonight. . . .

When I was given the opportunity to pay a reasonable fee to rent, I happily did so, and was more than willing to kick in the Blu-ray surcharge that both sites imposed. Now that that option has been withdrawn, my non-piracy choices are (a) spend $30 or so to purchase a movie I don't (in most cases) wish to permanently own, or <b> not watch the movie. Neither of those is acceptable to me. Furthermore, I can't see how my downloading these films is depriving anybody of income, since I delete those I don't love immediately after viewing them and buy physical copies of those I do love—or, if I can't afford them right this second, add them to a wishlist. Either way, I watch the file and then nuke it. The only films that I've downloaded illegally and then burned to disc are The Arbor and Godard's A Married Woman, and that's only because there's no Region 1 Blu-ray of those two titles. (I don't have a region-free player.)

I don't pirate movies out of some sorry sense of entitlement. I pirate movies because at the present moment I know of no other means of watching a high-definition copy of an older film without buying it outright. And that's ridiculous. . . .

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Got into a debate on Twitter with someone at Masters Of Cinema (basically the U.K. Criterion). Understandably, they take a hard anti-piracy line: It's stealing, period. So I asked them what they suggest I do, and their answer—I swear I am not making this up—was that I should purchase every single film I want to watch, and then resell the ones I don't want to keep (the vast majority) on eBay or Amazon or whatever. "You'll hardly end up spending anything," they hilariously claimed. That's the mindset we're dealing with here.

Mike D'Angelo, February 21

Critic's Notebook: Is It Wrong to Download Pirated Movies? Not Quite, Says One Critic.

Response to my blog post about this issue ran about 80% thoughtful and measured, 20% inane and heated. (I was also challenged by multiple folks on Twitter, even though that's not an ideal forum for lengthy debate.) Here are the most common objections that were lodged, none of which I find terribly persuasive.

"Would you steal a car for a day and then return it? Is that okay, smart guy? Huh?"

Actually, I might, if there were suddenly no car-rental options in existence, and if "stealing" the car merely involved touching it to create an exact duplicate, leaving the original intact. (Example swiped from a stand-up routine by Mindy Kaling. But she can still use it!) Comparisons to traditional notions of theft are silly. We consider those wrong because they do obvious, quantifiable harm. If I download a film that I had no intention of buying, or that I do in fact buy after I've seen it and decide it's worth owning, nobody has been deprived of anything. There isn't even any lost revenue, since (a) I can't rent the films anyway (that's why I'm pirating them), and (<b> I still pay monthly membership fees to Netflix or whoever (for the titles they do rent), which is constant regardless of whether they acquire Buster Keaton's "Seven Chances" on Blu. . . .

"Even if you're not doing any harm per se, isn't participating in a harmful system morally questionable?"

Piracy does unquestionably cost the studios some money, though studies suggest that they tend to exaggerate the damage. Should I take some of the responsibility for the kids who'll download "Battleship"? That's like saying that people who have a glass of wine at dinner should feel guilty about the victim of a drunk driver thousands of miles away. Granted, the analogy is imperfect—technically, downloading any film is illegal, whereas alcohol consumption is not—but just extend it to the Prohibition era, if you like. If we can't agree that folks who quietly flouted that law in private (or who smoke weed at home today, for that matter) weren't (aren't) evil-enabling scumbags, then there's just no common ground here. . . .

Mike D'Angelo, March 30

- - -

To which Matt Singer replied, among other things:

Now in this case D'Angelo sounds like he's watching "Anatomy of a Murder" for personal curiosity, but that may -- may, I said, may -- raise one legitimate reason why critics like D'Angelo *should* be able to see a restoration of an old film without paying for it: critical research. What if D'Angelo had to write an article on director Otto Preminger and he was on deadline and the only video store in his neighborhood didn't carry "Anatomy of a Murder" (for all I know, that is exactly the situation that prompted D'Angelo to watch the film)? Even more generally: should a critic have access to any film he wants? A critic's talents are directly proportional to his or her film knowledge. But financially speaking, film criticism is in even worse shape than video retail. Film critics can't afford to drop $40 a pop for Criterion Blu-rays. Does playing by the rules doom a film critic to a certain degree of ignorance?

For whatever that's worth.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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NBooth   

This bit:

"Would you steal a car for a day and then return it? Is that okay, smart guy? Huh?"

Actually, I might, if there were suddenly no car-rental options in existence, and if "stealing" the car merely involved touching it to create an exact duplicate, leaving the original intact

Reminded me of The IT Crowd on piracy (keep in mind, some of the humor is a bit crass):

Edited by NBooth

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Yeah...as an artist, I find the comparison to stealing a car to online pirating a highly flawed argument. When you can download a car off the internet we can reconsider.

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Just to clarify my personal issue, since it seems to have become a bit of a conversation starter. the movies I was downloading were Blu Ray, and DVD rips of recent movies a couple weeks before their release on bluray/dvd, so that I could review the movies before they were released so that the review would be posted around the time of release so that people could thenread the review timed to decide to maybe rent the movie that very week.

That was my justification. As Per Mike D'Angelo's "I only download movies I can't rent" does he mean not available for rent, or can't afford to rent? I can't afford to rent half the movies I want to review as we are a one income household til I find a job. I can afford to rent one movie, return it the next day for credit, and try to do my reviews by that, but sometimes there's a lot of movies just come out for rent that I want to see, and not necessarily to review. Some of the movies, okay many of the movies I downloaded were movies I didn't really want to pay for otherwise like say the recent Resident Evil. I downloaded it, and would never spend any money on it to see again. Therefore the copyright issue I think applies to Paul Anderson and the actors and actresses who played a part in making the movie, because now that money I didn't spend will never get spent, and thus they have lost my revenue.

Other movies like Safety Not Guaranteed, etc. I did review, and I do believe brought extra revenue to their artists for the fact. Many people have said, oh I wanna see that now, after reading a review of mine. So not only have I paid back my lack of money, but added to it as well. And some movies like Take Shelter, I have gone on to buy when they come in an affordable used copy, etc.

This is not to justify my actions. Moreso to explain my rationalizations, but also to point out the flaw in some of them, and how they don't actually apply to what I see Peter arguing for.

One thing I do think applies to Peter's argument is the fact that I see -many- movies when they finally arrive to my library. I don't pay for these, I "borrow" them if you, but I believe libraries have some kind of deal with studios and such to be able to do this, and somehow the artists get paid.

There are some bright lines, as Michael Leary so well put it, and I think it's good to define those lines.

Edited by Justin Hanvey

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Justin Hanvey wrote:

: As Per Mike D'Angelo's "I only download movies I can't rent" does he mean not available for rent, or can't afford to rent?

Can't rent, period. Someone at Masters of Cinema apparently told him he should buy all the movies he wants to see and then re-sell them when he's done with them, and they apparently told him in all seriousness that he would lose almost no money this way. That sounds absurd in the extreme, to me. (Plus, it doesn't solve the problem of timeliness. Video-on-demand rentals can be streamed instantly. But if a movie is only available for purchase and not as a rental, and you "buy" it online (because you can't wait for the hard copy to arrive in the mail), through iTunes or Google Play or whatever, then who are you going to re-sell it to afterwards? We've already seen Bruce Willis and others wake up to the reality that they won't be able to leave their iTunes collections to their children in their wills -- not legally, anyway.)

Affordability is definitely a point to consider here, though. I copied lots of movies on VHS back in my college days -- in addition to the movies I taped off of TV (which, remember, the studios once argued ought to be illegal, too) -- because I needed to build up an easily-accessible personal research library and I simply didn't have the money to buy everything. Since I was in college at the time, I didn't see it as all that different from photocopying essays and whatnot while working on my term papers.

On a completely unrelated note, I cannot help but also notice that many A&Fers have swapped mix tapes and CDs over the years, and we may have even discussed said swapping here. (I still have a few such mixes that I got from A&Fers -- and, incidentally, I actually went on to buy *entire albums* as a result of hearing songs from those albums on those mixes.) How does this not raise the same issues re: copyright and "piracy" and whatnot?

Incidentally, here's another question that occurred to me since my last post: If we feel free to ignore region coding on our DVD players, what do we do with software that allows us to watch videos that are only available on websites in other countries? There are lots of movies on Netflix Canada that are not on Netflix US, and vice versa. If I use a software trick to fool Netflix US into thinking that my computer is in the US and not in Canada, where does *that* fall on the legal-moral spectrum, so long as I am genuinely paying Netflix US my eight bucks per month? (FWIW, I don't actually do this -- yet -- but I did use similar software to watch a movie on Hulu a few years ago. And then Hulu figured out how to block the software in question.)

: Other movies like Safety Not Guaranteed, etc. I did review, and I do believe brought extra revenue to their artists for the fact. Many people have said, oh I wanna see that now, after reading a review of mine. So not only have I paid back my lack of money, but added to it as well. And some movies like Take Shelter, I have gone on to buy when they come in an affordable used copy, etc.

Well, Safety Not Guaranteed is on Google Play, and Take Shelter is on Netflix... it's usually not *too* hard to find *recent* movies online, even if it costs a few bucks (per movie, in the case of Google Play, or per month, in the case of Netflix).

: One thing I do think applies to Peter's argument is the fact that I see -many- movies when they finally arrive to my library. I don't pay for these, I "borrow" them if you, but I believe libraries have some kind of deal with studios and such to be able to do this, and somehow the artists get paid.

Don't forget used bookstores (or video stores, or whatever). The artist doesn't get paid when his works are re-sold. I believe Douglas Adams once explicitly grumbled about this (or was it about people lending his books to their friends?).

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Josie   
This is not to justify my actions. Moreso to explain my rationalizations, but also to point out the flaw in some of them, and how they don't actually apply to what I see Peter arguing for.

One thing I do think applies to Peter's argument is the fact that I see -many- movies when they finally arrive to my library. I don't pay for these, I "borrow" them if you, but I believe libraries have some kind of deal with studios and such to be able to do this, and somehow the artists get paid.

There are some bright lines, as Michael Leary so well put it, and I think it's good to define those lines.

I also think it's good to define the bright lines, and moving beyond them I'm torn. I feel for the poster from Nigeria, where a blackmarket economy makes you choose between complicity and deprivation. Also for whoever can't afford films or can't access them by legal means. For me that opens up a realm of irrelevant questions about whether art is a luxury or indispensible and what it means for poverty to restrict access. About art as a commodity which can be owned, bought and sold , inherited, suppressed - and art as public domain and collective experience. A few years ago an art thief's mother cut Old Masters into tiny pieces and shoved them down her garbage disposal. In a criminal context, they were incriminating evidence. In commercial terms, their owners suffered a tremendous loss. But I remember thinking the enduring loss was the world's and the rightful owners all of us. Posterity.

I love the democratic ideal of the public library in which works are borrowed and returned and endlessly circulated.. Also of public museums and artists who embrace ownership of their work by releasing it to the world, via the internet. I don't *think* there's a law to prevent us from giving away or lending the physical copies of films we legally own. We can pass them round to friends or mail them across the country.

But I'm not sure anything I just wrote justifies replicating or distributing copies illegally or that it's *only* about loss of income and whether at any given point you are funneling cash from or towards the artist. The morality/legality of ownership isn't just about money.

And in a way the artist's right to distribute his/her own work might be fundamentally linked to the artist's right to transfer that right.

Anyway, this subject is endlessly disorienting for me, even before the internet's folds and permutations and unstaunchable flow . . .

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Josie wrote:

: I don't *think* there's a law to prevent us from giving away or lending the physical copies of films we legally own.

On that subject:

- - -

Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Tucked into the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda this fall is a little-known case that could upend your ability to resell everything from your grandmother’s antique furniture to your iPhone 4.

At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture, as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.

Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale.

Put simply, though Apple Inc. has the copyright on the iPhone and Mark Owen has it on the book “No Easy Day,” you can still sell your copies to whomever you please whenever you want without retribution.

That’s being challenged now for products that are made abroad, and if the Supreme Court upholds an appellate court ruling, it would mean that the copyright holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it. . . .

MarketWatch.com, October 12

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Here's something from a different perspective. An interview with Jarod Lanier:

“I’d had a career as a professional musician and what I started to see is that once we made information free, it wasn’t that we consigned all the big stars to the bread lines.” (They still had mega-concert tour profits.)

“Instead, it was the middle-class people who were consigned to the bread lines. And that was a very large body of people. And all of a sudden there was this weekly ritual, sometimes even daily: ‘Oh, we need to organize a benefit because so and so who’d been a manager of this big studio that closed its doors has cancer and doesn’t have insurance. We need to raise money so he can have his operation.’

“And I realized this was a hopeless, stupid design of society and that it was our fault. It really hit on a personal level—this isn’t working. And I think you can draw an analogy to what happened with communism, where at some point you just have to say there’s too much wrong with these experiments.”

...

The mistake of our age? That’s a bold statement (as someone put it in Pulp Fiction). “I think it’s the reason why the rise of networking has coincided with the loss of the middle class, instead of an expansion in general wealth, which is what should happen. But if you say we’re creating the information economy, except that we’re making information free, then what we’re saying is we’re destroying the economy.”

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Anders   

But if you say we’re creating the information economy, except that we’re making information free, then what we’re saying is we’re destroying the economy.”

Cory Doctorow proposes something a little different about the "information economy" here in the Guardian back in 2007, but I think the point about the "information economy" is valid.

The thinking is simple: an information economy must be based on buying and selling information. Therefore, we need policies to make it harder to get access to information unless you've paid for it.

...

But this is a tragic case of misunderstanding a metaphor. Just as the

industrial economy wasn't based on making it harder to get access to machines, the information economy won't be based on making it harder to get access to information. Indeed, the opposite seems to be true: the more IT we have, the easier it is to access any given piece of information — for better or for worse.

...

To see the evidence of the real information economy, look to all the

economic activity that the internet enables — not the stuff that it

impedes. Look to all the commerce conducted by salarymen who can book their own flights with Expedia instead of playing blind man's bluff with a travel agent ("Got any flights after 4PM to Frankfurt?"). Look to all the garage crafters selling their goods on Etsy.com; the publishers selling obscure books through Amazon that no physical bookstore was willing to carry.

Look to all the salwar kameez tailors in India selling bespoke clothes to westerners via eBay, without intervention by a series of skimming intermediaries. Look to the internet-era musicians who use the net to pack venues all over the world by giving away their recordings on social services like MySpace.

Hell, look at my last barber, in Los Angeles: the man doesn't use a PC, but I found him by googling for "barbers" with my postcode. The information economy is driving his cost of customer acquisition to zero, and he doesn't even have to actively participate in it.

Better access to more information is the hallmark of the information

economy. The more IT we have, the more skill we have, the faster our networks get and the better our search tools get, the more economic activity the information economy generates.

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Related news....

Copyright Nightmare On Horizon As WTO-Approved Legal Piracy Advances

International law may soon allow the Caribbean island of Antigua to sell copyrighted movies, TV shows, music, games and software online without paying a penny to studios and other content owners. Antigua today accepted a World Trade Organization decision authorizing it to sell up to $21 million annually in U.S. intellectual property without paying royalties. WTO says the appropriation of U.S. copyrights is justified to compensate for U.S. trade sanctions that crippled the tiny island’s online gambling industry. In a statement to the WTO, Antiguan High Commissioner to the UK Carl Roberts quoted Bob Dylan: “[As] an American musician once said, ‘When you have nothing you have nothing to lose’”.

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NBooth   

In a statement to the WTO, Antiguan High Commissioner to the UK Carl Roberts quoted Bob Dylan: “[As] an American musician once said, ‘When you have nothing you have nothing to lose’”.

As someone who's followed Dylan's own record of stealing stuff for his [Dylan's] own uses, I love that Roberts used this quote (regardless of whether or not it provides justification, etc etc etc).

Edited by NBooth

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Mike_tn   

More related news from10 months ago but is the most recent case of the series I found. It looks like any copyright infringing films YouTube is not aware of will remain there for at least the near future. As far as watching YouTube films, it seems ludacris to think there would be action against watching something allowed to be uploaded to YouTube and watchers are in the multi-millions.

 

***

 

YouTube Again Beats Viacom's Massive Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

 

1:28 PM PDT 4/18/2013 by Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter

 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/youtube-again-beats-viacoms-massive-442233

 

After an appellate court revived Viacom's claims that YouTube hosted copyright infringing work, U.S. District judge Louis Stanton has again given the defendant a victory.

 

Viacom has been hit with a devastating legal loss. For the second time in three years, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton has granted Google summary judgment in a huge copyright lawsuit against its YouTube unit. 

 

The decision comes after the Second Circuit Court of Appeal revived the lawsuit last April. In that opinion, the appeals court agreed with YouTube that internet service providers must be aware of infringements before becoming liable for infringements, but also determined that the federal judge hadn't properly considered whether YouTube may have had actual knowledge of specific infringing clips or whether YouTube might have essentially willfully blinded itself from having that knowledge.

 

In past few months, the parties have been fighting over whose responsibility it was to demonstrate YouTube's knowledge.

 

On Thursday, Judge Stanton ruled that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

 

Saying that Viacom was making "ingenious" arguments that amounted to "an anachronistic, pre-Digital Millennium Copyright Act" view of the law, the judge writes, "The burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove."

 

(the article goes on with link to the full ruling)

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