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The piracy police are out to annoy you...
June 17, 2004 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Fed up with anti-piracy warnings in your local cinema? Why not take a picture?
posted by Katemonkey (54 comments total)

 
I'm insanely jealous now, 'cause I wanted to do this.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:42 AM on June 17, 2004


What's the point?
posted by Bonzai at 11:15 AM on June 17, 2004


I think the point is that movie theaters should search all their patrons and confiscate their electronic devices. Yes, it's a bit intrusive - but I'd never have to hear "Oh, I'm just watching a movie. Can I call you back?" again.
posted by Jart at 11:25 AM on June 17, 2004


I's 2004. Where are our robocops in every theater? How about it, progress? Chop-chop!

But really, aside from the neener-neener factor (which totally justifies that page) and the ultimate pointlessness of posting the warning in the first place (see this thread for why), there is no real point to doing this.

However. I'm with Jart. Anyone caught talking on a cel (or having it ring) during a movie should not only be ejected, but the contents of their wallet should be distributed equally among the remaining patrons of the theater.

I think that's fair.
posted by chicobangs at 11:37 AM on June 17, 2004


When ever I see these warning, I always think that if I had a camera phone, I would take stills of the movie, and then gif them together into a very poor, pirated version of the movie. God knows why.
posted by Orange Goblin at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2004


"Those responsible have been sacked."
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:58 AM on June 17, 2004


This just seems... silly... to me. The point is to accumulate photographic evidence of what exactly? That media conglomerates are now hip to the fact that people are stealing laughably low quality copies of the conglom's content and making them available in even-lower-quality downloads for their merry band of l33t h4x0r "friends" around the Internet? "Hullo? This is the year 2003 calling, and we'd like our controversy back..."

This type of warning is identical in purpose if not in fact to the "FBI Warning"s that appear at the front of just about every commerical DVD and VHS release I've ever seen. Should we be taking pictures of those as well?
posted by JollyWanker at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2004


This picture actually says, "Just because the movies you are enjoying are financed and distributed by corporations does not give you the moral right to pirate them."

My answer would be, "Just because you have the money and political influence to buy legislation, doesn't give you the moral right to abuse the system."

Regardless of who creates artistic content, culture is owned by society. People generally want to respect the artists who create art. We don't have much respect for the middleman who tries to create a legislated monopoly, steal the public domain and control what we can see and hear.
posted by PigAlien at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2004


Is this some new phenomenon in Europe?

As americans, we've been threatened with arrest by the FBI for as long as I can remember.
posted by falconred at 12:18 PM on June 17, 2004


Why should the public respect the corporations if the corporations don't respect the public?

Until the DMCA came along, so-called piracy was a civil tort, not a criminal offense.

Copyright used to be much shorter as well. Now, corporations (who never die) have copyrights that are basically infinite. That is to say, none of the culture created while we are alive will ever see the public domain in our lifetimes. It will never truly belong to us in our lives, even though it is thoroughly a part of our lives. We will pay for access to the culture to which we belong until we go to our graves.

Why shouldn't culture return to the public domain within our lifetimes?
posted by PigAlien at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2004


People generally want to respect the artists who create art. We don't have much respect for the middleman who tries to create a legislated monopoly, steal the public domain and control provides the production, distribution, promotion, and ensures the future use of what we can see and hear.

Yes, certainly respect the artist creating the work. But please, also show some respect for the people who make it possible for you, me, and future generations to have access to that work.

Movies and music aren't cultural artifacts, people. They're commodities. The people making them aren't doing it to enrich your life, they're doing it to make a living in theirs. Sure there are the overpaid leeches at the top taking more than their fair share (and I don't mind anyone venting their spleen at them), but there are also many, many others crucial to the production process who are simply doing their job and expect to get paid, just like you.

All this "art should be free" crap is real nice and pretty sounding when you're the consumer of it, because it's to your advantage. But it sucks for those of us on the production end because I can't feed your edification and spiritual enrichment to my kid.

although I do agree on the public domain issue.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2004


Movies and music aren't cultural artifacts, people. They're commodities.

Well, they're really both, aren't they?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:42 PM on June 17, 2004


> But it sucks for those of us on the production end because I
> can't feed your edification and spiritual enrichment to my kid.

That's what I'd be happy to pay tax for (as opposed to subsidizing the killing/torturing of people abroad, for instance.)
posted by NewBornHippy at 12:45 PM on June 17, 2004


Well, they're really both, aren't they?

How about Movies and music aren't just cultural artifacts..., then? I'd accept that on the understanding that it's understood that it ain't an equal balance, and that simply acknowledging the cultural importance of a work in no way negates the rights of its creators/owners from being paid for what they've produced. I'd even go so far as to say that the greater cultural importance of a work, the more the creators should be rewarded in a monetary way.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:05 PM on June 17, 2004


I went to a few movies last year. One of them had horrible anti-piracy dots ALL OVER the place, and quite noticeable. Another had the patronizing message on it not to download movies. I happened to be with mom at the movie at the time (yeah, yeah) and, unusually, she didn't mind me standing up and giving the screen the finger at that point.

Needless to say, I've resolved never to go to that theatre again. I've found one for half the price with none of the bullshit, instead. I suggest you all do the same as well.

Anyways, I run a store too. Most of my customers don't shoplift. If I were like a theatre, I'd give them a lecture on how shoplifting harms my store and thank them for actually paying for their items rather than stealing them before sealing each deal.

If course, then I'd go out of business.

Like, I hope, the theatres that do this do.
posted by shepd at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2004


Now that the thread is totally derailed, the issue is not whether producers should be compensated. I think we all would like for artists to get paid. The issue is that the current model is broken, and any attempts to prop it up are doomed to failure.
The costs of production and distribution are plummeting. The market, not any law passed, will decide which models survive.

Personally, I think that the War on Copyright Violations will be about as successful as the War on Drugs.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:37 PM on June 17, 2004


...the cultural importance of a work in no way negates the rights of its creators/owners from being paid for what they've produced.

It's not about them being paid, though. It's about total and complete ownership and control of, what's essentially our culture.

Copyright etc, was designed as a generous protection, designed to protect, foster and grow our culture. Instead it's become something to protect corporations from our culture.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:41 PM on June 17, 2004


DMCA Foes Find Allies in House
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on June 17, 2004


Piracy good. Piracy Bad. Movies sucks. Movies Rock. Blah blah blah. Whatever.

The question is, what are the leaders of this movement trying to accomplish? What will posting pictures of the FBI warning mean to anyone? Do they think anyone will care?

Maybe I'm just being dense, but this has to be one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard of.
posted by Bonzai at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2004


Where did this idea that Art is inherently in the Public Domain come from? Art has never been free. Did Michelangelo work for free? Of course not. Artists create art to SELL it. It's a commodity like everything else. But, because some in our society feel somehow "entitled" to enjoy art without paying for it, the motion picture industry is forced to remind us not to steal. Sure, it's insulting. We shouldn't have to be reminded. We're not five year-olds. Some of us just act like it.
posted by JeffK at 2:16 PM on June 17, 2004


Ye gods. Who are you people? Politics, morals, and greed (and anti-greed) aside, this whole operation -- as a statement -- is art. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by *burp* at 2:26 PM on June 17, 2004


JeffK, please look up the definition of stealing, it's not what you think it is .
posted by signal at 2:30 PM on June 17, 2004


Via dictionary.com:

steal
To take (the property of another) without right or permission.


It seems to me that making a tape of a film which you have paid to see once, so you can watch it again later for free, is, by definition, STEALING!
posted by JeffK at 2:49 PM on June 17, 2004


You missed the important part, JeffK.

You have to take the property *and* deprive the owner of it. ie: Stealing a copyrighted work would mean to break into the author's house and steal all his copies of said work.

As a sidenote, it must also remain in your posession. It definately isn't stealing if, for example, someone were to transfer a pirated file through your internet connection if it doesn't sit on your hard drive.

If piracy were simple stealing:

- There'd be mentions of the word "steal" or "theft" in either USC 17 or the Berne Convention (hint: The only ones in there refer to physical property, like a CD case containing a CD). Yes, I've search. Feel free to do it again to satisfy yourself. Here's the links.
- The dictionary would reference piracy
- There'd be no need for copyright laws
- The standard maximum for shoplifting under $25 of a week or so in jail and $250 in fines for petty theft would apply to a pirated CD, rather than $250,000 in fines and 5 years in prison maximum.

There's your difference. But go right ahead and continue to call it stealing. You're actually "degrading" the offence. Most people who have violated copyright would much rather be charged with stealing the work. Yup. It makes more sense to go to blockbuster and five-finger discount your videos than to pirate them.

I suppose that's because piracy causes so much more harm to so many more people than shoplifting.

I'll let you decide if that's true or not.
posted by shepd at 3:10 PM on June 17, 2004


In related news ... the MPAA is considering using encryption (but really this time) on its screener DVDs: NSA-level encryption! (well 128bit AES, anyway) - and giving Academy members special DVD players to use them. Linky.

Analog hole?? Shhh!
posted by Blue Stone at 3:48 PM on June 17, 2004


JeffK - "steal:
To take (the property of another) without right or permission.
"

Did I just take your words without your permission? No, I just copied them.

The argument is really about the breach of a monopoly on copying that 'society' has given the creator of a work, not 'theft', 'stealing', 'raping', 'pilaging', 'piracy' or any other rhetoric-over-accuracy term.

Copyright is a kludge, and it's heart was in the right place, but it's still a kludge that goes against the natural order of things, and has been distorted out of all shape and proportion, alas.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:55 PM on June 17, 2004


Art has never been free.

That's quite an amazing statement. Most art has been and will remain free. Mainly due to the fact that most art is not created as a commodity. Only a tiny fraction is converted into such thing by an industry that has of lately been shutting down innovative and successful distribution channels. Masters at spoiling it for everyone but themselves, they had been eating away at the artist end for decades; which explains how they have managed to screw the audience in such a short span of time.

Also on public domain: most art is based upon prior work, for most part of mankind's history freely available (although hard to get). Attempting to refute that is just absurd.

Nevertheless, and to show my appreciation to that great horde - I mean industry - I'd hate to finish without quoting from some of that magnificent art that the MPAA wants us to consume again and again, individually, until the end of time:

"Who's your daddy and what does he do?"
posted by magullo at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2004


Are those actual screens?

Did anyone bother to spellcheck them?
"just beacuse" ??? Dumbasses.
posted by jozxyqk at 4:16 PM on June 17, 2004


very interesting thread. If art wasn't free in the first place, there wouldn't be art, period.

I don't think the Homo sapiens painting in caves were already homo economicus, y'see. Bu they were creating art. Out of nothing, for nothing.
posted by Sijeka at 5:00 PM on June 17, 2004


You know, the thing I love about all of this debate is that the people on the side of copyright somehow think that if we were to abolist copyright that all art would suddenly, magically cease to exist.

I say, bring it on! I'm not scared. Artists create because they have to create. I could care less about the people who distribute the art and 'ensure our enjoyment' of the art.

You know what, before televisions and radio came along, and even the newspapers, people used to sit around and tell stories and sing songs. People knew how to play instruments and they would get together with their friends and family to play music. Some people still do!

Before mass production and copyright, rich benefactors supported artists and that art was often made available to the public in one form or another.

I could care less if all the middlemen shriveled up and died today. Seriously, my life would not change dramatically. In fact, I'm sure it would improve. I think our culture would, in fact, benefit.
posted by PigAlien at 5:06 PM on June 17, 2004


PigAlien, word!
I wanted to applause reading your comments so far. In fact I almost did.
posted by Sijeka at 5:08 PM on June 17, 2004


You have to take the property *and* deprive the owner of it.

Well, no. You're confusing a limitation of physical property with a defining characteristic of the act of theft. The crime is taking something that doesn't belong to you. The fact that physical property cannot be taken without depriving the owner of it is incidental to the nature of the act.
posted by kindall at 5:18 PM on June 17, 2004


What PigAlien said.
If every single record and movie company went bankrupt tomorrow, I'm guessing no Britneys or Xtinas, no Vin Diesels, but art? We'd have plenty of art.
posted by signal at 6:16 PM on June 17, 2004


The costs of production and distribution are plummeting.

The theoretical / pirate costs of distribution plummeted. The practical / we'd like to eat, costs, have not. Well, not by much. DVD's being smaller and lighter than VHS tapes.

The actual fixed cost of production however, has not. CGI has not made films significantly cheaper, it's just meant that directors can spend more time dicking around with the effects, for the same money.

Artists create because they have to create.

...and artists stop creating because they spend all day at work making enough money to feed themselves. Now imagine if they could somehow combine the work, and the art. Eat, and create!

Before mass production and copyright, rich benefactors supported artists and that art was often made available to the public in one form or another.

Art for the elite, paid for by the elite. Leaving the rest of us to grovel for handouts.

Speaking here as one of the magical pixies that works on digitally encoded entertainment media with multi-million dollar up-front costs. I have no love for Jack Valenti, but I like to get paid for my 60 hour weeks (and I already make less than half of what I could if I was only in it for the money).
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:02 PM on June 17, 2004


Well, no. You're confusing a limitation of physical property with a defining characteristic of the act of theft. The crime is taking something that doesn't belong to you. The fact that physical property cannot be taken without depriving the owner of it is incidental to the nature of the act.

Physical property certainly can be taken without depriving the owner of it. For example, if you break into a cable box and hook up illegally, you are now takeing over that cable box, and pretending it is your posession, although in reality the cable company is not deprived of it.

Other examples:

- Cracking servers
- Squatting (not exactly, but close enough)
- Using someone's unused (but owned) locker/desk/space
- Phreaking phone lines
- Asking me to install a satellite dish for you and not paying for it (last guy is dealing with creditors now... Heheh)
- Illegal dumping
- Ducking under a pay toilet stall door

All of those are examples of illegally taking something (usually physical, although sometimes its more time than anything else) without "stealing" it. Although, in some odd countries, a couple of these crimes are called stealing in a more tongue-in-cheek manner (ex: Stealing cable TV).
posted by shepd at 7:04 PM on June 17, 2004


shepd -

While I tend to agree with you that the nature of intellectual property upsets the "stealing" applecart a bit, at the end of the day, exactly what semantic argument are you pursuing here? To my knowledge, most of those offenses you're referring to are in fact prohibited one way or another (cracking servers, phreaking phone lines, etc.). What word are you looking for us to use in place of "steal" here?

Regardless of your choice, it seems to me that these are simply bad, immoral or at least frowned-upon behaviors and actions.

So elaborate a bit. Do you think, for example, that after purchasing a CD or DVD that you should be entitled to universally distribute it? On what grounds? I understand, for example, that digital copying presents problems copyright law was not equipped to handle: is a DVD more like an apple that you've physically removed from my shop, or more like a song that I've written and that you're singing? (Why shouldn't you be entitled to create a mix tape, and all of that...)

And sure, academically, the issue is interesting. But in terms of sheer -- or approximated, at least -- objective reality, it seems pretty clear to me that the law hasn't caught up yet, but that taking something that is meant to be sold for x and distributing it for nothing is kind of a bad and unfair thing.

ObvOnTopic: Like everyone else, I have yet to understand what the point of the main link is here. I just don't get why it's interesting, useful or beneficial in any way at all, really. How is it different than if someone were posting pictures of, say drywall? What's the point?
posted by Sinner at 8:02 PM on June 17, 2004


Inphilltr8tr, you say CGI has not made films cheaper, but it hasn't made them better either. I think without expensive CGI, artists could still make brilliant films. They did for ages before CGI ever came along.

Additionally, there still exists art for the elite today and there always will. Back in the day, the church would commission art and the masses would get to enjoy that art in their churches and cathedrals. Even dukes and earls and the aristocracy commissioned art that was available for viewing in public spaces and rooms. They still had paintings tucked away in private chambers, but then we still have that today.

As for artists being able to work and make a living and do art, that has nothing to do with the mega-corporate middle-men. A talented artist will still be able to create new art and sell it. Just because people can have unlimited ability to copy art doesn't mean that others won't pay for original art.

Artists do what they do because they love it. Real artists won't be concerned with whether or not they have to work or not. They'll find time. So it has been throughout the ages. I shed no tears. Despite our multi-billion art distribution system, the VAST MAJORITY of artists today are 'starving artists'. Only 1% of 1% of all 'artists' become nationally or internationally known.

I have friends right now who are talented, but unknown, artists. After years of toiling away in every moment of their spare time, some of them have now acquired reputations and sell some of their art. Some are getting to the point they can make a living. Why do they struggle for years without success and never give up? Because they are doing what they love. They are doing what they have to do and it has nothing to do with monetary reward or corporations with mighty distribution empires.

If you feel sorry for the poor artists who are too busy working to spend time creating art, then perhaps you should support public funding for the arts (and perhaps you do). Then the art they create with public money can belong in the public domain.

And thank you Sijeka! I really appreciate your support.
posted by PigAlien at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2004


This is the kind of stuff that gives blogs and the web literati a bad name.

Of course the big studios have a right to try to prevent people stealing their profits.

Look at this teacup! I have a storm in it. Want to sneak a photo of it?
posted by Pericles at 4:00 AM on June 18, 2004


perhaps you should support public funding for the arts

You're missing the problem with that, of course. If all art was strictly publicly funded, then who decides what artists get paid? Does every artist get funded equally? If so, what if anything do you need to do to qualify as an artist, because I'm sure there are a fair number of people willing to pass themselves off as artists for a free lunch.

Or would publicly funded artists be compensated by the merit of their work? If that's your plan, who decides what merits reward? If it's a select group of art critic types, then I'll guarantee the general public will be up in arms about elitism and politicians will be only too happy to cut funding again and again.

Or perhaps public opinion should determine compensation. Well, what's the real difference between that and the system we have now? Nothing, really.

Look, there's a solid, highly artistic movie industry that rewards the creators with the lion's share of film profits - independent features. They don't do very well financially, but the artists involved aren't so interested in profits so it's fine. They make enough, generally, to keep going, and that's great. It would be nice if they got more exposure.

Then there's the big studio industry. Not so much interested in art (though it does often happen because there are a great number of creative people involved), they're entertainment. And that's what really upsets you. You wish movies, books, and music were free for everyone, which is a lovely sentiment that just happens to be totally in your favour.

It's only because these products can be reduced to digital information that there's a problem. If a house could be copied digitally, you'd demand a free building. If food could be copied digitally, you'd want a free lunch. If clothes could be copied digitally, you'd be yelling for free pants. Sure, I'd love that too, not having to pay for anything.

But my landlord does want me to pay for his building, so he can pay all the contractors who built it for him, so they can pay all the foresters and miners who sold him the raw materials to make it. My supermarket does want me to pay for what's in my grocery cart, so they can pay the farmers who produced all that food and the truck drivers who delivered it to the store. And the retail store... you get the picture. Look at the credits list at the end of the movie. Skip past the actors, director, producer, heck even the lowly writer. Count the names. If you had any clue just how many people it takes, how many families are depending on meagre paychecks, I can't imagine you'd still think as you do.

Yes, by all means punish the greedy fatcats at the top. But please, figure out a way of doing that without depriving me of a job.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:51 AM on June 18, 2004


Of course the big studios have a right to try to prevent people stealing their profits.

And of course the audience has a right to a little harmless nosetweaking, if they feel the studios' attempts to protect their profits has devolved into accusing their customers of theft before every sale.

That's all this photo idea is; a public way to tweak the studios' overreaching, and to remind the 98% of the audience that doesn't read blogs or know that we went through this same debate when VCRs were invented, and before that when sheet music started being mass-produced, that there's another side to this. It's a merry prankster kind of protest: warning comes up, flashbulbs go off, everyone gets a mild chuckle, puts their cameras away and watches the movie.

If they want to put a legal warning up, sure, go ahead. If they want to pay an usher to keep an eye out for people videotaping the movie, that's fine by me, though if it's too intrusive I'll go to a different theater. But asking the audience itself to be vigilant is just dumb, and deserving of mockery.

(I feel exactly the same way about those DVDs which put three or four different FBI warnings and disclaimers at the beginning of the disc, and disable the fast-forward button during them: those warnings and disclaimers would carry just as much legal weight if they were at the end of the disc, without the in-your-face J'accuse! to the consumer.)
posted by ook at 6:48 AM on June 18, 2004


ghostinthemachine,

you are COMPLETELY WRONG when you say that I want art to be free for everyone.

In fact, I make very little money, and yet I spent $600 on 3 paintings last year, 2 of which were gifts.

I am friends with an unspecified number of artists and I am thrilled when any one of them makes money from their art and pray for them whenever i get the chance that they can survive off of their art.

that has nothing to do with big studios and mega-corporate middle-men, about whose livelihoods I don't care.
posted by PigAlien at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2004


and sorry, ghostinthemachine, but I don't care how you make your living. that's your problem. why don't you try creating some art instead of leeching off of other artists?
posted by PigAlien at 7:33 AM on June 18, 2004


ok, that last post was unnecessarily personal, and I apologize. I was upset that you put words in my mouth, namely that I want everything for free.

that is completely untrue, I want nothing for free. what I do want is the public's right to access what belongs to it - namely our culture. artists have every right to create art and sell that art. once that art has been released to the public, however, it becomes part of our consciousness and our culture and we have rights over it as well.

when we live in an age where information and ideas can be exchanged freely with limited physical cost, then there is little reason or justification that middle-men with the money to buy congressmen should be able to impose artificial constraints on the free flow of that information simply so they can fatten their pockets at the public's expense.

as for your job, I stand by what I said, I don't really care how you make your living, that's your business. I've never whined to anyone about protecting my job, which I've changed many times over the years. I really don't mean that to be nasty, its just true. if your job becomes obsolete, why should I be responsible for helping you keep it?

as for public financing of arts, I never said that all art should be only publicly financed. you took what I said and stretched it all out of proportion. what I said was that if you are so concerned about artists not making a living in a world without copyrights, then why not support public funding for the arts? how would they manage it? I don't know, how do they manage it now?
posted by PigAlien at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2004


If they invent something that allows people to walk through walls, would anyone say that people should have the right to go into anyone's house that they want, and the door manufacturers were using an outdated paradigm?

The creators of these media products are saying "This is mine. You can look at it, under these specific rules." I think that's their right to do so... others may disagree.
posted by Jart at 8:34 AM on June 18, 2004


PigAlien,

Filling in for my professional brethren here, your apology to ghostinthemachine (gitm) strikes me as about 10% less rude and poorly concieved than your original slur. Congratulations.

Your argument is frightfully naive. With a pronounced lack of knowledge of the industry you're discussing, you're suggesting that that industry should work the way you say it works, essentially because you think it should - but despite actually knowing anything.

You also seem to think that "our culture" subsumes every bit of art created in it. OK, well, lots of people think that old cars are art and hence "part of the culture" - does that mean I can simply take the classic Mustang whose owner lives next door since "it's part of MY culture, too, man?" You can, of course, go to a car museum and pay an entry fee, if you're into that sort of thing. Being part of our culture does not dictate free access to anything.

Again, art, unlike most commodities, can easily be copied, and suddenly, within the past thirty years or so, with no degradation in quality. That's a problem that needs resolution, yes, but the answer is not this strange socialist drivel you're spouting. What I create is mine. I'm able to sell it because it's good. Agents help me sell it for what it deserves. If it can be gotten for zero cost, I'm pretty screwed and consequently less able to produce it. That gitm, who I gather is in the creative business one way or another, explained this to you and and your response was basically "piss off, I'm only interested in art from people who create art the way I want them to " is at once sad and illuminating.

You're swinging around the word "corporate" as if it's some sort of slur while clinging to this ridiculous notion that art is created by one guy. Well, sure, a painting is, if you don't count the guy who provides (let alone manufactures) the materials. And whomever it is that serves as the intermediary between said artist and your vaunted "culture" (as stated above, artists aren't marketers and salespeople nor vice versa - the more time they spend doing the latter jobs, the less they can be creative in this mythical manner you're describing).

Of course, it doesn't take long to come up with a better-fitting example. Let's say orchestral music. Are the notes written by the composer the "art?" Does that mean that the violinist is a leech?

I don't actually know what gitm does for a living, but if he's like any of my colleagues, his work isn't on the verge of obselescence, though it may be on the verge of extinction. If he's a special effects designer, let's say, he's leeching off of nothing - he's creating a component of a piece of art. Same as a stunt-man. And I'll not run you down the slippery slope beyond saying that the guy that cast the star contributed, as did the producers, as did the financiers. So how, exactly are they "leeching?"

Like it or not, big corporations exist because they are needed to manufacture and distribute products to a big world. Art is a product. And yes, in our brave new world (tm), that distribution is easier, and I firmly believe that the lowered expenses should be passed on to the consumers (to some extent they have been already ... supply and demand). But to suggest that a studio has no claim to a movie it produces is just plain dumb.

Also, since when are supporting public funding for the arts and supporting copyright law mutually exclusive? I'm pretty much for both, actually. "How do they manage it now?" Poorly. Isn't that why you suggested supporting it? For reform? Not many artists would say that supporting it in its current state is all that beneficial.

Fortunately, talented artists are able to find appreciators of their art, or at least be found by them, who are able to supplement the scraps of public funding available. If "all art" is suddenly funded by society, the point made above is accurate, how is the wheat separated from the chaff? Frankly your argument here is so flawed and clueless I just don't have the energy to dispute it. Because I have work to do (errr, "art to create,").

Once more, as someone who makes his living off of "creating art," let me be perfectly clear. Making a living off of such depends on supply and demand, at least in terms of the availability of its creator(s)'s time. If I create something which can be copied ad infinitum, with no difference in quality or compensation and distributed free , then I will starve to death (or at least start waiting tables).

Your response, I suspect, would be that I don't love it enough and true artists "just need to create art, they can't help it." And if that were your response, well, fuck you very much.
posted by Sinner at 9:18 AM on June 18, 2004


Okay, sorry for the late reply, sinner. (Hey, good username for the debate! :-)

Do you think, for example, that after purchasing a CD or DVD that you should be entitled to universally distribute it?

No. Well, not unless it's public domain or publically funded. But in general, let's say it's a movie like "Garfield: The Movie". No. It would be wrong to distribute that. Although, most of us do sin at one time or another.

On what grounds?

Someone who creates something for my entertainment deserves to be reasonably compensated if they wish. There's the catch: If it's not reasonable, everyone's comfort level with pirating the data rather than paying for it goes up accordingly with how unreasonably the author of the media charges people. Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left and all that.

I simply want people to use the proper words to describe something. Why?

For the same reason I don't think it's right for someone to catcall people who wear fur "Murderers". It debases their side of the argument, causes distrust, and generally makes the one doing the insulting look like a fool. There's much more effective ways of convincing people of your argument than that.

And, once you no longer feel another person is as "worthy" as yourself, you don't feel so bad doing anti-social things that may injure them in some way. And so the cycle continues. If the RIAA/MPAA/whoever were to stop using such tired and false language, they might gain some respect. And with respect comes increased sales and decreased crime.

It's more than price, you see, that keeps people from breaking the law. Look at gas prices. People are absolutely livid about them right now, but you don't see people breaking into gas stations and taking gas, do you?

That's because they respect the owner of the gas station. That, and, oddly enough, people put more emphasis on a physical item being stolen than media being pirated (probably because, subconsciously, they know they're wholly different acts).

I don't want to be on a high-horse here, but I do believe that using the correct word for piracy is helping BOTH sides of the debate. It's double positive.

HTH! :-)
posted by shepd at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2004


PigAlien, it might help you to know that I work as a writer, director, editor, and handle a little bit in the SFX line. In other words, I am the artist/creator. That's the job I'm trying to protect, the job of the artist.

It is now possible that a writer, working alone, could spend a year writing a novel, have it published electronically, sell just ONE copy for under $10 and be read by millions. It's nice that your painter friends can get a few hundred for a painting that took a month (is that a fair guess?) to create, and be viewed by several thousand at most. I don't think you'd argue that the writer is any less an artist than the painter. But due to the nature of the medium (one can be perfectly reproduced in digital format, the other only as a pale imitation), you would deprive one of the ability to be compensated.

I'm all for public domain, but I'd prefer it be life+50 (I want my kids taken care of in case I kick it early). I think the latest extensions foisted by the corporations is just basic greed, since few if any of the actual artists involved will be compensated. The problem with the digital age is the reduction of "life+50" to "instant".

(oh, and shepd, re: gas prices. For one, there has been a marked upswing in "gas&dash" thefts, where motorists fill up and drive off without paying, so apparently there are some who don't give a damn about the station owners and attendants, even at places where said losses are the responsibility of the attendant on duty. And second, the reason you're not seeing more of it might have more to do with the various "pay before pumping" policies in place.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:14 AM on June 18, 2004


you're suggesting that that industry should work the way you say it works, essentially because you think it should.

No, I don't care how the industry works. What I care about is how industry abuses its financial strength to strongarm the law and pass legislation to protect its business model at the expense of society.

You also seem to think that "our culture" subsumes every bit of art created in it.

Every single person has his or her own culture. In aggregate, each person's experiences, personality and tastes contribute to our common culture. There is Florida culture, American culture and world culture. They all coexist and are part of each other. In this sense, 'our culture' does subsume every bit of art created in it.

OK, well, lots of people think that old cars are art and hence "part of the culture" - does that mean I can simply take the classic Mustang whose owner lives next door since "it's part of MY culture, too, man?"

As for taking someone else's mustang, that is theft, because you are depriving that person of his or her personal property. Ideas and information are not personal property, as much as you'd like to think they are.

You can, of course, go to a car museum and pay an entry fee, if you're into that sort of thing. Being part of our culture does not dictate free access to anything.

Again with the FREE hangup. I never said at any point that I wanted anything for FREE. I am talking about the very nature of information and the definition of property, ideas and their dissemination and their effect on the wellness of society vs. individuals.

Again, art, unlike most commodities, can easily be copied, and suddenly, within the past thirty years or so, with no degradation in quality. That's a problem that needs resolution, yes,

No, that is not a problem that needs resolution. That is a good thing. If culture and art are good for the individual, then the more individuals that can enjoy that benefit, the better off everyone is.

but the answer is not this strange socialist drivel you're spouting.

I'm not spouting anything socialist. I'm simply saying that you can't contain information except through artificial constraints. Information will spread by its nature and art is just a form of information. Try and control it at your own peril. Why do you think dictatorships are afraid of freedom of the press?

What I create is mine.

It's your until it leaves your head. Once you've shared it with someone else, it's no longer yours, as much as you'd like to think you have some sort of metaphysical control over other people's neurons.

Agents help me sell it for what it deserves. If it can be gotten for zero cost, I'm pretty screwed and consequently less able to produce it.

Someone else will find a way to produce it. Sorry, but I have no personal pity for you. If you can't find a way to produce under the current system, I don't support your legislating the system to keep yourself protected.

That gitm, who I gather is in the creative business one way or another, explained this to you and and your response was basically "piss off, I'm only interested in art from people who create art the way I want them to " is at once sad and illuminating.

You are correct. I am only interested in art from people who create it the way I want them to. Isn't that true of everyone? Do YOU go out and buy art produced in ways you don't like by people who's art you don't like? I don't see that as sad, I see that as human nature.

You're swinging around the word "corporate" as if it's some sort of slur while clinging to this ridiculous notion that art is created by one guy.

I have no notion that art is created by one guy. Art can be created by a million people and they can do it for free because they love it or they can do it for lots of money if someone is willing to pay them for it.

I am not using corporate as a slur, I am using it as a fact. It is, in fact, the corporations and their special interest groups, like the RIAA that are trying to change legislation to support their outdated, flawed, predatory and exploitative business model.

Well, sure, a painting is, if you don't count the guy who provides (let alone manufactures) the materials. And whomever it is that serves as the intermediary between said artist and your vaunted "culture" (as stated above, artists aren't marketers and salespeople nor vice versa - the more time they spend doing the latter jobs, the less they can be creative in this mythical manner you're describing).

I've never described anything as mythical. I've described it as fact. Artists create, right now, every day, all over the world, and they will continue to create until we no longer exist as a species. That is a historical fact and a pretty reliable prediction.

And who says there's no room for marketers and salespeople? I never did. I simply said they shouldn't be able to buy legislation to protect their positions. There will always be a need for marketers and salespeople for the very reason you stated - artists create art, they don't (always) sell.

Just because people can copy digitalised art freely doesn't mean that suddenly no one will ever buy art again. Of course, in fact, what the record companies and others are trying to conceal is that profits are just as high as ever, despite peer-to-peer filesharing.

Of course, it doesn't take long to come up with a better-fitting example. Let's say orchestral music. Are the notes written by the composer the "art?" Does that mean that the violinist is a leech?

my description of gitm was inappropriate and I already apologized for that. a violinist is an artist and will produce his or her art as long as he or she feels the need, whether that be because he or she is paid or because he or she wishes to do so out of personal reasons.

I don't actually know what gitm does for a living, but if he's like any of my colleagues, his work isn't on the verge of obselescence, though it may be on the verge of extinction.

so be it. others will fill your place.

If he's a special effects designer, let's say, he's leeching off of nothing - he's creating a component of a piece of art. Same as a stunt-man. And I'll not run you down the slippery slope beyond saying that the guy that cast the star contributed, as did the producers, as did the financiers. So how, exactly are they "leeching?"

same as above.

Like it or not, big corporations exist because they are needed to manufacture and distribute products to a big world.

apparently, they're not needed as much anymore and on the way to not being needed at all. I think that's the whole issue here. the corporations don't want to let go of their old business model, so they want to legislate their existence into perpetuity, despite the declining lack of need for their existence.

Art is a product. And yes, in our brave new world (tm), that distribution is easier, and I firmly believe that the lowered expenses should be passed on to the consumers (to some extent they have been already ... supply and demand). But to suggest that a studio has no claim to a movie it produces is just plain dumb.

No one ever said a studio had no claim to what it produces. The question is, HOW does the studio get compensated? Should they, necessarily? One might say that if studios didn't get compensated that they wouldn't produce movies. I would say, "so what?" I don't really care. I love movies, I watch them all the time. If there were never any more movies, I'd get together with friends and read books together, create my own plays, I'd find some sort of substitute. Whatever I did, it would be based on real-world market supply-and-demand needs, not on some stupid legislation purporting to tell me where and when I had to license my culture.

Also, since when are supporting public funding for the arts and supporting copyright law mutually exclusive?

They're not. The issue isn't abolishing copyright altogether, although I use that for the sake of argument. What's the most extreme position, is my standpoint, and is it defensible? I think it is.

Once more, as someone who makes his living off of "creating art," let me be perfectly clear. Making a living off of such depends on supply and demand, at least in terms of the availability of its creator(s)'s time. If I create something which can be copied ad infinitum, with no difference in quality or compensation and distributed free , then I will starve to death (or at least start waiting tables).

You will starve to death if you're not creative enough to understand that people will pay you for your art, because then you certainly won't create it. If people can copy your art ad-infinitum, with no difference in quality, people will still buy your art. But, amazingly enough, considering you claim to be an artist, you don't seem to get this most basic point.

I declared earlier myself that, despite my meager income, I spent $600 on 3 original paintings last year. Do I care if people make copies of my paintings and hang them up on their walls? No, I don't. I bought the paintings because I liked them and wanted to support the artist.

The artist made multiple copies of the painting I bought. Do I care? No.

Your response, I suspect, would be that I don't love it enough and true artists "just need to create art, they can't help it." And if that were your response, well, fuck you very much.

You know, I like art. Some artists I like and some I don't. If you want to create art or consider yourself an artist, I think that's great. However you create your art, whether you get paid for it or not, that's not really my business or concern.

What is my concern is whether you try and take information that's freely available and try and put artificial constraints on it to benefit yourself at the cost of others.

If you think that because some information originated in your head that once you've released it into the wilds of the human consciousness that you then somehow 'own' it or have some sort of 'right' to control it is, well, misguided to say the least.

It's certainly counter-factual. If artists (and corporations) 'owned' and 'controlled' the art they produce, then we wouldn't be having this debate, would we? Information belongs to everyone who possesses it, and there's not a piece of legislation anywhere that can change that.
posted by PigAlien at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2004


ghostinthemachine,

I appreciate your response to my post because I was out of line in making assumptions about what you do and saying you were a leech. I happily apologize again and am humbled by your respectful and cordial response.
posted by PigAlien at 11:30 AM on June 18, 2004


If there were never any more movies, I'd get together with friends and read books together, create my own plays, I'd find some sort of substitute. Whatever I did, it would be based on real-world market supply-and-demand needs, not on some stupid legislation purporting to tell me where and when I had to license my culture.

That's nice for you and your friends. But I'm willing to bet of the millions who line up at the box office every day to watch a movie on the big screen, the vast majority would much rather not get together with their friends and create their own plays. They would rather see "Garfield: The Atrocity". That's the real world you're not living in, that's the real supply-and-demand. Audiences want big movies*, and it's just not possible to make a big movie without a big budget, a budget beyond anything a couple friends can bum off their relatives, supported by an industry that invests in special effects and other technological improvements. They also want to see something better than that which they can dream up. There's a big difference between me playing cowboys and indians with my friends and watching "High Noon". As much as I enjoy reading Lord of the Rings, getting to see it on the screen was wonderful, and I don't think an afternoon playing D&D would really be the same thing.

If you can think up a way for all the creative and technical people involved in major motion pictures to be compensated in the digital age, and allow unfettered control of distribution, by all means propose it. It's one thing to say the current economic model is broken or outdated, but quite another to come up with a better alternative. The wheel might be crooked, but as far as I can see it's the only game in town.

*not exclusively, mind you, but in the same way they want to eat fast food sometimes.

And don't worry, I don't take anything said against me on MetaFilter personally.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2004


If you can think up a way for all the creative and technical people involved in major motion pictures to be compensated in the digital age, and allow unfettered control of distribution, by all means propose it.

I don't need to propose it, it exists already. Despite p2p filesharing, people are STILL paying to go to movie theaters and watch movies and movie companies are still making profits.

It is only the corporations who are scared of what might happen that are using their financial power to lobby our government to create new legislation to protect their profits.

I think the creative industry survived the radio, television, vcr's and YES, it will survive the digital age, despite corporations blabbering on to the contrary and whining about people 'stealing' their property.

I have not made any proposal to change things the way they are. I have spoken up against corporations trying to legislate their business model and I have a flagrant disregard for any of their dire warnings about piracy and crime.

If and when the time comes that something shall replace the current paradigm, I am confident that SOMETHING will replace the current paradigm. Art will not just suddenly shrivel up and die. Artists will always make art and somehow, some of them will get paid for it. Whether any middle-men or corporations survive or not, I don't really care.
posted by PigAlien at 12:43 PM on June 18, 2004


PigAlien,

I thought I'd try and respond to your screed above, but then I realized something. You're nuts.
posted by Sinner at 2:58 PM on June 18, 2004


Thank you! No matter how hard I try to prove it, most people don't see it. You've made my day, Sinner! Still, flattery will get you nowhere.
posted by PigAlien at 4:40 PM on June 18, 2004


Arrrrrrrrrrrr, matey! They best be haulin' ass if they be a showing anti-me messages on their silver screenies. I'll shiver their timbers, I'll throw me parrot at their grunties. ARRRRRR!
posted by bargle at 7:29 PM on June 18, 2004


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