Schools are Evil

So apparently schools are trying to own the content created by students and teachers.

It took a few Google searches but I found an article about this (from Fox News, so you know. Meh).

“Briant Coleman, a spokesman for the school board, says it’s not the board’s “intent” to take ownership of work done by students.
“Please know that we would never try to impede on the creativity of our students, teachers and employees,” Coleman said. “In fact, we encourage it. The policy is currently on hold and under legal review until further notice.”

Oh, really? This twisted form of copyright control is going to do exactly that. Why do you need to copyright the work of students? And do they have any real right to? Just because the institution told them to write something, doesn’t make that something theirs.

There is a decent point brought up that they want to stop teachers from selling their lesson plans and whatnot to make money. The issue here is selling information that was given to them by the school. Perhaps in this case, the argument can be made that this is property of the school. However, as brought up in the article, why should this also cover student works? God forbid a student comes up with a really good idea, essay, article, or whatever, and the school can’t profit off of it.

Here’s the weird part.

“The students are mostly under the age of 18 and federal law protects their rights,” he said. Townsend added that unless a parent or guardian signs off on it, what a student creates belongs to the student and not the school.”


What the hell, people? This doesn’t make any sense.

If this ends up happening I will have lost all faith in this world.

Not only are we a permission culture, we are a culture of control. Whoever controls the ideas controls the money, the acknowledgements, the glory. It seems that schools are no different from greedy cesspool of record and movie companies.


Copyright is Control

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I suppose this is a conspiracy theory.

I think I’ve mentioned this before but pardon me for being repetitive. Why do the music companies want to sue us for downloading music? Because they want their cut of the profits. Why do they get mad and go on the warpath when we take an artist’s music and remix it? Because they don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make money.

Why do they attempt to scare us into submission with crazy lawsuits and elaborate threats? Because they don’t want us to take their money away.

Do you hear of artists themselves who get mad and sue people? Not usually. If an artist is annoyed, it’s most likely because people are using their stuff without at least crediting them (which is understandable). It’s the record companies who are angry about lost profits.

So when America tries to control the internet with SOFA and Canada decides to get Montreal to spy on people it’s all about control. They want us to play by their rules, do what they want, because God forbid we take anything for free.

Perhaps the main reason this is so disgusting is because of the way the Canadian bill was implemented. Like, ok, here are some new laws and stuff and nowlet’scontrolallthecopyrightbyspyingonpeople OK WHO WANTS COOKIES.

I’m hoping, and I mean, really really hoping, that when the lawsuits start coming and people start realizing what happened, maybe we’ll get off our collective asses and do something about it.

Perhaps I’m making a big deal over something relatively small. But this, in my mind, is indicative of who we are, as a population. Do we take things lying down, or will we rise for what we believe in?

Because if there’s one thing that SOPA taught us, it’s that people may be a passive mass, but when you mess with our internet, things get serious.


This Post is Late and I am Sorry

I may have stolen this from someone else’s blog but you know, whatever. Sorry.

So apparently now copyright law is bad.

Well, duh. Of course it’s bad. But now apparently it conflicts with human rights? Ok sure.

If I understood the article right (and there’s no guarantee that I did) it basically says that Europe has decided that hey, getting mad at people for taking your stuff is bad! You can only sue them if their actions endanger democracy or society or something.

This is a professional post, wow.

So hey, if Europe wants to counter this copyright mess we’re in by making it infinitely more complicated to sue people then go for it. But does that mean that when people are actually able to be sued, it’ll be a lot more difficult to get out of it? Since if they can only bring you to court if you’re “endangering democracy” or whatever, and then they do end up figuring out a way to sue you because you apparently did endanger everyone, well, that would be an awkward lawsuit.

This is something we’ll need to keep an eye on over the next little while. Will this be good for those of us who still download, or will it just make it worse when companies figure out a way around it (which they always do)?

Copyright is Also Weird

Something we mentioned (briefly, I think) in class last week: should the heirs continue to profit from their ancestors’ work?

Some might make the argument that, yes, why not? If the work is still making money, and protected by copyright, it needs to go to someone, right? Why not the heirs? If they hold the copyright, then they have the legal right to the profits.

However, there is an argument to be made against this. After all, they didn’t create this. They might be related to the people who made it, but they themselves have no right to it. And if you didn’t create it, well, then why should you get paid for it?

Funny thing: that’s how it works. Whoever holds the copyright gets the money. It’s similar to patents: let’s look at Thomas Edison. The bastard didn’t invent half the stuff he’s credited for (like the lightbulb) but he held the patent for it; therefore, he got the money–and most of the credit.

Copyright laws are basically attempting to do this to intangible things. But how do you control an idea? Or a story? Or a song? It’s difficult to, especially with the internet allowing inexpensive and simple global distribution. What do we do to protect our intellectual ideas? I can’t lock my idea in a box to keep people from stealing it (well, you sort of can, but it’s not the same). And so we try to place invisible bonds on invisible things. Which is why we’re in this copyright-internet-downloading mess we’re in now. And how do you judge how many people have “stolen” your idea? Can you really prove that you are the parent of the idea? That it originated from your brain rather than someone else’s?

The problem could boil down to a much larger problem: that society put more value on the money the idea can give you, rather than the good it could do for society. Or perhaps that, if people want to make a living off of their excellent idea, they need to guard it against “pirates” who would take it and distribute it for free. On one hand, we have the desire to make money and survive in society; on the other, the value of creating for the good of all. It’s almost philosophical.

Basically, our society is effed in the a. And that affects our ideas and our life and it all sucks. Woo.

Montreal is Looking at You

Let us take a moment to think about torrents.

Are they stealing? It used to be that, in Canada, downloading movies for your own personal use was legal. Now, with all this new stuff happening, I don’t know if that’s true anymore, but I’m assuming it isn’t. That sucks. Well, does that mean that it’s stealing now? And if so, does that mean it wasn’t stealing when it was legal?

I am trying to word this so it’s not confusing but I don’t think I’m doing a good job.

If, before this law was passed, torrents were ok, does that mean that now, downloading suddenly means stealing?

Hey, you were ok with it earlier. Why not now?

Torrenting is now considered bad, so some company in Montreal is watching everything you do to “protect the interests of the artist” or whatever bullshit they’re feeding us these days. All because they think we’re stealing. Well, maybe we are. Maybe supporting the artist/creator is always the right thing to do no matter how terrible the content they give us is. But to then spy on us? That’s not cool.

Basically, they’re countering our “stealing” with their spying. Sure, that makes sense.

In my humble opinion, torrenting is kind of a form of stealing. If people wanted their content to be available for free they would have put it on the internet themselves. But I can’t help but like the idea of getting content I like for free. Also, buying some of the stuff I want is difficult. Unless you buy it on the internet. Everything is available on the internet.

Sorry for this short, really repetitive post. But I’ve been thinking about these jerks who think that the best way to stop us from doing things is to scare us into stopping.

And while it might work (at least for the time being) that doesn’t make it right.

Mash ups and Stuff

Going back, once again, to that video we watched last week, a big part of it was talking about the artist Girl Talk, and his mash up-y style of music. Some believe that it’s a crazy form of copyright infringement and stealing and all that bad stuff, but copyright laws are crazy. Mostly.

To me, a mash up is when you take two or more songs and blend them together into something new. The term could also apply to doing similar things to movies and other videos, I suppose, to make your own stuff. The point of view of music and movie companies is that it’s taking their content (though they might use the word “stealing”) in order to make new content. To these companies, people are profiting off of their work, which is so not fair.

On the other hand, the artists are making something that could be considered completely new and original, using works that already exist. They take music that’s out there already, that people have heard a dozen times and are probably sick of it, and they create something new and exciting. Sometimes they even profit off of it, sure. But it was created by them, as something different.

To me, the argument could made both ways: yes, the content created by these artists is new, but in order to create it, they had to take music from artists. Theoretically, if those songs didn’t exist, artists like Girl Talk wouldn’t be able to make music, for it is all based off of the work of others.

However, does this mean that they’re stealing?

Some might think so, and in order to get around it, you would have to either get permission from the original artists, or pay them some sort of fee to use their stuff. Just getting permission seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But actually getting in touch with the artists or even someone who represents them is most likely more difficult and time consuming than it’s worth. Really, you should be able to email Rise Against and get an immediate response. That would be super cool.

There is also the issue that apparently, if you wanted to make mash ups of stuff in the public domain, the newest content you would find would be from the 20’s or something. I suppose you could mash up that stuff, but really, there is only so much BachxMozart stuff you can make before it gets tiresome.

Basically, this kind of stuff boils down to a (somewhat) simple issue: companies trying to control…everything. They don’t want us using their stuff, ever, for any reason. EVER. Even Youtube videos get targeted for “copyright infringement” even if there is no profit being made. I might understand people getting mad at you for using their content to make money yourself, but a Youtube video?

Come on, guys. Stop trying to control everything. It makes you look dumb.


I still have people following me from other classes. To you, I am sorry. Sort of.

So, copyright. It’s kind of an awkward thing these days. We have one side of the issue that, yes, people who create content need money to feed their children and whatnot, and then we have the consumer who doesn’t really feel like spending money. Now, since getting stuff for free is so easy, it presents a problem to those who want our money.

So in an attempt to solve this problem, companies have bitched to the government to stop people from downloading. The result: an adorable attempt to regulate the internet with bills like SOPA and Bill C-10. I think SOPA ended up not passing (for now) but they’re still trying. Basically, who’s right? Do we have a right to get whatever we want for free, or do those who create it have a right to regulate who gets it, and what they do with it?

The answer, in my humblest of opinions, lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Clearly people need to be paid for what they do (even if they get completely ripped off by whatever company they happen to be working for) but suing ten year olds for downloading songs? Good Lord, people. Calm the hell down.

I’ve made this point in previous posts from other classes, but maybe we no longer buy movies, or music, or even books, because they’re not worth buying. I know that’s what I do, at least. I’ll support the artist of a song if I believe they’re making quality music (and to buy the actual CD around here is going way out of my way, since HMV mostly sells crappy mainstream bullshit). So maybe since most of what is pumped out by the entertainment business is completely terrible, we’ve stopped giving them our money. I have no shame in downloading a movie I thought was mediocre (though if I didn’t like it, why am I downloading it, I suppose you could argue).

Anyway, this is really only one part of a very large issue. Another is fair use; for example, taking a television show, cutting up certain parts of it, and putting it back together to tell a different story should be considered fair use for parody or whatever you want. And, to my knowledge, it is. So why are channels and videos being banned on Youtube? In fact, I watch one particular parody series on Youtube by this guy whose channel is taken down almost every other month. He made a short video that is actually pretty relevant to the course: Youtube has changed its policy when it comes to videos and copyright. If I understand correctly, it used to be that if your video got taken down, you could contact Youtube to tell them how you weren’t actually violating any copyright laws, and if they accept it, your video will be put back up. But now, they’ve done away with that system, so if your video gets taken down, well, that sucks for you. If anyone is interested.

At the end of the day, is copyright evil? Not when it’s done fairly. But hey, it’s the government, and fair isn’t a part of their vocabulary. So people deserve to get paid, but we like to have things for free. And the degree to which people are being punished for these “violations” of copyright law is pretty…extreme. Perhaps when the content we download is actually good, then maybe they can guilt us into paying for things again. Maybe.