We’ve got a double winner on the insightful side this week, with Mason Wheeler taking both of the top spots. In first place, it’s a comment on the subject of fan fiction in response to Lucasfilm stepping in to defend a fan film from a copyright attack by Warner Chappel:
I’m reminded of the story Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It’s widely considered one of the greatest fan works ever created. It starts with the premise that instead of a loser like Vernon Dursley, Aunt Petunia had married a scientist instead, a good man who had raised the orphaned Harry with love and taught him about science. And then Harry gets the letter from Hogwarts, discovers magic is real, and starts using his scientific training to wreak havoc on the entire storyline.
Despite being a derivative work, it’s extremely original in what it does with the story of Harry Potter, and worthy of recognition as a creative work in its own right. But according to the legal status quo, it has no inherent right to exist and is only still out there because the Harry Potter rightsholders have not chosen to exercise their prerogative to get rid of it.
There’s something fundamentally wrong with that state of affairs.
In second place, it’s a response to a comment on our post about Google threatening to shut down Google News in Europe over Article 11:
News sites make Google’s product for it, and are asking only some TINY actual return for it.
Google’s product is Google News. (Among other products. But this is the one currently under discussion.) News sites make Google’s content for it, and what they’re getting is the massive actual return of Google driving traffic to their sites, which they are then able to monetize.
Google will not pay even a pittance, as its prior deliberate harm to Spain shows.
That’s not what it shows at all. What it shows is that without the traffic which Google sends to their sites, harm does indeed come to them. Which proves that the traffic itself is valuable, so why should Google be paying them for it?
If anything, the news sites should be grateful that Google is not charging them for the valuable traffic they deliver. If we were setting up a system in which you turned over valuable gold jewelry to me, which would make more sense? Me paying you for the jewelry, or me demanding that you also pay me money in addition to giving me the jewelry?
Obviously the latter scenario would be totally insane. So how can any sane person support the principle behind Article 11?
Warner Chappell, now where have I head that name before… oh yeah, they’re the ones who had to be sued in order to stop shaking people down for singing ‘Happy Birthday’, to the tune of millions over the course of several decades. Given that, why am I not surprised they made a cash-grab here as well, gotta make up for the lost millions in ill-gotten profit somehow…
Gotta love the what passes for logic they used there too. Infringe on one song that they own, and they claim ownership over the entire film, because clearly that’s a proportional, sane, and not at all overwhelmingly greedy response.
Next, it’s an oft-repeated but still-not-addressed fundamental problem with copyright law:
If penalties for bogus claims of infringement were even a fraction of penalties for infringement you can be sure that the number of claims issued would drop to almost nothing overnight.
Strangely enough though the penalties for that side of the equation tend to be laughably low, if they exist at all, despite the fact that bogus claims of infringement stand to do demonstrable harm, far more immediate and real than infringement, impacting creators in a much more significant manner.
Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another response to Google’s Article 11 threats, this time from Michael, musing on how Google could make a better-looking page within the law:
They could fill it with dancing hamsters.
In second place, it’s Anonymous Anonymous Coward with an explanation for the filter company that is lobbying so hard for Article 13:
The Good Thing about High Prices for Faulty Works
There is an explanation for the high prices Audible Magic is charging. They will take fiscal responsibility for each and every false positive and false negative that the hosting company gets charged with. In addition, when some rightsholder giant claims ownership of an independents work, they will compensate that independent with an annual income for life that would make the most highly paid artists in the world envious. That’s in their contract…right?
For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from ryuugami to the idea that Techdirt focuses too much on law for a tech blog:
It’s actually a dirt blog. Law fits in just fine.
And finally, we’ve got a question from Zem about the Choose Your Own Adventure publisher threatening Netflix over the interactive Black Mirror episode:
Did they end the original cease and desist letter,
Cave in and settle early. Go to page 27
Fight it in court. Go to page 15
That’s all for this week, folks!