21st Century I.P.


Hey Googstapos … To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, “You’ve got at lot of damn gall to come after folks who include copyrighted music in their YouTube videos when you collect and store FOREVER every damn bit of personal information you can about us to be used against us to try to sell us crap we don’t need!”

OK … That about sums up the rest of this post. This is an incoherent rant. Deal with it.

Weggieboy’s comments on my JOSIV5 post hit a nerve.

Now I am not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV, so I have no legal insight here. But consider the following: let’s say

    I invite you to my house to listen to my LP record of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my 8-track of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my Compact Cassette of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my CD of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my self-ripped digital copy of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my iTunes Match digital C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to a local coffee shop and play C. W. McCall’s Convoy for you on my iPhone
    I come to your house and play C. W. McCall’s Convoy for you on my iPhone
    I upload C. W. McCall’s Convoy to YouTube and send you the link to listen to it
    I find someone else’s YouTube posting of C. W. McCall’s Convoy and send you the link
    I give you a digital copy of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I sell you a digital copy of C. W. McCall’s Convoy

Oh and somewhere in there is “I go to a local coffee shop and play C. W. McCall’s Convoy loud enough that everyone can hear it.”

Do you see where this is going?

Let’s try to separate “ethical” from “legal”. “Ethical” is doing the right thing. “Legal” is some arbitrary construct decided upon by lawyers and the courts, often in favor of big business and the rich. I say the rich, because the poor and middle class have neither the time nor the money to hire the lawyers to write the laws.

Ethical is paying artists for their work. Legal is making sure that the corporate entities who bought the rights to the music get every penny possible in order to pay large CEO salaries and lawyers to ensure they get every possible penny.

Ethical is not selling something that is not yours to sell. Legal is making sure that no one has access to art, music, information, or technology without paying for it. (How do libraries even exist anymore?)

So back to my scenario of C. W. McCall’s Convoy above. At what point does it stop being Ethical? Selling you a digital copy sounds unethical to me. Giving it to you … possibly. Letting you listen to it? I would argue that every scenario where I let you listen to it, whether at my home, or at the coffee shop, or via a link on the Internet is ethical. Implicit in this is that if you like it and want to listen to it again … you go buy it. (Thus my links to Amazon and iTunes for C. W. McCall’s Greatest Hits). Just ask yourself “What’s the right thing to do? How would I like to be treated? Think of the Golden Rule.

Legal is an entirely different answer. Selling a digital copy? Illegal. Giving a digital copy? Illegal. Posting online via YouTube for one-time use? Illegal. Uploading for download and unlimited use? Illegal. Play in public for others to hear? Illegal. (It is illegal to even sing Happy Birthday in public without paying royalties). Playing for a friend to listen to while in the physical presence of your friend? (lawyers: is there a way we can get him to pay to listen? No? Whaaaa) OK Legal

Ethical – everyone knows what feels right. Just ask the question “Is this fair? How would I like to be treated?”
Legal – you don’t know what is legal without access to the law or statute, the legal opinions handed down by the courts, or a lawyer to explain it to you. Two different lawyers might give two different interpretations.

Ethical is about fair.
Legal is about greed.

Now hold on a minute … You say “We need laws, otherwise people could just do whatever the wanted.” True. But how many laws are at the end of the day all about the Benjamins. ($$$)

Sharing is a fundamentally socialist construct. You can’t make money when people share things. That is the problem with the Internet. Is was designed at its very core to be collaborative, to share. Hence the ability of hyperlinks to jump all over the web. The ease of embedding images and videos from other sites. It was never about making money. You will notice that there are no ads on my site. I am not making any money off of this site. My links to iTunes and Amazon were “doing the right thing” … if you like the music, buy it “here”. Rest assured when (if) I finally have a book to sell, I will direct you to a site that will accept your hard earned currency in exchange for my product, but until then just do the right thing.

Copyright Law

The idea of Copyright Law was an attempt to assure one had the ability to profit from one’s work for a period of time before it transferred to the Public Domain. There was a fixed period of time. Now it seems that copyrights are bought and sold, renewed, long out-living their original owners. Multinational corporations now hold the copyright to books, music, movies in perpetuity. They never go into the public domain. At least it seems that way. Ethical is making sure a musician is paid for his music while he/she is alive. Legal is making sure that the corporate entity that bought the rights from the musician or his/her estate continues to make money from it as long as (legally) possible.

Patent Law

Same thing with Patent Law. At one time patents were only granted to things, actual working prototypes of machines. Now any concept no matter how general or far-fetched can be patented. And it is in the best interest of the patent applicant to patent as many variations as possible to keep another person from patenting the invention out from under him and then suing or threatening to sue once the item is in production.

Even so most patent cases either end up in court or patent trolls end up extorting money from manufacturers who can not afford to go to court. Once in court, the rulings are either completely arbitrary, or determined by the skill of the winning legal team.

Oh well, it’s late. I’m tired. I’ve blown off steam. There is so more more to vent about on this subject, but not now. Respond if you wish.


11 thoughts on “21st Century I.P.

  1. The copyright that I ran afoul of wasn’t the one on the original 1927-1929 recordings (for which Louie Armstrong and his ensembles were paid a pittance), but for the latest remaster of those pieces. The copyright went through at least three entities, perhaps four, and the entity making each remaster got a new copyright out of it. .

    Speaking of copyright, I hope I am OK to reblog this. This speaks more clearly to my issues than my rant yesterday.


  2. You may not reblog … It’s mine, mine I tell you. I’ll sue! Hahahahah

    Oh wait where was I? Yes of course, please reblog. With my best wishes.


      1. Good point! I think the legal system should be reshuffled so that it can only be used for good purposes, not to extort money. Legal fees are ridiculous for what they actually do for people, no matter what the case.


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