Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh, stuff in the news

Iceland's government collapsed.

ADHD drugs can cause hallucinations and psychotic episodes in kids, turns out.

There is a virus that can make you fat.


Warner Music is slitting its own throat by alienating the people who buy their product under the name of 'copyright law.'

Unfortunately, YouTube has a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach to copyright, to protect copyright holders, and if your video gets flagged, you don't even get to ask what you did wrong--they just take it down. This seems like a very cut-and-dried approach to copyright, and it seems fair. If someone uploads scenes from a movie, or music from a cd they bought, it makes sense.

But it doesn't allow for gray areas. Like Corey Vidal's moosebutter tribute to John Williams, which is based on Williams' music, but is clearly its own creative work on two levels--first when moosebutter wrote the instrumental music into a song that is clearly different from anything Williams created himself and performed it themselves, and then second when Corey filmed the video of moosebutter's creation, which he did have permission to use. I personally heard Tim grant that permission.

Like 'Wicked', 'Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead', paintings by Andy Warhol, music by Weird Al, there is source material that was used, but the resulting product is clearly and indisputably a creative work in its own right. I've seen this called both a derivative and a transformative work, and, as such, different laws apply. And no, it's not like publishing fan fic--the music laws are different than the print copyright laws. For example, anyone can do a performance of someone else's song--it's legal if they pay royalties.

So the rights of Warner should be different. They shouldn't be allowed to make a blanket copyright claim that prohibits self-defense.

Apparently, though, there is no precedent for what happened to Corey/moosebutter's video on youtube, and entertainment lawyers are itching to make it a test case. Rumor has it some have offered to take the case for no charge to Corey. Whenever I heaar lawyers offer that, I start looking for the dollar signs. Lawyers aren't generally known for getting involved unless they see potential for either lots of easy money, or fame, or both. I suppose getting to be involved in establishing the case law might be enough for them, but I'm wondering if they're seeing the potential for a payout for 'damages' or something.

I'm also wondering where we fit into this picture. I think it would be dreadful if the case went to court as Corey vs Warner, and he won and then they came after us. I suppose if Corey decides to do the court thing, we'd have to talk to the lawyer up front, too, to find out the implications of all this for us, since the disputed copyright infringement was actually the song and not Corey's performance of it, and we own the song, even though he owns the video.

The funny thing is, other people have illegally reposted the video, and theirs are still up, although we or Corey could legitimately make a copyright claim against them. Plus there are dozens of other videos that use that song that are still there. Maybe the issue is actually that Corey actually was making money off the video (something like a third of a cent per view, so not much money--why would Warner make such a fuss over a couple thousand dollars?)

Anyway, Warner is in hot water anyway for alienating both their musicians and their fans, and they may be past the point of reconciliation with either.

For the hundredth time in the last 5 months, I'm left saying, 'I wonder what's going to happen next?'