Tuesday, September 13, 2011

if free culture is going to be so great, why are bullies in charge of it?

Helienne Lindvall is a hard-working musician with a major label career. She's also a writer of note, a Swede transplanted to New York and then London whose arts journalism is published at home in the Guardian and as far off as The Australian. She knows just how rewarding, exciting and precarious it can be as a professional artist and "content creator" in today's global digital tsunami zone. When she speaks about professional creation, folks should listen.

Unfortunately for her, when Helienne does speak about professional creation she occasionally rubs free-culture ideologues the wrong way. All her talk about respecting intellectual property, not infringing copyright and paying for music makes the FC boys angry - and when they get angry, they become bullies.

In her first column for The Australian, Lindvall relates how some of her past opinions have resulted in extended bully-sessions from the mostly anonymous free culture crowd:
...the anonymous abuse I received went to such disturbing lengths that I became so stressed, worried and afraid (I received death threats on Twitter) that I considered never again speaking out. When an indie label who spoke up in my defence had its website attacked and disabled, I felt I didn't have the strength to fight this battle on my own.
I recall a Lindvall column in which she marveled at the fact that a few famous free culture advocates get paid quite handsome sums to fly first class around the world and lecture the rest of us creative schlubs about how we should be working for free. It was funny, thought-provoking and spot-on in its criticism... and boy, did it make some folks mad. Prominent science-fiction writer and outspoken critic of traditional copyright-related industries, Cory Doctorow was one of the well-paid media gurus on which Lindvall focused. She referenced a conference organizer who'd contacted Doctorow's booking agent and was quoted his speaking fee. Lindvall mentioned that rather impressive fee in her article.

Doctorow responded immediately in her comment section (his is the fifteenth comment, with many to follow) with a slew of forceful denials about his earnings from speaking fees. He listed all the pro-bono events he spoke at in the previous six months to show just how little he'd made, and only later did he admit that, yes, his booking fee for professional gigs is actually pretty close to what Lindvall had originally reported. Yes, he does fly first class, Doctorow admitted, but only because of a medical condition. Then, in what is still (to date) the most bizarre piece of online bullying I've ever seen, Doctorow uploaded an MRI image of his... well... of his groin. With the naughty bits blacked out, he titled the photo "My hips, for Helienne."

You can't make this stuff up, folks. It's all right there for anyone to see in the comments at the link above.

Let's put aside the strangeness of someone feeling they have to prove how little they make as some sort of character reference, how in hell does expressing a public opinion about professional creation warrant Lindvall's aforementioned Twitter badgering, death threats, and the flashing of a groinal MRI in her face?

It's not for nothing I ask this question. Over the last week, I drove a couple thousand kilometers around Ontario's northeastern regions, meeting professional (and non-professional) writers, visual artists and festival organizers to talk about arts funding. It was an invigorating, educational, geographically beautiful journey - the kind of business trip that reminds me just how rewarding it is to work in the cultural sector. Such good people, such interesting conversation.

Yet the whole time I was on my mini-tour of the near north's professional creators, I trailed a cloud of Twitter complainers (one of my friends compared it to Pigpen's cloud of dust from the Peanuts cartoons). I'd be sitting in meetings, talking with artists, and I'd feel my Blackberry buzz against my leg again and again, signaling yet another attack on my opinion in the ongoing copyright debate. As you may know, I have often commented publicly on copyright, most recently with an opinion piece in the Globe & Mail defending a tariff on educational use of copyright-protected materials. As with Lindvall, my public opinions attracted vicious and increasingly weird attacks.

There are 73 comments* following my Globe piece and all but a few are clearly from the educational lobby on the other side of the issue (many from commenters who frequent this very blog, pestering my every thought with their denial), and a great many of them have that particular free-culture flair - "The dying wheeze of yesterday's man" is my favorite (it's almost poetic).  As with Lindvall, nothing I say in response to the attacks seems to make any difference. Using facts certainly has no effect.

As the situation stands, speaking forcefully in favour of creator copyright these days puts one on the free-culture hit list. Folks you've never heard of will suddenly find you on Twitter and pester you ceaselessly (they really seem to have NOTHING else to do with their time).I sometimes wonder why more artists don't speak out on this issue, but I know the answer. Who wants to be the target of that incessant negativity?

If you make too many waves for the free culture folks then maybe, like Lindvall and me, you'll even get a visit from Cory Doctorow himself. Doctorow dipped into my Twitter battle to belittle my suggestion that he and other prominent critics might actually want to meet with the Canadian copyright collective (Access Copyright) and work for positive change, rather than constantly sniping at them from afar. How could he meet with AC, he sneered, since he lives in England?*

And then - again bizarrely - he claimed he'd already met with the Access Copyright Executive Director:
@doctorow: Oh, and there was the whole day I took off work to meet with the execdir in London
The suggestion being that Doctorow had generously given of his valuable time to talk over copyright with Access Copyright, and found them inflexible and unmovable - just another failed business model in the great free-cultural revolution.

Funny thing about that all day meeting in London - it never happened. I'm good friends with the Executive Director of Access Copyright, and I definitely would have remembered her telling me she had a daylong session with Doctorow. So, I asked her about it.

Never. Happened.

When I mentioned to Doctorow he might not be... um... presenting an accurate history, I was immediately called a troll (Doctorow didn't call me a troll - that was one of his protectors - but he helpfully explained to me that I get called a troll "because of your tone is so often meanspirited" (sic)). Doctorow then dismissed me:
@doctorow: In any event, I'm done with this. I don't find discussion w you productive
 I guess not. When it becomes clear to everyone involved that the loudest critics of Access Copyright and professional creation in Canada aren't really on top of their own factual claims, how productive could their arguments be?

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* I later discovered that when Doctorow made this remark, he was tweeting from... Toronto. He is speaking about copyright and totalitarianism tomorrow evening at the Art Gallery of Ontario, about a ten minute walk from the office of Maureen Cavan, Access Copyright's Executive Director.

** Interestingly, while those professional creators in support of my views stay away from the comment pile-on, they did share my article 45 times on Twitter and 150 times on Facebook. I like to think of them as the silent majority.

image courtesy Helienne Lindvall's website

40 comments:

Darryl said...

You might want to add the death threats that Andrew Crossley of ACS in London was getting in response to the John Doe law suits he was filing in bulk against alleged P2P copyright infringes.

Interestingly he is representative of the bullies that exist on the other side of this debate. Between his thousands of letters, the RIAA extortion racket, the similar Righthaven extortion racket and the more recent Canadian chapter of the extortion racket, there is no shortage of bullies on your side either.

Also interestingly, you do not mention what Doctorow says in his response to Helienne (You did not link to it either)

" if your plan requires that online services censor their user submissions; if your plan involves disconnecting whole families from the internet because they are accused of infringement; if your plan involves bulk surveillance of the internet to catch infringers, if your plan requires extraordinarily complex legislation to be shoved through parliament without democratic debate; if your plan prohibits me from keeping online videos of my personal life private because you won't be able to catch infringers if you can't spy on every video....[then] I'll continue to tour the world, for free, spending every penny I have and every ounce of energy in my body to fight you. "

While I would never condone violence, or even the threat of violence, those who do not have either Doctorow's resources, contacts, or appeal, could certainly feel the same anxiety he does, and would look for ways to express it. Do you suppose the above mentioned law firms and industry trade groups experience the same anxiety? I suppose they must.

Oh, and regarding your last comment. Do keep in mind that a majority of a narrowly defined 'professional creators' that your tweets represent is absolutely minuscule next to a more widely defined majority of users who share the frustration, if not the methods, of the 'bullies' Ms Lindvall has experienced.

John said...

Darryl,

Only a card-carrying member of my Pigpen cloud of negativity could celebrate death threats to anyone as a proper response to copyright disputes. The "bullying" you refer to seems to be the perfectly legal response of rightsholders to piracy, whereas the bullying I refer to is just weird, harassing, and not in any way linked to a valid legal complaint.

You're entitled to your view, of course, and I'll just note that your opinion is allowed here on my blog, as always. The same courtesy is not extended to me on Cory Doctorow's blog, Boing Boing, where I have been banned and had all comments removed for the sin of disagreeing with Cory.

Darryl said...

Oh please. And only a true blinkered ideologue such as yourself would miss these words in my comment

"While I would never condone violence, or even the threat of violence...

maybe being in bold now will help you see them.

To claim some understanding of the causes of these behaviours no more "celebrates death threats", then a learned Catholic celebrates bombing abortion clinics. Get a grip.

Your post and your comment demonstrate quite well, your own extremism.

Also, something being legal, doesn't always make it right. Though I do understand you have a very difficult time drawing any distinction between these two very different concepts.

Finally. Regarding your open forum. I do very much commend you for keeping it so. Yours is the only one I know of on your side of the debate which is so open. Similarly I am very disappointed in the one incident of disemvoweling that I am aware of, of your posts on boing boing. But if I had to choose, I'd take disemvoweling over extortion any day.

Paul Lima said...

I haven't been following the debate all that closely since I do mostly corporate work, having hung up my spurs at the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post. However, I have written 10 books and this much I know: If I could not make money from my books, I wouldn't write them. Some writing, music, movies and art would be produced even if writers, musicians, filmmakers, artists could not earn money, I suspect most, though, would not be produced. So what will the FC advocates read, listen to, watch, view once that happens?

Darryl said...

Hello Paul.

"I haven't been following the debate all that closely since I do mostly corporate work"

Well Paul, welcome to my world. That's the way it is for most technology developers too.



"If I could not make money from my books, I wouldn't write them."

But interestingly you would never know whether you could or not until if you did not try. Even when we had large technological barriers to copying, many authors would write books, and many of them would not get published. Of those that did, many more would make little or no money at it. Just ask John. He hasn't given up his day job yet.

Few people are actually advocating for the abolition of copyright. As such, even with a reduction in its breadth and term that I and many others want, there would still be many opportunities to make money from your copyright.

Unfortunately with new technology, not only is it impossible to prevent people from making and sharing copies, it is only going to get more difficult without increasing warrantless surveillance and infringement of users real property rights. Not to mention a loss of fair dealing/fair use, and increased security concerns for users.

I don't know what the answer is for creators. I do know what the answer is NOT, which is basically everything that John is advocating for.

I disagree with your contention that there would be less creative material if the financial motivation were reduced. That is a red herring. No new artist ever went into their field with the goal of making money. If they did, they would have become stock brokers instead.

Besides copying, one of the other benefits of technology is the ease and cost of creation too. This means that any loss of material due to financial realities for some is more than made up for by the huge volume of new creators. Half my family for example, read as much fan-fiction as they do paid content. The really good ones from this larger pool of creators will be some of the lucky ones who will be able to actually make a career of it. Given that they will be selected by the market from a much larger pool of candidates, there is a good argument to be made that the quality of creative material will increase as well.

Sandy Crawley said...

@Darryl,

How easily it slips off your keyboard: "I do know what the answer is NOT, which is basically everything that John is advocating for." That meets the dictionary definition of diatribe. And it's the first time I've read from you here an open admission of enmity towards a particular point of view. It's refreshingly honest although it does reveal how closed your mind is to workable solutions that respect professional creators of content.

John said...

So there you go, Paul -- according to Darryl's canned history of the creative industries, it's always been easy to NOT make a living at being a professional artist. The free culture movement is just making it easier - and easier is always better, isn't it?

Thank goodness we can all go into fan-fiction. After all, the "cost of creation" is all about technological expense, isn't it? It can't have anything to do with professional training, development of one's craft, and the actual time it takes to create professional work.

I'll just quickly quote myself here:

"Folks you've never heard of will suddenly find you on Twitter and pester you ceaselessly (they really seem to have NOTHING else to do with their time)."

Careful how far you venture into this discussion, Paul - especially if you value your time (and I know you do). There is no "off" button on Darryl.

Darryl said...

Sandy. Speaking of diatribes, did you read the one which started this whole conversation thread rolling?

As for the quote from me you like so much, "I do know what the answer is NOT, which is basically everything that John is advocating for." Do you really not see this as a simple statement of fact? And. Are you competing with John for the best hyperbole? If so, he still has you beat with "celebrate death threats to anyone as a proper response to copyright disputes". Sorry, you can't top that.

Let's review some of the facts shall we?

John supports legal protection for DRM. I think doing so, will alienate users more than they already are and drive them away from legitimate sources and in the process reduce respect for existing copyright laws.

John supports at least maintaining the current term of copyright and is quite amenable to lengthening it too. I think copyright needs to be reduced and simplified, and registration made mandatory for the benefit of both users and new artists so they can make use of existing works without the need of a staff of lawyers. And for heavens sake, don't ever make it longer.

John supports A-C's right to charge whatever they want and that universities should simply fall in line. I think the usefulness of A-C is diminishing by the day and universities should be allowed to divest themselves from this organization rather than being locked into it. The sooner the better. Locking them in will unnecessarily deprive universities of the funds they need to acquire other materials.

There are many more examples, but this should demonstrate that in general what John sees as part of the solution, I see as contributing to making the problem worse. That is consistent with my statement and does not make me closed minded. I have a fairly reasonable understanding of your views, I simply think they are wrong AND have (many times) expressed why I think so.

Of course, the real problem may simply be that you need a better dictionary.

Crockett said...

John, bullying is not acceptable from anyone. There are unfortunately elements of the 'free culture' crowd that participate in this but honestly John the other side of the playing field is just as bad or worse.

The war on 'file sharing' has had many unfortunate side effects on people's rights to privacy and due process. Now it has moved to something even more sinister.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/newzbin2-builds-block-averting-measures-into-its-software.ars?comments=1&p=22061901#comment-22061901

You may recall a few months back I warned that using the same system that blocks access to child pornography on the net to combat 'Hollywood' level file sharing could end badly. Your response was a flippant "Crockett ... What!?"

This is one time I am very sorry to have been proven right. The cleanfeed blocking software that has been used fairly successfully has now been compromised by hackers. Now the blame for this rightly goes to the fools who have hacked this system, but honestly did the **AA not perceive the big red target they were painting? In something as serious as child pornography could there not have been a different approach?

Yes file sharing is a problem, the degree is in question, but rights should still be respected. I am just saying that the collateral damage of this war is starting to get worse than the battles themselves.

Greater efforts on holistic workable solutions should be pursued rather than the emotional knee-jerk reactions that often make situations worse.

Paul Lima said...

"I disagree with your contention that there would be less creative material if the financial motivation were reduced."

Let me put it this way, *I* would produce less creative material if the financial motivation were reduced. Therefore, there would be less material. (And I suspect I am not the only creator who would do so.) Having said that, I have no problem with a creator choosing to give away material, as bloggers do. As I have in fact done with my "Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Writing" book - posted all 41 chapters on my blog.

And I don't think creators should make money just because they have created. You have to find an audience and earn your keep. I do think there should be fair, balanced and enforceable rules around selling, copying, sharing. And yes, the rules should take into consideration how technology makes it easier to do all three of those things. If that means solid digital rights management for a creator who does not want to share, so be it. At the same time, bloggers can share freely. So I don't advocate one rule for all creators. I advocate respect for all creators, though.

Darryl said...

"Therefore, there would be less material" *from you*.

Fair enough, but with no disrespect, that doesn't matter as long as others exist who will.

And of course the ends society should go to to encourage creativity is not without bounds. A "solid" digital restrictions management system which both you and John support, is not possible to begin with and in order for it to even approach being workable it would require an unparalleled level of privacy invasion, suspension of private property rights, and loss of free expression, which of course brings us full circle to my original quote from Doctorow:

" if your plan requires that online services censor their user submissions; if your plan involves disconnecting whole families from the internet because they are accused of infringement; if your plan involves bulk surveillance of the internet to catch infringers, if your plan requires extraordinarily complex legislation to be shoved through parliament without democratic debate; if your plan prohibits me from keeping online videos of my personal life private because you won't be able to catch infringers if you can't spy on every video....[then] I'll continue to tour the world, for free, spending every penny I have and every ounce of energy in my body to fight you. "

John said...

Seriously everyone - if you're going to be spending so much time here, you should really be sharing the blog posting for me. I've made it ridiculously easy to tweet and put on Facebook, so please. I'm trying to get somewhere in this sharing economy, you know. It would probably also help Crockett and Darryl avoid Blogger's SPAM filter, which in its wisdom is getting quite Scotty with you.

Paul, did Darryl's offer of "no disrespect" cushion the blow of his complete dismissal? You don't matter, Paul, because your work can be done by someone else. This same logic is now being used by universities to avoid paying the copyright tariff because, they assert, they can find alternatives to the content thousands of Canadian creators have produced. That they won't always find alternatives is another issue, but I think it's enough for us as a distinct culture to ponder the fact that our universities are right now looking for "alternatives" to Canadian-created content.

Crockett, I simply refuse to accept the upside-down free-culture logic that it is the fault of the content industries that a bunch of jerks have hacked child-porn security measures. You can't place that blame on anyone other than the hackers, no matter how slippery your rhetoric. I find even the attempt at making that point to be intellectually dishonest, and I'm not surprised at all to find it here in my comments section.

Darryl, you and Doctorow can take everything to the most terrifying extreme all you want (Doctorow gave a lecture at the AGO yesterday about how copyright can lead to totalitarianism -- lecturing professional curators about how they should be handling the art in their charge - the ego!) but the call for reasonable legal protection for digital rights management contains no evil intent.

And please, as I had to request from Russell McOrmond about a million times last week on Twitter, don't start another sentence with the words "John supports," "John thinks," or "John believes." You don't speak for me.

Crockett said...

John, you and the media industry may not want to take any responsibility for the fallout to your actions, but nevertheless they do occur.

Just to be clear, I do NOT support illegal hacking, there seems to be a lot of stupid and reckless people out there participating in such behaviour.

Which is why many major charitable & technology agencies protested the use of this software for P2P blocking. It was simply throwing gasoline on the fire.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-07/29/copyright-infringement-is-not-child-porn

Yes, it lies at the feet of these hackers if any child is victimized because of this, but it was simply unwise and not necessary for the media industry to take this route.
The fact that they were warned by many against it does not speak well.

Just because something is legal does not make it necessarily the right thing to do. In some states it is legal to shoot someone who breaks into your house, some would applaud that, is it right? I'll let you come up with your own answer for that.

File sharing is a problem, but not to the point that eclipses all other issues. Even when one is operating within their 'rights' they should still use common sense.

Phree Gernalists Kant rite said...

Didn't want to read your article without paying you something.

So I'm flippin you the Bird cuz your writing sucks and I wasted a few minutes of my life reading your trash.

No wonder it's free.

John said...

Crockett,

As I read your "logical" formulation, it's incredibly irresponsible for anyone to use a Yale lock on their house because pedophiles might learn how to pick Yale locks when they break into your house, and then they will use that learning to harm children.

I find that laughably sensationalist. It may be the cheapest, least honest accusation the free culture movement has ever come up with to try and shame the "media industry" into leaving their content open for pillage and profit by others.

Darryl said...

"You don't matter, Paul, because your work can be done by someone else."

Does the truth of that hurt too much John? You don't matter either. None of us as individuals matter. It is the net effect upon society that counts.



" it's enough for us as a distinct culture to ponder the fact that our universities are right now looking for "alternatives" to Canadian-created content"

So true. And it is too damn bad that A-C is making this necessary.



" I simply refuse to accept the upside-down free-culture logic that it is the fault of the content industries that a bunch of jerks have hacked child-porn security measures."

Except for the fact that it is not a child-port security measure any longer. It is a general purpose *censorship* measure which is also being used for child-porn. That was Crockett's point, and THAT makes all the difference.



"but the call for reasonable legal protection for digital rights management contains no evil intent."

The intent is not needed for the evil to still subsist. There is no such thing as reasonable legal protection for DRM, as any legal protection at all requires a sacrifice of someone elses real property rights which I refuse to accept.



"don't start another sentence with the words "John supports," "John thinks," or "John believes.""

John, I can't believe you expend so much effort writing on this blog and you don't expect people to come away with some understanding of what your beliefs are. Or are yours suppose to be 'the beliefs that shall not be named'?... Actually you know there is the basis for a good literary villain in that idea!

Crockett said...

John,

People, including major charities and advocacy groups, warned the media industry not to use a tool specifically meant to fight child pornography as a tool against simple file sharing.

They were ignored, now because of that the system which has stood for years has been cracked by twisted script kiddies who need their movie download fix.

It was a line of dominoes that anyone with some sober thought could see coming. It was just plain irresponsible and completely unnecessary, any system is crackable given enough of user base and incentive. This is one are that should not have been touched.

Period.

You may think your self blameless but the facts speak otherwise. The system has been cracked because it was made a target. If the media industry had left alone it would still be standing. This is self evident.

Disagree if you wish, others see this for what it is, your 'rights' at the expense of any others. Your movies and music are no safer and now child pornographers have an easier ride.

Good Job.

Sensational? Yes, but sadly also true.

Crockett said...

@Degen "to try and shame the media industry into leaving their content open for pillage and profit by others."

Of course others should not profit without permission off anyone else's work. Obviously. It's how to tackle this problem where we disagree.

The 'technological' war is lost, the sooner this is realized the better we can move on to workable solutions.

Specifically, laws that are seen as unfair by the majority at large will be ignored and as it is impossible to censure a majority of the public, will be unenforceable. If something can be locked, it can be unlocked. There is much more 'expertise' out there with a pick than the master locksmith so this is also an unwinnable battle. Respect for copyright is diminishing in equal proportion to the increase of restrictive and punitive policies.

Is this a good thing? I think not, but it the reality we live in.

An attitude adjustment is needed in society in general. We need to move from a war footing to one of mutual cooperation. Human nature being what it is, looking past My rights! My downloads! My profits! may be a difficult one. The only way forward I see is to generate goodwill. How? By offering good products & service with a positive attitude.

Case in point - WestJet

I do a lot of travel flying. In Canada I usually fly WestJet, but one day I thought to give Air Canada a turn. I could go into all the details, but let it suffice that to say the service was terrible, the unexpected fees and restrictions were cumbersome and the pleasant attitude of the staff was completely absent.

After that experience I go out of my way to never fly Air Canada again, even if ends up costing me more (which it rarely does). I liken this analogy to the media industry. There are a few WestJets out there [Netflix], but the majority seems to be run by corporate boardrooms.

The main difference? Westjet is owned and run by the employees and it shows. People ENJOY using their product and have an amazing loyalty to it.

Some good lessons here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjhAbL2zUGg&feature=share

John said...

Crockett,

I'm not talking about choosing WestJet over Air Canada. That's a case of competing product/service providers in a free market.

I'm talking about stealing, the encouragement of stealing, apologists for stealing, theorists who try to make stealing look like sharing or rebellion against totalitarianism, and the bullies who, encouraged by their theorist masters, try to shut down reasoned discussion.

I find it not at all surprising that my two free-culture blog mascots have made zero mention in the comments on this posting of Cory Doctorow's shameful behaviour on Twitter last week, or his even more shameful behaviour towards Helienne Lindvall -- you know, the very thing this blog posting is actually ABOUT. Instead, when Doctorow's name is mentioned, it is only to very carefully excuse his behaviour. Then the subject gets changed back to how bad the media and content industries are.

Oy, the endless parade of excuses and rationalizations. Are you afraid Cory will hear that you've dared to criticize him? If so, you might want to examine that feeling a bit more closely.

JacobG88 said...

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Here is mine. :)

http://jacobgadams88.blogspot.com/

Crockett said...

John, you seem to have covered Doctorow's behavior fairly well. If it did occur as you say then it does seem childish and inappropriate.

I see my role to point out the similar childish and inappropriate antics on the other side to bring some balance to the whole issue.

Personally I would rather speak of trends and issues rather than the character flaws of specific people, I think that would be more productive.

Arthur Taylor said...

Interesting. I came into this with every inclination to agreeing with the author of the post. I came out of it disagreeing, and finding the tone of it obnoxious and heartily biased.

And you say these people have no "off switch" and do nothing else with their time, then reference your Blackberry going off all the time. So, what, we're all connected to these discussions all the time, but when it's the other side it's a sign that they're a bit sad.

No, as I said, I came into this agreeably, but you convinced me that this is just a privileged whinge. Shame, as an artist I wish that the (self appointed) people who allege that they're in my corner weren't a bunch of bullying babies.

But you convinced me otherwise. And I hate that because I can't stand Doctorow and the rest either, but at least they don't defend financial extortion while whining about hateful tweets.

Darryl said...

"I find it not at all surprising that my two free-culture blog mascots have made zero mention in the comments on this posting of Cory Doctorow's shameful behaviour on Twitter last week, or his even more shameful behaviour towards Helienne Lindvall"

Hmmm, interesting. I did mention my strong disagreement with his disemvoweling of your comments on Boing Boing. (I guess you missed that as you missed the key sentence in my first comment which might have prevented you from launching into a tirade against me.) I took the time to decipher your comments on BoingBoing and found nothing which merited such a response. At the same time I commended you different approach on your site. In both cases because I value open discussion.

Other than a somewhat questionable decision to post his hip Xray, I saw little in what Doctorow said that could be considered shameful. What I saw was someone trying to present hid side of what was a rather bias story.

Re twitter (which I don't read much), so far all we've heard (through you) is his account, and your hearsay, on a rather minor issue regarding a conversation with the ED of A-C. Please excuse me if I delay my judgement and disdain for a while longer.

Some of us actually do value "reasonable discussion" John, and while you put up a good facade with your open forum and all, as Arthur Taylor and others have observed, the quality of the argument you present is rather lacking as well as "whiny".

If you want a reasonable discussion John, why don't you pick one of my responses to your posts in my last comment. Pick any one John. It doesn't matter. The criticisms I made are all fair, yet as usual you ignore them and instead go for the groin shot. In this case its Cory's.

John said...

Darrylkett? Crockerryl?

You guys are doing a bang-up job proving that an artist can speak out in defence of strong copyright and not be personally attacked by endless harangues. Keep up the great work.

Arthur Taylor,

I have no intention of speaking for you. Speak for yourself. If you find what I say too whiny you should just go ahead and write a blog about how you feel about creator copyright. Lots of room on the Internet. That goes for Crokdar as well - don't feel you have to stay here just because you can't stop reading my writing.

In the meantime, your comments will continue to be accepted here in my comment section, even if they are little more than personal attacks.

Financial extortion? I'm not even sure what that is, and I sure don't remember defending it.

Darryl said...

"Financial extortion? I'm not even sure what that is, and I sure don't remember defending it."


Wow, seriously John? It's right there in your very first comment. I'll quote it in bold so that you can see your own words better.

The "bullying" you refer to seems to be the perfectly legal response of rightsholders to piracy

John said...

Darryl,

If you want to keep quoting things back to me, it would help for you to have a solid understanding of what they mean, and to not ALWAYS be engaged in revising history.

I have my own opinions about when, where and how forcefully one should use the legal levers at one's disposal to assert one's rights, and I believe I have even expressed several times legal reforms that could be brought to address chilling litigation. These are reasonable thoughts.

By contrast, your use of the term "extortion" to describe perfectly legal actions is hyperbole.

And, as the particularly angry, violent kind of hyperbole that one so often sees coming from the free-culture camp, it's just another example of the non-stop bullying I've outlined in this posting.

Darryl said...

"By contrast, your use of the term "extortion" to describe perfectly legal actions is hyperbole."


And yet you equating every act of copyright infringement with theft is not hyperbole. Go figure.

As long as statutory damages exist which corporations can use to pressure victims into settlements which are far above any actual losses, "extortion" will remain an apt description of the affair.

John said...

Darryl,

Your studied indignation might work had I ever actually "equat[ed] every act of copyright infringement with theft."

I have not.

Again, allow me to speak for myself, please. You really don't have a very good grasp on my ideas or beliefs. Stick to your own.

Crockett said...

Daryl, in John's defence I think I do recall him one time saying that banning someone from use of the internet (for infringement) could be a disproportionate response and violation of inherent rights. So ALWAYS may be too comprehensive a term.

I have to agree though that the 'hurt locker' type of operation does fall close enough to the definition of extortion to be applicable. One only has to do a simple Google search to find many recent and high profile examples of these schemes censure and failure.

And John, in reference to you more recent blog posting, I agree name calling is both juvenile and counter productive while diminishing the stature of the perpetrator.

Darryl said...

"Your studied indignation might work had I ever actually "equat[ed] every act of copyright infringement with theft."

I have not. "



You don't say....


http://johndegen.blogspot.com/2011/03/whos-failing-whom.html

"What cheap, piratical satisfaction Brown gets from stealing copyrighted material is a mystery to me, but his column helped to refocus the debate about whether or not copyright infringement is theft. I think most reasonable people would say it is theft"


Funny, I don't see any qualifiers on this statement. Are you offering a clarification of this position then John?


I would be more than happy to allow you to speak for yourself John, but your words keep getting muffled as they try to get past your foot.

John said...

Darryl,

It's flattering, and only vaguely creepy, that you would spend so much time trying (desperately) to catch me in some sort of personal opinion discrepancy.

Still, I don't see an example from you of when I said that every act of copyright infringement is theft. I do think much infringement is indeed theft, and I despise it as such. Jesse Brown's infringement, as discussed by him.... yes, definitely theft, and I have some solid legal opinion to back me up on that.

Keep looking in your John Degen archives, strange man who never seems to leave my blog.

Crockett said...

@John "I'm not talking about choosing WestJet over Air Canada. That's a case of competing product/service providers in a free market."

Well actually John, there are two competing service providers in a de'facto free market ... Legal encumbered and Illegal unencumbered. It is true that one is illicit but the reality of current market dynamics really makes that point mute.

It is my opinion, and I accept that I may be proven wrong (even hopefully so), but efforts to curtail digital infringement is a lost cause. There is too much water past the dam, attitudes have been unfortunately fixed and the infrastructure that allows digital infringement was inherently designed to be uncompromisble (thank you US military).

If this is the reality we face then one has to learn to compete with free, and as this catchphrase has been bandied about as a negative I think it has been proven in many instances to be quite doable.

I do not necessarily think stronger creator rights (eg. endless term extensions) and certainly not usage restrictions is going to push that water back in the dam. I applaud your tenacity to see it so but a more adaptive and conciliatory approach (from all parties) is the only way I see to once again create a healthy marketplace.

It's only going to get worse or better, lets hope for the latter.

Darryl said...

John, It's right there in your words in black and white. Your post may have regarding Jesse's actions, and that may not have been what you were intending to say, but you can't deny that you still made the very general unqualified statement that copyright infringement is theft. Well actually, given your last comment I suppose you can deny just about anything. Probably including the sun and the moon.

You do know that you can use Google to search your site don't you? Doing a quick search for copyright infringement and theft turned up that as the first link. It took far less time to do the search and even read the reference than it takes to write a comment. If the amount of time I spent doing that is creepy, then the amount of time you spend in the comment section here trying to defend your hysterical posts should make for a good horror movie. Hmmm, "The Creepy Defender and The Beliefs That Shall Not Be Named". There are some possibilities in that don't you think?

Of course I use that word, "defend", rather liberally. None of your comments actually addressed any of the valid criticism of your post. Most of them were in fact attempts to direct away from the criticism and attack the author. Me. You big creepy bully.

John said...

Darryl,

What would Doctorow say at this point? "I'm done with this. I don't find discussion w you productive."

If you want to pull my words out of context and massage them into something that makes you feel like you've zinged me or caught me in a lie, I hope the emotional reward you get from that is worth the work you put into it.

I don't believe you are actually interested in my real opinions about copyright infringement and theft. I know that I have made them extremely clear in my writing and my public speaking. Only someone with an obsessive ideological agenda against my expressed feelings about creator copyright would bother to remove all nuance from my words and try to build such a ridiculous straw man generalization.

Contrary to what you may have privately concluded, I do not write on my personal blog in order to have conversations with you. That you cannot drag yourself away from here to find any other satisfactory engagement is your issue, not mine.

Trust me, if you were to leave, I wouldn't follow you around the Internet (as you and many other free-culture troopers do to me).

John said...

Oy, Crockett, please stop with the lectures about the realities of technological change.

No-one here is trying to push any water anywhere. I've said close to a hundred times that I'm interested in all new business models for creators, and that I don't tell anyone how to do their business in the new reality.

What I have also always argued is that there is absolutely no need for us to remove any creator rights in order for creators to enjoy all that the new reality offers, nor for users to enjoy massive new conveniences in the enjoyment of creative product.

Crockett said...

@John "What I have also always argued is that there is absolutely no need for us to remove any creator rights in order for creators to enjoy all that the new reality offers, nor for users to enjoy massive new conveniences in the enjoyment of creative product."

This could be quite true if it were not for the proposed copyright laws that make digital locks trump fair use provision in the very same bill.

Do you honestly believe, for most of us do not, that most industries will simply not lock everything thus take away any free market choice? If the governments answer is don't buy material that is locked if you oppose it, is fine ... unless there is nothing else to buy.

"You can have any color car you want .. as long as it's black"

Just as you called for clarity and opposed the stripping of rights from creators in Bill C-32, we also call for the same considerations for users.

There's not a lot of trust going around John and way too much animosity, on either side. That is what I have always argued and what really has to change or this rooster fight will not end.

Darryl said...

"What I have also always argued is that there is absolutely no need for us to remove any creator rights in order for creators to enjoy all that the new reality offers..."

Heh. That's why John always argues with me. Life+50,70,100? Come on. That is way too long, and significantly interferes with reuse of works. "moral" rights that allow creators to control how you display a work after you purchase it? Extreme overreach! Multiple copyrights in a single work, text, music, choreography etc? Forget it. Make copyright term from the date of creation and people wont ever have to worry about lyrics copyright subsisting after the sound recording has fallen out of copyright. There are quite a few existing creator rights that were not well thought out at the time and need to go. Both for the benefit of followup creators and users alike.



"...nor for users to enjoy massive new conveniences in the enjoyment of creative product."

I understand you don't see creators rights needing to be sacrificed for this, but users rights sure do. But I know. "users rights" is an oxymoron isn't it John?

John said...

Well gentlemen, I don't think I could have asked for a better demonstration of the free-culture misinformation comment merry-go-round.

Darryl and Crockett, and of course Pieter on another thread have combined forces to sow confusion and uncertainty by misrepresenting my very clearly stated thoughts on copyright. Anyone who cares to can look back through my various postings and see the same three fellows, pulling the same fast ones over and over again.

It's argument by attrition - an attempt to blunt the edge of facts and truth through continual logical erosion.

Crockett said...

John, opinions and beliefs different from your own do not automatically fall into the definition of misinformation or constitute a collusion against you. But best to believe I suppose than actually debate the issues.

Can you spin the merry-go-round a little faster please?

Pieter Hulshoff said...

Dear John,

I'm sorry that our logic gets in the way of your arguments. :) Now let's try and debate the issues rather than make general statements, shall we? Once again you don't address any of the points made against your position, and instead opt to put all of us squarely away in the "bad guys" box of "free-culture", and as such not worthy of your brilliant arguments. Please, dazzle us!

As for the three of us still sticking around: be glad! I'm sure many people read your posts (or at least I hope they do), but none of them seem inclined to reply. Blogs without comment discussions are usually quickly forgotten.