Friday, February 6, 2009

Intellectual Property

Richard M. Stallman states in his article, Did You Say “Intellectual Property”? It's a Seductive Mirage, that copyright laws are, “designed to promote authorship and art, and covers the details of expression of a work. Patent law was intended to promote the publication of useful ideas, at the price of giving the one who publishes an idea a temporary monopoly over it—a price that may be worth paying in some fields and not in others. Trademark law, by contrast, was not intended to promote any particular way of acting, but simply to enable buyers to know what they are buying. Legislators under the influence of “intellectual property”, however, have turned it into a scheme that provides incentives for advertising (Stallman).” With all the talk over the past week about how the digital work is even faster and even cheaper and even wider spread. With these changes it is taken away the protections that were protected by books, papers, magazines, and records. This is because it is very easy to copy something and post it on the web with sites such as Wikipedia, Facebook, and MySpace to name a few.

Along the same lines we spoke about the fair use factors and when it is legal to make a copy. So my question to you is how much is too much when it comes to the amount of work that is being used? An example may be you download songs for an online music store such as iTunes which you pay $0.99 per song. If you purchase those songs but then share them among friends whether it be through blank cd’s or over the web when is the line drawn with copyright issues.

Freshman year my roommate got in trouble through the University for downloading music without paying for it. She had to go through several honor court appearances as well as having her computer cleared. I am sure there are many, many people all over the country and world who are doing going against copyright, patent, and trademark laws everyday. How can we put an end to this “intellectual property?”


  1. I am not sure that we should put an end to intellectual property seeing that the benefits may just out weigh the latter. Intellectual property rights is the legal properties rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial. If it were not for IP would we not have the classic coca-cola symbol bottle design? or the lovely golden-Arch symbol that can remind us of home when we are away in a foreign country? Intellectual property has such a wide array of benefits that many just don't know about. Its actually really interesting once you do some research on it and see what all it covers. I found out the IP is the intangible property that is the result of creativity such as patents, trademarks or copyright. So are you suggesting we do away with those as well? I'm just not so sure about that.

    As far as fair use goes, I just read up on an interesting story that I thought to share with those who may not know. The artist of the famed red, white and blue Obama posters is being sued by the Associate Press. They are accusing the artist of using their picture of Barack Obama that was printed in their paper and saying that they deserve rights to half of the profits he has made on selling the famous posters. All of this took place during campaigning times of Obama and McCain. The artist does admit that his idea of the portrait came from obama's picture they published however his lawyer says it is legal under the fair use law. Go take a look at it and see what you think!

  2. There might never be an end for “intellectual properties.” In my opinion, as long as there is a potential for people to make money from the products of their own intellects, there is a potential for someone to figure out a way utilizing these products for free. This is a reciprocal process without an end. As digital duplication technology becomes more and more prevalent, everyone can possibly get a copy of any intellectual product easily.

    In fact, the only way that could efficiently improve the protection of intellectual properties might be education. People need to embed concepts of how to respect copyright, how to fair use copyright, and not to invalid copyright as early as possible. The best way to do it is through educations. It is always hard to ask anybody to change his/ her nature immediately: once you are used to download or share music for free, it might be a little bit difficult for you to pay for everything that used to be free before. However, when it becomes a routine, everyone would be able to follow it more easily and thoroughly.

    Also, I think more standardized laws about digital rights management and intellectual protections should be set up internationally. There have been too many unclear parts of international laws dealing with intellectual protections around the world. For example, while the German Facebook clone, Studivz, was sued by Facebook successfully, the Chinese Facebook clone, Xiaonei, was able to escape similar prosecutions because of international law issues. If there is no standardized law to internationally agree with these related issues, it is hard to ask people, from different areas around the world, to hold the same value about intellectual protection. At the same time, it is impossible to standardized digital rights management.

  3. I cannot even begin to rationalize putting and end to intellectual property. As much as it becomes a nuisance sometimes, it still protects so many people's hard work and well thought out ideas. The only time intellectual property seems to be an issue, is when legality comes into play, and these days the biggest problem seems to be illegal downloading and sharing of media. As much as we love free "stuff," the fact of the matter is that "stuff" just isn't free. These laws that tip-toe around the idea of intellectual property at least give us some idea of what we can and cannot do with media. Better-defined laws seems to be the more prudent issue. More so than writing off intellectual property as a bad idea, the laws created in concurrence with intellectual property tend to be the problem because of their ambiguity.

  4. I agree that there might never be an end to intellectual properties. I think that many things can fall underneath IP. I also think that the copyright and fair use laws can take it a little too far. If these laws were enforced strictly, most if not everyone would be in jail. Most of this is because of the lack of education on the laws, but then again the laws change so frequently it can be hard to keep up, especially in this digital age. Honestly, it is a matter of opinion and a matter of which laws are serius enough to be enforced.

  5. I believe that it is important to have intellectual properties, but when someone contributes their own take on something such as the Barack Obama picture that alters that work so greatly it should be within fair use or we may be seeing Andy Worhol's estate in court soon.

    In the case of delivering media such as music to consumers there should be a way for recording artists and companies to provide a service that makes it worth the consumers money to purchase the song. One major step towards that is downloading songs directly to your mobile device, i.e. phone or ipod touch.

  6. The question was posed: How can we put an end to this "intellectual property"?
    The answer should be: never.
    While it is getting easier and easier to find works (music, books, movies) online, the availability of these works should not take away any creative merit that they might have. Call me the bad guy, but I'm in total support of convicting those who break copyright laws. Take a walk in the artist's shoes. Wouldn't you want to be paid every time someone heard your song that you put blood, sweat, and tears into?
    While it is true that it's easier to copy these days, it is not right to justify the act because of ease.
    As far as fair use goes, I learned in my Media Law class that when asking if a work is in "fair use" you must look at:
    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    Looking at these, I would say that the iTunes case you presented would possibly not be fair use--you're decreasing the market value (#4), using the entire song (#3), sharing it for sheer pleasure (#1--not academic review), and the song is an original work (#2). I think the fair use guidelines are fairly straight forward, and they allow for those who need to use works for scholarly reviews to do so without copyright infringement.

  7. I agree with what everyone else said that intellectual property certainly has its benefits. However, I think given how widespread, almost ubiquitous the sharing of songs and tv files has become, I think both the laws and industry may have to adjust to our realities. I'm not sure what the new business model needs to be for the music industry, though iTunes has certainly been successful for single songs, if not full albums. But too many people still expect their music for free, and I don't know if any laws or harsher restrictions can put a stop to it.

  8. I think on great solution is subscription music services. That is when you play a higher flat rate per month, say 14.99. With that you are able to essentially rent all the music that a service like Rhapsody or Napster has to offer, you license is renewed when you pay the next month. It seems that then you can share and give your music out freely as long as you continue to renew your subscription. The idea the music should be free is just ridiculous. It would cease to be a business. We don't ask people who make cool shirts to give them away for free just because we want them. Music is as real as any product anyone makes. Give the artists their due, and no matter what you think of the record companies, you should be a smart and good enough person to not steal from them.

  9. I definitely agree with Sean, music should not be free and we should uphold the rights of intellectual property. I somewhat agree with your idea of subscription music services BUT how is this money distributed to the artists? If you simply pay a flat rate without regard to whom you will be dowloading the song from I think it still defeats the purpose.

    The artists are losing in today's music frenzy but at the same time music is so much more accessible now. I can get ready in the morning with music playing from cell phone. If anything it's a PR's dreamwish - plenty of exposure.

  10. So what you do guys think about artists like Radiohead, who's late 2007 album In Rainbows was available for download for free for a limited time? Nine Inch Nails had two albums in 2008. There are free downloads of their album the slip. Their other album, The Ghost I-IV, has free download of some tracks; there's little cost to download the full album or get a physical copy, but it's a premium to get the physical copy with extra content. Last year Coldplay went the limited route. For a short time they were giving away a song for free and streaming their entire album for free. Prince beat them all to the punch in the summer of 2007, when he gave away free CDs of his album with a newspaper in the UK.

  11. As far as the music industry goes, I think artists offering their music for free as Keith mentioned may be an action taken by even more groups in the future. With the extent of file sharing, music in many cases is practically free. As a result this is hurting corporations such as Virgin Records and FYE, yet artists are still able to continue thanks to concerts and other promotions. I think it has come to a point where artists are so aware of the extent of music sharing that they have given in by offering their records for free. In the end it may spread their music even further gaining them a larger fan base for touring.

  12. I think we run the risk of sliding down a slippery slope whenever we address the issue of intellectual property. Where IS the line going to be drawn and WHO is going to make that determination. As in a court of law, a precedent will have to be set and that precedent followed sooner or later in the United States. This doesn't even extend to the world where software, video, and audio piracy are running rampant and uncontrolled. An image that sticks out in my mind from several years ago is when the Russian government tried to crack down on pirated software and there were over 4 million CD's being crushed by a bulldozer. This is just information that was CAUGHT and stopped.
    We as a nation will have to define exactly what, where, and how intellectual property is defined, and that definition will have to be "living." That is, able to be modified as new technology comes into common use.

  13. The last few posts regarding IP in the music industry brought to mind an artist by the stage name "Girl Talk". For anyone who doesn't know about this guy, he basically mixes thousands of pre-existing samples of well-established musicians and artists to create his own style. This guy is now making quite a profit.

    Is "Girl Talk" in the wrong in terms of intellectual property? He obviously has a tremendous talent to mix music, but should it be illegal to use others' music to make a profit? Assuming he bought all of the records that he mixes, how is he different from any house DJ (other than the fact that he decided to release public albums for sale)?

    Now this guy has many imitators coming out of the woodwork and he can't do anything about it. I doubt he has any claim to his 'system' or ideas because he is basically a glorified disc jockey. So how can he protect his ideas (if, in fact, he can) and style? I suppose he can't. This is a particularly gray area in the realm of intellectual property and copyright laws.

  14. Will's most recent post on "Girl Talk" particularly interested me, primarily because I am a big fan of his work and would never want to see it being banned. I think he does possess a skill in mixing and his work should be glorified on it's own. Yes, he uses other artist's songs, which I understand can be viewed as wrong. However, he puts his own spin on them, creating something completely new and innovative.

    Additionally, I think that the artist's songs that he is "spinning" are gaining a lot of unintentional advertisement. "Girl Talk" picks a lot of songs from "way-back-when" that many people haven't heard in a long time and get excited when they hear them (albeit, with a different twist). Artists from the 80's and 90's, who songs and careers may have died off, are now being re-recognized and appreciated as a result of Girl Talk's creation. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people then went on to ITunes or such to download that original song, which may not have happened had it not been for Girl Talk's contribution.

    However, this is a certainly a very new take and issue regarding IP and how these rights should be protected/handled. I think it will only continue to get more complicated with time.

  15. There should never be an end to Intellectual property. I mean how would artists and creators survive. If it was not for intellectual property then everyone would have equal rights to sell and distribute anyone's creative expression, which might cause less artistic expression as a whole. Artists and creators might not feel the need or want to create or share their work without the incentive of being able to make a profit off of it, or know that it will always be identified as theirs. I think that derivative works should be allowed if there has been permission granted by the artist, but I do not think that taking someone's expressed idea and claiming it as your own is ok. Since intellectual property laws help to prevent this then I believe that they are in fact necessary, and that the courts should be able to determine when and how much of an expression is ok to be used for derivative works.

  16. I recently saw this article about MGMT suing the French president for using "Kids" at the French national congress in two online videos. UMP admitted using it, said it was a mistake, and offered ONE EURO as a compensation. This is so symbolic of government perception of the music industry and their fight for intellectual property rights. Has this gone too far when the government is offering one Euro in compensation? Here's a link to the interesting article:

  17. I am confident that it will be many decades into the future, if ever, before illegal music downloading is entirely preventable. Rather than dwell on protecting digital artworks the same way other forms of intellectual property have been protected in the past under existing intellectual property protection laws, new laws and standards need to be created.

    To not know that acquiring a song for free, however the method, typically violates intellectual property protection laws, one must have been living under a rock, yet even the most ethical among illegally download songs habitually. Rather than continue to attempt to force consumers to pay to own their music, alternative strategies need to be executed.

    Services like Rhapsody offer the use of their immense music library for a regular fee. Legal alternative to paying for individual songs is becoming increasingly popular.

    As much as I enjoy importing my illegally-possessed music to iTunes, the software should be able to recognize what has been legally acquired, and what is violating intellectual property protection laws.

    There is no question that users are aware of the laws. But even the most law-abiding citizens accept that illegal music acquisition is prevalent to the extent that it can be done guilt-free. New laws need to be created in adapting to new forms of intellectual property, and alternative strategies to encourage listeners to abide by the laws need to be formulated.