I am not a lawyer

A Real Solution to the Piracy Problem

Given that I recently went off on a bit of a rant about Cory Doctorow and his repeated failure to propose a workable solution for the problem of online piracy, I thought I would take a few minutes and suggest a possible solution that I think makes a bit of sense and wouldn't be that hard to institute. It has the benefit of also being a solution that fits with Bono's criticism of piracy that Doctorow used as his jumping off point on Twitter for his usual mindlessly didactic self-repetition.

The fact of the matter is that copyright of certain kinds of intellectual property is complicated. It is particularly complicated for music and with the rise of DVD sales and streaming video on the internet is poised to become much more complicated for visual media as well.

"I lit a cigarette and walked free/beyond the red light of the exit."

The title of this brief essay quotes from Louis Zukofsky's poem "A". It is the couplet early in the poem that hooked me.

I was moved to make this quotation as a means of using the quotation within the fair use doctrine. I found that I had this particular motivation after discovering that Paul Zukofsky had posted a cranky letter of "copyright notice" on the website he runs dedicated to "making money" off his parents' copyrights.

Initially I found the tenor and attitude of the notice to be extremely annoying. First because Paul Zukofsky clearly doesn't understand what copyright is or how it works and that this lack of understanding seems to persist in the face of the extreme simplicity of learning more about the subject. I find such willful ignorance a sort of personal affront as it is contrary to the requirements of a free and open society, a form of civilization that I am very much in favor of and in which I would like to continue to live.

From that point, however, I came to the conclusion that such extreme crankiness must in fact be evidence of something else and I was instead moved to pity for Paul Zukofsky. The tenor of his notice, found here, sounds to me in the voice of someone deeply alienated from humanity, a condition that, were it my own, I would find extremely painful. In the end, "I lit a cigarette and walked free beyond the red light of the exit."

Mr. Zukofsky, if you can find an attorney that is willing file a valid suit against me for this use, which I fully admit is a use contrary to your wishes as expressed in the copyright notice, I will remove the quotation. I do not expect that I shall have to live up to this comment.

I suggest you lighten up a touch and consult with an attorney familiar with US copyright law about what your rights as a copyright owner actually are. Also, your father is an obscure objectivist poet mostly remembered because he was seen as a major influence by the Language poets. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the royalty checks.

Starfuckers Inc.

On the issue of Roman Polanksi:

First off, let me just say that this post is inspired primarily by the gaggle of idiot starfuckers defending Roman Polanski on the usually much more sane Huffington Post. I wouldn't feel so compelled to say something about this if it wasn't becoming quite clear that there is a sizable and perhaps growing constituency of starfuckers in the wider world who are willing to accept all manner of innuendo and half truth in the defense of Polanski. As best I can tell there are three basic arguments that are being advanced to excuse Polanski:

1.) He had a hard life/He's Paid his Debt/The Victim Has Forgiven Him/Time to Move on

2.) He's made some great movies and doesn't that count for something.

and most pernicious of all

3.) The girl lied about her age, her mom put her up to it, didn't you see what she was wearing, she totally was asking for it

I intend to take each argument in turn and demonstrate why it's ridiculous. In so doing, I hope to show that all of this ultimately just boils down to the cancerous crypto-starfuckery that plagues American culture.

The Facts
In 1977, Roman Polanski plied a thirteen year old girl with drugs and alcohol, photographed her in the nude, committed an oral sex act on her without her consent, then repeatedly raped her vaginally and anally. These are the facts entered into evidence by the prosecution against him as can be read in the victim's deposition taken at the time. Smokinggun.com has done the public service of posting the relevant portion of the grand jury testimony as a PDF here.

The Facebook Freakout

So people are freaking out about Facebook thanks to this story on The Consumerist.

I'm curious about it because the whole thing just, well, seems ridiculous. For one thing, I continue to find it baffling that people feel as though they can control works of intellectual property uploaded to sites that are indexable by search engines. One of the reasons I'm still a livejournal user is the fact that I can keep posts there locked and off of google.

Up front I should probably say something that Chris Walters, the blogger and chicken little at The Consumerist who apparently started this panic, didn't say in his article. I am not a lawyer and no expert on intellectual property rights. I did however study intellectual property rights and have about as much knowledge of the byzantine nonsense that is US copyright law as any layman can claim to have. I also, apparently, have a greater level of reading comprehension than Mr. Chicken Little Walters and the various other barnyard animals who have been parroting his "OMG DUDES FACEBOOK PWNS ALL YR STUFF NOW" conclusion in the above blog post.

Of particular importance is the part of the Facebook TOS that the sensationalist boobs at The Consumerist failed to read completely. Below you will find the entire relevant section of the TOS quoted in full, emphasis mine: