Revolution Lullabye

June 8, 2009

Logie, Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion

Logie, John. Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2006.

Logie addresses through rhetorical historicism five terms used to describe sharing in the peer-to-peer debates (hacking, theft, piracy, sharing, and war), arguing that in order to understand the basis of the arguments on both sides of the debate, we must throughly investigate the language through which those arguments are being made. He believes that current copyright restrictions, including DMCA and the TEACH Act, are limiting the potential of people to create new culture and ideas. Logie argues that the composition classroom, where students are taught about the social nature of composition, plagiarism, individual authorship, and intellectual property, is an important place to talk with students about the rhetoric, language, and arguments behind these debates and to teach them how they might argue for a copyright law that allows for the creative potential the Internet promises.

Quotable Quotes

“And while the stakes of intellectual property debates ultimately devolve to who gets paid how much and when, the mechanism for assuring fair compensation—a limited monopoly right—has profound consequences for the circulation and availability of cultural artifacts.”(8)

“Digital media offer opportunities to efficiently archive and access the bulk of artistic and intellectual work created since the dawn of humanity.

This is not an overstatement. The potential intellectual and social utility of these now-hypothetical archives is staggering. Our challenge is to engage in a principled argument about how best to achieve this goal. ” (21)

“[RIAA and other big media corporations] had persuaded most Americans that the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet—whatever the context and purpose—was illegal. This victory was achieved in large part because of the successful rhetorical strategies of the content industries. And once these industries had persuaded Americans that downloading was criminal, the logical next step was to ensure that it was perceived as

violent crime.” (66)

“The past decade’s major legislative amendments to copyright—in particular the Copyright Term Extension Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the No Electronic Theft Act, and the TEACH Act—collectively constitute a disastrous appropriation of rights, privileges, and opportunities formerly understood to belong to the public at large. At the very moment that the most powerful cultural tool in human history—the networked personal computer—has become both widely available and largely affordable, the U.S. is busily drafting laws that reinforce a copyright model optimized long ago for the circulation of print-based media.” (141)

Notable Notes

how ethos and pathos play into both sides of the debate, Burkean identification

no statistical significance on the economic effect of P2P sharing on record companies…Napster failed to show how most of its activity was not the theft of protected commercial property, but rather sharing of free culture for the public good

piracy = theft by force, kidnapping, murdering, violence

Napster, P2P file sharers aren’t targetted for downloading but for uploading – for distribution

sound quality of MP3 and CD – two different purposes

limits ability of cut and pasting with purchased Adobe e-books

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Lessig, Free Culture

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. The Penguin Press, 2004.

Lessig argues that current copyright law, coupled with digital technologies that allow big media corporations to regulate how their copyrighted content is used, is quickly eroding the public commons and our national tradition of a free culture. He uses an anecdotal, qualitative approach in this book intended for a general public audience, centering his argument on how piracy and property are defined and argued about. He focuses on peer-to-peer file sharing, showing that only a percentage of the P2P sharing that occurs actually is copyright infringement. Lessig argues that copyright law must adapt to the new technology of the Internet and be reduced in term and scope. He has lobbied (unsuccessfully) for the adoption of the Eldred Act, an act that does not change the long length of copyright protection given in the Sonny Bono Copyright Act of 1998, but does require copyright holders to register and pay a nominal $1 fee to renew their copyright. Lessig argues that copyright law with more formalities (digital registration and renewal), required renewal periods, a reduced term and scope for derivative protection, and a regulated compensation system to pay artists through P2P sharing is a copyright law that will restore the balance between protection and freedom, a balance that has been lost. He also advocates for authors and other creators of IP material to choose to protect their work under a Creative Commons license, a license that allows creators to extend the fair use of their work by others.

Quotable Quotes

“the future will be controlled by this dead (and often unfindable) hand of the past” – the problem with long copyright terms with uncertain owners, no one wants to risk expensive litigation.

“That while the Internet has indeed produced something fantastic and new, our government, pushed by big media to respond to this ‘something new,’ is destroying something very old” (13) – the tradition of free culture, copyright law and balance

“Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less” (30).

Notable Notes

importance of balance

allow for copyright protection for works that have commercial value. Since most of the works that are currently covered do not have value, free them up for cultural use

we need to teach our students to be producers of culture, not just consumers – this is hard in an increasingly copyrighted American world

copying – a central theme of both copyright and plagiairsm

corporations are using their political power to change copyright law in order to stifle Internet-based creativity, which will democratize the creative process and competition

43 million Americans do P2P sharing. Are they all criminals? The four different kinds of piracy, of P2P file sharing. HOw can it be good?

anticircumvention provisions of DMCA is restricting how we use content and be creative

May 25, 2009

Kiebowitz and Margolis, Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright

Kiebowitz, Stan J. and Stephen Margolis. “Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright: The Role of Theory, Empirics, and Network Effects.” Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 18 (Spring 2005): 435.

Kiebowitz and Margolis point out the assumptions and weaknesses in the brief 17 notable economists wrote collaboratively to support the Supreme Court case Eldred v. Ashcroft, which challenged the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998. The Court overturned the challenge, and the authors argue that the economists’ argument did not have any hard data to back it up and it did not offer a complete understanding of the purposes of copyright. Copyright is not merely exclusion; it is ownership, and ownership (through copyright) helps regulate production and prevents some of the negative impact of network effects. It isn’t just the copyright owner vs. the public commons good; copyright is more about protection (for the public good) than about exclusions.

Quotable Quotes

“Open access is not a universally preferrable way to manage a resource” (448).

“The copyright owner’s role is similar to the private owner of a natural resource that can be subject to crowding. In both cases, the owner tries to prevent dissipation of value through misuse of an asset. A rational owner would approve derivative projects that maximize his or her profits. Copyright policy must balance beneficial restrictions that constitute stewardship over resources against standard monopoly losses” (449) – then argues for the benefit of allowing paradoies, critiques

“copyright protects expression, not ideas” (449)

“A more complete view requires consideration of the responsiveness of creative efforts to marginal incentives and the function of onwership of intellectual property beyond the incentive to create” (449).

Notable Notes

only a small % of books, movies made from 1920s-1930s have current market value – the law doesn’t affect that many of them

the brief argued two things: 1. copyright extension doesn’t make economic sense, since the authors weren’t not creating because they didn’t have a super-long copyright protection 2. extra incentive has little real effect on the authors (*focused on the economic effect with royalties, not other effects) but imposes new and more restrictions and costs on new authors

the law – 70 years after death, 75-95 years for institutional authors, applied retroactively

May 18, 2009

Rife, “Fair Use,” Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher

Rife, Martine Courant. “‘Fair Use,’ Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 145-156.

Rife argues that students and educators need to study fair use within copyright law, because, as she shows by explaining the five Supreme Court cases that deal with fair use, even the court rulings are vague on what exactly is protected under fair use. Fair use allowances have increasingly been restricted so that now you can be in copyright infringment for the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials, not just for making a profit off of them (like selling your term paper.) Rife advocates for composition teachers to be proactive instead of living in fear, leading campaigns to rewrite university guidelines about fair use if they don’t agree with them instead of quietly subverting them.

Notable Notes

overview of fair use US Supreme Court and lower court case (including MGM v. Grokster (2005) and Kinkos case)

court decisions are often based on market impact – public good takes a backseat

copyright protection is automatic and includes four rights: the right to reproduce, publically display, perform, and prepare derivative work. Creative Commons licenses allows authors to opt out of some of those rights.

Lessig: we overrely on fair use to authorize unauthorized use. Instead, change the law from automatic full copyright protection

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