If you stopped by Lines and Colors yesterday, January 18, you may have noticed that Lines and Colors had gone dark, along with a significant number of other sites, in protest, and to raise awareness of the “anti-piracy” internet censorship bills looming in the U.S. Congress.
If you didn’t happen to stop by yesterday, but would like to know more about why it matters, what I had to say about the issue, and why the continued existence of Lines and Colors and websites like it hinges on the defeat of these bills, here is the page that was up in place of the site yesterday.
The effort to raise awareness of this issue across the web has apparently begun to have an effect, as a number of legislators have withdrawn their support for the bills, at least in their current form. But the fight is far from over; the hugely powerful and influential lobbies that represent the entertainment industry will not slink quietly away and call it a day; they will continue to pressure congress to give them the kind of extraordinary and frightening control over internet content that these bills provide.
Those in other countries may feel this doesn’t affect them (it will if hundreds or thousands of websites go dark at the whim of the big corporations), or you may feel frustrated that you can’t affect it directly. Right now, the spread of information and awareness is important, and those of you in Europe and elsewhere will soon enough have your own fight on your hands over similar legislation that these companies are trying to force into law around the world.
Those in the U.S. can directly affect the immediate danger of these bills passing by calling or writing your U.S. senators and representatives and urging them to reject the bills. Here is a site called Stop American Censorship that has more information on how easy it is to do that.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that if these bills pass, Lines and Colors, and significant other portions of the web, will cease to exist.
Stop American Censorship, site - info on how U.S. citizens can help prevent this from happening
20 Replies to “Stop PIPA and SOPA”
Yes, saw your dark post here first and Google Blog then followed links and joined fight against those bills passing.
Just saw our local LA news and our two California Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer apparently SUPPORT THE PASSING of the bill.
My wife saw on the news that our local politician (FL, Rubio), although one of the sponsers of the bill, will now vote against it because of all the hub bub. He says that is the way it is supposed to work.
Thanks for your blog. I visit it daily.
Good to know. Thanks.
In regards to piracy, copyrights, etc… and Lines and colors, Gurney Journey, Muddy colors, and similar web sites. How are you able to show so many art images without stepping on someones copyright? Thats one of the things I don’t understand. I’m not complaining… the work you guys are doing is wonderful and much appreciated…
For Ref see this recent blog I commented on copyright:
To me it seems like it’s very much a balancing act between informing/educating people of past and current art. Allowing some copyright infringement to exist if it can help an artist, but also stopping infringement or pulling posts if they cross a legal/or questionable line. It also seems to me that in the internet age… its us, the reader, the blogger who have to have the integrity/respect for others work to police ourselves on what works we show, otherwise PIPA and SOPA will come to pass.
As always Thanks so much for Lines and Colors. Cheers Mike.
Thanks, Mike, that’s a good topic to raise.
In reference to the post you cite, I have to agree that Google’s project goes too far, and that posting of entire books that are not in the public domain without the author’s permission is infringement (however, there are ways to handle infringement short of ceding control of internet content to a few large corporations, or even governments). I agree with the comments by Arnie Fenner and John Fleskes.
I’m a content creator myself, with a comic both on the web and in print, a book of Dinosaur Cartoons, three iPhone apps and related merchandise, so I am certainly not unsympathetic to the issue of protecting copyrights.
However, these bills are not really about that, the fantasized “lost revenue” that the corporations like to bandy about (based on false assumptions) is really an excuse for an unprecedented power grab by these companies.
In regard to the art reproduced on Lines and Colors: much of it is covered under the “Fair Use” clause in the U.S. copyright law, which allows for reproduction without permission of small extracts of copyrighted works for the purpose of scholarly work, review and criticism.
Quoting from the U.S. Copyright Office website:
The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”
There is also an article on the Fair Use clause on WIkipedia.
My posts come under the heading of review and criticism.
That being said, when posting the work of a contemporary artist, I always contact them (provided I can find contact information), inform them of the post, and ask them to let me know if there is any problem with my use of the images. (I tried contacting them beforehand and trying to describe the post, but that proved ungainly and unworkable.)
I don’t really need to do this given the Fair Use clause, but the provisions of that clause are vague (as they have to be), and more importantly, I like to respect the wishes of the artists I write about. I will always offer to remove a post if an artist has any objection. So far this has not happened. Though some have questioned my “after the post” contact, rather than prior to the post request for permission; they have been amenable after I explain the above factors to them.
Many of the works are in the “public domain”: older than the artist’s death +70 years, at which point copyright expires. It used to be 50 years, but the law was rewritten just as Mickey Mouse was about to slip into the public domain, in another example of how these companies write our laws. It will undoubtedly be rewritten to extend it again just before Disney’s death + 70 years is up. (Disney certainly profited from works they lifted from the public domain, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book.)
The assumption by many is that public domain effectively stopped at that point, and nothing new will ever again be added.
One of the frightening things about these bills is that the concept of Fair Use, and to some extent, even Public Domain, are rendered effectively pointless, as the laws allow punitive action to be taken on the basis of accusation, without any burden of proof. They effectively gut the legal concepts of Due Process and Presumed Innocence that have been fundamental principles of the American legal system for over 200 years.
Thanks for clarifying things Charlie…
Mickey Mouse is an interesting example. I think I side on the extending the copyright to Disney. The reason is, and correct me if I’m wrong, that once Mickey goes public domain, doesn’t that allow anyone to do with Mickey as they please? And wouldn’t that in someway destroy Mickey Mouse?
Do you know of any high profile characters that have entered the public domain and what happened to them? My brain is drawing blank at the moment.
The founding fathers of the US felt that proprietary intellectual property was a form of monopoly, and tried to establish limits. The idea is that Walt Disney, as the creator of the property, got to profit from it for his lifetime, and his heirs got to ride his intellectual coattails for another 50 (now 70) years. The idea of public domain is that he and they have had their shot, and now its our (the public’s) turn to own the character.
The people making money off of Mickey Mouse currently did not create the property, and, for the most part, they are not members of Disney’s family.
Aside from the characters I mentioned above, that are all in the public domain and which the company has also been profiting from, the first one that comes to mind is Robin Hood. The fact that the character is in the public domain means it is now open to interpretation by multiple artists, writers and filmmakers.
Disney would certainly not be prohibited from continuing to use Mickey Mouse if the character moved into the public domain, they would instead be placed in the position of having to make the best version of the character, instead of the only version.
Musicians and filmmakers are being decimated by online piracy and Google is making billions off of it via advertising on pirate sites. Uploaders make money, $35/1000 downloads. Everyone in the chain makes money or gets something for nothing except the creative artists who did the work who are now expected to continue to produce recordings and films that cost more than they make back. Symphony orchestras are suspending putting out recordings. Major artists are holding back recordings.
The freeloader phenomenon occurs even in bacteria. too many freeloaders will destroy an entire community and the creative community is being decimated, just like the rainforests. SOPA is a good first step, but only a first step.
If you want to understand more about this, go here:
It appalls me that liberals, who should know better, are opposed to SOPA. Artists have always been a force for progress, yet now liberals throw artists under the bus. You have no idea how badly we need SOPA.
Over the past 10 years, the number of professional musicians has declined exactly proportionately to the expansion of piracy and broadband penetration. There are only 30,000 musicians now able to make a living left in the world. This qualifies as an endangered species.
People seem to think that since they CAN steal music, they should have a RIGHT to. Will they walk into markets next and steal food? Should artists be enslaved by those who refuse to pay for their labor and genius?
Thank you for your comment, but as a content provider and intellectual property holder myself (comics, books, iPhone apps and merchandise) I have to disagree strongly with your assessment.
SOPA and PIPA are not really about stopping internet piracy, and actually will do little to effectively accomplish that.
The media companies’ trumped up fantasy figures of all the money supposedly lost have nothing to do with reality — they’re based on the absurd assumption that if piracy was somehow stopped, those who download content (most of which is consumed by a small but greedy minority of downloaders) would suddenly have the resources and desire to buy all of that content. The reality is they would simply do without, and sales would not follow the dramatic curve upward that media moguls see in their dreams.
“Piracy” in this instance is not really the issue (and from the companies point of view it’s certainly not about more money for the artists, are you mad?). This is about power and control. The big media companies for decades have been used to controlling the flow of information and entertainment. The internet breaks that control, and they find that intolerable.
In the process they are throwing enormous amounts of money at legislators in an astonishing power grab that subverts the fundamental principles of American law (due process, innocent until proven guilty, etc.), and if they get their way, will undermine the technical foundation of the internet itself.
Artists and small publishers who think that PIPA and SOPA are somehow in their interests are, at best, misinformed about the nature of the bills, at worst, deluded. If these measures pass, the next step will be another push to eliminate “Net Neutrality” and allow the big companies to pay to have their content given priority in internet transmission, leaving the small websites of artists, independent publishers and small music labels to languish until they are effectively unusable.
Wake up, this has absolutely nothing to do with protecting individual artists’ rights or incomes.
This is about granting and elite cadre of powerful and influential companies (as well as governments) the power to control and throttle the flow of information across the internet.
Here’s a case that, rightly or wrongly, I don’t claim to know the details, is being handled with existing laws, without granting the media industry the abusive power of PIPA and SOPA to control the internet outright.
I am living in Germany. So there is little for me to do to help you over there.
But please don´t stop fighting. I am relying heavily on the internet and it´s opportunities. This is an outrage and all friends of mine are thinking the same.
Charley, thank you for your extensive and critical overview of these two bills, their intentions, and possible impact on sites such as your own. Not living in the U.S. either, I am a bit confused. Here we are presented with two bills, who`s purpose ( so we are led to believe ) and intention is to protect the copyright of ( artists ) work, yet at the same time, I have been aware of the ‘ Orphaned Works Bill ‘, which quite clearly aims to limit claims of copyright infringement, based on some genuine attempt to contact the copyright owner.
As an artist who`s work is produced in the U.S. I am naturally alarmed by the Orphan Bill, but am perplexed at this new development.
Please keep us informed to progress, for good or ill, but lets hope some rational and fairly considered outcome lies at the end.
Mickey pt 2. Ok I see where the Mickey deal is going. So basically Mickey has been denied the opportunity to be reinterpreted like Disney did with Snow White, Cinderella, and Robin Hood.
Tough one Charlie. I understand the benefit to allow public domain, but I can understand the desire for a family, company to hold on to their icon. Mickey is very much a poster child of Disney Inc. I think from a marketing/corporate point of view I would fight tooth and nail to protect that image…
I wonder how our founding Fathers would deal with these issues today if they new how much the published/creative world has changed…
Hmmm…. maybe time to consult one of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouija
Charlie, with all due respect, my husband is a well-known musician. After a couple of hit records, the record company we were with grew, shall we say, overly fond of holding onto our royalties, so we started our own company. After fierce legal battles, they finally settled and we got to go free. Our company did very well for nearly a decade, until the piracy hit. We have first hand experience of how devastating it is to have not just record companies taking the food out of your mouth, but your supposed fans. So, no, I am not crazy and yes, I do mean more money for the artists.
The great diversity in music comes from independent musicians, many of whom publish their work independently, using indie distribution. At this point, young artists have little chance and we are losing a whole generation of musicians.
Everything I said is absolutely based on first hand experience, so your refutation is sadly at variance with our musicians’ reality. I urge you to spend some time with known musicians and ask them what they think.
By the way, have you read the bill?
Thank you for your comments, and for adding your personal experience to this discussion.
I have to say, however, that I have apparently not made my position clear, because you have misunderstood me.
I do not doubt or refute the damage that is being done to intellectual property holders by the realities of digital content. The fact is that we now live in the digital age, and there is no going back (as much as the entertainment industry would like to turn back the clock). It’s easy to copy digital material exactly, it’s easy to distribute it over the internet.
As I’ve pointed out, I’m a content creator and intellectual property holder myself. My sympathies lie with you, your husband and other musicians, filmmakers and artists, in the desire for a reasonable means of preventing unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works in a way that would ensure a fair return on the artist’s efforts.
My point, however, it that these bills are not a solution to that problem.
Yes, I have read both bills, though I have not made the effort to parse them in the way a lawyer would. Others have, however, and have shared their findings with us.
You can read the Senate bill, The Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) here (PDF), and the House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) here (PDF). (They are double spaced and large type, so not a long as they seem).
Among those who have legally parsed the bills and made their concerns available are:
The Center for Democracy and Technology on SOPA’s problems and implications (PDF), response to the MPAA and letter to the US Senate over concerns about PIPA
Electronic Frontier Foundation on PIPA and SOPA, with links to other resources, and an article about how the bills threaten free speech
C/Net on PIPA
Fight For the Future on how PIPA/SOPA threaten the technological underpinnings of the internet
OpenCongress on PIPA and SOPA
A few quotes from industry leaders opposed to the bills
The bills are soft pedaled amid a lot of verbiage meant to make them sound as though there are lots of provisions preventing abuse, but it is the underlying principles, and the frightening implications that arise when you project them forward, that are the real concern. In some ways, it’s what’s not there that is as important or more important than what is there.
There is no burden on the infringement accuser to provide proof in a court of law that infringement has occurred.
There is no burden on the govenment agency enacting the penalties to provide proof in a court of law that infringement has occurred.
There is no provision for separating out websites on the basis of the amount of “infringing material” or any actual intention to provide infinging content.
There is no provision for separating out contributors to a site from the owners of the site in terms of blacklisting or confiscation.
There is no apparent check on the ability of the government agency, or those bringing the complaint of infringement, in compiling a blacklist of sites to be blocked
I will state it again: the real purpose of these bills is not to protect intellectual property, (certainly not the intellectual property of individual creators or independent labels) — that is the charade under which they are being sold to congress and the public.
PIPA and SOPA are about granting the government and a small group of very powerful companies the ability to control the flow of information and entertainment across the internet.
I understand your frustration in dealing with the realities of digital duplication and distribution of content, but these bills will not help you. If you and other musicians and artists allow these companies to convince you that bills like PIPA and SOPA are somehow acting in your favor, you are being duped.
Think about it. These bills are sponsored by the same kinds of companies that already cheated your husband out of his royalties, if you grant them this kind of extraordinary power, do you really think for one minute – for one second – that they will use that power for your advantage? Why would they? Do you think a large government agency would respond to your request about infringement with the same attention they would give to Warner Brothers or Sony?
Another factor that is not being discussed in conjunction with these bills, but should be, is the concept of Net Neutrality. Many of the same companies launched a sponsored and lobbied legislative assault against Net Neutrality a few years ago, accompanied by an advertising campaign aimed at obfuscating the issue and confusing the public into accepting their wishes.
Here is the Save The Internet FAQ on Net Neutrality.
Basically, this would allow big companies to pay to have their content given preference in internet data transmission, something that is now uniform, or “neutral”. So if they succeed in passing PIPA and SOPA, I promise you Net Neutrality will be under assault again; and they want an internet in which their content is given preference and your content is slowed down, deferred, or has to “wait”, while their content goes through.
How long do you think your ability to exist as an independent label would continue without the ability to effectively connect with your husband’s fans by the internet?
Do you think big record labels, given this kind of power, would tolerate conditions in which competing independent labels could thrive, or even exist?
I’m sorry that neither I nor anyone I know of at the moment has an immediate solution to the problems presented to artists, musicians and small content creators by the realities of digital duplication and distribution of content.
But I promise you, SOPA and PIPA are not that solution, and will in the long run be very very bad for you (and basically everyone else except the few giant entertainment and media companies who are pushing the legislation).
Charlie: These items you said jumped out at me:
“There is no burden on the infringement accuser to provide proof in a court of law that infringement has occurred.
There is no burden on the govenment agency enacting the penalties to provide proof in a court of law that infringement has occurred.
There is no provision for separating out websites on the basis of the amount of “infringing material” or any actual intention to provide infinging content.”
When you have 40,000 websites providing the sweat of your brow illegally for free and each one has different requirements for you to ask them to pull it down so it can’t be automated and you have to write, copy, scan, or precisely provide them with the infringing page, and or uploader or they reject your request, and they are paying people to put it right back up within hours of takedown if you are successful in taking it down, and you then are required to find and sue tens of thousands of people for uploading your copyrighted material, and you have to hire attorneys to root out who the hell each one of the tens of thousands of pirates is and then try to sue them if you have the money to hire that attorney and then it turns out that they are out of the country… Apparently, you have never had a problem with this or you might see it differently. This is a criminal matter and should be handled efficiently by the state. No individual can come even close to trying to stop it. The pirates have made sure of that. And our laws are far too weak to do anything at all about it.
We did far better economically before the internet became such a big player in media. Independent distribution and stores still existed and those people were honest.
The internet makes many things better but this it makes much worse.
New developments in internet tech are moving us toward a much faster and broader internet so I wouldn’t worry too much about all that paranoid and hyperbolic crap.
If there were a way that, each time one of our music files is transferred from one computer to another illegally, we made a small amount of money taken from the thieves’ ISP bill, then it would be fine. But we must get paid or culture will die.
This poem for free:
We must get paid or culture will die
We must get paid or culture will die
We must get paid or culture will die
We must get paid or culture will die
I’m immensely saddened when I see independent creators and small publishers being duped by the bullshit propaganda spread by the entertainment conglomerates into thinking bills like SOPA and PIPA will somehow benefit them.
I can only ascribe it to willful blindness brought on by desperation.
You must accept that you live in the digital age and the rules have changed. You have to learn how to thrive in the new environment or you will perish. Study the success of those who have learned not only to survive in the digital world, but to use it to their advantage.
Wishful thinking will not help you.
Granting immense power to these companies by allowing these bills to pass will not help you.
They will certainly not help you.
Unless you are being directly useful to them in some way, you will be collateral damage in their war on the internet, freedom of speech, due process and presumed innocence.
Independent artists, musicians, writers, publishers? In the course of this power grab, and the next one and the next one and the next one, if the big entertainment and media companies are allowed to advance their agenda, they will step on you like a bug and not even pause to scrape you off their shoe.
For God’s sake, wake up!
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