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Wired Interview with Copyright Comic Authors

timothy posted about 8 years ago | from the didja-always-want-to-be-a-comedian? dept.

31

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an interesting interview with the authors of a recent book about comics, fair use and the permissions culture. There is also a gallery of some of the most interesting pages from the comic. According to the interview, their next project is going to be on the history of musical borrowing and the way law has affected it. 'Picture a conversation between Bach, Robert Johnson and John Lennon, in comic book form.' Now *that* would be 'Strange Fruit,' indeed."

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31 comments

Oh, what the hell... (-1, Offtopic)

Khaed (544779) | about 8 years ago | (#15564817)

First. I think.

Re:Oh, what the hell... (-1, Offtopic)

KenAndCorey (581410) | about 8 years ago | (#15564842)

Second, I write.

Re:Oh, what the hell... (0, Offtopic)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15564910)

> Second, I write.

"Third, he wrotte [slashdot.org] !"

Previous postter's comments reproduced in the spiritt of fair use, and exemptted from copyrightt prottection under the parody excepttion.

Re:Oh, what the hell... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15564852)

Yeah, I knew I'd get moderated down. That was fuck all fast, too. Go moderator.

It was worth it. My karma will survive.

Timothy is a strange fruit too (-1, Offtopic)

stratjakt (596332) | about 8 years ago | (#15564833)

Is this as lame as that EFF flash cartoon you guys had yesterday?

Strange Comparison (4, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 8 years ago | (#15564905)

"'Picture a conversation between Bach, Robert Johnson and John Lennon, in comic book form.' Now *that* would be 'Strange Fruit,' indeed."

I doubt that Bach and Lennon would lynch Johnson, though lynching Black Americans is what "Strange Fruit" is about [pbs.org] .

Strange Fruit (3, Informative)

Quirk (36086) | about 8 years ago | (#15564956)

For those who don't know..." "Strange Fruit" [wikipedia.org] is a song most famously performed by Billie Holiday that condemns American racism, particularly the practice of lynching and burning African Americans that was prevalent in the South at the time when it was written.

Holiday's phrasing was so unique that every song is a treat, but 'Strange Fruit' was, perhaps, the song for which she is best known.

It was so much simpler (2, Funny)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 8 years ago | (#15564959)

if they would just stick to "don't copy that floppy".

Eeeveryone would be happy and no-one would get hurt.

Re:It was so much simpler (2, Funny)

blew_fantom (809889) | about 8 years ago | (#15565560)

omg. i can't believe i actually know what you are referring too. yikes. hahahaha.

Re:It was so much simpler (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15566835)

yes no one has ever heard of this video on the internet

Sure Beats... (5, Funny)

-Brodalco- (938695) | about 8 years ago | (#15564967)

..Captain Copyright, that canadian government produced comic about the importance of obeying copyright rules. Why is it the governments are always so bad at creating effective propaganda?

Re:Sure Beats... (3, Informative)

mboos (700155) | about 8 years ago | (#15565133)

Not so... the site is from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, which is an organization of Canadian writers and publishers, not the government.

Re:Sure Beats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15565436)

Because when propaganda is effective, you don't realize it is propaganda.

Re:Sure Beats... (1)

peterfa (941523) | about 8 years ago | (#15566065)

The .aspx extensions on their pages showed me that they were running .NET, most likely on a Windows server (mono is a Linux port). I reported them to M$-UK so that they do an investigation. Those bastards had better not be disrespecting copy-right law. Bill Gates needs to keep shoes on his little children.

Irony (3, Informative)

payndz (589033) | about 8 years ago | (#15564990)

I kind of like the irony that the central character in the strip - Akiko - looks an awful lot like Hopey from Jaime Hernandez's 'Love & Rockets'. Is this a job for Captain Copyright?

The comic does make a good point, though. The copyright laws (worldwide, not just in the US) are seriously fucked up if corporations are demanding thousands of dollars just because somebody's movie-theme ringtone can be heard in the background of a documentary.

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

phaggood (690955) | about 8 years ago | (#15565600)

> Akiko and Strange Fruit

Wow, I came to click "reply" on the weak attempt at humor at the expense of this desparate song, then I see the comment on Akiko and thought the author meant this [markcrilley.com] AKiko, and while catching up on Crilly's newest stuff, Billie Holiday comes out of my iPod with the song.

All while I'm supposed to be working. The net is a 900 foot tall vampire what feeds on productivity.

Ooh, I wonder what Wikipedia has on "giant vampires"....

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15567636)

yes, you ARe absolutely right, I think I shall fire an email to Fantagraphics and to the Bros hernandez themselves. They MUST be made aware of this. Oh the irony!

So... (3, Informative)

Kamineko (851857) | about 8 years ago | (#15565366)

Is it illegal for Slashdot to mention the names of the authors or the title of the book?

The book is called 'Bound By Law? Tales From the Public Domain', and it is co-written and produced by Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins. The art is by Aoki.

Even most artists don't benefit from copyright law (4, Interesting)

siriuskase (679431) | about 8 years ago | (#15565418)

That is the point that must be driven into the heads of the don't know/don't care people. The various industries that benefit from the long copyrights are very good at invoking the welfare of the artists, the actual creators of IP, even though most artists can't live off the royalties. Live performance is the only way to make a living for most of those who can make a living off their creations. All the money gets eaten up by the starmaking machinery behind the popular song, film, and book.

If you didn't see Courtney Love does the Math [jdray.com] in the Weird Al thread, please read it. it is a rather intelligent rant from the artist POV.

A shallow understanding of copyright law would make it seem that artists and their fans would be on opposite sides of this issue. But, except for a few who have retired on their royalty checks and no longer need to create or perform, that isn't the case. It is fans and artists vs the distribution industry. As soon as everyone understands that it is artists who should get paid for creating and while the distributors should get paid for distributing, and royalties should only be an incentive to artists as originally intended, then maybe our culture will belong to us and not locked up in private hands. Once an artist goes public with his work, then it is no longer private property. The copyright is simply a reward for contributing to the public forum. Wasn't that the original intent of the US short copyright?

Re:Even most artists don't benefit from copyright (2)

apflwr3 (974301) | about 8 years ago | (#15565625)

Creators do benefit from copyright, actually. When the laws were enacted way back when it was common practice to reprint author's works without permission or compensation. Often the original author's name would be be removed entirely, or abridged to the point where the original meaning was ruined. The laws today continue to protect creators from seeing their works misapproriated-- and it's pretty much the only power a creator has to protect himself.

I'm not saying copyright law isn't broken in many ways, and that public domain shouldn't come much sooner (if anything, there should be a differentiation between copyrights held by an individual and a corporation), but at the same time it does serve its original intent in protecting, say, the author who doesn't want Uwe Boll to turn his book into a hack movie, or a band who doesn't want Nike to use their song to sell shoes.

Re:Even most artists don't benefit from copyright (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15566807)

Often the original author's name would be be removed entirely, or abridged to the point where the original meaning was ruined.
Check out the (C) Copyright liner on a major label CD, it doesn't say (C) Copyight Artist/Band but (C) Copyright Label because they don't own their own songs anymore.
The laws today continue to protect creators from seeing their works misapproriated-- and it's pretty much the only power a creator has to protect himself.
That power is meaningless because it can be ripped off from the authors through market power: You either cede it to the publisher or you won't get published.
Maybe we need a different sort of law, one that is more useful for honoring the artist's attribution and the work's commercial exploitation than the current one which is more useful at sueing 12-year olds.

Re:Even most artists don't benefit from copyright (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15566896)

Check out the (C) Copyright liner on a major label CD, it doesn't say (C) Copyight Artist/Band but (C) Copyright Label because they don't own their own songs anymore.

Those bands didn't have to sign their rights away. There are plenty of musicians who self-publish or work with smaller labels where they can retain control.

That power is meaningless because it can be ripped off from the authors through market power: You either cede it to the publisher or you won't get published.

If you're talking about books, you're wrong. Publishing is nothing like the music or television industry. The rights almost always revert to the creator after the term of the contract.

If you're talking about, well, everyone who publishes anything, it's no secret that people get fucked over in their deals all the time. That doesn't have anything to do with copyright law.

Re:Even most artists don't benefit from copyright (1)

siriuskase (679431) | about 8 years ago | (#15568157)

You make a good point in that the contracts in some industries are more exploitive than in others. This problem might be eliminated by making new acts less eager to sign anything handed to them, but it could also be fixed by making copyrights nonsellable assets. The talent itself is nontransferable, why should the copyright? It isn't much of an incentive to create if it is owned by someone without the necessary talent or if the original creator has died. Sure, a collection of copyrights might make a nice legacy for the kids, but artists can do what everyone else does, buy traditional financial assets such as mutual funds.

Intent was performance (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 8 years ago | (#15566362)

You're absolutely right about the intent. It was the intent of the framers of the Constitution that an artist would not be able to live their entire life on one work.

That is, unless they lived less than 17 years.

It was an incentive to continue to perform -- not an incentive to sit back and collect.

Re:Intent was performance (2, Insightful)

siriuskase (679431) | about 8 years ago | (#15566507)

The problem with creative property (ugh, but it does sound better than IP) is that without some sort of law, it can't be owned outright like material property. The minute it is shown, displayed, or performed in public, it is out of the bag. In the olden days, it meant other people could write it down, sing it, or otherwise reproduce it with there own hands which usually didn't make as good of a copy, certainly not an accurate copy. Now that virtually identical copies can be made for little cost, natural ownership is all but impossible unless it is shown/performed in a closed room with all witnesses signing enforcable nondisclosure contracts.

So we have a law, that gives the owner complete control over his creation as long as everyone abides by the law. But, it is an unreasonable law, at least to those who want to create new creations that build on existing creations, which happens to be the way creative work has almost always been done. Visual artists, musicians, and writers have always had role models, teachers, and their work to inspire them to create something new, but usually retaining something of the masters' work. Too many people think it is ridiculus to look back to the previous centuries for all inspiration. This is the point of the original article, that recent culture is owned and can't be discussed or interpretted or used without the owner's permission.

Sure, someone might not want their work used to sell commercial products, but I don't think that is the problem. The problem is that new work gets this permission automatically whether or not the creator registers his copyright. The potential user is in a risky position when he wants to make fair use because the owner or his agents might demand payment or some other condition that he won't be able to live with. And the only way to know for sure is to refuse to settle, go to court, and all that other stuff that we really don't want our young artists to do. To a large extent, once a work has gone public and become part of our culture, it really isn't the personal property of the creator any longer.

Other people, consumers, have a different problem with the IP laws as they exist. It is so easy to make copies, it is difficult to comprehend exactly what it is the music and film industry are for. Developing new talent, packaging the disks, financing artists that might not ever make enough money to finance themselves. Sure, there is some risk there, but new distribution methods where artists can set up a relatively inexpensive website with a tip jar or something are available and real fans don't mind sending money directly to creators. There is a level of trust involved that old business models don't have, there are no guarantees that people will get paid. So, I don't think we are there yet, but the old business model is clearly broken.

We are heading back to a business model for creatives that pays people for doing something more than for owning something. The rest of the industry will also make money by doing something tangible, by making CDs, DVDs, packaging, organizing tours, designing webpages, etc. There is a lot of real work to do, stuff where the laws are more clearcut and enforcable.

Copyright articles are boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15565527)

YAWN.

Oww, my eyes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15565817)

Why is the comic so small? By the end of it you can't read the damn thing.

To Be Fair And Balanced... (2, Informative)

leoxx (992) | about 8 years ago | (#15566171)

You should publish a link to Captain Copyright! [captaincopyright.ca] Of course, you definitely don't want to link to the blog of the guy who exposed the various copyright infringements that Captain Copyright was partaking in [sooke.bc.ca] , or the EFF's DRM counter force: The Corruptables [eff.org] !

Even more fun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15567163)

Play with Captain Copyright's friendly hacker defense system [captaincopyright.ca] and use it to send him silly messages! :-)
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