Neil Gaiman expounds quite clearly on why even “icky” speech needs to be protected. This is in response to a comment regarding the Handley case, where a Manga collector is being prosecuted for owning obscene materials. Something I would add to the dialogue personally is a favorite H.L. Mencken quote:
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of oneâs time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. (H.L. Mencken)
War on Photography: Quite possibly one of the most enraging sites I’ve read in a good long while. It documents reports of photographers being harassed for no reason by police, security guards, and even random passersby. If you’re remotely interested in photography or first amendment rights (or, heaven forfend, both), it’s a quick way to raise your blood pressure about 30 points.
Patrick highlights recent unacceptable behavior on the part of AP over at Making Light. He makes some excellent points about how restrictive and ridiculous this sort of attempt at strong-arming individuals can be. A core principle of copyright law is the role of “fair use” to allow others to provide feedback, response, analysis, and commentary on a given work or material, since copyright law itself is provided as an incentive to promote scientific and cultural advancement. A blogger referencing (e.g. linking to the article, quoting specific passages, or re-summarizing/restating the basis of the article) a work clearly falls within this principle, on several fronts.
I will concede such cases as where the majority or entirety of the article is quoted, in particular in situations where it is done so without commentary, but that’s not what’s being discussed, here. What’s happening in THIS circumstance is pure, unbridled greed, without even a nod to the law as it stands.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include â
(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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. (Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. Â§ 107)
Before I get into my own tirade, there’s some recommended reading for you. Don’t worry, I’ll wait:
Braid won’t be at Slamdance after all.
flOw won’t be at Slamdance after all.
Braid Ditches Slamdance in Protest
Slamdance Pulled SCMRPG On Moral Grounds (Referenced from a Rocky Mountain News article.)
Slamdance: SCMRPG removal was personal, not business
Super Columbine Massacre: Artwork or Menace?
Everyone back? Good. As has been raised by several of the more cogent posters, it’s not directly a first amendment issue (which I’m sure regular readers have realized is something of a personal windmill I tilt at), since the Slamdance festival is technically a private organization, and has a right to decide what will or will not be shown at their festival. But there is definitely still some relevance to the battle against censorship and winning over the public mindshare that games are a valid form of creative expression, and deserve the same freedoms afforded to other media towards that end. There is no legal recourse, but that does not mean we should not raise our voices in displeasure at this sort of behavior. As a festival that ostensibly supports the idea of games as art, it is patently unacceptable behavior to remove a valid game from the competition due to a specious claim of moral concern. There is no legal recourse, since it is a private organization, and so the only method of protest that remains to us is to not participate in the festival, to encourage others to withdraw as well, and to express in no uncertain terms exactly why we are doing so. I applaud those developers that have already chosen to make that stand, and hope their other brethren soon follow suit. It is only through community and solidarity that we’ll truly drive home the point that this sort of censorial behavior is not acceptable.
To say that games cannot do whatever other media can do, that they are “just for fun” and have no other purpose, is to betray a profound contempt for games. (Raph Koster in response to a comment that games are played for nothing more than fun)
Very succinctly stated and in my opinion spot on. As is evidenced by the nature of the appeal in Minnesota, there are still quite a few ill-informed and misconceived notions about the medium that need to be addressed. While there is a fair bit of understanding that video games are the “political tool du jour” in this election year, that doesn’t make their attempts to restrict the rights and freedoms of a fledgling medium any less dangerous.
I’ve discussed this in the past, but I’ll say it again: comics sadly let themselves be pigeonholed back when they first became popular, and have now had to spend decades fighting that image because they didn’t fight it then. Regardless of whether you like graphic, violent video games, I hope that we can all agree that in order to defend our rights as a whole, we need to defend these now.
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. (H.L. Mencken)
Back in the early 80s, a conservative watchdog group lobbied for the ban or heavy regulation of music with explicit lyrics involving sex, drugs, or violence. There was a vocal outcry against this movement within the music industry, spearheaded by several prominent musicians, notably Frank Zappa and John Denver. It may seem like an odd pairing, but that served to help drive home just how unacceptable these restrictions were.
The Gaming Industry is now faced with a similar situation. Games, game developers, and even retailers are being targeted unfairly by lawyers and the media as the culprits for individual irresponsibility. Lawmakers are taking notice, but not in a positive manner: several states, Washington and California included, currently have bills in committee to ban the sale of violent games. Rather than finding other solutions, or viewing the larger problem that this is only a symptom of, legislators would prefer to restrict the rights of game makers.
There are several significant issues with the video game ban ideology, but from the reading I’ve done on the subject, most of their reasoning hinges around one fundamental flaw in their logic: games aren’t just for kids. The largest and fastest growing gaming demographic is the 18 to 34 year old age range; it is unreasonable to deny the ability to develop for that group. The game industry has voluntarily self-regulated by placing ratings on every game produced, indicating the content and suggested age range for view or play. This takes no more effort on the part of the parents (and retailers) than the movie rating system, and yet the industry as a whole is being blamed for violent games falling into the hands of children. Demanding that the game developers not make games with mature content is unreasonable on several levels, not the least of which is the violation of first amendment rights. What needs to happen is education. We need to educate parents about the systems that are in place to help them, as well as the need to pay attention to what their kids are doing. We need to educate retailers about sales ethics. We need to educate everyone about personal responsibility.
We need someone who can speak for the game industry as cogently as Frank Zappa and John Denver did for the music industry. The question is, who? Where is our Frank Zappa?
I just had an interesting conversation with some folks on IRC. (I know, shocking, eh?) While reaffirming that it IS in fact a vast wasteland, it was interesting to see what sort of misconceptions are out there about copyright law.
First off, everyone hates the RIAA, myself included. Their behavior is reminiscient of the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, and they need to be stopped. Their reactionary behavior simply feeds the fire, and exacerbates the problem.
Next, many of these “pirates” believe themselves to be safe by being in another country. To quote some, “Thats why I love living in Canada. Downloading music here is legal … see in canada we pay a tax on all music anyway … and the RIAA has no jurasdiction here” and “[copyright] can be international only if the country accepts it, and very few do. Thats why they can’t do shit to people in canada denmark finland and the like.”
Let’s not forget this concept that the RIAA is snooping everyone’s computers, so if you don’t keep pirated music on it, they can’t see it. “If I burn my mp3s to a cd, they can’t trace it!”
Continue reading “Copyright Wake-up Call”