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And copyright was everyone's favorite bit, as usual. My own favorite part of teaching any class on copyright is where I ask "Who can explain copyright to me" and the whole group pulls the blankest blank faces that ever blanked. If they haven't learned about it on the internet or seen it in another class before, my students just can't manage to even guess how this copyright business works and what it's supposed to be accomplishing. These are intelligent young people, and they're perfectly capable of logically inferring how a system they don't know might work. The fact that they get nowhere when asked to figure out copyright shows better than anything how profoundly illogical and counter-intuitive current copyright laws are. It actually makes me hopeful for the future of copyright reform. If your law doesn't make an ounce sense to the vast majority of people who are supposed to be obeying it, it'll have to crumble or become irrelevant someday.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Presented this yesterday at a workshop on Japanese pop culture for grad students. It’s a quick intro to dojinshi exchange as a “hybrid economy” of market and gift economies, and an argument that dojinshi exchange is a very promising business model to allow fans and professional creators to cooperate - a business model that the Japanese government would do well to promote, rather than jumping on Hollywood’s rah-rah-copyright bandwagon like it’s doing at the moment. (Bigger version here)

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)

Here's my presentation for SGMS (Schoolgirls and Mobile Suits), which is going on right now in Minneapolis. On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement's possible legal threat to dojinshi exchange, and one of the solutions that are being tried in Japan - the dojin mark, a kind of license for fanworks. Which I will blog about as soon as I have a brain again.

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Hi! Sorry about the months of silence, I hope everyone's doing well... Dreamwidth seems quiet these days. More soon about the ten million things I've been busy with. First though, a crosspost of a quick analysis thing I wrote for Fanhackers about Amazon's new great idea. The tone of this post is restrained because Fanhackers is not a private soapbox, but my personal objections to the idea of Amazon trying to revolutionize fanfic distribution are, um, extreme.

 

PaidContent reports that in June this year, Amazon will be launching Kindle Worlds, a legal publishing platform for fanfic. According to Amazon's announcement, Kindle Worlds will start out by allowing fanfic based on Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries.

It's not necessarily bad news that companies are trying to create options for "licensed" fanfic, and I'll leave the in-depth analysis of the legal aspects of this to professionals. Legal issues aside, though, I certainly hope that Kindle Worlds won't become a model for other attempts to legalize fanfic. This concept seems to repeat a lot of fan-unfriendly aspects of previous forays by companies into the weird world of fic monetization. Kindle Worlds would allow fic authors to sell works "without hassle", as PaidContent says, but apparently also without many rights, and within the boundaries of extremely strict content guidelines.

The platform refers to fandoms as "Worlds". Copyright holders can give Amazon Publishing a license to allow fic writers to upload stories about licensed media to Amazon Publishing, which will then offer the stories for sale. Since this is not a self-publishing platform, Amazon Publishing will be setting the prices:
Read more... )Again, I'm not against the idea of "licensed" fic in and of itself, and those who want to agree to Amazon's terms certainly have the right to do so. However, something like Kindle Worlds can be only one option among many for licensing fic, and it definitely shouldn't be a model for other "solutions" to the legal uncertainties surrounding fanworks. The only option for publishing fic legally can't be a platform that takes or licenses away many rights, doesn't give fic authors the option to set prices, and excludes large numbers of fans with its content guidelines. Hopefully, alternatives that strike a better balance between the rights of fans and copyright holders will emerge soon to counter this.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Remember Aaron Swartz, the information freedom activist who set off a broad online discussion about academic databases in 2011 when he downloaded about four million articles from JSTOR to make a point about how knowledge shouldn't be locked away from the public?

Swartz never put those four million articles online anywhere, or did anything else with them besides downloading, but the way he downloaded them (edit: better link) was in violation of JSTOR's terms of service. JSTOR recognized that they were dealing with an activist doing a stunt, not some kind of pirate who wanted to deny them income; they declined to press charges. However, a federal prosecutor decided to make an example of Swartz and pursued him relentlessly, threatening to slap him with a million-dollar fine and up to thirty-five years in jail. With the upcoming trial looming over him, Swartz hanged himself on January 11 at the age of 26.

We often point to examples of incidents that show how broken copyright law is, but this is just too enraging for words. Karl Fogel at QuestionCopyright.org and Lawrence Lessig say best exactly how shameful the prosecutor's behavior was, regardless of whether or not Swartz' actions were wrong (they differ on that). This guy did not deserve what he was being threatened with. The people who wasted public money hounding him to his death instead of dealing with actual crimes should be too ashamed to ever look in the mirror again.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
So Amazon is now selling the Kindle in Japan, meaning they also have a Kindle store. I might be tempted to think this would enable Kindle-owning me to buy e-books from the Japanese Kindle store, seeing as I live in Japan and already have an account on amazon.co.jp to buy print books.

Read more... )
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Here's a short interview with Kal Raustiala, co-author of a very interesting new book called 'The Knockoff Economy: How Imitation Sparks Innovation'. Raustiala discusses how copyright is unnecessary in various creative industries. For instance, an absence of copyright protection encourages innovation in fashion, football, and cuisine. He also touches upon the (lack of) innovation in the music industry and the (lack of) use for patents in certain industries (paraphrased: "It's not reasonable for Apple to patent the rectangle").

The Knockoff Economy: How Copying Benefits Everyone (9min)
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
In The New Imperialism: Forcing Morality Shifts And Cultural Change Through Exported IP Laws, the always-informative Techdirt gives a rundown of recent incidents where pressure from US media companies forced countries to change their IP laws in ways that are against the interests of their own citizens. The whole thing is interesting and also contains a lot of links to related relevant stuff, but here's the important bit:

Read more... )
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Remember Cecilia Gimenez, the lady who tried to restore a fresco in a church near Zaragoza and did it wrong? The story is twisting down some interesting paths, copyright-wise.

According to El Correo (in Spanish, English via gTranslate), thousands of people started visiting the church in the town of Borja after the botched restauration became famous on the internet. The church placed a collection box next to the "creatively restored" fresco, but few people left donations, so it was decided to charge admission to the building instead. Apparently they've earned about 2000 euros in just four days. Now Gimenez' family has called in lawyers to claim that she should get royalties, because the foundation that operates the church is making money off her work.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (hey ozai)
And how. From Michael Geist (he of the ACTA explanation video):

Read more... )

Thank you to everyone who helped mail MPs or spread the word over the past half year. It was an incredibly long shot only months ago, but we did it. Drinks and nibbles for all.



People are already arguing that the next fronts have to be intellectual property reform and open access in scientific publications. Bring it on.

ETA: Via Reddit, a picture taken in the European Parliament today:


 
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
On July 4, the European Parliament is having its final vote on ACTA, a secretly negotiated international treaty that threatens to expand the powers of multinational companies to police the internet in the name of fighting copyright infringement.

If you have a moment, please mail all MPs via the address europarl-all@falkvinge.net to express your opposition against the treaty. Mail address provided by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the first Pirate Party*, who also gives some sample letters tailored to EU citizens and non-EU people who want to help defeat ACTA. (There's a picture of a shirtless guy at the top of the page. Just mentioning.)

Read more... )

I need a "terrorist on the internet network" icon.





*In case you don't know Falkvinge or his motivations for founding the Pirate Party, he has an interesting talk about it here.
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Since I'm almost thirty and a new haircut just revealed a very distinguished grey streak over my forehead, I reckon I'm entitled to start talking about Kids These Days without including myself in that group.

Kids these days are awesome! Yesterday I did a guest lecture about fanworks and copyright for a group of foreign students at Kansai University. I didn't get far before an older member of the audience raised her hand and asked about this fansubs thing she'd heard about. So I explained in brief, and the teacher was intrigued. She interrupted the lecture to have the students pair up and discuss what they think of fansubs, and how they might solve the problem: fans want their anime quickly and are unimpressed with the copyright implications, but the industry isn't able to provide said anime with the desired speed and translation quality. Most of the students knew what fansubs are and had watched them. However, they were unaware of efforts like the Digital Manga Guild, a company that recruits capable fan translators to have them work on official translations of manga, light novels, and doujinshi - which is basically an attempt to legally harness the energy of fans who do scanlations, the manga equivalent of fansubs.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Japan has passed a new law that criminalizes unauthorized downloading and copying, even for personal use, of copyrighted music and video. That means that by October, anyone who illegally downloads a song will be committing an offense worth maximum two years of jail time. The new law also mandates high fines for illegal downloading, up to two million yen.

Much of the Japanese- and English-language internet seems in agreement that this new law is not a good idea (here, there, everywhere). I'd just like to add that the new punishments for illegal downloading are so out of proportion with the severity of the offense that this law is completely counterintuitive, and therefore doomed. Nobody is going to understand these new rules, meaning that nobody will follow them. 

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Today was the last day of the Japan Society for Research in Cartoons and Comics' annual big meetup, and the topic of the final session was doujinshi and copyright. On stage were a manga researcher, a fan researcher, an IP lawyer, a representative from a large publishing company, and a professional mangaka with strong ties to doujin fandom. They spent two hours tossing around ideas for how to legalize doujinshi and make sure that possible tightening of Japanese copyright law (via, say, the TPP) won't harm either doujinshi creators or media companies.

Read more... )

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Rebecca Tushnet has posted a transcript of a hearing on the DMCA exemption that allows makers of non-commercial remix videos like vids and AMVs to circumvent the DRM on DVDs (something that's technically illegal) so they can create quality works with no more hassle than necessary. Along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The OTW was one of the organizations who helped get that exemption in 2010, and now they're fighting to have it renewed, because it was only valid for three years. (This page has all the links about how all this has been unfolding.)

The post includes the full text of Tushnet's own remarks, and a transcript of the remarks made by other proponents and opponents of the exemption. It's a great read overall, because it touches on so many reasons why DRM makes no sense for vidders - reasons that are nearly all applicable to several other fannish media as well. But the post is a bit long, so here are some snippets.

Read more... )
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I haven't paid much attention to 3-D printers yet, apart from gawking at videos of all kinds of crazy and gorgeous stuff that people are making with them. The printers are still a bit over the $500 price point right now, which is actually amazingly low, and I definitely want one if as soon as they get a bit more affordable. The possibilities! I'm so making a set of Jee and Zuko figures that are the right size to interact with my Jurassic Park toys. They can ride in the jeep and shoot tyrannosaurs with the little bazooka. I could also make LEGO Jee and Zuko, and Barbie Jee and Zuko, and porn Jee and Zuko and and and.

Here is a video about the possibilities and relevance of 3-D printers. It's plenty awesome all on its own, and I'm sure we all have more than enough imagination to translate this to fannish possibilities. (Not sure if this embed is working, please click the link above if it doesn't.)

Read more... )

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Welcome to Life is "A science fiction story about what you see when you die. Or: the Singularity, ruined by lawyers."


Tom Scott: Welcome to Life (2.5 min)

Read more... )
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The author of that funny video about how the copyright industries trumpet absurd numbers on piracy-related financial and job losses has written up an informative extended version of his talk in which he explains where he got the numbers for his calculations. It's worth checking out, mainly because it makes clear that there frequently are no reliable sources for the staggering, terrifying, and mostly imaginary numbers on piracy-related economic losses. And consequently, that there is no factual basis for many laws and proposals for laws that include restrictions on online freedoms in the name of enforcing copyright law - SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, the DMCA, and other acronyms.

Read more... )
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It's pretty sobering to read that the sky-high figures for financial damage and job losses caused by "piracy" that the media industry routinely presents as true, and on which so many draconian "anti-piracy" laws are based, are completely false. But you can also just watch this funny video, it's probably more memorable anyway ;)

Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod (5 min)
Read more... )
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The protection and people's awareness of copyright are said to reflect the degree of cultural development of the country, and therefore, copyright systems should be understood by a wide range of people.


That's how the Copyright Research Information Center, a Japanese government-authorized "public service corporation", starts out its introduction to copyright for beginners. The Japanese version of that sentence is:

Read more... )

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