Larry O’Brien tells a cautionary tale of software book publishers and the derivative works right.
“When you do a painting that’s it, it’s one of a kind. But when you do a graphic the amount of prints you can make from it is infinite. I made a provision in my estate, for whoever will take care of my blocks, that if any of my graphic works are selling for high prices immediate copies should be made to keep the price down.”
— Carlos Cortez, 1923-2005
Doing research, I found that Carlos Cortez passed away in January. I first saw Carlos Cortez exhibited in Chicago in the mid-1990s, and had the honor of meeting him and his partner, Mariana. A real loss but he is well-remembered.
– biography at March Abrazo Press
– Carlos Koyokuikatl Cortez: A Printed Legacy (1923-2005) by Jesus Macarena-Avila [subaltern.org]
– An Interview with Carlos Cortez by Christine Flores-Cozza, at Drawing Resistance.org
– Political Graphics.org
– IWW Obituary
– Many of his works illustrate Charles H. Kerr press books
Two great tastes that taste great together.
Many “Daily Show” fans (well, okay, me) have been concerned about the future of “This Week in God” now that Stephen Colbert is leaving “The Daily Show” for his own spinoff. Today’s NYT (10/12) explains that the segment is going to stay, but with a new correspondent — apparently, because of divine licensing:
“God has an exclusive licensing agreement with ‘The Daily Show,’ ” Mr. Colbert said. “We’re trying to get the Devil for our show.”
In completely unrelated entertainment news, Slate informs us (10/5) that the Gang of Four is covering their own songs on what is effectively a tribute album by the Gang of Four, in tribute to the Gang of Four. (Hey, I think they’re worth it.) Go4 was a little less happy with their licensing arrangement than God, apparently:
A sraightforward repackaging of the old recordings, such as a compilation or box set, would only serve to enrich EMI, their original record company in the United Kingdom. And that’s something Gang of Four didn’t want to happen. “We have never made any money at all from record sales with EMI and still have unrecouped advances,” King wrote in an e-mail. “So we didn’t want them to benefit as they did nothing to support us.” As for their original American record company, Warner Bros., King claims that they deleted Entertainment!—easily one of the 50 most powerful and influential rock albums of all time—in 1993 and only rereleased it in 2005 in response to Gang of Four’s having become a fashionable reference point. Rerecording the songs—something that contracts typically allow artists to do after 20 years—puts Gang of Four in a strong bargaining position for negotiating a new deal with superior royalty rates. “It is our way of reasserting ownership of our own material,” says King.
Okay, I’m sneaking a little break away from visiting family in Virginia to breathe the fresh air of the Internet. I wouldn’t exactly call Virginia a hellhole (at least not in front of the family who lives here), but the Internet cafe (Panera Bakery) I’m surfing at blocks arthur silber’s the light of reason and poor man as Forbidden Category “Adult/Mature Content”. Sigh.
Anyway, one of the sites I can read is Wired. In the recent interview with Jon Stewart & Ben Karlin (Daily Show’s Exec Producer) (“Reinventing Television”) I noticed this commentary:
WIRED: [“The Daily Show”] is among the most popular shows traded online. People download and watch the whole thing, every day. Were you guys aware of that?
Karlin: Not only am I not aware of that, I don’t want to be aware of that.
WIRED: Well, don’t go shutting it down.
Stewart: We’re not going to shut it down – we don’t even know what it is. I’m having enough trouble just getting porn.
Karlin: If people want to take the show in various forms, I’d say go. But when you’re a part of something successful and meaningful, the rule book says don’t try to analyze it too much or dissect it. You shouldn’t say: “I really want to know what fans think. I really want to understand how people are digesting our show.” Because that is one of those things that you truly have no control over. The one thing that you have control over is the content of the show. But how people are reacting to it, how it’s being shared, how it’s being discussed, all that other stuff, is absolutely beyond your ability to control.
Stewart: I’m surprised people don’t have cables coming out of their asses, because that’s going to be a new thing. You’re just going to get it directly fed into you. I look at systems like the Internet as a convenience. I look at it as the same as cable or anything else. Everything is geared toward more individualized consumption. Getting it off the Internet is no different than getting it off TV.
WIRED: Isn’t that going to pose a challenge to the traditional network model?
Stewart: But we’re not on a traditional network: We’re on the goofy, juvenile-delinquent network to begin with. We get an opportunity to produce this stuff because they make enough money selling beer that it’s worth their while to do it. I mean, we know that’s the game. I’m not suggesting we’re going to beam it out to the heavens, man, and whoever gets it, great. If they’re not making their money, we ain’t doing our show.
And on the famous clip of Stewart on CNN:
WIRED: [T]he show was a total sensation: Something like 3 million people saw that – but mostly online. Less than a quarter of them saw it on CNN proper. It was huge, phenomenal viral video.
Stewart: It was definitely viral. I felt nauseous afterward.
WIRED: It was one of the most downloaded clips ever.
Stewart: Really? That’s not true. Pamela and Tommy Lee?
WIRED: OK, maybe that was bigger. But it was amazing that CNN was so clueless about what you gave them. Suddenly, for once, everybody wanted to see Crossfire. They could have taken the show and put it on their Web site, said Click Here, and gotten all this traffic. Instead, everyone had to go through these other sites and back doors to find it.
Stewart: That’s really half the fun, isn’t it? If CNN had put it on its Web site, it would have lost some of its allure.
Karlin: It’s people going, “Holy shit, did you see this?”
And, last but not least, my favorite quote:
Stewart: The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.
Terry Pratchett, by a strange coincidence, chose the H*rry P*tter launch day to issue a stern warning about his next Discworld novel: ‘Now that the bound proof copies of _Thud!_ are out, and will no doubt be winging their way to an e-bay near you, I would like to say that ANYONE WHO READS A WORD OF IT before publication day will be MADE TO SIT IN THE CORNER and their ENTIRE COUNTRY will be given DOUBLE DETENTION until every single person SAYS SORRY!!!!!’ So there.
The Salt Lake Tribune ran this article about a TV pilot whose producer and fans hope will be picked up because of file sharing:
“For more GF episodes, I have to somehow find $26 million dollars for 13 episodes of production, find somebody to air it . . . and convince the powers that be the DVD box sets will be profitable,” [John Rogers, producer and writer] wrote in his blog. “That’ll not only require stunning acts of fiscal contortion, but the fan base/buzz/media attention has to be of a truly EPIC proportion. What are the odds of that? I’ll tell you — the odds of this working are way, way too small to take seriously.”
Needless to say, Rogers said he will “make some calls” to see what can be done. After all, “we’re talking . . . about you [the audience] creating a completely new process for television shows,” he wrote.
It only makes sense that a series about a clandestine global network would get help from a real life clandestine global network. Here’s hoping “Global Frequency” breaks free.
This week’s Boston Phoenix includes an interview with Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins, and an excerpt from a 3-year-old Billy Corgan essay on Jimi Hendrix:
[Jimi] was never boring on the guitar, yet he stole from everyone. But like many of the greats, he made others’ songs his own.
No better justification of an improvements culture than Jimi Hendrix need ever be offered.
The NYT ran an article today (5/26) about rap/hiphop music in Bolivia. Young artists are using hiphop & rap to get their message of social justice, democracy, and peace. One young artist talks about copyright infringement:
The one CD the rappers recorded, called “Wayna Rap,” sells robustly on the streets of El Alto, pirated by the hundreds – just as the rappers like. “I do not live off hip-hop, and I did not plan to,” said Grover Canaviri, 23, who sings for the Clandestines. “I do not care if my music is pirated. The money is not important. What we want is to send out our lyrics so they can influence.”
— Juan Forero, Young Bolivians Adopt Urban U.S. Pose, Hip-Hop and All, NYT 5/26
So- Here we are, several weeks into The Great Experiment. So far no one has been able to find another example of an established comic jumping directly to full-time free online mode. There are any number of examples of comics that have gone the other way, in the mistaken belief that printed comics are a vital, glamorous artform that will bring their creators vast amounts of money, respect and dates.
Unfortunately, this is true everywhere in the world, except the United States.
In Europe, comics are printed exclusively in full color on a pure linen paper that the E.U. has designated, by law, as being exclusively reserved for comics. These comics are leather bound, and sold in trendy boutiques. The creators are feted by royalty and treated like rock stars by the general populace.
In Japan, if a comic doesn’t sell seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series, the entire creative team and their families are branded failures and are expected to do “the honorable thing”. Of course, no one is quite sure what this mysterious “thing” is, since no manga series, no matter how idiotic, ever fails to sell less than seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series.
But here in the United States, the country that gave comics to the world in the first place, more people willingly read bad science fiction about worlds where everything is just like Earth, but everyone is an ocelot or something. Some of this, I believe, is because of the fabled crushing of the comics industry that took place in the fifties. However, that excuse is close to sixty years old and is getting a bit weak. A lot has to do with the Comics Industry, which has labored mightily to suck as hard as it possibly can in the intervening years.
But the biggest competition has come from stuff that is FREE!
Television? Free. Radio? Free. The Internet? Free. Comic books? Four bucks for twenty two pages of people beating each other up which you read and toss in five minutes.
To me it is obvious that if we want to compete with other forms of entertainment, we have to keep up with them. When they hit upon something that works. Steal it. In this case, the business model that says, “Give your product away for free and hope they like it enough to pay money to own it in a material form.”
Others have done it. Can we? We shall see.
As for how well the experiment is working: Well, it’s working on me, because now I know about the very cool comic and as soon as I make my way to a comic shop with some $$$ to spare, I’ll invest. It was many years ago that I ran across their art in Magic: The Gathering and I’m pleased to reacquaint with them now. A thousand blessings on the Internet!
The Boston Phoenix ran this article (“Singled out: Mercury Rev’s big Internet gamble” by Mac Randall) [5/19]. Mercury Rev is experimenting with “building fan anticipation” by releasing the album in EP-size dribs and drabs, via iTunes, and then pulling the EPs:
The CD won’t reach stores till May 17. But on January 25, an EP with selections from the disc went on sale on the Web through iTunes. Six weeks later, another EP with a different set of Secret Migration songs went on sale as the first EP was pulled from iTunes. The process repeated again six weeks later, with a third EP replacing the second. Once the album goes on sale in stores, all of the songs will again be for sale on-line, but the EP configurations will be a thing of the past. (Unless, of course, you want to program them into your iPod that way.) More to the point, every song on the CD will have been made available to the public well in advance of the “release date.”
What about the possibility that downloading will destroy the album sales? The company’s marketing director had this to say:
So far, according to Dan Cohen, the iTunes EPs’ sales figures are “good but not astounding. My head of sales hates when I say this, but the greatest thing that could happen is that there are so many MP3s circulating on-line that we’re like, ‘Oh God, this might hurt sales.’ It hasn’t happened yet.”
Selling music is like selling drugs. If you want your clientele to keep coming back, you need to consistently supply a quality product. People know what they want. People talk about how the music industry is struggling, but there’s no strain on Eminem records. There’s no strain on the Game. There’s no strain on 50 Cent records. My first album was downloaded 300,000 times before it went on sale, but we still sold 872,000 copies the first week and 822,000 copies the second week. I don’t believe in the oversaturation of a quality product.
Relatedly, Halsey Burgund, here in MA, just started a new project: he’s making a compilation of musicians saying, “I am a musician, and I support file sharing” (and whatever they want to add about why). [i followed the link from respectp2p.org 5/10]
update 2005/8/24: another 50 Cent story, this time on 50 cent’s position re: a trademark / right of publicity issue.
cory also cited from & linked to john scalzi writing about the same thing (The Stupidity of Worrying About Piracy 5/13).
personally, i much appreciated john’s description of how he feels about readers who can’t pay — borrowers rather than thieves:
Who are pirates? They are people who won’t pay for things (i.e., dickheads), or they’re people who can’t pay for things (i.e., cash-strapped college students and others). …
As for the people who can’t pay for things, well, look. I grew up poor and made music tapes off the radio; my entire music collection from ages 11 to 14 consisted of tapes that had songs missing their first ten seconds and whose final ten seconds had DJ chatter on them; from 14 to 18, I taped off my friends; from 18 to 22 I reviewed music so I could get it for free. And then after that, once I had money, I bought my music. Because I could. As for books, I bought secondhand paperbacks through my teen and college years. Now I buy hardbacks. Again, because I can. Now, being a writer, you can argue that I’m more self-interested in paying for creative work than others, but I have to honestly say that I don’t know anyone who can pay for a book or a CD or a DVD or whatever who doesn’t, far more often than not.
I don’t see the people who can’t pay as pirates. I see them as people who will pay, once they can. Until then, I think of it as I’m floating them a loan. Nor is it an entirely selfless act. I’m cultivating a reader — someone who thinks of books as a legitimate form of entertainment — and since I want to be a writer until I croak, that’s a good investment for me. More specifically, I’m cultivating a reader of me, someone who will at some point in the future see a book of mine of the shelf, go “Scalzi! I love that dude!” and then take the book off the shelf and take it to the register.
i haven’t read his books but i love that dude!
and then john’s posting was followed by many comments from other writers … among them, scott westerfeld … which led me to scott westerfeld’s new blog. scott posted (without worrying about copyright violations!) on his blog a copy of a letter from a reader who sent him a “token of appreciation” after reading his novel in a bookstore. then scott discussed his feelings on sharing (okay) and mass for-profit reproduction (not okay) and reminded us all that writers are not the whole industry, that publishers and editors and libraries need love too.
… and it all led me to hilary rosen (!) complaining about DRM! consumer unfriendly, she says. user unfriendly. irony is not dead, after all.
Thomas Bartlett’s “Audiofile” [2005/5/5] in Salon.com mentions the “Bootleg Browser” & says this:
Bootleg Browser is a new resource that lists links to MP3 downloads of concerts — currently featuring shows from nearly 350 artists. I’m interested to know how readers feel about the ethics of concert bootlegs. Personally, unless an artist has specifically stated that they don’t want their concerts to be recorded and traded, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would object. There’s no real way that bootleg trading can hurt an artist, and plenty of ways that it can help. Doubtless some of you disagree, and I’d like to hear from you. Write to me.
Good to hear someone making the obvious point that lawmakers & record companies have seemed confused about for years.
Another in a series of interesting links & quotes from writers & creators about their ideas about ideas and information. Mercedes Lackey, a popular fantasy writer & protegee of Marion Zimmer Bradley, has this interesting essay on plagiarism. I’ve extracted relevant quotes:
… People tend to use th[e] term [“plagiarism”] incorrectly all the time. … When most people refer to “plagiarizing” however, they are generally saying that someone used someone else’s ideas. Now, you will almost never hear a professional author accusing another of this. The reason is simple; first, you cannot put a patent or a copyright or a statement of ownership on an idea. Second, every professional writer knows that no two authors will take the same idea and do the same thing with it. …
Now, how does it happen that authors have similar topics? There are many ways. First, and the simplest — coming from the same source. Fantasy authors are all getting their inspiration from the same mythopoeic well—the huge backlog of myth, fable, and legends from history. … Second, influence and tribute. Authors are influenced by what they enjoy reading, and often pay tribute to that by showing that influence in their own work.
Nevertheless, a professional author will be careful to avoid the charge of being a copycat by bringing something original to the party.
You can’t plagiarize ideas, only text. And a real, professional writer would throw themselves over a cliff before they did that — because the one thing we take pride in is our words. Our own voice. So to take someone else’s would mean we couldn’t come up with any of our own. Not a chance.
8/4/2003 – London, UK
my thoughts on file-sharing?
well, as i’ve said before i’m happy and flattered if anyone makes the effort to listen to my music, regardless of the medium by which it’s delivered.
i’m glad that the apple i-store exists, because that seems like a potentially healthy way of dealing with this situation, by offering downloads for a fairly reasonable price.
and in general i do not support the efforts of the riaa regarding file-sharing.
i didn’t support them when they cracked down on internet radio (which really wasn’t even their stated domain). and i don’t support them now that they’re cracking down on people who’ve engaged in file-sharing.
i know for a fact that a lot of people first heard my music by downloading it from napster or kazaa. and for this reason i’ll always be glad that napster and kazaa have existed.
i’m sure that this is not a very popular thing for me to say, but it’s the truth. i believe that we’re moving towards some sort of resolution, though.
and i hope for happy endings for all involved: record companies, musicians, music lovers, record stores, file-sharing sites, etc. everyone just needs to bend a little bit and the situation will be remedied (i.e-supporting your local record store, supporting things like apple’s i-store, charging less for cd’s, recognizing that file-sharing has served a great promotional value for record companies, musicians not expecting to get rich from selling music, etc).
and the riaa certainly shouldn’t prosecute people for listening to music. i can understand prosecuting people who copy and sell cd’s, but i can’t understand prosecuting someone because they love music and have a few illegally downloaded songs on their hard-drive.
Moby in his journal, 2003-08-04
sort of. Found this commentary a few months ago on the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Extended DVD, Directors’ Commentary, Disk 2, 5:42 – 6:24. Peter Jackson (PJ), Fran Walsh (FW), and Philippa Boyens (PB) are discussing a scene they had filmed, but didn’t end up putting in either the theatrical release or the extended DVD.
PJ [5:42]: It’s unlikely to find a place actually because there’s nowhere to put it now really even in The Return of the King. So maybe in the 50th anniversary box set we can put it in somewhere.
FW [5:54]: Wouldn’t it be fun to do an edit of all 3 films in chronological order?
PJ: Like the, The Godfather box set?
FW: Oh is that what happens there?
PB: Did they? Oh cool.
FW: You could put that scene, you know, right after the, the council meeting.
PJ [6:09]: Well, you could, that’s right. I mean, well, people could do that with their – I shouldn’t suggest this, but people could, could do this with the sort of interesting software available on home computers these days, it’s, um, it’s something that any, any fan could do.
PB: Maybe they could do it for us, and we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves.
… They then go on to discuss the value of adding material to extended versions, since no other sequels, no other books to license, New Line could keep making more money that way; does New Line need to make more money? no
Interview with Neal Stephenson about, in part, publishing models, copyright, hacking tools, and the First Amendment.
Kos blogs for the love of it — not for money.
A reporter asked, “So, uh, blogging … what’s your revenue stream?”
I responded, “I don’t blog because I have to, I blog because I want to. It’s the essence of writing — doing it for the joy of it.” Perhaps I imagined it all, but I sensed a grudging respect from them, a few nods of the head. Things are obviously different now, at least in the “revenue stream” department.
What’s that famous quote about nobody but a fool writing for anything but money?
Gotta love Wonkette, who noted, after posting a portion of a transcript from The O’Reilly Factor:
Full transcript after the jump, which probably breaks about three hundred and sixty-seven copyright laws. But information wants to be free! Yay! Let the information run wild!
The O’Stewart Factor (sept. 21 2004)
the transcript itself is from the O’Reilly Factor interview with Jon Stewart, which was funny (and was linked to by tendentious.org)