Punk Rock Academy

Home > News Archives > 01.17.2004

Notes From The Flip Side: 01.17.2004

Filchers! Filchers, Everywhere!

After a few run-ins with people who just don't seem to grasp the idea of copyright or copyright infringement, I finally had to develop a copyright policy for this site which basically just reiterates what we've said all along - don't copy shit. Link to it. If you want to reprint something, ask.

In the wake of a recent round of nastygrams about content pilfered from this site for less-than-noble purposes (read: making money for thieving ass-goblins), I talked with Jason over at Clamor about doing an article dealing with Internet content theft. Before I could even get started, this lovely little text bomb dropped:

[wilwheaton.net] retroCRUSH ripped off
[boingboing] retroCRUSH's "Worst Love Scenes" swiped by British tabloid

To summarize, retroCRUSH is a Web site which printed an article about bad movie sex scenes. It is alleged that this article was subsequently reprinted without permission in a UK tabloid and further alleged that, when probed on the issue, the news editor claimed that content on the Internet cannot be copyrighted.

Hoo boy. Someone didn't stay awake in their media law class.

I don't even have the chance to get started on my screed about copyright infringement before people are practically standing up and screaming "Use my boneheaded behavior as an example!" Stop waving already; I can see that you want to be included.

Let's review and, since the government cannot copyright its publications (they're part of the public trust and all), I'll copy a couple of sentences (which would fall under fair comment use anyway) here. This is taken from § 102. Subject matter of copyright: In general:

"Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

While a lawyer could (and I'm sure would) argue that the word tangible implies only a fixed work in a medium which can actually be touched (a book or reel of film, for example), the rest of section 102 is a model of clarity and foresight. To translate, it basically says that the author owns it, regardless of how it's distributed (even if that distribution uses some method we can't imagine).

Not only that but - and here's where it gets very interesting - there are several treaties which include protecting intellectual property and, naturally, parties to those treaties are obligated to uphold copyright law. Translation - the copyright law which protects content generated in the U.S. can be construed to apply in the U.K.


Hopefully, saner parties are currently negotiating a settlement. This legal ground is about as stable as the San Andreas fault and prone to as much slippage.

This stuff may seem boring, but every good punk should be familiar with the law - it makes it much easier to stay or get out of trouble ... and have a proper fighting stance if it becomes necessary to start mixing it up in a courtroom instead of in the pit.

I'm familiar with this sort of thing for fairly obvious reasons. I studied it, reviewed case law and precedents, and have had to educate a few people on the finer points of copyright (and how to infringe it). Most people simply don't know any better. A journalist - particularly a news editor - should.

Of course, all this got me thinking about how this fits with my support of file sharing and it's pretty simple, really. Like open source advocates (and John Milton, among other influential folks), I believe in the marketplace of ideas. To that end, my work is available for free here. You never have to pay for it (much as you can download Linux for free). I simply object to other people profiting from what I choose to give away. Likewise, I object to people profiting from file sharing. If a band elects to give its music away - and I believe that more bands should - no one but that band should make money off of their music.

Wilco Wonka?

While working on a computer for Mark's kids over the weekend and waiting on parts, we had the bright idea - through a roundabout chain of events - to mute the audio on "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" and replace it with Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." The experiment, although not an exact synchronization due to time differences, yielded surprising results. You might wish to play around with it to see what fun you can have along those lines.

The Ice Storm.

I drove to work this morning in a daze, not even noticing missed turns. I was too busy staring at the trees glowing radiant in the sunlight. It was about two, maybe three nights ago when a winter storm rolled through town, bringing sleet with it. The sidewalks froze; hell, pretty much everything froze. The tree outside my window lost another branch, almost dropping it into the street. Blades of grass are covered with thin sheets of ice. And the trees ...

I realize this is nothing unusual for people who have seen winter weather for all or part of their lives, but this is the first time I've seen it. This is the first time I've seen trees silhouetted in white, shrouded in a frozen sheet and brilliant like diamonds. Oddly enough, I haven't needed my sunglasses, despite the glare. It's simply too beautiful to conceal or dim.

Apologies For My Tardiness.

The last year and a half or so have been very hectic for me. I interviewed Joe Lally after I was laid off. I interviewed Tom from Against Me! last January. I interviewed Kevin from The Hope Conspiracy in September. Not one of those interviews is on the site yet. Hell, I just now added The Explosion. Thus, I offer my most humble apologies to everyone. I'm getting better at putting time into this. Pinky swear.

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. I wish I had found the Pernice Brothers long before now. As I described it to a friend, think of Elvis Costello, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub (or Big Star, Jr.), Wilco and Gram Parsons sitting in a studio until all of them were happy with the output. Yes, it's that good.
  2. The same goes for Rjd2. Fucking outstanding hip hop in the vein of the first DJ Shadow album - in short, mindbending beats and samples assembled in such a way that it sounds like old school soul over modern breaks.

Site Updates

More notes on the redesign - the entire site should now be relatively standards-compliant, conforming to the XHTML Transitional and CSS-2 specs. What does this mean to you? It's more egalitarian, more accessible and should look good on any browser (as opposed to those evil sites which demand that visitors use IE). Web standards exist so that sites can look about the same in every browser, and that people can use whatever browser they want to use (such as Mozilla or Opera, for example). Of course, people who persist in using proprietary, browser-specific tags are effectively discriminating against people who do not use those browsers. I've always liked the idea of this site being open to everyone and as accessible as possible - as a result, the redesign also served the function of expressing support for the open source software movement (I'd be remiss if I didn't credit Gavin for some of those links). If you want to reverse engineer the code to figure out how Josh and I did something, feel free to do so, although you're probably better off looking up CSS at A List Apart.

Now Playing:

Gunmoll. Dillinger Four. The Explosion. Give Up The Ghost. The International Noise Conspiracy. Andrew W.K. face to face. Fat Boy Slim. Orbital. Converge. Aesop Rock. Rjd2. Pernice Brothers. Statistics. Paradise Island.

Now Watching:


Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

Back To Top

Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008