Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Girl Talk, As Narrated by A Disney Princess

This video sets my soul ablaze with fury.

I don't know if if it's the general ignorance of copyright history and policy, the juvenile transcript, the complete disregard for any of the real issues, the childishly uninformed cartoonish caricatures and insipid generalizations drawn about The Entire Music Industry and All of Its Members, the low-budget local car dealership quality sound effects, or the degree of self-gratification dripping from every frame that angers me more.

Congratulations, Brett Gaylor, with this "documentary" you have done absolutely nothing to contribute to the world, except to perpetuate fantastical self-satisfied ignorance. Unfortunately, most people won't know any better than to think this is intelligently researched and approached. May you get a job at Disney and live happily ever after.


  1. As someone who practices in this area, the problem is that people see this way too simply. I completely agree that we need a more robust conception of fair/transformative use as a general rule, that the penalties under copyright law can, in some instances, be draconian, that copyright needs certain adjustments (I have advocated for a mid-length term with renewals available for a fee), and that rights-holders often act in a narrow-minded view of their best interest. Those are all problems with the current structure, to be sure, but the solution is not to scrap copyright law altogether (as some advocate), but to work within the system so it works and accommodates the interests of all, rather than just some. (OK, off my high horse now.)

  2. I guess I share this ignorance of copyright laws. Can you explain to the layperson where he went wrong?

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I found my way to your blog from the posts you left on this blog post:

    Your comments seemed cogent so I left a response there, if you care to read it.

    So I was looking through your blog to see if I could understand where you're coming from and I lit upon this post.

    The first thing I noticed was, "This video sets my soul ablaze with fury." So I think you must have a passionate stand in favor of copyright as it is currently practiced. Is that fair to say?

    The "fury" part makes me think that you really don't want to hear the other sides of the issue. I didn't watch much of the video so I don't know how egregious it might be in making it's case, whatever that might have been. But still I want to say a few things that might influence the copyright 101 posting your working on.

    The first is that almost everything humans create is in some way derivative of something some other person has done. Are you composing in the equally tempered scale? Derivative. Are the lyrics in a current human language? Derivative. (There's even current litigation about the copyright of bird song recordings.)

    So can we agree it is very rare for something completely new to be created? So we're talking about where to draw the like. Copyright tries to to do that. Can you copyright one note? How about three?

    Then what about Fair Use? It isn't spelled out in the Constitution. Some say it doesn't exist at all. Others say it's only a defense when you get sued.

    Do you believe in the Public Domain? Copyright is a government-granted monopoly giving special legal rights to the holder at the determent of the "public". It used to be for a limited period but now it is virtually forever.

    Would you say that music is a big part of our modern culture? Who owns our culture? Who should own our culture? Who should be able to take what they see and hear around them and make something new from it? New but derivative?

    Take home movies of your kit's birthday party and put it on YouTube for the grandparents. Get a takedown because a 15 second piece of a song was playing on the radio. (Fair use? Maybe but do you hire a lawyer to find out ore do you curse someone?)



    Your young and want to create. Can you take what you see around you and create art with it? Copyright says no. Can you see how frustrating that must be?

    Exaggerated hypothetical xample: you're a composer and copyright law was changes so that every sequence of five notes in a given rhythm are copyrighted automatically upon being published. You write your composition but you must find every five-note sequence in your composition that matches any others in any copyrighted works and then you must get permission from the holder to use them.

    This isn't far from the reality if you make a feature film getting music clearances.

    And finally, is money the only goal of value in our society? The answer, of course, is no. If it should become illegal tomorrow to sell music in any way I think we would still have plenty of new music being created. Why? Because we all have music within us.

    You talked about "the general ignorance of copyright history" but what about the history of music? In the course of human history it's quite a recent phenomena that people pay for music. Here's a quote from Sir Mick Jagger that gives it some perspective:

    "people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn't make any money out of records because record companies wouldn't pay you! They didn't pay anyone!

    Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.

    So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn't."

    So, with respect, I hope you will consider how copyright hinders new works of art and affects our society and our culture as you write your post on copyright.

    Peace, Love, Laughter,