The preface here is that opinions are personal and I just happen to dislike the one kind of perpetrated here. I realize when you are dealing with concepts like Copyright and DMCA takedown notices it can seem mightily esoteric. But if I were to author (and I’m not qualified) a Dummy’s guide to best use copyright as an indie artist, this is not the tone I’d take. Of course.
That said, it is a pretty copyright-heavy approach to explain the tools of the trade. In fact if you understood what is infringement and what isn’t, all that’s left is the DMCA process which a lot of popular site has it automated or guided. If not all it takes is an email and maybe follow up. But that’s, in my opinion, heavy handed for an indie artist point of view.
Here’s the thing. Copyright is not a black and white deal. It’s different enough from stealing that I would avoid the comparison all together. It’s easier to think of it as correct or incorrect use and leave the value judgment out. Why? Because for indie artists using the internet as a way to make a living by using it to distribute their work, buying into the copyright framework that are crafted heavily in favor of the majors may ultimately be a policy negative for your livelihood. It’s the likes of Disney that wrote the rules that oversees the core framework that is part of the 1986 Copyright Act. If you don’t like how that company operates in terms of how they deal with artistic individuals, you might want to consider the rules these companies came up with to protect their intellectual property.
The leeway built into the typical Copyright regime allows each creator to do whatever they wish, ultimately. It’s not to say we should talk about Creative Commons or whatever in a piece aim to teach people what is left and what is right in the realm of Copyright law, but taking that perspective is a disservice. There has to be a more neutral one.
OK so my bones is basically the fair use part. Which the copyleft founders addressed over a decade ago. Which is ever the smaller slice today. Don’t even bother with unenumerated fair use. Just bullet out what uses are excepted and leave the four-factor test to lawyers. Because no matter how fair your fair use may be, if Disney’s high power lawyers targets you, they will probably win. If someone DMCAs your work, it will go down and you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get it back online. Don’t even go into the “chilling” space.
- DO NOT TAKE pictures words etc from other sites and say it’s yours, or use however you want because it looks good, etc. At the very least link back.
- DO follow this Copyright stuff to the tee if you think it’s okay to hurt fellow indies for sake of the Man that’ll screw you over however they want whenever they want.
- Good to learn DMCA takedowns but only use when you absolutely must.
One last thing: I wrote this reaction piece mainly as a data point in terms of how I have came to terms with the way copyright law has been shaped the past 10 years. In spirit, copyright legislation and jurisprudence have always been best viewed, IMO, as a way to regulate a subject, an industry. It’s not about rights (beyond the usual “ownership” BS, first sales stuff, and artists’ rights) as much as how to make a buck, and these giant companies that have made a fortune on top of it, versus the very things they were able to monetize–the creativity of individuals. I still firmly believe these things are not zero-sum; as in the copyright concept has a place. How it has played out just taxes my faith in how the alternative can ever be worse than this. I’m entirely open to other systems, but given the inertia we have in the present status, how any changes can go is beyond me.