Why People Hate Copyright

by on July 31, 2009 · 26 comments

Probably largely the same reason that people hate lawyers:  Anytime you’re dealing with legal rights and contracts, it’s a pain to get anything done. (Having just celebrated my fifth law school reunion, I should know!)

Case in point: I was thrilled to discover the Canadian radio show The Age of Persuasion, dedicated to a subject I’ve come to know and love (to the point of considerable repetition): advertising! Yup, that’s right, those annoying little ads that fund all the free online content and services we all take for granted.

Anyway, the good news is that the show is available online.  The bad news is that it’s only available in streaming audio form—which means I can’t take it with me on my iPod, which means I’ll basically never listen to it.  From Podcasting: what’s ‘holding up the delay’?:

Okay, we’ve got to stop meeting like this.

Time, she passes, yet the legals surrounding podcasting are yet to be settled. Meanwhile, our finely honed spider-sense (and a steady stream of daily emails) tells us many of you are wondering when an AOP podcast will happen.

Alas, for the moment, we are bound not to release Age of Persuasion episodes for podcast. (No, we don’t like it either.)

Hey, the cupboard isn’t entirely bare: we are happy to be able to offer online streaming here on our site, with the latest show added early in the week following its broadcast. Meanwhile, there are five chances each Saturday to listen to the Age of Persuasion live feed online. Click on the “Listen to CBC Radio” link on the right side of our page and find the CBC station in the appropriate time zone. As we’re fond of noting: you’ve gotta love a country where 11:30 a.m. happens five times a day.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, podcasting is new enough that the law, and lawyers, haven’t caught up with it yet. Broadcast has laws and agreements that govern the use of copyright materials, podcasting doesn’t- yet. And our episodes tend to be loaded with copyright elements.

Please don’t picture us sequestered in some dingy hotel meeting room with sleeves rolled up, negotiating over plates-full of little egg salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and cold half-filled cups of coffee.

We aren’t involved in any negotiations; like you, we’re simply waiting by the phone. When we hear something, you’ll be the first to know.

And when agreements are reached that allow us to podcast, we’ll be all over it.

Promise.

Mike Tennant

Producer, AOP

This kind of sloth is a cost inherent in any regulatory system, from copyright to antitrust. But as long as we’re making that essentially utilitarian calculation about costs and benefits, and continually re-evaluating the system as technology evolves, copyright will be working towards, if not actually fulfilling, its intended function:

the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

And now you know why I don’t write about copyright:  I just don’t know what the right balance is! I’m glad there are others patient enough to try to figure it out. This is why we have economists and… yes, even lawyers! But like many people, I just want my damn podcast!

  • Chad

    You realize, of course, that clicking on the “streaming” link just sends the mp3 file to you via http? Yeah, the legal issues are all murky and complicated – but the physics remains nice and simple.

  • Chad

    You realize, of course, that clicking on the “streaming” link just sends the mp3 file to you via http? Yeah, the legal issues are all murky and complicated – but the physics remains nice and simple.

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Thanks, Chad, but unless you know of an easy way to get those MP3s onto my iPod as podcasts, that doesn't help much in terms of being able to listen to these on the go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631598553 facebook-631598553

    I discovered this podcast a couple of months ago and was also disappointed it was not offered as a podcast. I went to the page for a dozen or so episodes and did view source, hacked the mp3's URL together, and downloaded them, and sent them to my iPod. The podcast is ok. I did learn about some historical TV and radio commercials, but the narrator's style is kind of hokey. They use the audio of these commercials in the podcast, and these are probably what the are talking about.

    One could bookmark the audio URLs in delicious, run the feed through feedburner with an appropriate URL name, put the URL in iTunes podcast subscription field and be done with it ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631598553 facebook-631598553

    Oh, look at that! Someone did it! http://feeds.feedburner.com/ageofpersuasionpodcast You can always leave it to nature to fill a void.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631598553 facebook-631598553

    Hmm, they have not updated for a month.

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Thanks, Nick! That seems like a pretty good work-around. I'm loading my pod now.

  • Jonas Smith

    you haven't established that this is actually a copyright issue rather than some other sort of licensing issue. people bash copyright unfairly without any real thought about copyright law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631598553 facebook-631598553

    @Jonas Smith
    It is really practical to ask Terry & Co. to seek out the rights holders of 40 year old commercials just so it can be downloadabl in the podcast? Were copyright resonable in Canada US, and elsewhere the copyright would have expired by now and they would know they are in the clear. So it is a copyright issue, but I do sympathize with them. What is the copyright for 40 year old Canadian TV and radio commericals? Who knows but it should be just a couple of years so we can talk about them and use them in this manner. The probably copyright is hampering the discussion of these historic commericals. Maybe Terry should make this his next story.

  • http://twitter.com/canadanewsflash Chris

    the flash player is streaming an mp3 file. the mp3 file can be found here: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ageofpersuasion_20090

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Yeah, that partly my point, Jonas. It's incidents like this that make people hate copyright—whatever the underlying legal issues actually are.

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    The problem with the so-called defenders of copyright is that they are seizing rights that they don't even own and then they whine “theft” to their zombie lawmakers, who then pass even more onerous laws that defy logic by criminalizing what was once legal. As one aspect of this trend towards seizing rights, TechDirt writes: AP Will Sell You A License To Words It Has No Right To Sell. In Copyfraud Jason Mazzone writes how many content producers claim copyright ownership over content that is even in the public domain. When any “law” essentially legitimizes actions that society has ethical concerns with supporting, the laws become meaningless. Not only does the specific law itself become an item of derision, but the very concept of the law as serving society becomes a mockery. Look at the respect society has towards the US tax code. Society's response to unjust laws is civil disobedience.

    If the defenders of copyright wish to have copyright respected, return the copyright law to what was envisioned when the constitution was passed. If onerous laws can be passed, the laws can also be undone. So, in the face of increasing civil disobedience, will the copyright “defenders” see the handwriting on the wall and restore the copyright to what was envisioned when the constitution was passed or will they simply continue down the path toward self-immolation?

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    The problem with the so-called defenders of copyright is that they are seizing rights that they don't even own and then they whine “theft” to their zombie lawmakers, who then pass even more onerous laws that defy logic by criminalizing what was once legal. As one aspect of this trend towards seizing rights, TechDirt writes: AP Will Sell You A License To Words It Has No Right To Sell. While not specifically a copyright issue; patents have also been proposed for extension (increased “rights”) by zombie politicians. On this issue TechDirt wrote: Biologic Drugs Likely To Get Separate 12-Year Monopoly Protection Beyond Patents. In Copyfraud Jason Mazzone writes how many content producers claim copyright ownership over content that is even in the public domain. When any “law” essentially legitimizes actions that society has ethical concerns with supporting, the laws become meaningless. Not only does the specific law itself become an item of derision, but the very concept of the law as serving society becomes a mockery. Look at the respect society has towards the US tax code. Society's response to unjust laws is civil disobedience.

    If the defenders of copyright wish to have copyright respected, return the copyright law to what was envisioned when the constitution was passed. If onerous laws can be passed, the laws can also be undone. So, in the face of increasing civil disobedience, will the copyright “defenders” see the handwriting on the wall and restore copyright to what was envisioned when the constitution was passed or will they simply continue down the path toward self-immolation?

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