jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
[personal profile] jewelfox

Right now, Apple can censor your app for political reasons, and lock you out of iOS forever. Hasbro can shut down any My Little Pony fan, anytime that it wants, because you only have Fair Use rights if you can pay to defend them in court (and they won't let you make money from your own work regardless). Popping the case on your tablet voids your warranty, even if you do it to fix the dang thing, and switching your phone to work on a different carrier is now illegal.

The people who own these companies aren't democratically elected. They don't have to work. They don't even have to sign contracts and hire people to work for them. They can get laws written that make others work for them, like the massive army of bronies and pegasisters creating goodwill for the My Little Pony brand without pay. Or the app developers who are out of luck if they go through anyone but Apple, because for some reason Apple's "right" to decide what goes on your iPad is more important than anyone else's.

Apple can do whatever it wants with the App Store, and with the iPad you purchased. Hasbro owns every fan work that every MLP fan ever made, and everything they will make for another hundred years or so. And not even Lauren Faust, the creator of the new MLP series, could stop them from shutting down fanworks based on it like Fighting is Magic.

That's not how things ought to work.

Here's how things ought to work:

  1. The worker should own the means of production.

  2. The audience should own their response to artwork.

  3. Everyone should have the right to take apart things that they own.

Stuff like Apple and Hasbro are doing ought to be illegal. People should go to jail and pay fines for them. It doesn't matter if you think Apple or MLP fans have bad taste, or that "computer games" and "cartoons" are irrelevant. They're just examples of things that affect everyone, in this world that we have where we choose to allow a handful of people to own everything, even though they didn't work for it.

There are a few things that work the right way.

Creative Commons and Free Software licenses let creators throw fans a bone, and make them equal partners instead of "participants." A writer can now own the website that her words are published on, thanks to Dreamwidth and WordPress' Free Software code, while MediaGoblin does the same for artists, musicians, and video producers. And while you can't write an "iPad game" without going through Apple, even my PlayStation can access what Mozilla calls the Open Web.

Finally, the stuff you create -- that you put into websites -- does not have to go away if you leave or get banned. Some sites work like Dreamwidth, where you can "friend" people on other sites and they can subscribe and leave comments. And if something goes wrong, you or someone else can take the code and set up shop someplace else, the way Dreamwidth did for upset LiveJournal fans. Mozilla is even making an app marketplace that works this way.

I'm trying to find more things that work this way, and evaluate everything else in my life and decide whether or not it's worth it.

Edit: I do not endorse brony culture, and I feel that there are a lot of problematic things about it. (The name, for starters.) Free speech should not include hate speech, because it silences others. I chose the Fighting is Magic fangame to use as an example of fans being silenced because it's a) recent, b) egregious, and c) overriding the wishes of the actual creator of the work in question.

Edit 2: Some much-needed corrections and clarifications are here.

Date: 2013-04-27 01:26 am (UTC)
armaina: seriously dudes, not stock art. (Default)
From: [personal profile] armaina
"Stuff like Apple and Hasbro are doing ought to be illegal."
Absolutely not.

Hasbro is trying to protect the value of their IP by squashing the many damaging and misogynistic projects put out by the varied brony groups. And considering the high volume of awful there is when you search it now, I don't blame them for being harsh about it.

Not to mention, removing their ability to protect their IP, would in turn remove my ability to protect my own creative works. If you want to release your works under Creative Commons, you have the right to, that's what it's there for. But I don't release under that, because I still want to have a say in taking down something that's, say, being used for bigoted work. I will not permit my art to be used on bigoted projects and keeping copyright and my ability to protect it as it is, means I have a say so in taking it down if that ever happens. Creative Commons does not grant me that right.

Yes, there is a problem when a sole creator no longer has access to their rights (Lauren Faust is not a sole creator in this regard, she only created the direction for characters and setting Hasbro already owned.) And it's absolutely awful when IPs are ripped away due to bad contract deals, a la Last Unicorn. And something should be done about that. But the answer is not to forcibly make all IPs creative commons. Making it illegal for them makes it illegal for me to protect my works, and I do not appreciate that.

As for voiding the warranty, it's not that you can't do that, it's that you're changing from a certain set of standards that prevents the group it came from, from being able to properly assist or fix a problem. Keeping it factory standard assures that inside there will be factory parts, parts they have access to and can replace without a problem. Being on the tech support end of things, it's amazing what people will do that goes way past what it's capable of doing and then get pissed off at the person on the phone that can't do anything about it because all their diagnostic tools no longer work.

However, I agree the matter regarding unlocking phones is absolutely bogus, because such an act doesn't actually help. They're not going to be able to contact the parent companies for support anyway. And the carriers they're switching to have no obligation to host the phone either, so it's a risk on them and a loss on the person doing it if they choose to say they're fine with that loss. The parent companies don't loose anything out of it. Making it illegal is just an insult to the consumer and benefits no one.

Date: 2013-04-27 02:05 am (UTC)
armaina: seriously dudes, not stock art. (Default)
From: [personal profile] armaina
Free speech laws do forbid hate speech, but that doesn't stop sitcoms from having bigoted jokes. And until that happens, I do think I should have every right to prevent someone from making money off a bigoted fan derivative of my IP. Which turning queer characters cis and heteronormative is absolutely a form of bigotry, as well as changing meaning or intent of certain things and is not classified as hate speech. These are both things that happen in fan derivative work by bigots and I certainly do not want to see it done with my own works.

Now anyone that wants to use the works with integrity, I have no problem with that as long as credit is given. And yes, copyright ownership means I also have the right to give that approval. (My views are very similar to how Japanese companies interact with their own fan bases) But if I don't have the ability to fight for it, well, bigoted distortion is going to happen for as long as bigoted people exist, and we as creators should have access to the tools to get rid of their mark until they no longer exist.

Date: 2013-04-27 03:10 am (UTC)
willowistari: (Fluttershy Angel)
From: [personal profile] willowistari
I'm afraid I don't know enough about the various laws to make a detailed reply about them, but I have to agree with arma. I would want the right to stop someone from profiting off my own ideas if they were doing it in a way I didn't approve of. And granted that would be a pretty narrow definition: you can't profit off my work if it enforces or promotes something bigoted, for example. Otherwise I wouldn't mind someone making a profit, but I really would like the ability to stop things like that.

Date: 2013-04-27 06:05 pm (UTC)
armaina: seriously dudes, not stock art. (Default)
From: [personal profile] armaina
I am saying I should be able to control what I publish and where I publish it, and not be locked in to a platform.
And so should I. And I shouldn't be sent to jail for trying to protect my work from being abused.

The current laws are, really, the only thing that prevents people with more money from taking something that I create and using it for their own. Yes copyright, trademark, intellectual property, and patents all need reform, but removing them is only going to make it worse for the individual creator, because then there's no barrier preventing them from using anyone's work as their own.

Yes...

Date: 2013-04-27 07:50 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I agree that control-freak corporations are doing a tremendous amount of damage.

There is only one thing they care about: money. They don't give a fuck about people, or frankly, the law either. So the most effective way to strike back is to deny them your willing support, and your money. Route as much of your resources to independent and more fair-minded providers as possible. For some things this is not an option, but for entertainment you always have the choice of what to support.

If people hate copyright, they can ignore those megacorps and instead create their own entertainment or buy from indie providers. Support open-source fandoms and shared worlds instead of feeding peanuts to the Mouse in copyright-jail.

Ideally, the laws would be changed; but individuals don't have that power and even grassroots groups have an uphill fight against the fatcats. What we do have is the power to walk away.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-04-27 08:05 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I do occasionally buy mass media myself. I just don't do it nearly as often as I used to. The bar keeps rising.

We used to have TV service. I never watched as much TV as most people do, but I watched it. We had some tedious interactions with companies. We haven't been able to afford TV service in years. If we ever have money again, my partner will probably want to reconnect. Me, I might watch a few things, but the technology has gone in a direction with very little appeal for me and so has most of the content and presentation. I'm one customer they're probably not getting back. I'm content with occasionally buying things on DVD, and honestly, if it weren't for someone else pushing that, I probably wouldn't bother.

Books, I used to love in mass quantities. But now when I go into a bookstore, even if looking for an armload of books for a long road trip, it's harder to find stuff worth reading. So much of it is derivative to the point I can't even remember which character's name I should be yelling. Yowch. Mostly what I get are ideas for things I'm writing that are made to get away from the dreck on the shelves.

And then there's crowdfunding. I have almost no disposable income, but that's where more and more of it goes. The stories are better, because I can ask for what I want and get it. The people are nicer. It's something I want to support.

So in order to get my money, the megacorps have to produce something with a higher and higher level of appeal. Since their average quality is mediocre, there is very little that goes high enough to make me buy it.

I really don't think the people in charge of these businesses realize how much damage they're doing to their customer base by driving so many people into permanent unemployment, or misrepresenting everything but the mainstream, or fucking over people for just wanting to have fun.

It's like they never imagined people might say, "Well, fuck you too!"

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-04-27 08:11 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Changing the system is worth trying, it's just that the odds of success are very low and the expense of trying is very high. Look at the way the legal wind is blowing. The corporations all but own the judges. It's rare for a case to go against them -- and that's usually when people have raised SO much of a stink that politicians are afraid they'll get voted out of office if they don't actually listen to their constitutents for once. Statistically speaking, money usually decides what happens and the megacorps have most of it. I support this kind of action. That's why I'm aware of how often it fails and why.

Consumer choice is something anyone can exercise at any time. It's something you can do right now, without needing anyone else's permission. That's what makes it powerful. It isn't the only tool in the box, but it is in everyone's box.

Copyright only exists because people agree that it does. It didn't always; it probably won't always. If people stop using it, eventually it will go away. Something else will take its place. That's something we can do, whether or not the assclowns keep extending copyright forever. We can choose to stop putting things into copyright-jail and do something else with new creative material.

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