What a pathetic way for an ‘adult’ to behave

I’VE just received the following comment from a very, very indignant person calling himself “wibbler”, in response to my posting a YouTube video of Mariah Carey (since removed):

This is copyright infringement. If you support the absurd copyright laws your party subscribes to then take it down from this page immediately, and then use all your good offices as an MP to get Youtube to take it down permanently.

Learn that you too, have to live by the rules you impose on us plebs, no matter how ridiculous.

I will also report your illegal distribution of copyrighted music to the BPI.

You can almost hear him stamping his little feet, can’t you? 

Bravely, “wibbler” supplied only a fake email address when he submitted the comment, though his IP address ends in “wadham.ox.ac.uk”. Does that mean he’s a student or an academic? Either way, he’s going to get visited by three spirits before a week on Thursday at this rate.


Filed under Whimsy

23 responses to “What a pathetic way for an ‘adult’ to behave

  1. wibbler

    I apologize for my behaviour.

    As you rightly saw, I was carried away in defense of an issue I have strong feelings about, having seen one of my friends needlessly hounded by his ISP. I should have been more polite.

    The fact remains that what you posted, was, technically, (to the best of my ability) illegal. It is a very sad state of affairs that this should be so.

    Unfortunately MPs will be lightning rods for people’s pet concerns. It is right of you to point out bad behaviour on our part too.

    As for the fake email address – well, it is a pseudonym and I don’t really see the point in having to provide one. Nevertheless, it has now been replaced by a valid one.

  2. wibbler

    PS I am, as you probably guessed, a student, not an academic!

  3. Will Stobart

    I hate you for posting this. I almost got into that damn college 😦

  4. While it sounds like he was being a bit of a twit, he does bring up something that I had wondered about…

    Tell you what, you’ll be okay if the Tories win the next election, as clearly they think ordinary laws don’t apply to MPs 😛

  5. Chris' Wills

    The spirits being Gin, Vodka and Whisky?

    I do understand that the UK goverment is considering extending copyright on music yet again, upto 75 years I hear.

  6. mike

    Why are YOU whining? You got caught out.
    So typical Labour response is to smear your detractor. How sad !

  7. Johnny Norfolk

    Now you know how we feel about your Labour government.

  8. I think a DCMA notice would have to be served to Google by the record label to notify them of a breach. Of course, with a music swap feature now available on YouTube it’s actually possible the video is legitimate. Either way, it’s the person who uploads the track that declares not to be in breach of copyright. The only people that potentially have done something wrong is the uploader if they falsified their copyright declaration or Google by continuing to make the video available after a DCMA notice has been served. A blogger has done nothing wrong by embedding the video, which is declared to be legal at point of upload.

  9. wibbler

    Again, I apologize for my tone – this was the wrong way to go about winning friends and influencing people! I feel bad about my rant because I genuinely feel political discourse is often too adversarial. I was cranky after a bad day, and it’s very easy to get pent up when it comes to perceived hypocrisy on the part of our MPs. I am glad that Mr Harris has exposed the contradictions in my own standards.

    Of course, no-one should be prosecuted for posting or distributing a Youtube version of a video without understanding the vagaries of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. As a practical matter, all that will happen is the video is removed, or that the poster will lose their Youtube account. But what makes it OK to distribute using a site owned by Google, but not to send a friend an MP3 (or a mixtape)? Not to mention, the most comprehensive and unbiased studies I am aware of show that (admittedly, in Canada and America) that heavy file sharers generally buy more music too. See http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2347/125/ for a good analysis of one such study. The wholesale conversion of ISPs from mere common carriers of data to judge, jury and executioner on copyright issues is a very slippery slope, leading to the decimation of network neutrality. The “copyright infringement is theft” mantra is grating. Every time you watch a DVD or film in the cinema you have to sit through a minute of this nonsense. The blurring between civil and criminal violations is quite disingenuous.

    But there are more philosophical issues too. Copyright law is not only moving in an anti-consumer direction (which is a small, but important, electoral issue) but also an anti-creator direction. In an age when there is no cost to remixing and so many wonderful creations ensue (see, for example, http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts5-I3We3bo), is it fair to talk about 70 year term limits (or even indefinite limits)? Is it fair to slap draconian digital “rights” management on everything?

    Is the purpose of copyright to merely to give some protection to creators, or as an endless profit centre? Unfortunately too many legislators around the world are in favour of the latter – the most glaring court case being Eldred vs Ashcroft in the US Supreme Court, where the profit motive theory won. I disagree with this profoundly. How can you honestly feel sorry for Elton John or Cliff Richards because something they have been milking for decades is now available for others to remix at their will? Or for Disney, who lobby for endless term 10 year individual term extensions from Congress to weasel their way around the intent of the Constitution just so ancient versions of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie don’t fall into the public domain?

    Surely it would be more sensible to have an automatic 20 year term, followed by the creator having to pay increasingly large fees every 5 or 10 years if they wish to renew their copyright? This, is of course, dreaming, as the vested interests are so powerful. But one of the most frustrating regular annoyances in an academic context is to need a relatively rare book, and to find it’s out of print. The same is true of videogames, where lifespans are measured in years, not decades, and abandonware is a huge problem for fans.

    Note the “fair dealings” section of British copyright law is terribly vague, which only allows a portion of a copyrighted work to be used for research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. It is plausible that Mr Harris’ use fell under the ‘review’ provision (of course, it SHOULD fall under ‘criticism’, but that’s another matter entirely ;-)). The lack of clarity and selective enforcement of copyright law makes it a minefield.

    Anyway, this was meant to be a short comment trying to explain some of the undercurrents and inequities that led to my immature outburst… I obviously failed on the “short” account.. the fundamental point, I think, was that we have reached the point where something so innocuous as posting videos of very bad Christmas songs at Christmas is technically illegal on the basis of 20 year old copyright law – which is patently ridiculous 😉

  10. Surely you must admit that a fair use exemption would be nice Tom, wouldn’t it? And have you any opinion on the apparent dumping of Gowers reccomendation that copyright terms should not be extended?

    In an environment where consumers are being sued directly for copyright infringement in their hundreds if not thousands an MP posting copyrighted material to their blog will inevitably draw comment.

  11. wibbler

    P.S. Mike Rouse – my reading of (British) copyright law is that what you said is not true. Distribution is distribution, whether the initial illegal “making available” was done by yourself or a third party. What is true is that the third party also breached the Youtube site policy which they agreed to.

    The analogy (not exact) would be like a third party photocopying a whole textbook illegally; you then photocopy the photocopy and pass it round to your friends.

    It is true that in America the DMCA provides a mechanism for copyright owners to have their work removed from common sites. Generally this aspect is a good thing, because of the “safe harbor” it provides sites like Youtube. However, generally, the DMCA is a very bad law. The abuse carried out under its name is shocking.

    Hmmm… I didn’t mean to get so drawn into this, but I suppose it’s of my own making! But now work beckons. Adios all.

  12. Mark

    Two thoughts: (1) credit to Wibbler for apologising for orginal tone, (2) I think there is a point in all this, which is that if an MP, along with many others, finds it sensible to do something that’s illegal, shouldn’t the MP also look to change the law?

  13. Christmas Past

    This version:

    Is provided by copyright holder – so perhaps everyone should stop throwing their toys out of the pram.

  14. For some reason I can’t embed that version of the video.

  15. Wibbler,

    Thanks for your response. As far as I am aware, the uploader confirms their video is not infringing copyright at the point of upload. There is also this audio-swap facility on YouTube.

    So, my point is, how is somebody who wishes to embed the video in their blog supposed to know if the video is actually legitimate or not?

    When I was working at 18 Doughty Street Talk TV the video site Daily Motion made us sign to confirm that every video we uploaded was of entirely our own making or we had correct copyright permissions. In addition, if we submitted a video that we wanted to display an icon to show it was genuine the individual video was briefly checked by their people in France. We were then awarded with our little icon to show users that our videos were genuine.

    Perhaps YouTube and other sites should start following a similar procedure so that users will know what’s certified genuine and what’s possibly in breach.

  16. //…in response to my posting a YouTube video of Mariah Carey (since removed)…//

    How timely this is, with copyright once again likely to be extended, and how utterly predictable and sad your response to possible copyright infringement has been. I’ll gloss over what you were thinking in posting these videos (did you feel like a criminal or not?) and instead say why it’s important that you should think about the implications more deeply.

    First of all you (and other MPs etc.) need to understand where much of the swivel-eyed libertarianism which angrily pollutes your comments stems from and, in part, it’s this: we’re all being told to compete globally on the one hand whilst being held back by archaic practices which stifle creativity and innovation on the other. The law is in conflict with necessity, and this is creating extremist reactions. Deal with it!

    These words, for instance are copyright, yet can be quoted and copied instantly, just as that video can be copied and distributed instantly. Indeed the very nature of blogging demands that what you or I write is copied and distributed. If you were the creative type you could have done a mash-up of that video, thus creating a new (and perhaps better) version, and people do this not just in video or music, but in all kinds of things. (The biggest innovation wasn’t the wheel, it was the axle!) Yet for some reason a book, film, or some music is to be protected from such innovation for 70 years – longer than the artists will likely live. That must change!

    Professor Lessig explains why far better than I: http://lessig.blip.tv/#1447109

    You’ve the longest Christmas break from Parliament in ages coming up, perhaps you could spend part of it reading the book ‘Free culture’: http://videolectures.net/ccs05_lessig_pbfcll/ (available for free under a Creative Commons license).

    The copyright of culture might not seem important, but it goes to the heart of the new globalised economies. If manufacturing is to go where labour is cheapest, why not services too? And indeed, where they can be, those too are moving away from the likes of the UK. So what’s the future if capital can export jobs to the lowest cost-market and the law hampers creativity and innovation? Doesn’t it make sense to legislate to free up information (a fair use law would be a start) and provide the opportunity for anybody to build on what already exists by reforming patent law?

    In a digital age, is it still viable to protect creators of culture or the creator of a new technology (which could be a website for instance) for longer than the creator might live? The more you think about questions like that, the more you come to realise that the legislators are holding back the progress (and development) of new technologies. But you do need to think about it!

    Here’s an argument which I read recently which relates to the bail-out of the US motor industry, just so you can see that it has a wider implication than just ‘culture’: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/opinion/10friedman.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print
    ( Ironically the NY Times has now hidden this article behind a login system, if you can’t read it got to here http://www.bugmenot.com/view/nytimes.com )

  17. So who’s right – wibbler or Mike Rouse? There’s only one way to find out…. FIGHT!

  18. Do you allow the word “tosser” on your blog?

  19. Depends on the context. Has it got through without my noticing, or do you intend to use it?

  20. Chris' Wills

    Just a thought.

    If a video, song or book is out of copyright in one jurisdiction it could be posted legally to YouTube, is it legal to watch it in another jurisdiction where it is still under copyright?

  21. wibbler

    Mr Harris,

    It is interesting as a footnote that the reason you can’t embed that video is because, as it says in the little box on the right hand side, embedding is disabled by request – Sony BMG don’t WANT you to embed it.

    I am sure you agree this is a stupid position, but they are legally entitled to it.

    Mike Rouse,

    It’s generally quite clear by looking at the user name and company logos (on YouTube, at least) if a video is posted by a record company or just a fan. Ridiculous that we have to make the distinction, and this doesn’t cover smaller artists or labels, but…

  22. John

    I agree Tom, how pathetic. Although, that’s the world we live in now. Intellectual property holders, particularly those who have organised themselves into a cartel (read: pretty much ALL of them) now have the force of criminal law to bully people, and bully people they do.

    The “pathetic behaviour” that you’ve been subject to is something all too common nowadays. Just be glad it was a piss ant rather than the BPI looking for more publicity for their less than worthwhile cause.

  23. On the bright side though, it has brought the awful ‘best Christmas number 1’s from the past 2000’ years to a juddering halt.

    every cloud and all that.

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