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errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 8, 2009


er⋅ra⋅ta
  /ɪˈrɑtə, ɪˈreɪ-, ɪˈrætə/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [i-rah-tuh, i-rey-, i-rat-uh]
–noun
1. pl. of erratum.
2. a list of errors and their corrections inserted, usually on a separate page or slip of paper, in a book or other publication; corrigenda.
Origin:
1625–35

Usage note:
Errata is originally the plural of the singular Latin noun erratum. Like many such borrowed nouns (agenda; candelabra), it came by the mid-17th century to be used as a singular noun, meaning “a list of errors or corrections to be made (in a book).”

–dictionary.com

analogy revision

It has been impressed upon me that it is better to create an additional blog post than to edit one which has already been published. So here are the (is the?) errata for A.C.T.A. is Bad.

I’ve had a few verbal comments about the two analogies I presented in respect of the Chicago woman arrested for trying to record “Twilight” on digital camera. The point I was initially trying to make was that the wrongheaded copyright laws are causing minor infractions to be unjustly treated as very large and serious crimes.

However it’s been pointed out to me that this woman wasn’t even committing an infraction so much as being a byproduct of daily life, a happenstance. Looked at in that light, she wasn’t in the wrong at all. At worst, she broke a theatre rule, which at most should have gotten her kicked out, not sent to jail.   So it was an error on my part to even suggest that she was legally in the wrong at all, as in the case of a teenager with a joint. Although smoking pot is only considered a minor crime, it is still clearly illegal in Canada. So, I needed to craft a more accurate analogy (as follows):

This is the equivalent of charging a teenager who has walked through a cloud of marijuana smoke as a drug dealer.

a second correction due to imprecision

A lack of clarity is more to blame for the problems with the second analogy than error. But the point is to communicate an idea, and if done too broadly it can result in a spectacular failure. The problem was with this:

“the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store.”

In my mind I was picturing an innocent toddler in a stroller passing the lollipops (fiendishly placed at stroller height) and naturally the angelic baby reaches out for the temptation. The intent was to produce an illustration of a guileless infraction, entered into without any awareness of wrongdoing.

However it has been brought to my attention that “child” can just as easily bring to mind a practiced semi-professional young offender, so if that’s how you read it you’ll go away with a rather different idea than I intended, so that analogy doesn’t achieve the desired result.   (It is also an excellent argument for beta-readers.)

From a purely common sense point of view, there is no way that the product of this “infringing” recording would be commercially marketable to even the most die hard Twilight fan, so clearly there can be no demonstrable intent to bootleg the film, making the very charges a gross miscarriage of justice.

accidental recording

When I was writing the original I didn’t get into another area which will certainly lead to trouble for innocent citizens, because these absurdly punitive laws also criminalize accidental recording.

Since video cameras first appeared on the market it has always been extraordinarily easy to record accidental footage. I can’t tell you how many hours of video I have inadvertently recorded over the years of feet, floors, sky, or, my personal favorite, more than an hour of the zippered interior of the camera bag.

This is accidental footage, and it may very well contain inadvertent copyright infringement. When you are not aware that the camera is recording you could easily be playing a music CD.

One of my saddest moments as a videographer was when my son was spontaneously invited on stage to perform with an amazing local musical group at a Canada Day celebration. Although I stood on a picnic table (quite likely annoying the people sitting there) to record my child’s 15 minutes of fame, I was SURE I was recording. However, looking at the tape at home although there is an entire inadvertent documentary on the doings of the ants in the grass, the one thing that was NOT recorded was my child’s stage debut. (Fortunately the local paper took a picture, but still.)

Because it is as easy to not record when you want to as it is to record when you don’t want to.

Digital cameras are doing video so well now, but sometimes it is even easier to accidentally record on them.

What we need to realize is that the companies who are creating this technology we are using to record our daily lives are quite often the very same ones who want to send us to jail for what they call copyright infringement.

At this point, it is looking more and more dangerous for us to go to the movies. It will certainly be much safer to not buy or play commercial DVDs in our homes. After all, we might end up in jail as a result.

It is certainly safer to alter our habits and watch movies and listen to music produced by companies who do not want to put us in jail.

Movies like Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues or legal free music downloads available from the Pirate Party of Canada’s Canadian Pirate Tracker

Because 3 Strikes Laws & secret ACTA treaties are nothing more than a declaration of war on consumers.

chocolate frog*

With all of the bad copyright things going on, today Michael Geist’s blog provided Canadians with a most amazing chocolate frog:

Canadian Recording Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit:

“ The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.”

Like many of the people who commented on Mr. Geist’s home page, my attitude is that it looks good on them, and I for one expect the court to NOT go easy on them. As a cynic I expect the defense they will drag out is the “we can’t afford to pay what we owe or we’ll have to go out of business” plea. And sadly the judge/jury will probably fall for that.

Yet every one of those corporations are Canadian “branch offices” so there is no reason the mother companies couldn’t be convinced to contribute. Since these guys give no quarter to non-commercial infringement, as deliberate systemic commercial infringement they should get none, otherwise our government is condoning bootlegging which should be illegal and prosecuted.

Personally, I would rather see these corporations put into receivership if necessary. All the copyrights they hold could revert to living creators, the assets can be sold off, perhaps at fire sale prices to the technicians who actually did the hard work of pressing disks and distribution.

Maybe this is just what we need to jump start the digital music industry. Artists who have established a following can enter equitable agreements with the music distribution companies who will not own the soul (or copyright) of the creators in the manner of a “company store”. Because after all its better for our talented musicians and songwriters to do the work they are suited for. This could be the beginnings of a GOOD music industry, and a celebration of Canadian musical culture not seen in this country since the 1930’s. Bravo.

[*Chocolate Frog:   Sorry, no actual chocolate here, or frogs either for that matter. My family watches the end credits of movies all the way to the end, and are sometimes rewarded for doing this by way of a bonus scene at the end, usually something to make me smile. After reading the Harry Potter books we started calling this a “Chocolate Frog” because it was an unexpected extra.]

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6 Responses to “errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD”

  1. […] 2009 #38 A.C.T.A. is BAD #39 errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD #40 A.C.T.A. is still BAD #41 fingers crossed: competitive broadband #42 Wind Mobile: The […]

  2. […] 2009 #38 A.C.T.A. is BAD #39 errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD #40 A.C.T.A. is still BAD #41 fingers crossed: competitive broadband #42 Wind Mobile: The […]

  3. […] if the secret A.C.T.A. treaty is passed, it is a real life demonstration of what is happening right now in the US under the existing American DMCA. A young woman went to jail for the crime of recording her […]

  4. […] if the secret A.C.T.A. treaty is passed, it is a real life demonstration of what is happening right now in the US under the existing American DMCA. A young woman went to jail for the crime of recording her […]

  5. […] errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD […]

  6. […] errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD « Stop Usage Based Billing […]

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