Photo by Kathryn Bachen, used without permission.
From The Western Front, Monday, November 17, 2008

The LiveJournal Abuse Team has contacted me, and informed me that my LJ entry with the photo of me with the megaphone has been suspended, because of a copyright infringement complaint:

Dear user kevynjacobs,

We have received a report, properly formatted under the provisions set forth by United States law, indicating that your entry located at [] violates the copyright of another. As such, we have suspended this entry to disable access to this material.

If you feel that this report is in error or that your use of the material falls under one of the categories permitted under copyright law, you are entitled to file a counter-notification, also under the provisions of US law; please contact us for information on how to do this. Filing a counter-notification indicates that you are willing to defend yourself in court against a charge of copyright infringement, and you may be bound by civil and possibly criminal penalties if you are found liable.

LiveJournal Abuse Prevention Team

I have written back, telling LJ that I wish to file a counter-notification under the DMCA, which means they must put the entry back up. My rationale is that I have posted it under Fair Use doctrine, which trumps copyright. Which means, it goes back up, and if The Western Front wishes to continue this game, they will have to take me to court now. Which I would welcome, because I know I'll win under Fair Use.

Incidentally, they also DMCA'd the image on my Facebook profile. I'm going to let that one slide for now, in the spirit of picking my battles. The LiveJournal entry is an easier case to prove Fair Use on.

And now I say to The Western Front: Your move.

The image you see to the right is an image of me taken from The Western Front, at the Prop 8 Gay Marriage protest in Bellingham this past month. (It is possible that Flickr will take it down as DMCA flagged, so I may need another server to host the image, preferably outside of the U.S.)

By posting it here, I have intentionally, with forethought and contempt of copyright law, taken a stand for bloggers everywhere.
Click for copyleft drama )
Cory Doctorow, esteemed editor of BoingBoing, has made the case again that "intellectual property" is a wrong-minded idea -- You can't "own" knowledge, ideas or data:

"Intellectual property" is a silly euphemism

I've been making essentially this same argument since the early 1990s. The current system of copyright law is untenable, because it is based on the idea of "scarcity," just as traditional property law is. But when you can instantly make a perfect copy of something, without diminishing the original, then the idea of "property" just falls apart. There's no scarcity at all. This is why the music, movie and publishing industries have been scrambling to cope with an old business model that was built on scarcity, distribution and access control. But the rug has been pulled out from under this model by the Internet and computers. The law has just not yet caught up, and in the meantime, we get stupid videos that compare downloading movies to "stealing," and a lot of screaming about "pirates" and "theft."

Believe it or not, it wasn't just the Internet that started me thinking down this path: It was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Specifically, replicator technology. If you can make a perfect copy of an object, down to the molecule, what happens to the value of the original? The value given by scarcity is gone. Let's imagine that I make a perfect, down-to-the-molecule copy of the Mona Lisa, so that even an expert couldn't tell them apart. Have I diminished the value of the original? Isn't it the actual creative work that da Vinci put into it what makes it valuable, not the physical matter of the painting itself?

Mark my words, someday, when we invent perfect replicator technology, human beings are going to have this same argument over property rights.


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