Copyright, Making Bank, & Trojans

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 2 Comments

Several months ago when my blog was still at Gadget’s Airstream Chronicles you probably noticed a small change with my photos.  I started popping a copyright on the bottom corner of the shots.  Some readers may know why, and others probably don’t, so I’ll fill you in.

No, I didn’t think my photos were so great that everyone was going to steal them.  As a matter of fact I like to know that folks like my shots and link to them from their sites.  But there comes a limit…..

See, a friend contacted me regarding a photograph I’d taken during the snowy months here in AZ.  A caution sign along a snow covered dirt road.  It was my favorite shot of a particular day when I was roaming around a set of mountains some distance from home.  Pretty cool shot!

My friend got in touch with me to give me a heads up about a newsletter.  He asked me if I recognized any photography in that newsletter.  I did.  It was my photo.

Pretty cool, a corporate newsletter used one of my photos!  But there was a problem.

No credit to me for the shot.  Further, it went along with a poem in the newsletter, and most any reader would think the photo was shot by the writer.  Other items in the newsletter gave appropriate credit to photographers, but not the one with my shot.

After that moment I decided I’d better note my shots as mine.  Not being stingey, not discouraging sharing.  Just wanting to ensure that my work doesn’t suddenly appear as someone else’s.

There’s a reason this story comes up today.  See, I had an interesting discussion with a few friends tonight, and it got me thinking about copyright issues.  The specific point of our conversation…..Free music downloads.

Now before a firestorm of comments come in at the end of this post, keep in mind, my opinion here.  Just hear me out.

A friend had an issue with their computer this evening, so I took a look.  It took no time to see that they had a trojan on their system.  I also found that they were using Limewire.  These two items were the starting point for our conversation, and for my thoughts about copyright.

For those who don’t know what Limewire is I’ll give you the quick rundown.  Limewire is a Peer to Peer music sharing program.  You put the program on your computer and you can browse other people’s music collections on their computers (provided they use Limewire too).  So, it’s a way to “share” music across the Internet.  It’s also a wonderful way to get viruses from the types of folks who want to put viruses on your computer.

So, back to our story….

The friend’s system was clearly compromised.  Was it music sharing that did it?  Maybe, I didn’t delve too deep.  Not enough time to clean the whole system, just an initial look.

I explained the problems with “file sharing” to my friend.  Opening your computer to outside attacks, viruses, trojans, spyware, and finally, violating the copyright of the creators of the music.  That part of the conversation took us down the “now standard path.”

CD’s and music cost too much.  I don’t want to pay that much for music.  The musicians make huge money for their songs.  Downloading from somebody else isn’t so bad, after all, the musicians make too much.

I have to ask the question.  When did it become a bad thing to do well in this country?  Star atheletes make huge money, high end CEOs make the big bucks, Congress gets paid pretty well not to mention a cool pension and health care program.  Has success become a sin here?  I thought we all aspire to do better in our lives…..

Our conversation went back and forth.  Fortunately, my friend is an artist and I could relate an easy concept.  “Would you like it if people stopped buying your work, and instead shared your designs?”  The answer came very easily and quickly.  “No.”

Also, right behind the intial answer came a few explanations of how it was different.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t different.  If at some point their designs become super popular and they start “making bank” other people might justify taking their ideas and reproducing them.

You know, 7/11 makes pretty good money.  More than they need.  I wonder if that means that I could just go get a Slurpee without paying for it.  After all, they do make a lot of money!

Finally I latched on to one more argument that I think works very well.  Stephen King.

No, I didn’t start talking about spooky books and movies.  Although that would have made a great distraction from the conversation.  I hate copyright conversations.  Folks always seem to have mental loop holes about intellectual property rights.  The time the loopholes disappear is when their intellectual property gets stolen…..

See, Stephen King is a writing machine.  That guy cranks out books like nobody’s business.  And he makes huge money.  Not many authors get to the level he’s at.  And seriously, he’s got plenty of money.  So, would it be ok to take one of his books, scan it into a computer and start “sharing” it with others?  How is that different from music sharing?  He does make a ton of money, more than he’ll ever need……..

Wrapping up my little soap box moment

In the end lots of points were made.  I wasn’t picking on my friend, but copyright stuff has a special place in my mind.  Publishing, writing, photography.  All the things I do lately have intellectual property rights issues associated.  So the music sharing debates get me pretty easily.

What I can say as a certainty about music sharing is simple.  It is a violation of copyright, and it is therefore stealing.  Justify all you want regarding the income of the artists, it’s still violating law here.  It’s also bad for your computer, as you open yourself to a host of viruses and threats.

You know, now that I think about all of this I realize something.  This debate always comes up when people ask me to look at their virus ridden computers.  And I always seem to find one peer to peer sharing program or another.  Hmmmmm…..pattern.  🙂

Please don’t hit me with comments about musicians making too much.  Not relevant, and there’s no real debate to it.  Just needed a soap box moment, that’s all!  🙂

Comments 2

  1. It is a shame that some folks think it is bad to do well. It boils down to plain old envy… and that’s a deadly sin… We should be celebrating success…

    FYI, I live in a building filled with famous songwriters. These folks work hard… And not all of them are rich. Just my two cents… Many are just ordinary folks alike you and me.

  2. – People who use limewire deserve whatever they get. 😛

    – Muscians do make too much money (as do lots of people), but that should create envy not piracy

    – It is wrong to steal, but I do it anyway. The irony is that I generally support people who release titles under Creative Commons. Donate $20 to those guys, but steal Metallica’s new album (figuratively. I would never actually download Metallica because their music aint my cup of tea), yeah that’s me. It’s a crazy mixed up (and often hypocritical) world we live in today.

Leave a Reply