When copyright becomes a weapon

Yes, it’s Saturday, and theoretically I should be pushing ConVent, but there’s too much rumbling behind the scenes (no it wasn’t the curry) for me to do that. What’s the point of me trying to promote something when there are multiple groups around the world doing their best to take control of legislative and other rule-making processes to force me out of the market altogether?

And yes, I do mean out. I don’t fit into nice convenient categories. I’m not “like” any known bestsellers. My books not only cross genre boundaries, they take the piss, and tell political correctness to take a hike – and that’s when I’m trying to be polite. I can’t help it. I’ve tried to write “standard” and it twists on me every time. Which means that for me Amazon and other independent outlets are my ‘voice’. That’s why I like Naked Reader so much. Amanda doesn’t try to make me fit some preconceived idea of what the market should be.

So, what’s going on? Well… Canada is trying to push their own version of SOPA/PIPA through. Meanwhile, the ACTA treaty makes SOPA/PIPA look like pussycats. And if the US legislature actually endorses it, it becomes US law. Then of course we have the epic whine of the RIAA president in the NYT – which in that very same issue was plagiarizing someone else’s work. It’s not a coincidence that MegaUpload (which has a ridiculous number of perfectly legal uses and just happened to be a major sponsor of the anti SOPA/PIPA movement) was taken down within a week of the SOPA/PIPA protests nuking the current iteration of those pieces of crap.

Make no mistake, these laws and treaties are not about “protecting” anybody’s rights. They’re about enshrining the power of the RIAA, the MPAA and the Big Six publishers (who aren’t really six, but what the heck) to decide what music, art, film and books we get to see. They’re about keeping creators dependent on their masters for whatever piddly handouts said masters choose to offer. Copyright law in the US is already abusive without making it worse: if you happen to be disabled and you want to be able to use text to speech to listen to your legally purchased ebook on your legally purchased ebook reader, you have to break the law unless the publisher has been kind enough to permit you to access a text to speech function (most of them don’t). If you want to watch a DVD movie on your Linux computer, you need an illegal decoder to do it – because there are no legal ones available. The list goes on. And on. When all-region DVD players started becoming massively popular, the movie industry changed their region locking to fail if the player didn’t have that region and only that region set. The switch to digital broadcasting had nothing to do with quality of picture – it was all about being able to control what people did with the broadcast. These are the people who tried to ban cassette recorders, tried to ban VCRs, tried to ban CD recorders, and tried to ban DVD recorders. Why should anyone think anything has changed?

And no, publishers aren’t any different. If they were, authors wouldn’t keep finding ebooks on sale when the publisher no longer has the rights to publish that book in any form. Of course, the author never gets a penny from these mystery ebooks that are back on sale within days of the author asking them to be taken down because the rights have reverted. Nor would authors get statements claiming that they sold fewer copies in a reporting period than Nielsen Bookscan reports for the same period (which is impossible: Bookscan numbers represent unarguable sales. They just don’t represent ALL the sales). Authors would also not find their statements from multiple different publishers in multiple different genres reporting damn near identical numbers.

It’s all about power. The Internet has given many of us much more freedom to pursue our careers without needing a massive chain of middlemen (agent, publisher, printer, distributor, bookstore at minimum), and the legacy media is terrified. They’ve lost their absolute lock on both what we’re able to access, and on information about what people buy. The years of fraud they’ve perpetrated on the general public are ending, and they’re desperately trying to recapture those “golden years” by making it physically impossible for anyone but them to access any means of distribution.

I’m sure there are people thinking I’m some kind of conspiracy nut. If you do… just wait. So far the longest any comment like this I’ve made has taken to be proved out is five years. I don’t think I’ll have to wait that long for this. The evidence is already piled halfway from here to the moon.

10 comments

  1. I bought an Eminem DVD yesterday. My son said ‘I’ve got all of those songs on my IPOD’. I said “I don’t mind paying for his music, he’s worth it. And I would expect to be paid too”, and I left it at that. Hope he thinks.

    1. Hi there,

      Good for you for buying it in a different format. The Powers That Be would have preferred it if there wasn’t an ipod to put them on, and failing that would love to lock it down so they can’t be moved to another ipod when the old one dies.

  2. It ain’t paranoia when they ARE out to get ya ….

    I keep thinking, the more I learn about this, that for the first time in my life I’ve had *good* timing for something. If I ever do manage to write something good enough for people to notice, it, it’s starting to look like this festering mess will have blown open by that time, and I will find myself trying to push my stuff in the new environment — whatever that turns out to be. But in the meantime, it royally stinks to watch authors I love reading getting screwed by the Old Guard …

    1. Stephen,

      Amen and then some. People like Sarah and Dave have been screwed over by the old guard who are sure that the things they write couldn’t possibly sell. I haven’t advanced enough to be screwed by them, so that’s a bonus.

  3. Lessee…legacy media in one hand, far right GOPers in the other hand…smoosh ’em together and…

    Can’t tell the diff. 🙂

    1. Hi, janinmi,

      Welcome to the Mad Geniuses. Just as a FYI, we try to avoid overtly partisan politics here, since we’ve got readers and writers from all over.

      That said, “broad-based bipartisan support in Congress and the Senate”. Look it up: it’s a well-known trend.

  4. Ah nuts, my original comment got et…Apologies re: the political stuff. Point taken.

    I’m not understanding your 2nd paragraph. I know the phrase you quoted and what its face value is, but I’m not getting how it relates to my comment. I’ve been known to be quite dense, though, so chalk it up to that. 🙂

    I forget how I came across MGC but I like it a lot. Good info, thoughtfully written essays/posts, highly informative. I look forward to reading more of the same.

    1. janinmi,

      The second paragraph is a sideways reference to the way that a whole lot of politicians from both sides of the fence tend to support big power grabs.

      I’m glad you enjoy it here. Do keep commenting – there’s a lot of useful and interesting information to be found in the archives (don’t go in there without a lead rope and a guide. There’s some scary stuff in those archives!)

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