Sketching is copying; copying is stealing. Coming soon: no breathing.


This may be old news for art students, but for the rest of us it's still kind of amazing to see cultural institutions like museums buying into the "copying is stealing" myth by prohibiting sketching.

In some cases, the copying restrictions are imposed by a lender — it would be interesting to know how often the lender imposes restrictions on works that are not under copyright, or that would not otherwise be restricted.

Nina Paley collected some examples after the jump. Know any others?

EFF "Hall of Shame" Highlights Copyright Used as Censorship

EFF Hall of Shame   censorship

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just unveiled their Takedown Hall of Shame, which highlights examples of copyright law being used to suppress political commentary and creative expression. Many of the examples involve abuses of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose takedown provisions encourage Internet hosting companies to remove content on the mere assertion of infringement by a copyright holder.

The EFF's list focuses on corporate takedown notices, but it's important to understand that it's not only corporations that suppress speech via copyright law. The copyright monopoly system encourages people to do it to each other too; we've collected some examples of that.

So what's the solution?

The real solution is radical reform of copyright law (there are plenty of alternatives). But even without that, there's still an easy solution: fix the DMCA to have a penalty for delivering improper takedown notices. Say, a penalty of five years off the copyright term of the covered work, for each wrong notice sent about that work. Content monopolists would start being a lot more careful if they had something to lose when they get a takedown notice wrong.

At the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference, Nov. 5-7

AMIA Conference 2009   panel

UPDATE: slides from the presentation are now available: problem-of-open-media.pdf or problem-of-open-media.odp (OpenDocument Presentation format).

Any copyright reformers in St. Louis? I'll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) in St. Louis from Nov. 5th-7th, as will board members Jeff Ubois and Brewster Kahle.

On Saturday, Nov. 7th, from 10:45-11:45am, I'll be on a panel entitled The Problem of Open Media, organized by Jack Brighton of Illinois Public Media, with Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Library & Archives), Suzanne M. Fischer (the Henry Ford), and Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television).

It might be clarifying to call the panel "The Problem of Closed Media" or "The Problem of Monopolized Content"... but then, perhaps that's exactly the sort of discussion to save for the panel! It should be a good session. Here's the description:


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