Decision 2012….


I am in a bit of a pickle.  As a creative, one of the things that concerns me is copyright.  Over the years we have seen it take a beating – people taking liberties with it, rights grabs from big corporations, yada yada yada.  It makes you like big companies (a.k.a. concervatives) less because of how much of a beating respect for copyright takes.  For instance, take a look at the recent case from Apple – they are being sued by a photographer because they used her image beyond the scope of the licensing they purchased.  The full story is here.  She was smart though – her work was registered, and she had gone through an agency to represent her, and when usage went beyond the scope, she is fighitng to protect her copyright.  Yay for her, boo for Apple.  So that means I should shy away from the Romney platform, right?  (Big business and all…)

On the flip side, as a photographer, I am also a small business owner.  This means that I take deductions on my taxes for using part of my house.  I take partial deductions on the mortgage, utilities, internet, phone, and car.  Heck, I even am entitled to take deductions on equipment (depreciation and all that).  It’s just good business sense.  The money I save from that has found its way into a retirement fund (a pittance really, but still – I’ve invested in the stock market).

So, in that vein, the conservative platform usually will try to reward investors by limiting capital gains taxes, while the other side of the aisle tends to prefer to tax those profits I’ve made on investments.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think I should have to pay taxes on my investments.  After all, I’ve paid taxes on my income.  I then take that income and invest it, why should I be taxed again because I happened to make a smart investment that made money?  I don’t think so.  So, that means I should shy away from the Democratic platform then, right?

It’s really an odd position to be in, because I don’t really identify with either party – either Republican or Democrat.  I consider myself more of a libertarian – conservative on fiscal issues, liberal on social issues.  Neither party really represents me.  Has anyone ever thought of how many people fit into this niche?  One where your interests really aren’t represented by either party?  I am thinking now about anyone who identifies as either an Independent, Libertarian, Tea Party, Green Party, or any other party not represented in the coming election.  Who are we supposed to vote for?  After all – we need to vote, right?  it’s our civic duty!  What if neither party really has our interests at heart?  Don’t vote?  That’s a tough pill to swallow.

In my mind, if we don’t participate, we really don’t have a right to complain, and I’ve got some complaining to do!  That means I have to vote!  But who gets the nod?

It’s definitely a quagmire and there’s obviously a lot more to it than that, but when you look at it from the perspective of a photographer – there are points that make me lean toward Obama, and others that make me lean back toward Romney.  I keep hearing that it’s a critical election, so this time more than ever, my vote may count (I live in a swing state).  I’d love to hear others thoughts on this.  Very few photographers talk politics, and it’s probably worth discussing.  You don’t necessarily have to tell me who you are going to vote for – but what issues are big on your mind these days?  Raising cost of living?  Taxes?  Copyright?  Gas prices?  There’s a lot to consider, and I know the presidency doesn’t really control all of it, but something tells me this election will matter more, and I want to make the right decision.

Help me decide who to vote for in 2012…

Have you made a decision on who to vote for tomorrow?

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How Long Should Copyright Last?

Copyright law - Parody Video

As I train school districts around the country on how to digitize everything into computer libraries, the attendees always start asking about Fair Use, Copyright, and Licensing questions.  While we can easily figure out what the current laws are, often times, there are vagaries and questions that surround legal concepts that have no easy answers.  When cautioning a school recently to stay away from digitizing any of their Disney content, one of them shared a video with me that is something of a parody on Disney – and brings up an interesting question for discussion:

So, while the video was masterfully compiled of all these snippets from Disney movies, and brings up good points about the current laws, the overall message is that copyright has gone overboard!  They say through the compilation that Copyright used to last only 14 years.  More recently, copyright has been extended to the lifetime of the owner +70 years and companies retain copyright for over 100 years.  The message given here is that “there seems to be no limitation on how long copyright can last.”  Instead, the message is that converting work to the public domain (free for use and derivative works) is an important .  A couple lines are rather interesting:

1.  Having to pay someone for use of their copyright protected work is all about money…”I prefer to think of it as capitalism”

2.  Hear that sound?  It’s the sound of your freedom fluttering out the window…

3.  The Public Domain is necessary for a living, thriving society

4.  Copyright seems to be getting longer and there seems to be no limitation on how long copyright lasts

I started shifting in my stance a little – because initially I was laughing quite a bit at the parody (and at the skill/time it took to produce the video), to realizing that some of the sentiments meant I would lose ownership of my own work if some of these ideas were to come to pass.  Conversely, it also struck me that I use a lot of Public Domain and Open Sourced content myself.  Is it fair/right to sit on both sides of this debate?  Something in me says no.  So, I asked myself the question?  How long should someone retain copyright over their work before it becomes available for public use without compensation?  Wow!  I’d never really thought about the number.  A couple numbers came to mind:  Does 14 sound long enough?  What about that other one – the lifetime + 70 rule?  Maybe something in the middle?  The lifetime of the owner?  Perhaps 50 years?  75 years? 25 years?  There’s no easy answer, is there?  What do you think?  How long should  copyright last?

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Follow Up: Radio Station Photo Theft

Email exchange #6

Earlier today, I posted the article about a radio station stealing images from a competitor station.  After publishing the post, I did my usual bit, tweet the post, and in this case, sent a note to the station manager on the issue, on the off-chance I would get a reply.

To my surprise I did!  The exchange was thoroughly shocking though – first he said that they never do such things, but by the third email he basically was reduced to a “no comment” status.  Kind of implies something in my mind, but what about yours?  Here’s the exchange:

Email exchange #1

Email exchange #2

Email exchange #3

Email exchange #4

Email exchange #5

Email exchange #6

Email exchange #7What do you think?  Is that “no comment” then silence basically saying “we don’t want to talk about this?”  Are they burying their heads in the sand, hoping it will go away?  What about the other parties involved?  Jason Aldean?  KYGO?  It’s a pretty interesting ball of wax, and I am wondering what the eventual outcome will be?  Is the photographer just out of luck?  Should The Wolf be penalized?  Was removing the images enough of a response?