Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Coffee With Mentors > Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes

Old 04-05-2012   #51
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
No, in fact that is not what I am saying. I am saying that there is a conceptual difference between the act where A takes X from B and B then no longer has X (stealing), and the act where A takes X from B and then A and B each have X (copyright infringement).
The notion of theft is not, and never has been, restricted to physical possession. These arguments were played out in the 1700s, when artists like William Hogarth had to fight knockoff merchants who stole his work and used exactly the same arguments.

In that case, they were trying to argue that new technology, ie engraving, rendered old concepts of ownership - what we'd all IP - redundant. That argument was invalid then, and it's invalid today.

I should also say I've heard all these arguments dozens of times from people trying to steal from me. People will use any argument to make money or avoid paying out - but so far, they've always caved in and either paid me money or removed the offending work, because they ultimately have to recognise that lifting copyrighted material is theft.

(Incidentally, I'm not talking about photos lifted from websites, I wouldn't put anything crucial on there without it being watermarked up the jaxsie).
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #52
Sparrow
Stewart McBride
 
Sparrow's Avatar
 
Sparrow is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Perfidious Albion
Age: 62
Posts: 11,205
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
Yeah, and the idea that the law should make sense, totally overrated too.
Not to mention the cost of brining an action, geez ... £219 an hour for my solicitor, and god alone knows what the brief costs these days
__________________
Regards Stewart

Stewart McBride



You’re only young once, but one can always be immature.

flickr stuff
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #53
gdi
Registered User
 
gdi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: West-Central Connecticut
Posts: 2,383
It is understandable that people want to see support for their own position in the definitions of intellectual property and theft - thus the attempts to distinguish between "stealing" and "copyright infringement". People are free to make those arguments for their personal reasons.

But, and I speak only from the perspective of a non-lawyer in the US, the matter of whether "creations of the mind" are property in the eyes of the law is clearly settled - intellectual property does exist. And, the concept and definition of theft of intellectual property exists and is accepted legally. That is simply the way it is; it can be changed if enough people pressure their representatives (or vote in new ones) to support their position. Yes, they would be up against mega-corporations, but it can be done, just look at the SOPA/PIPA protests.

The same goes for the moral argument, everyone has to follow their own morals but one can't discount the moral argument out of hand. If you review the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights you will see that the concept is in Article 27:

"(1) Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."

So, it is clear that, based on common and practical definitions, intellectual property exists and can be stolen, and doing so can be considered immoral. Yes arguments an be made that the situation can and should be changed, but trying the redefine reality just doesn't hold water.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #54
rxmd
May contain traces of nut
 
rxmd's Avatar
 
rxmd is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Kyrgyzstan
Posts: 5,826
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
The notion of theft is not, and never has been, restricted to physical possession. These arguments were played out in the 1700s, when artists like William Hogarth had to fight knockoff merchants who stole his work and used exactly the same arguments.

In that case, they were trying to argue that new technology, ie engraving, rendered old concepts of ownership - what we'd all IP - redundant. That argument was invalid then, and it's invalid today.
I don't think I have to defend the notion of "physical possession" at all, since you just introduced yourself right there; a classic straw man argument.

Theft is usually pretty well defined. It usually means to permanently deprive someone else of property. Go look it up. Copyright infringement does not deprive you of property, after all the original of whatever gets copied it remains with you. Instead, it deprives you of some reasonable hope of future income. This is a conceptually different thing.

With theft, A takes X from B. B is left without X. The damage is X.
With copyright infringement, A takes a copy of X from B. Because it's a copy, B remains in possession of X as if nothing had happened. The damage incurred does not result from B being left without X, but from B being deprived of some possible income.
Note how the damage is not identical to the thing being taken.

It would probably be theft if I copied the image, then broke into your house and deleted all copies of it on your hard drives and took the negative.

I don't care who what how in the 18th century. It's the 21st century now and we have a legal concept of copyright infringement that is different from the legal concept of theft, for a reason. You are just being unclear in your terms.

Quote:
I should also say I've heard all these arguments dozens of times from people trying to steal from me.
Well now you are hearing this argument from me, and I'm not trying to steal from you. Consequently, you should probably stop considering the argument merely on grounds of your own assumptions about the evil intent of whoever brings it forth.
__________________
Bing! You're hypnotized!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #55
rxmd
May contain traces of nut
 
rxmd's Avatar
 
rxmd is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Kyrgyzstan
Posts: 5,826
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdi View Post
So, it is clear that, based on common and practical definitions, intellectual property exists and can be stolen, and doing so can be considered immoral. Yes arguments an be made that the situation can and should be changed, but trying the redefine reality just doesn't hold water.
Intellectual property being stolen implies that you then don't have it anymore, which is obviously not the case, hence the need for a distinction in terms. This is all the argument is about, not whether intellectual property exists or not or whoever makes which laws.
__________________
Bing! You're hypnotized!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #56
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 57
Posts: 17,475
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
It's no wonder really. There aren't that many forms of property that you can take and the owner keeps them anyway. There aren't many forms of "stealing" where the damage calculations are similarly hypothetical, as in based on the assumption that the "thief" would actually have bought the work, where this assumption itself is taken for granted in a completely unsubstantiated fashion.

Copyright infringement is convenience-driven - it occurs because it is so convenient to take things for free. If the only way to get your work was to pay for it, many "thieves" wouldn't take them to begin with, there would be no income, and hence there is no loss of income either, because zero minus zero is zero.

So no, "stealing" is not stealing. It's really not the same as stealing, say, a car, where the car has a monetary value that it is worth exactly once and where the car is gone after the theft and the damage is exactly the value of the car.

Claiming it's the same thing and claiming enormous damages for allegedly lost income is really sour grapes and the stomping of John's dinosaur horde. Nobody denies its a problem and there is a real need for a solution, but the solution has to be adequate to the problem of copying, not to the completely problem of physical theft. Mixing up the words is not going to help.

How would you feel if someone decided that it would be okay to use your car without your permission, but only while you were sleeping, so you would still have full use of it when you need it? They would replace the gas they used, so there would be no cost to you.

Yes, there is the added mileage on the car, but I'm just using this as an analogy, imperfect as it is, where someone uses your property but you are still in possession of it.

Edit: this example is meant to illustrate the idea of someone taking something from you but you still have it.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #57
rxmd
May contain traces of nut
 
rxmd's Avatar
 
rxmd is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Kyrgyzstan
Posts: 5,826
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
How would you feel if someone decided that it would be okay to use your car without your permission, but only while you were sleeping, so you would still have full use of it when you need it? They would replace the gas they used, so there would be no cost to you.

Yes, there is the added mileage on the car, but I'm just using this as an analogy, imperfect as it is, where someone uses your property but you are still in possession of it.
I guess I would be pissed. If someone copied my car the car maker would probably be pissed. The copied car wouldn't affect me much as I haven't made my income dependent of being the only guy in town with a car. I wonder, though, why it is relevant how I feel in this case.

I think, however, that the analogy is flawed because the problem of copyright infringement revolves around loss of income.
__________________
Bing! You're hypnotized!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #58
Aristophanes
Registered User
 
Aristophanes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
How would you feel if someone decided that it would be okay to use your car without your permission, but only while you were sleeping, so you would still have full use of it when you need it? They would replace the gas they used, so there would be no cost to you.

Yes, there is the added mileage on the car, but I'm just using this as an analogy, imperfect as it is, where someone uses your property but you are still in possession of it.
Wrong analogy. The car was not copied. Using a car depreciates a physical asset and adds risk to the consequences of a crash or insurance claims.

Digital files of any type are designed to be copied with no fidelity loss to the original, therefore no depreciation and no risk of compromise of the content's initial production fidelity.

What depreciation there is a loss of market power as every copy makes the one before it less valuable.

The law has attempted to make copying an act of theft. It is not working because the technical structure of digital data is to enable copying. So they've gone after sharing copied files, but the cost of remedy and enforcement vastly exceeds the economic losses. They've tried digital locks on content, but all have so far been broken and this looks unlikely to change. They've made it illegal to break such a lock, but all it takes in a world of infinite copy capability is a single, anonymous transgression to make that attempt useless.

Copyright protection is different than theft by legal definition. It's a question of deprivation (theft) versus authorization (copy rights). Merging the two has complicated the economics. There may be a theft of economic opportunity, but if that is the case, then why make a product that can be infinitely copied anonymously? A large part of the blame has to go to producers of content who want all the economic benefits of digital and then want to be free riders on the state to enforce what are civil, private property rights. This socializes the loss and creates monopolies of content, such as the numerous extensions of copyright.

So then content suppliers turn to moral arguments. But the whole point of commercial law is to take the morality out of contract so adjudication is done on the terms and not the emotion or subjective perspective.

Then people start threads about theft of content which turn into society-bashing morality arguments. And here we are.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #59
btgc
Registered User
 
btgc's Avatar
 
btgc is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,288
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
How would you feel if someone decided that it would be okay to use your car without your permission, but only while you were sleeping, so you would still have full use of it when you need it? They would replace the gas they used, so there would be no cost to you.
I think copy of image of my car is closer analogy. Besides that, copy of image created by me. I still can use and sell my picture. I still can use my car (artists and software developers).

There's difference between those who copy music, movies or software for their OWN USE and those who copy to SELL. I know your argument (theft is theft) but those who use for own will NEVER buy same product for money. Well, almost NEVER. So owners can not count this as lost income. EVER.
__________________
MyFlickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #60
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post

I think, however, that the analogy is flawed because the problem of copyright infringement revolves around loss of income.
No, it's not about loss of income.

It's a fundamental right, enshrined in international law as stated above, that one's creations are recognised as one's own. That's what copyright is.

Taking my creations without my permisssion is unethical, in my view. It's also illegal, in the view of international law.

Not taking your views personally, because this is a discussion forum, and I'm not equating you with some of the sharks who've tried it on for me but... what is the public interest in taking people's creations? Who benefits?

If you want to overturn centuries of copyright law, you have to come up with a better justification than "just because someone's taken your property doesn't mean you've lost anything."
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #61
semilog
curmudgeonly optimist
 
semilog's Avatar
 
semilog is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,668
Okay, folks. If "stealing is stealing," was this "stealing?"

http://freedomforip.org/2011/09/15/m...le-settlement/

http://www.pdnonline.com/news/Photog...42.shtml?imw=Y

And if so, who was "stealing" from whom?
__________________
There are two kinds of photographers:
those who are interested in what a particular camera can't do,
and those who are interested in what it can do.

semilog.smugmug.com | flickr.com/photos/semilog/
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #62
Aristophanes
Registered User
 
Aristophanes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
No, it's not about loss of income.

It's a fundamental right, enshrined in international law as stated above, that one's creations are recognised as one's own. That's what copyright is.

Taking my creations without my permisssion is unethical, in my view. It's also illegal, in the view of international law.

Not taking your views personally, because this is a discussion forum, and I'm not equating you with some of the sharks who've tried it on for me but... what is the public interest in taking people's creations? Who benefits?

If you want to overturn centuries of copyright law, you have to come up with a better justification than "just because someone's taken your property doesn't mean you've lost anything."
1) You are assuming your creations are entirely original. This is highly debatable. Centuries of copyright law still argue this point with no clear consensus and enormous variation between Western nations' common law.

2) The law of copyright is a civil law that you must enforce personally at your expense. Copyright is seen as a limited, private protection. In the greater scheme, all ideas and their representation belong to society as original creators die. Copyright was invented to protect commerce, not as an ethical standard. Whether it is "right" or "wrong" ignores the commercial motive upon which the concept of copyright was built.

3) Copyright is not a "fundamental right" in many societies, nor is it legally enshrined as such. It is an invention of Western law. Different societies have signed on to international conventions, and then ignore them as they are incompatible with their cultural regimes of expression.

4) Before one gets to the issue of permission, one must express protection. If you post a digital file, you are, by definition, not protecting it. Copyright is not passive; you must actively enforce it in your own interest. You cannot and should not rely on the ethics of someone else to protect your private property. Once you get to that point...epic fail.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #63
flip
良かったね!
 
flip's Avatar
 
flip is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Kobe, Japan
Posts: 1,225
I can't resist: http://www.answers.com/topic/africa#..._Photograph_ds

"Western travellers and explorers also photographed in East Africa. Joseph Thomson (1858-95), for example, used the camera not only to record and classify Africans but also, fusing photography and local magic, as ‘medicine’, a ‘soul-stealing machine’, and a ‘magic gun’. Such behaviour provoked considerable indigenous resistance to being photographed. Despite initial opposition, however, photography was widely accepted in coastal towns by c. 1900, in the urban hinterland by the 1920s, and in rural areas by the 1950s-1960s."
__________________
Very happy with my Shintaro BP M2. Thanks!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #64
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
1) You are assuming your creations are entirely original. This is highly debatable. Centuries of copyright law still argue this point with no clear consensus and enormous variation between Western nations' common law.
No.

I have worked, and still work, in the field of copyright. I make my entire living with copyrighted work. Your assertion is... bizarre in the context of a photography site - I think you're confusing the difference between plagiarism and infringement of copyright.

Agreed, in China there's less consensus about copyright, but once the nation's amassed enough IP I'll imagine they'll change their approach. In the West, however, the consensus on copyright is unchallenged - and i haven\t heard any convincing arguments against it here.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #65
rxmd
May contain traces of nut
 
rxmd's Avatar
 
rxmd is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Kyrgyzstan
Posts: 5,826
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
No, it's not about loss of income.
Of course it is. This is in fact all it's about. If someone copies some creation of yours, nothing happens to your intellectual property itself. The work is still yours as it was before. The only thing that happens is that your possibility of extracting revenue from it are somewhat diminished. Coincidentally, practically all intellectual property lawsuits tend to revolve around revenue somehow.

I also disagree about the "fundamental right" and the "centuries of international law" bit. It's only 121 years that the US, for example, started to make it even possible for foreign authors to exercise copyrights, and 60 years since the US acceded to an international treaty on intellectual property. Neither the US Bill of Rights, nor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nor the European Convention of Human Rights of 1950 mention intellectual property. The European Charter of Human Rights of 2000 does, but only in a weak wording that is different from practically all other rights in the text (not a right that every person has, but something abstract that merely "shall be protected"). It's a fairly recent thing, and in particular, one that countries tend to ignore as long as it benefit them and that, unlike actual fundamental rights, only gets enforced where it benefits the enforcer economically.

Finally, I also dislike the term "intellectual property" itself, because it invokes the illusion that the two are conceptually the same. They are not. The two are conceptually different. Both should be protected, but they need different mechanisms for protecting them, simply because of the particular nature that an author's rights do not diminish if his works are copied.

Quote:
Not taking your views personally, because this is a discussion forum, and I'm not equating you with some of the sharks who've tried it on for me but... what is the public interest in taking people's creations? Who benefits?
In a discussion about whether stealing a car and downloading a picture are conceptually the same, that is a bit of an off-topic argument. To answer your question, I direct you to Project Gutenberg as an example. The site is full of the people's creations, and don't you agree the world is better off with having free access to all that?

Eventually a lot of human cultural production revolves around being able to make creative use of things produced by others. I think that at the moment we are not very good at using this potential fully for the best of society. You now have the choice of sitting in the dinosaur trench together with Disney and Sony and worry about protecting your income stream, or to consider the benefits of society as opposed to your own. I see that it is important that creating something must pay off, and I agree with that, but I think we've allowed this to go over the top.
__________________
Bing! You're hypnotized!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #66
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
...
Finally, I also dislike the term "intellectual property" itself, because it invokes the illusion that the two are conceptually the same. They are not. The two are conceptually different. Both should be protected, but they need different mechanisms for protecting them, simply because of the particular nature that an author's rights do not diminish if his works are copied.
Your argument is curiously old-fashioned. You treat a creation as a physical artefact. It is not. A book is a book, whether printed or distributed electronically. Because it is easier to copy an eBook does not make it more morally right.

You keep using the analogy about the car, or whatever, but it is just that, an analogy. I could use the analogy that, if I happen to have the correct skeleton key, I can come and live in your house. You have lost no income stream, but nonetheless I am taking and using something that is yours. I could argue that this benefits society and is a better use of resources. But nonetheless I am taking something of yours, without your consent, and that is wrong.



Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
...
I direct you to Project Gutenberg as an example. The site is full of the people's creations, and don't you agree the world is better off with having free access to all that?
This is an entirely different argument - reproduction of books written a century ago or which are out of copyright is entirely different from the notion of abandoning copyright altogether.

If you're arguing for a simple reduction of copyright terms, then do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
.
Eventually a lot of human cultural production revolves around being able to make creative use of things produced by others. I think that at the moment we are not very good at using this potential fully for the best of society. You now have the choice of sitting in the dinosaur trench together with Disney and Sony and worry about protecting your income stream, or to consider the benefits of society as opposed to your own. I see that it is important that creating something must pay off, and I agree with that, but I think we've allowed this to go over the top.
I went out with my son today and bought four books, round 45 bucks. They're cheap entertainment. Are they worth less than a burger and fries? No, I don't think society would particularly benefit from giving them away for free, when it means that the authors would then likely not be able to write any other books.

I note in all of this, you are extremely casual about the definable loss suffered by authors and photographers by the abuse of their copyright. While you are extremely vague about the benefits to society that lead on from this.

Most fundamentally of all, I'd like to disagree with your implication that undermining copyright, or IP, somehow benefits "the people" or "society".

I presume this is why you align me with Disney and other large corporations, in what is an old propaganda technique to try and align those defending copyright with international corporations, when in the main it's individual artists, photographers, writers, directors, who create important work, not corporations. Demolishing copyright will ultimately prevent people from creating - and in the consequent digital rights grab, it is the big corporations like Google who will benefit, not "society".
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #67
furcafe
Registered User
 
furcafe's Avatar
 
furcafe is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Age: 47
Posts: 4,085
Well, the creator also loses control of the work. Not if its merely copied, but if the copier decides to do something w/it or take credit for it. True, it may be all about money for "evil" Disney & Sony, but that's not true for every creator of a copyrighted work.

Also, while the U.S. Bill of Rights doesn't mention intellectual property (though the 1st Amendment arguably protects those forms that may be characterized by "free speech"), Article I, section 8, of the U.S. Constitution explicitly provides Congress with the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." And, as I have posted in this & the other "theft" thread, the recognition of intangible economic interests (since you don't like the term "intellectual property") is very old w/respect to trademarks & patents & still pretty darn old re: copyrights; the fact that they haven't been universally applied across nations & cultures doesn't negate the fact that these are not exactly new ideas. To repeat myself, IMHO, the difference between digital copying & mechanical analog copying is a matter of degree, not kind.

As you have recognized, I think your scientific background accounts for the difference between your perspective & others, like Mr. Hicks. However, I don't think the science model necessarily applies to the world of creative endeavors. E.g., I'm not sure the loss to society from copyright enforcement (even overzealous enforcement by Disney, et al.) is the same as restrictions on the exchange of scientific & technical information. I can see a lot of tangible harm from scientific discoveries not being shared (artemisinin comes to mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/he...the-prize.html), whereas the harm from not seeing another work by Richard Prince, hearing another sample of "Funky Drummer" in a hip hop song, or even those poor Girl Scouts not being able to sing "Happy Birthday" doesn't seem to be as bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
Of course it is. This is in fact all it's about. If someone copies some creation of yours, nothing happens to your intellectual property itself. The work is still yours as it was before. The only thing that happens is that your possibility of extracting revenue from it are somewhat diminished. Coincidentally, practically all intellectual property lawsuits tend to revolve around revenue somehow.

I also disagree about the "fundamental right" and the "centuries of international law" bit. It's only 121 years that the US, for example, started to make it even possible for foreign authors to exercise copyrights, and 60 years since the US acceded to an international treaty on intellectual property. Neither the US Bill of Rights, nor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nor the European Convention of Human Rights of 1950 mention intellectual property. The European Charter of Human Rights of 2000 does, but only in a weak wording that is different from practically all other rights in the text (not a right that every person has, but something abstract that merely "shall be protected"). It's a fairly recent thing, and in particular, one that countries tend to ignore as long as it benefit them and that, unlike actual fundamental rights, only gets enforced where it benefits the enforcer economically.
__________________
Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.

--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
My Photoblog

My Flickr stream

My RFF Gallery

Last edited by furcafe : 04-05-2012 at 09:20. Reason: typos
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #68
Aristophanes
Registered User
 
Aristophanes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
No.

I have worked, and still work, in the field of copyright. I make my entire living with copyrighted work. Your assertion is... bizarre in the context of a photography site - I think you're confusing the difference between plagiarism and infringement of copyright.

Agreed, in China there's less consensus about copyright, but once the nation's amassed enough IP I'll imagine they'll change their approach. In the West, however, the consensus on copyright is unchallenged - and i haven\t heard any convincing arguments against it here.
You are missing the point.

From where you sit copyright is settled law.

Not only does China ignore most IP issues, they actively pursue breaking down the very signatories encourage and engage in active braking down of what are perceived as "Western" walls:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/op...q=China&st=cse

I have extensively worked in many developing nations and there are deep cultural divides about the ownership of content. There are economic reasons why a a person earning under $1/day does not concern themselves with a Disney copyright and national trends usually make that person more important in the eyes of politicians than some Western lawyer. Ultimately most of the world's IP laws are lip service which is precisely why private enforcement in the digital, internet-linked domain is mostly futile.

I worked in consumer protection in Vancouver, Canada and had a woman, a potter, whose work was quite well known and striking, walk into our office and ask for assistance. Her most popular line of products, extensively handcrafted in her workshops by a dozen employees, were being copied and imported into consumer retail outlets in very similar formats only months after being released into high-end crafts shops locally. We referred her to legal counsel, but did track down (on the premise of safety concerns vis-a-vis potential lead content in the pottery) some information for her and found out that the originating factory in Southern China was owned by the largest property development owner in Vancouver!

Yet there was little this woman could do except pay a staggering amount for legal remedy, and then only locally in enforcement. Most of the copied product was going to the US. She even saw copies of her work in Hawaii not months after she'd released a new line. Effectively, she was without remedy despite every lawyer and government official understanding her property rights had been violated. It was an issue of pure commercial muscle running over her rights. An ethical stance will not win that contest. This is a moral every photographer on this website should know.

A law is only settled once its enforcement provisions are consistently applied. They are not with regards to copyright, especially for small producers. If they were, we would not be having this discussion. In the field, copyright is less respected than enforced by a vast margin. This was so in the days of photocopies and even more the norm in the digital age.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #69
L David Tomei
Registered User
 
L David Tomei's Avatar
 
L David Tomei is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Italy now but originally from Buffalo, New York.
Age: 69
Posts: 365
The patent prosecutions in which I have been involved, and the over 30 patents that I have had issued, I learned one important thing: Don't play amateur lawyer. Now when it comes to my images being used by others for commercial purposes, I am faced with a lot of questions that still need to be addressed. The purposes of this forum is to share opinions and experiences, and clearly not to resolve legal issues that many photographers face today.
My best wishes to all. David
__________________
L David Tomei
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #70
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
No, I understand and agree with your point, that there are plenty of people who wish to make money by stealing other people's ideas - and as I pointed out, in China there's a very cavalier approach to IP and copyright.

Copyright is never settled law, it's a constant battle. But again, I contend that in this battle, don't fall for the canard that it's the big corporations for copyright, vs the little guy.

Rather, it's the photographers, artists, writers all, who need copyright, to fight off rapacious corporations like Google, Getty, Amazon and others in a new digital landgrab every bit as egregious of those of the American robber barons.

And on a forum devoted to photography, we should stand up for those who've had their work stolen, like the OP on this thread.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #71
Aristophanes
Registered User
 
Aristophanes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
No, I understand and agree with your point, that there are plenty of people who wish to make money by stealing other people's ideas - and as I pointed out, in China there's a very cavalier approach to IP and copyright.

Copyright is never settled law, it's a constant battle. But again, I contend that in this battle, don't fall for the canard that it's the big corporations for copyright, vs the little guy.

Rather, it's the photographers, artists, writers all, who need copyright, to fight off rapacious corporations like Google, Getty, Amazon and others in a new digital landgrab every bit as egregious of those of the American robber barons.

And on a forum devoted to photography, we should stand up for those who've had their work stolen, like the OP on this thread.
Copyright was never a legal evolution to protect works based on ethical or moral grounds. There is a different principle of moral rights to art, some of which intersects with with copyright depending on jurisdiction. But they are distinct legal concepts.

Copyright is a legal protection granting a limited monopoly over the expression of an idea. That sounds nicely moral, but the history of the law was to promote that monopoly as a means to leverage commercial interest in the value of the product. That is why copyright and patent are siblings; one was literary and the other mechanical.

I find it ironic that photographers who post their work online are morally upset by copyright violations. The whole process of posting online is to share, which is only accommodated by copying. In a world of pure copyright, whenever we posted an image and someone looked at it, we'd be able to charge a fraction of a penny, even here on RFF. The sheer amount of free material posted online undermines the concept that all photographs have some inherent commercial value and shold benefit from copyright. They are protected by copyright in theory, but in practise, good luck. It's a tragedy of the commons because it is extremely difficult for one person to assert their copyright in a sea of free alternatives. The cases we read about, (re buses, dance steps in Seattle) are the exceptions, not the rule.

I have no problem with the moral assertion that someone should be able to charge for their work if there is a counterparty to purchase said work. They should be free to bargain fairly. Where it breaks down is when someone turns that work into an infinitely and freely copied digital format. The digital format breaks down the copyright wall so effectively as to render its enforcement assumption nearly useless. The only ones who have the $$$ to pursue are usually larger corporate entities, so I fail to see how that is a canard. It is a market dynamic all individual photographers must be aware of.

When I look at the Luminous Landscape article, what leaps out at me is the $250 minimum, no bargaining price the author sets. To me, that's an ignorant market failure as to the value of the photograph in relation to its intended use. Chasing down payment on a photograph is a very poor market substitute to intended use bound by contract. Demanding money based on a moral argument is highly dubious when it is clear the author did too little to protect their work in the first place. Then he blasts away at the Everyman "they" who are stealing. He's blaming society for the loss of revenue from his private property because he did not protect his private property adequately in the first place. And instead of requesting a more appropriate price for the image, he spends more productive time writing about the issue. This approach limits my sympathy. YMMV.

The big corporations then try and deal with this problem by having the laws written passing the cost of enforcement over to the taxpayer by semi-criminalizing the matter. This is socialiazing the risk, but only for those in the US who have the ear of key government prosecutors. Their argument is moral but their objective is the bottom line at taxpayer expense.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #72
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
You imply copyright legislation was primarily enacted by large commercial interests - in the UK, notions like image copyright were introduced by creators like William Hogarth. Who self-published, backed by no-one.

And in the other corner, building a new business based on a copyright landgrab, is Google.

I know who I side with.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #73
Gabriel M.A.
My Red Dot Glows For You
 
Gabriel M.A.'s Avatar
 
Gabriel M.A. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Paris, Frons
Posts: 9,883
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
How would you feel if someone decided that it would be okay to use your car without your permission, but only while you were sleeping, so you would still have full use of it when you need it? They would replace the gas they used, so there would be no cost to you.

Law-making and law-enforcement (or any kind of basis of power) based on feelings has not had a good track record in all of recorded history.

I may feel good that some girl I like take my shirts in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, clean up anything that may have been soiled and bring it back before I woke up. I would feel really awful that some weird-looking dude do the same. Making a law based on these feelings may not have any justification under a normal democracy.

However, any resulting damages that arise during these acts may be illegal, regardless of feelings. Unless, of course, one can demonstrate these feelings deprive you of any income.


If issues were easy, laws wouldn't be so complicated. And laws are as flawed as the men who write them.
__________________
Big wig wisdom: "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --Harry Warner, of Warner Bros., 1927

Fellow RFF member: I respect your bandwidth by not posting images larger than 800px on the longest side, and by removing image in a quote.
Together we can combat bandwidth waste (and image scrolling).



My Flickr | (one of) My Portfolio
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #74
semilog
curmudgeonly optimist
 
semilog's Avatar
 
semilog is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,668
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul T. View Post
But again, I contend that in this battle, don't fall for the canard that it's the big corporations for copyright, vs the little guy.
The "little guy" does not write the law. (A subset of) big corporations effectively do. The RIAA and MPAA have had particularly large roles here, and they assuredly are not interested in "the little guy" -- or, for that matter, in the progress of Science or (most of) the Useful Arts.

Many others have pointed out the deep irony of copyright extension being driven largely by the threat of Mickey Mouse passing into the public domain, while the Disney fortune was amassed largely on the basis of retellings of stories that Walt found in the public domain literature.
__________________
There are two kinds of photographers:
those who are interested in what a particular camera can't do,
and those who are interested in what it can do.

semilog.smugmug.com | flickr.com/photos/semilog/
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2012   #75
Paul T.
Registered User
 
Paul T.'s Avatar
 
Paul T. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,769
We are not talking about proposed US legislation - we are discussing the principle of copyright and whether someone else can use your photo without permission and without paying.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:35.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.