Posted by: Sk | February 13, 2009

1 Sliding author’s rights and WordPress

Of course one may ask oneself why thus, it may cause a problem to copy other people’s creations, pictures, music and movies, if WordPress says that it is … strictly forbidden. Is it, though?

Imagine you are writing a diary. A beautiful leather bound book full of blank white pages. And you take pictures from internet or from reviews and fill the maddening empty pages with all these pictures until finally … inspiration comes. After, you show the whole to your best friends. After, you become very famous with your creation and even your relatives in Australia ask to see it. You are thus obliged to photocopy the whole and send it by urgent mail. Can this be forbidden?

From a certain point of view, WordPress baths in these kinds of waters. It is personal, you don’t get money out of it, it is no business. You write down your ideas and inspirations, you download the pictures you like: you are creating something like a beautiful diary, which may be aleatorily seen by people who are perhaps sidereal friends and relatives. It does invade the public space with private affairs. Kind of talking to your boss about your problems with your boyfriend (quite common nowadays, on the other hand, so, why be surprised.)

If well considered, author’s rights do concern two main fields: the one is to avoid someone arriving to notoriety through some one else’s work. The other is to avoid someone getting money out of other’s work. These main lines are constantly deformed and distorted in favor of some kind ‘it’s all mine’ spirit and thus, all reproduction forbidden.

A few years ago, law was more tolerant. All reproduction for commercial use is forbidden. That is, you are not allowed to earn money with the product or creation or a derivate form of the same (photocopies, for example). But you were still allowed to offer your cousin a registered copy of an album (in cassette form, for example), without that causing major legal problems. Internet ravaging the common understanding of things, law does not arrive to determine precisely the limits of the problem.

Thus, copied programs are used for publicity (tactic used for example by Adobe Photoshop, my adored five stars intelligences), or … in order to introduce mortal virus that bomb up the hard disc (”Le Figaro” on Dreamweaver, 2002). The very sharp lines opposing positions that do maintain author’s rights up to absurd limits (some pretending that someone having created a picture with Adobe Photoshop owe author’s rights to AP for … the possibility of using functions) and going into this direction patent’s politics such as those of France Telecom and partly Microsoft, do encounter violent opposition in those claiming to the right of ‘free transformation’ of a product and consequently to a ‘determined way of copying’, and heading this ‘ideology’ Linux and others.

But, what is it all about? Taken from a reasonable angle, you may say you ‘have lost’ the product once you have sold it, offered it or given it as inheritance. If the legal owner of the product is yourself, you can do with it what you want. (See Staedtler for example ask for author’s rights because they made … the pencil?!). If you transform conveniently the product to your advantage and make of it a work of art, nobody may complain (see the beautiful bed exposed in London about 2004 (?), where I suppose, the ‘artist’ didn’t pay to the bed maker rights of author …). If you get inspired of something to do something similar, either (Linux). What is forbidden is to break codes of security that are there in order to warrant the originality of your product and copy it.

Security codes are something like keys on your doors. If I find a computer in the street or a telephone, nobody can say I’ve stolen it. It is at my reach without security. If I though break into a house, I’m trying to appropriate myself of something that is legally protected by … a closed door. That people do protect their inventions and creations is normal: if it is a very original thing, it may be the source of wealth. If I don’t protect it, I will never get anything out of it.

Deeper considered, though, you may say that a product or creation is the result of a given logic, a way of thinking, of conceiving, of ordering reality. The fact that people who don’t share this logic appropriate themselves the object without the logic, may even become … dangerous, and causes constant confusion for people who expect something as being the source of the creation while appear just fakes and ghosts and no one who may stand behind the whole. Objects are products of the intelligence and in a certain way, condition our behavior and our understanding. Thus are creations. To take what is not ours has as a result that we can’t take the responsibility deriving of the inner logic being at the origin of the product.

In a certain way, author’s rights or patents do assure that misuse be limited and that I get what I may expect from the effort of generating logic and transforming it into a product. But honestly: I produce a program that is worth 347 USD. To say. And there are three million people who don’t have the means to buy it anyhow. Your marvelous production gets lost in the impossibility of being bought. The controlled cheap reproduction does allow people to get to know (music, movies) to understand the functioning and use (programs) of something new and in a certain way does clearly point out something: the legal price does include such a lot of advantages (service) that it is sometimes much better to pay the price if I know what I’m paying it for. See for example Cool Edit (horribly expensive) compared to other 30 USD cheap registering programs downloaded from no where. The second fills the computer with viruses and obviously shows problems in functions (cutting, registering, etc.). But why should I pay 200 USD if I’m just having fun at home?

The problem is how to balance the  different aspects taking into consideration the possible damages and the possible advantages. Obviously I prefer Adobe Photoshop’s politics, and may take certain distances with Dreamweaver (which was bought up in 2004, I think, by … AP. Logical?). I’d tend in favor of Linux (GNU), although I obviously prefer the strict order and organization, the almost to perfection driven products of Microsoft.

Perhaps it is just a question of personal positioning that allows you to defend what you do. See clissold345 (I haven’t yet solved whether it is a woman or a man, as called … Chris). He/she copies a Velazquez reproduction on WordPress obviously without anyone’s permission. Is this forbidden? I wouldn’t say so.

If I want to present myself through what I do consider beautiful and collect 37 pictures not in order to show them that much, but how I understand beauty, it should be as little forbidden as it is forbidden to quote an author in public (speech) or even in a personal work. And that as long as I quote and refer the origin and source, as otherwise the original author may be confused with myself.

This understanding of things does though find blind opposition among those who defend a certain spirit of the kind “you become through me and should pay for that”. And than I look back and see Gertrude Stein discovering Picasso and Gris and them become so horribly famous and rich and nobody knowing about her, and the only answer that comes to your mind could be: “not through your picture, but through her eyes I become, and … you’ll be certainly paying for that …”

Short: as long as we know who we are, we won’t get lost if we rest on others, too, on the contrary. If those shoulders do no want us to rest on them, it’s easy: they loose a fantastic opportunity of getting … even more famous. They’d just … say.

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