Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The "Next War in Copyright?"

Lessig has an interesting post on his blog here (referencing his article here) on what he calls the "next war in copyright." In his article, he talks about the phenomenon of anime music videos (AMVs) in which Internet users take popular music and create music videos using scenes from Japanese anime. According to Lessig, about 30,000 people contribute to a website that contains these videos and about 500,000 users regularly visit the site.

I think the copyright owners' claims are pretty strong in that the people creating the AMVs are using copies of copyrighted music and animation to create derivative works. Moreover, as Lessig notes, the AMV creators are also circumventing encryption technology in some cases to gain access to copyrighted works, which is probably a violation of the DMCA. Thus, despite the promotional benefit to the copyright owners, they appear to have a pretty strong argument for infringement.

However, as Lessig notes on his blog (see above for link), it is likely that most people are going to side with the AMV creators--rather than the copyright owners--in this dispute, whereas most people in the Napster/Grokster/etc. case believed that the copyright owners were right in their claims of infringement regarding p2p technology. Part of the difference, he suggests, is that the AMV users are creating, not just taking.

Although I know very little about this particular phenomenon, I find the copyright issues very interesting. Also, as Lessig notes, the Internet has become a forum for dialogue and criticism of copyrighted works, which in the pre-digital world, could only be accomplished by discussing works in small groups of people.

So, assuming the copyright law would not protect the actions of the AMV creators, is this the sort of activity that copyright should prevent? Or is this type of creation and discussion important enough to warrant new protection? My personal (not legal) opinion is that the cost of stifling creativity outweighs the harm to the copyright owners in this case.


Blogger Edward Lee said...

In Japan, this is all done with the permission of the copyright holders, at least under my understanding.

I'm not sure that the war will be in anime per se, as opposed to content more generally, such as on a blog, etc. I could be wrong, but is the war really in anime?

2:38 PM  
Blogger limewash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:05 PM  
Blogger limewash said...

I know a few people who are into anime. It's really funny, because they like to complain about copyright laws (and the DMC in particular), but they follow their own mutated principles when it comes to anime: you can copy/distribute(/translate) anime that is new to the market through unofficial releases, leaks, or bootlegging, but once the producers/distributors release an official copy, "unofficial" (aka illegal) bootlegging is supposed to stop. Often, anime released by these pirates-with-morals will contain messages that read "This copy is released for fans, by fans. Once a licensed copy is available, please delete this and buy the DVD. If you paid for this, you were ripped off!"

In a way, most of them -sort of- respect copyright laws, as long as they can bend the rules to still let them download the shows they want.

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