Copyright is Brain Damage

A talk I recently gave at TEDx in Maastricht, NL.

14 comments to Copyright is Brain Damage

  • Brilliant presentation, Nina!

    Great analogies and very strong points.
    You are getting wider exposure and your voice is reaching more and more people.

    It was great to see the faces and the reactions of the audience. I assume most of them are not our colleagues; possibly thinking about the issue for the first time.
    The tide can be turned.

  • A splendid presentation. I hope that the more people hear your views, the more will be persuaded to change their positions.

  • […] and filmmaker Nina Paley gave a talk at TEDx Maastricht earlier this month where she described her experiences with securing licenses for the music she used in the 2008 […]

  • Bugmaster

    I appreciate the message, but I think there might be a better way to say, “copyright robs us all of our common culture” without using all of those “Great Mind” analogies. Otherwise, you run the risk of sounding like Deepak Chopra or some other doofus like that; this detracts from your message, IMO. Which is a shame, because it’s a good message.

  • Deb smith

    she knowingly broke the law then whines because the owners of the material wanted a certain amount of money for her illegal use of the songs. She says they’re suppressing art. Oh puhleeze

  • Really

    The fact that Nina viewed the song she chose as “essential” to her work is spectacularly beside the point. She took what did not belong to her and is peeved when the rights-holder holds her accountable for it. Her arguments over whether or not copyright laws help artists make money utterly misses the essential point … if something does not belong to you then you should not touch it, take it, distribute it, without permission. Her positions all boil down to ‘I am making art so I should be allowed to use it’ which, to try and put it politely, is the way a child views the world. Such behavior is not only immature, it is also very bad manners.

    The films I make are mine. I make them to please myself and occasionally to support myself. If I or my heirs choose to sell them, the price they will fetch will be directly related to how much money the buyer can make from them. I worked hard to make them and deserve to control how they are used.

    Our creative community is full of young musical artists who would have loved to score Nina’s film. How nice it would have been if she had reached out to find a musical collaborator.

  • Bugmaster

    I personally am kind of on the fence on the issue. On the one hand, yes, people who make music (or whatever) should be compensated for their work. On the other hand, the current copyright regime is basically ridiculous, and Nina Paley might be right when she says that civil disobedience is the only workable solution. Otherwise, you end up losing important cultural artifacts — such as Doctor Who episodes, Annette Hanshaw songs, all kinds of books, etc. — just because they are still under the 70-year long copyright term, despite the fact that their creators are long dead.

    I disagree with Really, though, regarding the musical score: songs like “Go Down Moses” and “This Land is Mine” really are critical to the film, because of their historical significance. The film is essentially social commentary on the history of Israel/Palestine/religion in general, so this link to other cultural artifacts is crucial.

  • Adriana

    Sorry to seem so superficial about the subject of your talk… (it’s not an issue for me since where I come from copyright doesn’t mean a thing) but all I want to say is: I love what you wore and how perfect was that ending.

  • David

    Great video to share with my friends and colleagues. Is there any place to get the presentation slides as computer wallpapers?

  • Laurie

    My understanding of your point is that copyright law creates the commercialization of art and creative production, and that through this process, what was once easily shared and integrated into common culture becomes privatized which contributes to both a disintegration of shared culture and promotion of pseudo-culture for monetary gain – like the Christmas songs being rammed down our throats to encourage us to buy buy buy (I happen to like Christmas songs, but I do not appreciate their manipulative use leading up to the holidays).

    I think your analogy of copyright to land rights — to the redistribution of land rights in the Near East after World War I and the ongoing and spillover effects of that — is brilliant.

    Deb Smith and Really are missing Nina’s point. She’s putting the whole system in question, not making a simple complaint about not being able to a specific song. Yes, you have the legal right to all profits related to your copyright of your creation. But living in a system which privatizes and monetizes culture also leads to serious questions about co-creating our culture and ensuring equal access to it.

    Love your work and your transparency about the stories behind your work, Nina.

  • Hieronymous Coward

    Wow, Nina, you are brave. I care a lot about copyright reform — I see “intellectual property” damaging my culture — but it never occurred to me that there was something I could do in my lifetime. If I can work up the nerve, I will declare sovereignty over my own mind. Thank you for inspiring a budding copyright abolitionist.

  • Nina – I would like get shirt you are wearing for myself and better half. Do you have them available as merch?

  • The last scene in your movie is the best animation I have ever seen, and I’ve watched Sita Sings The Blues dozens of times. Thanks for your good work!

  • […] to take and reuse the culture that has been forced upon us. Disney did not ask my permission to inject Mickey Mouse images into my mind. Nor did Warner Brothers, Bad Robot, or the Blender Foundation (gotta include some good guys in […]

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