Exodus 32: THE LAW

Note: Moses is a prophet of Islam, as well as Judaism and Christianity. The Law he delivers in Exodus is foundational to all Abrahamic religions.

Exodus 32:

Moses receives tablets

And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

God points

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

God fist

11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.


16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.

18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

Moses Aaron1

19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

20 And he took the calf which they had made,

Moses Goldencalf1

and burnt it in the fire,

Moses burns calf

and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water,

Moses strews calf dust

and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Hebrews drink

21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.

23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

Moses Aaron2

25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Hebrews behind Moses2

27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

35 And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.


Moses Brings THE LAW


Moses returning from Mt. Sinai, about to open a can of holy whoop-ass on those goddesses.

Reddit IAmA today, 2-4pm EST

DeathKillCycleAMAProof? Here’s your proof.

Head on over here between 2 and 4pm EST today, Friday February 27.

UPDATE: Reddit is not allowing me to post. On my own IAMA. Granted, this IAMA was set up by someone else, who said he had duly submitted my handle (Nina_Paley, created a week ago) to the mods. But it didn’t work. I was on the calendar, but I can’t respond to questions. I am not happy about this but mods aren’t responding, so I give up. You can AMA on Twitter instead.

UPDATE 2: after half an hour the problem was corrected, and I went back and answered questions.



Reddit AMA – Friday February 27

I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA next Friday February 27, along with Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge, for Fair Use Week. We’ll be on 2-4pm EST, a.k.a. 1-3pm CST. Ask Me Anything!

Czech Myself Before I Wreck Myself

My “Make Art Not Law” talk is finally online!

Text and slides here.

Polish Czech translation and subtitles here.

Make Art, Not Law

Below are the images and text of a Pecha Kucha talk I gave in Champaign, IL. The Pecha Kucha format is 20 slides x 20 seconds per slide. Hopefully the video will be online within a few months Video embedded above.


You are an information portal. Information enters through your senses, like your ears and eyes, and exits through your expressions, like your voice, your drawing, your writing, and your movements.


In order for culture to stay alive, we have to be open, or permeable. According to Wikipedia, Permeance is “the degree to which a material admits a flow of matter or energy.” We are the material through which information flows.


It’s through this flow that culture stays alive and we stay connected to each other. Ideas flow in, and they flow out, of each of us. Ideas change a little as they go along; this is known as evolution, progress, or innovation.


But thanks to Copyright, we live in a world where some information goes in, but cannot legally come out.
Often I hear people engaged in creative pursuits ask, “Am I allowed to use this? I don’t want to get in trouble.”


In our Copyright regime, “trouble” may include lawsuits, huge fines, and even jail. “Trouble” means violence. “Trouble” has shut down many a creative enterprise. So the threat of “trouble” dictates our choices about what we express.


Copyright activates our internal censors. Internal censorship is the enemy of creativity; it halts expression before it can begin. The question, “am I allowed to use this?” indicates the asker has surrendered internal authority to lawyers, legislators, and corporations.


This phenomenon is called Permission Culture. Whenever we censor our expression, we close a little more and information flows a little less. The less information flows, the more it stagnates. This is known as chilling effects.


I have asked myself: did I ever consent to letting “Permission Culture” into my brain? Why am I complying with censorship? How much choice do I really have about what information goes in and comes out of me?


The answer is: I have some choice regarding what I expose myself to, and what I express, but not total control. I can choose whether to watch mainstream media, for example. And I can choose what information to pass along.


But to be in the world, and to be open, means all kinds of things can and do get in that are beyond  my control. I don’t get to choose what goes in based on its copyright status. In fact proprietary images and sounds are the most aggressively rammed into our heads. For example:

“Have a holly jolly Christmas, It’s the best time of the year
“I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer
“Have a holly jolly Christmas, And when you walk down the street
“Say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet!”


I hate Christmas music. But because I live in the U.S., and need to leave the house even in the months of November and December, I can’t NOT hear it. It goes right through my earholes and into my brain, where it plays over and over ad nauseum.


Here are some of the corporations I could “get in trouble with” for sharing that song and clip in public. I wasn’t consulted by them before having their so-called “intellectual property” blasted into my head as a child, so I didn’t ask their permission to put it in my slide show.


Copyright is automatic and there’s no way to opt out. But you can add a license granting some of the permissions copyright automatically takes away. Creative Commons, the most widespread brand of license, allows its users to lift various restrictions of copyright one at a time.


The problem with licenses is that they’re based on copyright law. The same threat of violence behind copyright is behind alternative licenses too. Licenses actually reinforce the mechanism of copyright. Everyone still needs to seek permission – it’s just that they get it a little more often.


Like copyright itself, licenses are often too complex for most people to understand. So licenses have the unfortunate effect of encouraging people to pay even MORE attention to copyright, which gives even more authority to that inner censor. And who let that censor into our heads in the first place?


Although I use Free licenses and would appreciate meaningful copyright reform, licenses and laws aren’t the solution.  The solution is more and more people just ignoring copyright altogether. I want to be one of those people.


A few years ago I declared sovereignty over my own head. Freedom of Speech begins at home. Censorship and “trouble” still exist outside my head, and that’s where they’ll stay – OUTSIDE my head. I’m not going to assist bad laws and media corporations by setting up an outpost for them in my own mind.


I no longer favor or reject works based on their copyright status. Ideas aren’t good or bad because of what licenses people slap on them. I just relate to the ideas themselves now, not the laws surrounding them. And I try to express myself the same way.


Like millions of others who don’t give a rat’s ass about copyright, I hope you join me. Make Art, Not Law.

Intellectual Disobedience

A little talk I gave about Seder-Masochism-in-progress and Civil Disobedience at Brooklyn Law School’s “Legal Hackathon” several weeks ago.

Legal Intern Needed

Are you a law student? Want to work on a project with me and QuestionCopyright.org? We need a legal intern to research the history of copyright suits in the quilting world.  How common are copyright suits among quilters? How many cases settle? What sort of decisions emerge from those that go to court? How does copyright law apply to quilting, given its similarity to fashion (utilitarian) and other arts (decorative)? Details at QuestionCopyright.org:

Calling all law students — or at least the ones who weren’t planning to work for the RIAA later:

Our legal intern position is open! We’re looking for someone interested in learning more about copyright law and using it to promote freedom. Several of our projects have legal components, so the responsibilities of the position are varied. They will involve research in U.S. and international copyright law, non-profit law (federal and CA state), some trademark law, tracking legislative developments, some writing, etc. The minimum time commitment is about five hours a week, with more available if you want it. A New York City location is preferred but not required. There may be some limited travel (which we pay for), at your discretion.

The position is unpaid, but you would be working with an experienced lawyer (our counsel, Karen Sandler), and we’re happy to meet reasonable requirements for law school credit.

Interested? Contact us. We’ll keep the posting open until we get the right candidate — it could be you!


If you ®egister the trademark on ®egistered trademark, you get ®ecursion:

I am awesome

I was neither prepared nor in a particularly good mood when I did this “webinar” for Agora I/O. It was eerie having a “conversation” in which I could neither see nor hear the other participants. It was just me and my own voice, with questions and comments occasionally popping up in text on another webpage. Because of that, I couldn’t read anyone’s body language and try to pre-emptively smooth things over and “people please”; I could only speak my mind. Which I did. Which, upon reviewing, was a pretty great thing. You may not like me, but I sure do!

The fun starts about 8 minutes in, and gets better as it goes along. If you know about my story and Sita Sings the Blues, you can skip what comes before that, which is a basic recap.

♡License to Love

Thanks everyone for your comments on Driving Without a License. Crosbie Fitch’s last comment inspired me to make this notice:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Please copy.

What’s great about it is it’s plain old text – you can copy and paste that heart. There is no webding for the copyleft symbol. You could also use the filled-in heart instead of the outline:

♥ copying art is an act of love. please copy.

It could be shortened:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

and varied:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.

The ♡ could graphically substitute for a ©. For example:

♡ 2010 by Nina Paley. Please copy.

Don’t care about attribution? Keep it simple and mysterious:

♡ 2010

The ♡ can’t be trademarked (I hope), which means it can’t be controlled. That’s fine with me. Other people can, and do, use ♡ to mean all sorts of things. But it has a shared cultural meaning that transcends any use one person could put it to. Its power is that it’s not a license, not a trademark. It’s not subject to law.
Love is not subject to law.

What do you think?

Driving Without a License?

Since posting about Creative Commons’ branding confusion, several French patriots have suggested I switch to the Art Libre License.  I am resisting because I can’t work up enthusiasm for any license today.

The idea that every user could and should understand the complexities of copyright licensing appears increasingly delusional to me. The only people who should need to understand licenses are lawyers and their clients. Most users don’t have legal teams involved with their creative and distributive processes, nor should they. Using licenses – even ShareAlike and Art Libre licenses – legitimizes copyright lawyers and copyright laws and the absurd notion that artists should have to give a damn about them.

The only entities my ShareAlike license would really affect are corporations (or in rare cases, people) with lawyers. But for everyone else, I’m considering marking my work thusly:

All Rights Reversed 1

There’s no lawyer-approved legalese behind this. It’s just a statement of intent. It’s certainly compatible with the ShareAlike license and its attendant legal code, which I can still use where appropriate (like on the © page of a book, if I really want to back up my intentions with legal force).

Mike Masnick of Techdirt doesn’t use any license at all. It’s a nice idea, not legitimizing copyright law at all, but because everything is copyrighted by default, there’s no way for users to know they are free to copy and share. Every few days some commenter “threatens” Masnick with “unauthorized copying,” to which he responds that he genuinely doesn’t care, so that periodically informs Techdirt regulars. But that’s more labor than I want to put into assuaging users’ fear.

Hopefully users will have less and less fear as time goes on, and there will be less need to assuage. The fact is, most people really don’t care about copyright. Yet they copy. Even as we argue about different licenses, and how to license, and what the Free-est kind of license is, people are ignoring us and just copying what they feel like. They’re not just ignoring the RIAA and MPAA and copyright moralists; they’re ignoring copyright reformers and abolitionists and Creative Commons and the “copy left” too. They may feel some guilt and fear, but our licenses really aren’t going to do anything about that. They don’t care. And that’s fine with me. They shouldn’t care. No one should care about copyright, because copyright shouldn’t exist.

P.S. – which “all rights reversed” style do you like the most?

All Rights Reversed 1#1: lower case

All Rights Reversed 2#2: ALL-CAPS

All Rights Reversed 3#3: colon

UPDATE: Maybe I should just use this:


Saudi TV show about copyright

My segment:

The full thing, which I haven’t seen all of yet:

Correction, again

I’m reposting this because misinformation continues to spread all over the interwebs. Maybe I’ll post it every month.


Dear Journalists Dear Journalists, bloggers, commenters, etc.,

Some of you are writing that I was forced to choose the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license because the film is violating copyright. That is completely untrue, but has become the dominant motif of stories I read about the project. The confusion is understandable, so I attempt to sort it out below.

Sita Sings the Blues is 100% legal. I am free to release it commercially, which is why the film is gaining a number of commercial distributors in addition to its free sharing/audience distribution, which is also legal, and wonderful.

Sita Sings the Blues is in complete compliance with copyright regulations. I was forced to pay $50,000 in license fees and another $20,000 in legal costs to make it so. That is why I am in debt.  My compliance with copyright law is by no means an endorsement of it. Being $70,000 in the hole reminds me daily what an ass the law is. The film is legal, and that legality gives me a higher moral ground to stamp my feet upon as I denounce the failure that is copyright.

Having paid these extortionate fees, I could have gone with conventional distribution, and was invited to. I chose to free the film because I could see that would be most beneficial to me, my film, and culture at large. A CC-SA license does not absolve a creator of compliance with copyright law. The law could have sent me to prison for non-commercial copyright infringement. I was forced to borrow $70,000 to decriminalize my film, regardless of how I chose to release it.

Note that in some ways the film is not, and never will be free. For each disc sold, distributors must pay $1.65 to these faceless money sinks.  Transaction costs raise that amount to about $2.00 per disc. That is why my own Artist’s Edition is limited to 4,999 copies. I’ve already bled $50,000 into their vampiric maws; I have no intention of paying more.

Thank you for your attention.



“if no one is informed, no one will object.”

My goodness, no one seems to know what grand juries are! I sure didn’t, until this week. Because they’re called “juries,” people think they’re trial juries. Not at all! Here’s a good article explaining how grand juries work by activist Craig Rosebraugh.

Grand Juries, often referred to as the “strong arm of the court system,” thrive off public ignorance, working behind closed doors and under seemingly little regulation. Often working in accordance with the Justice Department, the Grand Jury system has been, and continues to be, used for gathering intelligence and suppressing “radical” groups and organizations that oppose current governmental policies.


In my experience, the most fascinating aspect about Grand Juries is that the public is largely misinformed and kept in the dark about their true nature. Most citizens do not realize that an individual called before a Grand Jury has neither the right to counsel nor Fifth Amendment protection in the proceedings. I have found that people from all walks of life are outraged when they learn of this reality.

It is this very secrecy and deception that has allowed Grand Juries to persist. It is a simple rule that says if no one is informed, no one will object.  (link)

I don’t know if it’s legal for me to write this, but I must say that so far my grand jury experience resembles the Milgram Experiment. That’s the one where an authority instructs an “average person” to administer painful electric shocks to someone else. As long as the authority figure tells them it’s ok, the “average person” just keeps pushing that shock button, ignoring the victims’ screams of agony because the authority instructs them to. Likewise, the prosecuting attorneys instruct us to ignore any details about cases they don’t control; if we ask questions about other charges, they say that’s none of our business. We don’t get to see or hear our victims; we have only authorities telling us to push the button. In a sealed, secret room. I’ve sat on my hands a number of times, but believe me, most people are happy to comply with the authorities. They know not what they do, and the system likes it that way.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[4]

Please understand what grand juries are. They need to be abolished, as they have been almost everywhere outside the United States.