Thursday July 21st
5pm to 8pm
130-05 101st Avenue
Richmond Hill, NY 11419 (map)
I will be there for a panel discussion afterwards, along with Aseem Chhabra (aka Shadow Puppet #1), Ravisharon Kaur, and Bina Mahabir.
There’s an extra special reason you should attend this screening: it was organized, at great effort, by a devout Hindu, Rohan Narine, for a largely Hindu audience. He originally set it up at his Mandir, but after a while someone nixed it. Then he rescheduled it at a Hindu senior center, and again, after a while, someone else nixed it. Finally he chose the neutral Starlite Pavillion, and of course the Hindutvadi fundamentalists want to “protest” it (in their usual classy way, by sending hundreds of batshit emails). Now, there have been thousands of Sita Sings the Blues screenings, but this is the first one to be specifically targeted. Why? Because this screening was organized by actual devout Hindus, and the Hindutvadis can’t stand that. So please, show some love for our real Hindu friends, and come to this screening.
It seems the same people who can’t tell the difference between fraud and copying, also can’t tell the difference between anti-social disregard for authors and copyright reform. Folks invoking my name in the Cooks Source scandal are as clueless as Judith Griggs.
As usual, Techdirt has the best article on the topic:
…Cooks Source Magazine copied one woman’s blog post and published it as an article, without asking her permission or letting her even know about it. They did put her name on it, but she only found out after a friend spotted it and told her about it. Where the story takes a bizarre twist is after emailing with the editor of the magazine, Judith Griggs, asked the original author, Monica, what she wanted. Monica suggested a public apology (on Facebook) and a modest $130 donation to Columbia’s journalism school. That’s when Griggs responded like this:
“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”
That response not only shows a rather confused understanding of copyright law, but also suggests someone who’s kinda sorta heard arguments about why copying can be beneficial, and jumbled them all together in her head. Now, we’ve spent plenty of time over the years showing how content creators can be better off allowing their works to be copied, but even so, Grigg’s response appears totally tone deaf to what Monica’s actual concerns were. But here’s where social mores and reputational value take over. Monica’s story made it onto Reddit and it got picked up by tons of others, leading the Facebook page of Cooks Source to be filled with angry comments from people supporting Monica.
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 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.
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.
“Wearing them really works, by the way. I wore one on a train recently and wound up having a great conversation about copyright with two people, one of them a musician coming back from a gig, after they asked me about the front.” –Karl Fogel
The following report has nothing to do with art, film, or copyright, or anything else I care about. I’m just publishing it on my blog because there’s not much else I can do about it.
Last month T-Mobile charged me about $280 over my rate plan. When I called, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) said I should have used the web site to check my minutes. There was nothing they could do now, she said.
So paid the $369.11 bill, then went to the web site and changed my plan. Last week I got a bill with $105 in extra fees. I called today, explained I’d changed my plan after talking to the CSR, and could they resolve the excess charges. No, they said, because I should have changed it by phone. I shouldn’t have used the web site. Didn’t I see the little notice on the web site saying changes wouldn’t go into effect for another month? I told them the CSR didn’t tell me I’d be penalized for using the web site. There was nothing they could do now, they said.
I asked to speak to my CSR’s supervisor. “Guy” confirmed the records showed I had indeed changed my plan online shortly after speaking with a CSR. After much pleading on my part, told me he’d split the $105 with me. I asked to speak to his boss. “If you do, I can’t guarantee my offer.”
His boss informed me there was nothing he could do, there was no way to resolve the charges, I was responsible for them because I’d changed my plan online, and I should be responsible. He said the online service was for my convenience. I said a $105 charge wasn’t convenient. He reminded me that I could have gotten $52.50 in credit had I only accepted Guy’s offer, but now there was nothing he could do.
A CSR the previous month told me to use the web site, that my huge bill was the result of my failure to use the web site. The CSRs this month told me my huge bill was the result of my using the same web site.
T-Mobile seems to find any reason to overcharge, and no recourse for resolving problems, even when a customer genuinely wants to, and clearly makes efforts to do so. They really seem to want customers to be unable to change their plans, so they can keep charging for extra minutes. I did what they said, and they still overcharged me, blaming me for using the same web service they blamed me for not using the previous month.
There’s nothing they can do, their hands are tied, they’re helpless to help me (except Guy was briefly given miraculous powers to offer me $52.50 for a few minutes, but these powers were just as mysteriously lost when I spoke with his superior). I sure know what helpless feels like – I’ve been overbilled $375 now, after doing what the CSRs told me to do.