“Intellectual Property” is Slavery

Brain01

“Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”
John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government

“Most thinkers…hold that you own your own life, and it follows that you must own the products of that life, and that those products can be traded in free exchange with others,” claims Wikipedia’s latest entry on property. “Every man has a property in his own person,” says John Locke. Ayn Rand (who I generally can’t stand, but who I’m happy to quote as a passionate defender of the sanctity of property) wrote, “Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.”

You also have a property in your own MIND. That which lives in your mind, is your property. And everyone deserves Rand’s “right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results” – in other words to freely think, express, and own the contents of their own mind. That is what “intellectual property” should (but doesn’t) mean: everyone’s right to their own mind.

Instead, legally defined “Intellectual Property” means exactly the opposite: it transfers ownership of the contents of your mind to others. It alienates the ideas in your mind, from you. Is there a song running through your mind right now? It doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to Warner-Chappell. You are forbidden to express it; “performance” requires permission. “To think, to work” – interpret – “and keep the results” – record and sell copies of –  the song in your mind, are illegal.

Thus Intellectual Property gives alien, private owners title to our minds. We may think culture (songs, text, images) only in secret; any expressions of cultural thought belong not to the thinker, but to the IP owner. Your thoughts are “derivative works”; someone else has title to them. You may have “Porgy and Bess” in your mind, but interpreting or singing it out loud is forbidden. That part of your mind belongs to Gershwin’s heirs and their lackeys.

Wikipedia’s entry on Chattel Slavery states: “The living human body is, in most modern societies, considered something which cannot be the property of anyone but the person whose body it is.” The living human mind should be the same. Legally defined “Intellectual Property” is, quite simply, someone else’s ownership of your mind. If they own the right to express what lives in your mind, the right “to think, to work and keep the results,” then they own your mind; they own you. What can we call that, except slavery?

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My Wikimedia Rant

Note: Please, please continue uploading my comics to WikiMedia Commons, beloved uploaders! Nina’s Adventures is next. I completely endorse and support this work! Thank you! I love you! I post the rant below because, well, it’s on my mind now, and life isn’t perfect.

Continue reading My Wikimedia Rant

Why I hate T-Mobile

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.

All I can do now is write about it.

The store, she is taking forever

Now the problem is the payment authorization service is delaying…and we can’t take orders until that’s set up…so we wait and wait. And then right when we think we’re done, some new technical glitch presents itself. It’s driving me crazy. I’m really hoping it can go live by Monday…

But we are getting closer. Click on the eentsy image below for a sneak peek screenshot of the store-in-progress.

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Lloyd Kaufman Defines Media Consolidation

Lloyd Kaufman, Chairman of the IFTA, delivers a speech on media consolidation and the dangers it poses to independent art.

“fairies are forever”

As we know from the US Constitution, copyright is permitted

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts

This was supposed to be for limited Times, but Big Media corporations like Disney have managed to extend copyright terms continually. How are their efforts promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts?

Fairies!

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That’s right, the way for the new Disney Fairies franchise has been paved by Disney’s tireless efforts to secure endless copyright extensions. Limited copyright terms would conflict with their “Fairies” business plan:

Mr. Iger said he singled out the Fairies line as a potential blockbuster in part because longevity would not be reliant on the aging of human stars, as is the case with “Hannah Montana” or “High School Musical.”

“As everyone knows,” Mr. Iger said, “fairies are forever.” (link)

Unlike nasty ol’ human beings, who age, and nasty ol’ constitutional limits to copyright monopolies, today’s copyrights – and the Fairy Franchises they protect – are forever. Let’s hope that’s worth sacrificing freedom of expression for, ’cause this is what “culture” is going to look like for a long, long time.

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I Be Illin’

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OK, so I’m not in Athens right now. I left Israel early. I got sick, is what happened. A little food poisoning, a little irritable bowel syndrome, a little appetite loss and not eating for days, a little nervous breakdown, and next thing you know I’m back in New York trying to recover in a friend’s apartment, because I lost mine to bed bugs in July – not that that could be contributing to my stress or anything.

IBS

Unfortunately airports and airplanes and trying to sleep in different time zones are kind of killing me, so I’m canceling personal appearances for the next few weeks. It is a serious bummer, because I love meeting audiences and doing Q and A’s; and also because some of my upcoming lecture gigs actually pay, and I need the money. But my body and brain apparently can’t take this much travel, and I’m really sick.

On a bright note, the Rehovot International Women’s Film Festival was amazing – really excellent films, and excellent women. I also met some wonderful animators from ASIFA-Israel.

Am I a Criminal?

Naturally I keep up on the latest grim developments in copyright law. The new Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, which unsurprisingly “is strongly backed by the music and movie industries,” would “(allow) for the Department of Justice to bring civil suits against IP infringers.

Continue reading Am I a Criminal?

Shit

Actually the DVDs have too many visual errors – from the messed-up HD master I was never able to view, because who has an HD system? – and I have to start from scratch, making a new HD master, new exhibition tapes (for the festivals that aren’t showing 35mm) and, if DVDs are to circulate at all, new DVDs. Please ignore my previous enthusiasm. This is the fault of my Post-Production Supervisor, who I am firing immediately. Oh wait that’s me.

I also accidentally dropped a Cintiq stand on my toe:

My Toe After Dropping a Cintiq Stand on it (click thumbnail – or should I say toenail? – for larger photo in gross-o-vision)

Yes, it’s been another bad day, but all is not lost, just the $7,500 I spent on DVD authoring and manufacturing, plus the $1,500 or so I spent on the HD master and all the HD, Beta, DigiBeta, and DVCAM tapes I made from it. Because I have an Idea. A Very Good Idea, I promise. More on that tomorrow. I’m going to bed now.

Music Industry Killing Internet Radio, Sita Sings the Blues

First, read this:
Music Industry Killing Internet Radio.

Now read this:
Spreadsheet of what same Music Industry wants me to pay them (.xls).
View spreadsheet as html here.

Continue reading Music Industry Killing Internet Radio, Sita Sings the Blues

A Very Bad Time

Infested

These last few weeks have been pretty awful. I am broke and homeless. Time I should be spending working on promoting my film – my only asset, my life’s work – has instead been consumed salvaging what I can from my apartment, bagging things in ziplocs, laundry laundry laundry, carrying stuff up and down and back and forth, throwing things out, calling exterminators, calling the landlord, calling friends, sleeping on a sofa, not sleeping on a sofa, taking showers and immediately changing into more ziploc-ed clothes, more laundry, wiping salvaged computer parts down with alcohol, weeping, talking to other tenants in my now-former building, confronting debt, canceling accounts, checking messages, begging for help, watching red bumps grow on my hands and arms (I have a delayed reaction to bed bug bites; it takes 9 days for the red welts to really blossom, then they linger a long time), reading bedbugger.com, reading craigslist housing ads, weeping some more, et cetera.

Continue reading A Very Bad Time

It has happened to me

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are like Syphilis for apartments. They appeared on the other side of my building a few years ago; it was only a matter of time before they came here. My downstairs neighbor detected and began treating an infestation while I was traveling last month. Possibly they were driven upstairs when her place was sprayed, or perhaps they were waiting all along. Whatever the reason, I didn’t leave an infested apartment, but I have returned to one.

Treating bedbugs is a lifestyle. Anything made of fabric must be washed and dried at high heat, then immediately transferred to ziploc bags. You then live out of ziploc bags for months (I’ve already spent the last month living out of suitcases, which I thankfully haven’t brought back to the apartment; those at least are not infested). You vacuum constantly. You change into ziploc-fresh clothes immediately before visiting friends, in order to not transfer hiding bugs to them. Everything you own must be inspected, cleaned, sterilized, heated. Furniture must be emptied and pulled from the walls. Exterminators visit every few weeks to spread poison. You are supposed to continue sleeping in the bed, as bait to attract the bugs from their hiding places over the poison. You keep doing this for weeks or months, until the bugs leave you alone. Of course they just move to a neighbor’s apartment, and play musical beds unless your whole building is treated. Good luck with that.

So I’m moving out. My lease ends September 30 anyway. I can’t move my stuff, of course, as it is possibly harboring renegade bugs and needs to be sprayed at least 3 times over 2 months, with no guarantees. I’d like to salvage my computer, but everything else I own could vaporize for all I care. I wish it would.

Bruno and I are going to stay at a friend’s house for a while (friend will supply a fresh outfit from my off-site suitcase I can change into to prevent infecting his car, and anything else I bring with will be sealed in bags and placed straight in a washing machine; cats aren’t known to carry bugs except in the most severe cases). Much as I hate travel and have longed for home these past weeks, I don’t really have a home right now. Since I can’t afford to rent or buy a new place now (I’m in deepening debt from Sita) I may just go from festival to festival for a while.

By some miracle I haven’t completely lost my mind yet, but I’m getting there.

I’m back!

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Now I get to enjoy two glorious weeks in my favorite city in the World. Sita did very well in Europe, especially France – in addition to the Annecy prize, she won “Best American Feature” at Avignon. All of which takes some of the sting out of returning to a lost potential romance, a friend’s descent into alcoholism, and a bedbug infestation in my building (the exterminators come Friday). Still, I am overjoyed to be reunited with my beloved cat Bruno, and walk and bicycle in the city I love, bedbugs and all.

Here are some pictures of Novi Sad, Serbia, I took while attending the Cinema City film festival.

Who hates American Airlines?

I do! Do you?