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So as many of you know I do some voice acting in my spare time. I have done it for a few folks. The most prominent amoung them is Pendant Audio Where I am list cast member on a few shows. However today I have news from another group I work with from time to time. Broken Sea audio is a similar sort of operation run by among others some folks in New Zealand. One thing to remember about the audio drama community is that we are an incestuous lot. Actors flow pretty freely between the various companies.

Anyways Broken sea got a bit of press today. They produce a Conan audio drama based on the Robert E Howard books. These books are in the public domain in New Zealland and here in the states. A company contacted them recently with a cease and desist. Conan Properties International LLC (aka Paradox Entertainment)Claims to own the world wide rights to the Conan stories and all related Intellectual Property.




In short they claim that if it is not public domain anywhere in the world then Broken Sea can't use it online.

I think my opinion on this can be summed up by a comment posted on boing boing about this.

"Conan Properties International LLC, what is best in life?"

"To crush your fans, see them driven before you, and hear the litigations of the lawyers."

Anyway the story got picked up by a few sources.

Go take a look.

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/25/conan-copyright-trol.html
http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=4128
http://www.cnet.com/8301-11455_1-10172086-10.html
http://www.agidoo.com/entertainment-2/conan-and-new-zealand%E2%80%99s-new-copyright-law-vs-broken-sea.html


Okay I have a reputation for being some who as Kristyn once put it "Could argue with a chair." I also can get into arguments with folks on stuff I don't believe just to see where the argument goes. Some people have asked me in the past if there was anything I truly believed in anything. You want to hear me go off on someone for something and here my real thoughts. Then it is the abuse of copyright law. I hate it. Pretty much with my whole body. The guy is dead for over 70 years now. How the frak can these twits claim ownership. Is it even owned by his family or something? He did not have kids or a wife. It is not like there is a widow depending on this for income.

This is just some company in Sweden who decided they make a butt load of money on the name and works of someone they had no involvement in at all. The other properties these guys claim to own are Other properties include Bran Mak Morn, Kull, Solomon Kane, Mutant, Mutant Chronicles, Warzone, Kult, Heavy Gear, and Chronopia.

It is nice to see some folks I deal with get some press, but this is not the preferred method. My only enjoyment in this is maybe it will bring enough attention to the fact these guys are doing this kind of crap that someone stands up tells them to bugger off.

Comments

technoir
Feb. 26th, 2009 06:30 am (UTC)
Amazon has that option. They have the resources to set up their system that way. A Small website runner who literally does it all on donation and sells nothing can't afford to maintain the tech to do that.

What is more, they should not have to. The copyright has expired in most of the countries actually listening to these works. It certainly has expired in the us which has a 70 year limit on copyright. The limits are there for a really really good reason. Things should be part of our collective heritage to do with as we please as long as the creators rights were seen to. These guys have no leg to stand on. They are just being bullies. They have a bank roll and lawyers and they can use that to scare people into complying. Broken Sea probably can't afford a lengthy legal battle when they are making no money on it to begin with.

I am sorry but you are just wrong on this. The rights of the creator are not being seen to here. The rights of the public are not being respected either. This is not similar to Hulu or BBC as they do not limit their viewership due to legal concerns but licensing concerns. They want companies in other countries to pay for their content. This really is just a case of perceptions of copyright being used in an abusive, stupid, not legally supported and unfair manner.
the_magician
Feb. 26th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
If I may continue?
they do not limit their viewership due to legal concerns but licensing concerns.

If you don't think a license document is a legal document, then I think we can stop here. It's covered by contract law, duh.

The rights of the public are defined by the laws in each country. You are saying that because it is legal in the US, it must be legal in every other country. That's bullying.

If Iceland (as a made up example) wants to make it 100 years after an author's death, and the Icelandic people have voted for their government to create such laws. Then that's the copyright period in Iceland. If you then make copyrighted goods available to people in Iceland, you need to pay the copyright holder (or at least get their permission).

The letter, as you have quoted it in your original posting, does not claim it is illegal in the US.

They want companies in other countries to pay for their content.
Well, surely that's the point of copyright? If the BBC, Robert Howard or technoir create something, then part of copyright is the right to restrict copying and to profit from the creative work. And licensing is one way that a creator/owner permits others to use their work. This often includes geographical restrictions. So NBC don't let me watch Saturday Night Live, in spite of no UK broadcaster showing it at the moment. Pandora stops me listening to music because their license (from the rights holders) blocks them from using it outside the US.

With copyright expiring in the US, that means the audio can be freely distributed in the US without problems. But if Broken Sea continue to make it available to countries where the copyright hasn't expired, then that *is* a problem

And your first point, that a small company can't afford to follow the law, I can't believe you said that.
technoir
Feb. 26th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
Re: If I may continue?
But these are all related to benefiting the content creators and providers TODAY! The royalties get paid to actors, writers, musicians today based on these websites. IN other words it is being used to benefit the existing CREATORS! That is how copyright works! Sure the record companies benefit more but the copyright in principal is still doing what it is supposed to there.

Your original contention was that they are restricting access to different countries due to the possibility it might be illegal in those countries. That is not why they are doing it. They are doing to get more money out of those countries. Licensing and illegal are two different things.

It is illegal to provide porn in several countries. However none of those content providers restrict themselves from providing the porn there. The governments do instead. They block the access. That is the analogy that would apply here. Broken Sea audio is doing nothing illegal in any of the countries that it's owners are producers are in. The majority of the countries involved say the copyright has expired and the works are public domain. If it is in fact not the law in Sweden or whereever, then that is the country which would feel this is an illegal act to distribute. It should be incumbent on the country to block it if they feel it is illegal to distribute in there country.

Placing the financial burden on a small company for accommodating the laws which do not apply to them is ridiculous. Am I to be expected to uphold Talmudic law just because my work is available online? How is that my responsibility? It would be different if the law in the countries the company has any production elements in supported Conan Properties International LLC. If it was still under copyright in the UK, New Zealand, or the US which all have elements involved in the production, then they would have some basis for asking Broken sea to quit. They would be within their rights. They would still be idiots. Fan productions enhance the community around an IP and make it more valuable but they would be within their rights. That is not the case though. It is public domain and they are betting on their lawyers to keep a small group from opposing them.

They are just wrong all the way around.

the_magician
Feb. 26th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
Re: If I may continue?
Grin, you're using CAPITAL LETTERS again :-) and lots of exclamation points!!!

but these are all related to benefiting the content creators and providers TODAY! The royalties get paid to actors, writers, musicians today based on these websites. IN other words it is being used to benefit the existing CREATORS! That is how copyright works! Sure the record companies benefit more but the copyright in principal is still doing what it is supposed to there.

not sure what the "these" in the first sentence refers to. Copyright is there for the benefit of creators, I don't think I ever disagreed with that. What's your point in this first paragraph?

Your original contention was that they are restricting access to different countries due to the possibility it might be illegal in those countries. That is not why they are doing it. They are doing to get more money out of those countries. Licensing and illegal are two different things.
Who are "they" in this first sentence? The lawyers aren't restricting anything. They are saying if you break a country's copyright law, they are ready and waiting to pounce. You break the law, you pay the price. Whether BrokenSea are breaking the law if someone in such a country downloads the recording, I really don't know, probably depends on the law in that country.

Legal is a broader term than licensing, but if I buy a license to sell hotdogs/starmaps/whatever for a geographical location and then sell them elsewhere, I'm breaking my license/contract and that's a legal matter. The contract is legally binding. But the original subject wasn't about licensing as there was no license offered or purchased for the Conan material, so this is an unfortunate red herring, my apologies.

Porn legality is rarely about copyright, so a red herring. Next.

Sweden paragraph: it is rarely the country's job to enforce copyright, they leave that to the copyright holder's lawyers, as in this case. I can download all sorts of copyright stuff off bittorrent and the UK government barely notice until the RIAA or equivalent bring their lawyers in. It's still illegal for me to make those copies. However the RIAA are trying to get the laws changed to make it a stronger criminal offense to break copyright, and that worries me tremendously.

Talmudic law is another red herring, next.

The BBC told people to stop providing Tardis knitting patterns. It was a fan production and there weren't competing commercial products available. But if you believe in the principle of copyright/intellectual property, then you need permission from the copyright/rights holder(s).

If something is in copyright in a country, then it is not in Public Domain *in that country*, a fact you keep dismissing, because if it is PD in the US, the UK and Canada, then the other countries can go take a running jump, right?

If you will accept that it may be illegal *to download* this material in some countries, and so it is the potential "customers" of Brokensea that are actually breaking the law in those countries where the piece is still in copyright, then I'm happy to agree that it is stupid to go after the distributor when it is the customer who is doing something illegal.

However the law may be more complex than you and I think it should be ... the bundle of copyright laws, international conventions etc. mean I can't tell if BrokenSea would be liable under the DMCA if a recording they made was downloaded in a foreign country and didn't contain the copyright information (title 17, chapter twelve, section 1202 (c)(3)) for example.

So I've come around to agreeing that if someone downloads something that violates copyright in the country they are in, then it is the downloader that should be taken to court ... however this can (as in that DMCA section) mean that the person making the material available could be considered to be "publishing" it (or some similar term) and again the individual countries may have laws about what is and isn't allowed.

The UK has some laws about what may or may not be made available over the internet (some of which are legal in the US) and so could apply for the extradition of people from another country who make that material available to UK residents. Other countries will have their own laws.






technoir
Feb. 27th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Re: If I may continue?
Now that i am not at work allow me to retort. You have successfully actually ignored almost all of my points. That takes work.

The pron example is actually does apply. The providers do not have to have to stop providing their websites based on the legal restrictions in individual countries. The only time they are worried about jurisdiction is if the laws in the country they are producing or hosting the content takes issue with them. This is how is with copyright. The law that applies is in the countries which the shows are produced. I used New Zealand, UK, Canada, and the US for examples because those are the countries which people working on these shows are from. They are actually involved in the production of the content.

Therefor those are the countries the copyright law actually applies in. In those countries, broken sea is within their rights. Conan Properties International is using litigation extortion to get their way. They have no legal standing. But they can afford the lawyers and the small fan operation can't.

The media they produce is containing the proper copyright info. They say who wrote it. They say who produced the audio. That's all that is required with public domain works which the Conan stories are.

If I wanted to publish the stories I could. There is no law saying I can't. These guys could threaten to sue me but in the end they have no legal grounds. I may do that. I may go to the EFF and ask them if they want a test case to produce a legal challenge to bloody the nose of these bullies.

If CPI is concidered the holder in say Iceland and I am publishing in the us, then they have no grounds. In the US it is public Domain. Am i to be held responsible for someone who takes my free content and takes it to a country that finds it illegal? No of course not.

Morally and legally these guys just fail. They are completely lacking an grounds in either category.

Now they could have maintained their illusion of actual authority buy ignoring this fan group as most fan groups are ignored. No one is making money on it after all. CPI was loosing no money. They could have let it go and let it foster new love in a classic. Who knows they could have supported it and used it as a chance to sell some product they are involved in like Age of Conan.

Instead they chose to do the stupid and honestly they deserve to be called on the carpet for it. I will rail at and when I can, fight stupid crap like this. The abuse of copyright hurts our individual rights. It hurts our access to classic works. It stifles artistic endeavors. It taints the creative process. It has loss it's focus. The purpose was supposed to protect content creators. When ever it is being used for other purposes we should fight and change it.

I guess you can tell, but i feel pretty passionate about this. The general lack of understanding and outright wrong thinking on it make me angry. Abusers of it make me livid.
the_magician
Feb. 27th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Re: If I may continue?
I think you missed the bit where I agreed with you at the end of my last posting?

I'm too tired and depressed at the moment to read the rest of your new reply above, so I'll stick with
"if it is public domain where they made the recording, then if someone else downloads it in a place where it is still in copyright, then it's not your/my/the recording company's problem."

bored now, sleep well!

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technoir
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