An open letter to Copyright Extremists

WARNING: This post contains high levels of bile and snark. If you are allergic to, or cannot withstand either ingredients, please avoid exposure to this post.

(may contain traces of sarcasm)

Dear Morons,

Most of you are apparently unaware that copyright and copyright extremism is strangling your income. As a concerned cogniscant being, I thought it best to make you aware of just how mind-bogglingly fuckarse stupid you’re being about the whole thing.

Firstly, copyright began softly after Gutenberg revolutionized the information industry, and everyone with a working knowledge of the printing press and something to say started distributing ephemera hither, thither and yon. Most importantly, copyright began as a means to stop the pleebs from saying naughty things about the monarchs.

Now, since the RIAA is based in America, I find it supremely ironic that an organization defending the privilege of shutting people up is based in a country allegedly based on the right of free speech… But I digress.

Fast-forward some hundreds of years and copyright somehow encapsulates ownership of a work (and here, ‘work’ can mean any distributable work of art) and the right to cling to it very much like a dog in the manger. You do not allow people to share their love of a work by making a direct copy - that, I can mostly understand. But you also do not allow people to share their love of a work by creating derivative works.

I’m afraid I have some alarming news.

Everything is derived from something else.

Every last work on the planet is derived from something that came previously and inspired the artist in question. Even if the inspiration came from nature, something had to exist to turn the mind to create something derived from the appreciation thereof.

You’re all very lucky the Almighty doesn’t hold on to copyrights, nor own a pack of rabid, slavering lawyers like you do, that’s all I can say.

The point you all seem to be missing is that derivative works are FREE ADVERTISING for your copyrighted material. People make it out of love for the work, expecting no recompense other than props from fellow aficionados, and especially important for your collective coffers - create a potentially wider base of people willing to buy your merchandise.

Even so-called 'pirates’ are potential customers. Most, if not all of them, download a pirated movie because they (a) can’t afford to go to the cinema (b) want to see if it’s worth the ticket price or © do not otherwise have access. You’re never going to get the impoverished or the isolated to fork over that ever-important box-office dollar. And you will never see the isolated hand over any money in your direction for the DVD (or Blu-ray) because you never had plans to sell it to them in the first place.

What I really don’t understand is your rabid enthusiasm to hunt down and sue the impoverished and the isolated, especially, because they might have bought something if they hadn’t downloaded the pirate copy.

News flash. If they didn’t have the pirate copy, they probably never would have given you money.

In fact, scientific research has revealed that people who download works illegally are more likely to go out and buy a clean copy [or go see the work at inflated ticket prices] than people who never bothered.

In case you didn’t get it, let me use words you can understand:

Piracy. Increases. Your. Revenue.

People willing to download a shaky, blurry camera rip of your work are also willing to shill for a visually cleaner copy without arseholes talking over it or rustling stuff near the microphone. Or getting their boof-heads in the way.

It’s also evident that they can’t wait the weeks or months it takes for your work to reach their country. There’s a clue in here, somewhere. See if you can spot it.

On to your next bugaboo: derivative works. This mostly applies to fan made videos, since you don’t seem to care about fan art unless it appears on Daycare walls… and most of you have already learned there’s no force on Earth that will stop fanfic.

I have mentioned earlier that fan videos are FREE ADVERTISING made with time and effort from people who already love your work and are willing to buy any merch you shove at them. It truly mystifies my why you would hate advertising for your work that you don’t have to pay for.

Many people who make fan videos - or as I like to call them, fids - have watched the work, loved the work, bought a copy on DVD (or Blu-ray), and have found a means to take small parts of it and rearrange them in an amusing fashion to music. Or just rearrange them in an amusing fashion.

You seem to have made a critical misunderstanding of the fid-making process. Rare, if ever, is the fan who makes a copy of the entire work just to create a five-minute video clip. They only copy the bits they want to use.

Since they already paid for a copy of the work, it’s not like they’re cheating you out of any money, because the money is already spent. If they’re doing anything at all, they are generating interest in your work long after the billion-dollar advertising executives have gone home in their Porches. Interest generates revenue.

If you keep biting the fan hand that feeds you, they might stop buying your works altogether.

Just take a look at one successful pirate-friend, Hasbro. They don’t care that episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are distributed wholesale on YouTube. They love the fact that people are making music videos, mashups, and new memes. Why? Because there’s more people who see fids than see the show. They’re reaching a bigger target audience with more disposable income than they imagined was possible.

And they are making absolute shittons of money.

So the next time you distribute a work, think about the longer term Internet Effect, where pirates buy “legal” media for a cleaner copy, and fid-makers are actually your unpaid advertising staff. Spend a little extra on a site where plebes can buy bespoke merch at inflated prices plus postage and handling. Be ready to ship it anywhere. Gladly take PayPal.

Trust me, you will be making money hand over fist.

And that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?