By Leigh Beadon
This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes from James Burkhardt in response to someone questioning our use of “OK, Landlord” in reference to copyright holders:
You’ve missed the forest for the trees there my friend.
As used in this article, Landlord is being used to describe a property owner who extracts passive rents from the use of their property. This can, as you point out, describe most ways of extracting passive rents even when we aren’t discussing land. But in the US landlords aren’t nobility either, but we still call them landlords. In the same way, a property management company could be called property rental service, like a car rental service, but we’ve made artificial distinctions between the passive income generated by the exploitation of land versus transportation. Income generated by exploiting the use of property are described as rents.
The rhetorical point of calling them landlords is that while copyright holders claim they own property, they generally ascribe what they own as the content, rather than the rights to exploit the content. And when you describe income derived from those rights as rents and the holder as a landlord, you cast the lie to the claim that what they own is the content rather than the right to exploit the content in specific ways. Active Income is not generated from the content itself or its copyrights, but into the utilization of the content. Copyrights provide a passive rent income, taxing those who wish to utilize the content. The point of calling them landlords is not to suggest they are nobility who owns land, but to suggest they are rent seeking – having secured or developed some content (land) they now looking for rents for its use, rather than exploit the work directly.
In second place, we’ve got PaulT adding a corollary detail to the commonly-mentioned fact that Disney’s success is built on mining the public domain:
Always worth sharing.
It’s also worth sharing the origins of Star Wars – Lucas originally wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, but after being refused the licence went on to create a script that openly plagiarised not only that source, but also Akira Kurosawa movies, world war dogfight movies and various other sources.
If Disney’s demands were based in reality, they wouldn’t legally have the products they’re trying to protect to begin with.
For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous commenter responding to MIT Tech Review’s attacks on Silicon Valley’s technological innovation:
Since Rotman doesn’t understand that not all knowledge transfers between fields, somebody should say something along the lines of this to him:
“You write articles, right? Well you need to go code a video game now.”
Next, it’s That One Guy responding to AMC Theaters pouting and threatening not to carry Universal movies over comments about eliminating release windows:
A telling tantrum
If the only way a theater can compete with viewing at home is if people have to go to theaters for the first few months to see a new movie then they have essentially admitted that their product is so utterly crap/overpriced that the only way they can stay in business is if people have no other choice.
Restaurants and fast food places stay in business just fine despite the fact that people can buy food and cook at home because those stores add value, whether that be cooking more complex dishes that people might struggle with or simply removing the hassle of cooking. If theaters aren’t offering enough to offset the price then that’s kinda on them/the studios for making the deal so poor that it’s not worth the cost, and the solution to that is to add value or reduce the costs so that it’s actually a good alternative for people, not desperately try to hamstring the alternative and show just how rubbish even the people running theaters think their product is.
Over on the funny side, our first place winner is a rare case where it’s not entirely clear if the anonymous comment (responding to our post about an increase in bad patent approvals) was meant as a joke, but it certainly racked up the funny votes:
Or maybe patent attorneys are writing more detailed and better claims that are not abstract.
In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone responding to Disney’s bizarre attempt to force Twitter users to agree to the Disney terms of service if they tweet about Star Wars:
Only a Sith deals in copyright.
As good as that is, an anonymous quip about the same story is, I think, even better, and thus our first editor’s choice for funny:
Just pray they don’t alter the deal any further.
And finally, we’ve got an anonymous response to Mike’s 50,000th Techdirt post:
Clearly you’re just a shill for Big Number.
That’s all for this week, folks!