11 October 2004

Irony Warning

There is an interesting article in today's Seattle Times on barriers to "reuse" of works in other works that reflects both some real problems and some real ignorance. For example, at one point, the article notes that

Consider Class of '83, a low-budget documentary about classmates killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "We shot in an auditorium where everybody came together and had the children's choir sing the Bette Midler song The Rose," said Tom Barger, the movie's editor. "We had to cut most of that song out."

Anick Jesdanun, "Artists seeking more creative freedom push for less stifling copyright laws" (11 Oct 04) (typography and fake paragraphing corrected). On the one hand, this is a serious concern. On the other, the particular instance quoted is a poor example, because sound recordings are subject to the compulsory license and the fee for this particular reuse would have been calculable through a formula that is based on actual sales.

The greatest irony, though, is that the article itself bears this warning:

Permission to reprint or copy this article/photo must be obtained from The Seattle Times.

Id. (emphasis in original). This is particularly annoying in an AP article; technically, the Times is not the proper authority to grant (or deny) such permissions for the AP newswire.

What this really does, unintentionally, is point out that the problem is not with copyright per se, but with who is exercising control over copyright permissions and uses.