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Saturday, January 24, 2009

On Vidclip Piracy


Sexy Xenia Seeburg (think “Lexx“) inadvertently gives her partner a bondage lap dance in the obscure comedy, “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Would you have even heard of this movie if it weren‘t for this clip? I wonder how many copies of the movie this clip has sold (if any are available).


An interesting debate has broken out over Brians’ and Pofoz’s discussion page. There are a variety of sites -- Raffishs’s Didclip site (see link list) is one -- where video clips of bondage scenes from movies and TV shows are available. Some, like Raffish, charge a premium for membership. And apparently, some clip website owners are now putting logos on the clips they produce to identify the clips as having been produced by them.

The reason some identify this as piracy is because the clips are all from mainstream TV shows and movies that the website owners did not produce and hence, do not own.

Let me use an analogy to explain my feelings on the matter. Say a farmer owns a big apple orchard, part of which fronts a road used by kids who walk to school along it. Portions of the trees in the orchard hang over the fence that fronts the road, and every year they drop a lot of apples to the ground which mostly just lie there and rot, or get eaten by small animals. The ground is still on the farmer’s property, it just isn’t worth the time and trouble to him to harvest them -- they’re a tiny smidgen of what is in the orchard proper.

The kids who walk to and from school eat the apples, too. Are they stealing? The law is clear: they are stealing, because the apples belong to the farmer. But ethically are they stealing? Of course not: the apples would just rot on the ground if they didn’t eat them. You might make an argument that they are being socially responsible by not letting a food resource go to waste.

Now, take it one step further. Suppose one enterprising kid collects some of the apples in a box as he walks down the road and sells them at a roadside stall. Is he stealing? Yes. Is he being unethical? No. The apples would still go to waste, and he’s hardly doing the farmer any economic harm since his sales are literally nothing compared to the farmer’s sales. In collecting the apples and presenting them conveniently to roadside travelers he is doing them a service, and deserves to be recompensed for his efforts.

I think this is a very apt comparison because the rights to most films and TV shows are owned by large media conglomerates. None of them, to my knowledge, has ever collected a set of bondage clips and marketed it to anyone. I don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future, either -- too many groups would protest the living hell out of it if a mainstream publisher did such a thing. Bondage clips of mainstream movies and TV shows are EXACTLY like the apples on the other side of the fence -- they’re legally the possession of the companies that own them, but the companies have no interest in using them. Therefore, the guys who are collecting them and selling them are not harming the companies in any way. They are doing mainstream bondage fans a service, and deserve to be compensated for their work, even if they don’t own legal copyright to the works.

I think this is why the mainstream companies don’t prosecute the websites that sell/distribute vidclips of bondage scenes. There’s no harm being done to the companies, and perhaps even some good. The clips being distributed almost certainly create interest in and sales of the movies they’re from. All to the good, from the companies’ point of view.

Now, bondage clips from COMMERCIAL bondage videos that are collected and resold would definitely be a different matter. Making vidclips of these and selling them or even just distributing them for free would be not only against the law but unethical -- you would be directly competing with them and harming their business.

However, I have to point out that many commercial bondage filmmakers freely distribute brief clips of their films, as promotional items. This in no way lessens the illegality or unethicalness of making clips and distributing them without the commercial websites’ permission, but it DOES point out the usefulness of widely distributed free clips from a film, from the filmmakers’ perspective.

I frankly think the copyright laws need to be changed -- they have shifted far too much in the direction of the corporations that own copyrights. The present loophole that allows companies to evade the public domain aspects of copyright by trade marking characters in the stories, etc., would be an excellent place to start. Getting the public domain release of copyrighted materials back to reasonable levels would also be a good idea -- just because somebody writes a good book, we don’t owe their descendants a free ride unto the nth generation (Edgar Rice Burroughs descendants, I‘m looking at you!). And some sort of “use it or lose it’ provision would prevent the kind of stupid cock-ups that keeps anyone from making an movies based on “Let’s Go Play at the Adams.”

12 comments:

kdnpr said...

You forgot? in your "Ethical" question, one for the Corporate types.

If the farmer lured harvesters to pick his apples on promise of some kind of reward, but didn't pay them. Do they really want to go into court with the kids and make the unpaid labourers aware of this one way street? ;)

Don't get me wrong. I don't figure anything I passed around was mine. I only get annoyed when someone edits the titles out of my clips and I can't recall the title when asked. Have to go through the disks. pain in the arse. ;)

kdnpr said...

"Now, bondage clips from COMMERCIAL bondage videos that are collected and resold would definitely be a different matter. Making vidclips of these and selling them or even just distributing them for free would be not only against the law but unethical -- you would be directly competing with them and harming their business."

Ah, scratch. You didn't forget. ;)

Yeah, if David Knight said send in clips of yourself B&G'd, the best one will win tickets to All-star Game,
But ran for profit all the clips, not just the winner's, I wouldn't sympathise

This is part of the sportsvids claim. "Goal/Fight" clips belong to NHL, fair. They should be able to claim and adverstise.

But other side of the street, "Crazy Fans" etc, that show up from Youtube on the network shows without being asked should be getting paid too. Saying Google warns them before they post they're giving up copyright is legal, so they don't have to pay them?...

As mentioned too, the fan competition, which allowed to fill a timeslot with people's vids for the cost of 2 all-star tickets is ethically questionable?, but better than just taking and hiding behind Google

The day a network hauls a Capper into court, is a day that they & Google will similarly encouraged pay everyone showing up on their timeslots... Perhaps minimum wage even? For Ethical reasons huh?

It'll never happen

kdnpr said...

"The clips being distributed almost certainly create interest in and sales of the movies they’re from. All to the good, from the companies’ point of view."

Hmmm, if they figured that? Would they pressure Youtube to delete clips?

Perhaps? "why the mainstream companies don’t prosecute the websites" is this thing they do, taking from Youtube without asking, for their shows?
A court case could force a labour law ruling...

The sports people are cool with the current claim & advertise compromise on Youtube, so I don't figure the crazyfans are going to push it. They only brought up with the old TOS deleting. may not find out for sure. ;)

Interesting post there Pat

Pat Powers said...

Jay L wrote:

You forgot? in your "Ethical" question, one for the Corporate types.

If the farmer lured harvesters to pick his apples on promise of some kind of reward, but didn't pay them. Do they really want to go into court with the kids and make the unpaid labourers aware of this one way street? ;)


I’m not sure that applies to my analogy, Jay L. I suppose that media companies may lure people into making clips and then not pay them. That’s unethical. I’m pretty sure it’s happened rarely, if at all.

The real problem with the corporations, ethically, is that they pretty much buy legislators to write laws relating to public domain and copyright their way. The corporations are behaving unethically, as are the legislators.

Jay L also wrote:

Yeah, if David Knight said send in clips of yourself B&G'd, the best one will win tickets to All-star Game,
But ran for profit all the clips, not just the winner's, I wouldn't sympathise

This is part of the sportsvids claim. "Goal/Fight" clips belong to NHL, fair. They should be able to claim and adverstise.

But other side of the street, "Crazy Fans" etc, that show up from Youtube on the network shows without being asked should be getting paid too. Saying Google warns them before they post they're giving up copyright is legal, so they don't have to pay them?...

As mentioned too, the fan competition, which allowed to fill a timeslot with people's vids for the cost of 2 all-star tickets is ethically questionable?, but better than just taking and hiding behind Google

The day a network hauls a Capper into court, is a day that they & Google will similarly encouraged pay everyone showing up on their timeslots... Perhaps minimum wage even? For Ethical reasons huh?

It'll never happen


If a fan enters a clip in a contest and all that’s promised as the reward/fee for using it is Superbowl tickets, that’s all the fan is entitled to, ethically. Legally, there might be a minimum wage thing going on, but I’m not sure how that work out. With the way things run in the US, it probably wouldn’t work in the fan’s favor. Of course, that may change in the next four to eight years.

I don’t that the networks should haul cappers into court. It’s bad PR and bad marketing and bad promotion. Of course, networks and other large corporations (think of the music industry) have a long history of shooting themselves in the foot in this respect, so it could happen. I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen, however.

kdnpr said...

"The real problem with the corporations, ethically, is that they pretty much buy legislators to write laws relating to public domain and copyright their way."

Ha! We do see it the same. You're just a better writer than me. ;)

"That’s unethical. I’m pretty sure it’s happened rarely, if at all."

I disagree. Actually, one of my favourite shows (Hockey Central) has a segment which features Youtube fan vids called "The Inbox". On nightly. None paid for their "appearance" on the show that I've heard

They get on Youtube to delete capper accounts after they've set the above tone?

Your post tonight really got me thinking bud
A+

MagickRat said...

See, you're all missing the point...

The reason why I started this whole case was because I was under the impression that someone was taking the clips that I spent hours & hours creating, converting, editing & posting for free & selling them on his website. It wasn't a matter recognition or compensation. It was a matter of morality.

If one was to offer something for free, something that he/she worked very hard on & was very proud of & had the original intentions of sharing that item for free, then somebody else came along & gladly accepted that item for free, walked down the street & sold it to someone else, don't you find that morally wrong?

Once I found out that I was wrong & that the fellow YouTuber who was originally swiping my vids was lying to me, it wasn't such a big deal anymore. Because she wasn't charging people to watch them, which was my intentions for those videos all along. Other than a little bit of appreciation for my hard work, I want nothing out of my videos other than to be shared & enjoyed by the entire DiD community for free.

While I thoroughly enjoy Raffish's site (and YES I'm a paying member to that site), if all he is looking to do by charging people to view his clips is cover his costs, there are alternatives to that. I could easily set up a website myself & charge to cover the bandwidth costs, but I choose to keep this a hobby & not turn it into a business. So Yahoo, YouTube & Dailymotion all work just fine for me...

Sasha said...

Having been kicked in the giblets verbally by the owner of AES for posting his stuff on the blog, I have a better appreciation for what his rights, trust me. I think it's silly to charge some of the outrageous prices some clippers want for scenes on DVD, I don't care how high the quality is. If I want to drop 30 bucks on a DVD, I'll visit AES, Harmony, Centaur Celluloid or Imago and see something fresh. That's part of why I started the DT blog. I didn't get annoyed with my clips popping up on other pages, typically Youtube- until the posters used my descriptions of the scene content word for word. They couldn't even bother to write their own thoughts on the scenes.

kdnpr said...

MagickRat said: "See, you're all missing the point..."

Not really. I was on "In General" about Pat's parable. The clippers I mentioned weren't Brianspagers.

If I had anything to contribute on the Brianspage clippers, I'd have posted it on Discussion

Pat Powers said...

Jay L wrote:

I disagree. Actually, one of my favourite shows (Hockey Central) has a segment which features Youtube fan vids called "The Inbox". On nightly. None paid for their "appearance" on the show that I've heard

They get on Youtube to delete capper accounts after they've set the above tone?


OK, if a corporation is using Youtube vids to enhance its programming and then turns around and tries to suppress Youtube vids, that's blatant hypocrisy and won't fly ethically. I'm not sure how that works out legally. The corporation may be liable if they use Youtube vids that contain work that is copyrighted by another corporation or a person. I dunno.

Pat Powers said...

Magickrat wrote:

The reason why I started this whole case was because I was under the impression that someone was taking the clips that I spent hours & hours creating, converting, editing & posting for free & selling them on his website. It wasn't a matter recognition or compensation. It was a matter of morality.

If one was to offer something for free, something that he/she worked very hard on & was very proud of & had the original intentions of sharing that item for free, then somebody else came along & gladly accepted that item for free, walked down the street & sold it to someone else, don't you find that morally wrong?


No, I wouldn't. Your position is pretty much analogous to someone who writes a story or a book or takes a photo and puts it in the public domain. Publishers regularly republish public domain works and ask people to pay for them. Most classics are public domain. No one has any ethical problem with publishers republishing works in the public domain and charging for them, why should things be any different for your clips?

Ethically, it would be best for persons using your vidclips to maybe offer you a share of any proceeds they got from them, or at least to acknowledge your contribution, but there is no ethically compelling reason for them to not sell your clips.

Granted, your vidclips aren't OFFICIALLY public domain, since you don't own copyright to them, but for all practical purposes as far as YOU are concerned, they are. In fact there is a type or copyright called copylefting whereby you can release something for free for anybody to copy and enjoy for their personal use, but forbid its use use on a for-profit basis without first contacting and getting the approval of the copyright owner. But you don't even have the right to do that, since you don't own copyright to the clips in the first place.

While I thoroughly enjoy Raffish's site (and YES I'm a paying member to that site), if all he is looking to do by charging people to view his clips is cover his costs, there are alternatives to that. I could easily set up a website myself & charge to cover the bandwidth costs, but I choose to keep this a hobby & not turn it into a business. So Yahoo, YouTube & Dailymotion all work just fine for me...

I'm a paying member of Raffish's site, too. I pay him for the convenience of having access to all those clips. I feel that his work in creating and organizing the clips is worth the price. He has added value to them, as far as I'm concerned. I see no ethical problem with his charging for access to them, and if he's making a profit over and above the cost of running the site, more power to him.

Pat Powers said...

Sasha wrote

Having been kicked in the giblets

That's gotta hurt! ;>

verbally by the owner of AES for posting his stuff on the blog, I have a better appreciation for what his rights, trust me. I think it's silly to charge some of the outrageous prices some clippers want for scenes on DVD, I don't care how high the quality is. If I want to drop 30 bucks on a DVD, I'll visit AES, Harmony, Centaur Celluloid or Imago and see something fresh.

Exactly. You pay to see what you like without quibble because it offers you value. That's why original content providers stay in business despite the fact that so much stuff has showed up for free on the Internet.

As for AES, maybe you could talk to him or her about using short clips of his or her stuff with his or her permission, or become and advertiser for some of the commercial sites you like and use their stuff not just with their permission, but with their encouragement. That's how I use Sex and Submission stuff.

That's part of why I started the DT blog. I didn't get annoyed with my clips popping up on other pages, typically Youtube- until the posters used my descriptions of the scene content word for word. They couldn't even bother to write their own thoughts on the scenes.

Pat Powers said...

The last paragraph in my previous comment belongs to Sasha, not me. I neglected to clip it when I created the comment.