The closer you get to the end of something, the further away it seems. Happy\*
election day, to my US friends. Please, remember, if you haven't already, get
out and vote. Regardless of who you vote for, it's important to remember that
voting is such an important thing to do. To make your voice heard. (Plus, free
sticker!) This has been such an exhausting election cycle. The animosity between
supports of each candidate has been unprecedented. It's important to remember,
no matter your political affiliation, everything is born from peoples' wants,
needs, hopes, and dreams, and at the end of the day we're all humans. We're
fallible, passionate, weird, angry, loving, piles of carbon atoms; atoms that
somehow managed to congeal in such a way that we're able to think, move, build,
breathe, and do so many amazing things. Our passions get us in trouble, and let
us extrapolate on our favorite things. Our ideals are not always shared, but in
the grand scheme of things, I think -- hope -- that every human wants the best
for humanity as a whole. It may not always manifest that way, but I certainly
hope that's the end goal for even the most ardent fundamentalists.
Personally, I hold many ideals that tend to fall in with what's described as
progressivism, at least in the US. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about that as
a label, as it tends to make for stark contrast to other ideals, and label them
as regressive. Perhaps I just don't like repurposing words for a particular
ideology, even though it seems to be the norm. Regardless, I've rambled for far
too long. Happy Election Day for the U.S., and happy November 8th to the rest of
\* Your results may vary.
Today I'm doing a band I saw open for twenty one pilots, and also fell in love
with. An understated, haunting sound that makes for great focus music. The
lyrics don't distract, unlike many songs with lyrics. It just makes me feel all
melty inside, like I could just fill whatever I'm sitting on as I relax into it.
Hopefully you enjoy the song as much as I do.
[MUTEMATH - Used To](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4M-U4Vuqvo)
### My conflicted feelings on "Fair Use"
I'm a weirdo when it comes to copyright. I love the free and open exchange of
culture to proceed unencumbered by DRM, paywalls and other blockers, but I'm
also a staunch believer in artists getting paid well for their work. I see so
many videos use copyrighted music in the background that say "This is fair use",
when clearly the author has no clue what Fair Use is. First, the legal aspect.
There are four factors that determine whether or not something falls under Fair
Use. First, the purpose and the character of use. This is the primary factor
that indicates that a work is Fair Use. Is it transformative? Does it add or
transform the original work, and give it new meaning? If not, it's most likely
NOT Fair Use. Beyond that, the nature of the copyrighted work is also taken into
account. Biographical works are more likley to be able to fall under Fair Use
than fictional ones, and published works are more likely to fall under Fair Use
rather than unpublished works as well. The third is the amount and
substantiality of the portion used. If you use a three second clip from a
television show, that's much more likely to be Fair Use than if you take an
entire show from beginning to end, even if it's transformative. Finally, does
the use negatively effect the market for the original work? If it detracts from
the original artists' potential market, that's very unlikely to be fair use.
Translating a book to another language could very well get tripped up on this
particular point, just for an example.
Now, the most common misplaced use of Fair Use that I've seen is music uploaded
to YouTube channels. "I don't claim copyright over this", "This is fair use",
and so on, where they imagine that's some kind of talisman to ward off DMCA
takedowns. It doesn't work. If they're up, it's either because the copyright
holder didn't want to bother with taking it down, or they don't know about it.
Fair use is a much narrower case than most people tend to think. One of the most
obnoxious trends on YouTube (in my opinion) is "reaction channels", where they
will take the entirety of a video, shrink it, put it on the side and film their
face while they watch it. It's not transformative, it often uses the entirety of
a video with little transformation or commentary. (Note that not all reaction
channels are this way. Notably, h3h3productions was sued for copyright
infringement, though is videos are notably transformative, focus heavily on
commentary, and do not use the entirety of the video. [Plagiarism Today](https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2016/05/26/understanding-h3h3-lawsuit/)
has a great video detailing on the issues with the h3h3 lawsuit)
On the other hand, it's extraordinarily difficult for smaller artists to license
works properly, and they might be really limited in what works they're able to
use fairly in their projects. They can use royalty-free music, but many creators
would like to use music they know, music they are familiar with, and many songs
that people are allowed to use without having to obtain explict licensing are
far and away from well known. (Though there are some amazing artists, like
Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech)) If someone wants to use a song by their favorite
artist, they really can't. Not without risking DMCA takedowns, or going through
an expensive licensing procedure. (ASCAP alone, one of several major music
licensing agencies, I believe starts at $700/year, regardless of revenue, there
are also several other licensing bodies, such as BMI and SESAC, each with their
own licensing costs that are typically far out of reach for small creators)
Now, to the part I'm conflicted about. I want artsits to be compensated fairly
for their creations, but I also want creations to be accessible for little or no
cost to smaller creators who would otherwise miss out. Fair Use it typically
what people look to for protection, but it's often misunderstood, and applied
incorrectly, which puts those smaller creators at risk. Perhaps someone will be
able to come up with a better solution. One that benefits everyone, and doesn't
cost an arm and a leg.