H.I. No. 2: Copyright Not Intended

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"Copyright Not Intended"
Hello Internet episode
Episode 2 on the podcast YouTube channel
Episode no.2
Presented by
Original release dateFebruary 7, 2014 (2014-02-07)
Running time58:38
Episode chronology
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"Being Wrong on The Internet"
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List of Hello Internet episodes

"H.I. #2: Copyright Not Intended" is the second episode of Hello Internet, released on February 7, 2014.[1]

Official Description[edit | edit source]

Grey & Brady talk about copyright.

Show Notes[edit | edit source]


Other[edit | edit source]

Fan Art

0:00:00: Grey discusses his mistake of calling the Economist a magazine instead of a newspaper in the previous episode, as well the history behind why the Economist is called a newspaper.

0:02:56: Audible.com ad by Grey recommending Steven King's "On Writing".

0:05:26: They discuss Grey's copyright video, and Brady is not sure whether or not creators should be allowed to add on to stories that have already been made.

0:10:20: Grey discusses patents, and how inventions can only be created with the help of previous technology. He says that if patents lasted as long as copyright, technology would progress much slower.

0:15:32: Grey compares copyright to patents, saying that just as inventors use previous technology to create new technology, creators take elements from other stories to create new stories.

0:17:10: Grey argues that because no works are completely original, creators must eventually give their works to society, just as inventors can only keep patents to their technology for twenty years.

0:19:04: Grey says that if there were no copyright, then less large scale works would be created, as creators would not be able to protect the distribution of their creations. He says both copyright being too long and it not existing altogether would have detrimental effects on the rate of content creation.

0:22:24: Brady asks Grey why he decided to make his copyright video. Grey says that part of the reason he made it was himself being unable to use images that were nearly a century old, due to them still being under copyright protection.

0:23:54: They discuss their perspectives on copyright as creators. Grey discusses his frustrations with people reuploading his content, who often use the phrase "Copyright not intended" to admit that they have not made what they uploaded. He talks about how he handles reuploads of his content, and how his reaction to reuploads has changed over time.

0:30:32: Brady says that he sometimes tries to get videos of his uploaded on other channels taken down, however that it gets tedious as he has uploaded thousands of videos. He discusses how people claim that they are using his content under fair use to reupload it, and how under most cases his content is not used under fair use.

0:34:14: Grey discusses the meaning of fair use in the United States, and how using content commercially and whether or not the new content competes with the borrowed content determines whether or not content is being used under fair use.

0:37:15: They discusses how newspapers use content from YouTube without the permission of creators and put it into their own videos players to commercially exploit it.

0:40:23: Brady discusses how a newspaper made a picture gallery of one of his videos on their website after he refused to let them reupload his video in their own player instead of the YouTube player.

0:41:32: Grey discusses how letting copyright expire allows creators to make new versions of previous works, set in new settings with different characters and added themes. He discusses how letting people recreate previous works can allow even greater works to be created, and can inspire others to create their own, separate works.

0:45:44: Brady argues that allowing people to use previous works in their own allows creators to exploit the fame of previous works to gain a wider audience for their own works. They discuss how people prefer books and movies that are already famous to those that are not.

0:47:22: Grey argues that it is worth having some bad sequels or recreations of previous works in order to have good ones.

0:49:07: Grey says that the benefit of having a sixty year copyright would be the ability for people alive today to be able to watch a remade version of the original Star Wars movies. He also discusses how the control over the distribution of a movie allows George Lucas to disallow the viewing of the original versions of the Star Wars movies.

0:51:27: Brady discusses how the Star Wars prequels have tainted the original Star Wars movies, while Grey discusses how some people cannot distinguish between the prequels and the originals.

0:52:41: Grey discusses how allowing creators of content a nearly infinite copyright timeframe can cause the original versions of works to disappear or become distorted. He talks about the Star Wars despecialized editions, which are versions of the original Star Wars movies that have been edited to remove things added in the George Lucas Special editions.

0:54:36: Brady mentions the film "The People Vs. George Lucas", and mentions the copyright issues behind "The Zapruder film". He also asks Grey what he would do differently if he were to remake his copyright video. Grey says that he is not sure whether or not he could fully explain his thoughts about copyright in a video.

0:57:05: Grey discusses a TED Talk which talked about the fact that there is no copyright on fashion in the United States. Grey agrees with the point made in the video that no copyright is good for the fashion world, however believes that copyright is necessary for other fields of creativity.


Brady: You're not very good at that are you?

Grey: I can normally do it, it's just that you're looking.

[HI theme plays]

Grey: No, wait, before- we can't, we can't start with the main topic. We have to start with some follow-up.

Brady Ah, really?

Grey: Yes.

Brady: What did we do previously? I've already forgotten.

Grey: [chuckles] Well, well last time we were- we were talking about being wrong on the internet.

Brady: Being wrong on the internet.

Grey: Yeah, that was- that was last time. Now, at the time we're recording this, the podcasts have not gone live, so we- we haven't had any listener feedback.

Brady: It's like a secret still, isn't it?

Grey: Yes it is- it is a secret.

Brady: O- only you and I know about this.

Grey: That's true, it is just the two of us. Um,-

Brady: Okay.

Grey: -when I was editing the previous podcast, I heard myself say something that I just- I had to correct in this one, so I made a note for follow up that is coming from me about last- last week's episode.

Brady: So you're responding to feedback from yourself.

Grey: Yes that's right, I am responding to feedback from myself.

Brady: Because you did something wrong in our video about being wrong.

Grey: That's right, and this is sort of delightful as a first up- uh, as a first, uh, follow-up section, is that I- I called "The Economist" "The Economist Magazine".

Brady: Right.

Grey: Right,-

Brady: That's bad, is it?

Grey: It is, because "The Economist" makes a- makes a very strong point about always calling themselves a newspaper. And, so when they write opinion pieces they always say "this newspaper thinks..." you know, whatever it is, uh, and they're very- they're very pernickety about this, uh, and so they- they always like to be referred to as a newspaper, and so I would- I have to say that as a first piece of follow-up, I would apologize to "The Economist" for saying "The Economist Magazine"; I should have said the Economist newspaper.

Brady: It does look more like a magazine though, doesn't it?

Grey: Yeah, if you ever get your hands on one, it looks totally like a magazine, which is why- this is- this is- I think going to be the problem with podcasts for us in the future, you know, in this- in this little series is that, I know that they call themselves a newspaper, but it looks so much like a magazine, even though I know the correct thing, right? I said the wrong thing, I'm sure that's going to happen lots. Um, and I went to look it up, and it originally was a- a newspaper and so I actually- I saw an original copy of the original Economist (my library has one) from 1843, and it looks like a real big New York Timesy kind of newspaper. Um, so it- it apparently started as a newspaper and then, uh, on their website they have a little thing about how they slowly transitioned into magazine form, but they're still calling themselves a newspaper, so,-

Brady: Wow, that was good man. That's uh... yeah, I don't know what to say to that, but I do find interesting we've spent this long dealing with corrections and feedback from a podcast that no one's heard.

Grey: Yes. [chuckles]

Brady: Heaven help us when people actually start hearing these things.

Grey: Well- well yes, that's why I- I- I- um, it- it would not surprise me if the later episodes of this little run are basically entirely feedback. That- that would not surprise me if that ends up being the case.

[advertisement intro]

Grey: "Today's sponsor is "Audible dot com", a leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment. Listen to audiobooks whenever and wherever you want." That's the official part they want me to read, and now this is just me. I want you, the listener, to know that I actually reached out to "Audible dot com" on purpose, because they're a product that I use every day. Audiobooks are a huge part of my personal life, and my working life, and I feel like my entire life has just been enriched by their existence, and I've been an Audible user for many years. As I'm recording this right now, I'm about to go into a long weekend of animating my next video, which is incredibly tedious work, and it is exactly the kind of thing that I just could not get through without something to listen to, so, I'm going to be in the market for a new audiobook to find for myself. Now, I want to recommend something to you, and that is one of my all-time favourite audiobooks, Stephen King's On Writing. The book is sort of half a memoir, and half Stephen King's advice on writing, but even if your not a huge Stephen King fan, it's a very interesting book, 'cause Stephen King has lived... an unusual life. And, I also want to have this be my first Audible recommendation because I think it's a great example of how audiobooks can be better than... just the regular book. I first read the paper version of On Writing many years ago, I think when it first came out, and it was good and I enjoyed it, but, um, the version on Audible is actually narrated by Stephen King himself, and I have to say, it adds so much to the book. He really puts a lot of emphasis on parts of the book which I didn't really notice the first time going through, but then by listening to his voice, it's obvious that "this is hugely important to him", or "this is a thing that really irritates him", and he's a great narrator. So, On Writing is just a perfect example of how the audiobook has way more to offer than the dead-tree edition, so, I highly recommend it, and because Audible are awesome, you can listen to that for free. You can get a free audiobook, and a thirty-day trial by signing up at "Audible dot com slash Hello Internet", all one word. Using that URL is how Audible knows that you came from this podcast, and so, not only do you get yourself a free book, but you help make this podcast experiment a successful one. So once again, that is "Audible-dot-com slash Hello Internet". There will be a link in the description of this podcast if you just want to click it, but otherwise just type in "Audible dot com slash Hello Internet" and get your free audiobook and thirty-day trial. Okay, that's enough from "me in future", and now we're going to go back to the conversation about copyright.

[advertisement outro]

Brady: Today, we're talking about copyright.

Grey: [deep breath] Yes, I think that's, uh, that's what we've settled on for today's topic.

Brady: This is really interesting- uh- for me this is really interesting because, this is, this is a front I feel like I'm attacked on from both sides, because, as someone who creates content and therefore has to use, you know, use material, I- I can sort of tread into the copyright field in that way, but then as someone who actually creates content that I own, I can kind of be on the other end, the receiving end of problems with copyright, so, it's a, uh, it's going to be interesting to see- to hear what positions we may or may not have on this.

Grey: Yeah I'm actually- I'm actually very curious to hear where you stand on this issue yourself, um, because I think you- you might deal with it much more directly than I do.

Brady: Hmm...

Grey: Um... So, I'm not- I'm not exactly sure where to start. Um,-

Brady: I think we should say,-

Grey: Oh.

Brady: I- a good point to start, is, for people who may not know, your position is quite well known on this, I guess, because you have made a video on it.

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: And before we- before we had this chat, I- I admitted to you that I hadn't watched the video,-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -and then, so I went to have a quick look at it, and it turns out I had watched the video. So, I've watched the video twice, once about a year ago, and once again today, and you make a lot of different, uh, points, and, I- it's perhaps not best for me to encapsulate them, do you want to encapsulate the essence of your argument in- in that famous video.

Grey: Okay, well, now this's gonna have to be embarrassing because, I watched my own video this morning, because I couldn't- I couldn't remember the video very well, to be honest.

Brady: Mm.

Grey: I was thinking, "what- you know, what did I say?". I remember complaining about some stuff, and I thought, "I have to- I have to rewatch this thing". And, I had the unusual- uh- the unusual effect of watching this, and I thought "I don't think that guy is very convincing", you know,- [chuckles]

[both chuckle]

Grey: -um, I'm not sure that this was- this was the best possible video to be made about copyright. Um, and so I- I look at that, and I'm actually- when I was watching it today, I thought, "I'm not sure what conclusion other people would draw after having watched this". I- I- I-

Brady: Ah...

Grey: Having seen it, I feel like, I'm- I- I now think that I made much of a less clear point in that video than the (I think) two-years-ago-now me thought that I was making. Uh,-

Brady: Okay.

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: Do you want to hear what I took from it?

Grey: [still chuckling] That- well that- that's how I'm trying to lead up to this is what- what do you think?-

Brady: You could just ask,-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -you could just ask me, I'll tell you.

Grey: What do you- what do you think I was saying in that?

Brady: I mean, you made- you made a lot of points, as you do, you made a lot of points in a short space of time. The two main things I took from it, one of which I quite agreed with, and the other one, I wouldn't say I disagreed with, but it didn't sit very comfortably with me.

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: The first point, and the one that I completely agreed with, was that the argument for copyright and this increasingly, um, this increasing amount of protection for the creators of the content to have this really, you know, rigorous copyright protection, their argument is spurious. Their argument that it encourages the creation of more content is not a particularly valid argument.

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: Uh, and I think you- you make that argument quite well, and I can see that and I'm sure we might discuss it in a minute, but the other thing I took from it, was you- I- I think it came across that you had this attitude that anyone should be allowed to create anything from other people's creations. You used the example of Star Wars quite a lot-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -in your uh, in your video, and that- it almost came across that you felt that anyone should be able to create their own stories, their own backstories, their own future, their own modifications of the characters, and the Star Wars universe would uh, you know, expand even more than it already has,-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -and, I followed your argument for it, but it just didn't sit that comfortably with me. I'm not saying you're wrong, and I'm open to hear you talk about it some more, but that part of your argument didn't sit that comfortably with me, and I actually sat there thinking "why should everyone just be able to take the Star Wars universe or take someone else's stories, and make up their own stories?" I don't think that's encouraging creativity necessarily, isn't that it discouraging it and just saying "well let's just keep modifying the same old stories"?


Grey: Yeah, so, you picked up on the exact part that I was watching, and I thought "current me is not super convinced by previous me's argument" on that- on that part of it as well. Um,-

Brady: Ah, okay.

Grey: - because I was aware that I was talking about, you know, telling stories in the Star Wars universe, or telling stories in the Harry Potter universe, and I thought the same thing, like, "I'm not convinced by this". This was- this- this could have been better, um, you know,-

Brady: Well, what- is it-

Grey: -if I were to redo it.

Brady: -is still your position?

Grey: [sighs] So, okay, before- before I say my explicit position I think I want to- I want to just lay out a couple of things that we're going to talk about.

Brady: Okay.

Grey: So- so copyright is a kind of intellectual property. And, just for terms for the rest of the conversation, right? There are three main kinds of intellectual propyright- um, intellectual property. There's copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, right, so a trademark is like, Coca-Cola, right? You can't sell soda and call it Coca-Cola, that's a trademark. Um, nobody really has a problem with trademarks, it doesn't really come up in a debate, it's the least contentious of the three.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, there's patents which I don't want to get derailed in, but for just, you know, briefly, the vague idea is that you invent something, and in the United States you get, uh, it's about twenty years depending on what kind of thing- um, you get a 20 year protection on your invention,-

Brady: Yep.

Grey: -and then there's copyright, which is for creative works, right? So, um, not things like technology but you write a story and- and then you have the copyright for that story.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, so those are the three kinds of things, and... I think [sigh]... here- here- here is how I- I get to this position and I think what I was- if I was going to remake that video what I might try to mold into a- a more concise argument is that, I think there's a real analogy between patents expiring and copyright expiring.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: And I think about it this way: So, the Apple corporation invented the iPhone in 2007, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: What what didn't happen is that, you know, they- they didn't, like, Steve Jobs didn't wander into the forest as a pure human with no tools or anything, and like, carve from stone and nothing, an iPhone.

Brady: [giggles] Right.

Grey: Right, and-

Brady: Some people would believe that, but yeah.

Grey: Yeah, right like, he didn't bring it down from on the mountain you know, just like, wrought by his own greatness.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, an iPhone can only exist if you live in a world that has a certain amount of technology that has already progressed to this point.

Brady: So this is kind of "standing on the shoulders of giants" type argument.

Grey: Yep, that's exactly right, it's standing on the shoulders of giants, and- and in the original keynote, he actually has a little line where he's talking about multi-touch you know, like touching the screen in multiple places, and-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -and he says- he yeah, he literally says something like "this is the iPhone, and" you know "yes, we sure have patented the heck out of it".

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, now, the thing is, with- I think that the comparison to think about is that, we as a society have decided that patents only last 20 years. And so-

Brady: Yeah, yeah.

Grey: -it is going to expire. And, the reason is because you didn't make it all of yourself; you owe this kind of debt to everyone who came before you, and the- the limited nature of a patent means that at some point the work that you have done will be available for people in the future to build on as well.

Brady: Okay.

Grey: And, I think it's- it's really- it's obvious if you talk about patents, if you imagine a world where, you know, whatever the patents are for the iPhone, or for the lightbulb, or for anything, if you think about a world where they lasted as long as copyright lasts.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Which I think at the time of this recording, I think in the United States it's "lifetime of the Creator plus... 70 years?", I think? Um,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: It's-

Brady: It's a long time.

Grey: It's a very long time, right? You can immediately see how that would just destroy technological progress.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Right? If Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone, we're here, you know, 150 years later, and still only the Bell corporation can produce all of the telephones in America.

Brady: Yeah, I sort of- you sort of said a moment ago that the- the reason for the expiration of the patents was to kind of, you know, it's- it's the debt you pay back to those that came before you, I see it more as preventing a whole bunch of dead ends everywhere, you know, it keeps- it stops, uh, you know, it stops progress being completely choked.

Grey: Right, right that's- that's another- that's another good point, right?

Brady: But- but this is-

Grey: That's- that's the same kind of thing.

Brady: -but this is, yeah, this is something which is important to society, and you apply the same thing to inventing Darth Vader.

Grey: Right, yeah. [laughs] So, right? This- that- that's great, right? Because I- I think the reason that- that copyrights are such a contentious issue, uh, at least in- in the world of the Internet, right? This is a thing that comes up all the time, argument over copyright law. Uh, and it's because I think that creative works are similar to something like patents; it's kind of similar to a- like a technological progress, but it's- it's not quite the same.

Brady: Ah.

Grey: And so, my- my general thought is this- is that no artistic work, a book, or a movie, or anything, exists independent from the society in which it was created. Um, so, there's a- there's a great great great series of videos on YouTube, um, called "Everything is a Remix", um, by this guy, Kirby Ferguson, I think is his last name,-

Brady: Right.

Grey: -um, have you seen it?

Brady: I haven't, no.

Grey: It's- it's-

Brady: I've heard of it.

Grey: -it's really worth watching.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, and, he just- he goes through a couple of fields, he does music, and he does movies, and, uh, something else, it's a three part series. And he shows, for example, he takes Star Wars as an example, and shows how tho- those famous, like, opening crawls that go at an angle, the opening, uh, introduction,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -which is so iconically Star Wars,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -was not first done in Star Wars, it was done in these other space movies from earlier times, um, and he- he- he just shows how everything that you can- you can find is built on stuff that came before it.

Brady: And in fairness to George Lucas who to- has taken a beating from you, when he made the Star Wars movies and the Indiana Jones movies, he was always very open about how much they drew upon-

Grey: Oh yeah.

Brady: -those serials and things like that.

Grey: Yeah. Yeah, this is something that's-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -that I think is- is really interesting, is that, um, people in the field are totally aware of this, but directors definitely mention this, right? You can find tons of interviews where people are saying they're recreating scenes shot-for-shot from old movies,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -right? You're- you're building on- on the past, and-

Brady: They almost take a pride in it, don't they? Like it's a...yeah.

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: And so, to me, there's a- there's a similar kind of- of almost like a societal debt the same way with patents, right? You couldn't just have made Star Wars all on your own, right? Or, uh, you know, people who write books, like the- the world of literature depends on what has come before. It doesn't just exist in isolation.

Brady: So it's almost like a tax. Is it almost like, you know, the- the price you pay from society enriching you enough to create Harry Potter, is that one day they get Harry Potter back.

Grey: [sighs] Boy, I really don't like the phrasing of- of a tax. But,-

Brady: [chuckles] It's slightly emotive, I'll give you that.

Grey: [chuckles] Yeah, no, but see, that's- that's why you're good at asking questions, right? Um, I do not- I do not like that- that phrasing, because... I- I will try to argue against it, right? Here- here's the thing that I think is easy to forget, is that copyright is a- is a constructed thing, right? We don't have to live in a world where copyright exists. Um,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: It is- copyright is a temporary monopoly over the distribution of a- of a creative work, enforced by the government wherever you happen to live.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Right? So, it is a thing that is legally created, and I think once you start talking about, um, incentives on a governmental level, you have to start thinking about "what are they for". I think without a doubt, more artistic works are created because copyright exists.

Brady: Right.

Grey: Um, which might not be the impression that everybody gets from my videos based on the comments.

Brady: Definitely, definitely not. That-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -definitely runs slightly against the- the- the feeling of- of that video.

Grey: Right, and- and so people watch that video and they think that I am a... I am a copyright abolitionist, is-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -is the usual term, right? "I want to get rid of all copyrights". And that is- that is actually not my position at all.

Brady: Right.

Grey: I think that if there- if there were no copyrights, there would still be artistic works created, right? People would still paint and write books and things like this,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -but I don't think that there would be as many large-scale expensive projects brought to bear, like a Star Wars, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Which, I love Star Wars, and I'm glad Star Wars exists, and I'm pretty sure that nobody, no- no studio would have invested the amount of money to rec- to make something like that, if there wasn't any kind of copyright protection,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -even back in 1977, when the technology of distribution was horrific-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -compared to how it is today,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -it still wouldn't have made financial sense to- to make it if theaters could have just, you know, taken reels from each other and displayed it everywhere.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: So I am pro-copyright. Um, the problem that I have is with the functionally infinite, um, position that copyright has now. That basically, copyright lasts forever. That every time it's come up where something might start entering the public domain, copyright has been extended another ten, twenty years, you know, whatever it is depending on the particular law. So that- that is the problem that I have with it, as I think we should have a limited copyright, but I would definitely not be in favor of removing copyright entirely. I think that- that would have a detrimental effect.

Brady: Do you have a number in mind here?

Grey: Ohh... [sighs]

Brady: Or you just saw vaguely saying that the balance of power is... uh, inadequate.

Grey: There-

Brady: Basically what I'm saying is-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -"when can I take your UK video and upload it to my own channel".

Grey: Right, right, right, um, I don't- I don't- I'm not necessarily interested in arguing where the boundaries should be.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Because I feel like any numbers that I would come up with would be just semi-arbitrary, right?

Brady: Of course, yeah.

Grey: I- I don't have any idea, um, what- what the optimal number would be, and I also think it's a weird situation because the optimal number for someone, like myself, who depends on copyright for a living on YouTube, might be very different from a multi-million-dollar multi-year film project, like - to get off of Star Wars - like the Lord of the Rings, right? God knows how much those movies cost to make, um, and, you know, if you ask the studio executives, it may turn out that they're actually counting on a ten-year return on their money for considering a project like that, I don't know. I- so-

Brady: Yeah, yeah.

Grey: -um, I guess, my intuitive feeling is that anything less than... five years I would feel like, "ooh, that- that seems very small", and anything more than a hundred years would feel like "gosh, that's a long time".

Brady: Oh, that's crazy.

Grey: Right, right? But between- between those two boundaries like I'm- I'm much more interested in just copyright being limited, than I am in exactly where those boundaries are. If- if, um, the United States tomorrow said we're just setting copyright at a hundred years, I would consider that a huge victory. I would think that would be great. Um, if they- if there was an actual cutoff point for when things entered the public domain.

Brady: What inspired you to make that copyright video you did make? Like, was it- was it frustration you were having trying to source material for your own videos, was it, uh, were you wanting to write your own, uh, Star Wars comic,-

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -or what- what- what fired you up about it, 'cause it fired you up about didn't it?

Grey: Yeah, we- it was a- it was the secret Star Wars fan fiction that I wanted to write.

Brady: Right, okay.

Grey: Um... no, that- that was, uh, that was not the reason.

Brady: No.

Grey: Um, I had to look back at the exact timeline, but that was around the point when I was beginning to take making videos more seriously, and so I was running into copyright problems, uh, more often,-

Brady: Mm-hmm.

Grey: -um, in the sense of limitations of- of things that just can't be used sometimes that were just seemingly absurdly old stuff, um, that still couldn't be used. Uh, and I recently-

Brady: So some image you might want to use in a video or something like that.

Grey: Yeah, the images is- is something that I come across the most often, where- it, you know, even trying to track down the person who took this image would be a daunting task, but since I- I like to play it relatively safe, you know, I'll find some image from, you know, 1936, you know, and you can't use that, even though the photographer is almost certainly not around anymore,-

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: -um, because that still falls under, um, you know, the copyright, uh, length in the United States. So I think that that can be partly a- partly a frustration, um,-

Brady: Are you ever a victim, like, we're sort of talking about, you know, these big corporations these big- these big baddies, like, you create content, and presumably it gets appropriated, sometimes inappropriately. I- do you- do you find yourself ever being, uh, protected by this?

Grey: Oh yeah, all the time. I mean, in- in my own- in my own work, I am- I am like the big baddie in the scenario-

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: -much- much more than I am the victim, right? So I- I am really cautious about using anything under fair use, uh, rules. Um, I do-

Brady: Don't start me on fair use.

Grey: [chuckles] Oh...

Brady: Or, do start me in a minute, yeah.

Grey: I- I might ask you in a minute on that,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -yeah, I am- I am- let's just say I am- I am not a lawyer, and I am not giving legal advice, um, but I- I rely on the fair use doctrine as little as humanly possible. The risks of being on the end of some kind of- of copyright problem are- are large, right? But,- so on the flip side though, I- and I was just doing this today, right? So this- this happened today and this happens very often, which is-

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: -someone- you- it's easiest when it happens on YouTube, but someone somewhere uploads my video to their own channel.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Right, that- and that happens fairly often. And, very often they upload it with ads turned on as well, right?

Brady: Yes.

Grey: So now, the video that I have made is on someone else's channel, and they're running ads on top of it.

Brady: To try and make money out of your creation.

Grey: Yeah... um... yes, let's- let's just say- yes, I- I'm not even entirely sure that that's always the explicit goal, but, that-

Brady: Oh, okay.

Grey: -that is what is happening anyway, people reupload the video.

Brady: Go ahead.

Grey: Um, and, [chuckles] one of the things that- that frustrates me to no end is I- I- this- this phrase that I see all the time on the Internet, which i think is really interesting, and it is "copyright not intended", you know, and so some- someone will upload the video, and then below in the description they will say-

Brady: [chuckles]

Grey: -"copyright not intended".

Brady: Right...

Grey: You know, "this video, I didn't make it, it's by CGP Grey"

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: And maybe, if, you know, it's a good day, there's a link to my actual channel, but very- very rarely there.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: All right,-

Brady: [giggles]

Grey: -it's- it's especially hilarious, if I find like a full feature-length film uploaded somewhere,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -so it's like I'm- I'm browsing around YouTube and- and I'll see like, "Oh! Lord of the Rings Return of the King uploaded by jockdude76", right?

Brady: [giggles]

Grey: And in the description it says "no copyright intended", uh, you know, "this- this was made by Universal Pictures" or whatever.

Brady: If I don't call this podcast "copyright no intended", I'm gonna be very disappointed in you.

Grey: [laughing] Okay I think- I think that will be the title. Um,-

[both chuckling]

Grey: -and I- I think this is very interesting because, I'm- ta- I'm going to take these people at their word, and that- that people think that copyright is a kind of attribution system, right? That-

Brady: Oh like, uh, yeah, like, so "I'm not taking the glory for making Return of the King"-

Grey: Right, "I'm not taking the glory for making Return of the King", "I just want to be clear: I didn't make this last weekend and upload it today".

Brady: "Thank you jockdude77,-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -'cause for a minute there, I thought you were awesome".

Grey: Yeah, um, [laughs] like, "that's amazing, why don't you make more".

Brady "Wow". [laughs]

Grey: Yeah, uh, and-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -so I think that that's how people think of- of copyright, you know, whereas, from- from my perspective, and of course from studio perspectives, the power of copyright is really the control over distribution.

Brady: Yes.

Grey: Right? That is really what it is. And so, this is where (like I was saying before) that- that monopoly power from the government comes from. I am able to limit the distribution of my videos to YouTube, and I do that because YouTube has the best kind of agreement with advertising, and so that is how I'm able to make money.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: That's how I make my living. And that's- that's where the power of copyright comes from.

Brady: So what do you do when you have a- a "copyright not intended"? Do you, you know, do you send in the hounds?

Grey: [sighs] Yeah, I mean the thing is, I do... I do flag it, right? I will flag those for copyright. You know, and- and- and it's- it's such a- it's a complicated issue, because, I used to try to, much more than I do now (I still do sometimes), but I used to try to contact people and- and give them the benefit of the doubt, and say, you know "hey, uh, I'm not sure if you're aware, um, but I- you know- I would like you to take down the video", um, but it's- it's reached a point where that is just not practically possible, trying to keep track of who have I contacted, how long has it been since I've heard from them,-

Brady: Yeah, yeah.

Grey: -and- and so this is where, I do feel kind of like a jerk, especially when it's obvious that it's on- on, like not a scammy channel, right? It's on just some- some persons channel, I feel kinda bad about that.

Brady: Yeah, yeah, it's just- or just some- some high school kid or someone who, you know, is a fan or something, yeah.

Grey: Yeah, I do feel kind of bad about that, but the problem is that this... the reason I do take those things down is because, they do represent a kind of- of threat to my ability to make a living, and it's that,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -I have had videos of mine, that are not on my channel, that do go viral.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Right? And that is just awful. So I've had- I've had videos of mine, that were uploaded to other places, that literally ended up getting hundreds of thousands of views on a- on another location. That's why at this point if I come across it, like- I will flag those things, you know, especially if it's clearly a commercial operation, but, I just- I do- I do feel kind of like a jerk doing that, even though like that is the purpose of- of copyright is to limit the distribution, so that content creators can earn a living at this.

Brady: It's a difficult situation, especially for people who make, sort of the, cover kind of educational content that- like people like you and- you and me make because, it's- people will say, "well you should just be glad that a hundred thousand people have seen the video, you're all about spreading the- the knowledge and the love and the information",-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -but, you know, you've gotta- you've got to eat, and pay the rent, and- and those things, and I think people- people forget that, and, you know, it's- it's hard, 'cause like you say, you end up looking like a bit of a jerk, but, I don't know,-

Grey: [unintelligible]

Brady: -I hope people realize that.

Grey: What do you, what do you do under that circumstance, if- if that comes up with you?

Brady: Well... I sort of sometimes will flag it, although to be honest though, the procedure that YouTube put you through to complain about someone reuploading your video, unless you know something I don't know, is actually quite laborious, and uh, I don't always really fancy filling out all the forms and,-

Grey: I do know something you don't know.

Brady: Oh, okay...

[both chuckles]

Brady: Is that something- is that something we should discuss, later? Is this too much minutiae for the uh, for the average listener, but maybe I'll ask you about that later.

Grey: No, I can- I can- I can just- I can say very quickly, uh, I use a program called TextExpander, which allows you to, um, fill out forms like that-

Brady: Oh...

Grey: -automatically every time, so I have it all plugged in, so I just have to hit a keyboard command and it basically fills out the whole form for me automatically.

Brady: You are like the most efficient man in the universe.

Grey: [chuckles] Well, when you start- when you start having to do a lot of these things, you find a way to do it faster.

Brady: That- we should do that as a podcast one day, "Grey's efficiencies", 'cause you've told me about other ones in the past that you do, that I completely love, so, we must make a note of that, but anyway,-

Grey: I imagine that will either be the most awesome or the most boring episode ever. But,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: we'll see, we'll see.

Brady: All right, we'll get to that. But-

Grey: But so-

Brady: -yeah,-

Grey: -so you-

Brady: -but I do-

Grey: -so you generally flag it.

Brady: -I- I will flag it, sometimes, but, sometimes, I mean I- I mean I've uploaded nearly two thousand videos to YouTube, across my channels,-

Grey: [sighs]

Brady: -and it is- it does get to the point where it's difficult, but, I will- I will do it, you know, sometimes someone will email me and say, "are you aware they've done this", and, and I'll do it, but I do have issues with fair use as well, because the other thing that people seem to be quite keen on these days along with, um, "copyright not intended",-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -is to say "I'm using this under fair use".

Grey: Ah, yeah, as though those words themselves are just the magic incantation that makes it fair use.

Brady: Yeah, exactly, and also, you know, "a word like fair means it must be fair",-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -I think- I think that is something people are really exploiting in an unfair way, and it's- and again I don't think, you know, I think fair use has become the new way of saying "well I couldn't possibly have made this myself", or "I couldn't have shot this myself, or obtained this myself, and therefore, once I reach the point where I can't do it myself, it is fair for me to take it from someone else".

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: And I don't think that's what fair use means. Or, the other thing I think people started doing is, because, you know, some of us are in a position where we've managed to create a piece of footage or something that is nice or exceptional, people think "gee I'd love to use that in one of my videos, that would- that would help make me successful; I will build my video around that, and then call that-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -fair use". You know, this is obviously the case for, you know, people like Destin and- and myself to an extent when we- when you start using high-speed cameras, uh-

Grey: Oh yeah, yeah, some of- some of the stuff that you guys have made,- I mean that- that's some serious equipment to get those shots, uh-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -they don't just- they don't just happen.

Brady: Yeah, and- but then someone will just take this and say "well, I'm using this under fair use", when clearly they're just using it because, you know, they think it's in their interest to have something exceptional in their video, and you know, this is- I think people are being really naughty with fair use these days, uh, and you know, I'm not a lawyer either, and I certainly don't want to get into an argument with the sort of people who hide behind fair use, because they tend to be quite difficult people from my experience, but-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -but I do think this fair use thing is be- is being a bit silly, and I- uh- I mean- I have used things under fair use, and I think there's a way to do it, and a way not to do it, and some people are, uh, are-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -are doing it in the way not to do it.

Grey: Yeah, I mean- I- I'm- I just- I just pulled up the uh, the sort of the guidelines for fair use the United States, you know, and there's- there's a bunch of things, and again not a lawyer, um, but the- the- the ones that I think are the most relevant here, or, um, is you know, whether or not the person who's using your material is doing it commercially. That's a- that's an immediate count against it possibly being fair use, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Are you running ads on your channel using somebody else's stuff? Well guess what, you're gonna have a way harder time proving that that's fair use.

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: Um, but the one that I think is really relevant is, um, again this is for the US courts,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -is whether or not the other person's use affects the market for the original material.

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: And so I think that this example is,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -like what happens to me where sometimes I see organizations use a section of my video,

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -right? And maybe, a couple, you know, seconds of my video would be totally fair use, but if you take the core explanation part, and play that, right? That's an argument for saying like, you have just appropriated the reason people would watch the thing in the first place.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Or, they're like, with some of those slow-motion videos that are amazing, right? The bideo- the video that you made is built around that slow-motion part, and so if somebody else uses that, that sounds a whole lot like, it doesn't matter if it's only a two second clip, if it's the heart of what the original thing was, that strongly counts against it possibly being fair use.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, so I- you know, I try to- when I use stuff I try really hard to keep those guidelines in mind, and it's like in that copyright video, I have a- a single note, you know, the opening note from Star Wars,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -and I look through the guidelines, and it's like: Okay, I am using it for commercial, which counts against me, but there is- there is no- there is no Court in the United States who was ever going to argue that somebody watched my copyright video, and didn't feel the need to watch Star Wars,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -because the opening note was in it,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -right? I have not replaced or- or stolen the value from Star Wars by using that opening note. But, even still, like, I- I've- I thought even very long and hard about even doing that. Um, but, yeah it's- ultimately with the fair use stuff what makes it so hard is that there- there isn't a solid guideline that you can use, like the- the ultimate arbiters is a court, um, you know, a court of law and, that's- that's just uncomfortable for everybody.

Brady: Yeah, and- and also- yeah, and, you know- and who wants to get lawyers involved, I mean,-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -it's pretty easy stealing stuff from YouTube, isn't it? 'Cause you know, we haven't got much money, we don't- we can't be employing lawyers; I don't often see them stealing, like, you know, game seven of the World Series and putting that up on YouTube as fair use,-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -'cause they know they're going to get it in the neck, but they-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -uh, they'll- they'll pinch it from people who they know won't take them on.

Grey: Yeah. I- I will-

Brady: It's frustrating.

Grey: Yeah, it- it is frustrating. Um... yeah I- I was just going to say very quickly that the- the worst (I will not name specific names for various reasons) but the worst, worst I have found at stealing my stuff, are newspapers, by far.

Brady: Ohh...

Grey: So the online editions-

Brady: Ohh...

Grey: -of newspapers-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -are that- are the- the most shameless takers of YouTube content, like, I- I cannot believe how shameless they are sometimes. Um,-

Brady: They are unbelievable, and they've got a nice little set of tricks they use too, like, every time.

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: Like, the whole- I love- one of my favorites is they'll, uh, take the video, like, put it into their own player so they can commercially exploit it, put up on their newspaper-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -and, you know, and, you know, within that 24 hours that you contact them and say "what the heck are you doing?",-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -you know, "at the very least could you embed the YouTube- my YouTube video, so that at least the- you know, if you want to showcase the video you don't need to put on your player",-

Grey: Yep.

Brady: -and they'll be like "oh, sorry, sorry it was a mixup", they always say-

Grey: Right,-

Brady: -it was a mixup.

Grey: -it's a mix of every time.

Brady: Every time. It- I've got- like- it's happened dozens of times.

Grey: [chuckles] Yeah,-

Brady: It's always a mix-up, "we meant to put the embed- embedded YouTube video in,-

Grey: Right.

Brady: -we'll replace it now", so they take out their version in the player, and replace it with your YouTube version, but of course by then it's no longer on the front page of the- of the website and all the impressions have happened and all the traffic has gone away, and oh,-

Grey: Yeah that's exactly it. They know the first 24 hours are the ones that are the valuable ones,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -and so they'll just delay and delay until they can see the traffic has dropped off, and, you know, then- then they'll replace it if you're lucky. Um, but yeah news- newspapers are by far the worst, and my- my guess- here- here's my guess about this: Is that- I think they're under, just tremendous financial constraints because of changing technology,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -but they also don't have the same kind of oversight that a TV news organization would have.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Right? I think a TV news organization would have enough infrastructure to say "listen guys let's not risk this", you know, "we're- we're in the video industry world, this is a bigger problem" and so I think newspapers are at this interesting crux where they're just,- they're under a lot of pressure, and maybe don't have the same kind of oversight as- as video news would, but, anyway, that's just- I always like to complain about the news if I possibly can, and-

Brady: Oh no...

Grey: -newspapers, you know, [laughs] they're not exactly- they're not earning my love, with the way they treat YouTubers.

Brady: Another You- another YouTuber who's a- who we both know who I won't name, uh, but, he- he's had that happen to him a lot as well, and he, um, he's starting to get a bit more hard about it, and then writing to the papers and saying, "yeah, okay buddy, thanks for replacing it but that's not good enough; you need to pay me a fee for what you just did", and he's had some success with that, and they've started to say "aw, okay", so I think they kind of- maybe they're realizing, but it's- it's scandalous, and the lies, and the- anyway I'm not going to sit here and-

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -I mean, I used to work for a tabloid newspaper, and, you know, I'm- I'm not going to sit here in whinge about newspapers.

Grey: [chuckles] No, we will, eventually we'll talk about the news,-

Brady: We will, yeah, we will eventually [inaudible]

Grey: and then you can let it all pour out, let it all pour out.

Brady: They're very naughty, they're very naughty, there very naughty about it, and they're very, um, sparing in their, um, giving of, you know, links or credit as well, you know.

Grey: Yeah, yeah.

Brady: I had one, I had one video that was, um- oh, I could say what video it was, it was the one where I went into the- the Bank of England gold bullion vault. Uh, and obviously that was- that's not an- a thing you see every day,-

Grey: Right.

Brady: So, a few people wanted to use it, and I had one newspaper contact me and say "can we use the video in an article", uh, "and we want to put it in our own player" and I said "well, no can you please use the YouTube player so that if people watch it, you know-"

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: "-they're going to watch the same video anyway" and they were like "oh, okay, we'll think about it", and because I'd specifically told-

Grey: Let me guess... [chuckles]

Brady: [chuckles] -I'd specifically told them they couldn't put it in their player, and it was in- in a conversation, so they couldn't go back on that, and instead I think they must have taken... ten, fifteen screengrabs-

Grey: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, yep.

Brady: -from it and just made a huge picture gallery-

Grey: Mm.

Brady: -of all the pictures from it. It's like, yeaugh! Goodness sake! So naughty. Anyway...

Grey: [chuckles] Okay, so, while- while we've been complaining about all- all of these- these things, I will-

Brady: [chuckles] We are a couple of grumpy old men-

Grey: Right, right.

Brady: -now we should probably stop.

Grey: Right, now we are. If anyone has still survived listening through-

Brady: [giggles]

Grey: -the complaints of YouTubers, right? First world YouTuber problems-

Brady: Heh-heh, yeah.

Grey: -that are copyright issues.

Brady: Yeah, exactly.

Grey: [chuckling] Um, I- I would just go- I would go back to um, one- one of the- the little notes that I wanted to make, is, um, the advantage of allowing copyright to expire. And, you know, you talked about "why should people be able to build on- on George Lucas's stuff?"

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: You know, as an example. And, I think, what- some examples of- of this which is very interesting of like, you can retell stories in much more interesting ways. And, I have- I have two examples that I really like.

Brady: Okay.

Grey: The first one- this might be slightly embarrassing, but I'm going to admit it anyway, is the, I think it's 1996 movie called Clueless,-

Brady: Oh yeah, great movie.

Grey: -starring Alicia Silverstone.

Brady: Yeah, I love that film.

Grey: Um, which is one of those movies when I first saw it, I- you know, I thought this was just the dumbest movie ever made, and for anyone who hasn't seen it, I highly recommend that you do watch it, um, but it is- on the surface, it is basically a movie about the dumbest California Valley girls you've ever seen.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Uh, and- and the exploits of their life. Um, however, later on I came to find out that the- that Clueless is a remake of Jane Austen's Emma, right? That it- it is the exact plot of Emma, just moved to this different setting, and once you know that, I think the movie Clueless becomes kind of brilliant. Um, I think it's-

Brady: That's so snobby though, isn't it? That's like, "oh, I- I- I wasn't willing to admit I liked this film, until I realized was based on something old,"

Grey: Well,-

Brady: -and famous.

Grey: yes, I- I- I will totally admit that- that- that does sound terrible.

Brady: 'Cause I've often heard it said anyway that sort of Jane Austen's stuff was considered reasonably not that highbrow at its time as well, so-

Grey: Yeah, I've- I've- I've heard that kind of stuff, um,-

Brady: I don't know if that's-

Grey: I've heard some-

Brady: -one of these fallacies...

Grey: Yeah, I- I don't- I don't know either but, um, I- I've heard similar things, and- and of course, you know, thing- things gain respect through time,-

Brady: Yeah, yeah.

Grey: you know, just because it's old, it's- it's sort of awesome. Um,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Heh-heh, don't get me started on- on Shakespeare.

Brady: Okay.

Grey: Um, but,- so I- but,- so this is an example where I think Clueless is the kind of movie that could be made, right? Because the copyright on Emma had expired.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: And, you can do interesting things with that story by moving it to a different setting. And I think that there- there is cultural value in being able to do new things with iconic characters, right? That I think at a certain point, very successful films and very successful books, they become part of the culture, and- and that is also why I'm kind of very much for some eventual limit on copyright. Uh, that- so- that- so that more can be done with these things in the future. Um, and my- a second example that I have which, I only recently discovered and then I had one of these, uh, binge watching sessions is the BBC's remake of Sherlock the Sherlock Holmes series,-

Brady: Oh, how good are they?

Grey: Have you- have you seen them?

Brady: Oh they- yeah, they're awesome.

Grey: So I think actually, as we are talking, the season 3 finale is airing on the BBC right now, which I'm looking forward to.

Brady: Yeah, yeah.

Grey: But I basically only discovered these about a month ago,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -and I watched the first one, and as- and I was like, I- I can't stop watching now, right? I have to keep watching this. Um, and I- and I've just binge watched the first two and a half seasons available at that point, and uh, it was great, and I think that this is another example of like,- Sherlock Holmes is so much more than the original author ever intended him to be, right? He's- like he is such a part art of the- of like the Anglosphere culture at this point,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, that I- I think that it is fair enough to say that- that his character belongs in the public domain and other people can do things with this kind of story, um-

Brady: I mean Sherlock might not be the best example because I know there's lots of clever, nuanced nods to the Conan Doyle books, but, is this not just a case- again and I know Sherlock's not the best example but I'll- I'll run with it, is this not a case of someone, you know, some clever story tellers and good actors and good directors making a brilliant piece of film,-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -something that's compelling, but then just appropriating a famous name and brand that has worked its way into culture to help sell their product, I mean, you could- you could make a bunch of rip-roaring detective films just like that about, you know, a guy and his assistant,-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -that would- that would on the surface be just as good, but less people would watch it because it hasn't got an iconic name like Sherlock and things like that, so, in some ways I see what you're saying, they've built- you're building on things, and you're building on things in culture,-

Grey: Mm-hmm.

Brady: -but in other ways I think they're just being- they're being a bit lazy. They're making something good, but then they're appealing to our culture which doesn't like anything unless it's already famous, and stamping that on it in much the same way, when you make a science documentary on the BBC, no matter what the topic is you're like "well we can't do this unless it's someone who's already famous presenting it" they're just stamping fame on things because our culture is so obsessed with fame.

Grey: [sighs sharply] Ach, I- I think- I think that's- that's getting off into a different argument slightly about-

Brady: [giggles]

Grey: -about fame, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: and- and also I think the, um, you know, there's some great- there's some great charts about the number of sequels, right? That have been made in movies recently, and- and this- this similar kind of idea, right? That people want to buy what they already know.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: And, my- my opinion on the bad sequels thing is like, I don't care how many bad sequels are made, I only care about the good sequels, because-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -I don't have to watch the bad sequels.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, and, my opinion is that, yeah, there's a bunch of stuff that's made that people watch it because it's Sherlock Holmes, and now I have another great Sherlock Holmes example,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -which is the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -right? Which I watched, only because it was a Sherlock Holmes movie.

Brady: Yeah, I started to watch it for that reason and I had to stop after about,-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -twenty minutes, but yeah.

Grey: There's no reason I would have watched that movie if it was not a Sherlock Holmes movie. And it's like I- I found it moderately enjoyable, but they would have not gotten my money if it was not for a Sherlock Holmes name on it, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Because I've read the Sherlock Holmes stories, like- and I'm interested in this, and so I wanted to see that interpretation, which, I was like "ah, it's okay" but, you know, I didn't watch the second one. Um,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -but, to me the- the BBC Sherlock is- is like the shining example of what you can do and I think that those- those stories are great. They're made better because it's Sherlock Holmes, because you can see like what changes have they made to these characters, or what have they kept the same,-

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: -you know, what's different now that they've moved it into a modern setting.

Brady: Yeah, that's a fair point.

Grey: I think it gains value from contrast with the originals,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -that it wouldn't have if it was a standalone piece.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, and so that's why I- I- I think it's- it's great that people can do this, and, although it will- it would never happen I would love it if there was um, you know, if like, say the copyright limit was, uh, sixty years, that when I was older, I could watch somebody redo the original Star Wars movies.

Brady: Eh...

Grey: I- I- I think that- like- there is room for them to be redone in an awesome way. Um, but with current copyright lasting forever, that will never happen, you know, and- and that that will never be able to occur.

Brady: Yeah. So we just have to put up with how George Lucas himself made his new films.

Grey: [chuckles] Yeah, and again, that- this is why George Lucas is always like the easy one to pick on, right?

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Because he made new Star Wars movies and they have been generally- they have been generally panned. And here- here's the thing, right?

Brady: "Generally panned." That was a very uh,-

Grey: [chuckling]

Brady: -diplomatic statement.

Grey: Yeah. Gen- um, but- but here's the thing, it's like I- I don't hold any grudges against him, and- and here's one of the other things with- going back to like what allows us to make our- our living, the control over the distribution, this Star Wars comes up for a very particular reason in copyright debates, and it's- it's partly because the power of the control of the distribution is what has allowed George Lucas to basically prevent showings of the original Star Wars movies as they first aired.

Brady: Yes.

Grey: Right, and this- this again is like could not be a more first world kind of problem.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: But if you are a person who kind of cares about the cultural history of the world, you know, if you're looking at movies for example, Star Wars is undoubtedly a moment in that cultural history.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: But you cannot get the original versions of those Star Wars.

Brady: It's very naughty, it's very naughty of him, isn't it.

Grey: Yeah, and I think that's where a lot of the resentment comes from, is- is people are saying, you know, nobody begrudges making those new movies, it's like "oh god", you know, or I think nobody rational does.

Brady: I- I begrudge it a little bit.

Grey: [chuckles] I- I would say, I hold no- I hold no ill will in my heart for the making of those movies. Like, he- this is the same thing, they just- they in my mind just fall into the category of the bad things. I don't have to watch the bad things, I saw them once, I will never see them again. Um, but what I-

Brady: Yeah, but do you know, I've been watching- but it- but-

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -if you see them once, I'm sorry I know this isn't about Star Wars, but-

Grey: [giggles]

Brady: -I've- I've been watching the originals again lately because they're on telly and I love them, so I watched them, and things that happen in the originals now kept giving me flashbacks to those subsequent prequels,

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -and it was tainting the originals for me because I was thinking, aw...

Grey: They just- they just don't exist. Um,-

Brady: Hmm, okay... anyway go on. Yeah, sorry.

Grey: [chuckles] I- I- I will just, also not related but, one of my podcasting heroes, a guy called John Siracusa, who I adore,-

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: -he is a huge Star Wars nerd, and he has kids, and what I love is that he is simply denying the existence-

Brady: [giggles]

Grey: -of the original three movies within his household. So,-

Brady: [giggling] They'll find out one day.

Grey: Right? They will.

Brady: They'll find out.

Grey: He- he- they- he knows that they will, but his strategy apparently is to have his kids exist long enough without ever having seen them that they will be able to distinguish between the good originals-

Brady: Right.

Grey: -and the terrible prequels.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Because I ran across this in my students enough where- where kids who saw them in similar time frames were not necessarily able to distinguish ones from the other, which is horrifying to me.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: Um, but, anyway, we're- we're getting derailed.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: [chuckles] So, what I would say is- is like, that- that is one of the problems, is that this power of the control of distribution in this one particular case has- has led to some cultural problems.

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: And- and that's- that is- that is the reason why I picked George Lucas as an example in- in my video is because this is such a fundamental problem it's like, if there were limited copyright, there would be hope of the original format of the movies entering back into- into the world. And this is one of the reasons why Congress has extended copyright protections is because their argument is, it gives the creators uh, encouragement to preserve their original works for longer. And there's some interesting data that says that's not actually the case, that what happens is the original works just get lost over longer periods of time, um, but in this particular case with George Lucas, it's also very obvious that the original work gets distorted and, you know, it is increasingly hard to try and find "as it aired in 1977" versions of the original movie. Um, I, personally, have never seen this thing, but I have heard that on the Internet, you might be able to find somewhere a thing called "the Star Wars despecialized editions", where superfans have taken the current Star Wars movies and tried to make them as close as possible-

Brady: [chuckles]

Grey: -to the original cinematic releases as they hap- again, I- I would not know of where to acquire such a thing, because it would obviously be copyright infringement,-

Brady: Exactly,-

Grey: -um, and it would-

Brady: -and we frown upon that as creators ourselves.

Grey: As a creator myself, I could never condone such an action for such an incredibly important historical thing that I personally love, you know, so I will- I will take the high road here, but I'm just like, throwing it out there that there exists this thing called the Star Wars despecialized edition.

Brady: I'll tell you something else,-

Grey: Yeah,

Brady: -I mean obviously- I'm imagining you've seen um, People vs. George Lucas, the film.

Grey: I actually have not.

Brady: Well, I highly, highly recommend that,-

Grey: It's on my list, it's on my list.

Brady: -considering what we just discussed, I can't recommend that highly enough, but also for people out there who are probably like Grey and I and spend way too much time reading Wikipedia articles,-

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -reading of the story of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination-

Grey: Oh yeah, yeah.

Brady: is, is also very interesting when it comes to, you know, copyright and ownership of material and things like that. That's a really interesting story. We'll- I'm sure we won't go into it now, but if- if- if I after this podcast, people want to go and read something, that's a good read as well.

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: Let me ask you a final question,-

Grey: Yeah.

Brady: -because obviously we've been going forever here, if you were going to make another copyright video then,-

Grey: [chuckles]

Brady: -or remake your original, one of course you would preserve the original for the archives, but-

Grey: [chuckling] I don't know I would.

Brady: -is there anything you'd do differently? Is there anything you'd say differently, or do you- do you think you pretty much have the same position?

Grey: [sighs] I- I- I was thinking about that earlier today, and I don't know that the argument that I want to be made can be made within the context of the- of the kinds of videos I put on YouTube. A coherent argument for limited copyright is hard to make, because I- I- I think that it is a- it is a real gray area of- of law. It requires a large amount of time, and it's also a topic that there is no clearly correct answer. Um, and as a- as a- as a little example I just want to throw into to put that point, there's a thought process that I learned what I was doing physics, uh, back at University, and it's this question of- of in certain situations, take the problem to infinity, and take the problem to zero.

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: And so say, you know, "what would a world be like if we had infinite copyright?", if Congress just said "oh, the heck with these extensions, we're just literally going to make it forever".

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: You know, or we have a world where Congress says, you know, "no copyright, at all;"-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -"zero". And when I think of those two worlds, if I had to pick, I'd pick the world with the infinite copyright.

Brady: Right.

Grey: I think there would be- there would be problems with that, but I think that is preferable to a world with zero copyright protection. Um, and so that- that- that is kind of one of the ways that- that gets me to this "I am for limited copyright protection, I am NOT for no copyright protection". Um, but I- I'll put a link in the, uh, the blog post for this, uh, episode, but there's- there is a very very interesting TED talk by a woman talking about the fashion industry, and how in the United States at least, fashion designs do not have copyright protection at all, so, the fashion industry is a world where there is zero copyright.

Brady: Hmm.

Grey: And, uh, she makes a very convincing argument that this is nothing but beneficial to the fashion world, because, it encourages tremendous turnover of styles, right? That if one company comes out with a particular style of dress, there's a delay in time before other companies can come out with it too, simply because of ramping up manufacturing capabilities,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -um, but it means that everybody has to keep generating new things much more quickly, and this is- this leads into my like, well, it's hard to have a definitive opinion, because, I am convinced that the fashion industry is better off without having copyright protection. And I think there's some very specific reasons why that's the case,-

Brady: Yeah.

Grey: -but I don't- I don't think that same argument applies in other creative fields, so it's a- it's a very complicated- very complicated issue.

Brady: I think, if nothing else, we have shown that it is complicated.

Grey: [chuckles] Yes.

Brady: And, as always, it has been a pleasure.

Grey: All right, I will,-

Brady: Catch you next time?

Grey: Yeah, catch you next time, all right, thanks.

Brady: All right, we got- we got a few things to discuss for next time all ready; I'm making some notes.

Grey: Oh good.

Brady: It was good talking to you mate, catch you later.

Grey: Good, all right, take care man, bye.

Episode List[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "H.I. #2: Copyright Not Intended". Hello Internet. Hello Internet. Retrieved 25 September 2017.