Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Are Entitled To Everything

So I'm sure I'll never get to the bottom of this topic or some resolution but I just had to throw a side of copywrite infringement out which I never see discussed. I'm a musician so I've seen tons of the battles over illegal downloading. I've also battled the side that sampling is a form of stealing, which it is by law. You may not like that law but I'm sure the people illegally downloading your music don't like that law either. The unfortunate side of this is for whatever reason, I don't have the time or interest to determine, sampling has been something that companies actually take action over. It's probably because big record labels aren't really affected by illegal downloading and that it's easier to prosecute a sampler? I digress.
First thing I got to thinking about today when I got home was the crazy prices on these reproduction games. The games which are a hack of an original game actually put on a cart you can play in your NES or SNES, I'm sure there are ones for Genesis and SMS I've just never seen them. So at my local retro game store you can get a Zelda game which is a hack of Link To The Past. The game clearly has Link and a triforce on the front. There is also a Super Metroid version with Samus and the name Metroid in the title. Those things aside, these games are using the intellectual property of the developer as all these people are doing in editing the existing code. Which I have absolutely nothing against this in principle making a copy to SELL is a totally different thing. That's outright stealing and profiting from another persons hard work. If you didn't create or pay for rights to use Samus or the name Metroid then your stealing that and profiting from it. That's wrong I don't care how you look at it. 
Then I got to thinking about how that's going on with tons of stuff. I was at a local comic place who sells lots of iron on things for T-shirts. A person was browsing and asked the clerk it they had a Wu-Tang symbol. I had to translate to the clerk what the customer was looking for then they checked and no they didn't have it. They told the customer it would take them a bit to make it as they would need to get the image and create one. I quickly realized that this was not something they were paying Wu-Tang to use. The name and symbol is owned by RZA unless I'm wrong, which I may be?? Either way you can't make money off something like that without it being a crime. 
I was working a project which I had planned to sample up music from Street Fighter games. I had no intention of charging for this as I don't own the rights to the music so I can't make money off of that. Ethically I believe that's wrong. Anyway, I needed a cover for the album and I knew someone on twitter who draws SF characters fairly well. I asked them if they would be interested in doing a cover for me and the first thing they started talking about was how much they may charge me. First off I told them it was going to a free project for fun not a deep art project of my own creation. But yeah how the fuck can you charge me to draw a character you have to rights to?? You didn't invent RYU or Sagat? 
I wish this was something I'd seen once or twice but it's not, I see it all the time. There's a ton of people out there selling this stuff on ETSY. Like hey cool you made a Mario pin but selling and making money off that without paying the creator is illegal.
One thing like this that really set me off was the youtubers who play games and record them, post them to YouTube and cash in on the ad money. Yes there were people making a living off this. Then YouTube changed the rules saying you can't monetize these videos. Totally makes sense to me. If you created Minecraft and want to monetize the video of the game you have all the rights. What I saw however was people crying that this was unfair. How? How should you get to use something someone else created, make money off it and not pay them anything? 
Movies, music, images, text, all these things are created and owned by someone yet today we feel that we should have free reign on using them AND profiting from them with any consequences. Am I completely out in left field with this I really think not. The reason somebody is buying your Mario pin is because Mario in a Nintendo Icon. Try making your own character and see how it sells? It won't because people aren't buying your work as much as they are buying the original content that was created by someone else. Sure sure this is cool and I'd never try to stop someone from drawing up the Wu symbol or making a cool picture of RYU but should they be able to SELL this as a work of their own? I don't think so. 
Hey I'm just an overly opinionated musician who notices things. Stick around for next time when we go into sampling copywrites full force. Maybe haha. Thanks for reading and leave a comment if it moves you.
 DJ A.I.