G'head, PROVE I Don't Have The Right To Copy Your Work!

As Variety has reported:

U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton's decision against Viacom and in favor of Google and YouTube placed the onus on copyright holders to identify specific instances of infringement and then inform websites to remove the pirated content. If the sites do so promptly, they are shielded from liability.

Today's Copyright Term & Reform Musings

Copyright term is one of the most sacred areas for the film industry at large.  "The longer the better" says the voice from on high, and everyone seems to blindly accept this creed.  I wonder how true this is, particularly for independent and Truly Free filmmakers.  I certainly don't feel this is so for culture in general.  We are definitely being denied participating in a growing wave of remix & mashup work that is particularly interesting and relevant to the world today.

A handful of recent and diverse articles has me pondering.  I very much liked the historical context that was given in Daniel Smith's article in the NY Times Sunday magazine "What Is Art For" on Lewis Hyde.  Among other things, Hynes uses the example of Ben Franklin, who sought no patent on his stove design as he felt they were derived from already common information.  But it was the discussion of art as being a "gift economy" that particularly resonated well for me.  It speaks of 

aboriginal societies in which the person of consequence — the man or woman who is deemed worthy of adulation, respect and emulation — is not the one who accumulates the most goods but the one who disperses them. Gift economies, as Mauss defines them, are marked by circulation and connectivity: goods have value only insofar as they are treated as gifts, and gifts can remain gifts only if they are continually given away. This results in a kind of engine of community cohesion, in which objects create social, psychological, emotional and spiritual bonds as they pass from hand to hand.

Hydes contextualizes creative work well:
Unlike a commodity, whose value begins to decline the moment it changes hands, an artwork gains in value from the act of being circulated—published, shown, written about, passed from generation to generation — from being, at its core, an offering.

This morning BoingBoing's post on Pam Samuelson's Free Culture 2008 lecture then spelled out another reason why we need Copyright Reform.  She cites an article by John Tehranian (download it there) where he demonstrates that in a normal day (without any P2P activity) he potentially violated copyright law 83 times and was liable for $12.5M in fines.  That is in a single day!

Recognizing how Intellectual Property Protection is central to what we do as filmmakers, how do we reconcile these other cultural needs and necessary reforms?