Tag Archive: Practical

It turns out some things cannot be copyrighted. If something is seen as utilitarian like food or clothing it cannot be copyrighted –Oddly enough pharmaceuticals that are sometimes needed for people to survive do not fall into this category. So those “Insert brand name here”  jeans that cost you $100 can knocked off tomorrow and that company cannot sue, more on that in a bit.

The RIAA has attempted to crack down on music piracy by suing individual people. Effectively targeting they client of the very industry they claim to be protecting. Piracy isn’t a new thing.When I was growing up there were people who recorded music tracks from the radio and made their own “mix tapes.” In my old neighborhood in LA if you wanted to watch a new movie you would simply go to the laundromat and an older, typically Asian woman, would come around offering you the latest movie blockbusters. On DVD before the industry giants managed it. The internet has just facilitated the process but the question has yet to be resolved. What should we do about copyright? Well before we make a decision we should look at how it effects certain industries. Namely the fashion industry, books, and cinema.


Brandon Sanderson

For those who don’t know Brandon Sanderson he is the current author of the Wheel of Time Series this epic fiction series was originally written by Robert Jordan who died recently. The series has spanned over two decades and Brandon Sanderson became an accomplished author on his own before he took over this amazing series. Now why do I mention all this? Well Sanderson has an interesting article you can read here on a book called Warbreaker. He goes on to say ” I also realize that something Cory says is very true—my biggest challenge as an author is obscurity.” Sanderson approached his publishers and decided to release a complete novel for free. He released it unedited and later on released subsequent versions with edits. Warbreaker is still available to download for free in it’s final version as well as early edits and can be purchased through the regular distribution channels. SInce he did this in 2007 I will attempt to contact Sanderson to see if he will share his sales figures for this book. It would be interesting to see if his gamble paid off? The reviews seem mainly positive as of today on both Amazon –with almost 300 reviews at the time of this article– and Barnes & Nobles –over 350 reviews–

When Robert Jordan passed away the Wheel of Time community was left distraught with the unfinished final novel (later split into three volumes) and a new author was chosen by Jordan’s widow and editor Harriet. Until that point I never hear of Brandon Sanderson and would have purchased one of his books to see what type of author he was. I’m sure he would have sold a lot of books at that point but Sanderson did something interesting he gave away his book Mistborn: The Final Empire. It was the first book in a trilogy that Sanderson was writing. You could download the whole book completely free. I was shocked. I downloaded the book and went on to purchase the remaining two books. At the time of publication of the last book I drove three hours away to get it on the day it was released since I now live in Puerto Rico and most books stores around me simply don’t carry it.

With the Wheel of Time Sanderson has clearly left obscurity behind long ago and is one of the most successful authors in his genre.

Neil Gaiman

I love wimp.com. For those of you who don’t know what that is it’s a site that publishes 5 videos a day. These are generally extremely though provoking, amazing, uber-cute or just outstanding in their own way. Neil Gaiman was featured on Wimp under the video title “Neil Gaiman on copyright piracy and the Web.” Gaiman was initially very upset with piracy of his books on the internet. After a while he notice that the places he would be pirated would actually have higher sales. Gaiman says “You are not losing book, you are not losing sales by having stuff out[ your books ] there.” He goes on to mention various social experiments and discovered, interestingly enough, that 90-95% of people who have favorite authors and buy their book and support them have not purchased the first book that they had read from that author. They may have been lent the book, taken it out of a library or even pirated it. Gaiman sees this as a form of advertising and introducing new readers to his body of work. You can see the full video below.

Neil Gaiman on copyright piracy and the Web.


As I mentioned earlier the fashion industry largely exists without copyright protection. We all know that the industry is not suffering from lack of sales. Nike isn’t in risk of bankruptcy despite the fact that huge companies that spend their days dealing with money like AIG some how need bailouts. The fashion industry is growing. Woman pay more for the handbag than the “expensive” electronics they have kept inside it and let’s not even begin to talk about shoes. Watches fall into the fashion category. You can find watches for $1 maybe even less that will accurately keep time. Yet fashionable watch companies often start the figure for a watch in the triple digits. You can get a similar watch from another company for a fraction of it’s value. The fashion industry has done well to position and market itself and has been able to exist without the restriction of copyright. They don’t have to invest in separate organizations that come after you for buying jeans that are similar to a branded Express pair. They can focus on the thing that matters. The product.  Take a look at this extremely interesting Ted Talk by Johanna Blakley on copyright and the fashion industry for more information.


The movie industry has an advantage over the record industry in “extras” and video quality.

The movie industry has a lot of footage when they release a single film. The have shots from alternative angles, they have outakes that are often funny or interesting in some way, they sometimes shoot scenes that are removed from the theater version and even shoot alternative endings. More commonly they interview the cast about their role and character and even offer directors commentary. Movies are often dubbed over or voiced over in other languages and subtitle tracks are available in every major movie release. All of this makes for a pretty impressive package. When you pirate a movie you often miss out on some of these features. If I love the movie I go out and purchase the DVD. It’s a way of reliving the movie through a perspective.

When it comes to movie quality there have been some pretty significant changes. Initially every movie was reformatted from theater aspect ratio (The ratio of width to height ie 16:9) to the common 4:3 of a television screen. With widescreen monitors and televisions we were able to get a truer cinematic experience. The trend was moving from low clarity on old VHS or video cassettes to DVD to Blueray. Higher and higher definition. Now we can watch movies on smaller devices like cell phone and tablets where file size has become relevant again. You don’t need an extremely large image on a small screen. If you took the time to build a DVD collection it has become outdated when compared to the HD clarity of Blueray and movie resolutions will continue to go up as pixel density increases with products like Apple’s Retina Display. Let’s not even get into 3d versions of a movie. So what are you to do? Invest now or wait?

This is where the movie industry can step in and help. If you already purchased a DVD why would you go out and purchase the same movie again on blueray? As customers become more tech savvy the restriction on resolutions and video formats offered to the end user need to be varied at a reasonable price.The initial purchase should cover all of this and in formats that are not locked down in DRM (digital rights management) that is so secure that it keeps you from watching your own content on different devices. After all when we are purchasing a  movie we are purchasing the right to see that movie in a way we want as long as we do not distribute the movie or make a profit from it’s sale.

What the Movie industry has done so far

One of the best things the movie industry has done is put it’s content online. It is faster and easier to download a movie from itunes than it is to pirate that same movie. Media center devices often offer a way for your to rent or purchase content directly from your remote control. That facilitates a legal way of getting your content in the format you need. What if you already own a movie. If you own a DVD Wallmart and VUDU offers a service that allows you stream a digital copy of the movie via VUDU in Blue-ray resolution for just $5. It’s a much cheaper alternative to purchasing a blue-ray copy of a movie you already own. They also offer a $2 conversion option but I don’t think it’s a good option if you can just convert the movie yourself using programs like handbrake.  The movie industry has now begun to offer digital copies of your movie when you purchase the movie on blue-ray or DVD. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I decided to do some research and although, in theory, it’s great in actuality it doesn’t pan out well.  Lee Rodriguez decided to get a download all the digital copies of various movies he has purchased and found that it’s not as easy as you would think to put a movie on a device he owns. Check out the full article here. I will leave you with his quote

“The high road was blocked. Someone somewhere decided it was more important to make sure I couldn’t put the movie online than it was to make sure I could put the movie on my portable device of choice. Luckily, someone else put it online for me and everyone got a happy ending.”

The problem is the movie, recording, and book industries as-a-whole tend to forget that they are selling to their customers and people who may initially pirate their works are potential customers. Tit for tat doesn’t work. Maybe the rest of the industry can take a page from Brandon Sanderson and Neil Gaiman. If they focused more on the customer than on the pirate the bottom line will fix itself.


Very informative Ted talk. Rory Sutherland’s viewpoint shares the insight information on how money is not always needed to make big changes.

TED: Raise an entrepreneur

Before I saw this talk I was strongly against involving your kids in the economic world at a young age. I thought: How can kids be kids when they worry about money? Turns out I was wrong. If you teach your child how to eat properly you don’t stop them from enjoying junk food every once in a while. The key is a balance. This is sound advice, when added to a good set of morals, can reshape the world we live in.

Whenever you watch a tutorial as long as it’s a supported quicktime 7 format you can watch it up to 3x faster. Quicktime 7 (and earlier version) have an option that kind off works like watching something in fast forward with the sound on. The only difference is that the audio doesn’t have distortion from pitch. Meaning, your tutorials don’t sound like they’re being done by Alvin and the Chipmunks. This is great because you can actually understand what the instructor is saying.

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