Since I feel really strongly about all these subjects and they all recently made the news in the past few week, here’s a rant from Ben!
Let me preface this with some information. When I was younger and was making a hard effort in wanting to become a comic book artist, I was mentored by a man who used to be a comic book inker and penciler. His name was Wayne Howard, and he was a mentor, a second father, and all around friend and he has been missed since his unfortunate passing a few years back. Wayne was a very humble man, but he taught me more than just how to ink a comic page; he told me how the industry worked.
Now, he worked back when artists got paid per the page, and the going rate was around $20 or so a page. Doesn’t seem like much, especially to live in NYC, even back in the 70’s, so Wayne always told me “Draw a page a day, every day.” and told me about how he finished pages during thanksgiving at his in-laws. What’s more is, up until the year he died, whenever the Marvel Team-Ups issues he drew with Gil Kane were collected and re-released, or the Charlton Horror collection he did was collected and re-released, he still got residual checks. He made a comfortable living as a graphic designer after leaving comics in the 80’s, but those checks were still money.
Now that I’ve prefaced this post, shall we begin? I’m not a totally hardline, traditionalist when it comes to Intellectual Property Rights. Now, I do believe it SHOULD exist, but at the same time the past model for the past 100 years isn’t meant for the internet. Nor should it. Neil’s a bit more moderate than I am, but I understand his point. A few months back, I showed up on the Webcast Beacon Newscast, and the topic of ‘reviewtainment’ was broached by the show’s host. (here is the episode for the majority of our listeners). Marcus, another guest of the show, said that ‘reviewtainment’ is, and I quote, “Creative output by non-creative people by riffing on an existing piece of media”.
Honestly, I couldn’t put it better myself. Now, when someone does a traditional style review where they take 3-4 minutes to talk about something as an overall impression/recommendation, that’s one thing. Reviewtainment, on the other hand, moves outward to what I always call ‘video walkthroughs’, where the percentage and importance of the related content shown is amazingly high, with the segment going upwards past 20 minutes.
Honestly, this is far beyond what Fair Use covers. You can’t show something in it’s entirety and then go “And this is my opinion” at the end and claim Fair Use. The team of MST3K always went out of their way to purchase licenses. In fact, that very team recently did a kickstarter solely to purchase a license to Twilight, just to riff it. It’s not surprising the majority of Reviewtainment people are on Blip versus Youtube.
Blip is a sinking ship. Their web traffic is way down. Those few people that actually counted on Blip as a feesible revenue stream are now looking outward to that sinking ship and decided to blame…. AdBlock. Currently, I’m a web designer, so I know a few things about the web based on having to work in it and checking/ensuring site cross compatibility. Adblock isn’t available in IE, which still has the bulk marketshare of all browsers. In fact, adblock is on less than 10% of all web browsers that view online videos. If your online business model can’t account for a 10% loss, then there’s more problems with the business that turning off adblock can’t fix. WHat’s more is I see people defending this statement, stating that people using adblock are stealing content. Stealing content from content thieves. Honestly, I don’t see the problem. To make it clear, when Red Letter Media had a part of their Revenge of the Sith review taken down, the guys in charge of RLM admitted to consulting a lawyer who told him there was no way to challenge it. The review has since been restored when LucasFilms decided to drop the matter. But the thing to keep in mind is RLM now exists based entirely on the good will of a few content holders. Not exactly a place you want to be if you’re trying to monetize.
This leads us to the final part of this nasty news pyramid. Nintendo is now making money off every Let’s Play video on Youtube using their video game footage. They aren’t issuing system wide takedowns, or suing LP’ers… they’re just redirecting those that monetize their youtube accounts to their pockets instead. Honestly? Not too broken up on this one. You can’t simply say ‘Screw the corporations!’ and ‘It’s ok to steal from someone big!’ Just by the fact that an entity is big doesn’t automatically mean their rights are trumped by a smaller entity’s. IP isn’t something so simple that can be defined by internet guys. As always, if you have questions, consult with an intellectual rights lawyer.