"As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly"

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Belated Turkey Day clip:  One of the funniest TV moments of all-time.

Related: WKRP was probably my favorite show as a kid, though I'm pretty sure my interest started well after the show was canceled, and into syndication.  There weren't enough O's in "cool" to describe Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap. I was a Bailey guy, myself, but Jennifer Marlowe's tight sweaters sure could wreak havoc on a 14-year-old libido. Less Nessman's "walls,"  Herb Tarlek's suits.  Good times.  I nearly cried when Gordon Jump died a few years ago.

So I was pretty bummed when I stumbled across an article in Wired last year describing why WKRP will probably never make it to  DVD.  The reason?  Big Music.

WKRP in Cincinnati was one of the most popular television shows of the late '70s and early '80s, but it is unlikely ever to be released on DVD because of high music-licensing costs.

The show, which centered on a fledging radio station with a nerdy news director and wild disc jockeys, had a lively soundtrack, playing tunes from rock 'n' rollers like Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Elton John and the Eagles.

For many TV shows, costs to license the original music for DVD are prohibitively high, so rights owners replace the music with cheaper tunes, much to the irritation of avid fans. And some shows, like WKRP, which is full of music, will probably never make it to DVD because of high licensing costs.

It sometimes seems like the recording industry actually sits around a table a few times a week to brainstorm new ways to make its customers hate it.

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  1. Bailey was ever so much hotter than Lonnie Anderson.

  2. Bailey was ever so much hotter than Lonnie Anderson.

    I will certainly tip a glass of syrah to that, old boy.

    I must confess that I found Lonnie Anderson somewhat freakish, while Bailey had that accessible “girl next door” wholesomeness that is kind off irresistable. Of course, she would have rejected me, but hey, a guy can dream can’t he?

    I say, Radley, old chap, WKRP not on DVD, you say? What about this?

  3. I find the huge licensing costs unfathomable, since apparently the record labels would rather get nothing for these obsolete properties than get “too little”. Isn’t something more profitable than nothing, or are the artists and labels so rich that the satisfaction of “sticking it” to the TV producers is more important than additional revenue from properties with an ever shrinking customer base?

  4. 1. No question: Bailey was the best.

    2. No question: the record companies are scum. I worked in radio during the days that WKRP was on the air, and I can vouch for the verisimilitude of the show, in spirit if not in all the technical details. Everybody knew a Les Nessman. Everybody knew a “big guy.” Everybody knew a “Johnny Fever” and a Herb Tarlek. Not everybody knew a Jennifer Marlowe or a Bailey Quarters, but I did. Never met a Venus Flytrap, but heard of such dudes. The record companies were all about the dollar, and very few of those dollars actually went to artists or even roadies. It is so hypocritical of them to be whining about copyright and royalties these days. I have no sympathy whatsoever.

  5. I’ve been waiting for Wonder Years DVDs for years, but they’ve been held up for much the same reason. And I’ve had much the same reaction as Bob Smith, above.

  6. I watched KRP a lot when I was a kid but I don’t remember any music. Maybe I was just too young… But I remember the music from Wonder Years very vividly – heck, I got into some of that late 60’s folkie music because of that show.

  7. “one of the most popular television shows of the late ’70s and early ’80s.”

    Hardly. It was a middling success at best. The only time it had decent ratings in its four seasons was when it directly followed M*A*S*H.

  8. Bailey had that accessible “girl next door” wholesomeness

    Yeah, I’d like to “access” her. What? Who said that?

    But really, I was just gonna say that that brunet was quite cute. I guess it’s a wide-spread sentiment. So this must nudges my taste in women a little more toward the normal range.

    BTW, I’ve gone out with this gal a couple times so far that looks strikingly like this cept for looking a little older:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymqlNAbnpOU

    One time I told her “You really look a lot like Joan Jett” and she said “Yeah, lotsa people say that-is that good?” I said “Hell yeah!” (Or something to that affect)

  9. People talk about Tarlics suits, but *all* of them were wonderful caricatures.

    Except maybe bailey:

    http://images.google.com/images?q=jan+smithers+newsweek

  10. BTW, why are the record companies scum for not letting the licensing flow freely, whereas the telecasters were such good guys for exploiting the loophole in soundtrack billing?

  11. seems like the recording industry actually sits around a table a few times a week to brainstorm new ways to make its customers hate it

    Then why do its customers willingly purchase its product? Hate to be the turd in the punchbowl, but this “hatred” you speak of is mostly in the minds of libertarian/anarchist types and third-rate musicians who blame their lack of success on “industry suits” who “won’t let you hear” their music. The recording industry is just like any other: it has its merits and blunders, but it is singled out for scorn because of its pop-culture status. I await the day when you savage 3M for not giving away the licenses to its Post-It adhesive.

  12. Good question, Crid. IIRC, “Moonlighting” faced similar problems, but I suppose they thought the DVD market for that show would be big enough to offset licensing fees. Sometimes the mere logistics of tracking down all the various rights holders is a problem, too.

    Fan interests aside (and while we’re on the subject, why the hell aren’t “Route 66” and “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” out in DVD?!?), the only secondary market WKRP or any other show from that era or before could have hoped for when originally produced was syndication. VHS and DVD markets are an almost complete windfall in terms of expectation interests.

  13. Isaac Bertram: those are “gray market” DVDs from Asia. They are formatted Region 3 and won’t play on a US DVD player.

  14. So it’s Free Markets. Free Minds. as long as we all like the way it works out? I don’t fault the record companies at all for seeking to maximize their profits – that’s why they’re in business.

    The simple fact is, if the people who own the rights to WKRP thought there was a large enough market to cover the music rights and turn a profit, there would be DVDs on the shelves today as they sought to maximize their profits.

    If you don’t like the way it works out, raise the money and by the rights to their music collections and give it all away. I’m sure the good feeling you get will make it worth the investment.

  15. “Hate to be the turd in the punchbowl,”

    If you hate it, then why is it your goal in life? ed, your punch has more than a turd in it. Let’s start off with the libertarian/anarchist types and third rate musicians. Are these the only people who resent a music industry that has bribed and lobbied its way through Washington? Are these the only people who are unhappy that we can’t buy the Wonder Years on DVD? Are these the only people who despise the practice of suing an innovative software company because you don’t have the balls to sue real infringers?

    Your 3M analogy is indicative of your low level of analysis. We are talking about copyright, which is a constitutionally embedded means of promoting more contect, and yet stopping the production of DVDs is a fine example of how copyright is an unecessary impediment to both creating more content and to the free market. Does the Constitution create a special regulatory regime for 3M post it notes? Of course not, ed.

    What is your position on the actors who won’t be receiving royalties because of the record industry? Ted Nugent didn’t make WKRP, people like Frank Bonner did. Yet because of your sacred cow industry, Ted Nugent is stopping Frank Bonner from collecting on his most famous work. Oh, you were saying something stupid about 3M, right?

    Stephen Macklin: which part of “Free Markets” includes government prohibition on creating a product? Is that the bizarro world of free markets? You know, free markets means a lot more than just saying “profits” every other sentence.

  16. contect = content

  17. So I RTFA and, sure enough, “Moonlighting” was mentioned as a counterexample to the, um, problem. As I wrote before, the difficulty lies not in any particular party’s greed (we do believe in self-interest around here, don’t we?) but in the fact that this tertiary market simply didn’t exist when original licenses, etc. were first negotiated. So why should the principle series owners reap all the benefits as opposed to the music copyright holders?

    The same sort of thing happened when TV shows were first syndicated and the actors’ contracts didn’t provide for such residual rights and payments. So, yes, it’s unfortunate, but there aren’t really good guys and bad guys here; it’s just the market sorting itself out. Surely you don’t have a problem with that, do you Mr. Balko?

  18. Lamar: those discs may be from Aisa, but they do not have any stupid region code attached. They’ll play on any machine.

    I lve in Asia, and all the DVD players sold here are multi-region. My cheapo player (came free with the TV) plays my discs from North America, Europe and Asia.

    Now, I’m getting me my copy of WKRP ASAP.

  19. There is a group online that “preserves” WKRP in it’s original form, then makes the episodes available on newsgroups. They are second only to the MST3K Preservation Society for diligence in the face of copyright.

  20. “it’s just the market sorting itself out. Surely you don’t have a problem with that, do you Mr. Balko?”

    Oh no, why would government prohibition on something give Mr. Balko a problem? It’s my understanding he loves government regulation. The copyright industry is NOT a free market. It was created by government regulation, and has been maintained by increasing government regulation. Don’t confuse government intervention, regulation and prosecution with free markets.

  21. I await the day when you savage 3M for not giving away the licenses to its Post-It adhesive.

    For the 3M analogy to apply here, you’d have to assume an artist used Post-It notes to make a stunning work of art which many people admire and would gladly pay money to see, only the artist is forbidden to show anybody his work because 3M refuses to give permission.

  22. Lamar:

    Whatever you mean by free market, most people (including, I think, most here) assume that entails a market for services and goods. The latter entails property which entails law which entails the state. But for copyright there wouldn’t be any market in these things, or at most there would be a very limited one.

  23. Baby – If you’ve ever wondered
    Wondered whatever became of me
    I’m sitting in a vault here at Vivendi
    Because of a retarded license fee

  24. D.A. Ridgley,

    That’s a very long-winded way of saying the government created the market. You can defend it, but you can’t deny that the government created the market and continues to regulate it in a way that we would never approve of for real property.
    When you say, “But for government intervention, there would be no market for copyrighted materials” you pretty much cede my point.

  25. I’m not even sure I understand your point. There is no such thing as intellectual property but for law. I’ll try to be more terse next time.

  26. Oh, and by the way, If you’re going to quote me, do please try to get what I actually said right.

  27. Copyright was created to protect the intellectual property rights of people who create “content.” It did not create the market for “content.”

    And if Mr. Balko wants to complain about how horrible copyright ant the protection of intellectual property is, perhaps he should start by having Reason remove this statement from the bottom of this page:

    ?2006 Reason Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

  28. Correction: Mr. Balko did not in fact criticize copyright law, merely the practice of the music industry in upholding their rights. Over the course of reading the thread I conflated his commentary with those of others who have expressed disdain for copyright protection.

    My apologies to Mr. Balko.

  29. One need not object to copyright to be baffled by the behavior of certain copyright holders. If I owned the copyright to a song featured on WKRP, and somebody wanted to distribute it on DVD, I’d take whatever pittance they offered. Why?

    1) Like somebody said above, getting a pittance is better than getting nothing because it isn’t distributed on DVD.

    2) Letting the show circulate on DVD means exposing more people to the song, and perhaps stimulating interest in the back catalog, the “long tail” that’s becoming more profitable.

    Yes, yes, I respect the right of a copyright holder to analyze the situation differently and refuse to authorize the use of his intellectual property, I would never call for coercion, yadda yadda, void where prohibited, no purchase necessary, must be 18 years or older to read this disclaimer, blah blah blah.

    All that said, I still think that the music industry is being idiotic about this. They may have the right to be idiotic, but that doesn’t make them any less idiotic, nor does it invalidate one’s right to call them a bunch of idiots. Like Radley Balko said, the record company executives standing in the way of a WKRP DVD are doing everything in their power to piss off people without making any more money in the process. Be a jerk if you like, but if you aren’t making any more money as a result, well, maybe you should reconsider.

  30. What thoreau said. Record companies have every right to price themselves out of a market, and we have every right to point at them and laugh at (or bitch about) their stupidity. I can’t find anything in Balko’s post that claims anything more than that.

  31. Thoreau,

    I agree that the record companies are well within their rights to be idiots.

    Clearly they do not see the economic benefit in lowering the price on licensing the music to WRKP.

    Likewise the people who hold the copyright to WKRP don’t see enough value in paying the licensing fees. Likely because they don’t think enough people would be willing to pay the higher cost they would have to charge for DVDs to cover that cost.

    I also don’t doubt that as soon as either side sees an opportunity to cash in by changing their position the DVD’s will be available and individual episodes will be on iTunes.

  32. Yes, Bailey is nice. With glasses on, she reminds me of Little Annie Fanny‘s bespectacled friend.

    A few years ago, I went to San Francisco to see Gary Sandy (Andy Travis on WKRP) perform alongside Ann-Margret in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He was terrific as the sheriff, especially when, as a macho Texas lawman, he had to be seen holding back his tears.

  33. From th U.S. copyright office. – http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#hlc

    A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

    I support copyright protection, but isn’t this just excessive? Maybe till the death of the creator, but another 70 years?

  34. D.A. Ridgley: I am merely pointing out that all this talk about the free markets sorting out which shows are put on DVD is bunk. It isn’t a free market. It is a government (as you say, “law”) created market. Stephen Macklin is the one trying to apply free market principles to a market created and regulated by government (i.e., law), and I’m calling BS.

    And you are painting with too broad a brush. I’m not saying we should do away with copyright. I’m pointing out the excesses and how they frustrate the constitutional purpose for having copyright in the first place. As the WKRP situation demonstrates, copyright can also act as a burden to creating new works. People like Stephen Macklin and ed act like copyright is divine right.

  35. All sorts of DVDs with all sorts of music as part of the programming are released every week. I don’t have any evidence that the music copyright holders are trying to extort unreasonably high payments from the series owners. Does anyone else? More likely, it’s just a question of messy negotiations, difficulty in ascertaining who owns what (rights get transferred all the time) and deciding whether it’s worth it. Again, I point to “Moonlighting,” which used tons of music in its episodes, as an example of a situation in which the parties managed to come to agreement.

  36. It isn’t a free market.

    I repeat that when people in these parts refer to a free market they mean a market in which property rights (including what may be deemed property in the first place) are established by law.

    I don’t even know what would constitute a free market as you seem to be using the phrase. Property, itself, is a function of law. When we speak of free will we don’t mean absolute freedom, either.

  37. D.A. Ridgely:

    I’m sorry that I don’t have time to sort out your conflation of real property and intellectual property. Let’s just say real property has a long, long, long, long history, while intellectual property has a nanosecond history.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes said that property has two integral components, possession and title. I’m sorry, but I can’t see how intellectual property can be possessed.

    Also: Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. -Bastiat

    I’ll bow out now and let you dumb the issue down, and even repeat yourself again.

  38. Forgot to add: in which area of traditional property law does the government extend protection solely because an industry claims that it is losing money? This is free market stuff to you, apparently.

  39. On the bright side, Get Smart complete series is said to be out on DVD and in the mail, bringing my collection of TV shows from zero to approximately where it will forever remain.

    Even my father thought it was funny.

  40. But for copyright there wouldn’t be any market in these things, or at most there would be a very limited one.

    Because, as we all know, nothing of artistic or intellectual value was created and sold before the advent of copyright law.

    Life plus 70 years is the result of particular interests buying influence not of executing the power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” It is a perversion of Congressional power.

    It need hardly be emphasized that life plus 70 is much closer to “for all time” than “limited times.” Most of the people alive when the author of a work dies will themselves be dead before copyright expires.

  41. 3M has already released the formula for post it notes, the patent is available here: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=3691140
    They were patented in 1972, so they are now free for anyone to make without a licence from 3M. That’s why you can buy generic ones.

  42. Oh no, Lamar, by all means please continue to enlighten us with your vast knowledge of property law and ability to clip quotes in support of your failure to see the critical similarities between tangible property (of which real property is a mere subset, oh scholar!) and intangible property. I stand in awe of your erudition.

  43. Isaac Bartram: I’m confused by the link you provided. Is this a scam, a bootleg, or a genuine authorized DVD release after all?

  44. Reason #332459 to do away with copyright

    Bailey was ever so much hotter than Lonnie Anderson.

    I may be the only neanderfuck here, but that makes no sense to me at all. To me Lonnie was the hottest thing since Linda Carter. I guess I can see how some folks might find her too perfect… I guess. But Bailey? She had no figure at all. She might as well have been a boy.

  45. James Kabala,

    See:

    “Lamar | November 26, 2006, 8:10am | #

    “Isaac Bertram: those are “gray market” DVDs from Asia. They are formatted Region 3 and won’t play on a US DVD player.”

    So I guess they’re ripping off both the record labels and the creators of WKRP.

  46. Never mind; I overlooked Lamar’s comment the first time I skimmed this thread. I see it now.

  47. And then I posted my follow-up comment just as Mr. Bartram was posting his. Thanks for bothering to reply.

  48. I’m sorry but I think it’s my turn to call BS. Property and ownership are defined by law, and every transaction resulting in the transfer of property is governed by law. It matters not if it is a house, a boat, a car or a song.

    In as much as we have a free market in anything, we have one in regards to intellectual property.

    As for the life of the author plus 70 years, I have no problem with that. If I were to create a successful piece of intellectual property, I would want to be able to leave the owner ship of that property of my children and grand children.

  49. There’s got to be more to it than copyright intellectualism or music industry greed. As pointed out above, there are many shows (Northern Exposure is another one) that use extensive “source” music and still make it to DVD.

    I’ll bet the owners/producers of WKRP were the greedy (or stingy) ones.

  50. But that IS a very funny clip!

  51. I may be the only neanderfuck here, but that makes no sense to me at all. To me Lonnie was the hottest thing since Linda Carter. I guess I can see how some folks might find her too perfect… I guess. But Bailey? She had no figure at all. She might as well have been a boy.

    If you equate beauty with mammary size, Loni wins hands down. Fortunately, I lack the common obsession wih breast size. Jan Smithers had a prettier face than Loni Anderson, coupled with a VERY sensuos body.

    Also Dawn Wells over Tina Louise. But every man knows that.

  52. As for the life of the author plus 70 years, I have no problem with that. If I were to create a successful piece of intellectual property, I would want to be able to leave the owner ship of that property of my children and grand children.

    Of course creators want right for perpetuity, but it flies in the fact of what was put in the Constitution which was, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Life + 70 is “limited times” in name only (especially because copyrights keep getting extended.

    One of the worst parts of it is that studios live and die off of adaptations of public domain works then pull up the ladder and prevent their works from entering public domain.

    Not to mention, the physical property equivalent of copyright, patents, only last 20 years. You would find a lot of opponents of copyright law evaporate if copyright lasted 20 years instead of 90+. Does it really make sense that if you cure cancer you own it for 20 years, but you hold the right to “I Got You Babe” 70 years after Cher’s death?

  53. The studios could publish the DVDs without the original songs, but with captions saying “Cue [song title and track position]”, akin to what I understand Cameron Crowe did on the Almost Famous DVD when he couldn’t get the rights to a particular (Zeppelin?) song. I have a decent classic-rock library, and would be willing to pause the DVD to retrieve the accompanying music.

  54. Not to mention, the physical property equivalent of copyright, patents, only last 20 years. You would find a lot of opponents of copyright law evaporate if copyright lasted 20 years instead of 90+. Does it really make sense that if you cure cancer you own it for 20 years, but you hold the right to “I Got You Babe” 70 years after Cher’s death?

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  55. “It matters not if it is a house, a boat, a car or a song.”

    You’re calling BS? Get back to me when there is a fair use rule for stealing boats.

  56. we have one in regards to intellectual property.”

    Yeah, and when Mickey was ready to go into eminent domain, Congress extended copyright another 20 years. Blank assertions of a free market don’t mean much, especially copyright lobbyists have been some of the most successful in the last 20 years. Show me a free market with a royalty tribunal. Jeez.

  57. Lamar,

    You want to use my boat? You have to ask nicely. The boat is my property to use as I wish and I get to decide if you get to use it and how. Seems only fair.

    Show me a free market with a royalty tribunal. Jeez.

    Stock photography.

    There are two classes of stock photography. Rights Managed and Royalty Free. If you wish to use a Rights Managed image you pay a premium price based on usage to pay the owner of the rights to that image. If you choose to go with Royalty Free images in which those rights are not involved in the deal you can buy an image for a much smaller price.

    In case you’re wondering – all of the best images tend to be Rights Managed. If you use a RM image without paying for the right to do do, you can face legal.

    As for Mickey Mouse, I fail to understand the issue. Are you concerned that you might not live long enough to make a few bucks off someone else’s creation?

  58. OH PUH-LEEZE
    A song is not a boat. A boat is my property, if you take it, you are denying me my rightful use of it. I can sing your song all day long, I haven’t denied you anything.

  59. If you don’t think the record/movie/publishing companies aren’t doing their best to make sure there NEVER is a public domain again, you’re ludicrously naive.

    There’s no reason for copyrights to keep being extended indefinitely, other than successful rent-seeking by the owner of the copyright.

    Best-case scenario (meaning copyright terms will not be extended any further), means that all media from the electronic age.. sound recordings, films, television shows, etc, will have to sit in the vault for AT LEAST a century before ever going free to the public. But guess what? Film decays in less than a century. So does magnetic tape. So do optical discs. Beyond that, think of all the orphan data formats there are, just in the last twenty years.

    Didya have any old 5 1/4″ Infocom games? Unless you have a machine old enough to match them, or you update their format, you have no way of playing them now.. and DRM is designed to prevent you from ever doing the second, by defining it as “piracy”.

  60. Crid | November 26, 2006, 5:20am | #
    BTW, why are the record companies scum for not letting the licensing flow freely, whereas the telecasters were such good guys for exploiting the loophole in soundtrack billing?

    =====

    Actually, the record companies were scum long before the licensing issue came up; they only continued on with their scummy ways, once this new opportunity presented itself. 🙂

    I have no problem whatsoever, in using the law to make sure that creators get their due. Unfortunately, the mass-entertainment industry — including media such as records/music, movies, and TV — has long engaged in predatory practices and creative accounting that put many a creator in a situation which borders on (and, in my opinion, often crosses the line into) peonage. Televised congressional hearings, in which record and movie company representatives testify as to how their employers are merely trying to get “what is fair” for creators, ought to be labeled in the TV Guide as comedy shows — satires.

    As a Libertarian, I don’t want to see further restrictive law introduced into media. But by the same token, I don’t want to see the media poobahs get laws passed that help them to stick it to creators, most of whom they hold in thrall. It seems to me that people who want to do projects such as a WKRP DVD series should be able to deal directly with the real creators of any intellectual material they use; if they get releases from those parties, the middle-men can take a hike. If some actual creator doesn’t want to release his or her material for whatever reason, that would be unfortunate, but at least it would represent the wishes of the people whose talent and effort actually brought something to this world, instead of those whose only talent is to part rights and wealth away from people of the first type.

  61. No one – not even copyright law says you can’t sing my song all day long. The law does say that you can’t go around saying you wrote it and selling it. Because that does deny me my rightful us of it and the money from the sale of my work.

    Now if I enter into an agreement that gives a good deal of those rights and that money to a record company – because in the end I’ll make more – that is my choice. And if you don’t like the terms set forth by my record company – don’t buy the song. You don’t however have the right to steal it.

  62. biologist, good stuff. One of the best things about Hit and Run is that I find cool websites through it.

  63. One of the worst parts of it is that studios live and die off of adaptations of public domain works then pull up the ladder and prevent their works from entering public domain.

    Exactly. Imagine a world in which an artist had to pay to incorporate images of the Mona Lisa or The Thinker, or had to pay to sample from Beethoven or Mozart, or had to pay to quote Shakespeare or the Bible. Artists borrow from so many sources, taking elements from prior works and mixing them up and tweaking them and adding in something new.

    Ever see those ads where the Mona Lisa has a milk moustache? What if the Shakespeare Estate got to veto adaptations of the plays?

  64. I once designed a trade ad that incorporated a Yin/Yang symbol and our legal department asked if we had purchased the rights to use it!

  65. You can bet that Mark Twain wouldn’t be a world renowned author if current copyright laws had been in place when he died.

  66. CharlesWT | November 26, 2006, 10:20pm | #
    You can bet that Mark Twain wouldn’t be a world renowned author if current copyright laws had been in place when he died.
    ========
    Man, my sarcasm detector just doesn’t seem to be working properly. Are you being facetious? If not, are you saying that Twain’s considerable world renown at the time of his death would have faded into the noise floor by now on account of restrictive copyright law? I just can’t see where you are going with this. Perhaps it is too far past my bedtime…

  67. Yeah Bailey rocks; Loni’s character was a bit cartoonish for my taste, like a Playboy caricature. BTW: the turkey drop is supposedly based on a true incident that happened at a top 40 station in the fifties. Just like in the show (or so goes the story) somebody got the brilliant idea of dropping turkeys from a rooftop or helicopter with the resulting happy hijinks. Details, anyone (Snopes)?

  68. Stephen Macklin:

    You are incorrect about the “right” to sing your song publicly. There is a regime by which royalties are automatically paid. This is not the same as the “right” to sing your song all day long. This is just a financial arrangement/enforcement regime set up by ASCAP/BMI. Also, unpublished works have a different set of rules, though I’m not so clear on that.

    I think we’ve pretty much smashed your attempt to equate traditional property and intellectual property. In IP, I don’t have to ask to use your “boat,” all I have to do is say after the fact that it was a fair use. You don’t have a thing to say about it. It is painfully obvious that you work in an industry that wishes for IP to be more like traditional property, but that just doesn’t make it so.

    Also, you didn’t answer my query about which free markets have a fair use scheme. You answered “stock photography.” Duh, that’s a copyright regime. The whole point of the query was to show you that normal property and intellectual property have fundamental differences that can’t be glossed over. You’re the one trying to conflate real property and intellectual property. Show us a market IN TRADTIONAL PROPERTY (i.e., your boat) that has fair use. Fair Use is there for a reason, and the reason is because IP is NOT a regular property right. It was created in the hopes of making a market for such goods and thereby creating an incentive for their production. Like a stimulus package.

  69. yeah – I was joking about the fair use of the boat thing. I don’t even own a boat.

    I don’t think I have ever actually argued that IP is the same as real property. They are indeed different but they are both property and laws exist to protect the rights of property owners. And laws exist that regulate the transfer of property. Different laws for different properties.

    I wasn’t wrong about you singing my song as you posed it. You didn’t mention that you were going to be doing it in public in which case you might well be limiting my ability to benefit from the sale of my work. (depending on how well you sing!)

  70. [sigh] No one ever argued that intellectual property and other forms of property were identical, Lamar’s continued semantic quibbling aside. They have similarites (e.g., both are classes of property, both exist only by operation of law, Holmes, Bastiat and Lamar to the contrary notwithstanding) and they have differences. No, there isn’t any exact equivalent to the Fair Use doctrine in U.S. copyright law, though one could make a case (I’m not going to bother, it’s too tedious) that real property law carves out similar exceptions to trespass for similar (but, yes, also somewhat different) reasons. You also can’t set fire to song lyrics (as opposed to a copy of the lyrics). Gosh! Intangible things are different from tangible things and the law treates them differently as a result. Imagine that!

    Also, no one is arguing that people didn’t write songs or works of fiction or paint paintings, etc., prior to the advent of copyright law as we know it today. (And, oh by the way, no one here has argued that copyright law as it exists today is perfect, either.) The question isn’t whether some people would contine to create absent such property rights, the question is whether on balance the creation of such rights (and, yes, Lamar, copyright was created — so was the law of real and personal property) is preferable to their absence. I think the answer is undoubtedly that it is and that we can quibble about what such rights should be, etc.

    Beyond that, and especially regarding the silly logomachy this thread has devolved to, I have nothing to add.

  71. I fought the strong copyright lobby during my fellowship at the OMB (in the context of the drafting of the White Paper on Intellectual Property). And the strong copyright lobby won. Needless to say 🙂

    In my view, copyright and other intellectual property protections are a net good thing, but the problem is that Congress and the courts have turned the protection up to an “11”. A more appropriate setting would probably be a “6”. I’m particularly concerned about the diminishment of fair use–especially in the digital domain–and the gutting of the concept of “limited times” in recent years for copyright. Friggin’ Disney.

  72. I usually hate it when comedy shows have “very special episodes” but the KRP episode where Venus explained why he walked away (deserted) from the Army after his Vietnam tour was one of the best written scripts I can remember. The look on Gordon Jump’s face, a mixture of pity and horror and understanding, was better acting than I expected from the Big Guy.

  73. “[sigh] No one ever argued that intellectual property and other forms of property were identical, Lamar’s continued semantic quibbling aside.”
    +
    “Property and ownership are defined by law, and every transaction resulting in the transfer of property is governed by law. It matters not if it is a house, a boat, a car or a song.”

    Let’s just gloss over the fact that we’re trying to make copyright more like traditional property, and when someone objects, we’ll just call it semantic quibbling. Then we’ll all acknowledge that they are apples and oranges and going on living in bliss. Then we’ll highlight how real property and IP are legal constructs, and ignore the 2,000+ year history of real property law (See the Bastiat quote, I’m not holding my breath for a response) and make it look like copyright has a long venerable history. We will never admit that property law was created enforce rights in a market already in existence while copyright arose out of the desire to create a market.

    “The question isn’t whether some people would contine to create absent such property rights, the question is whether on balance the creation of such rights (and, yes, Lamar, copyright was created — so was the law of real and personal property) is preferable to their absence.”

    C’mon. Don’t dumb this down. Nobody is advocating getting rid of copyright. Of course having copyright is preferable to not having it. If you can’t rebut my arguments, at least have the decently to create an interesting straw man. BTW: you also assume property rights were created by law when the law was created to avoid conflicts that arose from “private” enforcement of such rights.

    I find it infinitely amusing that you would characterize a dispute about law as logomachy. Duh. What do you think law is? A blimp pilot? Unfortunately, the words we argue over have real world implications. For example, when you confuse real property with intellectual property, you bring a lot of baggage that was never intended to be a part of IP in the first place. IP laws are intended to create a market, and Congress oversees those markets, and manages those markets. Real property, on the other hand, is almost purely a state law construct, and a common law construct.

    Finally, please go ahead and make your case about fair use analogs in real property law. It will save me time. Start with easements. We all know that an easement to inaccessable land has nothing to do with propping up market values.

  74. “In my view, copyright and other intellectual property protections are a net good thing, but the problem is that Congress and the courts have turned the protection up to an ’11’.”

    I’ve typed over 1,000 words trying to say exactly this.

  75. Great clip.

    Now find the classic clip where Fever and Venus drink on the air and a highway patrolman gives them periodic sobriety tests. The patrolman freaks out as Fever’s reaction time improves with every drink.

  76. ralphus,

    Good call. That was another good scene.
    I would also like to see the one where Venus explains the structure of an atom as a gang turf war.

  77. highnumber | November 27, 2006, 12:27pm | #
    ralphus,

    Good call. That was another good scene.
    I would also like to see the one where Venus explains the structure of an atom as a gang turf war.
    =======
    Oh, you mean the fable of the “New Boys” and “Pros” vs. the “Elected Ones.” Yeah, I liked that one, too, but I always thought they should have supered a title over that scene at fade-out: “Make a difference in a young person’s life. Teach.” Or “Education. The Anti-Drug.”

  78. highnumber | November 27, 2006, 12:27pm | #
    ralphus,

    Good call. That was another good scene.
    I would also like to see the one where Venus explains the structure of an atom as a gang turf war.
    =======
    Oh, you mean the fable of the “New Boys” and “Pros” vs. the “Elected Ones.” Yeah, I liked that one, too, but I always thought they should have supered a title over that scene at fade-out: “Make a difference in a young person’s life. Teach.” Or “Education. The Anti-Drug.”

  79. I see the server squirrels yet live, despite assertions to the contrary. Or perhaps they have been replaced with hamsters.

  80. BTW, why are the record companies scum for not letting the licensing flow freely, whereas the telecasters were such good guys for exploiting the loophole in soundtrack billing?

    I’m going off memory of both the show and my record collection, but most if not all of the music on the show was from CBS Records releases, and since the show aired on CBS it was probably considered a good thing rather than exploitation of a loophole. Now that the record label and the TV show are owned by different entities, it’s not so easy.

    I also suspect 2 things (which is also holding up the release of the first season of SCTV) – 1) there are so many rights holders to get a hold of that it takes a looooong time to get a hold of them even if getting their permission would take a total of 60 seconds – it takes a person or people to be paid to track those folks down and there has to be a payoff at a forseeable point to make it worth that effort even if the rights eventually cost $0.00; 2) it could be just one person out of 200 copyright holders that wants piles of cash for some reason. (Funny that when someone does that with physical property the government will just take it for the developer. Which is why there is such a desire for “intellectual property” – because the government appears to have more concern for it than physical property.)

    Again, this has little to do with price gouging by rights holders and everything to do with Congress’ defacto repeal of the Constitution.

  81. “Congress’ defacto repeal of the Constitution.”

    Which part, the First Amendment?

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