Quote of the Day: Banksy on Advertising

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

– Banksy, via Jack of Kent.

And while we’re on the subject, here’s Bill Hicks on Marketing:

The Chinese Domain Registration Scam

Today, the following email turned up in my inbox:

Dear Manager,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration and dispute internationally in China and Asia.
On February 24th 2012, We received Tianhua Ltd’s application that they are registering the name ” pulpmovies ” as their Internet Keyword and ” pulpmovies .cn “、” pulpmovies .com.cn ” 、” pulpmovies .asia “domain names etc.., they are China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so we are sending you this email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark, In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

Best Regards,

General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951
Fax: +86 216191 8697
Web: http://www.ygnetwork-ltd.com

I’ve seen mails like this mentioned elsewhere and I am well aware that this is a scam. The way it works is that they expect me to email them back to “protect my brand” at which point they inform me that the only course of action open to me is to open my wallet and register all the possible Chinese and Asian domains myself.

This isn’t going to happen and I won’t be responding to General Manager John at all. But I would love to see what happened if Robin Cooper, author of The Timewaster Letters, laid his hands on an email like this one.

Meta: Categories

Observant watcher(s) of this blog may have noticed a slight category change recently. Under the Ranting category there used to be a category of rants filed under Copyright, Patents and Trademarks. This has now been split out into three separate categories: Copyright, Patents and Trademarks.

The reason for this split is that clarity matters. Copyright, patents and trademarks are different constructs with different histories and different reasons for existing. Consequently, the issues that stem from each are different. When these issues are clumped together, the result is invariably an unholy mess of confusion and, ultimately, bad legislation. Like ACTA.

There are a variety of issues that need to be worked through with regards to these things, and a whole range of questions that need to be resolved. We will never be able to build a consensus, however, if we can’t even agree what we are talking about.

Celebrating control

Yesterday was World Intellectual Property Day which the World Intellectual Property Organisation has dedicated to, among other things:

[increasing] understanding of how protecting IP rights helps promote creativity and innovation;

Here’s an example:

In the 1930s an audio engineer named William Savory made a lot of high-quality recordings of live jazz performances of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, Coleman Hawkins and others. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the collection after Savory died.

Steven Seidenberg of the ABA Journal reports that “jazz experts were stunned,” by the recordings. “The extent and quality of the Savory collection was beyond anything they had imagined.”

Unfortunately, we will probably never get to hear the recordings, thanks to current copyright laws.

The copyright system, as it currently stands, is broken and badly in need of reform. It doesn’t protect creators, nor does it promote innovation – instead it works to keep the control of creative work in the hands of a small cabal of monopolies. Rather than celebrating a broken system, we should be taking a serious look at what we want IP laws to achieve and how they need to change to meet these aims.

As a first step, Leo Loikkanen (via Glyn Moody) has put together a World Sharing Day manifesto – completely open and editable, of course – although the inital deadline for changes will probably have passed by the time you read this.

But do go read it. If nothing else the document provides an excellent basis to start talking about what we do want copyright (and it’s related licences) to achieve.